Thursday, March 3, 2011

Al Portune's Story

Someone sent me a great link to Al Portune's story of his life.  It is fascinating reading and brings back many memories of life in Pasadena.  Names and places that have meaning to so many people. 

Al's story begins with meeting his wife, heading off to War serving in the Coast Guard and then finding Ambassador College.  He tells about his rise up in the organization with HWA and GTA's encouragement.  Then he tells about his time as manager of the finance department.  Being exposed to the use of money and having to sign the checks started opening his eyes.  Confrontations with HWA over his begging for money started to seal his fate.

He tells of his leaving the the employ of the church and has quest for expanding his knowledge.  Too few in Armstrongism have ever dared to question religion, life, where we come from, etc.  Far too many prefer to have someone else tell them the answers.  It alleviates any responsibility for accountability on their part.

Al has obviously advance far beyond COG thought into something far more meaningful to him.

Astounding as it may be, on honest investigation, the basis of religion has little changed from the religion of primitive man. It is still belief in gods who control everything, even life and eternal life itself. Most of mankind still feels it cannot be safe and have any kind of secure present or future without serving, worshipping, placating one or more of those gods. Religion has become more sophisticated as MAN “tweaked” it, added to it, embellished it and tailored it to the benefit of power centers, profitable institutions and self aggrandizement. However, sacrifice of one kind or another is still a requisite, predominantly sacrifice of money for those who have found that religion is a lucrative business. Promoting their religion as the “salvation for man” requires money and is perhaps the most prominent sacrifice to enable the “preaching of the gospel or “good news” to the world . One could list thousands of sacrifices and offerings threaded through manifold religions, but it is still that same primitive motivation – that sacrifice, offerings, sacraments and worship bring existential advantage.

The grandeur of religion’s leaders, their robes, their churches and cathedrals, the pomp and “sanctity” displayed, the rituals so “elegantly” displayed and on an on create the illusion of a sanctity and relationship to “god” that even those in those exalted positions are looked to as actual vicars or representatives of god himself. The desire to be recognized and acclaimed as the leader or founder of a church or religious movement is great. It even was thousands and thousands of years ago in the preeminence of being “the Medicine Man.” But it all goes back to the first primitive placation of existential apprehensions and those who devised methods of placation.

For me it has come down to an elementary acceptance of what this earth and its long, long history has brought forth naturally and spontaneously based on the “forces” at work upon it going back to a “beginning” beyond the comprehension of mankind. What those forces or “a force” has brought forth on this earth has followed a pattern. Not a religiously defined pattern but a natural pattern, verified by the “natural evidence” that has progressed from the very first elements of life down to the present highest form of life extant on earth – man. Religion ignores or seeks to refute that natural process and replace it with various creation stories that establish a power basis that is nowhere evident in the natural evidence on this earth. Creation by fiat establishes a god concept and therefore a power that controls all things and must therefore be served, placated, obeyed and worshipped according to a methodology devised by “religion” that was created by man.  

Check out his story here:  Religion and WCG  or the Index here: Index of Memoirs


Glenn said...

Some of the best comments I have seen from a former WCG "biggie." Good for you, Al. I always though Al Portune was a very sincere and pretty down-to-earth person. You could sense the real anguish he was feeling as he talked about troublesome issues in the church.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Glad to see this. I see I'm not the only one who was driven to tell his story which is available on The Painful Truth website under Al Dexter articles. In the next few days, I will read the whole thing and have saved it to my own computer. Would love to hear from you. My email is:

Allen C. Dexter said...

That last jumble is not part of my email address. It was misapplied from the word I was supposed to type to post my comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the links at the end of the post.

Al Portune was with the WCG before I started attending; but his story is fascinating.

Anonymous said...

very nice. I lost track of Mr. P over the years so how refreshing to see he used his experience to come to see the true nature of life.

Experience is not the only best experience, it is the only one. Everything else is hearsay...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Portune: Don't know if you read this blog, but since I can't find an email, let me just say how much I enjoyed reading of your journey and conclusions. I guess I never knew you at heart but am very pleased at how you have handled your journey.

We're all here to learn. However it seems in the WCG experience, few really learn that which is worth learning from the experience. Switching and jumping from one splinter to sliver just doesn't count.

I hope you are well
Dennis Diehl

Allen C. Dexter said...

I finished your main memoir, Al, and enjoyed it. Will get to the other parts as time allows. You cleared up a few things I'd wondered about.

If you are still around, you have to be in your 80s, and I hope you are getting these comments. You were always a man I respected and believed to be honest. Your memoir only reinforces those feelings.

Byker Bob said...

Inspiring, and sincere people like Al Portune are what caused me to stick around for as long as I did.
I still remember some of his sermons as vividly as if I had just heard them today. He was the only WCG minister whom I have ever known to use the books of the Maccabees in a sermon.

We had a handful of others who were in AJP's same league, such as David Antion, and Wayne Cole. You got the feeling that what they were saying was more than just words, or somebody's canned script. I had no doubt that they were downright inspired, and felt as a result of their examples that I too might someday be equally inspired.

Thanks for publishing this. I'll be digesting it a bit more at my leisure.


Anonymous said...

Both of the links to Al Portune's memoirs are now 404 redirects. Are his comments no longer available?

Anonymous said...

I was a member of WCG in 1967-1972, and Mr. Portune was my minister. I moved to Oklahoma and have not attented church since the church split up. I often wondered where Mr. Portune went and what he was doing.
The years go by so fast. I remember how much the sermons meant to me and helped me in my life.