The Loss of God*

The Loss of God

Having grown up in a good Christian home and now blundering my way through adulthood, marriage and parenting, I have happened upon several points in my life when I became aware that I don’t believe what I once did.  Belief is a funny thing like that.  One day it just dawns on you, “I don’t believe that anymore.”  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.  Having inherited whatever matrix of values and concerns growing up, whether explicitly religious or not, we, at various points, emerging into adulthood, find ourselves reflecting on and navigating through what we have inherited (and continue to inherit). Then one day, it happens.  We realize that something we once thought was good and true just doesn’t fit anymore.

There has been a lot of movement on that front for me – a lot of those moments over and over again.  Since my late teenage years, I have attempted to consistently reflect critically about big questions. A lot of conversations, thinking, reading, and living later… I’m to a place today that I can say I am an atheist with respect to the God I grew up with.  That’s not to say that I don’t believe in God.  I do.  But with respect to the God that I believed in as a 19 year-old, I’m convinced that God does not exist.

I don’t mean to say that my thoughts about God have just changed significantly.  No, so radical has this movement been for me, that the God I once believed in looks nothing like the God I know today. If the God I once believed in were the only God I could believe in, I surely could not.

Blame it on persistent curiosity or a pernicious need to try to sort things out, I don’t know, but I do know that the God I once believed in, I can no longer abide.  I’m still as much of a Christ-follower as I ever have been, but the God that I now believe Jesus reveals is not the God I once believed in.

Kirk Out


Truth, truth & “orthodoxy”


What are Christians talking about when they’re talking about “orthodoxy?”  Or maybe more to the point, what ought Christians be talking about when they’re talking about “orthodoxy?”  Orthodoxy, broadly defined, is what the Church has claimed is true.  These are the claims that the Church (whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant) has historically affirmed.  The particulars of what those affirmations *are* aside, I want to talk about the relationship between Truth, truth and orthodoxy, and then suggest some reflections.

Capital T “Truth” is what is actually true.  To hold that there is such a thing as Truth is a faith claim, but one that I and most people that I know are comfortable with.  Lower-case “truth” is what I believe to be true.  Whether or not what I believe to be true is, in fact, Truth, I can’t know, but I can believe that it is true.

What then is “orthodoxy”?  Orthodoxy is not necessarily Truth.  The Church could be wrong about what it affirms.  Orthodoxy is not what *I* believe is true.  *I* don’t get to make up what the Church has affirmed.  We inherit it as a gift.  Orthodoxy is what the Church has believed and does believe is true. Whether or not it accords with Truth and whether or not it accords with me or you, are different questions.

Why might any of this matter?

I see a real tendency to blur these distinctions and enter into category confusion that isn’t helpful for dialog between Christians of differing traditions nor is it helpful for Christian’s dialog with the wider world.  If what *I* believe is synonymous with “orthodoxy” anyone who disagrees with *me* is a “heretic!”  If what *I* believe is synonymous with Truth, anyone who disagrees with *me* is flat wrong or worse, delusional.

Just as individuals don’t get to make up what orthodoxy is, individuals don’t get to make up what heresy is.  Heresy is NOT ‘things that I disagree with strongly.’  Heresy is that which is contrary to the received orthodoxy of the Church.  Individuals also don’t get to make up what Truth is.  Truth just *is* whether you or I affirm it or not, and since all we have is what we believe to be true, a healthy dose of humility is in order when making claims about we believe is Truth.

What shall we say then?

Any claim about anything has a particular starting point.  I want to suggest a few things…

  1. Christians ought to reflect on their beliefs as, first of all, ‘personal beliefs.’ What *I* think is true.  Before we claim “orthodoxy” or “Truth” we must claim “us” as the subjective and fallible beings that we are.
  2. Christians ought to reflect on their ‘personal beliefs’ as not ‘our own.’ Much history and various influences get us to place we are today, believing the things that we do.  We need to see that, appreciate it, and reflect on it often.
  3. Christians ought to reflect on orthodoxy as not ‘our own.’  We don’t get to adjust the content or the scope of Christian orthodoxy.  We reflect on whether or not what we believe is in accordance with it, and we do our best to recognize when what else we believe is not a matter of either orthodoxy or heresy.
  4. Christians ought to reflect on the pursuit of Truth as not ‘Our own.’  The Church doesn’t own the Truth.  We have orthodoxy and we have what else we affirm and we trust it’s Truth.  We have Christian community, Church tradition and its scriptures to help us along the way.

Kirk Out

You’re Not Saved


Some Christians insist on talking about salvation almost exclusively in the past tense, “…when I got saved…”  On the surface, that might seem like a reasonable way of describing a distinct moment of “accepting Jesus into your heart” or “giving your life to God” or “beginning to following Jesus,” or however you would want to phrase it.  Some describe this as a “conversion” or a “born again” experience.  What I want to do here is show that concept of referring to yourself or others as “saved” doesn’t seem to actually map onto the language of the New Testament concerning salvation.

I’ll admit from the outset here that I’m no Greek scholar, so I’m not going to traffic in Greek texts, or try to give you ‘word studies’ (that aren’t particularly helpful anyway) to try to bolster a point.  We’ll just take a look at some translated texts (ESV) and I’ll you give you some thoughts.

As a way of getting at this…  If you plug the word “saved” into a Biblegateway or BlueLetterBible search bar and take a look at the numerous New Testament references that pop up you’re going to notice something.  I hope you notice that every instance of “saved” in the New Testament (accept for two, that I’ll talk about here shortly) concern salvation that is ongoing (i.e. some notion of ‘being saved’) and also, and most predominately, that salvation that is future.  In fact, most texts about salvation in the New Testament put the focus of salvation in the future (i.e. they are eschatological).  But that doesn’t mean a vision of salvation as ‘going to heaven when you die.’  I only mean that the majority focus on salvation of individuals is by far future-oriented, whatever that future heavens and earth may look like.  The runner-up to future-oriented passages are the present-oriented senses that salvation is already at work in us, and lagging way behind are texts concerning salvation in the past-oriented sense.  Here’s a sampling of those present and future texts that we are talking about… (emphasis mine)

praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved Acts 2:47

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  Romans 5:9-10

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  I Corinthians 1:18

you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord  I Corinthians 5:5

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. I Corinthians 15:1-2

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  II Corinthians 2:15

And that’s just a sample of the “saved” texts…  We could also turn to those texts like Romans 8, I Corinthians 15 and II Corinthians 5 that are emphatic about our salvation being wrapped up in a future bodily resurrection.  The New Testament teaching regarding salvation of individuals is in a present and future sense, and I think a good case can be made that it is actually exclusively present and future.

OK, let’s look at these past-oriented sense passages (emphasis mine):

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:2-10


For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.  Titus 3:3-8

I see the authors saying “you were saved”… back there… when Christ died and was raised, and through your identification and participation with Him now, you are inheriting salvation, so that what God has done in Christ, He will do in you, in the ages to come.  You’ll notice there are similar themes (above) in Ephesians 2 and Titus 3.  What I want to suggest about these passages is that, as it concerns believers, we can locate our salvation in Christ crucified and raised, and that we can locate our salvation in the past, but not our past… not our personal story about when we embraced Christ as a fifth grader at church camp or as an adult sitting in the back of a church service or whatever our story might be…  We can locate our salvation in the past work of Christ on the cross, dying for the sins of the world, and I think that’s what the authors might be getting at here.

Testamints: How did we get here?

Let’s play connect the dots…

By now, you might have heard something about the so-called “culture-wars” in this somewhat un-united state of America.  Whether we are quite as “polarized” today as the some media outlets would like us to believe, I don’t know, but I think it’s safe to say there are cultural shifts of persuasion on a number of topics in our culture within the last few decades.  I don’t want to take on any one particular topic, or really talk about the culture-wars, except as a way to get at something more important.

If we roll back the tape, American culture was more influenced by and in-step with what was considered Christian ideals on a range of issues.  That’s not where we are today.  What has happened?  Why has the Church lost so much influence?

Here’s my take…

I think the shift from a predominate Christian influence arose, first, from a theological shift within the Church.  If the Church has lost the culture wars,  they (or we) have lost it because they lost the places of culture-shaping.  Where are these places of cultural influence?  Paraphrasing a popular quote:Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”  I think there is a sort of genius to this quote… that cultural influence is exerted from ‘underneath’… from the arts, from the educators, from the poets and musicians at least, and that true cultural influence is not exerted primarily from the top (power-over) from the politicians and the makers of law, etc.

Here’s the theological shift I see…  Along the way, in various intensities within various Christian traditions, gradually there began to be a retreat from the “world” toward the establishment of sub-cultures.  That retreat’s underpinnings came from a particular theological take on the Church’s relationship with the world.  The “sacred” and “secular” divide arose from a well-intended desire to preserve the Church’s integrity but the fallout was an unintended lost of influence in some of the key platforms of culture shaping.


One feature of this shift was the creation of Christian institutions and categories.  Just reflect on where we are now…  We have Christian colleges and universities, Christian media & publishing companies, Christian para-church ministries, Christian bookstores, Christian artists, Christian music, Christian radio stations, etc. etc., and even Christian breath mints!  These institutions and categories of orienting the Church to the world have created a sectarian sub-cultural splintering into ever-shrinking spheres of cultural influence.

But the underlining theological shift goes deeper than the sacred/secular divide…  The sacred/secular divide is the fruit and flower of the shift toward a neo-gnostic tendency to divide up the world up between the “natural” and the “supernatural” so that the Church is left to traffic in the “spiritual” and the world can carry on with the business of inquiry and development of the “natural” world.  For example, you can see this in the Church’s primary concern for “saving souls” for a future spiritual heavenly destiny, in some important ways disconnected from the ‘here and now’ of the “natural world.”  The problem isn’t that the Church has concern for “souls”… it’s that this concern is not the whole story because it arises from a bad theology (i.e. a bad ontology).

We can see this in the renewed interest in the Church toward “social justice” and this is good, but that this continues to be interpreted along the lines of tending to people’s “natural” needs and is seen as something differentiated from people’s “spiritual” needs.  Again, we owe this breaking up of the world, in this way, to a bad ontology.  (One that I don’t think maps on well to the biblical narrative, btw)


Just to sum it up here, we’ve moved from the highly publicized “culture wars” of our day to see that the Church loses influence when it loses the places of culture-shaping.  The Church retreats from the places of culture-shaping primarily on the basis of the sacred/secular divide, and that sacred/secular divide is informed by an underlining theology in tandem with an underlining ontology.

There is certainly more going on that just this, but this hits the core highlights.

Where does the Church go from here?

//Kirk out

Open Theism Simplified


What I’d like to do here is lay out the basic beliefs of Open Theism (sometimes called, “the Open View”) in as much non-technical language as possible, so that it’s more accessible to folks not familiar with some of the complex language that gets used in theological and philosophical studies.  Doubtlessly, something might be lost for those who would prefer more technical language, and probably some of the things I say about Open Theism may not appeal to every-single Open Theist, but since accessibility and the hope of understanding for a broader audience is the goal here, I’ll have to sacrifice some variations of the view and some jargon.


First off, as the name suggests, “Open Theism” is for “theists” …those who believe in a God.  Secondly, “Open” describes possibilities.  Put them together and you have possibilities (Open) and a God (Theism), therefore, “Open Theism.”

Ok, let’s go a little deeper into what is meant by “Open.”  Possibilities are about what might and might not come to pass.  If God is all-knowing, then it must also be the fact that God knows all of the future.  Open Theists agree that God is all-knowing and that God knows all of the future, and like others, they think that some of that future is possibilities, but what sets Open Theism apart is the belief that God knows possibilities as possibilities.  So, Open Theism then denies that God faces a future of only settled facts about what will or will not be, and insists that God knows the future as partly settled (or ‘closed’) and partly unsettled (or ‘open’).  Only God knows all that is ‘closed’ or ‘open’ about the future.

Ok, let’s stop right there and break this down a little bit…  Why would Open Theists think that God knows the future as partly composed of possibilities, and not only a future of settled facts in the mind of God?

First, “partly”… then “possibilities”


The future as only partly composed of possibilities, because Open Theists believe that some of future will definitely to come to pass.  For example, a Christian Open Theist might say that a “new heavens and new earth,” as described in the book of Revelation, is something that will definitely come to pass, and therefore is not ‘open’ to change, or in other words, it’s not possible for it to turn out otherwise.  This aspect of the future is settled and therefore God (being all-knowing) knows it as settled.  But Open Theists don’t think that all of the future is settled in this way…

Now, “possibilities”…

Open Theists believe that God has made beings (humans, at least, & probably angels) with a free-will.  They believe that God has created us with the ability to choose.  They don’t think that we are always freely choosing, but when we are freely choosing, we could have done other than we did. (Read that last sentence one more time.)  This is what Open Theists mean for us to have a free-will.  It’s a will that is truly free to go one way or another.  (This is a view of free-will that is shared by most Arminians and is called a libertarian view of free-will.)

What does this have to do with possibilities?  Well, Open Theists believe that if there is this kind of a free-will, then this is a big part of what makes for a future with possibilities.  The fact that we might do *this* but we might do *that* means that the future is neither definitely *this* nor *that* and if the future is neither, definitely *this* nor definitely *that* then this is the kind of future that God knows.  God knows a future that is full of *this* or *that* coming to pass, depending on what free-will beings do… a future comprised of possibilities dependent on the actions of free-will beings.

Christian Open Theists also make an appeal to scripture passages that seem to describe God as facing a future of possibilities.  See some of those scriptures here and some responses to some of the most common objections.

That’s the basics of Open Theism, as I understand it.


A quick response to a common objection:

Some may object to Open Theism on the grounds that, “I think that humans can have free-will and that God knows everything we will or will not do.”  Open Theists contend that, if free-will is the kind of free-will being described here, God knowing precisely what we will do, and our being able to do otherwise is a contradiction.  Not a paradox but a contradiction.  Now to be clear, Open Theists do not believe that God knowing what we will do, keeps us from acting freely.  That can’t be emphasized enough.  What Open Theists contend is, if the truth about how we will act, comes prior to the act (<- and this is the truth that God knows), this shows us it cannot be true that we are the ones who make that truth.  We can’t rewrite that truth that God knew prior as, what will be.

//Kirk out

Jesus > Doctrine


I came across a video recently…  It appears to be a promotional video for a book by John Piper called, “Five Points.”  It’s about the “Five Points” of T.U.L.I.P. Calvinism sometimes referred to as, “The Doctrines of Grace.”  (If you’re not familiar with what the five points of Calvinism are (according to John Piper) you can read HERE.)

This is not a post challenging the merits (or lack thereof) of five-point Calvinism (aka, “The Doctrines of Grace”).  This is a cautionary tale about what it looks like to elevate doctrine (any doctrine!) to a place that only God can fill.  Before you think I’m exaggerating here, I invite you read the script (below) and/or watch the video (linked below).

The most troubling thing about this promotional video to me, is not that it is Calvinist doctrines being promoted, but rather promoting, the kind of place (or role) in the life of a Christian who holds to doctrine.  What starts out as autobiographical, as we see Piper’s enduring affection for these doctrines and the role he claims they play in his life, turns prescriptive toward the audience, as he commends, not only these doctrines, but the kind of place he wants them to fill in our lives.

As you read this, and listen to this, I want you to insert “Calvinism” every time “the Doctrines of Grace” or “the Doctrines of God’s Grace” is mentioned.  As Piper says here in the video, “Another name for the Doctrines of Grace is ‘Calvinism.'”



“The Doctrines of God’s Grace are my life… the source of my life… the joy of my life… the sustaining foundation of my life… the hope, the end, the goal of my life.  These have been the center of my pastoral ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church for the last thirty-three years.  It’s a downtown church, not a suburban church.  They have their own unique problems, but a church just a couple of blocks from the Metrodome, the NFL stadium, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.  We’re had our share of rocks through the windows of our house, and brawls in our front yard, and shots across the street, and bikes jerked from under our kids, but the center of God’s will is the safest place in the world, if God’s will is a sovereign, gracious will.  So these streets and this neighborhood and all this diversity and all these endless problems have been the proving ground, the trenches for the Doctrines of Grace for the last thirty-three years and I have no doubt, in my mind, that what has carried us through is the preciousness of the truth of the Doctrines of Grace.

Another name for the Doctrines of Grace is ‘Calvinism.’  We all know that for many, Calvinism has a bad connotation.  People think Calvinists are cold or logic-driven or more systematic than biblical, they’re prayerless, they don’t believe in evangelism or missions, but historically and in my experience, this is simply not the case.  For my church, for my disabled in our church, for the young and for the old, for the suffering and for the well, these doctrines have been our life, and for me personally, they are a sweet treasure.

I came to Bethlehem because of the absolute sovereignty of God’s grace.  I was teaching in college and writing a book on Romans 9, which is filled with the sovereignty of God and I heard God say, ‘I will not just be explained and analyzed… I will be heralded in all my great sovereignty.’  So I resigned at Bethel and I took this one-hundred and nine year old dying downtown church because I wanted to know, I wanted to see, what would happen if week-in and week-out I heralded the glorious, great sovereignty of God.  I wanted to see its effects on the whole range of range of life, on the whole range of human experience… the children and the teenagers, and the adults, the married, and the single, the happy and the broken and sad… every kind of ethnicity and every kind of socio-economic status.  I wanted to see, ‘Will this vision of God work across all the range of people?’

On January 1st, 1984, I preached a sermon on Isaiah 6 and I simply wanted to lift up the absolute, beautiful, glorious, sovereign holiness of God, and so I preached the sermon little knowing that sitting in the audience was a family… and these daughters, they had just found out, they had been molested for two years by an uncle, wasn’t a part of our church.  Two weeks later, the husband came to me when I found out about this and we were trying to trying to surround them as a church, to care for these little girls, and make sure all the appropriate authorities were notified.  He said to me. ‘John, if hadn’t been for the greatness of the glory of the holiness of God in our lives, from your sermon, I don’t think that we could have survived these weeks.’  So, I’m deeply convinced from that, and a thousand other illustrations, these doctrines, really, are meant to be lived and loved in the worst and the best of times.

If you love the Doctrines of Grace, and you live them, and you commend them to others, you can count on it, your turn is coming, you’re going to have your own tragedy, so… in 2005 the doctor said to me, ‘You’ve got prostate cancer.  Why don’t you come in, we’ll talk it over with you and your wife, see what your options are’ …and six weeks later, surgery.  Between the diagnosis and the surgery, were the sweetest months of fellowship with God I’ve ever known.  It’s just the way it works, right?  The hardest times of our lives turn out to be the best times of our life, because God is good, God is gracious, God is precious.  We’re about to lose our life.  The way God uses our tragedies is by making us a blessing to other people in them.  So, He’s never ever wasting any of our suffering.

Whether you’re a pastor, or a teacher, or a mom, or a dad, or a single person in a small group of friends, and you want to commend the Doctrines of God’s Grace, remember they are infinitely valuable, because, not only do they carry a person through tragedy, through suffering, but they also, (we found this at Bethlehem hundreds of times) they empower people, they embolden people to risk-taking, radical, sacrificial acts of love, like missions or urban ministries.  So it’s not just getting through the worst times, it’s being willing to leave the so-called ‘best times’ in order to do some of the really great things of love for God.  So, I pray that God will make the Doctrines of Grace your life, the source of your life, the sustaining foundation of your life… the joy and the hope of your life.”  -John Piper


“Doctrines of Grace” video: http://


Here is a selection of quotes from the video with “Calvinism” inserted for “The Doctrines of Grace”: (my emphasis added)

Calvinism is my lifethe source of my lifethe joy of my lifethe sustaining foundation of my life the hope, the end, the goal of my life.

If you love Calvinism, and you live it…

…and you want to commend Calvinism, remember that it is infinitely valuable

…I pray that God will make Calvinism your life, the source of your life, the sustaining foundation of your life… the joy and the hope of your life.

I’m having trouble not considering this an idolatrous relationship with doctrine.  Never mind that it’s Calvinism that is the doctrine being promoted here.  Any “-ism,” or any theology, or any doctrine elevated to a role that only God ought to fill, or actually, could ever truly fill as… the source of our lives, the joy of our lives, the sustaining foundation of our lives, the hope, the end, the goal, the love of our lives, is to elevate doctrine far above what any Christian should.

For a Christian, it’s only Jesus that can be ever truly be this, and only Jesus that we ought to ascribe all of this to.

Dear Christian, and dear John Piper, I commend to you… Get all of your life, all of your significance, and place all of your faith, hope and love in Christ alone.  He alone is the true source, foundation, joy, and living hope.

//Kirk out

Pleasant View

The “Hippie Farm”
I grew up on a hippie farm called “Pleasant View.” Not the pot-smoking kind… the Christian kind… I went to school in a one-room school-house, went to church, and lived on the same 17 acres with a community of other Jesus-hippies.  My mom had hair down to the back of her knees, Dad was a carpenter and built our house with his bare hands, and we even sewed some of our own clothes!  It was the 80’s but we were basically were still living in some form of the 70’s.  Saturday was community work-day, Sunday was church… like, all day church… complete with potlucks.  Monday, it was back to my cubicle-desk in the one-room schoolhouse…

Hippie School

Hippie school was no ordinary school… Imagine one large room filed with about 20 double cubicle-like desks.  Hard to explain, but you’re doubled up with another student facing each other, but there is a wall between you and walls on your right and left.  Three walls of cherry-stained OSB board, and a stack of “self-paced” schoolwork.  (Not exactly the kind of environment an ADD kid thrives in!)  Every day we had chapel complete with manifold acoustic guitars and singing… just imagine “Kumbayah” without the campfire.  Then it was time to hit the books… cubicle time!  I’m still a little bitter about the cubicles. :)  Thanks to the older kids for teaching me how to tape a small pencil to the bottom of my red ink pen when it came time to “grade” my work at the “grading stations.”  I literally learned nothing in the fourth grade.  (Names have been withheld to protect the guilty)

Lunch… the bartering system was in full swing, unfortunately my mom was some sort of health-nut because every day was PB&J on whole wheat, plain pretzels, and some sort of vegetable or fruit.  So while the Twinkies, Cheetos, and mini-pizzas were being traded around, during the pre-lunch barter, I was trying to pawn off my ants-on-a-log as celery covered in peanut butter and “chocolate chips.”  One the highlights of lunch was watching my buddy Dan Jackson step on his peanut butter sandwich (in the bag) and fold it into one bite-size piece, cramming the entire thing in his mouth while we cheered for him.  Or the time, Jennifer Schwartz and I convinced a girl that we had put meal worms from the science-fair project in her sandwich, prompting her to vomit on the spot.

Recess!…  We spent half the time playing football and the other half watching our all-time team captains Timothy Schwartz and his brother Jonathan Schwartz argue about the play that just happened.  I’ll never forget the time I split my lip open in the snow on the back of Andrew Hornblower’s boot trying to catch him on a b-line to the end-zone.  Nobody could catch “wheels.”  Then there was sledding… but not normal sledding… pirate-kill-or-be-killed rip the sled out from under your neighbor as they are careening over a four-foot ramp of ice… kind of sledding.  Blood was split on those hills.  Kickball, remember kickball?  Here’s to hoping Chris Buscher is on your team to punt it deep into the outfield.  Dodgeball, for which Jeanine Martin was all-time champion of the world and could rarely be beaten.  Foosball, with that strict NO-SPINNING! rule that was always getting violated.

The Flag System

While sitting my cubicle, when I wanted to solicit the help of one of the teachers circulating around the room, I needed to hoist a small flag.  A red flag for Mrs. Harriman, a dark blue flag for Mrs. Buscher, and either a light blue or a ‘starry’ flag for a trip to the bathroom.  Now, the difference between whether or not you had a the coveted starry flag or the light blue flag was dependent on whether or not you had any “demerits” on your record for the week.  The starry flag was for the goody-two-shoes students like Jeremiah Roberts and Beth Matthew, and school divas like Christy Martin, and the light blue flag was the ‘flag of shame’ for kids like me and David Johnson, who were continually collecting demerits like candy on Halloween.  Many a detention spent with my head down on that green table (taking a nap).

The Spider Wars

What happens when you get a bunch of young boys near spider-infested woods?  You end up with the spider wars… Spiders stored at your desk in empty Carmen cassette tape cases waiting for their moment to duel with another guy’s spider in the gladiator arena of a large Ball jar.  For some reason I thought the fatter the spider, the better, but alas I was swiftly bested by Tim Johnson’s more nimble and deadly jumping spider.  Maybe it had something to do with the Cert mint I was trying to feed my spider in preparation for his turn in the ring?

These are just a few of the memories I have from this hippie farm we called Pleasant View.  I could go on about the time, in the first grade, when I was locked out of the bathroom, peed my pants and had to run home, or the time I hit Jeremiah Roberts in the head with a walnut, and got into trouble.

If you’re reading this, and you remember Pleasant View, share a story.