Monday 28 April 2008

Pluck puck puck

We've all been pretty focussed over the last month or so on Ron Weinland. Understandably so. When the old red rooster plucks itself and then jumps in the stew-pot unaided, swimming around with the carrots while clucking, there's got to be an appreciative audience to applaud.

One of the great things to come out of the Weinland kerfuffle is new voices on the Web. Kudos go to Weinland Watch, Don't Drink the Flavor Aid, Bereans (all Weinland specific), Shadows of WCG (which has been around a while longer, but has really stepped up to the plate on this issue) and Ironwolf (if I remember correctly, Robert McNally's website predates the original AW site.) Like everyone else, I go to these sources first to catch up on the latest hilarious episode as Ron blusters and backtracks. My favorite bete noire, Bob Thiel, has done a pretty good job too - just don't tell him I said so. You can find links to all these sites in the sidebar.

So what next? Will Ron still be crowing after Pentecost? After Tabernacles? Will COG-PKG survive the end of The End? Check out the new poll.

Sunday 27 April 2008

The Wiener Effect

It's been a rare month for AW, with visits already hitting a 12 month high days before the end of April. This month had the highest single day's traffic on - wait for it - the seventeenth!

I'd like to thank Ronald Weinland for his assistance. Without his warbling loon-call it'd have been a much more modest affair. In fact, as you can see from the graph*, "the Wiener effect" has been driving traffic up for several months.

But bad news Ronald, the Google searches for your name are dropping away. To put it kindly, you're rapidly becoming last week's fish chowder. Big buildup, huge expectations, and all we get is a little tap-dancing on the hot coals of bitter reality.

Yes Ron, I know my metaphors are mixed, but not nearly as mixed as the feelings of the good people who got caught up - wallets and hearts - in your lurid, ego-driven fantasies.

So is Ronniekins now doing the right thing? Even a little "ooops!" maybe?

Over on the Shadows blog there's a transcript taken from Witness W's latest oratorically-challenged preachment. Here's an excerpt:

"I'll discuss these things later on, again, we realize maybe some will have that opportunity, but I do want to be clear here that because of this last Sabbath, God has made it abundantly clear, and it's also posted on the site, I wanna clear some of this up.

"I've talked about the 45 days and the 90 days, that was done on the James Whale show, primarily to give an idea here on the general timing of events
for his sake and the listening audience. We see how quickly he got onto that one, I'm joking, he didn't, he never could get it, toward the very end I think he finally got it, you know, when I was saying 45 to 90 days. I want to make it real clear. Nothing will happen specifically about the second trumpet obviously until after Pentecost...

"So we are going to have the opportunity to get together again on Pentecost, and we are planning that, so again, I can't plan certain things until I know. What happened last Sabbath, I didn't know what the 17th was going to bring fully, by any measure, but uh, it is very clear that we will not have anything happen on a massive scale to prevent us from coming together on Pentecost. So all the Elders in all the areas that set up locations, we're going to same locations again as a whole, so I'd like to ask all the elders to please make plans accordingly, and to rent the facilities as necessary because that is a Sabbath, and High Day the following day on Sunday, so that gives us another opportunity to do like we did last weekend. So we are going to have that opportunity again...
We are going to have the opportunity to come together again on Pentecost. So, okayyyy."

So okayyyy? Everybody back to orange alert, we'll do it all again at Pentecost!

There's an old adage: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

* Graph updated since original upload

Saturday 26 April 2008

Why does Joe have a dog in this fight?

WCG makes the news by sticking its hooter into the inter-Episcopal dispute.

The United Methodist Church and a handful of other religious bodies have rallied to the side of Virginia's Episcopal Diocese as it seeks to reclaim millions of dollars worth of property from breakaway congregations in court.

The U.S.-based Methodists, as well as two African branches and the Worldwide Church of God, joined the Episcopal Church this week in challenging the constitutionality of a Civil War-era Virginia law on which the case likely hinges.

What interests does WCG have here?

Update: Stan has some further detail and links over at his excellent AR blog

Wednesday 23 April 2008

It's turning to custard...

Now there's talk of an insider coup to topple Ronnie from his COG-PKG throne, or is it just clever Ronnie covering his options? Hard to tell. It's not clear whether "plan B" comes with Ronnie's imprimatur or not. In fact it's hard to assess the value of the source that's spilled the beans.

Either way, Weinland will not be a happy chap to see it hit the Net.

To put it in perspective, the pathetic little power play inside a minuscule sect is irrelevant. At best it's game-playing by a bunch of hopeless yobbos splashing around in a very small pond. All of the Weinland PR over the 17th couldn't score a story on AP, not even under "human interest".

The Weinland Tribulation was always going to be the Tribulation you're having when you're not having the Tribulation. Anyone who thinks they can pull their chestnuts out of this campfire intact is, well, nuts.

But there's certainly entertainment value for those of us on the sidelines. Popcorn anyone?

On a different tack, have you ever wondered what became of Herbert Armstrong's relatives? A tip off on another thread suggests that the guy in the picture above is Larry Gott, a grandson of HWA. Larry has a series of talks on YouTube called Prophecy Schmophecy: None of it is true.

Way to go Larry! Finally, an "Armstrong" who makes sense! You can catch part 1 here, part 2 here, and part three here. And yes, he does mention HWA (briefly in pt.1) and Ronnie (pt.3)

Tuesday 22 April 2008

What can you say?

This piece of visual art comes courtesy of Ekklesia's Bill Ferguson. I think it captures the true spirit of Ron's ministry nicely, and it's more convenient that phylacteries!

Does this qualify as "mocking"? If so, please tell Ron that Bill made me do it!

Bill has been a busy fellow, digging up this classic bit of Armstrong spin from 1953.

Now HERE IS SOMETHING STARTLING! Herman Hoeh, in his eye-opening article you will read in the June number of The PLAIN TRUTH on the Times of the Gentiles shows that the Times of the Gentiles---if chronologies are correct---will come to their final end in the year 1982. Very few have ever rightly understood the Times of the Gentiles---what they are, or when they end. They are to last until all the Gentile nations come to ACKNOWLEDGE that God is the real RULER over all nations and men. They will not acknowledge that when Christ first comes. Instead, they shall fight against Him---at Armageddon---and resist His rule. Christ shall rebuke strong nations afar off UNTIL (Moffatt translation) they recognize these truths. Christ will have to send famine, and then plagues, in successive YEARS, upon the Egyptians, before they will acknowledge Him as rightful RULER (Zech. 14).
Now if this chronology is correct, that means Christ shall return some very few years PRIOR to 1982! NO MAN KNOWS THE DAY, HOUR, OR YEAR OF CHRIST'S RETURN. But we CAN know exact dates of one or two other events. Jesus also still has to complete the confirming of the COVENANT---the NEW Covenant---with Israel for 3 years after He comes, according to the prophecy of Daniel's "70 weeks." (Dan. 9:24-27). The last half of that 70th "week" (actual 7 years) remains to be fulfilled after Christ's return. He was "cut off" by being crucified after 3 years of confirming the covenant (Rom. 15:8 and Dan. 9:27). We do not know, however, whether this last 3 years to take place after Christ's coming will coincide with the period required for the Gentile nations to come to acknowledge Christ as WORLD RULER.
Then, besides, there are two other 3-year periods prophesied to occur prior to Christ's coming. The first of these begins with the invasion of America and Britain in World War 3. THEREFORE we have a TOTAL OF THREE 3-year periods, or 10 years, which MUST occur between the invasion of America and the ending of the Times of the Gentiles. The invasion of the United States with HYDROGEN-bombs that shall destroy our cities, therefore, must BEGIN at least 10 years PRIOR to the ending of the Times of the Gentiles! IF THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES END IN 1982, in October, as Mr. Hoeh has it figured, THE INVASION OF AMERICA AND THE GREAT TRIBULATION MUST BEGIN NOT LATER THAT MARCH-APRIL, 1972!
So there you have it, it was all Herman's fault. Or maybe not, after all it wasn't Herman who plastered it all over the PT and screamed about it in CAPS to the faithful co-workers with Christ. You may not have even been alive then, but the old sinner wasn't a lot different from the guy most of us knew and loved decades later ...
And that's the other "enchanting" thing about this letter; the blatant call for money. Read the whole thing on Ekklesia, but take precautions first and have a barf bag handy.
Meanwhile, here we all are - finally - in the Weinland Great Tribulation (see picture). As they say, better late than never. Remember to lock your doors and practice saying: "Ich bin ein römisch-katholischen!" The stormtroopers could be dropping by any day now.

Russell Duke's Fertilizer Business

So much trivia, so little time.

For example, Grace Communion Seminary. How did that slip past me?

There's a link on the WCG home page, and another to the unmemorable ACCM. Apparently they aren't the same thing... or are they? And does anyone care?

Competition for Living University? Russell dukes it out with Michael Germano (warning - violent content, do not click.) Is Dr. G still on board? I'm not sure...

Now if "Grace" only offered a BTh I would gladly transfer so I don't have to write a 3000 word essay on the authorship of the Pastoral letters before the end of the month!

A little observation to finish with regarding the word seminary.

It was the Lutheran pietists who coined the term (another essay, don't ask!): "a term whose root means a hothouse for tender plants - to be nourished ostensibly by the loads of 'fertilizer' dumped on them by their professors!" (Carter Lindberg, in an address at Lutheran Theological Seminary)

So yeah, good name!

Monday 21 April 2008

Khazars, Wisconsin Dells and Ron

You'd have thought everything that could be said about Armstrongism has been said. But not so. Here's a selection of new resources available online.

* Over at Greg Doudna's Scrollery is a new article by Neotherm - an active contributor to discussion here on AW. Neo discusses the highly anti-Semitic variety of BI that flourished at Big Sandy which adapted the arguments created by Arthur Koestler in The Thirteenth Tribe. Neo doesn't name names, but even here in far off NZ some of us were aware of ministers who were deeply impacted by this teaching: David Robinson, author of Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, is one such individual who comes to mind. WCG was hugely conflicted over Judaism, but one aspect that needs to be factored in is the conspiracy mentality that existed in "mainline" BI, represented by groups such as the British-Israel World Federation which actively promoted nonsense like Gary Allen's moronic None Dare Call It Conspiracy in the seventies.

* Bill Ferguson continues to provide access to fascinating historical documents on his Ekklesia site. Recently 1975 In Prophecy! saw the light of day again thanks to Bill. Now there are two new articles, a letter by John Kiesz, a fellow minister with HWA in the Church of God (Seventh Day) prior to the latter's apostacy, and an article published at the time of the 1975 Feast in Wisconsin Dells that reveals the direction GTA's thinking was taking at that stage. Both can be accessed from this page.

If you're not completely Weinlanded-Out, there's some excellent new stuff on various blogs. Shadows of WCG is one, written by a former member of one of Weinland's WCG congregations. Her (?) reflections on Ronald's ministerial style are enlightening, as is an unmissable "open letter" to Weinland which poses the hard questions. Simply brilliant.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Witless in Jerusalem

Ronnie Weinland is going down with all guns blazing. There's an amazing entry on the Weinland Watch blog: "It has begun." Highlights...

* Laura, a.k.a. Witness Two, "is to “witness” (i.e., watch) Weinland “witness” (i.e., prophesy). Yes you read that correctly."

Wow, do ya think Laura can handle all that responsibility?

* "the sound of the first trumpet was only heard by truly converted members of god’s church..."

How convenient.

* "Weinland’s first act as one of the two witnesses of the book of Revelation and the spokesman for both is to call forth cancer on all of those who mock him."


* "This sermon makes it more than clear that he will not step down, as he promised “by Pentecost or July”, as the proof in the pudding is supposed to be the second trumpet, which is supposed to sound (with death, destruction, drought and diseases) in 45-90 days ...”

There's still gold in them there gullible co-workers.

The whole sorry sermon can be heard online, for those with a masochistic tendencies.

My reaction: this guy is one sick bit of...

Oh wait! News just in from an alternate earth in a parallel dimension. The tribulation has begun! Remarkable pictures here... or rather, there. Posted above is one that shows the alternate Bob Thiel being struck down by the Witnesses' Wrath! Thing is, the First Witness there isn't Ronnie... it's hard to make out, but it sounds like... Doctor Hoeh??

Saturday 19 April 2008

It's the missus!

The Two Witnesses are now revealed. We knew number one was Ronnie, for he told us so. Now, confirming all the pundits' speculations, we learn that number two is Ron's lovely but long-suffering wife, Laura. Surprise!

As someone has already pointed out, Johnny Harrell must be gutted - upstaged by a woman! Aren't the "little ladies" in "Wiener World" supposed to keep silent? A woman as the second Witness? Now there's a turn-up for the books. Could this be the End... of COG misogyny?

Fat chance. But maybe there's another reason Ron is keeping it "in the family."

Ron's credibility tank is almost on empty... even Johnny must be having secret doubts. The manipulation is going to be harder to get away with as each day brings further disconfirmation. The tithe dollars will be drying up as we speak.

But the real question now is how much money did Weinland bleed from vulnerable, credulous people in the last 12 - 24 months? If the game is up - and it is, despite the desperate posturing - the next question is will Ron and helpmate Laura give back the money?

Not likely! Ron has an exit strategy. Apologize, admit that he got it wrong, walk away.

That's exactly what he's said he'll do. I believe him.

Walk away with money in the bank.

It has been, I suspect, a brilliant short term fund-raiser for Ron and Laura's retirement.

Please note, I'm not suggesting anything illegal. Ronnie is far too clever for that. In fact, that's the tip-off: he doesn't come across as a raving loon. Ron is more calculating. He'll probably even put on a good show of genuine regret for his sincere excesses.

But I wonder whether after that, sufficiently "humbled" but cash-rich, Ron will then fade away in obscurity to a distant but sunny spot with a very nice home in a gated community, vehicles and golf club membership.

A case of "so-long suckers!"?

Tuesday 15 April 2008

A Tribute to Witness Weinland

Ronald Weinland is an inspiring figure, and as he goeth forth to meet his destiny this week, it only seems fitting that his prophetic mission be marked by profound theological discourse and suitably reverent songs of praise. To this end AW has two offerings: a peer reviewed discussion reflecting on the nature of time itself (of which we're fast running out as Ronald heralds the End), and inspiring music that captures the greatness of the moment we are all privileged to be living in.

The first link is to the very topical discussion "What Time Is It...?"
The second link is offered as a deeply respectful serenade in the Spirit to accompany the revelation of the Second Witness (warning: may contain glossolalia, the sound of the second trumpet, and nuclear weapon detonation.)

Please use both resources prayerfully.

Monday 14 April 2008

Bloggin' On

Some good comments on various blogs lately. Two in particular worth mentioning tonight:

Stan Gardner's AR blog: Stan takes a look at the by-laws over at the independent Big Sandy church as they relate to the current situation there, then moves on - using some of the documentation available on Bill's Ekklesia site - to ask some interesting questions about WCG's (including specific ones for Bob Thiel and Roderick Meredith).

Questions to Bob Thiel: As you are an apologist for Armstrong, Ambassador Reports would be interested in hearing if you have any facts on how the 5,051 members noted allegedly voted for this 1968 resolution. Where did this vote occur? How were the votes counted? Prove Armstrong didn't lie, falsify and perjure himself about this church member vote.

Questions for Roderick Meredith:
Were you sitting as a director on the Radio corporate board at this meeting Jan. 5, 1968? Can you then explain how the mysterious 5,051 thousand member vote is in fact legitimate and proper, in supporting your own director's vote, in favor of the board resolution your own boss may have falsified?

Stan has also given his blog a makeover, so well worth checking out if you haven't dropped in for a while.

James Pate's Musings: And now for something completely different: for all those fellow Trekkies out there a few thoughts on the Star Trek Voyager episode Barge of the Dead. It was certainly a memorable show, if one of the "darker" ones.

Saturday 12 April 2008

"How do we know...

... that you're a prophet, Ronald, and not just some sort of nut-case who's hearing voices in his head?"

That's the question Ron Weinland was asked on Britain's TalkSport radio this week by James Whale (who, as the photos show, actually looks a lot like Ron, except hipper.) I'm not sure Ronnie really answered it. But for those of you unfortunate folk living in the USA, Ronaldo proclaims nuclear attack within sixty days, or maybe ninety... it kinda depends... But those devious Europeans are right now planning a surprise attack on America's port cities (San Francisco, New York.)

And lo, Ronnie will be announcing from Jerusalem just who will join him as number 2 in the Two Witnesses next Sabbath, the 19th. My best guess is Big Bird from Sesame Street.

Are we all excited?

"My end is already written in the book," says Ron. Lucky guy, not everyone gets a personal mention in scripture. And starting the 17th (that's this Thursday) the pope is going to be very unhappy with Ron!

45 -90 days... the second trumpet gets blown. Ronnie seems to be backing away from saying that anything will actually happen on the 17th. Could the old boy be stringing this out while he milks the publicity - and income stream - for all its worth? Perish the thought!

"Why are you going to Jerusalem?"

"That's where my job starts."

You can expect the Israeli authorities will be keeping close tabs on this bloke when he touches down. He probably has a file right next to Rohan's and David Ben Ariel's. My advice? Don't let that sucker off the plane.

You can listen in to Prophet/Witness Weinland's interview right here. Knock yourself out!

Thursday 10 April 2008

1975 in Prophecy!

Forget the diseased, lunatic ravings of those who think the Great Tribulation begins in just seven days time. God's Apostle has already spoken - and there's no finer authority than that forgotten classic by Mister Armstrong himself - 1975 in Prophecy!
Of course, there's a small problem. This inspired work was withdrawn decades ago. In fact, by the time I began reading church literature in 1970 as a teenager, 1975 in Prophecy! had already been decommissioned.

Hmm... I wonder why? I sense a liberal plot by false brethren here, the precursors to the demon-driven STP cabal and the wicked Tkachites who trashed the Apostle's other inerrant masterpieces... until Gerry's flurry of final restoration.

But why won't Gerry reprint 1975 in Prophecy! ?
The more you think about it, there's got to be a niche here for a new COG sect: the real hold fast Philadelphians. Forget the crass, watered-down liberals like, um, Meredith, Pack, Bryce, Weinland, Coulter and Dankenbring. We could call it the Church of God (1975)... It has a certain ring! But how do we explain the fact that '75 came and went? Not a problem, let Herb be true and every man a liar. Think of it as the ultimate test of faith as you write out your tithe check.

Of course, if you want to be a charter member with a private box in Petra, you'd better get familiar with the sacred text, and here's where Bill Ferguson's Ekklesia site comes in. Click on this Ekklesia link and scan down the page (no. 6) to surf your way to astounding new, or should that be old, truth. Yes folks, this is the 1956 edition in PDF format.

And there's even Basil Wolverton artwork! What bliss... Not even Ronnie can offer that.

Meantime, reset your watches and adjust your calendars.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Contemporary COG

Bring out the guitars, raise your hands in praise... no, it's not a Tkach congregation, it's classic COGism for the younger demographic (I can't find many oldies pictured on their website). Lots of kids, guitars... you just know these dudes don't use the purple hymnal!

Who are they? Rock Valley Church. I'm guessing that in a previous (and less cool) incarnation it was called Lake Elsinore Sabbath Church, but I could be wrong.

Well, I'm impressed anyway... if the PR matches the reality (and you have to admit the site looks swish). But - and this will doubtless come as a huge surprise to most of you - I'm a cynical old codger. Does the reality match the carefully crafted hype?

I'm guessing that this is Bill Lussenheide's home patch. Unless I'm mistaken pastor David Liesenfelt is related to and/or a business associate of the Luss. Bill, do you care to share?

Sunday 6 April 2008

Bad News for The Good News' Bad News Junkies

Here's a crisis for Spanky and the GN team to unite in guttural moans over:

The world's oldest and biggest insurance market said that though the lack of major disasters had allowed firms to push up profits 5% in 2007, underwriting margins were being squeezed...

Oh dear oh dear! What will poor old Ronnie Weinland make of this?

Dennis Diehl, longtime watcher of world news and prophecy, has donned sackcloth and composed a commentary thereon... not to be missed!

Friday 4 April 2008

Who'd have thunked it?

Question: Who wrote the most Biblical books?

a) Paul
b) John
c) Solomon
d) Moses
c) Art Mokarow

Well, Paul has seven uncontested letters, the Johannine corpus is a bit of a mess (is John the Elder the same as John the Disciple, and what about John of Patmos?) but given the most generous estimate it can't go beyond five. Solomon was credited with Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, but even if that was so (and it isn't) it counts as only two. Moses has four to his credit, if you discount the efforts of JEP and D...

But Art Mokarow is clearly the winner, and here's proof from an ad appearing on Alan Ruth's Journal website (Alan is webmaster, and seems to be contracted to handle its day to day running.)

Order Free CD that unlocks the Bible's Mysteries
by Art Mokarow, author of 12 Biblical books!


Tuesday 1 April 2008

Strong Thunder or Brain-dead Blunder?

The latest issue of The Journal is on its way to subscribers, and its got a finger on the pulse of several significant issues.

For starters there's coverage of the Weinland cult. There is a revealing treasury of Ronnie's written claims, though The Journal - being The Journal and polite to a fault - dignifies the self-proclaimed End Time prophet and Witness with the honorific "Mr. Weinland." (Be assured that Hell will freeze over before this practice is adopted here.) The title "Strong Thunder" is borrowed from this article.

The Big Sandy situation gets an airing. Dave Havir wishes peace on all, while John Warren has nothing to share but his disappointment. As Dr. Smith repeatedly said on the 60's TV show Lost In Space: "The pain... oh the pain!"

There's extensive coverage of the Mokarow/Carrozzo conflab recently held in Dallas. There were 19 speakers with a daily attendance of around 35, which you'd have to say is a somewhat modest achievement. Among those turning up for the occasion were such notables as Anthony Buzzard and David Sielaff.

There's coverage of the latest palpitations on the UCG's council, with several pairs of knickers apparently tightly knotted over the issue of "bloc voting".

Reg Killingley has a column on promoting peace, a relevant topic given Reg attends the Big Sandy church. Dave Havir tackles the issue of Apostolic succession (which indicates, I guess, that the Big Sandy brethren aren't about to ordain him Bishop or even provide Dave with a gilded pectoral cross...) Dennis Diehl has some thoughts on the narcissistic New Age fluff in The Secret.

In short, for COG news junkies it's an issue not to miss. Download the front and back pages, or even better, get a subscription and help ensure that Dixon can keep this much needed resource going. (Note to the webmaster - it's not easy to shuffle through all that detritus on the main page to actually find subscription details...)