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Taking a Pass on World War

They buried a WWI soldier back in March. There’s not many of them left. This one, Lazare Ponticelli, was 110 years of age. Yet some things he had never figured out. Like why he had been fighting in the first place. Or why they had, for that matter, his enemy. Of course he must have known the reasons supplied by national leaders, but how did it ever get so human….worldwide slaughter that took the lives of 14 million. “One of the paradoxes of 1914 is that in every country huge numbers of people, of all parties, creeds and blood, seem, surprisingly, to have gone willingly and happily to war,” states British historian John Roberts.

“More than anything, [Ponticelli] was appalled that he had been made to fire on people he didn’t know and to whom he, too, was a stranger. They were fathers of children. He had no quarrel with them” (The Economist, 3/22/08, italics mine)

Hermann Goering, the German Air Force leader from the next World War understood these things quite well:

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." (italics mine again)

Don’t think it’s easy to resist the "leaders of the country who determine the policy." It is these who form the backdrop of popular thinking, the unconscious elements that everyone draws from. That’s why today’s new age “follow your inner voice” philosophy is such nonsense. It works great when times are easy and fails utterly when they are hard. Nationalism has proven more than equal to the task of molding one’s “inner voice.”

In God’s new system of things on earth, when war is no more, I would worry about anyone who has shown in this system that he will blow my head off if some “leader” tells him to. Surely that was among the factors that attracted me to Jehovah’s Witnesses: their track record showed that they could not be pushed around by leaders.

In Nazi Germany their refusal to support Hitler’s totalitarian efforts led to incarceration for all that the tyrant could lay hands on. It’s well known that Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the first consigned to concentration camps, preceding the far more numerous Jews. It’s also well known that once in the camps, they were the only inmates with opportunity to get themselves out; Nazi policy was that if they renounced their faith and pledged allegiance to the regime they could go free. Only a handful took advantage of the offer.

Pressure to resist war fever was also no cakewalk in America either, especially so since perception was, and still is, that this was a necessary war, a righteous war even, and……well, what was wrong with anyone who would not rise to the occasion? But Jehovah’s Witnesses think of themselves as almost a nation unto themselves, and their first loyalty is to God, Jehovah. If German JWs had not contributed to the bloodbath, why should American JWs do so? In contrast, an American Lutheran, say, might feel obliged to go to war, since German Lutherans readily put nation before God.

The overwhelming majority of all Germans in that era were of two Christian faiths: Lutheran and Catholic. If even one of those faiths had stood up to Hitler as did Jehovah’s Witnesses, might WWII have been averted, with its 60 million or so casualties? (And critics rail against us for our blood transfusion stand, which at most has contributed toward a few hundred deaths) Is this what Revelation 18:24 means when it blames Babylon the Great, that conglomeration of unfaithful religion, for not only the blood of the prophets and the “holy ones,” but for "all those who have been slaughtered on the earth?" The slain "prophets" and "holy ones" are acts of commission, but the far more numerous third group represent a staggering act of omission…..the failure to train members in ways of peace. Jehovah’s Witnesses proved it could be done back then. They prove it yet today

Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.   Rev 18:24


More on Neutrality here    

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'

New Scientist and Life Threatening Blood Transfusions

When you’re talking medicine with someone who doesn’t care for Jehovah’s Witnesses, you’ll find that blood transfusion is always linked with life-saving. There are no exceptions. The noun and adjective must never be separated. At least, not until recently.

For at long last, the link is starting to crumble. The correct coupling, still emerging, is life-threatening blood transfusions. Not among JW detractors, of course, who will still be chanting "life saving blood transfusions" as they are lowered into their graves. But among those who actually know anything, matters are changing fast.

It's the only conclusion you can reach upon reading the April 26, 2008 New Scientist magazine. Entitled An Act of Faith in the Operating Room, an article reviews study after study after study and concludes that for all but the most catastrophic cases, blood transfusions harm more than they help. Says Gavin Murphy, a cardiac surgion at the Bristol Heart Institute in the UK: “There is virtually no high-quality study in surgery, or intensive or acute care - outside of when you are bleeding to death - that shows that blood transfusion is beneficial, and many that show it is bad for you.” Difficulties stem from blood‘s deteriorating in even brief storage, from its assault on the immune system, and from its impaired ability to deliver oxygen. (Risk of blood bourne diseases is no longer seen as a major factor) In short, the “act of faith” refered to is not withholding a blood transfusion. It is giving one.

One study cited is from the journal Circulation, vol 116, p 2544: "For almost 9000 patients who had heart surgery in the UK between 1996 and 2003, receiving a red cell transfusion was associated with three times the risk of dying in the following year and an almost six fold risk of dying within 30 days of surgery compared with not receiving one. Transfusions were also associated with more infections and higher incidences of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure - complications usually linked to a lack of oxygen in body tissues."




Once before I ventured into the blogosphere here, here, hereand herewith similar thoughts and I count myself lucky to have escaped with my life:

“You are welcome to your belief that blood is a dangerous substance that God wants you to avoid,” said Calli. “But please, don't claim that you are doing so out of reason.”

“In the USA we have the inalienable right to be idiots, as long as it doesn't hurt someone else," instructed Chemgeek.

From Student B:   “Refusing a life saving blood transfusion (which hasn't even any side effects) is clearly insane if the refusal is just because of the blood transfusion itself. “

Greg:  Why is this crazy religion not a form of mental incompetence?

Justin:  My take on the matter is that ultimately anyone who subscribes to the no-blood doctrine has been brainwashed, and is not fit to make decisions for themselves on this basis.

And you should have heard them when I mentioned Dr. Bruce Speiss. They went positively apoplectic when he dared to use the R-word: "So it's just largely been a belief system-- almost a religion, if you will-- that if you give a unit of blood, patients will get better" Close to crank-dom, they said! Can't the idiot tell correlation from causation? Isn’t he the fellow selling cherry Kool-Aid as a blood substitute? I bet he’s a Jehovah Witness fruitcake like you. And check out his “study.” Only seven persons! Probably all his buddies. And didn't he buy his medical degree online?

But now it turns out that everything Dr. Speiss said was correct…..yes, even the religion part. Says New Scientist: “At first glance it seems astonishing that a technique used so widely for so long could be doing such harm. Yet many surgeons have proved reluctant to submit their methods to systematic study…….[Their] assumptions went untested for the better part of a century” (italics mine)

And you should have seen these guys carry on when I suggested that the medical community would one day owe a debt to Jehovah’s Witnesses for setting them on the right track, urging the development of bloodless medicine. Scientists invented bloodless medicine all by themselves, they shrieked, guided only by their Scientific Method…..climbing ever upward and onward….fearlessly pushing the bounds of human knowledge….all to the glorification of Science and Truth….and so forth. They don’t give two hoots about your pissy little religion!!

But in fact, some of them do. “[Bloodless surgery] was originally developed to enable Jehovah’s Witnesses, who shun transfusions, to undergo major surgery“ states the article and then considers some of its advantages. Indeed, New Scientist opens with scripture: “'For the life of the flesh is in the blood. No soul of you shall eat blood.’ So says the Bible’s book of Leviticus, and it is for this reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses shun blood transfusions” Perhaps, the magazine suggests, all persons should be treated as Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Now, I don't want to gloat over this development…. I really don't…. Really and truly…. Honestly.

On the other hand.....

C'mon!….you would too if you were in my shoes! For decades, we Witnesses were the ignorant slaves of superstition. Transfusion proponents, on the other hand, were the all-wise devotees of modern medical science. What right had we to not to do as we were told? I’ve known three persons in my lifetime who were told, point blank and without the slightest empathy, that they would die if they did not consent to a blood transfusion. None of these three consented. None died. Jehovah's Witnesses don't smoke, they don't do drugs, they don't drink to excess - all factors whose health-risks far outweigh anything having to do with transfusions. They are entirely cooperative with all aspects of medical care, barring only one. If you're not fixated on just that one item, you couldn't ask for better patients.

These findings, so new to the medical establishment, are not new to us. We’ve been accumulating them for years, trying to share them with doctors, usually being rebuffed, all the while with the media whipping folks into near hysteria. All we ever wanted was that our own religious conscience be respected, that medical people would not huff it's my way or the highway! and run roughshod over our stand. Treat it as an allergy ruling out the favored treatment, if you must, and do the best you can under those circumstances. Decades ago Jehovah’s Witnesses formed Hospital Information Service committees from local volunteers and sent them into medical establishments to keep them informed on the latest advances in bloodless medicine. Believe me, it was not easy. Constantly we had to contend with “and what medical school did you get your degree from?” But it has paid off. Here and there, fearless doctors have acknowledged our point of view, and have worked to accommodate it. We are most grateful to these medical pioneers, who usually had to withstand much pressure from their own peers.

Did the New Scientist article declare blood transfusions inadvisable in all circumstances? No. It is still thought to be the best option in cases of severe anemia and catastrophic blood loss. But I suspect these views, too, will change. After all, if blood threatens harm to a healthy person, can it really be the treatment of choice for a critically ill one? Surely something from the field of bloodless medicine will emerge as superior, if it hasn’t already.

Incidentally, blood banks apparently plan no changes at present. "If all blood had to be used within two weeks, it would cause a major inventory problem," says James Isbister, an adviser to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Right. Just like that time I bought a basket of spoiled fruit and spent the week in the bathroom with diarrhea. I wasn’t upset. I realized it was my duty to grin and bear it. I didn’t want to screw up their inventory.


[EDIT: 3/13/10] Now the U.S Army is being trained in the bloodless techniques first developed to serve Jehovah's Witnesses. The new training will save both lives and money, says a spokesman. Thanks to Lekozza for latching onto this item.


More here


******  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'

They Will Come as Sheep in Llama's Clothing

Since I started blogging, I've received many comments saying that, in spite of my name Sheepandgoats, the animals in my profile picture are not sheep and goats. I've paid no heed. Surely those comments were submitted by religious cranks intent on making me trouble or otherwise distracting me from my Mission.

However, this year for Ground Hog Day, my wife gave me the handsome coffee table book All About Animals. I thumbed through the pictures and… golly, they were right! Those animals are not sheep and goats. They are creatures from South America called llamas.

From Wikipedia

The llama (Lama glama) is a South American camelid, widely used as a pack animal by the Incas[1] and other natives of the Andes mountains. In South America llamas are still used as beasts of burden, as well as for the production of fiber and meat.[2]
The height of a full-grown, full-size llama is between 5.5 feet (1.6 meters) to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall at the top of the head. They can weigh between approximately 280 pounds (127 kilograms) and 450 pounds (204 kilograms). At birth, a baby llama (called a cria) can weigh between 20 pounds (9 kilograms) to 30 pounds (14 kilograms). Llamas are very social animals and like to live with other llamas as a herd. Overall, the fiber produced by a llama is very soft and is naturally lanolin free. Very intelligent, llamas learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. When using a pack, llamas can carry about 25% - 30% of their body weight for several miles.[3]
Llamas originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America and Asia about 3 million years ago. By the end of the last ice-age (10,000 - 12,000 years ago) camelids were extinct in North America.[3] As of 2007, there were over 7 million llamas and alpacas in South America and due to importation from South America in the late 20th century there are now over 100,000 llamas and 6,500 - 7,000 alpacas in the US and Canada.[4]

Here: (not via Wikipedia) are pictures of actual llamas.

2_llama 1_llama

Now be honest. Mine look more handsome, don’t they?

How should I rectify this error? Of course, I could just flat out apologize, but….you know, I hate to admit being wrong. Moreover, might not an apology trigger lawsuits from readers outraged at being deceived so long? Be assured I did much soul-searching. In the end, stickler for accuracy that I am, honest conscience won out.

There! I’ve made a clean breast of things. Nobody can say I haven’t. And as an added bonus, for any misled readers who now have no idea what sheep and goats really look like, I found a site with lots of informative pictures. It is (not surprisingly)

The people involved with this site appear fine and upright and have no connection with me. I notice that they sell sheep and goats. For the sake of authenticity and to prove to all that I am not a charlatan, I ought to buy one of each. Trouble is, I've grown attached to these llamas and I'm not sure they would get along. Winged Migration Man told me llamas can be "ornery."


Alright,'s a lighthearted post. I admit it. But the atmosphere is lighthearted these days. It’s Lilac Festivalhere in Rochester. I've tentatively put the snow shovel away. Spring has pounced upon us emphatically. And I am about to take a stroll through the lilacs with the lovely Mrs. Sheepandgoats.  How can a person not be lighthearted about such things?

So far music highlights at the festival include Donna the Buffalo(another animal!....I like this group already), a backwoodsy Appalachian band with huge energy that had everyone bouncing. The female vocalist plays every sort of hillybilly instrument under the sun.....she must be Donna, you can't help but think. But no, their website tells us....the band just has a thing for Appalachia and buffalos. Here and there in the crowd you'd spot people in DtB sweatshirts: a goofy cavedrawing of a buffalo on the front, "herd of em?" on the back.

Earlier in the program was a young woman just now finding notice, Alyssa Coco, still in high school [!], who appeared with keyboard and three backup musicians, including a drummer so immersed in his material I could only think of a bobblehead. Mrs. Sheepandgoats liked her music, so I bought my wife a CD. I think it was the singer's mom at the CD table. That's fine at Lilac Festival, which is family oriented. You couldn't do it at the Water Street Music Hall.


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'

Pedophiles, Priests, and Jehovah's Witnesses

People thought he’d sweep it under the rug. After all, he’s not supposed to be a touchy feely guy. Don’t they call him “God’s Rottweiler?” And the sordid mess didn’t even happen on his watch….why should he take the heat?

Instead, Pope Benedict tackled it head-on. While still en route for his April 2008 U.S.A. visit, he told reporters he was deeply ashamed for all the pedophile priests. ''It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission ... I am deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future…..We will do everything possible to heal this wound.''

It was a true Oprah moment, the time that Americans love best. A rending apology [preferably with tears] from the top guy. Now, at last, Americans can “put it behind us,” “come together,” and “move on.” They love to do all these things….but only after Oprah moments…..and perhaps not so readily in matters involving religion, which is under the looking glass today.

Benedict won the highest praise that can be bestowed upon anyone in this country: "Basically, he seems like a nice guy, said John Allen Jr., a senior correspondent with the National Catholic Reporter. The man whose Jehovah’s Witness cousin remembers as a “naughty boy,” who was “everywhere he shouldn't [have] been….when I think today of what we did, it's a wonder that [we are] alive," was, at age 81, in the eyes of American Catholics, at exactly the right place at the right time. A childhood prankster no more.


For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest, neither anything carefully concealed that will never become known and never come into the open.    Luke 8:17


Twenty years ago could anybody have foreseen the upcoming child sex abuse scandal among priests? Who would have imagined such a thing? Yet, a 2003 report from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice concluded that .2% of all U.S. priests had been proven abusers…..less than the popular imagination has it, no doubt, but still one heck of a lot of priests, considering the influence each has (4% of all priests have been accused, but not proven). Heightening the furor was the revelation that church authorities knew about the perversion, but did little to stop it. Instead, accused priests were transferred parish to parish, sometimes with brief periods of counseling. In the new parish they’d carry on as before, among a new batch of unsuspecting children.

But the real shocker for me was the accusation, several years later, that Jehovah’s Witnesses, too, harbored pedophiles! Nobody wants to be accused of that, and nothing in my 20 year experience with the faith gave credence to the accusation.  Could it possibly be true, or was it just dreamt up and kept alive by soreheads upset with JWs for other reasons? You wanted to flat out deny that such things could ever happen among our people. Unfortunately, we are people, and one can’t quite go that far.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last 30 years, it’s that child sexual abuse is rampant in society, eclipsing anything anyone could have envisioned. Everywhere kids are, sexual abuse exists. Scouting organizations. Schools. Neighbors. All the time we read of respected persons in the community, even leaders of various sorts, caught with computers bursting with child-porn. Child molesters especially abound in the extended family and the step-family. It’s a sick world, as the slightest glance at the newspaper ought to daily convince anyone. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t claim to be immune to perverse influences. In general, though, applying Christian teachings equip us to resist those influences to a greater degree than run of the mill society.

In the United States there are currently 80,000+ elders serving in over 12,000 congregations. In the past 100 years, only eleven of them have been sued for child abuse in thirteen lawsuits. In seven of those lawsuits, accusations against the Watchtower Society itself were dismissed by the courts. Is this to say no other lawsuits have been filed naming Jehovah’s Witnesses? No. But it’s this figure that must be used if one wishes to compare their organization with large churches in which pedophilia has been shown to be rampant among the clergy. It’s plain that there is no comparison.

Doubtless, additional lawsuits have involved ministerial servants, roughly the equivalent of deacons. All remaining lawsuits pertain to congregation members or their family, not “clergy,” and the lawsuits attempt to hold the parent organization accountable. No other religious organization, to my knowledge, has been subjected to the same scrutiny. Most of these case also have been dismissed. Some appear to be largely efforts to malign the Watchtower organization. This one, for example. Some cases, however, have been settled. Even one instance is shameful, make no mistake. But in an organization of several million people you will find many instances of almost anything.

Some of the criticism stems from a policy which you would think would be a good thing. Jehovah’s Witnesses police themselves. Elders in every congregation are prepared to hear disputes among congregation members that they themselves have not been able to resolve. They also hear allegations of wrongdoing and are authorized to impose various forms of discipline up to, and including expulsion from the congregation. “Church discipline” used to be practiced by many organizations….it is not unique to us. Many decades ago, however, church members tired of being disciplined, so most churches gave it up. Not so Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, critics contend that makes them “insular.”

In such a climate, a case of child sexual abuse might be brought before local elders, instead of secular authorities, and the elders might be stymied by the matter being one person’s word against another… are they to know which party is truthful? The secular authorities would have been stymied by the same thing until very recently… any contest between a child and an adult, the adult’s word was generally accepted, and children were hushed up, even by parents too shocked to consider the implications of sexual abuse. But within a few short years, child sexual abuse captured popular attention. It jumped from something you never heard about to something you heard about constantly. Surely people my age remember how sudden was the change of consciousness. “One person’s word against another” was no longer enough……after all, how likely were there to be witnesses? Ones accused of molestation were suddenly confronted with those who specialized in the field, who probed thoroughly, and who often came up with corroborating evidence.

Might there have been real victims who went to congregation elders, rather than police, who later regretted not doing it the other way around? It's possible. Some have claimed those circumstances and have became embittered….it’s not too hard to understand. Others who don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses for philosophical and other reasons take up the complaints as if they were their own. Most states have laws now decreeing that any allegation of sexual abuse be reported to the police. Congregation elders comply with these laws, but in the early days such laws did not exist, and people did the best they could based on current, not later, thinking.

                                        From the blogs:


The written policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that a known child molester convicted may never be appointed to any position of oversight in any congregation. In this country, many states require that allegations of child sexual abuse be reported to police. Elders comply with this law. However, in addition to whatever consequences may come from police involvement, committees within the congregation themselves investigate. Penalties within the congregation can range up to disfellowshjpping (shunning). I’m not sure what more can be done to demonstrate seriousness on this issue. It is more than most religions do. You can’t shoot abusers.

“The policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that a known child molester convicted may never be appointed to any position of oversight in any congregation.”

That’s all?! Shunning–at least! He should never be allowed near your church again and in any country he should be reported to the police! The right thing is to denounce all such behavior sharply! Otherwise people are unaware of his tendencies and he victimizes someone else. (Which is what the school systems have been doing with molesting teachers, in many places, I’m sorry to say–just getting rid of them and not telling anyone and he or she goes elsewhere and starts over there. With the same behavior.)

“Shunning–at least! He should never be allowed near your church again and in any country he should be reported to the police! The right thing is to denounce all such behavior sharply!”…..Isn’t that what I just said? Shunning-yes, it happens. (and who else takes such measures?) And reporting to the police - yes, it happens. After which the full might of the law is thrown at such a person. About 20 years ago, police notification began to be required for all allegations of child sexual abuse from anyone in position to learn of it….health workers, school personnel, clergy. Without police involvement it was feared that such conduct might be too easily swept under the rug. If the law is notified and fails to convict, it is slander to publicly label a person as a child molester. But in the congregation (the only place our words have any meaning) you can still warn persons so they are protected.

"He should never be allowed near your church again." As you know, you legally cannot do that with any public place. What you can do is warn persons. Isn’t that among the effects of shunning? Depending on circumstances such ones may be publicly reproved. Again, it’s a policy that serves to notify all of the need for caution around such ones.

But I repeat, this conduct is very unusual among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yes, if you scour the globe and bring all allegations together in one place - both substantiated and unsubstantiated, ranging from rape to touching a child’s knee - not just per annum, but all cases that have ever existed down through the years - yes, if you do all that, they accumulate, I grant you. But the broad picture is that child abuse is exceedingly uncommon among our people when compared to the world at large.


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'