Thursday 31 July 2008

The Herbal Zone

The Most Eminent Rev. KScribe has produced a special 20 minute "Birthday Bash" video to mark (in the non-disfellowship sense) the sacred date of July 31.

The way KScribe describes it though, it sounds as though this might be his final audio-visual treat. He writes: I think this will be the last video. I find that it is just too time consuming as a project anymore. Hopefully the folks that have belonged to or who are still in the cults will find it useful in the healing process.

And treat it is with a clip from an ancient episode ("Nick of Time") from The Twilight Zone featuring a young, pre-USS Enterprise William Shatner.

Monday 28 July 2008

Zen and the Art of Armstrongism

The latest Journal, dated May 31, is out. The flavor of the month is sweet and sour, a mouth puckering contrast between Dennis Diehl and Alan Knight, Dave Havir and Norman Edwards.

My favorite headline: "Jerry Falwell believed Jesus was crucified Wednesday evening."

That's meant to add credibility to the Wednesday crucifixion theory?

New Zealanders of my generation remember Falwell best for his appearance in an Oxford Union debate on the nuclear issue opposite former Prime Minister David Lange.

My German forebears arrived here on the same sailing ship as Lange's, so despite his family's subsequent apostasy to that peculiar Anglo sect known as Methodism, I was rooting for him all the way. Best one-liner of the night was Lange to one of Falwell's supporters: "I can smell the uranium on your breath!"

Somebody called Cam Rea has written a book on what he thinks happened to the Ten Lost Tribes, and it gets a positive front page review from Mac Overton. Rea's qualifications are not mentioned, which I suspect means he has none. Another BI bloke and ex-WCGer, Harold Hemenway, has likewise spilled ink on the subject recently.

I'm more curious about this Knight character. He has provided a muddled article about WCG's "backslide in Protestantism" - despite being a COG7 member. I guess he's tired of poking the borax at his own church and being ignored, so decided to join the fray amongst the stroppier COG cousins.

I'm not sure what to make of the report that "The new online Living University sponsored by the Living Church of God, the latter founded by Roderick C. Meredith in 1998, kicks off this fall", given that LU has already held its first graduation ceremony. Hopefully the reference to "kicks off" is a tactful but predictive synonym for "kicks the bucket." One can only live in hope.

Remember the ongoing kerfuffle at Port Austin? PABC is and isn't holding a FOT this year. Confused? The solution to the conundrum is in the Notes and Quotes section which you can read online (see below.)

Most fascinating is the revelation that a connection exists between WCG and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Just when you think you can't be surprised any more!

A special AW award to William Dankenbring for the chutzpah behind this tortured headline in the Connections ad section: Celebrate with us! The 21st Anniversary of God's Activation ...of Triumph Prophetic Ministries as the replacement, "obedient" CHURCH OF GOD, Replacing the WCG as God's True Work on January 17, 1987 - one year exactly from the date Herbert W. Armstrong died!

Is this the same Herbert W. Armstrong who banned Willie's books from Feast sites?

The Journal website is, and you can preview the issue (front and back pages - which includes the PABC item in Notes and Quotes) here.

Sunday 27 July 2008

Das Wiener Haus

The photographs below recently appeared on Don't Drink the Flavor Aid. According to the blog they show the humble domicile of God's chosen End-Time twosome, the dynamic duo of Ronald and Laura Weinland, the Two Witnesses.

Nice, very nice if you're into Cincinnati chic. Not much indication of sackcloth, ashes and dung heaps here! And don't be fooled by the street frontage, take a gawp around the back.

Which just goes to demonstrate - as if it needed demonstrating once again - that tithing pays. At least it pays if you are the fortunate one collecting the Lord's moolah.

What I don't understand is just how you pick up an official accreditation for this kind of thing. Where do you collect an application form? Does Ron have a framed certificate on his wall, personally signed by Jesus Christ, authorizing him to function as His official tithe collector? Or was he commissioned by a visiting angel - the one in charge of Heavenly Throne Financial Services (HTFS)? What percentage of the Eternal's ten percent does Ron get to keep? How much does a franchise cost?

And while few of us would deny Ron and Laura a modest bungalow in the burbs, just how does God (or Ron, if there's a difference) decide that Ron should enjoy this more elevated standard of living? Does Ron have an annual performance appraisal from HTFS? Does Christ sign off on Ron's raises? Will Ron get a divine bonus this year despite seriously screwing up his prophecy about 2008? Does God issue guidelines for this kind of thing... some sort of heavenly code of ethics for His earth-bound tithe collectors?

However you look at it, being God's top punk-wallah seems to have its perks.

But a nagging question remains. How many of the Weinland tithe-force, the decent but naive garden variety folks who bankroll the Great Man and his wife, hanging from his every faux pas, enjoy anything close to a similar lifestyle?

Bye bye BI (II) - Hose(a)d Off

A further excerpt from Presiding Evangelist Rod Meredith's current editorial.

Many biblical prophecies predict what is starting to happen to the U.S. and British-descended peoples. The entire book of Hosea, in fact, is a dual prophecy - describing what was going to happen to those nations in ancient times, and what is about to happen to them today, during the prophesied "time of the end."

Say what?

The entire book of Hosea?

Says who?

I'm currently suffering through a 200-level paper on Old Testament Prophets. The content is fascinating despite a truckload of reading. The focus is on the so-called "minor prophets", including Hosea, so I've been hitting the books and cruising the commentaries. Here's the thing, none of them mention this supposedly self-evident "fact."

Frankly, I don't think Meredith has a clue about the prophets. I can almost guarantee that he's never got off his fat half-acre and familiarized himself with scholarship on this section of the Hebrew Bible.

Which is fine, most people are too busy living their lives to fuss about such obscure things... unless of course they set themselves up as experts on the subject.

People like Meredith, Flurry, Pack...

Here's my challenge to Meredith, or any other BI defenders: find one genuine scholar in the last fifty years who finds the "fact" of "dual prophecy" present in Hosea. Cite one recognized academic publication that gives credence to this position.

But it's worse than that. Qualified commentators (those who've done the hard yards Meredith hasn't) not only fail to mention this curious "fact", but instead find a whole level of meaning in these ancient texts that have nothing to do with BI. I'm willing to bet Meredith and his myrmidons are totally ignorant of that: a whole, gaping "missing dimension" to their understanding of the prophets.

Am I saying Meredith hasn't got a clue? Absolutely!

BI doesn't self-destruct solely on scientific grounds such as DNA research (although you'd think that'd give the densest champion of British-Israelism pause for thought), but also because it turns much of the Bible into a caricature of itself.

More on this later.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Bye bye BI

Good wines are said to mature with age. Age in homo sapiens, the adage goes, brings wisdom.

Well, that ain't necessarily so.

Take Roderick C. Meredith for example. Here's a clip from his July-August "personal" in Tomorrow's World."

Many thousands of you know that the British-descended and American peoples are, in fact, the end-time remnant of the ancient "House of Israel" which was conquered by Assyria more than two millennia ago, then was taken into national captivity before it supposedly "disappeared."

Many scholars describe those "disappeared" nations as the "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." But, although most historians lost sight of them, they did not disappear! Today, the descendants of those nations can be identified clearly as the peoples of northwestern Europe, Britain and the former Commonwealth nations, and the United States.


First, Spanky can't even get the facts straight about the Commonwealth. Big news Rod, it's still in existence. Not that Rod really means Commonwealth countries - which would include a whole bunch of nasty non-Anglo nations. No, Rod means the nice "white" commonwealth. Rod doesn't seem aware that these countries - such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand - are anything but "former Commonwealth nations." Pretty appalling geopolitical ignorance.

But Rod blunders on regardless: these suitably esteemed Anglo nations, along with Old Blighty and melting-pot USA (!) "can be identified clearly" as the "Ten Lost Tribes."


British-Israel theory was cooked up by a gaggle of dotty Poms in the days of jingoism and Empire, and even then nobody much took it seriously. In these days of ethnographic studies and DNA research poor old Rod is left as high and dry as a Flat Earther.

BI provides a biblical veneer to justify the cultural arrogance, economic exploitation and blatant racism of a past age. You can't get there by any possible method of biblical exegesis: only by a disregard and contempt for both history and scripture - 100% pure eisegesis.

But Rod has spent a long and privileged life learning nothing. The grammophone needle is stuck somewhere between "our English speaking peoples" and "three to five years."

Which is, when you really think about it, pretty pathetic.

Saturday 19 July 2008

Soliciting with Rob and Wally

One of the few redeeming features of the WCG was its policy of never sending unsolicited literature. If you were exposed to The Plain Truth or one of the scores of booklets it was always because you asked for it.

The various splinter groups invariably hew to this policy: UCG, LCG, PCG, CGI, ICG, COG-AIC, CBCG etc. We should be thankful for small mercies

So imagine my surprise when I received an unsolicited packet from the local franchisee of the Robert Ardis cult (Church of God's Faithful), Wally Lawton.

It's not that I know Wally: I don't, except by reputation. Wally was formerly a heavyweight with the NZ branch of PCG before leaving some months back. He has since become "Regional Director" for Ardis, who previously split from PCG.

A couple of "inquiring minds" questions...

First: where did the mailing list come from Wally? A lot of folk have been contacted in this way. Where did the addresses come from?

Second: why is Wally sending out unwanted mail to people who've expressed zero interest in his church, especially as this clearly violates the precedent set by Ardis' idol, Herbert Armstrong?

I don't know much about the Ardis group, but what little I do know is more than enough.

The first time I ignored it, but today there was more in the mail: a glossy postcard hawking the Ardis booklet on healing. One can only imagine the quality of counsel it provides.

How many more went out to unwilling recipients?

Wally, stop it!

"A Sound SPANKING of what she so brazenly displays"

My first real life encounter with the WCG was attending a mid-week Bible Study at the invitation of John Comino, then pastor of the Hamilton, NZ church. I was probably about 18. As I recollect it, the meeting was in a rented upstairs room in Victoria Street, the city's "golden mile." Comino was surprised by an unexpected standing room only attendance, which it turned out was the result of a mix-up with a local AA group. I can still recollect his off the cuff remarks about realizing his nose was a little red, but...

The other thing that remains with me about that first meeting, many years ago, was the dress code for women, who really stood out from the fashions of the time with their low hemlines.

Which leads me to this bit of history, recently mentioned on the WCG Alumni group: a GN article from the pen of Herbert W. Armstrong. Although it dates from the 1960s, it obviously had a half-life of at least ten years to still be normative in the mid-70s, and the legacy apparently still lingers even today in groups like Flurry's.

Here's that article, notable not only for the blatant misogyny, but also the reference to spanking of children, a church-mandated practice that produced much bitter fruit over the years ("Any and every child needs spankings. It is a vital, integral part of his positive teaching and training." GTA)

WHY does the Word of God confine His instruction regarding modest apparel, and the adorning of the person with clothes, to the WOMEN?

Did God desire to discriminate--to make women uncomfortable--to show partiality to men? Does God intend for men to show off themselves in ornamental and gay attire, while He commands women to make unsightly scarecrows of themselves?

Of course we know better than that. There is nothing in God's instruction to make women appear ugly, or to make them uncomfortable. On the contrary, many, if not most, women will suffer any amount of discomfort in their worship of the goddess Dame Fashion.


God never shows partiality. He never discriminates against individuals, sexes, races, or whoever. Yet God's Word does carry specific instruction for women to be modest in their dress--and no corresponding instruction for modesty in men's clothing is given. WHY?

There is a reason! I think, candidly, that the girls and women in God's Church know the answer. And for that very reason some of them seem to want to violate Gods' instruction!

What I am going to say applies only to a few. Women in God's Church are different from those of the world. But a very few need severe correction.

I do not mean that even these few go to the extremes of ridiculous fashion so commonly seen in the world. You won't see any member of God's Church wearing artificially striped hair, green eyelids, and a purple mouth, decked out in outlandish dress design and overdone wacky jewelry. But, in the category of too short and too tight skirts, and in excessively low-neck dresses, some of you women and girls need a sharp rebuke from God's ministers!

Now WHY does God's Instruction Book contain admonition regarding modesty in women's dress, and not regarding men's?

In both colleges--Pasadena and Bricket Wood, England,--I personally teach a class in Principles of Living. This class includes God's instruction in regard to sex and marriage. Sex responses operate in the mind, and the male mind does not react in the same manner as the female mind in relation to sex. Sex consciousness, and arousal, in the male, is brought about much more quickly than in the female, and is stimulated by sight, or even by imagination, in a manner that has little affect on females.

God made the female body to be attractive to the male. This attraction may be, and should be, one of sheer beauty. But also it may be, and under many circumstances often is, a stimulation of LUST. Especially when certain parts of the female figure are emphasized, such as the hips and buttocks by tight skirts, the low neckline exposing portions of breasts, or too-short skirts exposing more than is modest of the female leg.

I am quite aware that it is the current fashion, in the world, to wear short knee-length skirts extra tight around the hips. But the women in God's Church have come out of the world, and are different--or else they have not been put into His Church by God. God's daughters do not find it necessary to conform to this world, going along in its extremes of daring, or wrong, styles.

Candidly, when I see a female with a skirt tight enough to call attention to the shape of her hips, especially when tight below the hips and under the buttocks, I know that she is either careless and needs sharp admonishing or else she is wearing it deliberately to attract male eyes and arouse lust toward her in men's minds.

Do you want to know my personal reaction when I see such an example? It makes me feel that such a girl or WOMAN needs either a good lecture driven home by a sound SPANKING of what she so brazenly displays, or to be classed as a fallen woman and a common prostitute.

THAT IS PLAIN LANGUAGE! I mean it to be plain, and I want the women in God's Church to know it is coming from God's Minister, who speaks by Christ's authority!

Recently some of our girls and women have been wearing skirts that are entirely TOO SHORT! Often I have felt I ought to speak personally to some of you. If this article does not quickly correct this evil--AND IT IS AN EVIL!--God's ministers will be instructed to begin speaking personally and in a manner that ought to cause a deep sense of shame and produce a very red face on any girl or woman who invites such sharp rebuke from a Minister of God!

When many of you women wear skirts as high as the knee, and which completely expose the knees when sitting, your skirts are an abomination in GOD'S eyes. I wonder, frankly, if God doesn't blush when HE sees you! Are you women who do this, deliberately trying to tempt men into breaking the spirit of God's law against adultery? Are you trying to make yourselves adulteresses? Are you not breaking the very spirit of that law, yourselves?

In our instruction to parents in proper child rearing we teach that when you spank your child, it must be sufficiently severe to impress the lesson painful enough that he will not want to cause it to be repeated very soon. In this instruction to the spiritual children in God's Church, your Pastor is making this correction to those who need it, I sincerely hope, plain enough and painful enough that it shall not need repeating!

Neither Extreme

God's Church does not teach, nor does God's Word when rightly understood, that women should go to the opposite extreme of wearing ill-fitting, overly loose skirts that drag the dust and pick up germs. I am not saying that your neckline must be so high that all the neck is covered. God is not the author of UGLINESS, any more than of confusion or evil. God is the Great Artist who has designed all the beauty of nature.

Consequently, in conformity with the Word of God, God's Church encourages women to dress neatly, pleasingly, attractively within the bounds of proper modesty and good taste, and even with sufficient becoming style to express personality and individuality. God Himself expressed perfect artistry in beautiful design in nature--in the lily--the rose--beautiful trees, shrubs and plants--in prize-winning livestock--and even in the beautiful human body, when healthy and not degenerated.

For women to dress becomingly yet modestly, there is no need to disguise the human figure by grotesque ultramodern styles that make them look like lampshades, T-squares, or triangles. The world goes either to that extreme, or to the extreme of undue emphasis on breast, hips, and legs.

But it is in this latter category that some--yes, too many--or our women offend.

More than once I have seen a few of our women, in evening dress, exposing entirely too much female breast--with neckline cut so low as to show a goodly portion of breasts, with a crease in the middle. On one or two occasions, I have instructed Mrs. Armstrong to speak to such women, telling them plainly that their necklines are too low.

Women's breasts, in plain language, were designed by God to nurse babies--not to be flaunted immodestly to arouse lust in men.

In the matter of too-tight skirts around the hips, the excuse often is that the girl has taken on weight--and she protests that she cannot help it. But she can help it, and if she is to remain in God's Church or enter God's Kingdom, she must--one of two ways: either don't remain overweight (fasting and proper diet will cure that quickly), or let out the seam.

We want our women to be beautiful--naturally beautiful, pleasingly attractive, in good style, well groomed--but not artificially so, and this may be accomplished WITH FULL MODESTY.

It is the over-emphasis of lust arousing portions of the female body that MUST BE CORRECTED.

Friday 18 July 2008

Grabbe in BAR

Former AC professor Lester L. Grabbe makes the columns of the current Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) with a critique of that publication. He is described in BAR as "a leading English scholar" (in his post-WCG incarnation he teaches at the University of Hull) and describes himself in the article as "an ex-fundamentalist." Grabbe taught at Pasadena until the "cultural revolution" of 1978 that brought AC - temporarily reorganized as a Bible College - under the control of extremist leaders following the departure of Garner Ted Armstrong.

The COG world has produced a great many loud but less-than-expert, self-made Bible commentators, ranging from Bob Thiel to Art Mokarow. Grabbe has the advantage of actually doing the hard yards in the academic world, and of not being seduced by the dark arts of apologetics: as a result he has enormous credibility in the field of biblical studies, particularly intertestamental Judaism. He is the brother of the late J. Orlin Grabbe.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Wiener off menu in Pakistan

At last, someone has paid attention to Ron (We're in the Tribulation) Weinland.

Let's hope it doesn't go to his head.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Trouble in LCG?

From the Yahoo LCG Board:

Dana Glatz, an elder in the Montana area, left LCG and formed his own tiny group. That is sad. We met the Glatz's at the Feast in Malaysia years ago and are sorry that they have taken this step. Thus, unless he repents, he has apparently decided against being part of the major work to proclaim the gospel for his own priorities. I have heard that there will be something called the Associated Churches of God, but its website is not yet up (as of 11:55 a.m. PDT) it states: "Coming Soon..."

This follows reports of other recent ructions in Dallas, Texas and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Update: Douglas Winnail's comments (re-posted to the comments section) -

I am writing to inform you that Dana Glatz, an elder serving in the Helena, Montana congregation, has notified us that he no longer desires to be part of the Living Church of God. Mr. Glatz has some different ideas about how to understand and apply the instructions in Matthew 18 for dealing with interpersonal differences within the congregation. It is not clear at this time what Mr. Glatz’s plans are for the future. Several other couples may depart with him, but that also is not clear at this time. Mr. Glatz was asked to come to Charlotte recently to discuss issues related to resolving interpersonal differences within a congregation, however, no details of his doctrinal differences with the Church were mentioned at that time.

Dr. Fall, the Regional Pastor for the Western Region, and his wife were in Helena last Sabbath with 23 in attendance. The Fall’s have visited with members in the Helena area over the weekend—including the Glatz’s and several couples who appear to share their views. I have also been in contact with some of these individuals. Mr. Arnie Lallum, an elder in Great Falls, will work with Dr. Fall in serving the Helena and Great Falls congregations. Your prayers for all concerned will be appreciated.
** This memo is not for public announcement in your congregation—it is merely to inform you of the situation so you can deal with questions or rumors that may circulate.

Friday 11 July 2008

Pack web collapse?

The following observations come from a correspondent and have been slightly edited:

Traffic growth on the Packinator's site is now in the red. If the 30% growth ostensibly represented God Almighty's seal of approval - does the negative growth indicate that approval has been withdrawn? Here we are in the 3rd quarter of 2008 and is still prominently featuring Internet growth through the end of 2007! Gone are ever increasing counters depicting current downloads (AKA hits). Gone are the estimates for 2008 downloads. Gone are are any monthly or quarterly updates bragging about actual numbers being higher than estimated for the year to date. No mention is made of hard numbers because downloads fell through the floor earlier this year and the slide has continued unabated until this day.

The graphics comes from Alexa: click for a larger version. Alexa currently ranks around 355,000 (Quantcast 656,000). The other Pack site,, comes in at 214,000 (Quantcast 40,000). How does this compare with, for example, ?

Alexa: 132,000
Quantcast: 17,000

(Alexa measures worldwide exposure, Quantcast has a myopic focus on the US market.)

By either measure Big Dave is in humble pie territory. How are the mighty fallen.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Alright my fellow Philistines...

... time for some culture. Mix J.S. Bach's prelude from his violin partitia #3 with the down-home sound of the banjo and, well, see for yourself.

Monday 7 July 2008

Journal on UCG changes

The latest issue of The Journal is on its way to subscribers, and as usual the front and back pages are available to interested persons as a free PDF download.

Recent developments in the governance of the United Church of God get detailed treatment: UCG members may find this a "not-to-be-missed" issue. There is also a report on the bizarre re-disfellowshipment of Fred Coulter by septuagenarian LCG presiding-guru Roderick C. Meredith.

Darlene Warren appears to be back in the editorial chair of the Connections section. Dennis Diehl again provides a stimulating column, this time on a church member's "bill of rights" (for another dose of Den check out Bible Roulette.) A tribute to the late J. Orlin Grabbe provides background on this colorful character.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Rod of Authority

Bare breasted lictors gather unto Rod. Rod of God. Wicked William Ferguson has uploaded prime cuts of oral Meredith to Ekklesia. Head over there now and click on the 1997 Rod of Authority Parody link at the bottom of the page... of the page... of the page.