19 February 2012

Back to school

(Warning, for those wedded to chronological consistency, though yesterday's post ended with the end of July, 1970, this one skips back to something like April or May, 1970).

I am not sure precisely when I stopped driving taxi and began working for AMFAC - perhaps around the beginning of March, 1970, or possibly sometime in February.

The shop I worked for maintained a wide variety of electronic communications devices, but the primary ones were R-T mobile devices for taxicabs, trucks, and 'buses, and pagers for doctors.  The pagers were all transistor-based, of course, but the former, at that time, mostly used vacuum valves.  We were a busy place and there were, I think, five or six technicians working there.  My boss, Gary Cosendine, was a fair enough man, but a rough and ready sort - and my enthusiastic Christianity and Bible-reading annoyed him a great deal.  At some point I had a T-shirt with the words "Christ is the Answer" emblasoned on the back.  Perhaps I wore that to work at AMFAC.

Still, Gary was willing to put up with me, so long as I did the work.  Initial contracts were always for 90 days - during which period you could be dismissed without any reason given.  After that, they had to give cause and might deal with the union.

I must by now have been involved in at least some University activities.  Perhaps I was still in some technical sense a student, and was going there to try to work on some of the Yapese materials I had started whilst in Yap in 1969.  One Thursday, in May or early June - my 89th on the job - Grace, the secretary, had issued to me my AMFAC uniform clothing.  I took them home, and today, Friday, was wearing one change of clothing.  Gary announced that we would all have to work this week-end.  We were, in fact, being flown to Moloka'i to install R-T equipment in some of the big tractors that are used in the pineapple fields.

"Ah.  OK, Gary, I think that will be ok, but I have to check - I may have University obligations this week-end."

"You have no other obligations that conflict with AMFAC's requirements!"

"Oh, no, I can't accept that."

"Go tell Grace to terminate your contract."

That, then, was that!  I talked to Grace, filled out papers to get my last paycheque - and asked her what to do about the uniform clothing ("Never mind, just keep them.")

Well.  Out of a job.  I don't really remember in any detail what precisely happened then.  At some point - whether before or after this occurrence, I don't know - I had said to staff at the University - possibly to my friend Ken Rehg, a fellow PhD student - that, obviously, there was no way for me to come back.  That, I was told, was not true!  Come back I did.  I must, I suppose, have been paid by the University of Hawai'i in some way, since I did not starve to death!  I had believed, at the end of 1969, that I was finished with linguistics forever.  In ways that I could not have imagined this turned out not to be true.

What above all I did during the months leading up to my baptism in July, and continuing on from then, was to read.  To be sure, I read linguistics.  I returned to classes and began thinking about my PhD.  I began also to resume my weekly visits with Kathleen, my and Edna's daughter, though these were rather stiff and formal - neither she nor I knew quite what to make of each other.  But mostly I read - I read Christianity.

I was trying to understand this thing I had undertaken.  During this time, and, indeed, over the next two and a half years, I both bought books and read books from the library.  Some of the authors (by no means all - and in no particular order) who were of great importance in framing my outlook in this period were:
There were many others.  The above list illustrates the randomness of my reading.  Chesterton is the only Catholic author, whose Everlasting Man is the only Catholic author I recall reading.  Perhaps most influential in the above were Lewis - with whose writings I fell in love, a love affair which has never ended; Schaeffer, who taught me the beginnings of Christian philosophy; and the Calvinist writers (Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Van Til, Calvin himself), who taught me an absolute submission to the Word of God.

Of Lutheran authors, I had read some of Luther - his commentary on Galatians, his essay on the bondage of the will - and Thielicke on Christian ethics.  But by the time of my baptism I was already pretty deeply Calvinist - and Baptist.

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