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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another topic -- hypocrisy

A few days ago, I commented to James that I didn't have any new topics to bring up. He suggested I write on the subject of hypocrisy in the old WWCG. VOILA and EUREKA. Here it is:


by Allen C. Dexter


What a devastating charge!

“Hypocrisy” simply means play acting or carrying on a pretense behind which one hides their real character, actions and intent.

Just about every human being has done something, or several things, during their lifetime that could be described as hypocrisy. We are, after all, just weak humans prone to look out for ourselves first and foremost. That leads us in moments of weakness to do things we are often deeply ashamed of later.

This leads me, in my mid-seventies, to be a bit tolerant toward the failings of others. I understand quite well the ancient remonstrance to let the one who was free of sin cast the first stone.

Hypocrisy rears its ugly head constantly, in private social and business intercourse and especially in politics and religion, the main ideologies seeking to sway and control the masses for the benefit of the controllers. The controllees come last in consideration and often get only condescending lip service. The longer I live, the more I understand that the average person is merely a pawn and a serf who serves only to enrich and aggrandize those who are in ultimate control.

Every news day brings us more examples of hypocrisy. The political, business and religious worlds are loaded with egregious examples – too many to enumerate in one short article. It would take a huge library of books one could add to daily. I choose instead to mention just a few examples from my experiences with The Worldwide Church of God.

Herbert and Ted were walking fountains of hypocrisy.

One such example began to play out in my freshman year at Ambassador. We were talented, enthusiastic young people who tried to lead lives similar to those led by students at other colleges.

Some of us got together and formed a drama club. We settled on a play we felt would be entertaining and set about constructing a set, rehearsing, gathering props, etc. We had a really good time.

The night came for the play and we carried it off to the delight of everyone attending, including Herbert W. I played the villain and received rave reviews from members of the audience.

Our elation and Armstrong's appreciation came to a screeching halt a few days later when an apologetic Herbert explained in a fatherly sounding way that although we had done an admirable job, he couldn't allow such activities in the future. You see, we were play acting, the root of the word, hypocrite. It was wrong for God's representative people to engage in such play acting.

That should have been a red flag to me and others, but we were just too slavishly inclined to accept any “bull+++t” that old geezer came up with.

Stage drama disappeared from Ambassador College – for a while. Years later, It snuck back in with things like a presentation of South Pacific by the Ambassador Chorale.

With construction of the elaborate Ambassador Auditorium – the much heralded “house for God,” the flood gates opened. That grand edifice finally gave ol' Herb another “in” to hob nob and brush elbows with the rich and influential of the world. Soon a whole parade of play actor “hypocrites” were appearing at regular intervals under the auspices of the Ambassador International Cultural foundation (AICF) paid for and maintained by the tithes and offerings of all those church members who had long ago forgotten the original edict.

Now let's consider the titillating subject of sex. That part of life bedevils just about everybody who gets too big and self-important for their pants or panties, in all levels of society, but especially in religion and politics. Just about every person has something in their sexual past they would prefer nobody knew about. It's part of being a normal human.

Ever since “church father” idiots like Augustine came on the scene and managed to seize control of Western religious thought, the Western world went into paranoia where the subject of sex is concerned. Sex just had to be a great evil because it was pleasurable and fun. Any aspect of it was shameful or suspect.

The conundrum was that sex was necessary if the human race was to continue and the religious despots were to have anyone to rule over and exploit. It was judged OK as long as reproduction was the only motive and nobody really enjoyed it. Really “holy” people like priests of every rank, monks and nuns were expected to renounce it entirely. We have ample demonstration of how practical that approach has been.

Anyone who has read Hawaii by Michener knows that the ancient Hawaiians lived an idyllic life and were as a whole extremely happy in their innocent acceptance and enjoyment of their sexual natures. As soon as a bunch of “tight-ass” missionaries happened on the scene, all of that idyllic situation went wafting away on the breeze.

The Armstrong's put up a magnificent facade in the sexual arena. One would have thought they were paragons of virtue and self-control. What went on behind the scenes and very secretly for a time was an entirely different matter.

Long time readers of this and other sites dealing with WWCG history are well aware of the incestuous relationship HWA carried on with one of his daughters and his constant indulgence in masturbation while condemning it in all others. They know about Ted's womanizing and flagrant adulteries. I won't belabor the issue with needless repetition.

There is one great instance of overwhelming hypocrisy I am aware of and of which most former associates are not aware. It shows the absolute ruthlessness and reprehensible character of Herbert W. Armstrong and his wife, Loma.

For many years, Garner Ted Armstrong treated the coeds of Ambassador College like a convenient stable of potential sexual conquests. One can only imagine the psychological traumas those girls he overwhelmed went through.

One former Worldwide minister knew it all too well. He was the one local elder responsible for counseling and ministering to those girls. They brought this very personal and devastating situation to him for his counsel and help.

This put him in a very touchy situation. The Armstrong's soon realized that the “cat was out of the bag.” They began to fear this minister and what he could do with the information to which he was privy. Several times, Herbert Armstrong demanded to know if he was going to blackmail them. He replied simply that such was not the way he operated. He told no one, including his wife.

Herbert accused some of Ted's sexual victims of seducing Ted and verbally did all in his power to demoralize them by calling them every smutty name he could think of. Some of these women eventually died of addictions because they could never recover from the psychological damage. In some cases, Roderick Meredith assisted in demoralizing these young girls, probably because he had hopes of becoming Herbert's successor.

Men like Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Herbert Armstrong don't take chances in such situations. They destroy their potential enemies whatever way they can. Herbert Armstrong set out to destroy this dedicated man with total ruthlessness.

One day, the employees of the department over which he was second in command received a visit from their boss and Herbert himself in which he feigned sorrow over having to put this man out of the Church and ministry for the sin of adultery. The following Sabbath, he made the same announcement in church.

He even tried to alienate this minister's wife from her husband in hopes of gaining her support in his efforts to discredit and destroy him. He had his chauffeur drive him and deaconess Annie Mann more than one thousand miles to Oregon to talk with her. During that meeting, he accused her husband of making up lies about him and Ted. She confronted his charges with "It was not ++++ who told me those things - - it was your son, Ted, who told me!"

Herbert's simple response was "Well, Ted should not have told you!" He then broke off the meeting and returned to Pasadena. Annie Mann witnessed Herbert being a liar and a deceiver. He never apologized to the man's wife for his attempted deception, nor for his efforts to discredit him.

I didn't know until many years later that the charge of adultery was a total lie. This man was so devastated and emotionally distraught that he actually suffered a heart attack with severe chest pains that lasted several days. He didn't realize what had occurred until years later when the evidence showed up on a chest X-ray and the doctor asked him when he had his heart attack.

When he explained to the doctor about his severe chest pains years earlier the doctor said "That is when you had your heart attack!" He suffered an emotional and mental (as well as spiritual) breakdown that took him years to overcome so he could rebuild his life. Herbert died without ever even attempting to undo the damages he inflicted on him and so many others.

I still count this man as a friend. Although we see the world through different reality tunnels (see my article on this subject), I respect his overall character and the principles by which he has guided his life.

When I first became a part of the Worldwide community, it seemed very family-like, and I think it was at that time. That atmosphere changed as the ministry became more of an elite club that maintained itself aloof from what became increasingly viewed as the “common” element of the congregation. This became even more pronounced as the British mindset increased with the addition of the Bricket Wood campus. British-style class awareness became ever more pervasive.

This was shown up vividly by the experience of one of my good friends who found himself called on the carpet about his mother.

His mother and Loma Armstrong had found in each other a commonality of spirit and personality that led to their becoming close friends. This did not fit in with what the powers that were thought was proper. His mother was not especially rich or highly educated, wasn't an executive and had no connection with the ministry. In fact, she had been a Hollywood show girl in her youth. A successful one, I might add. Then, just an ordinary housewife and mother.

I guess, because his father was long deceased, it fell his lot in their eyes to be the head of the family and they remonstrated him about his mother's efforts at “social climbing.”

Maybe the epistle of James somehow got clipped out of their Bibles while they weren't looking. Anyway, unless you were in a special class they thought worthy, you just didn't dare try to hobnob with the exalted elite.

I don't know if anyone bothered to consult Loma on the subject.

I could dredge up more examples if I really wanted to work that hard at it and make this a laborious read. These are the examples that have stood out in my mind, so I'm sharing them with our readers. If some others have examples they can share, please feel free to write an article, send an email or add them to the comments in this blog.

The longer I live and observe, the more I recognize the futility of looking to men and organizations of men as infallible guides to whom we must subject ourselves. That approach only encourages those who become so exalted to be hypocritical in an effort to maintain their positions.

We must learn to think for ourselves and guide our own lives wisely. The earlier in life we learn that lesson, the better our lives will be. I'm thankful that I began to really learn these things at about age forty when I was still in my prime.


Retired Prof said...

Funny thing, Allen. When I left Ambassador after two semesters, I knew for a fact that I did not belong there. I thought British Israelism was a crock, I couldn't see any sense in the church's ideas about the resurrections, and I had developed serious doubts about the very existence of god.

However, I had complete confidence in Herbert's and Ted's sincerity. I would have defended them staunchly against a charge of hypocrisy. I just thought they were deluded. In fact, it was only reading the Painful Truth after I retired and had time to go back and revisit the whole CoG scene (more than 45 years later) that revealed their sleaze. Thank you for adding the details in this post.

By the way, I was a freshman the year you graduated from Ambassador; I attended your graduation ceremony. So I am embarrassed to admit I can't remember your face. Even worse: Betty Brogaard and I were freshmen together, and we can't remember each other.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Retired, don't feel bad, there are a lot of people I don't remember all that well. Things get hazy after all that time. I remember Betty a bit because she used to type in our department. I have trouble recalling her face though.

I, too, would have staunchly defended the armstrongs' sincerity most of time I was with the outfit. It wasn't until recent times that I saw through Loma. But, I've always been a sucker for females. Our little pomchi dog has me wound around her little paw. All she has to do is gaze at me with those deep brown eyes and I melt.

Ralph said...

I was at Ambassador, Pasadena back in 1969, but not as a student. I helped to build "Imperial Schools".

I went out there with wide eyed dreams of doing God's work, contributing my knowledge to their construction needs, and who knows, working my way up to supervisory level in their "house for God".

It took me about two months to realize I had made a major mistake.
Nothing personal to you guys, but I discovered quickly that Ambassador students, especially those who seemed destined for ministry, were treated much better than the non-student construction workers.

Our foreman was a nice enough man, but he let workers know right quick that there were others waiting to rreplace them if they didn't square away, and the superintendent was a man who never smiled except at the higher ups.

He monitored everything like the Captain on "Mutiny On the Bounty", and would walk up to laborers and snatch tools out of their hands.

Having grown up in construction, and accustomed to the rough ways of construction workers, I learned at an early age to put up with no nonsense. I was doing some "rod busting" on steel reinforcement, and he reached for my pliers that I used to tie to steel. I pulled the pliers away from him and looked him straight in the eyes, and he kept walking.

The project foremen were basically decent, but there was always the threat that if you didn't fit in, or didn't show the right eagerness to serve, you could be dismissed at any time.

I knew that most of these people were working because they wanted to help the church, do their part. They didn't need to be threatened, they just wanted to do their part. Most would have given labor for free if they could have.

I began to realize I didn't belong there, didn't fit in anywhere. It was a business, nothing more, and we were pawns.

Allen C. Dexter said...


Your comments triggered another memory. Herbert always claimed that the levites had the highest incomes of all the tribes because of tithing and the high priest was the highes paid of all. That was used as justification for his and other ministers' lavish lifestyles. I'm convinced it was a misrepresentation of the actual facts. \

What you and those other workers experienced was not unique at all. It's the primate way of asserting dominance over others. In that culture, it ran rampant. You were lucky to see through it so early on.

Anonymous said...

The subject of hypocrisy is certainly a fascinating one, isn't it, Allen? The difference between outright hypocrisy and imperfectly practicing one's beliefs would seem to be rooted in one's sincerity, or the lack therof.

In retrospect, HWA had a very narrow, legalistic view of life, and to promote and maintain such outlooks many people become disingenuous and manipulative, both of which appear to run counter to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, in which He outlined a Christian's behavioral standards under the New Covenant.

I'm thinking here. Why didn't HWA change the names around, inserting himself and Garner Ted into the narrative about the woman taken in adultery, and maybe get a clue as to how he should apply this example to his own life? Just imagine if we patterned Jesus' teaching after what HWA actually did! The HWA version would have Jesus covering up the woman's adultery, and threatening the eye witnesses with disfellowshipment for lying!

Ralph said...

Allen, I agree with you completely. I did interview for permanent work with the college, but only because an appointment was set up to talk to some high executive.

I walked into his office, and he sat at a large desk in the center of an office that had windows behind him with this sweeping vista of the surrounding area of Pasadena. He sat there in this massive edifice of power and never rose to greet me or even admit there was any sense of equality between us. I began thinking to myself that it was people like me who made it possible for him to sit in this pinnacle of power, and I disliked him from the instant I walked in the door.

I knew I never wanted to work for him or the kind of people he represented, and I knew he was wrong. I just couldn't prove why.

Allen, as for "play acting", I remember that reaching the church area where I was, but it wasn't publicly condemned. It "leaked" down that we should not take part in such activities.

After I left the church I got involved in a local production of the musical "1776", and played the very small part of the reverend Witherspoon.

That, to me, was the most deeply "spiritual" experience I ever had! People from all walks of life, rich and poor, united by a desire to produce something in which each and every one of them had an important part. I was astounded at such talent! People right off the street showing these wonderful talents in music, singing, just incredible!

Community theater showed me what people are capable of if we just let them do it!

The Painful Truth said...

Just like a public toilet in a bus stop, Herb's hypocrisy never could be flushed away, as if that would ever make him pure in the eyes of his god. He had conceived the objective of reigning over others opinions and free thinking. He conquering neither kingdoms nor provinces but the human mind. This is where he found his success.

He operated under the misguided assumption that he was known for his sound judgment, unerring foresight, and sagacious adaptation of a means to an end. Few could see through his deception. It took years of slaving for the man as our families went without for the expressed purpose of supporting not only a religious charlatan, but a child molester as well.

Whenever Armstrong gave a sermon, he never raised the issue of how he would take a perverse pleasure in watching people scurry about like rats in a maze, never quite managing to hone in on his own hypocrisy. After all, we were just the toys he played with. No, we were just pawns in a game that resided in a twisted mans mind.

Herb, like his hirelings (sophomoric swindlers ) always failed to comprehend and practice the teachings of his home spun religion. More precisely, Armstrong conveniently forgot his religion's messages of peace, love, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness. Yes, he became so morally and ideologically degraded, so acclimated to separatism and lexiphanicism, that he gave the sheep a new and largely artificial basis for evaluating things and making decisions. But here is the point that is worth considering: Armstrong's atavistic values lead him to exploit others for his own self-entertainment. He created an institution which, twisted and turned, and to this day remains a disgrace to humanity.

Ralph said...

We feel more "burned" by HWA's system because we were in it, but the same statement may be made of organized religion in general, which suggests that it's all part of a process that tends to corruption, and it also produces individuals that are more individualistic in their response to future attempts to control them.

In that sense, it's a positive. I'm not trying to justify HWA or any religion, but pointing out that the corruption inherent in all such organized systems, church or state, tends to make me apply Thomas Paine's statement about govertnment as a necessary evil to churches as well. Paine himself later came to this conclusion, I think.

Insanity is described as doing something over and over and expecting it to come out different this time. Or, you can simply walk away and realize, as Lord Acton said, that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

What is the common information we can all glean from this point? Allen stated it with his "Mind Blowing Concept" article, and "Purple" stated it well in his last response. We gotta learn to start thinking for ourselves, and acting responsibly as individuals.

But, to bring this up to more "scientific" discussion, does this indicate randomness, as Ex-Android, Purple, and other suggest, or does it indicate information?

I suggest that it is highly informative, because all of us, whether we accept the existence of God or not, have arrived at the same conclusion regarding collective authority: it stinks.

The thing to focus on here is not the "content" of the message, but the "process" that occurred, and in that process, we all came basically to a singular result, which is to question authority in its various forms, up to and including "God", and that's good.

I submit that those who are atheist in an "absolute" sense confuse "randomness" for "information". If a message is highly improbable, it is also rich in information. But if a single experience among hundreds of people drives them to the same general conclusion, then it is possible that there is "design" in that process, summed up in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, and stated directly in 2 Peter 2:19.

If we separate the idea of "content" as truth, and simply look at the process, we see exactly what was predicted by Jesus in matthew 10:34-38.

In this same process, we also see a constant speciation that allows for adaptation at an individual level to increasing complexity.

What appears as randomness to our "content" oriented minds is actually the purpose of it all.

Allen C. Dexter said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say there was a purpose behind it all, suggesting a designer who set it up that way. However, as I stated in my book, I am thankful that what I have experienced in life has given me wisdom to live by and pass on. It's just a natural part of living and learning.

One of our two dogs liked to chew on cords when he was a pup. One morning, he came yelping and howling from under our bed. We finally figured out that he had bitten into a cord down there and got the shock of his short life. He avoids all cords now. In this case, "So soon old and so quickly smart."

People learn at different rates. Ralph quickly wised up, and it took me about twenty-two years to come to the same conclusions. Others never arrive at that point. They keep on desperately clinging to religion as the answer to life and its problems.

Ralph said...

Allen, you remind me of that saying by Mark Twain. He tells us that we should be careful only to take those lessons from life which is intended. As Twain said, a cat that sits on a hot stove lid will never sit on another hot stove lid. But he won't sit on a cold one, either.

One of the more interesting books I read after I came out of the church was Marshall McLuhan's "Understanding Media".

The title is dry, but it's an amazing book. McLuhan writes about how media shapes our consciousness. For example, he talks about the alphabet and mechanical print introduced by Gutenberg shaped our concept of space as homogenous, continuous and discrete.

Print technology expands and adds one at a time, building up large conglomerates of civilization.

This leads to such discoveries as calculus.

But electronic technology with communications at the speed of light makes space non-visual, non-continuous, non-linear.

For centuries, scholars equated "God" with the developing literate idea of mechanical, repeatable, linear structure of reality.

But electronic technology is not directly dependent on print. It takes away the continuous and discrete and makes everything seem to happen all at once, without the apparent synchronization of the tick-tock watch.

Purple writes of the impossiblity of a God consistent with time. In fact, our concepts of a watchmaker God were nothing more than the synchronous development of Newton's mechanical universe, which itself was the result of print technology.

But you see, Paul never admitted to such an organized perspective of God based on mechanical decisions. If the bible teaches the truth in an absolute sense, it must demonstrate exactly the logical step by step process toward integrative truth. But Godel shows this is impossible. Truth in an absolute sense does not compute. The truth about an absolute God, therefore, would also not be computable, which means there exists no decision procedure for defining or 'deciding' God, which means that Paul was correct.

If the bible did lead us to a complete, consistent understanding of God, Godel's theorem could not exist. If there is no decision procedure to demonstrate a way to God, then reason is not sufficient to lead us to absolute truth, which is the resulting conclusion of Godel's theorem.

IOW, as the medieval philosophers believed, reason is not sufficient. There must be more.

Anonymous said...

"If some others have examples they can share, please feel free to write an article, send an email or add them to the comments in this blog."

I knew I said I wasn't going to comment anymore, but I saw this, and couldn't resist. Does that qualify? ;-)

Hypocrisy, where shall I begin? We were told how "unified" we were from the pulpit, but the cliques and social stigmas in the smaller (for the times) of the two congregations I grew up in, were truly heartless.

The ministers in this very same congregation knew about the changes months before they were going to happen, and a deacon and his family were caught chowing down on unclean food at a local restaurant, whilst the rest of us were being faithful to a truth that was going to be proven false.

How about the minister who used to be a carbon copy of Hitler, delivering the "don't hide your light under a bushel" sermon, shortly after the trinitarianism was being introduced to the church?

How about the leaders of the church turning their backs on everything they had ever been taught, and the people who believed in the very principles that they tore down, in one fell swoop? (Without removing the totalitarianism from the system, I add.)

How about every person fellowshipping at Sabbath services, with their best and brightest smiles, with their firmest and happiest handshakes...who in reality felt like a dog's breakfast inside?

Shall I go on?

Ralph said...

When the Tkach forces took over, I had been out of the church for many years. But my best friend from the old days invited me to a bible study at his home which was to be conducted by a WCG minister who would explain the changes.

I sat in the meeting and waited for the minister to speak, and then began asking him questions, which he couldn't answer. Then I answered them for him.

After about an hour of this, we took a break and my friend's wife offered everyone refreshments.

I happened to glance over at the minister, who sayt in a corner, glaring at me with pure hatred in his eyes, an obviouks attempt to intimidate me. After my experience in the marines, this kind of stuff was funny.

I thought about saying "You look like you want to whip my ass. Would you like to try?"

But I was an invited guest, so I smiled and winked and pursed my lips in a kiss. He never looked back at me.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Since I was nowhere around when those changes came down, I didn't experience what happened. Thanks for sharintg those experiences. I can only imagine what it was like for these desperate guys trying to preserve their status and livlihood while wrestling with their conscieces. Some of them had to at least suspect that it was all a sham.

It took me quite a while to back off the clean and unclean meats nonsense. On my first trip to Hawaii, I discovered the delight of crab legs and drawn butter. Didn't give me cancer or anything else bad. And lobster -- yumm. We didn't indulge in shell food in the upper Midwest, so I was middle age before I discovered them. Red Lobster is now one of my favorite restaurants. The closest one is in Prescott, an hour away. One small downside to our idylic home here in Cottonwood.

Keep those recollections coming, everybody.

Ralph said...

I still have trouble eating fish that looks like bugs, but that's not religion. I ate some oysters that were probably bad, and the sickness I suffered still tends to make me wince when I see lobster and crabs.

But ham? No problem.

The Painful Truth said...

The changes is what led many to the truth about the WCG. If we ever had a hint, if we ever had an individual perception in our minds outside the influence of Herbert Armstrong, we would have recognized the evil being perpetrated on us. Any of us would have seen it was a scam from the beginning and benefited the person or persons who controlled it.

The cultural traditions within the cult never contributed a single thing to the advancement of knowledge or understanding about God or real life. Instead the cult was busy generating drama and conflict that always kept us busy scurrying around like ants trying to please the minstry or some father figure in the sky.

The reality of the common experience we all share is that Armstrong's religion had delivered exactly the opposite of what he had previously promised us. Most notably, the vows of liberation turned out to be masks for oppression and domination.

The old "I'm right and the world is wrong" attitude was loquacious because it left no room for compromise and was not based on fact but various fictions within the dogma of Armstrong-ism.

As he lived his pathetic life, Herbert always found a way to avoid compliance with government regulations, circumvented legal litigation, and shanked us working class zombies in the back just to keep the cash spigots flowing—all by trumping up phony emergencies in his never ending quest for money.

In conclusion: Religion has bought widespread death and degradation to millions of human beings across the face of the Earth. Herbert Armstrong was part of that machine. Armstrong built a totalitarian enslavement and death machine that I'm sure Mao Tse Tung would have been proud of.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Right on, Painful Truth.

I just came upon an interesting little piece on Huffington Post that ties in with what I wrtoe about Christianity's ridiculous standards about sex. Give it a read:

Anonymous said...

"Since I was nowhere around when those changes came down, I didn't experience what happened. Thanks for sharing those experiences."

I've written about what it was like to have a ringside seat for "the changes" here, if you're interested (it includes a partial transcript of the sermon as well).

Anonymous said...

"The cultural traditions within the cult never contributed a single thing to the advancement of knowledge or understanding about God or real life."

Welllll...we understood our own god by those "cultural traditions"; it just wasn't a very pleasant god to live under, sometimes, and it no longer exists. Not that it ever did, I mean it no longer exists in any of the splinter groups, no matter how much they insist it does, because that god was tied intimately with that "one, true" church --- and the leaders of the "one, true" church, decided to reject their very own god, and tried to drag the rest of the "one, true" church along with them.

As for the cultural traditions not providing us with an understanding of real life, that's exactly right. I'm sure everyone's read what I've written about my first Christmas, so I won't link it here. But here's the problem, at least for me, as a 2nd-generation child of the church: Those cultural traditions that I cherished, and held such faith in, were unequivocally false, manipulative and demanding. And yet, and still. I am an atheist, but I miss the Spring Holy Days and the Fall Feasts. I know I shouldn't, and that it's anti-Semitic for me to feel that way. For a long time I repressed it, and thoughts of "the calendar" didn't even enter my mind. In the last few years, between Weinland's three timelines, and the rest of the ex-member sites I've been hanging out on, I paid more attention to the calendar than I have in years, and I've stopped repressing those feelings.

This has not had a positive effect. My long and rambling point (sorry, I'm tired), is this (an analogy I have used before): The professing Christians swept in like the Europeans conquering the Americas; declaring their way was the ONLY way, they proceeded to strip us of our "cultural traditions", our heritage, our history, and our identity.

And, just like the Europeans, they did a half-assed job: They took everything that we ever knew and everything that we thought we were, away from us...but they didn't give us anything back. Not even to an ounce of self-esteem, or the smallest jot of independence. Not even a tittle of critical thinking.

Turning to other "cultural traditions" is, of course, not an option. Not to my mind. But MY "cultural traditions" are false at best, and a false god's deception, at worst. That doesn't leave much middle ground.

I'll always be on the outside, and will never really feel like I "belong". Other "cultural traditions" seem just as pointless and inconsequential, as my former cultural traditions seem to me now.

Retired Prof said...

I hope this doesn't spoil the fun, but I've got a story involving integrity instead of hypocrisy--perhaps.

In the third year after she was baptized, my mother asked her minister (my memory is not perfect, but I believe her minister at the time was Bryce Clark) what the procedure was for paying the third tithe so that the church could distribute it to needy widows and orphans, as promised. He told her since her own parents (Baptists) were needy, why didn't she just pay it to them, instead of WCG. So she did.

A couple of years later, on one of my visits home, my mother told me Bryce Clark had resigned from the ministry and left the church. She thought it was because he objected to the liberalization of the divorce and remarriage policy and refused to give couples in second marriages permission to live together again after he had ordered them to live apart.

If I am right that it was Clark who told my mother to give her third tithe to my grandparents, however, there is another possible reason. Maybe he knew that headquarters had corrupted the third tithe money by dedicating it to ministerial luxuries instead of aid for needy church members. If so, then he is to be admired for trying to counter the hypocrisy of the higher-ups and mitigate the harm to the members.

Of course, if he did advocate for preserving the old harsh D&R policy, he is to be blamed for trying to perpetuate that particular harm, at least. But who knows what he really thought? Mom got the story from a WCG minister, and his version was pretty much guaranteed to be sharply slanted.

Ralph said...

My parents were separated by tghe D&R thing, but my mother actually did very well. We had a young dedicated local elder named Larry Bathurst from one of the midwest farm states. He saw to it that all the "church widows" were well cared for. My mother could call him any time, and he would see that it was taken care of by another of the members or himself if necessary.

I remember also that he was one of the first in the area to rebel against the church, and came to tell my mother there was no need to remain separated from my father. The smile on his face was something to see. A very fine young man, who, if still around, would be well up in years now.

To add to that, Mr. Bathurst was not a natural public speaker. Often he got lost in his notes and repeated himself, and really had to struggle with sermons and sermonettes.

But when he found out we didn;t have to follow the Armstrong crap!
One of the finest, most inspiring sermons I ever heard come from any man came from him when he blasted the hypocrisy of the Armstrong doctrine. He was Daniel Webster and Henry Clay rolled into one.

I truly wondered at the time if I wasn't experiencing the "tongues" of Acts chapter 2.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Retired prof, I knew Bryce Claark rather well. I liked and respected him and am glad to hear something good about him. I'm sure he was a mixed bag, as we all are because we are prone to our own attitudes and deceptions. I don't know if he still lives, but if he does, I'm sure he's changed a lot in the interim.

Another man I'd like to know about because I've never been able to find anything online is Carlton Smith. I worked under him in New York and he and Bryce were good friends and buddies. Does anyone reading this have any information?

Retired Prof said...

Allen, out of curiosity I Googled Bryce Clark after my latest comment. He is one of two pastors of the Bethel Church of God in Eugene, OR:

His contact information is on the Website.

Apparently the D&R doctrinal change actually was a crucial issue with him. The site includes a long article about how the change was brought about.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Just checked online and apparently Bryce is still around and a big wheel in another splinter called the Bethel Church of God. That's a disappointment. He's still trapped in a reality tunnel not very well grounded in reality.

Ralph said...

Unfortunately we're all trapped in reality tunnels. I don't think there is any one of us who can claim superiority in that regard, which leads to my original assertion that if there is a higher reality, then any decision procedure that exists in regard to us would certainly not be dependent on our complete understanding, nor would there be any "absolute" penalties for our ignorance, other than the absolute of death.

Ralph said...

Philip Slater made a statement in the book "EarthWalk", which I read about the time I left the church(1974), and it has stuck in my mind.

Slater wrote that the human is the only animal who can have his reality falsified for him. If one person holds a false reality as true, we may call him neurotic. If many people do so, we may call it a culture or religion.

Ralph said...

Sorry to keep jumping in, but I just saw a classic by Albert jay Nock, written many, many years ago, regarding the "remnant".

It's a libertarian classic, and I think about the best description of "elect' by a non-religionist as I ever read.

"Are you Part of the 'Remnant'?"

The Nordic said...

When people are thrust out of the cult or they leave of themselves in disgust for the rotten leadership and how they were treated, they continue to obsess.

They can't have gotten all the negativity injected into them by the leader without it having somewhere to go.

People can't understand how such men could have prospered and continued on, just as evil narcissists and psychopaths everywhere succeed in what they set out to do while seemingly breaking all the rules.

It's not right that they should get away with what they are getting away with. It's just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

"People can't understand how such men could have prospered and continued on, just as evil narcissists and psychopaths everywhere succeed in what they set out to do while seemingly breaking all the rules."

Schizotypal personalities?

(BTW, great profile picture, Nordic!)

Ralph said...

Humans seek to belong, because their genes drive them to replicate, and in order to replicate, they tend toward collective strategies that ensure their control over the environment.

We believe because it's natural tio believe. E.O. Wilson pointed out in sociobiology that getting "born again" in the usual southern sense that us good ol' Baptists used to do is nothing more than an adaptive strategy.

Once a person hits the age of puberty, he or she startes thinking about ways to get married, get involved with the opposite sex, and that in many societies, requires being "incorporated", being though of as both an adult and social animal.

Religion is evolutionary. It's as much a part of us as breathing, and quite unusual for us to stop believing, but when we do, we start becoming responsible individuals.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Good analysis, Ralph. When one looks at it all from that perspective, things make a lot more sense.

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