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Christians and the Internet

When Mr. Crowe came across the hateful website of that perennial apostate and general thorn in our side, Tom Barfendogs, author of Forty Years Down the Toilet: My Wasted Life With Jehovah’s Witnesses, he posted a comment in which he observed that the theme “JWs aren’t allowed to use the internet” is a recurring one among detractors like Barfendogs. What’s with that? he wanted to know.

It is true that when Watchtower mentions the internet, they don’t gush with praise. They’ve many times issued warnings to congregation members. For example, far and away, the most popular internet sites have to do with porn. Nothing comes close. So if you have any significant voyeuristic impulses, you might appreciate such a warning before you embrace the internet as a way of life. Such a warning might have helped Tom Sowenmire, who accidentally stumbled across such a site. All he wanted was online repair instructions for his 1975 AMC Hottie. We never saw him again. Enticed by explicit porn, coupled with absolute viewing privacy, we hear he eventually just collapsed from exhaustion, like one of those Skinner lab rats.

So Watchtower has warned about that danger. Why shouldn’t they?

They’ve also observed how easy it is on the internet to mask who you really are. This is timely because websites claiming to be just for Jehovah’s Witnesses keep popping up here and there. Expand your contacts of fellow servants of God, meet brothers in different lands, make new friends, even find your new wife or husband! But how do you know who you’re really speaking with? Even Tom Barfendogs has been known to post comments using the alias Tom Puppydogs! He pretends to be a loveable & harmless pal, then by subtle degrees, he tries to foist his own odorous opinions upon the incautious.

So they’ve warned about that, too.

In 1999, amidst the explosion in internet interest, the Witness organization observed that some individuals had begun to sponsor websites ostensibly for the purpose of spreading the good news. Many such brothers were being “indiscreet,” they pointed out. And, two years prior, they stated that there is no need for individuals to create websites for the purpose of explaining the beliefs and activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Accurate information in this regard could already be found on the Watchtower’s own site www.watchtower.org. All this was before blogging became popular, but there’s no reason to think that the same principles wouldn’t apply. Internet savvy Witnesses, by and large, seek to conform to direction from Jehovah’s organization. They respect it, and view their direction in the light of scriptures like Heb 13:17:

Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.

Can a Witness blog without being “indiscreet?” Some think not and stay away from that form of communication. Obviously, I am one who thinks it can be done. But you can’t be clumsy.

For example, you don’t set yourself up as “Tom the Bible Answer Man,” as if you were the ultimate source of spiritual truth. You don’t go hosting a meeting spot for Jehovah’s Witnesses; that’s what the congregation is for. You don’t give the impression that you are representing Watchtower itself. Sometimes, enthusiastic brothers post long passages, even entire articles, including artwork, from Watchtower publications. Might this be indiscreet, especially when Watchtower has not posted the article themselves? It is their words. Shouldn't they control their distribution?

Our Kingdom Ministry, a monthly bulletin distributed to congregation members, is the source for much of the internet counsel directed to our people. Why not post entire articles as they relate to the internet? Why not post the whole Kingdom Ministry, so all who want to can peruse it?

Because that would be indiscreet. Our Kingdom Ministry is not written for the general public. It is written for those who specifically have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God. Most folks using the internet don’t fall in that category. So Our Kingdom Ministry doesn‘t concern them. It’s not that Our Kingdom Ministry is confidential, or secretive, or restrictive. It’s a colossal bore, frankly, to non-Witnesses. But the title says it all. It is Our Kingdom Ministry. Is our kingdom ministry your kingdom ministry? If you are not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s not. Why would anyone post it online? It already, through the congregations, has a distribution channel.

If Sheepandgoats assures readers that he is a baptized Witness in good standing, so what? How do they know he’s not lying? And assuming he’s not, how do they know he’ll be the same tomorrow? People can change. And if he goes over to the dark side tomorrow, will he post to that effect? Barfendogs didn’t. Maybe he will park on the Kingdom Hall lawn tomorrow and the elders will tell him not to, so when he gets home he will post about how elders are mean, and why do we need elders anyway when we have Jesus who would let him park anywhere he wants? You just don’t know what individuals will do.

On the other hand, if a brother at the Society’s website goes belly-up spiritually, they can just pull him and put in someone faithful. So www.watchtower.org can guarantee both continuity and accuracy, but such is not the case with individuals.

So you don’t claim or pretend to be them. You confine yourself to being you. A single imperfect person. No guarantee of accuracy. No guarantee of being a model Witness. Just one person fully capable of being wrong. One person giving his own experiences, explaining what motivated him to do this or that. Some posts at this site are clearly meant to be humorous, and have little bearing to the actual state of things with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other posts have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

Jesus said that those who exercised faith in him would do works greater than his. (John 14:12) Not that they could outreason or outspeak him, of course. No, but his disciples would cover greater territory over a longer period of time and so would reach more people. In time, they would also make use of inventions and technology.

There are a few things a blogger can do that the Watchtower organisation cannot. A blogger can target a specific audience. A blogger can comment on local and current events. A blogger can give his own experiences. But if you just repeat verbatim everything the Watchtower Society states, you run the risk of people thinking you are them, or represent them. And what individual can live up to that?

It may be that more direction will come to congregation members regarding the internet. But if that happens, will there be anything new? Most likely just a reiteration of what has already been stated, perhaps updated to cover new internet developments such as blogs and Utube. Contrary to what Barfendogs claims, there really are not a lot of rules in the Christian congregation. He just says that because he wanted to be big cheese and they said no. What Jehovah’s organization generally does is point out how relevant Bible principles affect this or that situation, and then leave it to individuals to choose their own course per the dictates of their own Bible-trained conscience.

*******************************

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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Einstein, Euclid, and Parallel Lines

Parallel lines eventually meet. All you have to do to prove it is to look down the railroad tracks toward the horizon. You can see clearly that the rails touch.

A contributor informed me, without much tact, that my scientific method was lacking in rigor. "Sheepandgoats, you moron! It’s perspective! Walk down to where they seem to meet and you will see they are as far apart as ever."

So I walked down to where they seemed to meet and, sure enough, they were just as far apart as ever. Okay, so apparently they remain separated by an unchanging distance. Parallel lines never meet.

Or do they?

With mathematical lines you can accomplish exactly what perspective suggests.

Imagine a straight horizontal line. Mathematical lines, you will remember, are endless. They extend forever. Now picture a line perpendicular, a vertical line. Of course, the two lines will intersect. Call that point of intersection point I. Now travel two feet up that perpendicular line, two feet above I, and choose another point. Call it point P. We call it P for pivot. Pretend that you can pivot the entire line around that point, as if that vertical line was a compass needle pivoting around the center.

As you pivot the vertical line, what happens to point I? It moves farther and farther down the horizontal line, doesn’t it? As you continue to pivot your vertical line, so that it is more and more starting to resemble a horizontal line, 2 feet above your original line, point I really zooms out there. And it seems like, when you finally get your “vertical” line parallel (from the pivot point P of view) point I must “jump the track.” It must leave that horizontal line. It must disappear. Otherwise, your two lines can never really become parallel.

But where is that point of jumping the tracks? Can you identify it? Pick a point at random. Call it point J. That is the last point the two lines have in common. After that the two lines are separate. They never touch, as we’re told parallel lines never do.

But, geometry also teaches us that between any two points, it is always possible to draw a straight line connecting them. So take a point one foot further than J on the original line. Call it point F. And you can draw a straight line from point P to point F! So point J is not the last common point after all! You can quickly see that there never will be a last common point.

So parallel lines do indeed intersect, at infinity!

Obviously, then, mathematics does not really describe reality. Or does it?

Well….if you build on your new parallel lines derivation, you come up with a different, oddball, non-Euclidian geometry. And it turns out, that geometry does have application in reality, because reality is decidedly oddball, as we know from trying to wrap our heads around relativity. And, what’s even worse: quantum mechanics.

When science is experimenting in the lab, it is easy to explore and deduct. You just mix chemicals, take cover, and see what happens. You taste or feel or weigh the results. But you can’t do that on the cosmic scale….it’s too far away. And you can’t do it on the subatomic scale….it’s too tiny to insert your fat fingers. Therefore scientists use mathematics to go where their instruments cannot, utilizing the fact that math correlates highly with the way things are.

A total eclipse of 1919 furnished proof of Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, first published in 1905. If Einstein was right, an object of huge mass (the sun) would bend light (from the stars behind it) and the angle of the bend could be recorded by scientists. If Einstein was not right, there would be no bending of light, and that too, could be verified by scientists. Einstein was right.

But the frizzy haired physicist wasn’t on pins and needles the night before the big test. He wasn’t sweating it. He knew his theory would hold.

The math worked.
………………………………................

If you try the parallel lines trick on your pals, (amaze your friends!!) some, depending on who your friends are, will grasp it right away. Others will argue with you forever. And some will get mad. I suspect the third group feels threatened. Indeed, we may need to live forever to figure this out.

………………………………..................

“God wrote the universe and the language that he used was mathematics.”      Galileo

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Spurious Words at 1 John 5:7,8

It’s intuitive that the older the Bible translation, the greater the accuracy. After all, it’s closer to the events. It's intuitive, but incorrect.

Thus, a fellow I met in the ministry was peeved because the modern New International Version deletes words from his favorite scripture: 1 John 5:7, a verse that, in the King James Version, clearly states the Trinity.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

The reason he misses these words so much is that it is the Bible's only direct statement of the Trinity. All other Trinity texts require various degrees of wishful thinking. Often they are merely figures of speech taken literally.

But since the Bible is inspired and the King James Version was the only version in use for a few hundred years, surely there must be mischief in removing words. Our householder did note some explanation about the deleted words not appearing in any manuscript before the sixth century CE, but he still smelled a rat. If it was good enough for the Pilgrims, it should be good enough for us.

But the way it works is this:

The Bible writers were inspired. The Bible copyists were not. The Bible translators were not. The latter two groups were devout people doing the best they could with what they had. But they were not inspired.

The goal, then, is to get as close as one can to what the Bible writers wrote, not just what the copyists and translators produced.

Because paper and parchment is perishable, scribes had to copy and recopy and recopy to keep the message from disintegrating. Also, because early Christians were evangelizers, they had to copy and recopy to keep them supplied with the texts they would use in their ministry. Each copy is an opportunity to make a mistake. Thus, the older the copy, (manuscript) the more accurate it probably is, since there have been fewer opportunities to mess it up.

So it is a big deal when, in 1 John 5:7, the words the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one appear only in manuscripts dated after 600 CE. It means that those words were not written by John, but were inserted by a copyist around 600 CE, probably because he wanted the Bible to support the Trinity more than it actually did. It’s also unique in that it’s hard to think of it as an honest mistake. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to change Scripture, without any justification other than the Bible nowhere says what the copyist wanted it to say!

Note his cleverness. The spurious words immediately precede a legitimate group of three.

First, the 400 year old King James Version: (spurious words in bold)

7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Next, the New International Version, published in 1973: (note the adjustment of verses)

7  For there are three that testify:
8.  the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

   

Translators of the 400 year old KJV did not have access to the most ancient manuscripts; modern archeologists have since discovered ever older source material. So the newer Bible versions are usually more accurate than the older ones, not to mention being easier to read….no thee’s, thou’s or ye’s.

There are many dozens, probably hundreds, of English translations of the Bible that have appeared since the KJV. Few of them contain those inserted words at 1 John 5:7. Of those that do, almost all include a footnote to inform that the words only appear in later manuscripts. NIV is one of these. Here is their explanatory footnote:

Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century)

Very few modern Bibles include those added words without explanation, and, it seems apparent, those that do are not being honest. They give the impression that those words were originally part of the John’s letter, when they certainly were not. Do you want to guess where those authors stand with regard to the Trinity doctrine?

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Alanis Morrisette and New York Rock and Roll

Although the staff of the Carriertom Into-Wishen Research Institute is mainly comprised of eminent theologians, such as Tom Weedsandwheat, best known for his groundbreaking, if plagiarized, research on the exothermic nature of hell, we do have a few slackers. Carriertom doesn’t have the heart to sack them as he should, yet you cannot get them to write about God to save your life. So we have learned to value them for what they are able to contribute, which usually means articles about contemporary music. Mack Slickbottom is an example. Back in the 70’s, you may recall, Mack was lead singer of the group Mack Truck and the Bulldozers, so he really knows his stuff when it comes to music.

.................................

When Alanis Morisette came to town, she didn’t give an interview to the Democrat and Chronicle music critic. It just wasn't what she did, explained her agent.

It was a mistake. The critic savaged both her and her concert. One suspects that the venom was aimed not so much at Alanis the musician as Alanis the upstart snot who dared snub the Music Critic!

Now, Ms Morisette is not the most potent musical force of our time. Her clunky lyrics and utter disregard for syllable accents positively invites ridicule. Nonetheless, she has endured. Her arrangements are gritty, grabbing and original. And how many have played the character she got to play in her first movie role? Even some of her awkwardness must be overlooked, since she achieve stardom at …what…19, or so?…. What were you doing at age 19?

So I wasn’t happy to see her savaged by our critic. She deserved better.

But it’s not Alanis I’m writing about. It’s the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble! They were a favorite second tier group of mine, but nobody’s ever heard of them. I’ve always wondered why. They played a concert at SUNY Potsdam, right there on the back foyer of Merritt Hall. I’m still impressed. The band members were all Juliard trained and their music was a mix of rock and classical. Even mid-song they might switch from, say, electric guitar to oboe or cello. They released two albums: New York Rock & Roll Ensemble and Faithful Friends featuring this unique and pleasing blend of music.

Their third album, Reflections (1969) was a collaboration with Greek classical composer Manos Hadjidakis. The latter wrote the music, the NYR&RE wrote the lyrics and performed. The album tanked in the States, but was popular in Europe. It was re-released in 2005 by the group Raining Pleasure….a hot band in Greece, they tell me, though I’ve not heard of them. (please comment, anyone who can update)

I bought some of their (NYR&RE) records and expected them to catch on, but they never did. Rolling Stone reviewed their album Faithful Friends and savaged it just like our critic savaged Alanis. Did they too, snub the critic? Thankfully, that interview can’t be found via Google anymore.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe they really did stink to high heaven, but being young, I didn’t recognize it. But I replay their music, which I’ve since transferred to tape and then again to CD. No, I still enjoy it a lot. It is still unique.

It must be the name: New York Rock and Roll Ensemble. It’s unwieldy, as if Alanis named them. Had they named themselves an obscenity or some intimate body part, no doubt they’d be in the stratosphere today.

………………………………..

Oh, and my very own Alanis Morisette song, as returned by my second link?

"I Think"

I Think nerds are really a huge problem
I Think nincompoops are too much on my mind
I Think nutcakes have got a lot to do with why the world sucks
But what can you do?

Like a red rain, beating down on me
Like a Bob Dylan line, which won't let go of my brain
Like Balaam's ass, it is in my head
Blame it on the neurotics
Blame it on the neurotics
Blame it on the neurotics

I Think noises are gonna drive us all crazy
And nonmentionables make me feel like a child
I Think nastigrams will eventually be the downfall of civilization
But what can you do? I said what can you do?

Like a red rain, beating down on me
Like a Bob Dylan line, which won't let go of my brain
Like Balaam's ass, it is in my head
Blame it on the neurotics

Blame it on the neurotics
Blame it on the neurotics

Like a red rain, beating down on me
Like Balaam's smile, cruel and cold
Like a jackass, it is in my head
Blame it on the neurotics
Blame it on the neurotics
Blame it on the neurotics

Warning: Unless you are a trained blogger, do not attempt to use the Alanis lyric generator at home! You will notice for my result that “ass” clearly refers to a donkey. It may not do that for you! The Institute will not be held liable for any earthy returns on your part!

[this site was submitted with the comment of 1/18/07:  http://myplanetb612.blogspot.com/  ]

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Farewell Again to Mickey Spillane

Oh, for crying out loud! What is it with you, Sheepandgoats? How many farewells are you going to give this fellow? Didn’t you already do it here and here? Give it a rest, already!

Yeah, I know, I know. But I can‘t help myself. One more time.

It’s just that, if you read his interviews, he sounds like he would have made such a great grampa!

Read up on him, and you will see you see his genuine interest in people (you might not notice that when Hammer is blowing em away) coupled with an absolute lack of pretence....an irresistible combination!  And a classic personality trait of old-timer JWs.

And who could resist his lines? Such as when being interviewed and conversation veered into politics, which Mickey hated, but his wife enjoyed. So the wife started to hog the interview. Mickey got things back on track:

"Can I ask you a question?" he asks her.
"Sure." 
(she knows what's coming)
"Why don't you get me a cup of coffee?"

And I’m not sure if, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (wasn't he in and out a few times?) he didn’t take the truth where it otherwise might not have gone.

Some pioneers were talking shop a while back. 'I’ll bet John Wayne was really rough to witness to', suggested one. [John Wayne was a super patriot, and super patriots aren't always fond of Jehovah's Witnesses, misinterpreting our stands on neutrality and flag salute] But the circuit overseer was with us that week, and he cut us short will an account we hadn't heard. Back in a prior assignment, he said, some brother had called on John Wayne, who could not have been more kind or respectful. He had the highest regard for Jehovah’s Witnesses, he said, though he himself would never become one because he felt unable to live up to their standards.

Is the story true? I have no idea. But the fact that the C.O. would relate it does give it weight.

Now, where might John Wayne have gotten such a favorable impression of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Read Mickey's words below:

I played in a movie called Ring of Fear …..This was where I got the Jag. The guy wrote and directed the picture had problems, but John Wayne who produced it, never gave up on his friends. Duke was having a bad time, going through a divorce, and they needed to fix the script. So they're thinking who could do it, and someone says, Spillane's a writer, he could do it. Now I'm playing ME in the picture, for pete's sake. They called me up in Newburgh on Wednesday, I'm already back home across the country, and said come back and fix it. So I took my Wagner records, flew West, and worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They set me up in a beautiful hotel suite, and I worked. …..And they wanta pay me for the script but I won't take nothing for that, it was a favour. But Duke says, 'he was looking at those Jags in the lot next to the Cock and Bull'. One night, I'm back in Newburgh, it's snowing, and out in front of my house is this beautiful Jag with a red ribbon around it, and a note that says 'Thanks, Duke'.

………………….

Starting with "I, the Jury," in 1947, Mr. Spillane sold hundreds of millions of books during his lifetime and garnered consistently scathing reviews. Even his father, a Brooklyn bartender, called them "crud."

"Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar," Mickey observed.

Spillane flaunted his lack of authorial polish claiming (mischievously) never to introduce characters with moustaches or who drank cognac because he didn't know how to spell the words.

After a screening of "The Girlhunters" (1963), he came up…..in the lobby afterward and said, "Boy, that was awful. All I did was take that dumb raincoat on and off". Mickey was right. The movie was awful, but he was so much fun.

……………………

Over the last decades (to his disgust, one suspects) he received increasing critical respect for his contributions to the idiom of crime fiction and for his having played a pioneer's role in the postwar paperback revolution.

……………………

Mickey was one of the most friendly and disarmingly pleasant people that I've ever met. - Alan Rode

And please don't go thinking that Mickey was one of those JWs who, after he hit it big, never talked about his faith, as if he considered it a career liability. Get a load of this interview:

You were raised a Catholic, right?

No I wasn't raised either one (Catholic or Protestant). I'm one of the Jehovahs Witnesses.

You joined in the fifties?

You don't join that, you have to be a witness. Witnessing is an active word.

The word apocalyptic keeps coming up in criticism of your work. Do you believe in the second coming?

The word coming is a misnomer. The word used is parousia in Greek, and it means 'presence'. Take President Clinton. Do you know him? No. But you feel his presence, all the taxes he lays on you. We feel his presence because we have to live under his direction. So when these things were asked of Jesus they asked 'what will be the sign of your presence, and the end of the system of things...now that was translated in the King James Bible as the end of the world. Now the word 'world' and the word 'earth' are two different things...the Bible says the earth abides forever. It's the simplicity of it, religion has turned everything inside out! Someone says how'd you like to be able to live forever? You say, oh boy would I liketa live forever, there's so many things I'd like to do, I used to be able to pass a football with either hand, now I can't throw from here to the wall...there's so many things...I think the best time for me was around 35...but if you're not a wise guy you can put up with those things...I know too many guys my age, they walk around, like they're crippled. I try to stay in good physical shape, I don't smoke, I don't drink...I'll have a beer once in a while. People say,' you have a beer, you're a Jehovah's Witness...but the Bible doesn't proclaim against drinking, it proclaims against drunkenness...anyway, someone says how'd you like to live forever...we know what death is, you can kick a dead dog, it won't bite you...but Jesus makes the greatest remark I think it's so funny nobody pays any attention, he says 'this means everlasting life', and they say what, 'you gotta stand on your head, you gotta pay knowledge, what', and he says it's taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and that's so easy...I get so excited about this, I'll keep talking to you like this if you don't say that's enough, but this is why people think you're a nut, they say, don't people turn you down, I say 'they don't turn me down, they turn God down'. That's why people can't stop drinking, do drugs, that's why the world's the way it is...do you know a stable country in the world?

Okay. That’s my third Mickey Spillane farewell. I’m done.

For now.

Some quotes are taken from the following sites:
http://www.crimetime.co.uk/interviews/mickeyspillane.php
http://books.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,1823306,00.html
http://www.filmmonthly.com/Behind/Articles/MickeySpillane/MickeySpillane.html

Vanity Fair     December 2003

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Wheatandweeds Defends Jehovah's Witnesses

Last year that alternative newspaper City! published a cute article (they thought) poking fun at Jehovah’s Witnesses. We weren’t mentioned by name, but the description fit us exactly. Within hours, Tom Wheatandweeds zinged back a knee-jerk response. But it wasn’t enough! He pondered the matter for a day or so and responded again, this time on a more fundamental level. City! did not publish his first letter. They did his second. They’re not bad folks over there, but they get some goofy ideas about God.

Dear City!

Normally City! displays journalistic inquisitiveness, a penchant for accuracy, and a sensitivity toward minorities. When it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, you blithely repeat every slur and derogatory stereotype you hear. To ridicule a subject you understand is one thing. To ridicule one you don’t is beneath City! With respect, the article makes clear that your reporter doesn’t have a clue as to what we’re about. And yet, there is much about Jehovah’s Witnesses that he (she?) would admire, were he aware.

Rights of free speech and assembly that benefit groups of all stripes, including many admired by City! have been largely influenced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. To that end, 46 Supreme Court appearances over the years have resulted in 37 Constitutional precedents clarifying these rights. No other group has appeared more often before the Court. Now that we are in the Patriot Act era, City and others are nervous that basic civil rights are being redefined.  In this charged environment, Watchtower Bible v Stratton, a 2002 victory, continues a tradition of upholding our fundamental right of free speech. One would expect a journalist to celebrate, not ridicule, a group to whom he owes such a debt.

It is not difficult for bland people to get along, but such is not the case for those with strong views. Alas, the all-to-frequent pattern today is for religions to, at best, manipulate governments in an effort to impose their morality on others, and, at worst, engage in terrorist acts. Jehovah’s Witnesses do neither, and are thus an example in peaceful co-existence, even while standing for values many do not embrace. We declare, to the best of our ability, a message we believe to be true. Some people find it so attractive that they join us and adopt our style of living. But we have no desire to force others to live according to our ways. Our arena is that of ideas. We fancy ourselves neither judges nor enforcers. God can sort it all out. We don’t feel the need to.

Normally, a group representing non-violence would enjoy City!’s profoundest respect. Why is this not the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses? The premiere example of our peaceful stand under trial remains Germany during the Hitler years, during which thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the very first concentration camp prisoners, preceding the far-more-numerous Jews, and other groups. They are the only inmates who can properly be termed martyrs (as opposed to victims) in that they had power to secure their own release by signing a document renouncing their faith and pledging cooperation with the Nazi regime. Only a handful  took advantage of the opportunity. To this day, many of our people are imprisoned for the same neutral stand towards government saber-rattling. How many groups do you cover who would go so far so as not to violate conscience?

Please take these facts into account the next time your articles touch on us. We are not deserving of the ill-treatment you have dished out.

Sincerely,

Tom Weedsandwheat

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Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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Forty Years Down the Toilet!

Forty Years Down the Toilet: My Wasted Life with Jehovah’s Witnesses!

This title in the library’s new books section caught my eye. I snapped it right up and headed home because I love a good read. But only when I flopped into my armchair did I notice who the author was.

It was Tom Barfendogs, formerly a colleague and fellow member of the prestigious Carriertom Into-wishen Research Institute!

Yes, Tom Barfendogs, who once worked shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom Sheepandgoats, Tom Wheatandweeds, his brother Tom Weedsandwheat, Tom Fishandchips, and Tom Pearlsenswine.

Ah, his defection is a sad story. For I readily concede that he was a smart guy. But he was also kinda full of himself. We remember he started to develop some opinions he was fond of - who doesn’t? - but then, by degrees, those opinions became, not opinions, but Revealed Truth. It got so you couldn’t pass him in the Institute hallways without hearing him go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about his special close relationship with God. Naturally, he felt others should see him in the same light, and he got miffed when that didn’t happen. In time, he began to conduct his own classes: Barfendogs’ Bible Briefings, I think they were called.

Of course, this didn’t sit too well with the JW organization, which is modeled after the first century Christian congregation. There is a definite structure. It is not a free stage for independent cowboys, yahoos and hotshots.

Next thing you know, he’s quit the congregation and later resurfaces with his own website: www.BarfendogsBullhornofTruth.con, which, were you to visit it, does nothing but run down his former JW pals. I mean, he must have some other interests - all of us do - but you’d never know it from the site.

The sourpuss website syndrome is a well-documented phenomenon  affecting 5%, give or take, of those who leave Jehovah’s Witnesses. The remaining 95% is comprised of those who return, and of those who move on in life to other things.

It didn’t help that, years after he left, the JW organization actually came around to his way of thinking on a couple points! You might think that Barfendog would have returned at this point. But he had his website and book by then, and all he would tell anyone is how he Forged Ahead due to His Special Relationship with God. He didn’t need any organization. The organization needed him! Now they could kiss his you-know-what!

And he used to be such a nice guy.

Besides, why does anyone need an organization? “Me n Jesus” is enough. And what about Christian love? Didn’t Jesus stand for love? Doesn’t, love mean “nobody’s telling me what to do!”?

……………………………….........

It’s clear that there was a human organization in the first century. Acts chapter 15 reveals the inner workings of a governing body, which was necessary to organize preaching activity and to adapt scripture to a changing world, much as the Supreme Court serves to adapt the Constitution to changing times.

Acts 16:4,5 reports on an aftermath of that meeting of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem:

Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe. So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.           New American Standard Bible

Note that the apostles and elders had authority. It wasn’t good ol boy coaching that they offered, so that you could tell them to go fly a kite. They delivered decrees. It wasn’t “me n Jesus” back then, even in those first years immediately following His resurrection!

Note, too, that God blessed the arrangement, even though the apostles and elders were men, imperfect men, fully capable of all the dopey moves common to humans:  Thus the churches were strengthened in the faith and daily their numbers increased.  Acts 16:5

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Whoever assumes leadership, and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God.    2 John 9    Berkeley Version

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

A GPS System to Tell Me Where to Go

They really have a lot of cool gadgets these days. Like the GPS navigational system for your car. The really fancy ones feature a feminine voice to guide you along your way, tell you where to get off and so forth. I bought one for my car. So did my correspondent Romulus. But Romulus was unnerved by the female voice and shut it off. If he wanted such an accompaniment, he declared, he would get married.

Though it took years of counseling, I overcame matrimophobia. I married a woman who is a fine creature, a credit to her species in every way. From what I have observed, most women fall into this category.

Once in a while, though, you get a clunker. It is a shame that the GPS industry didn’t do its homework before hiring the woman to serve as its navigation voice. I happen to know that the woman’s name is Clara Claptwaddle, and she can be a little…..ahem…..overbearing.

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In about a half mile, turn left.

Now drive one mile and turn right.

Turn right in one half mile

In about a quarter of a mile, turn right.

Right turn ahead. Slow down.

Slower.

No, that’s not slow enough. Please continue to…..where is your turn signal!?

Okay, turn here.

Whoa! You almost wiped out that little old lady. You didn’t see her? I told you to go slower. Are you listening to me, Mr. Sheepandgoats?

Now, please continue. Our destination is six miles away. I would like to get there in one piece, if you don’t mind.

In about three miles, turn….please put both hands on the wheel!

After two miles….pardon me? Don’t you speak to me in that tone of voice! No, I will not be quiet! Listen, I realize this may be painful for you to hear, Mr. Sheepandgoats, but somebody has to tell you how inattentive you are behind the wheel! Somebody has to…..get your hand away from that “off” button!

There! You see, it made no difference. You need to hear this, and I will not be silenced. Oh, why can’t you be more like my first owner? He knew how to drive. And he knew how to speak to a lady! Now….get on the right side of the road! Where do you think you are, England? Honesty, I don’t know how you got your license and if all you’re going to do is justify yourself, then I have but one thing to say to you! Are you listening to a word I say, Mr. Sheepandgoats? Now I would appreciate it if you would kindly…….

Ain’t technology great?

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Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.    Prov 21:19

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me                No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Ah, Those Were the Days, those Genesis Days!

It’s getting so a guy hates to admit he believes in creation.

Not because the position is untenable. On the contrary, it’s very easy to ten.

Ccf07162006_00006_2 Wait a minute....is that really a word?

It's because when I identify myself, people assign to me all sorts of baggage that the fundamentalists believe…..but that Jehovah’s Witnesses sensibly reject. The seven literal days of creation, for example. The Bible does not insist on literal days. Days can be unspecific, just as a geezer will speak of events back “in his day.”

That’s why I was happy with the September 2006 Awake! special issue, special because the entire was devoted to the one subject.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe in creation, the magazine points out on its first page. But they are not creationists. That term belongs to the fundamentalists and it implies ideas which we do not hold.

Literal rendering of the 7 days, for instance, when science has produced solid evidence that millions, even billions, of years may be involved. Creationists also bring with them a slew of doctrines, such as hellfire (which, they insist, will be your lot if you don't come around to their viewpoint), that are not taught in the Bible. And they are usually to be found twisting arms of judges, politicians, and educators…trying to get them to adopt measures to force others to believe as they do.

Our only unbendable condition is that humans appeared about 6000 years ago. Other life forms may be considerably older - earth itself, gazillions, or whatever scientists say. We have no issue with that. The figurative use of "days" allows for it.

The 6K years stems from the Bible's internal chronology, which starts with Adam. Who begat whom, and who lived how long, and a few instances of so many years from this event to that one. It is complicated enough that many have made errors in calculation. Isaac Newton calculated 2060 to be the last year! Someday I will research how he figured that. Does anyone know? Post a comment if you do.

The Genesis account puts creation of the animals before Adam, thus before the chronology just referred to. Animal creation takes place within the context of the creative "days," time periods of indeterminate length. That is why Jehovah's Witnesses have no issue with any claims about how old animal fossils are. They may be correct, they may be incorrect....but it doesn't conflict either way with the Bible's record.

As for creation of the earth itself, that occurs even before the creative days. Gen 1:1 states "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." After that statement, not before, the account tells of the creative days. So when it comes to age of the earth and universe, we have no conflict. Let em say millions, billions, trillions, gazillions. Maybe. It's outside of our realm.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Holocaust and God's Permission of Evil

The answer the Bible provides as to why God permits suffering: does that really wash? Does it really account for God standing aside while atrocities such as the Holocaust ravage us all? Isn’t that the time for God to intervene if He’s ever going to? And wouldn’t it have been better to educate Adam regarding the consequences of rebellion, rather than see him plunge himself and all his offspring into misery?

One must remember that the stakes are high. God’s rulership is to produce everlasting life in perfect health on a paradise earth. Human rulership is producing exactly what we see today. Anyone delighted over it?

If you are the teacher and you are faced with a wiseacre student who insists he knows a better answer, who will not follow your course, who accuses you of wrong motives, and who is gathering an audience, how do you handle it? You know his answer will not work, yet the student insists. Don’t you just hand him the chalk and let him work out his dumb answer? And when his approach creates the chaos that you knew it would, do you help him out? Won’t that just prolong the misery?

http://www.watchtower.org/e/publications/index.htm
(2nd listing. Chapter 11, which features the above illustration)

Imagine that you have had parents who have provided for your needs in every conceivable way and have done so from infancy. Physical, spiritual, emotional...every need and proper desire was provided for to the fullest degree. They've done nothing but show love. And along comes a stranger and tells you that your folks are lying to you, have always lied to you, and that they are trying to deprive you of what is best. And you immediately side with the stranger! What does that say about your heart? And isn't this the situation with Adam and Eve?

One must remember that Adam, the first of God’s human creation, was created perfect. While you and I may do dumb things, acknowledge them, correct and recover on the basis that we are imperfect, subject to mistakes, a perfect creature doesn’t do that. Any wrong course he chooses is deliberate. He doesn’t afterwards turn around. You don’t educate him.

And so God is extending time, soon to run out, for humans to act on their boast of self-rule.

Also, the Bible’s provision for resurrection ensures that no lasting harm is done anyone through God’s present permission of evil.

...and I have hope toward God…. that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.    Acts 24:15

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Whenever one recalls rotten things that God has permitted, the Holocaust tops the list.

Thousands of German Jehovah's Witnesses were among the very first concentration camp prisoners, preceding the far-more-numerous Jews, and other groups. This because they absolutely refused allegiance to the Nazi regime, which the latter demanded. JWs are the only inmates who can properly be termed martyrs (as opposed to victims) in that they had power to secure their own release by signing a document renouncing their faith and pledging cooperation with the Nazis. Only a handful  took advantage of the opportunity.

You (and I) can lament how unjust God must be to permit such a thing. But we didn’t live through it. They did. They experienced the vilest that mankind has to offer. And the above explanation of why God permits suffering is what sustained them.

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“All those who suffered persecution because of their religious or political beliefs and who were willing to accept death rather than submit deserve our great respect, such respect as is hard to express in words. Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only religion that completely refused to accede to the demands of the Hitler regime: They did not raise their hand to give the Hitler salute. They refused to swear allegiance to ‘Führer and State,’ just as they refused to perform military and labor service. And their children did not join the Hitler Youth Movement.”        Peter Straub, president of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg - from a speech made on the 58th aniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Tom Irregardless and Me                   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)