Monday, April 21, 2014

Bruce Atchison, author of How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity

Author Bio:
Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind Canadian freelance writer with articles published in a variety of magazines. He has also authored three paperbacks. "When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies" is a memoir of the surprising facts he discovered about house rabbits."Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School" is his recollection of being sent five hundred miles from home for months at a stretch. "How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity" shows how God led Atchison out of a legalistic house church. Contact him at or via Facebook or Twitter. He also posts regularly on his and blogs. Atchison lives in a tiny Alberta hamlet with his house rabbit, Deborah.

Title: How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity
Author: Bruce Atchison
ISBN: 978-0-9780273-3-9  (e-book) 978-0-9780273-2-2  (paperback)
Page count: 216
Genre: Christian, memoir
Price: $2.99 (e-book) $15.00 (paperback)

Tell us about your book:
I joined a house church in 1971, not realizing that it was a cult. I struggled for fifteen years to remain a loyal member as its controlling elders taught me many groundless notions and chided me relentlessly for lacking faith to receive full eyesight. After storming out of the house church's door and turning my back on God for nine years, I realized that the church elders were at fault for teaching me falsehoods, particularly regarding what faith is. I'm a much happier man now that I'm free from those cultic lies.

How long did it take to write the book?
It took four-and-a-half years to write, edit, and publish How I Was Razed.

What inspired you to write the book?
After many people expressed amazement that I had been in a cultic house church, I decided I needed to write about my experiences as well as what I had learned from them.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I wrote the draft in a linear fashion using a computer running MS DOS and WordPerfect 5.1. Thanks to a friend's gift of a Bible CD-ROM and a free Bible program, I did my scripture searches on my Windows XP machine. Then I transferred the verses with a floppy disk to my old PC. I also did research with Google on various topics. As for my routine, I answered e-mail messages in the weekday mornings and wrote in the afternoons. I did the same when I edited the book. Once the manuscript was as good as I could make it, I transferred it to my new computer and e-mailed it to the editor that I had hired. We eventually polished the text to where no further edits were necessary. Then I converted my book into PDF and uploaded it to my publisher's site. Virtual Bookworm Publishers converted my manuscript into Kindle and Nook formats as well as shipping 100 paper copies to me.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I want Christians, especially pastors, to realize that new disciples need mentoring. I didn't receive any so I was vulnerable to that rogue congregation and its leader. I also want ex-members of abusive organizations to take comfort in my experiences. They would be most likely to understand the seductive lure of preachers promising deeper knowledge and power over life's difficulties.

Excerpt from book:
                I had never stormed out of any church in such a rage as on a Sunday in late June of 1987. Sister Roberta had the nerve to indirectly condemn me in front of the congregation for such pseudo sins as listening to rock music and lacking the faith to be healed of my poor vision. The chief minister taught that whoever preached from the pulpit spoke as Christ, lending divine authority to whatever he or she proclaimed. As this elderly woman ranted in front of the congregation, my long-suffering patience snapped.
                Once the final hymn ended, I strode up the stairs to one of the kitchens and put my shoes on.
                "Aren't you staying for lunch?" Sister Roberta asked as she stood between me and the back door.
                "No," I snapped as I stooped to tie my laces.
                "What's the matter?"
                "You used the pulpit against me."
                "I did no such thing."
                "You did."
                "Come on, sit down and have something to eat," she ordered.
                I straightened up and said with all the calmness I could muster, "No. I'm going home."
                Sister Roberta's face reddened with anger. "I was preaching to the whole congregation. You're being too sensitive about this. Sit down now and have lunch."
                When I stepped around her and reached for the door knob, she peered up into my face. "Fifteen years I've tried to help you and you jump at me every time," she sobbed.
                I stood with my hand gripping the door knob, speechless with fury at her asinine statement. Pushing past her, I strode down the back sidewalk.
                While I rode Edmonton's Light Rail Transit and the bus home, my mind churned with memories of how certain members of the house church I faithfully attended for more than fifteen years condemned me. When I joined it in November of 1971, I knew nothing about toxic congregations and the danger of false gospels.
                At that time, I boarded with a Christian family in Edmonton. Since my vision was poor, I attended a junior high school with counselors tasked to assist students such as myself with reading assignments and writing tests. I stayed with my parents on the weekends in Fort Saskatchewan, a city twenty miles north of Edmonton.
                Following supper one evening, Jay casually asked, "Bruce, Linda and I belong to a house church. Would you like to come to our Wednesday night meeting?"
                "What's a house church?"
                "It's like the kind that the first-century Christians had. Instead of worshipping in a church building, we meet in a house like the early Christians did. So, do you want to come?"
                "Yeah, that sounds cool. What denomination is it?"
                "We're not actually part of any denomination. We believe in Jesus Christ and want to serve him."
                "All right, I'll go with you. It's been a long time since I went to church."
                "Good. We'll drive you there on Wednesday night and you can decide for yourself if you like it."
                The following week, Jay drove me to a large, white, two-storey house overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. I followed him across the covered porch and through the front door. Once we removed our coats and shoes in a small living room, he walked down the hallway and through a kitchen. Then we descended a flight of well-worn, wooden steps to a laundry room. Jay led the way as we strolled into the sanctuary.
                I glanced around the long, rectangular room at the seven rows of grey metal folding chairs. I noted the turquoise walls, unfinished ceiling, and low-pile red carpet. A large unvarnished plywood lid covered a cement baptismal tank. It stood, tucked into a nook in the right hand wall near the back of the room. On the front wall, behind the varnished pine pulpit, hung a deep blue banner with a red cross and yellow lettering.
                Three people looked me over as they sat at a rickety, brown card table in front of the pulpit.
                "This is Sister Roberta and Sister Eileen," Jay said as he gestured toward a silver-haired woman wearing a floral print dress and her brunette daughter in a beige blouse and slacks. "And this is our minister, Brother Herald," he gestured toward a short, bullet-shaped man at the head of the table who sat with his back to the pulpit. He wore gold wire-rimmed glasses, a brown dress shirt, and grey suspenders with matching dress pants. His greyish-brown hair and moustache made him appear younger than his sixty-six years.
                "We're about to start the meeting," Sister Roberta announced. "You better pull up a chair and sit down."
                At first, Brother Herald's teaching style perturbed me. He spoke in a low monotonous rumble for many minutes, and then his voice abruptly rose in volume and pitch as he pounded the table for effect. Having startled us all, his voice dropped back to its normal level. This, and his laboured breathing, made listening a challenge in the beginning. Nevertheless, I soon adjusted to his mannerisms.
                By the end of the meeting, this man's preaching captivated me. I can't remember the subject of that particular lesson, but I recall thinking he explained arcane mysteries which ordinary ministers never preached. Only Garner Ted and Herbert W. Armstrong taught such revelatory doctrines on The World Tomorrow radio and television programs. Like Christ's audience when he finished preaching the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew 7:28 and 29, a sense of awe gripped me.
                Though I gave my life to Christ at a vacation Bible school in 1969, nobody discipled me until that evening. This was Thee Church, and my spiritual home, as I came to think of it.

Where can we go to buy your book?
How I Was Razed is available at the following links:

Any other links or info you'd like to share?
How I Was Razed can also be purchased through these sites:

Here are the links to my blogs:

My first two books are featured as well on this Blogspot link:

Book Trailer Link:

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