Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Are You Prepared for… the Unthinkable?"

Check out this web site for a story about dealing with the drawings of Basil Wolverton and the Worldwide Church of God. Are You Prepared for… the Unthinkable?: Part 7: MAD BAD Art

The author quotes an interesting comment from HWA that I had never heard before.  He said the church was FORCED to print such graphic pictures.  He intended to scare the little kids!

This changed when I got married at age 18, in May 1965, at the end of my Freshman year in college. One day shortly after the wedding, my new husband, George, brought home to our apartment a tall stack of magazines and other literature from his parents’ home. Back in 1959 or so, when he was in high school, he had answered an ad in the back of an old December 1957 Capper’s Farmer magazine he found while rummaging in his mother’s stash of clutter in the attic. (She had kept the issue for the Christmas cookie recipes.) The ad offered free copies of booklets titled 1975 in Prophecy, Will Russia Attack America? and The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy. And included would be a free subscription to a monthly magazine, The Plain Truth. All were offered as publications of “Ambassador College.” As a bored, flat-broke high school student, free sounded good, so he sent for it all.
Before the summer was over, I was hooked on this material, and had read the booklets as well as many of the issues of the Plain Truth. Each magazine and booklet also offered more free literature, so I began sending for everything they had to offer and started building my Apocalyptic library. There was a lot of material included that was on topics unrelated to prophecy, and I read all of it, too. But the prophetic material overshadowed everything else with its constant appeal to paranoia and near hysteria.  Jesus was scheduled to return to earth to set up a beautiful Kingdom of God by 1975. But before that would be the Great Tribulation.

I learned the most about that Tribulation in one of the earliest booklets I sent for, titled The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last! And the first grim illustration in it cemented my new interest in nuclear war.
In the coming months and years I was to be exposed to quite a few more of this kind of grim illustration, peppered throughout literature published by Ambassador College. Sometimes the topic wasn’t even all that grim, but the artwork had the same gritty “feel” to it.
I’ve personally talked and corresponded with many people who grew up in the Radio Church of God, or the later Worldwide Church of God, who vividly remember having nightmares in their childhood about the illustrations in these booklets, pushed on them by their parents. Why would parents force-feed such visions to their young children … sometimes even pre-schoolers? Because Herbert Armstrong, whom they believed to be a unique spokesman for God Himself, insisted they should:
Plain Truth magazine, Febuary/March 1955 Plain Truth   Herbert Armstrong
“Yes, I KNOW these pictures are terrifying… but they may save thousands of precious lives from the horrible fate they depict—including yours! Read WHY we are forced to publish them—and of the happy World Tomorrow just beyond! There is the final article on the BOOK OF REVELATION. READ! THINK! HEED!”
… Some few have written me gripes and criticisms. Some few have not wanted to SEE such realistic pictures of WHAT’S COMING IN REAL LIFE! Some few have threatened to stop reading the PLAIN TRUTH, unless I stop publishing such realistic pictures! Some don’t want their children to see such pictures! Yes, I KNOW these pictures are terrifying—revolting! THAT’S WHY WE ARE PUBLISHING THEM. Better show our children what’s coming—better WAKE THEM UP—and teach them how to SEEK GOD and His divine protection. Better explain to them that these horrible conditions NEED NOT ever strike them—that they MAY be taken on a flight to a place of SAFETY, where they need never SEE such terrifying scenes in real life.


Anonymous said...

"....and teach them how to SEEK GOD and His divine protection."

His maybe-sort of-kinda sometimes-rain on the just and unjust-protection.

People who have never been in a cult like the COG simply can't understand the level of daily fear and guilt that comes with Obedience to God and His Church. They can't understand how all aspects of your life are inextricably intertwined with The Church and their interpretation of the Bible. Yes, Virginia, I based all my financial and career and relationship decisions based upon what I thought God wanted, which was usually what The Church said God wanted. It is people like that, who can't understand, who think religion is sort of harmless and we should respect it and not criticize it.

Paul R.

Assistant Deacon said...

What tragic, self-serving, self-aggrandizing malarky. It's a shame that thousands of people were ensnared by such paranoia.

Mish-Mash said...

Hey Paul R,
You are not alone. I think many people lived their lives and made decisions based on what the church said God wanted out of fear. I am going through that now, finalling realizing why I made all the decisions that I did and how sad and stupid I feel now. Sometimes I am still shackled by fear that the church taught us and I am paralyzed about makimg wrong decisions.

I wish there was a magic pill to make us all forget and base the rest of our lives on love and sound thinking.

Douglas Becker said...

I have stopped preparing for the unthinkable because there just isn't any way to think of the things I'm supposed to prepare for.

And anyway, what Herbert Armstrong thought up couldn't possibly be unthinkable because, after all, he thought of them.

In retrospect, Herbert Armstrong was a megolomaniac kook full of hyperbole, imagining things that never happened and why?

He lied to us and then took our money.

More than that, he prepped the children so that he could lie to them and take their money in the future.

"Follow me, I will lead you into the Kingdom," he said imperiously in 1972 at Penticton, British Columbia, Canada in that big tent at the Feast.

Instead, all those years, he led us in circles and then died as a false prophet.

Anonymous said...

I remember a discussion about these drawings on another site a few years back.
An apologist for Armstrongism- I believe her name was Jenny- scoffed at the notion that Basil's apocalyptic artwork could scare children, while "LOLing" that there were any kids so "stupid" as to be frightened by it.
(And, she was always claiming that people who criticized Armstrongism were stupid and ignorant.)


Anonymous said...

"I wish there was a magic pill to make us all forget and base the rest of our lives on love and sound thinking."

It will go away, but the love and sound thinking is really dependent upon whether you are still a Believer or not, and the degree to which you believe.

I've been busy for a while and haven't visited this site regularly, and in between those timse that I did check in I can say that I rarely thought about all this stuff at all. It may be easier for me because I have very few relatives in the COG's and those that are, I don't talk to all that much. It's probably much harder for a person to put it all behind them when they are still embroiled in it because of friends and family.

But again, it will get better. You go from being angry at The Wolves to actually pitying some of them- a disgusted pity, but a pity nonetheless. But most of them just stop having any meaning for you. They are little kings in their own itty bitty kingdoms and meaningless in some of our lives- that isn't a calculated putdown, but just the truth. These guys are nothing in the scheme of things.

Paul R.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Douglas becker said, "In retrospect, Herbert Armstrong was a megolomaniac kook full of hyperbole, imagining things that never happened and why?

He lied to us and then took our money".

MY COMMENT - Why????? Because HWA always wanted to be a millionaire and was honest enough to tell us this each year at the Feast of Tabernacles.

Millionaires dine with the upper classes. The dirty little secret in America is that, in general, if you want to dine with the upper classes, you must lie to the masses.


Andrew said...

All this apocalyptic stuff is in the bible. David was a bloody man, and a man after god's own heart. Is the god of the bible not therefore a bloody god? Oh, well, that's why David wasn't allowed to build the temple, right? Well, then why did Solomon begin his reign with a bloodletting not unlike any other pagan ruler designed to eliminate all other claims to the throne? What's the difference between the great white throne of judgement and the Catholic Inquisition? Should we be surprised that the bible practically commands you to love god at gunpoint?

Apocalypse is just part of the ancient heavy-handed approach used by any other authority figure at those times. "Do what I say, or else I'll have your disfigured corpse on display somewhere--in time for tea--not that I care either way." Looking down from the top, fear and love look exactly the same.

I don't think the concept of "humane" or "sanctity of life" even existed when the bible was written. Cementing your will with a casual, but iron fist was important, but the effect upon children witnessing brutality and carnage? Eh, not so much. If they can't handle it, they probably needed weeding out anyway.

Everything is so sanitized now we rarely see death. Today, violence is not where most people begin negotiations. Maybe the 12 apostles pictured the kingdom as a kind of mafia writ large and they were happy to be among the inner circle of Jesus' henchmen. And probably nothing about any of this would have struck any of them as being even the slightest bit odd.

Anonymous said...

"Looking down from the top, fear and love look exactly the same."

Nice observation. Never considered that before. Of course, in the Bible, fear and love are virtues that supposedly work hand in hand....

Paul R.

Byker Bob said...

The summer day in 1956 when my parents read us "1975 in Prophecy" was the day on which the sun figuratively went behind the clouds, and it didn't begin to reemerge until 1972-75 when HWA's source of inspiration began to take on a totally different complexion!

That summer day of long ago was the day on which I temporarily lost someone whom I had up until then considered to be a friend (God), and also the day on which my parents (the physical type or portrayal of God) began to become horrible, judgmental, perpetually punishing ogres. For those out there who interpret my comments as being bitter, I assure you they are not. I have forgiven both HWA, and my parents who were deceived by his evil system of religion. The purpose of my comments are to illustrate the natural reaction which one type of false teacher can produce in impressionable minds, and to encourage people to realize that in no way did HWA accurately portray the real God, or the real Jesus. It should not be a chore to stomach God, although it was most definitely a chore to stomach almost everything about HWA. People need to get past the image of God as being HWA on steroids. We'd all be lost if that were spiritual reality!


John said...

Richard said: "...HWA always wanted to be a millionaire and was honest enough to tell us this each year at the Feast of Tabernacles..."

Incredible the gall of the man to rub it in the faces of his hoodwinked flock each year and they just didn't get it!? Sounds like a criminal mastermind hinting at his true motives to his victims-to-be and what they're really in for; then boasting afterwards about how he's gotten away with it and they're powerless to do anything about it!

caseywollberg said...

"People need to get past the image of God as being HWA on steroids. We'd all be lost if that were spiritual reality!"

Cool story, bro. Just because someone doesn't believe in your imaginary friend doesn't mean they are lost.