Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Day At Dinosaur Adventure Land

When my son William and I were driving across the country in 2010, our Garmin sent us on a dirt road, where we ended up stranded for a couple of hours.  So there was a bit of concern when the GPS set built into Evie's Subaru sent us down a dirt road.  After a mile or so William joked about hearing a banjo. Nothing like a Deliverance reference to lighten the mood. Finally, we came to a left onto another dirt road - Pearl Lane.

I was a little disturbed to note a bullet-riddled mailbox and similarly perforated stop sign,

William said not to worry about it.  It's an Alabama thing.

When the GPS told us we had arrived at our destination there was nothing, but I had faith and told William to drive on.  Shortly after we were rewarded with a view of the famous gateway to the adventure land.

It was not real clear what we were supposed to do.  William pulled in and I got out of the car and started walking around. A fellow with a beard said hello and directed us to the office where we could check in,

The Long Haired Julie

When we got there Julie was on an extended phone conversation.  Julie is from San Francisco and has been at DAL one year and five months with her husband.  Most people are short, but Julie is a bit shorter than most with long brown hair.  I think I would characterize her as perky.  I make up back stories about people which I consider hypotheses that I then test when  I get the chance.  I never got to test my hypothesis about Julie which is that she was a cheerleader in high school.

While I was standing there a slightly less short (possibly average height) guy with short gray hair was also standing there. He told me that he was a lawyer and that he had been CEO of CSE and that Kent's case was going to be reversed as if I should know what he was talking about. He was waiting to use the phone because his did not have coverage.

 Afterward, I tried to figure out who it was and when I looked at pictures, I thought I  might have met Paul John Hansen.  William confirmed the ID from one of Hansen's mugshots.

I offered to let him use my phone which had two bars, but he declined.  I reflected that that could be viewed as an attempt at intelligence gathering, which it was not at all.  I had decided that I wanted to experience Dinosaur Adventure Land like any other visitor rather than someone connected, however loosely, with what Mary Tocco calls the "obsessed party of internet fanatics dedicated to revealing to the world their perception of Kent  Hovind as a fraud and con-artist".

I know that if nobody else reads this piece some of the obsessed party will and the possible Hansen sighting might be a source of excitement.  For their benefit, I need to make clear my strongest take away from my day at DAL.  Hovind is running a real ministry there.  The focus is primarily on spiritual principles, which are altogether benign.  Just about every scientific observation was wrapped around a spiritual principle.

For example, when Julie showed us the rings of a tree dark alternating with light and dark, she told us that the light rings are soft and the dark rings are hard.  If the tree were all soft it would just fall over.  If it were all hard it would snap in extreme conditions.  And we should seek a similar balance in our lives.  Physical activity, reading our bibles for spiritual growth, socializing.

The displays which are mostly works-in-process are tied in with the days of creation.

There was this thing where a tube blows up a stream of air on which a sort of beach ball floats.  You can see how it changes position based on air pressure.  The spiritual lesson is that we always seek the place easiest for us.

Julie kept apologizing during the tour for not knowing the material well enough, but she more than made up for it with her enthusiasm.  There was a fog machine that blew really cool smoke rings.

In the section about trees Julie talked about being a tree lover and how people were extreme about that in SF. Another group came in - a couple with little kids -.  William politely offered to bail, but Julie had them pick up on Day 5 where we were.  Something about airplanes there.

At Day Six is the dinosaur payoff, where we see all the evidence for the coexistence of dinosaurs with people and the continued existence of the dinos.  It's just that back in the day they were called dragons.  And of course, because of the post-Flood decrease in air pressure, the big ones couldn't breathe.

A really compelling bit of evidence comes from China.  You know how they have the year of the pig and the year of the tiger, etc.  Well, there are eleven of them that are real animals we know about.  And they have the year of the dragon.  So dragons must be real too.  Checkmate atheists.

There were two places where Julie's enthusiasm was utterly infectious.  On Day 1 when she showed us the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, of which only a small part is visible, she shared how much she is looking forward to going to heaven, because we may have more senses and be able to experience the whole spectrum.

In going through the wonders of the creation she talked about how there is iron in our blood, so Adam and Eve might have been able to feel the directions and not needed a compass to know which way is North.

Doctor Hovind was off debating an atheist and he handles the outdoor tour so we were left free to wander the property. The hour we needed to wait for the tour stretched into three, but it did not trouble us at all

The Observant Shawn

William and I started wandering toward what looked like a small desert, probably the most dystopian section of DAL.

All of a sudden we were being seemingly challenged by someone on a golf cart type vehicle. William and I were both in the "OMG have we gone out of bounds?" mode.  He assured us that it was no problem and we started talking with Shawn who has been at DAL for three weeks and hopes to be there for the rest of his life.  He was recently released from several years of unjust imprisonment on a trumped-up drug charge.

He offered to take us on an abbreviated tour that would pale in comparison with the big boy tour that Doctor Dino would take us on with the "mule".  We saw the island with Slim the skeleton who is waiting for the perfect woman.  We saw the gazebo where weddings are performed.  I think he suggested that William might want to marry his girlfriend there.  That would really be something.

Shawn told us that he has taken responsibility for security and patrols the perimeter.  When I asked him about the bullet-ridden stop sign, he said it was not unusual to hear the reports of the firearms and they could note hits and misses from the pings.

Then we went to feed the fish (literally with fish food).  There were a lot of them.  He took us to see his hedgehogasaoous which was a rescue of sorts, which William, who is into animal rescue found touching.

The Smiling Anna

Anna, who is blond, which is a cross to bear around Hovind, had the biggest smile I have ever seen.  She helped us with shopping in the gift the shop.  We got shirts and a hat and a copy of the Kennel, which I would get autographed later.  Anna has been at DAL for two years.  We dropped just over ninety bucks in the gift shop, which does take credit cards, which is a good thing because my cash was running low.

The Lieutenant And The Lady

After shopping, we learned that Doctor Hovind was not done besting the atheist.  It was mentioned that there was a tour already scheduled, but thankfully there was room for us.  We met the couple that would be going along with us.

He was probably the most interesting person I met all day.  After 10 years as an enlisted man in the Air Force maintaining things like the F35 and the A10, he went through the course to be commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, which involves inter alia infantry training, because every Marine is a rifleman.  There is a subsequent 13 week course for those that will actually be doing infantry, but our Lt is at Pensacola in the early stage of flight training.  Lady Lt is pregnant and also blond which would earn her a Hovind insult on the tour.

As we were waiting for Doc Dino I mainly spoke with Lt about fascinating things that have nothing to do with DAL, so I will leave that out.

Cindy The Gardner

While I was paying homage to the manliest man on the scene William was engaging with Cindy who had wandered over.  Cindy is one of those women whose age I cannot judge.  Youthful attractiveness combined with some wisdom.  Someone who will be able to remain 39 for as long as she likes.

They were talking about plants. I did manage to get some back story from her.  She was running her own preschool in California.  It was explicitly identified as Christian, but when one of the moms started hearing about Jesus from her daughter she complained to Cindy that she was teaching her kids fables.

That got Cindy motivated to seek out proof of biblical truth, which led her to Kent Hovind's videos.  She came out for a brief spell as a volunteer and then felt called to come full time. (There was a story to that, but I probably don't have it straight, as I was not taking notes).

Cindy has been at DAL two and a half years.  She didn't say anything to that effect, but when Kent mentioned his wife during the tour, I asked if it was Cindy that was his wife and he confirmed that.

The Big Boy Tour

My excitement at meeting Dr. Hovind in person had been mounting.  Not fully identifying myself without being entirely disingenuous was really motivated by wanting to experience the tour.  There are a number of things that I agree with Kent Hovind on.  One of those is his "Swallow the meat.  Spit out the bone" principle.  And to follow that principle in this context, you need to let him put out his message unchallenged.  And it is not just listening to him talk, there is a physical performance that you can't get from watching youtube videos.

The "mule" is a rugged all-terrain vehicle.  Kind of an oversized golf cart.  For a jungle golf course.  Given what was coming seatbelts and helmets were probably called for, but this is Alabama where the power of the regulatory state is attenuated and there are no insurance rules at DAL, since to have insurance would mean no zip lines.  We had courageously signed the release.  I doubt there was anything that phased the lieutenant.

William and the couple sat in the back seat and I exploited my senior citizen status to ride shotgun with Doc Dino.  He referred to us as boys and girls occasionally.  And I have the sense that we got much the same tour as we would have gotten had we been ten.  And I loved it.

As the mule was running over the property there would be occasional forks.  At the first Kent asked whether we wanted the "Grandma tour" or the "Real tour".  We, of course, cheered for the "Real tour" which gave us some exciting ups and downs.  At one point we stopped near the edge of a high point for a spiritual lesson about the attraction of going down that big hill and then crept up to see that was actually a sort of cliff.  We need to heed our heavenly father's warning.

Probably most memorable was the session at the picnic table with the paper airplanes and the rubber band shooting contest where Kent kicked our asses.  He showed us his secret.  The mistake we make is having equal pressure on both sides of the rubber band which creates turbulence.  He had more pressure on one side, which provided a dramatic difference.  And in life, you need to have the stronger emphasis on the spiritual aspect - boys and girls.

There is more, but the written word can't do it justice.

No Conspiracy Narrative On The Mule

Kent uses the layout of the property to explain his theory about the Flood accounting for the Grand Canyon rather than millions of years of drip drip.  I asked him why was it that when you went to the Grand Canyon you saw these signs about the millions of years.  He told me that that would be answered later.

There is a more comprehensive explanation next to a sort of dune or bluff.  Essentially layers form quickly as heavy stuff heads for the bottom.  And I asked him again why the millions and millions explanations are so prevalent.  He told me that people don't want to believe that there is a creator, because then they would have to think about what sort of rules the creator has for them to follow.

And The Jokes

To really remember a Hovind joke, you need repetition.  So I don't remember the blond joke he laid on the lieutenant's wife.  As we were assembling the paper airplanes there were a series of government military waste jokes about the scotch tape being some sort of special polymer costing thousands of dollars an inch.  He checked with the lieutenant on those after telling him that his father had been a Marine, the only survivor of his platoon in the Pacific.

So here are the two that I remember distinctly.  The mule can go from fifty to zero in one second - if it hits a tree.  You need some visual imagination for the other one.  "Somebody caught a fish here" - gestures with hands to show a considerable length - "this far from the dock".

Heard the fish joke four times.  The first time was from Shawn who is either in training to conduct the big boy tour or stealing Hovind's material.

What I Admire

The two things I admire most about Kent Hovind are his tremendous work ethic and his determination to live a purpose driven life.  This came up in the lessons from the trees which we had also gotten from Shawn.  They point out how the trees are always looking for the sun that nourishes them and that is what we should be doing with the things we keep in our lives.

Kent expanded noting that he could understand a kid playing with a ball, but grown men doing it for hours and other grown men watching them, he just didn't get it.  Do something useful.

Which brings me to another Kent Hovind maxim, that I endorse.  If you don't like what he is doing there in Lenox, go do something better.

On The Other Hand

My great wish for Kent Hovind professionally is that he will stay conventionally tax compliant and the beleaguered state of the IRS will have the statute of limitations on collections bail him out.  Running into Hansen is not a good sign.

We were invited to dinner and the bible study, which I would have loved to do, but William and I had a lot of driving ahead of us.  As we were getting ready to go, William reminded me to get my copy of The Kennel autographed.

I hunted around and found where they were eating, pausing respectfully as Kent finished grace.  He was sitting with the military couple when I came up to him for the autograph.  He told them that he was in prison for nine years for nothing,  They were just trying to shut him up.  Have you ever heard of structuring?

Kent's embrace of tax mishegas is, in my mind, tragic.  I know that I aggravate people with this view, but I find young earth creationism relatively benign.  Most of the counsel that Kent gives people about how to live their lives is good counsel.  Avoid alcohol, drugs and tobacco.  Work hard.  Live a life of purpose.  Have empathy for those who are imprisoned.

See For Yourself

So visit DAL and have a good time.  It might be wise to go for the Grandma tour.  Try to be kind and capture what is worth appreciating.  Just don't go there for tax and legal advice.

For reference here is the report on my previous encounter with Kent Hovind.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Peter J Reilly writes on taxes for and has been following the Kent Hovind story for somewhat less than 6,000 years.

Holden Hardman did an undercover video of the tour which is on his youtube channel.  Check it out.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Discrepancy or Discrimination? Doesn’t matter

YTMP welcomes a new guest blogger - Amanda Retberg.  Amanda writes about her experience as a  professor at Wisconsin Lutheran College, which is sponsored by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  You know how you will run into members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who are still fighting the Civil War -Excuse me meant to write War of Northern Aggression.  WELS can top that by evoking the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).  I know you knew the dates but you have to consider the other readers.  WELS still holds that the Pope is the Antichrist. - PJR



It is a simple discrepancy. This is the answer given to me after I inquired why some of the men I worked with were considered ministers and thus, eligible for the ministerial housing allowance tax benefit while the women I worked with were not considered eligible. Perhaps these men had different job descriptions than the women or had specific ministerial duties they were required to complete.

No, on the contrary, job descriptions were the same and both men and women were required to complete the exact same theology classes and requirements. Furthermore, the employment positions referred to above were college professors at a Christian college, not the traditional concept of ministers of a church. Why would college professors be considered ministers at a Christian college when that same college has its own campus pastors?

In short, denomination. This is a religious denomination that one could use as an example of having a basketball minister.  If you are reading this, you most likely are familiar with Tax Code Section 107(2) and aren’t surprised with loose definitions of “minister” for tax purposes.  In short, what one denomination considers a discrepancy, a rational person may instead consider to be discrimination. Yet it is all legal, complete with private letter rulings and a technical memo from the IRS.

I found all of this deeply troubling and personally, could no longer support this inequality. Therefore, awhile back I made the decision to leave the college and denomination. So why write about it now?

Simple – to help draw attention to an issue that still hasn’t received the attention it deserves.  Furthermore, this discrimination continues to this day and isn’t going away anytime soon. Men will continue to receive minister status, but similarly, situated women will not.  This status allows men to take advantage of the accompanying ministerial housing allowance also known as a parsonage allowance.


The Seventh Circuit just overturned Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision that the parsonage allowance is unconstitutional. Thus, it is here to stay.

If you read the amicus brief submitted to the Seventh Circuit by Professor Adam Chodorow and are persuaded that a tax exemption is equivalent to a government subsidy, then isn’t the government, by allowing churches to distribute these subsidies to men only, supporting discrimination against women?

In effect, the government is providing the means for churches to discriminate against women. People can argue that every church has the right to define minister for purposes of payroll. But, in practice, is this fair or equal? I would suggest that coupled with the parsonage allowance, it leads to discriminatory practices. Some churches only ordain men, some include “integral agencies” of the church and some consider teachers as ministers.

To provide a specific example, in my former denomination where only men can be designated as ministers, it is only male teachers who are able to take advantage of the parsonage allowance. All depends on the particular religious beliefs and practices and the narrow or broad definition of minister contained within. Unfortunately, these arguments fall short and truly don’t matter.

While I do strongly believe that churches should have every right to determine who is a minister according to their beliefs and religious practices, the parsonage allowance should not be available to benefit those so designated. Let the churches define who their ministers are but leave the government out of the payroll.

As a practicing Christian I usually don’t find myself on the same side of an issue as the Freedom From Religion Foundation; however, it is my sincere hope that they continue this fight.

Amadna Retbert is a college professor, educator, and advocate. She is eager to teach, learn and research new ways to educate and is always willing to advocate for fairness and equality. She has an MA and a JD.
Wisconsin Lutheran Responds

Wisconsin Lutheran College Provost Dr. John Kollander responded to inquiries from Peter J Reilly with the following statement.

Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC) follows the established policies of our WisconsinEvangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) church body and the tax laws of the United States. This dual compliance has a tax benefit for male called workers. WLC has chosen to provide a stipend to female called workers toward the goal of compensation equity among all WLC called workers. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Lunch At The Drowsy Poet With Eric Hovind

I hadn't planned on writing about my get together with Eric Hovind or even telling anybody about it other than my partner.

At the end of our time together, though, he indicated that he didn't mind if I wrote about it, so here is my report.  I'm going to assume my readers have all the background of who's who, but if you are interested you can always google.  I see the main audience for this piece as being what Marry Tocco harshly but fairly refers to as:
obsessed party of internet fanatics who invest an impractical amount of time and focus,dedicated to revealing to the world their perception of Kent as a fraud and con-artist.

Hanging In The Drowsy Poet

Evie and I were staying about an hour east of Pensacola, so I arranged to meet up with Eric at the Drowsy  Poet, which Jonathan Schwartz had told me is the go-to place for Pensacola evangelists.

We were meeting at noon, but I made a serendipitous error.  When we crossed the time zone line, our phones knew about it but not our computers, which is what I went by when I took off from the state park.  So I got to drink in the atmosphere of the Drowsy Poet for an hour.  There are actually a few of them, but I went to the mothership, which is not far from the Creation Today office.

There is a narrow corridor to the counter where you order as you come in and then a pretty spacious room with about six or eight tables of varying sizes.  I posted myself at a high one with my coffee and cake.

I think the table next to mine was having a church planting discussion, but I'm not sure.  More fascinating was across the room.  It was the middle management of the Drowsy Poet empire. Four youngish women and a two-year-old boy, who was probably the star of the table.  I learned a lot about the personnel problems you run into in running a coffee shop.  Did you know that it matters what order you pour the components into the mixture and that there are some people who just don't get it?

Worse Than Rape

Anyway, Eric showed up at noon along with another fellow.  I don't remember his name, so I'm going with Jim (That might be right).  Jim seemed a bit younger than me (I'm 67) bit older than Eric.  Jim was almost entirely silent only speaking when I addressed him directly with questions.  He is a welder and the big impression he has from the case is the judge's "Worse than rape" comment.  God, that has gotten a lot of attention.

Since it purportedly happened during sentencing, it's hard to see what difference it made.

Not Keeping Up

One of my problems in being a good interviewer is that I like to talk too much and Eric was asking me a lot of questions.  It seems like he has not really been keeping up on developments or reading my blog, so I filled him in on quite a few things.

At one point I told him that I mainly got information from Ernie Land and that I was disinclined to talk to Kent, because the impression I got from my one interview with him is that he only wants to debate rather than discuss things.

And at this point, I will tell you the personal issue that makes me particularly sympathetic to Eric.  My father died when I was 13 and I always have an envy for adult men who still have their fathers. I believe that not having a father during that crucial period in life accounts for issues that I have had with maturity.

Then I contemplate Eric who picked up the torch when his father went to prison and supported his mother, who finds himself condemned when his father is released.  He told me that he still catches flack for that whole debacle.

Apparently, he and Kent can't just agree to disagree on certain things and have a family relationship.  So he understands my reaction to talking to Kent.


Mostly we talked about Jesus and creation.  The resurrection of Jesus changes everything and he was telling me about the historical evidence that is piling up to support that.  I told him that I thought that the extra-biblical evidence about Jesus is pretty thin.  He gave me a thumb drive which I haven't checked out yet.

The big piece of evidence is this tablet with a decree about not messing with dead bodies for nefarious purposes.  I looked into that a bit and I don't find it that compelling as evidence of the Easter story.  When I ran this by my facebook buds, one of them who is a devout Catholic responded, referring in particular to Eric's comment about the resurrection changing everything

To a great extent, that is the center of it all. If you believe that, then, I don't need to find writings from several professions that did not exist at the time but can trust the oral recollections (collected 20 to 40 years after) of a society that valued memory and oral retention. If you don't believe in the resurrection, then you are just wasting your time.
It reminds me of Father Murphy, who taught my high school freshman theology class.  He would draw a long line on the blackboard and then put a cross roughly in the middle and say "History is Christocentric".

I told Eric about all the crosses in our classrooms.  And he said that Jesus was still on them, but the Protestant crosses are empty, because of the resurrection.

Anyway, I sometimes envy people who have faith.  My friend who has a much stronger secular education than Eric is not going to trouble himself the way young-earth creationists do about extra-biblical evidence that supports a hyper-literal reading.

The Worries

I asked Eric if he was theologically aligned with Kent.  Apparently, there is this issue with repentance that I've heard about from other Kent critics, but never quite nailed down.  Other than that, I could not detect anything to indicate that Eric is doing anything other than following in his dad's footsteps when it comes to evangelism.  And unlike his dad, he does not expend energy on other issues.

Eric is very worried about what the IRS might have in store for Kent and his mother.  Apparently, Jo is not burdening Eric with whatever she is doing to deal with the situation.  I told him about the statute of limitation on collections which might be Jo's light at the end of the tunnel, but I don't know collections well enough to know whether there are exceptions to the exception when there are criminal issues involved.

All in, Eric strikes me as a fine person. I hope that the "obsessed band of internet fanatics", who include some of my favorite people and with whom I can well be counted, will lay off him.

Peter J Reilly writes on taxes for


In an earlier version, I referred to the coffee shop as The Lazy Poet, which is really lazy of me, since I could have just looked at my new coffee cup to confirm the name.