The Prevailing and Accepted Attitude of This World

Personal from the Editor

By Herbert W Armstrong

SOURCE

TWO INCIDENTS — an article I read in a magazine, and a news item seen on the TV news, provoked this little personal talk with our readers.

First, was the story of Charles Van Doren and the television scandal about the rigging of the quiz show “Twenty-One.” Although Charles Van Doren’s mind was well filled with factual knowledge about this world — its history, geography, literature, art, governments, and events — he was, to a considerable extent, fed the answers in advance to the questions he was going to be asked.

Everything was rehearsed. He was thoroughly drilled, before appearing on the program, in how to hesitate, close his eyes as if in tense mental concentration, bite his lip, mop his brow, then snap a finger as if the answer had suddenly come to him. He was instructed to come up with a wrong answer once in a while, on an easy question the answer to which most of the listening audience would know — just for the effect of flattering the unsuspecting viewers.

When the truth became public, and the scandal broke in the newspapers, young Mr. Van Doren was quite broken up — whether from real repentance, or from the personal tragedy to him and his family of being found out, I do not know.

But the point that triggered this informal talk with you was the attitude of the producer of the show — the man who coached Van Doren in all his deceit and pretense.

He was not sorry at all — except that the show was put off the air, and he had, at least temporarily, found it advisable to go into a sort of exile in Mexico, where he was reportedly writing a book.

This man, true to human nature, JUSTIFIED the whole deception. It didn’t hurt anybody, he contended. Rather, he reasoned, everybody concerned ought to be HAPPY about it. The show had built up the sponsor’s business, so he and his advertising agency ought not complain. Since the network had a top-rated show while it lasted, THEY ought to be happy. The contestants who made the big money should be happy. And surely the televiewers of the public must have been happy — they had enjoyed many half-hours viewing an exciting show.

Then, he argued, ISN’T EVERYBODY DOING IT? Was it any worse than Presidents, most of whom have “ghost writers” turn out their speeches for them? Doesn’t the public suppose they are speaking their own words?

Is it so shocking to learn that even many of the books supposedly authored by noted men were written by others, FOR them? What if the movie stars do not, themselves, do the acting in the most dangerous sequences, but have stunt men double for them in these shots?

Sure, there’s deception, pretense, hypocrisy, in almost everything these days! Doesn’t everyone KNOW that the magician doesn’t really saw the woman in two — DOESN’T THE PUBLIC LIKE TO BE FOOLED? Suppose moviegoers do not know that scenes supposedly in Spain, or Africa, are actually shot in Hollywood — or that cowboy westerns are not filmed in “Dodge,” or on Kansas or Texas plains, but in a special “wild west” lot adjacent to Hollywood on the north.

Recently the statement was widely publicized that no man can succeed in business, today, HONESTLY!

Then, in the news telecast, came an item further illustrating the trend of morals in this generation. The name of the famous artist, Picasso, came up in the news. Apparently he lives in the Los Angeles area, and this fact was given as one of the evidences that this city is one of America’s two foremost cities in progressive and uplifting culture.

Picasso is — or WAS — reputed a great artist. Whether it is present or past tense depends on your taste and conception of what constitutes great art. Picasso some years back gave up the traditional and classical style of art of the Rembrandts, Michelangelos, Gainsboroughs and Van Dycks.

Now it so happens that an artist friend of mine, one of England’s outstanding portrait painters today, recently handed me a copy of “Picasso’s Confession.” He had checked on it, and assured me it is genuine.

It has, the statement explains, appeared in “The Daily Telegraph”, and other papers, and is taken from the journal “Libro Hero”, edition Vallecchi, Florence, dated November 1951, pages 265-268. Here it is:

“From the moment that art ceases to be the food that feeds the best minds, the artist can use his talents to perform all the tricks of the intellectual charlatan. Most people can today no longer expect to receive consolation and exultation from art.

“The ‘refined,’ the rich, the professional do-nothings, the distillers of quintessence, desire only the peculiar, the sensational, the eccentric, the scandalous, in today’s art. And I myself, since the advent of cubism, have fed these fellows what they wanted and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that have passed through my head. The less they understand them the more they admire me. Through amusing myself with all these absurd fancies I became celebrated very rapidly. For a painter, celebrity means sales and consequent affluence. Today, as you know, I am celebrated; I am rich.

“But when I am alone I do not have the effrontery to call myself an artist at all, not in the grand old meaning of the word. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya, were great painters. I am only a clown, a mountebank.

“I have understood my time and have exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine, more painful than it may seem. But at least it does have the merit of being honest.”

The reasoning of the producer of the defunct television show, “Twenty-One,” and the Picasso confession, illustrate the prevailing and accepted attitude of today’s world.

It seems people can see only one goal or purpose in life — to get money. It seems to be assumed that this can be done only by deception, appealing to the lusts, vanity, and lowest in human nature, and by dishonest methods.

I have encountered many men of the world who find it quite impossible to believe anyone could have any motive except monetary gain, or think of any method of achieving it except by some dishonest means calculated to deceive the unsuspecting. Such men find it quite impossible to believe ANYONE could be devoted to a life of serving and helping and doing good to others, unmindful of personal gain.

The ethics of this world seems to be that the end of selfish gain justifies the means — any deceptive and dishonest means. But of course one is expected to be careful to PRETEND he is honest, and to avoid being found out.

No wonder this world is UNHAPPY. People not only practice this way of deceit — they expect others to do likewise. And so, it seems everyone is constantly on his guard, suspicious of everybody, because he ASSUMES that all others are as calculating, mercenary, tricky, deceptive and hypocritical as himself.

Every now and then some religious leader of some small group, often writing in some local denominational church paper, will “expose” me as a “false prophet,” usually “proving” to his readers that what I preach from the Bible is false, by showing that it is quite different than the error his particular denomination embraces. But always, it seems, such men suppose that I must be as conniving and dishonest and greedy as themselves, for always, it seems, they impute dishonest, deceptive, and ulterior motives. Always they ACCUSE, following the sway of their father the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren. Yet he, like they are, is guilty of the very thing of which he falsely accuses the servants of God.

This is simply a pretty rotten world. Jesus Christ told us we shall know them by their fruits. It seems the world as a whole has accepted the false ethics of delusion, deception, and dishonesty in hypocrisy and pretense, as a means of gratifying vanity and greed.

Look at the fruits! This world is reaping the harvest of fears and worries, insecurity, frustrations, heart-aches, unhappiness and discontent. It is filled with crime, graft, divorce, unhappy, homes, juvenile delinquency, insanity, sickness, disease, premature deaths. It is riddled by war, with strife everywhere. It has brought only CURSES on itself!

This world thinks it needs more money, gotten by pretending and deceiving and tricking others. But what it really needs, so pitifully, is GOD, and the SPIRIT OF GOD! If only it could learn that Jesus knew what He was talking about, and meant what He said, when He stated that if we would only seek FIRST, GOD, and the KINGDOM OF GOD, and God’s WAY — His RIGHTEOUSNESS — that then all the material needs — and more — would be ADDED.

Thirty-five years ago I surrendered the SELF, with its vanity and greed for material gain, gave my life over to the LIVING Christ, and, with my wife, having GIVEN UP the world, set out to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, which He gives us as His Gift — if we are willing to yield to it.

In financial poverty we found HAPPINESS. We found that it truly IS more blessed to give than to receive. We received thrill after thrill in discovering NEW TRUTHS in God’s Word. Of course many of these truths, new to us, corrected us. We learned that we had to really LIVE BY THEM — and they CHANGED OUR WAY OF LIFE. We had to give up being concerned about what former friends and PEOPLE would say. Of course it brought persecution and opposition from PEOPLE.

But it brought blessings from GOD. We found utter SECURITY in economic poverty. We found the TRUE VALUES — and the TRUE RICHES! We were happy. We enjoyed the fellowship of common, plain, and godly people who, with us, were seeking GOD’S WAY first, and willing to follow it.

God used us in preaching and publishing His MESSAGE to millions, now expanded into every inhabited continent on earth. God has built, giving us an active part in it, a great work that today girds this earth, with a rather large and fast growing dynamic energized organization of consecrated and happy people.

Yesterday Mrs. Armstrong and I enjoyed our 45th wedding anniversary. Looking back over the past 35 of those 45 years, we rejoiced with deep gratitude in what has been reaped from the sacrifice of carnal greed, natural vanity, the approbation of worldly self-seekers, and from the labor of love, seeking to learn and DO the will and the WAY OF GOD,

It seems we have been blessed above all on earth. Of course, our son, Garner Ted Armstrong, feels that he and his lovely wife and three fine sons have been blessed above all on earth. I know scores of others, all seeking FIRST this same GOD and His righteousness, who feel THEY are the most blessed.

For the welfare of a deluded world, we do pray continually, “THY Kingdom come — THY will be done on earth.”

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