John was born in Norway but is now living in Pusan, Korea
Professional background: "I have worked in the Shipping Industry as an Electrical Engineer, mostly as Technical Supervisor for ship-building projects and ships in operation.
"I have found Stoicism as an excellent guide to get through the more unpleasant sides of living. Now working actively for the New Stoa I appreciate the opportunity I now have to share with others the insights Stoic Philosophy has given me."
by: Erik Wiegardt, Founder
The idea for a registry of Stoics actually began in 1964 when I was 19 years old and a private in the US Army. I had recently discovered the Discourses of Epictetus, and after reading it I remember saying to myself, ďIím a Stoic.Ē I felt so strongly about being a Stoic that I wished there was some place where I could sign up, some place where I could make a declaration, take vows, whatever, and officially be a Stoic. At that time, such a place did not exist.
Thirty-two years later, on 8 MAY 1996, I founded a website called the Stoic Registry. Until that day, I had never met another person who was interested in Stoicism. I was sure there must be someone out there somewhere, and I wanted to find him, or her, but I was also aware that I may have been on a fool's errand. I thought that if I couldnít find anyone who was already a Stoic, maybe I could get people interested. I decided to write a book about Stoicism, one that was comprehensible to the average reader, and give it away.
First I had to create a web site, and to do that I had to have a computer. Iíd never owned a computer and didnít know how to use one. At the time, a decent computer started at $2500, and I paid for mine by working overtime - after my 12-hour shift as a Correctional Deputy at an honor camp for adult male felons. I didn't really like working overtime, so I kept a record of exactly how much money I needed to buy a computer, and I took my name off the overtime list as soon as I had that amount.
The good thing about this job at the honor camp was that although I worked 12 hours a day, seven days in a row, at the end of my full week on duty I got seven days off. In the week off, I studied academic tomes on Stoicism at the local university library and wrote The Path of the Sage: An Introduction to Stoic Philosophy. Then I self-published 100 copies, hired a webmaster, and as soon as the Registry was up I gave them all away. They were offered free to anyone who came to the website and asked for one. I even paid the postage.
That was how the Stoic community began. Eleven years later, after finding only 100 Stoics worldwide I started a newsletter, which eventually became the eMagazine, Registry Report. About the same time the College of Stoic Philosophers was born. Slowly our membership grew. In 2009, following a suggestion from one of the members, we voted on a new name for our community. With a 3:1 majority, the Stoic Registry became New Stoa, and with the Computer Age, we a real cyber community at last.
With the addition of the eMagazine and College it soon became apparent that if New Stoa was going to continue evolving and growing we needed new ideas and new leaders. In the Summer of 2011, I sent out an email to every member with a list of questions to help me identify who may be strong candidates. Based on the answers and on what I already knew of each individual we were organized. There were eleven of us and we began as the Counsel, not Council, of Eleven. Then, after adding a couple more members, we realized our numbers were certain to change and we became the Counsel of X.
That same Summer it became obvious that Guillaume Andrieu would be an excellent choice for Editor of Registry Report, and he was installed in that position that November. In the Winter of 2011, I ask John Laerum to replace me as Director so I could concentrate on my work with the College. He agreed, and in May, after fifteen years and with more than 500 members, John assumed responsibility as our Director.