Talk about rumor is usually too simplistic. Communication people know that rumor can be a good sign in that it shows interest. Somebody CARES about the person being discussed. His actions are important and significant.
People talk about what is of interest to them. We have given our lives to this Work. We are concerned about every facet of its operations. We CARE about the triumphs and the troubles. We discuss them both. We want to know particularly about the leadership — what they are doing, thinking, planning or even dreading. Because those activities will affect the Work and US. So we are concerned — we want to know. That is good!
We do not discuss what is of no interest to us. A few years ago, you could not get away from news about Jackie Kennedy. She complained about her lack of privacy. And if you saw the photos I did — with good reason. Now she has the privacy she wanted, but she may not be happy with that either. The public is saying in effect, "We don't care about how rich she is, her marriage and divorce plans nor where and how she sunbathes. We have largely lost interest in Jackie."
If our hearts (and treasure) are in the Work, we will surely talk about it. And so we should. The problem of course, is HOW we talk about it. As Mr. Armstrong has said about everything from shotguns to sex, it is not the thing, but the misuse of the thing that is wrong.
And talking about the Work and the people in it has been misused. Badly.
Firstly, we must remember the old marketplace principle of supply and demand. If demand for news exceeds the supply in normal channels, interested parties begin to rely on each other for information. So any barriers that hinder the rapid dissemination of news such as censorship (in a government or a boardroom) or physical barriers arising in catastrophies (earthquakes, war, etc.) encourage rumors.
Investigators, in studying rumors, have found that people deprived of authoritative news tend to speculate on what is happening. Either individually or with the help of other interested parties, they pool what bits of information they have to form reasonable estimates of the whole story. A significant change in the environment that remains unaccounted for feels incomplete. Like hearing the opening few notes of the Blue Danube without the mentally satisfying tum-tum tum-tums. Or waiting for the other shoe to drop. This produces the the almost irresistible urge to fill in the missing portions — from one's own imagination. The results of this attempt to complete the elipsis are obviously suspect. People who do not have the perspective of one deprived of authoritative news, but do have the facts are usually amazed at the results of this speculative exercise. Amazed is too weak a word — dumbfounded and aghast better describes it.
There are other reasons. Some of which we are all familiar with. Events are discussed for purely entertainment value. Just to keep life and the conversation interesting. The most colorful rumor of that type was the "Paul McCartney is dead" one of 1969. It involved playing records backwards and license numbers of parked cars on album jackets. The intrigue and sense of conspiracy was exhilarating — and basically harmless.
For us in the Church, the difficulty is that these things have a tendancy to go too far. "In the multitude of words there wants not sin; but he that refrains his lips is wise" (Prov. 10:19). The problem is usually with that action word, refrain. For the "foolish things of the world" refraining ain't easy. Amen. Yea, verily.
Another commonly known reason is to bestow STATUS on the teller. Someone may be pleased to s how us they are informed. But we should always be aware that the specialists that study these things tell us that people who give us information outside of official channels usually distort the news by distilling it (leveling in rumor argot) because of 1) time considerations (long distance calls are costly), or 2) the conversation is on a tack that only involves the news in part (on a tangent) or, 3) the bits that support the tellers own opinion about why something happened are highlighted while those that conflict are diminished.
Shaky at best.
It is an ego trip for some to know something others don't. Of course, if those around them are unaware of their ignorance, the joy of knowing is diminished. So, a bit of baiting is called for. The techniques vary from silly to stupid — they are never sophisticated. This "bait" becomes the whole morsel to the one that receives it; unless he can pump more out. But if not, that will have to be his meal for that day. He will add that piece to others from different sources in an attempt to form a more complete picture. In doing so, he will share his bit (a kind of barter) in discussions with others. The more "others" the better. Additional pieces of information are added or discarded as seems best.
Both the baiter and the baited are in the wrong. Together they create rumor and spread it. All to satisfy both their quests for self-esteem (in their search for meaningful hints about the future). Christ's prophecy that "he that exalts himself shall be abased" seems to have been overlooked in their quest for meaningful hints about the future. Their goal is to be exalted in the eyes of those around them. That may be their only reward.
Or, it may not. When the blind lead the blind in this way, it is not only they that fall into the ditch. Hundreds may fall with them, because the conclusions they arrive at and spread usually have an ugliness and a viciousness about them that could make a "little one" stumble. If that happens, another reward may be the promised millstone.
People do appear to have an ungodly fascination with the negative and ignoble. The worse the rumor, the faster it travels. Presumably more want to hear it and tell it.
That is not God's way at all. When David was driven from Jerusalem during Absolom's rebellion, he was eager for news. When he. was told Ahimaaz was running he said, "He is a good man and comes with good news" (2 Sam. 18). That may seem like a shallow observation but it is preserved in God's Word for our learning. David knew that Zadok's son liked to deliver good news. Unlike 98% of rumor passers, he hated to give bad news. If Ahimaaz was running that hard, he had to have good news. To David, that made him a good man. Some commentaries state that Ahimaaz did not know of Absolom's death which was bad news for David. They assume the best. Others feel he did. That may reflect the commentaries fascination with the unbeautiful. Either way, Ahirnaaz was eager to tell the King his throne was restored. That was good news.
Ahimaaz, like a tree, is still known by his fruits — in this case, the words that carne from his mouth. Christ, about to be given the same throne, said "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6).
To God, builders and suppliers of ugly. rumors reveal more about themselves than they do about the truth of the people and events they seek to report. He said He will have a little chat with them about it in ~he future (Matt. 12:36).
Talking about the Work has been misused for still another reason. This is a result of the age in which we live. It has been called the age of cynicism. So many cover-ups have been uncovered, so many "facts" have been proved fraudulent, so many stories demonstrated to be specious, that we of this_ age are forced to view. everything with doubt and disbelief. There is no innocence; the Lennon sisters are no more. All that is left is the nihillistic Nancy Sinatra look. "Watch out for the boots. They are gonna walk all over you."
But that outlook does not belong in the Church. If it is, we are not overcoming the world, it is overcoming us. We would be accepting the attitudes of a dying society instead of the way of God that leads to LIFE. If we infer that church leadership is suspect or evil, that they willingly deceive us and are selfishly motivated, we are actually saying that Christ is not ruling His Church as He should.
When Christ wanted to reveal Himself to John ~n Rev. 1, He could have used anyone of several scenes to do so. On the right hand of the Father. A vision ahead to the time of the Kingdom. But He chose a new setting for this book addressed to His servants. Standing, an active position, in the midst of seven candlesticks — later described as the seven churches. With seven stars, the "angels of the seven churches", in His right hand — the hand of work and control. Christ pictured Himself to John as standing in the middle of His churches with the angels completely in His control. Smack dab in the middle totally involved! He wanted the church to know that He is aware, active and in charge.
When something or someone needs correcting, He can and does correct. Recent events should make that very clear. He waits. He is criticized for delay. He acts. He is censured for severity. Part of the "just living by faith" is trusting Him to govern His own Body. Especially the leadership who will bear the responsibility of their office. Responsibility demands accountability.
If we believe He is the Head, our words should show it. If we do not, there 1s no reason to belong to this Church.
Remember, the Church is His Bride. With all our flaws and warts, He is making us into a clean, righteous and faultless bride to marry forever at His return. You would not view with favor anyone who besmerched the reputation of your bride-to-be. Nor does He (Rev. 12:10-11).
Our thinking should not be determined by the hostile, wrathful, distrusting and unforgiving world in which we live. We have been called OUT of it. Our minds must be transformed into the truly converted Christian mind that is an open and honest way follows Christ and the leadership He puts over us.
Perhaps the greatest problem with talk in the Church is the way in which many feel free to speak about or listen to critical words about a brother in the Church or in the ministry. The basic Bible teaching on brotherly relations is found in Lev. 19:18. "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but. thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord." The Jewish scholars expound the famous last phrase by saying "Let the honor and the property of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own." Frankly, the honor and name of our brothers hasn't been as "dear" to us as God's law says it should, be,. And that is the basic yardstick He uses in judging us in human relations. That should be an extremely sobering thought.
Jesus Christ's last night on earth as a human being was an emotion etched event. He knew He would not be physically present with His church till His return. He knew the weakness, sins, faults, power struggles and selfish attitudes of those around the table with Him — and of those who would come later. He also knew they all had PRIDE, that ancient adversary of peace and harmony in the Church of God. So He prayed! If you examine the theme of that prayer in John 17, you will find it is UNITY. "Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one." He asked for God's special help to keep us together. That the wills, wants and pride of the members of Christ's Body would not cause disharmony. And in case anyone wanted to argue about what unity is (as surely many would) He added "as we are". As close and mutually respectful as the Father and the Son. There is no finer example or standard for measuring unity.
With all that has happened over the last several years, the answer to Jesus Christ's prayer is probably the most pressing need for the Church today. We should all be praying for oneness — especially now.
Most things take action as well as prayer before they are accomplished. Unity is no exception. It takes positive action to produce unity — by everybody.
If words have divided us, words, coming from a right spirit, can help bring us together.
To begin, every member of the body of Christ should let the honor of his fellows be as dear to him as his own.
When someone's name comes up in conversation, make your words convey the love and respect due a brother in Christ. I am not suggesting we all become Pollyannas. You can disagree with someone respectfully. (The British have developed this into an art form. For the French, it is a duty of civilized men!) The key is to assume that if he were present he would put forward sound reasons for his actions or words, that are at least as valid as yours. IF his actions and/or words are known to you. You may have been mongered by a rumor!
Next, the supply of news from official sources must come closer to the demand. Not that supply will ever equal the demand. That is impossible. But for years there has been much room for improvement.
Many rumors involve finance, Mr. Rader and even Mr. HWA himself. So Mr. Rader, as Mr. HWA's assistant and Treasurer for the Work, has held two "forums" for employees here at Pasadena. He asked for any question or any subject from the floor. The enquirers have been candid in their questions. Mr. Rader has been equally candid in his replies.
In the last one on 30 October, the subjects ranged from what financial help the Work gives Mr. Al Portune to which ministers have joined Mr. GTA. No questions were unanswered.
So that everyone can benefit from this forum, the transcripts will be published in the Good News. Regular forums of this type are planned for the future: — This openness and candor will help to stop the rumor mill.
Finally, the seditious practice of fracturing into camps within the Church must stop. That i s what Satan did; he got all those around him to view with suspicion and malice those that were outside their sphere group!
There should not be "we" and "they" within the Body of Christ. We should all be "us".
Christ gave clear commands to keep division out of His Church. He said "if your brother shall trespass against you" (Matt. 18:15) or if "thy brother has ought against thee" (Matt. 5:23) Go to him directly and get it solved. That instruction was given by Christ personally.
How many reasons can most of us give for not doing it? Regardless of the excuse, we are not doing what God says. Disunity is the result.
God's Church has gone through an extremely trying, sorrowful time. If we can learn and grow from it, as a Body, God can use us more effectively.
Words, conversations, fellowship will always and forever be a part of the Church of God. If those words are of a spirit that helps Christ's final prayer to be fulfilled, God can put us in a position to bring light to all that are in the house. If not, we deserve to be hidden under a bushel!
I certainly agree with Mr. Fahey's remarks. I want to do everything I can to clear up any rumors or gossip that involve my areas of responsibility. But your help and cooperation is needed.
All of you that receive the Pastor's Report should feel free to write to me asking for my comments on any rumor you may have heard. I will write a personal reply to each letter. It needs to be emphasized that any question on ANY subject is welcome. The questioner will not be presumed to believe the rumor or gossip he is asking about unless he states that he does. Rather it will be assumed that he is trying to help stop rumors and the harmful effects they produce in the Church.
Letters should be sent to me marked "personal". In exceptional circumstances, information can be requested by phone. This is obviously best kept to a minimum and only during working hours.
Questions of interest to the whole Church or that are often asked may be published in the Worldwide News. The name of the questioner will not be published in these-Instances.
By this method, present and future rumors should be put to rest.
Stanley R. Rader