THE LITTLE “BIG MAN”

family-business

 

Chapter 10
Herbert Armstrong is a very complex person. He has partaken deeply
of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Stan Rader said in 1978,
“Dave, I know my man.” And he does. He has carefully studied him for over
twenty years. For whatever motives, he has pursued the subject energetically
and at close range.

Dr. Floyd Lochner, who had been a close traveling companion
of HWA for years, attributes many of his personality failings, as
well as his driving ambition, to his short stature. Dr. Lochner’s
theory holds that Herbert was rejected frequently during his early
life due to appearance and lack of physical stature. This, in turn,
fired him with motivation to “get even” with society. Rejection
during his early years would also have caused his life-long
paranoia and emotional instability in certain sectors of his life. He
was rejected frequently by women during those early years. This
left its mark.

Frequently, short men, especially those who are very conscious
of their lack of normal height, compensate in whatever way seems
open to them. Herbert Armstrong discovered he could be a “big
man” behind the pulpit. For the first time in his life he felt power
in a very real sense. And he realized that power came from a
transfer of authority from God to himself in the minds of his
followers. He must always identify God and himself very closely
in the minds of his listeners. More on this later.

Rejection by women early in life and even by his own wife in the
marriage bed (his story) intensified his feelings of persecution and
inadequacy and stimulated his need to prove himself. He wanted
people to think he was a “tiger.” He must prove he was as good
as, and even superior to, other men, even in sex. He had proven
his superiority behind the pulpit, or had he? Was he better than
Ted, even behind the pulpit? Pride, self-doubt, frustration, envy,
love-hate seemed to intensify with age. The old saying, “once a
man twice a boy” was again proven valid.

For instance, he wanted the whole world to know he was able to
perform sexually even in old age, so he had an article to that effect
published in The Worldwide News immediately after his
marriage. He talked long and plainly to college seniors on the
subject of sex – without pulling any punches. He was the “authority”.
He had studied Masters and Johnson and hence had become very “advanced”
on this subject. While he had earlier written the book, God Speaks Out on
“The New Morality,” his newest teachings conflicted quite sharply with his
earlier book. He still presented himself as having God’s view of sex, but
he failed to explain how or why God had radically changed his mind!
His views on sex, taught forcefully, affected the marriage bed of thousands.
He always taught “in the name of Jesus.” All his letters are so signed.
His association with divinity never ceased.He claimed to have
“the mind of God, more than anyone on earth.”

Even people who know of his flagrant disregard for the Ten
Commandments are a little afraid of Herbert Armstrong’s divine
authority! Ears that have heard him state that authority for so
many years have a hard time ridding themselves of that loud ring.
He can present himself as the kindliest and most benevolent of
men before an audience – radiating a real grandfather image. He
can come across as having only love in his heart and put on the
most charming smile. He can laud and praise a man above all
others and then turn and destroy the very man whom he has so
lavishly praised. He can brag powerfully about a man before an
audience, then turn privately, almost immediately, and lacerate
the same man unimaginably. As Sherwin McMichael said once to
me, “Mr. Armstrong’s back trail is literally strewn with the
wreckage of men who have faithfully served him.”

While Herbert Armstrong’s body is short and his shoulders
slope in unmasculine fashion, his voice is powerful. He has said
on occasion that he inherited his voice from his father. It was one
of the very best speaking voices of this century in America. One
need but compare his tapes of twenty-five years ago with those of
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and the quality of his
voice is unmistakable. If anything, it is better. It carries remarkable
quality of command. The sad part is that there is not the godly character
to match the voice.

During the time when Herbert Armstrong was in his formative
years, the ideal planted in so many Americans was to become rich,
preferably as an industrialist, be respected, live very well in a very
fine home, support the arts, travel abroad in style, and associate
with royalty. If there were a daughter, she should marry a count,
a lord, or even possibly a duke. When such people of that period
followed these practices and then returned home, they tended to
look down on ordinary people as inferior.

After all, had not they stayed in the very grandest hotels
abroad, and had not they been presented at royal courts? No
matter that some of the “royalty” were pretenders, and some of
the titles were not valid. No matter if many of those people were
profligate. It was the image, the illusion. That was what was
important. Americans of that period were prepared to spend
fortunes on such projects. That was the ultimate in living. And
throughout his life, Herbert Armstrong was very conscious of
image. That was more important than substance.

It seems that in Herbert Armstrong’s old age, he must live out
that illusion, live the earlier dream of another age, and now do
what he had dreamed so vividly of doing in his youth in Chicago.
His mixing with “the great and the near-great” of those days
must have inspired fantasies he attempted to live out just as soon
as it was possible – on church funds, even as an octogenarian.
Now, he was able to visit with “kings, emperors, presidents,
governors, judges, and rulers,” thus making up for the
deprivations of the past. If there is anyone thing Herbert
Armstrong despises, it is being poor and all that goes with it. He
has long bragged that he never looks to see what a steak costs
when he goes into a restaurant. That is beneath his dignity. His
restaurant bills are astronomical, and especially so when one
considers the financial state of his church. He does live “deliciously.”

His son, Ted, used to tell the story of his dad’s suit-buying
habits. He said his dad would much prefer to, and did, pay twice
as much to buy a suit in a store frequented by the very rich than to
get the same suit at another store where he might not be seen by
the wealthy. Again, it was all image. That is the important thing
to remember. One cannot understand HWA without understanding the
importance to him of image. He likes enormously riding in a black or
dark blue Cadillac limousine driven by a chauffeur. He rides in the back
seat, usually, like a potentate. He dresses to the hilt, and bystanders
would be hard pressed to think he is a preacher. They might think him to be a
movie maker, a rich visiting foreigner, an industrialist, or such,
but never a preacher or person involved in religion.

One could not imagine him riding on a mule, walking many
miles in the dust of Judea, suffering hardship, going in and out
among the people, evading the famous, or giving himself for
others, for example.

Many of those who have known him long, including some of
his own family, report he has always talked of conspiracy
against himself. He saw everybody, including his own family,
as collaborators against him. His persecution complex was
always strong.

When one examines the record objectively, it seems he himself
has been the greatest conspirator of all. Members of his alienated
family report his strange reading habits. According to these
accounts, he read, very carefully, even studied for a long period
of time, Adolph Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf. He was especially
impressed with Hitler’s methods of crowd control, his methods of
intimidation and domination of other men. He was impressed by
Hitler’s method of moving swiftly during the hours between
midnight and dawn when he wanted to pull off a coup. (Hitler
thought men’s resistance was weakest during those hours.) Events
of recent years abundantly demonstrate the effectiveness of such
methods. Of course, that was not the way Christ worked!

There can be no doubt at all that HWA uses intimidation
masterfully. Neither is there any doubt he will not have anyone
around him that he cannot dominate, or intimidate, except Stan
Rader. But that is a whole story by itself. He literally makes timid
those who work with him. It is as if he wanted to “possess” them!
When so much evil is done in the name of God, one must ask:
Could or would God really expect people to honor and obey
such a man? Is this man really “the only apostle of the twentieth
century”?

Herbert Armstrong explains that “in the name of” means “by
the authority of,” and when he speaks “in the name of Christ,”
he means by the authority of Christ. He means that Christ is
directing him. But there is a major problem. He makes too many
conflicting statements. Try this: Get out all of the letters, articles,
and proclamations he has written over the past twenty-five years
and attempt to reconcile them. That is a real exercise in frustration.
Confusion, which God is not the author of (I Cor. 14:33), is abundantly
evident. Yet all his letters were signed “In Jesus’ Name.”

All great confidence men are masters of rationalization. They
can give excellent reasons that sound completely plausible for
doing what they want you to do. Herbert Armstrong’s ability in
this field is unsurpassed.

None of his letters was more masterful than the one he wrote to
church members on November 22, 1978, to explain why Quest/78
should be kept by the church. (He had promised to dispose of that
questionable property a short time before.)

He was very proud of the letter he wrote to the membership in
1974 while on an emergency flight back from Manila to handle the
unrest in the church at that time because of stories about Ted. He
told me he stayed up all night writing that letter. Interestingly
enough, when I asked Stan about it, he said that was incorrect, as
he had written it himself!

Dr. Lochner, who should know, says that Stan actually “puts
words in Herbert Armstrong’s mouth.” He tells him what to say,
often verbatim!

Al Carrozzo, writing in the 1977 Ambassador Report in an
article entitled “The Profligate Son,” has this to say about
HWA’s true character and motivations:

“On May 22, 1973, at 1:00 p.m., Ted left me with no
doubts as to his father’s real motivation, intentions, and
modus operandi. In a private, three-hour meeting in his
office, Ted told me he specifically disagreed with his father
on many issues, including doctrine. He explained his dad
desperately wanted to be accepted by the world, and that
was the reason he was traveling around the world
continuously, seeking the favor and audience of world
leaders.
“Ted admitted he had seen his father ‘stone drunk’ on
dozens of occasions. He stated his father had told him that
he (Herbert) would do anything to keep the “Work” afloat
– including lying, stealing, and bribery. I was shocked, of
course, but later I personally saw Herbert ‘stoned’ on
several occasions and caught him in numerous lies. I began
to see those lies in his member and co- worker letters, and
these lies have continued to this day.
”The year of 1973 was one of revelation for me. I learned
of Ted’s profound and long-enduring sexual activities,
Herbert’s total cover-up, corruption at the highest level in
the WCG, Herbert’s pleasure blasts around the world under
the guise of preaching the true gospel, squandering of vast
sums of money on extravagant art treasurers, exploitation
of gullible and hard-pressed people, gross doctrinal error,
and suppression of human beings – mentally, emotionally,
physically, and spiritually. Yes 1973 proved to me that
dishonesty was a way of life with Ted and his father, and
that way of life hasn’t changed to this very day”