Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Van Robison on "The Curse of Conformity"

The Curse of Conformity

It is human to conform to others.  Many conform to every type of religious belief on earth, as well as to every political belief on earth.  Millions conform to whatever church they attend or whatever religious belief they have been indoctrinated with from birth.  Conformity is no guarantee of truth, it is just a fuzzy feeling.  Many have conformed to communism or any other form of "ism" on earth, whether it is political or religious.  Many human beings have a difficult time coping with being on the outside of conformity, while a few buck the system and defy conformity.

It is obvious that atheists are not conformists to the beliefs of millions of church goers.  Churches by their very nature tend to expect conformity and should anyone not conform, they are most likely to be shown the exit door. Churches by their very nature are in reality CENSORS.  Churches do not want independent thinkers, those who question the status quo or those who buck the system.  Churches only want those who conform and who submit to the false authority of the self-deceived power-mongers who stand in the pulpits and pretend to be "masters" of all knowledge and all truth in regards to God.

It is not only the pulpit-masters who are self-deceived, but those who warm the pews who are deceived in the extreme, to think that some human being represents God to them for life.  If Jesus Christ is indeed MASTER based upon Matthew 23, then where do human "pastors" come into play?  It is really pure stupidity to think that some human being, who will end life in the grave yard and in a casket, is God in the flesh.  Herbert W. Armstrong, along with many other names that so many have considered as "prophets", "apostles", "bishops" or whatever, have all ended life on earth by returning to dirt.  Why place faith in dirt?

Van Robison


Douglas Becker said...

In the end, each person stands on his (her) own alone. This is the premise of personal freedom.

The premise of the book Escape from Freedom by Dr. Erich Fromm is that the entire human community needs to mature to accept the responsibilities of freedom -- namely to embrace standing alone -- or else escape from it.

Retired Prof said...

Amen, Van.

My high school friends and I reveled in our nonconformity. Instead of participating in pep rallies, for example, we satirized them. When I went to Ambassador College, I retained the habit of looking skeptically at any attempt to mold students into a single mindset. It didn't take long for me to realize I did not belong there. In retrospect I have concluded that nobody else should have gone there either.

I could be wrong; some people believe their lives were improved by the experience, and who can judge better than they themselves?

Douglas Becker said...

I could be wrong; some people believe their lives were improved by the experience, and who can judge better than they themselves?


It's like mental patients telling the psychiatrist they're just fine and don't know why they are in the mental hospital.

Sure, sure: Former Ambassador College students are just fine -- they were improved by the experience.


Not the ones I've encountered.

I was improved by being denied going (though I did not know it at the time).

Byker Bob said...


I suppose the long term effects are determined by one's attitudes and activities while at Embarrassing College. It was a safe place for a young person to kick back for a couple of years, party, and contemplate life. I lived in the underground there, operating below the radar as much as possible. I'd already learned about the bogussness of their chain of authority and its deleterious effect on others while attending SEP camp.

It's kind of funny. As students, we were constantly told what an awesome, priceless opportunity we had, and that many others solemnly wished they could be there in our places. If that's true, then I wasted somebody else's space, possibly even your own! In terms of damage, though, I really didn't allow AC to do that to me. The damage had already been done. I probably already had PTSD from "childrearing, God's way" in my WCG home, and the constant fear of not making it to Petra, or being tortured by the Germans. That's probably why I never was preoccupied by the spectre of Viet Nam, as were much of my generation.


DennisCDiehl said...

Obviously there are topics where conformity, or perhaps I mean cooperation are necessary for survival. Lots of examples I suppose.

But it is the conformity to ideas that stalls the growth process. Without critical thinkers who don't mind living outside the boxes provided at birth or by organized groups or organizations, we'd be at the mercy of the powerful though wrong.

Most but the very liberal Churches demand one way or another conformity of thought and practice even if one does neither understand it nor agree with it. That's what belonging is all about.

It's non-conformity that got us to mars last week. It is non-conformity that gives us insights into the nature of reality, consciousness, light, time, space and matter. It gives us string theory and parallel universes along with the big bang and our universe being just one of a billion more bubbles in time and space.

Sometimes I might bristle at telling me what to do and I might still do it for the sake of peace and groupness. However, don't ever tell me what to think. That's my (all our) job and my mind, with it's filters or lack thereof sees as it sees and experiences as it does which may be the whole point anyway.

Douglas Becker said...

Byker Bob, you appear to be the exception, but, for the most part, Ambassador College seems to make even those who have become AntiArmstrongists part of the elite -- a private little social club which no one else can ever enter: Different, special, superior, with a badly barely disguised condescension of arrogant contempt. There's always that message, "You don't know anything, so you can't understand us, and by the way, you don't know anything". It lies beneath the surface, waiting for attack mode when the "specialness" of being a part of the elite conformists comes to the fore.

I'm unimpressed.

An experience sums it up for me: I visited Ambassador College three times. On one visit, I was job hunting with a government agency, so I stopped by the campus (and on this trip I went through the Master's Theses in the Library). I was at the student center when Dibar Apartian came up with a collegue, in some intense discussion and I opened the door to the student center. They kept right on going without even acknowledging my presence as if I were either the door man or an automatic door opener. I didn't count. I didn't matter. I was just so much background "noise". And it wasn't like there were a lot of other people around: This was late summer and we were the only three people in sight.

Now you may think that that is just a single incidence, but you know what, it isn't. I've had that experience over and over. I'm not the only one. Consider the Consciencious Objectors at Big Sandy. They weren't even treated like they were a part of the human race: Exterestrial Aliens from the planet Submissive Slaves -- treated horribly and not permitted to "mingle" with any of the students during their years of servitude there.

The stench of arrogance persists years after departing from Armstrongism and for those who have been so immersed in it, after awhile, they get used to the smell and they don't even notice it any more.

Anonymous said...

Conformity, relating one's social environment has more to do with a person's religious convictions and beliefs than many(most?) care to admit.

A person raised in a family and country that is mostly Christian will likely adopt Christian religious convictions and beliefs. (Even though he may claim his "choice" is because of the "truth" of the loving God he has a personal relationship with, the divine protection, the fabulous blessings and miracles, and the ultimate sense of peace that Christianity provides.)

Similarly, a person raised in a family and country that is mostly Muslim will likely adopt Muslim religious convictions and beliefs. (Even though he may claim his "choice" is because of the "truth" of the loving God he has a personal relationship with, the divine protection, the fabulous blessings and miracles, and the ultimate sense of peace that Islam provides.)

Conformity is very often a HUGE unconscious motivator, especially in those who evangelize for their particular religion, enthusiastically employing the cheesy and slimy sales-tactics contained in their bags of tricks.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and speaking of "cheesy and slimy sales-tactics" of evangelizers, I'll mention one more thing...and, this is some good news!

David Barton's latest bestselling book about Thomas Jefferson has been pulled from the shelves and it's publication and distribution stopped, by it's Christian publisher.


Because it's demonstratively full of more of David Barton's lies.
Barton is a rabid Christian "Liar for Jesus"

David Barton's a Texas evangelical.
He's also a pseudo-historian and revisionist historian.
(Even though he lacks credentials as an actual historian.)
Even other Christian evangelical leaders are lamenting the fact that Barton is a dangerous person who pulls wads of crap out of his ass and presents them as "historical facts"

David Barton is influential. On those nut-filled Christian TV networks like Daystar and Trinity Broadcasting network, he's a favorite interviewee.
He's gained the ear of many right-wing politicians who share his rabid Christian agenda.
He was named one of Time magazine's most influential evangelicals. He was a long-time vice chairman for the Texas Republican Party.
Some, such as Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, absolutely adore David Barton.
Mike Huckabee even said that children need to be “under his tutelage” and said that every American should be forced “at gun point” to “listen to every David Barton message”
One of the advisers to the Texas Board of Education was David Barton, leading them to rewrite the history textbooks to make them more conservative and Christian-friendly.
And then the Republican Party of Texas wrote into its 2012 platform, as part of the section on education, that they oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills.

LOL! You cant be using "critical thinking skills", at least not if you want to believe Barton's "Lies for Jesus"!


Byker Bob said...


Considering the lifestyle they taught, it is unforgivable that faculty members would have failed to at least thank you for opening and holding the door for them. Just about everyone knew everyone, students and faculty, and a visitor might have been a co-worker or a prospective student, and should have been made to feel at home. Don't worry, though. Some of the people there thought they had my number, and averted making eye contact with me or saying hello when passing in the halls or on walkways, even though this was an expected custom amongst the student body and faculty. Not only did they know that I liked to have fun, but they also realized that even at that age I was a critical thinker and didn't buy into what we were being taught. There just wasn't the normal inter-Zombie trust factor going on!

I cringed when I read the anecdotes from some of the Texas conscientious objectors several years back. Those guys were totally helpless as they were being abused. To a certain extent, I was not.

Basically, the student body was a huge collection of Niedermeyer types (think Animal House). But, they were worse than Niedermeyer because they would drink some of your beer that you shared with them, appearing friendly all the while, and then about a week later, you'd find out that they had reported you as an outgrowth of what you thought had been an honest and sincere discussion. In fact, one of the important factors responsible for getting people ordained as ministers was willingness to rat on fellow students to the faculty. Neither prospective ministers, nor faculty members followed Biblical procedures in checking the facts regarding the rumors. At one point, when I was called in to the hall of Admin. my faculty inquisitor had an entire desktop of reports on me from various wannabee ministers. I asked to see them, pointed out several obvious glaring falsehoods, but at the finish, these went back into my file as if true, uncorrected. This lunatic had literally asked me if I planned to be in Viet Nam next semester! So much for mentoring, or loving Christian counsel! To be honest, I had not been any angel, and they had actually missed some of my infractions. However, the reports they did happen to have on me were fabrications and lies. There are such things as "getting someone clean" or "getting someone dirty".
Someone to whom the end justifies the means can't even perceive a difference.

I also agree on the arrogance, Douglas. Sooner or later, it always ends up coming out. The Rod Meredith verbal example with which we are all so familiar ("I never committed a major sin from the point of my baptism on!") is in fact just another a cliched mantra.

In retrospect, I should have stood up to my parents, and local minister and insisted on attending a business or technical college. Had it not been for their doctrine of 1975, and the Viet Nam war ongoing, I probably would have been adamant concerning my own future. What they had visualized as being my "calling" ended up just being frustrating for all involved. Three of my siblings also attended, with varying results.


Retired Prof said...

Hey, what's this about the Conscientious Objectors? I left while Big Sandy was only the Feast site; a sister attended college there after it became a campus, but I never heard her mention this issue. And I don't remember it in Ambassador Reports, which I began to look at after I retired in 2006.

Is there a site where I can read about this?

Assistant Deacon said...

Prof, AC was once a ha-ha-ha-haven for young men fleeing military service because HWA said they should. They were treated almost like slave labor and were definitely second-class citizens, in Pasadena and in Big Sandy. (Couldn't date college coeds, etc.)

One take:

I thought it was an interesting turnabout years later when one of those young COs not only became a full-time employee (custodian, of course) in Big Sandy, but went on to complete his doctorate and become a faculty member. Of course, by then a lot of the big shots who had treated him like dung were long gone, but his was quite an accomplishment, all things considered.

Byker Bob said...

Retired Prof:

This anecdotal evidence regarding the C.O.'s at Big Sandy came out either through discussions following the publishing of the book "Showdown at Big Sandy", or in the actual book itself. Gary has that book available as part of the resources right here on this site. Go to the home page, and scroll down on the right side of the screen. It's listed as a reference.

BTW, don't feel badly about not knowing about this. I'd heard the stories of guys captive on their work program having to work next to homosexuals who were wearing Chanel #5, but knew nothing about the figuratively caniballistic WCG eating their own who were part of this program.


Retired Prof said...

AD and BB, thanks for the info.