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.
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

My Meeting Notes: Week of September 12, 2022

The speaker spun a riddle the answer to which was ‘koala.’ Nobody got it and he apologized for his “low koality” riddle. Had he added a few ‘action’ hints, such as ‘eats eucalyptus leaves,’ instead of just general description adjectives that apply to many animals, doubtless the solution would have presented itself at once. F96E79E0-6C6E-461E-BD93-0B0BC9CE6614

He applied his low koality riddle, which could have been high koality had he but included action hints, to faith. Faith also is made manifest by actions. Without them it is hard to say if it is real or not.

He considered why God wants us to have faith and boiled it down to three factors that benefit us. It puts our minds at ease over past sins, since a ‘clean conscience is the best pillow.’ It calms anxieties over worsening world conditions. And it provides comfort when someone we love dies.

He tied in PTSD, observing that it was once supposed only a consequence of war or terrible violence but is now recognized as a possible consequence to enduring any traumatic experience. Think of it as a “normal reaction to an abnormal experience.” Adapting to a pandemic might so qualify, he said.

It occurred to me as very slick that with the pandemic shutting down Kingdom Halls, a circumstance most disquieting, within the week it was announced that meetings would continue as before, only on “Zoom rooms.” Zoom rooms—it rhymes. Did someone play with Geo Jackson’s words briefly that not only does Jehovah do things but he does them “with style?”

Coming to the role of the faithful and discreet slave as well as appointed elders, he pointed out that their perceived full-time role was not that of teachers, or judges, though they do both of that on occasion, but that of shepherds. “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” Their role is that of full time guardians or watchman. If it seems nannying or overprotective at times (my thought, not his), that’s why. Since the flock was purchased with the blood of God’s Son, they don’t want to be lackadaisical over their job

Isn’t Bro Morris the one who said, ‘the more prestigious the university, the greater the contamination?’ (words to that effect, if not verbatim)

When I mentioned to the prior CO about college, he answered how in his previous well-to-do circuit, out of 100 that had gone to college after high school, only a small handful remained in the truth. I might have thoughts on how to mitigate that damage; still, the bare facts don’t speak well for faith thriving in the higher education environment

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

A Review of ‘Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses:’ Part 2 (Resolving Matters the Next Time Around)

(See Part 1)

How does an eight to one Supreme Court decision go six to three the other way in just the scan of three years? Did the justices who switched sides have their Acts 9:3 road to Damascus revelation?—“Hey! Why are you guys opposing me? Knock it off!”

The book Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Shawn Francis Peters, examines their later admissions. They were cowed that first time around! They were bullied! They were ‘manipulated!’ Where are the anti-cultists when you need them?

The three ‘flipflopping’ justices were bowled away by the stature of then Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter, who wrote the majority opinion in Minersville School District vs Gobitas: ‘Make those Witness students salute the flag! Kick them out of school if they do not! Oh—and don’t worry about misspelling Gobitis’s name (Court records have it has ‘Gobitas’) Who cares?’

They dared not cross him. “Felix mesmerized us . . . [he] was passionate about the flag and what it meant to him,” one of those justices recalled. Felix was the justice who would walk the corridors of the Supreme Court merrily whistling ‘Stars and Stripes Forvever. (Pg 52) The other three were newbies—scared to take him on!

Moreover, Justice Douglass laments, the powerful dissent of Harlan Stone, author of the minority opinion that later became the majority—he had not yet made that opinion known. When he did, these guys felt it was too late to switch sides. They could have been ‘manipulated’ the other way! Where are the anti-cultists when you need them?

They fretted about it. Coming down to the wire, too chicken to change their vote, Peters’ book quotes Justice Black murmuring, “What are we going to do? Stone is right. . . . But we were wiped out by Felix emotional appeal.”  (P237)  “We decided to redress the wrong the next time around.”

CD5269F9-47F3-4089-AE6C-C0DAE4B3B55FThis calls to mind Parkinson’s Law, that book by C. Northcote Parkinson that undertakes to express “laws” of business and human nature in mathematical terms. Illustrating the law that the time devoted to an item varies inversely to its expense, the author presents a board meeting considering its first item on the agenda, whether to approve construction of an atomic reactor. The item passes almost instantly because few know much about atomic reactors—some don’t even know what one is—but nobody wants to confess their ignorance before their peers. They approve it. However, they do so with many a private misgiving Members inwardly feel that they haven’t pulled their weight. They resolve to make up for that deficiency with the next item.

The next item is whether to construct a bicycle shed for the employees. They discuss at great length, since they didn’t do much on the previous item. However, the ‘great length’ at which they discuss this item is nothing compared with the length of the final item on the agenda—whether to switch brands of coffee for break times.

And so the cowed Justices resolved to “redress the wrong the next time around.”

Don’t think the intent here is to villainize those three, nor even the Justice who wrote the disastrous-for-Witnesses majority opinion. Why disastrous? Because it unleashed a wave of savage persecution against them from the general populace. Estimates range of about 1500 incidences of mob-violence during this period, with beatings a staple, sometimes escalating to tar-and-and feathering, and even the occasional maiming, castration, shooting, and hanging. It was a wrong ripe for “redress the next time around.” Still, I know what it’s like to be newbie on a body. I know what it’s like to be swayed by long-time seniors. Probably everyone does, barring those who are naturally truculent. It happens.

‘Don’t let a bully carry the day’ is the tone of current training for elder bodies. ‘Discuss it thoroughly. Draw out the reticent ones. Don’t just run them down.’ It’s human nature for that to happen. Try to counteract it.

If there’s another lesson to take away, it might be, ‘Don’t be awed by great ones.’ They’re men (in the case of those who are.) They put their pants on one leg at a time (in the case of those who do). Check your reverence for them. Sort of like the Psalm says:

Do not put your trust in princes Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation. His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground; On that very day his thoughts perish.” (146:4-5)

Jehovah’s Witnesses love that scripture. They like the one about a king’s heart being flexible, too, the way it proved to be with the flipflopping three. “A king’s heart is like streams of water in Jehovah’s hand. He directs it wherever He pleases.” (Proverbs 21:1)

I’m still waiting for that to play out with Putin. I’m still waiting that he will look into the banning of the Jehovah’s Witness organization in his country and reverse it. He’s a ‘king’, but he’s also a man with a heart. Now—I’m not holding my breath. But it worked with Ahasuerus, tricked by that day’s opponents to throttle the Jews. Why not he?

To be continued…

 

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

Gibbon: Decline and Fall—Why the Fall? Part 2–a take on Psalm 2

From Part 1: “Anti-cultists in particular build upon the notion that it is wrong to depart from the mainstream of rule by human efforts. Any serious consideration of a ‘God’s kingdom’ that calls the shots is disagreeable to them and, they would have you believe, also to you. The human experiment of self-rule is what must consume people. It’s wrong to sit it out, they maintain.”

The cacophony of ‘cult’ accusations over the past 20 years helps to understand Psalm 2. It’s a little hard to understand otherwise, though I’ve tried. I used to play with Psalm 2 in service, observing that nations today are not in agreement on anything, but there is one thing upon which they do agree:

“The kings of the earth take their stand And high officials gather together as one Against Jehovah and against his anointed one.” (Psalm 2:2)  

They’re all united in that. They can’t stand Jehovah and his anointed one. But in what practical way is that loathing manifested?

“They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles And throw off their ropes!’” (vs 3)

It’s not at all clear how that applies—until one considers accusations from the anti-cultists. Service to that ‘cult’ that is the Jehovah’s Witness organization, they say, ‘shackles’ a person. But those anti-cultists would work to ‘free’ them from that ‘bondage’—‘throw off their ropes.’

Their underhanded doings are disguised as efforts to ‘help’ individual Witnesses, freeing them. In Russia, Dvorkin charges that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a “rather oppressive cult which violates the rights of its members, abuses people, and . . . often ruins their lives . . . They deprive them of normal human existence [and] deprive people of normal social life.” (the quotation included in chapter 18 of Don’t Know Why)

It’s crazy talk. Witnesses do the only thing reasonable people can be expected to do: they don’t understand it, at least not at first. But, crazy or not, this kind of reasoning is all the rage today among those who point the ‘cult’ finger.

There must have been similar accusations made toward Christian’s in the first century, for Paul feels obliged to push back at them. “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. (2 Corinthians 7:2) Why would he write such except to counter charges that they had?

Another Psalm says,

“Jehovah will extend the scepter of your power out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies. 118B1CE8-0395-42CF-9C08-213FAA15D1F5Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In splendid holiness, from the womb of the dawn, You have your company of young men just like dewdrops.’” Psalm 110:2-3

‘They’re our dewdrops, dammit, not yours! You can’t have them!’ fume ‘the nations’ as their “peoples [keep] muttering an empty thing?” (Back to Ps 2:1) The ‘empty thing,’ the Research Guide’ points out, and it makes perfect sense, has to do with their sovereignty. Humans can rule the earth their way. They do know what is good and bad, just like the god of this system of things said: “For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen 3:5) They don’t need no stinkin ‘God’s kingdom’ to put them in ‘shackles’ and ‘ropes’ with its own notions of what is good and bad.

This thinking puts pressure on Witnesses everywhere. Paul writes Timothy to “urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made concerning all sorts of men, concerning kings and all those who are in high positions, so that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with complete godly devotion and seriousness.” (1 Tim 2:1-2) That sounds reasonable. If you keep out of the king’s way, obey all his laws, and never speak ill of him, won’t he leave you alone?

Increasingly he will not. It is not enough to not pull against him. He requires you pull for him. Thus, Christian ‘neutrality’ is increasingly not tolerated in ‘authoritarian countries.’ But it also starts to come under fire in more democratic countries too. There you don’t have to pull for the king. You can pull against him if you want. You can pull for his opponent. But you have to pull for someone! If you don’t, you are part of a weird cult and come under fire for not serving the purpose of the greater god of this system of things who champions human rule in all of its manifestations, not just those of authoritarian kings but also of those ‘kings’ who acquiesce to sharing power with the clay of the more democratic governments.

It’s not wrong to consider the human (political reasons) but to be blind to the underlying spiritual reasons is to present a misleading picture

 

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My Meeting Notes & Stray Thoughts: Week of September 5, 2022

WatchtowerStudy: The Kingdom Is in Place!

Theme scripture: “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”​—REV. 11:15.

Para 2: Once you have put the puzzle together and replicated the picture on the box cover, you’re pretty much immune to someone coming along and saying, ‘you put it together wrong.’

Para 7, it makes perfect sense, the one bro says, that an incoming government will first get it own act together, show some out the door, then assemble its own cabinet to govern effectively.

Para 10: For most of human history governments did whatever they wanted and there was not a thing you could do about it. That’s why likened to heavens, they rain, burn, freeze,  not a thing you can do about it. But now it is possible to grab the wheel, It is intoxicating to people. Avert this disaster, but only to veer into another one.

Para 11: You would think that as humankind develops and improves, with govt by the people, it would come up with some firm alloy to base the statue upon. Instead it comes up with this cruddy mixture of iron and clay, unstable as all get-out, says one bro.

Para 14: Under divine inspiration, the apostle John saw in vision a prostitute, “Babylon the Great,” which symbolizes the world empire of false religion

Take a wife and you do not expect her to become a prostitute. Yet that can be said of Babylon the Great, which should be faithful to god, but instead forgets all about god if need be to nuzzle up with the commanding rulers of the earth.

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It is an unusual video, unsettling, as though suggesting the lack of trust pornography sows in a marriage—suspicion that falls short of certainty but spoils closeness just because it is suspicion:

https://www.jw.org/en/library/videos/ebtv/is-porn-a-sin-against-god/

Spending some time online over who is and who is not an “election denier”. Hoo boy. Now I’m going to join some chums and go out and try to reason with some kingdom deniers.

Here’s a beaut of an image, from Psalm 5:9

“For nothing they say can be trusted; Within them is nothing but malice; Their throat is an open grave”

Imagine how an open grave smells after a week or two,

And the weight of the gold that came to Solomon…666 talents of gold…200 large shields of alloyed gold…300 bucklers of alloyed gold…throne and overlaid it with refined gold…drinking vessels of gold, utensils of pure gold.” 1 Kings10
(even Dined at the Golden Corral) 

His girlfriend:

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What can I say? The guy had a thing for the ladies.

 

(Actually, huge harems were common at that time/place. You’d marry your daughter to the king just to get in good with him. Pity the poor women, who would rarely see the guy & must live nearly celebrate.)

“I will lie down and sleep; And I will wake up in safety” (Psalm 3:5)  Always a plus when you can do this.

Ha! My wife loves the Psalms, as do I. Much there for deep reflection. But when she first read them as a child, she thought, “Man—this guy whines a lot.”

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Maybe 1 Kings 9:13 can be adapted to territory assignments. If you look one over and it just doesn’t do it for you, you can say, “What sort of territory is this that you have given me, my brother?”

“You made him a little lower than godlike ones…crowned him with glory and splendor…gave him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put everything under his feet. (Ps 8:5-6)

And you don’t think when inspection comes, verdict will be, ‘Yeah, and they screwed it all up!”

Dreams are nothing but trouble. I wonder if there are people who knock it out of the park in their dreams. Not many, I think. Most often they are vaguely, or even intensely, disquieting. If you have public speaking in your background, you dream of suddenly remembering you’re up next but haven’t prepared and in fact are in your underwear. If you were self-employed, you dream of how for some strange reason you haven’t billed your customer in years yet still must work. Too late to change the routine now, you say.

Oh for crying out loud. Continuing to transcribe my Civil War book. Word stars out Fanny, Hooker, Dix, and of course Negro. So much for my attempts to be an historian.

Then Jesus went on to say . . . “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples” (John 8;31)  For the longest time I thought if you can show you are like first century Christians, you are golden anywhere. It took a while to realize many think religion should evolve, move on, not stay stuck in the past.

 

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

“If They are From […….] They Will Eventually Ask for Money.” Part 3

See Part 1, Part 2

Poor Africans can get by with very little..... but mange to have fun with things which cost little such as singing, dancing, and sitting and talking. And they always seem yo be happy - the real poor ones,” said Emma, who was born and raised there. 

This led to the unhelpful remark from someone lacking in empathy: 

Too bad you can't get them to stop dancing, sitting and talking and maybe learn to do some farming and engineering upkeep of the infrastructure,” followed up with an example or two of life going to hell in a hand basket. 

Alas, in the USA are to be found people who do much worse than ‘dancing, sitting, and talking.’ They party, drink, and do drugs. My wife had a Zoom student from a very poor city neighborhood—and in the States, that often means dangerous—who had very meager income, in fact, I didn’t know how she could survive (though I found out) who was continually loaning money to her needy neighbors who did all the above things (party, drink, drugs) and more. Universally thought “big-hearted,” anyone could run a sob story past her and walk away with some money—even though she didn’t have it. Turned out credit cards were indirectly fueling her giving. The funny thing about credit cards is that they make it possible for one financial hand to not know what the other is doing.

We helped her with her phrasing. “Look, do not say you are “loaning” money to such and such. Have you ever, ever, EVER been paid back? Say you are “giving” money, making a gift. It is your business if you wish to do it, but call it what it is.”

When people are irresponsible, don’t think it is easy to be tight-fisted in their midst, especially when one has a “big heart.” She came across some bawling and seemingly neglected child who couldn’t answer anything about anything but was plainly in a sorry state. She fed the child, cleaned it, afterwards attended to its other needs which included an immediate nap, after which the unknown child returned home. Next day her mother tried to drop her off while she went out carousing.

Another sis I know was continually giving money, which did not come easily to her, to her eternally needy granddaughter from far away. She only checked herself when, during the course of a visit, the girl revealed how she had spent a fairly large sum having the name of her on-again off-again live-in druggie boyfriend tattooed on a intimate part of her body where the sun don’t shine.

I’ll take “dancing, sitting, and talking” any day.

(See Part 1)

the bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Why the Fall?

The speaker Sunday quoted Edward Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) on the peaceful nature of the first-century Christians:

“It was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes,” Gibbon wrote. I included that and three similar quotations in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why in the Statecraft chapter. I chatted up the speaker after the program and he had about fifteen such quotes.

What he did not say is that Gibbon did not admire Christians for their course, as the out-of-context quote might suggest. It was not a plus for him, as it is for us. It was a minus. It is what he holds largely responsible for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, that innovative development of human rule he champions and is sorry to see go.

Here are the other three quotes presented in Don’t Know Why:

“A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius [121-180 C.E.], no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.” (Barnes: The Rise of Christianity),. “It will be seen presently that the evidence for the existence of a single Christian soldier between 60 and about 165 A.D. is exceedingly slight. . . . Up to the reign of Marcus Aurelius at least, no Christian would become a soldier after his baptism.” (Cadoux: The Early Church and the World). “The behavior of the Christians was very different from that of the Romans . . . Since Christ had preached peace, they refused to become soldiers.” (Platt & Drummond: Our World Through the Ages)

They’re not positives for Gibbon. They’re negatives. They sap the will of the country. Let people drop out and who’s going to fight for the Fatherland? Notice that Gibbon goes the farthest in uncovering what Christians would not do. It’s not just soldiering they abstained from. He extends their abstinence to being “magistrates” or “princes.” It ruined the Empire, he says, to have vast swaths of people turn their attention elsewhere, consumed no longer with the nature of the king but with the nature of God and Christ and of the interplay between them. They weren’t taking a stand against the government. They weren’t refusing to obey it laws—in fact, they were pretty good at obeying laws and not stirring up mischief. But they weren’t pulling for the then system-of-things, and this is what Gibbon laments. Rome would in time encounter invaders whose people were 100% behind the cause of human rule (theirs), and then it was goodby for Rome.

So Gibbon didn’t like Christianity. It torpedoed what he thought was the grander project of an innovative system of human rule. Of course, it soon morphed (apostatized) to become less of what he did not like to embrace more of what he did like. In time and by degrees, Christians veered from staying ‘no part of the world’ to decide that they were the ones to fix the world by any means possible. If political maneuvering and wars were among those means possible, so be it. Constantine converted to morphed Christianity, transformed it from persecuted minority to in-time persecuting majority. He did not get baptized until on his deathbed, after he got all that warring out of his system, so even then was the notion that Christians renounce the violence of the age. It was common at the time, says J. Rufus Fears (below), for persons to postpone baptism till the last moment and undergo it as a sort of final cleansing act—a far cry from churches in the present day who perform it on babies as a sort of introductory cleansing act.

2DA2789F-8898-4A8B-9DB8-B6DD38CA60BDGibbon’s condemnation of Christianity is found to various degrees in countries of the here and now. Western ones, by and large, allow religion to be religion. They grant freedom of worship as a fundamental right. But other governments are more machiavellian. Yes, you can have your religion, they say, but religion must know its place. It must not only be subservient to ruling powers, but must advocate for them. For many human governments, and many students of human government, it is not ‘he who is not against us is for us.’ It is ‘he who is not for us is against us.’ Anti-cultists in particular build upon the notion that it is wrong to depart from the mainstream of rule by human efforts. Any serious consideration of a ‘God’s kingdom’ that calls the shots is disagreeable to them and, they would have you believe, to you. The human experiment of self-rule is what must consume people. It’s wrong to sit it out, they maintain,

(A History of Freedom, J Rufus Fears, Lecture 11:  Gibbon on Rome’s Decline and Fall)

To be continued…here

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

At the New System Dinner Table: Part 5–Sticking to Script

See Part 1 and Part 2) Part 3 Part 4

The former guard regales his tablemates with how he became a disciple. ‘With Jehovah’s help and the patience of these good people [pass the Bible chips, please] I was baptized before the start of the great tribulation.’

Can you believe it?—Ensconced in his Zoom couch, Oscar Oxgoad appends to the remark, “but it really sucked for those who were only in the middle of their baptism questions!"

What is wrong with him? I mean, you can go there, but why? Think it’s easy writing a Bible drama? It’s not. If you’re content to let your Moses pop Pharaoh in the nose and get the girl it is but we don’t do that. You have to stick to script. It makes for some clunky dialogue now and then, but you have to stick to script. If there’s one thing we know about Jehovah’s people, it is that they will stick to script. 

HQ is locked into that big book they follow. “Baptism, which corresponds to [the ark, in which you had to be on it to survive]  is also now saving you,” says 1 Peter 3:21. They can’t just blow past that verse as though it was nothing. If any of them harbor secret thoughts that God will go all-softy at the last moment like in Nineveh they must keep that to themselves.

It is a consequence of taking ‘knowledge by revelation’—not personal revelation but the revelation coming from God’s communication with us, the Bible. They can’t go ‘empirical evidence’ that God has gone all-softy in the past so maybe he will this time too. They can’t tell him what to do. It’s all very nice to say when individually queried about whether this or that person will make it through Armegeddon, “Well, I’m not Jesus and I don’t know,” but in your video you have to be bound by 1 Peter.

It’s a little like when Bro Morris related at the Atlanta Regional how he desperately needed to have cash on hand by a certain date, that such cash was contingent on the sale of his house, and said house wasn’t selling. “It’s getting a little tight, here,” he related how he had looked heavenward, but then added, “He’s God. He can do what he likes.” Per this theory, God apparently gave him a break, for it did sell at the last second. Relieved, Morris streamlined a few procedures. The buyer commented, ‘It isn’t usually done that way,’ and he retorted, ‘It is today.’

Same here. God gave those Ninevites a pass when they shaped up with seconds to go, but you can’t tell him he must repeat the procedure. He’s God. He can do what he likes and he doesn’t spill on every little thing.

Oscar Oxgoad giving me a hard time over this! And to think his brother Ozzie gives me a hard time the other way! “In my opinion, things will have to reach a point where world powers (or whoever) is seconds away from pushing the nuclear button, and at that point Jehovah will step in to prevent the earth from blowing up,” he says.

Oh yeah, I answered. And the clock will read 666 instead of 007 and the big fried thug will be the one with his horns stuck in the bars. Background music yet to be determined. An original song yet to be composed, no doubt.

3F2F592F-A249-48CF-9C99-21886D395926

(Photo: Den Haag Louwman Museum) 

To be continued: 

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

Meeting Notes & etc: Week of August 31, 2022

Public speaker quoted a lot. Such as from the Orlando Sentinel:

After making an extensive study of Jehovah's Witnesses in Africa, Oxford University sociologist Bryon Wilson stated: "The Witnesses are perhaps more succesful than any other group in the speed with which they eliminate tribal discrimination among their own recruits."

3CD31915-868E-4015-A9CB-CD9A3D59D9D4“Coming up next…” the chairman said after thanking the public speaker, and he sounded like a radio announcer—which he is in real life! He introduced song 128 and in my head I played it as an echo chamber.: 128…128……128………..128. #TheHitsJustKeepOnComing

(Photo: DJ Natural Nate.jpg, Wikipedia)

 

WatchtowerStudy: “Hope in Jehovah”

Theme Scripture: “Hope in Jehovah; be courageous and strong of heart.”​—PS. 27:14.

Para 3: The devil’s challenge is that Jehovah’s sovereignty is some kind of sham, someone says. Another adds, He cannot force us to stop but can moke us question why we are—get us to think that God doesn;t care for us

We may not fear man but fear the uncertainty of what can happen to us. Job 1:9-12,

Para 6 appreciate the linkage: “Satan next attacked Job’s health and robbed him of his dignity.” (Job 2:6-8; 7:5)  Shoot the hero of TV and it barely slows him at all, but in real life—it’s impossible to not feel a certain ‘loss of dignity’ as health veers south.

Para 7 One sis brought up the insurance slogan ‘act of God.’ A subtle but the phrase probably shouldn’t be that way. It introduces the notion that causing calamity to innocent people is a tool in God’s toolbox when it’s not.

Para 7: you expect a parent to die. It’s devastating but you expect. With a mate it’s 50/50, devastating, but you expect it. But for a child to die—you don’t expect it. Even for the present system, you don’t expect it, yet such devastation has been endured by many.

Para 8: the satanic bits of reasoning to chip away at Job’s self-worth: guilty of various wrongdoings. (Job 22:5-9) They also tried to convince him that even if he was not an evildoer, any efforts he made to please God were of no value at all. (Job 4:18; 22:2, 3; 25:4) In effect, they were trying to make Job doubt that God loved him

Para 11: “Therefore, subject yourselves to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. (Jas 4:7) Want to get the devil to run? Probably have to beat him up? But you don’t. ‘Opposing’ him is enough, after which he flees.

Para 12: one bro quoted another that ‘death isn’t forever. Life is.’

Para 14: One bro, “who was put in prison despite suffering from severe health problems, says: “A prison is like an X-ray, showing the inner qualities of a Christian.” Once we identify our weaknesses, we can work on correcting them.” Is this why Paul said he ‘takes pleasure in insults & mistreatment?’

Para 15: If you look at the world, they’re a little bit crazier, one bro says at life in the aftermath of the pandemic. “They did not adjust to it well,” he says as he contrasts it with those who did.

“After Jehovah had spoken these words to Job, Jehovah said to Elʹi·phaz the Teʹman·ite: “My anger burns against you and your two companions, for you have not spoken the truth about me as my servant Job has.” Well, you should do that then appears to be the lesson.

 

…. “He would send them to Lebʹa·non in shifts of 10,000 each month. They would spend a month in Lebʹa·non and two months at their homes; and Ad·o·niʹram was over those conscripted for forced labor.” 1 Kings 5:14

Isn’t there some policy that theocratic assignments that take a bro or sis away from a mate should last no longer than a month, for the sake of family fidelity? Is this where they get that from? For they do nothing of consequence without a biblical precedent.

 

…Para 15 (Wt week of Aug 15) Bomb blast at the KH. Few details but I recall the news story. This guy was a piece of work, an equal-opportunity villain who did many bad things to many people, not just JWs. Took 20 years to catch him and they caught him for something else. Operative expression is the last sentense of the paragraph: (Or Peter and Sue:) “So very early on, we asked Jehovah to help us put aside anger and resentment and get on with our life.” You have to get on with your life—can’t be consumed with anger for 20 years.

 

Pretty good meeting feedback about the fellow in this past week’s video on prayer who wanted to shepherd everyone but couldn’t for lack of time so got into the habit of periodically praying for persons by name. Also noted that as his health waned, his prayers improved.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

At The New System Dinner Table: Part 4–The Return of ‘Normal’

See Part 1 and Part 2) Part 3

It almost seems as though when the ‘New System Dinner Roundtable’ discussion presented at the Regional was first envisioned, the one [s?] writing it imagined the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Recounting travails of the old system, one bro at the table recalls when the pandemic broke out “and the world turned upside down.”

It may well be the straw that hobbled the camel, but its back appears not yet broken. Is it going out too much on a limb to observe that the return of door-to-door sets some aback, as though they never anticipated that development? I had thought so myself—while witnessing in some form would continue, no doubt, wouldn’t Covid forever make people recoil as strangers approach their door? Well, maybe you could get around it by carrying a mask and offering to don it for any finicky person, I had reasoned, but there doesn’t even seem to be that concern anymore. Too soon to tell yet how many don masks and how many don’t. 

Now the work returns that many were thinking was gone for good. Fair to say that enthusiasm is mixed at best? I mean, we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, and witnessing is what we do. Everyone knows that. But it’s not the easiest work in the world to do; everyone knows that too. That’s why I wrote up a sample presentation, to both shore up others and myself. Many thought when the pandemic turned the world upside down, it would stay turned upside down—like what Cameron said about an honest politician: when he is bought, he stays bought.

‘Make sure to listen to radio such-and-such at 10:35,’ one bro told me. Some local spokesman is going to be interviewed about the return of door-to-door. I said I would. In fact I would have liked to but it occurred to me later that I no longer have a radio; everything is streaming these days. Probably there is some fancy-pants way of streaming radio but I don’t have that set up. Of course, the cars have radios, but the one in the dog’s car doesn’t work. My wife is off in cart work with the other one.*

What I’m a little worried about is that the bro is going to lay it on thick about how loving it was to abstain from door to door so as not to kill the householder with Covid and laudably obey government guidelines but now it’s ‘been there, done that,’ in the same way that we used to explain at length our former loving provision to do letters and phone calls. He might even say how the development is ‘historic.’ Look, everyone thinks what is front and center on their plate is front and center on that of others, but it generally isn’t that way. A presentation in the school led with the householder observing she hasn’t seen Jehovah’s Witnesses door-to-door in a while, which gave the student opportunity to explain all the above. I haven’t been out yet but I suspect most people will hardly have noticed. If anyone does mention it to me, I’ll say, ‘Yeah, we didn’t do that during Covid but now we are.’ [Edit: Yikes—now I learn it is not some local bro at all but Bro Hendricks from HQ. He’ll do fine, I’m sure.] [Further edit: He did.]

The ‘pandemic that turned the world upside down’ video may yet be vindicated. I’m not assuming it’s a paper tiger. But from being turned upside down it kept turning and continues to do so. Too soon to tell just when it stops.

*Not only does the radio in the dog’s car not work, but the whole ‘entertainment system’ is gone! The reason it is gone is that the car battery began draining 9BF35A99-204F-4618-9E28-2E5BBD1AB222overnight and the auxiliary package module (I may not be saying this right) was found to be the culprit. Fix it, I told my mechanic. But he said the new module would have to be ‘programmed into the car’ and he didn’t think the dealer would tell him the code. Pull the fuse then, I said, and all kinds of things don’t work now, but nothing safety related, only convenience related. When I broke down later and took it to the dealer, tired of not being entertained by my entertainment system, surprisingly it did not cost me a million dollars but only a little more than a hundred. But I think they did no more than stick a fuse back in it, even though I told them not to do that, for in a few months the problem returned. But the dog subsequently died, so it no longer cares about if he is entertained or not. This was the same dog that if you ran over the grooved pavement separating lanes, making vibration, it would climb between the front seats and sit on my wife’s lap for reassurance. With it gone, and I do miss him, I may even give the car a thorough scrubbing and vacuuming so that it once again becomes a people car, albeit a people car minus an entertainment system.

To be continued here

******  The bookstore

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A Review of ‘Judging Jehovahs’ Witnesses’ (Shawn Francis Peters)—Part 1

“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion . . . ”

With that, an eight to one U. S. Supreme Court decision made just three years earlier was overturned. Eight to one is a lot. A squeaker of a decision—maybe that could conceivably be overturned. But eight to one?

Of course—you know how our people are—we right away gave credit to God, since the case involved us. “We knew the Lord would arrange it. The victory is his,” said Gobitis. They did exactly the same when the European Court of Human rights ruled the 2017 ban on the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was illegal. But Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, who worked hard to engineer the turnaround, said that all’s well that ends well, “but I should like to have seen the case end well in the first place . . .”

Gobitis is Walter Gobitis, a store owner and Jehovah’s Witness whose children were expelled from school for refusal to salute the flag. Standing respectfully while others salute was not enough for school district officials. Their expulsion was stayed on appeal, stayed once again on higher appeal, but then upheld when school district officials lodged a final appeal with the Supreme Court. We are not the “school board of the country,” the Court said. Let them do what they want. The decision is known as Minersville School District vs Gobitas. (1940–yes, they misspelled his name)

Clearly understood by everyone involved was that the stand of Jehovah’s Witnesses was religious and had nothing to do with patriotism or lack thereof. Gobitis said of his children after the 1943 turnaround (West Virginia vs Barnette): “America is their country. But God must come first.”

If that point was clearly understood by everyone involved, it was not understood by the general public not involved. “They’re traitors—the Supreme Court says so,” was a typical sentiment expressed by a sheriff in the Deep South. (pg 84)

Witnesses saw (and see) flag salute as a violation of the second of the Ten Commandments: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion . . . (Exodus 20:4-5)

Anything in the heavens, on earth, or in the sea covers a lot of ground. Bowing down is not so different than saluting such an anything. The Witnesses even garnered some support by the circumstance that, at the time, the flag salute looked exactly like the Heil Hitler Nazi salute with outstretched arm—the hand-over-heart pledge of allegiance was a later development. And since God requires exclusive devotion, and the Bible verse next considers punishment for those not serving him that way—suddenly things that at first glance do not seem very similar become so. One should bully small children into doing something that their Bible-trained conscience tells them is disagreeable to God and may merit punishment?

It is why even the lofty ones who did not like Jehovah’s Witnesses thought Minersville was a terrible decision. The New Republic likened the Supreme Court to German tribunals that similarly punished the Witnesses for refusing to perform the Nazi salute. Wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “We  think this decision of the United States Supreme Court is dead wrong. We think its decision is a violation of American principle. We think it is a surrender to popular hysteria. If patriotism depends upon such things as this—upon violation of a fundamental right of religious freedom—then if becomes not a noble emotion of love for country, but something to be rammed down our throats by the law.” When the decision was reversed three years later, Time Magazine led off its coverage with, “Blot Removed.”

The prevailing opinion in Minersville (‘We live by symbols’) was, in most legal and journalistic circles, thought an embarrassment. The dissenting opinion of Minersville, written by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, who later became Chief Justice Stone, was the one most championed in those circles. Three years later that dissenting opinion would become the prevailing one.

(All quotations, except from those of links, are taken from the book Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Shawn Francis Peters)

To be continued: here

 

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’