My beautiful picture

The author spear fishing in the Caribbean 42 years ago


Steve Dresselhaus – April 2013

Time to get it out in the open,  to come out of hiding.  I have been living a double life for far too long.  Time to confess,   to stop the hypocritical charade, to  take my lumps and be done with my secret life once and for all.    I am …..  (pause for effect and to build tension)  …. I am an environmentalist.    I am a  JFG  –  a  Jesus  Following Greenie.    Done.  My secret is out.  Let the chips fall where they may, but  at long last, I am free to be me.  This is my identity.   This is who I am.  Some of you will be disappointed, shocked,  possibly even angered by my  revealing of this secret, but as  Martin Luther once said, “Here I stand.  I can do no other.”   As I write this there are cathartic tears of joy in my eyes.  My breathing is heavy and my chest is tight with emotion, but at least I am breathing free  and my heart is beating without chains.    I know some  will be shocked, but… I have to be me, I must be me.

I suppose I have known this all my life but could tell no one.  How could  a ten year old boy let his fundamentalist,  conservative world know that he was different from the other boys and that he liked to  ….. hike in the mountains and to sleep outdoors?   That he would rather swim in a mountain stream  than play basketball like the “normal” boys?   That he would rather watch dragonflies skimming puddles than listen to football games on the radio or watch them on TV?  I was not like the other boys.  Throwing plastic bouncing spheres through metal rings failed to excite me the way watching  wild guppies eat mosquito larvae in the nearby wetland did.   I couldn’t help it.  It was almost like a power outside of me that kept me from wanting to run back and forth countless times  on a court while throwing  the plastic sphere  to sweaty boys arguing with the refs and complaining about bad calls.

My parents, though well-meaning,  fed my  struggles unknowingly.   They took the family camping often and made many, many trips to the beach with the family; and my dad got me into SCUBA diving in the formative and impressionable stage of life when I was only twelve.  How could that not have changed my identity, who I was and what I thought of myself?   Even in my pre-teen years, my dad would take me on father and son trips to visit tribal groups in the  remote  jungles of South America where I grew up.  Bush planes and dugout canoes were how we got to these villages.  Could he not see what he was doing to me by these trips?  He would hike with me up Andes ridges,  the wind blowing in our faces, the roar of waterfalls in our ears and  majestic views in our eyes.    Is it any wonder I have become what I am with the way my father treated me?

The way my parents brought me up–and I don’t criticize their good intentions, and I can’t expect them to know what they were doing to me–led me to a life of  studying resources management in college,  becoming a multi-agency and multi-certified SCUBA instructor by the time I was 21, a certified sea kayaking instructor,  a solo camper, and a hiker.  It led to a life of looking at magazines  behind the closed doors of my bedroom late into the night.   National Geographic,  Skin Diver Magazine,  Outdoor  Life and  Backpacker Magazine  littered my room and were stuffed under my bed.    My mom one time caught me watching Mutual of Omaha’s ”Wild Kingdom,”  starring Marlon Perkins, on TV.  She kept any emotion at her discovery  to herself, so I didn’t know how to react at being caught.

When I went off to college and was alone and without parental supervision, I  became involved in  fringe groups like campus recreation.   My newfound friends accepted me for who I was and taught me things like how to wax cross country skis, to do solo camping in the winter snow,  and to lead groups of college kids on camping trips.   I continued on in the silent, nearly invisible  world of SCUBA  and taught SCUBA classes even while  taking a full load of classes myself, classes like geology, biology, climatology,  and even classes on park forestry.

Now  I am out in the open.  I am an environmentalist.  I want to worship God by admiring his work.  I want to obey God by managing his creation  the way he instructed us to in the beginning.  I want to preserve the health of our beautiful planet so that it will continue to provide abundantly for all of its inhabitants the way God designed it.  I want it to be beautiful so that when he returns, he can look at what he left us to care for and say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


Stuck in a rut, Stuck in a rut, Stuck in a rut, Stuck in a rut, Stuck in rut, Stuck in a rut, stuck in a rut……



Steve Dresselhaus March, 2013

My wife has given me her permission to be a bit eccentric as long as I don’t go too weird on her.  By eccentric, we are not talking about the goofy uncle who lives in a run-down house with weeds in the yard who yells at kids on Halloween and  hoards every paper that comes into his house.   I’m thinking more in terms of wearing brightly colored T-shirts with colors which  clash with the wear-to-the-office shirt, never wearing anything but jeans, and riding a bicycle the three miles to work every day of the year, come rain, intense cold,  hellish heat or any other  type of weather  mother nature has in her arsenal.   I also like to eat liver, Brussels sprouts and pickled herring.    Within my wife’s  limited standards of acceptable eccentricity, I am free to rethink everything about life, although she may balk at some of the applications to life I dream up.  Nonetheless, she does not frown on me  discussing with her my shifting views of biblical end times theology,  my woeful  and acknowledged  ignorance of what prayer truly is,  my growing horror at the idolatrous worship of money and possessions  in America,  my nagging fear that what we normally  call church in America is nearing terminal collapse,  the approaching disintegration of our economy as the need for incessant growth  collides with the reality of finite resources and a limited number of consumers, my joy at the rapid growth of environmental concern by followers of Jesus,  my partial utopian  view that when followers of Jesus really learn what it means for the church to be the bride of Christ we will become an unstoppable juggernaut for good and transformation,  and the reviewing in my mind of virtually everything I grew up thinking I believed.  My wife patiently   and gently puts up with all my mental eccentricities,  making her a qualified candidate for canonization far beyond what Mother Theresa ever was.

On my  daily weather-ignoring  bike ride to work,  there is a block-long discontinuation  of the street.    This puts me on a narrow path across a grassy field before the street picks up again.   The path is a bike trail and also a walking path for all the neighborhood kids who walk to and from the local high school.  The twice a day drum beat of teenaged feet and the daily pressure from those of us who ride bikes has turned the path into a foot-and-a-half-wide,  six-inch-deep rut.    It looks kind of like one-half of the old Conestoga-wagon- dug Oregon trail we see pictures of in history books.

As soon as I leave the street  and am in the trail I become  like those little electric race cars where the guide  fits into the slot in the track.  I am committed to the rut.  I am stuck in it.  Sometimes being stuck in the rut is comfortable, but sometimes it is miserable.  On rainy days the rut gets wet and muddy, and slogging through the mushy rut on my  bike takes extra energy and concentration.  In the winter the rut fills with snow, making pedaling through  it a true cardiovascular workout.  During the changes in season, the soft gushy mud often freezes and the freshly imprinted tire tracks become  sharp, jagged  mini ruts that make balance difficult as I bounce and bump my way to the office.  The mini rut bumps are to my backside what screeching nails on a chalkboard are to my ears (back in the day when such ancient stuff was used).

Sometimes being  stuck in the rut is very comfortable and I don’t even have to  think about where I am headed; history, tradition and others are taking me where they have always gone.    At other times being trapped in the rut is too much to endure and I have to get out.  I have learned a valuable lesson in rut exiting.   Trying to gently ease my way out of the rut is a lot of work and is seldom successful.  As I try to gradually and  gently steer the front wheel of my bike up and out, it almost always just slides back into the rut.  Not only do I fail at exiting the rut but I also often struggle to maintain balance as I fall back in.  The only way out of the rut is to make a determined and energetic quick turn.  There is always a momentary jerk, a bounce, and a short struggle for balance; but I do get out.

My morning  bicycle commute is a daily reminder to me of both the comforts and dangers of ruts.  What other ruts am I in?  Sunday church?   Formulaic daily Bible reading?   Overeating?  NCIS reruns?   Routine life in suburbia?  An interminable chain of 9 to 5’s?  The false comfort of materialistic isolation?    A rut has been described by someone more clever than I as a grave with both ends kicked out.  In what ruts am I stuck  from which I need to escape? Willful and selective eccentricity can often be  a good thing if it motivates us to  challenge our assumptions and frees us to make the quick turns which can  liberate us from  life’s ruts.   Choose your  exits.  It’s time.



Steve Dresselhaus

The scream was real.  It wasn’t a fake scream, a Hollywood production scream,  or a dream scream created by my own hyperactive brain cells.   It was an audible scream, not a scream indicating physical pain nor a scream openly proclaiming terror.  It was a scream revealing emotional pain so real and so great  it could no longer be contained.  I turned immediately to seek out the source of the scream, my hero wannabe hormones kicking into high gear. 

Emerging from the alley  I had just  walked past in the horribly misnamed slums of  La Paz  (The Peace) in Guatemala  City,  came a woman in her late teens, or mid-forties or her fifties.  Her hair was long and tangled in filthy and unintentional  dreadlocks.  Her face was dirty, almost muddy looking;  from what, I have no idea.  Hours of crying in the never-cleaned alleys of the slums?  I don’t know,  but the  muddy streaks on her wet face were not from running mascara.

She wore a  mottled brown-gray T-shirt which someone had originally purchased as a  black garment  but which was now  dust  and dirt covered in a modern,  urban-poor camo.  Her pants were orange, or probably had been at one time.  As was her face, the pants were muddy–very muddy–but the ingredients making the mud were obvious; she had wet herself.  Both her front and back and both thighs  down to her knees were very wet, very dirty, very muddy.

If misery could be painted in a paint-by-number  kit, the misery in this scream would have only  one number, only one color – deepest,  darkest, lightless black.  The desperation in her scream stuck in my ears and is now stuck in my mind, and it is hurting my heart.   I cannot begin to fathom the depth of agony revealed in that scream.  Was she screaming at something that had just been perpetrated on her by some depraved man?  Did her wet pants reveal to her the kind of life which lay before her?   Did she scream because she had come to understand that she was living her future now and that barring purposeful, directed,  divine intervention  she was destined  like water to always keep going down, down , down, down until there was no place farther to fall? 

She stumbled a few more steps and lurched her way into a house that opened to the dirty street I was on.   She was gone, but the memory of what I saw and what I heard  this afternoon is not.  I hope it never  totally goes away.  I want to remember this moment as a reminder of what Jesus sees when he looks at the world.  I heard and saw the misery of that one  moment, that one tiny slice of time.  Jesus looks down and he sees all the components which when assembled  birthed this scream – the neglect, the abuse, the brain altering pseudo-escape of drugs,  the corruption of the ruling class, the greed of many,  the men who selfishly took from this young woman over and over again that which was not theirs to take. 

I am now in the position to do something about cases like this, perhaps not this particular case, because it is now part of Earth’s tragic history.    But there are many other cases, billions of them, as many as there are people on this planet, which have yet to occur but which are preventable  if we who are followers of Jesus will simply obey and  do  what he has told us to do.   Jesus tells us in Luke 19:10 that he came to seek and save that which was lost.  He did not come to create a religious hierarchy, content with maintaining itself in a diabolical status quo of comfort,  of spiritual hedonism or of the self-delusion that religious activity is enough.   He came to save those who have screamed, are screaming and are about to scream.  And he chose you and me to be his instruments to silence the  screams, not by muffling them or ignoring them but by serving those who are hurting so they will have no need to scream. 

I never intended to use my blog as a platform for doing my real job, the one I get paid to do, but I’m going to do so right now.   I am an executive with a non-profit agency which sends workers around the world to start churches, hospitals, schools, and ministries that care for the environment,  serve  victims of human trafficking, and carry out many other  ministries of love and compassion.  Let’s work together to silence the screams.  Go to and learn how, if you are a follower of Jesus, you can have a role in silencing the screams.  Thank you.

I followed up a bit on the woman who screamed.  Through a Christians social worker I learned that the woman is in her early forties.  She is permanently disabled because of her drug consumption.  She has five children,  each of whom was taken from her by the authorities.  She scores her drugs by bartering for them with her body.  The men with whom she “does business” are the scavengers who spend their days in the city dump.