Friday, October 28, 2005

In Need of a Warm Bath?

Things have been quite hectic around the lakeshore for a few weeks. Several times I tried to collect my thoughts and write something coherent, but the words just didn't fit right. Perhaps I am suffering a little from COG burnout. Or perhaps my system could not handle the increased stress of reading more apostolic or prophetic meanderings. Or maybe I have been fighting a demon.

The difficulty writing about the PCGs, RCGs and LCGs of the world is that they more or less stay on the same old worn out groove. We who have been there, done that, move on to a new way of thinking. We have our say, hopefully saying enough to make others think twice about following in our footsteps. Gerry builds his compound and watches the EU, Dave makes himself more important and becomes nastier, and Rod continues to warn of that near but far off day and slips into his twilight years. Good ol' Joey packs up the suitcases and heads for his retirement years a very wealthy man. One gets tired listening to these hacks who really do not deserve much attention. Their accomplishments in the good works department would only be visible to those owning an electron microscope.

Unfortunately there are innocents involved, those that cannot get out of the clutches of these groups until they are of legal age, or run away. I think running away would be better then being subjected to religious abuse. The longer you stay, the longer you spend on Dr. Phil's couch when you finally come to your senses, if at all. So I reminded myself of that to keep motivated for these rants. Lest I get flamed, I care about the rest of the members too. They all deserve a free mind.

Young members in the teenage years struggle just as much as adult members. They are in the midst of forming their identity, and their personal view of the world. What they experience in the real world is highly contrasted to the opinions they hear on the Sabbath. Added to that, they are singled out at school and at work for being religous freaks who cannot take part in many normal events. Friendships are few and life is very isolated and lonely. There are exceptions, of course. Steven Flurry's high school basketball career may be one of them :)

If the teen identifies with the church and its leaders, then things go more smoothly. Parental relationships are less tense, they feel a connection with a cause and acceptance by others they view as role models. If a teen does not connect with those in the church, intense struggles eventually follow. Parents are chastened to control Junior or risk the big "D" (disfellowship). If all else fails, Junior is left ostracized from the family.

I remember the wife of a PCG deacon I met many years ago. She told me of her sons, four of them, all but one in the PCG. Her eyes welled with tears as she struggled to hold back her feelings. Son number four was an outcast, headed for the Great Tribulation, and it was breaking her heart. A quiet rebuke from her husband in Italian stopped her emotional reaction.

Harsh, to be rejected by your parents and brothers. But people do strange things when they believe their eternal salvation is on the line. Add to that a universe ruling position in God's Government. The universe in black and white. For us, or against us.

I was once in that mindset and perhaps that's what made me so vulnerable to Armstrongism in the first place. As a teen I loved learning how things worked. It was exciting learning "the" answer. Gave me a sense of safety I guess. Knowing how the universe worked. I failed to appreciate how many possible paths there are to a solution. That feeling of security turned out to be a huge paradox. It cost me big time in money, friends and family.

My impact on the lives of teen Coggers has been microscopic, and will continue to be unless my career as a rock star or Hollywood icon blossoms. Not likely in this lifetime. But perhaps a few net surfers will read this and gain some solace knowing someone out there understands them.

So this one's for the forgotten ones. Those young people wondering what it's all about. For those dreading the next Sabbath service, or this year's Christmas season. Wondering if they will ever go to a classmate's birthday party. Or put on a Halloween costume. Wondering if their parents will ever speak to them again if they decide to leave.

Or how hot the Lake of Fire really is. (BTW: It's really rather nice, especially the sulfur bath)