Sunday, October 30, 2011

Your Sacred Self

Posted: 30 October 2011; Updated: 

A couple of weeks ago I inadvertently came upon a website called Your Sacred Self. I say "inadvertently" because a female Muslim physician friend in Tehran had given me and another man the "gift" of just the title: "your sacred self", but no link. This meant I had to do a Google search, which produced many sites with that title. I learned later that the site she had in mind was Wayne Dyer's.

But it was the above site that drew me initially and I had only time enough to read its introduction and a little about the two authors. What I read rang true such that I resolved to move through their site carefully, inviting a few others along the way (friends, children and a shamanic priest) to join me in chewing through each link.

I was especially interested in the link titled "the gift of a gay son" and when I learned they had published a booklet, I ordered it. Two days later it came.

(click on pictures to enlarge) 
Front and back with bios for Fred and Daniel

I have now read through the booklet in its entirety, but need to reread it more thoroughly and more thoughtfully. I think I now have a better idea why so many conservative Christian religions are afraid of the LGBT movement as threatening to the institution of family. I will have more to say below and hope others will join in.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Musings on Hypocrisy, Repentance and Irony

Posted: 29 October 2011;

Yesterday my wife Birgitta stunned me by saying: "I do not understand how you can claim to be authentic and transparent with others and yet be phony with your wife." She had come into my upstairs office while I was at the computer and had just changed screens from a computer game when I heard her coming up the stairs. When she came in the door I feigned innocence by looking at a different screen. She can always tell when I feign innocence, but this time she let me have it!

No big deal? But it was.

She followed up that comment by reminding me of the time when Mormon Bishop Ferren L. Christensen called me "the biggest hypocrite he had ever met in his life." That was in summer 1957 and a major turning point in my then young life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bill Romey, first to hear Russian when the Berlin spy tunnel tap was turned on

Posted: 27 October 2011;
Updated: 13 November 2011.

After receiving the Spies Beneath Berlin DVD, I decided to follow a long-held hunch to determine if the guy who originally wrote to me at UC Berkeley in 1958-59 was the emeritus professor I located by a Google search many months ago. Since I didn't know him or how he got my name, I never responded to that Berkeley note, having signed an oath not to talk about the Berlin operation to unauthorized persons for 20 years. The note went something like: 
You don't know me, but I know you. You were great 'over there'... Bill Romey.
Obviously I never forgot the note or the name and, until recently, never checked it out.

In 2005, when Professor David Stafford took an interest in anecdotal stories by those who were actually at the site, I wrote to him that I might know the whereabouts of another guy and did he want me to follow it up. Because Stafford never answered that question, I let it drop. That is, until the British DVD arrived.

On August 11, 2011, I called the number I thought might be the guy and was excited to discover that it was! Here is the opening paragraph to my email to him after a two hour conversation getting acquainted:

At last a live voice to a name from long ago!!--5 decades? (I don't forget this stuff!) Consider this a belated reply to your single cryptic note to me at Berkeley (?) sometime in the late 1950s. 
Romey then sent me several books that he had written. The first was an e-book: the way, and I'll send you a CD of my e-book:Journals of a Geologist-Geographer in Russia (written in 2009).  It includes several pages that relate to my London-Berlin experiences (but nothing very explicit about the site as such).

And then I receive two paperbacks. One published in 1996 about his love for France and his experiences in that country over many years, beginning as an exchange student in the early 1950s.

 The second book (below), published in 1975, contains an interesting collection of reflections as a professor of geology at several university faculties after his graduate school days at Berkeley. I was amazed to discover that we were at Berkeley at the same time, worked in the same building (Hearst Mining Bldg) and had offices on the same floor (basement), but never met. Now his long-ago Berkeley note made sense!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today (11-11-11) I received Bill's CD account of the Berlin Tunnel, which is contained in his e-book entitled "NOT TO BE A SPY". Here is an excerpt:
My name is Wilmer Richart. At least that's the name they gave me at The Farm so the others wouldn't know who I really was. I've wanted to put this story down for many years but I've been afraid to do it for fear THEY would come after me legally... or "otherwise" as they sometimes do. But in recent years THEY have been getting exposed all over the place. The operation this account describes has been highly publicized over the years, and the details are widely known. Only the perspective may be new. Now, with the incredible shift away from the bugbear of Stalinist Communism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, I don't suppose a yarn from over thirty years ago is going to hurt them (or me) at all. If the procedures I describe here are still in use and considered secret they should have been changed by now and deserve to be exposed if they haven't been already. Besides that, everything I describe has passed enough into the realm of my own fantasy that I don't really know how true it all is any more. It represents a memory of realities embellished in various ways in my mind's eye. Nonetheless, to the extent that we create our own realities, this is a "true" story.In other respects, however, it may also just as well be considered pure fiction. The names of the people in my story are, like my own, creations either of my own or of someone else's. When you think about it, aren't all names just that, after all? Where necessary I have, like Mark Twain's mysterious stranger, felt free to invent new people and suppress others. Intelligence people do that all the time. I have felt free to change places and events in ways that suit my purposes, remedy lapses in memory, and, if I wanted to be pompous about it, I could add "in order to protect national security." Above all else, this tale should be looked at for just what it is: neither a historical document nor a faithfully autobiographical account but just as a story based on some events experienced by a young man. I leave the reader to decide where the boundaries between truth and fiction may lie.

Somewhere in New York December, 1989

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Day Before The Berlin Wall

Event: September 8, 2011; Updated: 16 Oct 11

When I received the British ORTV recent documentary film for Spies Beneath Berlin some weeks ago, I sent a note to author T.H.E. Hill of Voices Under Berlin, who had asked me to review his book after he had read my 2005 Amazon review of British historian David Stafford's 2002 documentary book of that title. Hill sent me an autographed copy of his most recent spy novel, again about Cold War Berlin. My Amazon review follows below.

 (click on images to enlarge)
Cover of Hill's newest novel

Hill's personal note on page i

Back cover to Hill's newest novel
In writing my review of T.H.E. Hill's first novel, Voices under Berlin, I was conflicted, since I was personally involved in the real life event twenty years earlier that he chose to speculate about from archival sources.

Not so with his newest novel. 

Although it was slow starting for me (because of my previous conflict), I gradually warmed to the story and got sucked into the end game of alternative histories and enjoyed the actual version more than the imagined one. Hill's story rings with authenticity as he parades in maddening detail all the German bus stops, corners, cafes, newsstands, taxi rides, apartment buildings, etc. Clearly he is showing off his linguistic skills, but he couldn't do it without the intimate knowledge of the competent professional spook that he once was. I know that he was fabulously competent in Russian from having read his previous novel (Voices) and in personal exchanges with him since. He seems equally competent in German in this newest tome. I am in awe of this skill.

Back to the slow start. Part of my frustration at first was being distracted by wondering about misprints. In the bizarre inner conversations Hill's character has with himself, while functioning as an intelligence agent behind East Berlin lines, the punctuation of the novel seemed strange. It took a while for me to realize this was no misprint, but a clever device (I'd never seen anything like it before) to allow the reader to differentiate between inner conversations and outer ones. This may not make sense to you now, dear reader, but trust me; Hill's punctuation device does work once you realize that it is deliberate. It makes all the difference!

I will leave it to other reviewers to inform prospective readers about the plot: the ins and outs, the traps, impersonations and spontaneous decisions that the hero must brave in risking his life again and again to deliver his desperate strategic message to his superiors. I became gripped by the adventure and glad to have survived it to the end.

My last question to the author: Is your current real wife an actress? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meeting with Superintendent Schmidt

Event: October 5, 2011; Updated:

Rex Kilborn, Eugene, Gene Schmidt at 2011-12 LAPS kickoff breakfast
The long-awaited meeting with Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt took place in his office on October 5. When he rode my school bus in August I had asked him to recall a dream when we next met and to give it a title. He acknowledged this request and called his dream "Sanctuary". During our conversation and hearing the dream, my confidence that this man was the right man for this job grew immeasurably. We didn't get to the subject of LADDOF, but that's still to come.

Serendipitously, as we were winding up this meeting, "Rex" (see photo) just happened to call.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Heaven is for Real!

Posted: 3 October 2011; Updated:

(click on picture to enlarge)
Colton's personal story about heaven
Today, Monday, 3 October 2011, I finished my first reading of a simple, but profound little book pictured above, which my wife Birgitta brought to my attention. It has given us both much food for thought!

Because Birgitta and I are in process of viewing a film about Islam's prophet Muhammad, sent to us by email from a devout Muslim woman physician in Tehran, we naturally want her to know about this book. I, in particular, also want "Mike" to know about this simple book, for it was through him that we met the Iranian woman who is so eager for us to understand "True Islam". Muslim authorities have forbidden the face of Muhammad to be shown in the film, believing this would offend the spirituality of Muhammad's message.

In contrast to forbidding the face of a holy man to be seen, in the book narrated by Todd Burpo, Colton's pastor father, is a picture painted by a Lithuanian girl named Akiane at age 8 (now 17), who had regular visits to heaven since age 3. When Colton saw this painting, he recognized it immediately as the same Jesus, whom he met during his heavenly visit as a four-year-old.

Akiane's "Prince of Peace"