Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dennis Muses on a Sunday Morning

Prairie Island nuclear security supervisor pulls Homer Simpson
1,  2,  3,  ____
Before pastoring in and for the Worldwide Church of God, I did not know what either depression or anxiety was.  When the Receivership drama hit in the late 70's, I believe that is where it began to present itself to me and any tendencies I may have had towards such episodes and reactions to life's circumstances.   The first medical experience I had with solving it ended up with my being told, "you'll be on these meds the rest of your life."   I have issues that need to be faced and resolved and when they get put in their proper perspective, I won't feel as I feel and won't be stuck.  That proved to be the truth and it did not come from thinking.  It was a gut reaction.

These are not easy topics to speak about.  Well they are if one is being generic and has no actual experience with it, but when it is personal, the first reaction is that others will think one is weak. But now I know how many human beings feel and struggle the same way.  Back then I did not. What good is an experience if you don't share the insights?   In religion and in the Church of God, you "lack faith" or need to get closer to God in some way if you suffer depression or anxiety.  Nonsense of course, but it is effective in promoting the guilt (I did a bad thing) and shame (I am a bad person) that often goes with the turf of religious practice.  Coping with change and events can be challenging with all the things that are at stake in this world. It's ok to need help.  It is a wise person in this day and age who has a personal counselor who actually knows how it all works. 

 My first conscious experience with this dual demon of depression and anxiety came in the late 70's when the WCG went into Receivership.  I knew in my soul when the Receivership hit that the Church and the Armstrongs were  to blame and deserved it.  I didn't want to believe it but in my gut, I knew it was true.  It was not an attack against religion.  It was not government persecuting a church for its beliefs.  It was no angry Satan attacking Herbert W Armstrong for preaching truth.  It was a legitimate concern government and those affected by the WCG and HWA had about the organization and what was going on with it.  It's when I went into my leave me alone shell and simple tried to be the best local pastor I could be.   I still believed the message.  It was the messengers I was having problems taking seriously

At any rate, quietly and insidiously it ate away at me.  It was the first time I wished I had made other choices but the die seemed to have been cast.  One thing lead to another and the many things I knew or heard behind the scenes began to take their toll.  Once transferred for the last time , it broke through and I ended up having to address the depression, which in hindsight was really my internalized and repressed anger with no place to go safely or effectively, had to be addressed. 

n the course of "treatment" I was asked to take a simple 18 question test.  No problem.  here is how it went.

1.  1, 2, 3 __________

2.  1a, 2b, 3c 4______

3.  .....and so on.

My first thoughts were they thought I was stupid or retarded.  My second thought was along the lines of wondering what the hell was going on and how did I get to this point.  Was basket weaving next?

Question 18 looked something like this.

18.  23k547bbl38r844pcy , 35u835hcj92r022 ecy, 15x586wwx99x558 mnw, ___________

I could see the answer in my mind.  But when I tried to write it down, I lost it.  It was the only one I missed.

When I went back for a "chat" with my counselor he told me I did very well.  I smiled because it was the first thing that felt good in a long time.  Then he cut me to the bone.  " is no great honor to be the most intelligent guy in a mental hospital."  (It was a Charter Facility)

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

I just stared at him. It was one of those moments where you know someone is right but you want them to say something more kind and helpful than that.  It was then I realized that lots of folk who struggle with such things are very intelligent.  It was the first time I realized it didn't matter if one used it badly or it simply caused one's head to spin with thoughts that lead to depression, which is the anger at the past unresolved or anxiety which seems all about future fears and concerns. 
Wooden Pallets | JP Pallets

We/I  had to do another little experiment in the program.  A standard wooden pallet was in the middle of the room.  There were about 10 of us and given the simple task of all getting on the pallet with no feet touching the floor.  Great!   Now I'm a complete idiot (You have to recall I grew up visiting a State Hospital every week where my brother, blind, deaf and speechless lived).   Now I was going to prove I was handicapped!   We did as instructed and the counselor said, "Ok , let's go back and talk about this."   Sure, fine.   I was not in a good mood.

I was Blind, now I See on Vimeo

The counselor asked one question of the group to consider.  "Tell me where you were on the pallet.  The center, the inside or the outside.   Got me!  I woke up a bit more forever.  I was on the outside with my arms out holding everyone on the pallet.  He asked me if I had the thought of stepping off the pallet so others had room?  Got me!  "yes."    He said we had to work on that but I got the point and it was a life lesson never to be forgotten. 

What's the point?  Going back to "It is no great honor being the most intelligent guy in a mental facility,"  I see the same thing going on with Dave Pack and his Restored Church of God.  I think you know I have little use for the one man show in church and religion.  It is too dangerous and to think one man would be allowed to filter my world of experience and thought , hopes and faith through his mind is obscene to me.  RCG members allow it all the time. It's why we write about thinking for one's self and not letting others filter your experience through  their own baggage or way of being and seeing.  

Dave Pack is an intelligent man in many ways but not theologically and I think most here know what I mean by that from previous comments of mine on the topic.  He, like most in the Church of God ministry, are mere Bible readers and commentators.  He just does it well.  Bob Thiel and Gerald Flurry do not do it all that well. That is not the same, however,  as being theologically trained or competent.   He is an excellent speaker and can present material very well.  Not to me personally of course, as his presentations are almost humorous to me knowing what he is actually doing or how he really does not understand the origins and intent of the original material he now presents, but that's a different topic. 

Dave seems both "intelligent" and clever.  Clever is the devious part of intelligence and not a good combo.  Clever always falls to reality and truth.  It serves a short term purpose but clever always ends up biting you in the ass. Clever is what Dave being forced to use now to keep his Haggai Prophecy alive and kicking.  Those outside the sphere of clever influence can see it clear as day. Those inside the circle tend to not see it and excuse it when they do.  You have to be good at that gut stirring denial in the Churches of God at times.  I was.

shit hits the fan photo: hitsthefan when_the_shit_hits_the_fan_321595.jpg

In some ways, I feel sorry for the man.  The excuse making, rewriting, editing and blame placing where it does not actually belong is a common approach those given to hyperbole and theological nonsense end up perfecting when the excrement hits the rotating device.  In religion you always get to say "God is revealing more,"  "Rejoice!  We have more time," or in Dave's case, "The Prophecy stands true.  It is the timing that "we" i.e. "he"  did not understand.   In my world we call that "Weinlanding."     You actually crash but you survive saying, "any landing you survive is a good landing."

"Apostle" Dave is intelligent.  He is clever.  He is persuasive sorta depending.  He is driven.  He reads well.  He can make up many points to be known.  He copies HWA very well.  I think he is sincere and really believes he is spoken of in scripture.   "Apostle" Dave Pack is the most clever and "intelligent" guy in the Wild World of God mental facility.
But let me pass a life lesson on to you Dave...
"It is no great honor to be the most intelligent guy in a mental health facility."
I'd also be curious to know where you'd end up on the pallet...  In the middle or on perimeter?  I doubt it would be anyplace in between. 


Douglas Becker said...

It is just too much for RCG members to pay to continue this lunacy.

Get real: Stop shelling out money to reward incompetence and insanity.

It is no great honor to pay for someone who is in an insane asylum he built himself when he's nothing to you, not a family member, colleague, associate, acquaintance, nothing, absolutely nothing to you and it's especially no great honor when this aggressive stranger is bankrupting you.

Anonymous said...

What good is being intelligent if your mind is closed? There are many forms of intelligence. Emotional, logical, spatial, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, analytical, creative, and practical. What type of intelligence does Pack have? Does intelligence guarantee success? I don't think so. What if you have one form of intelligence but are working in an area that requires a different form?

Douglas Becker said...

The worst part of Davey Pack and his ilk is that he does not care one whit about the damage he's doing -- he's absolutely brazen and isn't the least concerned about collateral damage he's done.

People need to stop supporting this worthless narcissist so he gets a real job or becomes homeless and starves to death.

Douglas Becker said...

Anonymous, Davey Pack is an evil genius without the genius part.

Sweetblood777 said...

I would say that the best word that describes Davey boy, is cunning. Also I would throw in devious, as he is extremely deceptive and always changing course.

Byker Bob said...

I've also recognized and addressed this dual mental disorder, although in my case, they were labeled depression and paranoia. A person entering Armstrongism is taken through a weird form of aversion therapy, one in which everything and everyone one thought one could rely upon is figuratively destroyed, to be replaced with "God's True Church". Forget about "unconverted" family as a nurturing support system, forget about education because "we'll tell you everything you need to know", forget about career and security, physical possessions such as homes (the Germans are going to destroy them soon), forget outside experts in their fields who might be of help because their professions were started by Nimrod and Semiramis, etc., etc. etc. Surely everyone gets the picture because we've been there and done that.

The paranoia comes in from the basic concept of a judgmental God, just waiting to pounce and punish for every little violation of legalism. When you believe that that is the character of God, rather than what Jesus taught in John 3:16, whether you are a minister, a member, or a parent, you will imitate it in your daily life. This learned constant fear of being swooped down upon does produce a life-long and often deep paranoia.

The problem becomes that these factors become deeply ingrained programming. The medical professionals whom we had been conditioned not to trust are not 100% effective in resolving them, nor is their medication or therapy. Believing that it was better to at least attempt to obtain help, rather than do nothing, I really went out on a limb, and underwent hypnotherapy in my early thirties. It did help, and it made a difference in my life. I still have my moments on occasion, but am now able to effect countermeasures.

By the way, we are not alone in this. Over the Labor Day weekend, I became curious as to the types of lives my best friends from various junctions might have lived. Without joining anything, or getting special software, I just picked individuals with unique and unusual last names. One of my best buddies during my senior year in high school was a Russian Jew, with an easy to trace last name. I'll call him Skip. Skip and I had a number of classes together, and we enjoyed cigarettes, so ended up furtively smoking in the boys room between classes. Basically, back in that day, it was a popular practice to cover up your intelligence by being hoody and cool.

First I sadly learned that Skip had passed away several years previously. I could also see that he had become an overachiever. But, at one junction in his life, according to his testimony before an FDA hearing, he revealed that he had gone through a 16 year period of intense depression which left him unable to work, withdrawn from his family, sleeping up to 18 hours per day, and being miserable during his few waking hours. Neither counselling, nor meds had been effective remedies. A helmet type device which sends electromagnetic pulses through the brain, a device for which he had agreed to clinical tests, and to which he testified, proved to be effective. The man was highly intelligent, was persistent in seeking an effective solution, and the good news is that his search was rewarded.

Truly, we are not alone. Skip was never a member of WCG, he just knew that I kept many of the same rituals with which he had grown up. It made for a good friendship. This depressive period had hit him later in life. The lesson from this is never to give up. People "in the world" (as we used to say) are often affected by the same conditions which we are. It's part of life. Our leadership isolating us prevented sharing, and solutions.


Byker Bob said...

It is entirely possible that Dave expected a different response from God. One like, "This is my beloved son, a son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

I can readily understand his disappointment and confusion regarding the fact that God did not place His witness behind him, but it's like I've been saying all along. You can't have a spiritual experience based on the physical legalism and weird theories of Armstrongism. Dave's entire approach was based on creating fear.


Joe Moeller said...

We have spoken here , rightfully so, about "narcissistic sociopaths" , but I think an analysis of those who follow them (like Pack/Flurry/Weinland) is in order too.

I believe that the "Stockholm Syndrome" applies here, especially in a situation where they have been totally debunked with a situation like totally failed prophecies, lifestyles, etc.

From Wikipedia:

Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.

These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

The FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.

Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”

One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be a threat.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Douglas Becker said...

No one is paying one bit of attention.

The main reason members stay is hubris.

Byker Bob said...

I've been reminiscing, and quite honestly, I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to have Jewish friends, and for a number of key reasons. One lesson is that the culture described in the Torah was not responsible for the toxicity, inner conflicts, and bitterness we experienced as the consequences of Armstrongism. My Jewish friends were happy in their culture, although they could have done without the antisemitism which occasionally presented itself in everyday life situations.

Starting in SEP, and later at Ambassador College, we were subjected to gruesome documentaries and depictions of the holocaust. At that time, I had no idea that there had been an earlier Armenian holocaust which Hitler had appropriated as his blueprint, but apparently both Jews and Armenians dealt with these in their aftermath by achieving prominence in power structures around the world, and exerting influence to ensure that such events would never again happen, either to them or anyone else. The spectre of a future holocaust, this time directed towards all of the English speaking peoples around the world was the primary hook in HWA's marketing plan, only unlike my Jewish friends, Armstrongites were programmed to believe that there was nothing to be done to prevent it because it was the prophesied will of God. Once again, the Bible was being made to say what it didn't say, courtesy of a ludicrous and unsupportable theory called British Israelism.

During my youth and early adulthood, there were still many people walking around with their death camp numbers tattooed on their wrists, and prominent
articles in the major media chronicled the capture of former SS officers and officials of the Third Reich. If there was such a thing as a holocaust denier, he or she would have been in constant peril. To us, such people were a reminder not of a never to be forgotten past, but of what we were told was yet to come.

As a group, we could have learned much from the Jewish people. However, Herbert W. Armstrong, in his own inimitable way, discredited and distorted the Jewish faith just as much as he did mainstream Christianity. So, alas, we dug no deeper.


Head Usher said...

Dave doesn't seem all that intelligent or clever to me. Energetic, driven, egotistical, arrogant, and domineering perhaps. Having observed HWA, Dave seems to me to be wholly derivative, and not original in any way, as you would expect of someone who was moving forward under some sort of divine guidance. If Dave really were receiving revelation from some sort of supernatural being, would he really be rehashing the past so completely? Being a copycat doesn't require a tremendous amount of intelligence. If anything, it takes a lot of chutzpah, daring people not to notice the blindingly obvious, simply because you're that convincing?

Personally, I have a hard time getting past how the sheer physicality of the man is circus-worthy. But I guess that's probably just me being shallow. Anyhow, wrap it all up into one oversized Pack-age, and I have a hard time understanding how he's managed to inspire as many people to follow him as he has done. Altogether he doesn't appear very seductive to me. On the contrary, he seems positively repellent. Never having met the man, I cannot say whether he is charismatic or not, I guess he must be. There isn't any other explanation I can come up with.

Anonymous said...

We know that the "Stockholm Syndrome"
also applies to the United Church of God's members, in a big way.
Remember, folks, the "genesis" of the UCG.

Head Usher said...


Could you elaborate a little more on the "pallet experiment"? I think I'm confused because the "Got me!" part makes it seem that you were not quite certain of the answers.

Did you and ~9 other people actually physically try to get on the pallet together? Or was it more of a thought experiment, where he was asking you where you envisioned you would end up if you actually did try to physically all get on the pallet together? And what did you "wake up" to a bit more? And what was the life lesson you learned from it? It sounds like the life lesson is, the only right answer is to break the rules, by getting off the pallet and touch the floor with your feet so others can fit on it. That sounds like the kind of lessons life is always trying to teach me!