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The Memorial of Christ's Death

[This post pertains to the 2007 Memorial Celebration of Christ's death, The date of succeeding ones will likely be different.]

For the first time in memory, congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses are inviting people to the celebrate with them the memorial of Christ's death, this year to be observed Monday April 2nd, after sundown. Of course, we've long invited persons of known interest to the memorial, but this year the invitation goes out to everyone. A special flyer is prepared for the purpose.

Christ's birthday (Christmas) and resurrection (Easter) are the two religious holidays folks never miss, the only time many of them set ever foot in a church. Oddly, Jesus never said a word about either. The one event he did say should be remembered, the anniversary of his death, is ignored.

"Keep doing this in remembrance of me," he instructed his disciples, only hours before his death, during the meal commonly called the 'Last Supper.'      Luke 22:19

But isn't celebrating his resurrection close enough? That date's only three days after his death. Besides, it's more upbeat. Death, we all know, is a downer. Yes, but if you're trying to impress upon people that "Christ died for us," then the death is what you celebrate. Just like if someone shoves you out of the road so as not to get hit by a Buick, and gets hit themselves, that is the event that is forever seared into your memory. If it turns out that the doctors are able to patch him up like new, well....that's great news, but it's not the event you remember with gratitude.

Besides, no one should think that Easter (or Christmas) is in any way pure. The holiday is laced with things that have nothing to do with Christ and come from decidedly non-Christian sources. Bunny rabbits? Chocolate eggs? Great fun for the kids, maybe, but they don't do much for commemorating Christ. Even the name "Easter" is derived from a host of fertility goddesses associated with springtime (when earth becomes fertile) rites of many ancient peoples.

I suppose you could argue that "keep doing this in remembrance of me" is fulfilled in the communion services of some churches, in which participants partake of the wine and wafers. But if you're going to remember something, you generally do it once a year, like Memorial Day, like Independence Day, like Thanksgiving. In fact, the original celebration of Jesus and his disciples was held on an already existing anniversary, the Passover, which event recalled measures the Jews took just preceding their escape from Egyptian slavery. Subsequently, Jesus is referred to in Scripture as "Christ, our Passover," which further cements the "once a year" notion.      1 Cor. 5:7

The Jewish Passover is celebrated on Nisan 14, that date being determined from the ancient lunar calendar used back then. Jehovah's Witnesses hold the Memorial of Christ's death on that same date, after sundown. It's always a full moon outside. Being based on the lunar calendar means that Nisan 14 can fall on any day of the week. This is a major pain in the neck to more secular societies which have learned to "keep religion in it's place." (last place)  Doubtless that's one reason Easter Sunday is preferred to Nisan 14: it always falls on Sunday and is thus easier to fit in.

Typically, attendance at the Memorial runs two and a half times that of the number of active Jehovah's Witnesses. What sort of impact will this new campaign have?

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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)

Eliot Spitzer and Jesse Ventura

Sometimes celebrities run for office and, if elected, they make for the best leaders, or at least they're the most fun to watch. Like that pro wrestler, Jesse Ventura, elected Minnesota governor a few years back....remember him? Voters might have asked: can he really do better than professional politicians? But they didn't. They asked: how can he do worse? Minnesotans, briefly basking in national attention, sported bumper stickers boasting "My Governor can beat up your Governor." When they asked Jesse about it, he agreed. He'd been to a Governor's conference. He'd looked those guys over, he told us, and there wasn't one of them he couldn't whip. But he was not so triumphant with the media, with whom he fought all the time. He spoke his mind, and that's probably why he fought with them all the time.

For example, on religion: "Organized religion is a sham and a crutchfor weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business."

Or on promoting the Pledge of Allegiance in the schools (he opposed it): "I believe patiotism comes from the heart. Patriotism is voluntary. It is a feeling of loyalty and allegiance that is the result of knowledge and belief. A patriot shows their patriotism through their actions, by their choice. No law will make a citizen a patriot."

David Letterman asked him on TV which of the Twin Cities was better: Minneapolis or St. Paul. Now, any politicians knows that you have to play cute and say syrupy drivel about both towns, even if they both stink to high heaven. Jesse answered: "Minneapolis. Those streets in St. Paul must have been designed by drunken Irishmen."

Such blunt remarks....there's others, too.... made him an easy target for the media. They treated him as a big joke, so he called them "media jackals." When they sought access to the governor's press area they had to show their press pass which, per Jesse's decree, identified each one of them as a "media jackal."

He only served one term, but said he would have run again had it not been for family considerations. The media pestered them always, he charged, ignoring policy issues so that they could wallow in cheap gossip.

Frankly, the more I read about this guy, the more I like him. He reminds me of Mickey Spillane.

So that was Jesse. Here in New York we have Eliot....Eliot Spitzer. Is he cut from the same cloth as Jesse? He didn't crack skulls in the ring, of course, but he sure did on Wall Street, fining lots of white collar crooks and sending a few to the Big House. Like Jesse, Eliot doesn't hesitate to speak his mind; decorum-laced politicians and media types are incredulous at his outbursts, to the point of questioning his sanity. "I am a [ahem] f**king steamroller and I'll roll over you or anybody else," said he to an opposing Assemblyman, according to the New York Post.

And..... "I've done more in three weeks than any governor has done in the history of the state." Not real modest, and chiding reporters quickly trotted out lifetime accomplishments of other governors, like DeWitt Clinton, the one who dug the Erie Canal 200 years ago. How's that for lifetime accomplishment, Mr. Spitzer, they nyaah nyaahed, as if imagining Clinton had dug it personally (which he did not).  At a news conference they asked him whether his words were overly boastful. "No," he answered, Next question."

Still, you don't want to mess with Eliot. He has done a lot in a short time, he's hugely popular, just like Jesse who enjoyed a 73% approval rating, and New York State is almost on the embalming table. Everyone knows it, so they don't mind a guv who'll crack the heads of those who put it there.

The really big battles are still shaping up. Mr. Spitzer's 2007 State budget, the one that's due April 1rst, though previous budgets have been as late as six months, sending all State agencies and schools into conniptions, proposes cuts of $1.2 billion in health care, mostly from Medicaid, hospitals and nursing homes, with increased emphasis on preventative care. Now, lest anyone think that Eliot is just a mean spirited miser, it should be noted that New York leads in Medicaid spending and spends more than the next two states combined. Even with the new cuts, the budget is a 9 percent increase over last year, says the new state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. That's almost two times faster than revenues....and 2 and a half times the rate of inflation. It's unsustainable, says DiNapoli, who as comptroller, may turn out the be a major Spitzer asset, even though the latter opposedhis appointment.

Former Governor Pataki tried to rein in health spending, but it's hard to do. The hospital and health care workers unions saturate TV and radio with tearjerker stories of sick, neglected people, and it's game over. Pataki, in the end, learned to shut up and sign the check.

"Eliot Spitzer says he wants to reform health care, and he's right! But he's going about it the wrong way." This was the health worker union's first TV salvo. Trust me on this: the "and he's right" is only because it was Eliot Spitzer. They never did it for Pataki. But mess with Eliot and you mess with the people who like him, which is nearly everyone.

Spitzer was not in the least appeased by "and he's right." He served up his own TV ad. Set in a hospital nursery full of babies crying.....they were crybabies.... the narrator spelled out facts about New York's bloated system, full of fraud and waste and huge salaries for the top dogs.

The next round of ads was predictable. Televised health aides, almost in tears, sniffling why does the governor wants to hurt them, when they work so hard and save lives!

There's lots more to come. Mr. Spitzer and Joseph Bruno, the Senate Majority leader, a firm ally of the hospital people, got into a screaming matchthe other day in the Senate chambers. Even F-bombs were flying! A scared secretary took cover and fled the room.

Yes, there's more to come.

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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)

Bend it Like the Boreans

Regarding the first century spread of Christianity, here's a scripture from Acts [Acts is the "authorized" history of the new Christian faith]: 

"Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."    17:11

We look for the same today. You want people that are "noble-minded," not like they were in Thessalonica, where the disciples were run out of town. Noble-minded.....people who are open, who are searching, who don't assume they already know everything. Noble-minded, yes, but note....not gullible, for they "carefully examin[ed] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." They never had to take a "leap of faith" They carefully examined evidence already in existence.

In some places, that still is all that is needed....to "carefully examin[e] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." But in our part of the world, it's not always enough, since learned society invests much time in trashing authority of "the scriptures." So you have to reestablish that authority before you get some folk to benefit from examining scriptures. Often you have to reestablish that authority before you even get them to agree to make the examination.

This is not an insurmountable task, but it is an extra step. Several publications of Jehovah's Witnesses are devoted entirely to this purpose....considering the Bible via several lines of evidence to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is what it claims to be....God's message for our benefit.

Can't you just uncover such evidence within the university setting, since that's where people are smart? Oddly, no, for the upper echelons of human society are especially intent on denigrating matters pertaining to faith. Their motive? Essentially, they don't like conclusionsthe Bible points to and/or the personal responsibility it implies, and so they seek with all their might to undermine it. Since we operate within society, such dominant attitudes can rub off....in fact, they certainly will unless we do something to counteract the flood of Bible-trashing propaganda.

The Bible's promise of living forever on a transformed paradise earth attracts persons of humble backgrounds. But in western lands, educated folk smile knowingly and dismiss the idea as a fairy tale. They are too clever to believe in fairy tales. Thus, this friendly fellow I trade letters with, let's call him Dan, declared he would not check into such a notion because a) he would not know how to check, and b) he feared it would be a waste of his time since c.) it struck him as a big fantasy.

Well, of course it would! Trust me, I would look askance were he, with his background, to say "This is great! Where do I sign up?!" No, it strikes him as a fantasy, as should be expected. However it will also strike him, hopefully, as an appealing fantasy.

Now, if checking into it called for some outlandish allotment of time, you would reasonably expect a person to pass. Ditto if it were expensive. Why waste time and money on a likely "fantasy?" Would that not be naive? But if checking was fast and cheap, then what's the hang-up? If it truly is fantasy, the one sharing it is the naive one, not the recipient, since the sharer does so free of charge.

Jehovah's Witnesses' signature offer is a program of home Bible study. It's free. It's an hour or so per week. And since folks here have usually not heard of the "live forever on earth" promise....well, that's why we visit people, even though some (many?) wish we would not. It’s a model as old as time: if you have something worthwhile, you must tell people about it. They rarely come to you. At any rate, the home Bible study is a viable way to check into it. It may be the only way. It certainly is the most direct.

Strangely, if the program was offered at the university, and if people had to pay a fortune for it, and devote much time, and if they could earn a degree in it, it would be enormously popular. But, as it is, who offers this program? Clods, bumpkins, Jehovah's Witnesses! What could they possibly know?

So people take odd consolation in modern day "prophets" such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-February 28, 2007), who writes: "..........because all important problems are insoluble: that is why they are important. The good comes from the continuing struggle to try and solve them, not from the vain hope of their solution."

If someone as smart as he says problems are insoluble, well, then they must be. And if another claims to have found a solution.....what, they're smarter than Mr. Schlesinger, are they? What degrees from what universities do they hold? All the more so if they come from some unsophisticated camp like Jehovah's Witnesses!

But one must be discerning and consider the nature of Christianity, which was historically a movement of the common folk....carpenters, fishermen, not the upper classes. For example:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are... 1 Cor: 26-28

And when the apostles were summoned before the Sanhedrin (religious leaders of the day): "Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus."                     Acts 4:13

In other words, the common folk had the answers back then, not the sophisticated ones.

In time, the upper classes hijacked Christianity. They found a way to make a buck off it. They found a way to surround it with social prestige and influence. But they so changed Christianity in doing so that it became unrecognizable, worlds apart from what Jesus taught, fully capable of acting contrary to his teachings. That is why Sam Harriscan latch onto religious conduct as raw material for his doctrine.

 

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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)

Rochester and the Curse of the Fast Ferry

It's the curse that keeps on cursing.

Anyone from Rochester will know what is referred to....the fast ferry, that lake-going vessel that is yet plunging the city through descending levels of financial hell which even Dante never imagined.

It seemed like such a good idea. Bring a high-speed ferry to Rochester, so that the folks in Toronto, whom we all know are itching to visit our town, could hop over the big lake in no time. Sure, it was expensive, but then, great ideas are never cheap! Where's that checkbook? Whadyamean, you're opposed? You got something against progress? But the operation lost money the instant it touched shore....like a million dollars a month. A new administration decided, within days of taking power, that enough was enough, and put the boat up for sale, pleased to escape with a taxpayer tab of only $20 million (now $28 million), assuming they could sell the boat. It was an optimistic assumption.

There was this outfit, Euroferries, that straight off said they wanted the vessel, and city luminaries gave each other high-fives. But that was almost a year ago. You can only drag your feet so long, and so Mayor Duffy sent the city lawyer to go eyeball to eyeball with those guys. Yes, look them in the eye, just like a TV anchorman, and peer into their soul. It was a wise move, for their soul revealed that they did indeed like the boat, but they didn't...um...have the....uh....dough. So the city cut them loose and retreated to square one. That way the boat won't sit ten years awaiting a new owner, or at least awaiting Euroferries as a new owner.

Alas, throughout this long saga, it's hard to avoid the impression that sharpie businesspeople have been playing city officials like Prince played his guitarat the Superbowl. I mean, our boys are politicians, for crying out loud! It hardly seems fair.

Many projects are achieved by trampling the opposition under your feet. If you wait for all the bickerers, backbiters, and foot draggers to come on board, you’ll never get anything done. Noble projects get done this way. This, they tell me, was the story behind the fast ferry. If it works out, the doer is a visionary. A hero. Who cares how he got it done? Running down the whiners is brilliant, an absolutely essential, strategy! But God help that doer if the vision doesn’t pan out!

Isn't there a war somewhere following this general pattern?

Too bad for the first mayor, Bill Johnson. He worked tirelessly and obviously had the city’s interest at heart. But he will be remembered only for “Johnson’s folly.” Fortunately for him, since the next administration scuttled the deal, he will always be able to say "if only." If only they had hung in there. If only they had marketed more. If only they had gone to other places, say the 1000 islands, not just Toronto. If only they had prayed more. And maybe he's right. Nobody will ever know for sure.

Nor can they say they weren't warned. Contrary to popular belief, the city was advised beforehand that the project didn’t have a snowball’s chance in you-know-where. Not wanting to rush blindly into a deal of such magnitude, the city engaged the Carriertom Into-Wishin Research Institute to provide a feasibility study.

Carriertom completed its report in record time, a mere three days, since they are fun-loving people there at the Institute, and could not resist calling their report the fast fast ferry study. True, the haste was at the expense of accuracy, but it was not thought to be out of harmony with the company’s motto “That’s Close Enough!“ After all, Carriertom doesn’t charge much, and in these days of high fuel prices, that’s always a valid consideration. As it turned out, it didn’t matter anyway.

For, not wishing to be ambiguous nor make local politicians do a lot of reading, the report arrived in a dust jacket with bold lettering: Fast Ferry Won’t Work! Alas, this tactic backfired, because they are very politically correct over there at City Hall, and the mail room clerk, upon seeing the dust jacket, misinterpreted it to be a slur against gay people! And a groundless slur at that, since the city has hired several gay persons, and has found they work just fine. Indeed, they are model employees. Enraged, the clerk hurled the report into the trash! Thus, valuable research, which city fathers desperately needed, never reached their eyes.

The next day, the city of Rochester spent God knows how many millions to purchase and transport the boat to harbor. Six months later, a new administration canned the floundering operation, and it's been root canal sailing ever since.

That’s the true story, which the Carriertom Institute is eager to tell so that it may not be unjustly blamed for the failed project. They tried, they really did.

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)

Mitochondria DNA and the Y Chromosome

 

Some scientists were reading a post on this blog or somewhere else when they came across a serious reference to Adam and Eve. They laughed so hard they fell off their perches and cracked their heads, whereupon they were rushed to the hospital. After some patching and a blood transfusion each to top off the tank, they were released.

Alright, alright! So they weren't scientists. I mean....they were, but they were specifically evolutionists. Not all scientists believe evolution, though most do.

But why should they laugh till they hurt themselves? Do we not hear all the time about the missing link that connects us to primates? That's link, (singular) not links (plural). If the necessary mutation needed to separate our ancestors from those of the orangutan has a one in bazillion chance of occurring, are we to believe it happened numerous times? So even from their standpoint, if it just happened once, why not term that being Eve, and its first mate Adam? (or vice versa)

This conclusion is supported by some evidence. Scientists have studied mitochondria DNA, inherited only from the female, and have traced all living humans back to a single female, a MRCA (most recent common ancestor). They have studied the Y chromosome, inherited only from the male, and traced us all back to a common male ancestor as well!

Now don't get all excited. Evolutionists don't say they were married, or even lived at the same time. The dates they assign, depending on who you read, are within the framework of Genesis. But they don't say these were the only two persons alive in their time. Far from it.

They do agree on a common male and a common female ancestor. Some agree on a time frame compliant with Genesis. And that's something.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Yes, with regard to the evolution/creation debate, we do think it's well to weigh in on behalf of the good guys, not only of account of the question itself, but also on account of its clear implications. If God truly did create the earth and humankind, maybe he has a purpose for them. Maybe he just won't stand by and see humans wreck everything he has made. Maybe he will toss the destructive louts, just like a landlord will toss rotten tenants. In short, maybe there's light at the end of the tunnel.

On the other hand, if earth and everything on it are merely the result of blind chance, of mutation, preserved only by natural selection, then if humans have any bright future, it lies in efforts they themselves are making.

And they’re not doing so well.

 

Tom Irregardless and Me                No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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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)

Waist Hip Ratios and the Four Year Itch

When scientist Tom Tombaugh quit the Carriertom Into-Wishen Research Institute, it was said that he just felt lonesome for like-minded companionship. He would sit in the lunchroom and long for intelligent discussion on some learned matter of science, for example, how boisterous belching or earth-splitting flatulence evolved over the eons, since our ancestors who didn‘t carry on in that way failed to scare away predators and were thus eaten. Alas, his religious lunch mates would attribute it all to Adam and Eve and our fall into sin!

That was a joke. Evolutionists have not yet attributed flatulence to survival of the fittest.

But if anyone believed the report, they can be forgiven. Assertions only slightly less asinine are routinely dispensed from on high, and are eagerly lapped up by us, the ignorant masses.

For example, can you spot a shapely woman two counties away? Where does that knack come from? Naturally, from your cavemen ancestors! For when you drool over a pretty girl, you're simply responding to evolutionary mathematics embedded in our very genes. You unconsciously calculate the waist hip ratio! 0.7 is what you're looking for, and diversely weighted woman such as Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy, Sophia Loren, and Kate Moss have all sported that ratio. (Guys should be 0.9) It turns out that women of the golden ratio are healthier, more fertile, and they have convenient shelves for carrying babies. Natural selection favors them. A 1:1 woman, for example, will drop all her babies and kill them, which impedes species survival. How this perfect ratio gets locked in our heads and converted to notions of "attractiveness" I've not yet heard, but evolutionary psychologists are convinced that it does.

Consider another example. Toward the end of the twentieth century, career types were disheartened to realize they couldn't hold a marriage together to save their lives. But they didn't want to be disheartened, they wanted to feel good about themselves. So it became essential to come up with a explanation and, above all things, that explanation had to totally absolve them from responsibly, blame or guilt....all antiquated notions unfit for modern humans. Again, the cavemen delivered!

You see, those cavemen had to spread their seed if they wanted to win the survival game, so it was no good staying in one relationship. You had to move on! But you'd better not move on too quick. No, you have to hang around four years, to ensure that your toddlers don't get eaten by predators! After that, the woman can ensure it while you go in quest of the golden waist hip ratio. Again, the evolutionary psychologists, who are taken seriously and not laughed off the planet as they ought to be, assert that this behavior got locked into our genes, to be passed on to progeny.

I don't much care for this notion, but recent discoveries seem to support it. Out in the wilds somewhere, anthropologists have recently unearthed fossils of Yabbadabba Man, a boring ancestor if ever there was one. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble are thought to be members of this species. They had one or two kids apiece and just hung around afterwards plunked in front of the TV, until even their own wives got fed up with them and tossed them out on their ear, though alas, too late in life for them to start anew and spread their seed. As you might expect, that bunch died out.

Then there was Slambang Man, another recent find. These Romeos were forever moving on in search of shapelier babes. They each had hundreds, maybe thousands of kids, but they left them all to predators so they could go out carousing, and every last one of them was eaten. This species, too, died out, though they are eternally reborn with each new generation.

Of all branches of science, evolutionary psychology seems the most ridiculous. Is there any proof to support it's conclusions? Or is it not simply the case that its advocates have already accepted evolution as the rock solid unquestionable base from which to work. and are determined to link every eccentricity of human behavior to that base? While the layman can usually follow their reasoning, is it not pure speculation on their part?

 

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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)

Tiny Funnies? That's Not Funny!

When the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle shrunk the Sunday comics to microscopic size, it made Edward P Curtis, Jr. hopping mad. He fired off a sharp rebuke to the offending paper, but they didn’t print it. So he sent a copy to rival City! newspaper. They did.

Why shouldn’t he be mad? Is there a newsprint shortage? Will tiny funnies house the homeless? Feed the hungry? Support the troops? No, no, no and no. It will help the shareholders, saving a fraction of a cent per hundred papers.

Truth be told, we were all furious that horrible Sunday morning when we saw what the misers had done. We all wanted to give them a piece of our mind, but we were afraid to. This type of letter is tricky.

Deep down in our heart of hearts, we all know that the funnies aren’t too important. Maybe our letter of protest will hit on a heavy news day. The Opinion page will be stuffed with gut-wrenching letters about genocide, AIDS, earthquakes, stock market meltdown….and smack dead center will be our silly little letter sniveling about the funnies.

It can be done, but you can’t be clumsy. You must saturate your letter with humor, self-deprecation, and mock outrage. That way, if it appears alongside weighty stories, it is the editor who looks like a dork, not you.

Mr. Curtis has brilliantly met the challenge. Thank you, sir, for you did what we all wanted to do, but didn’t have the guts.

Unfortunately, Mr. Curtis’ letter reached the D&C too late. They had already published a letter of protest from a less experienced writer, who fell headlong into the above trap.

Dear Ms. Editor:
How truly tragic that a feature which brings all of us so much joy each week, the Sunday funnies, has been reduced in size. It’s now so hard to see the detail in drawings that I so cherish. Of course, we all must cut costs, but surely not at the expense of the uplifting Sunday funnies! I am not angry, and I can forgive, for I feel you do not know what you do. But please, please, oh please, Ms. Editor, reconsider and restore our beloved Sunday funnies.

The letter was printed on a day of heavy news. They sandwiched it between a letter from Osama Bin Laden and another from a tsunami survivor. That night, the embarrassed author left town, and hasn‘t been heard from since.

 

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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)

Philosophers and Theologians Strike Out

Evil and suffering are embarrassing intellectual problems that philosophers and theologians have wrestled with forever. Why, having spent all that time, do they come up empty-handed?

This statement of Jesus is key:

“I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes."                 Matt 11:25

That's quite a trick. Just how does the “Father, Lord of heaven and earth” do it? Do we ever see that feat elsewhere, perhaps in the university settings where those philosophers and theologians hang out? Does it ever happen there that the babes understand, yet the wise and intellectual ones come up short?

No, it does not. So how can it be true in this context?

The quick answer is that we are emotional beings as well as intellectual ones. And certain qualities will absolutely short circuit one's spiritual quest. Pride will do it. As will narcissism. "Smarts" can be found in abundance in the university setting. But humility is more rare. As is the willingness to put other's interests ahead of one's own.

As long as this is the case (and I can't picture it ever changing) those philosophers and theologians will strike out every time. The answers are there. Their minds can readily grasp it, more readily than those less mentally endowed. But their dominant dispositions will never permit it.

For example, regarding the Christian message, the apostle Paul said:

For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing....For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.....we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness...    1 Cor 1:18-23

And, make no mistake, Christianity in the first century did not appeal to philosophers and theologians, any more than it does today:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are...       vs 26-28

Note that Paul did not say "any." He said "many" There were some Christians "wise, powerful, of noble birth," but not "many." Pride, selfishness, and concern about one's social status would thwart them almost always, completely negating any intellectual advantage.

Paul endeavored to spread Christianity in Athens, where he encountered philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic variety. They can hardly be described as brimming with humility. “What is it this chatterer would like to tell?” they asked each other? The word "chatterer" literally means "seed-picker" and it has reference to a bird who picks up a seed here and poops it out there, and picks one up there and poops it out some other place.       Acts 17:18

No, he was not treated with much respect. Today Jehovah's Witnesses find a similar situation. They present their Christian message to everyone. Yet only humble people respond. People bursting with pride never do.

It's not hard to see why. The Bible's message is that humans do not have the answers to the world's problems, and are not capable of self-rule. Furthermore, God's Kingdom is the answer and the best way we can spend our time is to announce that Kingdom, while remaining neutral with regard to this world's affairs and politics. Just try selling that to a prideful person! They live for figuring new solutions, devising new politics and......God forbid they should spend their time speaking religion to strangers, or even be associated with those that do!

Within the humble context of Bible study, the mystery regarding suffering and evil is answered readily.   

 

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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)

Pope Benedict and Maxwell Friend

They think they've found the tomb of the apostle Paul. It's been unearthed from beneath the altar of Rome's second-largest basilica, St. Paul's Outside the Walls Basilica. It dates from 390 CE or before. Tradition has it that Paul was beheaded during 1rst century persecution of Christians.

Hence, at the end of "Prayer Week for Christian Unity," Pope Benedict and three other churchmen, a riot of luxuriant color amidst matching surroundings, are seen peering over the tomb. Yet if Paul were there in death as he had been in life (the tomb hasn't yet been opened) he would seem out of place. His clothing would be course and drab. His hands would be used calloused and blistered.

It's hard to think otherwise based on what the New Testament tells us of Paul's life. When he traveled, as he did on three missionary tours, he roughed it.

Are they ministers of Christ? I reply [with regard to local "luminaries," softies, who were trying to make themselves prominent in the Corinthian congregation] like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: in labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in blows to an excess, in near-deaths often. By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from [my own] race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness.     2 Corinthians 11:23-27

While on the road, he worked to support himself.

After these things he departed from Athens and came to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus who had recently come from Italy, and Priscilla his wife, because of the fact that Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. So he went to them and on account of being of the same trade he stayed at their home, and they worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. However, he would give a talk in the synagogue every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks.     Acts 18:1-4

Though, as a full time minister, he might reasonably have lived off his ministry, he did not do so, so as not to abuse his authority.

If we have sown spiritual things to you, is it something great if we shall reap things for the flesh from you? If other men partake of this authority over you, do we not much more so? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this authority, but we are bearing all things, in order that we might not offer any hindrance to the good news about the Christ. Do you not know that the men performing sacred duties eat the things of the temple, and those constantly attending at the altar have a portion for themselves with the altar? In this way, too, the Lord ordained for those proclaiming the good news to live by means of the good news.

But I have not made use of a single one of these [provisions]. Indeed, I have not written these things that it should become so in my case, for it would be finer for me to die than—no man is going to make my reason for boasting void! If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news! If I perform this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it against my will, all the same I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What, then, is my reward? That while declaring the good news I may furnish the good news without cost, to the end that I may not abuse my authority in the good news.

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As a Ministerial Servant, I was tending to some duties just before the meeting when I heard an unmistakable voice followed by a greeting that spelled doom:

"Brother Friend! What a surprise! What brings you here?" It was Maxwell Friend, from the Governing Body! And what did bring him here, far from his home turf? It turns out he was chums with an elderly couple from the sister congregation, and he was in town to visit. Friend's voice was very distinctive, easily recognized from recorded dramas.

Of course, normally this greeting would not spell doom at all. I would be happy to meet him. But I had a teaching part on the evening's program, a Q & A session, and I hadn't really prepared to the extent I would have liked. I wasn't unprepared, you understand, just not prepared enough to be brimming with confidence. "Great," I thought, "just great! Here I'm going to show myself an inept ass before one of the Governing Body!"

But I'd done these parts before, and this one went fine. Brother Friend sat in the audience just like anyone else and raised his hand to comment just like anyone else. I called on him. He made some brief remark just like anyone else.

Among Jehovah's Witnesses there is no distinctive garb nor any segregation for those who take the lead. Understand that, as a member of the Governing Body, Brother Friend would correspond rank-wise with the Pope's inner circle of Cardinals. [yes, yes, I know, we don't really think of "ranks," we think of ones serving, but you get my drift] Yet here he was indistinguishable among brothers of the congregation, obediently answering my Q & A questions!

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Maxwell Friend came from Germany and he was a Holocaust survivor. And since this post began with an observation of Pope Benedict, it is irresistible to contrast the two. Benedict, as a youngster, was a member of the Hitler youth and later served in the German military. Of course, I write this not to denigrate Benedict, but rather to elevate Friend. Benedict was a kid at the time, and without a strong support system [which, alas, the Church was not], he could hardly have been expected to refuse Nazi cooperation. Nobody says he embraced it wholeheartedly. I'm sure he did not. He later deserted from the military, to his considerable credit.

Nonetheless, we sure have some irony. If visitors from another planet were to play "match game," surely they would connect the guy who cooperated with that despicable regime, albeit as a vulnerable youth under duress, with the future governing body member of a derided, fringe nutcake religion, while the fellow who refused any fellowship with those felons would certainly be the one later to lead the world's largest and most prominent church denomination.

But they'd be wrong.

And in this age of "victimization," it's only a matter of time till cooperation with the Nazis is seen as a growing, learning experience, whereas outright refusal is just pigheaded and impractical, the expected course of a closed-minded religious nut.....in the odd tradition we have today of converting a plus into a minus and vice versa.

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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 anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

 

[Edit  11/3/11   A brother emailed me to say that, although Max Friend had been in Bethel forever and ever, and had done many things, he was never on the governing body.  Naw....can't be, I said. But then I checked and....sure enough, it was true. Where did I ever get this idea in my head? Gasp.....does this mean I could also be wrong on other things?]

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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)