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!’

Why do I think of that Superman movie where the Man of Steel is about to square off with his counterpart Super Villian and some plebe says, 'This is going to be good!'

It’s the play we’re watching, not the actors in the play. You don’t have to know the names of the actors to follow the play. It can even be a distraction if you do. Besides, naming a villain, or even a hero, creates the impression that removing that person will change matters. Instead, another actor who has all the lines down pat steps onto the stage and the play continues with barely a hiccup.

So it is that the Watchtower seldom names names or points to specific schemes. I often follow suit. But sometimes the players and schemes are so intriguing that I go astray.

So here is Scott Adams, the guy who draws Dilbert, tweeting that he is “skeptical of anything that can’t be explained in a sentence." He’s talking about the keynote address at the WEF (World Economic Forum) meeting in Davos: 'Master the Future.' "What exactly do they do?" he added. "And why?"

To which tweet Elon Musk appended: “Master the Future” doesn’t sound ominous at all … How is WEF/Davos even a thing? Are they trying to be the boss of Earth!?"

Scott Adams is happily playing second fiddle to Elon Musk these days. He had come to the defense of the Covid 19 vaccine previously, but now he has done a complete turnaround, coupled with an apology: "I would like to publicly apologize for continuously ignoring the "accurate data" on Covid that people sent me for three years," he tweeted (Jan 24th) 

Musk and he are best buds now. Scott floats the idea of whether he could win were he to run in the California Senate race. "Please run; that would be awesome," Elon responds.

Twitter is where it's at now that Musk bought it and let the dissenting voices back in that are still banned most anywhere else for going against prevailing narrative. Bernard Strawman will be ecstatic. There is now 'dialogue' on that social media site that there is nowhere else. Musk let Peter McCullough back in, for example. The guy is the top published cardiologist in the country, maybe in the world. He had thought his stature gave him an untouchable status to dispute the prime vaccine directive, but he was wrong. Not long ago he was sweating it that his medical license was about to be pulled, a fate he has so far avoided.  

After Musk tweeted that it “isn’t clear whether, all things considered, a second booster helps or hurts,” Yahoo News (1/12) took to explaining "what studies show." They show he's wrong, was their verdict--as it is everyone's verdict who wishes to remain on social media--or was until Twitter went apostate on them.

Elon Musk casts doubt on whether a 2nd COVID booster helps or hurts. Here’s what studies show. (yahoo.com)

'Vaccine hesitancy' is a real problem today, Yahoo lamented. Musk shouldn't go pouring on the gasoline. True, "when bivalent boosters were first given emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, some were concerned about the lack of human clinical trial data, but updated information from clinical trials has since become available."  Pfizer provided it. They said their stuff was okay. Besides, "the CDC says serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely rare following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination.”

Oh yeah? Well, it almost killed me, Musk tweeted. He "had major side effects from my second booster shot. Felt like I was dying for several days. Hopefully, no permanent damage, but I dunno." To which newly liberated, as though from Babylon, McCullough attached a name to what Musk had experienced and said that given his age and level of fitness he would probably be okay. Musk added to his first tweet, "And my cousin, who is young & in peak health, had a serious case of myocarditis. Had to go to the hospital."

Speaking of going to the hospital: The Buffalo Bills home team's playbook incorporated the player who collapsed after arising from a routine tackle returning to the stadium and attempting to spur them to victory with his signature heart gesture. Alas, to no avail. They lost.

I had seen the fellow fall three weeks earlier. He rose from making a routine tackle, then fell over as though dead, a startled Bengal jumping away. EMT worked on him near 20 minutes as teammates gathered around, some in tears, some in prayer, before taking him off to the hospital. After an hour of uncertainly, the game was suspended. Tens of thousands of fans were sent home. He is still said to be on oxygen in critical condition.

There was instant speculation on social media that it was vaccine-induced myocarditis, same as with Musk's cousin. That occurred to me right away. Healthy athletes are dropping over dead right and left these days. The book that says it best is 'Cause Unknown: the Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022,' by Edward Dowd, a finance guy who's used to spotting trends. In it are hundreds of young people who have, since 2021, died unexpectedly for no reason. Each is verified by QR code so you can go and check for yourself. Furthermore, he has gathered the life insurance charts that show a 40% spike in unknown-cause deaths in the final quarter of 2021, when vaccine mandates kicked in.

Dowd avoids the 'Who' and he avoids the 'Why.' He does only the 'What' and the 'When.' He takes the low-hanging fruit that others go beyond and in the process step into land mines. Tackle the 'who' and the 'why' and you are instantly labeled a conspiracy theorist. But anyone with an eye for detail and a knack for digging things up can tackle the 'what' and the 'when.'

So instantly I thought of the possibility--even though the Explainer explained that I shouldn't think it.

EXPLAINER: What happened to Damar Hamlin? | AP News

I was smart enough not to put it on social media, but there was fierce reaction to those who did:

Vaccine misinformation surges on social media, Fox News after NFL player Damar Hamlin's onscreen heart attack | Fortune and

Twitter Is a Megaphone for ‘Sudden Death’ Vaccine Conspiracies | WIRED

They do pile on, but welcome to social media. No wonder the JW organization's not thrilled with it. The only caveat to the loutish behavior, which was not pointed out, was that the accusers had been pummeled for months, and even banned if they said the 'wrong thing.' ‘Step out of line, the man comes and takes you away.’ Now they are unleashed, and like those bees from the abyss, they are furious that it took so long.

'It's despicable that conspiracy theorist wackos would knee-jerk bring up the Covid vaccine!' was the prevailing sentiment. But others responded that of course you would think of possible causes--the stuff is known to trigger myocarditis--just as for the longest time if you wanted to go anywhere you were queried over whether you'd been to the Far East recently. 

The tackle that felled the Bills player, after he had first arisen "didn’t appear unusually violent," the Explainer explained. Maybe it was "a rare type of trauma called commotio cordis . . . [which] occurs when a severe blow to the chest causes the heartbeat to quiver, leading to sudden cardiac arrest."

How rare is this? "Commotio cordis occurs “probably 20 times a year,” said the article, as it neglected to mention that the padded NFL gear is specifically designed to shield against such blows to the chest.

Now Musk has let these dissenting voices like McCullough--and Dowd, he had been banned too--back in for the sake of dialogue. Just like Mr. Strawman, he thinks dialogue is good. He even says (Jan/16) he is tweaking algorithms so as to send opposing views your way, though you can tweak them away in settings if you want to live in an 'echo chamber.' Yikes! Does this mean Vic Vomodog and Larsen Ahithorolf are my reluctant new best friends? Twitter has become the cutting edge place to be. 

Musk takes on the high and mighty: “We shouldn’t be obsessed with WEF/Davos, but they take themselves sooo seriously that making fun of them is awesome,” he tweets. And, "My reason for declining the Davos invitation was not because I thought they were engaged in diabolical scheming, but because it sounded boring af lol,” attaching an emoji wearing sunglasses.

Elon Blasts WEF Effort to Run World, Tucker Finishes Them Off – RedState

Yeah, well we didn't invite you anyway, they respond. He contradicts their narratives. “WEF is increasingly becoming an unelected world government that the people never asked for and don’t want,” he says. And herein lies the tie-in to the age-old biblical drama: it is about government.

There's evidence he's getting under their skin. The EU Commissioner of Values and Transparancy, who of course is there attending, says:

"I [once] had quite a high level of confidence when it comes to Twitter. I have to say that we worked with knowledgeable people, with the lawyers, with sociologists who understood that they have to behave in some decent way, not to cause really big harm to society. I always felt that this notion of responsibility was there. So this is what I don't feel from Elon Musk personally. . . " 

and even issues an eerie--is it a warning?--"Our message was clear. We have rules which have to be complied with. And otherwise there will be sanctions."

Why do I think of that Superman movie where the Man of Steel is about to square off with his counterpart SuperVillian and some plebe says, 'This is going to be good!'

We is gonna get some dialogue! Newsweek is one of the first to break ranks. Don’t think that your critical thinking skills are going to navigate you through this chaos. The trouble with critical thinking is that those who most vehemently advocate for it are apt to think they have a lock on the stuff. Critical thinkers appear pretty evenly split on Covid matters.

As for JW HQ, they noted that you couldn’t do anything without getting vaccinated, and they did want to do things, so they complied along with most everyone else. They monitored the congregation, noted people weren’t dropping dead upon taking it, and gave the green light after an initial period of‘neutrality.’

094B98F8-7057-4861-9122-7CD9FF684356Trouble is, this entire post will be obsolete is in month. That's how fast-moving things are. But maybe it's all evidence that we are not in the last days and that we are not just hanging on by a thread.

Meanwhile, the coalition of Frontline doctors, the ones who testified before Congress (I heard them) that they were having astounding success treating Covid-19 with Ivermectin, have released tips for how those suffering from vaccine injury, even long Covid, might benefit.

***  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!’

Sometimes Human Justice Gets in the Way: Lincoln and Grant

I’m no longer reading up on Lincoln. I’m reading up on Grant. Ted Putsch would like both, I think, and may already be well-versed. Both men were raised in lowly circumstances. Both were unusually humble and defenders of the lowly. Both were continually sneered at by elites. Both made emancipation of slaves their chief mission.  Both . . . wait for it  . .  found occasion to suspect habeas corpus. 

A younger relative of mine is libertarian. It motivates everything he does. The first factoid he ever learned about Lincoln was his suspension of habeas corpus. That was enough for him to permanently place Lincoln on his evil-person list. From there, he immediately bought into the invective that Lincoln didn’t give two hoots about freeing slaves—his sole concern was preservation of the union.

In fact, from the very beginning, Lincoln purposed that quenching the ‘rebellion’—such it was called at the time—would go hand in glove with destroying the

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institution of slavery. But he could not 
just outright say it. He knew he had to first build a consensus. Many were the northern abolitionists who did outright say it, and they were immediately marginalized into a minority camp. Minorities don’t win at the human game of government. William Seward (by far the front runner leading up to 1860–everyone supposed he would be president, not Lincoln) also did say it, giving a lofty speech invoking a “higher law.” Not only was he marginalized by those to whom the sole mission of freeing slaves was insufficient motivation, but he was also marginalized by those who supposed there was no higher law other than the human experiment of ‘government by the people.’

The only way Lincoln’s Emancipation would fly in all the North, not just with the abolitionists, was for him to sell it as a military strategy. White northern troops fretted over who would mind the household while they were gone. White southern troops had no such concerns; their slaves could keep things humming. Free those slaves and the playing field was leveled. In fact, it was more than leveled: those slaves would begin to conspire against their masters.

Two sacrosanct, as human principles go—standards of justice took front and center stage in the Civil War years: state’s rights and habeas corpus. I can see Putsch railing against any infringement of either:

”Tyranny …. in soft measured voices, done in secret, and with powdered silk gloves is STILL TYRANNY.”

Oh yeah, I can easily see it! And I’d tend to agree, in a relative sense—but only a relative sense. Fact is, such lofty human principles stood squarely in the way of a far greater good: the liberation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved people. Robert E Lee personally loathed slavery. He had never owned a slave. But he took up the call of what he considered even more sacred. ‘State’s rights’ became his clarion call. Consequently, he signed on to command Southern troops, enshrining slavery as the ‘right’ of the state to decide, not some meddling Union to impose their standards from afar.

‘Man is dominating man to his injury’—even (and in this case, due to) when they run by their own self-invented concepts of justice. In the greater removed picture, looked at from our time, only the elimination of slavery matters. One Union should split into two? It’s like what Bud said when he threw away the anti-rattle clip he couldn’t figure out how to reinstall—“What’s more rattle on a Ford?” So it is with human self-government. What’s one more division of mankind in a sea of many divisions?

Here the two bedrock principles of American justice, habeas corpus and state’s rights, stood squarely in the way of real justice for hundreds of thousands of Blacks—for Whites too, for that matter, since Jefferson wrote of the South: “The parent storms [in domination of his slaves]; the child looks on . . . puts on the same airs . . . and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities.” 

One is reminded (a bone for science-fiction aficionados) of ‘Childhood’s End, in which the alien overlords paid no attention whatsoever to ‘state’s rights,’ immediately and decisively ending the cruel spectator sport of bullfighting. 

Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus was a measure he deemed essential to preserve the Union, which action would enable the freeing of slaves. Certain journalists were openly encouraging desertion from the Northern army. ‘I should shoot some guileless plowboy deserter and not the guileful propagandist who induced him to do so?’ he posed.

Grant’s suspension of habeas corpus during his presidency is more directly connected with the welfare of Blacks than was Lincoln’s. In the early days of Johnson’s presidency, the Ku Klux Klan arose. Reports were that it commanded the active participation of 2/3 of southern Democrats whites, and the tacit participation of the other third. By many measures, Blacks were worse off than during slavery. The white aristocracy manipulated them into situations just as oppressive but with no obligation to provide for them.

Unspeakable and well-documented atrocities became routine. Not only might Blacks be easily beaten or killed, but also white Republican southerners who aligned with them. Murderers could not be brought to justice. Witnesses were too intimidated to speak out, and with good reason; no jury of peers would convict Klansmen, and the retribution against witnesses would be severe. Grant sent in federal judges, and suspended habeas corpus in enough instances that Klansmen would turn upon each other in efforts to get off or gain lighter sentences for the crimes that a non-federal judge would excuse. Within a few years, he had broken the back of the Klan. It’s later reemergence is in name and ideology only (just as Baal worship kept coming back, even though guys like Elijah would clean it out from time to time.)

Habeas corpus and state’s rights—noble as far as human principles go, but not a guarantee that evil cannot, not only exist, but prevail. 

Anyone thinking that God works through America (or any other country—America being the only topic of consideration here) is invited to look at the Andrew Johnson administration. “Be Like Abe” flies, as does (to a lesser degree, but still doable) “Be Like Ulysses,” but not “Be Like Andrew.”

By the end of the war, Abraham Lincoln succeeded in bringing justice to Blacks. Andrew Johnson undid it all. Grant’s work was to undo the damage that Johnson had wrought and he largely succeeded, but only temporarily. What justice might have prevailed if Lincoln had been immediately succeeded by Grant, with no Johnson in between? 

Like Lincoln and Grant, Johnson too was brought up in lowly circumstances. He too was a self-made man. There the similarities end. Johnson was intensely racist. He was intensely vindictive (at first) to the former Confederacy, favoring severe punishment (akin to that imposed on Germany after WWI?) in contrast, Lincoln had been completely non-vengeful. Worse, vengeance was personal with Johnson. Vengefulness was a way of getting back at the aristocratic elites who had ridiculed and looked down upon him all his life. Northern abolitionists, who also (unlike Lincoln and Grant) favored harsh punishment for the South, at first thought they had found an ally in Johnson. But in fairly short order, he gave up despising the southern white aristocrats, and began kissing up to them, as though hoping to be anointed king of their club, his racist orientation a perfect match for theirs. 

God works through human governments? What if there had been no Johnson, and Lincoln’s ideals carried directly over to Grant. Shortly after the war, General Grant’s man told local transport companies in New Orleans that if they continued their practice of segregation, he would ban all that company’s cars from the road. According to Ron Chernow, author of Grant, “once the original hubbub over desegregated streetcars subsided, the locals had cheerfully adopted the new system and the excitement died out at once.” Chernow cites it as an example of the “startling early revolution in civil rights [that] would be all but forgotten by later generations of Americans.” What if Johnson had not come along to poison the well? Don’t you think if God ran the show through human government, he would not have?

A little bit on roll here. Sorry. I just wanted to kick back a little at those who think human standards of justice from the Founding Fathers are the bee’s knees. They're better than their absence, generally speaking, but sometimes they get in the way of true justice. 

To be continued . . .

******  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!’

The Sins of Some Men are Publicly Known, Leading Directly to Judgment, but Those of Other Men Become Evident Later  

What about the victim of childhood sexual abuse within the Witness setting who remains faithful but it was anything but easy because her abuser basked in the respect of all until the day he died? Think it’s easy to answer that person? Think it’s easy to be that person?

If there is one thing that might be described as our gross planetary product, borrowing terminology from the economists, it is childhood sexual abuse. Thirty years of all-out war against it has made barely a dent. You can still throw a stone in any direction and hit half a dozen pedophiles. Within the month, three local cases of teachers busted for the vice (including a principal) has made the news.

Though the greater world battles the evil, it does what it always does. It focuses on symptoms and not root cause. D79953E0-AF19-4F34-A5FE-8CB8AA90E41CIt focuses on punishment—though it is not just Elon Musk who wonders why, two years after Epstein died in prison over CSA (‘If you were surprised to hear Jeff Epstein committed suicide in prison,’ one cynic said, ‘just think how surprised he must have been), and shortly afterwards his mistress was jailed, no one else has ever been implicated—didn’t he run a pedophile paradise island and there entertain some of the best-connected persons in the world?

(photo: OpenStreetMap, Wikipedia)

It’s rather like what Frederick Douglass said about slavery. Characterizing the proposition that the North (at first) was fighting to preserve the union irrespective of ending slavery, he said, “We strike at the effect and leave the  cause unharmed.” It is the same with the world’s approach to childhood sexual abuse. Strike at the cause and maybe then we can be more impressed.

How can continually focusing on Bible teachings with regard to sexual morality not be counted among efforts to stamp out the cause, not merely the effects? Nonetheless, while I might onetime have liked to say there was no CSA within the Jehovah’s Witness setting, such has not been the case. Be abused in that setting, and you are likely to think that setting is the focus of the problem, though those not so emotionally attached will know this is not the case.

So it’s back to square one. The perpetrator has died. The victim has remained faithful to God and the infrastructure she perceives He has set forth. What on earth do you say to such a person?

Maybe the verse that should carry the day is 1 Timothy 5:24

“The sins of some men are publicly known, leading directly to judgment, but those of other men become evident later.”  

What that judgment will be I will not venture to say, but it’s the notion that there has been no judgment that devastates. It will, should it fall under the purview of this verse, happen “later.” Will “later” be in the new system of things—or is the person’s goose already cooked and he won’t be there? Either way, no more will someone parade around in a false veneer of respectability while a victim is only too aware of his wicked underbelly. The emperor’s clothes will be shed, for all to see. How will he deal with that little problem?

I have a certain flare for dramatic reading, which compensates for lack of talent elsewhere, and I used to draw out this verse with a long pause before “later.” The effect of a long pause is that when the next word at last comes it hits like a hammer. (Pastor Ingqvist of Lake Wobegon tried to master this technique by emulating the TV preacher, but he began pausing in such odd . . . . . . . . . . . . places . . . that nobody knew what he was talking about.) The sins of some men with become evident—“not now,” I would insert the phrase, but . . . “later.”

The scripture was included in the public talk outline ‘Jehovah’s Eyes Are Upon Us.’ That talk, at least the way I used to deliver it, laid majority emphasis on, ‘Don’t think you’re going to get away with any wicked schemes—God sees it all even if humans don’t and he will see that you are clobbered for your bad deeds.’

Some of the nasty schemes that scoundrels were so sure they were going to get away with (until they didn’t) was the rotten sons of Eli laying down “with the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting.”  (1 Samuel 2:22) What if you knew about it? How could you not, the tent of meeting being at the time the center of worship? What a downer that would be.

Wussy Eli would scold them, halfheartedly—and I would read the following as though it were “the people” causing the trouble: “Why do you keep doing things like these? For the things I am hearing about you from all the people are bad.” “But they refused to listen to their father, for Jehovah had determined to put them to death”—huge stress on the italicized, slowly enunciated words, with my own: “All this time they thought they were getting away with something, but . . . “ Who did they think they were kidding?

Other lowlifes who earned their justified ends, even though they thought what they did had been in secret, were those rotters of old-time Israel carrying on outrageously, untroubled because “they are saying, ‘Jehovah is not seeing us. Jehovah has left the land.’” (Ezekiel 8:12) Turned out he was and he hadn’t. Gehazi, who went on to serve as another bad example, also met his comeuppance due to God’s vigilance.

All of these accounts were drawn out in an overly dramatic fashion that sort of embarrasses me today. Moreover, could I even do it today, and would I want to? The talk has been completely rewritten, a current speaker assured me, to emphasize the positive over the negative. You can go either way, as can be seen from this verse:

The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, And his ears listen to their cry for help. But the face of Jehovah is against those doing what is bad, To erase all memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:15-16)

The former used to be there and I would dutifully read it—no, not grudgingly—I gave it its due—but the rewards of the righteous was overshadowed by the punishment for the wicked. Today it is the reverse. Doubtless it is a good thing. Emphasize the good over the bad. It’s in complete accord with today’s emphasis that, as a default position, you think well of the other person, not regard them with suspicion. It is absolutely a shift of emphasis for the better. But it also doesn’t hurt to know that the scoundrels will be exposed—even if in some cases it happens . . . . later.

 

******  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!’

Whitepebble’s Smart-Alec Kid Disses Faith

Willie Whitepebble, Wayne’s boy, graduated from university with a degree—not one of those ‘so what?’ degrees to which you say, ‘Sorry for not having a PhD in the hogwash your PhD is in’—No, he graduated with a real degree in a bona fide discipline: philosophy. Thereupon, he started dissing faith.

Since science shows humans are but the tiniest speck on a planet of the most insignificant star, and not the very center of the universe, so much for man-centric-religion,’ he said.

Straw man argument, anyone? There may be churchy types that carry on as though the central theme of the universe is our personal salvation, but that’s on them. It is nothing the Bible advances.

The Bible has man at the center of the universe, does it? How did this one escape his attention:

When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, The moon and the stars that you have prepared, What is mortal man that you keep him in mind, And a son of man that you take care of him?

No boasting about human importance there. ‘Dust on the scales,’ the psalmist calls them: The sons of men are a mere breath, The sons of mankind are a delusion.  When laid together on the scales, they are lighter than a mere breath.” (Psalm 62:9)

So if science disproves faith, it certainly does not do so on the basis that it gave people of faith a rude awakening, as though they imagined themself the center of everything and now they can no longer do so.

Willie came up with another straw man: Science shows how chaotic are the subatomic building blocks of life, therefore belief in God is nonsense—as though men of faith have always figured Lego blocks were the starting point.

Why doesn’t he just go with Job 26:14?

Look! These are just the fringes of his ways; Only a faint whisper has been heard of him!

No expectation of simplicity there, is there?

If Willie disses faith, as appears his Mission now, he must do it with arguments that apply, not with straw man arguments that don’t.

He must not confuse church with Bible. Often they are different. And he must not confuse church with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Often they too are different. Does church put humans at the very center? Often they do. Witnesses don’t.

And if the early ‘science’ of Aristotle that came to be favored by the early Church—drawn to it because it was knowledge by decree, rather that observation, that doesn’t mean the Bible favored that ‘science.’ There is Aristotle, pasting on the heavenly bodies on the canopy surrounding central earth. He may do it. The Bible does not do so.

He stretches out the northern sky over empty space, suspending the earth upon nothing,” says Job 26:7

I used to attempt to hang my pen upon nothing, to illustrate how unlikely it was for ‘primitive’ man to envision Job’s words on his own. Very carefully I would hang it there, before letting go. Always it would fall. But that was when I carried a pen. Nowadays all is digital and so I am stymied.

All this is not to say that Willie’s college may not serve him well. It well might, at least in the short term. His stint at the optician’s office was cut abruptly short when he proved himself not too observant about sign placement.

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(Photo: anonymous on social media. If it’s yours, claim it)

 

******  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!’

Can One Prove the Faith?

“I don't really have any evidence that any prayer has ever been answered, at least since the first century,” said Whitepebble. “We walk completely by faith on this question.”

No longer do I try to prove the faith to those determined not to share it. They have an answer to everything—just as any faction today has an answer to anyone who have chosen something different.. 

The idea of living forever, minus the woes of this present life, appeals to me. The idea of gratitude to a Creator, who has superior wisdom, appeals to me. All I need is to clear up misgivings about the existence of evil, and that can be done in a reasonable manner. It’s not something you can prove, but it makes sense.

Conversely, the idea that humans will have the answers does not appeal to me. All I know and have experienced argues that following that course will just incur `one disappointment after another.

These qualities could be described as those of heart. Head has nothing to do with it. The heart chooses what it wants, then charges the head to devise a convincing rationale. This may lend the appearance that the head is running the show, but it is the heart all along.

There is a downside to being as cocoon-like as many are toward in-depth following of news events. We miss that people everywhere select the facts they like, that support their belief/value/political system, then use them to castigate those of different persuasion. People are like sports fans today. They cheer and boast when their side scores a point, wince and do damage control when their side suffers loss, but on no account do they examine the merits of the other side. There are no end of combative  ‘other sides.’ But we miss much of this due to lumping them all together as ‘the world.’

Critical thinking as a tool in the toolbox is fine. Critical thinking as an overarching philosophy is a joke. We’re not capable of it. Heart trumps head every time. We think the ‘activism’ against the Witness organization is something unique. Instead, it just demonstrates that we stand for something. Everyone that stands for something triggers activism from those of conflicting persuasion. The one way not to trigger ‘activism’ is to be bland and toothless. Then, since your faith doesn’t really matter, since it doesn’t meaningfully stand in the way of predominant secular values, no one has anything to object to.

There is little sense in trying to prove the faith to anyone other than yourself. ‘Prove to yourselves,’ Romans 12:2 says. ‘Taste and see Jehovah is good,’ says the psalm. Taste is subjective. If someone can’t stand the taste of beets, how are you going to prove to them that beets taste good? These days I just present the Bible hope. It appeals to some and does not appeal to others.

When people squawk about Adam and Eve being fairy tale, as many do in the modern world, I say treat them, and all that derives from them, as they would a jigsaw puzzle. When you put together a jigsaw puzzle you do not concern yourself at all with whether the picture on the box cover is real or not. Upon assembling the puzzle and replicating that picture, sometimes that in itself triggers a reassessment of the picture’s validity. 

But if you know the box cover picture is of Josh Grobin, 319D387C-D6AD-4C9D-9213-FBBA941EBC00and you do not like Josh Grobin because after you picked up your wife and her girlfriend from his concert, you learned in a sudden storm that bridge surfaces really do freeze before road pavement (and Josh thereafter didn’t even come to visit you—unlike Mozart, who would have done so), then you will not attempt to put that puzzle together. So it is with the ‘God, prayer, everlasting life, man dominates man to his injury’ puzzle. Some are intrigued to put that puzzle together. To others, the box cover is a turn-off. 

Similarly, prayer is not a topic that you seek to prove to someone else. Does the Bible ever suggest that course? It is personal back and forth with God, without regard for how someone else might view it. If one person thinks such-and-such is an answer to prayer, what business is that of anyone else? Besides, even believers have grown comfortable with saying that, while God answers all prayers, sometimes the answer is no.

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Psalm 53: Commentary—What a Bunch of Schmucks

The foolish one says in his heart: “There is no Jehovah.” Their unrighteous actions are corrupt and detestable; No one is doing good.  (vs 1)

[He doesn’t say it out loud. He just acts as though it were so.]

But God looks down from heaven on the sons of men To see whether anyone has insight, whether anyone is seeking Jehovah. (2)

[Can’t you just picture that? ‘Hmm—how they doing down there?’]

They have all turned away; They are all alike corrupt.  No one is doing good, Not even one. (3)

[‘What a bunch of schmucks!’]

Do none of the wrongdoers understand? They devour my people as if they were eating bread. They do not call on Jehovah. (4)

[‘What on earth is wrong with them?’]

But they will be filled with great terror, Terror they have never felt before, For God will scatter the bones of those attacking you. You will put them to shame, for Jehovah has rejected them. (5)

[‘No matter. I’m gonna mess them up.’]

O that Israel’s salvation may come from Zion! When Jehovah gathers back his captive people, Let Jacob be joyful, let Israel rejoice. (6)

[All’s well that end’s well.]

 

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Jesus and Socrates—the Parallels

We don’t know much about Socrates. If we’re called upon to read his name aloud from print, we say what an embarrassed Michael Jackson said, that he had heard the name many times but had never seen it spelled out. How was he to know it was three syllables and not two? So, what do we know about So-Crates? We know he died from hemlock poisoning. We know he drank it himself, that he had been sentenced to die. And that’s about all we know, plain ‘ol people that we are.

22831E0C-15F6-4966-8358-60D356D7A8EFOf course, if we have had some training on the topic, then we know more. We also know enough to say his name correctly. But most people are rank and file, unconcerned with Socrates because Socrates does not touch upon their daily lives—or if he does, they don’t know just how. They do know about Jesus, however, because Jesus is the lynchpin of the major religion. To be sure, much of what they know about Jesus is wrong, but they do have a lot of wannabe-facts at their disposal, some of which are true, whereas for Socrates they have almost nothing.

Simplify Greek history exponentially by knowing his relationship to other big names of the era. Socrates was one-on-one teacher to Plato, Plato was one-on-one teacher to Aristotle, and Aristotle was one-on-one teacher to Alexander the Great. There, doesn’t that help?

I was already delving into the unlikely. I was already drawing some parallels between Socrates and Jesus. Both had a way of buttonholing people, prodding them to think outside the box. Both attracted a good many followers in this way. Both were outliers to the general world of their time, and were looked upon askance for it. Both infuriated their ‘higher-ups’—so much so that both were consequently sentenced to death. Their venues were different, and so we seldom make the linkage, but linkage there is. As a result of auditing the Great Courses lecture series, I was beginning to play with the idea.

Imagine my satisfaction when I come across one of those professors, J. Rufus Fears, who has not only begun but has fully developed the idea in his lecture series entitled ‘A History of Freedom.’ Happy as a pig in mud I was, for it proved I was not crazy. Nearly all subsequent points are taken from his lecture, “Jesus and Socrates:”

They were both teachers, for one, Jesus of the spiritual and Socrates of the empirical. They both refused pay, a circumstance that in itself aroused the suspicion of the established system. (Victor V. Blackwell, a lawyer who defended many Witness youths in the World War II draft days, observed that local judges recognized only one sort of minister: those who “had a church” and “got paid”—“mercenary ministers,” he called them.)

7CAC7F61-0CCF-44E9-BF12-876C94793101Fears may be a bit too much influenced by evolving Christian ‘theology’—he speaks of Jesus being God, for instance, and the kingdom of God being a condition of the heart—but his familiarity with the details of the day, and the class structure social mores that both Jesus and Socrates’ transgressed against, is unparalleled. Jesus reduces the Law to two basic components: love of God and love of neighbor. This infuriates the Pharisees and Sadducees, because complicating the Law was their meal ticket, their reason for existence. After his Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching, for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.” Depend upon it: the scribes didn’t like him. Socrates, also, did the Sophist’s work—the paid arguers who ‘made the weaker argument look the stronger,’—better than they. They were jealous of him.

Neither Jesus nor Socrates encouraged participation in politics of the day. Jesus urged followers to be “no part of the world.” Socrates declared it impossible for an honest man to survive under the democracy of his time. Both thereby triggered establishment wrath, for if enough people followed their example, dropping out of contemporary life, where would society be?

Both Jesus and Socrates were put to death out of envy. Both had offended the professional class. Both became more powerful in death than in life. Both could have avoided death, but didn’t. Socrates could have backtracked, played upon the jury’s sympathy, appealed to his former military service. Jesus could have brought in witnesses to testify that he never said he was king of the Jews, the only charge that make Pilate sit up and take notice.

Both spoke ambiguously. In Socrates case, he was eternally asking questions, rather than stating conclusions. His goal—to get people to examine their own thinking. In Jesus case, it was “speak[ing]to them by the use of illustrations” because “the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes, so that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back and I heal them.” He spoke ambiguously to see if he could cut through that morass, to make them work, to reach the heart.

What if Jesus were appear on the scene today and enter one of the churches bearing his name, churches where they don’t do as he said? Would they yield the podium to him? Or would they once again dismiss him as a fraud and imposter, putting him to death if he became too insistent, like their counterparts did the first time?

If Jesus is the basis of church, Socrates is no less the basis of university. His sayings had to be codified by Plato, his disciple, just as Jesus’ sayings had to be codified by some of his disciples. Thereafter, Plato’s student, Aristotle, had to turn them into organized form, founding the Academy—the basis of higher learning ever since. Professor Fears muses upon what would happen if Socrates showed up on campus in the single cloak he was accustomed to wearing, “just talking to students, walking around with them, not giving structured courses, not giving out a syllabus or reading list at the start of classes, not giving examination” at the end. Would they not call Security? And if by some miracle he did apply for faculty, which he would not because he disdained a salary, but if he did, you know they would not accept him. Where were his credentials? Yes, he had the gift of gab, they would acknowledge, but such was just a “popularity contest.” Where were his published works?

Similarly, where were Jesus’ published works? Neither Jesus nor Socrates wrote down a thing. It was left for Jesus’ disciples to write gospel accounts of his life. It was left for Plato to write of Socrates’ life. If either were to appear at the institutions supposedly representing their names, they would not be recognized. Shultz, the chronicler of early Watchtower history, recently tweeted that when he appends a few letters to his name, such as PhD, which he can truthfully can, his remarks get more attention than when he does not. He says it really shouldn’t be that way, but it is what it is. Both Jesus and Socrates would have been in Credential-Jail, neither having not a single letter to stick on the end of their name. It wouldn’t help for it to be known that each had but a single garment.

Today people are used to viewing “career” as the high road, “vocation” as the lower. Vocation is associated with working with ones’ hands. Fears turns it around. “Vocation” represents a calling. Jesus was literally called at his baptism: the heavens open up, and God says, “This is my son in whom I am well-pleased.” Socrates had a calling in that the god Apollo at Delphi said no one is wiser than he. Socrates took that to mean God was telling him to go out and prove it. “Career,” on the other hand, stems from a French word meaning “a highway,” a means of getting from one place to another, considerably less noble than “a calling,” a vocation.

We who are Jehovah’s Witnesses are quite used to pointing out that religion has run off the rails. What is interesting from these parallels is the realization that academia has no less run off the rails. Both have strayed far from their roots, and not for the better. Both have devolved into camps of indoctrination.

 

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Do God a Favor Through Sacrifice? — Psalm 50 Commentary

Do God a favor by sacrificing to him?

The best answer to that question is Psalm 50:12. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you.

9FA37A99-17AF-4056-9998-2E0249C0C0C6Of course not. We’re in position to help God out? Isn’t it the other way around? People bluff as though they hold the better hand when they don’t.

Instead, it works this way:

Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, And pay your vows to the Most High; Call on me in the time of distress.  I will rescue you, and you will glorify me.” (vs 14-15)

Other reasons to conclude you’re not in position to bail God out of a spot:

I do not need to take a bull from your house, Nor goats from your pens.  For every wild animal of the forest is mine, Even the beasts upon a thousand mountains. I know every bird of the mountains; The countless animals of the field are mine. . . . For the productive land and everything in it is mine.

Don’t think you can lend him a chicken a help him out.  (vs 9-12)

Then He lays into pig-headed and surly people who carry on as though they do hold all the cards:

But God will say to the wicked: “What right do you have to relate my regulations Or to speak about my covenant? For you hate discipline, And you keep turning your back on my words.”  (vs 16-17)

How’s that working out for them?

When you see a thief, you approve of him, And you keep company with adulterers. You use your mouth to spread what is bad, And deception is attached to your tongue. You sit and speak against your own brother; You reveal the faults of your own mother’s son.” (vs 18-20)

Thieves and liars are put in high places, their misdeeds ignored. Adultery and slander is the way to go. How many will say this isn’t reality today?

And then (doesn’t this resonate?) when they’re not rebuked instantly, they figure they have the green light:

When you did these things, I remained silent, So you thought that I would be just like you.” (vs 21)

But now I will reprove you, And I will state my case against you. Please consider this, you who forget God, So that I may not tear you to pieces with no one to rescue you. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me, And as for the one who follows a set course, I will cause him to see salvation by God.” (vs 21-23)

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Zdogg

“[Drugmakers] Sue Human Immune System For Patent Infringement,” reported the Babylon Bee on January 14, 2022.

It is satirical headline from a satirical source. Still, one nifty conspiracy theory is that some in this industry have come to view the human immune system as ‘competition’ and would like to—ever so slowly so as not to overly attract attention—replace it. It would be not just for profit, though it will be very profitable, but also hubris—those who worship science thinking they can do anything. The human immune system is great, they say, but it doesn’t stop all illness. They aim to remedy that problem with their sciencewhereas anyone with a good dose of godly fear and common sense knows that ‘you don’t mess with the laws of nature.’ 

Zdogg is the establishment doctor. In his snarky rebuttal of Rogan/McCullough (After back-to-back Joe Rogan grand slam interviews, one with Dr. Peter McCullough and one with Dr. Robert Malone, and the intense lobbying effort to get him kicked off Spotify as a consequence) he seriously floats the idea that he is in awe of the magnificent human immune system. That’s why he loves these new mRNA vaccines that train it to do what it has to do! Awesome as it is, it doesn’t know how to do it’s main mission?

I never did get around to saying what I thought of his patronizing twaddle and it’s about time I did. You want to choke him. He points to McCullough’s supposed ‘logic fallacies’ as he commits his own that are far worse. I already posted this guy but here he is again:

Commenting on how Dr McCullough was not swayed by the establishment hit pieces against Ivermectin, he points to how the objection to one was, ‘It wasn’t given soon enough’ and his objection to another, ‘It wasn’t given in combination with the other substances we all use,’ and then complained: “It never ends!” Isn’t a trail of two a little early to say ‘it never ends?’ Of course, the history of the front-line doctors taking the stuff and remaining untouched by Covid in the course of treating thousands of patients—and testifying to this before Congress—is not something he mentions.

And then—this is just a classic with these ‘critical thinking’ champions who take it for granted that they have a lock on the stuff—he admits that he has a bias. He is pro-vaccine. There. He said it. And then carries on as if this makes him a hero, as though it never occurred to anyone else that they too had a starting position! All you have to do these days is admit you have a bias. Instantly you become a hero and your adversary a manipulative Hitler.

He patronizes all in lecturing about ‘causation vs correlation’ as though no one other than he has ever thought of such a thing—whereas they (the doctors he is attacking) all do as a matter of routine. There is also abundant ‘guilt by association.’ And if you say something like “it happens all the time” he dismisses the entire point since it doesn’t happen ALL the time.

If he wasn’t taking out a greater enemy, I almost think tech media would have sought to ban him as well, for he acknowledges McCullough is an expert, and further went on to skewer several sacred cows, asserting that the government has frequently lied, even naming Fauci himself, and stipulating the mandate policy is ridiculous.

And then he dismisses (Rogan told McCullough, who hadn’t heard, about this) the tech fellow who has offered $1 million to anything who will live-debate Covid 19 with him but can’t find any takers with the criticism that Steve Kirsch [I went back to retrieve his name] ‘is a fellow with success in the search engine field who now thinks he knows everything’ and ‘talks a mile a minute’ and has ‘quick command of all the medical studies’ and ‘nobody can possibly keep up with that.’

So it is a crime to be on top of your game? Why can’t he find someone on his side who is on top of his game? Find someone who also  is in-your-face (it is not as though the world suffers for lack of pugnacious people) who also has quick command of papers and research, and who can say, ‘Hold on! What is wrong with this paper is….’  Instead of just saying ‘nobody can keep up with that!’ 

It’s what the anti-cultists do.  If you represent your cause well they present that as a liability! Would they not side with the scribes against Jesus at Matthrew 7:28?  “When Jesus finished these sayings, the effect was that the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching, for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.”

‘That’s because they were listening to a manipulative cult leader,’ they would say. ‘Nobody can keep up with that stuff!’

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At the New System Dinner Table: Part 6–the Coming Civil War?

(See Part 1 and Part 2) Part 3 Part 4 Part 5)

In their mid-thirties, Howie and his wife are at long last having a child. Thus, Howie, whose own dad has long accused him of ‘shooting blanks,’ is at last vindicated. (No, he’s not from one of the congregations.)

So it is with the new system dinner table congregants. Are they shooting blanks? The pandemic ‘turned the world upside down’ one of them said. Has it righted itself? Here we are back in door-to-door service and some thought it would never happen. (See Part 4)

An item on the read list now being read, Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, suggests they are not. The ‘team or rivals’ is the cabinet Abraham Lincoln assembled just after his election, ones who had been his rivals. Lincoln came out of nowhere to be his party’s nominee in 1860, beating out politicians of greater stature. He had run with the stratagem of being everyone’s second choice. Insult no one. Make no enemies as you gradually nurture your own candidacy. That way, if any of the rivals shoot themselves in the foot, which they all did, victory falls to you! But that is for another post.

Hashtag ‘civil war’ today on social media and you will find it comes up a lot, just as talk of it did before the actual Civil War that Lincoln quelled. For all the talk, few people believed it would happen then, either—until it did. Might history repeat? Might that be akin to ‘the world being turned upside down.’ Civil war in the U.S. is not civil war everywhere, of course, but much of the world is just as divided, just as waiting for a spark to set off the powder keg.

Was it first observed in Tom Irregardless and Me that people are like sports fans today? They cheer when their side scores a point, wince and spin into damage-control when their side suffers a setback. But on no account do they look at the merits of the other side, for that would be fraternizing with the ‘enemy.’ 

The trend has only become more pronounced. A Pew survey released during August 2018 revealed that, as regards politics, not only can countrymen not agree on how to act in light of the facts, but they cannot even agree on what the facts are! With no agreement on the facts there can be no starting point for discussion. A recipe for civil war? In rare political agreement, and yet division at the same time, 70% of Americans—be they Republicans or Democrats—think democracy is in jeopardy. ‘Yeah, and it’s the other guys fault!’ they both shout.

Okay, okay, maybe not yet. But it could turn over in a heartbeat, just like the SS Poseidon did upon running into a tsunami. There are enough tsunami’s around today for that to happen. Who doesn’t say, ‘What in the world is going on today?’ And then it will be a mad dash for the hull, the new ‘up’ in the capsized boat, as the banners will scream, like they did in the movie ‘Who will survive?’

B346ECF6-C389-45C7-9963-B193C94A657E(photo: Wikipedia)

Whoa! When did that Poseidon world turn upside down? (See the poster) At midnight! Just like when someone sneered, ‘Why do you Jehovah’s Witnesses always have to think things are getting worse? What does that view do for you?’

‘It helps me to explain why the Doomsday Clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight and not 10:30 AM,’ I replied to someone. Given that nuclear weapons are seriously floated as an option in Ukraine v Russia, and that the North Korean head of state is launching a test one every time you turn around (‘Rocketman,’ Trump called him) maybe it’s time to nudge that clock ahead a little, close to midnight though it already is.

 

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