“There are crazies out there listening to me right now” Ron Weinland said, diverging momentarily from his regular pre-sermon patter. I was thinking, I guess I’m included in this indictment. I could just imagine the heads nodding in agreement right on cue, the people feeling a little ting of anger against the persecutors.
In church, years ago, the scene would have been powerful; an aura of sobriety; all eyes fixated on our leader. We knew that, for us, he was the mouth piece of God. When we were together, we knew we were among the only people for miles around, who perceived reality correctly. And all the people who knew this true reality were doing the same thing we were.
Yes indeed, the people of the world were insane, and we knew Jesus had predicted this very thing would happen. He said deceivers would come and deceive the many. Herbert Armstrong made this more clear. We knew it actually says, “The many,” or virtually everyone. So we understood why the world couldn’t see the true reality we saw. It’s because the god of this world had blinded them, and they were all his pawns.
Wherever I walked amongst people, as they were going to classes, gathering for an event or shopping at the mall, I knew that I was the only one present who was not under the spell of the great deceiver. My Granddad could see it. The eternal law of God commanded that we must keep the Sabbath on the seventh day, and we should keep holy days too. Without these, the key to turning off Satan’s broadcast, we could not know truth.
The Sabbath is the key. This we learned from Mr. Armstrong, the latter day Elijah. When the great man himself spoke, we were all children. “You just don’t get it,” he’d say in a mournful voice, shaking his head. The lessons of those two trees in the Garden of Eden had meaning beyond our comprehension; but our great leader saw deeper than we ever could. Afterword, people spoke softly, having been in the presence of one second only to God himself. People asked; “where would we be without Mr. Armstrong?”
I’d ask myself that question frequently. I think about everything I learned from HWA; and the things I didn’t. I learned, from Herbert, that the covenant from Sinai was to last forever. He’d virtually yell this, his finger stabbing at his open bible. “Why can’t people understand, it clearly says forever?”
What I didn’t learn, from Herbert, was that the word translated “forever”, doesn’t mean forever, or Jonah would still be in the belly of the fish. Jonah 2:6, the word more correctly means ‘ages’, which is what it probably felt like. Herbert didn’t tell anyone about this; most likely, he didn’t know. His ‘law’ orientation probably wouldn’t have allowed him to accept the truth.
Truth, his favorite word; Too bad he didn’t have it; but how well he could make himself sound like he knew so many things he didn’t. Because most everyone was disconnected from this “truth” that Herbert had revealed to me; and like he always said, “It’s so plainly evident, right there in black and white;” It only followed, in my young mind, that I could trust no one. Everything was corrupt. No institution of man was anything more than a tool of Satan. I turned my back on anyone who disagreed with Herbert, and that included my Dad. Somehow, “Honor your Father, “was overruled by the need to disassociate with the enemies of God.
It seems I was more radical in my beliefs than most. The fortunate ones, who didn’t care what God thought, were much less damaged. What an Irony. I cared enough about what God thought, that I accepted the Idea that my fate was “to be brought before magistrates and be martyred for Jesus’ sake, by the forces of the beast power after they destroyed our country.”
Some have asked me why I became so paranoid about the government. We were taught to be law abiding, but Herbert’s minions referred to our form of government as “demonocracy,” a government in league with the great whore, and shortly to be destroyed by the wrath of God; by the rod of Assyria. No minister told me to treat my Dad like I did. So now they’d say, “don’t blame me.” What I thought and did only followed the input. Since our government is demonocracy and protestant churches are daughters of the great whore, and my Dad believes in both, then he’s the enemy of God.
How can people, who preach such extremism, duck responsibility for the conclusions an impressionable kid comes to. Nothing matters anymore but the kingdom. I took this seriously. Frankly, I can relate to the Muslim suicide bombers. If I were asked to do something like this for God during my teenage years, I would have considered it to be an honor.
The years of seeing everyone as “the walking dead” only succeeded in creating a callous over my heart. In later years, I seriously considered myself to be a sociopath. If I asked myself, could I kill someone? I would have answered, “Without a doubt.” All that would have stopped me is, God said, “thou shall not.” I don’t think I felt anything the way most people do. I truly had to fake the emotions I thought I was supposed to be feeling I could only see irresolvable evil in myself, and eventually, trying to stick to the rules seemed to be pointless. “If I’m beyond salvaging, what does it matter what sin I add to the pile?” I found myself thinking such things, but couldn’t completely buy into it, fortunately. As it was, I adopted situation ethics, and what I did was bad enough, motivated mostly by the pain in my brain. But if I had totally let go, I could have been one of those sicko’s that kill a bunch of people, and then myself. The Old Covenant kept me guilty. The New Covenant gave me a solution for the sin within that I couldn’t overcome. Guilt lead to more guilt and it’s a slippery slope into insanity.
The guilt made me crazy, but freedom from guilt returned my sanity. What can I say Ron? I’m not crazy, but I used to be.