I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why

Searching for the why—at first glance, what could be easier? Just read the charges. But when Putin says, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I really don’t understand why they are persecuted”—there appears more to it than meets the eye. When Human Rights Watch says, “Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the plot thickens.
 
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Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that “traces everything from the start with accuracy.” Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that tells it from the believer’s point of view. Stripped of the red herrings that plagued Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, updated to the February 2021 present, and ever respectful towards the land of the bear, in most ebook forms it continues to be free, a labor of love.

Here are presented the modern-day Acts of Russia with regard to worship, the acts of believers and of those who oppose them. The acts of Russia have taken a dark and perplexing turn, puzzling even Putin. Can it be? The wizard who runs Oz doesn’t know how his contraption works? Here is a book that picks up where Baran’s Dissent on the Margins (2014) leaves off. The tale has not yet ended. But then, neither had the tale ended when Luke completed the first century Book of Acts.

Early in 2017, every Jehovah’s Witness in the world was invited to write letters to designated Russian officials, urging that justice be done in their case. I wrote one. Here is my expanded version.
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For a Limited Time Only—3 Barbs for that Speaker You Love to Tease

For a limited time only I have removed copyright protection on 3 playful retorts toward that speaker you love to tease:

  1. “When I hear you speak, I marvel at the wisdom of God’s organization in cutting public talks from 45 minutes to 30.”
  2. “Brother, if we ever have to give a hard-hitting message of doom, I think I would be very scared to do that. But if I had practice it might help. Can I announce it when you are scheduled to give the public talk?
  3. If, for whatever reason, turnout is noticeably light, say to that brother, “Do the friends think that you are giving the talk today?”

Now, remember. This is like spice. Don’t cover the plate with it. I don’t know what it is with guys. Once in a while it is women, but it is nearly always guys who crack non-stop (and usually corny corny corny) jokes. I think it is almost a nervous habit. These are generally very nice people, but, I mean, enough already!

Also don’t use it on anyone insecure in his speaking. Don’t use it on anyone you don’t know very well. And don’t be too cavalier about the power of a put-down, however much in jest. But with those preceding caveats—go for it.

Remember, the purpose of humor is to make the medicine go down. It is not to make you popular. If that happens, it is a by-product. And it is unpredictable—with some it will make you a pariah.

 

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 7

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

King Amenemhut I has a prophecy about himself. It is an Leningrad museum. He is prophesied as son of man. Previous ferrules [pharaohs] were son of Ray. [re—the sun-god] It is to say a commoner is destined to be King.

Brier thanks he may have been someone like a prime minister to the previous feral [pharaoh], not royalty.

Amenemhut does a land survey. It is as if to say “I have arrived.” The bad old days are gone. He has himself a pyramid build, just like in the good old days.

The opening of Amenemhut Pyramid, alligns north. Lines up with the North star, the north star is fixed. All the stars rotate around it. It is as if the feral [pharaoh] says I am fixed, I am just as stable.

He was murdered, Brier is pretty sure. But he had made his son as a call regent. [co-regent]How do you say the feral [pharaoh] was murdered, when the feral [pharaoh] is a God? ...1/2

How do you say the pharaoh is God when there are two coexisting ferrules? [pharaoh] Bob brings up, but doesn’t know the answer, to these questions....2/2

Six pharaohs with alternating names, Amenemhut alternates with Sesotris. Amenemhut II is grandson of Amenemhut.

Artwork that shows tired pharaohs, facially. Well-built, but tired, as the board [bored] with being feral? [pharaoh]

Papyrus exists supposedly from Amenemhut warning his son to always watch his back. ‘I was benevolent, and look where it got me,’ Very cynical papyrus, Bob Brier states.

One tired barrel [pharaoh] of that time built his pyramid with the entrance facing south, unlike all the others. To fool to robbers? It fooled Petrie the archaeologist....1/2

He found it only by excavating from the top street down until he hit the burial chamber. Even then it was an easy, for there were many passages that were dead ends...2/2

Amenemhut IV dies, he is the last of the dynasty. We don’t know too much about him. He has a temple, but it has been ruined. The dynasty ends with a queen, a sign of trouble, Bob says. Why didn’t they have a king?

Beginning of lecture 14, the second intermediate.

It is for the second time that Egypt civilization collapses almost totally, Brier says. In fact, he says Egypt is the only civilization ever to have completely collapsed twice and got its act back together both times.

If you build your pyramid in Dash sure [Dashur], Brier says, he calls it “going back to the good all days”. It is where feral Steven [Pharaoh Snefuru] build his massive pyramids. ...1/2

The others that the 12th dynasty built were not that good, the ones the intermediate. Were worse still....2/2

Did those later ferrules [pharaohs], pyramids, built in – have an inferiority complex? Bob uses the phrase. He thinks so lost half. One says, not since the days of Snefuru. A bit like the temple OK guys time [of Haggai’s time] that was good, but not like of old

And early feral [pharaoh] of that next period, Whore, [Hor] short for Horus, has a statue with two arms extended straight up from the head. Bob Lykins [likens] it to a referee signaling a field goal.

Again, Brier  point salt [out] that when the Greeks came in from the north, they saw this marshy triangular land at the mouth of the Nile. Because it was triangular, they called it the delta, their triangular letter. So all river deltas are named by the Greeks.

When Egyptology started, the motive was to prove the Bible. The first society so dedicated was called the Delta Exploration Society.

They dug in the Delta, hard to do because it has standing water, but they were looking for traces of the Israelites leaving Egypt.

In time it became known as the Egypt Exploration Society, I name it still holds.

The 14th and 13th dynasty, temples and tombs supposedly in the Delta, but the Delta is marshy and stuff has sunk down very hard to excavate and who knows if claimed temples are actually there? ...1/2

Bob doesn’t think much of the ferrules [pharaohs] of the 13th and 14th Dynasty.

Dynasty 15 is Egypt under foreigners....2/2

The Egyptians had a very special history, Brier says. They never kept records of the bad days.

The ferrules [pharaohs] of that time record no defeats. They just keep recording victories, each one closer to home, as they retreated.

This is the warmest day of the year so far. A beautiful spring day. 78. Low humidity. No box. [bugs] Mild breeze in the dog park. No wonder those agents [ancients] went bonkers in the spring, when the earth comes back to life.

I know my dog. It does not go in the water unless it is warm, to take a drink. Some dogs instantly head for it, warm day or not.

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Of this period, Egyptians worship south.[Seth] I let this pass unmentioned before, but Seth is the evil god from a prior lecture. How can a Gyptian’s were shipped [Egyptians worshipped] the evil God? Bob says we don’t really know. Maybe, he speculates...1/2

the evil god turned over a new leaf and became good....2/2

Many times, Brier says: we can’t really be sure of this, or we don’t really know much about that. I can’t help but wonder, what of the things he is sure of or thinks he does know? Is all of it that way?

The Hyksos [AI spelled this correctly—first try!] didn’t integrate well Brier says, they ruled from the north. Some have said they were the family of Joseph. Bob thinks they were illiterate. Reliefs are art work only, with no words.

There is no dynasty 16, Bob says, it’s a spurious dynasty. And he passes on to Dynasty 17, the dynasty that kick the pixels [Hyksos] out. Bob cheers this, the Egyptian‘s are back in charge—his guys.

“The hippo pot a mess [hippopotami] is in your pool are keeping me awake at night.They have to be silenced.” It’s a papyrus, from the last Hyksos king to the Prince of thieves [Thebes] 500 miles south. Inflammatory for sure.

The prince sends an army in retaliation. How does it turn out? No idea. The papyrus breaks off.

The first and the last part of the papyrus role is often no good the inside one so tightly wound that it breaks. the outside on the outside where it gets knocked around a lot.

The thieves king retaliates, dies in battle, as Bob thinks can be told from his mummy, which exists. His sons succeed in chasing the Hyksos out of Egypt, and to Palestine. Bob likes this. He sides with Egyptian’s always. They are his people.

Go to Part 8

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 5, 2021—Visit of the Circuit Overseer

Midweek Meeting:

For the “I...Am your Inheritance” opening talk the speaker made reference to the Wilkes-Barre convention. It was worrisome when the Rochester convention was cancelled with but 3 weeks to go, but a substitution was quickly made.

Someone commented on Numbers 19:22, “ Anything the unclean one touches will be unclean...” That’s how it works, it’s why Paul says “Bad associations spoil useful habits. Sometimes good rubs off on bad, but much more likely bad on good.

Another reference to how you just can’t thumb your nose at the whole arrangement, and how that triggers punishment more than the offense itself:...1/2

“But the man who is unclean and who will not purify himself, that person must be cut off from the congregation, because he has defiled Jehovah’s sanctuary. (Numbers 19:20)...2/2

That white brother has still not figured out how to put down his brown Zoom hand. Unless it is some sort of gesture of “solidarity,” but usually we figure we are solid enough in the congregation and don’t go in for such things....1/2

He does come from a liberal background, though. Hmm....2/2

The final student talk cites a favorite Rev 4:11 verse of mine: “You are worthy, Jehovah our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.” Of course.

Covid reminders is the topic of Local Needs. Really? I suppose. “Beware Caution Fatigue” was an Governing Body update not too long ago. There is a current resurgence.

“Happy is the man who is always on guard, But whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverb 28:14. But I have my app set on Reference Bible, which says the man is “feeling dread constantly.”

(Footnote on the Study Bible is: Or ‘who is never without fear’)

A smart phone is buzzing. Is it ours? my wife says. I don’t think so—our doesn’t sound like that. I think it is the speaker’s. Once, it did that onstage, and flummoxed, he answered it! “Wrong number,” he said after listening.

17 were announced aux pioneering for the month. That’s a lot. The CO is with us. It is his 6th visit? Is he gone? It is usually 6 and out. “You want our answer?”  the CO says. “We have no idea.” Next month they expect to find out.

My guess is they will stay—not mess with things during Zoom. On the other hand...Zoom may last awhile. Life must resume.

Weekend Meeting:

It is the Circuit Overseer’s visit this week. I wrote his opening talk up separately. The other two I won’t touch much on account of spoiler-alert. He gives the same talks over the course of 6 months. The title Sunday, tho, is ‘Jesus Christ—World Conquerer—How and When?’

He does bring his Dad into the picture—he always does. Dad, teaching his son how to drive the AstroVan onto metal ramps (to change the oil) and how that is daunting at first for fear you will drive over the edge, which he did. (and I did, too)

He drove it over a 2nd time! His brother (who had done it right) was cracking up with laughter, just like mine does when he wins at Scrabble by cheating. It’s embarrassing to drive over the ramps because you have to jack the car up to pull them out.

Of course, he uses his Dad to illustrate the Greater Dad. “Son, you’ve got this,” his dad reassured him after giving more instruction. And the third time he did it right.

Alas, my Dad didn’t teach me many practical skills. I called him out on it years later. “How come you didn’t teach me car or home repair?” “I did,” the amiable fellow replied, “but you weren’t paying attention that day.”

Watchtower Study:

63 scriptures! [the conductor’s count, not mine. I just knew there were a lot.] in the Watchtower study—unusually high. What an impossible study to cut in two because the circuit overseer is visiting.

The Head of Every Man is the Christ’ is the theme. Sorry, with no paragraphs read, I can’t quite take the time to tweet.

Except for the opening verse about ‘making the word of God invalid because of your tradition.’ (Mark 7:13) I thought of Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye sings on and on about tradition.

Much as I like that musical, if it is of things on which God provides instruction (not everything is), should not he be singing ‘invalid?’

It’s sort of too bad. This article, counsel for husbands, unusually heavy with scriptures, deserves a full hour. Next week’s follow-up, counsel for wives, will not be truncated, as the CO has moved on. “That’s about right,” I tell my wife.

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 6

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

After the first Egyptian dynasty period of six dynasties, comes the intermediate period, About which we know almost nothing, says Bob Brier.

Kurt Mendelson gets credit; he’s written books that Bob thinks is wrong. But Bob likes that he thinks things through. Kurt thinks Egypt went into decline when priests persuaded people that temple pyramid building was wrong ...

and this led to unemployed laborers, who got so rowdy that the country went into downfall. Bob thinks he’s all wet. But who can say?

Manetho says of the first intermediate period that there were 70 Kings in 70 days. It’s not literal, Bob says. But it means turnover was high, or there were kings raining [reigning] consecutively in different places.

Bob Brier explains the period of limitations, [Lamentations] of the middle., By saying “people are complaining” it’s as good an explanation as any. And the Bible book of Lamentations is not the only such collections out there!

The value of a book of Lamentations is from the early middle period. In that, from what they are bitching about, you can piece together what went wrong in the intermediate., About which Bob says we know almost no nothing, even though they lasted as long as the current history of the United States.

Bob repeats that Snefaru was his favorite feral, [Phoraoh] for he taught the Egyptians how to build pyramids . The book of Lamentations longs for the good all days of Snefaru..

When Egyptian’s traveled, which they almost never did because Egypt was the best place on earth, and it rained, which it never did and Egypt, they said “this land has its Nile in the sky.” 

That was bad. Their Nile flowed down the middle, predicable and always there. It didn’t fall haphazardly, unpredictable and not always there.

Lamentations is about divine order and social order being turned upside down. It rather reminds of the Ecclesiastes verse of foot soldiers on horseback, and princes plodding along on fort. 

“I have seen servants on horses but princes walking on the earth just like servants.” Ecclesiastes 10:7

Egypt was the worlds largest bureaucracy, the first one to systematically tax. They text [taxed] according to how high was the Nile. The higher it was, the better your crops should have been.

Oh. OK. Another reason the intermediate is so hard to study is that the capital Memphis is gone. It is underwater. Two or 3 feet. Probe with a pole if you are excavating, hit something and somehow dig down to find what you have hit

So, the middle period consists of the 11th and 12th dynasties. I’ve got it now. The dynasties are consecutively numbered, and then imposed upon them is, first period, intermediate, middle, and so forth.

Bob likes the dynasty that built the pyramids, the first period. Which consisted of the first six Dynasty’s, though the fifth and sixth was all downhill, maybe even the fourth. I forget.

Bob has reached the point in history where he comes across the feral [Pharaoh] described as the first dog lover. He had five dogs. One of them was named Blackie. [this revelation caused Samson to stop in his tracks and suddenly take notice.]

This is not Sampson the Bible hero, who pushes apart the pillars. This is Samson the dog, who pees on them.

Egyptian’s were pet lovers. Look under any chair or table in the artwork, and there is often a pet. Samson is very interested now. Oh. Bob just said cats are the most highly prized Pat. Samson has lost interest, and pulls on his leash. Time to get a move on, he thinks.

I forget the rationale, but Bob is calling Kings by the name of Intel [Intef] now, first beginning with the 11th and 12th dynasties

The Egyptian’s loved words that were on the wedding poetic. [onomatopoetic]Cat was they ‘meaw.’ Donkey was a ‘ee-aw.’ Wine was urp. Bob thinks it is from burp, which is what you would do after much wine

Almost always. Middle kingdom burials are lying on their side, facing west. “They know where they’re going,” says Brier.

It is during the intermediate that all the tools [tombs] are robbed. That is one of the themes of limitations. [lamentations] “Kings have been cast up.” That is, they were dug up from their burial tubes and just cast on the earth as robbers made off with there stuff.

The New York Metropolitan Museum of art displays nearly everything at the house. There’s nothing in the basement. Unusual for a museum, which is often keeping the good stuff out of sight.

Winlock, 1920 Director of the New York Museum of Art, excavated in Egypt. He found many cool things. His museum has health [half], the Cairo Museum has the other half. It was the deal back then. Today, Egypt keeps all.

A certain religious figure is described by Bob as the Ka priest. Were the ‘ah’ sound, as in Brooklyn .Sorry, but my mind wandered to a used car lot where the star salesman might be called a cah priest.

Death Comes in the End, an Agatha Christie novel, was based on the Haggadah letters that Winthrop discovered. Agatha’s husband was an Egyptologist. She knew Egyptology.

The 11th dynasty, in the middle period, starts to restore Egypt to its heyday. Recall it started to go downhill beginning with the fifth dynasty of the first period. No more lectures for a while, until I get the next batch of CDs from the library.

Walking the dog, finishing up now, I’m passing through a field  and I see many discarded masks. Did you know that those things are not biodegradable? They leave trace plastic everywhere, and animals ingest them. 

And don’t get me going about plastic in the waterways. Someone this picture says more that 10K words will:

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Of course, that reminds me of the NPR story about the plastic scam. 10% of all discarded plastic has been recycled, no more. It’s not feasible to recycle, for new is cheaper, and the recycled is not as good. And the makers always knew it but tried to salve public conscience to go full steam ahead with sales.

Somehow I’ll let that stand as a metaphor for this entire system of things, that promises so much, has you believing it for decades, and only toward the end do you find it delivered just 10%, if that.

Go to Part 7

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I Knew the Punchline

The circuit overseer related how one couple divorced after 60 years marriage—or was it an anecdote he related? It hardly matters, for it served not to illustrate marriage, but to distinguish between faithful and loyal. The two partners in marriage had been faithful, but they had not been loyal.

I knew the punch line before he arrived at it. I knew it because many years ago Garrison Keillor had told the story on A Prairie Home Companion.

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An elderly couple appears before judge to say they want a divorce. He’s 95. She’s 89. “Why do you want a divorce?” the judge says. “Because we don’t like each other. We have never gotten along. It has always been awful.”  “My.gracious!” the judge asks in astonishment, “Why did you ever wait so long?”

“Well—we had to wait for the children to die. The shock would have killed them,” is the reply.

So it was with the circuit overseer’s story—they had to wait for the children to die. Keillor played it for laughs, not the tragedy it really would be. His ‘Tales from Lake Wobegon’ monologue series was immensely popular in the 80s, poking gentle fun at the people of his fictional Minnesotan home-town. One of their attributes was that they would do their duty even if it killed them.

The show’s popularity landed him on the cover of Time Magazine (leading him to write the song Mr. Coverboy). Did the divorce story filter down from Garrison to the C.O, or did both of them pick it up from an actual experience? In a country of 300 million people, it has probably happened many times.

The circuit overseer wasn’t talking about marriage—not that he hasn’t done so many times before, but he was not this time. He was speaking of loyalty to God. The word loyalty has a sticking connotation to it, he said, as he displayed a photo of foxtail barley along side one of barnacles. Both stick, but the first dislodge fairly easily. The second you cannot get off if your life depends upon it. So, with regard to sticking with God, the second is the one to go for.

It is one of those scenarios in which creation provides something that humans allow themselves to be instructed by without crediting the creator. I love posting about this and have done so before. In this case it is how scientists research the ingredients of barnacle glue so as to make better glue themselves. There are four ingredients to loyalty, the circuit overseer identified—appreciation, self-control, love, and faith—and he went on to analyze each one.

Appreciation took him to Psalm 116, the first eleven verses containing more or less eleven reasons, some overlapping, to be appreciative. This was followed up with the rhetorical verse 12 question, “What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me?” The CO’s own take was that appreciation unexpressed was like a present wrapped but not given.

Self-control launched into controlling one’s thoughts, speech, and actions. It begins with thoughts. Thus, 2 Corinthians 10:5 came into play, that “we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.” We are the landlords of our minds, he said, the one who decides with thought stay and which ones are evicted. Why would you ever view entertainment that plants thoughts in your mind to make that job more difficult?

Love was next, the “perfect bond of union,” according to Colossians 3:14. “Keep seeking not own advantage, but that of the other person, (1 Corinthians 10:24) does wonders for that quality, in this case the “other person” being God.

Faith was the last of four discussed. It triggered discussion of faithful, and that led into the opening anecdote of the couple seeking divorce after so many years.

It is a special week of activity when the circuit overseer hits town. Besides the ministry, he gives three talks, one of his own devising and two from Bethel. To fit two of them in on Sunday, the Watchtower Study is cut in two, and the paragraphs are not read. COs hardly ever sit though a full-length Watchtower Study. One COs wife told of a time she did that she thought it would never end.

Garrison even made mention of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his show. Reflecting the confidence you gain after you have acted in an opera, he said: “When Jehovah’s Witnesses come around, you don’t just hide. You go out and talk to them.”

 

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 5

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Lecture 9-10

Oh my. The individual tweets from Egypt are coming out pretty rough. AI does a number on them. I dress them up later for the blog post, but—should I spare followers these tweets? AI somehow managed to put a Starbucks in Ancient Egypt.

I am going to rename the Pharaohs on account of AI. Not only it screws up the names, but even one or two words on either side. Sometime I can’t decipher the sentence I have tweeted. So if you read about Richard the pyramid builder, don’t worry. I’ll make it right in the blog

Or put brackets to indicate the correction.

Now Bob is talking about the Great Pyramid. And he’s about to go into conspiracy theories. Let’s see what he has to say. Incidentally the builder of the Great Pyramid was Kenny [Khufu], son of Steven [Snefaru], who built the first one

Bob relayed some stories about the pyramid, it’s magical qualities, he doesn’t buy that I had never heard myself. 

Napoleon went inside the Great Pyramid as his men marched around it. He asked to be left alone for a time. When he emerged, he was Adam.[ashen—thanks, AI] People asked him why, he would not tell them. Even on. St. Helena . He almost told someone. And then didn’t.

The Great Pyramid was built with free men, paid.Not slaves. Very little slave labor in Egypt, Bob says. The time of the Exodus was much later.

90,000 men working in three shifts.

Howard [Herodotus] the Greek historian said a Gyptian’s [Egyptians, not ‘a Gyptians’] used machines. Did he mean levers? There is no written record of how the pyramids were built. Like a trade secret.

There is a helicopter hovering 200 yards away. With a guy perched on the runner. Are they setting him down atop the power tower? I think so. Let me get it from a different angle.

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Yes. It is somehow servicing the tower. Didn’t Jehovah make flying things that are soundless? Lord, this thing is noisy!!

Oh, and in case anyone is confused, this helicopter I see while walking the dog and narrating the Egyptian tweets. I’m not saying the helicopter is in ancient Egypt.

No more than 2 inches variation of level over 2 acres. Precise, but no great need for mathematics, says Bob. Still, I am reminded of Smart Ancient Syndrome (SAS). Just once I would like to see archaeologist say, my God these people were stupid! But no, it is always about how smart they were.

Tourists enter the Great Pyramid by the robber’s entrance. It was chiseled in the ninth century. The actual entrance was unknown. Today it is known, but sealed up.

Here is a pup that just brought his ball to me on the end of a strap. Dropped it at my feet. He wants me to fling it! I do and he runs happily to fetch it. Uh oh. Now he is bringing it back.

They use core bald [“corbelling”] step ceilings to relieve the weight on pyramid ceilings. I have avoided this word because a, I wasn’t sure what it was, and B, I know full well that AI would mess it all up

It is how the upper portions of the interior rooms gradually come together in a series of step-like patterns to distribute the weight. If you were upside down, you could climb them from the top as though climbing stairs..

Two theories on how the mass of stones got so high. A long ramp. That would have been a quarter-mile. A huge undertaking in itself. Or corkscrewing around the structure as it is being erected. I think I have read massive objections to both simply

as a matter of moving that much mass. Don’t know if he will go there or not. At this point, it seems like he will breeze over them as to trivial appoint to consider.

Yes, he does not expand. But does say how you can’t get a sheet of paper between the blocks. A remarkable achievement, Bob says, and then moves on to the trick of coordinating so many people to do it. 

Oh OK. He attributes it to the power of a god-king, who can lean into people, make them do what he wants. That’s why he likes powerful kings so much. I’m not sure I buy that either. I mean, they can lean into him, but I’m still not sure with what result.

While all the other dogs run around the dog park, there are six now in total, but my old dog walks straight up to the people and stands by them. They always like him. One of them called him wise.

If I am right there Bob ignores the physical impossibility of certain feeds, or at least extreme improbability, then it is an example of how this system of things work. People become brilliant in their own fields, not worrying overmuch about how or if they link to other fields.

You really don’t get as much battery life as you think you should. No wonder they sell them by the dump truck load at Costco. The first time my batteries went dead, I didn’t recognize the problem. I had expected the narrative to slow down, as it would on a cassette tape.

Bob blows away the theories of some competing archaeologists. They’re wrong, he says. They probably are. Bob represents the majority view

Bob represents the majority view, and he has the platform for that reason, but so much of history is the victor writes the rules. How much of it is true here? He presents it all very well, but what of that verse that the rival comes through and says it all differently.

”The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.” Proverbs 18:17

The Greek archaeologists of another lecture series stated, What if you found figurines and Arches? Are they gods and temples? Or are they Barbie dolls and McDonald’s?

No, Napoleons troops did not shoot off the nose of the spanks. [Sphinx]  Napoleon would not have allowed it.. He revered history. And a prior relief of the spanks shows its nose already shut off.

One portion of the Sphinxes beard is in the Egyptian museum. Another portion in the British Museum. Egypt would like it back. Bob thinks the British would like to give it back.

But they don’t give it back due to the president. [precedent]  Give the beard back, and next thing you know, they will want the Rosetta stone back.

Almost all Egyptian tombs were west of the Nile. They even said, he’s a westerner, just as people say, ‘He’s gone south.’ Why west?  Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Ra was the sun god.

Last king of the 6th dynasty—Pepi II, is the longest ruling king in history. Ruled from a boy till his death at 98.  Bob thinks maybe that’s why the old kingdom collapsed. He is a god-king, and thus cannot be supplanted. But he is too old to lead armies. Do I buy this?

Go to Part 6

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 26, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

Yikes! The speaker today has a deep pink background. It makes for no doubt as to which of the Zoom boxes is talking. #weekendmeeting

Now he is developing the birdcatcher scenario of Psalm 91. He has bird graphics, of a child trying to catch one—hard to do with eyes on both side of head,

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and of hen guarding chicks so they are protected.

Desire for fame, money, freedom from restriction—the baits used to trap human birds today? he brings up the idea.

destructive pestilence of vs 3 (psalm 91) spreads quickly, —he ties it in with nationalism, & mushrooming number of sovereignties, separatist groups over the decades. Neutrality lets one ‘escape’ the plague.

‘Stay in the Secret Place of the Most High’ is the talk theme, a close look at Psalm 91.

‘Just like water can wear away a rock’—he uses the metaphor to how we are not immune to what we immerse ourselves in.

Isa 54:17: No weapon formed against you will have any success—you will condemn any tongue that rises up against you...the heritage of those who trust in Jehovah.

How can gloom and brightness coexist? a metaphor, He refers to the modern human enlightenment that people must cope with. Vs 6: “Nor of the pestilence that walks in the gloom, Nor of the destruction that despoils at midday”

“A thousand will fall at your very side And ten thousand at your right hand; To you it will not come near.” Vs 7. I recall a visiting college student who took it all literally, as lyrics in the song, and didn’t like it on that account.

“No calamity will befall you, And not even a plague will draw near to your tent” Ps 91:10, pitch tent in the secret place of Most High & gain protection. Pick up the tent and shove off...

He goes on to consider immorality as a trap, another bait.

“Upon the young lion and the cobra you will tread; You will trample down the maned young lion and the big snake.” 91:13.  You-know-who is likened to both those things.

The narrator switches in Ps 91, the speaker says, one the person deciding, then people observing, then God himself promising. end of talk. “He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress....1/2

I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, And I shall cause him to see salvation by me.”...2/2

Well-received. If I recall correctly (I might not) this speaker moved in from the West coast several years ago.

Keep Cultivating Tender Affection’ is the theme of the Watchtower Study today.

Oh uh...trouble finding the reader. He just sent a text that he had lost internet.

The Wt conductor read that first paragraph himself, while the reader was knocked offline. First paragraphs had to do with some of the downside of technology. Tell me about it.

He introduces another reader as “pinch hitter.” When my laptop goes down, it takes several minutes to restore. But my tablet never loses connection.

The speaker, who had a deep pink background, leaving no doubt which Zoom box was speaking, now is commenting with his wife in another room—of deep red background!

My wife demurred because a certain bro cited her favorite verse before she could: “Can a woman forget her nursing child Or have no compassion for the son of her womb? Even if these women forget, I would never forget you.” Isa 49:15

Comment from Paul. If you say, “whatever happened to so and so?” who used to be in the congregation, the circuit, or even the world, you ask Paul. He will know. He keeps up. ...1/2

That is why he can say in service, “We are calling because we truly have concern for our neighbors.” It is true of him....2/2

“In fact, it was after David killed Goliath that Jonathan began to love David as himself. How can we show such tender affection for our brothers and sisters? Hmm. Am I the only one who reads “Go kill a baddie” as the first answer that comes to mind on this?

The conductor called on someone, but then noted ‘the hand just went down.’ “That’s okay!” my wife hurriedly said, and then inserted her comment. She had lowered her hand accidentally. Was my grin visible to the whole congregation?

The brother who was heir to a Western oil family just commented. That family nudged him out upon his becoming a Witness. Whenever in service with him and we drive past a filling station, I say, “Look, Bob—Texas tea!”

This ‘Jonathan and David’ friendship things rings true with me because with my Best Man and me there was almost as great an age difference. A life-long mechanic, he taught me how to buy a used car without getting fleeced.

One brother, who chaired a service meeting recently, had 3 weather dials at his left shoulder—temperature, humidity, barometric pressure. In a tiny Zoom box, it looked like he was on TV and by turning a knob you could tune him in better.

“but with humility consider others superior to you.” (Read Philippians 2:3.) This verse is so good that it is on my list of verses of which I say in service: “I want to read a scripture, you tell me what you think, and I’m gone. ...1/2

So easy to both pose and answer the question of how that is possible....2/2

There were quite a few in the congregation who mentioned acts of ‘tender affection’ directed toward them.

(Saw a bit of The Ten Commandments last night, Easter weekend, 4 hours epic, restored, with Charlton Heston as Moses. It has been decades since I’ve seen it. I went to bed before they even crossed the Red Sea, for I know how it turns out....1/2

And it is so thrilling when the Israelites finally learn God’s name! It it ‘The LORD!’ Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?...2/2)

On list of announcements after meeting is one about life gradually opening from pandemic. Included: “Whether someone chooses to be vaccinated is a personal decision,” and urged people not be pressured either way.

Meanwhile, we will tend towards more caution in opening. Still no in-person preaching, continue with safety measures—wash hands, do distancing, wear protection. Kingdom Halls closed until approved by branch office.

I am told afterwards that the speaker overcame a serious stuttering problem. Never in 1000 years would I have thought it.

Midweek Meeting: (scheduled Bible reading: Numbers 15-16)

There was a fellow named On, and the speaker handling Numbers 16 suggested he might have switched sides and saved himself. On the other hand, maybe be was On the spot that the earth opened up and swallowed.

The longer we have been around, the more privileges we have enjoyed, the more humble we should be, says the speaker. My friend told me of working with such a brother in Asia, who had had much responsibility, who  would nod and smile ...1/2

and only say something was a hare-brained idea if specifically drawn out about it. “Do you think this is a good idea?” “No, brother,” he would reply, still smiling....2/2

In today’s age, the fellow picking up sticks just after God said not to do so on the Sabbath would be defended as someone just picking up wood, missing the point that you just can’t thumb your nose at the entire arrangement.

Right here: “If any person should sin by mistake,” there is a provision. ...‘“But the person who does something deliberately” is in hot water. It is the deliberation, not the offense itself, that matters. (Numbers 15:27,30_

“Very well said,” replies the chairman to a comment that was not very well said at all.

The only way for Numbers 16:41 to make any sense—“On the very next day, the whole assembly of the Israelites began to murmur against Moses and Aaron, saying: “You two have put Jehovah’s people to death,” ...1/2

is if the clowns had come to think them as magicians who could open up the earth at will....2/2

“Okay, that might raise the ire of someone but it might work if done kindly,” replies the chairman to a suggestion almost guaranteed to infuriate a householder. It will be intended kindly, but will almost certainly be misunderstood. #midweekmeeting

The best video example of disgruntled talk “spreading like gangrene” (2 Timothy 2:17) that I have ever seen. Also the new sister that likes to confide in just a certain elder, and his wife isn’t too happy about it. And the gambling scenario might fit Wall Street Bets, blowing up on some today. And that teenage sister overacted just a little bit in swooning over her male classmate.

Psalm 137:7 was not in the Ezekiel lesson, but it certainly fits: “Remember, O Jehovah, regarding the sons of Eʹdom the day of Jerusalem, Who were saying: “Lay [it] bare! Lay [it] bare to the foundation within it!”...1/2

I used it in ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ as an example of former members turning upon the faith, which happened in Russia...2/2

I worried the conductor was going to wait for an answer to the question he said was rhetorical, but he didn’t. My bad.

Going back a lesson or two to Ezekiel’s acting out the siege of Jerusalem, the book says “That enactment, which Ezekiel must have performed for only a part of each day...” Of course. Makes a lot more sense than my version:

 

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And Jehovah’s anger began growing very hot, and in the eyes of Moses it was bad

I had the Bible reading tonight. [now a few weeks ago.] It is a good one, too, not one of those Leviticus jobs that evoke all the emotion of reading a grocery list. Numbers 11:1-15, in which the Israelites start bellyaching over how good the chow was in Egypt. The trick here is not to overact. #midweekmeeting.

There was an Italian circuit overseer who used to draw out, savor, and caress the garlic of Numbers 11:5. “How fondly we remember the fish that we used to eat without cost in Egypt, also the cucumbers, [and]...the GARLIC!” Will I? Am I Italian? Now if the verse had said coffee... I would outdo the Italian brother, launch myself into the air, and come down on a cloud of ecstasy like that cartoon dog.

....

In the breakout rooms afterward there was a lot of chitchat about the Bible reading. Since I had given it, I was more up on those verses than otherwise.

Moses’ complaint to Jehovah—whoa! What freeness of speech. It almost comes across as “wild talk:” “Have I myself conceived all this people?”—it is almost a rant—“Is it I who have given them birth, so that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, just as the male nurse carries the suckling,’ to the soil about which you swore to their forefathers?  From where do I have meat to give to all this people? For they keep weeping toward me, saying, ‘Do give us meat, and let us eat!’”

But God just absorbs it, because Moses is on the edge: “So if this is the way you are doing to me, please kill me off altogether, if I have found favor in your eyes, and let me not look upon my calamity.” If he’s ready to off himself, this is not the time to counsel him on decorum. Instead, God starts up the process that will take much of the load off Moses.

So what if you are the teacher having charge of a truly rotten group of students—they misbehave at the drop of a pin, and they are doing so when the principal walks in. You don’t think that will cause you plenty of stress? As though, even though you know you did your best, maybe you are somehow responsible for their unruliness; maybe you could and should have done more. It’s not a breeze for you either when the principal is glowering over the class. You’re a little scared of him, too. I mean, you want to show him an orderly classroom, not one that is in full mutiny.

I love this one: (vs 10): “And Jehovah’s anger began growing very hot, and in the eyes of Moses it was bad.” What is bad? That the people are whining like babies, or that he sees Jehovah is going to blow over it? And when he does, it’s going to blow up right in Moses’ face, for he is the one given responsibility for these characters. No wonder he cries out, “I am not able, I by myself, to carry all this people, because they are too heavy for me.”

The above rendering is from the Reference NWT Bible, and I read the entire passage from this version by mistake. I am always changing the app back and forth to different Bibles and then I forget to change it back again. But I think here the rendering is better than the “improvement.” For the 2013 version just says in verse 10 that Moses was “displeased.”

“And Jehovah became very angry, and Moses was also very displeased.” It is not as good. They simplified it too much. The new rendering doesn’t preserve Moses’ unease that here the people are carrying on outrageously and maybe somehow it is his fault.

It couldn’t have been a piece of cake for Moses to “fear God” and yet be him immediate link to the Israelites. Yes, I know how we spin “fear God” as fear of displeasing him. I have no problem with that, but the fear of displeasing him also must way heavily on anyone having such close interactions with the Most High. I mean, suppose you express puzzlement as to where the meat to feed these characters is going to come from. “The hand of Jehovah is short, is it?” comes the answer. I’m just glad it was Moses, and not me. Of course, there is a good reason it was Moses and not me, but that still doesn’t mean the stress on Moses might not have come solely from the disobedient people.

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 22-28, 2021

This weekend there was no regular meeting due to the Memorial of Christ’s death celebrated Saturday night. Most members linked to a discussion of the daily text that morning, which of course, was a discussion of that occasion.

Weekday Meeting: Yikes! That brother who so frequently forgets to unmute himself begins the meeting by forgetting to unmute himself. #midweekmeeting

To one idiot who said the Bible MEANS what it SAYS and SAYS what it MEANS, and every word is LITERALLY TRUE, John Caister quoted Leviticus 20:24 and told him to get out the hip boots for slogging through that milk and honey. #midweekmeeting

That one sister gave a downside to returning to Egypt not usually mentioned—they would not be able to observe the Mosaic law there, only recently given them. Plainly, that law wasn’t that big of a deal to 10 of the 12. ...1/2

They were even saying to one another: “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt!” (Numbers 14:4)...2/2

“If, though, we became obsessed with guilt over our past mistakes, we could begin to doubt whether Jehovah has really “blotted out” all our sins. (Acts 3:19)”

Only 2 days ago did I speak to someone in need of this advice

That congregation member who went on to serve as a need-greater in Myanmar just returned from that assignment today, hoping to go back eventually, but not sure if it will be feasible.

“I didn’t know what their reaction would be. Sometimes you imagine people laughing at you.”

Everyone likes Nita and Jade, on the program this eve. I admit that when I first heard her respond to the Learn Bible Truth sign with “Give me a truth,” I did not understand her for the accent. I am American, after all.

“I’m not sure who Galaxy x-9 is” the conductor says. If it was me, I would answer in a robotic voice just to get him going.

You must admit that the video plays up the wholesomeness of Nita’s life and the disorder that is Jade. Ah well, it’s only 2 or 3 minutes long and you have to pack in the point

My wife looks at me whenever I sing words that aren’t there, or substitute words that don’t necessarily make any sense. “Huh! The brothers got the words wrong,” I tell her.

I liked that video of the bro reflecting on maintaining neutrality in 1970s Zaire. Intimidating for declining flag salute, for not joining the one political party, demoted for those reasons, which made daily needs difficult, he nonetheless held firm throughout is life.

The preceding (of Zaire) prompted the conductor to quote Ernest Hemingway: “Courage is grace under pressure.” How many elders would do that? (or know that?) I didn’t.

I am the reader this eve for the Ezekiel book, but the reading is canceled for lengthy announcements. Only the read scriptures I do. Like “Very soon I will pour out my rage on you, and I will fully unleash my anger against you, and I will judge you according to your ways...1/2

and call you to account for all your detestable deeds. (Ezekiel 7:8) Well, now that you put it THAT way. Pretty sobering stuff....2/2

“They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will become abhorrent to them. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them .” Many times I have heard these words of Ezekiel 7:19.

Yikes! This time it was ME that didn’t unmute! (I blame my computer—but not aloud—no one wants to hear it.) There is someone who not only almost always forgets to unmute, but, once unmuted, feels obliged to explain how it happened.

Of course, that gold in the streets verse is tied in with something like Matthew 6:24: “24“No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.”

Appropriate announcements about the Memorial, the upcoming visit of the CO, someone’s relative who died, and several who will be aux pioneering, and we’re done.

Two toddlers in the congregation. Everybody oohs and ahhs over zoom at how they have grown,

One sister in a big house tells in the breakout rooms how the hamster got loose and fell 2 stories down the vents, but shook it off and carried on.

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....The Memorial itself was not live-tweeted, of course. But I posted some of it later here”

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Object Lessons at the Memorial Talk.

The Memorial speaker spent more than the usual time (so it seemed to me) in discussion of how many had the heavenly hope, and, if they did not, were they stuck with some second-rate inferior “earth” promise? Moreover, if anyone did need hand-holding on this matter, it was okay. Adam left us all to die, he pointed out. It is okay to need reassurance.

How many Senators are there in the United States, he asked. 100. How many Representatives? 435. How many in total constitute the government? 535. How do we know that? Because it is written. Where is it written? In the Constitution. You can see where this is going. The number of humans to rule in the heavenly government is also written in the Christian “Constitution.” It is 144,000.

535 to represent a nation of 330 million. 144,000 to represent a nation of ultimately several billion. It’s about right. Close enough. Furthermore, since the beginning of time, God has determined where his creatures will serve him. Angels will serve him in heaven, humans on earth, and “no one has ever had an issue with this.” We don’t choose where we serve him, he pointed out, but we do choose if we serve him..

I haven’t figured this out yet, and it wasn’t part of the talk, but one of the four groups of Jews active in Jesus’s day (Essenes—the only ones not specifically mentioned in the Bible, in contrast to Pharisees, Sadducees, and a political type sometimes called Zealots) is described by Bart Ehrman as Jews who didn’t think or carry on as though their home were in this world, but in the next. They lived on earth, of course, but didn’t feel they belonged. They tended to hole up in separate colonies, where they hubbubed with each other. This so reminds one of an uptick over the last 2 or 3 decades of those partaking of emblems, although they do not fit the “profile” (faithful Christians with a long track record of faith and works) that you wonder what is going on. Not all of these ones remain in the congregation. There are some who depart, like Essenes themselves, and thereafter express concerned that their anointed status is not more widely recognized.

Or speaker next talked about his home life as a teen. He does this a lot and most in the circuit have come to feel they know his father. The telephone would ring. They didn’t have each one his own smart phone like people do today, he said. There was one phone in the house. He, our speaker, said how he always hoped it was one particular person, one especially sweet someone. Dad would always pick up the phone. By his tone and initial words, our speaker knew the call was not for him. It was for dear old dad. Thereafter, he didn’t have any interest in it—it wasn’t for him. He certainly had no need of asking his Dad—was the call really for him? much less reassuring him that the call was or questioning him on how he knew it was.

This is the same dad who played it cool when our speaker said how, as a teen, he had announced he would no longer go to meetings because they were repetitious. The old man took it in stride. The son was relieved. He had no idea that it would go so well.

That evening he even made the boy peanut butter sandwiches. The kid loved peanut butter sandwiches, and Dad didn’t pinch pennies with the peanut butter, as he sometimes did, to say nothing of the jam.

The next day the boy made his own peanut butter sandwich, as he did each day. “What are you doing?!” Dad asked incredulously, as though the boy has taken leave of his senses. He was not satisfied with the boy’s answer. “I forbid you to eat that sandwich,” he decreed, with all of his dadhood authority.

Of course, the problem was that it was the same old food he’d eaten yesterday—it was repetitive. And with that, Dad reasoned the boy back to the meetings. He might have made the kid go back on any account, until the boy turned of age, and was off on his own. That’s what parents do. If you do not teach your child, it does not mean that they grow up free and unencumbered, and, when of age, select their own values from the rich cornucopia of life. No. All it means is that someone else will teach them. Why should a parent relinquish that God-given responsibility?

He spins a yarn like this from his boyhood each time he comes, and he comes every 6 months. He is our circuit overseer and how we snagged him as our Memorial speaker I haven’t a clue.

Everyone greeted him on the Zoom squares beforehand. How are you doing? they wanted to know. “I’ll feel better after an hour,” he said. He was just making polite humble banter. But I took him at his word. “If even Jack is nervous,” I said, “what hope is there for rest of us?” Jack is a gifted speaker.

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