Tuesday 28 July 2009

Pam Dewey on Misogyny (and Meredith)

(Pam Dewey comments on the recent post The Woman haters of Armstrongism?)

Does the obvious misogyny of the WCG past still exist in some or many corners of the COGs? Of course.

From my personal perspective and experience ... yes, unfortunately there are [only] a tiny handful of COG-related women who have felt empowered do anything on even the very minor level I have been able to accomplish. I've had a website that can't compete with Ambassador Watch for traffic :-) but I've had over a half million visitors. The site even garnered a mention a couple of years back by Cal Thomas, who is a well known media commentator and one of the most widely published newspaper commentators in the world. (He was looking on the web for info on groups that are big in End Time Prophecy pontifications, and came across my Field Guide. His citation of it in his international print and online column one day led to a big leap in Field Guide site visitors for a few days!)

I've been giving presentations (dubbed "seminars" ... don't dare call 'em "sermons" ;-) ) for over a decade at the Feast of Tabernacles and other COG venues, attended by both men and women. (I've even had some people say that my seminars are one of the primary reasons they chose a particular FOT site.)

I've been invited all over the US to give similar presentations at local and regional church gatherings for over a decade.

I've been an editor and writer for a number of COG publications, as well as written one book of my own and co-authored two books with Ron Dart.

So are my efforts applauded in all circles? Of course not. Even though I get along with many, many men (and am most often invited by men to speak to groups) ... it is obvious to me that I am viewed by certain men in COG leadership positions as a threat. And evidently particularly because of my gender.

I could understand if I were in their own congregation or denomination ... if so, they could bash me over the head with scriptures and make me shut up through sheer corporate authority. But you'd think what I do "outside" the confines of a particular group would have no impact or interest at all to the leaders within the group. I'm certainly no threat to their constituency, since none of their loyal members will ever be going to a place where I am speaking!

Yet some time back I got an email from some fellow who was getting tapes from Rod M. He had written to me to apologize for the beating my reputation had taken on a recent Rod tape. Now mind you, I've never had anything at all to do with Rod Meredith. I've never met him, never been part of any group he was involved with since the WCG. Nor have I corresponded with him. But he evidently named me by name in a sneering way on this particular tape that went out to his constituency around the world.

The fellow that wrote to me said that Rod had ranted something along the lines of "There is this woman out there named Pam Dewey who is trying to start a revival in the Churches of God!!" Dearie me. Wouldn't want to wake the dead or comatose. What an insidious idea. I guess I just found it amazing that such a man would find some little grandmother living in Podunk he'd never even met to be that big a threat. Only thing I can think of is that my very existence somehow threatened his masculinity.

Such as it is.


Baywolfe said...

I think that one of the most important lessons I learned, coming out the other end of the COG experience is, "Consider the Source".

Rod Meridith, et. al. are just following the plan spoken of by Pink Floyd, "And did we tell you the name of the game boy? We call it riding the Gravy Train."

Anything that takes the spotlight off of them, especially if it's sound and logical, is evil. Just ask them.

Anonymous said...

I am female and in the LCG. I did not hear that sermon by Mr Meredith but trust me Mr Meredith certainly does not see Ms Dewey or any other female preacher as a threat. He thorougly understands the plan of God and why God has ordained things the way He did. Any woman with the mind of Christ will not resent their supportive role and any man with the mind of Christ will follow Christ,s example in the treatment of women. I know you won't get my point but I know that when Christ returns it will be revealed who His true followers are.

Anonymous said...

RCM must be the Joe Biden of the Armstrongite world. While I was briefly in his audience, he carefully edited his sermon tapes, and later denied saying some shockingly false and incriminating things he indeed had said in the presence of a whole Sabbath congregation. Congregants knew better; they were there and heard it all, told me so on several occasions. But it didn't matter who had heard his gaffes; his denials were substantiated by the phoney fear-factor called "church government."

This time Meredith took no pains to deny his blunt critique of Pam Dewey. Perhaps he felt justified. At any rate, the word was out, documented on tape. A kind apology had to come from a more civil Meredith subscriber.

What will we do if a real prophet shows up? The holy meatheads will have so jaded their hapless minions that it will be a cold day in hell when heed is paid to anyone else claiming special insights. It's enough to give one hives.

Byker Bob said...

The Christianity of some is apparently very limited, and not flexible enough to accomodate the spiritual growth and leadership capabilities of minorities and women. This is not only sad, but does not reflect the realities of the Old Testament days or early Apostolic era.

All one must do is read the greetings in the epistles of Paul to realize that women were a very important part of the leadership structure of the early church. Armstrongism is not the only guilty party in this. Some teachers have done their best to efface the role of women in Christianity, resorting in some cases even to shamefully changing the names of such women as Junia. Although there was no such known name as Junius (fabricated masculine form of the name), some translators could not accept that a woman could be in a leadership role, so butchered her name to obscure her contributions.

I've long noted that people often seize on beliefs which are consistent with their own personalities. The topic of misogyny further illustrates the truth of this postulate. In many cases, religious predilections are harmless. In this particular case, we have an example of a toxic predilection, one that artificially imposes a glass ceiling upon a specific subset of humanity, a glass ceiling that is not in accordance with the Father's will.


Mel said...

Speaking of Rod...

I have mentioned this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again, in this context.

At a FOT in Florida, his (then) wife, Margie, had heard that my mother had cancer, and since Margie had cancer too, she invited my mother over to the hotel suite where she and Rod were housed.
My mom tells me that Margie was gracious and they had a nice visit together.

However, when my dad came to pick up my mom and bring her back to their accommodations, he met Rod who was returning from something. During that brief interlude, when he and my dad talked with each other, Rod laughed loudly about his wife's cancer, and called it "only a skin condition"

Of course, Margie later died from her cancer.
Rod simply married another woman, after that.

I think that's very telling, about Roderick C. Meredith's attitude toward women.

Corky said...

Anonymous said...

I know that when Christ returns it will be revealed who His true followers are.

Returning is not the idea of Parousia. According to the NT, Jesus is already on his throne and reigns from above (Acts 2:29-36)forever (Luke 1:33; Isa. 9:7).

There's no room for the millennium theory taken from the book of signs and symbols. However, such things exist because some people base their religion on things they don't understand. Revelation is one of those things.

"of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33). How long is that thousand years now?

According to the NT, the kingdom is a spiritual one and not a physical one. There has already been a physical one - the kingdom of Israel.

If you want to treat your women as physical Israel was instructed, don't complain when they get tired of it and leave.

Jesus said...

Christ to RM. "I never knew you, for you made prophecies in my name that I never gave you. You spoke in my name when you have never known me. You are the anti-Christ. Away from me your treacherous man to where there will be weeping an the gnashing of teeth."

Anonymous said...

To the lady from the LCG, God will not separate the sheep from the goats based on the sheep having dishpan hands from scrubbing pots on the Sabbath. Nor will He recognize His true followers based on who was best able to crush their own personality (or let a husband or minister do it for them).

Those COGs and offshoots that treat women with respect are the rare exception. And by respect I mean treating women like they are smart individuals capable of having intelligent opinions they are allowed to express. COG men are deceitful experts at talking about respecting women in their proper "role" but then try to hide the fact that they believe a woman's role to be nothing more than that of a scullery maid.

You are worth more than that and are capable of more than that in our Father's eyes.

kiwi said...

A somewhat related subject might well be: how much was HWA's WCG a bastion of stereotypical middle-class American sexist cultural values frozen over from the 1950s? with no hope in the world of ever truly relating to either the cultural nuances or overt differences extant in the WCG "disapora"? (One story went that a WCG 'evangelist' visiting out here in the late '60s blasted NZers for being too "laid back", too content with life in general without a desire to accumulate vast pots of wealth).

The few kiwi women returnees from any of the Colleges all looked to me as if they'd gone through a cloning machine of some sort or other giving them a perhaps unintentional air of superiority. Why? Presumably because they knew how to set out a "posh" table and glide about with an air of feminized serenity without a hair out of place.
Bah humbug!! At the very least they should have been able to conduct women's bible studies, but heaven forfend... that would have caused the sky to fall in I suppose. What a waste of money!

Anonymous said...

Miss Appropriate is always right
And Spanky's view is ever trite.

Miss Understanding knows it all
And Spanky's ignorance does appall.

Miss Chief ever is the boss
And Living ever gathers moss.

Miss Adventure strikes out for self
With Spanky's mind on the shelf.

Miss Anthrope is Spanky's hate
With dogma ever out of date.

Miss Apprehend is Rodder's thing,
From him vision just don't spring.

Anachronistic is our Rod,
Thinks he speaks alone for God.

Three billion others think alike,
Spanky's truly off his bike.

Misogyny blurs his gospel call,
His bigotry stands up ever tall.

Perhaps he needs to go to school
And learn how not to be a fool.

Original thinking ain't his lot,
A doctorate full of stuff and rot.

Those who follow his line of blow
Are hardly ever in the know.

An arrogant lot they all appear,
Humility's never standing near.

Watch the scramble for power unfold
When Rodders retires with his gold.


Anonymous said...

Can someone please upload a copy of that Meredith tape for all?

Anonymous said...

Female Anonymous says: "...but I know that when Christ returns it will be revealed who His true followers are."

Ah yes, the typical COG potshot at all who do not follow Armstrongism.

Everyone should know by now that the only true followers of 'god' are Meredithites. All hail Spanky!

I guess we will have to grovel on our knee's with trembling lips (like Buffy McNair did in front of Meredith) when Meredith is second in command under his 'christ'.

Never gonna happen!

JD said...

Misogyny? Just to be sure of its exact meaning, I checked the word with Webster's. It means "a hatred of women."

In Gavin's poll, I had to answer "no" to whether I believed the old WCG was misogynistic. We did not hate women, any more than we hated our beloved dogs and cats.

Russell Miller said...

hey anon @ 02:23, you get beaten regularly? I'm sure it's God's will.

camfinch said...

Anonymous 2:23, I am a male who left Armstrongism more than thirty years ago. I think probably one of the first thin cracks in my young, idealistic shell was the realization that restricting women to "supportive" roles was ridiculous and unfair. Whether the idea was from the Armstrongite ministry or from the patriarchal Abrahamic religions (not letting patriarchy in the eastern traditions off the hook, by the way), or from the spoutings of fanatical Paul. Didn't matter. It is a bad idea, full stop. I could live with having that disagreement. But then other cracks materialized, such as the prohibition on interracial dating/marriage, a realization that HWA's lifestyle rules were based on his own generational persepctive, to which young AC students found it hard to relate; more cracks, until I confronted the biggie--the idea of hierarchical church government, which HWA had condemned decades before.

It's all long-past history for me now. The issues became non-issues for me years ago. But I'm glad those cracks started showing up; I'm glad that that shell broke apart and crumbled into dust.

You will have your own ideas about my exit. Fair enough. But don't say that I don't understand your perspective re: Meredith, his "understanding" of "God's plan", and of the role of women in the church. I was there, I subscribed to all of that--and then I rejected bad theology.

All the best to you. And by the way, I have close family members in LCG.

Anonymous said...

Although I am not the biggest Pam Dewey fan in the world, I must admit truer words have never been spoken: “Only thing I can think of is that my very existence somehow threatened his masculinity. Such as it is.”

For some reason Pam really flips the lids of a certain minister type. I can recall the rantings of Rob Petry on various postings calling Pam all sorts of dreadful things. From my limited email contact with Petry he seemed pleasant enough, but on his cable show he is reported to have called Pam “Pam Screwy” and other such things. One does wonder what impact the slander of her name would have on the viewers of public access television in Scottsdale. But internet fame is what it is.

Wordlwide Land has become a very small place with a very big echo chamber. Back when RCM and his ilk were Masters of The Universe, braying from a sheep such as Pam would have amounted to little more than a mimeographed disfellowship sent out in triplicate. Today the odds are a little different, as are the stakes. Let us take in evidence:

“I am female and in the LCG. I did not hear that sermon by Mr Meredith but trust me Mr Meredith certainly does not see Ms Dewey or any other female preacher as a threat. Any woman with the mind of Christ will not resent their supportive role and any man with the mind of Christ will follow Christ,s example in the treatment of women."

She did not hear what Dr. M may have said, but she trusts that Pam is no threat. Unfortunately COG-Land is populated by such people. At this point, they are mostly triple tithing on menial Social Security Checks. All of this skipping meals or perhaps eating the occasional dog food must mean SOMETHING. (The LCG is well known as Your Place For Fasting.) Otherwise the person has totally wasted their spiritual life, numerous business and social opportunities and a whole heck of a lot of real cash on NOTHING. DON’T GO TELLING ME IT’S ALL ABOUT NOTHING. There’s no turning back for me at this point. I MUST have MY REWARD.

Sadly, it was all about dirty, filthy money. And it still is. Only there’s much less of it, which is what makes Pam so threatening. None of the splinters really has the immersion power that it once did. Even our deceived COG Woman is finding time to light her little peepers here in dissident AW Land. Back in the days of two monthly magazines, weekly letters, three a week radio broadcasts, television shows, numerous church mid week events, this never would have happened. Without that arsenal, the cult master has to track down all stray shots, no matter where they come from. After all, Pam’s website is only a google search away—and if she keeps being cited by the likes of Cal Thomas (or his evil twin Tom Dornan), stray eyes won’t have to look much beyond the first page.

Being a religion in which indoctrination was largely based on reading and taking notes, one would think that Armstrongist leaders would have a fairly easy time maintaining control. All you really have to do is crank out reading material. Or recycle it. The printed word’s unanticipated electromagnetic migration has put a forever end to that tactic. You can’t simply flood Pam Dewey out. You have to compete with her. And the boys just can’t do it.

What makes Pam doubly dangerous is that she has come up with a new sermon—something to add to the cannon of the usual seven. This sermon, which uses the film The Matrix as an analogy, has caught a wide cross-splinter following. The theme of reality creation and its undercurrent warning about unquestioned premises has struck a chord with the diminishing COG community. I am not sure if the other speakers are just jealous or if they see through to the insidious message of her sermon. In any case, you would think that folks who are in the counter culture business would be a bit more light on their feet. Better to just condemn it. Pam’s gender just makes it easier to palm a smear off for consumption by the thought-free.

Mark Lax

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

"For some reason Pam really flips the lids of a certain minister type. I can recall the rantings of Rob Petry on various postings calling Pam all sorts of dreadful things."

Didn't Dick Van Dyke play Rob Petry?


Anonymous said...

I don't know how many of you have watched the TV series Madmen on AMC. It takes place in the very early 60's and centers around an advertisement agency in Manhattan. I think it's a pretty good representation of the state of affairs in the 60's As a child at this time, I have really enjoyed watching it, as in those days, women were still being suppressed and held back in every area other than the childrearing field. You have to remember that that was the rule, barefoot and pregnant, not just in the WCG. HOWEVER, along with the women's liberation movement came the sense of empowerment, and the knowledge that women are just as intelligent and capable as men in most things. As most ministers in the day had this superiority God complex, it was an affront to their masculinity, and still is to alot of them. It's not just in the COG's, it's everywhere. Keep pluggin Pam Dewey, we need you

Mickey said...

When I was still an Armstrongist, I would have responded to the question of misogyny very much like the female poster Anon. 2:23.

My reason for saying that I was valued as a woman would have been...and I'm sickened and shamed by the response...because they said so.

I was so trusting in the corporate "truth", that I ignored my own instincts and perceptions of the disconnect between what was said and reality of action to the extent that when I had a near break down from anxiety and depression that I assumed it was a problem with my spirituality, not a problem with living what I knew on a deeper level to be lying hypocrisy.

I was fortnate in that the minister that I had at the time was of a compassionate nature. He referred me to a mental health specialist. But my mind was guarded against anything that would be an attack on the church's teaching, no matter how small. At least I was put on anti depressants/anti anxiety medications to help me function.

It wasn't until the "changes" started that I could begin to tease out some of those repressed thoughts and examine them without having feelings near to hysteria.

Afterwards, the resentment came pouring out for a while. I didn't become vicious about it, I hope, but I did express it. And while it has died down to a large extent, the pain is still there.

It wasn't every woman's experience. A lot depends on personality, aptitudes, and parental guidance. For those who didn't have "issues", I'm happy for them. I wish them well. However, just because they were happy doesn't mean that there were and are many who suffered. Usually in silence.

Anonymous said...

Mark Lax,

I had to pick myself up off the floor after reading your comment.

That had to be one of the top ten AW posts of 2009.

You deserve a Gavin Award for that!

Have a good one.

Byker Bob said...

One quick observation: The difference between Armstrongism and secular society is that secular society did not support gender and race-based subjugation or inferiority by using proof texts from the Bible. Now, truth be told, there are plenty of scriptures in the Bible which support egalitarianism, especially amongst followers of Jesus Christ. But, somehow, those did not fit into the personal agendas of our former teachers, so were downplayed or completely ignored. It was probably yet another example of the misunderstandings which result from superimposing the Old Covenant over the New.

Being the spiritual leader of the family means setting a Christlike tone, so that everyone can grow spiritually. It does not imply Hitlerian dictatorship with degrading rapes or beatings. That produces families which are a microcosm of classic Worldwide Church of God, in which hatred is fomented, but the individual is taught that what produced the hatred is actually God's way, and that in order to get into the Kingdom, one must learn not to indulge in hatred of abuse.

If society all around us were suddenly to dissolve, the ACOGs, whether in a place of safety or their own little enclaves, would revert to misogyny, segregation, and their system of racial hierarchies, largely due to the proof-texts which they have lifted from context and selected as representing "God's Truth". It would not be a pretty, or Christlike picture!


Anonymous said...

Bob is correct, there are proof texts in scripture on both sides of this issue. Just as there are proof texts in the bible on both sides of just about every issue. Having been written over a period of more than a thousand years, by many different authors in many different cultural settings, the bible of course includes a wide variety of perspectives.

While there are some scriptures supporting some form of respect and limited "rights" for women, especially in the book of Luke, nowhere to my knowledge does the bible afford women anywhere near equal status with men. If I'm wrong about this, I'd honestly appreciate being pointed to the appropriate scriptures.

The bible writings are reflective of the cultures in which they were written. In old testament times, women were just property. Period. Hence their inclusion in the 10th commandment along with all the other property. Although, truth be told, they were one of man's most important possessions.

New testament times were little better. The status of women in Hellenistic society, and later in Roman society, was also far from equal. This is clearly reflected in the writings of Paul, whom many consider anti-women but seems to just have been reflecting the norms of the era. Also the other New Testament writers, with the exception of Luke, clearly give women a secondary status.

It's no surprise, really. The years in which the bible was written were halfway between the stone age and today. Although sometimes surprisingly poignant, they more often reflect primitive superstitions, attitudes and social structures.

The Skeptic