Monday, August 11, 2014

One Man's Journey: Trying To Find A Place In A "Culture" After Leaving Armstrongism

I was sent a link to this blog this morning by a reader here.  The blog, Washed in Tears, is about one man's journey of life in Armstrongism, leaving it, going back to to it and then leaving again because he had too questions that never got answered (thanks to Borg and Spong.)  He's been on a quest to find a "culture," a place where he fits in, like most of us thought we did when we were wrapped up in the Armstrongism.  It was our culture, our identity.  When that was ripped away or we walked away it was hard to find an identity that fit.

And I’ve come to realize that I have spent the last 28 or so years trying desperately to find a culture – any culture whatsoever – that I can claim and fit into and call my own.  A culture, and a family.
And today is the day it finally hit that I will not.  The culture I was raised in was far too penetrated, far too influential, far too ingrained into every aspect of my life.  When I was cast adrift out of the culture and the family – at around nine – all I had left were memories of what was, memories of what were ultimately not horrible experiences, and memories of that which never would be again.  First it was the disintegration of the family, and then, years later, it was the disintegration of the church.

And now, I’m nearly 39 years old, and I come to realize that I’m no closer to finding that kind of community and acceptance – the kind I had when I was very little – than I was all that many years ago.  I’ve come to realize that I’m still just as alone, just as much of an island, as I always have been.  Still just as much of a social recluse, a homeless man in every way but literally, a survivor and nothing more.
And as I try to work through Christianity, I find myself saying that I have an identity – of some type or other – with God.  Great.  I wish it was enough, but it’s not.  If it was enough, then why would I even exist on this realm in the first place?   It’s not enough.  The body of Christ still sees me as an interloper, and frankly, I’m not sure I think too highly of them either.  I ask too many questions, I don’t join the culture.

I don’t join the culture because





Byker Bob said...

This is interesting. The question becomes, is fitting into some "culture" necessary or even beneficial to leading a happy or productive life? Apparently so, for certain personality types. Personally, I've found it best to be somewhat chameleon-like; in other words, being able to freely move in and out of numerous different cultures without sacrificing my basic values, and without drinking any one culture's Kool Aid. That way, nobody "owns" you. Rugged individualism, after all, is one of the foundations that our nation was built upon.

By the way, individualism is nothing new for me. I never really fit into our local congregations, SEP, or Ambassador College, at least not to the extent that this culture-seeking guy apparently did. On the other hand, my parents eased into the WCG culture as if it were a suit of clothes, custom tailored specifically for them. How they found it to be particularly nurturing is far beyond me, but they've now amassed a track record of 57 years without any scuffles, real crises in faith, or disciplinary action. They never even blinked at 1975, are literally incapable of believing HWA could even think of incest, and wouldn't ever question such things as British Israelism or Gap Theory Creation. Since no intelligent conversation is even remotely possible during visits, I've generally regressed to the role of jokester, or clown, the same role that got me through two years at AC.


James said...

Byker Bob,

Most excellent explanation and right on. The author of that article that is searching is close to figuring out that the culture he is looking for doesn't exist. It is a pipe dream.

Connie Schmidt said...


1. Everything changes - nothing last forever.
Everything ends, every beginning is the start of an end. Relationships end, people die. Seasons turn, things change. Get used to it. Learn to let go gracefully, change and grow yourself.

2. Things do not always go according to plan
The best laid plans often go astray. No plan survives contact with reality. Adapt, improvise, flex, adjust your sails, innovate. Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out. Plans are useless but planning is invaluable.

3. Life is not always fair
Some serious wrongs cry out to be righted but many more are best dealt with by moving on and not getting ensnared in a negative energy cycle.

4. Pain is part of life
There is a cost to everything and suffering may be part of that cost. Pain is not necessarily punishment and pleasure is not necessarily a reward. Pain can be a source of tremendous personal growth. But there is no need to seek out pain to speed your growth. Life will send you your proper measure!

5. People are not loving and loyal all the time
We are social, gregarious creatures. We depend on each other. But people are human and inevitably let us down. Our work as healthy adults is to feel this fear of betrayal and abandonment and deal with it, embrace it, learn from it, grow beyond it, NOT run from the fear. Running only strengthens fear.

Anonymous said...

I do believe this man's search for a culture is somewhat of a romantic delusion. I would put it on the level of my own desire as a teenaged girl to find a soul mate and a prince charming who would love me more that anything in the world and we would be married and have babies etc.etc. Later I found out that this was surely a fantasy and one which I myself probably wouldn't have been much good at either.

Such belonging and 'loving' can become suffocating and denying of freedom. There are some cultures where the extended family is everything, but then they get to pick and approve your mate and control much of your life too.

Now I am an adult I value my freedom and independence above all, and I am sure the prince charming wouldn't have been perfect and might have turned into a mean bastard with control issues.

The older I get the more I find I am not willing to give up my own ideas. To fit into a loving culture a person has to either strive for leadership or be a happy supporter and follower. It seems I am not so good at either but value my own opinions and freedom too much.

There are lots of groups to join though if a person likes group living, things like living in a monastery or commune or even a housing co-op. Then there are people who like to hike, people who like to kayak, gays, people with fetishes, vegans, gun enthusiasts, groups to support sufferers from every illness imaginable, most of these having internet sites where they can be contacted. Then there are groups for drug addicts and alcoholics and depressed people and I guess also churches to fulfil every fantasy of the after life for people who need that too.

Anonymous said...

I am the person who wrote the article. First off, thank you for linking to me - coupled with a friend of mine who likes to binge-read the blog, I had probably the best day for views I've ever had. Not that it matters, I don't write for that, but I like milestones and numbers, so that's cool.

All that said, I don't think the person who wrote this article nor the commenters know exactly what I was trying to get across. I think you got *some* of it, yes, but I wrote that post when I was having a very specific thing that I was going through. Namely, I was remembering and processing some very good memories of the feast of tabernacles, and grieving the fact that I will never get those good memories back, because the conditions that created them are gone, and I was realizing at that time that most of my behaviors from then until now were a desperate search to get back something that could not ever be retrieved. It sounds like this struck a chord, and I appreciate that a great deal (and I hope it helps), but in large part I've made peace with my time in armstrongism a long time ago, now I'm just trying to work through some of the emotional baggage.

I don't really expect to find culture or belonging at the moment anywhere but with God - he'll provide in time. Until then, all my searches will be in vain. But that doesn't mean I don't have stuff to work through, and I suppose that will continue.

Bedtime now. Thank you for reading and commenting. But I do caution you: If that is the only post on my blog you read, you will get an *extremely* skewed version of what it's about. In fact, even if you only read a few (the poster fell into this trap, actually). I write on a great deal of spiritually and emotionally oriented topics, and find theology, eschatology, and other things fascinating - that's kind of my focus right now. Finding God. Finding culture and dealing with armstrongism is actually far down my list. But... I have emotional moments, and I write them.

I am anonymous because at one time I was very well known in the armstrongism blogging community - and though finding me is likely trivial, I don't want to draw attention. It's something I left behind years ago.

Ed said...

I know of people that have left armstrongism that I thought would never go back to it but did. I never considered going back because I seen clearly the cultic nature of armstrongism and never want to be a part of it again.

When I left I went to many mainstream churches trying to find one with a culture that I felt comfortable being a part of but for many reasons I couldn't.

eventually I became an agnostic. Just as I came to the realization that I could never be a part of armstrongism again I also came to realize that I could never be a part of "any" religion again.

When I left armstrongism I felt like a fish out of water because this religion was so deeply ingrained in my life but now I feel completely comfortable with being completely separated from religion.

Sweetblood777 said...

This appears to be a problem with many when they inadvertently associate the body of Messiah with an organization. It is no wonder that many lose sanity when they can't get these two to mix. It is only much later that some will eventually come to see that it was never Yahshua's intention for His called out ones to create human organizations whereby men create coffins of rank, so that they can overlord the flock treating the flock as if they belonged to them.

The facts as I have come to see them, is that we are all on journeys of our own that call for a relationship between us and Yahweh the Most High.

For get men. Your journey is between you and Yahweh in much the same way as Abraham's relationship with Him is an example of what we should seek today.

Now I know that many on this site have lost faith/connection with the Most High, and that is sad, for in my mind, they threw the baby out with the water, but alas that is their journey and eventually their paths will connect again, whether in this life or the next.

Anonymous said...

yes anonymous of 11:23 I do understand what you mean. I do miss the Feast of Tabernacles I went to as a child. It provided something special in my life and my family wasn't so great, so my church family provided another larger group I could be part of. But last time I went to the FOT when I was a young adult I got in trouble for having a group of people in my room, some of whom were of the opposite sex. Nothing inappropriate happened but we were sharing a bottle of wine, and of all things I learned to enjoy wine in church groups, so that was good too.

Somehow it got me used to having this ready made social group where I was accepted with no effort and I didn't develop the required social skills to interact with people outside of my restricted social group. Maybe I still haven't learned and never will. Some people are happy with only having a few friends, but I liked having a huge group of 'friends' all over the world........of course these people weren't friends after I left. In fact I was looked at like I had a contagious disease.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon August 11, 2014 at 8:27 PM, to an extent.

If one desires to be part of such a "culture", the prevailing process is that a cultish org has "kind of" what you are looking for, they reach out to you... or you reach out to them... and the somewhat slow process of you acclimating your thoughts to theirs begins, with the result being, that you are part of the Borg.
The bottom line is that you have been compromised. I've seen it with people who have gotten involved with Christian megachurches.

Byker Bob said...

Oddly enough, by the time I realized how ugly and destructive the message was, the Feasts no longer held any allure.

The one takeaway, though, is that it was kind of cool to see people at the F/T who normally didn't have two thin dimes to rub together aflush in cash and enjoying themselves. Of course, the financial extremes in their lives would have been evened out by more correct doctrine regarding contributions, but what we experienced was what the membership accepted, and allowed "them" to get away with.


Anonymous said...

All the lies, back-stabbing, stupidity, and intentionally provocative hate on this blog and others is just another reason ex-Armstrongists will never find peace and acceptance, even among the people they should be friends with.

Black Ops Mikey said...

It's time everyone realized that the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia is a culture: Herbert Armstrong put the cult in culture.

It's not a set of beliefs, it is a dysfunctional society which is artificial and never worked. The final shaping of the culture as it was, was in the 1970s. Originally, it was agrarian based as Herbert Armstrong used farmers to fund his ego hobby business, but the 1970s provided him the opportunity to finally and completely divorce himself from the "humble" farmers to move him to the Church Corporate Culture Hierarchy of greed, deceit and immorality. He (inadvertently -- since he was short sighted and didn't really plan much of anything, having as he did a decided lack of foresight) created the dog eat dog competitive corporate culture of the secular, profane, materialistic, worldly sort pretending to be spiritual while holding to purely physical ritualistic practices.

As a culture, those in that society had to perform extreme contortions to adapt themselves to the craziness of the society in which they operated. Nothing was as it seemed. The abstract delusions of materialistic "blessings" were propagated to the masses which only held reality for those at the top (just like every other cult).

So people get addicted to this nasty stuff and yearn for a return to a culture they misperceived and was never a reality. It should have never existed.

And the best thing to do is drop it and run like hell away from it.

Anonymous said...

"...the dog eat dog competitive corporate culture of the secular, profane, materialistic, worldly sort pretending to be spiritual while holding to purely physical ritualistic practices."

This pretty much describes most Christians.
It's a shame.
To their credit, a few are better and do better.

Anonymous said...

"... And the best thing to do is drop it and run like hell away from it."

Where to? Back to mainstream culture? That doesn't work either.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Where to? Back to mainstream culture? That doesn't work either.

How about the scientific community?

At least their technology should work.