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The Wicked and Sluggish Slave Strikes Again

I like the parables of Jesus where every word may convey meaning and none of it should be quickly dismissed as "filler" For example, the excuse proffered by the wicked and sluggish slave, and the master's rebuke:

"Finally the slave who had received the one talent came forward and said: ‘Master, I knew you to be a demanding* man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not winnow.So I grew afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ In reply his master said to him: ‘Wicked and sluggish* slave, you knew, did you, that I reaped where I did not sow and gathered where I did not winnow? Well, then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my coming I would have received it back with interest." (Matthew 25:24-27)

The master does not deny the slave's allegation that he 'reaps where he does not sow,' letting pass without comment only the slave's perception that he is thereby 'demanding.' The slave has a bad attitude, for the master does not expect to make his own disciples personally - he expects his slaves to pull with him, and the slave ought to have gotten his head around that.

Nonetheless, it seems that even with that bad attitude, the master could have worked with it. All it took was to deposit the money with the bankers - essentially a one-time only trip - and the master would have rolled with it. He may not have jumped for joy, but he would not have rebuked the slave - who worked up a sweat to thwart what would have occurred automatically.

So there are be ones today who don't have the greatest attitude. They don't have to. It is better if they do, for immersing oneself in the kingdom work as it exists is the best way to strengthen faith and be happy, they surely build up the brotherhood more, and they may be heading for shipwreck if they do not, but it is only by actively opposing and 'beating his fellow slaves' (from Matthew 24:48) that the master gets riled - burying the money in the ground, which is the exact opposite of setting the lamp on a lampstand so all will see the light.

Still pondering if I have the right read on his one. I am not sure it has been commented on in detail.

 

It Will be a Plate of Cookies for the Memorial at Least

 
 
My wife's student went to her first Sunday meeting last week and we traveled a few miles to accompany her. She doesn't get out in public that often and had been stressing. She got real sick (nothing contagious) the morning of, but she figured it was the devil and decided to come, come - uh - heck or high water. It is a very warm congregation, and who could possibly have found fault with the speaker? She enjoyed it a lot.
 
She had previously been fretting about the Memorial, which she also plans to attend."The thing is, I just don't know how many will be there," she says. Anybody that knows her knows what she is thinking - how many will there be to cook for? since that is her M.O. She has a plate of cookies in mind, at least.
 
Wait till she sees how the bread is passed around but nobody touches it. They will have to stop her from passing her tray of cookies afterwards to feed all the poor hungry people. Cookies

 
 

Inviting to the Assembly Hall - We Sure Weren't Prophets About That, Were We?

In field service I found myself working directly across the road from the Assembly Hall during an assembly. What are the chances?

Now, I am always on the lookout for something quirky to say so as the break the ice. An idea occurred to me as I approached a man in his garage. I thumbed behind me and said: “Man, the talks are so boring in there I just had to take a break and come talk to you - you know how religion is!”

Of course, I didn’t leave it there. I registered the impression made and soon added that I just threw that in for his sake – I didn’t really believe it. Though in SOME cases…. Well, no – not usually in the Assembly Hall. It can be the case in a Kingdom Hall, but not usually at the larger gatherings and practically never at the Regionals.

There is a chance – one must always consider – that a householder will quickly close the door and thereafter repeat to others your final and only words – “he said his meetings are dull.” No matter. This fellow will say bad things about us, anyway. Might as well give him an accurate statement to relate.

It is the season of the Memorial invitations, which are very brief. Big event – we’re inviting people – Memorial of Christ’s death – we do it every year. In closing I mention I have a cool video that explains everything in just over a minute, or I can explain it myself and that will take 45 minutes and which works best for him? But I don’t twist arms and it is always clear there is a third option, to pass on both, which most people take.

Our Assembly Hall is unusual in that it is on a residential road, which has only become more so since we built it. Moreover, though it is a network of roads, it is essentially a cul-de-sac. So there has long been a certain tension simply because of the traffic generated.

To several I explained before I left: “Actually, just so you know – I really do go there, and – it is a standard announcement at every meeting that “we have neighbors and they have kids, so make sure to observe the 30MPH speed limit” so whatever speeders there are are the neighbors and not us. One woman was very gracious and said ‘I’m sure that’s true.’

They are only going to get more neighbors. At the end of their cul-de-sac network is a new tract of over 100 homes being built. That is in addition to the Ryan homes on the right before one reaches the Assembly Hall. That was cornfield when we moved in, and later we found out that Kodak bought it as a buffer to their property so we thought we would never see anything but corn or landscaping.

We turned out to be false prophets on that one, didn’t we?

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And Just What is the Sacreligious Joke I Took Out So As Not to Offend?

And what was the sacreligious portion that I deleted that I wasn't going to at first but finally decided to take my proofreader's recommendation and do it since it could be offensive to some?

Here it is:

Discipline is a tough sell today. It is decidedly unpopular. The need for it is a constant of life, however. Let us play with the notion as we consider the prophet Malachi. Did he have teenagers? How else can one explain his style of writing? The Book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament – a short work of just four chapters. The entire book is read in less time than a quarter of this chapter:

I love you, says the LORD; but you say, “How do you love us?”

And if I am a master, where is the fear due to me? So says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who disdain my name. But you ask, “How have we disdained your name?”

“‘By presenting polluted food on my altar.’ ‘And you say: “How have we polluted you?”’

By offering defiled food on my altar! You ask, “How have we defiled it?”

You have wearied the LORD with your words, yet you say, “How have we wearied him?”

Return to me, that I may return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, “Why should we return?”

Can anyone rob God? But you are robbing me! And you say, “How have we robbed you?”

Your words are too much for me, says the LORD. You ask, “What have we spoken against you?”

Enough already! Everything is challenged! Everything is hurled back in God’s face. Just for kicks, turn the page. Find yourself in the gospels and roll that attitude onto Mary, the mother of Jesus. If we were to do so, what might one read?

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to… Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)

“In what way is he with me?” she shoots back.

Had she answered that way, it would not be Mary remembered as the mother of our Lord. It might be Olga or Tatiana.

.......That's it. I think it's funny. Others have agreed. But remember that Mary is the MOTHER OF GOD to some and just the HINT of something bad or disrespectful on her part is to wave a red flag before a bull. I won't go there.

The Haggai part is fine. But the Mary part..... You know, I am not going to ax it entirely. I will modify it so that the joke is suggested to those who don't mind going there but isn't actually made. It won't be quite the zinger I wanted but it will be servicable.


Sometimes People Reject a Valid Point Because of How Boorish its Author Is

I scored a significant coup after my post about busy proofreaders. Another person of good judgement and experience came forward to say she could do it. Already she has given very good insight on two chapters.

She also spotted and recommended deletion of something I had put in deliberately. It was too crass, she thought, or more specifically, some would find it sacreligious.

I intended it as a hilarious joke made to powerfully illustrate a main theme, and it IS hilarious - I ran it before on FB and people told me so. I write primarily for moderns and skeptic-minded people, and do not always take into account deeply religious people, on the basis that there aren't many in my neck of the woods. But there are elsewhere, and if I offend some unncecessarily, it - well - why go there?

I have made no effort to remove my personality from the book, and my personality is a little 'out there' - I know it. So here and there one must tone it down a little. It is enough on display elsewhere.

There are plenty of people on the internet who make very valid points, only to find them rejected because readers resent how ill-mannered the person is. I want to stay far away from that pitfall.


Beasts, Kings, and Armies Up to No Good

Does anyone think that when Revelation 19:19 takes place -

"And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the one seated on the horse and against his army."

people online will say it may just be that God is using or allowing people of 'the world' to punish or straighten out his people of this day.

It is a notion I hear from time to time from malcontents.

Does anyone really think the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies will say as they gallop: "We hate God! There will be none of HIM around here"?

I think they will not. They will say:

"We LOVE God. And even where we don't, we love people's right to worship if that is what they want. It's just that these JWs are doing it wrong and must be stopped."

If JWs are not the godly people who are "everywhere spoken against" (Acts 28) and who suffer people "lyingly saying every sort of wicked thing against them," (Matthew 5) and of you Jesus said "if they have persecuted me they will persecute you," (John 15) who would they say is?

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photo: Caton Woodville

 

I Appreciate All My Proofreaders and Editors

Any writer knows that it is almost impossible to proofread your own work. This is because, when it consists of thousands of words, you tend to read, not what is there, but what you think is there, and you do not recall yourself making any mistakes – if you had, you would have corrected them long ago. So you must enlist volunteer proofreaders unless you are wealthy or are going the big business route.

I used five. Three were known to me personally and two through social media.Yes, my motto for social media is that everyone online is a liar, but that is only a default opening assumption. Over time you can sort many of them out. How have my five deported themselves?

Persons that you would entrust with such a project – inviting commentary as well as mere proofreading – you are going to find are not just sitting on their hands, but are busy. This has proven to be the case.

One, an elder, excused himself almost from the getgo. Portions made him uncomfortable. I was surprised of it in his case, because he raved about Tom Irregardless and Me, but I was not surprised in the generic. The new book is unswervingly loyal to both Jehovah and his visible organization, but it does go in some places not routinely gone, and there will be some uneasy about that.

Another one, also an elder, got back to me two months later. He also loved Irregardless, more so even than the brother before, but he had been insanely busy chasing around doing many things. He said I should not give up on him. He would yet get to it.

A third, who said she reads voraciously, returned a couple of chapters promptly with both valuable observations and proofreading. She said she was a bit uncomfortable at how a few things were stated. I told her it was the first chapter and I was relating without comment how some others presented matters and that I would be addressing them later on. Afterwards, she sailed away (literally, almost) and said she would be willing to do more, but it would be a while.

A fourth, who has spent time in Russia, returned a chapter or two with good commentary, and I forwarded another. This one sat for a time, because, as with the others, he is extremely busy, but it just came back.

The final one, the most prolific, to whom I sent some of the most sensitive material, returned in good order three chapters, but then was distracted by a major personal event, and after attending to it she left the country on vacation.

I appreciate them all – I truly do. The one in Russia even helped me out with translating some phrases – some others I let AI handle because I liked the ‘Boris and Natashia’ flavor returned. 
The book cannot be too far off, it really cannot. Final tweaking, removing redundancies, injecting new salient points, and shaping up the endnotes, but overall, not too far off.

 
 
 

Candidate Cat is Probably Lying Through His Furry Face

I think it is very important for voters to realize that when Candidate Cat advocates food control for dogs, he is being disingenuous at best, and lying through his furry face at worst. Food rights for dogs has long established that optimal results in satisfaction and productivity are achieved at two meals per day per dog, but Candidate Cat uses the data of dogs who binge-eat to skew the overall data. It is important to note that such data must be placed into the category of statistical outlier with no practical application. If fact, recent research points to the likelihood that two meals a day are actually insufficient, and that three or even more meals per day per dog would result in happier returns.

Candidate Cat, on the campaign trail, tends to speak figuratively, in ways that his advisors would no doubt like to reign him in on. He floats an off the cuff remark that one meal per day per dog is the policy he would like to pursue and his advisors quickly reassure the public that he is still committed to a two meal per day per dog policy. In reality, this tactic serves to distract the voter from his true agenda, which is patterned after his true desire – I am assured by insiders who do not wish to be identified - that there be no meals for dogs at all – per day, per dog, or per anything. He purrs a good game, but the public is catching on to him and I predict he will not succeed.

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Pay Them All a Denarius

If we accept the usual take that Matthew 20:1-15, about paying all workers a denarius, is about time spent in the Christian congregation and those arriving to it late have the same reward as those early, with its object lesson: 'don't gripe about it,' then how serious are we to take the questions within the parable? Do they mean anything or do they just flesh out the story?
 
I'll opt for the former.
 
The master's question smacks of a reproof: "Why have you been standing here all day unemployed?" Yet he accepts the laggards' answer: "Because nobody has hired us" and sends them also into the vineyard.
 
Why shouldn't that be applied to the preaching work? At first glance, the master is taken aback that there yet are, at such a late date, so many just hanging around unemployed. But their answer is unassailable - nobody 'hired' them.
 
It's not an exhortation to be active in the ministry and not to write off people as unresponsive? The master apparently agrees that it is just a matter of their not yet being reached.
 
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I think the exchange of the master with the 11th hour ones serve as an exhortation to preach, and even to step it up where possible. 'Get out there so those ones know they are hired. They won't know it otherwise.'
 

There is another application of Matthew 20:1-15 - 'pay them each a denarious' - that has nothing to do with time spent in the Christain way, which I like as much, or even better.

It is: In any circumstance of life, you cut the best deal that you can and then you look ahead to the next deal You DO NOT look around, envious, at someone who may have gotten a better deal. Think of how much heartburn THAT would solve if we managed to internalize it.

Neither do you gripe, like the initial vineyard workers, that the 'master' was unfair. Life will be fair in the new system. It is not typically so today.

Maybe it is there in print somewhere. I haven't come across it. No matter. It is enough to stay within 'the pattern of healthful words' It is not necessary to but repeat the healthful words oneself.

 
photo: Master Alsace Magic ElsaB Photography