The Sadducees

Humor me for the moment. I fully realize that some of my dear readers question the historicity of Jesus, the Apostles, or even Moses for that matter, seeing those individuals as perhaps fictional characters in an elaborate anthology of novels produced by the ancient Jews and proto-Catholics. But, even if I have just described your particular viewpoint, the Sadducees would appear to be a most remarkable, and very curious group! They are described in the pages of the Gospels, and in other historical documents, along with other sects of the day, the Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots.

Here is a list of the beliefs of the Sadducees, as enumerated in the Jewish Sects list found in Zondervan’s TNIV Study Bible:

1) They denied that the oral law (Talmud) was authoritative and binding.

2) They interpreted the Mosaic law more literally than did the Pharisees.

3) They were very exacting in Levitical purity.

4) They attributed everything to free will.

5) They argued that there is neither resurrection of the dead, nor a future life.

6) They rejected a belief in angels and demons.

7) They rejected the idea of a spiritual world.

8) They considered only the books of Moses to be canonical Scripture.

What do you make of this? My own take, assuming that this list is accurate, would be that the Sadducees appear to be first century Jewish atheists or agnostics, who simply relied on the code of Moses as the most advanced, logical, and humane system of government known to them. History tells us that this sect had its genesis during the time of the Hasmonean kings (166-63 BC), and ceased to exist shortly following the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

Normally, one would tend to think of Judaism as being YHWH-based. Yet, here we have a sect with numbers and noteworthiness sufficient to merit mention in the New Testament, fully embracing the laws and rituals for which YHWH is credited in the works of Moses, yet apparently totally disassociating these laws from any type of spiritual implications. While that might seem mind-boggling, we would appear to be living in a modern parallel of this in the USA today, which is now well advanced into the post-Christian era. Many non-believers today have a great love for the system of justice and the founding documents which were created by a group of predominantly Christian and Deist forefathers, based on a combination of logic and principles found in the pages of the Holy Bible. Truly the Ecclesiast was accurate in his observation that there is nothing new under the sun!

Despite their non-belief in the spiritual world, or in the resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees would not have qualified for any more humane treatment from the occupying Romans than would their believer brethren. The Romans considered all peoples who did not believe in the Roman gods, or the godhood of their emperor, to be atheists. Would it be any different today, in the USA, if suddenly we were conquered by Muslim jihadists? No. Our modern day agnostics and atheists who refused to worship Allah, even though their decision would be based totally on logic, would be executed right along with Christians who refused to worship Allah because he or it is a false god.

Some people, upon reading their Bibles, seem to have a black and white concept of the Jews and Israelites of Jesus’ time as being an homogeneous group, with unified beliefs. Not only is this clearly not the case, but it presents an overly simplistic picture of the civilization of ancient Jerusalem and the covenant lands of Israel. Consider the sizable population of Samaritans, the mongrel spawn resulting from the Assyrian and Babylonian occupation, in addition to the Jewish sects. Later, Peter and Paul had even more complex challenges in their ministries to the Roman Empire nations surrounding Israel. There was a sizable Jewish diaspora in these nations, as well as a very diverse Gentile population. Throw in a couple of tax collectors, factor in the balance of power between Jewish leaders and the Roman occupation, and you have a pluralistic society rivaling our own modern civilizations.

It seems obvious that in the time just preceding Jesus, and the times shortly thereafter, that the challenges in building and maintaining relationships were just as great, and just as complex as what we experience in our own era. Though perhaps ignored by most of us in the past, although
they were a part of the Septuagint (the “Bible” of Jesus and His disciples), the books of the Maccabees are quite fascinating as historical documents. In these books are described some very troubled times during which apostate Jews actually assumed the roles of persecutors of their former brethren, often even worse than the gentile peoples who held areas of Israel captive. In our modern vernacular, we’d say that these apostates “ratted out” their neighbors, turning them over to the captors for punishment and torture. Though shocking, this is yet another variant of man’s inhumanity to fellow man, and has not been as uncommon throughout history as one would hope. Knowing this propensity of human nature, and reading the narratives in the Maccabees might serve to help all of us as former guinea pigs of the Armstrong experiment in dealing with certain challenges today. The lesson lies in seeking not to make the same mistakes, and in seeking not to cause or incur the pain which accompanies these mistakes. And, I believe that it is important to include current splinter group members under our umbrella of humanity. I’m sure that many of us still have relatives who are part of these groups, and one of the things which could possibly help influence some of their major decisions in the future would be the love which we feel for them, and can show them.

Since the Apostle Paul was such a pivotal character of the New Testament, the one who presented a well-developed theology, and basic practical applications for the teachings of Jesus Christ, he is somewhat of a lightning rod, a controversial person about whom virtually everyone has some sort of opinion. He is not a person that it would be easy to be neutral about. What is noteworthy from his ministry would be the principles we find him fighting for, in other words, his passions. We find him preaching amazing tolerance amongst the various factions of Jewish and Gentile Christians. In ministering to his Gentile churches, he had to deal with a number of gut wrenching situations, not the least of which were the expulsion from Rome and eventual repatriation of the Jews, including Jewish Christians. He also had to deal with Judaizers from Jerusalem who insisted that Christians first became Jews before they could become followers of Jesus Christ. These carpetbaggers made numerous attempts to co-opt Paul’s ministry. Somehow, he had to manage these situations not only while enjoying personal free

dom, but also from a Roman jail cell, sometimes all but deserted by his students and personal friends. His harshest words were reserved for those causing dissension and contempt amongst the brethren, disrupting relationships, causing elitism, and violating the Golden Rule which encapsulates the New Covenant.

These provide some timeless examples of human behavioral patterns, both good and bad. It so happens that they are described in the versions of scripture native to and used by several different cultures. I’ll leave it up to the individual reader, rather than actually quoting chapter and verse, whether or not to delve more deeply into the books of the Maccabees, or the epistles of Paul. I fully realize that in some cases, and for many reasons, people who were once Armstrongites actually require years or even decades of recovery before they have the stomach to revisit scripture. Whether we find lessons like the above in scripture, or whether we find them in the works of Shakespeare, Freud, Aristotle, Gandhi, or Dr. Martin Luther King, the best and most timeless precepts for human behavior would seem to be rooted in love and tolerance. Knowing that an unusual group, a seemingly anomalous group, such as the Sadducees could exist somewhat harmoniously in the mainstream of first century Judaism, no less during a period of Roman captivity, certainly we who are dealing with the aftermath of Armstrongism can peacefully coexist in the face of diversity of opinion.

BB

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1975

I had originally planned to post a previously written entry here today, but since the topic of 1975 spawned some interest in some of the comments yesterday, here are some of my thoughts and recollections of what conditions were like in Pasadena during that era. It was indeed a pivotal time period for many reasons. Let me preface my remarks by noting that I personally did not leave WCG because of cruelty. I left because it became obvious to me that WCG was a bogus church, did not in any way have the witness of God behind it, and had been propped up and supported by intellectual dishonesty (end justifies the means) in many ways. I think that by the end of this article, we’ll plainly see that following the events of 1975, the church took on a decidedly harsher undertone.

Looking back on the latter portions of my childhood and teenage years, I’d have to say that we did not have cruel, authoritarian, snoopy ministers, at least not in our area of the country. If you like Allen Dexter, you probably would have liked most of the people who preceeded him, those with whom he worked on a daily basis, and those who immediately followed him. Frankly, I have never seen any of these gentlemens’ names on the lists of abusers here on the PT website, or any of the other ex-WCG sites over the past ten years. Let me list a few of them for you. There was Wayne Cole, Carlton Smith, Guy Englebart, Raymond Cole, Walter Sharp, Reg Platt, and Ivan Sell. While I don’t pretend to know everything that went on in our district, I only knew of about 6 to 10 disfellowshipments over about a decade. Some of those were due to out of control alcoholism, and a couple more were due to schizophrenia, which of course was labelled as demon possession. When these people were marked, the minister generally expressed that he hoped they would repent so that they could be welcomed back. It was not as if they were seen as suddenly being enemies of God and country.

From my list above, Wayne Cole eventually got the axe during the receivership era, because he favored cooperating with the state authorities. His brother Raymond started one of the early splinters immediately after HWA modified some of the original church doctrines. Raymond passed away a few years ago. At last report, there had been a Walter Sharp sighting in Pasadena at the former AC campus, as he and his wife were touring the USA on their Harley Davidson. I have not heard any recent news concerning the other gentlemen on my list.

For those of you who came along sometime after 1975, let me just say that during that era it literally appeared that World War III was breaking out at headquarters. On a day to day basis, we did not know which way events were going to turn. For the previous ten years, some in the field ministry had had grave misgivings about the interpretations of certain scriptures and the ways in which this influenced the church’s doctrinal approach and in many cases negatively impacted individuals in their congregations. HWA had been approached, had agreed to review the concerns, but had postponed and procrastinated until there was an increasingly open revolt. If memory serves me correctly, the main issues concerned divorce and remarriage, the church’s teaching regarding medical care, and some of the details related to tithing. Dr. Ernest Martin, who was one of the primary researchers, and one of the few actual legitimate Biblical and historical scholars apparently became so frustrated with the endless delays that he began openly sharing some of his research. Others in different areas of the world were also doing this on a local basis. As if to add gasoline to this fire, the full depth of GTA’s addictive sexual activities became known, churchwide. At one point, he had actually been reinstated to his position within the church and college, only to relapse into what was by this time a pathology.

As HWA, Stanley Rader, and others wrestled to regain control, an alarming percentage of the field ministry left, for reasons of conscience. This mass exodus caused a radical change in the corporate culture of WCG. The fallout from this affected lay members and employees as well. One morning, I showed up for my shift at AC Press, and was ushered into a rather somber meeting. Forms were passed out, and we were told that in order for our employment to continue, we had to sign oaths of loyalty to HWA. Long term deacons, using some of the college’s vans and camera equipment, parked surreptitiously in the vicinity of meetings conducted by Dr. Martin, Al Carrozzo, Richard Plache, and others. In this undercover sting, the deacons photographed any WCG members whom they observed entering the meeting halls. The dormitories at Ambassador College were also electronically bugged. The accounting department, in a joint project with the MIS department, was instructed to review the payroll and tithing records of employees in various departments, an early detection of possible mixed loyalties. There were also frantic member letters, exemplifying HWA’s most embarrassing overuse of punctuation and variations in type size, telling of Satan pulling out all stops in his war against what he called “God’s Church”.

There had been persistent rumors for months amongst employees, staff, and local members in Pasadena concerning secret overseas bank accounts, expensive art collections secreted in the basement storage areas of some headquarters buildings, and extravagant overseas junkets involving HWA, Stanley Rader, Osamu Gotoh, and others, some of it allegedly funded by misappropriation of third tithe funds. A cadre of members and former members contracted with a prominent Southern California attorney in an effort to force financial accountability. The courts felt that there was sufficient merit to their allegations to institute receivership proceedings, but over a period of months the church managed to totally obfuscate the effort, and ultimately had enough lobbying power with the state legislature to get a special law passed that essentially quashed the receivership and investigation. While church officials later credited themselves as having helped preserve the civil liberties of churches throughout the USA, and protecting the Constitutional separation of church and state, the end result was that there never was any sort of financial accountability. As if this were not enough, in the background of all of this, a number of prominent ministers’ kids were both indulging in and selling various kinds of dope at Imperial Schools and Ambassador College.

It is difficult, in retrospect, to imagine how WCG could possibly have survived this perfect storm.
They were on the front pages of many newspapers, and the lead story on TV news, day after day after day. This fact did not lend itself to the recruitment of new members!

I was not around much after 1975. Having discussed this with those who were, and having read extensively on the subject, I believe that policies and procedures were gradually put into place to prevent even the remotest possibility of a similar revolt ever again. You’d have to guess that the field ministry, after that point, was instructed to be very suspicious of members, and to take a hard line with possible dissenters to the official doctrinal stances, and even to closely monitor the tithing patterns of members. Eventually it was a total lock, the final ones being applied during the “back on track” era. As we look back on all of this today, it is plain to see that all of the additional suffering, confusion, and general misery were for nought. Gamaliel, in the end, was proven right, in living color right before our eyes!

BB

To learn more about the Worldwide Church of God during the mid 1970s, check out Ambassador Reports, archived conveniently right here at The Painful Truth Website.

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Could an Armstrong-style Movement Begin and Prosper Today?

One Friday night a number of years ago, I had put my son to bed, was working on an icy 16 oz can of Budweiser, and reading an Easyriders Magazine. Spider, as usual, had written an excellent editorial, and in this particular one had opined that if an inventor had just obtained the first patent for a motorcycle today, it was very doubtful that his invention would ever come into production, knowing the government, insurance industry, and the general public’s preoccupation with safety. The motorcycle had been grandfathered in from a much more naive, and vastly less sophisticated era in societal evolution, and that and only that was why we still have them to enjoy today.

The fact is, we could probably examine any number of practices, commodities, pieces of machinery, or ideas which we have today, but which were more specific to, and appropriate for times long gone. These relics from the zeitgeist past still exist, but not in the massive numbers in which they once did. Take the oil light, for example. It was totally appropriate for its day, and makes for a nice conversation piece, decorative touch, or auxiliary emergency equipment yet today, but who could be bothered with the sheer messiness, odors, and perhaps hazardous nature of the oil lamp in our modern age? The incandescent light bulb is self-contained, turns off and on at the flick of a switch, is easily regulated for intensity, and is readily available at the local store. Much better!

I am one of the baby boomers, a demographic whose disposable income every manufacturer, every marketer, and every investment counsellor, health care organization, and virtually anyone else who wished to exploit Keynsian economics at its zenith actively solicited. Although I spent the latter half of my youth in WCG, even at that time, I could not fathom how a thinking adult could possibly be so radically indoctrinated into what seemed to be an intoxication based on religious obsessive-compulsiveness (think Philadelphian as opposed to Laodecean). Clearly, the marketing approach of Herbert W. Armstrong was designed for my parents and their contemporaries! These people knew what the Great Depression, Hitler, and World War II were all about, and were just learning about the awful potential of the nuclear bomb. Television might have been a new phenomenon, but radio had been somewhat ubiquitous for several decades. And, of course, we all know the history. Here was a polished, authoritarian voice, seemingly in control of the air waves, warning of a horrible apocalypse which would soon befall all of those who did not repent of their sins, and become part of a small elite group which would be spared from what was soon to occur. Obviously, this technique was both believable, and successful. The booklet “1975 in Prophecy” was freely given, but had it been sold, it most likely would have become a best seller!

Using the same techniques, could a similar group be started, and could it enjoy the phenomenal growth (30% per year) that the WCG once did? I believe that the prospects for such an event would be slim to none. The very concept has been marginalized by a number of external factors, to say nothing of the destructive powers wrought by internal factors specific to that particular group.

Whether or not you personally define Armstrongism (including variants and splinter groups) as a cult, there is today a much greater public awareness of cults and the damage which they do. This was largely unexplored during the 1920s through perhaps the first half of the 1970s. The hip generation explored virtually everything, leading to a much higher level of sophistication. So,
call it cynicism, or perhaps hyper awareness, but the public’s current immunity to cults would tend to limit the growth potential of any non-mainstream religious organization, and even make people cautious about the mainstream! Bottom line is, whatever the non-mainstream beliefs happen to be, nobody in their right mind wants to wake up one morning in some compound (or place of “safety”!) owned by the next Jim Jones, or David Koresh. Think this can’t happen to an ACOGger? Koresh’s movement was actually another offshoot from Adventism!

Let’s also examine the topic of fear motivation. This is something which has really come into its own. The World Tomorrow broadcast, and Plain Truth Magazine blatantly and shamelessly created and exploited fear! Today, politicians, environmentalists, conspiracy theorists, and other callers to action have discovered the amplifying qualities of a good dose of fear. How many existential threats do we have today, in addition to the bomb? I believe at last count, the number fell somewhere between ten and twenty. HWA, of course, exploited the bomb, the Germans, and the end times. Later on, GTA introduced environmental concerns into his broadcasts and articles, a passion which he apparently shared with the hippies. Taken in today’s context, because of the fear over avian flu, global warming, golden algae, terrorism, horrific disease epidemics, the reversal of the earth’s magnetic polarity, fear based preaching is not going to produce the effect it once did. It is a turnoff. Mainstream Christianity recognizes this, and emphasizes God’s love and protection, as opposed to deliberately fomenting fear. Subtle difference, but very effective. Perfect love casts out fear. Meanwhile, the Armstrong movement has figuratively shot itself in the foot, destroying its own credibility by continuously setting or approximating dates for the start of the tribulation, or return of Jesus Christ, in spite of Jesus’ own words on this topic. It would be downright comical if their actions were not so detrimental to their members’ lives, and the lives of the members’ innocent children. Yet, time and again, we’ve witnessed the splinter groups attempting to fan the flames, co-opt the existential threats, and use every tornado, tsunami, or earthquake to cause prospectives to bow to their agenda.

Not everyone who entered Armstrongism was attracted because of the scare tactics. There were a number of people who were attracted because “he teaches from the Bible.” I really can’t vouch for what mainstream Catholics and Protestants were doing back in our pre-WCG days, because my parents dropped us off at Sunday School while they attended church. But, if TBN,
Christian radio, Internet sites, Barnes and Noble, and Berean Bookstore are a small indicator, it would appear that mainstream Christians of today are doing a much more effective job of documenting their teachings with scripture. The basic problem shared by most Armstrong followers was always that the bulk of them were relative Bible illiterates before HWA began influencing them. Most obtained their entire methodology, logic, and interpretive skills directly from HWA! That is why so many long term members experience such incredible immunity to the works of vastly more educated scholars.

Imagine, prior to the advent of the Internet, how difficult it would have been to check into such things as the so-called lost century of the early Christian church. This is the time period during which a minor character of the New Testament, Simon Magus, a gnostic, had according to Armstrong hijacked the original Christian church and morphed it into Catholicism. Even if a typical working person had been willing to spend countless hours in the public library, how would he have known how to refute this theory? Would he have known to investigate the works of Irenaeus, or even known what an “Antenicene Father” was? Would he have taken the time to read the real history that existed, or simply take HWA’s word that there was a lost century? For most of us, when HWA, or his top researchers such as Herman Hoeh lifted a quote from an historical doctrine, ignoring its original context, and creating yet another spurious proof text, we would never have even known what the original work was, let alone where to find it. Footnotes were rarely used to authenticate their contentions. Toda

y, in many cases, all a prospective member need do is to Google “British Israelism” (a common example), and these cults are all finished before they ever get a foothold to begin their dastardly influence.

One of the very wonderful aspects to today’s charities and church groups is that they have discovered accountability. There are standards for such things as the loading costs which tend to detract from accomplishing the stated mission of the organizations. The salaries of administrators, one of these loading costs, are held to public scrutiny. It all ends up being good business, and facilitating due diligence, but unfortunately this accountability has been instituted because of past abuses, the reporting of them, and the public’s normal and healthy skepticism. This skepticism has been fueled by horror stories regarding expensive art collections, palaces and mansions, sex for hire, thousand dollar dog houses, tithes gambled away in Las Vegas, alleged overseas accounts, and just about every type of fiduciary irresponsibility or mismanagement possible. This accountability, or the lack thereof, factors in very heavily as a potential member considers single sourcing his or her spiritual guidance to one church corporate.

The leaders of Armstrongism, past present and future would probably all give God the credit for the past successes within that movement. Yet, for some reason, none of them seem to be able to completely duplicate that success. Some of the more charismatic ones have attracted significant numbers of the old school, long term members. But, unless you have been prompted as to where to look, the work that these groups are doing is largely invisible. And, they are not growing, at least not on the same level experienced in HWA’s heyday. It is not as it once was back in the 1960s when there was tremendous street buzz, and heavy name recognition for both HWA and GTA. Truly, this is a movement which would do well to heed the observations of Gamaliel! Herbert’s denials to the contrary, the original WCG was largely based on his personal modifications of Adventism, which as we know today had sprung from the Seventh Day Baptist churches. HWA took a very radical approach, often adapting fringe doctrines from the reject bin of historic Christianity. Most extreme or radical schools of thought cannot be sustained or perpetuated. They die out. Their primary role, when all is said and done, becomes one of either stimulating or influencing the mainstream.

BB

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Objective and Subjective

How many times have we read or heard people attempt to analyze our thought processes and life’s philosophies by using the terms objective thinking and subjective thinking? I submit that we humans utilize a blend of both. Our lives consist basically of the events or occurrences of each day, our appetites, and how we feel and react. Drama happens inside of our heads, tailored and personalized to each of us as individuals. It is, in fact, an integral part of what makes each of us unique and human. And, no way has ever been found to rid oneself of something so completely innate.

Nobody I’ve ever “met” is a 100% “objective” thinker, except possibly original Star Trek’s Spock character, portrayed by the excellent actor, Leonard Nimoy. But, Spock is a fictional, hypothetical character, not a real person. What became painfully and often humorously obvious throughout the run of this TV series was that while Spock’s contributions were often valuable, the fact that he was purely a creature of logic became a detriment. There’s an axiom, originally taught to me by one of my managers about twenty years ago during one of my career opportunities: “Any strength, practiced to an extreme, becomes a weakness.”

Seemingly, we humans must accept the fact that we are occasionally going to be able to detach our personal involvement and emotions from our thinking processes and to indulge in objective thinking, but since we are deeply invested in our own experiences, reactions, and governing beliefs, in most cases our normal patterns will involve subjective, or personalized thinking. This is one of the reasons why we sometimes seek the opinions of, or counsel of professionals, valued friends, or relatives who do not share our emotional investment in a particular situation. As with our Mr. Spock, their detachment is often beneficial in assisting us through some of life’s difficult patches.

To eliminate the subjective is to divest oneself of one of the basic components of humanity. To suggest excision of it as part of our healing process is an indicator as to the graveness of our wounds. That would be considered to be an extreme measure. It would be preferable to concentrate on healing rather than excision, rehabilitating the damaged elements so that one can remain a functional human being with the full range of healthy emotions.

As victims of the Armstrong problem, not only was our concept of God misinformed and distorted, but also our basic sense of humanity, family, and community. Cause and effect. It has long been my contention that as a person reads a book, the parts which become memorable are largely a function of his or her own personality. When this is done with a book about God, the process becomes anthropomorphic. Herbert W. Armstrong, consciously or unconsciously, lifted from context and overly dramatized the elements of the Bible with which he personally identified, and which served his purposes. He taught us about a God whose primary way of expressing love was extreme punishment for the slightest hint of disobedience to His laws. This was a way of thinking that was not lost as it filtered down into the parenting skills of church members. HWA’s distortions did not provide us with a full and accurate picture, and remain a source of the problems many of us have had with God throughout our lives. They were more of an intoxicant than an aid to mental or spiritual health. So, it is hardly surprising that in order to deal with this, some of our fellow travelers have explored and embraced the importance of objective thinking. I know a little bit about this, because it is a technique which I’ve explored myself. But, it’s all too easy to take extreme measures in an effort to invalidate, eliminate, or compartmentalize activities and channels which have been used to hurt or damage us. Defensive measures often leave visible scar tissue, a remnant which serves as testimony to past injury. Others can sense this scar tissue, although they will not usually know the nature of the wound which produced it. Optimal healing involves regaining as complete functionality as possible, with minimal scarring. Hopefully with a dash of education seasoning the process.

For some reason, while I’ve been sharing this, the words to the Linda Ronstadt song (later covered by the Eagles) “Desperado” have been going through my head. (If you are unfamiliar with this song, Google it for the lyrics). In some way, they might illustrate the need and importance for healing which all of us share. I think it might even be a good soundtrack for this article.

Probably most people would agree that if there is a God, much of the way in which He could work with each of us as individuals would be through normal, healthy emotions, and a positive outlook towards spirituality. It would by very nature be a mental, highly subjective process, and produces passionate commitment. People of faith honestly believe that God is working in their lives, and many of us find evidence of this on a daily basis. Even while I was an atheist or agnostic, I was constantly amazed at the resilience and sense of well being and purpose of Christian people. This is awesome, and encouraging to watch sometimes, although there are some occasional cliff hangers! But, is what we seem to be seeing real? Isn’t it subjective, and in the mind, possibly even imaginary? Some say that we would be better off in detaching ourselves from such subjective thinking, and focusing solely on objective thinking. They say that in so doing, we will become enlightened. But, is this true, or does it constitute yet another set of filters or blinders? How we treat it would seem to be a choice. The fact that some choose one course, while others choose the polar opposite proves this. Apparently, it’s an area of our lives in which we can exercise some degree of control. And it would be a shame to make such a decision based on the hurt caused by false teachers.

We humans have five senses, recognized as being limited to specific areas of various spectra. And, if we’re fortunate, we get to utilize these senses over a period of roughly 70 years. Science has helped us in building devices to help us perceive some of the events which are occurring outside of our human range, and over greater periods of time than a normal human lifespan. That seems to have expanded our capabilities and understanding, but we are still extremely limited in our perceptions. Seemingly, we are faced with two general paths to greater awareness. One is to look more deeply within. The other is to look to an external source, one more knowledgeable than our own species. One limits us to the here and now. The other would seem to expand infinitely. Each of us must decide which one has greater potential and reliability. Your mileage may vary.

BB

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Wine & Cheese Tasting Party Begins……..Now!

Wow! My two predecessors got this new blog off to a rockin’ and rollin’ start! Thank you, Allen and Ralph for an awesome job, and thanks to James for providing the venue! I’d like to see us continue to grow in numbers here, and to see if we could especially get some of the ladies to begin commenting. So (this is NOT an April Fool’s joke!), April will be wine and cheese tasting month. I hope it will be a joyous celebration. Tell a friend!

I understand that we guest editors enjoy a modicum of discretion in these parts during our month, so here is what I have in mind. Basically, I’ll cut the cheese and you cats and chicks can pour the wine! What that means is that I’ll throw out some basic ideas, hopefully things of common interest that might deserve further exploration, and you folks go ahead and do most of the commenting. Bend it, stretch it, take it anywhere you want to go, as long as nobody gets the bright idea of slipping a little vinegar into one of the wine bottles! Freedom!!!!

So, settle down into some nice comfortable furniture, and let the fun begin. I’ve got some Stevie Ray Vaughan, some Jeff Healey and some Cracker cued up on the ol’ ipod, and we’ll be taking some requests for later on.

-Byker Bob

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