One might be well within the bounds of reason to surmise that being disfellowshipped and Marked means our access to inside information for the PCG is severely limited, if not downright cut off completely. However, you would also be mistaken! You see, while the prospect of being cut off from friends and family does keep many in the “pews” (chairs), it is not a policy that engenders loyalty. So, in truth, PCG is merely keeping spies in their midst that would happily fade away given the chance.
More’s the pity.
However, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and that is where we come in. AD has a network of insiders passing us vital documents, like the most recent Co-Worker letter!
It would seem the Building Fund is still $7Million in the red. So, Mr. Flurry loads up a co-worker letter and begins “firing off cliches with startling precision, like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition.”
First comes the scare tactics: Iran and Germany, blah, blah, blah. Also, our economy is failing and soon money will be useless, so give it all to us before it does so we can do God’s Work™.
Here is something Mr. Armstrong wrote in a March 26, 1968, co-worker letter that I want you to think seriously about. “As never before, your money [sic] is in danger!” If it was in danger then, what about now? Mr. Armstrong said at that time that the dollar could be devalued overnight. Well, how about that today?
So, if Mr. Armstrong said our money was in danger of being devalued overnight forty years ago, then it must be super de-duper in danger today! Seriously? Hmmm, let’s think for a minute…he was writing in the years before everything he was preaching about 1975 in Prophecy utterly failed to happen. So, since 1975 was still a viable date for Judgment Day, he was writing in that context. Since (as previously noted) nothing at all happened, then that means He Was Wrong–not that he was right then and now he must be Ultra Right (which, coincidentally, seems to be PCG’s political/ideological leanings).
Chalk up another revelation from the Memory Hole! You see, Flurry writes about how right HWA was forty years ago and leaves the failure of the 1975 context in the nearest memory hole, to be swept to the great furnaces below. Not today, folks.
So, the work is an investment, and they’re trying to grow their web and mobile presence, but…
SOMETHING IS WRONG!
Now comes the guilt trip that unsubtly pervades the remaining pages (only 5 pages long, so don’t run in fear).
…our building fund donations are $700,000 less than they were last year. I want you to think about that.
Before we built Armstrong Auditorium, we sent a letter to our Church members only, asking for pledges to the building fund. We used those pledges to determine how much we could invest in construction and loan repayment until all the construction costs were repaid in full. We’ve enjoyed using the auditorium for over a year now, but we still have a big balance left on the loan–over $7Million.
Have we kept our pledge to God that we would contribute toward this project until it is paid off?
Nice. Very clever. I see what you did there! Instead of asking “have you kept your pledge to god and paid the amount you pledged”, he asks if everyone has kept their pledge to keep paying until it is all paid for. Tricksy Apostleses.
I know this is a difficult time financially, and we do have unemployment problems among our members and supporters. But as Mr. Armstrong always said, God blesses us as our ways please Him. The needs of the work have never been greater. And if our ways are pleasing God, no recession or depression could make a bit of difference.
Obviously, he is aiming that statement at the terrible un-pledge-keeping lukewarm sheep, yet he is condemned out of his own mouth! He never thinks for a moment, in his unabashed hubris, that perhaps he and his church maybe aren’t pleasing god and so that’s why he isn’t blessing them. Nope. They’re wonderful! It is the stupid people who aren’t giving to the point they have nothing but pop-tarts to eat who are at fault!
This is not a money issue. God could send us a trillion dollars tomorrow, or tonight, or today to pay for his house. I’m not concerned about money. I’m concerned about something far, far greater!
This is a faith issue–a character issue.
And there we go. It isn’t about money, it is simply that the lack thereof is a sign–a sign you aren’t faithful enough and don’t have enough character! Now, let me browbeat you ’til you start giving money out of a confused correlation between money and character.
I seem to remember even Old Herbert saying something about “too much Protestantism seeping into the church”. A glossed-over section of the celebrated Protestant Work Ethic is that:
money = righteousness
If you are righteous, God will bless you financially. Of course, most religions tell you that, but the Protestants worked harder at it. I know correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation, but I think we can definitely establish a causal relationship between working hard and earning more money (more so than those who don’t work hard and just pray for the money).
It was interesting, earlier, how Flurry mentioned that he realized there were “unemployment problems”, and yet he can’t seem to imagine why that would be other than “goddunit” through the mechanism of cursing those insufficiently righteous (or as a test of faith). I’m sure he’s heard that unemployment is 9%. As of July, 2009, the US population was 307 million. 9% of that is around 27 million. That is approximately half a million per state. 500,000 unemployed per state. In short, it is an employer’s paradise. Don’t like one of your employees? Fire him–there’s 50 more in line behind him. Now, how many people are going to be fired for not working on Saturday, or for taking random other days off, or for taking two weeks off every autumn to go on holiday? That’s the world we live in, not the magical fairy world of “if you give lots of money to the Work then god will keep you in your job no matter if the unemployment rate is 19%”. Well, technically, that could be true, but as there is no clear (or even muddled) indicator of what the actual work of the actual god (whether of the christian persuasion, or some other) might be…then, yeah, statistically speaking, we don’t live in a world like that.
God loves to see us putting the needs of His Work above our own desires.
No doubt Flurry loves it, too. And no doubt the Divine Right monarchs of the Middle Ages loved to see the people do the same–they were Kings because God said so, so the heavy taxes we ask of you peasants is simply going to do the will of God, which is whatever the will of the King is because God made him King. So there! Game. Set. Match.
What?? (Flurry says) No, that’s not what I meant at all!
Did you notice that I addressed this letter to you as a co-worker with Christ? Maybe you never realized it, but that is what God has called you to be: a co-worker WITH Christ! Not just a worker for Christ, but a fellow-worker with Him!
You see? He’s not some corrupt Czar who claims “Divine Right”. No, he’s your fellow Comrade! We are all only Comrades in service to the Party (The Work), except he (Flurry) has the great responsibility (not privilege!) to be the Comrade Apostle! We must all have the attitude of Comarade (co-worker) Boxer when he says, “I will work harder”!
The steep drop in donations received between October 2010 through today ILLUSTRATES THAT MANY OF US ARE NOT FULFILLING OUR COMMITMENT TO GOD! I am not asking you to give something you cannot give, and if your situation has changed, God is aware of that and He expects you to respond accordingly. But the building fund is down over 30% in just one year. Surely that is cause for us to examine our commitment to the pledges we made to God.
This deeply concerns me. It is a strong spiritual indicator that something is not right with too many people in this Church. Let’s be honest! Isn’t that what Laodecianism and lukewarmness is like?
Well, it looks like there was a fair-sized spike in unemployment at around Oct. 2010, so perhaps that accounts for it. So, apparently the PCG isn’t pleasing god. Flurry said a couple pages ago that “if our ways are pleasing to God, no recession or depression could make a bit of difference”. So, there you have it. Your ways are not pleasing God (or there is no god to please…) and your loyal minions are either being fired for taking two weeks off every year for some cooky religious festival, or seeing their wages cut as the lesser-of-two-evils option; and with high unemployment, there’s nothing they can do about it.
But, you know, it is still the sinful sheeple’s fault:
After all, if there’s sin in Israel, we all pay the penalty. That’s the way it was with ancient Israel when someone sinned, and that’s the way it works.
Remember back in school, where if someone talked after the teacher’s final, frustrated ultimatum, then the whole class was punished instead of just the loudmouth jerk? Remember how unfair you thought that was? And remember how now that you’re older you realize how fair, just and wise it was? Yeah, me neither. But when religion is involved, it is a far more effective tactic than when we were all teens who found sticking-it-to-the-man and the esteem that brought from our fellows to be worth the punishment we got. Now, with the whole “you’re worthless and God is everything and your sins are sinking the whole Work”, well, people who believe that sort of thing are now suffering a guilt trip that could take them to the moon and back.
He then waxes all eloquent about how he got a letter from a lady in California who thought the Auditorium was so beautiful and holy she wanted to almost take her shoes off before entering. What a godly attitude she had! Rather reminds me of the river crossing scene from Enemy at the Gates, where the boat commander is reading Patriotic letters from mothers all across Russia exhorting their sons to “not take one step back” and “fight hard for Mother Russia”, etc. Maybe this woman from Cali actually wrote this and felt this way. Maybe it was a product of the Minitrue.
Actually, this story begins with a line or two on page 3, but the majority of it is here. Flurry starts talking about King David numbering the people of Israel–in a round about way of getting to the part where David makes some type of monetary sacrifice in order to buy some guy’s threshing floor so he could build an altar to god there. Flurry also adds a bit about “see what happens when we focus on the physical, like David did when he listened to Satan’s temptations to number the people”. Of course, that is debatable. The SAB compares I Chron. 21 with II Sam. 24, finding that in one version God was angry with Israel and “moved” David to count them so he could then curse them and kill a bunch of them. The other version says Satan tempted David. In either case, 700K Israelites die and David suffers nothing (other than the anguish of his arrogance at numbering the people–which if God moved him to do it is just some sick irony).
But besides the side point of not looking to the physical, the main point of including that story was to show that David would not accept the threshing floor as a gift from a grateful subject, but determined to sacrifice something for it–he would PAY for it. So, David, King, paid full price for the place. That likely wasn’t much of a sacrifice, what with having all the wealth of the nation’s taxes and trade to call upon. But, the Great King’s blessings of wealth are somehow glossed over in an over-zealous attempt by Flurry to make sure the lesson we carry away from this story is:
He [David] realized he had sinned, and he wanted to give an offering to God, and he wanted God to know there was some SACRIFICE in the offering he gave! It wasn’t something he could easily give. He gave something that really made him know he was giving an offering to God.
Well, unsurprisingly, there is a lot of uncertainty about what a shekel actually was, but one source I found made it that 600 shekels (the price for the threshing floor David bought) would equal approx. $298K. I doubt that hurt his coin purse all that much. But we should take away the idea that it did, and we should emulate his shining example and give ’til it hurts. And just to reinforce the message
2 Cor. 8:1-2 has a beautiful New Testament example of that same attitude. There Paul commends the Macedonians for giving liberally–but he says they gave liberally out of their deep poverty. There was some pain in their giving. That is a wonderful attitude as well.
The rest is the closing statements, something about “God loves a cheerful giver”, we’re at a critical juncture in the work, yadda, yadda.
It was a PBS pledge drive on fundamentalist religious steroids. Guilt and scare you into giving ’til it hurts, cheerfully, and spending extra time on your knees and in the PCG’s books that explain how you should interpret the words written in your bible. So, keep your nose in our indoctrination mechanisms, stay on your knees (to remember your place, sheeple!), and use all your available money for the building fund instead of buying a car that doesn’t have to be worked on every weekend.
Do these things and the Nine will love and bless you, and you shall be prosperous, even in a bad economy, even when giving 20% + BF (building fund) and Holy Day offerings out of your net unemployment stipend and food stamps.