Alan Greenspan and the Financial Black Hole
Liars, Idiots, and Humble Persons

Show Me Your Oddballs

When Paul arrived in Rome to plead his legal case before Caesar, he first met with Jewish leaders. Probably you’ve heard about me, he said. I’ve been in the news back home [his presence in Jerusalem’s temple had sparked a riot]……

the Jews from Asia on beholding him in the temple began to throw all the crowd into confusion, and they laid their hands upon him, crying out: “Men of Israel, help! This is the man that teaches everybody everywhere against the people and the Law and this place and, what is more, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”…..And the whole city was set in an uproar, and a running together of the people occurred; and they laid hold of Paul and dragged him outside the temple. And immediately the doors were closed. And while they were seeking to kill him, information came up to the commander of the band that all Jerusalem was in confusion; and he at once took soldiers and army officers and ran down to them.     Acts 21:27-32

….I’m also under arrest, which might cause you concern. So I thought I’d stop by and explain myself and answer any questions you may have.

But Rome is a long ways from Jerusalem. The Jews there hadn’t heard a thing about Paul. They sure knew about what he represented, though:

They said to him: “Neither have we received letters concerning you from Judea, nor has anyone of the brothers that has arrived reported or spoken anything wicked about you. But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against."   Acts 28:21-22

That’s about the best Jehovah’s Witnesses can hope for today. It’s a given that the Christian faith will be “everywhere spoken against,” but as for us personally, no letters will have been received nor does anyone have anything wicked to say about us [ideally]. When you strive to apply Bible principles in your life, as JWs do, over time it makes you a better person.

However, people don’t all have the same start in life. Health varies, physical and mental. So does inherited disposition. Some folk are smarter than others. Or calmer. Or sturdier. How you were brought up as a kid may have helped or handicapped you. So you have to look at people in terms of how far they’ve come, not just where they are now.

It’s difficult to quantify the term “oddball” or determine just how pejorative the word should be. Worldwide, prisons are loaded up with murderous and conniving thugs, yet most of them would not be categorized as “oddballs.” Violence and slickness are enshrined values today…..these hapless jailbirds went too far, that’s all, they stepped over the line, but the direction itself is not out of harmony with contemporary values. In contrast, we may have some “oddballs,” yet they wouldn’t harm a fly.

I’ve even heard the charge made that Jehovah’s Witnesses suffer mental illness in greater proportion than general society. But I’m not sure how accurate that is. Isn’t it just a charge that soreheads make who don’t like us ("everywhere spoken against," like they said to Paul)?  Drive by the psych ward….it's always full....they’re not ALL our people in there. Usually no one at all, occasionally one or two. Besides, an astounding percentage of Americans today are on some sort of prescribed antidepression or mood-altering medication. Are they all mentally ill, or have many just been sold a bill of goods by pharmaceutical companies? Moreover, the world today suffers global warming, terrorism, family breakup, moral disintegration, economic abyss, and so forth. Perhaps the one who readily adjusts to these evils is the one with true mental illness! Isn’t there something wrong with a person who can readily take this stuff in stride, as if it were the most normal thing in the world?

A truly close-knit organization will seem to have more oddballs then one in which people stay at arm’s length. It’s for the same reason that our own extended family members seem odder than people in general. They’re not, of course [usually], it’s just that we know them better.  One way to think you’re living amidst cool people is to not get to know them very well.

But I will grant one point. Christ’s message is of love and hospitality. The demeanor of the Christian congregation reflects that attitude. You can expect troubled persons to be drawn to such an environment. After all, how many groups will readily take them into their midsts? But among Christians they find a welcoming home and, over time, become less odd (though not always).

In fact, perhaps we should make that a test for true Christianity. For any group that claims to follow Christ, we should insist on seeing their oddballs. If they don’t have any....say, if all their people are cool, or if their oddballs are not of truly high calibre, well then I guess that group can’t be true Christians, can they? Odd as it may seem, you have to have oddballs if you're really following Christ.


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'


Ed Hughes

Nearly everyone in this United States should know that if you are different in respect to the average person in a particular locale that you will probably be considered an oddball in that locale. That is what is called life, because no one as a stranger to a group is generally accepted by the group without some suspicion and if you do not act just right you are automatically considered an oddball. One usually has to make their place in a new community in order to be accepted by these folks. The oddballs are the ones that do not fit into what the society they are in prescribes. In a more rigid environment such as I spent most of my working life, the Navy, if you did not conform to the rules you were made to suffer. It was all written down, as you shall do this and you shall not do that. It was all made very clear and enforced on a continuous basis. I found no problem with that but there were those that did, and they were considered oddballs. Jesus Himself was an oddball and suffered for that, but that was all planned out from what I understand and it is still up the air as to which group considered Him to be the oddest; the Jews or the Romans.


tom sheepandgoats

Who did consider him the oddest? A thorn in the side to both, but in different ways and for different reasons, though some from both groups came to follow him.

I read a work of historical fiction long ago called Pontius Pilate. It followed his life as he interacted with various Bible characters. You almost felt sorry for him at the trial of Jesus. He tried hard to release him, but Jewish religious leaders put so much pressure on him that he finally gave in.

Ed Hughes

The Catholic Church teaches those last days of Jesus just about the way you described it and noted how Pontius Pilate had his misgivings but washed his hands as he rid himself of the problem. I spent a couple of years in a Catholic orphanage and was presented with all the facts as concerned with religion, I was only 5 years old and was not Catholic so I could not partake of all the events that the Baptized Catholics did, but I was allowed to listen as the Father said all people of other religions would be unable to follow Jesus to Heaven since they were not Catholic.


Ed Hughes

"Though some from both groups came to follow him" that happens all the time. My previous hero Colin Powell did this!


I am one of those Oddballs , boy am I .
Thx for writing this one Tom.

tom sheepandgoats

"Oddballs" is the term you use when it's someone else. "Pleasingly eccentric" is what you say when it's you.


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