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I Received no Consulting Fees for Writing This Blog Entry

June 14th, 2012

Plus a Pork Tour de Force

I should be working on my amp cabinet, but I just can’t. I’m high on pork.

I made an impulse buy at Costco the other day. How shocking. They had two pounds of smoked pulled pork for eight bucks. How could I turn that down? Besides, I think I would buy a leaky bag of anthrax spores if it said “Kirkland” on it.

Today I decided to prepare it.

I was considering putting it in a calzone. It would work as lechon asado, so I could make pan con lechon with Swiss cheese. That’s an unbelievable sandwich. Or I could experiment: BBQ pulled pork calzone.

In the end, I went with Texas toast.

I made a loaf of homemade bread, which takes about four minutes of work. I threw some cole slaw together, and I bought a baking potato, which I nuked (cheating) and then stuck in the oven to finish. I made my own BBQ sauce, and I sliced an onion.

I fried the onion in some old beef fat/peanut oil I used for fries. I used cast iron. I tossed the pork in, flambeed it in Jack Daniel’s, and tossed it with sauce. I fried two slices of bread in butter, which is just plain wrong. Then I sat down and ate.

Oh, man. I can’t describe it. As sold by Costco, the pork is not quite as good as pork you smoke on your own. But it’s more than adequate. It’s tender, and it has a nice hickory flavor. The stuff I put in it just melted into the meat. The bread was crunchy and drippy and buttery and yeasty. I think I may faint.

The cole slaw was also a cheat. I bought shredded cabbage and carrots in a bag and added my own stuff. I don’t think it makes much difference. I can’t shred cabbage any better than a factory can.

The potato was not quite right, but the wonderful thing about potatoes is that screwing them up can make them better. This one ended up with parts that were a little too chewy, and it may sound stupid, but they were wonderful. If I were cooking seriously, I wouldn’t go near the microwave, but this was just lunch, and the potato was great.

This sandwich was so good, it was sobering. Sometimes food makes you giddy. When it’s really good, it’s almost scary. It will make you serious. It will make you wonder how good food can get. That’s the situation I am dealing with today.

I can’t believe God lets me cook like this. What is the purpose? I can’t eat it all. I threw out a lot of my lunch because you can’t eat like that and expect to live.

I have an idea. My new church is thinking about feeding the poor. I’m all for this, and I’ll help, PROVIDED they do it right. There is no reason the poor can’t have the best food in Miami. The cost of food has no relationship to the quality. It’s all in the preparation. I’m thinking pulled pork sandwiches might be a good way to go. At most, the pork will cost $1.50 per pound. Homemade bread is almost free. Sauce ingredients aren’t expensive. Neither is slaw. For three bucks a head, we should be able to pretty well stun the poor, as well as the volunteers and anyone else who comes around.

We would need a couple of chafing dishes plus a big propane skillet. That’s about it.

Speaking of the poor, I learned something about a local nonprofit today. My old church has a charity wing. I know someone who went to them for help. He claimed they sat him in front of a computer and showed him links to places that could help him out. Did they give him money or groceries? He said no, although he had given money to the church in the past.

In the recent Pentecost fundraising drive (“Five Victories of Pentecost”), the leadership said they were going to give the special Pentecost offerings to the poor, via their charity wing. I ran that by my dad, the non-Christian attorney. He said, “So he’s paying HIMSELF.” The conflict of interest was not subtle. If you run a church, and you ask the congregation to give money to a charity, and you run the charity, and the charity pays you, what are you really doing? Maybe you’re not taking any money out, but what if you are? Shouldn’t donors be told how much and for what?

Out of curiosity, I Googled, and I came up with a PDF of some Canadian government documents. They say the church’s charity wing lost its nonprofit status in Canada in 2010, because they failed to respond to requests that they open their books and show that they were doing what charities do.

Okay, let’s be fair. This could be irresponsibility. This would not be a big surprise, given what I have observed personally. So far, what I’ve said doesn’t prove dishonesty. But here’s something one of the letters said: “The Organization’s only expenses for the period under audit were for non-charitable ‘Professional and consulting fees.’ The Organization did not report any expenses in support of the ‘ongoing programs’ as described in question C2 of its T3010s.”

You run an outfit which is supposed to be a charity; it’s supposed to give stuff to the poor. But as far as the Canadian government can tell, ALL–not some–of your expenses are for “Professional and consulting fees.”

You can see why it disturbed me. “Consulting” is a good excuse for organizations to funnel money to people who don’t really do anything of value. Michelle Obama made huge money “consulting.” And I think it’s fair to assume that none of the fees mentioned by the Canadians were paid to the poor (who are rarely hired as consultants). If a charity pays consultants, yet it gives nothing to the poor, what, exactly, is the point of the consulting? What are the consultants helping them do? Consultants are supposed to give advice. I think the obvious suggestion would be, “Stop giving all of the money to consultants and professionals and give something to the needy.”

Other websites say the charity received six figures a year. How can all of that money go to consulting and “professional” services?

Maybe there’s a legitimate explanation, but it doesn’t look good, does it?

A full-blown grifter–a charlatan with no intention of doing anything but getting rich–might leave a trail just like this. Money in, no services provided, and lots of expenditures for vague “fees.” So while the PDF doesn’t prove anything crooked is going on, if something crooked WERE going on, it would not look much different. I have decided to show the PDF to some friends and see what they think.

In any case, it shows I was right to quit giving them money. A long time ago, I realized they asked for money and then told donors nearly nothing about how it was spent. By “nearly nothing,” I mean I did not receive accountings showing how much money was taken in and how it was spent. I cut them off, apart from church offerings. I found transparent, trustworthy ministries and charities to give to.

They didn’t tell me where the money went. That’s bad. Reputable charities send out reports accounting for their donations. But failing to cooperate with the government of Canada…that’s another level of bad. It shows they don’t deserve money from anyone. If they’re that irresponsible or incompetent, how can you expect them to spend their money effectively?

What if they’re really helping the poor? Shouldn’t they keep books that prove it? What’s the down side? Jesus told us we were to keep quiet about giving, but he was referring to individuals, not ministries. Besides, before Pentecost, the pastor got up and told the congregation he and his wife were giving a thousand dollars in the Pentecost drive. Obviously, he is not concerned about hiding his good deeds.

This isn’t the only nonprofit that keeps things quiet. Kenneth Copeland refused to open his books when Congress came calling. On Youtube, there’s a video in which Copeland explains that Congress is full of evil people who do Satan’s bidding, and that he, as God’s representative on earth, is not accountable to them. That’s not really what he said, but it’s not that far off. If he’s not open with Congress, he’s not open with his donors, either, because if the donors had the information, it would have been impossible to keep it away from Congress, so he would have complied.

How can anyone give money to a man like that? What possible reason could he have for refusing to tell retirees and people on disability what he does with their money? He is incredibly wealthy. It didn’t all come from penny stocks and brilliant commodity trades made on a pastor’s salary; I guarantee that. Why won’t he tell us how he got where he is?

It’s sad, but Christians are so brainwashed about submission to authority, they can’t see it when the devil himself walks up the aisle and picks up the collection plate. Jesus said we should be as harmless as doves, but he also said we should be as wise as serpents. A man who won’t explain himself to his flock has no business handling other people’s money.

I pray for God to help the leaders at my old church get it together, but I also pray he throws them out and brings better pastors in. I hope they improve, but I don’t think the congregation should suffer while they learn. They’ve had a long time to get it right, and it’s not right for thousands of people to have poor leadership just so a few folks can hold onto their jobs.

My faith tells me God is replacing them, and as I have noted before, the scuttlebutt is that the head pastor is on his way out. I didn’t hear about that until after I prayed for the leaders to be replaced.

In other news, my latest amp now almost has a home. Here’s a photo.

I am not a great upholsterer, but it looks wonderful. I don’t know how to handle the inside corners in the ivory panel. I am considering experimenting with a heat gun. The vinyl will have to be stretched, if the job is to look professional. As it is, I may have to mask it with some sort of metal or plastic things I screw into the corners, over the vinyl.

The amp sounds magnificent. I can’t stop playing it. It sings. I still have some 120 Hz hum to get rid of, but it’s not bad enough to be a major concern. Once I get it fixed, I’m moving on to my 4-EL84 version.

Stay away from that Costco pork. I am just now starting to come down.

More

I’m really not sure what’s going on. I have been re-reading the Canadian government’s documents, which you can find here:

Link to Canadian gov’t documents.

The organization that had its nonprofit credentials revoked is headquartered in Miami, and it belongs (or belonged) to the head pastor of the church. But it doesn’t have the name the church’s charity wing uses. The Canadians were puzzled by this, too. In trying to get information, they looked at the current charity’s website.

Now I have to wonder: is it even the same outfit? Is it possible they let this organization lapse (irresponsible, but not inherently crooked) while setting up the new one? That would explain why they ignored inquiries from Canada.

If we were talking about a responsible organization like The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, there would be no questions. They publish and mail an annual report to their donors, and it accounts for all of the money they receive. I know Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s salary, because of that report. With my old church and its affiliates, who knows? Maybe they generally let people look at their books, but for some reason, they decided to shut Canada out. Maybe everything they do is legal and ethical. I have no idea. I don’t recall receiving any annual reports.

The organization the Canadians disqualified used this language in describing its purpose:

[T]o evangelize and educate young people and their families regarding drugs, suicide, and moral values

That doesn’t sound like what the current charity is purportedly doing. As far as I know, they occasionally round stuff up and send it to Haiti, and as I’ve said, they refer poor people to organizations that give them assistance. So maybe it’s a different body entirely.

Here is how the charity’s website describes its activities:

When a person in need enters our office we will immediately hear the person’s need and respond with appropriate resources. Often the response will be a referral to another resource. [Italics mine.]

Anyway, I don’t want to be unfair. The church’s charity has one name, and the organization in the Canadian documents has another, so they may be different entities, and it is completely possible that the church’s charity is doing more for the poor than I suspect.

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One Response to “I Received no Consulting Fees for Writing This Blog Entry”

  1. Sparrow Says:

    I am always leery of any church where the pastor controls too much, particularly in the area of finances. It’s a recipe for disaster. EVERYONE needs to be accountable; it’s for our own good. Absolute power…