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The Travesty of 'Irregardless'

Kermit Way from the book Tom Irregardless and Me was a real person, referred to by his real name. At his funeral it was said that, not only was he a gentleman, but also that he was a gentle man. It was true. A more refreshing person would be hard to find.

Kermit is the one who successfully dissuades a brother from using the word 'Irregardless.' This also is true. He told the account to me, and I am the one who unsuccessfully, 30 years later, tried to get someone else to stop saying it.

Alas, unlike in Kermit's day, the word WAS found in the dictionary. True, it was labeled 'irregular,' but that was a point far too subtle for the one I was speaking with. #TomIrregardless


I Mean, Bernie Sanders is so 'Been There, Done That'

As the whole-wide-world international version of Newsweek ran the cover of the persecution of religious minorities in Russia, with Jehovah's Witnesses the foremost target, the American cover was of Bernie Sanders.

I mean, Bernie Sanders is so 'been there done that.' This country is insane over politics.

I thought I had taken the following out of 'No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash' when I revised it to remove much of what was political, but instead I recalled that I had merely modified it, liking it for the family reference:

"It is steering the supertanker for four-to-eight years through rough seas and around treacherous shoals that will not matter in the long run. It polarized families. I saw it in my own extended family. One cousin I hadn’t seen in years began to extol the virtues of Trump. “Well, let me tell you about your Mr. Trump,” another cousin whom I also hadn’t seen in years cranked up. Everyone else cleared the room. The exodus was considerable, for I come from a dairy farm family where the kitchen table might easily be twelve feet in length, and it will figure into this book in later pages. Years after everyone left their agrarian roots, we would still refer to such reunions as ‘going down to the farm.’"

The insanity over politics only intensifies and it peaks in the routine reports that 'Trump falsely stated" or "Trump charged without evidence." Now, there have been (and are) countless liars, villains, scoundrels, and neer-do-wells throughout history, but I have never heard a, for example, "Putin falsely stated," "Kim falsely stated," "Benedict Arnold falsely stated," or even "Hitler falsely stated." No matter what sort of drivel or poppycock anyone serves up, media just repeats it without pre-screening. I get it, already. They hate him.

It is almost like inviting guests into your home and they proceed to hash out their battles right in your living room. It gets so old. When Trump tweets that North Korea has launched its missills, people of good sense will run for the hills. People of the media will run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can't even spell the word right.Newsweek cover WNMF


What Any Story About Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Sexual Abuse Should Always Include

Stories about child sexual abuse are not nothing, and it is easy to see why a journalist would go there. Chapter 12 of 'Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses Write Russia' serves to supply background information, the absence of which leads to a seriously distorted picture.

The real story should never be ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses investigated child sexual abuse in their ranks but did some aspects of it wrong.’ The real story should be: ‘Few others, if anyone at all, even attempted the job.’ All Christian groups should have. In fact, any group professing that their beliefs contribute to better conduct should take measures to see that that is in fact so. The Book of Romans says “You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal? You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?’ The Witness organization was proactive at a time that no one else was to combat a great moral ill. They were not proactive enough, however, to realize that their vigilance made them de facto enforcers for the greater authorities.

Data found in Case Study 54 of the Australian Royal Commission suggests that a child is up to six times safer in the JW community than in the overall Australian world. Thus, the Witnesses vigilance along with their teachings have paid off. It is fine to handle a case of child sexual abuse properly. But it is far finer if the abuse does not happen in the first place. It is similar to calling in the grief counselors in the wake of a school shooting. Of course, it is a good thing to call them in, but how much better to not need them at all. A case of child sexual abuse ‘properly handled’ does not mean that it did not occur, and the child is only somewhat less damaged than if the case was properly handled.

In 2005, evangelical leader Ronald J. Sider wrote a book called ‘The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience,’ in which he observed that ‘church discipline’ was once an accepted aspect of many denominations, but in “in the second half of the twentieth century, it has largely disappeared.” Due to this, he laments, the conduct of the evangelical church member today is indistinguishable from that of the overall world, whereas the entire draw of the Christian religion is that it is to be an oasis from illicit conduct having free rein outside.

Important as it is to handle abuse cases properly, it is not so important as preventing them. JW’s vigilance and relative success in this should always be a part of any story about them. Otherwise, a reporter does his readers a disservice, painting one of the ‘cleanest’ organizations around as one of the foulest.


Ben Franklin Strikes Out in Both Worlds!

Ben Franklin courted the widow Helvetius. However, she spurned him because she wanted to be loyal to her deceased husband, whom Franklin had known previously.

Immdediately afterwards, Franklin falls into a deep sleep and has a dream in which he meets the man in heaven. The following are his words, from 'Letter to Madame Helvetius:'

"He asked me a thousand questions relative to the war, the present state of religion, of liberty, of the government in France. “You do not inquire, then,” said I, “after your dear friend, Madame Helvétius; yet she loves you exceedingly: I was in her company not more than an hour ago.”

“Ah,” said he, “you make me recur to my past happiness, which ought to be forgotten in order to be happy here. For many years I could think of nothing but her, though at length I am consoled. I have taken another wife, the most like her that I could find; she is not indeed altogether so handsome, but she has a great fund of wit and good sense; and her whole study is to please me. She is at this moment gone to fetch the best nectar and ambrosia to regale me; stay here awhile and you will see her.”

“I perceive,” said I, “that your former friend is more faithful to you than you are to her; she has had several good offers, but refused them all. I will confess to you that I loved her extremely; but she was cruel to me, and rejected me peremptorily for your sake.”

“I pity you sincerely,” said he, “for she is an excellent woman, handsome and amiable....As he finished these words the new Madame Helvétius entered with the nectar, and I recognized her immediately as my former American friend Mrs. Franklin! I reclaimed her, but she answered me coldly:—“I was a good wife to you for forty-nine years and four months,—nearly half a century; let that content you. I have formed a new connection here, which will last to eternity.”


Just How Does One Evade a Lynch Mob?

Why did Jesus turn on them anyway in that Bible account at Luke 4? They (his hometown's people) had been very nice to him: "And they all began to give favorable witness about him and to be amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth." (vs 22) And then he turns around and insults them! - comparing them to lowlife Israelites that the prophets ignored so they could lavish attention on the widow of Zarephath and General Naaman,

It seems to be because they were patronizing him. He was the hometown boy what done good...he'd become a sensation...they'd heard great reports abroad, and they wanted a piece of him. In fact, they were put out that he had done his miracles elsewhere, and not started at home where they would drag out everyone with phyical complaint and he could do his vaudeville trick on them and make them well....just like he did in those others towns, only more so.

And here they are carrying on (same vs: 22) that "is this not the carpenter's son?" It can't have been easy for them to hear him stand up to give his talk at the synagogue, like he'd done many times before, quote Isaiah 61:1,2:

"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me,
Because Jehovah anointed me to declare good news to the meek.
He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And the wide opening of the eyes to the prisoners,To proclaim the year of Jehovah’s goodwill*
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,"

and say: 'Right here. Right now. It's me,' even though he had the record and works to back it up; he was a nobody, a 'carpenter's son.' Alright, so he had learned some cool tricks abroad somehow...use them here! with your childhood townspeople!...but to go 'Messiah' on us is just too much.

As one brother pointed out last night at the meeting, they did get their miracle: When they sought to hurl the ungrateful upstart off a cliff, he got away by "passing through the midst of them." Just how does one pass through the midst of a mob seeking one's execution? I'll bet it's like that scene from Ben Hur (the Charlton Heston version) where the Roman soldier challenges Jesus (a fictional account) and then falls back at something he sensed in his manner or countenance. INTRO-BEN-HUR


Background Material for Media

I have written a free 160K word ebook on the problems of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. It covers worldwide news reports, trials, ban of the Bible, and confiscation of property. Also, separate chapters are devoted to the most vehement accusations against Witnesses (most of which are made everywhere) and philosophical answers they might make to such accusations.

The book contains about 500 endnotes. It is faithful to the Jehovah’s Witness point of view (I am an active Witness) and that of their parent organization. Arguments made in support of faith and freedom of worship will be of interest to all minority religious groups, all of whom experience harassment today. There is also a ‘safe’ version of the book, with all quotations from extremist sources removed. To the extent possible for a Westerner, it is written from a Russian point of view. In ebook form on Smashwords, it is free. 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/815620

'extremist' quotes removed:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/826384


He Walked Through Their Midst

Evereyone wants bragging rights from a favorite son - a local person who goes on to make something of himself. It didn't work with Jesus, though, who went on to tell his sponsors that they were the worst of all Israelites. (Luke 4:23-27)

They were also a bit touchy about it:

"Now all those hearing these things in the synagogue became filled with anger, and they rose up and rushed him outside the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain on which their city had been built, in order to throw him down headlong. But he went right through their midst and continued on his way." (28-30)

How did he do that?

Beach-cliff-coast-614495

 

With Regard to Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Sexual Abuse

According to the group InvisibleChildren.org, 1 out of 5 children in the United States will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. It follows that you should be able to look anywhere and find a bumper crop of abuse cases. Most likely, child sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness community is significantly less prevalent than in the greater world. The reason abuse is linked with Jehovah’s Witnesses is that the latter make a point of investigating wrongdoing in their ranks for the purpose of applying discipline and safeguarding congregation members from such ones. There are cumulatively a lot of child sexual abuse cases, but there are many more anywhere else. However, they are never linked with religion (how often do you hear religious affiliation when an abuser is nabbed by the authorities?) because no one else is proactive enough to look into such things in their own ranks.

Witnesses worldwide attend annual Regional Conventions, for (usually) three days of instruction based upon Bible teachings. During 2017 a section dealing with child sexual abuse was a part of the program. Especially emphasized was the fact that a perpetrator is likely to be someone a child knows and trusts. If a relative, or friend, or anyone else, seems overly attentive to your child, it is a reason to be watchful, said the program speaker.  If there are tickling sessions, if there are sleepovers, if there are trips alone to the public restroom, if—there were several other scenarios. They are all potential red flags: maybe harmless, but maybe not, and the parent must be aware.

Nobody, but nobody, assembles their entire membership as Jehovah’s Witnesses did and reviews detailed scenarios under which abuse might happen so that parents, the first line of defense, can educate their children and themselves. Thus the Witness organization is quite proactive at combatting what has turned out to be a worldwide pandemic.

It is not accurate to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden to contact outside authorities in the event of child sexual abuse; plain statements appear on both their printed and digital literature that they are free to do so. I would not challenge, however, that many, especially in the past, have been loath to do so, as it is the very opposite of what they aspire to be and of what they advertise.

I am a practicing Jehovah’s Witness in the United States and have written a 160K word ebook, available without cost, addressing the topic in a chapter of 9000-some words. I suggest it as background reading for increased context and accuracy. The overall theme of the book is that of the religious organization being banned in Russia as extremist.

The ebook is entitled Dear Mr. Putin – Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, and can be downloaded for free in PDF and EPUB version at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/815620

Chapter 12 is entitled Pedophiles.

 


Just Who is a Cult?

An 'anti-cult expert' I keep my eye on invites his followers to watch him on a TV interview, where he makes the point that Trump was elected due to cult influences.
 
If you think half the country fell victim to cult influence, does it not mean that you have drunk too much of the KoolAid yourself? Time was when the word meant something. If you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader and withdrew from normal life, you just might be part of a cult. These days simply thinking outside of the box suffices, and the definition expands to include ‘people we don’t like.’

Can Witnesses be a cult (the latest slam)? How can it be? You cannot join them without a period of study and experimentation, seldom lasting under a year. All the while you are 95% in familiar routine and surroundings. College is more cult-like by this definition, where a student is separated almost 24/7 from family and prior stabilizing influences. It is only because Witnesses come to think outside the mainstream that they are called a cult by those who permit no deviation.

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There is a Second Version of 'Dear Mr. Putin'

The book quotes a few times, not often, from Watchtower publications. Technically that makes it extremist and it can be like the broken tail light the cop stops you for as a pretext to making more serious trouble.

Hence there is an identical 2nd version for anyone who wants to avoid the problem with all such quotes replaced with 'redacted' or 'redacted for reader safety' or the like. Both are found at

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=tom+harley

Enjoy.

The stopgap measure will only apply to Russia, because anywhere else you can read a Watchtower quotation without being thought extremist. And since relatively few Russians speak English anyway, the release of the 2nd Dear Mr. Putin is mostly symbolic. The book covers are identical, save only for the message in the orange ball.

Not only does the new version not violate any extremist law (unless and until the book itself is declared extremist) but it serves to highlight the silliness of it all, for context nearly always indicates that the eliminated quotes are perfectly innocuous. However, every effort is made to be deeply respectful of the government. In no way could this be described as a protest book. It also strives to relate things from a Russian perspective.

Dear Mr Putin Russian edition Dear Mr Putin (1) (1)