Entry #4: Training and Study...

  • I remember, from the time I was a little boy, I had always wanted to be a superhero. Back when I was about four or five, I had the idea that I could learn how to develop superpowers, just from watching enough television, listening to enough radio, and reading enough books. My favourite characters included Batman, Beetlejuice, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Joker, and the Wolf-Man. I figured that, if I could unlock the secrets to their powers, I could duplicate them for myself, and become a superhero. I wanted the power to not feel afraid anymore. I wanted the power to keep the people I loved safe. Eventually, I realized that was impossible. I wasn't a billionaire, with the time to travel around the world and learn from mysterious vigilantes. I wasn't an undead trickster, with supernatural powers. I wasn't an animal-human hybrid. I was just a little boy, with a disturbed mind. That's why, when I was introduced to Jack T. Chick's version of Christianity, I latched on. I figured God would be watching over me, so I could just pray for the power to overcome insurmountable odds. Due to my religious beliefs at the time, the fact that I had almost snapped a schoolmate's neck when I was in the fifth grade, and being beaten down by a gang of six kids when I was in the sixth grade, I had sworn off my violent tendencies. Then, I started the seventh grade...

    Ever since I was a little boy, I used to love wrestling. I practically idolized figures like the Undertaker, Kane, and Mankind. I remember, when I was in middle school, my beliefs were shattered. It wasn't the end of the world; that was nowhere near close. I wasn't meant to suffer for my faith. God wouldn't want me to put myself in situations, in which I would needlessly suffer. In the back of my mind, there was always this voice that told me that God had turned His back on me. After eighteen months of persecution by the local school board and the juvenile court, the death of my best friend from a condition he had from birth, and the mutilation of my toes by a lawnmower, I was desperate. I had learned to develop a persona that could be used to scare people away. I also became involved in witchcraft. I dedicated myself to Wicca for a few years, but I soon discovered that the power offered by Wicca was less than I desired. I sought other sources of power from a variety of philosophies, religions, and magickal paths. I became involved in demonomancy, and made myself believe I was some sort of vampire. I was disturbed, I was traumatized, I was delusional, and I was alone, afraid to talk to anybody about what was going on in my mind. I made plenty of friends in the wrong crowd...

    When I was about ten, I got my first slap in the face from what I thought was reality. I had been told that superheroes were not real. That's why, being poor and homeless, by the time I turned sixteen, I had decided that I would be ordained by the Universal Life Church; since they offered to ordain anybody of any religion, and I had been mostly exposed to the influence of ministers and their ability to make positive changes in their communities, I figured I would have the authority to do whatever it took to help people, no matter where the future took me.

    Since around the age of five, my father had been talking to me about self-defense, and when I turned seven, he began teaching me techniques he had learned as a veteran, and through the many other types of jobs he'd accepted throughout his life. He had also been training me in basic survival skills. After I graduated high school, with money almost nonexistent and my family having been kicked out of our apartment, I decided it would be a good idea to join a branch of the military; eventually, I settled on the Army. I figured I would learn skills I could use to be the closest thing to a real-life superhero, and I could send home whatever money I didn't need for my family. I had a few problems in Basic Combat Training, mainly related to persistent shin-splints and psychological pressure. Before I could graduate to Advanced Individual Training, I was given a general discharge, under medical conditions. It's known as a Chapter-2 discharge: a medical condition, which existed prior to service. As it was a psychological issue, I was told that, if I got permission from a psychologist or psychiatrist, I would be allowed to re-enlist. Of course, I eventually learned that, given my condition, that would be nearly impossible...

    Once I got out of the Army, I had a plan to become a cop, or a firefighter, or an E.M.T. I didn't have the money to get training to be an E.M.T., but firefighting and police-work both still seemed to be available options. I started college, around the same year I was baptized and really became a Christian. My goal was to get an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice. I had to drop out of college, and quit my job, because my family had to move; again, we were forced out of our apartment.

    About a year later, I decided to go for a religious degree: a Bachelor's degree in Religion. I figured, if I couldn't get a degree in Criminal Justice, I could make something of my ordination. I got through the introduction to the Old Testament, and fundamentals of Evangelism, before I had to drop out again; being homeless makes any form of higher education very difficult. I did manage to get a position with Precognito magazine online, as their "Ministry and Prayers" columnist, but that didn't last for too long; I knew I didn't fit their publication anyway, so this was just a step in one of many possible directions.

    About a year or two later, I had a chance to start making my own way in life, but I wasn't too sure about trying college again; after all, I was a two-time drop-out. I remembered that the Universal Life Church sold a Doctor of Biblical Studies degree, if you had $50.00 and could pass a 900+ question exam with 75% accuracy. I made them a deal: if I grammatically revised their textbook on the Universal Life Church, I could take the test, and get the degree. I got 97% accuracy on the exam, and now have a Doctor of Biblical Studies degree from them. I then got a chance to be a guest speaker for a Sunday school class at the local Methodist Church, and the class was kindly enough to occasionally collect money for me. Here I was, a failure in so many ways, getting paid to teach about the Bible! I also was given a position in their local choir, though I wasn't a member of their Church. Things were looking up for me, and in my optimistic state, I decided to try college again. I enrolled for a Bachelor's degree in Business, with a concentration in Management. I had decided this would be the first step in my goal to get a Doctor's degree in Psychology, and become a Psychologist. Again, we had to move; this time, I was able to stay enrolled...

    I had gotten through several courses on Business, Marketing, Advertising, Human Resources, Logic, Psychology, Religion and Philosophy, Fundamentals of E-Commerce, and other such topics. Around this time, I met a couple of young women online, who needed help, but they were too reserved to get help from just anyone. Through a series of events and conversations, I became one woman's boyfriend. We were together for almost a year, and during that time, I used the dynamic of our relationship to help her deal with her issues. Unfortunately for me, all that attention I gave her ate into my performance in school, so I failed two of my courses. I requested to be re-enrolled in those courses, and was re-enrolled. At the time, the school was switching operating systems, so the courses had a few bugs. I was able to pass my Biology course with flying colours, even without the book; though I kept regularly participating in coursework for the other course, the glitches in the system kept my work from showing up, let alone being counted or graded, so I failed that course again. At first, I was told I had to print and mail a letter, requesting to be re-enrolled in the course, due to extenuating circumstances, for a third try; once I did, I was told that I had been dropped from the roster at the school, and had to send in another letter, requesting to be re-enrolled in the school, itself. I was frustrated, and decided to not re-enroll. That left me with a debt with the school, as well as loan companies, which I could not repay, and which made getting my personal transcripts from them impossible, meaning I couldn't enroll in any other institution with accreditation. On top of this, my girlfriend left me for someone else, who was manipulative and emotionally abusive, and I refused to let her suffer at his hands, or anyone else's. Fortunately, I had been studying a variety of manuals - some modern military manuals on counterguerrilla, counterinsurgency, psychological, intelligence and interrogation, reconaissance and surveillance, and other such operations; historic manuals on covert activity, espionage, and warfare; and a private course that was offered by a man who claimed to be a private detective (the resources available to me seemed to confirm his claims at the time, but a friend with the I.R.S. found out the truth much later), offering instruction in private investigation, using principles of ninjutsu, as covered in historically authentic manuals (which I was studying, as well), - and knew how to develop an intricate and cunning strategy to expose him to her, and break them up, before he could do worse damage. I then started dating the other woman I knew, who turned out to have worse issues. After we broke up, we remained friends, which was my original goal, and she still comes to me for advice and encouragement.

    I had considered a career as a cop or firefighter again, but I was reminded that my diagnoses had become more serious over time, and no public institution like these would hire me, with that on my record. I still wanted to help people and expose criminals. I had been ordained with the National Association of Christian Ministers since 2010, and decided to take advantage of their offers of free training. I took their leadership course, and passed it. Around this time, I had also enrolled in "B.B.N. Bible Institute", which is more of a series of programs intended for personal development than any official standard of recognition of skill or knowledge in Biblical studies; when I had found out about Bible University, an institution that is unaccredited - religious educational institutions don't require accreditation, as long as the degrees they offer are purely religious in nature, - yet is recognized by the state of Missouri as a non-profit educational institution, and I'm working my way toward a Doctor's degree in Biblical Studies with them. I also took, and passed, a course for chaplain certification, with the N.A.C.M., through David J. Basham Ministries. Along with all these studies, I have since been studying private investigation from a legitimate resource (a free short course on private investigation, offered by several private detectives in Texas, found at http://www.pimall.com/nais/sc.html), publications on investigation, forensics, forensic chemistry, and related subjects, a social engineering resource that covers ways that social engineers gain sensitive information from people for a variety of reasons, which includes information on manipuative tactics (found at http://www.social-engineer.org), more material on self-defense and survival, how to think like Sherlock Holmes, principles of neuro-linguistic programming, and principles of Ericksonian hypnosis. I've successfully used these skills to talk people out of attempts at suicide, to help a woman with five personalities reconcile them all, and expose a few frauds and sexual predators. I also use a free online diet and exercise resource for effective, fun, full-body workouts that include useful self-defense tactics (http:/www.darebee.com), and when I stick to the Atkins diet, it helps me lose weight rapidly, and maintain my health.

    I am a certified chaplain. I am a Christian minister. I have certification in Biblical Studies, and have studied a variety of scientific and practical subjects. I study anything and everything of interest, regardless of whether or not I can get certified in it. The material is free and available; all you need to do is make sure it's from legitimate resources. One thing I've personally found to be true, is that the principles behind these skills can often be found in serious, sensible Bible study... but, that's just my two cents. This much is certain: being a "real-life superhero", or just being a decent person, isn't about having magnificent powers, or incredible skills; it's about constantly improving yourself. It's about having the will to get the skill, and having the will to do what needs to be done, to make the world a better place.