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Saturday, December 10, 2011


After my book All About Tarantulas was published in 1977 and I had founded the original American Tarantula Society (ATS) in 1979, our pastor, Rev. Charles Root, was inspired to give a sermon on February 18, 1979 that included praise for the ATS. He was even wearing our club badge as he spoke.

At an earlier date, I had given a little sermonette from his pulpit on the subject of "Fear." As I began to speak, I opened a margarine container and out of it my large tarantula crawled onto my hand and began making her way up my arm. There was a general gasp throughout the congregation. By the time my little talk ended, my tarantula was at my shoulder.

On July 9, 1979, the Bellingham Herald published a lengthy article, "Dale Lund's spider club is giving the whole country the creeps," by staff reporter Carolyn Hughs, in which she wrote: "Lund's -- and tarantulas' -- new fame has had other effects, as well. The club's attempts to revolutionize people's thinking about them was incorporated into a sermon about Jesus' teachings by the Rev. Charles Root of Nooksack Valley United Methodist Church. Although not a spider owner, he has joined the club, out of curiosity."

Feeling perhaps a little explanation and elaboration was due, Rev. Root wrote this letter to the editor, published the following July 13th:

All creatures

Dale Lund's spider club may give some people the creeps, but maybe not the "whole country."

Carolyn Hughs deserves some thanks for helping people know that most of us live with prejudices that have little to do with truth, and Dale is rendering us all a service in understanding that ordinary creatures as well as extraordinary ones have a fascinating place in life if we are willing to observe and understand. I'm referring to Carolyn's article in the July 9 Herald.

I did indeed join the Tarantula Society out of some curiosity, but for more than curiosity was my desire to support a young couple in a quest giving meaning and interest in a phase of life. Too often out of fear, ignorance or hostility toward that which is not understood, people squash, spray or otherwise destroy creatures as well as ideas.

There is no record that Jesus said anything about spiders; so, Carolyn, I would try not to incorporate into sermons what would be out of context. What I would certainly say is that I am sure God is interested, as I believe Jesus was interested, in people who are open to observe and care about knowing truth not just as Scripture, not just as tradition, but also as experience and reason, and who then change their lives in response to that truth. This is a United Methodist dogma defining our theological task.

My sermons are preached in the Nooksack Valley United Methodist Church only 17 miles out of Bellingham on Sunday mornings, in the summer months at 10 in the morning.

They are a part of worship which is not entertainment; so when Dale Lund presents one of God's wonderful creatures in a part of a service of worship, and little Kerry Gardner, a beautiful, redhaired little girl, walks up to get a closer look, there is a feeling of wonder, awe, love, joy and beauty that is heartwarmingly worshipful.

Charles F. Root, Pastor
The Nooksack Valley
United Methodist Church 

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