Clovice A. Lewis, Jr., who has composed numerous works ranging from ensemble to electronic and orchestral pieces, graduated from the prestigious College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1978 with a degree in Music Composition and Theory. He began teaching as a freshman at UCSB, and upon completion of his studies, accepted a position as an Associate Professor of Computer Music from 1978-1985. In addition to being a composer and cellist, avid private pilot, and inventor, Clovice has also enjoyed a dual, and extensive career as a technologist and serial entrepreneur since 1984. Presently, he is attending the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA studying for an MDiv to become a Unitarian Universalist Minister.
Watch the full interview with Clovice:
Read the transcript of the interview:
I’m Clovice Lewis. I, up until recently, was a serial entrepreneur. I started my life out as a composer and cellist and was a professor of computer music at UC Santa Barbara for eight years, from ’78 until ’80… – what’s eight years after that? – ’86 I think it was. And then started companies, technology companies. I became an expert at programming and multimedia. [I] started up different companies in Silicon Valley and then all the time still composing. I composed my first symphony when I was 17 and since then there have been quite a few of them: large orchestral works and that sort of thing and then working as a professional cellist as well.
I moved to a rural place in California about 2 ½ hours north of San Francisco back in 2000 (a little bit before that) and have been being rural for quite a while now. Now I’ve been a co-owner of an 11 acre organic walnut farm and I’m delighted to be there.
Well, as I said I was an entrepreneur for many years and I knew that I wanted to do ministry. But I kept putting it off. I became involved in a congregation in this rural Lake County, where I live, and I was doing sermons and was active in the PCD and just having a great time.
People say they get a calling. I was very busy doing my serial entrepreneur thing. I had really thought about ministry because when I discovered Unitarian Universalism, I was really excited about it. People say they get a calling – I literally got a phone call and it was from the school. They were saying “We have a UUA grant and we’re looking for people of color to become ministers. We want to walk our talk and would you be interested?” and I was like “Cool, I’ll do that. Based on the content of my character, I’ll be happy to join.” So I received that grant and then a sustaining scholarship from the David and Norma Lewis Scholarship and that’s how I got here. So, I got a calling and I got a phone call. I am delighted to be here because I’m learning more than I ever imagined I could and I’m having so much fun.
I’m pretty clear, at this point, that I don’t want to be a congregational minister. I do want to have the M.Div. Congregational ministry is not out of the picture for me, but I’m really interested in talking, writing, [and] speaking about large issues like counter oppression, racism, [and] climate disruption and I want to do that on an international and national level. I’m really interested in polity. I’m interested in UU policies and vision going forward at that level and I will continue to do the writing and scholarship that I love doing.
It’s really interesting. I was one of the founding members of the local congregation where I am in this rural area in northern California. If you look at my bookshelf, I’ve always been involved in questions of the nature of reality and the nature of God [and] theology. My bookshelf is quantum physics and religion. [In the] 1990s, I was really excited to find out about the Dead Sea Scrolls. I bought every book that I could possibly get about the subject. So, I’ve had this dual relationship with these two subjects for a very long time. When I learned about Unitarian Universalism, I thought “Ah! There’s a religion for heretics like me!” When I found out about it and became involved in it, I was just naturally drawn to it. I’ve always done public speaking. I’ve always been involved in this kind of work. It was a thing where all of the arrows in my quiver could be drawn towards.
There’s one thing that I was thinking about and that is when I was younger and I went to college. I went to UC Santa Barbara where I taught. There was a College of Creative Studies and that was for really precocious people like me who had written symphonies and done biology and all sorts of stuff before they actually got to college. The College of Creative Studies was a great place for me to learn because it was pass/no pass, it allowed me freedom and flexibility to learn in the ways that I wanted to, and also to teach. The idea of going to a graduate school, especially doing theology like this, was a little bit daunting. I didn’t know very much about Starr King until I really delved into it. Then it was “Oh, there’s a religion for heretics like me AND there is a school of ministry for people like me!” I like to stretch the boundaries. I like to be outside of the box and I’m really happy to be involved in a place that is very familiar to me – where there is this deep, deep dive into things that are not normally thought of or taught. I love the counter oppression part of it. It’s a part of me. It’s a lived, embodied experience for me. To be in a place like this that actually values that creativity and out-of-the-box kinds of thinking that I do and am is exciting. And I would urge anyone who has that idea – or is anything like me – to come over here.