Information Pack for Journalists: James Ray’s 26 Favorite Excuses

April 25, 2016

Journalists are often confused by the James Ray “sweat lodge deaths” case. This doesn’t surprise me, although the case is in fact extremely easy to understand —

Ray, a failed self-help teacher, deliberately tried to cook people to within an inch of their lives, to induce the onset of heat stroke, in order to make them feel they were experiencing an altered mental state. 

He did not care about the dangers and did not stop the ceremony despite people screaming that they were having a heart attack, or telling him that people had stopped breathing. People could not leave because the sides of the tent were secured, it was pitch black and impossibly cramped, there was a pit of burning hot rocks preventing people from moving in the dark, and Ray controlled the only exit.

ray guilty

Ray reacts to being found guilty of 3 counts of homicide (screenshot, CNN)

The thing that always confuses journalists is How the hell could anyone be so stupid as to risk killing their own customers? Surely that can’t be what happened. The easier narrative is, well, whatever Ray says it is.

As covered in the previous posts, journalists want an easy life, and Ray has good media connections — CNN still loves him, so if they help him kick start his career again, he’ll owe them. That’s why they refuse to interview the families of his victims, and won’t question his highly absurd account of his role in four deaths and eventual criminal conviction. All they want to show is the two faces of Ray: the leering, superficial smile of the classical psychopath, and the sad faced “poor me” pose of the classical psychopath.

….So, to make it easier for journalists to present him as the victim, here’s my fantastic list of–

Ray’s Top 26 Excuses For Why He should Not Have Been Convicted

(Carefully selected from nearly 7 years of quality lying and professional distortions!)

And here they are….in order of appearance…..

Excuse 1: “The event was a success, despite some people having taken ill”
Reality: This was Ray’s email to his mailing list a few hours after the event. Two of his customers had already died in front of him, and two dozen more had been rushed to hospital, some not expected to survive the night. At that point, Ray was still betting on being able to hush it all up, like he did Colleen Conaway’s death two months earlier. He had already contacted his lawyers.

Excuse 2: “It was Ted” (Ray to Sgt. Barbaro, when asked who was in charge of the sweat lodge)
Reality: Ted is a local who was roped in to Ray’s event to be fire keeper for Ray’s bogus sweat lodge. He ultimately saved lives by pulling unconscious people out of the heat tent and performing CPR, while Ray went back to his cabin to have a shower. When Sgt Barbaro of the Yavapai Police eventually found him, Ray claimed it was “Ted” who had been leading the sweat lodge, not him. It was one of Ray’s less intelligent and less successful lies. It eventually formed part of his fulfillment of the manslaughter statute: mens rea — consciousness of giult.

ted m 2Ted M., fire keeper and impromptu saver of lives, gives testimony at Ray’s trial. Ray lied to police that it was Ted who was in charge of the deadly sweat lodge. (Screenshot from CNN)

Sgt Barbaro also noted in his report:

“James [Ray]… was up at the main building eating dinner. I thought this was interesting since EMS was airlifting and transporting [seriously injured] subjects at this time.”

Excuse 3: “Holding a sweat lodge, by itself, is not a criminally negligent act” (Defense lawyers, Dec 1 2009)
Reality: It is true, as Ray’s $5 million lawyers pointed out in their letter to prosecutors, that people have died from hyperthermia in sweat lodges before, and this has never before been prosecuted. They didn’t use this line of argument in the trial though, because, and they later discovered, there had already been life threatening incidents in Ray’s previous lodges.

Excuse 4: “Ray conducted numerous other sweat lodges at this location without serious incident.” (Defense lawyers, Dec 1 2009)
Reality: They used this excuse to argue it was a “tragic accident”. However at that time they were probably still operating on Ray’s version of reality, and didn’t realize that he’d been a reckless idiot while running previous sweat lodges as well. They wound up having to pull every trick in the book to get any mention of previous sweat lodges excluded from evidence in court.

Excuse 5: “Ray could not have foreseen sweat lodge consequences even remotely close to what occurred here.” (Defense lawyers, Dec 1 2009)
Reality: See above. Again, they didn’t argue this in court, as that would have required evidence from previous sweat lodges, which, would have shown he had already nearly killed people. Had the jury known this, they would have convicted him of manslaughter instead of the lesser homicide charges.

Excuse 6: Participants signed a waiver saying they understood that the event could “lead to serious injury, including death” (Defense lawyers, Dec 1 2009)
Reality: Just because you get someone to sign a waiver that says you might kill them, it doesn’t mean you can kill them, and not be criminally prosecuted. That’s just not how it works. Moreover, most waivers are for things like, if you trip over and hit your head you won’t sue the event leader. It doesn’t cover reckless manslaughter. Honestly.

Ray’s waiver would have needed to have said:

I, ______________ understand that Mr Ray will try to cook me to within an inch of my life, may lie to me about his qualifications, training and experience, may lie to me about the risks, may not monitor anyone’s safety, may not call emergency services despite having a cell phone right there. I understand I might need to save the lives of other participants because Mr Ray does not feel responsible for the event. I understand that the money I paid Ray may be used to hire private investigators to pursue me, and expensive lawyers to attack and humiliate me in court if he winds up on manslaughter charges. Signed _________________.

Excuse 7: The deaths were caused by organophosphate poisoning not heat stroke.
Reality: No evidence for this whatsoever, but the defense spent several months ranting about it every day.
Excuse 8: The deaths were caused by rat poison not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 9: The deaths were caused by ant poison not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 10: The deaths were caused by weed killer not heat stroke.
Reality: See above
Excuse 11: The deaths were caused by tainted water not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 12: The deaths were caused by tainted fruit not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 13: The deaths were caused by fruit with flies on it not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 14: The deaths were caused by soil with pesticides not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 15: The deaths were caused by the tarps not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 16: The deaths were caused by the wood not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 17: The deaths were caused by the wrong wood not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 18: The deaths were caused by the wood with nails not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 19: The deaths were caused by the wood without nails not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 20: The deaths were caused by treated wood not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 21: The deaths were caused by pressure treated wood not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.
Excuse 22: The deaths were caused by wood sealer not heat stroke.
Reality: See above.

The jury didn’t buy any of this even for a minute, but the court of public opinion is far more lenient. I predict that soon Ray will be saying: “And you know what? In fact the doctors couldn’t even determine the cause of death. It might have been — .”

Excuse 23: “I saw myself like a trainer, training people for a marathon: it was an endurance event.”
Reality: Not a bad try, this one. This is at least something what participants were expecting from him. But, if a marathon trainer had three people die and two dozen hospitalized in the same event, he would expect to face a serious criminal investigation, and would be expected to appear remorseful. And if it turned out that his clients had not been told that they were about to run a marathon, had been deliberately exhausted and deprived of food and water for the preceding 36 hours, it would look worse. And if he had instructed them to ignore physical warning signs, and assured them that they would be monitored by his staff — and they were in fact not safe, and were not monitored, it would look worse still. And if he had informed them that he had run marathons before himself — but hadn’t; and had told them he had trained with experts– but hadn’t; and if he had told them it was a normal event and many people do this all the time — and it wasn’t; then he would expect to face prosecution.

Excuse 24: “If I had heard any cries of distress I would have stopped the sweat lodge immediately”
Reality: First, it was not a sweat lodge, but a fake sweat lodge (and he lied about being trained by Lakota people). Second, his defense lawyers used this excuse initially, and then dropped as soon as they saw the witness statements, with multiple eye witnesses saying the heard Ray respond to cries of distress by saying he would “deal with her later” (victim Kirby Brown) and, “Not breathing? Leave her, she knows what she’s doing” (victim Liz Neuman). Ray is using this excuse again, but even his own defense lawyers thought it was too big a lie to try out in court.

Excuse 25: “The participants were free to leave”
Reality: It is true that participants could leave between rounds when the flap was open, but it is impossible to leave when unconscious, and all had been instructed to go over their personal boundaries and to trust that Ray and his staff would keep them safe. Ray explicitly instructed them to ignore the warning symptoms for the onset of heat stroke: delusional thinking and loss of consciousness.

Excuse 26: There was a doctor “sitting right next to” people who died, but did nothing to save them.
Reality: Lie. A rather large lie, in fact, even by Ray’s standards. Having a paying participant who happens to be a doctor but is as incapacitated as everyone else does not really count as an alibi. So it’s back to “Ted did it”, I guess.

Ultimately all these fine excuses point to other people being responsible for the deaths: the fire keeper; the ants; the people who ran the retreat center; the people who worked for the people who ran the retreat center; the victims themselves; the participants who didn’t do enough to look after the other participants; Ray’s culpable “doctor”; the investigators who didn’t test for every conceivable poison that might have been present in the USA in the early part of the 21st Century….

The only person Ray has never nabbed as the culprit is himself. Participant James Shore, after having saved several lives, died trying to save another. Luckily for Ray, participants realized that Ray was not in control of the of the situation and despite suffering from the onset of heat stroke, managed to rescue other people. There could have been half a dozen deaths, otherwise. They saved each other, and they saved Ray from facing extra manslaughter charges and extra years in jail. In gratitude, he fought them in court and set his $5 million attack lawyers onto them to humiliate them in court.

Posted by Yakaru


Lying For Death Ray Pt 3 – New lies: now a doctor is responsible for Ray’s crimes!

April 24, 2016

I really don’t expect journalists to understand complicated details of difficult court cases. But I do expect them to exercise caution when interviewing convicted criminals about the crimes they committed. This is especially important in Ray’s case, as it was the media who gave him a platform for softball, self promotional interviews. Four deaths later, and they are still queuing up for round five. Three homicide convictions hasn’t convinced any of them that maybe they should be a little more careful before jumping into bed with him.

The previous post dealt with so new lies about the death of Colleen Conaway. Lizzie Crocker interviewed Ray and asked him about it — good move for a journalist… but didn’t consider the possibility that his might be a lie — really, a bit dumb, given she already knows about the multiple homicide convictions.

I am going through her article in detail, partly demonstrate how quickly this crook can send a journalist off the rails. If you simply take dictation from this fellow like Lizzie Crocker has done, he will play you for a fool, and use you to blame the victims and insult the dead.

Crocker’s article continues:

Read the rest of this entry »


Lying for Death Ray Part 2 — Cover up of Colleen Conaway’s death continues

April 24, 2016

In the previous post, I got about half way through Lizzie Crocker’s atrocious parroting of the deadly spiritual teacher James Ray’s lies.

Here’s a tip for anyone — journalist, fake journalist, customer — about listening to James Ray: He is not someone who tells the truth. Not a word. It just doesn’t happen. Ray only has two modes:

(1) Advance grinning and spouting lies (teachings, manipulative statements);

(2) retreat, protesting innocence and claiming to the be the victim, while lying and covering tracks.

It is truly difficult for people to believe he is so dangerous, so deceitful, and above all, so utterly and shockingly stupid that he was prepared to risk killing his own customers. But that is exactly what the jury found him guilty of — and they didn’t know the half of it! (Because Ray’s $5 million law team prevented them from hearing the rest… If the facts are really the way Lizzie Crocker presents them, then why did Ray’s lawyers try so hard to keep all mention of such details out of court?)

James Ray is a walking demonstration of the complete lack of standards and ethics in the self-help industry, the total lack of consumer protection, and the reflexive habit of many to hold “spiritual teachers” to far lower standards than they hold anyone else to. Skepticism and deliberate inquiry can be some protection against this, if people are lucky enough to have discovered that it’s necessary. But anyone can be conned — con artists trigger responses in people, that are safe and normal nearly all the time. They exploit loopholes in social customs and weak points in normal social interactions. A skilled con artist can make otherwise secure people feel helpless and insecure. And in that state, people naturally tend to be more trusting and to take risks they normally would not take.

People who were lucky enough to recognize the red flags around James Ray usually make one of two choices. Either:

(a) Get out and warn others; or

(b) Say “Oh well, that’s business, and I might get rich if I kinda sidle up to him nicely.”

Crocker may have chosen some version option (b), but doesn’t seem to have woken up to how extreme and unusual Ray’s behavior has been, or how easily his lies can be exposed today simply by spending 5 seconds on google. We have seen her support Ray through phase 1 (“he still wants to help people”), and 2 (“tragic accident”). In this post, we get some new lies from Ray about his involvement in the horribly sad death of Ray’s first victim, Colleen Conaway, all dutifully reported as fact by his new journalistic chump. (By “lies” I mean, demonstrably false statements that contradict well known and easily confirmed facts, both from direct evidence, and police records.)

Crocker’s train wreck of an article continues:
Read the rest of this entry »


Lying for Death Ray – Crappy PR for James Ray presented as journalism (Part 1)

April 23, 2016

This is a long post and it probably won’t interest all that many people, so I’ve put it below the fold.

Enter failed self-help teacher and deadly criminal, James Ray.

Enter struggling film maker Jenny Carchman, and struggling journalist Lizzie Crocker….

Read the rest of this entry »


From a Theologian in 1909: Stop Deceiving Children About Science

March 18, 2016

I recently found an old book in a second-hand bookshop here in Berlin, entitled Darwin: His Meaning for Our Worldview and Values. It’s a small collection of essays by scientists and academics, and was published in 1909 — 50 years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, and 49 years after it appeared in translation in Germany. The essay that struck me most was written by a theologian called Friedrich Naumann. (Biographical details at the end of this post.)

Warenhaus A. Weiss, Schöneberg, 1907. Das Haus steht noch und ist ein lohnendes Objekt um die Verschandelung von Bauwerken zu studieren.

Schöneberg, Berlin, 1907 (source)

Naumann begins by noting that although religious people don’t usually accept evolution, they do concede that Darwin was a decent fellow who was sincerely seeking the truth. This is already a stark contrast to today where the religious frequently hold Darwin more or less to have been inspired by the devil, and evolution to be “lies straight from the pit of hell”.

Naumann then makes an interesting and rarely made point: that Darwin’s ideas were in fact no more “anti-Christian” than a great many other ideas which had already been proposed for quite some time, albeit without any complaint about them from the church. Religious leaders, he says, failed to discuss these new ideas and discoveries amongst themselves, and withheld them from parishioners.

He continues:

Through the writings of Darwin and Haeckel, what was until then the preserve of scientists erupted into public awareness. For many, “Darwinism” came as a completely unexpected “anti-religious” revelation… Those of us who experienced the years 1860 to 1890 in the company of pious Christians, remember how powerful the waves were. Even today the waters have not been stilled.

From his tone, I suspect Naumann would be quite surprised if he knew that the shock waves would still be felt in many countries more than 100 years later.

Next, he makes an important and I think undeniable point — undeniable even from a Christian perspective:

Darwinism would have come as less of a shock to the pious if they had already been speaking more openly with each other about scientific discoveries and the implications for religion. This rarely happened. Although some religious thinkers like Schleiermacher familiarized themselves with current scientific learning and “adjusted” their Christianity accordingly, those who preached in the church or taught in the schools deliberately and timidly avoided presenting these new ideas and discussing their implications.

Deliberately and timidly avoided teaching such ideas in the churches and schools. Exactly.

There follows another noteworthy passage.

Look, we’ve long known that the Bible does not place the sun at the center of the solar system; that it presents heaven as being located above the earth… Similarly, the Creation and the Great Flood were known even before Darwin to have been derived from earlier oriental myths, and cannot be taken as historical events. Had the faithful already been clearly and unreservedly informed of these facts, then Darwinism would not have arrived like a hailstorm on the field of religion.

A hailstorm on the field of religion. And how telling it is that even science teachers today avoid teaching evolution for fear of upsetting the faithful (or losing their job). It is even customary for academics to place trigger warnings and apologies prior to any mention of human origins. 

Yet in 1909 it was already clear that such pussyfooting ultimately serves no one. Those who reject science, merely find that they have to push back harder and harder in their denial as science progresses — and become proportionately stupider and stupider. Naumann would have been stunned to discover that climate change is rejected by political leaders in the US because they and the voters believe that God promised Noah that there would be no more floods. I can understand why people are shocked by the idea that we are a species of ape, but…. getting upset about Noah’s Ark being a myth????

Our theologian continues, to make a rather rhetorical argument that Jesus would have embraced Darwinism, because he was the quintessential reformer. I am in no position to comment on that (and neither was he of course, but it’s his religion not mine, so I will let it pass). The Bible, he points out is itself a historical record of reform and changes in religious thought. And he makes another excellent point when he says that by failing to teach the facts of science:

we allow people to develop false hopes. This sets them up for disappointment and confusion if they ever discover the truth.

These days, theologians are reluctant to write as boldly as this. Even the most science-friendly theologians keep one hand cautiously on the hand brake whilst discussing anything to do with science. But Naumann clearly believes that if God created the earth and its creatures, then the study of nature is a path to God. Modern theologians are far more nervous about that “if” being in there.

Religions of course, always face a dilemma, not only with science but with facts in general. Even St Augustine noticed it’s hard to proselytize when some doctrines are clearly false or hilariously stupid. He saw no option but to “interpret” the craziest parts of the Bible allegorically. But once that decision has been taken, it’s hard to stop reality swamping in and ruining dogmas that useful or even essential to the whole faith. Once Noah’s Ark is accepted as a myth (as Naumann conceded in 1909, and as Ken Ham doesn’t concede in 2016), then why not also concede that the “Virgin” Mary was a mistranslation that even the early Christians were informed about by the Jews? Don’t expect a coherent answer from any theologian. There’s too much riding on it. Naumann himself could have, or maybe should have known about this, but he says nothing about it. Is it too close to the bone? Did he know it and simply blend it out? 

I see no way to rescue believers from this collision of their faith with reality. But I also see no alternative to Naumann’s positive attitude to science.


For the record, Friedrich Naumann (1860 – 1919) was a somewhat recognized theologian, priest, and author, who was involved in politics, (for the most part on the progressive side). A foundation named in honor of Naumann is connected to the mainstream but distinctly right-wing Freie Democratische Partei (FDP) in Germany. This Foundation, ironically, promotes climate-change denial. Unfortunately, he advocated a mild form of eugenics — a position that was opposed on ethical grounds by other writers in that book. Naumann was, however an outspoken activist for women’s rights, and other worthy causes. 

Posted by Yakaru


The Book That Changed Bruce Lipton’s Life (This is really stupid)

March 18, 2016

Welcome back to the series “Lipton Meets Sheldrake“. This is the fifth and final installment.

Long time readers will probably have scrubbed from their mind (if they ever tortured their mind by reading it in the first place) a statement in Part 1 by Bruce Lipton, where he was blithering incoherently about having read a book that changed his life and convinced him to quit his job as a tutor in biology, get on the spiritual path, and become a wealthy cancer quack. The book was about quantum physics and was called The Cosmic Code. It was written by someone called Heinz Pagels.

Fans of modern esoteric spirituality can waste a lifetime reading any of the thousand or so books about “quantum spirituality”, without ever discovering that what they are reading has little or nothing to do with actual physics. So it didn’t surprise me at all that an ignorant buffoon like Lipton would get sucked in to this fad as well. Even the book’s title appears prescient of later trends (it was published in 1984, long before the Da Vinci Code, the Moses Code, The (fill in blank)____ Code), and even the author’s name sounds suspiciously New Agey. Heinz is a good German name, and Germany is Grand Central Station of Complicated Pseudo-Science, and Pagels reminds one of Elaine Pagels, the nice person who wrote nice books about early Christianity — all impressive “woo” credentials for the book that convinced the young Dr Lipton that “the field” is in fact consciousness, and that everything he learned in biology is “all wrong”.

I’d never heard of Heinz Pagels before, so I googled him. Surprisingly, Lipton had in fact got both the title and the author correct. (Classical pseudo-scientific methodology strictly insists on shoddy referencing, to make it harder to check sources.) Pagels, it turns out, was indeed married to Elaine Pagels, and died rather tragically in a mountain climbing accident. Unexpectedly, however, he was in fact a genuine, highly regarded physicist.

…So what possessed him to write a pseudo-physics book that convinced the gullible young Bruce that the (non-existent) “field of consciousness” equates with one or more of the various “fields” which physics deals with?

….And — more to the point — why, shortly after writing such a book would Pagels write a strongly worded affidavit for a court case against the Transcendental Meditation movement, rejecting any such idea?

No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud.

Fraud? Lipton says that Pagels’ entire book centers on making exactly that claim. Pagels continues:

Individuals not trained professionally in modern physics could easily come to believe… that a large number of qualified scientists agree with the purported connection between modern physics and meditation methods. Nothing could be further from the truth….

The claim that the fields of modern physics have anything to do with the “field of consciousness” is false….

To see the beautiful and profound ideas of modern physics, the labor of generations of scientists, so willfully perverted provokes a feeling of compassion for those who might be taken in by these distortions.

I suspect that at this point, readers fall into one of two categories:

(1) those who are thinking “Huh? Why did Pagels change his mind? What’s going on?”; and

(2) those who are familiar with the degree of stupidity that Dr Bruce Lipton is capable of.

I often get attacked by Lipton fans who, when challenged, realize they actually haven’t got a clue what Lipton is talking about. Not one of them has ever summed up any aspect of his ideas succinctly. They won’t even try. It’s no surprise that they have trouble understanding him: even Lipton himself gets his own ideas wrong. It is entirely appropriate that such a spectacular career in random senseless blithering and deadly quackery was launched by reading a book he couldn’t make head or tail of, and which in fact said the opposite of what he thought it said.

Here’s my advice to anyone turning to Lipton in search of a cancer cure or hoping to learn something: there’s a good book to read that will rescue you from Lipton’s insane quantum babble. It’s called The Cosmic Code, by Heinz Pagels.

Posted by Yakaru




Children’s Conception of God

February 20, 2016

I’ve often wondered what children think when they first start hearing about “god”. 

Non-physical entities like elves and gnomes are fairly easy for small children to conceptualize, but what about god? — A formless, all seeing, all-knowing invisible creature that is everywhere and nowhere; and is also somehow three beings in one. Despite being boundless and infinite, it is also a “he”, so clearly it must have genitals and go to the toilet. Whatever the case, it inspires adults to talk in serious, hushed tones and use incomprehensible but significant-sounding rhetoric.

In my case, I’d heard of this character by the time I was four, but I didn’t have any clear notion of who or what it could be. In the “book corner” at my Kindergarten, there was a slim hardcover that didn’t have any pictures. I asked the teacher what it was about, and she said in an odd tone, “It’s a book about God.” I turned the book over, and saw on the back cover a photo of a pleasant looking oldish lady with glasses. I can still remember her face. I asked the teacher, “Is that God?” and she became flustered and said “No, no, no, no…” But it was too late. The neurons had fused, and despite the words of the teacher, my little brain had imprinted the image of this sweet old dear, as God. Having had this initial image immediately invalidated, I have never been able to replace it with anything more intelligible.

Then I went to primary school. Due to a rather traditional old head master, the weekly school assembly was started by singing the national anthem. At that time in Australia (1972) the national anthem was a dreary old dirge entitled “God Save the Queen“. I’d seen a picture of the Queen, and she looked rather like that other lady who I had briefly thought to be God, so something resonated.

But the words were distinctly odd: “Send her victorious”, it droned. What exactly is this “victorious” that we are supposed to send her, I wondered. I never received any meaningful answer. But we were also supposed to send her some “happy” and some “glorious” as well. Okay, but how do you send those those things? And why is she going to “rain all over us”?

But the biggest and most fascinating mystery was the very title of the song. I had understood it as “God Saved the Queen”.

What? When did he do that? And how? ….So she was in some kind of trouble, like tied up or in a net or something, and God came and saved her? What did he look like? Who saw it happen? My teacher explained that I had got the song wrong: “We are asking God to save the Queen.” — So the Queen is still in trouble? “No no, it means if the Queen ever gets into trouble, then… oh, never mind…”

And this God character showed up in other places too. Once a week we had scripture classes with a tubby old fellow with glasses and not much hair. His name was “Canon Veril”, which the older kids in the school — who took him rather less seriously than we mystified first-graders did — turned into “Cannon Barrel”. He taught us to close our eyes when we prayed, and not to start crying or hide under the desk when he talked about the Holy Ghost. 

He also taught us The Lord’s Prayer. Its first line mystified us even more with its arcane language:

Our Father, who aren’t in heaven…

Well if he’s not in heaven, where is he? Did he have to go off and rescue the Queen again?

Hallo, what be Thy name?

So no one even knows who he is, even though they keep asking him every day?

In second grade we were told the story of Jesus being stuck in a cave and lying there for a few days and then getting up again or something. It was all quite weird. We had to draw a scene from the story on the cards that Cannon Barrel handed out. I drew Jesus’ body in the tomb, and then for some reason decided to draw a combine harvester in there as well, driving over him. The Canon didn’t like this at all, and as a punishment, snootily refused to collect the drawing like he did all the others. He was a strange person. Both authoritarian and oddly impotent. Not a nasty man, but given to regular bouts of choleric but strangely passive anger.

One little girl, who was very smart because she had glasses, was made to sit in the corridor and do other work of some kind, because her parents didn’t want her to go to scripture classes. Sitting alone in the corridor was usually a punishment, so we were confused about why she was sitting there if she wasn’t in trouble. But she sat there alone for an hour once a week for the whole six years. (As the top student in 6th grade, she was awarded what is known in Australia and the UK as the “Dux of the School” award — another term that had mystified us first-graders when we first heard it, and left us disappointed when no ducks came waddling out to collect their award.)

Posted by Yakaru

Coming soon: a post on religious instruction in schools 


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