The May-June issue of Beyond Today is out. If you thought the lads in UCG were interested in breaking the mouldy old mold by rebranding their flagship magazine, you must be hugely disappointed.
BI is back (not that it ever left) with a major back cover ad for the awful booklet some of us hoped UCG was quietly trying to drop.
Misogyny reigneth again. Not even one token woman listed in the staff box. There is an article by Janet Treadway though. Just a one-page reflection on the birth of a grandchild (congratulations Janet, lovely photo). But it still seems clear the lads wouldn't be happy having a female byline accompanying a big-boy-type article (you know, prophecy, tithing...)
The rest of the issue is pretty predictable. Scott Ashley editorialises his literal reading of the magic millennium. A "final crescendo" is building. The end-times armies will gather to Jerusalem to be wiped out by the armies of heaven. Happy days!
That well-known expert on the Middle East, Darris McNeely, pontificates on why Jerusalem is so very important. Darris was involved in "the big dig" in 1971, so he's clearly a pundit without peer.
Scott Ashley is back with an imperious bit of American exceptionalism, a flag-draped article about "The Global Power Vacuum". Let me get this straight, Scott doesn't vote, belongs to a supposedly apolitical sect, and yet races around his office on a mobility scooter chanting U.S.A.! U.S.A.!? The reason is - should there be any doubt - "Bible prophecy", which Scott naturally understands in great detail. The article concludes:
America is heading down a dark and dangerous path, and so is the rest of the world. Bible prophecy reveals where this path will lead—to a terrifying conclusion where, if not for God’s direct intervention, human life would be exterminated from all the earth (Matthew 24:21-22).
You don’t need to tread this same path. You’re offered a much different way, a far better way, revealed in the pages of this magazine and your Bible. Instead of a vacuum of purpose in your life, you can fill your life with the understanding and real power that comes only from God.
We hope and pray that you’ll choose wisely!Then there's a nice little ad for their BI booklet to help make it all clear.
Apparently the US is heading toward some kind of election - who would have guessed it? - so Mike Kelley has radically rewritten the old chestnut article on voting. Mike assures us that "God doesn't oppose wealth", which is comforting given all the counterindications in the New Testament about eyes of needles and suchlike. But no, be ye reassured.
Helping those in poverty is often viewed as a hallmark of liberalism. But genuine concern for the poor seeks to alleviate their plight permanently through different means—by encouraging private charity and reducing wasteful human government programs and regulations to allow economic freedom leading to wealth creation and greater prosperity for all, including the poor.Moreover, Jesus compared himself to a wealthy man. So there! The Koch brothers must love this guy.
The Bible does make a case for a liberty-oriented economy — what we would today call true capitalism or, perhaps better put, private property and free exchange.Really? Can't wait for that booklet.
A number of readers may share Mike's weltanschauung, but it's hardly unbiased and is arguably inappropriate for a denominational publication. It does demonstrate the ongoing narrowing of COG engagement with the wider world, and a departure from the usual call for readers to disengage from the electoral process. I'm guessing - and I may be going out on a limb here - that Mike doesn't "feel the Bern".
Steve Myers writes about the Sabbath, "a precious place in time". Indeed, he describes it as "God's Sabbath benefit plan". Apparently it's the best thing since well before sliced bread.
Scott Ashley returns - obviously, he's been earning his salary this month - with an article on the Holy Spirit. Perhaps someone can explain why COG writers capitalize Holy Spirit when they believe it is a force not a person? Briefly, in the distant past, the WCG style guide seemed to flip on this issue and, for a very short time in the 1970s, it was holy spirit. Barely time to blink and it was back to capital letters "unto this very day".
Not to be outdone, Darris McNeely grabs his violin and pays a tithing sonata. Less said the better.
Someone who doesn't want to be identified by name has contributed an article called "The Valuable Benefits and Purpose of Bible Prophecy." As we say in this part of the world, "yeah, right!" Vince Szymkowiak writes about Pentecost and there's another anonymous bit of waffle about decision making.
This thing reads more like the Philadelphia Trumpet each month.
The PDF is available to download.
(Coming up next: Discern)