Getting Along in this Year of the Pig

The missionary spoke to the District Overseer and the District Overseer told the Circuit Assembly. "If you want to know the problem with the American brothers, I'll tell you, said the missionary. It's not materialism. It's not immorality."

"The problem with the American brothers is that they can't get along with each other." Was it just me or did I imagine a slight gasp in the audience? Everybody knew he had nailed it.

We are Jehovah's Witnesses, but we are also American Jehovah's Witnesses. And is there a people more headstrong, more self-willed, less willing to cooperate, dare we say belligerent? than Americans? It is the baggage we carry into the congregation and it takes a long while to lose it.

Other peoples have other characteristics. For example, China next month enters the year of the pig. But Muslims don't like pigs. (ceremonially unclean, a view they share with Orthodox Jews [!]) So China Central Television has banned images or references to pigs to commercials, even those tied to the new Pig Year! "China is a multi-ethnic country," the network explained to advertisers. "In order to show respect to Islam, and upon guidance from higher levels of the government, CCTV will keep any 'pig' images off the TV screen." [WSJ 1/25/07, article by Gordon Fairclough, Geoffrey A Fowler] A significant conciliatory gesture toward a minority culture!

Can you imagine a parallel move in this country? All hell would break loose! "We are proud Americans and we are not giving one inch to Muslims or anyone else! If they don't like it, let em go back to where they came from!"

Of course, another reason for opposition is that we all know reasonable meet-you-half-way accommodations could never be made here. Pig rights extremists would use the opportunity to insist on climate controlled pens, free pig health care ensured by government inspectors, and if you said anything bad about pigs, you'd pay a $500 fine.

For example, if you told this joke: Howie Blunkus was walking his pet pig, when a passerby said "Hey, where'd you get the pig?" And the pig said, "I picked him up at the market," you might get some luke-warm laughs. I hope they're worth $500 to you.

Um....now, where were we? Oh yes....Americans are contentious and we track it into the congregations. A new person would never notice, of course, because to a considerable degree we have succeeded in putting on the Christlike personality. But hang around long enough and you'll see cracks on the surface.

They told Brother Rutherford that Brother Klein had said some nasty things about him. "Ah, well, Carl talks a lot, and he says things he doesn't mean." Now that's an example of getting along, of not attributing bad motives.

Interesting thing is that Carl never said those things. He made this clear when his recollections were published in the Watchtower (10/1/ 84 issue) some years back. Yet Brother Rutherford responds as if he fully believes it. Whether intentionally or not, it teaches a lesson. Obviously, if Carl never said it, there's nothing to overlook, no obstacle to getting along. The challenge emerges in the case that he really did shoot off his mouth. So Rutherford answers as if he had.

Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also.    Col 3:13

Notice that the reason to put up and forgive is not that maybe you have misunderstood something. No, you have a cause for complaint! He really did say rotten things! Therein lies the test.

Ah, well, Carl talks a lot and he says things he doesn't mean.

Another reason to go  easy on one another can be found here:

Also, do not give your heart to all the words that people may speak, that you may not hear your servant calling down evil upon you. For your own heart well knows even many times that you, even you, have called down evil upon others.    Eccles 7:21,22

Yes, you've done it. Don't even think of denial. And just as we hope that our brothers will go easy on us when we unwisely shoot off our mouths, so we ought to do the same for them.

So there's hope. We'll work hard on incorporating those scriptures into our lives and then we'll send that busybody missionary back to wherever he came from, and he'll say "I never saw anything like it. Those American brothers really know how to get along!"

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


Dick Van Dyke at 81

Sometimes an old friend who you haven’t thought of in years pops up. This morning the clock radio, which was only doing its wake-up job, was within milliseconds of being smashed into scrap metal, when the quick-thinking radio guy said….here’s Dick Van Dyke come to visit. Dick Van Dyke? Is he still around?

I swear when I was a kid I thought he was the funniest man alive. Rob and Laura Petrie put me in stitches every time. Dick won three Emmys in a five year run, and I was steamed when his TV wife, Mary Tyler Moore, busted up the show so that she could explore other roles. Was not her sole purpose in life to entertain me?

“What do you think of today's comedy? How has it changed in 40 years?” asked the quirky host Bob Lonsberry? Well, Dick recalled, he and his TV wife slept in separate beds....that seems prudish. But today he fears that we “offend the world” with our comedy, with its “moral anarchy.” (Sheepandgoats has made this point before, even using the show’s separate beds as supporting evidence!)      

As the media would have it, the world’s view of America is shaped by U. S. military policy, Iraq in particular. To be sure, Iraq earns the U.S. a substantial reputation, especially among government, wonk, and policy types. But average individuals, worldwide, aren’t much affected by Iraq. They do have satellite TV, however, and when they watch American programming, can we really expect them to conclude that Americans are anything other than ho’s, tramps, and sadistic perverts? And don’t you think the Middle East avengers point to such programming as “Exhibit A” when they’re pumping the hordes for America-hating? As Dick said, agree with Muslims or not, they are deeply religious people.

Yeah, but…yeah, but…..Americans aren’t like that…we‘re not all sickos, not most of us. Agreed…..but you’d never know it from television.

Thank you, Mr Van Dyke. It is as you say. TV is America’s most visible export and producers offend the world with its raunchy and violent content. Good to hear from you. And forgive me for wondering if you were still kicking! Turns out you are, very much so, cooking up stuff in computer animation, and giving of yourself through the Midnight Mission. How active will I be at 81?


Belief over Bureaucracy

The race is on to see who can rebuild flattened Lebanon after the 5 week war. (assuming that war is really over) The international community hopes it will be the Lebanese government. The smart money, though, is on Hezbollah, the grass roots guerilla group that provoked the war in the first place.

Onlookers wish it were otherwise, but Hezbollah represents people with convictions, while the government represents……well…..coalitions and bureaucrats and politicians and (sometimes) scoundrels.

So far, it’s no contest. Changing hats, and flush with cash from neighboring Islamic nations, the recent guerillas now run backhoes and bulldozers. Was your home destroyed in the war? They rebuild it free of charge. This builds good will. Even those fed up with the group for its militancy are nonetheless happy to receive their aid….why would they not be? As for the international funds channeling through the Lebanese government, they are in transit, being appropriated,  just around the corner, perhaps being siphoned, what have you.

Haven’t we heard this same story lately, closer to home?

One year after hurricane Katrina, although $17 billion has been approved by Congress to rebuild homes, not one house has been rebuilt! (from that source - some rebuilding has taken place from private sources, flood insurance, and charitable organizations)

Typical are reports such as this one:

“In a state where 60,000 homes suffered severe damage, only around 30,000 households were eligible for the initial program, and now less than three dozen checks have gone out,” said Oxfam America’s Minor Sinclair, director of its US regional programs. “Very few families will have made any progress by Katrina’s first anniversary. People are stranded in gutted-out houses, overcrowded trailers, and slipping deeper into debt, with no real help in sight.” Oxfam blames lack of political will, bureaucratic bungling, and poor policy decisions.

If it didn’t involve real people, it would be laughable. But it does involve real people. “I think people have lost hope,” says one Biloxi resident highlighted here. “When people don’t have any hopes, they don’t have anything to drive them to work, to do something good. Hope is long gone.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are to Hezbollah as Tony the Tiger is to the Tamil Tigers, but there are two similarities. Both groups have conviction, and they can both rebuild.

3200 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were damaged by Katrina. They’re all rebuilt now. (I am extrapolating, based on previous reports.)

Jehovah’s Witnesses are organized to build. Regional Building Committees, comprised of volunteer JWs, exist worldwide to construct Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls. When disaster strikes, these teams converge and form the core of relief efforts. Other Witnesses swell their ranks, putting their own businesses on hold or using vacation time. Materials are supplied either from donations made to the parent organization’s worldwide work, or made expressly for any particular disaster.

Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those who are related to [us] in the faith.....Gal 6:10

Belief will trump bureaucracy every time.

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


Danes insult the Prophet

A pure delight was to watch Danish reaction when one of their newspapers slandered the Prophet and the Islamic world went ballistic. Not delight at the mayhem, of course, in which some people even died. Not even delight, because, for a rare change, the target of fury was someone other than the United States. But mostly delight at watching the Dane’s genuine astonishment. How could anybody dislike us? they agonized. We’re so nice!

It must be a misunderstanding! Yes, that’s it. Patiently, as if speaking to a slightly dull child, they explained: You see, in our country there is freedom of expression. Here we allow different points of view, even if we don’t agree with them! Surely, once the Arabs understand this, their anger will dissolve and they’ll marvel at our tolerance and broadmindedness.

Trouble is, they understand it very well, and want no part of it. Western culture and values to them means moral rot. It means family breakup, out-of-wedlock births, open prostitution, (sex workers, the West calls them) drug use through the roof. Who needs it?

And that may not be a misunderstanding at all. Hotheads get the upper hand, as they always do, and the reaction is more violent than anyone would have imagined.