Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, September 7, 2017


For a very short time, back in 1986-7, I wrote for “The Prairie Home Companion” [PHC] radio show on MN Public Radio, hosted by Garrison Keillor.

At his high school’s 25th class reunion, GK had met again the class’s Danish exchange student and fallen in love with her. This understandably caused the producer for PHC, Margaret Moos, with whom GK was living, to move out and go to Los Angeles to produce radio programs there. Stephen Solarz took over producing PHC.

In the back pages of “The New Yorker,” I saw a small box ad that said PHC was looking for a writer and that interested parties should send their resumes to Solarz. I was sure that I could write for PHC, because I shared a brain with GK. [1]

I loved PHC. I listened to it faithfully. I demanded “radio silence” of everyone in the house so that I would not miss a single word. I knew the ends of GK’s lines before he spoke them.

I also knew that Solarz would discard without consideration a resume that said “small town Methodist preacher.” They were bound to get enough resumes from real writers that they didn’t need to consider some minor leaguer like me. That was true. I later learned they received five hundred resumes. [It may have been five thousand. I remember the “five” but not the word after. Either way, it was a big number.]

So I just wrote some scripts for skits for the show and sent them off. Put my name and address on them but otherwise didn’t identify myself. Sure enough, one afternoon I got a telephone call. From Margaret Moos.

“But, Margaret,” I said. “I thought you had left PHC.”

“I did,” she said, “but things sort of fell apart. They asked me to come back. I’ve been here in Minneapolis two weeks. I brought one suitcase. I’ve been so busy I haven’t even unpacked it yet. I read the scripts you sent. I love them. I want you to write more.”

She didn’t ask anything about who I was. At that point, it didn’t matter. My words were my credentials.

It reminds me of what his early listeners said about Jesus: He speaks as one having authority in himself, and not as those who are credentialed to teach the Torah, the Law. [2] He did not need a PhD in Bible, or in continuing education for adults, or in preaching. His words were his credentials. [3]

One of the things he spoke about most was guilt, and how to deal with it. So tomorrow I’ll tell you about a script I wrote for PHC. “The Little Shop of Horrors” was a popular movie then. It featured a little flower shop with a man eating plant. So one of the PHC “Movies on Radio” scripts I wrote was “The Lutheran Shop of Horrors,” about the man-eating guilt plant.

If your problem is trying to deal with guilt… well, just be patient until tomorrow. If your problem is impatience… well, we’ve really got a problem.


1] Here I have the late and lamented George Loveland to thank. The first year we worked together, he as the Methodist campus minister at Eastern IL U, he gifted me at Christmas with a year’s subscription to “The New Yorker.” I liked it, and kept renewing the subscription.

2] Mark 1:21-28; Matthew 7:29; Luke 4:32.

3] That is why it is a bad mistake for Christians to say that the Bible is the Word of God. Christ had the Word of God directly, in himself. It is Christ who is the Word, not the Bible.

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