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Public Service Announcement: St Patrick’s Confirmation Date

Roman Catholic Confirmation

There has been a lot of confusion and questions in the community regarding the date and time of the Roman Catholic Confirmation ceremony to be held at St Patrick’s in Ravena. St Patrick’s have been less than open and sharing about details regarding the ceremonies and have refused to respond to inquiries about the even. Even parents whose children are being confirmed are a bit miffed about how pastor Scott vanDeveer, deacon Steven Young, and faith coordinator Christa Derosiers have handled the event and getting the information out.

Since we have been unable to get any information from St Patrick’s parish officials, we went both to the St Patrick’s website, where we found nothing but out-of-date information, and to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany website were we found nothing as well. For being such an important event, it seems incredibly hush-hush. Obviously we are more interested in getting the word out than the local Catholic Community or the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. It seems that the local Roman Catholic Church is really proud of their events. That being said, the RC confirmation will be at:

St Patrick Roman Catholic Church
Ravena, New York
Sunday, April 22, 2018
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Bishop emeritus Howard Hubbard
will preside and confer the sacrament

We realize that the day and time appear to be a bit bizarre but we have confirmed those details and it’s really from 6-8:00 p.m.

There is an article about the entire affair at What’s Wrong With You People?!? St Patrick’s Ravena, which gives vent to some of the frustration of parents, friends and relatives of the young people to be confirmed. What more can we say?

Congratulations from All of Us at Smalbany!

 

Roman Catholic Church: Collection Envelopes Determine Good Standing!

We were recently contacted by a reader asking us for an opinion about the question of whether the Requirement of Registration in a Parish and an Affidavit of Good Standing is appropriate for fulfillment of the role of confirmation sponsor. That’s a compound question consisting of two separate questions:

  1. Is a requirement for parish registration appropriate?
  2. Is an Affidavit of Catholic in Good Standing in the parish in which one is registered appropriate?

The second question necessarily follows on the first question.

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, a parish in the territory of the Diocese of Albany, NY (Edward B. Scharfenberger, bishop) has scheduled their Confirmations for April, 2018, and just recently sponsor designates were informed that they were to provide certain certifications as to their “fitness” to fulfill the role of Confirmation sponsor. We have obtained statements from sponsor designates and a copy of the form to be signed by the sponsor designates. In general, the “contract” is rather primitive and a bit late, since it appears it should have been provided to the sponsor designate right at the start of the formation period and not 2 months before the Confirmation! In addition, it contains a number of silly requirements, one of which caught our eye:

“The sponsor agrees to provide:

+ The Church of St Patrick the name and address of the Parish and Pastor where they currently worship;

+ Further provide the Church of St Patrick with an Affidavit signed by their current pastor certifying they meet these requirements:

– At least 16 years old,

– Fully initiated into the Roman Catholic Faith through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.”

The grammar leaves a great deal to be desired and it’s unclear whether the certifying pastor has to be “at least 16 years old” and “fully initiated” or the sponsor. Another problem is that it is the “Church of St Patrick” while we have always thought of the Church as being the Church Jesus Christ, and the church as used in the Church of St Patrick would clearly indicate the building and not the community, the mystical body; properly stated, it should be the “Parish” of St Patrick for obvious reasons. But the document has other flaws.

It raises the question of What business does a pastor have certifying a sponsor’s age? That’s done by way of a secular birth certificate!

In addition, the current pastor must sign an affidavit confirming the sponsor’s age AND that the sponsor has received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, all of which are clearly proved by the respective certificates issued by the conferring parish, not necessarily by the sponsor’s territorial pastor. So we had a closer look at what’s going on here because something stinks in Ravena, and the smoke of satan is probably coming from the Albany Diocesan Offices.

Those observations are merely a further confirmation of the turmoil and confusion that reigns supreme in the Roman Catholic Church today, and are clearly visible in the parishes.[1]

First, let’s look at what the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law, the collection of rules and regulations governing what and how things are done in the Roman Catholic Church, has to say about what a “parish” is — this is an important first step because most “practicing” Catholics don’t have a clue what a parish is.

The Code of Canon Law (sections abbreviated “C.”) defines “parish” in the following terms:

515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop. [our emphasis]

And c. 518 expressly defines the parish as “territorial,” meaning,

Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason. [our emphasis]

Therefore, a parish is territorial. As such it embraces all the Catholics of a given region on a map. When a bishop formally erects a parish, he establishes its specific boundaries, and all Catholics residing within those limits are ipso facto (and de jure) members of that parish, whether or not they know it. Canon law does not require anyone living within the parish boundaries to take the additional step of registering at the parish. The very fact that a Catholic lives in the territory of a particular parish is enough to make him or her member of that parish. Canon law does not require formal registration in that parish to be a member of that particular parish. Question 1 is thus moot. A dead issue. No registration is required.

The fact that parishes are by definition territorial does not mean that it is illegal under Canon Law or wrong to require people to register; it may be useful to ask them to register in their parishes for administrative reasons, such as for example, census purposes or for surveys, or for demographic purposes.

In the American Catholic Church the parish registration system has been superimposed on top of Canon Law, but parish registration is not a part or provision of Canon Law. In fact, the parish registration system must never be used in such a way as to contradict Canon Law; if there is a conflict, Canon Law must take precedence. This includes the situation where a local bishop, called the local ordinary, or his staff makes up some “local” law or rule for the diocese; that local rule cannot replace Canon Law or contradict it. Period.

But the question posed is Confirmation Sponsors. On the question of parish registration as regards confirmation sponsors, The purpose of c. 892 and its requirements are merely to make clear that the sponsor of the confirmed person is to ensure that the confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament. That should be no problem in theory, but let’s move on.

In the Roman Catholic Church the requirements to be a Confirmation sponsor are the same as those for a Baptismal godparent. As regards the requirements for a person to fulfill the function of confirmation sponsor c. 893 refers back to c. 874 which lays down functions for fulfilling the function of a baptismal godparent, that is, the requirements for fulfilling the role of confirmation sponsor are the same as for a baptismal godparent. According to Roman Catholic Canon law, the requirements for both a Baptismal godparent and a Confirmation sponsor are:

Can.  874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

In other words, the person chosen by the candidate for confirmation or the candidate’s parents, or both, must be someone who takes his or her Catholic faith seriously enough that s/he may serve as a mentor for the person to be confirmed. In essence, the first requirement then, is the trust and confidence of the candidate and his/her parents that operate in determining the fitness of a person to be sponsor. To abrogate that authority or to demean the capability of the candidate or his/her parents to determine suitability in practical terms would be an affront.

The way records are kept.

Canon Law makes no statement, provision or requirement that the proposed sponsor be formally registered in a parish, nor does relevant Canon Law set forth any criteria or system for determining fitness in terms other than that the sponsor designate be a witness of Christ and a capable mentor. Nor does Canon Law lay down a protocol on how that s/he be examined for his/her fitness to be a confirmation sponsor, but merely states to the effect that the person takes his/her Catholic faith seriously and can be a mentor for the candidate.

Scott VanDerveer, pastor of St Patrick, Ravena.

Steven Matthews, pastor, St John Baptist, Greenville.

Since the Code of Canon Law nowhere mentions parish registration, and certainly does not state or even imply anywhere that a sponsor in sacramental Confirmation must be registered at a particular parish, such requirement is being made an obstacle is canonically illicit and unlawful. In other words, the territorial parish of St Patrick Roman Catholic Church, Ravena, NY (Scott VanDerveer, pastor) is wrong to require an Affidavit of Parish Registration and the Parish of St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Greenville, NY  (Steven Matthews, pastor) in Greenville is wrong to deny the sponsor designate a letter testifying to the fact that the sponsor designate is a member of the territorial parish of St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. If the sponsor designate lives in the territory of St John the Baptist parish, that person, if Catholic is a member of that parish.

While the Code of Canon Law expressly indicates that a Confirmation sponsor must be a committed Catholic, it does not provide a hint of guidance how this is to supposed to be determined, much less proved. This raises the question whether the territorial parish of St John the Baptist RC in Greenville or the territorial parish of St Patrick RC in Ravena have in place a consistent and reliable system to decide who is a suitable sponsor, and how to document that assessment. For the criteria used to test the quality of Catholics, we have to turn to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, and to the so-called Precepts. But those so-called Precepts do not possess the quality of law and are extremely difficult if not impossible to verify (the link below).

The Precepts are a classic example of unenforceable control but the gremlin gatekeepers, the so called “Faith Education” directors use them like swords, but without Church authority or common sense to understand them.

We have to ask: Do the concerned pastors know each of their flock by name and do they have intimate knowledge of what their parishioners’ lifestyle and characters are? Or can we better presume that the candidate and his or her parents are better able to make that assessment? Does the fact that someone appears every Sunday at liturgy make him or her good Catholic, and thus a better sponsor than one who does not? Or is the measure one of the magnanimity of financial contributions to the parish, or the fact that both time and treasure are determinants? Can the pastor even recognize the person by sight? Would those be applicable objective criteria to satisfy the requirement that the person takes his/her Catholic faith seriously and can be a mentor for the confirmation candidate?

Again, an example from the Cathedral Church of St Patrick (Charlotte, NC). Explicit statement that collection envelopes are used to document attendance.

Figuratively speaking, this problem can be restated in hypothetical terms as, “Is the use of collection envelopes the final arbiter of whether a person is a Catholic “in good standing” and competent to serve as a confirmation sponsor?” But that’s not even a hypothetical situation! Many parishes are using collection envelopes to decide whether or not a “practicing Catholic” is a “Catholic in good standing!”

The criterion for Catholic “in good standing”?

Here’s a depraved, reprehensible and embarrassing excerpt from the BAPTISM AND/OR CONFIRMATION SPONSOR GUIDELINES of the Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick (Charlotte, NC), which is by no means uncommon and is representative of many American parishes, in that St Patrick’s makes a number of illicit and illegal requirements:[2]

The sponsor is required to certify this information (St Patrick parish, Charlotte, NC).

and the sponsor’s parish pastor must certify

Do these administrators and pastors know their Canon Law or are they arbitrarily applying a personal interpretation of the phrase, “in good standing?” This has been known to happen all too frequently and with tragic results.

Furthermore, while we know that well-meaning Catholics may work long hours in parish offices and programs for low or no pay, and their “dedication” is commendable, they do play a critical role in the life of a typical parish but – and that’s a really big “but” because they do not hold ecclesial office pursuant to c. 145, they are not accorded by law any spiritual authority over other members of the parish.[3]

The bottom line is that the pastor is the person ultimately responsible for the spiritual well-being of his parishioners, and as Canon Law states, parishes are territorial and all Catholics in that territory are “parishioners” under the terms of Canon Law. Therefore, the pastor is responsible for the canonical, pastoral, spiritual well-being of his parishioners. If he is unaware of a problem or a situation that can transfigure into a problem, it is important that he be informed about it, and that he deal with it appropriately. By respectfully calling the pastor’s attention to such an issue, the whole parish, diocese and certainly the whole Church ultimately benefits.[4]

Figuratively speaking, this problem can be restated in hypothetical terms as, “Is the use of collection envelopes the final arbiter of whether a person is a Catholic “in good standing” and competent to serve as a confirmation sponsor?”

The answer is administratively maybe, canonically NO!

Unless the lay administrators of the Parish of St Patrick have an established system approved by competent authority for determining membership in the territorial parishes of St Patrick or of St John the Baptist, the requirement of certifying membership in any parish is served canonically by the mere provision of proof of domicile, said domicile being situated in the territory of a given parish ipso facto and de jure establishes the person as a member of that territorial parish. Canon law takes precedence over local law in the event of ambiguity, vagueness, over-broadness or arbitrariness of the local provision.

RC Diocese of Albany chief rulemaker, Scharfenberger.

In terms of the fact of “in good standing,” unless specifically stated in clear and unambiguous terms How? in practical and objective terms a pastor is to determine “good standing,” and which criteria are to be applied for such determination, as well as the specificity and reliability of such criteria when applied to an ever-changing and practically protean population of a territorial parish, made even more difficult by the mobility of today’s populations, the arbiter in the first instance must be those who are intimately familiar with the character of the sponsor designate; in the second instance, testimony or reference or direct observation my be called upon to further confirm fitness. Otherwise, any claim to system or protocol that may be proffered by pastor or lay administrator is subject to scrutiny, and likely to be found insufficient, if not illicit or even canonically unlawful.

It is our determination that the territorial parish does not have the canonical authority to require registration of persons as members of a parish, that in virtue of their residing within the territory of a given parish makes them de jure members of that parish and entitled to a letter confirming that fact, providing that they can give a showing of having been validly and licitly baptized into the Church.

As established at c. 874 §1 (CCL) the requirements for acting as a confirmation sponsor are also set forth by canon law, that is, the sponsor designate must be baptized, have received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, and have been confirmed pursuant the terms and conditions of Canon Law. Furthermore, the sponsor designate shall be 16 years old or older, shall not be not be bound by any canonical penalty, and shall not be the father or the mother of the person to be confirmed. The law also requires that the person shall lead a life of faith but does not provide specifics.

How do you score? Do you know how to score? Are you a “Catholic in Good Standing?

Catholic “in good standing.” There then arises the question of what is meant by a Catholic “in good standing.” It is generally purported that a so-called Catholic in good standing is a baptized Catholic who claims to live by the Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church as promulgated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which derive presumably from the statements expressed or implied in §§ 2041-2043 of the said Catechism. The observation, however, obtains that monitoring those “precepts” for each parishioner is at best daunting if not entirely impossible.[5] Furthermore, even if the precepts were verifiable in any credible way, keeping those precepts would be a question of Pharisee vs tax collector (Lk 18:9-14), demonstrating more technique than disposition (inner forum).

Either the pastor or his administrators would have to take a Sunday mass, reconciliation, Eucharist attendance, and would have to have some method of verifying their ascetic (fasting and abstinence) practices as well. Some parishes have inaugurated a control of collection envelopes to keep tabs on their flocks but not everyone chooses to use collection envelopes and many simply drop cash into the collection baskets. Most persons today would object to such monitoring and auditing practices.

External observation and compliance do not testify to inner holiness by any means and one would benefit by keeping in mind the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, while admitting that the majority in the pews are Pharisees or at best ignorant of anything approximating the so-called “precepts.” Moreover, it is flies in the face of reason to even suggest that the majority of Catholics today qualify even in one or two of the precepts; accordingly, the majority, though living moral and ethical lives, would be rejected by the Church as not being “in good standing.” So, the reasonable conclusion is that the term “in good standing” is not verifiable in reliable objective terms, and that such verification would necessarily have to resort to a creation of an exclusivist, verifiable class of individuals within any parish, perpetuating an already excessively technical and legalistic hierarchical and paternalistic institution that has had its well-earned share of criticism and condemnation, and has tragically resulted in the hemorrhaging of the faithful from an ailing Church. The term “in good standing” is a farce and should be abandoned post haste.

 

The Precepts used to determine a Catholic in good standing are taken from the RC Catechism. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church is “a text which contains the fundamental Christian truths formulated in a way that facilitates their understanding” and is “a ‘point of reference’ for bishops, priests, catechists, teachers, preachers, scholars, students and authors.”   The RC Catechism contains doctrine (teachings of the Church) doctrine and some dogma (universal truths of the Church) but in itself is not dogma![6]

Furthermore, the USCCB notes that:

“By its very nature, a catechism presents the fundamental truths of the faith which have already been communicated and defined. Because the Catechism presents Catholic doctrine in a complete yet summary way, it naturally contains the infallible doctrinal definitions of the popes and ecumenical councils in the history of the Church. It also presents teaching which has not been communicated and defined in these most solemn forms.” (17)

The Catechism is a resource book and may be difficult for the “people in the pews,” to understand. According to the bishops’ statement:

“It would be helpful if the reader had some theological background, but the Catechism itself presents a considerable amount of theological background material.”[7]

Most lay ministers and parish administrators do not have theological or pastoral training; it is also true that putting important decisions in the hands of amateurs is a very slippery slope. Add to that the power dynamics and the political and social forces that are prominent in parishes and we have a very hazardous situation indeed.

Any guidelines or protocols existing in a particular parish must, of course, comply with Canon Law, as must any local law, and must be applicable uniformly and impartially to any given situation, including that of confirmation sponsor. The local ordinary and then his presbyter pastor are the ultimate authorities for determining such guidelines and protocols which clearly do not fall within the purview of persons not having canonical authority to promulgate or to interpret such guidelines or protocols.

If a question or problem should arise with regard to the provisions of canon law or to local laws, guidelines, or rules licitly, lawfully, and validly promulgated and ratified, such question or problem should be consigned to the parish pastor in the first instance for resolution. Pursuant to c. 145 and c. 519, lay persons or lay administrators do not have canonical authority in such spiritual matters.

The pastoral, spiritual, administrative procedures in the individual locales use to interview, screen, assess, guide, instruct, mentor, or otherwise prepare sponsor designates for their role as sponsor is beyond the question posed, and are thus beyond the scope of this opinion. That statement notwithstanding, the fact that they are beyond the scope of this opinion does not in any way detract from their importance nor from the responsibility of the parochial ecclesial officers to ensure that such procedures are in place and are implemented objectively and impartially, and that the associated lay ministers and administrators are adequately discerned, formed and mentored to ensure the well-being of confirmation candidates and their sponsor designates.

And the result is bad disciples!

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger demonstrating the virtue of poverty. A bit too theatrical and ostentatious to be convincing, or to our taste. Whom does he think he’s fooling, anyway?


Notes

[1] The parish of St Patrick in Ravena has a number of problems not the least of which is their website which is an indicator of the lack of professionalism and care that one would expect. For example, there is a page entitled “We have come such a long way in a relatively short period of time!  Take a look at our History! / St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Parish began as a mission church in 1859 where the Church overlooked the Hudson River in Coeymans.  In 1917 it was rebuilt at it’s [sic] current site on Main St in Ravena / So who were our Pastors?” That page shows a series of images of a man’s headshot; apparently all the pastors were look alike clones. The Hudson River is not all that the parish of St Patrick in Ravena overlooked. Maybe pastor Scott VanDerveer should spend some time checking his minions’ work and grammar. It’s an embarrassment.

[2] Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that the local parish of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, should share the same deficiencies as the parish of the same name, St Patrick, in Charlotte, NC? What does that tell you?

[3] Can. 145 §1. An ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual purpose. Further, at  §2., the Code states “The obligations and rights proper to individual ecclesiastical offices are defined either in the law by which the office is constituted or in the decree of the competent authority by which the office is at the same time constituted and conferred.”

[4] C. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law. [emphasis provided]

[5] Appendix I, Catholic Catechism, Precepts

[6] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Frequently Asked Questions about the Catechism of the Catholic Church” (http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-catechism-of-the-catholic-church.cfm last accessed on February

[7] Having made that statement, I would like to ask the bishops Who is to decide or determine what is what in the Catechism? Without formation and training it is a hopeless task for the lay person to discern what is doctrine, what is dogma, what is theology, etc. The whole statement is a collection of ecclesial double-talk!

 

Who are the Thought Police in Your Community? Do you know?

“As members of a community, even as citizens of a nation, we are frequently exposed to and have to cope with what is known as groupthink, a phenomenon that may seriously compromise our image of ourselves, our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, community leaders, and may also compromise our moral rights of personal dignity and autonomy. And yet, groupthink is precisely what underlies much of our “training” in how to be good citizens and in the so-called education programs and our social organizations, and is pandemic in most of the institutions in which we work. Groupthink,  shamefully, has been a part of our religious institutions since time immemorial. Agendizing, brainwashing, programming.”

Anonymous Contributor.

We, as citizens, as members of our community, parents and educators, as human beings we are told that we have an inherent and guaranteed right to speak freely and openly about most subjects without the stigma that might apply to a person living and working in a different country. We would like to think that people, especially our elected leaders and our educators, tend to listen to us and give some weight and importance to what we have to say; consequently, we can and should play an important and proactive role in deciding how we live, work and are governed, and in order to do this, we must make our leaders aware that we are aware of the groupthink phenomenon, its dangers and risks, and implement ways of avoiding this insidious, infectious, and fatal phenomenon in our communities and in our lives. Once people are made aware of the groupthink phenomenon and ways to identify it and prevent it, we are on the path to reclaiming the efficacy and authenticity we once enjoyed but lost in the wake of the development of corporate control of our institutions and the chilling of interpersonal relations by online social media.

Groupthink.[1] It’s everywhere and it’s toxic! It’s dehumanizing. It perpetuates lies and factoids. Yet you love it! It makes things so much easier when you don’t have to use your own brain and you allow yourself to be programmed to think, speak, act, perform according to the in-group’s agenda.

Irving Janus mainstreamed the term in 1982. [2] According to Janis, groupthink

“[h]appens when in-group pressures lead to deterioration in mental efficiency, poor testing of reality, and lax moral judgment. It tends to occur in highly cohesive groups in which the group members’ desire for consensus becomes more important than evaluating problems and solutions realistically. An example would be the top executive cabinet (the president and vice presidents) of a firm, who have worked together for many years. They know each other well and think as a cohesive unit rather than as a collection of individuals.” [my italics]

We can find groupthink in our workplaces, churches, schools, social media, government, and Yes! even in our homes.

Janis identified eight symptoms of groupthink, which are noteworthy and which I will briefly describe below.[3] Persons affected by groupthink may exhibit any of these symptoms:

  1. An experience of the illusion of invulnerability. This illusion produces an unreal sense of optimism and the sense of empowerment to take risks, sometimes extreme, which the individual would not otherwise take.
  2. Acceptance of a collective rationalization. The individual ignores the red flags and warnings and refuse to reassess their biases, prejudices and assumptions regarding reality.
  3. Belief in the inherent morality of the group. The individual and members of the group are convinced of the righteousness of their beliefs and become indifferent to the ethical or moral effects and consequences of the group’s decisions and actions.
  4. Establishment and adoption of stereotypes of out-groups. Stereotypes are a facile way of dealing with the “others” and do not require thinking or decision-making. De rigueur negative presumptions and characterizations of the “enemy” render rational and effective responses to conflict unnecessary. Cookie-cutter responses are the result.
  5. The imposition of direct pressure on dissenters. Any deviation from the presumptions and dictates of the group results in sanctions. Individuals, group members are discouraged from expressing alternative views, or representing positions conflicting any of the group’s views.
  6. Requirement of self-censorship. The individual and members of the group are required to ensure that any questions, doubts and deviations from the group’s “consensus,” program, or agenda are not expressed. The individual must “watch his/her mouth” or be sanctioned.
  7. The illusion of unanimity. The views and judgments, decisions and actions of the “group” or of the group’s statutory and declared leader(s) and majority are assumed to be unanimous, justified and reliable.
  8. The presence of self-appointed ‘mindguards’. Certain members isolate and “protect” the group and its leader(s) from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. These are the “thought police” who ensure that any information that can potentially threaten the group or its leaders is filtered out and neutralized.

In other words, the phenomenon of groupthink seems to have grown out of and fits perfectly into the framework of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” with its implications of superpower invulnerability, collective processing of carefully cooked data and information, a sense of moral superiority of the group’s decisions and actions, the facile handling of non-members by the application of stereotypes, direct suppression and sanctioning of any opposing thought or expression — the individual “watches his mouth” to avoid attracting attention to himself and possible sanctioning —, all communications and indicators seem to indicate that “everyone is on the same page” and “stands united.”  Finally, the self-appointed “mindguards,” the Orwellian “thought police,” ensure that everyone toes the mark, knows his place, and follows the “party line.” Sounds awfully much like PC, political correctness, doesn’t it?

The Thought Police or Mindguards ensure that you don’t think out of the box.

As I mentioned above, groupthink is easily observed in our schools, churches, public servants, social groups, the workplace, etc.

Here’s an example that comes from my college days when I worked as an encyclopedia salesperson. We were trained to ask potential purchasers questions that they could not disagree with, such as, for example: “You do care about your children’s education, don’t you?” or “You want your children to have the best available information for school, don’t you?” Once they answered in the affirmative, they were cooked. It was sort of like asking a veteran the question, “You do love your country, don’t you?” Or a clergyperson asking a dissenter, “You do believe in God, don’t you?” Ask those sorts of questions and you get a commitment to groupthink; the rest follows once the individual is on the slippery slope to group membership, willingly or not.

It’s certainly easy enough to self-test yourself by asking yourself if any of the above symptoms could possibly apply to you…but be aware of the sneaky symptom of “self-censorship” because you might actually be unaware that you are self-censoring; you may actually believe that what you say you believe is in fact what you believe. (Please go back and reread that last part. It’s important and you really didn’t understand it, did you?!)

Everyone connected to the same “brain”, the core-group’s!

Here’s a real example: I was at my fitness center and struck up a conversation with a guy who was working on a neighboring piece of equipment. The conversation started out on muscle groups and doping, use of anabolic steroids, doping scandals, and how natural fitness was desirable over and against taking performance enhancers. The conversation drifted to the inquiry, “What do you do?” The guy was intelligent, apparently well-read in the subject of performance enhancers in athletes, and was no dummy. He responded by telling me he was a “personal income tax auditor” for the state of New York. What followed was a textbook example of groupthink. He commenced by telling me how interesting his job was because he was making sure everyone stayed honest. Everyone should pay taxes. Not everyone was honest, some people were honest but ignorant. The tax department and auditors were there to protect the public. He was happy doing what he was doing, and he liked his work. He was protecting honest citizens from the crooks and the parasites. New York state took care of its people unlike those states with no personal income tax, states that provided sanctuary to people who want to keep their fortunes but not share by paying personal income taxes. Basically, you can’t argue with this guy because what he is saying is superficially true, ethical and moral. But, and there’s the clincher, his thinking from one subject to the other was schizoid! He was very individualized, independent, even liberal when discussing the social and personal impact of performance enhancers on non-professional vs. professional athletes, and the use of performance enhancers in the guy-next-door who works out to stay healthy or attractive. His lock-step “tax department” jargon and speech, almost soapbox preaching, was groupspeak, the product of groupthink. Can you identify the symptoms?

Here are two more examples I found on a professional networking site, LinkedIn, which is slowly morphing into a Facebook-type social media space. Whereas LinkedIn was originally intended to be a forum facilitating networking among professionals, the parasites slowly infiltrated and started their social justice preaching and religious proselytizing.

One characteristic of social justice and religion is that both are fertile ground for a bumper crop of groupthinkers. Example 1: Social Justice. This example is remarkable because it is so homogeneous in the majority responses and because of the sheer number of responses: 5,013 Likes, 321 comments! Synopsis: A young woman with Down’s syndrome appears in what is obviously a staged video, in which she receives a call from a fast-food chain, Chik-Fil-A, in which she is offered a job paying $11.50/h. It is her first real job and she is elated at the offer and accepts.

The groupthink: Actual comments: “Awesome!” “Wonderful!””Isn’t Chik-Fil-A a great company!””The story brought tears to my eyes!” “It made my day! We need more stories like this!” But many of the comments were condescending: They mentioned “learning disability” and how remarkable it was that this young woman had “won,” how employment “is a right,” and other misguided slogans associated with what we know as PC but was described by Janis as groupthink. The censorship/sanction/thought police action: A commenter posted some reasonable, dissenting, conflicting thoughts about the reality of the situation in terms of stereotyping highly functional Down’s syndrome  persons as having “learning disabilities,” a bucket term that stereotyped them unfairly. That she was hired on her merits and if she didn’t have what Chick-Fil-A needed and wanted, she would not have gotten the call. That Down’s syndrome persons are highly desirable in service jobs with customer contact because of their personality characteristics, as was pioneered by McDonald’s some time ago, and that these corporations are exploiting vulnerable persons with Down’s syndrome because they are perfect for these low-paying jobs, and it creates a very positive social image for the corporation, so-called “organizational health.” (See the McKinsey report below.)

Needless to say, the “mindguards” were quick to respond, and butchered the commentor for being “a Grinch,” for not “caring” and for his “dripping sarcasm.” Not a single comment out of more than 300 comments and replies accepted the truth of what the commenter wrote; almost all condemned him for not sharing the majority’s groupthink. (Click here to read the actual comments made by the commenter and some of the replies.)[4]

The value of hiring persons with Down syndrome is not lost on the corporations![5]

The economic benefits of hiring persons with intellectual challenges is not lost on the corporations, as is demonstrated by the McKinsey report[6], but we’re not supposed to talk about the dark side of Julia’s hiring because the group think won’t allow anyone to pop their bubble of denial or distract them from their happy, be nice, love fest by suggesting reality. That’s groupthink.

Here’s another from the same site, LinkedIn. This time it was a religious fanatic known popularly as a “Jesus-freak,” someone who posts an inflammatory statement about how Jesus is the truth and everything else is a lie. First of all, such posts are more Facebook quality and have nothing to do with professional networking, so it shouldn’t have been on LinkedIn in the first place. So the original post by one David Wood, who describes himself as the “Executive Producer Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Resurrection of Jesus Christ LLC, School Of Hard Knocks,” and his project as:

“The Resurrection Project unites the Body of Christ, to launch a global love movement, a feature length movie, and a video game, and tell the story of Jesus’ Christ resurrection and the 40 days that followed. “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” is the greatest love story ever told.” www.theresurrectionofjesuschrist.com [Author’s note: My italics; I have not undertaken any editing of Mr. Wood’s English.]

His post was simply:

That was it. My first reaction was that Islam never claimed that Muhammad was God. Nor does Buddhism teach that Buddha was a god. The name applied to God in Arabic, and hence in Islam is Allah, which is merely an equivalent of the English, God, so that point is really moot. And the fact that Wood claims that his Jesus is the “only one God” reveals a bit of tunnel vision, even religious and theological ignorance. This is groupthink at one of its worst moments!

My point is this: Approach that post as I did, with the above reasoning, and you will obtain a clear lesson in groupthink.  The post received 51 Likes and 15 Comments but was seen be hundreds, perhaps thousands who didn’t want to “offend” by responding. (Or perhaps because religion is not as popular as Down’s syndrome? Or because the message was so bizarre? Who can say for sure?)

Those three examples should suffice to convince even the hardcore groupthinkers of their affliction.

The kinds of groups that are particularly at risk for the groupthink phenomenon are, of course, groups that we could characterize as cliques, whether consisting of 3 or 3000 persons. Cliques don’t need to be small and a whole company or department may become a clique. The group or clique should be cohesive for groupthink to develop; cohesive factors may include ethnicity, similar interest, and physical appearance. Members of a clique often isolate themselves as a group and tend to view the clique as superior to anyone outside the clique.

Cliques can form in any age group but they are most associated with groups whose members have gotten stuck in an adolescent or late childhood developmental stage, the stage when individuals normally form and become members of such groups. Accordingly, groupthink is characteristic of individuals who may have gotten stuck in a pre-adult developmental stage.

Facebook is a well known huge groupthink-collective in which groupthink can be diagnosed at various levels in the interactions from the very top, where the Facebook Standards and the thought police are active censoring deviant thinkers, that is, anyone who may not agree with Facebook or its policies, to the smaller yet equally repulsive “groups,” which may be “open,” “closed” or “secret”. The problem and real danger associated with Facebook and other social media that functions by exploiting the groupthink phenomenon is the sheer numbers of people who can be and actually are affected by the clique(s).

The proven disorder of Facebook Addiction or Internet Addiction Disorder make the problem even worse because once subscribers are addicted, they are captivated by the groupthink phenomenon and cannot escape.(See our article on Facebook Addiction Disorder on this blog.)

It’s the beginning of the end of open communication, autonomy, and due process.

Another problem is what I would call the “Room 101” factor[7]:  the fact that in terms of groupthink, when Facebook decides to deactivate an account for one reason or another, whether for a period of time certain (days, weeks, etc.) or permanently, this “punishment” practice has a psychospiritual effect on the affected individual, similar to being shunned or banned froma group or a clique. It is a powerful motivator to keep people under their thumb, a control strategy, that works extremely well once Facebook has hooked a person, and the person is sufficiently invested in Facebook in terms of time spent online and digital friends collected, such that the now addicted subscriber will feel the psychosocial pain of being “deactivated.,” in a sense placed in isolation by Facebook without the benefit of due process. Yes, it’s the beginning of the end of open communication, autonomy, and due process. Similar, in fact, to “vaporizing” a dissenter in Orwell’s “1984” where the dissenter is simply made to disappear, as if he never existed. [8]

The recent reports of Facebook’s cooperation with the US and Israeli governments to deactivate certain Facebook pages because their messages are “inconvenient” is a very disturbing step taken in the direction of thought control, Thought Police and Mindguards. That’s why we’ve been trying to get through to our readers to campaign against social media like Facebook! (See our articles on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg‘s ambitious agenda to become God. Once he’s got a fifth of the world’s population addicted to Facebook and can control what they read, hear, see, and say, he’s well on his way to become the next Dictator in Heaven.)


The same “vaporizing” occurs when someone “unfriends” or “blocks” another subscriber who may have violated the group-leader’s or the group’s groupthink policies. Have you been Facebook vaporized recently? You wouldn’t know if you had been because Facebook strategically keeps it a secret; only the vaporizer and Facebook know it. Same applies when someone has a grudge against you on Facebook: they simply report you for such-and-such, and you find yourself deactivated. Groupthink à la Facebook!

The groupthink phenomenon can be avoided but only if the clique or the group is willing to acknowledge the phenomenon, to recognize it in their group, and sees the benefits of avoiding the phenomenon.

Fred Lunenburg (2012) proposes a number of possible ways to avoid groupthink in a group, including[9]:

  • Encouraging group members to state and air objections, doubts, and questions,
  • Promoting impartiality rather than stating preferences and expectations of the group at the outset,
  • The group leaders should periodically discuss the group’s policies and practices and report their transactions back to the group, inviting feedback,
  • Members should be invited to challenge the views of core members (and leaders),
  • At least one member should play the role of devil’s advocate, expressing objections or critiquing group policies and practices, and beliefs,
  • Where there is devil’s advocacy, members should spend time and effort evaluating the warning signals of developing groupthink inherent in adverse responses,
  • Alternative scenarios should be constructed by group leaders in evaluating any rivaling intentions,
  • In the case of a member who appears to consistently rival the group’s polices or practices (Red flag! Think groupthink!), the member should be asked to express as vividly as he can all his residual doubts,
  • Group leaders or core members should present the entire issue to the group to elicit feedback and insights before making any definitive choices or decisions.

Group coherence and decision making has clear benefits over individual decision making. This is especially true when a decision must be made under conditions of uncertainty.[10] Some of the benefits described by Bonito (2011) include[11]:

  • Improved decision quality
  • Higher level of creativity and creative thinking
  • Improved decision acceptance and organizational learning
  • Increased decision understanding
  • Enhanced effectiveness in establishing objectives, identifying alternatives
  • Greater decision accuracy and avoidance of errors and glitches

Admittedly, these benefits may be less related to the actual outcomes of decisions than they are to group morale and satisfaction; we can agree that groups should and probably do perform better when

  • Group members present a variety of relevant skills that differ sufficiently but do not create constraints or conflicts;
  • There is a division of labor or effort, input;
  • Individual inputs can be “averaged” in such a way as to arrive at a group “position.”

Are you controlled by the Thought Police, the Mindguards from the cradle to the grave?

By now you might be asking yourself the question: “That having been said, and while applicable to business decisions or to Facebook and other moderated social media, how does that apply to spiritual care or to our lives in our communities and the nation at large?” Well, in order to answer that question, I have to ask you to step out of your stall in the sheeple box, and think about the environment in which you live. Ask yourselves if you can identify groupthink in these situations:

  • In your church or faith community. (Hint: How do you talk about other faith or belief groups)?
  • In the Sports Association or Social Club. Do you have to toe the mark in what you talk about?
  • In your political or social club (Hint: When at a Republican Club or Democratic Club or American Legion occasion, are you careful what you say?)
  • In your children’s schools (Hint: Do you speak your mind at a Board of Education meeting or just sit simmering? At a PTA meeting what do you feel you can discuss? Do you even attend any of these?)
  • At town board or village board meetings (Hint: Do you speak your mind at a board meetings or just sit simmering? Do you even attend any of these?)
  • Have you ever avoided going somewhere or doing something because you were concerned what “they” would say?
  • Are there subjects or topics or language that you avoid specifically to avoid being stereotyped or labeled? Do you choose political correctness over truth and honesty? Do you do that out of fear of the Mindguards?

Are you being stalked by the community or social media Thought Police, the Mindguards?

At home do you have open discussions with family members or are some subjects simply avoided or off-topic? Are the Thought Police at work in your home? Or are you letting the Facebook and social media thought police do their work for you? Have you seen your kids today?

When is the last time you looked at what your schools are teaching to your children? Have you ever openly questioned what they are being taught? Or are you letting the Mindguards manage your kids’ minds?

At work do you challenge social injustice or do you simply turn your back hoping it won’t hit you next? Are you open in discussing what you feel needs to be considered for change? Do you suggest improvements? Or are you living in constant fear of being “vaporized,” “unfriended,” “blocked” by your employer or even your workmates and coworkers?

Have you been castrated by the Thought Police, the Mindguards?

Most of us will find ourselves interacting throughout our entire lives with employers, educators, community members, governing bodies, committees, or just with our families. We take these interactions for granted; that’s a big mistake..Each of these environments is at high risk of the groupthink phenomenon, and we need to start thinking about the nature and quality of those interactions. Can you identify the symptoms of groupthink in any of your relationships or interations?

We frequently say that “emotions are contagious,” but we don’t frequently admit that not only emotions but the environment created by the attitudes and thinking of leaders and core members in a group are just as contagious in the form of groupthink.

Organizations like schools, religious institutions, government, social organizations are hotbeds for the groupthink

Those of us who are aware of our lives will admit that each group or community has its own culture, and if we are to work effectively with the members and effetively serve the ourselves and our community, we have to be aware of the groupthink phenomenon as it most certainly exists in that group or community. Ask yourself if you feel your teachers, your administrators, your elected officials, local law enforcement are listening to you and your concerns and their attitude towards the “necessary evil” of your opinion must be tolerated rather than facilitated. That attitude extends to all the members of the community, including educators, elected officials, law enforcement, etc.,  and the symptoms of groupthink can be quickly and easily identified if you care to look. How do we deal with that situation armed with the awareness of the probable existence of groupthink?

Organizations like schools, religious institutions, government, social organizations are hotbeds for the groupthink phenomenon because they are founded on very clear principles of operation and program; they have their” agendas.” The objectives and goals of the group are clearly defined and the members are controlled by the assignment of specific tasks and imposing protocols. The agenda is clearly defined. You simply don’t dissent or rock the hospice boat. Groupthink.

Institutional Agendas Define the Group.

 

As “tradition” the groupthink may have developed as a response to the local culture, whether it be socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, etc. In this case, it is a response to the exigencies of doing living and functioning with that demographic mix, and is almost a requirement for survival. Is this “positive” groupthink? Perhaps, but it goes without saying that unless the establishment leaves the door open to open discussion, sharing of insights, correct interpretations of warning signs and red flags, it can quickly transmute into “negative” groupthink.

As the organization leaves the traditional, local, “family” orientation or organization and moves towards the group or the corporate systems, groupthink becomes more of a high risk than a positive stabilizing factor. This is where the culture of the group or corporation overshadows the individuals that move it as well as those who consume its products and services. Rather than being an evolving, “living” organism, it is a monolith. Again,I can’t help but cite Facebook or the federal government as outstanding examples of such a negative development.

A number of large multinational corporations like IBM, 3M, Anheuser-Busch have recognized the threat posed by groupthink and have implemented and developed processes to prevent or at least to mitigate its deleterious and prejudicial effects within the components of the organization and on the organization as a whole. Lunenburg (2012) discusses some of the ways they have approached prevention of groupthink by way of methods like devil’s advocacy and dialectical inquiry. McDougel and Baum (1997) discuss the application of devil’s advocacy to stimulate discussion and avoid groupthink in focus groups.[12] McAvoy et al. discuss how devil’s advocacy and the principles of sensemaking can be used in a method they call the “agitation workshop” as a method of challenging the false consensus created by the groupthink phenomenon.[13]

Do frequent meetings and evaluations work to avoid groupthink? More likely than not, they may actually promote groupthink when leadership reiterate at each meeting the same expectations at the outset, setting the stage for a more limited and controlled conversation that does not allow for alternative discussion. But such meetings and evaluations and be highly productive if, at the outset, the leaders or facilitators are aware of the symptoms of groupthink and some of the methods to directly avoid it, as well as the quasi-paedagogical methods of enhancing creative thinking, even improving performance by institutionalizing dissent!

We can and should play an important and proactive role in making the organizations and leaders with whom we work aware of the groupthink phenomenon, its dangers and risks, and ways of avoiding the phenomenon in our environments. Once people are made aware of the phenomenon and ways to identify it and prevent it, we are on the path to reclaiming the efficacy and authenticity we once enjoyed but lost in the wake of the development of corporate control of our institutions and the chilling of interpersonal relations by online social media.

By using your brain you can avoid the dangers of groupthink!
The Editor


Notes

[1] Irving Janis originally coined the term groupthink in 1972. (Janis, Irving L.  (1972).  Victims of Groupthink.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.)

[2] Janis, I. L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascos (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

[3] For a more comprehensive discussion of the eight symptoms please refer to Janis’ Groupthink, Psychological Studies, above. A brief and very helpful overview of groupthink is provided in What is Groupthink? (http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm, last accessed on January 8, 2018, 2018).

[4] The “Julia got a job!” obviously scripted video is synopsized on YouTube in the following words: “A heartwarming video shows the moment a teenage girl with Down syndrome receives her first job offer. A girl named Julia gets a phone call from a Chick-fil-A employee in Rancho Murieta, California. ‘I was just calling to offer you a position here,’ the woman says on speaker phone. ‘Your pay rate would be 11.50 per hour, would you like to accept?’ ‘I do,’ Julia says, her face overcome with emotion. As the woman tells her that she will start in December, Julia breaks down in tears of happiness. ‘Oh my gosh,’ she can be heard saying as she thanks the woman profusely. Julia’s family then encircles her and gives her a massive hug while chanting ‘Chick-Fil-A’. “ (AutoNews- Source:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5101331/Teen-girl-syndrome-cries-s-given-job.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490)

[5] According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that serves private, public and social sector institutions, in a report entitled, “The value that employees with Down syndrome can add to organizations,” we read “[H]owever, some companies have chosen to tackle the far more complex challenge of hiring people with intellectual disabilities. Those that have done so have found that these people can add value to organizational health (an organization’s ability to align, execute, and renew itself faster than competitors so that it can sustain exceptional performance over time). Employees with Down syndrome are a particularly interesting topic of research, as they have a number of characteristics that both increase the challenges associated with inclusion and bring added benefits.” [my italics] (McKinsey & Company (2014) “The value that employees with Down Syndrome can add to organizations” (Vicente Assis, Marcus Frank, Guilherme Bcheche, and Bruno Kuboiama), last accessed on January 9, 2018.)

[6] Ibid.

[7] I’m referring to the notorious Room 101 described in Orwell’s novel “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” the room in the Ministry of Truth (MiniTru in Newspeak), where dissenters were taken for “processing,” most never to be heard from again. “You asked me once,” said O’Brien, “what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.”  (“1984” Part 3, Ch. 5)  In “1984” the Inner Party persecutes individualism and independent thinking known as “thoughtcrimes” and is enforced by the “Thought Police.” The Ministry of Love (Miniluv), the ministry in charge of torturing dissidents.  The protagonist Smith is subjected to many forms of torture and is forced into the horror chamber known only as Room 101.

[8] Mind Control – George Orwell BBC 101 Documentary last accessed on January 9, 2018.

[9] Lunenburg, F. (2012).” Devil’s Advocacy and Dialectical Inquiry: Antidote to Groupthink”. International Journal of

Scholarly and Academic Intellectual Diversity, Vol 14, No. 1, pp 1-9.

[10] Nikolaidis (2012) defines uncertainty as “the condition under which an individual [or group] does not have the necessary information to assign probabilities to the outcomes of alternative solutions. (Nikolaidis, E. (2012).  Design decisions under uncertainty with limited information. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.)

[11] Bonito, J. (2011). Interaction and influence in small group decision making. New York, NY: Routledge.

[12] McDougal, C., F. Baum, (1997) “The Devil’s Advocate: A Strategy to Avoid Groupthink and Stimulate Discussion in Focus Groups,” Qualitative Health Research, Volume 7, Number 4, pp 532-541.

[13] John McAvoy, Tadhg Nagle and David Sammon, (2013) “A novel approach to challenging consensus in evaluations: The Agitation Workshop,” The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation, Volume 16 Issue 1,  pp 45-55.

 
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Church, Government, Schools, Parents are Failing to Protect Our Children!!!

Republished with Permission of the Author and the Owner of the
Church, Ministry and Pastoral Care


The Church, rather than aiding and abetting the moral and spiritual demise of the human being; rather than cooperating and collaborating with the evils of social media, better named social disease; rather than having a clearly socialist, heretic pope blurting out his heresies over Twitter; rather than pastors preaching the pabulum of social justice and socialism rather than moral values and virtue, the Church and churches are failing us miserably! The Church and churches are failing not only the faithful or those hungry for spirituality but also those of us who are active in teaching, preaching, ministering, and propagating faith traditions and spirituality.

Pope Francis & the Roman Catholic Church Collaborate with Facebook

The Church is Failing Us!

We need to start re-assessing ourselves, our life styles, our priests, pastors, ministers, rabbis, and imams. We need to put a stop to the corporations and their snaking into our lives, our souls, our families! We need to start with disciplining Twitter, Facebook, and other social media who are destroying ignorant and even savvy adults, have even claimed presidents and popes who have succumbed to the addiction, and who are now laying claim to our most vulnerable and valuable members of our society, our children!

Anti-pope Jorge Bergoglio on Twitter

Where are the bishops, the clergy, the rabbis, the imams on these pernicious, scurrilous, specious, and evil developments? I’ll tell you straight out: Our bishops, our clergy, our rabbis, our imams, and our profane secular leaders are willing accomplices to the destruction of the human spirit by so-called social media, especially the filth-monger Facebook and its Antichrist founder, Marc Zuckerberg and his demonic minions!

Anti-pope meets Antichrist.
Jorge Bergoglio and Marc Zuckerberg
The Match Made in Hell

What has happened to the Churches’ pilgrimage on the higher moral road? They’ve ended up in a drainage ditch!

This blog is all about awareness, awakening. This is a blog is all about awakening the spirit in spirituality and authentic faith practices among all faith and belief traditions. This blog is all about awakening the human spirit. Because it’s about awakening the human spirit, I feel compelled to write this article about how Facebook is killing the human spirit. I’m going to divert attention from our commentary on church and congregation and spiritual development to a very alarming and dangerous situation being created by the social media drug, Facebook. I am diverting to this subject because it concerns our most vulnerable and valuable asset, our children. Please take the time to read this article and to seriously consider how Facebook is striking at the very core of humanity — how Church and clergy are aiding and abetting the assault on humanity —, and how we must do something to stop Facebook’s uncontrolled control of their subscribers and now this unabashed agenda targeting young children. It’s tantamount to digital pedophilia, child abuse at its worst, because it’s targeting their social and spiritual development, only to ensure that Facebook dominates our society. An the Church, not only the Roman Catholic Church but all Christian denominations and most non-Christian traditions are aiding and abetting the development. Think of the ramifications! What has happened to the Churches’ pilgrimage on the higher moral road? They’ve ended up in a drainage ditch!

Facebook’s Worst Idea Ever? A Messenger App for Kids


In an online article in Family, Facebook’s Worst Idea Ever? A Messenger App for Kids [New Jersey Family, December 4, 2017], author Megan Muesen writes:  “Facebook says it will collect some data, including children’s names, the content of their messages and data about how they are using the app. Facebook also reserves the right to share information with third parties (which may have their own privacy policies regarding children) and says it won’t use data from Messenger Kids to create ads…It’s hard to navigate the ever-changing internet landscape, especially at a time when children under the age of eight are spending an hour per day staring at a screen.” But can we trust Facebook to protect the best interests of our children, or can we expect Facebook to protect its own interests, especially its bottom line and revenues?

Facebook is more of a social disease than a social opportunity. It has robbed us of our ability to communicate in human terms, it has created addicts of most of its users. Facebook is a trap that lures unsuspecting people into what they think is a unique opportunity to connect and then treats subscribers like a bunch of idiots blocking accounts at random for days for any so-called violation of Facbook rules, and informing the user that they “may have violated” a Facebook rule. “May have”?  What does that mean. You don’t know and Facebook “systems” doing the blocking don’t care.

You complain that you “don’t have time” to do this or that in your day. Did you ever keep track of the time you spend on Facebook? Try keeping time you spend on Facebook each day for a couple of days. Just jot down Time On/Time Off. You’ll be amazed at how much time you spend on that cyberdemon. Now visit this article and find out if you’re addicted to Facebook (or any other Internet site). You’re an addict and don’t even know it.

Children are becoming fFcebook shadow people

It’s a form of self-deceiving, self-defeating, self-destructive behavior (SDB). This is a serious problem and everyone using Facebook and other social media should be aware of this devastating self-perpetuating, deadman’s spiral behavior. It develops insidiously and has dire effects. Self-destructive behavior is real, is affecting huge numbers of people using social media, and is highly addictive. It’s even affecting the Church and religious and belief traditions of all types.

Got Messenger? Even worse still. You may think you’re important getting all those notifications and messages but Guess what? you’re getting them from other addicts. Anyone who needs request a chat, a video call more than once or twice a day to the same person really needs to get back to reality and get a life. They, you’re addicted.

Just like any other drug, social media takes control of your life even only after a short time of recreational use a.k.a. social use. All it takes is a little bait and those susceptible to addition are hooked like a fish. Remember the time when someone asked you if you had a Facebook account and you actually said No. Facebook now reports that it has some 1.4 billion users worldwide, many of them addicts in the First World, but many also in the second and third world, people who are very vulnerable and susceptible to the wrong messages being disseminated by Facebook users and by Facebook itself. Imagine the scenario where presidents and popes have accounts on Facebook and Twitter and send their public propaganda to millions, billions worldwide. No think of the invisible, clandestine operations that are no doubt going on behind the scenes or behind the profile and “friend” you’ve been sharing your secrets with. Sure, keep indiscriminately “friending” every cyberfreak that comes along. Sure send them a picture of your private parts. Sure, send them anything they ask for. The cheap thrill now will cost you plenty later. That’s a fact of self-destructive behavior, by the way. Read my article.

The whole Federal Law thing about protecting children from online exploitation is a load of bulls***, people. See through the agenda!

Facebook recently launched a new app targeting young childrenFacebook launches a version of Messenger for young children; the app is targeting children and is designed for children ages six to 12 (!!!!). Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), a US federal law, is supposed to  protect underage children from exploitation online, and it’s the reason so many online services require children be 13 years of age or older in order to sign up. Facebook says the new app is only available in the US. Surprised? But the still open question is this: How does Facebook ensure that its present members are a certain age before sign-up? It’s obvious it can’t verify the age of a non-existent person and Facebook is crawling with non-existent persons. Just check out the profiles and subscriber names! Facebook can’t verify an account holder’s name or age, it’s that simple! They rely on what the account holder provides, and that’s usually fake! So the whole Federal Law thing about protecting children from online exploitation is a load of bulls***, people. See through the agenda!

Facebook is going after the next generation of users by targeting children!

Is this your child’s future? Staring for hours every day into an electronic device?

Facebook’s own spokesperson provides a damning statement on Facebook’s real agenda: Facebook is going after the next generation of users by targeting children. Facebook’s Public Policy Director Antigone Davis writes, “Children today are online earlier and earlier.” Davis goes on to say that “research shows that kids are using apps that are intended for teens and adults.” Davis says Facebook collaborated with National PTA on a study showing observing 1,200 American parents of children under the age of 13, with three out of every five parents saying kids under 13 are already using messaging apps, while 81 percent say their kids stated using social media apps as early as eight.” That statement clearly reads that children are already using adult apps, and are chatting and messaging, despite any toothless federal law and the stupidity of their parents! Facebook’s own statement clearly points out that Facebook is going after the next generation of users by targeting children! Facebook is creating a pipeline using young children to become regular users of the Facebook cyberplague.

It’s evil, it’s filth, it’s degenerate.

It hat what the PTA is all about? Parents should demand discipline of any teacher, any school, any school board of education that promotes or allows Facebook, Twitter, or Messenger to be used by students or who promote using social media for communicating school business. The same goes for any parish, congregation, synagogue, temple, mosque that promotes social media as a means for communication among their members. It’s evil, it’s filth, it’s degenerate.

Facebook has proven it cannot be trusted with youth data in the past

In an online article in Wired, Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for the nonprofit group Public Citizen, says Facebook has proven it cannot be trusted with youth data in the past, pointing to a leaked Facebook report from May that promised advertisers the ability to track teen emotions, such as insecurity, in real-time. “Their response was just that they will not do similar experiments in the future,” says Strader. At the time, advocacy groups asked for a copy of the report, but Facebook declined. [Source: Facebook for 6-year olds?]

It’s not about social media, it’s only about social control.

Messenger Kids. Facebook is going after the next generation of users by targeting children!  Messenger Kids is targeting the 8-13 age group and Facebook is asking parents to give their approval so children can message one another. By enlisting the parents as willing tools to sacrifice their children, Facebook is betting that the app can introduce a new generation of users to the Marc Zuckerberg’s ever-expanding social control universe. Zuckerberg’s greed, arrogance, and intrusion into the family has no bounds! He has to be stopped along with his Facebook evil. It’s not about social media, it’s only about social control.

The glaring arrogance and undisguised attack on our young and children, undermining the role of parents and significant others is unforgivable! The idolatry has become overwhelming and I’d rather not continue supporting it. It is clearly dehumanizing and is doing much damage to our people. The recent announcement of an app for the 13 and under is one of the the most disgusting and ugly attacks on children and their social, moral and spiritual development yet seen in our history. We have to make a move and I am doing my part by this protest: I’m deleting all of my Facebook accounts! I urge you to do the same.

The new app is tantamount to child abuse, akin to pedophilia. Parents who allow it should be damned. In a NY Times article, New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families, there is a huge debate among parents who, on the one hand are concerned about “Facebook’s snaking its way into his children’s lives at an early age would most likely do more harm than good,” and those who feel that technology is an inevitability and appreciate “Facebook’s approach with the new app.” The parent interviewed who appreciates Facebook’s newest perversion is, of course, from the LaLa-Land, California, home of Silicon Valley and Facebook. Surprised? Sure, such parents are more than willing to abandon their children to their electronic devices; that provides more me-time for the parents.

I’ve often referred to Facebook and other social media as an addictive drug. Modern science has identified it as being addictive and has even given it a name, Internet Addictive Disorder, and a sub-category of Facebook Addictive Disorder, with its own set of psychiatric signs and symptoms. What more evidence do we need than our own behavior, self-defeating, self-deceiving and frequently self-destructive, to prove to us that Facebook is doing irreparable damage to adults, and is now targeting an even more vulnerable group, our children, and they’re asking parent to cooperate in their own children’s destruction.

One parent’s position on this issue is worth reading. Jenny Anderson tells us “Why I Won’t Let My Children Near Facebook’s Messenger for Kids,” and it’s clear how one parent is aware enough to put her foot down. We need more parents like Jenny!

You should be more worried about your children and social media!!!

STOP FACEBOOK! RAISE YOUR VOICES! WRITE TO YOUR LEGISLATORS! CONDEMN MARC ZUCKERBERG AND HIS EVIL EMPIRE, THE SHEEPLE OF FACEBOOK! SAVE OUR CHILDREN!!!!

We have to make a move and I am doing my part by this protest: I’m deleting all of my Facebook accounts! I urge you to do the same.

The Forgotten Lesson: Christ’s love for the children.

Thank you for reading!

Rev. Ch. Harold
Church, Ministry & Spiritual Care

 

 

The Greed and Insanity of the American Funeral Industry: Dissolving your dead.

Editor’s Forward

From Deathcare Professional to Disposal Professional

At some point in time, the American funeral director has gone from deathcare professional to disposal professional. It’s really gotten out of hand and it’s time the American people started thinking better about themselves and started telling the government and the corporations to stop treating us like so much municipal waste. This doesn’t happen without the involvement of legislators and government. If funeral directors are forced into providing an immoral but legal service, who’s to blame them? We can boycott them and refuse to use them, and send our loved ones to someone who can treat them with human dignity. It’s our choice and we’d better start thinking about it before someone else makes the choices for us. This new movement in the funeral industry is just disgusting!

The Editor


Excerpt from the article by
Republished with Permission of the Author
Rev. Ch. Harold W. Vadney, BA, [MA], MDiv
Interfaith Bereavement Chaplain/Thanatologist

Dissolve and Flush: Funeralized Alkaline Hydrolysis.

The Newest Technology for Disposing of Dead Human Beings.


In the West, interment, inhumation, entombment have been the traditional  methods of disposing of dead human bodies, that is, prior to the late 19th century with the revival of cremation as an alternative. Until about 1880, cremation was anathema, unless, occasionally, at times of extraordinarily large numbers or dead, such as during war time, during epidemics, or following natural disasters, mass graves or incineration of the corpses was preferred to avoid further catastrophe in terms of public health. Fire cremation was revived in the West as a quasi-pagan option attributed to non-Christian freethinkers and masons or simply to anti-social elements but then took a different tack by appealing to the public health and environmentally conscious elements in conventional society. Today, economic concerns both consumer and industrial take precedence. The dominant market economies in the industrialized West, particularly in the USA, UK, and some Western European countries, as well as the insatiable appetite of post-modern, post-Christian cultures for novelty and individualism, have left the door ajar for the entry into the funeralization professions of an industrialized process called alkaline hydrolysis (AH), an industrial process invented in the late 19th century as a way of dissolving in strong chemicals farm animal waste for use as fertilizer.[1]


“Omnes homines terra et cinis” Sirach 12:32
[“All human beings are earth and ashes”]

In a particularly beautiful description of how the pre-Vatican II Church thought of the human being, and in poetry that was possible only in a more sensitive epoch of human history, one reads:[2]

“The old Church holds on to her dead with eternal affection. The dead body is the body of her child. It is sacred flesh. It has been the temple of a regenerated soul. She blessed it in baptism, poured the saving waters on its head, anointed it with holy oil on breast and back, put the blessed salt on its lips, and touched its nose and ears in benediction when it was only the flesh of a babe; and then, in growing youth, reconsecrated it by confirmation; and, before its dissolution in death, she again blessed and sanctified its organs, its hands and its feet, as well as its more important members. Even after death she blesses it with holy water, and incenses it before her altar, amid the solemnity of the great sacrifice of the New Law, and surrounded by mourners who rejoice even in their tears, for they believe in the communion of saints, and are united in prayer with the dead happy in heaven, as well as with those who are temporarily suffering in purgatory. The old Church, the kind old mother of regenerated humanity, follows the dead body of her child into the very grave. She will not throw it into the common ditch, or into unhallowed ground; no, it is the flesh of her son. She sanctifies and jealously guards from desecration the spot where it is to rest until the final resurrection; and day by day, until the end of the world, she thinks of her dead, and prays for them at every Mass that is celebrated; for, even amid the joys of Easter and of Christmas, the memento for the dead is never omitted from the Canon. She even holds annually a solemn feast of the dead, the day after “All Saints,” in November, when the melancholy days are on the wane, the saddest of the year, and the fallen leaves and chilly blasts presage the season of nature’s death.”[3]

The Church of bygone days frequently used prose poetically and quoted liberally from the Church Fathers and even from the ancient philosophers and historiographers like Plato, Seneca, Socrates, Cicero many of whom, though pre-Christian, did not eschew the notion of the immortal soul.  St Augustine writes, “We should not despise nor reject the bodies of the dead; especially we should respect the corpses of the just and the faithful, which the Spirit hath piously used as instruments and vessels in the doing of good works…for those bodies are not mere ornaments but pertain to the very nature of humankind.”[4]

Cremation made an occasional appearance in isolated periods of Western history or in outlier regions where Christianity had not yet attained dominance; cremation was largely associated with non-Christian, pagan cultures.

In the East, in places where Hinduism and Buddhism had a firm foothold, cremation was and continues to be the norm. In some geographical areas such as in parts of Tibet, where the ground is unfavorable to interment and wood is a scarce and valuable resource, exposure of the corpse or dismemberment of the corpse and consumption by carrion-eating birds, so-called sky-burial or, in its form where the dismembered corpse is cast into a fiver for consumption by fishes, water burial, is practiced.

A similar practice of exposure is found in Zoroastrian communities in Iran, in the so-called towers of silence or dakhma, where the dead are brought, exposed, and consumed by vultures; the skeletal remains are then later collected for disposal.

While isolated instances of cremation are reported both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, burial or entombment was conspicuously the norm. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, burning of a corpse was a final act of abomination, reserved for only the worst elements of society.

One of the common misapprehensions of the Church’s aversion to or discouragement of incineration of the human body as a routinely available option for final disposal is that it was associated with pagan or freethinker practice, or with attempts to dissuade believers from faith in a bodily resurrection. While this might have some historical substance and may be represented by some early writers, it is but a minor hypothesis.

Ancient flame cremation practiced by the ancients.

As Eusebius describes early Christian aversion to flame cremation in a statement that still holds plausible, “” they (the Pagans) did this (cremated) to show that they could conquer God and destroy the resurrection of the bodies, saying, now let us see if they will arise.” In other words, cremation was a challenge to the belief in bodily resurrection as taught and believed in the early Church.

Furthermore, no less a figure than Cicero advances the notion that incineration was of ancient practice in Rome, and suggests that inhumation was a practice that predated the Roman practice of cremation. In fact, some noble Roman families never permitted their bodies to be burned, and Sulla is said to have been the first Roman who ordered his body to be cremated after death, lest his bones should be scattered by his enemies.[5] The pontiffs of pagan Rome would not acknowledge a funeral to be complete unless at least a single bone cut off from the corpse, or rescued from the flames, had been de posited in the earth.

Ancient Greece and Rome did practice cremation at various points in their histories but the ultimate disposal of the remains continued to be burial; either a part not consumed by the flames or the “bones” of the cremated corpse were ultimately buried in the earth. Cremation was by no means consistently the norm or the preferred method of disposal in Greece or in Rome.

Pope Boniface VIII forbade all violent modes of disposing of the dead as savoring of barbarism. “The respect due to the human body requires that it should be allowed to decay naturally, without having recourse to any violent system;” so says Grandclaude. A forcible argument against cremation is also found in the Catholic custom of preserving and honoring the relics of the Saints and putting their bodies or portions of them in the altar. It would be no longer possible to have the most important relics of future Saints if their flesh were to be consumed by fire.

That brief sampling of ancient teachings and beliefs regarding the question of incineration of human remains, arguably a “violent system” of disposing of human remains, should suffice to provide a background for the remainder of this discussion. For a more detailed discussion, I refer the reader to the Reverend Bann’s article cited above.

It was only in the late 19th century that a cremation movement came into being, and then only owing to the deplorable conditions in the cities which were rapidly outgrowing their boundaries due to immigration from rural areas, and the resulting encroachments on the previously outlying churchyards and, with population growth and densification, poor sanitation, and high mortality rates, consequent overfilling of existing cemeteries literally to the point of overflowing.

The urban slums of the Industrial Age.

Such were the conditions that gave rise to the public health concerns of reformers who claimed that the dead in the cemeteries were evil, that their miasmas leached out into the water and the spaces of the living, causing disease, suffering, and death. It was the evil dead rotting in the earth and their juices that were public health enemy No. 1. The open sewers and living conditions of the larger cities, and the putrid waters of the rivers flowing through them, of course, were not to blame.

And so, an alternative method of disposal of the dangerous and filthy dead had to be found, one that did not threaten to gobble up valuable real estate, and one that could be justified in the face of Church and religious objections. Cremation was the most obvious answer for purifying the unclean corpses. After all, since time immemorial fire was the great purifier.

In the beginning, therefore, the initial impetus was the miasma theory of pestilence, and corpses were to blame. Then, around 1880, the germ theory of disease was born. It debunked the established miasma theory of disease, and stated that disease was caused by specific organisms, germs. No problem for the cremationists, who were quite agile in dropping the miasma theory and accepting the germ theory but corpses were not yet off the hook, so to speak.

If germs were the cause of many of the diseases afflicting the population, wouldn’t the putrid rotting corpse be germ heaven? And if you have all those corpses lying about doing nothing but what corpses do, that is, rotting and defiling the air with the aromas of putrecine and cadaverine. Those same rotting corpses were breeding grounds for pestilence and a simple hole in the ground was not very likely to contain the little vermin. Cremation, the great sterilizer, would be the cremationists’ next slogan. But it didn’t last long.

The interests of the economic-minded would carry the day both in terms of the environment and the economy, and that campaign agenda is with us to this day. Basically, the dirge goes: “Why allocate so much valuable land to the dead when the living can profit by it?” Land for the living! After all, as corporations like StoneMor can confirm, cemetery real estate and the real estate occupied by the cemeteries represents a vast fortune. Someone has to tap into it.

The countries of Europe afflicted with the spirit of rationalism had no problem dealing with cemeteries; they just overruled the Church and legislated that the state had ultimate control of the citizen in life and in death. The Church could fall back on canon law but ultimately had to acquiesce to the state’s overwhelming power, and so the cemeteries were secularized. Once secularized they were emptied and their occupants relegated to ossuaries or catacombs en masse, and anonymous in their tens, even hundreds of thousands. In many instances, their eviction from the cemeteries and relocation to the quarries was done under cover of night, in order not to offend the living or present an obstacle to commerce.

France was one of the first Western nations to desecrate consecrated ground and defile the dead.

In countries where the Church, Roman Catholic or mainstream Protestant dominated, the faithful were expected under established sanctions, to obey the doctrines of their faith. For most mainstream Christians, and for all Orthodox Jews and Muslims, cremation was an abomination, and burial in the earth or entombment were the only acceptable methods of sepulture. And so it remained until 1963, when the Roman Catholic Church relieved it’s ban on cremation and, while not encouraging cremation, did not censure those who opted for incineration as their preferred method of disposal. Upto then, those choosing cremation were pro forma classified as apostates, atheists, pagans, free-thinkers, or Masons.

The 1960’s was a decade of revolutionary reform in practically every aspect of life: politics, religion, morals, education, all of which ultimately found expression in attitudes towards life, death, dying and after-death.

Alkaline hydrolysis (AH)[6], aquamation[7], resomation[8], biocremation[9], call it whatever you like it all literally boils down [no pun intended] to taking a dead human body, placing it into a pressure cooker, adding water and chemicals, heating, cooking, draining, rinsing. The dissolved flesh and organic matter is then flushing into the sewer system. What is left is bones and any metallic or synthetic material in the body (artificial joints, pacemakers, sutures, etc.). The metal such as artificial joints etc. will be recycled or “repurposed.”  The bones will be dried and ground up into a sandlike powder and returned to the family or otherwise disposed of.

The actual patented process, alkaline hydrolysis (AH) is a process developed for waste disposal. “Waste disposal” is the actual term used in the patents. AH was developed for disposal of infectious or hazardous waste by dissolving it into a “safe and sanitary” end-product. In fact, the actual wording of one of the patents is: “it is an object of this invention to provide a system and method for safely treating and disposing of waste matter containing undesirable elements, such as infectious, biohazardous, hazardous, or radioactive elements or agents.”

AH was developed for dissolving, liquefying organic matter into a disposable liquid that can be recycled as a fertilizer or simply flushed down the drain. It’s actually a technology that was developed in the late 19th century for disposing of animal waste, and which was developed in the mid-20th century for disposal of farm slaughter waste and for elimination of medical school cadavers, is now being promoted as the new eco-friendly take on cremation. Alkaline hydrolysis a.k.a. water cremation a.k.a. biocremation —  in reality just using a Draino®-like chemical to dissolve the dead human body and flush the remaining human sludge down the drain into the public sewer system — is the new rage in technology. Some funeral homes in about 14 states, where the process is now legal in the United States are now offering it as an alternative to cremation. It’s disgusting and will be a hard sell, since it will be acceptable only to the really bizarre element out there. I hope to clarify some of the issues in this article.

This is not how human beings should be treating their dead.

Download the complete article here:
Dissolve and Flush_article draft


Notes

[1] See also History of Alkaline Hydrolysis by Joseph Wilson. Wilson is the chief executive officer of Bio-Response Solutions, one of the first companies involved in the industrialization and marketing of alkaline hydrolysis for the disposition of human bodies. Joseph H. Wilson, The History of Alkaline Hydrolysis, e-pub, September 2013, 3, http://www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/History-of-Alkaline-Hydrolysis.pdf last accessed on October 29, 2017). The original patent filed by A.H. Hobson, U.S. Patent No. 394982 (1888), describes the process as a “… process of treating bones, which consists in digesting the bones in an alkaline solution in the presence of heat, then separating and concentrating the solution, thereby forming glue, gelatine, or size, in then digesting the remaining hone in a strong alkaline solution, so as to completely dissolve the remaining nitrogenous matter, and bring-the same into a more readily assimilable form…” (Claim 2), and as “certain new and useful improvements in the treatment of bones and animal waste or refuse generally for the purpose of rendering the same more suited for fertilizing purposes, and for obtaining gelatine, glue, and size…” (https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pdfs/US394982.pdf last accessed on October 28, 2017).

[2] By way of precluding any possible suggestion of supercessionism, I would like to state from the outset that I am citing Roman Catholic writers in much of this discussion not because I am so biased but because I would rather use as my foundation a more systematized, mature, and stringent authority, which, if necessary can be attenuated or mollified mutatis mutandi in further arguments, rather than a more loose, liberal, or permissive approach as represented by the more progressive Protestant or post-Christian denominations. Although I practice as an interfaith chaplain, I am steeped in a more classical tradition than many of my contemporaries, and I ask that my readers take that subjective proclivity into consideration when reading my statements.

[3] Brann, Rev. H.A., DD, “Christian Burial and Cremation.” American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. X (Jan-Oct 1885). Philadelphia: Hardy & Mahony. p. 679. Reverend Brann provides a rather comprehensive background and discussion of Roman Catholic sources and thinking on cremation, which, in my reading, is remarkable in its tolerance, given the sociopolitical climate in which it was written (1885-6).

[4] De Civ. Dei Cap. XIII, p. 27, Vol. 41, Migne’s Patrologia.

[5] Desecration by scattering of one’s bones appears to be a thread running through much of ancient human history. Compare Sulla’s concern with the Biblical account (I Kings 31:12) of the incineration of the bodies of Saul and his sons to prevent desecration by the Philistines.

[6] US Patents 5,332,532, 6,437,211, 6,472,580, 7,183,453, 7,829,755, and U.S. Patent No. 7,910,788 (method).

[7] “Aquamation: A Greener Alternative to Cremation?” By Marina Kamenev/Sydney, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010 (http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2022206,00.html, last accessed on October 28, 2017)

[8] “Innovation in sustainable end of life choices” the slogan of the Scottish company Resomation®(http://resomation.com/, last accessed on October 28, 2017).

[9] “Biocremation. A Natural Choice.” (http://biocremationinfo.com/consumers/what-is-bio-cremation, last accessed on October 28, 2017)

 

Is Church Playing the New Lowest Common Denominator; Sending Mixed Messages

Is Church Playing the New Lowest Common Denominator; Sending Mixed Messages? Or no real message at all?

Is the Church missing the bus? Sending the wrong messages?

Passing through some of our local communities, I frequently notice churches, that is, the physical building, the places of worship, and what characterizes them. The structure, the upkeep, the appearances, the messages posted outside; these say a lot about the people these brick and mortar structure, symbolic representatives of the beliefs and communities they claim they serve. I often see the trite clichés like “God is home, come on in!” or “Be yourself; everyone else is taken” and similar trite slogans. Apparently the Roman Catholic Churches in this area, Ravena and Coxsackie, NY, have given up on being taken seriously so now these parish leaders, the pastors, have to play cool cutsie, mimicking their Protestant and Reformist cohorts. Such silliness simply degrades the sacred space and makes idiots of those few who still frequent them.

This is particularly the case when a new pastor tries to become too popular too fast for too many of the wrong reasons. He starts to get sloppy in his role as spiritual leader and too cozy with the local in-crowds. A leader doesn’t have to be a friend and he doesn’t have to entertain. He has to lead. So, as I drive through the aging, geriatric, brown collar community of Ravena, New York, the local Roman Catholic Church, St Patrick’s, catches my attention. How?

Well, some time ago I was surprised to see a folding sign board placed in front of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Ravena, on Main Street. It was last Fall and said something like “Leaves fall but Christ doesn’t”. My first thought was that it was rather silly, rather odd. Something I’d expect from some failing Protestant denomination, or some storefront church whose pastor has no other training than what he received in jail, where he got his certificate in Bible Studies from Dumbass Bible Institute or wherever. I knew the pastor at St Pats was one of the young bloods recently ordained, Scott Vandermeer, in his thirties, a journalism degree, able to move around without a walker, he was somewhat more promising than his predecessors, all aging or decrepit, failing, burnt out or uninterested, all cut from the Hubbard School of Ultraliberal Hacks. Careerists. Our hope never failing and our realism always on the watch, we even wrote to Vandermeer offering him help and support. It soon proved that he was going to be just another narcissist; he never responded to our letter. Here we go again!

Soon the signs started going up and were getting weirder and weirder, perhaps because they were cleverly done so as to appeal to the intellectual depths of darkness of the local community. One that appeared:

The sign above is stupid because St Pats does not have a soup kitchen or a food pantry. So not only is the sign a bit idiotic, to anyone not familiar with the local intelligence level, it’s misleading. [Editor’s note: Vanderveer is “out of the country” at the time of this writing and apparently will not be back for another 2-3 weeks, so we could not reach him for comment.  Nor did we receive a response from his office staff.] That really doesn’t matter because it does get worse. Some local in a feeble attempt to put some meaning in his or her life, and for a minute of local fame, placed the “?” on the sign making it even more ridiculous. No one in the parish, not even the absent pastor, seems to have noticed…or cared.

More recently, that is, several weeks ago we again drove by and saw that the sign had been changed to something quite new:

 Is a feeble-minded, scandal-plagued Church is going to make the nation strong again?

This time Mr VanDerveer is apparently making a statement that the Church has something to do with the characteristics of the nation, presumably the nation known as the United States, since we are not aware of any Scriptural or Doctrinal references that would support such a statement. It used to be that strong men made strong nations, then strong families but with the castration of the American male and the virilization of the American female, together with the decline and demise of the American family, it seems that a feeble-minded, scandal-plagued Church is going to make the nation strong again. If this notion was part of the preaching series offered by Vanderveer, we are really sorry we missed his performance. But by any standard, given the Separation Clause and the hesitance of government generally or any of its branches specifically to enter into any discussion of a collaboration between Church and state, this statement seems to indicate that Mr VanDerveer is either ignorant or has a boundaries problem. While the Church and churches, that is, the Roman Catholic and Christian tradition — by division and internecine conflict —  has been losing ground since the 16th century, it would seem that Mr VanDerveer and his keepers would be better advised to concentrate on good preaching and catechesis, fostering interdenominational dialogue and collaboration,  reaching out to local opinion leaders rather than making an untenable and unsubstantiated statement like “A strong church [=] a strong nation.” No matter how you analyze such a statement, logically, theologically, socially, or politically it fails. The Church would be well advised to steer clear of politics — and fallacious logic —; a mere parish priest has no business making such statements and should be reprimanded for having done so. It’s irresponsible, insupportable, fallacious, and is simply not official Church teaching. Politics should be kept out of the pulpit and away from the front of the church — or it should be left to the bishops who are the sole church officials authorized by Rome to make asses of themselves.. Mr VanDerveer should be spending more time preaching that strong family values and morality make for a strong nation; sharing Sunday family dinner together without smartphones might be a start. Getting rid of fidget spinners and Facebook, replacing them with a print book, perhaps St Augustine’s Confessions,  in the schools would be a great move, too.  But the Church has failed in that teaching, too, and in getting that message across to the community.

An half hour for God and 3 hours for the ball game seems like a fair deal for most Catholics.

Instead, the Church and its agents, VanDerveer’s colleagues, superiors, and minions, have prostituted the Church, mistaught and continue to pervert doctrine, dogma, and promote error, and have reduced preaching to a 5 minute commentary so that the so-called “faithful” can get there and out the door with 30-45 minutes at most. After all, a half hour for God and 3 hours for the ball game seems like a fair deal for most Catholics.

Get the ^%$# out of the way! I’ll be late for worship…and the game!

The latest stupidity to be posted in front of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church apparently has to do with the Biblical myth of Noah and the Deluge found in Genesis, or we may be wrong and VanDerveer’s referring more likely to the bizarre interpretation of the myth provided in the movie, Noah (2014) but here’s the official Biblical version:

“The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” (Gen 7:2-4)

Actually, someone should have whacked the one who thought these signs were appropriate! Never mind the mosquitoes. We don’t recall any specific reference to mosquitoes in Genesis (nor in any part of the Bible) nor any cameo appearance of mosquitoes in the film Noah. Perhaps Vanderveer can help us with that one. We do tend to have our facts straight on this blog so we’re reasonably certain that there were no mosquitoes involved. The only other possibility we can think of is that one of Vanderveer’s Scriptural Studies instructors at seminary came upon some previously unknown Biblical text that tells the story of Noah and the mosquitoes. Whatever the story behind it, Vanderveer appears to believe the story. Why else would he publicly post something like that in front of his church? It seems the “unclean animals” were  sent either to Roman Catholic seminary or to Ravena-Coeymans after leaving the Ark. We have no record of where the “two mosquitoes” went after having escaped being swatted.


A Pleasant Anecdote

While I photographing one of the signs, a St Patrick’s parishioner was approaching the church to attend a meeting, and stopped to chat when she observed me taking the photographs. She commented how interesting the signs were and how they got your attention. I responded very bluntly that they were not interesting; they were a disgrace and were demeaning to the sacred place they were disgracing. I did agree that they got your attention but for the wrong reasons. I admitted to her that I was taking the photo not because I found them attractive, funny or pithy but because they got my interest, and that was not good.

The parishioner was very interested in what we had to say and very gracious, too. We discussed a number problems with the Church, the parish, and local politics. All in all, it was a positive exchange that started on a negative footing.

Shows you that there are still some good, sensible people in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk community; all too few, though.


Contrary to what you have been told or led to believe, dear readers, churches are not where God lives [Thank God!], that is, churches are not God’s personal primary residence, they are sacred spaces where we can find safe, quiet space to reflect, meditate, be still, or engage in a conversation with the Divine, a practice what we call prayer, but have forgotten – or never knew how to do. Nowadays most conversations with God turn out to be like conversations with those twits exercising their thumbs on an electronic device; a meeting where God’s trying to reveal himself to the twit who’s functioning with half a hemisphere, wondering whose reflection it is in the smartphone screen.

Repurposing Our Churches

When I hear of closure of churches, merging of congregations, sale of church property, conversions of churches to art galleries, restaurants, even private residences, I feel a cold shudder. These churches have become like dinosaurs; they were once living, awesome organisms, and they thrived and nurtured similar life but at some time long ago they became sick, languished and died. Now all we have left of them are lumps of rock we gawk at in museums or use as paperweights in our studies. So, too, many of our former sacred spaces are now secular spaces where the inhabiting materialist-consumerists worship their new idols: mega-flat screens, surround sound, a nymph, and a bottle. Happy worshipping!

We’ve replaced God there too with some idol like money, sex, a car, or a pop star

So where has God gone once evicted? God’s where he’s always been: in the dark silent depths of our hearts, unless we’ve replaced God there too with some idol like money, sex, a car, a political figure or a pop star. Yes, Idolaters of Ubiquitous White Noise and Distractions, the Ultimate Truth still lies hidden in that wet, fertile, darkness deep within a human being (No, not a vagina!) but nowadays who among you Vessels of Clay with your stymied white-cane spirituality would dare explore the silence within, when there’s so much to do in the world? Why would anyone want to become acquainted with their true self when they can invent another, more pleasant, acceptable self and one that you can transform it at any time using a convenient app? Who will know? You will. But you don’t care because you’ve been diving down that slippery slope for so long you wouldn’t know your true self if you tripped over it!

In my meanderings I spend time in churches, at meetings and conferences, on Internet forums, at monasteries, interacting with others in a variety of settings. I note the anxiety and the vulnerability that cripples so many people; I note their white-cane spirituality, blindly pursuing some sort of agenda-seeking-to-become-a-religion, a tool for a virtual life; they have no real life. I listen to and become offended by the ignorance and narcissism of those claiming to be called to a vocation, as clergy, as lay religious, as lay ministers in churches, congregations, parishes; I frequently observe the infantile fascination of the unwashed when, in a strange ecstasy of voyeurism, they rub shoulders with monks, priests, nuns, or spiritual leaders, and they grin idiotically as if caught in an act of masturbation. “Hee, hee! Look at me!” Narcissism, too, is a form of idolatry. I have to wonder whether the gawkers or the gawkees actually realize the pitiable dynamic going on. It’s rather like the voyeurism of social media but worse. Worse because the so-called spiritual leaders are actually enjoying the worship, and the egos soar – and the wound deepens and festers, poisoning the entire mystical body.

Starving?
Tail’s great!

And like starving rats will go for anything that smacks of survival…

If churches and faith communities are hemorrhaging members, the religious vocations are dwindling into membership cachexia. And like starving rats will go for anything that smacks of survival. For several decades now, the materialist consumerism and the dumbing down of society has left the message of higher truths and spirituality to languish in the shadow of anti-human propaganda, corporate greed, political narcissism, social confusion, despair and anxiety. Fear of loss is the underlying message everywhere we look. That fear is nourished by the messages we receive of time running out for something, anything, everything; fear the terror threat, fear the coming rain or snow showers, fear the threat represented by the guy next door, fear the North Koreans, fear the Russians, fear the illegals. What we need to fear is the false teaching in the poor preaching, we need to fear the pulpit politics, we need to fear the bigoted perp patrols.

Stuck somewhere in a learning curve…

The only religion that’s growing these days is Islam and our response is to demonize it

We are stuck somewhere in a learning curve. But where? We need to learn to fear our own demise and ignorance thanks to the conflicting and contradicting messages we receive from the media, the poor performance of our education institutions, and the dishonesty and corruption of our political system. Add to that the failure of our Judeo-Christian religious institutions to teach correct doctrine and dogma, and to provide effective preaching in support of implementing doctrine and dogma into our day-to-day lives in furtherance of “happiness” and a “good end.” And it’s no wonder people are despairing and anxious. The only religion that’s growing these days is Islam and our response is to demonize it as a bunch of whacko terrorists. Doesn’t anyone see where this is leading? Why can’t religious institutions join together to combat the capitalist propaganda drowning us in a sea of lies and hate? But then, when I was a kid it was the Roman Catholics and Protestants killing each other. Only the bigotry and creeds have remained the same; only the faces have changed.

Cultural and political institutions our religious and faith institutions are appealing to the lowest common denominator

Failing religious institutions and religious organizations and institutions are desperately prostituting themselves in a vain attempt simply to survive. And like our cultural and political institutions our religious and faith institutions are appealing to the lowest common denominator in the attempt to get what they can and run with it. It’s not working, people, that’s why you see so many storefront and strip mall micro-churches flooding into the vacuum left by mainstream institutions. Problem is this: the storefront and strip mall micros are just as bad as the movie-theatre or stadium megachurches, because they create their own ideologies, agendas, idolatries and there are plenty of sheeple to participate because they don’t know anything better. Thanks Vatican II and interfaith dialogue, ecumenism. Lights, cameras, action! Worship!

I can speak from personal experience, scholarship, and professional activity with various faith traditions and communities, religious organizations and institutions, and educational institutions. As a writer, editor, researcher, and educator I vet my facts.

So where does an institution in decline turn in the desperate attempt to survive a couple of more years? St Patricks is prepping, even in the absence of its pastor for several weeks, for the celebration of the church’s centennial. 100 years is not a very long time in Church terms but it’s a start. The nagging question is how long does it still have before it’s converted into another empty building on Ravena-Coeymans’ growing list of vacancies. [Editor’s note: St Patricks have already sold off a number of real estate parcels, some of which were sold to RCS school board president, James Latter, the same James Latter who works for the Saudi Arabian-owned Sabic corporation, the same corporation who got recommendations for tax breaks from the RCS school district.] Maybe Mr VanDerveer’s off attending job interviews, since the parishioners in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany are usually the last to know when their church is closing.

When you can’t attract young men to the priesthood you have to attract old men to the diaconate

Like the consumer society they operate in, churches like St Patrick’s are compelled to sacrifice quality for quantity. For example, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany reports in a recent issue of Sheaf, the official gazette of St Bernard’s School of Ministry and Theology, the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese reports “200 deacons and growing.” When you can’t attract young men to the priesthood you have to attract old men to the diaconate. Numbers not quality count; that’s why the permanent diaconate was revived by the Roman Catholic Church in the 60s to stem the decline in seminary admissions; in many dioceses the diaconate has become a boy’s club, a church country club, an organization of narcisistic logrollers. “My dad the deacon.” “My son the deacon.” “My wife, Mrs Deacon!”

Deacon Chic Coming Soon to Your Parish!
You have your church band, liturgical dancing, now you can have liturgical strippers!
Don’t miss the Trinitarian Trio of Trollops!

The Episcopal church has been ordaining “women” for decades; many (mostly gender ambiguous specimens) in the RC church are advocating ordaining women deacons and the reasonable expected consequence of this slippery slope is women priests! When does this comedy of errors, this farce stop? [Editor’s note: For those of our readers with limited vocabularies, a “slippery slope” is a comedy of errors is a related series of amusing or farcical events involving a series of awkward missteps or other mistakes.]

Clergy or Special Ed Class or LGBT Rejects?

There is a big problem with erroneous teaching and that leads to gross stupidity and poor public image. Take for instance the Church’s stand on abortion and other issues. The corrupt and long discredited practice of prayer and what the faithful could expect from prayer as espoused by a greedy medieval Church led not only to Martin Luther’s confrontation and the ultimate schism but also to the Counter-Reformation, and later to many, many scandals. They still haven’t learned.

Erroneous teaching and that leads to gross stupidity and poor public image

OK. But can someone tell me how this works? How about you, Father?

Let’s face the facts: The Church may be facing annihilation over the longer term if it doesn’t (1) come up with some sort of recruitment scheme for the long-term future of the priesthood, and (2) come up with some sort of outside “support for its mission,” which translates into people who are able and willing to give in support of the Church in general and of their local faith community before it has to selling off more acreage. The old priests and nuns committed their lives and fortunes to the faith community; they’re gone now and so are their legacies. A liberal, liberation theology (= socialist)  tainted Jesuit pope is not going to solve the problem; in fact, he stands to worsen it. Jesuits don’t have a very good record in Rome; Jesuit popes have an even worse record..

And this is how it’s gonna be!

One of the real problems being faced by the Church and by the faithful is that they are learning impaired. Change is not measured in years in the Church but in centuries. While the men in the Vatican are swilling good wine and dining in gardens al fresco, the American Church is making its own rules. Everyone seems to be caught up in a dead man spiral, stuck somewhere in an ecclesiological learning curve. But no one seems to be certain where they’re stuck.

Still in the learning curve. But where?

So that’s where we stand locally, and regionally. Ravena is just an example, a stereotype, and not the main culprit; Ravena is a symptom, we have to look for the ecclesiological pathology elsewhere. Meanwhile, the stupid signs aren’t helping.

The Church at Work.
Did you find the problem yet?

 

Think Before You Vote. Or Pay the Price Later!

loser poster

Jim Youmans and Tom Dolan are Losers!

WOW! This just in: We’ve acquired a copy of the October 26, 2015, Coeymans town board meeting. We will be publishing extracts of that meeting so that you can be aware of the stupidity of Youmans and Dolan, and you can hear for yourself what idiotic scoundrels they are. Or, you can go to Coeymans town hall and ask to listen to the recording, and decide for yourself! You be the judge! You’ll also hear residents telling Youmans and Dolan off for being such jerks, and for misleading the community. Tom Dolan, especially, gets a good whoop’n from one resident. You gotta hear the tape!


We’re Here to Tell You What They Don’t Want You to Know!

Politics is all about character, or should be. But all we, as voters, get to see is the big smiles, hear the big promises, and get the nice-guy treatment. But what you see is not what you get. Let’s take a deeper look at what’s available next week in the voting booths. And you thought the Walking Dead was scary? Read on!

Give me your (brain) vote!

Give me [your brain, and then] your vote!

We’ve already covered the Coeymanazi bunch of recycled politicians running for election or re-election in the town of Coeymans. Anyone with the memory of a cockroach would steer far away from these accidents looking for a place to happen:

We’ve already reported in considerable detail on the terrible choices the Coeymans Dumbocraps under Tom Dolan have this November 3. If you missed the article, you can read it at   Go to the article link above for The Crandall, Dolan, Touchette Connection: Wanna Be Sick?

croneyismPhil Crandall: We’ve already pointed out his problems — we’ve already written about them — so we won’t go into that again here. Just go to the article link above for details.

Rick Touchette: A charter member of the Crandall “do-me-a-favor” club. He’s a loser, too. Ran last election time and lost. Why would you want to have him again? Check out the link above.

Jim Youmans: This guy is the proverbial “used car salesman” with a lousy personality. He’s mean, nasty, and most people in Coeymans town hall want nothing to do with him. He joined the losers’ club when he lost his bid for re-election to town supervisor a couple of years ago. And didn’t Youmans show his true colors when he stomped out of the October 26th town board meeting. Jim Youmans is now publishing CONFIDENTIAL town information on FACEBOOK (obviously Tom Dolan is leaking this CONFIDENTIAL town information DESPITE the town attorney’s (a Democrat!) caution not to publish it yet. Youmans received a copy of the confidential draft document from Tom Dolan, and now Youmans is wrongfully publishing the information on FaceBook, in order to sabotage the town and to take advantage of the Dolan leaks. Youmans lifted the copy of the CONFIDENTIAL document from Tom Dolan’s table at the October 26th town meeting. Isn’t that theft?

While Jim Youmans is a bully, he did a lot of his damage using his tool, Touchette. Was Touchette willing to be Youmans’ tool or was it just that Touchette was easy to use. Either way, it doesn’t speak too highly of Touchette, not that anyone or anything would.

And Why? hasn’t anyone yet asked about Jim Youmans arrest record. He’s a well known bully but hasn’t anyone but a very few, including his victims, questioned his fitness for public office with an arrest record for harassment? Our information and reliable sources indicate that he and perhaps his wife also, were arrested for harassment. Sort of goes along with the reputation as a bully, doesn’t it?

Tom Dolan: This dimwit has kept the lights in Coeymans town hall dimmed for years now. He has a long history of scandal and questionable behavior regarding votes and voting, and misusing his position with the Choices program in Ravena-Coeymans. He’s Dithering Dolan, the political failure who, when he’s not exchanging benefits for votes from ghetto residents, he’s renaming the town. This guy is useless and a member of the Crandall “do-me-a-favor” club, and one of the crooks who got Crandall canned from his job as Coeymans town justice and part-time Ravena village justice for violating the NYS Judicial Laws Check out the link above. And didn’t Tom Dolan leak a confidential draft from the Comptroller’s report on the audit done this year, clearly labeled “CONFIDENTIAL“? Can’t Dithering-Dolan read? And you can thank Dithering-Dolan for the fine choices he’s provided in terms of unelectables on the Dumbocrap ticket; Old Tom Dithering-Dolan is the Coeymans Dumbocrap chairman and picks the Dumbocrap candidates. Just buddies helping buddies out –it’s called political cronyism a.k.a. corruption!

If you don’t think Touchette and Youmans are losers, ask anyone in Coeymans town hall who were unlucky enough to have had to work with them when they were in office before! Ask people like former Coeymans town supervisor Henry Traver, who was so abused by Youmans and Touchette, that he had to ask the Coeymans police to be present to prevent mahem at town executive sessions. Traver was terrified of Youmans, and Touchette, sneak that he is, backed Youmans’ lousy and cowardly behaviour. Youmans was a bully and nothing has changed. Just what we need back in Coeymans town hall and the county legislature, more thugs.

head_in_sand

We don’t want to mention the dirty politics that went on when the Coeymans democraps were collecting signatures or the scandal about the absentee ballots. How can a Dumbocrap sign a Conservative petition and have the signature witnessed? Ask his dishonor, Phil Crandall and his son-in-law, Anthony “Tony” Walsh.  We won’t mention the fact that Crandall’s son-in-law Anthony “Tony” Walsh, Jenna Crandall’s husband, falsely witnessed the illegal signatures on Crandall’s petitions. Basically the same ethical violations for which Crandall was brought up on charges. How can Crandall’s son-in-law witness his father-in-law’s petition signatures — without being present when the petition was signed? Walsh signed as a witness but, according to reliable witnesses, allegedly wasn’t with the candidate, his father-in-law, when going door-to-door; you have to be either a notary or member of the party, but Walsh, a registered Conservative, just let Crandall go off and do what he wanted. Van Buren Street in Ravena, absentee-ballot capitol of the world, seems to be home base for these crooks.

Mike Albano: Me Retard!

The Phil Youmans mutant. If you see this, go Republican!

Now here’s another juicy bit of news: Mike Albano was caught red-handed by Joe Vitello, candidate for Albany County Executive, tearing down Vitello’s campaign signs;  Mike Albano is Phil Crandall’s father-in-law! Albano was caught red-handed by Vitello himself! We’ll be interested to see if any charges are pressed. Go figure.

Phil Youmans, a Phil Crandall–Jim Youmans mutant, goes around putting his signs right in front of Stephen Flach’s signs so that Flach’s are not visible. Seems that Dan McCoy Supporters are doing the same thing to Joe Vitello’s signs, so that they can’t be seen. Doesn’t the RCS school district have places for retards like Youmans and Albano? Yeah, it’s called special ed kindergarten. Or Albany County Jail. You choose.

And we don’t want to mention insider Nita Chmielewski, former failed town supervisor,she’s hot for Crandall. Wonder if she’s got her beady crossed eyes on a job as “confidential” secretary? Well, if she does you know one thing for certain: With Crandall’s record of unethical conduct and Chmielewski’s character, nothing will be safe, much less confidential! Or maybe Nutty Nita has her eye on the budget office. Be careful here! Remember Nita Chmielewski resigned as town supervisor over the flack she got for publishing a 10% budget increase. But do we have to mention that that 10% was an error resulting from Nitas problem doing simple math? Maybe it’s just best to keep Nutty Nita and her buddy disgraced ex-judge Phil Crandall as far away from Coeymans  town hall as possible. What do you think?

Peter Masti: Masti’s been taking up space on the Coeymans town council and that’s all he’s been doing. No, wait a minute, he likes to write letters to the editor of the Troy Record. Troy Record! Why doesn’t he put his opinions in the local rag, the Ravena News Herald? Well, Coeymans voters, if you haven’t figured it out yet, this California-transplant unbeliever-turned-bible-thumper from Hippyville-California doesn’t have much use for you, unless it’s as a stepping stone. Maybe he’s trying to keep his crazy ideas away from the local voters because they’re too “California-crazy” and wants to have his say but far and away.

Learn more about these characters and why you need to stay clear of them in the voting booth by visiting our article at The Crandall, Dolan, Touchette Connection: Wanna Be Sick?

Matt-the-Mutt Miller Has His Beady Eyes on a County Legislature Seat

Don’t Let that Happen!!!

Break the chain of corruption!

This blog has alerted the RCS school district, RCS taxpayers and RCS parents a number of times about Matthew J. Miller’s a.k.a. “Matt-the-Mutt’s” questionable morals and conduct. Matt Miller is a CROOK! We alerted RCS taxpayers about Miller’s deal with certain now extinct members of a former Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk board of education (under the Deluca mob) to be paid tens of thousands of tax dollars as “energy manager” for the school district. In other words, he told people to turn off the lights. This wouldn’t have been so bad if he weren’t DOUBLE-DIPPING! You see, he was also being paid FULL-TIME to teach, which he wasn’t doing either (see below). We guess that makes him a TRIPLE-DIPPING CROOK.

Matt-The-Mutt Miler 's a Loser!

Matt-the-Mutt Miller is a Loser!

If that’s not bad enough Matt-the-Mutt Miller allegedly told his RCS students that he’s an ATHEIST. Being an atheist is not big deal but telling impressionable and sensitive young people about your problem is a big deal. Parents: Do you want your teachers telling your kids about their personal beliefs? You’re trying to teach your kids to have values, morals, maybe even be good Christians, Jews, or Muslims, and their teacher is telling them he’s an atheist. So, Mr Miller, what do you do when it comes to the pledge of allegiance? Remember “One nation under God”? Do you refuse to pledge? Or do you make believe and pledge? Or the US dollar, “In God we trust.” Do you get paid double-dipper dollars or in rubles? You’re worse than a simple hypocrite, you’re a crooked hypocrite.

Iff you check out Miller’s LinkedIn page at Matt Miller you’ll have to wonder if his campaign head shot isn’t 25 years old at least. Compare Miller’s LinkedIn photo with the photo from 2014 and you’ll have to ask when he got his facelift? But Matt-the-Mutt’s face really isn’t the issue here. The issue is whether he’s fit for elected office and that is a no-brainer: He’s not. He arrogantly lists on his LInkedIn page that he’s been 14 years Local Union president, 3 years Union Treasurer/PAC chair (PAC is the RCS “political action committee”), 6 years District Energy Manager he means the RCS school district, during which time he was double- or even triple dipping for at an average rate of $8,000 a year, stealing tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars!). He seems to be real proud of his teachers union connection; he says more about that than he does about the RCS central school district. But that makes sense; he’s probably used the district as much as he can and now wants to move on. Like now we thinks he’s going to get a seat on the county legislature for the 39th district. Only if real fools vote, and only then.

Matt-the-Mutt<br>(2014)

Matt-the-Mutt (2014)

Matt Miller(2015)

Matt Miller (2015)

Matt-the-mutt wrongfully and improperly, Yes! cowardly, encouraged students to be uncivil and disrespectful when sending comments to a local blog, this blog, when he didn’t have the balls to comment himself. That’s what your tax dollars are paying for with Miller: an education in how to be  uncivil, disrespectful and deviant. Just like Matt Miller.

For years Matt Miller has been the local NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) sockpuppet in the RCS school district. He’s the teachers union representative in the district. But here’s where he gets he dubious distinction of being a triple-dipper at taxpayer expense: He is paid a full-time teacher salary but has a reduced teaching load so he can do his union work! So, do you think his union work is in your interests or the kids’ interest? Guess again! He works for the union and you’re paying for it! Triple-dipping crook Miller.

So, now Matt-the-Mutt Miller wants you, the town of Bethlehem, to elect him to be an Albany County Legislator. That’s just what the already crooked, corrupt Albany political machine needs like a hole in the head: another corrupt crook! So, go ahead, put the atheist, double-triple-dipper, union lackey Matt Miller in a legislator’s chair in Albany. You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to guess whose interests he’ll be serving there: the union’s and his own!


Church of St Patrick RavenaPope Paul VI: “The smoke of Satan has entered the church through a small crack.” In Ravena’s St Pat’s RC, that’s a mighty big crack

And then we have Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Ravena, the favorite watering hole for the Ravena-Coeymans Incest Club and the Coemanazi Coalition. St Pat’s is where “Dirty Hands Jerry” Deluca and Bottle-blond fitness club failure Cathy Deluca hang out. It’s where Phil Crandall, Rich Touchette and other “good Catholics” go to collect political capital and play the hypocrite in saint’s robes. It’s where Crandal, Touchette, Dolan and their kind go to hand out holiday turkeys as if they were their own, and getting credit for the generous gifts. Pope Paul VI made the famous statement that “The smoke of Satan has entered the church through a small crack.” In Ravena’s St Pat’s, that’s a mighty big crack that lets in the likes of the Crandalls, Touchettes and Delucas. And you wonder why churches are avoided by the honest and good people of the community?


New Baltimore

Does anyone know any of these people running for office in New Baltimore? Does anyone know anything about these people who

Who are they?

Who are they?

are asking for your votes? We’ve lived here practically our entire lives and those names might as well be from Kansas! Well, pretty close: Arthur Fullerton is from Arkansas. Really!!!
Let’s start with the candidates for New Baltimore supervisor. We have the incumbent, Nick Delisanti. Delisanti is a pussy-cat in a business suit but is doing a sincere,  honest and decent job in town hall. Actually, the worst thing he has done since voted into the supervisor’s office is make the stupid statement, “Republicans appoint republicans.” We think he’s paid enough for that stupid remark, and if he’s smart he’ll be grateful for the non-Republicans who put him where he is.


Delisanti team finalizes a balanced budget for New Baltimore!

This just in: At the October 26, 2015, town council meeting Mr Delisanti and his team passed the preliminary New Baltimore town budget with no net increase and no more deficit; it’s balanced! (There is no longer an operating deficit as there was in 2012, 2013, 2014!). Only 1% pay increase to hourly-wage town employees. A slight increase in health benefits for employees and retirees, which was due to the insurer, not to any action by the board. Again, Delisanti and his team have kept the town budget under control. The final budget is slated for discussion and for final approval at the November 9, 2015, town board meeting.  Thank you!


But Delisanti and his team have cleaned up New Baltimore Town Hall and have put policies in place to ensure transparency and accountability. Some people don’t like that. They call themselves New Baltimore Dumbocraps and they take their orders from witch-on-a-stick Diane Louis.

What Delisanti has done together with his team is clean up the crooked and incompetent mess left by two dumbocraps, Louis and O’Rorke, and their dumbocrap friends. Remember when the most recent dumbocrap, Susan O’Rorke, left town hall, all the computers were wiped clean of data, records either disappeared or were locked up tight and no one seemed to have a key. (We still wonder why those responsible for that didn’t end up in jail.) That’s an example New Baltimore dumbocrap transparency and accountability with town dumbocrap chairman Diane Louis’ clique. Those of us who watch the New Baltimore dumbocraps know what sneaks and crooks they are. New Baltimore Dumbocraps don’t do their business in New Baltimore town hall, they do it at (or under) the bar at the Boat House (the New Baltimore Dumbocrap HQ and town hall).

Fullerton's a Loser!

Arthur Fullerton is a Loser!

This is a good place to deal with another phoney running for public office: New Baltimore’s answer to Coeyman’s Jim Youmans: Arthur Fullerton. Some character with a mega-ego, Arthur Fullerton, another unknown, has been put up for New Baltimore town supervisor by the New Baltimore Dumbocraps, and is another Louis sockpuppet. Fullerton is from Arkansas (Bill Clinton’s state) and is a recent implant, a carpetbagger as they were called in years past, in New Baltimore. Fullertons’s big on stealing credit from others and using it to make himself look real pretty. Just look at his gimme-your-vote card we all got in the mail. Nothing about Fullerton just about his ancestors. Big deal!

Fullerton’s website is just as big a pile of bullshit as Fullerton is; full of rhetoric and lies and little real information for voters. Did you expect anything else from a Diane Louis lackey?

We said earlier that Fullerton doesn’t really represent anything substantial and his website says it all: He has a tab, a section on “Issues.” (click here to read Fullerton’s “issues“). The self-proclaimed communicator and consultant Arthur Fullerton apparently has no understanding of what issues are but he has enough issues of his own. His issues page is about as empty as Fullerton’s credibility chest! And if we rely on Fullerton’s press releases (go to “Press Releases“) to get some idea about Fullerton and his plans for New Baltimore, all we get is Fullterton’s concerns for cell phone reception and the New Baltimore town newsletter. Are those the biggest issues facing this town, Mr Fullerrton? Well maybe in Fullerton’s empty dumbocrap head. Some of us have bigger fish to fry (right now it’s keeping corruption and idiots out of New Baltimore town hall, starting with Arthur Fullerton!).

The problem with Arthur Fullerton is that he can’t get his facts straight or is an outright liar. Probably both. One example is the propaganda he’s been putting out about the New Baltimore town newsletter. Fart-face Fullerton claims on the website “Bring Back the New Baltimore Town Newsletter” but incorrectly and inaccurately that, “New Baltimore had a great informative town newsletter for many years. The current administration choose to kill it.” WRONG! That’s an example of Fullerton’s version of incorrect facts. It was actually the O’Rorke administration that eliminated the New Baltimore town newsletter, not the Dellisanti administration. It was Fullerton’s own party-partners, Diane Louis and Susan O’Rorke and their cronies who eliminated the New Baltimore town newsletter. So let’s get that little bit of misinformation corrected like yesterday!

Fullerton is not strong on issues. Actually, Fullerton hasn’t really said much about issues in the town of New Baltimore, has he? Well, except for the bid lie about the newsletter and that’s got to be one of the biggies we all are losing sleep over. Isn’t it? What’s Fullerton’s stand on getting Mr Denis Jordan to comply with the law and with town policies about spending and approvals for contracts? How about that one? But it’s unlikely Mr Fullerton will be much interested in stuff like that since Mr Denis Jordan is a party-pal.

Mr Fullerton is really a big bag of wind blowing warmly from Diane Louis’sagging butt. Fullerton is a paid-in-full, dyed in the wool member of the misinformation party, the give-it-all away party, the me-mine-it’s mine party, the New Baltimore Dumbocraps. So, if you like being misused, left out, and if you want to give away what little you have left to the New Baltimore incest club, Fullerton’s your man. Can you live with that?

Denis Jordan

Driving through New Baltimore you can almost guess where you’ll see a “Denis Jordan for Highway Superintendent” campaign sign.

corrupt official

And you can pretty much assume that where you see a Denis Jordan campaign sign that the property owner is on the Denis Jordan gift list; that’s the gift list that Denis Jordan has for people he likes to do special favors for at taxpayer expense. Most of us are on the Denis Jordan blacklist; the list of residents that Denis Jordan refuses services to despite the fact we pay taxes.

If you have a Denis Jordan sign on your lawn, you’re probably getting favors from him for your vote!

Favors? Bribes?Denis Jordan has been a Dumbocrap fixture for years and has been misusing and wasting New Baltimore money and resources since he’s been superintendent. He refuses to obey the law when he makes purchases for the highway department. He makes deals with his friends. It’s easy to be a dumbocrap fixture if you’re stone ignorant and corrupt.

Jordan flatly refuses to comply with town of New Baltimore purchasing and contracts policies, which were put into place to provide voters and residents as well as auditors with transparency and accountability. These policies were put into place by the Dellisanti team when, to their horror, they found that previous administrations didn’t have any, ignored them if they had them, or just looked the other way when Jordan played his unlawful games with taxpayer money. After all, how was Louis and O’Rorke going to get their driveways plowed? And wasn’t it Jordan who refused to plow out the fire department’s driveways and parking lots? What does that tell you about Jordan?

Not enough for you to consider Alan VanWormer to replace Jordan? Read on…

Here are some snippets you’re probably unaware of about Mr Jordan:

  • Denis Jordan has about 17 years with the New Baltimore highway department (Alan VanWormer has 25+).
  • Jordan demoted Alan VanWormer from his position as deputy superintendent as soon as Jordan found out VanWormer wanted to run against him. We guess that Jordan is a big fan of fair play. NOT!
  • George Acker, Independence Party county chairman, gave Alan VanWormer a promise of support and backing from the Independence Party; Denis Jordan’s signatures were thrown out. Denis Jordan failed miserably in the primaries.
  • Denis Jordan has no respect for highway department employees (ask them!). For example, one employee had a heart attack, was transported to the hospital by ambulance, in hospital and Jordan throws a fit because the employee can’t come in. Another employee is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, on chemotherapy, has side effects and can’t come back to work as planned. Jordan asks him if he wants to keep his job. Is that the kind of guy you’d like to work for?
  • Jordan orders highway department employees not to speak to a certain community leader if they see him. Jordan obviously never heard of the First Amendment or of common courtesy. We’re not surprised, he’s a dumbocrap.
  • The famous Jordan-Halstead truck deal: A couple of years ago (during the Louis administration), Halstead bought some trucks from Denis Jordan. Halstead then sold the trucks back to the town. Smell any corruption here?
  • According to the Office of the New York State Comptroller, in an audit the Comptroller found that Jordan’s department was in violation of the New York State General Municipal Law regarding highway spending, contracts and quotes required for purchases. According to our information, Jordan is pulling some illegal tricks and is still not complying with state laws.
  • When summoned by the New Baltimore town council to answer questions on his spending and purchasing practices, Denis Jordan fails to appear but sends his attorney, Maeve Tooher, recently resigned (August 24, 2015) from the NB planning board, to respond for him. Tooher, in an outrageous display of ignorance and defensiveness, defends Jordan’s violations!
  • Jordan submits to the New Baltimore town council a bogus corrective action plan.
  • Jordan, together with former Dumbocrap Louis-lackey Susan O’Rorke decide that they are not going to plow the Medway Grapeville fire department property. Marylyn Woodhall, a close friend of Denis Jordan, together with Jeane Horne are on the Fire Board. The fire departments have had to get outside companies to plow. Fire district funds down the chute!
  • Denis Jordan, while refusing to plow fire department property, still plows New Baltimore Conservancy dumbocraps’ parking lot for $1. (Still Wondering why the New Baltimore Conservancy is supporting Arthur Fullerton and Denis Jordan? The Conservancy is on the Jordan gift-list!)
  • When we talk about Denis Jordan’s gift-list friends you might want to ask some residents on Washington Avenue why their buildings are collapsing because of poor roadway and drainage maintenance! Or ask a couple of New Baltimore residents why they still don’t have the collapsed culverts repaired (Ask Bernie Jones or Patty Hildebrandt, for example, what the response has been from Mr Jordan and his department).
  • Since the 2013 Comptroller’s audit, the O’Rorke administration provided Mr Jordan with a computer so that he could comply with the New York state purchasing and contracts laws, look up bids, etc. (See the O’Rorke administration’s bogus Corrective Action Plan in response to the Comptroller’s audit. The Comptroller’s 2010 audit found the same issues as the 2013 audit. Nothing changed!). But Mr Jordan is still 100% computer illiterate. Why is that?
  • We have foiled public access information from Denis Jordan’s highway department and have found that Jordan does not keep complete records! No records for drain or drainage work on Madison Avenue East or New Street in the National Historic District. None at all!
  • Mr Jordan has a very special relationship with Peckham Materials (road paving materials etc.), but they’re not even in Greene County! But why would Jordan pay more for materials from Peckham than he would have to pay locally? Why does Jordan refuse to get bids and quotes for the materials? Answer: Because Jordan is incompetent, corrupt, and doesn’t know the first thing about contracts!
  • Finally, even though the New Baltimore town council under Nick Delisanti has purchasing policies in place to ensure compliance with the law and to provide responsible management of taxpayer dollars and to provide taxpayers with transparency and accountability, Jordan is fighting them tooth and claw. He refuses to comply with the law and with policy. He’s even breaking down purchases into multiple orders and invoices to avoid having to get approval for the amount of the whole purchase. What’s the problem Mr Jordan? Got something to hide?
Denis Jordan's a Loser!

Denis Jordan is a Major Loser!

That’s why Denis Jordan needs to go on November 3. Jordan needs to be replaced by Alan VanWormer, who has more experience, has been with the New Baltimore Highway Department longer, knows the business, and will provide the  transparency and accountability we all fairly expect from an elected official but can’t seem to get from Denis Jordan.

We may never be able to uncover all of Denis Jordan’s corruption — there’s just too much and it’s been going on for far too long —  but at least with someone new in the job, we can keep an eye on what the new guy does in the highway department right from the start..


VanSlyke vs Linger for Greene County Legislature:

Mr Jim VanSlyke is running for re-election to the Greene county legislature. Mr Pat Linger is opposing him. We think a statement made by Mr vanSlyke at a recent New Baltimore town board meeting sums up Mr vanSlyke: “As a county legislator we get some money that we can give away. I have to give mine to Catskill, Cairo and Windham, because there aren’t enough organizations in New Baltimore who ask for it.” (paraphrased by informant). We expect Mr vanSlyke to have his finger on the pulses of the communities in his territory and that he should know who they are and if they need support; vanSlyke should announce the availability of the funds and organizations could then apply for them. What’s wrong with you, Mr vanSlyke? What in hell are you doing, anyway?


You can stop corruption! The Editor

You can stop corruption! The Editor

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2015 in AFL-CIO, Alan van Wormer, Albany, Albany County Executive, Albany County Executive, Albany County Legislature, Albany County Sheriff Department, Anthony Walsh, Arlene McKeon, Arthur Fullerton, Arthur Fullerton, Barbara Finke, Bill Bailey, Bitter Bob (Ross), Bob Ross, BOCES, Bryan Rowzee, Capital District, Carver Companies, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Carver Laraway, Catherine Deluca, Catherine M. Deluca, Catholic, Catholic Church, Cathy Deluca, Chris Norris, Christopher Norris, Church of St Patrick Ravena, Civil Right Violation, Coeymans, Coeymans Elections, Coeymans Town Attorney, Coeymans Town Board, Coeymans Town Board Meeting, Conflict of Interest, Corruption, Craig D. Apple Sr., Dan McCoy, Daniel McCoy, Daniel P. McCoy, David Lewis, David Louis, David Soares, Democrap, Denis Jordan, Diane Jordan, Diane Lewis, Diane Louis, Dick Touchette, Dumbocrap, Edward B. Scharfenberger, Eleanor Luckacovic, Eleanor Oldham, Elections and Voting, Fr James Kane, George Acker, George Amedore, George Dardiani, George Langdon, Gerald Deluca, Greene County, Greene County Elections, Harold Warner, Henry Traver, Hudson Valley, Hypocrisy, Independence Party, Jean Horne, Jeff Ruso, Jenna Crandall, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Joan Ross, John B. Johnson, John Luckacovic, Johnson Newspaper Group, Kathy Rundberg, Keith Mahler, Ken Burns, Kenneth Burns, Kevin Reilly, Larry Conrad, Laverne Conrad, Lisa Benway, Marjorie Loux, Mark Vinciguerra, Matt "the Mutt", Matt Miller, Matthew J. Miller, Mike Albano, Misconduct, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New Baltimore, New Baltimore Conservancy, New Baltimore Democratic Committee, New Baltimore Democrats, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Highway Department, New Baltimore Republican Club, New Baltimore Town Budget, New Baltimore town council, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, New York State United Teachers, Nick Dellisanti, Nita Chmielewski, NYS Senate, NYSUT, Paul Courcelle, Peckham Materials, Pete Lopez, Peter Masti, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Port of Coeymans, Ravena, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, RCS Central School District, Richard Touchette, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Selkirk, Sharon Bradbury, Smalbany, Stephen Flach, Susan K. O'Rorke, Teachers Association, Teachers Union, Thomas E. Dolan, Tom Dolan, Tony Walsh, Town Board Meeting, Town of Bethlehem, Town Supervisor, Transparency, Uncategorized, William Bailey, William Bailey, William Misuraca, William Misuraca