Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't Confuse Me With the Faith..I Mean Facts..No, Faith...Awww I Forget

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Don't Confuse Me With the Faith..I Mean Facts..No, Faith...Awww I Forget

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorYou can't unring a bell. You can't unsee what you do see. How do you keep them home on the farm, once they have seen Paree? There's no turning back. Did I say you can't unring a bell?

Recently I wandered through the topics being offered for a large ministerial conference of my former peers. While typically the first topic of concern was, as expected, "
The Offering as Worship, the other topics were not all that informative on the topic of the actual Bible. When a ministry is made up of Bible readers, you can generally skip the seminar on "A Scripture can never mean what it never meant."

There was one workshop where one might ask questions on theology to the one man provided to answer them for you, but I suspect the questions were rather light and foofy unless the group wanted to probe the depths of the nature of the Trinity or just what plan B may have been for God with
Adam and Eve, mostly Eve, mucking up the works. Other than that, I am fairly sure a good hard question about the Bible that was not on the official list of acceptable topics for public disclosure was off limits. One certainly would not wish to become labeled as "he who asks too many hard questions." That would endanger your career. I would be reminded of the Wizard of ID being questioned by a commoner and being told, "well with ideas like that, you're really going to go up in this Kingdom." The next scene you see the commoner standing at the bottom step of the gallows with he hangman saying, "Up you go there buddy."

Long story, but I have managed to outgrow my church and I was the pastor. Not the one of my youth, which was Presbyterian, but the one I moved on to in my youth thinking it was more real and then gave almost three decades of my life to it. In time, nuther long story, they reinvented the wheel and insisted I return to my rather Presbyterian roots taking me full circle. I realized my love affair with organized religion and true churches was over. Nuther long story.

The tribe does not have much use for stray dogs. They either domesticate them for their convenience or they eat them.

In my personal journey through a very sincere belief that I was correct in my Biblical perspectives as a pastor, I have gone from believing in the "God breathed" inerrancy of the Book, to an eyes wide open understanding that the Bible is neither all that Holy, "the greatest Book ever written and full of errors, bad science, implausible accounts and many contradictions. I find my self marveling at the hours spent by sincere pastors straining to understand how the sins of Adam and Eve impact our lives today and place us all under the cloud of
Original Sin and the need for blood atonement to make it all good again. The simple answer for me is now that the evolution of humans is good science and that the idea that any literal first humans called Adam and Eve is ludicrous. I"m almost ashamed of myself for taking so long to figure this out with the love of science I have always had but strained for decades to place it all in the context of Bible literalism, which can't really be done well...Ok, at all.

Since there was no literal Adam and Eve (and no, the creation of humans is not a mere 6000 years ago either), there was no literal sin for which everyone forever more after has to be cleansed from by the blood of a dying God/Man. The fact that there has been a score or more dying God/men in history, all of whom were born on December 25th, were tempted to fail, rose to the occasion, were betrayed, pierced and lay in the grave for three days and three nights only to be born again is pretty darn common. While some may love to "Tell the old old story of unseen things above...", they are not aware of just how old the story is or how it really did originate above in the stars.

The fact that this story of the
Son of God and his 12 disciples is the same story as the SUN of God moving with it's 12 zodiacal signs over one year is something one never wants to notice or bring up. The fact is that SUN worship is THE origin of SON worship and all religion as we know it. The fact that the word "Galilee" means "circuit" is no coincidence. Jesus of the Galilee the Circuit is not much different than the trip taken by the Sun traveling around the circuit of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. They are both round trips from December 25th and back again with all of the same experiences in their ministry occurring right on cue. Great stuff, but let's move on.
Along with this, realizing that the miraculous events of the OT were mostly borrowed from older non
Israelite mythologies, Prophets and Priests wove the tales far later than the stories imply and the real history of how the Bible came to be and "Houston...we've got a problem." At least I have a problem with using the not literally true texts to tell sincere humans how to literally be, think and do after coming to see what I can't unsee. Remember, you can't unring a bell nor return to the farm.

But where does one fit when the tribe has no use for you and stepping outside the box is going to have it's consequences? I'm amazed, yet should not be, of the phenomenal loss of "friends" one experiences when bells ring and lights go on. It's the price one pays for being unable to stay stuck in something you learn along the way is not as one has been told. Few go with you. some talk about you and all ignore you forever more.

The best I can come up with is that you become more of your authentic self...something organized religion is loathe to have you do in the first place. Churches and Priesthoods generally want followers, compliers and sheep. Ministers may seem to pride themselves in allowing for questions, but they are easy questions to answer because when all is said and done, one can claim that "God says it, I believe it. That does it for me" and put the ball back in the court of the reprobate questioner. If all else fails, the one who questions can be told "there is a way that seems right to a man, but the way thereof ends in death," or "God sees not as a man sees," or "The wisdom of God is foolishness with man," and thus all his questions can be dismissed. Of course, these putdowns don't answer the original questions, but they send the message that one is not even smart enough to ask the right ones. The cure for being "one who questions" may be everything from prayer and fasting to get the attitude straightened out to "how 'bout we sit out of church a few weeks and think about our relationship to Jesus." Either way, "he who questions loses." The Church and God always win in such cases.

So after  you outgrow your church, organized religion or the literalism of one's childhood
Sunday School lessons, what is the purpose of one's life? Since Churches tell us that salvation through the blood of a dying God/man is the purpose of life, but now one has no confidence in that, what's the point? While I now can stay home from church and save a whopping ten percent, I'd still like to find meaning in life beyond being a food tube that eventually dies.

One of the many meme's of organized religion is that human beings are evil, nasty and worms in God's site. Their hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked to the point of total mistrust. We are sin personified in nasty flesh and worthy of nothing but death, at best. Let's get right to the truth of the matter.

You and I are just fine. We are who we are and it's your goal in life to get to know yourself and who YOU are. We are all unique parts of the same one thing. It's not our goal or to our advantage to believe that we are to become someone else or follow the life, perspectives or world view of someone else. That ruse has restrained and constrained human-becomings for way too long on the planet. The "you're not good enough," meme is a set up for allowing others to control you with fear, guilt and shame to their advantage every time.

The goal in life is to get to know your own unique self. It's a troublesome process as there are more than enough others who feel you need to get to know and be like others who are less defective and wormlike than yourself. Don't fall for it. Nursing homes are full of people who would give anything to have another shot at being themselves. But that goes back in another way to not being able to unring a bell.

Making Yourself "Pure" on the Ambassador Campus

Harvest Rock Church,the owners of the Ambassador Auditorium is a charismatic 'church' that is seen by some as another personality cult. It is deeply centered around it's leader Che Ahn who has his minions at his beckon call just like Herb did.  Some of the  people you come in contact with there are truly weird and downright creepy! 

Ex-Armstrongites that have visited their services have gotten to see first-hand the speaking in tongues, people 'pogoing' where they jump endless in place for long periods of time, people 'slain in the spirit' where they either fall rigidly to the floor and stay that way for an hour or longer, or fall down thrashing about flailing their arms and legs.  One person that visited during one of their conference said that the entire lower lounge was filled with people 'slain in the spirit' writhing and moaning on the carpet.  Others get whipped into such a frenzy that they start barking like dogs, or they have uncontrollable fits of laughter.  Then there are the folks that are 'drunk' with the holy spirit to the point they can hardly stand up and stumble about laughing and slurring their words like happy drunks.

If anyone thought Armstrongism was weird these people are FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR worse!

Checkout this video filmed on the campus with some of HRC's young people taking a 'purity' pledge in front of the old Mayfair dorm. None of them look too excited to be there.  If these kids only knew what went on inside that dorm during the College days they would run like hell the other direction!  That building was certainly NOT the bastion of purity and wholesomeness!

But then, I must have forgotten, that HRC folks 'purified' the Ambassador grounds before they moved in.  They went around the property pouring anointing oil on the sidewalks and on the buildings to expel the evil spirits of Armstrongism and purify the property. They also poured salt into the Auditorium lake to expel the demons that occupied it as well as poured anointed oil around the perimeter of the Auditorium.

The Washington Post has a great article on how ineffective 'Purity Pledges' are: Pre-marital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective

Armstrong and the Church of God Cult

The Doctrine of Death

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Soul Touched By Armstrongism (And Not In A Good Way!)

I have hesitated posting this because it has been getting so much press lately.  But heck, anything I can post here that gets Watchman in a dither I will do it!  :-)

Bobby Fischer: another sad legacy of Armstrongism.

Fischer was invited to Ambassador College do do a chess seminar. Once there he got caught up in the mire of Armstrongism.  He was already having lots of life issues and mental health issues. Fischer's problems only multiplied the longer he stayed in contact with Armstrongism.

Harry Sneider, former Ambassador College PE Department  trainer has his take on Fischer in this The Journal article.

Ambassador Reports had this information about him in it's first magazine issues

Chess Champion Bobby Fischer had quite a lot to say about
the Armstrongs. In an interview with the Ambassador Report
editor, Fischer said, "I was trying to buy God." From 1967
through 1974 he gave a total of $94,315 to the Worldwide Church
of God. In 1972, the year he won his championship by defeating
Soviet champion Boris Spassky, he donated $61,200 to the Church.
He said, "This idea of Herbert's that you can't trust your own
thoughts - that's the key doctrine that I think has to be blasted
out. I would say that if there's one thing that is the whole
essence of Armstrongism, that is it. That's how he screws up your
mind, that's how he hangs on to people." He said further
regarding Armstrong's prophetic failure, that the Church would be
taken to safety in 1972, "Like the Bible says, when a prophet
makes prophecies that don't come true, then that guy is not of
God and you don't have to be afraid of him. Yet Church members
are afraid of him (HWA), and he's failed umpteen times. This guy,
Armstrong, in terms of religion, is the world's biggest loser....
But I was really upset in 1972 when Herbert Armstrong refused to
apologize. He could have just apologized and said, 'I became
overly enthusiastic. I wanted Christ to return so badly.
Everything seemed to fit. Please excuse me. I won't do that
Fischer had not become disillusioned with God, but as he
came to realize that his relationship with Christ was a spiritual
one and was not dependent on massive contributions to a
self-proclaimed apostle, he did become disillusioned with Herbert
Armstrong. He said, "Herbert Armstrong has a way with words. You
know, he seems so sincere. He has all the right principles:
dedication, hard work, perseverance, never giving up. He's
dogged: he's persistent. You know, from reading his stuff and
listening to his sermons, you'd think he was very interested in
God. But when you meet him personally, there is nothing there at
all. I find Armstrong to be an egomaniac. He sitteth in the
temple of God saying great things as if he were God. He
apparently wants to leave his permanent mark on all he comes in
contact with and can bring into submission. He is simply a madman
who would love to rule the world."

(Obviously with the fame Bobby Fisher had, as the world's "chess
champion," he had met HWA, and you've just heard what he said,
"'d think he was very interested in God, But when you meet him
personally, there is nothing there at all." --- That says it all.
If you ever meet me, and I do have a little fame of sorts from
this Website, I hope you'll never be able to say such words as
Fisher said about HWA - Keith Hunt)

He gave over ninety thousand of dollars to to the church.  This was a time that Armstrongism was using it's two celebrity "member's" as tools for better publicity.  They were also exploiting Dan Truitte from the Sound of Music.  GTA was trumpeting him out during the America Listen's Campaigns.

He got arrested by the Pasadena Police Department and shares his tale of woe here: I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse

He renounced his US citizenship, and was delighted when the World Trade Center was attacked. He despised Israel and the Jews.

Instead of playing tournaments, Fischer retreated to the protective cocoon of the Worldwide Church of God, an apocalyptic cult that predicted the end of the world every four to seven years and whose members tithed up to 30 percent of their income. Such protection came at a steep price. It was reported that out of his $200,000 income that year he donated $61,200 to the WCG. "They cleaned out my pockets," he later said. "Now my only income is a few royalty checks from my books. I was really very foolish." To show its appreciation for such a generous contribution, the WCG treated Fischer almost as if he were the very deity the Church's members had been waiting for. He lived in WCG-owned apartments, was entertained at fancy restaurants, and flew to exotic spots in the Church's private jet. And Fischer was set up on the first dates of his life, with attractive WCG members. A fellow WCG member, Harry Sneider, says that this hedonistic lifestyle had a detrimental effect on Fischer: "He got pampered and got a lot of attention. It made him soft."

Fischer's relationship with the WCG, like all the others in his life, didn't last. In 1977, after a bitter falling-out that led Fischer to claim that the WCG was taking its orders from a "satanical secret world government," he cut all ties with the Church. Then he crawled even further into his own netherworld. He began dressing like a hobo. He took up residence in seedy hotels. He began worrying about the purity of his bodily fluids. He bought great quantities of exotic herbal potions, which he carried in a suitcase, to stave off the toxins he feared might be secretly put in his food and water by Soviet agents. According to a 1985 article in Sports Illustrated, Fischer medicated himself with such esoteric remedies as Mexican rattlesnake pills ("good for general health") and Chinese healthy-brain pills ("good for headaches"). His suitcase also contained a large orange-juice squeezer and lots and lots of vitamins. He always kept the suitcase locked, even when he was staying with friends. "If the Commies come to poison me, I don't want to make it easy for them," he explained to a friend. Perhaps the most telling sign of his rapid mental deterioration was that he insisted on having all his dental fillings removed. "If somebody took a filling out and put in an electronic device, he could influence your thinking," Fischer confided to a friend. "I don't want anything artificial in my head."

The low point of Fischer's California sojourn came on May 26, 1981, when two Pasadena police officers stopped him for an ID check. By then he had unkempt hair, a scraggly beard, and tattered clothes, and looked like an aging hippie down on his luck. He also generally fit the description of a man who had recently committed two bank robberies in the neighborhood. He refused to answer questions and was taken to jail, where he spent forty-eight hours. "All he had to do was tell the police he was Bobby Fischer, the chess player, and the whole thing would have been over," a friend says. "But he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Submitting to authority is a foreign concept to Bobby." A year later Fischer privately published a fourteen-page pamphlet titled "I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse!" The pamphlet, which became a surprise best seller in chess shops across the country, is a melodramatic account of Fischer's confinement. The subheadings say it all: "Brutally Handcuffed." "Choked." "Isolation & Torture." "Sick Cop." The Atlantic

Top 12 Fun Facts About WCG/Armstrongism

Check out Benjamin Grant Mitchell's blog for his top 12 Fun Facts about Armstrongism in all it's wacky glory!

Plates Shift, Fire Flows, Waters Surge.....And Its Not God

Plates Shift, Fire Flows, Waters Surge.....And Its Not God

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorIn the COG's, as with all Christian Fundamentalism, whenever there are major hurricanes, volcanoes, a day of tornadoes, earthquakes, storms, hail, drought, fire and frogs upon the is God trying (does God have to try?) to tell us all something. We don't think that the God that can verbalize.... "I blasted you with blight and mildew [from too much rain]. When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to Me,' says the Lord" (Amos 4:9) could also say:

"Hello, I am God, I'm here in person because it's really important we have a talk. I want you to be happier than this so let's have a chat and I'd be happy to answer any and all questions you might have about why and how and when anytime. Now if you are a fundamentalist I will ask you let others who don't know all the answers be allowed to ask their questions first..."

But alas, God only threatens humans, and always does it through the minds, voices in the heads of, and observations of mortal humans who think they know. All that a Bible literalist can say is that God "could" do it that way, but he chooses not to. I say that something that important deserves clear and concise communication with humans and to definitely not leave us with so much doubt and confusion.

The same God who "spanked" nations and empires in centuries past is still very much in charge. He says, "For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6) And as we will see, God is punishing us through various natural disasters. Even as our personal and national sins are increasing, so are floods, tornadoes, severe snowstorms and earthquakes. Thus, many of today's so-called "acts of God" are, in fact, just that-the active intervention of Almighty God. And it is just beginning. Natural calamities are going to get much worse unless we as a nation repent and turn to the true God in heartfelt obedience. Roderick Meredith-Who Controls the Weather.

On the other hand...

Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.

But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.

Weather, especially as observed by the superstitious and uneducated, either by choice or circumstances has always been the tool of the angry God of history who is "trying" to get mankind's attention before He simply has to destroy him once and for all. So much for the idea that after man's creation, "behold it was very good." The Deity needs to make up his mind about us or rethink His original design. It's not our fault! Perhaps we are the one proof of Unintelligent Design....

All through human history, the weather has puzzled humans. Lightning was the result of some activity of the gods. Zeus threw it around at his enemies and his voice was the thunder. Baal was the rain god to whom allegiance must be pledged or there would be drought. is this superstitious use of natural cycles and phenomenon of weather that is still being used to beat and drive people fear- ridden into the arms of waiting churches and pastors who will motivate their loyalty with the same tirades of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who we know were mistaken not a few times.

Listen very carefully. Weather is weather. One more time - Weather is weather. It's normal and natural. It is NOT a Deity doing its BEST to get in touch. That idea is simply leftover from a time when men did not understand the forces that governed their world and assigned them meaning that worked at that time, but is NOT the way to motivate sincere humans who have enough on their plate learning to coexist with what is.
Hurricanes always happen where they are prone to happen based on natural cycles and conditions generated by the planet. The SE United States has a coastal profile that shows how many millions of years this erosion has been going on - quite naturally and I dare say before humans ever spent a night in the SE United States. Back then, I suppose Cat. 5 Hurricanes were not tools the gods had thought of using to get the wildlife to come to their senses.

The SE United States has a coastal profile that shows how many millions of years this erosion has been going on - quite naturally and I dare say before humans ever spent a night in the SE United States. Back then, I suppose Cat. 5 Hurricanes were not tools the gods had thought of using to get the wildlife to come to their senses.

Volcanoes are very natural and are not tools of the gods. They just are the natural result of plate tectonics as are earthquakes. Unfortunately, when humans live on their slopes, or where plates shift, or where tornadoes form, or droughts are wont to occur, we have to find a reason other than the simple fact that we are living in harms way that for the most part does not visit us. I feel deeply for the suffering that all must be going through in New Orleans after this recent hurricane Katrina. But we also have to know that EVERYONE knew that if this ever happened... then this would happen!

When a city or house sits on the sand or in a bowl 20 feet below sea level, next to the sea, someday it will find itself in deep trouble as the normal forces on this planet play out their dance.

The citizens of Herculaneum at the foot of Vesuvius learned this the hard way as well. Today one can see the casts left of where humans died, in detail, covered by the ash that so quickly ended their lives. It's nice to live on the coast with beautiful beaches. It's nice to live at the foot of cone shaped mountains with incredibly fertile soil. It's nice to live in the Midwest United States and grow corn. It's nice to live in Southern California....ok, it used to be nice, or Hawaii, or in the Ring of Fire. But when the earth, which has it's own maintenance system does what it does, there is a chance humans might somewhere find themselves in harms way. It is just that simple. Reaching out to explain natural phenomenon, humans have always imagined the motives of the gods for bringing such things upon them and taking natural processes way too personally. We do this because humans have consciousness they have to work with. Consciousness makes us ask "why us?" Animals don't tend to wonder about such things at their level of consciousness.

We know this and I suspect you know this too, but our superstitious natures combined with believing the Bible speakers must be really really speaking for a real God who does such things, gets in the way of our common sense and vastly improved understanding of such things. We still can't let the facts of what humans know in 2005 AD override the sacred texts of thousands of years gone by. In our heads we know that science has shown us a better way to view things, but in our hearts we just can't let go of the Act of God attitude.

Volcanoes were the homes of the gods for most of human history. Volcanoes are impressive. And we are so very small in relation to them. Earthquakes were the shaking of the earth by the gods. Hail was the throwing of rocks at mankind by the gods. Droughts, quite normal on the planet in their cycles, come and go, but in most of human thinking were the gods way of getting even or pounding humanity into obedient submission. I suspect the priesthood has something to do with the interpretation of events even then.

The assigning of a wrong theological meaning to a natural event for the way the planet works, is a serious mistake in our fundamentalist society. It misleads and frightens people into behaviors that are not helpful and beliefs that are not true.

I'm reminded of some of the biting humor of Sam Kineston who noted that people in the Sudan, starving and standing in nothing but blowing sand did not need food and water...they needed luggage....they needed to mooooooooooooove! as he would yell.

I would also be more impressed with the "Ten Plagues" of the Exodus story were they not common phenomenon to the region. If you have ever been to the Middle East, plagues of flies, frogs, lice, cattle diseases and such are part of normal daily life at times. Water to blood, not so much, but that's another story. And of course killing firstborn was a way of life in one sacrificial form or another in that day and time. Nothing really all that special.

Now if one is to be really impressive let them be:

1. The plague of Polar Bears
2. The plague of Eastern Diamondback Rattle Snakes
3. The plague of angry Kangaroos and Dingoes
4. The plague of LA Smog
5. The plague of biting Chimps
6. The plague of South American Capybara
7. The plague of South Carolina Humidity
8. The plague of being forced to listen to a sermon in LCG, PCG, RCG, okay even WCG, but   I suspect that sermon would be very nicey nicey!
9. The plague of a Buffalo, NY Blizzard
10. The plague of ..... ummmm, well you make one up...
Making religious plagues out of common local phenomenon is not very plaguey. It's just more dramatic every day stuff and the things the locals are aware of in their small world.

Through the pages of the Bible we are told that God will bless those who obey Him, with rain in due season and abundant harvests and peace in the land (Lev. 26:3-6, Deut. 28:12). In fact, we're told that because of obedience to God, our blessings will actually "overtake" us (Deut. 28:1-2). Conversely, we are told that if we disobey God, he will negatively affect the weather; withholding rain (Zech. 14:16-17) and even His "tender mercies" - which can include his protection (Ps. 40:11). God promises to punish the world and the wicked for their evil -- even shaking the heavens (Isa. 13:13). From the writings of King David, we understand that God will chasten or correct those that He loves. David requested that God "remove" His plague (or punishment) from him (Ps. 39:10). Ibid

Yes, this is true, the Bible does say these things. But they are not really true just because the bible says so and this is where the fighting starts in the minds of most. We simply have a terrible time getting past the idea that ideas about why things are as they are, or have occurred as they have occurred as seen through the eyes of people from past ages, uneducated in how things really work on the planet and long dead, are wrong.

We forget that the same book calls a bat a bird (Lev. 11:13-19, and yes, I know the apologetics) and tells us the sun functions from "it's rising in the East until it's setting in the West," is simply wrong. (Ever notice how all "unclean" animals are middle eastern animals or simply those known to the locals? They left a lot of things off the list I might not choose to eat on other parts of the planet, had they known there were other people and parts of the planet.)

Of course these things appear to be so, but the authors had no clue that a bat was a mammal and not a bird and I guess he never looked. I suspect had they ever seen one, a flying squirrel, or snakes that glide from tree to tree, might also have made the bird list. And, of course, they had no clue the earth rotated, or the planet was not the center of the solar system. This little scientific correction would cost some their lives.
So here we have the "God loves us so much he has to spank us when we go astray" mind virus. It is a mantra we simply say when we aren't thinking. A repeat of a meme that has been pumped into our being when bad things happen to people.

So from the Bible we learn weather is ....

A. Not natural but attention getters from the Deity.

B. Inflicted upon mankind because God loves us so much yet can't take the time to personally chat with us without all the drama. God has few counseling tools at his disposal so simply throws tantrums to get our attention.

C. You ain't seen nothing yet, so stay tuned to our literature and presiding evangelist.

D. Proof positive that, once again, Jesus is almost ready to return in YOUR lifetime.

E. Don't try to explain it and don't ask questions about "why does the Deity treat us this way" because He's in world of think all his own and you are never going to get a straight answer in your lifetime. This is simply a human conclusion when, as conscious human beings, we tend to need to find reasons beyond "you were just in the wrong place when natural phenomenon occurred." It is not, in fact, the truth of how life works. It's difficult to say..."I guess I should not have built my house upon the sand."

F. But don't worry. It's all part of a big plan and it's all going to work out just fine and we'll all live happily ever after once we get with the program, which I just happen to have for you, come join our happy throng and bring a 10% down payment - to bless our work.

You'll learn that it's mostly God, but sometimes Satan who controls the weather though the little stuff is just weather. Oh no, how do we tell the difference? I also have wondered if a Cat. 3 storm is from God to teach us a lesson, or does He only speak through Cat 4 and 5? Or if a volcano erupts in a remote area, is that just for fun, or is it considered a near miss? How many have to die in a natural cycle drought before it's not just a drought but a warning. When it rains again and life goes on as before, is it because the Deity gave up on trying to change their evil ways and said "oh heck, let it rain, I've go to go bash some Europeans into obedience because I love them."?

Ok, what's the point? I fully understand those who adopt the idea that "God said it, I believe it, that does it for me." That is how we have been so deeply programmed. We shudder to even think that anything in the Bible might simply not be accurate or true or relevant. We can't wrap our minds around the idea that Ezekiel or the prophets were just humans, perhaps fairly normal, perhaps traumatized by the collapse of their temple worship cult, perhaps a bit daft or clinically unbalanced or not really inspired by some Deity of the day. It feels blasphemous to even consider the idea that prophecy is not really prophecy and or that what might be has no relevance to us today. I fully understand the reaction to taking a different view and challenging the mind virus that is such a part of our theological mindset. I simply believe that humans, who struggle to give meaning to every event in life on this planet, often assign it the wrong meaning and do as much harm to the human spirit and mind as natural phenomenon can do to us when we get in the way.

I also have grown to take exception with those who fill their coffers, pad their nests and boast their own egos with fear tactics that they have long since stopped realizing they are doing. It becomes such a habit to motivate the faithful with the "signs of the times" that one gets locked into doing it every time bad things happen to basically good people. Within HOURS of a natural disaster, meaning from the gods is assigned to the event and the conclusions are sent out post haste to motivate the faithful. After all, timing is everything in religious motivation techniques.

So... Who Controls the Weather? I guess it depends on what one needs to believe to better bring order to their world. That has always been the case in all of human history. No rain=God is mad at us. Rain=God is happy with us. Sunshine and cool breezes=God is happy with us. Cat 4 or better hurricane=Uh oh, God is mad at us and this is a spanking, you ain't seen nothing yet, Jesus is coming soon, write for our free booklets, join our church, now your are protected and see it all works out nicely.

There is a Buddhist proverb that seems to sum up nicely what one tends to learn in the course of a normal life.
When I was young, mountains were just mountains, rivers were just rivers and trees were just trees.
But then I was told that mountains are not JUST mountains, and rivers are not JUST rivers, and trees are not JUST trees.

But now that I am older, I know, that mountains are just mountains, rivers are just rivers and trees are just trees...

And I know it bites at our core sometimes with all the background we have had in Bible prophecy, the tribulation, vials, plagues, trumpets and the scenarios of the Second Coming, but in fact, and whether or not we understand is just weather. We live on a planet with natural meteorological and geological process that sometimes put our puny selves in harms way.

May we all find a way to extend comfort and help to those who need it and are in pain and afraid for their own futures. And may those so inclined to assign meaningless meanings to motivate the faithful, please stop and think for a change. Whether you understand or whether you do not - understand Weather or the planet we call just happens.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Construction on the Ambassador Pasadena Campus

In the on again, off again, struggle to redevelop the old Ambassador Campus in Pasadena, it now looks like City Ventures may soon start demolition and building this spring.  Time will tell though as countless other adventures have all fallen through.  Dorn Platz, who bought the property from WCG around 2004/5 lost the property about a year and half ago when it was repossessed by the Fortress Investment Group (hedge fund) that originated Dorn Platz's loans.

City Ventures paid $15,000,000 for the property which included the upper campus; Academic Center and gardens, Olcott and TV studios, Merritt mansion, Terrace Villa, Mayfair and gardens, and the Library.  The Hall of Ad is part of a separate lot that is still for sale. The Hall of Ad was part of the original buildings scheduled to be demolished and replaced for a high end retirement/senior center..  The Harvest Rock church is using it when it is not being used for film shoots.

City Ventures paid way more for just a part of the property than WCG ever received for the entire property.

The houses are on the market for well over a million dollars each.  Seventy town houses are scheduled to be built first.

Silly Heathens! Mooning Is Commanded!

Malm is on another of his legalistic old covenant benders today:  Paying homage to the new moon.

HOW SHOULD WE OBSERVE THE NEW MOON DAY?  We are commanded to begin each month with special sacrifices to consecrate that month on the New Moon day.  Today we go to the Father with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Church organizations and independents should hold bible studies on the New Moon day and should pray to our Father through our sacrifice thanking him for the blessings of the previous month and asking him to bless us with his spirit and increasing understanding, wisdom, knowledge and blessings durimg the coming month. 
So should a person who follows Jesus observe new moons?

Even one of Armstrongism's biggest propaganda/apology sites says Christians should NOT be keeping New Moons: Are Believers Required to Observe New Moons?

But nowhere in the Bible is there a command from God that we in this present age are to observe new moons! There is no such command and that is why articles which assert that we are to observe new moons today are never able to quote a specific command from God. New moons simply don't feature amongst the commanded assemblies of God.

Furthermore, where does God say that on the new moon kings should have special meals, national leaders should address major problems, and those of military service age should be mustered?


The new moons are not at all like Sabbath days! The very word "Sabbath" is an intensive form of the Hebrew word for "REST"! Any day that is NOT "a rest" is simply NOT "like the Sabbath"! And new moons are emphatically not at all like Sabbath days. Would God want a king to organize a banquet for a Sabbath day? Certainly not! So if a king does have a banquet on a new moon day, then this illustrates that the new monday is different from a Sabbath day.
Sometimes people quote Scriptures which refer to the millennium, and which also mention new moons. That's fine ... but that still is not the same as clear instructions from God for this present age. This approach is nothing more than reasoning that tries to INFER instructions for us today from these references about the millennium. But such inferences are not justified.

The point to consider is this: since without doubt new moons were important to Israel in Old Testament times, why is there not a single command to actually 'observe' them anywhere in the Old Testament? People did, and still do, many things which are not commanded. Some of these things certainly have some merit.

But the observance of days is not something God expects us to just 'infer!'

Of course this all ties into Malm's strict Sabbatarianism.  Here are a list of things that Sabbatarians do NOT like to be confronted with:  Questions Sabbatarians Don't Like

Miserere mei, Deus

David Hurd's Psalm 51

If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would be smearing ashes on the forehead's of people tonight I would never have believed them.  Tonight was Ash Wednesday at the church I attend.  A night that signifies the start of forty days of self examination.  An examination of our fallibility, our mortality, our participation in oppression and injustice to others.  At this time we are particularly drawn to Jesus' call for justice: freedom for the oppressed, release of the captives, good news to the poor and recovery of sight to the blind.  It's about confronting the power of death in all it's forms, terror and tyranny, corruption and greed, disregard for creation and all the forces that prevent people from living life in it's fullest.

It's not about giving up chocolate, sweets, meat, dropping a dollar in the swear jar, or other things.  It's about being authentic to yourself and to God, while you get off your rear end and make a difference in the world around you.

Growing up in Armstrongism I listened to endless sermons by ministers and evangelists mocking and deriding those that kept this day as insincere and a total waste of time.  Meredith came up with some of the most absurd  and inaccurate comments that anyone could dream up.  Actually what he said was and still is, a blatant lie!

Seeing the wide eyes of little kids kneeling in front of you with tears in their eyes, or huge smiles as they experience something that only a child can through untarnished minds.  They look into your eyes with a look of awe.  And then they turn to their parents and look them in their eyes with a deep connection only a parent can ever see. Probably like the kind of the look we should be having with God.  Totally free with no baggage. Oh, to be a child again!

I saw a blind young man tonight who is wheelchair bound with a body that is wracked by cerebral palsy, rhythmically moving in slow motion due to the muscles in his body twisting and writhing about, sit there with tears streaming down his cheeks as he attempts  to stop his body from moving when the ashes are placed on his forehead, clearly and distinctly saying 'amen' afterwords.  He does the same thing when the Eucharist is brought  to him.  His body stops moving as he takes the wafer in his distorted hands and places it in his mouth.and sips the wine.  He understands something that I probably never will.  Something deeper and more meaningful than any HWA sermon, booklet or book ever did. Something deeper about the mystery that surrounds us, the mystery of the unknown yet knowable, the grain of the universe that calls to us into something we cannot fathom, something so foreign to us that we let it slip past us the minute we walk out the doors of the church into the real world.

I saw people in attendance tonight that I know are agnostic and a couple of atheists who have no idea what or who God is.  Yet, they admit something draws them back, week after week. Something they cannot understand but want to be a part of.  They are involved in feeding the homeless, knitting prayer shawls for the sick and dying, caring for those with AIDS, working in hospice or visiting the  sick and home bound. They too have the opportunity to delve into something deeper and more mysterious with new ways of looking and understanding thatI can never have.  It is a delight to be around them

I am grateful for my journey out of Armstrongism. I regret  many opportunities lost because of its aberrant, absurd and irrelevant teachings, yet there was a lot I treasure. How I came out halfway sane is a miracle!  :-) I am grateful for Gavin's web sites and blogs over the years and for Dennis's unwavering self examination and willingness to question without apology.  What a ride it has been and continues to be!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorThis is a toughy.  I loved the relationships I had in WCG.  In all the churches I ever pastored, I found my best friends.  Of course, what joined us was the common hope that lay within us.

WCG provided me friends and relationships I never would had in any other context.  The people I met at AC were very sincere and just good folks.  They came from everywhere in the country and in fact, the world.  I never would have known them were it not for the church.

I did date some of the same girls Garner Ted did.  ( :(  )  Naive and very fine human beings with a desire to do and believe the right things.  They were not insincere.  They were not looking for power or recognition.  They simply wanted to be a part of the right thing.  They wanted to do the right thing and see the Bible in the correct way.  The best friends I ever had were members of the WCG.

One of my best friends was a guy I met in Ohio when I was transferred there.  He always spoke his mind and while , at first, it made me nuts and distrustful, I now realize he simply knew how to express what he was observing and it made me, as a young minister,   uncomfy.   The problem was with me, not him.  We moved to Ohio and rented a house next to the railroad tracks , which to us was a palace.  Ok, we had to put up with the train going past, but it was steady and predicatable and I loved the sound of it.  It relaxed me at night.  We lived so close to the tracks that any accident would have taken us immediately into the Kingdom of God.  

I remember well this fellow, who helped us move in, saying..."I just wanted to see what my tithe money was doing."  Ugh....give me a break.  I have to live somewhere.  But he was honest and it was that honesty that bound us rather closely over the years.  He eventually got booted as a deacon from the church for being too honest and observant.  I returned for a reunion of ministers in this Ohio congregation.  The present minister was "honoring" the deacons for their work in the church and, of course, he was left out.  He was sitting in front of me and while listening to the minister tell of the other men's service, I took out a piece of paper and wrote:

" In honor of Gary________, For years of dedicated service and care in the Worldwide Church of God."

I reached around him and put it in his hands.  He looked back at me with a look time can never erase.  "Thank you," he said somewhat stunned.  We have been closer friends ever since.  

I made and lost some of the best friends I ever had in the bonds made in the WCG.
This past weekend I went to celebrate the 3rd birthday of my grandson.  He is the only boy of three other goddesses I call my grandchildren.  Sheridan, Maggie, Lily and Nicholas.  My ex wife was there and it was difficult.

Nothing that has transpired is her "fault."  Everything just fell apart.  When you life church, church, church 24/7 and it goes as WCG went, it just all falls apart.  She came from a long time WCG family.  We had our good years raising two great boys.  We went to the Toledo Zoo after church services on the holy Sabbath and took some heat but mostly made people think perhaps life was not to be such a church burden.  This was in the 70's.  Every Friday night in the winter we went to the YMCA to swim with the kids and have "family time."  No one gave us a hard time for that and I told them that's what we did.  We ended the Friday night swim with a trip to Dunkin Donuts with the boys in their "jammies" and life was good.  

Once my youngest climbed into a locker at the YMCA and locked himself in.  I told him to keep talking and Dad would find him.  It was hilarious.  I finally found the appropriate locker and liberated this small, naked and goofy kid from his prison.  We laughed our butts off.

Another time, I took my oldest, then 5 , to a funeral in Kentucky.  On the coffin there was a spay of flowers and a red toy telephone with a sign that said, "Jesus called."  He asked me what the toy phone was all about and I explained the concept to him. Then I got called to give the sermon.  He grabbed me almost in a panic and I said, "Let go, I have to speak."  He said in a panic not since heard,  "Dad...if that phone rings, please don't answer it!"   Another great memory.  All through the service the coffin between me and him sitting on the front row, he glared at me as if to say  "Dad...don't answer it."  Now he'd probably say, "Dad, go ahead and answer it."  But that is another story  :)
Anyway, driving home from the weekend alone and having seen everyone in my past life was a bit difficult.  I can't unring the bell.  I can't fix all that is broken.  I never would have predicted the route my marriage and life would have taken, and yes, I did make my decisions along the way that have cost much.

I have had a couple relationships since then.  Mistakes were made and the price has been paid.  It's me, the Shih Tzu and the Lionhead Goldfish at the moment and it's not been easy.  I have endeavored to meet new people through the various web based sites, but somehow I am the most comfortable with those that know my past and understand.  Loneliness is a concept I never knew until the last couple years.  I am sure somewhere along the line there were singles who expressed this concept to me and I said some really dumb shit stuff as how they needed to solve it.  Boy, has the Karma Fairy flown over and taught me a lot about shallow advice not based in reality.
I don't find people all that honest about what makes them tick.  As I have written in the past, everyone wears masks. Masks tend to grow into the skin and are ever so hard to take off.  However, dropping them is liberating.  I imagine the cost of  being oneself, by most, is considered too high and so they fake it. 

At any rate, the best friends I ever had were the members who drove me nuts when I was their pastor.  They were right.  They had nothing to lose being right, well except their membership in the group think.  

I find that lost relationships is a very big issue in the demise of the WCG.  We all had absolutely nothing in common and at the same time, everything in common.
I miss those relationships and am sorry they ended as they did.  

I do not miss my relationship with "Headquarters."  What a mess that always was.  Were you telling me the truth or were you shitting me?  In hindsite, you were shitting me.  You were my friends but then you became my worse enemy.  You lied and made excuses for the obvious and proved to be shallow friends at best.  "We will take care of you," came to mean, "by screwing you."  We "wish you well and will pray for  you," meant "We dont give a rats ass about you and probably won't pray for you either."  Those in high places were relationships that taught me well what "be warmed and be filled" really meant.

Life is relationships.  Some people come into our lives forever, for a time, for a season and then either stay or leave.  There is much to learn from each, but it can be very painful.   

My thanks to those who have hung with me through the years.  For those who have come and gone, I thank you as well and wish it may have been better or different.  
I never came into the WCG for anything less than doing and believing the right thing.  I have learned much from the experience but the price has been high.

They say that experience is the BEST teacher, BUT the tuition is high.  I have learned that experience is the ONLY teacher and all else is mere hearsay.  

That doesn't mean it's easy or how one wish it had gone...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Else Aside...I had to Be There

All Else Aside...I had to Be There

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorI'll make this short but straightforward.  I speak ONLY for myself and yes, I have many regrets.  

However.... my heart of hearts, I know that I had to be there. 

 I was 14 years old when I heard my first sermon.  It was in Idaho and it was about the universe and "God."  I had been reading the booklets all week having just been introduced to the Church my older sister and brother-in-law had become convinced was close to whatever the Bible was trying to tell us.  I was hooked.  No one EVER gave a sermon on the Universe in our Presbyterian background.  I can't remember one sermon from my youth in the Presbyterian Church.  But this one I never forgot.  

I devoured the Plain Truth Magazine and all the booklets I could get my hands on.  It was the 60's.  Hell, the whole world was going to hell in a handbasket.  JFK had just been killed.  MLK and Bobby were next.  There were about to be Two major Middle Eastern wars endeavoring to wipe Israel off the map.  (Update 2011...Go ahead, be my guest now.  Wipe it off the face of the earth).  I simply had to be where this church was. 
For the next four years through High School, I read all I could.  I talked to my girl friend who I was sure I'd marry someday.  Hmmm, not going over so well there.  Oh well, perhaps God was not calling her.  (Update 2011...Lucky girl)   I applied to two seminaries after High School.  One was Roberts Weslyan which was Methodist and the other was Ambassador College.  (Update 2011...I honestly thought it was a seminary according to what I saw in the perspectus).   I chose...well you know.

Loved AC.  Too stupid to know I was not getting the whole story.  I used to go down to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena to study.  They had a much better library.  Never crossed my mind to transfer there because, well...they just weren't called like I was.   Made lots of friends at AC.  Most are now players in "Days of our Lives...The Wildworld Church of God and It's Many Faces."  (Update 2011...Thank you God for not letting me keep following your true Church all over creation the last 20 years.)   

But...I had to be there right up until the moment I realized I no longer could. 
I made my choices over the years of turmoil and scandal.  Ok, people are weak but so was David and of course....DAVID WAS A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART, so see, it all works out.  While embarrassing and that niggly little voice was telling me get out during the receivership era, well...Satan really hated God's Church so of course stuff like this is going to happen.  Besides, it is cleansing and we will be better than ever.  I called once a week to hear recordings by "God's leading evangelist updates on the situation, and we were winning!!!  (Update know, like Charlie Sheen is "winning...duh! )

So I had to be there and NOTHING you could have done would have talked me out of it, until I talked myself out of it and even then, had to be pushed.  I hated letting the local church down but when push came to shove, they all disappeared like I had the plague anyway.  Big wake up there!

Somewhere along the way, I'd say around '94 or '95, I started to crack.  I read outside the WCG box and devoured John Shelby Spong's book, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.  

Hmmmm....this guy just answered almost every question I had about what never made sense about the Gospels.  I loved his books and his honesty.  I wrote JSS and told him how much I appreciate his perspectives and how helpful they were to me and in answering questions I had wondered about over the years that my Church never addressed.  Actually they didn't know there were questions to ask.  JSS wrote back personally...
"Thank you very much Dennis for your kind words and I am pleased I have been able to help.  I'm glad you appreciate my work...however... won't survive.
Warm regards
John Shelby Spong"

Wow...the man was not only a Bishop, but also a Prophet.   I continued on reading JSS's works on the Birth and Death stories of Jesus.  Craaaacccck.....I wove wonderful things in to my sermons for a time. I read all of Raymond Brown's books on the Birth and Death of the Messiah.  Big books, long books, deeply thought out books....and I wove them into my sermons for a time.  I was asked to teach at the local Catholic Church Bible studies on the topic of Jesus Birth Narratives.  Raymond Brown was a great RCC scholar and well respected.  The Priest and I had become friends having met at the Annual AIDS something or other and it was there I actually was able to make a contact for my local WCG to meet that was much nicer.  It was an actual church building and very nice.  Of course, I was teaching in the RCC study what I dare not ever teach to my own congregation.  They even paid me!!!  

The Priest and I got along so well with our biblical interests that he asked me to do the marriages the RCC would not do.  I was kinda like a bastard well hidden priest doing for the congregation what the real Priest could not do for them.  Ccccrrrrraaaackkkk.  I was learning there was so much more in the world of theology than what I had been told.  Of course, I prayed my own congregation did not ask me much about it although a few did come and loved the studies on the Birth Narratives of Jesus.  

I still had to be there.  I think WCG was falling apart out in Pasadena, but my denial was keeping me in and hoping the church would just grow up. Maybe I could help it do so.
But it got bad.  In 1996 I did win that's years essay contest in Biblical Archaeology Magazine on "we have the money to send you to any dig in Israel...why should we send you?"  Long story short, out of all the people in the world that year, I won.  I spent over three weeks at BAR's expense digging in Har Megiddo  (The Valley of Megiddo)  I was in ho..., cow heaven.   I came home and shortly after that I was terminated.  

I wonder at what point I would have made my own decision to leave.  Everything was coming unglued.  Transitions are messy and I was no exception to that truth.  Everything suffers.  New perspectives replace old ones and those who used to inspire no longer can or do.  

But up to that point.  I had to be there until I didn't.  No one made me stay and once the damn broke in my mind, then and only then could I leave.  

My last Festival Sermon was on "The Politics of the New Testament."  You know, the who was the Apostle Paul really?  Why does he call Peter James and John "reputed pillars" and then add, "I learned nothing from them..." etc.  What was going on?  Who was on whose side and did they all really speak the same thing?  I loved giving that sermon. I had a ball. We laughed (passive aggressive humor is my style and yes I was serious even if it was funny) and when it was all said and done, 8000 kind folk applauded on and on when it was FORBIDDEN  :)   It was worse than running with scissors.

That Spring, it was over.  Lots of things were over.  

But I had to be there, until I no longer could be.  I made my choices. No one made me stay too long.  I had a wonderful mix of denial and hope for a time and denial bit me in the ass finally.  Denial still does that to me at times even now.  

But for all that time, I had to be there until I no longer could be.  I accept responsibility for my choices, staying longer than some or even most and not wanting to "take our local church Dennis and let's just be our own selves."  I told those guys that they'd have me for lunch within six months and I had a life to get back in order.  Still working on that...

But I had to be there until I no longer could and I accept responsibility for all my choices that have brought me to where I am today.  

Where am I?  :)  I have no idea, but I am NOT stuck in the never ending story of WCG/UCG/PCG/RCG/ and all the other COG's and men who have never yet read Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism and to this day, have no idea they do not yet understand the Book well enough to teach the truth about it. 

What Does Armstrongism, 'Glory Daze' and 'A Single Man' Have in Common?

Here's a couple of things that have been filmed on the Pasadena campus in the past few years.

Colin Firth in A Single Man: 

A story that centers on an English professor who, one year after the sudden death of his partner, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960's Los Angeles.

Spanky Meredith will be very unhappy with this one.  Well, maybe not.  Considering what HWA used to say about Spanky, he might actually LIKE this movie!  :-)

Then for the younger set there is the TV series  Glory Daze:

Centers on a group of friends who are trying to navigate college life in 1980s Indiana. From being out on their own for the first time to pledging a fraternity, they discover how challenging the next few years are going to be.

That's Manor Del Mar in the background.