The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God
The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God.
Childhood Lost 8

Sunday's did little to lighten my spirits. Herbert saw to that. He'd personally developed a Bible Correspondence Course which, he said, properly reflected what the Bible really said, as opposed to what contemporary Christianity typically believed.

The correspondence course began with humanity a mere six thousand years old. They had to be because Herbert had discovered that God had a seven thousand year plan for the ultimate salvation of certain, select segments of it.

During the first six thousand years, he said, God, like all doting fathers, had determined that his children were to be left alone; left strictly to their own devices so that they might experiment with, and ultimately fail at, every thing they did. In so doing, he asserted, they would come to see that they, as a species, were utterly incapable of living without him. After arriving at this momentous conclusion, the remnants of the human race who had survived the catastrophic effects of both human misrule and those loving corrections meted out by the concerned and merciful Lord of the Revelation, would welcome the worldwide rule of the kingdom of God, as administered by Herbert W. and his faithful followers.

One dared not question these mysterious concepts too closely, however, and especially the murky premise that humans, left alone and unmolested, would invariably produce governments which would self destruct. Because from beginning to end, both Herbert's correspondence course and the bible itself were a litany of outside interference: From the Lord and his angels on one hand, to Satan and his demons on the other.

For starters, there was that initial account of the Edenic epoch. The story, divested of sanctified religious verbiage, was that God (six thousand years ago) created a garden and (much like the gingerbread house of Hansel and Grettle) filled it up with scrumptious things to eat. He then fashioned a physical replica of himself to dress and keep the vines, shrubs and trees, and called this creature Adam.

Realizing that his child might get lonely, the Lord had all the animals he'd created previously parade before the him to see if any of them would make a fitting wife. For whatever reason, none of the ants, goats, sharks or giraffes were deemed suitable consorts. At this point, some sort of anesthesia was induced, the Lord removed a rib from Adam and, using this as a source of raw materials, he fashioned a female. He called this unlikely duo his children and turned them loose in their garden home.

For reasons which can only be inferred, since the good book is characteristically silent on the subject, the Lord also created an especially beautiful tree loaded sinfully down with a luscious looking fruit of genus unknown. He placed it smack in the middle of the garden. But just in case the kids couldn't find it, he told them where it was and mentioned that, by the way, he'd kill them if they took so much as a single nibble.

Whether or not this obviously induced temptation constituted interference of a direct sort is still being juggled by theorists on both sides, but at the very least it could certainly be construed by those less inspired to have contributed heavily to a foregone conclusion.

To preserve the illusion of noninterference, from one side at least, a talking, sexist snake was introduced. This reptile slyly enticed the weaker willed human female, who then used her no doubt perfect (and ample) charms to beguile her mate, the results of which were disastrous. Within hours, the Lord had discovered their treachery, kicked his kids out of their garden, and told them they could forage in the dirt for food till hell froze over.

Several thousand years then passed and human beings, still rotten to the core, had apparently made so much of the one good thing they still had going for them, that they'd populated the entire planet from stem to stern, and filled it with nameless (but despicable!) iniquities. The Lord, it is said, then paid the planet a visit so he could see for himself the true extent of human depravity. By all accounts, it must have been phenomenal. So much so that He is recorded as saying he was sorry he ever had kids.

He found only one of child in all the earth who met his modest criteria for absolute perfection, and told him to build a boat because he was going to flood the whole earth and drown all his other brothers and sisters. The flood, as Armstrong related the occurrence, must have been a logistical nightmare. For starters, it required five times more water than has ever been available on earth, enough to submerge the entire planet more than five miles deep, if all mountains including Everest were taken into account. Such preemptive impossibilities (when raised) were never directly addressed by Herbert and Company, however, for when questioned they asserted that only a dangerous lack of faith in God's miracle working capabilities could prompt such queries in the first place. If the Lord had needed five times more water than he had on hand, he would have made some more. It was that simple.

In the matter of the ark itself, and just how much living and food storage space was required to sustain multiple pairs of every kind of wild and domestic animal, all creeping things (apparently excluding politicians) and every bird, winged creature and insect, to say nothing of four entire families, for a voyage lasting more than one year, was never satisfactorily examined. But a definite lack of space was inherently implied by a humble vessel, three hundred cubits long, fifty wide, and thirty high.

After the deluge, it apparently took humanity a few centuries to regroup and get back up to abominable speed. For other than a few incomprehensible genealogies, there was apparently nothing titillating to report until that curious incident at the Tower of Babel.

There came a day in pre-civilized history when nearly every single human on Earth was simultaneously seized with a burning desire to visit the Shinar valley in what is now Iraq. Once there, they decided to call it home. Moreover, being of sound mind and one language, and having nothing better to do with their stupendous life spans, they decided that, as long as they were there, they might as well build a tower so high it reached into outer space. For reasons yet unknown, this enterprise, when reported, was objectionable to the Lord. Apparently unable to view the goings on from his location, he descended to earth once more and determined that, contrary to the expectations of all the prophets both past and present, his children were getting along remarkably well; too damned well, as a matter of fact, so he instantly created new tribes, languages, cultures and, in blatant violation of civil rights statutes, segregated people strictly on those basis.

To those more cynical, this surely smacked of interference of some sort, but when such questions were raised the doubting were swiftly admonished not to question God Almighty (or his inscrutable prophet).

By the time I'd finished with the first installment of Armstrong's fifty two lesson course, Sunday was half shot. It was abundantly clear that if I was to enjoy any free time at all, Herbert W. either had to get a lot less bombastic or I had to become a lot more religious, neither of which seemed likely. There are always third alternatives to such situations, that much I knew. The problem was, alternatives born of desperation were usually the very ones most likely to result in retaliation.

Nevertheless, sacred script began disappearing from our premises. Oh, not all at once, or even sequentially, to be sure. Just the odd lesson here and there. At first, I buried them out in the pasture, but apparently not deep enough. Some nameless animal, in search of spiritual edification no doubt, unearthed them. Fortunately, I discovered the disinterment before my firstborn and far more sanctimonious brother did. After that, I simply burned them one page at a time and buried the ashes.

Chapter 7


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