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An Interim to Save the Day?

How many times is it that the guy who isn't campaigning, doesn't want the job, and must be drafted, is the one who saves the day?

Will it turn out this way at the beleaguered City School District, long afflicted with one superstar superintendent after another? Maybe.

Manny Rivera, recruited from somewhere-or-other out of town, serving his second gig in Rochester, landed a better job as Boston's superintendent of schools. Boston is bigger than Rochester, and students need more work, since they talk funny over there, like the Kennedys. Only, before Rivera could take the reigns, he found a still better job, as education czar with Governor Spitzer. So Boston is scrounging for a new chief, just like Rochester.

Meanwhile, while scrounging, they have to have someone to preside. So they turned to Bill Cala. Cala just retired from the neighboring affluent Fairport school district, with plans move to Kenya and work in education there. That's the kind of guy he is. But while he's getting his plans firmed up, maybe he will come and hold down the fort at the City School District, until they find another superstar. Yes, Bill says, he will. So he is the interim superintendent.

Did they figure he would be merely a low-key-preserve-the-status-quo guy? That's not him, as Tim Louis Macaluso reported in City Newspaper. A few weeks on the job, and Cala charitably says: "This district isn't organized like any I have ever seen." No, it isn't. We've long suspected it. Each year they demand more money. Each year they show poorer results. When incoming mayor Pete Duffy asked for operational facts and figures (seeking accountability, since the city has to fund the schools) they absolutely bristled. And stonewalled. They didn't tell him anything other than "keep that money coming."

So Cala aims to make changes. "My biggest concern, the reason this is necessary," he says, "is we are not focused on kids. And that's the only reason we're here. There's no other reason to come in through those front doors." School 45 Principal Vicky Gouveia agrees that "the system was working to favor the needs of adults, not children."

Several weeks ago, we learned that the City School Districts graduation ratelast year was 39%. Yet the then-superintendent was named National Superintendent of the Year for 2006! Doesn't that say it all? And, alas, it suggests that it's not just local administrators who've yet to focus on kids instead of adults.

(Incidentally, the Democrat and Chronicle recently reported that this fellow's predecessor, another superstar, was just sacked from his moving-on-up assignment, the Washington DC. School District.)

"I can tell you right now that I'm looking at a leaner organization," Cala says. "Right now, there is no one in charge of curriculum and instruction, which is astonishing to me. It is divided up among many people.....what is most problematic is seeing how there can be two separate lines of communication about kids, with information that isn't shared. [!] People are working in their own separate silos, and that's got to change."

Each decision he makes, he says, he puts through a simple screening process: "How does this help the kids? If I do this, does it help them? Is it neutral? Or does it hinder them? That's all that really matters, and I want everyone here to use the same set of guidelines. What am I doing? What am I spending my time on that helps kids?" How can you not like this guy? Surely the man must know how to speak educatese, but there's no sign of it here.

Most do like him, but a few don't. One critic from the school board association points out that big city school districts are "incredibly complex." Maybe Cala, from the bucolic suburbs, doesn't realize that. But, in general, you should watch out for people who carry on about things being "incredibly complex." What you look for is someone who can simplify them.

Not everyone thinks Cala should be making structural changes. He's only the interim super, after all. Let the permanent super make the changes. Cala's unimpressed. He'll be doing the next guy a big favor. "It will make the job more attractive. I know that I wouldn't want to walk into this. Besides, I am addressing the problem in phases. I have 27 years of experience. I know how educational systems should work, and I know what's best for kids."

So maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not an oncoming train. Most likely the district, wowed as usual by theories instead of results, will again hire some overpriced clod who speaks fluent educatese, but at least he will inherit less of a mess than he would have before.



Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

The Devil Attends a Convention!

We were in a top secret meeting reviewing brainwashing techniques when in burst Tom Pearlsenswine, so excited. He'd just come across a blog entry: Church Wars! A group of Jehovah's Witnesses and a group of church evangelizers crossed swords on a public street - almost a brawl! giving residents great (and free) entertainment. It ended when the street spokesman yelled at both the JW leader and the church leader, but she yelled at the JW leader less! What a great experience! Pearlsenswine ventured. He wanted to post a comment. It would be a great witness for the Lord, he said. Of course, we all dropped everything to go online.

"Pearlsenswine, you idiot!" we remonstrated gently. "This is not a serious post. This guy is being creative. He's having fun. You go on there with your super-sober piety, and you'll make us all a laughingstock." But there's no reasoning with Pearlsenswine when he gets something into his head. His own website says it all: "He puts the dog into dogmatic!"

So off he goes commenting and, predictably, the writer returns with ", I just made this up. 90% of it, anyway." What a bullet-headed lout our boy is!

But I got to chatting with this fellow on the real event that inspired his post, and it turns out that he's not particularly down on Jehovah's Witnesses. They are harmless and inoffensive enough, he opines. But the other group he can't stand.  "I like to be persuaded . . . not told by some righteous person that I am a lowlife that will burn in hell. That lot deserve to be parodied, especially the guy outside the tube (this fellow's British, just like Queen Elizabeth) station who is basically just a nasty bastard," he said. The group in his story paraded in around in public with a bloodied "Jesus" on a cross who twitched! Twitched! That's not a little sick? he suggests. (notwithstanding Mel Gibson's movie, which is required viewing for this bunch) "What a great piece of exaggeration!" I congratulated him. But no, he assured me, that part really happened. He had pictures.

This strikes a chord with me because we just finished up our district convention, this year themed Follow the Christ. Now, these firebrand groups can't stand JWs, mainly because we don't line up with their favorite doctrines: trinity and hellfire. So they always picket our conventions. One guy is dressed up in a "devil" suit, gesticulating. What on earth is he doing? He's waving his disciples into the auditorium!

Look, I realize that not everyone welcomes JW visits. Furthermore, I admit we are not always "smooth." It depends on the person, their experience & comfort level, the circumstances, and so forth. But I do pledge that we will never come to anyone's door in a devil suit.

The Devil's been showing up for several years now. Is it my imagination or was he 10 feet tall the first year (probably due to drywall stilts) whereas now he's just regular height? If it turns out he was never on stilts, his head will grow so big it will topple him off the stilts he was never on. It means he loomed larger than life in my imagination! It means he's getting under my skin!

Well, yeah, maybe a little. These guys are pretty obnoxious. Our people must form a human "corridor" so that conventioneers  can enter the building unmolested. It's not as if we couldn't find a better use for our time. Even the cops are fed up with them and threaten them with arrest when they try to physically obstruct entrance. After all, being assigned district convention duty is, for a cop, an easy gig. They simply direct traffic. Nothing more. Our people don't even stray outside the crosswalk! They're on their best behavior, imagining this gives "a good witness." The policeman stands there with a donut and exchanges pleasantries with our people as we cross this or that street.  What could be easier? But now they have to put up with these religious bigmouths who, this year, for the first time (I think) in Rochester, came with sound equipment, which they used to blast everyone's eardrums, reminding them about hellfire.

All this is sort of an annual joke. Those entering the auditorium rarely so much as look at these people. The general thought is that this will only encourage them, and so that's the word-of-mouth policy that we usually follow. Of course, following policy doesn't cut it with this bunch, who do anything they damn well like anytime they like. If our people decline to speak to them, they interpret it as "brainwashing," as if every conventioneer would just love to engage them in stimulating conversation, but the mean Watchtower won't let them.



[UPDATE: 2009 Keep on the Watch Convention]

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Will the Real Animals Please Stand Up

For the 4th time in 19 years, Jehovah's Witnesses are studying the book Revelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand, a verse by verse consideration of that final Bible book: Revelation. Verse by verse is an ambitious undertaking. Some verses are explained with spot-on, blow-you-out-of-the-water clarity, and some may make you say "hmmm, could that really be?" But even the latter are presented persuasively, backed with evidence, and presented with the non-dogmatic caveat that  "It is not claimed that explanations in this publication are infallible. Like Joseph of old, we say "do not interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8) At the same time, however, we firmly believe that the explanations set forth herein harmonize with the Bible in its entirety, showing how remarkably divine prophesy has been fulfilled in the world events of our catastrophic times."  (page 9)

A new edition has been prepared for the current study, but, so as not to render the older books obsolete [these are not college textbooks, after all, which deliberately tweak information each year, so that the old book is no good and students must shell out $150 for a new one] an insert has been prepared with all the revisions. They are insignificant, for most part, generally just the updating of dates and statistics. But a few have more substance.

For example, in the midst of discussion of Rev 6:3-4.....

And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say: “Come!”  And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him.

Paragraph 18 on page 94 states "some scientists forecast mathematically that an accidental nuclear war is virtually certain to take place within the next 25 years - let alone a planned nuclear conflagration!" The updated version, however, yanks this phrase for the blander: "some scientists speak of the possibility of an accidental nuclear war - let alone a planned nuclear conflagration!"   [!]

The reason the publishers have done this is because Tom Barfendogs has marked on his calendar (to the day, hour, and minute) exactly when 25 years from the first book's publication expires. He is praying, hoping, pleading that there is no nuclear war within that time frame (after that is okay) so he can launch into yet another false prophet screamfest. But now he's been checked in his nefarious scheme!

However, there is a school of thought which holds that the publishers too early quit a game of "chicken." The original may yet turn out to be true, even if there is only 6 years left. Do we not have Iran and North Korea cooking up their own bombs, unstable nations if ever there were unstable nations? Is not Isreal thinking they may yet someday teach hostile neighbor nations an atomic lesson? Has not the formerly monolithic Soviet Union more-or-less fallen apart, so that any Boy Scout troop can fill up a shopping cart with second-hand nukes?. Decidedly, the Watchtower publishers are being sissy, girliemen (per Schwartzenegger). It may yet turn out as they first said. And even if it doesn't, who gets egg on their face? The Watchtower? No! "Some scientists" said the saying. Why should Watchtower care if "some scientists" shoot themselves in the foot? "Some scientists" are always saying rash things, like how, if you 'give infinite monkeys infinite typewriters one of them will write the complete works of Shakespeare!' Or how boisterous flatulance evolved over the eons as a means to scare off predators.

The publishers also missed an opportunity to update when commenting on Rev 6:8

And I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Commenting on the "wild beasts of the earth" part, Watchtower lays stress on literal mean animals, like the vicious Monty Python bunny rabbit. [my example, not theirs] They also mention people who behave like animals, making a reference to Isa 11:6-9:

And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.

The animals in this verse likely refer to people as well as the literal critters. This is because other verses liken people to various animals, and "the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah" would affect people, but probably not animals. So formerly vicious "animals," under Kingdom rule, coexist peacefully with their nicer counterparts. But in Revelation 6:8, the vicious animals are having a field day, being one of the means in which Death claims a quarter of the earth.

Lots of people are vicious animals today. Unreasoning. Bombers, for example, ecstatic at the thought of dying, if only they can take a few dozen with them! And just today [July 17] there is an NPR report of gangs ("The Multitude") in Kenya that have beheaded 100 people. Heads turn up all over the city, sometimes on spikes. "Animals" is a perfect description! Even in the original 1988 edition, Watchtower observed that such "[animalistic] people are largely responsible for the global expansion of sex-related crimes, murder, terrorism, and bombings in the modern world." It was true then. All the more so today.

It was a area in which the current edition could have expanded, but didn't.


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News But Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Leaving the Kids Behind

When "No Child Left Behind" became law a few years back, politicians were ecstatic. Finally, no child would be left behind! They had been left behind before, as many as 61%last year in the City School District. (in spite of the law) Incidentally, that assumes that the 39% who did graduate were well equipped academically, an assumption not everyone would be willing to grant. But, who knows, perhaps before No Child Left Behind, it was only 29%. How could anyone not be excited?

Nobody wanted to be left behind on the "not left behind" craze. Thus, the local bus company declared that no passenger would be left behind! Everyone was enthused. On day one of the new program, almost all passengers were there right on time at the first bus stop. But a few didn't show up. These ones would have been cheated before, but with the new policy, they would not be left behind! The bus driver waited and waited and waited and waited. Still they did not show. Not a problem - this had been anticipated! Each bus had some rousting personnel on board, and those rousters went right to the laggards' homes and rounded them up! Finally, everybody was on board. The bus reached downtown with no passenger left behind! Of course, they all missed their appointments.

My uncle was a hell raiser as a kid. Back in the 1940's, long ago. Constant complaints from his teachers. Finally, his dad said: If the boy won’t behave, pull him out of school. He was “left behind!"

I knew in the first week it was a mistake, he told me later. In time, he got his act together, and lived out the remainder of his years a productive person.

Guys my age cannot help thinking that, years ago, jettisoning the hell raisers, or at least segregating them, might have averted today's educational catastrophe. We try to get over it, we really do, but there's that nagging suspicion that we've all been sold down the river by educators, who proudly strut the deck of a sinking ship, blaming everyone but themselves for letting the ship fall into disrepair. Yes, we try to get over it, but.....isn't it possible, if you'd long ago let students "fall behind," that 6 percent would have, and that half of those, like my uncle, would later realize their mistake and catch up? Then you'd have 3% permanently "left behind." That is a sobering thought.

But it sure beats the 60 percent effectively left behind today, either through not graduating or through graduating with dumbed-down curriculum that caters to the most disruptive and dysfunctional kid.



Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Isaac Asimov and Ignaz Semmelweis

I once worked with a girl named Casey who positively loved science fiction. In the context of other things, I mentioned the film I, Robot.

Oh, that was terrible! she said.

But as we kept talking, it turned out she had never seen it. Um...Casey, how do know it's terrible if you've never seen it? I asked. The answer was that she was a purist. She knew the movie did not follow Isaac Asimov's storyline, and that was enough for her!

For an Asimov purist, the movie would indeed be blasphemy. Asimov, who wrote almost all the time, having 500 books (written or edited) and 90,000 letters to his credit, with works in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal system, penned the Foundation trilogy and the I, Robot series, both pillars among science fiction. His plotting was ingenious, and had he been able to empathetically sketch people as well as ideas, he might have gone down as one of literature's true greats. Alas, his characters are cardboard, like those TV characters who are freely interchangeable save for one or two superficial features: this one is mean, this one likes to eat, that one is a geek, etc. Too bad - for every other aspect of Asimov's writing is extraordinary.

Asimov was an atheist, but I always imagine that, if current atheists had been taught the Bible by Jehovah's Witnesses instead of the churches, they may not have turned atheist. It's probably not so but I dream it anyway. For example, in his last autobiographical book, Asimov observes that hell is "the drooling dream of a sadist" crudely affixed to an all-merciful God; if even human governments were willing to curtail cruel and unusual punishments, wondered Asimov, why would punishment in the afterlife not be restricted to a limited term.  [Wikipedia entry on Isaac Asimov] Yeah! Man, I wish he had heard first from Jehovah's Witnesses! Virtually alone among Christian faiths at the turn of the last century, Jehovah's Witnesses exposed hellfire for the vicious rubbish that it is. JW "founder" C. T. Russell was known in his lifetime as the man who "turned the hose on hell and put out the fire!"

At any rate, had he been a Witness, it would have benefited him personally. He died in 1992, of AIDS contracted from a blood transfusion nine years prior.

Still, I am grateful to Dr. Asimov, not only for the hours of intriguing science fiction he laid upon me, but also for his non-fiction works. Asimov's Guide to Science probably was my springboard to individual branches of science. If Asimov lacked in sketching fictional characters, he was gifted in sketching real ones. Not only the pillars, but also the buffoons, he succeeded in portraying the humanity of scientists. It is from him (Asimov's guide to Biology) that I first read of Ignaz Semmelweis, early advocate of antiseptic surgical practices and forerunner of germ theory.

In the mid 1800's, Semmelweis got it in his head that fever and death following doctor-assisted childbirth could be curtailed by washing hands and equipment frequently. Doctors back then would deliver a baby, having just emerged from an autopsy, only wiping their hands on their smocks! There were some sort of tiny "particles" contaminating the women, Semmelweis proposed. Doctors howled with laughter at such nonsense. Asimov's book vividly portrays Semmelweis' presenting his ideas at seminars, with his esteemed audience mocking him, hurling catcalls! Doctors argued that, even if Semmeweis' findings were correct, washing one's hands each time before treating a pregnant woman would be too much work. Semmelweis enforced strict antiseptic practices at the hospital under his supervision, cutting deaths to under 1%, and it made no difference in their attitude! Colleagues ridiculed him his entire life, he suffered a nervous breakdown and, says Asimov, died in an insane asylum tormented by memories of women screaming in their death-agonies following hospital-acquired infections. With Semmelweis out of the way, his own hospital went back to familiar practices and the mortality rate climbed to 35%.

You can read the bare facts in many places, but Asimov's account is the most vivid I have come across, remarkable in a book that purports only to be an outline, a "guide."

Whenever those atheists start prattling on about how scientists graciously change their views at the first hint they may be off-base, whereas it's only the pig-headed religionists who "stay the course" come hell or high water, I play the 'Semmelweis' card.

Athiest or not, I miss Isaac Asimov.


**********************************  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

The Communist and the Kids

I called on a old fellow in the door to door ministry who said he was a Communist. He wasn't especially pleasant, but he was genuine, and unique. Didn't the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites disprove Communism as a viable system? I asked. (It had only recently happened) No, because Communism was imposed by force upon a agrarian country. It wasn't the revolt of the proletariat, such as one might have foreseen in the U.S. at one time.

He had a house full of antique inventions, among them an Edison phonograph.

I homeschooled my daughter then. A few weeks later I had her out with me in the ministry. She was about 9 or 10. I stopped in on the Communist.

"So how's the discipling going?" he asked (or something similar). "Just fine," I replied. "I'm sorry to hear it," he said. Had I not left myself wide open?

"So what do you want?" he demanded, more gruff than even his prior gruffness. Just as gruff, I shot back "I came to show my daughter your antiques!" He opened the door, let us both in, gave us a tour, explained the different machines, and could not have been more pleasant! How often does a child get to see such old gadgets?

Kids are useful in the ministry. Of course, we don't "use" them. You don't bring them along unless they're ready to come, and you don't let them speak unless they want to. But in my experience, they usually want to. Joel Engardio, producer of the documentary Knocking was raised a Witness but left for a career in journalism. Nonetheless, he assures us, as a kid he was the designated doorbell-ringer, a "cool job for a 4 year old." As a teenager, he continues, "I gave presentations at doorsteps around town in hopes of becoming a "publisher," or minister, of the Bible. I found fulfillment in telling others - anyone who cared to listen -that all of mankind's plagues would be solved when God's kingdom arrived." So there is something to training children in the ministry, when (and if) they are ready.

My kids, as with Joel, wanted to speak at a quite young age, so I obliged. But it seemed that I ought to introduce them. After all, when I approached a house with a waist-high child, and it was the child that did the talking,  I always imagined the householder looking at me as if to say "you dumb lug....why don't you say something?" And frankly, you'd want to screen householders.  Not all are the warm fuzzy kind that you'd want to feed your kids. So I'd say something like: "Hi, I'm Tom Sheepandgoats. I've got my boy with me, Georgie. We take turns talking's his turn." That was my son's cue. As long as he was willing and able to handle matters, I would stay silent. The householder might listen to him, but answer me, and I'd say "'s his turn." All this within the bounds of common sense, of course. In most cases, towards the end, I would chime in somehow. As the kids got older and more capable, they got tired of being introduced, it became unnecessary, and I chimed in less and less.

My kids are grown and gone now. I just got done working with Jakie, a 6 year old. Someone else's son, it seems to me he was bashful at age 4. He sure isn't now. Distributing invitations for the upcoming district convention, he would have none of "being introduced." So I said he could introduce me! Either that, or just take the door himself. He did every door, except 3 or 4 that were a little awkward, and so I took them. In some cases I'd tell the householder "I'm far too bashful to talk to you right here at your door, so I brought my buddy here to speak for me!" He did just fine. Most youngsters do when they can go at their own pace.


"Is that your son?" the homeowner asked Dave McClure, our old circuit overseer, about a youngster he was working with. "Nope," he replied. "But if it was, I'd be proud of him."




Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

In Defense of Shunning

When my pal Keith, became interested in Jehovah's Witnesses, he thought he'd test them out. So he thought up a series of questions and posed them to someone in the local congregation. Why does God permit this, what is He going to do about that, what happens at such-and-such, why do you say this is true and that is not true? Those kinds of questions.

Noting the answers, he went across town to another congregation, and posed the same questions. He got the same answers. He traveled cross-state a few weeks later to visit family. Again, the same questions and the same answers. He came away satisfied that Jehovah's Witnesses really are united in wasn't just talk. In fact, he could have gone anywhere in the world, and discovered the same. Over the years, he has.

"Big deal!" says Tom Barfendogs, not a bit impressed. Of course Witnesses are all in agreement! They disfellowship (shun) anyone who disagrees! Barfendongs runs one of those web sitesthat scours the globe for bad JW reports. If one of our people so much as farts, there's the link on his site. There's a lot of us: 7 to 17 million, depending upon how you count, so he never lacks for links.

But it's a cheap shot he takes on unity "coercion."  Sure, a surgeon has the option of cutting out cancerous cells. Is that the reason the other cells behave?

Still, it's no fun being disfellowshipped,  and Barfendogs would have you believe it can happen at the drop of a pin. Just disagree, that's all you have to do, he says. Almost like that scene from the Gulag Archipelago, in which the party boss makes a speech and gets nonstop applause. On and on it goes. People's hands start turning to mush. Nobody dares be the first one to stop clapping! Bigwigs are watching.

Yet, in fact, it's rather hard to get disfellowshipped on such grounds. You have to take deliberate steps. It doesn't happen by accident. Persistently and publicly challenging the governing agencies of the Christian congregation will do it, and few go so far. (Though the ones that do, accumulate. If you gather them all together, there's a lot of them.) A person can just fade if they're determined to leave. Barfendogs makes it sound as if elders are determined to catch and punish such persons, but that's not the case at all. Disfellowshipping only exists to separate an intractable, opposed person (or one who willfully and persistently violates moral tenets of the faith, but that is not under discussion here) from the congregation. If such a person does it on his/her own accord,  the measure is not necessary, and no one spends times pursuing it. Yes, you may be able to hunt around and find an exception, but in general, the principle holds.

If you're riding on the bus and you don't like where the bus is going, you can get off. Or you can stay on, figuring the driver must know the way. You can scratch your head at the strange scenery...where are we now, anyway?....discuss it with your neighbor, even ask the driver. You don't get tossed off the bus for these things. But if you grab the wheel! yes, that will do it. Or create such a ruckus that throws the bus into turmoil. That too, may land you an invitation to leave and find your own way.

Not all of Jehovah's Witnesses today are 100% behind the program. Many are puzzled over this or that aspect of theocracy and may entertain their own pet ideas of how more of this, less of that, modification of this tactic, and so forth, would be beneficial. Some make suggestions via letter or traveling overseers. There's nothing new, earthshaking, or unnatural about that. There's always been those with both suggestions and doubts, now and in the first century. [Also, continue showing mercy to some that have doubts......Jude 22] In the final analysis, though, we realize that the burden of directing things does not rest with us, but with a non-democratic channel which God has provided. We're not presumptuous. We cooperate as best we can. Both the idea of a central governing agency and the ejection of those who oppose are firmly rooted in scripture, so we play along with it.

The big picture regarding disfellowshipping surely must include the following:

Jehovah's Witnesses enjoy an unparalleled brotherhood and spiritual atmosphere.  If I KNOW that someone is a fellow Witness, I can leave my wallet with that person. And my keys. And if need be, my family. I need not know the person. They can be anywhere in the world. Race, nationality, social & economic standing means nothing to Jehovah's Witnesses, though they effectively divide most people. If war breaks out between respective nations, it has no effect on how resident JWs view ones from the other nation. Same thing for genocides.

This sort of unity makes people suspect if they haven't been there. Isn't it brainwashing? Isn't it Landru? It is neither. The Bible’s analogy is that of the human body, whose members could not be more unlike, yet are able to cooperate seamlessly for the good of the whole body. So it is with Jehovah's Witnesses today. They could not be more unlike in personalities, backgrounds and talents (besides the factors already mentioned) yet they enjoy unshakable unity. God's spirit makes it possible.

We're zealous to safeguard this unity. When a person leaves JW tenets, he begins to lose the thinking that makes such unity possible. Some lose it instantly. More often, it happens over time. But it does happen. This is a significant reason for disfellowshipping, which, as mentioned, a person can usually avoid by “fading.”

Is this to say that there are no decent people among other groups of people, either religious or non-religious? Of course not. People of integrity can be found everywhere. But are there groups where mere membership in that group virtually guarantees such integrity? No. You might come up with one or two arguable exceptions, but in general, no.

There is a price for such unity. I don't think its overly steep, but it does exist. It is the willingness to yield to authority, the willingness to not put our own personal freedoms above all else, the willingness to cooperate and not insist on our own view. These days Western nations have proved totally incapable of this. It probably accounts, in large measure, for the fact that Eastern countries, India, even parts of South America, are running rings around the West growth wise. They have not lost the ability to respect authority (granted, sometimes with little choice) and cooperate, whereas all we can do is bitch and whine and sue each other.


Ah! Here is a last minute news item from today's paper that reinforces the paragraph above:

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao just made some unflattering observations on American workers (and got accused of racism for her frankness). "They need anger-management and conflict resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction. Too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something."

Pschologist Jean Twenge chimes in that today's young people are all about "focus on the self and doing what's right for you rather than following social rules or rules of the society."

That sort of says it all, doesn't it?


For men will be lovers of themselves.....self-assuming, haughty....not open to any agreement....headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures                       2 Tim 3:2-4

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

We Love Our Kids and are Crying

There were nine of them. They were best of friends. They were all girls. They were all graduates - class of 2007, Fairport.

Before going their separate ways for the summer, and then off to this or that college, they'd planned this one last outing. One of the girls' parents had a cottage on Keuka Lake. A great place to lounge and relax and swim and sunbathe for a day or two. They traveled in two cars; five in the first and four in the second.

Was it the vehicle? Was it speed? Was it inexperience? Was it distraction? The lead car swung into the oncoming traffic lane to pass a slower vehicle. That done, it swung back to its own lane. Then - for whatever reason - it swerved again into the oncoming lane, and smashed head on into an oncoming tractor-trailer. Both vehicles exploded and the flames reached 50 feet, burning through cable and telephone lines. The second car stopped at once, but no one could get near for the heat. They could only watch.

As word of the 10 PM crash spread, nearly 100 classmates and family gathered at Fairport High School. David Paddock, the school principal said they watched the sun rise together. "The sun came up," he said. "I'm not sure we all thought it would." The next night several hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil. "It's a community nightmare....I'm personally devastated," Paddock said. "Our hearts are broken. We love our kids and are crying." Several thousand attended weekend calling hours at the school gym (four of the five had been cheerleaders).

By chance, Governor Eliot Spitzer was in town to chew out state senators for skipping out of Albany for the summer, leaving important work undone. But the local senator, Senator Alesi, would not be chewed out. He cited the tragedy: "I think it would be insensitive to get embroiled in petty partisan politics at this point." Spitzer had beat him to it, however, condolence-wise: "We are suffering with the emotional agony of the tragedy of the students. It just does make your blood run cold. It makes you appreciate every day you have with your children. Our condolences go out to families and those who are touched by this — our hearts go out to all who are touched by this."

Stories and follow-up stories ran for days and days and aren't done yet. The local paper questioned why the vehicles should have erupted in flames; maybe they should have been designed better. Had they been, and had passengers been belted, maybe some would have survived. This, at a combined head-on crash speed of 120 MPH!

Bloggers blogged for days, just like I'm doing now. "Why did God have to take our girls?" one person asked. "We needed these angels here on earth!" And somewhere, without a doubt, some dopey preacher was offering exactly the same obscene "comfort": God was "picking flowers,"and He needed the best.


Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'