At the Wilkes-Barre “Love Never Fails” Regional Convention

We took supper at a Red Robin after the first day of the “Love Never Fails” Regional Convention in Wilkes-Barre. At the table just behind me, a child—about 5 years of age (and not one of ours)—began raising a horrible ruckus, screaming at the top of his lungs. His mother took him out, but when she returned he started up anew. I turned around and asked the parents if everything was okay.

I admit that I was looking for signs of endangerment. Maybe one “parent” or the other would look shifty. Maybe the child would act as though they were not his parents. It is a sign of the times that I should do this, but I saw nothing alarming.

There was a time not too long ago when most parents would respond in a certain way to such a tantrum, but that way is likely to land them in jail today. Jehovah’s Witnesses work with many refugee groups. Almost always, they encounter ones whose flight has turned their lives upside-down, and one of the most bewildering things they confront is that child-rearing customs that were absolutely routine and unremarkable back home are taboo in their new home. Do not misunderstand. I make no argument for its return. That said, it is by no means clear that today’s children are better adjusted for its disappearance.

My turning around put the parents even more on notice that they were disrupting the entire restaurant. They could hardly have not known it before, but here was a fresh reminder. The father became heated, threatening no TV for a week and the like. Upon leaving, I said to him: “Don’t worry about it. Whatever you do, stay calm. I’ve been there. They’re kids. It happens.”

Taking in the convention program over three days, I began to wish that silly reporter from the Phoenix New Times would have accepted the offer from the attendants (whom she seemed to regard as wardens) to be seated. With her anti-JW story already written, she could hardly run it during the day of their convention without at least having briefly been there, and it is plain she comes with that rationale.  She looks around hastily, notices that people are paying attention, and writes that “attendees listened rapturously.”

Of course, she is not silly. What she latches onto for her story is certainly not nothing. She will forgive my grumbling on the basis that she is young enough to be my daughter. For all I know, she is the daughter of some friend of mine. Reporters are not silly, or if they are, they are no more so than anyone else. They are typically concerned with injustice. They sometimes put their safety on the line in confronting it. Nobody is silly who does this. They have faith that shining the bright light of journalism on something will cause the cockroaches to disappear. Usually, however, they just go somewhere else—and failure to recognize that circumstance is what triggers the charge of silliness.

Though her focus is certainly not nothing, neither is it everything. She entirely misses the big picture. She would have benefitted from the program that she cited as “three days of music-video presentations, prayers, songs, addresses, symposiums, and dramatic readings from the Bible” on the theme of “Love Never Fails.” The public address of that convention (the program is identical at all locations—only the speaker differs, and not even that for every talk, since portions of that Phoenix “international” convention, so-named for the foreign delegates attending, were streamed into other locations, such as Wilkes-Barre) opened with a truth as self-evident as are the truths Thomas Jefferson addressed in the Declaration of Independence.

In this case, it is that all instances of injustice occur and are cultivated due to a lack of love. That being so, and obvious, the question becomes: “Just who will teach love?” Will it be the university? That is not its job. It focuses on training the intellect, with the apparent assumption that the moral qualities such as love will take care of themselves. As even the sloppiest purview of world headlines reveals, they do not. So who will teach it? Will it be agencies that are guided in training from the university that does not teach it? Is the quality so innate that it not need be taught? Again, a review of news headlines reveals the fallacy of such a notion. So who?

Training that takes its cue from humankind’s Creator has traditionally played that role. “God is love,” states 1 John 4:8. Such training appears under attack from the Phoenix reporter, though she has nothing to replace it with. In the case of Bible training, Witnesses will say that it is a “treasure,” but it is a “treasure” carried in “earthen vessels”—that is, us, as flawed humans—just as Paul states at 2 Corinthians 4:7. Humans are capable of error, poor judgment, and even villainy. But that doesn’t mean that the training from God is no good, and the reporter should have sat through it.

When she cites the Pew report that reveals Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest rate of retention of all faiths, why does she not also cite what appears on the same page? “Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in America,” it says. Nobody is concerned about racial prejudice more than reporters, and here Pew makes a statement to indicate that the Witnesses have solved it to a remarkable degree. All she had to do was look around and see for herself the harmonious diversity that she will not soon see again. But she does not notice it. She is caught up in an agenda pushed by the faith’s opponents. She is interested in the child sexual abuse angle—an angle that is seemingly shared by every group of persons on the planet. Pedophiles are a pernicious lot that nobody has succeeded in vanquishing, and the Boy Scouts of America, who taught generations of boys responsibility, self included, are at risk of going under because of it.

In New York State, where I have lived and still keep up, a new law eliminates the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Law firms have flooded the media in search of plaintiffs. Hundreds of new lawsuits are being filed, and the challenge may soon be to find somebody NOT being sued, as lawyers preside over a massive transfer of wealth that amounts to a tax on everyone else. Businesses raise prices. Governments raise taxes. Insurance rates of all sort skyrocket at a time when overall inflation is quite low.

In fact, had I detected abuse at the Red Robin restaurant, and had I reported it, and had the police and child protective authorities arrived and confirmed that it was indeed abuse, and had they removed the child on that account, I still would not have been sure that I had done the right thing. Among those squarely in the crosshairs of child sexual abuse lawsuits are many agencies dedicated to placing them in “protected” settings, but who have put them into settings no better and sometimes worse than where they were before. The world is a shell game of persons wanting to “do something” who, though well-intentioned, are likely to simply shift the evil from one place to another.

In contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses, during their 2017 Regional Conventions, considered detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse has been known to occur—if there are sleepovers, if there are unsupervised trips to the restroom, if there are tickling sessions, if someone is showing unusual interest in your child, for example—so that parents, who are obviously the first line of defense, can be vigilant. Nobody, but nobody, gathers their entire worldwide membership for such training with the aim of protecting children from harm.

It is certainly not wrong for the reporter to report on the Witness connection with child sexual abuse. Much as they would love to say that they have vanquished the crime, such is plainly not the case. But neither has it been the case for anyone else. In some ways, Jehovah’s Witnesses have created a unique legal vulnerability for themselves, for unlike most faiths that were content to preach to the flock weekly and thereafter take no interest in whether religious training was actually applied or not, Witnesses attempt to “police their own,” and thus did become aware of sordid things.

Yet she was right there at the three day convention focusing on all aspects and applications of love. (And an international convention of 40,000 must make a greater impression than a Wilkes-Barre convention of 3500) Had she paid attention, she would have heard from the Cherokee man who grew up embittered because the white man had stolen the lands of his people. He was embittered again when he was required to fight their war for them (Vietnam). When his wife began studying with two Witness women, he was sullen and unwelcoming—the last thing he wanted was the religion of the white man. When she reached the point of wanting to be baptized, he declared that he would not come. When asked who would watch his baby during the baptism, he declared that maybe he had better come on that account. There, he observed the atmosphere for four days (conventions used to be longer) and his already softened attitude toward the Witnesses softened further. The reporter could have taken in that atmosphere, too, had she not had a deadline to meet.

(Jehovah’s Witnesses is not a “come down and be saved” faith. The process of learning and trying Bible teachings on for size seldom (in this area) lasts less than a year. Throughout that time, persons are grounded in their own familiar routine and environment. College is more “manipulative” than is anything having to do with the Witnesses, for there young people are typically cut off almost 24/7 from all that once stabilized them, be it family, friends, and general environment—a classic tool of those who brainwash)

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Blocking Trolls the Star Trek Way - I Didn’t Want to Do It

I blocked quite a few trolls yesterday. I didn’t really want to block them—it is a first for me—but the nature of trolls everywhere is that they do nothing but insist upon their own view. If answered, they just repackage and run it through again, and they get downright ornery when countered. Soon you find that they have taken over your day, because they will not let your counterview stand—they must demolish it.

They are not even wrong, necessarily, in the basic facts they may present—but they insist upon skewing them and imputing motives, invariably bad ones, to their former friends. It is like that job you left—either you quit or were fired, You are unlikely to speak well of it again, unless it clearly was a stepping stone job or a career change.

All their chums join the fray. In time, you are doing nothing else but countering these characters. They will not be swayed—as trolls never are. In our case, it is the verse: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” They have tasted and pronounced him bad. Are you going to turn them around in a few 280-character tweets? I don’t think so.

There is a part of me that will miss them, but they just will not behave. A writer needs a muse, but he also needs a villain. Social media is VillainsRUs, but you soon find that they are taking over your life—plus the neighbors begin to complain. It is like when you change to another genre and find trolls that insist Trump must hang for anything that has happened “on his watch,” and then you switch channels to find those insisting that Obama or Hillary must hang for whatever happened “on their watch.” Who can deal with that vitriol? We will know what is what when the fat lady sings—a reference that I soon will not be able to use due the latest development of political correctness—“fat-shaming”—although I did learn over the weekend that Brother Herd, who may not even know what political correctness is, will never reprove me for it.

When the time came, I cut them down like Captain Kirk used to cut down Romulans. I deliberately mixed up two Star Trek series so that they would tell me how stupid I was to think that Wesley Crusher was Dr. McCoy’s son. It is like when Trump tweets that North Korea has launched its nuclear missels toward the U.S. People of good sense run for the hills. Trolls run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can’t even spell the word right. Whether they actually did it or not, I will never know—for they had been blocked:

“Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the StarShip TrueTom, whose mission is to boldly go where no one has gone before to tell us what’s out there! Report, TrueTom. What have you found in your valiant quest? What’s out there!”

“Roger that, Houston. I am afraid that the report is bad. It is a universe of trolls! Aren’t there any parallel universes around anywhere? They’re everywhere! In the cupboards, in the closets, in the toilets...mostly there. Let’s beam them over to the Klingon ship!”

“You have go-ahead, TrueTom. Use you digression.”

“Got it, Houston. Phasers locked. Fire at will! Mr Solo! Let’s take out the first wave of these vile aliens. Shields, up! There may be a second wave!”

“Captain, the engines—they can’t take it!”

“Suck it up, Scotty. What do you think I pay you for?”

“Mr. Spock, get Roy Romulan on the phone. Let’s patch up our little spat. He’s not such a bad guy after all.”

....

“Jean Luc, Wesley says that you are wuss for not staying to fight the trolls.”

“Tell the young snot to return to the helm. And tell him to try not to graze the side of the Ferengi ship this time. See if you can renew his learner’s permit once again.”

“Captain, are you certain that you should block all these Trolonians, like that hothead McCoy wants? I advise that we preserve some for study.”

“What! Are you, too, a Trolonian? Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up from Trolonia! Blast away, Jim!”

“Captain, one of those vile aliens exploded in my face! Look at all this green goo!”

“Wesley, you young idiot! Did you learn nothing from that “Men in Black” training video? Listen, ride outside on the wing for awhile until the stench wears off! I’ll tell your mom that you went fishing.”

“Captain, it isn’t logical that you should have put up with those trolls all that time.”

“Zip it, Spock! He was going for the StarFleet world record for Troll Endurance. Now that he has it—it came in the mail today—blast away at all those suckers!”

“Captain, the first wave has fallen, but it is as you said: “Kill a fly and 50 come to the funeral!” What can we do?”

“Hmm. What! Solo, you idiot! I said phasers! You have activated the tractor beam! Gasp! Are you a trolonian, too—et tu, Brutus?”

“Captain, the engines!”

”Oh for crying out loud! You are such a pain, Scotty!”

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The Loaded Words - Infallible, Inspired, and Perfect

It is revealing to me that those who taunt JWs endlessly over just how “inspired” are the ones at the helm today seem to take for granted that there should be ones who are that way. It gets even more crazy when words such as “infallible” are thrown in. “Perfect” makes matters worse. 

“Look at what Brother Jackson said,” they gloat. “Guess he’s not so infallible after all, is he?” they say. They take for granted that for the Christian life to have validity in modern times, there should be ones who ARE infallible, who can and SHOULD spoon-feed members, so there is a lessened need for faith, and hopefully (from their point of view) none at all.

These ones wouldn’t have lasted two minutes in the first century, when the ones taking the lead were manifestly not that way. A local speaker with a dramatic flair enacted a fictional encounter with an irate householder from back then, a forerunner of today’s “apostates.” “What! You’re going to tell me about love?” he hammers the visiting brother. “Look, I was there at that meeting of Paul and Barnabas after John took a leave of absence! You see those two kids there? [motioning to his young children playing on the floor] They do not fight as I saw those two grown men of yours fight! Why don’t you learn love yourself before you come here to lecture me about it!”

(For his part, Barnabas was determined to take along also John, who was called Mark.  But Paul did not think it proper to be taking this one along with them, seeing that he had departed from them from Pam·phylʹi·a and had not gone with them to the work.  At this there occurred a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other; and Barnabas took Mark along and sailed away to Cyprus. - Acts 15:37-39)

For that reason, I shy away from such loaded words as “infallible.” Maybe the insistence on infallibility is a holdover from the Catholic Church, which for centuries insisted that the Pope was that way. “Inspired” will also blow up in your face, because you end up doing backflips in translating just what the word should effectively mean now—or even then, when the “leading men” fought like kids. I even put the word “apostates” in quotes, increasingly, because it comes in many varieties and it means different things to different people.

It is enough to say that the written record, which includes the dealings and interactions of imperfect ones at the first-century helm, is deemed “inspired:“ All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

This is so even though it includes the account of Peter’s astounding cowardess (given his leadership role at the time) of changing his association once the Jewish-based brothers came on the scene—before they did, he mixed freely with the Gentile-based Christians; after they did, he “withdrew” from them.

(However, when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class.  The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barʹna·bas was led along with them in their pretense.  But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?” - Galatians 2:11-14)

It is still “inspired.” It is enough for us to go on. It is enough to make the Christian “fully competent” and “completely equipped for every good work.” Even though it includes the blunderings of the “uneducated and ordinary” ones that were the leaders back then—and the leaders today hold to that pattern—that is still the case. It is not at all what opponents today think that it should be—a true and unfailing human anointed one to wipe away every tear and smooth the path, removing all pebbles so that the people of God can sail along blithely without really having to develop faith. 

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Skirmish #150819 - The Unreluctant

If this hadn’t ended in a threat, I would have forgotten all about it. Even so, I am not sure that it was worth the effort to put together. Don’t I have other things to do? And didn’t the Librarian (that old hen) once tell me to knock it off when I got into a long squabble with Alan the Juggernaut? “I call all to witness that Tom has not answered my question,” he said. “It’s just you and me, you idiot,” I replied. “What! Do you think that you are Clarence Darrow arguing “Inherit the Wind?”  Nonetheless, I did reassemble the tweets in this instance, which is not easy to do chronologically when they fly back and forth quickly.

What saves me with these trolls  is that I have a body of work stretching back 15 years. It has a way of discouraging them, because eventually it dawns upon them that, though they vent their spleen, they really end up retarding their cause—they submit 30 words, and I, by including a link to something already written, respond with 1000. For the time being, that gives me a leg up, and whenever brothers exchange remarks with these characters without that advantage, they usually get beaten up badly, not just by the villain, but by all his chums who join the fray. I don’t recommend it, and maybe even for me I do not recommend it.

“The Unreluctant” appears out of nowhere to challege the post about the Phoenix New Times article,  but it quickly escalates. He is becoming frustrated with the posts I link to. I mean, these fellows want to drag out some pissy little complaint for a few pages, and you respond with a link that covers that complaint, and much more. Presently, they start to lose it: [Warning: this gets graphic on his part...I have edited as lightly as possible, for the sake of readability. I have added nothing (except a bracketed running commentary) I have deleted a little so as not to be redundant.]

UnR: Although ur writing style is unique so if you are up for some advice, sometimes less said is better. Just being constructive mate.

TTH: It was once thought permissible to make a defense when under accusation.

UnR: Of course it is Tom. Mate do you have a problem with comprehension? You always bring another argument into it I didn’t bring up...straw man much Defend Tom, just learn to be more constructive less arrogance....if you want my brutal honesty.

TTH: It is ever the way with zealots to hone in laser-like on their issue and their issue alone—to the exclusion of all else. Considering context was once thought wise. Today it is raising a straw man argument. Such zealotry is seen in many areas, not just that of religion.

TTH: Don’t tag me in a @jasonwynee reply because he has blocked me, the big wus. Of course, if I was abusive, foul, or harassing, that might be expected, but you well know from our exchanges that I am not. As an example of things misrepresented, here is a post on “mentally diseased.” Most of the rest is you chest-thumping over your hoped-for events.

UnR: Correct they categorised them [he is referring to “apostates”] all as ‘sub-human’ We see such terms being used by the GB as Vermin (exactly what the Nazis stayed) Mentally diseased (removed from the 2013 NWT perversion as it was too damaging to leave in) [that removal is covered in my above link]

TTH: Off the top of my head, I do not know where this is. [only the “mentally diseased was ever in print] But the Bible itself speaks of “animalistic men” and those enthralled with the “teaching of demons” It was probably said [once] in that context. They certainly don’t overdo it.

UnR: That’s right Tom,they didn’t overdo it at all when they copied the Nazi slogan & slaughter 6mio Jews by calling them vermin, and using it in a public setting in 2019! Tom forgive me please,but piss off and pull your head out of Gerrit Losch’s backside. You have now crossed a line

TTH: Uh oh. I think it is you crossing a line, not me. As to the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews, by the time it got underway, virtually everyone BUT Jehovah’s Witnesses had a hand in it. They were in the camps for their refusal to go along with Adolf.

TTH: There is also an current account, and I will be unable to back this up because I do not know that the involved parties want publicity, of JWs asking for very accommodating terms in hotel negotiations with a high-priced facility, being dismissed by hotel personnel, who were then countermanded by the manager on the basis that her grandfather was in the Nazi camps and she wouldn’t be here were it not for him. Yes, I have not cited my source, but you know well that I do not lie. Let’s see if you also explode in vitriol at that one.

UnR: Pathetic Tom of how you cross a line and condone the rhetoric and then try to tramp on 6mio lives with 1300 JW’s somehow that because they were allowed to shave an SS Gaurdian somehow means something! Pathetic man you are Tom...you crossed the line with me! The first letter Rutherford wrote you did have a hand in it, you by proxy and your organisation condoned the ideals of the Third Reich. You had your hand in it up to your neck in killing 6mio Jews! It was only when Hitler confiscated the assets did he write second letter. Dont try an rewrite history with me,I know more about your Orgs dirty little secrets than u ever will. Recent talk at the convention given by Geoffrey Jackson states the real reason hitler was killing Jews was to get to the anointed is nothing short of holicaust denial! Pathetic.

[This is so unhinged that I just leave it here without rebutal. There is an early letter (1933) from the Watchtower president to Hitler’s brand-new government to assure it that Witnesses were apolitical and not a thread. It does not avoid certain stereotypes common in that day. Professor Patrick Allitt, an historian at Emory University in Atlanta, speaks in the GreatCourses series of a “low-level anti-semitism” that was near universal in North America, and considerably worse elsewhere leading up till WWII. After that war, with the Holocaust having come to light, it virtually disappeared. I suppose you can make the case that the Wt president could have risen above it—still, that is all that you can say. It is ever the mark of zealots that they extrapolate the standards of the present day into the past to condemn those whom they don’t like.]

UnR: You back up nothing, your blogs are Watchtowers rewritten, a wannabe elder who gets turned down by the CO due to you being ‘odd’ not Elder material, hence you come on twitter to find your calling...am I close Tom, has the nerve been struck my brother? Tom, you so dearly want that position

TTH: I do shake in fury over that—probably you have heard the heavens rumble. [I played with this some more]: Again!! It happened again!! The CO left and he DIDN’T MAKE ME AN ELDER!! What is that—200 times? ARRRGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!  [How did he know?]

TTH: Oh, and [besides the post on standing up to Hitler, here is one] on Rutherford, [you may enjoy this] And on the intellectuals that you try to join, here is something appropriate to the Nazi era. ...Please consider adopting a human photo for your profile, so that the reader doesn’t suppose you an adolescent stuck in a fantasy world.

UnR: And there it is, the gas lighting. I kept this whole conversation on a level until you told lies about 6mio Jews and how you had nothing to do with it, yet your organisation condoned it at the highest level and what do you come back with....gas lighting. You crossed the line Tom

TTH: Feel free to cross back. I did not invite you here, you know. Nor did I engage you on your feed. Nor do I even want you here. This is so typical—you enter with remarks that get more & more heated till they outright lose it & burst into profanity. [Isn’t there something in Revelation 12 about ones who “accuse your brothers day and night before God?”]

UnR: You crossed the line and you will pay for it.

TTH: I crossed line and I will pay for it? Will screenshots help [my cause]? I mean, just when I think that you cannot get more abusive, you reach new heights.

[At this point, “NoFucksGiven” felt it appropriate to weigh in for the first time. She reached back into her treasure trove of words and found the same one that she would have found on the front burner]: YOUR FUCKING CULT IS GOING DOWN!!

TTH: Another visitor. Look, if I didn’t block the one that posted a photo of an erect penis, I will not soon block you. Best to let such things hang out there, where they will soon be buried, and until they are they make her look unhinged, not me. As to “going down” try this:

[She responded with a GIF of a dancing turd.]

I haven’t actually blocked anyone yet. I am not adverse to doing it. They do sully up things, they are a distraction, and if I hang with them long enough, I will probably tell my someone to “piss off” and get his head out of whoever’s backside. I mean, there really is something to that verse: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” It may just be that I’ve not blocked anyone yet because I recall the wise words of Bud: “Kill a fly and 50 come to the funeral.”

It was the threat that decided me: “You have crossed a line and you will pay for it.” What did I do to trigger THAT? Maybe I jumped the gun in charging profanity. Perhaps “pissing off” and urging one to “pull your head out of Gerrit Losch’s backside” is polite dinner banter where he comes from. He plainly drinks too much of his own Kool-Aid, and it sends him into a rage when he is countered.

Maybe I shouldn’t have played around with his theory of a frustrated wannabe elder. I mean, that IS a little like brushing the teeth of a charging Rottweiler. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it. Oh, and perhaps I shouldn’t have asked him to shed his mask, so people would not think he was a pimply comic book-world adolescent. Actually, maybe I had it coming. But, come on! These guys materialize out of nowhere, just like—well, they materialize—and they make all sorts of charges. But give them any pushback, and they lose it. You also can’t call them a name because if you do, you will be complicit with Hitler in killing 6 million Jews. So let me just say for the record that I had a misunderstanding with this gentleman.

It is probably not a real threat. These are the days of 2 Timothy  3, in which people are said to be “without self-control” and “fierce.” It happens all the time on social media. Still, I am a sensitive soul, a “very gentle man, down to my fingertips/the sort who never would, ever could, let an insulting remark escape his lips” (for the most part), and it gave me pause. As long as I was pausing, I thought I’d write it up as a post.

Maybe I can engage JTR, that big-mouthed quasi-brother from the hills who packs a gun—something practically unheard of in JW-land. He will watch my back, and if I get into trouble, he will approach smiling, parting his suit jacket so that UnReluctant will see his holster, at which point he will mumble and slink away. Trouble is, JTR is prone to posting incendiary material of his own. Still, when push comes to shove, he will probably have my back. I think.

Or maybe I should just do it the way of Peter, who, when he pulled out a sword, the Lord told him to put it back.

....

[Edit: JTR was a good egg about this, even if he is a bad egg in some ways. He is a good egg as a driver, too, and he once proved it by turning his vehicle once over easy. At any rate, he said: “Of course I will defend you, TTH. That’s what I do.” 

To acknowledge this, I sent him a “tough-bro” story—he likes that kind of thing and there aren’t that many of them:

”There is a report of someone dear to me, an MS, being similarly threatened by a—I don’t even think that he is a brother, but he attends some meetings. The MS was worried about it, relating to me: “I hope that he does not come after me in the restrooms, because if he does, I will take him down” and he called the different elders as to what he should do. One laughed, as though it were a contest that he would love to see. The COBE got back to him presently, to say that he need not worry if he felt it necessary to “take care of his business.”]

 

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Did you Find Everything that You Were Looking For?

“Did you find everything you were looking for?” the clerk said. I told her that I had.

But then I added that it had taken me all day. In fact, more than all day. I had arrived last night and had camped overnight in the produce section. She started laughing uncontrollably at this, and it only increased when I told I had slept in the bin with the cantaloupes.

Then she told me the total. “Are you still thinking about that?” I asked. “What do you think this little diversion is all about?—to get you laughing so hard you’ll forget all about it!” That made her laugh even more. Still, she didn’t forget the total, telling me that she had to charge.

I told the guy behind me that he would probably benefit. She had nailed me, but he could probably get through scot-free. “She’s clearly taken her eye off the ball,” I told him. But he said that she would probably charge him double.

She was still laughing as I was boxing up the groceries. The other fellow added to the joke in a way I did not hear, and her guffawing continued even as I walked out the door.

 

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“I Ain’t Going to Work on Maggie’s Farm no More”

I haven’t written any Bob Dylan posts for a long while, and I wouldn’t have written one today, except that the dryer broke. That meant—with my wife looking on approvingly—that I would be spending precious time hanging stupid wash on the line! It’s ridiculous!

Of course, as I was doing so, the lyrics of Maggie’s Farm came to mind:

Well, I wake up in the morning/Fold my hands and pray for rain

I got a head full of ideas/That are drivin' me insane

It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor

I ain’t going to work on Maggie’s farm no more.

This prompted me to investigate further in (of course) Wikipedia, where....gasp!....I discovered that the most bedrock and undisputed fact in the musical universe is, in fact, not so!

Bob Dylan rose to fame on the strength of his folk ballads. We all know that. We also all know that he reinvented himself, and has done so several times since. We all know that, at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he was roundly booed, and we know the reason why: he went on stage with electifried sound, and the snooty purists there stuck up their nose at anything not acoustic. I mean, we all know this!

We all knew wrong! It is another “Everything You Thought You Knew About Such and Such is Wrong” headline. I am coming to think that there is no reason to accept anything anymore. If a pitch is not to your liking, just lay back like Casey and wait for one that is. Unlike Casey, you will get more than three. You will keep getting pitches until the cows come home. Just wait for one you like. Everyone else does—why should you not as well?

They booed because they didn’t like the electric guitars? No, they booed because the sound was terrible and they couldn’t hear the words! Look at what Pete Seeger (termed Dylan’s harshest critic that day) said:

“There are reports of me being anti-him going electric at the '65 Newport Folk festival, but that's wrong. I was the MC that night. He was singing 'Maggie's Farm' and you couldn't understand a word because the mic was distorting his voice. I ran to the mixing desk and said, 'Fix the sound, it's terrible!' The guy said 'No, this is what the young people want.' And I did say that if I had an axe I'd cut the cable! But I wanted to hear the words. I didn't mind him going electric.”

It was all a lie! The folk people didn’t mind him going electric that night. Someone else on the program had already gone electric and nobody had lost their cookies over it. This is just the result of some revisionist falling over himself to paint a titanic “Clash of the Cultures” when in fact there was none! “Bob’s going electric?” is more like it, “Well, what d’ya know? Wish we could hear the words.”

Now, if this is a big lie about a bedrock and undisputed fact, it must be conceded that it is not a big lie about a very important bedrock and undisputed fact. (Unless you are a musician, in which case it overshadows everything else) “Who cares?” is a reasonable reaction. However, though trivial—or maybe it is even magnified because it is trivial—it serves to illustrate the quicksand that those of critical thought stand upon as they presume to instruct those less mentally disciplined. As with the Christian ministry, the “ministry” of conveying human knowledge is carried in earthen vessels—humans. In fact, not just “earthen vessels,” but sievelike earthen vessels that leak most of the water before it ever gets to you. In fact, worse than sievelike earthen vessels that leak most of the water before it ever gets to you, but sievelike earthen vessels that leak the most of the water while various yo-yo’s are replenishing the supply with their own water, which turns out to be contaminated—so that what finally gets to you is not the real water at all.. I mean, if you can’t believe that the folk singers booed Dylan because they were elite and snooty, what CAN you believe?

This is only the beginning of the woes for ones who suppose that critical thinking will save us. For the ones steadfastly filling the leaky vessels are not the careful and wise ones, intent upon safeguarding knowledge. As often as not, they are yo-yos and liars, concocting their own version of events so as to sway viewpoints their way. Sometimes they are deliberate frauds. More often they are sincere persons truly doing their best but, since we are all molded and skewed by our own individual experiences, one must analyze in detail even the most mundane and obvious statement—in this case that the folk singers were shocked at Dylan changing the genre. With him, there is almost nothing that has been related accurately. Even his supposed leadership role as a counterculture icon is all wrong.

Are people inclined to analyze in detail even the most “mundane and obvious” statement? You know that they are not. But even when they are, the fact remains that nobody has the resources to do it—the disposable time of any given individual is very, very small. For many, it is effectively zilch. Plus, there is much to compete with that disposable time, and most often entertainment wins out over research. Stacking the odds even more is the habit of some to hide matters in a barrage of irrelevance (that is not to say that THEY regard it as irrelevance), muddying the waters, to the point where people say: “Ah, to blazes with it! They’re all liars anyway!” When this happens, as the saying goes, “the terrorists [to human knowledge] have won.”

And yet those of critical thought strut around on the world stage as though their grasp on the “facts” makes them invincible. It is as Jack Nicholson said to Tom Cruise in the movie: “You can’t handle the truth!” We leak away the true facts in no time at all, and compensate for it by tapping the minds of pillars who have also leaked away the true facts. 

Alas, “critical thinking” will not save us. It may even make matters worse, for who has not noticed that those who harp with greatest tenacity about critical thinking invariably assume that they have a lock on the stuff? One of our first conclusions as to critical thinking ought to be that we are not very good at it. Nope. It is the heart that will save us—not the head—the heart refined by spiritual principles that are true, that have emanated from a Higher Source, that have the greatest odds of mending the earthen, leaky, flawed vessels that are us.

.....

Now, as long as we are at it with my hanging clothes on the clothesline until the repairman comes—if he comes, because when this post is written I will explore fixing it myself—I fixed the dishwasher, after all, when it did not heat, so maybe the dryer will also surrender its secrets to me, even though I still remember that time decades ago when I scorched the clothes in an attempt to fix another recalcitrant dryer. At any rate, Dylan’s Clothesline Saga comes to mind (I am done with ramifications to critical thinking; read on only if you care about Dylan):

After a while we took in the clothes

Nobody said very much

Just some old wild shirts and a couple pairs of pants

Which nobody wanted to touch

Mama come in and picked up a book

An' papa asked her what it was

Someone else asked, what do you care

Papa said well, just because

Then they started to take back their clothes

Hang 'em on the line

It was January the thirtieth

And everybody was feelin' fine

 

The next day, everybody got up

Seein' if the clothes were dry

The dogs were barking, a neighbor passed

Mama, of course, she said, hi

Have you heard the news he said with a grin

The vice president's gone mad

Where? downtown When? last night

Hmm, say, that's too bad

Well, there's nothing we can do about it, said the neighbor

It's just something we're gonna have to forget

Yes, I guess so said ma

Then she asked me if the clothes was still wet

 

I reached up, touched my shirt

And the neighbor said, are those clothes yours

I said, some of them, not all of them

He said, ya always help out around here with the chores

I said, sometimes, not all of the time

Then my neighbor blew his nose

Just as papa yelled outside

Mama wants you to come back in the house and bring them clothes

Well, I just do what I'm told so I did it, of course

I went back in the house and mama met me

And then I shut all the doors.

It took me years to realize that this song is a parody of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Jo,” which dominated the charts in 1967. That song revolves around a horrible tragedy—Billy Jo jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and what hidden and unnamed inner torment might have caused him to do that? The event is related in the first person at a rural Mississippi dinner table, where it must compete for attention with the most banal and ordinary conversation of the adults. It is a “teenage self-pity song,” as Garrison Keillor would have put it.

In Dylan’s parody, the conversation is even more banal, and the “tragedy” is outright ridiculous:

Have you heard the news he said with a grin/The vice president's gone mad

Where? Downtown When? last night/Hmm, say, that's too bad

Well, there's nothing we can do about it, said the neighbor/It's just something we're gonna have to forget

Yes, I guess so said ma/Then she asked me if the clothes was still wet

and Bob sings it in the most laid-back and uninterested drawl that is a hoot in itself. He really is pretty clever. Alas, I can no longer find it on YouTube. There is a pretty good version of it from The Roches, but to a purist, such as I used to think they were at the Newport Folk Festival, only original will do. It may even be that the song will get increased recognition in a modern context, from political zealots, on account of it underlying tragedy: “The Vice-President’s gone mad.”

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Jehovah’s Witnesses Slammed in Phoenix

If you fill to near capacity a 40,000+ seat stadium for a volunteer event, put on by volunteers, surely those of the local media will be impressed. Not the Phoenix New Times reporter! who is “weirded-out” by aspects of the gathering that most would find commendable, and barely mentions the event anyway, as she immerses herself in the narrative of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ harshest detractors. Plainly, the packed stadium photos and the gist of the article do not match.

I could be wrong, but I think most will recognize this piece as a hit job, and it might even motivate some to go there to investigate, where they will see that the tone of it is nonsense. “Three days of music-video presentations, prayers, songs, addresses, symposiums, and dramatic readings from the Bible,” according the event program, will intrigue some as a refreshing rarity.

Are they so “cultish” as the reporter charges? Stadium and hospitality personnel often cannot praise JWs enough, rarely encountering such orderly and pleasant people. A reporter in Miami wishes that the Marlins could fill their own stadium to capacity as have Jehovah’s Witnesses. A shock jock in Rochester a few years back waxed ecstatic over Witnesses when he found that they categorically reject violence. “These are my people!” he gushed on-air. Another stadium is said to accept as payment-in-full the thorough annual scouring that the Witnesses give the facility. Others reporters, such as this millennial in New Orleans, wrote it up that, while they certainly are different in beliefs, still they are just ordinary folk come together for religious instruction.

Not everyone will be as shocked and disdainful as the Phoenix reporter that there are still some people who dress up. Not everyone will gasp in disapproval at counsel that we ought watch who we hang out with. If the New Times reporter felt “conspicuous in pants,” well—that’s hardly the fault of the attendees. She could have chosen to be not conspicuous had she been concerned about it. When I invite people to conventions, I observe: “You are perfectly welcome to come just as you are. But if you don’t have one of these [I flip my tie], everyone will assume you are a visitor, and they may just come to preach to you.” Householders smile at the heads-up.

The blatant ill will and bias of the New Times article is evident even in trivial matters, such as the reporter’s disdain that “attendees listened rapturously,” as though they should be expected to nod off. In fact, some of them do after lunch on long afternoons, and it was worse before the days of efficient air conditioning. Don’t attendees of concerts or rallies also listen rapturously? Why come if you do not?

Not all will smirk at the “lowest rate of retention on all religions” that Witnesses suffer. Many will realize that it is more than offset by the high rate of participation from those that stick. After all, there are many faiths where members might not actually leave, but how would you know if they did? The high participation rate actually accounts for the lower retention rate, for inevitably some will tire of it and opt for something less strenuous. Similarly, not everyone will be shocked that should you do a 180 and ardently attack what you once embraced, relations with the family may suffer. Of course they will. It is not brands of automobiles that we speak of.

But the bulk of the article deals disapprovingly with how Witnesses have grappled with the same child sexual abuse plague that has shown itself pandemic throughout society—be it in segments religious or irreligious. The recent Epstein “suicide” only underscores that the evil reaches into the highest echelons of society, some members of whom appear desperate to cover their tracks. If, in the opinion of the ARC, “children are not adequately protected from the risk of child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness organisation,” frequent news reports make clear that they are not “adequately protected” anywhere. Even the Boy Scouts of America, that iconic institution that has taught generations of boys responsibility, did not succeed in purging all pedophiles from its midst, and is at risk of going under for it.

Arguably, as Jehovah’s Witnesses have attempted to police their own, they have faltered in coordinating such internal “policing” with the actual police. Still, this must be countered by the consideration that few faiths make any attempt at all to look into wrongdoing within the ranks. When a member is nabbed for child sexual abuse, it is as much of a surprise to the minister as anyone else. Moreover, with some groups, the minister is the perpetrator—not just the one who investigates the sin.

Jehovah’s Witnesses live, work, and school in the general community. They are politically neutral, and as such, are pacifist. The same Pew source that tells of their “low retention rate” also says of them: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in America.” Just how sinister can they be? In Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses were declared “extremist” and banned in 2017 for entirely separate reasons, the topic of child abuse having never once arisen—and their woes are exacerbated by the same critics attempting to take them down in the West with diatribes that are embraced by the New Times.

One almost senses that the reporter’s discomfort at being offered help three separate times by three separate attendants to find a seat might stem from an uncomfortable sense that they have somehow discerned her intention to accept their hospitality and then lambaste them on the media. Charges against Jehovah’s Witnesses that she has showcased here—which are certainly not nothing—are dealt with in the free ebook TrueTom vs the Apostates! which includes 10+ chapters on the core charge of child abuse.

As society increasingly becomes disillusioned with God, it is inevitable that participatory religion will be regarded as cultish. What Jehovah’s Witnesses think of articles such as in the New Times is immaterial. Historically, they rise to fight the battles laid before them. They are used to presenting their faith through its most appealing lens. Let them become used, if need be, to presenting it through its least appealing lens, for both are to be expected of imperfect persons attempting to apply Bible standards in a world that increasingly shrugs them off.

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We Should be Proud of our Apostates—Ours Are the Best.

What surprises me as I go through the sequential schedule of Bible reading, now focused on the letters of Paul, is how well they anticipate current “anti-cultist” complaints—about being brainwashed, misled, duped, and so forth. What would appear to be a brand new scenario is just history recycled, today intensified by modern viral methods of communication. Given that the following was said then, when the only communication was word-of-mouth, it is not at all surprising that it would be so prolific today:

“We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one,” says the apostle at 2 Corinthians 7:2, as though the accusation of those things was commonplace.

“Nevertheless, you say, I was “crafty” and I caught you “by trickery,” he says again at 2 Corinthians 12:16. For sure, Solomon had a point: “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccles 1:9)

Do “apostates” proliferate today, as though something new? It appears to be the oldest game in town. “For there are many—I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping—who are walking as enemies of the torture stake of the Christ. Their end is destruction, and their god is their belly, and their glory is really their shame, and they have their minds on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19)

“Having their mind on earthly things” is where it is at today, and there are endless people who obsess over petty freedoms at the expense of totally missing the real ones. Their “critical thinking” has sold them down the river; they have shipwrecked whatever faith they once had—just like Paul says about two actual malcontents in the first century, when he advised Timothy to “go on waging the fine warfare, holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside, resulting in the shipwreck of their faith.  Hymenaeus and Alexander are among these, and I have handed them over to Satan so that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 3:18-19)

What exactly is it to be “handed over to Satan?” The only other use of the expression (1 Corinthians 5:5) makes clear that it is expulsion from the congregation. Today Hymenaous’s and Alexander’s counterparts on social media loudly decry that discipline.

They decry another sort of discipline as well. “Just as I encouraged you to stay in Ephesus when I was about to go to Macedonia, so I do now, in order for you to command certain ones not to teach different doctrine, nor to pay attention to false stories and to genealogies. Such things end up in nothing useful but merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith.” Today the ones so “commanded” would hop on social media to rail that you can’t even breathe a word different from the tyrannical men on top to be muzzled at first transgression, and ejected at second.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult if and only if the Bible is a cult manual.

Nobody has apostates like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nobody has apostates more prolific, more determined, and in some cases, more deranged—I mean, if someone so much as farts at Bethel, there is one of these yo-yos to start a thread on it, and that thread is not ignored, but is joined in by countless persons in sympathy, some of whom are coherent and some of whom are pure loons.

It is as it should be. We should be proud of our apostates. Nobody else has anyone like them. What if they did not exist? Would you not have to wonder why? No writer of the New Testament fails to deal with them. What if there were no mention of them today? Would it not indicate that the faith had strayed so far from its roots, to embrace contemporary thinking, that there was little to apostatize from?

I will admit that the only apostates that interest me are the ones that go atheist, which partly accounts for my take on the 2 Thessalonians “Man of Lawlessness.” Having learned the man-made origins of Trinity and the immortal soul, and having come to appreciate the damage these teachings do to to a close relationship with God, can one really go back to them? Often the “believing” apostates do not—they simply become ambiguous on such doctrines, thinking that they hardly matter—to each his own. Essentially, they want to retain God, but they acquiesce to the greater world molding their thinking as to outlook, goals, and morals. They want to “throw off all restraint” and in no time at all, they have lost whatever unity they once had. When they can be distracted from attacking their former roots on social media, they are to found attacking each other over differences in matters scientific, medical, climate, politics, etc.

 

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If Hymenaeus and Alexander go bad on you, to be sure, it is a downer, but it does not destroy faith and a good conscience.

I think he means that with Jehovah’s Witnesses there is a combination of pure teachings that are found no where else. Some of them are individually, but the combination is not. They involve such things as the Name, the kingdom, no immortality of the soul,  no Trinity, the reason for suffering, the preaching work, the need to keep watchful, transformed personalities, and so forth. The Christian ministry is a treasure, however it is a treasure carried in “earthen vessels”—that is, people, who are not unflawed. “However, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves,” Paul says at 2 Corinthians 4:7. Context reveals that he is speaking of the ministry, which he regards as a “treasure.”

Although a certain malcontent fights so much and so bitterly with the bus driver that I can’t imagine why he doesn’t just leave—it would make the driver happier, the bus company happier, the passengers happier, and one would think, him happier—yet he does not do it, probably for the above reasons. (except for the ministry, and the nearness of the end, which he doesn’t seem to think is so)

People are a collection of their experiences, both those that have happened to them, and those they have manufactured. I have called him a loon. Maybe he is not, but he so closely resembles one that I cannot tell the difference. My bad.

As much as he carries on about worshipping the GB, he cannot seem able to understand that it is factors in the first paragraph that form a Witness’s faith, and following the direction of the GB is no more than not fighting with the traffic cop or the coach or the mentor. 

Let us humor him for a moment. Let us grant his dream come true, that malfeasance will someday be uncovered ....gasp!’....high up in the ranks. So? It would hardly affect one’s faith. They are men—everyone knows that. There have been many times in the past when the earthly organization was shaken practically into rubble—in America during WWI, in Axis countries during WWII, in Russia now—and as soon as the heat is off, God’s people rebuild like ants, because their faith was never in human arrangements—those just exist to facilitate and enhance spiritual things—their faith was in the spiritual things themselves.

Many times in the past brothers in responsible positions have proven unfaithful, sometimes even duplicitous, hiding who they are, and when discovered, have been removed and replaced. So says 1 Timothy 5:24: “The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men [their sins] also become manifest later.” Sometimes it is now. Sometimes it is “later.” Still, I would have to see some evidence before buying in. The fact that opposers “accuse them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10) does not count, for that has never not been the case.

It happens. Even GB members have been removed—sometimes with fanfare and sometimes not. Faith itself continues. It was never in human arrangements. It was in spiritual things. Enemies of the faith make the same mistake here that they do in Russia. Failing to grasp spiritual things, they imagine that if the shut down the earthly coordinating organization, the faith will collapse. Instead, it is like stomping on the anthill. The ants run for cover, but almost immediately they commence rebuilding. Their faith was never in the anthill—that was just their to magnify their ant-life.

The Bible reading last week in 1 Timothy 1:18 encourages ones (Timothy) to hold “faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside, resulting in the shipwreck of their faith.  Hymenaeus and Alexander are among these, and I have handed them over to Satan so that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.” As long as you hold faith and a good conscience, you are fine—and the faith is with regard to God and his Son, as accurately represented by the factors of the opening paragraph

If Hymenaeus and Alexander go bad on you, to be sure, it is a downer, but it does not destroy faith and a good conscience. 

......

Likely they will say of these courtroom battles, as they did of Russia banning the entire organization within its borders, that it is an area of “concern” but not “worry.” They don’t get overly attached to things, even things of their own construction. They put it all on the line routinely as they do their best to advance kingdom interests, not cowering before their enemies. They plow where they plow as they apply their view of the Bible, unconcerned, sometimes unaware, of the quicksand that may get them into, confident that, should that happen, God will somehow get them out of it.

They do not deliberately court opposition, but they do expect it. The king makes a law and Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den. He makes another law and his friends are thrown into the furnace. Another king makes another law and the entire nation of Jews faces extermination until Esther the queen opens his eyes to the murderous scheme he has been maneuvered into. It happens to their spiritual descendants to this day. The modern Witness organization expects no less. They are “insular,” separate from the world, and the latter finds no end of reasons to oppose them for it.

From “TrueTom vs the Apostates!”

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“I came to start a fire on the earth, and what more is there for me to wish if it has already been lighted?”

“I came to start a fire on the earth, and what more is there for me to wish if it has already been lighted?”—Luke 12:49

What fire? How did it get lit?

Doesn’t it refer to God’s ways versus the ways of a world estranged from him? That fire was lit long ago. Jesus fans it into fever pitch, introducing a preaching activity that will ultimately put the choice in everyone’s face—is it the kingdom that they want to rule over them, or the present human system of 200 squabbling nations? Jehovah’s Witnesses who speak for him today do nothing to bring that future kingdom about, but they do publicize it:

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44

Moreover, those who want and expect that kingdom rule versus those who do not want or expect it assume different priorities in their lives that reflect their desires and expectations. It makes for significant conflicts, even within families. That must be what Jesus meant as he went on to  say:

Do you imagine I came to give peace on the earth? No, indeed, I tell you, but rather division.  For from now on there will be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against [her] mother, mother-in-law against [her] daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against [her] mother-in-law.”—Luke 12:51-53

It manifests itself today in people changing sides—for the allure of both sides are as strong as the are different. In the case of a Witness family that some members depart from, it takes the form of the latter charging that they were misled, manipulated, and so forth. No wonder the apostle seems to anticipate the charge:

“We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.”—2 Corinthians 7:2

and

“Nevertheless, you say, I was “crafty” and I caught you “by trickery.”—2 Corinthians 12:16.

Jesus doesn’t buy it, either, about being obtuse regarding the end of this system of things approaching:

“Then he went on to say also to the crowds: “When see a cloud rising in western parts, at once you say, ‘A storm is coming,’ and it turns out so.  And when you see that a south wind is blowing, you say, ‘There will be a heat wave,’ and it occurs.  Hypocrites, you know how to examine the outward appearance of earth and sky, but how is it you do not know how to examine this particular time?—Luke 12:54-56

The trick may be to check your “critical thinking” skills at the door, so as to focus on what he next says: “Why do you not judge also for yourselves what is righteous?”—vs 57 God’s kingdom is “righteous.” Human governments, whatever their intent, whatever their ideals, whatever their sporadic successes, are not.

That being the case with God’s kingdom approaching, why make oneself an “adversary of him?”

“For example, when you are going with your adversary at law to a ruler, get to work, while on the way, to rid yourself of the dispute with him, that he may never hale you before the judge, and the judge deliver you to the court officer, and the court officer throw you into prison.”—vs 58

I liked this point as well (most of these verses were considered at the Kingdom Hall meeting this past week, and the ones not will be considered next week):

“But if ever that slave should say in his heart, ‘My master delays coming,’ and should start to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day that he is not expecting [him] and in an hour that he does not know, and he will punish him with the greatest severity and assign him a part with the unfaithful ones.”—vs 45-46

Practically speaking, the “slave” that doubts that the master is coming anytime soon (or at all) begins to reappraise all the effort he has put into publicizing that event. What once seemed as natural as breathing air now comes to seem wasted time, in fact, worse than wasted time, since it served to put he/she behind the curve as regards the goals of the greater world. In no time at all, such persons have joined “the unfaithful ones.” They are deriding what they once embraced—in effect, “beating their fellow slaves.” They are almost forced to carry on about how they were misled and manipulated, because the alternative is to explain how they could have been so stupid to go along for so many years with what they now reject. So they frame matters as a “sinister religious corporation” taking advantage of the minions. They are nuts—the only reason members incorporate is so that they can do things legally, such as owning land or publishing, that will not all fall apart with the death of the founders.

Let us visit the parallel verses in the Book of Matthew, noting that the slaves doing business have always been associated with the preaching and disciple-making work. Let us consider it in the satirical Sheepngoats Translation, which is not accepted by all scholars—in fact, most of them assume that the translators must have been smoking something:

“After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.  So the one that had received five talents came forward and brought five additional talents, saying, ‘Master, you committed five talents to me; see, I gained five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’

“Next the one that had received the two talents came forward and said, ‘Master, you committed to me two talents; see, I gained two talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’

“Finally the one that had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I didn’t do squat. I thought about it, but you see, to do business, I would have had to work with the others, and they are all jerks. I also would have had to work with the bankers, and it is all about money with them. And I for sure didn’t want to work with any non-profit organizations who might lean on me to do something I didn’t want to do. I shouldn’t have to put up with that—I have rights. After all, we all know that you reap where you did not sow, and gather where you do not winnow. You want disciples? Then get off your rear end and make them yourself! Don’t foist your corporate agenda on me!’

“In reply his master said to him, ‘Wicked and sluggish slave, you knew, did you, that I reaped where I did not sow and gathered where I did not winnow?  Well, then, you ought to have deposited my silver monies with the bankers, and on my arrival I would be receiving what is mine with interest.’”—Matthew 25:19-25

The master could have worked with that attitude, it appears! Just take it to the bank if you feel that way, he says. Instead, the loutish slave dug in the ground and hid the silver money, (vs 25) working up a sweat so as to thwart the master’s will. it is as opposers do today. They go to considerable effort to thwart the work that they once took part it.

 

 

 

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