Monday, February 28, 2011

Pastor Grant Storms arrested

GrantStormsOf all the stories of Christian hypocrisy I post, it’s the fall of a hypocrite I enjoy the most. Pastor Grant Storms is a hater who likes to target the gay community. He’s one of those pastor you’ll see protesting at gay themed events like the Southern Decadence Festival. You know the type, a hater for Christ. Apparently pastor Storms has a darker side too. He was arrested while parked in his car near a playground. Would anyone care to guess what he was allegedly up to? It was not eating lunch or reading a book. No, he was arrested for public masturbation.

The first woman told deputies she was taking her children to the playground and parked next to the van at about noon. As she was walking around her own vehicle, she noticed the van windows were down and the occupant was "looking at the playground area that contained children playing, with his zipper down...," the report said. The woman noted that he was masturbating and quickly ushered her children out of her car.

On the pastor freak scale, masturbation while watching kids play is fairly high on the list of major malfunctions. At least he was not acting on his urges. He’s still a complete and total hypocrite if these allegations are true.

I have no sympathy for the man. He’s made his choices, and now he must deal with the fallout. By age 53 he should have learned impulse control too. There is no excuse for any man to act this way. He deserves punishment if these allegations are true, punishment and public humiliation.

Youth pastor Steward Newman charged

StewartNewmanYouth pastor Steward Newman was changed with additional child molestation charges in Pottawattamie County, Nebraska. He’s already been arrested for possession of child pornography and child molestation in another county and is looking at life in prison. He allegedly started molesting a girl when she was as young as 6 up until the age of 10.

The police report lists Newman as working in the children's ministry of King of Kings Lutheran Church, but Newman said he doesn't work there.

He said that he and his wife are directors of a youth ministry called Presenting Arts through Him that meets at King of Kings.

The church's director of ministry operations, Ken Jaspersen, said Newman's involvement with the church was indirect.

This case brings up an interesting twist on the whole clergy sexual abuse situation. If an independent ministry is operating out of an established church, what responsibility does the church have to make sure they are providing an environment that is safe for children? Judging by the response from Kings Lutheran Church, they think they don’t have any responsibility.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I would shoot myself if…

There are limits to what I can take. This Christian website of K & K Mime is a great example of behavior that would push me over the edge. Now, I’m not likely to ever shoot myself over a mime (or a Christian), but I would be willing to make a scene – like a noisy and abrupt departure full of fake rage and attitude.

I saw Marcel Marso when I was 17. It was an epic 3 hours show which failed to hold my attention for longer than 5 minutes. If I were not the guest of my girlfriend’s family, I would have slipped out and walked the 30 miles home. I could say the same thing for the Cirque du Soleil show “O” which I saw last Thursday night at the Bellagio. Besides the incomprehensible French humor, the show was also boring and tedious (Except for the Chinese acrobats!). I was trapped there too. The casino beckoned, but I was surrounded by my co-workers. Leaving would have been bad form.

So, if you mix twin mimes with a fundie beat, (or mix mimes with anything) I would contemplate running for the hills (or worse). K & K Mime – it seems like such a bad idea. Make it stop before some kid is scarred for life. I hope it’s a joke. Unfortunately, “O”. is no joke and you must pay $150 to watch it.

btw - My tip to Las Vegas was a bust. My iPhone was stolen on the first night (I did not realize how much a part of my life the silly thing had become). I lost at every game I tried, including poker. My Gmail account was hacked by somebody in China on the first day of my visit. I could not access Gmail or my blog account until things some security issues were worked out this evening. I also had trouble sleeping on the short beds at the Palazzo (I swear they must cater to people under 6 feet tall). I even lost a dress shirt… Worse still, I was given a TomTom as a gift while in Las Vegas and sure enough, it does not work. Of course, there were outstanding moments too. My wife joined me for a romantic meal at Table 10 (which is an unassuming foodgasm level restaurant) and we were able to spend some quality adult time together for a change, so it was not all bad.

I’m not complaining really. I'm happy to be alive and thankful for a loving family and good friends. But, if I ever catch the guy who lifted my iPhone, I’ll bring out Evil Joe for awhile just to settle the score.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Youth pastor Ronnie Powe arrested

RonniePoweJrWhat happens when the police roll up on a youth pastor giving “one-on-one” counseling to a 15-year-old boy behind an abandoned school? They make sure the boy is not being raped, that what happens. In this case they allegedly found youth pastor Ronnie Powe in the act of  molesting a boy.

When police approached the car, Powe Jr. identified himself as a youth minister at the church and said he was talking to one of his troubled students, according to reports.

Officers asked Powe Jr. to step out of the vehicle. When he did, they noticed his pants zipper was down and he could not explain why, the reports stated.

Relax officers, I’m a youth pastor. I’m using my magic wand to deliver a holy blessing. Move along…

Powe’s father, Pastor of United tabernacle Church of God in Christ, had this to say.

"We teach against homosexuality."

Um… you might teach against homosexuality, but your youth pastor son did not get the message. He was not busted for being gay. He was busted for molesting an underage teen. That’s a morality issue and something his Christian faith is supposed guard against. Did your church teach that molesting children is wrong too? Perhaps he missed that sermon?

More to the point. Why is Powe the youth pastor? He has no degree or credentials. Did the church do a background check? Is his position heredity thing? Does one become a youth pastor because one’s daddy is the pastor and therefor no credentials are required? If so, what protections does that offer the children at your church?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The smartphone test

My niece Christine is 11. A few weeks ago I told her about the smartphone test. I was honest with her. I told her that Apple has the hardest test going because they have the best phone. People who fail the Apple test can retake the easier Droid smartphone test, but that finding a place to take the Droid test is a little harder and often requires singing and dancing. To take the test, all an applicant need do at an Apple store is walk to the back wall and talk to one the hipster experts. They will issue the test if the think you are worthy. I’m building a list of questions for my niece so that she can practice. I remember a few of the question. I was hoping a few of my readers might remember a few too. I’d ask my sisters to help but they both failed the Apple test and now use Droids.

Questions

  1. How do you spell that big fat animal in Africa that sometimes kills people but does not eat them. You can find them in zoos all across America.
  2. What is the name of the thing that killed Frodo’s parents?
  3. What movie released in the last year will be considered a classic in ten yeas?
  4. Essay question: Explain why country music is popular.
  5. Essay question: Is it wrong to hate hipsters?
  6. What is the age of he earth: 3,000 years old, 4,000 years old, 10,000 years old, 4.7 million years old, 4 billion years old, 4.5 billion years old, or 10 billions years old?
  7. In Aeop’s the Ass and the Lion’s Skin, how did the lion die?
  8. Does America’s concept of freedom of speech apply if that speech is not written down? Would it matter if it were hand written or a computer print out?
  9. What is the most popular girl’s name in Alabama?
  10. Name America’s original 15 colonies.
  11. If people from America are called Americans, and people from France are called French, what country do Laplanders come from?
  12. If you had to kiss a frog to become rich, what type of frog should you kiss? Explain why kissing a frog is different than kissing a dog.

I really want to help my niece – If you can think of any questions that will help, add a comment.

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Photo - I should have been a pilot

I should have been a pilot

I went to the Long Beach Flea Market on Sunday. I saw this dummy sitting on a van and looking at the sky. Ironically, a women went off on me for shooting near her stall because I was standing too close to her collection of cheap religious icons. Smile and wave Joe, smile and wave.

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Pastor Jerry Cannon arrested on child porn charges

I am simply stunned that anyone would think to use Facebook for evil purposes. Yet it happens every day. The latest case involved pastor Jerry L. Cannon who use up to 13 different false FaceBook accounts to trade pornography.

The FBI alleges that Cannon, 62, expressed an interest in pictures of children from ages 10 to 16 in his communication with the Fairhope man and that he said he had about 25 albums of pictures. He asked the Fairhope man if he swapped pictures.

"Hope you have pics for me, i added you to see my pics So far i posted, kisses,” the user wrote on Jan. 23, according to the criminal complaint.

Don’t worry pastor Cannon. I’m sure Bubba will have kisses for you in federal prison. Ask for a cell in the general population. I hear they have the best views.

Cannon was the pastor at the Church of God in Dry Ridge, Ky

Benny Hinn and the prosperity gospel harlot

Benny Hinn is being sued by his publisher after pictures of Hinn and evangelist (and harlot) Paula White were photographed together in Rome. The publisher is demanding a payment of $250,000 for violation of a morality clause. The good news is that Hinn keeps a suitcase full of fresh $100 bills with him at all times in case he runs out of toilet paper. He’ll have to go back to using Charmin for a few weeks.

BennyHinnAffairApparently the twice divorced White and the soon to be divorced Hinn are friends, but not the immoral kind of friend. Wink wink.

"A friendship did develop," Hinn said of White in Oakland on July 30. "Hear this: No immorality whatsoever. These people out there are making it sound like we had an affair. That's a lie."

Let’s judge this by normal moral standards. Let’s say you are a still married Benny Hinn and you’ve checked yourself into a swanky Italian hotel, in the presidential suit no less, and under an assumed name. Let’s also say that you are photographed leaving the hotel in the arms of Paula White. 2+2 = an affair. Sorry. My wife would bring out the machete.

And now for a little fun at Benny Hinn’s expense.

I poke fun at him because he’s a fraud. I poke fun at him because he’s desperate and Christians give him their money. I poke fun at him because he is in no way living the idealized “Christian life.” He’s living like a king on the spoils of on unethical enterprise. He is a complete and total fraud. We should all laugh at him, and we should all point at him an say hypocrite. But hypocrite is not really the right word here. He is actually practicing what he preaches. He is doing the exact opposite of a Christian. He’s feeding on the weak. I guess that does make him a Dark Lord of the Sith.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Photo - Jumping puddles

Reflections of men walking

It is rare that something I see in my mind while shooting appears in the final photo.It did with this shot.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Hate destroyer

THE HATE DESTROYER (Demo-version) from Fotogramma25 on Vimeo.

We need this here in the state for Republicans.

via NY Graffiti Creator 

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Photo–Newspaper Babylon

Newspaper Babylon

What can I say. I love urban ugly.

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I call this not art

I’ve always loved street art, but not this:

X3

X3 – I’m really tired of seeing it. It’s not art, it’s territorial pissing and a tad juvenile.

I’m not bitter. I took my camera out looking for street art today. All I found were paint-overs and X3s.

On the upside, Banksy is in LA. I think I need to go for a drive

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Is Sarah Palin high or just dim?

Via Outside the Beltway.

Sarah Palin attacks Michelle Obama over the 1st lady’s support for breastfeeding.

“No wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody, ‘You’d better breast-feed your baby,” she said at a Long Island appearance on Thursday, after slamming President Barack Obama for rising gas prices and other items — like milk — since he took office. “Yeah, you’d better, because the price of milk is so high right now.”

I’m pretty sure babies drink formula...

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Thank you cheesecake lady

IMG_0067Imogen, otherwise known as the cheesecake lady, dropped a delicious blueberry cheesecake by my office yesterday. It made my day.

I turn 50 on Saturday and Imogen was thoughtful enough to remember my birthday and to make me a cheesecake so that I could celebrate with my friends at the office. It lifted my spirits as Thursday was a not-so-typical work day. In fact, it was more like a day from hell. I had 5 meeting layered on top of hosting a developer’s conference – it was a crazy day. But then the cheesecake arrived – we call Imogen the cheesecake lady because when she brings us a cheesecake, all activity stops in my office until there is nothing left but but licking our fingers. Her cheesecake is that good, and so is just about every thing else she bakes. I know. I’ve tried it all. This woman could make a fortune it she did this for a living.

Thanks Imogen! You made my day.

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The Great Backyard Bird Count

Mudhen-1It’s that time of the year again. The annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

We like to say that the Great Backyard Bird Count is as easy as 1-2-3. Here are the basics for anyone participating for the first time:

1. Count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. Count longer if you want to!

2. Tally the greatest number of individuals of each species that you see together at any one time. Optional: Print your regional bird checklist to get an idea of the kinds of birds you're likely to see in your area in February.

3. When you're finished, enter your checklists here on the website--enter a new list for each day and for each new location where you count. The deadline for data submission is March 1.

I did my part. I counted birds in my backyard and at a local park. Let’s see – there were 14 pairs of delicious Mallard Ducks, and 11 delicious geese, and over 250 not-so-delicious American Coots. Plus, I saw 3 immature double-crested cormorants, and 1 Common Pochard, I also saw a bunch of pigeons, seagulls and common domesticated ducks.

Bird Watching, Photography

Why is stealing from a church worse than stealing from a business?

I see this type of story in the press frequently. A person steals from a local church. The community is outraged. People talk about it as if it is the most heinous offense imaginable. Yet in reality is simply stealing from another type of business. Why is stealing from a church seen as worse behavior than stealing from a business?

Ask blue-haired Barbara Whitt and her son Michael Whitt. Both just pleased guilty of stealing from the First Baptist Church of Morristown. It was only 1.5 million dollars…

I love this comment:

Did you REALLY think that you could steal from God and get away with it? Seriously?? You obviously are not the brightest crayons in the box..

Does God have money?

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Pastor Royce Shorter arrested

RoyceShorterI smell a rat. Pastor Royce C. Shorter has a history as pastor who raped children. He went to prison for the crime 25 years ago. Now he is back in court on new charges, and using the same MO. He owns a church and a music business which he runs from the same building. He gives private music lessons to children without outside supervision. And now he’s been charged with raping a 15-year-old female student. But that’s not all. Police have identified 4 additional victims and there may be many as 25 victims in total.

A Renton minister is being held on $350,000 bail after he pleaded not guilty to accusations he raped a teenage girl during music lessons at his Seattle studio.

Royce C. Shorter was arraigned Thursday morning at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle on two counts of third-degree rape and one count of third-degree child molestation.

Note to parents: Did you trust this man with your children because of the fa├žade of godliness he maintained? My advice is never trust a pastor with your kids. Its your job to protect them and not to serve them up as a meal. All the warning signs were there. A self owned and managed church. a large ego. No pastoral oversight. the over the top godliness. Earning a living off the people he was supposed to serve. Private lessons in a secluded building. Did you tied a bow around your daughters when you dropped them off for lessons?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Photography, it’s all about practice

When I was a young man I played basketball for my high school team. My takeaway from the experience was that I learned how to practice in order to achieve better results. I practiced the release for my jump shot over a thousand times a day, every day. It hurt and was boring, but it was necessary if I wanted to improve. I gave up playing in pickup games in order to get my practice in. I went from not having a jump shot, to having a damn good one, but it took a long time. The same principle applies to photography. I practice the things I need to master so that when need arises I can capture the moment. The shot below is a practice shot. I shot 40 of these today. Urban Ugly

I took a break from work to grab a quick lunch and practice a steady hand-held shot. I picked a target and fired bursts of five shots each. the goal was to produce same image each time. I would stop at a traffic light, point, and then shoot five shots. My subjects were boring, but that was not important. I wanted five shots without movement. In this case, I was 4 of 5. The first shot was significantly different than the last four. Most other shots were a mixed result.

Acquiring this this skill will help when I try to capture handheld HDR shots. I’ve ruined countless attempted HDR shots so far. To improve, all I need do is practice. It works for everything.

Youth pastor Daron Crown convicted

Youth pastor Daron Mark Crown admitted to two sexual assault charges. but it’s Canada so the penalty is nine months house arrest and a year’s probation. He raped a 15-year-old girl and what… he gets to play Xbox for the better part of a year? How is that justice. I guess if you live in Salmon Arm, you can get away with just about anything.

Did I mention he was a Baptist?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Photo - Industrial America

Industrial America

At times my day can be incredibly stressful. I use photography to reduce the stress. For me it’s just like taking a walk. My mind goes blank, I look for the shot I want, and then push the shutter release. Every now and then I produce something I’m proud of.

I waited to post this because I had a problem with the image that took a few weeks to work out. It felt right today because my day was crazy and I need to work on something other than my real life job as a project manager.

I woke early and drove across LA (2.5 hours). I attended two conference calls and a call with my boss during the drive, along with five other short calls. I don’t remember the drive. I met with the management team of a large business for two hours while they asked me a million questions about a project I’m about to deliver for them. I gave a pep talk to my team there, and then drove across LA (1.5 hours) to my office in Carson. While filing my truck with gas I stood looking at this scene pictured above (without my camera). I spent the afternoon prepping for a 3:00 pm meeting that went to 6:00, and then drove another hour through traffic to my mother’s house for a nice visit and to catch up on her visit to my sister. When I finally got home, my brain was fried, but I still felt the need to create. I started working on my take from a few previous photo shoots, made some catch up posts to Flickr and finished this photo. And it’s only Monday.

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Photo - you did it wrong

A hippie hangout

When I saw this up in Oakland on a recent visit, my first thought was that they did it wrong. It should read, “Peace, love, and happiness”. My son was quick to utter the curse, “Hippies”. My wife reminded me I should not take pictures from a moving vehicle (which I ignored because I was stopped), and then she pointed out the happiness was misspelled. My youngest son just shook his head because I was doing one of those things that I do that impart maximum embarrassment. I love my family… Peace, love and happiness…

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Another reason why church can be so wrong

I read stories about churches who act against their members for various misdeeds and misdemeanors all the time. It’s fodder for my hypocrisy watch posts. But it is also disturbing in that it shows just how far a church will go to protect its social positions. The blog Nerdy Apple Bottom tells a story of a young child who dressed as a girl for Halloween and the corresponding slaps he and his mother received at the hands of their church.

The story starts with a description of the event.

My son is gay. Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.

I have gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something more in-depth about my sweet boy and his choice of Halloween costume. Or more specifically, the reactions to it. I figure if I’m still irked by it a few days later, I may as well go ahead and post my thoughts.

The second post describes the aftermath.

My blog post was calling out the actions of a few people that said some unkind things in front of my son. I asked for love and tolerance. Was I angry? Yes. I feel I had a right to be. Did I bear false witness? No. I spoke out against bullying. Now I am getting bullied from church.

The first time Pastor contacted me was a few days after the Halloween post. He wanted to discuss my “spiritual care.” It was immediately clear that I was being viewed as having done something very wrong. Our initial conversation was me being called; “defensive,” “vindictive,”  “disrespectful,” “prideful,” and told that I “crossed a line.” I was told I needed to do penance. I was not asked about how Boo was doing.

It blows my mind that people are subjected to this, or that after subjected, they choose to remain. It looks the church in question bullied the wrong mom though. It looks like Cop’s Wife can take care of herself.

Life is hard enough with the hate and intolerance these Christians show towards a little boy and his mother. I always ask if the behavior is consistent with what I understand of the teaching of Jesus Christ. They often fail, just like this example. It blows my mind, but then, I always have a hard time understanding organized religion.

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RIP Gary Moore

Dam, I loved this guy, Guitarist Gary Moore dies in Spain. .

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Pastor Tom Daniels to stand trial

TomDanielsPastor Tommy Gene Daniels of the Frist Baptist Church of Rio Linda will stand trial for allegedly raping children as young as five year of age.
Before Daniels' arrest Dec. 9, the five-bedroom home he shared with his wife of 25 years had been on the radar of law enforcement and child welfare agencies, according to a Bee review of court documents and state licensing records.
The 6-foot-2 defendant is pastor of First Baptist Church of Rio Linda, where he is listed on the church's website as senior pastor. His wife Brenda, 46, is listed in bankruptcy documents as the church's paid youth director.
Daniels allegedly molested young girls who were placed in his care by government officials. He’s been under suspicion for years. My original post on him from January 3rd has more information. And lets not forget, while he was allegedly molesting young girls, the rat bastard was fighting proposition 8 and gay rights.
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Photo – my favorite shot from Descanso Gardens

Camillia at Desconso Garden

I shot a beautiful series of photos from an early morning visit to Descanso Gardens. The Camellia forest is in bloom. It’s hard to describe, but for a few short weeks each winter, the place is alive with color and worth a visit. We left before it got to hot.

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How does one define hypocrisy?

I can put forth the dictionary definition:

Hypocrisy is the act of persistently pretending to hold beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually hold. Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie.

Or, we can examine the life of hypocrite like Father Thomas Euteneuer.

A priest has admitted to a sexual indiscretion with a woman under his spiritual care during an exorcism.

Father Thomas Euteneuer made the confession after a wave of online debate about his sudden departure from his post of president of an anti-abortion group.

He abruptly departed the Human Life International in August of last year, and had maintained a silence over his reasons for stepping down ever since.

Priest, exorcist, leader of an anti-abortion group, and rock star of the catholic type. His name is dirt now. He’s admitted to his indiscretion. Satan must have made him do her.

He said he took 'full responsibility' for his 'weakness and sinful conduct'.

The admission only fanned the flames of the online debate.

HLI defended its silence over the scandal by quoting catechism 2489: 'No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it'.

And now, coming to a catholic church near you…

Photo – a squirrel

A squirrel posed for me

I’m not a squirrel fan. They are a little to much like rats and pigeons for me to warm up to them, but this guy posed for me while I was shooting some nearby flowers. I like the result.

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Youth pastor Joshua Williams arrested

I hate writing this post. The way Google works, this post will be the top search result for the name Joshua Williams for years to come. I hate it because a little boy in Florida deserves a good name. Yet an older man with the same name stands accused of raping a young man who attended his church.
Joshua Williams, 22, is accused of engaging in sex acts with a young male member of the First Assembly of God church in Lewiston.
An Androscoggin County grand jury indicted him of three charges of gross sexual assault and three counts of unlawful sexual contact. Williams was a former youth minister at the church.
The victim was 15. There were several incidents.
Williams was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury last month. One of the felony sexual assault charges stems from an alleged incident in Bar Harbor on Aug. 15, 2009, during a camping trip. Another of the assault charges allegedly occurred Oct. 15, 2009, in Auburn, according to court records. The third assault charge allegedly happened in Lewiston on Feb. 15, 2010. The contact incidents occurred twice in Auburn and once in Lewiston during the spring and summer of 2009, according to the indictment.
I often wonder how a 22 year old man is considered a pastor. How much experience and maturity can a typical 22 year old bring to his or her post? It’s a cop-out. Churches need cheap help and young adults fit the bill. It’s a formula for disaster.

Photo - HDR of a pond

HDR of a pond

I shot this HDR photo today using a three picture bracket.

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Introducing: For Reality’s Sake

Please join me in welcoming one of the newest members of the Atheist Blogroll, For Reality’s Sake.

Hi, everyone!

My name is Iva.  I am the creator of the blog For Reality's Sake (www.forrealityssake.weebly.com).  I write from the perspective of an atheist and science-lover who's found herself recently trapped as a SAHM in Texan suburbia.  Yes, unfortunately, that's my perspective.  :/

I write about topics including atheism, my love for reality and science, parenting, and life in general as an atheist mom living in a Christian-flavored world.  I welcome all atheists and science-lovers--especially those of you who are parents--to come and connect with me!

I'd love to hear from other parents in similar positions--and from anyone else who relates--so, For Reality's Sake, don't hesitate to comment!

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

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Photo – close-up of a Camellia

Stigam of a Camellia

Another shot from Descanso Gardens.

It’s half time at the Super Bowl – Go Packers.

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Youth Pastor Jeffrey Crosley arrested

JeffreyCrosleyWhile the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the Super Bowl, a Pennsylvania youth pastor sits in jail on charges that he molested and raped at least two boys. There may be as many as 10 victims.

Crosley had volunteered for 10 years at Jesus Messiah Evangelical Free Church in Hanover but recently stopped working there.

Littlestown police arrested Crosley on Thursday, charging him with rape and other offenses. They say he admitted having sexual relationships with about 10 boys.

Crosly will face child pornography charges too. The authorities say they found images on his computer.

His church as taken the typical “circle your wagons” approach to the crisis. Their website is down and “under construction.”

Crosely was not a pastor, nor was he a paid member of staff. He was a volunteer. My question is for the church. Did you clear your volunteers? Did you provide proper oversight? Did you review his access to children?

The church had this to say:

"We are deeply grieved by the revelations of the last few days," Dennis Davis, Jesus Messiah Evangelical Free Church Elder. "It appears great wrong has been done and we hurt deeply for and with the victims, Jeff's family, and one another."

Photo – pink camellia

A purple Camellia

I have 5 camellia’s at my house. The best of these cannot produce a bloom like this. The camellia forest at Descanso Gardens is amazing.

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Was the Trinity added to the bible?

I was listening to a lecture called Misquoting Jesus by Dr. Bart. D. Ehrman when I heard the story of how The Trinity was added to the bible via the Latin manuscripts (in part 5) and that it had not existed in the known Greek manuscripts in any form. In the video below, the discussion starts at 9:10 and picks up with specifics about The Trinity at 10:40. The implication is that early Christians invented the concept and then added it the Christian body of knowledge via modifications to the Latin texts in order to protect doctrine.

The Trinity was one of the hardest things for me to grasp as a Christian and made even less sense after I became an atheist. I rarely argued the point though. How does one argue against a position that is irrational?

Photo - A dead leaf

A dead leaf

I visited Descanso Gardens this sunny Superbowl Sunday morning. Most of the plants are dormant, but the camellias were in bloom. I’ll post a few shots of those later. I shot this dead leaf while walking on the fringes of the camellia forest.

Green Bay just scored…

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Why are Christians investing in gaming ventures?

Looking in from the outside, I see Bishop Eddie Long as a fraud. This video shows him endorsing a man who is selling a get rich quick scheme involving online gaming. Long does this from his pulpit. The whole venture appears to be an illegal fraud that Long’s church profited from. How hard is it for people to ask, “Is this what Jesus would do?”

Seriously now folks – is this what church is?

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If you can’t trust your pastor, who can you trust?

Pastor Bruce Stutzman allegedly stole from members of New Hope Alliance Church and the church itself. What bothers me is that the church does not want to press charges. Why?

The church re-branded itself as Cross Life Church. Go figure.

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Pastor Danny O’Guin convicted

DannyOguinA Baptist pastor named Danny O’Guin was convicted on 8 counts of mail fraud.

Danny O'Guin, 63, the former pastor of the Parker Road Baptist Church in Florissant, was sentenced Friday to eight months in federal prison for mail fraud in a scheme that took money from his congregants from 2006 to 2009. O'Guin pleaded guilty in November. Prosecutors said he persuaded church members to make loans despite their reservations, on a false claim that the money would be used to rehab or pay off homes he owned outside Missouri. O'Guin was previously pastor at Tower Grove Baptist. U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey ordered O'Guin to pay more than $100,000 in restitution, with the specific amount still being determined.

Note to congregants – Don’t loan your pastor money to pay off that house in the next state over. It’s a scam.

O’Guin used his power and influence to compel his congregants to load him the money.

Between June 2006 and March 2009, O'Guin would borrow thousands of dollars from church members who -- according to the U.S. Attorney's Office -- felt compelled to enter the transactions with their religious leader.

Just say no. It’s easier.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A pack of smokes and a short chat

I like to think I’m sensitive to the needs of the homeless. I feed them when I can. I rarely give money, but I’ll always buy a meal; Even if it means I go without. I stopped at a 7/11 today for a packaged sandwich and bottle of water on my way to a meeting out in Simi Valley. I only had a few minutes of spare time, and the turkey on wheat is a pretty good quick meal. As I walked out after my purchase a homeless man asked me for spare change. I said no and offered him my sandwich instead. He hesitated for a moment before declining, and then added that what he wanted the money for was to buy a few cigarettes. Apparently, a store clerk he knows sells singles on the side. I asked what brand he smoked and then walked back into the store to buy him a pack. When I returned and handed him his cigarettes, he said, “Thanks, but what’s the deal?”

I told him I was just doing my good dead for the day. The look on his face told me he did not buy it. I insisted that I really had no agenda, and that I did not want anything from him.. What he said next offended me. ‘You religious types always want something.” I flipped out a little. I’m sure my, “dude – fuck off” came off a little harsh.

He stepped back. I stepped back. I said, “I’m an atheist.” His response was interesting. He said, “But you game me cigarettes.”

“I would have bought you beef jerky if that’s what you needed. I’m just trying to help. I have no agenda other than the fact that I help people.”

We talked for ten minutes. He smoked, I ate. He told me his story. I listened. When it was time for me to leave I asked if there was anything else I could do for him. He smiled and said no. He added that today had been a good day. I was happy. He was happy.

The funny thing is I learned to help people while I was a Christian. The man who taught me simple stated that it was our obligation as Christians to help people who needed aid. I’ve done it my whole life but I don’t think of it as a Christian act. The man who taught me explained that helping people was an act of love. Asking for nothing in return was an act of service. And most importantly, to use the opportunity as a means to minister was un-Christ like. Every other Christian pastor I came in contact with while a Christian stressed offering help as a means to minister. My helpful pastor (who no longer plays that game) stressed help as an act of love and compassion. That stuck with me.

I can buy a homeless man meal or a pack of cigarettes. I can ask for nothing in return. I can spend ten minutes (or an hour) simply listening. I do it because I can. I do it because I should. I do it because a nice man taught me about authentic love. I do it because it makes me feel good. What other reasons do I need?

THE GOD SPELL IBV 2011 CALENDAR

Another fine offering from my long time friend fishheadsalad. Watch and get your free calendar.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Youth pastor Drew Underwood

Youth pastor – why do you think it’s ok to solicit underage girls for sex over the internet? OK – I’m assuming it’s the internet. I could be wrong. The facts state “electronic communication system”. Youth pastor Drew Underwood has some explaining to do.
Underwood is a former employee of Kentucky Heartland Outreach. He posted on his MySpace page that he is a youth minister at Mt. Roberts Baptist Church. Pickard said he was also told that Underwood maintains that employment.
However, Kyle Franklin, pastor at Mt. Roberts Baptist Church, said just before press time that Underwood no longer works at his church. He declined to stay when Underwood's employment ended.
I consider this type of idiocy culling the herd.

 Update 11/22/2011 - All charges were dropped against Drew Underwood after it was shown that other people had access to his computer.


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Baptist battle royal

Every year or so we here a story about a fistfight in a church. I don’t cover them because they all seem so pedestrian. People fight all the time. Where is the conflict? I’ve been wrong though. Fistfights in church say a lot about the culture of Christians. I want to explore that in this post. In Fletcher, North Carolina, members of the Greater New Zion Baptist Church got into a fight at a church meeting where they were trying to determine if they should keep or fire their pastor.

Rice said that, because there was such a large crowd of people — about 75 — on the scene, the fact that as many as 30 officers responded was a “fairly appropriate response.”

“There were children there, and other parishioners,” Rice said, “so our primary concern was their safety and getting them away from the altercation.”

30 police officers were called to a Baptist church. Wow. Pastor LeVonia Ray is the cause of the fight. Some say he’s a womanizing lout, others say its all made up. the case is heading to court.

LeVonia Ray, 72, of Asheville, says he is still the senior pastor at Greater New Zion Baptist Church until the congregation decides otherwise. However, the church’s treasurer, Betty Garner, said in her Dec. 19 complaint that Ray entered the church without authorization.

Last Sunday at the church, a call for a vote over whether to keep Ray led to a brawl that was broken up by about 30 police officers. Ray did not attend the service, saying he didn’t want to cause friction.

My question is simple. Do they worship Christ or do they worship Ray? How is one man so important to your worship of Christ that you let him stand between you and the God you are supposed to be emulating (and worshiping)? How is this Christian? How is this in any way like what we expect a church full of Christians to act? It’s deplorable. It’s hypocrisy. But sadly, it’s conduct expected.

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Surviving California’s DMV

I’m turning 50 in a few weeks so its time to renew my driver license. That means visiting California’s DMV. Few things are less enjoyable. To start the process I tried to register for an appointment online, but all appointments were at least 45 days out. Since my license expires in just a few days and I travel a lot, waiting for an appointment for what is essentially a 3 minute renewal process, did not seem wise. I chose to go without an appointment.

I visited the Fullerton office first. My OCD kicked in when I parked my car. I counted over thee hundred cars in a tight lot. Walking in the building I found at least 600 people occupying every available open space. The greeter spoke limited English, did not want to talk to me, and simply handed be a number and a form. The clock said it would be a three hour wait. The vibe was ugly, I bailed.

Bellflower’s DMV is a short jaunt down the freeway. Their parking lot is small. My guess is it held about one hundred cars. This worked to my advantage. I bullied my way into a parking spot and walked to the greeters. Five minutes later I had a ticket and was told my wait would be 20 minutes. 20 minutes was bullshit. Hot tip - Fewer parking spots means less people.

I went tech free. No Kindle, no phone, and no iPod. My goal was to practice my focus and think through a couple of work related problems. It’s hard for me to do this in a room full of people. I gave up and started people watching instead. Hot tip – take something to distract yourself.

The people were an odd mix. 25% were disgruntled and made up of your classic rage candidates. I spoke to a few. They immediately started telling me their stories of institutional frustration. In most cases they had made some silly mistake and could not fathom the process for correcting the error. Hot tip – Don’t work at the DMV.

A large number, perhaps as much as 50%, were people who did not speak English well and wanted an identification card. These people are treated like potentially dangerous criminals and sequestered off in their own section. Getting in their queue is a bad idea. You will be there all day. For the record, that’s windows 1 to 15. Hot tip – if you want and ID card, go to a counterfeiter.

The only other advice I can give is to bring a pen, don’t drink from the water fountain or the washroom, keep your wallet in your front pocket, try not to make eye contact with the malcontents, be patient and be nice. The DMV staff is trying hard but they are stuck between new technology, budget cuts, and a million other Californians.

My DMV experience took a total of four hours out of my day including the drive time. My actual contact time with real people broke down like this:

  • Fullerton greeter: 30 seconds.
  • Bellflower greeter: 15 seconds.
  • License renewal: 1 minute 10 seconds.
  • Photo: 30 seconds.

It’s no wonder people get frustrated. All you do is wait. It’s also no wonder they employ highly visible security.

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LA Times photo a day for 2011

My wife brought this to my attention this evening. Check out the LA Times Southern California Moments.

What have you seen in Southern California that was compelling enough to make you stop and take a photo? We'd like to feature these moments you captured.

Every day of 2011, we'll choose one photo to share with our readers. Photos will be posted each day on L.A. Now and on latimes.com/socalmoments. Highlights will appear on Framework.

And the photos are good.

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Don’t put your faith in miracles. Trust science.

It's like watching the future.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pastor Charles Abdelahad arrested

The Very Rev. Charles Michael Abdelahad stand charged with the rape, assault and battery of a 43-year-old woman. The priest allegedly bit and beat his victim.

A statement of facts on file in court states the Rev. Abdelahad beat the woman on different occasions dating back to 2007.

The priest allegedly bit and beat the victim during at least one assault. Detectives also allege he struck her with a religious icon and bat and scratched her on the stomach with keys.

In a criminal complaint, Detective Maureen M. Siedlecki accuses Rev. Abdelahad of pulling the victim's hair, slamming her head on the floor, sitting on her and punching her in the head during one alleged assault, according to court records.

It sounds liked Abdelahad liked rough sex. Who knew? Is that good behavior for a Christian and long time pastor? I don’t think so.

Abdelahad was the pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Worcester, MA.

The Very Rev. Father Michael Abdelahad has been a beloved pastor of the St. George Cathedral family for more than 25 years. As the matter is the subject of formal court proceedings, to which the Church is not a party, it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment until these proceedings have been concluded.

St. George Orthodox Cathedral Parish Council

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Pastor Jason Roberts arrested

JasonRobertsWhy the sad face Jason? Could it be that being arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior on a 12-year-old comes with some unwanted attention in lock up?

The victim told detectives that Jason Roberts, 36, inappropriately touched her while she was asleep. After she woke up, detectives said he immediately stopped and apologized.

The incident was unreported until the victim went to the police in 2010.

Detectives said Roberts admitted to the crime, and later told his spouse, family members and his church congregation.

I don’t understand how pastors can do this. You would think they are more inclined to protect children than violation them.

Roberts is the pastor at Christian Fellowship Church in Dade City, Florida.