Lilies of the Fall


New note added 2/26/11

In the event someone I know from my early years, maybe an AC friend, happens to go back to read my posts here, I wanted to say a cheerful “Hello” and encourage you to make contact, if my entries here are not too upsetting.  I’m also on facebook, so go there if you prefer.

Now the original post:


Does this fit under “legalism?”

This being my final post as guest editor for February, I thought I’d have a little more fun with words and meanings before concluding with a few sincere personal thoughts.

No, I’m sure the above heading doesn’t strictly relate to the term legalism as typically used, but I thought I’d toss it out there. The reason the odd header came to mind goes back to 1963 and my introduction to the way the RCG treated words. It was a cavalier approach to the words others had written and a kind of abuse of copyright. This is probably why I see it as bordering on the legal field.

When I began attending church services, I suddenly had to learn to sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic with a change in lyrics. This was merely the first time I noticed the fix-the-words phenomenon within the true church (I speak as a fool), but it instructs me more today in retrospect. Almost as jarring to a person who loved singing and had spent some early childhood time learning lots of songs while going to Baptist and Nazarene church services, was the change applied to Onward Christian Soldiers. In the CoG, we had to sing “With the word of Jesus …” in place of the originally written “…cross of Jesus” because it was HWA’s very pointed instruction that the term “cross” in the King James Bible was a mistranslation of the word for “stake;” therefore, we couldn’t sing about a cross… going on before, as the song phrase concludes.

[Re-reading this now I wonder if memory serves me correctly on where I ran into the Battle Hymn “fix.”  It could have been while singing this song with the Ambassador Chorale a year after I began to attend services.  Someone with access to the gray paperback hymnal from RCG days could correct me on this.]

So Herb had a thing about semantics. This was something I shared – still do today – and my interest in semantics was well established prior to my interest in the CoG.

In the Battle Hymn (a revolting oxymoron as a title, but legally the choice of its Civil War period composer), it was the [lack of] the word lilies that caught my attention. More than that, the words born and borne. They were completely and absurdly misused and blown out of proportion by either HWA himself or his brother Dwight or other devoted follower, perhaps Dr. Bogdancik at the Big Sandy Campus.

When I found myself singing the well-known old song and stumbling over lilies as others sang the printed replacement word of autumn, I didn’t know what to think. Someone later explained that Jesus wasn’t born in spring, when there would be lilies about, therefore the word was simply changed to autumn to fit with when He was actually born. Even as a minimally educated teen, I found this incredible. Yet if it was the way this wonderful church wanted it, so be it! Yuk! Sickening now to even reveal my blind acceptance of all that crap back then.

Just think of this! If the leaders of the church were going to take liberties with composers’ written words, which was unethical and probably illegal, at least it should never have been done without clear and meaningful reason. This very subject of changed lyric lines was a huge part in my excitement over the new hymnal that came out in the early 1970s.

To the blog participant who goes by PurpleHymnal, my sincere apologies.  I realize now that you might have been one of those toddlers on the floor during some of my own rousing sessions of song-leading, then were probably forced to stay on the drafty floor next to that purple monster placed at your mother’s feet during the sermons.  No surprise you have a far different perspective!  The same shout-out goes to all others who began your developmental years on the drafty floors of WCG meeting halls.  Hopefully you developed much more than colds and hatred for the hymnal! 

My reason for liking the new hymnal was that most of the lyrics of the many new songs were fairly direct quotes of biblical passages (which I thoroughly approved of at the time) and no longer so many strange aberrations of old protestant songs.  Of course, many of the old songs remained, just fixed and reprinted (illegally) in the new book.  But back to words. Borne being mistaken for born? How utterly foolish! The context didn’t even make any sense with that slant.

Even back in high school choir (prior to my conversion) when we had performed this song in four-part harmony, I was aware that the word borne meant carried. I probably wasn’t aware that the idea was related to the “Lord” being carried on the back of a donkey and brought to the place where he “died to make men holy.”  But when we singers in the choir reached that moment of beginning the last verse, we were coached in the need to retard the tempo and slip into a reverent pianissimo to begin the phrase, “In the beauty of the lilies…” and I somehow understood it had to do with the biblical reference to the traditional time (in spring) when the crucifixion had taken place.

Imagine my surprise to find that someone had decided the line needed fixing because it was important to avoid any connection between spring and the likely time when Jesus was born. Amazing misapplication and lack of logic!

Many such examples of correcting texts or lyrics could be cited, and most of them are now quite as laughable. That’s right, Mr. Becker, I choose to laugh about it all now. Because I can! We can and probably should laugh at much of our past foolishness if we want to find any sanity. Were we all, in the WCG, guilty of many misguided actions and ideas? You bet. Did we all follow too willingly without enough intellectual curiosity? Oh, yes! Was I personally guilty for being so caught up in what I perceived to be right when I was in my late teens, that I should apologize to all who even knew my name back then? Okay, again, I am very sorry. Not only to PurpleHymnal but to thousands of others who might have seen in me a solid connection to truth which later crumbled and ceased to exist. Our connection is what crumbled; it did so because I finally discovered that the truth I wanted so much apparently had never proven to exist.

Insert:  A just-added comment from admin has suggested I sign an apology page.  Maybe this is the same thing Becker’s note was suggesting by placing a link for me.  Never checked out the link; don’t do blanket apologies for anything!  Part of being a complete independent is not adding my name to lists. There are also degrees of guilt; my offense was like a misdemeanor in the scheme of things.  A duped kid, groomed to be a minister, preached at others for eight years and then said “forget it.”  I readily and openly apologize for anything I actually do or have done that may ever hurt anyone.  This has been evident throughout my writing in this blog, though it appears some have missed the apologies because they weren’t couched in heavy language of loathing, hating myself and those who abused me.  I do not wallow in hatred and I do not do sack cloth and ashes!  If my involvement in this “dumping ground,” as admin has named it, is to be of any benefit, I can see no route more hopeful than to reveal myself as a survivor who can speak from a new, happy place.  Pushing someone up from quicksand is quite difficult; far better to lift from a footing on solid ground.  

If we could learn to laugh at ourselves and our past delusions, we would all likely be happier. Yet those of us who are managing to do this come under criticism of some who cannot or will not laugh. In your own words, Mr. Becker, in a comment following my previous post: First, there is nothing true about Armstrongism. It is stupid. Everything based on British Israelism is stupid. No one here seems to care about which Armstrongist group survives over another. They should all fail. They are wrong. Some of us here are actively working to hasten the fall of Armstrongism. [You have my total agreement and appreciation! – markman]
Now if it were only for the fact that Armstrongism is wrong, then a great approach is to just walk away. But that’s not all there is. What there is, is a great deal of abuse going on, as a legacy of what Herbert Armstrong started.
Abuse is the real reason Armstrongism should die permanently.

My sincere effort has been (from the beginning contribution to this blog) to be of help to anyone who might find something positive in my words. That includes the encouragement for anyone capable of taking that step (as a fish with new-found legs) to completely reject the black fishbowl and all its environs. It is your own admission that “a great approach is to just walk away.” This approach could become a reality for you and many others. I have tried to give everyone the handle on my life of freedom by pointing out that though Armstrongism is quite unquestionably wrong and damaging, it’s merely a tiny part of the massive blight on a humanity that looks to phantoms.

An apparent need still exists to punish HWA, GTA, RCM, the WCG, UCG, and/or others from the alphabet of madness, because there is still “abuse going on.” Ending all abuse at the hands of crackpots and their legacies would be truly wonderful. I hope there are people (other than myself) actively working to end the abuses begun by Ellen G. White, Oral Roberts, Billy Sunday, Pat Robertson, Joseph Smith, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Jerry Falwell,  Pope Benedict, all the former popes, Saul of Tarsus, Jimmy Swaggert, Mary Baker Eddy, Mohammed, John Calvin, Ron Hubbard, Martin Luther, etc., etc., ad nauseum. From my perspective, now free of the tyranny of belief, they are all part of the one insanity.

[There are actually many people trying to help others to better understand life and humanity. Bob Kuhn, former Armstrong follower, as many of you know has an impressive website called closertotruth. Three other websites I appreciate are longhighsurvival, ageofreason, and thebrights. And many sites relating to Humanism are quite interesting.]

Later in your own comment to me, Mr. Becker, you seem to want me to be a personal extension of Armstrong so you might have someone still living who can be blamed and cursed in some way – perhaps wanting to see me also “die permanently.” Alas, I shall eventually satisfy that desire and be dead permanently. As will we all. Living for today, however, is something I intend to continue with pleasure and not wallowing in guilt. You think I should be apologizing more, which I thought I did in proper measure.

To sum up, let me use a simple analogy. Religion, to me, is a disease, of which Armstrongism is a minor strain. As with physical maladies, some people contract virulent strains and die; others fight off major illness and live long, happy lives. Some are exposed to AIDS or other horrible strains and suffer no ill effect; others get germs through simple blood transfusions (are totally innocent) and die painful deaths.
I fought off the ill effects of Armstrongism and the experience inoculated me against other belief germs. My life is peaceful and strong because of the fight and the recovery. Some of you have not been so fortunate. I have deep compassion for you, but I did not infect you. That was just the luck of the draw, as it was with me. No point in blaming my late mother who was a carrier. I possessed free will; I made my own decisions. In the last few weeks here I have tried to share my story of recovery with any who want to hear it. No single remedy works for all, but you’re welcome to mine if you can use it.

Hasta lumbago,