Embarrassing College 1966
By Bob E.
"Hey Man, has anyone taken time to talk to you about the Lord?" asked a rather well weathered man. "Oh, yeah!" I replied. "Been there, done that, it didn't work for me!" "But, it's supposed to work for everyone!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "The Lord helped me get off of drugs and alcohol!" "I'm happy for you!" I said with mounting frustration, "But drugs and alcohol helped me get off of church!" "What church did you go to?" he wondered. "Worldwide Church of God," I replied. "Ah, Armstrong!" he sighed. "Don't listen to me", I said. "If you feel that good is being accomplished in your life, stay with God. Forget that you and I ever had this conversation."
Never one to tell a small child the truth about Santa Claus, I walked away.
I was part of the entering class at Embarrassing College in 1966. I never went there to learn how to live, or to change, or to become a minister. I went there to escape the horrors of childrearing "God's Way", as I was still, at 18 years of age, receiving up to three pants down spankings per day, of 40 lashes each. This was supplemented with forced fasting as well.
I wanted to be normal like the Beach Boys. Little did I know that Brian Wilson's Dad was working him over with a 2 x 4, although he was not a member of the Worldwide Church of God.
I never bought into the "I'm a piece of shit without Jesus" mentality, but the Worldwide Church of God certainly affected me in many adverse ways. Thankfully, at least I wasn't a candidate for mental enslavement, a fact that unfortunately put me at odds with the prevailing attitudes at AC. To hear some tell it, I was an enigma. They had never seen anyone like me. I had a sales-like personality, so I got away with outrageous things. Matter of fact, I gave that place such an enema, that they were still talking about it 12 years later when my youngest brother arrived at AC.
We didn't call my dormitory Animal House, it was "80 South Crass" It was like a magnet for all of the non-conformist students, and our monitor was the Student Body Vice President, a man who I truly liked, because he had been somewhat of an outlaw over in the U.K., riding Triumph motorcycles, and raising hell before chucking it all for AC.
So, consequence #1 was a blown education. At the end of Summer of "68, Mr. Plache and I "mutually agreed" that I should not return for my Junior year. So, I set out to live as much life as possible before the end of the world in 1975. Before it all came down, I wanted to be married and have children. (this obviously was more Worldwide Church of God influence, because everyone else was becoming hippies!) Unfortunately, the ministers had caught my girlfriend and I the day before we planned to run away and get married, and made us promise to do things the right way.
So, I took a vacation, then came back to California, and moved into a place called "York Manor', where I roomed with single people from the Worldwide Church of God. Co-incidentally, one of my housemates was John B, an aspiring young writer with whom I formed a fast friendship. We had similar interests in that I was studying journalism, and we bounced a lot of ideas off each other. However, my stay there was to be short-lived. Being bombarded daily with signs of the end times, I got tired of waiting, and ran away to San Diego to get married.
Now, one might make the case that if we had only done things the way the ministers advised we might be O.K. Not true! I've recently learned that most of the marriages amongst my AC classmates have not survived any better than mine. But, I most certainly reacted to 1975, consistent with my genetic make-up and personality, in a way which proved to be self-destructive. I was nowhere near ready for marriage, certainly not schooled in the right way to be a parent, and without completing my education, I was not a skilled provider.
The latter changed, as an announcement was made during Sabbath Services to the effect that staff was needed for one of the Church's binderies to rush publication of a new booklet. I applied, was hired temporarily by Ambassador College Press, and was on my way. Amazingly, one of my co-workers was John Trechak, also familiar to all on this website. John was the same age as I, and had been in Bricket Wood England for his first two years. When he transferred to Pasadena, he fell in with my old crowd, all of whom had toned it down somewhat following my expulsion. John and I became friends, and I often gave him rides to and from work in my "60 Chevy convertible. I do recall him not liking my rock n roll.
Once the booklet was published, employment ended. However, several days later, one of the supervisors from the main bindery came and got me to come to work. We didn't have a telephone, because it was our third tithe year. I was literally in my bathroom praying for a job when he knocked on the door. So, now, AC was about to give me the job skills which my AC education had failed to provide.
As 1975 approached, many of us were miserable in the church. Dr. Ernest Martin, attempting to stay below the church's radar, subtly stated in his sermon, that if we weren't happy, we weren't living right. This was very thought provoking, and I determined to seek out new answers. John Trechak seemed to have the inside scoop on everything going on behind the scenes at headquarters. This was because many of the people from class of 1970 were in positions of great responsibility in the church, and John was trusted by all. I was visiting with John on the night that Mr. Tkach, and Mr. McElroy were outside waiting for him to come out so that they could disfellowship him. I was very concerned for him because I didn't want to see him become bitter and suffer a violent death. My worries increased as John and his friend Tim Nugent started the Ambassador Report. But, in retrospect, I needn't have worried. He ended up helping many people, and enjoying much fulfillment in his life in so doing.
Ambassador College sold its press facilities to the W. A. Krueger Company. This was good, because it meant that in leaving the church, one wouldn't lose one's livelihood. Two very pivotal events took place shortly thereafter. One, HWA failed to deliver 1975 on schedule. Unlike some of my peers, I would not allow myself to be reprogrammed. Second, I found out that GTA, whom I greatly admired, was using my tithes to fornicate. If anyone was going to fornicate with my tithes, it was going to be me, so I quit tithing.
My last official duty with the church was Sabbath Security Patrol, a commitment I had made months previously, and performed with alacrity in keeping with my personal honor code. After that, I left and never came back. Sadly, it was my desire to totally normalize my life. This meant not associating with either members or "disgruntled" former members of the Worldwide Church of God. I threw them all away, another casualty.
Life really can be good, we just all have to concentrate on what we have left that the Worldwide Church of God couldn't take away. The more you get to know people, you begin to find out that most people have suffered a lot of pain independently of the Worldwide Church of God. This has helped me get rid of any residual bitterness. Since nobody gets out of life alive, all we can do is to help one another. I don't recall who wrote the play with the following memorable concept, but most people credit Shakespeare in times of question. A powerful man was asked if he would like his name placed in the Book of Life as one who loved the Lord. He thought for a moment, and replied "No, put me in the book as one who loves my fellow man!" When he passed, and got to see the Book of Life, his name was first on the list. I do love my fellow man, and hope these thoughts are of solace and value to those of you still in pain!
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