Tempus fugit: Time on pilot’s hands put to good use by Robert Turner

By Robert Turner

I am a proud member of FFRF. I currently live in Ohio but am in the process of moving to Burlington, Vt. I was born in the San Francisco Bay area but my family moved around, my father being in the airline business.

Both my parents are deceased, but I have two sisters, who live in the Midwest, and a son, who is a software engineer, currently living in Vermont. I am a pilot flying for a major airline and have been a professional pilot for 28 years. I learned to fly when I was 17 and had my private license while I was still in high school (yes, I took my friends flying then, unbeknownst to their parents!).

As a pilot, I moved around a lot through my career and have lived in New Mexico, Wyoming, Denver, Houston, Guam, Ohio and points in between. I truly enjoy what I do, though the life of a pilot does have its challenges.

One of my longtime hobbies is woodworking. I find a lot of solace there, and sawdust. Once while in college, I took a three-dimensional design class and learned of these lovely wooden-geared clocks. I thought it would be something to be able to make one some day.

Many of my early woodworking projects were born through the expertise of Norm Abram and his show “The New Yankee Workshop.” I loved that show and his simple but expert way of crafting wood into nice pieces of furniture. I have built, and given away, many of his various projects.

After years of crooked tables and split door panels, I finally figured out how to create a decent little piece of furniture and musical instruments like autoharps, Irish flutes and cigar-box guitars. Along with woodworking, I also learned to repair old cuckoo clocks and mantle clocks. Why not merge hobbies? Why not get around to building wooden-geared clocks?

I built a few before deciding to build one for FFRF. I wanted to add something special to the new Freethought Hall. I wanted to put my own hands into something that could add a little joy or solace to members’ lives. I wanted members to be reminded that they are not alone.
I admire people throughout history who were not one-dimensional, someone like Ben Franklin. He was a businessman, writer, inventor and statesman who bucked convention. He also had a sense of humor. One of my favorite quotes of his is: “I conceive that miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.”

A few of my favorite things are ukulele music, pizza (any kind), time spent with loved ones, learning that your kid knows more than you about something, finishing a project, listening to Penn Jillette on his “Penn’s Sunday School” podcast, pulling a jet skyward on a sunny morning.
My least favorite things are auto-correct, moving, time away from loved ones, learning that your kid knows more than you about something, finishing a project, pulling a jet skyward during a blizzard.

I have been skeptical about religion for as long as I can remember. My mother tried to drag us to church in the beginning, but even as a child it felt wrong. It didn’t make sense. My religious friends seemed a little nutty. They all disagreed with each other — Mormons, Catholics, fundamentalists. Nothing made sense to me except natural science and history.

As a young man, I was approached while in college by hard-sell, born-again Christians. They seem like used car salesmen to me. They feed on the insecure and impressionable. I saw one of my teenage sisters and the sister of my spouse get sucked in at that vulnerable age. I saw how their lives were ruined, their young hopes of education and a reasonable income destroyed for poverty and ignorance and disdain for various other groups of people. Thankfully, my sister saw the light a decade later, finally achieving her Ph.D. as she joined the world of the rational.
These churches are cults by every definition, no matter how large. One of the most impressionable moments I had confirming myself as an atheist came when a respected mentor, an old and religious pilot, told me that on his mother’s deathbed he told her that if she didn’t accept Jesus as her savior, she was going to hell. Fine son, indeed!

I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. If you do too, take the bible out. If you don’t see an FFRF sticker in it (that I may have put there) please put one in yourself, or put the book “in far, far better place.”

Please stop by Freethought Hall in Madison, say hi to Dan and take a look at my little clock. Take a look at the scroll-sawn gears, the maple pegs, the black walnut frame, the wood taken from an old tree on my friend’s land on Johnson’s Island, Ohio.

Listen to the soothing tick of wood on wood. It’s there for you to enjoy.

Freedom From Religion Foundation