Monday, October 22, 2007

Why am I not Surprised?

Little tidbit of news I received today: Apparently a celebrated church member steals money for a living, dies, and gets praise anyway. The article shows me a number of ways that fundies can be really stupid and arbitrary about morality. They just can't come out and speak ill of people who are truly evil.

First, for those who didn't click through, here's a bit of background:

"Derrich was most like Jesus in that he gave," the funeral program at Great Hills Baptist Church in Northwest Austin said of the man who attended weekly Bible studies and flew relief supplies to hurricane victims.

But since his death, lawsuits have flooded the probate court in Austin claiming that what Pollock really did was take.

Sixty-two lawsuits have been filed against Pollock's estate, his wife and a few of his friends, painting a portrait of a man who used his charm to bilk friends and fellow believers out of millions of dollars. Most of the suits say he used a scheme called System Five involving big promises and enormous amounts of life insurance that he began buying in 2004.

It sounds to me like his generosity towards hurricane victims was an attempt to relieve his conscience. Reminds me of a Doctor Who quote (thanks go to Bourgeois_Rage for finding exact wording):
Doctor: "You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, a little victim's spared. Because she smiled... because he's got freckles... cos they begged... and that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter millions. Because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction... you happen to be kind."
If this had been the result of open theft to aid the unfortunate, I might be a bit more forgiving, but con artists don't merely cause property loss: They betray trust for a living. Treachery is how they put expensive food on the table. The sending of these supplies was probably just this guy's tiny, occasional, random act of kindness he uses to not feel bad about all the evil he does.

Just to put the thing in scale:

$4 million, according to a lawsuit. And bankruptcy records filed by his wife, Julee Pollock, show that more than 100 investors are owed more than $7 million. The bankruptcy records include not only the amount people invested, but also the profit that investors claim they would have earned.

In the lawsuits, investors say they should be paid back with the $9 million in life insurance that Derrich Pollock took out on himself because, they say, he used their money to pay the insurance premiums.

He had promised investors that if anything happened to him, they would be paid back from the life insurance policies, according to lawsuits and a letter from the state securities board to an insurance company lawyer. The beneficiaries of the insurance policies were his wife of 20 years and at least two friends, who have all declined to comment.

One of the beneficiaries, Rod Watkins, is an associate minister at New Life Family Fellowship Church in Caddo Mills, about 40 miles northeast of Dallas. The church has also filed a lawsuit against Pollock's estate claiming that it lost $885,000 in investments.

Investors were motivated by trust.

And that last part is what this is about. To a con artist, the trust of other people is nothing but a tool towards his selfish ends. They are not nice people. But that doesn't stop people from rationalizing:
"Derrich was exactly like the rest of us, a sinner who rebelled from a holy God and fell far short of his glory," Rowley said.
He didn't just fall far short of an allegedly omnibenevolent being: He fell far short of any civilized person. There's a reason why we have a habit of putting people like this, known as criminals, into big buildings where they'll have a hard time hurting other people.
"No, Derrich didn't stop sinning after he became a Christian," Rowley said. "The difference between him and other sinners was he was simply a sinner saved by God's grace."
And we have the fundie lesson for today: There's no point to being a minimally decent person as long as you're supporting the right sort of diabolism.

7 comments:

Bourgeois_Rage said...

Is this the one?

Doctor: You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then, a little victim's spared. Because she smiled... because he's got freckles... cos they begged... and that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter millions. Because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction... you happen to be kind.

Bronze Dog said...

Yup. That's the one.

Dikkii said...

We have this satirical TV show down here called The Chaser's War on Everything. The Chaser boys love to slaughter sacred cows in their approach to satire.

Last week they got into hot water by doing a song which took pot shots at dead people, the underlying message being that we as a society tend to focus on people through rose-coloured glasses when they die, no matter how heinous their lives were.

The fact that this was controversial, and your post, says more about our social taboo on shaming dead people than anything else.

Personally, I think that this taboo is pretty stupid, and the reason for it ("dead people can't respond/refute/sue/fight back.") is not a particularly strong one.

However, it is a secular taboo. It's not limited to fundies - we all do it, even if new information comes to light after someone dies.

Bronze Dog said...

I saw them on The Secret. Based on that clip, I think I can summarily conclude that they rock.

Anonymous said...

The good Christian/Ponzi schemer was my neighbor. He was a total ***hole in life and was loathed by his neighbors. When he died, a few of the neighbors got together, had a few drinks, and discussed how each of us felt uncomfortable about feeling rather indifferent about the death of another human being(for the first time). Usually, when someone you know dies, you mourn. There was no mourning. We weren't exactly celebrating, but somehow we collectively felt that there is such thing as 'karma.' The universe righted itself, if just for a moment....

Dark Jaguar said...

Well personally I consider "karma" nonsense too. As I see it you can't count on "the universe" to meet out punishment and if you want something "righted" you have to do it yourself, because no one else is going to.

Anonymous said...

http://www.fcs-texas.com/response_to_the_austin_american_statesmen.htm