dogs, LDS, religion, true crime, YouTube

Religion can really complicate, or even end, a person’s life…

Happy Wednesday, all. I was thinking about writing a very different post this morning, as I remember our sweet Arran. I think it’s finally sinking in for Bill and me that he’s gone. We’ve both been a little bit “blue” this week, as we realize that Arran was a constant for literally half our marriage– right down to the actual midpoint of our 20 years and 4 months together. We had Arran for 10 years and 2 months.

I’ve already had a cry this morning, as I watched a few videos on YouTube that are a dog’s eye view of a human battling breast cancer. Noyzi joined me for the last one and gazed lovingly at me. I thought maybe I’d write about how I felt after spending five months treating Arran’s lymphoma. I know there are a lot of dog folks out there who are grappling with the decision about what to do after a cancer diagnosis.

The voice they used for this dog is pretty annoying, but the dogs are adorable and so loving. Yes, this made me cry. So did the other two I watched from this channel.

But… I have decided I don’t really want to write about that today. I don’t think I’m quite ready. I’m not sorry we had five extra months with Arran, especially since he was mostly pretty well the whole time. I’m also not sorry we made the decision we did on Friday. It was time. I do miss him a lot, though. I think I will be ready to write a post about the experience as a whole soon. I suspect that many people will find it useful.

Anyway… onward to today’s topic.

Lately, I’ve heard a few tragic stories about women who married seemingly God fearing religious men, only to find out that their pious husbands are complete and total creeps. The most glaring example of such a person is Anna Duggar, who has been married to her sex pest husband, Josh, since 2008. Josh Duggar, as we know, is currently in prison for a truly disgusting crime involving sexually abusing children. He is, himself, the father of seven children with Anna. And although he hasn’t even “celebrated” a year in federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, Josh has already gotten into trouble and lost some of his “good time”. He was supposed to be released in August 2032, but now it looks like he’ll be getting out of prison in October 2032… and that’s if he doesn’t screw up again.

Josh recently got caught with a cell phone and had to spend some time in the “special housing unit”. Now, Anna can’t visit him.

Anna Duggar was raised in a Christian “fundie” cult, and she married Josh, who was also raised in a Christian “fundie” cult. She probably believed that God would provide her with a “godly” husband, who would love and protect her and their children. Instead, she got married to a criminal, had seven kids, and now has sharply limited choices. If I were Anna, I think I’d want to write a book and cash in to being married to a Duggar… but that would have its own consequences. Look at what’s happened to Prince Harry.

Josh is a creep for sure, but at least he’s not a killer. I’ve read many awful stories about women who married supposedly “Christian” men who turned out to be capable of murder. Most recently, there’s been news about a LDS dentist from Colorado named James Toliver Craig who allegedly murdered his wife, Angela.

I first heard about this case yesterday, as the news reported that Dr. Craig’s wife died rather suddenly and the dentist was being held without bond in jail. According to several news accounts, Jim Craig was having an affair. He also had issues with porn addiction and gambling, and his dental practice was being “run into the ground” by his misdeeds.

The Daily Mail is admittedly not the greatest source for information, but according to a very recent article, Angela Craig had expressed concerns about her 16 year marriage to her sister. The couple, who had six beautiful children together, appeared to be a “perfect” family. But, behind the scenes, Angela was struggling to maintain her relationship with her husband, who repaid her by being unfaithful and allegedly poisoning her to death. Every time she mentioned wanting to leave him, he somehow talked her into staying in the marriage. Not listening to her gut has, unfortunately, led her to an early grave.

Even as Angela was dying in the hospital, Dr. Craig was sending her long, “loving” messages… with no obvious clues that he was apparently behind her being hospitalized in the first place. He flew his mistress to Colorado from Texas, while Angela languished in a hospital room. Multiple news outlets have shared links to the couple’s shared Facebook account. The social media accounts paint the family as practically “perfect”, with all of the trappings of success, right down to perfect, white smiles.

If you were to go by this video, Dr. Craig might seem like a great dentist…
Mady says Dr. Craig is really “sweet and kind”. He’s been trained to come across that way. I’m sure he’s basically a competent dentist, but he’s also a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Mike likes Dr. Craig, too… or at least he did before the awful news came out this week.

I’m sure when James and Angela married, Angela had visions of him leading her to the highest echelons of Heaven, according to the Latter-day Saints’ beliefs. Mormons believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and the couple has to be righteous, and “sealed” in the temple in order to get to the Celestial Kingdom. Children who died before they’re eight years old also go straight to the Celestial Kingdom. The first step to that highest level of glory is for a woman to marry a temple worthy man, preferably one who has served a mission for the church. I’m sure Angela thought she’d found the right man when she married James Craig, a friendly dentist who, if we’re to believe some of his customer testimonials, had a thriving business with loyal patients.

It was probably important for Angela to marry someone who had the same religious beliefs she had. I’m sure that when the couple had problems, Angela relied on her faith to help her persevere. She probably hesitated to divorce, in part, because divorcing in the LDS church can be very fraught with issues, especially a couple is “sealed”. Even a legal divorce doesn’t cancel a sealing. Men can be sealed to more than one woman, but women have to get a “cancellation of sealing”, or a “temple divorce”. They aren’t always easy to get. A lot seems to depend on who a person knows, and how much money they’ve tithed.

According to news reports, Jim Craig had a history of drugging his wife. He had drugged her on another occasion, ostensibly because he was planning to commit suicide and didn’t want her to stop him. When she was in the hospital, Angela had told her husband that she felt “drugged”. Craig’s response was,

“Given our history I know that must be triggering. Just for the record, I didn’t drug you. I am super worried though. You really looked pale before I left. Like in your lips even.”

Authorities found evidence that Craig had researched poisons on his work computer and even had some delivered to his practice. A co-worker discovered the poisons and reported finding them to the police. From ABC:

While Angela Craig was hospitalized for the final time on Wednesday, one of her husband’s business partners told a nurse about James Craig’s delivery of potassium cyanide at their medical practice, noting there was no need to have the chemical in the office, the affidavit says. The nurse then reported this to police, setting off the investigation into Angela Craig’s death.

Craig had suggested his wife was suicidal, but there were no indications of her having suicidal intentions in her medical records. When Angela Craig died on March 18th, Craig would not consent to an autopsy. He allegedly said that if the doctors couldn’t figure out what had happened to his wife when she was living, he didn’t want them poking her when she was dead. Naturally, Craig’s objections to the autopsy have now been overruled.

What does Josh Duggar have in common with Jim Craig, besides being locked up and having issues with pornography? Both are men who, on the surface, appear to be very faithful to Christian based religious beliefs. But they join a large group of religious men who turn out to be much less “godly” than they appear. The piousness is a cover up for who and what they really are. And both men are married to women who were or are determined to stay married to them, most likely because of their religious beliefs.

I’ve written at least once about Ed and Lois Smart, parents of Elizabeth Smart. The couple divorced when Ed came out as gay. I think it’s too bad that Ed couldn’t simply love the person he wanted to love, rather than spending years “faking it” in a heterosexual marriage. But, at least in the Smart family, everyone is still living. I just think it must have been very hard for the Smarts, not just because their daughter, Elizabeth, was kidnapped by a fundamentalist Mormon rapist psychopath, but also because they felt they had to live by the intrusive and restrictive rules of a religion. Lois Smart no doubt married Ed believing that he would usher her into the Celestial Kingdom someday. That can’t happen now, unless she gets a temple divorce and marries someone else who is worthy.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I know there are a lot of people who are very grateful to religion for helping them cope with life. However, I’ve been exposed to so many stories about people who are caught in faith related crises. Most of the people simply have issues regarding their beliefs, and whether or not they can maintain the cognitive dissonance required to keep believing in the unbelievable, as they also struggle to keep to the rules. But some people end up in truly horrifying situations that would be awful enough if religion weren’t part of them.

I mean, even if Anna Duggar weren’t a fundamentalist Christian, she’d still be struggling a lot right now. The fact that she has deep rooted religious beliefs that keep her tied to a man who will be in prison for years only complicates matters. She doesn’t have a formal education, so getting suitable work in order to support her large family is difficult. Now, she’s stuck under Jim Bob Duggar’s authority. And if she hadn’t been super religious, she might not have had seven children. I’m sure she loves all of her kids, but taking care of a family that size, especially when your husband is a notorious criminal, is an extremely difficult task… even if you do have God on your side.

And Angela Craig– just 43 years old, with plenty of time to divorce Jim Craig and find someone much better– is now dead. Her six children are now, no doubt thrust into a chaotic situation. My heart goes out to their children who are still minors, as their father is likely to be in prison for many years, if not for the rest of his life. I admit that I don’t know anything about Angela, other than what I’ve read, but I do wonder if she would have considered marrying other people who might have been better people, but weren’t members of the church.

My own husband’s experiences with religion have also led to complications. In his case, the religion was used as a parental alienation tool against him. And being in the church wasn’t very useful to him, but it cost him a lot of money in tithing and time to consider what he should be doing with his life. Ultimately, joining the LDS church didn’t save his marriage to Ex, either… but I don’t see that as a negative thing.

I think if there’s anything to learn from these cases– just two of many cases involving true crime and religion– it’s that you can’t always trust what you see on the surface. People who appear to be super religious quite often turn out to be awful people. Like anything else, they use the religion to hide what lurks deep down. According to The Daily Mail article I linked, many former patients claimed that he ripped them off by doing unnecessary work, and some wrote that the work he did wasn’t of good quality and had to be redone. But he maintained a facade of goodness, by working in an anti-bullying campaign with the Denver Police Department called “WE CAN HELP”. Yeah… it all looks good on the surface, but it’s all a front to hide something sinister and evil. Too many religious situations turn out to be abusive and hypocritical, at best.

I feel sad for Angela Craig’s family. I hope they get justice. And I hope Anna Duggar eventually wises up and divorces Josh, who, according to Katie Joy, is apparently cheating on her with a transgender inmate, anyway.

I’m not an atheist myself, but I’m really glad I’m not hyper-religious. And I’m glad Bill isn’t, either.

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memories, nostalgia, social media

Sometimes beer takes me places I never expected to go…

If you attempt to read this, please do me a favor and try to make it to the end before passing judgment.

A couple of days ago, I did a search of my own posts on Facebook. I don’t even remember what I was hoping to find. Maybe it’s because I drink a lot of beer. ūüėČ In any case, when I did that search, I unexpectedly found today’s featured photo. I got a kick out of it for many nostalgic reasons.

That photo was taken 30 years ago, during my junior year at what was then known as Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia. It’s a pretty special picture for many nostalgic reasons… including some I’ve just realized so many years later. I’ll get to why in a few paragraphs, if you’ll just indulge me a bit.

My junior year roommate was a year older than me, and the one I got along with best during my college years. She was a very serious student– extremely hard working and high achieving. I don’t know if this is still true, but at the time, she was said to be the very last organ performance major at Longwood. Her goal was to be a music teacher. I hung out with a lot of music majors. They were some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known.

This roommate and I got along very well, which is an amazing thing. We lived on the third floor of South Cunningham, which has since been demolished. In fact, the room I had during my sophomore year is no longer used as a dormitory. It’s now an administration building. Those of us who went to Longwood College, as opposed to Longwood University, have very different memories of the campus. It really has changed that much. I guess it leads to bonding on Facebook.

I’m always a little dismayed when I realize that I went through SEVEN Longwood roommates, and that was even with two semesters during which I had my own room. Sometimes I feel like I’m just not a very likeable person who isn’t compatible with most others, even though Bill and I are ridiculously compatible.

Then, when I think about it, I realize that my roommate situation is not as bad as it sounds. One year, I temporarily had a second roommate who eventually got kicked out of school. One year, my roommate joined a sorority and moved in with her new “sisters”. I had the room to myself in the spring. Another year, I had a roommate for a few weeks, until she left to student teach. Then I got a new roommate during the spring semester before my graduation, and we got along fine.

Then there’s my very first roommate, “Margaret” (not her real name) with whom I only spent a week before she basically kicked me out of the room so her slutty friend across the hall could move in. I’ve already blogged about her, though…

Before anyone comes at me, let me just say that I know it’s not nice to call someone a slut, but that was basically what Margaret’s friend and future roommate was like. We had been at college for a mere week, and she just wanted to skank around with fraternity guys. My former roommate delusionally thought the frat guys would like her, too, so she tagged along with her friend of one week. I understand from my former suitemates that their living arrangement didn’t work out very well.

If I hadn’t been in the middle of that mess during my first week of college, I might have felt sorry for my former roommate. The chick from across the hall– who openly and unabashedly spoke of her “twat” itching (yes, she literally said this– and I was confused because, at the time, I don’t even think I knew what a twat was)– was probably just using ex roommate for her money.

Margaret had a lot of money, but to be blunt, she was definitely not a looker. But she and fraternity skank showed me nothing but contempt, so I don’t have a lot of regard for either of them. Besides, it all worked out for the best. Both of those women left Longwood after our freshman year, and this article isn’t about them, anyway. So, I’ll move on. ūüėČ

Junior year was a pretty good year for me. That was the one year I finally had a good friend as a roommate. Because I was 20 years old, I couldn’t buy my own booze… except at a couple of places that never carded people. My friend, who wasn’t a drinker, helped me buy a case of Bud Dry at what was then a Harris Teeter supermarket (I think it’s now a Kroger). Bud Dry was highfalutin’ beer in those days. I usually drank Natural Light or something of that caliber. There was a Canadian beer called Arctic Bay that I used to get all the time. I don’t think they make it anymore. I know Bud Dry is now defunct, as of 2010.

Being 20 years old and not very experienced in the ways of the world, I honestly thought Bud Dry was good stuff. So I packed it into my dented and RENTED dorm fridge and took a picture for posterity. At some point, I shared the photo on Facebook, where a lot of laughs and discussion ensued. As I mentioned up post, South Cunningham was demolished, but it was a much loved home at Longwood for a lot of students. So that photo of Bud Dry was definitely prime sharing material. First, I shared it on my personal page; then I shared it in a group for Longwood College alums (as opposed to Longwood University alums).

At this writing, about 250 people in the group have liked the photo, and there have been a lot of lively comments about it. Most of the comments have been about what “expensive” tastes I had, since I wasn’t drinking Milwaukee’s Best (Beast) or its ilk. Again, the reason there was a photo was because I was “proud” of drinking Bud Dry. I thought I was living large. I was, but only in terms of my clothing size. ūüėÄ

I was enjoying the Facebook commentary about the photo when I noticed someone with a familiar, yet unusual, last name had “liked” it. Suddenly, I remembered a woman I knew of because of my second Longwood roommate, the woman who had joined Kappa Delta sorority and moved in with her “sisters” during the spring of my freshman year.

Though I never joined a sorority myself, I eventually learned that most of them had nicknames based on their campus reputations. I also found out that a sorority chapter on one campus might be totally different than they’d be on another. For instance, I have some cousins who were Sigma Kappas at the University of Georgia. The Sigma Kappas at Longwood when I was a student there were known as really “smart” and kind of nerdy. But my cousins, if they had gone to Longwood, were probably more like Kappa Deltas or maybe Zeta Tau Alphas, both of which were founded at Longwood. Actually, if they had gone to Longwood, my cousins would have probably pledged ZTA, because their grandmother, my Aunt Jeanne, was a ZTA at Longwood.

My roommate after “Margaret” was a woman who happened to have the same first and last name as Margaret did. However, she spelled her first name differently and went by a nickname. I’ll call her “Maggy”. She was the opposite of Margaret. While Margaret was a narcissistic asshole who wore braces, and was morbidly obese, Maggy was slim, cool, and pretty. She was a natural for the “KD ladies”, as she told me they were known as at Longwood.

Maggy and I weren’t destined to be long term friends, but she was a much better fit than Margaret was. At least she didn’t come in during the middle of the night and turn on the overhead light while I was sleeping, right? In fact, a lot of nights, she slept with her boyfriend. That was cool for me!

Anyway, Maggy was very busy during the semester she pledged her sorority. She had a composite photo of all of the “sisters”. I remember seeing that photo every day during my first semester at Longwood. I remember most of the women in that photo were really conventionally pretty, like Maggy was. However, there was one woman who stood out in the composite photo. She was very attractive, but not in the super pretty way the others were. She had what seemed like a rare kind of charisma. I found her interesting and was curious about her.

I remember taking notice of the woman’s name, mainly because she had kind of an unusual moniker. I also noticed her because she had a dazzling smile that was very genuine, like someone everyone would want to meet and know. Again, she was not gorgeous in the typical popular sorority girl way, but she had an inner radiance about her. I could tell that she was someone who made friends very easily.

Maggy’s new sorority sister had a rare kind of true inner beauty. Her magnetism was obvious and memorable to me, even though I didn’t even know her. In fact, I never even met her when I was at Longwood. As an 18 year old, I just noticed and remembered her name and her face… and as time marched on, I eventually forgot about her… until last night.

I noticed someone with the same unusual last name liking my beer fridge post. I hadn’t thought of Maggy’s “dazzling smiled” sorority sister in well over 30 years. She was two years ahead of me, and we didn’t run in the same circles. At first, I thought the person who had liked the photo was the same woman with the dazzling smile. She hadn’t spelled out her first name on Facebook, but she had the same first initial as Maggy’s sorority sister did, plus the same surname.

I was curious, so I took a look at the person’s profile. After a minute or two, I realized that the person who had liked my post wasn’t the woman with the dazzling smile. Instead, she appeared to be a family member– perhaps a sister or a cousin.

There was a picture of the woman with the smile on her public Facebook page, and based on the comments, it appeared that she had died. I followed another link to Maggy’s sorority sister’s profile, and saw more comments from people who missed her. They commented on her spirit and her laugh. I could relate to that, since my laugh is very distinctive, too. When I die, I’m sure if anyone still knows me offline, they’ll comment on my laugh, too.

A few more minutes of investigation revealed that the woman with the smile had died of breast cancer. I soon found many pictures of her before and after treatment. There were pictures of her that recalled how she’d looked in her Kappa Delta composite photo. And there were pictures of her smiling bravely, with very short hair, and then finally completely bald. In every single one of those photos, there was that radiant smile that defied the circumstances and revealed what appeared to be an indomitable spirit. I don’t even know her story, but the smile told me a lot about her.

Soon, I found myself looking closer at the people she’d left behind. This was a woman who was obviously much beloved by a lot of folks, especially her family, but also friends and colleagues. She had clearly made an impression on many, and had left a very positive and indelible mark on their hearts. I suddenly felt kind of sad, because I wished I’d had a chance to meet her. Behind her sparkling, lively eyes, and bright, brave, dazzling smile, even when she was completely bald, there was a remarkable woman who had really made a difference to so many.

Of course, if I had met her, there’s every chance that we wouldn’t have meshed. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. I tend to be the kind of person people love or hate. But now that I think about it, looking at pictures of Maggy’s sorority sister reminds me of an experience I had on a road trip years ago, when I happened to run into a Buddhist monk. I wrote about that experience here, but the short story is, that guy had a countenance that immediately put me at ease and calmed me down when I had been hangry and wound up tighter than a spring. I was awestruck and moved by simply being in the peaceful monk’s presence, looking at him from across a crowded room.

When I did a similar search for old photos last night, I happened across one about one of my relatives… She happened to live on a farm called Longwood, and she died a couple of years ago. I wasn’t very close to this relative. Although we were family, we didn’t agree on religion or politics. However, when she died, many people were genuinely devastated.

I noticed that along with the post her sister– another relative of mine– had written about missing her, there was a photo of them. And I noticed that they both had dazzling, warm, and genuine smiles, too. Even though we’re family, but not close friends, I can see that they obviously have left indelible marks on people. If I didn’t already know them due to our family connection, I’d probably be struck and ultimately touched by their beautiful smiles, too.

Isn’t it funny how a photo of a rented dorm fridge full of Bud Dry posted on Facebook can lead me to these places? Anyway… if anyone related to this woman figures out who she is and that I’ve written about her, I just want to say I’m very sorry for your loss. I can tell by the photos showcasing her smile that she was a very special person. Either that, or her dentists are worth their weight in platinum. ūüėČ (I’m kidding, of course…)

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book reviews, healthcare

Repost: Review of Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist…

Here’s a reposted book review I originally wrote in 2011 for Epinions. com. Hope you enjoy it, as/is!

I guess I can thank our recent return to watching television for introducing me to former cosmetic dentist¬†Michael Zuk’s¬†2010 book,¬†Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist. ¬†It was sort of a “one thing leads to another” thing. ¬†I was watching¬†Extreme Home Makeover¬†and remembered that there used to be an¬†Extreme Makeover¬†show dedicated making over peoples’ appearances. ¬†I looked it up on imdb.com and someone mentioned Zuk’s tell all book about cosmetic dentistry. ¬†I went to Amazon, noticed the reviews were pretty positive, and decided to download¬†Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist¬†to my Kindle.

What’s this book all about?¬†

Back in the 1990s, Michael Zuk was bitten by the cosmetic dentistry bug.  He bought into the highly motivational speeches he heard about how cosmetic dentists can change peoples’ lives for the better by giving them beautiful smiles.  So Michael Zuk became a cosmetic dentist and eventually added orthodontics to his practice.  He got into the business of overhauling smiles by giving his patients veneers, replacing enamel with porcelain, and bleaching teeth into brilliant whiteness.

Somewhere along the way, Dr. Zuk lost his enthusiasm for cosmetic dentistry.  He started to notice how some of his overly aggressive colleagues were ruining their clients’ teeth with veneers.  He also noticed that cosmetic dentists were raking in a lot of cash for procedures that might eventually ruin a client’s perfectly serviceable, but not quite camera ready, teeth.

Dr. Zuk also discusses orthodontic treatments and offers his opinions on some of the newer treatments that are available, such as Invisalign.  A lot of clients are attracted to so-called high speed braces, even if the treatment won’t make that much of a difference.  Dr. Zuk explains why clients need to be more informed about their options and the potential risks that can come from cosmetic dentistry.

My thoughts 

I think Dr. Zuk has written a very interesting and useful book for the general public, especially those who might be tempted to undergo a cosmetic dentistry makeover. ¬†Dr. Zuk is brutally honest about the effect some of the more popular procedures, especially bleaching and veneers, might have on a person’s teeth. ¬†He seems particularly against veneers, which are apparently especially damaging to some people. ¬†It seems a lot of cosmetic dentists sugar coat what actually happens to natural teeth when they undergo cosmetic restorations. ¬†Clients may be left with a big bill and teeth that eventually fall apart. ¬†I was pretty shocked when Dr. Zuk wrote that he’d sooner trust a good family dentist rather than a cosmetic dentist. ¬†He seems to think the cosmetic dentistry industry is all about money and, in fact, often comes across as quite cynical. ¬†On the other hand, some of his comments are pretty funny, too. ¬†I actually laughed out loud a couple of times.

One thing I noticed about this book is that it seems to be somewhat poorly edited. ¬†I don’t know if it’s because of the Kindle, but in many instances throughout the book, there was no spacing between words. ¬†So I ended up reading several sentences thatlookedlikethis. ¬†It got to be pretty annoying. ¬†Another thing that might be off putting to some readers, particularly if they are in the dental profession, is Zuk’s rather pessimistic attitude. ¬†He makes a lot of comments about how cosmetic dentists are only in the business to fatten their wallets. ¬†He claims that cosmetic dentists are constantly fixated on other people’s smiles, looking for ways they could be improved at a pretty penny.¬†¬†¬†¬†

Overall

I am lucky enough to have pretty good teeth, so I have never been attracted to the idea of getting cosmetic dental treatment.  Nevertheless, I did learn a lot from Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who might be thinking about taking the cosmetic dentistry plunge.  I do wish the book were better edited, especially for the Kindle. ETA in 2022: It looks like this book is no longer available on Kindle, anyway.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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