Friday, 18 September 2009

Disillusionment in Decatur

This story, a gibbering, wailing testimony from a PCG member, appeared way back in April 2007, but didn't seem to get any traction, judging from the complete lack of comments to the Herald & Review.

Bonnie Sloan is angry. And the healing process has been going on for 20 years.
[Read it all here]

One doesn't want to sound unsympathetic, but after all the gratuitous (and frankly irrelevant) advice from Ms Sloan's fellow travelers in the Flurry cult to those who have got over it to, well... "get over it," it seems only fair to return the compliment.


Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Bonnie said, "I thought Mr. Armstrong was a very good leader of the church and inspired all of us. He did a fabulous job in taking care of the membership."

MY COMMENT - The membership did a fabulous job taking care of Mr. Armstrong providing him with a lifestyle of the rich and famous.

A good leader would have had a succession plan vetted by the constituent members. From my understanding, Tkach was selected shortly before Armstrong's death as if the 94 year old Apostle wasn't going to ever die.

Oh that's right, he was going to take us to a place of safety and lead us into the Wonderful World of Tomorrow. And pigs fly!


Dennis said...

The degree to which anyone "gets over" anything is directly proportional to the value one has placed in what or who has changed, happened, abandoned, died, left, hurt or snookered someone.

The more valueable the loss, the more it takes to never quite get "over it."

I remember friends who lost a son in a car wreck being told "It's been six months...get over it" by the minister. Between that and "be thankful you have more children" (the lost a second son a few years later), "you'll see them again in the kingdom," and "God lost his son too," they just about lost their minds with grief.

The "God lost his only son too" was the ministerial crack that caused the mother to yell back, "NO!, Jesus got to come back better than ever in three short days. My daughter is DEAD. Jesus was a weekend inconvenience for himself and God." Whew.... now there is a piece of theology born from loss.

I can't say I have gotten over WCG. It got into my DNA. I can's say I've gotten over ministering. But I think less and less about it. I have other issues in life I am "trying" to get over and sometimes don't do so well with it because of the value placed on the loss.

So, IMHO, we need to be careful in expecting others to process our "get over it"s the same way we feel we have.

I noticed this woman was a mere 13 when the church snagged her imagination, hopes and dreams. Pretty tender years and her investment was heavy and from a young age.

That makes getting over it harder I think than someone who came from another faith to compare it to and move on.

I long ago and certainly for sure now, have given up telling people to "get over it." We all simply have the right and no choice really to process our losses as our chemistry, hurt, pain and the value of that which was lost dictates.

"He will have no mercy who shows no mercy," seems appropriate even from where I seem to be in my beliefs/no belief moments.

At any rate

Anonymous said...

i can see why it gained no traction.....there is no story there.
she moved on, big deal.

Bamboo_bends said...

Its called "The Stockholm Syndrome".

Its also a large dose of denial that what they have thought was necessary to "puhleeeze" God was just a waste of a lot of time and effort.

Its hard to face facts. But many of us have gone through it. Denial, Anger...all those stages of grieving as the precious little babies of belief...which so many people sacrificed REAL relationships with REAL people for, were just a huge con job.

Its one thing to realize what's been done to you. Its quite another to face one's own enabling of such nonsense through tithes, offerings and that most precious of all things - our time.

No cult can exist without willing followers.

Doi..what was I thinking.. said...

Mr. Ted notes on The Surpressing God Blog...

"He notes that we image God in two ways: in God's oneness (which is his three in oneness in perichoretic relatedness); and in God's threeness (the distinctive qualities and roles of each person of the triune God)."

Now if that doesn't clear up the truth I know not what will.....

I'm over it!

Anonymous said...

"Jesus got to come back better than ever in three short days"

Yes indeed, Dennis, that says it exactly. Assuming for the sake of argument that it all happened just the way the gospels say it happened, I have a question for all the christians out there: what did Christ really sacrifice? And how was it valuable enough to forgive every sin of every person who ever lived?

And, for that matter, if God really wanted to forgive sin, why couldn't he forgive sin by his own power out of his own mercy? Why was a human sacrifice / godman sacrifice required?

And another question: how then is this forgiveness? If "the price was paid", then it's an even bargain, no gift involved. No forgiveness?

I'll probably get what I deserve now, for asking these questions. I have just one request. Please, christians, sensible answers only!

The Skeptic

Corky said...

Yeah, Skeptic, and if Christ rose the third day, why are women still weeping for Tammuz, er, I mean Jesus.

Actually, the sun died on December 22nd and on the third day, December 25th, rose again. Just simple astronomy, winter solstice and all that.

Jesus, as the god/man had to be sacrificed and resurrected because that's what happened to all god/men in ancient religions.

None are supposed to come back though, they all watch over the faithful from above - as the "real" Christians finally figured out later.

Bamboo_bends said...

Anonymous said...

...if God really wanted to forgive sin, why couldn't he forgive sin by his own power out of his own mercy? Why was a human sacrifice / godman sacrifice required?

And another question: how then is this forgiveness? If "the price was paid", then it's an even bargain, no gift involved. No forgiveness?

Ask that question in church and your "friends" will part like the Red Sea in front of you.

I came to much the same conclusion, but reached it a different way. I took the time honored example of Abraham sacrificing Isaac (which they say is a prototype event) and brought forward the circumstances to our time.

Imagine your neighbor borrows your lawnmower, and runs over a big tree root and trashes the motor. Now in your infinite forgiving self you tell your neighbor that he sinned against you by not fixing the mower. However being such a great guy you tell the person that since you love him so much, you're going to sacrifice your only begotten son (which is the apple of gramps eye) so that YOU can forgive the neighbor. After all you have rules, and those rules must be followed and someone has to pay the price.

Your neighbor would of course consider you a child abusing nut case and call family protective services.

If there is a God (and I believe there is) He/She/It must be a lot more sane than the most sane human being. And I would imagine a whole lot less egotistical about his pride being wounded by the act of forgiving someone.

When we do wrong, its not God who is harmed. Its us.

Vaughn said...

Apparently she's upset that she had to leave WCG and go with Flurry.

Being with Flurry would be enough to upset anyone!

Leonardo said...

Dennis wrote:
"I remember friends who lost a son in a car wreck being told "It's been six months...get over it" by the minister. Between that and "be thankful you have more children" (they lost a second son a few years later), "you'll see them again in the kingdom," and "God lost his son too," they just about lost their minds with grief."

I've heard of many stories similar to this from the WCG and it’s many spin-offs. It seems the COG universe is just not all that warm or comforting a place when it comes to the death of a loved one, or when dealing with a serious loss of any kind.

I know this from personal experience.

In the fall of 1977, my mother unexpectedly died in a very tragic circumstance. I was just 21 years of age, and, well, you can imagine having to deal with all this, when only the day before I had a beautiful girlfriend (an AC coed), was excitedly looking forward to beginning my junior year at AC, had all the glib, pre-packaged and neatly-wrapped "answers" given me by the WCG regarding life’s biggest questions on the tip of my tongue, etc.

But then something called REALITY hit with a furry.

Though I was quite content and “on top of the world” in those days, still, I was pretty poor at the time as well, so I didn't own a vehicle of any kind. And I had the hardest time trying to get someone in Pasadena to take me to the Los Angeles airport so I could fly home to Michigan to deal with the ugly situation and be with the rest of my family back there.

One guy I knew (a student leader at the time) had a car, but claimed he was busy that day working on a presentation he was scheduled to give to the entire student body at Forum time on the subject of, and get this now, SERVING! So he wasn’t available to help me out in this tragic emergency.

Finally, later on in that nightmarish day, I was at last able to find a fellow who had both an old beat-up Volkswagen Beetle AND the cheerful willingness to drive me down to the airport. I recall him fondly to this very day (almost to the point of tears). So here’s to you - Dan Aldrich from Minneapolis, Minnesota – your practical help in a time of great distress and outstanding personal example has stuck with me and is STILL remembered all these many years later! (I've heard that he went on to become a highly successful business man somewhere in the Mid West, and I wish him all the very best that life can offer him, both now and forever, even though we long ago fell out of touch with each other, for over three decades now.)

Anyway, I returned back to AC from the funeral, etc., about a week later. And I remember one gung-ho AC student coming up to me and saying, “Just think of your situation as a challenge, something to overcome!” – a phrase no doubt he had just recently heard in Spokesmen Club or some such place.

Well, that really didn’t help me out all too much.

And no condolences of any kind whatsoever were ever passed on to me from the AC administration of the time.

My folks had me when they were older (in their 40’s), and so I attended a LOT of funeral services of relatives as a young boy, and my parents explained to me the reality of death in such a way that, I suppose, most people have never experienced at such a tender age. I had an older brother pass away when he was only seven-years-old. My dad died suddenly when I was just ten-years-old. And, as explained above, my dear mother also unexpectedly died when I was a 21-year-old student at AC.

So maybe all this background has made me a bit more sensitive to the subject of death and loss and grieving in a way most, especially ministers and members of the various COG’s, just aren’t. Because I’ve observed the same insensitivity and even harshness Dennis talked about above, especially so when I was among the world of the COG’s.

Hey, loss of any kind is only healed through grieving…and the passage of time, the greatest healer of all. Grieving is the way the human organism heals itself. And it takes some longer than others.

Mr. Scribe said...

Speaking of the devil, Gerald Flurry, I was remarking last night to my gal how the six million dollar man, Lee Majors, looks a lot like the six-pack prophet. Bad thing!

Click on my name to see Gerald???

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Ted notes on The Surpressing God Blog..."

You know, professing Christians don't actually go on and on and on and on ad nauseam about this most unholy trinity nonsense, they just take it for granted (along with a bunch of other stuff).

The truth of the matter is, in Gracie congregations (new name old name or no-name), the members by and large are NOT believers in traditional Christianity's paganism. Not even close. But the pastards can't do a damned thing about it except smile weakly and say "Well, *some* in our congregation don't believe in the Holy Trinity, but that's OK...and have I told you lately how you need to be saved and born again?"

Things would be a hell of a lot more clear-cut if they were just allowed to disfellowship anyone who isn't truly converted to traditional Christianity.

Mind, then Pope Joey and Pope-goes-the-Weazle wouldn't have any members left to fleece tithes from, because its the old guard who are still tithing at least ten percent.

Purple Hymnal said...

I was so much like Bonnie Sloane when the changes hit, it's frightening. Fortunately, I managed to escape all religion because of the changes, for which I am grateful.

I can't imagine how terrible my life would still be, if I had gone with a splinter or worse, stayed with UCG.....

Get over it... said...

Grief and loss were handled in WCG and in many churches by quoting scripture that in practical application proves unhelpful.

1. Be happy because you'll see them again in the SECOND Resurrection.

2. You'll see them again in a little over a thousand years.

3. Be glad you'll see them when Jesus comes.

4. At least you have other children

5. God won't give you more than you can handle, so this proves you can handle it.

6. God is allowing Satan to test YOU (This is a good time to remind the person God kills over 2, 138,000 humans in the OT and Satan only 10 with God's permission)

7. God's ways are not yours.

8. God lost his only son too

9. They are much better off now.


The problem is however really in the texts themselves. Grieving, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance was not shown or mentioned. This is the real road through loss. Actually, the NT has little emotion. "Jesus wept" and then we learn because the people were so stupid, not grieving. Annanias and Sapphira get struck down in church by Pastor Peter and no one questions that. No relatives ask "where is my sister?" "Where are my dad and mom," and certainly the Romans would never ask.."hey, what are you burying there and who did this?"

Mary is said to leave her town knowing Herod is going to kill all the two or less year olds singing, "I know something you don't know..."

Paul says "ALL Asia has forsaken me" without asking why save the implication that the "ALL" are wrong and he is right.

The NT contains precious little understanding or recognition of normal human emotions.

The OT expresses much negative emotion and little positive as well.

Job expresses normal grief and observations and is shamed of them by being asked if he is so smart, does he knows who made the zodiac and snow? This should bring him around.....but it's all good because Job gets ten new kids back to replace the old ones he lost and no doubt can't possibly miss as individual children.

So with the training manuel being rather unhelpful, how can the students be.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to some of the discussions on Friday September 11 on the car radio as I was traveling that day. I was shocked by the way some of the school system across the country are portraying the tragedy of that date, in the name of political correctness. Then some twit piped in, we just need to get over 9/11 and put it behind us . This of course brought to mind some comments that some fellow blogers on occasion bring to the boards here. "You need to get over your COG hang ups and get on with your lives".
Then I asked myself why can you not get over your COG past, it was not all bad? So I did the calculations, what do I have from nearly 25 years in WCG, a few fond memories some enduring friendships.
In the minus column My wife left with the children, lost a very nice home I had spent years putting together, thousands of dollars & thousands of hours serving the local church . My neighbors and family consider me a foolish old man who blew his potential . Now facing my retirement years not prepared even though I have made and given away a small fortune.

I really and truly took church teachings as a way of life. Yes I believed HWA and his band of merry men. Yes, no one put a gun to my head but I thought if I failed to do my part in "getting the END TIME MESSAGE out" my eternal life was at stake!! And there was a God who would make my losses seem as nothing. I was never aware of any major COG short comings locally, or at HQ with the exception of GTA. It wasn't until I quit attending, that house lights came on, and I saw back stage . They were Props on a big sound stage of panted props on thin canvas.
Damn Right, I am not over it. For me personally many innocent people were hurt beyond repair. I just can not walk away and shrug it off as if they are of no value.

From conversations I have had with many others, it appears to me that those who have faired the best emotionally are and were the ones who took COG with a grain of salt and treated it as a game of masquerade and have mentally taken the live humans out of the equation.

My heart goes out to all who still have the humanity to feel what is real, it means you still have life so don't allow anyone to ridicule your grief process.


Leonardo said...

Wess wrote:
“It wasn't until I quit attending, that house lights came on, and I saw back stage. They were Props on a big sound stage of panted props on thin canvas.”

Yes, and it’s also sort of like being in a sealed up room with a bad odor (paint fumes or whatever): after awhile you just get used to it – until you finally leave the room and breathe fresh air once again. Then if you go back into the room the acrid stench that you had once gotten used to and just come to accept hits you like a wall of bricks and almost knocks you over it’s so bad! But the people still inside who refused to leave still arrogantly insist that the stench-filled room is the “one true environment that God wants us to be in.”

Not only is your analogy of the house and backstage lights coming on accurate with respect to HWA and the WCG (reminiscent of the famous scene in “The Wizard of Oz when Toto reveals who and what the Wizard actually is!), but for Christianity in ALL it’s forms. It’s one massive fictional fantasy, just like a play or a movie. A thorough investigation into the field of Christian apologetics (defense tactics that attempt to justify and defend the faith) has demonstrated this to me so clearly. When I was a true believer I simply had no idea that Christianity was such a hastily thrown together patchwork constructed of spit, tissue paper and cheap plywood.

But I hear exactly what you’re saying, Wess – and it’s extremely valid.

Yes, I agree that we do need, through the process of time, to work through our bad experiences and move on with our lives. But the folks who glibly keep dispensing the “just get over it” slogan are those who, to a great degree, have not moved on either.

From what I can tell, the vast majority of them still hold to the essential supernatural belief system that HWA initially built upon, tweaked and customized for his own purposes, minus his unique distinctive doctrines. But the fundamental basics are all there and left intact – unquestioned and still carelessly assumed as always. My personal experience has been that it’s a very small minority of ex-Armstrongites who ever question the foundations that the agnostic/atheist camp deals with routinely.

Current believers just cannot admit that they have been bamboozled completely. Oh, they will admit that many aspects of the WCG were in error, and of course that all other religions are wrong, but many of them just seem incapable of investigating deeper into their own cherished supernatural belief system.

As far as the folks who dispense the “just get over it” advice with respect to the tragic events of September 11th? Well, the famous quote from George Santayana is appropriate:

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

And Americans as a people are known far and wide for being quite ignorance of world history in general, but their own unique history too, and of course, all this does is allow the same problems to occur repeatedly because we never seem to learn the lesson from the initial historical occurrence. Why? Well, for the most part we’ve forgotten that it ever happened! We’ve “just gotten over it” – foolishly moving on and not remembering and learning the lessons from the past, nor how we can apply them in the present so we can have a better future.

A world renown Harvard-trained historian once told me, “The greatest lesson of history is that mankind does not learn very well from the rich lesson book of history.”

How true.

But it doesn’t have to be true on the INDIVIDUAL level. That’s why I think it’s so important to draw vital lessons from the more unpleasant experiences of our lives so that they can inform our future. In the end, I do think that we will find ultimate objective reality to be so much more vibrant and exciting than the narrow, constrictive views of fundamentalist religion.

We ex-WCGer’s have been through a very unique experience, and are in a position to provide some very insightful observations of benefit both to ourselves and others.

Mr. Scribe said...

Wess wrote "You need to get over your COG hang ups and get on with your lives".

I get those fools time to time commenting on my videos. Most of these people don't realize that they are living in a cult of personality.

HWA is the chosen one they say, but deny he was a prophet. Why? Because he was piss poor at trying to get anything correct. To them, 1975 is just off by a few years.

It really is insane.

Mel said...

Plain and simple, the "JUST GET OVER IT" folks are either ignorant or cult apologists.

"Man, oh, man, oh friend of mine
All good things in all good time....
And I got a notion we're all at sea,
Yeah, we're all at sea"

, as Garcia sang, in "Run for the Roses"

PurpleHymnal said...

My wife left with the children, lost a very nice home I had spent years putting together, thousands of dollars & thousands of hours serving the local church. My neighbors and family consider me a foolish old man who blew his potential. Now facing my retirement years not prepared even though I have made and given away a small fortune.

I'm sorry, Wess, that sucks. And I'm sorry that all I can offer you is my sympathy and my empathy, but that's all I have left; I offer it to you freely.

Jared Olar said...

I was a member of the Springfield WCG when everything finally blew up in 1995. I knew Bonnie Sloan and Sam Sutton, and Bonnie's dad Sam Burgener (God rest his German Swiss soul). Actually we usually called Sam Sutton "Ron" -- his middle name is Ronald, and since he and Sam Burgener spent so much time together, it was easier for us to call him Ron so he wouldn't answer when we asked Sam Burgener a question. They were all good friends and I'm glad to have known them. Bonnie was one of the first to leave in early 1995. It was before the UCG had been founded, and I guess Flurry's cult seemed to her like the closest fit when she was desperately seeking the safety and comfort of her old, erroneous beliefs while they were being blasted away from all of us by the Tkach sect. I remember how sad it was when she said goodbye . . . and how much greater sorrow we all had to experience and the greater part of the Springfield WCG defected to the UCG (including our pastor Tom Damour). Going through a church schism is not a pleasant experience: not only the fracturing of a worldview, which while unpleasant is often good and necessary, but also the loss of good friends. Anyway, I pray Bonnie will have her eyes opened, so she can finally be freed of Armstrongist nonsense and find peace. She just wasn't really happy when I knew her -- and erroneous religion just can't bring happiness.