Herbert Armstrong vs Dennis Luker

Herbert Armstrong vs Dennis Luker
Herbert Armstrong vs Dennis Luker

It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional organization.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to insure the accuracy of the material here; it is possible that some details may be inaccurate, but the situations and data presented here are true in intent and as the big picture; any discrepancies brought to our attention will be corrected.

The Radio Church of God, the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College were extremely dysfunctional with preposterous situations, standards and beliefs. Herbert Armstrong was responsible for the grossly insane environment, made to look benign and reasonable through profound manipulation, lies, deceptions and cover ups. It did not matter how advanced or competent someone entering this environment may have been when they started, but by the time they were finished, they were ruined and compromised. Dennis Luker is one example of someone who was quite competent who found himself surrounded by those who compromised themselves, their colleagues, their followers and their integrity.

Herbert Armstrong did not even finish high school. He assumed that he was quite capable of being superior through self-education by ‘flying by the seat of his pants’. He didn’t want or need to have anyone to tell him what to do, and assumed, contrarywise, that he had wisdom, knowledge and understanding to carry him into success for whatever endeavor he chose for himself. No one could tell him anything. He thought that he was totally self-sufficient. He set out to build his vocabulary and was quite confident that he had the largest, complete and most accurate vocabulary, above and beyond anyone else. He decided that he didn’t have any peers and that he knew better than anyone else. His idea was that he would quit high school to become a high school teacher; that he could be buddies with the guys and he could subdue them with wrestling holds. Fortunately, his father stood in his way and he never went off to teach high school, even if he weren’t particularly qualified. His ambition and hubris caused him to believe that he was better than anyone else and that he was so much smarter that he could figure things out to be able to teach, even if he didn’t know the material.

Herbert Armstrong was quite devoid of the inherited talent known as structural visualization: He could have never been a mechanic, engineer, surgeon or scientist. He was a technological idiot. That set himself apart from his father who not only had structural visualization but apparently invented a furnace which he could have (and may have) patented. This meant that Herbert Armstrong simply could not have understood his father: He didn’t have the same talent that his father had and was devoid of being able to share many perspectives that his father had. It is likely that this factor was a part of his narcissism and put him in competition with this father: He would have been in the position of seeking approval from his dad for the rest of his life. His mother lacked structural visualization and so he would have been far more comfortable with her than he was with his father.

Herbert Armstrong wasn’t particularly adept at planning. He simply dealt with the world on his own terms as it happened to him. He never inherited the talent of foresight from his father. When he was bankrupted — having never planned his life for such contingencies because he had no prudence about the future — he drove out to Oregon where he stayed at his dad’s place — and marveled how his father could have a stable life, a home not just adequate for his immediate needs, but had accommodations that could put Herbert and his family up while Herbert tried to get back on his feet. This singular lack of foresight — the prudence of planning for the future — translated itself into faith — that you just lived life as it came, buying and acquiring what you wanted when you wanted it with no thought or concept of consequences. Thus, he would go to Harrod’s and spend $68,000 in one day on gold, silver and crystal place settings for his dining room: This was, up to that time, the most anyone had ever spent at once at Harrod’s. Of course, when the realization hit him when he got home, he had to send out emergency coworker letters insisting that everyone had to sacrifice for the sake of the ‘Work’. Not only didn’t Herbert Armstrong have foresight, he also had very poor behavior controls. It should also be noted that people who have inherited high foresight value higher education and generally pursue it as opportunity presents itself. Herbert Armstrong had a singular disdain for higher education.

Herbert Armstrong was also quite inconsistent. When a potential employer approached him with a job offer, he had to turn it down because he had ‘up’ days and ‘down’ days. On the periods of the cycle with his ‘down’ days, he could accomplish very little, if anything. He couldn’t afford to take a regular job because of this. It isn’t clear whether or not this was a result of his manic depressive mental disorder or his alcoholism — probably both. He couldn’t be trusted to be consistent. He claimed to have overcome this problem over time, but his protestations did not have much upon which to base them, particularly during his bouts being naked drunk in his hotel room.

Speaking of alcoholism, it wasn’t just that Herbert Armstrong was an alcoholic, but his whole family was a group of alcoholics, and where you have a family corporation founded and led by alcoholics, you can be sure that birds of a feather will flock together: The administration of the church and Ambassador College had quite the infiltration of boozers. Spirits of various brands were bandied about and filtered down, flowing to the people below in the hierarchy. Dr. James Milam in his book, Under the Influence, mentions that alcoholism is passed through the mitochondria. For anyone familiar with biology, this means that the liver disease which causes alcoholism is passed through the mother. We know that Garner Ted Armstrong was quite the boozing alcoholic, and, so, therefore, his mother was an alcoholic passing the genetics not just to him, but to his siblings. Most of us are familiar with the friendship Garner Ted Armstrong had with David Jon Hill — who had quite a problem with alcoholism. There were many who said they hoped that ‘he would get his head out of the bottle’. While there is practically nothing in sociological writings or studies about ‘the alcoholic corporation’, the facts reflect that the dysfunction of an alcoholic corporation, such as the Worldwide Church of God / Ambassador College, is not unlike that of the families of alcoholics, with the lies, broken promises, abuse and neglect. Now it should not be surprising that Herbert Armstrong would want to break away from the Church of God Seventh Day which had a strong bias against drinking: Herbert Armstrong would not at all want his freedom to booze it up bridled in any way. Although there were many reasons that Herbert Armstrong broke off from the CoG7, his addiction of alcohol may well have contributed to his assessments in pondering his rebellion.

Various church areas suffered from the alcoholism perpetuated by Herbert Armstrong. In the 1960s, an alcoholic ex Marine became a member and even though he was new to the environment, he fit right in: The booze flowed and he had quite the impact on the area — at one point he was the Spokesman Club President — always having big ideas and quite socially connected. A decade or so later, an alcoholic minister, Don Weininger became the church pastor. He, as well as most of the congregation, complained about hypoglycemia, which, in 90% of the cases is the result of the third stage of alcoholism — you know the one: It’s the stage just before death. His alcoholism was a part of his wife seeking a divorce after she had become a successful real estate agent. He met her in the hallway outside her divorce attorney’s office. He brought a gun. He tried to talk her out of the divorce. He then shot her and committed suicide. And the ex Marine? He had gotten a divorce and left his wife stranded with his sons. Spokane was devastated and it took a long time to recover.

Of course, Spokane wasn’t the only church where alcoholism was evident. During the 1970s, Dale Hampton came through Seattle and presented his message about his own alcoholism in the ministry with the appeal for people in the church to deal with their own problem. His estimate was that 18% of the members of the Seattle church were alcoholics. Experience suggests that this estimate was low, at least by one third. As Armstrongism has rolled out into myriad spit offs, many of the sects have a reputation for alcoholics at the top and not too fine a point on it, one leader is routinely called the six-pack prophet because of his online DUI — well, not driving exactly, but you get the picture.

Herbert Armstrong was the source of all this and given the hero worship idolatry, few Armstrongists want to even acknowledge the problem. Nevertheless, it’s there, and the irony is that so many people may have been alcoholics before entering the Radio / Worldwide Church of God but never had a problem because they didn’t drink alcohol. It was only at the urging of the WCG itself that they took up boozing and have been subsumed by the addiction. For those in Armstrongism: Stop drinking before you kill yourself, someone else or leave people you’ve affected permanently disabled.

Herbert Armstrong was quite delusional about his own place in the world and felt he was personally exempt from following standard ‘best’ practices. He liked to pretend that getting a brisk rubdown substituted for exercise. It doesn’t, of course, which is why he was morbidly obese — and became the roly-poly apostle, nearly as wide as he was tall. Lacking any sort of athletic skill was no limiting factor to him, since he assumed, for no particularly good reason, that he was popular in spite of the fact that he was stubborn, opinionated, obtuse, difficult, uncooperative and a real fatty. It is surprising that he made it to 93 with only one heart attack.

Dennis Luker was the captain of his high school football team. This meant that he could work with others, he was a real leader, he exercised and kept himself fit. He dated the cheerleader. Apparently, he had some sort of injury which prevented him from playing football on scholarship to the University, where he earned his degree — because he had high foresight and valued education — and began his career as an engineer for an aerospace company, where he learned about the corporate environment and gained organizational skills, both as a worker and learned from his leadership.

Somewhere in the early 1960s, he left his job to go to Ambassador College where he met his wife to be — the love of his life — and began his transition to be a minister in the church cult corporate. He rose in the ranks to eventually become an evangelist. He was posted for some time as the regional director of Australia. During his decades in the Radio / Worldwide Church of God, he used his socialization skills to form many relationships with various people in the church. His brother-in-law was the Data Processing Manager at Ambassador College in Pasadena for a time, which means that Dennis Luker had a thorough knowledge of the people, the hierarchy, and the administration of the entire operation, both within the headquarters environment and out in the hinterland. He was well aware of the problems as well.

When he came to Seattle, he worked with a minister there to set a program to help alcoholics in the church. One of the most helpful things he ever did is to announce to the Seattle congregation, If you say that you can do without it, prove it. It was ‘The Luker Challenge’.

It should be clear that with his structural visualization, foresight, high vocabulary, connections, executive ability, he should have been a shining beacon to the rest of the church. Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by those who had power without much ability or ethics and morals. In fact, at one point, we were shocked by an announcement in the Worldwide News that he was slated to take over the Quincy, Washington church. We all looked at each other and went, huh? Quincy, Washington was about as low as anyone could get (Gerald Flurry ended up there at one point). We wondered who he had offended among those in the higher echelons of the cult. Fortunately, it never happened.

After Herbert Armstrong died, Dennis Luker began to foresee what was ahead: The writing on the wall suggested to him that his career was about to tank under Tkach. Since he had high foresight, he planned to separate from the Worldwide Church of God. He was really behind the meetings that Victor Kubik held in his apartment and when push came to shove, he went to Tkach along with Jim Franks and Robert Dick to discuss an amicable split and sharing of the spoils. We know what happened: Tkach said no, and United was formed.

It should be clear from all this how absolutely inappropriate Herbert Armstrong was, and he was a fraud compared to Dennis Luker. Dennis Luker was the real deal.

In the end, the biggest fault Dennis Luker had was that he didn’t quit and just kept going in the Worldwide Church of God cult. It probably would have been so much better for him and his family if he had done the sane thing and left the chaos and insanity of the entire venue. Dennis Luker was buried in the fraud corporation disguised as a church. In all of this, he suffered fools greatly, proving once again…

It is impossible to be competent in a dysfunctional organization.

Respect

“The 1% of the 1% playing God without permission.”

Somewhere on the way to the season finale, a tragic event occurred which changed everything.

A very popular but very disturbing new series on the USA Network, Mr. Robot, is very topical and quite graphic. Those involved in making the series have made every effort to be as relevant as possible in portraying the world of The Evil Corporation and one man’s effort to “save the world” as a quite mentally ill delusional but highly proficient tech hacker. The stories themselves are quite surreal and we’re never quite sure what’s supposed to be real and what isn’t. Sometimes a production becomes a victim of its own success in unexpected ways.

The day of the scheduled season finale, an horrific event occurred: The fatal shooting of Alison Parker and Adam Ward on camera during a live broadcast:

Virginia TV News Reporter, Cameraman Shot Dead During Live Broadcast
Virginia TV News Reporter, Cameraman Shot Dead During Live Broadcast

Mr. Robot had scenes which were disturbingly similar to the actual shooting. Viewers expecting to see the season finale were greeted at the beginning of the show with a message that the season finale was postponed a week:

Mr. Robot Season Finale Postponed
Mr. Robot Season Finale Postponed

The postponement represented a sensitivity for those affected by the shooting, demonstrating respect for both the public and those intimately connected to the TV station family. This was a rather rare event which can be appreciated by those who have suffered loss. There is little more important than respect within a social context.

In fact, respect is tremendously important for the functioning of a social group. Those who are in positions of power need to have sensitivity and concern for those who have a lesser position within a group so that the social order can have viability. Those who have power and privilege within a hierarchical bureaucracy who do not have respect for those of lower caste in their ranks define a dysfunctional organization: They are the 1% of the 1% playing God without permission. In their hubris, they show contempt for those they consider beneath them, and, often, as collateral damage, those in charge may totally ignore those they consider beneath them. By their attitude of superiority, narcissism and hubris, they become the caretakers of a cult, for, without respect there can be no truly viable group — they create chaos and dissatisfaction, misery and injustice.

 An indicator of the kind of respect the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia has for its own membership came to light recently at Otagosh in a blog entry of The Gospel According to Yertile. Neotherm comments:

I enjoyed your anecdote. It is very accurate. The implicit cast system you defined was a little different at AC Big Sandy. It went something like this:

Ordained Administrators
Ordained Faculty Members
Ordained Staff Members
Non-ordained Administrators
Non-ordained Faculty Members
Non-ordained Staff Members
Students
Staff Members and local church members
Feral dogs roaming campus
1-Ws

This can create dillemmas. At one time my boss was a non-ordained administrator. In fact, he was not even member of the WCG. (There was a hiring binge in pursuit of accreditation that resulted in may credentialed non-members showing up on campus.) Once a minister, who had nothing to do with our department, showed up and gave me instructions on what to do about a matter that fell within the purview of our department administrator. As a WCG member, you had to do what the minister required. This meant ignoring the non-ordained administrator who had responsibility for the department and its policies.. Even though AC received accreditation on the strength of its credentialed faculty, it was always clear that the ministry ran the show. My guess is that this “hidden government” was concealed for accrediting committee members. The fact that Don Ward was a cross-over and had a secular degree as well as an AC degree and was a minister probably kept some situations from escalating out of proportion.

I recall in a WCG congregation in the midwest years ago asking an almighty local church elder a question. He gave me an answer and I said that I agreed with what he had said. This was a big, big mistake. In an instant he was toe-to-toe with me and in my face yelling. This was at a crowded Sabbath service. I was taken aback initially but it emerged that he believed that I had no right to agree with him. I was supposed to listen to what he said and then just keep my mouth shut. Like the great Ozymandias, his decrees were above evaluation by lesser beings like myself. If I had disagreed with him, who knows what would have happened.

He later became a GCI pastor and recently retired. He had a serious anger management problem that probably needed professional therapy. But he seemed to prosper in GCI. I always felt sorry for the souls who had to be in his congregation. And I always felt that GCI Church Administration had no idea what was going on in their local congregations. I have other corroborating evidence of this latter statement.

— Neotherm

 This is better understood in the light of Failed Experiment.

The Armstrongist churches of God are heavily hierarchical bureaucracies unwittingly modeled on the structure of Fortune 200 corporations where those in the ‘management’ mid level and above deal in abstracts objectifying people as portrayed by “Moral Mazes” by Robert Jackall. They are not churches at all — they are soulless church cult corporate structures of power and privilege devoid of anything that approaches mercy, equity, compassion or respect: They exist solely for the ‘profit’ of the shareholders, which is, generally speaking, the Apostle, Evangelist, Prophet or some sort of General who is all powerful, autonomous and without any accountability within the group. His delusional ideas based loosely on the daft pronouncements of the very wrong-headed Herbert Armstrong become doctrine, administered harshly and narrowly upon the helpless, but liberalized for those within the organization who have status, rank and privilege. They are at the top of their dysfunctional fiefdoms as the 1% of the 1% playing God without permission. All sorts of immoral, unethical and illegal scenarios play themselves out, such as a minister recommending that a man with a disabled son leave his son in a shopping mall so someone could find him and take care of him. We have one of the worst examples of cult gone wrong with Ronald Weinland and the PKG where he respects no one and treats them with utter contempt. The same can be said of David Pack, Roderick Meredith and Gerald Flurry. Those who expect real respect from United or CoGWA need only to bring forth a proposition they don’t like and see what happens.

Respect is essential for a healthy functional social group. It is the cult which is defined by disrespect, neglect and contempt. Those who run a cult need to be warned because you never know when some tech may start working to take you down to “save the world”. At best, you will slowly sink into entropy where you are stagnated without growth because, let’s face it, you just aren’t a healthy place to be. And you never know: People could just become dissatisfied and leave and even if they don’t, there’s not going to be much energy or enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, those who have no respect for those they consider beneath them are not likely to change. Remember though, it is appointed once for all to die. In the end, if you have no respect for others, you will eventually become irrelevant.

Smug

Smug Pastor
Smug Pastor

Herbert Armstrong was smug. He had an explanation for everything. He believed that God personally revealed everything really important to him. He was a gnostic. He wrote booklets: Does God Exist, Seven Proofs God Exists, The Proof of the Bible. He was cock sure. At the same time he was so arrogant that he claimed that everybody who did not agree with him was wrong. He left the Church of God Seventh Day because he thought he was so much more brilliant and smart than they were because he had absorbed and knew all the secret knowledge of Greenbury George Rupurt and they didn’t. That made him superior to them. He considered himself a qualified teacher. He claimed he was the first one in over 1900 years to bring the really really true gospel to the world. Everybody else was a failure. He claimed that science didn’t have the answers. He did. There are just a few little things wrong with his world view:

  • He claimed that British Israelism was the Key to Prophecy but it has been disproved scientifically by DNA evidence and made him a spectacularly failed false prophet as a result;
  • He claimed to have reestablished the true church from an unbroken line from the time of the original apostles but it has been proved that his church history was histrionics and total fantasy which not even the Church of God Seventh Day supports;
  • He prophesied over the radio on the World Tomorrow Broadcast during World War II that the United States and Britain would lose the war to the Germans (this caused the United States Government some heartburn and his broadcast was suspended for a time);
  • He predicted that the Great Tribulation would begin in 1972 and his church would be taken to a place of safety;
  • He predicted that Christ would return in 1975;
  • His claim that he brought the true gospel to the world has proven problematic;
  • His Proof of the Bible uses prophecies of the Old Testament to prove the entire Bible true, even though some of the referenced prophecies have failed;
  • His Seven Proofs God Exists claims that the existence of God can be proved because He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.

Let’s examine that last point for a moment. Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and coauthor Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang singularity can be resolved by their new model in which the universe has no beginning and no end. The new theory works better than the current Big Bang Theory — it solves a lot of problems and the Math is better. If this model is true, then God did not create the universe and He certainly doesn’t sustain it, because it has no beginning or end. What this would do to the idea of the existence of God is unclear. What role would He have? Was He a product of the universe at some point? Could God be an Emergent Property? Is He an advanced Being with highly advanced technology humanity would never be able to understand? Did He create life? Or did He sort of shepherd circumstances to make life appear? Is He really The Designer He was claimed to be in the Booklet? Is God The Lawgiver or are the laws of physics eternal, making God a sort of glorified Hall Monitor? The other problem with this is that the Bible may be terribly unreliable, since many of the books in it seem to be forged. There are at least 40 gospels floating around — it’s a little difficult to claim that you are bringing the one and only true gospel since there are so many of them. How could it really be a reliable guide to exactly who and what God is? And did Jesus actually exist? Historians of the time don’t seem to have mentioned him.

Not to worry.

Armstrongists are assured in their own minds that Herbert Armstrong had all the answers. They claim that they have the answers because they believe what Herbert Armstrong said. They have special revelation from God through Herbert Armstrong.

On the other hand, they point out that Science doesn’t have all the answers. Therefore, they conclude, science is worthless and people should listen to them, particularly when their views don’t agree with the scientists because the Armstrongists claim special knowledge from God and scientists have doubt. Certainly, atheists who depend upon science are just plain wrong. The Armstrongists are supremely confident that they are right. They are smug.

Here is an example from Banned by HWA!:

Anonymous said…

What another load of garbage you keep posting. You cant be serious! You keep thinking the GOG people are in a “cult”, thats just a word people like yourselves throw around to degrade others in the hope of achieving something sinister. That would make any person who goes to any church or part of a political system or sports team for that matter, part of a cult, how simple minded are you.

The real reason you keep this rubbish up is because you once understood the truth, you had the sword the sheild the breastplate and the belt, but you couldnt continue the fight, why? I’ll tell you why; because you have a big yellow streak running down your backs thats why!

To know the truth and then throw your talent away instead of building on it is as cowardly as you can get! You are not the type of people anyone would want in any army. You would throw your arms up in the air and say, “oh this is too hard, I want to get back into the lust of the world it’s a lot easier there”, and then complain about those who fight on.

To justify yourselves you complain about and try to bring down COG people who are out there continuing the fight to defeat satans lies and deceptions by preaching the gospel of the coming kingdom.

When will you get over the fact that we dont follow any man but Christ. All you do is twist the truth like satan himself. Why dont you complain about the apostle Paul how he persecuted the church prior to his conversion, could you imagine if all you perfect souls that comment on this site were around then, what Paul would have to deal with on top of his other persecutions.

Why dont you offer any other solutions if you think your so right. You dont because you dont have any thats why. Its a lot easier pointing the finger at others instead.

You people hound others because they believe in the truth while justifying yourselves because you are spiritually yellow right the way through! It’s hard enough to know the truth but to ridicule it the way you do after you once believed is the biggest act of cowardice!

What you need to do is stop thinking your helping people and wake up! Yes it’s easier not to tithe or develop or grow in grace and knowledge but we choose to and nothing you or your regular scoffers can say or do will ever stop this powerful work from going from strength to strength.

Thats what you’re so sore about isnt it, really, knowing more people are hearing the truth and applying it to their lives while you wander around aimlessly. You dont like being a minority. If you think you know the truth then lets hear it so we can check up on you, but you wont do that because you dont have anything but whining and complaining to offer. Like i said before, the color I see is yellow all over this site.

May 16, 2015 at 12:43 AM

Apparently Armstrongists know everything except how to use apostrophes. And maybe capitals.

Mechanic Getting Started
Mechanic Getting Started

Perhaps we can put things into perspective with a quote from Tony Reno over at Quora:

First, I know other people are going to correct the OP and point out that atheists don’t need to believe in science, but for the sake of my answer, since I’m an atheists who does, let me take it from my point of view.

Imagine my car is stalling on the highway, and I don’t know why. I take my car into the local mechanic. He’s got a small shop, but he’s my friend. He’s fixed several of my cars in the past and I trust him. I ask him to find the problem.

Mechanic Doing Systematic Checks
Mechanic Doing Systematic Checks

He starts working on it, takes the engine apart, runs diagnostics. About this time the local pastor comes in to visit. My mechanic comes out and says, “It’s not the spark plugs, not the wiring.”

I ask? “Do you know what it is yet?”

Mechanic: Not yet.

Pastor: I know what it is.

Mechanic, rolls his eyes.

Me: Really. What is it?

Pastor: God doesn’t want your car to run.

Me: I think I’ll let the mechanic work on it a bit longer.

Mechanic comes back after a while: Well it’s not the fuel line. The coil seems ok too.

Pastor: I told you what it was already. I don’t know why you keep working on it.

Me: Pastor, are you going to fix my car?

Pastor: Well no. I’m just letting you know that God doesn’t want it to run.

Me: Pastor, if you are not going to fix my car, would you please shut up and let the mechanic do his job.

You see, religious people don’t care if I learn what I need to. To them, “God did it,” is all they care about.

Me, I actually want to know the answer. I care about it. I might not need that particular car to run, but I still care about the answer.

Mechanic at Work
Mechanic at Work

When the pastor says he knows the answer he’s totally discounting the work the mechanic has already done. The pastor doesn’t care that the mechanic has done tests and knows things. The pastor is only trying to look smug and important, pretending he has that secret knowledge that the mechanic didn’t have.

But did the pastor know that the spark plugs were fine? Did the pastor know that the wiring was fine? Did he know the coil was fine? No, the pastor didn’t know any of those things.

The pastor is sitting up there with his clean hands and his smug answers and is making a mockery of the years of study and the dirty hard exacting work that the mechanic is doing to find things out.

Do you think the mechanic deserves that kind of treatment?

Pastor: Oh, I know you’ve looked really hard. But you didn’t find the answer. That’s because I already know the answer. No, I didn’t look at the engine. No I didn’t study the instruments. No I didn’t get my hands dirty. No I didn’t run any tests. But none of that matters. I know the answer. God doesn’t want the car to run. That’s your answer.

And you wonder why mechanics might be angry with you? You wonder why car owners might be angry?

Not every atheist is angry, because, as I’m sure people have pointed out, not every atheist cares. But those of us who do care about the car, those of us who appreciate the years of study that went into the mechanic’s discipline, those of us who appreciate the fact that the mechanic is willing to get his hands dirty, take the engine apart, check the instruments out, those who appreciate that these jobs aren’t easy, we wish …

I know it’s a lot to ask …

But we wish you’d quit acting so smug and sure of yourself.

We wish you’d realize that you aren’t fixing the cars.

We wish you’d realize that you aren’t even looking at the engine, much less rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty.

We wish you’d appreciate the hard work that is happening.

We wish you’d realize that even though you don’t really care about the right answers, some of us do.

We wish you’d get out of the way and let the mechanic do his job.

Does that not make any sense as to why the smug behavior of claiming that you know what’s wrong with the car when you are not even offering something that will fix the car, just making a pronouncement, doesn’t go over well? You don’t care what’s wrong with the car. You just want to seem smarter than the mechanic, but unlike the mechanic, you aren’t willing to get your hands dirty and look at the engine.

And in case you are thinking that there are no broken cars involved, you don’t know how science works. Many modern medical instruments come from studies in physics, from detector technology used in studying stars. Science actually gets somewhere. A pastor sitting back and saying, “God doesn’t want your car to work,” is just getting in the way.

Problem Found and Resolved
Problem Found and Resolved

It is clear it’s even worse with doctors.

The Great Fear of Cults

A Vital Subject with a Vexing Aspect

On the Painful Truth and other websites, there is a genuine effort being made to protect people from deception, abuse and pain at the hand of cults. Laudable efforts because we should all be afraid of the cult mentality.  But as usual, the typical advice goes only part way.

A sidebar link on the “Banned by HWA…” website is to a site called “Cult Awareness and Info Network.”  (I thought immediately that it is surely just coincidence that the initials spell CAIN.)  Clicking on this link, I was taken to a page with a heading of “Cult Awareness and Information Library.” Then the site guide posed the question, “what is CAIC?”  Having already lost touch with the Network and now lost in a Library, I admit to not having a clue. Much copy was then laid out as good reasons for this site’s existence (what it “stood for”), but I still had to search for a while for the meaning of that “C.” Finally I located a footer on the page that showed the final C stood for “Centre.” [I just now added this to my Word program dictionary to get rid of the wavy red line.] Webster says that this is a British spelling, so perhaps much has been lost in translation!

This is not about picking a fight with some other writer; it’s about a wide-spread problem in semantics. In my estimation, the real loss in translation has been the meaning of the term, “cult.” Back to Webster, the first meaning of the word, cult is “worship; the system of outward forms and ceremonies used in worship.” The first singular, blunt synonym for cult in Roget’s Thesaurus is “religion.” Amen!

With respect for the person and work of the late founder of the CAIC website, Jan Groenveld, I still must offer critical comments here. Finding no open method of contacting those who now run the site, I hope they might encounter this writing and perhaps consider some foundational thoughts. It is also my sincere hope that whoever is carrying on the work begun by Ms. Groenveld is doing so with the utmost care and deep concern for the many who are seeking answers.  I humbly submit alternative views.

The opening salvo on the CAIC page states: “Both Cults & Isms are listed here. Not every group mentioned on this site is considered a destructive cult. Some are ‘benign isms’…” This is, in my humble opinion, a completely misleading (actually, false!) and dangerous assertion. Is this meant to imply that religious groups such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses [Ms. Groenveld had been involved with the two sects and apparently wanted to protect others from these and similar cults.] who take their beliefs seriously and try to live every day by their tenets are more to be avoided than, say, Methodists or Presbyterians who practice a more “social circle” type of religion? That appears to be the gist of the website’s content. And maybe that’s what she found desirable. Perhaps she saw the “old-time religion” practiced by millions of folks wanting simply a “form of godliness” as a good thing.  But none of it is benign!

Give me some of that ole’-time benign Catholicism, Vicar! Make me so comfortable in your huge presence that I forget completely how murderous you have been. Give me Baptists or some other “mainstream” Christians to save me from “the cults.” Make me feel safe inside your large benign group of believers who still march to the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers;” make me blind to the fact that even without your guns and swords, you are still ready to kill for your beliefs.

Yes, I realize my views are going to seem radical. After all, doesn’t everyone have to believe something? W. C. Fields said, “I believe I’ll have another drink!” I personally believe life can be better for humans if we would simply become better humans! Who needs all the grief offered by all the gods?

There has been much said, especially among respected (!) religious teachers  about cults and the need to recognize them. Recognition should be easy! Do they preach tenets of belief? Cult! Have we lost all dictionaries and good sense? Or have we developed newer meanings, as yet unwritten, that give “good” cults respectable titles while giving “bad” cults an apparent slur by calling them what they all are? They’re equal, folks!

Okay, okay – they’re equal in the sense that cult means religion or worship.  Admittedly some fanatical groups are especially hazardous to one’s health because they preach against medicines or doctors. Others get people all emotional and fearful of the outside world, then pull a Georgetown or similar suicide ending. But really, how many of these outliers have there been and how large are the total numbers of duped people dying because of them? Not a fraction of the number who died at the hands of mainstream crazies in the Middle Ages who took up sword and marched in crusades to cut down all heretics. For sheer death toll reduction, it would have been better if these godly nuts had done the suicide thing.

Question: where does the “mainstream” designation take hold? Would you say Anglicanism has made it to mainstream? Quakerism? Seventh Day Adventism? How about Lutheranism? Shintoism? Sikhism? Or possibly Christian Scientism? And maybe even Scientology.

I don’t mean to sound harsh or deprecatory toward CAIC because I do appreciate the effort anyone is making to try to help people; it just astounds me that these folks sound so authoritative. Where do you suppose is their foundation for flat statements of “fact?” Here’s a bold quote from the site: “World religions such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism etc are NOT cults!”
Holy jokes, Batman! Is this some kind of smoke?

Screaming for attention by its absence in the above listing is Christianity! Are we to assume the writer means that (A) Christianity is not a “world religion” equal to these mentioned? Or (B) Christianity is so huge and so dominant (so correct?) that it need not even be mentioned? Perhaps there’s a (C) option (a quite logical one): Christianity is so broken into tiny splinters, many of which are “destructive,” that the huge Abrahamic following called Christianity should not be listed as a singular religion. In that case, why didn’t some of the bigger groups of benign Christians such as Lutherans, Methodists or Catholics make it into the list of acceptable world religions which are NOT cults?  [Interesting that Buddhism makes the cut here, even though their fundamental beliefs do not include a god!]

Yes, it is some kind of smoke – a thick smoke screen laid down by a progression of adroit religionists even more artful than Herbert Armstrong! There have been frauds who managed over millennia to brand all newer or smaller groups with the derisive cult label so they, the big names, can stand above all others with pride. Real godliness, no?

So Armstrongism didn’t reach the all-important “mainstream” designation. Then again, old Herb isn’t necessarily done just because he’s dead! Many popes and other ancient religious leaders lived, pontificated and died long before their legacy spread to become the powerful forces the various main cults are today. Saul of Tarsus started a cult based on this-and-that, rumor, fantasy, etc., and established it on his letter writing and salesmanship skills. Sound familiar? And until nearly three hundred years later, when his little sect was promoted by an emperor, it was practically unheard of.

Catholicism, prior to its huge growth and eventual acknowledgment as a “major” and “mainstream” religion, was the new cult on the block! It was concocted to suck up the Pauline Christian sect and all other willing (and unwilling) believers of all types, long after the supposed god in human form was purportedly sacrificed for mankind. Exactly when did this rag-tag little sect lose the cult (in Latin) label? No doubt it was when the emperor ordered the term to be halted, sometime after proudly announcing his new Roman state religion was a universal (catholic) church. And remember, the growth of the Catholic Church has been at the expense of innumerable (perhaps millions) of humans. These once breathing, walking, worshipping, sincere folks weren’t just duped and left complaining of confusion; they died for their beliefs and/or heresies. Its eventual size and acceptance did not lift the Catholic Church above its amorality and elevate it to some status above cult; it merely made it more powerful, hence more destructive.

Anyone truly in pain due to the “destructive Armstrong cult” should consider that proverbial leap from the frying pan into the fire: become a part of the Catholic cult!  Or the Judaic or Islamic cult!

Again, the above point fits all religions equally. All are cults! The only thing HWA lacked was the dumb luck that would allow him to gain enough in numbers to dominate more of the world’s believers, or to find an emperor ready to stamp his particular sect as a state religion. Armstrong himself stamped his cult as “the one true church,” but try as he might, he just never got to the right emperor with his gifts of crystal!

People contributing to this and other blogs write passionately about the destructiveness of the WCG. Yet in my reading of so many passionate words decrying deception, it appears people are inviting yet more of it!  The majority of former Armstrong followers seem to be headed blindly into some new search for – what? The one true church? Really?! That blinding light in the head needs to be quenched! One venerable fellow (now deceased), a former HWA friend whose long and well-written letter is linked to this site, stated near his conclusion that Armstrong’s followers have been so brainwashed that there is possibly no hope now to guide them into “right channels.” And where might these “right” channels exist? On your television where glib god mongers continue to dupe millions as did Herb & Ted? In local assemblies of god-fearing friendly neighbors who just want to practice the old-time religion? Or in the large denominations which must be “safer” because they are “mainstream?”

Credit where credit is due (to a point), here’s a fine premise and summation found on the CAIC website: “A goldfish living in a bowl that is painted black on the outside will never know it lives in a bowl unless someone takes it out and shows it the rest of the world. Mindsets can be like that — locked into a `thinking box’, unable to see outside because the web of beliefs is so all-encompassing.”

I sing the praises of the above insight. But why stop so short? Apparently the fish analogy has to be accommodated by keeping the fish in a big tank after showing it out of the tiny black bowl. But there’s a much bigger world still outside the tank. So let the fish grow legs! Let it walk away from that web of beliefs the writer mentioned. Let it explore the far horizons and scale the high peaks!

My fellow goldfish, we can leave the bowl and the tank! We have the power!

But let’s get a little closer to logic here, if anyone wants to actually think. It’s doubtful a goldfish will know the difference even when shown the outside of the painted bowl which had been its prison. Humans should be able to do so; humans have not only legs but brains – the ability to grasp the concept of thought. As an ultra-free escapee from all cults, I can tell you it’s pretty beautiful out here in the larger world with the clear view back at the prison. These old legs can no longer take on mountain climbing, but the brain is free to climb, soar, dart and weave as though no limits exist anywhere in my universe. Seeing it all from my new vantage point, I can say that nothing, in my estimation, has ever been as limiting to humankind and to the future of all life on the planet as has been the burden of belief in a supreme being.

Why do people continue to follow any of the thousands of disparate belief systems? Why is it seemingly impossible for mankind to civilize yet farther and finally grow away from religion? Because of tradition and fear. We were all, including Herbert, Loma, their parents, their grandparents, your ancestors and mine, born into the need to believe because belief required it. Fear to not believe required belief. Original ignorance guides all!

I dream, as did Bertrand Russell, of a time when belief is finally overcome by education. A time when fear is overwhelmed by knowledge. A time when humans finally stop hating each other because of their traditional divisive sectarianism. I wish all humans could be simple humanists; that we all could guide our actions by the simplest of all moral obligations – the Golden Rule. Little more is needed, other than traffic lights!

markman