Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Potter's Field

There is a documentary film coming out in June about a group of High School students who stepped out of their comfort zone to do something for "the other."  These kids serve as pall bearers for homeless men and women who have died.  Most of the time they are the only ones present.

What happens to the homeless when they die?

Four years ago the wrestling team at St. Xavier High School was offered an opportunity by their assistant coach, Ben Kresse, to do something positive for the community that would forever change their lives. The opportunity was to hold memorial services for the unknown, homeless, and those who had no remaining family to ensure a respectful burial. To this day, the students have volunteered their time and energy to make sure no one in Louisville, KY leaves this earth alone. Over the past four years there have been more than five hundred burials and not a single service has been missed.

Since the inception of the memorial program, seven schools and two colleges have joined St. Xavier's efforts. After graduating, some of the students have gone on to other cities and tried to start similar programs to give dignity to those who might otherwise have been cremated or placed in the ground without a second thought or care. The philosophy of the students and teachers involved is simple, “You come into the world being held and loved, and you should leave the world in the same way.”

The Potter's Field is a documentary film attempting to craft an honest portrait of the students and teachers involved as a means of recording their story and sharing their unique and important perspectives on life and death.

Armstrongism, particularly Pack, Flurry and Meredith, rail on and on about how wicked the youth of today are and how they are so self-adsorbed.  Yet here is a group of kids that prove them all to be liars.  Here is a group of kids that also outshine the youth in Armstrongism by light years.

The homeless  have never been an issue in the COG.  The Church had the attitude, "Why bother?  They will just continue on living as they are.  Let God fix it in the kingdom."  Instead of bringing the kingdom of God to earth for these people, the COG turned their backs on them.

I remember in the late 70's when HWA shut down the Pasadena campus, the first of several times,   there was widespread questions on what to do with the facility.  GTA actually came up with an idea to use the Student Center as a soup kitchen for the homeless.

The shit hit the fan with that suggestion.  HWA and the hierarchy were vehemently against it. How dare we bring unclean and dirty people into God's sacred buildings.

Can you imagine the youth of Living Church of God, Restored Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God ever doing such a thing?


Noah said...

1 word: WOW!
That is SO moving that they are doing that. God bless them! Others might look upon it as menial and trivial but to me that's what real Christian service is all about. Taking out a portion of your day to do something FOR someone else especially those in our society who are mostly forgotten and despised--out of sight, out of mind. I can imagine the ACOG view would be: "let the dead bury the dead"--nice Christian attitude right? So what if it was Christ who they were talking about? Didn't He die pretty much abandoned and alone? And yet even He was given a proper burial. Didn't a wise person say that our society is defined by how we treat the weakest and least fortunate? Well how about a church? HWA's reaction to the soup kitchen idea I guess said it all now didn't it?!

Anonymous said...

WCG and its remnant churches are truly light years behind when it comes to performing Christian duties. The members are so callous they would not even cry at the funeral of their very own family members. The members are emotionally seared to feel loss when death comes. And from my very own experience, the church would not even give a single centavo to these bereaved members even if these members are very faithful in paying third tithes. Despite third tithe payments, the members are left on their own when they die.

Anonymous said...

Wicked youth?

Are they talking about Stephen Flurry? Jon Meredith? David Meredith? Jeremy Weinland?

One of the many reasons sincere people end up leaving the ACOG sects is that they see the leaders railing against "wicked youth" while enabling even greater wickedness in their own children. It's a wonder more stories haven't been told openly about the wickedness of the leaders' children.

DennisCDiehl said...

Very nice. Another of the great "don't care about it" scriptures used correctly or not has been "Let the dead bury the dead." The emphasis of course was on the Living Spiritually dead burying the physically dead , but the use is throwing both into some category of don't care for them.

I am sure members asked their cold and rather stupid ministry about going to a funeral only to have that quoted to them

Respectfully burying the homeless , I am sure is outgrowth of the young who have not yet forgotten when it is all said and done, everyone had a story and we are all really small parts of the one larger thing.

Nice posting

DennisCDiehl said...

One scripture that needs to be erased from the Bible , among many probably, is "The heart of man is deceituful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it.." It is just not true when not pushed into fear or "and yes Brethren, I am an Aposte" mode.

On top of this, most of Britain is rather non literalist Christian so they seem a bit more inclined to be kind to all maybe. Fundies here in the South are rather spiritual hermits and clanish

Anonymous said...

Worse yet, these unclean people were unconverted! According to Bob Thiel these are "so-called" Christians. Worse yet, they may be Catholic. That is the ultimate COG abomination.

Anonymous said...

Well thanks a lot NO2! You made this hardened guy cry this morning. What an amazing thing these kids are doing. I don't know how many times over the decades I have heard Church of God ministers say, "let the dead bury the dead". No one was allowed to cry because we had some secret knowledge that they were going to be resurrected. What dumbasses!

Anonymous said...

How many could have been made unhomeless if the money spent for the auditoriums was spent for something useful, rehabilitating someone's life? What every you do to the least of these my brothers, you do to me? Did you ever hear that passage read from a COG pulpit?

Douglas Becker said...

My personal experience is that the Cult of Herbert Armstrong oft does not even show up at the funeral of their own members, but the Cult sure shows up to find out if they're in the Will.

What ever happened to the idea that you do something because it is nice and the right thing to do?

Too busy making Feast reservations. Tell us, just how many Israelites who kept the Feast in the Old Testament are going to be in the First Resurrection (if they weren't prophets or a stray king or two)?

That's right: Zero.

That's what keeping the Laws of Moses gets you.

"Lord, when did we ever feed the hungry..."? (Church potlucks don't count!)

Head Usher said...

"How many could have been made unhomeless if the money spent for the auditoriums was spent for something useful, rehabilitating someone's life?"

Not to be argumentative, but as it turns out, doing good is just as hard as doing anything else. Throwing money at social ills very often amounts to doing just that. A soup kitchen is fine, and it feeds a man for today, but rehabilitation is totally different ballgame. In order to do that, you have to have a pretty good strategy for how you're going to accomplish it, and frankly there isn't going to be a universal panacea strategy anyway. People wind up on the streets for many different reasons. However, that said, probably the most common reason is a mental deficiency of some sort, and these people need a supervised living arrangement with a social worker who monitors them. I am not sure if this qualifies as rehabilitation or not, but it does get them off the street. Trouble is, a lot of these people don't want to be under the thumb of a social worker. Often there's some substance abuse that they aren't ready to give up, and until they are, there's not much anyone can do for them except enable them to keep living the way they already do. They'll abandon a supervised living arrangement and return to the streets if they're not ready to get cleaned up. Anyway, my point is that you can't just have cash, you have to have a good plan first, and then you'll need some cash to fund that good plan. It doesn't work the other way around. And my concern with Armstrongism is that even if they'd ever had the desire to help people instead of building monuments to themselves, I have no confidence that HWA, GTA, Tkach, Meredith, UCG, Flurry, Pack, etc., could have ever, or will ever come up with a good strategy, because it would be based on some batshit false doctrine. But this excuses them not one bit for having no desire to help other people. Most ministers have historically had little or no desire to serve most people, either in or out of the church. But they were always eager to help themselves. And then they call themselves not only true christians, but the one and only true christians? Geez.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Don’t shoot the messenger (i.e. me), BUT………..

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong made it quite clear at least throughout my Worldwide Church of God experience (1968 – 1976). God raised the Philadelphia era of the Church of God from the dead Sardis era Church (also known as the Church of God, Seventh Day which ironically is more alive today than the dead WCG now known as Grace Communion International) to preach the gospel of the Kingdom around the world, and then the end shall come. The work of God under Herbert W. Armstrong was a work of witness and warning of the coming Great Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ on this earth to establish God’s Kingdom.

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

The purpose of the members of the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong was to support Mr. Armstrong in proclaiming the Good News of the coming Kingdom as “tithe slaves” sacrificing personal retirement (not needed because the “end was coming”), sacrificing personal financial security and sacrificing the welfare of member’s families.

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

The Work of God as previously discussed in my post was to be the first priority in one’s life, and membership’s eternal salvation was measured in how much their heart and their wallets/purses were in “the Work”.

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

It was widely preached in WCG that “this is NOT God’s world” This is Satan’s world. All worldly conditions suffered by humanity are a result of being in Satan’s world, and not following God’s way”. Therefore, homelessness, starvation, disease, etc. suffered by masses living in the world (Not God’s small COG called “the very elect”) is not God’s concern in this present age of Satan’s rule. Therefore, it was not a concern in the Philadelphia era of God’s Church under Herbert W. Armstrong.

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

The “Work of God” ended with the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. I left WCG in 1976, so I wasn’t around to hear the words of HWA available on You Tube recorded on several videos of sermons given toward the end of his life. He is recorded as saying (I paraphrase) that the Work of God will be completed with his life, and that it would be OVER at his death.

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

The dumb sheep just don’t believe Mr. Armstrong. There is no need for 600+ splinter groups competing with each other for a declining market share to accomplish a Work that was accomplished and completed by Mr. Armstrong himself. There is no need for UCG, RCG, LCG, PCG, COG-FF, COG-PK (laugh out loud), ICG, COGWA, etc., etc. etc. There is no need for Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, the idiot Rod Meredith, the jailbird Ron We inland, etc. etc. There is no need for Mark Armstrong to cart “dead Ted” out on cable TV (other than to provide himself with an income stream).

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

There IS a need for the Banned By HWA website to cover developments of the clowns that have come out of Armstrong’s WCG who fancy themselves as HWA wannabees seeking to move the mantle of HWA’s authority onto themselves. I won’t mention any names, but Dr. Thiel is delusional and Malm is a clown!

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

The following scripture was often quoted in the Philadelphia era under HWA as the great commission and purpose of “the Work”:

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).

In HWA’s own words available on You Tube, The Work is complete! No more final gun laps; no more final pushes; no more clarion calls.

The dumb sheep just don’t get it!

“…then shall the end come”. It could be next year or it could be 200 years from now. Nobody knows (except Ron Weinland of course, lol – I had to throw that in.)(Matt. 24:42).

It’s a mystery! You might even call it, “Mystery of the Ages!” or, at least "Mystery of 1934 to 1986")


Anonymous said...

But Richard, what about the sleazy ministurds who founded the UCG?

Didn't God WANT them to lie and deceive while they were secretly plotting their escape to become the "UCG Sleazechurch", so the "work of God" could continue, headed by mega-sleazebags who need their retirement plans?

Byker Bob said...

Because HWA's chief influence had been business, sales, advertising, and marketing, we find that many sales techniques had been used to create a need for his church, and to advance his questionable gospel of fear.

Nobody could argue that he didn't attempt to magnify all of the evils of modern society, and even to create some that actually do not exist, and then to propose his church as the total solution.

Generally, when you are attempting to foment some sort of revolution, or bring about personal change, you attempt to make the status quo appear as bad, and as unacceptable as possible. All you need do is accomplish this temporarily and superficially, just long enough to get a commitment.

He also did what all good sales professionals will do. He created and nurtured a sense of urgency, leading to the big close, and then further used it to resell his package to keep people engaged and committed. He took total control of the situation, the situation being in this case, peoples' lives, thoughts, futures, financial conditions, etc.

He and his minions trashed many people as part of this process. In fact, both the homeless and youth were groups which received blanket condemnation, and no attempt at understanding them.


Joe Moeller said...

Kudos to the kids.

However, this posting here is poor reporting.

There are ALWAYS exceptions to a group or any generalized statement. There are lots of young people around the world who have souls and behave as humans.

It is also true that the youth of today have very serious problems, and are seriously involved in illicit destructive activities at unparalleled rates. There is major dysfunction today, as a generality, in our youth. This cannot be overlooked by any objective observer.

It should also be noted that this program arose from a RELIGIOUS institution, St. Xavier High School, a Catholic school. They believe in teaching values and principles from the Bible via their own Catholic worldview. I give them credit for that. However, for all the "Bible Bashers" in our readership, here is an example of Christian charity by these youths.

The homeless that are being buried do not benefit from this, as afterall, they are already dead. No, it is the young men who benefit from the service of doing this, and I do appreciate that. Fine examples of young men.

The UCG does contribute to community causes, and nearly EVERY FOT site in the USA does fundraising and food drives to help local shelters. My own local congregation provides sheets and linens to local shelters as a community outreach during the regular year.

Lifenets concerns itself with the temporal needs of people around the world. This is not just for UCG folks either. When a heifer is given , the firstborn calf must be given to the general community, those not in the UCG.

Converted Christians do care about others. Many things are beyond our reach. At the very least, thoughtful prayer should always be at the forefront for the ills of this world. What little else we can do, after working 50 hours a week, and living life, we should do. Community efforts are being contributed by many people in the COG, although they are not trumpeting them.

I know people who are serving in hospices, meals on wheels, park cleanups and many other things. I contribute to my community as well, doing so humbly and quietly and not making a big show of it.

So easy to attack "The Church" here. Lets hear how some of you are serving your communities and fellow man. Give us some ideas to emulate.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Corky said...

Remember when Ronald Reagan put institutionalized people out on the street and closed the facilities? Yep, the mental hospitals and such like is what I'm talking about.

That's because people constantly gripe about all the money being spent on social welfare and entitlements (social security, veterans etc.) Even though the money being spent on all those things altogether amounts to a pittance, a very small sliver on a budget pie chart.

People just don't care - until and unless it becomes their turn to be destitute and/or maybe homeless.

Actually, I think you can tell the greatness of a country by how well it takes care of its people, especially the helpless and destitute.

Anonymous said...

Yes I can imagine it and it has happened many times but is not spoken of publicly. Many people do good things without fanfare.
Good people are to be found in the CoG and the best among them just do and don't talk it up.

American people as a whole give and do more charity and deeds than the rest of the world combined according to some research.