2015: Stagnation

Stagnation
Stagnation

Herbert Armstrong established an empire which could only end in the stagnation of fetid rotten pockets of stale sluggishness where even revenue flow is stagnant. The stench of stagnation with entropy drifted everywhere among the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia sects in 2014 and trends indicate that 2015 will continue the stagnation. No one should expect the return of the Laodocean rich and increased in goods in need of nothing prosperity of the 1970s Worldwide Church of God because it is never coming back. Frankly, it may well be that 2015 may not even be as good as 2014 was and 2014 just wasn’t all that good.

Thumbs Down
Thumbs Down

A recent anonymous commenter on Banned! succinctly described the problem in a comment about United:

After 80 years of Armstrongism, you would think they would have gotten somewhere. Instead, Armstrongism is predicated upon stagnation, constantly reinventing wheels, and misguided attempts to “really get serious this time.” As a result, “depth” is something no one has ever achieved. Armstrongism’s idea about “going deeper” is to double-down on strategies that have proven to lead only to failure, and to go around in an old, familiar circles yet one more time.

How “deep” or “exhaustive” has any COG minister or member’s attempt to understand the bible or live like Jesus ever been? Armstrongists keep on using words like “deeper” or “more exhaustive,” but the fact is, these now-trite sayings are incoherent. Either something is exhaustive, or it is not. It is not possible to do a job “more exhaustively.” All this means is, “We were wrong about saying we did it ‘exhaustively’ last time (like every other time) and we’ll probably be wrong this time too. The reason why they can’t even come up to “the world’s” standards is because, for all their talk about “mooring” they’re completely unmoored from reality. Everything they say is without any objective referent to anchor it. The only thing that’s possible is more pie-in-the-sky talk and meaningless platitudes. They’ve never been serious before and they’re not about to get serious now.

The trouble is, when one really does make the personal decision to “get serious,” it winds up in that person realizing that he needs to leave Armstrongism behind, because the COGs, in and of themselves are an imposition to “getting serious.” Acceptance of the tenets of Armstrongism bind you with shallowness and stagnation. They make the abandonment of seriousness incumbent upon the believer. Instead, they divert any “seriousness” they might have had into useless old testament rituals like “deleavening” their homes. Ritualized “progress” takes the place of any actual “progress.” The only thing ministerial types like Robin Webber have ever been “serious” about is coming up with that extra 5 inches.

Armstrongist Leader Ponders 2015 Business Strategy
Armstrongist Leader Ponders 2015 Business Strategy

Perhaps we can expect statements of the state of the Work by the various cult leaders again this year. It may be that David Pack will issue Pastor General Yearly Letter again this January as he did last year with glowing reports of explosive growth for the Restored Church of God, but in reality the operative word here should be ‘implosion’. It looks like he’s been buying more property without sufficient resources to pay for it and that Steuben Crystal at the office looks like it will collect dust. Meanwhile, Davey will keep his member abuse program going in high gear, but that’s hardly an effort which will create an enthusiastic energy for his compound.

David Hulme learned something about tampering with British Israelism last year and it is very likely he will not recoup his losses.

The Future of Roderick Meredith
The Future of Roderick Meredith

The Living Church of God continues to have a name that it is Living, but it’s in the stagnant doldrums and the only possible excitement in 2015 could be the death of Roderick Meredith. There would be a great deal of frenetic activity temporarily, overriding the stagnation, but if it were to occur, the ultimate result would be even more stagnation from entropy, with possible help from a major split or two.

Robert Thiel has been off to a slow start and it does look like it’s going to decline from there: Expect stagnation.

PCG British Campus
PCG British Campus

Gerald Flurry keeps making noises about how good things are going at the Philadelphia Church of God, but a word of advice: When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall. Flurry has been spending money he doesn’t have and has bought a new campus in England which may well have as many as 8 students and it may well be the British may require diversity classes. Brad MacDonald will be moving in to be headmaster of a glorified high school called ‘college’ or ‘university’. It’s too bad he couldn’t get Bricket Wood and this is certainly not the same level of culture being represented, but it made him feel better to buy it and after all that’s said and done, raising the dopamine levels in a geriatric Armstrongist leader is what’s important here. It’s tempest in a teapot time and the water in the teapot has stagnated.

Ronald Weinland continues his prison term, so the PKG can’t expect much progress — it’s stagnation squared, while Weinland issues doltish daft decrees from his cell. He will continue to do so, and the troops in the trenches will continue to get the manure falling from heaven.

James Malm will continue to more or less accurately portray the faults and evils of his compatriot competitors without ever looking in the mirror.

The United Church of God, an International Association will have all things continue as they have from the beginning… of 2014. They have noted that their average congregation size is 20 to 30 people (that’s an average — some are hundreds and some could fit in a phone booth). That is not cause for optimism, because there is a bottom line. In the stagnation, there really isn’t much new blood and ministers continue to retire. In this long slide of entropy toward irrelevance, the average rank-and-file member will have less in the way of personal ministerial contact, not that has ever been a priority in the Armstrongist churches, but it will get ever worse… slowly. Changing the name of the flagship magazine from The Good News to Beyond Today can do nothing but lend itself to stagnation. It was about time to change, though, since the UCG hasn’t really come up with much good news, although… there may not be much beyond today for them — eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you could retire. It’s truly unfortunate that The Originals have passed from the administration, taking their expertise and vision with them, so in the interest of helping out the Council of Elders, we highly suggest this book for their support:

Church Cult Corporate for Dummies
Church Cult Corporate for Dummies

Hope it helps. The members have received the very last Good News they will ever get from United.

If the UCG is having challenges, one can only suspect that it will be worse for the clowns at the Church of God Worldwide Association. Everybody is aging out on the average from senior to geriatric in Armstrongism and the CoGWA certainly isn’t going to be exempt from stagnation. The dream of establishing a college or university just isn’t in the cards and they likely overestimated the possible prosperity on the way out of United. There are not a few people wondering why they are in CoGWA at this point, because, except for the name on the door, you really can’t tell much difference from the UCG. Their flagship magazine is One Accord. Ha, ha, ha! That’s really funny when you consider they split with the UCG. One Accord. Is that all they have left of their transportation fleet?

The House of Yahweh with Yisrael Hawkins isn’t going anywhere. It is likely that HoY will be featured again as an expose on Dr. Phil and legal problems will continue, but at a low level, befitting the state of stagnation into which it has fallen.

The Church of God in Truth with James Russell? He said himself that “we haven’t learned anything new in 40 years”. He does claim that because the other Churches of God don’t keep the Feast Days at the right time, they will be those described in Revelation 3:9, “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” Yes, friends, all the other Armstrongists are the synagogue of Satan saying they are Jews but are not, will suffer in the Millennium while CoGIT members will be God as God is God, lording it over everybody else. With this ‘holier than thou’ attitude, there is no chance that there’s going to be much change: Expect stagnation. If there is an afterlife, someone is in for a BIG surprise! You should all get their flagship magazine, Prove All Things. It’s worth it for the misprints in every issue. For example, a favorite is “Herbert Armstrong Pasture General”. Replete with manure? Watch where you step? They have something every issue. It’s hilarious! They should Proof Read All Things.

And there are the Rittenbaughs of the Church of the Great God fame. Oh, maybe you’ve not heard of them? Perhaps fame is too strong a word? Let’s just say that they are of the same conservative ilk as the rest of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia, except no one much notices them or their flagship magazine, Forerunner Magazine. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it had something to do with Toyota. Prognosticate that they will see stagnation in 2015? It’s a little late for that. Try obscurity instead. We wonder what happened to their minister who raped 16 teenage girls and 8 of their mothers? Still preaching or not with them? Who cares? This sect doesn’t even rise to the level of apathy and will continue that way through 2015. The founder was a welder at U.S. Steel for 16 years. It’s like Johnathan and Martha Kent at their Smallville farm setting ecommerce up from their farmhouse living room to market organic produce to the Luthorcorp employees cafeteria, except in this case, there’s not really much of a product and not much of a market.

We’d mention Mark Armstrong and the Intercontinental Church of God, but if you look at their website, you’d swear that Garner Ted Armstrong was still alive, so what’s the point?

Dixon Cartwright will continue reporting about the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia in The Journal as a journalistic exercise in irrelevance in the modern world for those addicted to the preposterous idea that it’s all one big happy family of specialized believers when he knows very well it is nothing of the kind, with some of the weirdest ideas ever being promulgated in the ads while some of the real news is being covered up: It’s an impressive effort to ‘report’ on the stagnation where everything is presented in such a positive light when the underlying core is utter garbage, much of which is generated with people who have severe mental disorders. It wouldn’t be half as bad if he didn’t know better and didn’t pretend everything is OK. It’s called enabling; Dixon Cartwright is a enabler. He has The Touch: He can make the daft seem respectable; just don’t think about it too long.

In all of this, Herbert Armstrong will continue to remain very dead all the way through 2015.

The Worldwide Church of God transformed itself into Grace Communion International in 2009. Originally, Joseph Tkach, Senior ‘inherited’ (hostile takeover) from Herbert Armstrong when Herbert Armstrong died in 2006. After Joseph Tkach, Senior died, his son, (Dr.?) Jo(seph)[e] Tkach (,Junior) finished taking the WCG into pseudo mainstream Christianity replete with Christmas, Easter and the Trinity which was much less mainstream than it may have appeared — retaining the autocratic nature of the ‘leadership’ but projecting a more benign ‘liberal’ religion. It became stagnant long ago as masses of people left either for the more traditional cult Armstrongism or became atheists and agnostics. Congregations shrank significantly to pathetic little groups, some of which kept Sunday, others keeping Saturday still and still others kept both Saturday and Sunday. Feasts were slowly but surely eradicated, but not before the Feast of Tabernacles was kept in August so it was more convenient to get time off work and school children (the few that attended) wouldn’t have to miss any school. The ‘headquarters’ was sold to provide riches for the few at the top and the ‘administration’ moved to Financial Street in a nearby city. To tell the truth, there’s so much stagnation that those still left would be better off in local mainstream Christian churches with the people, doctrines and facilities and sever their connections with GCI once and for all. GCI has become totally irrelevant and those with the beliefs espoused by the GCI would be better served by going elsewhere. It seems unlikely that 2015 will change much for them.

Unfortunately, stagnation cuts both ways. There was a time not too long ago that those of us working to expose the sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia had an impact. Expect that to slow in 2015. Herbert Armstrong originally created the Pavlovian response by getting members conditioned to respond to prophecies of death, doom, destruction, devastation, deviancy (in the world) so whenever they heard or saw news reports, particularly those which engaged British Israelism in their heads, it invoked belief, strengthening their faith in the prognostications. Of course, Herbert applied a layer of snow on top of the toxic dump to make it attractive by plying his wiles to create visions of a brave new world of prosperity where the members were to become God as God is God: Ring the bell and the salivation began.

Typical congregation meeting in living room
Typical congregation meeting in living room

Rex Sexton of the UCG wrote in a church bulletin that church members were like dogs being trained by the Master, Jesus Christ. He has something there: Doggie members have two basic rules for their control — keep them on a short leash and don’t let them bark. It is useful to let them out free to romp in a dog park once a year to socialize at the so-called “Feast of Tabernacles”, and if you’re with the right trainers, you might even get out to play at the so-called ‘Winter Social’ which is really the Winter Solstice Social. There will be fun exercises and special doggie treats — for the ‘good dogs’. The one thing every mutt fears is the minister calling them ‘bad dog!”. That will bring about howling. No, the leaders must be careful in their regimen. Every dog has his day. And being in the Restored Church of God gives new meaning to ‘running with the Pack’. Dogs. They’re all dogs. Care must be taken not to mention Revelation 22:15.

The spit-offs have continued to ring the bell and the salivation continues, but the dogs are old and can’t do a much as service animals any more. For one thing, because of the decline in membership and the fact that the seniors are becoming geriatric, the bell has to be rung ever so more loudly for a response. The pooches are finding it harder and harder to hear and even more difficult to get around.

On the other hand, the old dogs aren’t getting up and roaming any more. Youth is gone and so is the spry. The Armstrongist Churches of God are beginning to realize that they have to let the dogs lie because their get up and go has gotten up and gone. This means that members don’t become strays much any longer. They lost their curiosity (and a lot of other things). They aren’t that swift on the uptake any more and the cultists have a captive audience in their little dog pounds. One would hope that the leaders — the hounds of hell — would be bitten by their mother when they return home to the kennel.

The implication of this is clear: Disorganizations, such as the PKG with Ronald Weinland, have had most of those who are going to leave, leave. The rest just stay and stay, no matter how little sense it makes, and continue to wait until Weinland rings the bell again from Terre Haut, Indiana.

Avalokiteshvara at the False Prophet Ronald Weinland adds one extra dimension to this discussion:

The COGS attract narcissists who lust for power and glory so the COGS are where they flock to. And then when they start seeing the real evil that Weinland and Flurry and all the other maggots do they use their intelligence to explain it away as if it is GOD’s Will or a righteous way to behave. They love the idea of a hierarchy, a place where they can treat everyone like they are already GODS because they are now in a highly ranked system. The Gospel of Christ and Heaven are not enough for a COG member. They want more. Power! Riches! Planets! GOD at THEIR right hand side!

The COG members that stay in these fake churches LOVE thinking they are better than everyone, and to leave the PKG or PCG or whatever is to lose their justification for bullying, lying, theft, misogyny, and all the other things they love to inflict on others to feel like they are GODS.

COG leaders are merciless, greedy, arrogant narcissists who reward their followers with the chance to share in this greed and lust and brutality – in the abuse of others (in the name of God) as long as these aspiring anti-Christs keep the tithes coming to the lead anti-Christ! And once you invent a reasonable story in your head to justify what you know DEEP DOWN is wrong, you get intelligent people acting unwise (evil). It is so easy to see that the Fruits of the Spirit in these COG leaders are CLEARLY Satanic, you MUST fool yourself in order to think they are godly!

Wolf Minister
Wolf Minister

It’s easier if you remember that dogs are the descendants of wolves. It’s a dog eat dog society — a result of bad breeding.

Stagnation has set in, in a big way and the dogs of war don’t much give as much as a woof any more — and it looks like that’s the way it’s going to stay in 2015: It’s all going to the dogs. The ACoGs should buy new deck chairs for the Titanic so they can constantly rearrange them — if only they could afford them!

2015: Stagnation — one implication is that a mediocre equilibrium of evil will be achieved by the Armstrongist leaders who will continue to act like 9 year old schoolyard psychopath alcoholic boozing bullies extorting lunch money so they can have prime rib with Dom and those who they have robbed will continue to dig in the trash bin to find something — anything — to eat. The glass ceiling between the elite and the Proles will become thicker and more opaque than ever, ever more impenetrable to the peasants as the Oriental Potentate and his henchmen continue their oppression upon the helpless who they see as social misfits who the elite have made that way.

There may (or may not) be more ministers / elders who are convicted of pedophilia in 2015.

It will be OK: The mediocrity will not bother you as long as you remain clueless.

Do we really have to say it? Stagnation means that the old guard will remain because you can’t teach old dogs new tricks or science, for that matter.

Just watch where you step.

Lost, Confused, Unsure, Unclear, Perplexed
Lost, Confused, Unsure, Unclear, Perplexed

Grow in grace and knowledge?

Not likely.

Because they all stopped accepting correction a very long time ago.

Divinization. The Sandkings.

Divinization: the act, process, or an instance of investing with a divine character or of making into an object of worship…
Analogy: a comparison made to show such a similarity… followers of Herbert Armstrong who hold him up as a man of God.

Some of man’s greatest achievements have been motivated by a driving need for love and acceptance. What happens when that need for recognition, becomes a desire to be revered, and then worshiped…like a god?

Synopsis:

THE SANDKINGS

Dr. Simon Kress’ (Beau Bridges) research for the government on Martian life is aborted because one of his specimens escaped his lab and almost made it to the surface. However, Kress doesn’t agree with the abandonment of the project and decides to continue his experiments in his barn. He steals some sand containing Martian eggs from his lab and creates a makeshift incubator to hatch more of the Martian lifeforms.

The sandkings evolve into two distinct groups, a white group and a red group, and settle on opposite sides of their glass enclosure. Kress comes to believe that he is a god to his sandkings when the white group builds a sand structure that resemble his face.

We all know the story. While all of the salivating wannabes were coffin-drooling around the time of Herbie’s foreseeable departure, the new job of “Pastor General” went to JWT. So, all the indignant wannabes took their marbles, left “God’s only true church,” and started their own cults. Please note: They had all condemned Garner Ted Armstrong for doing this exact thing a few years earlier. Naturally, most of these bozos claimed to have the “anointing” now moved to them exclusively. There could be no room for any competition here. “God” had supposedly chosen a “new-improved” anointed one… More HERE.

"THE FIR TREE" A Christmas Story.

christmas-2014
CLICK TO ENLARGE

This tale portrays a certain psychological type who cannot be happy in the moment because he, like the fir tree of this story, expects greater glory just around the corner and then is overwhelmed with regret. The fir-tree is “a fantasist, vain, fearful, restless type, afflicted with the trembling sensitivity of the neurotic, manically swinging from hope to misery.” 

Those in the Armstrong churches of God should be able to identify with the tragic fir-tree’s anxious longing and limitless pining for something better to come. If the sad truth be known, THIS IS IT!

_________________________________________________________________________

xmas-lightsTHE FIR TREE

Adapted by J. H. Stickney

[Pg 25]Far away in the forest, where the warm sun and the fresh air made a sweet resting place, grew a pretty little fir tree. The situation was all that could be desired; and yet it was not happy, it wished so much to be like its tall companions, the pines and firs which grew around it.

The sun shone, and the soft air fluttered its leaves, and the little peasant children passed by, prattling merrily; but the fir tree did not heed them.

Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed in straws, and seat themselves near the fir tree, and say, “Is it not a pretty little tree?” which made it feel even more unhappy than before.

And yet all this while the tree grew a notch or joint taller every year; for by the number of joints in the stem of a fir tree we can discover its age.

Still, as it grew, it complained: “Oh! how I wish I were as tall as the other trees; then I would spread out my branches on every side, and my crown would overlook the wide world around. I should have the birds building their nests on my boughs, and when the wind blew, I should bow with stately dignity, like my tall companions.”

So discontented was the tree, that it took no pleasure in the warm sunshine, the birds, or the rosy clouds that floated over it morning and evening.

[Pg 26]Sometimes in winter, when the snow lay white and glittering on the ground, there was a little hare that would come springing along, and jump right over the little tree’s head; then how mortified it would feel.

Two winters passed; and when the third arrived, the tree had grown so tall that the hare was obliged to run round it. Yet it remained unsatisfied, and would exclaim, “Oh! to grow, to grow; if I could but keep on growing tall and old! There is nothing else worth caring for in the world.”

In the autumn the woodcutters came, as usual, and cut down several of the tallest trees; and the young fir, which was now grown to its full height, shuddered as the noble trees fell to the earth with a crash.

After the branches were lopped off, the trunks looked so slender and bare that they could scarcely be recognized. Then they were placed, one upon another, upon wagons, and drawn by horses out of the forest. “Where could they be going? What would become of them?” The young fir tree wished very much to know.

So in the spring, when the swallows and the storks came, it asked, “Do you know where those trees were taken? Did you meet them?”

The swallows knew nothing; but the stork, after a little reflection, nodded his head, and said, “Yes, I think I do. As I flew from Egypt, I saw several new ships, and they had fine masts that smelt like fir. These must have been the trees; and I assure you they were stately; they sailed right gloriously!”

“Oh, how I wish I were tall enough to go on the sea,”[Pg 27] said the fir tree. “Tell me what is this sea, and what does it look like?”

“It would take too much time to explain, a great deal too much,” said the stork, flying quickly away.

“Rejoice in thy youth,” said the sunbeam; “rejoice in thy fresh growth, and in the young life that is in thee.”

And the wind kissed the tree, and the dew watered it with tears; but the fir tree regarded them not.

Christmas time drew near, and many young trees were cut down, some that were even smaller and younger than the fir tree, who enjoyed neither rest nor peace with longing to leave its forest home. These young trees, which were chosen for their beauty, kept their branches, and were also laid on wagons, and drawn by horses far away out of the forest.

“Where are they going?” asked the fir tree. “They are not taller than I am; indeed, one is not so tall. And why do they keep all their branches? Where are they going?”

“We know, we know,” sang the sparrows; “we have looked in at the windows of the houses in the town, and we know what is done with them. Oh! you cannot think what honor and glory they receive. They are dressed up in the most splendid manner. We have seen them standing in the middle of a warm room, and adorned with all sorts of beautiful things;—honey cakes, gilded apples, playthings, and many hundreds of wax tapers.”

“And then,” asked the fir tree, trembling in all its branches, “and then what happens?”

“We did not see any more,” said the sparrows; “but this was enough for us.”

[Pg 28]”I wonder whether anything so brilliant will ever happen to me,” thought the fir tree. “It would be better even than crossing the sea. I long for it almost with pain. Oh, when will Christmas be here? I am now as tall and well grown as those which were taken away last year. Oh, that I were now laid on the wagon, or standing in the warm room, with all that brightness and splendor around me! Something better and more beautiful is to come after, or the trees would not be so decked out. Yes, what follows will be grander and more splendid. What can it be? I am weary with longing. I scarcely know what it is that I feel.”

“Rejoice in our love,” said the air and the sunlight. “Enjoy thine own bright life in the fresh air.”

But the tree would not rejoice, though it grew taller every day and, winter and summer, its dark green foliage might be seen in the forests, while passersby would say, “What a beautiful tree!”

A short time before Christmas the discontented fir tree was the first to fall. As the axe cut sharply through the stem, and divided the pith, the tree fell with a groan to the earth, conscious of pain and faintness, and forgetting all its dreams of happiness, in sorrow at leaving its home in the forest. It knew that it should never again see its dear old companions, the trees, nor the little bushes and many-colored flowers that had grown by its side; perhaps not even the birds. Nor was the journey at all pleasant.

The tree first recovered itself while being unpacked in the courtyard of a house, with several other trees; and it [Pg 29]heard a man say, “We only want one, and this is the prettiest. This is beautiful!”

Then came two servants in grand livery, and carried the fir tree into a large and beautiful apartment. Pictures hung on the walls, and near the great stove stood great china vases, with lions on the lids. There were rocking chairs, silken sofas, large tables covered with pictures, books, and playthings that had cost a hundred times a hundred dollars; at least so said the children.

Then the fir tree was placed in a large tub, full of sand; but green baize hung all around it, so that no one could know it was a tub; and it stood on a very handsome carpet. Oh, how the fir tree trembled! What was going to happen to him now? Some young ladies came in, and the servants helped them to adorn the tree.

On one branch they hung little bags cut out of colored paper, and each bag was filled with sweetmeats. From other branches hung gilded apples and walnuts, and all around were hundreds of red, blue and white tapers, which were fastened upon the branches. Dolls, exactly like real men and women, were placed under the green leaves,—and the tree had never seen such things before,—and at the top was fastened a glittering star, made of gold tinsel. Oh, it was very beautiful. “This evening,” they all exclaimed, “how bright it will be!”

“Oh, that the evening were come,” thought the tree, “and the tapers lighted! Then I should know what else is going to happen. Will the trees of the forest come to see me? Will the sparrows peep in at the windows, I wonder, as they fly? Shall I grow faster here, and keep on all these ornaments during summer and winter?”[Pg 30] But guessing was of very little use. His back ached with trying; and this pain is as bad for a slender fir tree as headache is for us.

At last the tapers were lighted, and then what a glistening blaze of splendor the tree presented! It trembled so with joy in all its branches, that one of the candles fell among the green leaves and burnt some of them. “Help! help!” exclaimed the young ladies; but there was no danger, for they quickly extinguished the fire.

After this the tree tried not to tremble at all, though the fire frightened him, he was so anxious not to hurt any of the beautiful ornaments, even while their brilliancy dazzled him.

And now the folding doors were thrown open, and a troop of children rushed in as if they intended to upset the tree, and were followed more slowly by their elders. For a moment the little ones stood silent with astonishment, and then they shouted for joy till the room rang; and they danced merrily round the tree, while one present after another was taken from it.

“What are they doing? What will happen next?” thought the tree. At last the candles burned down to the branches, and were put out. Then the children received permission to plunder the tree.

Oh, how they rushed upon it! There was such a riot that the branches cracked, and had it not been fastened with the glistening star to the ceiling, it must have been thrown down.

Then the children danced about with their pretty toys, and no one noticed the tree, except the children’s maid, [Pg 31]who came and peeped among the branches to see if an apple or a fig had been forgotten.

“A story, a story,” cried the children, pulling a little fat man toward the tree.

“Now we shall be in green shade,” said the man, as he seated himself under it, “and the tree will have the pleasure of hearing also; but I shall only relate one story. What shall it be? Ivede-Avede, or Humpty-Dumpty, who fell down stairs, but soon got up again, and at last married a princess?”

“Ivede-Avede,” cried some. “Humpty-Dumpty,” cried others; and there was a famous uproar. But the fir tree remained quite still, and thought to himself, “Shall I have anything to do with all this? Ought I to make a noise too?” but he had already amused them as much as they wished.

Then the old man told them the story of Humpty-Dumpty;—how he fell downstairs and was raised up again, and married a princess. And the children clapped their hands and cried “Tell another, tell another,” for they wanted to hear the story of Ivede-Avede; but this time they had only Humpty-Dumpty. After this the fir tree became quite silent and thoughtful. Never had the birds in the forest told such tales as Humpty-Dumpty who fell down stairs, and yet married a princess.

“Ah, yes! so it happens in the world,” thought the fir tree. He believed it all, because it was related by such a pleasant man.

“Ah, well!” he thought, “who knows? Perhaps I may fall down too and marry a princess;” and he looked forward joyfully to the next evening, expecting to be again [Pg 32]decked out with lights and playthings, gold and fruit. “Tomorrow I will not tremble,” thought he; “I will enjoy all my splendor, and I shall hear the story of Humpty-Dumpty again, and perhaps Ivede-Avede.” And the tree remained quiet and thoughtful all night.

In the morning the servants and the housemaid came in. “Now,” thought the fir tree, “all my splendor is going to begin again.” But they dragged him out of the room and upstairs to the garret and threw him on the floor, in a dark corner where no daylight shone, and there they left him. “What does this mean?” thought the tree. “What am I to do here? I can hear nothing in a place like this;” and he leaned against the wall and thought and thought.

And he had time enough to think, for days and nights passed, and no one came near him; and when at last somebody did come, it was only to push away some large boxes in a corner. So the tree was completely hidden from sight as if it had never existed.

“It is winter now,” thought the tree; “the ground is hard and covered with snow, so that people cannot plant me. I shall be sheltered here, I dare say, until spring comes. How thoughtful and kind everybody is to me! Still, I wish this place were not so dark and so dreadfully lonely, with not even a little hare to look at. How pleasant it was out in the forest while the snow lay on the ground, when the hare would run by, yes, and jump over me too, although I did not like it then. Oh! it is terribly lonely here.”

“Squeak, squeak,” said a little mouse, creeping cautiously towards the tree; then came another, and they [Pg 33]both sniffed at the fir tree, and crept in and out between the branches.

“Oh, it is very cold here,” said the little mouse. “If it were not, we would be very comfortable here, wouldn’t we, old fir tree?”

“I am not old,” said the fir tree. “There are many who are older than I am.”

“Where do you come from?” asked the mice, who were full of curiosity; “and what do you know? Have you seen the most beautiful places in the world, and can you tell us all about them? And have you been in the storeroom, where cheeses lie on the shelf and hams hang from the ceiling? One can run about on tallow candles there; one can go in thin and come out fat.”

“I know nothing of that,” said the fir tree; “but I know the wood where the sun shines and the birds sing.” And then the tree told the little mice all about its youth. They had never heard such an account in their lives; and after they had listened to it attentively, they said, “What a number of things you have seen! You must have been very happy.”

“Happy!” exclaimed the fir tree; and then, as he reflected on what he had been telling them, he said, “Ah, yes! after all, those were happy days.” But when he went on and related all about Christmas eve, and how he had been dressed up with cakes and lights, the mice said, “How happy you must have been, you old fir tree.”

“I am not old at all,” replied the tree; “I only came from the forest this winter. I am now checked in my growth.”

“What splendid stories you can tell,” said the little [Pg 34]mice. And the next night four other mice came with them to hear what the tree had to tell. The more he talked, the more he remembered, and then he thought to himself, “Yes, those were happy days; but they may come again. Humpty-Dumpty fell downstairs, and yet he married a princess. Perhaps I may marry a princess too.” And the fir tree thought of the pretty little birch tree that grew in the forest; a real princess, a beautiful princess, she was to him.

“Who is Humpty-Dumpty?” asked the little mice. And then the tree related the whole story; he could remember every single word. And the little mice were so delighted with it, that they were ready to jump to the top of the tree. The next night a great many more mice made their appearance, and on Sunday two rats came with them; but they said it was not a pretty story at all, and the little mice were very sorry, for it made them also think less of it.

“Do you know only that one story?” asked the rats.

“Only that one,” replied the fir tree. “I heard it on the happiest evening of my life; but I did not know I was so happy at the time.”

“We think it is a very miserable story,” said the rats. “Don’t you know any story about bacon or tallow in the storeroom?”

“No,” replied the tree.

“Many thanks to you, then,” replied the rats, and they went their ways.

The little mice also kept away after this, and the tree sighed and said, “It was very pleasant when the merry little mice sat around me and listened while I talked.[Pg 35] Now that is all past too. However, I shall consider myself happy when someone comes to take me out of this place.”

But would this ever happen? Yes; one morning people came to clear up the garret; the boxes were packed away, and the tree was pulled out of the corner and thrown roughly on the floor; then the servants dragged it out upon the staircase where the daylight shone.

“Now life is beginning again,” said the tree, rejoicing in the sunshine and fresh air. Then it was carried downstairs and taken into the courtyard so quickly that it forgot to think of itself, and could only look about, there was so much to be seen.

The court was close to a garden, where everything looked blooming. Fresh and fragrant roses hung over the little palings. The linden trees were in blossom; while the swallows flew here and there crying, “Twit, twit, twit, my mate is coming;” but it was not the fir tree they meant.

“Now I shall live,” cried the tree joyfully, spreading out its branches; but alas! they were all withered and yellow, and it lay in a corner amongst weeds and nettles. The star of gold paper still stuck in the top of the tree, and glittered in the sunshine.

In the same courtyard two of the merry children were playing who had danced round the tree at Christmas time and had been so happy. The youngest saw the gilded star and ran and pulled it off the tree. “Look what is sticking to the ugly old fir tree,” said the child, treading on the branches till they crackled under his boots.

And the tree saw all the fresh, bright flowers in the [Pg 36]garden, and then looked at itself, and wished it had remained in the dark corner of the garret. It thought of its fresh youth in the forest, of the merry Christmas evening, and of the little mice who had listened to the story of Humpty-Dumpty.

“Past! past!” said the poor tree. “Oh, had I but enjoyed myself while I could have done so! but now it is too late.”

Then a lad came and chopped the tree into small pieces, till a large bundle lay in a heap on the ground. The pieces were placed in the fire, and they blazed up brightly, while the tree sighed so deeply that each sigh was like a little pistol shot. Then the children, who were at play, came and seated themselves in front of the fire and looked at it, and cried, “Pop, pop.” But at each “pop,” which was a deep sigh, the tree was thinking of a summer day in the forest, or of some winter night there when the stars shone brightly, and of Christmas evening and of Humpty-Dumpty, the only story it had ever heard, or knew how to relate,—till at last it was consumed.

The boys still played in the garden, and the youngest wore the golden star on his breast with which the tree had been adorned during the happiest evening of its existence. Now all was past; the tree’s life was past, and the story also past! for all stories must come to an end some time or other.

From “Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales,” adapted by J. H. Stickney.
By permission of the publishers—Ginn and Company.

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Jeremiah 10 and Christmas Trees. The Painful Truth.

More on Christmas HERE and HERE.



The (not so) Painful Truth About Christmas.

Blast from the past….

xmas_1948_watchmakers_0

 By John B.

(Author’s note: This article is not an attempt to persuade anyone else to my point of view.  It is offered solely for whatever it may be worth, and expresses my opinion only.  Jb)

     Now that Christmas 2000 is just an X on the calendar, I want to take the time to explore an issue that comes to the minds of many, if not most, exWCG+ members when they first break into the open and dash for freedom from the cult: What about Christmas?  (Or Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, New Years?)  Even though one has left the cult, is it still necessary to observe “days and times and new moons”, or is it now okay to observe “pagan” festivals?

     When I first broke loose in 1992, the observance of holidays was the last thing on my mind.  For months I was preoccupied with a reassessment of my entire belief system, including everything from whether to eat Jello to whether I should still hate homosexuals.  At the same time I was acutely conscious that the “true church of God” was no such thing, so where was the True Church?  Or did it exist?  And what about the tons of doctrines we had been taught.  Surely not all of them could be wrong, but which were and which weren’t?  I hardly had time to worry about Christmas.

     But Christmas rolled around all too quickly.  I resigned on May 29, and as autumn approached my wife began talking about possibly returning to a celebration of the winter festival.

     What?

     Shit!

     So I had to detour for a while and consider the matter.  And I think most exWorldwiders at some point do the same thing.

     I recently visited a former WCG forum and found a discussion on Christmas.  Several people admitted that they now celebrate Christmas in some form, others do not.  What struck me was that even those who do somehow felt obliged to explain themselves.  “We don’t keep it in a religious sense”, “we only buy gifts for the children”, “we exchange gifts but don’t have a tree”, etc. (these are not exact quotes from the forum, but are representative of the apologetic nature of the actual postings).

     I asked myself, Why?  Are these folks still somehow laboring under the assumption that Christmas is somehow bad?  Was Herbert Armstrong so powerful, so persuasive, that he still has such power over people mentally, even years after they have escaped him physically?  Did he take the joy out of every aspect of life?  Does he still control us from the grave, even now that we know what a despicable piece of shit he really was?

     Maybe he does.

###

Christmas (Xmas, if it makes you more comfortable) is not bad.  Hanukkah is not bad.  Ramadan is not bad.  Groundhog Day is not bad.  All of these are just man-made holidays, and though bad things may sometimes happen during these days, they are no more evil than Flag Day or Pearl Harbor day (non-U.S. residents please supply your own secular equivalents).

I had to address these issues back in 92, and all it took for me (being one of simple mind and spirit) was thinking it all through in a logical manner.  I didn’t need to do any research, as I had done plenty of that over the years.  All I did was apply what I had learned (most of it accurate) and examine that under the microscope of common sense.  (For those of you still in one of the cults, this is called “leaning to your own understanding”.  Don’t try it at home, or you may not get to go to Petra.)

All my adult life I had hated Christmas.  We had observed it until I was thirteen, when my mother joined Worldwide Church of God.  After that we avoided it like the plague, literally.  Herbert Alarmstrong (“God is going to raise up a man who can raise a strong alarm!” — Gerrull Wateringhole) had decreed that God hated Christmas and that anyone who observed it was actually bowing down to idols.  A number of idols were named, chief among them being Molloch, an ancient god to whom infants were sacrificed by being burned alive.  We were told that Jeremiah 10 referred to the Christmas tree, and that a Christmas tree was a phallic symbol.  Any and all scriptures that condemned idol-worship could be used to condemn Christmas as well.

I had even given a sermonette on the subject (yes, I did give a few, though I was never ordained), in which I trashed Christmas thoroughly.  And every year as winter approached, I dreaded the season.  I dreaded the traffic and the music (most of it is rather annoying), and the parties and the attention I always generated by avoiding them.  Most of all I dreaded total strangers saying to me, “Merry Christmas!” with their big smiles and sincere wishes.  And the Christmas cards.  I dreaded it and I hated it.

And yet . . .

Somewhere, deep inside, there was a part of me that envied those people.  I didn’t admit it even to myself, but it was there.  A sort of warm feeling as I looked at the lights and gaily decorated trees.  I remembered Arkansas in 1952, when I was four — the snow and icicles, the overpowering smell of pine, the roaring log fire, the dazzling tinsel and glittering glass balls on the tree.  Sights and sounds and smells, the most powerful sensory experiences for a child.  I still remembered.

And one song, the most beautiful score ever written, always sent a chill down my spine, especially if performed instrumentally so I didn’t have to hear the lyrics.  That song was “Silent Night”.  To this day it gives me chills.

But it was a sin.  God hated it.  So I hated it, too.

Without it, winter was a long damn time.

And it seemed the whole damn world was wrapped up in it.  If you admitted to someone that you didn’t observe Christmas, they acted as if you had syphilis.  It made them edgy, uncomfortable, and some of them wanted very little to do with you afterward.

Oh well, we had been told to expect persecution, hadn’t we? 

###

The Christmas tree was a phallic symbol from ancient Babylon (even though the encyclopedia said it started with Martin Luther — what did Britannica know, anyway?).  The baby Jesus was actually Nimrod, the father of all idolatry.  Mary was really Semiramus, Nimrod’s harlot of a mother who later became his wife.  Joseph was not assigned to anyone that I can remember, so he must have just been a pimp.  Christmas had been celebrated in one form or another for over 4000 years, 2000 years before Jesus.  So it was a fraud, a phony, a counterfeit.  It had been called Saturnalia by the Romans and had a dozen other names as well.  The druids had celebrated it as the winter solstice.  It had only been assimilated into Christianity in 327 AD by the emperor Constantine, to appease his idol-worshipping converts who did not want to give up all their old celebrations.  It had nothing to do with Jesus.

Hell, Jesus wasn’t even born in the winter!

Historically, most of that is true.  Christmas really does not have anything to do with Jesus, yet it claims to be his birthday.  And what the hell does Santa Claus have to do with Jesus?  (Could it be . . . S-A-T-A-N !!! ???)

So we should not observe it.

Should we?

That was what I had always believed.

In 1992 I had to figure it all out.  Rethink it.  Make a decision.

And I did.

###

A few years earlier I had walked into the office one day and saw two of the ladies working on the Christmas tree.  One of them was actually on her knees, bending over, doing something underneath the tree.  In that snapshot of a moment she looked exactly like someone prostrating herself before an idol.  In a moment of uncharacteristic rudeness, I blurted out: “Bowing down?”  And walked on into the next room.

Well, that was uncalled for, but this particular lady was one of those offensive Christians who loved to needle me about my Saturday religion.  So she deserved it.  But it was still wrong of me to say what I did.

In 1992 I remembered that moment.  And it occurred to me that what she was doing was very different from bowing down to an idol.  She was decorating a tree, which is a secular — not a religious — symbol of Christmas.  In her mind she was not bowing down to any idol.  As obnoxious as she was, she was a fervent fundamentalist who would have never bowed down to any graven image.  You could have flayed off her skin and she would never have done it.  My statement had been grossly unfair, because what counted was what was in her heart. 

They always told us that, didn’t they?  Where your heart is, etc.  This lady’s heart was with her perception of the Lord, whatever that meant.  In her mind, by observing Christmas she was honoring her savior.  From a religious perspective, what was so wrong with that? 

And then it all came clear to me.  None of the Christians I knew, or had ever known, would ever bow down to an idol.  Having a Christmas tree and exchanging presents was not an anti-God activity.  Christmas has two faces — one is the baby Jesus theme, the other is purely secular (Santa Claus, etc.).  It can be observed either way.  The very fact that its origins were pagan actually meant that it was okay to observe Christmas, as long as it was observed in a secular way (in those days I had not yet come to understand that Christianity itself is bogus, so I was unable to connect the rest of the picture).  And for people who viewed it as the birthday of Christ, what was the harm in honoring him, even if it was not a holiday hallowed by the Bible?  Their hearts were in the right place, and the heart is the only thing that matters.

For me, it became very simple — Christmas is a national holiday in the United States.  I could observe it as a U.S. holiday at the very least, just as I observe Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Independence Day, or any other.  No difference. 

And that’s what we did.  In 1992 I had a Christmas tree for the first time since 1960.  I even put lights on my house.  But Christmas was not (and is not) a religious event.  It’s a nice holiday for the family, a time we spend together over special food and treats, a time to give presents.  Jesus is not in the equation, and neither is Nimrod. 

And neither is Herbert Armstrong. 

My advice to anyone who feels it is somehow wrong to observe any of these “pagan” holidays, or who observes them but feels guilty for doing so, is to ask yourself why.  Why does it bother you?  Is it because you were force-fed Armstrongism for so long that it became deeply embedded in your mind, an unconscious trigger that won’t allow you to enjoy normal life?  Or is it something else?  Only you can supply the answer, and only you can decide what (if anything) to do about it. 

It’s your life.  Do what you want to do, and enjoy it all you can.  Don’t let them control you any longer.

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Is celebrating holidays and exchanging gifts soundly condemned by the Churches of God as unbiblical? THINK AGAIN!