'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.’

 


Good Evangelicals, Bad Evangelicals

When soreheads charge that Jehovah's Witnessses are mean, they offer as proof that JW congregations tell their people what to do. As proof of that, they point out that congregations impose discipline upon members ranging from mild reproof to strong reproof to even expulsion for individuals who persistantly and purposefully deviate from core beliefs and practices. Doesn't that prove JWs are mean? Doesn't that prove they are a manmade organization of rules, not love? Doesn't that prove members are slaves to a governing body comprised of old men on a power trip?

No, it does not. The discipline now practiced by Jehovah's Witnesses was practiced in most Protestant denominations until less than 100 years ago - and was based on the same scriptures upon which we base ours. But when it became unpopular, they gave it up. As a result, the morals and lifestyle of today's evangelical church members are indistinguishable from that of the general population. That might be okay if the general population was a storehouse of virtue, but newspapers remind us daily that it's not. And scripture is clear that the Christian congregation is not supposed to be a mirror image of today's morally bankrupt society. It is supposed to be an oasis.

Such is the conclusion of Ronald Sider, author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience - Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? (2005) Mr. Sider is well respected within evangelical circles. He publishes PRISM magazine and serves as contributing editor to Christianity Today and Sojourners. He is professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy, as well as director of the Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and some other accolades. He is not happy to reach his conclusion, and you cannot but admire the man for his frankness. One doesn't readily air one's dirty laundry in public, yet Sider does so out of moral outrage and shame for the evangelical community. He points to attitudes on sex, money, racsim, and personal self-fulfillment. Evangelicals live no differently than the rest of the world, he laments.

I vividly recall circuit overseers and their ilk pointing out that "50 years ago the difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and churchgoers in general was doctrinal, not moral." Time was when there was little difference between the two groups as regards conduct. Today the chasm is huge. Can internal discipline not be a factor?

"Church discipline used to be a significant, accepted part of most evangelical traditions, whether Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, or Anabaptist," Sider writes. ".....In the second half of the twentieth century, however, it has largely disappeared." He then quotes Haddon Robinson on the current church climate, a climate he calls consumerism:

"Too often now when people join a church, they do so as consumers. If they like the product, they stay. If they do not, they leave. They can no more imagine a church disciplining them than they could a store that sells goods disciplining them. It is not the place of the seller to discipline the consumer. In our churches we have a consumer mentality."

They do. And because the church promotes it, caters to it, does whatever it must to swell its ranks, its people cannot be told apart from general society. Of course, some can. I personally know ones who, like Mr Sider himself, take living by Bible standards seriously. But the evangelical label apparantly means nothing as regards lifestyle. It points to a people who can argue Trinity and hellfire till your ears fall off, but who otherwise live no differently than anyone else. The ones who actually apply Christianity are left unreinforced, in some ways even challenged, by their own church.

Doesn't it remind you of that endless list of negative qualities that people are said to have in the "last days?" Paul writes "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..."

As Paul winds down his list, he observes that such people, far from being atheist or agnostics, are "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."   2 Tim 3:1-5   (NIV)

What to make of Sider's book? I don't really know. A few upright evangelicals I know, such as in my own family (or are they just born-agains?) make me skeptical of the book's conclusions. Can it really be that all churches have sold out? But if I think of those evangelicals who picket our conventions, I believe every word. Such an unruly looking bunch you've never seen.

Only one other group comes to mind that has not forsaken church discipline: Mormons. Is it just coincidence that they, like Jehovah's Witnesses, carry a reputation for both honesty and family values and maintain a policy of internal discipline? Evangelicals, though, at least those on the web, deride both them and us as "cults," and rail against both for imposing rules of conduct on members. Yet discipline, even imperfectly applied (which is all you can expect of imperfect humans) has succeeded in preserving a people who can be identified by their conduct - a conduct which stands apart from the world at large.

God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.     Heb 12:7-11   (NIV)

 

More here, here, and I suppose even here


Clamdiggers - Didn't Prostitutes Wear Those?

In the early 1960's, if you wanted to be cool, you wore clamdiggers. A blip in the adolescent fashion world - did they last more than a season or two?  They were, nevertheless, a necessary item. See, they weren't shorts. And they weren't full pants. Neither were they jeans. No, they were sort of cotton, light green or blue, if I remember, with a stripe down the side. They reached to the shin and were secured by a rope, not a belt.

I had a pair or two, so everyone thought I was cool, an opinion I could not elicit otherwise. I returned the favor to other clamdigger kids. But then summer vacation came and the family went down to the farm. The dairy farm, where my Pop's "roots" were, way out in God knows where, where they knew nothing of being cool and cared less. My hillbilly uncle takes one look at my clamdiggers and says: "Hey, how come you’re wearing pedal pushers?! Those are girls pants!"

They weren't pedal pushers, for Pete's sake! He couldn't see that? They were cool clamdiggers!

Of course, the fashion/ fad world, relatively speaking, left kids alone back then. Nothing like today where youngsters are targeted by every stylistic hustler.  So parents, as parents have always done, as I did when I was a parent, dig their heels in. No kid of mine going to dress like......whatever the offending style is! And some of them really are offending,  sordid in origin. The really low hanging pants, for example, the pants that hang so low that if you do a crime, the cops will instantly catch you, since you cannot run with these pants, find their inspiration from the prison world, were some guys are frequently called upon to drop their pants for unsavory reasons.

So parents take their stand. And probably over-take it, in some cases. And the young people chafe, as they always have. Like this one, who, after noting a respected sister in another congregation has a body-piercing wants to know:

"could i rightly get pierced? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY NOT. god, i can't even wear an anklet without someone going... 'you know, prostitutes wore those.'"

HA! Yeah, it is sorta that way. Don't “look just like the world,” and  don‘t “stumble people,” and "he who is faithful in small things is faithful in large," but you don‘t want to cross this line into an  area where people learn to judge by outward appearance. .

I've been there and I've got kids who've been there. There may be some mild hypocrisy to it, at least in its extremes.

I suppose, if absolutely necessary, a person can always do one or two of those small things and then, if people cluck about it, say yes, they admit it, they‘re not all that great of an example, rather than try to "out-righteous" everyone. People will probably move on. (but, alas, maybe they won't) There is a difference between what is important and what is relatively trivial. Of course, I'm not recommending this, but it's an option, and it beats chafing to such an extent that one leaves the congregation,which has happened, as may happen in this case: “Life is just not worth living under restrictions we all just need to break free!!!!!!!!!!”

Unless you're living with your parents - in that case I guess you really can't, or shouldn't, but that time will pass soon enough, and then you can do it if you want. You may not even care about it by then.

Or maybe you can view things like that woman did in "The Scarlet Letter," Hester Prynne. "Letter" is the story of a woman who’d borne a child out of wedlock, fathered by someone she would not name. Those Puritans made her wear a scarlet letter “A” (standing for adulteress) for the rest of her life. We all had to read that book in high school. Nobody liked it at the time, as with anything that is rammed down your throat. Later, though, some of us came to think it was pretty powerful. Nathanial Hawthorne’s short stories read like the “Twilight Zone” of his time

Said Hawthorne about his heroine Hester Prynne: "People who think the most bold of thoughts have no difficulty conforming to outward norms of society." It fits. (the reverse is also true) Jehovah's Witnesses think some very bold thoughts, decidedly different from that of the pack. Conforming to outward norms is not a big deal for many of them.

Still, older ones know that a lot of things they once insisted upon but which their parents opposed eventually entered (not necessarily for the better) the mainstream. Like rock and roll.

I know it’s only rock and roll
but I like it.
                        
Rolling Stones

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 


Wheatandweeds Defends Jehovah's Witnesses

Last year that alternative newspaper City! published a cute article (they thought) poking fun at Jehovah’s Witnesses. We weren’t mentioned by name, but the description fit us exactly. Within hours, Tom Wheatandweeds zinged back a knee-jerk response. But it wasn’t enough! He pondered the matter for a day or so and responded again, this time on a more fundamental level. City! did not publish his first letter. They did his second. They’re not bad folks over there, but they get some goofy ideas about God.

Dear City!

Normally City! displays journalistic inquisitiveness, a penchant for accuracy, and a sensitivity toward minorities. When it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, you blithely repeat every slur and derogatory stereotype you hear. To ridicule a subject you understand is one thing. To ridicule one you don’t is beneath City! With respect, the article makes clear that your reporter doesn’t have a clue as to what we’re about. And yet, there is much about Jehovah’s Witnesses that he (she?) would admire, were he aware.

Rights of free speech and assembly that benefit groups of all stripes, including many admired by City! have been largely influenced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. To that end, 46 Supreme Court appearances over the years have resulted in 37 Constitutional precedents clarifying these rights. No other group has appeared more often before the Court. Now that we are in the Patriot Act era, City and others are nervous that basic civil rights are being redefined.  In this charged environment, Watchtower Bible v Stratton, a 2002 victory, continues a tradition of upholding our fundamental right of free speech. One would expect a journalist to celebrate, not ridicule, a group to whom he owes such a debt.

It is not difficult for bland people to get along, but such is not the case for those with strong views. Alas, the all-to-frequent pattern today is for religions to, at best, manipulate governments in an effort to impose their morality on others, and, at worst, engage in terrorist acts. Jehovah’s Witnesses do neither, and are thus an example in peaceful co-existence, even while standing for values many do not embrace. We declare, to the best of our ability, a message we believe to be true. Some people find it so attractive that they join us and adopt our style of living. But we have no desire to force others to live according to our ways. Our arena is that of ideas. We fancy ourselves neither judges nor enforcers. God can sort it all out. We don’t feel the need to.

Normally, a group representing non-violence would enjoy City!’s profoundest respect. Why is this not the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses? The premiere example of our peaceful stand under trial remains Germany during the Hitler years, during which thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the very first concentration camp prisoners, preceding the far-more-numerous Jews, and other groups. They are the only inmates who can properly be termed martyrs (as opposed to victims) in that they had power to secure their own release by signing a document renouncing their faith and pledging cooperation with the Nazi regime. Only a handful  took advantage of the opportunity. To this day, many of our people are imprisoned for the same neutral stand towards government saber-rattling. How many groups do you cover who would go so far so as not to violate conscience?

Please take these facts into account the next time your articles touch on us. We are not deserving of the ill-treatment you have dished out.

Sincerely,

Tom Weedsandwheat

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Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


Who Has Fought the Fine Fight?

When they hauled James Copp in for sentencing, he got to make a speech, which he enjoys doing. Copp, you’ll remember was the fellow lurking in the woods outside Dr. Bernard Shlepian’s Buffalo home, who fatally shot the man through his kitchen window, in full view of wife and children. He’d shot at other doctors, too, but Shlepian was the first one killed. Dr. Schlepian worked at an abortion clinic.

Copp compared himself to the apostle Paul.

I have fought a fine fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. --- 2 Tim 4:7

These words, Copp supposed, applied to himself as much as to Paul.

There is a similarity. The apostle Paul, like Copp, had taken life, and also like Copp, he had been motivated by religion.

There is also a difference.

Paul’s killing stopped when he became a Christian, whereas Copp’s began when he assumed his version. Paul’s violence was directed against the newly formed Christian congregation, and it was fully sanctioned by that days’ religious authorities. He hated the new faith and he meant to stamp it out. So he spearheaded a group of thugs, hauling Christians off to jail, and, at least in Stephen’s case, presiding over a vigilante death.

The 2006 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses recalls the history of our people in Romania, Eastern Europe. And it awards Paul’s "fine fight" words to someone who merits them. Martin Magyarosi for 45 years spearheaded the Bible education work of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country, which was continually afflicted by oppressive regimes. Hence, the work was always underground. Its weapons were words only, declaring the Bible’s good news to any who would listen. Martin endured lifelong assaults by first Nazis, then Communists, and always religious opponents. "Many and great have been his sufferings for the sake of the truth," said a report at his death in 1951, "especially since his arrest in January 1950. Now these sufferings have come to an end."

Like Stephen, Martin was persecution's target, not its perpetrator. He never lurked outside anyone’s window with a rifle, looking to take life.

The way it works with judging is that the congregation has no authority whatsoever over those outside. It’s authority is only over it’s own members… to ensure, to a reasonable degree, that such members adhere to Bible standards. This is how it is with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus they are no threat to anyone, even those with whom they disagree. But with religions ever ready to thrust, and even enforce, their convictions on others, its no wonder that many people view them as a threat to society. Copp typifies that dangerous version.

Acts 7:58-8:4; 2 Cor 10:3-5; 2 Tim 2:24; Matt 24:14