Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crazy or Not, Here I Come

“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.


Weinland Watch said...

"So now they’d say, “don’t blame me.” What I thought and did only followed the input."

The programming idiom "Garbage In = Garbage Out" comes to mind.

I can relate to a lot of what you've said. Too much, in fact. My ethics aren't situational though, and have always been based in compassion, personally.

I believe my ethics and compassion are hard-wired because there have been situations in which it has worked to my disadvantage, and yet I have still retained them (my ethics).

The compassion I had in the past was only for other members of the church. Compassion for those in "the world" or viewing "the worldly" as "not the world" is what I've had some difficulty with. I didn't even realize I was still doing it, until six months ago, and I exited the church twelve years ago.

The good news (oops pretend I didn't say that ;-) is that I am getting a little better, in fits and starts. I seem to be interacting more easily with people. I find that I have more compassion for those "in the world" who have bad things happen to them. (I used to have a "Wonder what they did to deserve that?" attitude.)

Moral of the story? I am pushing myself to consciously change my own behaviour. I can't tell if it's working. Time will tell I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the two trees... Most all know and understand that Jesus is the tree of life, so what in Scripture is represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? In other words, what in Scripture gives a knowledge and understanding of good and evil, and whose "fruit" leads to death?

The old covenant law.

Bill Hohmann

Seeker Of Truth said...

Very true Bill.

Romans 7:7
"...I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet."

Weinland Watch said...

Hmm. That still sounds anti-Semitic to me.

Glen Erickson said...

"mm. That still sounds anti-Semitic to me." This would not have occurred to me. I see the Jews as God's national prophet to the world. They are a kind of sacrifice being selected out as an example. Like poor king David; blessed but held up as an example of human insufficiency. A "To whom much is given, much is required," sort of thing.Deut 6:25speaks of keeping the law, and says, "that will be our righteousness." This would be a human righteousness, not Gods.I offend people by saying the Old Testament law was a law given, that was like other human (pagan)laws, just like God required other things people had devised. This old law would be the example of the second way (or tree)which doesn't work. Herbert needed excuses to explain those two trees because he was clinging to tree number two.The law was Holy because it taught a spiritually significant lesson, but I think of the law to be like the crap a dogs nose is sometimes rubbed in as aversion therapy (this would truly be holy crap). I'm grateful to the Jews for being the ones to get the aversion therapy so every one else doesn't have to. The rest can, mercifully, learn by example providing one has more intelligence than a mule, which sad to say, seems to be lacking in Weinland followers. They're like the dog who returns to his own vomit. And I say this out of pure frustration from their complete disconnect from anything marginally factual. I have stuck maybe 30 verses in front of the eyes of some of them concerning a single point, and they'll repeat over and over one verse that out of context seems to suggest what Weinland wants it to mean. And that verse nullifies the 97 percent showing the opposite is true.

Glen Erickson said...

Well, that was a bit harsh,I'll try to control myself more in the future.

Weinland Watch said...

Not at all CW. I can definitely commiserate with you, vis a vis Weinland's followers; I think the only ones hanging on at this point are the truly thought-reformed. (I'm sorry Seeker of Truth, I know some of those include your family members.)

Weinland seems to be playing out 1975 all over again.

WRT your commentary about two trees/OC/NC, I find myself coming to a fuller understanding of the vast chasm that exists between Judaism and Christianity; something Armstrongism sought to marry, with that damnable Bible Jigsaw and its "Judeo-Christian nondenominationalism".

Maybe if both religions recognized their common roots in the Egyptian mythologies of Horus, Osiris and Isis they might not be so antithetical to each other??

But that's just horrible heretical wishful thinking on my part I guess. :-)