Thursday, May 23, 2013


My writing partner wrote a "research report" back about 1990 for someone else’s book. They didn’t use much of it, and some of what they eventually published went astray as a result. It falls within an area that has been mythologized, so a critical approach to documentation was not within their comfort zone. A historian should make people uncomfortable if the true story warrants it.

We’re using that 1990 research paper as the basis for the last chapter of volume one. But perspective changes with time. We have a new approach to the same material, grown out of further research and a clearer view of who and what these people were. But the basics are the same. Pour three men, each of whom thought themselves "God’s mouthpiece," (one of them used that phrase, which seems to me to be very presumptuous.) with differing views into a small bowl, add doctrinal difference, stir vigorously, and bake for a year. You have drama. Drama makes for fun history.

The historian’s trick is to turn it into an accurate, meaningful story. And that, dear heart, is not at all easy.

Readership on our public history blog has jumped. I suppose we’ll have to give it more attention than we have. We’ve picked up new blog ‘followers’ and some regular readers. We were noticed on two controversialist sites. The comments were nice. An interesting effect of telling an accurate story is that we’ve gotten "fans" from both the pro and anti perspectives. One – I’m not sure how to describe him – Maybe as semi-anti? Disgruntled? – man emailed me. It was a fairly long email, but the one point that stood out was that if the primary descendant religion has told as detailed and frank story, he might not have been nearly upset as he became. Another person emailed one of us and said that we’d confirmed his belief that he had "the truth." And yet another said we’d undermine this harmful religion.

People will take away from our work what they want. We can’t help that. Our goal is to tell an accurately story. An honest story. We don’t care what you believe or what you take away from what we write. We can’t control, improve, or guide our readers’ thought processes, and not everyone who reads what we write is rational. Experience shows us that.

I’m really not doing well at all. I seriously need summer break to start. It’s not far off now. The last of my lower grades classes is this week. Middle-High School classes continue through first week in June. Because of changes to state law, all my high school classes go away next year – at least until the decide what really applies to us. The state simply refuses to clarify issues, mostly because they don’t know themselves. So I’m teaching all lower grades classes (2-3 and 4-6 combined classes, five of them.)

My semester review went well. (They always do, but I worry. It’s in my nature to worry.) The principal observed that after school or at lunch break students of all ages flock around me. He says that happens with none of the other teachers. I like my students, mostly. There are a few that are not what they should be, and we expelled two of them from the program during the year. Being smart is not the same thing as being civilized.

Knobby Knees is stressing over a major project. This started as someone else’s mess. He’s trying to fix bad stuff. We both need a vacation.

Right now, I need coffee. Be back in a few …


So, instead of going off to teach 12-14 year-olds this afternoon, I’d rather slip into my warm, feeted-jammies and snuggle a pillow. That’s exactly what I’m going to do as soon as I return home. I’ve had three days off from my "other job." It hasn’t been enough and I work two 12 hour shifts this weekend. I hate it when that happens. At least for part of the night I can vegetate. Not much happens from 2:30 to 6 am.

I’m just really worn out.

My oldest sister wants to take Annie and Kat to Belgium when she returns in June. I suppose I’ll let them go. It would be a nearly four week trip. I have mixed feelings over the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

From Oc. Reader


There used to be a family near us, Mr and Mrs P, who made home movies. Those were the days of 8mm film, which you stuck together with sticky tape and put through a machine that whirred away to cast a flickering light on a sheet pinned to the wall. They once invited us around and out of the blue announced they were going to give us a REAL TREAT – a film of their most recent vacation.

From the equipment and impedimenta, it appeared to be about twenty reels long, and judging from the first one we saw was likely to feature Mrs P cavorting about in a less than flattering swimsuit, displacing vast quantities of ocean as she repeatedly plunged in for the benefit of Mr P’s camera. After about five minutes the bulb blew. Mr. P did not have a spare. It was the answer to a silent prayer.

I am mindful of that when I consider writing about our vacation. Who on earth wants to know about someone else’s vacation? The scenery was nice, the weather was so-so, the food and drink put us in a contented frame of mind – and after seven days no doubt we will go home to reality a lot poorer financially than when we went away. End of story.

Actually, now I’ve started, I could do a little promotional for the area. We are near Tintagel in North Cornwall. It is all very dog friendly. All the pubs have bowls of water and dog treats on the counter. Nearly all the shops are similar. It is canine heaven. Of course, if you don’t like dogs, and don’t want to be tripped up by assorted dog leads with mutts on the end of them every time you venture out of doors, it may not be the place for you. But daughter and son in law have Muttley (not its real name) and this is their fourth excursion into this area. They were really keen to show us the sights, so we came along.

This vacation has been really necessary. My elderly mother needs constant care, which we have provided with carers and sitters and all sorts of support services. But we made a fatal mistake – several months ago we made a small request: could the carers be granted another fifteen minutes to help with proper feeding? It was as if World War Three had broken out – a three ring circus promptly ensured, involving nurses and social workers and interminable meetings and interminable "action plans" spread over two months. Social workers seem to work on the basis that everyone is a villain, that family and friends are the worst, and everyone is guilty of the most heinous intentions, until proven innocent – and even then... It seems to go with the territory, but there have been some dreadful scandals in the UK causing professional heads to roll, so one can understand. Except when it’s your life turned upside down just trying to get the best care for an elderly parent. Only on the day before our vacation started was it finally sorted out. We’ve paid for someone to sleep at my mother’s home while we are away, so with that and the four calls per day we have been able to go away, and for the first time in several years not worry overmuch.

So we walked, we talked, and we slept. Then we sang, played Trivial Pursuit and yes – slept again. We visited the fishing village of Port Isaac and watched them filming an episode of a British series called Doc Martin. At odd moments I wrote several pieces for different things, and finally sorted out my laptop desktop. Mrs O says that my computer desktop is even worse than my office. My office is the room where we have to keep the door shut whenever we have visitors. Only once have I been caught out when someone Skyped me, and unthinkingly I answered to find myself looking at my unshaven self in the corner of the screen with a visual illustration of "chaos theory" behind me. But you can actually see a bit of a pattern behind the rows of icons on the computer desktop, and my key files are safely backed up in case the laptop goes to that great scrapheap in the sky.

So – highlights? One was the reminder that it is a small world sometimes, even amongst a religious fellowship of 140,000 and an island like the British Isles. We attended a meeting at a place we’d never been anywhere near before. This particular event encourages audience participation – but when I waved my hand, I was called upon by name. Uh? How on earth did the guy know who I was? When Mrs O had the same experience, the penny dropped – we might be in Cornwall now, but we’d been with this person at a disastrous wedding in Liverpool of all places a couple of decades before. (That’s another story). And then I turned around and – well, love me tender and call me Elvis – there was a relative I hadn’t spoken to for decades!! Well, not exactly a relative, but this man’s brother is married to the sister of the man who was my mother’s second husband... I reminded him of this and he looked puzzled...

Another highlight has been earlier this evening visiting a folk club at a place called Boscastle. Now I like going to folk clubs on holidays. It means I can sing from my limited repertoire, content that the crowd have not heard it all before. I can also try out things I wouldn’t dare try out at home. If they are a disaster – a not infrequent happening – then I never have to see those people again. And anyway, unlike the religious connections, these people won’t ever remember me from Adam, so who cares.

I could tell you what I sang. Hmmm. I could... But... now with a glass of Blossom Hill red at my elbow and just one more day to go before returning home to reality, recollections are turning sort of vague. Hence – at this point I guess I can go full circle on this post, and state metaphorically that the bulb has broken.

And I don’t have a spare.

Aren’t you glad!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is too long for the comment trail on the previous post.

Let me address several points. First, I’m not against living by Bible standards. I did not suggest that this religion was wrong in encouraging its members to live a life of submissive faith. The issue for me is found in the question: “To whom do we owe obedience?” The men in this video believed she owed obedience to them. Our obligations to clergy are (as outlined in the Bible) quite limited.

The suggestion that I am judging an entire religion on the basis of two men in the video is false, and I think you know it is. You forget that my mom was baptized when I was twelve and we attended for maybe two years prior to that. Somewhere on this blog I’ve detailed an entire series of negative experiences with “elders.” The latest was a visit to my house by two elders who wished to control the subjects I teach and the fiction I write. Sound familiar? I won’t elaborate on that, but needless to say I am not a Witness and never was one, though in submission to my mother I attended regularly until I was of age and off to college. I attend irregularly now.
My experiences with your elders is not entirely negative, but largely so. I have a short list of “good elders.” Some of those are relatives. Some are just old men that treated me as if I were their own child and protected me from abuse on the part of their fellows. But in the main my experience has been very negative.

Some of you may ask, “Well, what did she do?” My answer is nothing. I dressed modestly. I didn’t kiss the boys, didn’t spread rumors, didn’t do anything but faithfully attend with my mother and ask an occasional question, most of which were treated as unwelcome intrusions.

So, while I appreciate your desire to defend a religion you cherish, you are wrong to suggest that I base what I’ve said on one example. I don’t believe much differently than you when it comes to the basics. But I reject self-entitlement no matter where it’s found, and in my experience it characterizes many of your elders. There is an underlying sense of power and control. Remember that one of you emailed my uncle early on asking him to “control” me? You know who you are. I don’t think either one of us has forgotten that. And while I like you, this is a good illustration of what elders among you do. It’s seldom about faith and often about control.

I don’t think your religion is “false,” though you would certainly characterize mine as such. I think there are many among you who are true saints in the Biblical sense. But you have an out of control clergy, untrained, and more often at a loss or unprepared than malicious.  The Bible suggests that Christians should be prepared. These men were not. Explain why. And explain why that seems to characterize the majority of elders among you. I no longer have Bible discussions with your elders. I do discuss the Bible with a few older women who visit regularly. They knew my mother or other family members. They’re always welcome. They do not fear questions or detailed analysis, and if they do not know something will research it and come back. This is a poignant contrast with some of the elders in this city.

If not for a series of aggressively nasty behaviors from your elders, I may have continued to attend, even if I found some of your exegesis irrational.

I would not hurt any of you for the world. I like it that you come here, and I’m very sympathetic to you personally. It is hard to study the Bible. Some things are hard to understand. Its moral standards are high and sometimes meeting them is difficult.

I am not pleased that some of what I’ve written here has been redefined in a comment or two in ways I did not (obviously did not) intend. And though I like my visitors, altering what I’ve said (and ignoring previous discussions) is a poor debating technique. It is also unkind. And it is an avoidance mechanism.

I also don’t blame the couple for their hidden camera. I think they knew very well what these men were like and needed a good record of it. As I understand it, this couple did not post the video. Someone else did. It is not the Christian way to presume the worst possible motive. Yet, that’s what some of you have done.

I did not say anyone had the wrong religion. I said that the structure, behavior and training given to this religion’s clergy is inadequate and leaves the gate open for abuse. Elders should be the servants of the congregations they serve. I’m sure some are. But some of them have the sense that they’re God’s special representatives empowered to the point that their personal opinion is a divine revelation.

If you are honest, you will admit that you’ve met elders exactly like that, Elders who confuse their personal preferences, feelings and opinions with God’s own. Some who do that are really nice guys. The problem is they think in parallel with the Bible on most issues, and because of that they think their thoughts are guided by God or holy spirit. To the word and to the attestation! That’s what the Bible says. It does not say, “What ever you think, that’s the way it is.”

God curse them ....

I had my attention drawn to a youtube video. It shows two clergyman (they would deny being such, but that’s what they are) visiting an author to convey their personal upset at her book. They do this using the excuse that “a couple of sisters” were upset at the book. If you claim to be a Christian, you should live by what the Bible actually says. These men lied. They could not point to a specific person who was upset, other than themselves.

They read scriptures, but they express personal opinion in place of the verse’s content. They violate two key scriptures. They are out of line. This is typical of this religious society. They are not, in any sense, Christians. They are self-appointed dictators. No matter what the nature of this woman’s book, its contents do not fall within their province. In actual fact, this is a fairly tame book. What would they do with Laurel K. Hamilton's books!?

This is a prime example of self-appointed, self-anointed, dictatorial, opinionated apostasy from the Bible’s standard for Christian pastors. This, is mere officiousness. If they have an issue, they should have been presented it as their own. Bloody liars.
This illustrates in a minor way why I do not fellowship with this group. Their pastors are in general anti-intellectual dictators.

... also, do not make fun of my uncle's last name. It's simply not allowed.

.... also, also ... don't pick a fight with me over this. I'm angry as heck and if you think you'll get anything else but anger from me over this, you are mistaken. I'll post the video. So shut up and take it like a man....

The video was up long enough for anyone who wanted to see it to view it. My final comments are: 1. These men meet no acceptable level of training as ministers. 2. They express their own opinions in the guise of scripture and finally appeal not to the Bible but to a publishing society. 3. They protect others from the scrutiny to which they're subjecting this couple. 4. One of them admits to only skimming the book, and the issue for him isn't really the books contents but that she had the gall to write one in the first place. 5. They hesitate to agree to a valid biblical point made by her husband. 6. They're undereducated, uncaring bloody fools who have to business claiming to represent God when they clearly only represent themselves and a publishing society.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

To sleep, perchance to snuggle ....

I’m about to take a nap before work. I spent most of the day washing clothes and fixing my computer. I should know better than visit Pakistani news sites. A Trojan ‘bout killed my computer. But I’m back in business. The worst bit was when I discovered all my zipped files were dead and that I couldn’t download from email. But … it’s fixed. I feel better.

I didn’t get any writing done. Not a sentence. I have an extra day off this next week; I’ll push to finish my part of chapter 7. My WP is supposed to finish a biographical sketch for the same chapter. Then we put the separately written pieces together. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

I have two classes tomorrow. The both stress me but for different reasons. Still, if I am one of those who are laid off because of program changes, I’ll really miss it. I think I won’t reapply for any jobs with the school district. I think I’ll try to get on at one of the local colleges. We’ll see.

Anyway. … Ton needs to get well. Occ says so too. I need to sleep. And that’s where I’m going right now.

If Annie grows up and lives in her mommy's world

or a new view of kissing. ....

Friday, May 03, 2013

Goat boy and Pixie - Vienna Bronze - About 1915

The Goat Boy in his Lair

I’m back to workin’ on Chapter Seven, but my mind is on other things. … Like the tall, knobby-kneed man working in his room upstairs. I can tell that I’m either going to have to disturb him soon, tie him to the bed post and have my way with him, or I won’t get much work done.

Anyway, back to chapter seven. This is one of those chapters that has had endless permutations. It started as something called "They Appeared to be Pillars" and was a working paper profiling principals in the movement. I think an early version of that is on our public history blog. As a chapter in the book, it’s a failure. We divided it into three parts. Part one became chapter five, Meeting the Principals: Russell’s Entry into the Barbourite Movement. Part two has gone into a chapter, as yet untitled, that profiles new workers in the movement and establishes their place within it. The third part is chapter seven.

In this chapter we consider several key players who came into the movement in 1877 or after. It’s largely biographical. I think this is the best approach; otherwise we break up narrative with biography. Sometimes we have to do that, but I like to avoid that where possible.

One of my WP’s friends was in Boston and he and his wife photocopied a mass of original papers. They are a bit disjointed and we’ve stirred through them numerous times. I’m catching up on odds and ends of things, adding bits and explanations. I think we need to change the original outline. There is a more rational order for these biographies. I also need to get up to Bruce’s and snag his photo of one of these characters and have it professionally scanned.

Be back in forty minutes or so…

Satyr by HasaBattle

Back … with nearly burned toast and strawberry jam and coffee. Don’t you wish you had some?

Some things puzzle me no end. For instance, the Methodists tossed out a Mr. Adams forbidding him to preach. Now, obviously, the limit of their authority was to forbid him to preach as a Methodist. So … Mr. Adams went off to the Odd Fellows’ Hall and preached there representing the Barbourites. The Methodists went nuts, treating him as if he were still somehow under their authority. This does not seem quiet sane.

Annie: [Thumping into the house, almost throwing here school books on the floor, deep frown on her face] MOM! Where are you MOM!?

Me: In my work room …

Annie: [Thumps into room, still frowning, near tears. Climbs onto my lap, laying her head on my chest.] I hate Chuckie Dwinell [she whispers] and I hate Mrs. Tupperman.

Me: [Patting her hair and making soothing noises] What happened, dear?

Annie: Mr. Ugly-face Chuckie said he was going to kiss me …

Me: Oh? And what did you do?

Annie: I told him if he got his ugly face anywhere near mine I’d kick his knee-caps off. Mrs. Tuperman heard me say it. She took us into her office.

Me: And …?

Annie: She made us tell the whole story and Pimple nose Chuckie lied. But Mrs. Tuperman made him say what he did. She called his mom and he’s on a three day in-school suspension.

Me: [Nods, pats Annie’s back.]

Annie: She made me say sorry for saying I’d kick his knee caps off. … Mom, I’m not sorry. Why did she make me say sorry?

Me: She didn’t try to call me?

Annie: [shakes head]

Me: Well, then, I imagine it was to keep you out of more trouble than you were in. … Adults do that sometimes, even if it isn’t exactly honest.

Annie: [Looking up] Do we have graham crackers and frosting?

Me: I think we do …

Harry on Kissing

So you couldn't find an appropriate photo of two lovers kissing? How about this one? I also have included a few quotations that I found interesting. Kisses, Harry

You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss. ~Herman Hupfeld "As Time Goes By"

Soul meets soul on lovers' lips. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

I kissed my first girl and smoked my first cigarette on the same day. I haven't had time for tobacco since. ~Arturo Toscanini

Stolen kisses require an accomplice. ~Just One Fool Thing After Another: A Cowfolks' Guide to Romance

If you are ever in doubt as to whether to kiss a pretty girl, always give her the benefit of the doubt. ~Thomas Carlyle

Were kisses all the joys in bed,

One woman would another wed.

~William Shakespeare, Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, IV

It takes a lot of experience for a girl to kiss like a beginner. ~Ladies Home Journal, 1948

A kiss seals two souls for a moment in time. ~Levende Waters

Her kisses left something to be desired... the rest of her. ~Author Unknown

A man had given all other bliss,

And all his worldly worth for this,

To waste his whole heart in one kiss

Upon her perfect lips.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

A kiss is the upper persuasion for a lower invasion. ~Author Unknown

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. ~Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Mostly stuff ...

Mostly just stuff. …

So, one of the von Zech family sent us a booklet published by Otto in 1892. Tucked inside are some study notes. The handwriting impresses me as delicate. There is no name on the paper. Interesting though.

I’m reading through that sermon manuscript I mentioned yesterday for the bazilionth time. The person who transcribed it notes his name on the top of the first page. With the rest of this, I’ve read that name over and over. … without it clicking. Today, my brain made an almost audible click. "Transcribed by Charles E. Barnes," it says.

C. E. Barnes …. Charles Elizur Barnes. We met him before, you see. He was chairman of a Second Adventist (AC and L and A U) conference held in Worchester in early 1872. Barnes was a disaffected believer. Eventually he’d become an Episcopalian priest. So he was a "hot choice" on the part of the Methodist authorities who sent him to monitor this sermon. He knew the doctrine and the person who stood behind it. He was not sympathetic and would mark every deviation from standard doctrine. Cool beans!

My cute, shape-shifting goat-boy sometimes a dragon pet Scot is home today. He’s hiding out in his workroom looking at "site plans," what ever they are. Looks like a bunch of railroad tracks gone wrong, if you ask me. Eventually, sometime before all the girls get home, I’ll have to go sit on his lap and whisper sweet nothings into his ear, or something like that. Did I ever mention that he’s a good kisser? Prolly did, huh.

I tried to find a picture to illustrate the above paragraph, but all I found are pretty much x-rated and while they may be an accurate representation would shock my more conservative readers. One even made me say, "oh, my …" So … sorry. No cute pixie and goat-dragon-boy picture today.

I’m not happy in any sense over our invitation only history blog. I don’t know why people who do not like the direction our research is taking stay on as readers. I do not like dealing with the personality defects of some of our readers. Fortunately, I have the delete button on my screen, and I’m not afraid to use it. One of the rules is that readers do not give their password or access to anyone else. Guess what? Yup, so he was gone the first day he used the site. Blogger tells us when you lie about where you are, and signing on with an email address that gives you a different name than the one you’ve given us is … well … a very bad idea.

I believe the man I deleted this morning was a troll, a plant sent by someone whose name you might know. This is unethical and dishonest. Don’t email me and protest. It’s what I believe, and I’m aware the evidence is thin. In my experience, this borderline dishonesty characterizes the group of nine (or is that eight?) to which this man belongs.

It has been over a month since my WP wrote to a certain tract society, answering their questions and sharing material with them. I do not expect an answer, and I will be shocked if he gets one. I put my little size two and a half down and told him no more sharing with people who feel free to disrespect us and our work, who feel free to take it and use it as if it were theirs. There will be no more sending of anything, even photocopies until they fix their attitude and deal with that old man with some respect. None. Nothing. No how.

I suppose that if you see yourself as a pope of some sort, you might feel free to mistreat those beneath your dignity. …

I have a Class A headache from reading bad photocopy. Good stuff in it though. I’m done writing for the day. I’ll return to this tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

In the Wash

The re-arrange the house – spring cleaning bug has infected my entire family, and my house is in various stages of disarray. We may never recover. However, I’m increasingly happy with the sitting room re-do. I’m still not quite happy with the artwork. I may move some prints from my work room to there. I dunno. I’m still thinkin’ about it. Most of the artwork in there now (the newly hung stuff) is artist signed or antique print.

I resurrected a homemade antique book shelf and put it near the south stairs. (That’s in the sitting room.) It looks nice. I want to remove an equally antique primitive cabinet. This was a thrift store find. I’ll keep it, but I don’t want it in there anymore. It’s now out of place. I have a low Queen-Ann style table I want to put in its place. I inherited that from my Grandmother.

A vintage desk has sat in the same spot for maybe five years. I think it’s time for it to go, but Knobby Knees and I don’t agree on that. We have a much nicer small desk upstairs. I’d like to exchange them. I think the real issue is KK doesn’t want to haul furniture up and down stairs. I don’t really blame him.

My small upholstery cleaner-machine thing finally gave up the ghost. KK says to trash it, that it’s not worth fixing.

While cleaning out the desk drawers, I found a little brass key marked "Dommer." I think it goes to luggage we no longer have. Right now, it’s one of the little mysteries of life.

My writing partner and I have spent a huge amount of time re-writing a chapter we considered "done." A descendant of one of the key figures gave us access to family papers. We now tell a much nicer story, more complete, and certainly more accurate. She also sent us a really important (to our research that is) German language booklet published by this man, though written by another.

Back … Didn’t know I was gone, did you? I’m washing bedding – the heavy stuff, quilts and blankets and such.

My writing partner is still poking at von Zech; that’s the man I called a key figure. I’m going back to fixes on a chapter we abandoned in a nearly done state to await some photocopies. We now have those. So I’m reading them over and over and putting in bits where it matters. The man whose life I’m stirring around in was a Methodist clergyman turned Barbourite. I don’t like him much. As far as I’m concerned he was a fat, belligerent bastard. But we let the original records tell the story, and our readers can reach what ever conclusion they wish. We have a pile of papers from a Church Court trial. He does not come off well. Trouble is he was self-righteous enough to think he was doing God’s will when he refused to vacate the parsonage or when he intimidated with words and his physical bulk members of the church board. Nasty man.

Last night was really quiet, a good thing since I had a seizure at work. I have enough warning that I just locked my door and sat on my couch until it was over – Ruined a good part of an otherwise okay night. I’ve debated describing one of these seizures here. I won’t. There are some really embarrassing aspects to some of them. Really embarrassing aspects. So we won’t go there.

Anyway, I’m sitting here eating chimichangas and frowning at a really messy manuscript from 1878. My handwriting is poor, but this is just icky. It’s a transcript of a rambling sermon and thereby bad on two counts.

I’m suffering burn-out today. I think I need a trip to town just to "shop." Maybe I’ll hit the junk stores or something or convince one of my sisters to meet me at Starbucks for cake and coffee and gossip.

… If it were up to me, I’d kill our private history blog and just send stuff to a very few of our readers. We almost never get feedback, let alone helpful feedback.

Christian and Whilhelm