Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Make or Break Year

It has been a pretty good year here inside the Tavern hedges. Not that one can say the same for Hillary's Village outside. There it has been one of the nastiest for a very long time. Barely a day has passed without someone talking of beheadings of people that Muslims don't like or the dispossession of florists and bakers that homosexuals don't like.  The religion of peace is anything but, and the love previously unprofessed but now speaking its name at the top of its voice seems virulently hateful of florists. No breaking of bread with bakers either if they don't kow-tow to the 'agenda'.

As if the Muslims were not content with mass killings and even hijacking hostages in a cafe in Sydney this month, they were busy all year going after the bakers and most other food-sellers too with their 'halal certificate' extortion racket. 

Heck, these varied dystopian types even think they are trying to 'convert' us to become like them!!

As if !

And don't get my customers going on Palestine, Crimea, Syria, the half-black fellow in the White House ruining a once proud Nation, the fall in the price of silver, the pretty young actress who has been more used to unicorns than being manipulated by the UN into beating men over the ears and heart, etc etc. The list would take all day.

It has been a year of breaking the spirit, bit by bit. Many have been broken. Many severely damaged. 

We 'fear'. 

So to end the year our fine customer John Douglas brought a mate Michael Tymn around for a refreshing bevvie and to give us some cheer. He did that indeed and he gave far more than expected. He put tough and really nasty  times in context for us and showed an unexpected light at the end of the tunnel.

This old curmudgeonly Tavern Keeper, a chap with a scar from a festering wound only lately cured, has seen a lot of strife and grief in self and others and has also seen a lot of 'faith healers' who purport to bring grace.  I am a skeptical man and know that if Divine intervention is to be, then my Supplier will be in charge of it rather than some intermediary. Even a Tavern Keeper.

But let Michael tell the tale. If you can take it, you can make it.

How “Unbroken” Hero Lou Zamperini 
Saw the Light
Every now and then, while channel surfing, I’ll come upon some evangelical preacher seemingly captivating his audience, so much so that when he asks audience members to come up on the stage and profess their faith, many of them parade to the stage as if mesmerized, fall backward into someone’s arms, claim that they are healed of some long-standing affliction, and shed tears while praising God. 
 Such scenes perplex me and I wonder if it is all an act 
or if I am simply too ignorant to appreciate what is going on.
The Billy Graham crusades I occasionally watched were not quite as dramatic as most of the evangelical events, but I still wondered what he said in his sermons that motivated all those people to leave their seats and march up to the front as if they had suddenly come out of a life-long stupor and now saw the light.   
I just didn’t get it.  I still don’t. 
Apparently, Lou Zamperini,  the real-life hero of the just-released movie “Unbroken,” felt the same way when his wife asked him to attend a Billy Graham crusade one night in 1949.   
I knew I was a sinner and was living a rotten, drunken life, but I didn’t need someone to stand in front of me and tell me, so I fought it,” Zamperini told me when I interviewed him at his Hollywood, California office in 2001.  “I told Cynthia I would go, but that as soon as he said ‘every eye closed and every head bowed,’ I’m out of there.”  
But something happened that night that turned Zamperini into a different person. 

As if he was not a different person from his ordeals? Well, throughout those ordeals his firm spirit remained. Stubbornly. Our virtues are often our curse when taken to extremes and this great man, a quite young man at the time, went through extremes we would not even like to imagine for ourselves.

“I experienced a 180-degree turnaround and ever since then my life has been successful,” he continued his story with a sincere nod.   
I pressed Zamperini for an explanation as to what prompted the “turnaround,” but he just smiled and said something to the effect that .. 
"it is something you have to experience yourself to understand".
I know that I would not like to have even one tenth of the horrific experiences that he had had. Would I have even survived? 

But I have had the experience he had that evening. I hope my customers can have similar.
Zamperini was the first person I had ever talked with about such an evangelical conversion and it made me rethink them.  He was a sincere, intelligent man who had held on to his faith for some 52 years and had no reason to fabricate such a story.   
He was my “white crow,” the one who proved that all such evangelical converts are not victims of temporary brain washing. 
Zamperini, who transitioned from this life last July 2, at age 97, was a mere 85 when I interviewed him.  I had read his story in his 1956 autobiography, Devil at My Heels, long before the current best-selling book about him was released a few years ago, and was anxious to hear his story first hand.   
It was a story in which the limits of human endurance went far beyond what most of us living in an Epicurean world can even begin to imagine. 
As I wrote in the April 2002 issue of Running Times magazine, for Zamperini,  endurance meant surviving in the rigid domain of despair, beyond the reach of help, or rest, or pity.   
It meant living from day to day with the heart tearing itself between hope and fear, merely subsisting under a cloud of doom with no finish line in sight.   
It meant starving and thirsting while confined to a life raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days. 
It meant fighting off sharks while the enemy shot at him from above. 
 It meant being tossed around by waves that towered over him during an all-night storm on the 46th day.   

Then, with the maddened fury calmed, and after being taken prisoner by the Japanese on a small island, endurance meant living with the tyranny, torture, and torment of his captors, including the threat of decapitation, while confined to a box-like cell measuring six by three feet, and being fed only fish heads and rice scraps. And then there were two cold winters with a minimum of food in a POW camp in Japan, his weight dropping to around 76 pounds.  

I was interviewing Zamperini for a running magazine because he had been a standout middle-distance runner during his high school and college years, making the 1936 Olympic team at age 19, between high school and college.  In fact, he shook hands with the Devil himself at those Berlin Olympics when German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had him escorted to his box.  “Ah! The boy with the fast finish,” Zamperini recalled Hitler’s reaction as he was introduced to him.  
Michael had more to say that was beside the point here so we shall skip a bit. You can always see the whole conversation at: 
But Zamperini’s real story began with the war and his service as an Army Air Corps navigator.  When his B-24 developed engine trouble during a search mission and crashed at sea, his 47-day endurance test on the life raft began.  He and two other survivors of the crash subsisted on a few raw fish, a half-dozen uncooked birds, a couple of shark’s livers and rain water.  “We ate everything, eyeballs included, and it tasted like a hot fudge sundae with nuts on top.  It was delicious,” he said of tearing into and eating the birds like a wild man.  He told of catching two sharks by the tail and swinging them into the raft, as one of the other two survivors of the crash put a signal flare down their mouths while Zamperini cut them open with a broken signal mirror. 
After undergoing such adversity, many a man would say that there can’t be a God because a fair and just Creator would not permit such suffering.   
In fact, Zamperini leaned in that direction until that Billy Graham crusade.   
Although he had not been religious, he had called for God’s help many times during his two-and-a-half year survival struggle.  “Lord, save me through the war and I’ll seek you and serve you,” was, he said, his frequent petition, one that he would quickly forget after the war.   
He is not alone in crying to God and then conveniently forgetting to follow-through on his promises. Been there; have the T-shirt. And you?
While his wounds slowly healed and his physical strength returned, there were bad scars and his hatred for the Japanese soldiers and guards who had brutalized him festered, at least until his conversion at the Billy Graham crusade.  
It was at that crusade that Zamperini began to understand what was happening.   
His physical shell had been freed, but his soul had remained imprisoned.   
The craving for revenge had shackled him even more than his captors had.   

In 1950, he returned to Japan and confronted many of the guards who had beaten him, most of them now prisoners themselves, having been convicted of war crimes.  But rather than lash out at them, Zamperini befriended them.  The former prisoner was finally free.  He devoted much of the rest of his life to operating a boys’ camp designed to teach physical, mental, moral, and spiritual fitness to young people.  
And so whenever I channel surf now and encounter one of those evangelicals seemingly spewing nonsense, I stop to think about how one person’s venom might be another person’s elixir, how people are at different stages of spiritual development and with different needs.   
If a person finds peace of mind while living a life of love and service to others, that is, I believe, what is most important. 
Unfortunately, the chaos, madness, and turmoil in our materialistic and hedonistic world today suggest that few people have such peace of mind and motivation.
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

How many times have I said that we must love the sinner and hate their sins. And our own. Hatred  of the sinners is so easy. It is a path of least resistance and we do love our own sins. Once on that path it may take a Divine smack around the ears to turn you 180 deg. 

How many times have I almost given up in the trying myself? 

Customers, visitors, we NEED the Grace of God.

I am not trying to convert you. I won't cut your head off. I won't take out a law suit if you don't sell me your cakes.

But I WILL pour for you a pint, a tankard, a cup, a glass of Fine Bevvie that my Supplier graciously allows me to give away.

Deep in the Cellars a light shines from the Crypt.

The world is a nasty place, all too often, and we may sometimes just want to give it away. But your heart and mind and Soul are YOURS, God-given.  

You can wash and polish them and give them back to God who will set you free.

Be not Afraid.


And have a better 2015 with greater physical, mental, moral, and spiritual fitness 


  1. This was awesome:). Just awesome. Very wise words my friend.

    1. God Bless. May God continue to speak to your heart, as He does so frequently.

  2. Giving away the bevvies? Quite right too!! :)

    "I often wonder what the vintner buys one half so precious as the goods he sells"

    1. Yes, it is a good job we don't have to work for it.. Mind you, the keys to the cellars are there for those who do.

  3. A heartwarming story :-)

    In some ways it reminds me of my Grandfather who was devout Christian. In his younger years he contracted pneumonia and nearly died. During the illness he had a near death experience, after which he devoted his life to God and the church. He taught young boys/men in Sunday School about Christianity and spiritually etc. He never had a bad word to say about anybody and always saw the best in others.

    I had a good teacher and he is someone I always aspire to be like :-)

    1. Something quite strange, and seemingly universal happens to people who escape the clutches of death by the skin of their teeth. The NDE is well documented now and while many will deny it is indicative of a life after death it does seem to have a profound and similar consequence to a life after a near brush..


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..