Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Enigma of Herman Hoeh


In case you missed Trader's posting in the comments recently...

Having known Herman Hoeh (like many others) for nearly 20 years and worked for him for part of that time, if someone had told me that he had adopted elements of the edicts of Zarathustra, I can't say I would be surprised. An intensely private man, Hoeh was an enigma in the truest sense of the word.

If he was anything (and I actually write this with respect), he was an apologist for whomever was in power at the time in WCG.

1) For example, when HWA announced in the 1950s/1960s that the Egyptian pyramids couldn't have survived the Great Flood, Hoeh responded by simply rewriting history. Borrowing heavily from Immanuel Velikovsky's controversial work, Ages in Chaos, Hoeh reworked traditionally accepted Egyptian and Babylonian dynasty chronologies so they fit HWA's Flood scheme. He subsequently published them as "new truth" in the first volume of his legendary Compendium. When HWA later allowed for the pyramids to actually have "survived" the Flood, Hoeh looked like an idiot.

2) The "theology" for HWA's title and rank of "Apostle" came directly from Hoeh. HWA actually initially rebuked Hoeh for calling Armstrong an Apostle, but as we all know, gradually accepted it (although HWA didn't use the title openly for nearly 20 years).

3) In the last months while HWA was dying, Hoeh basically either flat-out hand-wrote sections or heavily edited prior HWA works for the book that became Mystery of the Ages. (Sheila Graham also played a significant role in the production of MOA, which should give Flurry fits). Mystery of the Ages would be more appropriately title "Herbert Armstrong's Greatest Hits," edited by Herman L. Hoeh.

4) Hoeh heavily edited HWA's original Authobiography after Armstrong's death (again with aid from Sheila Graham), adding in HWA letters and the initial pieces about Joe Tkach. The result was a politically tinged tone that produced a quasi-"balanced" view of WCG's founder and made it seem like the selection of Tkach as successor was an orderly process (which it was anything but same).

I had a great deal of respect for Hoeh (particularly in how he and his wife were true servants of humanity), but truly to really understand what he "believed" at any given moment was like trying to nail a wet noodle to a wall.

AW comment: Sheila, I had no idea!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...but truly to really understand what he "believed" at any given moment was like trying to nail a wet noodle to a wall."

He really believed HWA was the Apostle -- before anyone else would have dared such an obscenity? What were Hoeh's motivations to create that sort of ludicrous fabrication? Of course, he believed he had penned a True History of Armstrong's True Church, too. Makes you wonder if he had enough intellectual integrity to defend his own fabricated true world history, the embarrassing college compendium. Watching Hoeh smilingly waive away all of the evil cultic past he personally promoted, then eat all of his own words for Tkach shows the depth of his scholarly and religious convictions he foisted upon the WCG.

Dennis said...

I did not know him well but observed him often. Probably no one would know HLH better than Vic Kubik.

HLH reflected the beliefs of the times and adjusted them, as many creationists and Bible literalists do (I did too) to fit the need and not see what we don't agree with. He loved history and archaeology and offered the typical apologetics of the times too. Many evangelical and funadmentalist Christians are still busy at that being more sophisticated however wrong still.

HLH was a humanitarian and open to the deeply spiritual sides of other cultures such as Buddhism. I think he recognized that all the bluster about end times, God is doing this and that, time is short blah blah, did not address the real topics of meaning and deep spirituality he saw in the quiet acceptance, surrender, suffering and understanding of impermanence of Buddhists. This I understand. After all, he was stuck with a boss who was not sure he or anyone in the organization would "see death." He was reliving the early church experience of "soon" and "time is short" and "oops, we were wrong..I have to die now, but it's still soon." I think his mind left WCG long before his heart.

I do have to say that once, I did hear an answer to a question asked him to which he replied in an uneasy joke that was the man speaking from fear of the consequences of moving on. He was asked a question that totally went against "church teaching." He replied, and this was just him, the questioner and myself, "if I answer that I will loose my retirement." And it was true as that would be the price inflicted upon hundreds later for not staying "in the faith." Of course, this was the newly concocted, reinvention of the wheel, faith of the Tkaches. When I asked Bernie Schnippert about retirement after decades and being let go because of Jesus great miracle in the Church, as he and Ron Kelly called it, it simply depended on if the man stayed with the church, did not attack it and agreed with the disagreable. I told him my dad worked for Kodak and bought Fuji film and they did not cut him off...no reply.

I liked HLH from a distance and I feel I much better understand his struggle now....

Neotherm said...

Herman Hoeh is genuinely a mystery. I carried on a correspondence with him shortly before his death. He seemed to never respond directly to my questions and seemed very defensive.

I think the remarkable development is that I could have that correspondence. In the pre-1995 WCG, if I had asked some of the questions I was asking him, I probably would have permanently come under the suspicion of the ministry and maybe would have been disfellowshipped.

Unfortuantely, this new and more liberal climate in the WCG did not yield the historical witness from Hoeh that I wished for. I cannot explain why.

Hoeh was in fact an apologist for HWA. It was his job to find scriptural support for HWA's ideas. He found the support, for instance, for a Monday Pentecost. Then when it was understood to be on Sunday, he found scriptural support for that.

-- Neo

FYI Again said...

"The "theology" for HWA's title and rank of "Apostle" came directly from Hoeh. HWA actually initially rebuked Hoeh for calling Armstrong an Apostle, but as we all know, gradually accepted it (although HWA didn't use the title openly for nearly 20 years)."

Interestingly, David Pack uses the exact same "theology" to support his own claims to Apostleship. I was not previously aware of Hoeh's role in this until I heard it from Pack.

I had previously assumed HWA's Apostlehood was "supported" by his COG7 ministry certificate, which was pictured in his autobiography, and which unfortunately (and irrelevantly) contained the word "Apostle". I've heard many a COG'er defend HWA's Apostlehood based on that $%@# certificate.

But no, that apparently was a red herring. Hoeh proclaimed HWA an apostle in the early 50's at the Feast of Tabernacles.

AFAIK, HWA didn't start regularly referring to himself in the third person as "God's Apostle" (or sometimes "Christ's Apostle") until the 70's... when his leadership was being challenged.

I wonder how long it will take Dave Pack to start doing that.

There's nothing new under the sun

Anonymous said...

"He found the support, for instance, for a Monday Pentecost. Then when it was understood to be on Sunday, he found scriptural support for that."

Neo, Dr. Hoeh did not come up with support of the Sunday Pentecost after the fact, he was keeping it quietly at home with his family prior to it's acceptance (or blessing) by HWA. HLH mentioned this in studies and sermons on occasion.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Hoeh was probably the least selfish minister the church ever had. He drove old cars without air conditioning and would only use fleet cars when he did not want to make a completely wrong impression to the members and to assure he would arrive on time to give his messages.

He took buses to work. He would pay to put his car in a parking garage on a monthly basis, take a bus, and use his car only locally because the government had a program to reduce cars on the road.

He gave food and books to people, would deliver things to those in need. He bought fixer-upper homes and worked on them a little and gave them to his children. He could not stand to see litter in places and would pick things up to throw away later at his own expense.

He was respected everywhere he went outside of the US. He was a true Christian, praying for others, caring for the sick, attempting to not condemn Buddhists and others, but trying to show what Jesus had intended Christianity to be, non-judging and serving.

He was not perfect, he was human, made mistakes like all of us do. But, he did not fit in with the rest of the crowd and was an example to those who had eyes to see.

Douglas Becker said...

A Dune Mentat working in the sworn service of the aristocratic great house of Armstrong.

Rachael said...

Douglas - not a bad comparison. I never expected one of my favorite Sci Fi series to be used in an ex-WCG blog. I am surprised you did not compare to House Harkonnen though.

Dennis said...

Doug..why don't you try to put a lid on your bitterness a bit and let people be who they are. No one intends to be all the evil one can asign them after the fact. HLH was dearly loved for his kind and practical heart. Perhaps he realized or saw one could make a case many ways for Bible "truth." They can you know. Maybe the evil side you see in everything was a mental difficulty or blindspot. I personally find giving people you don't really know the benefit of the doubt. For any of his alleged faults or shortcomings, they were not deliberate, planned or near as sinister as some, in the glory of hindsite, find. HLH left a very light footprint on the planet in his practical dealings and was very very kind to EVERYONE he met. He died in the garden which is probably where he was the most happy.

Douglas Becker said...

Doug..why don't you try to put a lid on your bitterness a bit and let people be who they are.

Not very bright in the perception department: The Mentat comment is a funny as it is brilliant.

While it is possible to have some "dense" moments, the trends should be clear over time.

You should carefully consider how nutty it is for a former minister of the WCG who is now an Atheist continue his church of Gods career by commenting on the spiritual condition of his pseudo congregation. This is exactly the same mentality of the ministry of the xCGs. It is too bad that you continue to judge former members of the WCG congregation. It is not helpful: You are often wrong for the same reasons of the WCG ministry -- the failure to perceive the real intent of people to help them, but insure that they "prove" their "authority" -- trivializing others for self-aggrandizement in the process. The very picture of WCG ministerial power politics of the Church Corporate: It feels a lot like psychological rape.

And "bitterness" as in "the root of bitterness"? Scriptural that is. Best take care: Some might conclude that the Bible is being used here to prove something.

Concerning Dr. Hoeh, perhaps he was a humanitarian of sorts, but the male child pornography in his office where janitorial staff saw it cleaning up, and the mention of his interests in Thailand as mentioned in the Ambassador Report are not comforting.

What we have with this posting is a comment on an apparently brilliant man who sought to please his Church Corporate Masters by rewriting history as needed to support them. The results were minimally confusing in an already dysfunctional organization. This is not the product of intellectual honesty. And it is very much like the Mentat of Dune.

Objectively, it is difficult to assess what lasting good Dr. Hoeh actually did. Perhaps he treated some people "nice". Is that a criteria for spiritual competence? How would we know? What standards would we employ?

It is also disturbing that the man privately held and practiced one set of beliefs and publicly proclaimed a different set, visible to his Church Corporate Masters. What can any of us take from this example? How can any of us use that kind of double standard in our lives and maintain one shred of integrity?

It is a curious admixture of praise mixed with a lot of negatives all bound together in an unconvincing bundle of confusion.

Reading suggestion: Dune. It was, after all, the story of religion.

Douglas Becker said...

I am surprised you did not compare to House Harkonnen though.

Rachel, I had considered it. Simple was better.

Neotherm said...

The conclusion that Herman Hoeh was a humanitarian needs to be qualified. While he may have been more tolerant of non-White ethnic groups and their religions than the typical Armstrongite (not a notable accomplishment), it is a stretch to believe that he had high regard for these people.

Because of his writings on race, my belief is that he regarded these people somewhat like a zoologist regards animals -- he was an observer and a student.

He developed and promulgated the Armstrongite theory of race that this led to much misery in the Armstrongite congregations.

It is only those who were "Israelites" (and naturally out of touch with the issues of other races in the WCG) who might believe that HLH was a humanitarian. Most of his writing exalted people in the Israelitish category. What's not to like? For these people.

Based on the correspondence I had with him, there was no evidence that he ever recanted these ideas.

Whatever happened to Sheila Graham? This is going to sound really strange but she was my "date" at a Spokesmans Club Widows Night in Gladewater, Texas back in ancient history.

-- Neo

Jared Olar said...

"When HWA later allowed for the pyramids to actually have 'survived' the Flood, Hoeh looked like an idiot."

This observation actually turns things on their heads. HWA didn't allow for the pyramids to have 'survived' the Flood until after the Compendium's Velikovskyan house of cards was brought down when Herman Hoeh and others saw that the archaeology of the Holy Land does not even remotely match the pseudoarchaeology that Hoeh advocated in the Compenium. As Hoeh explained in a couple of handwritten letters he wrote to me in 1987, he had assumed that Iron Age strata and deposits in the Holy Land were contemporary with Bronze Age deposits, but found out that wasn't so -- the Bronze Age deposits are obviously older than the Iron Age deposits, which made it impossible to squeeze all of human history into the period following 2250 B.C. as Hoeh attempted to do in his Compendium.

That made it necessary for Hoeh to accept that the first six dynasties of Egypt were older than Hoeh's preferred date for the Flood, which meant that in Hoeh's mind the pyramids were older than the Flood.

Of course Hoeh's preferred date for the Flood is wrong, but that's a whole other subject.

Anonymous said...

Dennis -

I guess you should have followed Proverbs 26:4 and not Proverbs 26:5 in replying to Doug...however it does seem that Doug's comments kind of proved your point...

Always appreciate your observations Dennis, although I often don't agree with you. I did appreciate and agree with your comments this time though...in spades.

Anonymous said...

"A Dune Mentat working in the sworn service of the aristocratic great house of Armstrong."

A house ruled by a cadre of men who all thought they were the Kwisatz Haderach.

Paul

Anonymous said...

Oh!,
And how can we forget Hoeh's "Who Built the Great Pyramid's- He says at the end of his article "As Mr. Armstrong perceived , Job is Cheops".
Just take a look at the references Hoeh uses and check em out. Talk about rewriting and ludicrous fabrication!,
rod 2

Anonymous said...

Dennis has stated many, many times that he is not an atheist. Attempting to brand him as one is an insult to anyone who can read.

Dennis's posts are some of the most valuable on this forum. He reads widely and often contributes ideas that I might never have otherwise considered. His writings are much more edifying than writings where the author is simply grinding an axe.

kscribe said...

Dennis said>
I think his mind left WCG long before his heart.<<

I think his heart vacated the wcg long before his mind...It was a living. that is all!
Kscribe.

lussenheide said...

From John Trechak's Ambassador Report March 1985

Herman L. Hoeh

At first glance, Dr. Herman L. Hoeh (pronounced "hay," not "hooee") may be dismissed by some as unlikely to chair any post-Armstrong leadership council. While an interesting speaker, Hoeh is not a dynamic one and has no real broadcasting experience. By no means can he be described as a charismatic leader along the lines of Herbert Armstrong. Nor can he be described as "macho" - a style sought after by some WCG ministers at the time Garner Ted Armstrong was considered the heir-apparent and therefore the one to emulate. Nevertheless, there are at least fourteen reasons why we believe Herman Hoeh will eventually be the chairman of any post-Armstrong, WCG board of trustees:

(1) His loyalty to the WCG is unquestioned.

(2) His WCG tenure is as long as any other WCG leader, with the exception of HWA himself. Hoeh was among the very first Ambassador College graduates and among the very first to be ordained by Herbert Armstrong.

(3) Hoeh does not present a threat to the legacy of Herbert Armstrong. Unlike some of his colleagues, Hoeh would probably not attempt to tear down Armstrong's image after his death. Hoeh played an important part in the development of HWA's image, having been among the first, if not the first, to call HWA "God's Apostle," in the 1950s. HWA, himself, may well already consider Hoeh as the one most likely to be the faithful "keeper of the flame."

(4) He has had wide experience in all major facets of the Armstrong organization - as evangelist, editor of the Plain Truth and Bible Correspondence Course, writer, advisor to HWA, doctrinal committee chairman, college professor, and college administrator.

(5) After HWA, Hoeh is the WCG's leading ideologist. During the 1950s, especially, he played an important role in helping HWA formulate important WCG doctrines. He understands the theology of Armstrong, its strengths and its weaknesses, and has a strong vision of what the WCG should be.

(6) As a propagandist, Hoeh is equalled by none in the organization except HWA himself. He is sensitive to semantics and is a talented editor, having no close rival in the church. In a new era of print media predominance, he would be indispensable to the organization.

(7) Among his WCG peers, he is clearly the most intelligent and the best read.

(8) Hoeh knows how to handle money. As a result, his years in the WCG have left him more than just financially "comfortable." He doesn't go for flashy cars, big parties, booze, or loose women. He is known for his thrift and would probably make a highly efficient corporate money manager.

(9) He is dignified and cultured. As one former Hoeh associate told us, "You'll never see Dr. Hoeh in a honkytonk bar. He is one of the few Worldwide ministers capable of entertaining royalty or heads of state without making a fool of himself."

(10) He has both a shrewd sense of timing and perseverance. Those who have worked with him say these qualities, as much as any others, have helped him to survive the organizational purges that resulted in the departures of Albert Portune, David Antion, Raymond Cole, C. Wayne Cole, Charles Hunting, Stanley Rader, Garner Ted Armstong, and many others.

(11) While having adroitly cultivated the image of an ideological Armstrong "conservative," those who really know him say Hoeh is a flexible pragmatist - a "liberal." He is quite capable of appearing as "all things to all men" - no small trick and a prerequisite for success in WCG politics.

(12) He is discreet. Whatever skeletons there may be in his closet, Hoeh keeps them securely out of sight. As the previously quoted former Hoeh associate put it, "You will never see Dr. Hoeh holding a secretary's hand in public or trying to pick up AC coeds." More importantly, he is highly discreet about the sins of his associates. Whereas some top WCG executives have used privileged information to assault, both privately and publicly, the reputations (and thus political standing) of their colleagues, Hoeh has gained a reputation as one who tolerantly turns his back on the foibles of friend and foe. Consequently,

(13) he has few real enemies (unusual in an organization filled with sharks), and -

(14) he has many friends. It is these friends, perceiving Hoeh as not only the best man available, but also the one most likely to protect their own interests, who, we believe, will choose him to chair any leadership group left when HWA leaves the scene.

lussenheide said...

HERMAN HOEH- MORE READING BETWEEN THE LINES – THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HWA

(From the original text in the Plain Truth July 1963 installment of the Autobiography of HWA. This is edited out in all future hardbound copies of the Autobiography including the 1967 and 1986 editions)

There was a woman professor of English….I did not know when I employed her that she was filled and saturated with Hindu philosophies, occultism and Eastern beliefs. She highly respected insects… Soon I found our English professor was introducing all kinds of Hindu or Indian expressions and philosophies into her teaching.

Now it so happened that the 18 year old Herman Hoeh had begun prior to coming to (Ambassador) college to delve into occultism. It had peaked his curiosity. …This interest in occultism disturbed me greatly….

Along about March, Mr. Hoeh and Mr. Cole came to me together about this instructor. Mr. Hoeh reported to me that she told she was “sent” to Ambassador College by “invisible forces of the East” for the purpose of destroying the College before it could get fairly started…. So this was one of the early oppositions from within , at the outset of the College.

LUSSENHEIDE COMMENT: Hoeh always had a fascination with demons et al. I remember vividly his account at the FOT in the Ozarks in 1979 about an encounter he had with a Demonically possessed man who he drove to a park to interview and talk with for several hours. Apparently the demon enjoyed the conversation with Hoeh and was quite intelligent. Hoeh was interested in knowing “why” the demons had rebelled and the philosophy etc of the demonic world. The original Ambassador Report as I recall also published about Hoeh’s encounter with this demon and also asked why a minister of God would not rebuke or exorcise a demonically possessed man rather than engage him in curious conversation. I agree with the AR in this regard as well.

I thought of Hoeh and his wife as eccentric. Almost like a hippie in a suit. I heard rumors that he even smoked the “peace pipe” with some kind of opium during a visit with the top leaders of the “Hill People” while in upper Thailand. His wife used to breast feed their kids until they were like 4 or 5 years old. He had an interesting diction when he spoke, at times it almost sounded like Rod Serling from the “Twilight Zone” with each syllable overly pronounced.

There is no doubt that he cared about the poor, the crippled and the infirmed. I knew of him bathing and helping elderly men in wheel chairs.

Certainly the most unusual of any of the brass at WCG.

Lussenheide

Anonymous said...

Hoeh and HWA believed that Job had prostituted his daughter to fund the great pyramids (Job was Cheops according to them), so if they could foist that one off on the sheep, then all else seemed to be possible as long as the sheep were dumb.
Then again maybe Freud is in the house and HWA's incest is somehow intertwined here.
anon

Jared Olar said...

That's a new one. I thought I'd thoroughly studied the old WCG's various forays into pseudohistory, but I'd never heard or read anything about Job prostituting his daughter to finance the Great Pyramid. It's certainly not mentioned in the Compendium or the old PT article that claimed Job built the Great Pyramid. Was this something they only mentioned in sermons but never put down in writing?

Anonymous said...

I used to place credence in some of the people who posted to this site up until I saw the postings regarding HLH. I think some of you who post here need to clarify the facts before posting. Or is this just another gossip column to make some look smart when actually they are just the opposite. Sounds like some of this is just more utterances of a donkey who thinks more of himself than he ought…

Such as:
Neotherm… Herman Hoeh is genuinely a mystery. I carried on a correspondence with him shortly before his death. He seemed to never respond directly to my questions and seemed very defensive

That is funny. Having known HLH since the mid ‘50s, he was never defensive regarding anything, and as to responding directly, sometimes he would have liked others to have to think. As for conversations I held with him, I never found him to be indirect with anything he had to say.

Anonymous… Dr. Hoeh did not come up with support of the Sunday Pentecost after the fact, he was keeping it quietly at home with his family prior to its acceptance (or blessing) by HWA.

Stay anonymous… that way you won’t hear people laugh at some of your statements. Some ministers in the ‘60s left because HWA would not listen to the ‘Sunday Pentecost’ theory. HLH’s family was not aware that HLH kept Pentecost on Sunday as well as Monday. In a conversation I had with him early on, he was aware of the Sunday issue but did not want to involve others, including his family.

As for buying ‘fixer-upper’ homes and giving them to his children… Where do you get that one? He did allow his son to live in the last residence he had, but later moved the son out. As for the daughters… they married and was in no way supported by HLH.

Be cautious for what you say… get the facts straight.

Dennis… He died in the garden which is probably where he was the most happy

Seems odd that he would be found in the garden and drug into the house and placed in the kitchen to be discovered… I wonder why. Maybe goes with the theory that Mr. A actually died in bed and then was placed in his chair to be found there… maybe the same person did the moving?

Douglas Becker… Concerning Dr. Hoeh, perhaps he was a humanitarian of sorts, but the male child pornography in his office where janitorial staff saw it cleaning up, and the mention of his interests in Thailand as mentioned in the Ambassador Report are not comforting…

Would really like to speak with the janitor that found the porn… or maybe you heard it from someone who spoke to someone who knew a janitor that spoke with a janitor that worked with a janitor who was familiar with a janitor who ‘found’ this stuff.

If you are going to slander a name… be sure you can back it with clear and definable evidence. So much BS is started by gossips who wish to ‘know something someone else doesn’t’ even if they have to make it up.

It is also disturbing that the man privately held and practiced one set of beliefs and publicly proclaimed a different set, visible to his Church Corporate Masters.

Again, where is your proof? Hearsay is one thing, but this beats all

Anonymous said...

Jared,
It is what was in the reference of the articles he quoted from -i believe the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. When you read his proof he cites by going to the reference material , this is what comes up. Seems like a little deception on his part as always to just make HWA look right and correct. After all Hoeh says that just as HWA perceived, ...therefore surely Hoeh had read what he quoted. It was just a matter of being loyal to a fault.
rod 2

Anonymous said...

Jared,
I forgot to add the scriptural "proof" Hoeh gave in that article on Cheops.. It had to do with Genesis and all i can remember that it was taken out of context as a later scripture would have proved him wrong.Something to do with how the Egyptians would not eat with foriegners . Maybe someone can remember that. Anyway i cannot recall any of the proofs given by him ever checking out under scrutiny.
rod 2

micheal said...

Satan has many servants to accuse God's faithful servants!