Articles from July 2011

Left Behind: The Mark Review–Part 5

Previous parts

Page 152 has a merciful view on forgiveness: Albie says to Hattie, who is now a believer, remorseful over things she did to the other members of the Trib Force, but not wishing to have to go over them all again,

“A wise man once counseled me that apologies must be specific, but now that I am a believer, I am not sure I agree.  If your friends know that you are sorry, deeply remorseful, and that you mean it when you apologize, I expect they will forgive you.”

[Hattie] “Without making me rehash everything so they’ll know I know what I did?”

Albie cocked his head and appeared to be thinking.  “That doesn’t sound like a born-again response, as Dr. Ben-Judah would call it.  Does it?”

She shook her head.  “That would be like rubbing it in.”

Of course, it isn’t quite that easy, because the Trib Force is angry at Hattie and (since Hattie talks to Chloe on the phone before the announcement is made) doesn’t realize she’s a believer now.  They forgive her, yet still get annoyed at her.

On page 159, Hattie goes to speak to Rayford as he pilots a helicopter. She puts “a hand on each of his shoulders,” then “let her hands slip to the top of his chair.”  Hmm–is Hattie getting friendly with Rayford again now that she’s saved?  Could there be a third marriage in the future for Rayford?  Lucky duck….

On page 165, we meet Viv Ivins, a family friend of Carpathia’s, like an aunt to him.  She wears dress suits, teases her blue-gray hair “into a helmetlike ball,” and–oh no–she wears sensible shoes!

For a female character in this series to care about her arches more than silly foot-killing fashions, she must be eeeeeviiiill!  Which doesn’t make any sense, but seems to be the case.  Remember, Verna Zee also wore sensible shoes.

On page 177, we find that “Hattie was getting on everyone’s nerves.” We’re not told how she’s doing this.  So even though she’s saved now, she’s still getting on everyone’s nerves?

On page 186, finally, we have a mission for the Tribulation Force: “stymieing Carpathia where possible and winning as many people to the kingdom as they could.”

The new Supreme Commander, Hickman, says on page 192, “You know how [Carpathia] talks, never usin’ contractions and like that.”  Eh?  No, I never noticed, and his sentence that Hickman quotes–“maybe I will show them–” works better that way, anyway.  It seems odd to bring attention to it here.

On page 205, the GC has been putting guillotines around the globe to go along with the biochips, “marks,” to be put on everyone’s forehead or hand.  They don’t expect much defiance.

But how can they be putting up these guillotines without losing the loyalty of the people of the world?  Where are the protests, the Jon Stewarts, the Stephen Colberts, the pundits on FOX?  You don’t have to be Christian or Orthodox Jewish to find these guillotines abhorrent!

I do like Hannah Palemoon, a new believer introduced into David’s life, and her sense of humor.  She’s a nurse, the type to make fun of your wounds while treating them, but without offending.  Since David’s fiancée was just killed by Carpathia’s lightning strikes in the last book, and Hannah seems to have a little thing for him, I wonder if they’re meant to be a couple in a later book….

Then I get to page 268, yet another meeting between some of the Trib Force people.  ARGH!  These books are mostly endless committee meetings rather than action!  You know what that’s like when it happens at work; imagine the same thing happening in a book you read.  Do we really need to witness all the decision-making?  Can’t we just watch how things actually play out?

On page 271, Buck tells Albie about the guillotines:

“That’s one of my sidebar stories, how easily they can be assembled.  They’re simple machines with basic, pattern-cut parts.  Each is basically wood, screws, blade, spring, and rope.

That’s why it was so easy for the GC to send out the specs and let anybody who wanted work and had the materials to have at it.  You’ve got huge manufacturing plants reopening to mass-produce these, competing with amateur craftsmen in their backyards.”

Er…Yeah.  Just what you’d expect from a guillotine.  Such gripping prose; I bet Buck’s readers were on the edge of their seats.  😛

Makes me long for the scene from Image of the Beast with Patty at the guillotine (starts at 6:00).  Now that’s an impressive scene, especially from a Christian movie (Christian movies, especially from that time period, tended to be poorly produced, poorly acted, etc.).

And you know the Left Behind series is dragging when you begin longing for the Thief in the Night series, of which Image of the Beast is part, and thinking how exciting it is, how suspenseful, when you begin to hold it up as the gold standard for Rapture/Tribulation movies.  Because the Thief in the Night series is really, really bad.

At least in the “Thief” series, when you’re traveling with the characters, you’re going somewhere, getting character development, and the like.

In the “Left Behind” series, on the other hand, on page 272, Albie–disguised as a GC commander–calls over a GC Peacekeeper (who’s directing traffic) and asks her for directions to the main detention facility.  Then we get,

“Well, they’re all together about three clicks west.  Take a left at your next intersection, and follow the unpaved road around a curve until it joins the rebuilt highway again.  The center will be on your right, just inside the city.  Can’t miss it.  Massive, surrounded by barbed wire and more of us.”

Wow.  6 lines of directions we’ll never need to a place we’ll never drive to.  And we couldn’t possibly have known that a jail would be big, surrounded by barbed wire and guards.  Why not summarize these things, say Albie flagged down an officer, got directions, and found the jail? The lack of editing in these books is astounding.

On page 279, we find still more blindly obvious descriptions of the detention center:

…the complex of five rather plain, industrial buildings that had probably once been factories.  The windows were covered with bars, and the perimeter was a tangle of fence and razor wire.

We get full descriptions of a jail which looks like any other jail or prison camp we’ve seen on TV and in the movies, with nothing remarkable about it.  Yet when we need to know what the characters look like, normally we get nothing except one or two details–hair color and drop-dead gorgeous, or looks like Robert Redford–which really don’t say much.

On page 297, a bunch of teen prison girls are being herded over to get the mark or death.  (Insert “cake or death” jokes here if you like.)  One of the girls clarifies that if your choice is the mark or death, then you really have no choice.

And on page 298, Buck muses that the girls didn’t really know what they were choosing, that it wasn’t between loyalty and death, but “between Heaven or Hell, eternal life or eternal damnation.”

Which is why this whole premise is problematic, that if you take the mark in these books, you are irrevocably condemned to Hell.  Doesn’t the very act of choosing require that you know?  If you don’t know, then how you can be irrevocably condemned for it?  Isn’t God more merciful than that?

To be continued….

I report them to CPS; Richard is charged with abusing his daughter

[There is more to this story later.  This update was written before I knew what all had happened.  In September I found out more details.]

I discovered on July 1, 2011, through our state’s public access website, that Richard has been charged with two felonies by the state: Second degree recklessly endangering safety, and child abuse with high probability of great harm.

Research into these statutes reveals that the second one, under the statute for physical abuse of a child, is described as, “Whoever intentionally causes bodily harm to a child by conduct which creates a high probability of great bodily harm is guilty of a Class F felony.”

So he has done something terrible to at least one of the children–on purpose.  Which of those beautiful, sweet girls did he hurt?  How did he hurt her?  Why??  How could he??  Was it reported by a teacher, by a doctor?

When I first made acquaintance with him over the Internet in 2005, he seemed to be very cool.  For years I thought he was the most interesting, charismatic, and pious person I knew.  I was drawn to him, and for a long time, he seemed to be drawn to me just as strongly.

But somewhere along the way, things changed–and I never could have imagined that one day I would be writing these things about him and Tracy.  And now he’s done something horrible to at least one, maybe two of the children.  I don’t know what, because the website gives the charges but no details.

It happened on September 21, 2010–almost three months after 7/1/10 (the end of our friendship), either a few weeks or two months before I saw Tracy hanging out of the van window as they drove past, and three months before they came to my church at Christmas.

Then in February 2011–the same month that I probably looked at the calendar, realized six months had passed since I told Tracy that Jeff and I wanted a six-month break, wondered if they would now try to contact us, and soon became very upset that they did not–the charges were filed with the District Attorney’s office.

While I posted my “Fighting the Darkness” blog post and wondered if he would see it (since I was still on his blogroll), he could have been sitting in jail:

The charges were filed 2/10/11; I don’t know when the crime was discovered and reported, when/if he was arrested or how long till he posted bail, since none of these details are on the website at this time.

We saw nothing of him between Christmas 2010 and the Sunday before Greekfest, which was in mid-June 2011, not even a glimpse of his minivan on the street; could he have been in jail then?

I can hardly expect someone who’s dealing with such things to put problems with me on his list of high priorities.  But then, wouldn’t it be good to get all the friends around you that you can?

Still, it would be useless for him to court us if he justifies his actions and thinks the state should not prosecute whatever he did.

I can have no friendship with a child abuser, and only tolerated Tracy because of him.  Child abusers and spousal abusers disgust me, which is why I only tolerated Tracy and would have preferred to have nothing to do with her.

But of course, they blamed me and treated me like I was the problem, like there was absolutely no reason not to be friends with Tracy, like only skanks would not want to be friends with the wife of their male friend.

Research into the state statutes on the charges filed, the different kinds of felonies, and state manuals for Child Protective Services, revealed that he could be in quite a bit of trouble.  Felonies are the most serious kind of charge, with serious consequences.

“Intentional” means he would either have done it with the purpose of hurting the child, or while punishing the child, even if not necessarily meaning to hurt the child.

In either case, this would not be an accident, because anything accidental could either be given a lesser charge (negligence or recklessness), or not charged at all.

And bodily harm of some kind was done to the child, by behavior which caused the high probability of great bodily harm.  You can’t use the defense of parental right to discipline when you’ve caused bodily harm to your child and put the child at risk of great bodily harm.

The types of felonies involved could lead to many years in prison.  Research into how criminal charges are filed, revealed that first there would be an arrest, then a police report sent to the prosecutor.

So at some point, he must have been arrested, possibly thinking he was being oppressed, because he was against the police–wanted police departments to be disbanded and all such matters put in the hands of sheriffs and citizens with guns to protect their families–said he could protect Jeff’s and my family.

Also, he had made grumblings against CPS, as did Chris, the friend he made here in town who agreed with him politically.

And I have discovered that their political persuasion tends to be very anti-CPS, treating CPS as the oppressor–an agent of government control, kidnappers, rapists–rather than as the protector of children who can’t protect themselves.

[Note: This paragraph was written after I found the details of the case in September 2011.  I discovered that Chris vanished from my Facebook probably late January or early February 2011.  He had only just posted something that showed up on my wall around that time, so I knew it was very recent when I first discovered it.

The charges were filed on February 10, so I don’t know if Chris knew about them yet.  I’m pretty sure Richard wasn’t talking about them on Facebook, since Todd was on Richard’s Facebook but had no idea about these things until I told him about them in September, but Richard may have mentioned them to Chris.  

On December 8, 2010, when charges had not yet been filed but the choking incident had been reported a couple of months prior, I posted a link on Facebook to Domestic Violence Handbook: For Wisconsin Child Protective Services Workers.

Facebook at that time was full of people changing their profile pictures in remembrance of child abuse, but I was posting links and this note about things Tracy did, instead.  

I don’t have the message in front of me and have to go on memory, but Chris posted in response to the link something nasty and accusatory about CPS.  Something about them wanting to take your kids away if you don’t follow the rules.  

I deleted it because I wanted my post to help people avoid child and domestic abuse, not become some political argument about CPS.]

The prosecutor decides from the report whether or not to press charges, and for what, and must do so within a few days.

Since the charges weren’t filed until nearly five months after the incident, what was the incident, and did it take a long time before the authorities became aware of it?  How did they learn of it?  How did they know it happened on 9-21?

This suggests that the arrest would have taken place around early February, as I wrote above.  The trial is set for November 2011.

When I learned about the charges against Richard, the shock and dismay affected me physically.

On March 1, 2011, I had mailed a letter, i.e. filed a report, with the local Department of Social Services agency about them, expecting only that–if my report was even taken seriously–it would lead to the DSS providing them with various services and helps.

My old college friend Mike, a pastor and former shelter worker, spoke with me on Facebook on July 4th or 5th, 2010, about the friendship breakup.  The breakup had just happened on the 1st.

I told him the abuses that Tracy had committed against Richard, their children and me, and that Richard was tempted to hit her back if she ever hit his face.

Mike told me I needed to report them for the sake of the children, but I wrote, “I don’t want to be vindictive.” He wrote, “Don’t let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right for those children!”

I did consider it.  I had also considered it back in January of that year, while we were still friends.

But I was afraid to call CPS because Tracy could punish me for it, either by trying to kill me like I was told she once wanted to do while living in my house, or by reporting me to CPS on some trumped-up charge.

Or because Richard could assault me as he had wanted to assault that apartment manager.

When I discussed it with Jeff, probably shortly after talking with Mike, we agreed that it was too risky to report Richard and Tracy.

Though I was afraid, over the following months I kept coming across things again and again–forum posts, newspaper articles–that said if you suspect child abuse, you must be an “angel” to that child and report it.

Then in late February 2011, I saw The Boondock Saints for the second time (the first time being the night before 8/1/10, when Richard and Tracy came to my church), and the scene which says that evil happens because good men do nothing:

Monsignor: “And I am reminded, on this holy day, of the sad story of Kitty Genovese.

As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police.

They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. 

Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.”

Connor to his brother as they leave church: “I do believe the monsignor’s finally got the point.”

I was so worried about Richard and Tracy’s girls, growing up in that squalor, in that abusive environment, with that crazy mother–though I had no idea yet that Richard was just as bad as she was.  So finally I said Uncle to my conscience, and began compiling a letter.

First, before mailing the letter, I checked the state’s public access court records website to see if either Richard or Tracy had been charged with domestic violence in the past few years, or any sort of violence–especially since Richard made some comment back in spring 2010 about being arrested numerous times for reasons he didn’t explain.

I wondered if Tracy’s rages had ever been reported by neighbors, especially since I knew she was going into them in early 2009, when they lived in an apartment building and could probably have been heard easily.

But I found no such listing for either of them–though if I had checked the very next day, I would have seen that Richard was charged nearly a month earlier with intentionally and physically abusing one of his children!

Then I checked with a college friend who has been doing social work for years in Madison with troubled adolescents, to see if the things I witnessed, qualified as child abuse in Wisconsin.

She said my concerns are indeed valid, and that Richard and Tracy both sound very abusive.  Her own family was like Richard and Tracy’s, and they still suffer from the after-effects to this day.

She urged me to please report them, to help the children and to help Richard.

I filed the report with DSS, not with the police department, because I wanted them to get services, not to be charged with a crime.  I didn’t expect the children to even be removed from the home.

I expected they would work out a long-term plan, in accordance with DSS procedures, with anger management counseling, parenting courses, and various other services that would help them to stop the abuse and become a healthy, happy family.

I figured that if they knew what was in the report, they would know who made it.  But I saw a news documentary in which one couple said they’d been reported for abusing their children, and a year later, they were very grateful for that report, because they were now much better parents and spouses.

I hoped that this would be the same thing with Richard and Tracy, that in time they would forgive me because they knew I did the right thing, that they would realize it led to their family becoming healthy and happy, and that they would reach out to Jeff and me in friendship, forgiveness and repentance.

Though when I showed the letter to Jeff, he said it meant the permanent end of the friendship.  But I accepted this because it was the right thing to do.  My friends praised my courage.

Also, when I made the report, it was Tracy whom I saw as the principal abuser, with Richard primarily the victim and the one who was trying desperately to keep her from harming the children as well.

On July 1, 2011, the first anniversary of the end of our friendship, I was grieving, and also wondered if the report to DSS had led to criminal charges, so I looked them up again.

When I discovered these charges had been made against Richard, and that they had been made before my report was even sent to DSS, I was devastated.

I had so looked up to him, so idolized him, and used his story as a reason to raise awareness (on the Abuse page of this website) and on Facebook for the problem of domestic violence by women against men.

I saw him as the protector of his children against someone who could very easily harm them all physically and mentally if left unchecked.

In the summer of 2010, I had even written down all the knowledge I had of her abuses, so that if one day I was called as a character witness for him in divorce court or on domestic violence charges, I could present it to the court.

Could he really be capable of harming them himself?  Then I began to piece together the things I already knew, things he had said to me, things I had already written right here in this account (which I started writing in probably fall 2010).

I realized it was all right there in front of me that yes, he is capable of hurting his children!  I just didn’t want to see it!  And if Tracy were to hit him in the face, he could fight back and kill her!  It’s all right there!  The bastard!

I was now very glad to have put in my report the things he did, too, that I knew about: putting the children in the closet at least once, defending smacking a kid upside the head.

He would occasionally deadpan to the oldest girl how he was going to treat her if she did something bad like have sex when she became a teenager, the horrible things he would do to her, then she would cry, and then everyone would laugh nervously as Tracy scolded him for scaring the girl and we realized he was joking.  At least, I think he was joking.

He once told me that when he said things like that to the second-oldest daughter, she just laughed at him.  But if the oldest daughter didn’t get the joke, then it’s not funny, and could actually scar her for life.

Another time, as he drove his children (three at the time) and me to his church (since my priest was on vacation and there were no services), I told him my frustrations with dealing with my son.

This was 2008; my son was four at the time, had begun smacking me around and taunting me so I was actually scared of him.  The only thing that got him to stop (and kept me safe) was to lock him in his room for a few minutes until he calmed down.

It was the middle of the day, he still wore Pull-ups because he just wasn’t interested in using the toilet yet, and it was only for maybe 10 minutes, but I still read books that made this sound abusive.

“What else am I supposed to do?” I cried.  “This is the only thing that works!”

I wasn’t beating him, wasn’t putting him in the closet (unlike Richard), wasn’t putting him in the dark, wasn’t leaving him in his room all day long, wasn’t making him wet himself; I was just separating us both for a short time-out so he wouldn’t hurt me and we would both calm down….

Richard began telling me about something he either did or threatened to do to his oldest girl, something horrible.  I don’t remember the details, just that he deadpanned it and freaked me out a bit.

Something about it made me think he was just kidding around, so I said, “It’s a good thing I know you’re just joking!”

But now–I’m not so sure it was a joke.  I just wish I could remember what he said.

On June 10, 2010, he posted on Facebook for suggestions on how to get the kids to clean without “beating them into bloody submission” which only gets them flinching when he raises a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.

At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Jeff wrote when I e-mailed him about this post, “So: he’s finally learning…?  Yelling at them just makes things worse, and should only be a last resort.”

Richard once plotted to kill the woman who evicted them.  He was once a Mafia thug.

I knew all along that Richard was just as capable of abuse as Tracy, but I didn’t want to face it!

He had said things to me that I found very disturbing, defending and promoting behaviors toward a spouse and toward children which shocked me.  He threatened my husband, said that he was very easily provoked to physical violence.

It was all there!  (And it’s also all here in this account.)

These charges had absolutely nothing to do with my report, being filed almost a month before I mailed my report (a very detailed letter).

The children had probably been removed for a time, but by the time we saw Richard around town again in June, they had obviously been returned.

But his address, according to the website, changed in April 2011–Was he allowed to live with the children, or did he have to move out?  Why were the children returned to someone who had obviously harmed one of them?

I tried to be sure that DSS wouldn’t let him be around the children without certain safeguards being in place, without him at least showing that he could control himself now.

That man is very large, 6’5, 400 pounds according to online court records, even larger than his large wife, and his children very small.  (Those little ones especially needed protection from two large, angry people.)

For months, I had been posting this account online, then making it private, over and over, as I continuously added things.  What started as two short paragraphs on my abuse page, turned into thousands of words.

Sometimes I was too scared to post it, and sometimes I wanted the world to know what happened.  In June 2011 it was online again, but I blocked this account from the public starting on 7/1/11, after discovering the charges, at least until I knew what happened and whether I’d be subpoenaed.

The charges against him could lead to many years in state prison.  I could end up subpoenaed, either because of our friendship or because of the report I made to the DSS.  Could we end up taking in the children?

This discovery has done several things for me, especially since I had nothing to do with the charges made against Richard:

  1. Shown me that I was not imagining it, that their abuse was real.
  2. Shown me that their good opinion is not worth courting.
  3. Shown me that neither of them are good people, that they’re both child abusers who should not be in our lives.
  4. Shown me that DSS–which confirmed the receipt of my letter–must have taken it very seriously, not tossed it aside as I had feared, because they and the state would already have a file open on Richard, would already be extremely interested in what goes on in that family, would be working on a case against him.
  5. Helped me to start moving on.

If Richard is in jail for many years, it won’t matter one bit if our friendship is repaired or not, because our friendship will be at an end anyway.  How can we be friends with a jailed convict, with a convicted child abuser?

How can I spend hours chattering and playing with him on the Net if he’s in jail?  How can we chat on the phone, or visit each other if he’s in jail?  How can I want to be friends with someone who has hurt one of his children on purpose?

And since both Jeff and I can’t stand Tracy, we will not wish to have a thing to do with her if Richard is in jail.

If DSS’s investigation into my report, along with the investigation they were surely already doing because of the charges against Richard, leads them to agree that Tracy is very abusive, that Tracy should not be left to raise them alone–the children could be placed elsewhere.

Richard may still be able to be a psychologist when he gets out of prison, but a priest?  No one will ordain a convicted child abuser!  I will have nothing to fear on that account.  I will also not have to fear him finding this blog.

I can hope that while in prison, he will have lots of time to think over his life and make changes.  Who knows, maybe Jeff and/or I will receive a remorseful letter one day….

[Update 5/3/14:] Every day after this discovery, for some time, I kept printouts of Richard’s case next to me on my computer desk, and looked at them.  I needed to believe it was real; I needed my heart to understand that he’s no good.  Every day I wondered what he had done, and if the newspaper would ever report on it.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing



Left Behind: The Mark Review–Part 4

Previous parts

Tsion goes on to tell his flock that

if the Bible is true, next on the agenda is the ceremonial desecration of the temple in Jerusalem by Antichrist himself….this desecration shall include the sacrificing of a pig on the sacred altar.  It also includes blasphemy against God, profanity, derogatory statements about God and Messiah, and a denial of his resurrection.

I’m not sure where he gets all this from, saying it’s in the Bible. Best I can figure is that he gets it from Matthew 24:15-16:

Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

The Daniel verses on this subject are 11:31 and 12:11, as follows:

Daniel speaks of warring kings.  As for one of these kings,

Then offspring shall arise from him, and they shall defile the sanctuary of power.  They shall take away the daily sacrifice, and place there the abomination of desolation.

There is nothing here about pigs or anything else Tsion mentioned.  In fact, Daniel was written before there was a Messiah or resurrection to deny.  Verse 12:11 reads,

From the time the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1290 days.

The Orthodox Study Bible notes explain that the Daniel verses describe struggles between the Romans, Antiochus IV Epiphanes who reigned in Syria and Judea, and the Maccabees.  2 Maccabees 5-6 describes just what Epiphanes did:

Among various other cruel and despicable acts, he desecrated the Jewish Temple by daring to enter into it, with defiled hands taking the holy vessels, pulling down “the things dedicated by other kings to increase the glory and honor of the place,” and carrying off 1800 talents.

He insisted the temple be dedicated to Zeus; in fact, the The New Oxford Annotated Bible identifies the abomination as an altar to Zeus set up in the Temple’s holy of holies.

The Gentiles filled the temple with “debauchery and reveling,” including sex inside the temple precincts, and brought “unfitting things inside.  The altar was filled with disgusting things forbidden by the laws.”  That would include pigs.

Hey, wait a minute, this is 2 Maccabees, the Apocrypha, not recognized as Biblical by Protestants.  There was nothing in the Protestant Bible in these verses about pigs being sacrificed on the altar, but it’s here in 2 Maccabees.

Yet Tsion said it was in the Bible.  So–Does Tsion agree with the Catholics and Orthodox, and recognize 2 Maccabees as part of the Bible?  Hmmmm….

The Orthodox Study Bible notes also say that

Many early Christians also saw the destruction of the temple by the Roman general, Titus, in AD 70, as well as the persecutions of Christians by the Roman emperor Nero, as fulfillments of these verses [Daniel 11:30-35].

Indeed, Daniel’s prophecies have been fulfilled many times over the course of history, as God’s people have endured persecution and testing at the hands of those who blaspheme God in their pride.

Which works against the idea of complete literalism in the End-Times prophecies, doesn’t it?  How can the same exact thing be happening over and over again unless it can be understood as symbolic?

This also shows that the Antichrist is hardly one single person at one single point in time, but a figure who keeps rising again and again throughout history, persecuting first the Jews and then the Church.

Hitler would probably qualify as one Antichrist.  Also Stalin, Lenin, the Chinese government.

From what I’ve seen of Carpathia so far in these books, he’s a wimp compared to the many real-life Antichrists who have risen and fallen during the last 2000 years since Revelation was written.

If you want to create a compelling Antichrist character, you must study the madness of the previous Antichrists, their narcissism, how they got so many to do their bidding that–in the case of Hitler–even Christians fell in step with the Nazis.

These men did not have Carpathia’s mind-bending powers; they used their own words to mesmerize.  Good people, normal people, ended up following the tyranny of the majority–why?

This is how you write an Antichrist.  You don’t just keep saying that Carpathia is succeeding because he’s such a good speaker, and then portray him giving some lame speech that names all the countries of the UN.  Is that the kind of speech Hitler would give?  How did Caligula inspire his followers to treat him as a god?

Carpathia is making such a half-hearted attempt at scapegoating the Orthodox Jews and Christians that I just don’t see it convincing anybody in the real world, except maybe for people with personality disorders who already like to scapegoat.  Until I can imagine your Antichrist and his followers in a Rammstein music video–

–until I–while listening to Links 2 3 4

–can imagine his soldiers goose-stepping, he just isn’t a convincing Antichrist.

The Study Bible also notes at Matthew 24:15,

Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation (Dan 9:27) was fulfilled in AD 70, when the Roman general Titus entered the Most Holy Place and had a statue of himself erected in the temple before having the temple destroyed.

The Lord’s phrase ‘when you see’ indicates that many of the disciples would still be alive at the time.  The words ‘whoever reads, let him understand’ are commonly understood to be inserted by Matthew into Christ’s address as an encouragement to his early Christian flock, who may have witnessed this event.

Also, for Matt. 24:3-31 the Study Bible notes that Scripture describes the End Times in so many ways that “no precise chronology can be determined.”  We are to be watchful and virtuous, not focusing on timetables for things that haven’t even happened yet.

For Daniel 9:27, we learn that Hippolytus identified the “abomination of desolations” as Antichrist himself, “announcing desolation to the world.”

Eusebius writes about the abomination of desolation, referring the reader to the works of Josephus on the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, where he can read how the abomination “was set up in the very temple of God, celebrated of old, when it was utterly destroyed by fire” (“The Last Siege of the Jews Before Christ,” chapter 5, Book 3: Missions and Persecutions, Church History).

This website goes into this from a Jewish perspective.

Also, you can read Josephus’ “War of the Jews” here to find out just what all went down during that desecration–all things not detailed in the Protestant Bible.

You need to go outside the Protestant Bible into other sources–Early Church Fathers, Eusebius, the Jewish Josephus, histories, the Deuterocanonical books which Protestants call “Apocrypha”–to find out what the “abomination of desolation” is all about.

But the danger of doing that, is discovering that maybe your system of interpretation is faulty.

On page 150, after reading Tsion’s latest missive to his Web flock, Buck hits “with great relish” “the key that broadcast Tsion’s words to a global audience.”  Aw, it would’ve been so funny if he hit the wrong button and deleted it instead.


To be continued.

Left Behind: The Mark Review–Part 3

Previous parts.

On pages 147-8 we read:

It may be hard to recognize God’s mercy when his wrath is also intensifying.  Woe to those who believe the lie that God is only “love.”

Yes, he is love.  And his gift of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin is the greatest evidence of this.

But the Bible also says God is “holy, holy, holy.”  He is righteous and a God of justice, and it is not in his nature to allow sin to go unpunished or unpaid for.

But what does Orthodoxy believe about God as love, wrath, justice?

First of all, the reason for the Cross is a bit different.  God is seen as impassive: That is, he’s not stirred to strong passions for evil in the same way we humans are, passions which drive us to defend ourselves or our good name at the expense of rational thinking or love or justice.

He does not hate sinners, as demonstrated when Christ spent so much time with sinners.  He hates sinful deeds–those are what condemn a soul.

And when the Bible speaks of his wrath, that “wrath” is actually the way sinners experience his love and sense of justice–you know, just as with a parent and child.

A good parent loves the child, protects him, and tells him not to do things because they will hurt him, make things difficult for the parent changing his diaper, or will hurt someone else.  But the child does not like being told no, and will act up.

The parent disciplines, but not to upset the child or be a tyrant, though the child thinks so.  This is corrective discipline and loving.

The use of the word “wrath” was not meant to be literal, but something that the writers and readers of the Bible could understand.  It basically means “consequences.”  Redemption redeems us from sin’s consequences; it heals our spiritually diseased condition.

(You’ll find my sources here.)

From The River of Fire by Alexandre Kalomiros:

This paganistic conception of God’s justice which demands infinite sacrifices in order to be appeased clearly makes God our real enemy and the cause of all our misfortunes.

Moreover, it is a justice which is not at all just since it punishes and demands satisfaction from persons which were not at all responsible for the sin of their forefathers.

In other words, what Westerners call justice ought rather to be called resentment and vengeance of the worst kind. Even Christ’s love and sacrifice loses its significance and logic in this schizoid notion of a God who kills God in order to satisfy the so-called justice of God.

…The word DIKAIWSUNH,”justice”, is a translation of the Hebraic word tsedaka.  This word means “the divine energy which accomplishes man’s salvation”.

It is parallel and almost synonymous to the other Hebraic word, hesed which means “mercy”, “compassion”, “love”, and to the word, emeth which means “fidelity”, “truth”.

This, as you see, gives a completely other dimension to what we usually conceive as justice.  This is how the Church understood God’s justice.  This is what the Fathers of the Church taught of it.

“How can you call God just”, writes Saint Isaac the Syrian, “when you read the passage on the wage given to the workers?  ‘Friend, I do thee no wrong; I will give unto this last even as unto thee who worked for me from the first hour.  Is thine eye evil, because I am good?'”

“How can a man call God just”, continues Saint Isaac, “when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son, who wasted his wealth in riotous living, and yet only for the contrition which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck, and gave him authority over all his wealth?

“None other but His very Son said these things concerning Him lest we doubt it, and thus He bare witness concerning Him.  Where, then, is God’s justice, for whilst we were sinners, Christ died for us!”

So we see that God is not just, with the human meaning of this word, but we see that His justice means His goodness and love, which are given in an unjust manner, that is, God always gives without taking anything in return, and He gives to persons like us who are not worthy of receiving.

That is why Saint Isaac teaches us: “Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you.  And if David calls Him just and upright, His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind.  ‘He is good,’ He says, ‘to the evil and impious.'”

God is good, loving, and kind toward those who disregard, disobey, and ignore Him.  He never returns evil for evil, He never takes vengeance.

His punishments are loving means of correction, as long as anything can be corrected and healed in this life.  They never extend to eternity.

He created everything good.  The wild beasts recognize as their master the Christian who through humility has gained the likeness of God.  They draw near to him, not with fear, but with joy, in grateful and loving submission; they wag their heads and lick his hands and serve him with gratitude.

The irrational beasts know that their Master and God is not evil and wicked and vengeful, but rather full of love.  (See also St. Isaac of Syria, SWZOMENA ASKHTIKA [Athens, 1871], pp. 95-96.)

He protected and saved us when we fell.  The eternally evil has nothing to do with God.  It comes rather from the will of His free, logical creatures, and this will He respects.

Lots more good stuff is in that article.

To be continued.

Realizing how Richard manipulated me into doing things I shouldn’t

This video, “NPD and BPD” by Delusion Dispeller, on the differences between NPD (narcissism) and BPD (borderline) makes Tracy sound more narcissistic than borderline.  DD shows that the narcissist will just let you go, while the borderline will try to hold onto you.

She even goes into breaking the BPD’s rules without knowing what they are–which sounds very familiar.  She says you never know what will offend them because it will one minute, but not the next.

The danger of researching personality disorders, of course, is not just falsely labeling your friends and enemies (so I only say this after probably dozens of hours of research and reflection), but beginning to think you yourself identify with this or the other one.

But then, if I were these things, I don’t think Jeff would have stuck with me for so long, telling everyone he can what a great wife I am.  Things were rocky for us in the beginning because of the baggage left over from my exes (at least one of which also fits with this), but that has long since passed as Jeff and my desire for me to be a good person, worked together to eradicate the baggage.

I do recall things in my past that are very embarrassing, and cringe that I ever did them; maybe everybody has done such things, and the cringing is a sign that they are NOT actually crazy.  While if they didn’t cringe at all, maybe they really are crazy.

Perfectly normal people do have various traits that show up in the lists of abusive or personality disordered traits, because we are human, not perfect; what makes a person fit the criteria of an abuser is the number of traits, all working together as a whole.

Also, the things I did, were usually because I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know intuitively that they were bad ideas, a common problem with NLDers, who often either smother or neglect friendships or relationships because they don’t know intuitively how to proceed, don’t pick up on signs of what their friend or SO wants without being directly told, or if they do pick them up, don’t understand them.

I had no idea that the things I did would receive the reactions and consequences they did.  I never did them again.

While if it were a personality disorder, they would stay with me, and probably be done deliberately in order to gain control and dominance over others.

The people who know me best tend to say glowing things about me, though they do have criticisms from time to time.  But the thoughts still keep creeping in from time to time–maybe Tracy was right.

On the one hand I could be alarmed at this, and see it as evidence that she was crazy-making me, which is indeed something abusers do to take the focus off their own dysfunctions and accuse you.

But on the other hand, I can also embrace it as evidence that I’m not crazy, because if I were BPD or narcissistic or the like, I wouldn’t even consider the possibility that I might have done some things wrong.

Rather, there are things I look back on in this whole experience with Richard and Tracy that sometimes make me go inside myself and shiver inwardly in shame, while those around me probably think I’m just quietly watching a movie with them.

Friends and Jeff have at times scolded me for even considering anything Tracy said, telling me (friends) to consider the source, or (Jeff) that I did nothing wrong.  This is reassuring, but I have trouble releasing the occasional feelings of guilt or shame that let me know I am not a monster myself.

It should also be noted, that a person involved with a Borderline for even a limited time, will be prone to adopting psychotic (BPD) symptomology, due to proximal exposure. That’s why we call their behaviors, “crazy-making.” —The Borderline/Narcissist Couple

This explains some of the things I’ve done in dealing with the BPDs or narcissists or abusers who have come and gone in my own life, including Richard and Tracy.

For example, the narcissist abuser Phil who kept trying to tear me down and telling me it was all my fault, that I always had to get my way–while his way involved painful or disgusting sex positions that I didn’t want to do.

Or Peter, who may very well have been BPD because of his “chameleon-like” way of making a girl think he was her perfect man, before his true colors came out later and he treated her like crap for being upset at getting dumped.

Not only did he do this with me, but a few years later I was told–by a person who had no clue I had once dated Peter–that he was doing this very thing again and again to girls on a local BBS.

As for some of the crazy things I’ve done myself while dealing with these people, they’re things I felt driven to do out of desperation.  Later on, I usually felt ashamed of it and wondered how I could ever have done it, never doing it again.

I know from research that normal, healthy people don’t stay normal and healthy for long in dysfunctional marriages, or family relationships, so if I acted crazy myself a few times during dysfunctional relationships or friendships, it’s understandable even if not excusable–but doesn’t mean I will permanently retain the taint of their dysfunction.

I did a lot of research into abuse to see if I had been abused, validate my experiences, reassure myself that I did not deserve it, and hopefully learn to heal.  When I first came across Sam Vaknin’s site on narcissism, it was through his articles on abuse.

I had already used them when writing about my abusive ex Phil, and when researching abuse between 2008 and 2010.  (I did that because of Tracy’s behavior, and so I could make my own page on abuse.)

On one page was a list of narcissistic traits of abusers which sounded just like Tracy, so the lightbulb went on.  I also came across sites which pointed to borderline personality disorder in many abusive women.

But as I read Sam Vaknin’s articles on narcissism, an uncomfortable little voice kept saying: Oh my gosh, that’s Richard, too!

This cemented the idea that not only did I not deserve what happened, but I was targeted by two narcissists, one with BPD that made her abuse obvious, but one charming narc who makes you believe he cares–more dangerous because it is subtle.

Also, this sounds very much like Richard and Tracy.  Now, when it goes into the childhoods of NPDs (narcissists) and BPDs (borderline personality disordered people), I know Tracy came from a very dysfunctional family, while Richard said glowing things about his parents–even excusing it when he hinted at his dad abusing him in some way.

As for narcissism, the know-it-all traits under the subheading “What’s Love Got to do with It” sound very familiar, coming across as an absolute authority, one-upping, mansplaining, telling you what you’re thinking or feeling, and yes, it is very infuriating.

Then he’d wonder why I was getting upset over something he said.  “Where did that come from?  I was only….[etc. etc.]”

I can imagine the same thing happening with Tracy.  So no, I don’t believe the abuse was all one-sided in this relationship, and as much as I don’t want to see Richard as a narcissist, he fits far too well.

Not only from what I’ve seen, but from what Jeff has observed, from his Forum enemies calling him “arrogant” and him agreeing, and from things he has told me about his past–not just boasts, but also confessions of his own bad behaviors, whether with women or with people in general.

Not only did he overwhelm people with charisma, but he also kept overwhelming me with TMI that made me want to take an ice pick to get it out of my brain.

Then in June 2010, made some strange comment about needing to set some boundaries about his past relationships, even though he’d been the one volunteering all sorts of information to me–even stuff I really didn’t want to know.

But thanks to this, I can identify from the above link that he has a tendency of getting enmeshed with BPDs.

Also note that BPDs who have issues with their mothers (such as Tracy) can hate all other women.  This sounds very familiar, as well.  Also, people would note that Tracy was never satisfied, a trait which comes up again and again in articles on abusers and BPDs.

I believe Richard is a narcissist who used me for narcissistic supply, maybe unintentionally or without realizing it, but still did it.  He had told me enough about his past which seemed so different from the way he was now, that it was amazing he was talking about the same person.

It was an arrogant, abusive person who was a dog to women and violent to men, who would judge people based on their smarts.  I have to wonder now if that old Richard was really gone, or just hidden.

Based on how he would brag about his past and all the women who would chase him then and now, and how his exes would sit and talk to each other about how evil he was, and his outrageous flirting that was carried on with his various female friends (and male), even via text message while he proposed to his wife–I do believe he is a casanova figure.

He wants to be desired, wants to be the ladykiller even though he’s married and not allowed to touch any of them.  He wants to be the casanova even though he’s long since let himself go quite a bit and no longer looks anything like he did back in his youth.

So he toyed with me, played with my head, when he was separated from his wife for so long and they were having problems.  He told me beforehand that modern American society is far too prudish and reserved.  We should be freer!

(Months later, he even told me one day that I was prudish for wearing a robe over my nightgown around him, that they had another friend who just wore her nightclothes freely around both of them, no robe.)

Then one evening he took a few liberties with me, but holding back just enough that he could feign innocence when I called him on it later.  I won’t rehash that story; it’s already here, here and here.  From here on out I will just assume my reader has read those sections, so I don’t have to repeat what happened.

I’m not sure what exactly to make of it–I’ve seen him get flirty with everybody he knows, and ask for “huggles”–but the way he threw me to the wolf (Tracy) over it, suggests to me that his motives were not pure.

I told him not to put his head in my lap anymore, that if Tracy had trouble with just using each other’s shoulders as pillows then she’d really have a problem with that, and it’s a very questionable thing to do anyway.  (He only did it once.)  Though I really felt the “shoulder thing” was much ado about nothing.

Some part of me knew that he was only telling me part of the truth.  It was the best kind of lie: the one that is mostly true.  But I trusted him, became a good little acolyte, taking in my mentor’s instruction and making it my own belief.

It is indeed true that many people are far freer with flirting and nonsexual touch than the average American.  It is indeed true that these things can be completely platonic.  Everything he did could indeed be completely platonic, and some of my other friends do these things.

But there were the little things here and there, things he said or did, that tell me he didn’t mean them completely platonically at the time.  That he was going a little too far.  

He should’ve told me this honestly when I first confronted him with what he was doing, and I would’ve known what we needed to do: pull back, stop doing these things, not spend so much time together.  

But he didn’t, I trusted him to tell me the truth, I set aside the little suspicions, I trusted him that everything he did was platonic and innocent–and he let me take the fall for him.

While re-reading The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, a Gothic novel I first read many years ago while in college, I was also writing this account, and was struck by the similarities in one scene:

The black monk, Schedoni, is about to stab the heroine, Ellena, when he sees a miniature around her neck of himself as a young man.  She wakes up, and he soon tells her he is her father.

He doesn’t tell her why he was there, and after he leaves, she begins to wonder what he was doing in her room (where she was imprisoned) at midnight, anyway?

Then she finds the dagger lying on the floor.  The truth is right there staring her in the face, but she doesn’t want to believe that her own father would kill her, even though he didn’t know who she was at the time and was her captor.

Instead, she decides to believe that it was his henchman who tried to kill her, and that Schedoni rescued her.  She has no reason to believe this, but she wants to, and Schedoni lets her.  The mind can believe what it wants to even with much evidence to the contrary.

From his actions the day of the “incident,” from the things he said to Jeff, from the way he just threw me under the bus instead of explaining to Tracy what the e-mail was really all about, from the way that he justified her actions and words, it was as if he were now saying to me,

“You piece of f**king trash, how dare you remember the things I did to you, how dare you hold the memories close to your heart?  I wish I had never given you these hugs!  How dare you ever speak of these things I did as if I had ever actually done them?  I can do them, but you can’t speak of them!  I am a liar and will treat you like a liar and a manstealing whore for even bringing them up!”

…This despite the fact that we had discussed these hugs via online chat in the past, and back then he acted as if we had done nothing wrong, as if I had done nothing wrong by mentioning them, that he wanted to do the things again, that he was just avoiding them because of the way Tracy had been acting at the time, that in the future it would be okay with her.

And I had no reason to think that these hugs had ever been forbidden, but that he was just holding back for a while.

His actions the day of the “incident” proved him guilty, when if he had explained to Tracy the truth, he would have exonerated both himself and me….Unless, of course, what he told me was not the truth.

I gave him the opportunity to tell me the truth.  Why didn’t he tell me the truth?  Why didn’t he admit he’d gone too far and he shouldn’t have done those things and they needed to stop?

Why did he lead me to believe that they were perfectly normal things for close platonic friends to do, that they were done platonically, and didn’t need to stop?

Probably because he didn’t want to stop.  Probably because it fed his ego when he was at a very low point in his life.

I wish he would have been honest with me; it all would have stopped, I never would’ve brought it up again, and all this never would’ve happened.  My naïvete and gullibility stares me in the face and shames me.

I know enough about his past with women–a self-described “dog”–to think these things I write are probably true.  He says he respects women now, but I have plenty of reason to believe that the dog is still inside him, just taking a nap, waking up every now and then.

I wanted a friend who could be playful but without being dangerous.  He turned dangerous.  He became like Shawn from college, who lured and manipulated me into giving him what he wanted, then treated me like a cheap whore for it.

He became like Phil, my ex-fiance/husband, who wove a web of lies which I only believed because of NVLD, and wore me down until I did things with him that (in Christian morality) were wrong, but which he told me were perfectly fine and not wrong at all.

Because of the NVLD, I was far too trusting, thinking a pious Christian would never do such things.  I thought as a married woman I was beyond being so taken in.

But then another seemingly pious Christian man came along and started breaking down my reserves just as Shawn did, convincing me–just as Shawn did–that we were doing nothing wrong, then letting me drown in the fallout when (in Richard’s case) the wife found out.

Leaving me baffled as to what just happened because Richard had convinced me we were doing nothing adulterous or even out of the ordinary for close platonic friends.

I thought his days of going to Bible college while womanizing and being a violent “gumba” were over, that his days of faking piety and speaking in tongues for the congregation (as a Pentecostal preacher in his early 20s) were over, covered by the blood of Jesus.

When I asked how he was able to get over/forgive his ex–who was (from what I heard) a psychotic nympho who cheated on him all the time–he said he abused her too, as punishment; I thought this sort of behavior was all in his past.  Now I wonder if, when we watched Elmer Gantry together, it gave him ideas.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing


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