Monday, October 11, 1976

Memo to Richard Forbath

Original Event: October 1976
Updated: 3 August 2011

The late Richard T. Forbath was a prominent marketing executive in Los Angeles, a devout Catholic and the leader of the Bel Air Presbyterian Bible study group which I had been attending regularly for about a year, not long after having returned to the Mormon Church the previous year (July 25, 1975). Early in 1976 I was invited to develop a university level course for the University of California at Los Angeles Extension Division in its Center for Religious Experience East and West by its director Dr. Robert Rees, a close friend, who was also managing editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. The UCLA course was called Creative Dreaming and Spiritual Awakening, which Forbath knew about.

Forbath had expressed strong interest in developing a professional relationship with me during the Bible study experience, which included believers from a spectrum of Christian faiths and denominations, including one Jewish woman. But, he could not understand my having returned to the Mormon Church (which many Christians do not consider is really Christian). In order to deal with his concern he invited me to breakfast at his home and to meet his wife. I brought my then 17-year-old son Jim with me (mentioned in the memo as living on "Aliso Street" in Newport Beach, whereas Forbath lived on "Crystal Street" in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood, which is near UCLA). Because of the intensity of Forbath's concern, I decided to meet him with a comprehensive response. Below is that four page memo.

After reading my memo, Forbath never spoke to me again. Obviously it gave him a reality check on his projection of me. I was not the man for his purposes that he thought I was.

At the beginning of the memo there is reference to "the FIVE QUESTIONS and also the Four Metaphors". This was the essence of the take-home final examination for the modestly successful UCLA dream course, which I used as a tool for self-disclosure in the memo. The term "IDT-ABC" refers to "Integrated Dream Team Analog Bio-computer", an experimental byproduct of the course and a concept that I wanted Forbath to understand and utilize. A decade later it morphed into "The CREEI Process" and more recently "Creative Deep Listening" or CDL.**

Among the few people I have shown the Forbath memo to are: 1) a local Orthodox priest, who was initially frightened by it until we discussed it; 2) a retired nuclear physicist with Jewish/Christian background; 3) a Jewish attorney/therapist; 4) a Jewish rabbi, and 5) a Buddhist-oriented psychotherapist, who enjoyed taking the final exam himself and giving useful feedback. Fortunately, I now have deep, personal and working relationships with all of these men.

From today's perspective (August 2011), this memo is personally embarrassing because of its grandiosity. Nevertheless, in sharing it with others and getting their honest feedback, it never fails to give me (and them!) a reality check, as well as an opportunity for me (and them!) to revisit and reinterpret personal spiritual experiences. It still contains ideas, references and insights that are at the center of my sense of purpose and service. Referring to Ken Wilber's famous motto, it is a continuing call to "include and transcend".

Dear Readers, before you read the memo below, consider applying this final examination to yourself. Then take it again afterwards. Notice any differences in your thoughts and feelings before reading the memo and after. It won't be easy!

**Take-home Final Examination questions for "Creative Dreaming and Spiritual Awakening":

Who do you think you are?
Who do you feel you are?
Who did God make you to be?
How does God see you now?
How does the world see you now?
(These questions were to be answered based on student's personal experience with and examination of their dreams.)

Part Two: The Four Metaphors
Express your life in terms of two of the following metaphors:
    1. What metal do you identify with now?
    2. How do you see yourself being used?
    3. Is your metal appropriate for your task?
    4. What metal would you choose if you could begin again?
    5. What shape and/or use?

[Click on the letter pages to enlarge.]

Monday, September 13, 1976

Meeting Birgitta

Event: September 1976 in Pasadena, California
Updated: May 26, 2012

Sister Ginny, barefoot Birgitta, brother-in-law Warren & dog Heidi (circa 1976)

Birgitta in 1982 
I met Birgitta Lilly Stavenow in September 1976 at a concert in Pasadena where she was performing on the night before returning to Sweden. A mutual friend had wanted us to meet and when I arrived late to the Lake Avenue Congregational Church and entered the door as quietly as I could while she was performing, her glorious voice had filled the auditorium. I felt I had heard her soul. 

Birgitta, a professional singer in Sweden, had been on a 6-months tour to California, which was the place she, her parents and four siblings had emigrated to in 1950, when she was 15. She left California in her early 20s to return to her homeland and later graduated from the State Opera School.

We began a correspondence that last night of her tour, which continued over a period of 17 years even though there was a hiatus of 12 years in between. Neither of us had ever been so met in writing to another.

The next year (1977) I had a first dream of her and felt that she would one day be important in my life. We were married in Malibu, California, in October 1993.

Thursday, September 9, 1976

UCLA course: Creative Dreaming and Spiritual Awakening

Event: 1976. Spring and Fall academic quarters
Updated: 22August, 2013

Los Angeles Times article for UCLA dream class

In January 1976, I awoke from a dream where a clear male voice issued a command:
 "It is time to wake up and begin a grace-filled ministry!
 At the time I had just been hired by "Brother" Taylor, a fiery black Pentecostal minister in South-Central Los Alamos (Watts) to sing spirituals on Sunday mornings for his weekly radio broadcast.  Brother thought the dream was meant for him and his Greater Grace Memorial Church of God in Christ. It was a thrilling, uplifting, soul-expanding several month experience.

Wednesday, January 7, 1976

Dream: It is time to wake up!

Dream: A clear strong male voice commands: "It is time to wake up and begin a grace filled ministry!"

At the time I was a member of the ministerial staff of Brother Taylor's Greater Grace Memorial Church of God in Christ in south central Los Angles (Watts). "Brother" had "hired" me to sing Negro Spirituals on his regular Sunday morning radio broadcast.

Creative Dreaming and Spiritual Awakening

Event: January 1976
Updated: September 13, 2012

In January 1976 I awoke from a dream where a clear male voice commanded "It is time to wake up and begin a grace-filled ministry!" I did not know what to make of it at first. The first person I shared it with was my new friend, Pastor "Brother" Taylor, pastor of the Greater Grace Memorial Church of God In Christ, located on Crenshaw Street in South-Central Los Angeles (Watts District). "Brother" had hired me to sing Negro Spirituals every Sunday for his weekly radio broadcast. He thought my dream was meant for him and his church. To that I agreed, but thought it went deeper than that.

It so happened that one of my friends was the director of UCLA Extension Division and wanted me to teach an adult education course of my own invention for the university's Center For Religious Experience East and West. I suggested the subject of dreams and he asked for a prospectus for the course.

Having recently joined the Bel Air Presbyterian Church (in addition to recently rejoining the Mormon Church and accepting Brother Taylor's offer to sing in his), I approached Bel Air's administration to help me design an acceptable course.  They agreed and introduced me to several church members who were professional psychologists and sociologists. We experimented with several small groups until I achieved enough confidence to present something to UCLA.

The course lasted for two academic quarters: Spring and Fall.

Below is a letter from the administrator who made the course possible:

(click on image to enlarge)
Letter from Dr. Robert Rees, Director of UCLA's Department of Humanities and Communications.