All posts filed under: Resilience

Harvard Business School

Rented a room in a boarding house occupied by Harvard graduate students in Allston, about six blocks from campus, to save money. Loretta arranged her classes so she could get all her work done between Monday and Thursday, leaving her free to drive up on Fridays to join me in my Friday afternoon classes and then for us to have the weekend together. Of course studying with the business elite caused some cognitive dissonance with my small town working class worldview. It assumed a level of privilege setting them apart from average people. Was both abhorred by and lusted after status. Walking to campus passed by a poor black housing project at the edge of campus. One snowy evening kids were out throwing snowballs at passing cars as I walked past with my case notes and briefcase. Became the target of their snowballs, of their anger, and soon was being pelted with ice and rocks as well. This privileged white guy, briefcase in hand, became a target for the anger of these poor black public …

Salvation

Just before school ended I met a remarkable woman who attracted me immediately. Loretta sparked something in me. She was a Chinese American freshman, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, who decided to run for treasurer of the Yale Political Union. Loretta thought of herself as a secular humanist, a California girl, yet had her father’s Chinese Taoist orientation to life and her mother’s hard headed Shanghai commercial acumen. She was running against a rather annoying liberal who initially had the support of the Party of the Right. Loretta was fearless, having been a California extemporaneous debater. She was smart, articulate, and sincere. She was also attractive and full of life! When she spoke to the Party of the Right caucus she won my heart. My rhetoric swung some votes her way. She won the election in a landslide. Asked her out on a date but she had other plans. We went our separate ways for the summer. Yet it seemed everywhere I went on campus Loretta was there: walking between classes, at the library or …

Selling Books

My Yale financial aid package assumed drawing on my savings, work study 10 hours a week while at school, working every summer, and my parents contributing $1500 each year, totaling cash payments of $5,500 each year towards my Yale education. However with my unpaid internship at the law firm and political activities I hadn’t any paid work my entire freshman year. My parents contributed nothing. I had dug myself into what felt like a deep financial hole. Didn’t have enough money left to pay for my sophomore year. Perhaps could earn $2,000 my sophomore year working at the law firm but even using up the last of my savings would still need to net $2000 of additional savings during the summer or take a semester off to earn money. And if I took a semester off might never return to Yale. Staying at Yale would mean finding a temporary summer job at the age of 18 earning at least $6 per hour (equivalent to $29 per hour today). Such jobs did not exist for teenagers …

Surviving Yale’s Maelstrom

Father drove me to New Haven with all my clothes and possessions, except my books, fitting in one large and one small suitcase. Had never been away from home for any extended period of time. Father still had strong reservations about my college choice. He said the only person he ever knew to go to Yale, the smartest person he knew, flunked out his freshman year. Told me not to be afraid to come home when I inevitably flunked out. He shook my hand and headed home. Determined then and there to graduate from Yale, or die trying, or else move to another part of the country. Was completely alone for the first time in my life. Was thrilled. Was terrified. Perhaps my Dad was right, with no idea what lay ahead of me, the next five years would shape me in ways the University of Rhode Island never could have. Would never return to Tiverton, RI again except for infrequent visits. In high school I had won the WALE Radio Outstanding English Student prize, …

Diverse Baptisms

Baptist youth achieve young adulthood around the age of thirteen. They become Christians by studying their Bible, faithfully attending worship services, participating in Christian youth activities, and being plunged below moving water in what Baptists call full immersion baptism. As I approached my thirteenth birthday was quite ambivalent about being baptized. Didn’t know if God thought I was ready yet. But my kid sister Pat, eleven months younger than me, declared she felt ready. So ready or not prepared to take the plunge! Knew what to expect from reading about Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:10: “Just as he was coming up out of the water he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him.” Was pretty sure the affirmation Jesus received from God: “You are my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” was unique to his situation. But was still counting on seeing the heavens opening and descent of the spirit. At least some kind of warm feeling of welcome and well done good and faithful …

Jim Sherblom - Transitions

Baptists Love Freely

In 1638 twenty three Baptist exiles from the colony of Massachusetts had signed the Portsmouth Compact, and baptized each other in Founder’s Brook to create America’s first Baptist church, soon to be located in Providence, RI. On my second birthday, October 6, 1957, my father Rev. Edward Sherblom at the age of 36 became the founding pastor of Founder’s Memorial Baptist Church in Portsmouth RI with three dozen members in this newly covenanted freely loving Baptist congregation. That Sunday’s Providence Journal includes a wonderful picture of Ed holding me, his two year old son James Peter, named after James the first head of the church in Jerusalem and Peter the first head of the church in Rome, explaining the Portsmouth Compact to me. Growing up in a minister’s family, as a preacher’s kid, often has an incredible impact on a child, usually positive. In the Baptist tradition a minister is expected to look for signs of the Holy Spirit in at least one child in every generation and groom that child for the Baptist ministry. …

Small Town Limitations

Growing up in small town America created limits on my worldview. I was the clever but academically unmotivated student teacher’s hate. I loved to learn purely for the sake of learning but was not particularly motivated to try and meet parents’ or teachers’ expectations of me. I mastered reading before I even started school but I bored quickly in first grade reading classes. For my first three years of school what happened at recess was far more interesting and exciting than whatever happened between recesses. I read at home but seldom participated in class. Our Second grade teacher introduced us to what was called the New Math, carefully explained in some hand-outs our teacher distributed, but which she failed to understand. So I read the hand-outs, solved the math problems, and when my answers matched her teacher’s guide she had me teach the rest of the class this New Math. I loved teaching but was generally bored with school and was generally known as a wise cracker and class joker. I played with the boys …

Jim Sherblom in 1961

My Family of origin

In order to survive and thrive in a turbulent world, I became a storyteller. My story begins on a sunny early Saturday in 1961 in Newport, RI. Nature was green and alive. Five year old Jay raced his eight mostly older siblings across the lush lawn of the Baptist Ministers retirement home. He was intent on beating them to the used book tables at the home’s annual bazaar. Jay loved books. Every June his family would go to this giant yard sale to help support the retired ministers. Jay clutched a single quarter in his small fist, the spending money his mother had given him for the day, and he wanted to spend it all on books. Adult books were each a quarter, children’s hard cover books a dime, and children’s paperbacks a nickel each. For a five year old Jay was unusually goal oriented and focused. He quickly calculated he could only buy a few books unless he found some way to do better. Carefully picking up and perusing each book he soon caught …