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Moses Strikes the Rock and Draws Water in a Rebellious Age

The Serena Williams Child Doesn't Do Birthdays. Parts 2.5 and 3

Normally the progression is from Part 2 directly into Part 3. It should be here as well, except that Serena Williams reached a landmine of her career in the interim and it cannot be passed over. At the U.S Open she made headlines for converting a physical loss into a moral win. But it depends on who you talk to. If you didn’t like her before, you will dislike her more. If you liked her before you will like her more. I’ll take the latter.

Part 2.5:

The U.S. Open ref with the poofy hair penalized her three times, only the second of which was a slam-dunk for real. When you’re hot, you’re hot, and she blew up at him. Not at first when she said: “We don’t have any code and I know you don’t know that and I understand why you may have thought that was coaching but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.” (The coach said later that he was coaching, but that it happens all the time, and he does it less than most, a point on which sportswriters agreed.)

But she sure did blast him after missing a shot and mashing her racket (which also is common): “You owe me an apology,” she shouted. “I have never cheated in my life, I have a daughter and I stand what’s right for her.” See what motivates her these days? See what she had been stewing about? Her daughter and the example set for her. The same daughter that does not do birthdays.

She called the ref a ‘thief’ for taking away the point that presaged her meltdown and that also counted against her. Men say “F**k you!” to the umpire all the time without consequence, so most agreed that she did catch it on account of being a woman, as she heatedly charged.

Her opponent Osaka won the match, but everyone booed. As soon as Serena noticed her upset and tears, she ran and embraced her and told the crowd not to boo, even through her own tears: “I don’t want to be rude. I don't want to interrupt and I don't want to do questions. I just want to tell you guys she played well and this is her first grand slam,” at which point everyone cheered.

It is so like the Bible admonition to “keep an eye, not on your own interests, but on those of the other person’s” that one wonders if she did not absorb it from her Witness upbringing. Or maybe it is just her and has nothing to do with the Bible. Either way, it means she will make a fine Jehovah’s Witness should she get everything together. She has high reputation. “…people who hate on Serena Williams' "character" obviously don't follower her off the court. She's a competitor between the lines, but a role model off the court as a person and a celebrity,” tweeted sports commentator Jeff Eisenband.

One can even picture Serena retiring at this point. Not that I would will it, necessarily, but it could happen. She is now a mom with suddenly another life to care for, a common turning point in a woman’s life. There are things about Jehovah’s Witnesses and pro sports that are not entirely compatible, such as providing opportunities to blow one’s top. The two courses are not absolutely incompatible, but they pose a challenge.

Part 3:

Part 2 ended with the suggestion that Serena might succeed in showing up the anti-JW Reddit group for what they are. It is a chicken’s way out—say something like that and then close the post, thank you very much, take your beefs to the curb. It is better to take a square look at just what they are. ‘What are they,’ anyway, that Reddit group? They are a motley assortment of people of varying talents, with the common denominator of distaste for discipline and a determination to kick over the traces. It’s regarding the Witness organization here, but the trend is seen everywhere. Despite abundant evidence that unbridled self-determination does not work out particularly well for people, they nonetheless want to go that route. It is the order of the day. People do not want to be ‘told what to do’ by anyone and they are very touchy on what constitutes being ‘told what to do.’ Thwart their definition and you are toast.

If they are to be called ‘apostates,’ they mirror apostates of the first century. Of them, Peter says they “revel in their deceits while carousing with you,” have “eyes full of adultery,” “are insatiable for sin.” How does that become a problem unless there is someone who would tell them they can’t? The governing arrangement back then cannot have been too different from what it is today, given that it oversaw a much smaller field. Plainly, there was discipline then, and the ‘apostasy’ came from those who didn’t like it.

The Reddit grousers carry a range of beefs against the Witness organization, many quite tiny and pumped up, but some more substantial. Of the latter, there are those aggrieved at suffering child sexual abuse, rarely from someone in authority, but occasionally so. They now want a day of reckoning if it turns out that the molester was not turned over to police, regardless of how they were handled through congregational investigation. It is not the same as the Church, where abuse appears common among clergy. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, even after adjusting for size differences, if you want a similar ‘catch,’ you must broaden your nets to include, not just ‘clergy,’ but everybody.

An aggrieved victim of child sexual abuse is proving the most powerful force in the universe these days. Who would ever have thought that the greater world would attempt to ‘out-righteous’ the Christian congregation on this one? It has happened nowhere else. Moreover, the ‘out-righteousing’ is illusory. Despite 30 years combatting pedophiles, there is precious little to show for it. We constantly hear of crimes committed by ones already tagged as abusers—why, they lived right down the street. While reporting abusers is certainly a good thing, decades of doing so has made little dent in the pandemic. Better to focus on prevention, and here there is reason to feel that the Witness regimen and teachings are effective to a greater degree than those of the overall world.

The ‘crime’ alleged of the Jehovah’s Witness organization is rarely an actual crime. It is generally ‘failing to go beyond the law’ in years past, to report abusers, unless members themselves chose to do it. They could have, but often they did not because the Witness religion is ‘insular,’ the charge goes. Being ‘insular’ is but a tiny misstep away from being ‘separate.’ The latter is a biblical requirement of those who would serve God.

You almost wish there would be a statement someday from the Witness organization:

“Look, here’s what happened. We extended 1 Corinthians 6:7 into non-financial matters. We did it because we were insular, an unintended byproduct of being separate. We believe that saying separate from the world is a biblical necessity, the only position from which to help distressed ones in it. “Really, it is already a defeat for you when you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why do you not rather let yourselves be defrauded,” is the verse we extended. We tried to root out child abuse in our midst at a time few others looked into it, and we did the best we could. Sorry.”

Yes, frame it as an apology, if need be. People love apologies and forgive much for it. Determined opposers will not, of course. They will say it is an admission of guilt and/or incompetence and proves you must be fired, but this is par for the course and happens everywhere. Might such a statement stumble some of the ‘sheep’? Possibly, particularly ones who know nothing of it. But it will be more than offset by new persons who admire the candor and can well understand that real Christianity must be separate from a decaying world. And the stumbled ones are not lost. Another mea culpa may do the trick, such as with a 1975 date that didn’t turn out as hoped:

“Um, sorry. We never outright said it, really, but we came close enough to stoke up the hopes of people who hoped to see it that way. At the drop of a pin, Jesus’ followers thought The End was tomorrow. In hindsight, maybe we should have reckoned more on how easy it is to get people going. Still, we did not want to ignore the Lord’s command to ‘keep on the watch’ and the trigger that prompted the excitement was not nothing.”

The former announcement will not make people happy on the Reddit forum; they still have 50 more beefs. But it will many others. Not all victims of injustice within the congregation go the outside legal system and sue their brothers. Most will say: ‘Congregation justice may not be perfect, but it sure is head and shoulders over the justice of the outside world.’ It is a lawyer’s playground out there, with massive transfers of funds in all directions for every conceivable wrong with the barristers netting a third Some congregation members, even wronged ones, will prefer to put their trust in 1 Timothy: “The sins of some men are publicly known, leading directly to judgment, but those of other men become evident later.” It’s not perfect. But it beats the greater world’s justice which so frequently falls down of the job.

Serean 3