Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dennis On "Members Who Challenge Ministry-More Rare Than Hen's Teeth"

Members Who Challenge Ministry-More Rare Than Hen's Teeth

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorMy dad is a hoot. I just spent a few days with him in his 97th year. I love my dad very much and respect his example of a simple life well lived.   I have never seen him get angry or heard him raise his voice in anger or even frustration, he had and still has that wonderfully passive aggressive side that leaves him winning his point and leaving others wondering what happened.

Dad had the privilege of being in Dave Pack's presence in Spokesman's Club when DCP was his pastor.  DCP hauled my dad all over upstate NY visiting almost to his point of exhaustion.  I finally had to ask DCP to not depend on dad so much as he was getting older.  

Anyway, the Spokesman Club event.  DCP was chiding all the men for not knowing their scriptures by heart and not learning their scripture cards.  Dad raised his hand and spent a few minutes defending the guys (one of our traits evidently) and reminding DCP that these men had to work all week and unlike him , did not have the luxury to pick and choose a days work.  Nor did they have the time to simply memorize Bible verses.  Woo hoo...."Mr. Diehl, I'll speak with you at the break."   Dad can't remember what happened, but it was not memorable.  Either it never came up again or dad was insufficiently frightened into never saying such things again to remember it. 

Our best DCP moment came when my brother in law was dressed down by DCP at a YOU Basketball game.  It seems the new Pastor who replaced DCP in Rochester and who was a much more gentle and compassionate soul decided to ordain my brother in law a deacon.  No biggy.  We had three full time pastors, two local church elders, two deaconesses and one deacon in the family.  All tolled, we had 20+ immediate family in church.  Anyway, DCP came over and sat with my brother in law telling him that had he thought Ron was worthy of being ordained a deacon, he  would have been the one to do the ordination and that he did not agree with the recent upgrade from the new pastor.  (My brother in law now runs the entire sound and light program for a local megachurch and is as helpful to them as he ever was in WCG)  At any rate, the great moment for an answer arrived....

"Well Dave....(DCP hates not being called Mr. Pack)   ,  If I did not think you had s&%# for brains, I'd care what you thought."


Caring what you pastor thinks might be respectful at times and perhaps ok when you find yourself in agreement with him.  But having the ability to look a man who thinks he, not you, has all the insights, answers and understanding one needs , in the eye and say that is a gift from the Deity.

I only had one time in my entire career where a member went toe to toe with me over what I taught (as I had been taught) and that was over the way and time the church kept the Passover.  I was 23 years old and peddling fast.  In the members view, we should stand not sit while taking Passover.  We needed to keep it at a different time, thought the when escapes me at the moment.  I don't even believe much in the archaeological or historical reality of the whole Exodus story at this point in life, but back then it was traumatic.  If it was not one thing, it was something else tearing at the local congregation.  Dr. Hoeh came and we sat for hours with the people as Doc explained where they were wrong.  (No one was right but that's another story.)  I dozed off during the most boring of discussions I have ever had to sit through.  When it was over, Dr. Hoeh told me on the way home, "I don't know what their problem is, but it is not the Passover."  I was very close friends with the couple up til then and mercifully was moved to Kentucky to start over again so I did not have to soak in it very much longer after that.

But other than that, no one ever much talked to me about what church taught and most just went along for the ride.  I had so many personal church applications of the Bible I thought were stupid, I had enough of a time giving practical advice and staying out of the HQ cross hairs. Joe Tkach told a member in Ky that he must deleaven his grocery store.  I told him that was unnecessary and not to worry about it.  My ministerial assistant ran crying to HQ about me.  Nothing ever came of it but from that experience I learned that being a self righteous little whip and going behind one's back was annoying to me personally.   

I often wonder how many of the membership in Weinlands PKG or Pack's RCG ever think to stand up to the minister either literally and express how they really feel, or simply don't do what they are told.  How many really "sent it in" as Dave demanded, or stored their food and such for Christ Second coming ala Ron Weinland.  Man, now we see that RW carried gold and diamonds in his pant pockets while traveling because Jesus was coming back soon.  Sounds like having faith also needs to be buttressed with a little coin.  I'm thinking he bought those with church funds apart from a normal salary, but let's wait and see.  I know another presiding Evangelist type who used WCG funds and not his own to purchase Gold for himself as an investment, but I spare you.  Or so I am told by the accountant who had to account for it.

Why those who should be clear thinking and fairly intelligent human beings should let a Ron Weinland get away with being so wrong most of the time or a Dave Pack building a College and multi million dollar edifice while teaching they live in the end times is beyond me. 

Their ability to react, speak up or express themselves must be on hold.  I can't imagine they all agree.  And while I understand the safety of sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside, you'd think all we have learned collectively about just being told what to think, believe, do and contribute would have taught most at least to say what you mean and mean what you say, even to the minister lest it go off track and leave you speechless.

Anyway...just musing on a day off.

Dennis C. Diehl


Anonymous said...


I always enjoy reading your anecdotes and reflections from that time. When I used to attend everything about the ministry seemed cloaked in an impenetrable aura of inscrutability, so your insights are very interesting. Thanks for sharing your perspectives here.

Andrew said...

What I think anonymous meant, is that it has always been part of COG culture that anyone who has been "ordained" is to be treated with the utmost respect, whether he is deserving of it or not. Members of the ministry will get incensed real quick if members of the laity fail to do so. Usually ministers will tell others what to do nicely, but not always. Sometimes they will bark orders as though it was the military instead of a church. To reference Brave New World, most of us were always aware that they are Alpha and you are Beta, Gamma, or Delta. Sure, I'll admit that I want status, everyone does. But I still never wanted the job of being a minister. I didn't have the right aptitudes, and besides, I guess I never saw myself as a company man.

Most laymembers have no idea of the reality of what goes on behind the Holy Curtain that separates the ministry from the rest of the membership. Most laymembers would be shocked and lose all respect if they knew the gory details of exactly what this minister did to that minister, and how totally unchristian they were to each other. If the membership did know, all those sermons about how we're supposed to be learning to put on the character of Jesus Christ would be objects of scorn and ridicule because of the outright hypocrisy of it all. The political skullduggery, gamesmanship, oneupmanship, disrespect, and outright contempt that went on behind the scenes was a real eyeopener to me when I got close enough to be "in the know" at certain points. And I'm just talking about local congregations, nevermind headquarters!

It's interesting and instructive to hear someone strip away the layers of secrecy and deceit and hear someone from the Alpha side call a spade a spade. It is healing to me to hear someone who used to be a minister who had the courage to leave the charade behind and is now able to speak some truth FINALLY! We owe you a debt of gratitude.

Anonymous said...

excellent picture on what Armstrongism has always done to those who dare to question

Anonymous said...

I know another presiding Evangelist type who used WCG funds and not his own to purchase Gold for himself as an investment, but I spare you.

The key to understanding that presiding Evangelist is that he is usually guilty of the sins he most loudly accuses others of. He hates liars like Stanley Rader. He hates Sabbath-breakers like the Tkaches. He hates the nepotism that kept Garner Ted in power for so long. I could go on, but you get the idea. I’m sure you would have heard him preaching against stealing while using WCG funds to purchase his own gold. It fits the pattern. The man’s words and deeds are miles apart. Even some of his own family members admit that he is just running “the family business.” Think about it. Actually believing in HWA’s teachings, or even just in the Bible, would make it harder to run a WCG splinter cult. Dennis could have chosen to become alienated from his true feelings and become another HWA-clone, believing one thing and doing another, just as many say this presiding Evangelist has done, but instead he chose to integrate his personality rather than shatter it, so he had to leave the ministry. The man doesn't have to be perfect for you to respect him for that.

DennisCDiehl said...

", but instead he chose to integrate his personality rather than shatter it, so he had to leave the ministry. The man doesn't have to be perfect for you to respect him for that."

The man is far from perfect. I'm made some big mistakes along the way. I stayed in WCG too long but didn't now what to do. I can't say I walked away but rather was pushed. I can only say that I never in worst moments ever thought to continue with another version of WCG. I never had the thought or desire to start my own thing. I was done. Once was enough for my temperament and by the time I was no longer a minister, I was pretty much a theological skeptic.

Transitions are messy. I have hurt some who I had no intention of hurting. I have mishandled stress and the abandonment issues that popped up at times.

In hind sight, I didn't fit the ministry. Years ago, Dave Albert, who I counted as a personal friend as we got along for some reason, told me he never thought I fit the ministry. I think now he meant not so much that I didn't love and work well with the people but that my thinking was not typical WCG and wouldn't be contained well or confined to just WCG ways. He was right.

It's an odd time in life. Just alone with good old Chewie the Shih Tzu who is hilarious. I've become the silver haired guy that has the really cute dog. I guess they think a guy with a Wookie for a dog can't be all that much of a threat lol.

My life frustration and regret at this time is that I could have done better. I should have done better and I don't know how the no retirement , no nuttin thing is going to play out in time.

Maybe start a commune!

Being a minister is a terrible thing to do to a man. It's not real and it certainly doesn't allow for one's true authentic self to flourish.

DennisCDiehl said...

PS Was just talking with a friend who has been through the same kind of bone crusing relationship crash and we agreed there are really two lists in life.

A Bucket list
and a
F___it list.

(Sorry can't say the word. My mom would have a fit . In our house, saying "shut up" was akin to damnation:)

Mish-Mash said...

I hate to admit it, but I've had words with ministers in the past. I told off Pinelli around 1980 when they changed the makeup doctorine. I was 15 years old and sort of a geek. No way was I going to give up makeup! So he saw me with lip gloss on at a basketball game and got in my face. I told him it was people like him that were driving young people out of the church. Then he came to Union the next week and railed against the youth, one in particular. I stayed home that week. My parents weren't even mad, they agreed he was a jerk.

Then, years later, I returned to WCG after my hiatus in the catholic church. All the doctorines started to change 1992 thereabouts. I left in early 1994 and wrote Greg Sargent a letter and called him a Nazi for following orders.

Then in 2006, I emailed Paul Luecke with my resignation from United. No name calling, just told him the church isn't meeting my spriritual needs. I'm sure he didn't give a sh-t, I wasn't a bid donor.

Last October, I wrote a rant email to an LCG minister who was in my area a long time ago. Got the typical response, they represent the Living christ, blah, blah, blah.

I'm sure it doesn't make a difference to them one way or the other, but maybe if enough people start speaking up, they will start waking up.

Allen C. Dexter said...

"I'm sure it doesn't make a difference to them one way or the other, but maybe if enough people start speaking up, they will start waking up."

No, they won't. Not most anyway. They dare not admit that they aren't god's chosen messengers and chosen people.

Richard Pinelli was one of my closest friends when we were in college together. He was from the streets of Chicago and a little guy. I was from a North Dakots ranch and 6' 6". We looked like Mutt and Jeff.

I still have fond memories of him and am so sorry that he got ordained and set on the course that has turned him into what he has become. He didn't start out that way. Really, he was a likeable little Italian American. We were all very sincere and well meaning back then. I'm sure he still thinks he is and certainly wants to be.

It's sad. But, there is no end of sadness in this universe -- and the universe doesn't give a damn. That's just how it is.

Allen C. Dexter said...

"Being a minister is a terrible thing to do to a man. It's not real and it certainly doesn't allow for one's true authentic self to flourish."

That is so true, Dennis. It made my friend, Richard Pinelli, into the blind buffoon he has become.

At one time, I felt like a failure because I never was ordained. Now, I see it as a blessing. I hope, like you, I would have walked away, but who knows. Like the song says, there can be "a load of compromisin'" on the road to one's horizon.

It' bedtime. I'm going to sleep well with a clear conscience.

Byker Bob said...

I decided before going to Embarrassing College that I would never become a minister. I had seen what church authority was like at SEP, and what it did even to the guy who was made an assistant monitor. It seemed to turn people into the stereotypical dumb drill sergeant common to the military!

When I expressed my loathing for personal authority or a career in the ministry, upper classmen kept telling me that I was exactly the type of person who ended up as a minister. So, as the Beastie Boys rapped, I had to "fight for my right to parteeeeeee!" The faculty got the message towards the end of my sophomore year, and that particular monkey was removed from my back. However, it is disheartening indeed to learn what some of my classmates allowed themselves to become, and the dastardly deeds they did to those who looked to them as spiritual guides!

I realize, of course, that they simply trusted a corrupt and false system, and at least gave the overt appearance of being in harmony with Pasadena. Many of them learned some hard lessons later, but some have seemingly subverted their consciences and personalities for the sake of economic security. Regardless as to what we think of HWA, I believe his net effect on his followers was not so different from that of Charles Manson. Both took well intentioned, sincere people and utilized the power of their own personalities to warp them to produce evil.


Douglas Becker said...

I've gone nose to nose and toe to toe with ministers face to face. They would hear none of it. Their arrogance is absolutely disgusting.

I've helped people go to court and get a restraining order against a stalker in the church.

I started a project which got 70% of the people in an Armstrongist cult away from a cult leader.

The ultimate result of all my efforts?

As you would expect: Being totally ignored, except for being threatened with a $100,000 law suit (and someone else we know might get hit with it as well). Gratitude is not an option.

It's amazing the magnitude of the arrogance of religious sociopaths and psychopaths -- and for the most part they win, even when a very scant few take the risk and make the effort to oppose their efforts.