Saturday, December 2, 2017

Just what do you mean “pagan”?

Herbart Armstrong and all of the men "trained at his feet" love to toss around the word "pagan" whenever they seek to deride and mock others outside their small circle of belief.  Pagan was a word that was used as a weapon to alienate and to strike fear into members lives. If a member even remotely liked something considered "pagan" then their salvation was at risk.

On an exCOG member forum on Facebook, the following comment was made in regards to "paganism."

Just what do you mean “pagan”? 😀I      don’t mean to trigger anyone by borrowing HWA’s default booklet title, Just What Do You Mean ... ?, but I thought I’d bring up the term “pagan.” While HWA said that his followers had to “unlearn” all they learned outside his cult, each of us here has learnt the hard way, and we’re struggling in common challenging ways, that we have to “unlearn” all the crap HWA and his cult put on or in us. 
I’m going to suggest that one of those things to unlearn is how some of us consider the word pagan. Remember that HWA was untrained as a historian or anthropolologist and he was quite simplistic when it came to the term “pagan.” To him, “pagan” was (and is) the equivalent of a monolithic and organized devil worship system that somehow existed almost everywhere. If HWA was in charge of Rome in the first hundreds of years AD, and if he stuck to the crap he wrote, he would have torn down all those beautiful and historic buildings, statues, etc., which is the kind of thing the Taliban and ISIS do today to historic other-religion artifacts in areas they control. 
Just as you know he was so wrong about other things, might I suggest that he was so wrong on how he painted paganism? Paganism is not a monolithic system. Whether you are religious or not, how people in history came up with their religious views (how they are common, borrowed and unique) is a fascinating human story. 
In short, whether you celebrate Christmas for religious and cultural reasons, don’t let HWA’s misguided view of paganism hold you back. If you are a bit stuck on the word “pagan,” remember that almost everything borrows from previous religions (or on “paganism” if you use that term), everything including Thanksgiving (a fact that HWA was deliberate to overlook). 
Merry Christmas!


nck said...

I see you are deliberately politicizing the "concept" by the express inclusion of "merry christmas". Good for you discussion draws more visitors.

I think you are right in the sense that HWA saw paganism as a "system" instead of random culture grown out of the "human experience" over time.

According to him this system was geared toward the worship of false Gods (like Nimrod) and ultimately "Satan" through counterfeit Christianity.

Perhaps this teaching is a result or function of the reformation. Protestantism has more rational tendencies and is into "cause and effect". From a historical perspective the new european protestant nations very clearly celebrated their new religion as a liberation from the Habsburg "pharaoh". From there the identification with the "chosen people" was taken " into barren lands" as the hymn goes. South African Trekkers, India, essentially the idea coincided with the rise of the European empire. Whereas British Israelism coincided with the Anglo Saxon empire.

Again you are right that HWA's version completely negates the sacrifice of the early christian (missionaries) entering into Frankish, Viking or Saxon lands armed with their bibles. I cannot imagine the dangers of billy graham entering a stadium filled with hells angels and starting to chop away parts of their bikes. Perhaps only some of the biker ladies would try and see his point.

One of the first things that put me on guard was 12 year old me on a you outing. Our group walked past a cathedral and I expressed my awe fir the edifice. Our (former catholic turned wcg) youth leader answered that in the millenium we would strike the edifice down.

I was dumbfounded at such vandalism of culture. Untill today my personal life is twisted between what people such as him said and what HWA was doing by the sponsorship of UNESCO, the ac digs in Syria and Israel recovering many pagan Gods and of course HWA's efforts to bring about an interfaith worship center in the Sinai at great cost to the church.

So whatever anyone will ever say about Christmas I know for a fact how deeply ingrained it is in common folk culture and connected to ancient believes. It is in the DNA of a common experience of (former) pagan tribes who are largely still living where they entered 1500 years ago. If one chooses to accept the christian version of the festival. I am ok with such people accepting the light that whatever version of christianity has brought into the dark days of winter by principled people. (meaning the dark ages)

To celebrate it as a shopping spree worshipping the 1930 s coca cola invented santa claus an decorate fir trees in the heat of the Australian outback or Palm Springs is fine too as a celebration of a dominant culture from abroad.

We'll see. Perhaps the last pagans have kept us from destroying the last part of the rainforrest where that little plant grows producing chemicals that could eridicate cancer or whatever affliction.

Keep an eye on the pagans. They might hold the keys to our elevation to "God" status. (a being with extended life cycle , perhaps immortal in the cloud, able to see everywhere go anywhere and access knowledge about everything) through exponential technological advancement. Oimen.


Byker Bob said...

Hislop was the architect for HWA's thinking on this topic, and it's shocking how deeply he bought into it.


David Rickman said...

The names of the months of the year are borrowed from "pagan" gods, as are the names of the days of the week. Someone should have mentioned that to HWA when he was barking orders to his church not allowing anyone to have any fun.

nck said...


Simplistic as ever.
Like an ad man, contra that is.

As if HWA had no quaker background grounded in 200 years of protestant conservative scottish american settlers, influenced by the church of england etc. Hislop,..... of course... and puhlease at the same time.


Anonymous said...

Revelation describes Babylon the Mystery Religion as a global system. If one scratches the surface of culture and custom, one always finds psychopathic traits at the core of this system. This is even true of Herbs church and splinters. For instance, a psychopath secretly feels that he/she owns people, that no one must resist their will, that they have a right to blind obedience, and that they have a right to control others mental processes. A perfect description of Herbs ministers. Psycho ministers.

Anonymous said...

" In short, whether you celebrate Christmas for religious and cultural reasons, don’t let HWA’s misguided view of paganism hold you back. If you are a bit stuck on the word “pagan,” remember that almost everything borrows from previous religions (or on “paganism” if you use that term), everything including Thanksgiving (a fact that HWA was deliberate to overlook).

Merry Christmas!"

Couldn't have said it better myself!


Steve D said...

I agree with your comment, "almost everything borrows from previous religions (or on “paganism” if you use that term)" Even the Old Testament traditions were mostly borrowed from "paganism". Were the Jews the very first people to ever practice circumcision, have a temple with priests to perform animal sacrifices? On and on it goes. What God did was place a new meaning to all of these "pagan" things and practices. Like so many other things in life, it isn't the object, but how we use the object that makes it good or evil (take cars and guns for instance).

Minimalist said...

the pagans. They might hold the keys to our elevation to "God"Nck

- Apotheosis -

nck said...

Thank you minimalist for your philosophical insertion. I apreciate that. My last paragraph alluded to the modern day "Gods" who have chosen not to reside on a mountain but a valley of silicon, although they claim "mountain view", being all knowing all pervasive, soon knowing and capabale of predicting our individual behavior better than we do ourselves (WHICH IS THE ACTUAL prerogative of A GOD as today captured by AI).


Byker Bob said...

Simplistic, nck? That's the way it always was while HWA was alive preaching sermons, doing radio broadcasts, and writing booklets and articles. Armstrongism was always known for its simplistic nature and for appealing to simplistic people. It is you who has attempted to rewrite that history, having imposed your particular collection of HWA-related details upon all of us, and I might also add that you have been the only source for this "information". These alleged details and spin that you are providing are not causing rethought. It doesn't matter whether HWA established secular charities, what documents he might have had on his desk, and which international statesmen might have enjoyed his company. It matters not if he was a pawn of the CIA, or even if he was the dark head of it. He was a false prophet who imposed a very cruel, intrusive, and authoritarian managerial style upon his followers, and we've spent many years in recovery from the damage he caused in all of our lives.

How you choose to remember him is totally your decision to make. But you are not molding any opinions here or rewriting the histories that any of us have lived. At best, HWA was the Wizard of Oz. It was all a nightmare, all make believe experienced during a tornado a long time ago.


nck said...

True. I have imposed some details that are easy to check for anyone. If not I have provided assistance for the odd one who asked. I have been the only source since most here have different experience than the majority. (even if 90% ever involved have moved on to a modern lifestyle)

I find it easier to agree with Dennis, since before Armstrongism he was part of a christian subculture that in the end produced the most secular nations on earth and he has stated many times that if he had gone to seminary with them he would have fallen out eventually too.

I find that approach so much more honest than blaming "everything" on ones particular experience with a rather small grouping of followers of a rather common subculture within protestantism. People having been part of 7th day adventism in the fifties probably have blogs like this too (or mormons) or any protestant denomination. Why do I not mention catholics. Since people in that particular group seem to be willing to look broader than the behavior of thousands of priests regarding their religion.

So if I were on a catholic blog harping on boys being abused. I would acknowledge all the hurt and misery as being true. billions of people do not seem to be phased as that having been a part of their religion.


Byker Bob said...

I've been on Catholic blogs, nck. It was fascinating to witness the depth of research and support information which posters know and share to affirm their faith. They put the ACOGs to shame.

Twenty years ago, I would have had no interest in Catholicism. Without even knowing much about it, I had rejected it. However, once I read many of the writings of the antenicene fathers, and realized that the Catholic Church descended directly from Paul's gentile churches, and that this is traceable, I began to view the origins and history in a much different way from HWA's "Simon Magus" theory.

Much of what you attribute to the Anglo Saxons is in reality an outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation which took place in Europe and greatly influenced the founding of the USA. Obviously, the Germans were prominent in both. Empires and ethnicities have risen and fallen. Each one seems special during its time.


nck said...


"Each one seems special during its time.'

I believe Friedrich Hegel called it "Weltgeist."

Isn't it great. On a thread about pagans suddenly terms like "apotheosis" and "weltgeist" come up. No 18 page booklets needed to explain the concepts.

btw. (germans are a concept too, a lot of so called germans are saxon, deutschland uber alles has been grossly politically abused as meaning superiority over others, whereas the original meaning was to explain a larger concept of a new state representing 300 former entities)


nck said...

"Much of what you attribute to the Anglo Saxons is in reality an outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation"

Well BB. I wrote what I wrote on 3rd of december. It took Bloomberg news 2 days to pick up on my words. They are reading this blog you know due to the wisdom of its content. :-)