I was born in 1935 in Spokane, Washington, also grew up mostly in Spokane, but attended 1st grade in a one-room schoolhouse in Homedale, Idaho, while living with my mother’s parents. It was three grades in one room, so I like to say I started school in the third grade at age five. In 1948 my grandparents moved to Madras, Oregon, where I spent many of my summers on their farm. High school was in Richland, WA, for three years, then off to Washington State in Pullman, where I graduated in 1958. While there I first became a Unitarian and attended that church when they purchased a new building in Pullman; but for me the most important influence on my life was becoming a member of the college-age discussion group called Channing Club. It was named for the prominent Unitarian Minister, William Ellory Channing. In the summer of 1957 I attended the Encampment for Citizenship, in New York City. It was sponsored by The Ethical Culture Society and that experience was also formative to my being who I am. While there I met several important people – Eleanor Roosevelt and J. Robert Oppenheimer, whose home I visited and we conversed personally for over half an hour. He treated me and my conversation with utmost respect, and that experience helped me endure many a conversation where I was pilloried for being stupid.
Upon graduating from Washington State University I entered the US Air Force and became a pilot. It was a perfect fit for my abilities at that time, and I did superbly well in that occupation, but strangely I ended up exactly at the place in the world I most detested — being responsible for exploding H-bombs on cities. I wrote several letters to my superior officers at that time, explaining that I was perfectly willing to carry out my military duties protecting our country, but that using these weapons would not only destroy our enemies but our own country as well. That was obviously counter-productive to our intended mission. There was no possible reconciliation between our positions as to how to create and maintain world peace, so I was discharged as having incompatible views to that of the USAF. Over the years I continued exploring those issues and studying conflicts which resulted in my publishing a book – Tao and War.
A few months after departing the Air Force I moved to Berkeley and attended the Unitarian church there Rev. Raymond Cope (a sample of his lecture power) suggested I attend the Star King school for the ministry. I did apply, but over the several intervening months, before the next classes would begin, I went to study photography at San Francisco State College, and found that very much to my liking. My primary motivation at that time was to do something unquestionably peaceful, and photography suited that urge just fine. After a couple of years I graduated with an MFA in Art with a specialty in photography, and taught some at San Francisco City College. Immediately on arriving at Berkeley I also became involved once again with the Channing Club, which met in the Unitarian church on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus, at Bancroft and Dana. The members were mostly grad students and young professionals at that time. Over the years that small group of people did many strange and wonderful things. Although I no longer live in Berkeley, I still consider those people as my social core upon which my later life has developed around.
While our Channing Club was meeting at the Unitarian Church it was claimed by the the State of California as University property, by right of eminent domain, and after a struggle was purchased by them, and we were evicted. There was sufficient time given to build a new church. There was a stupendous site at the top of the Berkeley Hills several miles north of campus and a wonderful church was built there. Channing Club had a special room and we met there several times, BUT it was too far away for some students who didn’t have cars. So, we started gathering at a member’s house to car pool for the drive up to the church, but if someone was late they got left behind. After a few weeks we gave up the drive and just met at the gathering place. Here it is half a century later and that core group is still meeting at people’s homes on Sunday nights. Many of these same Channing Club people, myself included, started meeting at a South Campus coffee shop, the Mediterraneum, and that tradition is still alive even though these people are now geriatric and dying off.
Moving to new church is a great blessing but I am reminded of:
A great disaster is also a great opportunity,
A great opportunity is also a great disaster.
My life goal is to help humanity have a long existence and maximize human contentment.