Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 31, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience, and his philosophy is often summarized by his phrase “follow your bliss.” (Attribution: Wikipedia)
September 28, 1978:
Thank you for your very kind letter, which I found here waiting in a large stack of mail when Jean and I returned from Hawaii. It means a very great deal to me to know that our session at the beautiful Feathered Pipe Ranch gave you such a lift. I remember our walk with a nice warm sense of friendship and shared thoughts. And I was pleased to see in the upper right quarter of your stationery the picture of the church in which you deliver your thoughts to a fortunate congregation. I read the copy of your talk with great interest.
Jean joins in warm good wishes and the hope that we may meet again. And my thanks for your very kind words.
November 4, 1978:
Your wonderful piece on the Navaho, which I found here, when I returned this week from a spell in California, is the best reward I have received, to date, from this year’s activities. God’s image in the bears, and grasses, etc., will stay in my mind as the proper image of my own conception of the mystery we are talking about; it delivers the message in one breath. And the passage about the weaver is really strong. Thank you very, very much – - and for the Feathered Pipe article, as well. That was a lovely holiday – - and this fine piece of yours confirmed it. I have given it to Jean and Joan to read. All send warm greetings, thanks, and love –
Walter Annenberg (March 13, 1908 – October 1, 2002) was the son of the publisher of The Daily Racing Form and The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1942, after his father’s death, Annenberg took over the family businesses, buying additional print media as well as radio and television stations, resulting in great success. One of his most prominent successes was the creation of TV Guide in 1952, and Seventeen magazine.
Richard Nixon appointed Annenberg as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in the United Kingdom. After being appointed as ambassador, he became quite popular in Britain, eventually being made an honorary knight of the Order of the British Empire. In 1969 Annenberg sold The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News to Knight Newspapers for US$55 million.
His “Sunnylands” winter estate in Rancho Mirage, California (near Palm Springs) hosted gatherings with such people as President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Charles, Prince of Wales. It was Annenberg who introduced President Reagan to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the Reagans often celebrated New Year’s Eve with the Annenbergs.
He became a champion of public television, acquiring many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Reagan and the Linus Pauling Medal for Humanitarianism. In 1989, he established the Annenberg Foundation, and 1993, created the Annenberg Challenge, a US$500 million, five-year reform effort and the largest single gift ever made to American public education. He sold TV Guide, Seventeen, and a few other publications to Australian publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch in 1988 for US$3 billion, announcing that he would devote the rest of his life to philanthropy.
During his lifetime, it is estimated that Annenberg donated over US$2 billion. “Education…”, he once said, “holds civilization together”. Many school buildings, libraries, theaters, hospitals, and museums across the United States now bear his name. (Attribution: Wikipedia)
Annenberg has been a financial contributor and dear friend of Bill’s for many years. Following are excerpts from his personal letters to Bill, spanning more than a decade:
April 3, 1989:
Dear Rev. Edelen
Your column Founding Fathers Wrongly Portrayed as ‘Christian’ is deeply touching and I was especially moved by the references to Kennedy and Jefferson; the quotations you used of these two American leaders are indeed memorable.
As a deist I warmly applaud your monumental column.
May 10, 1989:
Because you have addressed me on a first name basis in your generous inscription in the two books that you sent, “Toward the Mystery” and “Spirit,” I am taking the liberty of addressing you on a first name basis as well.
Not only do I appreciate your thoughtfulness in relation to the books, but may I express admiration for the character of your career that is summarized in the dustcover of “Toward the Mystery.” Your overall record of citizenship is indeed distinguished and for which I salute you. More importantly, your statements relative to Deism are tremendously refreshing to me because of my lack of belief in the true value of formalized religion. It has been my observation over a lifetime that formalized religion carries on about the brotherhood of man, but behind closed doors, brotherhood of man is very much found wanting.
January 21, 1991:
Over the last several days, I have noted other letters appearing in the Desert Sun, mostly affirmative, but a few negative concerning you.
I think it would be of interest to you to drop a note to the editor of this publication…asking him to send you whatever letters have appeared in the last several weeks…and I am enclosing a copy of my communication to the editor.
To the Publisher of The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, CA:
…I have noted letters to the Editor in your newspaper that are pro and con concerning the Reverend William Edelen.
I have been reading his column each Saturday whenever I am here at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage and I have the greatest respect for his editorial comment. I believe him to be a man of intelligence, a man of basic integrity and a most constructive thinker.
January 29, 1991:
I have your letters of January 23rd and 26th and may you continue to drive the Fundamentalists up the wall…
It is indeed my hope that you will be able to continue to write your wholesome messages for many, many years to come. Incidentally, I have no doubt that your audiences will grow in the days ahead and that belief gives me a measure of comfort.
March 18, 1991
The enclosed from today’s edition of USA Today, “Iranians Hatred for USA Melts Behind Closed Doors” underscores what happens to a country when religious leaders have power enough to dictate to government.
Historically, we have seen what religious power has done in hatred and persecution in any number of countries…
More to come…
Born in 1916, Herb Caen was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. Known for his dry wit and intimate knowledge of the happenings in his city, Caen coined the term “beatnik“ and popularized the word “hippie” during San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love. To reflect the multiculturalism and exotic character of the city, he came up with the term Baghdad by the Bay for San Francisco.
Caen received a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 “for his extraordinary and continuing contribution as a voice and conscience of his city.” He referred to it in his column as his “Pullet Surprise.” His funeral in 1997 was one of the best attended events in the city’s history. (Attribution: Wikipedia)
Following are some excerpts from his column and his personal letters to Bill:
From his weekly column, “Friday Fishtales”:
William (Bill) Edelen, the Santa Rosa polymath, pronounces himself “appalled” after reading newspaper reports that Arianna Stassinopoulos, wife of senatorial candidate Michael Huffington, received “thunderous applause” at the Commonwealth Club for saying “separation of church and state has been misinterpreted. We need to welcome God back to our public schools. Our Founding Fathers were spiritual people!”…Edelen, a Marine fighter pilot in WWII, Congregational minister, author, lecturer and constitutional scholar, quotes James Madison, author of the Constitution and Bill of Rights: “A just government, instituted to secure liberty, does not need the clergy.” And “These are the fruits of that legal establishment known as Christianity: pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, and in both clergy and laity, superstition, bigotry and persecution” …Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, is of no help to Arianna, either: “Christianity has only made one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.” Edelen has asked the Commonwealth Club for equal time to rebut Mrs. Huffington but holds out little hope.
August 16, 1994:
“Bill, I read, enjoy and am deeply impressed by your work. Thanks for letting me read it. I am learning much! All best regards, Herb. P.S. Your reply to Arianna is a knockout.”
October 2, 1992:
“Bill, you write a helluva column. Thanks and congrats. Yours, Herb.
“I just wanted to thank you for the insightful, reason-oriented columns amidst a sea of demagoguery and dogma. You remind me of Mark Twain or Ambrose Bierce.”
More to come…