Category Archives: Other stuff

Vegas Bound

International Peace Education Center - Las Vegas, NV
International Peace Education Center – Las Vegas, NV

Since I’m heading to Las Vegas for the grand opening celebration of the International Peace Education Center and I’ll also be receiving some spiritual education at a retreat, I won’t have much time to write. So I’d simply like to post a letter I recently wrote to the Appeal-Democrat newspaper in Marysville, California. Thankfully the Appeal-Democrat always prints my letters, no matter how controversial, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Letter to the Editor. Appeal-Democrat, May 18, 2015:

Well over twenty years ago, while living in St. Louis, I tuned in to a Christian radio station and I still remember the amazing testimony I heard that day, of faith, perseverance and ultimate triumph from Vietnam Veteran David Roever. In fact, I was so inspired I would often share his story with others. Years later, after moving back to the Yuba/Sutter area, I read in The Appeal-Democrat that Roever would be speaking at the Calvary Christian Center in Yuba City, and I convinced both of my then teen-aged daughters to join me to hear him speak.

Dave Roever DSC_0325, 3e by heraldpost, on Flickr
David Roever (1.)

Although I had already heard most of his stories, I still found them humorous and deeply inspirational, as did my daughters. However as Roever’s presentation was coming to a close, he started spewing out anti-Muslim rhetoric and proclaimed, “Our God is better than their God!” Not wanting to hear more of his vitriolic speech, my daughters and I walked out of the sanctuary.

Fortunately, as I visit and write about places of worship throughout the Yuba/Sutter area, I rarely find such backward-thinking attitudes in our diverse community. Hopefully, we are, as Father George Foxworth stated in a recent sermon at Grace Episcopal Church in Wheatland, “…looking to find what we have in common instead of focusing upon things that divide.”

Thank you for visiting my blog and please continue to do so. I’ll have a lot of material to write about once I get back from Vegas. Heck, I even plan to visit a Temple of Goddess Spirituality at Indian Springs, Nevada on my way there. (A certain extreme faction of the Unification movement has been calling my wife and others “post-modern secular goddess-worshiping feminists on a power trip to hell”, so I thought I should do some research. ) Wish me luck.

Temple by Freaktography, on Flickr
Temple of Goddess Spirituality. (2.)


(1.) David Roever
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  heraldpost 

(2.) Temple of Goddess Spirituality
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Freaktography 

Dying of the Light


“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.”

I’m not sure how I came across that poem by Dylan Thomas to his dying father, but there it was, on my computer screen.

“Rage, rage, against the dying of the light,” was Dylan’s advice to his father. As my own father edges closer to his final time on earth I contemplate the best advice to give him. I doubt he’d listen, but instead of telling him to rage against the dying of the light, I’m wondering if he should embrace it.

I never expected my dad to live to be ninety years old. As a young man he got the tropical disease filariasis while trying to rid the Philippine Islands of the invading Japanese, along with his fellow Marines. Most of his life he smoked, drank and was fond of junk food. He loved Hostess Sno Balls, Danish pastries, sugary cinnamon rolls, fudge and all kinds of candy. In his late 60s he weighed nearly three hundred pounds; but that was before he was diagnosed with colon cancer and also congestive heart failure. He weighs about one-third of that now, but clearly, this cat has more than nine lives.

For over twenty years Dad lived in a single-wide mobile home that was next to his fruit stand in Wheatland, California. I lived nearby and would often check on him. Many times, I would anxiously wait for my dad’s response after I had knocked on his custom-made, not-so-great-at-sliding, Oriented Strand Board (chip-board) door, which replaced the really-not-so-great-at-sliding glass door that crashed into the living-room one day after years of abuse. That OSB door did not look too out of place however, because it matched the OSB “window” at the front of the trailer.

Close-up of Oriented Strand Board. Great for cheap doors and windows.
Close-up of Oriented Strand Board. Great for cheap doors and windows.

If Dad wouldn’t answer the door I would then grab a small tree branch and walk over to his bedroom window, which was, believe it or not, a real glass window, and start tapping on it. Luckily, he would then wake up and I knew he was still alive.

My wife and I purchased a house in Wheatland which had a small “granny-flat” in the back which we hoped my dad would move into. However, although his trailer was definitely falling apart, he fought the idea for years, but finally moved into the granny-flat on the day a couple of scum-of-the-earth so-called men, staged a trailer-invasion-robbery against my then eighty-year-old father. They pushed him down, held a gun to his head and shouted, “Where’s all the money?!” somehow thinking that peddling tomatoes and cucumbers would yield more than around a hundred dollars for a day’s work.

Granny Flat

Sadly, years later, my dad is still super paranoid after that assault, and is often worried that someone will attack him again.

“That robbery took the wind out of my sails. I lost hope in humanity when that happened,” he often says.

Recently I began to feel that the wind of life in my father’s sails has definitely started to fade, especially when he calls us in the middle of the night and talks about people in his bedroom that aren’t there. Or when he tells us that his old friend Dan Pingle stopped by and sold him some tomato plants and that Victor from the trailer park had just visited and that Victor didn’t want to buy any patriotic beans from the cart-pulling bean seller that somehow made it into my dad’s room.

Worried, I often look in on him while he’s lying on his adjustable bed, see his blanket moving with signs of life, and feel relieved that he’s still with us.

A few days ago on April 19, our family celebrated True Parents’ Day, one of the Unification Church’s major holy days. My wife found a suitable quote about parents from the Quran (in World Scripture, a Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts) and wrote it on the chalkboard in our dining room:

The Lord has decreed . . . that you be kind to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, “My Lord! Bestow upon them Thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” Qur’an 17:23.


“I hope our boys read that,” I commented.

“It’s good advice for us too,” my wife clarified.                       

She’s right, you know. I told myself as I thought about how difficult it had been dealing with my dad that week. Somehow, I’ve got to be more patient with him.

“Call 911,” my brother-in-law, who works as a court-appointed conservator of the elderly, told my sister when she asked him about our dad.

He had taken a turn for the worse and was falling out of his bed, but wouldn’t let my sister and me help him. He’d been having hallucinations, or perhaps he was seeing spirits waiting to take him home with them. My sister phoned 911 and soon around half the population of Wheatland (or so it seemed) showed up to help my dad into the awaiting ambulance.


My dad’s in the hospital now. He’s getting better and may even be coming back home or be taken to a nursing home for some skilled care. My sister was asked by the hospital to set up an Advance Directive to help decide what they should do if our father is incapacitated and can’t make his own decisions regarding end-of-life issues.

“How much effort should the doctors make to keep you alive, even if you’ll remain unconscious?” My sister asked Dad.

“I want them to do everything they can to keep me alive,” he responded.

It looks like he’ll be “raging against the dying of the light” after all. Who am I to suggest otherwise?



“I have a dream”

Inside Mt. Olivet Baptist Church

I was afraid this was going to happen.” I told myself as I began to choke up and my eyes began to water as I looked out into the singing multi-racial crowd packed into Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Olivehurst, California to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 18th, 2015.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.”

The voices of Mormons, Baptists, Episcopalians and Unificationists echoed throughout the small church as the words from  Battle Hymn of the Republic rang out.

Mt. OL1

It was in 2001 when my wife, Maree, first entered Mt. Olivet Baptist Church to play the piano for their church service. Although she had played for many different churches, this was the first time she had ever played in an African-American church and she was nervous, but the warm-hearted reception from the congregation, charismatic preaching and powerful music soon calmed her fears.

Maree, who has played in an assortment of churches throughout the years, realized that many churches sing the same songs, and believed that music could help break down cultural and religious differences. In 2013, she mentioned her dream of a choral festival in honor of Martin Luther King to Mary Capps, wife of Bishop Arlie Capps of the Wheatland Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to Amanda Johnson, Senior Warden of Grace Episcopal Church in Wheatland; and both were very supportive. Ultimately, in January of 2014, the First Annual Community Choral Festival was hosted at the LDS chapel in Wheatland with Rev. Carl Dorn of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church as the keynote speaker.

W Mormon 2 - Copy
Wheatland LDS Church

Choirs from Rev. Dorn’s church, the local LDS ward and Grace Episcopal Church performed. One especially moving moment during that event was when the Grace Singers started singing the historic Mormon anthem, Come, Come Ye Saints, and the entire congregation joined in, much to the surprise of Bishop Capps. That successful inaugural event paved the way for this year’s celebration at Mt. Olivet Baptist.

Deacon Bill Blackwell of Mt. Olivet asked if I could be the emcee this year. I said yes, but I was worried that I would get too emotional. Sometimes when I think of the past I find it hard to control myself. I still remember when I was attending Marysville High School in the seventies and riot police were at my school because of racial tensions. It is just so sad when God’s children can’t love each other.

I took a deep breath and then joined in the singing. It was such a happy occasion and I’m sure Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been glad to see such a diverse group worshiping together and singing praises to God.

LDS member Arlie Capps gives the message.

Good food, fellowship, hospitality, praise dancing, singing, poetry and a great message of God’s love for his children from LDS guest speaker Arlie Capps made for a truly awesome event. I even heard the emcee did just fine. Whereas the first year, three churches were represented; this year there were five. Next year, I believe we’ll need an even bigger venue as we work towards Dr. King’s dream that all “God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!’”

Flyer for this year's event
Flier for this year’s event

It’s amazing how music and fellowship can help break down barriers and misunderstandings. Maybe TED could even put together a choir made up of the people I write about in my Tiff with TED blog posts and join us next year. If they do, I just might have to forgive them for their intolerance of the past.

The Appeal-Democrat published an article about the event on their front page. To read that article and see more photos visit:

Amazing grace

Long and lost. (4) by FrannyFotographyâ„¢, on Flickr
A diary

“……kill myself…..”  I’m not sure what I would have done with that book if I hadn’t noticed those words. I probably would have thrown it in the garbage.

It had fallen between the counter and refrigerator; it was someone’s diary. When I moved the refrigerator in the recently-vacated house to work on it (part of my job at Beale Air Force Base military housing), I picked it up. The diary fell open to where a page was wrinkled, perhaps by the dampness of the unknown writer’s tears. Much of the content was smudged, but the words, “kill myself”, clearly stood out. My heart sank as I struggled to read the tear-stained page. The author of the diary wanted to kill herself because her husband was in their bedroom looking at pornography and pleasuring himself. She believed that her husband loved the images on his computer more than he loved her. How sad, I thought. I closed the book, put it in my service truck and later arranged for it to be given to a chaplain.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Kevin B. Skinner, Ph.D., author of Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery, wrote in the December 12, 2011 issue of Psychology Today:

“My heart hurts for individuals caught in the web of pornography. When you see grown men crying in your office because they can’t quit and when they tell you that porn is costing them everything, you quickly realize that pornography is not just a leisurely activity. Then, when you meet a woman who feels rejected, not good enough, and unloved by her partner because of porn, you want to change something about the way things are being done.”

Treat porn

On September 19th, 2014,  my wife and I attended a presentation given by former pornography producer, Donny Pauling, at Saint Isidore’s Catholic Church in Yuba City, California. Pauling, who travels the world, sharing his testimony about how he was transformed from porno-promoter to porno-opponent, tells a heartfelt story of experiencing God and finding the strength to abandon the allure of riches for a higher calling.

Pauling began his talk with some disturbing statistics which showed how pornography is adversely affecting marriages, intimacy, and our young people. To hear that 56% of the divorces in America are primarily related to pornography addictions was especially alarming. (More statistics concerning the destructive effects of pornography can be found on Pauling’s website:

Pauling credits XXXChurch, a ministry dedicated to liberating men and women from the sex trade and porn addiction, for helping him to walk away from the industry.

Brothel Booth! by KalebColeman, on Flickr
XXXChurch booth

Screams of agony until they get the scene right, young women curled up in  fetal positions sucking their thumbs after their performances, genital warts, herpes, surgeries required to repair sexual organs and men acting “gay for pay” are just some of the ugly truths of the sex industry that are normally hidden from the public, according to Pauling.

 Pauling has contacted many of his former employees to apologize for getting them involved in the porn industry. Many have accepted his apologies, but many haven’t. He pointed out, “You know, I recruited over five hundred girls to work for me and not one has ever called to thank me for getting them involved in the sex trade.”

However, he has been contacted by several women pleading and begging him to help get their sexually explicit images off the internet.

One of those women, who only worked two days in the porn business, had to give up her life-long dream of becoming a police officer. She was kicked out of the police academy after her pornographic images were discovered during a background check.

A father anonymously receiving an envelope containing incriminating images of his daughter; a member of the military worried that her career could be over if her past activity were to be discovered; a newly-engaged woman whose fiancé took back his marriage proposal after her secret history was brought to his attention; these and many other tragic stories were shared by Pauling that Friday evening.

Donny Pauling at St. Isidore’s

As I sat in the pew with my wife, in this (unfortunately) sparsely-attended event, I wondered what it must have been like to hear the testimony of John Newton, the former slave-trader who wrote the hymn, “Amazing Grace”, after he became an Anglican priest.

In 1778, many years after giving up the slave trade, Newton published the popular pamphlet, “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade”, in which he wrote:

“It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

John Newton and Donny Pauling are truly brave and honorable men. If more brave and honorable men would simply refuse to consume pornography, could we then put an end to this soul-destroying industry once and for all?

newton 2 by mcfa0773, on Flickr
A stained-glass image of John Newton in his parish church at Olney, England.



A Diary
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  FrannyFotographyâ„¢ 
XXXChurch Booth
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  KalebColeman 

John Newton
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  mcfa0773