Climate Change and Global Warming: To Be or Not to Be?

The former local weatherman, Kevin Williams, tweets a photo of all his weather chums at a restaurant. "Aha!" I said. "I KNEW it. It IS a cabal! There IS collusion!" He liked that.

Now, I happen to know that Kevin Williams thinks global warming is a hoax. It is no secret. He is very open about it. He follows and sometimes retweets content of the man-on-a-mission climate change denier JWspry. (NOT, so far as I know, any connection to the JW of Jehovah's Witnesses) So I tweeted: "Are they across the board on global warming or on the same page, one way or another?"

No answer.

So I tweeted: "Ahh. Avoiding the answer to that question is the key to continued cohesion. Probably as it should be. Not everything has to be a fight."

He liked that one.

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Of course. You can't fight all the time. People believe what they believe, according to how they interpret the facts. Or more likely, they believe what they believe, and then spin the available facts to give themselves intellectual cover. We are not nearly so unemotional as the champions of critical thought would have us believe. We are dominated by emotion forged in experience and we thereafter consult our brains to make it fly logically.

It is even as the Bible says with spiritual things. "Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God," says Romans 12:2. "Taste and see that Jehovah is good," says Psalm 34:8. What if someone tastes and sees that he is bad? Other than to advise he check his taste buds, there is little you can do about it. So don't get into judging. Present your version of truth as persuasively as you can and leave it at that. God knows whether he is a Trinity or not. He also knows whether he exists or not. Let him sort it out.

I asked Kevin (or was it JWspry?) about a previous post I wrote of how there was now 'Weather on Steroids.' He said it all depends upon what is reported. If you eagerly report all record highs and ignore all record lows, it does create that impression. Reporting means a lot. As Florence was churning over the Atlantic to deluge the Carolinas, everyone warned how it was especially fearsome because it was gathering strength over exceptionally warm waters made so by climate change. In fact, they were exceptionally cool waters and the surprise was that it became such a monster despite that.

Every time we hear, "it was the hottest summer since the year such and such," that means it was hotter in that year, and if anything, we are witness to global cooling, with lower highs. The stranded polar bear photo has admittedly been misrepresented, Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth' book has been lambasted for mishandling data to paint dire scenarios which have not panned out. To the extent emotion is the true driver in human affairs, Upton Sinclair's quote is the one to watch: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Big money is involved, either way, in climate change.

Me, I don't go there. It's not my cause. If humans are not ruining the earth in a Revelation 11:18 scenario via global warming, it is not as though they are too responsible to ever ruin the earth; it is that their combined activity is not powerful enough to do it. They are ruining it in plenty of other ways. To the extent 'ruining the earth' reflects the ruining the earth scenario of Genesis 6, it is not environmental factors at all being spoken of, but violence. Do we live in a violent world today? Tell me about it.

 


At the Cincinnati William H Taft Home

Cincinnati one hundred years ago was a low-lying bowl of pollution. Doctors told William Howard Taft’s parents to move high on the perimeter hills for the sake of his mother’s lungs, but she died soon after anyway. Driving past those hills one hundred years later in the course of our Cincinnati visit, we spotted the sign pointing up to his childhood home on Mount Auburn, now a National Historic Registry site with park rangers who do not go outside without donning their distinctive ranger hats.




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Taft, the 27th president, is not a well-known president, and one can commiserate with the rangers for the misfortune of not having been assigned a more famous person. Still, I ventured as a consolation, they probably do not have to unspin the apocryphal stories of self-styled experts who ‘know’ this or that bit of nonsense about Washington or Lincoln. They don’t, the guide acknowledged, but the reality is worse: self-styled experts don’t bother with Taft, leaving only the genuine experts, some of whom enjoy playing ‘stump the ranger.’ Our ranger confessed that she didn’t like that game.

Don’t tell Cincinnatians that their president was a nobody. Being mid-westerners not inclined to be overly full of themselves, they will concede that he did not exactly hit a grand slam in the game of fame. However, Cincinnati is Taft town, with multiple roads and institutions bearing the surname. William comes from a civics-minded family, and several generations right down to the present have served in political office. One grandson is featured below beside his unusually modest car for a Yale educated graduate. But politicians have been known to be ever-conscious that they are in the public eye, and perhaps his Ford Maverick is an attempt to reel in the suckers with this bit of proof that he, like them, is but a regular guy.

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Upon reflection, you may discover even before the locals do that William might have become a heavy hitter had not his former mentor and friend turned adversary returned from shooting elephants in Africa to run against him, splitting the Republican ticket with his newly formed ‘Bull Moose’ party. Had it not been for that, Taft would have won a second term in 1912 and Woodrow Wilson would not have become president. Since Taft was staunchly anti-war, perhaps the U.S. would not have entered the Great War, later rechristened World War I when there proved to be a sequel.

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William Taft is unique in that he is the only person to have headed two branches of government. Eight years after his presidency he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by then-President Harding. Continuing to work after the presidency has not happened during my lifetime, but our guide pointed out that the monitory rewards of the job were not that great at the time, still reflecting the ideals that persons in government would serve for a relatively short time before returning to private life. It is the same reason that Martin Van Buren, whose home I also visited, is listed in a post-Presidency census as farmer in his New York State community.

Word association being what it is, one wonders if Taft does not subconsciously suffer in the public eye due to his name rhyming with graft. If anyone will blow that ‘science’ out of the water, he will. Consistently we read of an impeccable character. For example, an interpretive poster on display at the home reads: “Campaign financing was an issue because of the fear that big corporations were corrupting politics for their own ends. Taft personally turned down questionable campaign contributions. Roosevelt, somewhat less fastidious, wrote to him “I have always said you would be the greatest President, bar only Washington and Lincoln, and I feel mighty inclined to strike out the exceptions. My affection and respect for you are increased by your attitude about contributions. But really I think you are oversensitive” in this matter, and the rift between the two men, once BFFs, began when Taft began to regard with suspicion some of Roosevelt’s Big Business friends.

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Anti-corruption ran in the family. Despite his father Alphonso’s being in the doghouse locally, he was appointed to a position on Ulysses Grant’s cabinet, since he was “as honest as the day is long.” The ‘doghouse’ came because, as Justice of the Cincinnati District Court, he ruled against inclusion of the King James Bible in public school curriculum. He was forever labeled irreligious, but his concern was, ‘What of the Catholics and Jews who used different texts?’ He didn’t want to elevate one branch of religion at the expense others. Our ranger guide said he probably would not have had a problem with the curriculum otherwise. It was a decision he remained ever proud of.

One of Alphonso’s law students, a black man, George Washington Williams, went on to become a an Ohio politician, historian and diplomat, and had high words of praise for Alphonso as he seconded his nomination for governor in 1879: “Judge Taft, the only white man in the cabinet of any President during the last eighteen years who had the manhood, the temerity and humanity to exact the powers of the Constitution of the United States to protect the black man in the re-exercise of his constitutional rights.”

The William Taft home, high upon the hill in North Cincinnati, doubled in space soon after the boy Taft, his siblings and parents moved in; eight rooms for six people proved too tight for an upper middle class family. The addition results in an odd interior design of a stairwell running straight up to the second floor meeting an inline one running straight down. The house was sold in time to one owner after another as the area declined, and the latter owner converted it into apartments. When the National Historic Society bought it back, they managed to strip several layers of wallpaper to uncover the original, which was in bad shape, but from it an exact replica could be made.

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Can an honest man be truly happy in politics? “Taft was ambitious, but it almost seems that he ran for the Presidency to satisfy his supporters rather than himself,” says an interpretive poster at his old home. William’s mother had forecast that, “the malice of the politicians would make you miserable,” and he himself confessed to his wife, ‘politics, when I am at it, makes me sick.’ It is little wonder that after the presidency, he himself dove into the world of the Supreme Court, where he could referee and straighten out some of the messes that his former cohorts made.


Moses Strikes the Rock and Draws Water in a Rebellious Age

“Finally, Moses cried out to Jehovah: “What should I do with this people? A little longer and they will stone me!” as the Israelites went online and complained 24/7 over everything under the sun. It is an update Exodus 17:4 into the present. Though the July 2018 Watchtower article entitled ‘Where are Your Eyes Looking?’ nowhere makes the connection, beyond a vague reference to those having ‘a measure of responsibility in God’s organization,’ which everyone took as a reference to congregation elders, I couldn’t help but think the ones of the Governing Body had themselves foremost in mind as beneficiaries of the counsel offered.

It is not as though I have any special insight. It is just that I hang out on the internet a lot and I hear all the grousing going on. It is not necessarily to my credit that I do this. It may be like the impression you get from hearing Trump and Obama people scream online at each other day and night but then you go into the real world and you find that people get along with each other tolerably well despite differences, and it is just the internet that gives a skewed picture.

Much was made of the instance in which Moses produced water from the rock at God’s direction. He did it twice, something that I had forgotten, if I ever knew it in the first place. The first was months after crossing the Red Sea, during a time when there was so much muttering over lack of water that Moses in frustration cried out the words above. It didn’t occur to them that the God who slammed Egypt with ten plagues and parted the waters, closing them upon the army in pursuit, could solve the problem of a drought. Jehovah told Moses to strike a rock. Moses did, and water gushed out. (Exodus 17)

The next instance was almost 40 years later, and the people seem to have worn Moses down, what with constant bellyaching and occasional rebellion throughout the interim. This time when they started complaining over the same thing, Moses lost it. “Hear, now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you from this crag?” and struck the rock twice, after which water again gushed out. But God didn’t like what Moses had shouted. Much later Psalm 106: 32-33 says, ‘They provoked him at the waters of Meribah, and it went badly for Moses because of them. They embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.”

Look, if you approach the speaker after a good talk and tell him it was a good talk, he will as often as not say something to the effect that it is not really him who should get the credit, but Jehovah. He says that even though people are capable of speaking all by themselves without any help at all from Jehovah. So what about someone who takes full credit for doing what no human in a thousand years could do? It is what Moses did. Yet that’s what can happen when the scoundrels are nipping at your heels day and night for forty years. This last bit of correction from God, that Moses as a result of his outburst would not be the one to take his countrymen into the promised land, strikes the average reader as pretty harsh. Yet it is entirely in harmony with ‘to whom more is given, more will be expected,’ and ‘he will finish your training; he will make you firm.’ Moses, like everybody else, is being trained for the real life, not this transitory one.

Notwithstanding that the internet is the perfect breeding ground for complainers, one has to ask. ‘What is it with all these malcontents?’ It is as though kicking against the goads is the order of the day, seen everywhere. Acquiescence to the authority of the parent, the teacher, the counselor, the coach, the boss, the consulted advisor, the party leader, the union steward, and those taking the lead in the congregation was once an entirely unremarkable fact of life; today it is selling out one’s soul. I begin to imagine the GB posting God’s rebuke to Moses as their own personal yeartext, in hopes that they do not also lose it one day kicking back at the grumblers.

God counted that complaining about Moses as complaining about Him. “When your forefathers tested me; They challenged me, though they had seen my works,” reads Psalm 96:6. ‘Yeah, well, they’re no Moses,’ I can hear the retorts already, ‘Where are their comparable works? What Red Sea did they lead anyone though?’

No, I think people should think very hard before they go there. The human component of the divine-human interface is always the sticking point. It is even so with Judas. He and God were tight; there were absolutely no problems there. But that fraud that claimed to be the Messiah! That was just too much for Judas.

Observing that literal food and drink prefigures the greater spiritual food and drink, the accomplishments of the Witness organization today are nothing short of amazing, The average person of a developing nation is stuck with some 200 year-old turkey of a translation that he can neither afford nor understand because those in the church world think it only natural that Big Business be entrusted with the distribution of God’s word. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses devise an entirely separate channel to place a modern understandable translation in his hands at minimal cost, even free. The Bible satisfactorily answers questions that are answered nowhere else, the deeper questions of life such as ‘Why would God permit suffering, why do people die and what is the hope afterward, and what is the ultimate purpose of life?’ Although this fellow may not have a nickel to his name, he has access to the answers no less than someone in more affluent lands, some of whom count it as nothing as they grouse about matters of personal inconvenience.

It is not nothing. However, when people become obsessed with their own immediate needs and wants, it can become as nothing. I don’t dare do it: simply become a whiner over present inconveniences. There are some inconveniences, of course, in pursuing a united service to God today, but to carry on excessively about them seems to me a reality not too far off from Moses in Sinai. In any organization there is a chance that a given decision will not go your way. Should organization be jettisoned on that account? It is exactly what opposers would wish. That way individuals flail away, accomplish little, and can likely be absorbed in time by the popular cause.

Obviously if you take away the upside there become nothing left other than to bitch about the downside. The rage today of the young is to go atheist. Who smoothed that path for them? However, when they come around complaining about the ‘restrictions’ they have broken free from, always ask them what they have found that is better. What is it that they have to offer? Are they not just ‘promising them freedom’ while existing as ‘slaves of corruption’? What do they have to offer? Simply the freedom to do whatever one wants without check? History shows that freedom has not worked out particularly well for humankind.

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The Serena Williams Child Doesn't Do Birthdays. Parts 2.5 and 3

Normally the progression is from Part 2 directly into Part 3. It should be here as well, except that Serena Williams reached a landmine of her career in the interim and it cannot be passed over. At the U.S Open she made headlines for converting a physical loss into a moral win. But it depends on who you talk to. If you didn’t like her before, you will dislike her more. If you liked her before you will like her more. I’ll take the latter.

Part 2.5:

The U.S. Open ref with the poofy hair penalized her three times, only the second of which was a slam-dunk for real. When you’re hot, you’re hot, and she blew up at him. Not at first when she said: “We don’t have any code and I know you don’t know that and I understand why you may have thought that was coaching but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.” (The coach said later that he was coaching, but that it happens all the time, and he does it less than most, a point on which sportswriters agreed.)

But she sure did blast him after missing a shot and mashing her racket (which also is common): “You owe me an apology,” she shouted. “I have never cheated in my life, I have a daughter and I stand what’s right for her.” See what motivates her these days? See what she had been stewing about? Her daughter and the example set for her. The same daughter that does not do birthdays.

She called the ref a ‘thief’ for taking away the point that presaged her meltdown and that also counted against her. Men say “F**k you!” to the umpire all the time without consequence, so most agreed that she did catch it on account of being a woman, as she heatedly charged.

Her opponent Osaka won the match, but everyone booed. As soon as Serena noticed her upset and tears, she ran and embraced her and told the crowd not to boo, even through her own tears: “I don’t want to be rude. I don't want to interrupt and I don't want to do questions. I just want to tell you guys she played well and this is her first grand slam,” at which point everyone cheered.

It is so like the Bible admonition to “keep an eye, not on your own interests, but on those of the other person’s” that one wonders if she did not absorb it from her Witness upbringing. Or maybe it is just her and has nothing to do with the Bible. Either way, it means she will make a fine Jehovah’s Witness should she get everything together. She has high reputation. “…people who hate on Serena Williams' "character" obviously don't follower her off the court. She's a competitor between the lines, but a role model off the court as a person and a celebrity,” tweeted sports commentator Jeff Eisenband.

One can even picture Serena retiring at this point. Not that I would will it, necessarily, but it could happen. She is now a mom with suddenly another life to care for, a common turning point in a woman’s life. There are things about Jehovah’s Witnesses and pro sports that are not entirely compatible, such as providing opportunities to blow one’s top. The two courses are not absolutely incompatible, but they pose a challenge.

Part 3:

Part 2 ended with the suggestion that Serena might succeed in showing up the anti-JW Reddit group for what they are. It is a chicken’s way out—say something like that and then close the post, thank you very much, take your beefs to the curb. It is better to take a square look at just what they are. ‘What are they,’ anyway, that Reddit group? They are a motley assortment of people of varying talents, with the common denominator of distaste for discipline and a determination to kick over the traces. It’s regarding the Witness organization here, but the trend is seen everywhere. Despite abundant evidence that unbridled self-determination does not work out particularly well for people, they nonetheless want to go that route. It is the order of the day. People do not want to be ‘told what to do’ by anyone and they are very touchy on what constitutes being ‘told what to do.’ Thwart their definition and you are toast.

If they are to be called ‘apostates,’ they mirror apostates of the first century. Of them, Peter says they “revel in their deceits while carousing with you,” have “eyes full of adultery,” “are insatiable for sin.” How does that become a problem unless there is someone who would tell them they can’t? The governing arrangement back then cannot have been too different from what it is today, given that it oversaw a much smaller field. Plainly, there was discipline then, and the ‘apostasy’ came from those who didn’t like it.

The Reddit grousers carry a range of beefs against the Witness organization, many quite tiny and pumped up, but some more substantial. Of the latter, there are those aggrieved at suffering child sexual abuse, rarely from someone in authority, but occasionally so. They now want a day of reckoning if it turns out that the molester was not turned over to police, regardless of how they were handled through congregational investigation. It is not the same as the Church, where abuse appears common among clergy. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, even after adjusting for size differences, if you want a similar ‘catch,’ you must broaden your nets to include, not just ‘clergy,’ but everybody.

An aggrieved victim of child sexual abuse is proving the most powerful force in the universe these days. Who would ever have thought that the greater world would attempt to ‘out-righteous’ the Christian congregation on this one? It has happened nowhere else. Moreover, the ‘out-righteousing’ is illusory. Despite 30 years combatting pedophiles, there is precious little to show for it. We constantly hear of crimes committed by ones already tagged as abusers—why, they lived right down the street. While reporting abusers is certainly a good thing, decades of doing so has made little dent in the pandemic. Better to focus on prevention, and here there is reason to feel that the Witness regimen and teachings are effective to a greater degree than those of the overall world.

The ‘crime’ alleged of the Jehovah’s Witness organization is rarely an actual crime. It is generally ‘failing to go beyond the law’ in years past, to report abusers, unless members themselves chose to do it. They could have, but often they did not because the Witness religion is ‘insular,’ the charge goes. Being ‘insular’ is but a tiny misstep away from being ‘separate.’ The latter is a biblical requirement of those who would serve God.

You almost wish there would be a statement someday from the Witness organization:

“Look, here’s what happened. We extended 1 Corinthians 6:7 into non-financial matters. We did it because we were insular, an unintended byproduct of being separate. We believe that saying separate from the world is a biblical necessity, the only position from which to help distressed ones in it. “Really, it is already a defeat for you when you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded,” is the verse we extended. We tried to root out child abuse in our midst at a time few others looked into it, and we did the best we could. Sorry.”

Yes, frame it as an apology, if need be. People love apologies and forgive much for it. Determined opposers will not, of course. They will say it is an admission of guilt and/or incompetence and proves you must be fired, but this is par for the course and happens everywhere. Might such a statement stumble some of the ‘sheep’? Possibly, particularly ones who know nothing of it. But it will be more than offset by new persons who admire the candor and can well understand that real Christianity must be separate from a decaying world. And the stumbled ones are not lost. Another mea culpa may do the trick, such as with a 1975 date that didn’t turn out as hoped:

“Um, sorry. We never outright said it, really, but we came close enough to stoke up the hopes of people who hoped to see it that way. At the drop of a pin, Jesus’ followers thought The End was tomorrow. In hindsight, maybe we should have reckoned more on how easy it is to get people going. Still, we did not want to ignore the Lord’s command to ‘keep on the watch’ and the trigger that prompted the excitement was not nothing.”

The former announcement will not make people happy on the Reddit forum; they still have 50 more beefs. But it will many others. Not all victims of injustice within the congregation go the outside legal system and sue their brothers. Most will say: ‘Congregation justice may not be perfect, but it sure is head and shoulders over the justice of the outside world.’ It is a lawyer’s playground out there, with massive transfers of funds in all directions for every conceivable wrong with the barristers netting a third Some congregation members, even wronged ones, will prefer to put their trust in 1 Timothy: “The sins of some men are publicly known, leading directly to judgment, but those of other men become evident later.” It’s not perfect. But it beats the greater world’s justice which so frequently falls down of the job.

Serean 3

 


No Need to Read Anything Into this Post. Good Luck if You Do. It is Just Me Playing

Call me Ishmael. For many years I sailed onboard the Pequod with the crazed Captain Rookoo in his maniacal search for Moby Geddon.

"Captain, whale sighting dead ahead!" seawoman Anna shouted out. "Maybe you're wrong!" Rookoo muttered and shoved her so violently that she toppled overboard, petticoats all aflutter.

"Captain Rookoo," seaman Gabworthy stated. "My calculations indicate a 78% probability of the while whale's proximity within 23 cubits. Of course, accuracy is necessary, but if you triumverate the trifecta intersect, the conclusion is justified. Look, if you will, at page 673 of 'Nautical Nocturnal Habits of Northern Hemisphere Mammals' that I brought from my private library, which along with others, explains why the entire ship lists six degrees. It clearly indicates (see chart) that...."

"Gag this fellow, and get him out of my sight!" roared Rookoo.

Moby Geddon breached and the consequent splash soaked every square inch of the vessel. "Captain!" seaman Dorsal shouted, "I sense the whale is near!" "Liar!" Rookoo shouted. "Throw him in irons below!"

"I'll handle that gladly sir, hehehehe." seaman Sreck responded.

Moby Geddon breached again and this time its tail caught the stern of the Pequod and spun it like a pinwheel. "Captain!" seaman Whitepebble cried, "Surely the whale is near!"

"Throw him to the sharks for calling me Shirly!" Rookoo bellowed. "I'll have respect here, do you hear?!"

"Now hear this, you scurvy dogs! I have a great job offer in Port Pogo, the best I've ever had, and I mean to get there straightaway. Don't cross me, or I'll have you walk the plank like I did seaman French and Kiss long ago!"


~~~***~~~



Perched high up in the mainsail crowsnest of the good ship PequodRedux, crewman Jack gazed at the horizon.

”Look sharp, up there,” First Mate Rookoo bellowed, “but not too sharp! I’m enjoying the best meal I ever had down here in the Pogo galley. Don’t screw it up!”

“Belay that order!” Captain Dorsal roared. “Keep on the watch up there! The dreaded pirate ship TerribleA is in these waters, trying to catch us with our pants down!”

”Yeah, whatever,” crewman Jack replied, as he removed his pants on account of the blistering heat. “This ‘keep on the watch’ stuff can be overdone. I’ll spot the TerribleA when its bow crashes through the deck and pinches my toes!”


~~~***~~~



“Aye, look ye sharp up there, Jack, for the approaching ship TerribleA! She’s out there! Oh yes, she’s out there!” ordered Captain Dorsal.

“But I forgot what I was supposed to do,” whined Jack.

”Very well, me lad. I’ll send Second Mate Gabworthy up there to give you some pointers about what to look out for.”

“NO! NOT HIM! I REMEMBER HOW TO DO IT. I WAS JUST FUNNING. I DIDN’T MEAN...” screamed Jack in a panic.

But it was too late. Second Mate Gabworthy joined him aloft, with his reassuring manner, he having sailed in the old days with Captain French and Captain Mustard. Aye, Gabworthy was his usual pithy self when he put his arm around the inexperienced sailor, and gave him some reminders, which ran pages and pages and pages.

Whale

 


The Serena Williams Child Does Not Do Birthdays. Part 2

No sooner did I liken Serena Williams to Queen Esther for her possible future role of exposing the evildoers, than someone said: “Um, she’s not exactly Queen Esther, you know. Didn’t she appear bare-naked, unmarried, and pregnant on that Vanity Fair cover? And you know that birth is not like the one of Mary.”

Well, I actually hadn’t thought of that, if I ever knew it in the first place. Still, it changes nothing. She openly acknowledges she likes the faith but has not practiced it. Now she means to. Is it a bad thing when she has, in the past, called herself a Jehovah’s Witness?

You know, ordinarily, yes. But in this case, not necessarily. People love celebrities and will usually concede that they live in a world of their own, facing unique pressures.

For better or for worse, nobody makes a big deal of sex before marriage anymore. I don't even think the news writer of the article that her child won’t do birthdays thought to mention it, or maybe she did and it didn’t register. That people do not make a big deal of it is 'for worse,' usually, because Word says that they should, the but in this case, it is 'for better.'

Totally without evidence, based only upon a feel for the way people are, I think her vehement critics are ones who dislike Jehovah’s Witnesses, who spot the disparity of conduct and want to slam us with it. Besides these ones are many Witnesses themselves, who also spot it. Few others care.

Has she lived up to the faith in the past? She says very openly that she has not. Now she reaches a point where she says she will. I think it is a very good thing. Okay, okay, so she is no Queen Esther. Call her the Samaritan woman by the well, a women who carried on more than Serena ever did off the court, yet lived to be a powerful witness for the Lord.

Do we have a woman who is a mixed bag, having done things good and bad, and who now wants to make them all good? I'll take it every time. it is in the spirit of Jesus, I think, who came to save persons ill who had become aware of their spiritual need. She will straighten out all those things before baptism, of course, should she continue on the path she now says she was to pursue more single-mindedly. Love hopes all things and believes all things. Sometimes it is even proved wrong. But it keeps hoping and believing

Moreover, to go back to the original point of my post, part one, this Reddit group has done Witnesses huge mischief. The Philly reporter used it as his source to write four incendiary anti-JW articles in a row to present a seeming scandal without the context that illuminates it.

This group is trying with all its might to equate Jehovah's Witnesses with the sins of the Catholic church. It is a stretch, because abusers in the Church are clergy. Even after making adjustments for size, if you want to get the same 'catch' among Jehovah's people, you must broaden your net to include, not just 'clergy,' but everybody. That doesn't mean that some are not diligently trying to do it, and equate some 'non-reporting to authorities' in previous years to being actual incubators of child abuse. They are up to no good, and the alleged sin in such cases is generally  'failing to go beyond the law' in reporting such cases to police. I continually make the point that if it is so crucial to 'go beyond the law' then that should become the law, the same point that Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Witnesses’ Governing Body, made to a recent inquiry.

If Serena was to prompt her husband, the Reddit founder, to weigh in on that group in our favor and expose them for what they are (see upcoming Part 3), I believe she would be forgiven 'a multitude of sins,' even if she never did manage to get it all together in her own life, as she seems to want to do. In fact, in the event of that outcome, and to bring matters full circle, that would be an example of something else Mordecai said to his niece. If salvation does not come through spotless Esther, it will come from some other source. Either way, I’ll take it and say ‘thank you’ to the Lord and see if there is more ammunition lying around.


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Did the Watchtower Give Women Bad Advice?

It is ever the pitfall of zealots that they are so eager to prove a point that, in their haste, they will grab something that proves just the opposite, yet continue to gloat as though have found the smoking gun. Such was the case when atheists at Friendly Atheist tore their hair out over “some truly horrific advice to women in abusive relationships,” from the December 2018 Watchtower magazine. They were to stay in them no matter what!

Well, that does sound truly horrific and there were many who immediately condemned the scoundrels who would give such a vile command. Others went to the article first, where they discovered that it says nothing of the sort.

Isn’t this just atheists depriving women of the right to choose? It is ironic because they generally claim to be champions of that right. The article makes clear that a woman always has a choice, that she need not be railroaded into an action just because it is societally popular.

Some leave amidst these very trying circumstances. Some stay. Either action works from the congregation’s point of view. They have the right to choose. How is that the Watchtower ‘urging them to stay with an abusive mate no matter what,’ the accusation of the atheists? If a woman wants to try to salvage a marriage, what business is that of theirs? It may be an unwise decision, or it may be the best decision she ever made, but either way, it is her decision.

Given the staggering cost of family breakup, emotional, mental, financial, and long-lasting damage to the kids, if a woman decides to stick it out more than athiests approve, with a view towards salvage, who is to say she is crazy? Possibly reading this post are veterans of two, three, four, or more failed relationships who wish they had put more effort into a given one. If she pulls it off, she has gained something very good.

These are not short-term hookings-up that we are speaking of, latching on to some loser that you cut loose as soon as you see what he is. These are marriages of years or decades’ duration. In some cases, they never used to be abusive but they have become so due to who knows what factors? Dignify the woman as having the judgement to decide, based upon history, pressures affecting her man, and factors only she might know, as to whether he should be jettisoned or not.  If the lout has to go, he goes. Just don’t let some third party push you into it. The choice is always hers.

It is as though the grumblers cheer at the breakup of a marriage, oblivious to the damage left in its wake. It is as though they would prevent one from trying to repair theirs. Let her try if she wants to, or even put up with one far from ideal, if that be her choice. Sometimes when you are between a rock and a hard place, you don’t assume or let the atheists tell you that the hard place is really a bed of roses. It isn't always that way. I mean, it is not exactly as they will be around to repair the damage, is it?

Okay, granted, they like marriage over there in the Jehovah’s Witness world. Until fairly recently, everybody did, and considered family the bedrock of society. Witnesses consider it a divine institution. That doesn’t mean others have to, but surely it means Witness women should be allowed to. They let their view be bound by biblical injunctions. Adultery is the one acceptable ground for ending a marriage, but even then, it does not have to be; it is always possible for the innocent mate to exercise his or her right of choice and forgiveness.

Several decades ago the Witness organization took note, as did all of society, of the increasingly visible ne’er-do-wells who, while they might not be unfaithful, were nonetheless ugly to live with. It took another look at 1 Corinthians 7, a chapter that deals with marital matters, and sometimes people are surprised at how it says a husband and wife both owe each other sex (no, not ‘on demand’ – don’t even go there) and should not be depriving the other of it. Specifically, they looked at verses 12 and 13: “If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is agreeable to staying with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is agreeable to staying with her, let her not leave her husband.” 'Maybe a marriage mate’s conduct says he is ‘not agreeable,’ regardless of what his words say,' they reasoned.

For some time, therefore the guidance for women (or men) in not-so-hot marriages is that there are three conditions that any one of which might justify separation sans tongues clucking: if there is extreme physical abuse, if there is willful non-support, and if there is absolute endangerment of spirituality. It is at once apparent that much in is the eye of the beholder, so from time to time Watchtower publications revisit the subject, so that congregation members are guided by what they signed on for in the first place, and not unduly influenced by what is all the rage elsewhere. If the bad egg must be fried, let him fry. A woman always has that right. But she needn’t feel railroaded into that choice by a flood of outside pressure.

Any Witness woman knows this, because she has read and considered the entire article, not just the cherry-picked paragraph, and she has taken into account how it fits into her overall framework of knowledge. You almost begin to think what causes the steam to emit from atheist ears is another possible benefit of the woman’s forsaking her right to leave: Maybe the ‘unbelieving’ husband will become a believing one. How is that a bad thing?  If the guy makes it as a Jehovah's Witness, he will have made significant inroads against what makes him such a loser in the first place. 

Read the entire article here.

Argument

 


At the Beatles Tribute Mr. Mustard Concert

I got my Mr. Mustard pin because I was the first to show up, with my party of four. I chatted a little with the band, not too much, just a few words, because they were tuning up and I did not want to be responsible for a lousy concert because they had failed to tune up.

I set up our chairs, and then we took off to see the other sights of tiny Honeoye, such as the spectacular view of the lake from the Harriet Hollister State Recreation area. Surely, our visiting friends would like the Mr. Mustard Beatles tribute band as much as we had 5 days before. Though the audience was to be tiny compared to the prior show in a much larger facility, I liked this concert more. It had more of a ‘hoedown’ air about it, the five guys on the town gazebo.

Honeoye concerts start surprisingly late, at 7 PM. This time of year, it means darkness falls during, and the guys soon enough said they could only see silhouettes, nothing more, so the audience should make noise, which they did. Then someone figured that waving flashlight trick with the smart phones, which many did but not me because I don’t know how to use that feature.

The second person to get a Mr. Mustard pin was a woman with a dozen years on me, no spring chicken, even more than I am no spring chicken. Whoa, you should have seen her shake it. When she got up for a second time, I checked with HQ, then with her husband who said “Go ahead, I can’t keep up with her,” and joined her in bouncing. Presently, my wife and several others all scooted up to the front and jumped in, sort of a group hop.

They don’t dress like the Beatles or pretend to be them. Their website says they have enough hair between them to make up one Beatle. The instrumentals are near perfect, and the vocal timbre is surprisingly close and seems to improve as the show goes on, as the five (not four) faithfully replay Beatles tunes old and new. They hiccupped with the opening vocals of Paperback Writer (which I should have sung because I, too, want to be one), but that was the only blemish that I heard. Got to Get You Into My Life, the only Beatles song with french horns more than made up for it. They do the flipside medley of Abbey Road. Come to think of it, though, I have never actually heard them do their namesake, Mean Mr. Mustard.

Two or three times one of the guys even did his own Ed Sullivan voice, as though he was Ed himself introducing the boys. They took note of a kid in the audience who was most attentive and for the final encore song, let him sing the lead to “When I Saw Her Standing There.” Presumably someone was ready to turn down the mike in case he stunk. Instead, he turned out to be a highlight of the show, with vocals as strong as any one of the guys. The guys are great fun, highly recommended. Most of those there are old-timers reliving the music that they grew up with. Still, the liveliest one in the dance area was a teenage girl, hopping more energetically than everyone else put together.

The meme around here, for those who know me, involves my daughter’s dog, who we care for right now, and whose purpose in life is to chase cats. The guys will not use these lyrics because the audience would stone them for it. Besides, they are mine. Still, if they offer to serve as backup, maybe someday I will sing ‘With a Little Help from You Chumps.’ (sung to the tune of ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’)

~~~***~~~

Fleas, fleas, fleas….

What would you do if I swallowed your cat?

Would you stand up and walk out on me.

Give me a break, it was juicy and fat.

You should take it not so personally.

Oh, I get by with a little help from you chumps

Please understand when I bark you should jump.

Here is a shovel – go pick up my dumps.

How do you feel when you’re left by yourself?

‘Don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine.’

What do you see on the counter or shelf?

‘I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.’

Oh, I get by with a little help from you chumps

Please understand when I bark you should jump.

Here is a shovel – go pick up my dumps.

Do you need anybody?

I just need someone naïve.

Could it be anybody?

So long as he is naïve.

Would you believe they’ll catch on to your tricks?

‘No, I’m certain it won’t happen anytime.’

How do you know they won’t give you the slip?

‘Cause they’re stupid, and their heart is mine.

Oh, I get by with a little help from you chumps

Oh, understand when I bark you should jump.

Here is a shovel – go pick up my dumps.

Yes, I get by with a little help from you chu, with a little help from you

CHUH HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH UH UMMMMPPPPPPPS!

400AD88F-825B-4D7A-BCFA-01A656F2B4C2


I'll Stay Where There is a Measure of Sanity

Q: "Since the Organization has received "new light" regarding the 1914 generation, and completely changed their view on this, does this mean that all the former Jehovah's Witnesses who were disfellowshipped years ago for the same view the organization is now teaching will automatically be accepted into fellowship again?"

Of course. It is not automatic, though. Such ones have gone on to other things. What are you going to do, search the globe for them?

If they have not gotten too carried away with their own brilliance, they can apply for reinstatement and providing that that is the sole hang-up, yes, they will be reinstated.

This is not rocket science. It happens all the time. The Witness organization is very open about it. Many times they have adjusted a viewpoint to coincide with what somebody else years ago said. Alas, often that 'somebody else' is long gone. I thnk this was mentioned again on a recent monthly broadcast. John says that they went out from among us 'because they were not of our sort.' Part of being 'of our sort' is acquiescing to the theocratic direction that they signed on for in the first place. (1 John 2:19)

Look, if you want to belong to some outfit where everyone can have an epiphany and then become livid at everyone else for not falling into line, be my guest. I'll stay where there is a measure of sanity.

Idea


Banned at the Apostate Website!

I got banned at the apostate website! Can you believe it? I was the very personification of respect and good-manners. Of course, I was also the very personification of tenacity, but it was still me against a dozen others. Now that I have been muzzled, it may be me against 100. Cedars worked so hard to get me to engage and as soon as I did, he tossed me out!

Actually, he wanted me to engage on his podcast, where you shoot from the hip. Again and again, he invited me there. I thought a forum in which you can think out your remarks beforehand was better. I put a human face on an outfit he is trying very hard to demonize, and I think that finally took him to his limit.

After making six or eight comments on his site, I found this:

Cedars: “I simply want to present the other point of view,” well, that’s partly true, Tom. You want to present “the other point of view” on your own terms – i.e. by trolling me in comments and tweets. You don’t quite have the guts to come on my YouTube channel for a conversation where you can express “the other point of view” (Watchtower’s point of view, which everyone is already aware of) in front of thousands of people. You’d much rather selectively violate the command to refrain from engaging with apostates as it suits you. Again, I wonder if there are any other commands from your masters “the Slave” regarding which you feel it’s ok to pick and choose? Or is your hypocrisy confined solely to this particular area of Watchtower’s rulebook?”

When I tried to reply, I found I was blocked. There was nothing to do but take it on the Twitter street, where I found the same response:

Cedars: “My point is you are already violating the rules by engaging with me (some would say trolling) on Twitter and my JWsurvey article. You may as well go the whole hog and come on my YouTube channel for an interview if you have something to say, but I doubt you have the backbone.”

Tom: “I don’t. Better thought-out written remarks than shoot-from-the-hip debate. Did I really just get banned at your site? Despite 2 tries, my last reply to you did not stick. All were polite, respectful, and on-topic. None repeated. (1)

“If that is ‘trolling’ it is not like the liar who pretended to be GJ, even tweeting “Pray for our brothers in Russia” before presently revealing he didn’t give a hoot in hell for our brothers in Russia. It was all a ruse to draw in the guileless ones. (2)

“Let me post my blocked remark here and then call it quits for now: “Cedars, if I am misbehaving, you can toss me, and let persons reflect of the irony of that, since you repeatedly asked to me debate in the first place. 'Trolling' is in the eye of the beholder. (3)

“I have not insulted anyone, On the contrary, I have gone out of my way not to on several occasions. For example, when someone here said: 'You calling us liars who exaggerate?' I made clear that I was not. (4) 

“On forums where there is a comment section, I have never blocked anyone that I can recall. I would if someone became an abusive and unrelenting pest, but I have not yet had to. (5)

“In debate classes you are given an argument and assigned to take this side and then that. The clear message is that it is technique over substance. Better to write, where one can compose words with thought. Let both points of view be presented honestly, (6)

“Jesus never debated. In fact, he routinely did things that would infuriate devotees of debate. He used hyperbole. He answered questions with counter-questions. He spun involved parables that he rarely explained as a means of reaching the heart. (7)”

 

Cedars was not impressed with this exchange: “I'm amazed at your continuing excuses for refusing to come on my channel for a conversation (not debate, necessarily) when the real reason is: you are afraid you will be pulled into the backroom by your elders because engaging with apostates online is verboten.”

Tom: “You are young and vigorous. I am older who perhaps must take care that my teeth do not fall out or my cane trip me up. Or like Paul (2Cor10:10) whose letters are weighty but whose personal presence is weak. Or slow of speech like Moses. I believe I did not misrepresent anything (1)

“(2) I disagreed, which is not the same, always respectfully, and stood up for a group that you continually attack without check, and whose similar attacks have resulted in Russian machine guns literally pointed at the heads of some.

“(3) A substantial blow for free speech on a site that purports to celebrate freedom. [I tagged a couple of journalists at this point] Of course, I take no comments on my site either, but in doing so forsake the flood of accolades and attaboys from my chums, which you clearly do not with yours, now as tight as the Russian press.”

He did not take this lying down. There was a flurry of back and forth tweets: 

Cedars: “It has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with you knowingly misrepresenting my views and opinions. You can do that on here as much as you like, but on my website, nope.

“You get only one chance to not misrepresent/twist my words into something other than I meant or intended. You did this at least twice, hence you are blocked from commenting on JWsurvey, so please don't expect sympathy.”

[Did I do that, misrepresent him? He gave two examples, quoting me: [Let the reader use discernment]

1) "Cedars’ outrageous video assertion that elders visit patients in their hospital room to make sure they toe the line on blood policy." - An oversimplification. I am sure some elders visit patients on compassionate grounds, but that is not the sole thinking behind the HLC system. 

2) "Cedars assertion that when persons apply for reinstatement they do so just to reestablish social ties" - I never asserted that people only get reinstated to be reunited. I am sure many do so because, like you, they are simply indoctrinated and know no other way of living.

He didn’t like me tying him in with the Russian persecution, either: 

Cedars: “You cannot blame me for what's going on in Russia, which I have spoken out against unequivocally. Backward regimes have been persecuting religious minorities long before there was Google or YouTube.”


I declared war on these guys after the three (now four) incendiary anti-Witness articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and I learned that the reporter checked in at one such anti-Witness site between articles, as though he were Trump firing up the base. It is the only reason I would engage: journalists hang out there. Maybe just one, but who can say? One is enough. So I weighed in to offer such ones context that they will not get otherwise. A journalist wants that. It is an abundance of anecdotal evidence at the anti-Witness site, and anecdotal evidence must always be given context so as to mean anything. In a world of 8 billion people, you will find countless examples of anything. There must be context so that you know what you are looking at, and this is what I tried to supply until I was shown the trap door. I mean, it’s his site. He can do what he wants with it. But there is reason to hope no reporter will rely on it solely.

Here is the context I offered, all remarks made on his site before the window slammed shut on my fingers, with introduction in brackets. At every comment, a click on my name would link to a short justification for the disfellowshipping arrangement: 

[The subject of Cedar’s web post itself was disfellowshipping. Many of the participants presumably had undergone it. They didn’t like it.]

Tom: “In any forum where participants simply reinforce the prevailing view, matters eventually become skewed and inaccurate. So, I add the counterpoint, which I present for consideration and leave it at that. You have been after me for debate since you became aware of my existence, and this is as close as you are going to get. You are correct that Witnesses generally decline debates. Should I debate on your podcast, with all your chums cheering when you land a punch & wincing and doing damage control when I land one, while my chums don’t go in for that sort of thing in the first place? I don’t think so.

“When Kathy Griffin holds aloft the fake severed head of the President, are we to imagine that her Republican dad (if he is) says: ‘That’s my lass! She speaks her mind! It won’t affect holiday family cheer, though’? The example may help to explain how doing a 180 from previously held deeply moral views might cause a rift in the Witness family.

“It has been about a dozen years since the word ‘disfellowship’ has been heard in a Kingdom Hall. Instead, from time to time, an announcement is made that ‘so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ If he has done a 180 from ‘witnessing for Jehovah’ can anyone say that he is? I can recall no talk or article saying: ‘this announcement means that.’ It hasn’t happened, to the best of my knowledge. It is even said by some on this forum that they are ‘fading’ and no announcement of any sort has been made, yet they still come to feel shunned, whether that word is the accurate description or not in such cases. Adding to the situation is that Witnesses do not celebrate the traditional holidays, occasions where family members customarily regroup, whether they like one another or not, leaving only funerals as the inevitable occasion for gathering.

“The GB does not ‘tell’ people to shun family members. Instead, they say that if one has triggered what would cause separation, there is no reason to say that because he or she is family, that matters are necessarily different. Members apply that counsel as they see fit, but whatever they do, they do not have the sense that someone is telling, much less ordering them, to do so, but that someone alerted them long ago to relevant Bible passages on the subject, after which the Bible passages themselves guide them in what to do, as they consider whatever mitigating circumstances there are in their own family, often finding none, but not inevitably so.

“The idea that Witnesses can turn off love for a family member is incorrect (given that there are variations in families). A separation causes deep pain in those remaining ‘faithful.’ It is not just the departing one who suffers. However, they tell themselves that the family member did bring it own him or herself, that Jesus said his words could cause division in the family, and should that happen, loyalty to God trumps that for even family members. The door that was closed as a last-ditch attempt at ‘discipline’ was never locked and it is always possible to return.

“It is the notion of Christianity as a movement separate from the world, trying to serve as a beacon to it, pointing to something better, that is under attack, especially when people have gone atheist, all the rage today and a marked divergence from all previous history. The concept of ‘separateness’ from the greater world inevitably brings about situations such as the topic of this thread, yet it is a concept integral to Christianity. It is only by staying ‘clean’ that Christians feel able to lend a helping hand to others. I understand that will come across as very self-righteous, but it is not meant that way. Members freely confess that they screw up all the time, but that to the extent they are able to adhere to God’s standards, their lives improve, and their abilities to help others.”
[I apologized subsequently for saying: ‘Many participants here are thinking people,’ which implies that many are not.]

[One participant got ahold of a private elders’ book and waved it as though it was the smoking gun. In fact, it undermined his argument that at the drop of a pin members are dealt with harshly.]

“Though the discipline of the congregation is admittedly rough on those who will not be guided by it (like Saul ‘kicking at the goads’) ones here expand it to make it seem much harsher than it is. Yet when @Maxwell actually quotes an elder’s handbook, (presumably giving it his best shot) he reveals something much less harsh than what he portrays. Elders “counsel and reason,” not exactly the same as “ordering.” In the event that a congregation member does not respond to counsel, he is not thrown on the spit but he “would not qualify for congregation privileges.” Is that not a big ‘Duh’? If you want to enjoy privileges anywhere, you must toe the line more than if you do not reach out for such privileges. “He would not be dealt with judicially” unless there is “persistent” [not occasional] “spiritual association” [not nuts-and-bolts association] or he “openly” criticizes the disfellowshipping decision, thus undermining the method of governance that he signed on for in the first place.

“So it is not so harsh as portrayed. Moreover, it can be avoided, and once incurred, it can be repaired. The ‘crime,’ then, is the congregation’s desire to fulfill the Christian mandate of staying ‘separate from the world,’ the only position from which it feels able to render assistance to those who feel crushed under the latter’s weight. The book ‘Secular Faith – How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics’ attempts to reassure its secular audience through examining the changing moral stands of churches on five key issues. The book points out that today’s church members have more in common with atheists than they do with members of their own denominations of decades past. Essentially, the reassurance to those who would mold societal views is: ‘Don’t worry about it. They will come around. They always do. It may take a bit longer, but it is inevitable.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses have thwarted this model by not coming around. The congregation thinks it important to stick to the values that they signed on for, and they knew from the start God does not work through democracy. In order to preserve this unchanging model, it is necessary to have practices such as under discussion here, which can be tweaked some, as has happened per previous comment, but cannot be abandoned. No one has been able to ‘hold the line’ through decades of time without them.

“Cedars writes that he disapproves of Witnesses being arrested a jailed in Russia and I have no doubt that he means it. However, he disapproves in the same sense that the California arsonist disapproves of the state burning to the ground. One of the driving forces of the ban in that country is one Alexander Dvorkin, who pushes the same ‘anti-cult’ narrative endorsed by Cedars. He pushes it on many groups, not just Jehovah’s Witnesses, though they have been his prime target. He wants to ‘protect’ people by preventing them from hearing ideas that he thinks are ‘socially destructive,’ a goal not unlike some of the goals expressed here. The only difference is that he has seen it more fully accomplished.

“Acting on his prodding sends a clear “open hunting season” on religious minorities. Various human-rights and law experts convened in France in January 2018, where one of them observed of Mr. Dvorkin: He “enjoys disseminating inflammatory narratives and hate speech.” The reason that Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses have not caved under his mischief (which is added to nationalistic and dominant Church pressures) is that they do not see themselves as followers of “eight men,” the meme pushed here, but of the Bible. Acquiescing to the authority of the eight men taking the lead is little more than acquiescing to the authority of the teacher, boss, military leader, coach, parent, or consulted advisor, something that was once routine and unremarkable but is now portrayed as selling out one’s soul.”

[“Because of that you shouldn’t even be welcome here,” someone groused.]

“Andre, Cedars will determine that and I will respect him should he show me the door. Overall, I do respect him, though he is an enemy, for reasons stated above. He slants facts his way, but who doesn’t? He doesn’t make anything up, that I have ever seen, and does not seem to tolerate anyone that does go inaccurate on him.
“It is possible that even my own people will point me to the door, and I do not think that I am above them. They do not “order” me to stay out, as Cedars said (an example of something ‘slanted,’) but there is no question that such participation is not what is advised, by reason of some verses cited and some not yet. To some extent, I am being a ‘bad boy.’”

[Someone misunderstood what I said about disfellowshipping, and I tried to clear it up:]

“Sarah, when I said the word is not heard in the Kingdom Hall for a dozen years or so, I meant an announcement to that effect is not made. The phrase I mentioned, “so and so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses” is the announcement made from time to time. I did not mean to indicate that the word has disappeared from JW vocabulary.”

[A journalist had ambushed one of our people and I addressed that]

“When a person is unexpectedly accosted by a reporter wanting an answer to something that will take more than a sound bite to answer, everyone knows it is a cheap shot. That is not to say they do not cheer if it is an enemy, but they nonetheless know. People are not AI machines. His mind is a million miles away. Still, his discomfiture is inevitably and dishonestly painted as ‘proof’ that he is a flat-out liar. That is why respected sources content themselves with: “So and so was contacted but declined to comment for this article.”

 

I don’t know if it was a good idea or not. Like Howard Beale, I just got ‘mad as hell and couldn’t take it anymore.’ After every comment there came a torrent of abuse. I changed no one’s mind and was routinely called a hypocrite, sometimes an a*****e. You have to expect this going in and you cannot take it personally. You certainly cannot get into tit for tat, nor should you be so dumb as to say someone does not correctly perceive his or her own experience. How would you know? It is the constant with all anecdotal evidence, which may (not likely) be understated, may be overstated, or may occasionally even be made up. You have no way of knowing, so you ought not touch it. You have to realize going in that you will lose. You must resist your urge to defend the Witness organization. It is perception. Everyone calls the other guy ‘arrogant’ when they cannot get their way. It is all parallel to the incessant Trump/Hillary wars, a development that I consider a godsend for Christians because it demonstrates the applicability of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Don’t be goaded into losing you’re temper and remember whatever you write remains forever, so you cannot ‘fire first and ask questions later.’ My engagement was all on account of the journalists, and maybe I just fool myself as to how many hang out there. Who can say? At each comment I was reminded that I am ‘ordered’ not to engage and ‘not allowed’ to be there. It turns out that I truly was ‘not allowed’, but not by the nefarious ones that he indicated would do the deed.

[Someone brought up homosexuality. It is the common view today that if you do not accept another person’s tenets you must ‘hate’ that person, and I sought to counter that. Every comment was to counter something and to present a side not otherwise seen:]

Tom: “One can sympathize here [with the plight of gay people who were once members]. I don’t know the answer. JWs do not ‘go after’ gays as do many churches. The 2018 Regional Convention devoted about 2 minutes to it in a video (which created an uproar) in a program lasting three days. Okay? They don’t crusade. And they certainly don’t do what evangelicals do to maneuver politicians into passing laws forcing gays to live as they do. Nor do they go in for simple-minded and abusive practices as ‘conversion therapy.’

“The meme ‘born that way’ becomes the dominant meme by endless repetition. However, the Wt has acknowledged that genetics might play a role. Alternatively, it might be environment, psych endorsement, discredited Freud-type ideas (discredited mostly because they are unpopular) universal gender-bending hormones/plastics in common use, even epigenetics. Who knows? One thing for sure: sexuality has proven far more fluid than anyone of my day would have thought possible.

“The GB likely feels that they have no choice, given what the Bible, their guide to life, tells them. They take it as wisdom from God, who knows us better than we do ourselves. Gays within our ranks do not swim against the current, nor into it, both recipes for disaster. They are prepared to swim parallel to the shore, likely for a long time, in hopes that their urges will eventually realign. One could argue that their faith is stronger than most Christians in that they stick to what they believe is right despite the very real testimony of their own bodies. It hardly seems fair, does it? It is why I have the greatest respect for such ones, who will mostly remain anonymous, and ZERO respect for the frothing church types who rail against gays, as they are demanding the latter lift a load the comparison of which they themselves would not be willing to budge with their little finger.”

[In response to someone who said he thought the organization's days were numbered:]

"Time will tell. The enemies of Jehovah's Witnesses have succeeded in doing what they could never have succeeded in doing alone, putting the Cause before the world. Russia persecution triggers international sympathy. Shunning and child abuse cover-up allegations trigger international frowning. All three are diluted by the fact that there are endless atrocities today to compete for people's limited attention.

"Cover-up allegations and shunning complaints are bad. Invariably they are exaggerated, such as people are wont to do, but they are seldom manufactured. Countering the bad press will be the good things that Jehovah's Witnesses have to offer, things that are never alluded to here.

"A recent development of the Witness organization is self-guided, online Bible study lessons at their website, addressing such age-old questions as 'Why does God permit suffering?' 'What happens when we die?' and 'Is there realistic hope for the future?' Is it only opponents that can use the web? People want such answers. Cedars says (pityingly) in a video that Witnesses 'crave certainty.' Isn't that a big 'Duh'? Anyone here enjoy playing Russian Roulette with their finances or health? The more certainty we can lay hold of the better.

"Will Cedars ask me to leave, as Andre suggested? Maybe, but I don't think so. He strikes me as an honest man. He several times asked me to debate him. If I appear here and behave myself, is it not what he wanted? And if he did ask me to leave, after asking me to engage, surely THAT would indicate something. it is my own people who are more likely to ask me to leave, perhaps even kicking me in the rear end as they do so, and I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Ironically, should I vanish, people will fuss for some days over whether they lowered the boom or was it Cedars.

"Bible answers are Jehovah's Witnesses' strong suit. Christians are directed in the Bible to stay separate from the greater world, as they offer it a helping hand. Anything with an upside will have a downside. The downside zeroed in on exclusively on this forum is real, but it does not negate the upside. Therefore it depends upon where is your focus.  'Bible education' is the overall goal of the Witness organization, 'preaching the good news,' As the online study sessions demonstrate, with only some exaggeration, if push comes to shove, the essential components of the Witnesses' work can be run out a server in someone's dorm room.

"Meanwhile, going atheist holds some attraction, mostly escaping anyone who would tell you what to do, as though one does not simply put themselves under the 'control' of other deep-pocketed parties telling you what to do, be it Trump, Soros, the Russians, Big Defense, Big Pharma, pro or anti climate change with the enormous economic and lifestyle consequences both bring. Atheism will appeal to some, but never all. The yeartext presumably agreed upon here is: "Sh*t happens. Get used to it. Maybe we can elect the right politicians to fix it." How's that project going, anyway?

"No, that yeartext will just not cut it for everyone."

Don’t misunderstand. I don’t claim to have ‘knocked it out of the park’ on anything. Causes for their disgruntlement remain. You don’t expect to change anyone, just inform anyone new, should they exist.


Maybe I should have gone on his podcast, but I figured it might be like the time, long ago, when I filled in for a school bus driver in a very rough district, and one of the deboarding students spit on me, and then he and all his chums assembled to invite me on their ‘podcast’ just outside the bus. I decided to do like Jesus, who was not even driving a bus, when he was spit upon. ‘But they say that Cedars is very nice in person,’ his buddies told me. Doubtless he would pour me Kool-Aid with a smile to quench my thirst. I never entertained the idea, though I did stretch it out for a while:

Cedars: “Welcome back Tom. Is your personal allowance for engaging with apostates online still only limited to Twitter, or will you be able to join me for a recorded chat on Skype?’ [I had come back. I followed this character in the first place when I discovered he would reliably inform me of things I might want to address. The moment he became aware of me, he wanted me on his show.]

Tom: “As soon as one agrees to a debate, one agrees to the premise that debate is the best way to illuminate things.”

Cedars: “There are lots of ways of illuminating things. Discourse is one way. I had no idea it was a competition.”

Tom: “I have written three books. You have written at least one. Let that be your ‘discourse’ for you.”

Cedars: “I think we both know your reason for declining an interview. It ain't your books.”

[His chums joined in:]

Chum: “Tom why on earth are you in contact with ‘apostates’? Do you think Jah can’t read twitter....and therefore judge you for it?”

Cedars: “Tom has been granted a special exemption that allows him occasional interactions with the "mentally diseased" on Twitter.”

Tom: “It is odd that anyone would mention "mentally diseased" in this context. The quotes are from a 2011 Wt and I posted about it at the time. Alas, I was more wordy then and it is 6 paragraphs in that the term comes up.” [I linked to a post I had previously written, which I have found is a fine way of shaking these guys should they come after you. With one such person (not Cedars) I even served up one that I called my 'troll special.'

Another chum: “Seriously Tom, I’d be bricking it in your shoes! There’s no allowance for chatting with bad sorts (well, Jesus did it, but let’s forget that, and him, eh!).”


[Forgive me if this gets tiresome. I want to assemble everything in one place. Feel free to skip a bit, or chuck it entirely.  A bit later:]

Cedars: “Me waiting for @truetomharley to accept my offer of an on-camera interview to discuss his views as a believing JW who doesn't have a problem engaging with apostates on social media.”

Cedars: “BTW Tom, since you're apparently able to bend the rules by interacting with apostates on social media, are you feeling brave enough to go the full nine yards and join me for an on-camera Skype interview? Or does Jehovah's judgment kick in once you appear on camera?”

Cedars: “I'm quite happy to have a civilized discussion in which we agree to disagree. We do have at least some common ground in both opposing Russia's ban of Jehovah's Witnesses.”

Cedars: “…you've already rejected the offer citing some bizarre argument about being an author and not the true reason - that your religion prevents you from conversing with apostates.”

Tom: “Perhaps I am not a good debater.”

Cedars: “It doesn't need to be a debate, just a conversation.”

Tom: “Unfortunately, I am not even good at conversation. “But I said: “Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! I do not know how to speak, for I am just a boy.” Jeremiah 1:6”

Cedars: “You're not much good at following the rules of the cult for which you are a cheerleader, either.”

Tom: “Many things I am not much good at. More things than not, actually.”

Cedars: “There's simple mistakes and then there's straight up hypocrisy. Either it's "Jehovah's organization" or it isn't. If it is, maybe you should do as you're told and get your acre in paradise.” [Ouch]

Tom: “You say I violate ‘rules’ and yet you would have me violate them further by ‘conversation’? Ha! You just think you can get me into trouble with my own people so that I will sulk and cross over into the Obi-wan Dark Side.”

 

And now I must face the music from my own side, and there may be some. Cedars’ continual taunts at being ‘not allowed” were surely overdone, and it must have made him feel a little silly when I kept coming nonetheless, until he felt compelled to issue the order himself. Still, nobody here thinks it is the bee’s knees to engage with these characters, and I may hear about it. And they could be right. Maybe I am the yoyo on the Jerusalem wall singing out just when Hezekiah is telling the troops to zip it. But I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The Witness organization probably cannot be expected to defend itself. It takes the scriptural view of Jesus at Matthew 11, noting that grumblers slam him no matter what he does, before finally saying, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ “wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” It is like David who kept mum as ‘all day long they muttered against him.’ ‘It is like the plowman who knows that if you look behind while plowing, the furrows get all flaky.’ They don’t do it. The common view of opposers is that the Witness headship is telling members what to do, while it cynically manipulates all from above. That view is wrong. They practice what they preach and do it themselves.

It is scriptural. It is proper. But there is a downside. By staying mum on specifics, essentially our enemies get to define us to the news media who refer to a cover statement about ‘abhorring child abuse’ as “boiler-plate” and then go to former members who will eagerly fill their ears with accounts that we could counter by adding context but don’t. What’s a reporter to do? He goes to who fills his ears.

The organization headship cites Hebrews 13:7 about ‘imitating the faith of those who are taking the lead among you.’ They don’t go on social media at all. They prefer a less raucous channel, and content themselves with news releases at the website that inform but do not kick back at the critics.

It will fall upon the Witness journalist to do it, if it is to be done, and there aren’t many of them. If fourteen years of blogging, not shying from controversial things, does not qualify me to take a shot at it, what does? Still, one must not be presumptuous.’ I have noted that when anyone self-assumes expertise, they run the risk of becoming full of themselves. Sometimes they take offense that whatever they think they have pioneered is not adopted by everyone else. I try to safeguard against this with evening participation in the door-to-door ministry, often alone. It has a way of instilling humility. As you take note of the response, both favorable and unfavorable, you begin to envision the response that Jesus got. Neglect the door-to-door ministry at your own spiritual peril. Too, I have been sufficiently chastened by various circumstances of life that might be likened by an outsider to having one’s head stuffed in a toilet. Upon extracting that appendage, you do not say, “I guess I taught than toilet a thing or two, didn’t I?” It, too, serves to instill humility.

If you are in a spiritual paradise, or even a vacation paradise, you do not have to concern yourself with removing the trash. It may be even dangerous to do so, because there is broken glass and used syringes. It’s not for everyone, and maybe for no one. But I thought I’d take a shot at it, and I at last got under this fellow’s skin, the big baby.