MONDAY, MARCH 24 This week of crappy pastors, fatal baptisms, and rats so huge they make the news kicks off with a day of stories starring BASE jumpers, those intrepid thrill-seekers who live to parachute off fixed structures and occasionally die while doing so. Story number one comes from New York City, where today four men accused of parachuting off the still-under-construction "world's tallest skyscraper" being built at One World Trade Center turned themselves in to NYC police on charges of burglary and reckless endangerment. None of them died. Not so lucky: the Utah BASE jumper whose intrepid corpse was found in Zion National Park, where its former owner had attempted to parachute from a peak but fell to his death. "The body, which was spotted by a helicopter crew, was in steep, difficult terrain," reports Reuters. "It could take several days to retrieve it."
TUESDAY, MARCH 25 In stupider news, the week continues with the Seattle-based megachurch Mars Hill, whose official spokespastor, Mark Driscoll, has been suffering through some well-deserved blowback to a year of grosser-than-normal misdeeds. At the center of the drama is Driscoll's latest book, Real Marriage, which drew accusations of plagiarism before Driscoll was forced to apologize for using Mars Hill funds to help finance a ploy to get the book on the New York Times bestseller list. "Driscoll has already done a mea culpa of sorts. The pastor-founder sent out a letter, earlier this month, promising to 'reset [his] life,'" writes Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly in a column today. "But 20 former pastors at the church have requested that Driscoll enter into mediation aimed at repentance and reconciliation." Among the disgruntled: Kyle Firstenberg, former executive pastor of Mars Hill Orange County, who yesterday specified his guilty grievances in a blog post: "I participated in the cult of fear and promoted it through my actions with others... I wrongfully believed the lie that Jesus is not working in any other church and that He is only working at Mars Hill." Firstenberg's words followed a similar missive from former Mars Hill member Luke Abrams, who last week took to the website Patheos to urge Mars Hill members to reduce their tithing, volunteer work, and attendance at the troubled church. "I personally believe Mark and the exec elders will only respond and repent when their scorecard turns red," wrote Abrams. "Empty chairs will send a loud message to the leadership... You can simply stop or reduce tithing while still participating in any other way you see fit." Godspeed, Mars Hill apostates.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 Meanwhile in Sweden, a family is attempting to recover from the life-ruining horror of finding a gigantic monster rat living in their kitchen. "The Bengtsson-Korsås family first noticed something was wrong when their cat Enok refused to enter the kitchen in their flat in Solna, north-west Stockholm," reports the Daily Mail, identifying the source of the cat's fear as the aforementioned gigantic monster rat. "The rat measured 15 inches, without its tail, and had made it into the family's flat by gnawing a tunnel between a wooden panel and concrete... Despite attempts from Mrs Bengtsson-Korsås and her two children to scare the rodent, the 'Viking rat' only grew bolder and eventually dared to venture out on the kitchen floor." Then came the exterminators, the industrial-sized rattraps, and the simultaneously comforting and horrifying snap! RIP, gigantic monster rat, and here's hoping you ain't got no siblings.
THURSDAY, MARCH 27 Meanwhile in Montana, today brought a fitting end to the saga of Jordan Linn Graham, the 22-year-old newlywed and world's least patient black widow, who was today sentenced to 30 years in prison for fatally shoving her new husband off a cliff. "Graham, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December, admitting to luring her new husband, Cody Johnson, to Glacier National Park and pushing him off a cliff," reports CNN. "It was a reckless act," as Graham told the judge in December. "I just pushed." "Go to jail for 30 years," said the judge today. The end.
FRIDAY, MARCH 28 The week continues in Seattle at the intersection of 12th Avenue and South Jackson Street, that glorious circus of great restaurants, bad traffic, death-defying jaywalkers, open-air drug dealing, and astoundingly smelly Dumpsters that was yesterday the site of a humongous police raid. "Dubbed 'Operation Rock and Hock'—apparent references to crack cocaine and fencing stolen goods—officers with the Major Crimes Task Force launched an investigation into several businesses in the area," reports Seattlepi.com. "Detectives seized 804 computers, iPods, and cellular phones from one store they believed had been stolen. [The raids] netted 25 arrests, including one woman suspected of selling illegally obtained shrimp out of a van."
SATURDAY, MARCH 29 The week continues with a story out of Snohomish County, where today a 24-year-old woman surprised bystanders in a Home Depot parking lot by asking for their help in unjamming her gun. "After the woman asked strangers to help her unjam the weapon, a 911 call was placed," reports the Associated Press. "Deputies found her parked in a loading zone. When she saw the deputy, she put the gun to the side of her head and fired." The woman was transported to Harborview, where her condition was not readily made known. As for the unjamming: "It's unclear if someone helped her unjam the weapon or if she fixed it herself."
SUNDAY, MARCH 30 Nothing happened today, unless you count the 43-year-old man in California who was helping to perform ocean baptisms on members of Santa Maria's Jesus Christ Light of the Sky when he was fatally swept out to sea, or the twentysomething skydiver in California whose body was found on the ground in San Diego County with an undeployed parachute, bringing this week's theme of problematic parachuting full circle.
In better news, at least two of Last Days' Facebook friends recently went skydiving and totally lived to tell the tale. Send hot tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @davidschmader.