Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dennis on: "Surrendering to the Mystery"

Surrendering to the Mystery

"How do you know the experience you are having is the experience you are suppose to be having?...  Because you are having it."
Eckhart Tolle

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorI don't think anyone would argue with the reality that the Worldwide Church of God experience was a life changer in many ways.  I can't speak for others, but I know that had I not had the WCG experience, I would have had the same experience in some other form, with others I never met and friends I never made because I had the WCG experience.  I know that whatever theology, and I had been accepted to a Wesleyan Seminary before being accepted to Ambassador College, I adopted, I know that I personally would have had a crisis of faith and gone through the same learning that I feel I have now learned about the Bible and religion.  Somewhere in my 40's no matter what church I had thought I needed to pastor and minister in, I would have generally the same experience and come to the same conclusions though perhaps under different circumstances.

When I was 18, I had to follow the WCG.  You could not have stopped me.  I tucked my application under my shirt and secretly mailed it so my parents would not know what I had done.  I was surprised when the local pastor in Buffalo called me to interview me and my parents invited him over just fine.  They actually became good friends as my parents are like that. 

When push came to shove and I had not heard from AC and the Wesleyan Seminary had already accepted me, I called Pasadena and said I needed a decision now.  The lady on the phone said, "just a minute."  She then came back and said you are accepted.  How hilarious is that.  What a turn of the wheel of fate that was to prove to be and all the associated lessons to come.

I eventually got on a plane and somewhere over the Western US knowing it would be my last, ate a ham sandwich on the approach to Los Angeles.  I had already had my last Xmas and my last Easter.  I was one naive yet sincerely seeking kid at 18.  Oh..and it was the height of the Vietnam draft as well and at 18, my draft number was 14 if I remember and I ain't no soldier.

To keep it short, the whole WCG experience played out over 40 years.  College, 14 congregations, 5 states, a scandal every five years along with a nagging tension that things should not be this difficult in a religious organization.  The older I got, the more I regretted the choice I know you could not have talked me out of originally.  My mind found all sorts of ways to cope.
 "Well this is like the New Testament Church.  They had problems too."  "Well, every organization has its cranks."  "Oh that's not true and even if is, people are just people."  "After HWA dies it will be better."  "I'm not giving sermons on that topic anymore."  "I wish I had never heard of WCG."  "I wish I had gone to the University of Penn and become a paleontologist......"   

Kids grew up, relationships were strained, anger became a suppressed friend,  painbodies erupted, marriage fails,  relationships fail,  I want to now know what I should have known to begin with and the rest is history.

Sometimes I sit here with Chewie the Wookie like Shih Tzu talking to her and asking, "what the hell happened Chewie?"  I get the Buddhist look of "life happened....what's your point?"


What happened was a story.  We all have one.  Had I gone to Roberts Wesleyan Seminary instead of AC, it would have been a different story.  Had I not delayed a plane trip at age 21 for a day, I'd be dead as it was hit by a fighter jet over Duarte, California June 6, 1971.   So many ways a story can change.

But I had the WCG experience.  Was it a good experience or a bad one?   I don't have to judge it or define it I suppose, but I do have to live with it and the only choice I have is , not did I have it, but what do I do with it?  Crying over spilled milk and all.

I can't speak for anyone but myself.  But I do know that each of us has to answer the question, "Has this experience made me a better person or a worse one?"  Can one accept what is unchangeable now and chalk it up to just being a story which at anytime could have changed courses and been another one?   Can you change one thing about the experience that is already past?  Can I undo it?  Can I fix it?   Can I wish it away?  etc...Nope...It is what it is and the years go on and eventually we run out of time any way.  I'm not going to be an paleontologist specializing in Neanderthal's in Europe.  My Kodak dad always said he wanted to be a State Trooper so I guess this trait runs in the family.  

The stages of going through the crash of WCG and the faith and perceptions of tens of thousands contains all the stages and traits of what one goes through when something or someone dies.  It is a perceived loss.  At the time I wondered why a couple hundred folk could not have run the Tkaches out of town on a rail and kept it all together, but now I realize that, for me, that would have only been a temporary fix.  I was bound to outgrow it in any form.

So, when it's all said and done, are we better or worse for it all?   Only each can answer for themselves.  Some are more vocal than others.  For the thousands that read this site, it is interesting to me that there is just a core group of those who jump in.  I assume all others just read and think about it all.  Because if we perceive we are worse for it all and intend to spend the rest of our time bitter, angry and manifesting all the things painbodies love to feed on, how does that serve us?  How does that serve you?   What does that make of the rest of our lives?

"What eats you...eats you.."  comes to mind.   Emotions can make the heart and the body quite ill.  How does that serve me?

So, for my own sake, and I can't speak for others, I surrender.  I had this experience that was full of both joy and sorrow, good times and bad, great gains and losses, friends and not friends,  success and failure and just about every dichotomy there is in life.  There was much to be thankful for and some to be sorry for in hind site.

"How do you know the experience you are having is the experience you are suppose to be having?...  Because you are having it."
I don't see anyway it could have been different than it was and is.  The only choice left is what to learn from and do with it in what I now consider to be just one more way of attending Earth School.


Head Usher said...

One of the overarching lessons of macroeconomics is that no matter what happens, or what random walk the economy takes, in theory at least, although each path winds up being different, no path is better than any other. Each one has it's pros and it's cons, and they kinda balance out. The more out of balance you get, the greater the forces become pushing you back toward equilibrium.

When I applied that to life, it really helped me to stop worrying about the paths I didn't take, because I realized that, chances are, they would be filled with an equal amount of joy and heartache as the one I did take, even if the joys and heartaches would have been different ones. So, then, in a sense, it doesn't really matter what choices you make. I know that's not entirely true, because if I were to choose to become a drug addict, that might have an some outsized cons, and the only pro would be an empty chemical high. But I'm talking about the difference between two productive choices, yaknow, just for the sake of argument.

It also seems to me that there is something inherently circular about life. We sort of wind up in old age where we started out at birth, in diapers, with jowly cheeks, and kinda helpless, and in between we worry about all the middle stuff. As Robert Sapolsky so aptly said, "We have to get our kids into the right preschool so they can get into the right elementary school so they can go to the right high school so they can go to the right college so they can work for the right company so that eventually they can get into the right nursing home." If you walk in a circle there will always be an exactly equivalent amount up uphill terrain as there is downhill.

Allen C. Dexter said...

I can definitely say I am better off for the experience, painful as it was. I, too, couldn't be talked out of it at age 18. People tried, but I was just too damn cocksure and they were bewildered by the bullshit. I was hooked and had to go through what I went through to be where I am today, and I am abundantly happy with where I am today.

At any point in our lives, we have to begin where are right now and try to make the most of it. There are always unknowns and misconceptions. We'll never get free from them.

I know the angst you're going through. I've been there. I've been on the path a while longer at 78. The important thing is to figure a way to survive and be at peace with yourself. Easy to say. Hard to implement

Byker Bob said...

Seriously? I wish I'd never heard of WCG or Herbert W. Armstrong. I'm sure I would have learned things of greater value through a totally different set of life circumstances and experiences.


Allen C. Dexter said...

That could be true in your case, BB, but I would have ended up stuck out there on that pile of North Dakota sand in an occupation I would have grown to hate, probably married to someone I chose in desperation (well, I sort of did that anyway and it didn't turn out well either), getting my body ripped and torn by one-ton animals on the end of a rope, etc.

If I'd known what I know now, I'd have found a way to get into a good college or university and studied jounalism, then worked my way up the ladder like another Dan Rather. I had the voice and fairly good looks. I'd like to think I could have made it. maybe there'd be some best selling books with my name on the author line.

Would my life have been some bed of rose petals? Probably not. Most of those people we admire have been through their own hells that they seldom talk about. Those are the rose thorns. Roses are a package deal, you know.

So, I'm not going to worry about it. My life has been what it has been. The end is turning out better than most of the beginning, but there were good times in that too. Like I wrote on my own blog recently, "so soon oldt, undt so late schmart." That reality is inescapable for everybody.

Anonymous said...

"How do you know the experience you are having is the experience you are suppose to be having?... Because you are having it."

And this is supposed to make the pedophile victims, the rape victims, the fraud victims, earthquake/tsunami victims, North Korean citizens, etc. feel better? You are SUPPOSED to be having this experience? It was all meant to be?

I don't think so!


Anonymous said...

For me, there is no "supposed to be", only what is. I seek to accept the moment and, as best as I can, learn to be who I really am, and at peace with myself and with those around me.

AC/WCG was a "must do" for me at 23 and a "what the hell did I do" at 33. There would have been lots of painful experiences with me along any path because I had lots of weaknesses that would have been tested under any circumstances.

At 68, I am old, wiser, and without doubt happier than I have ever been in my life. I got here in part because of those painful AC/WCG experiences and in part because of some goods things mixed in with the bad in my journey through cogland.

Glenn Parker

DennisCDiehl said...

shit happens Meighan. I'm talking about the bigger choices and outcomes of life and not crimes, accidents or all the events that can happen. Although, depending on the person, it would be how they viewed anything that happened.

People who live on the ocean and in earthquake zones as active as some need to realistically know anything can go wrong. People who live around yellowstone need to know they live in a super volcanoe caldron and a place where bears roam.

We live in a culture where we can go from high tech to the stone age in one day. Many in NY and NJ are learning this and it may change their whole lives or at least the lives of many for the good. Who knows.

Anonymous said...

The best post you've written Dennis IMHO! So honest and so relatable in so many ways! But like BB I wish that I had never heard of HWA and his dysfunctional cult! I wish after the failed prophecies of 1972-5 it had've splintered into 100s of 1000s of pieces like it has since 1995--20 years too late--or the CA legal battle had've done to HWA what's currently happening to Weinland coz then I probably would've lived my life without ever hearing about him except for a brief byline in the newspaper about some deranged egotistical cult leader who has fallen foul with the law.

Anonymous said...


I failed to thank you for this particular post, so "Thank you." You continue to have a gift for helping people examine our lives from different points of view. You have helped me a lot over the years. I drove from Austin to Midland, Texas a couple of weeks ago and thought of you, Shorty and several others while passing through Eden, Wall and San Angelo.

Glenn Parker

DennisCDiehl said...

Thanks...if we're going to have an experience, we may as learn something from it lol.

Of course, I wish I had never heard of WCG or followed my nose out to California, but since I did, that wish is useless in present time, is all I'm saying.

I wish a lot of things!!!!

Sorry the picture of Chewie the Wookie Shih Tzu did not come through! She's hilarious

Newlife said...

I realize full well that it is useless to continue to regret and to wonder what if but I have found it difficult to avoid. For those of us that still have mates in one of these groups there are constant reminders that keep us stirred up.

Byker Bob said...

Hey Glenn,

Do you have any recent news of Shorty and Pat? I've often wondered where their life's journey has taken them. Good, sincere people, both of them.


Anonymous said...

bb shorty n pat were my brother and sister in law good folks

Anonymous said...


Last I heard a few years ago from Rod Kellog, Shorty and Pat were living in a small town in East Texas. Shorty got laid off from WCG during the Tkach changes and at least for awhile was selling farming supplies. Would like to visit them soon if I can find them.

Best wishes to you, too, Bob - glad to see that you continue to learn and grow.

Glenn Parker

Anonymous said...

I wish I had never been in the Church. Of course I don't know what would have happened if I had had the different path, but the choices would have been mine.
I was only in it for 12 years, but those were my childhood and adolescence, so my whole personality was formed by their bullshit. Plus my family was destroyed and my mother ended up in a mental hospital. I can't imagine things would have turned out any worse for them without the Church.