Wednesday 28 February 2007
A mirage of abundant living
Every year at around this time it has become my custom to help supervise a school camp for sixty plus 10 year olds. I always return exhausted but with a deeper appreciation of what we used to call "human nature".
As we all know, "human nature" is vanity, envy, lust and greed. At least that's the litany the Armstrongs used, and the ministers parotted ad nauseum. These days, thank God, I'm a lot more optimistic about the human condition.
The news about Steven Lessard arrived just as I was heading out the door with my bags on Monday morning (thanks Gary). It's a tragic story, and more proof, if we needed it, that being a COG Christian is no guarantee of the "real abundandant living" that Rod Meredith has drivelled on about for decades. Back in the 70s the WCG in this part of the world launched an advertising campaign based on "happy families": a bit like KFC launching a nutrition campaign. I've known maybe two really fine examples of happy, loving families in the church. Most fell well below the threshold. All those smiling faces in the GN and TW - Mum, Dad and freshly pressed kids - invariably come from photo agencies, and are likely to be Baptists or Catholics. Terry Ratzmann apparently swallowed the hype, and so did Steven Lessard. A lot of good it did them.
"Raised a Catholic, the youngest of five, Kathy grew up in South Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood and later worked as a clerk for the state of Maryland. She became involved in the Worldwide Church of God, an evangelical denomination with 67,000 members in more than 100 countries. She met Steven Lessard at a church event for young adults.
"Family members said the Lessards often traveled on what they thought were church-sponsored trips. They did not celebrate holidays and while they could receive cards, as far as the Aros knew, there was never a Christmas tree in their house."
The Lessards were, like most AW readers, estranged from the WCG. Like some of us they continued as "independents", trying to "hold fast" to their COG identity. I'm not sure I want to comment further on the Lessard murders, other than to note that the Kathy and Linda's passing was to be acknowledged with a funeral Mass, a compassionate gesture in the direction of Kathy's pre-COG Catholic roots. May they rest in peace.