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  • ivanildotrindade 11:28 pm on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art and mediocrity, , , Contemporary art, Feminism, modern art, stalin, statism   

    Shock: Camille Paglia Abandons Obama 

    Very few evangelicals pay any attention or even know who Camille Paglia is. First, she is a feminist, a different kind of feminist but one nonetheless. Second, she is openly Lesbian. Thirdly, she is an atheist. Fourth, she has been an outspoken voice for liberal ideas. So you would think that people like me would stay away from Camille and her rantings.

    Not so fast. I have always paid attention to Camille. First, because she is an art’s professor. As a former art professor myself, I sympathize with her views to see art take its deserved place in our society. Secondly, when it comes to her views about art, I find myself in agreement with her in a variety of topics, not the least of which the notion that so-called “shock art” has outlived its usefulness and modern art as we know it today is generally in the hands of fools. Thirdly, though a feminist, Camille has challenged some of the basic premises of radical feminism and I just love the way she makes some people mad.

    But never in a million years I imagined that Camille could ever be capable of delivering the most scathing indictment against the Obama administration as she did recently in an interview for an online T.V. channel. You may see the entire interview here. Most of it is about her new book and the place of art in America. But if you fast forward to about minute marker 11:24, she starts talking about why she is not voting for Barak Obama this time around. Now, the reasons she gives are not what most would expect, but my is she provocative!

    Having lived under the threat of communism for about 20 years in Brazil, I know what “statism” is. Most kids nowadays have no idea what that word means. Obviously, comparing Obama’s methods with Stalin’s is way off the mark, but there is no question that some signs of attempt at government controls are evident everywhere. Camille once again opens her generous mouth and paints a picture of apocalyptic doom. Either she is totally crazy or the most courageous leftist that ever was.

    Regardless, President Obama is lucky this aired only on an obscure Internet channel.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • Eric 12:21 pm on October 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Pastor Trindade,

      Though I am sure your post is well-intentioned, I think it omits some important details and could prove misleading to your readers. First, it is not really accurate to say that Paglia “has been an outspoken voice for liberal ideas.” It would be better to say that she has been an outspoken voice for libertarian ideas, since her support for socially liberal policies is founded in her belief that government should not meddle in people’s lives. It is also important to note that she is widely recognized as a professional contrarian. She launches criticisms indiscriminately – often wildly – and was once famous for her attacks on Bill Clinton. Her comments on President Obama are therefore not shocking specifically because she deals in shock for a living.

      Also, you don’t quite do PJ Media justice to call it “an obscure Internet channel.” It is actually a hard-right political blog, home to a lot of writers – including this segment’s Glenn Reynolds – who are far more representative of fringe voices than of the American mainstream. It is not surprising that Paglia would get an audience on this site, because she is a fringe creature as well – though not always the same exact part of the fringe. I don’t know that she is crazy, but I am confident that she is neither courageous nor (strictly speaking) leftist. Far from “scathing,” each element of her rant may be met with a very casual rebuttal.

      I wasn’t sure whether I would post a response to this or not, but I think it’s appropriate since many Evangelicals, myself included, have become increasingly troubled by the Church’s right-ward shift. It’s not news to say that, I know, but it makes me uncomfortable when clergymen support – or seem to support – the paranoia that dominates conservative politics in the age of Obama. I thank you for noting that Paglia’s invocation of Stalin is “way off the mark” and that hers is a vision of “apocalyptic doom.” But I would also suggest that these should disqualify her from a link on your blog.



      • ivanildotrindade 5:51 pm on October 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks, eric. your response is well reasoned and i am glad to give you voice here. we can split the proverbial semantics hairs. i have read most of the stuff ms. paglia has written over a 20 year span and i would say that she is clearly on the left when it comes to most issues, even if she comes at them from an entirely different perspective compared to a typical liberal voice. her voice is at times disturbing, i am not going to deny it, but that is perhaps what makes it entertaining. also, when u watch the video, u will see that she refers to hersef as a “liberal.” i am taking her word for it. ms. paglia is not exactly “fringe” from the perspective of her huge following in some sectors of academia. i think she represents the views of a lot of people who are adept at seeing enemies coming at them from the four corners of the earth. they are still fighting an ideological war that seems to have been abandoned by all sides a long time ago.

        yes, PJ Media is indeed composed of a large pool of libertarians and conservative bloggers but PJTV.com, PJ Media’s subscription-only t.v. channel is rather puny and in fact the video i linked on my blog appeared on instapundit, which is even a smaller affiliate of PJ Media. if u ask around, almost nobody will recognize any of these names. and now ms. paglia finds her voice in an even more insignificant blog… my own! i think it is poetic justice.

        anyway, you r right: “shock” is not the right word here, rather, the emphasis should be on the fact that ms. paglia, by her own admission, was an enthusiastic obama supporter in 2008 and has now changed her mind. the reasons she gives as to why she changed her mind, though, are none that i would give, but i chose to refer to her interview here because the larger point of the interview, i think, is this perception that there r some elements in washington who see government as being the solution for everything, which is something i think is patently wrong.

        and by the way, u r right about elements in the evangelical church fighting cultural wars that serve no purpose except erecting walls between people and the God who loves them. i decry that too. thanks for your response.

        • Eric 6:19 am on October 31, 2012 Permalink

          Thank you for your response. I think it contains some more hairs to split, but that was honestly never my intention. I read your initial post to be saying essentially, “Look, even Obama’s most liberal supporters are turning against him!” and I simply wanted to amend that a bit, noting that the figures and the venue present a very unusual and unrepresentative case.

          I think my larger point may still stand, and in fact may even have been reinforced by your follow-up. You cite “this perception” that some in Washington think “government” is the answer to everything, and state your opposition. Fair enough. But the context implies that you are referring to Obama, and he has been very clear that he does not think this way. In fact, I don’t know that there is a single politician in the United States who would defend this position. Rather, what we have here is a partisan attack line – a *perception* that has been carefully developed and maintained by one political party for use against another. When it appears in campaign ads, you can shrug it off as politics as usual. But when it’s taken up by religious leaders – whether in the pulpit or the blog-space – the perception gets a sort of divine stamp-of-approval, transforming shepherds into party surrogates in the process. That is my concern, and I think it’s an urgent one. Thanks again.

        • ivanildotrindade 11:24 am on October 31, 2012 Permalink

          thanks, eric. i am loving having this conversation with you here only because it is different from my usual routine with this blog. a little context: my readership is made up of three small groups: a) my faithful readers, a small group of people, most of whom get my posts via email and thus have that (email) as their main means of communication with me; b) another small group of regulars who check me online. i know they are catholics, hindus, buddhists, atheists, christians, baha’is, muslisms, etc. i know because i have heard from them from time to time and also because i can track on a global map offered by wordpress where they are clicking from;c) the occasional “checker,” which is composed of the curious and passersby. i write some of the catchy titles for them :).

          my readers know that i am not overtly “religious” or overtly “political” here. in other words, this is not “the reverend trindade blog.” obviously, i try to be clear about where i stand (if at all possible), but i trust my readers to formulate their own opinions, even when the blogger might be a little off or slightly misinformed. the people who read my rambling thoughts most often here would laugh at the thought that my ideas somehow could carry even a semblance of “divine stamp-of-approval.” they know better than that. and i just want to say it to all the other passersby out there — i trust u to know better than that too!

          that said, two observations about your last comment: a) “I read your initial post to be saying essentially, ‘Look, even Obama’s most liberal supporters are turning against him!'” Your interpretation and you are entitled to it; b) “But the context implies that you are referring to Obama…” Again that is how you are interpreting it.

          also, i agree with you 100% that a pulpit or a church is not the place to endorse political parties or candidates of any stripe. actually, the IRS has clear rules about that. i am just going to assume that u weren’t talking about that possibility as being true about me, and if u did, i will just attribute that to the fact that u don’t know me and that u r sensitive about this particular issue, which is very encouraging to know. i guarantee u that if u would ever have a chance to see how i conduct myself in the context of a local church u would have no reason for concern.

          finally, again for the sake of the passersby, if you want to check a “serious” source (as opposed to beloved camille…) that once endorsed obama and is now leaving his camp, i encourage you to read the editorial page from the Des Moines Register, an Iowan newspaper that has endorsed Democratic Candidates since 1976: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20121027/OPINION03/121026026. For the opposite view, go to the Miami Herald editorial which raises serious questions about Romney’s contradictory statements: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/26/3068819/obama-for-president.html as a harbinger of bad things to come. i posted these on my FB page and encouraged people to make their own judgement. and always, vote your values and convictions and pray for your president and all those in authority. i think i am going to post this here as well. thanks again, eric.

  • ivanildotrindade 6:40 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: best friend, betrayal, don't belong, family secrets, missionary speaker, outsider, painful anniversaries, painful divorce   

    Family Secrets 

    Some time ago I lived in a little village in NE Ohio. One day I read an ad in the paper and on a whim decided to attend a morning service at the local Mennonite Church. The ad was for a missionary speaker who worked for an organization I much sympathized with.

    As a nervous newcomer, even though I was a missionary then and a church-going person my whole life, I arrived there a little early and sat in the car to time my entrance. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I almost changed my mind as  a thought came clearly, “I don’t belong here!” But in the end, I went in.

    Upon entering the building, I found a nice atmosphere. A couple of people extended their hand to me, including the man I suspected was the pastor, whom I had met some time earlier at the little barbershop in town. One lady, who was sitting by me, actually introduced herself, shook my hand, and said with a smile, “Hi, I am Rita Wenger. Welcome!”

    The service started with some nice readings by a couple. They read a poetic arrangement about God’s signature in the sunshine, the lightening, the rain, and “the people with their beautiful smiles who are here this morning!”

    A gray-haired lady, nicely dressed and decidedly friendly, led the music. We sang the first song a capella. Beautiful harmony. Mennonites, like Brazilians, know how to harmonize.

    After a few songs, the pastor got up and shared “celebrations.” A couple had become grandparents — again! An elderly woman had the twenty year old roof replaced in her house — all the work done by the men in the church, and the women, who helped cook that day. A couple who was moving to Indiana was honored — “a celebration in reverse,” the pastor called it.

    But I was not expecting what happened next. He invited people to share. No, he didn’t just ask them to come upfront or walk to them when they raised their hands. He gave the congregation the microphone… literally. Announcements, words of thanks, clarifications, a real grocery list of stuff was shared.

    But the place turned eerily silent when a lady who was sitting on the back got the microphone. She said, “Many of you have asked about my divorce. Well, I am here to share this with you by way of a prayer request, so please take your pen and paper.” The sound of paper shuffling and people getting their pens out echoed in the room and eyes were moving fast.

    The woman spoke with a voice that commanded respect and drew sympathy to the core. She said the divorce had been finalized recently. As she went on, she asked for prayer for her. Her anger. “Yes, I am still angry.” Her ability to forgive. Her children and his children. “One of my children has been sleeping with me for several months now.” The pain was so intense but she was not done.

    Next, she gave a list of her losses: a husband, a family, a relationship, a person she thought was her best friend. The anniversaries she no longer celebrates. and the fateful date. September 26, Communion Service. The woman who was her best friend then washed her feet and when she got done, she whispered in her ears, “I love you.”

    That same night, when they got home after the service, her husband told her that he was having an affair with the feet washer. “That was the death of my marriage,” she said, “and that anniversary is coming up.”

    I looked in front of me and saw the neck of this beautiful lady wearing a beautiful green blouse. I knew her. She was the stoic pre-school teacher at the school my son attended. At school she looked like a saint whose smiles come only in installments. But now her neck was getting red, from the bottom to the top. It was like the shadow of the clouds rapidly covering a river at high noon. Soon it took over her entire neck and tears began to flow. I could only see her neck but it was as if it too was crying. Her hands were resting on her chin and I heard her sobbing softly.

    Then I looked around and saw other people crying, including grown men with what appeared to be tear-proof beards. The woman went on and listed other anniversaries. By now I was asking God to spare us more sorrow. Then, quietly, she read a poem that talked about overcoming through Jesus and sat down.

    The pastor got the microphone and prayed with the congregation for this woman. Then he went to the platform and said, “This is the church.” From then on, I could care less about what the speaker was going to say. I couldn’t take another sermon. What that missionary speaker had to say no longer mattered. I could only think about that young woman, her painful words and the tremendous courage it took for her to share them with those people.

    Then a thought came: “I was right. I don’t belong here.” Let me explain: my church experience was so different from what I had just witnessed. Yes, I was blown away by the openness of that congregation but there was a part of me that thought I inadvertently walked into a family meeting and stumbled upon some family secrets.

    I just wonder: is that the church like the pastor said or just one aspect of it?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • Patti Lehman 6:41 am on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      There is so much I want to say about this post but time does not permit. I think Galatians 6:2 sums it up well.
      “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

      • ivanildotrindade 10:11 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, Patti. There is so much to say. At least we can all think hard about what we are doing in our own sphere of, influence. I think that was the point of putting the verse here. Thanks again!

    • Spiritually Inclined, with Julie Buhite 8:59 am on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I so wish that more churches would be that way. It there were, maybe I and so man others wouldn’t have had to walk away.

      • ivanildotrindade 4:29 pm on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        julie. thanks for coming back. was missing your comments. there are different churches for different kinds of people, but one thing they all must be if they want to make a difference in this generation: authentic. people r still looking for authentic, transparent relationships, even if they try to put on a face that attempts to deny it… blessings!

  • ivanildotrindade 4:55 pm on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: moving, moving to lititz, new opportunities, pastor ivanildo transition, resignation letter   

    It’s Official Now! 

    • Beth Mast 5:08 pm on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      You will certainly be missed. You exude the happiness of Christ and are a wonderful example of Jesus. Thanks for being such an encouragement over the years.

      • ivanildotrindade 5:26 pm on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        i am humbled, beth. thanks for helping our ministry succeed here in wooster. it’s people like you who make a difference. best to you and yours!

    • Harold 11:07 am on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ivanildo, Naza and Josh:

      Having just read and reread your “official letter of resignation,” we are sad for our Wooster friends, but happy that we belong to the group called “Pennsylvania Friends!” Welcome to Lititz, Pennsylvania! We are excited that you are officially called as Senior Pastor to the Lititz Grace (Brethren) Church—the other dominate, neighbor church in Lititz! Being a Senior Pastor, Ivanildo, is your next “calling” that God has planned for the baby boy born on the Amazon River, years ago!

      Thanks, Ivanildo, for a copy of your excellent farewell letter. Your letter, however, tugs on emotional heart strings, but it is an sample of the pathway a faithful, pilgrim/disciple treads as he follows Jesus. Naza, you played an important role of prayer. You are officially the “First Lady!”

      The same Jesus that led you through your Ohio years will be present to welcome you when you officially arrive in Lititz! After all, he played a sovereign hand letting you know and leading you to church of his choice here in our city! You will find things here are like conditions Paul found in Mars Hill: some worship an unknown God, and some are faithful followers of Christ!

      Having followed the path of Jesus in his service in our life time, Sylvia and I know the “highs and the lows” that you will experience in the coming months. You will learn again how to hold two opposite emotions at the same time: joy and sadness. But God’s resources are adequate.

      A wonderful church awaits you folks here—they have waited long and patiently for your coming.

      Because of Jesus, Harold and Sylvia

      Pastor Harold Stoltzfus

      • ivanildotrindade 1:34 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Harold. Thank you for your kind words. We are mindful of the challenges and opportunities ahead but trusting in our great God every step of the way. Christ is still the Head of the Church, His bride, the apple of His eyes. Thanks for the prayers!

    • Jefferson Amstutz 10:45 pm on November 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m seeing this announcement for the first time. When I was regularly attending Wooster Grace, I was always so thankful for your service and leadership there! I’ll be gladly praying for you and your new opportunity, and, because we live in northern Baltimore, my wife and I may stop in some Sunday to see you in PA!

  • ivanildotrindade 7:10 pm on October 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply  


    My friends:

    I have been so absent from these pages lately, but there is a reason for it. Over the last several months I have been on a journey which ended today. I have accepted the call to become Lead Pastor at Grace Church, Lititz, PA. If you want to know more details, go here and click on the Lead Pastor Search Information link. There are some videos there you can watch as well.

    Over the next few weeks my wife and I will be working hard to transition to Pennsylvania before it gets too cold. This will probably mean more silent weeks here, which I apologize for. And in the future I expect this will be a weekly blog as I will also be blogging somewhere else on matters related to the church. I am not abandoning you, though, I promise.

    Blessings to all of you!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • Harold 9:40 am on October 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Friend: Sylvia and I realize you have a large congregation of people welcoming you to Lititz, however, we stand ready to be of assistance as well. We can’t tell you how happy we are that you will be moving to our town!

      Now we want more than ever to move to Lititz! We pledge our prayers on your behalf—we believe God will be in every detail of your transition, just as he was in the invitation to become the Senior Pastor at Grace! It is God’s perfect will!!

      Love, Harold

      • ivanildotrindade 4:58 pm on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks, harold. you are both special friends and we are thankful to God for having you in our lives.

  • ivanildotrindade 5:07 pm on September 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: attack in libya, bridges to cross, , evil in the world, innocence of muslims, jesus' wife, Libya, Mary Magdalene, , religious persecution, the last temptation of christ, the problem of evil, violence in islam   

    The Muslim Across the Street is NOT My Enemy 

    I disagree with those who are saying that the recent deadly attack on the American Embassy in Libya was the result of protests gone awry. There is no question that some radical militants have seized the opportunity afforded them by the anti-Islamic YouTube so-called movie “Innocence of Muslims,” but to say that this was the reason for the attack is a bit of a stretch.

    Some Americans still need to wake up to one simple reality: there is, after all, good and evil in this world. Now I am not saying that we are good and everyone else is evil. That would be ethnocentric and arrogant. But to recognize that there is evil is like saying that the sun is hot. Let me say it then as clearly as I can: every day there are people who wake up in some dark corners of this earth and go about one and only one activity — devising ways they can inflict the most extensive damage and cause the greatest possible pain against the United States of America and what this country stands for.

    Actually, I should revise that statement: there are people who do that 24-7. They have taken a secret vow to bring destruction not only to a country but to an entire civilization.

    Now I don’t think anyone knows how many people like that are out there. And no one can say what they look like or when they are about to strike. We can’t even say which religion they belong to. They may not belong to any religion, even if they claim they do.


    This is not to say that we don’t know what the biggest threat to Christianity and Western Civilization is — a radical strand of Islam which is uncompromisingly violent and unashamedly zealot for the destruction of Israel and the church.

    Just one simple fact will suffice: it is undeniable that today whenever a Muslim fundamentalist group ascends to power Christians starting running for their lives. Their churches are burned, their families are decimated. Persecution against Christians and other religious minorities is still a fact of life in about 60 countries around the world, the vast majority being those dominated by a radical Islamic ideology.

    Muslims who disagree with this form of Islam are embarrassed. The media is usually cornered into silence for fear of violent retaliation. Muslims in the West who would protest fear for the lives of their loved ones still living in those countries. Blasphemy laws are still prevalent in so many Muslim countries and Christians can be put on trial and get stiff sentences, including death, for any perceived violation of such laws, however small the “offense” might be.

    Some brave miniscule weeklies dare to publish cartoons containing images of Muhammad that   are considered offensive by some in Islam (by the way, some of those pictures are offensive). Though I don’t agree with vacuous provocations, I do think that if no one dares challenge this violent strand of Islam in the media, we will eventually find the muzzle nearer out mouths than we wish.

    Religious people in the U.S. are by now used to having precious symbols of their faiths vilified and trampled upon. Whether it is an “artist” who depicts the Virgin Mary with human feces or a movie about a Jesus Christ who was having an affair with Mary Magdalene, we have grown accustomed to this kind of abuse. We get outraged by this and stage a few anemic protests and meaningless boycotts, but in the end we go home and sleep quietly in our own beds, sad for the insult, but glad that the world didn’t go up in flames and neighbors who disagree can still say “good morning” when the day is new.

    You may not like the system and it certainly is brutal at times for those who chose to believe (and it is brutal as well for those who chose NOT to believe). But in the end, I would rather contend with those who sit behind cameras and keyboards than with those who would make bombs.

    I don’t know about you, but I personally yearn for the day when evil will be no more. Meanwhile, I ask God to give me the ability to understand that the person across the street, though from a different country and a different faith, is not my enemy by default.

    I still have bridges to cross. Thanks for leaving them standing.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Words of Jesus).

  • ivanildotrindade 7:17 pm on September 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: atheist minister, funerals without God, greg epstein, hope of resurrection, losing a baby   

    Funerals Without God 

    A dark night fell on a young couple from our church on Monday. They lost their infant baby girl only 5 days from the delivery date. I was called to the hospital and spent a couple of hours there with this couple and some family members. They asked for me because they knew my wife and I had a similar experience years ago. Our son would be 24 this year in October. Going to that hospital room and feeling the heaviness of that loss brought back so many memories. I am gathering up the strength to do the funeral on Friday, but even through the fragility of it all, I am still confident in the hope of the resurrection which is rooted in the reality of Christ’s resurrection on a Sunday morning outside of Jerusalem.

    Since I am out of ideas for new material today, I went back to something I wrote in 2008. It is much longer than my usual stuff here and a little more “combative,” but I hope you will read it. Here it goes:

    Some time ago I read an article about a 30 year old Harvard Chaplain, Greg Epstein, who is an avowed atheist and an up and coming humanist voice in this world of confused allegiances. Though he is not by any stretch a unanimity among humanists (as he prefers to refer to himself), he is certainly generating a lot of buzz on the blogsphere.

    What caught my attention more than anything in this article, though, was the reporter’s description of funerals without God, which Epstein conducts for those who do not believe. Who would have thought, a man who dares offer comfort in the face of death without a theological framework!

    This article made me think of a chapter in Ravi Zacharias’ Can Man Live Without God? There is a section there titled “Where is Antitheism When it Hurts?” A passage in that section is particularly disturbing. It describes a funeral in which one person in the audience felt utterly disappointed and let down because instead of offering any kind of hope the priest made a political statement about how we need to dedicate more funding to fight certain kinds of diseases, etc.

    The thought of conducting a funeral without God is so preposterous to me that I dared to do something I had never done before — I wrote an atheistic sermon! Before you read on and perhaps think unkind thoughts about my audacity, please, consider this: I’ve yet to see any atheist or agnostic organization flock to a campus, such as Virginia Tech last year, on the aftermath of the terrible shootings that happened there, and offer real hope to a community in search of meaning and solace.

    Now I am not saying this has never been tried before. I am questioning whether it really works. I am saying that when tragedy hits us and our dark hour threatens to engulf us, it is those who have a connection with God, or are perceived to have a connection with God, that are sought after.

    So at the risk of exposing my insanity, I offer atheists a script of what a funeral sermon without God should look like. Obviously, Epstein is not asking for one and his would no doubt be more eloquent than mine. But would it be more truthful?

    I am talking about a sermon that would tell it the way it is, no sugar coating, no empty talk; the is the equivalent of what people in my circles call a “come to Jesus talk,” only in this case it would be more like a “come to nothing” talk.

    This is a sermon without God about the death of a fictional young female called Jane, who died a tragic and unexpected death from cancer and left a couple of kids behind. Her family and a small band of friends are there to hear the “holey” homily. Here is how I imagine it to be. Read it and tell me what you think:

    “I want to thank you for coming this morning. I know we are all overwhelmed and saddened by the sudden death of our beloved Jane. And I know you all came to her funeral because you wanted to honor her memory. But I would be foolish if I didn’t think you also came here in search of some answers. After all, she has just been removed from us. Yesterday she was here, today we are here but she isn’t. Tomorrow we ourselves might be gone. There is some persistent finality in this and we all struggle to make sense of it all.

    Well, as your local atheist minister, I have news for you: Your answers are as good as mine. I would love to be able to tell you that I know where your loved one is now, or even that I believe I know where your loved one is now, but that would be a lie. The truth is, since I don’t believe in life after death, I think this was the end for her. Like a candle that gently burns until its flickering light is no more, such is the fate of all of us mortals. There is no coming back, no “Mommy will be watching us from up there,” no “God called her to his side,” no “Mommy is an angel in heaven now,” talk. Not even “she will come back in another life.”

    The only thing I can say for certain is that Jane is no longer suffering. As we all know, her last days here on earth were of intense suffering. Well, now we should take consolation in the fact that she is no longer in pain. It’s all gone now. Of course, she is gone too and that’s why we should all get mad at a god – if there were only – who permits such dreaded diseases to run rampant in this word.

    And for all of you who might believe something different, I invite you to look at Jane’s body. You look at her and the same beautiful face, the shy smile, the mischievous look, are still there, but we all know Jane is not there. There is no evidence that she went anywhere and all of those who went before her and all of us who will one day follow her – no one has ever come back to tell the story. At least no one that we can irrefutably say was dead has come back.

    I know there are writings about a dead Nazarene carpenter who was supposedly buried for three days and came back to life. But these, along with other ancient stories, are myths our modern minds, enlightened by science, cannot accept as facts. If you, however, insist on believing such things, I respect you, but I would have to keep my children away from you in fear that your fancy ideas might poison their little brains. Nothing personal, though.

    Lest you think that I am only a secular version of a prophet of doom, I would like to say that though we don’t have ultimate answers to the problem of death and we are fairly certain that life as we know it is a product of natural selection, randomly but determinedly working to make us who we are; though we may not know exactly what our purpose here on earth is, and I am reasonably sure that there is nothing unique about this planet we call “earth,” or the humans who live here, in spite of all of this, there is still a multitude of things we can do to honor Jane’s life with all the creative powers that are within each one of us.

    You can go home and hug your children and promise them you will always be there for them, no matter what. We already heard that Jane was such a dedicated mother to her young children and though I can’t say that she is there for them in any physical sense now, there is a sense in which the memory of who she was, her gracious spirit, her generosity, her tireless work for people who were disadvantaged, all of these things will remain with us as long as we live. I know this will be a great source of comfort to her children and to all of us who are, were, her friends.

    I have asked the ushers to hand each of us a freshly cut beautiful white rose from Ecuador. I hope you will take one as you leave this morning. They were Jane’s favorite flowers and their wonderful, exuberant scent reminds us of the new season of Spring which this day is just announcing. It speaks of new beginnings, which death always sort of signifies — at least for the ones who remain living.

    Please, take the flower home with you and care for it for the next few days. I know that just like our life, the flower is going to eventually wither and die. But while you have it, enjoy it, smell it, feed it, and tenderly handle it. We have even included a small flyer explaining how you can make your flower last longer. May this rose be a reminder to all of us that there is still a lot of work to be done, in order to make this world a better place. May we not falter, even if we know we only have a window of time to achieve our goal.

    I hope you will draw strength from the energy found in this beautiful flower. May it remind you of Jane’s beautiful life and may we all resolve to continue her fight to make this world a just and equitable place for all. Perhaps, in doing this, we may find some semblance of meaning here while we await for that inevitable end.”

    There it is. You feel reassured yet? Let me simply say this: I am just glad I will never have to preach it. Better yet: I am delighted I don’t NEED to ever preach it.

    Reverend humanist Epstein: try this one at Virginia Tech or at the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania.

    “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (Jesus Christ).

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 3:33 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: David Letterman, Farrah Fawcett, Freddie, Hollywood, joachin phoenix, Paul Thomas Anderson, Phoenix, the master   

    Joachin Phoenix Still Scares Me 

    Joachin Phoenix is back in the news. The last time I saw him he was stumbling through an interview on the set of the David Letterman show. He looked disoriented, to say the least, to the delight of his host, who sometimes looks for the comic in the tragic. At the end of the interview, with the crowd laughing audibly, Mr. Letterman quipped that they would have to issue an apology to Farrah Fawcett (for her equally confused appearance on his show in 1997).

    Anyway, at that time he was trying to tell David Letterman that he was done with acting. He was now working on becoming a rapper. Well, two years later and still no rapping hit to his name, he is back on the big screen portraying “Freddie” in the movie “The Master,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

    I have not seen the movie nor do I know if I will see it. But from the reviews I have read, it looks like people will soon forget Mr. Phoenix’s performance on the David Letterman show (and even his more bizarre appearance on the “documentary” “I am still here) and will start talking about potentially another Academy nomination for his performance, which is supposed to be brilliant in this movie, which opens this Friday.

    There is a part of me that is happy for Mr. Phoenix. He is certainly a multi-talented actor, deep and little nuanced in his interpretations. He is all in and can be raw talent at times. Everyone seems to agree that he’s got what it takes, so it seems reasonable to assume that he will probably continue to to make great movies. And that is the part that makes me happy.

    But there is also something about him that still scares me. In fact, the director of “The Master” may have said it best, when he was considering him for the part of “Freddie.” He said, “Joachin scares me, in a good way.” Well, I don’t know if the latter part of that statement reflects my sentiment. He just plain scares me… in a serious way.

    I still remember Mr. Phoenix as largely living on the edge. Maybe he walks a fine line between sanity and insanity. But some people would say that is true of all of us, to a certain extent. Or maybe he is still so grief-stricken by the tragic death of his older brother River, also an accomplished actor and musician, who died of an overdose of cocaine and heroine in the early morning hours of October 21, 1993.

    Joachin, his sister Rain, and some other family and friends were present when River collapsed on the sidewalk of a hotel in California. They attempted to revive him, to no avail. How can you possibly forget the pain of such a sudden departure? Mr. Phoenix seems to be a classic representative of a group of young artists whose life early on has been marked by tragedy, addiction, and neglect so deep that it threatens to swallow them up at any moment. They live in a parallel universe, so it seems, between total brilliance and total dejection. At one moment creating prolifically; at another destroying furiously, their art being the only thing that gives them a sense of worth.

    So it is no wonder that Joachin wanted to leave the milieu that so prematurely harvested his brother’s life. It is no surprise he may have wanted a clean break. But now he is back at it and deeply in it.  Can he survive the rush of attention again and find enduring solace for his soul? The are, I believe, some holes in the heart that cannot be completely filled, even with the adulation of the media and fans the world over. There are pains that require so much soul-searching and divine intervention that it would be doubtful (though not impossible) that anyone embracing and breathing the fast pace Hollywood lane can attain.

    I like Mr. Phoenix. I wish him the best. And I don’t mean only on the silver screen. I wish he will find peace and look for help in the right places. I wish his friends will be truthful with him and not simply “leave him be.”

    I hope that in the end Mr. Phoenix will find the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding and that he will be able to come to discover that in his brokenness, he can find healing; in his brilliance, he can find a quiet place for humbly acknowledging that when it comes to matters of the soul, when everything also fails, he must do what the old philosophy professor told his freshman class: “Go to church!”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 9:39 pm on September 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dog mourning, dog sleeps on grave, dogs have souls, , learning from animals, loss, loyal dog, loyal dogs   

    A Dog Teaches a Human an Old Trick 

    There are things neither evolution nor theism can explain. In Argentina a dog named “Capitán” has been sleeping on his former owner’s grave for the last six years. Every night, according to the caretaker of the cemetery, at 6:00 pm sharp, the dog assumes its post and stays there all night.

    No one knows how the dog found the cemetery to begin with since it stayed home on the day of the funeral, but the fact is that after the owner’s passing, the dog found its way through the city of Cordoba until it found the scent identified with the man it once knew. (But didn’t the man already stink, thus emitted a different odor?). Maybe the dog followed the residues of the smell on the clothes of the people who attended the funeral? Or maybe it “talked” to other dogs living nearby? Or maybe the former owner had taken it there on a premonitory trip? Who knows?

    No matter. The dog disappeared shortly after the funeral and the family thought it had been run over. After one week, when they went back to the cemetery, they found the dog keeping vigil on the grave. When it saw them, it emitted sounds that appeared to be the sounds of wailing.

    But that is not all. After returning home for a few days, the dog returned to the cemetery for apparently it could not bear the thought of being that far away from the remains of its owner.

    Now how do you explain that? At the risk of showing my ignorance here, I imagine that evolution would possibly say that it is purely instinctive. But how come other dogs don’t exhibit such signs of loyalty? And what “advantages” for the survival of the species would this behavior bring? Theologians would have nothing to say. After all, for so many of them dogs don’t even have a soul. But how can you be so loyal without a soul?

    I don’t know what to say either, but here is what I have learned from “Capitán”:

    1. There are some bonds that transcend the grave. I find in this story some indirect evidence that there is something in all beings that is intangible but real — some kind of a “soul connection” that apparently even animals can feel. This should give pause to those who believe that the material is all there is.

    2. Dogs have this almost innate ability to know who their owner is. In a home with several people, how do dogs know who their real “papa” is? Is it related to how much love and care they receive or do they simply “pick” someone? And is this knack for branding only innate to animals? I once heard someone say “I am a fool for Jesus, whose fool are you?” Is it true that someone always has our heart or is there someone out there whose lord is only herself?

    3. Grief is the deepest, most heartbreaking feeling anyone can ever experience. It’s been with us as long as humans have been around. If a dog can express its sadness over separation from a human, imagine what this sort of tear of the soul can do to a human being… Never underestimate the power of a loss. That is why I personally am happy that for me there is hope beyond the grave.

    I never knew a dog could teach me lessons, but today I take my hats off to “Oh Captain, my captain,” faithful in life, loyal in death. Long live el “Capitán”!

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 8:29 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , democratic platform, in god we trust, , taking god out   

    The Democratic Convention — putting God back where He doesn’t belong! 

    God has been rejected, mocked, laughed at, discarded, even killed. This week He was removed. Now, if they removed God from the dollar bills it would there would be an uproar. If they removed Him from the Bible, it would start a religious war. If they removed Him from their lives, it would be a matter of choice. People do that every day. But removing Him from a Political Party Platform, you would think nobody would care, but you would be wrong.

    It took an act of God to put God back in the Democratic Party political platform. L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa, the poor guy presiding the vote, had to ask it three times. He looked befuddled. He wanted to call his mama and might have possibly done some liquid (or worse) damage to his pants. In the end, the opinion of the chair had to coincide with the opinion of the man sitting in the Oval Office. I can only imagine the frantic phone call that originated from the White House the day before: “I don’t care what it takes — put God back where He doesn’t belong!”

    God has a way of scoffing at His critics. In the 60’s they declared him dead. It turns out the rumors of his demise were a little premature.  Richard Dawkins took 300 pages to call God a “delusion.” If he is correct, then all the Democrats are delusional for squabbling over a delusional thought. Christopher Hitchens said God was not great but if he was right there should be no offense leaving him out of a great political party platform. Non-greatness does not belong with greatness, so why mess with a good thing?

    Whether you like this or not, somebody tried to remove the word “God” from the document that would guide the Democratic Party for the next four years. Just so you know, I can care less whether God is in or out of a political party document. It is meaningless because those documents have no teeth, no real relevance, no force of law.

    But if there is a lesson to learn it is that you don’t mess with God. “The one who sits in heaven laughs,” the Psalmist said. And so the comedians in heaven had a field day. “God is out, God is in. Wait, almost in, yes in; but no one knows for sure.”

    So the next time anyone tries to remove God from a meaningless political document, think again. Mess with the 10 commandments, take prayer out of the public schools, take the Christ out of Christmas but by God, don’t ever ever try to remove Him from the Democratic Platform. God is watching and He is keeping score!

    God 1. Fringe Democrats 0.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • stanchaz 9:08 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The Democrats do not need to “restore” God.
      For unlike Republican hypocrites, they LIVE their values. Honestly.
      The Republicans real god is MONEY, and THEIR saints are those
      who have LOTS of it….and want it ALL.
      Those Republicans who would destroy Social Security & voucher Medicare to death,
      who would cut Pell grants, and who readily admit they “don’t care about the very poor”
      should stop, remember, and take to heart the ancient words so relevant for today:
      “Whatsoever you do for the least of these – you do for me”.
      There is God in each of us. And that is why we are bound to each other.
      If we do not believe that, and act upon that – then we are lost.
      As the Catholic Bishops agreed : The politics of Romney/Ryan masquerades as values
      …while harming those who are most at risk.
      Their proposed agenda does not praise God – it mocks God, it defiles God. And man…

      • ivanildotrindade 10:10 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        u r entitled to your opinion,my friend, and i am entitled to let u voice it here. what this country needs is not partisanship, it is cooperation around common themes, especially the theme of helping the “least of these.” and on this score, both parties are failing.

      • Bob & Linda 6:13 pm on September 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        God is surely watching, and probably laughing especially at how we go off the deep end with some of our political opinions. And you weren’t even trying to voice one. 🙂

        • ivanildotrindade 11:50 pm on September 13, 2012 Permalink

          thanks for the comment, bob. yes, my blog is NOT political even if i muse about politics here.

    • Ted Beaver 9:40 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      They also removed their support of Israel, but failed to put that back in, which I find troubling, but not surprising for this administration.

      • ivanildotrindade 10:01 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks, ted, for your comment. we will see if this will have any effect on the election in november.

    • Harold Stoltzfus 10:27 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The kingdom of darkness (this world) never understands and never gets it right.
      Thanks for this good reflection.

      • ivanildotrindade 10:56 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        thanks, harold, for commenting. we are living in interesting times for sure. take care.

  • ivanildotrindade 6:17 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alessandro Zanardi, Alex Zanardi, clinton's speech, feel good story, good news, handbiking, human triumph, london paralympics, Zanardi, zanardi's crash   

    Need Some Good News? 

    This has been a rough day for me so I am in desperate need of some good news. No, I am not referring to a political speech, even one as masterful as the one delivered by Mr. Clinton, “the communicator,” last night. I need some feel good story. How about three?


    Let’s start with Luz Milagros, the little girl who at birth was declared dead by her doctors in Argentina, only to be found alive by her parents in the hospital morgue 12 hours later. Today, she is safely home with her four brothers and sisters, to continue her recuperation. But she is in a home that is especially equipped with medical equipment to help her and 24-7 help from doctors. The little girl, who was born at six months and “dead” on arrival, does honor to her name — Luz (“light”) Milagros (“miracles”). Read the story here in Spanish.


    Give it up to Wyatt Earber, the 8-year-old who set out to win a scavenger hunt in his community with the express purpose of helping 2-year-old Cara Kielty, who lives on his street and was diagnosed with leukemia back in May. He happened to win the $1,000.00 and donated the money to help pay for Cara’s cancer treatment. Read the story here.

    I wonder what would happen if more parents raised this kind of child? I mean, you have to credit the parents when a child so young turns out so generous. In this and age of dysfunctional families, it is always so inspiring to hear stories of those who are breaking the mold. I want to emulate little Wyatt.


    Finally, from the world of sports: Italian ex-F-1 pilot, Alessandro Zanardi, who had a horrific crash during a race in 2001, and as a result had to have both legs amputated and went through a brutal rehab and recuperation period, just reappeared in the world of competitive sports in the last couple of days. He rose to the top again, winning a gold medal in the London Paralympics in the sport of Handbike. Read the story in Portuguese here.

    Mr. Zanardi, who also returned to car racing from 2003 to 2009, remarked that he is truly a lucky man. Thinking about the London competition ahead, he quipped, “It can’t be that bad. At least I can’t break my legs again.” My tribute to Alessandro, for his great courage and inspiration. I wouldn’t ever want to face the kind of adversity he had to face, but if I do, I hope I would have the metal to eventually be able to say, “I am a blessed man.”

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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