Summary: Finding Freedom through Obedience. 12 Step programs

There is a true story about a guy named Burnell. This incident happened while he was in basic training in the army. A friend of his persuaded him to help him in embarrassing the Inspection Officer. This Inspection officer enjoyed going over locker and person effects with a white glove. He seemed to overreact at ever infraction.

Burnell’s friend asked Burnell to help by agreeing to respond with the words ""Patrick Henry sir in 1776." to what ever this inspector shouted out. So while the soldiers were standing at inspection and the inspection officer seemed especially intent to find some infraction of the rules. Burnell’s friend hollered out "give me liberty or give me death". Immediately the Inspection Officer cried out “who said that." Burnell replied "Patrick Henry sir in 1776."

The entire troupe of soldiers fell all over themselves laughing.

Let me tell you about my home town. I was born and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Here is some history. Prior to WWII, Los Alamos was a summer boy’s ranch. During WWII, it became a major scientific research base. It was run by the Army Corps of Engineers and its existence was a highly classified secret.

After WWII, the base began a slow transition toward becoming a town. One of the biggest problems was that the government owned all the land, and they were very slow about selling off blocks of it to private citizens. For example, nobody in the whole town owned their own home until the early 60s. Everybody leased from the government.

Because of the lack of land for private development, we didn’t have things that other towns took for granted. When I graduated from high school – there were over 400 students in my graduating class- , Los Alamos had 17,000 residents. Still, there was only one movie theater and that had only one screen. There was one bowling alley, but it was booked every evening for league play.

Going out to eat was a real problem. There were a couple of fancy places. For a casual evening out, there was a Pizza Hut. There were some rather unusual alternatives. That was a government engineering group that worked around the clock, so their work cafeteria was open for dinner. In typical military style, this facility did not have a name, just a letter. "Where are you going for dinner tonight?" "We’ve got big plans. We’re going out to the S-Site cafeteria." Another place where we went was the cafeteria at the hospital. Philomena, the cook at the hospital, commuted each day from Espinola and made the best Mexican food in town. For the teens, there was one KFC and one Taco Bell. Those were the only fast food places in town. A lot of kids went to the little diner at the drug store because it was an easy walk from the high school.

This was before video games. It was before Al Gore invented the internet. We were in the mountains and the closest TV stations were in Albuquerque, one hundred miles away. With a really good antenna you could get the 3 networks and PBS, but most TVs got two fuzzy stations.

Everybody, but especially teenagers, had to find something to do. Besides sports, the schools offered a Chess Club, an Opera Club, a competitive Slide Rule Club, and a Bridge Club. It will give you an insight into my personality to know that at some point during my school career, I was in each of those organizations. Now, to be fair, I joined the Opera Club as a way to meet girls. The ratio was about 5 girls for every guy and it was effectively better than that because I got the distinct impression that most of the other guys in the group were not interested in meeting girls. I joined the competitive Slide Rule Club to impress the girls, but, to be honest, that really didn’t work out very well.

Given all of that potential for excitement, it is amazing to realize that many of the teenagers in that community were bored silly. It is axiomatic that kids with nothing to do will get into trouble and kids in Los Alamos did. We had horrible problems with alcoholism and drug abuse among the high school population.

During my early experience as a new Christian, an astonishingly large number of the kids I was running around with were kids who had turned away from drugs and toward faith. There was a prayer meeting or youth group going on somewhere in town every night of the week and we knew where they all were. We had to. Every couple of weeks there would be some kid who was struggling with a desire to smoke something, and we would haul him off to that evening’s prayer meeting instead.

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