Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Art of Foolish Preaching

by Dennis Diehl

I’ve heard a lot of foolish preaching in my time. Bathsheba was named so because David lusted after her while she was taking a bath. A man was found days after being swallowed (200 year old urban legend). Scientists have found missing time in the universe and it must be because Joshua stopped the earth from rotating for about a day to kill more of Israel’s enemies, and so on. The examples of foolish stories given to illustrate the mythologies of the Bible are endless.

In the COG ministry, those most given to foolish preaching tend to give the longest sermons on the most speculative of topics. Rambling is raised to an art form.

But there is a style of preaching that beats them all. Ron Weinland, the dominant half of the Two Witnesses spoken of by John the Divine, or at least John on Drugs, in the book of Revelation, has a style that works very well to keep the human mind's unconscious marginally informed by the foolishness of preaching.

Let’s notice how this kind of preaching programs the mind. There is no real content in this style. There is no real theology, no historical understanding or truth of any matter for the most part. It is meme (mind virus) stimulation misusing the Bible as the feed and the member as the fodder.

Let’s take a look at the example of foolish preaching from a recent sermon.

After noting that he will be speaking in upcoming weeks in Detroit, he says that he will confine his Church visits to the South and won’t be traveling north in winter due to unpredictable traveling weather. Detroit? If I had been a teen in that audience, I’d have busted up. It’s February. Who moved Detroit?

“Sometimes we may expect big things to happen…but that’s not how it works.” This implies he knows just how it really works when he has no clue how it works.

“All of these are thunders…the worst drought in 50 years.” Why do we fail to ask, “Well, 50 years ago must have been a Thunder that pooped out.” Kinda like today being the hottest day since 1921. Well, it got hot then so what’s the big deal?

“New people can go to the interviews and that can be a stumbling block to some..” Ya think?

“There are questions that can be EASILY answered.” Not really. One can give easy answers but easy and correct are not the same thing.

“We are the only true Church that is God’s.” No comment

“ God is leading his Church and me as his end time prophet.” And you know this?

“As I teach, and lead and guide the church….we yield.” Well except that part about if found false anything less than quitting preaching is insane.

“That was inspiring and exciting..” This spoken in light of God not allowing Ron to give a sermon on Trumpets that would prove not to be true.

“People came to understand and see…the vast majority did.” Are you sure?

“This is exciting… all stated in these interviews concerning these time lines ...does not in any matter take away from my role as end time prophet... I hope we understand that.” Uh huh

“It’s not our choice.” No Ron, it is our choice. Life is choices.

“Do you know what God’s purpose in doing that was? These trials serve to bring to the surface impurities.” And you know this? Maybe they bring foolishness to the surface.

“There are sins in people’s lives that they are not addressing as they should be. cannot receive more that God has for us.” You know, blame the member for questioning sermon content and accuracy.

“God has given one year, 2008, as a type of the past 6000 years.” Uh huh

“The 50th truth did change the all the major timing in the interviews.” Phew! Close call there on me being a false prophet.

“It would be wise for you to listen…” Or not…

“No one contacted me back. They don’t want to go into this.” Yes they do.

“What became clear was that he wanted me to declare myself a false prophet…nothing happened.” How unreasonable.

“Why go into explaining anything to them…they don’t even keep the Sabbath.” Doh! What were we thinking!

“They can’t handle the truth.” Either can you.

“There is no need to have anymore..” (interviews) Yes there is.

We get the point. This style of preaching simply reminds people of how they are to think. It is liberally sprinkled with “God wants us to know.” “It is obvious to us as God’s people.” “You have to have the Spirit of God to even begin to understand what has happened.” “I think we all understand this even if others don’t.” “We know…” and many other such phrases that make the audience feel either special or at least unwilling to wonder why they don’t feel this way.

It is mind virus contagion at its best and worst. It does make people sick and they do spread the infection to others until it runs its course.

It’s one style of foolish preaching. Any others that come to mind?


Mike (Don't Drink the Flavor Aid) said...

My hat is off to you Dennis. You've managed to concisely capture Ronnie's foolishness in a humorous style. I'm jealous!!!

Are your funeral plans and will up to date? You've just made yourself eligible for the Witless's latest invocation of his curse. But if my experience is a predictor, you have at least 53 days before you speedily die from the inside.

Anonymous said...

Listening to preachers ain't my cup o'tea, so I don't. It's not rebellion against authority; it's rejection of nonsense. Not always, of course, but too often it spews from mouths of men without authority speaking from imaginary positions of authority. It is an enormous sadness. We all know this; even the preachers know this (or they should), yet they continue to allow themselves the cruel charade, in Christ's name, no less.

Too many preachers cannot warm up to disagreement from a layperson, no matter how right the person might be. For some outrageously bad reason they cannot take pride in the sometimes quite superior knowledge of congregants, to the disgrace of preachers and profound discouragement of laypersons.

"Because I said so" began, at puberty, to lose its gravitas for all of us. Yet I've known preachers who expect congregants to bow and scrape at their words, no matter how impossibly wrong they might be. This is a totally bewildering, spiritually blinding, infinitely frustrating conundrum springing from the ineptitude of men who should know better, whose inane posturing drives thinking people away from God -- when in fact it should only drive them away from the arrogance of bad preachers.

They're infallible, you know, just like certain Popes of the past -- even when the preacher down the road, same church, same "rank," rejects the other man's blather out of hand. Oi!

More often than not these would-be great ones work from standard translations and translations CANNOT always be right; they can only be best attempts at approximate accuracy.

At the beginning of his superb translation, Aryeh Kaplan says, "It is with great trepidation that one begins a translation of the Torah. ... every single word has infinite significance and depth." This infinite depth cannot be brought into other languages and remain of practical size.

For example, the AV says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

But the Hebrew means something much more like, "The beginning was created by the Godly spirit of law and order; it was a fiery-liquid (gaseous vapor) to be formed into stellar bodies and an earth. And the part potentially to become the earth was primal matter, all earthly raw within it; the deep all around the mass was darkness, and a forceful wind fronting the volume of the liquid stuff on all its faces was carrying and revolving it very swiftly."

That pretty well settles the gap theory -- and begins to reveal the source of so much scientific disagreement with the Bible. There really is none. Science disagrees with translations that mean well, but are only translations, after all. And would-be prophets take errors a step farther, adding their own peculiar spin, one might opine, in exchange for a buck or two from innocents. This puzzles me. Is there no fear of judgment in men who claim to represent God?

References: The Living Torah by Aryeh Kaplan; the Nachmanides Torah commentary (Shilo Ed.); In the Beginning, the Bible Unauthorized by H. Moose.

Anonymous said...

One from my pre-WCG days - add appropriate accent and dramatic delivery:

There's nothing in the Bible that says Jesus can't come tonight! - there's nothing in the Bible to say a lot of things can't happen...

Dennis said...

Sorry...should have said..."a man was swallowed by a whale in the 1700's and survived just fine after being freed two later when the whale was killed."

Thanks Mike..well I figure we all get to drop off the conveyor belt sooner or later. Even if you make it all the still drop off the end :) Now..our job is to wonder if there is a basket to catch us and package us up for a return trip or not.

I understand Ron Weinland having soaked in his world too long as minister. He is on auto pilot in his mind cutting and pasting the scriptures together into a scenario that places himself in the center. A man that talks so much about humility is struggling, IMHO, with his ego and self importance. Kinda like Dave Pack saying he is "not about numbers," when I have known Dave personally to be about nothing but "the numbers" and I can give you amazing examples of such behaviors.

Around here preechers can't pronounce "calvary" but rather opt for the "Cavalry" which as we know, is a large group of soldiers on horses coming to one's rescue. Many also encourage us all to "borned again" and that they they have been "borned again" since they were six. Some I am sure feel "borned again" before they were born at all. Well the Apostle Paul did..:)

Dennis said...

PPS argh..sorry for the typos..I was writing and listening to Ron at the same time.

I've probably shared this along the way, but once in a sermon, I was talking about how we can't afford to have "splits and schisms" in the church..blah blah. However, it came out "Shits and Splisms" Hoo Dixon Cartwright always says! We all had a good laugh and then I recovered by noting that there were "some shits" in the church...
nuther "hoo ha."

Go to for the most hilarious of foolish preaching I have ever seen. He got fired.

Juan Rheinland said...

Mr Weinland is stuck having to reinterpret for his followers his prophetic and theological gaffes.

Since he is not wrong, he has to keep telling the members how to properly interpret what seems to be wrong but isn't. ("Its Spiiiritual")

Ron can't take inaccurate speculations in Interviews off his site as that would be an admission of his being less than inspired. So he gives the impression they "have to stay there," almost as a historical document while he respins why they were still correct. However, if you aren't reprogrammed as new people would not be, then he admits they could have a problem. They would not know 50th truth, which as far as I can tell is "As Prophet, God has given me the authority to spin things as needed since time is short or not depending.'

What's probable is that if Ron was taking medication he'd probably give a sermon entitled, "Brethren, I am so sorry. I don't know what I was thinking or where I get these delusions."

His constant nervous laugh all throughout the sermons he gives indicate, to me, an inner tension looking for validation from the audience. But that's just because I know why I tended to do it at times.

Deb said...

Dennis, I always enjoy reading your contributions - Thank you.

Here is another title you might consider, He He

"Prophecy for Profit"


Juan Rheinland said...

Once Mr and Mrs. Weinland hit Jerusalem for the 3.5 year endrun it will sound like this...

"Good afternoon everyone....hello? Over here please. May I have you're attention. Hello? You sir...come here.... (nervous laugh) We are the one true Prophets that are God's. Exuse me...hello? You there...come listen...

"Ok that's it! I am smiting you all spiiiiritually. You just don't get it...ok, not all die slowly quickly for that. Hey hey! Who threw the falafel?"

"ahem...exuse me...may I have your attention..?"

"Uh comes security...Let's beat it before we end up in that hospital and deported...."

Jerusalem Syndrome.

Dr. Yair Bar El et al. claimed[1] that there is a specific syndrome which emerges in tourists who have no previous psychiatric history. However, this has been disputed, especially by Dr. Moshe Kalian and Prof. Eliezer Witztum.[2][3] They stressed that nearly all of the tourists who demonstrated the described behaviours were already mentally ill prior to their arrival to Jerusalem. Further, of the small proportion alleged to have exhibited spontaneous psychosis after arrival in Jerusalem, there was no evidence presented that they had previously been well.

The Ministry of Mr. Ron Weinland is indeed a TYPE.

Type I

"Jerusalem syndrome imposed on a previous psychotic illness. This refers to individuals already diagnosed as having a psychotic illness before their visit to Jerusalem. They have typically gone to the city because of the influence of religious ideas, often with a goal or mission in mind that they believe needs to be completed on arrival or during their stay. For example, an affected person may believe himself to be an important historical religious figure or may be influenced by important religious ideas or concepts (such as causing the coming of the Messiah or the second coming of Christ)."

M T Hall said...

Ron made the same mistake with "The Prophecied End Time and 2008" that WCG made with "1975 In Prophecy."

He is stuck with a book with an obsolete date on it that will cause any thinking person to not even pick it up as outdated and just like all other failed religious views. He endeavors to salvage the wreck with the 5oth Truth.

Ron repairs his mistakes with new truths. If all else fails, he falls into the trap of "God has given us more time...that's exciting and as your prophet will be even more effective..." blah blah.

He's toast that has just not popped up yet...

jack635 said...

using the word "virus" to describe Ronald Weinland's antics is a most excellent choice. After the virus spreads it causes the wallet to crash!

Dennis said...

RW is a walking, breathing meme, which is a mind virus. Saying "Things go better with Coke," or that a cigarette is a "pause that refreshes" is no different a meme than "and we know what God is doing in his true church. It's incredible," or "I know I am a prophet."

It's designed, consciously but probably more unconsciously to get the reaction "oh..that's right, ok, I can relax" and before you know it, you get infected and it didn't even hurt or require you to do any homework, much less think it through.

Ron's mission along with the membership is to spread the virus and warn them NOT to take their flu shots or pay any attention to those that advocate them. Gnome sayin? :)

John 3:16 said...

Ron Weinland's absurd, immoderate, insipid sermons are loaded with bull- Waterhousian inspired, damnable, rambling homelitics, larded down with hermaneutical problems.

Two solid hours of your life, wasted forever on premillenialist, rodomite, dispensational mental masturbation.


Juan Rheinland said...

Ron noted:

"“Why go into explaining anything to them…they don’t even keep the Sabbath."

Sadly and of course, this kind of reasoning also undoes Ron's need to be one of the Two Witnesses to the whole world who also mostly "don't even keep the Sabbath."

End of career Ron...

Burning Down The House said...

Dennis said, "In the COG ministry, those most given to foolish preaching tend to give the longest sermons on the most speculative of topics. Rambling is raised to an art form."

MY COMMENT - Dennis, I am not going to mention any names, but did you know "Waterhouse" means "go water the house of God"?


Purple Hymnal said...

"Jerusalem syndrome imposed on a previous psychotic illness."

I didn't buy it during Round One, and I certainly don't buy it during Round Two. (I definitely won't buy it when he winds up for Round Three.)

Ronald Weinland is NOT nuts. Crazy like a fox, maybe, but he absolutely has every single one of his marbles firmly in place.

They are only in it for the money.

"Now for something completely different" said...

Dave Pack's way to repackage the same old, same old:

"I've never given a sermon quite like this before..." - How? Standing on your head?

Rachael said...

If Ron were really smart he would spin it as his prophecies are not about the end of the world, just about the end of the banking and financial world as we know it. Of course he probably already asked for everyone's savings and 401(k)'s, so maybe no one in his church realized that the rest of us have lost all those things.

Anonymous said...

"1975 in Prophecy," as I remember, was the title of a movie HWA saw, and thought the title was catchy enough to give a real hook to his booklet. It was not intended to set dates.

Another such move followed his staying at the Ambassador Hotel in New York City. He thought its name had a classy ring to it. Voila! Ambassador College -- a name from which countless speeches took inspiration, emphasizing the role of AC students as ambassadors for Christ. All because HWA liked the name of a certain NYC hotel.

A booklet title and the name of a college, both borrowed from other entities for their catchy "ring," and raised thereafter, by all sorts of seers, to prophetic significance.

I remember people hanging around the Pasadena Hall of Administration until midnight, December 31, 1972, a date conjured retroactively from the booklet title. They wanted to be on the spot for a call to start packing for Petra. But HWA had gotten the title from a movie, and so far as I knew, was home asleep.

When the church didn't fly to Petra in 72 and Jesus didn't appear in 75, one might have asked why so much emphasis was placed on those dates, given their arbitrary source. I've never heard an answer to that question.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:23 re: 1975

I wrote for 1975 around 1967. On radio GTA's spin on the title was that it was a satire on an article that predicted we'd be living like The Jetsons in 1975. He implied the date should be treated as one would George Orwell's 1984.

The booklet was published in 1956; I'm not sure when 1972 was pegged as the end date. The earliest reference I remember was in Dr Hoeh's History of the True Church, published in 1959, but there were earlier claims on the date.

Years later, GTA admitted that by the late 1960s he started to distance himself from 1972 and Petra.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:51, your info may well be better than mine. What I mainly remember was your point as well, that HWA's 1975 was no more intended as a firm date than the Jetson 1975 or the Orwell 1984. It just got a lot of undue attention, and still does, completely without merit.

Charlie said...

Anon 10:46,

I have no doubt that armstrong never believed in 1972 ro 1975, especially given the fact that he was really pushing the building program at the time. 1972 and 1975 were pushed hard on the membership though...It was the best way to keep the seats filled and the tithes, offerings, and building fund donations rolling in.

It is amazing what people will give and believe from a man clutching a bible.

There was even a fair amount of rumblings within the church about what could possibly happen on that day back in the 80's when all the planets in our solar system were 'aligned'. I don't recall hearing anything from the pulpit on that subject, to be fair about it though...just from the, shall we say, less 'balanced' in the congregation.

Agent Double O Soul said...

If 1975 was not a firm date, that "fact" was certainly lost on our family, and our circle of Radio Church of God friends. My siblings and I grew up "knowing" that we probably would never know the pleasures of marriage, seeing as we'd be in the "place of safety" prior to or early into adulthood, to be instantly changed into spirit beings in 1975.

I can see where revisionist white-washers "need" to believe that all of the talk of 1975 was not solid prophecy, and to compare it all to the Jetsons, but that was the later spin which was put upon this massive failure of Herbert W. (I am not a prophet) Armstrong's false prophecies.

I submit that it would be educational to read the Wikipedia article on HWA, and then read the complete file behind the article. That will provide insight as to the lengths people will go to rehabillitate their "Apostle", despite his massive failure in nearly all ways except financial.


Corky said...

It wasn't just the booklet, 1975 in Prophecy, it was all the sermons about those same dates and other booklets with the same dates.

1972 was figured from the 7 times of the gentiles in Daniel (2520 years). Too bad there are some here with such bad memories that they can't remember all the preaching about 1972 and Petra.

Anonymous said...

OO - "pleasures of marriage" -- always the currently dominant thought of lads in the WCG...

Along with the lay interest and misunderstanding of the then soon-coming syzygy, some young (and need I say unmarried) men had another twist on doctrine. As marriage was pushed so strongly, they speculated that on Christ's return, they would be allowed to be married for one week before their entry into "the kingdom".

Worldwide Church of Fraud said...

Corky said, “It wasn't just the booklet, 1975 in Prophecy, it was all the sermons about those same dates and other booklets with the same dates.”

MY COMMENT - I agree with Agent Double O Soul, Charlie and Corky.

In addition, as we were repeatedly told, 1972 was two 19 year time cycles from the start of the “Philadelphia era” in 1934 when HWA went on KORE radio in Eugene Oregon. There was no doubt tom those who lived and witnessed the WCG at that time that 1972 was a literal deadline date when the tribulation would begin, and then Christ would return in 1975.


Anonymous said...

Dennis mentioned Bathsheba in his article and while her taking a bath was the what some called the reason for her name Willie Dankenbring says she was descended from Sheba. Bathsheba meaning daughter of sheba. He links Solomon as a descendant of Sheba or Ethiopia. The article is about the current president so I will not go any further on that subject.

Anonymous said...

Agent Double O, I'm not covering for HWA or playing revisionist games. I was a fairly early student at AC and heard this talk on campus during the mid 50s, long before the 1972-1975 dates "failed." The title, 1975 in Prophecy, was chosen for its eye-catching qualities and never was intended to set dates.

On the other hand, we had no scarcity of superstitious folks, including Gerald Waterhouse, who assigned prophetic significance to virtually anything, from the names of Pasadena restaurants to the names of Popes (and all points inbetween).

One minister told us of demonic influence in the name of a California town where Holydays were being observed. Lodi is Idol spelled backwards, and he could feel the sinister influences in the air around us. Shucks, maybe he was right -- but I'd not want to submit that concept to peer review. And please don't tell him that god is dog spelled backwards.

If local ministers were rolling on that bandwagon, then many in their congregations might tragically have fallen heir to the same nonsense. By now one trusts that they've learned how empty that kind of trust can be. But that doesn't change the fact that the booklet with 1975 on its cover, in big red letters, was no more intended to set firm dates than Orwell's 1984.

Anonymous said...

** 1972 was figured from the 7 times of the gentiles in Daniel (2520 years). **

Well Corky, sort of.

Armstrong said he began his "ministry in 1934, exactly 100 "time cycles" after Jesus' resurrection, with each time cycle being 19 years. (Hey, this made for really good Armstrongology.)

Now then, God had alloted Armstrong just two time cycles to preach the gospel, which takes us to 1972. Add in 3+ years for the Great Trib, and there you have the date of 1975.

But wait, there's more! Originally God had only alloted Armstrong one time cycle of 19 years for preaching the gospel. So, 1934 + 19 = 1953. But when this date came and went (and no Beastie Power was yet in existence) Armstrong had another "revelation" that extended this "mission" for one more time cycle.

And that's when I got involved in his religious schtick. :-(

And when that date came and went . . . well . . . some of us started looking for the end of the 3rd time cycle, or 1991. Or the 4th time cycle, ending in 2008. Or the 5th time cycle, ending in 2027.

"A religious sucker is born every minute!"
- P.T. Armstrong (Herb's long lost circus cousin).

Purple Hymnal said...

"I don't recall hearing anything from the pulpit on that subject, to be fair about it though...just from the, shall we say, less 'balanced' in the congregation."

The planetary alignments, and who can forget Halley's Comet?! It wasn't preached from the pulpit, but a large enough segment of the lay-ministry in my congregation certainly spread the feeling amongst the membership that these events was god's way of sending cosmic signals.

Some twenty years since Halley graced our skies last, and the planets all lined up, and no Kingdom yet.

They may not have been setting dates by the time I was born into the church, but I can certainly remember them preaching about Petra!

Agent Double O Soul said...

Well, apparently by the time the '60s rolled around, members' and ministers' imaginations had had an opportunity to run wild with all of this numerology, because in Bible Study, sermons, and even AC Bible classes, some Ross Perot-like charts and timelines were trotted out on a regular basis. They all seemed to support 1972-1975.

There was a dichotomy aspect to all of this, too! On one hand we were continuously subjected to end-time fever, yet the building program on campus ran full steam ahead as if the end were never going to come! Still, I remember some of the unordained students purchasing automobiles upon graduation, and speculating that they'd probably last them until the end.

But, the speculative nature of the RCG during the '50s does not surprise me in the least, since David Jon Hill wrote in his memoirs concerning students in class speculating about linguistics in Europe supposedly tracing the wanderings of the lost tribes of Israel, and then finding that these ended up in the USBCIP booklet. And, then there was Loma Armstrong's famous reading of a certain National Geographic, resulting in the Petra doctrine.


Purple Hymnal said...

"....they would be allowed to be married for one week before their entry into "the kingdom"."

I thought all the singles were supposed to take solace in the fact that they were part of "the bride of christ"??

Or maybe I just hung out with too many pious singles.......

Caution said...

Dennis said, "A man that talks so much about humility is struggling, IMHO, with his ego and self importance. Kinda like Dave Pack saying he is "not about numbers," when I have known Dave personally to be about nothing but "the numbers" and I can give you amazing examples of such behaviors."

I agree with the statement on Dave Pack. I was with his group for 3+ years and I can tell you that he really "blows" the "growth" way out of proportion. Tithing is tied into just about every sermon that the members hear; if you do not tithe, basically your eternal life is at stake. If he is caught doing something wrong or illegal he hides behind his booklet "Should Accusers Be Answered?"; Most of his faithful first time staff (and quite a few members) in RCG are about 90% of them gone (Kinda like Hitler's people who helped him into power).

Dennis, I do read a lot of your articles, even though I may not completelty agree with you on everything, you still have a good sense about you.

Anonymous said...

Herbert would be proud of Ronnie,"this is my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased." carry on Ron fleece the flock.

Anonymous said...

PH "too many pious singles"

Perhaps I mixed with the "wild bunch" -- pious, but wild...

Another gem I overheard was if, umm, self-abuse was okay if you were thinking about your wife. Once again, these guys weren't married...

Anonymous said...

Caution - re: Dave and the numbers racket

I watched Dave Pack's "broadcast" on Tithing, and, ho-hum, the churches don't teach it (really?) or got it wrong (only 10%) etc.

Then I finally got around to Doc Martin's Tithing Dilemna. Interesting and detailed stuff, and it shows how we fell for Herb's triple-tithing phantasy. Then watching Dave's Tithing pt 2, rather than same old, it was hilarious, using the arguments the late doc said would be used.

Dill Weed said...

Hats off to you , Dennis.

It was like listening to it again. LOL

Dill Weed

nuclearsmile said...

I have been free of the church for about four years now. Whenever I have moments of questioning whether or not it was the right decision, or if I should ever consider returning to church (or religion of any kind), I just remind myself of the Armstrong directives:
(1) “Don’t believe me, believe the Bible!”
(2) “If you find me being untrue to the Word of God, reject me as God’s apostle!”
(3) “Truth only comes into the Church through apostles.”
Even if circumstances in my life were to ever again point me in the direction of a “higher power,” I will never again do any of the following:
(1) Expect to find all (or any) answers in a book supposedly written under “divine inspiration” (There may be a god, but he will have to speak plain English to me this time around – no “Verily, verily,” thank you very much).
(2) Look for a church (or any other organization) that has the right version of those answers (There may be a god, but if he wants to play “hide and seek,” I’m not interested.)
(3) Send one thin dime to any church anywhere in support of their “Work” (Where is THEIR faith?)

I currently consider myself agnostic. God or no god, the world is what it is. There are those who believe that it is impossible to have morals without god. The problem with that is that there is no lack of immorality among believers. Whether or not every agnostic/atheist follows some sort of “golden rule” simply by force of conscience, I can’t say. But I do know that I personally don’t need a book to tell me that I should treat people the way I myself wish to be treated (especially if the book itself is replete with examples of “Do as I say, not as I do…”). Not that I live by that perfectly, but from my experience I have learned that if there is a god, he cares more about days and money than about people’s lives. The Armstrongists would declare that god is simply “hands off” for now – except, of course, when it comes to rigging political elections (“installing and removing leaders”) in order to “prove” that we can’t rule ourselves. (??) And then there’s that popular fallback: “God isn’t judging the world now” – except for certain segments of the population. (But, of course, AIDS is just a “natural effect of an unnatural act.” God expects us to procreate; that’s why he intervenes in each and every abortion attempt or miscarriage…)

Anyway, that’s my two cents for the day…