Archive for May, 2015

Chapter 28 – Hope Rising

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015


From my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

Through my own life’s journey I have discovered that if I have even a tiny ember of hope then I can pretty much live with anything. Without it I am toast. It is hope that gives me and everyone else the strength to go on after a loss or disappointment or the realization that the dream will never come true. At our first church, six friends planted it with no money, no building and very little knowledge. All we had was a God inspired vision for “a different kind of church” that He had entrusted to our half dozen hearts. Why he picked us I am not sure, but I am forever thankful that he did.  God allowed us to be a part of a litany of His miraculous ways which began with a horse trailer. He grew us up until we had 66 acres in the center of Nashville a little more than a mile for the expressway. A bank president told me it was perhaps the best real estate buy in our city’s history. I do not know about that. We just “stumbled” upon it.  God gave us an incredible building and nearly 1000 people and many new Christians. I have a list of folks who are in heaven because of that church and I am sure that list has been added to greatly since I left. The summer of 05 looked really good; to the naked eye it appeared to be the grand culmination of our 12 year dream. Appearance is often deceiving. Life appeared to be a ten……for a little while. But in life 10s tend to not last. Something unexpected happened. Highland Park Church that “The Six” founded as split-proof shattered like a crystal goblet hitting a concrete floor at warp speed. For me, in less than an hour one hot Tuesday September afternoon, suddenly my whole life was teetering on the abyss of hopelessness. And as the hour evolved into days and weeks and months,  I would be lying if I said I was not about ready to give up. Those who were around me at that time would know I was lying if I said that I was not.

This book is about truth, hope and an incredibly amazing “Big G” God. The truth is, at the very depth of my chasm of despair, death became more appealing than life.  That was as close to hopelessness as I care to venture. After a time of despondency and the grief process which included my trip to Sierra Tucson where I spent 30 days in the Trauma and Abuse Recovery Program, because of the love shown by so many friends, even though things were not as I ever wanted or expected, a flicker of hope began to burn in the midst of the ashes of our hearts. It was that tiny spark of smoldering hope that kept us going, sustained us, warmed our souls and in its time ignited into the blazing, white hot furnace of hope that we carry and spread today via our ministry. Understand something here; I expect that many of you find yourselves in similar situations even as you read my story. Things were rolling along until BOOM! — the bottom fell out and you land a crumpled mess barely able to sustain even one rational thought.

Since I started my blog I’ll heard from hundreds of people who feel hopeless — many of them feeling like Ellen who sent me an email at 2:35 am. “John, I do not know you, but it seems like I do…”  I gladly share with them my message of hope. Even in a world where things are not perfect, even when things are sometimes screwed up beyond our understanding God is still in control.  He still holds all the cards and His deck never includes Jokers. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40 (NLT)

Highland Park Church is near an area of Nashville called the “Nations”. Approximately in the middle of the property, on the peak of what is known as “Knob Hill”, there stands a 1368 foot television transmitting tower that was constructed in the fifties.  The original tower collapsed as the antenna was being hosted. Four workers near the top rode the steel down to their deaths. It was big news at the time. After that I had become fascinated with the tower since it can be seen for many miles.  When we started planning our building Dale, our co-pastor, for reasons I have never completely understood, did not want a cross on the building.  It was not that he was against what the cross represents; that certainly was not it at all.  It was a notion he had in his mind about the cross “turning off the unchurched”.  Against his wishes we did finally end up with a cross shape recessed in the brick front of the structure. So it does have a cross, but it is very unobtrusive.  In any event, I had considered that TV tower our “cross”. Often when driving on the west side of Nashville  I could see our 1368 foot “cross” and each time the sight of it reminded me of what an incredibly awesome God He is. I’ll never forget the first day I saw the tower after the split and I had returned from Sierra Tucson. Cathy was driving and we came around a bend on Interstate 40, I got a glimpse of it rising into the deep blue sky and I literally balled my eyes out. Folks understand I did not sob! I wailed! Something that I had loved to look at for fifty years now only brought tears.  I cannot describe the pain. That day for the first and only time in my life I lost hope. I wanted to die! No amount of well-meaning Bible quoting from friends or family did a blame thing to alleviate my pain or reignite my hope. My heart was dead but God was good! I give Him praise for never leaving me during that time.

Up next: Chapter 30 – Blown Calls

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

Boo – Boos

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

1-pain-profile-1024As I was leaving the Y this morning, a precious little girl, about three, was walking in with her mom. I overheard her excitedly exclaim, “Mommy, my boo boo is gone”. Wow! What a great thing for anyone to be able to say! Little kids’ boo boos usually go away on their own.  Unfortunately, the older we get, our boo boos tend to morph from childhood cuts, scrapes and bruises into ones that are more serious. Often, unlike a skinned knee, they cannot be seen. They are the emotional boo boos.  Sadly, they can kill.

It happened again last week when a bright and gifted local high school junior, with an incredible smile and lots of friends took his own life. Of course the unanswerable question, and the one that gives his passing such a high degree of difficulty, is simply this: Why did a loving son, grandson, brother and friend, an extremely gifted and talented young man, who obviously had no shortage of friends, choose to take his life?  What could possibly be behind that? Why? I was not fortunate enough to know him. I learned of his death only by a prayer request from a member of our church. But the answer is because he had an emotional hurt that did not go away.

The bottom line is that in the midst of his pain, this young man came to the conclusion that his death was the best thing for everybody. Obviously, that was not true, but for some reason he could not see it.  The truth is each of us is capable of making that same decision.  Enough pain can blind anyone. It can! A bit less than ten years ago, hopelessness nearly blinded me.  I thank God that it did not because the years since have been the best years; yet, at the time things seemed hopeless. Depressed people struggle to see past the moment. Usually they can’t.

If you are in a lonely battle with thoughts of doing harm to yourself, do not struggle alone for one more second. You cannot and will not win alone.  Before you do anything else, tell someone what you are feeling.  I know that works because that is what I did. I was literally saved by others. Something else I think I know. If this young man could have imagined the string of heartbreak of those who love him, he would surely have made a different choice.  Please pray for this family and for all people struggling with depression.

Something to think about

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.



Thursday, May 21st, 2015

imagesOne of the new additions to the field of Republicans running for President said that the primary  reason he tossed his hat into the ring is because he is “worried about the direction of the country”. People worry about all kinds of things. Beginning as kids, our worry engines fire up as we fret about such things as the bogyman, getting our share and zits. Once turned on worry probably never completely shuts down. Even though both the Bible and Doctor Phil tell us not to worry, most of us seem to roll right along with our worry engines firing on all eight cylinders.

Growing up, my big brothers used to say that my head was pointed. I worried a lot about that — not so much now. I worked with a man for years who constantly worried that he might be going bald. Having gone through my pointed head experience, I understood where he was coming from. All that worry was for naught.  Yes, his hair is still falling out, but bald is now sexy.

One study has determined that you are apt to worry about:

  1. Things that never happen: 40 percent.
  2. Things over and past that cannot be changed by all the worry in the world: 30 percent.
  3. Needless worries about our health: 12 percent.
  4. Petty, miscellaneous worries: 10 percent.
  5. Real, legitimate worries: 8 percent.

Only 8 percent of your worries are worth concerning yourself about. Ninety-two percent are pure smoke with no substance at all.

For many years, going all the way back to my high school days, I was a political junkie. I kept up with all the national races, watched every debate and always had a candidate whom I strongly supported. Sometimes I even used bumper stickers!  During that period of my life, I worried about who would win and who would lose. In some races it was almost like life or death for me.  After wasting all that time, I finally figured out that it did not really matter; nothing in Washington seems to change much for the average person no matter whom is elected. One day it dawned on me that I was wasting way too much emotional energy on something over which I had absolutely no control. I stopped worrying about politics.

Worry sucks the juice out of our brains to the point that that we often miss the good things in life. They say that life is good. It is even better when you do not worry about things you cannot control.

Something to think about.

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

Chapter 26 – My Mistress

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015


From my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

One of the many spurious lies spread by Dale Robinson during the fall of 2005 was that he suspected that I was having an affair. To support his specious charge he claimed to have “discovered me sleeping at the church one night and that he suspected that I was not alone”. On another occasion he told a church member that Lou Alvarez came to the church in the middle of the night and found me asleep in the sound booth. I have never had an affair, nor as an adult have I ever slept or spent the night in any church including Highland Park.  Those lies were just the beginning. He told Wilma Cooper and Irene Lowe that I was on top of Kelly beating her and Gene Cole had to pull me off. I could go on for quite some time. I can only speculate why Dale would say such things or who was pulling his strings at that particular time, but I will pass on that opportunity.

This is not a story about others, but one about me and my failures of which there were many. But I must say that to hear such falsehoods hurt me to the quick because they came from one called “friend” – albeit one with quite an agenda! However, the honest to God truth was I indeed had a mistress for some time. I am sure Dale did not know about her because I did not until early one morning in October of 2005. I was walking in the desert at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains talking to God, begging Him not to take her away from me. I bargained with Him and I promised Him as I emotionally pleaded my case. I admitted to Him that I did not think I could live without her. I reminded Him that my whole being was tied up in her as tightly as the DNA is to my genome. “God we are one!” I screamed. In a process which I am woefully inadequate to explain, that morning with the sun just beginning to reflect off those magnificent mountains, amid the awakening sounds of a desert’s new day, God began the final phases in the process of making me whole. Walking on that trail with tears streaming down my cheeks, I finally saw her for what she really was.  I knew in my heart that God’s plan did not include a return to the safety of her loving arms. Our twelve year relationship and my devotion to her were at an end. Oh God! How that pained me! My entire identity and self-worth were tethered to her like sand in an hour glass. How could I live without her?  She was Highland Park Church! At that moment in time I knew I would never see her again.

Many months and bucket loads of tears beyond that talk with God He allowed me to see the truth. What was the truth? Well the truth was my entire life from the time that my dad and I went on our ill-fated fishing trip until that sacred moment in the Sonoran Desert could be summed up in the word “Codependency”. Nearly all my life I had been codependent on this or that or this person or the other. The shame that I had carried since I was a little boy, the shame that was squared when I was abused and the shame I carried from every failure, physical flaw and sin I had ever committed had conditioned me to look outside of myself for my worth. When I was a little boy it was to be perfect so my mom would be proud and she would not talk about jumping into the river. When I got into high school my worth was in being popular, getting good grades and pretty girlfriends, and not getting expelled like my older brothers. It was in being a people pleaser, having the answer for everybody’s problem. In college I added to my repertoire being the life of the party, drinking as much beer as anybody in the room, being “Cool Gould” and being everybody’s friend while all the time staying on the Dean’s List. When Cathy and I married I affixed being the perfect husband and later the perfect dad. When we started the church I added the somewhat vague and overused description “different kind of church”. In other words HPC was not screwed up like the others. Perfection! Perfection! In everything it had to be perfect. To the point that after we built our building, and very few people know this, I was there 12 hours a day doing all the stuff a pastor does, but that was not enough. No way! I had to find more to help me escape from me. I started buffing the floors. It was insane, but at the time made perfect sense. One day I decided that the floors did not suit me. I bought a commercial buffer and I assumed the job as not only pastor but also senior custodian. The more shine those tiles had the better I felt. Soon that was not enough. Now I turned to the porcelain. While I was there you could see your refection in the urinals! There was not a cleaner pot or a more sparkling mirror this side of the Ritz Carlton. It was a slow tedious, almost imperceptible process; somewhere along my journey Highland Park Church became more important to me than my wife, my family and my God. Sadly, my situation is not an anomaly. High achieving men and women around the globe are becoming so immersed into their good and noble deeds that the very good that they do becomes bad for them. All the while the more I did to prove my worth the footsteps of the past were closing in faster than I could run.

Coming up next  Chapter 27 “Hope Rising”

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

Chapter 25 – Of All the Lawyers

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Lawyer-45From my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

Just when you think you have heard it all, along comes this chapter. Dale and I started writing the forerunner to this book in 2003. In fact, at the suggestion of David McCall, a church member who was to be our ghost writer, the three of us took a book writing retreat to Destin, Florida September 16-19, 2003. The first morning, Dale and I were mortified when David joined us in the condo dining area, for our first writing session, wearing short shorts. It is an understatement to say that it was quite a revealing moment! Dale and I made eye contact and we intuitively knew what the other was thinking. Perhaps I have lived a sheltered life, but I had never seen anything quite like that before or thankfully since!

For full disclosure, when David saw that Dale and I were taken aback by his kitsch display, he explained that they were his “old high school gym shorts” and that he just wanted to see if they still fit. Obviously they did not. Thankfully, he changed into something more appropriate before we went outside. There were no more wardrobe malfunctions. Unfortunately, there was also no bonding on the retreat and our collaboration never gained much traction.

As I was putting together the outline for this book, when I came to the Destin trip, the very first thing I recalled was the shorts incident. I had to chuckle a bit. Looking back, that trip was not a very successful beginning of my book writing journey, but it was the starting point. My understanding is that David is now the associate pastor at HPC.

Now, fast forward to the spring of 2010, at the urging of several key people, I decided to write “Unscrewed” on my own without any more ghost writers. I was confident that I had a compelling story that would minister to others. I also suspected that it would be a cathartic experience for me and one in which I would deal with, “my bad” as far as the split of Highland Park Church was concerned and finally bring closure to that whole episode of my life. During a meeting with a literary advisor, there was some discussion about releasing “Unscrewed” as a novel. Although we have not totally discounted that possibility, I replied, “Why?  Since David’s short shorts episode and up until today, the truth has been far stranger than fiction”.

In September of 2005 before I left for treatment, Dale and I made certain commitments to each other, as to how we would proceed when I returned. I made mine in good faith with full intent on fulfilling my end of our covenant.  Even though I was an emotional basket case, I took our covenant very seriously. Unfortunately, Dale, apparently under the “spell” of his dad, did not.  Even before my plane touched down in Tucson, a church member noticed that Dale had rearranged the church website to put my name below his. Later that very week, Gene moved into my office.  Under the cover of darkness, he and Dale transported my personal property from my office, which they did not pilferage for themselves, to a storage facility on Charlotte Avenue.

One thing that they did not keep was, “The Bill Tree”, a large tree-like plant that I had kept in my office. It had been given to me by my dear friends Jim and Becky Fyke in memory of my oldest brother, Bill, when he had passed away. When we moved from our former church offices on Music Row to Knob Hill, I had transported it in my car to make sure it did not get damaged. I had been somewhat meticulous with the tree because it was my connection to my brother; I had faithfully maintained it for two years.

That Saturday morning when Michael and I opened the door of the storage compartment, the first thing we saw was that plant.  It was wilted, dry and dead from lack of water and sunlight for five weeks. I felt my eyes filling with tears. The “Bill Tree” is a graphic reminder to me of the depths to which people will stoop to further their jealously fueled agendas.

One of Dale’s favored mantras is, “Possession is nine tenths of the law”. When we had moved the church from Hillsboro High School to our new building on Knob Hill, he took several lights that we had installed in the school lighting system as part of an upgrade that we had done to the stage lights. I felt that we had given them to the school. When I challenged Dale on taking them back, he looked at me, smiled and let loose with his “possession” spill. Perhaps, he justified his confiscation of my personal property with that same cavalier, self-justifying rationalization. See the appendix for the complete list of things that apparently fell under his rationalizing hex.

One that I feel compelled to mention in the text is my “Bobble Head Jesus”, which had been a Christmas gift several years earlier. Admittedly, it was slightly unorthodox, but at the same time, I felt that it spoke volumes about our Lord and Savior’s willingness to connect with everyday people. I can only speculate that, perhaps Dale’s young son, Carson, wanted Uncle John’s “Bobble Head Jesus” as a plaything. It was just a cheap trinket, but it meant a lot to me.  It was apparently appropriated along with whatever else they wanted. When I sent a letter to Gary Cayce, who was my appointed “contact person” between me and the Robinson Church, listing for him the items I was missing, his response was that none of my stuff was at Highland Park. Cayce’s response was not a surprise, as he seemed to always follow closely behind Gary Robinson.

The week after I had left for Tucson, Bob Willis, both an incredible friend and key church volunteer, who had come to know the Lord at one of our Easter services, was at the church doing volunteer work. When he noticed that Gene Cole was now occupying my office, he immediately    inquired to Dale as to “What happened to John’s office?” According to Bob, Dale looked away and replied, “Oh we moved everything to John’s house, so he can work there until he feels like he is able to return”. Bob later told me that “when Dale could not look me in the eyes I knew he was lying”.   Bob let my family know what was going down.

On October 14 a few days before I returned from Sierra Tucson, I received a message from Michael to call Dale Robinson right away. During our conversation, Dale said that if I attempted to come back to the church that he would have me arrested for “assaulting Kelly” in the September 6, 2005 incident (3). I could not believe what that man was saying!  He went so far as to state “John I can have you arrested anytime in the next 338 days (4).  He mentioned how that would affect not only me, but my family and specifically my elderly mother. As if he needed to, Dale also reminded me of how disturbed my mom would be if she learned of my childhood abuse.  He then demanded that I call him back and let the call go to voice mail and state that I had resigned.  I am not stretching the truth one bit, when I say I literally felt a dark evilness oozing out of the telephone receiver as he talked to me. I was very cognizant that Dale had said, “I can have you arrested…” He did not say “Kelly”, or he did not say “We” can have you arrested. It was “I”.  At that point in time, I felt in a hopeless state of utter despair. When I related his threat to the Sierra Tucson staff person, who happened to be sitting next to me during the phone call, he was able to give me insight and understanding. It was obviously a display of Dale’s wish for power to control me and the church.   After that conversation, even while I was still at Sierra Tucson, I decided to walk away from Highland Park Church, the Robinson family and their cronies. I knew that anyone with an ounce of God inspired Christian  discernment would see the Robinsons for what they really were. God knew the truth, my family and I knew the truth. We had succeeded in our mission to build a different kind of church. The success of Highland Park Church was a fact. Even in my diminished emotional state, I understood that I had been the linchpin in that accomplishment; albeit with much help from Dale Robinson and others. For most of Dale and my years at Highland Park, we had been a really incredible two-man tag team. It was extremely painful to let those wonderful memories go. But I had no other choice.

A lot of things were taken from me by the Robinsons, but not the fact that I had succeeded in God’s will for my life. I had taken under my wing, Dale who is the most gifted person I have ever known, but who was literally a “Boy Friday” at mom and dad’s family insurance business, with little higher education and no real future and mentored him into co-pastor of a major Nashville church. Unlike his dad, I had encouraged him to get his education and actually paid for his MBA from Trevecca Nazarene University.  When Gene Cole came to us, he was an unemployed musician working as a uniformed security guard. He had no health insurance. Now, he was a well paid music director. I made sure the church provided full family health insurance for both Dale and Gene, while I paid for my own through Cathy’s employer. Because of their ages, I felt that they needed more income than me, so I structured the salaries so that both were paid more than me. Those were my choices. At the time, they made perfect sense to me. I thought it was the right thing to do. Cathy and I had put twelve years of our lives and over $400,000 (8) into helping to build the church.  However, in the final analysis, I came to the conclusion that some things in life are just not worth the emotional toll of all out warfare to hold on to. My only regret over how I handled my exit, was that I walked away without telling my side of the story. That was my bad. I hope this book rectifies that error.

During that same timeframe, Gary Robinson brazenly told Lou Alvarez that, “We have always wanted a church like this (Highland Park)”. My thinking was if Gary and his son wanted it so badly that they would attempt to destroy a man who had loved them like brothers, then we would let them have it. It is surely on its way.  The ironic truth is, I had cried “Uncle” long before Gary had demanded that I do so in one of his foolhardy 2006 Moon Mails.

During my time in Arizona, God led me to Psalm 37. Previously when I had read it, I did not make a personal connection with David’s plight, but this time I found find great solace in his comforting words of hope and dependence on God, as he was being pursued by his former friend Saul. I was and still am certain it is God’s message to me. I did not know how, but mentally I knew God would take care of me just as he had David thousands of years earlier.  Truthfully, it took a long time for my emotional side to catch up with the mental knowledge of God’s provision.   Like Abraham and Moses before us, we chose to walk not knowing where we were going.  So did 300 others, including virtually all the major givers. A family that had pledged $250,000 to our building fund walked out of a brand new state of the art facility and chose to worship with us in a middle school auditorium. To thinking folks, their unselfish actions spoke volumes. They are still with us today. Those repudiations apparently set the stage for many of the Robinson’s iniquitous actions detailed throughout this book and God’s responses to them.

As stated earlier, Dale violated our agreement in several ways, even before I returned home. But after my return, as more and more wheels continued to spin off the “Robinson Church”, he made many more outrageous choices which effectively rendered our agreement null and void. Gary later audaciously wrote to me, indicating that Dale was under his control at that point in time; but whoever was in charge, son or daddy, some very bad and mean spirited choices were made on their parts.  Each time God blocked their path and actually aborted their actions. The remainder of this chapter highlights what I believe to be another direct intervention of God, as Psalm 37 surely promised me that he would.

There are literally thousands of attorneys in Nashville. This chapter is about one of the best and how God used him, in a miraculous way, to once again demonstrate the truth of His Word to me on a personal basis. In the end He also afforded me a good laugh, when I needed one most.

On a hot July day in  2006, as I finished up my afternoon run, I stopped by the mailbox and noticed a letter from a  law firm that had successfully represented me, when Dale and Gene were spreading  a couple of particularly reprehensible lies about me in the fall of 2005 (2). However, this letter was not in regard to that issue, which had been quickly resolved in my favor though two courier delivered letters to Dale and Gene threatening a lawsuit if they continued to tell those two lies, without offering proof of their spurious allegations. Obviously, they could not because, by definition, a lie cannot be proved.  But this letter was not from Barbara Moss but from another attorney in the same firm. He was one of the most well know and highly respected attorneys in Nashville. Walking from my mailbox to my house, I recall wondering how in the world, Dale and Kelly could have possibly ever hooked up with such a lawyer. A week later I would have my answer.

In the letter, the Robinsons demanded a large sum of money from me. To me, it was nothing more than an attempted shakedown.  If I paid them the money, then the letter stated they would not sue me for “any matters” that came out of the church split. To this day, I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. They also demanded that I “release them from any damages regarding the church split”. The letter ended with this chilling conclusion.  “If you do not wish to make this agreement, please let me know so that they will proceed to have a court lawsuit filed.  It would be extremely expensive and extremely embarrassing to you in reputation, standing and personal expense if we cannot get this done right away. They are prepared to go full route if we cannot get this fair agreement from you right away.”


Harris Gilbert

My first thought was that apparently Dale and Kelly were living in a parallel universe. Actually, for the twenty or so years that I had known Dale, he had lived in what I had referred to a “Robinson Reality”. To him whatever, he believed to be true was true, the facts notwithstanding.

Yet, the reality was that if anybody was going to do any suing, then it should be me. Suing may be a style of the Robinsons, but it is not my style. That was the “Real Reality”, not just my opinion. I had lost count of the malicious and capricious lies they had spread in their failed attempts to destroy me, my ministry and members of my family after their coup turned sour. But I had decided long ago not to sue people whom I actually still love just to prove I could. Since my breakdown on September 6, 2005, I had acquiesced to each of Dale’s prior ghastly threats against me.  However, after reading his bullying letter, I decided to push back. With that outrageous letter, his control of me had finally come to an absolute end point.   There was positively no way I was going to pay them a single penny or be pushed by him ever again even if it ended up costing me every dime I had! That afternoon I finally had enough! I became a fighter and regained my manhood, which seemed to have instantly evaporated during my breakdown of September 6.  I became more resolute with each passing day. That day I made up my mind to write this book.  Praise God!

However, even though I knew they could not win a judgment, I was frightened, but not really surprised. After all, since September 6, 2005, I had behaved like a whipped puppy. Why would Dale not expect to be able to successfully hit me up for some big bucks?  I had a surprise in store; their outrageous letter was going to be dealt with on my terms and no one else’s. Dale occasionally uses the expression, “The shoo-shoo hit the fan”. I have mostly heard it in another translation. Whatever version, as far as I was concerned this time it really had! Over the previous ten months, Dale and Kelly had already systemically laid bare what was left of their character, so I knew how to respond to their odious attempt to put the whipped cream and cherry on their sundae of betrayal via my bank account. I recalled, Gary’s earlier written boast to me that his family does what he tells them to do.

Then something very odd happened, out of the blue, I broke into uncontrolled laughter. Suddenly it clicked!  I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It finally dawned on me that of all the lawyers they could have chosen to sue me, it would be impossible for this particular one to do so. He was automatically disqualified. Barbara Moss with the same firm was already representing me in the Robinson matter! She is the one who early on had sent the aforementioned letter to Dale Robinson and Gene Cole demanding proof for their lies or else. What are the odds of that?

I quickly emailed Mr. Gilbert regarding his conflict of interest. He responded with an apology informing me that due to his mistake his firm would be unable to represent me or the Robinsons “in this matter”. I replied telling him that was not a problem, but since he did not do his due diligence and had become involved in this issue by meeting with the Robinsons, that I also wanted to meet with him. I also told him that perhaps we could make this into a win-win for everybody. Surprisingly, after running it by Dale, he agreed to meet with me on the following Friday afternoon. It was a most remarkable and memorial ninety minutes.

I found Mr. Gilbert to be an extremely impressive and warm man. I had heard of him nearly all of my life. To be sitting in his office, discussing the Robinson’s threat to sue me, once again demonstrated the supremacy and majesty of my “Big G God”. The story that Mr. Gilbert related to me regarding his relationship with Dale Robinson’s newly appointed associate pastor, David Farmer, was both bizarre and extremely sad. At the same time it was actually very hilarious. You may think that sounds impossible. Well, just keep reading!

While I was in treatment, the staff at Sierra Tucson had received a document written by Dale and Gene listing “my issues”. My understanding is that it had been forwarded to them by Pete Harris. The staff out there is the cream of the crop as far as therapists are concerned; so they quickly saw the document for the obvious hatchet job that it was. Therefore, I was advised to keep meticulous records of anything having to do with the church split – especially from Dale. By nature, I am a fairly detailed person, so record keeping comes easily for me.

During our meeting, I shared with Mr. Gilbert a photocopied binder titled, “The Mess” containing a very detailed account of what actually had gone down since September 6, 2005. The original was and is in a safety deposit box. The binder was organized and referenced with dates, names and contact information. There was a lengthy list of people who were willing to be put under oath.  It contained copies of Gary Robinson’s frightening “Moon Mail” (7) along with a snail mail letter from Gary with an obvious fake return address. There was a copy of an unsigned threat that arrived through the mail in what I believe to be a modified “Robinson Agency” envelope. There were 35 pieces of correspondence pertinent to the threatened suit, comments, and financial records from HPC, transcripts of recorded phone calls to me from Dale Robinson on September 12, 2005 and a threatening call from Gene Cole to me on October 19, 2005.  It contained a list of 38 untruthful and slanderous comments made to HPC people about me by Gary and Thelma Robinson, Dale and Kelly Robinson, Gene Cole and David Farmer, along with the names of people involved and the dates of the comments. It contained information about Dale and Kelly that a suit against me would most likely make public. It also detailed an incident that had taken place on a subsequent trip to Destin, Florida. A copy of the “I am Sitting Here Crying” email from Dale Robinson was included along with my handwritten notes on a hard copy. I included a copy of letters from one of Mr. Gilbert’s own associates regarding the Dale Robinson’s “libelous, outrageous and reprehensible behavior”.

Included in the binder was a detailed account of the covenant made between me and Dale Robinson in September of 2005. There was an itemized list of my property that the Robinson’s refused to return to me. There was an accounting of certain monies that I was still owed by HPC. There was a complete account of the incident of September 6, 2005 along with a copy of a coerced and near dictated confession that Dale Robinson demanded that I make, in order to be able to return to HPC, during the first of two phone calls from him to my home on September 12, 2005. The binder contained statements from four people who had viewed an exculpatory security camera video of the September 6, incident between me and Kelly Robinson.

There was a discharge summary of my diagnosis from Sierra Tucson, along with an affidavit from Dr. Hans Larson, the administrator, stating that no one from Sierra Tucson had had any discussion with Dale Robinson regarding John Gouldener. Finally, the binder included copies of certain pictures provided to me from The Emerald Coast Volleyball Tournament, held in September of 2005. For some time, Mr. Gilbert carefully went through the binder. He made comments and occasionally asked questions. When he was finished, he looked at me and simply said, “John, I do not think the Robinson’s will be filing a lawsuit”. I replied that, “Record keeping is one of my strong points.”

Now, that we had that issue behind us, I then asked, “Mr. Gilbert how did you get involved with those people? This is not your kind of stuff.”  He told me that he has a “friend” at HPC. When I asked, who might that be, he replied that it was the newly appointed associate pastor, David Farmer.That stunned me! That relationship seemed as unlikely to me as the Queen of England shacking up with an unemployed, homeless man.  It did not compute at all. I have known David for over twenty years.  I first met him at the gym. What an experience that had been! At that time, he had a propensity to constantly run his filthy mouth as he strutted around the sauna in his Speedo.

At the time, before I knew David’s name, I had told Dale of “a guy” at the gym and his low-down behavior, but he could not figure out who I was talking about. A while later, I attended Dale’s church and there was David in the choir! I was appalled. I looked over at Dale and said, “That is the guy with the trash mouth and the Speedo from the gym. After the service, Dale filled me in on what he knew about David Farmer and it was not a pretty picture. David is about as rough around the edges as anyone I have ever encountered and seems to me, to be without any boundaries or class whatsoever. He once told me that he dropped out of Middle Tennessee State University after a semester or two, but at one time had a successful auto parts business in North Nashville, a red Corvette and a beachfront home in Destin. Suddenly all of that came to an abrupt end. I do not know all the ends and outs of exactly what came down during that time. I do know that since his tumble, he has bounced from job to job. Prior to being appointed associate pastor at Highland Park Church, he had been a counterman at an electrical supply house, a mattress salesman and worked a brief stint as TSA security guard. During one of his periods of unemployment, Cathy and I had provided Christmas gifts for his beautiful little granddaughter.

I am told that Dale Robinson announced in a church service that God “told him in a dream” to hire David as his assistant. From my perspective, God could have searched the world over and not have picked a more unqualified man for the job.  However, I expect some folks felt that way when He picked me out of the lumber business in 1990!

I was curious how a distinguished and prominent attorney from Belle Meade became friends with David Farmer, a good ole boy type from the Nations (9) of West Nashville. Mr. Gilbert related that he had once handled some legal work for David. When he landed his church gig, one of his duties was to recruit his extended family and friends, primarily from the Nations and a Church of the Nazarene in the area that had recently closed down.  Both David and the Robinson families are life-long Nazarenes, with roots that go down deep. Since 2005 that particular denomination has been a fertile recruiting ground for them.  When Dale was to be out of town, he had to schedule David to speak at the Sunday service. David immediately began calling people to come hear him speak. In his excitement and self-promotion, he called Mr. Gilbert inviting him to come for the debut of Reverend Farmer the preacher. Not seeing David as a preacher at all, Mr. Gilbert was intrigued enough that he decided to attend the service to see what the mattress salesman turned preacher had to offer. I asked, Mr. Gilbert, “And how was he?”

(In this chapter I am paraphrasing Mr. Gilbert’s words. My recollection is not word for word, but I believe it is a reasonably accurate paraphrase of what he told me.) After, a slight chuckle, he replied, “Actually, John he was pretty good. As you know, he has a pretty unique way of telling a story. But it was a bit strange because he did not have a single verse of Scripture in his message. I thought that was really odd”.

Mr. Gilbert described that after the service, as he chatted with David in the foyer, David asked him what he thought about his message. Mr. Gilbert replied, that, “It was really good, but David I did notice that you did not use the Bible at all! I have never been to a service where the minister did not use the Bible in his message.” Reverend Farmer replied, “Actually, Harris, I am weak in that area. I am not too familiar with the Bible”. Realizing that the David was in a bit over his head, and going the extra mile to help him excel in his new career, Mr. Gilbert said, “I tell you what David, the next time you are going to be delivering the message, if you will call me and tell me your topic, then I can at least pick some Scriptures for you insert into your message.

An unabashedly unembarrassed Rev. David Farmer jumped all over the offer. Then Mr. Gilbert said, “There is one problem David —I am Jewish.” Noticing David’s lack of expression, Mr. Gilbert went on to explain to David the fact that being Jewish meant that his help would be limited to picking Old Testament Scriptures only!

Coming up next  Chapter 26 – “The Mistress”

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

Absent Dads

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Absent-FathersLast Friday at the YMCA, I overheard a man, who appeared to be thirty something, make the following statement on his cell. “Oh, I can do it anytime because I don’t have kids. Well, I have two, but they live with my ex.”

Obviously, I have no idea what he was talking about doing, but I do know that his idea of not having kids and mine are eons apart. In fact, I believe that the attitude articulated by that father is by far the single greatest threat we face as a nation. It is certainly more serious than ISIS, where you can carry a gun, build a mosque, or any of the other hot button local or national issues of the day.

That man’s “I don’t have kids” mantra is the drive shaft of what is systemically wrong at the very heart and soul of our nation. Men (I use that term only in a physical sense) who bring children into the world and then live like they do not have any are the lowest forms of humanity. Ask any teacher in the public school system about the number of dads they have ever met. Eighty-three percent of the inmates incarcerated in the prison systems of our country had no in-home father figure growing up.

The other day we saw two of the cutest toddlers playing at McDonalds. They were clad in innocence. Both had bright eyes and ear to ear smiles, but no dad in their lives. Driving home, a pall of sadness fell over my being when it occurred to me that the chance of us someday seeing those children on “Cops” is probably greater than the chances of them graduating from high school.

That is a sin of the very worst kind! No child comes into the world bad. Yet, the deck is overwhelmingly stacked against a child when daddy says, “Oh, I can do anything because, I don’t have kids”. And realize I’m not just talking about children of the ghetto. This issue transcends race, creed, color or income level. This shameful attitude is manifested in men living in the “Hood” as well as in finely appointed mansions in the “Meade” and every place between. There are all sorts of ways to ignore your children other than being physically absent.

Something to Think About

Chapter 24 – Bingo!

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

bingo-hiFrom my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

It was a late Friday afternoon and we were on our way to Jason’s Deli in Cool Springs when my cell phone rang.  “Mr. Gouldener this is special agent Rodriguez with the FBI…” Several days earlier I had met with him about a Denial of Service attack on our church computer in which thousands of fraudulent emails were sent that had knocked us offline multiple times. It was an amateurish attempt, but it was aggravating. Agent Rodriguez had previously confirmed to me that the attack was both a Federal and a State crime. His call was to give me a status report on the FBI investigation and to make a recommendation as to the next step.  During our initial discussions I had given him the names of my only two suspects. I told him that one or both were most likely responsible for the attacks as well as a previous DOS attack in which the church email account was broached and the password changed so we could no longer access the account.  The names were those of father and son tandem George and Galen Robinson. He asked me how I knew. “Because I have known them for 20 years; like you cops say I know their MO”. His call was to inform me that he had been in contact with local police and that pursuing the case on a local level would probably be the most expeditious way to proceed, but if I preferred to keep it on the Federal level that was my choice. When the call ended I looked at Cathy and said, “This thing could very well take on a life of its own; it is going to lead us to a point where we are going to have to decide to give them a taste of their own medicine or to walk away. Right now, I am afraid I am in more of a get even mood”. The feeling I had after that phone call was exactly the same as I once had on a deer hunt when I looked through my scope and there stood a huge buck. I had him in my sights!  My heart was pounding and the adrenalin was racing through my bloodstream.

When I first went to law enforcement I feared that they would blow me off. I found that not to be the case, but along with that knowledge came a degree of trepidation. Frankly, adrenalin rush or not I was into something that ran against my natural gain. The following Monday I met with Detective Tom Spray who seemed to be a computer crime specialist. He knew exactly how to proceed. I gave him the same two names and told him I would bet him lunch that someone with the name “Robinson” would be found responsible for the email attacks. When I left the police department the plan was for Detective Spray to appeal to the court to issue a subpoena requiring Comcast to reveal the identity of the sender.  He was confident that the court would quickly give us relief.  As I drove back to my office my emotion was a mixture of relief, anxiety and dread. Frankly, I knew that we were at most only a few days from the arrest of the criminal. Since I already knew it would be one or the other, both former good friends, I recalled happy times together and actually hoped that my suspicions were wrong; however, I knew in my heart they were not. In twenty years you sense things about people.

A few days later Spray called me. When I answered he simply said “Bingo, preacher; you would make a good detective. The attacks came from Galen Robinson’s computer in Fairview, Tennessee. We are going to have him come in for questioning”.  A couple of hours later Spray called back; he was laughing, “Well, our friend Galen cannot come into until tomorrow because he has to escort Sonny James to the Awards Show tonight, but he agreed to come in tomorrow”. Under questioning Galen finally admitted his criminal activity. He begged for mercy claiming that if this hit the news he would lose a lot of his web design business. Detective Spray also told me that he had also talked to Galen’s wife and she was furious with her husband. With the confession in hand it would be a slam dunk at trial.

The next day Lou Alvarez, our church board chairman, and I met with Spay. He told us the next step was for us to decide. We left the meeting undecided as to what to do next.  Cathy and I prayed about it and we came to the conclusion that what we needed to do was forgive, move on and not put Galen through the embarrassment and expense of arrest and a trial.  A few months earlier this same family had me arrested on a false charge which was tossed out of court after only twelve minutes of testimony. I remembered the sound of that steel door slamming behind me. Unlike me, Galen was actually guilty; yet, I could not do that to him. Shortly after my arrest George actually sent me my mug shot in one of his taunting emails that we all referred to “Moon Mail”. I have it in my office to remind me of what jealousy can do even to people who claim to know the Lord, but do not follow His gospel. So for many reasons a side of me wanted to get even, but if we did then what good would it serve? Sure it would punish Galen, who certainly deserved punishment, but it would also hurt his innocent wife and his two sweet children and I was pretty sure that was not what God wanted us to do. I thought about the day I had stood in ICU at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and prayed for Galen’s infant son as I watched his surgically repaired heart beat in his open little chest. That was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. There was no way I was going to put his daddy in jail.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:6 “Forgive us our debts as we forgive others”. (NLT) The word “forgive” is a verb; it is more than saying something. It is doing something. The Bible clearly teaches that God honors those who actually forgive. I decided to take my satisfaction in being the better man and doing what I think Jesus would have done. I informed Spray that I personally did not want to move forward with the case. However, the ultimate decision would have to come from our church board. The board was not in quite as a forgiving mood.  But after much heated discussion and hurt feelings they agreed to turn the other cheek.

Just when you think you have heard it all comes Chapter 25 – “Of All the Lawyers”. Coming up next.

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

Never Quit

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

American-Pharoah-ketucky-derby-earplugsI hope you got to see the most exciting two minutes in sports — of course I’m talking about the 2015 Run for the Roses.  This year’s edition of the Kentucky Derby was an incredible two minute and three second life-lesson on the art of coming from behind to win the really big one. In the end it was a three horse race with American Pharaoh pulling ahead just before the finish line. The never quitting three year old ended up electrifying the record Churchill Downs crowd, and millions more of us less fortunate ones watching on TV winning by a length over leader Firing Line. Chalk up another parable of life from the world of sports.

After over twenty – five years of ministry, I can think of countless folks whom I have personally known who have made just as remarkable comebacks. Here are a few and believe me this is just the tip of a pretty incredible iceberg. There are Mike and Judy who were teetering on the precipice of divorce after years of addiction and a troubled marriage. Instead of quitting, they started going to church; they kept running by putting their faith in God even when it looked hopeless.  Today their marriage is strong, they both smile a lot and I’m honored to have them as friends.

My brother, Eddie, who was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, decided to keep running too. In the process, as he put it, he “found the Man upstairs” and God gave him another seven years, perhaps his best seven.

I think of my old friend Bob.  He had never been into the church scene, but like so many he went through the yearly ritual of attending an Easter service. Unlike most, for some reason he came back the next Sunday and then the next and then every Sunday. Bob has now crossed his final finish line in great shape. He hung in for the long haul even when he was way back in the pack.

The truth is right now you may feel like you are so far out of the running of life that there is no hope for you. Take a lesson from American Pharaoh. Here’s how he did it. It wasn’t all that complicated. He kept putting one foot in front of the other.  He kept doing the next right thing. That was the secret to winning the race.  Take my word for it; the guy who appears to be winning is still in a vulnerable position even though he may be way out in front. If you keep running, just like the folks I mentioned and millions more, you stand an excellent chance of not only overtaking him but leaving him in a cloud of dust no matter who or what “him” may be in your life.

Something to think about

The beta version of my book  for free.
Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab and victory.

Chapter 22 – Moon Mail

Friday, May 1st, 2015

FmlCteXKrom my book Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure, rehab, jail and victory.

(Warning some of Gary’s communiques may make no sense to you. Complete emails are posted in print book appendix).

Four days later on Good Friday 2006, the day honoring Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, a multi-year odyssey of electronic bullying, harassment and message board posts, along with unsigned letters, fake identities, phone call hang ups, something that I do not know what to call it except an attempted “shakedown” was just beginning.  Some of the actors identified themselves. One, the police made an ID after subpoenaing his internet records. The rest I can only make assumptions and speculations based on prior experiences. The harassment began on Good Friday when Gary Robinson sent me what has become known as the “Faux Olive Branch” email. He did sign it, but I also traced it to his insurance office computer, since the IP address on the email matched the IP address on some of the threatening emails that were sent earlier to the other pastor under the pen name of “Darren Liff”.

After the judge had exposed the light of truth once and for all in the public record, Gary Robinson was suddenly offering me what he referred to as an “olive branch” and seeming taking responsibility for  what I had thought all long – that he had been the driving force behind the whole sordid episode of the church hijacking.  As stunning as it is, Gary actually wrote this in his email of April 14 and later in a snail mail of April 17:

“You and I are the leaders of our families. What we say goes and we are very good at what we do. We should commend each other. You have hurt my son and I have hurt your son. If you feel you were vindicated in the courtroom on Monday then so was I. I nearly put your son in jail

(I do not understand what he is talking about here.  I was the one on trial not my son.) But I am sure our sons would ask us to lay our swords down…we, you and I have the power to lay this issue aside…

I will say this…if any of this email gets out, in its entirety or in any portion, the olive branch will be withdrawn…

I will accept one and only one response. It’s not very religious but we both understand what it means…’Uncle’.  I will not accept any more than just one word…’Uncle’…’”

Yikes! To me, those were revealing statements. I could not believe he was actually writing those kinds of things in an email. His email seemed to us to be an attempt to convince his own impotent ego of his imagined power. It was all about everybody except the supposed victim.  If Kelly was the person who was so emotionally traumatized, why was not she the focus of Gary’s thoughts? How did “our sons” become the victims?  To me the answer is quite obvious.  By Gary’s own admission, he had been after me with a “sword”. As he was trying to destroy me, all I had in my hand was a shield; I was merely trying to survive. I never held a sword either figuratively or literally. The charges were dismissed so anyway you cut it the Robinson’s looked bad.  What was left of their credibility had taken a hit on the scales of justice. To use an old southern euphemism, they had crapped in their nest.

In September of 2005, when Lou Alvarez had beseeched Dale to reverse course before he split the church, Dale has responded, “Lou we have determined that no more than ten people will leave”.  The actual number who walked was around three hundred! When, due to their own evil actions, the bottom fell out, they then tried to actually put me in prison in a feeble attempt to “win”.  And now I had Gary emailing me talking about “swords” and boasting that in his family what he says goes. I find that very scary; so do mental health professions. But unfortunately that was just the beginning of what has come to be known as “Moon Mail” from Gary.

And it got even more bizarre and frightening. Since I did not respond to his “Faux Olive Branch”, a few days later I went to my mailbox and there was an envelope with this obvious fake return address: “ Nashville TN”. For what reason he went to that trouble escapes me, because when I opened it here is what I found:

April 17, 2006

“There has been no response from my email of 04/14/2006. Whether a response is received or not, this is a generous second invitation to lay down the sword.

The document is attached…”

Then there were more ramblings. Gary had totally flipped out on me. Since I did not respond to his email, now he was trying to intimidate me by snail mail. Again I ignored him.  I soon realized that he does not like to be ignored.

On April 26, 2006 I received the following email from Gary Robinson. “Since there has been no response from my email of 04/14/2006 and from my letter on 04/17/2006, you’re not responding is accepted as a no to the olive branch.  They say time passes quickly.  In truth, time stays and we pass quickly.  No matter…there is a right time for everything.

‘Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (MSG)

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,

A right time to plant and another to reap,

A right time to kill and another to heal,

A right time to destroy and another to construct,

A right time to cry and another to laugh,

A right time to lament and another to cheer,

A right time to make love and another to abstain,

A right time to embrace and another to part,

A right time to search and another to count your losses,

A right time to hold on and another to let go,

A right time to rip out and another to mend,

A right time to shut up and another to speak up,

A right time to love and another to hate,

A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

Seeing the issue of September last now still remains open, what are the options from today forward?  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 has pointed them out very clearly. As was indicated in the offer presented by email and direct mail… yours is still the next move. To every action there is a reaction. If an action is decided upon a reaction takes place. There is no action if there is no action. However a German Proverb says it well, ‘He who has burned his mouth blows into his soup.’

In the final analysis Ecclesiastes 3:15 sums it up correctly. ‘Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.’ It is time for something. What time is it? As God watches it must be a matter of who decides to blow first.

Again I chose not to respond. The truth is I could not have responded had I wished to. I was at a loss as to what Gary was saying!

So on Saturday May 27, Gary sent more Moon Email.

“America is a great place. Here it is Memorial Day weekend and we have the right to free speech and the same right of laughter. Life is too short to be serious and so often laughter follows someone’s free speech. Personally, I prefer a good laugh each day, and laughter for me brings great joy. Laughing is such great fun and the Creator also enjoys it as the Psalmist wrote, ‘The One enthroned in heaven laughs’.  G.K. Chesterton said it as well as could be said, ‘Madmen are always serious; they go mad from lack of humor’. It’s especially funny, though, how some folks try to impress others that they are like Mother Teresa when people are doubled over joyously laughing as to how much they are like Archie Bunker. Since the end of April the laugh track has become louder and louder.  The non-computer addressed postcards to folks at HPC announcing your next move-laughter. Then the first line in the disclaimer at the bottom of your email on May 3 said, ‘The document accompanying this transmission may contain confidential health information that is legally protected.’ Health information? What laughter that one brought (I am clueless what he is talking about). And the statement at the bottom of your most recent emails © 2006 John Gouldener All Rights Reserved. That’s really funny. Your signature as large as you dared make it on your newsletter- that’s priceless laughter. Your disclaimer saying, ‘we had a computer failure and our purged list was lost’-another really big dose of laughter for everyone on that one too. Then your email to David Friedli on Saturday morning before Mother’s Day-something funny like that was expected out of you again, and you came through with flying colors and the laughter continued.  And then finally the unspeakable laughter came along…your newspaper ad with the same link on it. After all that money was spent by you on newspaper advertising showing the website, laughter reached new levels because, I hope you find this as funny as I do, your website keeps on showing the meeting address as the hysterical Cohn Adult Learning Center’s auditorium.  If you change the website in any way, I will always be able to joyously say I was the one that cared enough to inform you-now isn’t that a big laugh.

The Bible says ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. I have kept your ashes alive in my heart hoping to be helpful enough to bring you back to real life, and even going so far as offering you an olive branch on Good Friday. You refused…I guess there just isn’t enough compassion for some folks…so I just laugh. Burying your ashes alive in my heart did not work…you would not let it work…so I’ll just keep on laughing because of all the joy you bring. You can keep on doing what the rest of us have the power not do… sending more entertaining emails to HPC people and continue merrily walking by us in malls and parking lots and driving by us on streets and continue sending letters with no return address…but laughing always works. So thanks for all the funnies, but especially thanks for the website funny-because it continues to give plenty of folks an old heartfelt joyous laugh”.

Gary Robinson

(Again I am at a loss to explain other than our website did have an incorrect address for a time.)

By this point in time I myself was certainly not laughing.  I had been exposed to “Robinson Rage” several times in the past. I had become concerned for my safety and I met with the police as well as a psychologist. Both gave me advice and I heeded it. Seven days later, Gary sent me another cryptic message via his insurance agency email account.

“Yesterday I received something in the mail with a Nashville postmark on it that I did not understand. It took me back to when I was a teenager and I went with my dad early Saturday mornings to the leather tannery where he worked. We got up at 4:30, ate at a little restaurant, and got to his workplace about 5:00.

My job was to sweep the entire fifth floor. The smell of new leather still brings me back to that place. After I had finishing the sweeping I liked to go to the Oak Hill Avenue side of the building and spit out the window at people walking down the sidewalk five stories below. If I was lucky enough to hit them I would duck back inside so they did not know where it came from. Once I was even bold enough to drop water balloons out of the window-luckily they missed.

I always wondered why I did such a thing. It seemed neat when I was 15. But, then again, I really was still an immature child then. The Bible tells us about such things in I Corinthians…”When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

Now back to yesterday. I received for the first time, as members of our family have received in the past, an envelope without a return address. Prior to the ugly incident of last September we never received childish mail like this. When our family saw this pattern develop we had a meeting. It was obvious that people who would not take credit for what they were sending were not writing anything credible.  The outcome of the meeting was that any mail we received from little people so immature as to leave off return addresses…we would just put them in an unopened file. This was done yesterday.

Now whether the mail I received yesterday came from you or one of your supporters or someone else does not really matter to me. The fact is stuff like this has been going on since September last and we do not care to open such spineless envelopes sent in this manner.

We should be thankful, however, for authentic people like writers Simon Wiesenthal, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner, Michael Ryan and John Powell in his book “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am” for laying bare their souls but also for attaching their names to their works. We can believe what they said for they were not spitting out of windows and then hiding.

And finally, two other things…1) you are welcome for the recent heads-up I gave you on your old website. I see the location address is now correct thanks to me, and   2)…your new website has a different look. We thought the color scheme we used on the HPC website was classy and we are touched to see someone copying it. I, though, would have chosen a more creative approach…you know-a self-inspired original color combination. I remember way back when some other church used our “Jeans at Church” idea and we all had a big laugh about it (I still have that other churches mailer). Stuff like this lightens my day.”


Sent:    Saturday, June 10, 2006 9:23PM

“Your latest email to some of our HPC folks is offensive to me. It is a bland attempt to misinform by leaving the true details of an incident hidden so can build up your self-esteem. Paper is known for its memory and the paper trail on you is enormous.  I will put together my response and email it to you. I will then send it first to the Gilgs. You have honestly crossed the line with me on this one. To boldly say expunged and then spin it…are you stupid or are you just acting stupid? Welcome to my world”.


On that one I did laugh. He called me “stupid” and then said “Welcome to My world”.

6-14-06 Email from Gary Robinson


“In life you can find God in the simplest of things. In a flower growing up toward you with its petals open to the sun filling the air with the aroma of God. God is there. God can be seen in tomato plants and watermelon patches, in a sunflower and a cornfield. He’s in the magnificence of vertical upward growth and smell.

But poop…that is another matter. Poop does not fall up…poop falls down and when it does it plops.  People that are in love with themselves who walk around with their nose in the air are going to step in poop. You can be looking up trying to convince people that you are searching for God when all the while you have poop on your shoes. Poop is down here. God is up there. And when you step in it you might as well admit it because everyone around you can smell it on you. And then you might as well not blame anyone else for having stepped in it because everyone including God knows it was your own fault.

And because poops falls down, if it hits us it assuredly comes from above. There’s a bird up there-he pooped and it hit you. We all understand that. And there is a God up there, and when He has had enough He says that He will allow the same thing to happen.

When asked, “What is human Nature?” Psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck stated it this way, “Human nature is to go to the bathroom in your pants.” And that is what wee immature people do.

For instance…Cain and Abel were the first two children of Adam and Eve. Cain was the oldest and Abel the younger. Genesis chapter 4 (MSG Bible) tells a very sad story of the older man who could not control his human nature and it mastered him

Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” (Cain did not master his serious problem and a loathsome act then takes place)  God said, “What have you done… you’ll be driven from this ground…it will no longer give you its best… Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden.

And there is a real good reason why God does things like that…it is because it’s one of the many promises in the Bible.

And here is a Biblical promise found in the Message Bible in Galatians 5:19-21 plainly stating God’s affirmation…” It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” So when you use your freedom to indulge in any of the stinking accumulation of things as Phil mentions above in Galatians, God knows you smell like poop and God says you will not inherit heaven. Plop.

It simply all comes down to this… by not mastering your sin Phil says you continually pull the handle on the porcelain receptacle until in the end you cause the poop to plop on yourself. How sad…and to others how terribly shtick.


Gary’s Moon Mail pretty much speaks for itself.

Coming up next : “Sin Genome”

For the complete beta version of my book  for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.