There is a God in Heaven—and the Game He Plays is Scrabble

Not looking good. The lousy cheater just Scrabbled to make ‘loaners.’ 151 to 92. How much you want to bet that when I turn the blank over it is another letter?

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I painted a crosspiece on an ‘i’ and put the resulting ‘x’ to make ‘ex’ going both ways—the ‘x’ counted 6 times for being on a triple letter. Got to do something to keep up wtih my brother’s cheating. Even after his unfairly taking the triple word with ‘oh’ I am slightly ahead.

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With few letters letter, my lousy brother probably has probably cheated to draw the ‘q’ and the ‘z.’ The trick will be to make him eat them. He will scream ‘We don’t play that way!’ but that is to be expected.

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The rotter! Do you think he will open up access to the lower right of the board? No way will he if it gives me the chance make one point more! What a skunk! I guess I am forced to play the same way, but in this type of battle, being magnanimous to contrast his smallness, I usually give in. Not this time!

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He did unload his ‘q,’ the louse, but he didn’t get much for it. He is putting down words of 10 and under (so am I) so as not to open the board. All letters are out. I must make him eat the ‘z.’ Should I make ‘kale’ & give him shot at the triple? NO!

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Whoa! He broke first! Put down ‘plug.’ But how can I go out with this mess of a hand? Four vowels and an ‘f’? Where’s the justice?! I can’t even reach the triple word. Is he setting himself up? I lead by a point!

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YES!!! I whomped my cheating brother by 15 points even WITHOUT counting the ‘z’ he had to eat! ‘Tom, calm down, it’s just a game!’ he says, as though I am not calm. When HE wins he calls out the Navy Marching Band AND the Hill Cumorah Tabernacle Choir to celebrate.

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Come, now, Tom. It is a cute post and all, but ‘God Wrote the Universe, and the Game that he Plays is Scrabble? Really?

Well—the scripture does say that in the beginning was the Word. Moreover, the verse that must be there but I have not yet found it reads: “Have you beheld the great Scrabble game in heaven, o Job, and considered how nobody can put one over on Me?”

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“Here Comes Brother Fullalove”

Why do the good have to die?” the funeral speaker cried out, almost pumping the tears, taking a cue from Habakkuk.

Well, maybe because he skipped school with a buddy, hopped the fence into the stone quarry and when the backhoe driver dumped a load of stone on him and the horrified man realized what he had done, he suffered a heart attack trying to dig him out. I mean, he wasn’t a bad kid by any stretch—boys will be boys—it could have been Tom Sawyer—but I would have opened the talk differently.

That speaker was known circuit-wide for showing extraordinary hospitality and love. I once watched him from afar at the Assembly, gradually working his way toward me, embracing this one and hugging that one. “You make me envious that I’m not Italian,” I told him. Mornings before the workday began, he would host breakfast at the restaurant, often paying for everybody. I was one of them for a time.

“I don’t think he knows how to speak in complete sentences,” my critical friend muttered—a good friend—he was only a year or two older than me and we would sometimes spend the day together in the pioneer ministry.

Brother Littlelove and Brother Lacklove were bickering about something or other on the platform—a skit which comprised a portion of a service meeting part. “Brothers, brothers!” that elder said as he approached imploringly, arms outstretched, emoting his peacemaker role. “Here comes Brother Fullalove” my friend whispered to me.

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Speaking With the Evangelical

I met a born-again Christian yesterday while making a return visit. It was the young man’s dad. I actually hadn’t expected to meet my return visit because I knew he just stopped in there from time to time and lived somewhere else, but the initial conversation had been very fine and we were just driving by the house.

Our track record of pleasant conversations with evangelicals is not good. Usually we feel obliged to pick out something that they are doing wrong and start a fight over it—not with that goal, of course, but usually with that result. And if we don’t do it to them, then they do it to us. Start rattling on about the paradise and they will cut you short with a line or two about the rapture.

I used to fall into this pattern as much as anyone, but in recent years, after decades of life—in other words, it’s about time!—I have come across a new way. In this new way, I do not try to find something of his to poke holes in, and since I didn’t, he did. You know, getting all squirrelly-like, as though to say, “Oh, no, we are not the same. Don’t try to pretend that we are.”

As soon as I saw it going that way, I did what I was so very slow to learn to do. He was not an unfriendly guy, and I had already responded to his announcement that he was a born-again Christian: “That almost makes it better—it means we speak the same language. You have regard for the Bible and probably know it as well as me.”

It starts things out on a good foot, but still he feels obliged to point out how no way are we the same. I beat him to it. “Look, we are both trying to follow the Word, but we are doing it differently. You think we are doing it wrong and we think you are doing it wrong. But we are both doing it—that’s the point—and we live in a world where most people aren’t doing it at all.” Instantly we were on the same side. There was a little chat about keeping the faith amidst a world that rejects it.

I asked him if he was one of those persons  who believed in the rapture and he said that he was. Yes, I know where that verse comes from, I told him. We see it a little differently, and I referred to the Lord’s Prayer that I knew he knew so well but nobody else does today. ‘Yes, God has it all together up in heaven. I mean,  I suppose he does (glancing upwards) but it sure isn’t that way on earth, and it won’t be until—he joined me in saying the last words—“thy kingdom comes.” So we look forward to living forever on the earth, most of us, sort of like that camping trip you took and you relaxed so much that you said “I wish this would never end” only in this case it won’t.

That’s about all you can do on a single call and I have no plans to come back unless the spirit impromptu grabs me when I am driving right by again and it probably won’t. I count it successful. Hear each other out, be mutually respectful, and maybe either party will think the other guy’s hope intriguing enough to investigate more. In this case, there was no sign of that. We talked about his front porch awning—my companion brought that up—it was a sturdy piece that had served him well over the years and it was just the ticket during hot summer days of blazing sun. There were some people who bought the screens and other attachments that came with it, he allowed, but he was content just with the awning itself. 

His son, while very conversant, had not struck me as particularly religious, I recalled of him, and I did not say it so as to rub his nose in, “but mine is!” No, I said mine isn’t either—it’s not a slam-dunk that kids will follow the faith. Of course, he loves his son, as I do mine, and he observed that ‘it is so strange—children raised in the same house with same parents and same values, yet some take to it and others do not.’ Now you take his daughter, he pointed out, who had latched right on, and I said that was true of my daughter as well.

So we built a bridge. Who knows if he will cross over it someday, my companion and I chatted afterwards, or, from his point of view, If I will cross it his way. One thing that is clear—he will respect us for our ministry—maybe even compare it to whatever he is or is not doing himself. “Preach the good news in all the inhabited earth—go and make disciples” is not a mission statement that will register approval with everyone, but I know it will with him.

Of course, you don’t say that unless he is trying to put you down for it, and this fellow certainly was not. You don’t give any appearance of boasting or being full of yourself. There was even a recommendation once that seemed to step over the line on this. Our website had reached a certain milestone in number of languages translated into—it is over 1000 now—we were sort of proud of it at the time and the recommendation was to bring that up along with the question: “Do you know why we do it?” I never liked the approach and I never tried it. 

I accompanied someone who did, though. “Do you know why we do it?” he asked. His return visit said: “What! Do you think I’m a trained chimp? Of course I do! You want to reach people!” That’s why I never used it.

That’s not to say I don’t mention the website, though. On the contrary, I usually do (though not to this fellow—it didn’t occur to me) I usually mention the languages, too, only I supply the reason, rather than try to extract it from the householder. If you are serious about preaching the good news worldwide, of course you are going to have such a website as soon as the technology exists. It would almost be religious malpractice not to.

 

 

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Lies and Distortion of Facts

They didn’t just say lies in that November 2019 Watchtower. They said lies and distortion of facts.

Is it outright lies that we deal with here? Not so much. Is it distortion of fact? For the most part, yes.

”Distortion of fact” encompasses a lot and much of what it encompasses is in the eye of the beholder. If a point, in the overall scheme of things, is really quite insignificant, and it is made to seem all-important, is that not a distortion of fact? 

Suppose the spies that I have sent report back to me with a dossier of George’s private life that includes a few exasperating habits of his—like nose-picking. Suppose too that he has had one of two regretful episodes in his life that he would rather not broadcast. Suppose that he flunked out of a school or was fired from a job. Suppose he made a few judgments as family head that blew up in his face—not only his face but the faces of those in his family. Suppose he let down brothers in the congregation at one time or another, and even stumbled one or two.

”Ah, here comes my spy, now.....Hello Spy, what do you have?....hmmmm......oh my...yes....hm......whoa!....will you look at that?.....looky looky looky” 

Now suppose with my voluminous commenting privileges I never again focus upon anything other than one or all of these blunders, and I dismiss as inconsequential whatever good others point out that he has done, even though these matter plainly be what defines his life. Am I not distorting facts? Have I told any lies? No. Have I distorted any facts? I have done nothing else.

Another illustration—this one I gave at the meeting when it was my turn to comment—was that if there is someone in the audience who hates beets, I will not be able to argue with him that beets taste good. It is something that is beyond the scope of argument and I am proving myself pretty dense if I persist in trying. In the same way, the verse says: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” Some have tasted and seen that he is bad. It’s not something that is subject to arguing. 

My 30 seconds were up and you can’t keep raising your hand like a jack-in-the-box. But if I was to extend the thought here I might point out that I love cake. It tastes good. That’s why I love it. Imagine my surprise upon coming here on the all-open forum and discovering some dissing cake. How is that possible? Upon probing, I find that it is because the sweetness of sugar does nothing for them, so they just drop down a notch and focus on how you can get cavities and put on weight with cake. Well, yeah—if sugar did nothing for me, I too would drop down the list and harp on these other things.

So it is with the ‘sugar’ of the Bible’s message. This is what does it for Jehovah’s Witnesses—that unique combination of accurate Bible teachings along with the united brotherhood that comes with it—a unity and love unparalleled—and a satisfaction of knowing that one is cooperating with God’s intent of declaring his name and purposes. But if for some reason none of that should matter anymore, than what is there left than to drop down a level and promote some complaints to first place? It is what the opponents here do. Is that not a distortion—the reprioritizing of facts? We tend to carry on here as though facts are islands unto themselves. They’re not. They are more like the ingredients of a cake—they work together. One’s appreciation for the baked product will depend entirely upon one’s taste for the different ingredients. 

We’re a little nuts when we quibble over facts, as though individual facts in themselves are what clinches the deal. Instead, it it the prioritization of facts that matters. Seldom is it that people argue with no facts at all. It is which ones they choose to focus on and which ones they choose to downplay or even ignore that matters. 

And that is of facts that are presented accurately—as many are not. For example, a Pew survey lists Jehovah’s Witnesses as bringing up the bottom of the income chart—collectively they are the financially poorest. A fact? Yes. Opponents take that fact to suggest that Witnesses are deadbeats, some by nature, and some made so by a controlling organization. A distortion? I think so. When I wrote a post on the topic I stated that, in view of what the Bible consistently says about money and the love of money, any group not toward the bottom of that list has reason to hang their head in shame. Their high placement affords proof that they do not practice what they preach and they do not trust what the Lord says.

As to the Watchtower’s own statement, ‘lies and distortion of facts’—it might be more technically accurate if rephrased as ‘distortion of facts and lies’—I am not necessarily a fan of how the warning is made—but in the end, is it not the same thing? Consider:

Is it really so that?”  (a distortion of truth, designed to plant doubt)

You will not die.” (a lie—nothing but)

for God knows that in the very day of your eating from it...” (a bit of both, but mostly a distortion, for it impugns God’s motives)

More is distortion than outright lie. But it amounts to the same thing. In fact, the distortion is worse than the lie, in most cases, for without the distortion to ‘prime the pump’ the lie itself will often be spotted and rejected out of hand. 

Who does the fellow with the ink horn mark on the forehead? Those who are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things done in God’s name. Some aren’t. They aren’t marked for that reason. In no case is any lie being told. Even the distortion of truth is not immediately apparent. But it is there. People made in God’s image should be sighing and groaning over the detestable things done in God’s name. And sighing and groaning is not the same thing as bitching and complaining.

Too often we play their game. Given the facts that they choose to focus upon, they are exactly right, It is the choice of facts that is significant—which ones are promoted, which ones are inflated, which ones are downplayed, which ones are ignored, and which ones are declared not facts at all.

The Word makes clear from the get-go that those who serve love and serve God in the manner he directs and those who do not will have dramatically different ways of looking at things. They will have dramatically different goals in life. Once in a while (or even more than once in a while) apostates are pure loons. Once in a while (or even more than once in a while) some of us are. But for the most part, both groups act consistently with the facts that they choose to focus upon.

It is really impossible to successfully argue against their facts without also arguing against their priorities, their “tastes.” And since the latter is plainly impossible, it does make one reassess one’s time spent in doing so.

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Speaking With the Branch Brother

A story, with opening background:

I have always been ‘out there’ in appearance (for a brother), at times downright shaggy, with hair falling over my ears, and I don’t fuss much with combing it, usually not at all. I don’t fully trust anyone who has not a hair out of place. I don’t like cuff-links either, though I will concede that some will wear them and figure that they are like the fine seamless garment Jesus wore. Nobody would rebuke the Lord with: “Why don’t you wear a regular garment from the Goodwill so no one thinks you are putting on airs.” They would not say that, so cuff links get a free pass, too, but I would never wear the stupid things.

Amazingly, I have never been counseled on general shagginess, despite all the carrying on about ‘dress that befits a minister of GodI’—which rubs me the wrong way when it is overdone. I’ve had speaking assignments at the District Convention, now called Regionals. I can only surmise that my personality otherwise offsets a moderately (at times) unorthodox appearance. 

In my 50’s, after my eldering days, I got into the habit of moussing my hair when it got long, running my fingers through it once so it stayed off my forehead, and I would go about my day with it spiked up, flopping over any way it liked as gravity took over. If I see a young woman with green hair, I won’t harrumph as many of our people would—I’ll say, “Huh! You know, I kind of like that.” These days I am less that way and I now say to the barber: “Look, so long as you are not thinking “US Marine,” cut it as short as you like—even if you get it too short, I will not complain—it grows back.* That way I don’t have to horse with it for a while. 

Brother Lloyd of the US Branch gave the talk at our Assembly Hall. He is an old-timer who has been around forever. The place was packed out. For reasons I don’t remember, my wife and I arrived late and we were shoehorned into the only two seats available—directly in front of him.

His talk was hard-hitting, the type you used to hear from old-timers and the type that you will not hear today—‘if you do not make time for Jehovah, maybe he will not make time for you’ was the tone some of it took.

Now, I am not one of those brothers who has to track down the speaker so as to shake his hand. If I don’t speak with him at all, that is perfectly fine by me. I have stated here that I would love to have a Governing Body member stay at my house so I could ignore him (which would probably make me popular in his eyes). “There’s your room. Come down and hang out if you like, but don’t feel you have to—I know that you have things to do, if only unwinding free of persons who you have to talk to,” is what I would say to him.

So after the closing prayer I turn around with my spiked hair and find myself face to face with him—the crowds have not closed in yet. I exchange a few pleasantries—nice of him to make the sacrifice to travel, and so forth, and he says, almost with a twinkle, “I wasn’t too hard on you brothers, was I?” 

“Well,” I said, “we’ll adjust.”

......*With regard to not complaining about a bad haircut, I remember reading a book by Peter Lynch, the Fidelity fund manager known for investing in what he liked. He bought a ton of Dunkin Donut stock and it went to the moon—his interest first piqued because he loved their coffee. He also bought Supercuts. True to method, he went there first to get a haircut. He thought he looked a little funny as he left, but he allowed that it might simply be due to some new style that he was unaware of. The horrified look on the faces of his wife and daughters convinced him that it was not. The CEO, when he related the experience to him, observed cheerfully that hair grows back at 6 inches per....some quantity of time that I forget.

Lynch is the same fund manager who once observed of General Motors: “The nicest thing I can say about it is that it is a terrible company.” I never forgot that line.

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Elder-care During the Windstorm

Windy mornings like we just had, and I think of the huge tree that came crashing down on the home of some friends in southern tier, pinning them in their bed. “This room is original, this one is new,” my pal later told me on a tour of his house that the friends had rebuilt. The upstairs bedroom—brand spanking new? His wife will not sleep in it. The tree no longer threatens—it came crashing down upon her already during that storm. But she will not sleep in that room again.

The exasperating thing about a power outage is that you keep forgetting. Flip a switch, nothing happens—continual aggravation. Well, I have my Go Kit ready in the event of a really huge natural disaster. Many think that the Witness organization dreamed up the idea, but it is actually the government, and the Witnesses said, “Yeah! Let’s get on that one!” I tend to put things like that off and for the longest time my Go Kit consisted of a bag of pretzels and whatever else I could scrounge up in 2 minutes. But now it’s in pretty good shape and I am preparation in search of a disaster.

Not every little thing is fully cared for. “Oh, did I tell you about my dog?” I will say to my temporary hosts as Samson tracks mud across their kitchen floor. That’s not Sampson of Bible fame, who pushes apart the pillars. That’s Samson the dog, who pees on them. Confused by the change, maybe he will even pee in the new residence.

I was staying with my dad, attending him in his old age, when another wind storm hit 3 or 4 years ago—wow-whee can wind ever do damage! “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail [or the wind], which I have reserved for the time of distress?” Job 38:22 says. Yeah, I have seen them at medium throttle. I can only imagine what might happen when the pedal is to the metal.

Going back almost 30 years, my parents stayed with us for over a week. Ice storms paralyzed the entire region. Our electric line was laying right there on the ground—we didn’t come prop it up—but it was still delivering the juice. In one of those rare reverses of how this system usually works, the people with money, living out in heavily-treed areas, lost their power, but the people living within city limits did not!

Power went out to my dad’s during that windstorm 3 or 4 years ago, too, but not to me, and he again stayed with us until it was restored. By that time he had dementia. “I think we should swing by the house and see if the power has come back on,” he would say every 30 seconds.

Surprisingly, there is a time to lie. The elder-care people recommend it in the case of seniors with dementia. “How’s Jill doing these days?” he wants to know again and again. Why should I tell him again and again about the divorce in the family that will trouble him, yet he can do nothing about it? “Fine, Pop, she’s just fine. All of them are.”

Why should I tell him every day that his wife died 20 years ago—stabbing him each time? “She’s fine, Pop. She’s away to visit her cousin, remember? She’ll be back soon.”

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The Professor Explains the Pharisees—Blind Guides is what They Are

The professor of the recorded lecture series—who teaches religion at the university—comes to the topic of the Pharisees. He defines them as people who knew that God gave a Law to Israel and so that’s what they would focus on—following it! He points out that pharisee has a negative connotation today—that of ‘hypocrite’—but that was not true in their day—how can people who ‘obey the Law’ be looked at negatively? he marvels. “It’s as though 200 years from now ‘Episcopalian’ comes to have a tertiary meaning of ‘drunkard’,” he says.

He does not mention how that connotation came about—Jesus called them hypocrites repeatedly. Presumably he does not do this because he is a critical thinker who will make his own assessments and not rely upon the judgement of someone else.

The challenge for those who made it their mission to follow the law—and what a commendable mission it was in their eyes!—was that the Law was frustratingly vague, the professor points out. ‘For example, it said that you must do no work on the seventh day, but what is work? Well, there is work work, like when you go into the field on the seventh day just like you go on every other day—we would all probably agree that is work. But what if on the seventh day you suddenly get hungry and sneak into the field to grab a quick snack of grain—is that work? Or what if you walk through the field and knock some grain off the stalks—is that work (harvesting)?

The professor is doubtless anticipating what happens when Jesus’ disciples do just those things, but he makes no mention of this. No, he carries on as though these are perfectly valid questions that might stump any reasonable person. He is trying to make me mad. In fact, when Jesus deals with just that ‘violation’ of Law, he says in effect: ‘It would be nice if you fellows got the bigger picture:’

Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples got hungry and started to pluck heads of grain and to eat. At seeing this, the Pharisees said to him: “Look! Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them: “Have you not read what David did when he and the men with him were hungry? How he entered into the house of God and they ate the loaves of presentation, something that it was not lawful for him or those with him to eat, but for the priests only? Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbaths the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and continue guiltless? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.  However, if you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.”

Of course! This is not a matter of the head—it is a matter of the heart. The Pharisees expanded the ‘no work’ law into infinite bits of minute applications, but parts of the Law dealing with love for God and neighbor—not so much with that. ‘You don’t blow the first away as nothing,’ he said, but to harp on the first and say nothing about the second was just too outrageous. See how he nails those characters in the 23rd chapter of Matthew:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was necessary to do, yet not to disregard the other things.” vs 23

I once studied with a young man named Jay. He was a hoot to study with because if the answer to the question was, ‘scribes and Pharisees,’ he wouldn’t just say ‘scribes and Pharisees’—he’d get up and prance around the apartment, nose in the air, acting out the role! He instantly spotted those guys for what they were.

He loved the follow-up verse, too: “Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!” and he would make motions with his hands to illustrate the size difference.

He liked a few more of Jesus’ pithy pushback sayings at those Pharisees—in fact, the liked all of them—dig out the whole chapter and read them yourself. He liked: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of greediness and self-indulgence.”

He liked also: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In the same way, on the outside you appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

He liked them all and instantly got the sense of them, in a way that the professor does not. For him it is a fascinating contrast in how different ones reason.

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Man Gave Names to all the Animals

The beavers are hard at work out where I walk the dog. I wonder if they will cause back up flooding at the apartments where I don’t live. That outcome doesn’t concern them in the slightest. They will drive in upright poles and then fetch branches and sticks for the horizontal. Ponds form, and they use the waterways to float food and debris so as to build homes entered from below.

They are all of them skilled engineers, all of them graduates of Dam U. When the kids were small and we would camp at Allegheny State Park, visiting beaver dams was one of the attractions. You had to go early in the morning and be very quiet—alarm them and they will dive out of sight after slapping the water with their tails to alert their buddies.

Now Jehovah God had been forming from the ground every wild animal of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call each living creature, that became its name.” - Genesis 2:19

Bob Dylan has explained just how this worked:

He saw an animal that liked to growl, Big furry paws and he liked to howl, Great big furry back and furry hair. "Ah, think I'll call it a bear."

He saw an animal up on a hill, Chewing up so much grass until she was filled. He saw milk comin' out but he didn't know how. "Ah, think I'll call it a cow."

He saw an animal that liked to snort, Horns on his head and they weren't too short. It looked like there wasn't nothin' that he couldn't pull. "Ah, think I'll call it a bull."

He saw an animal leavin' a muddy trail, Real dirty face and a curly tail. He wasn't too small and he wasn't too big. "Ah, think I'll call it a pig."

Next animal that he did meet. Had wool on his back and hooves on his feet, Eating grass on a mountainside so steep. "Ah, think I'll call it a sheep."

So it was pretty much like that. The Watchtower—no doubt others have said it as well—has written that Adam would have taken his time, observed unique characteristics, before naming names.

Let me see if I can do one:

He saw an animal that was great and gray, Swimming about freely every day. Catching its food without a fuss, “Ah, think I’ll call it a hippopotamus.”

And God said to Himself, ’Oh, come on!’ but he went with it.

And just to bring this full circle:

He saw an animal building dams, flooding just like a jailbird on the lam, carving up waterways like with a cleaver. ”Ah,” think I’ll call it a beaver

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

‘We’re the Apostates of the World’—sung to the tune of ‘We Are the Champions’

The mission statement of Tom Irregardless and Me appears directly on the title page: “For we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world,” Paul writes to the Corinthians. “That being the case, let’s show them some theater!” is my addition.

It is the greatest show on earth, with actors playing characters good and bad, strutting their stuff, playing out their roles under the big tent. For the longest time I was frustrated that The Watchtower seldom names names—“one politician said” is the blandness that they usually served up. Then I realized the underlying truth: it is a play that we are watching. You don’t have to name the actors of the play—it can even be a distraction if you do. Name a villain and you create the illusion that holding that villain accountable and making him take responsibility solves the problem. Instead, cart him off to the hoosegow and another actor instantly steps into his shoes—the show goes on with barely a hiccup.

As the greatest showman on earth—Cecil B. DeMille—and every showman worth his salt before of after well knows, every show needs not just a hero. It needs a villain! The show will tank in popular estimation without a villain—it simply becomes too dull to hold interest. “There’s a great villain in that Bond movie,” people will say as they change channels. Fortunately, in the Greatest Show of Earth, there are villains galore! Who are they? Apostates! “Taste and see that Jehovah is good,” says the verse. They have tasted and seen that he is bad. They are the villains.

Let us assign them a theme song, taking inspiration from Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions:’

We’re the apostates, my friends

And we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end

We’re the apostates

We’re the apostates

No way we’ll lose this

We hope you choose us

‘Cause we’re the apostates of the world!

There! Isn’t that nice? What! Do you think only the Israelites can come marching to battle singing their song? No! They came marching for battle that day, but they didn’t expect to draw a sword! Singers were out in front! (2 Chronicles 20:17-21) But if they listened very closely, they might have heard the approaching enemy also singing—the Queen song!

See the scoundrels attacking what they always attack—the divine/human interface. Has that not always been the case? It was the case with Moses and the rebellious Israelites. It was the case with the apostles and the malcontents that they strove with all their might to restrain. It was even true with the one who turned on Jesus—Judas. He and God were tight—there we no problems there! But this imposter claiming to be the Messiah! He was not at all what Judas had come to expect. And those yo-yos that he was attracting! “Untaught and ignorant,” Acts 4:13 (KJV) calls their head ones—don’t even go there!

See the apostates diving into the archives! ‘Have Witnesses predicted the end before?’ they mutter their empty thing. ‘Yes! They have—several times! And now they would cover it up!! Well, we won’t let them! Aha ha ha ha!!!!!’

Witnesses want to cover it up? Really? Anybody see Gerrit Losch speaking to hundreds at the Gilead graduation—it being broadcasted to millions? He’s the one noted for digging up stats. He must have referred to a couple dozen predictions for the end—starting with one in the year 400. Christopher Columbus even had one! I hadn’t known that. Isaac Newton as well, who wrote more on religion than he did on mathematics and science combined. That’s one that he didn’t mention, perhaps because the date is yet ahead: 2060.

Our brothers, too, have made some, he said, pointing to two in the 1800’s and a gaggle of them around 1914, so many that I thought he might not even slap me down for when I characterized them as that time you missed the nail with the hammer, and in frustration swung several times more, again missing each time!

Did he soft-peddle 1925 or 1975? He doubled down on them! He did not even use for an out the two perfect ones he had—that the early Christians, too, were obsessed over the end date: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” they asked the resurrected Jesus the moment they laid eyes upon him. What godly person doesn’t want to see the end of this experiment with human rule? But Losch doesn’t even go there.

He’s trying to cover something up, is he? Doesn’t sound that way to me. Who knew that the stiff old German had it in him? When the blaggard throws a punch that he expects to smash in your face, you simply step aside, admit everything, fill in a few details he doesn’t know, and the slob’s own momentum sends him hurling past you head over heals! ‘The Governing Body humbly admits its mistakes and moves on,’ Losch states.

See the apostates reframing obviously good works as bad! Is it actually possible to characterize the Witnesses’ disaster relief mobilizations as evil? They find a way! One vile character says it is one of Satan’s lying signs and wonders, proving he can transform himself into an angel of light! When that doesn’t work, she says, ‘Big deal. Everybody does it!’ When that doesn’t work, she says, ‘Witnesses only help themselves—why don’t they rebuild everybody?’ They don’t because they are in no position to. They are volunteers, for the most part, using vacation time. What they can do is show others how it is done, show them the model that makes it possible for them to do likewise if they wish to or are capable of.

Then she says—it’s unbelievable! it’s her fourth tactic!—if the homeowner has insurance, they suggest donating the check! Duh! They commence repairs without knowing or caring whether there is insurance. What! She would accept $100K worth of work, and when the friends suggest donation, tell them to take a hike? Are you kidding me? What does she plan on doing with that check, anyway? Doesn’t she come mighty close to suggesting insurance fraud, which she doesn’t notice in her quest to make it hot for her former friends? I can’t imagine it happening very frequently because Witnesses are decent folk who would never dream of so taking advantage of others’ generosity. But she has no problem with it.

See them try to reframe reality—turning the good into evil that Jehovah’s Witnesses police their own as few others do so that they may best ‘practice what they preach.’ See how they deliberately sow confusion that leaving the reporting of child abuse to the digression of parties involved equates to ‘covering it up.’ When the gold standard of child abuse is to “go beyond the law,” impossible situations arise with regard to persons who, not surprisingly, expect you to abide by the law. Change the law! as Geoffrey Jackson pleaded, and everyone will be happy. It will make the Witnesses’ job “so much easier.” Few others undertake that job—of self-policing—so if the laws are screwed up it affects them not at all.

Who are these “apostates”—and I usually call them malcontents, detractors, or some like word, because outside of the Witness community, and even inside it, people tire of the term.

From the meta-data of ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’—

No New Testament writer fails to deal with then-rampant apostasy—a movement which finds its counterpart today. Two Bible chapters are entirely dedicated to it. Apostates of that time would “despise authority.” How could that become a problem unless there was authority? They loved “lawlessness.” How could that become a problem unless there was law? They favored acts of “brazen conduct,” had “eyes full of adultery,” and were “unable to desist from sin.” How could that become a problem unless there was someone to tell them that they could not carry on in that way? Not only is the nature of apostates revealed in the above Bible verses, but also the nature of the Christian organization.”

Any faith too bland to have quality apostates—I am almost proud of ours—is too bland to be given the time of day. They validate us. The more “respectable” churches where anything goes—what would people apostatize from?

See them snarling in their lairs! What accounts for their discontent? Well—let us not get too flippant (as we have several places in this post)—some of them genuinely caught the short end of the stick and then declined congregation efforts to restore them. But in general, whenever one discards a scenario in which there is discipline for one in which there is not, it will be like releasing a compressed spring—it rebounds wildly, delirious with its newfound freedom, caring not where it goes. This will be true when one leaves behind the school, the military, or the job. It will especially be true if one quit or was expelled from that institution—and that is the case of most on the anti-JW site. Many of them have come out as gay. Witnesses may not gay-bash as do some evangelicals, plenty of whom froth on the subject and tirelessly prod legislators to make it hot for gays in general society—Witnesses don’t do that—still, there is no place for gay sex relations within the Witness organization—and that hardly endears them to former members who have gone that way. There is a plain backdrop of ‘settling the score’ to be detected in many posts. It is anything but easy to hold the line on Bible morality in a quickly changing world.“

to be continued.....maybe

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)