March 15, 2005

Thought So

The shootings at the church I mentioned yesterday have an interesting twist. The church is a splinter group of a splinter group from the church I was brought up in, Herbert Armstrong's "World Wide Church of God".

Ah, nasty nostalgia. This all sounds so familiar:

The Living Church of God was founded in the mid-1990's by Roderick C. Meredith after he was kicked out of one of the many groups that splintered from the Worldwide Church of God upon the death of its leader, Herbert W. Armstrong. It claims 7,000 members in 288 congregations. Many of them, like the one here, meet in hotels or other public spaces with itinerant pastors.

The Living Church holds that people from Northwest Europe are descendants of the Bible's 10 lost tribes of Israel, "possessors of the birthright promises and accompanying blessings" of Abraham's descendants, according to a statement of beliefs from its Web site. It observes the Sabbath on Saturday and counsels members to remain apart from the secular world by not participating in juries, politics or the military.

The church's view of history, which asserts that humankind is moving inexorably toward the "end times," when the world will go through a series of cataclysms before the second coming of Christ, is not uncommon among evangelicals. While most evangelicals eschew specific predictions about "end times," however, Dr. Meredith preached in a recent sermon broadcast internationally that the apocalypse was close, warning members to pay off credit-card debt and hoard savings in preparation for the United States' coming financial collapse. -

I remember that... I wonder if they keep all the Holy Days and FOT, and keep 'clean' etc. I can't keep from being slightly impressed by the way HWA managed to predict the end of the world several times and yet people didn't call his bluff as each date came and went. I rememeber Mum telling me that when they joined the church, people were saying how lucky she was because the world was going to end before my older brother started school!

I think I should start a religion that caters to people who prefer punishment and guilt to love and happiness. The World-Wide Church of Pain. You must fast 3 days every week, and abstain from any activities you particularly enjoy. You must give me 30% of your income (that's gross income, not net, people. Don't force me to audit) and make career-limiting moves as often as possible. You may have sex but only if you don't enjoy it.

And in this way, the glory and love of the Lord may be witnessed throughout the earth...

Posted by phreq at March 15, 2005 07:13 AM | TrackBack

"I think I should start a religion that caters to people who prefer punishment and guilt to love and happiness."

Sorry, the Catholics got there first.

Posted by: Wally at March 15, 2005 07:55 AM

The problem with catholicism is that it doesn't result in 30% of your income being given to me.

Maybe I should build gothic-looking churches and put a sign up outside saying "Your Local Cathiolic Church". I'd have a strong following among the illiterate, myopic and unobservant-yet-practising.

Posted by: phreq at March 15, 2005 08:07 AM

Oh yeah... and if the end time is nigh, wouldn´t it make sense to run up more credit card debt rather than pay it off?
Send the bailiffs to the charred remains of my neighbourhood, suckers!

Posted by: Wally at March 15, 2005 09:30 AM

Obviously, God regards non-payment of credit-card debt an ultra-serious sin. "Look, guys, this isn't like the no-killing-(except-in-a-good-cause)-thing. VISA is very strict!"

Posted by: phreq at March 15, 2005 03:21 PM

heh. a mate at school formed her own religion. the only rule, as i recall was "worship meeeee". i believe she was open to bribes also. she was a pretty cruisey deity - too lazy to smite OR bless her followers. plus she wasn't too strict on commandments (well, i think she forgot the few that she did come up with!)

Posted by: Zephfi at March 15, 2005 04:42 PM

Just wondering, was the church you grew up in a bad one or is it only this splinter group that has gone a bit odd? It sounds fairly dramatic, I didn't really think we had much of that in NZ but I might be sheltered!

Posted by: Anonymous at March 15, 2005 08:35 PM

I want to be an entity that cause people to start religeons becuase they dont want to own up to my exsistance or require confort from the thought of me. I want to be the need for faith not the object of it.

ooh ooh ohh I want minions too.

Posted by: Vincent at March 15, 2005 08:46 PM

The church we were brought up in was weirder than that one... (The original and the craziest!)

The rules changed a little over time but they basically said:
- No make-up for women
- No trousers or short hair for women
- Only men may preach or lead hymns
- No birthdays
- No Easter, Christmas etc
- Only eat meat/fats from animals that have split hooves and chew the cud
- Only eat fish that have both fins and scales
- Only eat birds with a crop
- White bread is evil
- Keep apart from the world and worldly friendships
- Go to church on Saturday and once a year go away for an 8-day retreat where you go to church everyday and frantically spend 10% of your yearly income.
- the Leader (H. Armstrong) can do no wrong
- even when his son is caught committing incest

Posted by: phreq at March 16, 2005 06:55 AM

... but the *best* memory of the church was "de-leavening" the house (yeast and raising agents become unaccebtable for 7 days a year). It was so important to do it properly - everything got cleaned and inspected. I remember scrubbing individial Lego blocks to get rid of any hidden crumbs.

Obsessive-compulsive? No, just in mortal dread of the Almighty. And Armstrong.

Posted by: phreq at March 16, 2005 07:00 AM

Excuse my email address - I have had so much spam and stuff lately that I think has come in from using sites like this that I try not to give out details any more - I normally enter a nice-ish one but I opened my email today and had thirty bloody "hot naked chick does housework" emails and I am not impressed. Enough of htat.

As for your church:

Wow, that's um intense. It sounds sort of like the brethren? Why all the stuff about food though - why would it matter if the animal didn't have a split hoof or no fins and scales? It's unusual.

So why did you leave (sorry - I assume you've left?). Was it hard/did they threaten you or anything? I have read a little about cults and it sounds like normally they aren't keen on letting gog of people once they join?

Posted by: Anon at March 16, 2005 03:59 PM

"Only eat birds with a crop"

This just gave me the best mental image :-). I'm all for novel cutlery and the use of bedroom gear (or, possibly, equine gear, but who really has horses?) in the kitchen - don't even get me started on the cake mixers - but that just seems needlessly complicated :).

Posted by: Rachel at March 16, 2005 07:54 PM

Rachel - were you imagining eating birds, with a crop, or eating 'birds with a crop'. *l* cos both images are kinda weird (first one sounds like some sort of challenge; the second one.. i have no idea what a cropped bird looks like actually..

i'm a lil suspicious about any religion that places guidelines over stuff that doesn't really have anything to do with being a decent human being. of course, i do recall that after reading about Lot and his wife, i was a bit sceptical about a lot of the whole 'do this cos the bible says so'(a pillar of salt just for looking backwards? please!)

Posted by: Zephfi at March 16, 2005 09:06 PM

I think the food laws regarding meat etc made sense at the time when they were invented. The Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years wouldn't have been too sanitary. The ruminant-only mammal thing was probably to keep them away from disease-carrying, scavenger carnivores, like hyena and pigs. The things with sea-life and birds are kinda the same - no carrion-eaters, going with the 'safest' meat options.

The WWCG kinda imploded very very messily when the Leader popped his clogs. His 2IC took over, then he died in short order. The 2IC's son took over, and basically said "All the rules you've been following are a load of bullshit."

It was one of the worst times I can remember when growing up. My parents were so lost, hurt and betrayed; yet being them, they couldn't say so. It seemed to me that they just got more angry and lonely and rigid as the blinkers were lifted.

The WWCG does continue in a dish-water imitiation of all 'main-stream' theologies. But the break-up of that church hurt so many people so deeply - some of the members were 2nd generation with young kids of their own. That's when most of the splinter groups formed - all these betrayed people searching desperately for familiarity.

Posted by: phreq at March 17, 2005 05:29 AM

I was there too... WWCG, from age 2 - 23. Not the best time in my life to put it mildly. No sports, not allowed to make friends 'in the world', keep quite and read the bible (actually memorise) from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, vacuum even the pockets of your pants for crumbs at easter (unleavened bread) - and left feeling bitter, mislead and hurt. 11 years later - I am still a bit pissed off at the loss of those 21 years.

Posted by: AC at December 23, 2005 09:55 AM
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