Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dennis muses on....


The Fountain
Close your eyes...Plug your nose...Enjoy!

Sharing a quotable quote on the nature of the experience we have had with the Worldwide Church of God/Armstrongs and all the many splits and schisms that have risen from the ashes of it all.  It applies both to the specific cultic, for that is what it is, experience and can apply to a much larger experience for those who have gone on to question larger problems with religion.  I believe one can at least see that the experience of personal sincerity, growth and change whether chosen or inflicted is a common one. The questions, that one who thinks about such things, experiences with organized religion and personality cults raise are common for those that question it. the reasons people stay put and the rationale behind their choices are both predictable and  universal.

Some keep drinking from dirty fountains because it is what they have always done.  They are used to it and besides, they are heavily invested in that fountain.  They may have even helped dig the well, lay the pipe or chosen the design.  Since we have to take the good with the bad, the quality of the water is acceptable as long as it doesn't make me specifically ill.  I may feel badly drinking from it, but I'll never tell you because I probably just have an attitude problem anyway...

I hope you find the observations in the following to be familiar feelings and realities that have come from our common experiences with "The Church", and all it's current manifestations, good, bad and downright silly. It's a normal reaction that thinking and observant folk have as time passes  and  when one has experienced a less than satisfying church choice.  If it resonates with you, you're alive and well.  You are doing just fine.


"For a long time I was an ardent admirer of Dr. John Piper.  I remember a sermon of Dr. Piper's in which he described God as a flowing fountain of delight.  The Psalmist writes, 'Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him' Psalm 34:8  Piper said that we would praise a fountain, not by standing passively by, but by sticking our faces deep inside it to take it in its wonderful refreshment.  We would stand up and shout, 'This is the best water I've ever tasted; come and have some with me!'  He invited others to taste and see  God's goodness."

But what about those of us who have left the fountain with a horrible taste in our mouths?  We came to the fountain and drank as deeply as we could and, for a while, could not get enough of it.  We loved reading the Bible and being instructed by it.  We believed that it made us wiser than our counselors.  We made our bodies our slaves so that they would honor God.  We prayed without ceasing.  We sought first the Kingdom of God.  We confessed our sins and believed that God was faithful and just to forgive us our sins.  We preached 'the Word' in season and out.  We attempted to study to show ourselves approved.  We fed God's  sheep.

But then something happened.  The fountain became foul to us.  We tried to ignore the taste.  We went back to it again and again hoping something would change.  We opened the Bible and, instead of finding wisdom, we found violence and the justification of immoral acts.  We found anti-intellectualism and backward thinking.  We found oppression.  Our prayers returned to us void.  They bounced off the ceiling.  We prayed harder and felt dumber for it.  While we could still enjoy the fellowship of Christian people, we discovered what we liked about them had nothing to do with their Christianity but rather with their humanity.  We found that we simply liked the people for who they were, not because they believed something about religion.

We weren't trying to 'leave the faith.'  The faith was leaving us.  We tried to hold on to the fountain but something had changed.  It wasn't the fountain; it was our taste for it.  We realized that the fountain wasn't a being; it was a religion. It was just dogma.  It is like we had been drinking from it with our eyes closed and noses plugged.  Somehow, though, we opened our eyes and unplugged our noses and discovered we had been enjoying filth.  The fountain was a fountain of blood and other foul things.  We realized we had spent most of our lives consuming a vile concoction.  

We would have been happy to have simply left, but we couldn't help but want to pull others away from such a cesspool.  We wanted to help them open their eyes and see what we saw.  We wanted them to see the trouble the fountain was causing in the world.  Quickly, however, we ran into opposition. We found that those still slurping away at the fountain with eyes closed and noses plugged resisted.  They said that we were lying about the taste of the fountain or that we had never drunk from it in the first place.  We told them to open their eyes, but they responded that eyes cannot be trusted.  We described the filth to them, but even when they accepted that the fountain contained blood and other 'foul'things, they insisted those things were really good..."
Why I became an Atheist
John Loftus
page 35-36

30 comments:

Connie Schmidt said...

Dennis:

I thought you retired from Banned. Please explain your compulsion to keep coming back. Are you a prophet for atheism? Sort of an antimatter energy or black matter that must fill the universe?

In all kindness, I ask. You are driven to evangelism for atheism. What is your purpose and what do you think it will accomplish. If you are a nihilist then what difference does it matter what others believe. If there is no God, but it makes people happy or secure in believing in what you would call a "myth" then be a good libertarian and leave them alone.

Byker Bob said...

Recently, on some of the sites, we've seen some Armstrongite apologists attempts to make a case for the logic of accepting Armstrongism, and to try to demonstrate that the dirtiness of the fountain was an unfortunate illusion, only apparent to some few.

It is unknown whether this is the private effort of a few individuals, or an orchestrated outreach, but it would seem that someone is getting bolder. Armstrongites used to be forbidden to even lurk or read at "dissident" sites. Those who disobeyed their dictatorial leaders were about as welcome as a skunk at a perfume and cologne convention.

Who amongst us would not spend time and effort trying to help the people who had begun to realize the toxicity of the Armstrong faith, and who were looking anew for answers? The problem is that the aforementioned seem not to be experiencing that, but are bent on conducting discussions dedicated to drawing people back to the dirty old fountain. Entering into discussions with them makes about as much sense as arguing with a drunk or inviting Jehovah Witnesses into your home. There are times when a good, old fashioned ad hominem attack is not only appropriate, it is actually the best recourse!

Freedom of speech is a very important right. But, this right does not imply acceptance of disproven or toxic ideas, or even rational discussion of the patently ridiculous. If someone wishes to make themselves a shill for one of the ACOG groups or leaders, they should realize that some people will respond in exactly the same ways in which all of us would confront the individual and the dirty fountain for which they are shilling.

BB

Head Usher said...

Well, let me say, I enjoy reading Dennis' posts and if he wants to come out of retirement every now and again, that's fine by me.

Personally, I feel it's but a hop from concluding Armstrongism is false to concluding Christianity is false, and from there to concluding the rest of the religions to be unlikely to make good on their promises either.

John Loftus is, like me, a Christian who delved too deeply, only to find that a shallowness in understanding of Christianity is what permits it to persist into adulthood. He was going for a doctorate I think, and I but a rank amateur, never wanting a career in religion, but credentials notwithstanding, too deep is too deep.

And another thing, my understanding of Christianity now is much broader and deeper than it ever was when I was a believer. Nothing helps you understand your religion better than leaving it, taking off the blinders, and adopting an outsider's perspective on the whole thing. I don't even know if it's possible for an insider to ever really understand their religion.

Are you active on DC, Dennis?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another good and thoughtful blog entry, Dennis!

The fountain analogy reminds me of another analogy-
The "baby and the bathwater" analogy.
On another blog, someone stopped by to comment, and tell those who had left armstrongism to be careful not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater"!
I'm sure that most of us here have heard that gem before, along with the "I sense you are hurt, bitter, mad at god, blah blah blah" armchair diagnosis that often accompanies the "bathwater" warning.

If there ever was a baby in armstrongism's bathwater, it was a horrid little thing, akin to the evil Chuckie doll.

Corky said...

Connie,
Atheist and nihilist are not the same things - they can be, but they're not, that's why they are two different words.

Atheist means not-theist, it doesn't necessarily have to mean anything else. Personally, I would just prefer to be known as an un-believer rather than atheist because "atheist" and "atheism" implies a belief - which it's not but it can be and sometimes is when used as a label to identify an un-believer as someone who believes "God" doesn't exist.

I don't think I would put that label on Dennis, or any label for that matter. Just because he doesn't believe what he used to believe doesn't really deserve a label. Let's just say he doesn't believe what you do.

It's quite normal and natural to have others of "like mind" around you and that's why the preachers of unbelief do what they do - they want believers to see the light, just as believers want un-believers to see the light. It's not a deep mystery and it's not libertarianism either.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Glad to have another thoughtful writeup from you, Dennis.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis. Missed you man. I wonder if god has spoken out loud to RCG this spring, as DCP predicted. Guess not. Thanks for taking time.

Ed said...

Religion is an invention of men. I am an agnostic, even if you are a strong believer of the existence of a God why is it even necessary to belong to any religion? You can have a deep faith in God with-out religion. A woman I work with asked my what church I belong to. I told her I didn't belong to any church. She said," why?" I said exactly, "why?".

Ken said...

First of all, I agree with Connie. Please tell me what she said that was incorrect or improper. Dennis did say he was retiring and he is very much an apologist for atheism. (and Corky, your swipe was uncalled for...I think she knows the difference between atheism and nihilism).
It grieves me that Dennis has changed so much and tossed out God & the Bible because of the vicious self serving policies of Tkach & Co. And I was treated exactly the same way by Tkach & Co. when I was terminated from the Church.

Anonymous said...

Trolling again, huh Bob?

Frank said...

Thanks Dennis! You have a unique knack in saying the things I question. Hope you continue to pop back on every once in a while.

NO2HWA said...

Bitter Bob stops by here a lot.

DennisCDiehl said...

I thought the analogy and quote was something I wished to share. It seemed a good one concerning the WCG experience and why people both leave and also stay.

Connie and Ken, I feel I have done enough homework, for me, to draw my own conclusions about Biblical origins, history, errancy issues and politic. I'm no "evangelist for atheisim." You don't know me. I simply wanted to share an appropriate concept that might resonate with most.

Connie, I don't have a compulsion to keep coming back. Why do you keep coming back? Do you have a compulsion? I am interested in the topics presented here and have free access to the site to write anytime I wish. Perhaps you can write something to replace my writings that everyone here will appreciate and learn from?

DennisCDiehl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NO2HWA said...

I have always said I would allow people to send me things to post. Several have taken me up on it. As long as it is not one big slobber feast praising COG leaders I will post it. I will not post things though that justify abuse by certain COG leaders of their members. So submit away!

Anonymous said...

Whatever a person's objection to Dennis, it's about that person and not about Dennis. After enough time and brokenness, the lucky of us learn this truth. It's hard, but terribly liberating once grasped.

Dennis has helped a lot of people, including myself, not to favor atheism, but to understand a common experience as we came out of our former sect.

Thanks, Dennis. And hey, you know you never have to explain your compulsions to anyone. Being asked to do so is -- so non-libertarian. lol.

Connie Schmidt said...

Dennis and all:

Yes, I come back because it is a compulsion. It is like watching the series MAD MEN, in many ways. Sick, sad, human tragedy, yet a continuing unfolding of the bizaare and inane. Yet , I can't seem to wait for the next episode.

Same feelings apply here.

Anonymous said...

As I review some the posts and comments here I wonder how other people are affected. It is difficult to understand why those who seem to see everything from a negative perspective continue to clutter up their life by reviewing a continual flow of information regarding the things going on that corruptive and destructive.
Some may ask why I am still reading what is being presented. To be honest I check in occasionally because almost half of my life (42 years) was spent with WWCOG and I check a few related blogs to see if there any news of people I know. I rarely read much of what is posted unless there is a curiosity to see some of the content fits. Most of what I see here is compatible with the crazy world of today, so there are no surprises.
I thought it might be good to pass on some positive things that I have gathered over the years and have used to build what I believe is a positive wholesome life.

These are sayings that have posted in my office. One statement says: Clutter Kills! The advice is to “eliminate all that is unnecessary.” “Don’t complicate and clutter your life with hordes of possessions or meaningful relationships and tasks.”

Another is titled “Marvelous Mistakes” Yes, they (mistakes) can be (marvelous)! The advice is “Strive for excellence, not perfection. Use your mistakes as learning experiences. Never relive the past: keep looking forward and you’ll be moving in the right direction.

It may just be my perception, but it appears to me that there is a lot of looking back but very little looking forward, but who am I to know what other people think?
A. Boocher

UT, The Reigning Being of Being Banned by Banned by HWA said...

An unshakable monkey-on-my-back belief in a frivolously silly Jesus leads me to support Dennis' right to say whatever he pleases.

However, it's the flaring of my agnostic alter ego that makes me shout that a WCG minister who personally pissed in the fountain and then told us, "Mmm-mmm-mmmm, drink!" - should just permanently shut his public mud pie hole already.

However, Hallelujah Jesus; He stokes this bubbling party with a frosty round of redemption followed by a restoration chaser for all - even Dennis!

A dear lady I know was a veritable groupie of a certain, nameless, minister, until she saw how he fouled the water for many and poisoned the pool of his own family. A cross word about her former née idol never crossed her lips - neither his name did she speak.

She too believes in that frivolously forgiving Jesus so, I gather her refusal to speak that minister's name is not a grudge held against him but rather, a show of solidarity respect for his victims.

Tonight, I've had to raise more than a few glasses and drink, Mazel Tov, to the victims and the perps alike, from that spring of forgiveness; that fountain of Life.

old EXPCG hag said...

Well I suppose if the blog site belongs to Dennis, he should be able to post just about whatever he wants. It doesn't matter whatever he believes ,thinks, or says, this wouldn't sway me one bit from my beliefs based on what I have experienced in my life.

Besides, he comes up with some hilarious stuff.

"The Fountain"
Some keep drinking from dirty fountains because it is what they have always done. They are used to it and besides, they are heavily invested in that fountain. They may have even helped dig the well, lay the pipe or chosen the design. Since we have to take the good with the bad, the quality of the water is acceptable as long as it doesn't make me specifically ill. I may feel badly drinking from it, but I'll never tell you because I probably just have an attitude problem anyway...

This is so true!

Anonymous said...

I love you Dennis.

DennisCDiehl said...

ExPCG said:

Well I suppose if the blog site belongs to Dennis, he should be able to post just about whatever he wants."

Thanks Ex, I get this misperception often and again let me say that BannedHWA is the hard work of NO2HWA. He is the blog owner. NO2 have been gracious to me over the years as the only ex minister by name to write here of my experiences , perceptions and the journey it put me on in life.

I am merely an invited quest and have deeply appreciated it over the years as it has helped me process my own experiences and keep moving.

DennisCDiehl said...

PS

Thanks all and most all for your kind comments. I am pleased to be able to help along the way with the experience. That's all I ever wanted to do.

I'm still retired but occasionally my OCD (Old Church Dennis) bubbles up when something that might be generically helpful to most comes along. I'll behave and have other hopes for the future besides the past...

DennisCDiehl said...

PPS

Connie noted:

" Are you a prophet for atheism? Sort of an antimatter energy or black matter that must fill the universe? "

Great analogy! Well sorta...it makes me feel like a Darth Vader type to some.

What shows in the universe is but a small part of reality. The rest of the universe is far from empty, however. Dark matter accounts for 23.3 percent of the cosmos, and dark energy fills in 72.1 percent

Yes, to those who don't wish to see the obvious at times, fresh and honest perspectives on theology and religious experience are "dark" energy to them but en-lightened energy to others.

To those that get offended at the views and experiences of others, fresh and honest perspectives on theology and religious experiences are the dark matter that makes uncomfy, but to others the power that pushes the world of religion apart and opens up space between to breathe and think things through for their good.

I love cosmology. It gives literalist religion fits.

Ok, back to the future....

DennisCDiehl said...

Oh wait...oh my goodness! Someone loves me???? It's a miracle! No, can't be that. It's alcohol. May I suggest there be NO DRINKING prior to posting on BannedHWA?

:)

old EXPCG hag said...

Well I suppose if the blog site belongs to Dennis, he should be able to post just about whatever he wants."

Thanks Ex, I get this misperception often and again let me say that BannedHWA is the hard work of NO2HWA. He is the blog owner. NO2 have been gracious to me over the years as the only ex minister by name to write here of my experiences , perceptions and the journey it put me on in life.

HA!

Now I'm reallly confused. You sure this isn't a multiple personality thang?? LOL

Black Ops Mikey said...

The other (non Armstrongist) Sabbath keeping churches of God are sort of like Seth Rogan and his family in "Neighbors" after Zach Ephron moved in with his fraternity next door.

Too bad the movie didn't have the raw sewage spewing drinking fountain, although they had nearly everything else.

The Armstrongists make terrible religious neighbors.

Rated R: Not for everyone -- includes the movie and the Armstrongists.

Anonymous said...

Dennis's post and the comments remind me of a story that was in the news about 2 years ago.
Here's the jist of what was in the news-
* In Mumbai, water started dripping from a statue of Jesus.
* The Catholic priest and Catholic organizations there claimed it was miraculous.
* People flocked to the Jesus statue (Jesus was said to be "weeping"), and the people began collecting and consuming the "holy water" that was said to have the power to cure all ailments.
* A rationalist (invited by a national TV station) looked into it, and discovered the "holy water" was actually sewage water coming from a blocked sewage pipe in a wall adjacent the Jesus statue.
*The rationalist was promptly charged by the Catholic organizations with "deliberately hurting religious feelings" (a crime)
* The rationalist quickly fled to another country to avoid arrest and a possible 3 year prison sentence.
* The Catholic archbishop of Bombay said that if the rationalist apologized, he will see to it that the charges would be dropped.

I'd think those Christians would be grateful to the rationalist for pointing out that the believers were consuming sewage. But, no...... Belief often trumps rational explanations.
How dare anyone say anything that might challenge the "feel-good" wonderfulness of anyone's strongly held faith?

Anonymous said...

In reading this post it appears that there is an assumption that there is a fountain that human life should be drinking from that has been fouled by religious people, but there is nothing presented that reveal the how to determine when the fountain is pure and unpolluted.

How can we help people who are seeking unpolluted water know when they have found it?

Anonymous said...

Anon May 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM,

Your question seems to be one that Armstrongites often ask after realizing that Herbert W Armstrong was full of shit.

My advice is to simply do your best to rejoin the human race(much as you may hate that idea), and lose the idea that you have "special knowledge", as well as the idea that you are above others- in any way, shape or form.