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penworks

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penworks last won the day on July 19

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About penworks

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    Author of cult memoir, Undertow: My Escape from ... The Way

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  1. Hi, this is Charlene Edge who wrote Undertow. Yes, it is true that I included some information on this topic in my book. For a first-hand account from one of VPW's "girls," I always refer people to Kristen Skedgell's memoir, Losing The Way. Also, other women spoke out in another book, by Karl Kahler, called The Cult that Snapped: A Journey Inside The Way International.
  2. Or, for something completely different along these lines, there's a very compelling argument for doing away with bible study altogether in a "shocking" book called The End of Biblical Studies (gasp!) by Hector Avalos, PhD. Prometheus Books. 2007. Just sayin … there is an alternative viewpoint for those interested in questioning the value of continuing to hammer away at biblical texts in hopes of recreating "the original." Even if we did reach that goal, what would we have? A text that still contains contradictions (four different viewpoints in the 4 gospels), violence against "unbelievers," in the Hebrew Bible, condemnation of homosexuals, subjugation of women, etc. Just sayin … let's take a look at bibliolatry and get honest about that. Perhaps this is a topic for the Doctrinal thread. Sigh …
  3. Raf, when you asked for examples unique to TWI, I thought of the section at the end of Karl Kahler's book, The Cult That Snapped. It begins on page 275. Wayspeak: A Glossary. He has 6 pages full of terms you could check. If you don't have a copy of the book, let me know. An example would be "undershepherding" meaning "following up on witnessing by pastoring a new person." Also "cop-outs" - former members of The Way. Also, here are a few things, some are phrases I think are unique to TWI usage, maybe not … but when I use them when speaking to outsiders about The Way, I find myself having to translate what they mean. 1. advances meant retreats. VPW said we don't retreat from anything, we advance in God's Word. Churches use the word retreat for weekend immersions of fellowship and teachings, but TWI had to be different than churches, even in naming this sort of event. 2. lift - meant offer something or someone in prayer. I remember the first time I heard this it sounded so strange. Lift? 3. witnessing - meant evangelizing, not seeing something happen. 4. off the Word - meant not obeying Way teachings. 5. Karl had this one in his Glossary, too. Wierwille was "our father in the Word" - at least in the Corps, we called him that because we likened him to the apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 4:15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
  4. DWBH wrote: "I’ve never really investigated how the thing was received by the biblical research and textual criticism folks at the academic and university levels. I wonder if anyone outside TWIt or the splinters and offshoots even uses it?? Anyone know?" I recall that the Society of Biblical Literature knew the concordance was published in 1985 because some of the guys on the research team had been attending SBL meetings and talking about it to SBL members over the years. I do not know how it was actually received by those academics, or whether it is used by anyone today, including anyone at TWI HQ or in offshoots. Wish I could be more helpful.
  5. P.S. Rocky posted in the Doctrinal section a link to another video Juedes made about TWI's Aramaic project, which I worked on in part. .
  6. This is Charlene Lamy Edge, author of a memoir about my seventeen years in The Way: Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International. The last part of my book reveals goings-on in the Way’s research department at its Ohio headquarters where I worked from 1984-1986 on what was called Aramaic projects. Rev. Juedes refers to my book in this video. I was involved in Aramaic work at The Way beginning in 1972 when Wierwille assigned me to help the woman he hired to teach Aramaic at Way summer school and to collect Aramaic manuscripts on microfilm. That buying spree was what George Lamsa encouraged Wierwille to do. But Lamsa did not stick around. Wierwille made plans to eventually publish an "Aramaic" concordance, a N.T. interlinear, and a Lexicon. By 1984, I was on the biblical research team at HQ to help finish what was eventually called The Concordance to the P e s h I t t a Version of the Aramaic New Testament. I still have my copy. We had to add the word “Aramaic” to the title because V. P. Wierwille incorrectly and chronically used “Aramaic” to refer to that N. T. version, which, as Juedes says, is from the 5th century. However, it was not in Aramaic, it was in a language called Syriac. But VPW would not be corrected, as I write about in my book. His knowledge of Aramaic and Syriac texts was insufficient to speak knowledgeably about them. The “Aramaic” New Testament that Juedes refers to is an interlinear using the same Syriac text the concordance is tied to, but with the English translation included, and the KJV in a third column. This set of interlinear volumes was published by other Way researchers after I resigned from the research department and left The Way. Just for the record, the final translation that Juedes says appeases Way leaders was not done while I was there. In my view, Juedes makes many good points in this video. But what is missing is insider info, including this: biblical texts were only considered tools by VPW and his trained loyal researchers to determine "the accuracy" of The Word. Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, even Coptic were said to be “compared” to determine “accurate readings.” Although, for the most part we depended on the Greek N.T. for readings. We did NOT say accurate “interpretations,” because Wierwille taught that The Word (the Bible) was of no private interpretation. He got that idea from II Peter 1:21. The problem with using that verse is MAJOR. It does not specify what “Scripture” refers to. It’s vague. It doesn’t list the specific books. Not only that, the author of II Peter is up for debate. To go down that rabbit hole of authorship, refer to any reputable scholar doing historical criticism on the N.T. For starters, I recommend Dr. Bart Ehrman’s work, starting with Misquoting Jesus. https://www.amazon.com/Bart-D-Ehrman/e/B001I9RR7G?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1560098706&sr=8-1 Anyway, to get the accurate reading, we were to use Wierwille’s keys to research to “let the Bible interpret itself.” What a fallacy that was! Books do not interpret themselves. People interpret books. In the end, what was taught as accurate would be determined from VPW’s supposedly great “scope of The Word” which he said he gained from “working” the whole Word [Bible] for years and years and/or from God’s direct revelation. From my experience in research, I came away with realizing that the catch phrase, The Word, referred to whatever VPW decided. After he died, the tangled web of figuring out what he would have wanted and how to rationalize his mistakes and deliberate twisting of Scripture fell to Walt*r Cu*mins, the man in charge of research who I worked for while on the research team in The Way. I go into this in my book, which is available from all major booksellers.
  7. This is Penworks passing along a request for info from the informative and helpful non-profit, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). I'm a member. "ICSA director, Debby Schriver, author of Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo’s Christian Ministry and Their Journey to Freedom, will speak soon to attorneys specializing in law and the elderly. Despite its vast library, ICSA has little written information on how cults affect the elderly. Debby is interested in interviewing individuals who may have personal experience or may know about the experiences of others who were adversely affected by cults when they got older. We hope that her conversations with you may result in an ICSA Today article that could provide up-to-date information on the topic of elderly and cults." If you have information that you believe will be useful to this project, please send it to mail@icsamail.com
  8. Hi Socks, I am very familiar with that letter. I quote part of it in my book, Undertow. In 1978 when VPW mailed the letter to Way Corps, I did not personally know any of the individuals mentioned in the letter. I knew them from afar. At the time, I was not involved with research, I was out on the field far away from HQ, and it would be five more years before I returned to HQ to work on the research team. So when I read the letter, I swallowed the party line and asked no questions. I accepted that these guys were disloyal and tricked by the Devil into questioning VP's research and disagreeing with how the Corps was being run in Emporia. I suspect that the guys who challenged VPW mistakenly believed his claim, as many of us did, that TWI was a "research" ministry open to correcting mistakes and "changing as we learned more." From my experience, I don't believe it was. I think it was an organization VPW used to promote himself and his views on the Bible, including plagiarized materials. To me, in the letter VPW sounds very paranoid that anyone might know a thing or two that he doesn't. He's mad to find out he might be wrong. In 1984, when I returned to HQ to work on the Aramaic Concordance with the research team, that letter's contents came back to haunt me. In Undertow, I portray my own discoveries of corruption, Scripture twisting, etc.
  9. In my view, even though it's often revolting to read VPW's own incriminating words that illustrate how deranged he was, it's a valuable way to gain understanding of how he used classic cult leader tactics to keep us Corps from thinking independently and to make himself appear blameless in the face of evidence to the contrary.
  10. Groups run by former TWI leaders seem to hide in plain sight, at least as far as the general public goes. Whenever I give presentations about Undertow, there is usually someone in the audience who asks about what shape TWI is in today. I inform them about the succession of presidents, the sale of properties, the decline of loyalists. BUT I also let them know about spinoff groups that perpetuate Way-style doctrines, teachings, meetings, behaviors, while most of the time NOT mentioning their origins in Wierwielle's outfit. Signs of that origin would be catch phrases like "the accuracy of the Word," which is something fabricated by VPW, or rather stolen by him from other fundamentalist Christian writers. Most audiences have never heard of Bullinger, etc., so the challenge is to encourage folks who are more than casually interested to acquaint themselves with fundamentalism, not only cults. The ideology of cults varies. The Bible-based cults can seem legit at first, but research on them may tell a different story. Reactions to this news of TWI spinoffs range between disgust and nervousness. I recommend people ask probing questions about the origin of any group recruiter who approaches them and ask about finances and what checks are in place on the power of the leader, and for the name of the person who ordained him or her, etc. All the above is just my two cents ... Why do I still care about all this? Like most posters here at GSC, I don't like to see people betrayed like I was.
  11. You can do it. We "hold the space" for you, as they say. When I say that, I imagine our arms around you, shielding you, providing good energy for you to stand on your own. As DWBH said, YOU have made this progress. YOU are a beautiful human being.
  12. Oh Leah, I am so happy you are here. You know I love you and am here whenever you want to talk! I had no idea that you were BecomingMe. Wow! You are cared about here in ways you'll never fully know!
  13. Hi, this is Penworks. My heart goes out to you, Becoming Me. You have great courage. Take good care of yourself.
  14. Worth every minute, IMO.
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