Friday, April 28, 2017

The Dangers in The Ring Mastered Church

Before the age of television and radio, a charismatic minister, one who by the power of his own personality, ego and even his mental quirkiness or illnesses, tended to influence a relatively few people overall. Since these inventions, times have changed of course. Now we can be bombarded with the ideas, opinions, inspirations, knowings and outright stupidity of the sincerely misguided. The problem is that they reach millions and are supported by people who buy into their ideas, but never meet the man, attend his church or know what might be going on behind the scenes of the organization he has created. 
Such men build Mega-Churches in their local communities and the sheer size of the congregation seems to be proof enough that the pastor must be right, must be really speaking for God and must be doing God's for sure, real, end time (again and still) work on earth. Surely something this big and with these many resources, which are mainly the tithes given to the man, who then decides just how to spend it with littler over site, has to be right and true.
For better or worse, the religious texts often give men more than they need to create a powerful, but false, and misguided belief system that then replicates itself and brings great ego pumping to the man who weaves the tale his way. They look into the Bible, both Old and New Testament, and what do they see? THEMSELVES! They see that, sure enough, just what Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are alleged to have said, is what I, am saying as well. 
These misguided and often dangerous pastor types, and the danger is to one's finances and freedom of thought, often anoint themselves with various titles such as Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet, Watchman (watch out for this one as it's not what they watch that is so dangerous, but how they interpret what they watch to the faithful), and worse sometimes. Elections might be fine in government, but not for church. It does seem that the more bold a man or organization is, the grander the titles and the more authoritarian with YOU designated as a mere follower, it becomes... and the more dangerous to your real spiritual self it is.
Lets briefly remind ourselves of the traits a personality plagued with narcissism can bring to the Christian table.

"Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements);
Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions); 
Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);
Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment;
Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;
Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;
Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy. " (Malignant Self Love) 
(If one cannot see these traits in certain Church of God Ring Masters they are blind and in denial as it manifests itself every week in every sermon and in every way everywhere.)
Ministers and CEO's with these traits, can rise to very high positions in the world of Religion, Government and Business, on the backs and at the expense of those who would not be inclined to think this way. They may be genetically predisposed to this way of being, but the world has paid a big price for allowing such people to include us in their exploits. Since they rarely if ever seek professional help and to suggest they do can get you everything from fired, disfellowshipped or killed, others don't insist they do to their peril. 
My experience is a Pastor with emotional or mental health issues often scoffs at and demonizes those that would go to professional mental health care counselors. They view it as "being weak" and prayer, Bible Study and fasting are the tools one SHOULD use to address such things.
. I often wonder if mental health counselor types in Mega-Churches don't recognize the problems in Mr. Charisma, but override it because a quirky or dangerous mental disorder can look so spiritual in a church context.It looks like a zealous kind of obedience to God when in fact it is an personality disorder able to hide in a church setting. The same actions of Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel in your school teacher, mayor or boss would not result in someone saying they are inspired by God.
So what are the problems with a one man Ring Master Church of God minster?

1. The minister, used to being believed in every area that captures his imagination and chooses to comment on is an impediment to good science.  Desperate to sound authoritative and glib in their presentation to the choir, they perpetuate ignorance for those content to let others do their thinking for them.  
Dave Pack's series where he ventured into dangerous territory for his actual understanding of good science which contradicts is pathetic science is a good example of this.  

2. The minister or Christian Zealot that goes unchallenged because he IS the Minister or Zealot, is a threat to a good education. They often bolster their own pronouncements by making fun of a formal education. They mock Plato, Socrates and others who are symbols to them of "human reasoning" as if there is reasoning is more than human. Dave Pack dismissed Einstein because he had "wild hair."  Brilliant Dave...  I realize they give the impression that God pours his mind, on a regular basis, into  themselves, but this is an illusion and delusion. 
"When you take into account what the so-called "educated" people don't know that's essential to know, and compare it with the vain "education" they do have, it becomes clear that they are quite dumb."
-- Robert T. Lee, Anti education Christian Leader.
These types tend to use the words "so-called" and put parenthesis around the words "education" a lot. They will soak their congregants in the biblical verses that mock human wisdom and ultimately, when cornered, come back with "well, the wisdom of man is foolishness with God," and "God's thoughts, (which usually mean his thoughts at the moment you are questioning,) are higher than yours!" End of discussion.
3. Many charismatic and one man churches are a threat to your good health. They often stress that ill health is a function of the devil in your life or mind, when it really might be the fact that one believes that sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are the four food groups and spends a lot of money proving it. Anointing an obese person for bad knees is like painting a car with flat tires. It still won't move.
These spokesman for God emphacise that having hands laid on you is more important than a good check up or good treatment of maladies contracted in the course of living on the earth as a human or old age. Some teach that it's either God OR Doctors, but can't be both. Some mix it up but give false reasons in sermons for human illness and often cause a person to postpone getting genuine help and finding a solution to the problem. When these ministers contract an illness themselves, they tend to re-read the scriptures and hear the voice of God telling them that it's now OK to seek professional help and a good Doctor for themselves, and thus have to reveal this a new truth to the congregation who'd catch on if he didn't. When they need it, they tend to change over to "God has given us medical knowledge as a gift and we should recognize and for me at least."
4. Charismatic and One Man Shows aren't accountable for their use of your generous tithes and offerings. As such, they are a grave threat to your finances. Such members often tell themselves after they send the money, "I just obey God and tithe, and what he does it it is none of my business. I trust God and his Church." That gives Mr. Charisma a free hand which is why we see Tel-Evangelists and Religious CEO's sporting hot cars, expensive watches and amazingly expensive homes in exclusive neighborhoods. Even the original scripture, "blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven," was changed to "blessed are the poor, IN SPIRIT, ...." to give some very wealthy and materialistic ministers and churches some wiggle room throughout history. Somehow these men embarrass and anger us, but nothing is ever said or done that changes them and the giving goes on, along with the lifestyle abuses and offenses to common sense. Sheeple love Shenanigans I guess.
5. The One Man Show can define the world to the members as it serves him. He can spew out why the world is this or that way and just what exactly God is doing and thinking. He can motivate the masses with the imminent (again) return of Jesus. Everything is watched with baited breath and is just around the corner. The world can't go on for more than 3 or 5 or 10 or 15 more years, so give, give, give, give. Of course the numbers of years "just ahead" never change and often match the number of years the minister wants the show to go on for him, but no one notices or cares. Granted, it's a dangerous and discouraging world, but frankly it is the Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions that want their form of peace on earth to come that are pushing us towards the edge. As I have said before, they might bring nothing but a sanitation problem for their false efforts and beliefs about what God might be thinking.
6. The One Man Show can leave you high and dry when they DIE! Uh what? These men often act as if they simply can't die "before all be fulfilled," and rarely make provision for a change in leadership, if that is what the group wants. Why would you have to make provision for new leadership when you are the End Time Apostle or both of the Two Witnesses of Revelation? I once asked a group that was just smitten with the talent and "knowledge so called" (sorry couldn't resist) of their pastor in his Mega-Church. I asked if they had a plan B. I asked what they would do if he failed to live up to his own press or died and they simply insisted that would never happen. Uh huh...It's the people who work for such jerk that end up paying the price in having given their lives to a false vision and were lied to about the outcome. Of course, life is choices and we make our choices don't we? If your grand poopa minister does not have a way to be replaced, you need to make a way, for your own good and spiritual safety. If he refuses to entertain the idea, he's an idiot and you need to vote with your feet. (See Narcissism above.)
7. A One Man Show presupposes that you must see life, religion, God, the Bible, the world, your family, your thoughts, your finances and every other aspect of your personal freedom to be who you are, through his eyes. You really don't have a life. You have HIS life. You aren't a player in your own life. You are a player in HIS life. You can't see the world and receive knowledge as see fit. You have to receive knowledge and receive it from HIM and as HE sees it. In short, you have given up your mind and all you now are is an agreerer. You just agree with your ministers views, opinions and perspectives on who and what God is and when Jesus simply must come back for all of the big US, not them. If he says dinosaurs are less than 6000 years old and fossils are deceptions as is any book outside of the Bible, you just say, "yes sir." If you are really hooked by the one many show, you become a virus for him and spread it to others. If he says one man is God's political leader, but the other is Satan's, you just say "well ok," and vote as the minister says you should, for GOD. It's all bullshit, but many love bullshit and smear it on themselves every week in church as a Holy Excrement, I mean Sacrament.
(Hey, that was pretty good!)
8. And finally, the one man show is dangerous because men are men and women are women and when they fall from grace, they tend to take everyone with them in one way or another. People are people and get into all sorts of wants, needs, desires, lusts and experiences. Religion and the need to be good, godly, perfect, righteous and sinless, well at least not "big" ones, forces people wear masks.
No man is above being normal, but the demands of religious obedience is abnormal in a real world. The congregation can "sin" until the cows come home and often, but they expect the pastor to be their sacrifice for sin by his living an unreasonable life full of unreasonable expectations and unresolved personal needs. The reason so many ministers "fall from grace," is because few can meet the expectations of religion and the few that think they can, can't but won't admit it. Many are pushed from grace by ego.
Don't be overly impressed by the religious who know everything and demand you pay, obey, pray and stay just because they say so. Question religious authority and those that demand your righteousness at the expense of your sanity. The person demanding your devotion or obedience is just a human being as well with all the foibles that go along with that. 


Anonymous said...

It shouldn't, I suppose, come as quite as much of a shock to me as it did, that my own family who remain in the COGs would be Drumpf supporters (even if they don't vote) since they already belong to a fascist church, worship a fascist god, and harbor delusional fantasies about a soon-coming fascist theocracy.

Of course they don't like democratic forms of government, democratic values and ideals, or democratic institutions. Of course they don't believe the people ought to have a say in how they are governed. They believe the power ought to come down from above, not up from below.

And they've already been putting up with incompetent, indecent, immoral leadership in their church for decades, so they're more than prepared to embrace the same coming from the federal government as well.

Black Ops Mikey said...

It's all about the narrative.

Are you certain you want to follow it?

Connie Schmidt said...

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s circus just recently announced that it will be shutting down this year. The dropping of elephants from the act led to a sharp decline in ticket sales.

Maybe, we too will see an eventual closing down of the RING MASTERS in the COG, especially when their "WHITE ELEPHANTS", like auditoriums , jets, and campuses fail to generate enough "tithe tickets" to be sustainable.

Arno said...

While reading through this post I could not help asking myself if I read something similar way back in 1974 -- when I became enamoured with HWA and his WWCG -- if I would have realized how well all the psychopathic traits identified in this post was applicable to the then PG, as well as the minister of our local congregation? I'm not sure, because I was only 17 years young and needed a roll model :-(

But, then again, rather late then never... I sincerely hope that any of you practicing COG-gers who read this post, will think seriously about what it actually entails. I hope some of you, if not *all* will think seriously about what you've read... Peace :-)

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with narcissists and sociopaths is that THEY will never look at themselves thru and unfiltered lense. You can call someone a narcissist all you want but THEY will never see it. As a result their followers and loved ones will never see it either because the "charismatic leader" has spun their web so perfectly. I guarantee all of the minions reading this are saying to themselves "well that could never be Mr Charismatic Leader because...."

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The biggest problem with narcissists and sociopaths is that THEY will never look at themselves thru and unfiltered lense.

That's very true and the success rate for treating such a personality runs right at about zero. The best one can do is know they are being led around and out to see by one before they drown.

Anonymous said...

Correct, according to books on psychopathy, there is no cure. Robert Hare's classic on psychopaths 'Without conscious' points out that they are self satisfied with their mental state, hence see no need to change.

Ronco said...

Ah, good old Harold Camping- RIP!

Oh, and for your entertainment there are a few ministries that still believe that Judgment Day began on May 21, 2011...



Anonymous said...

Doesn't Mussolini look a lot like the actor, the late George C Scott?

Byker Bob said...

Somehow, I never thought of the creation of a profile, stereotype, or strawman (shades of meaning; they're all pretty much the same) as being particularly brilliant, insightful, or useful. But, this is a technique we absorbed in Armstrongism to help us deal with those outside of our own little myopic world. Drunken Christmas parties, race fan only interested in the crashes, philanthropist motivated by his own guilt, mainstream minister who actually knows better, homosexual matinee idol, greedy salesman, power-mad public servant, etc.

To assume that large churches and their pastors fall into one monolithic aura is to fail to view individual churches with any sort of depth or understanding. The fact is, there is a tremendous amount of diversity in that group, and individuality involved in each one. This is why others have recommended testing the spirit of a church that you are considering attending. This is of course something that was not allowed in Armstrongism. Seems they got past this bit of common sense through the notion that Herbert W. Armstrong was "God's Apostle", leader of "God's True Church". So, members were not permitted to "test the spirit" of their local congregation, or the various ministers. Check your spiritual intelligence at the door! Can you imagine telling Gerald Flurry, Rod Meredith, or Dave Pack that you were testing the spirit of their ACOG? There would likely be a nuclear explosion far beyond the hopes and dreams of Kim Jong-Un! Moab bomb? Forget that! We're talking the Korah bomb here!

Large community churches have large resources with which to accomplish good. Many are deeply involved in their surrounding community, some providing free funerals, doing drives that refill foodbanks, providing viable alternatives for teenage prostitutes, and offering various services for at risk or special needs kids. The teenagers counter many of the bad influences prominent in the area high schools. Church governance provides a high level of accountability. Many of the self effacing ministers and their families live in modest homes, in spite of the resources of their churches. Perfect? Without faults or problems? No. But, they also do not fit the stereotypes that are all too often presented as being the only possible reality.

In my line of work, I have an opportunity to rub shoulders with some really exceptional leaders. Many of these people have incredible vision, and the talent to mentor to and motivate those whom they employ, in a way which fulfills mission statements, and produces value to society at large. If you want to think of the reward as ruling cities, these people are ruling various domains right now! They are imperfect as are all humans, but their talents are nothing short of remarkable, and they consistently exhibit ethics and humanity that far exceeds the righteousness of Armstrongism. It's out there, and it defies the stereotypes and strawmen. You just need greater exposure in order to find and appreciate it. Greater depth.

Becoming focussed on a profile creates a prejudice, and actually retards growth and progress. A mentor or guru who would fix such images in your mind is actually setting you back, although the most comfortable path is often buying into his simplistic line of thought. When stereotypes are presented, dig deeper. Don't just hear them and stop. You may be surprised at what you find!


DennisCDiehl said...

"Becoming focussed on a profile creates a prejudice, and actually retards growth and progress. A mentor or guru who would fix such images in your mind is actually setting you back, although the most comfortable path is often buying into his simplistic line of thought. When stereotypes are presented, dig deeper. Don't just hear them and stop. You may be surprised at what you find!:

Bob, the focus of the posting on the signs, symptoms and behaviors of narcissistic pastor types who run off in all theological directions possible and hurt people is, in context, being restricted to the split, splinter and sliver ministries we are all familiar with. It is done so in the hope that some in those groups who come to the site here might realize what it is they are seeing in their COG apostle, prophet and witness. I think we all know who we are all speaking of in the context of BannedHWA.

I am not speaking of your large community church nor of those you may admire in your religious community though they are over a large number of people, though this problem in ministry is not restricted to "Armstrongist" types. All denominations have learned the hard way about bullies and narcissists in the pulpit amongst a minority of their own, however from time to time.

I am not so inexperienced as to believe that "all pastors fall into one monolithic aura..."

Byker Bob said...

Some of the references which you made in your post contradict what you state in your third paragraph of 11:19, Dennis. What mega-churches have ever existed in Armstrongism? Who in Armstrongism even had the types of charisma that could have built a mega-church, and what Armstrongite ministers drove around in expensive sports cars? Not even Pasadena meeting in the "House for God" approached mega-church status.


DennisCDiehl said...

Dennis. What mega-churches have ever existed in Armstrongism? Who in Armstrongism even had the types of charisma that could have built a mega-church, and what Armstrongite ministers drove around in expensive sports cars? Not even Pasadena meeting in the "House for God" approached mega-church status.


None of course. The posting was about the personality disorders that can arise in ministry and has and still is in the mega in their minds ministries of Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, Bob Thiel and the silly little Bible reader men that have oozed out of the ashes. Herbert of course had his excesses as displayed on this site and the mini mega "leading Evangelists" of WCG all had their toys , big homes and heads.

Sorry if I confused you straying into the concept of Mega Church ministries and the same pitfalls they face with their own challenges with personality disorders in ministry. It's a common problem in business and religion.

So no, you are right. WCG never reached the status of Mega Church of course and most ministers did not ride around in expensive sports cars or wear Rolexes, well except Joey Tkach I suppose who I understand collected them.

DennisCDiehl said...

BB, I get it that you believe I am a threat to people coming to a proper understanding of Jesus and Faith as you journeyed from WCG in your youth, to atheism and back to a more satisfying Christian faith. I get that.

I have had my own experience from Dutch Reformed growing up to WCG, where in my naivete' just knew God wanted me to be and a minister to boot. (Wow..that has lots of double meaning for me! lol) to rediscovering my childhood and youthful love of science and real human origins.

I have always thru it all believed in the fact of earth age being in the billions and the evolution of life, including human . I collect early human stone tools one of which is from Oldevai Gorge and is 1.8 million years old and have a collection of meteorites right over >>>>> none of which is less than 4.5 billion years old. I am so weird with my fascinations as to wear a beautiful piece of banded iron around my neck which is 2.5 billion years old and formed before there was only bacteria spewing O2 and rusting out iron from the ocean in beautiful layers. When I kid about not having been a paleontologist or geologist, I should use the word mourn.

I honor your journey. I carry a lot of personal frustrations, issues with religion forced on me with my permission before I stood up for myself both outside and in. I deeply regret my youthful decisions but it was the 60's and both Biblical understanding which has and always will fascinate me and the understanding of where earth, humans and the universe were on the rise. I just picked the wrong one.

We're all in this together here at banned. Someone suggested yesterday I start my own site where those so inclined as I am can go and discuss our issues and such, but I don't want to. Banned, to me, is a site where one can process their WCG/Splinter/Sliver experience and move on to either a better understanding Christianity, and awareness of what went wrong or even that religion has it's problems no matter which one you choose.

Gary has the contacts for all the church baloney and drama past, present and probably future. I fill in the spaces with my own views as you could with yours if wished.

Sorry, I have a LOT on my mind of late. You're a good guy. So am I.

I had many things in WCG I thought were either not important such as BI or stupid, such as makeup, doctor issues and believe it or not, the weird personalities I had to work for and around at times. I have not changed much in my entire life and WCG did not turn me into some religious freak or dictatorial pastor.

DennisCDiehl said...

PS BB. Don't know if you ended up going to the Alumni Reunion in Vegas or the AR part of it and I chose not to for reasons of over stirring up my own pot of issues but had we both ended up there we'd have had a great lunch together I am sure :) I understand we didn't miss much at the AR part as it got off track and boring for maybe half of it. We could have spiced it up a bit I am sure!

Anonymous said...

"Some of the references which you made in your post contradict what you state in your third paragraph of 11:19, Dennis. What mega-churches have ever existed in Armstrongism? Who in Armstrongism even had the types of charisma that could have built a mega-church, and what Armstrongite ministers drove around in expensive sports cars? Not even Pasadena meeting in the "House for God" approached mega-church status."

Herb's son, Richard, had a sports car and drove around like hell in it, once clear across the country, bragging about ignoring speed limits, and this is before the interstates when roads were narrow and much more dangerous. I'm a little older, so I remember things like that.

No, Herb didn't want to squander money on physical plants that he could spend agrandizing himself, but what he did build was akin for a time to a mega church.

Allen C. Dexter

Byker Bob said...

Dennis, you got double burned by the same people. First they inflicted the legalism and Phariseeism, the additional pet theories of HWA and his spin on prophecy and the end times on the members, all of which had to be accepted unquestioningly as a unit or supposedly you were headed to the Lake of Fire. Then they inflicted New Covenant Christianity on the members using the same cruel managerial style, burning a lot of loyal people as well as creating hatred for the "new" teachings. It was as if they served ice cream, but made the same faces as if they were gagging down and force feeding everyone liver and collard greens. People were victimized by authoritarianism and control, and in the aftermath a certain number ended up choosing one philosophy, others choosing the remaining one, with a third group choosing neither and hating both!

To me, the most important element is not that those who leave Armstrongism adopt a particular set of beliefs or non-beliefs, but that they recognize the toxicity and bogussness that is being forcefully inflicted on them, and that they get safely away from that. They've been taught (it is harped upon!) what happens to people and their minds if they should ever leave "God's" church, and then they witness people on these recovery sites who not only seem to embody that stereotype, but appear to be in majority. So the scary rhetoric regarding the built in toll for leaving ends up appearing as the overwhelming reality, playing into the hands of the tyrranical ACOG ministers, and strengthening the trap. They've already dealt with you and are prepared for you. Your role is to help scare people back into Armstrongism, and you do what you do very effectively, even though you believe that you are simply bouncing around your new ideas. If you listen to them, some of the anonymous LCG posters have attempted to tell you as much.

None of this stuff supporting non-belief bothers or threatens me personally, because I had spent 30 years already pondering and considering it. I learned by the absence therof what God brings to the party, and it isn't the fundamentalist strawman stuff that some non-believers imply.

We've all seen well-intentioned but tragic characters on TV and in the movies, some of whom are actually occasionally brilliant, but mostly miss or misinterpret social cues, and end up doing damage or creating detours that they did not foresee or intend. Hopefully, we don't have such people here. It works much better when we can point out those personality types as they play for the other team. "It takes one to know one" often initially exposes problems, but it's not the state of mind which gets the job done.


Byker Bob said...

Also, I didn't make it to the AR event either. The technology revolution in my industry is relentless, and the installation and training on new equipment and systems has more or less taken over my entire life. Last week I had one of the regional managers from my primary manufacturer working with me. He anticipates that this wave of activity will continue for the next ten years. Had I been in Vegas, I would have been nervously watching my cell phone, and worried about my customers.