Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Self-Abduction of Tim Carpenter

It was right before Christmas back in 1998. If I remember correctly, the word character was being tossed around a lot by folks here in God's country. President Clinton was being skewered by a GOP-led special prosecutor about cum stains on a woman's dress, and Osama Bin Laden was establishing a nice foothold in Afghanistan. Locally, the George Revelle murder trial was going on, and police were working to find out who shot a local man five times and dumped his body in the downtown quarry.

That was the backdrop for a strange case of abduction on Springfield's south side. Tim Carpenter, associate pastor at James River Assembly, loving husband and father of two teenage girls, had come up missing. The founder of Christian Publishers Outlet and owner of Heir Press had failed to return home after a late night visit his Heir Press offices on south Campbell.

Police were sent to Heir Press the next morning only to find mysterious blood smatterings, a tan left shoe that belonged to Carpenter on the sidewalk and stacked up office equipment. Nothing was stolen. Carpenter's Geo Tracker was nowhere to be seen, and there were no witnesses.

Despite a groundswell of prayer groups, billboards, posters, aerial searches and news releases emanating from James River Assembly, police detectives stubbornly insisted that there was no evidence pointing to an abduction. This did not dissuade James River Assembly pastor, Rev. John Lindell, from quickly establishing himself as the point man for local media for the Carpenter story. From his Sunday pulpit, Lindell asked for a "miracle from God" while Carol Carpenter pointed out that Tim "would be really embarrassed. He doesn't like attention," adding that "whatever happens, Tim is glorifying God." In a sense, she was right.

What nobody knew at the time was that ole' TC was glorifying God with a cute little nurse living on the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee. Carpenter didn't meet Melisa at church or at a Christian publishing convention. They first met during the previous summer at a local cowboy bar called "Diamonds & Denim", when Tim approached her at the bar. She told police he had been very polite at first, explaining that he was newly divorced and trying to start his life anew. Later in their visit, Tim apparently started making Melisa feel a little uncomfortable and finally suggested something inappropriate. Shocked, Melisa grabbed her stuff and stormed out of the bar with Carpenter in tow, apologizing profusely. Undaunted, Carpenter kept after her with calls and visits, and a few weeks later was sending flowers, love notes and lingerie from Victoria's Secret.

Meanwhile, the Carpenter investigation seemed stalled. Local police had virtually nothing to say to local media, but they were making progress behind the scenes. It wasn't until police turned up a bill in Carpenter's mail, a pager service, that they discovered a frequent caller from the Memphis area. Detectives contacted Melisa soon after and told her the bad news. She was, of course, devasted but was more than happy to give police Tim's new cell number. The Christmas Eve long distance call from Detective Hamilton was one of the first Carpenter would receive on his new cell phone. He was at his apartment.

"How did you find me?" were the first words a shaken Carpenter uttered to police. Hamilton told TC that he'd caused a lot of worry back home and that his wife and family were anxious to see him. Tim seemed stunned. At this point, Hamilton inexplicably asked him if he had hit his head, and Carpenter said yes. The call ended, and Hamilton had the Memphis police send a detective to the apartment, but Carpenter refused to answer the door. He was busy. First, he had to hide all his ID (but for some reason, was unable to part with his Social Security card). He then proceeded to, justifiably enough, beat the hell out of himself. Something along the lines of Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar - only Carrey played a man who was cursed with the inability to lie.

Police contacted Carol Carpenter to tell her the news, and within a few hours Mrs. Carpenter, pastor Lindell and a couple of the family's James River friends flew in a private plane straightway to Memphis where the Lord, with a little help from the UPS man, helped Lindell and company find Carpenter's apartment. After hours of negotiating, they coaxed him into his own car, drove him back to Springfield late Christmas Eve and, on the quiet, admitted Carpenter into Cox North Hospital downtown.

This is where the story gets really interesting, particularly the role pastor Lindell played as self-appointed press secretary/spin doctor for the Carpenter family during their time of need.

More on this later . . .

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Return of The Springfieldian

Back in 1992, a little underground newspaper called The Springfieldian started circulating around town. It had a small but loyal following that included some elected officials, city employees, media folks and interested ne'r-do-wells about town.

The Springfieldian was published somewhat irregularly for a few years before stopping with the infamous "Hammons Attacks" issue #9. A tenth issue was almost finished but never came to fruition.

Ozarks Angel has managed to come up with the entire collection of old Springfieldians and will publish some of our favorite pieces in upcoming weeks. The cartoons were some of the best ever published in this town. These cartoons are from issue #4.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Just Pretend It's All Okay

Just pretend the world is safer since this grand incursion. Just pretend this will all end soon. Just pretend 23,000 Iraqi civilians aren't dead. Just pretend this war hasn't aided the cause of Islamic fanaticism worldwide. Go buy a fucking ribbon. Maybe that'll help.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Frakes, Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks & Gin

It's Saturday morning - 10:49 - and I'm already feeling ready for a big gin and tonic, extra lime, please. It's going to be another hot one today. Yesterday was 102 they say. Dog days. Days that are so hot, a person could come down with a bad case of the frakes.

It was in Donald Harington's wonderful novel "Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks" where I first heard about the frakes. It's been years since I read the book, but I do recall that frakes almost always strike during the hottest days of summer. And they can strike a grown man down where he sits, rendering him nearly motionless for hours at a time. Some kind of nervous system shut down, I'm guessing. I've found gin and tonics helpful.

Back to the book. Architecture covers the growth of human habitation of the Ozarks region from the very first Indian dwellings to, well, rusted out mobile homes. The setting is near the town of Stay More, Arkansas.

Here's a snippet from the book. In this exchange, Fanshaw, a native Indian whose people have lived in the area for generations, meets up with settler Jacob Ingledew (an occasional victim of the frakes). I can't recall how Fanshaw came to speak perfect English, but it adds to the colorful dialogue.

From Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks, The Toby Press

"It don't matter to me whether the earth is round or flat," Jacob said to Fanshaw one evening in the late winter. "I aint gonna git to the other side nohow."

"Where are you going to get to, old chap?"

"Huh? I've done got there."

"The time has come, now, when we must at last cultivate a topic of discussion which, hitherto, we have avoided: why did you come here and build upon this land?"

"Hit was gittin jist too durn crowded back in Tennessee," Jacob said. "I purt nigh couldn't lift my elbow 'thout hittin somebody and the preachers was so thick a feller couldn't say 'heck' without gittin a sermon fer it."

"But you have never even asked for permission to build here. Stay More is the land of my grandfathers."

" 'Stay More'?"

Fanshaw chuckled. "Yo. That is what I have come to call it."

Jacob Ingledew repeated the name a couple of times, and him-self chuckled. "I reckon that'll do as well as ary other name."

"But you cannot," Fanshaw said.

"Cannot what?"

"Stay more."

"Says who?" Jacob demanded. "You fixin to try to run me off?"

"My grandfathers are buried here."

"My grandchildren will be buried here."

"Ho. Where is their grandmother?"

"I'll find one, by and by."


Then Fanshaw told him the story of the origin of his people. Once upon a time a snail was washed far down the river by floods. He was a good snail but he was alone. Wahkontah, in appreciation of his goodness and in pity for his loneliness, caused the snail to sleep for a long, long time. During the sleep, the snail's entire body was changed. When he awoke he started back into his shell, but it was far too small. Then he looked at himself, and, seeing that he had long legs, he stood up and walked about. As he walked he kept growing. Hair grew on his head, and from his shoulders long, powerful arms grew.

This new creature remembered his former home, and walked far back up the river to the home of the snails, but he could not live with them, and he went in search of some place he could call home. When he grew hungry, Wahkontah gave him a bow and arrow and taught him how to get food. Day by day he went out in search of a home. At last the man, for such he had become, came to the hut of a beaver. The old beaver came out, and said, "Who are you and what do you want?" The man told his story and said he was seeking a home.

The young man and the beaver were about to fight, when the beaver's daughter came out and said she would teach the man to build a house, so that he would not have to trespass on others. To this arrangement the old beaver finally agreed. So the beaver's daughter and the young man went away together, and she taught him how to build a house of bent bois d'arc poles and to thatch it. Because of her kindness, Wahkontah changed the beaver's daughter into a maiden, and she became the squaw wife of the man. These two were the first of the people, and that is why they wear the beaver skin ornament.

"What is the origin of your people?" Fanshaw then asked him. Jacob, although an ungodly man, knew the story of Adam and Eve. He told this to Fanshaw, who listened attentively. When he had finished, Fanshaw said, "I now propose the topic for our next debate: Which is greater, the story of the snail and the beaver or the story of Adam and Eve?"

The two men debated this topic at length. Fanshaw pointed out that while there is a distinct reference to the paraboloid house of the man and woman who were snail and beaver, there is no reference to any sort of house for Adam and Eve, neither before nor after their Fall. What did they live in? Jacob went and fetched his brother Noah's Bible, and read second and third Genesis, but couldn't find any mention of a house, so he had to concede that point to Fanshaw.
His own chief point was that God created Adam in his own image, whereas snails are pretty slow and slimy, and beavers are fat and bucktoothed. They argued that point back and forth until Fanshaw conceded.

So went their debate, and both men realized that what they were actually debating was the beginning of their Great Debate: Who has the right to Stay More, the Indian or the white man? although they did not ever say so in other than metaphorical terms. When it came the usual time for Fanshaw to go back to his lady, and Jacob uttered his ritual "Stay more," Fanshaw replied, "Thank you, I believe I shall," and he stayed a long time.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Truth & the American Way

There was an excellent column in Wednesday's News-Leader written by a local minister, Roger Ray of National Avenue Christian Church. Usually, when ministers start waxing on about "truth" and politics around here, it's another diatribe about the Clintons or how God got kicked out of the schools, blah blah. This article was refreshing - and, of course, in today's paper there was the obligatory rebuttal by a local yayhoo . . . something about Ray's liberal leanings. Yawn.

Here's a snippet of truth from Ray's column:

How can a free people be numbed into accepting a government propaganda campaign that will silence dissent even if it means giving up the names of undercover CIA agents to silence their families and cutting National Public Radio to keep the public uninformed? Are we so easily frightened that we will give up the freedoms our founders gave us, dismembering our democracy under the rubric of a "Patriot Act?"
What happens to a nation that loses its passion for the truth? Well, they get health care policies written by for-profit insurance companies, environmental policies written by mining and timber interests, prescription drug bills written by the pharmaceutical companies, foreign policy designed by military industrial interests, gun policy written by the NRA, and tobacco legislation written by the tobacco industry, energy policy which serves energy interests and preachers who babble like drunks about things that no one understands or cares about.

Thank you, Rev. Ray, for shedding some light. God help me, I may have to start going to church again.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Search for Humanity in God's Country

For reasons known only to God, the Ozarks Angel has for several years been the recipient of multiple mailings from the Assemblies of God movement. I call it a movement because, in the beginning years at least, it was more of a movement than a church - driven by a charismatic adherence to the Pentecostal system of belief and worship. The congregations were poor to middle-class in those days. One need only check out the parking lot at James River Assembly some Sunday morning to see how that's changed.

The Assemblies of God in 2005 is a large international church and publishing company that hauls in a tidy sum in tax free revenue. It's big business - and let's not even talk about tithes. One can only imagine the holdings in their Ministers Benefit Association fund, which claims that it specifically screens out those companies that are predominately known for and/or derive significant revenues from abortion, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or tobacco. Praise the Lord!

But hold on . . . that sounds sort of neutral, doesn't it? They don't really say they won't invest in companies that gain revenue from tobacco, abortion, gambling and alcohol. It says they won't if these companies are predominantly known to gain revenue from these sinful endeavors. Seems like some equivocation going on here . . . especially for those who proudly adhere to and rely on literal translations when citing other documents.

Anyway, I'm reading up on some resolutions that will pass before the 51st General Council of the Assemblies of God that is coming up in Denver during the first week of August. In a recent mailing, General superintendent Thomas Trask covers some of the talking points at the upcoming convention, and it's clear that the denomination's official positions on abortion and homosexuality are at the forefront.

"It should give us great concern to listen to the verbal attacks of the U.S. liberal media against the newly elected Roman Catholic Church Pope, Benedict XVI, for his strong stand for the doctrines of the church," Trask said. He then characterized the new pope as "the chief custodian of the RCC position on abortion, homosexuality and other controversial issues which liberals were hoping to change with the election of a new pope." Trask went on to say that "the spirit of compromise and tolerance has worked like termites, undermining doctrinal foundations."

Sort of sets a certain tone for the General Council, don't you think? Forget this compromise and tolerance stuff, we're right and they're not! And isn't it interesting to see how common political rhetoric finds its way into church documents? But how nice it is to see the pentecostals are now making nice with Catholics. Around here, it wasn't too long ago they were calling them Catlickers and Mackerel Snappers. I guess all that animosity is now held for gays and unfortunate women.

Back to the General Council. There's a lot of unfinished business on the agenda, most of which deals with honoring various General Presbyters, establishing a Korean District Council and other boring stuff. But a couple of other resolutions were interesting.

Resolution #1 Credentialing of Divorced and Remarried Persons
Resolution #5 Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ

On divorce, the resolution states that "we maintain a desire to impede the lowering of morality within our churches, where divorce rates approach those of the world . . . " There was some quibbling over pre-conversion and post-conversion divorces until they resolved to "disapprove of any married minister of the Assemblies of God holding credentials if either minister or spouse has a former companion living."

This should either clean up the divorce rate or increase the murder rate among A/G ministers. (Or, if you're one of those brethren who's particularly sensitive to public opinion, you could fake your own abduction, move to Memphis and start up a new life with your girlfriend. More on that story later.)

Resolution #5 is much more political in nature. It's basically the church attempting to clear up some messy language and beliefs regarding the conception and birth of Jesus our Lord in an attempt to blend their political position on abortion and stem cell research with the infallible word of God.

It seems that over the years, as the good brethren have proclaimed from the pulpit the absolute deity and sinlessness of Jesus, they have either implied or asserted that he had no genetic link to any other humans. The local Catholics have a church and school named after this belief . . . Immaculate Conception. While determining all this may seem like a mere technicality, it does become important when the church adopts a public stance on political issues like abortion. It all gets very confusing at this point

"The assertion that the Holy Spirit created the human body of our Lord in the womb of the virgin Mary without using one of her ovary eggs denies that He has human ancestry and . . . this would make Mary a surrogate mother and Jesus a surrogate son."

Surrogate son . . . has a negative ring to it. And it's important, given all the proprietary talk among the righteous about embryos and fetuses, that the church firmly establish that Jesus was made from a human egg. Never before has the egg gained such lofty status.

Recently, on the similar convoluted topic, President Bush held a White House photo-op with a group of conservative Christians in the East Room in an effort to undermine a bill that would have expanded the use of unused embryos from fertility clinics for stem cell research. The children in these families had all been conceived through a Christian adoption agency that promotes the practice of one couple donating its frozen embryos to another.

"The children here today remind us that there is no such thing as a spare embryo," Bush said, evoking a few "Amens" from parents. None other than House Republican leader Tom DeLay was also moved enough to chime in on the matter. "We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth," Mr. DeLay said.

Yes, the lines are blurring . . . a church leader complains about the liberal press and quibbles over the wording of a document, while a calloused, cut-throat politician emotes on the lives of Jesus and Mohammad. And all this talk about wombs and fetuses by a bunch of old white guys. What does it all mean?

I saw a bumper sticker that asked a good question about this obsession with pre-birth issues and the fact that most of these espoused pro-lifers are okay with cutting benefits that help poor children.

Does Being Pro-Life
End at Birth?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Hundred Points of Terror

Back in 2003 when Bush & Co. had already decided to invade Iraq and were busy constructing provocations the American public would buy, many world leaders, allies and enemies alike, spoke out in opposition.

Among them was Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, one of the more moderate leaders in the region. Mubarak, the first Middle East leader to sign a peace agreement with Israel, has had his own problems cracking down on Islamic fundamentalists in his home country. You might recall that he succeeded Anwar Sadat, who was gunned down by Islamic militants in 1981. Yet under Mubarak's leadership, Egypt joined the anti-Iraq coalition during the 1991 Gulf War and has been a strong U.S. ally for years.

Like the warnings of many world leaders, his pleadings for caution and reason about the impending U.S. invasion fell on deaf ears in the White House - but Mubarak's words come back to haunt two years later.

"When it is over, if it is over, this war will have horrible consequences," Mubarak said in March 2003. "Instead of having one bin Laden, we will have 100 bin Ladens."

He also stated that many Arabs will see this invasion as western aggression against an Arab country and that the war would "cause great tragedy and destruction in a deep-rooted culture and people."

New York, Madrid and now London. While the Pentagon bemoans recruitment problems and re-enlistment continues to fall, rest assured that the U.S., as a result of the Iraq invasion, has greatly boosted the rolls of willing recruits to Islamic extremist factions all over the world.

While it's easy to blame the Bush administration and their GOP lackies for this horrible mess, much of the blame must also fall at the feet of the gutless Democratic Party for chiming in with the war chant out of political expedience - and the mainstream media, which really dropped the ball with their "investigative" coverage of the abject fabrications that led us into this awful war.

Counters - Ads - Costa Rica

Anybody who knows much about blogging can easily recognize that Ozarks Angel isn't being put together by a website expert. Trial and Error is the tested and true approach to this crazy blog thing that sucks me in almost daily.

I don't really like reading blogs that talk about themselves . . . boring. That being said, this blog added a hit counter a week ago and also began running ads from Google a couple of days ago. So far, Ozarks Angel has amassed $0.03 in revenue. I won't be checking the exchange rate in Costa Rica anytime soon.

Some of the ads are interesting - and I thought they might be checking content when they ran a bunch of anti-Bush spots . . . but then I see today it looks like another tired swipe at Bill Clinton ("Shocking stories that Clinton left out of My Life"), a George Bush Store, for god's sake. Ugh! Has the Ozarks Angel given in to the online capitalist system? Let's pray about it together.

The hit counter was a big surprise. Maybe it was the News-Leader blurb or maybe Google search has pulled up some hits. Whatever, 250 hits in a week to a whiny little site that rambles on about vacations on Bull Shoals Lake and lengthy discourses on swollen testicles . . . ain't that bad.

Got a bunch of good stories to tell - so little time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Freedom to Play it Safe

Am I the only one out here in the hinterland who is sick to death of how our so-called free press has rolled over and played dead during the Bush administration? It seems that our much-heralded watchdogs for truth have lost their appetite for the good fight.

It doesn't make sense. After enduring years of GOP-led scrutiny that exposed Bill Clinton for lying about weighty issues like blowjobs in the Oval Office, the mainstream media takes a nap when Bush & Co. come to Washington and start leading us down the path to massive deficits, growing poverty and protracted war overseas. There seems to be some kind of inverse law of media attention here.

The recent flap over White House leaks that "outed" a covert CIA agent may have finally awakened a few people, especially since the president's own man-behind-the-scenes, Karl Rove, is involved.

It all began when conservative Chicago Sun Times columnist Robert Novak, citing two adminstration sources, named covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak wrote the column in 2003 trying to explain why Bush's state of the union speech hyped up Saddam Hussein's attempt to buy uranium in Africa when his own diplomatic emissary had already reported that this was not the case.

It's curious that Novak tried to soft-pedal the story in much the same way Rove did to the Time reporter, by implying that the diplomat, Joseph Wilson, was sent there by his CIA agent wife - and the Bush administration really didn't know much about it. Are we suppose to believe that Wilson went to Africa at his wife's behest? "Honey, would you mind going to Niger and checking out that uranium report for me?" Gimme a break. No, they had to discredit Wilson somehow because he refused to tell them what they wanted to hear and, worse, had publicly criticized their efforts to tilt intelligence reports while building a case for invading Iraq.

Another curious thing about this story . . . how is it that reporters Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper get hammered by the grand jury prosecutor for not revealing their sources, but Robert Novak, who started the whole thing, doesn't even get a dishonorable mention? Cooper was let off the hook by none other than Karl Rove, who admitted that he was the source for the Time story. Miller was found in contempt of court and could face four months in jail for protecting her sources.

Ms. Miller, by the way, is hardly a non-partisan in all this. Her pre-war hyping of weapons of mass destruction and germ warfare was right on script with Bush's war mongering after 9/11. My guess is that her source, and perhaps Novak's as well, is either Rove or Cheney . . . and we can't have old Dick getting too much air time on this. Miller, no doubt, is proud to have become a media martyr and gain big points with the Bushies. Her next book should do well.

When Novak's column first shed light on the CIA leak, Bush blustered that anyone caught leaking classified info would be fired. That simply won't happen - not Rove. They'll find a way around it because Bush wouldn't know what to say or do without the guy. And the media will be there to cushion it all for us.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Sand Bar

I know it sounds corny, but here are a few images of our recent vacation down to Bull Shoals Lake. My favorite area of the lake has a sand bar that, the locals say, usually emerges later in the summer when the lake is down a bit. Since it's underwater most of the year, the vegetation isn't too thick. While we were there, the sand bar was about half a mile long, and you could walk barefoot on the sand out into the lake for another 300 feet or so. From a distance, it looks like you're walking on water. Damn, I should have gotten a picture of that. Many a boater has been fooled by this sandy phenomenon, running their boats full bore onto the sand.

On weekends, kids and adults drive four-wheelers and gators and whatnot from one end to the other - but during the week, we had it almost exclusively to ourselves. We found several broken arrowheads in the sand.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Washingtonienne

I can't even remember how I ran across this little piece of Americana. Jessica Cutler's funny, short-lived blog (created right here on Blogspot) wasn't exactly politically correct - and it revealed more than some people were able to handle about the underbelly of sex and power in our nation's capital - or as she called it, Hollywood for the Ugly. I particularly liked the part where she described her work task of lumping up incoming mail from constituents and discarding them in the trash bin. "And people actually think they read these," she quips. Monica Lewinsky she ain't

I don't know the whole story, but it really wasn't that difficult for somebody in D.C. to figure out who she was, where she worked - and she was, of course, summarily fired. The last entry says something about how her boss was wanting to see her.

The notoriety hasn't hurt Ms. Cutler much. She's already posed for Playboy and published a novel. At one point she says, "I just want to be a jewish wife with a big rock on my finger." Wonder what the odds are of that happening.

Makes me want to write up some stuff about my workplace. There's plenty of material, but I don't think people would find it that interesting. Plus, I might get fired - and I wouldn't get paid to pose nude, nor would there be a book deal, though the story might be funny enough. There's just no upside. I'd just be a poor son-of-a-bitch out of work with a bunch of people pissed at me.

Here's the link:

Emergencies, Evangelicals & Saluting the Troops

A child was kidnapped in St. Charles, Missouri last week. St. Charles is 200 miles away, but my phone went off like a damn fire alarm. S...