A long, patriotic, thought-provoking but a still darn good Intelligent quote of the day

american_flag_hdtv_waving.jpgI’m going to throw my two cents in at this point, if I may, even if it only bears indirectly on the subject at hand. If I seem condescending, please believe it’s not intentional. But there seems to be so much bitterness in the minds and hearts of those who did things because “Mr. Armstrong said so” that this old boy can’t keep quiet any longer. So out of concern for the many who live with deep resentment for doing things “because Mr. Armstrong said so,” here goes. I hope this will help reverse at least part of the ongoing tragedy of bitterness toward Armstrong.

For most, what I’m about to say is obvious. I’m not speaking to you; you already know these things. But there are those who are still shackled with bitterness and resentment over things they think they can’t change. This is addressed to them.

For those who let Armstrong’s teachings undo happy marriages or preclude seeking medical help for life-threatening health needs, the wrongs are too great to forgive in the sense of absolving him of all responsibility. The only forgiveness in those cases is the type, expressed in Hebrew but not in translation, that puts grievous wrongs on the back burner, to be resolved later. One will have to wait for the next life to heal those wounds. Armstrong has a lot of soul-searching ahead of him, and a whole lot of profound repenting and apologizing to those he severely wronged through his personal misunderstanding and pride. No doubt about it.

But still, everyone who did things “because Mr. Armstrong said so” made a huge mistake, particularly in a free country. Letting anyone else make one’s own decisions, when one possesses the capacity to think on one’s own, is running full-speed away from life itself — because despite all of those we blame, the decisions we make are still our own, and we must accept some of that responsibility. We are free people in a free country, and if we have allowed ourselves to be coerced, we’d best never let it happen again.

In America one does things because one examines the facts personally and decides accordingly. When facts change, one adjusts. Anyone who throws his or her life onto the teachings of spiritual tyrants (you fill in the blanks) is inadvertently begging for disaster. Attachments like these thwart the benevolence of God.

One cannot please God fully until he or she imbibes the attitude expressed so eloquently by Thomas Jefferson when he said: “I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” One cannot really take God’s side without that attitude.

Not even God could lead Israel to conquer Canaan with a slave mentality — because God doesn’t force people; He works through free men and women. For the conquest of Canaan (by then a collection of irreversibly perverse societies) God needed the minds and hearts of a people steeped in freedom — and that took 40 years of training, without distractions, vis-a-vie the leadership of God and Moses. Their freedom required a whole generation of study and application to cultivate the strength of mind necessary to conquer. Ex-Armstrongites could use some of that.
Herbert Armstrong allowed himself the perks of tyranny after some of his students convinced him that God’s government is exclusively “top-down.” Of course that kind of government is wrong. The relationship between God and Israel was and is one of covenant, an agreement between individuals requiring a measure of equality and de-centralized autonomy. One doesn’t cut deals with nincompoops, particularly when One is God.

Full individual potential cannot grow properly under tyranny. Tyranny is Satanic, if I may use so strong an adjective. And although Armstrong had no intention of exercising tyranny, he had been convinced that a tyrannical form of government was Godly. Hence, those who were close to him were far better treated than those who had to endure his much-smaller-minded underlings. The form itself gave twerps command when they would have done far better with mops and scrub brushes.

God is interested in developing free individuals who can form and shape their own lives, make their own decisions, learn from mistakes, and become all that a human being can be. That will never happen under the strait-jacketed aristocracies of dictators, benevolent or otherwise.

Apart from some wrong doctrines and applying an heretical form of the “divine right of kings,” Armstrong proffered one helluva lot of good stuff: a taste for abundance and high quality living, a brilliant outline for success based on both study and experience, and most of all, a vast Biblical knowledge, whether or not it was in-depth.

Today many of his former students are able to move into widely diverse areas of Biblical interpretation, from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical Christianity, from Orthodox Judaism to hundreds of knockoff versions of Armstrongism. I have to marvel at the degree to which free-thinkers have progressed from positions they had taken earlier in their Churches of God and Ambassador Colleges. Some will say it’s not all progress; I say, “True enough, but in the long haul it’s all quite harmless.” We cannot hurt this planet permanently; and before God or Messiah can teach us the truest ideals, we need to exercise our freedom to choose life or death, blessing or curse as we understand the choices should be made. It could be well be argued that we have that responsibility.

Armstrong should be praised, not blamed, for a great deal of what he offered. Yes, part of his spiritual palette was unconscionable. That should be obvious to all who have known or studied his teachings. But in this great and free country, everyone has always been at least theoretically free to choose his or her own path.

Today, those who have chosen to observe Biblical Holydays and the weekly Sabbath, at least in my opinion, have chosen a very good thing indeed. Why they have so chosen, I hope and pray, has been a matter of personal choice, about which they are personally convinced, their decisions being their own, and in no way based on “because Mr. Armstrong said so.” For those who have chosen otherwise, who have moved over into more conventional forms of Christianity, it must not be forgotten that Christians built this country. Ben Franklin and some few others were Deists, and very good ones, but in the main this great country is the product of mainstream Christians — and one dares not overlook George Washington’s deep involvement, not only in church life but also in Freemasonry. How about that! How many of us are as recognized for our greatness and contributions to America as George Washington?

Freedom, dear reader. Freedom. Don’t let it slip from those beautiful fingers of yours. They’re made to hold fast that which is good. Don’t betray your lives to anyone else’s opinions, including those of Herbert Armstrong, unless you are convinced on your own. Be humble enough to learn from everyone, and remember, “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

JDSchroeder, commenting on Gavin Rumney’s Ambassador Watch blog in a bold patriotic way that there is a life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness after Armstrongism. More importantly, an awareness of freedom of choice and personal responsibility that needs to be vigilantly protected.

Edior’s note: Hey JDS, are you related to John Ross Schroeder???  I hope we’ll also hear from you again pretty soon!!!

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5 thoughts on “A long, patriotic, thought-provoking but a still darn good Intelligent quote of the day

  1. Far too many in the WCG under Herbert Armstrong didn’t have a choice. I know I didn’t.

    At the age of 17, I was ripped from my home and plunged into the Radio Church of God cult. I had no choice in the matter because two members of my family put me on a bus and sent me away to be picked up by the RCG minister. I was just out of high school and did not really know how to live on my own. I worked for less than minimum wage and the GROSS went to the church. I was surrounded by my roommates in the church in a true cult experience, cut off from everyone I had ever known and was with strangers.

    When I say strangers, I mean they were not just unfamiliar to me: They were strange. It was a completely dysfunctional environment designed for sleep deprivation. I often starved nearly to death because I didn’t really have enough to eat. I had to walk everywhere and was at the mercy of church members with whom I was surrounded 24 by 7.

    Fast forward 20 years.

    Our family came home one Sabbath afternoon and somewhere along the line, our daughter told me that her best friend in the WCG was being raped by her father committing incest with her. I was shocked and did not know what to do.

    It turns out the ministry in the WCG were protecting the man. Along with many other incidences, including stalking even way back then, the ministers all the way from the local preaching elder all the way up to HQ and Roderick Meredith covered up the terrible acts perpetrated on the members and their children. In legal parlance they were co-conspiraters accessories to depraved indifference and outright assault. The church managed to cover up everything.

    Now, beyond the above being terrible naive, It should be noted that some people also didn’t have a lot of choices in their interactions.

    Two years ago, I learned from a woman in an xcg that she had been staled by a mentally unbalanced man in her congregation. She protested to the minister and the minister suggested that she should “be more submissive”. She was a responsible business woman highly competent in her field. One day she got a call from an insurance agent telling her that her husband had taken out a life insurance policy on her. She wasn’t married and the man who had taken out the life insurance policy was the stalker in the WCG. Fortunately, she had moved to a residence with armed guards.

    The minister moved to another area where the stalking proceeded without abatement. One man was being stalked by a woman in church and a week after he was married, she told him in church in front of witnesses, “You are mine”. Various stalkers in the WCG have said the same thing, including yet another incident where the victims couldn’t get recourse from the church but they did from the courts. The amazing thing about that was, as I sat in court, deacons from the church were showing contempt for the judge and he told them that if they didn’t stop, he would throw them out. They treated the judge in court as if he was supposed to be a church member subject to them.

    Herbert Armstrong created and allowed the dysfunctional environment of the Radio Church of God and the Worldwide Church of God. He should have gone to prison for his part in some of the atrocities in the church as well as the atrocities he committed against his own family.

    I appreciate the supposed freedoms of America. For a time, we had the freedom of choice. These days though, the government can come in and exercise the right of imminent domain to take your hard earned property from you and give it to a corporation to develop based on the premise that it might bring in more taxes [not that anyone has ever shown that any such thing ever has].

    One hopes that the freedoms being stripped away by ripping up the Constitution under the Homeland Security acts won’t end up to be even less than the freedoms we had in the WCG and the xCGs. Gerald Flurry once gave a sermon that none of us “have any rights”. He’s busily working on that along with the other cultmeisters. Taking responsibility against arrogant psychopaths can only people so far, especially if they think that the sociopaths in question will be reasonable.

  2. With respect for Mr. Schroeder’s opinion, and his very insightful words, I disagree, for much the same reason Douglas Becker does; being born and raised in the church, I had no choice. I was thoroughly brought under the mind-control of cult, and truly did believe what was being offered to me was “the truth”.

    Even my decision to leave the church was made for me; if the changes had never happened, and Joe Tkach Sr. had never given the sermon from the mount, and status had remained quo—I never would have left the church.

    I did not start making decisions on my own until much later in my life than I should have (and I learned the hard way the consequences of making such decisions in an uninformed manner). That is as a direct result of the church and its mind-control.

    With respect, Mr. Schroeder’s comments are correct. For those members who had the choice in the first place, our parents. We, unfortunately, were not quite so lucky in that regard.

  3. “True humility means letting other people tell you what to do.”

    So a WCG Pastor said in the mid-1990’s — years after HWA died.

    Does that approach not mean sacrificing one’s “freedom” to some extent?

  4. “True humility means letting other people tell you what to do.”

    Wrong! Pure wrong! That so-called pastor is confusing mind control with humility and he darn well knows it!

  5. I find it very difficult to concur with the following:

    “Armstrong should be praised, not blamed, for a great deal of what he offered. Yes, part of his spiritual palette was unconscionable. That should be obvious to all who have known or studied his teachings. But in this great and free country, everyone has always been at least theoretically free to choose his or her own path.”

    I was brought up in the Armstrong cult, and I fail to understand how a child can be, even theoretically, free to “choose his or her own path”. I also fail to understand in what ways either of the Armstrongs, father or son, should be praised, as I find that they offered nothing of significance to theology. The mindset of “us” versus “them” (aka “the world”) was deeply ingrained in all “converts”. Just as in Jones’ group, Heaven’s Gate, etc., fear of the “unknown” kept these converts from choosing their own paths, even within the tradition. Mates were chosen (with oftentimes disasterous results) from within; education was decided upon based upon the coming “end”; child-rearing techniques were based upon “Armstrong dogma”‘; dating, clothing, gender “roles”, divorce, remarriage, careers, etc.–all of these were subject to the control of the “Church” and the dogma of the Armstrongs and enforced through fear of the coming “end time”, in which the “others” would suffer while the “true Church” was protected. So, “freedom” was curtailed through fear.

    Yes, there were some who did not follow everything, whose children were allowed to be children and grow up relatively “normal”. But, these families were scorned by the middle echelon as “weak”–all the while the children of the upper echelon were being allowed to do pretty much as they pleased (ask any girl who ever dated one of the Armstrong boys!).

    Let’s call it as it was, and still is: a cult (“a rose by any other name,”– although I would hardly call Armstrongism or cults of any type “roses”). I, for one, am thankful I am out of this “tradition”. Yes, I am scarred, and I have to fight the bitterness that often wells up inside me as I think that I also allowed MY children to be subjected to that lifestyle–although in far more moderation–and that I stayed in a one-sided, controlling marriage based upon the Armstrong “truth” for far too long, as well as missed out on many opportunities growing up because the “end” was coming. But, my children must make their own choices, I am working at letting go of the past, and life goes on.

    The Armstrongs, those who continue their traditions, and others like them, will be judged for what they did, or did not do. It is not up to humans to do so. But, we all know they have spiritual “blood” on their hands, and I, as do others, personally believe they were the proverbial “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. They will finally have to face God and answer for their sins, just as all of us will.

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