Sunday, 14 August 2016
Life at AC
Well, actually not.
Gary recently linked to a HuffPost article by Wendy Keller, also doing the rounds on Facebook. It's essential reading for anyone with any remaining illusions about how great that place was. I guess there are legal reasons Wendy doesn't name the minister she "counseled" with. She clearly wasn't the first - or the last - to be treated in this abysmal way either. Some of the ministers simply got off on this sort of thing - fantasizing about real and imagined sexual behaviors of the young people they were supposed to support and guide.
Wendy was an intelligent and resilient young woman who rose above her "Ambassador experience". I wonder about the more vulnerable souls who were crushed by the hierarchic, abusive system, some just broken and confused, others - tragically - co-opted into the organization with its perverse values.
Compulsory reading IMHO.
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There were some very naive students who somehow escaped the realization of what was actually going on. They accepted the administrators' explanations without question, allowing themselves to receive constant upgrades in their programming. Since Pollyanna was the ideal, exemplifying the "correct" attitude, collectively, the Pollyannas caused some who might have had normal doubts or questions to feel guilty and repent of such attitudes. Many of the Pollyannas collected information on unapproved attitudes, and shared these attitudes with the appointed student body leaders and the faculty, spawning "counselling" sessions. Pollyanna became the establishment, an insurmountable brick wall that confronted and elliminated any non-conformists who didn't accept the edict that "You've come to Ambassador College to change!" Some could also never accept and embrace the UAP (Universal Ambassador Personality), a personality disorder that lives on today within the splinters. Very repressive, indeed. The atmosphere masked legitimate outrage over such situations as Wendy has now exposed.
It is terrible that students at Ambassador College went through acts such as that described in the article. Shame on that so-called "minister."
Who is Wendy Keller and why should we believe her? I am not sure how she was connected by the moderator to AC.
Do you REALLY want to know the answers to your questions? REALLY?
Then it would be real easy to get some answers. Here is her website below. It has LOTS of details about "who she is," and gives you contact information on how to reach her with your questions, including a phone number.
Who are YOU? You don't even have a name on here. :-) We know nothing about you. Are you willing to be as "open" as this woman is? If not, why not?
So come on... check out her website. CONTACT HER and ask your questions in person. And then get back to us with the answers to your questions.
Wendy Keller website
Pam (Who is not afraid for anyone to know who I am.)
Who I am and what my name is, is not relevant in the context of this blog. Whereas, someone who seems to be making public statements (for instance, via Huffington Post) needs some minimal credentialing.
My question was a serious one. I am not just pushing back. More of us need to ask about the sources of our information. I just read the section of her website that is about Wendy Keller. It said in the text: "Our church ran its own college in Pasadena, California." Is she talking about Ambassador College? Providence Christian College? What is she talking about? Given that she has concealed much, how do we know the context of her statements. Has anyone heard of Wendy Keller before?
If this can get passed your contentiousness programming, "I am just asking?"
Yes. I know her. I also know her ex husband and the horrible tragedy they suffered while at the Feast. Both she and her ex husband are well respected in their counseling fields in the area.
Her story is not an isolated case of masturbating counseling sessions. These kinds of stories were well known by the students in Pasadena. Many ministers and department heads asked intrusive and sexually explicit questions of both men and women when counseling them. It was all about control.
The only thing that you have written that makes me think that she was a member of the WCG and went to AC is that fact that you mention the Feast.
I think Dixon Cartwright should give us a lesson in how to establish background for reporting.
Maybe everyone knows Wendy Keller but I have never heard of her and I can only assume there are other readers of this blog who may not know of or about her. When she talks about a fundamentalist college, it could be any of the many. Why should we connect it with AC?
This is like talking about John Doe without remotely introducing who John Doe is and why we should be interested.
"My question was a serious one. I am not just pushing back."
LOL! YES, you are. I gave you what you need to find the answers to your questions. A DIRECT connection to the woman who was "giving her testimony." A personal website where you can find out many things about her. And contact information so that you may spend as much effort as you are willing to get answers to your serious questions.
You didn't respond to ANY of that. Why? Is it just too much effort to reach out to her? She is obviously a "public person" who has opened herself up to inquiry.
Gavin made it very clear in his original post that she was speaking about AC. This is a blog that for years has been, in part, about Ambassador experiences. If you don't want to expend any effort beyond just reading what is posted here, that's your business, of course. But to imply that you are somehow prevented from getting answers to your "serious questions" seems to me invalid.
I would like to sincerely invite you to read... really read... this woman's life story. MUCH more of her story than that one episode Gavin shared. It is on her website, and it is stunningly heart-wrenching and poignant.
And you can doubt if she "meant" AC in her Huffington Post story, but I think the following from the website autobio makes it very clear it was AC.
"When I was four, my dad took off. I didn’t see him again until I found him when I was 28.
When I was six, my mom remarried. Soon after, my parents joined an extreme Fundamentalist Christian cult. We believed, among other things, that the End Times were coming any day; that women were made solely to serve men and had no intrinsic value in themselves; and that we were the only chosen people of God – everyone else was worthless unless they converted to our beliefs.
Despite this, when I was 10 I won a district-wide writing contest; at 11, I won my first sales contest because I’d gotten the most new subscribers for the newspaper I delivered; at 16, I graduated high school and began college. I got my dream job working at a newspaper – the Prescott Courier in Arizona. I was so incredibly happy to be doing what I loved – with people I admired and could learn from. That year, I won a scholarship for an article I wrote on photovoltaic cells – solar energy was an exciting new thing at the time.
After the scholarship ran out, I didn’t have enough money to stay at Arizona State University. Girls in my church were not supposed to want careers or an education. They were supposed to want husbands and babies. My parents were already unhappy that I was attending ASU, which had a great reputation for journalism but a bad one for being a party school. But I didn’t drink. I read my Bible in my dorm room. I lived a very innocent life.
Our church ran its own college in Pasadena, California. That’s where you went if you hoped to marry a minister. I had no such hope. I wanted to be a journalist. My parents offered to pay for my education if I switched schools."
I'm serious, though. I do hope you will go to the link and read the woman's story. It is worth your time.
There is also no excuse for not knowing about John Doe! He was the leader and chief songwriter for the band "X", and played characters in several well known films, such as Road House, and Great Balls of Fire.
I Google things all the time, and then google more things to confirm the information that is discovered. With information being just a mouse click away, there is never an excuse for not knowing.
I think your contention circuits are overheated. You don't understand anything about what I said and the point I made. Try clicking off some of the gratuitous pugnaciousness and you will communicate better - maybe hear something over the noise.
What I am asking is really quite simple. I have never heard of this woman, so:
1. When this girl speaks about a fundamentalist college is she talking about AC? (Yes or No)
2. Was she a member of the WCG at the time of these events? (Yes or No)
3. Did the events she describes on her website happen at AC? (Yes or No)
Keller does not answer these questions on her website. So don't refer me there.
The moderators reference to an "Ambassador Experience" may be a direct connection to AC or it may refer to a class of experiences. Some of us have had "Ambassador Experiences" in unrelated venues.
This is really simple stuff that was left totally unanswered. I don't need a rant and a bunch of accusations in order to have these questions answered. And, no, I am not going to take the time to write to her because I am not that interested. It seems like these questions are simplistic enough that they could be answered within the confines of this blog.
So I will make it easy. To the three above questions: Is the answer "yes"?
Reply with either the one syllable word "yes" or the one syllable word "no". That's all it takes. I don't need a salad of superfluous adjectives, adverbs, nouns and prepositions.
For heaven's sake - of course the reference is to AC. Just read Gary's comment above: "Yes. I know her. I also know her ex husband and the horrible tragedy they suffered while at the Feast. Both she and her ex husband are well respected in their counseling fields in the area." Are you calling Gary a liar? His Pasadena connections are impeccable, and I can vouch for him after working closely with Gary on the pre-2010 AW.
Or go across to the Banned site, August 5. The very first comment (clearly not Gary's): "I remember her from college. I am glad she is speaking out."
Couldn't be clearer, could it?
What on earth motivates someone to go into unnecessary denial about it being AC? You're being both defensive and pedantic. Why? Do you have a problem with women speaking out about abuse? I know you're no apologist for WCG, so what game are you playing?
Ditto, Pam and Gavin. Near Earth Object seems curiously unmoved by the content of Wendy Keller's post.
And WHY are you not sufficiently interested to write to her if you are so concerned about which college she refers to?
I believe that Wendy married Jeff Zhorne , a minister , and they suffered the tragic death of their two children in a car accident, while ministering for the WCG. Jeff and Wendy, divorced and both eventually left the WCG. As she stated in her bio, they do remain friends to this day though.
I remember Wendy being a spokesperson/testimonial for Tony Robbins (the motivational speaker), on some of his infomercials a number of years ago.
Pasadena has had numerous Bible Colleges in its midst for decades. None of the three current ones, including Fuller Seminary, has ever referred to themselves as "God's College." Only one has ever done that and it was Ambassador College. Anyone with even the slightest bit of connection to the Church of God know immediately a COG is involved when they hear the phrases, 'God's church" "the Truth" "the true church".
Not naming the college is just like the college/church that was featured in the book "The Oldest Sin" by Ellen Hart. The church in that book was called "The Church of the Firstborn". Anyone with any connection to Armstrongism quickly realized she was writing about Herbert Armstrong and Ambassador Collage. While all f these code words are not unique to Armstrongism, it is Armstrongism that has worn them all proudly.
The greatest thing about the fall of Armstrongism is that no one knows what or who it was/is any more. The median age of Pasadena residents is 36.7. No one knows who Herbert Armstrong was, what Ambassador college was, Imperial Schools, or even the Ambassador Foundation. That is why it is necessary to keep the spotlight on the various splinter COG cults.
I think all of us are in favor of responsible journalism, because we know that presenting facts is the most likely path to educating people away from erroneous mindsets. I trust materials presented by Gavin, Gary, and Pam, because I know that they value journalistic integrity, as I do myself.
Which makes me wonder if this Near Earth Object actually is Neo, Neotherm, or Greg. The approach of Near Earth Object seems out of character for Greg, who in the past has been open for, and made time for additional research, and has always taken a carefully measured approach in the heat of discussion.
OK. Here we go. This is really simple. So let me cite and example. When I first read the moderator's response I had no idea who Gary was or where his comment might be found. Gary who? I was thinking about writing back and asking who Gary is. A simple way to a direct answer. My belief at one time was that some considerate person would have written, "Oh, the moderator means NO2HWA." This issue would then be settled, easily and quickly. I don't read this blog every day and some of the stuff is not at the highest levels of my awareness.
Now if I had asked who Gary is, would that deserve a bizarre rant from Pam with all kinds of gratuitous accusations? Would that have deserved an "Of course, its NO2HWA," like anybody who is anybody should know it is Gary? Am I being both pedantic and defensive because I asked a simple question? Does NO2HWA saying "yes I know her" answer all the questions I asked and resolve all the issues?
Does this make me soft on Armstrongism? I have no doubt that what Wendy Keller stated could happen within the bounds of the WCG. But since I do not know Wendy Keller or her history, I am not sure exactly what set of factual circumstances she is talking about. But such a simplistic question cannot be presented to the freaked-out paranoid.
Is Near-Earth-Object actually Neo or Neotherm? Or Greg? (Who is Greg? If I can ask without triggering a volcanic eruption of dark and maniacal suspicion the leads to me being accused of being soft on Armstrongism.)
This is not an issue of my beliefs about Armstrongism or my questionable identity. It is a simple issue of poor journalism. An issue of assuming everyone must know special insider knowledge. Have the critics succumbed to the gnostic tendencies of Armstrongism? Sometimes I think I am dealing with "newspeak" from Orwell's 1984.
Well, this guy isn't our old friend neo/neotherm/Greg for sure. If Near Earth Object is not an ACOG minister, then he's surely retained all of the shibboleths. Probably a member of the Kitchen family.
Also, Near Earth, there's no problem with the journalism. It's your attitude that really eats. Next time you find a new blog you might want to tread lightly until you figure out what's going on. We're more hospitable towards nice people.
Wendy's story reflects typical psychopathic behariour by this "minister". Presented by a female student with a problem, he used her for his own excitement. When the game is up, he expelled her from the college.
This guy knew full well she was innocent - and he cared not one iota. Nor did he care that he was ruining her life. He expelled her because he was done with her, and expelling her was the easiest thing for him to do.
There most certainly is a problem with the journalism. It gives no backstory. It presents a collection of assumptions without any explanation. I am sorry that you interpret my simply asking for the backstory as not being "nice" but I must say that is a little ridiculous.
To whom it may concern:
First of all, how unfortunate it must be for you to feel the need to bash on an individual you have never met via the internet! Have you met Wendy? Have you had an actual conversation with her? My guess is no. So before you parade around behind the privacy of your computer screen bashing someone else's integrity and worth, look in the mirror honey. I'd like to see any of you go through the heartache she faced, come out alive and stronger than ever, and still run a damn business, raise a daughter and become a self sufficient entrepreneur by age 30. I dare any of you to even try. Enough with the bashing and discrimination. Lets see you make something of yourself. I know you're proud of your career as a barista at Starbucks but c'mon honey, lets be real. Shape up or ship the fuck out. Next time you bash on Wendy Keller will be the last time your foam-ridden minimum wage hands ever touch a keyboard again. XO ya bitch.
Hello all, especially @Near_Earth_Object,
I am Wendy Keller, formerly known as Wendy Zhorne. Yes, of course I was speaking of Ambassador and my previous life in WCG. Thank you to those who defended me.
I am a fairly well known award winning literary agent, and of course I didn't name the minister who "counseled" me and really did "ruin" my life, although things turned out for the best probably in the end. The reason I didn't name him or WCG is because I don't need/want litigation. There were a lot of lovely people in WCG, and I loved SEP and some parts of YOU (when creepy local elders weren't volunteering for deviant sexual purposes...)
Nothing is all good or all bad. Every word in my HuffPo article and on my eponymous site /Meet-Wendy is true. I'm sure you don't WANT to accept what happened, Near_Earth_Object, perhaps because you were also treated badly or someone you cared about was.
Thank you to those of you who "stood up" for me, and I am honored and grateful to those of you who have tracked my career since I left the church. @Near_Earth_Object, if you ever read these words, I invite you to go to my site, read the mentioned page, and write me directly. I'd be happy to help, comfort, listen or support you to the best of my ability. There are lots of kinds of victims in the world - the trick is figuring out how to live DESPITE what happens to us.
Peace and love,
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