Thursday, March 20, 2014

Well, hmm.

Fred Phelps, notorious founder and leader of the Westboro Baptist Church has died.  The church was made up mostly of his family who demonstrated at many, many places with signs that read "God Hates Fags".  Mr. Phelps had the philosophy that the attacks of 9/11, the resulting conflict in the middle east and generally anything bad that happened to the U.S. was because of the sins of the citizens, mostly the homosexuals.

I really didn't like Mr. Phelps or his message.  It wasn't a church.  It was a cult.  The members were mostly his family, but when he needed a webmaster, another family was allowed to join.  According to his estranged children, who snuck off in the middle of the night, he was a man with anger issues who regularly beat all of his children and his wife.  One of his sons referred to him as a "rage addict".

I've seen a few documentaries and read a bunch of articles about the church and they keep themselves segregated from the community.  When the granddaughters are asked if they think they'll marry, they reply "Who'd marry us?"  and giggle.

The oldest daughter, who is also the attorney for the family, was asked if any other kids would be allowed to come over and play with the passel of grandchildren she said "Who would let their kids come over to our house?"  When asked if the children's parents had the same beliefs and wanted to have fellowship with another family, she stuttered "Well..... yes. Yes, sure."

So, this group clearly knows that the rest of the world hates them.  But, they stick around and demonstrate at soldier's funerals and hold on to the belief that they are really trying to save the world.  Their message isn't that God holds hatred and dishes out punishment because he thinks same gender attraction is oogy, it's that they want to show the U.S. the error of their ways and help everyone get to Heaven, which is a very loving thing. 

Honestly, I think the man was nuts.  I think he was a megalomaniac who convinced himself that everything that happened was about him. 

I think he was insane and had himself a little cult that got a lot of media attention because they were easy to hate.  They were equally offensive to everyone.  Even conservatives who think being gay is oogy were upset that the church would demonstrate at the funerals of fallen soldiers. 

*Sigh*  Am I doing a little dance now that he's dead?  No.  No, I'm not doing that.   Do I think he made the world a better place?

That's complicated.

Hear me out!

Mr. Phelps brought people together in counter demonstrations to block the hateful messages.  People put on wings, formed human walls and revved their motorcycles so funeral attendees wouldn't have to see their signs.  There was legislation passed in areas that said any demonstrations have to take place at least 100 yards from a funeral in progress.  That was in direct response to the Westboro Baptist Church.  Was he a horrible person?  Yes.  Did good things come from his out there attempts?  Yes.

The family has said they will not have a funeral since they don't worship the dead.  This confuses me.  Isn't Jesus dead?  Oh no, he came back so they worship the UNdead. 

Many people are of the opinion that the reason there won't be a funeral is because the family knows there would be a really, really big demonstration at the ceremony.  I'm quite certain that there are parties going on right now to celebrate the fact that this dude has kicked it.

I don't know if he's gone to Hell or if his version of Heaven opened up or if he's just dead.  I don't know what I believe when it comes to the afterlife.  But, the next time he's sent to earth to have some more lessons, I don't think it will be pleasant.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ghoulies and ghosties and a trip to the ER

Everyone who knows me knows I love ghost stories.  I've loved them since I was 8 or 9.  They've always scared me, but I've always adored them.  So, when my friend Sarah in Iowa invited me to come along on an adventure to Villisca, Iowa to spend the night in the notorious Villisca Axe House (check it out here), I checked my funds, found them agreeable and booked a plane ticket.

There were 7 of us going on this trip.  Sarah, her daughter Jacelyn, Jacelyn's friend Taylor, Jon, Jon's girlfriend Amanda and Genevive.  Genevive has been on ghost hunting expeditions before. She came armed with a voice recorder, camera and knowledge. 

We took a 4 hour drive from Sarah's house, stopping along the way to visit the World's Largest Concrete Gnome in Aames, and arrived  in Villisca in the late afternoon.  After we got a tour of the house, which was originally built in 1868 and has been beautifully restored, we received the keys and were left to our own devices. 

We lugged in our stuff, a lot of blankets and pillows along with our cameras, flashlights and snacks and wandered around the house.  The house still has all the original woodwork around the doorways, which always fascinates me. It's not very big.  A kitchen, living room and one bedroom downstairs.   Two bedrooms, one of them is just the space at the top of the stairs, and the entry to the attic upstairs.  The attic wasn't scary, it was just an attic.  The parent's room wasn't exactly comfortable, but it wasn't exactly creepy.  And the kid's bedroom upstairs was very light and airy.  It really felt quite nice to be in there. 

The bedroom downstairs has a closet in the space under the staircase.  This room, the closet especially, are really creepy.  It's not a dark room, it has big windows and gets plenty of light.  It's painted a very nice light blue and it's been decorated in 1912 style.  There aren't cobwebs hanging or anything like that.  It's just......creepy and unpleasant to be in.  The closet especially scared me.  Can't say why, just did.  I really, really didn't even want to be in there. 

We decided to go out to a local place for dinner. The food was super good, cheap and nice sized portions.  Just what you'd expect from small town Iowa.  As we were leaving the woman working there asked if we were visiting the haunted house, which I knew was going to happen. 

After we got back, we all stood around outside, smoking cigarettes and delaying going inside.  Finally, we trooped back in.  We all decided to walk around to see if anything had shifted position.  Jacelyn and Taylor wanted someone to go upstairs with them so Sarah and I went along. 

Since there are supposed to be the ghosts of children,  balls and toys are all over the place.  You can roll a ball in the children's bedroom upstairs and it will roll back to you.  But, that's because the floor slants and it will happen the same every time.

As we got to the top of the stairs, a big rubber ball was sitting on a chair in the children's room.  Jacelyn said "Was that ball on that chair before?" 

Sarah said "No, it was NOT."  Jacelyn and Taylor screamed and shoved Sarah and I out of the way to get to the stairs.  I think it was the very definitive way Sarah said it that made the teenage girls freak out.  After they bolted, Genevive  called us to the downstairs bedroom. There was a mini basketball in the closet down there that had been on the floor when we left, but was up on a low shelf in there now. 

And I got scared.  I started to contemplate sleeping in the van. 

We made camp in the living room, which was really cold.  I bundled under a blanket trying to stay warm and so I'd have something to hide under. Because, as we all well remember, blankets have the powerful ability to ward off any monsters, ghosts or other unexplainable thing that wants to do us harm.
Jon, Taylor and Jacelyn tried a Ouija session, but nothing happened. I'm honestly frightened of Ouija boards.  I'll watch, but I won't participate.  The board was new.  I bought it for a photo prop and new boards don't work very well, or so I've been told. 

The group decision was made to try moving to a room upstairs that might be warmer.  The children's room upstairs was not only warmer, it didn't feel scary.  Sarah and I got comfy close to each other, me hiding under my blanket.  Genevive did an EVP session (this is where you try and record the ghosts talking using a handheld recorder).  Then Jacelyn, Taylor and Jon got the Ouija board out again. 

While they were trying to make it work, which it did, very slowly.  I started to hear things downstairs.  There was a vent in the floor that went straight down to the living room, so it was just like being in that room sound-wise.  I could hear stuff shifting around down there.  Like the blankets that were still there were being rearranged or a bag was being moved across the floor.  I heard footsteps on the stairs, only 2 of them, but I still heard them.  Since the board wasn't moving quickly, the three of them trying to communicate moved to a space they felt uncomfortable in, which was the parent's room. 

There was no way I was coming out of my blanket to go into the parent's room to watch the trio talk to more ghosts.  Not when I was hearing stuff moving, footsteps and items had shifted position.  Yeah, the owner could have come back and moved things around, but I was staying under my blanket! I started to wonder if I should have brought some Depends so I wouldn't have to walk through the house to go out to the barn to use the bathroom.

Right about then, Sarah lifted up her head and said "Okay, I'm not doing very good.  Something is really wrong with me." It turned out that she was experiencing pain on her right side, had chills and a bad headache.

A group vote decided that she needed to go to ER.  There was only one spot around the house where anyone could get enough of a signal to look up hospitals and call to find out where it was.  I volunteered to take Sarah to the ER.  Really, I almost jumped up and yelled "ME! MEEEEEEMEMEMEME!" I was so wanting to get out of that creepy house. 

I drove Sarah the 20 minutes to the hospital, got her checked in and waited a very short amount of time with her.  She had a kidney infection and was passing a stone.  She got some painkiller and went to sleep.  I laid my coat down on the floor and went to sleep.  A nurse woke me up to say Sarah was being admitted, they were moving her to a room.  The staff gave me a toothbrush and some scrubs to sleep in.  I laid down on the couch and conked out.

The next day involved me going back to the house to pick up the rest of our party, get Sarah out of the hospital and then drive back to Stacyville. 

How was the trip?  Event filled!  I'm glad I went to visit and spend time with my friend.  But I found out I'm not exactly cut out for ghost hunting.  I'll keep up with my story reading and daytime visits, but probably not anymore overnights for me.  Not even with a blanket.