Note: Sometimes it’s seriously cringe, to look back and read something I wrote from a different headspace, or with a narrower perspective, in a different decade. I’m specifically referring to my comment “She will probably deservedly get the needle.” Yikes. This is a clear-cut case of a woman who suffered extensive emotional and physical abuse, and reached her breaking point before she shot her husband in the back. I no longer support the death penalty except in extreme circumstances involving mass murder or terrorism. But it’s important to leave a horrid comment like that up, because it demonstrates my intellectual forward movement, and the importance of my improved understanding of gendered violence. There’s no shame in making a mistake, if you later acknowledge that it was indeed a mistake. (It’s the doubling down that gets people in trouble). –Sean Prophet, August 2022
A show I promote, Nip/Tuck, uses the tagline “The Perfect Soul, The Perfect Mind, The Perfect Face, The Perfect Lie…”
Nip/Tuck, for those who haven’t seen it, is a drama about the disparity between appearances and reality in the world of plastic surgery. It’s an excellent depiction of many aspects of the shadow side of human nature. I’m proud to be working on such a well-crafted and brilliant show.
But there’s another oft-ignored shadow side to American society: religion. As illustrated by the tragic slaying of the father of the above pictured family, darkness lies in the sunniest places. People try to ignore it, like the June Carter-Cash song says:
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life.
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,
If we keep on the sunny side of life.
Let us greet with a song of hope each day.
Though the moments be cloudy or fair.
Let us trust in our Saviour always,
To keep us, every one, in His care.
Well, evidently keeping on the ‘sunny side’ has it’s dark side too. It keeps us blind and ignorant to our true nature. This is apparently what happened, tragically, to Matthew Winkler, a 31-year-old pastor and father of three. Whenever these types of senseless killings take place, you always hear people say things like:
She described Mary Winkler as always seeming like “the perfect mother, the perfect wife,” with very loving children.
“Everybody is just totally shocked by what has happened.”
“The kids are just precious, and she was precious,” Killingsworth told The Associated Press. “He was the one of the best ministers we’ve ever had — just super charisma.”
“They were a nice family,” former Selmer Mayor Jimmy Whittington, who worked with the preacher collecting donations for hurricane victims last year, told the AP. “They just blended in.”
Whenever you hear these well-meaning statements, it’s always code for “we aren’t facing our shadow.” A truly conscious community would not be caught off-guard by something like this. There are always danger signs.
For me, the danger signs are when things are too ‘nice.’ When people look too perfect. When suppression smooths out the wrinkles of life too much. This is also illustrated in places like Utah, where Mormonism has driven antidepressant use to the highest levels in the nation.
I have no idea of the personal relationship of this minister and his murderess wife. But you can bet this problem didn’t develop overnight. It’s almost certain that the man subscribed to Christian hierarchical principles in his relationship. Possibly he was domineering or unsympathetic to his wife’s needs. It takes a lot to get even a mentally unstable woman to shoot her husband in the back.
But my thesis continues to be that religion is a form (or at the very least a co-factor) of mental illness. Since members feel that ‘Jesus’ or ‘god’ is the solution to everything, they don’t get the psychological help they need, or they just ignore their problems–putting their life in “Jesus’ hands.”
Obviously the woman is fully responsible for what happened. She has confessed to first-degree murder. She will probably deservedly get the needle.
But what are we to conclude of a belief system that in this case failed both the pastor AND his wife? You’ve got an entire congregation following a couple who clearly was on the verge of breakdown for some time. Neither the congregation could see it nor the minister himself.
I’d love to see people getting the help they need. Unfortunately, religious dominance in this country often prevents this, with awful human consequences. Until we break the stranglehold of religion on society, we can expect more of the same. Like a steady drumbeat, these tragedies tap out a funeral dirge to our collective folly. I’m sorry to be quite cold here, but this is perfect Darwinian justice. It’s also a prime example of the proverbial “blind leading the blind.”
well, you’ve just got it all figured out, don’t ya? i don’t know what happened any more than you do, but i do know people are good at showing you whatever they want you to see. to imply that this wasn’t prevented b/c christians have their collective head in the sand is ridiculous.
What bucket of sand has YOUR head been in for the last decade? Sorry chum, but the evidence of recent history is not on your side. From Dena Schlosser, to Andrea Yates, to Eric Rudolph, to the enormous molestation/homosexual scandal that has rocked the Churches of the West (and not just the Catholic ones), these cases are all motivated in large part by the practical consequences of subscribing to an inhumane and fully unworkable ideology: Christianity.
It is only a short matter of time before the motive is revealed in this case. And this woman wasnt just a Chrstian, she was the wife of a Christian leader! You can bet your ass that religion played a rather large part in their daily lives and their relationship, even more so than the average churchgoing, 10% tithing, scripture reading Christian.
If Christianity really did produce the results it claims to be capable of producing, then cases like this (of devout Christians murdering eachother) should not be happening with the frequency that they have been.
BUT unfortunately for you, Christian-related murders and other violent crimes are happening at a frightening frequency. Look up the names I mentioned earlier, and you will see what I mean.
Even if this woman murdered her husband for non-religious reasons (which is doubtful), itis sitll a strike against Christianity, for the theology itself is supposed to inhibit these kinds of actions from taking place. It clearly does not. In fact, it serves as a catalyst FOR committing these types of crimes.
It has been proven via scientific studies. Like this one from the University of Conneticut Health Center: http://www.uchc.edu/ocomm/features/stories/stories04/feature_religiosity.html
Religiosity is more common among mothers that kill their children, and it proves it with hard facts.
But what do you expect from a theology that celebrates death and devalues earthly existence? http://killtheafterlife.blogspot.com/2005/11/afterlife-concept-devalues-earthly.html
And to top it off, atheists are underrepresented among violent criminals and murderers, especially crimes of passion.
Anyway, back to the OP. Good work Blacksun. I cant wait to see this case unfold more. Motives, rationales, just how much religion was at play in the crime, etc… I bet alot of dirt will pop up on this one.
Generally, yes, most christians do have their head buried in the sand about human nature.
To deny responsibility for the collective failure of religion to recognize psychological danger signs and prevent murders like this is ridiculous.
Religion claims to be a social force for good, and be able to take care of human problems in communities. For a congregation to be this clueless about the family of their leader has to be almost intentional blindness to shadow.
So murder and molestation are the practical consequences of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’? Of course not.
Look, people who try to live a Christian life have failings. That doesn’t mean the teachings are flawed or even dangerous as you might suggest. Sure, there are people who present Christianity as a quick fix for any social or behavioral problem. But I don’t think Christ ever made such a claim. Maybe your problem is more with the flawed corporate church than the actual teachings of Jesus.
Look, religion is the one institution in public life that gets off scot free. People always say what you are saying, fork: “Of course it wasn’t the religion.” Well, what if it was? What if the religion prevented these two people from knowing themselves and getting help? What if the congregation was as blind and foolish as it appears?
You think just believing in the 10 commandments absolves religion?
I could do a whole post, (and probably will) about the immorality of the 10 commandments. That little imaginary stone tablet no one has seen has caused more trouble than any other document in history.
Let me just start with the commandment you mentioned: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This statement is immoral. Any morality that places love of another equal to or above oneself is anti-human, anti-evolutionary, and flatly wrong.
Our innate instinct says we should put ourselves first, and we should. If you question this statement, play this little mental game: put yourself and someone else in a room. There is only food enough for one person to survive, and you cannot share. One person is going to die. Instinct says it should be the other person, not you. To allow oneself to die in that circumstance is immoral.
Now step back from that extreme example to the real world. We can always judge the morality of a principle by how well it conforms to our human instinct and long-term self-interest according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Where self-interest and human nature result in natural conflict with the interests of others, as with murder, rape, etc., secular laws take over.
But the failure to address the equation of human nature and instinct is just the tip of the iceberg of the fatal flaws of religion. It doesn’t stop with the institutional church, nor with the highly politicized teachings (which he couldn’t have written–they were written 80 years later) of a mythic figure of (probably non-existent) jesus christ.
The entire religious metaphor has been an abject failure. It’s a failure we see every day in large and small ways all over the world–not just when these types of glaring atrocities occur.
I’m here to promote an alternative: human evolution to real psychological wholeness and true self-knowledge.
We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t equate human instict with morality. I don’t think it’s natural(or very common) to put someone else ahead of yourself, but I can’t think of a more admirable trait. I don’t know if any of you are parents, but I know if I was in the room with limited food with my daughter that she would be the one eating. Is that stupid or immoral? Now, sure, I wouldn’t do that for everyone, but I still think it’s a better way.
Well, yes, I do have children, three in fact, and I might do it for them as well. But for only one reason, they share 50% of my genes, and they are younger than me, giving the genes a better chance for survival. Richard Dawkins makes this rationale clear in “The Selfish Gene.”
As far as it being an admirable trait to put non-blood relatives ahead of oneself, I think not. It’s hypocritical and it only creates confusion. Ultimately when the chips are down, we will choose number one. Our ancestors had to make this choice for us, or we wouldn’t be here. It’s the way of the world.
What a load of garbage.
BlackSun, you state that you might “do it for them” and therefore allow them to live instead of you because they share 50% of your genes and are younger than you? So love to you if it exists at all must be nothing more than the firing of neurons along genetically predisposed pathways?
Yes, love must be considered a human frailty acceptable for the sustainment of the race but selectively reserved only for those you either share your genes (children) and those with whom one mates with.
I feel very great sorrow for your children and hope that none of them read your post. A shameful display of cowardice indeed. Yes it takes courage to love especially in a world so full of hate.
Now that you have found your shadow it appears you have embodied it. A very dark existance devoid of any true nobility, honor and joy.
As you alluded to, Jesus did not write the New Testament ( or any other teachings. Buddha never wrote anything down either. Muhammad told verses of the Koran as he received them from the angel Gabriel. After the death of Muhammad a manuscript that was creeated while he lived was burned by a small group of men and the Koran as we know it today was written.
I thank God that you and those you are bonded with are and will always be a minority. You lack the true courage that would have opened the door to the mysteries of self and Self.
It is much easier to say that that this world of our five senses is all there is for man to reach, than to admit that you lacked the spine to propel yourself to the stars. Pity.
You claim to have made a search for God while you were yet young. You spent your youth in positions of power over others that you neither earned nor did you treat those subordinate to you with kindness. Very often you were a tyrant (an SUV loving tyrant).
If in all those years you did not believe what Mark and Elizabeth (your father and mother ) taught, then why pretend that you did? And why wait until you are 30 years old to leave the church? Please don’t give me that brain washing mumbo jumbo. You wrote, lectured, mentored, but in the end you were a sham because you were not man enough to admit whether publically or in private to your mother, that you had doubts, fears. Knowing your mother as I do she would have been the first to suggest you leave the church and make your own search.
Finally your formerly veiled religious hatred and hostility comes out. Frankly, I’ve never met a dyed-in-the-wool religionist where it didn’t. I’ve found that challenging people’s cherished beliefs is a sure-fire way of provoking vitriol. I don’t relish the reaction, but I do like the result, which is to make you think, if only for a second.
I don’t owe you a response. But I am going to respond here for the record, so that neither you nor anyone else think I’m afraid to face my past or my own misdeeds.
But the comments are for reasoned debate and respectful conversation. You’ve crossed the line and engaged in ad hominem attacks. Now that you’ve shown your true colors, I’m officially asking you to stay the hell off my blog. You’re obviously only here to gawk and take potshots. You’re definitely not interested in learning anything or participating in a meaningful dialogue. So from now on, I will simply delete your comments.
Let’s be clear: I’m not writing this blog for social approval or to make friends. Ideas and reason are more important to me than people. If I find people along the way who share my passion, so much the better. Reason and objectivity form the “universal acid” that washes away bullshit and unsavory attitudes. This fact trancends personalities and wishful thinking.
And yes, my kids do read my blog. (I hired Nate to do the logo, isn’t it nice?) They have their own views, which don’t always jive with mine, (I wouldn’t want them to–I want them to think for themselves). They’re not swayed by superstition or sentimentality. They know that I love them. And they certainly don’t need your pity. How dare you?
My sons understand the genetic basis of life, and they know the rules that govern their existence (which I didn’t make, as if I have to remind you). Love IS simply a matter of biology, and biological imperatives. Even the notions of free will are now being questioned by geneticists. It may all be an illusion.
You act so shocked by my simplistic example of “game theory.” My kids are way ahead of you. We discuss these kinds of things all the time. They read Dawkins, Dennett, and Kurzweil. They are actually interested in science, and understanding their world. And they’re not scared of the implications.
Here’s another “game” for you: If there are two burning buildings, one with your child, and another with 120 children that are unrelated to you, it is still moral for you to save your own child and let the others die. At 128 children, the balance tips, and you should save them and let your own child burn to death. This is because you would have more DNA in common with the 128 children than with your own child, on average.
These are calculations that none of us hopes to have to make, and that no one wants to talk about. But they are true nonetheless. That’s part of what I’m talking about when I say “face the shadow.” We are killers descended from killers. Nature makes cold calculations. That’s the human condition.
By the way, it’s disingenuous and insulting in the extreme for you to claim to tell me anything about how my own mother would have felt, or what she would have said to me. First you pity my kids, then you claim to speak for my mother. What a crock.
I’ll be posting a revealing conversation in the near future, which was the last lucid talk I ever had with my mother. If you want to know what she REALLY said to me, you know where to find it.
I’ve firmly repudiated my CUT existence for 12 years, but you won’t let it die. In the “about” section of this blog, I’ve already acknowledged that I was elevated to positions of power I did not deserve. And we all know that power corrupts. I’m clearly not an exception to that rule. So I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I work every day to earn and keep the trust of those I value in my life. Ask them about me, if you want to understand the man I am today. Twelve years after CUT, my circle is now composed of people who live for themselves, not some imagined ‘god’. These are people who I appreciate, who appreciate me, and who understand true reciprocity. My life is enriched by my friends and family, and I’m truly happier than you can imagine.
As far as SUV’s are concerned, I had no choice but to drive my church-issued vehicle on dirt roads in Montana (In the late ’80s and early ’90s when gas was $1.39 a gallon) What of it? Does that mean I can never repent that behavior? Does it mean I can never work for positive world change?
And no, when I was a minister, I wasn’t brainwashed. I take responsibility for my presence in the Church, and my actions there. I had varying levels of belief during my tenure. But the more hypocrisy I saw, the less I believed. So it took me a little while to come to my senses. Apparently, you’re still planning to spend your ENTIRE life in YOUR delusion. At least mine lasted “only” 30 years.
I’m pretty sure the reason you hate me so much–and the reason you keep lurking on my blog–is because I’ve managed to plant the seeds of doubt in your mind. Well, good. That was my goal.
Enjoy your “higher Self” and your trip to the “stars.” It must be quite the fantasy you’ve concocted for yourself, especially if you’re willing to stake your life on it. As for me, the only way I’m ever getting to the stars is in a man-made rocket. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get my ashes scattered on the moon.
I think that it will come out that she was on SSRI antidepressants – you need to research the side effects! We have personal experience with the effects on family members. My brother threatened to “assasinate” my sister when he was on Prozac. My mother in law bit and slapped us (and never did it again once off of Prozac). People on these drugs do very uncharacteristic things while in a sleep walk state – just look at Mary Winkler’s eyes. It is always the same story – “they were such a great couple” or “she was such a sweet child” etc, etc. Check out the school shooters. Debbie Lafave. Andrea Yates. look at the website http://www.antidepressantsfacts.com for many other articles and studies. Wake up, America!
Thanks Aaron. Also enjoying your comments on Vox Populi!
You may be right about risks of antidepressants for certain users. I’m sure we’ll find out whether Winkler was taking them or not. I know that antidepressants DO help some people, improving their lives dramatically.
I also know that it’s a position of Scientology to oppose antidepressants categorically. Are you a Scientologist? Either way, I think a better approach would be to study the antidepressant risk factors, and develop more gentle medications for those who can’t tolerate the standard ones.
I’m frankly more concerned about the conditions that lead to antidepressant use for people who have made bad life choices and are chronically unhappy. Religious repression of sexuality and other natural aspects of human nature is a big problem in the U.S. Get rid of this repression, and AntiD use would drop dramatically (This highlights the fact that Big Pharma is an unintended beneficiary of religion).
I’d also like to see some licensing requirements and certification of clergy by a secular regulatory body. Psychiatrists are required to have 5-7 years of school and thousands of hours of internship and case studies before they are licensed to practice. Clergy only need the ‘blessing’ of other clergy.
When Mary Winkler killed her husband, she was obviously acting out some form of spiritual or psychological pathology. We will no doubt find out much more before her trial is over. There’s no way that the husband is a complete innocent, either. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Mechanisms need to be in place to prevent such sick individuals from being put in charge of the psychological and spiritual health of entire communities.
I’m not optimistic about this. Americans tend to cut the churches way too much slack. If it were not so, the egregious sexual molestation scandal would have already shut down the catholic church years ago.
Since it hasn’t, I’m sure we can also look forward to potential murderers continuing to lead congregations nationwide. I’m just glad neither I nor any of my friends or family will be anywhere near such nonsense.