2016: What’s Ahead?

Road to Nowhere

We examine the trends again to try to determine what the future might hold for the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia. Given the back pedaling, entropy and weak pathetic attempts of the CoHAM Armstrongists, we can certainly look forward to another year of mediocrity. The culture of the elite has produced depressive dissatisfaction in a less than stellar showing of activity. In 2015, United again spent a lot of time, effort and money on a failed extensive media campaign turned flop. Now there will be no Good News Beyond Tomorrow. It seems so very pointless, particularly if you have seen Beyond Tomorrow. The UCG can barely see beyond today. The one thing they have as an absolute is that the United Church of God, an International Association exists solely to provide the first and second tier ministers with a salary and retirement. Robert Dick has retired. Of course, it was all downhill the moment he stepped down as chairman of the board, since those at Homequarters do not have the competence to grow the cult. Many of the first tier ministers have retired… now all United has to do is get all the second tier ministers retired and then the UCG can go out of business, since there is no other reason for its existence. The Living Church of God continues to provoke their membership with inequities, Ronald Weinland missed yet another prophesied Great Tribulation, Robert Thiel has resorted to using his dreams to prove he is a prophet, the PCG keeps losing ground in spite of its spiteful recruiting measures, David Pack continues to be an embarrassment to the Restored Church of God (just where is Dale Schurter anyway?). Moreover, Davie is buying up property with money he doesn’t have. This is typical of people with Manic Depressive Illness: They go into a funk and spend themselves out of it and then go manic, making questionable decisions. It’s important to boost those dopamine levels when you’re depressed, but manic mode can be a killer wherein, the bipolar must find additional funds from somewhere to make up for their profligate spending. At least David Pack is following the time honored traditions of Herbert Armstrong who seems to have had the same problem. Eric King seems to have fallen off the grid (maybe whisked away by those demons piloting those flying saucers?) , Apostle / Prophet James Malm continues to have financial problems — the list goes on and on. One word could be used to describe this — mediocrity — but it’s more than that (or less, depending on your point of view).

The future of Armstrongism in 2016 seems to be that of mediocrity in all its infinite variations, but the mediocrity road to nowhere results inevitably in something else — something we are seeing more and more of all the time. The trend of elitism seems destined to overtake the entirety of all the congregations of the cult. Armstrongism is doomed to incompetence.

At the Feast of Tabernacles, at least a couple of years running the minister in charge of the proceedings said words to this affect in his sermons:

I had just been ordained an elder and was attending the Feast in the Poconos. The ministry had a meeting with Garner Ted Armstrong. I sat at a table with a woman across from me. She asked me when I had attended Ambassador College. I told her that I had not attended.

She then turned her nose up into the air, talked to the person next to her and ignored me for the rest of the meeting.

It’s interesting that the Wizard / Warlock, Herbert Armstrong, established his own Hogwarts, Ambassador College — little better than a glorified high school for near adults — which produced hubris of pride in those who attended and automatically separated the class society of the cult into well defined strata, wherein those who had not been gifted to grace the halls of the school of wizardry and magic were relegated and consigned to second class citizenry to be treated as the untouchables. This was true of those who were actually ordained as elders, destined to be treated with contempt and disdain as lesser entities as Proles not privy to the outer party, let alone the inner circle.

The story of this man is interesting in that Armstrongists in his area asked him to be their minister. With great gladness, they attended the Feast of Tabernacles with him in 2010. It was a glorious time. As with many of these more benign version of the cult, there was great happiness that there was finally a(nother) place for refugees of the despotism of United and the other church cult corporates that grace the dystopian alternative universe of Herbert Armstrong. It was quite the site: Away from much of the worldly stuff, but with just the right balance of the perks of Corporate Conference Culture: There was an indoor water park for the kiddies and waterlogged adults with a gondola ride just a few feet away. 2011 was also a joyous time with many, particularly those from Canada, rejoicing in their triumph to be free of their warfare with the United Church of God an International Association Council of Elders. There was also a refugee from the megalomania of David Pack — who invaded their home for a weekend and spewed hurtful nonsense at them the whole time. It was a time of peace and harmony with happiness along with bike riding and hiking.

Bored

The hint of trouble began in 2013 when many of the singles opted to go to other feast sites — there just wasn’t enough ‘social’ to keep them interested. For one thing, there were only two viable restaurants in the town and one of them was closed for the month during which the feast was held. The nearest real grocery store was two miles down the freeway. In 2014, the problem was even worse where virtually no singles attended and there was nothing to keep them there — they went for greener pastures.

BoredCat

2015 came and went. People have been agitating for a ‘better’ feast site. The festival coordinator is out looking for prospects.

At the same time, the Seventh Day Church of God (Caldwell, Idaho) with Pastor Paul Woods had another glorious Feast near Deer Lake Washington. This joyous group focused on Jesus. As it was in the past at Fruitland, everyone got together and had lunch together each day, with the ministers doing some of the cooking and serving. There was special music, events for the adults and children, all far away from the distractions of industrialized civilization. They were quite happy with it because their focus was religious not on frivolous activities devoid of spiritual content. There was harmony. They were not bored nor agitating for more exciting digs. And as Paul Woods told me, the typical cost of going to the Feast with them is around $20 a day — not thousands of dollars for the whole feast. The people go there not out of obligation but because they love Jesus and want to be closer to God the Father — not for a glorified hot spot vacation and shopping spree, replete with the free flowing alcohol so endemic, pandemic and epidemic for Armstrongist Feast sites (expect long lines at the liquor stores — if there are liquor stores).

Boredom seems to be the watchword for 2016. Sure the election for the President of the United States will be taking place and there’s a lot of stimulation for the non political Republican Dog owners of the Armstrongist churches of God watching Fox News, but as far as the cult itself is concerned, it’s I’m bored, bored, bored out of my gourd. And why not? Decades of failed prophecies, demands for more and more money, no growth, no church facilities as a center of a church community all add up to apathy in entropy.

Meanwhile, the Church of God, Seventh Day — ten times larger than all the Armstrongist churches combined — keeps right on going in its own social context, having just successfully transitioned in the leadership and moving forward with their own work. It’s a venue Armstrongists simply cannot understand and the Armstrongists think that the CoG7D is just like them minus the Feasts. The fact the Armstrongists don’t understand is that the CoG7D is so very different from Armstrongism that there is no way to contrast the social structures. For one thing, the focus is not on the leaders and the individual congregations are largely autonomous. It’s not vertically integrated and simply does not have The Man in the High Castle. Armstrongists are uncomfortable with the CoG7D because of a lack of hyperbole and stimulation for them — the Armstrongists are addicted to chaos and constant disruption of dystopian futures impinging on their sensibilities from every direction — every news report is construed as a fulfillment of prophecy — a stimulation to high energy for the end just around the corner. As so many Armstrongists have said, “I can’t wait for it to all be over”. The statement is reflective of clinical depression, which the CoG7D avoids by concentrating on what is spiritual, not physical.

There is such a thing as over stimulation. The constant bombardment of potential prophetic fulfillment raises adrenaline levels, but at some point the body just plain wears out after decades of impact to the endocrine system. The pancreas, pituitary, thyroid and adrenals just don’t continue at the same levels of production over time when they are abused. Dopamine,  norepinephrine and epinephrine production diminishes. With Armstrongism, the additional impact of alcoholism also has devastating effects on the body of the Armstrongite. You can’t just abuse your body with delusions and false prophecies without paying the price. Your get up and go will have gotten up and be gone.

The only real viable solution to this problem is to leave the stressors causing it. Unfortunately, cult living is addictive. Every day requires a new fix. Every year that goes by, the doses have to get greater and greater. As a junkie, you have to pay more and more to your dealer and it never delivers the same high. Never.

The result?

Boredom.

And that’s the way it looks for 2016.

The Feast is no longer enough

xmas mall escalator

Herbert Armstrong swallowed all of Greenberry George Rupert’s eschatology hook, line and sinker. Rupert believed that the New Testament had not superseded the rules laid out in the Old Testament, and so the laws of Moses should apply to Christians as well as Jews, including kosher diets and other practices: Whatever was not explicitly changed or eliminated in the New Testament remained in effect. Adapting the Adventist view of Seven church eras, Rupert argued that the “Philadelphia” phase was the period in which William Miller worked (from 1833 to 1844). The final era, “Laodicea” began in 1844 and would last until the End Times. He also denied the immortality of the soul, asserting that man is mortal, but can be given eternal life. Traditional Christian holidays were in fact “heathen”. Armstrong reveled in this and when he entered into the Church of God Seventh Day, he was filled with hubris because he knew — he just knew — that the knowledge he had was superior to that of the CoG7D. He believed that he was better than everybody else because he had the knowledge of G. G. Rupert. Herbert Armstrong didn’t really come up with much new stuff on his own — he ‘borrowed’ and stole it, claiming he was taught personally by Jesus Christ. One of the main things he got from Rupert was the Feast of Tabernacles, which was to picture the millennium. He accepted Rupert’s dictum that Xmas was pagan.

Through the early years into the 1960s, Herbert Armstrong and his henchmen established the Feast in Big Sandy, Texas. These were the times when simple people, many of whom were farmers, drove thousands of miles to set up their tents in the hot, humid, bug infested, dusty camp to attend what to us today would seem excruciatingly boring sermons about the future — littered with gory tales of grotesque suffering of the Great Tribulation — with the attendant assurances that there would be a Place of Safety to be safely nestled away from doomsday Armageddon to inherit eternal life in positions of power, prestige and prosperity to dominate the hapless humans who actually survived the horrifying events of death, destruction, devastation and acres of blood, decimated by nuclear and conventional war. The Feast was an exciting time, fraught with people actively talking about the Bible and Scriptures on tailgates of pickups and vans while they snacked on cheese and wine. It may have been a purely secular physical experience but in the delusional minds of the goers, it was the height of spirituality. There were prophecies galore. People were assured and just knew that these things would shortly come to pass in their lifetimes. They made sacrifices and lived in what many would consider misery for 8 days just for the pure joy of doing it. It was worth it to them to spend ten percent of their gross income on it, even having given away another ten percent to support the profligate lifestyle of the Armstrongs and their henchmen.

Alas. Herbert Armstrong was wrong. He gave everyone assurances at the Feast of Tabernacles at Penticton in 1971: “Follow me,” he cried holding up an imperious finger, “I will lead you into the Kingdom”. The only place he could have led us is into death because he died in 1986 without a single one of his ‘inspired’ prophecies coming to pass in his lifetime — including the proposition that we would all flee in 1972 for the Place of Safety and that Jesus would return in 1975. Time marched on, taking no prisoners. The Worldwide Church of God tacitly dropped the Feasts and changed its name, effectively going out of business. There remained a rebellious hardy minority who set off on their own to continue the Old Testament physical observances in complete variance with the tenets of the New Testament and particularly the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, many of which were forgeries.

The various sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia went forth to replicate the unsuccessful patterns of the past on the premise that nothing happening was a sure sign that something was about to. And so it was, the Armstrongites with their hireling henchmen continued the delusion of British Israelism and ancient Israelism devoid of spiritual content by doing exactly what Herbert Armstrong taught them to do: Lie to themselves in distorted perception delusions, creating a de facto religious insanity, predicated on the idea that they could get something for nothing, since, after all, it was a gift of God and they would have great power and beauty if only they persisted in forking over their livelihood to convincing con men.

You have to know where this goes. Every time someone accepts a lie in place of the truth, sooner or later disappointment, dissatisfaction and apathy set in.

So the ersatz Feasts continued apace with a renewed vigor with enthusiastic participants. This time though, the Armstrongists were familiar with the idea of creature comforts, seeing as how they attended not a Feast of the Lord, but a religious business convention of the sort held by Fortune 500 companies introducing a new product or rallying customers with a business conference. Mostly the tents disappeared. Tailgating and cooking over outdoor fires was replaced with 3 to 5 star restaurants, or, more likely, fast food joints. The sermons went from two to three a day to one a day, with social activities filling the void. There were cruises, dinners out, dancing, singles activities, family day and a host of attractions provided by the purveyors of pleasure and excitement by the local business, such as, but not restricted to, ice skating, gondola rides, tours and the such.

As time went on as the years rolled by, the excitement of Bible Study within the framework of even more exciting prophetic pronouncements dimmed. The bloom was off the rose. People learned to save 10% on their net income and also didn’t just spend it at the Feast — if there was money left over, many would refuse to turn it in to the church and simply spent it on themselves later after the Feast. Many of the sects also dropped third tithe, since the fatherless, widows and orphans were expected to live on government subsidies and, in some cases, if someone did get whatever little third tithe they had, they had to pay it back. Cults have long memories, particularly when it come to money — the focus of their existence (along with hubris — or if you are a particularly vain arrogant Englishman, HuBrits). In actual fact, many don’t even read the flagship magazine if there is one. People have been getting bored and are dissatisfied with the lack of performance their stock has in the cult sects. World Prophecy just isn’t shaping up, no matter how much they continue to watch Fox News. The lackadaisical participants of this rigmarole need a great deal more stimulation, particularly social interaction, for even rudimentary survival of the very boring irrelevant useless cult sects led by sociopaths and psychopaths who care not one whit about their ‘members’.

And so it is, even though it is banned, the Armstrongists are keeping Christmas.

xmas mall

Oh, they claim they are not keeping it — after all, they aren’t exchanging gifts and sending each other Xmas cards, but still, they meet at convention centers convenient to malls all through Christmas week in preplanned get-togethers which are not all that cheap. They do secular things like play basketball. The singles get together. And many do what they’ve always done, they go out drinking because so many of the Armstrongists are boozing alcoholics. Banned! has capitalized upon this with their article, Living Church of God Annual Christmas Party, but, of course, Living isn’t the only one, since United is doing it too. And who knows what other groups are setting forth in their one horse sleighs?

Just be sure that no matter where these little social get togethers are being held, they are near some major shopping mall. For it is that the ACoGs have gone secular and they learned long ago to shop during the Feast of Tabernacles.

If it weren’t for the name on the door (or the placards), you probably wouldn’t know if you were at the Feast of Tabernacles or at a non Xmas Christmas party.

 

Give us a sign! The sign of the T!


Paul wrote the Jews want a sign, the Greeks want wisdom. And the Vulcans want logic.

COGs are good at producing “new truth”, “proof-texting logic” and “signs”. H.W.A (Hoeh, Waterhouse and Associates) came up with so many “proofs” that HWA was whoever he was supposed to be. I think Gerald Flurry’s first “proof” of being HWA’s successor was that he was disfellowshipped 40 days before the date of HWA’s death. And Dave Pack has God’s fingerprints. These proofs are no more credible than the proof that Franz Josef Strauss was the Beast.

Now I haven’t been picking on Pack and others without reason. The Pharisees, Scribes, disciples of John the Baptist and others questioned Jesus, and they were right in doing so. When someone appeared as a teacher and purveyor of truth it was their duty to check him out. I contend the COG critics have every right to sound out those who claim to be Top Dog of the Top COG or facilitator of the faithful fragment. If you don’t like the heat, don’t put yourself in the spotlight!

And now, as I understand it, Bob Thiel stated he has a “sign” regarding the timing of the setup of his CCOG.

Back in 2006, in the LCG, Dr Thiel said he was asked to do a sermon on the Law during the FOT. And this year, 2013, as pastor of the CCOG, he decided to do a sermon on the Law at the FOT again.

The clincher comes when he noticed Deuteronomy 31:10-13:

Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this Torah before them in their hearing…
… as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess. [NIV]

Got it? A sermon on the Law, seven years, at the FOT. Wow, this must be a sign that God wanted Bob to leave the LCG and start his own COG.

Now Moses didn’t say, “Every seven years at the FOT, wherever you chose to hold it, give a sermon about your interpretation of the Law.” The seventh year is the year when debts are canceled, slaves are released… [Wait a minute, slaves… didn’t Bob call himself the Overseer?] And this is to be done at the place God will choose: first it was the Tabernacle at Shiloh, then the Temple in Jerusalem.

In Synagogues, the weekly “Torah portion” is read each week, with the objective of reading the Torah through each year. Of course when the “seven years” begins is not certain, and strictly speaking this applied to Temple service, or at least living in Israel. (Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, not some country dubbed Israel by British-Israelism.)

[“Sign of the T” was borrowed from Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)]