Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Book: “The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult”



The title of Jerald Walker’s new memoir “The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult” (Beacon) sounds like it was ripped from the front page of a supermarket tabloid. Yet this was his life growing up in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s.
Walker, a writing professor at Emerson College, is one of seven children. Both his parents lost their sight in childhood accidents and Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God gave them hope that their sight might be restored and that they had been chosen for a better afterlife. Struggling to make ends meet, his parents sent tithes to Armstrong even when they needed the money for heat and food.
After “60 Minutes” aired an exposé of Armstrong and his lavish lifestyle, Walker and some of his siblings left the church. His parents did, too — for a while.
Walker will speak about the book at 7 p.m. Friday at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge. 

“World in Flames” is Beacon Press’s first title to be simultaneously released as an audiobook. Boston Globe

Amazon Books has this:

When The World in Flames begins, in 1970, Jerry Walker is six years old. His consciousness revolves around being a member of a church whose beliefs he finds not only confusing but terrifying. Composed of a hodgepodge of requirements and restrictions (including a prohibition against doctors and hospitals), the underpinning tenet of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God was that its members were divinely chosen and all others would soon perish in rivers of flames.
The substantial membership was ruled by fear, intimidation, and threats. Anyone who dared leave the church would endure hardship for the remainder of this life and eternal suffering in the next. The next life, according to Armstrong, would arrive in 1975, three years after the start of the Great Tribulation. Jerry would be eleven years old.
Jerry’s parents were particularly vulnerable to the promise of relief from the world’s hardships. When they joined the church, in 1960, they were living in a two-room apartment in a dangerous Chicago housing project with the first four of their seven children, and, most significantly, they both were blind, having lost their sight to childhood accidents. They took comfort in the belief that they had been chosen for a special afterlife, even if it meant following a religion with a white supremacist ideology and dutifully sending tithes to Armstrong, whose church boasted more than 100,000 members and more than $80 million in annual revenues at its height.
When the prophecy of the 1972 Great Tribulation does not materialize, Jerry is considerably less disappointed than relieved. When the 1975 end-time prophecy also fails, he finally begins to question his faith and imagine the possibility of choosing a destiny of his own.  A World In Flames

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...with a white supremacist ideology..."


that's about as untrue as you can get...and some real whoppers have been told on this site.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read it. Also need to find the old episode of 60 Minutes!!

nck said...

Interesting.
I hope we are not going to start the entire "yes it was", "no it wasn't discussion" for the umptieth time.

I see where 11:48 is coming from.

I too can imagine a Mel Brooks movie about two blind black people joining up with the local "white supremacist group" because the people are so friendly and they have wholesome ideas on the neighborhood. Starring Richard Prior and Eddie Murphy as the two black friends.

Can I have a copyright on this idea please.


On the other hand how much books would sell with a title like: "with an ideology where races among the Americans were privy to an ancient promise, which entitled them to end native american society and establish the american empire all over the world as an entitlement over all races and all other cultures under the dominance of their currency that said that they trusted in the one who had given that promise"

I would argue from a professional standpoint that a title like that would be too long and not sell the book well or to put it more positive, would not reach its potential audience.

nck


Anonymous said...

I knew plenty of people who held white supremacist ideals while I was a church member. One of those is now in Flurry's group and the others are in LCG. While the majority of church members were not like that, those in the South certainly were prone to the belief.

Anonymous said...

Preying upon the vulnerable. That's such an awful practice, and I can't even come up with the right descriptors for it. Despicable, maybe? No matter, it is what it is.
I remember watching a video in which a Rabbi stated that there should be "a special place in Hell" for people who do this sort of thing.

Interestingly, on Final Jeopardy last night, the category was Dante's Inferno.
The FJ 'question' was, "During the journey, Dante encounters Homer, Socrates & Cicero, who bide their time in the first circle, aka this."
The contestants were Scott(returning champion), Siddharth, and Amy, all likeable people. (Although I'll admit to rooting for Scott because he looked so much like Louis CK, LOL!)
Amy won the day, though, with her correct response of "What is limbo?", while the others incorrectly answered, "What is purgatory?"


BTW, is it possible to view that old episode of 60 Minutes online? I remember watching it when it was first aired. IIRC, Mike Wallace kept ramping up the questions to an obviously lying Stan Rader, and when Mike Wallace finally confronted Rader with audio proof of what Stanley Rader was vehemently denying, Stan threw a shit-fit, said he would be suing 60 Minutes, and fled the interview.

Cindy said...

Riiiight. I was in Pasadena. There was plenty of discrimination. I was disfellowshipped and marked because I fell in love (and married!) a man who happened to be a different color than I am. I was accused of ruining my salvation because I married a "fat black Mexican." I was shunned, thrown out, and have continued to be shunned by my own mother, who continues on in one of the splinters, to this day. Go ahead, tell me there was no racism, no discrimination; tell me I'm lying. I dare you. Remember when they broke up marriages of people who came into the church because they were different ethnicities? Remember how "the races should never mix"? Remember how the few black kids in Pasadena were looked down on and treated like second class citizens only because of their color? Yeah...."whoppers".... riiiight.

Cindy said...

Here you go.
http://hwarmstrong.com/stanley-rader-interview.htm

NO2HWA said...

Thanks Cindy for your story. Pasadena was extremely racist at times by the ministry. I saw it in action many times. Latino's got the brunt more than blacks at times. There will always be naysayers who still believe everything was rainbows and lollipops.

Connie Schmidt said...

Apparently Mr. Walker's father was an alcoholic.. As Black Ops has repeatedly mentioned here, there was an amazing amount of alcohol abuse in the WCG, and it appears to be at a far higher rate than a normal distribution found in general society.

I still find it very odd that people in a restrictive, self righteous , judgmental cult , and for those who took on those kind of cultic religious mindsets can at the same time be alcoholics or other kind of extreme deviant behaviors. The conundrum and cognitive dissonance that must be occurring within people doing such things must create some type of severe neurosis and detachment from reality.

Thus the madness that one sees extant in the various movement and its successors.

nck said...

Connie,

Your bewilderment stems from the complete misunderstanding of the phenomenon that is rampant on this blog.

A lot of people seem to think that a cult spawns abberant behavior types. The fact is that a cult ATTRACTS abberant behavior types.

Look at Isil. Does it occur to you that this movement has attracted 10 's of thousands and perhaps 60.000 warriors over the years FROM international areas like europe, southern russia and even usa.

Yes, they were trained later in their cultic "state". But the attraction of the personality type must by this example be clear to you now.

nck

RSK said...

I knew when I initially read this post early this morning (0 comments at the time), there'd be some number of folk on here later having a fit over the line about white supremacy. Look, just because WCG employees and members couldn't legally beat us black folk on fiat, you don't get to dismiss it all that easily. ;)

Anonymous said...

The book was written from Jerry's perspective, and his story is told without bowing and scraping before the public relations whitewashing which the WCG always gave to its racist British Israel doctrinal approach. This is real life experience, very valid, and confronting the lynchpin of Armstrongism, and depicting the real time damages inflicted.

Also, why should HWA get a pass on all of his sensationalist, eye-catching hooks, while one of his victims is trashed for selecting a dramatic title for his book? Jerry's title is far less damaging than, say, "1975 in Prophecy". You have to ask yourself, which was more of a stretch?

By the way, is nobody else amazed at how this remarkable man overcame the extreme adversities in his life, and rose to the stature in academia which he obviously has? Someone once remarked of their experience in WCG that it was like "being black twice".

Black Ops Mikey said...

It's a combo: Armstrongism attracts the conspiracy theory types along with the weird and creepy, but on the other hand also brings in nearly normal people and then stresses them into a transformation to cause them to compromise themselves and their principles.

A true lose-lose venue.

Miguel de la Rodente said...

One thing is certain. The rules and culture of a cult are set. Only a fool would enter believing that he could change the cult, modulate it, or impact it for the greater good. It changes you, period, and multiple exclamation points! If it doesn't, you are out, and you forfeit any capital which you feel you have built with it. The problem is that often, one does not realize that he is dealing with a cult, because the marketing techniques are extremely deceptive. Then, suddenly, it is too late.

Herbert W. Armstrong espoused many of the beliefs held in common with the KKK. About the only way in which he differed from them substantively is that he postured the type of enlightenment that causes one to avoid using the "N" word! Even absenting the "N" word, his rhetoric was equally hurtful.

Anonymous said...

armstrongism is a white supremecist ideology...as a black child what grew up in the old wwcg i began to understand this...

i feel for jerry, even though my father, who raised me and my sisters in the church, didnt have it quite as difficult as he may have...

one thing i got from the original wwcg was to take the Word of God for face value, e.g., to have faith...

to this day such a philosophy has gotten me through life...

having said that: mr. armstrong contaminated the Truth of the Gospel with materialism and white supremecy, and the Work has yet to recover from this sin...but it will...

Anonymous said...

"'...with a white supremacist ideology...'


that's about as untrue as you can get...and some real whoppers have been told on this site."

No, you don't! I was there from the early fifties on to 1974-75. Negroes were considered the lowest of the low on the racial scale (cursed sons of Ham, you know). It took years for them to be accepted into the college and the ministry, and then, only grudgingly.

Allen C. Dexter

Anonymous said...

"No, you don't!"

yeah, go ahead and try to pin the societal norm of the day on the Church....

gotta love these folks that try to judge the people of history by the standard of today....

Anonymous said...

As much as people would like to sweep them under the rug, the prejudices still exist to this day within the splinters. Felix Taylor, who is African-Canadian, blogged about many of his life experiences, particularly his WCG experiences, on his blog, "Life After WCG". As with most of the dissident blogs, people from the splinters would occasionally compose posts defending their faith. However, in Felix's case, these "defenders" occasionally added their own foul ad hominems, calling Felix insulting names, such as "Curly", or "Blackie", rather than sticking to the business of discussing the insightful points that he had made. It just seems so obvious that the door for these attitudes and comments are opened up by the theory of British Israelism that was embraced and taught by HWA, and by HWA's teaching that God's way is segregation. In mainstream Christianity, there may be some racists attending the various churches, but racism isn't an institutionalized pattern taught and preserved by those churches.

Anonymous said...

Miguel you are right I was born in the wwcg my parents left in 95, went to Global/LCG I'm still in LCG. Growing I thought I was in a perfect church, when you are young and ask questions its cute but when you get older you are rebellious. So I thought I could change it but I was a fool.

As far as black folk having a hard time at church, I can see that. Back in the day in the church was segregated, and growing up partly in LCG I would cringe sometimes when a minister talked about the races b/c we had black brethren.

Dexter you are right I remember having an argument with one of my grandfathers about Noah. They would say that pure in his generation was race. Well that's not true I would argue it was his righteousness.

This country has come a long way I would even say that whites are now more likely to be victims of racism, but the COGs I don't think so. Some ministers still will not marry certain races together.

Anonymous said...

"the societal norm of the day"??? why not just say the jews persecution of Christ was the "societal norm of the day" and excuse their behavior??? i bet you justify lynching as the "societal norm of the day"...

you empower sites like this with what is clearly an insensitive, animal like perspective, by which your fraud in using my lower case style is made obvious, you deceiver...

using your perverted logic: if slavery was the "norm of the day" then armstrong would have been justified in owning slaves...

you, sir are in error, and justify the contempt that sites like these have for the cogs...

Hedgehog said...

I somehow feel compelled to review some of the articles on this website every few days and read some of the comments as well. I ALWAYS feel as sense of despair and almost rage when I think of what people have subjected themselves to in these crazy COG churches. Even more I feel SICK that people were brainwashed or attracted by the crazy ideas that so harmed their children. My brother joined this cult, married a girl who was a member, distanced himself greatly from our family and raised their only child in one or more COG until the kid blew his brains out at age 19. After about 5 or 10 minutes of reading some of the crap regarding this crazy cult, I start to sink into the depths of despair and quickly switch to YouTube to listen to some good old Rock and Roll Music or watch people dancing to Blues Music (actually quite funny, sometimes). Then slowly, I accept that maybe there is a NORMAL world where people can have fun, live in the present and quit the gut-wrenching obsession with that which is based on nothing but delusion and superstition. I do ask for sympathy however because this is PAINFUL! Gloria Olson

Anonymous said...

"using your perverted logic: if slavery was the "norm of the day" then armstrong would have been justified in owning slaves..."


I never said that it was justified...but I don't condemn the people of history for the standard of their times either....

remember sport, as time goes on, you will likely be condemned by the "more enlightened" people of the future...

Miguel de la Rodente said...

My problem with this line of thought is that a church, or spiritual guides, are not supposed to mirror the norm of the day. The church is to reflect Godly standards, as ambassadors from the Kingdom, if anything elevating the standards of the day. Many of the mainstream rabbis, ministers, and priests walked with Dr. Martin Luther King to do exactly that, even as HWA was writing articles extoling segregation as being God's way and promoting white hierarchy and paternalism through British Israelism.

We could have had our own Godly protests, saying that it wasn't right to have "colored" seating sections in the big tabernacle of the late '50s. But, the ministers were a bunch of sissies, worrried about persecution, while Dr. King was putting his life on the line and ended up being shot.

Anonymous said...

"My problem with this line of thought is that a church, or spiritual guides, are not supposed to mirror the norm of the day."


if we all came up out of the baptism water with perfect knowledge and understanding you might have a point....but it's a slow learning process to get to perfection.

it's a dangerous thing to use today's standards to condemn those in the past.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Black Ops Mikey said it best (in answering people opining why the ended up being home to so many extremist kooks)-

"It's a combo: Armstrongism attracts the conspiracy theory types along with the weird and creepy, but on the other hand also brings in nearly normal people and then stresses them into a transformation to cause them to compromise themselves and their principles."

YES!
It did have an attraction to those who were already extremist kooks.
And, it also did tend to transform more normal people into extremist kooks.

I've seen many examples of both scenarios.

Plus, in most cases, it DID have to do with WCG's "...white supremacist ideology...", which for some (probably predictable- yet ignorant) reason, the first commenter rejected with his accusatory outburst.

Anonymous said...

What's funny is when I read people's claims that Herbie's racism was just a product of the era when he spewed such nonsense.


What's even funnier is when I've read people's claims that Herbie was "ahead of his time" when it came to race relations!

An easy comparison and lookup shows that Herbie was WAY BEHIND THE TIMES when it came to his views and pronouncements about race relations!

I'll give Herbie credit, though, in his 'get back on the track bullshit- screaming for more segregation in 1985- for using the political ploy of saying there were the "good old days" we must get back to, when in reality those "good old days" didn't exist for many people except for those who were actually considered as "human" at the time.

Herbert Armstrong, who was no stranger to Hitler's 'Mein Kampf', did a good job of emulating Hitler's tactic of gaining strength through propagating the lie of "the good old days" (and offering a way to get back to that illusory past), while blaming people of a particular religion or ethnicity for a perceived loss of national greatness.

Anonymous said...

as time goes by it will be God that condemns, mainly because people like you are constantly making excuses for evil doing...condemnation ultimately is His, and there is not a single time in history that evil doers have not been Punished...

what was the "the standard of the time", as you so arrogantly put it, of abraham lincolns day...regardless of the popular sentiment and "tradition", God moved to nearly Destroy the south...

be careful, "sport", for fraud and deception is also a sin in Gods eyes...

Anonymous said...

oh such a confused one...

since I won't jump on the condemnation bandwagon with you, you accuse me of making excuses for evil....but you say that it is up to God to condemn. ...you contradict yourself.

and obviously you don't understand the War Between the States. God did not move to nearly destroy the South, He preserved the Union because He knew what was ahead...it was not yet Germany's time, and someone had to be able to hold them in check.
a divided people on this continent would have resulted in a German ruled world.

besides, the South was right, and this country has been decaying ever since that war (and no, the war was NOT about slavery, that was a side issue)...the war was about consolidation of power in Washington...no longer a Union of Sovereign States, but a Nation. (which was also necessary to bring about the destruction of said Nation)

you would be wise to heed your own warning against fraud & deception.

nck said...

10:54 said
"a divided people on this continent would have resulted in a German ruled world"

hmpf
Yes and Zorro would have ruled California.
The Oklahoma territories would have been a nation instead of a state.
Alaska would have been Russian.
And Arcadia/Pasadena wouldn't have to suffer intollerable rise of housing prices because of those pesky thrifty Chinese people paying all in cash while working for Uber to learn American culture while their mobile phone speaks English to the customers through google translate. Yeah.


And the guy who managed to impress Connie enough is ruled by a German anyways. So the outcome of the Civil War didn't work out for him. I forgot who secured financing for The North. Brett Main (nrth and south) is actually still maried to William Riker so I guess southern values have merit. (re brangelina) Oh no. Brad Pitt is from Shawnee. Indeed confusing times.

nck

Miguel de la Rodente said...

Well, I've always said that it would have been very nice if the first test case for states rights hadn't been over a state's right to make it legal to own and enslave one's fellow human beings. I can visualize many more less ignorant premises for these test cases.

Anonymous said...

it is not you or i that condemned the south for their sinful behavior; it was God...the fact that you excuse their behavior as mere contemporarious behavior does not square with the fact that the absolute Wrath of the Lord rained upon them, and this stands to reason cuz you clearly are carnal minded...

God is about Justice, Mercy, and Faith; enslaving other humans is a sin, made clearly so by the fact that no person wants to be enslaved...

you have the kind of spirit that guarantees that history will be repeating itself, except that in this day and age war is much more efficient...and the enemy is much more diverse...

in the mind of flesh the civil war was about preserving the union, but clearly the outcome, and the way it came about, i.e. how God compelled people like you to fight for the enslaved even though you clearly were at least apathetic, indeed was about Punishing the south...

but clearly there has left unfinished business in that the same evil spirit of yesteryear persists, so the outcome will not be unlike the past...

and you add to your misguided, presumptuous pov the unethical and bizarre willingness to impersonate me on this blog by imitating my signature lower case style, which is deceptive and fraudulent...

you certainly are not fooling the admin of this board, though, cuz despite your imitation, you cannot imitate the ip address of my device, you are playing the fool...

Anonymous said...

"...the unethical and bizarre willingness to impersonate me on this blog by imitating my signature lower case style, which is deceptive and fraudulent..."


ho-boy!
I take it that you are the only one allowed to forgo caps?

oh and by the way, ip address, mac address, etc. are easily manipulated, for those that wish to do such things.

I really don't think there is much chance of anyone confusing us, given the polar opposites of our views...

and just for fun, I'll encourage everyone to look up the Constitution of the CSA, and read Section 9.1 & 9.2
hmmm, it does something the USA Constitution didn't ;-)

Anonymous said...

yet again you demonstrate your tendency to think in terms of deception in that you mention the fact that an ip or mac is manipulatable;

you also deceive yourself; either that or you misunderstand the fact that the admin can tell whether or not its me by the ip address used by the particular device i use to visit his site...

if anyone comes on this blog pretending to be one of the regular contributors yet has a different ip or mac, one of two things are the case: either the regular is on a different device, or someone on a different device is pretending to be that regular...manipulation of the address has nothing to do with it...

Anonymous said...

well, since we live in a world filled with deception it's good to be aware of the devices....to help guard ourselves from it.

and if I remember correctly, Gary has mentioned several times here that he cannot see the ip address of anyone....so I'm not sure why you are so worried about it.

you could set up an ID, then everyone would know it's you, and no one could impersonate you...if that worries you so much.