John T Gatto and Growth without Educators
Earning Salvation and Playing Chess with God

The Grumbling Slave

"I never thought I'd ever be this old." The circuit overseer was addressing a circuit assembly. He looked at his hands "I didn't think I'd have wrinkles or my hair would turn gray. I thought this present system of things would long have passed, but isn't it fine that many people have come into God's organization over the last decades?" The notion went over well. People clapped.

It doesn't always go over so well, not with everyone. If there's one thing we know about life today, it is that people are restless. In turmoil. Uneasy. Society has broken down in many areas, be it family life, finances, public health and safety, integrity and trust. People are unsettled. And where is the master? Wasn't he supposed to be here by now?

The master, of course, is the one referred to at Matt 24:48-9. Matt 24 and 25 are the apocalyptic chapters of Matthew. They're concerned with the "last days" of human rule on earth. Matt 25:13, for instance, advises Christians to "keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour."

If the day and the hour are out-of-bounds, Jehovah's Witnesses have nonetheless tried to nail the year more than once, most recently in 1975. It's not just them, either. Isaac Newton, the grandpa of science, who wrote more about spiritual matters than math and science combined (to the annoyance of Richard Dawkins, I suspect), decided 2060 was the final year. And even outside Christian circles, didn't the Mayans come up with some date - 2011 - a date rapidly approaching?

And why should people not wonder about such things? Give us a few decades, and we'll all be senile and in diapers. And that amidst an ever-decaying world. Who is so dull as to not be curious about what lies after our 80 years?

We Witnesses learned our "date" lesson for awhile (perhaps) and for some time Armageddon has merely been "soon," even "just around the corner." Armageddon, remember, is not the earth's destruction, but the wiping clean of rebellious society that accompanies Kingdom rule coming to power. Still, that is one heckuva corner.

So some do what Jesus said in 24:48-9:

"But if ever that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know...." and will not be pleased.

The "master" seems to be "delaying," and so some of his slaves start to beat up on the other slaves, apparently the ones not so concerned about timing. . "I was misled! It's  mind control! They're false prophets!" You hear people say such things about the Witness organization.

No question about it. There are older JWs who literally never thought they'd see old age in this system. Because of that, some have found themselves "out of sync" with practical life, sometimes seriously so.  Undeniably - a great inconvenience for anyone in that boat. (though there's the other type of person who adapts to anything - nothing inconveniences them! Ah. I wish I were more like that. Tom Whitepebble, for example, who's never worried a day in his life. His goal, he tells me, is to take his last dime out of the bank two minutes before he has his final heart attack. Then he will die with a smile on his face!)

But some are like the "evil" slave, beating up their fellows. Other slaves, who may also have gone out on a limb, simply suck it up and move on. That is not necessarily easy and some opportunities, when they pass, never return. Life in this system is smoother, certainly more predictable, if you do things in a certain order. But the Christian faith, after all, holds that this is not the "real life."

Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.    1 Tim 6:17-19

Faithful ones can expect to be a bit like Abraham, an alien in a foreign land.

By faith he resided as an alien in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which [city] is God.    Heb 11:9-10

Have some Witnesses been disappointed with aspects of their personal life? Probably. But only in matters relevant to this system of things, which is not the real life. After all, it's not as if a botched end prophesy is the only grounds for disappointment today. This system of things disappoints people all the time. Ask them about that in Iraq.

Are not our times, at least compared with recent centuries, the most materialistic, individualistic, and self-centered ever? That's not to criticize anyone coming under their spell. It's the world we're born into and it permeates our being. It's harder on the younger generation because the backdrop has become more and more pronounced.

When all is said and done, the real question may be the one Jesus raised in Luke 18:8:

"....when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?”

Frankly, you cannot but have great respect for the JW governing organization. They alone are unafraid to go out on a limb. Everyone else hedges their bets. Everyone else covers their rear end. Everyone else tries to have it both ways. They don't.

It's not as if they personally benefit when timing doesn't turn out. They live in dormitories, for crying out loud! Nice dormitories, to be sure. But dormitories, all the same. Should they decide to leave, they don't walk away with a pension or 401K.

Yes, in hindsight, it might be well if dates had never been given. But they're the watchman. Conditions Jesus foretold have long been upon us. So they peer all the harder for details. Mist and fog can mess up a watchman, interfere with his vision. But what good is a watchman who sounds the alarm only when the bow of the approaching ship is scraping your toes?

Son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and you must hear from my mouth speech and you must warn them from me.    Ezek 3:17


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'



Very well done! I enjoyed reading it immensely.

My mother had a close call this weekend with her heart, and she never expected to get to this point in her life. I personally never thought We'd see the 21st century in this system of things. Yet as I watch the world around us deteriorate, I can appreciate why so much time is being allowed to pass.

The legal argument is that mankind does not have the ability nor the right to govern himself. That if man tried, then disasterous consequences would follow. Jehovah must also bring to ruin those ruining the Earth. So allowing man to get to the point where there is no doubt that "no flesh would be saved," gives conclusive proof.

Who in the future could raise the same question when the answer is, "we tried that, and if Jehovah hadn't stepped in, mankind would be extinct?"

It is important to remember that our timescale is limited. 80 years seems a lot longer to us than it is when compared to all of human history, the age of the Earth, or the age of the universe.

Consider: how long did a day seem to you when you were 8? How about now? Try to stretch that out. How long does 100 years seem to us now? How about if we lived for another 800 years? This "delay" since 1914 is not a very long piece of time. It took Adam and Eve longer to have their first child. So we must keep in mind that, although we hope for Armageddon to come soon by our standards, we must also acknowledge that it may come "soon" by a different standard.


I didn’t know your top leadership lived in dormitories! The highest ranks of LDS Church leadership generally live in Salt Lake City apartments, or homes they may have owned long before going into high Church service (I believe our current Church president still lives in the home he and his wife moved into as a honeymoon couple in the 1930’s). I’m not implying any real comparison with this one, but I always found it interesting that Joseph Stalin lived in a small apartment for decades while ruling the Soviet Union.

The LDS Church has generally avoided the pitfalls of predicting an exact date for the end of the world, though ‘the time is near’ rhetoric has always been strong within the movement. Joseph Smith once made a statement that might have implied a second coming in 1891, but that is now mostly taken as being a colorful way of saying he did not expect to live to see that event, i. e ‘the lord said I’ll get to see him come again if I live to be 85’, not a common occurrence in those days, or even statistically today in a global sense. However the ‘prophets’ of many a Mormon splinter group seem to make these predictions quite regularly, resulting in many a disappointed polygamist.


You mentioned that some Witnesses have been disappointed "... but only in matters relevant to this system of things, which is not the real life".

There was a WatchTower article not too long ago that counselled against putting too much emphasis on the New System when conducting Bible studies. This was in reaction to the fact that many people were entering and then leaving the fold - presumably because of "expectation delayed". I couldn't help think that, since most Witnesses are very good at abiding by the Society's guidelines when conducting Bible studies, the real fault lies with the guidance and not with individual publishers.

Nevertheless, I do agree that emphasis should always be on the spiritual relationship with God (which can be enjoyed NOW) and not on the material benefits of the future New System.

tom sheepandgoats

I don't recall the specific counsel, let alone why it was given, let alone the presumed reason why it was given. But the advise seems common-sense enough that I've no doubt it was said, most likely along with a raft of other pointers for conducting studies.


Why does this story sound so familiar? :)

I truly hope that someday you and your family receive forgiveness for your sins. No one is good, no, not one.

tom sheepandgoats

Well....I can use forgiveness for my sins. My family, too, I guess. I'll go along with that. But no more so than anyone and not especially in connection with this post.

As for the familiarity, I know the reason for that. ;) I did indeed lift the circuit overseer's words from your post, and then gave them an application different from yours. The C O's words are all I lifted, and surely they are public domain.

But because I applied them differently, you seem to think I am taking a swipe at you. Maybe if our circumstances were reversed I would feel the same. Maybe I should have given you a 'head's up' For that, I do apologize.

I did not write the post with you in mind and neither said nor implied that you fit the bill. I don't know your circumstances. People change course for any number of reasons. Even where my words may fit someone's case precisely, people are complex, and no one's saying they're the only factor.

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