Superfluous Snail Mail

Poking around some photos today, I found this one. I took it in the fall. It was random door on Chicago’s west side. If you look hard at the window, you can see the stairs curve at the top.

Sometimes inanimate objects exhibit a lot of character.

Ahh, conformity

I have seen this damn video posted all over the place today. I didn’t click on it, because sometimes I have to be conservative with how much time I devote to these things. I know, this is me talking.

But it’s well worth a look. Mundane short videos of people doing semi-every day activities are fun! Especially in Norway (hugely atheist nation by the way).

Via all the places I saw it posted today.

West Chicago deacon gets 6 years for embezzlement

This morning, I read this story about a Chicago deacon who got 6 years in prison for embezzlement from his church. He stole over $300,000 and used the money to pay off credit card bills, pay for his insurance premiums and buy Bulls and Bears tickets.

From the article:

George Valdez, 58, of the 800 block of Gates Street, West Chicago, admitted in a plea agreement to writing unauthorized checks to himself and transferring money from the St. Mary’s Parish bank account into his own. He also used a parish credit card for personal expenses and failed to pay for a family insurance policy.

Assistant State’s Attorney Helen Kapas-Erdman said Valdez used the ill-gotten funds to pay for White Sox and Bears tickets, expensive dinners, hotel stays and his daughter’s wedding. The thefts, dating back to 2006, were uncovered during a financial audit in 2009.

“For more than three years, Mr. Valdez stole from those who had placed their trust and confidence in him,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. “He betrayed that trust by lining his own pockets with funds donated to the parish.”

Read more:

At the end of the Sun-Times article (which I couldn’t find), the quote from his lawyer was, “Valdez was trying to help his family.”

I’m sure the jury was all sympathetic to that once they heard the amount he spent on sports tickets. What an idiot.

When you grow up in a religious family, the common response to something like this is: “Don’t judge the people in the Christian church; they are fallible.” Lately we’ve been talking about how careless and the un-appetizing ways god is portrayed in the bible. God’s word isn’t infallible. He’s not inerrant. The word of god isn’t inerrant. If he intended you to throw non-believers into the water weighed down by rocks, he shouldn’t have written that stuff (Mark 9:42).

The bible is full of mistakes and blemishes. In some ways, the New Testament is just as violent as the Old.

So what are we to make of all this?

The leaders of the Christian church have shown time and again their fallibility. The god we’re taught is infallible appears fallible time and again. What is supposed to impress people about god that I’m missing?

Am I supposed to be impressed by the universe? Am I supposed to be impressed by earthly creation? It’s impressive, but if it implies a deity, that deity has a lot of explanation to do.

I’m pleased as a peach to live a life absent of a deity. It makes the universe real and exciting. I don’t have to convince myself that god stopped working in biblical proportions over time. Yet I can see that scientific advancements blow biblical miracles out of the water time and again. Biblical miracle isn’t going to bring people I love back from the dead. But according to science, we can live longer with the ones we love. That’s much more appealing than chopping off my hand if it causes me to sin or some fool idea like that.

I can recognize that I’m lucky because I live in a great scientific age, and I can be jealous that science is going to make the future even better.

Contrary to some belief, I want to have this conversation with believers, but I don’t know that believers want to have this conversation. I mean, look at the whole Noah’s Ark thing. It’s like a story from a movie. If I came to you and said, “You have to believe me. There’s a guy named Luke Skywalker. And his dad is Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker uses the power of the force to defeat evil … ”

You’d say, “That’s impossible.”

Then how is it possible that I’m supposed to be believe the movie-calibre plots found in the bible? They’re just stories, aren’t they?

I’m deflated about this today. I feel like the field can’t be even when people are damned sure the impossible happened at one time and was recorded accurately in an old book.

Am I really the asshole for not taking you for your word when you’re damned sure there was a global flood and all the animals and humans alive today originated from those who survived that event? That means every animal is an in-breed of its own species. And when modern science says and SHOWS that it’s not possible, I believe fact over hearsay.

But I’m the asshole.

“Dutch painter brings Khmer Rouge victims to life”

Many of you are aware of my trip last July to Asia (Jezzasia!). I went with my dad (regular-reader “The Old Fart”) and a pastor on a missions trip to help find and rescue Montagnards who are hiding in the countries surrounding Vietnam.

And you probably know that I’m a Dutchman. My family name is Witteveen, which just so happens to be Dutch, and my dad is first-generation Hollander. That’s the only reason regular-reader Petursey likes me.

Anyway, pops sent me this article that I wanted to pass on about a Dutch painter who is working with the photos of Cambodian prisoners who were killed under Pol Pot’s regime. I think it’s important to forward this information, because I’m surprised at how many people aren’t aware of this great genocide that happened within that last 30 to 40 years.

Check the article here.

Thanks Old Fart!