Saturday, August 31, 2013

USELESS COMMENTS ON CURRENT EVENTS, COG STYLE





USELESS COMMENTS ON CURRENT EVENTS, COG STYLE

For those with a WCG background or now in COG splinters, it's very familiar.
Commenting on current events and how it supposedly ties in with biblical prophecy.
HWA invented his own style, and men like Herman Hoeh and Gene Hogberg perfected it.  Somehow the WCG biblical prophecy experts had insight into any news item at any time.
Falling of the Berlin wall, what does it mean, in biblical terms?
Iraq?  Iran?  Egypt?  There's a biblical app for that.

But look back on any such commentary and it's very clear how pointless such commentary always is.  Can anyone point to any "biblical" commentary on world events that has ever proved to be useful in any way?  At the time it is delivered in such a manner that it must be the most important thing you could ever read or hear.  In reality, of course, it is so much light and sound with nothing behind the screen.

The style is this.  You start with supposedly piercing questions.  "What does [xxx] mean in terms of the prophecies for this region?"  "How will this turn out?".  In other words, you lure the reader into thinking you've actually got answers to such questions.

In reality, of course, the article or sermon is not going to lead anywhere of any utility to you or anyone else.  It doesn't say anything you don't already know if you've even casually read a newspaper or blog, doesn't provide any useful information, or god forbid, actually commit to any view that this current event has anything to do with a 2500 year old prophecy, but it *appears* to create such an aura so that you almost feel that that's what the commentary has done.

What a load of crap!  But it does seem to work for a lot of people...

Let's look at a recent example, from the UCG site, a "Beyond Today daily" short presentation entitled "Attack on Syria?"


Now, anyone who remotely follows news events is aware that Syria is currently an extremely troubled country and that the US is poised to embark on some sort of military action.  But the UCG must have some unique, thought-provoking, biblical perspective on it all, right?
Presenter Darris McNeely has a voice full of gravitas, and begins thusly:

[Darris McNeely] Other news today that probably, or more current is taking place in Syria in the Middle East as drumbeats begin to heighten and increase. Will the United States take some type of military action along with other nations? What will be the impact of that, especially in the aftermath of revelations that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people? Graphic scenes and pictures have come out about that in recent days, and it has created quite an uproar, and it's an awful atrocity that has taken place. And now seems to be pushing American and other western involvement into this. And what does that mean? What will happen?

You see what he's done?  There's nothing new, just questions that everybody who cares would have.  But delivered properly, it sounds as if his perspective is unique and monumental.  Sure, what does it all mean and what will happen?  Wow, I'm about to receive some important insight into all of this!  I'd better listen to this guy.

But you're being conned.  You're not going to get any insight at all.  In fact, you're not even going to get any strong opinions one way or the other.  But you're going to *feel* as if you did, if you allow the gravitas to work its magic on you.

Copresenter Steve Myers brings in the Old Testament, because there's nothing like the mystique of an ancient text to create the right atmosphere.  But of course he won't say the scripture is necessarily relevant in any way, but let's let him qualify that himself:

"Well, those weapons of mass destruction have gotten the world's attention, and the Bible does focus on Syria in prophecy. And I can't help but think of some of those prophecies about Damascus, about Syria. There's one in Isaiah chapter 17 that talks about the burden against Damascus. And it talks about the fact in verse 1 of chapter 17. "Behold Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap" (Isaiah 17:1). Now I'm not saying that that's what's going to happen right at this very instance, but I hope that you'll notice what's going on in the Mid-East more than just saying, "My gas prices have gone up." Because so much is going on. And could it be that we're heading in that direction where end-time Bible prophecy is going to be fulfilled? It will happen. Where exactly are we?"

The great thing about Middle Eastern current events is that most of the regions and cities there have existed for thousands of years and were also around at the time scribes wrote the books of the Bible.  So you can find a verse that mentions a modern-day city, and it sounds awesome!

Somethings happens in Damascus, and so Steve says "I can't help but think of some of those prophecies about Damascus".  And when something happens in Athens I can't help but think of Herodotus writing about how king Xerxes burnt it to the ground.
But what does that have to do with any insight into this current event?  Answer: nothing, and in fact Steve clearly realizes this, because after going out of his way to quote a scripture as if it has some crucial connection, he quickly adds: " Now I'm not saying that that's what's going to happen right at this very instance...", so I guess the only point was to create a wow factor that "I can quote a biblical verse that refers to the ancient city that was still called Damascus, just like this one!"  And let us again state the obvious: "Because so much is going on."  OMG, talk about ROTFLMAO! 

Once you know the method and style, you could write commentary like this with your eyes closed.

Steve continues, "Could it be we're heading in that direction?"  Now, naturally he doesn't have the foggiest clue, but he's just asking, and it sounds so awesome to ask such a profound question.  Give it a try, you can do it too!  (It must be spoken with gravitas of course, this is important).

"Is the Australian economy on the eve of collapsing?"
"Are the prophecies of Egypt as the king of the south referring to the Muslim Brotherhood?"
"Could it be that Miley Cyrus' career is over?"

Dunno, maybe so, maybe not, but let's pretend I have special vision on it, and after all let's just see what happens! 
Indeed, it's usually best to just see what happens.  Amazingly, you can do this by reading the news every day.
Darris McNeely actually endorses this line of action:

"And will it happen? We'll have to wait and see. It likely, something is going to take place. What will be the impact of that? We don't know. Everyone is waiting right now to see exactly what will take place."

The above quote was not edited, that's what he really said! :-)

So, in summary, it seems that it would have saved a lot of time and space and trouble, to reduce the "commentary" to it's essential element, which is this: 

"A lot of things are happening in the news these days. Let's keep reading the news to see how they all turn out!"

But that's what everyone does anyway, so exactly what did service did this commentary provide? 
It's amazing that anyone, in or out of UCG, or any COG, would watch or read such a commentary with the hope of gaining any insight or useful information of any kind.

And not to pick on UCG, it's just not all that different from any other COG discussion of "world news and its connection to prophecy", past, present or future.
Such a waste of words, setting the reader up with obvious questions, and leaving them hanging with no answers of course, because there are none at this time.

Now, there are some things the presenters could have actually said that might have been useful, but that would not have supported the atmosphere they wanted to create, which is that by reading ancient texts with a COG interpretation you somehow get some special insight into what's going on in the current human drama.

To do this, it's necessary to always speak generalities, as McNeely does at the end of the presentation which leaves you with this unbelievably priceless statement:

"It's an important area to watch, an important event and twist that is taking place even as we speak and take note of this at this time."

I can't imagine listening to this presentation and not being left with the gnawing feeling: "Ok, something's happening somewhere as usual, but what exactly was your point, anyway?"

Of course, these commentaries always have to speak in generalities, because there is no choice.  Scribes living in the bronze age never dreamed of what the world would be like in 2013, and couldn't have cared less anyway.  They had their own issues to deal with.  Trying to comment on current events "in the light of biblical prophecy" is such an empty, useless exercise, and provides the modern individual no helpful service whatsoever in trying to understand or even know what's currently going on in the world.

No matter how much serious gravitas you put on it.

Michael

17 comments:

Head Usher said...

Good post, Gary. This is all smoke and mirrors technique derived from cold reading (astrology, palm reading, tarot, etc.) That is exactly what this is.

Cold readers send out feelers..."I'm seeing...I'm seeing... the letter R...Does your name have the letter R in it anywhere?" (Like, OMFG, what are the chances of that!) And if it doesn't, no big whoop. Flush it and move on.

Cold readers give...and in the same breath contradict themselves and take it all back..."You're a very structured person, you like structure...but you are also very spontaneous..." Who on earth could object to such a description except for someone perhaps who scores very high on the asperger's spectrum?

I'm convinced that every time there's any kind of BIG news event such as a war or a terrorist act, or anything at all newsworthy, there's a category of xian preacher that rubs his hands together with glee, because he knows he just got a cash bonus direct from heaven. (HINT: HWA was solidly in that category!!!)

(Germany is winning) ---> HWA says, "Germany is the BEAST long prophesied in the bible!!!"
(Germany is losing) ---> HWA says, "Germany will rise AGAIN!!!" (still waiting...)

(Military action in the Middle East) ---> HWA wannabe says, "Ancient holy book says Damascus will be reduced to a ruinous heap!!! But just in case, don't be surprised if nothing happens this time...to find out what happens, keep watching the news!!!" (Thanks, tell me something I didn't know.)
(Damascus is not reduced to a ruinous heap) ---> HWA wannabe says, "chirp ... chirp ... chirp"

Why waste the airwaves stating what boils down to the obvious? Because when you do, people send money! Wasting people's time stating the obvious is how you cash in on tragedy by inferring you have access to information that other people don't through cold reading techniques.

Smoke and mirrors = CA$H. Ask anyone who dabbles in the "dark arts."

Anonymous said...

Now, Michael,

What you've written was an EXCELLENT commentary to expose "...so much light and sound with nothing behind the screen..."

John

DennisCDiehl said...

One of the great theological mistakes HWA and all others following who are stuck in Matthew 24 is reading the Bible as one would a newspaper or in this day and age, Internet provided world news.

It's just a mental habit hoping that something going on means Jesus is coming soon .

It was always interesting to me that the scripture actually says..."there shall be wars , rumors of wars....SEE THAT YE BE NOT TROUBLED." Yet troubled is what motivates membership.

The idea that the Gospel shall be preached to all the world being a better sign in our times is not so helpful either as hundreds of versions have circled the globe over the past 2000 years.

I believe the original statement was meant to be limited to the version being circulated by the "Matthew" community of believers back then when there weren't so many competing versions.

Fundamentalist views rarely have the element of critical thinking as a part of the mix

DennisCDiehl said...

In our day and age, it is not the Gospel going around the globe but convincing others which version is the true version. Thus all the COG emphasis on the "true", "real", "plain" , "hidden" "now revealed" "puzzles solved" and "codes" broken.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!!

Pardon me, but that map in the video is so ridiculous . . . .

Here comes a plea for bigger Fall Holy Day offerings so up-to-date graphic capability might be purchased . . . .

Michael said...

Dennis wrote:
"I believe the original statement was meant to be limited to the version being circulated by the "Matthew" community of believers back then"

And rather interesting that it says "and THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached unto all the world...." (same in the Greek), which would imply distinguishing from other gospels of the kingdom, as if the author of Matthew wanted to say "this is the one that will go to the world, not the others".

Douglas Becker said...

When I see prophecies in the light of today's world news, I can't help but think of Scriptures that say false prophets will be put to death.

Death.

Hello!

Death.

With any luck at all, these Yahoos of UCG (along with the others) will see Death, hopefully accompanied by molten lava in a Lake of Fire.

No fear?

Death.

Assistant Deacon said...

"...most of the regions and cities there have existed for thousands of years and were also around at the time scribes wrote the books of the Bible. So you can find a verse that mentions a modern-day city, and it sounds awesome!

Exactly!

Imagine if Isaiah had written, "In 2013, the great city of Detroit, her chariots broken, will lay waste in ruin."

Now that would be saying something for our time. It would also put all the prophecy speculators out of business.

Joe Moeller said...

The financial press and television is probably the worst about speculation and guessing that I know of.

Stumped in how to keep interest, viewers and advertising revenue up, they must keep the intrigue going on an almost minute by minute basis.

Truth be known, day by day market moves are largely random by their nature.

However, if the market is down, there will immediately be commentators who will tell you it was because of "mid east jitters" or "Fed minutes" or some obscure news release that caused the market to move.

Did anyone take a poll of investors? How do they know this? Truth is they just pull it out of their butts!

Confirmation bias is a common human trait. There are lots of unknowns in life, and the future is indeed a GREAT unknown. We really only know that death lies ahead for all of us, and this creates a great unease in us all, and the realization of a lack of control over nearly everything.

There is a market for those who can provide the illusion that there is some kind of "order" , control, and predictability. It fills the need to remove uncertainty, have the ability to manage destiny, and feel "safe" and assured.

This is all folly and NO ONE knows the future, religious person or not. As Christians, are surety is that there is an eternal "happy ending" out there someday. That is about all the info you get, and dont expect much more than that!

There is a peace that is found in embracing uncertainty, and learning to only live in the moment. Even Jesus said "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."

Luv,
Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Byker Bob said...

Armstrongism: Assigning a system of false significance to life by writing self and surrounding events into the Bible; keying members to regard this secret Gnosticism as "God's truth"; fomenting fear, keeping members on edge.

You know, there is a group of people we haven't covered here. That would be those in rcg who had what Davey would consider to be the right attitude. I speak of those who were excitedly looking forward to the "fulfillment" of Haggai, and are now disappointed that it must wait until next Elul. It is difficult to feel sorry for such folks. They willingly drank the Kool Aid.

As we are reminded by this post, all of the ACOGs indulge in the same type of behavior as does Pack. It becomes a matter of degree, and restraint or lack therof, with people such as Flurry, Weinland, and Pack being identified as near-Millerite extremists. They do clean it up and often make themselves sound eloquent, but basically they are giving voice to every ego driven imagination which passes through their minds, leaving their followers with no clue that what they are really witnessing is a bad case of spiritual Tourette's Syndrome.

BB

Steve said...

Well, Marlboro Man, what do YOU have to say?

Anonymous said...

'And not to pick on UCG, it's just not all that different from any other COG discussion of "world news and its connection to prophecy", past, present or future.'

While I know the topic of this post applies to all groups, please DO pick on UCG and the larger splinter groups like COGWA. In my direct experience over many years, the less outwardly crazy groups (Pack, Flurry, Weinland, Malm etc. being outwardly crazy) and the seemingly calmer, more mainstream,"normalized" corporate groups like UCG have the potential to wreak havoc on a greater number of lives. Their craziness is inwardly directed but just as dangerous, and they deserve to be pilloried and exposed. Good post, and bring down the big ones.

Anonymous said...

The UCG would have a better effect at being humane if the board room took down the huge portraits of Loma and Herbert that hang on the wall just behind the president's chair
myra

Anonymous said...


Did anyone take a poll of investors? How do they know this? Truth is they just pull it out of their butts!


Really Moeller? Have you ever worked in investment banking, or spent a single day on the trading floor of the NYSE? No?

Most of the readers on this comment board can see through your comment for what it really is: an attempt to justify the UCG's propaganda & marketing machine by implying it's ok to behave this way because others do it too.

Wrong answer.

And I suggest you go spend a few years working in IB before making assertions about an industry you clearly know nothing about.

Joe Moeller said...

Anonymous Above;

You speak too soon. I am actually an independent registered investment advisor, Series 65 licensed, and manage 10s of millions of dollars in client assets, in fee based management. Cattle futures, of course, are always watched carefully by me lol! I am indeed very qualified in my opinion made by me above about the financial press.

Ranching for me is a hobby business actually, barely profitable , built from earnings from my realtime profession. I have been on the exchange floor many, many times in my life, and go way back to the days of the Pacific Stock Exchange in the 1960s, when even as a 10 year old, I used to accompany my Dad on the floor often. Dealing in foreign currency, numismatics and stocks, econometric models and risk management have been my environment for nearly all my life.

I know many portfolio managers, mutual fund managers and floor specialists on an intimate close first name friendship basis, spanning almost 40+years, some of whom are managing in the billions of dollars.

Im not expecting an apology from you.

NOTE TO ALL: I am not the convenient whipping boy for the UCG. I attend the UCG, and like it just fine. Its a couple of hour thing a week, to see some folks, have a cookie and hopefully hear something positive. Real relationship to God is a private matter, and is a very personal one. Salvation is not found with any church, person, place or thing.

There are torts, and problems in the UCG. Every human organization has them. There are some nut jobs, egotists, freaks and the like, some few even in the ministry. To balance this statement out, there are many true saints, servants, and humble well balanced people, both in the membership and ministry alike as well.

Again, find me a perfect group of people, or church, and I will go there. It doesnt exist! All , and I mean ALL groups and organizations of people, whether they be in business, political, secular, or religious will have some degree of toxicity, will have sociopaths attempting to climb the ladder, and mentally unbalanced people. I am an observant person, and certainly no fool.

Those that post here on banned are certainly not the perfect crowd either, self included.

I attend the UCG because, IMHO, it is the least toxic organization, (and with several positive attributes as well) that is both Sabbatarian and Holy Day observant. These are sacred tenants to me, and as such, I find the UCG to be the best shoe fit for anyone, who like myself, wishes to observe those two tenants.

If anyone has issue with someone, then they should direct their wrath towards that person. I have done you no harm, respect all here on this forum and their life choices, and have even contacted a few here on it (even those who no longer believe in God, or the Sabbath etc) via the phone and have very pleasant chats.

Take your anger and send the UCG an email or write them a letter. Post your rantings and complaints if you like.

However, to attack me, as a surrogate for your frustrations and disappointments is grossly unfair, and a bit unbalanced. I have done you no harm, other than "existing". I hope that you think things thru, and deal with whatever anger issues that you have.

If you think that I have been immune to injustice, or bullcrap, or severe hurt in my COG experience (including the UCG) and with nut job ministers, you would be sorely wrong. There are many tears of pain, frustration, and disillusionment on my pillow.

I have decided to be a difference for equity, change, and progression, as a leading citizen in my faith community. This is a lot harder job than just taking shots at it from the outside.

Anyone who is passing thru Cody, is welcome for a beer on me, friend or foe.

All posted above in sincerity and truth,
Joe Moeller
Cody, WY




Steve said...

Spoken like a true Armstrong cult member!

Anonymous said...

Any mentally healthy person, after viewing that armstrongite UCG cult drivel video, would wisely RUN from the UCG, and NEVER support it in any way, shape or form!