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February 2011
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Hiking Around the World

The District Overseer's going to walk around the earth. He told us so at the Circuit Assembly. He's not going now, of course. He'll go in the new system. Probably well into the new system, not on day one. He'll backpack, I guess. Go with his wife.

He doesn't worry that he may not get the time off. He will. He doesn't worry about problems crossing the border.* There won't be any borders. He doesn't worry about terrorists. They'll be gone. He doesn't even worry about nasty people. There won't be any of those, either. He's counting on Isa 11:6 taking place:

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.    

So he won't get attacked by wolves or leopards or cobras or whatever, abundant and free-roaming though they will be. But he also won't be contending with people with personalities like those of wild beasts. After all, the “knowledge of Jehovah” is not something animals learn about. People do. Even now, there's plenty of people who've swapped animalistic personalities for peaceful ones upon applying Bible principles (and, alas, some who have gone the other way, abandoning faith to revert back to “this life is all there is” mode).

The District Overseer's not worried about money. You won't need any in the new system. (do we really know that?) He's not worried about where to stay. Everyone will be hospitable. He's not worried about much, is he? He's probably not even worried about the weather. This last item he did not specifically mention...I just threw it in...because weather is a big deal for us in Rochester this time of year. This has been a tough winter. But when March 1rst rolls around, it's like how you feel when you've finally called the cops to throw that drunk out of your house. You know he won't go quietly. He'll probably break a lamp or two on the way out. But he'll be gone soon. And so it is with this winter. Before you know it, the Lilac Festival will be here.

I like talks like the District Overseer gave. They're a little childlike, but let's face it, Jehovah's Witnesses have a lot of child in them. We haven't thrown that part of ourselves away. When we first learned of the Bible forever on a paradise resonated deep within us. So it's good to be reminded of that initial thrill from time to time. Otherwise, the aggravations of daily life can squeeze it out.

People nowadays get so cultured and refined and dignified and carry on about their business doings and the least turn of politics, that pretty soon you can hardly stand to be around them. But Jehovah's Witnesses....naw, we're not too sophisticated. We like the idea of walking around the earth in the new system. Not that the pull toward greatness and savvy can't take hold of can. We, too,  can get caught up in the minor skirmishes of business like everyone else, and start to carry on about it, if we don't ground ourselves in what's really important. Probably that's what's behind Jame's advice to certain characters he came across in the congregation:

Come, now, you who say: “Today or tomorrow we will journey to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,” whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing. Instead, you ought to say: “If Jehovah wills, we shall live and also do this or that.    James 4:13-15

(sigh....Torre took this verse very literally, and you couldn't tell him you were doing anything without his correcting you: “IF Jehovah's wills, you will do.….,” he'd point out.)

Paradise earth is a tenet pretty much unique to Jehovah's Witnesses. Everyone else is just passing through, you understand, just doing their time. They're all heaven-bound! Though depending on a church's fundamentalist quotient, some won't quite make it. They end up in hell, burning forever and ever and ever, even though their misdeeds on earth spanned only a few decades! They also tell me of some fundamentalists who attempt to tack on paradise earth sort of as a vague afterthought, since several plain-as-day verses insist upon it. But it doesn't really fit in with their overall view, so the result is a kind of theological mush.

But the JW hope is everlasting life on a paradise earth. That's why the D.O. can carry on about walking the globe and strike a chord with all listening. After all, where, according to the Bible, did God put his human creation? Wasn't it on earth? And why did he put them there? Wasn't it because that's where he wanted them? They'd be there still were it not for an early rebellion. So how is it that God changed tactics somewhere along the line and decided to bring everyone to heaven?

Everyone knows that Jesus, while dying impaled, was flanked by two wrongdoers, one on either side of him. And one said: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” to which he answered: “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:43

Search as you may, you will not find a translation that renders the subject of Luke 23:43 as anything other than “paradise.” (let me know if you find one; I couldn't) However, the Complete Jewish Bible renders the verse: Yeshua said to him, "Yes! I promise that you will be with me today in Gan-`Eden."  That's as in Garden of Eden, as the word Eden itself means (in Hebrew) “park-like garden.” Right! A paradise earth.

As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.  (Ps 115:16)

To be sure, humans today are rapidly “ruining the earth,” but doesn't the Bible point to a time when “God will bring to ruin those ruining the earth?” (Rev 11:18) Once that has taken place, once God's Kingdom rules over the earth, and we all get into swing of things, at that time the D.O's making his trek.

Oh, alright, alright! So there are some who are going to heaven. But in the overall picture for humans, it's but a tiny footnote. I should have a dollar for everyone on the internet who supposes he's found the hidden Achilles heal of Jehovah's Witnesses: “Only 144,000 are going to heaven, yet there's millions of JWs! HA! So that's why they go door to door looking for converts...they're competing with each other, trying to squeeze into a room not large enough for all of them!"  Sheesh!

Look, life on a paradise earth is not second class for us. It's the fulfillment of God's original purpose. But the Bible also speaks of a "sacred secret," (Colossians 1:26) a "secret" first made known to the early Christian congregation, that there would be some from humankind, a comparatively tiny number, who would share in  rulership of the heavenly government. Since this "secret" was made known shortly after Christ's resurrection, and there are only 144,000 of these who will serve as "kings and priests, very few of them are on earth today. Most, we maintain, have long since lived their lives and been resurrected to heavenly life.

Selection of the 144,000 didn't even begin until after Christ's resurrection. That's why Christ is called the “firstfruits” of the "harvest.” He was first. Thus, Matt 11:11 makes sense: “…....among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” When John was alive and active, the heavenly calling had not yet begun.

Ask them what they're going to do there....all those folks you meet who's churches say they're going to heaven. They haven't a clue. But Rev 5:10 says of all those with the heavenly hope: “…...with your [Jesus'] blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth”

Now, not everyone can be a chief, can they? Not everyone can rule. Not everyone can be “inside the beltway.” There have to be some Indians. That's what the D.O. is, and all the rest of us with the earthly hope. And that's why he looks forward to hiking that great future Appalachian trail stretching around the globe.



*like I had returning from Canada.




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'

Playing With Dinosaurs

The kid at work thinks I'm old. He addresses me that way. “Hey, old man!” he says. It's all good-natured fun, or at any rate, I may as well let the little snot think I regard it as good-natured fun. I ask him if he's ever seen Fred Flintstone on TV.

“I knew that guy,” I tell him. “Not real well,” I admit. He was pretty old when I was a kid. He lived down the street, and my folks warned me to stay clear because he would barrel along in that foot-motor car of his...he sort of was a public menace as he got older.” [see Yabbadabba man] I used to play with dinosaurs when I was a kid, too. They were great fun. Downright mean as they got older, but not to you if you'd befriended them when they were small and cuddly. So I always did.

Aging's not so bad, because you can remember a lot of things, and can start to put them all into context. Youngsters don't remember anything different from the here and now. Pop says he did some of his best work at 60, an age I haven't touched yet, though I'm pushing it. (pushing it pretty hard, too) And wasn't it Andy Laguna who said he didn't mind getting older, since with each succeeding year, he found more reasons to be grateful to Jehovah? Hangups that you might have once had sort of resolve themselves as you get older. 'You don't really know anything before age 40,' I tell the kid. 'Oh, you can figure out how to use the toilet, and perhaps change the TV stations,' but real smarts don't kick in till later.

I did some calculating once, and figured that, per the Bible's chronology, a youngster who'd met Adam, when the latter was an old guy, might conceivably, when he himself had grown ancient, speak to the adolescent Noah, long before the latter had attained boat-building fame. It's almost as if one could have know Fred Flintstone back then. It may be two links were actually required between Adam and Noah, but it almost seems that it was just one. Of course, most today think those early biblical lifespans of 800-900 years are but nonsense, but didn't I write here and here how it all sort of hangs together?

If you play with this notion for awhile, you begin to appreciate the coherence that might have developed among human society when one might reasonably speak to, not merely his grandparents, but his great grandparents, and great great grandparents, and great great great grandparents, and so forth for several generations out. You'd get deep roots that way. Whatever prior generations had seen or learned, they almost couldn't help but pass it down.

Today, roots are wafer-thin. We've all seen those studies in which the modern child communicates with a parent a mere minutes per day. And where's the rest of the time spent? It used to be TV, usage of which is still pretty heavy, but is now supplemented by no end of other media options. This might not be so bad if these connected one with something of consequence; one might think the internet could greatly expand people, but you know, and I know, that it connects with pop culture and values entirely from the here and now. You can see it in Wikapedia, a source that Winged Migration Man (where is he, by the way?) looked upon without favor; an item of history runs a few paragraphs, whereas review of a pop TV show runs pages and pages per episode. Is it any wonder that young folks readily accept today's conditions today as normal? They've not been exposed to anything else. There's almost no transference from one generation to the next. Didn't I carry on about it here?

Family mealtime was also once a relaxed setting in which perspectives might flow from one generation to the next. Therefore, some years ago the Watchtower began suggesting that family meals ought not be sacrificed to modern life – families ought to strive to eat at least one together. I was surprised, for I hadn't fully realized the custom had fallen by the wayside. In fact, when I first stuck my toe into “evening witnessing,” I didn't want to start too soon after dinnertime, lest I break up such a family meal. But in time I found that only rarely would that happen, no matter when I started. If it did, I would  apologize and withdraw. Common meals are not really that common, today, even in neighborhoods where you might think they would be. And to think that Torre, from the old country, would not call on folks even during the noon hour, a self-prohibition I thought absurd. But he remembered when even that time was sacred, a time reserved for family and friends.

Times have changed.

Not long ago I was riding with Tom Weedsandwheat. He had to swerve and brake hard so as not to hit some kid who had stepped out right in front of him, headphones on, pants hanging down, skull empty as a beach ball. “There can never be another generation,” he muttered to me. 


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'