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On Approaching People in the Ministry

Yikes! $50 per minute to speak with a householder?!

So says a gag sign posted on someone’s porch. “Doorknockers, please note. This householder charges $50 per minute to listen to any sales pitch, religious messages, or fundraising stories! Payment required in advance. By knocking on this door, you indicate that you are agreeing to these terms.”

Video has captured a couple of visitors—our people, I think. The one on the sidewalk says: “What’s it say?” and the nearsighted woman squinting to read it responds with: “Let’s skip this one.”

I’m done for if this catches on!......

Actually, as far as I am concerned, this sign represents a win-win. It does not make me mad. It is doing me a favor. If anyone doesn’t want to talk to me, then I don’t want to talk to them.

There is a squirrelly assumption that underpins this meme: that Jehovah’s Witnesses are determined to talk to each householder no matter what,and are incredibly frustrated if stymied. It plays into the infantile view that they are “recruiting,” a view popularly spread by “anti-cultists” who obsess over all the ways that people can “manipulate” others. They abhor all forms of “brainwashing” except for the brainwashing that is theirs, as they safeguard mainstream values—values that have not worked out very well insofar as promoting overall peace and well-being. If the mainstream thinking contained answers to the vexing questions of life, people would’t have to worry for one second about “sects” and even “cults”—they would be rejected out of hand.

So are Jehovah’s Witnesses “recruiting?” 

“I am going to ask you to convert,” I told a certain householder, “but it is not going to happen until the 100th call—and what are the chances It will go on for so long? In the meantime, it is just conversation.” To householders who state they have their own religion or spirituality and who decline conversation on that basis I say, “Well, I’m not going to ask you to change, and if I do, you can say No.” I mean, it is fine to decline conversation—more people do than do not—but just not on that basis. You might say it to an evangelical Christian—the sort that actually dofeature instant conversion of the “Come down and be saved!” variety. You might say it to a Moonie, because their people are known to disappear off the surface of the globe, only to reappear in robes selling flowers. But you ought not say it to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose members live and work in the general community.

No, the sign does me a favor. I have no problem with it. It might be different if they proliferated so that they became a commonplace gag sign, just a fad witticism inspired by late-night TV that didn’t necessarily mean anything. In that case, I might just walk away or I might playfully attempt to negotiate terms before deciding if I wanted to enter into such a “contract.” “Well, a guy has to serve the Lord,” I will say non-aggresively to some while trying to size them up. You’ve got to have a sense of humor.

Like a No Soliciting sign, there are no legal consequences to blowing past it, [in the U.S.—it may be different elsewhere] and like a No Soliciting sign, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It might be put up by a previous owner, and the current one sees no reason to remove it. It might be put up by a family member that died. It might have been put up after those pushy people selling vacuum cleaners left. It might be put up in the heat of election campaign season. It might be put up to dissuade Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I do not assume that is the case.

”I saw your sign and was a little concerned that you might think it applies to me,” I sometimes say when one of them is staring me in the face. “It doesn’t—but you might think it does.” You can assess by the response if the householder had that intention or not, and if he did, I have no problem moving on from what would cause both of us stress. Don’t argue, “We’re not soliciting,” because it really doesn’t matter whether you are or not. What matters is what the householder thinks you are doing. Of course, you can tell him that what he thinks is wrong, but that is never a fine foundation for a visit, is it?

I have said at times, when my attention is directed to such a sign, “Oh. Well....I’ll make sure not to do that, then,” either by soliciting money (which Witnesses never do) or soliciting opinions—drawing people out—which we do. Simply tell them stuff, don’t ask them a thing—that is enough to technically comply with such a sign. But the trick is not to argue over technicalities. The trick is to see if such and such a vague sign actually means anything to the householder and respect his wishes if it does. 

No, a No Soliciting sign means nothing legally, same as this new $50 per hour JW sign that some are giggling over means nothing. The only sign with legal consequences (in the US) is a No Trespassing sign, and even that only has legal consequences for individual dwellings—you can’t wall off an entire community with a No Trespassing sign. To be sure, some are trying to change that, but the idea of answering for large swaths of other people is repugnant to most and so the change may not readily happen.

Let’s face, this sign is kind of crude, and not too many people are going to put one up. It is sort of like that sign in which you find yourself as though staring down the barrel of a gun that says, “Never mind the dog! Beware of the owner!” I don’t just jauntily breeze by that sign as though is was a Welcome mat. I tread a bit cautiously. If my companion was to turn around and leave, I wouldn’t blame him a bit. Still, you never know. I was leaving one such home—no one had answered—and as I was walking away, a pickup truck drove in with a gun rack in the back window. “Great!” I muttered to myself—“probably a real hothead here!” He turned out to be the nicest guy in the world—very respectful of our purpose and of the Bible. There was a lot of crime in the neighborhood and he had just “weaponed-up” for the protection of his family.

These signs are not a red light—No Soliciting, Beware of Whatever—but they certainly are a yellow light. They are not a yellow light legally, but they are a yellow light in that they might reveal something of thehouseholders wishes, and I have no problem always complying with their wishes once I know what they are.

As it is, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a method to keep note of those who have emphatically said that the don’t want JW calls ever. It is an imperfect system and I usually forget to consult it, but it works better than nothing. Ironically, it may all vanish one day if the current “data-keeping” laws gathering steam in Europe, spearheaded by the same people who see “manipulation” everywhere, spreads to the US. It will be illegal to keep track of who doesn’t want a call. As it is, one US brother I know reported on a trip to Europe and how the brothers there were wrestling with these new anti data-gathering laws that had never been intended (at least, by most) for them, but were being applied to them, with: “Good! They’ve just made your job easier! Preach to one and all and don’t worry about any “records”—keeping track of them is a pain in the neck!”

What about a child answering the door? For me, that depends upon the age of the child. For a teen, sometimes I will go Bible-lite, such as commenting on what the words of the Lord’s Prayer literally mean, and I do not press any point. Or show a video geared to teens—I have never had a teen not pay rapt attention to the video, “Be Social-Network Smart.” With teens, I have sometimes told them that I really don’t know what to do with teens, because they are learning and gathering data, but they are also under their parent’s roof, with the latter guiding that process, and so they may or may not want them speaking to persons of different beliefs at the door, and ‘which is it with them’? 

Even that doesn’t guarantee anything. One parent that I finally encountered said, “I don’t appreciate you speaking to my children,”—I had done so twice and had shown a couple of videos. I responded that I had never been looking for the kids—I had been looking for her—and that when the teens had answered I had asked them whether their parents would want them speaking to a visitor about religion and they had said she would not care. “Kids will say anything!” she told me. So I explained that I would not call again (she said ‘thank you’), repeated that I had never been looking for them in the first place, and even was able to give a brief synopsis for why we call at all—she became pleasant.

Another teen—I had just finished something brief and similar—he had been home alone. As I left, the mother drove up in the driveway. I told her who I was, that I had spent a few minutes speaking with her son, I had asked him a question and he had answered intelligently. “You should be proud of him,” I said as I took my leave.

Cultures are different. I once handed a tract to a child with directions to give it to her parents, and upon leaving, my companion said that she would have witnessed to the child. My companion was newly arrived from South America where it is commonplace for parents to allow and even encourage children to talk religion to anyone calling about it. There are congregations there heavily populated by children with the full blessing of parents who do not attend themselves—respect for God runs deep in some lands and the assumption is that you cannot go wrong allowing your children to learn about the Bible.

Though the following has nothing to do with the Bible, it has everything to do with that fact that cultures are different, and so when the Witness organization speaks in a way that is not really my cup of tea, I say, “It is probably one of those others cultures that they are taking into consideration.”

There is a large community of deaf persons in Rochester NY. Accordingly, there are a number of Witnesses who make their living as translators. One of them told me of a certain deaf family of two adults and two children—all deaf—who are known not only locally but also nationally, and the following story is told nationally as a way of highlighting the challenges of catering to different cultures: 

A neighboring “hearing” girl would come over to play at the home of the deaf family. The two children were surprised that she didn’t seem able to sign very well at all, but they all managed to sign well enough to each other to get by. Then the two children went to the little girl’s home to play, where they saw the mother not signing at all! Her mouth kept moving, and the little girl seemed satisfied with that, but there was no signing. Upon returning home, they related their bewilderment to their parents and asked, “Are there other people like that?”

 

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The GitHub Arctic Code Vault—In the Northernmost Town of the World—Mother of All Conspiracies!

It is a good thing for you people that I keep up with multiple universes and know how to connect the dots! Thus I can see right through the machinations of the GitHub Arctic Code Vault, which you should see right now. I know the forces truly at work.

 

GASP! “Northernmost town in the world?”

We know who lives there.

SANTA CLAUS!

So it is HE who is gathering data on us!

It is HE who pulls off the most sinister ruse of all time, under the guise of children’s beneficiary!

EVERYONE except some religious oddballs lets this agent into their homes with open arms each year! They’ve done so for two centuries!

Dropping off presents takes two seconds. What does he do with the REMAINDER of his time—rummaging through file cabinets while sugar plums are dancing through our heads? And we even leave COOKIES for him, little suspecting that he is planting his own cookies on our hard drives so as to enable MIND CONTROL!

Where are the anti-cultists when you need them?

It is the mother of all conspiracy theories revealed!

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Turn Me On, Dead Man—The “Paul is Dead” Hoax

“That reminds me of people who claimed they used to play Beatle's records backwards ( I don't even know how you could do that ...) , and claimed you could hear voices saying "Serve Satan" or some such nonsense.”

You do it by putting the turntable in neutral and spinning it backwards with your finger. When you do, you hear repeatedly and very distinctly, “Turn me on, dead man.” (Revolution #9) When you play “Strawberry Fields Forever” forward, you hear at the very end, “I buried Paul.”

The rumor was that Paul, of the wildly popular only-game-in-town Beatles, had died some years ago and that the other three had covered it up, hiring a look-alike to take his place. This look-alike was referred to as “Billy Shears” from the Sgt Pepper’s album, who worried “what would you do if I sang out of tune?” but took solace that he would “get by with a little help from my friends.”

The Beatles cross the street “Abbey Road” in single file on the cover of the album of that name. John leads, dressed in white—he is the preacher. Ringo is next, in black—he is the undertaker. Paul is third—barefoot as a corpse would be, out of step, with cigarette in hand, though he supposedly quit them years ago—he is the dead man. George is fourth, dressed in workman’s clothes—he is the ditchdigger. The license plate of the VW just over the curb is “28 IF,” the age Paul would be IF he was still alive. The first song of that album, “Come together,” incorporates a sound that could best be characterized as a shovel piling on dirt, as in a burial. References abound to the group going on without Paul: “He says, ‘one and one and one is three,’ Hold on to his armchair, you can feel his disease.”

The Sgt Pepper’s album cover features the old Beatles looking down upon the new Beatles, recostumed and renamed Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The scene is of a burial—“Beatles” is spelled out in floral arrangement, and a host of other famous, though dead, people—Albert Einstein, Mae West, Edgar Allen Poe, about thirty in all—join the old Beatles in looking on.

This is just for starters. Supposedly, the three surviving Beatles had planned this for years, hiding clues in their records.

Why do I know this in such detail? I was a college student at the time. When this story broke, campus life came to a standstill. Kids were glued to campus radio, which cancelled all other programming to run with this 24/7. There was radio tie-in with major schools, which were also at standstills as regards academics activity. Students would call in with the latest theorizing. There were many in our school who cut classes so as not to miss a word. My roommate urged me (unsuccessfully) to install a reverse gear in my record player so as to play all Beatles songs backwards in search of additional clues. Had it been feasible, I probably would have done it.

Outlandish rumors were bandied about and accepted as gospel. The feed station—from UCLA, perhaps—featured neverending call-ins and interviews featuring the latest “research.” On the back  cover of the Sgt Pepper’s album, one of the four—Paul’s replacement, I think—is conducting the band. Superimposed on the cover are the lyrics to the songs within. By this means, “Paul’s” finger points to the words from “She’s Leaving Home,” “Wednesday morning at five o’clock.” If you called a certain number at that time—the number also listed in the album somewhere, I think—you found yourself connected to hell. I think that if you pressed the matter, you risked losing your soul. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that they are “young adults” in college. They are big children, reveling in the [then] newfound freedoms of drugs and sex, free of parental supervision,  ideally on their way to becoming adults.

This Beatles’ plot was  the dominating concern of students then and it lasted for days on end.

The weekend came. Maybe it was even some holiday. I went home, about 250 miles away. NOBODY KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS! On campus, NOBODY KNEW ANYTHING ELSE! I couldn’t believe how oblivious the out-of-touch farts were to the greatest story of our time! Finally, after a day or two, there was a brief snippet at the end of the “World News Report” and it was in the form of a scolding. Walter Chronkite or someone ran a line of two, briefly acknowledged that the Beatles—those precocious kids—were having a laugh on the whole world, but what a sick laugh it was.

I wrote this up long ago. It does me good to recall it:

Wikipedia (11/18/19) calls it a conspiracy theory. What! Are they nuts? A conspiracy theory is when you put a gullible spin on innocuous facts. In this case, it it the obvious spin on elaborate staged facts. Do you think that Paul showed up for the album cover photo and said: “Well, what a coincidence! I came dressed as a dead man, John is a preacher, Ringo an undertaker and George a gravedigger! Well, well, well!” ?

There is such a thing as “an educated fool” who really ought to be out digging ditches somewhere or unplugging toilets. That same Wikipedia entry references a few:
 
Author Peter D writes that, while the theory behind "Paul is dead" defied logic, its popularity was understandable in a climate where citizens were faced with conspiracy theories.” 
 
Ian D says that the Beatles were partly responsible for the phenomenon due to their incorporation of "random lyrics and effects", particularly in the White Album track "Glass Onion" 
 
What does he mean, “partly responsible?” They were fully responsible, and unless you knew that they were pranksters, it was emanantly logical to draw the obvious conclusion that they had “carefully concealed” in their Word.
 
During the 1970s, the phenomenon became a topic of academic study in America in the fields of sociology, psychology, and communication. [Of course] among sociological studies.
 
Barbara S recognised it as, in Schaffner's description, a contemporary reading of the "archetypal myth wherein the beautiful youth dies and is resurrected as a god". [and to think I wasted my career caring for the developmentally disabled].
 
Oh—here’s a beaut: American social critic Camille P locates the "Paul is dead" phenomenon to the Ancient Greek tradition symbolised by Adonis and Antinous, as represented in the cult of rock music's "pretty, long-haired boys who mesmerize both sexes", and she adds: "It's no coincidence that it was Paul McCartney, the 'cutest' and most girlish of the Beatles, who inspired a false rumor that swept the world in 1969 that he was dead."
 
Ding dong.......Excuse me, I’m expecting Paul to return. Hello?
 
It’s him!!! Squeeeeaal!! Wheeeeeeee!!!! Paul!! I’ve been keeping on the watch! I knew you would return!!
 
The one quote that is believable in all this aftermath polishing is from Paul himself [The Beatles Anthology]: “Well, we'd better play it for all it's worth. It's publicity, isn't it?"
 
Oh, and this one: 
 
In November 1969, Capitol Records sales managers reported a significant increase in sales of Beatles catalogue albums, attributed to the rumour. Rocco Catena, Capitol's vice-president of national merchandising, estimated that "this is going to be the biggest month in history in terms of Beatles sales"
 
Do you think?
 
This is the antitypical myth of the meandering Greek god Cashco beholding, not the reality on the wall, but the artificially superimposed image that is all his educated and drug-altered brain can take in.” — The Sheepandgoats Guide to Heroes and Has-Beens.
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The Wood-Sawing Contest—What a Way to End Field Service!

Joan is pushing ninety, alert, and she looks spry. The bevy of pills before her testifies that there may be more than meets the eye, however. Indeed, they just released her from the hospital after a three day stay. Her daughter sits kitty-corner at the table. She quit her job so as to be her mom’s full-time caregiver. That way mom will likely not go into a nursing home, and avoiding one is what she wants.

New York State wants it, too. It’s far cheaper on the social structure if Medicare/caid patients stay at home, and there is a program whereby a family member can be reimbursed by the state, which would otherwise send funds to far more pricey places.

I have come to visit the two, and they pour me some chamomile tea.

As usual on visits like this, talk turns to reminiscing of back in the day. Such as when daughter and mother and aunt worked the door-to-door ministry in a small town that had a wood-sawing contest going on. The mother—she was raised on a farm and is well accustomed to chores—gazed at the clumsy white men pretending to be pioneers—and said to her sister: “I think we can take them.”

“You’re in field service, Mom!” her daughter upbraids her, mortified at the spectacle she might make. But....these flabby young men, in their new store-bought flannel shirts—“it’s important to keep the saw moving so it doesn’t seize up,” the daughter told me, and some of these guys working out their affectation weren’t doing so hot as they struggled to tug the blade to and fro.

“I think we can take them,” Joan repeated to her sister. “Oh, sure! A couple of old ladies in dresses and carrying bookbags stuffed with Watchtowers! No, mom! Forget it!” the daughter rebuked them.

It would have happened on my watch! Forget service—I would have signed them up then and there! Nor do I think it would have been a bad witness. “Jehovah Witness Ladies Capture Wood-Cutting Crown, Beat Out Smallville’s Best”—what a witness that would have been! What! Do you think it would have been a greater witness to place a couple of magazines with someone on the topic: “What is the Purpose of Life?”

The purpose of life is to take wannabe roughing-it pioneers, and hand them their heads on a platter—and show them how REAL pioneers do it!

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“Oh, No. I Would Never Presume to Compare Myself With the Most High God!”

It’s funny how people are.
 
I ran into someone from pioneer school 30 years ago. Back then, students would learn techniques for the ministry, and would spend an afternoon field-testing them. So it was that I found myself working with a certain sister one afternoon long ago. I had barely seen her since.
 
She spoke so glowingly of me. Her memories of our working together were so appreciative. A householder had answered the door, as she recalled, and had asked, “Are you Jehovah?” ”Oh, no,” I had instantly answered, full of self-effacing humility, aghast at the very thought. “I would never presume to compare myself to the Most High God. No, I am just a lowly servant of His trying imperfectly to serve him. I would never, ever...” and so forth. The sister was so impressed at my humble manner. She had carried that memory around for who knows how many years.
 
It didn’t happen like that at all! I didn’t say any of that stuffl! Of COURSE I’m not God—I don’t have to explain why!
 
I remember the incident well. The friendly woman had been barely visible through the screen door that hot summer afternoon—she was way back there in the kitchen, and we were on the front doorstep. Interrupted and preoccupied, she had blurted out the first thing that had popped into her head: “Are you Jehovah?”
 
“Um....no....actually, I’m not,” was my hesitant reply. At which point, she realized what she had really said and she burst out laughing. Her gaffe served to make her still more friendly, as though she owed us, and we had a nice, if brief, conversation. I never said any of those silly things that my companion had for years attributed to me!
 
She was confusing, I am pretty sure, this experience with one in print from decades ago, of a lowly Mexican brother working in a fabulously wealthy territory—responding to the demand that he identify himself. Wasn’t he one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? a haughty fellow wanted to know. He had answered to the effect that he tries to be...he tries. It is not easy measuring up to the standards of the Most High God, and he would not presume to say that he does measure up....but he tries. The fellow peddled goods from a donkey cart, if I recall correctly. The householder was a leader of industry.
 
I didn’t even have a donkey cart that afternoon. I had left it at home. We had driven up in a car—just like that of the householder who asked me if I was God.
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My Favorite Tweet of the Day—From Richard Dawkins? Really?

Tweeted Richard Dawkins one fine day (11/13/19): “You could easily spot any Religion of Peace. Its extremist members would be extremely peaceful” 

Can it be? Is Richard Dawkins referring to Jehovah’s Witnesses—universally known for being “extremely peaceful” yet declared “extremists” in Russia? If so, I will take back the relatively few bad things I have said about him.

I have not really said THAT many bad things about him. At times, I have even been complimentary. When he blessed the atheist buses rolling out in London, I said that he raised a good point—his was a reaction to existing “hellfire’ buses, with advertising from the church. He did wuss-out, though, with a: “There probably is no God.” Probably?

It wasn’t until I began following him on Twitter, though, that I noticed how breathtakingly contemptuous he was toward anyone who disagreed with him—not merely about God, but also on geopolitical things—and then I did say a few mean things. For example, I said of him that “he does not suffer fools gladly, and a fool is anyone who disagrees with him.”

However, he has largely repented over this online meanness. I’ve noticed it over the months. He has not banished it entirely, but it is much less prevalent, so that I regret that I ever said what I did.

The temptation to be disdainful of opponents is well-nigh irresistible, particularly if you think that they are willfully choosing ignorance. I have (more or less) mastered the temptation, of course, but I have a source of effective and unending counsel that he does not.

This is no more concisely stated than it was at a recent Watchtower Study. A Bible verse considered how we ought “do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you.” (Philippians 2:3) Practically speaking, this advice is not easy to implement. It may even strike one as nonsensical—how can everyone be superior to everyone else? Said that Watchtower: “The humble person acknowledges that everyone is superior to him in some way.​—Phil. 2:3, 4.”

Of course. In some way everyone is superior to everyone else. Search for that way, hone in on it like a laser beam, and it will not be so difficult to treat even opponents with respect. “Disagree without being disagreeable” is the catchphrase today.

But Professor Dawkins does not have this advantage. Much of his tradition would sway him in just the opposite “survival of the fittest” direction. So he must be given credit for his new, somewhat softer, online personality. Possibly someone who has his best interests at heart—perhaps his wife—said, “Richard, you sure do come across as a cantankerous crank on Twitter,” and he deliberately walked it back. It’s commendable.

Now, I don’t think Richard had Jehovah’s Witnesses in mind with his tweet. He probably has formed his views of them through the contributions of their “apostate” contingent, and those views could hardly be blacker. I looked down among his comments to see whether any of those nasties had reared their heads. Perhaps here was an example:

Not entirely true. Extremists usually have their own misinterpretation of scriptures.”

I responded to this one: “If “misinterpretation” results in a religion of peace, perhaps it is not a misinterpretation after all. Perhaps the mainline view is a misinterpretation.” Is that not a no-brainer?

Another one, disagreeing with the above tweet: “Actually no. Most extremists do exactly what is written in their book. ‘Misinterpretation’ is used as an argument by believers that cherry pick morals that fit our secular ethics today.”

I know this type, too. This is the type that finds slavery in the Bible or war in the Old Testament and rails at the “hypocrisy.” I responded to this fellow as well:

Everything has a historical context and to deliberately ignore such context is to be intellectually dishonest. If our side does it to theirs, we never hear the end of it.

He blew up at this reference to context. Evil is evil, he carried on, across all places and time-frames. These characters are very predictable—you could even write their lines for them and not be too far off.

Has “critical thinking” made us all nincompoops? It was once thought the most intelligent thing in the world to consider historical backdrop; one was irresponsible, even deceitful, not to do it. Very well. If he is going to trash, with blinders affixed, the source that I hold dear, I will do the same with his source:

You should turn your critical thinking skills upon Ancient Greece, the definer of it. When time travel is invented, history revisionists will give a friendly wave to American slaveholding forefathers as they race back in time to fetch wicked Greek pedophiles—it was an enshrined value of that world—back in irons.”

He was not chastened by this. Hijacking Twitter as his personal courtroom, he cross-examined:

Is the holding and beating of slaves, as described in Exodus, morally acceptable? Yes or no?

I countered: “Is the raping of children as endorsed by Ancient Greek society morally acceptable? Yes or no?”

Incredibly, he was not dissuaded. “Last chance!” he shot back. “Is the holding and beating of slaves, as described in Exodus, morally acceptable? Yes or no?”

To the blockheads, I became a blockhead.”—Paul (sort of) —1 Corinthians 9:19-22,” I tweeted back: “Two can play the game of obstinacy. Last chance: Is the rape of children—it was enshrined in Ancient Greek society—morally acceptable? Yes or no?”

Then I went away, and when I came back, he had deleted all this tweets so that it was hard for me to reconstruct the thread. However, someone else had pointed out a grave sin I had committed:

Thomas you are guilty of the moral equivalence fallacy.” Am I? I suppose. You can sort of guess by the wording just what that phrase means—I had not heard it before. At least it is in English. I once heard a theologian quip that if there is a Latin phrase and a perfectly clear English phrase that means the same thing, always use the Latin phrase so people will know that you are educated. But my “moral equivalence fallacy” is still is no more than considering historical context, a praiseworthy intellectual technique for all time periods except ours. 

Besides, I actually had posted something about slavery long ago. But it is not a topic so simple that it can be hashed out in a few tweets, and so I declined to go there with this fellow, who would debate all the sub-points. If God corrected every human injustice the moment it manifested itself, there would be nothing left. The entire premise of the Bible is that human-rule is unjust in itself and that God allows a period of time for that to be clearly manifested before bringing in his kingdom—the one referred to in the “Lord’s prayer”—to straighten it all out. In the meantime, the very ones who work themselves into a lather at religion “brainwashing” people are livid that God did not brainwash slavery away once humans settled upon it as a fine economic underpinning.

If Dawkins’s tweet and my response hangs around long enough before burial in the Twitter feed, I would expect some of our malcontents to observe as they did in Russia, where the only evidence of extremism cited is proclaiming “a religious view of supremacy.” Huge protest will come at how Jehovah’s Witnesses practice shunning and thus “destroy” relationships and even family. But views inevitably translate into consequences and policies. Refusal to “come together” with those who insist on diametrically opposed views is hardly the “extremism” of ISIS—and yet the Russian Supreme Court has declared that it is, with the full backing in principle of those from the ex-JW community—the ones who go crusading, which is perhaps 10%.

I’m going to write this up as a post and append it to his thread. Let’s see what happens. Probably nothing, but you never know.

Plus, let’s expand on that particular Watchtower some more. The particular article covered was entitled: “Jehovah Values His Humble Servants” (September 2019 issue—study edition)

Unlike nearly all religious services, Witness meetings are ones that you can prepare for. You can comment during them. They are studies of the sacred book, not just impromptu rap sessions, acquiescencing to ceremony, or sitting through someone else’s sermon. You can prepare for them, and you are benefited, as in any classroom, when you do. The focus here, as it so often is, is on practical application.

Humility draws persons to us. Haughtiness repels them, and thus makes next to impossible the mantra to “come together.”

My own comment, when the time was right, was that haughty people can only accomplish so much—it may be a great deal, for haughty people are often very capable people—but eventually they run up against the fact that nobody else can stand them, and so people are motivated to undercut their ideas, even if they are good ones, out of sheer payback for ugliness. Humble people, on the other hand, may be far less capable individually, but their efforts add up. They know how to cooperate and yield to each other in a way that haughty people do not.

Someone else on that Dawkins thread, an amateur wit, played with that them of unlikely extremists: “Jehova's witnesses are peaceful but their extremists are better extremely annoying...”

Why fight this? It is a viewpoint. Viewpoints are not wrong, because they are viewpoints—right or wrong doesn’t enter into the equation. Better to roll with it. I was indeed on a roll, and so I tweeted back: 

“I will grant that they can be. Still, if you had a choice between a team of JWs approaching your door and a team of ISIS members, you would (hopefully) choose theformer. Those 2 groups, and only those 2 groups are officially declared “extremist” in Russia.”

And with that, I included a link to my ebook, “Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia.” I am shameless in that. No matter how many books I sell, it is not enough. I don’t sell them, anyway. The book is free, a labor of love. It is an application of the theme: “If you have something important to say, don’t hide it behind a paywall.” It is the only, to my knowledge, complete history of events leading up to and beyond the 2017 ban of the Witness organization in Russia.

As to the latest developments there, another one was herded off to prison, who, making the best of a sour situation, or perhaps genuinely finding value there, said: "I want to thank … prosecution. I don't just thank you, but thank you very much, because thanks to you my faith has become stronger … I see I'm on the right path."

Of course. It is unreasonable to oppose so vehemently a people totally honest, hard-working, and given to peace—and yet the Bible says that such will exactly happen. How can it not serve to strengthen faith?

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)

All the Better to Control You With, My Dear

Dear TrueTom: There were only EIGHT humans in that Ark and the rest were dumb animals that were controlled by those EIGHT humans. Um how many members of the Governing Body are there ? Oh yes EIGHT.  And who in control of the Org ? Those EIGHT humans. Does make a person wonder exactly what the Governing Body thinks of all the rest in their Ark. 

Sigh.....you see the questions that I have to deal with? Sometimes I think the best thing I can do with my help desk is to chop it into a thousand pieces, toss it into the river, and make all the Israelites drink from it.

 

Dear Person: You may think that you have done fine detective work, but it falls far short. You call yourself astute?

If you would use the head God gave you and focus, you would note that one GB member is eating a lot to be big as an elephant, one is stretching his neck like a giraffe, another growing stripes like a zebra, yet another shrieks like a macaw, and so forth. 

Look, everyone knows this. Why do you come to the table so ill-equipped in knowledge?

”My, what wolflike teeth you have, grandma”

”All the better to control you with, my dear.”

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)

Anti-Cultists Take Aim at the Scriptures “Controlling” People

Guys my age watch Perry Mason so they can see the old cars. They also like the courtroom drama of Counselor Mason zeroing in to finger just who is the scoundrel. As often as not, it is someone in the audience who jumps  to his or her feet and confesses, even with tears, but sometimes just with hostility:

I did it! But I didn’t mean to hurt him. I just wanted to change his mind, but he wouldn’t take....I didn’t (sob) mean to hurt him!”

or

I did it! That rotter had it coming! Yes, I did it! And I’d do it again!”

That doesn’t actually happen in a real courtroom. Nor does it happen that the witness himself confesses under Mason’s relentless questioning.

I checked you story, and it’s a lot of hot air! Didn’t you just make it up to hide the fact that you killed Mr. So-and-So yourself?”

”Yes! Yes, I killed him! (sob) But I never meant to hurt him! (or: “He was a good-for-nothing rotter! He needed killing! I did what was necessary!”)

No. Doesn’t happen in a real courtroom. The defense lawyer (which Perry Mason is) just works to get his client off. It’s not his problem who did the deed. Still, we forgive the show these excesses. It makes for good drama—not gripping by today’s standards—but acceptable entertainment to have running in the background.

It takes itself seriously, though. Check out this statement:

“When both sides properly prepare a case, the adversary system can effectively guarantee the revelation of all the facts bearing on an issue. The more experience you have with it, the more you’ll find it a surprisingly scientific method of trial preparation.” — Perry Mason.  (Season 5, Ep 13 The Case of the Renegade Refugee)

Come now, that is not a religious statement? Thrust upon us by a new world of “science” that has despaired of finding impartial judges the like of Exodus 18:26: “capable men fearing God, trustworthy men hating dishonest profit?”

The reason they are hard to find is that the world embraces values to the contrary. Not so in the Christian organization. I will take the congregation justice system any day, which only deals with the spiritual matters that are of no concern of secular courts. But a hostile world tries to reframe some of these spiritual matters as grist for the legal machine.

Such was the case a few years back with a Canadian man, disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation, who sued over it. Disfellowshipping is the last ditch measure of discipline, to be employed after all else has failed, so that those claiming to be members of the congregation hold to the moral standards that they signed on for. This fellow lost a lot of business as a real estate agent and he blamed the congregation for it. The Supreme Court declined to intervene in the internal affairs of religious beliefs and dismissed the case, but lesser courts had sided with him.

What is happening is that those who refuse discipline are airing their complaints to a world that downplays, if not despises, discipline and thereby finding common sympathy. The apostle John says it well: “They originate with the world; that is why they speak what originates with the world and the world listens to them.” (1 John 4:5)

It brings to mind the trademark of those describe in 2 Peter as “apostate”—they “despise authority.” They will not be held accountable for their actions.

You don’t think that those who come out on the short end of the world’s court system don’t also complain about how they were abused and unjustly sold down the river? It is human nature to do so in a system that downplays responsibilities and upplays rights.

The effort today is to hinder those wanting to stay separate from the world—ideally, even making it illegal to do so. Several Bible statements would outrage the “anti-cult”-driven legal climate of today:

“But now I am writing you to stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.” (1 Corinthians 5:11). The Bible writer would be challenged legally today for trying to “control” people; who is he to tell them who they can eat with?

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For the one who says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” (2 John 10)  Ditto. He is “controlling people.” Let them greet whoever they want, even those whom HE finds “wicked.”

“It is necessary to shut their mouths, because these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they should not for the sake of dishonest gain.” (Titus 1:11) Oh? It is “necessary” to restrict someone’s free speech for the sake of “enforcing” your religion? See you in court, Paul.

From time to time, the earthly organization rewords something—like the disfellowshipping announcement or the questions for baptism—to make clear that members are voluntarily adhering to Bible counsel rather than, as opposers try to present it, suffering the bullying of an “evil” “oppressive” “corporation.” It may fail in this one day, because the intent of those hostile to Christianity is to make the Bible verses themselves illegal, or at least make it illegal for anyone to actually follow them.

The goal is to deprive Christians of organization. That way they can more easily be assimilated into the greater word. This is framed hypocritically, even obnoxiously, as an attempt to liberate them. It is no more better realized today than in Russia, where Jehovah’s Witnesses are not illegal, but only their organization is. ‘It’s not the foot-soldier they want to kill off. It’s only the generals that must go. That way the foot-soldier can more easily switch sides—and he will be all the happier for it,’ so the thinking goes. Of course, a scheme so devious cannot be comprehended by the average person, and so whatever local authorities there are who don’t like Witnesses simply feel free to beat up on them.

....

It is far far far easier—and thus more alluring—to tear down than it is to build up. However, it is more noble to do the latter.

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)