A Few Milestones

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A year or so ago, we urged my father to start writing his autobiography. He has been doing so, a bit at a time, and has been bringing those completed sections over to our weekly Sabbath dinner. I have been enjoying it very much as he writes — he is a wealth of stories.

As he has been getting more into the parts of his life that involve his four children, he has asked each of us to write out a skeletal outline of our own lives so that he can cross-check dates and so on. And so here is mine. I am not expecting you to be interested in when I lost my first tooth, and so I leave that out. Don’t remember it anyway.

I was born on June 18, 1953 in San Diego, California at Balboa Naval Hospital. My Dad was on active duty in the Navy for the Pacific fleet, and so in the early years we alternated between Japan and California.

When my father resigned his commission it was to work for a Christian organization called Officers’ Christian Union (now Officers’ Christian Fellowship). We moved to Tacoma Park, Maryland so that he might work with the different service academies from that place. It was in Tacoma Park, when I was about four, that my mother helped me to call upon the Lord. After a year or so there, we moved to Annapolis, which is what I consider to be my hometown. We lived there for the next ten years.

I attended Germantown Elementary, which was the elementary school for the white kids. As I grew up, so did the integration battles. I attended the junior high, and then a “middle school” that had previously been the black high school. We moved from Annapolis in 1968, just before my fifteenth birthday, going to Ann Arbor.

My birthday happened on the road, while we were driving north, and on that trip another milestone occurred. We pulled into some mall along the way, and my parents bought me a guitar for my birthday — a gift I am extraordinarily grateful for. I don’t know that it was such a blessing for everybody else, having a new guitar player on a road trip, because I was sitting in the way back of the station wagon, learning my first song, which was Tom Dooley. In G. “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley, hang down your head and . . . pause . . . one, two, three fingers, is that a D? cry.”

I went to high school in Ann Arbor, at Pioneer High. That town was full of commies, truth be told, and it was 1968-1971, a time in which the commies were not being shy about it. I believe our family is reflexively contrarian, and the frenzy surrounding us did much to establish my conservative impulses. When Nixon invaded Cambodia, the student body responded by wearing black armbands, and so I wore a red, white, and blue armband. I started reading C.S. Lewis’s theological works, and I found William Buckley’s Up From Liberalism in a bookstore downtown. As a result of that, I subscribed to National Review while still in high school — a magazine I still get. It is not as good as it used to be, but it is still worthwhile.

I joined the Navy on a delayed entry program while still a senior, and was slated to go to boot camp the following November. Having grown up in Annapolis, the idea of doing anything but join the Navy had never occurred to me. After I graduated, my family packed up and moved to Moscow, Idaho, so that my father could start working with a literature ministry here. It was called Inland Christian Laymen, and later became Community Christian Ministries. I moved with them, so that I could go into the Navy from Idaho.

We rented a house just off the grounds of Moscow High School, and the kids used to step off the school property into our back yard in order to smoke. One day a cop came by and was dispersing them all because there had been too many complaints from the neighbors. My dad saw this happening, and ran out and asked the policemen if the kids could smoke in his garage. He said something along the lines of “it’s your garage,” and so they all trooped in. Mr. Wilson was the coolest thing ever. A ministry called God’s Garage was begun  at that point, which I ran until I went into the Navy.

I went to boot camp in San Diego, and then to Quartermaster School, also located there. The Navy doesn’t have quartermasters anymore, but their job was navigation — unlike the Army, where a quartermaster works with supplies. I don’t know how that happened, language being funny that way. While in school, I was trying to figure what to do, what kind of billet to apply for. A novel about submarines was making the rounds in the barracks, which I read, and decided to volunteer for Submarine School. As a result, I went to sub school in Groton, Connecticut, and was assigned to the USS Tusk for the next year and a half. After the Tusk, a vintage diesel boat, was decommissioned, I was transferred to the USS Ray, a fast attack nuclear boat homeported out of Norfolk, where I spent the next two years. Actually, I spent a good portion of the next two years under the Atlantic and Arctic. Like Tina Fey, I have seen Russia from my house.

I got out of the Navy in August of 1975 in time to start school at the University of Idaho in the fall. I  had been reading Francis Schaeffer, and decided to major in philosophy so that I could what my father was doing — open a Christian bookstore in a college town, talking to unbelievers about the Christian faith. My first ministry love was apologetics. The idea of being a pastor was a non-starter.

The year before I got out, I had been home on leave, and had met Nancy Greensides, who was going to be coming to work for my father at Community Christian Ministries. Before that, one time when I was visiting with my mother on the phone, she had said something like “Doug, I don’t care what kind of a girl you bring home, as long as it is a girl like Nancy Greensides.” That made me go hmmmm, and then, when I met Nancy, my sentiments being precisely the opposite of what Henry thought of Anne of Cleves, the machinations started immediately. I was supporting some other Christian workers, so I became one of Nancy’s financial supporters, which gave me an excuse to include a letter every month when I sent a check. I spent my last year in the Navy corresponding with the one I correspond to.

Like I said, I got out in August. We were engaged by the end of September, and got married on the last day of December. Out of all the milestones, that is the milestone.
If I had gone to college right out of high school, there would have been problems. But the Navy had been good for me, and by the time I started school, I was eager to get through. I plowed through a B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy, finishing in 1979.
Back in the Fall of 1975, right when I had gotten out, a small Jesus-people type fellowship was planted in Moscow by the E Free church in Pullman that my father was pastoring. It was very loose — no church government, no doctrinal standards, no nothing. The man who was doing the preaching moved to another town about a year and a half into it. He had been doing the preaching, and I had been the song leader with my guitar. The next Sunday I preached, and that, as they say, is how it happened. I started preaching sometime in 1977. The church was first called Faith Fellowship, then Community Evangelical Fellowship, and then Christ Church.

We started Logos School in the early eighties, and for a number of years were in the deep weeds of child-rearing and ministry. It was during those years that my doctrinal shifts began occurring. I became postmillennial in the mid-eighties, a Calvinist in 1988 (though I didn’t want to use that term for a couple years after), and a paedobaptist in 1993. There were some tangles in those years, but God’s kindness through it all has been unrelenting.

We started New St. Andrews College (formally) in 1996. We had been offering ad hoc classes before that.

I started writing books in the early nineties, when I was almost forty. What else is there? I will probably think of something, or something else will happen. I will be sure to let you know.

Our three children Bekah, Nathan, and Rachel, were born in 1976, 1978, and 1980. They are all married now (to Ben, Heather, and Luke, respectively), and we have 16 grandchildren, all of whom live here in Moscow. God is good.

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7 years ago

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Kyle B
7 years ago

“Like Tina Fey, I have seen Russia from my house.” That line had me in stitches!

Valerie (Kyriosity)
7 years ago

Verrrrry excited to hear about your dad’s autobiography project. I was poking ’round the ol’ iPod a couple of days ago in search of something to listen to, and landed on the hilarious-but-delightful “Unshackled” broadcasts (http://www.unshackled.org/listen_12.html — #s 3189 and 3190) about his life, and of course there are the wonderful snapshots in Nate’s books. Can’t wait for more!
And my favorite line here was, “…when I met Nancy, my sentiments being precisely the opposite of what Henry thought of Anne of Cleves…”

7 years ago

Interesting read. I’ll have to go with “reflexively contrarian”. Much less abrasive term than I usually elicit.

7 years ago

I remember the church losing two elders in two weeks because of you going Reformed. I felt like Homer Simpson  with that stupid look on his face. I knew something was going on, though.

Matt Beatty
Matt Beatty
7 years ago

I’d be interested to know – if modesty allows you to share – precisely what trouble would’ve followed had you gone to college after high school, post haste.