Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Journal in post

The latest issue of The Journal is now out. You can, as usual, download the front and back pages without charge. There's a nice story about a young feast-goer's act of heroism, an interview with Ray Wooten of United Christian Ministries, and the usual mixed bag of contributions. Lenny Cacchio wants us to quit trying to beat any swords into plowshares - it's hopeless, so sit down on your fat half-acre and wait for the LORD (presumably he doesn't want you to hold your breath.) Ewin Barnett doesn't think government assistance is okay...

Something is wrong because, in almost 40 years of attending church, I have never once heard any discussion of the free-market economic principles that are plainly visible in the teachings of Jesus, such as the parable about the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20) or even in Proverbs 31.

I don’t know the whole answer to this problem, but I do know enough of sound economics (not the Keynesian counterfeit) to offer my help.

Well, hey, thanks for that generous offer Ewin, but I think I'll pass on that one. On the other hand Wesley White makes some thoughtful comments about the fractious hyper-independent fellowships.

Scattered individuals and small local churches need to develop more relationships with others so they can move away from being hug-me churches in protective bubbles.

Makes sense to me, but I can't see much chance of reversing the process, given the horrendous hierarchic abuse that sent us all zinging away in the series of Big Bangs that shattered the Armstrong Empire beyond recovery.

If you are interested (fascinated, appalled, whatever...) by the continuing journey of COGdom in a post-WCG world, The Journal remains essential reading. Subscription details are here.

34 comments:

Leonardo said...

Ewin Barnett’s comment to the effect that “Something is wrong because, in almost 40 years of attending church, I have never once heard any discussion of the free-market economic principles…” may be his experience, but not mine.

Sometime about 1981 via cassette tape I heard a minister give a Bible Study on how God is a capitalist. It was actually a fairly good study, given by some pastor up in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon, I think.

And Wes White’ concern that a number of the smaller COG’s have become a useless constellation of “churches in protective bubbles” is a little late now – the damage has been done, too many deluded folks already have bought in to the zany concept that THEY are the only ones “holding fast to the Truth.”

And COG history strongly suggests these folks just aren’t going to budge an inch, no matter what.

Richard said...

Scattered individuals and small local churches need to develop more relationships with others so they can move away from being hug-me churches in protective bubbles.

Some scattered individuals and small groups are trying. There's evidence of it in consolidated Feast sites, which bring together several organizations and groups of believers.

Yet in some cases, the individuals who try to reach out get their hands slapped. One minister told me recently about going to another Sabbabth-keeping group for a service, and being barred from walking in the door. (No, I don't know which one.)

The minister asked a good question -- are they keeping out Jesus in the process?

Anonymous said...

God is a capitalist? What about these scriptures:

"you are your brother's keeper"
"sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and follow me?
"It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle"
"Remember the lilies of the field .."
"Store up treasures in heaven"

Hey, those are just off the top of my head. If I wanted to spend the time to look up some more, I could come up with hundreds. The bible is FULL of socialist scriptures that tell you to give away your money, not to plan ahead, not to save, etc.

The Skeptic

Anonymous said...

God is a capitalist? Oops! I made a mistake. I have been worshiping the wrong God.

Anonymous said...

I want my money back!

Anonymous said...

When I left the "independent" COG movement, made up of small local congregations and ministries, I saw a lot of interaction between groups. They were learning to communicate with others, which was something they were forbidden to do when previously attached to the bigger, totalitarian groups such as UCG. In fact, Wes White was a part of that movement, if I am correct. Have things changed? It's hard to see the Dave Havirs, Jeff Osbournes, and Ray Wooten's preaching isolation.

The Apostate Paul

Phrontistes said...

Ray Wooten's article is a bit of an eye-opener. It appears that Ray has finally come to the conclusion that none of the cogs are God's church. While Ray has reached this mind-blowing (for a member of cogdom) state of mind a little bit late in the game, I never-the-less give him my hearty congratulations. However, if he thinks that this proclamation is going to gain any traction with the readers of The Journal he is still wearing rose-tinted glasses.

PurpleHymnal said...

"Ewin Barnett’s comment to the effect that “Something is wrong because, in almost 40 years of attending church, I have never once heard any discussion of the free-market economic principles…” may be his experience, but not mine."

Not mine either. Particularly when Gerald Waterhouse hit his Germans = Commies = SAAAAAATAAAAAAAN stride, usually about hour 4. Also the way we were always encouraged towards mass consumerism at the Feast, because "this is what it's going to be like in the Kingdom, brethren". Or any one of the endless screeds and diatribes in sermonette form, given against other "cults" and communes, hippies, the barter system economy (I know of at least two occasions where members were reprimanded from the pulpit for belonging to "worldly" co-ops), etcetera, etcetera. Also, we were to buy new, NOT used clothes, to wear to Sabbath services, because new things were "godly" and used things were not.

(Even though our daily clothes most often came from the Sally Ann.)

Mel said...

I'm reminded of a gal who told me of an experience she had.
She was at a hotel for one of the Holy Days.
She went to the bathroom, and on her way back walked into the wrong group's room.
Apparently, another splinter group was having services in the same hotel- different room.

It was an understandable mistake, since people she'd known for years were there. She finally realized something was wrong when those folks gave her curt answers to her greetings and some didn't answer her at all.

Wrong room in the hotel.
Sad and wrong, in ways even beyond that, that the encounter points to.

Leonardo said...

Apostate Paul wrote:
"When I left the "independent" COG movement, made up of small local congregations and ministries, I saw a lot of interaction between groups."


You know Paul, my general observation is that MEMBERS tend to be considerably more willing to freely talk to folks associated with other groups, whom they often benevolently see as spiritual brothers and sisters, building upon their shared beliefs (which, let's face it, are 99.9% identical), etc.

In fact, I know numerous folks who fall into this category.

But I've found it to be the professional MINISTRY who tend to foster separation in order to promote the “specialness” of their particular group, always the one which just happens to issue their paychecks!

It's in the very nature of organizations to perpetuate themselves and their sense of uniqueness like this.

Yes, there are exceptions, like Dave Havir, and no doubt a number of other ministers I'm unfamiliar with. (Once back in 1995 I was traveling through the Dallas area and stayed at the home of some old friends of mine, Dr. and Mrs. Kermit Nelson, and during that time happened to have had a wonderful conversation in a cow pasture (!) with Dave Havir. I don't know where he is these days, but back then he was considerably more open-minded than most other ministers I knew.)

I was raised in the Mid West beginning back in the late ‘50’s, in a German home, and so never really had much of a problem respecting authority figures – and when I was a True Believer in the WCG I always respected the office of the ministry – and for me it was genuine, not forced.

But my many experiences and observations since then have greatly eroded the sense of respect I once held for many of these fellows, an in many cases, has been replaced with a strong feeling of revulsion instead.

Tom Mahon said...

Ewin avers...

>>Something is wrong because, in almost 40 years of attending church, I have never once heard any discussion of the free-market economic principles that are plainly visible in the teachings of Jesus, such as the parable about the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20) or even in Proverbs 31.<<

May be the ministers that preached to Ewin were much more sensible than the ones that used to preach to me in the UK. For over my 20 years in WCG, I heard many sermons stating that the bible supports the principles of capitalism, and by implication democracy, even though it condemns voting!

Anyway, I can't find any biblical texts that support the kind of capitalism that is currently extant in the world. The capitalist system we live under, is based on the rich lending money to the poor: the poor in turn works for the rich to get the money to repay the loans that were made to them at exorbitant rates of interest! So the poor remains poor and a slaves to the rich, while to rich gets richer, and erect elaborate systems to ensure that the poor stay under their capitalist boot! No wonder Solomon was inspired to write: "The borrower is servant to the lender." Anyone who thinks that God approves of this unjust system is obviously insane.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Tom Mahon said, "..the poor in turn works for the rich.."

MY COMMENT - Sounds like the WCG under Herbert Armstrong. Ordinary people were required to work in order to provide tithes, offerings and building fund contributions so Herbert Armstrong and his corporate successors could be filthy rich beyond the wildest imaginations of the ordinary members - the dumb sheep - who contributed to the WCG under threat of Lake of Fire eternal damnation.

I return to Mitzpah and await the exaltation of the saints.

Richard

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Tom Mahon said, "Anyway, I can't find any biblical texts that support the kind of capitalism that is currently extant in the world."

MY COMMENT - Tom apparently has never read the parable of Talents. The servant that didn't produce a profit (and by the way, “profit” means capitalism) was condemned for being an unprofitable servant. And what did the Master rebuke the unprofitable servant for? For not at least placing the talent given to him out to earn interest. And, where would the unprofitable servant have gotten interest for his talents? From bankers or financial institutions that would pay the servant interest from lending the money out at a higher rate of interest to the poor and others who needed loans.

No, Tom you are wrong! The parable of the talents clearly teaches the form of Capitalism extent in the world today. May you return to Mizpah draped in sackcloth to repent of your heresy?

Richard

Anonymous said...

"No wonder Solomon was inspired to write: "The borrower is servant to the lender." Anyone who thinks that God approves of this unjust system is obviously insane."

Please, give me a break. You don't NEED to borrow money- the poor in the U.S. do it because of GREED. They HAVE to have their car, nice homes, Playstation, yada yada yada, mostly because of covetousness. The passage you mention speaks more to those who BORROW than those who LEND!

It was the Protestant work ethic that built the U.S. into the great superpower that it is. The "hand of God" in it was that we worked hard and didn't let our hands go idle. The socialist systems around the world, and even more now in the U.S., give handouts to those who don't work for it. That's not the system I see in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

U know who opined: "Anyway, I can't find any biblical texts that support the kind of capitalism that is currently extant in the world. The capitalist system we live under, is based on the rich lending money to the poor: the poor in turn works for the rich to get the money to repay the loans that were made to them at exorbitant rates of interest! So the poor remains poor and a slaves to the rich, while to rich gets richer, and erect elaborate systems to ensure that the poor stay under their capitalist boot! No wonder Solomon was inspired to write: "The borrower is servant to the lender." Anyone who thinks that God approves of this unjust system is obviously insane."

Can't find an example? How about the profitable servant parable? The man who hired servants to harvest the vineyard? Several of the disciples were fisherman and I hardly think that they were not in it to make money.

See, the way capitalism works is if I am a worker and I have an employer, I perform a service for my employer and I get paid for it. If I do a good job and my employer makes a profit, I may get a wage increase and / or a promotion. If I am an employer, I will sell my goods or services in such a manner that I hope to make a reasonable profit. If my business is doing well, I pay my employees, give them benefits, raises, promotions and possibly expand my business and hire additional workers. I may even sell shares of my company to raise capital for even more expansion if I determine there is a greater market available for my goods and services.

Ben Franklin said, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be". However if you have a need to borrow money from a bank, the bank has a reasonable expectation to a return on the money lent. The only reason anyone should be charged an 'exorbitant' rate of interest is if they borrow the money from 'Jimmy the Nose' or have bad credit.

Leonardo said...

Tom Mahon wrote:
"Anyone who thinks that God approves of this unjust system is obviously insane."

Don't get too rambunctious in your preaching there, Tom!

This "unjust system” has unquestionably produced the highest standard of living in the history of the world, and the poor have been the tremendous benefactors of capitalism as well as the rich.

I’m not saying it’s perfect as currently practiced, or that there still aren’t great inequities that need to be ironed out, but those who argue against capitalism are on the losing side of the argument from an historical perspective. If it wasn’t for free-market capitalism, the vast masses of mankind who live comfortably today would still be living in disease-infested hovels just barely eking out an existence, as they were previous to the spread of capitalism.

The 19th century Industrial Revolution was probably the single greatest financial blessing mankind has ever witnessed – in spite of all it’s flaws like child-labor and environmental degradation, etc., which either have, or are currently being, eliminated.

Anonymous said...

"But I've found it to be the professional MINISTRY who tend to foster separation..."

I'm referring to a different breed of COG "ministers", and they are far and few between. I can only think of three at this time. Also, these groups are more like mainstream Christians who happen to observe the Law of Moses- not to be confused with the small totalitarian congregations who break away from Pack and Flurry. It really is an "independent" movement and that is why I am surprised to hear that some of them are becoming more insular.


The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"So the poor remains poor and a slaves to the rich, while to rich gets richer, and erect elaborate systems to ensure that the poor stay under their capitalist boot!"

I am really trying to reconcile this with reality. I'm trying. But I keep coming up against the millions (yes millions) of people in this country who are not poor- and are not poor due to combination of hard work and common sense decisions.

Are there people who are poor through circumstances out of their control? Sure, and there are government programs to help these people. But to view modern America as a place where the majority of the poor can in NO WAY rise out of poverty is to simultaneously view the inside of your arse.



The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Charlie wrote:
"Ben Franklin said, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"."


Actually, that was not Franklin, although he did say many worthwhile things.

That quote is from Shakespeare’s character Polonius in “Hamlet” giving advice to his son Laertes as he was leaving to go to Paris – Act 1, scene 3. I really like that play and that’s why I remember it.

Here's the complete qoute:

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."

Franklin said that "a fool and his money are easily parted" - which is a major cause of poverty (though obviously not the only one) in the more developed areas of the globe.

Phrontistes said...

Tom Mahon with foot firmly planted in mouth said: "For over my 20 years in WCG, I heard many sermons stating that the bible supports the principles of capitalism, and by implication democracy, even though it condemns voting!"

Well Tom, if the bible condemns voting perhaps you can explain how it was that the children of Israel were told to " Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you."(Deut.1:13)

Bamboo_bends said...

PurpleHymnal said...

...the way we were always encouraged towards mass consumerism at the Feast, because "this is what it's going to be like in the Kingdom, brethren".


Interesting insight. Another case of the rebel getting its identity from the system it rebels against, rather than making a new system.

Both Capitalism and Communism are based on key assumptions:

1. Resources are scarce and therefore to be allocated by each brand of economy (either by price or central command).

2. Empowerment of the resource distributors at the expense of the people.


Moore's law is turning on its head the concept of scarcity, the more information we pump into a product, the cheaper it gets.

Increasing evidence is that resources (which are constrained usually by energy sources) are in fact artificially constrained.

It appears the creator made the universe with a scandalous abundance of resources, not of all which we yet know how to harvest and use.

Its generally mankind's greed, and wars (and those two are Siamese twins) that constrains abundance.

God doesn't need our money.

Bamboo_bends said...

Anonymous said...

Please, give me a break. You don't NEED to borrow money- the poor in the U.S. do it because of GREED. They HAVE to have their car, nice homes...



And the RICH DON"T? The debt levels as a percentage among the wealthy are just about as bad as among the poor.

The rich just don't tend to get laid off from their jobs because they are at the top of the economic food chain. Nor do they go bankrupt from no insurance from health emergencies.

Its a real bitch having to have a car to get to work, and a home to live in to stay healthy from the elements. How dare those poor be so greedy as to want to live and thrive!

Anonymous said...

Tommy M said: "the bible supports the principles of capitalism, and by implication democracy, even though it condemns voting!"

Hey Tommy, quote me the verse where the bible condemns voting.

Jethro said...

The Bible was written in a different age when our modern concepts of capitalism, socialism, and communism did not exist. It can be argued that the Bible supports capitalism. It can also be argued that if everyone truly loved everyone else then everyone would be willing to share totally with others, in which case we would have the purest form of communism, without the obnoxious dictatorships which seem to inevitably accompany it. Of course human nature doesn't work that way, but it sounds good on paper. As with a number of issues, you can draw what you will out of the Biblical texts.

Questeruk said...

Anonymous (Dec 03, 03:09:00) said...

“The socialist systems around the world, and even more now in the U.S., give handouts to those who don't work for it. That's not the system I see in the Bible.”

Hey, Anonymous ‘giving handouts’, or helping the poor, is a recurring theme throughout the Bible.

Lev 19:9 And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest……. you shall leave them for the poor and stranger.

Psa 41:1 Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If you will be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor.

Just three random examples – there are plenty more where they came from.

James said...

When all else fail, ask Ralph

Mr. Scribe said...

Capitalist says: Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.

Socialist says: "Give" a man a fish you have fed him for today.

So Skeptic, go fishing for I will not work another day. Feed me!

Tom Mahon said...

Richard said...

Tom Mahon said, "..the poor in turn works for the rich.."

MY COMMENT - Sounds like the WCG under Herbert Armstrong. Ordinary people were required to work in order to provide tithes, offerings and building fund contributions so Herbert Armstrong and his corporate successors could be filthy rich beyond the wildest imaginations of the ordinary members -<<

The tithing system was not wrong! It was what most of money was used for that was wrong. God established the tithing system to provide for the needs of his people. Its principle is underpinned thus: "He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack"(Ex.16:18). The principle here is that rich are supposed to give their excess to the poor, and in that way everyone needs are met.

Sadly, in WCG too much of the money was spent on TV, radio, publishing and above all supporting hirelings, who masqueraded as ministers.

We must not condemn the tithing system because it was and is being abuse by greedy men!

>>I return to Mitzpah and await the exaltation of the saints.<<

A very noble thing to do, but you don't want to left behind.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Scribe wrote "So Skeptic, go fishing for I will not work another day. Feed me!"

Hey Scribe, I only pointed out that the Bible if FULL of socialist scriptures. That was the point I was making. Please don't ascribe socialism to me just because I pointed out Bible if FULL of socialist scriptures. I'm 100% sure not one word of the Bible was god-inspired, and I certainly don't adhere to its teachings on any subject.

I could also point out that the Bible is FULL of capitalist scriptures. As with most subjects, you can find plenty of scriptures to support either side.

So, go catch your own fish! I'm already working my tail off to support myself and my family! I don't intend to also support you!

The Skeptic

Tkach's $wiss Banker said...

Journal article says of Ray Wooten:

"..he tries not to let shrinking
numbers and people’s current indifference
to the Bible and religion
bother him."

Didn't realize how tough it's getting in the supernatural biz these days....Advances in science & historical analysis taking quite a toll on the Christ Myth.

Meanwhile....COG's mythological insecurity manifest by YET ANOTHER article on angel anecdotes! And Wooten's search for the Ark of the Covenant.

Vaughn said...

In Tom Mahon's defense (WTF?), he did not say that the bible condemns voting, he said that he heard WCG SERMONS saying that the bible condemns voting. And I also remember that the WCG vociferously condemned voting.

Vaughn said...

I shall now return to Mitzpah and await MY government bailout!

Anonymous said...

"I also remember that the WCG vociferously condemned voting."

And military service, and carrying weapons, which is the ONLY thing that stood between us and becoming a paramilitary group; hell, we had the Christian Identity part down COLD.

it could have been so much worse

Anonymous said...

"It really is an "independent" movement and that is why I am surprised to hear that some of them are becoming more insular."

Why so surprised, Apostate Paul? Each one of those "independent" congregations still believes they, and ONLY they, are "holding fast to the faith once delivered" and that they, and ONLY they, are "the one true church of god". Literally the ONE CHURCH "true church of god".

Milieu control is inherent to the theology. No matter how "liberal" a CoG congregation is, it's still based on teachings that provide an insular, xenophobic framework, that the only true escape from --- is exiting from the church.