Hook, Line and Sinker
I'd like to add something I hope will be complementary to the comments in "Nobody Held A Gun To Your Head". (Actually, I feel more like somebody took a club to my head.)
Herbert W. Armstrong didn't use a gun. He used hook, line, and sinker. There was a hook in Herbert W. Armstrong's bait that was very effective, and that can still be hanging on long after we've left. It's taken me a couple of years of conscious attention to it to deal with it. We all know what it is. I just want to highlight it and give it the attention it deserves.
There are lots of ways to get someone to follow you, do your bidding, and give you their money. People have been coming up with them for as long as there have been people. Herbert W. Armstrong used more than one. One very effective method, was this:
1. Would-be leader decides he has had a special calling from God (might actually believe it; or might just be cooking up a business scheme-the latter works better) 2. Would-be leader shares this calling with others, offering them a special calling from God too 3. Some listeners take the bait, and join "the elect." They're hooked, skewered, and headed for the cleaners.
As a member of the elect, life is pretty simple. As a specially-chosen person of God, you of course receive your information by a special channel, not from books or certainly not by way of human reason. That special channel is your leader, who of course receives the information from God.
You need to listen closely, because you can't find this information anywhere else. You can't arrive at it using your own powers of reason. In fact, it will seem to run contrary to your common sense. Just ask the leader if there's any doubt about that. You've really been had.
How you get from #2 to #3 is a study in the human mind and how it tends to operate in fantasy. I won't attempt to do that study here. But becoming part of "the elect" is the hook that doesn't want to let go. From that point on you build your life around it. At least the part of your life that is shaped by your thoughts. It becomes the source of answers for all the hard questions. In fact there aren't any more hard questions-now you've got the answer to everything (once you've read all the booklets, anyway).
Many of us eventually, for one reason or another, "fell from the truth." We no longer qualified as part of the elect. Maybe we were booted out, or maybe we came to our senses before it reached that stage. But if we counted ourselves among the elect for any great length of time, we had built (for those of us who were hooked as kids) or rebuilt (as adults) our lives around that idea, and that idea doesn't just go away. It lies embedded deep inside and contaminates our thinking, even as we struggle to move on.
How do you remove the hook? I can't answer that for everyone. I know what I have had to do. First, I had to notice that it was still there. Then it actually began to dawn on me that I might be a person just like anyone else. Then I began to notice, here and there, that I really was a person just like anyone else. I opened up to the idea and accepted it, and over time I found I could function as a commoner, no longer having to think I was one of "the elect."
Still, it feels like there is a gaping hole where that hook was. There is a great mystery surrounding the human race and where we came from. It's hard to resist filling in the missing information with fantasy or fable. Scientists succumb to the temptation just as other folks do. It's hard for people to say "I don't know."
There is much we can learn about ourselves. We may not solve the larger mystery in our lifetimes, but we can each personally shed light on it, if we don't squander our time on fantasies. For those of you who say you came to Worldwide Church of God searching for the truth, I challenge you to keep on searching. This is a frontier that no one controls. You can do original work and exploration.
But original work is just that-work you do yourself. You can't have someone else do it for you. Those of us who have survived to this stage have learned valuable lessons that we can use to keep from straying off into fantasy again. If you really want to learn the truth, and not just have someone hand it to you, there's no better time or opportunity than now to dig in and search for it.
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