Disappointment, Part 1: Hypocrisy

Did you know that there is a group of Sabbath keeping Mormons?

Certainly, the Armstrongists do not have a lock on claiming to keep the Sabbath as a part of keeping the Ten Commandments as a part of keeping God’s Law. Certainly, there is the Church of God, Seventh Day — several of them, in fact — so many of them you might not be able to keep them straight. There is the Seventh Day Church of God, which not only keeps the Sabbath, but has kept the Holydays since 1919: They took notice of Gilbert G. Rupert early on — long before Herbert Armstrong was taught personally by Jesus Christ to keep them [the author hopes that those reading this have a finely honed sense of irony]. [In case you are wondering, and do not have access to the Herald of Truth, Paul Woods produces the Holyday Calendar for the Seventh Day Church of God presently.]¬†There are also those who actually don’t much deserve mention, such as the Seventh Day Baptists and the Seventh Day Adventists. In a totally illogical way, these two groups manage to keep the Sabbath (?) and Christmas and Easter — and to the Armstrongist mind, that’s just wrong.

One wonders with all the claims and counter claims of those keeping the Sabbath, and some of them managing to declare themselves holier than thou in spite of some nagging inconsistencies in their actual practices, just how deep the sincerity of committment might actually be? As one, myself, who lives on a good example of others, it certainly gives me pause to observe people coming into Sabbath services with an obviously fresh latte they just purchased at a drive through; it gives me pause to hear talk of their plans to eat out immediately after services and long before sunset, at Denny’s, Sherri’s or something even more upscale. There are those disturbing accounts in Ezra¬†and Nehemiah about¬†related commercial enterprises, after all.

Now mind you, Grace Communion International, A.K.A WCG, if only they could get the State of Washington to recognize their name change, corporately speaking,¬†really doesn’t have a problem. Any day and every day is good to worship the Lord and spend time with him. Last Sabbath, Larry Pate pointed out while giving a¬†sermon on I Thessalonians that we should have Jesus Christ as our Lord. It was his perspective that in the old Armstrongist Worldwide Church of God, it was far too often that the Law was our Lord, not Jesus Christ. Even if I don’t agree with the Grace Communion International, I have to admit that Mr. Pate has a point.

Nevertheless, this is not a discussion of religion, per se. It is not a discussion about theology. It is not a discussion, even about the¬†Sabbath, per se. This is about hypocrisy. Let me just say that the examples that I see among all the Churches of God — and not just the Armstrongist ones — is a tad disappointing. I don’t care myself if you keep the Sabbath or you don’t keep the Sabbath. My concern is about people who claim to keep God’s Law, the Ten Commandments and claim to keep the Sabbath, and, yet, offer irreconcilable contradictions in their practices.

I’m not the only one to wonder about this issue. Art Bradic and Dennis Fischer coauthored a book called “A Sabbath Test” where you can find over at the Eternal Church of God Website: http://www.eternalcog.org/ecgbooks/stdirectory.html¬†Their approach was just to lay out the case that we should not engage in commerce on the Sabbath by eating out on the Sabbath — if we’re going to keep the Sabbath, anyway. Their approach is something like: we’re comrades at arms, spiritual brothers — we’d like you to consider this. It¬†isn’t in the typical Armstrongist take-no-prisoners, you’re-headed-for-the-lake-of-fire, cut-off-from-God approach. But for all that, the reaction, particularly amongst the¬†ministers and leadership of all the major Armstrongist Churches of God is nothing short of¬†astonishing: Everyone of them is vehemantly opposed to¬†the Bradic / Fischer approach and have universally condemned them for their efforts. Dennis Fischer documents this fairly well over at his website: http://www.blowthetrumpet.org/HonoringGodsSabbath.htm¬†

There’s stiff opposition from United, Living, Restored and the Church of the Great God. John Rittenbaugh, Director of the Church of the Great God, declared that the¬†authors of A Sabbath Test were, at minimum, demon influenced, if not outright possessed,¬†making that conclusion without reading a single word of the text.

It was¬†just a few years back, three or four, I think, if I remember correctly, that Dennis Fischer told¬†me at Sabbath¬†services at the UCG in Redmond, Washington, that¬†many of the brethren were beginning to consider the questions brought forth in the booklet. At the time, he was good friends with Dennis Luker and often¬†gave¬†Bible Studies in his own home. The leadership in Cincinnati, as they do, set forth to study the issue. Usually, such commissions to the Council of Elders drags on for years, what with their¬†bureaucratic processes of governance and all, but this time, the retribution decision ¬†was as swift as it was decisive: Dennis Luker [the next president of the UCG, presently packing his bags]¬†had to tell Dennis Fischer that even though they were friends, well… you know…. Bible studies in Mr. Fischer’s home soon were dropped mysteriously from the UCG church schedule and finally, he moved away to Montana, to be in more direct contact with Art Braidic and the members of the Eternal Church of God there.

United, for sure, uses the ad hominum argument that Art Braidic has done something which would prevent them from allowing him to be a minister in the UCG. I would like to remind the UCG that they have some much more dirty laundry in their closet which I disclosed a while back and their performance was less than stellar. I paid the lawyer’s fees for the stalked couple and I sat in the courtroom after all. I really don’t think that¬†United has any cause to cast the first stone, so to speak, but, then that’s ancient history, as is the events which they recount in United concerning Mr. Braidic. If they’d like to use that as an excuse, then they probably don’t have much to say about the coauthor. What a bunch of hypocrites.

But there’s more.

There wasn’t just opposition. There were excuses. Can you imagine how many excuses the Armstrongist Churches of God could possibly give for breaking the Sabbath by eating out in a Restaurant? Would you say 5? 10? 20? 25? Nope. Thirty excuses. As my friend Wally Hensen in the Seventh Day Church of God says, “If you need an excuse, any one will do”.

I am well known for being that take-no-prisoners, in-your-face approach to hypocrisy. I’d probably be fighting along side the Maccabeean brothers. If you remember, the last thing I said to the Armstrongists, particularly to the UCG, was: judgment, if any, awaits. I figure that after all of those years of being yelled at as being evil and wicked and made to sing Psalm 51 year after year at the “Passover”, while considering that great and perfect stellar¬†example of the ministry and the Armstrong lead Worldwide Church of God — and the even worse judgmental Radio Church of God — it is high time that the Armstrongists get a taste of their own medicine, particularly since they seem caught up in their own self-righteous narcissistic universe. It is something they long richly deserved.

On the other hand, is the kindness and gentle, if not genteel, loving approach of Art Braidic. He just wants his brothers in the church and ministry to have the blessings of God.

I plan to see Art Braidic this September in Montana. I might even consider singing The Holy City again at the Feast after a four year hiatus from the Red Lodge site. And I have a question for him — albeit a rhetorical one: Just which approach has worked with the leadership and ministry of the major Armstrongist churches of God — mine or his? We all now know the answer, but it will be fun to ask just the same.

Speaking of the Feast, has anyone considered that $832+ and on up to $1,552¬†cruise out of Seattle to Alaska, offered by the Church of God, Big Sandy? They meet the first two days of the Feast of Tabernacles at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle. On Friday afternoon, they board the Holland America Cruise Lines ship, the M.S. Zaandam, arriving at their first port of call in Juneau, Alaska that following Sunday. Services will be from 8 to 9 AM daily except for Wednesday, September 29th, when services are not planned. The Last Great Day will aboard ship as they arrive in the evening in Victoria, B.C. Canada. Sounds fun. Not too much religion at one hour per day — but it is awfully early. And on the Sabbath and the Holy Day, the manservants and maidservants of the Holland America Cruise Lines will be at your beck and call to cook up and serve you anything you want.¬†Even if you choose buffet, the Captain and First Mate are¬†in the wheel house on the Sabbath and Last Great Day, sailing the ship.¬†The Church of God, Big Sandy, as you recall is one of the 40+ churches split away from United, and the CoG, BS is growing a lot faster and have a lot of fun programs (like the Boy Scouts) for participating members. One wonders if Ezra and Nehemiah are rolling over in their graves.

The CoG, BS cruise is reminisent of the single’s¬†United Cruise down to Mexico. On the Sabbath, the ship was in port. Most of the members went out on the beach to go parasailing, while the minister hid on board ship. I’m guessing that the UCG has to keep the fun stuff for the 20 somethings to keep them interested, keeping the Sabbath be damned. …and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.¬†Or maybe United is a bit closer to the Grace Communion International folks than we would have surmised. Given United’s recent woes,¬†the time may be ripe for some sort of corporate merger — if only the Chairman of the Board can somehow be persuaded to embrace¬†less conservative values.¬†

Beware of the leaven and all that. Like so many corporate sociopaths, they’d like you to accept what you are told and go your way. I have for the past 2+ years [and had great peace, finally walking away from the Armstrongist cultists], but every once in awhile it’s good for folks to have a reality check again — particularly with people we all know are about as far from reality as their high concepts can take them. They can hearken back to Herbert Armstrong, but I’ve had side conversations with his personal chef awhile back and as sure as death, taxes, revenge and the fury of a woman scorned, cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone can claim to be keeping the Sabbath while demanding that his man servant cook something up for him on the Sabbath because he has a hankering for some food morsel or other. Perhaps, someone should do an investigation of what ever happened to that peacock on the AC campus. Delicious, was it? Cooked on the Sabbath? We wouldn’t wonder.

Meantime, I’m just as puzzled as ever: The claims about keeping the Sabbath make no sense at all — the behavior and bad example confuse me. The excuses anger me. If you’re going to keep it, keep it; if not, just give up making any claims about it.

I just had a thought: I wonder if I could find some Sabbath keeping Scientologists to visit. It makes about as much sense.

Next week: Disappointment, Part 2: Stench.

Welcome to the Painful Truth Blog

I have chosen to host this blog on my server due to what seems to be the unreliable service that google gives. A simple software issue took down all my accounts rendering the former blog,¬† e-mail account and what I was doing at the time, (setting up a new YouTube account) along with disabling my account for a day. I don’t appreciate that fine treatment!

Anyway, I invite everyone to grab a “Gravatar” (the link is at the upper right of this page) as a way to identify yourself. Easy to make and better yet, it’s free.

For the month of June we had Dick Armstrong as guest of the former blog. He had wrote me mid-month that he was going to post some more as time allowed.  I was hoping for a fresh post on the 28th due to him signing in and saving a draft without text.  Perhaps another day.

On another note, if you try to post a comment to one of the former posting before the month of July, it will not show up. I was able to import the former blog postings of the editors, but the comments did not import. Hence I supplied a link to those comments.

In a few days we will have another guest editor. I hope you like what we have come up with here and if you have any suggestions feel free to post them here.

Later this summer we will have some other interesting guests! Stay tuned!

Dick Armstrong drops by….

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My name is Richard D. Armstrong II, most people who were in the W.W.C.G. knew me as a youngster as “Dicky”. I’ve been called Richard, Rick or Dick for more than 30 years now and it amazes me how time has flown by. I began looking for ways to reconnect with classmates of mine from Big Sandy Texas recently and ran across this blog and found some interesting things here. After writing the editor James, I decided I’d contribute some things when I have time – I’m very busy working now, driving for Swift Transportation. I’m able to get online several times a week, though sometimes only for a limited time.
I would just start by saying that I have had many great opportunities in my life and many of my occupational endeavors have kept me busy day to day, but some have offered me plenty of time for reflection on my life. I lived in the Chetco, Illinois and Wild Rogue River wildernesses of Southern Oregon for many years in the early 1980s, working as a Forest Service caretaker at a historical guard station built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. in the 1930s, I also worked in the same area at McCaleb Ranch. During these times I was able to form myself as a young adult and decided who I was and what I wanted to be in life. In 1985 I reunited with my grandfather Herbert W. Armstrong and was blessed to spend much of the last year of his life with him, living with him for a time at the Ambassador College Pasadena campus. I attended college there in 1985 and left after his death in 1986.
I have many great fond memories of the church and the people I knew and grew up with. When I look back on my memories of the Church, Imperial School and Ambassador College, I’m reminded of how blessed we all were to have the fellowship we shared. The tumultuous things that have transpired over the years since the late 1970s and especially since my grandfathers death in 1986 are sad and it’s a shame that the Church organization was not able to continue into the future with the same goodwill and co-operation that was the hallmark of the Church and it’s people from inception until the breakup and selling off of the Church and it’s holdings. I think there may be a time and place to write about some of the really bad things that have transpired within the Church over time – I have personally been affected by things like Stanley Rader influencing my grandfather into terrible decisions, also the much publicized personal turmoil of my uncle Garner Ted, the accusations of abuse by grandpa by my late Aunt Dorothy, the receivership by the state of California in the late 70s, also – perhaps most disappointing to me – the way the Church was handled by those who took over after my grandfathers death in 1986. However, one thing I have been able to do with my adult life, is to not dwell on negative things any longer than is beneficially necessary. Sadly, I know many people who have been hurt and have not been able to pick up and move forward. I have had to work hard my whole life and I’m still working on my own personal dreams and goals. My purpose in writing here is to share what has been a wonderful upbringing and life within the church from my birth in 1958 until the day I left my job at the college library in Pasadena in 1979 and moved to Oregon to “find out who I was” and make a life for myself and my family. I too have been close to the negativity and harm that has happened within the Church and it’s affiliated organizations – the reason I left my job at the college library in Pasadena that early summer day in 1979 was that people there were constantly trying to talk to me about “what was going on” and some were trying to convince me that my own Mother was complicit in a plot to overthrow my grandfather and put Garner Ted at the helm of the Church – NOT TRUE and I knew better. My family is very loving and supportive of each other – for the most part. In any case, I would be glad to relate these things I experienced at some point – but for the most part, I have great memories I’d like to share of happier times and that will be the purpose of my writing here. I am not ignorant of the negative things that transpired within the Church and it’s affiliations, yet there were so many fine things to recall and that is what I’d like to share with people. Lots of water has gone under the bridge, so I am choosing to recall the good things, I’ll let God sort out the bad things as I don’t feel it’s my job to focus on the negative black hole that so many people get caught in.
My intent in writing here is to share memories with any interested readers of what it was like to grow up in the thick of the Worldwide Church of God, Imperial Schools and Ambassador College. My memories are of wonderful people, wonderful gatherings, people working together and helping each other. I will share with you how lucky I feel to have experienced growing up on the campus in Bricket Wood England, then Big Sandy Texas and eventually Pasadena California. I was blessed to be part of the Church and it’s workings during a wonderful period of time and my memories are 99% great memories.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of growing up at my grandfather Armstrong’s home in Bricket Wood England, then eventually living in the cottage next door to the Raymond McNair family after my Mom remarried to Ben Chapman. My Mom has related to me how she basically “blacked out” upon the death of my father, after they had a very special and almost “fairy tale” relationship. It is understandable that this would devastate anyone – and it was especially hard on my Mom who was a new mother with a 6 month old baby. My grandfather suggested to her that it would be best if she got a new start in Bricket Wood and we were moved there and initially lived with Grandpa Armstrong at his home. As my Mom got involved with the Church and College there, I had allot of babysitters from the college (college students) and I remember very much of these experiences from ages as early as age 2. I distinctly remember being pulled through the snow in a cardboard box my Mom had rigged up with rope, so she could run through the snow, pulling me behind her – of course I thought life could not get any better than that! I also vividly remember being looked after by Andrew Silcox and his father, who was the groundskeeper in Bricket Wood. I’m sure that like any young boy with a tricycle and a ton of energy, I must have been a real pest – though Mr. Silcox always seemed to love having me around. He would give me “missions” to go on – “Dicky, take your tricycle out and get me as many worms as you can find!”. I was so happy to go digging around the rich English soil and come back with a trunk (my tricycle had a trunk on it) full of night crawlers. I also have fond memories of my grandpa telling me he had gotten 2 shetland ponies that I could ride and at a very early age I was out riding with Andrew Silcox who was so good to me – we had an absolute storybook good time, out riding the English countryside looking for lost swords and treasure – how could a kid forget wonderful things like that? I certainly remember more than I have time to write about here, but my early life in Bricket Wood was very special and I’ve talked to my Mom many times about the things we did – she has been amazed that I remember that far back and I’ve reminded her of many things that she had forgotten. I remember playing with Ruth and Bruce Mcnair at the cottage next door – so great to have kids to play with from the church. I also remember that the McNairs had taken a trip to the English countryside and somehow ended up bringing back a wild goat, then tying it up in the back yard. One day – I think after a day at Church, they returned home to find their back yard very much re-arranged by the goat and I’m pretty sure they ate it after that, but I’d have to ask Raymond about the particulars – he might not want to admit to whatever the goats fate was – HA! I also remember every day of a car tour we took as a family in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in a Jaguar my dad Ben Chapman had purchased. Along with the spectacular scenery we saw, I remember Mom and Dad kicking me out of the back seat where I slept, when their air mattress gave way on a rainy English night. I remember being very frightened for my Moms safety as she made her way along slippery rock steps at a waterfall in Wales. We camped at Loch Ness and drove through the mountains in Scotland – I remember seeing it all like it was yesterday.
There came a point where my Grandpa thought dad (Ben Chapman) would be a good fit for the campus in Big Sandy Texas, so we packed up and boarded the S.S. United States for an Atlantic Crossing. The story has been told to me, that grandpa would have had the presidential suite, but the President happened to be on board for this trip – this is true, Dwight D. Eisenhower was on this crossing and I remember seeing him. I also remember the theatre on board, where we watched a Johnny Weismueller Tarzan film, also I recall dad tossing me into the water (sink or swim) in the Olympic pool. What a ship this S.S. United States was – the ring toss on board was very cool too – I remember stopping from the ring toss game and just staring out at all that water – it seemed so magical and so infinite. As we approached the New York Harbor, grandpa Armstrong got me out of bed early to see the sun rise on the statue of Liberty – I will never forget him telling me the story of Lady Liberty and what that meant to Americans. After a trip through Immigration, we were in an apartment in New York City for a time, then we drove the Jaguar across the U.S. to Big Sandy where we set up camp in a home that was still being worked on. I will write more later, picking up there when I have time next. Best Wishes to you all and I’d love to reconnect with anyone who I knew from the Church, College or Schools.
Posted by Dick Armstrong at 6/01/2010 07:07:00 PM