Monday, April 30, 2012

Photo: Road to Baker, CA


We were delayed on the the road out of Las Vegas to Los Angeles at Halloran Summit east of Baker on Sunday. There was a horrible accident. Two children Sonya De Anda Martinez, 15, and Jesus De Anda Martinez, 6, died at the scene. A LifeFlight helicopter flew in to take the surviving victims to the hospital.

I was stuck for 45 minutes. I shot a few pictures so that I could remember the event. I don’t know why I document my life like this. It’s a bit of a compulsion. Five years from now I want to be able to remember this trip. This is one piece of the story.

The haze at the end of the road is the town of Baker, Ca. The accident was just over the horizon.

My mind does not let things go. I had to find out what happened. Now I’m sorry I did. My grandmother died the same way back in the 60s. A rollover on the road to Las Vegas. What a horrible way to die.

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NPR: From minister to atheist

I listened to an interesting story on NPR this morning called From minister to atheist. It’s a story of a female pastor coming out to her congregation. It’s not pretty. In few short days she goes from life-long pastor to a shunned member of her own community. Life can be different once one rejects the church. Especially when one is leading the faithful. 

I’ve thought about this a great deal in my own terms. I was an active and focused Christian back in my teens. Once I rejected belief, I walked away from all of my Christian friends. I had no other choice. They no longer wanted to talk to me. The discomfort was painful. I think about it all the time, even 30 years later. I’m sure Teresa MacBain is feeling it much deeper. She has more to lose.

Teresa did something very different than I did. She turned her back on her church and did so in a very public. Maybe she did it for drama or for the shock value, the story does not go into her motives for coming out the way she did. The atheist conference sure treated her like a rock star. I understand that. It takes guts to throw your career away. Her church would have viewed her public admission as a direct attack. They circled the wagons and shunned her. What did she expect? Christians do this by rote. It’s a community survival strategy.

I don’t think it would have played out much better is she had come out to her church. Except for that she would likely have been goose-stepped off the property. Churches are not inclusive when it comes to those who reject core beliefs.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Introducing Football v. Religion

We’ve had a new blog join the Atheist blogroll: Football v. Religion

It may have been a slow burn since the mid 1800s, but since televised football started in the late 1960s and more recently live football matches became available via satellite, football is on the up, and religion is well and truly in the relegation zone.

This blog aims to help explain why football will eventually replace religion, while pointing out the main similarities and differences between them.

Strangely, until recently I thought little about religion, but much about football. However, after 'having' to study the Philosophy of Religion as part of a larger course, I was forced to consider 'the argument for god'. I am now consumed with the complete ridiculousness of organised religion, especially the 3 main Abrahamic religions, and I am astounded by the complete lack of critical thinking or questioning that accompanies religious belief.

If people are happy in this delusion, so be it, but they wish to use religion to influence laws and governmental decisions that effect me and my life. That is just plain stupid.

I would not say that I was a 100% ATHEIST, but what I am is 100% convinced that there is absolutely NO truth in Christianity, Islam or Judaism.

There is no benign, all powerful being watching our every move and intervening - if there was he would have an awful lot of explaining to do !!!

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.

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Hands that pray also prey

Karl VanderWoude likes to hang out with friends, host bible studies, pray, and allegedly grope young women and snap upskirt photos. Don’t worry though, he’s a nice Christian.
"We had some meetings for bible study" in Vanderwoude's apartment, said Javier Maldonado, 38, a neighbor of the pair, who said he attended several Bible study groups at the apartment in recent months.
Maldonado said he was shocked to hear the news about Vanderwoude, adding, "He's a pretty quiet guy, a kind guy."
Read more: Accused 'Well Dressed' Groper Hosted Bible Studies, Neighbors Say
But wait. There is more. VanderWoude, a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Christian “university” in Florida, allegedly has a fetish problem (and impulse control issues).
On March 30, he allegedly grabbed a 22-year-old woman inside the subway station at Centre and Chambers streets, touching her buttocks and forcing her to stick her hand between her legs underneath her skirt while apparently recording with his cell phone, the complaint said. The woman then felt the man's hand near her groin while he had his cell phone underneath her skirt.
He’s friends think it is a case of mistaken identity because he’s too nice to do something like this and he’s a Christian…. as if that matters.

Update 4/22/2012 - Karl Vanderwoude Insists He Is Not the ‘Well-Dressed’ Groper
Update 4/22/2012Karl Vanderwoude Tells CBS 2 He Is Not The ‘Gentleman Groper’
Update 5/6/2012DA to drop charges against 'Gentleman Groper' because alibi checks out: lawyer
Update 5/6/2012Charges to be dropped against man accused of being preppy groper: lawyer

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Love this…

The Dirty Heads Live From Daryl’s House singing Rich Girl
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Poem 13: My favorite Haiku

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month

summer grasses---
all that remains
of warriors’ dreams

Matsou Basho (1644 -1694)

While in Kyoto Japan in 1986, I took a tour of the stunningly beautiful Kiyomizu-dera temple. I mentioned that the view from the deck was visual poetry to a elderly Japanese man standing near me. He recited this poem, and two others in response.

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Poem 12: At Last the Secret is Out

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month

At last the secret is out,
as it always must come in the end,
the delicius story is ripe to tell
to tell to the intimate friend;
over the tea-cups and into the square
the tongues has its desire;
still waters run deep, my dear,
there's never smoke without fire.

Behind the corpse in the reservoir,
behind the ghost on the links,
behind the lady who dances
and the man who madly drinks,
under the look of fatigue
the attack of migraine and the sigh
there is always another story,
there is more than meets the eye.

For the clear voice suddently singing,
high up in the convent wall,
the scent of the elder bushes,
the sporting prints in the hall,
the croquet matches in summer,
the handshake, the cough, the kiss,
there is always a wicked secret,
a private reason for this.

W.H. Auden (1907 – 1973)

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Poem 11: Poetry Slam - Shane Hawley

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month

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Poem 10: Sonnet XXV

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil'd,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil'd:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be remove

William Shakespeare

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Poem 9: The Ideal

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.

This is where I came from.
I passed this way.
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say.

A self is a self.
It is not a screen.
A person should respect
What he has been.

This is my past
Which I shall not discard.
This is the ideal.
This is hard.

James Fenton

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Poem 8: Rebirth

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.

My entire verve–
is a dark verse.
It will take you–
to the unending dawn–
of blooms, flight and light.

In this verse,
I heaved you a sigh, sigh.

In this verse,
I tied you to the trees,
Water and flames.

Life perhaps,
is that long, shady road,
where every day, a woman wanders–
with her basket of fruits.

Life perhaps, is that rope;
the one that a man would hang himself with–
in a gray, rainy day,–
from a thick branch.

Life perhaps,
is that child who is running back home.

Life perhaps,
is those brief smokes,
in the lazy, idle times–
stolen from two making-loves.

Life perhaps,
is that still instant,
when my eyes sink–
in the reflection of your sight.

Life perhaps,
is its sheltering sense;
I will merge it- with the flood of moonlight–
and the frozen abode of night.

In my little,
lonely room,
my heart is invaded–
by the silent crowd of love.

I am keeping track of my life:
The beautiful decay of a rose, in this antique vase;
the growing plant that you brought;
and those birds in their timber cage.
They are singing every hour,
up to the full depth–
of the view.

This is my share.
This is my share.

My share,
is a piece of sky–
and a little shade–
can take it away.

My share,
is a gradual descent–
from some deserted stairs.
It is a sudden landing–
in some forsaken,
exiling place.

My share,
is a gloomy march–
in the distant garden of my past.

My share,
is a slow death–
for the advent of a voice.
The voice–
who once said:
“I love your hands”.

I will plant my hands.
I will grow, I know, I know,
I know.

And a lost bird-
will lay lots of eggs–
in my inky palms.

I will pick a pair of twin cherries,
and I will hang them on my ears.
I will take two white oleanders,
And I will put them charily–
on my fingertips.

There is a road,
full of young, vulgar boys.
I used to be their sole muse.
They are still hanging–
with their untidy hair,
with the same thin legs,
about the same square.

they are still thinking–
of that little girl, with a shy beam;
the girl that one day–
faded in the breeze.

There is a congested road that my heart,
kept it from my childhood neighborhood.

The journey of a mass in the row of Time;
And loading this arid line,
with the weight of its shape;
a polished, smooth, even shape–
coming from a place, just after the village–
of the mirrors.

And it is so–
that some will remain–
and others die.

Did you ever meet a fisher who caught a pearl
in the yellow, inert, close-by river?

I know a sad, little fairy.
She is living in a remote ocean.
And she is playing her heart
into a wooden flute.

A sad little fairy
who dies every dusk.
She is reborn the day after
right at the dawn,
from a slight kiss.

Forough Farrokhzad (1935 – 1967)
Translation: Maryam Dilmaghani

Read more here.

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Poem 7: Tribute to Bradley Nowell

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month

This poem was written as a tribute to the late Bradley Nowell of Sublime and was read at his memorial service. It was later set to music by the remaining members of Sublime and If All Else Fails.

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Poem 6: The Sun is Shining

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month

Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Make you want to move your dancing feet
To the rescue, here i am
Want you to know, y’all, where i stand

(monday morning) here i am
Want you to know just if you can
(tuesday evening) where i stand
(wenesday morning)
Tell myself a new day is rising
(thursday evening) get on the rise
A new day is dawning
(friday morning) here i am
(saturday evening) want you to know just
Want you to know just where i stand

When the morning gathers the rainbow
Want you to know i’m a rainbow too
So, to the rescue here i am
Want you to know just if you can
Where i stand, know, know, know, know, know

We’ll lift our heads and give jah praises
We’ll lift our heads and give jah praises, yeah

Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Make you want to move your dancing feet
To the rescue, here i am
Want you to know just if you can
Where i stand

(wenesday morning)
Tell myself a new day is rising
(thursday evening) get on the rise
A new day is dawning
(friday morning) here i am
(saturday evening) want you to know just
Want you to know just where i stand

When the morning gathers the rainbow
Want you to know i’m a rainbow too
So to the rescue, here i am
Want you to know just if you can
Where i stand, know, know, know, know, know

We’ll lift our heads and give jah praises (repeat)
Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Make you want to move your dancing feet
To the rescue, here i am
Want you to know just if you can
Where i stand, no, no, no, no, where i stand
Sun is shining, sun is shining

Bob Marley (1945 - 1981)

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Poem 5: Pop-Up Poets & Jon Sands

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.


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Poem 4: A song about myself

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.

There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be-
He took
In his knapsack
A book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels,
A slight cap
For night cap,
A hair brush,
Comb ditto,
New stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This knapsack
Tight at's back
He rivetted close
And followed his nose
To the north,
To the north,
And follow'd his nose
To the north.

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetry-
He took
An ink stand
In his hand
And a pen
Big as ten
In the other,
And away
In a pother
He ran
To the mountains
And fountains
And ghostes
And postes
And witches
And ditches
And wrote
In his coat
When the weather
Was cool,
Fear of gout,
And without
When the weather
Was warm-
Och the charm
When we choose
To follow one's nose
To the north,
To the north,
To follow one's nose
To the north!

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
He kept little fishes
In washing tubs three
In spite
Of the might
Of the maid
Nor afraid
Of his Granny-good-
He often would
Hurly burly
Get up early
And go
By hook or crook
To the brook
And bring home
Miller's thumb,
Not over fat,
Minnows small
As the stall
Of a glove,
Not above
The size
Of a nice
Little baby's
Little fingers-
O he made
'Twas his trade
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle-
A kettle
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle!

There was a naughty boy,
And a naughty boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
The people for to see-
There he found
That the ground
Was as hard,
That a yard
Was as long,
That a song
Was as merry,
That a cherry
Was as red,
That lead
Was as weighty,
That fourscore
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in England-
So he stood in his shoes
And he wonder'd,
He wonder'd,
He stood in his
Shoes and he wonder'd.

John Keats (1795 1821)

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Poem 3: Billy Collins - Litany

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.
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Poem 2: On Memory

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.

the vast night---
now nothing left
but the fragrance

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

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Introducing Deity Shmeity

We’ve had a new blog join the Atheist blogroll: Deity Shmeity

As you can tell by the name of my blog, Deity Shmeity, I don’t take God very seriously. I started blogging about religion a month ago in an effort to convince others to not take God seriously either. My motto, why be insulting when you can be dismissive?

My other motto, the official one, is “one day we’ll all be atheists, I’m just an early adopter.” I know that theism is on the decline and with a little rebranding, we can leave atheism’s baggage at the door and reclaim it’s most basic meaning--people who don’t believe in magic.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.

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Poem 1: On Simplicity

Celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month

the spring in my hut
there is nothing
there is everything

Sodo Yamaguchi (1643-1716)

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

National Poetry Month blog challenge

npm2012_poster_540National Poetry Month is coming to an end soon. Tomorrow is Poem In Your Pocket Day. A day when poem lovers will pass out poems to unsuspecting people all over America. I will participate in two ways.

1. A few of my coworkers will get a poem tomorrow. I hope it makes them smile a little.

2. I will publish a poem on my blog every hour from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

The Challenge: I challenge other bloggers to participate Poem In Your Pocket Day by posting at least one poem on their blogs.

It’s easy. Choose a poem you like, your favorite poem, or one you wrote. Make a post with the poem and link to’s National Poetry Month. Send me a link if you can, or link to me from within your post. I promise to read every poem.

I told a lady at work today that I’ve read a poem a day for almost 35 years. She was stunned. When she asked why, I told her that poetry helps me connect to an inner peace that is a lot like how I feel when visiting a favorite secluded spot in nature, like in Joshua Tree, where I can calm my mind and relax by simply sitting on a rock. I consider it a form of meditation. The same goes for poetry.

Poem in Your Pocket Day is cool.

To start things off I will share this Haiku poem by my snarky friend David.

Haikus don’t make sense
They are always so random

- David F. 4/25/2012

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Youth pastor Jerrod McCabe guilty

Youth pastor Jerrod Don McCabe pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and was sentenced to a whopping six to 17 months of probation. It was North Carolina. I think the rules are little different there, but not as bad a those in Texas. It’s a southern thing. 

McCabe’s crime did not involve molesting children. He was into child porn. It was found on his church PC.

McCabe was a youth director at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church. I hope the church keeps an eye on him. He’s likely to be “Restored” at some point.

I’m not going to do this

Some photos are not worth it. I’m not going to lie in the mud for that perfect photo anymore, nor I am going to go rooftoping. It’s just not worth it. I’ll let the kids risk their lives for photos nobody will really like. I’ll be happy to take a photo of you rooftoping. I’m easy that way.

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City of Angels Blog

I write about clergy sexual abuse. It’s a passion of mine now for about eight years. They I meet a lot of people who are involved in one way or another. Some are pastors, some are bystanders or witnesses, and some are victims. Meeting victims is the hardest thing I do. Reading their stories is easier, but not by much. The author of the City of Angels Blog is a victim of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Los Angeles. She tells the story of abuse and accountability from the inside. Give her some love.

Introducing Hausdorff's Bible Blog

We’ve had a new blog join the Atheist blogroll: Hausdorff's Bible Blog

I have recently heard many Atheists declare that the bible is full of terrible things. Although they usually seem credible, I have not read very much of the bible myself and it doesn't seem right to agree with them based on little evidence. I also notice that Christians are always talking about how much great stuff is in the bible. It seems to me that both sides are just seeing what they want to see. So what is the truth? Are the atheists right and the bible is mostly full of horrible things that seemed reasonable centuries ago? Are Christians right that the bible is mostly full of good things that we can use as a model to live our lives by? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the middle?

I aim to find this out for myself. Each day I read a little bit of the bible, write a summary of what happened and then add my commentary on it. Also, at the end of each book I write an extremely brief summary of the good and bad within. In an effort to avoid the whole "that is just old testament" argument I started at Matthew, but assuming I enjoy doing this for long enough I don't see a reason why I couldn't eventually cycle back to Genesis (and if this keeps being fun for a really long time I might do the book of Mormon, but at my current pace that is years away)

Since I started I have also expanded a bit. I am currently doing a book club with a CS Lewis book where I read a chapter a week and deconstruct it in a similar manner to my bible reading. I also have been writing about random topics that interest me on the weekend.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.

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Feeling the Weezer love this morning

Weezer – Heart Songs

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Introducing Godless Poutine

We’ve had a new blog join the Atheist blogroll: Godless Poutine
Godless - an atheist or heathen.
Poutine - a delicious Canadian dish of French fries and fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy or sauce.
I'm an ex-Catholic atheist anglophone living in Montreal Canada. Once a Catholic, then a Wiccan, then a pantheist, now an atheist, I write about my transition away from religion, atheism, secular humanism and philosophy. I cover the news of the day, popular culture, movies and books from a Canadian atheist point of view.
Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pastor David Allen to be tried for murder

DavidAllenThis case chills your bones. A pastor married for 20 years loses his wife in a tragic house fire. Less than a year later he’s married to a 27-year-old replacement wife Megan Lynn Griffith. At least the authorities did not drink the Kool-Aid.

The capital murder charge stems from the March 22, 2011 death of Allen’s former wife Paula in a house fire.

Allen was indicted in February, accused of setting the fire deliberately, using a flammable accelerant.

Paula Allen, 54, was found dead just inside the front door of a mobile home behind the New Life Church of Restoration just east of Gatesville.

I don’t think it helped his case that he was seeing a younger woman from church while he was still married to his wife. And then there is the rumored pregnancy.

Did you think you would not be sued?

This is the kind of things that drives me a little crazy. Youth pastor Derek Coulter caused the death of 13-year-old when he allowed him to drive an SUV (and crash it). He lied about the crash too. He is an horrible example modern Christian youth ministry. A kid leading kids, or at least an immature adult leading kids. The fact remains that he caused the death of a kid. It stands to reason that the parents of the child would seek redress. Right?

But in a trial starting today in Nelson Circuit Court, a jury will be asked to decide a more vexing question: Should the Big Springs Assembly of God church, Coulter’s former employer, be responsible for his misconduct and for Jamie’s death?

The church counters with a few facts…

  • Coulter was on his day off
  • It was not an official church camp out
  • It was not on church property

They don’t address that fact that the relationship was custodial. That the church knew about Coulter’s irresponsible behavior. That all children attending the camp were from the church. And, that coulter did youth minister stuff. He was an agent of the church… It’s pretty easy to see.

Now… pay the settlement. Sell the church. Move to the next town and start over. Go ahead, that what happens when you kill a child. You pay your dues. You make it right with the parents. It seems like the Christian thing to do. Right?

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“Oops”… Philadelphia archdiocese

Philadelphia archdiocese said, We let a pedophile priest “fall through the cracks.”

In this Tuesday, March 27, 2012 photo, Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center, in Philadelphia. According to testimony Thursday, April 19, 2012 in a clergy-abuse trial, a heinous 1992 priest-abuse complaint "fell through the cracks" at the Philadelphia archdiocese, leaving the accused pastor to continue leading a suburban parish for three more years. Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy at the Roman Catholic archdiocese, is charged with child endangerment and conspiracy in his handling of the 1992 complaint and other sex-abuse allegations about priests.

Read more here: Pa. priest trial painful, poignant for Catholics

The truth shall set you free.


Tales of Catholic sexual abuse

I recently watched Twist of Faith, a documentary cover the abuse case of firefighter Tony Comes. I thought I’d pass it along as a interesting look inside an actual abuse case. One of the primary responses from the Catholic church and it’s defenders is that those raising abuse allegations are doing so for financial gain. What if you find that the priest that abused you as a child is now living a few house down the road ? Would you act to protect your kids? I would.

Tony Comes, a firefighter from Toledo, Ohio, who was first sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was a fourteen-year-old student at a Catholic high school.

Feeling ashamed, Comes kept his secret for nearly 20 years but was forced to confront his past after discovering that the priest, Dennis Gray, was living on the same street as Comes, his wife, and their two young children.

Comes decided to go public and bring a lawsuit against the priest and Church leaders who had neglected to take action after reading a series of investigative stories in The Toledo Blade revealing sweeping patterns of abuse and cover up in the diocese—including interviews with other Gray victims.

Why did you go into the seminary? <chills>

Introducing Atheism is Religion

Note: I realize Atheism is Religion may raise a few concerns as it runs counter to our prevailing rhetorical position, but the world is made of all types, so I let this blog join. I expect you all to be nice when visiting his blog.

We’ve had a new blog join the Atheist Blogroll: Atheism is Religion

Hey! My name is Gareth Mensah,

I'm an ordained atheist minister who wrote a scripture for non-believers called Ordo Abchao, in which atheists, agnostics, gnostics, and part-time believers will find one bad-ass, epic immersion into the life of a member of the Atheism Is Religion (AIR) movement trying to survive one hell of an apocalyptic future where winged-creatures have invaded Earth, but mysteriously disappear at night.

I've created where I post ten daily tips and wisdoms on how to become a better atheist. Theres' an assumption that exist within the non-believer community that atheism and anti-theism are one and the same, or broadly that a disbelief in god(s) necessarily goes with anti-religious feelings. As an ordained atheist minister, I try to dispel this misconception, and I also have a wiki about the AIR (Atheism Is Religion) movement called where I explain the project of Ordo Abchao and the AIR movement. I also have another blog called where I aggregate all atheist-inspired graphics, quotes or videos.

So come check out my blogs for more information.  There are many voices in the non-believer community, I'm trying to voice mine and that of those with similar views that religion and atheism are not contradictory, but might actually be the future of the movement.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.

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Another arrest for pastor John Brothers

JohnBrothersIt’s been rumored for awhile now. Youth pastor John Holland Brothers, profiled here, allegedly molested at least one other child in Steamboat Springs.
John Holland Brothers Jr., 43, was booked into Routt County Jail on Tuesday night after being arrested in Louisiana last week. He was booked on 27 felony charges. Among them: eight counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, four counts of sexual assault on a child, seven counts of sexual assault and eight counts of first-degree burglary.
Brothers was a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Yampa and was a teacher at Heritage Christian School. At the time of his original arrest, he was youth pastor Hyland Baptist. He represents the worst case scenario for church goers. A traveling man of God who is also an alleged pedophile. It gives you chills.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Is youth ministry the problem?

imageI realize youth ministry is a relatively new concept. I survived the transition for traditional Sunday school to one manage by a youth minister back in the early 70s. It turned church into a fun experience (or as fun as it could be). Instead of watching a seriously boring sermon, I was free to interact with other kids under the guidance of a hip and trendy youth pastor. It seemed like a good thing at the time, but when I think back on it, I am amazed that I sat for the mind controlish pap peddled by those in charge. I call it my Ben Born Again experience. In retrospect, it was unhealthy. At least I still have my hair.

In a recent article at The Christian Post called Modern Youth Ministry a ‘50-Year Failed Experiment’ Say Pastors, we hear pastors busy rethinking the whole youth ministry concept. They try to link a wholesale exodus from Christianity to youth ministry. Of course, we know it is that reason is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of our youth. My theory is that today’s youth can feel that the message is inauthentic. Once you realize you’ve been mislead, the game is over. Your mind starts looking for the truth, and you find it in science, or secularism. Goodbye superstition…

To these pastors the concept is unbiblical. Worse, they think what they did was divisive (no kidding). 

"I look back and realize I did more harm to families than I ever imagined," Dellinger says in the film. "I see that more as I look back because I was usurping the authority of parents, especially fathers by having their children's hearts turn towards me – with their permission."

"Today, I can make more of a difference in the lives of young people through the biblical standards of fathers turning their hearts towards their children," he adds.

Good luck with turning back the clock… It never works.

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Murdering pastor Julio Perez sentenced

Former Pentecostal pastor Julio Cesar Parez was sentenced to 45 years in prison for arranging for the murder of his wife, a school teacher. The motive was greed. He wanted the $120,000 insurance policy. 

The minister promised a gunman $3,000 in exchange for shooting his wife. The shooter, Daniel Lopez, told the court at his plea hearing that he hid in the back of her van late in March last year, forced her off the road on Robles Road near Rio Hondo and shot her.

Lopez was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Source: Minister gets 45 years for arranging wife's murder by Madeline Buckley

Who kills someone for $3,000? I have trouble understanding this kind of crime. How does a man of God turn on their wife with murderous intent? How does murder, greed, and conspiracy factor into the life of a pastor? What gospel was he studying? Is this what Pentecostals preach?

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Who I am

I love this song. Who I am by the Dave Matthews Band.
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Chuck Colson is dead

I’m not a fan of Chuck Colson. I found his past life working for Nixon a national disgrace, and his born again life as a Christian incomprehensible. He billed himself as America’s foremost Christian thinker, yet I found his thinking shallow, bigoted and hard to follow. I did not even need to buy his books. He sent them to me to read and review. I could not make it through a single one.

Colson died after surgery for a blood clot.

Colson was not my enemy. I did not think ill of him. I simply did not consider his brand of Christianity authentic. And by authentic I mean based in love. He stands for America’s broken right wing conservatives whose misplaced pseudo Christian values are ruining our democracy and hurting the needy. He considered me and my fellow atheists a threat to Christianity. I simply do not understand his reasoning. He spent his time with criminals in an unsuccessful attempt to make them better people through conversion to Christianity. Yet his recidivism rates were appalling, He thinks I’m dangerous… I’m model citizen. He spent his life playacting at being a great man and succeeded.... at acting.
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Closing the books on Pastor Timothy Jackson

Former pastor Timothy Jackson was sentenced to 40 years in prison for raping a girl repeatedly over several years, beginning when the girl was aged 11.
"The activity you engaged in that you were found guilty of by a jury of your peers is heinous," Callahan said to Jackson before handing down the sentence. "It's unspeakable."
Between 2009 and 2010, Jackson was accused of sexually assaulting the victim at Abundant Life Church on Livernois in southwest Detroit. There was a fire at the church in August 2010 after the allegations surfaced.
From The Detroit News: Pastor gets at least 40 years for raping girl
I spoke to a member of the jury in this case. 40-years is not enough time. I’ve publish on this hypocrite several times already. I’m done with him now.

Introducing Reason Being

We’ve had a new blog join the Atheist blogroll: Reason Being

I decided it is time to join the blogosphere.  I stated many times that I would not conform to this modern form of ego-stroking.  Who would possibly care about the thoughts rattling around in my head?  Why did I do it?  The simplest answer is out of frustration.  I am tired of reading the paper and putting it down in disgust.  I am tired of watching the news and changing the channel in dismay.  I am tired of overhearing so many tidbits of conversation (on a daily basis) that leave me walking away and shaking my head.  What could one person do against the tide of ignorance and insanity?  My answer was to write.  To write with the hope that perhaps others will find what I have to say encouraging, interesting, or better yet thought provoking.  Most of my posts will be related to articles that I read daily.

Where has the ability to reason gone?  It seems that many people no longer think for themselves.  They accept the canned answers provided to them by the political and religious forces that bombard us constantly.  In the U.S. both parties and all religions are guilty of this.   It has become too rare that we stop to question what we hear.  It is too common that we accept as fact, that what has no proof—be it political or religious.

I consider myself a secular humanist.  I do not believe that a God exists.  I do not believe that morality, in any way, has its roots in religion.  I embrace reason, ethics and science and reject dogma, superstition, and pseudoscience.   I believe that the human mind is a wonderfully complex organ.  Furthermore, that it is capable of discovering much about our universe, creation, our own bodies—many scientists and other modern thinkers are working on these ancient questions as I write these words.  I believe in proof and fact, not faith.

I am always open to discussion and welcome debate.  It is often through debate that we learn the most.

I created this blog as a place for rational discussion on germane Secular Humanist and atheist topics in today’s world

Oh yeah—the question, “Why Reason Being?”—I find wordplay to be quite entertaining.

Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit the Atheist Blogroll for more information. or visit the the full Atheist Blogroll membership list.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our Christians have it wrong

Is it an odd sentiment, thinking that American Christians have their politics wrong, but it is one I’ve held for a very long time. American’s Christian hypocrisy, published in Salon by David Sirota, makes the point much better than I could.

Here in the United States, those who self-identify as religious tend to be exactly the opposite of their British counterparts when it comes to politics. As the Pew Research Center recently discovered, “Most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party” and its ultra-conservative economic agenda. Summing up the situation, scholar Gregory Paul wrote in the Washington Post that many religious Christians in America simply ignore the Word and “proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated union busting, minimal taxes, especially for wealthy investors, and plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations.”

The key phrase from the article, “…religion has become more of a superficial brand…” sums up my feelings. What I see in the conservative moment, in the evangelical right wing of Republican party, and in the Tea Party, is superficiality. They wrap themselves in the cloak of a religion, without understanding is actual message. It’s like a disease.

I have a Christian friend who is spending his Sunday teaching the poor how to navigate the various governmental, religious, and secular institutions that provide health services so that they can stay well enough to work and provide for their families. I think he’s on the right track.

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Dutch Photo book

We wants this… The Dutch Photobook: A Thematic Selection from 1945 Onwards. It looks like I need to visit Hennessey & Ingalls again.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

John saves me again

My computer died last night. I awoke this morning to find a dead system. A few lights flashed, but no noise (and no fan). Unfortunately, it is the computer I use to manage my photography library. It is also the one use for blogging. I was not sure if it was the computer's power supply or the motherboard. The fainy smell of burnt electronics was not encouraging.  I went into work worrying about losses that may not have yet occurred. It was stress I did not need.

Did I mention I'm an IT Manager? No? Well… I'm not technical. I manage projects mostly. Hardware is for people with nimble fingers and good small motor skills, and not some fat fingers oaf like me. John saved me. He always does. He's the best IT guy I know. He knows everything. I tell him my problem and he gives me advice. It almost always works. I followed his advice tonight and changed out my power supply. I'm sitting here watching my 100,000 plus image library backup to my new 1tb external hard drive, which means I'm a happy man.

Thanks John! I know you don't read my blog, but you are the best.

Monday, April 16, 2012

HDR: What is happiness?

HDR Carlsbad

Deep Thoughts here… What is happiness? I know when I’m happy. I know what makes me happy too. Time with my family is at the top of list, which is followed by closely by time by myself. I was sitting on a bench at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad taking in the view (pictured above) when I noticed that the while alone, I was surrounded by hundreds of happy people walking the fields. There were dozens of multigenerational families, young couples, kids, mothers pushing babies, and lots and gay families. All were happy. It was infectious. You could feel the happiness. It radiated from everyone. But why? We were in a pay to view flower field on a sunny day on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There was nothing to do but walk up and down a hillside and look at flowers, yet everyone was joyously happy. I was hugged by complete strangers. An old woman took my arm as I stood looking down over a beautiful field of orange flowers. She did not say a word. She simple smiled and squeezed my arm. Is this happiness? I hope so, because I was soaking it in like a sponge.

Brown HeadI was alone and happy. It was not the flowers that did it for me. I’m color blind and simply do not get the nuances that people go on and on about. I was content to be around happy people, yet I liked being by myself just as much. Weird, right?

I saw a Photographersfew other people tripping like me. Take Mr. Baldy… he was doing the same thing as me. We made eye contact briefly. His smile was infectious. He was so happy it was like watching beams of light emit from his face. Did flowers do this for him? Sunshine? People?

I was there to shoot photos while my wife and her cousins did inscrutable wife and cousin things with the kids. We separated after walking in the front gate. I put my earbuds in, turned on some reggae, and started looking for shots. three hours went by in a blur. The flowers were pretty, but they bored me. The people, especially the photographers, fascinated me. I shot more people than flowers, but that is always the case.

I don’t know what happiness is, but I know it when I feel it. The thing is, I’m happy most of of the time; flowers or not. I’ve been that way my whole life.

What is happiness for you?

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Letters to a pedophile

Everyone needs human contact; even convicted pedophiles. I understand that. I think everyone would agree. Human contact is essential. The nature of the contact should be supervised when one is a pedophile. It would be unwise for pedophiles to establish any kind of unsupervised relationship with a child, especially while incarcerated. I think we can all agree on that too. It is common sense. If it is common sense, then why did a Lutheran school teacher have her students befriend pedophile Rickey R. Rowlett when he was sitting in a local jail?

Officials at a Houston private school said they are investigating how a teacher arranged for a group of fourth-graders to correspond with a man who had been charged with child sexual molestation.

Laura Perry was working as a 4th grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran Church and School when she had her students send letters to Rowlett as a class project. Perry believed Rowlett had been wrongly accused. This is personal. She knew the man. The safety of her students and her moral compass be damned. She was on a personal mission, but was it also sanctioned by her church?

It gets better… Perry’s husband stands charged with possessing and promoting child pornography. He too had access to the students. Her friend is a convicted pedophile and her husband might be a child pornographer, and she is what… horribly irresponsible?

Perry, the school and church, and pastor Michael Dorn are all named in a lawsuit brought by the students' families. In my opinion, the best way to handle cases of misconduct like this are to sue the church out of existence.

When to inform

When to inform is the question of the day in trial of Monsignor William Lynn. He faces years in prison for deliberately not informing authorities about the activities of pedophile priest under his supervision. As a result, he finds himself standing trial for child endangerment.

In case you are feeling forgiving…

A 2005 grand jury described harrowing accounts of child sexual abuse lodged against 63 Philadelphia priests since 1948, but none were charged because legal time limits had expired. Lynn was charged last year based on more recent complaints involving three priests and a teacher. The jury is also hearing many of the earlier complaints because Lynn worked on or knew about them.

Lynn’s mistakes were not innocent omissions. He protected priests that were abusing children. He did not give a damn for the victims. Go religion!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Photo: HDR Rose

HDR rose

I took my wife and mother-in-law to Carlsbad for a walk in The flower fields today. My wife conned me into going because to Cannon was there giving free macro clinics. The clinics were aimed at new users, so I did not get much from them. With 250 photographers loose in the flower fields, I was more inclined to shoot the photographers. I played with HDR and produced this photo, which I like because it reminds me of a painting. I’ve got a lot of photos to work on in post-possessing. I hope that I will yield a macro shot that is good enough for their photo contest.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Does this really help?

I see Christian markings on commercial vehicles and signage all the time, but I wonder if it hurts or helps. I sure turns me off.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An odd bit of oddness


I was researching the arrest of pastor Jeffery London when I came across this odd grouping of images on Facebook. Nothing say more about you than the friends you keep.

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Youth pastor Jeffery London arrested

Youth pastor Jeffery London was arrested and charged with 30 counts of battery and child molestation. According to the Orlando Sentinel, London was denied bail after an alleged victims emotional testimony. London faces life in prison if convicted.

Let’s run 48-year-old Jeffery London down. Can you see the problem?

  • Counselor at the Boys and Girls Club in Fort Lauderdale
  • Dean of students at Eagle charter Academy
  • Youth Pastor at Fort Lauderdale’s Bible Church of God
  • Took in troubled youths at his home

But wait for it… Parents gave their kids to London for same keeping. People are so naively trusting. Here you have a single man who’s life revolves around children, and he has little oversight, and parents give him kids. When is this ever a good idea?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pastor Hopkins convicted

Former pastor Creth Dean Hopkins was found guilty on three counts of child sexual abuse and one count of lewd molestation.Hopkins was arrested in 2010. I must have missed the story, but his case is typical.

Testimony was presented during the trial by the 22-year-old victim, who had gone to the police nearly two years ago. She told officers that Hopkins had repeatedly touched her inappropriately during encounters when she was between the ages of 13 and 16.

A recording was played for the jury of an interview with Hopkins by police and officials for the Department of Human Services. In it, Hopkins states: “I saw her as a precious thing. It sounds corny, but I wanted to honor her, to show her adoration, that I was pleased with her. I leaned forward and I kissed her, telling her how beautiful she was, how precious she was.”

Source: Pawhuska preacher convicted of molesting girl

Sick right? He faces 20 years in prison.

Hopkins was a blogger. He also founded Grace Community Church, which was not a church as much as it was a place for Hopkins to shop for victims of his “precious attention”.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Do one thing

Do one thing

Greta Christina inspires me. Her post, If Everyone Does One Thing…, resonated with me. Of course, as an atheist blogger, I do way more than one thing already, but I can do more. I can say thanks and tip with “God” stricken from “In God we Trust” on all currancy. It an easy thing to do. It’s something I can do. It’s something I did on Easter in a hotel room in Alameda just yesterday. Five one-dollar bills all with a small edit for the cause.

Do one thing. Just one you are not already doing.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

I feel the love

I was asked today if I will be going to church on Good Friday by our Korean janitor. I was sunning myself like a big fat lizard, because I was not feeling well. He asked his question, in broken English, while I enjoying my moment in the sun, so naturally, I did not give my response much thought. "No. Atheist. Discgolf." His response was as hilarious as it was hateful. He acted like he had stepped in dog shit. He averted his eyes, said "No." while shaking his head, and stomped off in a huff. He's a very religious man. I am sure my office will never be cleaned again.

Such is life among the haters.

The other party to the event was incredulous. "But Joe, you don't act like an atheist. You read poetry and are so nice and everything."

Yep. I'm a nice guy. Too nice to argue the point. Duck. Water. Back.

Update 4/3/2012 evening regarding use of the word Korean. I blogged this from my phone today. It's easier to think at home. I would have left off the janitor's ethnicity if I had taken more time on the post. My bad. I am sorry. My Korean janitor is one of many Koreans that I know who are fierce Christians and defenders of the faith. I was tying to link this trait in the post and did so poorly. My janitor is a man I respect and one who works tirelessly at his job. I meant no disrespect. 

Use a rod and go to prison

Few things please me more than reading that a nutball religious zealot is sent to prison because his biblically inspired actions are deemed illegal by our modern legal standards. Take those nutballs who beat children with rods because they think the bible tells them to do so. Pastor Philip Caminiti advocated for this type of biblical discipline. He even suggested that his followers beat children as young as 2 months old. I don’t recall that in the bible.

Assistant District Attorney Shelly Rusch, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Greg Venker, said she was surprised that the jury deliberated for such a short time. She said she did not know what resonated most with the jury, though she speculated that the ages of the children involved in the case might have weighed on them.

The charges alleged that two of the children involved were just 2 months old when discipline was advocated by Caminiti. The oldest child was 5 when the practice was stopped after police intervened in November 2010.

Read more: Black Earth pastor found guilty in child abuse case

You are not a Christian based on based on what you say. The magic prayer of salvation does not end your journey. To be a Christian you must actually practice the principles that Jesus supposed taught. I don’t recall Jesus telling his followers to beat their children. Do you?

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