Saturday, 30 May 2015

Gerry Flurry - buying credibility

A friend who is far more observant than I am pointed out that Gerry Flurry, Grand High Poobah of the Philadelphia Church of God, has bought a full page ad in the current BAR.

Back in 2012 I mentioned Flurry's effort to curry favour with the archaeological community in Israel, and in particular Eilat Mazar. The specific issue centred around the "seals of Jeremiah's captors" (see Excuse me Ms Mazar, are you nuts?) and coverage in the selfsame BAR. Here's an excerpt from that post:
Does Ms. Mazar, or the BAR, know anything about Armstrong Auditorium or Herbert W. Armstrong College?  Do they know about the separated families, their policy on medical intervention, that the college is unaccredited?
Do they know that both are controlled by the Philadelphia Church of God, led by Gerald Flurry, who claims to be "That Prophet" (John 1:21 KJV).  A man who writes: "God's ministers must... lead God's people to magnify my office -- which is really God's office." (Royal Vision, July-Aug. 2000, p. 30).
Does Ms. Mazar know that Flurry, a British- Israelite, teaches that Anglos are the "true Israelites", not Jews. 
Does she, or the BAR, know or care how Flurry's ministers operate?  Even down to telling their tithe-paying members how to make an approved cup of coffee?
Now the seals have come back to haunt us yet again as Gerry continues to do what we all knew he would, attempt to gain maximum credibility by association with his mates in Israel. If you throw money at a convenient cause you hope to get something back in return, and indeed that's what has happened. In a propaganda coup (see exhibit A, the YouTube video) for what is widely regarded as one of the more unpleasant schisms of Armstrongism, the seals have been on exhibit at the Flurry cult HQ in Edmond, Oklahoma - apparently since 2012 (though somehow I doubt tens of thousands of folk have been on a pilgrimage to Edmond just to view the them.)

The current ad is a "last call" to see the exhibit before it presumably wings its way back to Israel.

Apparently the Israeli authorities haven't "wised-up" yet to the nature of their good friend Gerry and his chequebook strategy for being taken seriously. Or perhaps they just don't want to know.

Unfortunately for Ms Mazar it's a two-edged sword: as the old saying goes, "if you sleep with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas." Ms Mazar's academic credibility is not helped by cuddling up with the PCG in return for favours sought.

Friday, 29 May 2015

More from LU President Michael Germano

Give Michael Germano some credit, he doesn't mince words.

But is that a good idea on a Facebook account in which he identifies himself as president of Living University?

Some more quotes from LCG's leading scholar and accreditation expert. Read closely, consider deeply, and be ye edified brethren.
Multiculturalism, a brain child of the left is wholly Un-American, anti-Christian and a disaster. 
So, if the female-dominated public schools continue to feminize our children left wing liberals (so called progressives--what an oxymoron joke, progressives?) will have plenthy [sic] of effeminate pantywaists to keep them in power. Poor sick America. 
The other screen shots available on request
After that lefty town hall held by Linked-In I cancelled my account. Some lefty stooge formerly with Google wants his taxes raised. He can donate to the feds if he wants but apparently he has no job thanks to Obama. The true liberal--wants to give the shirt off your back. I pay enough already. Facebook keeps changing things for the worse. What do we have, Silicone [sic] Valley postponed adolescents who have to be different everyday to feel good? Tomorrow I am shutting my account down on this insane site as well. All the best to you and yours.
It's enough to make a Fox News host blush. And my personal favourite...
Why is Obama populating the government with lantern-jawed women? Is he making some point about "Ugly Americans?
Doesn't like non-Anglo cultures, doesn't like women teachers, doesn't like public schools, comes across as a paranoid homophobe, objects to paying taxes, doesn't seem to like young people much, and rails against women who don't fit his ideal physical stereotype...

Nice guy! Pity the poor students who have to study (if that's the right word for what they do at LU) under this man's antediluvian authority.

NOTE: Gary Leonard has blogged some further information about Dr Germano's puzzling inconsistencies over the years. You'll find it here.

Michael Germano - the mask slips

Michael Germano is known as the architect of Ambassador University's accreditation - which was a short lived accomplishment with AU being disestablished soon afterward.

Following a period in the wilderness he then reappeared on the Living Church of God payroll with the job of heading up Living University, a back-room operation with pretensions to gaining its own accreditation. Germano's expertise in the accreditation process was clearly a huge factor from LCG's perspective, and Germano appears to have dutifully followed the new party line ever since.

Fair enough. The position is clearly well paid, and its not easy getting a plum position at a proper institution. But what does Dr Germano really think about education at a tertiary level? In what regard does he hold higher education in general? If you were under the impression that he was a thoughtful academic with a commitment to growing young minds and encouraging students to think for themselves, well, you may need to think again. Here's his unvarnished rant on these matters.

Would you accredit Living University after reading this? And why, if this is how he feels, is he working toward LU's inclusion in this "evil" system?

Perhaps somebody might like to pass this on to the accreditation authorities for their consideration and perusal. I'm sure they'd be impressed.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Checklist for Legalists

Gary Leonard over at his excellent post-WCG blog links to a column by Stephen Smith which helpfully provides a checklist so you can determine whether you're a Christian legalist or not.

It's an interesting list, but a couple of notes of caution.

First Stephen is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, an uncompromisingly rigid institution which delights in giving comfort and succour to every foul and unclean bird that roosts in the boughs of brain-dead fundamentalism.

Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest first!

Second, it seems somewhat counter-intuitive to create a checklist to measure - of all things - legalism. I mean, it's legalists themselves who practice yardstick religion.

With those qualifications, here's Stephen's list:
1. I am continually scandalized by the driving habits of others. Yes or No.
2. I believe that God loves me more when I behave. Yes or No.
3. When I write a check to my church, I tithe to the penny. Yes or No.
4. I entirely avoid alcohol, makeup, or jewelry out of fear of contamination. Yes or No.
5. I usually stand out from the crowd because of my formal or conservative attire. Yes or No.
6. When I encounter another professing Christian, I find myself judging their appearance. Yes or No.
7. My good friends are all from one church or denomination. Yes or No.
8. When I miss a Sunday service, I feel guilty. Yes or No.
9. When I miss any church activity, I feel guilty. Yes or No.
10. There are only a few Bible teachers who truly teach God’s Word. Yes or No.
11. When I sin, I feel guilty even after I ask God to forgive me. Yes or No.
12. I believe that small children should behave like miniature adults. Yes or No.
13. In a snow-covered parking lot, I feel anxious because I can’t see the parking lines. Yes or No.
14. When someone gives me a gift or does something kind for me, I feel unsettled until I can reciprocate. Yes or No.
15. I always clean my house thoroughly before anyone visits—even if they’re just popping by. Yes or No.
16. I want my children to avoid contact with sinful people. Yes or No.
17. I prefer to do things myself rather than accept help from people who are sloppy or less conscientious than I am. Yes or No.
18. There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Yes or No.
19. I believe that God is most glorified through my preferred style of music. Yes or No.
20. I believe that all scripture is equally applicable to my life. Yes or No.
21. I have had several conversion experiences but still doubt my salvation. Yes or No.
22. I have a sneaking suspicion that if Jesus returned while I was sinning, I would go to hell. Yes or No.
23. I take pleasure in reporting or punishing people who commit minor infractions. Yes or No.
24. I like to make an example out of wrongdoers. Yes or No.
25. I feel guilty when I exceed the speed limit by even a few miles per hour. Yes or No.
26. I avoid certain behaviors primarily because they are wrong, rather than because they are harmful. Yes or No.
27. I feel morally obligated to finish every book I start. Yes or No.
28. Others could describe me as bitter and depressed rather than joyful and kind. Yes or No.
29. I feel unlucky or cursed if I skip Bible reading or prayer. Yes or No.
30. I believe that God is more like a policeman and less like a fireman. Yes or No.
Honestly, if your Yes score is greater than five, I'd suggest you seek therapy. My score was just one (living in a temperate climate I couldn't really identify with #13, but suspect I'd lean to Yes). Some didn't make too much sense, though they might if - God forbid - I was living in the American Midwest - or had studied for a Th.M from DTS. Overall I think this list measures something other than 'legalism' (maybe neuroticism) but, hey, what do I know?

So what's your score out of thirty?

Monday, 25 May 2015

How to read (and not read) the Bible

John Shuck interviews Harvey Cox in his latest Religion for Life podcast (follow the link or search on iTunes). Cox is a former Harvard professor and a leading progressive theologian who first made his mark with the ground-breaking 1965 book The Secular City. He retired in 2009. His latest publication is titled How to Read the Bible.

The programme is just under the half hour, and it's well worth the investment of time for anyone interested in the question of the continuing relevance of the Bible in an age when the old "fundamentals" have fallen.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Missing comments

Apologies to Miller Jones, Dennis and a couple of others whose comments seem to have missed my inbox over recent weeks. On checking the "awaiting moderation" folder on the Blogger site I came across a number that evaded my radar completely... not sure why, but this has happened before and is frustrating for all concerned. Those comments have now - belatedly - been included under the various threads. Am going to have to double check more often!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Biblical Cherry Picking as a Virtue

A brilliant post from Valerie Tarico suggests "cherry picking" Bible texts isn't such a bad idea, indeed it's "precisely the right approach." A couple of quotes.
Today many Christians assert that the Bible is the literally perfect Word of God, timeless and complete—exempt from addition, deletion, or revision. Many Muslims make the same claim for the Quran, according it such high status that either defacing a copy of the book or denying its divine provenance is a crime worthy of death. In other words, they attribute to the Bible and Quran the qualities of divinity, and they treat offenses against the book as if they were offenses against a god. They behave toward the Bible and Quran precisely like their ancestors did toward the wood and stone carvings that represented the divine for pre-literate people.
In an age of widespread literacy, what better golden calf than a ‘golden’ book?
Rather than being used as an epithet, perhaps cherry picker should be a compliment, an acknowledgment of discernment, wisdom, judgment, and responsibility. In actual fact, all religious believers (and nonbelievers) cherry pick their sacred texts or cultural traditions, even fundamentalists, even those who deny doing so. A book like the Bible or Quran contains passages that contradict each other, or that demand a level of perfection (or cruelty) that is simply unattainable for most believers. Whether we are Christian or Muslim or post-Abrahamic freethinkers or practitioners of some other spiritual tradition, the question isn’t whether we cherry pick, it is whether we do so wisely and well, based on some higher principle that tells us which passages are spiritually nourishing and which should be discarded.
You can probably hear the screams from fifteen million Southern Baptists, but then we'd almost certainly be worried if they all started agreeing. Read the whole article for yourself here.