Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 7, 2022

What is Your Relationship with God?’ Is the title of the #publictalk this morning. Speaker is from a congregation I once attended, though he wasn’t there when I was. …1/2

I like this speaker already. His Zoom background is an interior wall on his house—plain and undistracting EXCEPT for a gauge on on his upper left—a thermostat? (Wipe that thought from your mind, Tommy, that maybe he will turn and adjust it!)…2/2

Speaker gives a war scene, not necessary Ukraine. “For about 3 hours we didn’t even move…next day while we were driving away, battle broke out. …very dangerous but staying there was even more dangerous. “ Had to trust in Jehovah, he says, so what is your relationship with God?

(I take it back—it was from the Ukraine)

Each day a challenge, he says. What is a challenge now? With meetings starting up, and we are used to Zoom, will it be hard for some to get back? Speaks of going back to the Kingdom Hall, “getting that big bear hug” and believe me—he looks like he could give one. 254C055D-6E15-424A-871D-C5AEF050B8E0

He even speaks of some having outgrown their clothes! (I am happy to say I have lost weight, not gained during this time)

Speaker concludes with Psalm 34:8: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good. Happy is the man who takes refuge in him.” “What are your tastebuds like?” he says.

 

 

 

 

“Learn From Jesus’ Younger Brother” is the theme of today’s #watchtowerstudy. “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”​—JAS. 1:1 is the theme scripture…1/2

“Many of you have younger brothers” the chairman says. Uh oh. I’ll refrain from speaking of the big Scrabble cheater here…..2/2

 

Para 3: I love this point. Far from Jesus’ family following his ministry, they thought he was nuts! (though they later came around) “he gone out of his mind,” they said in alarm. (Mark 3:21)

Para 6: Imagine! Religious leaders so concerned about protecting their “power base” (today’s terminology) that they would plot to kill the man Jesus resurrected just to prove he couldn’t do it!  (John 11:53; 12:9-11)

I didn’t get called on! Arrrgghh!! But the conductor was right not to call on me. He entertained about 6-7 different comments & I had commented just three paragraphs ago. He really is a good conductor.

“the Jews were astonished, saying: “How does this man [Jesus] have such a knowledge of the Scriptures when he has not studied at the schools?” (John 7:15)  One disadvantage of “the schools” is resulting inability to be pithy. 30 seconds or less? Fugeddaboutit

Para 11: “Still others had a hard time controlling their tongue.” (Jas. 3:8-10)  Though “free speech” is lauded in the West, the Bible does not celebrate it. Sometimes it celebrates shutting people up, since “the tongue sets the forest afire” and ill words spread “like gangrene.”

Para 13: Imagine how James could have swaggered, being Jesus half-brother. There’s powerful temptation to likewise swagger when awarded responsibilities and roles. Few bros today succumb to that, as James did not.

 

Sometimes you are called for being presumptuous. Sometimes your not. Matthew 12:2-4; Numbers 25:7-9; 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Best to view it as: “Hence, he must have seen some factors about Saul that are not directly stated in the Bible account.” #midweekmeeting

“So keep up the good work,” says the householder to the nine year old child giving her first talk.“Thanks!” she says, brightly as all get-out.

Para 16: I rather like the analogy of commenting to ‘cultivating,’ Recalls to my mind years ago a new person saying how unique congregation meetings were in that “you can prepare for them.” He hadn’t come from a place where preparation made any difference.

Previous week:

Imagine a guy so timid he is hiding among the luggage. “If you’re like me, you imagine his feet and hands sticking out” the chairman says, since Saul was a big guy. 1 Samuel 10:22. #midweekmeeting

The young ministerial servants conducting the gems portion did it just right. No speeches. Just step aside & let the friend comment. The more separate remarks, the better the part.

“Excellent reading,” the chairman remarks on the reading. “You could read the telephone book to me and I’d be thrilled,” whereas the kids in the audience wonder ‘What’s a telephone book?’

“Only after they had a fine meal, a pleasant stroll, a long talk, and a good rest did the prophet feel that the right moment had arrived to anoint Saul.” Sure enough.

Here is a bro telling how he helped his Luddite student to use a tablet. He is the same bro I bought his old iPad from years ago. I was slow to adopt to the new tech but once I did I never carried another piece of paper again. It is well the Luddite did upgrade his skills because his 3D flip phone will not work in just a few days.

“Your sons will take the place of your forefathers. You will appoint them as princes in all the earth.” (Ps 45:16) Just how that works is the topic of discussion at the congregation Bible study.

Para 12  So approachability is the feature stressed the 12 gates of Ezekiel’s city. Gates were a rarity in the ancient world—you do as few as possible for the challenge of defending them.

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Each One Will Fall in His Own Particular Way—The Wrath of Rolf

Now we know how many tears we can shed over Rolf, who has become the enemy of the good in his quest for the ‘perfect.’

https://bitterwinter.org/norway-decision-against-the-jehovahs-witnesses/

So much for his “beloved religion”—wasn’t that in the title? 

Lloyd goes down in flames and Rolf steps up to the plate. I’d better not read in a few years that he’s also chasing after the sex workers in Thailand. 

 

They lay on counsel with a trowel at Bethel. Always have, probably always will. It is because they are, and usually have been all their lives, full-time servants totally immersed. Most have logged serious hours in the preaching work over many decades. They have gone eyeball to eyeball with those who oppose the good news (and endeavor to shield others from it), and consequently—are they ever given to overstatement?

Yeah, I get it—that picture of the Witness couple watching the Peace and Security announcement is a bit much. But you can bet the Russian brothers and sisters don’t see it that way. Not when they (and we) have seen headlines that Jehovah’s Witnesses are no longer allowed in that land. I recall a circuit assembly demonstration in the 70s of a couple picking up their newpaper and reading that Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned. It is reality in Russia today. Other nations have followed suit, and there are plenty of others in which serious efforts are made for that outcome. 

Why don’t the “more reasonable” brothers take these “most zealous” brothers in tow? Because the zealous ones are the ones who have done the work. The “more reasonable” ones would not be up to it—they would be sunk by too many other diversions and responsibilities. Do not come even remotely close to the superfine apostles who wanted to outrank Paul in influence but not in work. Explore  “what’s wrong” with this or that bit of spiritual food? Better to look for ways that it might work, rather than for ways that it might not.

I’ve mentioned before a past buddy named Mike. He was crazy weird and unbalanced. Orphaned at a young age, he was literally brought up in a traveling circus that became his family, where he learned that the purpose of people was to manipulate them as marks. He latched on to the truth like a guard dog latching on to your parka and did not let go, though he was so nutty that he seriously tested many a person’s patience and ultimately his own broken past did him in—though he did die faithful. I wrote in ‘No Fake News’ something to the effect that he was broken when we found him, and we didn’t fix him, but we fixed him about as much as might be possible in this system of things. 

Anyhow, he had an amazing gift for simplifying the complex. I recall him explaining to someone how the Governing Body just studies and studies their Bibles all day long, and they notice something. They discuss with each other that something that they’ve noticed, and eventually it comes out as printed counsel.

Now the thing is, he would explain, you also study your Bible, and in the course of your study you may have noticed that point too, maybe even before they did. “And if this was Christendom, you’d run out and start your own religion over it.” Thus in the simplest possible way, he balanced personal initiative with recognition of headship.

He had come into the truth when, despondent because his life was totally in the crapper, he called in tears a friend who’s life was also in the crapper. That friend said he didn’t know what might help, but he was taking a Bible study from a Jehovah’s Witness and invited Mike to join. Mike listened for an hour, then pulled $100 from his wallet. “Here—this is what you want—take it!” The brother demurred and Mike pushed back, “Take it! Why else would anyone do what you are doing. We both know this is a scam!” The brother then misapplied the James verse about if anyone turns a sinner back from the error of his way will save him from death and will cover a multitude of sins. “I’ve committed a lot of sins in my life. I have a lot of sins I need covered.” Silence, as Keith (the friend) related to me. Then—uncontrolled sobbing as Mike broke down in tears (and Keith was mortified that once again his crazy friend, absolutely without self-control, was disrupting a simple discussion—but after that Mike made lightening-like progress.

Rolf didn’t get his way, so he brings wrath upon his “beloved religion” like the Misery heroine brought wrath upon her beloved author—it serves as a cautionary tale. One moment you’re expounding upon how you disagree with this or with that policy or interpretation and the next moment you’re breaking ankles with a sledge hammer. 

I don’s seriously fear that I may follow Roff even though I’ve indulged in some minor muttering over the years. I am not proud. Seared into my being is what Jehovah has done for me. I am loyal by nature. I am a peacemaker. I am not critical A better companion you never will find. If I was hours late for dinner would you bellow? Of course not!

His publisher sent me a copy of his book. I don’t think I ever contacted him, but I may have tagged him somewhere along the line. At any rate I have a Rolf category in my blog—mostly disjointed musings that I’ve not done much with. Maybe that came to his attention somehow. Or even when I applied the Bob Dylan lyric to him: “But oh mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend nowYou're gonna have to find yourselfAnother best friendsomehow,” along with “who’s gonna be his best friend now, Patiently Sitting on his Hands?”

He gifted me his book, so I gifted him mine, TrueTom vs the Apostates, with the note:

My works are not so rigorous as yours—I intentionally keep a light tone and I do not pretend to be a scholar—but hopefully succeed in looking at things from atypical points of view. To take one topic that you develop, I have included a chapter on disfellowshipping. I have no problem conceding that anything done could be done differently, nor that ‘kicking against the goads’ might be painful. This particular chapter, ‘In Defense of Shunning’ makes some inferences from Mark Smith’s book, Secular Faith. The WT has quoted from that book, which led me to examine it all. You have generously offered your work. I do the same.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/917311

On things that might cause stumbling regarding organizational directing, well, not all is as I personally would like it. I take the Rolling Stones song as though my own, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’ I’ve also observed that the point of contention is always going to be the divine/human interface, and have been so bold to speculate that this is even true with Judas (not making comparisons with yourself) himself: he and God were tight. No problems there. But this character claiming to be the messiah was not at all what Judas had expected

As to direction perceived as unwise, that could be applied to the Lord himself. ‘To whom shall we go?’ Peter said in response to the latter’s blood and flesh remark. Why did Jesus say it as he did? No clue here. ‘What a dumb thing to say!’ I can easily picture the point being made, since enemies would seize upon it later to spread the ill rumor that Christians practiced cannibalism.

“I have heard your book caused ousting from the congregation and so feel obliged to mention that I do not blow off counsel on interacting with DFed ones as nothing. I don’t consider myself ‘above it.’ But nothing is absolute, and most things need not be taken to the nth degree. (‘I could feel the wind’ said someone of how, when they were DFed, she said such to a certain JW who immediately turned away.) Indeed, the online world presents scenarios where you might easily be dealing with DFed ones unknowingly, (‘Every man online is a liar’ is my modification of Romans 3:4) so I appreciate when people are upfront and try to be the same.”

I’m just amazed at how fast a critical person can fall. I would not have thought it of Rolf, the intellectual counterpart of fleshy Lloyd, who goes in for the sex trade of Thailand—illustrating, I guess, that each one will fall in this own particular way. 

Shocking to those of the Western world, the Bible does not celebrate free speech. Sometimes it celebrates shutting people up, as in “It is necessary to shut their mouths, because these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they should not for the sake of dishonest gain.” If I have advanced the notion that the brothers may overreact on negative talk, I also recognize the verse of contrary talk that spreads like gangrene,as well as the tongue being the most potent weapon of all, capable of setting ablaze the entire forest. So I always check that it is a rainy day before I say anything and even then I keep my forcefulness in check. (Titus 1:11, 2 Timothy 2:17, James 3:5)

Someone online mentioned that he might be in hot water if the brothers back home knew the freeness of speech he engages in here. It is a problem i don’t have. Unlike everyone else here, my writing is well known to the brothers back home and to Bethel itself. Not that I imagine anyone follows me closely, probably not at all, but I have made no secret of how I blog and word gets around—even though it is something I never mention at the Hall. Knowing that anyone could follow me at any time imposes a discipline onthat has served me well. It has impressed upon me an art of showing myself supportive and respectful. “There is a downside of this” comes across as supportive. “I don’t agree with this” does not.

My practice of tweeting the meeting drew the attention of some (and has also blown over). One of the elders began to follow me on Twitter. Now, this is not a ‘monitoring elder’ I don’t think—this is one much like myself in many ways. It benefited me for him to do this, for in the assurance of anonymity I had tweeted a few tweets that if the person I spoke of knew it, there might be hurt feelings. Now I have improved to where, though I will do foibles, they will not be such that would cause hurt feelings even if the brother or sister did hear of them.

With the exception, of course, of the brother who follows me. On occasion I will tweet something like, “Another comment from that elder who is the worst speaker in the entire circuit, possibly the entire world. He follows me here on Twitter so I try to make it worth his while.”

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: February 23, 2022

#publictalk today is entitled: ‘What is Your Standing with God?’ The ‘great cloud’ of witnesses Heb 11 will be focus. Somewhere I recall reading that Greek word for ‘cloud’ is not those puffy clouds of a half-sunny day but a completely enveloping cloud, often used metaphorically.

‘“Who here likes camping?’ the speaker queries & several raised hands. Sure. It’s fun, he agrees. “But there is a threshold at which camping is no longer fun.” He is speaking of Abraham at Hebrews 11:8-9 …1/2

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance…he lived as a foreigner in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise.”…2/2

Another anecdote the speaker lays on us from his high school days when apparently he was a hot shot athletes. Gym pupils told to line up to race, first place will earn an A—an easy A, he thought as he won the race. ….1/3

But it was an F! “You see these things called lanes? You’re supposed to stay in them!”…..2/3

Why do I think of my high school gym teacher, a popular crew cut guy with super deep voice who nonetheless struck terror into even the toughest kids when he was angry. “Thirty sit-ups!” he tell the class. Glancing at his belly, he’d add, “I can’t—but you’d better!”….3/3

 

#WatchtowerStudy today entitled: Continue to “Listen to Him”   Theme verse: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.”​—MATT. 17:5. Such was the transfiguration voice from heaven that cut off Peter as he was talking just for the sake of talking

Focus of first half of study: “Go in through the narrow gate, because broad is the gate and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are going in through it;whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life” with few finding it. Matt 7:13-14

Para 6: the “guardrail near the edge of a narrow mountain road [that] serves as a protection’ resonates with one sis who knows of many such passages “in West Virginia.”

The steep drop off reminds me of some Vietnamese refugees we befriended who immediately crossed ….1/2

the “DO NOT CROSS” sign at Letchworth (because they couldn’t read English” to stare down from cliff edge. They were not impressed. There were deeper drop offs in Vietnam, they told me…..2/2

Matt 5:23-24 is the 2nd focus of the study: “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away. …1/2

First make your peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.”   Be a peacemaker is the idea.

Para 11; A wonderful and heartwarming account of Jacob making peace with his brother. I apply it to making peace with my brother, even if he is a no-good Scrabble cheat (like last night)

Para 14. One bro says of the 12-step program that it includes seeking out those you are not on good terms with and making amends. I did not know this of that program. It’s not easy to do, he says “since we all have egos.”

Para 14:  One bro recalls how he did become a peacemaker with one who bore him a grudge. “I had to buy him a couple of dinners, but it was worth it,” he says.

Para 16: “Remember that restoring peace with your brother is more important than establishing who was right and who was wrong.​.” Would have been hard on Jacob had he done that, wouldn’t it? ‘You see, Esau, the problem was that you were a lout.’  Best not go there.

 

Ha! The midweekmeeting  chairman taking much ribbing over his new wallpaper background of ‘x’s and ‘o’s. Looks like he posts his tic tac toe games, one bro says. Looks like the curtain into the Most Holy, another says. (It doesn’t)

‘Hugs and kisses,’ probably. It’s sort of an optical illusion and looks different up close.

 

I really hope no one goes on and on about the 1 Samuel 6:4-5 images of the golden piles tonight. I mean, how crass.

Yeah, He ridicules and insults the false gods, one bro says, and those who put trust in them. They are compelled to make images of their piles. Oh my. 8C9E633E-960B-410C-B651-A98B2C789BBD

Is this the verse that accounts for Indiana Jones knowing enough not to look upon the Ark of the Covenant where is his impious foes did not and got their heads mashed? “But God struck down the men of Beth-sheʹmesh, because they had looked upon the Ark of Jehovah.” 1 Samuel 6:19

One sis recalls the childhood game ‘Hot Potato’ as she comments on the verses of passing along the Ark to others.

Yikes! Searching for the right word and he can’t find it. I’ve been there. Chairman is ‘aghast —in a good way’ at the quality of a bro’s reading. Isn’t aghast by definition ‘a bad way?’

My wife has a talk coming up. As it will mean turning the laptop away from me, she checks behind her to see the house in uncluttered back there. Don’t sweat it, dear. Nothing but Better Homes and Garden here.

The chairman makes a really good point that in assembling material for a talk, you gather far more than you will use. It gives you both confidence and depth. Newbie speakers sometimes don’t know this.

Garrison Keillor used to tell of Pastor Inqvist, trying to spice up his sermons by taking tips from the TV preachers. Alas, he began pausing in such odd…………………….places that no one could follow him.

That mountain in the Pure Worship book is high—far higher & more prominent than in any actual scene, with river flowing from within, and reinforces the point that instruction, reinforcement, blessing, whatever will be from God.

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Scholars and Seed Pickers: Part 2

Here I write up a nice review of Seminega’s book, ‘No Greater Love: How My Family Survived the Genocide in Rwanda,’ but I write it up as an apologist. He writes up his own book as a scholar. He has to. Otherwise his credibility is diminished among the academic community that is his audience and to which he genuinely belongs, even as he is also a Witness. It is more than a little crazy, but that’s the way it is. If you are a non-member of anything, you just may be up for writing accurate history. But if you are a member, it is assumed you are biased and your observations are downgraded, if not discarded. “If I really say it the radio won’t play it.” B3AA71C2-5326-48AE-B087-EF4990DE6868 Ah, well—no use in bellyaching. It is what it is. Nobody wants to hear you grumbling about the rules of the game as you play.

“Brother Seminega prefers to let others say it, not he himself. That is how it is with scholars.  He is content to include in an appendix: “Peace and conflict researcher Christian P. Scherrer states: ‘All the churches active in Rwanda, with the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (of whom only a few survived), were involved at least ‘passively’ in the genocide.’”

Do you know that I am yet blocked by the book’s publisher and the author himself? I know how that came to be, or at least I think I do. He nosed around one fine day when I was squabbling with opposers, said ‘We’re not the sort to do that,’ and figured I must be up to no good myself! Yikes! Here the hats are reversed. Here any Witness such as he knows that hobnobbing with the opposers (sometimes apostates) is anything but the bee’s knees with our people. Better give anyone who does it a wide berth! Whereas, if you’re trying to research certain topics, you sort of have to go to who represents them. It all works out for me like Rodney Dangerfield’s point of view: ‘I don’t get no respect.’

I threw them all out—all the apostates.  I had to. I blasted them away as though with phasers. And when someone from that camp began following me recently, I told him he was welcome to follow but he had to behave. Alas, I’ve learned from experience that if I engage with the malcontents, the neighbors start to complain, so be forewarned: the block mechanism was on hair trigger. A guy’s point of view must be allowed to stand on his own profile page.

It worked out okay. He DMed me with a question or two. I answered him for the most part with posts already posted, and presently he went away, after observing I had a “strange skewed logic” for viewing the world. But I replied that “strange skewed logic” is in the eye of the beholder. He acquiesced to this—he was not unpleasant. I acknowledged this even as I observed it is not exactly as though the world is firing on all cylinders running on its “logic,” which makes one wonder just who is it that has the “strange skewed’ variety.

And I observed that his paradigm of a slave breaking free from his master was a little silly. “We are all slaves to something,” said Herman Melville’s Ismael, as he signed aboard a whaling ship, making himself “slave” to Captain Arab for the next three years. If you believe the Bible narrative, you look forward to not being a slave to ‘80 years & out.’ If you don’t, you drop down to the more temporary, more relatively petty things, and carry on about breaking free from them. If you lose faith, you find yourself adapting to a new reality. You convince yourself you have found the true reality and may even start beating up on your fellow slaves still “trapped” in the old reality.

It is a game as old as time and it plays out everywhere. That’s why I like following world events—you can see it playing out in diverse fields that have nothing to do with religion. One team gets the ball and tries to run the other off the field. They may even try tilting the field, making it mighty slippery for those on the other team.

(See Part 1);

***The bookstore.

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of February 13, 2022

‘Keep Close in Mind the Awe inspiring Day’ is the #publictalk Speaker uncontrollably yawns toward end of talk. When he does it a second time—Ha! it is not ‘uncontrollable.’ It is a gimmick to convey not being lulled to sleep during perilous times. 3E39C9A2-2AE7-40C3-B402-D30032855DA0

Haven’t heard ‘Preachers Present Arms’ in a while, the sociologist Ray Abrams books of clergy support, even cheerleading, during the World Wars. “Clergy gave the war its passionate spirit and drive,” the speaker reads the quote.

 

#watchtowerstudy ‘Listen to the Voice of the Fine Shepherd’ Theme verse: “They will listen to my voice.”​—JOHN 10:16. “In this article, we will consider two outstanding teachings of Jesus, namely, to stop being anxious about material things and to stop judging others.”

Of course, Jesus’ phrasing ‘stop being anxious’ and ‘stop judging’ acknowledges that people were already doing it.

“In some parts of the world people are so poor” one sis says. “They don’t even have food stamps.”  Nor have they been called ‘food stamps’ for many a year.

Para 6: Lots of chatter on Peter starting to sink after doing it right for a time. One sis invokes “modern science” on how you can “structurally change” your brain by how you interact—what you focus upon. …1/2

Another bro opines that Jesus could have calmed those waters but didn’t to let the lesson [um—sorry—“sink in”]….2/2. (‘sink in’ mine)…2/2

Para 10: ‘I always worried about what would happen if we had nothing’ one bro quotes someone saying somewhere. ‘And then we have nothing. And you know what happened? Nothing.’ …1/2

‘When we give in to our fears & anxieties instead of trusting in Jehovah,’ one sis says,’ that’s when we have the most trouble…..2/2

Para 11: “Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with the judgment you are judging, you will be judged, and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.” Matt 7:1,2….1/2

Yeah, it’s enough for me to keep my judging in check—save only for the bro wearing his used car salesman jacket. And the bro who follows me on Twitter so I reward him with the observation he is the worst speaker in the circuit and maybe the world….2/2

Para 12: Ha! One bro says how on a volunteer project he worked with a bro who was brusque & hard to get along with, but he pushed through it and ended up liking the guy a lot. “I may have worked with that bro too,” says the conductor, who was on the same project.

Review: The bro who says he was for a long time “an outsider looking in” expresses appreciation for the study. Look, you can only benefit by considering applications of scripture. Over time it makes one a better person, teaches one how to live.

 

#Midweekmeeting Bible reading: 1Samuel 1-3. I suppose it is considerate that Eli knows God is speaking to Samuel before the boy does. That way he knows it is not just some mouthy kid telling him off, besides giving Samuel the guts to do it. 1 Samuel 3:8-9

One bro made the point that if you strike a people with piles (hemorrhoids) he guesses it shows who’s boss. (1 Samuel 5:9)

In ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why’ I did play with the notion of piles striking those who took the Branch buildings, but it did not survive the final editing. (1 Samuel 5:9)

Ha! The sis doing the return visit said to her householder, ‘Turn on your mic.’

Re land apportionment of Ezekiel 45, the study conductor just happens to know—how, I have no idea—that for the Oklahoma Sooners sports teams (football, baseball, basketball), the ‘sooner’ comes because their forebears were sooner than others for land grab.

That bro pictured cleaning the sink: When heading a cleaning crew, I used to say ‘Privilege opening up soon in connection with cleaning a toilet!”

Para 14: Foreigner very much 2nd class in (Lev. 19:33, 34) —don’t mistreat them, even ‘love’ them, but in (Ezek. 47:22, 23) they fully have an equal share.

Para 15: I recall Mack saying that for Haggai 2:7 to be true (I will shake all the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says Jehovah of armies.) there must be some ‘in’ for them to come into.

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Scholars and Seed Pickers: Part 1

From time to time I have appended comments on Introvigne’s Bitter Winter tweets. He has never responded. In the same manner, I had a brief exchange with George Chrisyddes and he wrote a really nice review of Tom Irregardless and Me that I have made use of. He even said, on my request, that I could use his real name if I wanted, not ‘Ivor E Tower.’ But since then he has not responded to email. 

Now, it’s possible these guys are so busy they don’t keep up with their own posts upon writing them. Look at their output and you begin to suspect some of them are on hyperdrive. It may also be they think I am a yo-yo. My early books were very choppy, though I have cleaned them up since. But since Introvigne has stated he has a soft spot for Jehovah’s Witnesses, it seems odd I should draw no response from him. I have come to think that, as scholars of ‘new religions’ they wish to keep themselves unattached to apologists for any given one. Possibly all the other ‘sects’ have someone trying to get his ear as well.

“Or they just got a little too big for their boots,” says a pal.

Maybe. But I try to see it through what I imagine are their eyes. I am not a scholar. They are. A scholar sets his sites on a topic, makes thorough investigation no matter how long it takes, and writes up his/her findings. A non-scholar just writes up whatever he happens to know. The result may appear scholarly if he knows a lot, but it is a entirely different process. I check out a fact here and there, sometimes delve into a topic that has newly come to my attention, but I am mostly like what the naysayers said of Paul in Acts 17: “What is this chatterer trying to say?”

The word literally means seed-picker. It denotes a bird that picks up a seed here and poops it out there. 26EB44BB-BE1B-40AF-B5F2-D773A22CB5B3That’s all I’m doing. That’s all most writers do. But it is not what Introvigne and Chrysiddes do.They are scholars.. I think true scholars must almost necessarily keep a certain  distance from apologists, which I am clearly one of. Even Shultz, obviously a fine brother, avoids approaching his work as an apologist, likely so as not to throw away his credibility as a scholar.

I’m sure it doesn’t help that I freely indulge in what I hope passes for riotous humor—anathema to any true scholar.

…One local bro (who eventually went apostate) would inform one and all that he was an historian. ‘How do you know that?’ a householder would ask and he would say it was because he was an historian. In time I told him to knock it off. He was a history buff, not an historian. An historian is when others recognize your expertise, not just yourself.

However, Chrysiddes and Introvigne are scholars of ‘new religions.’ I accept that. If they strive to know what makes Witnesses tick, they do the same with all the other ‘sects.’ I double-down on my feeling that it compromises them to be closely identified with apologists of any faith. Even Introvigne does not want to say something backing up the JW organization only to be dismissed with, “Yeah, but aren’t you a friend of that yo-yo TrueTom?”

“I always wanted to be a scholar but I didn’t know much.”—Garrison Keillor

See Part 2

***The bookstore.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The James 4:15 Bro

One older bro had a fixation on James 4:13-15 and would apply it to anything.

Come, now, you who say: “Today or tomorrow we will travel to this city and will spend a year there, and we will do business and make some profit,” whereas you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears. Instead, you should say: “If Jehovah wills, we will live and do this or that.”

You couldn’t declare you were breaking for lunch without his appending, “IF it is Jehovah’s will!”

This is the bro whose driving deteriorated so that I would not work with him unless I drove his car. So I routinely did. And I would have to crawl over railroad tracks to avoid a lecture on how to do otherwise might break a spring. How often do cars break springs these days? However, after that, guess who breaks a spring all by himself?

(Though it might be like that time I serviced Dad’s car (come to think of it, it was the same make) and the repair chain I trusted advised me on a ton of undercarriage repairs necessary, including, but not limited to, broken springs. So I took it to my buddy Alex thinking maybe I could get a better price. Naw, it doesn’t need most of those things, he said after putting it up on the lift.

It did have a broken spring and a single bad shock. I picked up those items at Autozone for him to install. “I’ve always heard that if one shock is bad you have to replace both, otherwise it will drive funny,” I said. “One shock is bad right now,” he replied. “Does it drive funny?”)

I tell you, I do miss that James 4 fellow. And don’t think you could walk on the lawn without a lecture on how “we are not the mailman!”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tracing the Universal Court Case

I told my knowledgeable pal that I was trying to trace our ‘universal court case’ explanation for God’s permission of evil. Where and when did that develop? In-house or are there forerunners, even duplicates, elsewhere? He sent me off on a wild goose chase hunting up a certain Great Courses lecture series entitled Philosophy of Religion. He said he had come across a Seventh Day Adventist who said of that course that finally the SDA explanation for evil was validated. The professor included it in one of his options, even with the endorsement that this explanation made the most sense to him but also that it was little known these days. So I reviewed all his long-winded explanations of evil—not his, but those of others that he explores and shoots down one by one before coming to the last—the obscure one that he found the most logically consistent. 

It was all a red-herring! What the professor finally came to was not the universal court case explanation that still, to my knowledge, is found only in Jehovah’s organization. What he finally arrived at was an explanation that took “dualism” into account (none of the others did!) that one good being (God) is responsible for good, but he is not responsible for bad because he has an evil counterpart (the devil) to pin all the blame on. That was what the professor found the most logically consistent, someone to blame the bad on, not the actual explanation as to why God would allow that evil one to exist and make mischief!

This was an eye-opener to me because I had assumed everyone knew about Satan and took him into account when factoring in evil. In fact, none of them do! And so when the prof finally entertains one that does, as though encountering an oasis in a desert of BS, he says, “you know, that makes a certain amount of sense”—even though it falls far short of what any servant of Jehovah learns from Day One. 

Of course, everyone knows about Satan, but he’s apparently been relegated to fairy tale status, just like Adam and Eve, so he doesn’t come up for serious consideration when the “educated” people congregate! It really is so that people educate themselves into foolishness. I have yielded to this myself. Somewhere in my blog I confessed that, since my intended audience will be the type that are not so sure about God, preaching Satan will really send them over the edge, and so I rarely do it. But that’s not to say if you’re speaking of the origin of evil you can ignore it! Sheesh. It’s kind of integral. But the great thinkers do ignore it.

Relegate the Devil to the status of metaphor if you must—same thing for Adam and Eve. That way you can at least play with the metaphor and figure just what is its application. Be like the mathematician who assumes a condition is true just to see where that logic will take him. But don’t just throw it away unless you are determined not to find an answer to your question.

So now if I am to pursue my project, and there’s one other to complete before I get to it, I must have insider access to the really old publications—maybe I can trace the beginnings of the universal court case there. They’re not available to any Tom, Dick, or Harry, because most Tom, Dick, or Harrys are not Witnesses but only want to dig up dirt or find changed beliefs over the years—and beat us over the head with them.

Sometimes I think there should be a disclaimer on all the old stuff specifically directed to such ones: “If you have to go back 100 years to dig up dirt, there can’t be that much dirt to dig.” Preface it all by saying how opposers look a little silly if they harp on ‘flip-flops’ since it is freely admitted that they happen all the time. Use analogies like the watchman peering into the gloom, how sometimes he will call an imaginary approaching ship, how the alternative is the guy who doesn’t call the approaching ship until its bow pinches his toes. Point out that nobody thinks now as they did in 1880. Point out all the times they incorrectly understood things in Bible times. (The trick is not to sanitize the present—it is to desanitize the past.)

Of course, modern-day ‘thinkers’ will call that ‘whataboutism.’ What used to be called ‘keeping things in perspective’ and was universally thought a wise thing to do is now called whataboutism. If we didn’t consider apostates the bogeyman, creating almost a superstitious fear of them, we might be able to handle their salvos better than we do.

At any rate, maybe I should follow the course that I recommended to another—write and ask for access, not like she said—for everyone, but just for me.  The trouble is I fear I may get the same response as my old college housemate did from the government, or actually from me pretending to be the government. 

College students back then were inclined to ridicule the ‘townie’ patriotism of those in the off-campus community, making much of how the peace sign was the “footprint of the American chicken.” Kevin would do this, more good-naturedly than most because he was a townie himself. He came from a tiny town called Madrid, NY (emphasis on the first syllable, not the last, ridiculous though that may sound. Moreover the ‘Ma’ was not pronounced ‘Muh’ like in the Spanish city but like the ‘maaaaa’ of a bleating sheep!). So that was the backdrop—taking the ‘chicken’s’ way out by enrolling in college. At the time there were student deferments from the draft, but everyone else was off to Nam—as though college-educated students alone were important and everyone else might just as well be cannon fodder. 

Amidst that backdrop, I sent my buddy a form letter as though from the government:

“This country has enough (a long check list of college majors followed, and I checked off the major that was his), Kevin! What we need now are soldiers. Enlist now, you chicken!”

So I am afraid that I might get a letter from Bethel: “This organization has enough authors, TrueTom. What we need now is pioneers! Sign up now, you slacker! Pick up that telephone! Sharpen up that pencil! Get off that internet!”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of February 6, 2022

#publictalk ‘Overcoming Fear of the Future’ opens with discussion of Doomsday clock, 100 second to midnight, then cites an annual survey of common fears—fear of snakes, clowns, public speaking, serious illness, #1 of last 6 years: corrupt government officials.

Zeph 2:3– seek Jehovah….probably you will be concealed, he has proven he can save, trapped against Pharoeah’s army, destroyed at Red Sea, not a once saved-always saved kind of thing. A person’s faith and endurance matter.

Mt Everest, a dangerous place, 200 climbers are died, their corpses are markers, people of God’s mountain invite others, not intimidating, this mountains symbol of people ascending mountain of pure worship, equips with knowledge, fear replaced with love, global brotherhood at peace with each other’

 

#watchtowerstudy: ‘What Leviticus Teaches Us About How to Treat Others’   Theme verse: “You must love your fellow man as yourself.”​—LEV. 19:18   “What a bunch of nice lessons” to be found in Lev 19, the conductor impromptu says.

Para 5: that pic of the sign language interpreter—the bro who is one of those tells of how the deaf have their own language & culture of which they are very proud, and if you lead off with ‘God is going to fix you’ you have just insulted them.

Para 7 about dishonest business practices. One sis whose son worked in concrete said often the stuff would be watered down—creating possible havoc many years away. Another sis updates ‘dishonest’ to include bait-and-switch ads.

Para 8  Ha! The sis whose late husband was a boat-canvas maker told of how some guy argued with him at great length to work a cash deal so as to avoid sales tax. “How do I know you are not the state inspector come to check on me?’ the bro said, whereupon he shut up & paid up.

Para 13 On grudges (You must not … hold a grudge against … your people, and you must love your fellow man as yourself. I am Jehovah—Lev 19:18)   I like how the words of Joseph are quoted (Genesis 50) when he did not hold one toward his brothers: “Am I in the place of God?”

Para 16: “If a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not mistreat him. The foreigner who resides with you should become to you like a native among you; and you must love him as yourself, for you were foreign residents in the land of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God.”

 

Why did I not know that Hannah had 5 children after Samuel? #midweekmeeting “Jehovah turned his attention to Hanʹnah, so that she could conceive; and she gave birth to three more sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel continued growing up before Jehovah.” (2:21) #midweekmeeting

Whatever became of those hoodlum kids of Penninah? one bro wants to know.

The counsel point “practical value made clear” is essentially ‘what’s in it for me?’ says the chairman.

The Iraqi man at the assembly said Babylon is the site of a festival each year, with music and food. Also that there is the slogan everyone knows: 'Babylon will rise again.'  Not going to happen, says Isaiah 13:19-20

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Chart that Would Disprove God

Take a good look at this chart, for it is a serious attempt to prove God doesn’t exist. If he did, the thinking goes, he would have patched up evil long ago.

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Note how the chart assumes God is like a Santa Claus who must shower presents regardless of naughty or nice. Note how the bottom-left two boxes present the point, “Can God make a world in which there is free will and yet ensure that no one will use their free will to the detriment of others?” Note how whoever wrote this chart thinks he is smart for positing a question akin to: “Can God make a mountain he cannot move?” Oh yeah, that’s real brilliant. Gotcha.

Throw back at these yo-yos the dilemma of how the lead runner in any race can never be overtaken, since to do so the pursuing runner would have to close half the distance first, and then half that remaining distance, and then half that remaining distance, and then half that remaining distance, and then half that remaining distance. It becomes clear that the second runner can never overtake the first. Then lead these this person to a foot race where exactly that thing happens and watch his brain fry. His ‘critical thinking’ has deceived him.

There are a few other turds masquerading as diamonds in the chart  Each of them is a result of the chartist’s rigid presumption of what God must be like. How many can you find?

Completely absent from the chart is any conception that evil might be temporarily permitted to achieve a certain higher and lasting aim. It is a chart presented from the standpoint of a child who knows what he wants and does not care to know anything else.

Let your finger go down the flow chart until it reaches the box: “Then why is there evil?” Note the three choices supplied along with the chartist’s rash assumption that he has covered all bases. They are:

1) If God is all knowing, he would know what we would do when tested, so there is no need to test us.

Note how this takes all the dignity out of being human. Some people cherish the opportunity to prove their loyalty to a cause greater than they. They will not be satisfied with a test tube result that predicts their loyalty—and with that unpleasantness out of the way, let the good times roll!

2) An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God could and would destroy Satan.

Note the assumption that if he could and would do it, he can and must do it NOW. Again, it is the reasoning of a child who expects presents under the tree on Christmas Day, and not one minute later.

3) Could God have created a universe without these?

This choice leads to the dilemma already mentioned, akin to: ‘Can God make a mountain that he cannot move?’ Maybe these guys can feast on this as ‘wisdom,’ but it doesn’t quite cut it for me.

Does not all of this validate such verses as 1 Corinthians 1:19-20?

For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectuals I will reject.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this system of things? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not get to know God through its wisdom, God was pleased through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.... Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men.”

The chart that would disprove God assumes he must also be omnipresent (everywhere at once), omnisciencient (knows everything at all times), and “all-good.” Usually the third member of this trinity is ‘omnipotent’ (all-powerful) but in this case the chartist has substituted all-good so he can blame God for whatever isn’t going right.

Simply quote one of those verses in which God says he is going to go down and check out something—such as the complaint made about Sodom.

Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy.  I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20-21) 

He wasn’t there. He didn’t know. I love the personification. Not so omnipresent after all, is he? Nor omniscient. The Bible does not present him that way. To be fair, you cannot really blame the chartist for these assumptions. Church teaching consistently paints him this way, even though the Bible does not. If it weren’t for the junk food of church teaching, maybe atheists wouldn’t have strayed into atheism in search of nourishment.

As to the third point, “all-good,” note how the chart assumes God’s role is to bless the doings of a society founded on rebellion against him. Note how it assumes God’s role is to prevent the inevitable bad consequences of such rebellion from occurring. 

Thus, every assumption the chart make about God is wrong. No wonder its conclusions are so cock-eyed. Now, to be sure, those cock-eyed conclusions might remain even if it had begun with accurate assumptions—the pull away from God is strong and more rooted in emotion than in reason. “All his thoughts are: ‘There is no God,’” says Psalm 10:4, about “the wicked man [who] makes no investigation.” (italics mine)

The emotional pull is the urge to kick over the traces—to break free from anyone or anything that would tell you what to do. In their insistence upon pursuing the petty freedoms that this world has to offer, chafing at whatever would seem to restrict them, they end up overlooking the substantial freedoms spirituality offers.

What can you do with people like that? In the case of those who once believed in God and abandoned it for atheism, you could liken them to the fellow who loses millions in the stock market. Undeterred, he celebrates the $10K that he still has left, reasoning about the rest: “They were just paper gains, anyway.”

M. D. Craven—‘Master Driver’ Craven, he used to tell his employer, Greyhound Bus—he had the Banger-to-Boston run for many years, and they would say, “Who gave you that title?” to which he would respond with, “Nobody did—I self-assumed it” (his real first name was Merrill, not Master), whose driving skills fell off precipitously in his older years, and who used to say when his car was on the fritz, “Tom, can I borrow your car?” and whom I just KNEW was going to wrap it around a tree, yet he had been so good to me that even had he said: “Tom, can I borrow your car? I want to wrap it around a tree,” I would have felt obliged to hand him the keys—used to love this verse:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Merrill loved it for the appeal from God to reconcile, with the benefit of relieving heavy matters that might weigh upon one’s conscience. “Come now, and let us reason together,” I can still hear him say, quoting the words from the King James Version of the Bible.

But it is not actually a good rendering of the verse. If you ‘reason’ with God, it will mean that you will take notes. You will not be telling him how to run heaven. It will sort of be like reasoning with Ford about your new Mustang. You will take notes at their owner’s manual that you should run it ‘shiny side up and greasy side down.’ You won’t expect them to be enthralled at how you intend to do it just the reverse.

The New World Translation, which didn’t come upon the scene until the 1960’s, well after M. D. Craven’s hay day, and so he still spoke from the KJV, corrects this faux pas, as do most modern translations. It renders Isaiah 1:18 as: “Let us set matters straight between us.” That’s better. It is the same warm appeal, the same alleviating benefits, but absent any sense that we will be instructing God. He will hear us out, to be sure, but it is not as though he will be benefiting from the pointers we may offer him.

It is like the Zoom prayer the other day to close out a small group meeting; the one offering it was just a little too obvious working in his own narrative. He wove in, as evidence of our stressful Covid-19 times, the comment about lines that stretched from (he named the far-apart streets) as people lined up for free masks. I said to my wife:  “It’s as though he imagines Jehovah saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.  Backed up that far? Wow. Things are really getting tight down there.’”

Alas, the explanation of why God permits suffering involves Adam and Eve. This will make it a non-starter for many people today. Do not let it be so with you. Treat is as a metaphor if you like—that will work for the sake of an examination. Treat it as though it were the cover of a jigsaw puzzle that you assemble for the pure satisfaction of assembling it. Only afterwards do you consider whether the scene is actually something you have come across before.

 

***visit the bookstore:

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)