The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God
 

Know Thyself

Jim Baldwin

 

Know Thyself  - Ancient Greek counsel          

           We, the undersigned [etc, etc] do hereby formally and humbly apologize

            to the members and former members of the Worldwide Church of God.

            NONE of us are individually responsible for ALL the following but we had

            a part in it because we subscribed to and supported the one, HWA, who

            is ultimately responsible for it all.

 

This is the preamble to the WCG  Ministerial Apologies page on this site. I recall my first visit to the page some years ago when there was a previous webmaster. The whole thing smacked of an attitude of a Greater-Than-Thou listing a bunch of sins you have to agree to and then demanding you to humble yourself prior to groveling at the feet of the Great One. It was a complete turn-off for me and I wondered how any man with an ounce of self-respect could put his name to such a document. Understandably, few have agreed to "humbly ask your forgiveness."

 It reminded me of the attitude demanded of one prior to being baptized in Herb's cult. One had to see himself as a complete wretch before the minister would agree to baptize you. Some underwent a number of visits before they were humble enough. It was all designed to break your spirit and turn you into a zombie ready to surrender all for the sake of the thugs and sycophants in Pasadena.

 The religious overtones are again apparent in an answer the webmaster gave later to one who asked why more hadn't signed the Apology list. Twenty reasons were given and half of them were, "They are not repentant, therefore they cannot apologize." We all know the religious signification of that word: repentance. Again, some superior person is issuing a judgment against perceived lesser beings. It stinks.

 Repent, repentance, penitent are the words of religion. A penitent is a person under church censure but admitted to penance or reconciliation especially under direction of a confessor. And that confessor is the priest who hears confession or who is one's regular spiritual guide. It's all about the Superior and the inferior. It appears the webmaster of the time had a problem--an understandable problem considering his WCG experience.

 This brief paper is not written to bash the former webmaster but I did want to point out a problem with the idea of demanding the exWCG ministry to apologize. Emotions were evidently running high obscuring the editor's objectivity.

 Now I might ask: Just what would happen if by some miracle the ministerial apology list suddenly swelled to a hundred names? Would we all sleep better knowing that some folks had gotten the picture? Would our lives suddenly be lifted up to broad, sunlit uplands where singing and joy reign? Would our tithes return? Would our wasted lives suddenly and richly be reversed? Would we finally be at peace with ourselves?

 No. Nothing would change. And this speaks of the emptiness of such a demand.

The demand was borne of extreme anger, not rational thought. And yet many still want to see some ministers humbled in revenge. Is it any wonder we don't have more wx-ministers visiting the PT site and joining the forum? Look at the emotions stirred up by the arrival of a former WCG pastor recently. He opened himself to examination and some hosed him. Rank emotionalism again. It stinks!

 Now I don't intend to denigrate the few who have signed the apology. That is their business but hopefully they might now reconsider their action with more understanding.

 I have written before on this site about the subject of blame. I suspect that few found any help in it as I ignored the present and went back to the time of the 1830s and 1840s when the the modern madness of adventism was used by one William Miller. He was a crackpot failure in his prophecies but some saw a business in continuing the the madness under new  corporate names and with new preachers. (One definition of madness is to keep repeating the same action with the same adverse results).

 But Miller and his associates were only a relatively modern manifestation of religious nuttiness leading to many destroyed lives. Who influenced Miller? And

who was the influencer of that person? See? How far do we really have to go back to find the cause of our wasted lives? Who is to blame? The answer was given succinctly and cleverly some years ago from a comic strip character. "We have met the enemy and he is us" was the pithy statement. US! When the lead-in quote says HWA was, "ultimately responsible for it all," it misses by much since to be the ultimate of anything is to arrive at the most remote in time or space. The ultimate is the last result, incapable of further analysis. HWA in no way met that requirement. The hucksters and hawkers of religion have a long and profitable history playing to the weaknesses in us all.

  But most of us cannot stand the thought that we might somehow be responsible for our own captivity. So we are continually looking about for the person or personages to blame. The blame must lie outside ourselves we think. We want to think of ourselves as generally wise, filled with common sense, rational and clear-headed.

Well, was that assessment before or after we joined the WCG? It's part of the self-deception we play on ourselves. It is difficult to look within for the source of blame. It hurts. We don't like hurt so we play the finger-pointing game. And then demand an apology from those we think hurt us. Some refuse to accept any personal complicity in their ruined lives. It's too much to confess.

 The quote I gave at the top of this paper said, in part:

 

            "...we subscribed to and supported the one, HWA, who was ultimately responsible for it all."

 WRONG! Herbert was merely a continuation of those answering the call to come fill the cup of the thirsty. HWA, the Dr. Feelgood of our time, wrote one time in his mostly fictional autobiography a principle of business he'd learned from an early mentor. It had to do with pleasing the customer on which everything depends. "Jones pays the freight. Give Jones what he wants" went the business wisdom. And it's true. If "Jones" doesn't get what he wants, he'll seek elsewhere. HWA never forgot that advice.

 The cult was run on the old business dictum. As the pastors went about doing the deeds of their commander, Herb, they got what they wanted--a paycheck, some enforced respect, and a job with no heavy lifting. Then they turned around and gave the general membership what they wanted--an illusory, fantastic plan, hope or story, i.e. a pipe dream. Jones got what he wanted. Jones paid the freight. Truly, "we subscribed to and supported the one, HWA." So, who really is to blame? We got what we paid for--for awhile--until the balloon burst.

 One in the forum wrote:

 

            We all joined WCG because it fulfilled something we wanted, no,  that should be something we needed.

 

The present webmaster recently wrote, "We all were [wrong]." Wise observations by two.

 So, where does this paper lead to a conclusion?

 I would suggest that our web host consider dumping the ministerial apology page. It smacks of self-righteousness and vindictivness. Cheap revenge is sought. It doesn't do justice to this much-needed archive of helpful information. It's ineffectiveness is boldly pointed out by the tiny number of signers. It has even become necessary now to sign up ministers against their will. And it is a continuing fount of anger and resentment. Sure, let's never forget but let's also look to healing. Let's start to put to rest the charge that the PT site is filled with bitter kooks. Are we able to rise above that?

 Then, the next suggestion is to embark on a course of trying to honestly understand the self. Recognize that one's own inner needs leads to seeking answers that are all too ready to be supplied by someone for money or other benefits. There are many purveyors of alleged answers. Every one of them is suspect. Learn to ask questions, pointed questions--especially of yourself.

 In my 12-year passage from brain-dead goon to slightly enlightened observer and questioner, I have read many helpful books. Each has added to the mix of answers, better questions, and insight into the human condition. I now know myself as a human being a whole lot better. I read most of the available WCG materials to become entrapped over 40 years ago. Now, as an exiter, with each new piece of information I add to my personal freethought archive. That, I think, is a worthy goal for anyone in spite of the truth that hurts.

 This Painful Truth site has busied itself with finger-pointing for years. How about some self-analysis for a change?

 I recall after my exit some dozen years ago. I had written an exit paper that had fallen into the hands of a young man as naive as I was 25 years earlier. He was excited that a WCG minister was embarking on a fresh start (he thought) to give birth to a really true church. He asked me to send him copies of my booklets as I wrote the truth. I told him to go get a life. I didn't hear from him again. Apparently, I didn't give that "Jones" what he wanted. The incident was illustrative as to just how easy it was to start up in the religion business. And it has happened hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of times over the centuries as people seek out some "Great Ones" to take responsibility for their lives.

 Look, we have all experienced a terrible thing in our WCG involvement. Some of us may have suffered irreparable damage. Now we are trying to make the most of what years are left. I am just sharing my experience of 12 years of recovery while sadly watching many of my fellow fools continue the mad search for meaning among the WCG spin-offs. They are still trying to find someone to fill their cup of need. They are still willing to pay the freight.

 

Jim Baldwin (WCG 1967-1992)

 

"Know thyself?" If I knew myself I'd run away.    -Goethe

 

Dang, Jim.... Whatever do you REALLY mean???? Food for thought here...

Editor

 

10/26/2006 [Edited to correct my earlier bad editing -- Editor]


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