Thursday, March 1, 2018

Friday Musings: I'm So Dis-illusioned.

...You say that like it's a bad thing!

If you spend enough time on the planet, one of the great experiences we all will have is that of that of being disillusioned with persons, places or things. I personally hate it. It's annoying, takes way too much energy and makes my stomach hurt, or third chakra depending on your perspective. :)
Of course, we also have to admit from time to time, that we all are a source of disillusionment for others as well, so I suppose this keeps the universe balanced in some way, and the feelings we have about how it feels when we experience it in perspective. If you are like me, I tend to remember well what disillusions me for a very long time, but rather quickly try to dismiss my own part in the disillusionment of others.
I'd like to ask a simple question. Why would we want to have illusions? After all, DIS-illusionment should seem to be exactly what we want to happen. Who wants to live with illusions? Who wants to base their perspectives on that which is not real, true or accurate? We should beg for DIS-illusionment, but in fact we don't. Plainly, disillusionment in any of life's quests is painful and is the reason we tend to defend them, at all costs. Pain is to be avoided at all costs it seems.
I think we all know people who live with well thought out, well defined and deeply entrenched illusions. As a former, very sincere and hopeful pastor type, I was a master teacher of illusions and had darn good proofs that I was right to defend them. The problem was, ultimately, I was wrong.
Let me share a few. I realize that some will be quick to point out my flawed thinking, because of their own illusions, and to refute my observations as a simple lack of faith, or trust. Some will say, I was in the wrong church, had a bad attitude or simply misunderstood God. Illusions are easy to defend and difficult to let go of at best. I understand that. But when simple theological promises are made, and then applied with either no results or negative results, that's pretty darn disillusioning. But the goal here is to not have illusions, so it's all good.
So here goes. Let me share a few of the most simple and yet theologically disillusioning concepts that many Christians struggle with. I know I am not alone, nor is it inappropriate to observe just how untrue, in human experience these concepts are in practical fact.
As a minister, I often anointed "the sick" with oil and laid hands on them offering "the prayer of faith." In most cases, it was not serious stuff, but rather, the type of maladies that would pass in time with a little self care and patience. There were many times, however, where it was either be "healed" or die before one's time. I'd like to say that the "prayer of faith" did save the sick, after all that's what it says...
James 5:
14 "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
...but it did not. I watched many die, in time, just as those who did not ask. Doing this hundreds, if not thousands of times did not result in my personally having any real miraculous stories of obvious healing to relate to you. I have a sense even now of not wanting to admit this, knowing the arguments that humans come up with to explain why this is as it is, but I experienced this simple theological promise as I did and wish to face it.
One of my more profound awakenings happened when a client , crying on the massage table over the loss of her daughter through suicide told me her minister "comforted " her with "Well now...God lost his only child too."  Uh oh...wrong answer.  She screamed "NO!  The Jesus in the story knew he would be back in three days.  God knew he would raise him in three days better than ever.  That story was a weekend inconvenience for Jesus and God. A mere soap opera.  If I knew my daughter was coming back in three days I'd be getting the party ready. MY DAUGHTER IS DEAD!  Dennis....shouldn't a sacrifice stay dead?"
Gulp....The minister apologized I never again quite looked at the resurrection and "sacrifice" of Jesus the same way myself.  Truth can be born out of utter pain and disillusionment 
I wonder now if it helped or hurt those who were facing final days who were not healed? Did it encourage them or discourage them since God did not intervene? Did they feel a lack of faith and blame themselves or is this simply one of life's disillusionments to deal with? People get sick and die. Some live long, some die young. None of us are getting out of here alive. Believe me, I have heard every explanation under the sun as to why God did or didn't do what he said so simply in James would happen. The fact is, every explanation is a simple need we have to explain why something so simple, simply didn't work.

I have quoted in sermons the financial promises "God" makes to those who give until it hurts, "good measure, pressed down and overflowing." I have noted that humans have "robbed God" of tithes and to give so that He might open the windows of heaven to the giver, and yet they simply end up with less income and worried about how to pay the bills. Again, the poor giver seems to take the heat for having little faith, patience or the ability to grasp that all of God's blessings aren't monetary. Yeah, that's the answer! "You have air don't you...why if God wanted, he could take the air away...sooooooooo." You know what I mean.
When God or the Bible  does not deliver, it's never God or the Bible's fault, it's our fault and we spend the next six weeks examining ourselves for bad attitudes, poor faith or misunderstanding the text as explained by apologists. I have even given church emergency help to those who gave too much of their income to "God". Does God really need income, or is this a organization thing?
In my denomination, members gave much to help the "poor" and often I ended up giving it back to those who gave it, so I guess they were blessed by the church in a round about way wit

h the occasional return of their own gifts to the church. But, in fact, giving to God or the Church of your choice is often just that, giving, with precious little to show for it in practical and real life returns. Oh I know we are not to give to get, but the promises of scripture plainly say we shall receive and the practical reality of it is disillusioning to say the least.

Try asking your church for financial help, in most cases, no matter how much you have given and see how far you get. "Why Mrs. Jones, if we did that for you, we'd have to do that for everyone, and we just can't. Don't you have some relatives you can call?" I always wondered if we are to give to and serve others so much, who are they supposed to give to and serve? Themselves it seems. If we are to esteem others BETTER than ourselves, what are all the others suppose to do?

Finally, there is the illusion of protection. While the Bible might boast of angels who watch and protect children and the idea that "a thousand shall fall (hey who protects them?) at thy right side and ten thousand at thy left, but it shall not come nigh unto thy dwelling," it is a disillusionment of epic proportions to believe. I have buried too many children whose lives ended because they made one bad mistake at just the wrong time, or were the victim of a moment out of their control. I've gotten too many calls to come quickly, so and so has been killed, and so and so never made it to 18.
Were "their angels" on strike or vacation? Is this the time where once again, God gets off the hook and reminds me that "all things work together for the good to those that love Him." Is this another time where I have to ask about who had faith and who didn't? Is it the fault of the human...again, that things did not work out so well? How come when it happens to a believer, it is Satan, with God's permission, trying to discourage them, and when it happens to a non-believer, it is God, trying to get in touch with them? It's all so disillusioning.
We all can come up with miraculous saves in life. I missed a plane that got hit by a fighter Jet out of LAX.  I missed head-ons somehow.  My Grandparents unbooked from the Titanic in April of 1912.  It's natural in a near miss to give credit to the miraculous.  But in my view, we often luck out in life and of course, so far.  I have scores of  sincere member stories of those who did not luck out.  
Time would fail, as would space to recite all the promises made to sincere believers by the writers of the Bible for their obedience, loyalty, belief and faith. I believe there is a book entitle "All the Promises of the Bible." After a lifetime of application, I suspect it is a list of disillusionments.

But...GOOD NEWS! DIS-illusionment is a good thing! Who wants illusions! In the long run, they are more painful,harmful and detrimental than reality, which is something we innately seem to wish to avoid at times as humans. I suspect even Jesus, who just knew that if he did his part and pushed the Romans hard enough to ignite the final confrontation at the Temple in Jerusalem, learned a lot in his final moments on the cross. I don't think he was kidding when he is said to have cried out, "My God, my God...why have your forsaken me?" I know the theology of that where we say "God had to turn his back on him" etc. 
The Kingdom did not come in the nick of time to save him. I think he died honestly disillusioned about his own perceptions, unless the line is simply for dramatic effect. I think the early disciples were pounded with their illusions about how things would be if they followed Jesus. One of the first reactions , is said ,  to flee and go home to catch fish again, like the whole thing never happened.
Every church member of the first century who was told "Soon", "The day is far spent", "Of things which must shortly come to pass," "Behold I come quickly" and we who sang 2000 years later "It won't be long now," have faced that kind of disillusionment .  
It's a lesson to live the present life you actually have and not 3-5, 10 or 20 at the outside years ahead only to get it right between the eyes again. 
The historical church, that grew out of the great dis-illusionment would go on to offer the now familiar apologetic we experience today as "The Church," with the best yet to come, always just around the corner, just ahead, in the near future, any time now for sure.
Life does what it does, not at times, but always. The experience of Disillusionment, while painful is necessary for our growth and when it comes knocking...let it in. It really does work for the good as the book says


Anonymous said...

I will be honest and say that I usually skip past Dennis' posts. Not because I have anything against Dennis as a former minister. It is simply a strong disagreement with Dennis' worldview. However. When I saw the topic was on being disillusioned, I thought it might be worth the read. And it was.

Because, in this article, he was very honest. He wasn't trying to force a viewpoint on this subject or that subject. He was simply stating thoughts of trying to reconcile his expectations versus his reality. No way I can fault him for that - because his experience was disillusionment.

I think all of us who experienced the Worldwide Church of God's theology in it's full and blunt weight and pressure can relate to this disillusionment. I think all of us can remember the promises we were told compared to the reality. I don't think any of us have gone without a moment of realization that, at the least, things never happened as we were told they were going to happen in the church. But we all kept hanging in there. We all kept hoping things would eventually materialize as promised. "Oh see? The Berlin wall fell. Here comes the United Germany. It's almost here!" . Or how about, "Oh, God has written his name on this city. Nothing bad can happen" - while a busload of church people were killed going to the Feast.

Disillusionment is as synonymous with the Worldwide Church of God as the festival sticker was to the Feast, or as grape juice for us was to the passover service. We've all experienced it, in small form or in big form. We've all questioned. We've all asked "Why". We've all shaken our heads and thought "How could this happen" - and that goes for both sides of the aisle, either those who went off in the direction of "The Changes", or those who took off to be with Flurry, Weinland, United, Pack, or any other of the hundreds of divisions in the land of "Together in Unity, so david can tell."

I guess that the one thing that the Worldwide experience has done for all of us since the 1995 "Hammer" split the rock was that we all were forced to use our brains to think, and we all were forced to make decisions, whether we wanted to or not - regardless of if we had the real life ability to do so or not. Good or bad, we were all completely disillusioned after 1995 in one way or another. And I think that will make this article ring home for all of us.

And now I can't get "It won't be long now" out of my head. And btw, as a little kid - I had the biggest crush on that Renae Bechthold girl who sang that song in the video with the lion. Man, I thought she was beautiful. The life of a WCG kid.

Near_Earth_Object said...

I will examine only one part of this that is fairly representative. Annointing for healing is found in James. There are some other ideas that veer away from Paul in James. Eusebius had doubts as to whether James belonged in the canon. I, in my personal reading, accord James a dubious station.

(David Koresh, like many Armstrongists, believed that only the KJV was a correct and inspired translation. Armstrongism added the idea that the KJV was done by "Israel" as a further credential.)

I think the direct answer to this dilemma is the book of Job. The book asserts that 1) there are events going on behind the scenes that we are not aware of 2) God's purposes may modify how how promises are met.

That's the closest I can come to a valid answer. It puzzles me, too.

Connie Schmidt said...

Ron Dart used to have an excellent saying..."Disillusionment is Good"

The reason was that to be "disillusioned" meant that your were practicing "illusions" and lying to yourself.

A "toast" therefore to disillusionment!

Allen Dexter said...

My disillusionment came long before 1995, twenty years prior as a matter of fact. It was traumatic but necessary. I agree with Dennis that disillusion is a good thing. Illusions get one nowhere. The journey to clarity was long and hard and it's still a work in progress. Clarity grows with the passing of time if you don't close your mind by accepting delusional certainties.

Hoss said...

The Berlin wall fell. Here comes the United Germany.

But then if HWA's original prophecies had been true, there never would have even been a Berlin Wall...

nck said...

Mar 1
She is in San Diego. Amazing women those eighties twens. When I bumped into a cog sep camp couple of years ago I was amazed at how modern those kids looked. For those who lived it, nothing beats the farah fawcett hairdo I guess.


Ed said...

I tithed to the WCG for 13 years. I can honestly say that it just made me more poor. The teaching of the any church that pushes its members to tithe, that if you tithe god will give you back more then the 10% you paid-in is nothing but b.s.. Yes there are the examples of people that started tithing getting pay raises at work shortly after they started tithing, ect. It is very likely that these people would have gotten these financial blessings even if they didn't give a penny to their church. There are financial rewards to wise financial planning and simply working hard. This is many times mistaken for "god is blessing me" when it is simply the result of your own hard work and effort.

Anonymous said...

I am very disillusioned with the state of the Churches of God in 2018 but not disillusioned with God.
I have found the human ran COG movement dissilusioning but God has never let me down. I separate the two and I have strongly suspected over the years many others do too. I endure the disillusion and wait on God.

Anonymous said...

I became disillusioned when I realized that what was taught as biblical morality was simply bully morality with religious window dressing.

Anonymous said...

You would think the Creator would be disillusioned by now concerning His Creative efforts. A third of His angels turned against Him, Adam and Eve said "No thank you", Cain didn't learn any thing from his parents. His creation got so bad He had to start all over using the Flood. His chosen people continually fell short and had to be sent into captivity. The religious teachings He gave were totally perverted by the Pharisees. His Son's apostles deserted Christ and His message was mostly rejected by His chosen people. His Church was to be hunted down or ignored. And upon Christ return the world will fight Him to their death.

The Creator you would think would be disillusioned with the creation.

Byker Bob said...

What has amazed me is the extent to which our personal “defects” are in reality strengths that are perhaps just a little less common or typical of the rest of humanity. I first began to realize this when reading an article written by the mother of a Downs Syndrome child, who recognized unique abilities in her son. Then my understanding expanded into the skill sets of those with varying degrees of autism. By osmosis, I gradually realized that the Axis II personaliy disorders that had been inflicted upon me by my WCG childhood had given me the ability to focus on my work in a way that people who have the innate and natural need to get close to people are not able to do. Superficial relationships do not automatically preclude good ethics and morality in the treatment of others.

Becoming undisillusioned often involves a simple reassessment of the hand of cards we have each been dealt, and a resolve to take and use those cards pragmatically, and in as advantageous a way possible. That also flows well with the parable of the talents that anonymous talent dude keeps reminding us about.


Anonymous said...

Anon 8:18 That angle you express is dangerous and wrong. God's Ways are not our ways. God's thoughts soar higher than ours. God has given promises for the furture of those who love Him. God is not limited by our feeble view of life.

Allen Dexter said...

I agree with BB. Negative aspects of my early life have given me some personality traits that can be advantageous and often have been. We're all a unique blend of inherited traits and proclivities that were programmed into us by upbringing and life experiences. I can understand some of the factors involved, but much goes beyond total analyzation. Sometimes, I wish there really was an afterlife in which we could sort some of this stuff out, but I long ago gave up on the certainty of such a mythological hope.

Anonymous said...

Believing in people leads to disillusionment. That's because the jerk genes have yet to be eradicated from the gene pool. The problem is not the system; it's the selfish greedy dirt-bags and their DNA. No system can fix that, and neither can conversion or the "holy spirit" which are just figments of the imagination.

Anonymous said...

The Jesus in the story knew he would be back in three days. God knew he would raise him in three days better than ever.

Well, it depends what version you hear. Another contradiction. On the one hand, Jesus was sure he would make it. On the other hand, there was a chance he could fail, otherwise he would have no "free moral agency". So which is it? Take your pick I guess.

Anonymous said...

12.55 PM
Your scripture "Gods ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than ours.." has been twisted and weaponized by the Gestapo ministers. It is (mis)used by the ministers to discard and invalidate members character and understanding. Hence members should ditch their minds and blindly believe and obey their ministers.

What God means by "My ways are not your ways, and are higher than yours" is simply the ten commandments. Nothing more. Contrast this with the ministers ways of deceit, threats, brainwashing, verbal violence, blackmail, tyranny and every other abusive cult technique.

Christ asked 'will I find faith (belief in the ten commandments) on My return?"
The answer is no, not among the ministers.

Anonymous said...

10:10 To define Faith as belief in the ten commandments is a straw man's argument. It is rampant where apostacy dwells.
In my experience the ones who portray themselves as liberal are the most evil hearted, sly, corrupt and cruel.

DennisCDiehl said...

Anon said "What God means by "My ways are not your ways, and are higher than yours" is simply the ten commandments. Nothing more."

I suspect it is a lot more. The phrase has indeed been used as the ultimate putdown to any ideas any human might come up with contrary to Biblical topics and conclusions. It is used by every church when needed just as "the fool has said in his heart there is no God," "the wisdom of man if foolishness with God" and such is used when a good discussion is out of the question.

And too... These comments are not actually made audibly by any god and is not a direct quote from heaven heard by humans. It is what the priests write about their perceptions of what they imagine God would say at such times. Thus saith the Lords are merely impressions in the mind of those who feel they have an inside line in their heads.

Paul goes to great length to tell us he was taken to the third heaven and saw unspeakable things which of course he did not speak or bother to try and explain. He wanted you to know he was special. He probably could not tell you about it because it never happened in time or space. It happened in his head just as the voice and vision of Jesus calling him was in his head and hallucinatory. We don't trust those things today much. When Dave Pack , Gerald Flurry or Ron Weinland come up with such nonsense, most are not going to believe them nor will it come to pass.

At any rate, "My ways are not your ways" as merely the 10 Commandments is too small a view of what the authors meant. It is used to answer many questions about God's brutality, genocidal tendencies, the Flood and how the OT portrays many "God is Love" events

Anonymous said...

In Isa 55.7 it says 'let the wicked forsake his way', so the expression in Isa 55.8 about Gods way being higher than mans is in reference to morality. An examination of the context shows this. The expression 'Gods way' appears 45 times in the bible, and when the contexts are considered, again they refer to Gods moral code. Not your 'genocidal tendencies' and similar.

Your comment of "perceptions of what they imagine God would say" and 'Paul's voice ..and vision was hallucinatory' and 'too small a view' all sound like a throw back to 1960s hippy talk. Pass the joint around.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous March 2, 2018 at 6:15 PM quoted Dennis saying: "..The Jesus in the story knew he would be back in three days. God knew he would raise him in three days better than ever."

Well, it depends what version you hear. Another contradiction. On the one hand, Jesus was sure he would make it. On the other hand, there was a chance he could fail, otherwise he would have no "free moral agency". So which is it? Take your pick I guess.

Where did that "..there was a chance he could fail.." come from?

Based upon something in Isaiah I suspect He, Jesus, would not fail:

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

Verse 4 says that He shall not fail.

And free moral agency for Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ said of Himself:

"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
John 6:38

And at another earlier time: "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:34

A pawn furthers the purpose of another. Jesus Christ was like a perfect Pawn, not some robot, to The God (John 1:1): His Father.

"But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." I Cor 8:6


Anonymous said...

Dennis - I agree totally that disillusionment is good. It replaced self-loathing when I was disillusioned about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, fruits of the Spirit, etc. People in the COG loath themselves, as I often did, when they "mess up" or "fall short." I know several people who were so desperate that they thought that getting re-baptized would fix everything, and when it didn't they became even more desperate. Now that I'm convinced that none of us actually have the Holy Spirit in us, the self-loathing disappeared. It also helped me realize how scummy the "ministry" really is and do not deserve the respect they claim.

Byker Bob said...

One thing I often wondered about, 1:26, is how would we even know the difference? We were born in a nation that is known for having a large Christian presence, or at least that is the way the majority of the citizens still self-identify. And, we were not around prior to the Pentecost following Jesus' sacrifice, so we don't know what humans were like before the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Most of the people whom I know are guided by good intentions, and are considerate of others and their needs. We seem to have strong consciences and to innately know right from wrong. The USA has been known, overall, as being an international beacon of goodness throughout our lifetimes and recent history. Is it possible that all of us today are guided by the Holy Spirit, but that some choose to repress and not to listen? And, admittedly, there is that huge problem we've all witnessed in the perverted and distorted shepherdship within Armstrongism. Plainly, anti-Christian values were taught by our former church, and members were manipulated by having been instilled with this self-loathing that we all experienced. The Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We can't love others if the ministers have made us hate ourselves, but we can certainly get jacked around by them as they exploit what they planted within us.

Just some thoughts. I'm not saying that what I just described is any sort of universal truth.


Anonymous said...

3.37 AM
Any fool can citicize, as the expression goes. So why not enlighten us with your definition of faith.

Dennis Diehl said...

That is my definition 1029

Anonymous said...

I posted 3:37 comment and I don't have to answer to you because your clearly bitter.

Anonymous said...

I made the 3.37 comment anon 10.29 and one person's fool is another person's genius. one person's criticism is another person's truth.

Anonymous said...

6.28 AM
Asking for your definition of faith is a very reasonable question. Why won't you answer it?