Harry Willson's formal schooling include a B.A. in chemistry and math at Lafayette College, Easton, PA, 1953 [summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa], and an M.Dv. [Master of Divinity] in ancient mid-east language and literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. He also became bilingual, through one year of Spanish Studies at the University of Madrid, and he studied Spanish, literature, philosophy, mythology and theatre arts at the University of New Mexico. He has the Diploma de Espanol como Lengua Extranjera from the University of Salamanca.
He learned more by working: truck farming through high school and college in Williamsport, PA, and jackhammering in Lansdale, PA. He served as student pastor at the Presbyterian Church, Hamburg, NJ, for four years while in seminary.
In 1958 he moved his family to New Mexico, where he served as bi-lingual missionary pastor, in Bernalillo, Alameda and Placitas for eight years. He served as Permanent Clerk of the Presbytery of Rio Grande, Chairman of Enlistments and Candidates, Chairman of the Commission on Race, and Moderator of the Presbytery.
In 1966 he left the church, in sorrow and anger, mostly over its refusal to take a stand against the Vietnam War. He taught school for ten years, at the Albuquerque Academy and at Sandia Preparatory School.
In 1976 he became self-employed, assisting in his wife's business, Draperies by Adela, and managing several businesses of his own, including worm ranching, organic gardening, conducting dream workshops, raising rabbits, selling fireplace inserts and caning chairs. All the while he was building a body of work as a writer. In 1986, he and Adela founded Amador Publishers.
Throughout his life, Harry was an activist in peace and justice causes. In 1965 he answered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call for clergy to go to Selma, Alabama to assist in voter registration and demonstrations again police brutality in the wake of "Bloody Sunday." He participated in the successful march from Selma to Montgomery on March 25, where he personally witnessed Dr. King deliver his "How Long, Not Long" speech. In later years he joined the movement to stop radioactive dumping in New Mexico. He was a long-time member of the Humanist Society of New Mexico.
Harry's work has been hard to classify, according to genre. He considered his outlook "planetary, unitary, peacemaking, anti-racist and anti-sexist, sensing the importance of the inner, curious, sensual, mythic."
Harry Willson, prolific writer of fiction, satire, social commentary and philosophy, died on March 9, 2010 at the age of 77.
Where to buy in print
From Fear To Love: My Journey Beyond Christianity
by Harry Willson
WINNER! Philosophy Book, 2013 NM-AZ Book Awards! The "philosophical memoir" of Harry Willson, former clergyman and committed writer-teacher-activist. Those who come for the first time to Harry's work will discover an informed, irreverent voice of reason in a world gone mad on dogma, hype, guilt trips and power trips. Above all, Harry's commitment to personal and mutual liberation shines through.
Myth and Mortality: Testing the Stories
by Harry Willson
Informed by personal experience and scholarly study, Willson challenges readers to examine the ideas and beliefs they may have accepted by default, and to make a conscious choice to replace all that breed guilt, hatred and fear with those that bring joy, compassion, and enthusiasm for life. He suggests that fear or denial of death is the result of our unwillingness to set aside ego.
Freedom From God: Restoring the Sense of Wonder
by Harry Willson
Thinking Aloud Allowed!
Thinking about God went into a black hole in the '60s with "God Is Dead." Fundamentalism doesn't count, because there's no thinking there. Here's a book that goes all the way into that black hole and comes out the far end -- into liberation. This challenge is for persons who can read and like to think, and can still sense wonder. The fresh air is wonderful!
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