Thursday 31 January 2008

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho -- it's off to Aus (Oz) we go!

It is with a sense of great blessing, deep gratitude for what God is doing in our lives, and delight that I sent the message last evening (Wednesday, January 30) from frigid northern Indiana: "YES INDEED, I will accept your offer!"

That offer came less than three hours after finishing an exciting hour-long face-to-face interview via Skype/video hookup on our laptop computer with the four members of
The Canberra Hospital (TCH)'s interview committee -- meeting with me on what was, for them, a mid-summer Thursday forenoon. At the end of the interview I was told it might take a week to get word of their decision, so we were quite surprised upon hearing that delight-full phone message and reading an affirming follow-up email with the official offer coming around so soon!

That elicited quite the spontaneous "dance of joy" for Carole Anne and I -- twirling together in our living room! So, of course, I accepted the position straight away as Chaplain Manager of their 600+ bed hospital, which already has a few other group leaders coordinating their own volunteer chaplain teams affiliated with various denominations. But all this is in a VERY secular environment:
Canberra is a planned city officially commenced in 1911 about half-way between Melbourne and Sydney comprised of approximately 330,000 inhabitants living in the very multicultural "Australian Capital Territory" (ACT.)

My friend Carl Aiken in Adelaide originally tipped me off to this opening, hearing about it from his chaplain colleague in Canberra who is entering retirement. I have been telling my friends I thought this was a "long-shot" but now I feel like I've hit a three-pointer from half-court!

I have been invited there to provide spiritual and administrative leadership toward more integrated, interdisciplinary, and ecumenical-oriented pastoral care (I call it spiritual care) program. The expectation of those I interviewed with is for someone to provide gentle and winsome guidance -- to facilitate a process among
the other chaplains, their volunteers and the sponsoring churches that builds a team and true sense of common mission that will help everyone rise above some of the "turf protecting" that has somewhat hindered the fulfillment of the vision and mission of key leaders in the hospital and the ACT.

a different paradigm for chaplaincy ministry to emerge will be challenging, but not insurmountable, in my view -- and will require time, patience, professional skill, a focus on building solid relationships in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and of course, regular doses of good humor! Plus, I really have a lot to learn in the process, as I enter a different culture. This, of course, is exactly what I've wanted!

But "to whom much is given much is required" - so both Carole Anne and I will appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we make these transitions together. She will be focused on setting up a home base (including a guest room for the probable constant stream of friends on holidays from the States!) and building relationships among all the new friends we plan to find.

This process has actually culminated quicker than I thought it would, AFTER deciding much earlier in the fall to "cut loose" from my good job here to pursue a self-designed sabbatical -- the first one I've ever had, but which has not even yet begun! So this new development will make our extended travels -- including several weeks of "down time" with Carole Anne's sister Linda and her husband Graham, living up in Noosa Heads on the Sun Coast of Queensland -- all the sweeter and much more relaxed. I am so grateful for The Canberra Hospital search committee members' sensitivity: being willing to provide for an interim arrangement to honor the extra time I feel I need, with no pressure now to start this position until mid-May.

My last day as chaplain of the Goshen General Hospital will be about Feb. 23 --
the 10th anniversary of my start date -- rounding out a very good "run." On Feb. 29 (that's Leap Day - for symbolic effect!) Carole Anne and I will launch into our 8-week trip to the Southwestern US, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. We are foregoing, for now, the additional leg we originally thought we might do yet in South Africa, in light of this job settlement, in order to spend more time in New Zealand, but hope to visit SA on the way to or from Australia at another time, as that country still interests me in the "long run."

After returning to the States we plan to attend my son Jordan's graduation from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor's degree in International Studies on April 26, followed by the closing sale of our home on April 29 (the contract was drawn up and accepted last Saturday) and the wedding of a special friend in Massachusetts on May 10, before we circle back mid-May to the land of Aus to start our new "adventure."

I highly recommend doing such a thing, as risky as it has seemed to most, if one is willing to simply step out on faith, "trust the process", and begin the journey.
It can be quite the empowering experience to "let go", cooperate, listen carefully, and discern how and where the Spirit wants to "do a new thing." It can actually shake one loose from that which has become "comfortable", and offer both release and security -- enough to explore and prepare for an Abrahamic sojourn into (literally) an unfamiliar Terrritory! The biblical themes and assurances of "Be not afraid" - "I will be with you always" - "the Lord will provide" have become very real, and do indeed ring true...

I will relish your thoughts and prayers from time to time - and try to keep you posted along the way.

Enjoying Grace and Peace...
(and REALLY having fun now!)
Clair Hochstetler

Sunday 27 January 2008

Monday 21 January 2008

Getting it straight from the "God-Father": Leave the Prius - Pack the Big Wheel!

(If you didn't "get" that caption - it's a take-off from one of the more memorable lines in "The Godfather.")

People were telling me all day, yesterday, that they read about me in the paper. I didn't get to read this until late last night. What follows is a link to the original, now archived online. However I'm posting an ever-so-slightly edited/corrected version below that, to provide the context for my own comments later.

Published January 19, in the Religion Section of the Goshen News

Chaplain plans move to Australia, other endeavors
By Jesse Davis, Goshen News Staff Writer

After 10 years serving Goshen General Hospital and the community at large, Clair Hochstetler, staff chaplain and coordinator of spiritual care, is resigning.

“I felt this call growing in me for a long time — it is not a new idea,” he said. “It was in my head even as I came (to the hospital).”

According to a letter Hochstetler sent to friends before the official announcement was made, he is in the process of applying for the chaplain manager position at a large hospital in Australia’s capital city of Canberra located on the southeast corner of the continent.

He had previously applied for a chaplain position at a hospital in Alice Springs, Australia, but was not chosen.

“The job is a long shot. I’m not counting on it at all,” he said, adding that he is “trying to be at the intersection of my greatest passion and the world’s greatest need.”

Hochstetler will visit the country with his wife, Carol Anne, for about a month during [a trip planned for] March and April to research work and living possibilities [while visiting Carole Anne's sister who also lives in Australia, near Brisbane.] In addition, the two plan on traveling to southern Africa to [explore] helping with health ministry, AIDS and pastoral care issues. [Stops in Hawaii and New Zealand are also part of the plan, during this self-designed sabbatical.]

Hochstetler is currently chairman of the board for the African Projects for Peace and Love Initiatives, which is involved in missionary work in Nigeria.

Community involvement is one of Hochstetler’s fortes, and many local organizations will have to find new members when he leaves.

Last fall, Hochstetler became president of the Goshen Ministerial Association, where he had been a part of the church and community relations committee and later the executive committee as secretary. Hochstetler also helped to found the Center for Healing and Hope and was on the board for seven years before resigning in August.

“The CHH is a tremendous asset to the whole region,” he said. “Over 80 churches are involved in some way, be it supplying volunteers or funds, with the goal of educating people and building bridges between them and health care resources.”

The official announcement of Hochstetler’s resignation was released on Jan. 4, but he began letting close friends know earlier, as well as preparing the chaplain team a couple months ahead. For most people, however, the announcement came as a shock.

“It was very gratifying to walk the halls and hear what people were saying when they realized what was happening,” he said, referencing the regard in which his co-workers held him.

In addition to preparing the hospital for his departure, Hochstetler, along with his wife, are in the process of selling their household furnishings and supplies as well as the 420 Marilyn Ave. house itself.

“That in itself is spiritual discernment,” he said. [Clair's comment: I actually used the term spiritual "discipline" instead of "discernment."] “Let’s just say I have a new appreciation for the [difficulty in the] story of Jesus telling the rich man to ‘sell everything you have and give it to the poor.’ ”

Still, Hochstetler says there will be a period of grieving for the people and places they will have to leave behind.

“I have a lot of mixed feelings about leaving,” he said. “I’ve really grown a lot here, but I feel that this is going to be an important spiritual experience for me, getting out of my comfort zone.”

Asked if he will continue his hobby of unicycling, Hochstetler replied with a loud “absolutely!”

Just recently, he purchased what he calls the “big red Ferrari” of unicycles, which features a massive tire, approximately 3 feet across, and two small handles in front of the seat.

“I can get it up to about 15 miles an hour,” he said.

Hochstetler’s final day will be around Feb. 25, two days after his 10-year anniversary with the hospital.

Between now and then, hospital officials are searching for his replacement, a process Hochstetler has been directly involved in. They hope to fill the position by mid-February so Hochstetler can help orient the new hire to the job and introduce other community religious leaders before his departure.



Many read this particular news article before I finally did late last night, since I was leading the annual meeting and consultation with the international board of APPLI all day. I was also deeply involved in preparations for a special dinner meeting our local members hosted in the evening for about 75 people, to raise awareness about this youth peace education and conflict transformation ministry in West Africa, which is actually alluded to in the news article.

Today I made a few edits in the original text [they appear inside the brackets] - to bring some "clair-ity" and to address some of the comments or questions people have typically been raising as a result of recent communications like this one.

It all started in the public eye about two weeks ago, when The Elkhart Truth surprised many in our community (including myself - and our administration at the hospital, as well - although I should have expected something like that.) It looked like an interview, but wasn't. The Truth published some excerpts from an email I had sent out to area pastors and key contacts two days earlier, about the same time my official resignation was circulating internally for the first time within the Goshen Health System.

The Goshen News, however, decided to do a more thorough job of it, which I appreciated, when they sent a reporter to officially interview me -- after approval by the Health System of course. Overall, I felt the time with Jesse Davis was very worthwhile. It provoked some good reflection on my part about my overall experience here. Jesse captured pretty well the essence of what is going on, and both Carole Anne and I appreciated the resulting piece - except there was one key omission.

I had shared that a primary motivation for our leave actually has to do with family: How changes in my family situation here have now freed me up from major related responsibilities, and how my wife wants to be much closer to her sister who has been living with her own husband in Australia - they have hardly been together for over 35 years - and this fulfills a commitment I made to Carole Anne some time ago.

Carole Anne and I have been pleasantly surprised, and pleased, by the many heart-felt responses and personal overtures people are making as a result of such news. And I'm becoming quite aware of how hard making such a transition really is - the grief involved and more - as we begin to "divest" ourselves of material goods and possessions, and anticipate getting pulled away from a raft of significant involvements
and important relationships with dear people here.

Though I'm originally from this area, Carole Anne isn't, and we have together forged a number of significant new relationships over these ten years while living in this fine neighborhood and community! Many are expressing that it just won't be the same...and I guess we all know that is true.

On the upside, however, there is nothing like making a move like this to "clear the slate" and one's schedule! I've already been noting certain meetings and responsibilities that have been fulfilled or experienced for the last time. That's a strange feeling, and its been ten years since I have felt that.

Carole Anne and I find ourselves talking a lot these days about needing to "embrace the change" and to get ready to move outside our comfort zones. Neither of us have a job secured yet - I know I have never done anything like this before! But, somehow this does not frighten, but actually attracts and enriches our lives. We do feel secure in a future, held in the hands of the One who cares for us, supported by the love and prayer of many friends who are happy for us, while at the same time feel very wistful about our leaving.

We feel excited about options that might be emerging for our future, and especially look forward to this upcoming 8-week self-designed sabbatical to help us discern where to invest the next period of our lives. (Five to ten years? Maybe Australia first, and then South Africa. We aren't sure. Maybe somewhere else completely!) We didn't realize it at the time, but ironically we picked February 29 (LEAP DAY!) to embark on what feels a bit to us like an "Abraham and Sarah-type" of pilgrimage.

So, we promise to keep y'all posted right here - a good place for you, as well, to "keep in touch!" (Unless we make a new blog together to document this journey. But you'll find out about that right here, too, if that happens.)


Sunday 13 January 2008

"9/11: Family Members, First Responders and Experts Speak Out!" at 9/11 Symposium, West Hartford Ct, on Nov. 3, 2007 - Just listen to Patty Casazza!

Listen to Patty Casazza in the video below (one of the "Jersey Girls" who worked persistently to get the 9/11 Commission appointed in the first place.)

"We did not have "evidence" presented at the 9/11 Commission, we got platitudes, we got a lot of rhetoric... and we got lies. With a smattering of the obvious truths; "There were 4 planes that day", yeah, ok. Much more than that we don't know.

We don't even know who was on those planes for sure. I never saw ONE terrorist get on a plane. I have trouble with that. Nobody showed me the bank accounts from Mohammed Atta or any of these other people, who supposedly got on planes and destroyed those buildings.

I did get a phone call from my husband, after the first plane had hit. And he said he had thought there were bombs going off in the building, and he knew he was gonna die..."

Later in the video, Casazza reveals that whistleblowers came to the 9/11 families with startling information;

"...they had information... and basically the government knew-- other than the exact moment, they knew the date, and the method in which the attacks were supposed to come.

And none of this, made it to mainstream media.

None of it made it into the Commission.

And yet, again, all of your representatives, on the day that the Commission book came out, were on their pulpits saying, what a fabulous job this Commission has done, a real service to this nation.

And it was anything but a service, it was a complete fabrication."

Is this not truly explosive information? If not for Patty, Kristen, Mindy, or Lorie, as well as many other family members, the 9/11 Commission finally appointed by the government would have never come to be!

They were there from the beginning of the process until the end. They supplied the Commission with 100's of well researched questions that STILL need answering. If anyone knows what they're talking about, it's these individuals - as well as a whole raft of National Security experts who were literally censored by the 9/11 Commission!

The following National Security Whistleblowers were turned away, refused, or ignored by the 9/11 Commission, even though they had direct and relevant information related to the Commission’s investigation. (For more information contact Sibel Edmonds, Director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition at )

John M. Cole (Senior Counterintelligence Operations Manager-FBI) – He notified the 9/11 Commission during its investigation and never received response; also his name & contact information were provided to the Commission as key witness (Program manager for Pakistan & Afghanistan; has relevant information to 9/11 terrorist attack) by others, but he was not contacted. John M. Cole, Former Veteran Intelligence Operations Specialist, worked for 18 years in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division as an Intelligence Operations specialist. Beginning in 1999, he discovered and began reporting serious issues of mismanagement, gross negligence, waste of government funds, security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications. He wrote these issues in several letters to FBI management, to include Director Mueller to no avail. After he reported these acts to FBI management, he was retaliated against, suspended and ultimately left the FBI in March 2004.

Bogdan Dzakovic (Former Red Team Leader-FAA)- His testimony to the Commission was completely omitted from the final report.

Bogdan Dzakovic is a former Coast Guard Officer, Federal Criminal Investigator and has a graduate degree in Security Administration. He has worked for the Security Division of the Federal Aviation Administration since 1987 as a Special Agent, as a Team Leader in the Federal Air Marshals, and from 1995 until September 11, 2001 was a Team Leader of the Red Team (terrorist team). He tried for several years prior to the 9-11 attacks to improve aviation security in the face of the ever-increasing terrorist threat. This included working through the established chain of command, with the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, with the General Accountability Office, and with members of both the House and Senate of the Congress of the United States. He filed a Whistleblower Case against the Federal Aviation Administration and testified at the 9-11 Commission.

Sibel Edmonds (Language Specialist-FBI) - She was refused twice; was given interview only after the Jersey Moms intervened directly; however, her testimony was censored by the Commission.

Sibel Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI’s Washington Field Office. During her work with the bureau, she discovered and reported serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications. After she reported these acts to FBI management, she was retaliated against by the FBI and ultimately fired in March 2002. Since that time, court proceedings on her issues have been blocked by the assertion of “State Secret Privilege” by Attorney General Ashcroft; the Congress of the United States has been gagged and prevented from any discussion of her case through retroactive re-classification by the Department of Justice. Ms. Edmonds is fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani; and has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University. (

Behrooz Sarshar (Language Specialist-FBI) - He was refused twice; was given interview only after the Jersey Moms intervened directly; however, his testimony was completely removed from the commission’s final report.

Melvin A. Goodman (Former Senior Analyst/ Division Manager-CIA)-

Melvin Goodman is senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC and adjunct professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University. He served at the CIA as senior Soviet analyst from 1966-1990 and as professor of international security at the National War College from 1986-2004. He resigned from the CIA in 1990 to protest the politicization of intelligence on the Soviet Union and testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1991 against the confirmation of Robert M. Gates as director of central intelligence. At the time of his resignation, Goodman was a member of the Senior Intelligence Staff. He is the author and co-author of five books on international relations including "The Wars of Eduard Shevardnadze," "The Phantom Defense: America's Pursuit of the Star Wars Illusion," and "Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk."

Gilbert Graham (Retired Special Agent, Counterintelligence-FBI) – His name & contact information were provided to the Commission as key witness in February 2004, although he was willing to provide the Commission with information he was never contacted.

Coleen Rowley (Retired Division Counsel- FBI) – The commission chose to only rely upon transcripts from the Joint Senate-House Intel Inquiry

FBI Minneapolis Field office – As far as Ms. Rowley is aware, no one from the FBI Minneapolis (3-4 Agents with direct information) was asked to provide testimony/info to the 9/11 Commission.

Joe Mansour (Federal Bureau of Prison) -

John Vincent (Retired Special Agent, Counterterrorism-FBI) – He was granted an interview but the commissioners’ investigators refused to ask questions Re: info. Related to his case & 9/11 and insisted on asking only administrative and irrelevant questions.

John Vincent is a graduate of law school. He spent two years in the US Army, one year working for a US Congressman, and two years working in state government lawmaking. He joined the FBI in 1975 and worked there for 27 1/2 years before retiring in 2002. He worked his last 8 years in counter terrorism. Mr. Vincent, along with Robert Wright exposed the inefficiencies within the FBI in working counter terrorism cases.

Robert Wright (Veteran Special Agent, Counterterrorism-FB) - FBI refused to allow Wright to testify, but the Commission did not insist or attempted to subpoena Wright.

Mark Burton (Senior Analyst- NSA) – Provided dozens of pages of information/testimony to the 9/11 Commission, but was completely ignored and never asked to testify.

Mark Burton served as an all-source threat analyst in NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) for most of his 16-year career. He was the editor of IAD’s premier threat document; the 300+ page ISSO Global Threat Summary, and was an adjunct faculty member at NSA’s National Cryptologic School. During a three-year ICAP tour at the Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), he was treated so poorly that he chose to resign from public service. He later provided dozens of pages of draft testimony to the 9/11 Commission, but the Commission ignored him. He has since been blacklisted from Federal employment, apparently via the insertion of slanderous information into his official records. He has an MA in national security studies from Georgetown University.

Mike German (Special Agent, Counterterrorism-FBI) - Contacted the Commission in spring 2004, but did not receive any response from them. Had direct information Re: Ties between certain domestic terrorist group & Al Qaeda.

Mike German served sixteen years as an FBI Special Agent and is one of the rare agents credited with actually having prevented acts of terrorism before it became the FBI's number one priority. In the early 1990s, Mike successfully infiltrated a Los Angeles white supremacist group that was engaged in a bombing campaign against racial minorities. In the late 1990's, after the Oklahoma City bombing, he again went undercover against right-wing militia groups that were conspiring to harm federal agents. Both cases disrupted multiple terrorist cells and led to criminal convictions that prevented terrorist acts.

Then, in 2002 Mike reported gross mismanagement in a post 9/11 counterterrorism investigation, which included serious violations of FBI policy and federal law. Despite his record Mike was prevented from working on other terrorism investigations in retaliation. Mike chose to resign from the FBI rather than remain silent about continuing failures in the FBI counterterrorism program.

Larry Cruse (Veteran Analyst, NGIC)

Dick Stoltz (Retired Special Agent, ATF & FBI)

So, do you think we need any more reasons to reestablish a new 9/11 (Truth) Commission??

By, the way, here is a good chronology of developments within "the 9/11 Truth Movement" throughout 2007: