Monday, June 18, 2012

The World's Most Humble Man

This was sent to me today.  There is a movement on one of the legalistic yahoo groups to start up a list of praise worthy things to say about HWA.  It is to counteract all of the blogs and web sites that ridicule and mock all things HWA. It's a virtual slobberfest.  Do you agree that this story portrays the man as the worlds humblest apostle?

Your note below reminded me of the Feast in Eugene in 1983. It was the 50th. anniversary of the beginning of the Eugene congregation, and Mr. HWA made an appearance at the Feast site. One evening, everyone was gathered to hear him speak. There was quite a crowd standing around. Soon, Mr. HWA entered, led by a group of young ministers who quickly walked through the crowd of people to the front of the room, leaving Mr. HWA to find his own way. Mr. HWA followed behind walking more slowly as his vision wasn't very good. He was carrying his large bible under his arm, and soon stopped as there was a young boy about 8 years old kneeling down on the floor tying his shoe in front of him. Rather than pushing his way around him, Mr. HWA just stopped and patiently waited for this child to finish tying his shoe before proceeding.
As an important man as Mr. HWA was, I thought it was a humble thing for him to do, to consider a child and wait for him to finish. I saw this clearly as I was close by. It was one of my sons who was in the way, but I couldn't get through the last few feet to move him aside for Mr. Armstrong.
In his autobiography, Mr. Armstrong admitted to being vain in his younger days. Having personally known a number of people who knew him back then, I remember they often mentioned his ego; which is a turn off to people.
One could see that in his later years, Mr. HWA was a very humble and loving man; a testament to the conversion process, God's working with him over those many years.


Anonymous said...

The great man did not kick my eight year old son out his way as he so richly deserved to do. Oh what a humble saint! Sheesh!

Assistant Deacon said...

I agree, Anon, what was he supposed to do, stomp the kid in his apostolic indignation?

I love the setup -- young ministers pushing their way to the front, leaving HWA to fend for himself.

Look, I was around HWA several times, too, as so many were. He wasn't some kind of 24/7 monster. He was human. The exception taken is to his interpretation of scripture, his application of select ideas to himself, and the oft-resulting demeaning of members in his organizations -- and to the inexcusable things being done to this day by countless mindless sycophants as they invoke his mantle, or whatever.

Douglas Becker said...

Yes, and Mafia Dons are often so nice in person, kind to children, keeping themselves busy in their beautiful rose garden, having wonderful family meals together.


There's all that collateral damage.

Anonymous said...

This wonderful incident reminds me of the kindnesses another deceased Christian- Adolph Hitler- had publicly and privately engaged in.

I get all goose-pimply, thinking of Adolph and Herbert, and all the kindnesses those great Christians showed to children and pets!

Douglas Becker said...

Birds of a feather... you know like Marcos and other dictators.

Real nice people.

And so buddy-buddy.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

“This wonderful incident reminds me of the kindnesses another deceased Christian- Adolph Hitler- had publicly and privately engaged in.”

Comparing Herbert Armstrong to Adolph Hitler reveals an Armstongite mentality. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but the influence of HWA is so minuscule that even with all the exposure given him by the internet a very small percentage of the world’s population have had their lives affected by him whether good or evil. I doubt the world as a whole is any better or worse than it would have been if he had never existed.

The only comparison I can see is that they were both “little” men with big “egos”. HWA’s influence was limited to an insignificant “Cult” that attracted people with biblical questions that have been debated for centuries. Many of those who were given prominent leadership roles had the same “ego” problems, which contributed to a lack in developing a more balance approach to resolving the needs of the people. They all wanted to be seen as “great and important”, but went the path of self-destruction.

What we often fail to recognize is this path of destruction is what the “biblical story” is all about.
Albert B

Anonymous said...

Well yeah, Albert. HWA only killed a few people(as in hundreds or thousands), while Hitler killed in the millions.

But they're both cut from the same evil cloth.

If you want, you can ask if Hitler or Armstrong or Manson personally killed their victims.

The answer is "no", for all three despots.

However, if you ask if any of those despots are responsible for the deaths, the answer is a clear and resounding, "YES!"

Allen C. Dexter said...

Hitler gained control over a nation, so the effects of his tyranny were international in scope. HWA built up a little, but at one time significant, cult. His effects were more limited, but the enormity of their effect on individual lives were similar.

The two men were very similar, and I have recognized that for decades. Stalin fell into the same class, along with Saddam Hussein. Psycopaths are psycopaths, and all that separates them are the degree of power to which they attain.

Byker Bob said...

When I was ten, I was using the bathroom in the new big tabernacle in Big Sandy Texas. Suddenly, my parents' new hero HWA walked in with his entourage. I looked up and smiled, and he kind of scowled and told me to be careful not to splash. I knew at this age how to use a faucet, was not splashing, and had no intention of splashing.
So, my first encounter with HWA probably was a very accurate reflection of his judgmental personality. And, of course, when I told my parents of the encounter, they told me my proper response should have been, "Oh, no Sir! I won't!"


Steve Kisack said...

I wonder what he would have done if you would have splashed. I'm sure an "arm band" would have grabbed you by the scruff of the neck, and took you to your father who would have beat the crap out of you!

Anonymous said...

I can see it may futile to discuss reality here. It is common knowledge that human life is a mixture of good and evil. The object of my comment was to point out that the focus on the evils of Herbert Armstrong as being the destruction compared to that of Hitler is an exaggeration that does not consider those thousands of people who did not experience the abuses and disappointments that may have affected others.

I have some personal opinions based on personal experience, but most of the negative factors I know about Herbert Armstrong have be provided be second, third, forth, etc. sources. What I see is a protracted effort to sway people to form opinions outside of their personal experience.

It is reported here that there is an effort being made to expound on the “good” of Herbert Armstrong, but I am sorry to say that reality from a human perspective is; that ten thousand “goods” will not compensate for one “evil”. Perhaps we need to change our perspective.
Albert B.

Anonymous said...

I've witnessed a lot of death and destruction, firsthand, in just the smallish WCG congregation I attended.

Of course, it must be the members' fault!
Ain't it grand, to re-victimize the victims?! Doing so is the forte of apologists for destructive cults.

John said...

Albert B. said: "...ten thousand “goods” will not compensate for one “evil”..."

Absolutely correct. Look at King David as an example. All the "good" he did in uniting the kingdoms of Israel and Judah would be overshadowed, even forgotten, by his adultery with Bathsheba and conspiracy to murder Uriah. Even God said so much in 2 Samuel 12:14: " this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme." Looking closer to home it wasn't long ago when I, along with others, thought that the Lewinsky scandal would do much the same for "Slick Willie."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
“I've witnessed a lot of death and destruction, firsthand, in just the smallish WCG congregation I attended”

Please do not misinterpret what I say. I do not imply that a lot of “wrongs” did not exist, nor do I imply that those who suffered from them were at fault. Since I do not have facts regarding these events such a judgment would be foolish. My point is that just belonging to a “cult” does not create these disasters. I was associated with the “cult” for a considerable length of time and attended four different congregations. As far as I know any death and destruction that took place was not caused by being a member of WCG. In earlier years (late 1950’s and early 1960’s) some of the members did not show the greatest wisdom in applying some of the teachings and some of the pastors were more radical in enforcing their authority, but I do not recall this being the norm.
It is possible that the membership as a whole in contributed to the stability I believe existed in these areas. Like I say I am not disputing the fact that there were problems, but to discount the fact that “many” who experienced the same spiritual journey built positive productive lives is unreasonable.
The primary flaw in this type of reasoning is that it fails to focus on the real problem, which is the core of “biblical” teaching. The “natural” human focus is on the problem, but fails to isolate the specific cause when looking for a solution. To blame a church, an organization, or the “world” is futile since these are all made up of people. The only solution to all of the problems experience by people must start with a focus on changing the “natural” characteristic of “all” the people. That is the heart and core of what “Christianity” is all about.
Albert B.

Anonymous said...

How about a change in perspective; where one "good" compensates for all evil.
Albert B.

Anonymous said...


Within a destructive cult, many members will encounter disastrous results, and even many deaths, as happened in the WCG.

It's what HWA did.

Like Charles Manson and Adolph Hitler, HWA was responsible for the vast majority of the devastation and deaths within the WCG.

Anonymous said...

How about a change in perspective; where one "good" compensates for all evil.
Albert B.

Jim Jones did wonderful things in his California community.

Hitler petted a puppy.

HWA petted his daughter.

Charles Manson flossed his teeth.


And I see you too, Pol Pot, hiding behind the couch!
Come and get your hug!

Anonymous said...

I see there are few Christians commenting here. Why? Because those commenting missed the point that the one "good" is the sacrificial offering of Jesus the Christ. Those who claim to be Christian should have picked up on that little point.
Albert B.

Anonymous said...

Some things to think about,
I have a few questions for those who have declared there is no good in those who are members in the WCG and all its splinters. Do you believe that the badness of Herbert Armstrong has made all the people in those organizations bad people? Do you believe the biblical Jesus has any influence on the lives of people who dedicate their lives to following the example of the biblical Jesus? Do you believe that those who are following the example of the biblical Jesus would do bad things wherever they are? Do you believe that a person in you family doing bad things would make you a bad person? Think about those questions for awhile.
Albert B.

John said...

Albert B. said: "...the one 'good' is the sacrificial offering of Jesus the Christ..."

Indeed, Albert, when you look at the purpose of Christ's life, death and resurrection that's in essence the only "good!" Even God pulled no punches in Isaiah 64:6 saying that "all our righteousnesses are as [menstrual!] rags." Some, including the WCG and its offshoots, might be content to define righteousness as obedience to the law, but such falls far below the righteousness of the living God, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone, as is presented in the NT testifying that it's a much higher righteousness beyond the righteousness of the law that is of importance (e.g. Rom 3:21; 4:13-14; 7:6; 9:30-31; 10:3-4; Gal 2:21; 5:4; Phil 3:9). Such can only ever be attributed to God and never to man to achieve.

Assistant Deacon said...

Albert B., I've read and reread your posts and I can't figure out what you're trying to say. I THINK you're suggesting that people not throw out the baby with the bathwater, but I'm not sure.

There's a lot of sarcasm and downright cynicism on this board, to be sure. In some cases, it's meant as a wink and a smile; in others, it's the manifestation of years of grappling with what, for many, was a disappointing and disillusioning experience in the WCG.

In the Armstrongist world, "the church" and HWA were one and the same. That was never clearer than when he made the move to the corporation sole structure in the late 1970s. What was portrayed as a safeguard against a government takeover of the organization was, for all practical purposes, a once-and-for-all declaration of the way things actually were.

I remember a faculty member in Pasadena who once mentioned to a student in class that he'd never read Hislop's "Two Babylons," once a companion to the Bible for the most diligent WCGers. The student was shocked. The faculty member said simply, "I read the introduction, and his premise is faulty. When the premise is faulty, the conclusion will be faulty, so there was no reason to read the rest."

That's the conclusion most here have drawn. HWA's premise -- be it Loma's dream, or British Israelism, or what have you -- was faulty. (It doesn't help that he was engaged in scurrilous personal behavior at that same time.) So the resulting movement was a house of cards, particularly in the area of doctrine.

It has nothing to do with whether the people in the organization(s) are/were nice people, or sincere. And it certainly has nothing to do with the "biblical Jesus," whatever you mean by using that qualifier.

People agonized over things said to them, demanded of them, and done to them for decades. The problem was the system, the theology, the movement, and the ultimate bad fruit it produced. Ministers who remain in the system, along with other advocates of it, want to be let off the hook now that HWA is long gone. It's as if they're insisting, "This has nothing to do with HWA," when, in fact, it has everything to do with him.

Beliefs are fine, particularly when they are put into practice quietly and humbly in the way a person chooses to live. What this blog chooses to expose, however, is the nonsensical premise that countless WCG offshoots choose to perpetuate -- that HWA was God's only chosen apostle on earth, that the WCG was therefore God's one true church, and that now they (RCG, PCG, LCG, UCG, COGWA, blah, blah, blah) are the legitimate successor to it all.

It simply doesn't add up, and it galls people to hear them claim otherwise.

Anonymous said...

My reply to Assistant Deacon
What I am pointing out is that your perception of “in the Armstrongist world, "the church" and HWA were one and the same” is flawed and not reality. It may have been fun and games for those few at Ambassador and headquarters, but to those thousands that made up the membership around the world it was (and still is for many) a serious commitment to God not Herbert Armstrong. What may seem nonsensical to you and those who are bent on ridicule may not be seen in the same light by those in the various congregations living their everyday lives.

I do not deny that some of the things may seem ridiculous when posted here and elsewhere, but what is posted is only a small part of the lives of those involved. If a person takes the time to study the psychology of religion it will be recognized that a person’s religion is an important part of their life. When we treat it lightly or fail to recognize its importance we cause an emotional damage that can actually destroy the person.

I cannot go into all of the details in this area, but having studied psychology as it relates to religion I will point out that often people who think they are helping other by freeing them for what appears to be bondage can contribute to total destruction in their life. It is this awareness that has caused me to post comments in some of the article material here.

I personally will never intentionally belittle a person’s beliefs no matter what I may believe about them. My personal approach is to accept them at face value and share some of my beliefs on the subject if it is appropriate and continue friendship as long as it is practical. I spent over 42 years associated with the WCG before I decided to withdraw membership and I spent another 6 years communicating though a fellowship letter to many who had been cut adrift. Now I just focus on keeping our family together through communication letters.

Does this help in understanding. I have no intention of galling anyone, but the approach taken here is the selfish view of those few who apparently fail to see that a “church” is more than Herbert Armstrong and a few dysfunctional people feeding their own ego even if it was drawn together through erroneous teachings.
Albert B.

Anonymous said...

Albert wrote, I have a few questions for those who have declared there is no good in those who are members in the WCG and all its splinters.

My response: You are off the track, Albert! No one commenting on this blog, to my knowledge, has ever made such a declaration.

Albert wrote, Do you believe that the badness of Herbert Armstrong has made all the people in those organizations bad people?

My response: Again, you are off the track, Albert! Why would you ask such a silly question?

Albert wrote, Do you believe that a person in you family doing bad things would make you a bad person?

My response: Again, Albert, you are off the track with this question, too, and I find it sad that you'd even ask such a ridiculous question.

Albert, I'd suggest that you may need to think for a while before proceeding with your non-stop knee-jerk reactions.
Perhaps several years of reading this blog without responding to posts will help you get back on the track.

It takes time to get over it, Albert- sometimes many years, and I recognize that your emotions are rather frazzled and raw.

If you need to, spend lots of time reading about other despots and cults and how they operate.
Join and read message boards operated by former members of OTHER cults.

If you give it enough time, you are sure to recognize some very common traits between all gurus and their destructive cults, even though they may seem very dissimilar on the surface.

I wish you the best in your continued recovery process, and hope you will eventually be able to see people's attitudes and opinions here more accurately.

Retired Prof said...

Albert B., it is commendable that you "personally will never intentionally belittle a person’s beliefs no matter what [you] may believe about them." The key word is "personally."

The value of a site such as this is that participants can explain their beliefs or lack of them without a personal face-to-face encounter with those who disagree. Writing out our ideas and defending them against others who find flaws in them helps us bring our scattered ideas together and make our individual world views more consistent.

Never mind that people still disagree with one another. When the dust settles, everyone can see more clearly even if their perspectives still differ because they are standing in different places.

Like you, I know people who have thrived while believing in and practicing Armstrongist religion. I know others who have thrived while rejecting religion altogether; I am one of them.

Just as confused people with a leaning toward belief benefit psychologically from testimony and hymns of praise, confused people whose gut says "religion does not work for me" can benefit from skeptical questions and satiric barbs. Please don't try to make us feel guilty for providing them.

Assistant Deacon said...

Well, Albert, we would just have to disagree on what, in reality, constituted the church. I mean, feel free to try to wrestle it from Joe Jr. and see how far you get.

There's no question that religion is an important part of people's lives. Look at Skinheads. Look at Westboro Baptist Church and their hateful speech and intrusive protests. Pardon me if I lack concern for what their beliefs mean to them.

This is not a site for kid gloves. It is advertised at the top of the main page as one dedicated to "exposing the underbelly of Armstrongism in all of it's wacky glory," and goes on to say, "If you are looking for a recovery group from Armstrongism this will NOT be it!"

I'd say that's a fair warning, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

I want to thank those posting in response to some of my comments. I will mention that my view of the particular article may have been misapplied. The article started out talking about people making an effort to list all of the praiseworthy things that Herbert Armstrong has done and the responses indicated that there was nothing good that could be said. The truth is there is always something good even if it serving as a bad example. My concern was not about HWA, but those who are ridiculed for their sincere efforts to justify their feelings. Much of what is presented is hatred for people rather than their behavior and conduct. Like I said I may have overreacted.

I will share this about myself. I have no emotional problems regarding all that happened in WCG and Associates. In viewing all that has been said about the organization I recognize that I and my wife were never Armstrongist. We were and are “Christians” who live our beliefs. I have a personal understanding of “Christianity” and what it represents that has been develop through the 56 years since I committed my life to God and I am still learning. I will try to be more conscious of the issues being covered here and maybe a little more diplomatic in how I present myself. You probably will not see me Armstrong Bashing, but maybe I can give you an “old man’s” of some of the things that some of “younger fellows” may face in the future, but nothing about “Prophecy” because that was never my interest.
Thanks again
Albert B.

Anonymous said...

I see I left out view after "old man's" and will add this, I can be make cutting remarks, but I have learn to control that in the development of maturity.
Albert B.

Byker Bob said...

I realize that it's late in the game to be commenting on this aged post, but somehow I feel as some valuable perspective has been lost.

You can list good, and you can list bad. Bottom line is that it's the net effect that speaks most loudly and eloquently. I suppose there are some people who were in such desperate condition that HWA and WCG might have actually improved their lives. In retrospect, though, it's easy to recognize other applied philosophies which would have been more beneficial or effective for the desparate people.

For most of us commenting here, it is useless to enumerate the few good qualities HWA might have had in the face of all the horrible negative effects the man had in our lives, often for decades. These effects were not due to our rebellion or status as "dumb sheep", they were due to the package of unworkable, (and unChristian) doctrines which were taught and enforced in our lives.

Whether it be people with curable illnesses who died due to the church's bogus teachings regarding the medical profession, farmers who lost their farms due to HWA's teaching on farming techniques, children who grew up with horribly warped personalities due to the church's child rearing teachings, people who were impoverished by the church's very questionable teaching of three tithes, those who haphazardly entered into marriage, or blew off their education due to their apostle's teaching that he knew when Jesus would return, people who turned their backs on their own very good and functional families because their family was not Armstrongite, or a plethora of other practices and events, HWA's effect was always negative, yet if you failed to deny and repress this you were seen as having a bad or bitter attitude and were depicted as being in the bonds of Satan.

We should all have known this immediately and instinctively when he started putting down the "rock n roll".