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A charismatic leader?


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I took VPW's PFAL and intermediate class, on VHS. I've listened to numerous tapes by him housed a HQ.

His voice was annoying and he made comments that were insulting. It was a stretch to ever find a point in his messages, and then I think those were previously conditioned to be looked for.

Yet the hundreds maybe thousands of rank and file I came into contact with praise him. Some drew tears for a guy they only saw on stage, if that.

Victor Paul Wierwille was a bore, IMO.

Is there any current evidence that VPW had any charisma?

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He could be charismatic on stage. He knew how to evoke emotion. He could also be boring as hell when he would miss the emotional mark and just drone on and on.

Much of what we think of regarding his charisma is a hype that was built around him. ""Wait until you hear session #5, Dr. is on fire!!"

We bought it and we sold it. Did he really have it? Yes and no.

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I didn't have much in-person contact with the guy: saw him up close at the Advanced Class in Rome City 1980; shook his hand in the parking lot ROA 1978 and was part of a small after meeting with WOWs & WOWvets in 1981 or '82, and was never attracted to him or TWI due to his personality or supposed charisma. I followed his "ministry" because I thought that he had answers and at the time what he was peddling made sense to me. The PFAL Session Five and Session Twelve emotion didn't do much for me - the "research", however boring, was what hooked me.

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Is there any current evidence that VPW had any charisma?

He's been dead for three decades. I don't know that you can get any current observable evidence of charisma from him.

That said, it's quite easy to look back and agree with you on the main point you make.

In my personal interactions with him, he was overbearing and mean. Not at all charismatic.

But it was clear he had established an organization that worshiped him.

Were you building up to something? Perhaps to question whether he could fit the profile of a psychopath/sociopath because he wasn't charismatic?

He could be charming, especially to young women... to an extent and for a time.

Most of us who were in the way corpse seem to have lived to look back and wonder what we ever saw in him that would make us trust him.

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Maybe what we think of as charisma was really his ability to manipulate and bully people. He was good at it. People who never even met him were subjected to his manipulation through second and third hand sources. For example,during PLAF (The Wonder Class) we were manipulated into laughing at jokes we had heard many times before and didn't find amusing the first time. Certain sessions were hyped and we were to respond accordingly with excitement whether we were moved or not. The list goes on. Somehow, from far away, he was still able to evoke the sort of emotional responses and adulation he sought. That's charisma. Or at least a part of it.

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My handy dandy analog dictionary sez this:

"charisma... 1: a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader) 2: a special magnetic charm or appeal"

Wierwille did have the ability to read a live audience and effectively play them. At least that was my experience of him. I never had any personal interactions with him.

While studying 1 Corinthians I learned that, in Greek, the suffix ma attached to the end of the name of a thing indicates the result or effect of that thing. Charis (grace) + ma = "the result or effect of grace." In the Bible, a charisma is not a gift like a thing wrapped in a box setting on a birthday table or under a Christmas tree, but rather a favor that is done by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the whole congregation through one member of that congregation.

I don't think Wierwille's ministry was a favor for ANYBODY done by the Holy Spirit through HIM! I DO think there were many "leaves" on the tree that the Holy Spirit was doing favors through. Wierwille was hitch-hiking on the good-will generated by those leaves.

My OD&D copy of Men & Magic sez this:

"Charisma is a combination of appearance, personality, and so forth. It's primary function is to determine how many hirelings of unusual nature a character can attract. This is not to say that he cannot hire men-at-arms and employ mercenaries, but the charisma function will affect loyalty of even these men. Players will, in all probability, seek to hire Fighting-Men, Magic-Users, and/or Clerics in order to strengthen their roles in the campaign... In addition the charisma score is usable to decide such things as whether or not a witch capturing a player will turn him into a swine or keep him enchanted as a lover. Finally, the charisma will aid a character in attracting various monsters to his service."

How ironic! The closest I ever came to Wierwille (it wasn't an interaction, Wierwille was just sitting there in a green without speaking or moving) was in the presence of Dave Arneson, co-author of the lines I just quoted from Dungeons & Dragons!

Love,

Steve

Edited by Steve Lortz
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I had no personal (up-close) contact with VPW, but on tape and on stage he had a very avuncular manner, which I would characterize as charismatic. I'm sure he "went off" at Corps and staff, a lot; but that side was rarely seen by the general public. His most public tirades were against the media and "organized" religion, which made him sympathetic as the "little guy" standing up to the "bully."

As time went on, and more was revealed about him (mostly posthumously), it became clear that his "charisma" was that of a con man, and that he, himself, was the bully. But I would still contend that he was, in fact, charismatic.

George

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VPW knew his audiance/s: to WOW's he was loving and personable, at a limb meeting, he was more aggresive and demanding, in the AC and/or Corp setting - I can not comment, I was never there.

I spent a few camp fires with vpw and he was quiet, when asked to answer a question - he did so with a soft yet strong voice but not over bearing or trying to look like a/the MOG.

Then go to the stage appearances at the ROA's, normally, quite dynamic and "Charismatic"; oh yah, he knew his audiance/s.

Maybe some insight from his brother furniture salesman, Harry. The book on uncle Harry was short, did not fit well into the book shelf based on the odd dimension but I would recommend it to anyone in sales - it taught me that I never wanted to be in sales.

These are only personal observances, nothing more or less.

So, back to the original question by Bolshevik: I would have to state that Yes, vpw was charismatic but who cares?

Charisma is no guarentee for truth.

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quote: Is there any current evidence that VPW had any charisma?

Yeah. Us!

In order for that to be true, we would all have to agree his charisma is what drew us to The Way and kept us involved. We've already seen evidence to the contrary in less than 1 page of responses.

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In order for that to be true, we would all have to agree his charisma is what drew us to The Way and kept us involved. We've already seen evidence to the contrary in less than 1 page of responses.

True

The PFAL class itself did not present Wierwille as a charismatic figure, at least to me, for several reasons: I found his often stiff performance and often poor delivery of his anecedotes to be more indicative of a sincere bumbler than someone posssessed of a magnetic personality. Somebody characterized him as "avuncular", which fits how I would describe his stage appearances (I only was at 5 ROAs when he was alive, and I honestly wasn't paying all that much attention to main stage teachings)

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His area of study was HOMILETICS.

He specifically studied how to put together a sermon and deliver it,

hopefully in a relevant, useful, and interesting fashion.

(He studied that FORMALLY and got his degree thereby.)

To this, he added scholarly materials from some people (Bullinger)

and more hands-on material from others (Stiles) and some that

focus more on a result (Leonard). So, when he did anything, his

style could reflect any of that. We know he lacked the drive to

do his own scholarly work, so his books either reflected copying

the work of others, transcripts of sermons/presented classes,

or, later, the research of the research department, to which he

added his name before it went to print (they all said

"by Victor Paul Wierwille" on the covers.)

His style in the pulpit/ when teaching could work well for people

or not. He had the advantage of having a PRIMED audience most

of the time. People were told the pfal class was truly fantastic,

so they went in expecting that, and often found it because they

expected it. Long ago, I played one of his teachings from an

ROA for someone who'd never heard of him. They found he spent

a lot of time joking and fooling around before finally getting

to the subject. They were right. (ROA 77, "the Healing of Naaman"

keynote teaching.)

Sometimes the presentation style changed radically- vpw copied

the wording, tonage, and even the ACCENTS of others when presenting

their material which he said was the result of his own research.

vpw, by himself, could be a bit brusque, and when he wasn't, he

often stopped to have the audience fill in a word while reading.

(I've done that a little to emphasize what was said was NOT what

would be expected. He did it as a matter of course.)

Other times, he could sound like a MUCH nicer person.

"Don't you want to speak the wonderful works of God?"

(vpw copying Leonard or Stiles, probably Stiles.)

So, his style was inconsistent but could work well or fall down,

depending on the presentation, the listener's expectations,

and whether he was copying or speaking more from himself.

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Often,

but having the benefit of hindsight doesn't guarantee anyone will

figure out CORRECTLY what happened in the past,

and it doesn't relate to the DIFFERENT, NON-CHARISMA reasons

people joined twi- which is a major discussion-point of the thread.

Right. We are only "evidence" of VPW's charisma, if, in fact, that was the reason for being in TWI. I suspect that MOST people hung around because of love shown to them at the local level, and a desire to understand God's Word. At best, one can conclude that VPW's style was not so off-putting as to drive us all out.

George

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I was high on acid when I heard these, but, the preacher on Firesign theatre's 'Don't crush the dwarf; hand me the pliers' had charisma. Especially the part when the guy listening on the radio said, "too much" and IMMEDIATELY the preacher said 'Is it too much, friends?" VP reminded me of that guy. It was awesome.

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I was high on acid when I heard these, but, the preacher on Firesign theatre's 'Don't crush the dwarf; hand me the pliers' had charisma. Especially the part when the guy listening on the radio said, "too much" and IMMEDIATELY the preacher said 'Is it too much, friends?" VP reminded me of that guy. It was awesome.

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. . .

But it was clear he had established an organization that worshiped him.

Were you building up to something? Perhaps to question whether he could fit the profile of a psychopath/sociopath because he wasn't charismatic?

He could be charming, especially to young women... to an extent and for a time.

. . .

No, Don't know where the topic will go . . . It's a question based on observation. I think it's interesting.

If he hijacked other ministries (did he truly establish one?) . . . perhaps many from those other groups he gathered assumed things about him based on experiences with other ministers. Were his abilities only implied? Did he just appeared to many one day and everyone happened to be marching his way?

Did women find him charming? Or was it the power they believed him to possess?

. . .

Charisma is no guarentee for truth.

What is truth?

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I first went to a twig meeting at Muncie, Indiana, in the fall of '79 and took Foundational PFAL at a fairly large video class at Indianapolis in July of '80. I think I had gone to Rome City for some occasion or another in the meantime. I went to the ROA in August of '80 right after I took the class.

I recount these things so you can see where and when my initial impressions of TWI were formed. To me, there were the local fellowship whose members I had come to trust, and the larger organization which seemed well established and well organized. There were people who warned me that TWI was a cult, but that seemed incredible to me, given what little I had been exposed to. Over the next couple of years, I saw people come and go at the local level who had varying degrees of credibility and "adherence to the Word," but I attributed their shortcomings to them personally, and not to the organization as a whole.

My impression of Wierwille during the video class was that his presentation was a little dated, but not so different from that of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, whom my mother used to watch on the television. I knew that some of the things Wierwille said about science were wrong, but I swallowed the things he said about the Bible, what he taught along with what he preached. I was exposed to his 1980 stage persona within a month of sitting through the video class, so his more laid back, avuncular style was what I pictured when I thought of him. If I remember rightly, there was already speculation about who would step into his shoes when he retired, and I thought Walter C. would be the natural choice.

In 1985, I was coordinating the twig in Newport, Minnesota, and we ran a foundational class at the twig level. That fall I also entered into residence at Emporia with the 16th Corps. After HoHo ReLo I was transferred to Camp Gunnison, and while I was there, a number of things began to dawn on me. First, I realized that the leaders of TWI I had been exposed to were getting together, planning what they were going to do, and then afterward thanking God for blessing what they had already decided to do, just like Wierwille had described as "walking by the flesh" in the foundational class. Next I realized that our performance on Lightbearers was being judged by numbers, and not by quality, and that the number of green cards signed didn't really count as much as the Corps trainee's ability to pay tuition. And THEN came the Corps Night when Geer read POP. From that point on EVERYTHING was open to question. At the end of the block, I dropped out of the 16th Corps and went home to Indiana, not because of things going on in the ministry, but because I couldn't scrape up my tuition without having to go overboard with my spiritual partners, and because my mom and dad were both sick and needed somebody to stay with them. The coordinator of the East Central Indiana Branch in Muncie welcomed me and invited me to twig coordinator meetings during the next year that we were still together.

I lost all confidence in Martindale's leadership when he blamed the problems of TWI on the people who were running classes on the field. He said we were not being strict enough in enforcing the guidelines. The first thing this told me was that Martindale was not willing to take responsibility for the performance of the organization he was leading. The second thing was that Martindale didn't have the foggiest notion of what it took to run a foundational class on the field. That was when I began to question Wierwille's abilities. How could such a god-fearing, spiritual man have picked such a loser as Martindale to carry on his work?

That's when I began to understand that it wasn't the charisma or credibility of Wierwille or Martindale that caused TWI to grow. It was the charisma and credibility of the local leaders on the field. Wierwille and Martindale were hitch hikers on our shoulders! Wierwille and Martindale were making merchandise out of OUR integrity!

Wierwille may have had some charisma when he put on his grandfatherly, spiritual stage act, but Martindale had NO charisma whatsoever.

That's what it looked like from my point of view.

Love,

Steve

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(snip)

I recount these things so you can see where and when my initial impressions of TWI were formed. To me, there were the local fellowship whose members I had come to trust, and the larger organization which seemed well established and well organized. There were people who warned me that TWI was a cult, but that seemed incredible to me, given what little I had been exposed to. Over the next couple of years, I saw people come and go at the local level who had varying degrees of credibility and "adherence to the Word," but I attributed their shortcomings to them personally, and not to the organization as a whole.

It seems a LOT of us saw quality people at the LOCAL level,

all attributing the organization with the reasons for the quality.

(It fooled me at the time, certainly.)

The locals were quality, and didn't let transplants from hq disrupt

things, even the incompetent, ham-handed one that stayed only 1

year. They just kept on doing what they did and he STILL probably

doesn't get that he was unneeded and a waste of time when he was

local. I think he worked out he was neither liked nor respected

by now.

(snip)

Next I realized that our performance on Lightbearers was being judged by numbers, and not by quality, and that the number of green cards signed didn't really count as much as the Corps trainee's ability to pay tuition. And THEN came the Corps Night when Geer read POP. From that point on EVERYTHING was open to question. At the end of the block, I dropped out of the 16th Corps and went home to Indiana, not because of things going on in the ministry, but because I couldn't scrape up my tuition without having to go overboard with my spiritual partners, and because my mom and dad were both sick and needed somebody to stay with them. The coordinator of the East Central Indiana Branch in Muncie welcomed me and invited me to twig coordinator meetings during the next year that we were still together.

craig himself documented that this policy of money and the corps came straight from wierwille

from the days of the earliest corps. vpw told lcm "YOU CAN STAY AS LONG AS YOUR MONEY HOLDS!"

when asked about his continued participation.

I lost all confidence in Martindale's leadership when he blamed the problems of TWI on the people who were running classes on the field. He said we were not being strict enough in enforcing the guidelines. The first thing this told me was that Martindale was not willing to take responsibility for the performance of the organization he was leading. The second thing was that Martindale didn't have the foggiest notion of what it took to run a foundational class on the field. That was when I began to question Wierwille's abilities. How could such a god-fearing, spiritual man have picked such a loser as Martindale to carry on his work?

lcm NEVER SPENT TIME ON THE FIELD, NOR IN A REAL JOB.

craig went straight from college to full-time "employment" at twi.

He never dealt with life like the way anyone in the field dealt with it--

salary, rent, negotiating vacation time, arranging locations for classes,

day-to-day life in general! lcm's entire life was the twi locale version,

which was VERY differnt in every way (go food shopping? Cook? Raise my kid?

What do all those things even MEAN?)

lcm was completely clueless as to what life was like on the field, let alone how

classes were run on the field.

Furthermore, he had no real leadership training nor experience, since he had none

outside of twi, and nobody had any inside of twi to impart to him. What he had

was a sense that he DID have such training and not a clue about doing anything

beyond blustering and barking orders that he got from his coaches and then from

vpw.

As someone found out who asked vpw WHY he picked lcm, vpw himself said that lcm

always obeyed him and never questioned his orders. As lcm pointed out in his

biography, vpw separated lcm fairly early in his twi experience and began making

all sorts of exceptions for him and gave him special treatment and entrance

into the inner cadre (excepting, of course, that he raise all his required money

to finish the corps training.) We know all this now.

That's when I began to understand that it wasn't the charisma or credibility of Wierwille or Martindale that caused TWI to grow. It was the charisma and credibility of the local leaders on the field. Wierwille and Martindale were hitch hikers on our shoulders! Wierwille and Martindale were making merchandise out of OUR integrity!

Wierwille may have had some charisma when he put on his grandfatherly, spiritual stage act, but Martindale had NO charisma whatsoever.

That's what it looked like from my point of view.

Love,

Steve

Nicely phrased. The qualiity came from the locals, and the credit went to the

organization and the higher-ups who did very little and collected tithes for it

and asked for MORE-making up phrases like "abundant sharing" and "plurality

giving" to try to squeeze every last dollar from out on the field where it

actually could do some good.

As for wierwille, he was a showman who sometimes put on a great stage act,

but it was all an act.

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Wierwille and Martindale were making merchandise out of OUR integrity!

Same thing with Kirby vacuum cleaner organization......the young bloods go out on sales calls

and the management stays in the office working the phones.

The newcomer-sales person is highly encouraged to go to friends, family and relatives

to make those first sales and build confidence. Same deal.

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Same thing with Kirby vacuum cleaner organization......the young bloods go out on sales calls

and the management stays in the office working the phones.

The newcomer-sales person is highly encouraged to go to friends, family and relatives

to make those first sales and build confidence. Same deal.

So...So...So..You're saying we were used as a sales force? Well, at least we were well paid.

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