Monday, December 21, 2015


Regardless of one's theology, this is a rather amazing version of the song....

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


I have been meaning to write about Menno Pause, an "underground" newspaper that came out with two issues during my senior year at Goshen College.  I was one of the secondary group of folks who helped the primary five with some of the grunt work.  The five were the intellectual voice of the paper and the rest of us helped with printing, graphics, ideas for articles, etc.  Four of the five signed both issues of the paper, and not long after the second issue, they were all kicked out of school - Sam Steiner, Jim Wenger, Lowell Miller and Tom Harley. 

Jim Wenger, Tom Harley,  Sam Steiner & Lowell Miller

I write now because Sam Steiner recently wrote an article reflecting on his role in the publication of Menno Pause, an underground newspaper at Goshen College.  Read the whole article here.

A couple of clips from Sam's article:

 Jim Wenger was the intellectual leader of our little band.  He had studied the growing phenomenon of underground newspapers in spring 1967 for the Communication and Society course. He was a convinced adherent of the free speech movement, and wished for a living example at Goshen College. He also wanted to shake his “egghead” reputation because he had a near 4.0 grade average.

Jim drafted our purpose statement thusly: “The Menno-Pause is a gadfly (poking and prodding the GC sacred cows), a watchdog (checking and analysing disciplinary action), a critic (positive or negative analysis of GC education), an extended student opinion board–and general all-around crap.” We characterized ourselves as the “campus underground newspaper team.”

In early September the five of us began to plan, mostly in Yoder 201, often against the backdrop of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” By September 10 we were serious about producing an underground paper. Tom gave us the name of the paper. We co-opted others to help. They included Carol Beechy (women’s perspective), Doug Swartzendruber (design), Eric Yoder, and Bill Horrisberger.  We delegated Jim and Lowell to give Sue Clemmer a “head’s up” that our alternative publication was coming.

 I would encourage any of you with an interest to read Sam's entire article and the comments, as well as the linked article by Dan Hess who was a Professor of Communication at the time.  I added this comment to Sam's article:

Sam – thanks for sharing this reflection, and bring back many memories of our years at Goshen College. I indeed helped with the graphic of Menno Pause, and some of us secondary MP-ers helped with various aspects of the publication. My recollection was that one of the issues was printed after-hours at the Menno Travel Service offices downtown, with the help of Will Poyser and an MTS employee.

Jim Wenger was my assigned roommate for our freshman year; sort of the odd couple. Jim was very bright, a talented piano player and no particular interest in sports – me, average intellect, OK guitar player and always ready to play basketball, or whatever. We got along fine, but lined up new roommates for our second year. In retrospect, it is clear that Jim was dealing with his sexual identity in 1964. He would occasionally peruse a Playboy and had numerous dates with college girls, but did not seem particularly comfortable living that role. While it saddens me deeply that he as well as others such as Eric Alderfer, could not express their innate identities at Goshen, I was pleased that Jim was able to find a loving long term partner in Peter.

I have dug out my two issues of Menno Pause and also a manuscript by Stacy Vlasits who wrote a book entitled “The Menno-Pause Incident At Goshen College. And thanks for the reference to the Dan Hess article – both interesting and illuminating.

A few more thoughts:

Another recollection of Jim was that he was very fond of his mother, but not so much of his father who was a minister in Pennsylvania who no doubt had a very unaccepting view of homosexuality.  Goshen College's expulsion of the four ended what I believe would have been a stellar academic career for Jim.

A nickname for President Mininger was Pious Paul, and one late evening we spent a fair amount of time writing on the wooden fence surrounding the construction site of the Good Library outlining all of the things that Pious Paul Prevented [all starting with P].

A nickname for Sam was Pig-Pen, not disparaging but rather for his resemblance to the lovable Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoons.

Lastly, I, perhaps incorrectly, put part of the blame on Goshen College for the premature deaths of Jim and Eric Alderfer and perhaps others whose struggles with sexual identity could not be acknowledged and openly discussed.  By GC, I mean all of us because even though some of us were supportive of the expelled gang of four, there likely was more that we could have done on their behalf.