Thursday, January 28, 2010
C.S. Lewis wrote a misogynistic story where a male student brings his wife or girlfriend to a tutorial session. It's obvious C.S. Lewis hated the intrusion of a female presence in his male dominated world. He is suddenly transported into her mind to a landscape where the top of trees are green blobs. Like children would draw in kindergarten. It practically stifles the poor professor until he snaps back to reality.
That's what I thought of while watching The Lovely Bones, a movie which fascinated me. Yet, it also creeped me out and I'm not certain I can recommend this.
I haven't read the book, but if it's anything like the movie, The Lovely Bones is the most unsatisfying look at a serial killer who gets away with his crimes against children. Yeah, I'm dropping spoilers like mad!
The undercurrent of this movie is obviously exploiting our current fascination with 'God's blonde'.
'God's Blonde' is my term for children who fit that picture perfect image of the Brady Bunch ideal. The concept behind 'God's blonde' began when I visited a mental hospital with a friend who was doing collections. While he was engaged in his work, I looked around the office. Behind me were hundreds of photos of people, including children, who were found dead.
Nobody had been able to identify them. I was amazed this many people were currently missing, and yet somehow the fact that hundreds were dead and missing, with no one claiming them, somehow eluded the news media.
This showed me how selective the news media is when it comes to missing children. Hundreds of children are either missing, or found dead, every year, but we only allow ourselves to notice this in small doses. Then, the media will drop someone like Caley Anthony on us.
You can bet that whoever the current missing child of the year is will be a white blonde female.
All the African American, Hispanic and Asian children are left to fend on their own. But time stands still for 'God's blonde'!
No disrespect to the Anthony family. This is more of a criticism of the media for overlooking a very serious problem we're having with child abduction, murder, and, its kissing cousin: child molestation.
We don't exactly see how the child murderer in The Lovely Bones does his despicable deed, which is a good thing. Susie Salmon, the main character is raped and killed, as are most of the other victims.
Once she is killed, we're in special effects land. All the victims of the killer/rapist unite to tell Susie, "Get over it! Step into the light, already!"
She does not want to.
Susie observes her parents reactions to her death. She wants to go back, or try to have her body discovered so the killer can get caught.
This is the most fantastic realistic piece of fatalism and defeatism I have seen in years. Period. One must usually watch subtitled foreign movies to see work this depressing. Yet, I'm thinking about the Mary Poppins song, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."
Is The Lovely Bones some kind of medicine? If it is, the special effects are the heaping tablespoons of sugar to make this poison--or, medicine, sorry--go down.
The predator is never caught. Like reality, he evades punishment until he dies in an act of neglect.
The parents eventually 'get over it'.
Susie 'gets over it' as well.
I guess the moral of the story is the sooner we just ignore tragedy, and stop with all this accountability nonsense, the better off we are. When it comes to crimes against children, closure and the legal system are on two different paths.
The thing is: that is reality.
Most child molesters/murderers will never get caught.
A very unsatisfying thought for reality, or a film laden with fantasy images.
When I saw this movie last night, it was difficult not to think about the situation that existed at my former school, Trinity Christian Academy, when Bob Gray, the founder of the school, was arrested for multiple counts of child molestation. Of course, his trial was delayed until he died, thereby giving his fans and followers an excuse to say, "He never had his day in court! Let it go."
When all the children of the killer meet Susie, an image began forming in my head of all the victims in the Trinity case (or, for that matter, all victims of child abuse), meeting each other, as children, in some kind of netherworld. Mainly for support, since they can't actually do anything in 'real life'.
This prompted the thought in my head: "Well, Bob Gray was only arrested for multiple child molestation, not murder!"
Okey-dokey! I could not believe that ridiculous thought popped up in my head.
I found myself having a grim laugh in the theater over that insane quote you just read.
That said, in the grand tradition of making lemonade out of lemons, there are probably many friends and family members of child sex predators probably saying, or thinking, the same thing. Just trying to give the best spin to the most deplorable situations.
I'm not saying that all who molest children will necessarily murder them, even though I'm shaking my head as I write this sentence. Just like children who abuse animals will most likely grow up to abuse humans, I doubt very many child murderers simply stopped at killing their prey.
Do your own research, but my gut instinct, based on reading articles and viewing reports, tends to believe that most child murderers did molest their victims before snuffing the life out of them.
Just like torturing animals leads to violence against people, I think an argument can be made that child molestation may be the next step to murdering children to keep them silent.
Matt Baker, a Southern Baptist minister, was recently found guilty of murdering his wife.
True, she was an adult. Remember, this crime occurred after years of reports that he molested minors. You can read more detail in the links below. His case does seem to illustrate that every crime against a child that goes unpunished ultimately emboldens the abuser to up the ante.
It shouldn't come as any surprise if it's discovered an adult who molests children might actually kill somebody to cover it up.
One thing I did like about the movie was its beginning. We're in a food court and the narrator is telling us she is being stalked by a man. We see a man who looks like a stereotypical stalker. However, we're told that is not the man.
When we meet the serial killer, he's someone who could be right at home at Disneyland or Bob Jones University. Short hair. Moustache. Nothing really radical about his dress. He could be a teacher! A master at blending in to the moral standards of society.
Outside of that, I don't know if this is a movie I'd recommend for anyone who has lost a child to violent crime. Or, to an abuse victim.
I'll probably see this movie again. It did touch some deep psychological cord and that's actually the problem.
It is so grim, yet sugarcoated with amazing special effects. I don't think I'd recommend bringing anyone who experienced such trauma to The Lovely Bones unless your goal is to plunge them into cruel depression and thoughts of suicide.
Once you get the awe of the otherworld out of the way, The Lovely Bones is a story of parents whose child is molested and killed. They never experience closure. And the predator dies in an accident. By a stupid fall! Not because he was executed, or because Mark Wahlburg's character beat him over the head with a baseball bat. Wouldn't that have been a more satisfying ending?
It did remind me partly of the Bob Gray saga. Gray never was brought to trial. He also died in a fall. And people were left feeling depressed and trying to pick up the pieces.
Roger Ebert review: After the rape and murder, the really cool part starts.
Stop Baptist Predators articles about Matt Baker:
It shouldn't take a murder.
Complicity of Baptist Leaders.
Baptists threw kids a rattlesnake.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Link: National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse newsletters.
Here is a sampling of articles you can read:
Learning to Read the Signs: Prosecution Strategies for Child Abuse Cases with Deaf Victims and Witnesses
Investigations within Deaf Institutions: A Start-Up Guide for Law and Forensic Professionals
Abdication of Duty: The Potential for Child Abuse and Neglect in the Juvenile Justice System (Part Two)
Abdication of Duty: The Potential for Child Abuse and Neglect in the Juvenile Justice System (Part One)
When Parental Discipline is a Crime: Overcoming the Defense of Reasonable Force at Trial
Strategies for Handling Cases where Children Witness Domestic Violence
Effective Strategies for Victim Advocates in Child Abuse Cases
Successful Prosecution When the Sexual Assault Victim is Mentally Impaired
"I take it back": When a Child Recants
What if He Gets Out and Comes After Me?
Article: When Faith Hurts, Part 2.
Just a brief glimpse tells me this article is worth reading.
Check out this excerpt:
It is,therefore,not surprising that child abuse often causes lasting damage to a child’s sense of spirituality.Unfortunately,the child protection community has largely focused on addressing only the child’s
physical and emotional damage—leaving many victims to struggle alone with the reality of God and the reality of their abuse.
For these children,and for our profession,we can do better. Though it is unlikely that interviewers would intentionally demean a child’s spirituality,this may be done unwittingly.In one case,for example, the interviewer was closing the interview by giving the child some personal safety messages.
Specifically,the child was asked who she could tell if she was touched inappropriately.The child responded “I can tell Jesus.”An
interviewer searching for a more practical answer might easily ask “who can you tell on Earth?” Such a question might frustrate a child who believes that Jesus is still on the earth.A better response would simply be to ask “who else can you tell?”
Here is their website: National Child Protection Training Center.
This particular article is called 'When Faith Hurts: Overcoming Spirituality-Based Blocks and Problems Before, During, and After the Forensic Interview'.
A perfect article for police and social workers! Interesting reading, and advice, for the rest of us.
Article: When Faith Hurts.
“You can make sense of sexual abuse and no God, or God and no sexual abuse. But how do you tolerate the two realities together?”—Diane Langberg, PhD
Predators often 'bargain' with God:
When the perpetrator is a member of the clergy, the impact on the victim’s spirituality may be even more pronounced. Clergy abusers often use their religion to justify or excuse their sexual abuse of children. According to one study, clergy in treatment for sexually abusing children believed that God would particularly look after the children they had victimized and otherwise keep them from harm. Through their religious role, these offenders also engaged in “compensatory behavior” and believed that their good works in the community would result in God excusing their moral lapses with children.
This excerpt sounds very familiar:
Although survivors may shy away from involvement with religion, one study found that hard core offenders often maintain a significant involvement with religious institutions. Specifically, adult sexual offenders who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood “had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims.”
Spirituality: help or hindrance? If it happens early, perhaps they might turn from spirituality. If their parents defend them, and help their children come to some type of closure (note: 'get over it!' does not count as 'closure'), the greater the odds they'll retain their spirituality.
Victims of severe abuse may remain “stuck” in their spiritual development such as remaining angry with God. Children abused at younger ages are “less likely to turn to God and others for spiritual support.” Nonetheless, even victims describing a difficult relationship with God “still rely on their spirituality for healing.” Victims who experience “greater resolution” of their childhood abuse are able to “actively turn to their spirituality to cope…rather than attempt to cope on their own.”
Some perpetrators use backwards views about sex to further confuse a child about his sexuality:
A child growing up in a church teaching that homosexual conduct is sinful may be told by the perpetrator “you see how your pee-pee gets big when I touch it? You’re gay." The pastor will condemn you if you ever talk about it.”
Others just know how to get their victims to feel like it's their fault:
A child’s emotional reactions to maltreatment can also be manipulated. In one case, for example, a child recounted how she taught herself to initiate sexual contact with her father as a means of “getting it over with.” Manipulated by her father, the child came to believe that her initiation of sexual conduct was sinful and that, even worse, she was causing her father to sin.
What role have various churches played in helping the victims to heal?
Many institutions of faith are more interested in addressing the spiritual needs of perpetrators than they are victims of abuse. If a popular member of a congregation is accused of molesting a child, it is predictable that many members of the congregation will support the alleged perpetrator. Even if a perpetrator confesses to the crime, many faith leaders will urge reconciliation between the perpetrator and the child. Indeed, many perpetrators count on the church’s support.
Here is what one child predator said about churches:
I considered church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians…They tend to be better folks all around. And they seem to want to believe in the good that exists in all people…I think they want to believe in people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words.
Remember where all this is coming from! Not from an Atheist group. Or a group known for criticizing religion. This is coming from the National District Attorney's Association. Prosecutors. Most fundamentalist preachers I have known, and heard, tended to be pro-prosecution. That is, until the tables get turned. Suddenly, we all hear about 'persecution' and how freedom is somehow at stake.
Yeah, I believe it is. If churches can't get some control over this situation, of course there will be legal ramifications that can affect your freedoms.
The main reason we have laws usually begins when people, businesses, or cherished institutions cannot control themselves and become a threat to the public at large. Either by stealing from them. Selling substandard products that can physically hurt the consumer. Or, letting child molesters roam freely in the pulpits and Sunday schools under the name of 'reconciliation and forgiveness'.
I do take issue with the article's claim that church people want to see the good in everybody. My experience is the total opposite. Largely because of the verse, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God".
Most within the independent fundamental Baptist movement tend to see the bad in people, except for their leaders, of course.
Like Jack Hyles said of Lester Roloff, "If I walked in and saw him kissing another woman, I'd swear he was giving her mouth to mouth resuscitation."
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This is not the first time he spoke of this issue. A wikipedia article (see below) mentions 'reports' that he admitted to being abused by priests during his childhood.
Byrne's interview with Irish broadcaster, Gay Byrne, seems to mark the first time he's spoken in public about this issue.
'It was a fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn't want to be left in the dressing room with him.'
Byrne was abused by a member of the clergy when he moved to England at the age of 11 to train as a priest.
He revealed to Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne: 'It didn't go on over a prolonged period but it happened at a very, very vulnerable moment.'
Byrne, a father of two, admitted the abuse he endured had left him 'deeply hurt' and had taken him many years to come to terms with.
"There were certain boundaries, sexual boundaries, that were crossed… I didn't feel that I suffered at the time.. It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me. Again, I didn't think it severely impacted me at the time. But I suppose when I think about my later life, and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that."
Ironically, his current role is as a therapist. Byrne plays Dr. Paul Weston in the HBO series, In Treatment.
Gabriel Byrne speaks of childhood sex abuse at the hands of the clergy.
wikipedia article on Gabriel Byrne
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The parents abandoned the infant because she was in violation of China's 'one child per family' rule, now in effect. Male babies are more highly valued than females, so often parents will kill the female in order to keep room for a male infant.
Wendy adopted the baby and named her 'Shanghai'. She literally saved the child's life.
She legally adopted Shanghai and wanted to raise her daughter in the United States.
The United States Consulate denied her this request. They required she live with Shanghai for two years. In order to do that, she would have to return to China. She would never make the money she makes in the United States, and would not be able to adequately support her family.
Shanghai has been raised by friends and family. Today, only Wendy's father is left to raise Shanghai. He is over eighty years old. If he is unable to continue doing so, Shanghai will be sent to an orphanage.
Mother and daughter will be separated. Possibly forever.
Wendy wrote her representative, Dianne Feinstein, asking her to support the Foreign Adopted Children's Act (H.R.3110), which would make it legal for immigrant parents to bring their adoptive children to live with them in the United States.
I am aware there is controversy regarding this bill, but it does not seem right to me that a mother and daughter should be separated for this long.
Criticize the bill all you want, but what is a mother to do? Abandon all and return to a substandard life? Or, as an American citizen, raise her daughter in the United States like any other single mom?
This video is a heartfelt message to the House, Senate, and President Obama.
Please pass the Foreign Adopted Children's Act (H.R. 3110).
Monday, January 11, 2010
I have no idea who C911 is but the reply to Messer's article is very appropriate. C911 claims to have been an independent Baptist for over 2 decades and a graduate of Trinity Baptist College. C911's response was promptly removed from Messer's blog, but now that Christian School Confidential seems to be getting a new wave of readers, thought you might appreciate this response.
You don't have to be Baptist to appreciate C911's comment. If you've ever been in a position where the obvious was being denied by people in authority, you'll appreciate this letter.
First, visit Tom Messer's blog, read his article, then check out C911's response. I'll admit, the whole 'is fundamentalism at a crossroads' discussion is a cure for insomnia. Messer bases everything on the idea that people are actually motivated by their stated beliefs and ideals, when, in reality, people are motivated by wants, lusts, and fetishes, and simply use philosophy and/or religion as justification for their decisions.
You know, even after I graduated from Trinity Christian Academy back in 1980, it wasn't long before I realized that all the 'controversies' in fundamentalism (KJV-Only, dress standards, Billy Graham, sex education, rules about going to malls, movies, etc) were actually cover ups for some deeper personal dramas. I just didn't know what the dramas were!
Today, I know.
Tom Messer's articles:
Is the Independent Baptist Movement at a crossroad? Part One.
Is the Independent Baptist Movement at a crossroad? Part Two.
There are some interesting comments. Interesting not for what they say, but what they don't say.
As a Christian first and then a church member and lastly a baptist; I can only pray for the leaders that are caught up in the situation that keeps us from being effective as a movement. We must desire a great movement from our Great Lord.
Hmmm, exactly what 'situation' are we talking about that keeps IFBs from being effective? Any takers?
or, how about,
I hold great fondness for my heritage, but also great sadness at what has become.
Exactly what did it become? And why?
I would love to see Independent Baptist Churches welcome church leaders like me who are ministering outside of the movement. To me, this is when the movement will cease to be divisive and start to partner with literally thousands of church leaders around the world who, like me, are more concerned with building God's kingdom than any one denomination or movement.
That's what a lot of us were saying in the 80s! What makes the IFBs the IFBs IS the fact that they are divisive. People go to IFB churches to have their prejudices confirmed. Not to be led down different paths. If people really wanted diversity, the Unitarian churches of America would be packed.
Ultimately, the best comment made is the one that was removed. You can read C911's post by visiting http://www.fundamentalforums.com/trinity-baptist-college/77907-indep-baptist-movement-at-a-crossroads.html.
If you're in a hurry, skip on down to point 'e'.
Here is the response:
You asked for comments on your topic or question "Is the Independent Baptist Movement at a Crossroad?"
a. Some of us do not see it as a "crossroads", but rather a "dead end". Maybe the points following will give some insight into some of the reasons.
b. "Independent" was originally the term used to describe that it was a movement independent of authority, control, manipulation, or leadership from a person or group outside of the local church. The authority and leadership of a local church ought to be Jesus Christ and His Word. Tom, your article shows you are looking for replacements for Lee Roberson, John Rice, Jack Hyles, Jerry Fallwell, Tom Malone, and others. Instead, every believer ought to independently seek the leadership and Lordship of Jesus Christ and His Word alone. As a pastor you should know this and practice this.
c. "Independent Fundamental Baptist" (IFB) is another tradition of men that is no where found in the Bible. Instead, fellowship with people in spite of their "label" and because of their faith in Christ, IFBs rather cling to their isolated groups while often condemning those with the slightest differences.
d. "Baptist Movement" is another tradition of men not found in the Bible. Yet many IFB are as committed and convicted about being a "baptist" as they are being a born-again believer in Jesus. How sad. These labels are further encouraged by the traditions of IFB in the use of "Dr." as in Dr Messer, Dr Willinger, Dr Shoemaker, Dr Gray, Dr Burge, Dr Hyles, and the list goes on and on. Have any of you IFBs read what the believers in the Bible called the spiritual leaders of their day? They called them by their first name (Paul, Peter, John, James, etc.) Why didn't they call them Dr Paul, Dr Peter, Dr John, etc.? Am I stepping on some toes here? After all, who would have dared called Bob Gray just plain "Bob" or Lee Roberson just "Lee"?
e. Maybe the "crossroad" you perceive, is because many believers took a different "road" when it was made public that you Tom covered up Bob Gray's pedophelia, and Bob Gray's untruthful statements in his leaving the pastorate at Trinity. The other "road" is filled with believers who believe the biblical practice of church discipline should have been excercised and the local church should have been warned that there was a wolf among them who preyed on the sheep. Ah but instead Tom and the deacons of Trinity instead bought Bob Gray a nice home, and provided him with a nice salary to live out his days in Germany. This type of coverup caused the divisions that the Apostle Paul spoke about to the Corinthians.
This is a big reason why you see the "division" from you, when you wrote "it appears that there is division among groups of people that used to be in fellowship with one another." Yes we are divided (separated) from you because of your sinful coverup, and your refusal to repent and make it right.
f. IFB has an unbiblical focus on large numbers. Tom, I noticed in your article that you reference 7,000 at a Sword Conference in 1974 and 4,000 at one of your meetings 16 or 17 years ago.
Mat 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Instead, quality is preferred over quantity. Remember the Apostle Paul well said:
1Co 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but GOD GAVE THE INCREASE.
There is much more I could write, but I think your question has been answered adequately enough. After more than 2 decades as an IFB and a graduate of Trinity Baptist College, I have shed those traditions of men. Now I am happily serving in a local church without the issues above that brought the IFB to what might be at best a "crossroads" but more than likely a "dead end."
I Have Decided To Follow Jesus
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
At the moment, all I have to go by is what I hear from either the press, or the lawyers connected with the cases. I have asked them what the circumstances currently are with the civil cases involving Trinity. Will they be happening? Are they in limbo?Are they dead but we don't want to say so? Haven't received any reply, although I've freely posted just about everything else sent to me not related to Trinity.
If I'm to go by the previous conversations I just had with the Duval Clerk, I'm finding myself forced to say to the victims/survivors, "It was a good fight, but let's wrap it up. The trials aren't going to happen and the best you can do is concentrate on your own recovery."
I've been waiting for practically a year for an answer to the simple question, "What's up with the civil trials?" If I am wrong, you guys know how to correct me. Post a comment or send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, but I'm tired of waiting for the 'official story'. Any feedback, no matter how negative, is still worth more than silence.
As far as I'm concerned, this whole issue seems to have died with Bob Gray. I think it best we all adopt that attitude as long as silence concerning these cases reigns.
If you wish to do your own research, visit or call:
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Disney worker faces 200 counts of possessing child porn.
Disney Resorts has some work they need to do if they want critics to stop harping on them regarding things like this. The Orange County (FL) Sheriff's department offered Disney the chance for a program designed to teach 'cast members' the signs to look for when it comes to stopping child predators. Disney said 'no thanks' and, to this day, remains in eternal fantasy land where this issue is concerned. No idea if they've had second thoughts. Doubtful they would tell you anyway.
More Disney pedophiles:
Article: Disney pedophile is actually a youth pastor.
Article: Matthew Mancuso.
Excerpt: "Mancuso took pictures of the sex acts with the child. Some of the photographs were taken during two visits to Walt Disney World. . .Offering toys, gifts and trips to Disneyworld or Disneyland is a common tactic of pedophiles. It should be a red flag to any parent, when a male relative, friend or neighbor offers such a trip for your child.
Nancy Grace interview about Mancuso:
Nancy Grace/Mancuso transcript.
CNN CORRESPONDENT, MATTINGLY: Somebody in the public recognized that bedspread from a resort in Orlando, and that`s how...
MATTINGLY: ... police got involved.
GRACE: Why are you saying "a resort in Orlando"? It was Disneyworld, right?
MATTINGLY: It was a Disney resort. They have many of them down there.
Thank you, Nancy, for clarifying that! lol.
Article: Online Sex Sting Nets Theme Park Workers.
NOTE: Observe Disney taking the Southern Baptist Convention's tactic concerning 'background checks'. Activists know most child predators are not caught, consequently will pass most background checks.