Are We Looking at a Bait and Switch?

In the manner of the Lord’s death, Roman soldiers break legs to hasten death. But they don’t do it to Jesus. He is already dead. The apostle John says: “In fact, these things took place for the scripture to be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of his will be broken.’” (John 19:36)

He is quoting Psalm 34:20: “He is guarding all his bones; Not one of them has been broken.”

Yet, if you read the verse in its Psalm 34 context you would never get the impression that the subject dies.

They cried out, and Jehovah heard; He rescued them from all their distresses. (17)

Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit. (18)

Many are the hardships of the righteous one, But Jehovah rescues him from them all. (19)

He is guarding all his bones; Not one of them has been broken. (20)

Disaster will put the wicked to death; Those hating the righteous will be found guilty. (21)

Unbroken bones runs parallel to ‘rescued from all distresses,’ ‘saves those who are crushed,’ and ‘rescued from all hardships.’ If you’re rescued from all your distresses, you don’t expect to die. The only one who dies is ‘the wicked’ of verse 21, the one ‘hating the righteous!’

Hmm.

Are we looking at a bait and switch? 2D95125F-6A6D-4B31-9BDA-2CECD47C1F21 Is John doing some ‘quote-mining,’ pulling a verse out of context? Better to think that in applying it to Jesus he adding a new dimension to Psalm 34:20. Was Jesus’s life unbroken? Anyone seeing him impaled, his disciples included, would have to say no. What was unbroken, however, was his integrity.

Bones likened to integrity works pretty well. What gives a body ‘integrity’? What makes it stand up? Bones. Break the bones and it no longer stands.

Bones are often not literal in scripture. They can be “filled with dread,” in the case of a fearful person. (Job 4:14) “Jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Pr 14:30) On the bright side, “pleasant sayings are . . . a healing to the bones.” (Pr 16:24) The fear of Jehovah is ‘a refreshment to the bones.’ (Pr 3:8) In all of the above, ‘bones’ are symbolic.

But if the bones that not one will be broken are not literal then probably the other items of Psalm 34 are not literal either. ‘Rescued from all your distresses?’ You may still die, but with your integrity unbroken. It’s a little like the sparrows that “not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” That doesn’t mean they don’t fall to the ground. It just means God knows about it. This is a downright bummer to those whose sole focus is the present life, and it’s a bit of a check even for those whose is not

Still, in the long run, integrity is life. Jesus was resurrected. Those who keep integrity toward God, though they die, are resurrected. They may yet live forever, just with a little hiccup at the beginning.

This brings no comfort to those whose sole horizon is the short run, but it does to those who have the big picture. See what a difference your time frame makes. People do die in this system of things. Sometimes your faith gets you out of a jam even now, and when that is the case—well, you won’t hear me complain about it. They throw Felix into the hellhole (related Saturday AM at the Pursue Peace Convention) where prisoners are broken, and he emerges with the toughest one of them saying, ‘If anyone messes with you, they’ll have me to answer to.’ It’s his faith on display that protected him, in combination with qualities engendered by the Word of faith—don’t repay evil for evil but repay evil with good, consider others as superior to oneself, treat others with deep respect, keep a primary eye, not on your own concerns, but that of others.

The qualities instilled by application of Bible principles go a long way in safeguarding a person. They are very hard to instill in the absence of Bible study, since they go so contrary to the dominant spirit today. Even now, they bail a person out of trouble. But when they don’t, one is fortified by knowing that keeping integrity means resurrection, and resurrection means life. That confidence, in turn, strengthens the resolve not to break one’s integrity. All the people manipulated to do terrible things through fear of being killed themselves, whom Bro Sanderson spoke of? Doesn’t happen to those who trust in God.

One’s time frame makes all the difference. ‘Keep your eyes on the prize,’ as the song taken from 1 Corinthians 9:24 says. Make life in this system count, but even so, know it is not the ‘real’ one. John Maynard Keynes, the economist, shot back at those who insist the economy would always revert to normal ‘in the long run’ with, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

He is right with regard to the time frame of persons whose sole reality is the present system of things. But in the time frame of those who trust in God, it is, “in the long run we all live.”

 

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My Meeting Notes: Week of July 25, 2022 & musing

PursuePeace Convention, streamed, Part 4 of 6. “The north wind brings a downpour, And a gossiping tongue brings an angry face.” Prov 25:23.   Not a scripture that is cited a lot but was yesterday. Wowee! did it bring an ‘angry face.’

‘Well, that went well,’ sis Harley said about the showdown in the video parking lot

Peace can get blown away, & we must chase and pursue it. Then he likens it to that paper that blows away and stays put until just the instant before you lay your hand on it—and does so repeatedly.

 

The WatchtowerStudy section on a balanced view of money made me think of that Midas bro who said, were it not for the truth, he could be filthy rich but as it was he was only a little ‘dirty rich.’

Para 7 If you are TOO unbalanced in pursuit of $ it even interferes with your ability to make friends. You never quite know why people flock to you. Sometimes it is because you have dough and they want some of it.

Para 12: “one of the laws stated that a Hebrew king should not “take many wives for himself, so that his heart may not go astray.” Not everyone knows what a common practice this was with kings, who would accumulate zillions from sycophants, allies, business seekers.

 

Midweekmeeting: The speaker quotes a former CO of ours: “Sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it is a sacrifice,” and ties it in with 2 Samuel 24:24. I don’t recall him saying this, but it’s probably my bad. It fits well enough.

In this case, it really IS ‘the devil made me do it!’   “And again the anger of Jehovah came to be hot against Israel, when one incited David against them, saying: “Go, take a count” 2 Sam 24:1 who is the ‘one?’   The parallel account reads: “And Satan proceeded to stand up against Israel and to incite David to number Israel.” 1 Chronicles 21:1

‘Look, If even Joab said it was bad, it must have been really really bad!’ one bro says. That guy was all but a hit man.

Imagine that huge guy squashing poor Caleb, jamming into the car’s back seat. My kids later let me hear about it when it was them.

That video on neutrality during war: Just once I’d like to see a war in which one side or the other says, ‘We are the bad guys.’ The king can always persuade his people that they are the wronged good guys.

Deep meditation on the assigned Bible reading here: “Next to him, Eleazar the son of Dodo the son of Ahohi was among the three mighty warriors with David when they taunted the Philistines.” (2 Samuel 23:9) What kind of taunting? “Ha!  Your dad’s a dodo!”

…. I hate when I hear of ghostwriters that turn out to be people.

Look at this selfish bro taking up the one trapezoid parking space! And where does he think I’m going to park my trapezoid shaped car?!

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‘They were all over me—like flies on sh*t!’ that grumbler said, and I tried to tell him that, while it was all very satisfying to compare your enemies to ‘flies’ you really should think through an analogy before you use it.

You should have heard my brother cry when I beat him by over 100, having drawn the x, j, q, z, and k. ‘Well, instead of whining, why don’t you work on your letter-drawing skills?’ I told him. That’s part of the game too! ….   1/2 Then he turned on the radio and it was Janis Joplin crooning: ‘CRYYYY EYYE BABBEEEEE!!! CRY CRY BAABBBEEE!’  Tell me that was a coincidence. ,,,2/2

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It’s War!

It’s war! we’re told, 5EE87FB1-08DA-4CF1-BA9D-6AC0C5F03C31What kind of war is it? Is it the kind of war where one dresses in the forest in bright red like the Revolutionary War British and nothing could be easier than to pick them off?

Is it the kind of war where you hunker down in the trenches and lob letters that you know by faith will find their targets?

Is it the kind of war where you send out some Hushais to thwart the counsel of conniving Ahithophel, such that when he saw that his counsel was thwarted he went out and strangled himself as a forerunner of Judas? Yeah—that’s what I’m talking about! (2 Samuel 15:34, 17:7, 23)

Whatever kind of war Jehovah’s Witnesses fight, it’s a war where you don’t speak ill even of those who speak ill of you. In overturning the verdict of the Russian Supreme Court (and the next day Russia withdrew from the European Union rather than abide by the decision), the European Court of Human rights noted, “…it is significant that the texts [used to assert that JWs were “extremists”] did not insult, hold up to ridicule or slander non-Witnesses; nor did they use abusive terms in respect of them or of matters regarded as sacred by them.”

Enemies foment ‘trouble by decree,’ says Psalm 94:20. But sometimes the decrees are overruled—like this one of a lower court that said Witnesses couldn’t disfellowship as a last-ditch attempt at discipline and then the high court of the land (Belgium) said they could. No Witnesses had been consulted in that first trial, the High Court found, only their critics. Without internal discipline, it is impossible for a faith to be not swayed by shifting societal norms. That is the war—between those who want such swaying to occur and those who want the faith to stay true to its biblical charter.

There was also a rebuke of that country’s ‘anti-cult watchdog’ for issuing a report based on allegations, press clippings, and television offerings—the distinguishing feature being that any allegation that could be checked turned out to be false. Again, no Witnesses had been consulted. For a land that claims to be democratic, you’d almost think they’d allow people to defend themselves.  “The judgment will surely become a key precedent.  . . that scholars of religion are a more reliable source on these matters than journalists and anti-cultists, and that governmental agencies dealing with the alleged “danger of the cults” are not above the law and can be legally prosecuted when they spread false information and slander.” wrote BitterWinter.

Then there was Special Secret Agent Jack Ryan—yes, ‘JackRyan’ was his handle. Witnesses don’t have anyone who corresponds to this, nor even a Hushai. Special Agent Ryan, who issued a ‘Special Report’ of an ‘agent down’ at Bethel. Seems they recruited a young woman already there, who they knew or should have known, had some instability to her personality, and they sent her rifling through the Bethel files! She was found out.

Jack appears flabbergasted that HQ is not cool with this, as though any other organization would be. They 'interrogated her' for two days, he reports. The 'interrogation' was so grueling that she reported for a second day, when it was discovered that her pilfering was not for some innocuous cause or some misunderstanding, but to spirit whatever she found to Jack’s friends who have dedicated their lives to working against kingdom interests. Bethel showed her the door. 

"It was reported that when she arrived home, her Jehovah's Witness family and friends treated her terribly," Jack’s SPECIAL REPORT says, as though any other family would be bursting with pride to see their offspring attempting sabotage on what they held dear. He doesn’t clarify “treating her terribly,” which you think he would have done if it was truly that terrible. Doubtless she didn’t receive a hero’s welcome.

The story then takes a tragic turn. She took her life, triggering Jack’s ‘Special Report.’

I told him that if it had really happened, he killed her himself—maybe not he personally but his ‘team.’ They recruited an inexperienced and vulnerable young woman, and filled her head with nonsense of how she was a guerrilla freedom fighter liberating the oppressed, that her people would thank her like the flying monkeys of Oz thanked Dorothy for dousing the wicked witch, etc, oblivious and uncaring to the certain trouble that would befall her when she was found out. These people are crazy.

It’s fine for JackRyan (aka a Tom Clancy CIA spy character) to fantasize like an adolescent, but to manipulate others into his world of paranoia—well, he presents the consequences. And then he thinks issuing a Special Report will cover the damage. 

Sheesh! It’s as though he tries to recruit Tom Cruise on his mission to take out Witness HQ. Tom Cruise turns him down, not because the mission is impossible, but because it is ridiculous. He knows Jack and his are mostly hacks trying to settle old scores and work off grudges who should have moved on in life ages ago.

If Jack’s team must assign blame for the young woman's death, surely it is themselves they should point to. Recruiting someone once a fine servant of God, perhaps someone dismayed upon finding life was not Santa and the elves, but that there are real people doing their flawed best—and using her to further their own ends. I'm tired of their hate. Many of these ones have turned to atheism, so they are beyond all question "fighters against God." (Acts 5:37-18)

No war is fought without plenty of espionage but with Jehovah’s Witnesses there really doesn’t seem to be any. They do with their critics as Jesus did with his critics: “Do you know that the Pharisees stumbled at hearing what you said?” he was asked. “Let them be,” Jesus replied. “Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15: 12-14) Start to tussle with him and maybe you’ll fall in, too. As Nietzsche put it: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

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Little Enemies of God

Vic Vomodog, with whom I used to pull shoulder to shoulder in the work! —just like a couple of oxen, was busy as an ox throughout the Pursue Peace Regional Convention, taking detailed notes! Afterwards, he threw at me:

“I know you wouldn’t dare comment on what GB Stephen Lett said during your convention,” before quoting Lett’s, “You hear people say of a little baby, ‘look at that little angel’, but more accurate would be to say, ‘look at that little enemy of God’”

You don’t think so, do you?

“Then Tom Harley, also called Tom Sheepandgoats, becoming fed up, looked at him intently  and said: “O man full of every sort of fraud and every sort of villainy, you son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah?  (Acts 13:9-10)

What Lett said was: 

“Now, if we think about it, we're not born as friends of God because we're born as sinful offspring of Adam. Actually, when we think about it, we're born as enemies of God. Sometimes you'll hear people say of a little baby, ‘Look at that little angel,’ but more accurate would be to say, ‘Look at that little enemy of God.’ Now, of course we love that little baby and it's now not hopeless because our loving creator has made reconciliation with him within the reach of everyone. We can become a good friend of God and that close relationship with Jehovah will become our most valuable possession.”

Notice how he twice said, ‘when we think about it?’ You have to do that—think about things. You don’t just parrot sound bites to make people you don’t like look bad. O, you spiteful fellow, who quotes scripture by the bushel basket but never lays hold on the one that applies, besides the reference to Adam in Genesis, the place to focus is here:

“…through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.” Romans 5:12

when we were enemies we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” by exercising faith in him, which a baby cannot yet do, and thus is temporarily ‘grandfathered’ via the faith of it’s parents. (vs 10)

Now, as for Bro Lett, for a guy who will quote Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test out words As the tongue tastes food?” you’d almost think he’d test them out a little more before letting loose with a phrase that every evil cherry picker will use to “distort the right ways of Jehovah.”

But I hate to think what Vomodog would have done to Jesus, for his, ‘Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.’ John 6:54-55

Vomodog taunted, “Please tell me if he is truly adhering to and following Christ as a model.”

Taking into consideration that passage in John, I would say Lett is supremely adhering to and following Christ as a model, in fact, more so than any of the other HQ staff.

Imagine: what sort of vile person would comb through a convention in which every talk explores the theme verse (Psalm 34:14) ‘Seek peace and pursue it’ to find and exploit a faux pas?

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Gif: Crying baby gifs/ tenor

It may be just an example of God ‘laughing at the wisdom of this systems’s wise ones,’ proof that his anointed are, as in the first century, seldom of ‘noble birth,’ nor ‘wise,’ but decidedly ‘uneducated and ordinary.’

I’ll take substance over style any day. Turn on the TV and you can see endless people whose ‘style’ is impeccable. Among them are some of the stupidest people whom God ever let roam the earth.

 

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My Meeting Notes: Week of July 18, 2022, with Musing

Another one of those Watchtower Studies that go by at lightning speed due to the streaming convention (part 3 of 6) to follow. By the time you’ve loaded up your comment, it’s moved three paragraphs on.

 

WatchtowerStudy article: ‘Revelation​—What It Means for Your Future’ Theme scripture: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.”​—REV. 22:20.

Para 8 Always tempting to think that when things get really bad (as now?) that people see the need for the kingdom. Those final verses of Rev 6 show it doesn’t work that way. They take refuge in politics & commercial interests:

“And the kings of the earth and the top-ranking ones and the military commanders and the rich and the strong ones and every slave and [every] free person hid themselves in the caves and in the rock-masses of the mountains. And they keep saying to the mountains and to the rock-masses: “Fall over us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

Para 9 Not advisable to “worship the image of the wild beast” even if [when?] “nobody can buy or sell except a person having [its] mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.” Rev 13: 15-17

 

Pursue Peace Regional Convention: SaturdayMorning

The phrase ‘fight fire with fire’ originates with firefighters? I didn’t know that.  Just a throwaway snippet en route to making another point.

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(Photo: Ylvers at Pixabay)

Don’t start big, smart small, is the advice on informal witnessing. ‘Give me a drink,’ Jesus says. He doesn’t lead off with ‘I am the messiah,’ tho he eventually does go there.

‘I almost thinks that’s biblical,’ can be appended to so many conversations.

‘Do you text?’ Seems a good way of avoiding endless runarounds.

 

Midweekmeeting assigned reading: 2 Samuel 22

Now—THERE’S an image: “The waves of death broke all around me; Flash floods of worthless men terrified me.” (2 Samuel 22:5). https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/2022/07/flash-floods-of-worthless-men.html

Flash floods of worthless men.

‘You give me your shield of salvation, And your humility makes me great,’ a very popular verse. 2 Samuel 22:36

“For I have kept the ways of Jehovah, And I have not wickedly abandoned my God.” 22:26

“You will rescue me from the faultfinding of my people. You will safeguard me to be the head of nations; A people whom I have not known will serve me.” What a thing to be rescued from.   22:44

 

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The Forest in Symbolism and History

Could this really happen?

“Absalom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a large tree, and his head got entangled in the big tree, so that he was suspended in midair while the mule he had been riding kept going.” (2 Samuel 18:9)

That’s one bad boy of a tree is all I can say!

Maybe the problem was the mule. 9966A8AB-262E-4143-B56A-46A12C52ABD9 “A mule will labor ten years, willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once,” wrote William Faulkner. Absalom’s mule may not have kicked him, but it sure did do him dirty, hanging him up so hit man Joab could off him.

Maybe it was was the forest. You ‘can’t see the forest for the trees,’ but in this case Absalom can’t see the tree for the forest. 20,000 combatants died and “the forest devoured more of the people than the sword did on that day,” says the verse just prior (8). Maybe it was one of those ‘Lord of the Rings’ forests.

‘Lord of the Rings’ forests are built on a solid tradition of forests being treacherous, even places where the Devil hangs out! 116BEC57-458D-4F1F-B90F-A5EF81889517Mistress Higgins is forever trying to lure folks into the forest for unsavory shenanigans with ‘the Black Man.’ (The author of the Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne, modeled her after a real person, Ann Higgins, who was executed for witchcraft in 1656.) That forest was one foreboding place, where “the boughs were tossing heavily above their heads; while one solemn old tree groaned dolefully to another, as if telling the sad story of the pair that sat beneath, or constrained to forebode evil to come.”

But at the same time, push deeply enough into the forest and break freeeeee! or at least settle for that illusion.

Backward to the settlement, thou sayest!” Hester remonstrates with Dimmesdale. “Yes; but onward, too! Deeper it goes, and deeper, into the wilderness, less plainly to be seen at every step; until, some few miles hence, the yellow leaves will show no vestige of the white mans tread. There thou art free! So brief a journey would bring thee from a world where thou hast been most wretched, to one where thou mayest still be happy! Is there not shade enough in all this boundless forest …

Guelzo (without quoting Hawthorne—that’s mine) points to early writers of American history with this Janus-view of the forest. (Janus—the ‘two-faced’ god facing both left and right) Fearful, on the one hand, but promising on the other. Though the ‘promising’ is for an ‘unpromising’ reason. Press into the forest deep enough and you can escape your own screw-ups from the past! The early American view of history according to Guelzo? “Don’t have any, don’t need any, don’t want any.”.  In new America, the “human experiment” can begin anew!

(“Gimme that fruit!” Adam said. “Let the ‘human experiment’ begin!” ‘No, no, no,’ God tacitly says. ‘You’ll screw it all up! Trust me on this, you do not want to usurp the duty of telling good from bad!’ ‘Nah,’ comes the reply—what can go wrong?)

It’s not winners who came to America. It was losers, those driven out for religious reasons, crushed by financial reasons, or refugees from ‘man dominating man to his injury’ reasons. The first settlers “were radical Puritans who were looking for a way out from under the thumb screws of the Church of England. It was only after every other avenue of escape [was] closed off to them that . . . they turned to those vast . . . countries of America” (Guelzo) And “looking over the bow of the Mayflower what could they see [but a] hideous and desolate wilderness full of wild beasts and wild men. Why, said [William] Bradford, even the air, diet, and drinking of water in America would infect their bodies with sore sicknesses and grievous diseases.”

That forest was a dangerous place, make no mistake. It remained ever dangerous in waves of westward expansion, though fear was mixed with growing confidence as humans invented, and then led, with bulldozers Upon reaching the coast and finally conquering the forest, what remains?

“Space—the final frontier,” intones James T. Kirk, introducing a show that would have been dead on arrival were it not for Lucille Ball. The forests are all conquered, some trees rounded up for a ‘tree museum’ for which you must pay a dollar and a half just to see ‘em! (Joni Mitchell) Space is the new frontier. Boldly going where no man has gone before! What is discovered out there? Guys that look just like us, save for pointed ears. Is that evolution great stuff or what!? Pour me a double-shot of it!

What do aliens gain from their new contact with humans? “One damn minute,” Spock pleasantly responds to one of Captain Kirk’s commands. He’s learned to swear! He had just spent the entire 45 previous episodal minutes on 20th-century earth; he had time-traveled there for some reason and Kirk had told him to use profanity. Keep tuque pulled over ears, swear, and they’ve never know you’re not one of them, he tells the Vulcan.

What a stupid, brain-dead, ignorant stab at science fiction prophesy! How unrealistic! However, had he said, ‘One f**ken minute,’ the forecast would have been spot-on. That’s the course ‘evolution’ has taken.

They didn’t learn that in no forest. No way. They were in all their civilized glory when they adopted that new norm.

To be continued:

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Flash Floods of Worthless Men

Now—THERE’S an image:

“The waves of death broke all around me; Flash floods of worthless men terrified me.” (2 Samuel 22:5)

Flash floods of worthless men.

Not all translations so personalize it but enough do to make it clear that the former are being overly prissy, the latter adding a necessary specification that the former avoid.

A deadly flood was carrying me away,” says English Revised Version. Oh yeah? A deadly flood of WHAT?

the floods of ungodly men made me afraid,” says King James Version

Thank you.

while torrents of abuse from the ungodly overwhelmed me” International Standard Version

Yes.

devil waters rushed over me. Hell’s ropes cinched me tight; death traps barred every exit.” Message 

Oh for crying out loud. Deviate too much into paraphrase and you bring on charges of ‘What have THEY been smoking?’ 

the floods of scoundrels overwhelm me” Orthodox Jewish Version

Yeah! That’s what I’M talking about!

 

This conjures up for me images of Jezebel searching for ‘good for nothing’ men in order to kill Naboth and steal his land, (1 Kings 21:9) as though by posting an announcement on the community bulletin board: ‘Wanted: Good for Nothing Men,’ to which various scoundrels thoughtfully respond, saying, ‘Um—that would be me.’

 

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My Meeting Notes (&Musing): Week of July 11, 2022

Publictalk: Rescue from World Distress,

WatchtowerStudy article: Revelation: What it Means for God’s Enemies

Para 2, not a verse usually selected to highlight neutrality: ‘If anyone is meant for captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. This is where it calls for endurance and faith on the part of the holy ones.’ Rev 13:10

Para 4: “The key to understanding it is to allow the Bible to explain itself.”

Para 9 ‘and it had two horns like a lamb, but it began speaking like a dragon’ One might think of ‘lamb’ & how its founders are from tradition of christianity, another lamb, some devout, others not so much, as though ‘a Christian nation’ but in a hurry it is seen not to act that way

Para 10: This one looks almost the same as the seven-headed wild beast with the exception that it is scarlet-colored, why the scarlet cover?

Para 11 It’s not so much brainwashing that powers complain of but brainwashing that is not theirs.

Para 13, Recalled how Bro Jackson told of the challenge of neutrality when one party benefits you personally. Sigh—but they all do things underhanded & ungodly. If you link up with them, so do you, ‘sharing in their sins.’

Para 14: The apostle John mentions that he “was greatly amazed” by something else he saw. What was it? A woman riding one of these ferocious beasts. You’d do a double-take at that, one sis says, because it ‘doesn’t look right.’

 

Midweekmeeting, Assigned reading: 2 Samuel 20-21

Huh! The speaker said he unexpectedly met Nancy Yuen and was tongue-tied as though with a celebrity! He had been determined to spiff up his Chinese by greeting any Chinese person he saw. She was surrounded by “an entourage” at Bethel, “but I’m oblivious to those things.” The woman once imprisoned years in China was humble, gracious, and almost crushed his hand with her firm handshake.

‘Looking forward to hearing encouraging thoughts about the lovely details of 2 Samuel 20:10,12’ someone texts me. Tough sledding, some of these verses are.

Is that ofJoab the hitman? Or is that Rizpah chasing away the “birds of discouragement” that are in reality the vultures picking clean the bones of her sons?

Being assigned the Gems for his bible reading is worse than being the COBE of Michael Jackson’s old congregation. There he is acting outrageously and everyone’s looking to you to do something about it.

B37B508B-7154-47B9-804D-43416C22D278Obstacles regarding moving to areas of greater need reminded me of a chum receiving a letter on how to combat bugs, lizards, and snakes in the new land. All could be dealt with—but the letter went on for many paragraphs!

(Photo: Jan van Kessell)

You can change it.

the gist of that 5-minute midweekmeeting part

You think it’s easy writing presentations for the whole wide world?

If you think it’s a clunker that would never work where you are, you can change it

Just adhere to theme and and you’re golden

I wish I knew how to stop the app from switching to the Reference version all by itself when what I want (and everyone else is on) is the Study version. Doubtless it is in the instructions, but who can be bothered with that stuff?

 

*** Yikes! My son went with me to a boomer concert but he commented on the ‘geriatric’ nature of the conversations: ‘How’s so-and-so?’ He died. What about … him, too. ‘Say, whatever became of…. pushing daisies. Sigh—I probably only have minutes left myself.

Came across a couple necking in the park! Reasonably secluded, but it WAS a park and it WAS in my pathway. “Oh uh,” I said as I approached. “Don’t worry about it,” I said as I walked by. “How do you think I met my wife?” It just seemed a good line at the time, if not strictly accurate.

Alas, my knowledge of (trending) #Hegel is sort of like the guy who knew everything about anthracite coal but nothing about bituminous coal because he had not yet reached the ‘b’s of his serial store-bought encyclopedias.

 

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!’

How Great Historians Record History: Part 1

Listen to Allen Guelzo lecturing and you soon think of those Bible couplets in which the second phrase (sigh—we call it the ‘B part’) modifies the first. At it’s zenith, it is “So and so advocated this policy, but (darkened tone and lowered pace) he did not mention how he personally stood to benefit.” The next statement will be just the opposite: a somber ‘A-Part’ succeeded by its offsetting chipper counterpoint. Listening to such is an acquired taste. One generally does acquire it, however, and rather quickly, upon realizing that the guy is a history nut, a fully realized version of Roy who would tell one and all that he was a historian. “How do you know that?” a householder would say and he would reply it was because he was a historian. Finally I told him to knock it off. He was a history buff, not an historian. An historian is when other people recognize your expertise, not just you.

They do recognize it of Allen Guelzo. He a real historian, lecturing at the university, with several books to his credit. He sets the stage when introducing new characters into his narrative, allowing them to make a splash. You get the impression he regards all historical personages as his children. He commends them when they do good, chides them when they do bad, but they always remain his children. He quotes at length Machiavelli (whom he chides) for a view he shares himself—a view that nothing surpasses the joy of hanging out with the notables of history.

“When evening comes,” Machiavelli writes, “I return to my home and I go into my study, and on the threshold I take off my everyday clothes which are covered with mud and mire, and I put on regal and curial robes, and dressed in a more appropriate manner, I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men and are welcomed by them kindly. There I am not ashamed to speak to them, to ask them the reasons for their actions. And they in their humanity answer me, and for hours I feel no boredom. I dismiss every affliction, I no longer fear poverty, nor do I tremble at the thought of death. I become completely part of them.

This sound so much like prayer that one cannot leave the similarities unmentioned. One reflects on a certain commentary on prayer (“Your Prayers Tell on You”—November 15, 1958 Watchtower) in the Jehovah’s Witnesses literature that, “by listening to the Holy Scriptures, the words of the prophets, the thoughts of the apostles and the wisdom of Jesus Christ all flow through the mind, refreshing it and building it up. In this way one can spend all night in prayer with God and hardly say a word. When you listen you learn. When we listen to the words of the Scriptures we show ourselves learners of God.”

It's one thing to stay in a state of prayerful meditation with God. It’s another to do so with lauded humans of the past. Does the sum total of their thoughts and deeds truly add up to anything? Or is it more akin to Richard Kimble taking cover as the train delivering him up for death derails, scattering cars willynilly, leaving Sam Gerard to come along later and exclaim, “My my my my my my my my—what a mess!?” If you think it’s the latter, why devote your life to recording history? Just say something pithy like Jeremiah and be done with it: “I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Or be like Solomon and briefly apply [your] “heart to every work that has been done under the sun, during the time that man has dominated man to his harm,” and then move on to something more productive.

So historians tend to be folks who do not think the sum total of human history is a trainwreck. 65A1FF3C-DCCC-475D-A3D4-7DB8A216F558It would be too depressing to suppose it is, and then they would quit. “With every mistake we must surely be learning” they say along with George Harrison, and they are apt to squelch the gently weeping guitar that nags we are not. Moreover, though history is seldom outright fraud (poet and cultural critic Matthew Arnold called it that “huge Mississippi of falsehood”) it is, at best, subjective. It is like the elephant touched by the blind man who explains for our benefit its nature. One perceives it as a trunk, another a tusk, another a massive torso, another a tail. There is no lying involved; they all use their best judgment, but that judgment is molded entirely by their own personal experience.

Does not the relatively modern discipline of ‘criticism’ weed out such subjectivity? If anything, it makes it worse, Guelzo suspects, by cloaking human foible beneath a veneer of ‘science.’ It would not have changed Napoleon’s verdict that history is but “a fable agree upon.”

Putting it in the present day, who hasn’t heard the platitude that ‘history is written by the victors?’ Putting it even more in the present day, one thinks of the recent Pew report that the political left and the political right not only disagree on how to address questions, but they even disagree on what the questions are. Do you think the histories they write are going to remotely resemble each other?

The writings of early Christians represent pretty good history, insofar as they go, Guelzo states. Even after centuries of considerable doctrinal ‘evolution’ (which Witnesses would call apostasy), even though they are written “so that ye may believe” rather than be informed, even though there are many places they don’t go (why chronicle the details of a world that is going down the tubes?) it still makes for good history, in some ways an improvement over the classical stuff. Having given up rather quickly on Jesus’ counsel to ‘be no part of the world,’ they seek to remodel it. Church dignitaries such as Eusebius rewrite about social and governmental doings of the day to present them as molded by their understanding of Christ, ejecting the Greek and Roman gods (who are often just rebranded Greek gods) from the driver’s seat.

“Constantine bid for the support of the Christians by turning Christian himself,” Guelzo says, and then the “rush was on to rewrite Roman history in order to establish a new continuity, this time of Christianity with the Roman past.” Why did Rome, revealed in scripture as the mighty kingdom with iron and clay feet, conquer, impose order, and lay down roads? So that Paul could travel them and spread the gospel everywhere, of course! I’ve seen our own people use similar reasoning in suggesting that JW HQ came to be in the United States after that land proved a haven for those fleeing the religious strait-jacket of Europe, though not stipulated as divine direction. Suggested, though.

In reinterpreting history, Eusebius builds his narrative “on a dazzling array of published sources and archival materials,” says Guelzo. One thinks of the actual Bible writer, Luke, who opens his account with the names and titles of seven separate political and religious officials of his time, along with their interplay: “In the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was district ruler of Galilee, Philip his brother was district ruler of the country of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was district ruler of Abilene, in the days of chief priest Annas and of Caiaphas, God’s declaration came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”

Eusebius’s “literal fealty to the text of the Bible spilled over into a literal fealty into almost every other kind of text, says Guelzo. He’s “utterly scrupulous in citing letters, quotations, and official documents.” The earlier classical historians, on the other hand, “tended to put speeches and words into the mouths of their characters,” and it was left for later more analytical types to note that real people “do not deliver orations while arrows and spears are flying,” as the heroes of antiquity frequently did.

True, Eusebius so extols the benefits of Constantine’s conversion to the cross as to tempt the cynical reader to append “and they all lived happily ever after.” Some of it reads almost like propaganda—but who are we trying to kid? Those prior historians did it just the same, simply choosing different characters whose virtues to highlight. “If we've realized anything from the classical historians,” Guelzo states, “it's that alongside rational inquiry is always the need to choose, and choosing implies interpretation. There is no bright line between interpretation and propaganda because both are acts of persuasion

To be continued….here

******  The bookstore

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Making a ‘Great Name for Oneself’: Part 2

Part of a multi-part series.  Here is Part 1

Whoa! That certainly blew up in my face! George can rest easy. The friends love him

Not only was Aubree pounded into mush by everyone who chimed in, but one sis mistakenly took her sentiments as mine—I think she only read the preview—and chewed me out royal! She stuck up for George: “I happen to know that Brother Benson has taken time from his busy schedule to donate time doing specific songs that are original songs.” What’s more, she said as she slammed the door, ‘your books are rubbish!’

And here I am trying to be the JW successor to Mickey Spillane, the one who threw it back at his high-brow critics by vowing to never introduce a character who drank cognac or wore a mustache because he didn’t know how to spell those words! I mean, George doesn’t have this problem.

Quite a few people told her (and my new-found critic told me) to MYOB!. It was enough to recall to mind a certain young chum, continually accosted by someone who wanted to ‘encourage,’ who answered tersely, “1 Thessalonians 4:11.”

The bro intent on encouragement said he didn’t know that verse. ‘Look it up,’ was the reply.

The next day that brother, who was also a modest man, approached to say, “You’re a pretty good teacher.”

(“Make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business . . .” 1 Thess 4:11)

***

Said Aubree: “If he was in my congregation I would say nothing. His choices are his own. I would listen to him at a get-together for sure....But I said what I said because I come here to share an opinion which I may not express any where else.”

Understood. It’s my fault, really. She says what she says before just a few and I relay it to the whole wide world! I changed her name of course, but it’s like what my daughter once told me: “Dad, it’s getting so I can hardly say anything to you because I’ll next see it on social media! You think calling me “Amy” covers it? My friends know who it is!” Well, they shouldn’t be here. I mean, none of us are ‘recommended’ to be on social media.

Give Aubree her due because the points that motivate her are certainly valid. I just didn’t like it applied to a specific person, even if it was on the tiny private forum that I swapped for a public stage.

She pointed to how “there are many brothers and sisters who have left lucrative political careers, football careers, ballet careers, singing careers, acting careers and other careers for which they have natural talent and have all the necessary skills - for to put Jehovah first in their life. … I would rather show great encouragement to young artists to practice their craft at home for pleasure of their friends - and I tell them it is not the time now to go out in the great entertainment world to make a name for themselves - unless they lose focus and lose their life. … Football, singing and a few of these professions take their toll on the young ones.  ..... that is all I wanted to say.”

Can anyone say she doesn’t have a point? Of course, she does. She cites two persons she personally knows who chased after entertainment careers and were never seen nor heard from again.

I do mentor young singers in the truth, and I have seen some of them go into the world to never return....... career and ego. I always warn them when they are good!” Of another, “I have told her to be cautious.”

Trouble is, it’s not in the nature of young people to be cautious. ‘The beauty of young men is their power,’ the verse says, not their caution. Sometimes I think we do damage to young people by eternally telling them to be cautious in circumstances that their peers face without the bat of an eyelash. But nobody can say, ‘What has she been smoking?’ Everyone has seen play out what she speaks about. I admire her for having the courage to say out of pure motive something she knows will be unpopular. But I’m still with George.

It’s just that those of creative bent, who may not excel in more practical gifts, are always being urged to tone it down, stay low key, keep their talents under a basket—whereas if your talents lay in putting down carpet, you would be honored in the highest places. Understand, it’s not the honor that is sought—it is the ability to move about freely.

There are brothers who are craftsmen, FBBC160A-9784-43CE-9A62-0C0E5CC434ACwho truly excel at their field, and are highly sought after. One of them locally is snapped up by a Fortune 500 company that puts him on their private jet and flies him all over to their various facilities, treating him like royalty. Nobody ever dreams it is an improper tending to his career or that he is unhealthily inflating his ego. As to me, my quip for the longest time has been ‘if it pays, I’m not good at it. If I’m good at it, it doesn’t pay.’

(Photo: Fran1 at Pixabay)

For crying out loud, even my books sell like ovens in hell! Let some malcontent write a book and it goes off the charts because all his/her friends buy it! Let me write a book and it trickles beneath the chart because all my friends consider one ought not look into ‘the deep things of Satan!’

‘How come you never taught me practical things?’ I said to my aged dad, who was handy. ‘I did,’ the amiable fellow said, having long outgrown his former taciturn ways. ‘You just weren’t paying attention that day.’

I think he fell for the mantra then in vogue, ‘To get a good job, get a good education.’ You can always hire people to do that lesser stuff for you.

I have what I need. I don’t complain. I do let off steam from time to time, but that’s like the Eastern European man who went to the police to assure them that the political views of his parrot were not his.

To be continued….

******  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!’