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Monday, April 19, 2010

The "B" Word

The bitterness label is perhaps one of the most irksome and cliched things that practicing Armstrongites can hurl at us. When someone plays the "B" card (actually quite an identifying shibboleth!), it is a device intended to leverage or invalidate us, and to cast doubt upon our opinions and statements. Once employed, it momentarily stops meaningful discourse while the accused suddenly find themselves confronting the topic of bitterness before being able to continue the original discussion. I believe that most people hurling this label know exactly what they are doing, too. They are pressing one of the buttons which their programming has taught them to press. Unfortunately, after about fifty years, it has become so unoriginal that one almost expects it to be accompanied by parrot squawking! "Wwaaakkk! Root of Bitterness! Wwaaakkk!" Yet, so deeply embedded is this in the minds of the cultically programmed that it is something we are unlikely to be able to correct. Best course might be to take it for what it is, and simply ignore it, depriving the utterers of its impact. We should realize that perhaps using it is the only way that the programmed can process our posts, mentally deflecting themselves from some of the very valid issues which we raise from time to time.

In considering bitterness, these folks fail to be able to identify, isolate, and recognize a basic cause and effect relationship. Obviously, there can be, and frequently are spiritual problems, but good theology does not automatically escalate activities from physical to spiritual unless there is a valid reason to do so. And, granted, there can be spiritual undertones to many physical problems. In this case, church practices recognizable as being bad, combined with a sense of having been "ripped off" have caused a very proper and appropriate negative reaction amongst many of us here. Unfortunately, the very ones who would spiritualize our "problem" for us also happen to believe that there is no remedy, save for us to return as members in good standing to the organization which largely caused the problem.

When one is exposed to a person, organization, or situation that has served as a long-term "net taker", as opposed to a "net giver", it is not unusual for there to be some residual sensitivity about the things of which one feels robbed, deprived, or having lost. Many Christians believe in sacrificing everything for their Creator, and for their Savior. The specific set of problems we see today has been caused by the fact that to some people it has become obvious that the Armstrong movement never did have the witness of God behind it. So, any sacrifice was largely useless. Lacking the witness of God, WCG was unable to deliver what was promised as inducement for the sacrifices, either on a personal level for members, or in terms of world events. And it was most certainly anything but a nurturing church! Some, although I can't imagine how they are able to continue to do this, apparently still feel that God is involved in their church or splinter. The bottom line would seem to be that in most cases, these churches have been their own worst enemies. And, now they want to blame the victims. Had a little bit of intelligence, or humanity been part of their equation, much of the suffering and alleged bitterness need never have happened. They are the jetsam and flotsam left in the wake of all false teachers.

In analyzing some of the practices which later resulted in bitterness, it becomes obvious that the roots lie in uncaring, exploitative treatment of members. This is no mystery, curse, or temptation from Satan. There is a very physical, simple, direct cause and effect relationship in play here. People have been treated inconsistently with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, inconsistently with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. A church institution, to insert, assert, and preserve its own authority and to meet its own objectives, has chronically devalued humans and human relationships, the same humans and relationships that Jesus placed a premium upon. They made them readily expendable. A church taught about the loving shepherd who is unwilling to lose any of his sheep, yet failed to "go and do likewise". Obviously, there do exist some incorrigible people, horribly addictive personalities, sociopaths, and others who for one reason or another need to be taken care of. These, the few but highly visible, do require a highly structured environment, perhaps emphasizing legalism and authority. But, is it reasonable to expect that every member of an organization supposedly devoted to mentoring, and to providing spiritual guidance would be treated as some of these "at risk" people whom I've catalogued? Most humans learn very successfully how to exercise control over the personal details surrounding their lives. Most, also, know to seek advice when situations become overwhelming. The most advanced Christian groups know of this, and factor it into their curriculum, teaching and practicing "good stewardship", not only with financial resources entrusted to them, but also in terms of developing their human resources. Paul speaks of the "great freedoms" of being a Christian.

There was a time in my life when I was involved in assisting some very troubled people close to me. This was gut wrenching for a time, but I actually emerged with a fresh perspective towards humanity, caring people, and spirituality. During that time, you might have seen me visiting someone in jail, or at a halfway house, or traipsing the streets looking for them. Those activities were for me a regular fact of life. I became aware of some of the programs which are commonly used to help such people back into a more mainstream, responsible, and productive lifestyle. Because of many of the negative events in my own life, things for which the ACOG perpetrators claimed authority from Jesus Christ, I have to admit that I saw belief in perhaps some of the same ways those recovering from addictions see the drugs and alcohol which were involved with their lifestyle problems. In a sense, I identified with some of the people whom I sought to help, because, like them, I recognized that my experiences had been damaging. So, imagine the paradox I faced! I saw people actively being counselled to seek their Higher Power, and I was very skeptical. For me, in my somewhat unique position, seeking the Higher Power seemed to be the moral equivalent of relapsing back into a drug which had ruined several decades of my life. Yet, of course, some of these people who were being exposed to God and Jesus, for the first time in their lives, were experiencing results. If you spoke to them you would learn that Jesus was seen as the one who could heal, could put back that which had been lost, or taken away, a just setter of standards, a giver of blessings, and a source of justice in a world cursed with injustice. Whether any of us can make the incredible mental leap to acknowledge this, it was an observable fact that the beliefs of these people either facilitated or enhanced their healing processes. Granted that humans can alter behavior based on secular logic and experience, but adding moral imperatives provided by a Higher Power increases the possibility of a changed life exponentially. Organizers of 12 Step programs retain that as part of their program because it works!

What a surprising trip, considering the places where I'd already been, courtesy of the WCG! One aspect to this which ended up irritating me was the way in which these new Christian people would answer my questions and challenges with almost pre-scripted cliches. I'd challenge them, asking what I thought were deep questions, honestly wanting to know tangible benefits of a Christian life, as compared to my own of non-belief, and get all too familiar cliches. Now, years after the fact, in spite of some of the "novice" answers I had frequently received, I finally got the answers to many of my questions from people who had delved beyond the initial learning stages, and beyond the superficial. And, there was more education. As a non-believer, I had always thought that one could find all of what I then called the "non-imaginary" benefits of Christianity through other sources. What I've learned since, is that so many of these good things and benefits are concentrated within a church community, with the key being whether you can find one with which your are comfortable. The majority of the people who say that you can find some of these benefits in an assortment of other places, while I sincerely believe they are telling the truth, simply don't go to the trouble. They do without. In a way, it becomes like being homeless. Without the very salving nourishment of the soul, many of the things which gnaw at us don't go away. Yet, just like some of the diseases and illnesses ignored because of WCG medical doctrines, these conditions are treatable! We don't need to be living with them.

So, how do we treat or get rid of bitterness? I've never read some of the atheist textbooks, so have no clue as to what their teaching on this very relevant topic might be. Don't know what an Ayn Rand objectivist would do. But, I believe I've learned a very effective method from Christians. Fortunately, it is one of those universal principles which we all can share in, regardless of belief or not. You forgive the people whom you hold responsible for causing the bitterness, and it frees you up to go on with your life. By the way, it won't make a scintilla of difference to these people whether we forgive them, or not. In fact, we don't even need to tell them. You can be sure they would handle your forgiveness in the same arrogant way in which they handle everything else! But, the act of forgiveness provides immediate and tremendous release, something only we can do for ourselves and obtain noticeable results.

BB

58 comments:

Ralph said...

Personally, I must have a very forgiving attitude. I was recently fired for inviting a state DOT supervisor to have sex with himself, and I was fired earlier for telling a supervisor that I was going to drag his butt over the counter and stomp a mud hole in it.

Of course I forgive them both for not understanding that I merely stand for the "little man" against the excesses of power, and wait only for that time when God will get even. You do realize I'm kidding? Of course the two experiences above are true.

Byker Bob said...

Been there, and done that, too Ralph. In my youthful exhuberance for truth, justice, and the American way, I had been fired probably about half a dozen times. Too many Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen movies!

LOL
BB

Ralph said...

"Cool Hand Luke", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Mr. Majestyk",
and a surprising favorite after I got involved in local theater, the part of "MacDuff" in "Macbeth".

BB, my life does parallel yours in some ways. I was an instructor at a prison back in the 80s. I dealt directly with murderers, rapists, arsonists, just about every imaginable crime of society.

Trouble is, I got along much better with the prisoners than the staff of guards and instructors. That came from the time the marines constantly threatened to jail me for this or that infraction. Total disdain for authority.

I find that in both creative and criminal groups, there is usually a high perecentage of lefthanders. Of the groups I taught, the perecentage of left handers to righthanders was nearly fifty percent, wheras in your usual social groupings, lefthanders are quite small in percentage.

I'm lefthanded.

I made my bid for nice guy about the time I took that prison instructor's job. Fell head over heels for this really sweet girl whom I had watched four years before i asked her for the first date. Instant chemistry. She had two degrees, on in psychology, one in marketing. She was also really big on social work.

Turns out she was also determined to use her skills to psychologically re-work and re-market me. Being madly in love, I didn't question her moptives, at least for the first few months.

What she also never told me until quite a while into our relationship that she was devoutly catholic. Sparks.

While I was trying to become the tye of social personage she envisioned, the prisoners were starting to laugh at me. One openly asked me if I was gay.

While I've learned to detest the hypocrisy of those in eadership position, I was becoming aware of a growing odor whose source I couldn't locate. Turns out it was me. I liked my insanity. I liked having other men make room when I walked in a crowded room. I liked being a misfit. So I left her, exactly a year after I had asked her to marry me.

Happiness is a strange thing.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Ralph and BB, you sum up the reason why I've been self-employed for nearly 40 years. When my son and I were running a business together, our motto was "eat no shit, kiss no ass," and we didn't. We didn't walk out of many jobs, but we never hesitated to do so. One cantankerous old fart tried to call the police on me when I refused to take his crap and left. He wrote down my license number as I pulled out.

As I told my daugter who said
Frank Sinatra's "My Way" reminded her of me, I had enough kneeling in Worldwide and refuse to do it anymore. At least, I gained that from the experience.

Byker Bob said...

Allen,

That's why I've been in business for myself, too! Other bosses seemed to always have something they wanted me to do that was insincere, unethical, or would deceive and slight customers.

I, too have been through some rough deals with customers. Once, I was threatened with a firearm when trying to repossess a machine that a customer was seriouly behind in making payments for. At the time, I told him to go ahead and shoot because I'd already been dead for years, and just flat didn't give a damn.

I've also told people that I was going to take a couple of weapons they threatened me with and shove them up their asses.

Ralph:

I just loved to "work" a dance bar. People stepping aside, bouncers assigned to kind of hover in my area, and other little ego inflating incidents.

Once at a bicycle marathon, I attempted to turn over an outhouse while a guy that tried to pick up my girlfriend was taking a crap. Later, I was told by other riders, "Dude, there's a bunch of guys looking for you!" I asked them if they were some of these guys' friends, and they'd turn red and kind of fade out. I've got all kinds of stories I could share!

These days, though, I'm like Hebrew National Hot Dogs. I'm accountable to a higher authority. And, I've learned that in absolute terms, Jesus was the toughest man who ever lived!

BB

Ralph said...

See! We're all learning the same thing! Put any spin you want on it, but we still come up with the same type of behaviors toward authority.

That, my friends, is truth, and you have each been called into it without even knowing it.

Byker Bob said...

The thing is, Ralph, yes I do think that I may have made it up one or more rungs on the ladder of life, although I still have the same problem with arbitrary or man-made authority. My conclusion in all of this is that I have most definitely been one of God's disruptive kids in the classroom. Much of what I've done has been a heck of a lot of fun. But, a lot of the stuff was downright narcissistic, and had some negative effects and repurcussions.

"Work in progress" would be an accurate description for me now, of course with my memories being somewhat informed by the thoughts and perspectives of Ecclesiastes.

I was watching an episode of "Dead Like Me" over the weekend. The central character, a little dead teenage girl, kept wanting to go back and cling to some of the people and her possessions amongst the still living in her house and neighborhood. Her guide, played by awesome actor Mandy Patinkin, told her, "The only thing we get to take with us when we depart is our memories, experiences, and thoughts". This underscored something I've believed about myself for some time now. I have not collected skill sets, values, or experiences that are Kingdom quality. There is quite a bit of catching up to do. But, God allows U-turns, and better late than never.

BB

Ralph said...

My best experience was when i left the marines. I had no conscience. I had set my mind that I wasn't going to ever live in fear again of any human authority. I decided that death was better than ever doing anyting out of fear.

That was a strange and wonderful experience, because eve n other marines looked in my eyes and walked away, even those marines who outranked me.

What the WCG started, the marines finished. I was free in a strange sor of way, because, in similar fashion to you, I had already died.

I rmember when trhe FBI retrieved me from home when I quit the marines, I was told to report to my Company Commander, Major Natt. I walked in there not caring whether I lived or died. I knew that if he disrespected me in any way, I was coming over the desk after him. I was prepared to die if necessary right there.

And then a strange thing happened. Major Natt reched in his desk and pulled out a letter I had written him several months before, telling him my beliefs, and why I did what I did.

I recongized the letter as soon as he pulled it out. He looked up at me and said, "Haulk, I've reviewed your case, your beliefs, the things we did to you, and I'm recommending no punishment".

I was prepared to physically assault the man. I was prepared to go down fighting, right there.

Major Natt said "I was very impressed with your letter, and with your devotion to right. I agree with you, and I believe the marines owe you an apology".

The man was apologizing to me, and I had deserted!

"I've talked to the Battalion Commander" he said, "And I've recommended no punishment. In fact, if you want, I'll see if we can get you an honorable discharge and send you home".

He stepped from behind his desk and stood in front of me. he then offered his hand and said "God bless you, Haulk".

Seconds before, i had been prepared to physically assault this man. Then I began to sob, and then my body shook uncotrollably.

Forgiveness. Unconditional. New life.

Turned out the Battalion commander had also read my letter, and then apologized and promoted me meritoriously. For desertion!

I know to this day there's nothing I could have said or done to cause that. It couldn't have been me. These same men were preapred to beat me into submission before I left, and now I was being treated almost as a hero.

There simply is no explanation for what happened to me there. I was prepared to die. I had already decided that I would never concede defeat. And then I was simply delivered.

You might say that my writing was good enough to convince an entire battalion to apologize and promote me for desertion, but that's just not going to hold up.

But why, and why me? You "woke up" and turned back to your faith.
Me, I keep looking back to that time and I wonder why. I owe something, somebody. My life doesn't feel like it's mine any more.

Neotherm said...

Getting rid of bitterness through forgiveness is a tall order -- one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. I believe it is because sometimes we are harmed permanently.

If someone cuts your foot off, you may forgive them but you still have no foot. Your loss is a constant reminder. Forgiveness does not regrow limbs.

If a cult uses conditioning to shape your behavior, you may forgive but you still have all the dysfunctional behavior to deal with. Forgiveness does not cause you to be immediately deprogrammed.

I think bitterness is correlated with lingering effects. For many, forgiveness is not a point-in-time transaction but a daily war, the real war.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

To me, HWA and the WCG did me a big favor. Can a person believe in God AND still be fiercely independent toward all human authority systems, including religions?

My answer is emphatically YES. In fact, I believe the only way you can truly worship God is to be fiercely independent.

BB said that Jesus was the toughest man who ever lived. Certainly if he did live as the bible portrayed, he had to be an incredibly tough man. But from all evidence I've seen, he was a very independent man. He didn't pander to the rich. He didn't curry the favor of the Pharisees. He spent time with publicans and sinners.

He condemned the Pharisees because they cut off the law to the common man(Luke 11:52).

Since he condemned the power structures of his day, there is no reason to assume that he paid with his life in order to start yet another power structure with him at the helm.

In fact, the purpose of his death, according to Paul, was that we would not have to be martyrs to the system as he was. A son of God died so that the people of the world would never again be forced to serve the laws of men, or men who claimed to serve the laws of God.

Laws are based on the power of vengeance. Jesus said there would be no vengeance.

Laws serve to condemn men. Jesus and Paul said that the law could no more condemn. Today, that very concept has evolvd into the presumption of innocence and the right against self incrimination.

The laws evolved to protect all people from the power of "divine rights of kings".

"Due process" of law is defined as common law, lawful judgement of peers, not judges authorized to punish in the name of the state.

Who won these rights? Puritans and Quakers, who re-interpreted Magna Carta to accomodate the very principles of innocence taught in the bible.

People like John Lilburne, who fought the courts that tried to force him to swear or affirm to his testimony. Lilburne argued, and successfully, that Jesus died in order to protect us from the power of the state to condemn. He argued that Jesus died so that no man would ever again be forced to condemn himself by law.

The "due process' provisions in our 5th and 14th amendments are based on those provisions of the common law to stand against both constitutional and statutory law.

"Due process" is the right of all people in common to protect themselves against the state, and no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. In any reference to due process, the founders referred to common law, not constitutional law.

As Hamilton pointed out: "Some gentlemen hold that the law of the land will include an act of the legislature...the words 'due process' have a precise technical import, and are only applicable to the process and proceedings of the courts of justice; they can never be referred to an act of the legislature".

And, while the constitutuion may be the "supreme law of the land", it is a limited "supreme law, and Hamilton points out that the judiciary is the bulwark against the encroachments of a limited constitution.

The "supreme law of the land" cannot override the common law provisions of both the 5th and 14th amendment protections against federal and state power, respectively.

This, in fact, reflects the idea that one man died so that no government would ever again have the power to condemn of itself.

What do the religions teach? Exactly the opposite, that we must obey the "higher powers", that we must pay our taxes and ask for permission to do everything.

To worship God in truth, you must stand independently, and you must be willing to demand that right for yourself and for all others.

No altruism. Demand your individual rights as a human being.

Byker Bob said...

Ralph,

Our founding documents refer to "inalienable rights". The documents don't establish those rights, they simply acknowledge them. Paul spoke of the great freedoms in being Christian. The only way our decisions, alliances, and loyalties can be kept pure is if they are formed in an environment of freedom. Manipulation, coercion, and human punishment can and do cause duplicitous behavior. Chastisement from God does not, because who among us believes that he or she can "fool" God?

Thanks for sharing that awesome story of your confrontation with the Marines! Truly, God was with you, and I can fully understand why you are a believer! One of the factors which facilitated my return to God was the loving and faithful ways in which He treated me during my prodigal years. There were some people on my regular forum with whom I shared many of the details surrounding my return to faith as it was happening. In one post, I had stated that The Carpenter had come back for me. One of the Christian ladies on that forum responded with, "BB, Jesus never left you!" As I gave it more thought, I realized that she was 100% correct!

BB

Byker Bob said...

Neo,

Yes, it is a war! I had to go deeper than just to forgive the Armstrongs and their lieutenants! In my mind, (and, isnt' this mind-boggling?) I had to forgive God Himself for having allowed Armstrongism to be brought into my life in the first place! I had to realize that everything God does is for a specific spiritual purpose. I realized that my WCG experience was just another part of the process, bringing me to the place where I am now.

We've got an awesome series going on in our church on parenting! What a difference! Whereas we were always taught in WCG that the goals of good parenting were the teaching of law and obedience, the church I attend now teaches that a parent's role is to exemplify the forgiving nature of God, and His grace! You really can't find a more clear-cut example of Old Covenant vs New Covenant teaching than that!

BB

Ralph said...

Thanks, BB. But my point is still that a man(or woman) who "accepts Christ" is a man(or woman) who chooses to accept the responsibility of freedom to live as an individual, not in hatred, but in the empowerment from human authorities that we all possess.

For example, suppose you get pulled over by a cop or patrolman who give you a ticket for a seatbelt violation.

You ask, "Can I pay the fine without going to court?"

The cop says, "Yes, you can".

He has just broken the law.

And if he asks you to sign a ticket that gives the same permission, the state has also broken the law.

Why? The 14th amendment says no state shall make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of the US. The very next clause tells us what one of the privileges is. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and the next clause says no person within the strate's jurisdiction shall be denied equal protection of the laws.

There is no authority for the state to deny you due process, which is your appearance in a common law court. What the state has just done is to say that, for a fee, you can bribe them so that you don't have to suffer the inconvenience of trial. IOW, "if you pay us, we will protect you from us". A protection racket.

"Entick vs Carrington", an influential case from 1765, says that an individual may do everything except what is forbidden by law, and a state can only do that which is expressly written in the law.

Since no state can make or enforce any law which allows you to be denied due process, from where do the get their authority to deny you due process?

Answer: they have none.

Suppose the policeman offered you a bargain, and said "For 25 bucks, I'll tear up the ticket, and you won't have to worry". He has done nothing any more unlawful than what the state does when it says you don't have to appear in court.

He has merely underbid the state, and he can go to jail for price fixing. You ever wonder why the courts don't accept personal checks? neither do drug dealers.
You ever wonder about that?

Anon said...

BB, you told me recently this blog is "big time" yet it's mostly postings by you and Alan. The two witnesses! LOL.

At least the pictures of herbie and garnie don't gaze at me when I visit the home page now which is progress.

Jesus tough? I don't think so. Gotta exist to be tough.

anonSeven21

Ralph said...

Well Anon, I seem to outnumber them, but you ignore that. Oh. I forgot, you simply have no answers to challenge me, so the best you can do is ignore me.

That's a shame.

The Painful Truth said...

To those who may not have noticed the new header...

I myself have grown tired of seeing the Armstrong's every-time I log on to this blog. I asked my graphics editor to re-design us something that might reflect on us as a group. A group that dissents from the Armstrong's tyrannical theology. I hope you find it as refreshing as I do.

As always, I encourage the current slaves and former slaves who have been staggering around like punch-drunk fighters hit too many times—stunned, confused, betrayed, and trying desperately to rationalize Armstong's conceited dissertations, to participate in the discussions.

The Painful Truth said...

anonSeven21..pens the following:
"BB, you told me recently this blog is "big time" yet it's mostly postings by you and Alan. The two witnesses! LOL."

I consider your post spam and in violation of our decency rule posted at the top of the blog.

If you insist on being an ass, go elsewhere. If you want to participate as a fellow traveler on this journey and exploration of life, feel free to treat others as you yourself would like to be treated.

Neotherm said...

BB:

Periodically, I ask myself, "Why did God let me get sucked into Armstrongism?" I try to view this experience as some kind of building block in my life. But I find it difficult to convince myself of that. I cannot identify in a plausible way anything that accrued to me.

Romans 8:28 says "all things" but if you sat me down and gave me a tablet and asked me to write what my WCG experience meant, I don't think I could write down anything good. And that is a 30 year chunk of my life. I thought my WCG experience was something good at the time but, in retrospect, it was a grand tour of affliction, humiliation and the diminishing of me as a person. Further, though I am a Christian today, Armstrongism pre-disposed me to reject God and Christianity. It was a formidable barrier. But, of course, I stewed in Armstrongite juices for a long time -- longer than you.

Today, I will not have anything to do with any denomination that even remotely resembles Armstrongism. That eliminates many denominations and virtually all of evangelicalism.

-- Neo

Neotherm said...

PT:

I like the new banner. I was over at Flight Operations in Big Sandy one time and ran into GTA. He gave me a very disapproving look. That is the look I remember. The publicity smile is just a little charade for the camera.

-- Neo

Purple Hymnal said...

Neotherm said...

Getting rid of bitterness through forgiveness is a tall order -- one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. I believe it is because sometimes we are harmed permanently.

If someone cuts your foot off, you may forgive them but you still have no foot. Your loss is a constant reminder. Forgiveness does not regrow limbs.

If a cult uses conditioning to shape your behavior, you may forgive but you still have all the dysfunctional behavior to deal with. Forgiveness does not cause you to be immediately deprogrammed.

I think bitterness is correlated with lingering effects. For many, forgiveness is not a point-in-time transaction but a daily war, the real war.

-- Neo


I just want to echo everything Neo has said; thanks, Neo, I couldn't have put it better myself. It also sums up what those of us born-and-raised in the church have to deal with; for the rest of you, it may be troublesome, and take years, to dispense of the "cult personality".

For those of us whose basic personalities were shaped by everything the church was, everything it believed, we have no such recourse. That may be a cause for the b-word, and it may be justified in certain circumstances, in the face of certain people (like the ones who want to accuse you of being, as I have been accused in the past, either demon-possessed, or a psychopath, simply because I am not a believer), but in the long run, I stand by the model of chronic illness.

There are good days, and bad days, and days in between; but there will never be days in which one will be "free" of it completely. That's just not the way it is, for children of the church. (Something the first-generation members either don't believe, or don't understand.)

This is not to complain, or bemoan my fate, by no means; I think it has given me both advantages AND disadvantages, and I deal with those as they arise. It is simply an integral part of my being, that I cannot "cut off it offends me" because it IS part of everything that I am.

That's all I wanted to say. Thanks, Neo.

Allen C. Dexter said...

I don't hink I've commented excessively. In fact, I've tried to hold it to a minimum.

I do agree with Neo that it is impossible to divorce oneself from the past. I pointed out in my book that there was much to be thankful for that came out of my expereiences, but the evil happened also and it can never be totally forgotten or the inevitable negative results, like in the messed up psyches of my children, expunged.

One can only move on, let time sort it all out and hope that the negativity gets blunted by time and reason.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Am I missing something? The header to the site looks exactly the same to me. No big deal. I thought the old header was OK.

Ralph said...

The thing that I keep thinking about is, what is "normal"?

Based on what we've experienced, we all have some sense of being raped, and each of us have reacted in what can only be regarded as "normal".

The "abnormal" reaction comes from those who simply ignore the obvious rape and pretend that even more rape is necesary to overcome the flaws that occurred from the first rape.

For myself, the realization that all other religions were full of crap was a greater leap of freedom, because I had been bothered by the obvious inconsistency of what I had been told from childhood up.

No one could actually explain what truth was, yet everybody insisted it was necessary to accept the traditional authority of those "approved" by the system.

Suddenly HWA appears and says, in effect, "Baloney! They're lying!"

Those born in the church, who grew up in the church, experienced the same inconsistencies, saw the obvious perversion of authority in the name of truth, and, as Purple Hymnal points out, saw hypocrisy from those who came into the church as adults.

But the fact is, no human authority can escape such hypocrisy, simply because it will begin to form exactly the same type of bureaucratic system that it sought to replace. It's unavoidable.

So, what is "normal"? Normal is Purple Hymnal, Allen, Retired Prof, all those who simply said "no more! I'm done with this crap!".

So, if you assume that you are now christian, but in a different way, how do you define that "way"?

The instant you begin to define it, you find yourself confronted with the same form of inconsistencies that drove you away in the first place. There simply are no human authorities, and that, in itself, must be truth.

Since Neo referred to Romans 8:28, the attempt to define "good" in our lives has some of the same disadvantages as trying to define "normal". If something is normal, does that mean I must be like the people who surround me? I certainly hope not.

If something is "good", would that mean it is good for all those who also surround me?

Because you also have that qualifying clause following Romans 8:28. "To them who are the called according to his purpose".

Obviously, then, not everybody gets to enjoy the "good", and even more specifically, those things which are "good" belong to those predestined, foreknown, and called.

So, is "good" defined as what the majority, the "mobocracy" considers as generally good? Not according to the reference which Neo gives.

Me, I enjoy my oddity, my "abnormality", I rejoice in the recognition that I am different from evey other person, with the right to live my life freely as I see fit, because that is the truth, and there is no other truth.

Corky said...

Maybe we just figured out that we weren't one of those who were/are predestined to salvation. We were usurpers because our names weren't written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

Ralph said...

Corky, even if it were true, how would you know? What choices would set you or me apart ftrom the crowd?

Since no one can know, that makes me as good a candidate as anyone walking the planet, and since God already knows who they are, whatever i do, I'll still be one of them.

So, unless somebody comes up with a foolproof method of being one of them, I have to assume nobody has any better shot than me, and odds are, none of us can fill the bill for 144,000! :)

So, if God wants me to believe I'm one of those folks, he's not just going to have to prove it to me, but he's got to come up with something that proves it to everybody.

How about miracles? Nah, he already warned against that in Matthew 24:24. Logic? Already demonstrated, no proof.

Faith? In what? Which one of those 38,000 christian versions?

If I'm doing something to earn me the spot, it's gotta be something I can't choose. Pretty much cancels all the other religions as well.

So, there's only one correct choice, and all of us have made it. Leave all of them alone, which takes us back to Romans 8:7 and Matthew 24:23.

Neotherm said...

One serious issue that we must all deal with is the training effect of Armstrongism. This is something that may be classed as one of those lingering factors that can produce bitterness I referred to earlier.

For instance, one of the major themes of the GCI currently is Trinitarianism. Trinitarianism focuses on the relationship that we have with the Trinity. The theological term is coinherence. This means a close and inclusive relationship with the Trinity, hence, "You're Included" on the GCI website.

But if Armstrongism has carefully trained you to feel excluded, even though you may intellectually acknowledge the validity of the coinherence relationship, you are not going to feel included. Your training within the WCG effectively trumps the assertion that God accepts you into a special spiritual relationship with him.

Mike Feazell interviews theologians and they speak about this special relationship. I listen to this and it sounds great at the time, but when I go back to living my life, I default to what I was taught by the WCG. You were taught, unless you were ordained, that you were marginal.

This I believe is due to the intense training we received in the congregations of the WCG.

-- Neo

Ralph said...

Sounds like coinherence means "free to send your money".

I'm always willing to send my two cents worth, but if they can't accept that, they don't get my money.

Assuming God exists, I have a relationship just as special when I'm wading in cow manure on the farm as when I wade in their manure in church.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, crap by any other name smells the same.

Truth is about marginalization. It's about being different. if it weren't we could all know it in such a way that it would be undeniable for every one of us. We could all be just alike.

But that's what we tried to be under HWA. It stank.

Retired Prof said...

Ralph raises an excellent question: "If something is 'good', would that mean it is good for all those who also surround me?"

To the Radio/Worldwide CoG, the answer was "Absolutely! God has revealed to HWA what is good for everybody."

This idea permeated even the smallest crevices of everyday life. A fellow Ambassador student told me not to make a sandwich with my jelly and biscuit, but to smear on a dab of jelly, bite that corner off, then smear on another dab, because that's the way the best people did it.

The remark bothered me, because my mother, her parents, and all her siblings made biscuit-and-jelly sandwiches, and I couldn't think of anybody better than they were. Snootier, maybe, but not better.

Eventually I realized that church teachings about Sabbath prohibitions, feast days, dietary restrictions, tithing, and so on made no more sense than that quirky etiquette rule. They were not good for me.

I've got to admit, however, they were good for some people. It's a deep puzzle to me, but there it is. I knew a woman who said she had been continually blessed with material goods as a result of tithing. She was able to afford a nice household and trips to Europe. When she got too old to travel, she had money to spare to give to her grown children. Her faith comforted and sustained her through her final illness. The teachings were good for her.

(I think her secret was that she took HWA's injunction "Don't believe me. Believe your Bible" to heart. For example, not finding any biblical prohibition against celebrating birthdays, she went ahead and celebrated them. I have an idea she paid her tithes and ignored HWA's pleas for extra offerings. A year or so before she died, she confessed to me, "I always just followed my own conscience.")

I also know observant Jews who profess no faith but find the rituals deeply rewarding. And Baptists who find the spiritual guidance of their faith good for them.

Neither of those things would be good for me. I am embarrassed by ritual. As I mentioned in a PT article (from the no-longer-accessible gap years of 2007-08), I cannot see the spiritual light that some people claim should illuminate my path or hear the spiritual voice that should guide me along it. So by default I grope my way through life with a materialist outlook.

It's not an article of faith, just a working assumption. But it's good for me. Best I can do, within the limitations of the mind I've got.

Ralph said...

I find all ritual funny. I enraged my fiancee a few years ago when, at a wedding, I asked,
"Will they have the conception in the social hall?".

I find that women like to observe certain social rituals, while I find all of them having the usefulness of the proverbial teats on a boar hog.

I remember a girl I had been dating in the old WCG for about a year, but both of us knew there was no "spark" between us. We just enjoyed our times together.

I had gone to another area for a few months, and when I returned, she told me she was now engaged to another guy, whom I had always liked. When I attended the wedding, I shook hands with her and asked "What you doing after the wedding?"

She smiled and answered, "You'll never know".

Even on those occasions when I attend services to accomodate my fiancee, I never bow my head when we are asked to do so. I don't close my eyes, and I don't pray with the group. But I never make fun of serious believers. If God judges their hearts, it ain't none of my business.

My fiancee keeps asking if I'm an atheist. I answer no. She says "You act like one". I just answer "I believe in God, not in men".

The Painful Truth said...

Purple, the closing of your blog.

Is the United Church of God not interested in what is true and what is false or in what is good and what is evil?

What set you off? Give us the scoop.

Neotherm said...

As I read Retired Prof's post and I reached the part where he mentioned the biscuit, I wondered if it was whole wheat. My guess is that a few others did, too. I don't really care if it is whole wheat but the point is, the question jumped to front and center without my having to consciously think about it.

-- Neo

Retired Prof said...

In this group, Neo, I didn't think it was necessary to mention that it was whole wheat.

Purple Hymnal said...

"What set you off? Give us the scoop."

This.

Combined with the apathy of the GCI membership (Ralph's not kidding when he says "coinherence" means you're "free" to "Send it in, brethren!") there really doesn't seem to be much point to it anymore. Besides, the weather is starting to come round, and I've plans for the house and my spring/summer, that are not going to be achieved if I am stuck behind a computer screen all evenings/weekends.

LOL @ "whole wheat"....I didn't even think to ask the question, I just automatically assumed....

Byker Bob said...

Purple:

Quite some time ago, you posted your opinion on the old Shadows forum that the Armstrong movement is not a Christian organization. I believe that you were, to a great extent, correct in that asseessment. The reason I say "to a great extent" is that I believe that there are some individual members who, in spite of the corporate church culture, have accidentally managed to become Christians and to maintain that status simply because they have learned to be keep their relationship with God personal, and have not allowed their church to interfere. Of course, if this attitude were found out, they'd probably be disfellowshipped, but that's another topic.

The types of people who are accusing you of being bitter, or demon possessed are not following any example that Jesus set. Likewise, the people who call Felix "Blackie", or the people who issued death threats to Ed Mentell when he first established this website, or the people who seem to gloat over the Lake of Fire. I'd just take these people for what they are. They've been deceived into believing that a certain kind of non-Christian behavior is the way to imitate Jesus Christ. These people have no power over us, and cannot touch us or hurt us any more.

If they were truly Christian, assuming that they consider us to be their enemies, or spitefully using them, they would be praying for us. If their leaders were truly Christian they'd be going into their meetings switching off their own agendas and kicking their minds into neutral to make them susceptible to the Holy Spirit, kind of like the Quaker thingy which you've made us all aware of.

If it's any consolation, I am Christian, and think it is absolutely ridiculous to label you as demon possessed, even though we've had our disagreements. That would be a totally unwarranted escallation of physical processes into the spiritual realm. But, it's what these people are taught to do, and it is a stereotypically unChristian example of behavior.

BB

Ralph said...

Speaking of Quakers, I like their oats. Don't care much for their instant grains like grits.

My fancee's son married a Quaker. Nice people. What I like most about the Quakers in their beginnings is that they realized the state had no power to make them swear or affirm to any statement that would tend to incriminate them.

Their argument, basically, was that if God forgave them, the government could go to hell.

Their avoidance of choosing one person to regulate and control meetings is largely a result of that experience with England's government.

Today, they're a bit more liberal.

As to being demon possessed, a good friend of mine was so deeply affected emotionally that he committed himself to a state mental institution. The doctors said it cause a chemical imbalance in his brain that required him to take medication in order to overcome the strict discipline that had been imposed since his childhood, so he was very much like Purple and others.

He asked me to come to the state mental facility to visit him, but I had to decline. The institution had already taken out restraining orders for me to keep off their premises. True story, folks.

Does that make me so crazy they are afraid of me, or so sane there's no need for me to go there?

Corky said...

Ralph said...
Corky, even if it were true, how would you know? What choices would set you or me apart ftrom the crowd?

My comment was kind of tongue in cheek but, yeah, you're right. There is no way to know if you or anyone are of the "elect" or predestinated "chosen ones" whose name was written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

But, there's more. We don't even know if there is a "book of life". And, what does "foundation of the world" mean?

I could list some other things too but the whole thing about the supernatural is only people's assumptions about a God existing and what this God should be like.

AND THEY DON'T KNOW.

They may claim they know, they may strongly believe that they do know, they may force other people to say they know too - but the truth is, they don't know.

Purple Hymnal said...

"...I believe that there are some individual members who, in spite of the corporate church culture, have accidentally managed to become Christians..."

That may be the case, but when I refer to "Christians" and "Christianity", I refer to the standard trinitarian bible-thumping religion that is the default setting for "Christian". In that sense, we absolutely were not Christians, in any way, shape or form. I maintain that we were, in fact, much closer to what is known today as Messianic Jews.

There were surely good people in the church, who were the ones most often culled from the herd, to be targeted by the ministry for "trials sore and great adversities", but these were unfortunately, few and far between. Still, I think you would have been hard-pressed to find a trinity-believing, professing-Jesus-Christian among them.

Perhaps among those who were called to the church out of such a Christianity, thus being unable to shed their old ways, would have fallen prone to this, but I don't think any of the good people I remember would have fallen into that category, nor were they any better or any worse, simply because they were not professing Christians, and did not want to become ones, after the changes.

I would say, as a result of the changes and the many splinters, these good people we are discussing, are the ones who have been left far colder, than those who were easily able to slip into (or back into) default Christianity.

"...the Holy Spirit, kind of like the Quaker thingy which you've made us all aware of."

Armstrong made us all aware of it, as he lifted the idea from both Judaism, and the Holiness Quakers he grew up attending with. I take it a step further than either group, shading into a secular, vaguely agnostic panentheism, but that's my own particular flavour of gnostic pursuit, not suitable for anyone else.

"I am Christian, and think it is absolutely ridiculous to label you as demon possessed, even though we've had our disagreements."

Thanks, Bob. Unfortunately, the ones calling me demon-possessed are not Christian, either in the default sense, or the church's One True Called-Out Christan sense.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Today, they're [Quakers] a bit more liberal."

Actually, in North America, they're much more default Christian, owing to a split a hundred and fifty years ago. I have tried to engage with North American Quakers (albeit via the Internet), but was made very unwelcome, because I am not now, nor will I ever be, Christian. The North Americans are very very much literalist, fundamentalist, anabaptist, bibliomancers, which causes no end of despair on both sides of the liberal vs. conservative "Quaker" divide. Both Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends International are a more innocuous bunch of fundamentalist bible-thumpers than your average fundamentalist bible-thumpers, to be true, but at the end of the day neither organization is very welcoming, nor even tolerant of their "liberal" kin, who are nonetheless endlessly patient with, and faultlessly tolerant of, their more intolerant brothers and sisters.

It's all very schizophrenic, which is why my interest in the religion has mostly lapsed, as well as my meditative technique being very different from the one practiced by both sides of Quakers.

The UK Quakers are the best of the bunch, IMO; but they're the ones who got the whole thing started, after all! I have had encouraging and beneficial contact with UK Quakers who are members of both Non-Theist Friends, and the Quaker Universalist Fellowship.

But, my plugging the non-Christian Quakers aside, I have found my path diverging from theirs much moreso than it already did, of late. Perhaps the information I have provided above will prove useful to others interested in a non-Christian religion that is (in its purest form, when they are truer to their earliest roots) strictly panentheistic in nature, where its adherents do very much try their very hardest to see what they call "that of God in everyone".

Purple Hymnal said...

"They may claim they know, they may strongly believe that they do know, they may force other people to say they know too - but the truth is, they don't know."

My insight for the day (or my own personal, subjective, opinion at least): BB and Ralph are flip sides of the same coin; BB is a Christian, but he's afraid to admit that, deep down, he really wants to be an atheist. Whereas Ralph is an atheist in all but name because, deep down, he really wants to be a believer.

Again, purely my opinion, your mileage may vary, &c., &c.

The Painful Truth said...

Purple said...
"BB and Ralph are flip sides of the same coin; BB is a Christian, but he's afraid to admit that, deep down, he really wants to be an atheist. Whereas Ralph is an atheist in all but name because, deep down, he really wants to be a believer"

I had that feeling when I first ran into Ralph. I initially thought he was a Christian. Now Bob, I knew where he was coming from after knowing him for some years here on the Internet. I am sure he is sincere in his believe and I might add that I respect the man for having the gonads to proclaim that to all of us former wcg associates. I say more power to him. He does not preach the condemnation of hell fire to the choir. His journey is a individual choice that does not include what many of us former "herbalist" once embraced.

As to Ralph, he does not dismiss the possibility that there is something bigger than himself. I also hold to that idea. Can't prove it one way or another, but it is a believe, or even better as a term, a be-wonderment of something bigger than the bible god.

As the editor of a website that expounds free thought and has in the past promoted atheism, I must state that those who want to take Christianity to heart without the baggage of legalism and harsh tactics designed to retain such membership, I say that is your choice. I do not condemn your choice nor do I belittle it. Choice is something we do in life and we must live or die by these choices.

I have received many letters by those who chose the same path as Bob. All who have made such a choice speak of the freedom they have in their lives. This is in stark contrast to the lives they lived when they were involved the Armstrong brand of religious mind control.

To all those who have decided to forsake or ditch religion, that also is their choice. One does not exemplify righteousness through religion or atheism in the eyes of this editor. Personal character, trust, honesty and individualism is the call for those who seek enlightenment in this life. Without this you are just another dumb ass exploitable member of the Borg community.

All stand for the final hymn.......

Ralph said...

Corky, I agree with you. Nobody knows, and nobody, including me, can prove one damn thing.

However, if i read a number of biblical statements consistent with that rfact, that actually allow it as truth, then I must assume that those apostle dudes knew something.

Now, do I want to believe? Yes.

I may have mentoned it before, but on another website, I engqaged a very knowledgeable individual who really nailed me, absolutely shook every conclusion I had carefully worked out.

I thought about it, weighed it against my conclusions, and wrote him to admit my thinking was flawed, and i thanked him for that insight, however much it destroyed my previous conclusions.

That night, I lay in my bed sound asleep, drwaming someting that had no connection to my discussion with the guy, and suddenly I shoot straight up from my bed, look at the clock, which says 2:15 AM, and I know, with absolute certainty, that the guy is wrong and i can prove it logically.

I wrote him and explained this strange epiphany that appeared to my subconscious, and why his argument was flawed. I never heard from him again.

Am I convinced the bible is true? Yes, and I will challenge anybody. Does it matter if they don't believe? Of course not. I'm not God. I just like to think I am :)

And boy, the Irish blood in me just loves a good confrontation, which is not Godly, but hey, if he created me this way, I blame him :)

And for the concluding hymn, "Highway To hell".

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph said: "Am I convinced the bible is true? Yes, and I will challenge anybody."

So what you are telling me is the bible is the word of God now???

Or are you stating what you wrote?
"Truth, said Jesus, is sharper than a two-edged sword. If it cuts through religion by the use of reason, it will equally cut
through government, since both are created by the reasoning of the same human
mind, and for the same general purpose of growth and replication. The
message is "Come out of her, my people."  The "spirit of truth" is
about you as an individual, a human being, not a cog in the machine".

Ralph said...

Of course that's what I'm saying. Always have.

Since there is no way to join the "true religion", as Paul clearly demonstrates, a search for truth will force you to accept your own individuality, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 10:34-38, leading to no need to follow any religion as Jesus allegedly stated in Matthew 24:23.

Can I prove it's the word of God? Of course not, which is why there is no need for any person to believe that which they cannot prove.

And, even assuming you did believe it, you would still end up with infinite splintering of religions, corresponding to Jesus' warning in Matthew 24:4-5.

The statement you quote is vereified both by observation and logic. You cannot serve God and be a cog in the machine.

Is there a contradiction?

Ralph said...

Oh, I thik I see your point. Both religion and government are created by the same human mind and are false.

of course they are. That's why there exists no decision procedure to get from here to God, and since government of any kind, religious or secular, is based on a deicion procedure, neither can represent either truth or God in any useful collectivist sense(Godel's theorem).

In terms of truth, or God, or human government, the very best you can claim is that you happen to have a belief, which, with a couple of bucks, will buy you a good cup of coffee.

Purple Hymnal seems to get hung up on this, since I maintain that there is no decision procedure by which to prove God, AND that the bible is true.

There is an assumption deeply buried in our brains that if we believe in the bible, we must therefore, for some silly reason, believe in religion, yet Paul's statements clearly make that impossible.

Ralph said...

Let's look atr it from an evolutionary perspective, based on what Paul stated, and on what we see by observation. The very best you can hope to accomplish by focusing your energies on God, whether from a biblica perspective or any perspective, Buddhism, panentheism, whatever, is to create ever more diversity and splintering.

If life merged as a result of the constant diversity produced by evolution, then consciousness itself, focused on itself, will simply accelerate that process, leading to greater adaptativity and less loss overall, since Mother Nature won;t put all her eggs into one basket.

Paul's statements in Romans 8:7 and 8:29-30 merely point to that diversity which must result in an exercise of futility.

Therefore, from all observable POVs, the statements of Paul are true.

Ralph said...

Taking it a step further, a guy I often debate on another webpage had this beautiful way of putting it in terms of computation:

"The algorithmic logics of computation discovered that states are absolute discrete and deterministic-but any change in state- the evolution in time of any system-is absolutely NON-deterministic. There is no way to predict how any system will evolve, no matter how orderly and regular it has been in the past because there are no programs that can produce the same output in fewer steps than simply allowing the original process to run and see what happens.

"Instead of computation showing us the TRUTH- the program that produces our physics of the universe-Turing discovered universalism-that many-perhaps infinite-types of similar recursive algorithms are computationally universal and so produc all possible programs. There is no way to know which root algorithm lies at the bottom of any process."

By envisioning a computing system, Turing came up with theuniversal Turing machine long before computers existed, and showed that they all could produce in a universal fashion to demonstrate all possible programs.

From that came the Church-Turing thesis that the brain itself is no more than a computer.

That being so, every attempt to arrive at truth can only result in the discovery of infinity.

It is this universal quality of all human brains that tend toward similarity and "religion" in our attempts to find truth. We tend to associate meanigful truth with statistical probability or collectivism.

Byker Bob said...

Purple,

One of my Christian friends who is probably a bit more spiritually advanced than I cautioned me a couple of years ago. He told me that all "new" Christians, in the early stages, had to deal with what he called "hooks" from our past. These must be broken at some point so that we can continue to grow in faith.

I freely admit that some of my own personal hooks come from the two most profound influences from my own past. I often have to confront and deal with ideas and concepts which I remember from Armstrongism, and certain kinds of logic and thinking from atheism/agnosticism. Frankly, if personable, magnetic, and affable BB gets into any really serious disputes on our forums and blogs these days, such disputes would nearly always seem to be with non-believers and full or partial Armstrongites. I believe that that's part of what you might be seeing, because even in my unconscious moments, in my sleep and in my dreams, God and Christian attitudes are predominant. My belief is soul deep.

There is another element. As you can see by my remarks a couple of sentences ago, Bob has a character flaw. He craves to be liked by everyone. The stuff I've been posting tends to make some people not like me. Even as a quasi-outlaw biker, I wanted to be liked, only in a way similar to the Who's "Seeker" ("As I ransack their homes, they want to shake my hand!") I guarantee you I would not be sharing what I am sharing if I were in reality still a non-believer. There would be no point, because I'd be making a joke out of myself.

BB

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...
One of my Christian friends who is probably a bit more spiritually advanced than I cautioned me a couple of years ago. He told me that all "new" Christians, in the early stages, had to deal with what he called "hooks" from our past. These must be broken at some point so that we can continue to grow in faith.

Yep, there's hooks and then there's "hooks". Some of the hooks that we had to deal with from our past was our friends and family when we became members of the WCG.

I can't believe that you are falling for that same thing again, Bob.

I reckon that if a person doesn't need the hooks of family and friends and other such "worldly" things they will end up with what they bought into and nothing else.

Ralph said...

And when all is said and done, you have merely decided what you will believe.

My discovery of freedom from not only the WCG, but from all religious and secular organization, combined with the intellect to challenge them all, is very satisfactory to me.

My background tends to give me sociopathic tendencies. Did you ever see that HBO show, "Dexter"? I like that guy.

During my last year in the marines, I discovered what it felt like to simply not care, and in not caring, I was free. No one, even in the marines, was quite sure what to do with me. There was that reptilian level that took over. Some dude got in my face, I knocked him outta my face.

But then I discovered that I could reduce all Paul's teachings to simple exercises in logic, basic decision procedures that eliminated all human traits from the equation.

No matter which way you argue, I have you. And the beauty of it is, it can't be proven wrong. If a religious authority comes at me, I can nail his butt. If a judge tries to use the bible to nail me, I can have some fun screwing with him.

Truth follows us according to our own needs, whatever they are. And it makes each of us "free' to the degree we wish to be free, whatever that is.

Purple Hymnal said...

"There is an assumption deeply buried in our brains that if we believe in the bible, we must therefore, for some silly reason, believe in religion..."

No, Ralph, there is an assumption, not very deeply-buried in your mind, that one has to believe in "the bible".

This is not an assumption shared by everyone, yet you refuse to acknowledge that lack of this assumption is perfectly fine, and just as valid a path as you, alone, have chosen.

Ralph said...

No, Purple, again, read very carefully. If one believes in the bible, there is the assumption that one has to believe in some human organization to represent the bible. It is a 'default" position that generally goes unquestioned by the masses.

otherwise, there wouldn;t be so many different people trying desperately to find the one 'elect" church.

Whether one believes the bible or not is merely a matter of personal predisposition.

Now, since you wish to challenge me yet again, why not show me where mu conclusions are logically wrong?

Every single protest you have issued is merely ad hominem fallacy directed at some personal flaw I may posess.

So, let's go for the worst. I'm a cold blooded murderer whose mother was a drunken whore, and I was illegitimately conceived of a union with a drug addicted man of unknown race.

Now that we've settled the irrelevant, let's get to the simple point you keep running from:

Show me the flaw in my logic. let me repeat myself for, how many times is it? YOU CAN'T DO IT.

Purple Hymnal said...

"Show me the flaw in my logic. let me repeat myself for, how many times is it? YOU CAN'T DO IT."

I can, and I have, multiple times Ralph. As a matter of fact, several of us have, but you dismiss any of these that make you uncomfortable enough to challenge your assumptions as "ad hominem" attacks, when really, they aren't. As you exemplify in this comment), where you ignore everything I said in my comment, and instead choose to mis-interpret it as a personal attack. That wasn't my intent at all, nor is it even remotely related to what I had to say.

As you clearly exemplify in this comment, your confirmation bias is so strong, that no one is going to dissuade you from the idea that you have found your "ultimate truth", even if you try and use weasel words to get out of the fact that that is exactly what you are doing.

Confirmation bias, Ralph; no one can disprove you, because you refuse to allow for any viewpoint but yours being correct. You have "Internet-diagnosed" yourself as sociopathic (and it's the inherent logical fallacy in the show Dexter that drives me bananas) but the fact of the matter is, you can't diagnose yourself as such. None of us can.

If you're a sociopath or a psychopath, or depressed, or paranoid or schizophrenic, or any of the other host of mental maladies that can befall the barely-evolved human brain, one cannot recognize it themselves.

As I have stated before, I believe that you have limited yourself to (to borrow Allen's phrase) a reality tunnel of one person, but that is far from sociopathic, it's a holdover from Armstrongism.

I went through much the same thing. If it was always "us" versus "them", but there was no "us" anymore, since I was no longer a member of the church, it must therefore be "me" against "the world". That is how I still operate, by default. On my bad days (chronic illness model again).

I do try and catch myself when I'm doing it (which is where the meditation helps, which I really really really need to get back into again), but more often than not, I can't. It's just a part of me I have to try and work around, or make amends for after the fact, if I have let things get out of control.

It is very much a holdover from the church, and it will be with me, for the rest of my life. Thing is, I want to do something about it. I want to engage with the universe I find myself in now, after having been born and raised in a completely different one.

It isn't easy, but it is doable, and relies on a lot of reading, outside of the very narrow sphere of influence that bibliomancy restricts one to.

You're just going to ignore my comments here and beat your chest and insist that I haven't proven anything you've said false, or worse yet, continue to insist that I am engaging in ad hominem attacks, and that's fine, Ralph.

I'm not writing these comments for you. I'm writing these comments for others, who may or may not need the object lesson that our interactions are providing here. "Those who have the eyes to see", etc.

Ralph said...

Purple, I have said almiost word for word what you stated in one of your own responses. You can't get "there" from "here".

That is fully consistent with very obvious statements of Paul in Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22.

Now, am I "proof texting"? If a statement conforms to reality as near as we can define itr by every conceivable process, then we musyt accept that it is true until we can find something that contradicts it.

Is there any decision procedure, whatever, of any kind of type, that you can name, proving that there actually is such a procedure?

I would have to assume your answer is "no" becausre you have clearly stated that you can't get "there" from "here", ans i also stated.

So, there is no need for proof texting, since the scriptures to which i refer are correct.

Now, since that statement is true, I can proceed to jesus' statement in matthew 24:23. "And if any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not".

Now, is there any evidence you can show me why we should believe any man who claims to represent Christ, based on scripture which merely confirm what you yourself have stated? If so, then, you can refute my statement by showing me so.

So, if I cannot diagnose myself in any form or process as sociopathic or whatever, then I habve merely backed up my own statement that there exists no deicsion procedure by whcih I can get from here to God, and no reason to try and follow any religion. Again, you merely support my argument.

If I have limited myself to a realuity trunnel, then you have limited yourself to the same tunnel, because you have said exaclty, word for word, what i have said: You can't get 'there' from "here". So, if I have made such a limitation, then perhaps you can kindly show me a decision procedure by which I CAN get "there" from "here". Problem is, that would actually be a reality tunnel, wouldn't it?

So yet again you prove my statements correct by your own self diagnosis. There exists no possible decisin procedure to get to "God" simply because we all suffer from such problems psychologically that may hinder us from making proper decisions in any fashion, not to mention Godel's theorem.

You simply make the point I have been emphasizing all along: truth is not and cannot be dependent on my psychologial tendencies or yours. A statement is either true or false, and can be recognized as such on its own merits.

Purple, in every response you have made, you have completely ignored the statement which I made, and refused to respond to it.

Is there a decision procedure to get from here to God? You've said that, and I have agreed. How am I beating on my chest if i have agreed with your statement?

If my conclusins are so flawed, you should simply be able to show me why my conclusions are wrong. I have asked nothing else, and yet you continue to argue around it with every possible dodge imaginable. And then you accuse me of ingoring your statements.

Purtple, your statements are composed of ad hominem fallacies, since mostly theyt are about my being in an "ivory tower(irrelevant to the argument)". Otr I am "the only one who believes this(also irrelevant)".

I have merely accepted the worst possible description you could possibly give so maybe we could actually discuss what I actually said.

And what you appear to be d=saying is that you are hopefully preaching to the choir in order to somehow convince them I am wrong.

That would fit in with the censoring strategy of "collpasing comments" and instructing others to do so.

Ralph said...

Also, Purple, I have looked again at the refutations you reference, and if you mean that to 'refute" is merely to challenge without proving the statement incorrect, I suppose you have refuted me.

But let's examine my statement as you quoted it: "There is an assumption deeply buried in our brains that if we believe in the bible, we must therefore, for some silly reason, believe in religion".

Notice my statement was conditional: IF we believe in the bible.
Now your statement: "No, Ralph, there is an assumption, not very deeply buried in your mind, that one has to believe in the bible".

Rather than responding to my statement above, you made your own argument concerning my mind, I must assume by the reference to "your mind", since I have no other reference to point to.

At no time have i ever stated that anyone must believe the bible. If you believe it fine, of you don't fine. I merely point out that the scriptures I describe are consistent with what is observabel around us, therefore, they must be true, no more, no less.

But your response follows a pattern that you have established in each "refutation". You have insistend that I am trying to believe in a religion, or that I am starting a religion, ir I am deceiving people into some kind of religion, when in all cases, I have clearly stated that it is impossible to do so, and used biblical references to demonstrate that fact.

And now you claim to have refuted my statement, not by answering it, but by trying to read my mind and somehow impose a secret intention(that one has to believe in the bible).

Now, if you will look at mystatement to which your responded, or to any statement anywhere in this blog, you will not find such a statement, or even any statement that it is even necessary to believe the bible.

Did I respond to your statement? Yes I did, by repeating the essence of my original statement. IF soeone believes in the bible, they tend to assume that there must be some sort of religion to join or follow. What is the evidence of that statement? Over 38,000 versions of christianity, each concluding that theirs is the true representative of Christ or God. The physical evidence verifies the statement.

Now, let's look at your statement:

"This is not an assumption shared by everyone".

read my original statement again. There is not onle place in that statement in which I stated it to be an assumption shared by everyone. I never applied it universally to every single case. I merely pointed out that there is an assumption that we think we must belong to some religion.

Now, if you were referring to your own statement, that response, again, would be irrelevant to my statement, since I made no such statement. This is a form of the "straw man" argument. Create the straw man, and then knock it down, and "prove' you have refuted the statement.

But you see, you only refuted your own statement based on what you projected to my statement.

Look at my statement again: "if we believe in the bible, we must therefore, for some silly reason, believe in religion".

Did I say everybody must have that belief if they believe in the bible? No. I made a general statement which is obviouls backed by observation.

You, however, imposed a statement on me(straw man) and refuted your own statement.

You then proceded to say you have refuted me many times, and so have others, but the obvious question is: WHERE? I cannot respond if I am not shown specifically what to respond to, as I just did your argument above.

Byker Bob said...

Corky,

Friends and family are people. They are covered by all of Jesus' teaching regarding the importance of relationships. As such, they are not "hooks". The hooks my friend referred to were ideas and temptations.

By the way, not every single thing we learned as a result of Armstrongian theology was totally wrong. Just most of it. You may read some of my posts which, if isolated and extrapolated would cause you to assume that I've returned to our former vomit, but that would be an inaccurate assumption. I assume you still drink water? HWA taught that we should drink plenty of it, but the fact that you drink water, of and by itself, doesn't make you an Armstrongite, and also doesn't damage your credibility!

BB

Corky said...

Bob,

You don't have to be an Armstrongite to become estranged from family and/or friends. All kinds of churches, cults, religions does that for you.

Even political differences causes the same thing. Religion and politics - the two main things to never argue about or even discuss with friends and family.

If you think that you won't lose anything - you have another think coming. You probably have already and you just haven't stopped to notice it yet.

You may think I'm just picking on you but if I didn't care, I wouldn't bother to tell you.

Ralph said...

And of course, atheism will make you a truckload of enemies. Not that I'm knocking atheism. Any choice regarding God/Jesus within the Judeo-christian framework will create infinite divisions, which seems to lead us right back to Matthew 10:34-38.

The cause of such division seems to be purely evlutionary, an adaptive response that allows Mother Nature to keep from putting all her eggs in one basket.

"Wars and rumors of wars" for example, is just another stevolutionary strategy to keep people fighting over the "truth".

Intelligence is forced into an adaptive response to its environment. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not even of your lusts that war in your members?"

Whatever we seek as a survival strategy will ultimately produce counter strategies for survival in other contexts.

In any consistent axiomatic formal system, there exists infinite undecidable propositions.

We even seem to be mathematically programmed toward diversity.

Byker Bob said...

Corky,

I've also gained so many wonderful things, and those are the things on which I concentrate.

You can lose certain things that it's actually beneficial to lose. Pain and guilt are two which come to mind immediately.

And, on a personal note, it has always come through that you are a very caring person. I've realized that over the years by the fact that you always update me with your new email address. I've watched you challenge people, and you are very effective in it, but have not ever detected any mean-spiritedness.

BB