Sunday, July 2, 2017

Reading Mark Mendiola's Article, A Crude Awakening? (2000)

The seventh issue of LCG's recruitment magazine, Tomorrow's World (July-August 2000), featured an article by Mark Mendiola entitled "A Crude Awakening?" (pp. 14-18.) This was the seventh of several articles Mendiola would write for this recruitment magazine. Here he scare mongers that America was vulnerable to the effects of a future oil blockade.

Let's take a look at what he has to say.
As oil prices spiral upward, the United States is facing the consequences of its dependence on foreign oil—and on the nations that control the oil. How and why have the oil-exporting nations kept the United States “over a barrel”—and what does this mean for America’s future? (p. 14.)
Mendiola emotively compares high oil prices to an act of war.
Just as it did in the 1970s, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) still has much of the world over a barrel. Back then, U.S. President Jimmy Carter called a paralyzing global energy crisis the "moral equivalent of war." But if this is a war, who is winning it, and why? How does this crisis fit into Bible prophecy? And what can we expect for our future? (p. 14.)
He complains that Americans are complacent.
Complacent Americans, accustomed to cheap gasoline, faced a rude awakening as prices crept up past $2 per gallon. In a matter of months, gas prices nearly doubled, bringing about a startling reality check for Americans unaware of world events. (p. 14.)
Although he spends most of this article complaining about OPEC nations in the following paragraph he admits something that he fails to note elsewhere in the article, namely that OPEC is severely divided and rarely acts in a united manner together.
In many other nations, high taxes bring gasoline prices to $5 per gallon. Most of the world envies the United States' low gas prices. But these prices spiraled when OPEC decided in March 1999 to reduce a worldwide oil glut by cranking down production. Oil producers stuck to this agreement with a 90 percent compliance rate—an impressive feat for a cartel notoriously unable to maintain unity. (p. 14.)
Seventeen years later OPEC is, if anything, even more divided today as much of the Middle East is affected by intense rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But focusing on OPEC's disunity might make Mendiola's readers less worried and less inclined to listen to him.

He cites a Republican Senator who mentions that at this time the United States was importing some oil from Iraq even while the United States continued to impose sanctions upon that nation.
Murkowski said the failure of U.S. energy policy is illustrated by the import of 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq, despite the Persian Gulf War and U.S. military efforts to contain Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "We're bombing the guy who is refueling our warplanes," he said. "What kind of an energy policy is that?" (p. 15.)
LCG like most of the COGs tend to lean to the right but nevertheless they are certainly capable of acting like they are not so partisan.
Democrats countered that Republicans blocked energy conservation and more fuel-efficient vehicles, would not consider a ban on Alaskan oil exports to Asia, ruled out a drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve—where 565 million barrels of crude oil are stored for emergencies—and resisted creating a heating oil reserve in the Northeast because such measures were opposed by the U.S. oil industry. (p. 15.)
He moans about Saudi Arabia having so much oil.
Consuming about 20 percent of the world's oil, the United States imports much more than the 35 percent it imported in 1973 when Arab nations retaliated against the U.S. for its support of Israel by imposing an oil embargo, creating long lines at gas stations. In December 1999, OPEC was the source of nearly half of U.S. oil imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Saudi Arabia was by far the largest source of those imports, supplying 43,118,000 barrels that month. 
OPEC supplies more than 40 percent of the world's oil and owns about 78 percent of the world's crude oil reserves. It produces about 26.6 million barrels of crude oil daily, with the Saudis accounting for about a third of that total. (pp. 15-16.)
Citing a Democratic Senator he scare mongers that the United States is more vulnerable to an oil embargo than back in 1973.
In remarks made on March 20, Sen. John Breaux, D-La., explained how the U.S. finds itself increasingly addicted to foreign oil, noting Arab countries hobbled the U.S. nearly 30 years ago when they only slightly restricted supplies and when the U.S. was importing much less petroleum percentage-wise. (p. 16.)
And then Mendiola starts to cite Armstrongite dogma to interpret this problem.
The United States of America has been blessed beyond any other nation in history with an abundance of natural resources, but it is starting to see those blessings stripped away. The oil, gas, mineral and agricultural wealth enjoyed in such great abundance in North America and other English-speaking nations has come from Almighty God. The Holy Bible is plain about that. (p. 17.)
This statement is based on the discredited dogma of British Israelism. Much of Armstrongite dogmas about the future is based on this assumption. Once it is recognized that British Israelism is false then so much of the assumptions stemming from that false conception falls away. Americans are not the descendants of the Biblical Israelites so the dire warnings of the Old Testament do not specifically apply to the United States. The author talks of nonsense.

But Mendiola is devoted to the discredited dogma of British Israelism so he continues to use it to insist that (LCG's) God's wrath will soon descend on America.
Just as parents discipline children when they go astray and engage in harmful activities, God punishes nations when they refuse to keep His commandments, veer from His ways and no longer fear Him. (p. 17.)
Mendiola melodramatically proclaims that the western world's baskets, stores and reserves are cursed by (LCG's) God.
It is no coincidence the western world find itself under what appears to be a worsening economic curse as westerners more blatantly sin by breaking God's divine law. We are witnessing a dramatic reversal in our fortunes. Cursed are our basket, our store, and our reserves! ... Hostile nations are on the rise as we are on the decline. (p. 17.)
He shrilly insists that the American is already brought low and is prostrating itself to oil producing nations in a crass appeal to parochialism.
The oil crisis is one of many national curses the U.S. faces as it rejects God, refuses to acknowledge His blessings and flagrantly breaks His law. Yet, it is official federal policy for the nation to prostrate itself before foreign nations that have been antagonistic in the past and allies who easily could turn on it. (p. 17.)
After moaning about Saudi Arabia he then complains about Iran and Kuwait.
Iran is OPEC's second largest producer. An international crisis was provoked in 1979 when Iranian religious revolutionaries overthrew the Shah of Iran, shut off the Persian nation's oil spigot and kept 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. An oil price surge peaked at $39 a barrel in 1981; U.S. interest rates climbed into double digits; the U.S. inflation rate flared up to 9 percent and unemployment approached 8 percent.
Iran opposed, vehemently, OPEC's decision last March to raise production and ease pressure on the world's petroleum markets. Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran's representative to OPEC, said Iran balked at going along with the rest of OPEC to protest American pressure on the cartel. It questioned whether the international oil shortage was extreme and whether production needed to be escalated. 
One major disappointment for American officials was Kuwait's resistance to increasing production. That is despite the massive investment and sacrifice made by western and other allies in Operation Desert Storm to repel Kuwait's invasion by Iraq. Kuwait aligned with the likes of Algeria, Libya and Iran earlier this year to adopt a hard line against raising OPEC production levels, but later agreed to ease output after U.S. diplomatic arm twisting. (pp. 17-18.)
Mendiola then shrilly insists that the American government's alliances with oil producing nations are somehow "worse than prostitution".
The Living God who has so richly blessed the U.S. and other western nations frowns upon our policy of buying off friends and enemies in exchange for their favors, turning our backs on Him. Such policy earns the disdain of friend and foe alike. In God's eyes, it is even worse than prostitution and will backfire! (p. 18.)
"Treaties and alliances will not save them," Mendiola proclaims belittling diplomatic relations with oil producing nations. He insists that "unprecedented national tribulation" is about to come to the United States.
The Bible shows that both allies and enemies ultimately will turn against the nations identified in the Bible as modern Jacob. Treaties and alliances will not save them. Only God's divine intervention can save them from the unprecedented national tribulation that looms! (p. 18.)
In certain contexts Armstrongite writers talk as though the conquest of the United States by Europeans can be avoided but generally it is believed within the COGs that this military conquest is inevitable. In practice the COGs teach that only they themselves will be supernaturally protected by God and taken to a place of safety during the times of turmoil just before Christ's return.

Mendiola insists that relying on other nations for the supply of oil is "a potentially fatal weakness."
The United States is leaving itself exposed and precariously vulnerable by increasing its dependence on foreign nations for vitally important oil, putting itself in a compromising position and revealing a potentially fatal weakness. (p. 18.)
He complains that the Middle East is an unreliable source of oil.
As crises in the extremely volatile Middle East have underscored in the past, the western industrialized world cannot rely on that region for a steady, uninterrupted flow of petroleum. Even the European Commission issued a rare plea in February for OPEC to boost output to prevent slowing the world economy. (p. 18.) 
He scare mongers that various oil producing nations might turn against the United States and stop selling oil to the United States.
Should pro-western leadership in oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico suddenly turn anti-American, the national and economic security of the U.S. could be severely jeopardized and a dramatic shift in the international balance of power could occur. (p. 18.)
To this day Saudi Arabia and Mexico are closely aligned with the United States. Venezuela turned away from being closely aligned with the United States but it has not proven to be much a threat to the United States. But little did Mendiola know that soon the oil industry would soon shift its focus to extracting oil using fracking techniques making the United States less reliant on overseas oil. Although there is widespread concern about environmental and social repercussions of using this method.

Mendiola ends his article with these words insisting that America will face "horrendous suffering and calamity" unless his audience follow LCG's teachings.
As in the past, geopolitical events could turn Islamic countries violently against the U.S., Israel and other western nations, prompting Arabs to take drastic measures and sharply crank down their oil production in retaliation.  
Unless there is heartfelt repentance and a return to God in humility and gratitude for all His blessings, our national punishments will intensify and worsen before Jesus Christ returns to liberate us from horrendous suffering and calamity. ... There is wonderful news beyond today's troubling world as we approach the dawn of Tomorrow's World! (p. 18.)
What clap trap. He makes these dire predictions and now seventeen years later we are still no closer to his dire words being fulfilled. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are still closely aligned with the United States. Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a bitter power struggle with each other so they cannot unite together in OPEC against the United States. Venezuela embraced turned to the left but that country is currently going through intense political and economic turmoil so it would be absurd to view it as a threat in its current state.

There was as a matter of fact a sharp rise in the price of oil back in 2008 but it shortly afterward went down to a more reasonable price and the reason for that spike had little to do with the OPEC nations or supply and demand. (That story is explained in chapter 4 of the 2010 book Griftopia by Matt Taibbi.)

Clearly there is no need to fear Mendiola's dire proclamations.

In September 2006 Mendiola left LCG and joined Dave Pack's Restored Church of God. Around 2008 he left RCG and joined Don Billingsley's Church of God-Faithful Flock.

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