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Issue 48 - April 2004

Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups

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Hey, hey, send bucks to Ray: The following item appeared on the Likeminds board. 

Raymond McNair... has been e-mailing us wanting us to send him our tithes so he can continue writing articles for The Journal. Raymond says that having left LCG he and his wife have no income. Raymond says he is a true minister of God under the Melchizedec priesthood and that if we fear God and revere God we will want to obey God and send Raymond our tithes. 

Raymond may be out of luck though, as this "potential donor" has an excellent memory.

The first time I met Raymond and his wife was Pigeon Forge, Tenn. His wife told a group of ladies how much her clothes cost and how much her husband's suits cost.  She didn't even think about what people did to get to the feast.  That year two people lost their lives. Another family's car engine blew up on the way to the feast.  Some people were eating peanut butter sandwiches just so they could be there.  This woman was talking about how much her dresses cost - $500.00 per outfit because they were silk.  And her husband's suits cost $1000.00 - they only wore the finest.  The rest of us people who were giving them tithes so they could wear the finest were shopping at Goodwill.

Mike makes a mint: The Feazell leather-bound edition of The Incredible Human Potential reportedly went for a last-minute bid of $102.50 on eBay.  A tidy sum, even after Mike deducts a generous freewill offering to the Lord's Work.

A few pieces short of a jigsaw puzzle: The following review of Art Mokarow's book God's Puzzle Solved comes from a guest writer.

You can't criticize Art Mokarow for his dedication in self-publishing, promoting and mailing out a full length book (430 pages). You may even admire his commitment to provide this material free, and even refuse to accept donations. Mokarow's sincerity is obvious. The question is, was all the effort worth it?

God's Puzzle Solved is the first in a projected multi-volume project. In it Mokarow, a prominent Worldwide Church of God minister and administrator back in the seventies, presents his distilled wisdom and insight on the Almighty's purposes. How credible is he? Here's a sample of the logic underlying the book.

Now picture your Bible as a Puzzle Box. Most puzzle boxes have a picture of the puzzle, to give an idea of exactly how you should put the puzzle together. But your Bible has no picture to guide you. Yet inside the Bible are little bits and pieces, a little here and a little there, which can help you put the picture together and show you the plan God has in store for you. If you put most of the major pieces together, you will be able to understand God's purpose for His creation. (p.171)

"pitched at the level of a retarded 13 year old"

Here you see the rationale behind the book's title. Mokarow continues on this theme.

But the Bible holds thousands and thousands of different pieces, waiting for you to place them (As God directs), in perfect order. First, attempt to put the larger pieces or the major parts together. Once the major pieces are properly anchored, you will be able to put the smaller pieces together on your own (p.171)

If you should get confused, the author is there to provide lengthy and detailed clues, pitched at the level of a retarded 13 year old. Here's Mokarow on the subject of God's clothes.

What type of clothing do you think God wears? God does not run around as today's movie bare-chested heroes with oily, disgusting, sweaty skin. God appears to be very modest. He is so modest that He's clothed down to His feet. (p.67)

And God's hairstyle?

You mean God has curly or wavy hair? When one looks at a herd of sheep and notices their hair, it's wavy isn't it? God's hair possibly could be curly or wavy. The Scriptures confirm it. God just naturally has His hair looking like wool. (p.67)

"text without context is pretext"

These examples should be sufficient to indicate whether or not the book deserves to be taken seriously. A few quick observations.

1. There is no bibliography, references or footnotes. Mokarow didn't seem to feel any were necessary. I got the impression he hadn't read anything worth citing. 

2. The writing style is an English teacher's nightmare. It badly needs an editor.

3. Much of the material appears to be transcribed from old sermon tapes. It has the broken flow of spoken rather than written language.

Mokarow has apparently never heard that "text without context is pretext". After thirty years in the wilderness he returns to offer his analysis of the plan of God. Correct me if I'm wrong, but all he seems to have come up with is a proof text puzzle that regards the Bible as some sort of children's parlor game. A cut and paste Bible theology from the 19th century. A dumbed-down pastiche of WCG doctrine that has long passed its use-by date. A comedy of errors.

Read God's Puzzle Solved if you must. I tried. But I'll be filing it with the humor books where it belongs.


Minor flaws and yellowed with age - Mike seeks supplementary income: It's sad how some of God's true servants are underappreciated. And not just underappreciated but obviously underpaid. Take Mike Feazell for example (please, someone!)  Poor Mike is having to hock off his precious personal treasures... Joe, how could you let it come to this!

Yes, Mike is selling off items from his library, on eBay moreover. When we checked out his page (courtesy of Bob Thiel, who posted the link first) he'd got a top bid off $77.50 for this Everest House edition of Herb's masterwork The Incredible Human Potential.

$77.50? Holy Apostles - I gotta check my bookshelf! Mind you, this isn't the common clothbound edition the plebs got. Here's Mike's description:

You are bidding on a brown leather-bound edition of media evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong's The Incredible Human Potential. This book was published by Everest House, New York, copyright 1978... The leather has a few minor flaws... The paper in the book is slightly yellowed with age.

Chances are by the time you read this the auction will be closed. But no worries, you could still help Mike out by bidding on a personally signed copy of his Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God


No, this isn't a caption contest: The following recent photograph of Joseph and Tammy Tkach was sent in by a reader. His comment? Joe morphs into HWA: rich living giving Joe an HWA-like carriage (bearing in mind the old saying about "people in glass houses" we have absolutely nothing to add.)

Thou shalt not vote: There has been an interesting response to the item about Dave Havir's Journal article (see the mailbag below) although we're still looking for that elusive Kerry supporter. The following comments appeared on Bob Thiel's website.

Ambassador Watch's Gavin Rumney correctly blasts Big Sandy COG's David Havir for taking a political side, as well as CEM's Ron Dart for repeatedly doing that as well. I would comment that his inference about LCG's R. Meredith being similar is totally in error. Gavin implies no one in the COGs publicly takes a Democrat stand, and indicates that [there] is a loss of political neutrality.

We in the COGs are not political, but neither are we neutral. What I mean by that is that we do not endorse any candidate for office, nor do we vote, as we believe that God appoints leaders (see Daniel). However, if a political leader makes statements (or takes positions) that agree or disagree with the Bible, we are entitled to agree or disagree with those statements. The COGwriter website (which Gavin did not refer to) has never directly or indirectly endorsed any political candidate. But to the contrary, I encourage those in the COGs to not vote or be entangled in worldly politics.

Roderick Meredith has openly referred to George Bush as a strong president, and implied that prophetic events (the supposed collapse of America and Britain) may even have been temporarily averted by his actions. That's what was meant by "cheerleading". No one is accusing Rod of sending the brethren out to the ballot boxes. 

For those interested, here's a link to another review of Goldberg's book, with a more critical approach than that taken by Dave Havir.

These spiritual leaders interpret the scripture to say what they want it to say

And speaking of Rod: Back in 2000 Stephen Winzenburg, Communication Professor at Grand View College in Des Moines, put together a paper on television preachers. It's an interesting read, and, lo and behold, LCG's Tomorrow's World gets a mention. The Prof. made the understandable error of confusing Spanky's present sect (LCG) with his former one (WCG) - but hey, Worldwide - Global - Living, who isn't confused? Here's what Winzenburg says:

... this weekly half hour is concerned with one thing: the end of the world. No time is spent fund raising (no response was given to the request for financial information) and the only thing that is promoted is the ministry’s prophecy magazine and audio tapes. Everything the co-hosts discuss on the program, such as space treaties and the Middle East conflict, is tied to the book of Revelation and how we are near the return of Jesus Christ. These spiritual leaders interpret the scripture to say what they want it to say, though Dr. Roderick Meredith claims, "Let the Bible interpret the Bible…let it explain its own meaning…I don’t ask you to believe me." That is good advice for a viewer who should turn off the set and spend time reading scripture instead of listening to this end-times view.

A number of well known personalities (some perhaps "genuine" and others complete ratbags) are also roasted, including Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar.)

Weekly Mailbag

Check your accounts:  (1) Flurry is just doing what WCG members were encouraged to do by "Proclaiming the Gospel by Your Last Will and Testament." 

Many years back, after my husband and I had been married for ten or fifteen years, I was checking on something at our credit union. For some reason, I needed to see the original signature card, and was shocked to find that there were instructions that in the event of my husband's death, the credit union was to pay the balance of this savings account to Ralph Helge. When I showed my husband a copy of the signature card that night, he was stunned--he had forgotten ever making the arrangements until he saw the copy of the card. He explained that it was done before we were married, and that the advice from the church legal department was to set it up with Ralph Helge as the designated owner of the account.

According to the laws of our state, when there is no will or other instruction, the surviving spouse and then the children get the assets remaining at the time of death. When my husband set up that account, he was twenty-nine years old and single. The "end was near," (it was 1975) and he didn't know if he would ever marry, let alone have children, and now even grandchildren, that he would want to receive these funds. Probably due to an oversight, our credit union didn't even ask my husband about these previous instructions, when at the time of our marriage, I was added as a signer to the account.

WCG church members, past and present, should check all their accounts/assets in case you too, in misguided zeal and shortsightedness, have set up something like this so long ago that you've forgotten about it. Of course, there is no need to do this if you think that the heirs of the Armstrong organization/splinter group beneficiaries will do the right thing, and refuse the proceeds in favor of your rightful heirs. 

Kathleen Kakacek

MD: Excellent advice. 

Demographics: The leadership of the Church of God (Seventh Day) deserve credit for their openness and honesty in publishing a demographic profile of its members. It is now time that the members of LCG request a similar openness and honesty...

It is tragic how a church that claims to have the "truth" continually hides itself from the "truth" of what God may be shouting at them: organizational oblivion unless more young people and more young couples with children become members. If Bob Thiel really does care about the future of LCG and the commission God may have given them then he should set aside all the hype. It is time for him to request this information from LCG, and publish it on his website for all to see. 


Bobby Fischer: One of the selections offered by the History Book Club for May is "Bobby Fischer Goes To War" by Dave Edmonds and John Eidinow and published by Ecco Press. If anyone reading this has also read this book, could you tell me if it offers some insights into his involvement with Armstrongism? 

John Gill

MD: Perhaps someone who has read it might like to do a brief review.

Anti-Semitism: Your criticisms of Jared Olar's remarks on "anti-semiticism" [sic] shows very little understanding of Jewish-Christian history.

Jared is correct in differentiating "anti-semeticism" [sic] from "anti-Judaism". Anti-semetism [sic] primarily denounces Jews on the basis of racial inferiority. Any criticism of Jewish culture and behavior comes from that racism. Christianity's anti-Judaism stems strictly from the rejection of Jesus and from just anger in reaction to Jewish attempts to subvert and persecute the Christian faith. Any reading of the New Testament, the Church fathers, the Talmud, and books like "Judaism and the Vatican" by de Poncins, (Catholic), and "Jewish Influence on Christian Reform Movements" by Newman (Jewish) will confirm this. However Jared gets it wrong when he says religious anti-Judaism was a contributing factor in the development of anti-semeticism [sic]. This is incorrect. As I already pointed out, the main basis for anti-semeticism [sic] is racist bigotry. These folks will still hate Jews even if they convert to another religion. Many of them hate Christianity because they think it is a Jewish con! If any of these racists quote the Bible or the Church fathers, it is to justify their own warped ideas on race. The pre-Vatican II church always denounced racism in general and anti-semeticism [sic] in particular. Pope Pius XII saved Jews during WWII so he could not have been motivated by racism, but he believed in the historical Catholic doctrines concerning the Jews and Judaism. One of those teachings says, "Do not return evil for evil. Rather, do good to those that hate you."

Jared was right about your remarks comparing Dankenbring's remarks to Luther's vitriol. Any study of Luther's writings shows he had an absolutely psychopathic hatred for anyone, (besides Jews), who dared to disagree, dispute, or reject him. (Sounds like HWA to me!) Luther's hatred of Jew's (and anyone else) came not from "classic anti-Judaism" for the early Luther was quite friendly toward the Jews, nor did it come from racism, but from the anger generated by the incredible self-hatred and loathing he had for himself, which he projected on to anyone who rejected him. Dankenbring, to the best of my knowledge, has never exhibited anything remotely like this, so it was slanderous to say what you did.

Steve Dalton 

MD: Sorry Steve, but Jared was right when he said “anti-Judaism was a contributing factor”. Here’s what the US Catholic Conference states: 

“Christian anti-Judaism did lay the groundwork for racial, genocidal anti-Semitism by stigmatizing not only Judaism but Jews themselves for opprobrium and contempt. So the Nazi theories tragically found fertile soil in which to plant the horror of an unprecedented attempt at genocide.” (Catholic Teaching on the Shoah, 2001). 

If you still disagree, you’ll have to argue with the USCC. Anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism are intertwined. Attempting to differentiate them is no easy thing. The suggestion that one is acceptable (anti-Judaism) while another is not (anti-Semitism) is repugnant. As for "just anger in reaction to Jewish attempts to subvert and persecute the Christian faith", I can only say that such a remark "shows very little understanding of Jewish-Christian history."

Incidentally, the white-washing of Pius’ reputation as “Hitler’s pope” has never been convincing. Read (if you dare) Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s “A Moral Reckoning – the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its unfulfilled duty of repair” (2002). 

What I find disturbing is that two intelligent conservative Catholics in 2004 are still happy to wallow in finger-pointing at Luther while ignoring the substantive issues in their own back yard. The critique of Luther rightly belongs to Lutherans. Here’s what the ELCA stated in 1994.

In the long history of Christianity there exists no more tragic development than the treatment accorded the Jewish people on the part of Christian believers. Very few Christian communities of faith were able to escape the contagion of anti-Judaism and its modern successor, anti-Semitism. Lutherans… feel a special burden in this regard because of certain elements in the legacy of Martin Luther and the catastrophes, including the Holocaust of the twentieth century, suffered by Jews in places where the Lutheran Churches were strongly represented…

In the spirit of truth-telling, we who bear his name and heritage must with pain acknowledge also Luther’s anti-Judaic diatribes and the violent recommendations of his later writings against the Jews. As did many of Luther’s own companions in the sixteenth century, we reject this violent invective, and yet more do we express our deep and abiding sorrow over its tragic effects on subsequent generations…

Grieving the complicity of our own tradition within this history of hatred, moreover, we express our urgent desire to live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people.

Other Lutheran bodies have likewise confessed Luther's (and their own) shortcomings. Sadly, there seems to be no corresponding statement of repentance from the Catholic Church. Wouldn't you be better off calling your own faith community to account in a spirit of “just anger”, loyalty and love, rather than gleefully hurling abuse at other Christians who have honestly confronted the issues? Thankfully there are many committed Catholics (and a few WCG members) who realize that when you confront the less attractive aspects of your own faith community you aren't being disloyal; in fact it’s an essential part of showing that your love and loyalty actually mean something.

As for slanderous, I’m unclear which statement you’re objecting to. On March 24 I wrote “there would be few readers who wouldn't perceive a very real thread of anti-Semitism in Dankenbring's remarks.” On March 26: “The comparison [with Tkach’s article] makes Dankenbring look churlish.” And on April 17 I noted that Dankenbring’s views were “crassly expressed”. Where’s the slander? If you want to find something slanderous, you’d have more luck reading Dankenbring’s article. 

This correspondence is now concluded.

New Moons and Holy Days: The March 21st new moon which Steve quotes (issue 47) is the astronomical new moon (precise conjunction). In the Hebrew Calendar, the 1st day of the month occurs at the 'Molad' (average conjunction), meaning 'birth of the moon' - UNLESS postponement rules apply, as happens this year. April 5th is correct for Passover. 

In the 1930s Herbert Armstrong followed the COG 7th Day's understanding that the Hebrew Calendar rules calculated Passover from the visible new moon nearest the Spring equinox.

In 1940 HWA wrote that "Brother [Clarence] Dodd has published the date March 22 as Passover" - calculated according to the Spring equinox - but one month earlier than the Hebrew Calendar.

HWA responded, "Unless God has preserved His sacred calendar thru the Jews, WE DO NOT KNOW how to figure Passover or ANY of the holy days this year. There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER for figuring the 1st day of the 1st month from the new moon NEAREST the Spring equinox! ....... The [astronomical] new moon occurs IN JERUSALEM at 10.18pm April 7th. However, God had the new moon observed by the naked eye, and by this method the 1st day of the 1st month begins the following sunset, April 8th."

However, in 1952 HWA wrote, "The 1st day of the new year always begins with the day nearest the Spring equinox when the new moon is first visible to the naked eye at Jerusalem. The Jewish calendar as used by Jews today is correct."

In 1957 Kenneth Herrmann confirmed that, "If the people of Jerusalem, where God's permanent headquarters are to be, cannot see this crescent of the moon following sunset, then the entire world must delay beginning the month till the following sunset. This is the ordinance as it was given by God. We are not free to begin earlier because of the way we see it."

And yet the Worldwide COG consistently began earlier! In the Hebrew calendar, the Day of Trumpets occurs before the crescent of the moon becomes visible in 9 years out of 10! 

In 1981 Herman Hoeh, realizing the problem, wrote, "It is not required that the first faint crescent visible in Jerusalem always be declared the new moon. What is important is that the authority to declare it arises from Jerusalem! The authority of Jerusalem in the person of Hillel II did speak in A.D.358-359 to authorize the present Hebrew calendar."


In search of a registered Democrat: (1) I'm a WCG member and I voted for George Bush. I recently got into a political discussion with an old UCG friend who is anti-Bush. After ten minutes I realized how pointless it was and changed the subject. Splinter group members are not allowed to vote or get involved in politics, so therefore their political opinions are irrelevant. Who cares whether they are Democrat, Republican, or whatever?

Tom A

MD: Well, they tell you they don't vote... but what they actually do on polling day may be another matter  ;-)

(2) It is not possible to be a DEM and COG sympathizer simultaneously. In my opinion, it is not possible to be a DEM and sane simultaneously. When you understand what those people represent, and how anti-American they are, you understand that what they are is pure, unadulterated EVIL!

In my opinion, people who espouse evil are themselves evil, and I am unable to distinguish between the two. (The Bible says hate the sin, love the sinner, but in this case, I can't.)

The DEMS have positioned themselves in such a way that what is bad for America is good for them, and vice-versa. They exalt the creation of God, (animal rights, earth day, no drilling in ANWAR, etc) but debase the pinnacle of God's creation, human life (abortion on demand, including partial birth abortion, euthanasia, etc.) They refuse to accept that there is any morality. They demand that others accept (and approve of) them, while they refuse to tolerate any dissenting opinion. Our media and entertainment industry are filled with these snakes. I can't watch network news for more than five minutes without cussing at the television screen. They exalt any religion EXCEPT Christianity. They are traitorous, treacherous, criminals. They are evil. And the world would be a better place if they ceased to exist.

I hope I didn't sugar coat it too much. 

Randy Karnes

(3) It is not, of course, just COGers who are Bush supporters. Many, if not most, evangelical Christians are, too. You're right in assuming that WCG and heirs are, mostly, still right (wing, that is). No big surprise, since conservatism by definition holds on to "traditional" values.

In some parts of the U.S. -- in much of the South, for instance -- it is still possible to be a Democrat and a conservative Christian. In others (the Northeast comes to mind), it becomes much more difficult. This year, the picture has become complicated by the issue of same-sex marriage, added to the prospect of Roe v. Wade being revisited by the Supreme Court in the not-too-distant future.

One interesting voting pattern is the Roman Catholic one. Catholics have traditionally been Democrats in the U.S. Now, the Catholic Church has been explicit in its opposition to abortion and homosexual marriage, at odds with the positions supported predominantly by the Democrats. You might think, then, that Catholics would not vote Democratic, yet they do, in overwhelming numbers. (Jared Olar care to comment?) A similar picture holds true for many conservative African-American churchgoers, whose votes Democratic candidates can usually take to the bank.

In my own interaction with members of my extended family, all conservative Christians, those who are strong supporters of one side -- regardless of which side -- have nothing good to say about the other. Hearing them -- and the drivel that substitutes for substantive debate during election season -- one is sometimes tempted to echo Mercutio's plaint: "A pox on both your houses"! (Maybe that's why I voted for Ralph Nader last time 'round.)

(4) It's certainly no wonder that political liberals within the Armstrongite fall-out organizations are as scarce as, say, COG ministers demonstrating humility. All that COG members seem to want is a theocratic society that kowtows unconditionally to "godly" leaders, who incidentally marshal "defensive" military forces against the angry "Ishmaelites" (Arab Muslims), and fall over backwards (isn't that a sign of "demon possession"?) to ensure that Israel dominates all of Palestine. Armstrongites cannot countenance truly free societies in which citizens have the social freedoms to make their own decisions as to how to live. After all, in the COG world, those decisions come down from "above" -- meaning the lordly ministers. Advocating actual freedom of choice is dangerous "liberalism", and we can't have that,  can we?

I am not surprised that Spanky, Flurry, Havir, et. al. back up the current administration. After all, Dub-yah Bush will almost certainly go down in history as one of the absolutely worst presidents the U.S. has ever had, and his henchmen will be considered among the most corrupt liars in our history. Corruption, lies, obfuscation: followers of Herbert Armstrong feel right at home with our current "leader". After all, long-time Armstrongite loyalists have worshipped this sort of behavior for decades.

Francis Penkava

(5) Re. the bent of COG types for the Republican Party and conservatism in general, it is indeed true that lots has been said from various pulpits over the decades to perhaps make it seem that there was a leaning in that direction. I have numerous comments to this.

First, my own sordid record. I was in WCG for about 27 years, starting right after my anti-Vietnam protests and sympathy for those of my generation who wanted to change society drastically, like the SDS crowd, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Jerry Rubin, and a bunch of other relatively radical dudes and dudettes. However, I always considered myself a true blue American patriot, but I felt things needed to be changed back then in the late 60s. Many of my buddies went to Nam and a few came back dead, while lots of the others same back as shells of themselves, mostly because the Southeast Asian war was fought with only a regard for politics and not a complete military victory.

Anyway, after getting into WCG my feelings melted from sympathy for some of the abovementioned persons to an analysis of how much, if any, they advocated violence to change the system, which I was not in favor of. Vote, protest, remonstrate, organize, complain and bitch loudly, but forget the violence, already.

After graduating from AC and becoming a part of Pasadena everyday life, I came to a crossroads in 1976 as to whether to register to vote or not. I did, and thereafter voted in almost every single national, state and local election thereafter. Though I intellectually identified myself as conservative-leaning politically, I ended up voting for the GOP, Democrats of every ilk and even a Libertarian or two. A humorous side note is that at times I would go to the local polling booth wearing my shades and a straw hat to partially disguise myself in case one of many hundreds of fellow WCG members might see me...harharhar. I am 6-4 and built like a NFL lineman so I'm sure my disguise worked perfectly.

I have always taken interest in all political campaigns and done what I think is my duty to express myself at the ballot box.

The other thing I want to relate to you is an incident that occured in 73 or 74 when I went to HWA's home for the traditional Senior Dinner, wherein the old boy had 10-12 of the senior class come to his digs for a formal dinner, tour of his place, etc. We all sat down for the meal and during the next 60-90 minutes we engaged HWA in conversation. It was so funny to see some of my brown-nosing mates like Rich S and Mark F ask him various and sundry prophetical, theological and spiritual questions. It was all so serious and kinda somber for quite a while. Well, at one point HWA started complaining about how President Nixon was getting the short end of the stick during the beginning of the Watergate scandal. My mates had little to say about this. I raised my hand to get HWA's attention and said "Mr Armstrong, my dad said that the only reason Nixon got caught at doing what he did was because he didn't have all the experience the Democrats did." My classmates reeled in horror....HWA bellowed in laughter , nodding his head !!!! I guess he liked what I said. But, he didn't make me senior class president by imperial decree.

Now I still feel that I am on the conservative side of political thinking. Both Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken make me sick. I will continue to vote for a candidate according to the issues and her or his stance on them.

God bless democracy!

Keith D Speaks


Havir lionizes "liar": The latest Journal is now out. In a major article Dave Havir proves that - just in case anyone had doubts - the COG tradition actively promotes party political agendas... one party political agenda in particular. At least, that seems the obvious construction on a lengthy endorsement of Bernard Goldberg's books Bias and Arrogance ("let me list a few of the chapter heads", coos Dave, "to pique your interest"). To give Dave his due, you'd have to concede that he froths at the mouth a whole lot less than Gerry Flurry in his recent Trumpet diatribe against the New York Times and the BBC. Dave apparently knows how to put a veneer of impartiality on his prejudices. We can only suggest however that Dave "consider Goldberg's bias and arrogance" (a small and rather weak play on the title of his article).

The book has been described as a "travesty" by Al Franken, who devotes a chapter of his Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them to Bernard Goldberg. Now there's a title we'd bet Dave Havir hasn't read! Mind you, maybe he shouldn't. There are a few colorful word-choices that might fry Dave's refined sensibilities.

Which leads us to ask a question about political preferences in the COG tradition. Not that any of them would openly admit it of course, but COG leaders seem overwhelmingly pro-Bush. Spanky has done his share of cheerleading for the current presidency, and now Dave seems to have exited the closet. Gerry is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. Ron Dart just can't seem to help himself when it comes to getting a sly dig in. We all know what Ted was like. Even Brian Knowles, often a perceptive and compassionate commentator, occasionally indulges in a fit of ranting. So are there any folk out there still in the COG tradition who see things from the other side of the political tracks? If so, we'd love to hear your thoughts on how to be a faithful Church of God member and a Democrat supporter. 

Barabbas again: Jared Olar has been inspired to write in greater depth on the Barabbas question. You'll find his article on the Grace and Knowledge website. Jared is even willing to offer some scholarly correction to the translators of the acclaimed Catholic New American Bible

A Porteous perspective: Bruce Porteous is one of most prolific posters to COG news boards. His views on the supposed prophetic come-uppance of the US and Britain have long grated against the patriotic spirit of many COG members - though arguably he simply picked up Herb's apocalyptic ball and is running with it. The Journal features a full page article by Bruce in its latest issue. 

Feazell: We've added Mike Feazell's website to the links page.

Bonkers: This link to an article in The Guardian comes from an Australian reader. A brief quote.

In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

No, it isn't a reference to the WCG in particular, or Adventism in general, but the article does perhaps shed some light on the political discourse among COG members. Dave should definitely read this one!


What self-respecting Christian woman would want to be co-opted into this kind of power structure?

Women's ordination moves to next phase: The May issue of the WN is now out. Featured is the latest step toward ordination of women in the sect. Pastor Generalissimo Tkach writes:

We believe it is just as important for members to see how we reach our decision, as it is to read the final decision.

Yeah, right. Now there's a novelty. But just think, when Joe and Co. finally recruit a few compliant women into the sect's ministry, the church will still arguably have zero accountability, zero transparency, a rubber-stamp board and a Eastern-bloc-style "president-for-life". Our question: what self-respecting Christian woman would want to be co-opted into this kind of power structure? 

Buddy can you spare Joe a dime? Ron Kelly reports in the same issue: Donation income for the first quarter of the year was just over $3.6 million. Last year, first quarter contributions came in at $4 million, so we are down about 10 percent. However, selected property sales and estate donations have exceeded our projections, making the total income 6 percent more than last year.

COG7 snapshot: With a lot of discussion about COG demographics and their significance for future growth or decline, it's interesting to note that the Church of God (Seventh Day) has published results of a survey within its own denomination. Rather than hide them away and then stonewall enquirers, the information has appeared in the April 2004 Bible Advocate for all to see.

Fifty two congregations participated, 26% of those in the US and Canada. The article states that from "a statistical standpoint, this is more than adequate to make observations about the composite Church with a high degree of confidence." The article continues: "... we believe that the average Sabbath morning attendance in all 200 congregations across the United States and Canada is 11,973."

The survey focused on ethnic makeup, age groups attending, worship styles used, and the age of the congregations. The analysis for the first three of these is reproduced below in simplified form.





Age distribution

Under 13 



 Worship style




More on calendar calculations: Another place to check out the delights of postponements and stuff is a level-headed article on the Painful Truth site by "Stinger". The writer's conclusions might be worth quoting:

-  The "Jewish" calendar originated in Babylon, not the Bible,
-  Calculations for Jewish festival days are arbitrary and set by men, not scripture,
-  These days can be off as much as two days from the original day ordained by the Law of Moses,
-  Anyone who pretends to be observing any "holy day" on its "God ordained" place on the calendar is just fooling themselves. More likely, they are only satisfying the desires of their cunning leaders to have a holy "pay-day" instead.

God speaks to moderator - reveals Satan loose on Yahoo!  Tim, the former UCG Yahoo group moderator who calls himself "berean95", has disclosed to readers of the new UCG Yahoo board the Lord's special revelation:

To make a long story short, I've spent countless hours consumed by COG internet forums. My personal opinion: They don't work. They're a device for Satan to divide the brethren. Plain and simple. When I came to this revelation, I knew it was time to immediately end the forum I created under the title of "United Church of God."

Tim has stated however that UCG did not request that he close the former board, and the decision was his alone.


Could these be the same visitors who walked around campus recently praying at each of the buildings and anointing them?

Holy, holy , holy!  The following news was delivered by carrier pigeon just as this upload was being prepared.

There's nothing quite like doing lunch in Old Town Pasadena. Imagine being seated next to a table of people who are the buyers of the main campus. Imagine overhearing them loudly proclaim that they expect escrow to close on the West Campus sometime around May 15. Could these be the same visitors who walked around campus recently praying at each of the buildings and anointing them? Let's see now, isn't anointing buildings something charismatics seem to do a lot of to get rid of demonic forces (perhaps there's a message there somewhere... Out damned Herb!) And didn't these "oily types" also mention that they expect escrow to close in mid May?

Giving it away to Gerry: The ESN site has published more excerpts from recent PCG-cult literature, this time from the member magazine Royal Vision. Gerry, the article implies, is keen for cult members to bestow their worldly goods into worthy hands when they go to meet their maker, without danger of contestability by upset relatives. The mechanism he's promoting is a "payable on death" benefit. You'll find the ESN feature here.

ESN has also published a letter claiming that Gerry has - against all assurances to the contrary - changed sections of Herbert Armstrong's near-sacred text Mystery of the Ages to better reflect his cult's doctrinal peculiarities. Excerpts:

In chapter 6 – Mystery of the Church; Section – One Church with One Government, page 244-245 of the WCG version: “No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church” .  This was deleted from the Philadelphia Church of God copyrighted version on page 245.  

The correspondent then goes on to quote the Mighty Prophet himself: “Look how [HWA] praised that book brethren! He said it was the second most important book on this earth, next to the Bible. And 95% of his own people don’t even want it…..Because, it doesn’t mesh and square with what they're teaching. That’s why they don’t want it. They're heathen or worse!!”  He then adds "Well, at least we know what Mr. Flurry thinks of himself!!"  

Postponements, New Moons and stuff: Douglas Becker has waded in where others fear to tread. The issue is calendars and holy day calculations. For some of us these topics just make our eyes glaze over as we edge our way as unobtrusively as possible to the door muttering things like "forgot to feed the cat". For others this is important, riveting stuff. If you're in the second category, you'll definitely want to read one of the most incisive commentaries on this subject available on the web. Douglas' formidable writing skills almost make it entertaining too... almost. Included are a couple of letters sent to MD on this subject, and now published in full for the first time.

Douglas also has a second column debuting on his site. This one is simply called Lies

Deacon bashes Bishop: A quote from Peter Espeut, a sociologist and deacon in the Catholic church, appearing in a Jamaican newspaper column.

Over the last several years, almost single-handedly because of his access to the media, Ian Boyne has set the agenda for popular religious discourse in Jamaica. His programmes on Radio Jamaica and TVJ, and his articles in this newspaper, push the line of the 'Church of God International', the breakaway church of Garner Ted Armstrong, of which he is Bishop. I say "Let all ideas contend". At this time of year his message is that Easter is a pagan celebration. If you repeat something often enough, people might begin to believe it; so it is important that the other side - the validity of Christian tradition - be exposed.

Bishop? Somehow I've never imagined Ian with a pectoral cross and shepherd's staff, though he'd doubtless look most impressive wearing an Episcopal miter (or mitre, depending on whether your spelling is High Anglican). Espeut then goes on to say.

There is no dispute among scholars that the word 'Easter' has pagan roots in worship of the god Astarte. Only the word. The Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead - called Easter in English-speaking countries - is decidedly not pagan, as Boyne and his church erroneously contend. Easter is the Christian Passover...

Last Sunday, the Boyne camp made it clear that where the Christian Church went wrong was to depart from Jewish ways. The Armstrong church keeps the Passover instead of Easter and the Feast of Tabernacles instead of Christmas, a sign that they are really Old Testament Christians, still considering themselves under the Old Covenant. People are free to express their belief, but then to claim that New Testament Christians who operate under the New Covenant are taking part in pagan practices is unbecoming and intellectually dishonest. If the word 'Easter' has a pagan etymology, does that make Christian Easter celebrations pagan? ...

Through Christ, God has entered into a new covenant, a new contract, with humanity. God did not take the old covenant and just add a few new clauses; the covenant is utterly new, but this fact is totally lost on those who want only a modified old covenant. The Judaisers that the great Pharisee - St. Paul the Apostle - fought against, are still with us!

I notice that in some cultures, bunnies and eggs and bonnets have become associated with Eastertime. So has kite-flying and bun-and-cheese. The Christian celebration of Easter is devoid of all of this, and it is dishonest for anyone to suggest that New Covenant Christians use them or attach any religious significance to them.

I hardly think that my few words will prevent those who seek to criticise traditional Christianity from doing so. They have their agenda. What I hope is that those who wish to celebrate Easter will do so with a clear conscience, without the doubts which these critics wish to create.

Ian seems quite relaxed about the criticism. In a recent column of his own he offers some further thoughts about The Passion of the Christ and the future of Christianity.

What me worry: Our quote of the week comes from Bob Thiel, who uses flawless logic to counter suggestions that COG demographics indicate a slippery slope to oblivion. 

Finally, however 'demographically doomed' anyone feels the COGs may be, that is not relevant. Why? Because according to Jesus, they cannot be! "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18 NKJV). Thus, the true church, the Church of God, cannot die out. Furthermore, as the COGwriter site has repeatedly pointed out, there will only be a remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God around at the end, thus the percentage figures are meaningless for that. Anyway, God's 6,000 year plan is soon coming to a close, so even if other COGs do not grow, there will also still be Laodiceans and some from Sardis at the end (see Revelation 3). 

So there!

Dennis the menace: Every time Dennis Diehl writes something for MD, either in his occasional column or as a mailbag item, we can be sure of getting a reaction. It doesn't seem to matter that Dennis is often reflecting views that have wide currency outside of fundamentalist and evangelical circles. The most colorful riposte so far arrived this week, accusing Dennis of using an "Anal Auto-Extraction Methodology".   

Why Dennis, whose latest column is now available, gets a hard time might have something do do with his former status as a WCG pastor. Other departing ministers have usually advocated a variation on the fundamentalist theme. It seems much can be forgiven ex-WCG ministers; they can solicit tithes, set prophetic dates, give lethal health advice, convert to Missouri Lutheranism, or worse. But woe betide anyone who dares to call into question the assumptions on which we erect the very scaffolding for our beliefs. Dennis has done just that, and it's a perspective that deserves hearing every bit as much as the facile schismatic agendas that continually bombard the COG community. If our insecurities are challenged in the process, perhaps that's an invitation to do some real thinking rather than knee-jerking. In the words of Tennyson, "There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds."

Celebrity Rat: The winner of the "readers' choice" category for the floating rat photo ("by a whisker") is Garner Ted's burial at sea, submitted by Randy Karnes. 

The judges' choice, once votes were tallied, was Ambassador Auditorium's future - dead in the water, submitted by Ozatoz. Other entries that attracted significant support were:

*It's just not the cesspool it used to be (Tom A.)
*While visiting the campus and auditorium, you won't want to miss a fine photo opportunity for your family in front of the Egrets... hrrr... EGRATS (Bill Lussenheide)
*So much for trying to walk on water when you don't know how to swim (Thomas Munson)
*Mysterious death of cult leader probed (Ed Underwood)
*Well, we couldn't find a horse's head (Bill Hohmann)
*He just wouldn't quit blathering about Mr. Armstrong and the good ole days - so we had to whack him (Charles Reager)
*Another proselyte drowning in a sea of confusion (Steve K.)
*Hey Joe, these things aren't unclean anymore. Think anyone will recognize what this is at our next potluck if it's deep fried? (Thomas Munson)
*Ah shoot! I ate too much gold leaf (anon.)

Several late entries were also received for the caption. Better late than never. Here they are:

*Last words of the floating rat: "LIKE YOU, HERB, I DRANK TOO MUCH!!!!!!
*See, I told you I could get my picture taken on the AC campus!
*Hmmm, I always suspected Ambassador was run by a bunch of sick rats....
*Shhh! Buzzards!
*What's that rat doing in the water? The backstroke or the bloatstroke!

Special thanks to the judges, Cheryl Allworth, Bill Hohmann, Mike Minton, Seamus - and Seamus' literary agent. 

More rat publicity: Cheryl Allworth, who also happened to be one of the caption judges, has forwarded the rat photograph (along with two close-up shots) to the Pasadena Star News. Here's her (as yet unpublished) cover letter:

A Rat in Ambassador's Anticipated Awakening?

Dear Opinion Editor:

As an ex-member of the Worldwide Church of God who attended Ambassador College from 1975-1978, I am writing in response to the March 29, 2004 letter by Roman Andrew Borek... 

First of all, it is my understanding that Bernard Schnippert and Mat Morgan actually wrote the letter, and asked Roman if it was okay to put his name on it.  And secondly, I'm not so sure that Ambassador Auditorium continues to be as well-maintained as this letter claims.   Just take a look at the attached photos (taken by a photographer who wishes to remain anonymous...) of the dead rat floating in the auditorium pool, and you'll see what I mean.

Have a great day (and a good laugh too....)!

Cheryl comments: I don't know whether or not the PSN will publish my letter, but at least the staff can have a good laugh pondering the irony and symbolism of a dead rat floating in the allegedly well-maintained "architectural & acoustical jewel" and "treasure awaiting its rebirth". 

Weekly Mailbag

Dr. Tabor:  (1) Seems like James Tabor [AW 10 Apr] is popping up everywhere this Easter: In another Special, 'Banned from the Bible' - a two-hour survey of Apocrypha and the mess that was canonization, Tabor comments on the graphic description of Hell in the Apocalypse of Peter: He uses the opportunity to press home an Armstrongian 'No Hell' (or Hell No!) point of view - even telling us that he has visited 'Hell' (the Valley of Hinom) !

Incidentally, it was a close call but John's Apocalypse got the nod instead of Peter's because, it is reasoned, his Apocalypse says that God may one day release all the tormentees from Hell if enough saints in Heaven petition him. What will they call this act ? The Perdition Petition ?

(2) The remarks regarding Dr. James Tabor, and his appearance on the BBC documentary about the possibility of Jesus surviving the crucifixion, seem to place him outside of the "credible" category of scholars. The truth is, Tabor, along with Elaine Pagels and any number of other scholars of religious history, have been featured on several such documentary presentations. Sometimes these broadcasts are done is a somewhat tabloid, breathless manner, I admit. But don't assume that Pagels et. al. are unaware of how the subject matter will be presented. And don't assume that Tabor, simply because of a long history of loose association with the COG's, is not a credible scholar. He is highly regarded in the field of Religious Studies generally, and within the focus of Christian origins and the early  Jesus movement specifically. In addition, he has done notable work in the study of the Dead Sea scrolls, the texts of which were jealously hidden for decades, and only made publicly available several years ago. Tabor is, after all, a full professor of religion at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and I can attest that the Religious Studies Department there is of high academic caliber. He is regarded as rather controversial in the field of Religious Studies, but that can be considered a good point in academia, where ideas and issues easily may get stuck into a quagmire of orthodoxy. Certainly, Dr. Tabor has associated with, and studied, the groups and personalities of the COG umbrella for many years now. If anything, contact with such out-of-mainstream ideas can create an original  perspective in the mind of a true scholar. And I consider Dr. Tabor to be a true, and original, scholar, even though I probably disagree with him in a number of areas. Please give the man his due!

Francis Penkava

MD: James Tabor's academic credentials are not a matter of dispute. He is one of a handful of legitimate scholars with a WCG background (others include Lester Grabbe and the late Charles Dorothy). 

Prayer ranks: The un-official LCG prayer list found at has always contained up to date info on people who need our prayers. However, recently it seems that the prayer list has become even more helpful! Before, you were only given the name and status of a person who needed God's intervention. Now, you get their membership status! That's right, now beside each name is a coded letter!

M=Member | C=Coworker | N=Non-Member 

Draw your own conclusions. 

Anti-Semitism: I've been meaning to reply to your latest comments on alleged anti-Semitism in Dankenbring's remarks on The Passion of the Christ, but haven't had a chance to do so until today.

In answer to your question, no, I don't think the old classic polemic of Christian anti-Judaism is anti-Semitic. The religious anti-Judaism of the New Testament and the early centuries of Church history was a contributing factor in the development of anti-Semitism, but is rightly to be distinguished from anti-Semitism. Anti-Judaism is opposition to Judaism on religious or theological grounds. Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews for being Jews. The Bible contains anti-Judaism, but is wholly devoid of anti-Semitism. For scholarly treatments of this subject, see [this link] and [this link]...

Anyway, I don't see any "racial slurs" in Dankenbring's polemic, so I would not be able to classify his words as anti-Semitic. Ill-thought and rude, to be sure, but not anti-Semitic -- and while you may find Dankenbring's comments distasteful, it's slanderous for you to compare them to the obscene anti-Semitic vitriol for which the father of Protestant Christianity is justly infamous...

Jared L. Olar

MD: C'mon Jared, play fair. Luther's position was exactly the one you're making excuses for. His vitriol was directed at people who were religious Jews. Biographer Roland Bainton is at pains to point out that this was not an issue of race, but religion (which is your point... congratulations, you agree with "the father of Protestant Christianity"!) Luther's intention was that Jews convert to Christianity, at which point his objections faded away. If Luther is guilty of "obscene anti-Semitic vitriol" (and I agree that he is) then you'd better take a good look at your own statements.

Your first link (to the Vatican site) makes no reference to some form of acceptable "anti-Judaism". Quite the contrary. The carefully worded conclusion states: 

"This discord is not to be taken as “anti-Jewish sentiment”, for it is disagreement at the level of faith, the source of religious controversy between two human groups that take their point of departure from the same Old Testament faith basis, but are in disagreement on how to conceive the final development of that faith. Although profound, such disagreement in no way implies reciprocal hostility. The example of Paul in Rm 9-11 shows that, on the contrary, an attitude of respect, esteem and love for the Jewish people is the only truly Christian attitude in a situation which is mysteriously part of the beneficent and positive plan of God. Dialogue is possible, since Jews and Christians share a rich common patrimony that unites them. It is greatly to be desired that prejudice and misunderstanding be gradually eliminated on both sides, in favour of a better understanding of the patrimony they share and to strengthen the links that bind them."

That's a world away from the crassly expressed views of Dankenbring.

Anagrams: An anagram is where all the letters of a word are rearranged to give a different meaning. IS THERE SECRET PROPHETIC MEANING OR SIGNIFICANCE HIDDEN IN CHURCH LEADER NAMES?? Inquiring and searching minds need to know! Here are some anagrams for various COG leaders with possible implications... 

Gerald Flurry...."Grr!, Yell Fraud !" also... "Glad Ruler, Fry! "

Garner Ted Armstrong..."Damn Gangster Terror"

Rod Meredith... "The Dim Order" also... "Direr Method" 

Mister Herbert W Armstong ..."Grim Worst Brethren Master "

Perhaps this could become a new contest! 

Bill Lussenheide 

MD: Only if you're organizing it, Bill!  ;-)

No mystery at all: I don’t know if [Jim] could have picked an easier title to rebut [than] "The Jesus Mysteries". The seven page bibliography not only lacks the Graves book but it only has a handful of works prior to the 20th century. 

But they are generally old (early 1900s) anyway, and obscure ... modern scholarship has left many of those authorities in the dust.

[Jim states that] the authors are fully qualified to write on the subject of the Jesus-myth. Well, let’s discuss that. One of their frequent citations is “The Mysteries of Mithra” published in 1903. The author, Cumont, makes a comparison between Christianity and Mithraism, and in doing so is quite particular to assert that contrary to Mithras Jesus was a real person. Do Freke and Gandy (the “Authors”) tell us that in their work?

They cite Justin Martyr numerous times... They fail to advise their readership that this second century chap wrote in his First Apology LX: "But in no instance, not even in any of those called sons of Jupiter, did they imitate the being crucified; for it was not understood by them, all the things said of it having been put symbolically.” Justin Martyr is firm in stating that pagans never claimed that any of their god-heroes were crucified, and he predates the third century crucifixion pictures that the Authors use to bolster their notion that Bacchuus suffered crucifixion. Why do the Authors fail to inform us of this?

The Authors make the claim that “no serious scholar” believes that Josephus wrote the Testamonium. Michael Grant and Robin Lane Fox are serious scholars and atheists besides, but they attach the Testamonium to Josephus. So do Brown, Crossan, France, Meier and numerous others.

The Authors offer a footnote from an essay by A.T. Fear to prove their case, but they entirely avoid revealing Fear’s testimony that the Attis Cult modified “itself in significant ways with the passing of the years” which modifications he says “seem to have been provoked by a need to respond to the challenge of Christianity.” 

They refer to Godwin who says that the Mysteries of Attis “had some form of communion” and then go on to say that what was being eaten and drunk was “most likely”….”bread and wine” ... Vermasen, acknowledged as the expert on Attis festivals says that wine and bread were forbidden at Attis festivals.

The Authors tell us of the taurobolium  (bull sacrifice) and want us to think that it predates the time of Jesus and inform us that this ceremony was referred to with the phrase “washed in the blood of the lamb” (those who couldn’t afford a bull supposedly used a sheep). I don’t think they tell us that it was Prudentius who, only as early as 400 AD, describes the taurobolium as having saving power, nor that the rite was only first described in 245 AD. 

The Authors claim that it was anciently known that the earth went around the sun and that this knowledge was lost because of Christianity. This is simply dippy, and needs no rebuttal. They make the claim that early Christians destroyed pagan writings en masse. They attempt to support their claim by quotations from “Enemies of the Roman Order” by Ray MacMullen who does not appear to me to support that notion.

They claim that the book of Acts is second century fiction, yet they use it as an authority to try to prove that Paul was a Gnostic. I am just giving you a smattering of problems from here and there. The point is that these guys are not acting like scholars.

How many monographs have they written? How many peer reviewed papers? Between the two Authors... zero. I don’t count them as historians.

[Again, Jim states] that it is distressing to see... the patently-absurd and thoroughly-disproved charge that the reason Dennis and others write about the Jesus-myth is from "a desire not to be bound by the moral imperative of the gospels and the rest of the Bible.

What I said was “Some may do it from an effort to be intellectually honest, but I suspect that many do it from a desire not to be bound by the moral imperatives…” I did not imply, nor mean to imply, that Dennis is in one category or the other.

Whenever the Christian apologists are in a confrontation they must lose, they turn to the old Christian propaganda that one cannot be moral unless a believer in fabricated fairy tales.

My reason for making the comment is that I have had too many people confess that this is why they want to disbelieve the Bible. It’s from their own words. I know that not everyone offers that rationale, and this is why I only said that “many” have that motive. And many do. In some time past I have had it too.

Gordon Feil

MD: This letter has been condensed due to length. 


Carl McNair: Leading LCG minister Carl McNair has died following further health setbacks in recent days. He is believed to have suffered two strokes, and was treated in ICU. Living Church of God leader Roderick Meredith referred to Carl McNair in a March member letter:

Just yesterday, I had a long and loving talk with Mr. Carl McNair on the telephone. During the last half of our conversation he revealed to me something that shook me and brought me to tears. My long-time friend and brother told me that he now has been diagnosed with deadly bone cancer! The doctor indicated he might only have a few months to live! Mr. McNair is in good spirits and certainly indicated his faith in God in every way. He indicated that God is in charge—and he knows that God’s will shall be done. However, it really hit me to know of the trial that he was going through, as I know it will hit most of you. So I urge you to join me and those of us here in Charlotte in praying fervently for Mr. Carl McNair at this time. 

Note: The next regular AW update is scheduled for Friday night.


Watch out for lightning strikes: From a Pasadena Star News article by Gary Scott.

Two local religious institutions are working together to buy some or all of the Worldwide Church of God's remaining Ambassador campus property, and want to put the mothballed classrooms and sanctuaries back to use. Maranatha High School and Harvest Rock Church have expressed a strong interest in the buildings that line St. John Avenue, including the threatened Ambassador Auditorium...

Once home to the church's Ambassador College, the campus could be converted back into classrooms with Harvest Rock using the auditorium as its sanctuary under the latest plan. The two groups are currently leasing space from William Carey International University in Pasadena. "We've made no secret of the fact that we continue to look for a permanent home for the school,' said Maranatha board President David Poole. But, he added, "We don't comment on the status of investigations that we are making into potential campus sites.' Officials at Harvest Rock also declined to comment on a potential deal, though a representative said the church may have something to announce next week...

Reached Wednesday, Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning, would neither confirm nor deny that any negotiations are under way. "As of today, the west campus is solely the property of the Worldwide Church of God,' Schnippert said. "We are going to move forward with entitlements unless lightning strikes.' ...
Founded in the 1960s, Maranatha High School was operating in Sierra Madre on property leased from the Pasadena Unified School District. PUSD took the property back and Maranatha sought to build a new high school in the city. The proposal was rejected by the Sierra Madre City Council and is now the subject of a lawsuit. Poole said the nondenominational Christian school has "aggressively' sought a permanent campus for its 425 students and came close to buying the former St. Luke Medical Center from Tenant Healthcare Corp. last year. Tenant ultimately sold the property to Caltech.

Harvest Rock is affiliated with Harvest International Ministries, a charismatic Christian denomination that, among other things, sponsors "The Call,' a daylong revival held at the Rose Bowl...

Mike Vogler, executive director of SSOG, said he would welcome a buyer that planned to preserve the campus. "We don't care who the owners are, they still have obligations to this community,' he said. "They are going to have the same fight unless they are consistent with the densities on Orange Grove.' 

Paul Kieffer

German Inter-COG site: There are not too many examples of cross-COG co-operation. One that seems to qualify is found at Follow the link and you'll find yourself at something called United Christian Outreach Germany. How effective a German outreach on an English language website run from America might be isn't explained. 

The UCOG site is largely the work of UCG member and GN writer Paul Kieffer, formerly WCG's Regional Director in that part of Europe. The site advertises the UCG's German GN (Gute Nachrichten). Two of UCOG's founding board members, John and Frances Burquist, were however members of the LCG (Mrs. Burquist has since died). The other two, Paul Kieffer and Scott Thomas, are with United. 

A news item on the site reports: The "Bundes-Verlag", a publisher of Christian magazines and books, has accepted an ad for the Gute Nachrichten magazine, which will appear in a special advertizing brochure for the "Jesus-Day", a convention of evangelical Christians to be held in Berlin in September. The ad asks the question "Why are you alive?". 

What the evangelical-wanna-be WCG in Germany thinks of this is unknown. 

UCG goes full throttle on booklet: UCG knows a window of opportunity when it sees one, and is in top gear in promoting its new Jesus booklet. Perhaps you could even say they're passionate about it. Excerpts from the latest Home Office Update:

Because of increased public interest of late in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and with Passover and Easter on people's minds, a special Web page was developed offering the Church's new booklet, Jesus Christ: The Real Story... This special Web page address is being advertised through four main sources:

1. A press release was submitted to a global online press release agency, PR Web. This same press release was sent to elders to release in their areas...

2. Newspaper column ads were created for local church areas to use in local papers..

3. Increased exposure through has been initiated, which displays search results in leading Web site search engines.

4. On April 7, the religion editors of 222 U.S. newspapers were mailed the press release, along with two versions of our column advertisements.

In just over a week, 761 requests for the booklet and The Good News magazine have been received via this Web page using the advertising methods above...

There is still enough interest in this subject globally for the newspaper ads to be effective for the next several weeks... If you are able to take advantage of free or very low cost advertising space in the religion or movie section of a community newspaper, it could be well worth the effort.

Bushwacked: As a couple of correspondents have pointed out (see the mailbag below) the pro-Bush website which carried HWA's United States and Britain in Prophecy text is also openly promoting the apocalyptic views of the PCG cult. A link on the main page takes readers to a Ron Fraser article at PCG's Trumpet website. It seems the webmaster, or one of his buddies, is a dedicated cult member. An implied endorsement from "that prophet" is however hardly an asset for any political figure attempting to maintain some form of credibility. Who'll they dredge up next, the Branch Davidians? 

Come to think of it, didn't Joseph Smith, "prophet, seer and revelator" of the Latter Day Saints, once run for president of the US? Maybe Gerry has a few plans of his own down the track. Perhaps Coors could even put some money into his campaign fund... 

Dr. Tabor's Good Friday Message: New Zealanders looking for some inspirational Easter television fare may have been surprised by the content of a British documentary which aired Friday morning on TV1. A few may have choked on their hot cross buns. COG members, however, would have been doubly surprised. Did Jesus Die? rehearsed a range of colorful theories suggesting that Jesus survived the crucifixion and then fled Palestine. His alleged destinations ranged from the south of France (with Mary Magdalene and the kids) to Kashmir. The program was first shown on Britain's BBC4 in August last year. 

So what's the COG connection? A range of authorities were wheeled out to provide talking head shots. Whether anyone explained the program's agenda to such credible scholars as John Dominic Crossan, Elaine Pagels and Paula Frederiksen is unknown. Perhaps they were seduced by the fact that the show was to be used by the BBC. But joining this illustrious line-up was none other than COG scholar James Tabor. In fact, Tabor probably appeared more often than any of the others during the 40 minute documentary, and floated the idea that Jesus - if he had survived - would have gone East to India, far from the reach of Rome. Viewers were then treated to film of the grave of Jesus in Kashmir, complete with carved footprints bearing crucifixion scars! 

An interview with the film's director, Peter Denton, is available online. It includes these statements: 

Whilst not saying that [the resurrection is] a literal truth they don't actually say it's a lie, but if you're saying something's not literal truth then you are saying it's a lie... the idea that you can go on preaching this to the ordinary stupid faithful while not believing it yourself seemed to me truly offensive.

I was intrigued because most academic theologians and intelligent churchmen, or a very significant number of them, do not believe that the resurrection is the literal truth. It's a metaphor to tell us that there is hope. Whilst not saying that it's a literal truth they don't actually say it's a lie, but if you're saying something's not literal truth then you are saying it's a lie. I was shocked that none of the people we interviewed, with the exception of the Cannon of Westminster, believed it was true. Yet if they don't think it's true what on earth do they think is the motivation behind writing the story in the Bible? ... the idea that you can go on preaching this to the ordinary stupid faithful while not believing it yourself seemed to me truly offensive.

Aussie readers can get the video from the ABC for $30.95.  

Sect launches on Pentecost: What's happening with the ICG splinter group CGW (Churches of God, Worldwide)? The positive news is that they don't seem to have fractured into yet smaller groups - yet. Which is an accomplishment in itself bearing in mind the CGW's torturous path to obscurity (via ICG-CGI-WCG). In fact a founding conference of some sort is scheduled for Pentecost. Here's an excerpt from a recent missive by George Trent. 

It seems like Pentecost weekend is the date God wants us to launch the "New Beginning" of the Churches of God, Worldwide. We originally set March 27th as the date, but that did not work out. We then switched the date to the weekend of May 1st, but a convention was being held in New Orleans and the room rates were double the normal rates, so that was out. With Mother's Day falling the second weekend of May we decided to move the startup date to Pentecost weekend. It seems appropriate that we would begin this Church on the same day God began His Church. 

CGW is also busy getting Feast of Tabernacles venues organized in Lexington, Fort Walton and Colorado Springs. 

Captions: More than 50 entries were received in the quest for an appropriate caption for the photograph of the rat in the Auditorium pool. Below you'll find every single one. One or two have been slightly edited to minimize the risk of offensive language. 

Several individuals have kindly agreed to choose their favorite entries. Votes from these judges will then be collated to produce an overall "official winner". In addition all readers are invited to submit up to 3 selections for a "reader's choice" category. Just email MD the numbers of your personal favorites (up to 3 numbers, one email per reader) by next Friday. All results will be online next weekend, along with the identities (where supplied) of the winners. 

And now... the captions. They're listed in the order they were received.

Click here to view the original photograph

01. Even the rats are leaving the WCG-campus now...

02. This one didn't leave the sinking ship fast enough.

03. Appropriately reincarnated, Herbie drowns his sorrow on discovering what Tkach has done to his empire.

04. Ever since the "Passion" was released, everyone is getting in on the walking on water...

05. No one dared ask the question on many minds -- whether it was a clean or unclean meat. 

06. Garner Ted's burial at sea. 

07. An early scout from the Flurry organization meets his untimely demise 

08. It's just not the cesspool it used to be. 

09. Once again, a WCG minister attempts to test his faith by walking on water.

10. While visiting the campus and auditorium, you won't want to miss a fine Photo Opportunity for your family in front of the Egrets...hrrrr...EGRATS!

11. dRat! Another died... Oh well, I guess that's just more retirement money for the rest of us!

12. Well, it's a start.

13. Tkach Goes Swimming

14. Ambassador Auditorium's future - dead in the water!

15. This rat didn't desert the sinking ship fast enough

16. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

17. Did someone leave the WCG office door open?

18. You doirty doirty rat!" (In a James Cagney gangster voice)

19. Joseph Tkach missing, feared dead 

20. Garner Ted, having found that reincarnation does occur, ponders his new form

21. At least he won't have to see the tribulation.

22. His next waking moment will be to meet Christ in the air or be tossed into the lake of fire. 

23. He tithed on his net but never tithed on his gross so into the lake of fire with him. 

24. He either did not have enough faith that God would heal him, or the minister he supported didn't. 

25. He asked for God to heal him when he got anointed, but God's answer was no... 

26. Hey Joe, these things aren't unclean anymore. Think anyone will recognize what this is at our next potluck if it's deep fried? 

27. So much for trying to walk on water when you don't know how to swim! 

28. The rats are abandoning the sinking ship. 

29. Another poor A. C. graduate who didn't become a minister. 

30. "Hey guys, I think I see Ramona with cement shoes on down there!" 

31. The apostle rat swimming in a pool of Dom Perignon. "Hiccup!" 

32. Another proselyte drowning in the sea of confusion. 

33. I've heard of the chickens coming home to roost, but rats? 

34. Rat fails to walk on water--Joe Jr. to follow suit?

35. WCG's food-for-the-community program: preparing rat stew for the West Pasadena Residents' Association.

36. There is a rat -- and a wrong -- baptism. 

37. He just wouldn't quit blathering about Mr. Armstrong and the good ole days - so we had to whack him.

38. Having lived a life of fine dining and easy listening in the Ambassador Auditorium, Ricky Rat, realizing that "The Great God" a former resident, had indeed left the House for good, jumped from his Penthouse overlooking the campus into the reflecting pool below. He did not survive which is a good thing, as there would have been no retirement see, it all works out! 

39. Like a few unfortunate souls, suicide was the only way out of the cult for this guy 

40. Hey, nobody told me that Herbie's doctrine was laced with rat poison 

41. Hey Herbie. Nice swimming pool 

42. Ah shoot! I ate too much gold leaf! 

43. Well, Brethren!! God will do the same to you if you dare drink water on the day of atonement !!! 

44. Look Ma. I can still see the gold leaf from here! 

45. Man, wud' they put in this kool aid? 

46. Oh Jeez! I hope the Egrets don't spot me! 

47. Isn't like a " rat" to think they have faith (even  to walk on water). 

48. Alas, Mr Albrecht never made it home for dinner that night. 

49. Siege mentality was running hot as the finishing touches were added to the new moat. 

50. Not realizing that Mr. Schnippert was joking about what he heard perched in the rafters, as to what the former ministry could do if they needed to retire someday, Ricky Rat takes Mr. Schnippert's "Plan B" literally. 

51. Poor rat didn't make it off the sinking ship. 

52. Mysterious death of cult leader probed.

53. Before the big ones started jumping ship, a "volunteer test rat" met an untimely end.

54. After years of working his way up from folding chair setter-upper, to prayer guy, to song leader and finally to deacon - it became apparent that Larry Rat had achieved all that he could under the present circumstances of the WCG. So he ended it all. 

55.  Rat finds spiritual peace and repose at Auditorium.

56. Well, we couldn't find a horse's head ...

57. Coming Home: damned to hell, Joseph Tkach swims laps while pondering exercising in the pool he pissed in while freeing enslaved Armstrongites.

List your 3 choices & email them to MD

There were also a few additional commentaries on the photograph. J. Caruso was reminded of Romans 1:18 and noted it would be "a fitting tribute to a fine group of scoundrels". Bill Lussenheide found himself humming the lyrics of "Muskrat Love", performed in the 70s by The Captain & Tennile:

And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed
Singin' and jingin' the jango
Floatin' like the heavens above
It looks like muskrat (Philadelphian) love ....

Cheryl wondered about Roman Borek's recent letter, and thought a caption might be lurking there. She paraphrases:

Let us pause for a moment of gratitude and acknowledgement as we ponder WCG's exquisite support, maintenance and upkeep of the Ambassador Auditorium; for without the church's initial vision and continued support, we would not have such a treasure awaiting its rebirth in anticipation that this fine, acoustical jewel [dead rats and all....] may once again be filled with audiences from patrons of the arts to school children.

Bill Hohmann recollected his days at AC where he became something of an authority on this subject:

When I was a student, it was my job to clean and do maintenance on the reflective pool around the auditorium, and I was always pulling dead rats out of the skimmers that are around the edge, but out of site. They had to be done by hand, and I learned very quickly to wear gloves, as you couldn't see the skimmers, only feel them.

Bill also contributed this multiple choice item.

What's that dead rat doing in the pool?  

a. Floating while bloating
b. Making a prophetic statement
c. Reflecting 
d. all of the above

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Weekly Mailbag

Jesus Mysteries: Dennis Diehl needs no defense from me concerning his paper as we are pretty much on the same page. But the letter by Mr. Feil cries out for a comment or two.

Dennis is lumped together with those so-called Jesus-myth writers who base their points on a book by Kersey Graves of the 19th century "or other 19th century theorists."

Well, I suggest Mr. Feil should read "The Jesus Mysteries" by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (1999). The seven page bibliography not only lacks the Graves book but it only has a handful of works prior to the 20th century. The authors are fully qualified to write on the subject of the Jesus-myth. Mr Freke has authored 20 books on world mysticism. Mr. Gandy has an M.A. in Classical Civilization, specializing in the Ancient Pagan Mystery Religions from which flowed the various Christian flavors of religion.

Further, it is distressing to see Mr. Feil trot out the patently-absurd and thoroughly-disproved charge that the reason Dennis and others write about the Jesus-myth is from "a desire not to be bound by the moral imperative of the gospels and the rest of the Bible." Whenever the Christian apologists are in a confrontation they must lose, they turn to the old Christian propaganda that one cannot be moral unless a believer in fabricated fairy tales.

Jim Baldwin

Jesus existed: In response to your April 3 comment that “Elaine Pagels' comments…demonstrate that many of Dennis' concerns are also held by historians and theologians very much in the mainstream” I believe that Dennis thinks Jesus did not exist and that his attacks on the historicity of the Gospels are designed to support that notion, whereas Elaine Pagels, like all historians trained in the classics accepts that Jesus existed. I make this comment lest anyone garners the impression, from your comment, that Ms. Pagels supports Dennis’ central thesis (although you did not say that).

Gordon Feil 

Achtung! The LCG Reichsbureau of Travel just released this important announcement: Mr. Don Davis writes: Some members are asking if it is all right, while the flight costs are low, to book round-trip airline tickets now for the Feast on the Island of Kauai, even though they do not yet have approval for that site. The answer is yes, if they don't mind risking a cancellation fee, in the event approval is not possible. The Festival Brochure (with the form to request a transfer) is going through the editorial process now. Hopefully, it will be in members’ mail boxes before the day of Pentecost. The Festival Office does not anticipate a flood of transfer requests to Hawaii this year; so, although it is possible some may not be approved, the risk is small. For those who are hoping to attend in Kauai, please be sure to count the cost. The Church is not in a position to help anyone get home if they run short of funds. 

Hmmmm. Now according to COG tradition, isn't the leftovers of second tithes supposed to go to needy members? Doesn't a church member stranded at a Feast site constitute a needy cause? Apparently "counting the cost" overrides simple, basic, feeding the flock. Maybe the LCG doesn't have the funds to help out members because HQ is busy preparing, of all things, a color photo album of all the officers (I mean serving ministers) for the members to fawn over. They certainly can't eat it, or use it as a second tithe resource. Also, as reported in a recent LCG article, HQ is "saving" tithes for the "Work", as a "rainy day fund". This simply is another "servant leadership" warning to follow up the last FOT site edict: You go where you are told to go. Want to go to the Islands? Go ahead. Hope you can make it back. Better go where we tell you to go, little sheep. It 's just better that way.

Paul Ray

Covington after WCG: I read that someone was inquiring about what happened to David Covington. He is divorced and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He is no longer associated with the ministry or organized religion in any form. He is a highly successful administrator in the mental health field.


Logger-Onner: Hi, I am a daily "logger onner" of your website and enjoy reading all the postings, new info and such... Here is my dilemma... I was raised in the church as an infant & young adult. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior at 8 years old and I am certain of grace through my faith and my quickly approaching afterlife. However, I stopped attending ANY church by the time I was 22, for various reasons...

I have a dear friend that invited me to church and after 20 years of NOT attending ANY CHURCH, I went ahead, although feeling MAJOR trepidation, to church with this friend. I found out in services that it was the Worldwide Church Of God, unbeknownst to me at the time. Since the WCG now operates under many guises with such politically correct and ecumenical names such as Crossroads Christian Church, New Beginnings Community Church, Living Hope Church and New Life Church, I had no idea.

Of course, being a "studier of all things" I looked in to the NEW & IMPROVED WCG after attending their services. Whatever... They might be "new" in their doctrinal ways, in their acceptance from the NAE (wonder how much THAT cost them?) and their "corporate" mission statement of faith through grace alone, but in regards to their old, money grubbing ways, they have not changed at all. Proof of selling the "rights" to HWA's [books] should be proof enough for any SANE individual... I guess that I just don't understand how people (good people) get duped into buying all that... I am not saying that anyone is being judged by me here but WHY would you stay with an ecumenical Christian SECT that behaves in this fashion???

Anyway, that is my problem... Plus the fact that my friend keeps asking me back to the church in question and challenging me to discussions over such things as hell, the afterlife, the trinity and so on. I have replied to my friend in a very non-threatening way, saying, "There are many beliefs, many different things to believe in. I just happen not to believe in the same way as you do. I don't feel the need to have to explain myself..." But... The prodding continues. I don't want to loose this person. This person also keeps asking me what I thought of the services I attended, what I thought of the pastor and so on... They even passed on the WCG Church Manual so that I might read it and give them my thoughts. I tell you... I have never read such a thing! And that the WCG would just publish it for ANYONE to look at is something else also... In all your experience, what would you advise?

MD: Any replies to this letter will be forwarded directly to the sender. My advice, for what it's worth, is give them a copy of your letter and then ask them to comment.

Deep doo doo: (1) I noticed on that that they had a link to an article in the Trumpet by Ron Fraser of PCG. It is about half way down on the main page. It is titled Apocalypse Now.


(2) I am surprised that you missed Gerald's fine cult piece entitled "Apocalypse Now" - The PCG warning the world of a soon coming disaster [via a link] on Yes this site MUST be run by a hard drinking, passover participating, conservative Jesus loving Armstrong cog'er! If Bush believes this ... then may Allah help us! If not then we are in deep doo doo! 

"Reverend Kscribe"

A Catholic view of Herb: Living in a Catholic country, I've been trying to find out more about the faith of my friends and future wife. I went to, and who should I bump into but our ole friend Herb: 

This site, by the way, is an excellent resource for anyone looking to hear the Catholic side of the story.


COG Moonies: In response to Steve's commentary/question on the "New Moon calculation for the Passover": Great question, Steve! Here are a few responses from those that we know the precise following of THEIR calculations definitely matters to them and their income:

1. "Steve, that kind of reasoning is going to take you right out of this church!" 2. "Steve, Mr. "So-and-so" has looked into that subject thoroughly...if YOU go any further into it, you're just going to confuse yourself." 3. "Steve, I've been meaning to give a sermon on that very subject! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!" 4. "Steve, this is GOD'S CHURCH! Jesus Christ is on His throne! Would he mislead His people?"

All kidding aside Steve, this is quite a subject! Between all the information one is able to dig up on the lunar calendar, as well as the solar calendar, we NOW know that it is no easy matter to search out and reach a conclusion to...if ever! As far as reaching any long-term conclusion as to the importance of this matter (as well as what to do about it), I feel that one must decide that for himself (IMO). Many here have come a long way from their first introduction to this material and these issues and have most likely developed a wide-spectrum of opinion on the subject. In the end, may God have mercy on our blind and ignorant souls! I wish you the best (as well as all those so inclined to research the matter) in the search for "truth"!

More mooning: My question has still not been answered [by Edward Karas]. If the Jewish calendar is based upon the molad, which is the dark of the moon, and this is the calendar that the majority of the COGgers have adopted to follow, howbeit ever so loosely (in actuality, they just follow THEIR leaders), then why don't they use the molad THIS year to determine when to keep the OT Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread? In some years, by using the Jewish calendar, they observe days determined by the molad, and in some years, they observe days based upon the postponement rules, and/or erroneous intercalation which inadvertently adds a month when Passover would have already occurred after the vernal equinox (another rule). Does it make any difference to the coggers if their group is keeping the right "holyday" or not? Some excuses: "As long as your heart is right, God will understand", or "We really can't know for sure, so we leave that up to our ministers", or "The historical new moon is the first visible crescent", or "The Sanhedrin is in charge and has authority from God!".

So, back to my original questions: Does it make a difference to GOD which days we keep for the holydays? If the answer is "no", then the Jewish calendar is just as good as any other calendar (except for the parts of it that we decide not to follow), so, why the Saturday/Sunday conflict? But, if the answer is "yes", then we had better make damn sure that we're keeping the RIGHT days, shouldn't we?


MD: Note to Peter. Your letter on this issue is a little long for the mailbag (900 plus words). If you can cut it down in size - 400 tops - I'd be happy to run it. Other than that one exception, correspondence on this subject is now most definitely closed.

09 April. CULT SPIN MACHINE IN OVERDRIVE,  RAT PHOTO have to ask whether - if the "word around campus" is accurate - [Mr. Borek] had any real choice with one of the cult's leading (and most powerful) mullahs breathing down his neck

Sign on the line: Remember Roman Borek's letter to the Star News (see AW April 1)?  All may not be as it appears. According to an inside source the letter "was not written by him. Word around campus is that it was a product of Mat Morgan and Bernie Schnippert. They only asked him to sign the letter."  Talk about having words put in your mouth!  Mr. Borek obviously complied, but you have to ask whether - if the "word around campus" is accurate - he had any real choice with one of the cult's leading (and most powerful) mullahs breathing down his neck. 

So is it ethical to "plant" a letter like this, apparently from a named individual writing in a private capacity, but actually produced by other (unnamed) individuals intent on "spin" and with a corporate agenda clearly in mind?  Some would call the practice deceptive. Some might even call it deceitful. Either way, is this an appropriate strategy for a Christian organization to use?

Seig tile! Here at MD we get easily confused. Some things are just too complex for us. It keeps us humble.

The latest puzzler has to do with the re-roofing of campus buildings in Pasadena. Why, we wonder, is the WCG pouring hundreds of thousands of donor dollars down the drain by roofing buildings scheduled for demolition? Could it be that there are other plans afoot? A mystery buyer who might, for example, want to use Ambassador as a college of some sort?

Rats!  The response so far to our caption contest is amazing. All entries will be published on the weekend. There are simply too many to publish credits at this stage, but when the winners are announced we'll include names where they were provided. Meanwhile, it's not too late to fire off your one-liner. Details below (April 7).


Picture worth a thousand words: Okay, so we all knew there were rats in Pasadena. Specifically, rats on the Ambassador Campus. Big rats. Fat rats. Rats at the very heart of the church's operational center. But it's not every day we get photographic proof.

And here it is. Floating in the Auditorium pool. Look closely. Our anonymous photographer snapped three shots (we'll spare you the close-ups). The observant correspondent muses: I recently... spotted this dead rat floating in the Auditorium pool. Symbolic? Allegorical? Prophetic?? 

Indeed! Perhaps all three. We are unable to confirm the rank of the rat in question. Doubtless though, it must have been a very high status rat, having resided in the very House of God. A rat with Ambassador-quality tastes.

We're delighted to open up a new caption contest to go with the photograph. A one-line commentary is sought that'll throw light on the image. Entries to

We'll publish those entries in a few days time. Here's a starter or two to get the creative juices flowing.

There are still a number of moving tributes to Mr. Armstrong on the church's campus.

The church's zeal for new baptisms sometimes leads to tragic results.

A really good reason to vote for the Democrats: Incredible but true. An outspoken pro-Bush website, ("Promoting the Ideals of Conservatism"), is running an extended section from Apostle Armstrong's nutty Anglo-Israel opus, The United States and Britain in Prophecy

No, really! We're unsure why, but here's the link


Digging deep for Gerry: The ESN site has published excerpts from a recent member letter from PCG cult guru Gerry Flurry. "That prophet" is, perhaps unsurprisingly, putting the screws on supporters for more moolah. And to get his way "Old Six-Pack" has trotted out an ancient Herbal trump card: the building fund!

In fact, Gerry even quotes Herb's original fund-raising correspondence:

I asked you before—even if this is your third-tithe year and you cannot subscribe to this fund this year—even if you are the wife of a non-member husband and unable to subscribe—or on an old age pension—EXPLAIN THIS ON THE CARD—AND SEND BACK THE CARD ANYWAY.


And just in case anyone should misunderstand...

And REMEMBER—this BUILDING FUND subscription must be IN ADDITION TO your tithes and general offerings for the gospel Work. NO PART OF YOUR TITHES should go into this special building fund ... Let's put our HEARTS and our PRAYERS in this great WORK OF GOD! Let's pitch in and WORK WITH CHRIST—with enthusiasm and with ZEAL.

So why has Gerry dug out Herb's tatty epistle at this time? 

The building fund has dropped considerably—34 percent decline in 2003. I didn't say much because I knew a much greater need was just over the horizon. Mr. Armstrong used the building fund to expand God's headquarters in the Philadelphia era. We must do the same. So now I am going to scrap our present building program and start all over.

Enclosed with the Flurry fund-raiser is a nice little pledge form to return to Edmond, OK. It reads:

I plan to contribute to the Building Fund, as long as my income and ability allow, over and above my regular tithes and offerings. as follows:

Lump sum contribution of $_____________ in the month of______________,200___ 


$____________per month for____________ months starting ____________, 200___ 


Please return by March 31, 2004 to:

Philadelphia Church of God
P O Box 3700
Edmond, OK 73083

If you live outside the United States or Canada please return to your regional office. 

Dig deep brethren!

Becker comes out blazing: Douglas Becker has been busy. Two brand new columns are now online. One, he warns, "contains material that may be disturbing to some". Quite possibly, considering the title. Delicate individuals, especially certain UCG elders, may wish to skip this particular link

In a second article, Douglas' thoughts turn in a vertical direction. The reality TV show "Elimidate" inspired the title of this column. Those of us safely beyond the reach of crasser television programs in the "reality" genre will still appreciate the tale Douglas tells. Now, could somebody please tell me where I put that copy of Modern Dating?

Seasonal stuff: Most readers will be aware of the significance of the week ahead on the traditional COG calendar. Many will be gathering Sunday night for the annual Passover/ Lord's Supper ceremony. Monday night is the "night to be much observed", and the first Day of Unleavened Bread follows on the Tuesday. 

A number of COG groups provide guidance and a suggested order of service for those observing the Passover in their own homes. They vary quite a lot in detail, but follow a similar outline. Here are a few.

Fred Coulter's CBCG:


Alan Ruth:

Brisbane COG:

A mel-odorous movie: With the continuing bouquets of praise and admiration being uncritically showered on The Passion of the Christ, perhaps a little balance might be found in a non-COG article published March 22 in The New Zealand Herald. Excerpts.

Usually, people either like or dislike a particular film. But this one is different. For believers in the literal interpretation of the Bible, the movie version of the last hours of Jesus' life represents something far more than actors acting, and it's certainly not two hours of escapism. Instead, this film represents validation of their beliefs and nothing short of the word of God.

But aren't they missing something here? This is not a rent in the fabric of time, a documentary or even a docudrama. It's a movie, a version of historical events, true only in the sense that Oliver Stone's Vietnam War film Platoon is true.

a jamboree of bloody beefcake constructed like a porn movie...

a homoerotic "exercise in lurid sado-masochism" for those who "like seeing handsome young men stripped and flayed alive over a long period of time".

Speaking in the New Yorker recently, Elaine Pagels, the early Christian historian and author of The Gnostic Gospels and The Origin of Satan, explains that when Christians read the gospels as historical acts, they will say what Mel Gibson says, that this is the truth, this is our faith. But the film ignores the spin the gospel writers were pressured to put on their works... She says the gospels were intended not as history but as preaching... to win followers for the teachings of Christ.

Pagel's also calls into question Gibson's portrayal of Pilate as benign, and says it is a narrative device to make the Jews appear more malignant. She says the film is full of the preposterous dialectic of bad Jews and good Romans. And she points out that when the Temple police arrest Jesus, Mary Magdalene turns to the Romans as if they were the policemen on the block, benign protectors of the public order. "But the very idea of a Jewish woman turning to Roman soldiers for help is ridiculous."

Certainly in places like Denver, Colorado, the subtle anti-Semitic message of this film is getting through. The Lovingway United Pentecostal church posted a huge marquee reading "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus".

But if there is a message besides anti-Semitism in this film, it is that violence and brutality are part of human nature... [One commentator] calls the film "a jamboree of bloody beefcake... constructed like a porn movie, replete with slo-mo climaxes and pounding music for the money shots". Writer Christopher Hitchens called it a homoerotic "exercise in lurid sado-masochism" for those who "like seeing handsome young men stripped and flayed alive over a long period of time".

So when a born-again type uses this film to tell you about God's love, it might be useful to remember that this love comes with ravens to peck out your eyes if you blaspheme, extreme torture, blood and gore...

(Barbara Sumner Burstyn. The passion of those taken in by a gore-fest.)

Carl McNair: The following item appears on Victor Kubik's website.

Mr. Carl McNair, a long-time minister in the Church of God and currently a minister with Living Church of God, has been diagnosed with bone cancer. The doctor indicated he might only have a few months to live.

Mr. McNair is in good spirits and indicated his faith in God in every way. He indicated that God is in charge--and he knows that God's will shall be done. Prayers would be very much appreciated. You can send cards and well-wishes to PO Box 5238 Helena, MT 59604

Weekly Mailbag

Covington query: Do you have any knowledge as to what happened to David Covington when he disappeared from the scene? He was trying to get the church to deal with its abuse issues and It didn't seem they wanted to appropriately address it.

Numerology: Remember the old WCG? There were two advancement streams. One was to go to AC - work hard - become a Ministerial Trainee - then Local Elder - etc. - etc. The other was to work hard in the local congregation - give Prayers - become a Deacon - and maybe a Local Elder - Full Stop.

To those who worked hard, very hard for no reward, but never became a Ministerial Trainee or Deacon, and wondered "Why?", numerology gives the answer.


The WCG style was always demand more than 100% from its members. Was giving way more than your "legally obligated" tithes enough? NO. Was giving more time to the WCG than you gave to your family enough? NO.

Then how did the chosen ones give "more than 100%"? Here's the numerology that explains it.

If: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Then: H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

and, A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

But B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can then conclude with mathematical certainty that

1. While Hard Work and Knowledge will not allow you to give 100%, and 2. Attitude will only just get you to 100%, 3. Bullshit and Ass Kissing will guarantee you more than 100% and pave the way to the very top.

Jonathan Higbed

Goose stepping in LCG: This is what the "ministers" have done for years (see Resistance is futile, mailbag March 26). As a matter of fact, I remember an incident that occurred at the Corpus Christi site one year where the peons were not even allowed to stay at the same accommodations as the "ministers". They made damn sure by not even listing it. We found out because we called the establishment and reserved a unit. We were forced to give it up when the "ministry" found out about it.


Redeeming qualities: All right, I openly admit it - I took the bait, and out of raw curiosity followed the link provided to Mark Armstrong's recent booklet The Long Tradition of Prophetic Insight and Accuracy and read it.

Of the 35 total pages of hard copy I printed out, approximately 25 of them were either family pictures or a verbatim regurgitation of GTA's past generic writings on events in the Middle East and the rise of Germany - thoroughly scrubbed, of course, of the more embarrassing "dated" passages they were often known for.

In his booklet Mark clearly is attempting to tack himself onto "The Long Tradition" of his father and grandfather, apparently with no real qualifications other than the fact that he is Garner Ted's eldest son. I'm given to understand that he apparently had displayed little interest in religion, just being baptized sometime within the past decade or so, but now he offers himself as the Almighty's latest prophetic guru to lead His people into the end times.

Hey, I guess we've all got to make a living somehow!

Whenever the time comes for the Two Witnesses mentioned in the book of Revelation to appear on the scene, it's clear there will be no shortage of zany volunteers and other assorted religious nuts from within the COG tradition to willingly step up to the plate!

Anyway, as one of your readers pointed out in an earlier comment, the age-old courtroom technique of the "selective use of evidence" was blatantly apparent in Mark's booklet - whereby carefully chosen crumbs of "proof" are presented to the reader while massive amounts of contrary evidence go unmentioned, and hopefully unnoticed.

For example, Armstrong Jr. unashamedly glosses over the widely known and well-established fact that a high number of specific predictions made by HWA and GTA have failed abysmally to come to pass time and time again - showing their actual prophetic tradition to not have been particularly insightful nor accurate, though admittedly rather long, so the booklet's title is not totally without at least some truth in it.

The general principle brought out in Deuteronomy 18:22 comes to mind in this regard - "When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

Yet, probably unlike many readers of this website, I honestly think HWA and GTA possessed certain redeeming qualities - prophetic insight and accuracy most definitely not being one of them, however.

And as someone once expressed it, they both had the amazing capacity through verbal slight of hand and threats of gehenna fire to turn the most disgusting and repeated moral lapses into "baseless allegations and Satanically-inspired rumors."

Sorry, but it's painfully obvious Mark does NOT possess the glib oratorical style nor the facility with words "Dad" and "Grandpa Armstrong" had. It must have skipped his generation. He would be wise to get a real job wherein he could earn a legitimate living, instead of depending on the despicable trade of offering his meaningless "prophetic insights" in exchange for a ready paycheck in the form of the hard-earned tithes of his quickly-diminishing group of gullible followers. I mean, let's get real here - how long does he think he can keep reprinting GTA's stale old articles and stay on the air with endless reruns of his Dad's past TV shows before the momentum begins to fade?

It's rather sad, actually, having to repeatedly witness the same thing year after year - the gradual demise of the many WCG splinter groups, one by one, each arrogantly claiming (either publicly or privately amongst themselves) the title of "God's one true Church and Work on earth today," only to see them eventually kicking and flailing and sputtering out in utter ineffectiveness and pitiful obscurity.

Randy Martens

Authoritarianism: The biggest reason I have not come in from the cold to UCG is that unhealthy harsh controlling authoritarianism of old WCG continues. The control phenomena is so strong that no local member or minister dare change such minor matters as the order of events in services without official approval from higher authorities. That is why the quote below from Linda Schreiber makes so much sense to me.

"Those who do not understand true servant leadership are afraid of it because they feel the loss of power and control. Until we get outside the old WCG box and see it for what it was we will have problems. Change can be a scary proposition to some. However, growth cannot happen without change. You either grow and change, or you get ripe and rot! Just as a plant changes as it grows so does the body of Jesus Christ. When a plant stops growing, it dies. Spiritual growth is the same."

...We each grow uniquely different through different life experiences. There is no way the sheep of God will all develop into carbon copy clones all speaking the exact same things. God gave us all unique minds to use and I believe God surely expects us to use them in the unique situations we all find ourselves in daily life. Different experiences will automatically give rise to different opinions. To stifle all but the opinions of the top leadership has to be a hallmark of heavy handed dictatorship. We all know from history what happens in dictatorships, right?

In a way there is a paradox facing UCG because if power and control in the form of voting on changes is not asserted then there could be danger that another lone top leader might decide to destroy UCG in the same way that the Tkaches did from within. However, does the leadership have to micromanage all the tiniest matters?...

The world God created does not tolerate health in closed containers. Ever open up an old old can of food to discover it rank with smelly mold and rot within? I clearly remember freedom of expression was not allowed in old WCG. Any who continued to raise sincere ideas or questions contrary to prevailing wisdom from the top got quickly disfellowshiped for bad attitudes. The effect was shut up and put up or get out! Few had enough courage to leave what was believed to be the one and only "true" Church of God because horrifying tribulation was at the doorstep and salvation was almost sure to be lost.

Look what happened when the Tkaches opened the Pandora's box to other ideas. The whole church broke up into hundreds of disagreeing splinters each claiming they had become the only remnant true church of God. So disagreeing opinions had existed in hidden suppressed states in WCG all along! The resulting fruits prove to me that suppressing all other opinions is unhealthy. I believe it is far better to bring the ideas out in the open and discuss until mutual agreement can be reached which, horrors, might even result in having to modify one's own opinions. That would be a sure sign God was not speaking exclusively through the leader in charge...

Theodore Ted

Plenty of reasons to believe the gospel: Dennis D... asks “Is it just me, or does anyone else find the story of Jesus King of the Jews (Matt. 27:11-26) and Jesus Barabbas suspiciously contrived?” Yes, Dennis, it’s just you. You say “a rather contrite and timid Pilate (history gives a rather more horrific testament to his real power and cruelty)”, and Luke 13:1 agrees with your assessment of the man, but the history we have of that side of Pilate is not of that time in his life. It has been shown that Pilate’s mentor and protector was Sejanus. This man fell from power when it was determined he had plotted against the emperor. Contrary to COG teaching, Jesus appears to have been crucified in 33 AD (the Greek author Phlegon recorded that in that fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad “it became night in the sixth hour of the day so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.”). Sejanus suffered his fall in 31 AD and so in 33 Pilate’s position was quite tenuous. I think this may be why this normally brutal despot behaved with uncharacteristic timidity.

There is no reason to doubt the historicity of the custom of picking a prisoner for release. If you insist on discounting the gospels, then you have no evidence, but keep in mind that there is a paucity of writings from that era, which is why there is no outside verification, and that there are plenty of reasons to believe the gospels (which I will gladly enumerate if asked). Barabbas is still known as Jesus Barrabas in many circles: I don’t know if we can prove that his name was dropped in the fourth century because so far as I can tell perhaps the earliest record we have of him being called by that name is a Vatican manuscript, numbered 354, written in 949, in which there is added a marginal note attributed to Anastasias, bishop of Antioch, and this note refers to Jesus Barabbas. I have seen some indication that Jerome and Origen knew of that reading, apparently in the Syriac and Aramenian versions, but I do not know if I can prove that.

The reference to “the well known” mystery play intrigues me. It is not well enough known for me to have heard of it, nor apparently well enough for it to have been heard of by any of the scholars I have accessed. I think the “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children” is an old expression related to Joshua 2:19.

Dennis says that “the concept of being washed in the blood of Taurus the Bull preceded getting washed in blood of the Lamb or Ram, Aries by several thousand years.” What’s this conclusion based on? Judaism and other religons anciently used both animals.

As to the notion that “it is safer in the Bible to pick on Jews, who can't really hurt us, than on Romans, who can kill all at will”, the New Testament was primarily written to Jewish audiences (the membership of the early Church was largely Jewish) and it was a Jewish belief that they were a special people, sons of Abraham. The problem was how to get these people to see that they had no innate righteousness and to see that their sins were connected to the slaying of the Messiah. The actual histories, the gospels, are quite clear about the part the Romans played. I see no whitewashing.

Dennis is clearly a thinker, but I am not sure that he is a scholar. His stand is based on the Jesus-myth theory which has repeatedly been annihilated in the last hundred years by scholars who are not known as friends of Christianity. The Jesus-myth writers appear to base their work on Kersey Graves or other 19th century theorists rather than on classical history or on archaeology. These modern writers are most notably Drews (a professor of mathematics), Wells (a professor of German), Doherty (who, unlike the foregoing, has relevant qualifications but who has failed to show the discipline of a scholar) and Acharya S (who appears to have some basic training in the classics). The most prolific of these is Wells, and of him Morton Smith, an entrenched skeptic and Emeritus Professor of History said:

"I don't think the arguments in (Wells') book deserve detailed refutation." 

"...he argues mainly from silence." 

"...many (of his arguments) are incorrect, far too many to discuss in this space." 

"(Wells) presents us with a piece of private mythology that I find incredible beyond anything in the Gospels." 

There are plenty of reasons I find to compel me to believe in the accuracy of the gospel accounts. One of them is that they were written approximate to the time of the events they record and in the area where the events occurred. Contrast that to what we have of Mithras who is supposed to have been a pattern for the Jesus-myth: 400 AD. I can see no evidence that Mithraism even held that Mithras died, let alone that he was crucified.

The Jesus-mythers need to be honest with themselves about their motives for rejecting the gospel accounts. Some may do it from an effort to be intellectually honest, but I suspect that many do it from a desire not to be bound by the moral imperatives of the gospels and the rest of the Bible.

Gordon Feil

MD: Elaine Pagels' comments (see A mel-odorous movie above) demonstrate that many of Dennis' concerns are also held by historians and theologians very much in the mainstream.

Vampire Infidels: Hey Gavin, very happy to see that Colin Ward got some good press here. He deserves it. As some might suspect, the PT website is populated with quite a number of atheist, blood-drinking, virgin sacrificing pagan infidels. So it's good to have a Good Christian show up and remind us all that religious people aren't all a rotten bunch. 

If Christians were, if the WCG+ was, if all religions were, as calm and thoughtful and decent as Colin Ward? There wouldn't be the need for the PT site at all. Or... yours... now that I think about it. 

Mike Minton

Hysterical tithers: Nice to see the condescending remarks in the Pasadena Star-News about how tithe-payers funded the Auditorium and its series.

In reality, WCG members actually funded one of the most remarkable economic development sagas in Southern California history, literally laying the foundation for Pasadena to resurrect itself from a run-down third rate city rife with growing racism and isolationism into a model of urban renewal. The Old Pasadena development in particular literally owes its original viability to the Auditorium's capacity to generate upscale traffic in the region with a high degree of discretionary funds.

As old-timers know, one of the reasons HWA was able to afford the development of the Pasadena campus is that
the area in the 1940s was essentially a slum. Any AC student who attended Ambassador prior to the late 1970s can well remember the sex shops and Salvation Army substance abuse centers within easy walking distance of the Hall of Administration. None of the present condos along Colorado Boulevard existed and many of the now-choice mansions in the upper campus were multi-family dwellings with less than desirable occupants. Through the Leishmans, the church was able to secure support for re-development from the city because the church was such a positive economic force in transforming the area. The fact that HWA got there when real estate prices were depressed and actually bought up a substantial amount of distressed property is ironic when one views how that investment is
currently fueling the present Tkach theological rubbish. Without the long-ago paid tithes of hysterical listeners to HWA and GTA citing imminent societal destruction, Tkach would likely still be pedaling Intel products in Arizona instead of ponying up dough for full-page political ads touting the need for fuzzy religious values and knocking back a few with his evangelical buddies.

What is finally amusing is that the Ambassador Auditorium resurrection will likely never work unless:

1) Somebody figures out where to park all of the cars of 1,200 patrons attending a concert--the new homeowners south of Del Mar and the environs were screaming back in the 1970s about the traffic hassles and regularly went to the Pasadena City Council to vent their resentments. Every scrap of space in and around the campus was required to even get close to handling parking. What happens if Bernie tears down the present parking structure?

2) The cost of operating the Auditorium currently touted is bogus. The "real" upkeep and maintenance costs were previously folded into the college and church operating budgets, since at least five church services and two forums were conducted weekly in the facility, which allowed the Ambassador Foundation folks some financial leeway in actually budgeting for each annual concert season. Try at least doubling the current projections and you might start to get close.

3) The technology and fittings in the Auditorium are seriously outdated. Hulme's administration was the last to try and do anything about it, and since Tkach Sr. was loath to have much to do with the concert series (administration of the college security department with new police uniforms and ID tags for all employees received much more attention from the corner 4th floor office), every corner was cut, including abandoning an audio support upgrade from analog to digital. Even the curtains in the acoustic ceiling that enable the superb sound quality were in dire need of replacement in 1990. To top it off, there would likely need to be some serious auxiliary equipment replacement, since a fair amount of audio, lighting, stage and support materials were "borrowed" by auditorium employees and campus maintenance people for "special projects" in the 1990s.

Moonstruck - replies to Steve: (1) The astronomical new moon is not the same as the historical new moon, this is comparing apples and oranges. The astronomical new moon is the dark time. The historical new moon is the first visible crescent. Yes sometimes the calculated Jewish calendar is one day off an observed crescent moon. This is not unusual, even in ancient times. For example if the crescent is observed in the afternoon, thus making that day technically the first day, the first of the month was instead postponed to the next day. 

"Positive Dennis"

(2) In New Zealand, the New Moon nearest the March Equinox (Spring in the Northern Hemisphere) was at approximately 10:41 am (local time) on March 21st. If the day on which the New Moon occurs is the first day of the month, and if days are from sunset to sunset, then the first day of the month will be from the evening of the 20th to the evening of the 21st March. In Hawaii, the New Moon was at 12:41 on March 20th. The first day of the month was thus from the evening of the 19th to the evening of the 20th March. 

The fist day of the month was either 19-20th or 20-21st March depending where you were. (Remember the events that occurred on September 11th in America were taking place on September 12th in New Zealand.) See letter to The Journal  

Any geography textbook will have a diagram showing that the New Moon is always at Midday. Of course where (the longitude) this takes place changes every month. It happened a little to the west of Hawaii on March 20th. We don’t have tables telling us where the New Moon is, we have have tables telling us when it is happening at the Greenwich Meridian local time, which is then called Universal Time, i.e. March 20th at 10:41 pm. The time that it occurred Jerusalem Time i.e. 12:45 am March 21st can be deduced.

Most COGers follow their church’s calendar, which is usually a variant of the Jewish Calendar. There are those who follow an astronomical calendar, or one based on observation. They may differ from each other by one to three days, and every few years may be up to a month apart. There are those who follow solar calendars. A few keep days from morning to morning. All manage to find Biblical backing. The same has been true throughout history. See review of The Genesis Calendar by Bruce K Gardner [at Amazon]. 

Edward Karas

Another "building fund": I don't know if you have heard or been told. But all the faithful money the brethren gave to the ICG Building fund. Well they do not have a building in the ICG name. 

It was in GTA's name up to a few months ago. After the split which I understand is still going on, with brethren seeing just what is happening... And if you try to find a phone number for the ICG, a couple of months ago there was none listed with the phone company. 

It appears that the church does not own anything, everything is under the control of the Armstrong's and looks as if it may stay that way.


PSN letter: The following letter appeared in the March 30 issue of the Pasadena Star News.

Awakening anticipated: As someone who spent over 15 years of my life as the house manager for the Ambassador Auditorium, I was thrilled to read about Ann Hassett, Alice Coulombe and the Ambassador Board and their goals to reopen the Ambassador Auditorium.

I participated in a very special tour of the auditorium just last week. At this tour, I presented numerous items of memorabilia, from the Ambassador Auditorium's opening concert 30 years ago, through star-studded events over the 20 years of performance seasons. I am excited at the thought that this auditorium, an architectural and acoustical jewel, may be filled once again with audiences from patrons of the arts to school children.

I think it is also appropriate that the Worldwide Church of God be acknowledged not only for the 20 years of fine events it produced, but also for its continued support of the Ambassador board and the maintenance and upkeep of the Ambassador Auditorium to this day. Without the church's initial vision and continued support, we would not have such a treasure awaiting its rebirth.

Roman Andrew Borek

We hope Mr. Borek's advocacy for the auditorium will help put further pressure on the cult bean-counters to ensure that the right outcome is indeed reached, even if the church's coffers are to be less enriched than they anticipated. The tour referred to was probably the one advertised in the PSN.

The Ambassador Auditorium, often called the "Carnegie Hall of the West", will hold free tours to the public every weekday in April in honor of its 30th Anniversary. Tours are by reservation only; call (626) 304-6180

Another minister battles health issues: According to a newsgroup posting, Living Church of God minister Carl McNair, one of Meredith's right-hand men, is having serious health problems. His brother, Raymond, has recently dealt with similar issues, but Carl's prognosis is apparently less optimistic.

Letter policy: MD understands that some people may not be comfortable with their names appearing. A problem arises when it isn't clear whether a writer wishes to remain anonymous or not.

If an email is received which is signed at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear under that name unless there is a note attached which asks for anonymity. When signing a letter, writers have a variety of options from full name to initials, and everything in between (e.g. Bart Simpson, B. Simpson, Bart S., BS ...) If the email is unsigned at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear anonymously, unless the writer has already expressed their willingness to have their name attached. Letters are always published at the the webmaster's discretion and may be edited for clarity and content.

MD often receives mail that is "not for publication." This is always respected. Just be sure to clearly state that the content is private. 

This website is independent from, and in no way affiliated with, the Worldwide Church of God or any derivative sect.

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