Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Jim Preacher, Jim Hunter, Jim Reader

Three things happened to me before I was twelve years old that had a lasting impact on the direction of my life. In no particular order here they are.

I got saved. That’s how you say it if you’re a Southern Baptist born and raised behind the buckle of the Bible Belt. It was a God thing that caught me by surprise the last night of a summer revival in the Union Baptist Church of Harris County, Ga in 1957. I was almost twelve. I had spent the first three years of my life literally in sight of the church and the next nine years just about twice that distance to the northwest, still in easy shouting distance. All my ancestors on my Mom’s side of the family rest beneath Georgia marble in the adjoining cemetery. That little spot of terra firma remains to this day, my genealogical and spiritual touchstone.

The second thing that happened was so gradual I don’t remember a day, a time or a place. It was such a natural part of my life that I just assumed it was normal and universal. Dad was a bird hunter. A new bird hunter, converted during my early childhood from the lowly rabbit hunting crowd, to the new sport of wing shooting. I grew up with the scent of gun oil, dead quail, and wet bird dogs in my nostrils. It was a virus, an addiction, and a passion that literally consumed me and shows no signs of remission, short of death.

Last but not least was the impact of books on my young mind. Momma was an English teacher. Daddy was an eighth grade dropout who loved to read westerns. He traded them with men he knew in town and he kept them on top of a tall black chifforobe in the back of the hall in our home. As a young boy not yet old enough to read big words, I would climb precariously on a stool and pull the paperbacks to the edge just to look at the covers. And there I would see the grimacing cowboys as they fired their .45 Colts, flame stabbing out of the muzzles, at unseen villians. I knew great adventure lay between those covers. I just didn’t know how much.

And then the day arrived when I was taken to the public library in town for the first time. I got my own library card. I couldn’t believe how many books were on those shelves. I signed up for the summer reading program. I could not wait to begin. So many books, so little time. I read every day. I read every week. In the eighth grade I took a special speed reading class. That next summer I read Gone With The Wind in one day!

I still haven’t read them all but I have made a dent and I’m still going strong. At least three books every week. Books of all kinds. Fiction, non-fiction, ministry related and non ministry related, it makes no difference to me. Only one test for authors I read. Can you keep my attention, cover to cover? If not, move aside. There are simply too many other possibilities to consider.

I recently discovered a new suspense author, Lee Child. He writes the Jack Reacher novels. I like the name. I like the stories. I like novelists who can keep me turning the pages. Lee Child can.

Jack Reacher, the hero of the novels, is a homeless wanderer. He was a major in the Army before downsizing took place after the Cold War. Now he just roams the United States, discovering America from the under side. A tourist without a car or any property holding him back, he wanders wherever the impulse leads him. The stories are adventures he falls into intentionally or accidentally. People simply call him “Reacher.”

I like that name, “Reacher”.

I may name my next bird dog “Reacher”.

In the meantime I’m Jim Preacher, Jim Hunter, and Jim Reader.

But you can call me “Preacher” or “Hunter” or just “Reader.”


Anonymous Aaron said...

Just found your blog. I'm a big fan of Jim Hunter but that's just me. How's Jake Hunter doing?

5/31/2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Shaver said...

Jake Hunter is doing well thank you. He is looking forward to the arrival in September of a new kennel mate. A female like him who will be 8 weeks old.

5/31/2006 9:05 AM  

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