Saturday, March 1, 2014

Herman Hoeh the True Successor of Herbert Armstrong?

Did you know that Herman Hoeh was a supposed "successor" to Herbert Armstrong?  There is an email making the rounds right now trumpeting a web site  that is dedicated to Herman Hoeh which makes that claim. It has been up for several years now so I am surprised they are just now finding out about it.  There were many that had hoped Hoeh's name was in the running to be HWA's successor.  Just like Ellis LaRavia's name, Hoeh's name was no where to be seen.

Hoeh has been loved and ridiculed over the decades.  Ridiculed for some of his flawed "history" and beloved as a supposed stalwart in the faith.

He caused a lot of angst in the WCG when he went along with the doctrinal changes the church was setting down in the 1990's.  He never spoke out against them and many report that he thought they were sorely needed.

Many think by that point that Hoeh's own theology had advanced far beyond the COG mindset.  He took absolutely no interest in any of the hundreds of splinter groups nor their leaders. Many of those groups were lead by men he had went all through college with and served with in the church for decades.  He knew their dark side and had no interest in following them.

The Los Angeles Thai Temple where Hoeh spent untold hours 
with his Buddhist friends 
and learned about their spirituality.

He easily embraced the Buddhist community and they looked with favor upon him as an enlightened man.  One thing about Hoeh, he was always at peace with his understanding of spirituality and how others found peace.  He was at peace with breaking bread with his Buddhist friends.  There is even a library in Thailand named after him.

The site is sponsored by Christian Commandment Keepers that is run by Mark Kaplan.  Kaplan was instrumental in trying to keep the law in force in the church during the doctrinal changes.

Their doctrinal statement is quit telling.  The law is spoken of but nothing about being a follower of Jesus.

Statement of Beliefs

  • Recognize the Bible as the source of doctrine.
  • Accept the authority of the Hebrew-speaking community to preserve the Old Testament, including the Sacred Calendar, and the Greek-speaking community to preserve the New Testament.
  • Celebrate God’s plan for humanity as emphasized by observance of the seventh day Sabbath and the annual Holy Days of the Bible.

Gavin Rumney has this up on his blog about them:  Journal charts UCG split

One other item I can't help but mention. A group that calls itself the Church of Christian Commandment Keepers has created a website called - wait for it - Herman is described there as "a spiritual successor to Herbert W. Armstrong," and I guess we're expected to believe that this little band are now Herman's spiritual successors. Sadly there are no downloads of the famous Compendium of World History, just a collection of Her-manic sermons.

Just think, if Hoeh had been the successor to HWA we might all be Buddhists by now.....certainly a more peaceful thought than the 700 some bickering and splinter COG's out there today.

Other articles about Herman Hoeh:

The Enigma of Herman Hoeh

The Closet Buddhist

Herman Hoeh Memorial Announcement


Anonymous said...

I used to have three sets of the compendium. They were burned in a large bonfire along with thousands of other COG literature, stretching back to the late 1930's.

Byker Bob said...

When I think of Herman Hoeh, generally, I lump him in with that group of eccentric educators that always made high school and college more challenging and enjoyable. There needed to be a certain indefinable quality to the eccentricity, too. Rod Meredith was also eccentric, but there was a difference with Dr. Hoeh; it was not what I would call gratuitous eccentricity. Oddly enough, in my business life, I've collected a number of eccentric individuals as customers and associates, so am even now surrounded by such types on a daily basis.

During my freshman year at Embarrassing College, an announcement was made during services requesting volunteers to take down the tables and chairs on the tennis courts after the final sabbath of the D.o.U.B. I knew enough about ministerial elitism by that time to realize that it was most unusual for Dr. Hoeh to show up as one of the volunteers, in the same spirit of humility that the other volunteers seemed to have. When I shared my amazement with my dorm mates upon completion, one of the upper classmmen explained that this was a regular habit pattern of Dr. Hoeh's.

There is an enormous enigma, though, surrounding his research. Considering his formidable intellect, it would be easy to believe that his knowledge on any given topic surpassed what was contained in the final digest of materials which he prepared for HWA's consumption and distribution. Various people dealt with mandated conclusions in diverse ways. Ernest Martin, another acknowledged scholar, at some point began sharing all of what he knew regardless of the consequences and wrath from HWA. I believe Anthony Buzzard took this path as well. I've often wondered what their inner struggles might have been like. There was a price tag to be dealt with regardless of approach.

Doc Hoeh, at one point, shed his college lease car, moved out of his ministerial home, and if the stories are true, moved to a property in La Canada where he kept farm animals. He and his family became naturalists. This was apparently their Walden Pond. He was frequently seen by students and employees, sitting on benches, waiting for the bus. If you look at the portrait Gary has posted, it is obvious that the man could have used some dental work at that time.

I've always wondered about the source for HWA's gospel of the strong hand. Since virtually everything else HWA taught was actually recycled from assorted heretics, I'm wondering if this was one school of thought which had been borrowed from Asian (as opposed to Cauc-Asian) sources. It may be an indicator of the subtle influences of Herman Hoeh, and an indicator of what might have been.


Anonymous said...

The enduring memory regarding Herman Hoeh is this: if you chanced to be where they had the man as a guest speaker, you ended up with, perhaps, 3x the notes you took from any other sermon . . . and VERY little actual comprehension of any of it.

What responses to hearing him? Some, accepting the "scholar" title at its most pretentious (and wanting, as some always did, to impress those around themselves with their 'righteousness') would proclaim that they'd "really have to SPEND TIME reviewing their notes." One would NEVER admit to being COMPLETELY bewildered by it all. Or to being certain that what he talked about really had nothing to do with you as an individual. OR, to just throwing the notes away because they were useless.

Occasions I've watched Dud Meredith on TV, I can't help imagining him saying, "And I don't know why there aren't MORE of you people following me! I'm one of the original pupils, after all!" Hoeh's appeal surely lies, in part, in not being anything like his classmate.

DennisCDiehl said...

I think HH did embrace the Buddhist way of being and thinking. Non-attachment, non-grasping and acceptance of what is and actually living in the only moment we actually have, NOW, just works better.

Dr H personified,
"When walking, just walk
When sitting, just sit
Above all...don't wobble."

I would be 1000x more comfortable in a buddhist temple than an evangelically fundamentalist church. In another posting where it speaks of UCG going to Ken Ham's "Creation Museum" speaks volumes about UCG not growing in any intellectual or actual truth. At least Dr H outgrew what no longer fit or was true. It was his nature to just be and live a simple life leaving a small footprint on the planet.

Benjamin Dickmann said...

Reading now about Hoeh, it reminds me of meeting those certain members and ministers who were in the church(RCG in my case) that clearly were not seeking promotion and adulation from the big wigs, but really trying to love their neighbor and to live and promote a peaceful life. I gravitated toward these people at the time. It felt like it was a survival mechanism to to cope from such a demanding lifestyle. If some of the rumors I've read are true, some of those individuals I gravitated towards while working at RCG Headquarters have left.

Who knows what would have happened if Hoeh became the successor to HWA? Perhaps he would have been the spiritual atom bomb that would have decimated the cult. But I'm sure that would have given people like Dave Pack more of a reason to warn the congregations of apostasy, in a frenzy of fear, in order to scare and sweep away members

Anonymous said...

Herman Hoeh was an evil hypocrite. He stayed with WCG for his own pension but didn't retract his fake histories publicly. So he led the rest of us to the slaughter while he lived off our corpses. He's a cannibal like the rest of them who make a living off the deaths of others.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Herman Hoeh baptized me. We were always friends, even after i went my own way. I always regarded him as trying to be humble and as sincere as anyone in a position like his could be. He tried to avoid putting on airs. I think he compromised alot and was sort of the Molotov of WCG, able to skillfully avoid all the purges and remain in a high position when others lost their heads in more ways than one. I'm content to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his personal character which I feel was always well-meaning as he interpreted it.

Anonymous said...

I reread the Compendium recently and was quite struck by how poorly researched it was. Now mind you, giving Hoeh the best possible doubt, he was working from what sources were available to him, and clearly many of those were badly out of date even then. But geesh, if that was a model for WCG "research", we really were living in the Stone Age.

Head Usher said...

Mark Kaplan's Jewishness means I'm not surprised he hasn't got much to say about Jesus. In practice, Kaplan probably doesn't have much use for a Jesus. I can't imagine why someone like Kaplan would convert to Armstrongism. Judaism is a perfectly good religion, right? What does Armstrongism offer that Judaism doesn't?

I knew Dr. Hoeh pretty well before and during the changes. My rationalization of him was that, regardless of how eccentric he might have been, there was a very fundamental way in which he was not at all eccentric: he was a company man. He followed instructions. He did what he was told. He knew which side his bread was buttered on. I say this because of how he dealt with the changes. I think he dealt with that challenge the same way he'd dealt with every challenge that had been put to him: through conformity. Perhaps chameleonism was his true talent in life. And it wasn't that he was pretending, surely he was, but also, it's as if the very core of the man was the philosopher's stone. If he was commissioned to be gold, he would be gold, right to the core. If he was commissioned to be lead, he was lead, right to the core.

Usually eccentricity is political death. However, he came along at just the right time such that it wasn't a barrier for him. He said that if he had come along 10 years later, he'd have been a nobody and would have gotten zero respect. But he wound up in a sweet spot, and I think the respect he did get was somewhat addictive for him. I don't think he understood why others gave him so much respect. I don't think he thought he deserved it. I don't think he thought as much of himself as many others did. But they did, and they did so very consistently and since it was not in his best interests to burst their bubbles he just went with it. All he had to do was keep his mouth shut and his cards close to the vest. You could say he was milking it.

In terms of how smart he may have been, I don't think he thought he was as smart as everyone gave him credit for. He was intellectual. He was a philosopher. That was his style and mode of being. That was how his brain worked. He used big words. His sermons were notoriously difficult for the average person to understand. But having an intellectual style is not necessarily an indicator of intelligence. When he put together the compendium, I think he was giving his boss the research he was commissioned to produce. If he was being paid, he was bought, body and soul. It's a funny sort of integrity. It's not a personal sort of integrity, it's a commercial, institutional sort of integrity.

I cut off all contact with him after the changes because I concluded that there was something very wrong with him. I think he will always be something of an enigma to those who knew him. But to those who did, in the moment, he was very generous with his time and his money. Over longer time frames, it's harder to see his actions in so favorable a light.

I leave it up to you to judge whether he was evil or astute. I think it was a little of both.

But HWA's successor? Not a chance.

Byker Bob said...

As a young boy, watching HWA from some of the seats in the front rows in the big tabernacle, I was shocked to see that he actually jumped as he emphasized points in his sermon. Even then, we were also conscious of the fact that the man could become very angry.

One would think that a successor to HWA would need to have a similar personality. Dr. Hoeh's style was too laid back. He was too logical, and too even-tempered. GTA's personality was much better suited to this task, and once he bombed out, the future of the empire was dubious at best.


Glenn said...

My friend and fellow AC student Eugene Taber (Captain Ernie) once said in reference to Herman Hoeh, "Considered individually, I understand every word Dr. Hoeh says. When he puts all the words together into sentences I have no idea what the man is talking about."

Glenn Parker

Anonymous said...

I remember him during Friday night Bible studies in the gymnasium, 71-73. Just because he was not always understandable doesn't mean that he was brilliant. He probably didn't have the intellectual skills, the training to be a great scholar. There was quite a bit of sloppy research. Many minds were made up based on the indoctrination by the leadership, student did "research" for speeches which was little more than hunting for outdated facts and quotes to support their views. Critical thinking skills were not taught. If you had any, you couldn't use them. Confirmation bias was everywhere. What were most valued? Conformity and above all, loyalty, were key traits for anyone in leadership. Why could a few get away with being different? Perhaps because they had dirt on someone else.

Anonymous said...

Now's the time to have some big ideas
Now's the time to make some firm decisions
We saw the Buddha in a bar down south
Talking politics and nuclear fission
We see him and he's all washed up
Moving on into the body of a beetle
Getting ready for a long long crawl
He ain't nothing - he ain't nothing at all...

We're on the road and we're gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn't get away
We're on the road and we're gunning for the Buddha
It would take one shot - to blow him away...

Death and Money make their point once more
In the shape of Philosophical assassins
Have the courage of the here and now
Don't take nothing from these ½-baked buddhas
When you think you got it paid in full
You got nothing - you got nothing at all...

We're on the road and we're gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn't get away
We're on the road and we're gunning for the Buddha
It would take one shot...

Oh... we're gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn't get away
We're on the road and we're gunning for the Buddha
Saying something, saying something unsafe
We're on the road
Oh... we're gunning for the Buddha
(Yeah, Yeah)
We're on the road
You know we're gunning for the Buddha

(minushorny)old EXPCGhag said...

Nice smile...NOT!

You see, this is what you get when you are not allowed to go to a doctor or >dentist< because you were a member of HWA's Worldwide Church of god.

Anonymous said...

Hoeh was just as evil as Herbie and Meredith. People should not be giving him a pass. It's terrible.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Hermon Hoeh gave sermons in which he would introduce multiple parallel threads of thought and then tied them up neatly at the end of the sermon. You had to have a good memory to hold all the threads and it wouldn't hurt to have high structural visualization to process the threads in three or four dimensions simultaneously. Anyone short of those abilities would be hopelessly lost.

After the death of Herbert Armstrong, he began to be quite eccentric and the last sermon I heard him give at the Feast of Tabernacles in Eugene, Oregon about 75 year economic cycles was clearly wrong -- he had, at that point, lost whatever ability he had for presentation and was eccentric to the point of being demented.

Perhaps it was because of his addiction to kiddie porn, documented in various ways and reports of his visits to Thailand for less than honorable activities which gave rise to his mental deterioration. It is doubtful, based on what was in his volumes of the Compendium that anyone could trust what he said, especially in his later years.

He was a corporate shill of the Church Corporate -- the sort of corporate executive I've experienced in fortune 500 companies -- the very picture of Robert Jackall's Moral Mazes -- to "invent" a rationalization using historical tools to reinvent history for the benefit of those above him in the corporation.

In short, Herman Hoeh was utterly useless as a resource for anyone seeking the truth, and, perhaps more important, would have failed miserably as the General to lead the WCG, since he needed marching orders from someone above him to produce product.

Pleasant but useless.

Joe Moeller said...

I found Hoeh to be kind of weird, and spaced out.

In the original HWA autobiography (that ran serially in the Plain Truth starting in the 1950s), Hoeh was spoken of as being influenced by an early AC woman instructor, not in the church, who was from India. Apparently , HWA was concerned that this woman was leading Hoeh into demonism, and quietly dismissed her once her employment contract was done.

I heard Hoeh speak many times over the years and conversed with him at times as well. I always thought that he overly pronounced words, with a style that sort of reminded me of Rod Serling of the "Twilight Zone".

One sermon that I heard at the Lake of the Ozarks FOT in 1979 was quite scary. It has been noted by others, and it involved Hoeh having a demon possessed man visit him, and Hoeh driving him to a park to "interview him". Hoeh shared with the several thousand attendees the insights into the motivations and philosophies of the demon world, much to the shocked and disturbed audience.

Hoeh was known for some really bizarre "hippie-ish" kind of behaviors , like having his wife breast feed the kids until a very advanced age, like 5 or so years old, and for having a penchant for photography of people in the nude.

Hoeh did not seem to be turned on by the epicurian lifestyle that many in the WCG leadership seemed to crave.

In 1995, he told me that the stock market was soon to crash, and that everyone would soon be shopping for clothes at the Salvation Army. Of course, this was a sure fire sign that the Stock Market would go on one of its biggest "bull runs" in history!

I know that Hoeh served crippled old men, helping them to bathe and tending to their needs, and was considerate of the down and out, and the little guy.

I know that towards the end, he commented on his "Compendium of World History" as bunk. He was an amateur archaeologist and also came out with the idea of pre-Adamic "hominoids" as a virtual fact that we would need to deal with. His view was they were some type of functional human but without the "spirit in man" , perhaps some type of test model or trial run in the primordial world.

All in all, Hoeh was out of the box, and definitely NOT a "yellow pencil". I believe he survived in the WCG same way a "court jester" survived in a despot King's court. Able to say things that were not PC, but if they stung too much, or were just not acceptable, it could be dismissed as just inanity from the Jester, with eyes rolled and a nervous laugh.

Definitely my vote for "most curious" of the WCG crew.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY
(2014 UCG Council - Write In Candidate)

Joe Moeller said...

(From the original text in the Plain Truth July 1963 installment of the Autobiography of HWA. This is edited out in all future hardbound copies of the Autobiography including the 1967 and 1986 editions)

"There was a woman professor of English….I did not know when I employed her that she was filled and saturated with Hindu philosophies, occultism and Eastern beliefs.

She highly respected insects… Soon I found our English professor was introducing all kinds of Hindu or Indian expressions and philosophies into her teaching.

Now it so happened that the 18 year old Herman Hoeh had begun prior to coming to (Ambassador) college to delve into occultism. It had peaked his curiosity. …This interest in occultism disturbed me greatly….

Along about March, Mr. Hoeh and Mr. Cole came to me together about this instructor. Mr. Hoeh reported to me that she told she was “sent” to Ambassador College by “invisible forces of the East” for the purpose of destroying the College before it could get fairly started…. So this was one of the early oppositions from within , at the outset of the College. "

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Joe Moeller said...

From the original "Ambassador Report"...

For over a decade now, Herman Hoeh has frequently told church members about a 1970sencounter he had with a supposedly demon-possessed Irishman who came to visit him.

As the story goes, a red-haired, glassy-eyed Irishman simply appeared at Hoeh's office one day andrequested to talk to him. Hoeh allowed the man to sit across from him at his desk and theyconversed for a while.

Hoeh did not suspect anything unusual until the guest leaned forwardand quietly asked if Hoeh could get God to see things from "his" perspective - a perspectivehe quietly called "the way of competition." Hoeh immediately concluded that the man waspossessed by the Devil. So he answered the question by saying, "That's simple. Just repent."But was Hoeh concerned about who was communicating with him? Not at all.

As he tells it,he was as ecstatic as a prison psychiatrist who discovers that he has encountered a truemultiple personality. So, he wondered, how could he capitalize on the opportunity?

Realizing that openly consorting with a demon-possessed man might have given the appearance of evil to his colleagues at church headquarters, Hoeh decided to drive the man to a secluded location for further discussions. How much each revealed to the other is not clear. But the often-toldstory does raise some interesting questions:

(1)Jesus was able to discern demon-possessed persons immediately. Why was Hoeh able toperceive the problem only after a lengthy discussion? (2) Paul warned in his writings aboutthe dangers of receiving any messages from demons.

Why did Hoeh not heed Paul's warningonce he was certain he was talking to a demon, if not the Devil himself, as he claims? (3) TheBible warns that demons are "lying spirits." If so, why did Hoeh want to have discourse withthe visitor? Finally, (4) why didn't evangelist Hoeh follow the New Testament example andsimply cast out the demon?

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Byker Bob said...

What was he doing with the economic cycles, Douglas? Lengthening and distorting the research of Nikolai Kondratiev so the cycles could be adapted to WCG failed prophecy?


Joe Moeller said...

A point of view of Hoeh from someone who knew him well, and addresses many rumors about him with balance...

(copy and paste into browser)

Jor Moeller
Cody, WY

Anonymous said...

Origin of Nations is run by Craig White. This guy is NOT balanced in anyway. He is deeply wrapped up in the cultish beliefs and practices of Armstrongism. Worse yet is his pandering to the MYTH of British Israelism. If you are a New Covenant follower of Jesus then the BI bullshit is just that, bullshit! There is neither Greek nor Jew, male of female, nationality over nationality, nothing....nada....a stupid useless false belief being fostered off as truth.

Joe Moeller said...

Anon above:

Robert McDonald, who was a close friend to Hoeh is who is primarily quoted at the link.

I know Robert, and he cannot be referred to as a "BI" nut. White is indeed a very enthusiastic BI supporter and promoter, but life is complex, and this does not necessarily diminish his observations of Hoeh as he witnessed them.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Byker Bob said...

This has become a topic with no possible resolution. All any of us have from Herman Hoeh is a few Kodak moments. Not even his wife and children were with him every moment of his life, meaning that like anyone else, he could have had secrets, or wysiwyg. Additional first person testimony just seems to provide more confusing snapshots, and apparently there were fundamental changes at various points in his life.

He cut an impressive figure, or various people would not be wishing that Dr. Hoeh validated their particular viewpoints or agendas. He, himself, seems to have remained aloof or unclear on many matters, suggesting a repect for the sanctity of personally held beliefs.

If there is any box in which we could place him, it is a very unique one of his own making. Most of the others in the movement have made themselves much more easily categorized. He may have been an extremely complex individual, or perhaps he deliberately crafted his public self into an unfathomable enigma to protect a modicum of privacy while having to function as a public figure.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Hoeh survived by having dirt on HWA. The top people at HQ must have known he was a sex pervert.

Can you say "blackmail"?

It sort-of reminds me of Israel's Sampson Option: their threat to nuke everyone in Europe and the Middle East if they don't get their way. The ultimate blackmail.

Assistant Deacon said...

As Hank Kingsley might have said, "Hoeh now!"

Anonymous said...

LOL, when I saw the OP pic of Herman Hoeh with his 'groundhog-like' front teeth, I wondered if he saw his shadow when he emerged from his den -- so we'll know if Jesus will come early or if we have to wait thru more 19-year time cycles!

But seriously...

The thing about "being at peace with one's spiritual beliefs", is that the God-haunted are often at peace with their spiritual beliefs no matter how nutty they are.
And, Hoeh surely mutually brown-nosed with HWA, and he came up with a plethora of nutty beliefs which HWA espoused and made money off of.
I'm glad Hoeh was at peace with his Buddhist friends, though, since that's a more of sane place than most of Christianity (especially HWA's version) is.

So, there's been an Armstrongist spit that considers Hoeh to be the successor to Herb? I'm not surprised!
Possible booklet titles-
* My Way or the Hoeh-Way?
* Hoeh-Diddle-Diddle, Let Herb Play your Fiddle
* In Bed With Herman's Head

Allen C. Dexter said...

In the final analysis, it really doesn't matter what any of us think of Herman Hoeh. He was different (odd?) and I personally think he was well-meaning even though looking out for his own interests which I can't blame him for since so much of his life had been invested in the cult. He would have been more helpless than I ever was. I can't picture him cleaning and installing carpets. He certainly couldn't return to the chicken farm without a lot of money to invest. Like most agriculture, that is mostly now family and ommercial corporations.

I'm not going to worry about it. He's dead and gone, and in a few generations, even his decendants will remember him hazily, which is the fate of nearly everyone.