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

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

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

Early in 2017, every Jehovah’s Witness in the world was invited to write letters to designated Russian officials, urging that justice be done in their case. I wrote one. Here is my expanded version.
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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of January 17, 2022

You gotta hand it to the bros. Working hard as they do to spin gold regarding worship, morals, organization, and even family from those last chapters of Judges. If there were Nobel prizes awarded for religious instruction…. #midweekmeeting

Another point on Judges 20:16– “In this army were 700 chosen men who were left-handed. Every one of these men could sling a stone to within a hairbreadth and would not miss. …Literally it is they “would not sin” and illustrates the meaning of sin—missing the mark.

Why do I think of the All in the Family episode in which the Meathead quotes some horrific Bible account, Gloria exclaims “That’s terrible!” and Archie corrects her with: “That’s beautiful—it’s in the Bible!”   ?

I recall the explanation that the Bible is a record of history, covering when humans obeyed God, disobeyed him, and simply lived their lives separately, ignoring or unaware of him. …1/2

Judges closes: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Each one was doing what was right in his own eyes.” I guess….2/2

It’s just a function of camera lens, angle, and chairs, I know—but it looks as though the father-son ‘Bible study’ takes place in the cockpit of a plane.

The third paragraph calls to mind that CO of long ago, confronted by a dogmatist who asserted every WORD of the Bible was literally true—asking him if he had his hip boots ready for strolling through that promised land “flowing with milk and honey.”

 

“There is a river the streams of which make the city of God rejoice…”Ps 46:4

Also the healing & deepening waters of Ezekiel bringing life to the Dead Sea.

And the Zech 14:2 “living waters” flowing from the city of Jerusalem …1/2

And the deepening river waters of Revelation 22:1-2, emanating from the throne, bringing life to everything on the banks.

And Jesus—source of “living waters” …An oft-used illustration….2/2

 

The #publictalk begins with quotes from Sagan’s A Pale Blue Dot. It is so eloquent that—Yes! Our library has a copy—I will check it out.…Voyager 1, just before leaving the solar system, snapped a pic of what was left behind—just a ‘pale blue dot’ not even a pixel.

Speaker discusses at length ‘two critters’—the saltwater crocodile and South African katydid. 46616BFE-69C4-4BEE-8551-F9DE0B06BD66Much taken with a Bristol U “that devotes its time to investigation of biological science.” ‘Invisible qualities clearly seen from the world’s creation onward,’ he develops the thought.

Speaker points out that the ‘inexcusable’ of Rom 1:20 derives from a word that was a legal term for when a person is unable to present any evidence in his defense. I didn’t know that: ‘invisible qualities ..clearly seen…perceived by the things made…so that they are inexcusable’

 

#watchtowerstudy Newly Married Couples​—Build Your Life Around Serving Jehovah“Jehovah is my strength . . . In him my heart trusts.”​—PS. 28:7.SONG 131 “What God Has Yoked Together”

Para 4: Money, in-laws and children the most frequent source of marital conflicts, one bro observes from some book he read somewhere or other.

Para 9. A look at how Isaiah and wife (the prophetess) set fine example as a couple in worshipping God. All well and good, as long as you stay away from naming your kid Mahershalalhashbaz.’  Poor kid.

(with one notable exception, it turns out)

Para 12: Turns out we know a couple roughly in the position of Russell & Elizabeth in Micronesia. Chased out of the country by a government turned unstable, they say the most common question they are asked is, What did you do with your stuff? They keep their footprint light….1/2

When locals offered to sell their remaining stuff, they related the thought, ‘Yeah, right—I’m going to ask you, who have nothing, to sell our stuff and send me the dough! Sell or use it yourself in the event we don’t come back.’…2/2

“I apologize, friends, I’m not doing very well with the pictures today,” the #Watchtower conductor says. Pur Lower his pay!

An aside on a certain one’s unyielding untechsavviness. Stop it Tommy Stop it! Take another sip of your coffee offscreen and keep your mouth shut!

Para 14: ‘He chose wisely.’ [Peter, of his decision to accompany Jesus]. Why do I think of that Indiana Jones movie with the same statement from which a former co-worker said she first learned that God’s name is Jehovah?

Para 16: “Whose advice can young couples seek when assessing their goals in life?” the question says.…‘Tom Harley,’ my wife does an aside—I think a reference to how she imagines I don’t shut up. (crazy woman)

 

My bookstore page:

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Elon Musk does the Babylon Bee: Part 3–Ben Franklin

To begin the entire thread, start here.

One of those ten squirrelly questions 8F888CB8-524A-452A-AE1A-697E85D251F8the Babylon Bee guys ask Elon Musk  before getting to their main one was: ‘Were you able to meet anyone you want, living or dead, who would it be?’ Musk thinks a moment, and then suggests, well—maybe Ben Franklin.

Way to go, Elon. Good choice. Among the American ‘forefathers,’ it was Ben who was the Renaissance man—mastering myriad activities, just like Musk. It is he who came closest to grasping the spot of first USA resident philosopher. He never sought public office but also never turned it down. They would draft him as a compromise candidate— a capable workhorse that would get the job done rather than the hotheads or milquetoasts in the wings that would screw things up.

His visit as diplomat was a sensation in French society—his visit to the dying Voltaire the grand climax, as though the too-long-delayed meeting of corresponding national philosophic titans. ‘Look how he lets his grey hair fall unadorned upon his head!’ the French society women swooned, so different to French heroes who coiffed themselves up to high heaven.

Franklin mused on theological things too in a quirky sort of way. He wrote a short story on a resurrection snafu, and called it ‘A Proposal to Madame Helvetius.’ She did exist. She was a widow and Ben proposed to her. She turned him down. Did he work out his heartbreak though storytelling?

Here is a source that claims the proposal was just good-natured fun, but I seem to recall the Great Courses professor in his series of lectures on Ben Franklin claiming the statesman truly was smitten with her. Maybe I have it wrong. I’ll have to check it out someday and the material is not now at my fingertips. At any rate:

In the story, he wrote how he had courted the widow of his good friend, but the woman turned him down flat, saying how she could never be untrue to her husband even though deceased. Then, in a dream, Ben went to heaven and meets the husband, an old friend. They exchange pleasantries and friend says: “You must meet my new wife. She’ll be along soon.”

Ben Franklin is dismayed! ‘Your earthly wife is more loyal than you!’ he rebuked. ‘She turned me down cold on your account!’ ‘That’s too bad for you,’ the friend says. ‘She is an excellent woman and I missed her terribly at first, but now I am in a new place and it is time to move on.’

As Ben Franklin grumbles, the ‘new’ wife shows up—and it is Ben’s own deceased wife! Ben now turns to scolding her, but she will have none of it. “I was a good and loyal wife to you for 50 years,” she says. “Let that be enough for you!”

Franklin was anything but a pious guy. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have plenty of respect for Christianity. To the Constitutional Convention that would forge a replacement for the Articles of Confederation, he pleaded for a return to the “prayer piety” that had helped inspire the revolution:

“I have lived a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little partial local interests. Our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and byword down into future ages. And what is worse, mankind may here thereafter from this unfortunate instance despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.”

Okay, so it’s not a ‘quick and solid acceptance of Jesus as his Lord and Savior,’ as the Babylon Bee sought from Elon Musk. But it does hold Christian principles in high esteem, much like Elon’s own answer to the missionary Babylon Bee host. He’s not very religious, he says, but “if Jesus is saving people, I mean, I won't stand in His way. Sure, I’ll be saved. Why not?” Allowing for a 200+ year gap between the two Renaissance men, it works well enough.

Now, what can be said of the Babylon Bee itself?

To be continued:

 

Visit the bookstore.

 

 

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of January 10, 2022

#midweekmeeting Pumping up for the Bible reading this week, Judges 17-19. Sigh—the sooner we leave behind Judges the better. 

Checking the schedule now to see who is the bro who gets stuck putting lipstick on this one. Look, it’s ancient, crazy different customs and underpinnings. I get it. Underlying value there somewhere, I am sure. I just like when other people are assigned to find it, not me.

Only relatively recently did I learn what a ‘wifebeater shirt’ is. (No, not from experience, nor do I wear them) My goodness, what a loser is that guy in the picture! Yes, she should have stayed where she was. I admit that counsel is being laid on with a trowel…1/2

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Still, I know someone in roughly those circumstances….2/2

My spiritual gem from Judges 19 is that I will not be begging my son-in-law to stay with me, as the fellow there repeatedly does (vs 4, 6. 9) The standing joke is that my son-in-law exists to clean out my fridge, just as I cleaned out the fridges of others long ago.

The proper answer to that householder who says he recently found work IS NOT, “Great. Can I borrow five dollars?”

The Dead Sea Scrolls predates the Masoretic text and includes 5 instances of God’s name that the latter work does not. Got it. Good work. But the footnote makes it not entirely clear the rationale for Judges 19:18, “restored as a result of further study of ancient manuscripts.”

I dunno. How much ‘local needs’ can you cover in five minutes? I know one bro who takes five minutes just to unmute himself. Our bro covered quite a bit, though. (I think he went overtime)

I told that elder I love to tease that, while I would be scared to deliver a hard-hitting message of doom, maybe I could overcome my fears if I had some practice. Therefore, would he mind if I was the one to announce when he was to give the public talk?

Even today it fits as Jesus foretold, “people will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth,” (Luke 21:25-27) contrasted with others who see it but reach different conclusions (vs 28), but it becomes more so in time.

 

Today’s #publictalk is entitled ‘How to Cultivate Peace in an Angry World.’

He begins with the story of a lynching—the kind of thing you would expect from an angry world

‘First you will evict the ruinous tenants from your home. Then you will let it out to better ones.’ The speaker uses this well-worn but always a favorite illustration in telling how God will cleanse the earth.

“When we want to cultivate a garden, is it something that just comes together on its own?” the speaker says, as he displays a photo of (I presume) his own meticulously manicured vegetable garden. The same effort must go into ‘cultivating peace’

Break the cycle of violence. Upper rising star, in elite military unit, bro and 2 sisters killed, he knew where the village will, waiting for a train.

‘Who Really Rules the World?’ The speaker displays a photo of that tract handed to someone at the train station, traveling to exact deadly violence upon someone who had done him wrong—and he abandoned that course.

Is this #publicspeaker bro in real estate? He illustrates (and contrasts) the ransom with a ‘short sale.’ Yes, there is ‘forgiveness’ but it is not unconditional. You’ll pay taxes on the forgiven amount & your credit will be ruined.

2 Cor 4:4-5 weapons powerful for overturning reasonings. God’s Holy Spirit can overcome strongly entrenched things. Ask Jehovah God to replace thoughts of anger with compassion and peace, Eph 4:25, be made new in dominant mental attitude.

“Sharing the Bible’s upbuilding message was far more refreshing than sharing in demonstrations and (a frequent result) riots,” the speaker quotes a bro from Timor, and then goes on to comment s on the horrendous suffering inflicted on some & how to overcome.

Seriously—if I leave the scene, our Zoom screen dramatically darkens. I my wife leaves the scene, the same thing happens. Only if we are both onscreen is the lighting bright. No idea why, and no—I don’t read any metaphysical divine approval of marriage into it. But its strange.

 

#WatchtowerStudy is entitled “Continue Showing Loyal Love to One Another.  “Deal with one another in loyal love and mercy.”​—ZECH. 7:9 is the theme verse

The conductor says of the Watchtower Study, that it fits in exactly with our Public Talk. Fair game. It did. Planning or happy coincidence? Never have I heard (tho I would sometimes say it for a laugh) ‘for a change, this study has nothing whatsoever to do with the public talk.’

Let us leave untouched (for now) how today BOTH the Watchtower conductor and the reader, a father-son combo, are ‘the elder[s] I love to tease’—two guys not wound up too tight with fantastic senses of humor.

Para 6- on loyalty to an employer. One bro comments on Kodak, once the area’s premiere employer. Many bros worked there their entire lives (some would say ‘Jehovah provides’). Company commanded intense loyalty—though it went belly-up.

Para 9: Alas!—Naomi figured God had it in for her: “The hand of Jehovah has turned against me….The Almighty has made life very bitter for me…..It is Jehovah who opposed me and the Almighty who caused me calamity.”​—Ruth 1:13, 20, 21.10.

Para 11: “Speak consolingly to those who are depressed, support the weak, be patient toward all.”​—1 Thess. 5:14.

Ha! The conductor (the bro I love to tease) indulged his occasional quirk of asking a ‘bonus question’—and it was the very next printed question!

Para 18: “Jehovah made me return empty-handed.” With those words, Naomi did not even acknowledge the support of Ruth, who was standing next to her. How painful that must have been for Ruth!” ….1/2

Yes, She’d suffered huge loss, but didn’t really have ‘nothing’ & it must have pained Ruth to be dismissed as ‘nothing.’ She hung in there nonetheless, helping a loved one to regain emotional & spiritual balance…..2/2

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Elon Musk does the Babylon Bee: Part 2–Being Saved

(See Part 1)

As the Babylon Bee interview with Elon Musk winds down, the BB guys ask Musk their ten questions, which are like the Ten Commandments only not so important, one of them explains. No. They’re not. But they certainly are eclectic.

By far the most interesting to me is whether he had ever punched or been punched. He hesitated a few seconds—you had to hesitate in order to process any of the oddball questions. Then he said he had been raised in a very violent area and had been punched in the face many times. He added that ‘Whoever said that words sting more than blows had never been punched in the face.’

Why is this the most interesting response? Because of the obvious inferences you can draw about bouncing back from ill treatment. I wonder how those ne’er do wells who socked him are doing these days?

But it is the last question from the evangelical site that is the real zinger. Will they really screw up their courage to ask it? They do—and you have to admire them for it—even as you reflect that absolutely no groundwork has been laid.

“We're wondering if you could do us a quick solid and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? … Personal Lord and Savior. It's a quick prayer."

What in the world is Musk going to do with that question? It’s a complete nonsequitor  from anything they have been talking about in a one-hour interview. But that is true of any of the ten questions. Probably that’s why they asked the other nine—to loosen him up for this big one. Get him to answer the screwy nine, and anything is fair game.

Musk is a great guy and all—don’t get me wrong—but he plainly has no background to commit. And he knows it. You can’t just dive into something knowing nothing about it. Another of those ten oddball questions is, “if you could add a book to the Bible, what would it be?” Um—well maybe a 2nd Revelation, one that is more chipper and that tells how it all works out, he hedges, not knowing that the actual Revelation does just that. It is a quirky question from guys that run a quirky ministry and he is not quite sure what to do with it but presently responds in kind that ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ might do in case the guys have in mind an already existing book.

Jehovah’s Witnesses would ask that question too—not that one exactly, but one reasonably similar to it. But it would be asked only after considerable groundwork had been laid—groundwork which would take many months. It would involve a personal home Bible study. Otherwise, how meaningful can an answer to that question possibly be? You might fall this trap:

Said Jesus: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matt 7:21-23)

I mean, you have to know what you are getting into. If you don’t, how can you commit to doing “the will of my Father who is in the heavens?” You don’t even know what it is! Yet evangelicals ask this question all the time, convinced that the answer is meaningful.

If they ask it to me—will you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?—I will reply to the effect that I think I already have. But I hesitate to gush too much about it before these guys because I’m not quite sure of their own definition. Most of them think that Jesus is God. They buy into the trinity doctrine. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. Jesus is God’s Son, not God himself. Almost all of the Bible verses said to ‘prove’ the trinity would, if they were seen in any other context, be instantly dismissed as figure of speech.

They did ask it of me long ago, along with my two pals. Just out of high school, we piled in my car and took a week-long trip, camping as we went. B3B7B55D-8D0C-47D0-930A-B16D2CE8843AJust outside of Washington DC, a born-again character stumbled into our campsite and wanted to know if we’d accepted the Lord. No one actually had the nerve to tell him ‘Get Lost’—not even the inclination, since we did sort of respect him for what he was doing. Maybe we even thought that we should be more interested than we really were. But it was pure emotion, nothing particularly logical, which didn’t quite cut it by itself. We spent the rest of our trip composing and singing songs mocking him.

Of course, we were stupid kids. Musk is a grown man. He’s not going to go around mocking anybody—or at least not them. He likes these guys. He’s not opposed to the program. But neither is he a new foot soldier.

I give him a lot of credit. Upon processing the request, he allows how he “agree[s] with the principles that Jesus advocated. There's some great wisdom in the teachings of Jesus, and I agree with those teachings.” He mentions a few. "But hey,” he adds, “if Jesus is saving people, I mean, I won't stand in His way. Sure, I'll be saved. Why not?" Close enough, the guys seem to feel. It’s not an out and out bullseye, but it satisfied them. It’s consistent with what he said in 2020 after the Dragon Capsule successfully splash landed into the Gulf of Mexico—that he had prayed about that mission, even though he is “not very religious.”

“These are difficult times,” he said then, “when — you know, there's not that much good news — and I think this is one of those things that is universally good no matter where you are on planet Earth, this is a good thing, and I hope it brightens your day." 

To be continued:

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of January 3, 2022

Samson’s choice of women was his ‘Achilles heel,’ the #midweekmeeting speaker says. ‘Terrible terrible choices’…’how could he be so dumb?’ The theme from that lead-off talk: ‘Betrayal—How Contemptible.’…1/2 #midweekmeeting

He did not say ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’ but he said as much in other words. …Delilah nagged Samson until he revealed his secret….2/2

Lug those city gates for 37 miles? The bro covering the review picks a town 37 miles from our #KingdomHall for illustration.

‘Zeroing in on the flaws of others may distract us from who the real enemy is,’ one sis says.

It’s one thing for Delilah to say ‘the Phillistines are upon you!’ three times but Samson never actually sees them because they are waiting in the wings than for him to chase them off three times, yet still tell his secret….1/2

I mean, that is some kind of stupid, and Judges 16 doesn’t actually say they fell upon him three times, only that he was told they were….2/2

And what about that old joke I once read in Mad Magazine: Samson gives final performance—brings down the house….Did young Johnny really used to bring in Mad Magazine encased in the Watchtower? Nonetheless, he grew up to be a fine bro.

One sis phrases her ‘Initial Call’ talk that ‘the Bible is a book of promises made and promises kept, as she introduces the video ‘Why Study the Bible.’   

Next is introduction to the video, ‘The Bible Saved Our Marriage.’ Worth doing whenever possible.  ‘We couldn’t communicate without it being an argument,’ the sis recalls. ‘It took a long time before things got better.’

God taking wheels off the chariots—I love that image at Exodus 14:25

“The apostle Paul expressed our conviction with these inspired words: “If God is for us, who will be against us?”​—Rom. 8:31.

A lasting image at Zechariah 2:8–‘Whoever touches you touches the pupil of my eye.’   ‘Something gets in your eye—you don’t wait a couple hours to deal with it,’ one bro says.

PETER: “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, . . . and earth and the works in it will be exposed.”​—2 Pet. 3:10.    I like the expression ‘will be exposed.’ It is exposed now as not having a clue on anything. Will be exposed as utterly powerless.

The chairman reads off next week’s assignments, and then: “oh—sorry. I think I have it one week off—give everyone heart failure.”

So many times in history have villains gone down by turning on each other.   “I will call for a sword against him on all my mountains,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Every man’s sword will be against his own brother” (Ezekiel 38:21). Can foreglimmerings not be seen today?

 

#Publictalk today is Do You have the Evangleizing Spirit?

The speaker today is a descendant of that great drywall family empire. I don’t think he is himself though. Let it never be said that the JW membership doesn’t include scads of builders—which does come in handy sometimes…1/2

I think it has always been that way. 2 timothy 2:15,   Do your it utmost as….a “workman” with nothing to be ashamed of. Christianity is at its core a ‘blue collar religion’ and branches out from there, never dishonoring its roots…2/2

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“If storm approaching, the speaker says, how many times does news report it?” Are you kidding me? It’s the only thing TV news is good at—reporting weather. That and shootings on an endless repeat loop. #IfItBleedsItLeads

 

#WatchtowerStudy: “What Does Jehovah’s Loyal Love Mean to You?”   theme scripture: “[Jehovah’s] loyal love endures forever.”​—PS. 136:1

Ha! That toddler chooses to REALLY SQUAWK while his mom is giving a comment. In a panic, his dad reaches for the mute button but them remembers his wife is speaking!

Para 4: “That description [loyal love] is mentioned six more times in the Bible. (Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2)”

What I notice is how often occasions arose that if he DIDN’T have loyal love he might have said, ‘Alright! I’m done! I’m outta here!’

Para 9: “Know that Jehovah will treat his loyal one in a special way; Jehovah will hear when I call to him.” Ps 4:3   Love the unworded music video for this one. I recall inviting a certain unknowing return visit to write a screenplay for it.

https://www.jw.org/en/library/videos/#en/mediaitems/VODBibleTeachings/pub-jwbcov_201605_11_VIDEO

Para 10: “The refrain [of Ps 136] “for his loyal love endures forever” assures us that God’s love for his people is not fickle.”   Yes. A repeating refrain would do that, wouldn’t it? Repeated 26 times!…1/2

There must be hundreds of songs from my childhood I used to hear on the radio. Few of them can I recall word for word. Yet none of them have I forgotten the refrain…..2/2

Para 12 reminds me of an Isaac Bashevis Singer short story of a Jewish priest so merciful that he could not bring himself to kill the sacrificial animals. Town life ground to a halt. Finally someone told him he didn’t have to be more merciful than God.

Para 13: “As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.” (Ps. 103:11, 12).  This is my son’s first Bible reading, deliverer eons ago. I can still see him working on the obvious gestures called for.

Para 17: “The prophet Jeremiah stated: “It is because of Jehovah’s loyal love that we have not come to our finish, for his mercies never end.” (Lam. 3:22)”

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!’ (free)

Scrabble Games with My Brother (who cheats): What’s New?

Let’s keep up with all the latest Scrabble games. I’ll update this biweekly for every game. Should you like more, try my ebook ‘My Brother Does Nothing but Cheat.’ which throws in many an animal simile and even includes childhood pictures of my brother annoying me on purpose!

Okay, Here goes:

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All the cheating in the world (and he tried most of it) did not help my brother last night. 422 to 340. My brilliant two bingos easily crushed his pathetic single one and the fact that I drew the z, j, x, along with both blanks, had nothing to do with it!

Jehonadab said: “I had to look up that "ae." Never saw it before. I discovered not only is it playable, but so is its variant, "yae." And that could serve to get you out of a tough spot one day.”

“You don’t even know what ae means!” I charged my brother when he put it down. “I know you’ve used it,” he said.

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Elon Musk Does the Babylon Bee: Part 1

The Babylon Bee has taken to embedding that interview with Elon Musk into their posts. As well they should—who would ever have thunk Musk would show up there for an interview? Apparently one of the BB crew had mused about what it would be like to interview Elon Musk, whereupon Elon Musk, who is a fan, contacted them. ‘You want to do an interview? I can do it Sunday.’

I watched it. I confess my opinion of him soared. [Get it? He’s a rocket guy. Ha ha ha] I had expected a guy with serious eccentricities. Instead, he is surprisingly (one more time—sorry:) ‘down to earth.’

I like it when people are uncomplicated. The BB guys were stumbling around—one of them fessed up how unqualified he felt to interview Musk, and seized upon, ‘Could H&R Block do his taxes?’ They easily could, was the unexpected reply. His finances are completely transparent. He stashes money nowhere, draws no salary, and “does not live a life of conspicuous consumption.”  His worth is all in his 20% stake of two companies that became huge. He does not ‘diversify.’ If Tesla and SpaceEx went bankrupt, he would too, immediately, and he stated his belief that it should be that way—if his investors suffered, he should too. And there were many times early on when the companies veered perilously close to bankruptcy.

He just wasn’t flakey as I anticipated he would be. He’s sending rockets into space, laying plans to colonize Mars, so you expect—I mean these guys are almost always this way—him to rhapsodize about the billions and billions of stars that just have to be home to brilliant aliens. Instead he says, “If anyone would know about evidence of aliens it would be me, and I’ve seen nothing.”

Probably he’s all swooning and agog over the trendy ‘metaverse’ to come, I figured. Instead, “I don’t know if I necessarily buy into all this metaverse stuff….It just sounds kind of buzzwordy.” And that neurolink that he speaks of implanting into people and it makes everyone think he’s a mad scientist? Oh—it makes perfect sense when he explains it. Even in the best person, the mind thinks at lightning speed. Computers and the internet operate at lightening speed. It is all hampered by the snail like interface: the speed at which we manually type. What if we could bypass that? But he’s not even thinking about regular people. He’s thinking of those impaired, like those with locked syndrome, fully alive in their head, but unable to move a muscle. “That ought to help a lot of people,” he says of his envisioned neurolink.

One of the guys brought up his online squabble with a senator (Elizabeth Warren). “She struck first,” he said. “She did actually call me a freeloader and a grifter who doesn’t pay taxes. I’m literally paying the most tax that any individual in history has ever paid this year, ever, and she doesn’t pay taxes, basically. And her taxes and salary is paid for by the taxpayer like me. If you could die by irony, she would be dead.” He told the senator, among other things, that she reminded him of his mom who used to periodically enter the family room to yell at him along with all his friends for no discernible reason.

He’s paying the most tax in history because he sold some Tesla shares to do so. Other than that—he draws no salary and doesn’t live high—“What am I supposed to do?” he says. “Do I send shares to the government? Unless I sell shares there is no actual mechanism to pay tax. So I said ‘should I sell 10% in order to pay tax?’ I asked Twitter and, on balance, they said yes.”

He had observations about humor too, and spoke of the “woke mind virus” that he thinks is spoiling it all. “Wokeness wants to make comedy illegal. … Do we want a humorless society that is simply rife with condemnation and hate, basically?” he asked. “At its heart, wokeness is divisive, exclusionary, and hateful. It basically gives mean people a shield to be cruel, armored in false virtue.” Works for me.

Seems to me the guy uses Twitter as diversion, as B.W. Shultz put it, a guy as old as time who has co-authored two volumes of the most exhaustive historical research out there on forces that shaped the early Bible students who later branded themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses, my people. Shultz likened Twitter to the background chatter of a coffee shop that you can follow with half an ear and participate in whenever you wish. Yeah. That makes three of us. I view it that way too.

All told, I’m not sure that Elon Musk fits into that seanburkeshow satire of the BBC science documentaries—the one that speaks of extremely hot places like the sun and extremely cold places like “the arse end of Jupiter,” before cutting to scenes of “the most massive entities in the universe, such as the egos of billionaires”—and there against a backdrop of stars is a superimposed Musk, Bezos, and Branson. I don’t think Musk belongs there. He just doesn’t strike me as a person of insufferable ego. The mock professor Burke, “dressed as a cool substitute teacher,” also has concerns about finding aliens, but they are not the same as Musk’s and he needs to down several beers in order to spill them. It’s a tiny bit crude, but survivable.

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At interview’s end the Babylon Bee guys ask Musk their ten questions, which are like the Ten Commandments only not so important one of them says. They ask them of every interviewee. They’re oddball questions, most of them, that take Musk by surprise as they would anyone. But Elon is cool, not wound up too tight, and he regroups. The final question—since the Babylon Bee is a ministry, its founder points out, is—will he really screw up his courage and ask it? Yes! He presses on: “We're wondering if you could do us a quick solid and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? … Personal Lord and Savior. It's a quick prayer."

Just how does the richest man in the world deal with that one?

To be continued…

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of December 27, 2021

#Publictalk: Why Fear the True God?  Everything is vanity—“has no lasting value” is Solomon’s conclusion of ordinary life, Eccles 12:13-14,

“The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole obligation of man.  For the true God will judge every deed, including every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.” Eccles 12:13-14

“The words of the wise are like oxgoads….like…embedded nails…As for anything besides these,…be warned: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.” Eccles 12:10….Surely this doesn’t mean MY books, which have many nails.

I well know that some are doing secret sin here on Zoom, sipping coffee. Would they do it at the Kingdom Hall? Well, maybe not SECRET sin, for they do it onscreen. It is only me who does it offscreen, like a whale sounding. One student was troubled by this. She may have a point…1/2

“Do you not have houses for eating and drinking?” says Paul. Yeah, and I’m in it. But I still begin to feel she has a point. Formal pants will be next….2/2

 

Do Not Give Up! is title of #watchtowerstudy

Theme verse: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine.”​—GAL. 6:9

Para 5: “Further, opposers may temporarily succeed in interfering with our efforts to carry out our ministry in the usual way.” (1 Cor. 16:9; 10)

Yeah. Especially if they are spiked opposers.

Para 6: the ‘work’ remembered, (Heb. 6:10) , ‘your labor’ not in vain (1 Cor 15:58), independent of results.

Para 11: God said: “You must go into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Gen. 6:18)

No instructions for building guest rooms.

There you go sir. You’re room is #143, just down the hall past the hippo quarters.”  Nope. Noah didn’t have to say it. #NoGuestRoomsOnTheArk

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Huh. One sis relates how she was the teen sent to the door to get rid of the Witnesses & how she read the materials offered, they made sense to her, and she eventually become one

Para 14: Imagine that sis persevering in 1940s tough Quebec. “Over time, I was arrested 15 times. When we went out in field service, we made sure to carry our toothbrush and comb with us in case we had to spend the night in jail.”

Para 16: Yikes. The guys that dealt with the baggage:

“However, every bad and worthless man among those who had gone with David said: “Since they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we recovered…” (1 Samuel 30:22) Overruled, you #badandworthless men.

 

Not exactly a good start to this week’s #midweekmeeting’s Bible reading is it?

“Again the Israelites did what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes…”.  (Judges 13:1)

Frequent references to Samson this week due to our Bible reading. The dog, also named Samson, looks up quizzically from time to time. Our Samson is not the one who pushes apart the pillars. Our Samson pees on them.

The Philistines were the bad boys of the Hebrew Scriptures, says one bro,

 

These guys apparently do riddles like people today do Wheel of Fortune.…“Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.” (Judges 14:14)

Often looking into ancient culture reveals something that reads weird as all get out actually did happen back in the day.

Ha! Here is Jade thinking that meditation is ‘ooommmmmm.’ Not no more.

One local sis framed how some feel: ‘It’s not a cake until you mix the ingredients.’

Is the bro wearing a tie that suggests great rage is flaring up?

 

‘I’ve always wondered how these two came together—Abigail and Nabel,’ one bro says.

 

‘Who would want to make God angry?’ one sis says. ‘Not me.’

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Predators on Earth?

For a time, the Witness organization had a thing for Arnold Toynbee. (See para 2) There is a skit somewhere in the archives—was it presented at a District Convention?—in which a Witness teen quotes the historian’s words likening nationalism to a divisive scourge on the planet. Wasn’t it witnessing to her teacher, presenting a class project, explaining her non-participation in rah-rah politics, or something like that?

The intent was that the recipient would see the plain choice between human rule (which meant nationalism) and God’s rule (which meant the kingdom). Matthew 6:10 says: “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth.

Never did those brothers imagine a third choice would emerge. Never did they imagine that humans would see the shortfalls of nationalism and devise another human scheme to get around it. Never did they imagine a movement of “globalism” would emerge—a separate means of maintaining human rule.

It has emerged. And it is what fuels “conspiracy theories”— the suspicion that someone is doing end runs around their cherished national identities. Of course, it must be done by powerful persons—nobody ordinary would be able to pull it off. And it must be done clandestinely—the ordinary people would never allow it. Paul McCartney notwithstanding, the globalist movement does not wait for the broken-hearted people living on the earth to agree, for it knows they never will. People love their national sovereignties. So they must be bulldozed over.

Here the Breggin book stumbles, methinks, after getting so much right in a book that is very thorough and assiduously documented. I’m reminded of those Watchtower articles differentiating between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The first is the accumulation of facts. The second is the application of those facts. The third is appreciating how all the parts fit together.

Breggin is just my chosen example—most of them do it. He doesn’t present current events as nationalism (popularism) versus another scheme of human rule. He presents it as present government versus underhanded schemes to scuttle it. Why does he do that? The globalists are “saving the world” in their eyes. They may be evil but are they more evil than those in the status quo? They are, he firmly believes, and in the context of a vaccine debate, they don’t fare well at all in his book. All systems of human rule give with one hand and take away with another. And, of course, he is completely unaware of the third choice, God’s kingdom, which is the only choice that can be trusted to do a “great reset.” Absent knowledge of the third option, one can rail against the great reset and lose sight of the truth that things really do need resetting—it is just that you can’t trust humans to do it.

He labels certain massive organizations of government and business, and even some individuals, as global predators, and “we are the prey.” Why does he do that? Rather than present how they are motivated by a quest for “wealth, self-aggrandizement, and power”—the phrase occurs at least a dozen times, in their eyes they are “saving the planet” from the scourge of nationalism that has consistently failed it—and now the back of that planet is up against a wall. People saving the planet are not going to saw off the branch they are sitting on. Given the self-interest that the world runs on, the only question to ask is to what degree will they fortify it?

At first glance—no, you don’t call them predators, because it implies their motive is to rip and tear solely for their own benefit. Though—at second glance—aren’t the very rulerships on earth likened to “beasts” in the Bible? (Daniel 7:17) Maybe predators is not so inappropriate after all. The beasts also issue high sounding statements of how their intention is only to benefit the people, but the Bible likens them to beasts all the same.

I was dubious—who would not be—at any claim that certain individuals, no matter how wealthy, could be on the same predator list that includes entire organizations. Had not this author watched too many James Bond movies? However just after President Trump discontinued US funding for WHO (World Health Organization) Bill Gates compensated. WHO promptly accommodated his interests and redefined ‘herd immunity’ to remove any concept of natural protection from exposure and make it only a goal achievable by vaccine. (see para 6)

For one man to substitute for the budget of an entire nation, and for one man to within a day reframe a century-old health definition—it is enough for me to concede why someone might put him on the list.

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of December 20, 2021

How to Conquer Evil with Good was the title of the #publictalk. Strange how not too long after I heard it I encountered someone who I wish had heard it as well, for he was about 2 embark on a (nonviolent) Rambo mission to avenge some wrongs that is likely to get him steamrollered

The speaker considers words translated as ‘evil’ and how they allow for God himself to do evil, in the sense of ‘bringing calamity’ upon ones deserving of it.

Rom 12:21 -  Do not let yourself be conquered by evil but keep conquering with good. Of course, this is the theme scripture of the talk.

“Never again will I curse the ground ‘call down evil upon’ inclination of teh heart of man is bad from his youth up.” (Gen 8:21) So much for the ‘man is natural good’ philosophy of moderns. It is enough that they have the capacity of good, being made in God’s image.

The speaker now veers into material on how to survive in a dangerous neighborhood. https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1995601?q=Survive+in+a+dangerous+neighborhood&p=doc

“Don’t you pray to God to forgive your mistakes every day? I know I do,” says the speaker. Yeah. Who doesn’t regret some things they have done in the past?

The speaker quotes Proverb 28:20 on how “the one hastening to get rich will not remain innocent.” as he speaks of ‘sharklike’ business practices and pits we can dig for ourselves.

 

#WatchtowerStudy today is ‘Hold Fast to the Truth With Strong Conviction.’   Theme scripture is: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.”​—1 THESS. 5:21

Para 3: Since there are all those verses that all there is about God will never be known, Psalm 40:5, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 55:9, Romans 11:33) it’s not a little silly to take a pass on him based upon, ‘We don’t know everything?’…1/3

Eccles 3:11. “He has even put eternity in their heart [yeah, we’ll need all that time and them some]; yet mankind will never find out the work that the true God has made from start to finish.”…2/3

Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Is he meant to learn from us, or are we meant to learn from him?…3/3

The bro in the all-purpose room with the washing machine and slop sink behind him is the reader today.

Para 5: The sis who has come into her own with Zoom just commented on how can be make an image to God since what could one possibly compare to him?

Para 7: Unusual bit of sarcasm here of unnamed ‘superstar’ preachers. ‘Some individuals hang on to their every word. It is hard to imagine that these churchgoers could be more excited if Jesus himself were to appear to them!’ Maybe that guy with the jet who insists …1/2

the Lord says he needs yet one more is an example…..2/2

Para 10: a very strange situation commented upon: “Today many religious leaders have done everything in their power to conceal the fact that God has a personal name.” Why would that be?

Para 12: Acknowledgment that ‘God’s people today do not claim to have perfect or complete knowledge of the truth. At times, they have made mistakes in doctrinal matters and in organizational direction.’ Contrasted with church denominations making changes …1/2

that call to my mind Mark Smith’s [Secular Faith] remark that most Christians have more in common with atheists than that do with their own denominations of a century past. [he does not disapprove of this] …2/2

Para 15: Key is to produce worship structure that “mirrors the arrangement established by the apostles in the first century.” It took me a long time to realize that much of the religious world does not think this a virtue, but considers that religion should ‘evolve.’

Para 16: Love this verse & how it runs so contrary to how Jesus is often presented—as so mild and wimpy that it’s almost impossible to get him riled”

Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom….1/2

Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ Matt 7:21-23…2/2

And to think that ages ago, at my wedding reception, my Dad said to my uncle, “come on, let’s for outside for a break. These people are so nice I can’t stand it.”

 

This #midweekmeeting point makes perfect sense to me from Judges 10:11. I mean, how long are you going to be a soft touch? “Jehovah said to the Israelites: “Did I not save you from Egypt and from the Amʹor·ites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, Amalek, and Midian…1/3

When you cried out to me, I saved you out of their hand. But you abandoned me and served other gods. That is why I will not save you again. Go to the gods whom you have chosen and call for help. Let them save you in your time of distress.” …2/3

Nonetheless, he does cave and does it one more time. Let no one say he won’t help a guy out….3/3

Save us! they say to Jephthah & he says ‘Buzz off!’ but then relents.(Judges 11:6).   What an odd parallel with Judges 10:11, where they ask the same of God and he responds the same way. Good thing we don’t do antitypes these days.

They would say to him, “Please say Shibʹbo·leth.” But he would say, “Sibʹbo·leth,” as he was unable to say the word correctly. Then they would seize him and slay him at the fords of the Jordan. (Jug 12:6) Hmm. I used to say to Tom Irregardless, ‘Please say regardless.’ …1/2

But he was unable to say the word correctly and would say irregardless. I never said he should be slain for that, though….2/2

There’s more than meets the eye with numbers in Judges. 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys, [with] 30 cities (10:4). 30 sons and 30 daughters…and he brought in 30 women to marry his sons (12:9) 40 sons and 30 grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys (12:14)…1/2

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I mean, who has stats like these. Symbolism at work, methinks. And what of these 6 things that God hates that miraculously becomes 7? (Prov 6:16)…2/2

Pure Worship para 18: There’s at least two dozen Bible verses that directly state real Christianity is hated by the world. The Gog scenario is like a red flag before the bull. No one has to get behind the bull and push.

Hm. Apparently a vote next week on changing the midweek mtg night. It matters not to me. I won’t make a choice. But back when I was working eves, it was a move that had huge repercussions & I was always a little nettled when some would choose just on a whim.

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