In 1992, when my 25 year marriage dissolved and I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the projects I was determined to pursue was an attempt to understand the meaning of life, or something in the neighborhood. I did a lot of thinking and planning about how to approach the matter in a way I considered the most likely possibility for success.
Part of the project involved learning everything I could about religions and metaphysics, and I began with an intense study of Christianity, early Christian history, pre-Nicean Christian documents, practices and beliefs at a time before anything qualified as Canon. For a couple of years I submerged myself in the subject.
During the same time period I got up 3:30 am and spent a couple of hours watching Christian television to get a better understanding of what was going on with Christianity today. I found I got a lot of enjoyment doing it, and I discovered one I liked particularly well and thought of almost as an old friend.
Garner Ted Armstrong. I spent a year or so in my early 20s working for Rainbow Baking Company in Houston loading bread trucks off a conveyor belt 12 hours a day, and I filled some of the solitude listening to Garner Ted over a portable radio and earpiece. I considered him one of the best rhetoricians of the 20th Century already when I found him preaching on television.
But what I hadn’t realized was his level of scholarship and open mindedness about Christian history. The fact I was submerged in it at the time led me to write a letter to him asking his take on some issues I’d found ambiguous.
From that time until his death several years later, Garner Ted Armstrong and I indulged in exchanges of 20 page letters discussing the nuances of Christian history, Christian texts, the implications of the Nag Hammadi codices, news coming out of the Dead Sea Scrolls, where Christianity had been and possibly where it was going.
A truly strange time of my life, though just one of those side-trails that had little to do with my coincident search and research involving a lost gold mine, nor with understanding the meaning of life. The former, I never found, and the latter, when I found it, didn’t need elaboration.
I still miss old Garner Ted Armstrong and those long letters.