At first, I wasn't going to waste time answering Stephen's latest blurb, but after some thinking (within my foggy sub-conscious), the whole matter troubled me. Something, I felt, was wrong with this scenario and with the two inputs he's made. Even though I'm not interested in a nit-picking back and forth exchange, I still felt that here was something that just didn't click.
Psychologically, there's invariably something wrong when a person spins a sob story (be it real or imagined), and then shoves a barb (Barb #1; Barb #2) into everyone at the end of his article with an insult to everyone's personal character. One of the earlier contributors to the site also said as much of Stephen's previous article, and indicated that, he too felt this guy needed some sort of "guidance."
If Stephen's stories are real, and not enhanced fiction, then there's no need for attacks at the end of the narration. This is a very childish sting. Sincere people do NOT do this. The purpose in telling tales, as sad as these both are, is to share with others one's grief, maybe vent a little, to inform others of the mental and physical damage done by the Worldwide Church of God cult, and to help others who can see such a scenario coming into their own lives in the future. None of these reasons justifies the ugliness of a punch in the mouths of sincere contributors who have been "hooked in" by such sad tales.
My conclusion: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." (Hamlet. Act I, Scene IV.)
There appears to be no doubt that Stephen exists - in some form. The Editors have confirmed this, but I have no way of knowing if his stories are part fiction or real. Since I read both accounts of his life before and after Worldwide Church of God, I'm a little surprised that he did not mention the young lady (later article) in his first article. If she was indeed such an obvious part of his life, then I wondered why he didn't mention her name - at least in passing. Certainly, she had a huge continual impact on Stephen, and from his second story, he's obviously appears to be still in love with her. But there was no mention of the earlier hard times she had to endure in the first article, which would have tied in perfectly with the discussed Worldwide Church of God treatment of people. So, it's rather strange that her presence was completely omitted from Stephen's first input.
Possibly, there are some conclusions that could be made here that pertain to the validity of these articles. While I'm NOT saying they're untrue, I still feel uncomfortable with the syrupy style, the literary coloring, and way the tales are depicted. Something doesn't "click" right to me. But, I'm still trying not to be over skeptical.
FIRST thing is the situation of two sad stories followed by the insults. As mentioned, anyone who has a sincere story to tell doesn't finish up with hurling insults at the reader for the above reasons mentioned. This denotes insincerity, rudeness, disrespect, and a crass approach to the reader. A writer doesn't start off with one style and completely switch to another unless it's done deliberately to shock, anger, or cause resentment to those who are saddened by the stories.
SECOND is something that surprises me. Here, Stephen is a married man now, but he's sharing with the whole world about his love for someone else. Presumably, since he didn't say anything about his own marriage breaking up, he is seemingly happy in that relationship. So, why is he now claiming his love for this girl for all to see? At the same time, he's stating that she apparently loved him too. Reference the tattoo on her hip. (A "fading" heart? - Come on, guys!). If I were in the position of his wife, I'd feel hurt and insulted that my husband is telling the whole Internet of his affection (past and present) for this young lady. His friends must also wonder (if the whole story is true and not embellished), as to why he would offer this insult to his wife and family by telling the world he still cares for another woman. There is not one word of praise or love for his wife. He describes this young lady as: " . . . one of the most inherently compassionate people I ever known . . . " so his feeling for her is obvious and this personal insult to his wife must really hurt.
THIRD was the fact that he stated he came to the site to find out the whereabouts of this lady. After the first article, he apparently heard the unfortunate news of her incarceration. So, why didn't he ask about her in the first article? Others have asked for lost friends, both on the site and in the PT Forum. Why didn't he give her name and ask everyone if we knew her, or knew of her whereabouts? The "411" page is clearly marked. Everyone's willing to help, so why did he ignore this simple step in order to help him locate her, as he claimed he was trying to do?
FOURTH in order is his claim that he cannot reach her. This is rubbish. Since he's been on the Internet to the Florida Department of Corrections site (I checked it out) and made application (assuming he has the correct "DC" number which he must have in order to see her mug-shot), he now knows the prison, her number, the city of the prison and the zip code. All he has to do from this point is sit down and WRITE. A letter will always get to the person involved, even if that person is behind bars. Over the years, in and out of Worldwide Church of God, I've written to inmates, and while in Worldwide Church of God, I visited them, even though I was not a relative. These were at maximum security prisons, and I didn't get in there just because I was a "minister." No one at the prison knew who I was. I simply entered on visiting days, filled out the paperwork, showed my driver's license, was searched for weapons, and allowed to pass for visiting. Anyone can contact an inmate - relative or not - IF they really want to.
FIFTH brings up the point of getting attention. After the first article/letter, Stephen certainly got a lot of backlash. People responded, and certainly, major attention was paid to this gentleman. However, if the intent was not to get attention, with the first sad story followed by insults, then why did he repeat the same performance? Hey, if it worked once . . .???? Certainly, this "insult" methodology will get attention - as with the first article - but I can only hope that "attention getting" is not a major purpose behind the two articles. Insults are always guaranteed to get noticed, so if the intent is not to get attention, then why did he continue the insults?
SIXTH allows us to wonder if Stephen is not psychologically "baiting" us. If anyone does this, then obviously, they're not sincere. This is only one of the reasons (others mentioned above) as to why I do not feel that these articles are written in the spirit that they appear to be. If anyone writes an article to bait people, to get attention, or insult well-intended folks, then what's the motive? Besides the attention aspect, there is another possible answer. Although Stephen may be real, he could also be using the name of Stephen as a cover for a current Worldwide Church of God+ member or hireling. We could be the target of a Worldwide Church of God+ prank. It certainly would be a big joke for any current Worldwide Church of God+ member to play games with the PT Site (something which they loathe) and make dancing fools of us. Let's face it. Worldwide Church of God+ cults would do anything to discredit this site. While sincere letters and articles to the site are always taken as true, what a prank Worldwide Church of God+ers could be playing on us if they were generating these letters, watching our response, and laughing among themselves at our sincere attempts to answer their games! Since the previous and current articles' insults already indicate insincerity, then the foregoing scenario is certainly not out of the question.
At the very least, the whole situation with Stephen - as I see it - is somewhat confusing. Seeming sincerity with the stories on one hand, with insults to follow? What sort of logic is this? Sure, Stephen may be bitter, and I fully empathize with him if all this correspondence is for real. But also, if Stephen is for real, then there are better ways to get your point across and not alienate people who can be real friends. The questions are - does he want friendship? Does he honestly want to share? Is he just playing with us? Or does he want to lay blame?
Laying blame is something this whole world does now. It's a world nowadays where people blame everyone else for their problems. Granted, there are exceptions, but in general, people don't have the courage to accept responsibility for their mistakes, and try to pass the blame for their own blunders onto someone else. For example, just recently, O.J. Simpson was quoted as saying that his deceased wife Nicole was really responsible for her own death. Oh???? This is the type of insanity thinking in which our world swims. Granted, only the mindless and/or racists could believe such lunacy, but this depiction of transference continually happens. Blame someone else for our own problems, the world thinks, and we'll "feel" better when we can point our fingers elsewhere. This is what I see Stephen doing in his last communiqu,.
While there are many who don't believe in God being some little old man in the sky anymore, we still suffer problems in this world, and this is not the result of some angry God "zotting" the lawbreakers, but it's the result of universal reciprocity. We dictate our own trials and punishment. There is no God to punish us. We do that ourselves, by breaking universal laws. What goes around - comes around, is a truism, both spiritually and physically. Please check out Newton's Third Law of Motion. Therefore, if blame is to be laid somewhere, it must come right back to ourselves as the originating cause. We pass through hardships and trials (as ugly and unwelcome as they may be) to balance the cosmic laws of our own personal universe. And as tough as it may be to believe, we have to accept that we - and we alone - are responsible for everything that happens to us in life.
In Stephen's case, if the stories are true, then he must realize that, however painful, whatever happened is for his own "balancing," and to point the blame elsewhere is simply living in denial. We are NOT responsible for his life.
As far as I'm concerned, I can't be bothered with trying to answer someone if they're simply looking for attention, embellishing facts, are bitter to the point of insulting folks, or simply baiting people. I did so this time, because of the discomfort I felt about these articles and their acidic conclusions. If Stephen wants to take up an argument with me on the subject, then I have a lot more loaded questions, and he can communicate and insult me privately. The email's below.
Everyone, I'm sure, wishes all ex-WCGers the best of luck and the least of hardship. But many of us have very difficult times. Many of us have some hideous trials when we leave the cults, but in the end, they do strengthen us. No one wants the situation for any of us to be as dramatic as Stephen's purported stories have related. But if he wants friendship from people for his own life's journey, he'll gain a lot more friends and helpers by the serving of a sugar dialog rather than throwing acid in our faces.
Wanna chat? The email is Enlyten@hotmail.com
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