Tuesday 5 April 2016

1963 (Postscript)

Published in 1963, The Inside Story of the World Tomorrow Broadcast never again saw the light of day. No revisions, no reprints, no updates down the decades. That's probably understandable given the changes that quickly dated it. But Inside Story wasn't merely dignified by a slide into obscurity, it was officially withdrawn and the membership was commanded to throw away their copies. Don Billingsley certainly chucked his. On his COG-FF website he has posted a warning to the unwary.

It seems some people didn't get the memo.

It's a fate that, if Don has it right, was reserved for quite a number of other publications.

  • Modern Dating (Garner Ted Armstrong, 1969). Really bad advice by a dude who certainly hadn't practiced what he preached.
  • Divorce and Remarriage (1953). The justification for the unyielding doctrine that split families apart, but was later revoked.
  • Marriage and Divorce. More of the same from 1973.
  • The Plain Truth about Child Rearing (Garner Ted Armstrong, 1970 edition). A truly horrid approach to raising kids. (PDF here)
  • The Real Jesus (Garner Ted Armstrong, 1972). Jesus recrafted to fit the WCG's paradigm. Later bloated out into Ted's first full length book and released just before he was booted out of his father's church for good. (PDF here)

Alas, these publications survived unto this very day. Herb may have imagined he had prophetic insight, but he didn't forsee the Internet. The embarrassingly inaccurate The Proof of the Bible (1958) was a special case as it was enormously popular. It was supposed to be killed off and all stock destroyed in 1972 but was allowed to quietly fade into oblivion instead. That story was covered in some detail in Ambassador Report. (It appears that this was yet another example of plagiarism with Herb basically rewriting a 1933 Seventh-day Adventist publication called Prophecy Speaks by Earle Albert Rowell. )

The reason these titles are still with us is the devotion of an enduring Armstrong remnant who believe they are still relevant, or perhaps they're just on a nostalgia trip. The reason many of us appreciate their efforts is a bit different, the documentation of a system that would rather not be remembered "warts and all".

Douglas Becker has thoughtfully transferred Inside Story into flipping book format, and it's already (fast work!) available. You either love or loathe this format and, in general, I'm decidedly on the 'loathe' side, but in this case, due to the smaller size of the pages, it works really well, giving the genuine booklet 'feel'. 


Anonymous said...

"Mr. Herbert Armstrong instructed members to remove this booklet from their homes and the church stopped production of this booklet. The cover is shown to inform brethren of what this booklet looks like in case in case they have accidentally retained or obtained a copy over the years."

Translation: "Dear sheeple, if you respond to the name of "brethren," I'm confident you'll be more than willing to help us in our quest to rewrite history. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. We now return you to the regularly scheduled propaganda."

Anonymous said...

The WCG never had a systematic theology. Instead it had a collection of little booklets that reflected the organizations state of evolution or devolution at any moment in time. So the average Armstrongite has a collection of knowledge of uncertain provenance in his/her mind and this passes as The Truth. On any given topic, it could be something read from a booklet, read from a magazine or heard in a sermon. This also means that there was and is great diversity in belief.

For instance, I heard an Ambassador College trained minister (I believe he was a preaching elder) who stated before the Wichita, Kansas WCG congregation that introverts would not receive salvation. For God to save someone, there has to be a personality for God to work with and introverts are devoid of the needed personality, hence, no salvation. (This was also a subtle endorsement of all the ministers who had big hair, big cars, expensive suits, big opinions and aggressive self-righteousness who populated the Armstrongite landscape.) There seemed to be no reaction to this statement from the Wichita congregation and I had to hang onto my chair to keep from falling out. But now this point of "Truth" is a part of what constitutes Armstrongism for some people who heard it. Who knows how far and wide this guy preached that. And I wonder how many Armstrongite introverts know they are on their way to gehenna?

If we had to reconstruct what Armstrongism is, without a systematic theology, think of how many interviews we would have to conduct. Because as a religious philosophy it is sequestered away in the minds of all the victims.

What constitutes Armstrongism depends on what exposures a given person has had. But I think that anything that has a Herbert by-line will always be a part of the canon no matter what caveats.

Stephen said...

"...I heard an Ambassador College trained minister...who stated before the Wichita, Kansas WCG congregation that introverts would not receive salvation. For God to save someone, there has to be a personality for God to work with and introverts are devoid of the needed personality, hence, no salvation."

Being an introvert, perhaps THIS is the explanation for why I could never find "god." I never had a shot in the first place during this lifetime because I was devoid of the necessary personality!

Sounds like as good a reason as any. Another explanation, of course, is that I couldn't find him because he doesn't exist. But, for the sake of argument, let's assume he does.

Thinking about it from this jaundiced, but not altogether unbiblical point of view, there have to be other classes of people who were also never "in the running" for that jealously-eyed "first resurrection," and must be doomed by no fault of their own to a certain eternity of second-class citizenship under a cabal of entitled "firstfruit" ministers with their rods of iron, and maybe a harrowing death in the "great tribulation" to boot.

This was our idea of god's "wonderful" plan of "salvation" for everyone besides us. Almost by definition, "they" were "damned" to be "saved" later. Odd when you think about it...

Babies who die before they are of sufficient age to grasp the concept of an invisible man in the sky who watches their every move and judges them on it according to criteria no one on the planet can agree upon?

Condemned to god's tophet for now, I guess! Praise the eternal with a psalm!

Kids born with syndromes that render them mentally incapable of comprehending the process whereby such an envied crown might be obtained?

Sucks to be them. Next life, perhaps. Hallelujah praise god! The eternal shall reign!

But, of course, let's not forget the billions of other people who are also condemned to this sorry and pitiable fate by god's simple decision not to call them. It certainly wasn't their fault god decided to darken their minds. Whatever, they'll get the punishment they deserve! Don't forget they're all occupants of this same accursed boat too. Poor, pathetic, losers. Unfortunate souls. Worldly vermin, the lot of 'em.

Or as a non-Armstrongite might refer to them: people.

It doesn't make a whole lot of difference why I could never find a god. What's important is that I didn't.

According to the theology, the fact I wanted to be a good christian, tried to be a good christian, is irrelevant. If god did not predestinate me to be a "firstfruit," then it really doesn't matter what I might or might not do or believe. I'm wasting my time falsely identifying myself as a christian during this lifetime. Nothing but "wanna-be" christian status was ever in the cards for me. A wrap from the get-go.

So, better leave Armstrongism to the "special" few. There's nothing there for most of us, who their god isn't interested in "calling" during this lifetime. Don't fool yourself. Odds are, you might as well be an atheist, for all the good it will do you trying to be a christian. Not sure what convinced so many people over the years that just because they heard a radio show or watched a TV program were all "called." That really was an unwarranted assumption. This god doesn't need a reason to waste our time. Mysterious ways. As I keep pointing out, this is all according to the theology.

But shaaaaaame on me for not wasting the rest of my life going around in the same frustrating circles? Next life, perhaps. Assuming there is one.

Byker Bob said...

I believe one of the reasons why the booklet was removed was that it showed precisely where HWA and GTA's offices were located. The absolute worst offense a student or employee could commit during the years that I was a student was to tell an outsider where the Armstrongs lived, or where their offices were. By this point in time, there had been death threats, not the least of which came from non church member men who felt that their marriages and families had been broken up by the Armstrongs and their d&r doctrine.


Minimalist said...

On page 10 of the booklet it says the preaching of the (true) Gospel ceased by 70AD.

How can that be when the Gospels (which they use as essential 'inspired' information) hadn't even been written by then?

So the chronology for the emergence of their 'false-Gospel-orthodoxy' conspiracy theory is way off!

Scholars have known for 200 years the likely dates for the Gospels, so why was the A.C. Theology Dept. so off track? Because they were fearful yes-men to the inviolable theories of the cultmaster Bully who was known to erupt in fits of rage.

Anonymous said...

Serif and flipping books... I cringe to consider what opinion there might be in the formatting of the colorized version of 1975 in Prophecy with music and a video at the end. Of course, it's not really a flipping book, because it uses iSpring Presenter learning software. Looking at the cc for the comments can be amusing as well.

The Inside Story of The World Tomorrow Broadcast is significant for reasons not yet covered here: It was the exposition of the establishment of the Church Cult Corporate, replete with all the triumph of image over substance accompanied with the internal political intrigue that always accompanies the establishment of corporations of medium to large size. Garner Ted Armstrong was busy date raping Ambassador College coeds, boozing it up with his alcoholic buddy, David Jon Hill, Roderick Meredith was establishing himself as someone REALLY important, the lies about "changed lives" was being promulgated at a time that the descent into REAL corruption was really beginning, the luxury of being rich and increased in goods was being established just after the lean times of the 1950s when everyone wondered whether the church would even survive, while at the same time there was the rush of energy propelled by the vision of tomorrow's successes just beginning to appear on the horizon.

This was 1963, just before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the war in Viet Nam and the protests and the start of the Hippy Movement -- which folded well into the selling of the World Tomorrow, Plain Truth Magazine and (eventually) the Worldwide Church of God. The times set the stage for phenomenal growth in the 1970s with adding television to the mix. The cold war was still very much in vogue with the threat of nuclear annihilation creating the potential to leverage the Great Tribulation and the Place of Safety as recruitment vehicles.

If you ignore "Moral Mazes" and "The Corporation", it would be easy to miss the significance of the corporatization of the Radio Church of God, but without it, Stanley Raider would have never made it on the scene and the WCG would have fizzled before it could splinter into hundreds of sects.

Who is really behind The World Tomorrow was really an important question -- certainly not answered by the booklet which was little more than a PR vehicle. If people could have answered THAT question at the time, the world today would be a very different place for those who suffered through the abuse of the cult.

Anonymous said...

Black Ops,

I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis.
What seems to be missing though is the transferral from the "Radio Church" to the "Church Body with Local Congregations."

I believe it was in 1953 or so that HWA was made aware by the then "business manager" that in order to comply with regulations for tax exempt status, local churches needed to be established. At that time you see a rapid rise in the establishment of local congregations, starting from Texas to all over.

So the "Corporatization" started earlier, necessitated by the tax regulations for "exempt" status.

HWA speaks about that in one of his co-worker letters.

Later of course WCG ended up as a "Colorado sole" signalling the complete understanding of the law of man.


Anonymous said...

You may be right about the corporatization beginning earlier, but the booklet seems to make it clear that 1963 was the year that the foundation was completed for the launch to the 1970s.

As for local congregations for tax status, it seems that a lot of these religious organizations today have little more than TV stations and / or websites and they still get tax breaks. Perhaps the law changed if it were ever that way. Non profit has some broad interpretation.

In any event, having congregations meet in rented halls without a permanent presence in the community has always been problematic and really shouldn't be tolerated as evidence of any real reason for tax exemption. As always though, opinions don't count, especially when speaking of the IRS.

Anonymous said...

Yes I think you are right with the groundwork being laid.

I could not (on short notice) find his remark on the "need" to establish local churches by the instigation of the business manager's tax concern.

I did find other gems with them travelling to Washington in 1948 for acquiring tax exempt status. There must have been only a couple of hundred members worldwide at the time but he had already made a decision in 1947 for a European Ambassador College at Lugano. (fascinating)

Then in the early 1950's problems arise with members not having local churches and travelling to California and Texas. A lot of articles start to center about the need for members to STAY PUT without a local church since FIRST and FOREMOST is the Work of preaching the Gospel, only second is the feeding of the flock.

The IRS law is from 1954

1959 Stay Put

1957 (diminishing the urgent need for the establishment of local churches)

So yes in 1963 the infrastructure is ready for expansion and ride the wave of the expanding American Empire and it's subsidiaries, in the fight against the godless Soviet Union.


Anonymous said...

Ah just found Mr Cole's story.

In either 1952 or 1953, Mr. Cole continued, the Radio Church of God and its Ambassador College, in Pasadena, Calif., underwent an audit by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

"The lawyer for the church and college was a man by the name of Bolivar O'Rear," Mr. Cole said. "Mr. O'Rear had in his earlier legal practice been an attorney for the IRS in Washington, D.C. He knew the ins and outs of the Internal Revenue Service as well as any man could."

Mr. O'Rear, who died in 1956 and was replaced by attorney Stanley Rader, had been instrumental in gaining the church's and college's tax-exempt status, and years had passed with no one questioning the status.

The IRS wanted to determine "if we were operating as we had submitted documents stating we would," Mr. Cole remembered.

"In short, were we living up to our claims that we were a legitimate church and college? In those early years [church founder] Mr. Herbert Armstrong kept the small local church in Pasadena and the student body informed of most of what was happening within the organizations. We were family."

The church and college came through the audit with a clean bill of health but with the observation from the auditing officer that the church--in order to be called a church--was short on the required number of local assemblies.

"There were only six or seven" in those days, Mr. Cole said, "depending on how you counted."

The IRS man recommended establishing a lot of local church fellowships as quickly as possible.

Therefore, after graduating in 1954, several new graduates including Mr. Cole scattered to their new assignments "to contribute to the solution of this shortage-of-local-churches problem."

Burk and Susie McNair moved to Tacoma, Wash.; Dean and Maxine Blackwell went to Chicago, Ill., and St. Louis, Mo.; and Wayne and Doris Cole were off to Corpus Christi, Texas.


Minimalist said...

Could it be more bizzare:
Meredith, kowtowing to Armstrong's iron-fist imprimatur, claims the "true" Christian message disappears by 70CE (page 10). What do we know about the pre-70 (Jerusalem destruction) Christian didache? The only writings we can hang our hat on are a few by Paul, including 'Galatians' - very stridently antinomian - the very antithesis of Armstrong/Adventism's "true gospel"! Worse for Meredith/Armstrong's case, Armstrong/Adventism heavily mines Mark/Matthew (post-70CE proto-orthodox fiction that attenuates Pauline antinomianism) for Legalistic proof-texts!?!

Minimalist said...

I like the Flipping-book format!

Those tape recorders (page 30) are Ampex model 350-mono versions. Many famous Top-40 hits of the 1950s & 60s were recorded on this model!

The distance microphone from GTA's close-talk Telefunken condenser mike (page 31) is a vintage (even for 1963) RCA ribbon microphone. Probably used to mix in some room reverb to add authority to GTA's voice.