Sunday, 20 January 2008

Obituary for two?

The man who became the world's best known co-worker in the WCG has died aged 64; but according to the New York Times it wasn't just Bobby Fischer that passed into the great beyond.
. . . (Fischer) tithed the Worldwide Church of God, a fringe church he had become involved with beginning in the early 1960’s. The church, now defunct, followed Hebrew dietary laws and Sabbath proscriptions and believed in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. For a time, Mr. Fischer lived in Pasadena, Calif., the church’s home base, or nearby Los Angeles, where he was said to spend his time replaying chess games and reading Nazi literature. There were reports that he was destitute, though the state of Mr. Fischer’s finances was never very clear.
A fringe church... now defunct? Well, fringe certainly, but still very much with us. And as someone else notes, surely he tithed to WCG. "Tithing WCG" sounds as though he took a 10% commission from church coffers (a nice trick if you could pull it off.)

Apparently someone (it may have been Mark Kellner) set them straight, and the online edition has been edited thusly:

At the same time, he tithed to the Worldwide Church of God, a fringe church he had become involved with beginning in the early 1960s. The church followed Hebrew dietary laws and Sabbath proscriptions and believed in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. For a time, Mr. Fischer lived in Pasadena, Calif., the church’s home base, or nearby Los Angeles, where he was said to spend his time replaying chess games and reading Nazi literature. There were reports that he was destitute, though the state of Mr. Fischer’s finances was never very clear.

So it seems WCG has been de-defuncted. That must be a relief for the lads in Glendora, though the way the article is written still gives the impression that church members keep a copy of Mein Kampf beside their Bibles.

Addendum: Pasadena Star News columnist Larry Wilson now leaps into the act with an article that tries to clarify Fischer's WCG connection. Here's an excerpt:
I know that some Pasadenans don't like to hear it, because the concerts in the auditorium of Ambassador College on the church's fancy West Pasadena campus were so fine and high-culture and whatnot. But it was all a charade - the Armstrongs didn't give a damn about culture. They just wanted what had been known as the Radio Church of God to be accepted in what they thought of as their snooty new hometown. But growing up around the church in Pasadena, with its neurotically manicured dichondra lawns - weeding labor courtesy of the automatons in white shirts and dark ties or little twinsets who pretended to be college students - the place always gave me the Stepford creeps.


Ouch! But Wilson doesn't do his credibility any favors by sloppy research, for example he names Herb's son Gardner Ted.

20 comments:

BC said...

It does make it appear that it is just a short jump from the WCG to becoming Nazi, though: Might it be that they were so very similar?

Richard said...

Are you "de-defuncted" -- or does that mean you're currently "functed?"

It might just be fun to be functed, you know....

Anonymous said...

Do Nazis keep Jewish Holydays and food laws?

When did I miss them handing out the copies of Mein Kompf?

Oh I get it...that was the Gov't thing HWA kept ranting on about....

Anonymous said...

I was functed once. Ah, memories...

Stingerski said...

Much has been made on other forums about how nutty Bobby Fischer was, or came to be. And yet, it is the same crowd which continually crows "WE would not have stoned the prophets if WE had been there!" who want to denigrate Fischer.

Sure they wouldn't (have stoned the prophets). Of course not. Only guys like Fischer picked up on the Herbster's racist, homosexual-phobic, Nazi-cratic way of doing things. Certainly not any of them! Or even any of us. Right?

One thing is for sure. Fischer was an American hero to many (including me) when he beat Boris Spassky in 1972 at Reykjavík, Iceland for the chess title. The euphoria was akin to the American hockey team in the 1980 Olympics winning their match against the Russian team.

Yes, the ACOG zealots seem to see no connection between the Worldweird Church of Fraud and Fischer's later antics. He was never really a "member" you see. Never had God's spirit, or something like that. Nope. Couldn't have. Yeah, "WE be not born of fornication," and so it goes.

The fact is, Fischer accomplished more in his life than any 10 Churches of Fraud members combined ever have, or will. Because all they can do with their pitiful time on this earth is to do nothing but "prepare" for some far off kingdom, wherein their present feckless lives will be transformed into magical lives of crushing the rest of humanity with iron rods - or something like that, as the fairy tale goes.

Bobby Fischer, R.I.P.

Anonymous said...

When I heard of Bobby Fischer's passing, I reflected for a few moments on the WCG era of my life, and then wondered whatever happened to that other famous WCG personality from the movie "Sound of Music"? It shows the memories from that era (or, should I say error) are still in our minds.

With Bobby Fischer, Dan Truhitte and Garner Ted on Hee Haw, for a young person in the WCG it was something to be proud of giving WCG some legitimacy with the rest of the world.

Though, after reading the obituary of Bobby Fischer yesterday, I have to wonder what the effects of Armstrongism was on his somewhat reclusive life, and strange worldview?


While on the subject of the very few famous WCG public personalities (Bobby Fischer, Dan Truhitte), I remember hearing rumor in mid 1970s WCG that there was a WCG member playing minor league professional baseball. Recently, I visited the Painful Truth website, and got the rest of the story over 30 years later.

Seems the Sabbath keeping minor league baseball player Dan Thomas (nickname "Sundown") made it to the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers for a couple of seasons. Apparently, a few years later he was arrested for rape in Alabama, and committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.

I guess there is something in me that says the fate of Dan Thomas as a WCG personality is "what else would you expect from a WCG public personality?"

Richard

Sad Parent said...

Danny Thomas, his wife and children were with us for part of the Feast of Tabernacles one year when the Feast was nearby and we could keep it while staying in our home. It turned out to be something of an embarrassing experience.

Over dinner at a restaurant, he told us the story about how he grew up in the church with his mother. He got heavily into drugs and told us that he had given a talk to the teens in Big Sandy that it got so bad that he could not put one wooden block on top of another because the drugs had wrecked his mind.

He signed with the Brewers and got a $50,000 bonus which he spent promptly on hot cars and other things he never would have had a chance to get as a deprived child, son of a WCG mother. Right in the midst of his playing, he decided to "get religion" and told the team he couldn't play on the Sabbath. They promptly ejected him from the team.

So here we were during the Feast and downtown one day with him and his friends and he decides to go into the local baseball team's office to seek a job. We waited outside. He came back and told us they wouldn't give him a job. He had been blackballed.

At our home, we had lunch with him and afterwards we went outside to the little stream behind the property. There were salmon spawning. Danny jumps into the stream and tries to get a salmon bare handed.

Danny Thomas was nice enough and personally likable, but he was a freaking nut.

It was sad when we heard he died at such a young age, but it was certainly understandable.

The Worldwise Church of Fraud was an extremely dysfunctional environment, filled with contradictory practices filled with cognitive dissonance generating distorted perception. A child growing up in this terrible environment was extremely vulnerable to the extremes of yelling ministers proclaiming death, doom and destruction accompanied by nuclear war weekly from a pulpit. Imagine a four year old trying to make sense of that and tales of the horrors of homosexuality with other unimaginable moral atrocities.

The wonder is not that children growing up in the WCG became mentally disturbed and morally ambiguous, but that any of them ever made anything of themselves other than failures and suicides.

Anonymous said...

anoymous said " When did I miss them handing out the copies of Mein Kompf" Good Point, but it's spelled " Kampf".While I'm at it, I know many normal people who were raised in WCG, and some normal folks raised in grinding poverty by sicko redneck hillbilly parents who never knew anything about the WCG.

To be fair, I do know some where poverty and/or WCG produced some very screwed up kids. Social misfits can come from rich normal parents as well.

The brain is a strange place, just look at the difference between Jimmy Carter and his brother Billy. Even if your a Republican you have to admit at least Jimmy became the president.

Prob'ly would have been best over all to have been raised in a "normal" mainstream church.

Anonymous said...

>>>>Prob'ly would have been best over all to have been raised in a "normal" mainstream church.<<<<<

Some of us were raised in a >"normal" mainstream church<

Yet we sought out WCG....makes you wonder how normal those other churches really were.

I could tell tales on the Baptists but why bother......the mindset with most ex-WCG'ers is that HWA was the only "de-functed" mini-steer.

In truth, he just knew how to capitalize on his 'bull' and had the guts & gumption to take advantage of cheap radio broadcasts back in the days when other preachers were doing the same.

He had a 'hook' they didn't have to make it appear he was privy to some inside message of God that hadn't been revealed before.

He was a business man who made "the Bible' his business.

It paid off for awhile.

And he lived high on the hog until his death.

Death is no respecter of persons.

Anoneemoose

Lussenheide said...

Dan Thomas was a talented player. He was actually picked 6th in the 1st round of the 1972 baseball draft, a place where in todays environment he would likely get a signing bonus of $3 to $6 MILLION right out the gate.

Alas, things were not such in 1972 and was stated above received only a $50,000 bonus. Thomas broke out in the 1976 season, hitting some 29 home runs in the AAA minors, and then getting promoted to the big league Milwaukee Brewers for the last month of the season, and having very good stats, hitting .276 along with 4 home runs.

It was in the offseason of 1976/1977 that Thomas felt the need to begin keeping the Sabbath. At first the club tried to accomadate Thomas in the 1977 season, letting him have the Sabbath off, but eventually it proved unworkable. Although he played well, hitting .271 with a couple of more home runs, his last game in the major leagues was May 18th, 1977. As a final indiginty in his last game he was actually "hit by a pitch" while batting by opposing pitcher Dave Lemanczyk.

There was a bit of a circus surrounding Thomas at the time. Coach Frank Howard of the team was openly sympathetic to Dan Thomas' plight, but upper management thought differently.

As I recall, a couple of former ministers, Ernest Martin and someone else, called Milwaukee uppper management and told them that HWA could grant an exception/immunity in Thomas' case if HWA desired. This only served to complicate issues for Thomas. No exception was going to come from HWA.

I remember vividly our local minister being very excited in being able to pick Thomas up at the airport and drive him around town at the time, when the Brewers came to Southern California to play against the Angels.

After leaving major league ball, Dan Thomas went to the low minor, Northwest League. There one of the teams did not have a major league affiliation, and was independently owned by an Evangelical. This team owner accomodated Thomas' beliefs , and he went on to be one of the leagues top home run hitters, with about 15 home runs that year.

Thinking that perhaps converting to pitcher would allow him to more easily accomodate the Sabbath, Thomas took a stab at it, but to no avail.

Dan Thomas spoke to various YOU functions, and was held as an example of personal courage for the organization. But personal issues would dog him.

Thomas was not arrested for "forcible rape" but rather "statuatory rape" in Mobile Alabama. He apparently commited suicide in his cell Thursday, June 12th, 1980.

Bill Lussenheide,Menifee, CA USA Contributing Editor to the book "TOTAL BASEBALL" (edition seven), the official encyclopedia of Major League Baseball.

byker bob said...

I think the part of the Wilson article that offended me the most was the description of those who weeded the dichondra lawns. I, the ultimate campus rebel (NOT an automaton!), was one of the weeders, and neither I, nor anyone else doing the weeding ever wore a white shirt and tie while on the job! You didn't get to do that until you got your "spiritual" job, like working in Letter Answering, or assisting one of the high ranking ministers.

One of the obstacles to reaching the Armstrongist mindset on a credible and helpful level is the exaggerated or fabricated claims sometimes used presmuably because the writer feels that he/she needs extra leverage. A true Armstrongite is going to stop reading right after the first lie, whether or not the balance of the article is factual. It'd be far more effective if people like columnist Larry Wilson used only the truth and abundant factual materials in attempting to eradicate and debunk the Armstrongite scam.

BB

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing that some of the chrome-domes at the top of WCG resembled Himmler, and of course we all remember that the jack-booted nazis were gonna come over in 1972. So Fischer probably saw Nazi stuff at someones house.

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of racism, zionism, and white supremacy in the WCG, "back in the day". I can remember at least two members of the lay-ministry (cheerfully referred to by the more relaxed members of the congregation as "the Gestapo"), who actually did read Mein Kampf, solely because Herbie had a copy.

One of the former editors of The Painful Truth has a transcript of a telephone conversation up on the site, where one of the high-ranking officials of the church (this was '97, I think) admitted that the white superiority was making Senior and Junior uncomfortable.

(This was back when they were first bedding down with the Fundies, before the Fundies and the NAE started turning zionist themelves.)

Further to that, I point you to exhibit A, "Mystery of the Ages", followed immediately with exhibit B, "US and Britain in Prophecy". Or the "Table of Nations" we were expected to colour and memorize, in YES classes.

Not to toot my own horn, but going back through the songs in the hymnal, it's easy to see where a lot of the white power stuff was implied, subtly.

Not necessarily white hatred (since we were never exhorted to go out and kill ethnic people, the way christian identity groups do today), but still white supremacy.

I can remember members of the Toronto congregation I was born into, spanned a wide range of ethnic groups...but they were all expected to "stick to their own" i.e., "marry their own (tribe)", as were the white members. That's not racism? You bet it is.

We may not have outwardly been racist, we might not even have acted in a racist manner, as individuals, but the church itself was a precursor to the christian identity/white supremacy groups in existence today.

Failure to acknowledge that fact may be a more comfortable position for ex-members to take, but what's that Xtian thing the bible-thumpers like to say, about the truth making you free? Yeah, that.

It was, no matter how deplorable, a part of our past. A very grisly part of our past, that is directly responsible for some of the more dangerous christian identity groups that are out there today.

Anonymous said...

purplehymnal said: "There was a lot of racism, zionism, and white supremacy in the WCG, "back in the day". I can remember at least two members of the lay-ministry (cheerfully referred to by the more relaxed members of the congregation as "the Gestapo"), who actually did read Mein Kampf, solely because Herbie had a copy."

This is true. I was a young boy in the 70's and I remember my father telling me that blacks were 'spiritual' Israelites and 'almost' as good as white people. I haven't asked him if he ever changed his mind about the latter. I also never understood the fact that the citizens in Israel were looked down in as from the tribe of Judah. I was never figured out why this would be a perjorative.

Questeruk said...

Lussenheide said...
Re Dan Thomas:-

“As I recall, a couple of former ministers, Ernest Martin and someone else, called Milwaukee uppper management and told them that HWA could grant an exception/immunity in Thomas' case if HWA desired.”

Sounds like you must have the wrong minister here – The time you are talking of was 1977. Ernest Martin resigned from WCG in January 1974 – it would be rather unlikely that he thought he had HWA’s ear three years later.

Ernest Martin was my minister for a while – and him suggesting HWA grant some sort of ‘special immunity’ sounds completely out of character for him.

Lussenheide said...

Questeruk and all:

You are correct. Earnest Martin had left WCG several years earlier of the Thomas Affair.

His statements were not intended for HWA, but were actually released to the press. WCG was silent publicly on the baseball issue, as they were about most PR issues at the time. Martin was willing to speak to the press on the issue.

Martin made the statement that "IF" HWA gave permission, (special dispensation) it may be possible for Thomas to play on Saturdays.

For the upper management of the Brewers, it proved to be a frustrating dichotomy of religious babble.

Hope this clarifies.

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Bamboo_bends said...


The wonder is not that children growing up in the WCG became mentally disturbed and morally ambiguous, but that any of them ever made anything of themselves other than failures and suicides.



And a happy good afternoon to you too!

Jeez, it wasn't bad enough we were denigrated for not having ENOUGH zeal as you first generation "CHRISTIANS" (wide eyed converts is more accurate) We now gotta take that crap after we left!

Our brains are very much in place and we don't tend to think of ourselves as moral ambigous suicidal maniacs.

Jared Olar said...

In an important sense, one can say that Herbert Armstrong's WCG is defunct, since, despite the organisational and other continuities, the Glendora WCG of Joe Tkach Jr. is not Armstrongist and doesn't have any of the programs and practices that were characteristic of Herbert Armstrong's WCG --- no more World Tomorrow telecast or radio show, no more AC, no more concert series, and even the PT is no longer a WCG organ.

At any rate, it's telling, and I think fitting, that the writer thought the WCG no longer existed. Most people have never heard of the WCG, nor of any other Armstrongist splinter group.

camfinch said...

Someone on up the thread wondered about whatever happened to Dan Truhitte. I got to know Dan a little bit back during my first year at AC-Pasadena ('71-'72), when for my P.E. requirement I took his dance class (the toughest muscular workout, at least for my legs, that I have ever had!) during the fall semester. Dan never did seem to let his Sound of Music bit of fame go to his head.

And maybe it's still the same. He has been living just up the highway from me, in Concord, North Carolina (just northeast of Charlotte) for quite a few years now. He is a successful businessman, but apparently still keeps himself involved with the stage. I seriously doubt that he'd remember me if we ran in to each other, but I'd recognize him.

www.danieltruhitte.com

Mark said...

Guilty as charged -- I spent part of a day pestering The New York Times about the non-defunct-ness of the WCG, although as one commenter said, it is essentially defunct now -- particularly given the current membership numbers!

A telling of my correction odyssey is here: http://poynter.org/forum/view_post.asp?id=13059.