Watchtower Lightens Up in Brooklyn Heights
On Day 439 Everything Changes: From Spitzer to Peterson

Ruining Those who Ruin the Earth

When I was a kid, you never knew when the Russians were going to launch an air strike, maybe with nukes. So several times a semester grownups made us do air raid drills. We'd crouch under our desks with hands clasped behind our necks, a safeguard against flying glass. I envisioned sinister glass flying about at will, as if with wings, searching for young children to harm. In later years, when we were too big to fit under the desks, we'd file into the hallways and lean against our lockers.

Nuclear attack was a very real fear in the years following World War II. Nor was it only the United States who had to be wary of the Russians. Intoxicated with the decisive end to that great war brought by Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, General McArthur thought it well to pepper the Soviet Union with 50 of the new bombs - a pre-emptive strike that would have made Iraq look like a schoolyard brawl. President Truman, though, wouldn’t let him.

During the 1960s, with both superpowers pointing God knows how many missiles at each other, nuclear annihilation - not just attack - fired the popular imagination. Remember how Ray Bradbury's character in the Martian Chronicles trains his telescope on earth just in time to see it's final mushroom cloud? And who can forget Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes, encountering the half-buried Statue of Liberty and suddenly realizing just what planet he was on? ("They blew it up! Damn them! Damn them to hell!!") Not to mention the Twilight Zone in which that fellow goes into the bank vault to read, only to have the world end while he is so occupied. Far from being put out, he is delighted, since he can now read free from the eternal nagging of his boss and wife. Unfortunately, he breaks his glasses.

So when I became one of Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1970s and came across that scripture telling how God would "bring to ruin those ruining the earth," (Rev 11:18) I read it in terms of nuclear ruining. It was really the only means of ruining the earth that anyone could envision back then. Sure, they closed polluted Durand Beach in the early 60s, which only recently reopened, but nobody saw such things as a threat to the entire earth. These days an endless list leaps to mind, most some variant of man-made pollution. Taking first place has to be global warming, but through the years we've also learned to fret about global dimming, species destruction, air and water pollution, acid rain, deforestation, contamination of the food supply, and so forth. Wasn't there just some study detailing how pharmaceuticals have found their way into the water supply? In minute concentrations, of course, yet over time, and given the fact that such chemicals are designed to interact with living tissue, isn't it another "ruining the earth" scenario?

So there are several new avenues through which humans threaten to ruin the earth, and would surely do so, without the intervention of God's Kingdom. Not to mention that the first, the nuclear threat, has hardly gone away. Some think that threat greater than ever since there are more nuclear powers than before, and they are nuttier and more unstable.

The Bible uses the term "earth" in yet another way. It doesn't always refer to the physical planet. It can refer to the society living upon it. If we broaden our definition of earth in this way, we, as a consequence, add new social ways in which humans ruin the earth. In fact, when God gave his reason for bringing a flood in Noah's time, he declared that the earth was ruined, not by air pollution or global warming, but by human violence.

And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the [true] God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.      Gen 6:11-12

Surely violence "ruins" the earth today. Imagine hatred so intense that people delight to die if only they can take a dozen or so with them! Violence considered unspeakable even in the 70s, enhanced with torture, becomes more and more routine. Television positively wallows in it. Even Moristotle, a gentle soul who will nonetheless disagree with most aspects of this post, will not disagree on the mushrooming of violence. Deep in the comment section of this recent posthe refers to UNC-Chapel Hill (his employer, I think) Student Body President Eve Carson, whose "ATM card and car--and life--were stolen a couple of weeks ago by two young thugs." The reference has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of his comment, but is typical of how we respond to random crowds out everything else....we just half to highlight it. For this young woman, and loved ones, and the entire campus in proportion to how well they knew here, violence has "ruined the earth."

And can you not add economic concerns to matters that are ruining the earth? Costs of fuel and food have risen dramatically in recent months, incomes have not, and plenty of folk were stretched tight to begin with.

Of course, such things aren't really unexpected and are just partof the accumulating "sign" that human rulership is unfit and that God is fully justified in bringing its end, to be replaced with his own Kingdom rule. Only then will the earth really be free of injustices.

All the same, trialsome conditions are trialsome conditions. Jehovah's people may see light at the end of the tunnel, but it's a tunnel nonetheless. Sometimes people give up on the light and instead focus on the tunnel - some worrying about it, some trying to patch it up, some exploring it. It's easy to do. If Paul could speak of those who had experienced "shipwreck concerning their faith" (1 Tim 1:19) in his day, much more do his words apply in our day as the whole earth wobbles insanely and we all feel its effects. Doubtless that is why Jehovah's organization lays so much stress on "staples" such as meetings, service, prayer, and Bible study. These are the avenues...really, the only avenues...through which Christians can focus on the big picture of God's deliverance.


"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."
When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
" 'though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.'
[Isa 6:9]

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Luke 8:5-15   NIV


More here


Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hardship

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



Very well written. I hadn't fully considered the "Earth" representing humanity in general in that scripture. Very true comments.

BTW: yes, there are trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the water supply. I'm sure there are other chemicals and substances in our water supply. The scary thing is that we filter our water and clean it before consumption. I feel for those who live in places where the best that they can do is boil the water...

Awake In Rochester

Hi Tom, I have tried to comment recently several times, but was rejected because my gmail addy was not recognized. It was not seen as "legitimate". I hope this one works.

I remember as a kid having to face the lockers, and put my hands over my neck. At the time I didn't know why. My teacher never explained it to us.

I have thought about the A-bomb that we unleashed on Japan many times. We are the only ones who have used it. The Bible says that we will reap what we sow. I believe that sooner or later that destruction will boomerang back to us. Maybe not in the form of a bomb, but destruction none the less. Mankind has not done such a good job with what God has given us.

I have a request. I hope that you add more about yourself in the "about" link. I would like to know more about you. Did you say you lived in Rochester before?

tom sheepandgoats

Those who defend using the A-bombs in Japan insist that it saved not only American lives, but also Japanese lives. As the Americans advanced in the Pacific, island by island, the Japanese (who viewed surrender as shameful) fought to the last man. The military thought the war could not end until Japan was taken, and their experience up to that time suggested even civilians would fight to the last person to prevent that from happening.

Mind you, I am not defending the bombs. But the context is also relevant.

Not sure about the access problems. Maybe you tried on a bad day. Yesterday for whatever reason access was slow as molassis and even I had trouble getting on. But such days are. thankfully, rare.

Sometimes I do word searches on various subjects, and perhaps try to comment. On various "private" networks (I'm not sure if that's the right word, but I mean places like MySpace) the requirements are so cumbersome that I give up in disgust. I hope Typepad does not pose those same barriers.

Yes, I was born in Rochester and have spent most of my life here. I'm married with two grown children. Very occassionally I will visit Java's downtown where I may even compose this blog. If you see the lama parallel parked on Gibbs Street, you'll know I am inside.

Romulus Crowe

Ah, yes, facing lockers and covering your neck will protect you from a nuclear blast. Just like covering yourself with a duvet will protect you from the mad axeman that's loose in the house. Duvets are axe-proof, just like lockers and desks are radiation-proof.

It's amazing what politicians expect us to believe. I suppose it doesn't matter too much now. The strange chemicals in the water are way above 'trace' levels, filters won't get them out, the world is about to be suffocated by plastic bags and the Antarctic is falling apart.

Whether you take Revelations at face value or not, there are testing times ahead for sure. There'll be nowhere to hide, even for the politicians who promoted it all for profit.

If there are any browsing the Internet and happen across here, money doesn't protect against radiation either. Nor is it axe-proof.

I might not agree with all of your philosophy, Tom, but I can definitely agree with the principle here. As those guys with the sandwich-boards used to say, 'The end is nigh'. It won't be pretty.

Awake In Rochester

Yes, I know the excuse for sending the bomb, but the military always has some excuse for attacking. If they had put an equal amount of gray matter into wining the war in a peaceful manor, they would have come up with something. Who knows, maybe a new invention of peace instead of destruction. You can tell that I'm not to keen on war.

I don't care for MySpace, it's to clicky.

Oh, so your still in Rochester? I thought that you moved. Lama parallel parked, lol. That's a good one! Do you live on a farm? Do Lama's spit like camels?

tom sheepandgoats


Of course they spit. They have to. When I ride one in to Java's, they, of course, have no horn. But spitting is a good substitute. I find any car or pedestrian plastered with spit will immediately yield.


Tom, I took the link to "this recent post," but I couldn't find the reference to the slain student body president in the comments there. In fact, I looked "everywhere" and couldn't find that reference. Did I say that to you in a personal e-mail perhaps?

tom sheepandgoats

It's in your 3/22 comment. You may have to hit the "next" at page's bottom to expand the comment list. (A quirk I've never noticed typepad pulling some shenanigans on me?)


Ah, I'd never noticed "next" before either (is that what you meant--you'd never noticed it?), so of course I didn't look in the next section of comments.

Yes, I referred to the student's being "in the wrong place" or "at the wrong time" to contrast that kind of "danger of chance," to which we are all subject, with the sense of danger I seemed to be experiencing as a member of a small minority of unbelievers in Easter (which membership was a free choice on my part and not a matter of chance). I'm not sure that my mention of the student's death "had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of [my] comment," but you made good use of it in your post. Your paragraph-concluding sentence is magisterial: "For this young woman, and loved ones, and the entire campus in proportion to how well they knew here, violence has 'ruined the earth.'" Chance has that destructive power, whether it comes in the form of "an act of God" (like a lightning strike), a pure accident (such as a fatal automobile wreck), or random murder (unpremeditated killing of a stranger). I classify random murder in this because of the fact that random murders are going to happen (statistically), and whether the victim is you or me or the student is largely a matter of chance, of being "in the wrong place" or "at the wrong time."


I guess I'm impatient for a return comment, for here I find myself again to say a bit more about one of the more or less implicit points of my comment, the point that chance events that "ruin the earth" in the sense of ruining it for the people who have lost a beloved includes "acts of God." That is, I might have stated explicitly that that lightning strike killed a farmer, and his wife and children never saw their husband/father alive again.

I might have mentioned earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, which of course can (and have) killed hundreds or thousands in a very short time.

And, of course, if you'll extend "ruining the earth" in the specified sense to other members of the animal kingdom, there are all the individual deaths of animals to the teeth of their natural predators. The surviving members of the gazelle herd will never again see their lost comrade, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Some other species besides man form "husband-wife" bonds and have families. The most intelligent type of hyena live and hunt in quite large groups ("tribes" of nearly a hundred), in which each individual recognizes all of the other individuals--and can miss them when they are killed. One of my personal saddest images is seeing on a TV nature program a hyena of one tribe slaughtered by members of another pack. The poor creature seemed resigned to his fate, and I just don't think I was projecting myself onto it to imagine that it KNEW what that fate was.

In other words, I guess I might say that I find this protestation of all the human depredation of the earth a bit insipid when you leave out of account the destruction wrought by "the hand of God." (And I didn't even mention the death of suns and the consequent death of their planets, some others perhaps inhabited by animals as worthy as those on our own planet.) It is indeed ironic for the God whose hand regulates the food chain and the death of stars to be held up as a moral exemplar and judge. What will God do to "ruin" Himself for all His own ruination?

This is the sort of reasoning that makes me regard the Bible as largely mythic fantasy....

tom sheepandgoats

I didn't answer the last comment because I didn't quite understand it. We don't think that when lightening strikes God personally is hurling the bolt from heaven! (like Tim Burton's Martians making sure that the falling Washington Monument lands squarely on the fleeing tourists.)

As for animals, I don't know.

As for dying stars and planets, I'll agree with you that it's a horrible tragedy once we have evidence that any of them are inhabited by "animals as worthy as those on our own planet," but not before.

After I wrote this article, I split it up into two parts. The second part is in the hopper, but I'll post it next, after I get Eliot Spitzer out of the way. It will be more pertinent to the points you've raised, though you probably won't like it any better.


Well, my dear friend, of course I "don't think that when lightning strikes God personally is hurling the bolt from heaven!" since I don't think the Fellow exists. But I supposed that you NECESSARILY do (if you're willing to follow your theological views to their logical conclusions)...?

I look forward to your future reply to this. Good on you, to overrunning cup.

tom sheepandgoats

" But I supposed that you NECESSARILY do..."

I don't. Nor do I see how that's an inevitable conclusion.


Well, I may be wrong (since you suggest so), although (if I understood your theology adequately) I would attempt to demonstrate by logic how it seems to be inevitable (according to my imperfect understanding). But I don't suppose I will ever have anything approaching a "perfect" understanding of it. I'm guessing that you believe God is all-knowing. Do you not? And I'm guessing that you believe He's awfully (if not "all-") powerful....

Perhaps you can see some of the strands of my supposed demonstration.

But that's not something to let get in the way of our amicable relations. That is, I'm not willing for it to be a hindrance.

Good on you, my friend, to overflowing cup.

tom sheepandgoats

There are times one may not use to the full extent possible either their knowledge or power.

Between technology and private investigators, for example, it is no doubt possible for you to track your wife's every move. But you don't do it (I hope) out of regard for her privacy, dignity, right of self-determination, etc.

Similarly, if your son left the family home on the avowed career path of slaughtering animals, you might choose not to use your "power" to bail him out should he get himself into a jam. Especially if you had no evidence that he intended to turn aside from his course. He might also never learn of the $10 million inheritance you were going to leave him.

You must keep in mind our contention that the human race has estranged itself from God with disasterous results. As they willfully pursue a "suicide" course, should he nonetheless make sure that no harm comes to anyone?

As pure speculation, suppose that God knew of cool technology by which no person would ever get struck by lightening. Give it to humans now and it's benefits will be ignored so as to focus on possible weapon potential, just like it's been with nuclear power. Perhaps he will keep it to himself for a more peaceful time.


Your scenarios of the moral limitations on tracking my wife and intervening on my son's behalf make some moral sense. And if there were a cosmological parent-child relationship (I don't believe so), it would seem to make at least that much moral sense too, given the assumption that "man estranged himself from God."

But did the other animals on the planet do likewise? Aren't you too bothered by the suffering embodied in the food chain? In fact, aren't you bothered by the animal sacrifice depicted in the Old Testament, even by God's not only permitting the cruel sacrifice of Jesus but of requiring it in some way? That doesn't strike you as a barbaric fantasy of the primitive imagination?

My view is that there simply is no god involved in these matters at all. There is no cosmological parent-child relationship (except perhaps in Carl Sagan's sense that we are all made of "star stuff," or in the popular interpretation of Darwin that "men are descended from apes"). This view avoids the repugnant moral order envisioned by theists.

tom sheepandgoats

The animal rights movement is a very recent development...perhaps only twenty years old? I don't believe atheists have embraced it to any greater extent than have believers. I am more matter of fact regarding the food chain than are you...including humans being at the top of it. (though occasionally a tiger or something gets its revenge) Of course, I am troubled when I hear of wanton cruelty in taking animal life, but not necessarily the taking of life itself when it is for the purpose of obtaining food. You have the follow-thru for your convictions.....that is, you are a vegetarian, and you can only be admired for practicing what you preach. However, all of prior mankind and nearly all of current mankind do not preach it. We do have the guidance in our faith that, if a Christian chooses to hunt, that they use what kill for food. That is, we believe it is wrong to take animal life "unnecessarily," or just for sport.


Tom, I really don't care (I've changed this to "don't give a shit" then changed it back, then changed it again, then changed it back trying to set the right tone) whether the animal rights movement is new, or atheists as a group have or have not embraced it, or whether they've done so more or less than anyone else, or what people have preached or not preached about it. What others have thought or done about it does not serve to inform my personal thinking or my search for truth and virtue. While I respect the benevolence of your cohort's practices regarding animals, good practice (as I have said before) does not prove the truth of the theory that shelters it. Does that theory not condone animal sacrifice (as it went on in the Old Testament at least) and the sacrifice of a man "for forgiveness of sin" or some such thing? Does your benevolent practice somehow make up for all that?

Of course the food chain is all about taking life for the purpose of obtaining food, or "the survival of the fittest." I'm just saying that, whether others have felt the same way I do or not, or preached it or not, I can't go along with a view that portrays "God" as the author of it and morally okay with it. That view presents either God or (as I would say is the case) the people who propounded the view as lacking something morally.

Much of the branch of theology known as "apologetics" is intended to formulate elaborate justifications why seemingly abhorrent beliefs and practices are actually not bad at all. Excuses for keeping slaves. Excuses for subjugating women. Excuses for putting your son on an altar with the full intention of taking his life. Excuses for killing women who have dishonored their families by being raped. Excuses for calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie...Excuses for animal or human sacrifice.

tom sheepandgoats

The only item on your final list I can comment on is animal sacrifice. It is true that in OT times God directed animal sacrifice for various occasions.

There is also the single instance of Jesus being put to death by a then common method of execution which man, not God, invented. He did so to accomplish goals which you do not agree with.


Tom, you are, at least about one thing, right: indeed I do not agree that he did so or that there is any such he to have done it! Good on you, to overflowing cup.


Tom, I feel a little bad about the downward spiral of our interchange here. I regret it. But we in fact have such divergence of belief or view or assumption, it's hard to find common ground. Even as I re-read your last comment (above), I see in "It is true that in OT times God directed animal sacrifice for various occasions" a false statement. It is NOT true that "God directed animal sacrifice"--unless you mean that as shorthand for something like "The OT people's concept of God was that He directed them to sacrifice animals." I think that is probably true, very probably. But to me it's just an indication of how barbarous and primitive and fearful and superstitious those poor sods were.

And the difference between the OT concept of God and the NT concept does NOT show that "God grew up" or something like that, but that people became a little less barbaric, a little less primitive, but perhaps just as fearful and maybe even more superstitious.

And as you could no doubt see from my admission about wavering between "don't care" and "don't give a shit," my initial reaction to your comment about the age of the animal rights movement and the position of atheists as a group on that topic (implicitly vis-a-vis theists, as though you were trying to cast our PERSONAL interchange in terms of some global battle between believers, represented by you, and atheists, represented by me) was anger. I'm not exactly sure why your comment ticked me off so much, other than as seeming to regard me not as an individual but as a representative atheist. But maybe you were thinking I regarded you as "a representative theist." I mean, in the very interchange at hand, I gave numerous examples that don't even have anything (much, at this time in history) to do with Christianity but a whole lot to do with various aspects of Mohamedanism.

I possibly owe you an apology (and I doubt that you owe ME one). So, I apologize, and I'm dying for us to touch gloves and leave the gym for a while in favor of having a few beers or glasses of wine together. Somewhere shaded, maybe a park bench overarched by trees.

tom sheepandgoats

I saw that I had touched a nerve, not so much as regards God or no God....after all, you expressed nothing there that you hadn't expressed before, but as regards animal rights....a little like I wrote in the prelude to the Winged Migration Email: never cross an animal lover. As such, I took it in stride, and "sparring partners" it still is. No apology needed.

I'm not mean to animals, you understand. Many here think of me as an animal lover, but it doesn't extend so far as to vegetarianism.

Do you agree with harnessing animals for the sake of agriculture, such as still is mostly the case in third world nations. They don't like it, I suppose. I mean, like me, they'd probably just rather laze around. Making an animal pull a plow, however, is a lot "nicer" than using one for sacrifice, (which is still often done in the third world)I grant you.

Are your family members also vegetarians?

When my daughter went to the Dominican Republic a few years ago, she asked regarding this or that dog "what is his/her name?". Locals wondered what was wrong with her. No one names dogs over there...they're more or less ungroomed creatures that roam at will. Animal rights, for better or worse, is still largely a function of Western prosperity.

As you know, I don't agree with you that modern civilization has shed their "barbarism," not by any means. They've dressed it up a bit, refined it....we live in material plenty, and so come to think we are better than our forefathers.....but present world conditions (to go back to the "ruining the earth" theme) suggest we are just as barbarous as ever, likely more so. Modern weapons, for example, don't require the hands-on barbarism of swords and axes, but they take far more lives. The fact that today's oppressors can keep their hands clean should not be mistaken for "more civilized."


My dear Tom, Thanks for your cordial hospitality. May joy and good fortune in your life redound!

I wish I were a vegetarian, for that's where my heart lies. But I defer to my wife and honor the principle of marital accord over that of vegetarianism. I thought this was clear from my discussion of "New Ten Commandment" number whatever it was at the time I published the post referenced above somewhere.

You're perhaps right that I overstated the advance of "civilization" from barbarism to civility, certainly in terms of "ruining the earth" behavior, but also even when it comes to belief in God, for I think I stated some comments ago (to a different article) that, at least in terms of world population growth, there are probably more people on the planet today who "believe in God" than ever before, which obviously shows little advance in enlightenment. We may even not have advanced much beyond the view of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who wrote that "...the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." [Leviathan, Part 1, Chapter 13]

But again, neither these numbers nor the actual "state of civilization" (whether it has advanced much or not) proves anything about the existence of god or gods. Perhaps the most it demonstrates is that enlightenment is hard to win and the enlightened are destined always to be in a small minority. And maybe enlightenment is more a matter of luck than of any personal merit or virtue.


Tom, a science article in Tuesday's New York Times ("Blind to Change, Even as It Stares Us in the Face," by Natalie Angier, at reminded me of your theological wonder at the extra capacity of the human brain. "Visual attentiveness is born of limited resources. 'The basic problem is that far more information lands on your eyes than you can possibly analyze and still end up with a reasonable sized brain,' Dr. Wolfe said."

At least from the point of view of dealing with the amount of data potentially flowing in through our eyes, the human brain may not have as much extra capacity as you imagined.

And, from the evolutionary biological point of view, I'm now wondering myself how the evolution of the eye and of the brain interacted to influence one another....

tom sheepandgoats

Nonsense! They're two entirely separate issues.

A jug for the water cooler can hold an impressive amount of water. But you can't pour it in all at once. The neck is small.

Similarly, the brain has far more capacity than it should for our brief lifetime. (Surely you don't get the sense your's is filling up....that you're close to running out of room) But you can't put it in all at once. And in the case of a long long long life, you don't have to.


You seem to very sure of that, my dear Tom!

As for my sense of my own brain, well, alas, I do rather get the impression that it has had its day and is turning to mush. It might indeed be able to function at some level beyond the time that my heart or some other vital organ fails, but not by much.

Let me know your own sense of this (that is, about your own brain) in another twenty years or so....


Evening. Just thinking of you, Tom.

Would the eye (as discussed in the NY Times science article) be analogous to the water jug's small neck? Along the lines of, we'd have to look and look and look (for eons) to bring enough visual information into the brain to even begin to start to fill it? Is that part of what you're saying?

My wife and I are about to sit down and use a small bit of our brain capacity watching the movie "Sweenie Todd" (the new version, with Johnnie Depp).

Good cheer be thine!


I see we've jumped over the page to "next" once again. My, we're prolific!

"Sweeny Todd" was quite delightful, but probably not for those who can't watch even simulated gore. Lots of carotid artery slashing....Sweeney, after all, was "the demon barber of Fleet Street."

tom sheepandgoats

It doesn't sound as if Mrs Sheepandgoats would like it.


No doubt it was "just a coincidence," but the very next movie I watched (last night), Caché [Hidden] (2005: Michael Haneke), had a suicide by carotid-artery severing! Unlike the stylized (and anticipated) throat-cuttings of "Sweeney Todd," this one, being completely unexpected, was quite a shock.

Another film for Mrs. Sheepandgoats to skip.

Ed Hughes

Tom Sheep and Goats,
My brain has been fairly well filled to capacity at times, but a good nights sleep or a movie seems to let it settle, and then there is more room, increased neuron activity, and that great feeling of beginning with a fresh start. That fresh start is enlivened by one of the worlds greatest inventions; some folks might not call it that, but the general purpose digital controlled computer, with programmed executable instructions in read only memory and nondestructive random access memory, along with the necessary peripheral devices to store digital data, to display digital data and to allow hard copies of digital data lets us find what someone else might be thinking and trying to get us to understand. This device is the common PC, and wouldn’t you know it - This thing was made possible by the same people that brought us the “A Bomb”. Believe it or not it was for nearly the same reason. Computers and their uses has been around for some time and I will not bother this readership with the details of their development.

The following is applicable to submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). We had built these nuclear bombs and had to be able to deliver them to an enemy anywhere on this earth. For accuracy and dependability of warhead impact it was found necessary to launch a computer with the missile to control missile flight and warhead release. The computers of the time even though they were smaller than what are referred to as first generation computers required too much missile power for propulsion and therefore limited the target range. The powers that controlled this whole process put out a memorandum to all hands, and that included the civilian contractors that had government contracts to build all the devices necessary to maintain nuclear weapons and continue to make them ready for fleet usage. The memorandum basically stated that no electronic digital hardware for strategic weapons would be considered by the Navy unless that hardware was constructed with integrated circuits. That manufacturing process of electronic circuitry has become the standard of computer manufacturing today, and without the money paid by the taxpayers of this great country and the need to possibly deliver nuclear weapons to any area of the earth the PC would not exist today. Oh, by the way, as a taxpayer of this country, should you, as well as every other taxpayer, be considered one of the ruiners of the earth? You have afterall helped to finance this effort.

There is a lot of truth in what you say about “ruining those who ruin the earth”. There is no nation or organization on the earth that can make the decision on who to ruin for the conditions that man has imposed on the earth. If God decides to take care of the ruiners the way he did last time, or in a similar manner, nearly everyone will be in serious trouble. God will be wiping out a lot of folks that are good bad or indifferent. And will he still spread the word that he loves us? I find no solace in that rationalization for some reason.

I also spent much of my childhood cringing under a school desk doing the duck and cover drill, and covering our eyes to prevent eye damage. These were all preventive measures that were prescribed at the time so that is what did. A lot of folks built fallout shelters and stocked them with life sustaining supplies, they filtered the air, provided a good water source for their family and did the kinds of things that might help them to survive what they considered to be end of humanity, should that bomb be dropped. In general most people would have sat and wrung their hands and would have gone like the lambs to slaughter if a nuclear bomb had been dropped.
We are the only country to ever use nuclear weapons and I feel that it was justifiable at the time, for the reasons that have been stated thousands of times. Since the first use of nuclear weapons there has been a number of times when politicians have contemplated their use against an enemy, I feel certain that the day will come when nuclear weapons are used again. I can only hope that time will never come to be. We are dealing with a world that consists of some countries that would kill all of us, and what should we do with these people? They will no doubt use a nuclear weapon at some time if we allow them to do that, If it can be determined that these countries have the means and the desire to use these weapons we should strike first. Let me point out that I am not saying use nuclear weapons but we should strike their facilities with a maximum force of conventional weapons, before it is too late for thousands maybe millions of our citizens.

I chose to try to learn what nuclear warfare really meant by enlisting in the US Navy and helping to control the actions of those that might threaten our nation with nuclear weapons, I spent the largest part of my Naval career in the effort to stop or restrain the USSR from using nuclear weapons. For those of you that do not know what the Cold War was all about; there were many aspects of that more or less bloodless conflict and I am only privy to one part of, and that part was the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine effort. It was that effort of the United States to present a declaration of mutual assured destruction (MAD) for any nation that might threaten the United States with nuclear weapons. We the United States promised the nations of the world that we would never initiate a first strike again with nuclear weapons, but any nation launching a first strike against the United States would be annihilated by nuclear weapons. There has been since 1960 United States nuclear powered Submarines that are able to point missiles and impact targets with nuclear warheads anyplace in the world and believe me they stay hidden from any other ship and ready to launch missiles as commanded. I completed 7 strategic deterrent patrols in Soviet waters in the 1970’s on one of those Submarines. Each patrol was 70 days, and we had to stay submerged and undetected but close enough to cover all of our targets 100% of the time. This effort has been going on since 1960 and will continue into the unforeseen future. I sleep better at night knowing that my Shipmates are out there protecting us. Whoever reads this should also sleep better knowing that we have created what might be known as a “Mexican stand off” and it prevents our enemies from attacking us. Are we the ruiners? I do not know but we have been the savior for nearly the last 60 years. I know that counts for nothing if we ever have to launch the first missile.


Ed Hughes

In reading the comments of the individuals responding to “Ruining Those Who Ruin the Earth” I find there is a lot of misunderstanding about what is taking place concerning those things recently exposed to public view and concern public water supply contamination. One of the responders stated that we are safe from the pharmaceuticals in the water we consume, and the individuals that will suffer are those in backward countries that are unable to filter their water. The typical filtering process in the average city in the United States is unable to properly filter these pharmaceuticals from the water supply and the process to be able to filter their water is very expensive. Most cities are unwilling to do the proper filtration due to the cost and the taxpayers will scream to high heaven when they have to fork over those costs. There are two processes that I am aware of the can filter water properly for human consumption and those processes are distillation and reverse osmosis – Call your local public service district (that is the name they use in this town, which will remain unnamed) and ask them what water filtering process they use in providing water to the public.

Ed Hughes

Tom Sheep and Goats,
It is nice of you to bring up all the fictional things that have occurred over the last 60 years or so, and even though they are rather frightening to many individuals, none of those tales; whether it was by Bradbury or Serling or anyone else, that was successful in occupying the mind through the boob tube even came close to reality. I like all that stuff these folks produced but when I shut the tv off it is gone. Anything that the little mind might conjure up after that is not real, please pass that on to all that you know. I thank you and the readership.

tom sheepandgoats


Thanks for taking the time to provide so much background. I half expect some military type to come along, declare it all classified, and shut me down. I’m really quite flattered that a guy with so much expertise should see fit to offer his comments.

I guess there’s little question that military research has resulted in much technology that is now civilian and mainstream. They say much the same about space exploration. And there’s little question that MAD has succeeding in averting nuke warfare for these many years. It’s easy to appreciate the satisfaction one might feel in having played a part in that effort.

Most governments bring some benefits & have some genuine merits. They also have serious, even “fatal,” shortcomings. Jehovah’s Witnesses spend their time trying to represent and live by principles of what the Bible portrays as God’s government. The coming of this arrangement is a central theme of the Bible, we feel. It’s the kingdom referred to in the “Lord’s prayer,” which, when it comes, will means God’s will done “on earth, as it is in heaven.” It’s the arrangement represented in Daniel 2:44, as a culmination of a long string of human rulerships:

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite….

Ed Hughes

Tom Sheep and Goats,
The way I see it is everyone in this world has an assigned job, many folks do not do their assigned job for many reasons but I did not have any blinders on when I chose my life’s work, I thought it was the right thing to do; to help in the containment of the enemies of our country. We were all leery and worried even though much of the information that was spread around by our country was propaganda. From the time I enlisted in the Navy in 1954 until this present time 2 US Navy nuclear powered Submarines have been lost, the USS Thresher which was lost on sea trials was lost with all hands due to a number of mechanical failures, and the USS Scorpion. The US Navy put out the word that the USS Scorpion had been sunk by a Soviet Submarine, even though the Navy found that was not true they continued to keep that theory in circulation to keep us Submariners on our toes, for the next 30 some years we on Subs operated as if the Soviets were an extreme danger to us. And as I had pointed out in an earlier e-mail we had to operate in Soviet waters, to keep primary targets in range, and Soviet Subs were prevalent at all times. All that we and our Boats went through during those times was highly classified, the only thing any of us could say was “I can neither confirm nor deny” and we lived by that in those days. That was almost 50 years ago when the Scorpion was lost with all hands and since that time the classification of those events and what we did on operations has been removed. The rules change for the military after a period of time but I feel we as Sailors did a good job not letting anyone know what was happening in our world and that was required at the time.

There are some in this world with maniacal power that could have made mistakes and commanded the launch of nuclear missiles. There are safeguards built in the system to prevent an inadvertent missile launch, but there is no certainty that this will never happen. Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines that are still out there on patrol continuously are unable to accidentally initiate a missile launch. One person whether it is the Captain or his next in command the Executive Officer or the officer in charge of weapons launches the Weapons Officer or any subordinate on the Submarine could not initiate a missile launch.

You, Tom Sheep and Goats, on the other hand have taken on a job that requires you to bear witness and tell all the things you know to any who will listen and if they do not listen you will tell them anyway. There is nothing wrong with that philosophy either but I normally just choose to roll my eyes and give you folks a blank look as if I have been overwhelmed by your message, but I do stand and listen generally. We have an old saying in the Navy “you throw much s--- against a bulkhead some of it has to stick”, so I usually exit the scene before it starts sticking. By the way, Tom, we had during my tenure in the Navy many individuals that were removed from the “Reliability Program” that kept records on each individual involved in every aspect concerning nuclear weapons, some washed out of training, some were judged to have lost mental capacity, drinking or even infidelity caused people to be removed from the program. The biggest cause was individuals stating that they did not believe in MAD anymore. But I never heard of any Sailor being removed from the program because he felt he was a ruiner of the earth.

tom sheepandgoats

"but I normally just choose to roll my eyes and give you folks a blank look as if I have been overwhelmed by your message, but I do stand and listen generally."

We typically come without appointment to people who are busy, have their own views, and are distracted by many things. They are certainly not required to visit with us, which is why I always appreciate it when some take the time to do so.

The hope we find in the Bible means a great deal to us, so we imagine it may to others as well. It is a "role," as you describe, one recommended for Christians. (Matt 24:14)

The subject is broad enough that it takes some time to get one's head around. So we print various materials to help in that regard. What we really offer, though, is an invitation to a Bible, one-on-one, and as concise and convenient as we are able to make it. JWs may have described that to you before.

Kathy Durrum

well done commentary. Im a Jahovah's Witness and realize the very thing that pollutes the earth the most is greed and lack of love for fellow man but it still has to be recognized that we can do so much better. We cant walk away living on this earth without taking some of its contents. Cant we respect life more, recycle, preserve and care for animals as directed in the garden of eden?

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