Sunday, January 31, 2010

The no atheist in a foxhole myth

I was reading Why Atheists Don’t Turn to Religion When Faced with Death or Disaster on AlterNet this afternoon. Greta Christina did a fine job of capturing the truth behind the myth. Atheists don’t typically turn to God when faced with death. Christians think we do, but they are mistaken. I’m often pelted the foxhole myth when talking to Christians who think they hold some secret knowledge because the believe in some an afterlife. They don’t know anything really.

I’ve often wondered if Christians say the same think to people of other faiths. Greta nails it in her article.

What would you think if someone made this argument to a person of a different faith? "Sure, you believe in Judaism now -- but when your plane is going down, you'll turn to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Is that an appropriate thing to say? Or is it religious bigotry, pure and simple? Regardless of what you personally believe about Jesus Christ and his ability to comfort people during plane crashes ... would you renounce this argument as insensitive and tone-deaf at best, callous and inhumane at worst?

My story:

I faced death once. Seven years ago a stern-faced oncologist said I should, “…put my affairs in order as my time was short.” He said my preliminary test results were bad, so bad that he suggested I talk to my priest. I left his office stunned, numb, and scared. As another round of tests started, I did not turn to God. The thought never crossed my mind.

I sought comfort from my wife and a few friends. I looked into funeral arrangements and how to take care of my family after my death. I did things to keep my mind busy, but I did not go to a priest. Three weeks later the same oncologist and my primary physician met me together to tell me they had made a horrible mistake. Some other bloke was going to die. I was fine. I did not scream “Thank God.” Instead, I walked to my car and cried. As tears rolled down my face I called my wife and told her the good news. I gave my mom the same call. Then I went to work.

I found out later the other person died four weeks after my clean bill of heath. There was nothing they could have done for him.

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People are odd

I I laughed so hard when I saw this. But it’s harmless fun, so who cares? I mean, it is a Schindler Hydraulic Elevator at the Bedford County Courthouse and all. It must be a bad ass ride. It’s worth the effort, right? People do all sorts of odd things. I go out of my way to photograph graffiti. I have friend who likes to talk to complete strangers about religion and another friend who obsesses about his Bejewel Blitz score.

I’ll take the stairs. No wait, there is a guy filming the risers…

Hat tip: Photography is not a crime.

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Pastor Mark List arrested

Pastor Mark List is the associate pastor at Danville Christian Academy. Pastor List is alleged to have engaged in a lengthy sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male student.

The Vermilion County State’s Attorney Office filed charges Thursday of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, criminal sexual assault — position of trust and indecent solicitation of a child against List with bond set by the courts at $20,000.

Something sounds unbiblical here… I wonder what the real story is?

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You have an angry soul

I played disc golf just after sunrise this morning. El Dorado Park in Long Beach was misty and cold with calf-deep uncut wet grass. I walked the course alone with my mini boombox thumping out a reggae playlist. It’s the way I like to start a Sunday morning.

I was not playing well, but I did not care. It was all about music, solitude and throwing my disc. I played 11 holes without speaking to another human. On twelve I threw wide right. On my recovery shot I had to wait while two old ladies walked through my approach. They were walking 6 dogs in knit sweaters. They were so cute.

I passed near them a few minutes later. Damien Marley was playing Road to Zion, I was singing along as best I could. The old ladies were singing something too. Their dogs started to bark as I approached. Both ladies started talking excitedly. I had scared them. Amid the cacophony, the oldest woman, perhaps 85 or so, said to me, “Dave, you have an angry soul.” I replied, “Yes ma’am” and continued walking.

She shook a finger at me and said, “You need to stop smoking the marijuana.” It must have been the reggae, I wasn't smoking anything. Plus, I figured her for senile because my name is not Dave. I continued walking  and said, “Yes ma’ma.”

As I walked up a hill away from them, she called to me again. “Do you know where our car is?” Her companion said, “Mom, you know we haven't driven in ten years.”

I have such and angry soul. Ah.. good times.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rev. Robert Chukwo arrested

Call me a skeptic, but when I hear the words Nigeria and a $200k investment opportunity, I think scam. Apparently the Catholic church holds no such bias. Rev. Robert Chukwo stands accused of embezzling $196K from two Parishes and the La Crosse Diocese. He sent to money home to “earn a better interest rate.” …and pay no attention to the container full of furniture and luxury goods he sent to his “nun” back home in Nigeria. It’s all good, what with the flood and all, it would have got all wet anyway.

I can ask the usual questions here. Why was there such lax oversight? Why was a priest allowed to re-direct funds destined for use by flood victims? Why didn't somebody notice a priest driving a Bentley? Wait… I made that one up. But you get my point. Here is yet another example of a priest allegedly taking advantage of his flock for his own enrichment. Religion offers no moral advantage, none at all. Pastors like Rev. Chukwo are moral con men who teach the gospel of self-interest.

I’m sure he was “a man of God”, and he was “doing God’s work”, and blah, blah, blah… Just please don’t tell me about the assumption of innocence or use the phrase “Who are you to judge?” Remember, the point of these posts is to show that religion offers no moral advantage. If  pastors are raping your children and stealing money meant for the poor, you should you at least be asking the question, “How is this moral beauty?” But you won’t.

They don't know what they don't know

Over a lonely weekend on my recent trip to China, I wrote a few posts in the bar on my laptop while drinking a Tsingtao. I wrote the post Baked Beans while I enjoyed the quiet and solitude that sometimes comes with travel. Don’t get me wrong, business travel has it's downside, but quality time with a good beer is not one of them. My bartender, Aiden, was an inquisitive young man. He interrupted me several times to talk tech.

Since I was writing a blog post, he asked to see my blog. I explained that I could not show him anything because China blocked Blogger. He had no idea. The more we talked, the more it seemed he did not know of Blogger or the other foreign blogging services. To him, even Google was a second rate service when compared to Baidu (Wikipedia), China's number one search engine. He demonstrated Baidu’s capabilities while explaining why it was better than Google. During the demo, I realized Baidu was essentially Google cloned and re-branded as a Chinese product. It was yet another example of foreign product perfectly copied and then used to compete head-to-head with the original in the Chinese market. Google is competing with itself in China, they should be worried that Baidu will target America next.

Aiden had a Facebook account when it was opened to Chinese users a few years ago, but he thought they were unfair in the treatment of China and therefore did not deserve Chinese patronage. I explained free speech laws and the fact that Facebook could not silence it patrons with a negative backlash. That, if they tried to censor users, that would be the end for Facebook. Another service would step in to fill the gap. Facebook would fade away. It would be economic suicide. Aiden did not understand. He thought our President could order the objectionable content removed for the good of the American people.

In retrospect, it was an awakening of sorts for me. He was one of five people I spoke with who were unaware of Blogger while maintaining blogs on Chinese based blogging services. Most had a public account where they talked about things of interest to their friends, and a private account where they kept their innermost secrets. I asked about government intrusion, they responded that it was not possible as they were doing nothing wrong. They are blissfully innocent. To think that a generation of young computer savvy users share their private thoughts on a government run service is scary in a Orwellian sort of way.  The government does not need spies when its citizens bare their souls to the communist machine. It blows my mind.

I think the government's official policy of replacing competing services with robust Chinese alternatives is working. The people I've met do not miss Twitter, Facebook or Blogger. For the most part, they don't even know the services exist or care about what they are missing.

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Rev. Isaias Rivera arrested

Stealing, theft, embezzlement… it all has such a negative ring to it. It makes me wonder why a pastor would steal from his own church.

The pastor of a Lawrence church, his wife, and the church's secretary have been charged with embezzling almost $137,000 from the congregation's bank account.

Pastor Isaias Rivera of  Tabernaculo de Adoracion y Musica denies the charges.

Pastor pulls a gun on son

My first story of a new day: Pastor accused of pulling gun on son at Church.

The son of a well-known Alcoa pastor has taken out an order of protection against his father, claiming he was threatened with a gun during an argument at a church over his lack of church attendance. The order of protection was filed by 32-year-old Michael Louis Colquitt against 60-year-old Joe Colquitt, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church.

I don’t really know what to say besides wtf? Joe Colquitt must suck as a pastor if he must force his own son to attend on fear of death.  I’m willing to bet there is more to the story.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Buddha Belly

I am a tall man, and fat too if you must know. I look like an NFL offensive lineman who has gone to seed. I tend to scare people when they unexpectedly run in to me. I’m used to it by now and go out of my way to avoid embarrassing situations.

In China I need to work extra hard. Chinese children like to pat my belly. The little sneaks find ingenious ways to to get close and risk a quick pat. I’ve been in Suzhou a week as I write this, I’ve been tagged by about 12 children in commando style attacks. In one case, a young boy dove into my elevator, patted my belly twice, and then executing a perfect one shoulder roll to escape through the elevator doors before they closed. In another case, a small girl distracted me with a question while her playmate dove in from behind to pat me down with both hand like I were a drum. They dance away together holding hands only to return with their parents to ask for a picture. Still another young boy executed a perfect commando style raid by climbing a glass rail which separated the dining area from the lounge. He jumped from behind a planter to the rail, sliding over it to land behind me. I looked to the left, but it was a feint, he moved in from the right to quickly pat my belling. He yelled triumphantly as he ran away.

Enough was enough, I appealed to the host to help bring order to the four children circling my table. I was alone and drawing belly pats like mosquito bites. After the 15th bite, I was done. The host intervened by yelling at the children, one of whom started to cry. Her father stood up from a nearby table  to argue with the host. He moved to within three feet of me and kept gesturing in my direction. I asked the host what was going on, The host said the man was angry with me. That if I did not want children patting my belly then perhaps I should not try to look like Buddha. He thought I was enticing his child to misbehave. I stood up so to move to another section of the restaurant, one without children. The father misinterpreted my gesture and backed away too quickly, falling over a chair. His party jumped to his defense. There was a lot of shouting, It was embarrassing. The staff finally came to my rescue.

I headed to the bar. The children attacked five minutes later.

Oh China, why do you like my belly so? Nobody else does.

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Father Alejandro Flores charged

Rev. Alejandro Flores, who tired to kill himself once his alleged crimes were uncovered, pleaded not guilty to seven felon counts, one of criminal sexual assault, two of criminal sexual assault and four of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. If convicted, he also faces deportation. Rev. Flores’s crimes are typical for a pedophile priest. He likes to play with little boys.

The charges against Flores allege the priest, who was identified as the victim's godfather, had sexual contact with the now 13-year-old boy over the course of the last five years, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Flores put his mouth and his hand on the boy's penis, both at the boy's home and in Flores' car, on numerous occasions.

Flores claims the boy’s mother got him drunk and the child molested him.

Prosecutors told the judge that while in the hospital, Flores apparently made a statement to another priest about one incident of sexual contact with the boy. According to prosecutors, Flores said he visited the boy and his mother three months ago, and the mother gave him tequila. Flores said he woke up to find the boy touching him inappropriately -- contact he says he did not initiate.

He may not have “initiated it”, but as an adult, he should have never let it happen. I hope he enjoys prison.

Baked beans

One of the odd things that shows up in the hotel breakfast buffet at an American style hotel in Suzhou, is baked beans. I’ve seen it each morning but noticed nobody eating it. After a week, I finally had to ask why they stocked it. The restaurant manager explained that it is a favorite food of Texans. Apparently, a lot of Texans had visited at one time, but were not as prevalent as they had been in the past. I happen to know a few of these Texans, they work in another division of my company.

I asked if the beans were a popular buffet item. The restaurants manager explained that they were a slow moving item. At most, only one or two guests tried the beans each day. I explained that baked beans are not a normal breakfast food in America. In fact, I explained, they are typically a picnic lunch item reserved for summer barbeques. The manager asked for a reference. I was happy to point out a few.

The next day she asked why Texans like beans for breakfast. It was obvious I had not made my point the previous day. I explained that Texans  are “full of beans, and only half-baked at best.”  She left to look up the references. she came back laughing. “Texans are like people from Hong Kong, a bit odd.”

“Exactly!” I replied.

There were no baked beans for breakfast the next morning.

A few days later a friend told me baked beans were quite popular in China as a cheap tasty breakfast meal. I don’t get it.

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Pastor Frederick Hansen convicted

Pastor Frederick Douglas Hanson was found guilty on one count of indecent assault and not guilty on one count of sexual assault. He faces 5 years in prison.
Before the jury entered the courtroom, Justice Paulette Garnett instructed the gallery that she wouldn't tolerate any displays of emotion or comments, regardless of the outcome.
As jury foreman Michael Grant read the verdicts, there was silence in the courtroom.
After the jury had been dismissed and Garnett retired, the complainant in the sexual assault case broke down and had to be comforted by supporters.
I don’t understand Canada. Apparently indecent assault is no longer a crime there. The judge had to prosecute Hansen under laws that existed when the crime took place.

Hansen faces another trail for sexual interference and sexual exploitation. I wonder how many of his supporters still stand by him?

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I know how a pretty girl feels

I had a chance to visit the aptly name walking street in downtown Suzhou today. It’s called the walking street because one cannot drive on it. It makes sense really. I wish all things were so simple in China .

I had a wonderful guide. She took me to the best silk shop in Suzhou. My wife will be happy. They make the silk products in Suzhou, the shop offers an amazing array of products. I was after a scarf. After a small fashion show, I settled on two designs, both unique. We haggled via my guide. She was a natural. I noticed a small crowd gathering around us as we shopped. Everyone’s eyes were on me. A few people followed as we walked outside. They watched as I got in the van.  Sometimes they pointed, but they always stared.

At our next stop we were on the walking street proper, everyone stopped what they were doing to look at me. Heads turned, hushed comments were mixed with the occasional cat call. I realized this must be what it is like to be a pretty girl or a celebrity. Everyone takes a brief break from their lives to live a minute or two of my life. It felt odd.

I bought tea. Flowing tea, it tastes wonderful and packs a little show in each glass. My wife and daughter-in-law will love it. As we left I was assaulted by salesmen who stalk the street looking for easy sales. They pulled, they prodded, they offered huge discounts on fake famous brands that fall apart five minutes after purchase. As we walked, the pedal taxis competed for my business and joked about my girth. A chicken vendor tried to pull me into his stall as a young girl made a quick dart in to pat my belly. All the while people stopped what they were doing to watch me walk past. China is such a wonderful pain in the ass.

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Where did Mojoey go?

Sorry everyone. I went to China on a business trip and found it impossible to update my blog. The government blocks blogger, Facebook, and Twitter. I was able to get to Gmail a few times, but even that was spotty. The last time I visited China in 2007, everything worked fine. Not now though, it is a total pain in the ass.

I’ve just now returned home. My check list was:


  • Kiss the wife
  • Pet the dog
  • Check the blog.

Time to eat and take a nap. I’ll catch up with a few posts soon.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A dead pigeon fell from the sky

An odd thing happed to me today. So odd as to be unique in my experience. While driving on the freeway at sunrise, a pigeon fell from a clear sky and landed dead on the hood of my truck with a wet thud. I was not moving at the time. I was admiring the view of downtown Los Angeles. The sunlight had an orange quality that is unique to this time of year. The buildings were glowing orange while offset by a lightly clouded purple sky. I was thinking the vista was worthy of a photo or a poem, and then thwack… a dead pigeon appeared on my hood. It was unnerving.

I drove along the freeway with the carcass on my hood until I cleared downtown. I pulled off near Hollywood to clean up in a gas station. A man watched me dispose of the bird. He said, “That’s a bad omen dude. I would go home and hide if I were you.” I smiled at his silly superstitious comment, the thought had not crossed my mind. I was too busy trying to figure out what killed the bird.

It is late on Tuesday as I write this. I’ve been home for an hour after a long day at work. I’ve had the whole day to think about how the pigeon died. My best guess is that it was hit by a vehicle in the fast moving opposing lanes and thrown into the air to land on my truck. It sucks to be a pigeon.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Rev. John Wielebski suspended

JohnWielebski Catholic priest John Wielebski of the Archdiocese of Baltimore was suspended from his role as pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord Church after allegations that he molested three young men in the late 80s.

The misconduct is alleged to have occurred while Wielebski was at St. Dominic Church in Baltimore, where he was assigned from 1985 to 1988, and Monsignor Clare J. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, where he was assigned from 1988 to 1991.

The archdiocese was investigating an allegation Wielebski had sexually abused a minor when it learned of additional allegations of sexual misconduct involving two young men, the archdiocese said.

There has been a change within the Catholic church. They cooperate with investigations and take immediate steps to remove the accused priest while he is under investigation. It only took them what… 1600 years?

Update 1/12/2009 –I found his profile

Our pastor, Father John T. Wielebski, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  After graduating high school, Fr. John enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  In 1966, he was ordered to Japan and then reassigned to South Vietnam a year later.  In May of 1968, Fr. John was wounded in battle and awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.  Upon his return to the States, he attended Marquette University in Milwaukee.  After graduation, he moved to Baltimore and joined a religious community. 

In 1978, after graduation from St. Mary's Seminary & University, Fr. John was ordained a Catholic Priest.  Since that time, his assignments have included the following: Chaplain, United states Penitentiary, Marion, IL.; Superior of a Monastery in Pikesville, MD; founder and director of Redeemer House, a home for the homeless in Baltimore; Director of the Youth Retreat House in Sparks, MD; and Pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Cumberland, MD.  Fr. John has been with us at Resurrection Parish since 1999.

Wielebski has an impressive history and some staunch supporters. I hope the allegations are untrue.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch on Google Maps

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rev. Gaston Smith raises ethical questions

gaston-smith_web I understand the concept of crime and punishment. I’s not my main concern. I’m into justice and accountability. A criminal need not spend time in prison if there are alternatives that includes accountability and redress. I don’t mean slapping a felon with community service, especially if that person was a moral leader. I mean real accountability, like the loss of ones leadership position until such time that they can prove the issue is behind them.

I like the concept that some Christian churches have of requiring fallen leaders to go through a restoration process. In some cases, where the crimes are egregious, restoration is not possible. In others, it is the right thing to do. And I don’t mean the magic three month homosexuality cure we saw with Ted Haggard. I mean real restoration bent on repairing  the damage of a bad decision.

The case of Gaston Smith is a good example of my frustration on this issue. Smith stole $10 worth of grant money meant to help the needy in Liberty city. Despite his conviction, Smith will remain the president of his local Baptist Ministers Council and the pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. I scratch my head and wonder, what the hell is going on? Is this all just a family business with an emphasis on protecting Smith’s cash flows?

According to Sims, Smith offered to abide by whatever the group decided, including if the members saw his continued leadership as a detriment. Instead, he got a full-on endorsement from the assembled Black clergy, and from the moderator of another group, the Seaboard Baptist Assocation[sic], for whom Smith serves as a “vice moderator…” The moderator, Alphonso Jackson (another local pastor,) reportedly told the group the Seaboard association would stand by Smith, too.

What does this teach those who follow Pastor Gaston Smith? It teaches people to be out for number one. Screw the poor, screw the needed, its ok to pay your Las Vegas bar tab with $500 meant for the needy. It’s ok to lie, steal, and hustle the needed as long as you give a good account of yourself in the pulpit. How can Smith look his parishioners in the eyes and say, don’t steal? Hello… it’s in the 10 commandments and all. Don’t steal. If you can’t even keep this simple commandment, how can you teach it to others?

The real message must be, what one does is more important than what one says. Pastor Smith says don’t steal, but then steals $10K for himself and fails to used the $25k of  grant money to help anyone. His message is inauthentic. He must be held accountable. But how is he held accountable be the religious community? He keeps his job as a moral leader and his leadership role among his peers. It is hypocrisy of the highest order.

One last thing. Whenever I visit a church website and it has the happy smiling face of the pastor on each page I know at once that the church is all about the cult of the pastor. It’s a dead giveaway. Can you guess who’s face is all over the website for Friendship Missionary Baptist Church? Pass the collection plate. The pastor needs a new Bentley.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

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Pastor William Muwanguzi investigated

I am reading more stories out of Africa these days. I don’t know why, although I suspect that Google is sucking up more African based news sources. I know some of it stems from the recent media focus on American Christian meddling on the continent.

Pastor William Muwanguzi is under investigation for allegedly raping an 18-year-old student.

According to sources, the girl narrated her ordeal to another Pastor, who reported the matter to a minister. Subsequently, The New Vision learnt, the minister had ordered for a probe.

In an interview, the teenager, an orphan, alleged that she met Muwanguzi at his church in May where she had gone for financial help. “I had heard him over the radio saying that he could assist to people with financial difficulty,” the girl said, adding that Muwanguzi asked her to meet him ong Kabakanjagala Road in Mengo.

He allegedly drove her to a secluded place near Sseguku in Kampala, where he raped her.

If true, it’s a sad story, and a sad commentary too. American style Christianity an export. We own this, even if we don’t like to read about it.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Rev. Edgar Sepulveda arrested

Another catholic priest was arrested for molesting a young boy. Rev. Edgar Sepulveda was the priest at Maria Regina Parish in Mount Olive, Santa Teresa Mission in Beulaville and Santa Clara Mission in Magnolia.

Catholics are getting their act together.

EdgarSepulvedaThe Diocese received the allegation on September 9 when the Diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection was contacted by telephone. The Diocese immediately implemented its policies and procedures, which include reporting the allegation to the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. An investigation into the allegation is currently underway by civil authorities, which necessitates Father Sepulveda’s administrative leave at this time.

I would like to see Baptists follow suit. It’s unlikely though, they follow their own path and do not accept central authority. As I’ve had many Baptists tell me, “We don’t follow a pope!”

Linked at Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pastor Paul Meeks to stand trial

Tatum, New Mexico is a small town. Pastor Paul Meeks arrest did not make an appearance  in the local press, perhaps because there is none.  He’s accused of molesting his daughters.

According to court documents, Paul Meeks told investigators in a videotaped interview that he had in-appropriately touched his young girls.

Not much to go on really. All we really know is that he will stand trial.

Linked at Hypocrisy Watch on Google Watch.

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Student Leader Jordan Vernon arrested

Why do churches allow 20-year-olds to work in any type of a leadership capacity? Why do they continue to allow  them to work in the same capacity despite allegations of inappropriate behavior? Student leader Jordan Clint Vernon of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho stands accused of the usual litany of sex related charges.

jordan-vernon Vernon was arrested last week, and is specifically accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl, a 17-year-old girl, and inappropriately touching another 12-year-old.

Why was he a youth leader? Oh wait, the tag line for Real Life Ministries is “where Jesus and real life meet.” What could be more “real life” than a good old fashion rape? I bet it teaches valuable life lessons.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

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Pastor Dieugrand Jacques arrested

DieugrandJacques2Pastor Dieugrand Jacques of the New Alliance Haitian Church was arrested for a crime he is alleged to have committed in 2007. It’s a crime that makes one say ewwwww.

According to the sheriff's report, the Boynton Beach girl was having problems with her boyfriend…

…Jacques' conversations with her grew more intimate; he asked if she was having sex with her boyfriend and offered details about his sex life with his wife.

…under the guise of sexual counseling, that Jacques both fondled and kissed the girl, she alleged. She said he asked her to come with him to his bedroom, but she refused.

The girl was 15 at the time. Like I said, ewwwww. I am so glad I do not have daughters. I would put my foot up this guy’s ass for even thinking about talking to my kids about sex, let alone using his screwed up version of counseling by way of demonstration. Pastors should stick to talking about the bible and keep their fingers off our kids.

Linked at Hypocrisy Watch on Google Maps.

Pastor Dennis Reedy must stand trial

Pastor Dennis Reedy’s story is one of the most bizarre I’ve read in a few months. He allegedly wrote a piece of homoerotic fiction involving two 13-year-old neighborhood boys, and then gave it to them. Oh wait, I forgot the part where he groped them first. Silly me.

dennisreedyA judge threw out his plea deal. He was expecting time served and probation. Instead he will face a jury and the possibility of a much longer possible sentence.


“(Lunsford) felt the plea agreement of time served apparently did not reflect the nature of the offenses,” Mason later said.

But wait, there’s more. Reedy was caught in a public bathroom having sex with a 16-year-old boy.

Police say mall security watched Dennis N. Reedy, 65, walk into the handicapped bathroom near Radio Shack on July 14 with a teenage boy, sparking suspicion, especially when repeated knocks on the door went unanswered.

I somehow missed Dennis Reedy. I don’t understand how, but hey, nobody is perfect. There are so many of these cases that I loose track. I've got seven queued up on index cards sitting on my desk. That’s something like four hours of work.

Reedy was the pastor for Christ United Methodist Church in Tyrone PA. I don’t think he working there any longer.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Angie the Antitheist and the meaning of life

I wish I had the answer, but all I have are the things that bring meaning to my life, my family, art, and friendships. I’ve been thinking about it since last night when I watched Angie the Antitheist’s video called What’s the point? She responds to the question, “what is the point of living with God?” Since I reject the notion of God, I don’t answer that question. I’ve always interpreted the question as, “what is the meaning of life?”

I played a game of disc golf at sunrise this morning. It was a beautify clear Southern California morning and about 70 degrees. As I walked the park with three of my friends, I was struck once again by how simple my answers are to the big question, “what is the meaning of life?” For me it’s family, art, and friendships. Simply waking beside my wife or walking in the park with my friends is enough. I’m alive to enjoy the company of friends and family, and to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us all. It’s love really. My heart is full of love. That’s the meaning of my life.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Pastor Kenneth Terrell arrested

KENNETH_TERRELL Peaches, religion and pedophiles, Bloomingdale Georgia sounds like a wonderful place to raise a family. Just keep your kids away from church. Pastor Kenneth Terrell was arrested on charges that he molested a girl under the age of 5.

Terrell has a history which includes a previous charge of child abuse. He’s moved his business, New Harvest International Ministries Church, several times. I’m detecting a pretty high sleaze factor here.

According to criminal records, 45-year-old Kenneth Terrell has been in and out of prison since 1982 and has at least ten prior convictions.

Terrell has done time for burglary, attempted burglary, possession of marijuana, possession of a firearm by convicted felon, and the list goes on.

But hey, when you run your own business the rubes have no right to question your authority. It’s the perfect scam for a conman.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Rev. Alejandro Flores discovers he cannot fly

AlejandroFlores Rev. Alejandro Flores was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy a few days ago. The Catholic church removed Flores as vicar of Holy Family Church in Shorewood. They also removed his priestly faculties and moved him to neutral housing. The diocese contacted the Department of Children and Family Services. Flores decided to attempt suicide. He failed.

Flores was taken to a diocese residence on Center Street where he would be kept from contact with children and "closely monitored."

"That was something we volunteered to do based on the serious nature of the allegations," Sartain said, when asked if anything in Flores' statements or behavior indicated he needed to be monitored.

The press calls it a “Balcony fall”. I think “Balcony fail” is closer to the truth.

Police reports indicate a responding officer walked up to the balcony while firefighters were treating the injured priest and found "a jacket, cell phone, glasses, large knife and a bottle of liquor" there. Those items were processed by an evidence technician.

It’s such a sad story. After reading it, I found some hope in that they acted swiftly to protect the child and did what they were supposed  to do with regard to legal reporting. My hopes were dashed by the article’s comments. Citizen55 posted the following tripe. I call it the typical “what about the pedophile” speech.

Bishop Sartain seems to be more concerned about how to spin this with the media. But what did he do for Fr. Alex ? Did they even bother to council him or try to evaluate his mental and emotional state after they just took everything away from him ? I doubt it. Regardless of the accusations made against him Fr. Alex deserved better treatment than what this Bishop laid on him. It is shameful and disgusting from what I have seen the last few days from the Joliet Diocese on this and the Bishop also needs to personally apologoze to the people of Holy Family Parish for the way in which Fr. Alex was treated

I guess they could have locked up Fr. Alex and kept him on some kind of suicide watch. Of course, that assumes some level of guilt. I don’t know if that fair.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

A dirty window in Carson

Dirty window in Carson

I shot this today as I waited for coffee at a Restaurant in Carson, CA. I was struck by the odd lighting and shadows. It’s a phone booth. but so dirty the light can barely shine through.

I don’t know if it is beautiful. To me it is interesting. speaking of beauty, I found an interesting video on beauty by Philosopher Rodger Scruton. Check it out.

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Pastor Dean Tarkington arrested

Lubbock Texas is a scary place. Over the years I’ve written about clergy sexual abuse, Lubbock has surfaced over and over again. Pastor Dean Richard Tarkington of the now defunct Word of Faith Christian Center was arrested for sending a video of himself to a 16-year-old girl in Louisiana.

Police began investigating Tarkington early last month when Louisiana authorities relayed a report from parents that their daughter had gotten the video on her computer. Hester said the computer was seized in a Dec. 15 search and the video found.

What kind of video you ask? Why lewd of course.

Tarkington, who had been in church leadership positions for a decade, is accused of sending in November the lewd video to the teen from a church computer…

Which bring me back to Lubbock. What the hell Lubbock?

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Banned books

My favorite Atheist blogger vjack has hit the nail on the head with his post Banning books to protect a delusion. As I went down the list of banned and/or challenged books, I was struck by how many I had read. The third title, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, hit me pretty hard. 30 years ago my high school English teacher pulled me out of a self defeating funk by challenging me to read the book. It changed my life. When I think back on the important turning points in my life, this book, and my subsequent analysis of the text, changed what thought about myself.

The story is simple. I was an underachiever. A solid low C student who was perfectly happy to surf as much as possible and coast through school. Plus, I grew up in the shadows of people who outperformed my intellectually. My friends were smart. I was the slow kid. I believed it too.

Mrs. Jolliffe locked me in a room and made me read The Grapes of Wrath. After a few chapters. I could not put it down. She pushed me to analyze the text, and finally to write a term paper explaining my insights. When she handed out the grades, I had the only A. My friends all ended up with B’s and C’s. I realized I could think and if I applied myself I could do well.

The story did not end there. I visited a church that was on a book and album burning tear. The asked for books and music to donate to a bonfire at a youth group meeting I attended with a girl I was dating. The only book I had was The Grapes of Wrath. It was sticking out of my back pocket. They went on about it’s profanity and evil sexual influences. They wanted me to burn it, or at least throw it away. I wanted no part of it. I jumped in my VW and went night surfing instead. To this day I associate the event with the start of my atheistic awakening.

Mrs. Jolliffe retires this year after 37 years of teaching. She’s taught both of my sons. They both love to read.

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Sitting in traffic with my camera

Sitting in traffic It's been hard to shoot this week. The days are short. My time outside is limited to half an hour at sunrise.

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Starting 2010 with podcasts

Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to pass the time while I’m driving. I posted on The Tolkien Professor podcast recently. A few of you asked what else on my podcast playlist. Here are my top 1o (in no particular order).

  1. The Tolkien Professor (my current fav)
  2. Slate Poetry Podcast
  3. The Non-Prophets (crack for Atheists)
  4. Behind the Grammar (voice like butter)
  5. The Moth Podcast
  6. Writing Excuses (hilarious, witty, short)
  7. PRI: Selected shorts podcast
  8. Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac
  9. Manager tools (omg – best advice ever)
  10. The Atheist Experience (don’t hate me because I’m a caller)

I’m curious. What do you listen too?

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Pastor Edwin House arrested

Pastor Edwin House and his wife were arrested on December 31. Pastor house was charged with five counts of lewd molestation, his wife is charged with child neglect. Pastor House stands accused of inappropriately touching his foster daughters when they were aged 7 to 9.

She told investigators Edwin House laid on top of her while she was sleeping and put his hand down her shirt. He also put his hands on her chest while she was in his car, she reported.

The girl was removed from the home and taken into protective custody, court records show.

Lovenia House told investigators her husband touched the girl’s chest to teach her how boys might act if she continued to dress provocatively.

Of course, this school of thinking leads to teaching about sex education by demonstrating the act. What the hell was he thinking?

Pastor Edwin House is the pastor at the Church of God in Christ in Crescent. There is no hope that he will be removed from the pulpit. He founded the church. He plans to continue as if nothing happened.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Introducing Coming Out of the Covenant

It’s my pleasure to introduce a new member of the Atheist Blogroll, Coming Out of the Covenant. Enjoy!

Coming Out of the Covenant is a new but growing site that focuses on the issues of being a new (or just newly open) atheist, remarking on the highs, the lows and the humor that often accompanies the transition to seeing the world through atheist eyes. 

We seek to explore and discuss ways that atheists might hang on to old traditions/cultural ties without feeling like a hypocrite. We also share stories of breaking the news to our families, reasons for becoming an atheist, and the challenges of navigating our world without religion.

Come check it out and help us grow, and support everyone's "Coming Out"!!! 

Stop in and say hi.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Youth Pastor Robert Weber arrested

RobertWeber Baptist youth pastor Robert Weber was arrested December 29, 2009 for allegedly engaging in sex with a 15-year-old girl.

The indictment details three sexual encounters Weber allegedly had with the teen in August and October last year.

Webber was arrested late last month and posted bond the same day.

This super creepy 44-year-old youth pastor… why are they always 44? Anyway, he was re-assigned by his church. It bothers me when they reassign clergy at the same church. His victim attends the same church. At a minimum they should suspend him until the issue is resolved. But they won’t. As Baptists they will circle the wagons to fight us outsiders and put the victim through hell in the process. Righteous idiots till the end…

Robert Weber was the youth pastor at the Second Baptist church of Odessa, Texas. He is married with two children, a son and daughter. His church removed any mention of him from their website, which is typical, but Google cache remembers all.

Robert Weber joined the Staff of Second Baptist in 2004 as our Minister of Youth and Family Ministries. He is originally from Long Island, New York, but for most of his life Texas has been his home.   Robert, a graduate of Howard Payne University, was involved in other careers before he felt God's call to work with students. Robert is married…

I’m not going to drag is wife and kids into this, so no names.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Pastor Phillip Joubert charged again

Pastor Phillip Joubert is a bit of a celebrity here on Deep Thoughts. My original post on this alleged pedophile promoted a high volume of hate mail and a few interesting comments.  Joubert is facing a new charge that he punched on a young girl.

A minister charged by New York City police with raping a teenage relative has been arraigned in a Connecticut court on allegations he assaulted a 13-year-old girl at his Norwalk home.

The Rev. Phillip Joubert appeared in Norwalk Superior Court on Monday to face charges of felony risk of injury to a minor and misdemeanor assault. A judge issued a protective order barring Joubert from having any contact with the girl.

Things don’t look so good for Pastor Jourbert. Child rape, child abuse… It’s just does not sound like something a man of God should do. He should have known better, or not.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

Favorite song 0f 2009

Based on my iTunes play count, Spoon’s Don’t Make Me a Target was my number one song for 2009. I played it over 130 times.

This video is a fan tribute. I’ve come to enjoy these, they are often well made and entertaining. Or it you prefer, here is the band live, filmed by a fan.

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Pastor Rodney Booth loses appeal

RodneyKeithBrook I guess Pastor Rodney Keith Boothe does not like life in prison too much. And by life, I mean his 100 year prison sentence for raping children. Boothe lost his appeal. That’s got to hurt.

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled Rodney Keith Boothe got a fair trial in 2008 when he was convicted of abusing the boys over a two-year period.

The court upheld Boothe's conviction on more than two dozen crimes, but threw out his conviction on one count of trying unsuccessfully to have intercourse with the younger boy, who was 13 and 14 when the assaults occurred from 2005 to 2007.

I’ve got Boothe and Obituary as a Google news search. I’m betting life is prison will equate to 3-to-5 years.

Don’t give my an grief over the crassness of my comment. Booth raped children. He gets to reap the reward he deserves.

Posted to Hypocrisy Watch on Google Maps

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

LOTR again and again

Tolkien J.R.R Tolkien had a birthday on January 3. To celebrate, I picked up my well worn copy of The Lord of the Rings. This will mark the 30th time I’ve read it since I first picked it up in 1974.

Now don’t judge me, but I qualify as a real fan. I was a member of the Numinorian Society in high school, so was my wife. Our first real date was a day spent helping put on the Hobbiton Bucklebury fair on midsummer's eve in 1979. We were in a park near the ocean in Redondo Beach, helping a marionette group stage a puppet show for the neighborhood kids.

Through the years I’ve waited patently through two inadequate premiers of The Hobbit only to be blown away by the LOTR movies. But even with the movies, I still enjoy reading the books.

I impressed my new daughter-in-law with an answer to the LOTR trivia question, What color are Tom Bombadil’s boots? I blurted out ‘yellow’ as if everyone should know the answer. My trivia skills have slipped recently. I could not recall the names of the the dwarves from The Hobbit. I need to re-read that too.

My son turned me on to a podcast by the Tolkien Professor. I’m hooked. I started listening  yesterday, and continued  today while I walked barefoot in a warm SoCal park during my lunch hour.  It’s what we do here in Los Angeles during winter.

It’s time to read.

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Pastor Lloyd Sartain arrested

On Lloyd Sartain of New Covenant Faith Church in Independence, MO was arrested on federal weapons Charges.

"This has been how many years he's been living a lie, hiding behind God to bring people in and take their money and use them for whatever he needs," said Schaeffle, who says that investigators have hit just the tip of the iceberg.

"The way it was like a cult and the way he did control everybody, and he wasn't a great guy and if he had guns, you know something's not right," said Schaeffle. "What kind of Pastor needs to have guns and a pile of cash?"

A big pile of cash, guns, and a cult… the news out of Missouri is a little disconcerting.  The comments on the article are are a little more so.

from Indepmogal

Concerned neighbor and Lindsay, Is he a bad man? I have heard HORRIBLE things about him but found it interesting that people actually posted about it. From the sounds of it Lindsay, God did answer your prayers and I pray that he continues to help you through whatever may have happened to you.

From Russ

That man cost me my relationship with my mother and sisters over the last 17 years. He is a bad man! I am a Chritian, and dared to stand up to him and was quickly "cut off" from contact with the rest of my family, who were members there. He is a serious controller, and leads by fear. All who have been hurt by him should come foward, and I beleive they will!

From Abraham Fiers

I'm glad to hear he's in jail. All of those years of physical and emotional abuse almost made me commit suicide. I know im not the only one and im very sorry for the others. He ruined my relationships with my sisters and brother and made me feel like I was worthless. He always talked bad about my father(whom passed away in September of 2007) and told me I was gonna be a failure like him. He deserves to rot in jail for life. He's ruined thousands upon thousands of lives and scarred others like myself. I can never forget what he did to me and how he made me feel. I just pray that justice is served.

It’s like the whole community gave a big sigh of relief.

Linked on Hypocrisy Watch and Google Maps.

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Child porn charges dropped against minister

Deep in the heart of Texas, an Elm Mott Church of Christ minister named Henry Edigington had child porn charges dropped after a jury deadlocked 9-3 for acquittal. It is nice to see that three people had the fortitude to stand their ground.

I don’t get a chance to say a minister was found innocent, and it does not look like I will get the chance to today. Henry Edigington was in possession of child pornography, this we know is a fact. His excuse was that he was conducting an anti-porn crusade, the only evidence for this was his porn collection and a conversation with a fellow pastor. He’s since given up his crusade.

Edgington, 65, who has since moved to Brookeland in East Texas, and his attorney, Seth Sutton, of Waco, both made it clear Monday that Edgington has abandoned his stated mission to cleanse the Internet of child pornography.

“We are going to support the crusade against child pornography through prayer only now,” Sutton said. “He is done with that crusade.”

Ha! Does anyone believe this? I don’t think prayer is going to work, but it might be wise if he kept the content filter working on his home computer.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Introducing General Systems Vehicle

General Systems Vehicle is new to the Atheist Blogroll. The author provided an introduction.

General Systems Vehicle is a depository for all the things I don't talk about in person but nonetheless think & read about (probably a little too much). Mostly it's about religion and how its practice influences the world (all too often detrimentally), but now and again I'll find an entertaining tangent to explore. I don't talk about these things in person because the people I spend my life with would either all more or less agree with me (it's boring as hell talking to people who agree with you all the time) or just don't find them interesting. A smaller minority would probably throw stones at me. I don't like stones.

I started General Systems Vehicle (formerly known as Ethics Gradient) in order to simply express whatever was in me that needed expression. Not necessarily because I was searching for an audience, but because I've always expressed myself in writing. Blogging not only makes it easier but also has the potential to expose my work to evaluation and feedback from others - you don't get that when just scrawling away in a notebook in the dark. So read, enjoy & do leave feedback if inspired to do so.


Drop in and say hi.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

My best photos from 2009

Toomanytibbles inspired me to put my best photos from 2009 in a YouTube video. Her 365 project blew me away. I made my video this morning. Here it goes.

Tribbs turned me on to another one of her friends who did the same thing. MakumburaPhotos’ best of video has lots of birds. I love it.

Birding and photography

DSC_5385 I went birding on the Wetland preserve at Bolsa Chica yesterday. The Bolsa Chica conservancy maintains the wetlands. They do a fine job too. My trip yesterday was hurried. I only had an hour to shoot. Still, I produced 130 pictures, 5 or 6 of which were nice. I was fortunate enough to have somebody point out the rare American Bittern. I’ve never seen one before, even in captivity. My confirmed sightings are listed below.DSC_5395

  • Greater Scaup
  • Ruddy Duck
  • American Bittern - Rare!
  • Blue Winged Teal
  • Bufflehead
  • Ring Billed Gull
  • Long-Billed Curlew
  • Snowy Egret
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Northern Pintail
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • American Avocet

    I need a better lens. My cheep 70 to 300mm is too slow for good work and lacks image stabilization. I’ll make do with what I have though. It is fun to shoot birds even with inferior equipment.

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    Envy brings out the best in me

    Long time Atheist blogger Toomanytibbles is an amazingly talented photographer. She’s put together a YouTube video of a year (2009) in pictures based on her 365 project on Flickr. It blows my mind that she does not work as a professional photographer. She has real talent, talent that I envy.

    I spoke with her last night via IM. She paraphrased a quote from a great photographer, “one great shot in a career is an achievement.” She has 365 very good shots in her collection, and a few that I would call great. 2009 was a good year for her, but not so good for me. I figure that I have maybe 10 picture from 2009 that are any good. I plan to put them together soon and post them here.

    Thanks for the inspiration Tribbs.

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    Pastor Steve Hilman arrested

    Steve_Hilman Pastor Steve Hilman likes to shot his gun. Unfortunately, he allegedly does so indiscriminately.

    Carter County jail officials said Hilman was arrested on two counts of reckless endangerment on December 17th.  The Elizabethton Star reported Hilman fired a revolver at car parked in his nephew’s driveway.

    Jail officials said Hilman was arrested again on December 29th.  The Johnson City Press reported Hilman nearly shot his nephew in the foot with a pistol.

    Guns are not toys. In the hands of the ignorant, guns can kill. I would think a pastor would understand this. But then again, he is a Baptist.

    Liked on Hypocrisy Watch at Google Maps.

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