Chapter 35, Two Brothers in Haight from Memoirs of a Jesus Freak

Sometime in 1968, I began to keep a journal. I admit this was

after the news media discovered the Jesus Movement, and it

occurred to me that it might be important to chronicle things as

I saw them.

So I began to write it all down with a pencil and a cheap spiral

notebook. I went back mentally to the night I was driving home in the

rain from my job as a shoe salesman at J.C. Penny in Corte Madera.

The Scott McKenzie song about coming to San Francisco and wearing

a flower in your hair was playing on the radio. There it was, like the

time it seemed God directly and personally called me into the ministry,

that I heard, “Go to the hippies in San Francisco.” Okay, I said to

myself, and the very next night I headed in as instructed.

That night I met David Hoyt and my whole world changed. I had

thought I would be a pastor of a normal kind of church and do the

things that I had seen my pastor, Bob Lewis, do. I had no further ambition.

I never thought I would write a book or be a great preacher or

get involved in the wild and crazy things I did. I paid a high price, and

my family, eventually families, also paid a high price. If I had known

then what would transpire, I might have become a Jonah and tried to

run away from the commission God gave me.

My idea was to write down my experiences as they happened and

not wait a week or so when I might have more time. As best I could,

this was the program I followed. I shared with David what I was doing,

and there were times when we collaborated and jointly tried to recall

1 Turns out I did write a book or two and, yes, I have done some wild and

crazy things, but I never did become a great preacher, although I do my best every

Sunday morning.

the events of the days that we spent together walking the streets of

the Haight Ashbury.

I hoped that, at some point, the notes might be turned into a book.

I knew I was not much of a writer, but I had an interesting story, so

I started sending out letters to publishers about what I was writing

about. Much to my surprise I got a letter from Zondervan Publishing

House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and it was, as far as I knew then, the

largest and most prestigious Christian publishing house in America.

A vice-president named Bob DeVries sent the letter. I sent a follow-

up letter to him asking what he wanted me to do, and his reply

was a request for the manuscript, which I immediately sent. Then I

waited. Within a few weeks, he flew out to the Bay Area to meet David

and me for lunch at the St. Francis Hotel by Union Square. Having

grown up in what sociologists of that era described as lower middle

class, I had never before eaten in, let alone seen, such a fancy restaurant.

Shocking to us was Mr. DeVries’ eagerness

for us to sign a contract, which we

were also eager to do. Bob DeVries was a

most pleasant and gracious man, probably

the most important person I had ever met.

He remained so throughout the adventure

with the story of the hippies.

We had entitled the book, Two Brothers

in Haight. Zondervan kept the title

but said the book had to be rewritten, so

they hired a professional, Norman Rohr,

who made a living ghost writing as well

as teaching writing. When he showed up

a couple of weeks later we talked about

the book and our story, so he could begin

reworking what we had done. After I read

his version, however, I called Bob and said

something like, “I don’t think so.”

Not giving up on us, they hired Ed Plowman to do the next rewrite.

I knew Ed, because he was a founding member of Evangelical Concerns

and pastor of the Presidio Baptist Church in San Francisco.

Things went much better with Ed’s version, and the book was placed

in line for printing.

The whole process dragged on considerably, and by the time I

received the galley proofs, David had long since moved from Walnut

Creek to Atlanta. I sent the galleys back and waited for the printed


Halt !

But then it happened; David was swept up into the Children of

God. I was presented with a dilemma at that point. If the book came

out, I suspected the COG would make use of it in a way I couldn’t tolerate.

By that time I knew way too much about The Family and was

convinced the book should not be published.

I called Mr. DeVries and told him what had happened. I unloaded

my worries and, after calming down, said, “We cannot publish the

book.” He instantly agreed. The irony is that the printing job was

nearly complete, and the book would have been in the mail in less

than two weeks.

That book, two versions of it plus my own original manuscript,

sits amongst my archives of the Jesus People Movement. It might yet

see the light of day.

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