James T. Orwell, born sometime in 1963, isn’t real. Google him. Perhaps another James T. Orwell will appear in the search results. But not THIS James T. Orwell. He’s not called Jim or Jamie. He’s not called James, either. When I think of him, he’s always James T. Orwell. What’s the middle name, indicated by the “T”? I don’t know. I never figured that one out.
- Gasoline was about $0.29 a gallon. And Major News Stories include Start of Beatlemania, Zip codes implemented, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I have a dream” speech, Members of Ku Klux Klan dynamite Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Sabin oral Polio Vaccine which is taken with a lump of sugar is given nationwide in US and UK, The Profumo Crisis in the UK, President John F Kennedy assassinated
One Terrence William Robinson, yours truly, had graduated valedictorian from Brown Military Academy in Glendora, California. I spent a pensive summer thinking about. . . I haven’t the foggiest notion what I was thinking. But I do know that I told my Dad I’d love to go to Northwestern Military and Navel Academy, the high school from where he’d graduated in 1942. I thought at the time I was destine to follow in his military marching footsteps. I had know clue. . . He’d graduated then gone directly into the Army, jump school, and assignment with the 327th Glider Regiment, 101st Airborne. Eventually, he went with the 101st from France all the way to the Germany, by way of Bastogne, the well-known Battle of the Bulge in which the division commander refused surrender with the words, “Nuts.” My father went on to serve, and serve well, fought in two wars, and finally retiring in the 1980s as a Colonel.
But eventually I knew what I wanted to do. I remember finally coming to terms and telling Dad that I wanted to major in English in college.
“An English degree and a dime will get you a cup of coffee,” was his only comment. I took it that he wasn’t pleased, thought it highly unlikely that his son would amount to anything, and dismissed my idea. The pen name, James T. Orwell, took a back seat. Oh, James T. Orwell resurfaced no and again. Especially when, as an adult I took night classes in writing and poetry and such.
My days at Northwestern were miserable. It wasn’t the wonderful experience Dad had there. It certainly was far different from the experience I had at Brown Military. There I’d seemed to fit in, did well in both academics and military subjects. Except for one fatal weekend, I excelled. I felt I was headed for great things, a wonderful future.
President Eisenhower, having served the military faithfully, and served America in the highest office, came to Brown one day. The cadet corps assembled on the football/parade field and passed in review. I was called forward and promoted in his presence. Such an honor. I revered both Generals and Priests. I also feared them.
Having been raised in the Episcopal Church, America’s version of the Anglican Church of England, I didn’t learn a lot of things about the Bible as did others who were raised in Bible-based Churches. But at Brown I had several teachers that were Christians, and we had religion classes that were Bible-based. That led to a weekend retreat in the mountains, and Church services that were new and very different to what I was accustom. It was at that Retreat I first encountered the alter call. The Big Decision. That was my “Fatal Weekend.” At least for many years that is how I looked at it.
It was the last day of the Retreat. A Sunday. The Church was filled. The service rousing. Praise songs instead of hymns. A sermon preached with assurance and with a power I’d never experienced. And an Alter Call.
“Everyone close your eyes,” the pastor cried out. And we all did.
“Raise your hands if you want to accept Jesus as your savior,” he went on. I wanted to raise my hand. I was afraid.
“Now come forward,” the pastor cried out. I sat there paralyzed. Others went forward. I stayed back. I held back. I was frozen in my seat. I didn’t know what it meant to accept Jesus. I thought I knew Jesus, having been in Church all my life. I wanted to know more. But fear of the unknown grasped me like chains about my ankles. Then the service was over, and soon I, and the guys I came with, were headed back to Brown. I’d missed my opportunity.
For years I thought that was my big chance and I’d missed it. When things got hard for me over the years, and I made poor choices, or no choices, I thought back to that Alter Call with regret.
Northwestern Military and Navel Academy was an Episcopal school. While my time there was miserable, at least in Church I was comfortable in the ritual and routine. I served as an Alter Boy. I retained my faith. But I lost something, too. At least that’s what I thought when I looked back at what I’d been offered at Brown. I blamed my misery on indecision.
When I thought of that Alter Call, I wished I’d have run, not walked, forward to the Alter. Forward to receive Jesus in the way that pastor had cried out to us. I stopped going to Episcopal Church after I graduated high school. I meandered forward, yet longed to have a greater faith, a true walk with Jesus. I was now bound with guilt of what I thought was my “chance.” It seemed like a lost opportunity.
That was wrong, of course. Opportunities abound. I just didn’t think so.
1973. Major News Stories include Skylab Launched, Cod War UK and Iceland, Secretariat Wins Triple Crown on June 9th , Three-Day Week put in place in the UK, Sydney Opera House is opened, Yom Kippur War and Oil Embargo, Watergate Hearings Begin, Supreme Court rules on Roe v. Wade.
One Terrence William Robinson, yours truly, had been infantry with the 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard. I’d accepted a full-time position at Camp Roberts, and began working in communications systems, armament and small arms, and worked hard. I was not an officer, as my Grandfather and my Dad. I’d joined the National Guard simple doing what my Dad thought best. I’d trained at Fort Ord, California, along with 283 Army Infantry guys, who all went on to Viet Nam. After training, I went home. And for years I felt guilty about that, too.
It was in a barracks, at Fort Irwin, California, that a guy started talking about Jesus. And I started thinking again about my walk, my faith. And I enrolled in a Bible Study course, a correspondence course, to learn more.
As I look back, having dealt with the guilt of that “Fatal” Weekend of indecision, I now know that G-D had a call upon my life. I just didn’t realize it for too many years.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145: 9, 10.
It seems to me, now so many years later, that even had I run to that Alter, did what that pastor cried out to do, I’d have still faced all the same difficult times that I faced. I’d have been the same me. Accepting Jesus isn’t the answer to some ideal life of ease. Accepting Jesus is assurance of Peace within one’s soul and an assurance of eternal life. I’d have still made some good decisions, and some that weren’t so good. Life is simply life. I’d have avoided the guilt, however. And, yes, it may just have presented some opportunities that were not available to me. Perhaps.
Realize, I have, that G-D has had a call on my life since I was conceived. For G-D has known me.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.a
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139: 13-16
Jesus promises life, and life of abundantly. It’s not too late to commit, to choose that life, either. For YeshuaJesus calls and is patient. When He calls, He continues to call. Our response is a response of the heart. A response of the soul. I know now that I responded in my heart as a child. I just needed to come to the mental awareness, the intellectual knowledge of that decision.
L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .
One thought on “The Life and Times of James T. Orwell”
Fathers have a huge impact on their children….for good and for evil. We grow up with or without their mind I invasions. It is survival of the fittest after all. q