'Hey Guys, Remember That Report We Made That Gave You All Wet Dreams? We Made it Up. Sorry.'

What! Do you think I’m kidding? Yes, of course I’m going to link to it. It’s unbelievable.

Covert says: “Hey guys, please read the correction below. Really sorry this slipped through, and we’ll tighten our process to make sure we don’t repeat it. Again, apologies everyone.

Well….probably no big deal, and after all, he did apologize. Let’s see what this is all about. His friend Lloyd says of his previous ‘report’:

“Thanks so much for the kind comments. We really enjoyed putting this episode together and I’m glad many of you seem to be finding it helpful and informative. Unfortunately, I need to offer an apology and a retraction. A trusted source passed on information to us that got included in the show notes but later proved to be incorrect. Specifically, the schedule of talks from which I was reading (including themes having to do with reduction and ‘centralization’ of branches) was apparently written by an ex-JW and was purely speculative and/or intended for satire [ed…it was a lie] Though we can see the funny side, we also take the accuracy and truthfulness of our work extremely seriously so I have edited out the relevant parts (edits may take a while to process and we are taking a close look at how we can more thoroughly vet our sources in the future. I can only apologize to the thousands of you who have already heard the incorrect information. The last thing we want to do is remotely contribute to affirming the “lying apostate” stereotype by passing on spurious information and we will certainly learn our lesson here. Thank you for your understanding on this.”

Of course! I understood perfectly, and I instantly dismissed it all as ‘just one of those things.’ I did this even though it was the apostate lie ‘heard around the world’ and if you had tapped their phones and been listening in to some of them, you would have thought they were having sex in there, so loud were the orgasms. What was causing the ‘reduction and centralization of branches,’ according to the retracted report, was the fantastic news that the Watchtower was on the ropes financially and just a few more successful lawsuits would topple them for good. This is the stated goal of many of them, to litigate their former religious organization out of existence, and this glorious bit of ‘news’ was more welcome to them than if their team had, not only won the Super Bowl, but had been conceded the championship for the next hundred years.


However, Lloyd is so responsible. He says he does not “remotely want to contribute to the ‘lying apostate’ stereotype,” as though he is genuinely amazed that anybody could ever think such a thing, but just to be sure, he will take action to eliminate this mother of all lies that he swallowed hook, line, and sinker because he liked the sound of, and not repeat it again. I hope you understand. After all, it was from a “trusted source.”


Look, if they ever succeeded in their stated goal of litigating the Watchtower out of existence, they would be proving themselves friends of child sexual abuse. There is good reason to think that Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy considerable success in preventing it within their ranks, though with InvisibleChildren.org reporting that one out of five American children will be suffer molestation before 18, they clearly are not going to ever snuff it out. If they have enjoyed some success, then spread around whatever they have, and others will enjoy some success. It is not rocket science. It is not even ‘God’s spirit.’ If you hammer away at anything long enough, some of it sinks in. Relentlessly they teach family values over there in Witness-land, and they are the only organization on earth to have gathered each and every member via their 2017 summer convention and there consider detailed scenarios in which child abuse might occur, so that parents, the obvious first line of defense, can be vigilant. Moreover, since so much child sexual abuse occurs in settings of youth groups, surely it helps that they have no such segregation They don’t even do Sunday School.

You know, I don’t really question Lloyd’s sincerity in ferreting out an obvious lie, but I guarantee that he led the way with wet dreams when he heard that his former religion was on the ropes. Moreover, it improves matters only to a slight degree on his forum to take the blatant lie out, for the rest of it abounds with distortions of truth. They are often distortions hard-to-spot in a world gone increasingly atheistic. That is why I have declared him (for now) my #1 opponent and have written posts undercutting the hate that he spreads. For example, there is this article about women in abusive relationships. Is this hard on me? Well…you know the expression that a writer needs a muse? He also needs a villain.

Lloyd is dumbfounded at the moniker ‘lying apostate.’ How could anyone think that? He is also offended should anyone connect him with the atrocities against religious people in Russia, my own first of all, they alone are under ban and declared extremists, a label they share only with ISIS. No! He will not be accused. Why, he has spoken out against it. But of his anti-cultist-in-spirit, one Alexander Dvorkin, who aggressively pushes there just what he pushes here and is affiliated with anti-cultists in France, a human-rights expert has stated: “He enjoys disseminating inflammatory narratives and hate speech.” It is no different with Lloyd and his buddies. When you spew hate speech, eventually there arise people who act upon it. And what will he say then?

‘Hey guys, just want to let you know that we released the hounds of hell and they did more damage than we ever intended. Sorry.’

 


High Praise for Chuckles

From a certain person who hates Jehovah's Witness, a former Witness himself:

“So you've found a reporter that serves the Org well. Good for you. BUT it will never make the facts different. So where did your Ms Chuck get her information from, a JW I presume." 

I replied, “John, she did no more than reports facts and only facts. She is not 'one of ours.' I don't even think she likes us. But she sets an excellent example of responsible journalism with this article. If all in the news media were like her, the profession would not find itself on the very bottom of the 'public trust list,' right down there with slimy politicians and glib used-car salesmen.”

This is key to a good reporter. If she does not like us, and further research indicates she may well not, she shows no sign of it in her article. Many reporters seethe with their own personal feelings, betraying their clear agenda.

I may not like everything that comes from her pen. I certainly didn't like the one that I praised her for. it was bad news for my side. But it was honest, reporting, that's all I said about it. If everything else she writes is like that, perhaps she will one day be the savior of the media.

In fact, how this character John could write, or even think, that Ms. Chuck 'serves the Org well,' I'll never know. She says they have to fork over huge dough. How's that for 'serving' them? The people that hate Jehovah's Witnesses REALLY hate them and they come all unglued whenever a reporter falls short of assassination attempt.

Okay, I was not going to show the remark itself, but now I will. Chuckles (who I don't think is my friend, not at all) deserves it. As for John, he absolutely froths over the Witness' organizational arrangement. He has a screw loose, imo, relentlessly charging that Witnesses are the extremists of extremists.  Yet there are many like him. On a separate thread (same forum) I said:

"Recently I read a report of women who had been kidnapped by ISIS. They had been exhibited in cages, driven about in the back of trucks, raped any number of times at will by multiple men , burned with cigarette butts when they resisted. THESE are the people John’s lying new friends try to equate Witnesses with? C’mon! Even Admin will cease to think this an unseemly squabble between co-religionists and recognize it for what it is: Decent people that may not be his cup of tea, though decent nonetheless, under attack from the despicable.

"John does have one genuine circumstance that, in some measure, excuses his unhinged hatred. He has written, here or on another thread, of a truly horrific childhood involving sexual abuse. It had nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, a faith he discovered much later. But it appears to have seared him permanently. To that extent, I can sympathize with him."

He screamed at me, for this one, too, but it is nothing he had not revealed himself openly. To that extent, I admire him, for spilling such history is not a piece of cake. I may even be doing him a favor, republicizing his announcement that he came right out with about being a victim of child sexual abuse. It is common for abuse victims to feel, deep down inside, even if they actually know it was not so, that it is their fault. By letting him work out his rage online, which is tiresome and shows no signs of abating, perhaps he can better make peace with his tragic past.

The reference to Mr. Admin is because he atypically chimed in to rebuke us all for carrying on the way we were. Think of when your dad used to whirl around in the car and yell, "If you kids don't stop crying back there I'm going to stop this car and give you something to cry about!" With that, I whirled upon him. If we want to ruin his website, what's that to him? Afterwards, though, I did apologize, for after all, he is our host, even if he wonders at the fate that made him so, and he does put up with a lot of fruitcakes. They drive traffic to his site, but even so...

Now that we have dragged Mr. Admin into the picture, who may have a penchant for privacy, for we seldom hear from him, let us really drag him in. In response to someone wanting early morning comment from him, I chimed in:

It is too early for @admin. He gets up late and then has to putz around for some time before checking the mail. I’ll answer for him. As Monk says, he’ll thank me later.

Somewhat reluctantly, he finds himself hosting a religious JW forum, though he is not that way himself. No JWs on it are typical JWs because if they were typical they would be more acquiescent to their organization’s preference they not take part in such forums. One important reason their organization prefers that they abstain is the undignified mess that results when they do not.

For a variety of reasons, some Witnesses go there anyway, and, to be sure, there are parts of the forum largely innocuous. I avoid these parts and go right to the hot areas. It has helped me hone my writing, and about half of my ebook, Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, can be found in about 500 fragments scattered throughout. Mr. Admin is thereby my friend. I owe him.

As atypical JWs and their adversaries flail away, making points and counterpoints, some ridiculous, he has ‘lost it’ only twice to rebuke participants, once to say: “Jeez, you guys are a piece of work!” What could I tell him. That we’re not?

It is so rare for him to chime in that when he does, it is like hearing a voice from On High. The only appreciable difference is that a voice from On High is unlikely to say, “Jeez, you guys are a piece of work.”

 Mr. Admin did not take his ill and presently chimed in to say that he was the owner of the overall website, but that it was The Librarian who ran the JW part. This prompted me to add:

If I from time to time poke mild fun at Admin, it is nothing compared to the fun I poke at the Librarian, the old hen. It is riotous.

She really is a Jehovah's Witness, I think, though certainly an avant-guard one. She used to have for a banner an interior photo of a magnificent library; I thought it was the Library of Congress, but she told me it was some university library. It was gorgeous.

Nonetheless, by degrees I have been able to portray her before the world as a petty mean school librarian, who really doesn't like children, but she is too arthritic and just plain tired to do much about it when they misbehave. Moreover, she is frequently on the bottle, and while she knows her pupils are tittering behind her back, and even right in front of her, she spends most of her time  counting down the days to her retirement.

The strange thing about all of this is that she is actually a man. No, not a transgendered man; don't even go there. We started this gag long before transgenderism took the world by storm.

The Librarian and I made a deal long ago after she unfairly rebuked me for hawking my first ebook, Tom Irregardless and Me, on her forum. It was inexcusable for her to do this and the only conceivable reason that I can think of to excuse her actions is that I was hawking my first ebook, Tom Irregardless and Me, on her forum. I have been very careful not to ever do this again, which is a shame because it is an excellent ebook, and unlike Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses Write Russia, it is not free. I actually make a buck off it. Maybe no small thing for you, but a big deal for me. Do you have any idea of how my wife goes through money? So crack open your wallet and buy the thing already, will you? As books go, it is not pricey.

The Librarian would scream at me for this, normally. But here I am in her library, her bad boy pupil, but her pupil nonetheless, and she has not shown up for work yet. I think she may have fallen off the wagon once again.  

I will link to that exchange here. It will make them both happy. It is just one remark. Scroll up and down if you like, where you will encounter both geniuses and basket cases.  Let the reader use discernment. 


Oh, For Crying Out Loud

Oh, for crying out loud! Who would quibble over words like this?


Go to the other organization that covers the globe with a united Christian message, that keeps its members no part of a decaying world, that builds a website of 850 languages to facilitate preaching, that hosts conventions for the entire membership annually, that gets persecuted without valid cause.


Go to them and tell me who they are. I'll join you.


Go find a church where they let all the above examples of Christian worship go right to seed while they quibble about words. If it wasn't spirit directed, it would have fallen apart long ago.


Embrace 80 years and die, if anyone thinks that's so wonderful. On your grave marker quote Frank Sinatra: 'I Did it My Way.'

If they ever screwed up in words, even if they do it still, apparently God has forgiven them. No, He doesn't talk to me. I don't really know. But I do know what's right in front of my nose. If He didn't work with them, they'd be just like one of this world's religions, their unity blown to smithereens by the slightest breeze of contemporary controversy.

There are codes of conduct solidly based in scripture. There are a few from scripture which could be argued another way. Go find the organization that has argued it the other way without abandoning the core deeds.

Tom Irregardless and Me   30% Free Preview


I'm Tired of Their Hate

Trying to seduce the guileless ones, he had said: ‘Pray for our brothers in Russia.’ A noble sentiment, for they are going through hard times. (see 'Russian Legal Update - January, jw.org. Note the restraint and respect our organization shows towards government - a good example) At meetings worldwide, Witnesses this week saw interviews with 12 whose court trial has dragged on for years. They heard of their hardships – emotional, physical, financial –  being drained of everything they have simply for following Christ. A child who thinks perhaps both parents will be sent to prison for worshipping God. A grandparent who thinks he will be, once again. 'At 59, it is too much,' he says. A youngster who cannnot hold a job, as his employer cannot accommodate his frequent absences for court. If they can endure as they have they will completely pour themselves out, as early Christians did, as Paul did, as Jesus did.

But now it’s clear he couldn't care less about our brothers in Russia, or their children, for that matter. ‘Kill them all’ as far as he is concerned. It was all a ruse so as to gain the confidence of trusting ones. There wouldn’t be any brothers in Russia were it not for the organization he despises. They would be all captive to the 'house' church, whose daily text every day is ‘take out the competition.’ They would know nothing about the Bible. He would like it that way. I mean, it’s not as if he represents anyone interested in fulfilling the Christian commission to preach and teach.

It may be that the lying scum will delete his tweet now that it has served its purpose. However, there may be some who have followed him from early on – smelling a rat but unclear how bad the stench would be – who have preserved screenshots, someone like me, for example, who can produce it should the time prove right.

Jesus said of his followers: ‘they will hand you over to local courts.’ and ‘you will be put on stands before governors and kings.’ (Matthew 10:17) Why? Because they want to commend you for your fine work? No. It will be so they can hurl accusations at you and you will have to defend yourself, so as to not make Jesus a liar. The more vile the charge the more it will play with those who hate us.

From time to time representatives of God’s organization have been hauled before courts to answer accusations from ‘governors and kings,’ and will no doubt do so in the future. I’ve never seen a hearing, though I have had opportunity. There is such a thing as loyalty. He so desperately wants you to go there - it oozes from his pores. It's his very reason for existence. That alone is reason not to go there. He's not your friend. I will even go so far as to conjecture, in the face of his begging me to watch it, that our guy had a awkward moment. It is possible in the face of a hostile interrogator. Our guy is not Trump or Hillary, who routinely face assassins. He spends most of his time in a supportive atmosphere. Or maybe it's just another ruse - he's not exactly proven himself a Boy Scout. Maybe our guy knocked it out of the park but the bastard will say anything to get me to see his filth.

‘Happy are you when people…lyingly say every sort of wicked thing about you for my sake,’ Jesus said. (Matthew 5:11) Yes. There is indeed ‘every sort of wicked thing’ being said these days. But I’m not sure how happy the slandered brother is about it.

If the Trump/Hillary endless bickering teaches us anything, it is that 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is this world’s year text every year. People are not open to any agreement. They are fierce. They are slanderers. Even ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ are subjective. Everyone has their own. It is as in Isaiah 5:20. People say what is bad is good and what is good is bad. It is not just true in spiritual matters. It is true in every aspect of life today.

‘I am stronger than you. I thank Heaven for it,’ said Miss Pross to the murderous foreign woman who had pulled a knife on her. ‘It’s game on!’ says Sherlock. I am a livid loose cannon pointing at you. I’m tired of their hate. Imagine – hijacking the photo of a decent man so as to malign him and what he represents.  ‘Have you no shame?’ said the American U.N. ambassador. Expose them at every opportunity. Litigate them whenever possible. ‘Forgive your enemies,’ my rear end. I’ll forgive them when they’re behind bars for identity theft and slander.

If I should appear to go bad, just as our Bethel brother appeared to go bad, know that my identity has been stolen, just as his was stolen, and it may take a while to straighten it out.  It’s a villainous place, that internet.

It's best not to engage with a liar. The way to starve a fire is to withhold fuel. Block him if you like, but definitely report him. On his page, the Twitter toolbox will have a 'Report' option. The sub-menu will say 'they're being abusive or harmful.' The next sub-menu will say 'they're impersonating you or someone else.'

‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ 30% free preview


Skewer the Liars Who Slander the Christ

Your opening gambit must always be: everyone online is a liar. How can you possibly know who's who? Anyone can pretend to be anyone. Anyone can use anyone else's photo. He'll be found out eventually but in the meantime you must be 'social network smart'

If a GB member was online, he would not include GB in his username , for the phrase does not belong to him alone. He would also not do it without printed or web material stating beforehand he was using a new channel of communication. He would not change his username like a snake - probably to keep one step ahead of whoever. A cover frame on a video is no guarantee as to what's inside. They do indeed have to fend off many accusations.  'Fake News' is a huge topic in the news today and it is seemingly everywhere. One would think deliberately impersonating and defaming another would be punishable by law.

The Internet is not the congregation. You can't have your own personal congregation there. Where is the channel for spiritual food? Where are the elders? Where are the trusted people you know? So anyone you do not know personally you must assume are liars. To be safest, you friend only those you know.  For better or for worse, I will friend brothers I don't know. As long as they behave, they remain friends, for an internet friend and a real friend is not the same. But I don't quickly trust them and what trust I do extend can be withdrawn in a second, for I can't possibly know them as I would somebody in my congregation.

What do the verses say?

'We ask you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either...by a letter appearing to be from us' 2 Thes 2:2. Somewhere there is an article about not jumping to conclusions regarding ones who have earned trust. Somebody find it.

'The thief does not come unless it is to steal or to slay or to destroy' John 10:10

The best videos for protecting children are found at JW.org, for children, for example, herefor teens here. C'mon! Can you really think people who make videos like this are soft on child abuse?

This is a fine (at present and so far as I know - to the extent it is correct, it may have been updated) online resource

It's probably well not to speak with a liar. Do not think others have not done so. With someone not a liar you can discuss and persuade, but not with a liar. Witness discussions online about anything - politics, for example. People do not patiently hear the other side out and weigh the issues. No. They are like football fans. They cheer when the home team scores a point. They wince when it incurs a penalty or suffers injury. But at no point do they suppose the other side is anything more than evil incarnate.

Tom Irregardless and Me. 30% free download. 


Who's Messing with Charlie Brown's Christmas!?

Two dogs are pecking away on their keyboards, very intense. One says to the other, with much enthusiasm, “On the internet, no one knows you're a dog!” Yeah! That's the trouble with the internet. You never quite know where anything is coming from.  A laureate or a liar? A psalmist or a sorehead? A philanthropist or a philanderer? It's hard to tell. Maybe that's why Awake! is....shall we say...reserved in it's endorsement of the online world, even citing that old New Yorker cartoon about the dogs.

 
However, I spotted a dog on the internet when nobody else did, so I'm unusually full of myself these days....even though 'pride comes before a fall.' I spotted the dog, and now I'm going to put a muzzle on it, or at least try to.


Someone sent me a Peanuts strip from 1965,  a strip that's all over the internet lately. They thought I would agree with the caption....and in fact, I do. But I also smelled a rat. See if you can, too.

 Peanuts christmas strip    altered
Okay. Got it? A little anti-Christmas, wouldn't you say? Now, you may (or may not) agree with the wording here, but it sure doesn't ring true to what Charles Shultz was about, does it? Would he really have authored such a strip? I don't think so. Even though Linus is indeed a know-it-all windbag, even though he does quote scripture from time to time, even though he is well-versed on theological things. But it doesn't fit.  So I poked around some. It took a while, but I found the source of the smell. The strip has been doctored! In the  enlarged frame, those first two speech bubbles are genuine, but the last one has been modified. Here's the original:

 

Peanuts christmas    original

Now, I don't think Charles Shultz would like this. Bitten by one of the dogs on the internet! You ought to be able to write your own comic strip without some smug little snot of a propogandist replacing your words with his. You understand, I don't have a problem with the modified words in themselves. What they say is not untrue. It's attributing them to Shultz that burns me up, because he would never have penned such a thing. Write your own strip! Rejection of Christmas on account of it's non-Christian origin may ring true with us, but religious folk in general have no problem with it. Part of our 'rich diversity,' and all.

If you use someone's work as underpinning to your own, you keep the two separate. It's not only ethical to do that, it's also practical. Your whole case crumbles when someone spots that you've built upon a fraud. Don't do it. Go out of your way to make clear you don't do it. Just like when the Watchtower used to quote  evolutionists saying things that undermined their own dogma...I mean, they were perfectly accurate quotes...but then grousers would accuse us of misrepresenting those luminaries, so the Watchtower took to pointing out, whenever using so-and-so's words, that these folks nonetheless believed in their own theories...they weren't jumping ship to endorse creation. I don't think it was necessary, but I appreciate why they did it: to avoid even the appearance of misrepresentation. (It didn't satisfy the grousers, however)


Or when the translators of the New World Translation refused to translate Ps 22:16 as “they have pierced my hands and feet” even though they agreed such a rendering would perfectly fit Christ Jesus' role. They refused to do it because the underlying manuscript evidence was dubious. Few other translations had such scruples. Whatever you do, do it honestly. Don't fudge facts to fit your agenda.

Although, having said that.... I can think of one exception. Nothing's absolute. For the life of me I cannot condemn Nick Regalia for altering the work of another when he first became a JW. See, Nick was trying to clean up his life at the time, so he drew bathing suits on all the posters of naked women at his workplace! Lemme tell you, he was none too popular for a while. Of course, this was many years ago. Today, he'd be doing those artists a favor, saving their jobs, probably, since sexual harassment laws will get you into a lot of hot water now and displays of porn can easily trigger them.

But Charles Shultz didn't do porn. He did Peanuts. And Peanuts was (and is) one of my favorite strips. So if someone sends you that phony strip, send it right back with the notation that it's a fraud. You can't undo matters completely. Once toothpaste is out of the tube, you just can't put it back it. It remembers how tight it was in there, and it just won't go. But we can at least be on the right side of the fray.

Now.....who might have done such a thing....altering Shultz's work to paste in his own anti-Christmas tirade? Oh please please please.....let it not be one of our people! We might forward the strip to our pals, thinking it's genuine. How would a person know? But...no....don't let it be that one of ours originated it. I don't think anyone would, we don't usually stoop to such tricks, but.....um...well....I mean...........look, there's nothing about Bible teachings or JW beliefs that make a person fanatical or unbalanced. There isn't. Bible teachings, when applied, mold a person for good. However, if you already have an unbalanced fanatical bent to your personality, then you've found a home among us. Overbearing excess will be chalked up to commendable zeal, and even though your fellow brothers may roll their eyes a bit, they'll put up with it, knowing that, most likely, you'll balance out eventually. So I was a little worried that some brother might have done this, probably some firebrand kid.

Ahhhh.....good! It's not us. It's some 'Jews for Jesus' type character, as near as I can tell. Here's the site. Note how he admits, in fact even boasts about, changing that last panel. Now, the next step is, if it lands in your inbox, send it back.

The reason I smelled a rat is because I knew that Charles Shultz was not against Christmas. And 1965....the date of that strip? That's the year that the first of many Charlie Brown Christmas specials was released on television. I remember the program. That's why it's good to have some years on you. No young person could be expected to spot this fraud. But an old buzzard like me, who's been around awhile, can nail it, and I did!

In fact, I begin to suspect that even the strip I took as original, from which that bastardized phony strip was derived......even that strip is a fraud. I snared one dog on the internet, only to find a whole pack of them is on the loose! I'm not sure, but I suspect it. Alas, I have to leave it to someone else to figure that one out, preferably someone with one of those monstrous anthologies of Charlie Brown comic strips and the time required to comb through every page. It's not easy catching dogs, and for now I'm content with one.


I suspect the "original" is also phony because, in that 1965 Christmas special, windbag Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas to poor Charlie Brown, and he does it merely by quoting scripture! Luke 2:8-14. Those are verses about Jesus' birth. He doesn't say anything at all about 1) Jesus wasn't born on that day, 2) Jesus never said anything about celebrating his birth, anyway, or 3) the customs associated with with the celebration of Christmas all stem from non-Christian roots. Peanuts creator Charles Shultz gravitated to the sentimental traditional meaning of Christmas, period. The other stuff didn't bother him. And both the strips I've reproduced are set as in a show production, with stage curtain as backdrop.....as if satirizing a television production!

Yeah!! I'm hot on the scent now! But I'm also worn out. That first dog took a lot out of me. The bitch bit me bad as I tried to muzzle it!! So I'm just going to lay out what I have here as a work in progress, for now, and pursue the rest in an upcoming post.

********************************

Read ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’         and   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 


Sean Carroll and the Den Yers

He's a smart fellow, Sean Carroll is, author of The Making of the Fittest. Nobody here is saying otherwise. I've said kind things about his  book, ImagesCAJLGK1X for the most part, and may in time say more. But.....hang it all.....how come he can't spell deniers? He takes aim in the latter portion of his book at those who deny evolution, and again and again he misspells the word. It's not d-e-n-y-e-r-s! It's d-e-n-i-e-r-s! Any schoolboy knows this. Why doesn't he?

Check it in your shelf dictionary. Check an on-line dictionary. Check a Scrabble dictionary; if anyone can stretch a word for acceptable spelling variations, it will be a Scrabble player. Google the odd spelling, if you like. It doesn't matter where you check. One who denies something is a denier, not a denyer! Let's be honest. You can't read that word without thinking...... “den'-yer? 'What the heck is that?”

Well, maybe denyer is the British spelling of the term (notwithstanding that Carroll hails from Wisconsin).....I admit I'm grasping at straws. We all know Brits can't spell properly, just as they can't pronounce properly. Or maybe, in that rarefied scientific world Sean inhabits, they have dispensed with plebian spellings, in favor of lofty revisions more appropriate to their scientific status. Or maybe it's a deliberate misspelling....his attempt at tweaking the idiots...those, in his view, who do deny evolution. But that seems a bit mean-spirited, and I don't think he's that kind of guy. Plus, it seems an inside joke that even most insiders would miss. Or.....you don't suppose that Carroll's quirky spelling is just an application of his own theory? Has the 'i' mutated into a 'y'?

None of these hypotheses make much sense. They're all lame. And don't misunderstand.  It's just spelling. It's not that big of a deal. It really isn't. But....blast it all....IT IS! It's like the pebble in my shoe that doesn't seem big at first, but drives me crazy (is that the purpose?) the more I walk on it. Sean Carroll's been to college. And grad school. And doctorate school. How come he doesn't know to spell? And what about his editors? What good are they if they can't catch something so blatant? The Ministry School guidebook counsel keeps nagging at me: if you are incorrect in some detail, no matter how obscure or irrelevant, invariably someone will pick up on it and say “huh......he doesn't know that?” And from there it's just a tiny hop to “Maybe he doesn't know anything else, either.”

When I go to his web page, I see he introduces himself with the same Michael Ruse snippet with which I introduced him: “Of all the scientists in the world today, there is no one with whom Charles Darwin would rather spend an evening than Sean Carroll.” That means he thinks like me (or I like him). I tell you, I come to like this fellow more and more. And evolution books like his written post genome mapping advance their case in a powerful way. Why mess it up with a spelling blunder that any orangutan would get right? This makes no sense at all.

Ah well, Sheepandgoats, get over it. Figure it's a mystery. Like the Trinity. Just accept it.

Okay, I will. Enough said.

 

But it's hard to just get over it because he repeats the error so many times! Carroll likens his book to a full course meal, served in courses (not unlike how Jehovah's Witnesses are apt to describe their meetings as “spiritual meals,” their assemblies as “spiritual feasts!”). His after-dinner dessert conversation, it turns out, consists of a strategy session on how to counter the denyers, some of whom (gasp!) are to be found within his own ranks: “There are some individuals with scientific credentials who doubt or deny certain elements of evolutionary science that are widely accepted by the scientific community; some may even doubt the entire theory,” he observes. “But getting a doctoral degree and making negative arguments are relatively easy – making new, verifiable discoveries is an altogether different matter. The denyers specialize is rhetoric and the mining of quotes, not in laboratory research.   (pg 218)

I'm not so sure I agree with his premise. Even if making “negative arguments” really is “relatively easy,” that does not mean those arguments are not useful. Must everyone be out turning over rocks and growing stuff in petri dishes? Is there not a place for someone to review the conclusions of the discoverers, much as attorneys review evidence collected by the police? They don't just accept police conclusions. Frankly, whenever folks are running herd-like in any discipline, the arguments of those who oppose are always worth looking at closely. You don't just sneer at them because they are the minority.

I'll bet he's taking aim primarily at Michael Behe, king of all the denyers with scientific background, who was even interviewed by Awake! magazine back in September 2006. Behe certainly has “scientific credentials,” and he “doubt[s] or deny[s] certain elements of evolutionary science that are widely accepted by the scientific community.” Behe doesn't doubt that the mechanics of evolution took place, and are taking place still. He has no problem with mutation and gene duplication and fossilized genes. It's hard to have a problem with these since scientists today can grow goo and slime and algae, life forms which reproduce very quickly, and can track each and every gene. They can spot which ones reproduced faithfully, and which ones did not. They can spot which ones build with successive generations, and which ones do not. They can then compare with the genomes of prior life forms and try to piece together how evolution has progressed through generations.

Michael Behe endorses all of this. ImagesCAWYSASV  2nd He simply maintains it doesn't add up to what Carroll and most others say it adds up to, that there's an edge.....the “Edge of Evolution,” per the title of his 2007 book..... beyond which pure Darwinian randomness cannot carry developing life. Follow along on his own blog as he discusses research of the day. It's interesting stuff.

And...man...is he ever castigated for not holding the party line! His book, critics rail, is a blatant attempt to bypass scientific peer review! He takes his case directly to the unwashed masses, unlearned dolts who are in no way qualified to render an opinion! No such objection is made to Carroll's own books, since his represents the majority view. Now, you know I'm going to be sympathetic to Behe's position, since it is much like Jesus' position. Jesus didn't first present his case to religious leaders of his day to secure their prior approval, since he knew their only interest would be to shoot it down. He went over their heads, directly to the common people. And did he ever catch heat from those leaders! Listen to them grouse (and note their contempt for the regular folk):

"Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees [us] has put faith in him [Jesus], has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people."

Look what happens when one of their number....a first-century Behe counterpart?.....breaks ranks:

Nicodemus, …..who was one of them, said to them: “Our law does not judge a man unless first it has heard from him and come to know what he is doing, does it?” In answer they said to him: “You are not also out of Galilee, are you? [a big-city Jerusalem slur against the stupid bumpkins from the rural hills of Galilee]  John 7:48-52

But there's another point Carroll makes, a point that dovetails very well for Jehovah's Witnesses, though not at all for the fundamentalists (which we are not). I'll lead off with it in a future post.

….....................................

By the way, Sean B Carroll is not to be confused with Sean M Carroll, a scientist atheist to the core, even though he doesn't fly the Atheist Scarlet A on his blog, perhaps out of respect for Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don't know if Sean B is atheist or not. He doesn't say. Although both are accomplished science writers in overlapping fields, a more dissimilar looking pair you've never seen.

 

[edit: 1/20/2012,  interview between National Republic's John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Sean Carroll & his work comes in for mention, around the 11-12, 22-24 minute marks. He's a nice guy, Behe says.]

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Tom Irregardless and Me                   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash 


The Marcion Trap

So here I am, battling villains who insist the name Jehovah has no place in the New Testament, assisted by allies who nobly and quite properly come to my defense, when what should land in my comment inbox but a dissertation about Marcion. Who in the world is he? And what does he have to do with anything?

“In all likely-hood, Marcion actually lived in 40 AD not 140 and was the apostle John Mark, writer of both the gospel of Mark and gospel of John, as well as parts of Matthew and Luke,” says Rey, who offers the comment, “which were originally one gospel but were separated into four under the reign of Commodus because Commodus fancied himself to be a god who sits between the four winds. The first figure in church history to proclaim there are four gospel is Ireneaus, who works in the palace of Commodus, and who argues that there must be four gospels because there are four winds. Very suspicious.”

Very suspicious, indeed. But suspicious, from my point of view, because it has absolutely nothing to do with anything we'd discussed thus far (which often is grounds for my rejecting a comment, but I let it go this time).

Now, anyone familiar with the parent organization behind Jehovah's Witnesses knows that their enthusiasm for the internet is not boundless. In fact, it barely exists at all. One of the reservations they have about cyberspace is how easy it is for a person therein to hide their true identity. You'll think you're talking with your bosom chum, only to find out its really some scoundrel.....why...a wolf in sheep's clothing! I get around this reservation by assuming, up front, that everyone's a liar. That way, if it turns out they're not, it's a pleasant surprise.

But there's no reason not to answer this guy Rey. If you're a blogger, you like to receive comments. And this bit about Marcion, whoever he is, is a comment. Actually, I have only three rules regarding comments, and “agreeing with me” is not one of them. I don't mind a bit when people don't agree with me, but

1.) comments have to be reasonably respectful.
2.) they have to be reasonably “on topic”.....you just can't submit a laundry list of all you don't like about Jehovah's Witnesses, and
3.)  they can't link back to a site whose primary or substantial purpose is to tear down JW beliefs.
 
For instance, one sorehead submitted a comment positively bursting with insults and crudeness, and so I read my rules to him, and asked “are you capable of writing such a comment?” His subsequent answer showed he was not.

Sometimes I'll think of minor corollaries to my three rules along the way.....comments that choke the virus checker, for example.....but in the main, those three rules are it.

So Rey keeps carrying on about this Marcion character, and he seems sort of an oddball, both he and his namesake, pushing theology that you might expect on a Dr Who episode. But am I not a blogger? So, blog already, Tom Sheepandgoats, even if you don't know exactly where this guy is coming from. You don't have to know everything.

Moreover, when you're responding to a comment, you don't necessarily address each point made. Especially when you're talking to a lunatic. It's too taxing for the reader. No. Pick a few points, or sometimes just one. If the fellow has ten additional points, let him submit ten additional comments. Just because he thinks in a muddle doesn't mean you have to. That way, readers can readily skip over whatever they find dull. So I go back and forth with this Rey character. All the time wondering....who is this guy anyway? Is he really a  devotee of Marcion, someone I've never heard of? Ah, well....blog away Tom. Just do it. Besides, sometimes good posts emerge from such conversations. You'll know it when you see it.

So we go round and round a bit, and I point out why I think this fellow is a nutjob, when suddenly Rey tips his hand:

“I don't get why a Jehovah's Witness would find Marcionism so offensive. Why wouldn't someone from a cult started in modern America be happy to jump back to a cult that actual has at least a claim to being authentic, I mean **hello** 2nd Century here. Your cult is clearly wrong in that it didn't exist until now. That one is from the early 2nd Century, pre-dating even the New Testament Canon!”

HA! So that's what this is all about! Another cult accusation! Up till now I had never met someone who believed in Marcionism, and now I saw that I still hadn't. It was all about setting me up for a sucker punch! Just like I'd been warned. Rey just doesn't like us. If you don't like someone, they are a sect. If you really don't like them, they are a cult.

Nonetheless, what about his charge? If you “didn't exist until now,” can you really claim to link directly to first century Christianity? Especially when the Catholics will tell you that Peter was the first Pope? (even though Peter was a married man)

You can. There are any number of passages in the Bible that point out 'new and improved teachings' would commence soon after the death of the apostles, and would overrun Jesus actual teachings. The latter would not be fully restored until the final days of this system of things. For example:

1.) Jesus' parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt 13:24-30):

"Another illustration he set before them, saying: “The kingdom of the heavens has become like a man that sowed fine seed in his field. While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat, and left. When the blade sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds appeared also. So the slaves of the householder came up and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow fine seed in your field? How, then, does it come to have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy, a man, did this.’ They said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and collect them?’ He said, ‘No; that by no chance, while collecting the weeds, you uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up, then go to gathering the wheat into my storehouse."

Lest anyone doubt how the verses apply, vs 36 continues:

And his disciples came to him and said: “Explain to us the illustration of the weeds in the field.” In response he said: “The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels."

Didn't Paul also say the weeds would sprout? (Acts 20:29-30): "I  know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves."

Those early Christians spoke to the general populace, like Jesus and the apostles did. But that's hard. Over time, more and more people simply didn't want to hear it. Easier to preach to the choir! Teachers taking the lead in the congregation began to specialize, preaching only to their flock, and drawing a salary....something new....for doing so! Those only marginally “keeping on the watch” quickly adjusted to the new plan: pay a preacher and go hear him out once a week. The public ministry was tough.  Easier to become “the laity” at a "church," and focus six days a week (in time, all seven) on secular activities. Preachers became like politicians....adept at seeing which way the wind blew, so as to incorporate whatever was popular, and draw in more paying parishioners.

Christians should be “no part of the world?” (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; John 17:16) Why not become fully part of the world, and thus broaden your base? Oh....and there's going to be an “end of this system of things.....a “harvest?” Can't have that....it's too much of a disruption! Better to tell people to simply “be good” and go to heaven when they die. By the time of the fourth century, when Christianity became the Roman “state religion,” it was barely recognizable.

You can trace the details if you want....in fact, you should....but even intuitively, you know it's true. After all, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Dark Ages, the Holocaust, eager clergy participation on both sides of World Wars I and II, hardly square with what Christ taught. But it's all part of religious leaders pushing to the fore.....telling people whatever they'll most readily consume so as to expand their influence.

Everyone knows it's happened, but not everyone knows the Bible said it would happen. Nearly all the NT writers predicted it:

Jude: "Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones. My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ." (vs 3-4)

Peter:   "However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively." (2 Peter 2:1-2)

John:  “Look out for yourselves, that you do not lose the things we have worked to produce, but that you may obtain a full reward. Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him."  (2 John 8-10)                   

and "I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us [the apostle John!] with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words."   (3 John -10)

Paul: “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories." (2 Tim 4:2-3)

And another parable of Jesus. Note a long period of inactivity.....sleep, it's called.....and when the bridegroom finally does arrive, not everyone's ready to receive him. Using language common to many Bible verses, Christ's followers initially prepare to meet the bridegroom [first century] But there is a long delay, during which they fall asleep. When the cry comes "Here is the Bridegroom," towards Christ's reappearance, some are not ready, having long strayed from Christian teaching:

"Then the kingdom of the heavens will become like ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were discreet. For the foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them, whereas the discreet took oil in their receptacles with their lamps. While the bridegroom was delaying, they all nodded and went to sleep. Right in the middle of the night there arose a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order. The foolish said to the discreet, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.’ The discreet answered with the words, ‘Perhaps there may not be quite enough for us and you. Be on your way, instead, to those who sell it and buy for yourselves.’ While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived, and the virgins that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, ‘Sir, sir, open to us!’ In answer he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you."  (Matt 25:1-11)

The prophet Daniel received many visions, which are collected in the book bearing his name. Yet they were not to be understood during his time, or even during the time of Jesus' ministry, but only in the "time of the end." ........... "And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant." (Dan 12:4)

So, to quote Rey, is our “cult clearly wrong in that it didn't exist until now?" Frankly, in view of the above Bible verses, the more unbroken your history, the more suspect you are.

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Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

 


Maggie Brooks Battles Internet Porn

The local TV station sent reporters to the library and filmed guys watching porn on the web. They only had to ask the librarian to unlock filtering software. Out in the open. Kids might see it. TV news led with the story.

County Executive Maggie Brooks saw the report and hit the roof! She had no idea, she said, and blasted that library director to shape up or risk losing county funding (70% if the library's budget!) Why should taxpayers fund porn?

But the next day the ACLU appeared. That library had better not cut off the porn, they countered. What about freedom of speech? What about the slippery slope? What about the lawsuit that they might file?

It wasn't the one sided issue Tom Wheatandweeds thought it might be. Lots of people took issue with Maggie. Wasn't she just grandstanding? So Wheatandweeds, that pillar of virtue, wrote City! newspaper.

Maggie Brooks is shocked over internet porn! What's wrong with that?

We're not dealing with freedom of political speech. We're not dealing with freedom of religious speech. We're not even dealing with freedom of body-beautiful artistic speech. We're dealing with hardcore internet porn, which delights in graphic copulation, sadomasochism, and bestiality, often via streaming video. Historically, patrons visited seedy places for such material, where they sought out secluded spots in which to masturbate. Must we really have our public libraries offer free competition?

Surely, internet porn is not that make-or-break issue upon which all our constitutional rights depend. That slippery slope can't be that slippery.

When the library settled matters a few weeks later, though, they paid Wheatandweeds no heed. No one ever does. They vowed business as usual, with a few minor tweaks so as to safeguard children.

Moreover, the next City! issue featured another letter rebutting Wheatandweeds! Its author had read between the lines, and was alarmed that Wheatandweeds seemed to be decrying, not just child-accessible porn, but....gasp....porn itself. People like porn, he observed, from which fact he concluded that it must be fine.

Wheatandweeds, the stubborn ox, would have none of it. "People like fast food, too," he spattered at me between bites. "That's why we all weigh 300 pounds!"

Moreover, they also liked Don Imus, that foulmouthed radio jock. How long had he been a mainstay morning guy? His mouth spawned many a tempest, but he weathered them all. Until last week when they finally canned himfor racially charged remarks about nappy headed ho's. The local radio guy, Bob Lonsberry, wondered if the library free-speech people would come to Don's defense.


Organization and the Internet

Much as Sheepandgoats appreciates the internet and uses it as his unlimited library card, it is an destructive force to organization of any stripe....religious, business, or political. Isn't there some UTube video floating around that shows John Edwards obsessively primping his hair? Does it really matter now what the man stands for? The primped hair jets through cyberspace at lightning speed. No longer will we focus on the man's positions (because that's hard). Instead, we'll zero in only on the ridicule (because that's easy). Who knows if he wasn't just hamming it up for pals?

All of us have full potential to say/do something asinine or inconsistent. With the internet, we can now be assured that the gaffe will be transmitted instantly to everyone and that they'll all draw snap conclusions at gut level. The truth of anything requires thought. Some find thought foreign. Some simply don't have the time. But all can drink in a quick byte of so-and-so making an ass of himself.

Is there any example anywhere of organization that has been aided by the internet? Maybe some fledgling politician, someone too small to be noticed by traditional means, and also too small for the internet to rip him apart as it's built him up. Finding instances where the internet has built up organization is a challenge. Finding instances where it tears apart we can do in our sleep. With even a horrible organization it's usually well to have a viable replacement before you tear the existing order apart. Ask them about that in Iraq.

If Christianity were simply some do-what-feels-good-at-the-moment movement, then it might be aided by the internet. But it's not. Christianity's predicated on the belief that we need guidance from a source beyond ourselves and that there is a specific channel through which that guidance comes.

Just as most everything today is desperately flawed and on life support, there are some who try to sell me on the notion that Watchtower, too, is overdue for change and that the powerful internet is just the means for such change, at long last giving "little people," a voice, and so forth. I doubt it.

In the same vein it's mentioned that letters are deluging Brooklyn for greater change. Well, I suppose they are. But when have they not? Is today's generation the first to know how to write letters? I suspect back in the days when Watchtower was constantly before the Supreme Court, letters (proportionate to population) poured in more than today. Are we to assume that the Society simply carted all letters to the dumpster until today, when their sheer weight demands attention? I don't think so. Letters from individuals have never been the primary driver of Christian policy. But neither have they ever been merely ignored. They are a source of feedback and always have been.

The Society was more regimented in days past when people were more regimented. For whatever reason, people in past generations were less fragile than they are today and enjoyed greater self-esteem. You could give your counsel blunt without their falling apart. They could take, not just the good, but also the bad without undue complaining. People are different today. Probably due to decaying society, individuals are much less secure. So an added emphasison "principles not rules, love not punishment, flexibility not unreasonableness" comes into being to meet changing times. And I'm glad to see it. But does it all come about only because Watchtower hardliners are being outmaneuvered by progressive new people with "subversive" ideas? Hogwash! Every new person brings something unique to the table, obviously, and old timers never lose sight of the tried and true. But the only model today's world can imagine is "power struggle among unyielding titans." It does not fit the Witness organization.

Because we live in a democracy and prevailing mindset is that democracy tops everything else, we get used to the idea that we should have a say in things. And as people become more individualistic, we become more insistent that our say should be heeded. But the Christian congregation is not organized that way, as it was not in it's first century beginning. The apostles sought to maintain unity and to forestall the endless sects and divisions that were to come. Thus, the Bible mentions the necessity of an older man to "reprove those who contradict" [Titus 1:9] and deal with those "wanting to be teachers of law, but not perceiving either the things they are saying or the things about which they are making strong assertions."  (1 Tim 1:7) Lots of people make "strong assertions" today and lots of people "contradict." It's a function of the unsettled times we live in, and is aided by the internet.

Not all of Jehovah's Witnesses today are 100% behind the program. Many are puzzled over this or that aspect of theocracy and many entertain their own pet ideas of how more of this, less of that, modification of this tactic, and so forth, would be beneficial. Some make suggestions via letter or traveling overseers. There's nothing new, earthshaking, or unnatural about that. It's not evidence that the organization is at some unprecedented crossroads. But in the final analysis we realize that the burden of directing things does not rest with us, but with a non-democratic channel which God has provided. We're not presumptuous. We cooperate as best we can.

The first century apostles lost that battle to maintain Christian unity. The "wheat" was oversown with "weeds," as Jesus foretold. (Matt 13:24-30) It would have happened much sooner had the internet existed back then.

As many know, Jehovah's Witnesses maintain we are in the last days of human rulership. God's rulership over the earth is soon to come, preceded by a public preaching campaign to that effect. Not everyone agrees, I realize. But looking at the state of affairs today, it clearly is not laughable that God might find human rulership lacking. Watchtower is doing their best to maintain Christian unity in the face of a increasing divisive world. And they're doing well, despite overwhelming forces to the contrary. They contrast with most churches, where unity is generally slight and rough and tumble politics is the order of the day.

I made the above remarks to some fellow who replied that he indeed understood how groups wishing to control information flow like [insert sarcasm] the Communist and the fundamentalist middle east governments wished the internet didn't exist.

Yes, that is how many think today: tyrants have abused authority so the answer is to eliminate authority. Fire all cops. Fire all teachers. Let us all live on love and self-discovery.

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Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash