I had an old mate on the blower this morning. He was somewhat distressed at the massive new focus and impetus of developing big business in the Brethren world. It has become an all consuming quest as they grow their global empires beyond anything ever witnessed before. Rumour has it they even have blue chip office addresses in the Sydney heartland where a square metre of office space costs $855.90 per month, to give them that added credibility in worldly eyes.
Their world was supposed to be one of humility, simple service and faith observance. It wasn't that Brethren people did not have large or successful businesses in the past so much, as the Sydney led emphasis on business these days, which is almost all consuming in the Brethren today, as they vie to be successful and therefore on the radar of the great man in Ermington.
This I told him, as my mind raced for possible reasons, is down to the leader himself, as he tries to legitimize the church in the eyes of the world. He wants to appear 'normal'. In fact he wants to be more than normal. His brother has gone as far as to admit publicly to all sorts of world embracing normality including having Baptist friends and to being so normal when compared to worldly people, you would not pick him in a line up. The truth is, decision makers in the world do not take any notice of poor or below average business people. Get wealthy and the doors start to open for you. It ever was thus. Money talks.
The question is why?
The answer is easy, but duplicated in its roots. First off, there is the perennial problem of the Hales loving wealth and success. A bit like the Trumps. Hales likes winners. His father liked winners and his Uncle liked winners. When they were young, as 35 year olds and in their ascension period, they would publicly and automatically discount anyone who was not successful in business. They had plans to make the Brethren and themselves rich at the time.
This as we know was damned by Taylor who was between a rock and a hard place - with the hard line right Brethren objecting to this type of behaviour because it sets brother against brother and sister against sister. It creates an internal class system. Worse, it goes against Christ and his example.
My friend was nodding sagely at this point I would imagine, but having whipped me up into a state of high excitement, I went on. When I was a kid, I said, some brethren had beach houses. At beach resorts. I remember these because I spent most of my childhood summers enjoying the beach house hospitality of several well heeled brethren, which had another added benefit. While on holiday at your beach house, it being the holiday season, you did not have to attend any church unless it was the supper. So the beach was the place to be. Sunny days, swimming, eating and lazing about with no boring church and no rules.
Guess what! Today the Brethren are allowed to have beach houses again!
An expensive undertaking in this part of the world. Even a bog ordinary beach house here will set you back a million. The leader in Melbourne, as an example of this new thinking (the 20 year Wilderness survivor - who went from feather duster to rooster -or goose even - in one easy move) has a beach house, to wind down from his business interests and to soak up some of the profits of his highly successful business empires, which were developed with the help of his mate in Sydney.
It won't be long before Hales will be setting up a new assembly in Byron Bay or Bateman's Bay. And you can bet who will have a new house on the point looking across one of God's most magical sights- the Pacific Ocean.
Thirty years ago they were throwing people out of their midst for going anywhere near a beach. Go figure.
So when my mate asks why, I say because they are now a whole new ballgame. Brash, litigious, wealthy, demanding, entitled, benefiting from the filthy lucre of evil worldly taxpayers, on first name terms with Prime Ministers, decision makers and people to be reckoned with.
They are on Facebook, have sparkling new websites, they tweet, Instagram and use every worldly means to further their business ambitions. They go nowhere without their mandatory Blackberries or tablets. They are a tech savvy global commercial enterprise. They go to China to do business despite there being no meeting there (a real no no in my day) they comb the globe for opportunity and best price and bolster up their networks to slay their worldly opposition. They even have UBT heavies and operatives come into each other's businesses to keep an eye on profits and practices. All of which is surely reported back to the big man in Sydney. This way when he needs another million for something or other, he knows exactly who to ring to get it. And they say - What an honour to be asked! It's a magnificent system! A thing of great fiscal beauty.
Sure they destroyed people over silly rules that are now common practice among them. Sure they destroyed families as well. Sure they deprived people of their birthrights internationally so they hung on to every cent they could. Sure they branded people as evil and wicked and satanic and opposers. But look at the harvest they now enjoy. Look at what they have reaped. (Look at who they have raped?)
Don't be downhearted by fellow ex-Peeb friends. You gave your birthright so that others can live in luxury. You gave so that their wives can spend like drunken sailors. You gave so that they can drive expensive European cars and enjoy private jet travel. You gave so that they can enjoy private schooling and their own insurance, mortgage and business start up schemes. You gave that they may live! You gave so that they can live like kings!