Saturday, February 28, 2009

Recycled Words

When one reads some of LCG's booklets by Roderick C. Meredith a reader who is unaware of their past would be forgiven for thinking that these booklets were new. When viewed that way they seem exciting and vibrant. However most Armstrongite writings are simply regurgitations of old Armstrongite dogma, most of it dating from at least the 1950s. So the messages are in fact at least fifty years old. Now all Armstrongites rely on such old dogmas to some degree, but this particularly evident with the writings of Roderick C. Meredith. In some cases he simply copies and/or adapt his older writings for modern day consumption by those unaware of the terrible history of Armstrongism.

For example parts of LCG's booklet on marriage, God's Plan for Happy Marriage by Roderick C. Meredith, previously entitled Build a Joyous Marriage, comes from his previous articles, ‘What all Husbands Need to Know’, Plain Truth, June 1966, PDF pp. 11-15 & 34, and 'Neglected Keys to a Joyous Marriage', Good News, March 1975, PDF pp. 8-11. Much of the booklet's chapter 'Heartfelt Communication', for instance, comes from the 1975 article.

This recycling is seen again in LCG's booklet The Ten Commandments. While discussing the Tenth Commandment Meredith includes this story that is carefully used to make any believer in Jesus sad:
Several years ago, a prominent religious publication, The Canadian Churchman, ran a sobering article revealing the effect of this material idolatry on young Africans studying theology in the United States and Canada. One such young man said: "Before I came to study here, I was a good Christian. I dreamed someday of becoming a medical missionary. Now I’m an atheist." "Why?" asked the shocked interviewer. "Since coming here," he replied, "I’ve discovered that the white man has two gods. One that he taught us about, and another one to whom he prays. A Presbyterian mission school taught me that the tribal doctrines of my ancestors who worshiped images and believed in witchcraft were wrong and almost ludicrous. But here you worship larger images—cars and electrical appliances. I honestly can’t see the difference." (pp. 68-9).
This story is simply recycled. Here it is as preserved in Pabco's Home Page (1977 edition):
Several years ago, a prominent religious publication, "The Canadian Churchman", ran a sobering article revealing the effect of this material idolatry on young African Christians studying in the United States and Canada. One such young man said: "Before I came to study here, I was a good Christian. I dreamed someday of becoming a medical missionary. Now I'm an atheist."

"Why?" asked the shocked interviewer.

"Since coming here," he replied, "I've discovered that the white man has two gods. One that he taught us about, and another one to whom he prays. A Presbyterian mission school taught me that the tribal doctrines of my ancestors who worshiped images and believed in witchcraft were wrong and almost ludicrous. But here you worship larger images -- cars and electrical appliances. I honestly can't see the difference."
See also The Ten Commandments, 1972, pp. 130-1 at Don Tiger's archive. For whatever reason the word 'Christians', present in Pabco's and Don Tiger's versions is omitted in the LCG version. Now they are relegated to simply 'studying theology' and are now not called Christians.

Now technically, I suppose, there is nothing wrong with using old articles you made in publications you are making today. But Meredith won't tell you, you have to figure it out yourself. I for one always find it disappointing to discover that Meredith's words, which seemed so exciting and vibrant when I first read them, are old, tired, reused words that are actually decades old. It only demonstrates the tired repetitiveness that now clutches Armstrongism. It is today a dying religion that false prophets like Meredith relies on using the same words over and over again.

(Update: The story concerning the former African Christians may be found as early as the November 1960, Plain Truth, p. 9.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reflections on Raising the Ruins

We will get back to the biographical sketch later, but right now I wish to share some of my thoughts concerning Stephen Flurry's book, Raising the Ruins. Now anyone deciding to get in contact with this book needs to be aware of of its flaws, such as claiming PCG won the court case with WCG when in reality they lost and than bought the copyrights for $3 million, and the hypocritical attitude it was produced in, namely, trying to lure sympathizers of Armstrongism into PCG while PCG forbids members from contacting such people. Critiques of it are available at Exit and Support Network and PCG Information.

I read some of this book length recruitment pamphlet. Although I was aware of some of the concerning facts about the book I must say I am honestly surprised at my impression of the book. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I did not expect to reach this conclusion when I started reading. The main thought I had of reading it is this: the author, Stephen Flurry, is not very bright. Exit and Support Network has this fascinating story in which Stephen Flurry 'could not open email attachments or operate a fax machine' and so he relied on some poor old man to do it for him. I am embarrassed to say that after reading this book I can actually imagine that situation occurring even better than before. I honestly thought I would come away from the book and say, 'Sure he's in a cult that bans medicine, woman's makeup, and contact with 'Laodiceans' no matter how close they are to you and also demands you pay over 30% of your money in a PCG approved way, but he's a clever guy.' Instead I am inclined to think, 'He is not very bright. Any intelligence he does possess I do not see in this book. How can PCG entrust the education of their students to him?' Let me try to explain why I feel this way.

In much of Chapter One he complains that Tkach has complete power in WCG. He is so adamant about this that one who does not know better might think that PCG is not authoritarian but democratic. Of course PCG has exactly the same authoritarian undemocratic government as WCG has. The only reason Stephen Flurry is angry against WCG is that they used their absolute power to renounce Armstrongism, he simply wishes they used their power to enforce Armstrongism. He wishes that he could wield the club they used. In one place he writes, 'He [Feazell-one of the leaders of the Tkach changes] knows--he's admitting--that without total power, their transformation would have never happened! The church membership simply would not have allowed it!' But in Stephen Flurry's church members are absolutely powerless to influence the affairs of PCG. PCG has exactly the same sort of despotism that SF complains against. The only difference is WCG renounced Armstrongism, SF wishes he had their power to enforce Armstrongism. SF does not hate the club, he wishes to uses in his own way.

In Chapter Two he glorifies Ambassador Auditorium and tells us how it was so beautiful, it had so many good performers on it. He tries to induce nostalgia in readers so that they might join his church. I hope readers will not fall for that. After trying to induce nostalgia he ends that thought with the following sentence: 'Yet another legacy that was neither heavy nor burdensome.' Is this accurate? That jolly building cost $24 million! In the early 1970s! If he really thinks Ambassador Auditorium wasn't burdensome he should read what Ambassador Report had to say about it. He should read their article on the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. The inaugural concert alone cost WCG $500,000! In the 1970s! In reality Ambassador Auditorium was a huge burden to bear, and it was only used to make HWA look more respectable in the eyes of the world leaders he wanted to impress. Now I know how PCG can embark on its ridiculous plan to construct the $15 million Armstrong Auditorium. He thinks it won't be burdensome! We will see how long he continues to think that. Is he not aware that projects of that sort almost always cost much more then expected? I am not impressed with his analytical skills in regards to how burdensome(less) Ambassador Auditorium was.

In Chapter Two he says Reagan endorsed HWA. He compares Tkach, Jr.'s apologies on HWA. In response SF says, 'President Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, said we should take pride in Herbert Armstrong's legacy. I'm going with President Reagan's endorsement.' But he was a member of the Disciples of Christ, a church that keeps Sunday, so (according to Armstrongite theology) he bears the Mark of the Beast! How can such a man endorse HWA? Would President Reagan have endorsed him if HWA said to him, 'You have the Mark of the Beast upon you!' a statement that would have been perfectly honest in Armstrongite theology? The truth is HWA presented one face to world leaders and another to his hapless and eternally abused flock. (Addition: Reagan's statements were made on the occasion of HWA's death. It was just a courtesy and therefore should not be used to promote Armstrongism as it is quite clear that Reagan never accepted Armstrongism in the slightest. Yet such facts do not stop PCG from deceitfully using that statement for their recruitment, such as in this ad here.)

Also I find it annoying how he speaks in Chapter One against calling conversion to Armstrongism spiritual rape. Only for an Armstrongite is that understandable. He gives no acknowledgment here to the fact that that expression is used by many former Armstrongites, not just Tkach. Maybe he will discover why it's called spiritual rape if he just read some XCOG web sites out there. Though perhaps I hope too much.

Anyway those are my thoughts from what I have read of that book. I am honestly surprised at the many times I was amazed by what was lacking in the book. I hope those looking for the truth will not be fooled by this book. May the Lord save those that PCG are trying to ensnare.

More on Raising the Ruins may be read here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roderick C. Meredith: A Biographical Sketch--Part 3: Post-1972 Turmoil

In the last posts we have seen Roderick C. Meredith emerge as a leading figure of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. Being one of the first Evangelists ordained he is at the very center of power in this autocratic church. But now with the 1972 disappointment rocking the faith of the believers a severe crisis begins to raise up. And so this account continues.

1973: Reassigned to be Deputy Chancellor of AC Bricket Wood (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, 'Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 3).

1974: Returned to US. Restored as Deputy Chancellor of AC Pasadena (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, 'Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 3).

1975: June: Raymond McNair files for divorce from Leona (AR29 October 1984).

August 9: Criticizes the fact of African-Americans holding public offices, namely the mayoralties of Los Angeles and Washington, DC and the police chief of Washington, DC, because they are not 'Israelites' and thus are actually foreigners in the land (AR2 1977, 'Separation of Church and State?').

1976: June 16: Wife Margie Helen Meredith (nee McNair) dies aged 40 (Worldwide News, June 21, 1976, pp. 1 &8). When Raymond McNair's book Ascent to Greatness is published, it is dedicated to her (PDF p. 11).

1977: November 20: Marries Sheryl Ann Hensley of Bakersfield, California (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, 'Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', pp. 1, 3). They would later have two children.

HWA had fallen in love with Ramona Martin but as she was a divorcee whose former husband was still alive Meredith ruled that they could not be married. HWA would disregard this and marry her (AR20 June 1982).

1978: Meredith and Hoeh are honored on their 25th anniversary of their ordination. At this time Meredith is pastor of Glendale, California church (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, ' Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', pp. 1, 3).

In the Gary Bagley trial Mr. Bagley tried to subpoena Meredith to demonstrate how widespread knowledge of GTA's immorality was. Helge argued that a subpoena for Meredith should be ignored in Gary Bagley court case (AR4 June 1978). He was later excused from testifying after Helge sent written statements saying he knew nothing relevant to the case.(AR9 June 1979).

Sheryl Meredith complained that she became hard of breathing after just ten minutes in the poisoned Ambassador library which had not recovered from a botched fumigation.

1979: The Receivership. HWA decided to cooperate with the State of California at first and on January 3 appointed C. Wayne Cole to cooperate with the authorities. But HWA was soon persuaded otherwise and betrayed Cole giving those opposing the receivership his blessing, including Roderick Meredith. On January 4 they called a meeting. When Cole tried to present his side of the story Meredith physically seized him and, with help from supporters, cast him off the stage. On Saturday he announced the disfollowshipment of four officials said to have aided the receivers, including Robert Kuhn (who in his post-armstrongite life would emerge as a multi-millionaire). That day he sent security agents to try and change the locks of the college administration building but were blocked off by the State's security men. Rader tried to whitewash it as people simply doing normal business. The Receiver was forced to hire extra security due to his attempted obstructions (AR#7, January 1979).

Appointed Director of pastoral administration worldwide (Worldwide News, January 15, 1979, pp. 1 & 16).

Disfollowshiped Ambassador Report publishers, 'co-publishers Bob Gerringer, Bill Hughes, John Trechak, and Len and Margaret Zola received disfellowship letters from Roderick Meredith' (AR#8).

Dorothy tried to communicate with her father via Meredith but was unable to do so (AR9 June 1979).

He inaccurately accused Leona McNair of being responsible for her divorce from Raymond McNair. This would begin her court case against WCG (AR29 October 1984) (AR28 July 1984 'McNair Trial Begins').

In the March 27, 1979 Pastor General's Report, pp. 1-2 Meredith calls for the members to produce more money, suggesting various possibilities such as 'painting houses, cleaning houses, ironing, mending, etc., washing cars, selling farm products, artwork, babysitting, conducting paper drives, yard and garage sales, bake sales, quilting bees, collecting scrap iron, delivering sales papers or advertisements for local firms, etc.' to raise extra funds to continue WCG's court case to find a way to get out of the Receivership. Headquarters ministers, despite this financial crisis, nevertheless proceed to take flights to various congregations. Meredith himself goes to Cincinnati. (xHWA, 'The 1979 Receivership and the Big 3', Escaping Armstrongism, December 24, 2008).

Some of the members in Hawaii left WCG due to the turmoil affecting the organization, despite Meredith's attempts to maintain power over them (The "Plain Truth" about Hawaii, The Painful Truth [atheist/agnostic/deist]).

However 'Meredith, aggrieved over the extent of Rader's power, confided to a number of ministers that he wanted to see Rader removed. It wasn't long before Rader learned of Meredith's desire' (AR42 September 1989.) And so he was sent to Hawaii in exile for resisting Stanley Rader’s ordination as an Evangelist.
'First Roderick C. Meredith was removed as director of the WCG's ministry....The board of trustees was purged of anti-Rader trustees (Meredith and Luker)....As we go to press, we have learned that Roderick Meredith has been given a six month "leave of absence" in Hawaii. Few believe he will ever return to any significant position in the WCG. Perhaps he will not return at all.'(AR#10, 'Rader Ordained')
1980: HWA sends a fascinating letter rebuking him harshly. In the middle of HWA's autocratic spiel he apparently rules him out as a successor:
'When I told you and Raymond [McNair], and perhaps another or two, that IF I were no longer among the living, I wanted you to be sure Ted did not slip in and take over. At that time, I had heard SO MUCH talk about my dying right away, perhaps started by Ted, that for a while I was overly conscious of it. It is not that later I changed my mind. But as time went on I began to realize very deeply that God has not prepared ANYONE to take my place. You, Rod, could never take it. I know that is 100% contrary to your own estimate of yourself. You have a WILL to lead, but not the qualifications.
Although it must be stated he apparently felt at this time that no one would replace him, which of course turned out to be wrong. This attitude would later manifest itself when HWA would not allow his successor, Tkach, to call himself an Apostle.

Meredith continued to languish in isolation.
Roderick C. Meredith, in exile in Hawaii (see our last newsletter), says he hopes he will be allowed to return to Pasadena soon. ("There are strong forces at work in the church," he commented to one member.)...He says he has been ordered not to speak to fellow ministers. But nothing was ever mentioned about not talking to WCG members and others, so that's okay. (AR#11, March 1979, 'Where are they now?')
He later returned to favor and got out of his exile, but Ambassador Report believed he was now less powerful than before.
Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith has been allowed to return from his exile in Hawaii and is now permitted to teach classes at Ambassador College again. His name has been returned to the staff box of The Plain Truth but only as a "senior writer," along with Jeff Calkins, Keith Stump, etc. Insiders say it is unlikely he will ever again be allowed a position of real responsibility in the church hierarchy. Said one long-time friend, "They've emasculated him." (AR#13, September 1980, 'Where are they now?')
He is given a chapter in David Robinson's book, chapter 14: Roderick Meredith - The Broken Reed (AR12 June 1980).

1981: HWA establishes Council of Elders but leaves Meredith out. (AR15 March 1981)

HWA turns against Rader and has him give up his prominent position thus allowing Meredith to regain some of his powers (AR16 July 1981 'Rader Ousted'AR17 October 1981'').

August 10 Worldwide News reports Meredith on Council of Elders. AR speculates that Meredith will succeed HWA. (AR17 October 1981). I wonder if John Trechak knew about HWA's letter to him in Hawaii.

Resisted revival of make-up ban and tried to rally Tkach on his side but Tkach refuses to participate in 'suicidal' act (AR18 December 1981). This is also mentioned in Kessler's Letter, excepts of which may be seen in AR18 March 1982.

Bob Fahey was called by HWA as the man most worthy to lead the church but was soon relegated to a lower position by Meredith supporters (AR18 December 1981).

WCG has gone through a lot of turmoil but through it all Meredith seems to have weathered this storm and continues to be a high ranking official of WCG. Many tithe paying members were lost but WCG seems to be able to come back from these trying times. All appaers to be - pretty much - fine as 1982 begins.

To be continued...

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roderick C. Meredith: A Biographical Sketch--Part 2: The Soaring Years

In the previous post we saw how Roderick C. Meredith became ensnared in Armstrongism, became a student at Ambassador College and came to be ordained an Evangelist by Herbert W. Armstrong. We continue from there.

1953: Student pastor of Portland, Oregon. Enters faculty. (1953 Envoy, p. 42).

Writes first Plain Truth article 'Man's Greatest Battle' (Plain Truth, June 1953, pp. 9-10,12), an article on the impending destruction of the world and the Armstrongite believer's battle to be saved. Uses MacArthur's speech to Congress to argue that since solving problems via war 'has had its last chance' we are doomed and salvation may only be found by battling Satan, which can only be done by following the church. That speech of MacArthur is still used by Armstrongites to this day.

Hoeh develops 1975 prophesy, with the Great Tribulation set to begin in 1972. This doctrine is adopted and taughtby the church (see Pam Dewey and 'Why 1975?').

1955: Associate editor of Plain Truth, faculty advisor of Portfolio and Drama class. Spanish club member. Over-all evaluator for AC clubs. Envoy supervisory committee. (1955 Envoy, p. 11).

Around this time he became one of the co-presenters of the World Tomorrow. However with the rise of Garner Ted Armstrong he went off the air.

Fellow Evangelist Raymond McNair marries Leona, whom he himself baptized. (AR29 October 1984).

1956: Marries Margie Helen McNair. They would later have four children.

In the 1956 Envoy he is described as fulfilling these positions: Instructor in Bible and Speech. Associate Editor of Plain Truth. Faculty adviser of Portfolio and Drama class (1956 Envoy, p. 14).

1957: His profile is the same as in the previous Envoy: Instructor in Bible and Speech. Asso. Editor of Plain Truth and Good News. (1957 Envoy, p. 8).

1958: Instructor in Bible and Speech. Asso. Editor of Plain Truth and Good News. He had conducted evangelistic campaigns in Fresno and London. Founder and Pastor of San Diego. Gained MA in Theology. (1958 Envoy, p. 21, PDF p. 22).

1959: 2ed Vice President of Radio Church of God. Asso. Professor of Theology and Speech. Editor of Plain Truth and Good News. (1959 Envoy, p. 16, PDF p. 19).

1960: June 1960 PT announce his upcoming London campaign. An announcement of him being en route to England may be seen in p. 3 of the June 1960 Good News. LCG's booklet 'God's Church through the Ages' mentions this in an attempt to bolster Meredith's authority:
'The June 1960 Plain Truth magazine carried a special announcement from Mr. Armstrong to the British readership, announcing a series of campaigns in Britain by Mr. Meredith. Mr. Armstrong wrote: "Mr. Meredith is fully consecrated, utterly sincere.… He is going to tell you things you can’t hear from any other source… you’ll be shocked, surprised—you’ll hear more real truth in one night of these meetings than most people learn in years of the preaching of our day!"'.
This quote is used to bolster his authority. If Meredith truly was so great why is it that it was Garner Ted Armstrong who would emerge as the main, and eventually sole, presenter of the World Tomorrow? If Meredith has the right to lead why does he have to resort to quoting obscure announcements of some evangelistic campaign? He is simply trying to make it appear that HWA greatly respected him to make himself appear legitimate to his Armstrongite followers. This is also used to obscure and dilute any negative information about Roderick C. Meredith the potential recruit may come across.

That Plain Truth also contains a brief account by HWA of how Meredith came to be convinced he was called to the ministry on p. 4.

Teaches speaking and Theology in the opening term of the new Bricket Wood, England campus (Plain Truth, May, 1960).

1961: Became Superintendent of US ministry. (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, ' Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 3).

Writes the article 'The Shocking Truth about Queer Men' in December 1961 Plain Truth, pp. 3-4, 12-14, 36-39. Here he absurdly blames allegedly women dominated settings and lack of physical activity for producing homosexuality.

1962: His wife Margie Helen Meredith completes her degree at Ambassador College (Worldwide News, June 21, 1976, p. 1).

1963: According to Wikipedia Meredith's father, H. Carl Meredith dies.

June 3: Ordains Joseph Tkach as a local elder. (AR41 March 1989).

1964: Wrote article in September Plain Truth, 'Crisis Flares into Bitter Racial Riot', condemning civil disobedience, in which he says, 'It is the responsibility of every true minister of Christ to preach submission to law and constituted authority', which would later prove to be ironic considering later actions he took during the 1979 receivership and the 1998 split (p. 47, PDF p. 49, middle column, as quoted in AR8, March 1979).

1965: In his high position he taught ministers to regularly visit and check up on any possible problems the member may be experiencing. For example in one ministerial letter he instructs ministers to send letters detailing prospective members, with copies sent to the District Superintendent and Headquarters.

1966: gained D. Th. Degree from the unaccredited Ambassador College. (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, ' Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 3).

He wrote the Plain Truth article, ‘What all Husbands Need to Know’, June 1966. I was quite surprised to see him write on p. 32 (PDF p. 34) the following: 'He [the husband] should realize that many wives tend to stagnate, become bored with life, bog down in their use of English, their knowledge of world affairs and their intellectual development in general.' What a high opinion of wives expressed here! I can't say whether he would agree with this statement today or not.

1967: Prof. Of Speech and Theology. Guidance Counselor for Men. Senior Editor of Plain Truth and Good News. Board of Trustees. 2ed Vice Chairman of AC. Minister. Envoy 1967, p. 10-11, PDF 13-14.

1968: Uncle C. Paul Meredith dies.

Devised tithe monitoring by computer initiating the practice of monitoring of the tithing of members. (AR2 'Computer Snooper').

1969: Wrote a letter to the entire ministry admitting that many were suffering serious diseases, including cancer, but still the no doctors teaching must continue to be taught.

1970: Had a retina correction in contradiction to the church's no medicine teaching.

Spoke to a Speech class that Ministers should drive away from a member's house and write the visit report out of the member's sight.

1971: On the Board of Trustees. Vice-President for Student and Alumni Affairs. Professor of Speech and Theology. He also appears in a photo of the Board of Trustees on PDF p. 15. (Envoy 1971, p. 11, PDF p. 17).

He helped to break the news of GTA's adulteries to a certain minister. (AR2 'Son of the Legend')

He revealed the existence of a letter from a Hawai'ian masseuse to Al Carozzo that revealed that GTA, while in exile there, visited a message parlour. (AR2 'The Profligate Son')

1972: left Superintendentship of US ministry to become Deputy Chancellor of AC Pasadena.

Failure of the prophecy that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972. That doctrine was developed by Herman Hoeh in 1953. Some quotes of his various failed prophecies may be seen in A Treasury of Famous Prophecies and The Prophecy Game.

To be continued...

Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Roderick C. Meredith: A Biographical Sketch--Part 1

First of all I would like to say thanks again to all my readers. Your comments are greatly appreciated and inspires me to keep going with this blog. Thank you again.

Now I have been working on a little biographical sketch of my former cultmeister, Roderick C. Meredith which I will now begin posting. Now I have no special insider information. The vast majority of this information is easily accessible on the Internet and is often linked in my little biographical sketch. And now let us begin.

Roderick C. Meredith-A Biographical Sketch:
Part 1 Rise to the Ministry

1930: born in Joplin, Missouri to, according to Wikipedia's article on Roderick C. Meredith, H. Carl Meredith and Mildred Kohane Meredith (born 1902). He would later have two sisters, Kathryn who is the wife of Richard Ames and Patty who never accepted Armstrongism. The Merediths are Methodist.

In his teenage years he came to learn of Herbert W. Armstrong through his uncle C. Paul Meredith. He gives this account of how he became involved in Armstrongism in his 1962 booklet The Inside Story of the World Tomorrow (my comments are in italics):
'A little over fifteen years ago, I was highly impressed by Mr. Armstrong's understanding of the Bible and of prophecy in particular, but I wasn't by any means sure that this was the very work of God. But I desperately wanted to know. I first became interested in the Work and broadcast through the encouragement of my uncle Dr. C. Paul Meredith--now Director of The Ambassador Colege Correspondence Course. He had already been listening to the broadcast for many years--since about 1943. He had always been a student, and he took careful notes on Mr. Armstrong's prophetic sermons. As time went on, he compared these notes to the events that were taking place--and to what other preachers had said--and soon came to realize that Mr. Armstrong was the only one who actually knew what was going to happen BEFORE it happened! [What about HWA's prediction that Christ will return in 1936? What about HWA's identification of Mussolini as the 'Beast'? What about his later identification of Hitler as 'the Beast'?] When I was a junior in high school, my uncle and I began listening to the program together somewhat regularly. I could see that it made sense [Does failed prophecies make sense? Ironically on p. 51 of this very booklet he has the cover of the June-July 1934 Plain Truth which on p.3 contain's HWA's famous chart showing that 1936 will be the 'end of days'.], and that I actually learned more about the Bible through each broadcast than I would have in six months in the large Protestant church our family attended. [That's because the only way HWA could gain people's allegiance is to convince them that his doctrines are the truth. In Meredith's former church it would appear that there was not such a great emphasis on doctrine as many churches do not need to go into the minute details of doctrine to maintain membership. HWA needed to convince people of his doctrines to gain followers. Explaining doctrine does not mean it is the 'true' church.] But at the same time, I was leading an active, busy life as a high school student and athlete. I was on the football and track teams, and boxed in the Golden Gloves tournaments. Since running the mile was my specialty, I hoped to win a track scholarship to the state university by that means. (The Inside Story of the World Tomorrow Broadcast, 1962, pp. 12-13.)
1949: Goes to Junior College, Joplin.
'I spent a summer "stewing" over what to do. Then I studied this world's "philosophy" at a college for a year--becoming more thoroughly convinced than ever that I needed to understand the PURPOSE of life. So I decided that I would go to Pasadena and meet this Mr. Armstrong face to face. I would get to really know him, if possible. And I would "check up" on him! He was not going to pull the wool over MY eyes. I came to Pasadena, and enrolled in Ambassador College in September, 1949.' (The Inside Story of the World Tomorrow Broadcast, 1962, p. 13.)
I am sorry to say this but HWA did pull the wool over his eyes. How can he say that HWA made sense despite the many false prophesies he made even by this time. In light of what God says in Deuteronomy 18:22 (When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass [remember 1975?], that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him) it is impossible to give any credence to HWA and remain true to the Bible.

1951: Junior. Transferred from Junior College, Joplin. President of Student Council (2ed semester, 1951) (1951 Envoy, p. 13). While at Ambassador College he is a roommate with Herman Hoeh.

1952: President of Student Body and Senior Class 51-2. Sports editor. The Good News. Interested in lawn and table tennis. (1952 Envoy, p. 11). Gradually accepts ’call’ to ministry (PT June 1960, p.4. ).

December, Herman Hoeh, Raymond Cole, Richard David Armstrong, C. Paul Meredith and Roderick C. Meredith are ordained as Evangelists in that order. (Worldwide News, January 2, 1978, ' Evangelists Honored on 25th Anniversary', p. 1).

LCG often emphasizes that Meredith was one of the first ordained Evangelists in order to assert his legitimacy as successor to HWA. See their 'about us' page on the LCG website ('Roderick C. Meredith...was one of the original evangelists ordained by the late Herbert W. Armstrong in December 1952'). How can seniority of ordination be a valid principle of succession? If it was then we should have followed Herman Hoeh, who accepted the Tkachite changes, or Raymond Cole who left over the doctrinal changes of 1974. Seniority of ordination does not prove that one has the right to exercise leadership over believers. The fact that Meredith relies on such a weak argument to prove his legitimacy proves how desperate he is in maintaining his authority.

To be continued...

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'That Prophet's' Sermons leaps to the Internet

Exit and Support Network has broken the news. Some of 'That Prophet' Gerald Flurry's sermons have been leaked onto the Internet. They may be accessed here. (Update: Alas this resource is disabled now BUT some PCG sermons can now be accessed here.)

Since at least late 2005 Gerald Flurry has adopted this ridiculous policy of destroying tapes/CDs of headquarters sermons lest anyone else should hear them. So much for letting your light shine as on a hill. (See December 10, 2005, Pastor General's Report, pp.3-5.) Now we can finally hear what he is telling the flock, although he tries futilely to hide it.

Some may have read this critique of two sermons 'That' false 'Prophet' gave to Philadelphia Youth Camps students last year. The first 'Prophecy' (July 12, 2008) may be heard here. It runs 1 hour 28 minutes. In the second one, be warned, he mentions some very disturbing things from WWII, which are really horrific. Those who don't want to have jarring mental images floating around in your head, or are of a sensitive disposition, might prefer to stay away. Anyway the second sermon 'Lamentations' (July 26, 2008) may be heard here. It runs 1 hour 19 minutes. For whatever reason he sounds really strange, as though he's inhaled helium, in this sermon. Is the sound playing too fast? I can't figure it out. But that is the sermon.

In other news Dennis Leap seems to have been disfollowshiped in Flurry's latest purge of his ranks, though not yet completely, for now (see February 5 letter).

Called to the Truth? Will all in the God kingdom be Equal?

One of the things that really fooled me into embracing Armstrongism was the insistence that I was 'called' by God to understand the truth. No one else understood what I understood. If some other person listened to Armstrongism being explained and did not agree it was simply because he or she had not yet been called yet.

Now to fully understand this teaching of theirs, of being called to the truth, involves an understanding of Apocatastasis (that most people will be saved eventually, most after the Second Coming). However here I wish to focus on the elitism that traps people into Armstrongism. It is a heady elitism. It appeals to one's vanity, of feeling important. Once in one of Roderick Meredith's semi-annual letters he sends out to non-co-worker subscribers he said that I, out of all the people on the earth, had somehow been led to the truth. 'Wow!' my thinking went, 'God blinded the vast majority of humanity after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit but not me! I understand the truth and many others do not. The vast majority of humanity cannot understand the truth until after the Second Coming or the Great White Throne Judgment.'

Once I watched a sermon by Syd Hull, which would have been deleted once he left LCG in 2006, and he ended it saying that we (the church) are not called just to be saved but to be the elite of the saved. When Christ comes he will come to his glorified church, and the church will be complete. Because of this those that are saved afterwords can never be a part of the spiritual bride of Christ, but merely children of Christ and the glorified church. He said that those to be saved during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment will be saved, but they will not be as great as us who had to overcome Satan while they did not, who were called to the truth before them. He said that when Christ comes he will marry his bride, the glorified church, and it not be an incomplete wife, therefore those to be saved afterward will not be part of the wife but be one of the children of Christ and the Church. This sounds likes a beautiful fulfillment of the family unit, but really it is a nasty attempt to make an elitist hierarchy of relations with God in the afterlife, an attempt to say that they can never have as close a relationship to God as we will have after the resurrection at the Second Coming. This sends the sad message that those who will be saved later will not be as close to God as we (the church) will be. I remember feeling momentarily sad hearing this for those who are to be saved later. But because I was one of the elite, chosen ones, and because I was sure Armstrongism was truth, I didn't dwell on this distastefully elitist doctrine too much.

A logical and tragic outcome of, not necessarily the doctrine but their common elitist attitude, can be seen in this former LCG member's testimony. Here the member, who had not been 'called' under HWA but later, is discriminated against as not being as worthy as those called under HWA. Although that may not be directly linked to Syd Hull's sermon in this case, the elitist attitude is the same. 'Because you were not called by HWA,' this attitude says, 'you are not as close to the truth as we are. Because you were called only after the Second Coming and the banishment of Satan, and because we are the wife and you are only children (forever) we are closer to God then you are. Our light shines brighter then yours.' Syd Hull has made such elitism into a fact of eternal life.

But at the same time one is fooled into thinking that it is not elitist at all. But everyone is going to be saved, they say. All will become God beings, being as fully God as God is God. That's egalitarian enough isn't it? But as Syd Hull shows there are ranks within the God family. This is also made plain in HWA's The Wonderful World Tomorrow where a carefully organized hierarchy is laid out for the God beings ruling over the earth in the Millennium. The tyrannical hierarchy of Armstrongism is to continue for all eternity.

Often Meredith tries to excite people, stir them up, by saying you might only get a small position if you are not active in helping the work. He tries to lure you to give yourself more and more to 'the Work' by making you lust after a higher position. Is that how a minister of God supposed to lead members? Bribing them with a big reward in the afterlife that he himself does not have to pay you, instead of focusing on higher ideals.

Alas, when I renounced Armstrongism, I also came to the realization that all that was complete nonsense. The reason why so many people do not full heartedly embrace Armstrongism the way I did is because they actually did understand this truth: It is not worth pursuing. Those who rejected Armstrongism did so because it was a bad tree. It produced terrible fruit. I was not privileged to discover knowledge unattainable for the vast majority of people this side of Christ's return, I had simply accepted an idea that most people did not accept, the same way how today some insist that Karl Marx's philosophy explains how societies work and we must follow his prescription of revolution. They are persuaded of an idea, a belief. The vast majority of people decide not accept it. But those who do can always say that everyone else is simply unable to see 'the truth'. Those few who do believe 'the truth' are an elite that the vast majority cannot aspire to. It is the same with those who think they have been called to 'the truth' of Armstrongism. It is terrible to say such things but it is true and they must be said.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Resources on HWA's Incest

There has been a bit a buzz out there about the HWA incest. This is a terribly sensitive topic, but alas, because HWA had set himself up as the sole man through whom God is working through on the earth it is necessary to discuss even this most shameful and secret topic. This information is offered in order for the reader to understand why so many people are convinced that the man said to be God's Apostle was able to do something as dreadfully foul as this.

Ambassador Watch has brought up evidence from Ambassador Report, William Dankenbring and David Robinson, and responded to Bob Thiel's attempted rebuttal. Ambassador Reports has brought out that HWA's legal minions did not actually deny it, but claimed that his privacy was invaded.

Here I wish to bring the reader's attention to more accounts about this topic that are out there on the Internet.

The atheist/agnostic/deist Painful Truth also has extremely intriguing correspondence by Bruce Renehan on this topic where he reveals that he learned of it after talking with two COG7 members who knew HWA back in the 1920s and 1930s (Robinson did not invent this story), and that a friend of his in Pasadena who was closely linked with Tkach, Sr plainly stated that Tkach, Sr knew of it, that HWA admitted it to Robinson, and a former headquarters minister friend knew of it as well.

Also relevant is David Robinson's obituary in AR61, March 1996 ("David R. Robinson 1922-1995"). Here John Trechak reveals how he first learned of Robinson's work, that Robinson was one of the most honest men he knew, and how Robinson suffered terribly for telling the truth, losing close friends, losing $86,000 in WCG's attempt to suppress the truth, being fired by HWA with practically no saving for him and his wife to live on, and being forced to become a humble painter; yet despite all that he never recanted. I wish he was still alive, then I could thank him for telling us the truth despite such adversity.

Exit and Support Network has a useful archive of material which led me to discover most of these links. There one can read chapter 20 of Robinson's book, an 1997 expose article which has Robinson's son saying the following: "It was a shattering experience for my dad [discovering about the incest]," says Mark Robinson, a Dallas-area businessman, whose father died in 1995. "Until then, he had no reason to doubt Mr. Armstrong's spirituality." Why would he lie about this matter? It also links to a letter that has Gary Antion confirming that David Antion learned of it, and the former acknowledge that it happened; see Jack Kessler (1981) mention it; a testimony from one who looked through HWA's court records and discovered him giving hush money to Ramona over this; the topic is also used to prove that he could not be an Apostle; and one can even find a 'how to' guide on how to talk about this sensitive topic to your Armstrongite mate.

The Ambassador Report on the Painful Truth also has information on this topic. ESN, in its except of the Robinson's chapter has a helpful little guide to AR, showing that it was discussed in the following:

It is in AR#40 that Trechak discusses the curious tale of HWA getting young Richard David to disappear while the two of them were down in Hollywood with Dorothy. This curious tale of HWA's may be seen in chapter 42 and chapter 43 of his autobiography. Here Dorothy goes with HWA to Hollywood in April, 1942. The rest of the family were left behind in Eugene. This trip would last almost four months from mid-April to July 31. HWA gave the following pretext for Dorothy's prescence in the visit.
After boot camp, Vern [Mattson, who would later marry Dorothy] was sent back to Quantico, Virginia, for final training for overseas fighting. In April, 1942, Dorothy received word the Marines were shipping out. Vern didn't know where, but thought likely they would sail through the Panama Canal, with some possibility of a very brief stopover at San Diego, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Immediately Dorothy demanded I take her to Los Angeles to be on hand if there was a brief landing at one of these three ports. Vern would not be able to get word to her until they landed. There might not be over twenty-four hours-or even less. It would be impossible for her to reach any one of these ports in time from Eugene. (Chapter 42, Heading 'At Last--LOS ANGELES!' Emphasis mine.)
And so we are supposed to believe that Dorothy went into a four month trip away from all other family except HWA just for a very faint chance to meet with her fiancee for twenty-four hours? And he was actually stationed in Virginia as well. And then Loma sent Dick over to HWA and he proceeded to make him wander around LA all on his own, supposedly to build up self confidence. Trechak suspected this was done to hide what was really going on. Maybe this is what Garner Ted Armstrong meant when he told Bob Thiel to look up the Autobiography.

After I reviewed all of this material I, personally, sadly came to the conclusion that this ghastly thing must have occurred. What an abominable situation. Right when HWA (alledgedly) was giving birth to the Philadelphia era he was continuously committing this horrid deed. I feel that with so much information coming from so many different sources, and that HWA-and many who were in a position to do so-did not deny that it happened, I feel that it must have happened. It is a very sad indictment on what sort of man this alledged 'Apostle' and 'end time Elijah' was. No wonder none of his surviving children were on good terms with him.