Dennis Diehl has a guest posting over at Corky's blog, including comments on the Weinland fiasco that continues to unwind before our eyes in slow motion. Well worth checking out.
Which reminds me, only fifteen days to go before Ron's Great Trib ("take 2"). My prediction is that a giant rotten omelette (probably metaphorical, but we can only pray for a literal fulfillment) will descend from the heavens and hit the End Time Witness squarely on the kisser.
We came from a koo koo background, no doubt about it. I know I fully believed while growing up that I'd only live to be about 27. As WCG members, we never even questioned that "fact" until Jesus ignored the personal appearance schedule which HWA had arranged for him.
It is shocking that people from within the Armstrong movement have not learned a thing from decades of false prophecy. Oops, correct that. They have learned the value of the classic HWA scam!
Still, it is mind boggling that they do what they do regardless of Jesus' own words to His disciples as recorded in the gospels.
There are some honest Christian ministers who do believe that Jesus will return, but don't set dates, and don't extrapolate subliminals from Scripture to artificially include the US in end time prophecy.
To me, the psychological implication of hard apocalyptic preaching is irrelevant, although somewhat interesting in terms of identifying personality types. It's the financial fleecing and/or enslavement that screams out for justice or retribution. I doubt that Jesus is amused.
Byker Bob wrote:
"It is shocking that people from within the Armstrong movement have not learned a thing from decades of false prophecy. Oops, correct that. They have learned the value of the classic HWA scam!"
Unfortunately, this is so very true.
It's something that intrigues me – how folks can make virtually the SAME exact mistake repeatedly, over and over and over again. Quite a monument to human stupidity, and to the ability of fundamentalist religion in general to dull the human mind into passive nonthinking.
I remember once hearing an outstanding series of lectures entitled “The Wisdom of History” by Professor J. Rufus Fears – and he pointed out that the first lesson of human history is that humans don’t learn very well from history. Sad but true – and this fact seems doubly the case for prophesy-based religion.
But, then again, consider the low quality of “curriculum” within the COG’s – and by that I mean that they do not seem to grow or expand or evolve very much at all. Instead, their teachers instruct them decade after decade in the same things. This is sort of the equivalent to being in grade school for 30 or 40 years, and never progressing any further.
The COG’s seem locked in a time warp in many different ways – and the results are fairly predictable. Weinland & Company is just a more blatant and tragic example of this observation in action.
Then add to that the fact that the “students” are desperate to give their leaders, at bare minimum, 10% of their income – and I guess the temptation is just too great for the COG gurus.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
Inscription on a sign at the scene of the 1978 mass suicide in Jonestown
I have to take issue with Byker and Leonardo this time.
I spent considerable time around HWA. He wasn't a scam artist. He was tragically but sincerely wrong in several areas, most painfully in D&R, "church government," and its potentially abusive offspring, "The Plain Truth About Child Rearing." But he was also right in at least as many areas in which he was wrong.
One takes what he can from experiences and moves on. Wacky personalities may have been exacerbated by the Armstrong experience, but it's not easy to believe Armstrong made them wacky. They're still wacky, and we watch them clump along in their pitiful delusions. If they hadn't become fueled by the Armstrong experience, they'd be just as wacky somewhere else.
In the field of marketing/advertising Armstrong was a recognized genius. He put together an extraordinary physical plant and assembled a team of remarkably able people. There was immense value -- public speaking, arts, quality environments, Biblical overview, terrific people -- bundled with an interesting but eccentric theology. Unfortunately, and especially in the hands of insecure ministers, the errors hobbled a work that might otherwise have been corrected and refashioned into a more viably influential church.
While he lived, most were too enthralled with him to take him to task on erroneous doctrinal matters. Tragically, the fixation on Armstrong still won't allow other personalities to fix major errors, so they continue to limp along in the same old, same old status quo.
Confirming The Sequence Of End Times Events
The clearest explanation of End Times events I have found.
Ron is not mentioned.
"I spent considerable time around HWA. He wasn't a scam artist. He was tragically but sincerely wrong in several areas, ..."
That is a classic example of Byker Bob's previous statement:
"It is shocking that people from within the Armstrong movement have not learned a thing..."
Even a cursory glance at the mounds of documentation available would more than prove that HWA was indeed a scam artist, and a very good one.
One example comes to mind: Sometime in the 70's he invited a bunch of AC students to dinner at his home. He spent the evening showing them all the expesive furnishings. At dinner he showed them the solid gold place settings, candelabra, etc. Then he pointed out the solid gold salt shakers, which were reproduction Louis IV, especially made for him by Harrod's of London, and bragged that they cost $125,000. That would be a lot more in today's dollars.
At the same time as he was bragging about his worldly goods he was sending out a letter to his gullible idolizers claiming that the "Work" was in desperate financial straits.
Another example is his "You are a worthless piece of shit" letter in which he told those on his mailing list that they were just like the excrement that blocked up the bowels of his dead wife, unless they sent him money.
I guess some people just can't admit they were taken to the cleaners. As someone else has already mentioned, "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Baashabob, at the time when you or your friends were having dinner at Mr. Armstrong's home, enjoying a table set for royalty, Armstrong had built a church empire with an income in the neighborhood of $100 million+ annually. He had hundreds of salaried reps all over the globe, many of whom served people so poor that they could never repay HWA's outlay on their behalf. He met a large payroll, one might say completely dependent upon his personality, teachings and credibility.
HWA's salary was determined by a board of professionals, and by that time he could afford nice things. Many of the nice things in his home were there for entertaining people of renoun, which is reasonable considering the vast scope of Armstrong's many benevolent projects. It is quite likely that the place settings enjoyed by those college seniors were corporate property. Armstrong felt that AC students should know from experience how to cope at a level comparable to state dinners, so he created the facility. Having students experience that kind of event was, in my opinion, praiseworthy. No one forced him to have to have students in his home, but he chose to, to his credit, because he felt such an experience was an important part of their education.
Had he sold the salt shakers for six figures, he could have used the money for another part of "the work," but he chose to use it for salt shakers. With over a hundred million annually, and a growing enterprise, he had a large payroll to meet. The salt shakers wouldn't have met the payroll, but a co-worker letter could.
By what you're suggesting, the new administration had the better idea. They commenced to offend most of the loyal membership with poorly justified changes of doctrine, and in so doing cut off the money-flow. Then they had to sell the physical plants to make ends meet. The colleges were sold to people more competent to use and maintain them than we were. For us, "Less was more." Lovely old adage, that one.
"And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her."
I had to quote that. Perhaps the new administration will give the proceeds from the sale of its church assets to the poor, bless their hearts...
"Perhaps the new administration will give the proceeds from the sale of its church assets to the poor, bless their hearts..."
What they need to do is give the proceeds to those they made poor: The thrice-tithing sheeple, and their descendants, like me, who are still feeling the pinch because of it.
-- The salt shakers wouldn't have met the payroll, but a co-worker letter could. --
This much is true. However, if he hadn't bought the saltshakers and other pretties in the first place, there wouldn't be a question about his motives -- at least, not in this particular way. Plus, there was more to HWA's expenses than table settings.
You suggest that students benefited from the experience of being surrounded by the opulence of royalty. I imagine many people would. But when I see that old Young Ambassadors film depicting a typical dinner, all I can think about is poor old Mrs. Jones in my local congregation, a single mother who scraped to feed her five children and still send something in to "Mr. Armstrong" when he sent out an emergency letter. I think of Mr. Webster, who didn't have much, but willingly gave what he had to help "the Work" when it was "in trouble."
That's really what it means when you say a co-worker letter could meet the payroll. We're not just talking about a piece of paper that was copied a hundred thousand times and sent out across the land. We're talking about people who were giving as much as they could -- more, in fact, than they should -- and still were made to feel bad if they couldn't give more. Mrs. Jones, an elderly lady now, still talks about the enormous sadness and hopelessness she felt whenever she would get one of those letters -- because, you see, she really believed. She really cared. (She still does.) But she had already given everything she had. And yet, all the money Mr. Webster and Mrs. Jones struggled to give couldn't buy even one of the golden forks on Mr. Armstrong's lavish table.
What's more, you can't tell me the students were benefiting all that much from that locked warehouse full of objets d'art that HWA picked up on his worldwide trips. This stuff was purchased with WCG money and brought back to Pasadena, then tucked away someplace where it wasn't seen again for years. Nobody -- not even the receiver in the 80's -- knew for sure how much there was until it was appraised for WCG's yard sale. Gavin posted some images from the auction catalog a few years back, and many of the pieces are very beautiful. But is that a proper use of money that had been donated to God?
And let's not forget that HWA wasn't the only one using money to furnish his home. Other leaders saw his example and followed it. Evangelists such as Ron Dart, Rod Meredith, and Dibar Apartian wrote receipts for such things as plush carpet and fine window curtains, to be paid out of the third tithe fund. Third tithe, you see, was for the benefit of the widow and the Levite.
Look, Herbert W Armstrong was not Jesus. He didn't need to be anointed before his death. And his actions didn't seem to show nearly as much regard for the poor as Jesus' did. Which is more important -- buying a piece of crystal for Deng Xiaopeng, or letting a hundred people like Mrs. Jones provide lunch for their kids without guilt?
("A lot of people think a private jet is like a very expensive car," HWA once told someone in his limo. "They don't realize it costs a thousand dollars an hour even when it's just sitting on the ground." That was in 1970's money, and it too was fueled by third tithe...)
I know for a fact that there were some students who dreaded being invited to HWA's house. Some even dared to ask, "Do we have to go?"
Apparently this attitude was seen as a widespread enough problem that we were once reprimanded for it by the student body president during Saturday morning "hymn-along" in the Student Center.
I never got past seeing HWA as anything other than an angry, firebreathing, ambivalent authority figure who would just as soon expel or disfellowship you as he would deal with your sincere but difficult questions or challenges. I guess you could say I always saw him as a kind of "necessary" monster that you went out of your way to avoid displeasing in any way. He surely isn't anything like most of the compassionate and Christ-like ministers on TBN!
He surely isn't anything like most of the compassionate and Christ-like ministers on TBN!
Wasn't, BB, wasn't anything like (he's dead now).
I don't think the ministers on TBN are "Christ-like" at all but they are very syrupy mouthed and the honey just fairly drips from their mouths when they talk.
Besides knowing how to pry money out of people's pockets, they are definitely nothing like HWA.
Anonymous 9:01, I agree with just about everything you said, so I'm kind of wondering where our positions would differ, and what exactly you would “take issue” with.
I especially agree with your comment "One takes what he can from experiences and moves on." This is really the only sound viewpoint any reasonable person would take with respect to our various experiences in the WCG.
I've never claimed HWA to have been a scam artist. Do I believe him to have been totally sincere? - yes, I do. Deluded? - absolutely. Having had personal visions of grandeur with respect to him being "God's Apostle"? – without a doubt. Often guilty of incredible hypocrisy? – certainly.
But KNOWINGLY deceptive and purposely running a scam? – no, I don’t have any credible evidence whatsoever to come to that conclusion.
And Baashabob, your comments are pretty shallow and seem quite hostile, typical of the best of the mass media “spin doctors” – emphasizing one set of facts while neglecting many others that would add balance to the entire picture. Did you work as a “media consultant” to the Obama campaign?
HWA’s 1967 “feces letter” (as you refer to it as) was indeed a bit over the edge by today’s standards. But his wife of almost 50 years had just passed away, and his emotional upset at such a loss was clearly in evidence. But to imply this was just another facet of the scam is a little much, don’t you think?
HWA's co-workers letters dating all the way back from 1934 are out there on the Internet for all to read. And yes, he was CONSTANTLY claiming that "the Work" was facing "financial emergencies" - complete with threats of the lake of fire to keep those dollars flowing into HQ, etc.
But I see this as more the result of HWA's self-delusions than an outright, purposeful scam on his part.
"But I see this as more the result of HWA's self-delusions than an outright, purposeful scam on his part."
Then you're still an apologist for Armstrongism, Leonardo.
Past time for you to wake up and smell the coffee.......
“There is a bit of advertising pyschology that has worked on us all.
It is a trick, but it works!
When I was just starting out, still unconverted, at age 18, in the advertising profession, I read in a book on advertising psychology that if we ASSUME a thing to be so, and we state it over and over, often enough, people come to take it for granted and actually believe it.”
(Herbert W. Armstrong, The “STRANGE GOSPEL” We Preach—and WHY, The Plain Truth, August 1961, p. 16.)
Note the words “us all”. This is worth thinking about.
HWA believed he was right. He convinced himself before he convinced anyone else. That is one reason why he was so effective.
"He ... assembled a team of remarkably able people."
Joe Tkach Sr.?
"He wasn't a scam artist. He was tragically but sincerely wrong in several areas, most painfully in D&R, "church government," and its potentially abusive offspring, "The Plain Truth About Child Rearing." But he was also right in at least as many areas in which he was wrong."
Right in what areas?
"While he lived, most were too enthralled with him to take him to task on erroneous doctrinal matters."
Not because his WCG ministry was so enthralled with his greatness. They failed to take him to task because HWA had his ministry's balls in a vise, that's why.
"Then he pointed out the solid gold salt shakers, which were reproduction Louis IV, especially made for him by Harrod's of London, and bragged that they cost $125,000. That would be a lot more in today's dollars.
At the same time as he was bragging about his worldly goods he was sending out a letter to his gullible idolizers claiming that the "Work" was in desperate financial straits."
Should the AC "cream of the crop' then bemoan having a graduating student 'state' dinner with the old buzzard, drooling over his million dollar place setting?
Their future paychecks, financial security, and standard of living were tied into those coworker letter scams mailed every month.
Now we're getting into semantics. A self-delusion imposed on massive numbers of people, and an outright scam both have the same net effect. One is as bogus and damaging as the other. The scam-meister is a criminal, and the self deluded is mentally ill. Which is worse? I see no difference.
Corky! You went for the bait. When I posted what I posted, I did consider "isn't" vs "wasn't". I decided that probably someone would rise up to correct me if I used the present tense. In fact, HWA does not reside in his proper place in the past as rightfully he should. For some people, his influence very much brings him into the present. "Isn't" is valid.
Also, like yourself, I tend not to like the syrupy actor type preachers. They probably are charlatans, although we cannot know their hearts. I avoid them in favor of the sincere ones who actually stick to the gospel.
"HWA believed he was right. He convinced himself before he convinced anyone else. That is one reason why he was so effective."
Maybe he did convince himself his bull was fact, because he alone stood the most to benefit from marketing his own bs.
He repeated his 4th grade message over and over and over again to his church, who weren't allowed to graduate to the next level. Constant repetition is key to propaganda bombardment. He knew if he repeated the same regurgitated garbage over and over again, he knew some would come to believe his line of bull was truth, no matter what the odds were against it.
By creating a 4th grade unaccredited college, he could have a ministry further repeating his same old bull over and over again from his propaganda skule, in the printed material, and preaching it in his local tithe sweatshops, multiplying and spreading his bull.
"Note the words “us all”. This is worth thinking about."
Yes, let's think about it: This article was in the Plain Truth, aimed at non-baptized "worldly" people. Wouldn't do well to give the impression that he was above the tithing peons, now would it?
The readers of that PT article might not even have been aware of the three-tiered tithing system, at that point.
You're splitting hairs, Graham. Just as Weinland and Flurry and Hulme and Meredith are in their false prophecy business for the money (and Junior is in his "refutation-of-false-prophecy-and-we're-really-the-one-true-church-but-don't-tell-any-Christians-that-shhhhhhhh" business), so was Armstrong.
It's a shell game. Always has been, and always will be. Never read Robinson's "Tangled Web"? Herbie never believed what he was selling, not for a cold second: He just sold it like a pro, and lived like an emperor, while the rest of us starved, and admired our pontiff without portfolio's gold-plated cutlery and expensive suits.
"I avoid them in favor of the sincere ones who actually stick to the gospel."
And which gospel would that be, Bob? There are contradictions and errancies between all four of the canonicals.
Diversity between the canonical gospels is undeniable, and "harmonizing" Fred Coulter style is essentially dishonest. But Bob, along with theologians, is distinguishing between the gospels (the three synoptics and John) and the gospel - the message behind the Christian proclamation, and that is perfectly legitimate.
Of course, we could argue over exactly what that message is...
Libro says, "Look, Herbert W Armstrong was not Jesus. He didn't need to be anointed before his death. And his actions didn't seem to show nearly as much regard for the poor as Jesus' did."
Fair enough. My point was only that occasionally one brings out the best bottle of Scotch even when the budget is tight. Armstrong had enough to provide dinners to seniors, but meeting the payroll was a matter of tithing and extra donations.
To some of the other Anons here, I don't mind being an apologist for the things Armstrong did right. He did a lot of things extremely right, and missed the mark just as powerfully in other areas.
For example, he taught tithing and generosity, but failed to teach proper limits, to the extreme hurt of some followers who erred by giving far too much, actually endangering the lives and health of their families.
He rightly taught that Saturday is the Sabbath -- but he failed to teach many of the subtlties of Sabbath keeping that a better understanding would have made clear. For example, since the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel, then to what extent are non-Israelites required to observe it?
He never explained the true nature of Biblical tithing, that it is a Holy-Land-based agricultural commandment, and that it is only observed in principle outside the land of Israel. Within the land it serves only for the support of a functioning Levitical priesthood. Many choose to give a tithe to their churches or favorite charities, but the nature of that kind of tithing was never explained.
He rightly taught that there is a Biblical 3rd tithe, but failed to teach that it was a variation on the 2nd tithe, diverted to widows, orphans and Levites during the 3rd and 6th years of each "week" of 7 years. And he failed to teach that these agricultural tithes were not gathered and distributed by a headquarters administration, but were completely the responsibility of landowners. They gave their tithes, 1st and 3rd, to the Levites in their own tribal areas as they saw fit. For that reason God often had to remind landed Israelites not to forget their Levites.
The rights and wrongs of each of Armstrong's major teachings are almost endless, and particularly difficult because they have a Biblical base mixed with unbiblical applications due to inadequate understanding. It's no wonder that many of his ex-followers developed a general contempt for religion, having seen so many Biblical teachings wrongly or insensitively applied.
God credits Himself with raising up a shepherd with serious flaws in Zechariah 11. It definitely happens. In retrospect Armstrong seems to have been cast in a similar mold. He taught many Biblically derived concepts, but failed to understand how many of them should have been applied without damaging the flock. It seems that many of his followers were seriously harmed by his misapplications of Biblical teachings.
Personally, I'm grateful for the Biblical overview I got from the Armstrong experience. I very fortunately never suffered the tragedy of D & R, one of the most horrific misapplications of Scripture in HWA's lifetime. But anyone who studies church history must know that the WCG hasn't been alone in misunderstanding and misapplying Biblical teachings. I think that HWA actually fixed -- or started fixing -- a lot of things that were wrong with the mainstream, but this is neither the time nor place for such a discussion. Goodnight.
"Of course, we could argue over exactly what that message is..."
True. I admit, I need to stop shooting the messenger, at least over here. Consider my anti-Bob stance rescinded, at least on AW. :-)
Anon Mon Dec 01, 10:29:00 PM NZDT wrote:
"For example, he taught tithing and generosity, but failed to teach proper limits, to the extreme hurt of some followers who erred by giving far too much, actually endangering the lives and health of their families."
Ahhh, the old "It's the members who erred" thingy, once again!
You know, this is a very common contention, among apologists for a wide variety of destructive cults.
My contention is that Armstrong employed underhanded tactics of thought reform which tend to usurp a person's ability to use free will.
Now, I'm not saying that a person isn't ultimately responsible for his or her self, but what HWA did was an extreme violation of his members' psyches, and only after(and if) extricating one's self from the brainwashing, it's often a long row to hoe in order to achieve freedom of mind again.
Don't get me wrong here- I was a kid who grew up in HWA's cesspool of a "church", but never joined.
So, what I say is not out of some psychological need to absolve myself of personal responsibility.
Then, Anon Mon Dec 01, 10:29:00 PM NZDT wrote:
"The rights and wrongs of each of Armstrong's major teachings are almost endless."
Well, I think the "wrongs" are quite finite(not "almost endless" as you say[tho I can see how it may appear that way to a member who lost a spouse or child due to adhering to the 'doctrines' of 'the Apostle HWA']).
The "wrongs" are often difficult for ex-members to come to terms with.
Yet, many have done a good job of quantifying and evaluating them.
And as far as you classifying the "rights" as "seemingly endless"...
Well, those are like words I've heard before-
words that come from apologists (for a seemingly endless bunch of destructive cults)- words that exalt the goodness of those destructive cults and promote the apologists' delusions.
Mel, if “apologist” is the moniker a person wears for defending what was and is right in Armstrongism, I can live with that. It’s no condemnation; it was Armstrong, not I, who so often said, “Never apologize.”
Since I don’t have the “authority of Jesus Christ,” I’ll defend myself on the authority of John Wayne, speaking to his horse, Flicka, in his movie, The Alamo.
"Now, I may sound like a Bible beater yelling up a revival at a river crossing camp meeting, but that don't change the truth none. There's right and there's wrong. You got to do one or the other. You do the one and you're living. You do the other and you may be walking around, but you're dead as a beaver hat."
Any former member who reviles the whole of his or her experience with Armstrongism will be burdened with self-revulsion. The Armstrong experience was too all-encompassing; it will forever be an indelible part of everyone who participated seriously. It has to be understood honestly, and honesty must allow recognizing the good and the bad. How else does one go forward? So I will be an apologist for the good side of Armstrongism, and gradually replace the bad in my life with more good. What else is there?
Hi again, Anon,
It would be nice to discuss this further, but now the topic is about to drift off the front page. So I'll just say thanks for a short but measured, reasoned set of posts. I agree with and disagree with some of what you said, but it was a discussion, not a shouting match. Thanks!
(Do it again sometime?)
The End Time.
Could there be a more important time for God’s spokesman for the Two Witnesses of Revelation to speak loud and clear?
Mr. Harrell, I’ve taken the lilberty of notifying 60 Minutes that Ron and Laura are The Two Witnesses of Revelation and they have a message they need to get out. This may give you a head start on arranging publicity for The Two Witnesses. I’ll leave the rest to you.
Some Suggestions Ron:
1. Ron, when God’s talking - take notes.
a. You’ll be less prone to ramble.
b. You’ll be able to state with certainty and specificity what God tells you.
c. You’ll be able to tell your listeners whether a prophecy will be fulfilled spiritually or literally thus avoiding confusion. Not too much to ask from a prophet, is it?
2. Ron, if you don’t understand or are unclear what God is saying, ask questions.
a. He picked you as the spokesman for the Two Witnesses, you have the right and the responsibility to ask if something is unclear or if you don’t quite understand, no? Is that too much to expect?
b. He appointed you the spokesman for the other Witness, so you are doubly responsible for getting it right, no?
c. By asking until you understand, you can avoid having to explain why things don’t happen they way you said they would happen. This goes back to clarity.
d. Don’t speculate. Just tell us what God’s saying. Give it to us straight.
e. Lastly, as I am sure you’re aware, God says if the words of prophet do not come true, do not fear him. Speak accordingly.
f. Prophets prophecy they don’t speculate.
Ron, despite what has gone here-to-fore, you have this opportunity, a reset given to yourself by yourself, to prove you are God’s End Time prophet.
Ron, I am certain God wants you to get it right. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes. God will appreciate it and so will I. We’ll be listening.
What will you prove to be?
Hello Anon(Tue Dec 02, 10:18:00 PM NZDT),
FWIW, I don't revile the whole of my experience "in the church", or, as it may be termed, "in Armstrongism", although as I said, I grew up in there but did not continue on and become a baptized member.
I do have some good memories, and to this day have some dear friends from those days.
But the destructiveness of the church, I cannot deny- nor can I see it as an overall good institution that simply naturally had some negative facets.
References to Old Testament "men of God" who had faults make me cringe, when such are used to defend HWA.
In my opinion, such arguments seek to elevate a common schmuck to undeserved biblical proportions.
“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.”
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