Herbert Armstrong was so sure that he could violate the laws of the universe: He believed that of the increase of his empire there would be no end.
His empire ended. He never counted on entropy. He never counted on the Arrow of Time. He never paid attention to Doctor Who: “Everything dies.” Herbert Armstrong died. So did his empire.
Energy and the Arrow of Time
The amount of energy and matter in the universe is constant; that is to say, that the total of energy and matter of the universe never changes. There is a balance and matter can be transformed into energy under certain circumstances and a lot of energy can be transformed into small amounts of matter as well. An example of matter being transformed into energy is the atomic bomb, where a small amount of matter is changed into a large amount of energy… and the matter thus transformed does not exist any more.
The arrow of time is a principle of the universe where things change over time, but there is no going back. For example, drop an egg on the floor, it cracks open and leaves a slimy mess with pieces of shell lying there. There does not seem to be a circumstance where a broken egg joins back together and rises from whence it has fallen. This is the result of entropy.
Entropy is described as an interpretation of disorder and / or randomness. What happens is that at the highest level, energy can be used to produce results, but after that happens, the energy becomes less available for use.
From the Sun to Ashes
The sun is a star created from thermonuclear fusion, binding hydrogen ions into helium. This fusion produces energy in the form of radiation, some of which is photons, known as light. The helium nuclei are reduced back to hydrogen ions, but with a loss, since some of the matter became energy. Thus, there is entropy. Over time, as the sun grows billions of years older, the core of the sun becomes predominantly helium and will become a red giant. As it does, it will expand in size out to around the orbit of Mars, completely destroying the earth in nuclear fire.
Once the light leaves the sun, it travels 93 million or so miles to earth in about 8 minutes or so. The photons of light represent energy, but less available energy than when they were created in the sun. The light strikes the earth, and growing there are little seeds from trees. The seeds with their own starter package of energy, put forth roots to absorb nutrients and water from the soil, while pushing sprouts upward above the soil. The light strikes the shoots and the chlorophyll processes the light through photosynthesis to transform the nutrients into the building blocks of the growing sapling. This process continues until the sapling becomes a tree. At each step, the energy used is still there but it is less and less available for producing ‘work’.
The saplings grow into trees and the trees into forests.
But then, someone comes to cut down the tree.
Now the trees are processed into wood. While it is true that the wood can be processed into many useful things, such as paper, furniture, boardwalks, houses and even fuel for a fireplace, the pieces of wood will never again be a whole growing tree.
It’s winter time. The leaves have fallen from the deciduous trees, the weather turns cold, the land lays fallow, but the humans bask in the glow and warmth of the sun… which was transformed from photons to logs of wood, reducing the amount of available energy at each step through entropy. The family goes to bed, the fire burns to embers and finally goes out. What’s left is ashes.
While it is true that you can talk people into believing things that are not true, no one can talk the universe out of anything. To get what you want, you have to follow it’s rules and laws and it takes it’s own tithe in entropy. You can cheat people. You cannot cheat the universe. If you try, the universe will not care, neither will it cooperate. You get what you get and if you try to cheat, you may very well die for trying to cheat.
Reducing Entropy Locally
While entropy proceeds locally, it is possible to ‘game’ the system, so to speak, by reducing entropy by taking energy from somewhere else. This will make energy not heretofore available present for processing. Let’s choose to illustrate this in a social context.
In his day, Herbert Armstrong was a con man who convinced people to reduce his financial ‘entropy’ which left him poor and impoverished as he spendthrifted his way through — eventually — billions of dollars in his life time. He did this by lying to people. The people were convinced by his foolish narratives and gave him money — which is a social potential energy to produce work. He did this through the social media of his day, newspapers, books and booklets, followed by radio, finally television and from the ministry he produced, the Internet. People, you see, are a vast source of untapped reserves, if you have enough of them and you can persuade them that you can give them something they want. It is particularly effective if you can promise something for nothing… after all, salvation is the Gift of God and all you have to do is give your cult leader guru all you money, time and adoration. The cult members following you will provide you with baskets of money… for a very long time.
Of course, it is well to pace yourself and not increase entropy too rapidly because once you use up your monetary energy reserves, they become quite unavailable to you.
Herbert Armstrong was a flaming liberal in practice. Oh, sure, he held and promoted the trappings of a conservative, but in reality — and internally — he really wasn’t a conservatives. Conservatives, for example, don’t commit incest with their daughter for a decade and see nothing quite wrong in it. That’s what liberals do. Consider the #MeToo movement where Harvey Weinstein was held in such high esteem by liberals, such as Oprah Winfrey. “He’s a god,” a liberal actress said at an Academy Awards ceremony. The truth lay elsewhere.
The liberals, leftists, globalists, feminists these days engage in a tremendous amount of self-righteousness, proclaiming that they care about others, but do some of the most heinous things behind the scenes. They call for moral panic because some poor ‘minority’ like the 1.8 billion Muslims representing some 24% of the world population, are being discriminated against — they need to immigrate to more prosperous countries. Or consider the plight of the poor refugees invading the southern border of the United States: Anyone who would dare try to process immigrants in an orderly manner is racist! In the United Kingdom, if you don’t agree with the school system teaching that boys can have menstrual periods, you are sexist! Women are being underpaid! White men benefit from paternalistic privilege! If you don’t believe in Marxist socialism / communism, you are a bad person — you are evil — and you must be destroyed!
Even though Herbert Armstrong was sexist, racist, homophobic and mostly Islamophobic, he certainly was a globalist, believing that we should have one world government, not unlike George Soros, but with a slightly different focus, with certainly a different despot controlling everything. Nevertheless, Herbert Armstrong saw himself as an elite who was at the top of the food chain. He also induced moral panic at every opportunity: The Catholics are bad! Christmas is evil! Satan rules the world! He positioned himself as being a patriot, but behind the scenes, he was treasonous, wanting, calling for and prognosticating the fall of the United States. He was also liberal with the money he received. He had gold and silver. He collected art. He had the best other people’s money could buy. He was the very picture of what Margaret Thatcher said, “Socialism is wonderful until you run out of other people’s money”. He collected other people’s money and lived off of it and gave it to his ‘friends’ and family. He was lavish to buy little gifts of Steuben crystal to give away to despots. His inner core was that of a liberal. It’s just that we were too stupid to see it.
The ‘ministers’ he trained not only bought into his moral panic and his virtue signalling — claiming that the Church of God was good and everyone else was evil — but they also bought into the idea that being liberal and lying were conservative values. He wanted to conserve his wealth and the adoration of his followers, but beyond that, he was quite the selfish psychopath.
What cult leaders over the millennia have known intuitively is that the best way to reduce your entropy locally is to create a substantial following. The place to start is to create a convincing narrative. It needs to be something quite different from the norm. If it is not, it will have too much competition to leverage the narrative into cash and narcissistic source. It has to be strange, different and a little bit weird. Herbert Armstrong created narratives that influenced people to say, “I never thought of that!”
From the narrative, an echo chamber must be constructed: This is a social group who holds the narrative and which has boundaries constructed as defenses to prevent sanity from leaking in. For Herbert Armstrong, the narrative was British Israelism. It isn’t true and was never a ‘thing’, but Herbert Armstrong made it convincing. The narratives he constructed built the walls from lies, deceits, convoluted thinking, inappropriate analogies, distorted perceptions, ad hoc, propter hoc and appeal to authority twisted in unusual irrational ways. Once the defenses were in, the people of his Radio Church of God group were able to counter any attacks on their belief system with ready made answers. This put his followers who had all his made up answers in a perfect position to proselytize others they encountered.
It all looked good as long as no one found those nagging little contradictions which would cause the superstructure of the narrative to collapse. Find the wrong premise and the whole thing falls apart.
As an aside, it’s fascinating to watch A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. L. Ron Hubbard created a ‘religion’ from science fiction, much the same way Herbert Armstrong created his cult from British Israelism. The correlations are eerie to say the least. In the series, for example, quite a lot of abuse is revealed, including any number of pedophiles prominent in the religion. One episode concentrated on the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have a severe problem, just as the Armstrongist churches of god do. The authoritarianism, the coverups are all of the same fabric. Strange incompatible belief systems are held together artificially, such as The Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan, Senior, who insists his followers must engage with Scientology or be cut off from his cult. It was shown that the teachings of the two cults are quite incompatible, but through compartmentalization and the use of the echo chamber, the two diverse systems are held in one group.
The short Bible: Genesis, Song of Solomon, Revelation, Exodus
Too many people are trapped for too long a time in echo chambers of narratives. The best way to insure that a cult holds together it to absolutely insure that there is a force to keep the group from drifting. Doctrines are set in stone. Only the leader(s) can change anything. Anyone who disagrees for any reason is penalized.
Unfortunately, leaders die and with social media as it is today, it’s getting harder and harder to keep a set belief system in place. It shouldn’t be surprising that those of us in the Worldwide Church of God who sat next to each other in the congregation for decades had no idea the person next to them absolutely did not believe the same things — not even close. It may be surprising but it came out that some of the people in the cogs believed that the earth is flat. When people know that they cannot actually express their beliefs and truth is suppressed, this is what happens: When the light is let in, the system collapses because it was always rotten at the core. Cult leaders have very poor judgment because they don’t listen, they won’t accept correction and they don’t seek correction. What happens is that they are wrong and there is no mechanism to ever confront them to believe otherwise.
If something is wrong, it will not work. People work a long time under delusions and can’t figure out why what they are doing is not working. It’s the old con game that if it isn’t working now, you just have to put more resources into it… therefore, the gamblers keep losing money and keep on gambling because, assuredly, eventually, they will get that last big payout. They know nothing of entropy. The universe doesn’t work that way. Try it and you’ll get entropy. Busted!
When people catch on, they are often able to start their own counter movement. Once that happens, things can happen very rapidly. For the poor schmuck just enlightened it becomes absolute free fall:
Such a person has used up resources for a very long time. Landing will not be pleasant. There are consequences.
The Long Decline
Here we are. Herbert Armstrong is dead. Garner Ted Armstrong is dead. Roderick Meredith is dead. ‘Doctor’ Hoeh is dead. The third wave feminist evangelist — whose son was gay and abandoned his wife and children to move in with his boyfriend in a city were many gay YouTubers have gathered– is now also dead.
The Journal editor and ‘journalist’, Dixon Cartwright has retired. No longer will we be privileged to see him put a positive spin on rubbish. He did reveal that he didn’t believe that British Israelism wasn’t true — and therefore none of Herbert Armstrong’s ideas were true either, particularly prophecies — but insisted that we needed the Armstrongist churches of god to “keep us together”. That is quite the ironic idea, since Big Sandy Texas, where he lives, had no fewer than 10 Armstrongist churches of God, something of a record for a little town in Texas with around 1,300 people. If his idea were to keep the churches of god together, one would surmise that they’d all put aside their differences and there would be only one Armstrongist congregation in the area. Of course, entropy doesn’t work like that and the proof is in the disintegration of the cult congregations: Split after split after split until Armstrongism becomes less and less available. [Note to Dixon Cartwright: None of us here at the Painful Truth editorial staff are public figures and some of us do represent oppressed minorities. A word to the wise should be sufficient, although we’re not sure that applies here.]
Gavin Rumney has passed and there have not been any updates to his Ambassador Watch blog for quite some time.
The consensus is that David Pack now has fewer than 1,000 members in his Restored Church of God. Gerald Flurry is holding his own in the so-called Philadelphia Church of God, involved as it were, in Irish Dancing, to support his family members with contributor’s money. All that debt for the Oklahoma campus is troubling. We don’t even hear much from Mike DDTF coverage of Ronald Weinland and the CoG-PKG since Weinland’s return from prison for Income Tax evasion.
Banned! seems to have less and less recent coverage of the various cult of god cultmeisters.
Everywhere you look, there’s less and less and less.
This is not to say that United isn’t still having their Christmas get-togethers. They are. Those non Feast of Tabernacles feasts are still popular and celebrated (as of 2018, anyway) with much less enthusiasm for the actual Biblical ‘style’ feasts. United still has British Israelism tucked away, but thanks to their efforts here and a few other places, they’ve been reduced to promoting the silly idea of some Jewish nut in Israel that claims that epigenetics has some how transmogrified Jewish DNA to that of Western Europeans. It’s impossible, of course. Biology doesn’t work that way, but that’s all they have. When you have an outrageous lie as the foundation of your cult, you must hang on to it for all you’re worth.
United has been absorbing other smaller groups lately, but the income over last year is still 7% lower. Speaking of entropy, this is like giving a patient a transfusion from one arm to the other losing 50% of the blood in the process.
It does appear that CoGWA is taking on some members as they drift away from such luminary encampments as the Living Church of God in a time tested, time honored practice of sheep stealing.
The Good News is long gone. Is that symbolic?
The Plain Truth is long gone. So is the Worldwide Church of God.
The assets of the Ambassador College library in Big Sandy, Texas are being auctioned off.
Over all, most of the enclaves of Armstrongism are deteriorating and it would be surprising if many of them have more that 500 people — more like 50 in most cases. It’s hard to tell since no one pays much attention to them any more. Most people have moved on.
Note that it isn’t just Armstrongism in decline. Since the mid 1990s, there has been a general exodus from the other churches of god. The Seventh Day Church of God in Caldwell, Idaho, had all of their teens leave the church when they reached their majority. There was a new crop of youngsters coming up and the wife of the minister prepared materials and presentations for them for the Feast of Tabernacles in Fruitland, Washington to teach them about creationism and attempt to debunk evolution. Perhaps that has worked, but it’s doubtful. It’s likely that the older teens will look around and discover the world isn’t what they were taught it was and leave.
The Church of God Seventh Day has been suffering a marked decline in the United States. The most notable is the congregation which went from about 80 each Sabbath to three… on the Sabbath of the potluck… if they are lucky. One of the thing that has happened to the Church of God Seventh Day is Armstrongists. The Armstrongists come into a CoG7 congregation pretending to be a part of the group. It isn’t very long that they get on to the local church board. The next thing you know, they move away from the CoG7 and even take the properties with them. The Church of God Seventh Day finally learned their lesson and set up the Corporate Sole for their properties so they couldn’t be taken away from them. Nevertheless, entropy has set in and the missionary work seems to have declined. The standing inside joke is that the CoG7 in Mexico needs to start sending missionaries to the United States.
There was also a time when Victor Kubik was sweet talking the Ukrainians in the Portland, Oregon Church of God Seventh Day into joining up with United for the Feasts. The CoG7 congregation there is made up of at least three distinct groups including the Ukrainians, Mexicans and others. If discord can be introduced by an outside force, entropy can be used to wolf off the sheep from the congregation. Good luck with that, Vic.
It’s all downhill from there.
It’s still worse for the Armstrongists. For many of the other Sabbath keeping churches of god, there are church buildings around which members in a local area can focus themselves within their group. Since Herbert Armstrong wanted everything for himself and never trusted anyone, he established a monolithic hierarchy with a ‘headquarters’ which in some quarters is now known as ‘the home office’. It’s more profitable for those at the top of the hierarchy to gather all assets into one area they can control. The downside of that is that when you lose it, you lose it all at once. This was true of Ambassador College in Pasadena. It was there in all its glory until the day it wasn’t. With no local church buildings, the entropy increased more rapidly than it would have if there had been local assets.
The wolves don’t care. They made off with the proceeds of their inherited cash cow. Everyone else suffered the loss and there’s no way to get it back: The past glories are not available any longer — the very definition of entropy.
At least with local church buildings, other Sabbath keeping churches of god will decline more slowly, but then, Herbert Armstrong was never in it for the long term, was he? It was all doomed to fail from the start.
There is this theory of Christianity that a person repents, is baptized and receives the Holy Spirit. At this time, the Christian is a ‘new’ person, with Jesus Christ living withing, or at least his mind and spirit: “Let this mind be in you,” said one claiming to be the Apostle Paul. Indeed, there are those in the Christian community that relate experiences of others who, at one time, smoked, swore and were generally horrible persons. After the altar call and accepting Jesus as their savior, people around them began to notice that they didn’t smoke any more and they stopped swearing. This was accompanied by other changes and people saw them as being ‘different’ better people. Yet, the ‘converted’ didn’t really think about it and some of it was a surprise to them. They weren’t putting in a lot of effort; they weren’t struggling; they simply seemed to be different better people.
This was never the pattern in the Armstrongist churches of god. Oh, a few people were true believers and did make significant changes, but generally the changes were preceded with a great deal of effort, accompanied by fasting, prayer and meditation, with a great deal of concentration of changing as much as possible through the white knuckle process. Herbert Armstrong himself did stop smoking, but he was wrong about repentance. His silly idea was that repentance meant that people needed to change who they are. He didn’t seem to notice Hebrews 6:1-2 where the Scripture mentioned “repentance from dead works”. The Bible itself didn’t seem to ever posit the idea that repentance was repenting from yourself — a rather impossible idea.
Thus it was that boozing alcoholics remained boozing alcoholics and that particular problem was aggravated by the peer pressure of Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, the ministers and members who had never repented from the dead works of alcoholism and counted boozing alcoholism as ‘manly’ — an obsession of being ultra masculine by a perverted administration from the top down. Instead of creating an environment for a Christian who was new from the inside out, there was a concerted effort to change people from the outside in: You, as a ‘member’ had to struggle daily to do all the physical stuff like, tithing, Feast and Sabbath Keeping and watching yourself so you didn’t eat unclean meat, because, as we all know, the Kingdom of God is all about eating and drinking — especially drinking.
This was sort of a built in accelerant to induce entropy. Instead of increasing morality and ethics, ignoring what one might consider ‘spiritual’ was supplanted with physical rituals which was some how supposed to make one spiritual, notwithstanding that it never worked that way for ancient Israel in whom there was no faith.
So beyond the physical deterioration over time through entropy, there was also a ‘spiritual’ decline of morality. People in the Worldwide Church of God actually became worse over time. Oh, there may have been the initial flush of energy to ‘overcome’, but over time the cracks and lapses began to appear until no one seemed to know right from wrong, least of all the ministry.
This handily explains why today there are so many reports of pedophilia of members and ministers of the churches of god. It was actually excused and covered up in the Worldwide Church. No one seemed to notice that of all the offenses within the prison community of felons, the lowest of the low were the pedophiles. If Herbert Armstrong were convicted of his incest, he would have died in prison. The inmates would have seen to it.
The members of the churches of god have been so contaminated with tolerance of outrageous behavior that they hold the ministry in honor and respect, even though, well, they are some of the most perverse of people in society. Yes, people may know about the minister who committed adultery on his wife while she was dying of cancer. After all, he was the conduit through which they would become royalty in the Kingdom of God. Sure, Jesus was accounted to be a glutinous winebibber by the Pharisees, but no one seemed to notice that Herbert Armstrong was a morbidly obese boozing alcoholic. Isn’t compartmentalization and cognizant dissonance wonderful?
This sort of moral entropy is accompanied by blindness: The ironic lack of self-awareness. People don’t seem to realize how badly they’ve declined and how much evil they tolerate. It’s unfortunate that they probably won’t be able to achieve any sort of morals or ethics that they used to have, if they had any. No one has heard sermons on ethics nor seen any booklets on the topic. When you are as corrupt as the Armstrongist churches of god, it becomes wasted effort.
Those of us who observe those prepossessed of cult thinking in their echo chambers of narratives have wised up to the practices of the liberals with their obsessive distorted perceptions. Hillary Clinton is a fine example of this with her clueless tour of excuses for losing the 2016 Presidential election. She’s perfectly self-unaware in her boozing alcoholism that she’s done anything wrong to lose, like calling a large segment of the American voters deplorables and ignoring making a campaign tour in key states. She blames everyone else but herself. More than that, she makes stuff up. If you can’t win, the plan is to redefine terms so that words and phrases no longer are an obstacle to success: Just redefine the words to mean the opposite of what they mean and suddenly, you’re a winner.
A good example of this is to call women voters, particularly white ones, who voted sexist, blaming the women for not voting for her because their husbands and boyfriends (perish the thought that their lesbian Republican girlfriends should have persuaded them) made them vote for Donald Trump. Likewise, if you are a ‘person of color’ and lose an election (even if the election official cheated for you in counting the votes), you accuse everyone who voted for someone else to be ‘racist’. This is true even if you are still white and named yourself “Beto O’Rourke” to make it seem like you are a Mexican candidate even though your name is officially Robert Francis O’Rourke and you’re about as Irish as you can get.
No, if you can’t bear up to the facts, just make stuff up. Moreover, don’t just make stuff up, redefine terms. Herbert Armstrong did this a lot. Of our favorites is the redefinition of Christian to preclude those of the Catholic Church and Protestants as “protesting daughters of the Great Whore”. See — you can win just by redefining terms and injecting a measure of moral panic for good measure.
This is particularly true today with the topic of British Israelism. We’ve proved it not just wrong, but impossible rubbish as a made up out of whole cloth insane nonsense. This not only works for Armstrongism, but for the Mormons as well: The American Indian (now an insult to both Native Americans and those from India) is not a descendant of Israel. No, that’s just made up. It isn’t just DNA that disproves the proposition. There are other ‘disproofs’. The DNA evidence is only one factor providing the evidence.
But today, evidence isn’t what it used to be. A black man said recently that “videos are not evidence”. He had lost the argument, so he lied. Videos are evidence and they’ve been used in court for many years as evidence — a good thing too, since innocent people would have been sent to prison for years if it weren’t for good citizens with all those cameras in their smart phones taking videos, proving that the defendant was really the victim.
Frustrated and angry, those opposing the truth and the evidence supporting it resort to crazy rants that devolve into incoherence (often self-contradictory). The following is a fine example. Do not try to make sense of it. It is an example of the research of Justin Kruger and David Dunning , yet another whose connections across the corpus callosum have withered and died:
Your claim scientific DNA analysis doesn’t concur with that of the “modern” Jews as having the same ancestor is not only rock solid truth but, the fact that you have no idea what you’re talking about when stating it makes you sound obtuse. British Israelism claims that the modern Jew is a fusion from ancient Khazars and other Turkish lines of DNA and not related to Adam, but their furthest traced patriarch is Cain. Thus you proved their point. Pull your pants up, your down syndrome is showing.
And finally, speaking of consequences
Finally, we come to today — looking ahead. Where we are today is the place where the cult leaders of Armstrongism are on the trailing edge of the effects of entropy. There’s no more energy. The leaders don’t have access to outside venues to rob the energy from somewhere else to reduce the entropy. It’s like what Margaret Thatcher said about socialism (it bears repeating): Socialism is a wonderful system as long as you don’t run out of other people’s money. The universe is not going to let the Armstrongists cheat.
Because where they are today and on into the future, is that they are trying to burn the ashes.
There’s really nothing left. It’s time to move on.