Event: July 16, 1965; Updated: 18 June 2011
On July 16 Howard called me at my office at General Atomic. He was enraged and abusive in a way I'd never before experienced. No one had ever spoken to me like this! It caught me by surprise and took my breath away. He had totally misunderstood my intent in sending a recent letter to the Brethren asking to be present at his impending re baptism. [To clarify, three years earlier Howard had been excommunicated for "perversion" from the Church by one of his best friends, Hugh B. Brown, a member of the First Presidency, a political-spiritual crisis for both men. I knew none of this at the time. In good faith I had believed Howard's manipulative lie to me that he had applied for re-baptism, which he obviously felt I needed in order to feel secure in a relationship with him.]
Yes, it was naive and stupid to have done such a thing and I felt foolish and guilty in his confrontation. Yet his vitriol far exceeded anything remotely appropriate. As this abuse continued, I felt that he was possessed and that he might take himself out. All I could think to do was to fast and pray.
Once the call had ended (I don't know whether it was he or I who hung up), I called as many of my closest and trusted family and friends as were available to join me in process. "I'm in crisis and need your help", I said, "will you join me in fasting and prayer for strength and wisdom? I can't disclose details, but will call you when the crisis is over."
I had never before made such an appeal, but not one friend or family member of the more than 30 called refused or pressed me for details. As I finished the last call a wonderful thing began to happen. Peace and confidence began flowing into me and I felt empowered to confront this thing that had taken over my friend's mind. I resolved to drive to Russian River, where he lived hundreds of miles north, and cast out the devil.