Making Dallas Even Better
Over the weekend, I got an email from Deion Sanders inviting me to church. The subject line of the email read: “You’re VIP | Sunday at Kingdom War Church | Downtown Dallas, TX.” The content of the email was a crazy GeoCities mishmash of images of Deion at church, invitations to join him, and, well, other stuff. After studying this email for three hours, I have been able to determine the following:Full Story
MegaFest 2015 officially kicked off today in Klyde Warren Park. Half family atmosphere — kids splashing and playing in the kids’ park, people getting food from the Thursday food trucks, and an Elsa impersonator wandering around — and half official, the kickoff served to welcome those who had traveled to Dallas for the event. The morning felt not so much like an event itself, as hype for the weekend ahead. And hype there was.Full Story
Take a few minutes to watch this segment, below, of HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. Not only does it feature some Brett Shipp reporting on Kenneth Copeland from way back in 2007, but it will catch you up with the current status of Robert Tilton, who turns out to be a pen pal of John Oliver’s. It was all produced with help from Dallas’ own Trinity Foundation.Full Story
The tweet you see below showed up in my feed this morning not because I follow First Baptist but because the church paid to have it promoted. The tweet is an ad for a new series of sermons by Robert Jeffress titled “Countdown to the Apocalypse: Why ISIS and Iran Are Only the Beginning.” Judging from the responses to the tweet (click the time stamp to read them), the church’s money was not well-spent.Full Story
In the paper today, Avi Selk has a lengthy story about some anti-Muslim foolishness going on in Irving. It centers on a religious tribunal that is supposedly going to usurp the U.S. Constitution and ruin America. (I’m exaggerating only a little bit.) Last night, the City Council voted 5-4 to support a bill authored by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) that would forbid such tribunals from using foreign law in their rulings (which is already illegal).
I wrote about all this for the April issue of D Magazine, which won’t mail to subscribers for another three days. So I’m posting the article here. Before I wrote my story, I spent some time with Imam Zia ul-Haque Sheikh, the head of the Islamic Center of Irving and a man who has far more patience and compassion than I do. For your edification:Full Story
One day when I was 7 and in elementary school, the apartment building where I lived burned down. The fire was started when the kid who lived upstairs was playing with matches, and it spread fast. We lost just about everything: clothes, furniture, even the dishes in the cabinets. All of my toys and video games were gone, and the few stuffed animals my mom tried to save were singed and smelled like smoke for years. I can still remember seeing my little piggy bank, melted into a strange new shape, with the small amount of money I’d collected sealed inside forever.
There were a lot of groups that helped us, including several churches and some of the teachers at school. But no organization helped more than Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange, better known as GRACE. They helped with food and clothing and furniture and dishes and, the thing that fixed most permanently in my 7-year-old brain: toys. Nothing grand, but when you have nothing, anything is great. And they gave me a new (to me) piggy bank.
I mention all of this because now GRACE needs help. Last week two men started a fire that destroyed the donation center, took out months worth of donations, and caused more than $75,000 in damages. Grapevine Craft Brewery (maker of the controversially delicious Sir William’s English Brown Ale) has already stepped in to help raise funds. (With beer!) But they need more help. There’s an event this Saturday at the GRACE facility in Grapevine, where you can drink beer, eat barbecue, and listen to music, all while helping an organization that has helped a lot of people. You can also donate through this GoFundMe page.Full Story
You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
The American Family Association is not known for its sense of humor, to say the least (Google tries to autofill a search for the organization with “american family association hate group”). So it is with a complete lack of surprise that we report that the AFA is not altogether thrilled with RadioShack’s latest, somewhat sexually charged ad campaign.
“The RadioShack ads are immature, juvenile, and downright distasteful,” the AFA said in a release. Which, honestly, is the best part and how I assume — or hope, I guess — the agency pitched the campaign.Full Story
I’m afraid I’m now being kept in the Seagoville federal prison Special Housing Unit, or SHU, known more informally as “segregation” and even more informally as “the hole.” Several of my fellow jail unit inmates and I were brought here in the wake of a June 17 incident that the Department of Justice is billing as a “semi-disturbance” for which we are to be investigated and perhaps punished — though not necessarily in that order. One awaits one’s disciplinary hearing in the hole, and if one if found guilty, one is sentenced to … the hole. More than a week after being confined, I’ve yet to even be charged with an infraction.Full Story
The other day I was holding forth to one of my fellow inmates about the perfidy of the federal justice system and what have you, noting that the great majority of its “offenders” are guilty of nothing more than consensual crimes like selling drugs and crossing national borders.
“Yeah, they shouldn’t be going after the drug dealers, but they have to crack down on these illegals because they’re wreaking havoc on the economy,” said the inmate who robs armored cars for a living.Full Story
Politico Magazine has a fascinating story on the rise of the Religious Right and its true origins. Contrary to popular belief, the movement’s genesis isn’t Roe v. Wade — it’s Green v. Connally. A year after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion, the Southern Baptist Convention affirmed its commitment “to work(ing) for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”
None other than W.A. Criswell, First Baptist Dallas’ pastor, Robert Jeffress’ mentor, and a former president of the Convention, said, “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”Full Story
Shortly after I was transferred from the notoriously low-end Mansfield Law Enforcement Center jail unit over here to the posh Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution, which I’m now privileged to call home, I met my new fellow prisoner Sam Hurd, the Dallas Cowboy who had run afoul of the law, or at least the most recent Dallas Cowboy to run afoul of the law — unless yet another one has been arrested in the last few months, which, come to think of it, is more likely than not.Full Story
Sitting down to write about Son of God, I feel like a guy on YouTube reviewing frozen dinners. That is to say, I’m pretty sure I’m wasting my time. Everybody already knows what to expect from a microwaved meal, don’t they? They have their purpose in the marketplace: unremarkable, serviceable, with a built-in fan base that doesn’t care whether the Salisbury steak is particularly tasty. They just want something to satisfy their hunger.
And so it is with too much of today’s evangelical Christian entertainment. That’s a real shame given how much superb art has been inspired by the life of Jesus Christ. His is an awe-inspiring story, whether you’re a believer or not. If you are, then it goes this way: God becomes a flesh-and-blood man, sacrifices himself to redeem the sinfulness of mankind, and opens the gates of heaven through a new covenant with his people. If you’re not, it’s: a fellow of humble origins, preaching peace and love for all mankind, is brutally killed by the powerful elite and through his death transforms the world for millennia.Full Story
Can Wendy Davis Have it All? The New York Times Magazine is asking this rather stale question in its perhaps now-definitive profile of the Fort Worth-based governor hopeful. Also interesting: The photographer who took the cover shot and the behind-the-scenes Q&A with writer Robert Draper.
Dallas Woman Fighting to Get “Revenge Porn” Removed From the Internet. This case seems a touch different from the rest, in which people send their x-rated pics to whomever and then are dumbfounded when they end up on the Internet. In this instance, “Lisa” (the Dallas Morning News respected her wishes not to be identified) says she didn’t know the pics were taken (?) and is in the midst of a costly fight to keep her ex at bay and get the images removed. This sounds awful. But two questions: 1. She’s contemplating paying $2,000 to ripoffreport.com to get personal details removed. What does this have to do with the revenge porn? 2. If the ex hasn’t been charged with the crime, why is his name used throughout the story?
Health Department Skipped Some Stops at DFW Airport. NBC 5 is reporting that because of the West Nile virus, some 30 restaurants went more than a year without required inspections. Health inspectors are supposed to visit twice a year, but they were out spraying for mosquitoes instead. Now, I’m sure, we’ll all get the joy of hearing what restaurants have moldy ice buckets in the near future.
T.D. Jakes Battling a Stalker. Karleisha Tarver, also known as Karleisha Washington in Dallas County Jail records, will not stop showing up at The Potter’s House churches in Dallas and Fort Worth, where she has been “excommunicated,” and Jakes’ Fort Worth home, where she is clearly not welcome. She allegedly appeared at his door four times alone in January. The unwelcome appearances started in 2011.Full Story
Where In The World Is District Attorney Susan Hawk? That is currently the burning question around the Frank Crowley Courts Building. She’s been off the clock and out of pocket since August 3, and no one is really saying what’s up. Maybe it’s just a normal vacation, but there is a lot of uncertainty even within her own office. Apparently, she is supposed to be back to her normal schedule — abruptly firing people, making odd public statements, and instilling a culture of paranoia — this week.
Rangers Win Third Straight, Nine of 11. Cole Hamels won, keeping the team in possession of the second wild card spot and leaving me dangerously close to watching a game. (I didn’t watch this one.) Also, over the weekend, Adrian Beltre did this.
TERRIBLE Doctor Will Not Have Bail Reduced. According to authorities, Christopher Duntsch “intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly” injured four patients and killed another during botched spinal surgeries, for which he was later arrested. At a hearing Friday, Duntsch was trying to have his bond lowered from $600,000. One reason that won’t happen? This 2011 email to an employee:“I am ready to leave the love and kindness and goodness and patience that I mix with everything else that I am and become a cold blooded killer.” I mean, what would even be the context for that? “Here is my upcoming schedule. Here is an update about the new parking situation. Oh, and here is a quick note about my goal to become evil. Dictated but not read, Dr. D.”
Megafest Wraps Up With ‘Raucous’ Service At the AAC. Bishop T.D. Jakes couldn’t make it because of an “eye issue,” but it didn’t seem like the attendees minded much.
The Ongoing Saga of Sam Rader, Christian Vlogger. I hadn’t heard of Sam Rader until a couple of weeks ago, when the YouTube clip of him surprising his wife with a positive pregnancy test went viral. Apparently, Sam and his wife Nia (who live in Terrell) have something of a following. Anyway, a couple of days after that was another viral clip, wherein the couple announced Nia’s miscarriage. Then people started to maybe suspect it was all made up. Then last week, after the Ashley Madison hack, it was revealed that Sam had a paid account with “Uber, but for affairs.” And now, over the weekend, Sam was kicked out of Vlogger Fair in Seattle, allegedly for threatening violence against another attendee. I wish I didn’t know about any of this. But because I have to, you do, too.
The D.O.C. Has His Voice Back. The Dallas rap legend released one of the best hip-hop debut albums ever, 1989’s Dr. Dre-produced No One Can Do It Better. (Maybe use headphones if you click that link.) Not long after, he crushed his larynx in a drunk-driving accident, leaving him with a whispery croak. Since then, he’s written rhymes for Dre and Snoop Dogg, among others, and of late has been mentoring Garland’s own Justin Mohrle, aka Justus. Over the weekend, he tweeted that his once-commanding voice has, at long last, come back. I don’t know what happens now. But it would be great to hear him do his thing for real again, at least one more time.Full Story
A Pew Research study of America’s religious landscape shows that of the country’s largest metropolitan areas by population, Dallas-Fort Worth has the largest percentage of people (78 percent) who identify as Christian and the fewest people who claim no religious affiliation (18 percent). Also we’ve got the most evangelical Christians (38 percent), plus the least Catholics (15 percent) anywhere other than Atlanta.
Of course, it’s another matter all together asking how many of those folks you’re actually going to see at church this Sunday.Full Story
So reports the BBC about the Islamic terrorist organization that controls parts of Syria and Iraq:
It said that “two soldiers of the caliphate” carried out the attack at a conference centre near Dallas.
IS’s al-Bayan Radio news bulletin said the exhibition “was portraying negative pictures of the Prophet Muhammad”.
Both suspects were shot dead after opening fire at the contest on Sunday.
Correspondents say that it is believed to be the first time that IS has claimed to have carried out an attack in the US.
Of course, ISIS (or ISIL, or IS, or whatever you want to call them) might just be opportunistically taking credit for an operation it had nothing to do with. Does this news change how safe you feel from terrorist attacks?Full Story
Utah has found a simple formula to end chronic homelessness in the state. When you added up expenses like shelters, emergency room visits, jails, and other support services, the combined cost of caring for the chronically homeless can be anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 per person per year. However, if you just give a chronically homeless person a place to live, the cost of caring for them drops to around $10,000 or $12,000 per year. So, after looking at that simple math and doing some trial runs, the state went all-in with its Housing First Program. The idea is so simple, but so anachronistic when compared to how we have traditionally treated homelessness, that it seems at first like it couldn’t work. But it has. Utah cut its chronically homeless population by 72 percent in the past nine years.Full Story
Muslim Conference In Garland Draws Protesters. The conference, held at a facility operated by Garland ISD, was put on by Sound Vision, a Chicago-based Islamic organization. Per NBC, it was met by thousands of protesters and counter-protesters. The title of the conference was “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate.” Meanwhile, the prize for Most Predictable Use of Craft Supplies went to the white lady in the hideous sweater with the “Go Home and Take Obama With You” sign.
Dallas Safari Club Will No Longer Auction Off The Chance To Kill An African Elephant. The donor of the hunt withdrew the gift to the club, and therefore, murdering one of this planet’s largest animals for fun is off the table. However! You can still try for the chance to spend 14 expensive days in Mozambique attempting to kill an adult male leopard.
A Painful Cinematic Pun Happened In The Headline Of This Article. Also, the Lakewood Theater might become an Alamo Drafthouse. Alamo Drafthouses in Dallas are basically useless to me unless Rob Thomas promises to bring the cast of his next TV project, whatever that is, to one, so I have no opinion on this tidbit.
Another Earthquake in Irving. Speaking of places with an Alamo Drafthouse, there was one of those little earth wigglers on Saturday. A 2.2. How cute.
American Sniper Is Breaking MLK Weekend Box Office Records. The movie, which is based on Texas sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir and has inspired mostly ambivalent-to-blistering reviews, has made more than $90 million in its first weekend in wide release. That’s a lot for an R-rated drama, and a lot for a movie set in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s also a lot for a Clint Eastwood film, believe it or not. I haven’t seen it, but I have read Michael Mooney’s story about the man. Anyway, happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody. I think I’ll go see Selma.Full Story
It’s hard not to have a visceral reaction to reading about what Dena Schlosser did to her own child one morning in 2004. While the sound of hymns filled her Plano apartment, she went to the kitchen, got out a 9-inch knife, walked to baby Maggie’s crib, and cut off her daughter’s arms.
She believed that God wanted her and Maggie to go to heaven.
In his June 2006 article, one of the 40 greatest stories ever published in D Magazine, Paul Kix wrote about the church at which Schlosser worshipped — Water of Life in Plano — and of the domineering pastor whose influence, particularly in pushing for prayer rather than medication and blaming mental illness on demonic possession, may have contributed to a worsening of the postpartum psychosis Schlosser was suffering at the time of her crime.Full Story
Perry is clearly setting himself up for another presidential run, but you already knew that.Full Story
In 1982, George Rodrigue — now managing editor of the Dallas Morning News — told of Terri Hoffman, a self-styled spiritual adviser whose followers had a habit of dying shortly after leaving their estates to her. But the mysterious deaths among those involved with Hoffman’s Conscious Development movement were just getting started.Full Story
This week in our ongoing 40th anniversary victory lap, featuring the 40 greatest stories ever told in the pages of D Magazine, we have muckraker Ole Anthony of East Dallas’ Trinity Foundation giving that old-time religion to the guy behind Monstervision.
John Bloom, who has performed for years in the guise of redneck movie reviewer Joe Bob Briggs, wrote in the December 1999 issue of D Magazine of his long relationship with Anthony, which began when the two of them worked (and in the case of Anthony, lived) in the same Oak Lawn office building in the late 1970s.Full Story
As the Raw Story notes, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, GOP rock star Rafael Cruz, explained to a crowd in Massachusetts on Friday that the Bible outlines four qualifications for leaders: “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.”
So there you have it: Vote King Solomon, 2016Full Story
With Pope Francis calling on the leaders of his flock to give up their luxuries, Rodger Jones over at the DMN got the smart idea to ask the Dallas Diocese where Bishop Kevin Farrell lives and what sort of wheels he drives. A spokeswoman for the bishop said that he lives in a donated house near Midway and Walnut Hill and that the purchase price was $1.2 million. He uses it for fundraising events, she offered by way of explanation for why a bachelor would need a 6,100-square-foot house with nearly 1,000 square feet of garage space. The spokeswoman said Bishop Farrell drives a Toyota Avalon that’s about four years old. I’m not going to judge the digs, but I was curious to see them, and I wondered why Jones didn’t provide a pic. So I tracked the place down. He’s got a turret! How very North Dallas.Full Story
Philadelphia Daily News has a story today about James Brzyski, a priest who was defrocked due to his sexual abuse of 17 boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Until last month he was living in an apartment complex in Oak Lawn.
At first his neighbors accepted his backstory of being a friendly retired Xerox employee when he moved there in October 2012, but they became suspicious after they saw him playing with young boys in the pool. He also bragged to them about going online to find males who looked underage, and that he liked “fat boys.”Full Story