Well, well, well...
Where does one begin in outlining the features in the latest Journal (September 30)?
Is it the surprise appearance of a front-page article by Dixon Cartwright (continued with photographs further in the issue) announcing new courses at Meredith/Weston "Living University"?
Or the full page ad on page 8 for the said institution?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is a tectonic shift in policy for LCG which to the best of my knowledge, has never advertised in The Journal before but treated it with a sniffy disdain. A 'Westonly' breeze blowing in from Charlotte? Will any of the other major players now follow suit?
Is it Graeme McChesney's lighthearted letter to the editor, which is an excellent contrast to the usual earnest drivel? But hey, I'm biased, McChesney is a fellow Kiwi.
Is it the unexpected article by Gary Arvidson that focuses on former minister Howard Clark's "miraculous" healing from a spinal injury? This subject has been discussed (and researched) at length recently - though not in public mode. It could be that, now the Arvidson piece is out, you hear more on this subject.
Or is it Lonnie Hendrix's shock horror (to me at least - didn't see it coming) survey of correspondence between CGI Jamaica's Ian Boyne both here and on Gary Leonard's blog some time back. Dear sweet lord, an article about Ian in The Journal that Ian hasn't written himself! I'm not exactly sure how to respond, but give me time, give me time...
All in all it's a truly fascinating issue. Downloadable as always.
Quick update: just posted over at Kathleen's Dying for God's Sake; Howard Clark's Healing.
Gavin, thanks for noting my post about Howard Clark. The only news, to me, in Arvidson's article was the notion that Clark could feel the pain of his injuries after he was healed. It just seems like an odd way for a loving deity to show mercy.
Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that the more flamboyant and ridiculous ads have disappeared? Kudos to Dixon for this.
It was good to know that others remember Howard Clark, as well. Mr. Clark was my first year speech teacher, our Ambassador Club advisor, and I also found myself to be part of one of the groups that he occasionally entertained in his home. It would have been difficult to find a more compassionate member of the AC Pasadena faculty. We had all been impressed by the story of his healing, but most of the students did not realize the extreme pain which he suffered as a companion to his renewed abilities to get around. This, at a time when it was forbidden to take so much as an aspirin for one's pain. The most endearing aspect of Mr. Clark's personality, of course, was his unique and outspoken sense of humor. An avid and skilled photographer, he did many of the photographs for the Envoy. I remember our class gathering in the AC Gym for our group picture. He noticed a student attired in a dress shirt that sported one of the then new "high-boy" collars, and remarked "Ain't you a gas!". And, that wasn't necesssarily a put down. The student was invited to pose for pictures depicting Ambassador life.
I didn't mean to shock or horrify you. I encouraged my friend, Dixon Cartwright, to follow the conversations here and at Banned which included Ian. As a consequence, he invited me to report on those conversations. I wrote the original piece in April, and I was frankly surprised when he told me that he was going to publish it in this issue (I assumed he had decided not to use it).
Although I applaud Ian Boyne's willingness to engage in a respectful exchange of ideas, I am perplexed by his continuing fascination with Armstrongism. He appears to reject British Israelism, but he is affiliated with an organization that accepts, preaches and promotes the notion. He appears to reject Armstrong's notions about church government, but he embraces the teaching on excommunication/disfellowshipping (I don't understand how anyone can square that with the concepts of servant leadership, loving ones brother/sister in Christ or purporting to help anyone other than the individual(s) who are squelching dissent or registering his/their disapproval of some behavior. Finally, I don't understand how someone could continue to support a majority of the theology of people (HWA and GTA) whom he thinks are unqualified to be ministers of Jesus Christ!
There is certainly a place for disfellowshipment , although it should be only for extreme and deliberate violation of common social order and for the safety of the group. For instance, if someone came to church each week and did graffiti all over the bathroom walls, or consistently violated peoples personal space like spit on people, etc.
Predatory people, or people who actively are recruiting people to do very sinful things like have sex parties, or drug parties or the like. It is one thing to be in ones own personal hells of sin, it is quite another when you are attempting to recruit people to join you in your dysfunction and you are using church as the social mechanism for such. "Woe to the Tempter" in other words.
Disfellowshipment and marking has been a very abused mechanism, used for fear and control of thinking and accountability. I agree that this is wrong, but there must be some type of policing in life, and there always is, or the anarchists will rule.
Byker Bob, did Mr. Clark ever say, in your hearing, that he had a severed spinal cord? It doesn't quite jibe with the claims of Rod Meredith and Herbert Armstrong that doctors had tried and failed to heal him. If he had indeed suffered a severed spinal cord, how, exactly, would these numerous doctors at the VA, as reported by Meredith, have sought to cure him?
Rod Meredith writes, "I personally taught and baptized one veteran of the Korean War who was a quadriplegic. For years, Howard Clark relied on a wheelchair, unable to move around on his own power. This man had absolutely been to the doctors! He had been to the very best naval hospitals in the world and had had all kinds of operations and medical procedures—all to no avail.
For several years, I had grown used to seeing Howard in his wheelchair, sitting at the right-hand side of our congregation’s meeting hall every week. After some time, he felt inspired to ask for prayer for healing. On the day of Pentecost, my dear friend Richard David Armstrong—the elder son of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong—prayed for this paralyzed veteran. And right then, this former quadriplegic was supernaturally healed!" http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2012/march-april/why-i-know-there-is-a-real-god
I am only asking you because you had spent time with Mr. Clark; I don't mean to imply that you ever said he had a severed spinal cord.
The first time that I ever heard anything about a severed spinal cord was just last night as I read the article in the Journal.
First of all, I've had a life-long policy (it's probably an innate part of my personality) of not prying, not asking others about the things which make them "different". If they want to open up about such things, I'll listen compassionately. So, I never asked Mr. Clark for details about his medical history.
Back in the day, all we were told was that Mr. Clark had been partially paralyzed due to an injury in the war. We were told that his condition had been hopeless until "God had healed him", and that annointing him was one of the last things in his life that Mr. Dick Armstrong had done. Speakers never went into any medical details about a severed spinal cord, just that Mr. Clark had been a hopeless paraplegic, and that the doctors and V.A. had been confounded, even to the point of the government refusing to cut off his benefits, because they considered it medically impossible for him to be out of his wheelchair.
Several things to consider: 1) I never heard Mr. Clark himself discuss his injuries and healing. That information always came from others. 2) He either left, or was disfellowshipped from WCG circa 1975. 3) Gary Arvidson, writer of the article, may still be involved in one of the splinters, which (putting it kindly) would most certainly have influenced the tone of his article.
Back when Mr. Clark had passed away, one of my former AC speech classmates mentioned that he had stayed in regular contact with Mr. Clark over the years. I had wondered how someone who had been healed through the "work" of an organization professing to be God's one and only could no longer be associated with that organization. Apparently, that is something that my friend had never discussed with Mr. Clark, so a mystery remains. Such a healing would have seemingly been a powerful and compelling reason for a life-long commitment.
That's all I've got. Hope it helps.
Thanks for your response to my comments. You wrote: There is certainly a place for disfellowshipment..." If you mean by employing that term, that there might be extreme instances (like the ones you cite in your comments) where an entire congregation decides to temporarily exclude someone, then we may be in complete agreement. However, in my opinion, there is no Scriptural basis for a minister or church hierarchy making such a decision. I reject the notion that they have inherited any mantle of apostolic authority. After all, the Apostle Paul instructed the entire Corinthian church to withdraw from the offender (the case most often cited as the basis for the practice). Paul took this extreme action because he felt that the congregations tolerance/acceptance of this man's behavior had corrupted the entire group (approval = participation in the sin). Is ANYONE within the ACOG culture qualified/worthy to assume the mantle of Paul? (I know there are plenty of folks who think they are, but do you think that any of them are?)
The practice of excommunication is not in harmony with much of the symbolic language which Christ himself employed in his parables. Does a good shepherd throw one of the sheep out of the pen to the ravening lion circling the perimeter? Are we commissioned to pluck up the tares out of the field before time for the harvest?
Moreover, the practice of publicly "marking" someone is absurd and not Scriptural. A quick glance at any Greek lexicon will show that the term used in these passages implies taking note of someone - nothing more.
The gospels inform us that Christ told his followers that he didn't want them exercising authority over each other - lording it over each other. We are told that he instructed them that anyone who had the ambition to be the greatest among them would be the servant of all. Indeed, his entire ministry appears to be one of stressing that his followers refrain from judging each other, forgive each other for slights and offenses and to engage in supporting and uplifting each other to ensure that everyone makes it into his kingdom. How is that accomplished by publicly humiliating someone? How is that accomplished by ignoring, excluding or rejecting someone?
For believers, although the Church is composed of humans, it is not presumed to be a human organization. THE CHURCH is God's - not mine, yours, Gerald's, Bob's, Dave's or Roderick's! Human organization can exclude members from their midst, but who has the authority to remove someone whom God has called, sealed and placed in his church? Who or what has the ability to separate us from Jesus Christ? Although many (like Diotrephes) have imagined that they had that authority (to disfellowship), John clearly felt that such a conclusion was unwarranted and unsupportable within God's Church.
Thanks for your reply. I would normally never ask anyone such personal questions. I only do it now because of my blog, because I agree with Carl Sagan when he said that big claims demand big evidence. I believe that Howard Clark experienced something that restored his ability to walk. I don't doubt for a moment that he believed he had been healed. But my own family's experience with "healing" as devout members of the Radio/Worldwide Church of God, and having never seen any healing in the church that doesn't have either a medical or a natural explanation, having seen or known of many who "died in faith," it worries me to see someone like Rod Meredith claiming as late as 2012 that Howard Clark is an example of God's healing power and intent. When adults want to make a choice to avoid medical care based on what I believe are apocryphal stories, that's one thing. But when I hear about stories of alleged healing that are being shared to build faith in others, I think of the children who might be affected by them. The Catholic Church reportedly employs a "devil's advocate" to investigate stories of miracles, and that's a good idea. Having said all this, let me say that I remember meeting Howard Clark when I was about nine. He was easily the most joyous person I ever met, and I have never heard anything to suggest that he was not a person of great integrity (with a penchant for gross jokes).
A friend of mine went to Ambassador College Big Sandy Texas to serve in the Conscientious Objector's I-W program. He returned with the news of a discovery he had made there of the Johnson O'Connor (Human Engineering) Labs which test for inherited aptitudes.
As part of the discussion he mentioned that Howard Clark had taken the battery of tests. They found him to be quite a talented capable man and noted that in normal circumstances, he would have risen to the top or near the top of any organization he worked for. I have no doubt of this, but the Radio Church of God / Worldwide Church of God / Ambassador College was not built on meritocracy nor on competence or capability, even with a stellar record of achievement. In fact, it was built on lies, delusions, cover ups and mediocracy at every level from the top down. Howard Clark portrays the evidence that it is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional environment.
As for the 'healing', the preponderance of evidence more than suggests that in spite of Roderick Meredith's blathering to contrary, Howard Clark was not anointed for the malady, but instead he was 'prayed over'. With the aftermath of his being able to walk again -- most likely because the nerves had been reconnected over a long period of time -- he did experience excruciating pain. Few people would consider this a true 'healing'. It was torture. In terms of healing, his being able to walk (with great pain) wasn't healing and certainly not the result of anointing, since he didn't seem to have been. It was, however, used as a selling point by those in the administration to sell the organization.
Furthermore, the event of his rising and walking took place very shortly after Richard David Armstrong warned his father, Herbert Armstrong, to repent. I know of this because of my discussion of the matter with Alan Knight (author of "Primitive Christianity in Crisis"). Richard Armstrong told his father to stop the evil he was doing. After that, he prayed for Howard Clark. And shortly after that, Richard Armstrong was killed in an auto accident (Alan told me the details, how that Billingsly had driven on the wrong side of the road during construction).
My take on all this is that a corrupt cult used Howard Clark to further the agenda of Herbert Armstrong and that what has been reported in the past is not only the whole story, but it's much worse than we thought.
Howard Clark was a unique and talented individual in so many ways. I can't imagine what it must have meant for him to be able to walk, to drive a car, and even to go on hunting expeditions with his colleagues at AC, and moreover, having a loving marriage and spawning children, and all of this following years spent in a wheel chair.
I don't believe that his healing serves as any sort of validating proof that HWA/WCG/AC were what we were taught that they were. Any xrays have apparently long since disappeared (meaning that we cannot verify the extent of his injuries). All that we do know as fact is that Howard Clark was at one time paralyzed and he was later able to walk.
People are going to interpret those basic facts in accordance with their own criteria. Certainly, anyone whoever attended the Radio Church of God, later rebranded as the Worldwide Church of God, or the splinters, realizes that even apparent healings were relatively sparse within those groups. These provided insufficient numbers or evidence to support anti-medical doctrine, and were in no way similar to what we read was the seeming norm in the first century Christian Church. But, whatever happened in the life of Howard Clark has somehow made it into the urban legendry and internal gnosticism of the Armstrong movement. It's something they are going to cling to, even though he left the group.
I'm not sure what your comment that differentiates Mr. Clark being anointed with oil or "prayed over" signifies. It was the tradition in the Radio Church of God to anoint with oil and pray for the sick or injured, and that's probably what Richard Armstrong did. For what it's worth, the gospels don't mention Jesus anointed with oil when he healed people. As far as Howard Clark's story is concerned, it's hard to know what transpired. The principals and many of their contemporaries are dead, while those remaining either believe Clark's healing narrative as it was told by the church or haven't shared their stories.
By the way, from what I've been told, Richard Armstrong prayed for Clark's healing at least a year before dying as a result of his car crash. I see no connection, let alone significance, to any purported conversation he had with HWA, praying for Howard Clark, and dying from his injuries.
My only reason for questioning the cause of his paralysis is because I don't believe in miracles and I'm seeking a rational explanation. And as I explained above, that mostly has to do with protecting ill children from their parents' decisions to reject medical care. Unlike more dangerous groups, Church of God members deal with illness along a continuum that ranges from taking full advantage of modern medicine to totally rejecting it in favor of prayer. Some parents see it as the free exercise of their religious beliefs to withhold medical care from their children, even if it means the child's could die. Adults can decide that for themselves, but not for their children, in my opinion.
The Clarks were married after Howard's injuries and had three of their six children prior to his regaining the ability to walk.
The x-rays are extant and are in the custody of the US Veterans Administration and are available to Clark's children, as his next of kin.
Howard Clark had to be one heck of a man!
In the last couple of paragraphs in the article some fascinating history is revealed...
"Howard was a mountain of a man, in more ways than one. I never knew anyone who stood up to Herbert Arm- strong like he did.
Howard told me that one time Mr. Armstrong had him in his office and worked him over (verbally) for eight hours straight.
At one point Howard was so ex- hausted that he just lay down on the floor and stretched out while Herbert was yelling at him.
I guess the reason he was in the doghouse so much was because Mr. Armstrong just couldn’t break his
--Truly, what kind of an ass of man can yell at and humiliate another man for EIGHT HOURS straight?
I heard Herbert Armstrong talk about the healing and how amazing it was to show how God was working with the church.
Robert Dick talked about it and made us think that he didn't just get out of the wheel chair when he was anointed, but it took some time -- nevertheless, RD made it clear that Richard Armstrong was healed at the time he was anointed, but the full force and effect came later.
The way he described it puzzled me.
"Truly, what kind of an ass of man can yell at and humiliate another man for EIGHT HOURS straight?"
Herbert Armstrong, Roderick Meredith, Joe Tkach, Senior, David Pack (who managed it for a whole weekend). There are many others quite capable, though sometimes you have to wonder where they get the energy to carry on for that long....
Narcissism gives power!
Thanks for the additional information, Kathleen. A lot fades with time.
Like Forrest Gump, I stood in the background when many events of historic import happened in the WCG. Usually it was years later before I fully understood the significance of what was taking place.
I knew the 1-W that Black Ops is referring to. He was a friend of mine. If I recall the account correctly, the Human Engineering Lab people in Dallas tested Clark and discovered that he scored very high in about twelve of the twenty or so identified human aptitudes. While that sounds impressive, successful people are the ones who score high in just a few aptitudes. You know the type, someone who is an extraordinary CPA but can't relate to people or music or art or cuisine. People with many diverse talents always feel dissatisfaction because their course in life leaves some of their talents unexpressed. While they are working on the General Ledger, their musical talent is screaming to be expressed. The Human Engineering people told Clark that he had so many talents that he was going to learn to control them and become someone great or he would wind up an alcoholic.
I can barely remember this. In the period after GTA had reconciled with HWA, like sometime in about 1974, there was a movement that I think eventually led to the Associated Churches of God. A part of this was great disenchantment with HWA and GTA and the autocratic way that the WCG church governance was being conducted.
I knew an AC student who was close to Clark at this time. I gave him a ride one evening to Clark's place north of Gladewater. I expressed some interest in what was going on. The student was going to make an arrangement for me to see Clark. He said Clark would read some scriptures to me about church governance. He would make no arguments - just read scriptures and it would show me how the WCG was wrong in its implementation of church government. The meeting never happened. Overtaken by events. A bunch of ministers and students left the WCG. I think Clark was just skirting being disfellowshipped at that time. He had a following in the student body.
I remember being around Clark a little. He struck me as being a typical WCG minister type - little people like me were invisible and insignificant. These people were all the same to me when viewed from my low estate. Full of themselves. Apparently some of the students found him to be charismatic.
Recently, I looked at the Living University material online. I know that previously here it was mentioned that there was a class on British Israelism, yet when I checked their site I couldn't find it.
Does anyone know whether LU is still going to teach British Israelism and (it would be interesting to know) who is teaching it?
What kind of a person do you have to be to ALLOW anyone to rant at you for 8 hours?
Dennis: a hegemonized person.
The Journal's audience is a people who historically do not like, believe in, or do well with change. As a group, they reject the very possibility of evolution (gradual change), not only in the scientific sense of the word, but they also consider it to be highly undesirable in the societal and spiritual senses. In their world, the New Covenant couldn't possibly change, upgrade, or supercede any of the elements of the Old Covenant, which had been given to Bronze Age agrarian man. Man's state of development, in their minds, is a constant, regardless of all of the modifiers, such as the findings of the first scientists, the deep thoughts of the philosophers, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, global communication, or the computer age. This is partially why the leaders of Armstrongism researched all of the influences of paganism from ancient societies to use as an antidote and repudiation for all of the processes they observe around them which counter their world view.
Curiously, there is an attitude floating around out there, that in spite of all of this, when it comes to such areas as racism, misogyny, or authoritarianism, HWA's backwards, set in stone attitudes and edicts were a byproduct of the times in which he lived, and the class of people whom he aspired to be. That appears to be a function of Zeitgeist, rather than the superior or transcendent information which would be passed along from the mouth of God to Herb's ear. But, Shhhh! Perhaps if we keep that quiet, we won't disturb anyone with any improvements to their basic thought patterns.
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