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High Praise for Chuckles

From a certain person who hates Jehovah's Witness, a former Witness himself:

“So you've found a reporter that serves the Org well. Good for you. BUT it will never make the facts different. So where did your Ms Chuck get her information from, a JW I presume." 

I replied, “John, she did no more than reports facts and only facts. She is not 'one of ours.' I don't even think she likes us. But she sets an excellent example of responsible journalism with this article. If all in the news media were like her, the profession would not find itself on the very bottom of the 'public trust list,' right down there with slimy politicians and glib used-car salesmen.”

This is key to a good reporter. If she does not like us, and further research indicates she may well not, she shows no sign of it in her article. Many reporters seethe with their own personal feelings, betraying their clear agenda.

I may not like everything that comes from her pen. I certainly didn't like the one that I praised her for. it was bad news for my side. But it was honest, reporting, that's all I said about it. If everything else she writes is like that, perhaps she will one day be the savior of the media.

In fact, how this character John could write, or even think, that Ms. Chuck 'serves the Org well,' I'll never know. She says they have to fork over huge dough. How's that for 'serving' them? The people that hate Jehovah's Witnesses REALLY hate them and they come all unglued whenever a reporter falls short of assassination attempt.

Okay, I was not going to show the remark itself, but now I will. Chuckles (who I don't think is my friend, not at all) deserves it. As for John, he absolutely froths over the Witness' organizational arrangement. He has a screw loose, imo, relentlessly charging that Witnesses are the extremists of extremists.  Yet there are many like him. On a separate thread (same forum) I said:

"Recently I read a report of women who had been kidnapped by ISIS. They had been exhibited in cages, driven about in the back of trucks, raped any number of times at will by multiple men , burned with cigarette butts when they resisted. THESE are the people John’s lying new friends try to equate Witnesses with? C’mon! Even Admin will cease to think this an unseemly squabble between co-religionists and recognize it for what it is: Decent people that may not be his cup of tea, though decent nonetheless, under attack from the despicable.

"John does have one genuine circumstance that, in some measure, excuses his unhinged hatred. He has written, here or on another thread, of a truly horrific childhood involving sexual abuse. It had nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, a faith he discovered much later. But it appears to have seared him permanently. To that extent, I can sympathize with him."

He screamed at me, for this one, too, but it is nothing he had not revealed himself openly. To that extent, I admire him, for spilling such history is not a piece of cake. I may even be doing him a favor, republicizing his announcement that he came right out with about being a victim of child sexual abuse. It is common for abuse victims to feel, deep down inside, even if they actually know it was not so, that it is their fault. By letting him work out his rage online, which is tiresome and shows no signs of abating, perhaps he can better make peace with his tragic past.

The reference to Mr. Admin is because he atypically chimed in to rebuke us all for carrying on the way we were. Think of when your dad used to whirl around in the car and yell, "If you kids don't stop crying back there I'm going to stop this car and give you something to cry about!" With that, I whirled upon him. If we want to ruin his website, what's that to him? Afterwards, though, I did apologize, for after all, he is our host, even if he wonders at the fate that made him so, and he does put up with a lot of fruitcakes. They drive traffic to his site, but even so...

Now that we have dragged Mr. Admin into the picture, who may have a penchant for privacy, for we seldom hear from him, let us really drag him in. In response to someone wanting early morning comment from him, I chimed in:

It is too early for @admin. He gets up late and then has to putz around for some time before checking the mail. I’ll answer for him. As Monk says, he’ll thank me later.

Somewhat reluctantly, he finds himself hosting a religious JW forum, though he is not that way himself. No JWs on it are typical JWs because if they were typical they would be more acquiescent to their organization’s preference they not take part in such forums. One important reason their organization prefers that they abstain is the undignified mess that results when they do not.

For a variety of reasons, some Witnesses go there anyway, and, to be sure, there are parts of the forum largely innocuous. I avoid these parts and go right to the hot areas. It has helped me hone my writing, and about half of my ebook, Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, can be found in about 500 fragments scattered throughout. Mr. Admin is thereby my friend. I owe him.

As atypical JWs and their adversaries flail away, making points and counterpoints, some ridiculous, he has ‘lost it’ only twice to rebuke participants, once to say: “Jeez, you guys are a piece of work!” What could I tell him. That we’re not?

It is so rare for him to chime in that when he does, it is like hearing a voice from On High. The only appreciable difference is that a voice from On High is unlikely to say, “Jeez, you guys are a piece of work.”

 Mr. Admin did not take his ill and presently chimed in to say that he was the owner of the overall website, but that it was The Librarian who ran the JW part. This prompted me to add:

If I from time to time poke mild fun at Admin, it is nothing compared to the fun I poke at the Librarian, the old hen. It is riotous.

She really is a Jehovah's Witness, I think, though certainly an avant-guard one. She used to have for a banner an interior photo of a magnificent library; I thought it was the Library of Congress, but she told me it was some university library. It was gorgeous.

Nonetheless, by degrees I have been able to portray her before the world as a petty mean school librarian, who really doesn't like children, but she is too arthritic and just plain tired to do much about it when they misbehave. Moreover, she is frequently on the bottle, and while she knows her pupils are tittering behind her back, and even right in front of her, she spends most of her time  counting down the days to her retirement.

The strange thing about all of this is that she is actually a man. No, not a transgendered man; don't even go there. We started this gag long before transgenderism took the world by storm.

The Librarian and I made a deal long ago after she unfairly rebuked me for hawking my first ebook, Tom Irregardless and Me, on her forum. It was inexcusable for her to do this and the only conceivable reason that I can think of to excuse her actions is that I was hawking my first ebook, Tom Irregardless and Me, on her forum. I have been very careful not to ever do this again, which is a shame because it is an excellent ebook, and unlike Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses Write Russia, it is not free. I actually make a buck off it. Maybe no small thing for you, but a big deal for me. Do you have any idea of how my wife goes through money? So crack open your wallet and buy the thing already, will you? As books go, it is not pricey.

The Librarian would scream at me for this, normally. But here I am in her library, her bad boy pupil, but her pupil nonetheless, and she has not shown up for work yet. I think she may have fallen off the wagon once again.  

I will link to that exchange here. It will make them both happy. It is just one remark. Scroll up and down if you like, where you will encounter both geniuses and basket cases.  Let the reader use discernment. 

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On Women. Part 1

Daily my enemy has been hammering at the door of some woman’s rights groups, hoping that they will cooperate with him in his efforts to make trouble for his former religion. This strikes me as an extraordinarily disrespectful thing to do: to bludgeon them each day as though he understands their cause better than they. If they don’t ‘take the bait,’ they don’t take it.

Lately he modifies his approach and says that he ‘respectfully asks’ they give attention to his beef. He changes tactics because so many of his own people began to accuse him of ‘man-bashing’ that he took to blocking them. When I read what he was doing, I thought it was due to me, but since I had been behaving myself lately, I went to check and I saw that - no, it was some of his own people. Moreover, while I may have been sharp in my disagreement, I was never (especially) disrespectful.

I think it will turn out as when the ever-capable female British intelligence officer said to Foyle, about the full-of-himself male officer that she, for the time-being, had to play second fiddle to, ‘He is overconfident and not really too smart. He will overreach and fall of his own weight. I’ve seen it before.’ (Foyle’s War)

Nobody will appreciate women’s issues like a woman. However, to the extent that a man may weigh in, I submit that I am more on their side than he, and if permitted, I will develop this point over a few posts. Suffice it to say going in that I have several times written: “The question to ask in any discipline, is not ‘Can women do it better than men?’ It is ‘How can they do worse?”

BTW, the beef he has is over a paragraph in the December 2018 Watchtower Magazine dealing with woman finding themselves in abusive relationships. If the background facts were as he represents, one might almost concede that he has a point. But the background facts have been misrepresented in almost every case. I wrote up a reply, which I also sent to these groups. The jury is still out on which version of truth they will prefer. Possibly they will say, ‘If we never hear again from either one of these two jerks, it will be not soon enough.’ However, I have just forwarded mine a few times. He does his every single day. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses do not call every single day.

Okay, consider a few examples of respect for women, first from the Bible, and second from the people who do their best to follow the Bible. The first two involve Jesus’s relationships with women. In themselves they are not decisive; one could even say that they do not go far enough. However, in the context of the times, they are monumental. When Jesus appeared on earth, he didn’t instantly stomp out injustice wherever he saw it. Otherwise there would have been not much left. For the most part, he worked within the existing world, even as the laid down principles that would facilitate a better one.

The ‘woman at the well’ Jesus spoke with was the first person to which he entrusted directly the news that he was God’s chosen Messiah. Even his disciples he made jump through hoops to arrive at that bit of intelligence, which, from a Christian’s point of view, is the most significant announcement of all time. He told it to a woman (John 4:26). Moreover, she was not some hoity-toity religiously self-righteous woman. She was a woman who was ‘living in sin.’ Woman’s groups today will probably disagree with definitions and values of that time, but they will nonetheless accede that Jesus first gave the most important news there was to a woman.

The second example is found in the angel who announces Jesus’s resurrection. Who does he entrust this 2nd-most important announcement of all time to? Again, it was women. (Luke 24:4-11) Now, at the time, the testimony of a woman was considered absolutely worthless in that male-dominated Greek, Roman, and yes, even Jewish world. In effect, the angel showed contempt for that male-dominated society, and completely skirted it. Even Jesus’s disciples, immersed in that culture, did not believe the women. That was of no consequence to the angel; they’ll figure it out in time, the big dopes.

Update to the present. The intent of Witness detractors today is to paint the religion as obsessed with the ‘submission’ women are supposed to show to men. To the extent the religion, or Bible, speaks of ‘submission,’ it is far more innocuous, and essentially is simply to acknowledge that in any ship, there is a captain. God has assigned the roles as best suited for the stability of the family, which for the most part, means the stability of the human race. There is no tolerance made for abuse. Of course, that is not to say that abuse has not occurred, but it occurs no less in places wanting nothing to do with Bible principles. Unless I am very mistaken, Harvey Weinstein did not go door-to-door telling people about ‘God’s magnificent purposes’.

It is a spiritual or family-based arrangement only. I realize that more women than not in the women’s groups mentioned will say that it is antiquated, and they have moved on from it for the best. Point taken. Let it be said, however, that in Watchtower facilities it is an absolutely unremarkable fact of life that women will exercise authority over men in any areas where they have better aptitude, for example, in design, computers, medicine, and law. If the men working under them ‘cop an attitude’ (which has happened) they will hear about it. Men are ever inclined anywhere to parlay their usually superior physical strength into attempted domination. Watchtower headquarters will not let them get away with it. Detractors will catch wind of a woman working in the furtherance of JW purposes, maybe law, and write of how she can endure in the midst of domineering men? She doesn’t have to. They submit to her in these pragmatic areas where competence is all that counts, and ‘submission’ is completely irrelevant, being merely a spiritual or family matter of organization.

Women are not seething with discontent over there in Witness-land, as their enemies seek to portray them. Neither are there weak women who tyrant men play like a fiddle. Of course, there are some ‘weak women,’ but there are also weak men. On balance, they are about equal.

It is common today that if you do not embrace a given cause, you are said to hate it. Thus, some try to paint Witnesses, and Christianity in general, as inherently hateful and abusive to women. Other Christian denominations will have to speak for themselves. I don’t follow them closely enough to weigh in one way or the other. I can only speak for my own people, and I will speak more of them in Part 2

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Is it Time for Jehovah's Witnesses to Apologize? Part 1

Elizabeth Chuck wrote an article about Jehovah’s Witnesses and I would have preferred she write one instead about the PTA meeting in her town. It is a normal reaction, for it was news of a huge-dollar verdict against a religious organization I hold dear. Of course I hate to see it; that’s only natural. When you find yourself on the gallows you do not angle for a selfie with the hangman.

Still, if you must hear bad news, hear it from Ms. Chuck, for her news in this case is straight reporting, not one of the hatchet jobs we often get. The topic is the most white-hot topic of all, child sexual abuse, and temptations to whip it into fever pitch are not resisted by all. She does resist it. That’s not to say I might not write it up differently. With every story, it is a matter of which facts you put where. But she doesn’t make any up or deliberately misrepresent them. Having said that, it is not to suggest that even those who do misrepresent do so on purpose. Well…I guess it is to suggest that, but only to suggest. It is not proof positive. When your own people merely say that they ‘abhor child abuse and strive to protect children’, but otherwise do not comment, what’s a reporter to do?

Here’s what I like about the Elizabeth Chuck story:

First of all, it is not like the Matt Volz AP article, picked up by many sources, that expressed seeming bewilderment that “the Jehovah’s Witness cases haven’t received the same national attention” [as the Roman Catholic Church]. Is not the reason a big ‘Duh’? The Montana case abuse under trial was all within a family and church leaders were accused of botching the handling of it, though blameless themselves. It’s a little different than church leaders actually committing the abuse, something which is very rare with Witnesses.

Ms. Chuck correctly (and atypically) makes clear that a “two-witness rule” used by Witnesses “is only for internal modes of discipline and does not prevent a victim from going to the police.” She correctly points out that “there are very strict internal modes of discipline within Jehovah's Witnesses.” Yes. It is not an anything-goes religion. She correctly observes that being disfellowshipped is often a painful experience and serves as a negative incentive to do what might trigger it. So far so good. It might not be as I would phrase it, but it is certainly acceptable reporting.

She stumbles briefly, though not seriously, when she says: “Jehovah's Witnesses are a misunderstood and very self-enclosed group, despite counting some celebrities among its ranks — including Venus and Serena Williams.” She is right that they are misunderstood. The only footnote I would add is about her seeming acquiescence to the common wisdom that groups are validated by having celebrities in their camp, some of whom are the most silly people on earth, living radically different lives than anyone else. However, the miscue is minor, and, after all, I make use of poor Serena Williams, too.

Ms. Chuck does her homework. She consults experts on religion, such as “Mark Silk, a professor and the director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn [who says of Witnesses]: ‘They don't vote. They don't celebrate birthdays and holidays. They don't say the pledge [of allegiance]. They are not just another Christian denomination.’” It is not her fault if she does not know that the guy (likely) has it in for Jehovah's Witnesses, spinning his facts negatively, and the reason is revealed in his very job title: he is a professor at Trinity College. If you do not accept the Trinity teaching, you are toast in the eyes of many of these people. Nonetheless, what the professor says about voting and not pledging allegiance is true enough. He does not mention that if nobody pledged allegiance to human institutions maybe the national king could not pit people so easily against each other in times of war, but that is beyond the scope of his information request. At least he doesn’t inaccurately charge that Jehovah’s Witnesses are disrespectful to country, for there are few people as scrupulous about ‘rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s (taxes) than they. Reporter Chuck relates the words of another expert: “Whatever belief they have or mode of internal discipline they have, they have a biblical justification for it.” I’ll take it. It’s true. We don’t apologize for it. I prefer it infinitely over church reporters saying we are not Christian because we do not accept the Trinity. The reason we not accept it is that its scriptural support is based almost entirely upon taking literally certain passages which, if they were read in any other context, would be instantly dismissed as figure of speech.

She relates dutifully the sparse words of the Watchtower organization that they “abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts,” attributing the sparseness to “a penchant for privacy.” She takes it at face value. She does not imply that they are lying through their teeth, like Mr. Gambacorta did in the Philadelphia Inquirer, dismissing the words as ‘boiler plate,’ and even ending his article with an anecdote of spying artwork at the JW headquarters captioned ‘Jehovah loves children,’ and using it as a pretext to wink at his readers as though to say: ‘Yes, I guess we know just how they love them,’ before returning to his Witness-hating base on a Reddit thread, where he is hailed as a hero. He made me so mad that I responded by letter, and when it was ignored I put it online (and I wish it got more play than it actually does, for it is good, not the whole picture perhaps, but then, what is?  It represents facts not exactly shouted from the rooftops. It offers perspectives not heard anywhere else.)

However, eclipsing her skill at side-stepping all these potential landmines is that she puts her finger on the real problem in the very first paragraph of her article: Jehovah’s Witnesses are ‘insular.’ She doesn’t even try to spin that into a crime, as do some. Most Witnesses would not agree to the label ‘insular’, but that is primarily because they are unfamiliar with it and unsure just what attachments might come with it. They will instantly, even proudly, acknowledge two closely related phrases: they are ‘separate from the world’ and ‘no part of’ it.' It is a scriptural imperative, they will say, because if you want to lend a helping hand, you must be in a place of safety yourself. Not all will agree that life today is constantly-improving. Some will say the overall picture more closely resembles the Titanic floundering. Did I not just read that generalized anxiety has replaced depression as the number one mental health malady? Can that be because there is nothing to worry about in life today? I think not. It is the ramifications of these two views, society is ever-improving vs floundering, that causes most of the ‘misunderstanding’ that opponents of Witnesses speak of.

Witnesses are ‘insular,’ biblically mandated, but here is an instance where that insularity has contributed to a significant tragedy. Witness leaders find themselves in a situation parallel to certain vehicles being exempt from normal traffic laws—say, police and fire emergency vehicles. Yet, in making use of that exemption, a terrible accident results and the public outcry is so great that they are convicted even though following the law. Or, to apply it more accurately, public anger is so great that the law is reinterpreted so that it can be established that they did break it.

I am not a lawyer. I can quickly step out of my depth. Yet most persons reading this section of the Montana child abuse reporting laws would, I suspect, agree that the Witness organization followed the letter of them. They make every effort to do that. The prompt appeal of any Witness judicial committee to their Branch organization is not to see how they can evade child abuse laws, as their opponents often spin it, but how they can be sure their actions are in harmony with them.

On the very bottom of the document ‘Montana Mandatory Reporting Requirements Regarding Children’ is a section labeled ‘Members of the clergy or priests are not required to report when the following condition is met.... if the communication is required to be confidential by cannon law, church doctrine, or established church practice.”

Even “established church practice?” It seems extraordinarily loose, and yet there it is. It is a part of a doctrine called ‘ecclesiastical privilege.’ It has long been encapsulated into law, as has the privileged nature of the doctor-patient relationship and the attorney-client relationship, on the recognition that these relationships cannot function without the expectation of confidentiality.

If such is the law, why is the Witness organization found culpable despite stringent efforts to follow it? Because the war today is against child sexual abuse, deemed the most critical crusade of our time, and they were expected to ‘go beyond the law’ so as to facilitate that end. Thus, the law was reinterpreted so as to allow that they did violate it.

The Witness organization finds itself in a situation similar to that of Joe Paterno, the Penn State coach who was universally praised throughout his life as an excellent role model but then was excoriated beyond redemption when he merely obeyed the law regarding an unspecific allegation he heard of child sexual abuse but did not 'go beyond it.'  He followed it. He reported the allegation to his superiors. But he did not ‘go beyond the law,’ reporting it directly to police. When the allegation turned out to be true, his career was over, and even his life, for he died two years later.

If it is so crucial to ‘go beyond the law,’ then make that the law. This is exactly what Geoffrey Jackson of the Witnesses’ Governing Body pleaded for three times before an Australian Royal Commission. Isn’t that the purpose of law – to codify what is right? Make the law clear, unambiguous, and allow for no exceptions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are universally recognized for meticulously following secular law even as they are primarily guided by biblical law. Make universal mandating the law, with no exceptions. Requiring parties to ‘go beyond the law’ only enables Monday-morning quarterbacking to assign motives, invariably bad ones, to unpopular parties that have failed in this regard.

An article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle dated November 20th, 2011, observed that “it's a mistake to think that the failure…to report the abuse is a rarity....Studies over the past two decades nationally have consistently shown that nearly two-thirds of professionals who are required to report all cases of suspected abuse fail to do so....."I think that we fail miserably in mandated reporting," said Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Kristina Karle...” Is it not absurdly chaotic to excoriate those who did their best to follow the law when two thirds of all professionals, for a variety of reasons, do not? Does anyone charge that two thirds of all professionals do not give a hoot about children? Plainly there are other factors at work. Yet when the crusade against child sexual abuse reaches fever pitch only one factor is deemed to have any significance.

(The Democrat and Chronicle article is behind a paywall. Snippets of the above quote exist here and there, but to my knowledge, the only complete excerpt is found in a JoePa follow-up article I wrote at the time. All is not lost. Your employer will pay to get you behind that wall, and probably already has an account. Alas, my employer is me, and he likes to cut costs, seeing no need to return there, as he already has what he needs.)

End of Part 1. Part 2 to follow soon.

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Offering my Sacrifice to the Gods

Volkswagen is ending production of the New Beetle, first begun in 1997. That beetle was the reincarnation of the original Beetle, which was itself ended in 1978. Every hippie on earth drove a Beetle back in the day.

It’s time. It is a smart move on Volkswagen’s part, for reasons beyond mere sales. With people routinely screaming that their opponents on anything are ‘like Hitler,’ you know it is only a matter of time before a company offering a car that actually was inspired by Hitler is subject to wrath itself.

I never owned a Beetle, but a friend did. My car was a 64 Rambler Classic station wagon. I decaled a bumblebee stripe around the rear end, wagon and all.  Sometimes we took my car and sometimes his as we explored the old logging roads in the Adirondacks during college days. Many of those roads would disintegrate into pure forest when they reached back far enough.

Emerging from a quasi-road onto a dirt road only slightly more real, my friend, who was driving, asked: “Anything coming your way?” “Just a school bus,” I said, and he laughed, for we were in the middle of nowhere. He pulled out and a school bus took off his front bumper.

I did have a Kharmann Ghia afterwards, which was a sportier Volkswagen offering, and I have two memories of it. The first is when I was alone with it performing the same house-to-house ministry I do now, decades ago when I was much dumber than I am now. Now, VWs barely heated at all. So I had gotten it into my head that maybe a portable kerosene heater would be a good idea; I could roll the windows down a bit for the fumes. As I do even today, I waited till I actually needed it, on one frigid suburban street, to try it out. I didn’t want to fire it up right there in the car. At least credit me with not being that dumb. I lit it outside, and a two-foot high flame shot into the air because I had not done it right. What would any homeowner glancing out the window have thought? “Oh, man, another religious nut, this one offering sacrifice to the gods!”

The other memory that lasts of my Karmann Ghia is when I pulled into my folk’s drive right behind their station wagon. No sooner had I shut the engine off than the backup lights of wagon ahead came on and my brother launched out and into my headlights like a rocket for Saturn. This is the same brother who took my stamp collection and who cheats at Scrabble. I didn’t have a lot of dough back then, so I fiber-glassed over the two gaping holes and bought two truck-mounted headlights and mounted them between front side fenders and hood. The car looked like a frog. I drove it in field service afterwards until I got rid of it, but I was always careful to avoid the street in which I had sacrificed to the gods.

D412CC2B-004C-45A1-ACC3-45BBD559FEE8

 

 

 

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Are We Looking at Insurance Fraud? Part 3

The following excerpt is from Tom Irregardless and Me, written by yours truly.

At the home of Victor Vomidog, an alarm panel light pulsed red. Victor read the incoming feed. It was serious. Someone was saying nice things about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Instantly, he swung into action. There was not a moment to lose. He opened his door and whistled. The media came running. “Witnesses are selfish!” he cried. “They only think of themselves! Why don’t they help everyone? Why do they just do their own people?” That evening, media ran the headline: “WHY DON’T THEY HELP EVERYONE?”

But they had asked the wrong question. The headline they should have run, but didn’t, because they didn’t want to deal with the answer, was: “WHY AREN’T OTHERS DOING THE SAME?” The answer to the first question is obvious: Witness efforts consist of volunteers using their vacation time. Just how much time is the boss going to grant?

So do it yourself, Victor! Organize your own new chums! Or send your money to some mega-agency where they think Bible education is for fools. Be content to see monies frittered away on salaries, hotels, travel, retirement, health care benefits, and God knows what else! Be content to see much of what remains squandered! It’s the best you can do - embrace it! Or at least shut up about the one organization that has its act together.

The obvious solution, when it comes to disaster relief, is for others to do as we do. Why have they not? There are hundreds of religions. There are atheists…aren’t you tight with Hemant now, Victor?  Organize them, why don’t you? They all claim to be unGod’s gift to humankind. Surely they can see human suffering. Why don’t they step up to the plate themselves?

They can’t. They are vested in a selfish model that runs a selfish world. Let them become Jehovah’s Witnesses and benefit from the Bible education overseen by the Governing Body, Plato’s and Sider’s dream brought to life. But if they stay where they are, they must look to their own organization or lack thereof. There’s no excuse that they should not be able to copy us. They have far more resources to draw upon. We’re not big enough to do everyone for free, and we don’t know how to run a for-pay model; we’ve no experience in that. Instead, other groups must learn how to put love into action, as we did long ago.

C’mon, Victor! If all the world needs is to ‘come together,’ then see to it! We don’t know how to do that. People without Bible education tend not to get along. You make them do it! You don’t want to, or can’t, do large-scale relief, yet you want to shoot down those who do! What a liar!

See Part 1

See Part 2


Tom Irregardless (3)

 

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Are We Looking at Insurance Fraud? Part 2

This seemingly is a separate subject, but rest assured, it will converge. The Watchtower recently published an article that pointed out that some women in abusive marital relationships exercise their right to separate for safety’s sake, yet others have determined to stick it out. Lloyd Evans blew a gasket over this, wrote a short article of how controlling Watchtower men were, ordering Witness women to stay in abusive relationships, and he has been forwarding it daily to several agencies, hoping to get his former faith in trouble. Honestly. He did it as a countdown (or countup):

@ChtyCommission - Are you aware that Watchtower…is encouraging #jehovahswitness victims of #domesticviolence to endure life-threatening abuse?

and

It's Day 5 since Watchtower, a registered charity, publicly urged #JehovahsWitness women to stay with physically abusive husbands. @ChtyCommission has confirmed it is reviewing article. No response yet from @RefugeCharity or @womensaid.

and

Day 8 of a magazine with circulation numbering into the millions instructing women to "endure" abusive relationships. Still not a word from @ChtyCommission or #domesticviolence orgs @RefugeCharity @womensaid or @PurplePurse

At some point I chimed in, linking to my own post on the entire Watchtower article, not just a single paragraph and appending it with my tweets to his:

 

Day 9 of @cedarsjwsurvey hoping he can get his former religion in hot water with @ChtyCommission. Every day he hammers on their door. Sheesh. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t call every single day. @RefugeCharity @womensaid @PurplePurse .

and

11 STRAIGHT DAYS hammering their door! No cult leader could be more pesky.

and even

Day 23 of two women's groups being battered daily by a man who shames them for not pursuing his grudge against his former religion. One never knows, but it is possible they are considering overall context. @ChtyCommission @RefugeCharity @womensaid

Some of his own people told him to cool it:

if these organizations don't react, you have to respect their choice. Criteria of their evaluations is complex in nature (legal aspects) and other crucial elements imposed by the statutes of a Charity. Please read again Steve Hassan's last book, there are more efficient methods

Steve Hassan is a huge player in the ‘anti-cult’ movement. Here he is being appealed to as though he were a cult leader himself.

I couldn’t resist. I just had to tweet:

In other words, you’re making yourself a pain, Cedars. The whole world does not revolve around your beefs. @ChtyCommission @RefugeCharity @womensaid

Okay, here’s one more from me:

It is possible that @womensaid resents being lectured to daily by a male who presumes to know their concerns better than they do themselves. Aren't abusive males known to behave this way, refusing to take delay or silence for an answer? Possibly they read the entire WT article.

He is still at it and no, I don’t respond every day:

Day 31 of circulation. A month ago, Watchtower published its clearest ever advice encouraging JW women to "endure" abusive husbands. Incredibly, it seems they can do this without any official rebuke from DV orgs like @RefugeCharity & @womensaid.

Some of his own have broken ranks and accused him of ‘man-bashing.’ He is confident, I think overconfident. But I do not underestimate him. He has had some success in stirring up major mischief. And you never quite know what these agencies will do. I would think when he sends complainants over there, Bethel could respond if queried merely by citing their present policy on marital separation, but you never know how things will turn out until they turn out.

On day 40 or so, I became very bold and tweeted: "It's as though he says, 'G******t, answer me when I'm talking to you!'"

Around Day 60, I heard that he had given it up.

Now, it occurs to me, that if he can hammer on an agency each day, there is no reason that I cannot do the same:

Day 1 of Lloyd’s friend encouraging insurance fraud to his Twitter followers.

Only I won’t hammer at the same agency each day as he does. There are enough that I can mix them up, just like rotating public speakers at the Kingdom Hall. Oh, yeah. Let’s see where this goes.

I don’t know. Is it illegal or is it just incredibly crass and ungrateful? Imagine. Your home is destroyed in a flood. Instantly your fellow congregation members swoop in to restore or rebuild, donating both time and materials. Yet when it turns out that you have made provisions to cover exactly that circumstance you say ‘Fugeddaboudit! I like 'free' better. See you on the Adriatic coast, if you can afford it, that is. I can.’ Either way, they can be made to look awfully small.

As Sherlock says, ‘It’s Game On.’

See Part 1

See Part 3

Arguing

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Are We Looking at Insurance Fraud? Part 1.

There was a series of tweets from former Jehovah’s Witnesses hoping to stir up discontent with present ones. The politics involved are likely not of interest to the general reader so I pass over it here. Suffice it to say that it is that way.

It turns out that when the Watchtower organization oversees disaster relief they afterwards suggest to ones that happen to have insurance that they might donate whatever insurance might pay out to the Worldwide Work relief fund itself. Why this should infuriate the ex-Witnesses I’ll never know but infuriate them it does. To me, it seems only just that those who do the disaster rebuild should receive the insurance monies if there are any. I could be wrong but I suspect insurance companies will love it that way; the work gets down promptly and without haggling over amount. However, the more important question to be raised is, if the Watchtower doesn’t get the insurance money, who does? The more I looked at these tweets the more I came to feel that I was looking at encouragement to commit insurance fraud.

With that backdrop, here are some of the tweets. I have excluded irrelevant ones as well as those from opposers calling me an a*****e. Apparently, a recent shipment of relief supplies was destroyed and that is how the topic is introduced. I will reproduce a few tweets which may or may not interest the reader, all in italics, and then return to the main point. I am TTH. Others I will refer to by their initials. Everything is captured in screenshots.

EDL: The donations from local Jehovah's Witnesses caught fire - but the article fails to mention that JW donations and disaster relief is ONLY ever for other JWs.  JWs only support their local community by preaching to them, never with practical help.

TTH: Yes. They cannot do everyone because they are near exclusively volunteers using vacation time. The best they can do is set an example for others to imitate so that they will not be beholden to astronomically wasteful agencies.

CF: Interestingly enough, WT usually pressure any JW’s they help to “dontate” the insurance payout they get back to WT to “thank” them.

TTH: ‘Pressure is a subjective term. However, if they do the work voluntarily at no cost that certainly would not be an inappropriate way to acknowledge it. Many people have no insurance at all, especially in the case of flooding. It is something immaterial to JWs. They do not check beforehand.

SL: Agreed, the WT does not do the work on the understanding the insurance cash will come their way…

 For a brief moment, I thought I had found an ally, but it was not so:

SL: I've given up my time in my JW past to do this work and it's lovely to feel you are helping someone in need.  In my experience few, if any, feel the need to solicit thanks from a victim of disaster let alone "suggest" the insurance money comes one's way.

CF: To clarify - it’s not the individual JW’s helping who do this. It’s something that happens afterward, organized via the branch and handled by the elders. Most JW volunteers never even know this has happened. JR is putting together an article that exposes multiple instances of WT leaning on JW’s after a relief effort to hand over the insurance money.

I was getting a little fed up at this point. In three tweets combined, I said:

TTH: Tell him to not ignore the end result: distressed persons quickly having life & property restored, vs waiting weeks or months for relief that will only come if they are adequately insured, insurers sometimes being known to weasel out of full coverage when they can. Tell him also to spotlight the atheist and opposer agencies that do the same for their people so that they do not find themselves sh*t out of luck when insurance or build execution proves inadequate. And make sure he tells of the premier agency in the Haiti earthquake, squandering practically to the penny the half billion dollars donated. (I linked to a Propublica article detailing breathtaking incompetence in America’s chief relief agency and (alas) even exaggerated some, for they didn’t waste all of it, just most of it.) I am looking forward to this article, confident John will not forget these things.

Someone made a snotty comment about Watchtower making a lot of money off their volunteers and the insurance companies. I replied that it was in return for doing exactly what the insurance company wanted done

The former Witnesses turned bitter opponents work tirelessly to stir up discontent in those loyal. They do a great deal of talking amongst themselves, but present Witnesses are their target audience. While the Watchtower organization may well afterwards make the suggestion, I doubt very much that they ‘pressure’ anyone because the idea of simply pocketing both work AND insurance payment would never occur to most Witnesses. And even if they were to ‘pressure’ anyone, it would clearly be for their own good; otherwise they would be committing insurance fraud, and the insurance companies are very good at sniffing such things out.

Say they succeed in finding some Witnesses who are outraged that the Watchtower Society should mention money after they have restored a person’s life. What are they recommending these ones do? Are they recommending that they say to their Christian brothers, who are generally on the scene long before relief comes by any other way, “Brothers, no. Don’t bother. I am afraid that the organization may afterwards mention money. I will wait instead for the insurance company to pay and hope that the amount is enough to restore what I have lost and that when the harried contractors at last get around to it they will not in their haste do a half-assed job.” I don’t think so.

I have never heard that advice from these characters or anything even approaching that. What the opposers appear to be doing is encouraging disgruntled ones, if they can find any, to accept the Watchtower’s help and then refuse any suggestion that they sign over an insurance check. What, then, will they do with the insurance money? Give it back to the insurance company? Again, I don’t think so. Why have they been paying premiums for all these years? No, they are encouraging them to keep the money, perhaps to thereafter spend on a new car, overseas vacation, or college tuition.

Look, this may be an overgeneralization, but this illustrates exactly why people who are Jehovah’s Witnesses should think twice before they leave the faith. I see these former Witnesses on Twitter. Some excoriate Trump and some excoriate Obama. They once had unity. Moreover, they cavalierly float an idea that would shock most Witnesses: take the money and run. What is wrong with these characters? I mean, who would propose repaying the work of volunteer rebuilders with closed fists, and who would propose chiseling the insurance company out of their money at the same time? There is such a thing as hating so much as to lose all decency. My bet is that when insurance companies do sign over checks to the Watchtower, they find it a pure joy, knowing well how difficult customers can be when under extreme pressure. Jerod Kushner said with Jehovah’s Witnesses a handshake deal means something when he bought some of their Brooklyn property. Even arch-enemy Barbara Anderson says that, overall, they’re very nice people.

Look, possibly what they are advocating is not illegal. Perhaps it is just astonishing mean and ungrateful. Either way they look very small as they focus their unreasoning hatred to cripple the most effective disaster relief program the world has known. Parts 2 and 3, which follow, are not specifically on matters of insurance and can be skipped by those interested in those matters alone.

See Part 2 and Part 3

 

Spy

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In Search of the Ithaca Octopus

Sitting outdoors at the Mexican restaurant across from the east end of Ithaca Commons, you can look up one hill that leads to SUNY Ithaca College, and another that leads to Cornell University. Following the Ithaca College road, you find trappings common to New York State colleges, most of which are on campus. Following the one leading to Cornell, you find essentially a second city, Collegetown, with new six-story residence buildings that our hotel manager heard tell command a four-year lease at $2000 per month.

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The roads at by the restaurant (which was very good, by the way, casual food, not pricey) come together in a quirky sort of way, and it will not be possible to iron out the quirks due to the steep hills just yards away. One-way road dictates alleviate some of the chaos. The roads entering the city from the west, however, at the foot of Cayuga Lake, are something else again. They used to be called The Octopus, as eight of them converge from different directions, and not only the hills but also the lake thwart efforts to straighten the mess out.

Verifying that it was once called The Octopus became a mini-obsession during my visit. I first read it in a crime novel with Ithaca as the unlikely setting. The private eye protagonist was routinely driving through ‘The Octopus’ to reach destinations. He could only have meant one place, and it is true that, due to the hemmed-in nature of the city, the quickest (almost only) way to get from north to south is to navigate this mess. When it is ensnarled, locals grumble about it.

The first three persons I asked knew nothing of the nickname, but none of them were longtime residents, and college students, by definition, never stay long. Most cities in New York State are in slow population decline, but Ithaca is growing. The governor is hyping his efforts to jumpstart the economy, so he recently made news by suggesting people are no longer leaving due to lack of opportunity, for he has solved that, but they are leaving due to the weather. This led to a certain smart aleck (me) pointing out that New York did indeed have very high property and school weather. It also has high income weather. And don’t get me started on the sales weather.

The first sign that I might have been on the right track hunting octopus came when I asked the young waitress at Joe’s Italian restaurant (again, very good, highly recommended if you like Italian). She had lived in Ithaca eleven years and she said…yes, she almost thinks that she has heard the term before. This confirmed my sense that it was likely true folklore that the old-timers did not think so important to pass on to the young and the young do not have such fine connections to the old to absorb it anyway.

But the older waitress at the restaurant gave me a blank stare and said that she didn’t know what I was talking about. She may have thought that I was giving her a hard time. Octopus is sort of a squirrelly word, and doesn’t one make a subconscious connection with the James Bond movie Octopussy? James Bond made liberal use of his ‘license to kill,’ and in fact, his license to do whatever, and that license that would surely be, not only revoked in this MeToo age, but he would be summarily fired for predatory behavior. That is the old James Bond, though. He is careful to get consent these days before he goes carrying on the way he does.

The older waitress came back five minutes later. Bullseye. She had talked to some old-time residents in the kitchen. Yes, absolutely, it was once called the Octopus. I could have saved a lot of time by googling the topic, where I would have instantly learned that it was called Octopus and that improvements have been made over the years but it will never truly be complete because there simply isn’t enough room. I could have done that, but the gumshoe method is just so much more fun.

We only spent a day in Ithaca and it ended on a mild downer. We sought to once again traverse the trail along Cascadilla Creek which flows tumbles down a deep ravine through the heart of Cornell country, so deep that you think you are in another world. The trail starts with a steep stair decline by a popular college eatery and finally emerges in the downtown city itself, right by the Christian Scientist church. Alas, the stairs were fenced off. Entry was blocked. It’s been five or six years since they closed that upper access, but I had heard it had at last been repaired. Maybe it was re-blocked, my wife suggested, as there had been recent torrential rains in the area. This possibility called for more gumshoe work, but darkness was falling, and we had ‘miles to go before we would sleep.’

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