Book: Raising the Ruins: The fight to revive the legacy of Herbert W. Armstrong, by Stephen Flurry
Genre: Non-fiction – hard to categorise it more precisely
Where I got it: Free Kindle download
Briefly, it’s the account of how the “Philadelphia Church of God”, which is a splinter group of the “Worldwide Church of God” (I believe that the term “cult” may be accurately applied to both) fought to keep alive what they believe to be the true teaching of the founder of the WCG, Herbert W. Armstrong, through the re-publication and circulation of his writings, when the WCG itself wanted to keep them out of print. The PCG engaged in a long and expensive court-case in a copyright battle to this end.
What I liked: I found the details of the court-case and the various aspects of copyright law (USA) interesting. I was also fascinated (but in the way that I might be fascinated by a terrible accident scene) by the weird teachings of both cult groups – though, to be honest, the book doesn’t really explain them terribly well. How reasonable adults can fall for this kind of stuff – and hand over millions of dollars to the sect – is gruesomely intriguing.
What I didn’t like so much: Nothing in this book, in the attitude of the author or of those he writes about, either on his side or the other side, reflects the attitudes of Jesus Christ and the Gospel as I understand them. Love, forgiveness, simplicity, charity… not much in evidence. I am considerably more impressed by the witness of people like Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Pope Francis, neither of whom would have much in common with Armstrong, Flurry, & co.
After I read the book I did a brief bit of internet research on the two groups, and was revolted to read about the incest claims made against Armstrong by his daughter. Ugh. It leaves me feeling dirty just by having read a book by a supporter of his.