THE ORACLE: A Photographer’s View (from 1996)

Fall 1996

I have enjoyed my experience as a staff photographer for Oral Roberts University’s The Oracle.  This semester provided an opportunity for me to gain experience in diverse photojournalism techniques and situations from close-up shots at dinner to impersonal parking lots.  My time spent as a staff photographer has been well spent.  When I joined the staff, my purpose was to gain a reason to be continually involved in photography and learn any new photojournalism techniques that would present themselves over the semester.

Toward the end of this semester, I was asked to go to The Oracle offices on Monday mornings and read over the headlines.  This may be a small job, but I am now able to take a part in making The Oracle just a little better.  Besides, I am gaining experience that will assist me later if I turn in a job application to my hometown newspaper over the summer.  I had previously written and taken pictures freelance for The Fort Scott Tribune, but now I have a semester of experience which I can put in my resume`. Continue reading

A product of my culture

September 23, 1998

Some students go to a museum of art or a symphony to “get cultured.”  But, in a much different way, I have already been cultured and continue to experience the affects of what my culture is in nearly everything I think, say, and do.

An individualized work ethic and desire for purpose in the things I do has been ingrained into me.  I gathered a purpose-oriented mind-set from the individualized learning and studying I did at the Christian school I attended and the farm where I was raised.  With this mind-set, I get many things accomplished, but sometimes I wonder if I am not merely doing “things” for the sake of doing them.  While I enjoy people and working with them very much, if I’m not doing something or going somewhere with a purpose I feel uncomfortable and out of my “cultural zone.” Continue reading

Spring Break at the Shead Farm

The lilliputian crew on Spring Break

March 27, 1998

Spring Break

Some students have to go to a beach or some snow-swept peak to enjoy their Spring Break; others find ways to blossom in their own backyard.

Going home to the Kansas farmhouse where I spent 18 years of my life was nothing new, but taking along five friends helped chilly mornings become afternoons filled with gales of laughter and stories of our childhood memories.

The beautiful spring weather I remember from childhood decided to take its own break, so my friends and family kept wood in the furnace while winter battered at our door.  Thanks to old Jack Frost most of my family was kept home from school part of the week.  The more the merrier! Continue reading

Review: The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters

by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis address the walk of humans into Christianity from the viewpoint of a demon named Screwtape via his correspondence with his “dear” nephew Wormwood who has been assigned to befuddle a young man who, despite his antagonist, becomes a Christian. This book brings to light many of the ideas and perceptions humans experience in most any point in life. The unique approach of viewing from the demon’s point of view creates a reverse thought pattern for the reader. Since the book is written from the viewpoint of a demon, that which is good in the eyes of a Christian is called detestable by Screwtape. C. S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters to give an outside view of Christians and Satan’s attacks on their relationship with Christ. Continue reading

Hearing God’s Directions

April 28, 1998

Isaiah 30:21 “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”’

God has been teaching me to stop talking all the time and listen to Him.  My prayer time had become a time of asking God to teach and guide me but not waiting to hear a reply.  It wasn’t until I took the time to listen that I found out what I needed to do to grow spiritually.

At the beginning of the semester I was driving around Tulsa just to pray for a while and think about a story I needed to write for class.  As I prayed I found myself near downtown Tulsa and decided to ask God what I should do then listen for his response.

I prayed, “Lord, where should I go?” Continue reading

The Gangster Wannabe


January 19, 1998

Feature story by Michael Shead

“I always wanted to be a gangster,” he said.

After watching Capone movies as a child, Billy Pouncil had dreamed of being a gangster but that childhood daydream became a living nightmare.

At age 21, Pouncil stepped into the world of cocaine in downtown Tulsa. His realized dream of a gangster’s life was not the glorious one the movies had portrayed.

As a dealer, Pouncil ran three crack houses and spent nearly 30 years trading in the white powder. Continue reading

Seated and Standing Tall Together

Michael & Lisa Porter: A portrait

Michael & Lisa Porter: A portrait

March 16, 1998

Six days out of the week a dusty blue station wagon winds its way up the driveway to the  Oral Roberts University campus and another college day begins for Michael and Lisa Porter.  As they make their way to class, Lisa smiles a greeting from behind Michael’s wheelchair as they join other students in the rush to morning classes.

Like many commuters, the Porters enjoy getting to know other students and participating in university events.  But Michael and Lisa are a step beyond the average commuter.  Their many contrasts set them apart.

Michael is 32.  Lisa is 21.  He is confined to a wheelchair; she takes an aerobic class at a gym.  Since their relationship began in 1997, it has been these striking differences which have drawn Michael and Lisa together. Continue reading