TRUMP – The Final Straw

Hot off the press in 2020:  “The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump: 30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity”   Ronald J. Sider, Editor.  I decided to mention in first, just in case any reader doesn’t make it through to the end.  It helps any preacher to know she or he is not alone.  If I read the book, it would just provide material to make this “unpreached sermon” even longer.  

Sermon Title:  “Thou Art the Man”  (Nathan to King David in 2 Samuel 12:7 KJV)

Theme:  Speaking Truth to Power

If I were not retired, I would have to decide whether or not to comment on the Presidency of Donald Trump from the pulpit or in church newsletters. And the scales would be tipped heavily in favor of commenting  on it, based on what the Bible has to say about corrupt kings, emperors and assigned political leaders within the Roman Empire, with specific reference to the Herods. Lest you don’t remember, one King Herod allegedly ordered the killing of some children in Bethlehem.  Merry Christmas.  Fox News would have had some commentators telling their listeners that somehow the children deserved it.  And some of the listeners would have believed it.  For whatever reason, FOX NEWS does not focus on complete and accurate information.

For me, the final straw occurred when President Trump held up a Bible for a photo op in front of a church near the White House on June 1, 2020. In context, Attorney General Barr utilized massive force to push back peaceful protestors so that the President could walk to the church and get his picture taken with a copy of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Gratefully, the Episcopalians objected, but nary a peep out of the right-wing Christians who currently hold up the base of his political power. Nary a peep out of most Republican Senators with the exception of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

True to form, Trump and some of his administration tell lies about the event, but the event was filmed by television crews, so history will get it right, even if FOX NEWS and the President and his followers, whoever they might be, get it wrong.

If I were preaching a sermon, I would probably have to prepare the congregation with a lot of philosophy about “freedom of the pulpit” and the prophetic nature of a significant part of the Bible.  I am painfully aware that most Christians leaders in Germany were silent about the abuses of Hitler until it was too late to change the course of history. At some point, the choice was to be silent or to be silenced permanently by execution.

Perhaps this cartoon by David Horsey in the Seattle Times says it all: (Sept. 12, 2020)









One biblical approach would be to look at King David being reprimanded by a prophet for causing one of his soldiers (Uriah) to be killed, so he could take Uriah’s wife as his own. He had already lay with her and she was pregnant. The prophet, Nathan, condemns the King for these actions, getting David to react to a story of injustice about a rich man who had taken a poor man’s lamb. King David said: “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die.” And Nathan said “You are the man!” And indeed, he was. (2 Samuel 11-12)

Flashback:  Who spoke up to protest representatives of Saudi Arabia killing and cutting up a newspaper reporter?  They got a pass from the current administration.  We may never know why.  All we hear is the refrain:  “Fake News!”  Back to the sermon…

There are prophets in our land, but King Donald is not listening to them.

And then there is the story of Naboth’s vineyard. King Ahab wanted it, so Queen Jezebel arranged for him to get it. She arranged for “false charges” to be made against Naboth and he was stoned to death. Elijah informed the king that “in the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.” (I Kings 21)

Where are our Nathans? Where are our Elijahs? Are they being beaten on our streets by a few bad police, who are emboldened by the words of the President of the United States. Law and Order without Justice does not exist!

The guideline that I believe ministers should follow, under current law, is never, ever to tell people who they should vote for.  So I shall just comment on what has been happening under the leadership of the current President.  My colleagues in Germany were silent until it was too late.  As Martin Niemoller wrote:  “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.  Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

I lost track of the times in my ministry when some people asked me to shut up.  But none of them were as important as the issues we are facing today in America and in our world.

One of the most difficult opinions with which I have had to deal as a pastor is that a preacher should not bring “politics” into the pulpit. While I can understand our reluctance to be lectured on partisan politics, the Holy Scriptures that we refer to as The Bible is filled with political positions.  How we treat the poor is one of them.  The prophets were not reluctant to confront power that was abused. Nathan’s confrontation of King David is a classic example.

This idea that we should be silent fits the designs of power abuser, but don’t claim that your position is supported by the Jewish or Christian Bible.   Prophets, Jesus and preachers have all correctly spoken the truth to power. Sometimes it gets some of us killed or fired, but this is about power, not about biblical truth.

So accuse me of being partisan and I will listen. Accuse me of being wrong to comment on abuse of power or stupidity or immorality and we can talk about it, but I will not advocate silence.

Here ends my self-justification for talking about Donald Trump.

Where to start?

Column in THE WEEK dated Nov. 22, 2019 (page 6)

Heading:  Trump admits to misusing charity.

President Trump admitted to misusing his charity’s fund last week and agreed to pay $2 million in damages. Settling a lawsuit with New York State, the president acknowledged using Trump Foundation funds on his businesses and to buy an autographed Tim Tebow football helmet and a $10,000 portrait of himself that was hung at his Doral, Florida, golf course. The foundation raised 2.8 million at a supposed veterans fundraiser in 2016, which Trump illegally diverted to his campaign. Trump agreed to disperse the foundation’s remaining $1.8 million to eight charities and follow restrictions in future charitable work, such as submitting to audits. Trump himself has donated little to his foundation in recent years and donated nothing from 2009 to 2015.

Column in CNN.COM by Jay Parini reprinted in THE WEEK dated Dec. 13, 2019

Was Trump chosen by God?

Was President Trump chosen by God to lead our nation? asked Jay Parini. In a recent interview with Fox News, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he believes — and told Trump personally — that the president is “the chosen one.” sent to achieve the Lord’s will. This belief has spread like “a strange virus” among other evangelical Trump supporters. They contend that God often uses imperfect men to achieve his aims, such as the biblical King David, an adulterer. As a practicing Christian and son of a Baptist minister, I nonetheless find Trump to be an odd choice to further Jesus Christ’s message of love, forgiveness, and selflessness. Jesus asked us “to curb our anger, not even to hold a grudge.” He insisted that “one cannot serve two masters, God and money.” and that “we should treat others as we wish ourselves to be treated.” Does this sound like Trump? He embodies rage, vengeance, greed, dishonesty, and cruelty. Proclaiming Trump as “the chosen one,” moreover, implies that all world leaders are chosen by God, including Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Ayatollah Khamenei. True Christians know that our world is “a deep mystery,” and that only the arrogant think they know “what the Divine has in mind”.  (end of quote)

One of the charities misused by Trump was designed to help children and yet he used it to help himself.  Children!  And yet he is praised.

I started this sermon long before the editor of the conservative Christian magazine “Christianity Today” had an editorial criticizing President Trump. Immediately Trump tweeted one more lie. He labeled the magazine as a liberal magazine.  Believe me, every time I have read it, it was not liberal, but conservative. The liberal magazine is called “Christian Century”.  Full disclosure – I am a financial supporter of the “Christian Century” magazine.

The list of Trump’s outlandish, but popular (with 49% of those who vote) views or actions are getting bigger and bigger. For every claim, there is a counter-claim.  Our opinions are influenced by who you choose to believe.

It seems to be a FACT that Trump likes to belittle anyone who criticizes or opposes him.

On November 30th (2017), under a headline “President keeps stirring the pot.” (Seattle Times) we are informed that he disseminated on social media three inflammatory and unverified Muslim videos, he took glee in the firing of a news anchor for sexual harassment despite facing more than a dozen of his own accusers and used a ceremony honoring Navajo war heroes to malign a senator with what some would call a derogatory slur, “Pocahontas”.

“Donald Trump likes to declare that every good thing that happens while he’s in office – job growth, rising stock prices, whatever – is the biggest, greatest, best ever. Then the fact checkers weigh in and quickly determine that the claim is false.”  (Paul Krugman, Seattle Times, Nov. 30, 2017 “We are being scammed, bigly”)

A mailing from the Natural Resources Defense Council (2017) lists Trump environmental policies that they oppose.  This includes withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and sacrificing our public lands to oil companies and mining interests that are consistently putting polluters and profits before people.

The list is very long:

-heartless and counterproductive Muslim ban

-the barrage of racist and/or corrupt and/or unqualified staff appointments and Cabinet nominees

-the unhinged tweets attacking anyone who opposes his agenda

-the constant, constant lying  “Trump’s presidency so far has been one shock to the system after another.”  (Al Franken)  page 2 of “Al Franken Giant of the Senate” (now in disgrace over pretending to grope a woman while she was asleep for a photo op.  He has apologized, long after the fact and he resigned from The Senate.  Note that Donald Trump never apologizes, at least not up to this point.  He attacks and denies and FOX NEWS gives it all coverage.

-his family and personal record of racism in New York housing projects, as well as attacks on some youth who were found innocent of certain crimes. In his mind they are apparently guilty.

-his inappropriate remarks about women and his obvious unfaithfulness to at least two wives and perhaps all of his wives.  We may never know.

-his so-called locker room talk about sexual matters that degrade women.

-his financial “deals” that hurt others

-the fiasco called Trump university where misrepresentation cost students millions of dollars.

-his record of bankruptcies that again hurt others, while protecting his own bottom line.

-his insistence that former President Obama was somehow ineligible to serve as President by being born in Kenya, when all facts say otherwise.

-as I write these notes on November 24, 2017, he recently talked to some military personnel, bragging how he alone had made the world safer from Islamic extremists known as ISIS. The headline screams “Trump to troops on holiday: ‘We’re really winning.’”  My first and gut reaction is that our so-called President is lying….again.  He states that more progress has been made under his watch than had been made in years of the previous administration.  Why the need to put down others, while building up himself?  He does it over and over again.  And we know that some of it has been proven to be demonstrably false. 

He attracted more people for his inaugural festivities than others.  FALSE

He got more votes than his opponent.  FALSE

He appointed people to positions of power who wanted to undo environmental protection rules; public education support and rules that protect public health.  TRUE

Example:  Coverage in the Seattle Times November 28, 2017

Article by Froma Harrop, Syndicated Columnist titled “Of course, in Trump’s view, defender of the little guy must go”

At issue is the existence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was created to protect consumers from financial rackets.

“Trump paired his decision to defang the bureau with one of his habitually batty claims, that ‘financial institutions have been devastated.’ In the fact-based world, bank profits and stocks are soaring.”

He brags about the F-35 stealth jet fighter because the enemy cannot see it.  Also FALSE.  It is designed to evade detection by radar and other sensors.

It is sad when my automatic response to anything said by this person in authority is to doubt his veracity.  Years ago I used the story of the young boy who cried WOLF when there was no WOLF.  However, when a real WOLF came, no one paid any attention to him.  We have a President who cries WOLF when there is no WOLF.  Hopefully, the WOLF does not come on his watch.  (written 6/6/2020)  Given the reaction to the murder of a black man in Minneapolis, I am hearing the howling of a WOLF.)

Nov 6, 2017  Christian Century article “After the glass factory” by Amy Frykholm

Racism “is coming back. The ones that would hide it, saying it behind your back, are bold enough now to say it.”  That was written in 2017.  Now in 2020, the nation is dealing with street protests fueling by racism in all of its forms.  Trump did not create racism, but he has encouraged it, over and over again.  It may be true that there are good people who are racists, but our President should not have said it in the midst of national pain.

A sister (Hollie) agreed “Now you have Trump saying, ‘Make America great again,’ which we say means ‘Make America white again.’”              story from Lancaster, Ohio, home of the Anchor Hocking Company, a major maker of Depression glass.

I get lots of material from the Skagit Valley Herald which insists on publishing a variety of views on contemporary issues.  In other words, they print things that compliment the President and they print things that attack him.  You make up your own mind.

August 17, 2017  Letter to the editor

Delusion, denial and dysfunction

“Let’s agree that at the minimum, he displays poor impulse control. This lack of emotional maturity is a most common element found in a broad range of relationship dysfunctions, including divorce, child abuse, obesity, addictions and murder/suicide.

His lack of emotional development causes him to go off script and tell supporters at one rally to “punch protestors in the face.” You might notice that he never apologizes or owns that he made a mistake.

He apparently doesn’t see the connection between his words and a white supremacist driving his car through a group of protesters.”  (Hal Pullin of Mount Vernon, WA)

The Bloomberg News supplied this list on September 28, 2019:

“(Trump) has abused his power, degraded his office, obstructed justice, undermined the Constitution, impeded legitimate oversight, defied court rulings, enriched his family on the public dime, ignored inconvenient laws, asserted nonexistent privileges, declared spurious emergencies to justify his whims, and otherwise acted like a would be tyrant almost from the day he entered office…”

Reflections on scriptures that I might share with Trump, if I had the opportunity to do so.

-A soft answer turneth away wrath.

-In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.

-Love your neighbor as yourself.

-The sky is falling. (not scripture)

-what he does is offensive to my understanding of the faith.  I wrote these words before he desecrated the Bible by holding it up for a photo op on June lst.

THE WEEK, January 12, 2018  page 6  quoting Brad Stephens in “The New York Times”

Two central conservative truths, are that “character counts” and “culture matters.” Yet Republicans are now pretending that Trump’s character – his constant lying, his crude bullying, his racial bigotry, his monstrous narcissism – are mere distractions

The Seattle Times, Feb. 28, 2019  Headline  “Cohen turns on Trump: ‘He is a con man…he is a cheat..’ he is a racist…

(undated 2019 in the Mt. Vernon newspaper. Article by Aisha Sulton quoting Sarah Kendzior of St. Louis, on what she is telling her children:)

“I’ve flat out told them, ‘This is not normal. This is not how the government is supposed to work.’”  We’re in a turning point in American history.

“It’s not normal for the president to be retweeting white supremacists or tweeting racists taunts. It’s not normal to have a president who has lied more than 10,000 [update April 2020 18,000 false and misleading claims; during the coronovirus he has averaged 23.8 lies per day] times in office, many times about things people easily can see and hear simply aren’t true.

“It’s not normal for an American president to dismiss a foreign threat to American democracy, and, in fact, openly encourage that foreign interference in an election.

“None of us have ever seen a president behave like this before.  And it’s unsettling to the majority of Americans who don’t support this to understand how others can go blindly supporting him as though what he was doing to favor their agenda was somehow good for our nation and for our world.”

So I am not telling anyone else how to vote (if this were in a sermon), but I can assure you that I will not be voting for Donald Trump for anything and I will be able to avoid his next reality show. (As I did his first ones.)  Hopefully the world will be safer when he is back doing his thing on television…without the perks of the presidency.

Postscript: 6/20/2020   Now John Bolton, National Security Advisor to Donald Trump may have used words like “narcissistic pathological liar”, “more ignorant than we thought”, “corrupt, dumb and immoral”.   And this before the book is released for sale!  Bolton was among the dozens of people Trump has fired or encouraged to resign.  Trump must not be a very good judge of character, but he would spin the fact in another direction.  He is good/bad at that.

There been other Presidents who were immoral and who did bad things while in office.  Hopefully this nightmare will only last four years.  Stay tuned…



MINISTRY EVENT – probably in 1999 at Manito

Staff-Parish Relations Committee was processing the Jimmy Creech trial. (He lost his United Methodist credentials for officiating at a same-sex wedding ceremony). I decided to tell the members that I would provide pastoral care for all members of the congregation.

In turn four (4) male members of the committee objected to this stance.

One asked if I was in favor of immorality. I asked if he wished for us to officially oppose heterosexual immorality, that is “refuse to allow marriage ceremonies for couples living together prior to the ceremony.” He was silent. (2020 – he may have known that I would not be having any marriage ceremonies, perhaps including for his own children or grandchildren.)

Another person said “when a gay person joins this church, I am out of here.” I patted him on the shoulder and said, “We will not tell you.” and he thanked me. (I didn’t tell him he was too late.)

Another said, “What do I tell my children?”

After the discussion was over and the meeting adjourned, the three women members privately and individually informed me that they agreed with me!

I praise God that I am in a situation where I am respected for enough gfits and graces for ministry that this doesn’t neatively affect my total ministry…yet!

I am saddened that conflict is so feared by the women that they would not speak up.

(Footnote 2020: When my lay leader was able to marry her partner in life, she did not ask me to officiate, as she didn’t wish for me to risk my ordination. That was very gracious of her, but it saddened me to the point of anger that I could not share in a significant spiritual and personal experience for an active member of my congregation.)

(Footnote 2020: I did make it through to retirement in 2008 without officiating at a wedding of this nature, even though I had decided at East Anchorage UMC (1981-1988) that I would do so, if asked or requested. No one asked. Can;t be defrocked for hypothetical answers to hypothetical questions.)

SERMON – Manito in Spokane

(Note: low attendance Sunday because of Bloom’s Day Race)

SERMON – Bloom’s Day

My Race “Garbage In-Garbage Out”

Upper Room dated June 25, 2000 “My Race”
By Ryan White-Stevens (Indiana)

Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NRSV)

My first semester of graduate school, I took a physics class that moved rapidly through very complex material. I always seemed to be behind my classmates in work and comprehension. Discouraged, I went for a jog around campus, praying as Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (I Samuel 3:10).

Soon I developed stomach and leg cramps that forced me to slow my pace. Two other runners ran quickly by me, and once again I began comparing myself to others. As discouragement began to settle in, I heard God say, “You’re not running their race. You’re running the race I gave you to run.”

In class and on the jogging path I had been judging my progress primarily in contrast to others. But we are not meant to compete against each other as we live out what God has called us to do. God gives us the ability to answer our individual calls, and no matter our pace, all God asks is that we continue on the course.

Prayer: Dear Teacher, thank you for the calling you have given each of us. Help us to run our race with perseverance and not become discouraged. We pray in your holy name. Amen.

Thought for the Day: “We are running our race well when we do what God asks of us.

Prayer Focus: Those struggling with school.

When I read this, I thought of its application to the world’s largest “timed race” which happens right here in Spokane. If a person participated in this race to win it, there would be thousands of disappointed people when the race was finished. 60,000 to be exact or approximate, as the case might be.

However, if one enters the race in order to do the best that one can do, then everyone is a winner, even if one can’t even finish the race. God doesn’t expect any more than that of each of us. The Special Olympics program is based on a similar philosophy and in a certain sense, everyone who competes is a winner and there is an effort to affirm each one who enters and “does his or her best”.

This immediately put me on the path of my own personal journey in life, my call to ministry and the things that have happened to me which have shaped my life.

I learned several years ago that one of my brothers, who participated in the Korean Conflict (War) didn’t like to talk about his experience. However, when he arrived in Korea, I did know that he felt fortunate to be selected as company clerk. Why was he selected? Because he knew how to type!

Typing had a great impact on my early education. Some how or other two things happened in typing class. First of all, I did the homework assignments and I did them so well that I was at the head of the class. Severe pressure was put on me by a certain segment of classmates to slow down, so that they would not have to work as hard. What was interesting about this segment was that they spent every night after school in a nearby eatery smoking and in the words of contemporary students “being cool”. When the pressure applied on me didn’t work, some one realized that I was going to be the top student in the class in speed also and the girls in the class didn’t want a boy to be the best typist. Sexism was not a modern invention. However, Midge Parker, the class valedictorian, rose to the challenge and at the end of the semester, my typing speed was good, but it was second best in the class. The women won! But I tested out at 70 words per minute.

This skill has served me very well in my ministry, especially in those times and places when I didn’t have a secretary to help in the office. But it also helps me in sermon preparation as I can type almost as fast as I can think…give or take a few words a minute.

Another event impacted my life greatly at that time. An evangelist by the name of Dr. Sidney Smith came to our little church and I formally gave my life to Jesus Christ. This gives me some insight into spiritual growth, for I was already a member when I had this determinative and definitive experience in my life.

The impact of this moment was deepened by good experiences at summer camp and it is one of the reasons I am supportive of summer camping at our United Methodist campsites, such as Twinlow and Lazy F and Ocean Shores and Indianola. We are blessed with many good facilities here in the PNW Conference.

At that time, I was feeling nudges toward full-time Christian service, whether as a missionary or as a minister. Little did I know that I would become both! While in college I had an experience (also at a retreat at our United Methodist Camp East Bay Camp near Bloomington, Illinois) in which, like Ryan White-Stevens, I heard Jesus Christ say to me that he was calling me into the parish ministry.

The very next year I was offered the position of Youth Minister and Assistant Pastor in a very difficult church. Because of an unethical pastor who preached against Methodism, the members had specifically said they would not accept a student pastor. So the religion professor agreed to serve them, but he told me that if I would do the pastoral work, in one year they would ask for me (a student) to be their pastor. I did and they did! Thus I was a part-time pastor of a small church my senior year in college.

I decided to be a student during my seminary years, but God and the District Superintendent had other ideas. He kept offering me a position. When the pay scale got to $3,000 per year, I folded and served as the Associate Pastor and Minister of Youth in a church with 3,000 members and over 100 students involved in youth programming.

Then it was marriage in 1962 and the beginning (with Barbara) of thirty-three years of missionary service in Alaska. We gave of ourselves in six parishes there. Kenai (62-65); Chugiak (65-69; Juneau-Douglas (69-74); Nome (74-81); East Anchorage (81-88) and Sitka (88-95). There were several experiences during that period of time that had a great impact on my understanding of God and the ministry.

1981: After a period of intense community organizational work, Barbara helped me obtain a one-month assignment in Hana, Maui, Hawaii, serving an United Church of Christ (Congregational) Church. For my preaching assignment, I picked several difficult subjects and was completely honest as to my understanding of the issues from the pulpit and lo, and behold, the world didn’t come to an end. This was a destination point for tourists. I remember vividly one sermon that produces this comment from an 80-year-old woman from California: “You just preached me back into the church.” Heady stuff.

I have also had the experience of preaching people out of the church! It is nice when the flow is reversed.

1986: Knowing that “all work and no play” was not a good thing, I also realized that a pastor who does not focus on the flowing in of new spiritual vitality would run dry. At seminary, they predicted that would happen in ten years. Some pastors stop reading when they leave seminary. This is one of the reason’s that continuing education is so important. Churches that do not insist on their pastor going to workshops or special classes will be the first to suffer.

In my case, I found myself in danger of running dry in twenty years. This realization occurred at about the same time that General Conference started tightening up the rules in this area. Right now there is legislation that if as pastor doesn’t do Continuing Education, he or she is in danger of losing the right to an appointment.

Through the encouragement and influence of my friend, Wayne Schaub, I started attending summer school at Vancouver School of Theology in Canada. The first professor was in the Old Testament and he was from Boston School of Theology. At that point in time, he was also the best preacher in United Methodism. He taught like he preached. Each lecture was an inspiration. He also had the gift of affirmation. By the time I realize he was affirming everyone, not just me, I didn’t care. His ideas about the themes of the Old Testament and some of his suggestions resonated to the depth of my being. I was turned on to study in a way that had not been true prior to this time. I liked the statement: “education is wasted on the young” for it was partly true of me.

When I became aware that a gentleman in Boston by the name of Charles Merrill sponsored four scholarships for a semester of study at Harvard Divinity School for active pastors I applied. And I was accepted. At the same time I learned that I was to be appointed to a church at Sitka. So I arrived in the summer of 1988, only to tell them that I was going on sabbatical in 1989 for one semester. They heard me say that I would give up this opportunity if they didn’t want me to go, which was probably fortunate, for I don’t remember saying this. I did go and it was a wonderful experience.

I learned how to pronounce Nag Hammadi! I audited several courses and since Barbara insisted on going to, we enjoyed the “culture” of Boston on weekends as fully as possible. I find that many people are aware of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This find by shepherd boys helped to affirm the authenticity of many scriptures of the Hebrew Bible, with special emphasis on Isaiah.

However, very few have learned of the Nag Hammadi Literature, similar finds in Egypt. They helped me understand why some scriptures, generally known as Gnostic literature, didn’t make it into the biblical canon. To summary them briefly, they were BAD. Poor theology. Poor understanding of God and humanity. The understanding of God expressed in the scriptures that we honor stand like a beacon in comparison. When Isaiah calls us to be a “light to the nations”, I now realize how far short both Jewish and Christian expressions of the faith have often fallen.

In our zeal to be faithful to the God of our Fathers (and Mothers), we often settle for something less than the best. At the same time, we need to hear these words spoken to Ryan White-Stevens: “You’re not running their race. You’re running the race I gave you to run.” Thanks be to God!



Elsewhere you may see and read an item titled “OUTSIDER”, which I published in 1970-1971. There were approximately 12 subscribers. The Alaska Christian Conference Legislative Newsletter became my responsibility in 1972 and it went to about 200 people. It was more informational, although some of my views crept through. At the present time, I have only one example. I am publishing the entire newsletter until I find other examples, if I do.

by John J. Shaffer

One of the central issues facing the legislature during the week of February 7th will be the proposed rules change. This attempt to institute majority rule on the various committee chairmen will probably fail, but it is one of the badly needed reforms in the Alaska State Legislature. Example after example of committee chairmen using their power to prevent majority or democratic rule could be cited. The public seems to accept this abuse of power. In fact, many of the legislators accept it, as they might want this power themselves, someday. There is obviously no great outcry for reform, but there are several legislators speaking out on the subject. If you have not, don’t bother this week, for the change has passed us by for this session. Sorry!

There is also the need for more “public record” of what is said on the floor of the House and Senate, as well as knowledge of positions taken in committee action. There are examples of legislators opposing legislation through the committee process and then voting for it when the record is public. Also the same would be true of legislators who work for legislation behind the scenes and then oppose it in public. The result is that only those who are present or have accurate “sources” know exactly what is going on in the legislative halls. Perhaps this is ood, but it seems to this reporter that the public interest suffers much more than it is ever helped by this system.

HB 431 which provides for the recording of “all committee meetings and all sessions of each house of the legislature” and copies being provided upon request to the public at a reasonable cost would be a good example of a bill that needs public support if it is to move from committee. It is lodged in State Affairs under chairman Richard McVeigh.

Many church leaders are aware of the passage of legislation two years ago to provide full cost of care in many of our child-care institutions. The implementation of this legislation may be hitting some tentative snags in proposals made for next year by the Department of Health and Social Services. I have nothing specific to report at this time, but I have asked for statements from various interested parties and if this is forthcoming, we will included further information as time goes on. As the battle of the dollar goes on, it is too often the case that the children of our state are ones who will suffer.

CS Senate Bill 250 is moving through the Senate. Some observers have indicated that the current law is adequate and may force the state to provide alternate facilities to handling runaways besides forced detention and/or removal from the home. Some judges and enforcement officials have complained at the red tape they are forced to go through to handle the situation. Right now the amended bill is nearly through Judiciary and will probably be before the Senate for a vote soon.

NEW TOOL for following the legislature is available – an index by subject matter.

HB 557 (Harris) Act providing for sealing certain records relating to juveniles reaching 18th birthday. (Judiciary, HWE)
HB 563 (Rules by request of Governor) Act relating to security and privacy of criminal justice information systems. (Judiciary)
HB 566 (Moran) Provides greater protection for magistrates through a hearing system (Judiciary)
HB 580 (Rules by request of Governor) Establishes a Council on Economic Advisors in the Office of the Governor. (Commerce, Finance)
HB 586 (Colletta et al) Companion Bill to SB 30 for regulations of charitable organizations.
HB 587 (Warwick by request) Would allow the chief school administrator to be exempt from the requirement of possessing a valid teacher certificate. (HWE)
HB 589 (Randolph) This seeks to transfer probation services to the court system, evidentally from the Commissioner of Health and Social Services. (HWE, Judiciary) A question could be raised as to the value of this proposed system, as it relates to the philosophy of therapeutic services.
HJR 102 (Rules by request of Governor) Adds “sex” to civil rights section of our constitution. “No person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of race, color, creed, or national origin.” is current reading. (Judiciary)
HJR 104 (Randolph) Proposes amendment to the state constitution to provide for an elected attorney general. (State Affairs, Judiciary) Not much chance of passage, but the minority party has been in favor of this at various times in our brief history as a state.
HCR 16 (Mike Miller & Fischer) Calls for planning foot and bicycle trails and paths in appropriate communities. (State Affairs)
SJR 34 (Thomas) Calls for establishment of a department of education with cabinet status at national level. (HWE, State Affairs)
SB 308 (Miller) Relates to the assignment of teachers within a school district. Indicates that the new assignment shall be within reasonable driving distance from the teacher’s prsent place of residence unless mutually agreed by the teacher and the chief administrator of the district. (HEW)
SB 318 (Josephson et al) Act adopting the Uniform Alcoholism and Intoxication Treatment Act. Nineteen pages of new material. This proposal is based on the policy that “alcoholics and intoxicated persons should not be criminally prosecuted for their consumption of alcoholic beverages and that they should be afforded a continuum of treatment so they may lead normal lives as productive members of society.” (HEW)
SB 320 (Lewis) Act relating to defense of life or property. (Judiciary) As I read the bill, it indicates that a person who claims a defense under the current law and is found not guilty of a crime” shall be reimbursed by the state of all legal fees and other costs incurred by him necessarily incident to his defense, including loss of employment time.”

From ALASKA INDUSTRY February 1972 Alaska’s Business, p. 14 “While Egan’s stand against gulf leasing might be seen as a protective attitude to help insure earlier development of the North Slope oil resources it did leave one question unanswered. If the state is convinced that exploration and development work in the gulf is fraught with too many dangers to the environment because of hostile conditions how can it be equally convinced that the supertankers required to haul North Slope oil from Valdez can operate safely in the gulf under these same conditions?” (2020 editorial comment: The Exxon Valdez disaster happened on March 24, 1989. Interesting that I selected this quote in 1972. It was a supertanker with a single hull.)

(Sent by Non Profit Organization Permit for 1.7 cents)



                                  ROSE CAPERS dated 2/14/05 and 7/16/05

Some have said that lightning does not strike twice in the same place. This may be true, but I received and distributed FREE roses twice. The Stanwood/Camano NEWS filed this story on February 15, 2005 by Kelly Ruhoff.

HEADLINE: Robinhood pastor rescues doomed roses for his flock and the elderly

“Everything was coming up roses for residents at Josephine Sunset Home over the weekend, thanks to a local pastor, 119,000 red roses and 62,620 others of assorted colors that arrived too late for Valentine’s Day.

Pastor John J. Shaffer of Stanwood United Methodist read about a shipment of roses that a Seattle grocery-store chain had refused to accept.

The roses were expected to arrive at Sea-Tac Airport from Mayacrops, a South American grower, last Tuesday but were hung up going through customs in Los Angeles and didn’t arrive until Thursday.

As a result, the buyer refused the order, and the distributor, Express Northwest, was stuck with cases of unwanted roses – or to be exact, 15,135 dozens of perfectly fresh roses.

A good portion of the surplus roses were given to soldiers at Fort Lewis and at Seattle veteran’s hospital, but trying to give away red roses to the military was met mostly with red tape, according to news reports.

After reading about the dilemma in a Seattle paper early Saturday morning, Shaffer placed a call to the distributor, and before 1 p.m. that day, 216 dozen roses of various colors were in the hands of residents and staff at Josephine Sunset Home.

The distributor assured Shaffer if he were willing to make the drive from Camano Island to south Seattle, he would make it worth his while.

“I thought it was a shame to let them go to waste,” said Shaffer, who serves as a chaplain at the Stanwood nursing home five hours each week.

He enlisted the help of volunteers to deliver the rescued roses to residents and staff at Josephine, who just didn’t receive one – but a dozen roses each, he said.

“Anyone who wanted them got them,” smiled Shaffer.

Barbara, his wife of 41 years, who isn’t used to getting roses on Valentine’s Day, was surprised as well with a dozen long-stem red roses.

“Don’t push me when I gave flowers to my wife for Valentine’s Day last,” chuckled Shaffer. “Let’s just say I didn’t take away business from any local florists.”

In addition, worshippers at both services at Stanwood United Methodist Sunday received a single rose.

“This was a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity,” said Shaffer. “It was fun to be able to do this.”


Lightning does strike twice!  Not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as it happened again in July. This time the distributor and the grower called me and I got a second truck load of roses totaling 396 dozens in 33 boxes. This time church members got a dozen of the roses, not just one. I even had enough to share with some of the business owners downtown. One owner refused the gift because he thought I was running a scam.

Wes Stanton wrote:  “My folks’ story is that you were contacted with this second truckload of flowers because of a flowery thank-you letter you’d written after the Valentine’s Day load.  It became an object lesson about the importance of writing thank-you letters.”

Summary of distribution:  33 boxes with 12 dozen per box.

5 boxes to Stanton’s @ Wesley Homes, Des Moines (some to their son and his church in Tacoma); 5 boxes to my church; 2 boxs to custodian Fred who helped me; 2 boxes to Merrill Gardens (now Brookdale); 10 boxes to Josephine; 1 box to Lutheran pastor; 2 boxes to a theatre group; 1 box to the church neighborhood; 2 box to Senior Center Thrift Shop; 2 box to Food Bank Thrift Shop.





During my lobbying years in Juneau, Alaska, I played a role in the passage of liberal abortion laws in Alaska prior to the Roe versus Wade decision in the United States Supreme Court. Colorado, Hawaii and Alaska were on the cutting-edge with this type of legislation, but the vote in Alaska was very contentious.

My thinking at the time was why lobby on a subject where everyone agrees?  So I picked an issue where the legislators were deeply divided, hence my work could possibly have some impact.  I did provide literature.  I know this was helpful to some who wanted to study the issue in some depth before deciding how they would vote.  While I felt helpful, I am confident that the angry attacks by the Roman Catholic Archbishop in Anchorage may have influenced more votes than I did.  Who knows for sure?

I provided up-to-date medical and psychological information to the legislators and when I listened to the Senate debate, my name was mentioned so often that it was a bit embarrassing. But I did provide material by experts to every legislator.  And for the most part, those who disagree with me were respectful.

Here is some material I shared at the time:

HEARING ON ABORTION LEGISLATION February 4, 1970 Testimony by John J. Shaffer

I have had the opportunity to study the issues surrounding abortion legislation in three organizations: (1) Annual Meeting of the Alaska Mission of the United Methodist Church; (2) Social Action Committee of The Jesse Lee Home Board; (3) Southeast Alaska Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) All three groups took the legislative position of favoring more liberalizd laws in these matters. It was the final decision of The Jesse Lee Home Board “that allowing abortion to become a medical decision between the mother and her doctor represents the best action that could be taken on the subject of abortion”. I concur in that decision.

I would like to quote two paragraphs from an article in ENGAGE magazine by Dr. Irvin M. Cushner (Director of the Center for Social Studies in Human Reproduction at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland) entitled “Abortion Law: Maryland Style”.

“The current abortion law movement really got its impetus in 1967 when three states — Colorado, California and North Carolina — were successful in getting an American Law Institute (ALI) law through their legislatures. In 1968 Maryland and Georgia passed similar laws, and there have been five more, so there are now ten states which have revised their laws away from the restrictive formula of “life” only to something approaching the ALI formula. In each state there are certain variations which, frankly, represent the in-fighting that went on in the legislature. One state has an age limitation, another state a duration of pregnancy limitation, another a residency requirement or a husband’s consent.

In Maryland the subject was turned over to a legislative committee that did NOT consist of physicians and social workers and some of the people who had been verbalizing about changing the law.  After two months of study, this committee came to the conclusion that there was no need for an abortion law, that actual practice made a farce of an abortion law. The committee felt that the only law necessary was to repeal the law, and make it an offense for a licensed physicial to do an abortion any other place but a hospital. SO MARYLAND WAS THE FIRST STATE IN THE COUNTRY IN WHICH A LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ACTUALLY RECOMMENDED TO THE LEGISLATURE THAT THE ABORTION LAW BE REPEALED.” (from ENGAGE, Octoer 15, 1969)

The ALI formula includes: “that abortions should be made legal if done by a physician in a hospital with consultation and for one of four reasons: (1) to preserve the physical health, (2) to preserve the mental health, (3) to prevent the birth of an abnormal fetus, (4) if the pregnancy was the result of rape and incest.”

Recognizing that there is an abundance of material on this subject, I would like to outline some of the reasons given in support of the type of legislation under consideration.

l     The present law is unjust because it places the economically handicapped at a disadvantage.

2     Social scientists have reported that the present law helps to perpetuate dependency and social maladjustment.

3     Any law which must be stretched or circumvented to work justice is not a good law. The present law places an unfair burden on physicians who are trying to follow a code of practice and must break a state law to fulfill a higher law.

4     It cannot be denied that a fetus is a form of life, but weighing this with the value of the mother, and the consequences of a deformed or unwanted child on the mother, the family, the community, and especially the child, the greatest love is served by permitting therapeutic abortions.

5.     As Christians, some of us are working for the day when every conception is planned and deliberate on the part of the parents and when every child will be born into a home where he or she is wanted and where there are adequate resources to help the child develop into the full human being God intended for each child to be.

When one examines our own religious practices, it is obvious that we do not treat a fetus as a human being. I have never been requested to conduct funeral services for a fetus. I have never heard of any religious leader conducting such a service for a child that was not well along in its pregnancy period. That should give us some pause for thought in regard to any theological approach to the issue.

(2020 Update:  Perhaps, as a direct result of this testimony, the Roman Catholic Church started having funerals for fetuses in Juneau, Alaska.)

It is important that we emphasize that under any liberalized code in relationship to abortion, no one would be forced to undergo abortion. Freedom of choice would be available for everyone. This is not the case under the current law.

(2020 Update:  Sadly, this was and is not true in all countries.  During the one child era in The People’s Republic of China, there was pressure to have abortions.  Now that is changing.)

In the emotion of any debate, it is also important to make a distinction between the words “kill” and “murder”. In spite of surface convictions, society has always recognized the right of killing, right from the time of the Ten Commandments. Applying the Commandment to their society “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, this meant: “Thou Shalt Not Murder Another Hebrew”. To kill in battle or to kill an enemy was justified, in the Hebrew Society of ancient Israel. My basic point is that an emotional shouting of the words “Thou Shalt Not Kill” does not do justice to the meaning of the words historically, biblically or in sociological terms.

Some would point to the psychological danger of therapeutic abortions. We must recognize that there are psychological dangers possible for those who do not receive an abortion, as well as for those who might be able to have one. This is a very strong point justifying what the Medical Doctors are asking for: “the opportunity for every physician to work out with his or her patient what is best in each case.”

As a citizen of the State of Alaska, I can see no reason why the whole issue should not be made a matter of the practice of medicine.

ABORTION AND RELIGION   (Address by Rabbi Israel R. Margolics, Feb. 24, 1965)

“Surely man, who was endowed by God with the intelligence to master nature, and the spiritual strength to bend that intelligence to the fulfillment of the Divine Plan, was also intended to exercise his own free will in determining whether or not to bring the fruit of his seed into the world. If the sexual function of man was meant to be directed strictly to the purpose of procreation, then, like other members of the animal kingdom, he would have experienced the sexual urge solely on regular, set occasions, devised by nature for the perpetuation of the species.

“However, the fact is that man alone has been granted the boon of an unrestricted sexual appetite as an intimate expression of love that is unlimited by time or season. How he exercises this privilege is undeniably of some moral and legal concern to the community – but, as long as a man and woman find it appropriate to fulfill their love for and joy in each other through sexual intercourse, there is no law of nature and of God that requires that such love and joy must perforce lead to conception and birth. It is a man and a woman who must decide whether or not they wish their union to lead to the birth of a child, not the church or the synagogue, and certainly not the state.

ABORTION (further thoughts – written 2-23-70)  by John J. Shaffer and shared with the legislators in a four page document.

Since testifying at the Senate and House hearings on abortion legislation held in Juneau, I have had these further thoughts on the issues at stake.

While honestly desiring to not become involved in “religious differences”, I feel that the heavy handed entry of the Archbishop of Anchorage in the issue demands that other religious personalities become involved to balance the scales, so to speak. In a recent TIME article (2-23-70), explaining why priest and nuns are leaving the Catholic Church, the writer states that “the vast majoriy are in honest rebellion against what they feel is an authoritarian, outmoded church organization that unfairly limits their freedoms and responsibilities and frustrates their desire to serve God by serving man.” The abortion issue has become another example of the Catholic system unfairly seeking to limit the freedom of their own members, as well as the general public. Many Catholics are put in the position of privately believing one thing, but have to profess another publicly.

Basic to everything which the Roman Catholic Church says on birth control is the conviction the procreative end is primary in marriage or put somewhat more “inclusively in the words of Thomas Aquinas, marriage is chiefly for the ‘procreation and education of children’. That is the base of the church’s teaching.” (source – “The Future Is Upon Us”, by Roy Smith, page 57-58). Here again we see that the Protestant theologians have brought a whole new approach to human sexuality which is at cross currents with historical Catholic theology. Certainly legislators, while being aware of the differences, ought not to reflect either view in legislation before them.

The archbishop speaks of a “package of genocide legislation”. Is the archbishop so afraid that he has such little control over his own church members,that they will seek abortions eagerly?

To understand my own motivation for favoring more liberal legislation in this whole area, I would like to relate your thinking to the “population explosion”. Most responsible writers on the world scene today speak of this as one of the main concerns of mankind. I feel that creative abortion legislation would add one more positive way to help humanity to deal with the problem of birth control, as it related to the population explosion facing mankind. There are negative aspects to using abortion as a cure, due to the fact that the more advanced of our civilization will be the ones to make use of this means of birth control – after individual families have reached the size they might desire. Those who most want abortion legislation are those with three to four children, not the irresponsible members of our society, in spite of the emotional claims of some of the opponents of this legislation. (EXAMPLES: Mrs. James V. Brown has voluntariy risked abuse by testifying that she sought an abortion after having four children. (Anchorage resident) Southeast Alaska Empire had a letter to the editor on February 20, 1970, from someone described as ‘Name Withheld’ who asks for the “expert” who will provide the strength, willingness, finances, durability, love and initiative to go around once more when the first unwanted baby arrives into our family of six in precisely seven months”. (2020 – it was testimony like this that was most persuasive for me.) ………………

The testimony was given at all the hearings that doctors are dedicated to preserve life. If the decision about abortion is left as a medical matter between the doctor and the patient for the entire nine months prior to birth, the doctor would still preserve life, as he is sworn to do, if he could. The basic value of this type of legislation is that the doctor would have the threat of criminal action removed from over his head, and he would be free to make the choices necessary in his professional practice.

I would prefer a world in which every child was “wanted” and “loved”. We do not have this kind of world. Does our quality of life have to suffer because of poor laws, in the meantime? I am working for the day when all children are wanted and loved. I will continue to support social legislation to care for those persons who are damaged by lack of love. Be assured that those who are not born because of abortion legislation will not know the difference: i.e. if I had never been born, it would certainly not be bothering me today, as I would not be aware of it.

THE CASE FOR ABORTION by Dr. Selig Neubardt, American obstetrician, in his book “A Concept of Contraception” “I believe the basic obligation we have to a new human being is that it be wanted. We will never all be created equal, but we will be able to come closest to that ideal when we are all born wanted. It is therefore logical that I accept abortion. The other ethical and moral position I can take is to allow any woman who does not want to be pregnant to be aborted — with dignity, by the physician of her choice, and at a price compatible with other medical services.”

WHAT KIND OF WOMEN HAVE ABORTIONS? by Ed Edmund W. Overstreet, U. of California School of Medicine. “in the United States… at least 60 per cent of illegal abortions are performed on married women, and about half of the subjects are in the age group 25 to 35. It is quite clear that the principal motivation for illegal abortions in the United States is socioeconomic in nature. Over 60 per cent of women who seek them already have a family of two or more children and they simply find that they cannot face the psychologic, social or economic impact of another child.”

ABORTION AND RELIGION by Rabbi Israel R. Margolies, New York Academy of Medicine, February 24, 1965 “Judaism considers man the active, responsible partner of God in the task of establishing the Kingdom of God — not in some far-off celestial sphere, or in some distant apocalyptic age under the leadership of a Messianic miracle man — but right here on earth. Indeed, Judaism suggests that having created the universe, God, while vitally concerned about all that occurs on this planet, has deliberately left the work of human history and creativity to man. I believe that the ideal world that all of us yearn to see, the world of universal justice and lasting peace, will not be bestowed by God upon man, but rather must be created by man to the greater glory of God.



My thoughts have gone to survival issues, perhaps stimulated by Coronavirus, but not entirely. The big blast in Beirut and an airplane crash in India (2020) bring to mind the fact that we really don’t know what is going to happen when we get on an airplane or when we check into an hotel next to a busy port. The same is true when we drive a car. As careful as we may be, we don’t have control over other drivers.

During my own lifetime, I have had some close calls. Some were more dramatic than others, but due to skill or dumb luck, I am still here. This will be a way to preserve some of my memories.

CHILDHOOD – My brothers and I liked to show some “macho behavior” by jumping off a moving hayrack to demonstrate our skill at staying on our feet. My father ordered me to stop doing it, but one fateful day I disobeyed and when I jumped off, I hit a steel cable hidden in some weeds. My right leg was sliced open to the bone. My father did not reprimand me. He took me 5 miles to a doctor, where the wound was cleaned and sewed tight. To my memory, it was never mentioned again. Lesson learned. And I survived.  All I have now is a scar to remind me of my disobedience.

CAMPING – Summer church camp was part of my life for several years. It was located at Lake Bloomington. One year someone thought it would be a good idea to integrate the camp by bringing children from inner-city Chicago. Some of them were very tough. I came from a family where there was lots of harmless (?) teasing. One night I was walking near a couple, including one boy from Chicago. Overhearing a remark, I made some comment in jest and before I knew it, the young man pulled a knife on me. I outran him and didn’t interact with him again. Chicago was different than Ludlow, that was for sure.

BULLIES – Father felt it would be good for me to experience a better school than the one room facility (Griswold School) near our home. So he paid the tuition necessary for me to attend Junior High in Rantoul. At some point in my first year, the mayor’s son got some bad grades and was removed from the Student Council. The teachers picked me as his replacement. He decided to punish me and challenged me to a fight. As I prepared for this fight, I noticed that two of his friends were wearing brass knuckles and I realized that if I defeated him, they would join the fight and it would be 3 against 1. Not being stupid, I blew the fight, quickly allowing him to get a head lock on me and saying “uncle”. I had lots of experience saying “uncle” with my older brother Lee. However, these bullies tried to make life difficut for me during my entire six years of school in Rantoul. Most of the time I was able to avoid them.  In high school, I had my own “posse” at times, which probably protected me. Whatever happened, we never came to blows again. At the 40th High School reunion, I reminded him of his behavior and he gave me a big hug. He was carrying an oyxgen tank, so I wasn’t seriously tempted to “get even”.

SPEAKING OF BULLIES: Another high school experience related to my decision to drop out of “Agriculture” class and take two years of Latin, as I prepared for my university experience. Two years of a foreign language were required in some schools. One student (Eldon H.) decided I was communicating that I was “too good” to continue to take agriculture or I was “putting on airs”. Whatever, he tried to make an issue of it for several months. I ignored him. However, one day at lunch, he decided to escalate and after he made a comment, he threw a grape at me. I picked up the grape and threw it back at him, with one difference. I didn’t let loose of the grape. When I came to (did I blackout?) two friends (my posse) were pulling me off of him. I was beating his head against a cement floor. No teachers were present, so there were no repercussions. He never teased me again.. In fact, he never spoke to me again.

UNIVERSITY – Life was fairly tame during the next seven years of higher education. My closest threat came from a summer experience in Detroit, where I participated in a Student-in-Industry Seminar. We hit Detroit during a recession, so getting a job was difficult. Finally strings were pulled and I did work for the Ford Motor Company building radiators. My work station partner was very helpful. Having been raised with a strong work ethic, I thought it would be fun to “make production quota”. It wasn’t long until a very tall man (who happened to be black) wearing an apron to protect him from acid at his work station, stopped by to tell me that new employees do not make production. I continued to work hard. He stopped by again with the same message. Then the light dawned. He was threatening me. He was hinting at bodily harm. I got the best of both worlds. I proved I could make production for a few hours and we quit working early, so  I would not be given an acid bath, along with the radiators we were constructing.


Summer experience at Moose Pass

“Red” Smith took me out in a leaky boat on Cooper Lake and it was almost swamped when a strong wind came up without any warning.  I was very afraid.  It may have been a williwaw.  Skilak Lake was so famous for them, I never went out on it.

Kenai Parish

The most exciting experience there was experiencing and surviving the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake.   Many people lost their lives from unstable ground or tidal waves, but our ground held and we were spared from being impacted by the tidal waves.  (The tidal wave hit Kenai at low tide.)

I also survived almost hitting a moose (twice).  One time it was a glancing blow.  The other time I went into a snow bank (putting snow in the motor) to avoid hitting the moose and a church member (Floyd Blossom) thawed out the snow surrounding my car’s motor in one of his sheds.

Chugiak Experiences

When I was the pastor at Chugiak (65-69) I was involved in an serious car accident. I was knocked out, but no one was killed. It was on glare ice. Some one pulled onto a road in front of me and I could not stop. Five vehicles were involved. The policeman only charged three of the vehicles to my insurance. The person I hit was so impressed with my behavior (I didn’t cuss him out) that he started attending my church. He didn’t read my mind. His wife had had Peter Marshall as her pastor when she was 17 years old in Georgia and I didn’t measure up, so they didn’t stick with the church.  I never told her about Peter’s problem with plagarism.  

These stories are told elsewhere, but to repeat, one airplane flight involved one of us getting out of the airplane and standing on a ski, so we could land safely. It had been damaged on take-off from a snow covered lake when the ski hit a log. I was not nervous until we started to land the airplane. The runway was lined with fire trucks and it dawned on me that they were there for us.  This story was told in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.  And I was described as a Baptist!  

On another airplane trip, a new pilot didn’t calculate fuel correctly and the airplane ran out of fuel when we were flying over forests. Some how we coasted until we got to an airport.  My friend, Leo C. Cramer, claimed that it was his prayers that kept us in the air.  We didn’t report the pilot, but I vowed never to fly with him again.

We spent some time at Eklutna Lake with children.  One week, children were playing in ice caves.  The next week, the play area was a wild river.  After the 1964 earthquake, rocks would come off the surrounding mountains. whizzing through the air.  It was very dangerous. We stopped going there. Today, the area is closed off to visitors, except for professional mountaineers.


Chilkoot Trail Hike – my life was not in danger, but as a group of us went over Chilkoot Pass, we hit windy (50 miles per hour) and rainy conditions.  One of the youth became listless, so I force-hiked the group to drier ground, put up tents, put everyone in sleeping bags and then two of us fed everyone.  The two of us were warmer than those in sleeping bags.  But everyone survived.  Later I learned the name for the youth’s condition:  hypothermia.  A friend reminded me that there was sleet/snow on our tents the next morning – in August.

Yakatat Moose Hunts

One of our hunting group shot 3 moose 5-6 miles from our camp cabin.  On the first pack, I was carrying 90 pounds of moose meat, slipped while crossing a stream and got completely wet.  I also had hypothermia by the time we got to the cabin.  Don’t know that it helped, but it was the first time I ever drank any alcohol, provided by my hunting companions.  Whatever….I survived.

We observed a government official from Seattle hunting illegally.  We didn’t report him.  He was armed and I would have considered him to be dangerous. He was the Chief of Police.  The hunting party was using a spotter with a walkie-talkie to tell the hunter where the animals were located.

On another hunt (1972), also near Yakatat, my hunting partner left me to scare up a moose, but instead he scared up a very big brown bear that ran by me about 30 feet from where I was standing in an open boggy area.  He did not take notice of me, for which I was very grateful.  Awesome experience, especially since I survived.

Deer Hunt

An Indian friend (Richard Newton) took me on a deer hunt.  We were delivered to an island by boat.  As we hunted up a stream, we switched streams, but my hunting companion did not notice.  We had a slight disagreement over which way to go.  I prevailed and we got back to the boat safely.  If we had gone his way, we would have missed the boat and forced a major search for us.  Hopefully.

He told this story on himself to the choir.  He was the director.


I was out fishing with Dr. Don Hammond near Auke Bay and a storm came up that created massive swells.  We made it back to calmer waters.


Nome was a very dangerous place, but I didn’t have any close calls there to my knowledge.  However, there was a bullet hole in the window by the kitchen sink.  Made us wonder when and why and how it got there?  When I challenged the wide open culture there, some of my drinking friends advised me to stop doing pastoral work in the bars.  Threats were being made against me by some persons when they got drunk.

I did take flying school there, but when we studied the chapter on weather, I dropped out.  I decided I would let others be in charge of whether or not I lived or died on an airplane.  One of my fellow students crashed and died on her solo flight.

On one commercial flight from Nome to Anchorage, we were instructed to get in the crash position as we prepared to land, due to 60 MPH cross winds on the runway.  I peeked and just before touch down, we were flying in such  a way that I could see the runway from my side window.  We were the last flight of the day.  All other flights were diverted to a nearby military base.

There was a lot of dying in Nome, mostly from alcohol abuse.  One powerful man killed a man for flirting with his wife on April 27, 1964.  He was convicted and then pardoned by the Governor.  I came to Nome 10 years later and was asked to serve on a jury, when the same man was accused of illegal activity in relationship to a polar bear hide and other items.  He was acquitted.  I had some fun in getting kicked out of the jury pool.  I knew I would be removed from the jury pool, so I gave some creative answers to the question as to whether or not I could be objective as to his guilt.  I referred to some of his other alleged illegal activities of which I was aware. Walking on the edge.

East Anchorage

I don’t recall any close calls, but I did land on Ruth Glacier with my brother in a chartered airplane.  We were going to hike to the Sheldon Chalet, but the pilot was so nervous about the soft snow that I was nervous, so we left as soon as the airplane was turned around for take-off.


Again, there were no real dangers, but on one recreational fishing trip we were having motor trouble and when we finally got to a ship channel, we flagged down a passing working boat.  The captain reluctantly rescued us.

On a hike, I stepped into a hole up to my waist, but again, no real danger.

However, on a blueberry picking trip at Blue Lake, I found a bush loaded with berries.  Fortunately, I remembered the hiking rule and when I checked where I was stepping, I avoided stepping off a very high bluff above the dam.  “Look before you leap”.  The blueberries were wonderful, after the worms were removed.

State of Washington

While still in Sitka, I purchased an used truck from a friend (not a good idea) and at least twice it died:  once when Barbara was driving through Seattle and once when I was in Portland.  Both times it was on a busy freeway.  Not a fun experience for either of us. Finally my trusted mechanic said it was time to stop trying to fix it.  A sad day for me.

All in all, my life was very tame.  And so far, I have survived earthquakes and floods.  It remains to be seen if our nation survives Donald Trump.

We now live in a “lahar” zone from Mt. Rainier.  But we are 100 feet above the Green River, so at least we will have some warning before we are warmed.  Now we enjoy an annual trip to “see” the mountain up close and personal, but no more 30 mile hikes.  There are visitors centers at both Sunrise and Paradise in the Mt. Rainier National Park.

This year the greatest “risk” is relating to the coronavirus.  So far, so good.  As of this date (September 1, 2020) we have survived!

(updated 9/1/2020)

THE OUTSIDER (Legislative Newsletter 1970-1971)

THE OUTSIDER (Legislative Newsletter 1970-1971) done for friends and others interested in what was going on in the Alaska State Legislature. I will only quote what might have some interest. Mostly I sent it to United Methodist friends. I denied permission to quote my newsletter, which turned off at least one person, but as I will explain, I was concerned about possible errors in my quickly written newsletter.

January 28, 1970: “OUTSIDER” Speculation #1 to United Methodist “type” brethren:

This type of communication IS NOT FOR PUBLIC QUOTATION, due to the fact that the sources are not always guaranteed to be accurate. You may recall a mistake made by the Juneau pastor several years ago on gambling legislation that was extremely embarrasing to several pastors – as we were guilty of distributing false information to our members about the voting reord of one politician. I trust I will not be guilty of the same mistake. For example, it would not help my effectiveness for you to write a legislator, saying, John S. said that you are against such and such a bill”. Even the daily record is not always 100% accurate, as a legislator can have the next day’s record indicate a change in his or her official vote.

However, I felt some of you would appreciate knowing how things are going from my point of view. If you do not appreciate this information, please let me know and I will save some stamp money.

The main area of interest for me has been “abortion” legislation.

[Comments added in 2020:  It would not be correct to say that I am in favor of abortions, but I was and am in favor of “safe and legal abortions” for those who seek to have one.   I spent a lot of energy on the issue in 1970 and have not changed my mind.  Several woman who testified for “safe and legal abortions” in 1970 had already produced seven chldren.  I found that “very” interesting.  It will be very sad if we go back to unsafe abortions and the time when the rich could get abortions in other countries.] 

1. It seems that the Sackett bill would be more restrictive than the current law, due to the fact that the courts will not convict a physician who performs an abortion prior to the first 20 weeks. The only problem is that the doctors are uncomfortable with the current law.

2. Senator John Rader in the Senate and several members of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare have been working hard to put in a bill that will liberalize the current law and also have a chance of passage.

3. If any legislator is attacked personally for supporting this legislation, I believe we should support his or her right to struggle with the problem and not be subject to nasty personal attacks. I would appreciate copies of any “Letters to the Editor” which deal with this subject.

4. Many legislators are angry over this attempt to liberalize the matter to the point recommended in the enclosures. Not all of them are Roman Catholic. When the House Bill is introduced, I would suggest supporting it more heavily than the Senate Bill, due to the fact that it will have a better chance of passage and this would then put more pressure on the Senate for a decision. Rader could not find anyone to co-sponsor the bill, but please note that he did NOT ASK EVERYONE. (So Senators do need letters, too, if you take the time to write.)

5. The issue of legalized murder has been raised. This troubles those who are troubled. Where do we stop?

6. Following are some men who are troubled with the issue, but do not know how far to go: Representative John Sweet, Senator Bob Palmer, Senator Joseph Josephson. Letters to them would be most helpful, as time progresses.

7. The bill (when introduced) will pass the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. From here it goes to the Judiciary Committee and I do not know what will happen to it there. Chairman Barry Jackson is helping draft the bill (behind the scenes) so he will support it, although at first he was opposed to liberalizing the position, according to my sources. Members of the Judiciary include: Jackson, Fink (with 10 children), Miller, Hillstrand, Kay, Metcalf, Cornelius (He will support a good bill, so little need to write him), Banfield, Harris.

8. The position of the Catholic Church is enclosed. 30,000 copies flooded the state. Let your legislator know where you stand. They will appreciate it, as it is a difficult position.

February 5, 1970 “Outsider” Letter #2

1. INTERESTING BILL INTRODUCED BY KAY & 15 others in the House.

House Bill No. 591 would amend the Section regarding liquor licenses, so that “No license may be issued…a club, fraternal organization, or patriotic organizations which exclude a person from its membership, or denies services to a guest of a member or otherwise discriminates against a member or guest of a member, because of race, color or national origin.”

Locally that will make the Elks very unhappy.


…It would be next to impossible to force something around Vance Phillips. I hope that the powers which be will take note that a good opponent for Senator Vance Phillips needs to be found prior to filing date on May 31st. He would not be as bad just as a negative member of the Senate, but he has been given the most powerful job in the system: Chairman of Finance.


On my day off this week I appeared before the Senate HEW & Judiciary on SB 41 1 (Rader’s Bill) at 1:30 p.m. and the House HEW at 7:30 p.m. The Superior Court Room was jammed to capacity on both occasions. I was first before the Senate and second before the House. It would be impossible to summarize the experience briefly, but the Senate is basically hostile to the proposed legislation, while the House is eager to tackle the subject. The Commissioner of Health and Welfare has come out against the legislation “this year” and proposed that his department study it for a year.

I have probably set back the ecumenical movement a few centuries. The Catholic position, to be consistent, has to be opposed to even saving the mother’s life, if endangered in childbirth.

Please be assure that I emphasized that my testimony was for myself and not for United Methodists.


February 18, 1970 OUTSIDER LETTER #3

1. Bill that struggled with definition of “recognized church”.

2. Bill related to full cost of care. “Governor has hardened his stand, so letters would not have great meaning now, but be alert to future word on the issue.

3. A proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska by the vote of the people establishing an environmental and natural resources policy. Needed 14 votes. Got 13. It was too late to organize support for this one. Basic part of the resolution read this way: “STATEMENT OF POLICY. It is the policy of the state to protect and uphold the right of each of it citizens to a natural environment of clean air, clean water, and scenic beauty, and to encourage the wise use of natural resources consistent with the public interest. The legislature, in implementing this policy, shall include adequate provisions for the abatement of all forms of air, water, and landscape pollution and degradation.” I listed the six who opposed this Statement of Policy.

I noted that the House Bill might give the Senate another crack at the Resolution when a Senator returned from a stay in the local hospital.

4. Report on Abortion Bills. Roman Catholics opposed to letting this issue go to the vote of the people. Members of the Senate got a hot letter from the Archbishop (Ryan) of Anchorage that seemed to play loose with the facts.  (2020 – For some reason, he was transferred from this position to becoming Coadjutor Archbishop for U.S. Military Vicariate from 1975 to 1985, then he was promoted as Archbishop for the Military services from 1985 to 1991.  Bishop Hurley took his place in Anchorage.  Oh, Archbishop Ryan also served as the Titular Archbishop of Gabii in 1975 ff.  Perhaps serving the military chaplains was a safe place for a very angry person and I didn’t help much.  At the time of the abortion debate, I was convinced that his angry, personal attack on some legislators assured the passage of the final bill.)

5. Senate Bill relating to being “Drunk in Public” by removing those items under “Disorderly Conduct and Disturbance of the Peace”, which relate to drinking. Still a ‘no-no’ to use profane language or make a loud noise.

6. Good social legislation introduced by Rep. Genie Chance.

March 5, 1970 OUTSIDER #4

Details of the State Senate working on an Abortion Bill which failed by a vote of 10 to 9. Needed 11 to pass. I shared comments about each Senator as they spoke. Very detailed report.

March 6, 1970  OUTSiDER #5

Fast moving developments on abortion.

Judiciary Committee in Senate introduces the Hawaii bill for Senator Rader.

House HEW finally introduces its bill.  Now in House Judiciary. Representative Banfield predicts it will get to the floor of the House this session.

Representative Banfield (speech to parish men’s club today)

-Opposes lowering of drinking age.

-Favors a liberal abortion law – for others, not herself.

-Bigot bill was introduced to make a point. Will not be considered this session.

-Made an interesting point on the $250 per month pension bill.  Opposes people like Elmer Rasmusson or Belle Simpson getting this much, when the state only pays $105 to a mother with one child on certain welfare programs.

Copies of both bills enclosed.  You are welcome.

(P.S. Rader and Palmer shared some hate mail with me today. Rader’s letter was signed: “Not a Catholic just a Christian do you know what that means?!”  Palmer’s talked about cells and hoped Palmer’s cells were removed next election.)

Investigated the right of Initiative for legislation that the legislature will not pass. It does exist. (Similar to those sick individuals (opps!) who work for a referendum on moving state capitals.)

Quoting parts out of context: “The lawmaking powers assigned to the legislature may be exercised by the people through the initiative.”…”A deposit of $100 must accompany the application.”…need 100 sponsors.  Need finally 10 per cent of the registered voters. Amounts to about 8,000 signatures.


Alliace for Humane Abortions  (with address) is seeking to organize state-wide. Juneau chapter is being formed next Monday a.m. Committee will be composed (I think) of the wife of the mayor, the wife of the most outstanding constitutional lawyer in the State of Alaska (Jewish) and the wife of a minister in town, who is opposed to abortion legislation or at least on the fence.  Plus yours truly,


At the request of an Anchorage resident, I did some lobbying today with Bill Ray, chairman of House Finance, for SB 256. This is at the bottom of the stack, I understand and understood. Mr. Ray, in his usual clear manner, claimed not to be aware that the bill was in his committee. When this was clearly demonstrated, he immediately offered me the chance to testify next Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. This has to do with grant-in-aid for alcoholic treatment centers: i.e. detoxification centers.  Any letters of this subject should go directly to Mr. Ray. Don’t mention my name, please!!!!!

Bill Trudeau plans to go with me, plus I got information today from Glenn Wilcox and Bert Hall. Soon I may know what I am talking about. If the Council of Churches would hire me, perhaps I would even becom smarter!!!!!  (Smile!)

OUTSIDER #6   (undated)

I am slightly embarrassed, if I may digress a bit. Word has been coming to me that some of the brethren have been comparing my “outsider” with the legislative newsletter of the Alaska Council of Churches and saying that this one is more interesting, etc. I feel this is grossly unfair and must cease, for the following reasons:

  1.  My motive in doing this little piece was to share some of my personal experiences with fellow United Methodist clergy. I intended it to be an “in-house” document and feel that discussion of it at the Alaska Council of Churches was out of place.
  2.  I do not want to do the “hard work” involved in preparing an exact document, like the Alaska Council of Churches legislative newsletter. We should appreciate that this does take some exacting work. I can write this thing in a few minutes, sharing some highlights each week.
  3. My comments are highly editorial. I do not think it would be proper to subject anyone else to my viewpoint, in this way, unless they requested it. In fact, I made it clear in #1 that I would not send this to anyone requesting that I cease.
  4. There are many of us (besides myself) who are not willing to do the homework necessary to tell the difference between bills in intent, etc. I suggest that the legislative newsletter should be treated as a tool, not the end product. What I decide to support or not support should be my decision, not the decision of a writer. While I enjoyed the jokes and editorial comment of earlier publishers, let us avoid the sin of comparing them – unless we enjoy the parishioners who sin by comparing preachers unfairly.

ABORTION:  (update)

ALCOHOL TREATMENT CENTERS:  Bill Trudeau, Tom Dahl, his assistant, and myself showed up on Monday morning to talk to the Senate Finance Committee. Bill provided the expertise needed. At the end of the session, I asked for a hearing and got one for Tuesday, March 17, with Chancey Croft in charge. Had my second experience of hostility from a legislator when you disagree with him on a bad day. Representative Ray made the statement that alcoholism is caused by a “metabolism problem”. I suggested that might be an over-simplification of the problem and he responded with several items (as I remember them): “Don’t push me with a semantic problem.” “Dr. Shaffer, I did not invite you here to lecture me” and “Don’t challenge my personal beliefs.” I got the hearing and now know my state representative a bit better.  No longer do I have to worry about Vance Phillips for Anchorage or Bob Blodgett for Nome. I shall work on my own backyard, so to speak.  (2020 explanation: both of these Senators attacked me by name or position on the floor of the Senate.)

YOUTH HOSTEL: Six girls from Anchorage – TRAVELING TEENS – stayed in our youth hostel. They came to observe the legislature, plus obtain a bill that would forbid an organization from using the name “youth hostel” unless they are chartered by a national organization known as “American Youth Hostel”. They succeeded in getting the bill introduced…..I testified on the bill, bot did not support or oppose it – just supplied information.

PENSION BILL: The House passed a bill this week to provide $250 per month for those who have been in the state at least 25 years. The more I learn about the bill, the worse it looks. Senators may need your support in opposing the bill.  John Rader is working on a “negative income tax” substitute bill. It has lots of political pressure built up behind it.


CHURCH OF CHRIST, UNITING.   (shared some information from Dr. Robert Nelson)

JUNEAU COOPERATIVE CHURCH COUNCIL formed by Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Methodist, under the leadership of Wm. Trudeau.

ABORTION BILL.  I predict one more vote on the issue.  Alliance for Humane Abortions received 72  signatures from the town of Skagway – total population 700, including children.

FIRST HEARING ON SENATE BILL NO. 539 “An Act providing for an alternative procedure in actions for divorce” will be held in HWE on April 1, 1970. Senator Thomas invited me to testify but I will be in Illinois. He indicated that the Bar Associiation would oppose the bill. Provides for a Family Court Master to carry out the provisions usually done by Superior Court. Provides for voluntary Marriage Counseling, if available. Eliminates the need for costly attorneys to fix the blame, etc. for cause of divorce. Should remove much of the bitterness related to some divorce cases. Attorneys would lose some money, if this legislation passes, I understand. Looks like the kind of bill we should be behind, if we have approved the new approach of the United Methodist Church in relationship to remarriage, etc.

SENATE BILL #475 is in Senate Rules. The Alaska Council of Churches refused to deal with this issue. It looks like we are in favor of freedom of religion, as long as everyone agrees with me.  (See “Outsider” #3)

TENSION seems to be building up in the legislature now, as the session wears on. I may have picked a good time to be away, although I have my regrets. This will be the last “outsider” unless the session is still going in May. I have enjoyed sharing with you. I will share our reaction to General Conference, since we will be visiting that while on vacation.

SENATE BILL #494 – dealing with pre-school education for 1 to 3 year old children, as proposd by American Baptist Church and Alaska Methodist University. Needs a boost to get out of Finance Committee in the Senate, if you have some letter writing energy. Senator Vance Phillips indicated to me that he had not worked on that one yet.

INSTALLATION OF BISHOP FRANCIS HURLEY.  Wm. Trudeau and myself were able to assume our proper place of rank in a procession at the installation Saturday (between the lay reader  and the priests). It was an interesting ceremony. Planeload flew in from San Francisco and many were here from Anchorage.  Choir used the sisters from the monastary in Anchorage on O’Mallay Road, so it was good to see them again. Archbishop spoke briefly on the confusion of identity among priests – could see no good reason for it. New bishop spoke in an appreciative way about Bishop Everett Palmer participating at the San Francisco ordination service. He will certainly add a new dimension to the work of the church here in Juneau.  (2020 – and indeed he did, becoming the Archbishop of Anchorage and doing many good things.  While in Juneau, some one tried to get him to say negative things about my work on abortion.  He responded to the loaded question with these words:  “John and I disagree on that subject.  Next question?”

OUTSIDER NO. 8  (undated)

This has been an unusual session. Much will be written as to why it has lasted so long, etc. Lack of administrative leadership will be one of the most convincing reasons. The difficulty (or refusal) to set legislative priorities will be another.  (2020:  Keith Miller was the Governor at this time.)

I just finishd an experience which goes a long way towards explaining why many people have given up hope on the system as we know it today. HB 810, an admittably controversial measure, which would give some protection to a resident against serving in an undeclared war, stirred up much citizen interest here in Juneau. Over 100 persons attended the one and only hearing on the subject. Earl Hillstrand (State Affairs chairman) and Richard McVeigh (vice-chairman State Affairs) have effectively stalled on the bill long enough, so that it will not be considered effectively this session. Most of the hearing testimony was based on the idea of giving opponents to the war another weapon besides the ballot box and revolution: the legal system of our nation.

Hillstrand announced at the close of the first hearing that he would hold another one to hear the other side. (sixteen spoke for the bill, two against)  When he was asked when, he replied: “Soon.”  That was eight days ago. One hearing was scheduled, but cancelled at the last minute with no explanation. McVeigh seems to think that war made a man out of him, so everyone else should have the value he received from the military. (that is not an official statement, incidentally) He is so wishy-washy that it would be difficult to get an official statement that you could count on. (He and Hillstrand are roommates.)

The local Model Cities program is trying to get a bill passed that would allow the Dept. of Labor to keep statistics on people according to race. Four years ago native groups and others eliminated the keeping of statistics on persons by race. Today, we learn that certain federal programs need these statistics, so the native groups were educated into reversing their opinion. Confuses the politicians, to be sure.

FLASH: Who said the legislature did not accomplish anything. Notice what happened to Vance Phillips? Trick of the week! Write Vance Phillips a letter, praising his courage, etc. etc. and suggest he run for governor, senator or something like that. His vanity might turn the trick and the legislature would be rid of him. Nick Begich was criticized by Vance today; Nick came back by criticizing the former finance chairman who stopped the card games at lunchtime in the Dept. of Labor. Vance then took the floor and suggested that if Nick did not shut up, he “would punch him in the eye”.

You have probably read about Blodgett beating up a poor old 65 year old man (Bronson). I added my influence by talking Willie Hensley into filing against Brodgett for the Senate seat from the Nome-Kotzebue area. Getting rid of some of these ……might be the best contribution that can be made for the welfare of this state. (2020:  I note that Willie Hensley was elected to the State Senate in 1971, so mark that up to one of my successes.  I didn’t brag about it when I moved to Nome in 1974, as Blodgett was a close friend of one of my critics, the editor of the Nome Nugget.)

Anchorage Chamber of Commerce did not really conduct themselves very well on their mission to stop the spending of the oil money. They speak with forked tongue. Save the money, but give us shared revenues, sewer systems and three new buses for the airport. By the way, before I sound self-righteous, Juneau has its trouble in Bill Ray. He put out a news release recently about all the money “he” got for the Juneau area in the new budget. Maybe tht is why he gets elected. I can not think of any other reason.

I have missed writing the “Outsider”. Not too much happened since my last issue, but I did want to share some of the good news, which deals with the bad guys of this session. Earlier closing hours of the bars, against abortion, against spending money. (By the way, I note that the Chugiak resident who inspired me to enter politics briefly is running for governor under the banner of the American Independent Party.  Cheers.

“The OUTSIDER”  Volume II, No. 1   January 12, 1971

Shared committee assignment in the House and shared the difficulty in organizing a split Senate.  I urged my readers to put on pressure at the point of your convictions.

(2020:  I note that Willie Hensley is part of the process.  I now remember that I send him money for his campaign.   We were now rid of Bob Blodgett, who often threatened those who opposed him with physical violence.  Yeah!)

I predicted that would take 3-4 weeks to break the deadlock over who will organize the Senate.

“The Outsider”  Volume II, No. 2  January 17, 1971

Prediction #2:  I will not make any more predictions.

SENATE ORGANIZES ON FRIDAY at 11:55 a.m. One of my contacts called to say that the Senate was about to cast a secret ballot for the Republicans or Democrats to organize the Senate. This was done with the result of 11-9 in favor of the Republicans. acting President Bradshaw continued his attempts at humor by asking the Senators the traditional question, after all ballots were stuffed in the box:  “Does anyone wish to change their vote?” At this point in time (Saturday) the only definite organization is that Jay Hammond is President.

WHO SWITCHED VOTES?  The “outsider” will have to be vague on this point. One theory would have it that John Rader was the one.  Evidence: your reporter was going to the little room on the 2nd floor to relieve a natural urge, only to discover an intense conversation between Lowell Thomas, Jr., Terry Miller and John Rader. It ceased when the “outsider” entered. From that meeting they went to vote.

Another theory has it that two Democrats switched and one Republican switched. This was based on the keen eyesight of one observer who could tell who crossed a “t” on their ballot and who did not. We do know that Bill Ray initialed his ballot, so he could not be accused of betrayal and John Butrovich used a pen with red ink, to prove his loyalty. (all this to prove that I can find something to write about this year)

HOUSE BILL NO. 39 by Huber, Bradner and Warwick by request: “An Act relating to the selling or giving tobacco to minors.  Section of the law is repealed.  Those section say that it is unlawful to sell, exchange or give cigarettes, cigars or tobacco to a person under the age of 18.  

The bill was introduced, read the first time and referred to the Committees of Commerce and Judiciary.  In talking to Bradner, I learned the following things: This bill relates to a request from students at the High School in Fairbanks, as well as the adults. There is pressure in several communities for smoking rooms in the high school. There seems to be tension over the resulting hypocrisy – letting students do things which are clearly illegal. In addition, one has the problem of enforcement of this law, especially in relationship to the machines which sell cigarettes.

I studied this bill because I thought it might be a sleeper, but I can understand the need to remove it from the criminal statutes. If you wanted to surprise the legislators, you could support the passage of such legislation.

HOUSE BILL NO. 26 by Fischer: “An Act relating to population limitations on issuance of new liquor licenses.” referred to the Committees on State Affairs and Judiciary. This one would increase the population limitations from 1500 to 3000…

SNOW VEHICLES:  One bill would prohibit the use of snow vehicles in hunting most animals…..

[Note: I would like to repeat that the comments in this highly private newsletter are not for quotation, due to the possibility of error and personal embarrassment. Thus far we have 10 subscriptions.]  Of interest is a resolution to increase the Senate to 21 members and the House to 41 members. Enough of these ties, I guess…

[2020 Editorial Interlude:  Seeking financial help to distribute the “Outsider” I send out a form with these possible responses:

-Life would not be the same without your publication….

-Words would not describe how I feel about your product.  Please save your money & mine & remove me from your list.  (I resent only slightly the fact that I have to spend $.06 to return this information to you.)

These twelve people had subscriptions.  Jim Fellers, Dick Gilbert, Gene Groves, Walter Hays, Ernest H. Jones (I wonder, though, what you will have to write about without V. Phillips, Blodgett, and Bronson), Gary Lueck, Fred McGinnis, James H. Thompson, John R. Tindell, Bill & Danita Trudeau (We’ll join your funny farm), Gene Walters (I’m sure I could live without it and life would be quite enjoyable but I should keep on top of what you are writing), one unclear, but he wrote “Not really – but I don’t want to miss your Agnewese”  David Fison sent a letter that he didn’t want to receive information that he was not free to use.

OUTSIDER #3    February 5, 1971

LESSON IN READING NEWSPAPERS:  It is interesting to note the headlines given a repcent “SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 8” introduced by Hammond and Palmer.

Juneau Southeast Alaska Empire: “Alaska-Canada Pipeline Route Study Is Sought”

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:  “Senators ask study of line through Canada”

Anchorage Daily Times: “Ask Pipeline Rerouting”

I will enclose a copy, so that you can compare the coverage. The resolution asks various departments to “provide a thorough compartive analysis of the long-range environmental and economic impact on Alaska of a pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope through Canada”.   (2020-If that had happened, the EXX0N VALDEZ oil spill would never have happened.  Just saying…)

Various individuals from the Kenai Peninsula are already writing Senator Palmer to indicate that he will no longer have their support, because “he introduced this bill”. The emotionalism of the reaction would tend to make a fellow feel he was absolutely right in opposing the pipeline terminus in Valdez, if that happened to be his position.

(I have some of the environmental statements considered by General Conference, if some of you want these.)

SEX BILL: You will be reading about Mike Rose (Representative from Anchorage) a great deal. He has long been a peace advocate and champion of laws which destroy civil liberties. The bill to repeal various criminal offenses will probably not pass. Many legislators agree with the intent of the bill, but would be afraid to support it publicly. The bill just states that certain sections of the statutes will be repealed.

PEACE: Mr. Rose has also introduced the bill which split the House last session: “No resident of the state inducted…may be required to serve outside the territorial limits of the United States in the conduct of armed hostilities not an emergency and not otherwise authorized in the powers granted to the President of the United States.”..Mr. Rose feels that this bill merely reaffirms the constitution. Some people feel that the bill is directed to the situation in Vietnam, which is admitting a great deal about that war, but the country is not even mentioned in the bill. The bill has six sponsors, which is five more than Mike could get on the repeal bill mentioned above.

SNOW MACHINES: I attended prt of the hearing on the bill to ban snow machines in hunting. Rightly so, the native villages are concernd about this. One man, near Kotzebue, testified that they kill less caribou now, as they do not feed 12-13 dogs now. Caribou will last one week, instead of one or two meals. Interesting testimony on the fact that most villages kill as many as are found or needed, rather than follow game laws.

It would be my guess that there will be some restrictions in more populated areas. Perhaps walk-in areas only will be created.

ALASKA HOMEMAKER-HOME HEALTH AIDE:  Hearing on this will be held…You may be aware of the special interest here. This program was started as a joint project of the Episcopal and United Methodist churches here in Juneau. Others have worked with it in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Federal funding ends October 1st and then the State will enter the picture (we hope). Several special problems have occupied our energies this year. I may be asking for some legislative support on this from other areas than the cities mentioned.

OUTSiDER #4  March 10, 1971


You may not believe this, but I have spent little time across the street recently.  We are working on a bill (or resolution) that would speak to the war issue in S.E. Asia.  HB 131 is not getting anywhere, as McVeigh put it in Jess Harris’s pocket. (House State Affairs) Those of you who identify with the hawks will be pleased with that action. Some who will not support the bill have indicated they would vote for a resolution which expresses opposition to our involvement in S.E. Asia.

I was interested in the resolution which passed both House and Senate regarding editorial practices of certain newspapers. Bill Ray (of Juneau) moved that a copy of the resolution be sent to the Anchorage Daily Times.

There seems to be much evidence massing that the pipeline might be better if it went somewhere other than Valdez. The result is going to be two-fold: (1) several unknown people are going to be hurt financially.  (2) Several programs of service to people will be cut-back drastically or completely. Several of the former are probably well-heeled. The latter will involve programs that many of us are working with right now. I guess we can’t have it both ways. The legislators are expressing regret, as they vote to eliminate programs financially in the Finance Committee. If you see some priority items, now would be the time to let your legislators know.

HOUSE BILL No. 224 is a good bill.  It will help in many areas of service to people on a matching basis. Do not know its chances of passing, but it deserves some support.

SEX BILL hearing was held recently. I testified for all United Methodists in the whole world (2020-attempt at satire) right after a representative from the PLAYBOY FOUNDATION. PLAYBOY is a magazine read by many young adults in our culture…My comments were not printed in the Anchorage Times. However, they were printed in Juneau…..The pastor-parish relations committee is having a special meeting this Sunday…to discuss final plans for the trip to Africa. There may be some move to make it permanent. I wonder if I will be safer in South Africa or the Holy Land? By the way, my testimony centered on the position of hypocrisy to have a bill on the books which no one attempts to enforce. I purchased a few comic books (horror, violence and sex) available at a store in Juneau to illustrate my point. The legislators were very grateful for these books being part of the record.

I had the opportunity at attend a DEMOCRATIC CLUB dinner, in honor of all the legislators recently. The show was put on by the staff of the legislators. It was basically a satire of the legislative process. A sleeper instead of speaker; thrill instead of bills,etc. At one point they sang a song to the tune of “The Lord’s Prayer”. Talkback info indicates that the governor appreciated the humor, but Mrs. Egan did not. The words follow: “Our Governor, who art in Juneau, Honesty be thy name. The pipeline come, progress be done In Anchorage, as it is in Los Angeles. Give us this day our six percent. And forgive us our severance tax as we forgive the oilmen; And lead us not into inflation, But deliver us from pollution; for OIL is the kingdom, and the power, And the future for Alaska, Oh-No.”  If you think that is far out, this was the prayer of the chaplain, to open the session:  “O Supreme being, may we join together in fellowship today, for we are annointed with oil on troubled waters. O heavenly grid, help us bear up thy Standard…our Chevron flahsing bright across the Gulf of compromise…standing Humble on the Rich Field of Mobil American thinking, here in this Shell may we find Union. Amen.”  I think the opinion of the staff comes through loud and clear.

OUTSIDER #5   April 29, 1971

…The division between the “develop at any price” people and the “conservationist” is still here.


Alaska Methodist University Funding Issue

Vietnam statement blocked.

Much infighting is taking place on the budget right now. The Senate version has had the careful scrutiny of C.R. Lewis and he was fairly angry yesterday when W. I. Palmer was appointed to the free conference committee, instead of himself. While many cuts have been made which will hurt program in our state, Senator Palmer is aware of ways to restore some of them in “free Conference” committee. It is good that we have at least one objective Senator, who just happens to have a daughter enrolled at Alaska Methodist University. It tends to make him more informed about certain issues.  


OUTSIDER #6     approximately 3:30 a.m.  May 11, 1971  Adjournment

What a revelation the last few days of this legislature was for me personally: partly from reading the newspaper, partly from observing and partly from personal contacts in the halls.

The legislative process is very frustrating to those who do not hold the reins of leadership. Six persons out of the 60 control major aspects of budgetary decisions in the free conference committee to the budget. Two persons can hold out for items important to them.

Wheeling and dealing become very important in the last days. These items became important legislation to various individuals:

-Flood control project money for Fairbanks.

-Alaska Methodist University and more

Joe Josephson and Lowell Thomas Jr. worked hard and long to help Alaska Methodist University. They only had two votes (their own) with them against first passage of CS HB 415 and only 7-8 votes on major amendments (needed 10). However, by agreeing to pass the $35 per day per diem (which was tacked on to the 5% state pay raise) two more votes were obtained to hold off financial cuts until an in-depth study of higher education issues are made by the current administration. That, my friends, is an example of wheeling and dealing. Lowell Thomas Jr. plans to donate his extra $1,000 to Alaska Methodist University, I am told, hence helping overcome his disappointment at agreeing to vote for the $35 per day per diem, which I assume he opposed. Some thought the 90 day limit might force the leadership to hold to 90 days. However, some leadership is already predicting 140 days for next year. You can understand the pain of those who obtained Alaska Methodist University votes at that cost.

There are other examples of “locked-in” voting on the Alaska Methodist University issue, but I do not want to put them in writing. Perhaps some one will be curious enough to ask or study the records.  (2020-not me, I can’t even remember the details now.)

A free conference addition was made to the liquor license bill which allows liquor licenses closer than one mile to the University of Alaska. That will probably upset Carrie Nation again. It is interesting to learn that our state University owns the Nevada Bar in Fairbanks, so we are already seeing ways to help the Regents on the cuts in their budget.

1.5 million will be in the budget to help build a new school in Nome. One of the first times for the state to do such in a first-class city. (50% two years later is current pattern) An interesting point is that the House Budget called for 2.5 million in the scholarship and loan fund for Alaskan students.. The Senate called for .5 million (I think). Not to make the Nome lobbyists feel badly (which they will not, I am sure), but you can get some idea of where the money for the schools in Nenana and Nome came from. Compromise on the scholarship and loan fund ended at 1.5 million.

You recall how mad several legislators were recently in signing a petition for the AFN bill, without reading the material first? One legislator let a bill pass recently which he had approved in free conference committee. Later he learned of a provision which he strongly opposed that had been added in a meeting he missed. He hollered, but he was too late – bill was on the way to the governor. He questioned the ethics of those who did not tel him what was in the bill. Wonder if he ever thinks about the fact that he did not even read the bill? Will not name the legislator, but he has written “letters to the editor” on the AFN issue.

If anyone feels that United Methodists think alike: consider the case of Representative Keith Specking of Hope and Mike Miller of Juneau. Mike is a progressive Democrat and supports most good social legislation. Keith shared recently that he thinks that HB 224 is bad Socialistic legislation. (You received material on HB 224 from Dick Gilbert) Then there is Bob Palmer, who is very responsible (from my Republican point of view) on financial matters, but his priorities are also in tune with the best in social legislative matters.  I will end the analysis at this point. (some one may quote me and I consider all of the above friends), but I find the comparison fascinating. Adds a great deal to pastoral relationships, at least during the session.  (2020 – while both Mike and Bob spent some time studying biblical texts, Keith Specking, based on my experience with him, did not spend much energy on biblical texts in a corporate setting.  He didn’t attend worship in his town of Hope when I was the summer pastor in 1961 and he didn’t attend when he was in Juneau.)  

Again, I would remind you of my desire not to be directly quoted on this material until you have done your own homework. This way I can put down figures as I remembr them and not as they might actually be. I can paraphrase comments I overhead without worrying about libel.

Speaking of libel. C.  R. Lewis attempted to hurt many programs by financial cuts. Most of these cuts were restored in free conference work. He was deeply hurt not to be appointed to the free conference committee, but President Jay Hammond stuck to his desires and appointed Bob Palmer instead. (C. R. was vice-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.) The Republican caucus can not shut C. R. completely out of power, so he is always close.  He was placed on the Legislative Council (operates on behalf of the Legislature between sessions), to compromise on his shut out of great power in this session.  (2020:  Somewhere along the line he zapped me.  W. I. “Bob” Palmer had named Father Mark Boesser (Episcopal) and myself as co-chaplains of the State Senate and when C. R. Lewis got that power, he quickly removed us.  Doing it often did help build some personal relationships.)

(2020:  The end.  Life took other directions.  Memory is weak right now.  If my memory gains strength, I may add more someday.)

Also 2020:  One of my favorite stories was the fact that two United Methodist women attacked me for my work on abortion.  One wrote to the bishop, asking that he make me shut up.  I quickly responded, with a carbon copy to the bishop, that “bishops determine where I speak, but not what I speak”.  I heard no more.  Over the years, I got orders from superintendents, but rarely from bishops.  I even obeyed some of them.

LISTS with Personal Interest Only



An example of generosity.  I observed their generosity to the church, Cunningham Home, the Baby Fold and to my brothers and myself.  When In Iowa, a minister had broken his glasses and felt the financial burden facing him.  My father slipped him the money needed for a new pair of glasses.  They were so generous to their Retirement Home that their names were on a board at the entrance.  Father had left word that his name was not to appear there; we (his 3 surviving sons) made sure that his wishes were not followed.


In 1954 Mother took me to Chicago for the Opening Ceremonies of the World Council of Churches which was held at Soldier’s Field.  It was impressive to see 100,000 people gathered, along with the pomp and circumstance of the event.  It was remarkable that she would do this for me.  It was a formative event in many ways.  I was 16, between my Junior and Senior years of high school.  My first time to go to Chicago and my first train ride.  We lived 120 miles south of Chicago.  The dates were August 15-31, 1954.  What was her motivation for this gift?


Mother’s Interest in Missions – Served as a leader in Local Church, District and Conference levels of United Methodist Women.  When she visited us in Alaska, I made sure that she got to see the mission work in Nome, Alaska, long before there was any thought of my actually serving there.


Father’s integrity.  I observed this times in areas of public service, mostly as a School Board member.


Father’s decision to provide special educational experiences in music and art by sending me to Rantoul Elementary School for the 7th and 8th grade.


My parent’s commitment to providing high education for all four of us.  Paul had learning disabilities.  Wayne was an outstanding graduate of the University of Illinois and had a good career in education.  Lee and college did not mesh well, so he took over the farming operation in due time.  They provided help for me (John) to attend Illinois Wesleyan University.  I washed dishes, got scholarship help and did some local church work, so the financial burden was lower than anticipated.


I was gifted with a 1957 Ford in 1957-1959 in order to serve a church during my Junior and Senior years at Illinois Wesleyan University.  My brothers noticed.  I should have kept it.


Due to Father’s hostility to dancing and Interfaith relationship, my social life was limited.  I did insist of going to both the Junior and Senior proms, but father would not promise me that a car would be available.  So I got a neighbor to agree to loan me a car if Father’s car was not available.  Father relented at the last minute.  I don’t think he was aware of my alternate arrangements.


“A Spiritual Biography” by William Barclay

Book of Jonah in the Hebrew Scriptures   radical biblical view of God’s Grace

“The Legacy of the Liberal Spirit” by Fred Gladstone Bratton  (1968 book)  Covers Origen, Erasmus, Voltaire, Paine, Parker, Darwin and Dewey

“The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates 2019

“Wager with the Wind: The Don Sheldon Story” by James Greiner

“If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person” by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland

“The Child’s Approach to Religion” by H. W. Fox  (1945) A British book shares a philosophy of Christian Education.  (“Early in my ministry I read this book that suggested that we should never teach things in Sunday School to children that they will have to unlearn as adults.)

“It’s a Different World” by Lyle E. Schaller  (1980’s)  read at Hope Retreat Center

“In His Step’s” by Charles M. Sheldon  (1896 sermons)   1898    (121 years old novel)

“The Christian Agnostic” by Leslie Weatherhead  (1980’s)  shared 90 copies with EAUMC

“The Will of God” by Leslie Weatherhead (1960’s)     kept me in the ministry

top 50 all time favorite books    “best liked, most influential, greatest impact”

*Means they were in my library

*Beck, Harrell:  Sermons (both written and verbal)  (preaching)

*Bess, Howard:  “Pastor, I Am Gay”  (pastoral care)

*The Holy Bible:   The Book of Jonah  (theological)

*Branch, Taylor:  “Parting the waters, America in the King Years 1954-1963 (history)

*Bratton, Fred Gladstone:  “The Legacy of the Liberal Spirit”   (theology)

*Campolo, Tony  “20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch” and others (social action)

*Capon, Robert Farrar:  “Between None and Three” and others (theology)

 Chang, Jung:  “Wild Swans”  (autobiography-China-three generations)

*Cox, Harvey:  “Many Mansions” and others (theology)

*DeWolf, L. Harold:  “A Theology fo the Living Church”  (theology)

*Dostoyevsky, Fyodor:  “The Brothers Karamazov”  (fiction)

*Fosdick, Harry Emerson:  “For the Living of These Days” and others (biography)

*Gibran, Kahlil:  “The Prophet” and others (poetry)

*Girzone, Joseph F.: “Joshua” and others (novel)

*Goodman, Jeffrey:  “American Genesis”  (anthropology)

*Glasser, William:  “Reality Therapy”  (psychology)

*Gruening, Ernest:  “Many Battles” (Alaska history/autobiography)

*Harden, Blaine:  “Africa, Dispatches from a Fragile Continent  (commentary)

*Hordern, William:  “Laymen’s Guide to Theology” and others (theology)

*Humphry, Derek:  “Final Exit”  (social issue)

*Kallas, James:  “A Layman’s Introduction to Christian Thought” and others (theology)

*Kazantzakis, Nikos:  “The Last Temptation of Christ” and others (novel)

*Kushner, Harold S.: “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”  (pastoral care)

 McCullough, Colleen:  “The Thorn Birds” and others (fiction)

*McElvaine, Robert:  “Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America”

*McFarland, John Robert:  “Now That I Have Cancer I Am Whole” and others (pastoral care)

*(United) Methodist Church Book of Discipline” (church administration)

 Michener, James:  “The Covenant” and “The Source” and “Alaska” and others (novels)

*Mohammed:  “The Koran”  (theological)

*Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey:  “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?”  (social issue)

*Niebuhr, Reinhold:  “Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic”  (autobiography/theological)

*Norris, Kathleen:  “Dakota” and others (biography/spirituality)

*O’Connor, Elizabeth:  “Call to Commitment” and others  (church administration)

*Paton, Alan:  “Too Late the Phalarope” and “Cry, the Beloved Country” (fiction)

*Robinson, James M. (Editor): “The Nag Hammadi Library” (theological)

 Salinger, J.D.: “Catcher in the Rye”  (novel)

*Schaller, Lyle E.: “It’s A Different World”  (Church Administration)

*Senungetuk, J.E.: “Give or Take a Century”  (Alaska history/autobiography

*Shaw, Anna Howard:  “The Story of a Pioneer”  (autobiography)

*Sheldon, Charles M.:  “In His Steps”  (novel)

*Smith, Charles M.:  “How to Become a Bishop Without Being Religious” and others (humor)

*Trevor, John C.:  “The Dead Sea Scrolls” and others (autobiography)

 Tuckman, Barbara:  “General Stilwell and the American Experience”  (history)

*Wallis, Velma:  “Two Old Women” and others (novel based on myth)

 The Great Chinese Novel “Water Margin”  (very old novel)

 The Great Chinese Novel “Water Margin”  (very old novel)

*Watson, David Lowes:  “God Does Not Foreclose”  (theology)

*Weatherhead, Leslie:  “The Christian Agnostic” and “The Will of God” and others (theology)

*Welch, Robert:  “The Politician”  (social action)

*Wells, Charles A.:  Journey Into Light”  (theology)

*Zinn, Howard:  “A People’s History of the United States (history)

Book that may have had some influence on me

“Die or Die Brother Hyde” The Autobiography of a Pioneer Preacher as told to Harriet Harmon Dexter, Copyright 1954.   Served in South Dakota, Ohio and Illinois.    A church builder and fundraiser par excellence


Bear Hunt on the Alaska Peninsula and Cook Inlet                                                        Wayne Hull took me on a bear hunt in the 1960’s that I will never, never forget.  We didn’t see a bear, but I did bring home a clean skull that appeared to belong to a bear who died of old age.  We ate lunch above a beaver dam where beavers were very active.  Awesome sight.

Christmas Program at Tustumena in the Clam Gulch Quonset Hut                                The children and youth were acting out for some reason at rehearsal, but for the closing tableau, for some reason, they were all angelic and it was one of my best memories in ministry.  

Flight with Legendary Bush Pilot Don Sheldon                                                                        This is described in detail elsewhere, but when a strut pin came out, his new plane was in danger, so the three passengers “saved” his airplane when one of us stood on the back of the ski as we landed in Talkeetna.  He was so grateful that he only charged us half-price.  Later I wondered why it wasn’t full-price? 

Youth Group Retreat at the Hope Retreat Center in 1964                                               We had been scheduled to take a bus load of youth to Denali National Park, but the earthquake knocked out some bridges, so the bus took us to the Hope Retreat Center, where we stained the logs in one hour and I didn’t have anything else planned.  We survived, but I learned that some of the youth did not accept supervisor or guidance very well. 

Hiking in Juneau, Alaska, with Janet Kussart                                                                           One of the traditions in Juneau was:  “When the sun shines, take the day off and go hiking.” My primary hiking partner was Janet Kussart.  When she had her baby (Kierke), she didn’t realize she was pregnant, but she had severe medical problems.  She thought she might be allergic to new carpet in their home, so she stayed with us several days.  I took care of her for several days.

 Moon Rocks in Nome, Alaska                                                                                                            Each state was given an attaché case with a sample of a moon rock inside.   It was to be used at schools and other places.   For several months, because of Barbara’s position as Special Assistant to the Governor of the State of Alaska (Jay Hammond), that moon rock was stored in the closet of our bedroom in Nome, Alaska.

It was tempting to keep it, but Barbara was too honest to do so.  I wonder where it is now?   Hopefully in the State Museum in Juneau, but who knows how honest others were?

57 Pound King Salmon Caught at Sitka, Alaska                                                                            A friend in Sitka was very generous in taking church visitors on a fishing trip.  I went along when I could do so.  As we started fishing for halibut (heavy line), I hooked into a King Salmon.  Because of the heavy line, I was able to bring it to the boat in twenty minutes.

I decided to brag about it, but friends suggested I stop.  One of the matrons of the church had been fishing heavily for many years and had not caught a fish this big.  I go out once and get the biggest fish of the year.  So I stopped preaching about 57 Disciples and 57 Commandments. And she didn’t leave the church for another denomination.

MEALS TO REMEMBER:  FAVORITE EATING EXPERIENCES OR PLACES              Meals to Remember          2007      (Top Ten and more)  re-read 2020

Top Ten:

Boston Meal with Mrs. Harrell Beck in 1989

Ninilchik Razor Clams 1962-1965

Riverview House and Hotel in Soldotna:  large seafood plate  (Toastmaster’s) 1962-65

Soweto Home in 1971

7 course Farewell Meal in China in 1975

Willow Inn on Lumni Island  19 course dinner  (July 4, 2008)

Greek in Vancouver with Harrell Beck & Wayne Schaub in 1980’s

Sitka Halibut with Mike Hirai in 1990’s

Oak Harbor Jumbo Buffet with 7 types of shrimp  2000’s

Lake Louise Breakfast  (2000’s)

updated after experience on Island near Bellingham

 1.  Ninilchik razor clams  Clam Feed  1962-1965  Both of us                                                     

2.   Soweto Home – at least three ethnic foods (Black, S. African, Indian) 1971               Both of us with mixed race family.                                                                                                                

3.  Boston meal with Mrs. Harrell Beck (Leila) (Egyptian  1989)   Both of us

4.  China –  7 course farewell meal in 1975  (Chinese)   John only though Barbara had a similar experience in 1979.   Also Chinese collective farm.

  1. Morocco meal in Spokane eatery 1995-2000   Both of us with the Shipley’s
  2. Dutch meal with Hartman in Seattle Both of us  
  3. Sitka Halibut by Mike Hirai 1988-1995     Both of us   (he no longer makes it that way)
  4. Oak Harbor Jumbo Buffet at night – 7 types of shrimp 2006  Both of us 
  5. London cheese board meal (strange) in 2001 Enroute to a play.   Both of us.  Repeat only if with a crowd of people. 
  6. Nome country breakfast with Darrell Hargraves 1974    Both of us. 
  7. Gambell seagull soup in 1974 era (would not work to repeat)   John only
  8. Vancouver Ethnic Chinese – Park Lock was the first (now closed) (food is also available in Seattle)   
  9. Greek in Vancouver with Wayne Schaub and Harrell Beck (not to be repeated)  1980’s     John only  
  10. The post Christmas Experience in Idaho at the resort. $60 food tab  (Both of Us)
  11. High Tea experiences in Victoria: The Empress Hotel and White Ginger/Heather on Oak St.  (Both of us)  
  12. Space Needle on 40th Wedding Anniversary 2002 (Both of us)  
  13. Lake Louise Breakfast (3 different types of fare – Both of us had all of them and didn’t need to eat for awhile.)
  14. Girdwood Cajun Food Double Musky Inn    both of us  
  15. Channel Club: Gourmet Food at Sitka – 35 salads & Lobster both of us
  16. lst APU Reception in Seattle – both of us
  17. Nairobi beef meal (tasty) – both of us   1986?
  18. Our first split meal at Wasilla Resort on Lake Lucille steak   both of us  1960’s
  19. Lee’s gift of Mining Camp Restaurant in Apache Junction both of us went again on our own.  However, it burned on July 25, 2009, and is out of business.
  20. Texas Sunday buffet with strawberries  – John only
  21. Girdwood Bake Shop   both of us
  22. Bloomington buffet place   John
  23. Coupeville Bakery  Knead & Feed   both of us
  24. $100 plus meal in Hawaii  Royal Hawaiian   both of us (courtesy of the staff)  

Filed under John (Meals to Remember)  2010 Brain Drain – meals running through my head, but not the best, just remembering

Lake Lucille in Wasilla – lst time to split an expensive meal (steak & shrimp) and they did it in the kitchen, which happens fairly often now.

Valdez Highway – John sick on shrimp  (still like shrimp)

Maine Lobsters at 2 a.m. in Anchorage Condo, compliment of Barbara D’Onofrio.  Nova Scotia Lobsters and Prince Edward Island Lobsters in 2019.

Hilo Meal for 4 with 3-4 shrimp dishes for $20.   With Melvin and Marian Dadd. Leung’s Chop Suey House.  We could have eaten every meal there.  Last time the food was a bit more expensive, but still just as good.  Several generations have operated it.

London – cheese board in theatre district  (more than several people could have eaten)

Greek in Vancouver with Wayne Schaub and Harrell Beck

Buffet in South Bloomington, Illinois

Buffet in Danville, Illinois when I was Youth Minister there

Buffet in Oak Harbor (evening meal with shrimp)

Buffet in Anchorage – race with Black Church

Soldotna: Riverview: (Big Crab Legs) Fried Seafood Dinner at Riverside  Surf & Turf?

Africa Soweto (family of many cultures invited us to their home)

Nairobi – seasoned beef (and getting badly scammed)

Silungai – “the” chicken given to us when our vehicle (a matatu) broke down.

Costa Rica – 6 star hotel (2010)

Nome – Chinese one block from parsonage

Hope Place when I discovered it – Tito’s

Douglas – Mike’s Place

Juneau pie at Mendenhall Glacier in the early days.  (no longer available, but I still miss it.)

Girdwood Bake Shop – all you can eat soup & cinnamon rolls

Blackened salmon on the side road at Girdwood at the Double Musky Inn

Food trucks in Hana, Maui, Hawaii, in 2012 on my 75th birthday.


What if I had not accepted Dr. Richard Leonard’s offer to be his Assistant at Wapella?  And what if I had not accepted the appointment to St. James UMC in Danville and instead have focused more on scholarship in college and seminary, plus learned more about the culture of Chicago?  For one thing, I would have eaten less of my mother’s cinnamon rolls that she often made for me to take back to seminary on Mondays.  Would I have gotten more comfortable with life in a big city?

What if I had returned to Illinois after three years in Alaska?  Barbara would have become an ordained elder and had even more impact on The United Methodist Church…maybe.

What if I had stuck to my convictions (in Juneau) and established a congregation in the downtown core?   Northern Light United Church would not have been created and done some of the remarkable things it has achieved.

What if I had had the nerve to keep the Moon Rock that was in our closet for a long period of time?  Would anyone have missed it?  And what would I do with it now?

What if I had not been selected to be the Minister of the Month at Hana, Maui, Hawaii, in March of 1981, where I learned to preach more honestly?



In 1957 I was part of a “Students In Industry Seminar” in Detroit, Michigan. We lived in Temple Boulevard Methodist Church, a dying urban congregation.  It had a bowling alley, a massive sanctuary and a large senior community facility.  Attendance was down to 20 persons.  The congregation hired a custodian who had the task of keeping neighborhood children (black) out of the facility.  Many churches deserve to die.  And this one did.

We were supposed to get jobs at the Ford Motor Company, but it was a summer of recession and there were no jobs.  I worked one week for Vernors Ginger Ale company. Eventually strings were pulled so that we could have a brief experience of working for Ford.  I got to attend a union meeting, but was kicked out when they realized that we were not permanent employees.  I was there long enough to observe goons making sure no dissent was expressed.

At the factory, I got to work one day on an assembly line, putting paper cups in engine blocks to protect them during a painting process. When I came back “home”, I lay down for a rest and slept through dinner.  Then I was put in an area where radiators were made.  With my partner, I attempted to make production quota.  A large black man in protective apron (he worked in the area where parts were dipped in acid) came to me twice to inform me that new employees do not make production quotas.  Either on my own or with the help of my partner, I soon became aware that my life was being threatened.  As the Shaffer boys used to say:  “My mother didn’t raise any dummies.” While I would disagree with that statement in regard to myself, I did slow down and I survived.  My work partner showed me how I could trick the counter, so was able to make production for one hour and then I quit early to satisfy those who were watching the final results.  The important thing, perhaps, is that I did survive and I didn’t make production goals.

During breaks, I was befriended by a black Pentecostal lay pastor who invited me to his church and his home for dinner of Southern Fried Chicken.  He asked me to bring three friends.  One of those friends was Ed King of Mississippi.  At the time, he commented that it was the first time for him to be exposed to blacks who were clearly middle class with a well kept lawn and home.  It upset his world a bit and he returned to Mississippi with a commitment to make a difference there.  He realized that his culture had lied to him about racial issues and he became an advocate for racial justice.  We both heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak at Central Methodist Church while we were in Detroit.  A highlight for me and another life changing experience for Ed King.

He embarked on a journey that brought him into conflict with his family, his church and his community. When it came time for ordination as a Methodist clergyperson, he was rejected by his Annual Conference of a close vote.  Here is a quote from CHRISTIAN CENTURY magazine, dated November 27, 1963:  “The man who has directed the attack on racial segregation in the churches is the Rev. Edwin King, 27, a native white Mississippian who is dean of students and chaplain at Tougaloo College. At the latest Mississippi annual conference, he was ordained, yet by a vote of 89-85 he was refused admission to the conference, which means that he cannot be appointed to serve any of its churches or have access to its benefits. Dr. Leggett describes King as an “irresponsible troublemaker with mental problems”; another person, however, describes him as “Mississippi’s Pastor Niemoller.”

I have been told that Ed was in jail on the day of the vote.  No one was present to remind the voters that both Jesus and Paul spent some time in jail.  Wonder what Dr. Leggett would have said about Paul (or Jesus) in biblical days.  We will never know.

Many white Mississippi pastors who were ready to challenge cultural norms found refuge elsewhere.  In other words, they left Mississippi or left the ministry.  Ed King stayed.

His ordination was recognized by the black Methodists of Mississippi and when merger occurred in 1968, he became an United Methodist without further vote.

He became involved in politics, worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and participated in the Freedom March in 1963. and was part of an integrated delegation that shook up the 1964 Democratic convention.  

Eventually he taught sociology and ethics at a school in Jackson, Mississippi and became part of the church that had ushers block the door to prevent a black bishop and a white bishop from entering the church for worship.  When he started attending, he was shunned.  No one spoke to him for years.

When I reconnected with Ed King in 1995, his church had finally received a pastor who stopped shunning him. Ed knew that reconciliation was coming when the new pastor asked him to assist in a communion service. Then a new pastor came who was ready to make a difference.  When it came time for communion, he invited Ed King to come forward and co-officiate with him.  Some of the walls were knocked down.  In 2003, he shared that he had been asked to preach in his church and regularly presided at a communion service by himself.  

The New Yorker magazine, May 29, 1955, had this to say about Ed King: “King’s bitterest critics would not deny that he was an authentic hero of the civil-rights struggle. At a time when few white Mississippians would have publicly supported even the theoretical right of black people to demonstrate, he was active in the sit-in movement. He was the only white candidate on the slate of a statewide mock election carried on in November of 1963 – an election that turned out to be the precursor of the Mississippi Summer Project. In those days, I was always curious about what might cause a white person in a place like Mississippi to abandon the views on race he had grown up with and openly join the movement that his family and friends and neighbors so despised. King tends to credit his apostasy to the Methodists – an indication that the subversion hunters of the Citizens Council might have been, in their own special way, on the right track. Growing up in a conventionally segregationist family in Vicksburg, King went to Millsaps, a liberal-arts college in Jackson connected to the Methodist Church. The very fact that the Methodists had healed their Civil War split, unlike, say, the American Baptists and the Southern Baptists – meant that, even in Mississippi, Methodists were exposed to a national church point of view on race. King, who was heading toward divinity school, says he found that view persuasive. On the other hand, among the Paul Johnson papers at U.S.M. I came across the report of a surprise visit to King’s mother made by the State Sovereignty Commission director, who concluded from the conversation that one of two Millsaps sociology professors named in the report must have been the prime influence in transforming Ed King into a race mixer.

“In ‘Local People’, a study of the civil-rights struggle in Mississippi…John Dittmer wrote that King became ‘the most visible white activist in the Mississippi movement, and he paid a heavy price for honoring his convictions. King was ostracized by his family, scorned by his colleagues in the clergy, and later shunned by the ‘New South’ white moderates who entered the political arena only after it was safe to do so,’…King now works for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, in Jackson, teaching sociology to people who are studying to be physical therapists and medical technicians. Those who feel kindly toward him tend to say, even if they are about to say that he is insane or is living in the past, that he is one of the many people who might have been damaged in the movement…”

(end of quote)

Ed King survived the days of ‘Mississippi Burning’, though he was marked for assassination. Recently he visited a memorial marker in Montgomery, Alabama, and noted three names of individuals he spent time with just one week before they were killed. At some point, he was involved in a car wreck that impacted his face. Ed had some questions about whether or not it was an attempt to kill him. He survived and continues to be honored in the history of equal rights for all in Mississippi.  

He spoke in my Stanwood United Methodist Church on August 17, 2003, close to the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic speech “I Have A Dream”.  The Stanwood-Camano News headlined my promotional article with the words:  “Civil Rights Movement Luminary in Town for service, public forum.”  He came because a daughter lived nearby on Camano Island.  We were blessed by his presence.