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What the #@%! is Next?

Can you really put a smiley face on the world, with but a little tweaking, or even none at all? I wouldn't think so, but there are plenty who disagree.  Sometimes, trying to make me mad, they scour Watchtower publications for pictures of Armeggedon, and post them on their websites. Jehovah's Witnesses are mean, they charge. Look how they print such pictures, traumatizing the little children! What is armeggedon cover Many of these grousers, amazingly, are ex-Witnesses, who have tired of organized cooperation with a Bible educational work. These have reassessed their former view that today's world merits God's disapproval, instead concluding that it's a nifty place to find fulfillment.

 

Typifying this view, here's a comparative religion website accusing the Watchtower Society of "maintain[ing] a state of high anxiety in their membership by stressing the imminence of the end." We would not have phrased things this way.  Instead, we would say that recognition of where we are in the stream of time goes a long way to allay anxiety. It's as though these web writers think all is just peachy worldwide and everyone would know it were it not for JWs fouling the air with their “high anxiety.”


Well, two can play at that game. Take a look at Newsweek's cover for March 28, 2011:Newsweek cover apoclayse

“Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Nuclear Meltdowns, Revolutions, Economies on the Brink!” No anxiety here, is there? I tell you, for anyone with a memory, it's absolutely amazing to see such despairing words on the cover of a national magazine. Surely Newsweek, representing the world's collective wisdom, has some reassuring words for the children? Ah...yes, here it is, just below the list of calamities: They say “What the #@%! is next?!”

And to think that my 7th grade social studies teacher had us all subscribe to Newsweek, on the premise we would thereby become well-informed. Was I anticipating future covers of that magazine when I began my World News Oral Report with the words “What the #@%! is next?” and spent the rest of the semester writing “I will not swear” on the chalkboard? As adults of this system have failed the children in so many ways....in morals, in education, in personal and group and financial security, they now fail them even in reassuring rhetoric. “What the #@%! is next?” is the best they can manage. Why not further say: “We haven't a clue, kids. We've screwed things up in every way.”

For that matter, why not say “Jehovah's Witnesses are Right?” For Jehovah's Witnesses have been saying for decades that the present system of things is doomed to extinction, to be replaced by God's Kingdom. Everyone else says or hopes that God will somehow bless the present hash of human governments, so as to collectively bring us all a happy future. Well who doesn't want a happy future? But a happy future is not something humans can provide. It comes only under God's Kingdom. No human has the slightest role in bringing that Kingdom about. God himself does that. But we can position ourselves to benefit from it. That is the long-standing message of Jehovah's Witnesses, coupled with an invitation to study the Bible itself.

Hey, it's not been an easy job. It still isn't. “Aw, go soak your head,” people tell us. “What a bunch of alarmists! We've always had bad things happening!” I can hear the refrain now.  Naturally, the Bible reader thinks of 2 Peter 3:3,4:

First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they'll mock, "So what's happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything's going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing's changed."   (the paraphrased Message translation; it may not be literal, but it sure is fresh)

Well....we sure haven't always had magazine covers like this one of Newsweek's! It's as if the editors are collectively throwing up their hands and crying “Sheesh! Everything humans touch turns to shit!” (Normally I would never use such unsavory words as “shit,” but I am unwholesomely influenced by Newsweek's #@%! It really is true that “bad associations spoils useful habits.)

The only time I said “What the #@%! is next?” was when I saw the price of the magazine. $5.95! Weren't these things under a dollar when I was a kid? With more pages? And better written, not dumbed down like it is today? I know, I know, it's unfair to be critical of a mass publication for “dumbing down.” The Watchtower is dumbed down, too. We all know it. As the world's education system steadily goes down the toilet, so do collective reading skills. If you want to reach a broad audience, simple writing is the way you have to go, however painful it may be for guys who cherish reading. But there's hardly any need to rub it in: Note above the Newsweek banner is the byline for another story: “How Ignorant are You?” Am I being too sensitive when I read between the lines: “We're not ignorant.....you are!”?)
 
To be faithful to the Bible, you need to talk about things not so pleasant. You just do. And destruction of “the ungodly” is not so pleasant. Nobody says otherwise. The only caveat.....and it's a significant one....is that a person can be saved from it by adhering to divine direction. Isn't that, when push comes to shove, a good thing?

Now....see if you can spot the spurious words I've cleverly inserted in the following passage: Revelation 6:12-17 (Message Translation, again) in which John prophesies

“…..a bone-jarring earthquake, sun turned black as ink, moon all bloody, stars falling out of the sky like figs shaken from a tree in a high wind, sky snapped shut like a book, islands and mountains sliding this way and that. And then pandemonium, everyone and his dog running for cover—kings, princes, generals, rich and strong, along with every commoner, slave or free. They hid in mountain caves and rocky dens, calling out to mountains and rocks, “What the #@%! is next?”

There. Did you spot it? What they actually cry is "Refuge! Hide us from the One Seated on the Throne and the wrath of the Lamb! The great Day of their wrath has come—who can stand it." But I try to keep up with contemporary jargon per Newsweek.

Or, what about the words of Jesus:

The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling to the mountains, “What the #@%! is next?”  Luke 23:29-30

Nope. What they actually call to the mountains is “Fall down on us! Cover us up!”

We take a lot of flak for adhering to the Bible's teaching of Armageddon, great tribulation, destruction of the wicked, paradise earth under Kingdom reign, and so forth. Jehovah's Witnesses are a serious religion that doesn't hedge its bets. We're not all over the board. We unabashedly hold to key Bible tenets, no matter if they find scorn elsewhere. For, to be sure, if you don't think God will call “the ungodly” to account, if you don't think God will one day intervene dramatically in world events, then Jehovah's Witnesses and all that they represent are ridiculous, a perfect target for derision. It all depends upon where you're coming from.

But pertaining to Armageddon.... look, I don't know just who will and who will not go down at that time. Nobody does. Can you be some distance from theocratic provisions or not one inch? Dunno. But why not stay in a known place of safety and take part in a work in which it is good to take part in any event, simply on the basis of Rev 4:11?

“You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”

God created all things. The massive experiment of human self-rule is turning out exactly as he said it would. He deserves our service.

Is it coincidence? In the same month Newsweek throws up its hands in mass despair, Jehovah's Witnesses intensify their ministry as never before.  Here in Rochester, most congregations have 50-80% or more of members in some form of “pioneer service,” volunteering 30-50 hours of their time in Bible teaching. As they visit neighbors, they don't say “What the #@%! is next?” Instead, they point out today's disintegration is all foretold, and is a precursor to God fulfilling his promise to bring peace and paradise on earth through his kingdom.

We like verses like the following one in Psalms. We think they're soon to come true. And we don't just sit on the information, we do our best to tell others so they can benefit too:

And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.   Ps 37:10-11

Does not this Psalm recall Jesus' words “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” They certainly haven't to date. But Jehovah's Witnesses believe this promise is soon to be fulfilled, and they invite others to examine the evidence.

See here, here, here, and here.

 

[EDIT....58% was the figure of those in some sort of full-time service during April, so reported our C.O. recently. (figures in your circuit may vary)]

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San Diego

Just north of San Diego, they built a children's beach. It was for the children. The kids needed a beach, don't you see. They didn't get one, though. They were evicted. By sea lions!

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Now, I can think of scores of examples where animals are displaced by people, but how often is it the other way around? It's sort of refreshing, isn't it? The children and seals competed for a time, but the cove's protected nature....rocky cliffs on one side of the beach, manmade seawall on the other....well, word just spread among sea lions...you know how they are....and they came in such numbers so as to drive the children away.  When they started to mate and give birth on the beach, practicing unprotected seal sex, it was time to clear the children out 2011 3 27 san diego 066 once and for all! There must have been 120 seals lounging about the day we visited.  See how happy this guy is?

Odd birds keep gliding by as you're strolling the sea wall. Line after line of pelicans on patrol, single file, more or less, each line   undulating up and down with the waves. Graceful from a distance, but as they pass close by, you're struck with their appearance. Heads eerily too big for their body, no neck, extended beak....flying gnomes, seeming to eye you closely, though not turning their heads, as if relaying your position to headquarters.

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Now, you mustn't feel too sorry for the displaced children, here. Or, at least, if you do, don't feel it from the standpoint of physical well-being. This is LaJolla (Spanish for “the Jewel), California. It's among the wealthiest locales in the US. It's beautifully hilly terrain. It's picture perfect weather. Relaxed, seemingly stress-free people. The PGA just finished up the Farmers Insurance Open at the community's Torrey Pines golf course, and Bubba Watson walked off with a million dollar check. Witnessing is a challenge here, I'm told, since folks have their own bit of paradise right here and now, living in their multi-million dollar homes clinging to the hillsides.  I was glad I was visiting with my wife, Mrs Sheepandgoats, and not Tom Pearlsandswine, who would doubtless glower over the scene, just like he did at the Ithaca Earth Museum dinosaur exhibit, grumbling about the “wiles of Satan.”  Here, his brow would darken...I've seen it before....he'd mutter to himself awhile, and finally blurt out something like: “I don't know how it happened! The have pigs escaped from the barn, and they're in the farmer's house!”2011 3 27 san diego 042 
 

Trouble is, I'm not sure I don't agree with him, except for perhaps that unkind remark about 'pigs.' Is it really appropriate to dwell in untouchable luxury when much of the world lives in unspeakable squalor? Isn't one at risk of losing touch that way, not only with less luminary humans, but even with God? From the freewheeling Message translation:

Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little.
If I'm too full, I might get independent, saying, 'God? Who needs him?'  (Prov 30:7-9)

Ah well, that's kind of heady and philosophical, isn't it? It's just too warm and pleasant here to care much. Maybe if I had the dough, I'd be right here with them. Besides, one can always dash off a check for how-many thousands to whatever charitable cause strikes one's fancy.

We drive along Torrey Pines Rd, gawking at the sights, just as out-of-towners do, water on seemingly all sides,  towering hills to the left, mounted by a huge gleaming white cross, and continue to......wait...a huge gleaming white cross? Here in LaJolla? Here?! Where you substitute shopping for church, and Consumer Reports for the Bible? Rio de Janeiro, okay, you'd expect to find a cross there....but La Jolla? How come the atheists haven't pulled it down? Better go up and check. So we turn up one of the side roads, snaking up the mountain, half-expecting to be ordered off by million dollar residents. Not that they're not nice and all. But like all outsiders on unfamiliar winding roads full of splendid vistas, we creep along slowly. You don't want to run over anyone's child. The guidebook says “some of the most expensive real estate in the world”....yeah, it sort of looked that way. Residents familiar with every turn and hairpin twist keep roaring up behind us in Mercedes or Lexus automobiles, obliging us to pull over and let them pass. But we finally reach our destination.

 

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Aha! It's a war memorial. Try as you might, you can't mess with a cross at a war memorial. 2400 black granite plaques surround the cross, each with photos and stories of American servicemen and women. And my Lord! What a view of the surrounding area.

Plus, here's the sign from those frustrated atheists that I figured had to be here. They did try to take that cross down, I 2011 3 27 san diego 159mean, they must have, knowing them and knowing the times we live in, but the task looks impossible for now, so they had to content themselves with a disclaimer. It only remains to put up some stupid counter display of their own, like they did at that Illinois nativity scene.  

Back to real people the next day. We breakfasted in downtown San Diego, on Fifth Street. Cafe 21, a restaurant you must visit should you find yourself in the area. Normally, an omelet is an omelet.2011 3 27 san diego 307  Any orangutang can make one, and it makes no different where you have yours. But here, breakfast had personality. Everything's unique. The owners hail from Azerbaijan, a map thereof appears on the menu, and the husband stopped by to chat. The waitress stewed over some scheme of the local politician's to extend parking rates into the evenings, plus weekends. What's a working person to do? Already, she parks afar and scateboards the distance to work. She was just that right combination of friendliness, wit, and loopiness. Surely, a native San Diegan! Nope, she says, she comes from Ohio. Ohio! Right next door! We could be cousins. She and everyone else. I can't tell you how many people we met who've transplanted themselves from the northeast.

What am I doing in freezing my rear end off in upstate New York? Taking solace when March 1rst comes, imagining on that day that one can almost begin to perhaps see the foreglimmerings of the light at the end of the weather tunnel? When we returned on March 26, it was colder than when we left!

I know, I know, it's my theocratic assignment. That's how we come to think of it when we're stuck in some armpit of a location.  It will continue to be my assignment until I jump ship and go somewhere else. “Don't worry, Jehovah will provide. Besides, I'm outta here,” I'll say as I roar off. But I probably won't leave. Family is here, extended family, and friends, so that we're all locked here in a conspiracy of inertia. Not to mention that.....it's my assignment.

 
 There were other things we did in San Diego. Other beaches we visited, for example, like in Ocean City, where rows of pelicans cruised by to update our2011 3 27 san diego 093  position, oblivious to the changed socio-economic surroundings, And the zoo, which would take several days, I think, to take it all in. Now, I'm used to zoos in which the animals bunch up as far away from the visitors as possible, and just sit there like sullen union members, not doing squat. But San Diego is a Paul Simon type of  zoo...and the animals will love it if ya do, now.....these creatures interact. They're not shy at all.

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It was a nice vacation. We don't travel much, nor do we usually go far. I'd never been west of the Mississippi. A short stay in the Poconos is more our speed. But the kids are out of the house, now. Some bills are paid off. Maybe we'll do it again someday. Starting with this post, I believe I'll start a “Travelogue” category.

We even visited friends who had one of those GPS devices. And to think I've been pulling over in traffic like an old fogey, unwrinkling gigantic maps, painstakingly finding my place, plotting a course, and then driving a half mile and doing it all over again! Just like Pop. He's even older than I am! My first run-in, years ago, with a GPS device made me suspicious of them, but no more. Maybe Mrs. Sheepandgoats will buy me one as a present, and since we don't do Christmas, maybe I won't have to wait nine months.

They do make you an idiot, however. Like the person we met at the hotel swimming pool who told us of some sight to see in San Diego. Wow, we said, how do you get there? No idea, she said breezily. You know....GPS. It's sort of like the calculator wars playing out all over again. Thus, I once knew a CPA who would not use a calculator, and generally not even an adding machine. He was strictly pencil and paper! What a nutjob! Face it, we're all destined to become stupider and stupider for the duration of this system of things. Resistance is futile.

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News But Plenty of Hogwash

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)