Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Youth Pastor Emile Boutin arrested

It looks like Roman Catholic youth pastor Rev. Emile Boutin was arrested for touching another man’s junk in a public park. The behavior is known as cruising. I’m thinking Boutin might be gay. Does that make him a bad youth pastor? I don’t think so. It does not matter now. His lack of impulse control has landed him in hot water.

The Rev. Emile Boutin, is a youth pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, Mass.

Technorati Tags: ,

Youth Pastor Matthew Nichols arrested

Deemed a danger to the community, Lutheran youth pastor Matthew Nichols of Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, was denied bond after his arrest for possession of child pornography. The most disturbing aspect of this case is that Nichols has a criminal past involving sexual activity with minors in Pennsylvania. Which process failed this time?

ICE made the bust.

ICE began investigating Nichols in October 2009 after receiving information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about an email address that had been used to transmit child pornography which was traced to Nichols' home and Bethlehem Evangelical Luther Church. The New Mexico Attorney General's Office, the New Mexico State Police and FBI assisted ICE in the case

His church is standing behind him.

Jerry Ethridge, president of its board of directors, said in an videotaped interview posted on the Los Alamos Monitor website that Nichols will remain on paid leave until the matter is resolved.

"Matt is a very well-performing employee of the congregation," he said. "All indications from both parents and all the children (are) that during that period of time, there's been no ... inappropriate action by Matt."

Background checks performed by the church did not show Nichols’ criminal history.

Ethridge says the church consistently runs background checks on church members and parents who chaperon children and somehow Nichols had passed two such tests without raising any red flags.

"Even in the background investigation and the interviews with him and the references none of that information came up," he said.

What’s a church to do? For starters they gutted their website. Most links are broken, and no news or statements are available. They have not disclosed their vetting process. We don’t know if vetting included a legitimate background check or if they were simply googling a name. And finally, we know that the church is protecting it’s pastor. I want to know why.

Hat tip: SLOG

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Area 51


We buried my dad today in Area 51. It was supposed to be a simple memorial for our family. It ended up as a cluster. Fortunately, the people who work at Riverside National Cemetery did everything they could to help us.

Forest Lawn Cypress botched the arrangements. We showed up to find no memorial scheduled. Instead, they were planning a quick internment. My mom was distraught, my sisters were pissed and determined to salvage the day. You don’t want to get my sisters pissed, they are formidable adversaries when friendly, when pissed, oh man…

The staff at the cemetery stepped up. Edna, a coordinator working out of the main office, worked quickly to arrange a graveside service. She was the recipient of many hugs and handshakes for her effort. I plan to write her a thank you letter.DSC_7092

We did the internment service without clergy, without honor guard, and without much preparation. My sister Kim read a poem she wrote earlier in the day. Her son said a heartfelt prayer. Her daughter read some inspirational words spoken at the funeral of my grandmother. Our service was short and heartfelt. I felt good about it.

The burial was an unemotional event for me. I wondered at this after. How could I go from an emotional wreck last Friday to a stable and solid son today? The only thing I can come up with is that the healing process has started.

I can see quite a few trips out to Riverside in my future. Mom will need a ride. I have a history at that cemetery. While in the Air Force in the early 80s, I gave military honors to over 400 serviceman as part of the ceremonial Honor Guard. I felt like a man at the time. I saw the Honor Guard today. They looked like boys. Time moves quickly.

David Maisel’s Library of Dust

David Maisel is a photographer I follow. He put together a fascinating project called Library of Dust recently. It’s coming to the UCR/California Museum of Photography on August 31, 2010.  I plan to catch the show.

Library of Dust depicts individual copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of patient from a state-run psychiatric hospital. The patients died at the hospital between 1883 (the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum) and the 1970’s; their bodies have remained unclaimed by their families.

FLYP did a profile of David Maisel in 2009. There is a video page two that is interesting.

I find the whole concept of anonymous canned human ashes to be a good metaphor for the existential futility and singular loneliness of life. Plus I think the photos are cool.

Technorati Tags: ,

Youth Pastor Jermel Manns arrested

JermelManns A convicted Illinois sex offender found work as a youth pastor in his uncle’s Cocoa, Florida church. Jermel Manns was using the name Jermel Beckford while working with the church’s children. His youth group called him Pastor J. He was arrested for sexting a teenager from his youth group. His uncle claims no knowledge of Jermel’s past conviction for molesting a teenage boy.

The senior pastor at the church, and Jermel's uncle, Errol Beckford, said he knew nothing of his past and was stunned to hear of his arrest.

“I says, what? Are you kidding me? He was a good pastor. He had 75 kids here. He built it up and they loved him," Beckford said.

If Errol Beckford knew nothing of Jermel’s past, then why did he let an adult male assume a new identity when working at the church? I think it’s possible that uncle Errol knew what his nephew hid in his past. It’s actually a reasonable explanation. Of course, I doubt the pastor would admit it because that would make him at least partially responsible for Jermel’s crimes.   Pastor Erro Manns is obligated to protect his congregation’s children from sexual predators. I’m betting there was no background check.

The church involved is the Celebration Tabernacle Church in Cocoa, Florida.

New salty chocolate

Despite harassment from my disc golf buddies, I attended an indy craft show in Long Beach over the weekend put on by the good folks at Hand Made Brigade. Besides picking up some outstanding ceramics, I found some yummy chocolate. The C Salt Gourmet puts out a sea salt encrusted mixture of chocolate goodness that I find wonderful. I’m not a big chocolate or sweats eater. In fact, I don’t ever go out of my way for the sweet stuff. But the salty sweetness of her pistachio cherry chocolate with sea salt & caramel hooked me on the first taste. It really is too bad she does not sell and ship from her website. You’ll have to visit her booth and the next show or stop in at one of the shops that sell her chocolate.

I did not have the presence of mind to take any photo’s. I was too busy saying “Ooh, tasty.”

She has a blog: Hand Made With Love.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Introducing On the way to Ithaca

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, On the way to Ithaca.

Hi guys and gals of the atheist community, my name is Evan and I've been running the On the way to Ithaca blog since November 2009, which Mojoey was kind enough to add to the Atheist Blogroll recently. I've decided to come to terms with the atheistic worldview 2 years ago, after an intense struggle with my faith and after making a brief pit-stop on Deism and Agnosticism on the way. I must admit it wasn't easy since I was born and live in Greece and the Greek national identity is tightly interwoven with Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but here I am in any case.

I decided to start my blog after I had decided to read the Bible (the original Septuagint) again for a second time after my deconversion and write my thoughts on it (it's an ongoing project on my blog). I'm also translating interesting articles and news from english sources for my fellow Greek Atheists who aren't comfortable with reading from the original and I'm involved with the Greek Atheists Collective Blog. The blog is written exclusively in Greek (for now), but if anyone has any idea for an article that would interest english-speakers, drop me a line. I believe that is enough about me.

I'd also like to extend a request to other Atheists who live and blog in the greater Balkan area (that is, Albania, FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Moldova) I'm attempting to create a resource (a blogroll of sorts, but not necessarily limited to blogs; any type of online material will do) which can be used can locate like-minded individuals in our corner of Europe. Whether you write in English or your native language, feel free to drop me a line at Of course, I'd appreciate any help in my effort to get this message out in the Web. Feel free to repost my message on your blogs, if you wish, and thank you in advance for your assistance and time.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

Technorati Tags: Atheism,The Atheist Blogroll

Monday, June 28, 2010

New music: The Colorful Quiet

I found Clown Shoes by the colorful quiet because they followed me on Twitter. They are a new band to me but they’ve been around for a while. Check out their Myspace page for more info.


Technorati Tags: ,,,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Conquering Stress Eating


I’ve had a problem with food for a long time, longer than I care to remember. The pattern is always the same. I get stressed, I eat. I get upset, I eat. Or, I get pissed about being heavy, and I eat. I think I finally broke the behavior.

I’ve had difficult time over the last two months. I was working from China on a difficult project and under a ton of stress. This alone is enough to make me stress eat. Then my dad took a turn for the worse and eventually died. I would have normally eaten large amounts of comfort food to cope, but I did not. Something had changed.

I think my son helped. He dropped over a hundred pounds in less than one year. He’s healthy, in great shape, and enthusiastic about his weight loss method. It’s simple. He counts calories and gets exercise.

My wife and I started counting calories a few months ago. We use She’s lost 25 pounds already and looks great. I’ve lost about 17. Given I was on the road and under a ton of stress, I’m pretty happy. Once I learned how many calories were in my food, I set a easy to achieve daily calorie goal. I’ve managed to stay under my goal on all but a very few days. I’m on track with my weight loss goal of 5 pounds per month. That helps me get through the next day.

Concentrating on calorie content makes me think about what I’m eating. Once I think about it, I usually choose a healthy or lower calorie option. When confronted with the desire to eat, I usually make the right choice. For the first time in my adult life, I’m losing weight without doing something stupid. This helped when the stress came. I made the right call on food, plus I was able to say no. There was no massive overeating. Instead of a large heavy meal, I chose a smaller version, or a healthy alternative. I did not gain weight, which makes me a happy man.

Hot tip: the Eat This, Not That books are helpful.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Lenny Kravitz and choir

I love music.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Time heals all wounds

They say time heals all wounds. I sure hope so. My wounds seem to be getting worse instead of better. I don’t know if it is dealing with the loss of my father or the endless things that must be done to prepare for a funeral. For my small part, I’ve written the obituary, put together the media presentations for the funeral, picked the music, and wrote the eulogy. These tasks seemed small to me when I started them, but I’ve found them to be among the hardest things I’ve ever attempted. The emotional content is just too high. I’ve had no time for music, no time for photography, no time even for poetry, and I always read poetry. I even managed to skip blogging for a few days. I need to get back to it. It helps the healing.

I want to thank those of you who have offered your words of comfort and condolences. Your words helped me through the dark difficult days immediately after my dad’s death and have sustained me while I’ve toiled away at my various tasks. More importantly, you made me laugh and smile at a time when I desperately needed it.

I also want to thank my dear friends Al & Richard. I felt the love when you both reached out to me. Thanks for the thoughts.

And Brian, my friend and boss, I owe you in too many ways to count. Thank you for allowing me the time I needed to get through this. I will never forget your support.

More blogging to follow…

Technorati Tags: ,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Death and euthanasia

My dad died on Saturday at 8:20 am. His family attended his passing. He took his last breath while a loving nurse named Mary held his hand, kissed his forehead, and told him that everything would be ok. DadMy mother, exhausted after a week long vigil, held his hand while she slept. We woke her as he died.

I felt a sense of relief in his death that I had not anticipated, and guilt too. Why was I relived? I struggled with the question for the next hour. My emotions got the better of me. I could not talk. I could barely make eye contact with those around me. I grieved while struggling with my demons, but it felt good. It felt right.

My dad had actually died about two day before. At least his mind had died as his body dealt with the business of shutting down. We watched every minute of it. I’m happy we were there for him. I’m happy he did not die alone. But I have to wonder, what is the point of a lingering death? Why is it impermissible to help people die once they’ve reached the point of no return? Why is euthanasia considered unethical and against the law?

There was a point when the doctors said the end was near. They actually told us the process of dying had started. They gave us a paper that told us what to expect. The stages of death are predicable. And once they start, you know it. Having experienced the process, I think there is a point where giving an overdose of Nurse Marymorphine is the humane thing to do. It’s against the law, but it’s against the law at least partially for religious reasons. I don’t think that’s right. I think I’ve found another cause to fight for.

And Mary – you have my gratitude and thanks. I stand in awe of your love and kindness. The world is a better place for your selfless acts of love.

Technorati Tags: ,,

The needle and the damage done

How many of you have known a heroin addict? I’ve known a few. The drug is insidious. There are worse drugs, but few rival it for its long-term hooks. Users cannot get away from it. People who sell it, well lets just say, I have no respect for them. If a pastor were to sell heroin, that would be evil.

Robert Lee McQueen, a pastor at the Burning Bush Missionary Church and the owner of McQ Bail Bonds, was convicted Thursday after a four-day trial.

McQueen was convicted of one count of conspiring to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, three counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin, and two counts of distribution of heroin. He was also found guilty of possession of a firearm.

Think about it. The ideal of a Christian pastor contrasted with the imperfection of a convicted drug dealer. How does one get from serving people to preying on them? It blows this non-believer’s mind.

Heroin is evil. I know. Neal Young says it best.

Introducing Arnamuss

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, Aranamuss.

I am the creator of the blog Aranamuss. This is a brand new blog, but I already have quite a few posts up and quite a few in the making - I intend to make this a very active blog.

The main focus of this blog is going to be on book reviews, atheist news, and philosophical musings. There will also likely be some posts about skepticism and science. I hope to bring some fresh insight to some issues, and get people thinking. I hope you check it out!

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

Technorati Tags: Atheism,The Atheist Blogroll

Friday, June 18, 2010

The things I cannot do

I called our family pastor today. I asked him to come to the hospital and pray with my family. I do not consider this an odd request. Most of my extended family are Christians and with my dad near death, it was time to gather the family in prayer. Our family pastor is one of my best friends. I’ve known him for years. My family trusts him and at a time like this, you call people you trust.

Pastor Brad prayed for my dad. The room prayed with him. I watched. I always watch. Something deep inside me knows that I am not the guy who can offer spiritual comfort nor can I partake of it. I don’t understand it. I simply watch. After I hugged my wife. She provides all the comfort I need.

I called Pastor Brad during the 3rd quarter of game 7 of the NBA playoffs. I asked him to come, he did without any hesitation. He is a good man. I owe him. Next Saturday at sunrise I will play a round of discgolf with him. I intend to let him win.

I’m asked frequently about how I feel about prayer. My response is always the same. Prayer is something Christians do. I don’t think about it much. If I am in a situation where prayer is necessary, I choose respectful silence. It goes along with my live and let live philosophy. I don’t care about what other people do as long as the don’t compel me to participate or try to legislate their beliefs.

I don’t believe prayer delivers miracles, but I’ve witnessed it providing comfort to people overcome by grief or facing death. Tonight, I watched my dad agree to pastor Brad’s request for prayer. During the prayer, I saw a smile come to his lips and the tension leave his face. It was one of his last moments of consciousness. Does prayer work? To be honest, I have to give a qualified yes. There is no metaphysical component to it. The words and the people who speak them provide comfort. Some people need that, some do not. Prayer does not comfort me.

It’s 1:15 am. My dad lingers on the edge of death. I’m writing a blog post.

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pastor Christopher Settlemoir arrested

Christopher_Settlemoi He must be a menace to society. Otherwise, why would Judge Mathew Sabaugh set a $1 million dollar cash bond and make him wear a GPS tether? Baptist pastor Christopher Settlemoir stands charged with sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy. He faces up to  life in prison.
The teen's mother went to the Warren Police Department last Thursday with text messages indicating the accused pastor allegedly had sexually assaulted her son. Settlemoir, who police say has been married for two years and has a 7-month-old daughter, turned himself in to police on Saturday, just prior to search warrants for the computers.
Settlemoir was the head pastor at Antioch Baptist Church and the principal of its school. The church and school website is down. It’s best to hide in these situations. Perhaps the public will forget.

Settlemoir is married with a new daughter. What a sad sad story.

Correction - Settlemoir was not the youth pastor, he was the head pastor.

Update 5/25/2011 - Pastor Chris Settlemoir sentenced

Youth pastor Efrain Caban arrested

EfranCaban If you are foolish enough to allow a youth pastor to sleep in your home with your children, at least make sure you lock your bedroom doors. Lutheran youth pastor Efrain Caban is alleged to have molested a 17-year-old boy in the boy’s home.

About 2:34 a.m. on Saturday, according to police, Caban unzipped the pants of a sleeping 17-year-old boy and began fondling him. The boy was a member of the church, police said.

The boy woke up and alerted his mother, who then called the police.

Efrain, who goes by the nickname “Papo” is a youth minister at Christus Lutheran Church in Camden. When I read of youth pastors allegedly committing sexual crimes, the first question that comes to mind is what are his qualifications. Judging by Caban’s MySpace page, he has no qualifications other than a desire to work with kids.

Pastor Carlos Mendez-Almendra arrested

1 pastor, 4 women, and a newly defunct church, this one will be juicy. Pastor Carlos Mendez-Almendra of Apostoles Prophetas was arrested on rape charges involving four women.

Kentucky State Police say Mendez-Almendra would go to the victims' homes, or invite them to his home for prayer, and then force them to engage in sexual activity.

He’s also charged with intimidating a witness. The crimes are alleged to have happened in Kentucky, so I think the pastor faces a maximum of six months in jail.

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I get comments… fundietainment

I’ve posted on a Christian cult founded by the late Pastor David J. Meyers back in 2007. His followers are crazy. An anonymous poster got my attention when he or she asserted that nameless Wiccans had used the Harry Potter movies’ Avada Kedavra spell to weaken and kill their pastor. They think it’s real. They think it has some kind of power. They believe in witchcraft. How do people fall into such brainless idiocy?

It's occured to me that the poster who said 'avada kadavra david' and then it didn't work did it? holds to clue to David J. Meyers death. Those strange words mean DEATH SPELL. I am sure during his ministry he received death threats, and the various hacked off occultists he exposed threw spells against him. Up until now, they only weakened his health but he always rebounded. This time, the Lord allowed it and brought him home, as no man can withstand the pressure of a ministry like David had for so long, The Wiccans hated him. Well kids, he's out but not down for the count. He's in Paradise.

And God is not finished with you yet, you whosoever sent this final spell. It comes back threefold, remember? This was revealed to me about an hour ago, that Meyer was cast against for the final time. It's a real spiritual war, and real soldiers take hits and sometimes die. But it will come back three-fold, remember?

Read the full thread of the original post for more fundietainment, or check out the nutballs commenting on the post I made for Meyer’s death.

Technorati Tags: ,,

3:20 am, Is this where I pray?

It was 3:20 in the morning three days ago. I stood before my dad’s sickbed in the cancer ward of the VA Hospital. My dad lay asleep next to my mom who snoozed uncomfortably in a recliner alongside his bed. I looked down at a man who a few months ago weighted 260 pounds, but now looked half that. His arms and legs have no visible muscle, his face is gaunt, almost skeletal, I can count each rib in his chest. I’ve never seen his ribs before. He’s in constant pain and dying slowly because he cannot eat. His cancer is everywhere. There is no hope. I know he will die soon.

I note the time in my journal with the annotation, 3:20 am: Is this where I pray? It was right after the words, 3:05 am: Dad does not know who I am. Asks for his son. I have no prayers in me. The thought makes me ill. Instead, tears flowed. There is little else I can do besides share the burden of attending his bedside with my family, and wait.

I took a picture. I will remember the moment the rest of my life.

Technorati Tags: ,

Pastor Robert McFadden guilty

RobertMcFadden Pastor Robert L. McFadden III pleaded guilty to three felony counts of child seduction. He faces six years in prison.

According to court documents, a 16-year-old girl told Lafayette Police Department detectives that she was given massages by McFadden on April 12 and April 14 that led to sexual contact. Under questioning during Tuesday's sentencing hearing, McFadden admitted to fondling and having sexual intercourse with the girl.

McFadden was the youth pastor at Evangelical Covenant Church of Lafayette. He was not a pastor there when the crime occurred.

See Youth pastor Robert McFadden arrested for more information.

WWJD – fired for becoming pregnant

Jarretta Hamilton was fired by Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fl. Her crime? She became pregnant without being married. More precisely, she conceived a few weeks before getting married.

Jarretta Hamilton, 39, admitted to school authorities at Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fla., in 2009 that she had conceived before her marriage in April of that year. One week after requesting maternity leave, she was unemployed.

She was not fired for being pregnant.

In a letter to Gay dated July 2009, the school said that Hamilton was not fired because she was pregnant, but because of "fornication, sex outside of marriage." The letter, which Gay provided to AOL News, says that Hamilton agreed in her job application to uphold standards related to the school's values.

When I read this story, I said to a friend, “Does that sound like the message of Christ to you?’ Firing somebody for having sex before marriage is a tad legalistic. What ever happened to forgiveness? I’m beginning to suspect that a lot of Christians have no idea how to actually act like a Christian. Instead they make up rules and apply them with complete disregard for decency or compassion.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reiki tiki bullshit

I’m calling bullshit on Reiki, or “Healing Hands.”

When you begin, focus on the palms of your hands, relax, and slowly feel the higher energies filter through them. This may create a sensation of heat or tingling. here's what's going on. You raise your frequency ... bring in higher balanced energy ... transmit it to the other person by touching them, or holding your hands near their body. Some people wash their hands before and after a healing session.

I saw Healing Hands demonstrated a few nights ago. A woman named Laura was talking to me when she started experiencing acute pain. She is confined to a powered chair because of several different serious disabilities. Despite her limitations, she volunteers with a therapy dog at the VA Hospital. I found her odd, but likeable. More importantly, the service she provided to the patients on the cancer ward was invaluable. How could I not like her?

Before Laura’s pain started, she started experiencing blurry vision and was sweating from the right side of her body. As the pain started, Laura’s face became flushed and her eyes started rolling in her head. Since we were in a hospital waiting room, I alerted the nursing staff to the problem. An RN approached to help. What she did next blew me away.

She asked if she could use Healing Hands to release Laura’s pain. She claimed to be a master at Reiki. Laura agreed. I watched as she placed a hand above Laura’s head and one behind her back while she concentrated with her eyes closed. After a few moments she made motions like she was pulling something out of Laura’s body and throwing it away. She repeated this several times with her hands in different positions. The process took 5 to 6 minutes. She stopped when paged to a patient’s room. Laura did not notice. Her pain was overwhelming. I started to call the emergency room EMTs. She stopped me by saying, “I just need my morphine.”

I helped her get to her meds and watched as she prepared a dose using a syringe. She squirted it into her mouth then leaned back in her chair and moaned. After watching this, I suspected that drug dependency was one of her disabilities. After a few minutes she seemed to recover, although she was still in pain. The RN stopped by and said, “Glad I could help.” I let it go.

Two bible stories

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the VA hospital in Long Beach. In the early morning hours, between 2:00 and 4:oo am, the place is deserted and scary. People can walk in off the street at numerous points without going through security. I’ve never seen security, I just see crazy people and wounded vets. I ran into two crazy people Friday night, at least I think they were crazy.

I walked from the cancer ward to the break area, a distance of 600 feet, several times a night. In the early morning, hours before dawn, it is rare to run into people, but I did Friday night.

As I entered the break area a fat unhealthy looking man greeted me. I returned his greeting in kind but noticed that he was reading a big gold-edged bible, so I ignored him. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to work the vending machines, once I scored some hot coffee, I walked toward the exit. The Bible reader said, “You know, I’m going to die.”

“I’m sorry.” I said.

“I’m going to die, and you are too, the Bible says so.”

I had no intention of talking to him, so I made a quick exit. He repeats himself as I leave. His last words, spoken with a hint of hysteria while he pointed a fat finger at his bible were, “I’m going to die.”

I walked away fast. I was in no mood to talk to a nutter with a bible. A few minutes later I made the last turn in the hospital’s rat maze of corridors before arriving at the elevators. Ahead of me in the hallway I saw a man wearing an odd mix of hospital and street clothing. He tore off blue sanitary gloves and threw them to the ground as he jogged toward me. I was frightened and uneasy. The man was sweating profusely, out of breath, had a large grease mark covering part of his face near his right cheek, and was jerky in his movements. I figure him for a tweaker.

He made a right into the elevator a few seconds before I made a left. I hear him say, “Going up?” I nodded yes and stepped into the elevator next to another man you has his back firmly plastered to the wall opposite the tweaker. The other passenger jumped out on the 4th floor. I ask the tweaker if he’s been running. He paced back and forth and yells, “Hell yes I’ve been running.” He pointed at me, “Where the fuck is my bible?”

I don’t answer. Instead, I slid around to a put my back against the wall opposite him. He danced from foot-to-foot while wiping sweat from his face. He looked high and smelled like a sewer. “I lost my bible.” He says.  “But I still have time.”

I jumped off at my floor and watched as the door closed. I figure two bible nutters in one night was enough, so I went back to my vigil without taking another break.  It’s safer that way.

Technorati Tags: ,

Not so faithful and true

Pastor Shelly Hall of Faithful and True Ministry, was arrested for stalking a homeless woman in Lake County, Fla. The alleged victim is in protective custody.

An affidavit from the Groveland Police Department says Jordan lived at the Faithful and True Ministry Shelter for Women and Children for most of May. That's where she said Pastor Hall would corner her into rooms alone and come into her room as she was changing clothes for work; it even carried over to church fundraisers and the public library.

Here is the scam. Christian charities form around service to the homeless. Once the homeless are dependent on the services, an unscrupulous pastor demands favors in exchange for what are now vital services. Predatory pastors know the women are  faced with a choice between food and shelter or the streets, they press their advantage. Can you guess who wins?

If this charge is true, I hope Hall does some hard time.

Pastor Lee Palmer sentenced

LeePalmer Pastor Lee Palmer was convicted of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault, and one count of sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Palmer was unrepentant.

Mueller also cited Palmer's unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions, stating that the man told investigators that he was "overcome by the demon of lust," that the victim was "asking for it," and that the victim was "in heat," when the assaults occurred, prosecutors said.

I don’t know what to say.

Pastor David J. Meyer dies

Pastor David J. Meyer is an honored member of my nutball family. I posted a nutball alert on him back in February of 2007.  Meyer liked to link the Harry Potter movies to witchcraft in the worst possible ways. He died on June 8, 2010. By all accounts, it was a horrible death. R.I.P. David J. Meyer.


AwaitingHim (tribute)

Last Trumpet Ministries

Technorati Tags: ,,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I don't think prayer will work Jim

Rev. Jim Woodard thinks a twice daily mass prayer seeking relief from the effects of the BP oil spill will heal the land. The more people who pray, the more chance of winning the prayer lottery. God may hear a prayer and act on it. We will know becuase the land will be healed, and the ocean too. Let's hope the ocean is covered.

On Friday, Woodard launched a website,, urging readers to consider Chronicles 7:13-14, in which God promises to heal the land if people turn to him in prayer.

"I know people are already praying," Woodard said. "I'm not downplaying that. But I thought, what would happen if we focused all that? What would happen if we got people to stop, twice a day, and pray about this?"

I'm sure the is something they could do, something that involves getting off their knees, something active that yields direct results. What is that word again?  Oh, now I remember, it's called work. Pastor Woodard should encourage people to work to relieve the affects of the oil spill. It seems so simple? How did he miss that? Oh wait, prayer must be easier than work.

Prayer is easy, work is hard.

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I covet thee

The Olympus PEN – Do the demo, it’s the coolest thing ever.

But seriously, I covet these more, Leica M8, or the Nikon D3.

Camera porn… drool.

Technorati Tags: ,

More Catholic abuse news

I don’t have time to post about each case of clergy sexual abuse. There are too many new stories each day, despite what Phillip Jenkins would have us think in his USA today op-ed, How serious is the ‘predator priest’ problem?

The U.S. Catholic Church is still shuddering from the effects of the sexual abuse crisis. Most Catholics are still critical of the church's handling of the matter, and one in 10 are considering leaving the faith altogether. Some believe that clerical celibacy is at the core of the crisis, while others blame the all-male character of the priesthood. Reading such accounts, though, it's easy to forget that we have not the slightest idea how serious the abuse problem is among Catholic priests as opposed to other professionals dealing with children.

News flash Mr. Jenkins, we don’t care how big Catholic clergy sexual abuse is in comparison to similar abuse in the public sector. We care about how the Catholic church protects its pedophile priests at the expense of our child. We care because the Catholic church does not. We don’t see this behavior in the public sector.

Atheist Revolution reported on Pastor Oliver O’Grady, a Catholic priest who was bought off by his church with a $94,56 annuity that pays 788 per month for ten years. Catholic parishioners are upset. A post in the Irish Times suggests that the O’Grady, who molested 25 children in the United States, should get nothing. I agree.

A story in the Boston Glob called Mistrust, deep divisions await O’Malley in Ireland suggests that the Irish public and parishioners are upset because of the poor handling of sex abuse cases in Ireland.

“He’s going to find a very divided church,’’ said Colm O’Gorman, an Irish clergy sex abuse victim and the founder of the organization One in Four. “On the one side, he’ll find those who are still very resistant to change and unwilling to acknowledge the extent of a very clear and deliberate coverup, and on the other side he’ll find those who are significant reformers.’’

Apparently O’Mally, the Cardinal out of Boston, got the call to go to Ireland because he wrote a letter to the Pope.

A story out of German goes after the top Roman Catholic bishop for allegedly allowing a pedophile priest to be reappointed to a parish job in the 80s.

Prosecutors in the southwestern city of Freiburg said charges of aiding and abetting sexual abuse had been filed against Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops' Conference and archbishop of Freiburg.

Zollitsch, 71, was head of church personnel in Freiburg when a Cistercian priest was given a parish job in Birnau despite charges of child abuse against the cleric being known to church authorities, prosecutors said.

I am often reminded by readers that not all Catholic Priests are monsters. I know this to be true. Many are fine examples of the best in human kindness and service. The number of priests who abuse is small, but the institutional misdirection by the Catholic church on behalf of the abusive priests is pervasive. Take the case of Los Angeles’ Cardinal Rodger Mahony, an internal investigation cleared Mahony of hindering clergy sexual abuses cases. Yet if you live in LA like I do, you know this man worked to hide the scope of clergy sexual abuse in Los Angeles. We’ve seen the stories for 15 years now. Why did it take 8 years to do the investigation? The Feds are looking into the case. I do not think they will be as kind.

The memo was released in response to questions about District Attorney Steve Cooley's handling of the priest abuse investigation, which began in 2002. Cooley is in the final week of a campaign to become the Republican nominee for California attorney general.

Cardinal Roger Mahony has come under fire for his handling of several abusive priests during his tenure in the Los Angeles archdiocese and agreed to pay $660 million in 2007 to more than 500 alleged clergy abuse victims.

Catholic scholars think Pope Benedict XVI reign will be defined by his handling of he clergy sexual abuse scandal. They like how he’s handled things. Time Magazine was not so kind.

Benedict now seems to understand the stakes. But Alberto Melloni, a church historian at the University of Modena, says other power brokers in the Vatican think the church can just ride out the storm. "They don't realize the deep bitterness among the faithful, the isolation of the clergy. We can't predict where this is going to wind up."

And if this is not enough to make you think Phillip Jenkins’ op-ed was off target, all you need do is read the story of Sister Margaret McBride as told by Dan Thomasson in the Abilene Online. The Catholic church lives in a reality that is out of step with the rest of the world. It is time we stop catering to it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Introducing the Teenage Atheist

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, the Teenage Atheist.

I'm a sixteen year Atheist from Ireland. I have been an Atheist since I was around twelve, and have always had a keen interest in science. I recently joined a Creationist forum in order to discuss evolution and to test both my patience and my debating skills. It was an irritating experience, but I learned a lot - not about evolution (the only thing they demonstrated was their lack of understanding of the concepts involved) - but about the creationist mindset, and it inspired me to create a blog.

My blogs primary aim is to refine my views and articulate my thoughts about atheism, evolutionism and some of my encounters with creationists and theists. I hope to receive feedback and criticism as I thoroughly enjoy debating. I also hope to provide food for thought and maybe a little spark of controversy to keep things interesting.

The blog is relatively new - however, I promise to be an active blogger and welcome all comments regardless of your viewpoint. I look forward to seeing what you have to say!

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

Technorati Tags: Atheism,The Atheist Blogroll

Things I learned in Suzhou #6

DSC_6657Everybody is 22-years-old. I’m not kidding. The whole damn country is 22. I met hundreds of people on my last visit, they were all young. The only old people my age were janitors, maintenance workers, and gardeners. I saw the occasional grandma too, but anyone working, anyone I needed to talk to in order to get along, be it ordering coffee or taking a cab, was young.

It gives you a different perspective. Somebody told me there are more 20 to 22-year-old people in China than there are people in California. I believe it.

The girls pictured above were members of the hotel staff who worked the bar. They poured a mean Tiger beer and spent a great deal of time practicing their English with patrons. They were nice kids and as innocent as they come.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The futility of prayer

I spent a few hours at the VA hospital today visiting my dad. He’s dying of cancer. I don’t know how long he will survive. I was asked by a woman visiting another patient if I was praying for my dad. I said no. She gave me a funny look but said no more.

Later, as I walked the halls, I noticed a man sitting in on a bed in an isolation room. His face was missing. Our eyes met briefly. I could see he wanted to die. It looked like cancer would claim his life soon, but not until he had suffered some more.

The hospital staff is amazing. I’ve have nothing but good things to say about the loving team that cares for my dad. I don’t know how they do it without suffering along with the patients.

As I was leaving I ran into a lady I had seen a few time visiting another patient. She asked how my dad was doing. I told her the truth, “He’s going to die soon.”

“I’ll hold him up in prayer, God will heal him, you’ll see.”

I sighed, “No thanks, nobody can help him now.”

She reached for my arm. I think she wanted to put her arm around me to comfort me. I told her to stop.

“God can do anything. He is our creator. Don’t give up hope.”

“I just saw a man without a face. He’s suffering at a level few of us will ever have to endure.”

“I pray for him every day.”

“Lady … your prayers do not help. He will die soon. So will my Dad.”

She continued to reach for me. We were in the elevator by now, there was little room to maneuver. I continued to brush away her hands. “Your dad is in God’s hands. God has a plan.”, she said.

“Lady, does God’s plan include slowly killing my dad over three years while keeping him in constant pain?”

She gulped and licked her lips, “God has a plan."

I cut her off, “Bullshit. If these was a caring God he’d cure the cancer and end the suffering.”

There was a loud ding. An electronic voice announced that the elevator was going up. I jumped off and started to walk away. She was old and fat, and not able to keep up with me. The last thing she said was, “I can have my pastor call you.” I did not respond.

I’m usually very tolerant of hospital prayer warriors. My parents are Christians, so are most of my family. When somebody says, “I’ll pray for your dad,” I understand it as a humane gesture of care. I smile and say thanks. When somebody tells me God will perform a miracle, I call bullshit. I might have been nicer if I had not seen the man without a face, it bothered me. I felt helpless. I hate the feeling, and I’m getting a lot of it now with my dad. Cancer sucks.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Things I learned in China #5


When the Chinese offer white liquor as the alcohol to use for toasts during a social dinner, run the other way. The stuff is rocket fuel. They call it Baijiu. There are many different types. The one pictured above tastes like grain alcohol flavored with rotten rice. I will never drink it again.

I attended a dinner where the host knew I could out drink everyone in the room. He front loaded the first toast for me with 4 ounces of Baijju against a half ounce for everyone else. He offered a toast speaking “ganbei”, or bottoms up. I nearly passed out a few minutes later, but managed to work through four bottles of the stuff and still walk back to my hotel. I had my revenge a few days later, I chose Jameson Irish Whiskey. Many Chinese and one Frenchman paid a horrible price that night.

Technorati Tags: ,

Pastor Michael Barnes Convicted

Former Catholic priest Michael Lowell Barnes was arrested in 2009 on child molestation charges dating back to the late 70s. He was associate pastor of an Essex parish in Baltimore, Maryland.

Michael Barnes

Barnes entered an Alford plea to child abuse as a custodian. 15 other sex offenses were dropped.  In an Alford plea the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence but admits that there is enough evidence to convict. What a tool.

Things I learned in Suzhou #4


The Chinese take Buddha seriously, and then again, they don’t. I think Buddhism is largely ceremonial. Like many American’s who claim to be Christians but only practice their faith at lifestyle events, like weddings or funerals. The Chinese don’t really go to church, but they will go ass up in front of a statue without a second thought.

I was trying to figure out what the square stones in front of the Buddha statue were for when this lady came by and demonstrated their use for me. I watched as dozens of other people did the same thing.

I learned something else too. It’s ok to take a picture of some Buddha statues, but you’ll get yelled at for taking pictures of others. I think it all depends on how much gold leaf is involved.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Pay no attention to the pedophile

When I learn of somebody consuming child porn, I feel ill. It is a crime I do not understand, nor would I have the strength to confront it if it were my job. Pedophiles are beyond the pale. When a pedophile priest or pastor is caught with child porn, that should be the end of their careers. In any trustworthy organization, this would be the case.

As we’ve learned lately, the Catholic church is not trustworthy. Case in point, the Catholic church treated a Danish priest convicted of downloading 38 movies involving sexual activities with minors as if it were a speeding ticket. They told nobody of his conviction and put him back to work with kids. There is not an acceptable excuse for this type of behavior.

What does it take to get a priest defrocked? We know it’s not child porn, nor is it child molestation, heck, repeated child rape is not enough to get you defrocked. I’m willing to bet that if a priest violated the Catholic church’s policy banning condom use, he would be out on his ass. Where are their priorities?

Things I saw in Suzhou #3


I should call this, things I did not see in Suzhou. I was there three weeks. I saw the sun twice. The place is perpetually hazy, cloudy, rainy, or just plain smoggy. This was an afternoon shot looking out toward the lake. It’s nothing but shadows and haze.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Pastor Roan Faulkner arrested

RoanFaulkner When a woman comes to a pastor for spiritual counseling, you would think the the last thing on her mind is rape, right? Not so if you attend New Life Pentecostal Ministries in Catonsville. Its 62-year-old pastor, Roan Falkner Sr. stands accused of forcing a women to perform a sexual act during a spiritual counseling session.

Faulkner is the pastor of New Life Pentecostal Ministries. Police say he's refusing to discuss the incident, which happened in February, and investigators are concerned there may be other victims. He's being held on $300,000 bail.

Pastors + Power + Spiritual counseling = an opportunity for abuse.  I wonder what his excuse will be?

Faulkner calls himself “Bishop” and his wife is called “Queen”. It looks like one of those family empire type churches where the pastor and wife are held up as special people. They tend to fall a lot harder once the charges of sexual excess start coming to light. 

Things I saw in Suzhou #2

Family Scooter

The Chinese use their ebikes for everything. The only thing missing in this photois a cell phone. They only go about 20 mph, but still, this does not look safe to me.

I have a flickr set of other ebike riders. They use their bikes for everything.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Minuteman nutball Chris Simcox in trouble

SPLC has an interesting post up on Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox. It seems he threatened to kill his wife and family last year.

The Phoenix New Times reports that Simcox was ordered to surrender his weapons.

A Maricopa County court commissioner granted the petition April 16, and ordered the 49 year-old Simcox to remain 200 yards away from Alena, their two children, and Alena's child from a previous relationship. The order prohibits Simcox from possessing, receiving, or purchasing firearms or ammunition. He was told to "surrender same" to the Scottsdale police within 24 hours of being served. 

What’s Simcox going to do for fun now? Who will he threaten and intimidate? A Minuteman without a gun is like a man without his penis.

I’ve met the guy. He’s on my serious nutball and haters watch lists.

Things I saw in Suzhou #1

Caught a model

I was walking through the historic section of Suzhou when I happened upon a professional photo shoot. She was beautiful, but what I really coveted was the photographer’s camera rig.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Introducing God is a myth

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, God is a myth!

Hello everyone my name is David and my blogs focus is specifically about my opinions and views about religious beliefs, thoughts, and ignorance. Before becoming an atheist I was a  former Pentecostal evangelist for four years. I am well schooled on theology and I feel that as a former evangelist I have an edge on a lot of other atheists who have never been on the other side of the fence.

As an atheist I am dedicated to learning from as many sources possible including fellow bloggers regarding religion and philosophy. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog regarding my posts no matter if they are negative or positive. I do not censor comments or anyone's opinions since I am a strong believer in freedom of speech and expression. Take care and I look forward to hearing from you all and most of all learning from you as well.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

Technorati Tags: Atheism,The Atheist Blogroll

Dinosaur mammoth fight – very cool

An old friend from high school is starting to dabble in YouTube. He is a fellow Atheist with an razor wit and I loved this great debunking of a fundy nutball. If you like it please pass it on. I hope to encourage my friend to make more.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Introducing Stuck in Church

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Atheist Blogroll, Stuck in Church.

Hi, my name is Mark Serrels, I'm an Atheist and I'm Stuck in Church.

After marrying a Seventh Day Adventist Christian, and inheriting a Pastor for a father in-law, I made a pact with my wife: she would respect the fact that I would most likely never be baptised as a Christian, and in return I agreed to attend church with her on a regular basis, just to keep her company.

So I'm Stuck in Church, ensconced in a Christian community, in a Christian family with a Christian wife. I blog about my experiences - about being an Atheist when everyone around me is religious. I blog about the frustrations, the breakthroughs, the compromises, the lifestyle – all the pros and cons of a life spent helping my wife follow doctrines I don’t subscribe to!

Despite all this, my wife and I get on swimmingly, and we love each other very much! I created this website to show that Atheists and Christians can co-exist without shouting obscenities at each other. I want to help everyone realise that a little bit of tolerance can go a long way when it comes the living in a world with thousands of competing belief systems.

Then we can all give each other a long, slightly awkward group hug that lasts just that little bit too long...

Then go right back to shouting obscenities at each other again!

Check it out when you have the time: Stuck in Church

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll resource blog for more information.

Technorati Tags: Atheism,The Atheist Blogroll

Friday, June 04, 2010

Now what Gwen, start over?

I read stories of clergy sexual abuse and I'm struck time and again by the stupidity of those involved. The youth pastor throws away a life developed over years of patient study and service. All for what? A little sex? I never understand it. Gwen Hablin, the ex-youth pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Liberty Township, threw her life away when she admitted to sex with a 17-year-old boy while on a church sponsored youth trip to Australia two years ago. Let's look at the life she threw away.

  • 9 years of service to St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church
  • A Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication
  • Her master level studies in Counseling, Communication, and Ministry.
  • Her self respect and honor. 

I see from her Linkedin profile that she specialized in oral communication. That figures. She's looking for work now, I'm sure the Baptists are hiring.

This is an odd case. The crime happened in Australia. I would think that local authorities would be unable to prosecute and I doubt Hamblin would return to Australia for a trial unless compelled. I'll have to follow this case to see what happens. I'm not up on child sex abuse laws in Australia. Does anyone know what the penalties are? I'm behind the Great Firewall of China for another day, so I'm not able to use my normal resources.

Technorati Tags: ,

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A day in the life of a stressed out Atheist

People deal with stress in different ways. I like to walk. It helps me clear my head and the physical exertion helps me to relax. I went for a walk last night at 2:00 am. It was either walk or stay in bed looking at the ceiling. I walked.

My home is a hotel near a large park in Suzhou, China. I started my walk after talking to hotel security. They advised against going out, too dangerous for Joe they warned. I went anyway. As I walked the perimeter, I noticed a hotel employee trailing silently behind me on an ebike. It made me smile. I've lived at the hotel for three weeks on this trip, and with many trips behind me, they've come to know me. They show  it in small ways, like making sure I'm safe on a late night walk.

I'm the big distracted guy they call Buddha. I sit at the bar most nights with a beer in one hand and a book in the other. I talk to the staff, sip my beer, and listen to music. The staff keeps me safe at the bar too. My glass is never empty, and they chase away the local riffraff and hookers before I'm bothered. I feel the love.

Last night was typical. I listened to reggae, read a short story, and drank a Tiger beer. My stress of my job is waning. I had just cracked a bottle of Champaign the night before in celebration of a successful project. At one day post start up, we have only a few minor issues. Everything works. I can relax now.

I've been teaching the locals about American music. They think Mariah Carry and Whitney Houston are the face of American music. When show the depth and richness of American music, they seem confused. They've never heard the blues, and don't know punk rock. Rage Against the Machine gives them a headache, the same goes for Green Day, but when I play Bob Marley they smile. Last night I introduced them to Sun is Shining, one of Marley's classics. They listened to it a dozen times. What do I get in return? They follow me around a park at 2:00 am. That's enough for me.

The coolest guy at the hotel is the chef. He proudly came out as a lover of reggae last night. The kids working the bar all cheered. Joe made sure my steak was perfect later that night. The funny thing is, he also mentioned that reggae was Jamaican music. The bar staff was confused, it blew their minds. I tried to explain that America had co-opted reggae. I told them that there are probably more Jamaicans in America than there are in Jamaicans in Jamaica, and that reggae was now part of American culture. Trust me on this, that blew their minds.

I played Chant a Psalm by Steel Pulse before I left. We shared headphones, the buds were passed from person-to-person as the song was repeated. Somebody mentions a Psalm came from the bible. A discussion took place that left my head spinning. they think we are all Christians and that music is how we introduce religion to other cultures. I hastily explain that I appreciate the song because of its beauty. That appreciation of beauty is something that transcends religion. They know I'm an atheist. I'm the only American atheist they've ever met. It fascinates them. I tell them that beauty makes me happy, that listening to Steel Pulse is like listening to Dexter Gordon play jazz. They say, "like Mariah Carry?" I call for another beer and switch to Led Zeppelin. At least I'm drinking among friends.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Why do victims expect compassion?

When a normal  Joe sues a global corporation, he expects the corporation to play hardball in and out of court. Their lawyers will try every legal trick available to stall, force a settlement, or break your spirit. Why do people who sue the Catholic church expect them to act any different than a global corporation? The Catholic church is a global corporation. If you sue them for clergy sexual abuse and ask for millions of dollars, they will fight with every ounce of effort possible to see you fail. The lawyer's job is to limit the damage to the corporation. They will not play nice  because of the nature of the crime or because they represent a church.

I've seen articles about victims of sexual abuse trying to kill themselves over their treatment at the hands of the Catholic Church. Expecting anything other than hardball tactics is infantile. The  leadership would rather the victim settle out of court,  forgive the sin altogether, or if necessary push you toward jumping off a bridge. They don't care. If they did the abuse would stop and victims would be taken care of by a loving church. Do you see that happening? I don't. Once you sue the church, you are no longer one of them. Their attitude is screw you, unto death if necessary.

The primary legal weapon of the global corporation is the countersuit. The Catholic church uses this tactic to destroy the support structure of the person suing. They will go after anyone even remotely involved in the case. Your mother and father, siblings, grandparents, are all targets. They want to spread the blame. Sure, you may have been abused, but was it not also true that your father beat you and your mother was inattentive?

…the diocese countersued Caruso's mother and father. They claimed the parents were negligent in failing to get counselling and medical help for their teenaged son and that Caruso's father regularly beat him…

Stop whining folks. The Catholic church is not your friend. They rape your children, shelter the abuser, and try to destroy your family if you attempt to defend yourself. Wise up. Where is the love Jesus is supposed to represent? They don't even know how to say the word. And God, the priests really only use his name during sex.

Technorati Tags: ,