THERE WAS NO MUSIC
The funeral from hell
By Louise 1996
I walked up to the casket to see "Grandma", my nephew's grandma, and she lay there in character, stark white hair contrasted by bright pink ribbons on both sides of her forehead, flamboyant as only she could be. Make-up emanated-from her face, a no-no in the Philadelphia Church of god.(PCG) A little black stuffed dog nestled at her side, reminiscent of her love of a pet dog. Emotion gripped me, my throat clogged, and I moved away silently saying good bye to this lady, and another era.
I noticed there were no flowers. Only a cascade from the immediate family, and two other bouquets from relatives. "Typical", I thought. In mechanization, none of the PCGers "wasted" their money on flowers.
People mingled in, a mix, some friends some strangers the family, but most from the Philadelphia Church of God, and one from the local Worldwide Church of God.. As they entered, and their eyes met my unfaltering gaze, they quickly looked away or gave me a hateful and outraged look that said, "why are YOU here, what rights do YOU have, you are a Satanic disfellowshipped and marked beneath being spoken to human being, if that", Then they would turn and coldly walk past me like I was invisible. I suppose the fact that I had called a few of these "brethren" when I heard they had exited the Worldwide Church of God, to warn them of the folly of entering yet another cult, or reentering the same cult by another door, namely the Philadelphia Church of God, did not help my popularity. (Humor there), (I have to cue for emotion, because as you will see, it is necessary).
As they walked stiffly past me and my grieving sister, who had continued to visit and minister to her ex mother-in-law (few marriages survive the cult experience) they not only ignored me, but her and her children, as well.. The ignoring of me was one thing, but the blatant ignoring of a grieving relative, the mother of the grandchildren and the grandchildren themselves, spoke volumes I need not put into words.
I found an older lady that I knew from 9 years ago when I was back in the Worldwide Church of God . I sat by her and we talked about the changes in the Worldwide Church of God. She brought me up to date on a few of the people whom I had wondered if they were still there, and I asked her, then, where they had all gone. Her answer should not have surprised me, she had no clue and was not interested. Emotionless, she reported the departure of two hundred of her "Brethren" (whom she was supposed to love) and she had no idea what had happened to them, nor did she care. I mused mentally, "how typical". But at least she talked to me. I realized later, as I found my seat, and she followed me, that she was not a part of the PCG and was also an outcast, but just of a different flavor than me or my sister and kids. She was still in the Mother Cult, and the PCG was in charge of this "funeral".
As the lady from the Worldwide Church of God and I chatted, my sister sat down beside me. The other daughter-in-law of Grandma's entered, and when she saw this lady, promptly came over and warmly greeted her, giving a somewhat warm greeting to me as well. In my mind I pleaded, "please notice my grieving sister at my side and don't do what I expect you will". But of course, she did. In one second she cruelly looked through my sister as though she was not even sitting right tight beside me. I could only empathize for the feelings I knew must be surging through my sister. Disgust, and outrage, seeped into me. What a simply cruel and nasty thing to do. Any respect I had had for that person ebbed out of my being.
Not any of the others moved towards where we were sitting. Not feeling like asking for a boot in the face, I decided not to try and talk to anyone that I used to know as "beloved brethren". I think my sister and the old lady from Worldwide felt the same, we busied ourselves with small talk until it was time for the "service".
Right on cue, not a moment late as is their regimented practice, the bulk of the "congregation" consisting mostly of Philadelphia Church of God members filed to the middle of the room, leaving the edges for the rest of us. The grieving family moved to the front rows of the makeshift "church," (chairs set up in the funeral home). "No buildings, as usual for the membership, too expensive for the cults, let the members make do, spend the money at the top on whatever is not your business, only your money, I mused in my mind", I was angry, because the people deserve more.
The funeral directors, ignoring the curtain, went up to grandma, and took out her toy dog and took off her glasses and shut the coffin lid on her, right in front of the little kids and the family. The lump in my throat stirred again , but anger arose as well. "Another typical", I thought. "No thought given to the feelings of the family". I sat squirming, wishing I had not come, but determined to get through what I suspected was coming. I reminded myself as to why I was here. I came not for me, nor for the cult members, but for the grieving family and for grandma, to give my last respects, and I was beginning to feel like I was one of the few that came for that reason. I later left feeling I was right.
The arrogant man strode to the podium. He carried a bible and several yellow sheets of paper. There was no music. Suddenly his authoritative voice began. It was shrill and irritating for a man, I thought. He began by making a few token words about "Mrs. So And So," not once using her first and given name. He made no mention of her children, grandchildren, marriage and husband that had predeceased her, her life, anything about her as a person. All his comments were directed about what she believed. (I mentally wondered if he had ever bothered to find out what she really believed and later asked my sister if he had ever visited with Grandma. My sister said that he never had, to her knowledge.) Rushing through the few sentences, he began the "service". What followed next was 45 minutes of torturous philosophy that I remembered word for word from the Worldwide Church of God cult services that I had attended during my membership. I had not attended in 9 years, yet I recognized the same exact words, the same twisted scriptures, the same rhetoric and propaganda.
I found myself fighting the urge of going to sleep. "No", I urged myself, "do not drift, do not go into trance, listen and stay in control of your mind." I fought the urge to turn off, to go onto automatic. I fought for control. As I struggled, I looked around the room. The PCGers were all sitting at stark attention, glazed looks on their faces. I realized they trusted and were already in a trance. I looked at the family. The non PCGers were squirming and wiggling and looking at each other. The PCG family members were also at stark attention. It was so unnatural in comparison to the real funerals I had attended in the past 9 years. At real funerals, people cried and talked about the person in the casket. The deceased was the focus of attention. But not today. The nasty voiced minister droned on and on about things no one seemed at all interested in. I had heard it all before, hundreds if not thousands of times while in Worldwide, but the friends and strangers had not.
The three strangers sitting there together had their faces all wrinkled in frowns. Unbeknown to the Philadelphia Church of Goders or me at the time, one was a relative who is a lawyer. His face frowned and his gaze was intent on the source of the irritation. Time after time, I saw him grimace when some new twist was given to a well known bible scripture. The other man's face was fixed in an incredulous frown and the woman's brow furrowed with each extra biblical twist of scripture. It was painfully obvious to me that these three had brains and minds, and were non too happy with this funeral and the babble emanating from the pulpit.
For 45 dreadful minutes Grandma was completely forgotten in the mind of the of the windy minister. He did not speak of her, as he flitted from scripture to scripture, completely forgetting that he was not doing a "regular" cult service, saying as they do "turn to" as he flitted connecting unconnecting scripture to unconnecting scripture. Rolling eyes and "looks" passed back and forth through the "unconverted" (non-PCGers) as he unwittingly carried on as though he was "normal" and the rest of the world knew nothing. I couldn't help but smile with humor, as I saw what a fiasco this really was. But for my sister and her family, I would have even spoken out, when he completely negated the sacrifice of Jesus Christ with a twisted scripture. I had all I could do to hold my composure.
"This too shall pass", I reminded myself, and found myself in deep prayer, thanking God for His deliverance of me and my family from the cult, nine years ago. This was a heavy reminder of the bondage I was once in, just like these poor emotionless robotic PCGers. "How wonderfully lucky I am", I thought, and praised and thanked God from the depths of my being.
The "minister" was now in Job. I mused, "I wonder how badly he will twist this book". I never had understood Job, while in the Worldwide Church of God only to find out later that it was taught backwards, as were many other things. (I had learned that many things were taught backwards, only after extensive deprogramming study, with the aid of trained real ministers that did not have a hidden agenda, and respect the word of God.) Now the minister was in Genesis. "We never could get through a sermon without going "back to the beginning" as ol' Herbie used to say," I thought. Next he went to Ecclesiastics, and we had to hear all about not having an immortal soul. "How cruel, I thought, those little children get taught about the gift of everlasting life, given to those that accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, in Sunday school, and this jerk thinks nothing of screwing with their little minds. And everyone knows that you don't take doctrine out of the book of Ecclesiastics. Everyone except these poor, deceived, mind-controlled people. Typical and stupid and twisted and cruel", I mused.
Next to us, across the way from us, family members struggled with children that were getting antsy and bored with this droning voice going on and on and on, in the typical cult tradition. One little girl refused to be controlled. "The mommy has not been taught cult child management and control", I thought, as I smiled inwardly at the distraction. I was secretly glad to have a normal and sane anchor to connect with. "Keep it up baby", I silently encouraged. She did. The congregation that wasn't Philadelphia Church of Goders, focused on the little girl. I suspect glad as I was, for the sweet distraction. The PCGers sat stonily at attention, that would rival the military.
Finally, after several anticipated cessations to the "sermon", only to be disappointed by his going to yet another scripture, the minister stopped speaking, closed his bible put his extensive notes into it, and walked away from the podium. "No" my mind screamed. "You callous contemptible fool, you have even forgotten where you are in your pomp and vigor to recruit. You forgot to speak of the deceased, you let the family hang, in a muddle of twisted scriptures, without a word of condolence, sympathy, or gentleness, in total indignity." Perhaps my mental screams were heard, because the contemptuous man that I had come to totally disdain, turned and approached the podium again.
It was over. There was no music played, no kind words about the personality of grandma, nothing about her life and her contribution to mankind, no mention of the grieving relatives present, not even at the end of this horrendous mockery. The PCG minister returned to the podium and coldly and stiffly made the announcement that "this concludes our service, and you may fellowship for awhile if you like", and with those words walked stiffly away from the podium. There was no music, nothing. Just nothing. My mind reeled in revulsion. "Heartless, cold, emotionless, even chilling", I thought. "do they even know what fellowship means, and who does he think he is, giving us his permission to fellowship, as though we do not have the brains to speak to others, if we want to". With that thought, I decided to leave immediately. There was no more reason to remain. I told my sister I was leaving, she said she had to say a word of condolence to one relative, and would follow shortly.
I was the first one to exit. I was horrified at what I had seen and heard with my own two eyes and ears. I had to get out. I felt like I was suffocating. I wanted to shake the dust of those dead people off of me. As I walked to my car bits of scriptures flew through my mind. "The love of many will wax cold", "let the dead bury the dead", wolves will come in unaware and devour the flock", "Why do you call me "Lord, Lord", I never knew you". A new and startling, unsettling realization of the meaning of those scriptures coursed through me. The very absence of the local membership of the Worldwide Church of God, shouted to the heavens the coldness of their love. No one from Worldwide was there, only that one lone old lady. No one else had bothered to come. And the icy unfeeling of the PCG minister left me totally chilled. There is no love, I realized. Everything they touted was an illusion and plastic, not real, not true love, or they, the local townsfolk that had been or still are members of the Worldwide Church of God would have come to the funeral. I shuddered inwardly at the coldness. I realized it wasn't "the world" (as we had been taught in Worldwide Church of God) that Jesus was talking about, when he said, "the love of many shall wax cold", but he had been speaking of the love of many waxing cold from within the ranks of this kind of church, a cult, masquerading as a church. " This "church" is the wolf," I thought.
"Let the dead bury the dead". "No wonder Jesus spoke those words. The people inside were only shells of people", I thought. "Real people, real flesh and blood, loving people, care about each other and feel and can think. Not like those empty vessels, milling around robotically going through the motions, but without emotion of any kind. The love and life of them sucked out of them, as they performed on automatic pilot, navigated by the head guru. No wonder Jesus said that. No wonder", I thought.
"Devouring the flock from within", "perhaps meant from within the heart and soul of the man," I thought, "sucking out all that is normal, all feeling, all kindness, all love, leaving only empty shells of people, the walking dead Jesus talked about." Devouring from within the flock, perhaps has a deeper meaning than just an evil minister devouring the flock to himself, (as we were taught in the Worldwide Church of God it meant) but now I saw that each member of the Philadelphia Church of God and the Worldwide Church of God was empty and already devoured from within their very beings."
No wonder Jesus, the personification of love, said he would say he never knew these people. They spoke with empty words, and he will deny he ever knew them. Hypocrites masquerading as "God's people" and members of "His church". They didn't have a clue as to the gapping bleeding wounds of the grieving family. Long ago they have forgotten how to love. "No wonder Jesus spoke those words", I thought, "no wonder".
My sister came to the car. As we drove home, we discussed the ordeal we had just gone through, both conceding we had never been to anything so atrocious in our 50 plus years. We dubbed the experience " THE FUNERAL FROM HELL".
In the week that followed, I ran into a distant relative that had been present at the "funeral". I quipped, "How did you like the funeral from hell?" She responded by telling me that she had "stopped listening about 15 minutes into the "sermon". I thought, "it only takes 15 minutes to put a non-member into trance, interesting, and the members go through this week after week after week after week. No wonder I had such a problem deprogramming."
Her voice was continuing, "after about 15 minutes, and hearing several of the scriptures twisted, I was praying that none of this would penetrate the heart of any of the unsuspecting people there," she said. As she spoke I thought, "we were probably both praying at about the same time." She said, "I didn't appreciate him giving his whole philosophy, and it was obvious this was a selling job, and we were a captive audience. We couldn't very well leave. I thought it was going to be over in a few minutes, and then he went back to Genesis and started there and flipped all over. Every time I thought it was going to be over, he flipped to another scripture and talked some more. the children were good, but are not used to sitting so long, and it was really hard on the family members with little children." She went on to say, "the daughter (that isn't in the cult) knew this was a cult, but Grandma was a part of it, so the daughter honored her mother's wishes and had the service this way." I thought, "true love, sacrificing her own wishes to honor her mother." The relative and I made other small talk then and departed from each other, but not before agreeing that this was indeed a "funeral made in hell."
In the days that followed, my sister couldn't shake the experience. Depression set in, over the manner she and her children had been treated, and the way Grandma was sent on her journey to the beyond. She said, "I can't seem to shake the negative energy of those people and that day." I assured her that not one of those empty tombs (cult people) were worth her little finger.
My sister told me that her ex-husband felt the same way we did, and was also having a hard time recovering, not from his mothers death, but from his mother's funeral. Her ex-husband, grandma's son, is also an ex-Worldwider, and had been ignored by most of the cult members. He had also spoken to the non-cult family members and they were in agreement that there was a lack of comfort and completion, but rather unrest after the funeral.
Grandma's son said, "My funeral for mother was the week before she died, while I was with her. Those people treated me like I did not belong at my own mother's funeral. I wish I had not gone."
Written by Louise 1996
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