I always enjoy reading Ed's mail. He meets some of the most interesting people.
Recently one genius pointed out that we should not condemn the Worldwide Church of God for its practices because, after all, it never conducted an inquisition (like the Catholic church did). And it did lead people to Jesus.
Such people, of course, rarely give their full names, and one is left to wonder if they are, perhaps, Worldwide Church of God administrative types writing incognito, trying to defend themselves without revealing their true identities. Perhaps little joe tkach himself, or one of his sandbox buddies, could be the author of such "reasonable" emails.
As a teenager in the Sixties I sat in the IOOF hall in Fresno, CA on many loooooong Saturday afternoons and listened to the "Plain Spoof" about the coming religious millennium (not to be confused with the current, real millennium). The longest of those long afternoons were the ones when Gerald Waterhouse held forth. Waterhouse was the acknowledged "expert" about what the "kingdom" would really be like.
Which is to say that he had formulated the most intricate fiction about what he thought the millennium would be like. In Waterhouse's version, we (the "elect") were in complete and vengeful control of the entire world. He made us laugh by describing how we, as spirit beings, would snatch an aggressive driver off the freeway, suspending him a hundred feet in the air, and sneer, "Where ya goin? What's yer hurry?" And then let him hang there for an hour before setting him down again.
It was great fun.
I think all of us, adults and kids alike, imagined how great it would be to be able to "get back at" all the assholes we knew. And when Jesus came back, according to Worldwide Church of God doctrine, members of the Worldwide Church of God would enjoy iron-fisted control over the entire population of the world. We would "teach" them the "right" way. We would force them to keep the commandments, the holy days, the sabbath, make them pay tithes, etc. We would literally (and this is an exact, word-for-word quote) "force them to be happy"!
Has anyone reading this seen the recent movie The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc? I highly recommend it for every Christian (past/present/future) and every wannabe spirit being. The entire movie is an excellent historical, but the last thirty minutes are absolutely riveting. Here you see a girl who was a true believer (of the catholic faith) facing the authorities of the church in which she believed. They put her to death in the most hideous fashion (graphically depicted on screen) that anyone can imagine. And she was one of their own!
Of course we were taught that we would rule the world "in love", and "compassion". But how stupid do you have to be to believe that? If the ministry could not rule its own members with love and compassion, how much love and compassion would be shown to outsiders? Especially if they were (and they would be) hostile?
And how about those members, those slightly crazy ones, the dysfunctional hardliners who had been battered and abused by the ministry themselves, and fancied themselves as being righteous? How would they have handled the infidels placed under their care?
Remember the parable of the talents? How the man who had gained five talents was given rulership over five cities? And the man with ten talents got ten cities? Think about that for a minute. Then think about some of the people you went to church with. If each of those people was given cities to rule (with complete autonomy to run them), how many of those cities would you want to live in?
Hell, I can barely stand to live in a country ruled by Bill Clinton, and he isn't malicious (he's just a fool). Put me under the control of some idiot Worldwider with delusions of grandeur and I just might have to take to the hills and join the partisans.
The Worldwide Church of God, of course, handled dissidents not with physical punishment, but with exile. Disfellowshipping was, for many, a mental torture far more exquisite than anything that might be produced in a dark dungeon with sharpened blades and hooks. For people who truly believed that their only access to God was through the Worldwide Church of God, this was (like excommunication for a Catholic) a truly effective punishment.
But what would happen if, let's say, Jesus did actually come back and put the Worldwide Church of God in control of the whole wide world? When you have literally billions of people who don't accept Worldwide Church of God theology and want no part of it? How are you going to punish them for their disobedience?
"Okay, Omar, you're out of the church. You can't come to the potlucks any more, you don't graduate from Spokesman Club, and your subscription to the Plain Truth is canceled!"
I'm sure Omar is all broken up. The only thing he wants to do is figure out where East is and start bowing down to Allah three times a day.
But that's not allowed, is it? Allah is pagan. This is the Millennium, and we have to "teach" Omar to be happy. Can't have him chanting mantras and smoking hashish.
What to do?
Well, golly-bum! Gonna have to make it a little tougher on old Omar. Got to get his attention. Better break out the old 2 x 4 (another Waterhouseism). Gonna make that boy happy, in spite of himself. Got to show him the right way.
And it's not just Omar. It's Kareem and Ludwig and Giuseppe and Isoroku and Deng-Xhiou and Raj-pah and Vladimir and Winston and Lee Roy. It's six million million individuals who don't have a damned clue what it is they're supposed to be learning and couldn't give a shit less if they tried. And a little less than 100,000 Worldwiders to do all the training (plus or minus a few dozen resurrected biblical personalities who also don't have the faintest clue what's going on, since they've been dead for over two thousand years).
How do you control such a mob?
There's only one way. You've got to get physical.
That means, you've got to make it hurt. To get their attention.
And when you do that, they're going to fight back.
And then it's going to get bloody.
Voila! The second Inquisition!
Remember the scripture that says something to the effect that "they will kill you, thinking they do God a favor"? That was applied to enemies of Worldwide Church of God. But it's true of any organization that believes it has a direct line to God. The Nazis thought they were doing God a favor when they butchered six million Jews (and four million assorted other "undesirables") in the name of (ironically, a Jew) Jesus. The Catholics thought they were doing God a favor by burning "heretics" at the stake. And, given the opportunity, the Worldwide Church of God would have been doing God a favor by committing unspeakable atrocities against all the "unconverted" who resisted the "plain truth" after the return of Christ.
Do you find any of this hard to believe? I don't. I know full well what would happen if the Worldwide Church of God (past or present) ever gained control of the entire world. However, since it has not happened, what I believe or think I know remains only an opinion. I have mine and you have yours.
I pray to God that neither of us ever has occasion to find out who is right.
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