Monday, 7 July 2008

Journal on UCG changes

The latest issue of The Journal is on its way to subscribers, and as usual the front and back pages are available to interested persons as a free PDF download.

Recent developments in the governance of the United Church of God get detailed treatment: UCG members may find this a "not-to-be-missed" issue. There is also a report on the bizarre re-disfellowshipment of Fred Coulter by septuagenarian LCG presiding-guru Roderick C. Meredith.

Darlene Warren appears to be back in the editorial chair of the Connections section. Dennis Diehl again provides a stimulating column, this time on a church member's "bill of rights" (for another dose of Den check out Bible Roulette.) A tribute to the late J. Orlin Grabbe provides background on this colorful character.

37 comments:

UCG Critic said...

But in fact, especially beginning in December 1995, the council for the next decade steadily consolidated more and more responsibility and influence in itself and the administration and also, to significant degree, in elders as opposed to lay members.

This development, the consolidation of governmental power and authority with the council at the top, contrasts with the stated intentions of the church as explained to the founding elders (and others in attendance)at the conference in the spring of 1995.


Would this suggest that the UCG leadership actually lied and broke their promises?

Does not Scripture itself say to be wary of those who are changeable?

Is there a time anyone could actually depend on UCG to keep its promises?

Just how long such an organization last if it does not keep its committments to its own "members"?

Or are the "members" perfectly fine with United because they are using it for their own narcissistic source?

marketl@att.net said...

I highly recommend Dennis Diehl's bill of rights article. Great job, Dennis. This is good stuff. I especially like Dennis' reference to a church member's having his own opinion of the Iraq war which so many people in the Big Sandy area think is God's war. Puke.

Wes White
MARKETL@att.net

Anonymous said...

The Journal is still around? Wow.

Byker Bob said...

Gavin,

Is there any chance you could link to the piece on Orlin? I'm a bit surprised that the Journal would note his passing, since he was not an ACOG member since some time in the '70s, but Orlin did enjoy quite a spectacular life.

A young Orlin was sharp, confident, and he was a nice guy to boot. But, none of us who were his friends really were aware of his brilliance during the AC days. Let's just say that a MENSA chapter would never have been allowed on the AC campus!

BB

Richard said...

I see the UCG Critic's point to a degree. But I think it's more a matter of inertia than outright lying.

Old habits can be hard to break -- whether it's a sinful stronghold, or how you govern a congregation.

P.S. Someday I'll understand how an issue of The Journal can come out in July, and have an April 30 date on it. Most mainstream magazines date issues a few days ahead of printing schedule. Does this mean The Journal is living in the past? :-->

Gavin said...

BB

Sadly the Grabbe piece isn't online. The article includes a photo taken in 1990 and is titled "Harvard & AC grad, economist, physicist Orlin Grabbe dies." The guy was once editor of The Portfolio and is described as libertarian and anarchist. It mentions a bio article on Wikipedia.

CoG nonBob Critic said...

Wikipedia article
on J. Orlin Grabbe.


There is also his home page which might not be up much longer.

DennisDiehl said...

Orlin was always such a nice guy at AC. Being young and in that environment it would not have been easy to notice his outside the box intelligence and interests. I doubt he realized it himself until he was able to break free of the meme that binds, and be himself.

The two people I wish had taken this , at the time 22 year old, with them were Orlin and James Tabor.

In hind site, Top down groups like WCG are based on the unspoken view that intelligence and knowing is also from the top down. God knew the most, then Jesus, then HWA knew the most as a human (he knew the memes of his times) , then Ted...then sadly and of course, RCM and few other leading evangelists...ha ha. I don't know who the lowest human on the WCG governmental list was, but they must have been plum stupid!

You literally had to leave the church to develope your own authentic self and skills it seems. No, actually you did have to.

At any rate, Orlin was himself and as authentic as it gets. For better or worse, and in my view, which is the only one I have, and using human reason, which is the only kind I possess, that's a successful life.

I regret thinking I had to become like others when becoming oneself is more a spiritual goal.

Following this or that person as they think they are following this or that other person is such a game. Orlin did march to a different drummer so good on him!

Anonymous said...

It's hard to take the Journal seriously. Their articles and advertisements are like a freak show from hell. Every whining, malcontent, mentally unbalanced nut job of any COG CULT that ever existed has something to say. And the advertisements..... just bizarre. They all take themselves so very, very seriously it's funny.

When are they going to figure out no one really cares? But you have to hand it to the Journal, it's always good for a laugh and it does make for great toilet reading!

Anonymous said...

I agree about the dopey ads... but isn't it nice to know that - if someone has to subsidize the paper, including a lot of effective journalism in the main section - Dankenbring, Billingsley and their ilk are the ones to front up with oodles of cash? The ads are a joke, but the editorial content often provides a real service.

Robert said...

Armstrongism died in 1986 with the death of HWA. Whether or not we agree or disagree with its theology, none of the splinter groups can compare to the WCG in its heyday. When we consider that HWA was watched by millions, the PT millions in circulation. Today what remains of Armstrongism is nothing more than a shadow (typically a small remnant of faithful followers). Ironic that a man that was popular during his lifetime is now very much unpopular and unheard of by this generation.

The UCG may try to be like the old WCG in its form of government but it will always remain a rather insignificant group with little or no control in the Churches of God.

The catchphrase coined by PW Botha in the 1980s, "we must adapt or die". The UCG would do well to heed the warning, going back to any form of oppressive top down government is destined only to destroy what fragments remain.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

The old WCG with herbie at the helm *was* insignificant. herbie was popular only within an extraordinarily small segment of the world's population and the towns into which we flushed our 2nd tithes into their bars and restaurants during the "Fall Festival".

On topic: I am really unfamiliar with J. Orlin Grabbe and will defer to the experiences others here have had with him.
With regard to intelligence equating to your level within the armstrong hierarchy, Dennis really made me laugh. His post does have a basis in actual fact. For example, it seemed entirely likely that some people's role in the fictional 'world tomorrow' was going to be limited to holding up a yellow wand wrapped in strips of electrical tape to indicate when a driver had successfully negotiated a car into a parking spot and should apply the braking mechanism.

Killing Us Softly Church of God said...

Dennis Diehl said, "I don't know who the lowest human on the WCG governmental list was, but they must have been plum stupid!"

MY COMMENT - Dennis, the lowest human on the WCG governmental list was probably the most converted Christ like lay member who was just trying to make a living, and living a decent life while the WCG was sucking the financial life right out of them in order to support the Church executives' extravagant lifestyles. That is, when the WCG wasn't killing its members' with the stress of maintaining multiple tithe system and the demands of extra offerings (and, don't forget the building fund), or literally killing members with the ban on use of medical profession.

The fear religion buisiness is a very good business. Just ask Ron Weinland and the rat Dave Pack.

Richard

Kscribe said...

Excellent post Robert. The management of the UCG needs to find someone with the charisma of Herb or Teddy. In order to assimilate them into the tithe farm, there must be a personality draw. A fatherly figure. A authority figure. None of these are present in the cog's. Take a look at the YouTube wanna be cult leaders and you will see and hear a host of very boring individuals that lack the charm and cult of personality that the Armstrong's put forth.

Anonymous Anonymous Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's hard to take the Journal seriously. Their articles and advertisements are like a freak show from hell. Every whining, malcontent, mentally unbalanced nut job of any COG CULT that ever existed has something to say. And the advertisements..... just bizarre. They all take themselves so very, very seriously it's funny.

When are they going to figure out no one really cares? But you have to hand it to the Journal, it's always good for a laugh and it does make for great toilet reading!"

I Agree.

DennisDiehl said...

- "Dennis, the lowest human on the WCG governmental list was probably the most converted Christ like lay member who was just trying to make a living, and living a decent life.."

I was meaning my comment in the context of my humor and the impression that intelligence was from the top down. I did not mean it literally in the church.

The very finest people I ever met were in WCG and were the salt of the earth. They went above and beyond in so many things and helped each other often behind the scenes, in my experience. There was a time one could drive from one end of the country to the other and if you were in the church , and needed help, you could find it. Those days are certainly over.

So I hope you know I didn't really think that of the people in any reality. Most of my real friends as a minister were just folks in the church (and I don't mean the deacons and elder types!) and very few if any pastor types. I wasn't comfortable with most of them either..ha. It's true.

DennisDiehl said...

I know Dixon and the Journal pretty well. He has done all the COG's and those who have moved on a very nice service in reporting the goings on. The ads pay for the existence of the paper to be informative in areas of general interest in the COG's.

He's reported well on Weinland and the various problems in UCG with governance and drama and Dixon takes time to actually go to the events and such when he can to report accurately. He's been bounced out a meeting or two for just showing up to report.

So while the ads are really sermons and one group trying to pull others away to their true dust mite COG...the real purpose of the paper is in the reporting with the ads paying to keep it in existence.

Dixon needs to be thanked for what he does on paper in same way we thank Gavin for keeping AW going for people to process their experiences and have a say.

Anonymous said...

Richard,

I agree with your comment, but I did truly meet, within the 'ranks' some truly scary dumb people, a certain number of paranoids, and wife / child beaters to boot. armstrongist fundamentalism probably gave them a certain justification, at least in their minds.

I was not maligning, en masse, those at the bottom of the hierarchy. I offer my apologies to the each of you since it appears my post may have been taken that way. I shall try to choose my words more carefully.

larry said...

Dennis said....

"The very finest people I ever met were in WCG and were the salt of the earth. They went above and beyond in so many things and helped each other often behind the scenes, in my experience. There was a time one could drive from one end of the country to the other and if you were in the church , and needed help, you could find it. Those days are certainly over."

Hey Dennis, uh..those days are not over. I am still a member of the Church, and I still see this all the time. I think your perspective may be skewed. The "salt of the Earth" has been dispersed a little more, but it is not gone. It is awfully hard to destroy salt; it must be washed away.

Killing Us Softly Church of God said...

Charlie said, “Richard, I agree with your comment, but I did truly meet, within the 'ranks' some truly scary dumb people, a certain number of paranoids, and wife / child beaters to boot. armstrongist fundamentalism probably gave them a certain justification, at least in their minds.”

MY COMMENT – Oh absolutely, I agree with you a thousand percent Charlie.

I don’t think I have ever published on AW the following excerpt from my unpublished essay, “My Worldwide Church of God Reflections - 1972 in Prophecy: God’s Practical Joke?". We see the same behavior exhibited in some of the Journal advertisements. Here is my excerpt:

A Chosen People – A Peculiar People For Sure

Third, in retrospect, the Church seemed to attract some of the strangest and “fringe” members of society. To mention a few, I remember “the Rockefeller lady”. She believed Nelson Rockefeller controlled the whole world and was head of a secret organization known as “The Illuminati”. The belief was that this secret organization was trying to establish a new world government with Rockefeller as its head dictator. I remember a lady from West Virginia who took the Church’s ban against the use of cosmetics one step further. Apparently, she didn’t believe woman should be attractive at all – so she didn’t believe in shaving her legs! Grossly protruding out from under her dresses were the hairiest legs you’ve ever seen rivaling any of the ape characters in the movie Planet of the Apes.

Long after I had stopped attending, I still had some knowledge of Church people through
contact with my family members who remained in the Church after I departed in 1976. In the 1980s, there was a drifter that attended Church that my family gave work to. The drifter laced watermelon with the drug PCP and caused one of my family members to be drugged and hospitalized. A couple years later, the same drifter walked into a Montgomery Wards and went to a gun rack in the sporting goods section, loaded a gun and blew his brains out. There was a tax cheat in the Church that was about to go to prison for tax evasion, who also committed suicide. Suffice it to say, the Worldwide Church had more than its fair share of weirdoes!

The website, “The Painful Truth”, is a collection of writings from peoples’ experiences in the Worldwide Church of God. There is a page that lists instances of suicides in the Worldwide Church. I can add the name Nancy N. to the list - a friend of my sister in law in the Worldwide Church. One day, Nancy N. jumped into the Potomac River and drowned near Washington – believed to be a suicide since she could not swim and went to the river alone. The Potomac is known for having a swift current. I seem to recall a statement made in Church during the announcement of her death that we were not to form judgment (meaning lake of fire and eternal death judgment). More than thirty years later, I now form the opinion that it was a shame the young woman didn’t have a healthy church she could turn to in her time of need for support during any personal difficulties she might have been having. I also wonder what affect the Church’s doomsday message had on her state of mind.

In fairness, the Church also had some of the nicest people I‘ve ever met. These people
were found in the Church’s rank and file and certainly not found in their ministry. These good rank and file members were very submissive people who did whatever Armstrong and the ministers told them to do – including foregoing their own future comfort and retirement in order to provide the Church’s business executives with a lifetime of
income and financial support to pay for their lavish lifestyles, comfortable retirements, corporate jets, choice real estate, and Garner Ted’s gambling debts and prostitutes (all in the name of God, of course).

End of Excerpt

Richard

AggieAtheist said...

"There was a time one could drive from one end of the country to the other and if you were in the church , and needed help, you could find it. Those days are certainly over."

Well isn't that a very "On Waldon Pond" view of the rose-coloured past Dennis? I don't recall there EVER being a time like that.

Members of the church were more likely to stab you in back when you weren't looking, if you or your family did not meet their stringent criteria for "truly converted" (like having an unconverted family member for instance, or if a family member was a person with disabilities).

"I agree with your comment, but I did truly meet, within the 'ranks' some truly scary dumb people, a certain number of paranoids, and wife / child beaters to boot. armstrongist fundamentalism probably gave them a certain justification, at least in their minds."

I agree with Charlie. That was the church I grew up in. Not the bucolic "every member of your fellowship will step up to help you" idyll that Dennis pictures.

As for intelligence, as I have reassured others on other forums, it has nothing to do with intelligence, and everything to do with thought reform.

Anonymous said...

I guess there were many different WCG experiences. I really did experience first-hand what Dennis mentioned -- as a single young man in the 1970s I traveled around the country (U.S.) quite a bit, and church people were very generous and giving and offered genuine hospitality. I tried to do the same for people, and still do. You did have to filter out the weirdos, I agree.

Byker Bob said...

This concept of brotherhood in the WCG was an ideal or myth. I did have some very fine friends in WCG, but these people were the types of people who would have been my friends whether we were Buddhists, Jehovah Witnesses, or Hare Krishnas. It was a vibe or personality thing that ran deeper than a superficial thing like what church we happened to belong to.

Yes, I did run across some random acts of kindness occasionally as a WCG member, but normally whenever I was in need of help, it was outsiders who stepped up to the plate.

As an example, every year when we went to the Feast of Tabernacles, we were told to look at broken down cars for the orange FT sticker, and to stop and help one another. I recall several instances of breaking down during my years as a member, and watching incredulously as car after car with this sticker passed us by. Total strangers helped us, in one case driving us to the next town where we could purchase brake shoes, and taking us back to our vehicle. In that case, we had a newborn daughter with us, just old enough to be legally attending the Feast.

If the Holy Spirit had ever been present in WCG, or if that had actually been "God's True Church" acts of sacrifice and kindness for one another would have been the rule rather than the exception. Any organization which lifts "Let the dead bury the dead" from it's proper context, and uses that as its all purpose paradigm for dealing with outsiders is not going to suddenly reverse itself and make exceptions for insiders. Just imagine how the New Testament would read if Jesus had never spoken with or healed "outsiders".

I've seen better examples of brotherhood and random acts of kindness within the motorcycle community than I ever did at WCG. I've literally had 5 or 10 other bikers stop to help when they saw me broken down. And, I've stopped for others, as well.

BB

Anonymous said...

"Armstrongism died in 1986 with the death of HWA."

No it didn't. In case you haven't noticed, it's alive and well. If it were dead, AW and other sites like it probably wouldn't exist.


Paul Ray

Corky said...

Aah, WCG nostalgia. I remember some good folks in the WCG, most of those left when I did. I think that "1975 in Prophecy" was the last straw for a lot of folks.

There was a big split about that same time, I never did even want to know what the difference was, I just wanted out.

I never experienced any of the splits and splinters, thankfully. I can't imagine why anyone would want to leave a cult they know is wrong to join themselves to a split of the same cult. As the root, so are the branches.

Later, I looked at the root of all of Christendom and decided that the branches are just as rotten. It's all a 2,000 year old myth that has its root in very ancient paganism.

Today's Christendom is only the end product of ancient sun worship and volcano sacrificing. Hardly anyone today knows that Mt. Ararat, the volcano of Noah fame, was once one of sites of ancient worship from which the law was given to mankind from the gods of ancient Ur in Sumeria.

Sue said...

Have to comment here...I have seen both types in WCG and UCG. There was definately a mixed bag. Back in the 60's when I was a teen...my dad was in a very bad accident and had his leg crushed (not just broken, but the bone literally crushed). He had a foot to thigh cast for 14 months and could not work. It was the church folks who really kept us supplied with food and other necessities. A farmer brought a cooler full of beef when they butchered and the list would just go on and on. I do not remember the pastor ever doing anything in particular to help though. He was there advising my dad what he should and should not let the doctors do though.

I saw many times when others had something like that happend and others pitched in to help out.

But I have also seen the back stabbing that has been mentioned...

I just don't think you can paint the folks in any of the COG's with a broad brush. There are some who would give you the shirt off their back, and there are those who could not care less about anyone elses trials in this life.

Sue

Anonymous said...

Dennis Diehl sail "So while the ads are really sermons and one group trying to pull others away to their true dust mite COG...the real purpose of the paper is in the reporting with the ads paying to keep it in existence."

Let's see. It seems to me that anyone who takes money from freako nut jobs and prints ads for them, is indeed supporting them and helping their cause. But that is all okay as long as you use the money to "report" the truth of what goes on in the COG's.

Isn't that kind of like taking money from the devil so you can afford to preach the true gospel? Or maybe a more appropriate analogy would be someone who chooses to read Playboy just for the articles. Geeeze Louise!

Richard said...

Back on topic: You've gotta love that headline in the Journal -- about Fred Coulter being "disfellowshipped for third time,"

It almost belongs in The Onion.

But does three strikes mean you're REALLY out?

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote: It seems to me that anyone who takes money from freako nut jobs and prints ads for them, is indeed supporting them and helping their cause.

Reality check - welcome to the world of advertising... on TV, radio, the Internet, mainstream mags. How does advertising kooky religious views differ from cigarettes, obesity-inducing fast food, political parties, whatever.

I love the Journal ads: nobody reads them because they're wordy, dense, poorly designed (these turkeys learned nothing from ad-man HWA in this department.) They effectively drain away finances from the nut-jobs into a relatively harmless side-channel. And yes, they're funny - even though that's unintentional.

Ned

AggieAtheist said...

Disagree that the Wacko Connections section is "mostly harmless": For it is not money being "drained from the nutjobs", rather it is money being drained from the sheep who are following those nutjobs instead.

Puts a different perspective on things, doesn't it?

larry said...

2 Things:

First, I find it amazing, Gavin, that you are able to keep up with all this stuff. If you don't mind me asking, how do you do it? And especially, why?
Does managing a blog like this affect your life? And how much time does it take?

Quite possibly, you have answered these questions before, but I am new here. Please humor me.

Secondly, it is curious to see all this talk about the "cult" of "Armstrongism" when the world is truly being threatened by the largest and oldest Satanic cult of all, Islam. I suggest that folks ought to be directing their words of warning to the Western civilized world because we are at war. Those who have been proclaiming that there is great spiritual warfare afoot and coming (Mr. HWA among them) certainly look prophetic now. Dr. Hoeh always said that the end times would begin at the spirit level and realm before they affected mankind. The amount of irrationality building on this planet is startling. We have a whacko in the Middle East attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, and after 60 years of fighting Communism, the USA is about to elect one President. Truly, only God can save us.

Dixon Cartwright said...

Someone asked about the article in The Journal about Orlin Grabbe. Following is the full text of the article:

AC and Harvard grad, economist, physicist Orlin Grabbe dies

By Dixon Cartwright

J. Orlin Grabbe, 60, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God, died unexpectedly at his home in San Jose, Costa Rica, on or about March 15, 2008, of an apparent heart attack.

Mr. Grabbe, who was born in Hale County, Texas, in 1947, graduated from Ambassador College, Pasadena, Calif., in 1970 and the University of California at Berkeley in 1976. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1981.

In Pasadena Mr. Grabbe was editor of the student newspaper, The Portfolio. In later life he wrote a widely circulated article about his years at AC called "Memories of Pasadena," which is available at tinyurl.com/52nmnn.

After AC Mr. Grabbe pursued his interests in science, especially mathematics. According to an article about him at Wikipedia.com, he "specialized in the study of financial derivative instruments and published important pricing models for futures, forward contracts and options, especially in the foreign exchange (FX) markets."

In 1986, while a faculty member at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he wrote a book, International Financial Markets, still frequently cited as a reference for financial traders.

Mr. Grabbe politically was a libertarian and anarchist and, in later years from his home in Costa Rica (where he had moved in 1998), maintained a colorful and even outrageous Web site that featured his own writings and links to other articles and posts on science, political intrigue, philosophy, quantum physics and metaphysics.

He had edited a weekly online newspaper, The Laissez Faire Electronic Times, for two years beginning in 2002.

As noted at Wikipedia, the underlying theme in Mr. Grabbe's works was "chaos": the study of chaotic disorder in the form of "noise" in market pricing.

In financial markets, and in other areas of endeavor, he considered that a false dichotomy had grown up between order and chaos, "where induced fear of the horrors of total chaos is the favorite tool of those who seek power to enforce their own order on others."

Mr. Grabbe researched, and questioned, the official versions of controversial events, including the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the death in 1993 of Vince Foster, deputy White House counsel during the Clinton administration.

For example, Mr. Grabbe concluded that Mr. Foster was murdered rather than committed suicide. See his article at tinyurl.com/6o3u6t.

Another article by Mr. Grabbe is "When Osama Bin Laden Was Tim Osman," at tinyurl.com/ac5j4.

Although not mentioned in the Wikipedia article, some Internet sources refer to Mr. Grabbe as having worked as a young man for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

A slogan at the top of the homepage of Mr. Grabbe's now-inactive site declared that "opposition to tyrants is obedience to God."

Mr. Grabbe's survivors include two brothers, Lester Grabbe, a professor of theology at the University of Hull in England, and Crockett Grabbe, a physics professor at the University of Iowa, and sisters Rhonda and Susan, both of Texas.

Questeruk said...

Despite leaving WCG decades ago, I did hear that Orlin Grabbe was attending the feast of tabernacles in Costa Rica in recent years.

Anonymous said...

Well at least, we know by Larry's latest little screed that Junior and the mothership are still pushing prophecy, albeit in an underhanded manner.

(Wait, what was I thinking?? When has anything ever been done by Junior and Weazell that was not underhanded?)

Anonymous said...

to aggieathiest who said....
"Well isn't that a very "On Waldon Pond" view of the rose-coloured past Dennis? I don't recall there EVER being a time like that.

Members of the church were more likely to stab you in back when you weren't looking.."

I do not agree, and agree with Dennis on this. People in the church were very hospitable in putting up people all across the country whom they did not know. Ministers were also hospitable at times depending on whom they were.

Whether it was Texas, CA, Iowa, Illinois, Washington State, the deep south, the north east, people were friendly, struggling, but willing to help. It was some in the administration who seemed to be the ones who resisted helping others. They had an 'it was their problem' mentality.

Sadly, there were brethren who may have felt compelled to help others when they could not afford to do so and some took advantage of generosity and kindness. For sure, there were backstabbers, aggie, were you one of them?

AggieAtheist said...

"For sure, there were backstabbers, aggie, were you one of them?"

No.

larry said...

Purple Hymnal,
What your analysis shows is that you don't know squat! My posts here represent my opinions and are in no way reflective of the opinions and/or doctrines of the WCG. As a matter of fact, the Church goes to extremes these days to not discuss prophecy. This is primarily due to a history of being misunderstood on these matters.