Friday, 18 August 2006
In Search of ... Spanky's Brain
Time May Be Short!
How Will It All Turn Out? How Will This Affect You? What Lies Ahead?
The Situation Is Urgent
So wrote Roderick C. Meredith in a recent letter to Tomorrow's World subscribers. All in extra large, screaming bold font. The first statement was quoted (approvingly) from the New York Daily News, the rest is pure Spanky.
Meanwhile, over in Edmond, Oklahoma, the Six-Pack Prophet's most inflated organ, The Philadelphia Trumpet, features the cover story War in Lebanon: Is This World War III?
No, Rod. No, Gerry. Are these guys THICK or what? The cries of imminent doom have been their stock in trade for decades. The End is just around the corner, Bible prophecy comes alive! DIG DEEP, BRETHREN.
The blood and tears of ordinary, powerless people are appropriated to fuel the apocalyptic frenzy-making of these absurd "prophets". Nothing like a little fear and apprehension to tug extra tithe dollars out of the pockets of the credulous.
The Trumpet cover shows a young boy standing in the ruins of a destroyed Beruit suburb. Just grist for the mill as ghouls sit in their plush offices and monitor their donor income. Compassion? Not likely!
I suppose there are more despicable acts, but right now I'd find it hard to top this one: the abuse of human suffering in the cause of a loveless, legalistic, self-serving "gospel".
Christianity has rarely been reduced to a more shallow, facile, two dimensional caricature than this kind of apocalyptic fear mongering. And of all the sects of Christendom, Armstrongism is the most blatant. One example from the files: the February-March 1955 issue of The Plain Truth. The lead story? World War Is Here - Now! by Garner Ted Armstrong. Page 2 through 5 showcases two full page illustrations by Basil Wolverton with an accompanying article by Herbert Armstrong. The first shows volcanoes exploding and the earth opening up while terror stricken people attempt to flee. The caption begins: "STUDY THIS PICTURE. Will you be one of its terrified victims, when these super-tremendous earthquakes occur?"
The second shows ulcerated victims of plague. The helpful caption advises: "Now STUDY this picture... every movement of their sore-covered bodies will mean excruciating pain..."
The Wolverton apocalypse reappears on page 12 with fire descending from the skies on hapless men and women. "Could anything be more painful - more indescribably horrifying? ... Yet, if you won't really repent and turn to God now... then, when THIS plague actually scorches you with fire, you will only CURSE the very name of your Creator and Savior..."
And who is listed on the masthead as the Associate Editor of this issue?
Roderick C. Meredith.
Decades pass. A half century. What has he learned?