Jack (Mike) High

Profile Updated: June 3, 2015
Residing In: Oklahoma City, OK USA
Spouse/Partner: Jonna (Powell) High
Are you retired? Yes
Children: Jodie, born 1982; Jon, born 1990; Mitch, born 1992.
Occupations:

Presbyterian Minister (PCUSA. EPC)
In this capacity I served three mission churches in Harlan Co., KY (1973-78); Castle Shannon Presbyterian Church in metropolitan area of Pittsburgh, PA (1978-1985); First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Pierce, FL (1986-1992); First Presbyterian Church of Independence, IA (1994-1997), First Presbyterian Church of Bemidji, MN (1997-2004). I started and EPC congregation entitled Cornerstone Community in 2005-2010.
My mom's health began to fail as well as Jonna's parents were aging, so we came home in June of 2010 to help care for them. I teach a men's Bible Study at Nichols Hills Methodist Church with predominantly men and take part in Kairos International prison ministries.

Grandchildren (and great grandchildren):

Two of three are married but no grandchidlren yet.

Where all have you lived since graduating from Harding?

Attended University of Oklahoma, the McCormick Seminary 1969-73 Chicago, IL
D.Min received 1998 from Phillips Theological Sem.
Cawood, KY (mission parish) 1973-78;
Castle Shannon, PA - borough of PGH, 1978-85
Ft. Pierce, FL (1985-92)
Oklahoma City (1992-4) worked on D. Min.
Independence, IA (1994-97)
Bemidji, MN (1997-2010
Oklahoma City (2010-present)

Bucket List?

Jonna and I like to scuba dive, usually in Mexico.
I enjoy studiing and teaching Bible and going on Kairos events into prisons for four days at a time, except sleep in church at night. Presently in Revelation.
I had a heart attack back in 2001 so I take long walks to keep the heart going, and still love to play the fiddle in worship bands and on other occasions.

Jack (Mike)'s Recent Comments

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Jul 26, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Posted on: Jun 16, 2015 at 8:37 AM

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceaseth; His mercy never comes to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning, great is your faithfulness, O Lord. Great is your faithfulness." Chorus from Lamentations 3:22-23

Perhaps you have suspected by this time that preachers like to tell stories. In my case, subject to the frailties of memory, true ones. I have tried to tell stories about our teachers idiosyncracies seen through my adolescent eyes in a way and with a humor that poked as much fun at me as at them.

I shared the above Scripture to let you know that in my present life I have some appreciation for where this teacher was coming from, an appreciation I totally lacked when I had Clarice Wiser as a junior at Harding. I didn't like her, but in retrospect realize that I contributed heavily to the problem.

Trust me, almost nobody wants to be a preacher in junior or senior high school. In those days, many, perhaps most of us, went to church on Sunday at the behest of our parents. I now have fond memories of those days, but like my brother-in-law Cleve couldn't wait to get out from under the requirement of Sunday School and church on Sunday. One of our favorite stories is that he went to his Dad when he was fifteen and asked "When am I old enough to decide whether I want to go to church or not for myself." His Dad with Solomonic wisdom answered, "Well, if I were to say you were old enough now, what would you do?" Cleve answered, "I wouldn't go." His Dad responded, "Then you're not old enough."

I might add that a traveling professor when I was in seventh grade announced before my youth group, "Mike, God has a call on your life and when you grow up you are going to be a minister of the Word." I went home complaining about how he had humiliated me in front of my peers.

It seemed to me that at Harding while most of us paid lip service to Christianity that anyone who took a stand or exposed their piety were relegated to the quixotic category of rescuing damsels or jousting with windmills or just plain acting like a holy Joe. So like most adolescents who craved the approval of their peers, I wanted to avoid any appearance of dreaming impossible dreams.

I loved to read books, and by the time I was a junior in high school I had actually read a lot of books by people who did not believe there was a God. Among those were George Bernard Shaw, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Sigmund Freud, and some others. Even my favorite author at that time, Mark Twain, said some pretty harsh things about the Christian religion. Now mark my words, I am not saying that I had any real grasp of what these authors said, but being a pagan at heart and a walking hormone, it seemed to me that there were a some advantages to being godless. A) It would be a way of avoiding becoming a preacher; B) I wouldn't have to feel guilty about sleeping with girls; and C) by association it would somehow put me in the ranks of the "intellectually elite."

So once again, having little sense of caution or common sense, I decided to practice my atheism out on my English teacher, Mrs. Clarice Wiser. I wrote a horrible essay that I have long since thrown away that was titled: "Shoes, Cradle to Grave: A Meditation on the Brevity and Meaninglessness of Life." The title said it all. Life is short, not sweet, and then you die. There is no meaning besides what we make of it, and even that is ultimately a fantasy.

Guess what? Clarice asked me to stay after class. She showed me the paper and it had an F on it. She basically told me that the paper richly deserved an F but rather than give me one, she expected me to write another less arrogant and more respectful paper, and she would grade it on its merits.

I wanted to protest badly, but in that moment I realized it was futile, so I wrote another paper which I received an A on. I find the incident particularly funny now, because I thought I was being so intellectual and smart to write that paper and in retrospect it only proved that I did have a call on my life and I was running like Jonah in the opposite direction as fast as my legs would carry me.

But that is not quite the end of the story. In general, I loved English and did well in it. Yet at the end of the semester, Mrs. Wiser gave me a B. I went to her after school was out and asked to see my record of grades. She got them out. Given that she had not given me the F that my godless paper would have earned, I had nearly all A's. I think there may have been one B+ but all the rest were A's or 96 or above. So I asked her, Mrs. Wiser, I don't see how all those A's average out to a B. And in her very proper nasal voice, she answered, "Well, Mike, you're just my idea of an B student."

That was why I didn't like her. I thought she was being terribly unfair and I had worked hard for that A. But in retrospect I think she was telling me that I had exposed who I was more than I knew, and that she saw no excellence in it. And in retrospect, I agree.

Jun 15, 2015 at 11:14 AM

Posted on: Jun 14, 2015 at 8:20 PM

When I was in seventh grade at Harding, I tried to fan the flame of the only athletic success I had in grade school playing football, by going out for football under Coach Roberts. I can vouchsafe that as a seventh-grader going out for a junior high school team had some challenges. You start in August heat and put on full football gear -- helmut, shoulder pads, jersey, pants and cleats. It felt like a heavy sweat suit in an oven temperature of the upper nineties, and then you do calisthenics and exercises involving wind springs, hitting, rolling, turning, catching, laps, and more wind springs designed to eliminate by fatigue or death anyone with a weak heart or high blood pressure. And then you do scrimmage with guys weighing 50% more than rookie seventh graders.

It some times required all four limbs to walk home.

I can't find it now, but somewhere in the Senior year I was dubbed "absent-minded professor." I don't know about the professor part, but the "absent-mind" was real. I was one of those kids whose moms had to tie on their mittens with elastic in order to get them to come home. And it has lasted. I once asked my wife what she would do when I got old and got Alzheimer's disease. Her response was "How will we know the difference." Anyway, I made the fatal mistake of coming to practice one day without my helmet, and coach made me practice in scrimmage without it. And when my mom happened to come by and see me without it, she became irate. After practice she went in to have words with the coach. I asked her not to. I told her I had a hard head. But she went in anyway. My mom was one of the early female lawyers to graduate from OU, and I don't remember every knowing anyone who enjoyed her as an adversary. I certainly didn't. So she went in, and they had words, and when I came to practice the next day, Coach told me to turn in my equipment. I asked, "What did I do, coach?" He responded, "I just really don't want to deal with your mother."

So that was the end of my hope to fan my one flame of success into a major fire. Which is probably good since my knees are still good, and I'm pretty sure I'd never have made it into OU football, much less the pros anyway. Life is good.

Jun 15, 2015 at 1:11 PM

Posted on: Jun 13, 2015 at 8:27 PM

This is a little before Harding, so it will pertain only to those of us who went to Edgemere. Edgemere holds mostly fond memories. As I have said other places, I was not particularly athletic, but how I wanted to be. My first real experience with athletics was peewee baseball. One of my friends was a year older, so I went out for the older group, and didn't get much experience, except sitting on the bench. Then, when I tried out for my own grade I was behind.

We called our football team the Edgemere Robins. I have enclosed a picture of our team, because it includes so many future Hardingites. Our head coach was Dub Wheeler's father, who had played in the minor leagues professionally. At the moment I can't recall the man on his right but our left in the picture, but on his left was Mickey Kern's father. My memory fails me for some, but on the front role is Brian Queen (short stop I think, Danny ? on first, John Barryman on third, Dub (pitcher) Mickey Kern - 2nd base, Bobby Cochran - catcher, and Paul Abbott (Center Field I think) and left to right on the second row is yours truly (Left Field), unknown, Cameron Emmett (fielder and great hitter), Kent Cohenour (also a good hitter, probably an out-fielder or maybe a short-stop), unknown, Steve Wallace right field.

Believe it or not, that Little League Team won state championship in our fifth grade year. I want to stress the fact that I was almost not on the team. When people asked me my position, I sometimes said "Left Out." Because I didn't get much play time.

I never blamed the coach. I had only two weaknesses, fielding and hitting. My hitting weakness came from having been hit by a fast ball in the groin early on, after which I made every effort to bat from outside the batters box. That of course was not allowed, so I developed a stance that started with my feet as great a distance from the plate as was legal, and then I bent over until my bat reached the plate while my backside was as far awat as I could gt it. Anyway, my batting record never deserved to be on a state champion team.

My fielding was simply a matter of attention. You didn't get a whole lot of batted balls coming out to Left Field, and I would generally become distracted with dandelions or butterflies so that my problem did not so much focus on catching the ball, but on finding it when the crowd's cries convinced me that a ball had entered left field and passed me by. More than once the short stop got to the ball before I did. My mom, who always spoke positively of me, said I had the spirit of Ferdinand the Bull.

But Dub was a great pitcher, Bobby a great catcher, and most of the rest of the team was fantastic.

When a football team was organized in our neighborhood after that state championship and I went out, our coach was Tommy Gray, a former OU player. I've seen him since I've been home, and heard that he passed away recently. But anyway, I started out on the last (third) team. I think the weight limit was 90 lbs. and I was about 100, so Coach Tommy got me had me run laps every practice and little by little I got into shape.

One day when I was on the third string line, and the guy in front of me was saying profane things about my mother and calling me among other things a worm and a coward, Tommy called me to over the side lines. He said to me, Mike, you are as big as that boy and stronger. Your reflexes are faster. Now I am sending you out there to lay him flat.

On the way back out, I thought to myself, if coach says I can, then I must be able to, so I did. And to be perfectly honest, I enjoyed it. So I did it again. And again, and I found out that I really like running into people and knocking them over.

Well, the next practice I played second string, and the one after that I was on the first team. I had never been so happy in my life. I even started playing line-backer on defense and tackling people, which I liked even more. And I never felt more gratified than when I heard the guy who was talking about my mother, tell other team members, "Don't go up against Mike High, he will kill you."

That year I was elected by the team as one of four All-Stars. There had to be two runners and two line men. I'm pretty sure I'd never have made it, if they could have elected all runners, but I was happy anyway.

Jun 16, 2015 at 4:07 PM

Posted on: Jun 11, 2015 at 4:04 PM

I was scared to death of coach Rotzinger, but I actually came to a place where I had a reasonably good relationship with him. I am pretty sure Coach Rotzinger had been in the service, either World War II or Korea and carried some metal in his head. Maybe not, but that's how I remember it. His speech was crisp, short sentences with generally no more than three or four words in them. Coach Rotzinger was a no-nonsense coach. Suffice it to say he is the only coach who brought his paddle into the boy's shower for discipline purposes. I remember that it was always hard for me to get into the gym and change into my gym clothes on time. But one paddle session with coach straightened me out on that. Sometimes I even wore my gym clothes underneath my school clothes so I really didn't have to change.

Sometime during Junior High School, we had a guy in gym named Redwine and that poor guy must have done something crazy because coach was so mad he picked him up and shook him. I thought poor Redwine was going to come apart in pieces.

So whenever coach had us run laps, I ran as fast as I could. Same with sprints. Whatever he asked us to do, I did it with all I had. So one day coach used me as an example. He said, "Look at Mike High. He's no great athelete but look how hard he tries." Coach Rotzinger did not know that I was inspired by pure, unadulterated fear.

Jun 12, 2015 at 6:24 PM

Posted on: Jun 10, 2015 at 10:24 AM

I don't remember what Mr. Swanson, the science teacher's first name was (possibly Frank) and my recollections come from being in his eighth grade science class, so they are no doubt inaccurate and completely unfair to him. But since I am almost completely certain that he has gone onto his eternal reward, I want to share both the fun we had at his expense, and the total humiliation he devised for us.

Probably Uncle Frank Swanson was not much older than I am now, but when observed by thirteen year old students, he appeared to many to be way past the age of retirement. He used to teach us from text book pages copyrighted in something like 1915 which he had written, and his lectures were so dry that sometimes bugs which landed on your desk went to sleep when they heard them, and we were able to easily swat them into oblivion.

I had heard fellow students speculate that he actually had died some years before but had been able to preserve his body and make it talk robotically with tapes of his ancient lectures.

At any rate, I was one of those students who when bored by class talked compulsively and obsessively to other students. So the day came when he proved to me beyond any doubt that he was alive, and that he was an evil genius.

My first suspicions arose when as I entered the classroom I saw a dunce cap shaped like an upside down cone on his desk. On the floor between the front of his desk and the rows of student desks was a stool, sufficiently high that you could not sit on it from a standing position, but had to pull yourself up into the seat where your feet would dangle and not touch the floor. Over on another desk or table to the side I saw a bicycle wheel with handles on either side around the axle inside.

If I had been any cautious sensible student, this paraphanalia would have kept my mouth shut until I saw the purpose he had in mind for this equipment. But unfortunately I was neither sensible nor cautious, and when he began lecturing, I began my habit of conversing with my neighbors.

In no time at all, he had called me to the front of the class and instructed me to sit on the high stool. He then placed the dunce cap on my head. Immediately the class began to laugh and he didn't seem to mind the disturbance they were making. I felt silly and knew he was enjoying making a fool of me, but I thought I might as well enjoy the humor at my expense and laughed too.

Then he brought over the bicycle wheel holding it by the handles on each side of the axle and told me to hold it out from my body. I said that it was heavy. He said, "That's all right. Nothing a big boy like you can't handle." So I held it out. And he spinned it. Now when you're holding a spinning wheel, the center of the wheel does not stay in one place but moves up and down and around. I said, "I don't know how long I can do this." And he responded, "Well, you obviously don't have enough to do listening to my lecture, so you will do it until I am satisfied that you are able to listen to my lecture without having something else to do. Oops, you just let the wheel touch your leg. That's another five minutes."

So Mr. Swanson began lecturing, and as he lectured he walked back and forth in the room and whenever the bicycle wheel slowed down enough that it looked like it would soon stop, he gave it a vigorous spin. My arms ached, and I felt like the class idiot. I don't know how long he had me up there, but it seemed like an eternity. Even the class, who thought it was funny at first, began to feel sorry for me.

When he finally let me put down the bicycle wheel, take off the dunce cap, and get off the stool, I went back to my chair and listened the rest of the class. I was not the only one who got the treatment, but it didn't take too many. Nobody wanted to be on the stool looking silly with a spinning bicycle wheel in their hands.

This sounds crazy. If a teacher did this today, they probably would be fired and then sued. But as I observe the kinds of disrespect that students often show in school today and what they get away with, I remember the authority that many teachers had at Harding, and though some exercised their authority eccentrically, I am happy I went to school under that authority. I would certainly have not wanted to attend a school where the bullies ruled over us.

Jun 13, 2015 at 6:56 AM

Posted on: Jun 09, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Mr. McFeaters was our principle up until our senior year. He was the only man I knew that parted his hair right down the middle. I know very little about Mr. McFeaters (I'm not sure I'm spelling his name right) whereas I had a much more intimate relationship with the Vice Principles, since I went to their office more often.
Now I don't think Mr. McFeaters intended to do this, which makes it even funnier, but I've gotta give him credit for bringing the house down (or should I say school down) with one of his morning talks. He must have come up from a grade school, because he would always address us as "Boys and girls." I think he'd have connected better if he'd addressed us as "Young men and women," which wouldn't have been as accurate as "delinquents and ruffians" but would have worked better.
Anyway, everyone remembers the outdoor concrete area behind the school where smoking was allowed and where the folks in motorcycle jackets hung out. Well, Mr. McPheeters was distressed by all the trash that was left there, especially cigarette butts. He wanted the folks who smoked to put their cigarettes in one of the trash receptacles located in the area. But that morning you could tell he was frustrated, and it showed. He said he was sick and tired of everyone leaving their butts all over the place. He started naming all the places he was finding our butts in the grass and on the sidewalks, butts in the stairways and in some of the rooms that were right next to the outside area. He ended by saying "I want you to put your butts in the cans. I suppose he could have avoided a lot of confusion by saying cigarette butts and trash cans, but it wouldn't have been nearly as funny. Not only was my class in stitches, but I could hear laughter echoing through the whole school. During the day, everyone was vowing to take better care of the backsides from now on.

Jun 14, 2015 at 9:13 PM

Posted on: Jun 09, 2015 at 2:58 PM

Miss Mary Stewart was my first homeroom teacher in seventh grade. She must have been in her fifties, with red hair, a loud voice, and a formidable face. She gave us a quiz each week on the Weekly Reader. She gave me my first F, written in red pencil big enough to take up a sizable portion of the page. I was horrified.
I'm pretty sure I was not the only one who got an F. That's because she offered to help us if we came after school. As a result of my taking her up on it, she taught me how to study, and that was the last F I ever had in her class.
Mrs. Stewart didn't just care about our grades. Right before our first school dance, probably homecoming, she started asking each boy if they had asked a girl to the dance. I don't think any of us had, so she got a bunch of embarrassed "Nos." So she told us to get off our duffs and ask. She said, "They can't ask you, so you gotta do it." And then she added, "It's just for the dance. You don't have to marry them."
Like I said, her face was "formidable." It could have launched a thousand ships -- in terror! But she had a great sense of humor. One day she told us, "In my next life I want to be rich instead of beautiful." Mrs. Stewart was my favorite teacher in seventh grade.

Jun 10, 2015 at 2:41 PM

Posted on: Jun 09, 2015 at 10:21 AM

I have so many memories of Harding High School. I have tried to put them down once before, but I cannot now find them. I do not imagine that growing through adolescence was not an easy task or time for any of us. When I put my memories on paper they come out as both the way I experienced them at the time, yet I hope with the good humor of realizing that the laugh was on me. Since a half-a-century has gone by since we were at Harding, I had assumed that the teaching generation had moved on into their eternal destination. I realize I was so privileged to live in an era when teachers had the upper hand. I make fun of the idiosyncracies of some of the teachers, but I mean in no way to belittle them. Also, I make no claim to 100% accuracy. My memories are no more nor no less than simply the way I remember what happened.

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