Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mary Winkler: the motive

See also: Who was the Virginia gunman & Victoria Lindsay in FL
See also: & blogs on Winkler
December 9th, 2012, update: Mary Winkler says some bad things on the late husband on TV

September 7th, 2012, update: Mary Winkler moves to McMinnville

May 20th, 2011, update: Mary Winkler is currently a free employee of dry cleansers, on a $750k bond, but the parents of Matthew filed a $2m lawsuit.

November 5th, 2011, update: The story was converted to a movie, "The Pastor's Wife". See also an interview with Rose McGowan (who stars as Mary Winkler).

August 4th, 2008: Mary Winkler regains custody of her three daughters!

December 19, 2007 update: Grandparents' appeal rejected, a jury (10 women + men) discusses voluntary manslaughter again, her state of mind is becoming the key.

September 12th, 2007 update: Mary Winkler may get her kids back

August 14th, 2007 update: Mary Winkler is free after 67 days in custody

June 8th, 2007 update: Mary Winkler asks for mercy and indeed, she will only serve 210 days in prison although she was sentenced for 3 years. The message: if your husband annoys you, just shoot him.

April 19th, 2007 update: Jury decides it was voluntary manslaughter (definition), 3-6 years. Mary Winkler showed no emotions when she was convicted.

April 18th, 2007 update: Mary Winkler doesn't really remember picking the gun. He criticized her hair and wanted her to watch porn and have "unnatural" sex afterwards, and kicked her into face, and she just wanted him not to be mean. She didn't pull the trigger but something suddenly went off - boom - and he was dead. Guns sometimes have "unnatural" spontaneous ejaculations, it seems.

April 14th, 2007 update: Experts say that the gun was working well. Mary Winkler was deeply in trouble with the Nigerian scam.

April 12th, 2007 update: Mary Winkler claims that she was abused and the death was an accident - she just wanted attention from Matthew. On Friday 13th, she admitted shooting, claiming it was done by her ugly.

April 9th, 2007 update: Jury selection started. Dan and Diane Winkler filed a \$2 million lawsuit against Mary Winkler, apparently to prevent her from profiteering via book or movie deals.

January 2007 update: Some interviews with family members.

November 2006 update: Mary Winkler argues that the murder was due to constant abuse.

Final news: Mary Winkler told police that she shot Matthew Winkler after a fight. She was fed up with her husband telling her how to eat, how to walk, etc. Especially, there was an argument about family finances that she managed. She deposited \$17,500 into family accounts because she apparently became a victim of scams - Canada and even Nigeria (a famous source of a certain kind of scam) appeared in the testimony. See a reconstruction. Bond was set to \$750,000: she will have to kill about minus 30 more husbands to be able to use it. Surprisingly, she did it.

The following entries are sorted anti-chronologically, and the main, original part of this article is at the bottom. I think that the resolution does not confirm all the details I predicted. It confirm, of course, the primary statement that in non-priest families, this would probably get solved by a divorce.

News: Mary Winkler might have been indicted on Monday 6/12 - indeed, she was indicted - and as predicted, she appeared in court on Wednesday 6/14, pleaded "not guilty" and asked for a bond. The children are happy with the grandparents. Around 6/19, Winkler's attorney has filed 25 motions (everything about this case is unusual), especially trying to hide Winkler's testimony for the police and the evidence from the court because it was obtained "illegally". Meanwhile, some people start to speculate about the death penalty.

Update: Mary Winkler celebrates Mother's Day in prison.

Disclaimer: chances are that you got here because of a search engine. This page does not contain the ultimate answer - although the Tennessee officials already know it and it is something very particular - but you may still learn something. Please don't be evil when you speculate about the motives.

Last Thursday, Mary Winkler who is held without bail was expected to plead not guilty and explain her motive but she has waived the public hearing to simplify the life of her daughters. It is conceivable that Steve Farese - who told us to "expect the unexpected" last Thursday even though nothing happened after all - has advised Winkler to shelve the original explanation and they will eventually claim that the murder occured because of post-birth depression.

The family's computers have been seized to find the answer that 2,000 people a day try to find on this page. And the attorney will even attempt to show that the shooting was an accident! In a newer development on Wednesday 04/05, the attorney has encouraged the speculations about Matthew Winkler's pedophilia when he said that "She may have been protecting someone".

Figure 1: Mary Winkler and defense attorney Steve Farese in Selmer court (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis). Can she get a fair trial?

The Winkler family is described by their neighbors as a perfect family: a precious mother and wife (and a teacher), a superb and charismatic father and husband (and a preacher), and loving, bright, happy children. In fact, it is completely useless to ask neighbors about these issues because unless the motives are obvious, the neighbors will always tell you the same thing, namely that the murderer and her family were perfect. It must be so. It is a physical law.

Why is it a physical law? It is because a murder is an extreme, infrequent act, and it must therefore have extreme reasons. Extreme reasons for a murder fall into two extreme categories: either the murderer and the victim have been involved in some extremely obvious controversial events such as sexual abuse or organized crime, or they have been hiding and suppressing some of their feelings in an extremely tight mental box.

The Church is, much like the Academia, an ideal place that encourages hypocricy - and that often prefers the form over the content. This is why this Hungarian pastor has been less popular than Matthew Winkler. In fact, the Church of Christ also likes to oppress women as the Median Sibling convincingly argues.

Figure 2: Matthew Winkler, a minister

Although many bloggers are ready to invent far-reaching theories about Matthew Winkler, I continue to assume that he was primarily a victim of a murder, and I find it highly inappropriate to accuse victims themselves of crimes without having a good reason. Of course, some people disagree with me and the radical feminists consider Mary Winkler to be their hero. Every husband should hire a personal injury solicitor or a bodyguard.

What was her motive?

That's a question that many people are obviously asking these days. It turns out that the Tennessee officials already know the answer but they can't yet disclose it. Of course, I don't know the answer but one can still speculate. There can be something very concrete behind the murder. For example, Matthew Winkler could have been involved in pedophilia - as Jennifer and many other women believe - or something effectively equivalent that his wife really hated. I find such an explanation rather unlikely. Instead, let me say a few general comments.

I have been exposed to the very same fundamentalist Christian environment for a year or so - because of my former girlfriend - and this experience has brought me, among other things, some striking insights. First of all, those Christians who believe the Bible literally - and the Winklers clearly fall into this category - find certain acts, including pre-marriage sex and divorce, unimaginable. Under these extreme circumstances, a murder can become easier than a divorce.

If you press CTRL/F and search for bcos on this page, you will find a theory that Mary's "bi-polar" psychological problems are behind the murder. The only problem with this theory is that "bi-polar" psychological problems are probably not what could be called "a particular motive" which is what the officials say led to the murder. But it's certainly true that the amount of expectations from pastors' wives and their loneliness is immense.

One thing seems clear to me right now: Mary Winkler did not love her husband in the usual, emotional sense. If she did, she could not have killed him. This fact could have had very ordinary biological reasons. According to the photographs, I wouldn't personally consider them to be a match because the physiques of the partners should be comparable.

  • Update (4/29/2006): In March, I was apparently the only blogger in the world who has pointed out the different physical size as a factor to consider. At the end of April, Farese (the attorney) was mysteriously referring to the culture of "men being physically bigger than women" as a key point of the defense.

The reason behind their marriage could have been something very different from internal love, and I suspect it is the case in many Christian families. You can also speculate about the importance of the miscarriage that Mary Winkler had before their youngest baby was born.

You can also imagine that her husband wanted her to have a fourth child - by mathematical induction, the fourth daughter - but she disagreed but was not in charge of this decision.

Mary Winkler could have found someone else, too. But a divorce is unthinkable for a charismatic, fundamentalist preacher as you know. Such a thing would destroy his career and not only his career. According to the sixth commandment, a murder is unthinkable, too. But unlike the divorce, she at least did not need any permission from her husband.

Did she believe that no one would figure out that she has killed her husband? If she did, she must be a really stupid woman. Many people in Tennessee say that she was very nice. I don't like the word "nice" too much. If you statistically evaluate what the word is used for, it has a large amount of compassion in it. Moreover, the word "nice" also represents a quiet compliance with the values of the environment as well as some degree of confusion about what the person really thinks. If you think for a while, it is not exactly a compliment for someone to be called "nice".

At any rate, Matthew Winkler is gone and in a couple of hours or days, we will learn what is the official explanation of the murder. It seems that the daughters have not yet learned what happened to their father. I guess they can survive it pretty well. A new minister in Tennessee will be hired. They will show him his new parsonage: this is where the guy before you was killed by his "loving" wife. Good luck to everyone!

Rae Ann shares many things with Mary Winkler, yet she is so different. Some lyrics refreshes her meditation about this event. Or do you want to know what Mary Winkler would write if she had a blog? If you're looking for an even more extensive discussion than the discussion in the two comment sections under this article, see the Huff Crime Blog


  1. Hello Lubos,

    I stumbled across your blog and found your posting about Mary Winkler to be quiet interseting.

    Coming from a mother of two ages 4 1/2 amd 5 months everyday life can be quiet challenging. Especially postpartum the first year is difficult for many reasons; lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, and the demand that a new baby brings to the house etc.

    Mary Winkler not only had a new baby and two other young children but she was a pastor's wife (which I am certain brought many commitments into her life. She was a substitute teacher, working on her teaching degree, recently lost a child, and was juggling a marriage. All of these things combined could have just made her snap mentally. Who knows maybe the pressures were just too much.


    P.S. Enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. Lubos,

    I was interested in your thoughts on the Winkler situation. I would consider myself an authority on the churches of christ, in that I have grown up in them. While some of your technical points may be off, I feel you have correctly asserted that fundamentalism or "legalism" is at work here.

    I work as a Marriage and Family Therapist and see this all the time. People are unable to live in their "freedoms of Christ" for fear of God's punishment. In a sense, people put on a face. That is what they are supposed to do. It is probable that one or more of this seemingly "perfect family" was not what they seemed.

    I do hope and pray for healing in this body. This will be a very painful ordeal to heal from.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Andy Williams

  3. Hi, Lubos,

    I agree with your theory about fundamentalist christians - they can be pretty tightly wound.

    However, this week in Chicago, another "conservative, happy, respected church family" suffered death and desctruction, at the hands the father. In this case, he strangled (for 20 minutes), stabbed and drowned his eight-year-old-daughter, after putting his six year old son to bed, while his wife sat downstairs.

    I have a tingling up the back of my neck regarding both of these crimes - I feel it will come out that both fathers were sexually abusing their young daughters.

    I think Mary Winkler discovered it, and shot him dead - as I would, if I learned my husband had abused my daughter. That's about the only thing that would make me angry enough to kill someone.

    In the case of the Lofquist family - I believe the daughter threatened to tell, and Neil Lofquist had to silence her at all costs.

    If these men were viewed as paragons of virture, the last acceptable thing would be for the community to find out how sick they could be.

    The bottome line is, I don't know how either Mary Winkler or Neil Lofquist could do the things they have both confessed to. They are obviously both very ill people, and I pray for their families.

  4. It boils down to is satan's plan to destroy families in these days..if he can destroy families, then he can reign in their lives instead of Jesus. We MUST be grounded in God's word in order to ward off the enemy. Mary has a soul as we all do and I just pray that she will make things right between her and God.

  5. I was raised in the church of christ and remember that I felt I could never live up to the life I heard preached. I remember hearing " only a few would enter the kingdom of heaven"; if you're not baptized in the church and attend the church services you are doomed for hell"; "women are to be submissive and silent in the church", "the only acceptable reason for divorce is adultury". If a person lives that life and has mental health problems it can become overwhelming. I wonder if mental health problems and trying to live the "straight and narrow" became too much.

  6. Yep, got here by search engine. I just posted on the same issue. I'm so jealous that Cyndi Lauper reads your blog!

  7. Dear everyone,

    thanks for your very insightful and sensitive remarks.

    Jennifer: maybe you don't have to be jealous. The fact that Cyndi Lauper reads my blog and I love her song about girls having fun does necessarily imply that I love her. ;-)

    Best wishes

  8. Great thread, very insightful.

    That Shell woman whom states Mary Winkler is her hero has some serious issues, perhaps you could read through her live journal and blog about her socio-pathic tendencies.

    Keep on Blogging in the free world.

  9. I too think the pedophilia motive makes the most sense because the police are saying they can't YET divulge the motive. It's natural that (if his wife/murderer made such an accusation) the police would first want to investigate it before sullying his reputation, since he isn't around to defend himself. If one of the daughters was molested, they'd want to interview her but maybe not before the father is even in the ground! But there are many things it COULD be (terminal illness, etc), so speculation seems pointless.

  10. There's also the possibility that a child accidently shot and so maimed Matthew that he begged Mary to spare his daughter the life-long pain of the knowledge of having killed her father...

    Hastely judging any issue typically leads to unfounded conclusions later difficult to dismiss in the light of truth.

  11. I too am a lifelong member of the churches of Christ. It is unfair to categorically label all members of the COC as uptight fundamentalists, although a great many of them are indeed. Because each congregation is autonomous, the collective dynamic changes from congregation to congregation. Having said that, I've seen first-hand what trying to keep a blatantly false public image intact while denying the realities of life can do, especially to the families of preachers. The mental pressure to achieve perfection is tremendous, precisely because it is impossible. The phenomenon is not confined to the churches of Christ, either; it is found in any religous group that demands perfection from its members.
    Some of the comments have mentioned post-partum depression; I wonder if anyone has considered the possibility that Mary had a schizophrenic break? It's not uncommon among fundamentalists, whether they be church of Christ or Catholic or Mormon or Muslim.

  12. Lubos, perhaps it is because Mary Winkler loved her husband and her family so much that she ultimately killed him. Crimes of passion commonly drive people to hurt the ones they love the most.

    Lots of theories flying around there. As I gay man who was once married to a woman (we were conservative Christian missionaries in Zambia), I can't help but wonder if perhaps Matthew Winkler was sexually attracted to other men. I mean what other issue today is more of a taboo in the conservative Christian church?

    It is an issue that good Christian parents would not want the world to know and one that might even cause a wife to kill her husband.

    Who knows? We may never know the motive(s) and technically, it is none of our business (although like so many stories of good white girls gone wild, many of us are riveted by these stories).

  13. Here we go again with the corrupting of the American Courts by the “Radical Feminist Left”, thank you N.O.W., let’s put out the poison well in advance and convict what appears to be a Loving Father, Husband and a man of the Cloth. First, this woman is a confessed “MURDERER” in the ranks Jeffrey Dahmer, and Andrea Yates. She murdered him PERIOD!! The chorus of FEMINISTS are chiming in to cast doubt again on the Victim, THE DEAD MINISTER. You RADICAL FEMS & FEM supporting Male Lesbians amaze me (not you Lubos), you’re always ready to “HANG” the man regardless and echo support for any “MURDERING woman.” E TU BRUTA seem to have a significant following with a deep anti-Christian bias that is fairly evident on your site. THERE ARE NO GROUNDS FOR MURDER – NONE!! It’s just as easy to pick up a phone and dial FOR HELP, if something is going on, as it is to grab a shotgun and blow someone away. One way is very legal, the other way YOU SHOULD FRY FOR!! Then again every woman in America knows our courts are CORRUPT and massively biased against MEN and massively PRO-women, so all you have to do is play the “FALSE ABUSE SCAM” CARD for a GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE” CARD, so you lying ladies can go murder or torture your next victim..
    By the way E-mail #3 from cyndilauper, no where in any official account has it been stated that Minister Matthew Winkler did anything wrong to his MURDERING wife or his children.. It was stated today 30 Mar 06 that MS MURDERING Wife Mary will undergo a Mental Evaluation, because Lubos may be correct she just HATED HIM and the CHRISTIAN He represented so she shot him twice in the back!! Obviously, many here are trying to shape Public Opinion by posting e-mails which support their particular Feminist Bias, totally void of any real evidence!! Don’t you then become guilty of trying to be the news or a Soothsayer, attempting to garnish support to promote your agenda, and to condemn the dead!!
    WE, the Real Christian Men of GOD, are not taking the garbage from the Effeminated Male-Lesbian Courts, N.O.W, or the Radical Left anymore. Real Christian Men have decided that we fight and die in the Country’s WARs to secure Civil Liberties for everyone, so its about time we stand up for our Civil Rights and the Civil Rights of our Fellow Men (even the dead) and our Sons which are being stolen from us!!
    So let’s stop putting out the garbage first and attempting to convict the dead Minister Matthew Winkler in the Court of Public Opinion long before it ever gets to trial.. We should all know by now what GOD says about BEARING FALSE WITNESS.. Minister Dan Winkler should sue any media outlet or blog site which attempts to smear his Son’s good name without any evidence!! I know I would if it were my Son who was MURDERED in COLD BLOOD BY HIS SUPPOSEDLY LOVING WIFE, and the Radical FEMS tried to turn him into a MONSTER!!
    At least someone at your site will read this, but I’m sure you don’t have the GUTS to post it, too many Male Lesbians in Massachusetts!!

  14. I read something on Greta VanSustern's website written to her by a viewer that has led me to formulate a theory.

    It was written by someone who knew Matthew, and had a number of mutual acquaintances with Mary. They stated that in the last 2-3 years, Mary has had the following befall her:

    * The death of her mother
    * A miscarriage
    * A birth
    * A Lupus diagnosis
    * A move from a place they had lived for five years, where she had held a job, to being an adult college student taking 9 hours
    * And most concerning to me, a diagnosis of bi-polar/manic depressive disorder

    If these things are true, it is my guess that she simply snapped and was not in her right mental state. If in fact she is bi-polar and was being medicated, it is highly likely that her doses were off, which can have devistating effects on one's ability to discern reality from the fictitious things going on in one's head.

    That's what I think happened.

    Also, I believe that she has told them that, but they do not want to say that's what it was until they have had her examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis. They don't want to blurt out, "She did it because she's bi-polar!" and then look like fools if it's determined that she isn't bi-polar after all.

    I don't doubt that there are abuses within families of those in the spotlight within any religious body of any stripe, but to immediately claim to know what went on behind closed doors, good or bad, is improper at this juncture.

    I know that within one year's time I lost a parent, got pregnant, and had a baby, and the friend I'd had at my side for many years moved away. I was left in a town where I didn't have any close female friends, with three small children and all the demands that come with that, and the physical and emotional symptoms of grief. I was hostile and angry and flew off the handle in anger at my family members for no apparent reason. That went on for months on end... perhaps even years. The cloud really didn't lift until our youngest was around four.

    While I never considered murder at all, I did act like a monster behind closed doors, while on the outside, I seemed to be very "together." The house was a mess, but the kids clothes were pressed when we went out the door. I could organize a fabulous party as room mother, but never had the energy or desire to play with my own children once we were home and the blinds were shut.

    Truly, nobody but me knew how frantic I felt inside. Not even my husband. He just thought I was in an eternally bad mood and golfed a lot, probably because it was more pleasant there than here with me.

    Had I been bi-polar and snapped, and murdered him, these same speculations would've been flying about him that are flying about Matthew Winkler. None of them would've been true, though. Not one. He's tremendously dedicated and picked up the slack when I was a mess. He never told anyone what a loser mom I was through that dark time and didn't degrade me by gossipping about me to others. He was here dutifully loading the dishwasher and bathing the kids when I didn't have the mental presence to do it after an exhausting day at home with them.

    Given *my* personal background with some of the big stressors of life, and what can happen when your chemistry gets out of whack, I can't jump to any conclusions about his character, absent any evidence that he did thing one. What a tragedy it would be if a solid man was painted to be something that's the antithesis of his very life.

    I was never diagnosed with anything, as I never went to a physician about my mental health. In retrospect, I believe I had a huge hormonal imbalance that caused a deep depression. But had you seen me walking down the street... you'd never have known.

  15. I think bcos1 hit the nail on the head. Just how many stressors can a person take? Losing your mother,
    having a new baby, moving to a new location, having a miscarriage, a diagnosis of a serious illness, two other young children at home, and last of all that "prince" at home who is seen as "perfect" in the eyes of the congregation is a plate overflowing. No wonder she snapped.
    I too was a minister's wife for 26 years prior to his death. It is a life in a gold fish bowl. Everyone is watching you swim. You are supposed to be perfect. When in reality you are the most lonely woman in the church. There is no with whom to confide because of fear of your confidence being betrayed. Your husband is usually set up on a throne of sorts when in reality he puts on his pants one leg at a time, like all other men.
    Perhaps young men and young ladies who are persuing a life of the cloth should be taught that life not one of white picket fences and flower beds. The rose colored glasses need to be removed so the real world can be seen.

  16. Parson's wife, I'm so sorry you've had that experience. I've not lived in your shoes, so please don't think I'm judging you by what I'm about to say... 'kay?

    We really didn't know Matthew Winkler. At least, I didn't, and I assume you didn't, either. You may be right about him, but I have to think that there are also many completely, wonderfully genuine, warm individuals who are ministers, so just because some of them are bad doesn't mean that I would ever be comfortable presuming he was anything less than he appeared to be until someone who knows him provides evidence to the contrary. His parents are surely distraught enough without speculations that cast a light on him that may very well not be true.

    Also, as one who has never been a minister's wife, but has been a lifelong church-goer, I can honestly say that I don't know that any of us put our minister's wives in a fishbowl. I can say that one particular minister's wife I knew put *herself* in a fishbowl. She was my camp counselor, and I so deeply respected her because of the wisdom she seemed to have and the kindness she exuded. Never in a million years would I have guessed that she was having an affair with her boss.

    When I say she put herself there, what I mean is that had she not *given* the appearance that all was perfect, I'd have presumed she was an "average Jane". Because she taught classes on spirituality gave us all bookmarks with scriptures on them and prayed with us, we saw her as a spiritual leader.

    My own minister's wife (from my childhood) was known to ask others, genuinely, "What do you think about that?" when she wasn't sure about something. Nobody ever said, "OH NO! She doesn't have all the answers and is asking US for them!" Instead, we perceived her as just another Christian like us, with a desire to know, but with the knowledge that nobody has all the answers.

    I can see how it would be a natural thing for some to walk into a church family with the presumption that "They're all looking at me and I have to put on a show so my husband won't look like a hypocrite, preaching something his own family doesn't even live up to." But in my experience, that mindset is *wrong*, and anyone who gives into those fears and allows them to dictate their every move is not living a sincere life. And *that* cannot be blamed on the church members.

    A minister's wife needs to be a strong person, and her weaknesses cannot be attributed to anyone but herself, if in fact she is weak. If she "gives in" to perceived pressures to be perfect, then *she* is the one who gave in. If she simply lives a life without wax and loves them all, genuinely, and that love and respect is reciprocated, fellow Christians will embrace her when she screws up. If she puts on wax and acts as though she is perfect, that will repel the other women in her church and keep them at arm's length, emotionally, thinking she is too perfect to understand their screw-ups.

    The family into which I married is well-known within the church I'm affiliated with. For a week, I felt the "fishbowl" effect. Much like Mary probably felt when people said, "Winkler? Are you related to...??" But after a week, that "celebrity" got old, and I just reverted to being me. Anything less would've been living a waxed life...and that would've been a sin.

  17. Sad!
    I personally knew Matt from High School. I actually lived 4 houses down from him and went to the church where his father was the preacher in Alabama. We were friends but not what I consider close friends. He was always a very nice person and was very genuine. He was bright and excelled in sports and academics.

    I personally think there is a dark secret behind the killing of him by Mary. I find the theory of him molesting the kids to be outragous along with women in the church of christ being oppressed, but there must be something dark to cause a woman of faith her whole life to kill her husband. Maybe I am wrong but I don't think women are treated in such a way that they are unable to be themselves in the church.

    The saddest part of this whole thing to me is the children will not grow up with either their mother or father. This will stay with them for their entire life. No matter how bad it got in that house, Mary should have found another way to release that anger instead of causing eternal harm to her kids.

    Best Wishes!

  18. bcos1, your post was excellent and thank you for it. It may only boil down to her mental state, and why not? She had major stressors being compounded with bi-polar disorder. My husband is bi-polar, so I know how fragile this condition is first hand. I also know another thing first-hand - that being the CHURCH OF CHRIST. I was raised in it, and my father is a life-long minister in the COC. Thank God, I'm finally free of this religion in my life, and I can be pretty bitter about their practices, but the truth remains, SCREWED UP RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ARE NOT AN EXCUSE FOR MURDER. Believe me, I could tell you stories of what my poor mother went through (she is now deceased) at the hands of so-called "Christians" and members of the COC, but I can ALSO tell you that she was loving and kind and gracious - and not TOTALLY mentally stable, but she never even attempted to murder my father. If you want to dismiss this woman's actions because of this screwed up religion, then your thinking is about as flawed as her's was when she pulled the trigger.

    This year, I was fired from my job, tried to start a business (which is very shaky and not off the ground yet), dealt with extreme financial difficulty, had my car re-possessed, filed bankruptcy, and my mother died ALL IN THE SPACE OF 10 MONTHS. On top of that, my husband is bi-polar and not on his meds, and I WAS RAISED IN THE FREAKY CHURCH OF CHRIST, and my family has doomed me to hell because I've stopped going there (oh well...) and I haven't killed anyone....yet ;) but my point is this: LIFE is stressful. Life throws a heck of a lot at you sometimes. This woman had a lot thrown at her all at once. It wasn't any ONE thing, it was the WHOLE equation, and that's why I think you'll find that she snapped. As far as the molestation scenario, let's give the poor dead guy a break until we know for sure....jeeezzz....

  19. Lynn, ironically, I was also raised in the coC, and that is where I currently attend. I didn't truly appreciate the term "non-denominational" until I grew up and moved away from home, and at this juncture, I "get it." The coC we attend now is nothing like the one I grew up in. It wasn't an all-bad place. I don't want to give that impression. But it was terribly legalistic. Women weren't mousey little submissive things by any means, but the "company line" might lead some to believe that they were supposed to be. The main things the church I grew up in rallied around as salvation points were the ultra-conservative positions on alcohol and dancing and whether you'd go to hell if you missed a Wednesday night for basketball practice.

    That said, I can tell you that I have had an entirely, completely different experience in the coC I've attended as an adult in another state (five hours from where I grew up). While it's not perfect (because, of course, there are PEOPLE involved - lol) I can say without a doubt that my brothers and sisters in Christ are open-minded and far more concerned about whether God has condemned something or not than they are concerned with interpreting minutia to the point of making laws that God did not make.

    Oddly, I really do appreciate the religion of my youth. I truly believe God allows us to learn lessons along the way and that sometimes the experiences that seem the most negative are there to teach us something and make us stronger. I know that sounds like a cliche', and I hate that because it trivializes the empowerment when you realize you've *grown*. I would never have known how good things can be if I had had "good" as my norm. The foundation I received in my childhood was likely not that which my church thought they were indoctrinating me with. I was always one to question at the next level and I appreciate that God exposed me to many individuals who *couldn't* do that. It helped me deeply appreciate finding people who *do* care to look at the forest and not just the trees.

    I'm terribly, terribly sorry that you didn't get to experience a church body that was warm and accepting and sincerely devoted to their faith and not just their doctrine. Please know that they're out there. Many, many buildings with coC on the outside are full of tremendously sincere people who aren't like those you knew firsthand. I don't doubt your story at all, because I lived it, too (not your specific problems, but the church culture that was elitist and legalistic)...but because of the autonomy inherant in our non-denominational status, no other churches are "bound" to being as narrow-minded as the one I was raised in.

    And that's a blessing.

    Lynn, I sincerely hope things start looking up for you. For cryin' out loud... that's a lot of stuff to deal with! I lost my father and had a baby in the span of about 10 months, and my best friend moved away (which meant I was no longer exercising besides being without anyone to vent to or go anywhere with), and it was an earthshatteringly dark period for me. I've always been confident and self-assured, but for a span of 3-4 years, I was probably suffering from depression and didn't know it. A friend recommended I try a product that I thought sounded goofy, and I only tried it so I could see how much it *didn't* work... and amazingly, it was as though within a week it kicked something - some hormone, I suppose - back into production, and it was like the cloud lifted immediately and I could see straight. I didn't use it for long - it was as though just kicking it in put me back on the path to having a normally-functioning body / brain chemical balance. But prior to that... I was frantic inside far more than I was at peace. My husband was very helpful around the house, but clueless as to what I was up against and just thought I was crabby because I dealt with three little kids all day... and in fact, I myself was in such a dark place I didn't even know I needed to get help.

    Anyway... just wanted to let you know that I sincerely hope things look up for you from here on out. May 2006 be better than it's been to you so far!

  20. I think bcos1 is right on. People can change drastically under the pressures of stress and life changes, especially when you factor in issues like guilt and the "fishbowl". Being under public scrutiny all the time has got to put a lot of pressure on to be a perfect person—pressure that makes you work hard yet you don’t feel you ever achieve all that you want. It makes you doubt yourself, yet you don’t want to be a liability to anyone by asking for help. It makes you take on increasingly more, but you’re not satisfied.

    Years ago I went through a period of depression which made me realize how fragile human body chemistry is and how thin is the line between a healthy, rational person and a frustrated and irrational one. I don’t think depression is ever an excuse, especially not for murder, but it does explain how desperate a person can feel. It makes you feel like a completely different person, unable to enjoy any of the activities or friendships you’re used to, yet you remember exactly the way it used to be. It makes you feel helpless because you don’t think you will ever get back to that way of life. And it makes you feel like there is absolutely no hope for change.

    I think it makes perfect sense that Mary could have the most loving, caring husband in the world but feel like everyone was against her. I don’t think there is a dark secret, unless it’s Mary’s dark thoughts and desperation about herself. She married young. She had three young children. Possibly she felt the pressure to be a “dutiful” wife, so she did not question her husband and was not being honest with herself. She probably faced a huge amount of stress with all the life changes mentioned and the pressure of being in the spotlight. Maybe the dark secret is that she really hated and blamed herself but she turned the blame and hate on her husband instead of herself. If that’s the case, it’s a shame that she couldn’t see herself the way those around her seemed to see her: an individual who was deeply valued, loved and cared for.

    But all speculation aside, I think that a crime like this usually indicates a cry for help, a person that desperately needs help. Because of guilt or fear of public speculation or whatever, they feel there is no way to get help and no way out. The church is a place of people with mixed morals like any place on earth, but I think the most tragic part of the story is that Mary isolated herself from the genuinely loving and caring people that must have been there and chose a path that is sure to bring sorrow not just to her, but to her children and all those who care about her.

  21. bcos1,

    Thanks for your kind words. I am undaunted by all which has happened, and I go forward - ALWAYS. Life throws you curves, but you just go around them and find your way again. My dear mother instilled a lot in me, and one thing was that confidence and tenacity which comes from within. I know she had that, because her life as a minister's life, and her life with my Dad in general, was a difficult one, but one she lived to the best of her ability. I don't completely disparage my upbringing or the religion of my youth, but I find that it's too confining for me now. I'm happy that you've found a COC which fits your view of things better, but in general, I find them all to be too exclusive and legalistic. The COC is not for me anymore, and I consider myself a very spiritual person...but the COC sucked the very spiritual life out of me, and until I backed away from it, I didn't know how hard inside I had become.

    I don't know these people, however my father is very familiar with the Winkler family and their published writings. He has followed the writings of the grandfather and the father of Matthew Winkler for many years. The family has a good reputation in the "brotherhood". Until we find out differently, there is no need to poke holes in their good reputation. I would hope that people would respect that, until the time comes that we learn differently. If, indeed, there was some sort of abuse going on, we'll find out soon enough, but until then, don't drag this family and this dead man through the mud.

    One thing we MUST address in this country is the tender subject of mental illness, depression, and mental disorders. We've come a long way, but we look at mental illness as something to hide or be ashamed of, when many times (and if Mary is bi-polar, this is true of her) the disease is a chemical deficiency in the body, just like diabetes, or many other illnesses which can be treated with medication. People are ashamed and not aware of their deep depression - they just know they have to move on and perform to everyone's expectations in the face of severe mental strain. We need to take a different view, and try to educate people on depression and mental disorders so they can feel free to get the help they need. People's lives may depend on it. As for myself, I take an antidepressant faithfully, it is my lifesaver, and I'm not ashamed of it. I think that if we find out that she snapped under some sort of mental disorder/severe stressors, it should be a wake up call that depression is a reality, it need not go untreated, and people need to educate themselves on the symptoms and the treatment. That may just be the big lesson here.

  22. Hello, your article was interesting. I grew up and am currenting a preachers wife in the church of christ. We do take the Bible literally. We take the words of Jesus to heart and try to live every day for him. But we also believe in compasion and grace. Mary Winkler did the unthinkable. If there was something about Mr. Winkle that was unbearable, a rational person would have left him for the protection of their children, and go through the legal system in order to be able to keep raising their children. Mary Winkler could not have been rational. I think a mental disorder of some kind will come out. I am a proud stay at home mom, trying to raise my two children to be the best people they can be. I am also a pastor's wife and am very supportive of my husband. When I get down or overwhelmed I deal with it, like everyother person who goes through stress. Stress is a part of life that we learn to deal with through non-violent means. I think the better response, is that people need to stop doing more then they can handle. Children, work, husband, house, dinners...cut out some of the stresses that are not important and focus on those things that are. My house is not always perfect, we don't always eat well planned out meals, we aren't the richest people, but we are happy and stable. In the end, I hope the three girls will be strong and have relationship with God to carry them throughout their lives. Thank you for listening to me, Jessica

  23. Please see , Down This Morning

  24. Excerpt: The body of Christ is finally learning to live in freedom and not legalism...I don't know too much about the CoC but I have pentecostal holiness in my family was very legalistic. I thank God for bringing me out of that and into His freedom. Mental illness is from the enemy and I believe it is an evil spirit. Yes, some of you will think I am just a radical right wing Christian....well guess what? I am! And proud of it. If we don't get our country's morals back to the basics of what Christ lived for, we are doomed.

  25. I am not going to crucify Matt Winkler because he was shot in the back by his wife. She shot him TWICE and it's obvious she hated the man. When I was Mary's age I also had three children and they were closer in age, also. I also moved from the Midwest to the South and I knew exactly how hard it was going to be for me. She wanted her husband out of her life and if you read the comments of her church friend, Mary entered the jail visitation room smiling and was resigned to the fact she wouldn't raise her daughters. She had said goodbye to her husband long before she shot him. What do you call any woman who murders her husband? A killer, that's what. She wanted out of the family game, it's as simple as that. When Mary enters court her head is down and her attitude is shouting, "I'm a bad girl." Yes, Mary, you are a bad girl. Mary needs to be kept off the streets so the rest of us can be safe.


  26. Mary Winkler is on trial for murder. But it looks like its the COC that is on trial. Legalistic? Some may be, just as some are murderers. But for the vast majority we are just trying to imitate Christ and his teaching in our lives. Charsmatic - no, we are not. Our services are very calm and reverent. Fundamentalist - not sure what is ment by that. If its ment that we adhere to the bible with out the use of any other book or books, then I guess we are.

    I would like to encourage each of you to visit a Church of Christ service and see for you selves.

    Do we have hypocrites in the Church, yes we do. Hypocrits are couterfitters. Counterfitters only counterfit something of Value. The Church of Christ is of value so no wonder we have hypocrits in it. I'd rather worship with some hypocrits on Sunday than be in hell with all of them.


  27. Concerning the two-faced ministry:

    It's hypocrisy, it's sin, it's hurting your Church. That facade does your friends no good. If someone said, "How're you?" and you replied, "Not well;" and that person reacted calously, then it is that person that is wrong, because that reaction is sin. Fear the Lord: don't let anyone intimidate you into sin.

    People will not seem to realize you're human for as long as you keep putting on the facade. It is you that needs to change. The Lord gives many gifts: some people can see right through you.

    People will seem to think you're above them for as long as you act like you are. Being in the ministry because it's in the family is a mistake. Pride destroys. Whether you're a minister, minister's wife or whatever you are, there is no excuse for sin. Repent, and you'll be forgiven, for as long as you forgive others. If you have no faith in the very things you preach, then it is doing you no good. Unless your heart is right, it is not God that you serve. Don't point the finger. If X blames Y, X sins. If Y blames X, Y sins. If you are too busy to obtain Wisdom, you have chosen the wrong path.

    Why did Mary Winkler kill her husband? For the same reason that Cain killed Able: The Lord tested Cain, and Cain failed. I hope the court will be able to have as much mercy on her as God had on Cain.

  28. Hi Lubos

    I'm sorry but I find your willingness to generalize about "fundamentalist" Christians unfortunate. Whatever proves to be true about Mary Winkler, it does no good to just reinforce stereotypes - even if they fit your former girlfriend's milleau.

    You suspect that many Christians marry for other reasons than love? Hello? What breadth of experience do you bring to this? What statistics? How nice. "Christians don't have normal emotional responses to life, you know."

    Clearly the details of the Winkler household will be somehow warped, when they emerge. Let me assure you that it won't reduce to the lesson that believing literally in the Bible leads to (or derives from) emotional instability.

    I have been in the evangelical Christian church my whole life. There are some narrow people. And some that are wound tight. And, guess what, some that are laid back jokers. Some pastor's wives are lonely and feel isolated. Some thrive, have vibrant ministries, and are popular. Every kind of thing that can be true of secular families will occur in some proportion in conservative Christian families. Though it grieves us, sometimes people get divorced.

    So aim your insights at whatever information you have about Mary Winkler, but avoid tarring one quarter of America.


    First of all, those Christians who believe the Bible literally - and the Winklers clearly fall into this category - find certain acts, including pre-marriage sex and divorce, unimaginable. Under these extreme circumstances, a murder can become easier than a divorce.

  29. When you invest a lot of money in a machine, the first thing you do is read the manuel that comes with it. After all the ones who made the machine know best how for you to treat it so that it will do the most good for you. So it is with man. The Bible is the instruction book that God wrote for the race of people he created. How could anyone think that doing his will would endanger us to some terrible sin.

    Jonas, by what authority do you say that we as chritians would rather murder than divorce? Where did you come by such warped infomation. You have not only offended every Christian in the world, you have offended God also.

    Since I am a rice farmer my next dissertation will be on brain surgery. I know about as much about that as some writers know about Christianity.


  30. Just figured it all out:

    Mary was having an affair. That's how the police found her in the first place. That's why they say the motive is specific, and also why they are charging her with premeditated murder.

    She was even pregnant:

    "I deserve to be kicked in the stomach." ~ Winkler to Killingsworth (People)

    And that's all. That's the motive. *yawn* Do you see why they didn't release the information? Just another scam to get people involved and capture the world's attention.

  31. Maybe she thought he was a rabbit.

  32. This has nothing to do with Mary. But I am a firm believer in not having a gun in the house. Statistics show that it is usually used on a family member. In the book, emotional intelligence, the author states that our brain can hi-jack us for 5-10 minutes and we would do something we thought we never could do. That is the average person. If Mary had post-partum depression or bi-polar illness, more of a chance for the brain to get hi-jack in a fit of emotional distress.

  33. Hello Lubos,

    It seems as if you want to blame "fundamental Christianity" for this incident (which you do in a round-a-bout way) but that's a pretty poor rationalization to make if you'd considered the facts....

    You see, the very reason that this particular murder is making headlines is because of it's very rare nature. Such a shocking and terrible act is extremely remote among God's people. I don't ever recall hearing something like this about the coC. So if the coC is so hideous, why is there such incredible infrequency reguarding events such as this?

    An outrageous number of people are victims of crimes in this nation every day, even murder. Chicago recently made headlines as it celebrated that the city went AN ENTIRE DAY WITHOUT A MURDER for the first time in several years!

    finally there is this wicked act in the coC. Does that not show how much wonderful it is to be a member of the body of Christ than a memeber of the general, wicked world? Some people have a thought-process along the lines of, "well, Judas Iscariot followed Christ and look at what HE did!!!". Rational? Hardly.

    Let me put it to you this way---
    seatbelts are statiscally proven to save lives. Over and over again we read of accounts where people are saved by seatbelts. But every once in a "blue moon", we hear of an incident that a seatbelt actually CONTRIBUTED to someone's death. So some may erroneously conclude that one shouldn't use seatbelts based upon this exception.

    The tone of your blog suggests that your speculations about Mary Winkler and the coC are wishful thinking. If that's not how you feel, then you need to revise your seemingly accusatory writings.

  34. wierd. why are we presuming anything until we hear the truth? once again, there is a clear split between the left and right. the left, greedily lapping up any explanation that would incriminate the victim (because of course a fundamental christian has some dark evil secret), and the right, screaming indignantly that the church is not oppressive! no!


    some churches are oppressive. do not gasp in horror -- some are. some are harsh legalists and that preach fear and uncertainty to its members. does that make all churches bad? no. does that make all christians ridid and unbending and unrealistic? no.

    *as a sidenote, being a pastors wife or pastor's kid IS very stressful, and yes, it is very much like living in a fishbowl. don't say it is not, unless you have lived the live yourself*

    everyone gossips about the pastor's kid or wife when they mess up, and ignore the crap their own kids/spouses pull. its tiresome.

    however, none of this is an excuse for murder; HOWEVER some people snap under immense pressure.

    perhaps, instead of sitting here and cackling like old hens about the motive, maybe we can learn a lesson:

    instead of assuming that someone is perfect and has the perfect life and perfect husband, do this:

    assume they are human, and that they might need a hand. make sure you support your pastor and his wife and reach out. if you don't go to church, reach out to your neighbors and community. the perfect housewife next door that you secretly make fun of for ironing her napkins may be utterly miserable and in need of friends. so reach out -- see how you can help them.

    this might perhaps be shocking to read for someone from a legalistic background who assumes they themselves are pefect and live with the unrealistic fantasy that as long as they follow all the rules and put on the right image, they will go to Heaven.

    the fact is (for those who belive in the Bible) -- every one is a sinner. i'm not saying that you're all going to hell, i'm saying that in God's eyes, you're no better than this woman. in God's eyes, no sin is worse than the other. so, yes, hypocrasy is just as evil as murder. so is false accusation, being judgemental, hating someone, fighting, etc.

    so, in the words of Jesus himself, "ye who are without sin, cast the first stone".


    Any takers? I think not.

    according the the Bible, it is FAITH, and faith alone that redeems us. no matter how good we are, we are not perfect.

  35. Sad, this whole story is sad. I too was raised in the Church of Christ. My father is a minister of the Church of Christ. I even graduated from the Church of Christ college where the Winklers went. I have had many trials in my life where I had to totally lean on Christ because people, members of the Church, were not there for me. They will answer for that. Those of you who have left The Church because of all of the excuses you have found, have only made Satan smile. Yes, the Bible actually says "few there be that find it." I know that there are many in the Church that will NOT get into heaven because of their behavior. I also know that those of you who leave The Truth will get to spend eternity with the very ones you left the Church to get away from. Good Luck with that! I personally read and study my own Bible, obey the Words of God to the very best of my ability, and know that when I have to stand before God and give an answer for everything I have done in this body, I will be able to do so, without regrets. All of you who are reading these blogs will give an answer on that same day. Every knee shall bow and every mouth will confess, I just pray that you will read the Word and follow the instructions of Your Creator and not let the pettiness of others cause you to lose your soul. I am a 24/7 caregiver without help from my fellow Christians, they will answer for that. I will continue to worship My Lord the way He instructed me to and in the end I will win the Crown of Life I have earned. Romans 16:16

  36. Just like probably most here, I found this blog while seeing if there was any news about this case.

    I wanted to clarify that the Church of Christ is not a charismatic church. Matthew Winkler was a "charismatic preacher" - meaning that he PERSONALLY had a lot of "charisma". Sort of like saying Bill Clinton was a "charismatic president" - it describes his personality, not his religion;)

    To sum up the Church of Christ, it is a non-denominational church that patterns itself after the church set up by Christ's apostles in the 1st century. In other words, it is simple - without all the "bells and whistles". Thus the reason that instrumental music is not *usually* a part of the service. NOT because the church has issues with instruments, but because it's not necessary for worship. Communion is taken on Sunday because Christ said to do it on the first day of the week. We are dunked completely under water when baptized because that's how Jesus was baptized, and because the original Greek that referred to baptizm is a word that means "immersion" (the same word one would have used to describe the dying of garments - the cloth is immersed in the dye, not sprinkled with the dye)

    Charismatic churches tend to believe in things like faith healing, speaking in tongues, etc. You will not find these particular beliefs in a traditional Church of Christ, as we believe the "gifts" are no longer necessary, and were given by God for a specific purpose to specific people to fulfill the purpose (such as the gift of speaking in tongues being the miracle of being able to speak a real language fluently, without having to take a couple years to study it, so that the apostles could go into a foreign land to spread the gospel of Christ and EVERYONE there would understand what they said).

    When I read the news article that referred to Matthew Winkler as a "charismatic preacher", I did a double take, as the Church of Christ is "fundamental", but about as far from "charismatic" as it can be.

    After re-reading the article, I concluded that the writer simply meant Mr. Winkler had a LOT of personality (or did not do his research, though, as a writer, I prefer to assume the former).

    As for women being submissive and oppressed in the Church of Christ - hardly. I'm a woman and a member and have never felt oppressed because of my gender (and most of the preachers' wives that I know are very much individuals with minds of their own).

    To wrap it up, it's sad when the church is pulled into the spotlight like this, especially when writers are not careful in their wording. What we have here is a problem between a husband and a wife, that has nothing to do with the church itself.

    Like everyone, I've tried to come up with a motive. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to do more than speculate until police officials - or Mary herself - decides to give it to us.

  37. What if Mary knew something very damning about her husband and she chose this route and now she doesn't want to tell the truth to the police so her children will never know the failings of their father. ????????

    Actually I think there is mental illness going on in this case. There could be some abuse but definitely mental illness.

    I pray for the children and the family left behind.

  38. Lubos...great blog! This case is very perplexing but also, in my estimation, a lot clearer than most people think. We know that she was the member of the COC and married to not JUST A minister, but a FAMOUS ONE to boot (his father and Grandfather having written tomes etc); she grew up in the same religion with lots of paternal pressure, her mother died recently (how long was she sick and dying before this???), she just moved, she just got thrown head on into the preacher's wife situation....her first time doing this ever as last job was youth pastor...., she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (more on that later), lupus (more on that as well), and had recently had a baby as well as a miscarriage previously to that.

    Bottom line...the woman had a stress score thru the roof!

    Usually two or three life altering events in one year put you at high risk for stress induced illness, as well as psychological sequlea..

    She had at least SIX! And I don't think I even mentioned the fact of being a stay at home mom to two other small children besides a baby, working outside of the home, and also working on degree~~~!!!!

    back to the lupus...this is a systemic disease that can usually require a lot of sterroids being taken....not sure what her deal or treatment plan or even the stage of her disease was. Lupus can KILL YOU FOLKS. If she was on prednisone or other sterroids it can cause psychosis and other side effects including emotional lability (one minute hyper happy and the next so depressed you cannot move)...

    than you have bipolar disorder.... when was this diagnosed and under what circumstance? some people can be slapped with this DX when they actually have one of the other dysthymias.......

    My husband has cyclothymia....a slow cycling bipolar disorder...he stays more in depression than is treated mostly for the depressed aspects.

    My long did she have this....what precipitated going to the doctor about it (was hubby for it? ) and was she taking meds? If so...what? Some of the SSRIs can have nasty side effects that include dellusions....

    I guess my point in posting some of these questions are to get people thinking. I have worked in intensive care for over 14 years and seen a LOT of things. I have heard a lot of stories. However, it is not the case that people all of the sudden snap. I bet you the bank she was not psychotic. I would bet you the bank that some of the above factors including the fact that all the above stress had stretched her usual available coping far....that she couldn't use them to help her get out of her destructive pattern of thinking. Maybe she pled to 1st degree because she is an honest Christian woman and had entertained shooting him before but just as an evil little thought......and it made her feel guilty.......

    either way..............this woman was a train wreck waiting to happen. And I also agree with several others on this blog that let's give Matt a break. Most likely the only thing he did wrong was not seeing that his wife was about to be tipped over from her stress and his not seeing it made it even worse for Mary. My own husband is a commander or many soldiers and in that way I am like a preacher's wife. If he doesn't know I am stretched thin and stressed it is because I didn't tell him. He cannot stop to look at me long enough himself half the time. However, it is something we both know. I think she took it on her own and didn't let him know...and when he was so busy and didn't notice.....she hated him for it..............

    either way or whatever way...this all is sad for all involved.

  39. Hi I'm from the Selmer area.. They are super-nice folks. and there are people out there like Ballin who will hopefully get her out. Like you said it is postpartum. and also the people that are Church of Christ don't need to get there belifs trampled.. It's not there fault. and the folks at 4th st. church of christ in town dont deserve the put down

  40. I hate to diverge about religion, but here goes....

    Christ never said to take communion on the first day of the week. He himself was actually celebrating the Passover, which I believe was celebrated annually. Didn't he say that as oft as you do this do it in remembrance of him? (Once a year, right?)

    Also, the first century church probably still worshipped in the synagogue. They still identified themselves as Jews. (For more info, read Our Father Abraham, Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith).

    Anyway, there is grace and freedom and overall God wants our heart.

    Church of Christ churches are not non-denominational. If you go to a CoC, you are looking for common forms of worship (no music, communion every Sunday, etc.). There are common denominators in each "church," therefore CoC is a denomination.

  41. nt first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles... and Gentiles would never have worshiped in a synagogue.

    In regards to communion, are you implying that an annual partaking would be more in keeping with scripture? That is not what I see in scripture. It's true that there is no direct command to partake weekly or even to partake on Sunday. The Greeks noted towards the end of Acts seem to partake on Sundays, especially... but the Jewish Christians in the beginning of the book appear to have met and broken bread together on a daily basis. They thought Christ's return was imminent and were always together, watching and partaking.

    Finally, in regards to the coC being a denomination, I understand what you're saying, but do not believe those things make us a denom. If you look up the term, it means:

    A large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.

    While there are similarities amongst coC's (and btw, ALL coC's have music. They don't have instruments, but I wholeheartedly refute that there is no music), few are true across the board. In northern states, it's not at all uncommon to find instrumental coC's. In other regions, you'd only see acapella. You'll never find a head office or an administrative body governing the coC's. Each is self-governed.

    While there certainly are commonalities, we don't fit the definition of “denominational.”

  42. Hi, I have read a lot of comments here about "fundamentalists christians", "christians" and living a fishbowl trying to be perfect. I was a perfectionist and a christian which led to legalism. I am no longer in that trap. I wanted to tell those of you who may still be hurting from church abuse to read to two books. One is "Faith that Hurts, Faith that Heals" by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton and "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. They really helped me. You can get them at Amazon new or used.

  43. Interesting analysis Lubos.

    Maybe someone has said this already...

    But women can be pretty self-righteous about the problems they bear.

    From what I have learned about the case; it seems she had no obvious reason to murder him.

    Financial problems; miscarriages, family deaths…
    These things happen to people--life is not perfect; so no one should be excused for committing murder because they were stressed.

    I am a woman. I get horrible PMS. I have been abused, have social anxiety disorder, add, and depression. I have had death in my family and been so broke I had to beg on the street at on point in my life.

    Never in my life did I consider murdering someone.

    This isn't about Christian repression, abuse, or finance... this is about the evil that was within Mary.

    If a man was to do this, we wouldn't be trying to make excuses for him... we'd be calling out to hang him.

    I am not suggesting we hang Mary--capital punishment is murder also--I am saying that there is a significant bias because she is a white women and Fundamentalist Christian; people for some reason assume she must have some good reason to commit murder.

    I have this bias also. I thought, “he must of beat her or something.” I was expecting to read about the horrible torment this man brought upon her….

    As it turned out she was another up-tight middle-class suburban white lady who had to live life.

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. Hi, I am a pentecostal born and raised, while in the meantime I have a COC friend, who is very "straight-lined" and has his personal beliefs covered by religious blinders. I understand that Mrs. Winkler may have had a rough life, however, this is no excuse for murder, we have a legal system, no matter how much it has served us or failed us in the past. Bi Polar disorder is an excuse for most, but a problem for some, people that have this "disorder" know how to deal with it on a daily basis, and how to keep it from controlling their lives. People, by law what Mary did was wrong, no matter the circumstances if any, she not only broke a law, but broke a commandment, a trust with her family and friends, and her own childrens hearts (WORST OF ALL). I find my friends views very one sided, about how his family must be, how his children and wife must act, yes, it could be hard on a woman, or children, but she chose to have this life, simply stated. If Mary did not want to be in this relationship or follow these religious beliefs, she could have sought help, and just simply left, without the permanent damage of murder. I could be one sided myself, but this is what I get for living in a country that offers "free speach". Have a nice day everyone and be safe.

  46. What part of "thou shalt not kill" is not understandable? Did He allow for actual or imagined tresspasses to justify the act?

    Whatever did or didn't happen, the house a front door and a back door.

  47. Hi....
    I have read the blog and the comments posted.
    Maybe something I can say will put somewhat of an insight to this whole thing.
    I am a former pastor's wife. I lived the life of Mary. In public he was the paragon of faith and righteousness. He preached of the sins of financial problems, pornography, affairs, ets. His parishioners looked up to him. His family looked up to him. My family looked up to him. Everyone except for me. Because you see, we never really know what goes on behind closed doors.
    He wanted me to watch porn. To dress up for him for sex. To have a 3-some. To do things that is not in a normal christian marriage. He berated me and our children. He hit me. He threw things at me. He never paid the bills. He kept me at home and sensored who I spoke with. Then on Wednesday evenings and Sundays, I had to dress in the modest, preachers wife's clothing. I had to put on that meek and mild mannered preacher's wife's persona. I had to sit on the 2nd pew in church and look up adoringly at him while he preached. I had to stand at the back of the church with his arm around me, while the parishioners shook hands and told him what a great sermon and what a great man of God he was.
    Do you know how that makes someone feel? Do you know how it is to KNOW that this man is so far from being the man people think he is? If you have never lived in those shoes then how dare you sit there behind your computers and bash her or what she did. I did not kill him. I wanted to MANY times but never did. It took me 20 years to get out of that marriage. My kids have suffered from it. They both refuse to set foot into an organized religion building. I have a hard time looking at a church. What happened to her and many others of us, is a terrible thing and it does make you have mental problems.
    Do I condone her killing him? No I don't. But I don't think she saw any other way out of this for her or her children. I do think she loved him. However, love was not enough to balance out all the bad she knew.
    Maybe this might help maybe it might not. But I have lived her life. I know how hard it is. I don't think she should serve any time at all.

  48. I think all of you are insane. The complete inability to witness an unjustified, horrific murder of the first degree (which is what Mary Winkler should have been charged with) when looking at this situation only shows the depth to which this new way of thinking (i.e., women’s liberation, feminism) has taken the minds of American women. Any ideology that misconstrues a premeditative murderer into a helpless victim is itself the problem. Along with Mary Winkler, the entire ideology and movement that brought such morally depraved thinking onto this planet should be on trial. And as far as the issues of control, abuse, and oppression are concerned (that keep coming up in every discussion I hear about this crime), these are just the “buzz words” for the rejection of authority, the rejection of personal responsibility and accountability, and a license to engage in any amoral and socially destructive behavior that appeals to the whims of liberated minds! There, I’ve said it–what other men should be saying if the weren’t too whipped to say it. And while we are on the subject, the need for male control is nothing so horrible as you liberationists make it out to be. Leadership is one of the most honorable and morally sublime characteristics of human relationships. For men to be leaders of women and children should be something for women to be proud of, if men are the good leaders they can be and have been throughout human history. Yes, history books are rift with accounts of the failures of men to provide good leadership. So, if a woman, or a church, or a country can find good leadership from a man (and there is no reason to believe that Mr. Winkler provided anything significantly less than good leadership as a pastor, father, and husband) then let the world celebrate his achievements, mourn his death, and despise the deviant criminals (both the one who pulled the trigger and the ones who provided the ideological gun) who took him from his parents, his daughters, and his parishioners.

  49. I have thought about the "Why?" for years now. I knew them both. Matthew was a fun and loving father... but he also stuck to consequences regarding disciple. Mary was nice, yes. Quiet... in large groups, yes. She was very opinionated. She also had a short temper. When they were little, I have seen her on several occasions jerk one of the girls up to remove them when they we not being quiet or something. But this raised no red flags. How many times have one of us snatched up our children when they were out of hand or cranky? But in hindsight... we wonder. We have witnessed an occasion when Mary had a "temper tantrum" in front of some of the youth kids b/c Matthew brought a group back to their house for a devo and movie night. It is still unclear why, and yes, it was strange and awkward... but we raised and eyebrow and that was it. But these scenarios were years ago and out of context. But I have to ask, if she was really so afraid of him, would she have yelled at him and made a scene because she didn't want youth kids in her home that night? Would she so easily get angry with him in public... as we have seen in the past... and as we have been guilty of with our own spouse on occasion? So, the Mary that was "shy" and "quiet" was not the only side many of us knew. So, why was this not brought up in court? Why were the only character witnesses those regarding Matthew's character... to support the claim of an abused wife? It is still very hard to wrap my brain around this. I don't know what happened and why any more than you do... but why did it seem like Matthew was on trial instead of Mary? Oh, and BTW - that wig and shoes... there exists a photo of Mary dressed in that for Halloween... it was not allowed as evidence... why?