Today’s found on Facebook — bare bum spanks for God?

June 4, 2016

Via Rawstory we learn of a Little League coach taking dubious advice from a Bible-based child-rearing book. Jonathan Shawn Russell was in court in North Carolina accused of spanking his players, ages 8 and 9 at the time. The book’s called Shepherding a Child’s Heart, written by Pastor Tedd Tripp and:

He read a passage from the book aloud on the stand that said, “If you fail to spank, you don’t take God seriously and don’t love your child enough.”

One of the children told his mother he was spanked for saying “dang it.”

He also admitted to spanking his own kids, but that’s not the issue here.

Arrest warrants obtained by the paper [Citizen Times] say he was accused of “pulling down child victim’s pants and his underwear and spanking him on his buttocks multiple times with his hands.”

The assaults happened in 2014 and 2015.

He gets 60 days in jail for this and 18 months probation prohibiting him from being alone with any children for any reason under the age of 18.

I wonder if this goes for time with his kids, too. Seems like it should.

From the original article:

When Russell took the stand, he told the families of those he abused he was wrong after allegations surfaced and was charged by authorities.

“I recognized the misapplication in the sense that these weren’t my children and this wasn’t my place,” he said. “I never tried to hide it from their parents, but I didn’t have their permission either.

“I’m sorry,” he continued. “I want to seek forgiveness … I understand the affect it has had on everyone and from the bottom of my heart I did not mean to do any damage.”

Russell’s actions would not have been illegal had he been given permission for the spankings by parents of the boys, Newman said.

Alarming last sentence there.


God-fearing: how is this a good thing?

October 8, 2014

I wound up at gotquestions.org when looking up the notion of god-fearing. As an unbeliever it sounds ludicrious to want to be afraid of your own god, unless the whole point of promoting fear is to promote unwavering loyalty and obedience under threat of suffering and damnation. Seems like a strange thing to be proud of. More often than not, believers seem to justify this fear by retconning it into something positive and rewarding. It’s not fear. It’s the beginning of wisdom. It’s not fear, it’s really respect.

While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing.

This kind of rationalizing is why atheists have been known to think of God in terms of an abusive parent or partner. The constant judgement and constant fear of reprisals should a “sin” occur (however it’s being defined at the moment; maybe changing by the moment) does not really sound like healthy love or respect or wisdom.

I’ve never heard of Elizabeth Esther but she wrote an interesting piece about leaving her fundamentalist faith. She’d been abused and her family – at least her father, it seems, – easily convinced her that it was what God wanted for her.

As a female being raised in a highly-patriarchal culture, I never developed my own understanding of God because God’s will would be made known to me through my father and husband. My father was God for me and later, my husband was God for me.

This is probably one of the most dangerous lies of patriarchy: a human being (aka, father, husband, pastor) is God for you. It is the most dangerous lie because if someone controls your concept of God, they control everything.

She didn’t turn into an atheist, however; she just figured out a way to redefine her sense of god in a way that would make her feelings acceptable and improve her sense of self-worth.

I don’t have to use all the same words as everyone else in order to still have a relationship with God. I can use words that are helpful and put aside the ones that are triggering.

Whenever I feel a tightening sensation in my chest or stomach, I know I’m reverting back to old, abusive concepts of God. But whenever I feel a warmth, looseness and easiness in my chest and stomach, I feel myself relaxing into God as I understand God.

Good for her, I guess, if it helps. Better to think of him in terms of being a loving and compassionate god – even if it means having to ignore all the biblical evidence to the contrary. Atheists don’t ignore that aspect of the religious history, though.

Gotquestions tackles the jealous god aspect and I don’t agree with their rationale here either.

Perhaps a practical example will help us understand the difference. If a husband sees another man flirting with his wife, he is right to be jealous, for only he has the right to flirt with his wife. This type of jealousy is not sinful. Rather, it is entirely appropriate. Being jealous for something that God declares to belong to you is good and appropriate.

Holy crap. What an alarming idea. All jealousy is unhealthy and evidence that you don’t trust your partner to be faithful to you. You can argue that jealousy is “natural” because it is, but so’s arsenic. Not everything natural is good for you.

Jealousy lies somewhere in the gray area between sanity and madness. Some jealous reactions are so natural that a person who doesn’t show them seems in some way “not normal.” Others seem so excessive that one doesn’t need to be an expert to know that they are pathological. A classic example is the man who is suspicious of his loving and faithful wife that he constantly spies on her, listens in on her phone conversations, records the mileage in her car for unexplained trips–and despite her repeatedly proven fidelity continues to suspect her and suffer from tremendous jealousy.

1 yr anniversary

I can’t imagine having that kind of relationship. No, not true; I can imagine it and I’m very grateful that the Man and I aren’t faced with this scenario. We just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary on Sunday. Here we are looking sweet together on the sofa:

I’d say that our trust in each other is absolute. We shared our relationship histories ages ago and we always talk things through when things are bothering us. I wouldn’t want to live in fear of losing him to someone else and be at risk of taking my defensiveness to extremes.

And I know he knows he doesn’t have to worry on this end. I was into him when he was barely 19 and he’s a couple weeks away from being 30 now. He’s still adorable and means the world to me.

We don’t need to create an atmosphere of fear bolstered with threats of penalties. I fail to see how either method could lead to real loyalty and devotion in a marriage or any other kind of relationship.


Violence and women and sports stars

September 18, 2014

I don’t care about world politics and I don’t care much about sports either. War over borders or war over stupid metal trophies — it’s all a bunch of posturing and elitism and people getting hurt. Often civilians.

Take this Ray Rice brouhaha – not at all funny in any way – assault of his fiancee at the time, Janay Palmer. Talk about a can of worms I’d rather not open but will to make a point. (If I get any facts or wires crossed, correct me. SBNation has a full timeline.)

TMZ recently released videos of what he did in the elevator and hallway of a hotel in Atlantic city in February of 2014. (As an aside, I notice much of the coverage of this doesn’t mention Janay by name at all, thereby creating almost a non-person feeling in the reader to care less about her and care more about what happened to the star being named in the piece.)

He was in court over this “incident” in May.

The former Rutgers star walked to the courthouse holding hands with the woman, who is now his wife. He said he is a “happy father and a happy husband.” When asked by reporters what he hoped would happen, Rice responded, “for you all to have a blessed day.”

Rice pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury during the Feb. 15 incident at Revel Casino Hotel.

Go back and watch the videos. I wonder what his definition of assault is if doesn’t include knocking a woman out. The day after he was indicted, they got married. Not to joke about head injuries affecting life decisions but.. well, the whole #whyIstayed bits on Twitter are eyeopening and sad.

Moving on, in July, SBNation reported that he’d been suspended from playing the first two games of the 2014 season. I mean, that’s totally fair. It’s not like he killed a bunch of people or something. Just sit out a couple games and all is well, my friend… Yeesh. Due to his status as a “first timer” (at least on camera) he was granted entry to a:

pretrial intervention program that allows him to have his charges dropped if he stays out of trouble and undergoes counseling.

They note that this slap on the wrist punishment (my words) is given to any player with a first-time conviction of the same crime. NBC notes that 12 NFL players have domestic violence arrests.

Infoplease tells me how many players were in the league as of 2011 (1696) so it’s a small fraction in terms of men able to play on the field. If I can divide 12 players by 32 teams instead I get a more disturbing number: 37% of teams have a man arrested for assault on the roster. Assuming no team has 2 or more of the buggers, of course. Quoting NBC:

Ray McDonald and Chris Cook of the San Francsico 49ers, Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams of the Seattle Seahawks, Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes of the Chicago Bears, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, Erik Walden of the Indianapolis Colts, Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns, Randy Starks of the Miami Dolphins and Frostee Rucker of the Arizona Cardinals have all been arrested for domestic violence or related charges since 2005, according to a USA Today database that tracks players’ arrests since 2000.

So there is some doubling up. And I include the link to the database for all your sport statistic needs.

Where was I? Ah, right. Rice.

Things changed between the 2 game suspension and now, where he’s cut from the team and indefinitely suspended from play. The video proof of his abusive behaviour pretty much nailed his career’s coffin shut. He can’t even try the other league across the border in the mean time.

The Canadian Football League said Monday night Rice is ineligible to play in the CFL while he is suspended by the NFL.

I would hope so, CFL. Fuck.

All’s well that ends well? No. The NFL players Union wants to appeal the decision to suspend but I have doubts they’ll be successful. But then, America. Who knows what they’ll do.

One argument of the appeal is that an employee can’t be punished twice by his employer for the same offence, “when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.”

When Goodell announced the indefinite suspension of Rice, he said he hadn’t seen the video of the punch, which he said showed details substantially different from the account Rice gave of what happened in the elevator when he spoke to Goodell about the incident.

Goodell says no one at the NFL saw the video, although reports that the video was sent to the NFL prompted the league to have an independent investigator, former FBI director Robert Mueller, look into the matter.

Also looking into the matter, the NFL has put some women into the mix. One was there already, vice president of community affairs and philanthropy, Anna Isaacson, will be given a new title: vice president of social responsibility.

Additionally, three experts in domestic violence will serve as senior advisors on domestic violence and sexual assault: Lisa Friel, the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, will focus on the evaluation process of alleged violence and assault incidences and will advise Goodell and the NFL staff on law violations. Jane Randel, the co-founder of NO MORE (a national initiative to raise the profile of violence and assault and Rita Smith), and Rita Smith, the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, will work on several related initiatives, including: workplace policy, training curricula, education programs, Employee Assistance Programs and distributing information about resources outside of the NFL as related to these issues.

Is this going to help with the problem? I hope so. The problem is the men getting away with abuse. The problem is the women put into a situation they can’t/or don’t feel like they can easily walk away from. The problem is the education and socialization of these guys who grew up thinking of women as, not just beautiful, but as meat and property and sex objects and punching bags not worthy of respect or dignity. The problem is the education and socialization of boys and girls now being trained to think and believe there is a place for a woman and it’s underneath a man’s fist.

I think, too, if I can comment related to the comments about criticism from my previous post, if we can’t get the domestic abuse out of sports like football and properly punish offenders across the board, not just sports stars, what right do we have as a society to bitch out other cultures for the way they treat women? Sure, the NFL is a microcosm and not representative of society as a whole. After all,

Across the board, NFL players are arrested far less frequently than the general public, with the league’s arrest rate coming in at just 13 percent of the national average for men between the ages of 25 and 29. When looking at specific crimes, though, domestic violence rates are closer to the national average than anything else.

So, that’s fair. Is it because they play football, or is that just basic celebrity status translating into “no bad press for local star”? Is it because of how insanely rich they are compared to Joe Blow and his piece of skanky stuff in the slum district? This isn’t the idiocy of Justin Bieber and his assaults on property – this is about the lives of women who deserve a lot better that they’ve been getting. Everywhere in the world, not just in the arms of NFL champs or wannabees. Every one of them. Everywhere.

I don’t know what else I can say here, or what else needs saying.

(Update 12:06 pm — one thing: This book for sale called Against Football, one fan’s reluctant manifesto by Steve Almond. I’ve flipped through the new copies fresh in at the library and it looks like it’d be an interesting read. Look for it.)


Nate Phelps gave an interesting talk last night

June 15, 2012

He gave the audience a run down of his upbringing under the demanding and watchful eyes of Fred Phelps, creator of the Westboro Baptist Church. He described some of the abuse he and his mother and siblings went through when he was growing up and how the ludicrous theology they lived under could continue to be maintained, and is still maintained now – clever reinterpretation of the King James bible to create “the world” and “the saved” as only the people of Phelps’ flock. God’s love is extended only to those chosen few, as is salvation. They have no desire to convert or change anyone (beyond the ones who might dare marry into the family); they just want to advertise the fact that everyone who isn’t them will be automatically destined for hell upon death. And, for some reason known only to the senior Phelps, it became important to focus the bulk of that attention on the gays and their supporters rather than picket adulterers or murderers or others who’d break the rest of the commandments without much thought.

I didn’t attend the pub chat afterwards and won’t be at the lunch today, either, but it was worth going to see. He’s an example of someone who grew up in an incredibly strict and fundamentalist regime and found himself unable to continue in it. Fred Phelps teaches that reason and rationality are the Devil’s tricks, messing with a faithful mind by making it want to question instead of believe blindly. Much of the family is still living under that perception but Nate couldn’t quell the doubts, and that’s part of why he left. He told us a story about how his kids were asking about heaven once and where people who don’t get to go to heaven go. He had to explain what hell was and what eternity was and all the kids started crying. “I want to believe in god! I don’t want to go to hell!” He recalled his own reactions to these “facts” as a child and then and there vowed to be a different kind of dad. Now he considers himself an atheist and refuses to indoctrinate his own children. If they want to buy into a religion later in life, they can choose for themselves, he said. He’d rather teach them the skills to think critically and question what they hear and read. The more they question and seek factual answers, the better off they’ll be down the road.

Younger members of the church have started to drift away, too, and Nate offers himself up as a mentor if any of them should want to seek him out, but he knows they’ll be in weird places mentally for a while, just like he was. It won’t help to tell them how badly screwed up they are after years under the church’s influence. They’ll hopefully figure that out for themselves and start making headway on fixing it.

Here’s hoping.


Psychologist underfire for planting satanic cult memories

December 7, 2011

(Note: This was typed up prior to my hand injury. I like that WordPress lets people schedule posts to run later. Too bad I didn’t see the future and prepare more of these…)

That’s Lisa Nasseff’s story and she’s sticking to it. The Minnesota woman went for help at Castlewood Treatment Center in Ballwin once she decided to deal with her anorexia. She’s claiming the psychologist she saw over the 15 months, Mark Schwartz, duped her into believing she’d been abused by satanic practitioners.

Nasseff’s lawsuit said she was treated for anorexia with psychotropic drugs and hypnosis, which brainwashed her into believing she was repeatedly raped, had multiple personalities and suffered from and participated in satanic ritual abuse.

The lawsuit filed by Nasseff’s attorney, Kenneth Vuylsteke of Webster Groves, also claims that Schwartz implanted the false memories to keep Nasseff in the treatment center long-term because she had insurance that would pay her medical bills of $650,000.

Vuylsteke could not be reached for comment.

Castlewood’s director, Nancy Albus, and Schwartz deny the allegations. Albus reportedly pledged to fight the lawsuit, which seeks the repayment of medical expenses and punitive damages.

It’s he said/she said right now. Dr. Azfar Malik, CEO of CenterPointe psychiatric hospital in St. Charles was asked for his opinion on this case. He stated that no doctor would use hypnosis to treat an eating disorder.

“An eating disorder is a very complicated disease, and basically is treated with a medical model,” Malik said. “Hypnosis and going into the past are not indicated, there’s no data or research showing that would be the treatment of choice.”

But he also states that he’s unfamiliar with all the practices that would go on at Castlewod, saying only, “They don’t have a lot of physician oversight of the cases that I know about.”

“Oversight” being doctors keeping an eye out for questionable ethical practices? There’s mention in the article of psychologists pushing the notion of repressed memory on patients in the past but that entire style of treatment has been largely debunked. Some still like to claim it’s possible to get to the root of a problem this way anyway, though. Psychoheresy links the continued practice to some Christian counselors. Considering the accusations coming from Nasseff re: satanic rituals, would that include Scwartz, I wonder? No way to know from where I’m sitting. Psychologists operate from a position of authority and it’s important for the patient to be able to trust the treatment and advice. If he did somehow abuse his power over her, and the Center did nothing about it… It will be interesting to see what comes of it. If I remember to look for an update, of course.

Until then, here’s a site that gives instructions on how you, too, can create fake memories and amuse/freak out your friends and family. I don’t actually recommend doing that; the brain’s entirely capable of inventing memories without any outside help, actually. What might be real fun are these perception tests that help demonstrate just how fallible our minds really are. Maybe it will turn out that Nasseff invented these memories all on her own.


Why follow a god that permits abuse?

August 18, 2011

Oh right, so abusers can justify spanking their children to death. Kevin and Elizabeth Shatz spanked Lidia 7 hours (with a few prayer breaks in between) and it resulted in severe tissue damage causing death.

That site offers part 1 of the CNN broadcast of the case and quotes the end:

Kevin Schatz has pleaded guilty to torture and murder, and will spend the next 22 years in prison. His wife Elizabeth will serve at least 12. At their court hearing, Lydia’s 11-year-old sister Zakiah asked her parents, “Why did you adopt her? To kill her?”

The Shatz were influenced by the cruel teachings of a couple known far and wide as promoters of violence against children as a way to obey God utterly: Michael and Debi Pearl. They’re co-authors of numerous books, one of which was found in the Shatz’ possession, To Train Up a Child. In their books, and on that video, they insist that “sparing the rod” doesn’t just mean spoiling the child, but hating the child. Real love is to hit them with anything that will make a great slapping noise against their skin, like a spatula. The Shatz chose sturdy plumbing pipes. Those worked really well.

It’s sickening. Truly sickening. How anyone can get so wrapped up in that bloody book and think it’s giving the world an acceptable way to live… This is unacceptable. Anyone who supports the Pearls and their horrific version of child-rearing should wake the hell up and see just what kind of monsters they’ve become. Situations like this are reasons why I can get behind the notion of capital punishment sometimes. I suspect each Shatz will wind up spending the majority of their prison time in solitary. There are some lines even die-hard criminals would never dream of crossing.


Jesus declared guilty of assault

August 9, 2011

From the Chronicle Herald:

A Halifax man who thinks he’s Jesus and tried to use the Bible to defend himself on charges of assaulting his wife and child was found guilty on nine charges Monday in Halifax provincial court.

“Freedom of religion does not trump obligations to comply with the criminal law. This is so obvious that it goes without saying,” Judge Anne Derrick said in convicting Dalton Cornelius Jones of five counts of assault and single charges of uttering threats, assault with a weapon, resisting arrest and failing to appear in court

Except it did have to be said, and will probably always have to be said to remind people that what they think their religion allows isn’t always going to mesh with what the laws of our societies deem as appropriate treatment of human beings. So what if bible quotes can “prove” beating one’s wife and child is okay in the eyes of God? It’s sure as hell not okay in the eyes of the Canadian court 2000 some years later.

He replied that he was still going to represent himself, and said he didn’t refer to himself as Jesus during his closing arguments because Derrick didn’t want him to.

“May I say something impertinent? If Jesus Christ was here I would be recommending that he have a lawyer,” the judge replied.

His day for sentencing is September 23rd.