The other day I started to get this peculiar feeling moving through me. It took me a minute or two, but I finally realized what it was. I was missing the phone as my main computer. My MacBook was working fine (well, as fine as a MacBook can be expected to work). But, there’s something about using a 6” phone as my primary computer that makes me feel great. I’m not certain what it is.
So, I set a day and decided I would go back to it and see if anything was different this time around. (If you didn’t already know, you can read all of my reviews and assignments for my uThM program here).
So, let’s jump in and see how my walk down memory lane went.….
New Bible Software
Imagine my surprise when I took the time to explore again Olive Tree Bible Software and more specifically their mobile app and discover it solves all the stubbornly persistent issues that I have with Logos mobile app.
1. Logos I cannot scroll properly with a keyboard connected.
2. Logos I cannot search effectively with a keyboard connected (there is a glitch).
3. Logos I cannot use interlinears effectively (it remains hobbled).
4. Logos I cannot copy text to a word processor effectively.
All of these issues are resolved nicely in Olive Tree on Android. It was primarily because of this discovery that I though about trying Android again as a main computer. Why Logos continues to hobble it’s mobile app I’ll never understand. It makes no sense to leave the software broken or limited. But, they are not the only one. Accordance has done the same thing, but to a greater extent (which I’m not surprised since they are an even worse company than Logos).
The only downside to Olive Tree is the cost (though this actually isn’t all that much realistically). I would not have the same selection of commentaries that I currently do in Logos (Pulpit is not even available on Olivetree). It would cost between $100 – $500 to make Olivetree functional. It would never be as functional as Logos since Logos has more original languages and full text translations (you can’t get NKJV in Reverse Interlinear in OT only NT – you also can’t get the LXX in interlinear).
It would be functional and could be more useful in some ways than Logos, but that is just one piece to the puzzle.
But Clunky at Best
I started my day back to Android hopeful. I had devotional reading to do, plus I was finishing up on the last lectures of the book of Revelation at KI. Unfortunately, I find my return to the Android os quite terrible. Using it all summer, doing the re-writes and final edits of my dissertation on the phone seemed fine. But I must have been blocking out the tedium during that time. I could definitely and immediately tell a difference between using the Android and using a laptop.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of the Mac OS or its general environment. There are some things that really annoy me still using it. But, I ran screaming back to Mac after using the Android phone for just 15 minutes. I don’t even think I managed to get any actual work done during those 15 minutes. I was just getting things setup to start working and couldn’t even finish that.
Thankfully, the Mac was less than my windows machine (that fell apart if you recall within 2 months of purchase) and with a separate machine it has the potential of running my phone as a separate modem while at the Eden property, so I could “theoretically” have wifi available to the dugout shelter (if I ever manage to build it this summer).
Still Problem Wordprocessors
To date I have not been able to resolve the word pressing limitations on Android. To accomplish a “usable” substitute for Scrivener on Android requires two apps: Word for Android and Simplenotes. Unfortunately, simple notes still has limitations with formatting and it cannot handle large word counts (even my blog posts, though some of those run 30,000 words).
Android is Not Ready
Android is simply not ready for prime time at this point, in my opinion. I’m so fortunate that I was able to quickly switch to a used MacBook (it is not without its problems, but it is definitely a step up from Android). I don’t think I will ever be able to trust a windows machine again, sadly. There are just too many issues with bran new laptops, as if they are built to fail or build in such a sloppy and haphazard way that a certain percentage fail out of necessity. Either way, I cannot trust the manufacturers anymore, and, even if I could, they have priced me out of the market entirely.
Fortunately, Apple products have a cult-like following around them which produces a trade-in market for slightly used laptops for a fraction of what they would cost new. Certainly, I had to purchase an aftermarket battery. But this was unbelievably easy to replace on my own and was ridiculously cheap. While there are problems with MacBooks inherently (though I’m not certain why), with the number one gripe: they seem to go against logic in many areas of process. But, despite these annoyances, they do seem to be a function replacement (altogether definitely a step down) for the windows machines of today.
Let me make myself clear: I would never spend $1000 on a laptop and especially not on a MacBook. But, if I get two years out of this machine, it will be well worth the $300 I spent on the machine + the $50 I spent on the replacement battery.
I was quite surprised at how visceral my response was to going back to the Android space after being liberated this fall by the MacBook. If I’m being honest, though, I would love nothing better than to have the option to use just my phone in the future and I will be looking at new options as they present themselves. Technology is advancing rapidly. I can remember 8 Track tapes that my dad would use in his truck when we would go places. Cassette tapes were my generation (I never really caught on to CDs but went straight to mp3s from cassette tapes).
Android is close, to a point. If I did not need input so much (i.e. just used a device for consumption such as tv shows and podcasts) then I could see Android fitting the bill perfectly. But, because I need a keyboard and need to be able to write and potentially publish on Kindle and definitely publish to a blog and also study the Bible in depth, there is just no way around needing a full laptop. The MacBook (used) serves this purpose (though not well but good enough) until something better comes along.
Until my next update…
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Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:
There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.
“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.
He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.
Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.
“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”
He chuckled at himself.
“So – ”
Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.
“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”
Mr. Eckey nodded.
“How long have you been a novitiate here?”
“Going on seven months now.”
He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.
“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”
“It has been – ”
Christopher thought about the question for a moment.
“ – wonderful.”
“I would assume it much different than – ”
Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.
“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”
“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”
“Not really. I guess. I just – ”
Unwanted images flashed through his mind.
Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”
He tapped his pen on the tablet.
“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”
“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”
“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”
Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.
“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”
“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.
“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”
The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.
“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”
Mr. Eckey stopped writing.
“Your military career.”
“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”
Mr. Eckey put his pen down.
“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
He shifted his weight on the hard bench.
“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”
“Are you talking about another monastery?”
“Actually – ”
Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.
“It’s an entirely different Order.”
Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.
“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”
Mr. Eckey waited a moment.
“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”
“What about it?”
“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”
Christopher shot him a quizzical look.
“How do you know that?”
“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”
Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.
“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”
“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”
Christopher tried to relax.
He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.
A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.
He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.
Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.
“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”
“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey shook his head.
“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”
“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”
“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”
“I’m – I don’t – ”
“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”
Mr. Eckey interrupted.
“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”
“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”
“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”
“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”
“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.
“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.
Christopher said nothing.
“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”
The man shrugged.
“May I – ”
Christopher pondered his words.
“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”
Christopher shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”
“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”
He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.
“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”
“But, how – ”
Mr. Eckey put up a hand.
“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”
He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”
Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.
“What kind of need, exactly?”
The man just smiled.
“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”
Christopher looked back at the card.
“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”
He briefly looked around the grounds.
“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”
He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.
Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.
The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.
He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.
Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?
Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!
But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!