Optimism

The WCG was actually surprisingly optimistic. Yeah, yeah, I know what they taught, and I know that they expected some really awful stuff to happen in the short term. I also know why all those teachings existed, etc. I get it.

But compared to many other Christian or Christian-like denominations, the WCG was actually surprisingly long-term optimistic. For example, they did not believe in hell or eternal conscious torment – something that many Christian denominations do believe in, and with which scares the crap out of people. Instead, they were annihilationists instead, who simply believed that those who didn’t “get with the program” would just be destroyed in a lake of fire. They never taught that they’d be conscious throughout. Just poof, and gone.

Compared to many Christian theologies, that’s actually a step up. In point of fact, this has made some aspects of my Christian journey really easy, because it’s a bit of theology I never had to unlearn. “Hell doesn’t exist”, they say, put forth a lot of scripture and expect a lot of blowback, and I just say “okay, that’s cool”, and move on. I’m not invested in that.

And the “millennium” was actually something to (generally) look forward to. A time when Jesus would bodily come back to earth and set things right? In general terms, who wouldn’t want that? Watching all of the things that were causing trouble in the world at the time, like famine, nuclear proliferation, rampant pollution, etc., all be fixed at the snap of a finger? It’s no wonder that so many people bought into the hype! Even now a part of me feels cast adrift, as the fate of the world, and the fate of me, is no longer ensured, or even known. It could all go to heck at any moment and there wouldn’t be a deus ex machina to fix it all anymore.

And there was an optimism in the community, too – those that were “saved” or “came to the truth” were expected to live up to a standard of behavior – and that was enforced, too. Sure, people were people, but you generally knew what to expect from a “church person”. Crime, etc., was so rare in that community that when it did happen people were genuinely shocked. Of course it’s true that this was all outward behavior and there were some very black hearts in the church (I lived with one), but there was still a great deal of comfort in the predictability of people.

The Festival of Tabernacles was such an exuberant example of that unbridled optimism. It was specifically designed to be a microcosm of the coming millennium, and it was so perfect at that! For a week, life was good! Good food, many people who were just as excited as everyone else. An atmosphere even came over the city of excitement and promise. I’m sure even the locals felt it! It was an amazing experience, and it was another example of the optimism that permeated the cult, at least among the laymembers. The feasts still remain some of the high point memories of my entire life!

When it all went tango uniform, one of the things that impacted me the most was the loss of community, and the loss of predictability. The wider world doesn’t operate to those standards – people are both better and worse. There’s no standards of behavior now – anything goes. People want to hurt you, they’ll just hurt you. There’s no reason for them not to! Navigating through the world now is like stumbling through a minefield – all of the certainty, all of the commonality, all of the predictability – it’s just gone.

And, to be honest, I don’t really know how to cope in this world.

Even as the rose came with a lot of thorns, I miss the optimism of the WCG. The sense that things were going to get better if we waited just a little bit longer. The sense that we were all in it together and things would be set right soon. That’s gone now. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know who to trust, and I don’t know who to rely on. All of that imploded with the WCG.

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I Have Returned

I grew up in the Worldwide Church of God. This was a cult that had a strong impact on me and many others.

Years ago I was a blogger writing about this church/cult. My blogging at the time was angry and I had a lot of bridges to burn. I don’t regret doing that, as it was what it was at the time. I don’t feel that way now. I’m not particularly angry anymore. I don’t care to discuss or debate the theology of said cult – either whether it was right or wrong. I don’t really want to out people, like ministers or other members. I’m not particularly concerned about being a part of the “exit and support” community either. All those ships sailed years ago. Some people are still stuck in that world. I decline to follow suit.

But some aspects of the cult still affect my life, and probably always will. I’ve come to realize lately that I am, in almost all respects, a “third culture kid” – having been raised in the US but not having been a part of the dominant culture of the US at the time. The culture I was a part of was different – it was the culture of the WCG.

Some parts of it were good. Some were even very good, and I have some fond memories of many aspects of the cult. Some were bad, and some were very bad. Some were just there. But all are a part of me, and most are things that no one outside of that culture would ever understand.

So no one knows what makes me tick. No one understands why I might react the way I do to some things that others would not react to in that same way. I have been single for all my life, and I remain convinced that this is partly because I am so divorced from the dominant culture of the country that I am incapable of identifying with another person enough to maintain a relationship, and also the other way around.

I don’t fit in this culture. I go through every day and every night knowing that I am in a culture in which I don’t belong, even as it is partly the culture I was raised in. My home culture is gone. Everything I knew is gone – destroyed by the ravages of time. I am floundering in a world that is becoming more and more incomprehensible to me, and I don’t see how that will ever resolve.

In this blog, there are times when I may be complimentary to the cult. There are times when I may be scathing. There are times when I will call people out, and there are times when I will be discreet. I simply want to talk about my experiences – for good and for bad. That’s all. Because I think there needs to be a record. One devoid of anger, of recrimination, of bitterness. It is history. It was history. I want to share it. I want to see if I can help the world understand. I want to see if I can help the world understand who I am and why.

That’s all.

We’ll start now.

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