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If the Main Bethel Was in the East and Not in the West

If the Main Bethel was in the east and not the west:

Maybe theocratic warfare would not be so much like John-Wayne—hardening your forehead so the lout throwing a punch breaks his fist on it, a la Ezekiel:

Look! I have made your face exactly as hard as their faces and your forehead exactly as hard as their foreheads. Like a diamond, harder than flint, I have made your forehead” (Ezekiel 3:8-9)

Why should everyone have hard heads? Maybe they should be more like those of eastern martial arts—duck the punch and the big slob’s own momentum sends him hurtling off-balance—as he stumbles by kick him in the rear end.

You’re better off yielding than resisting. “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath,” says Paul at Romans 12:19.

Take for example, the charge—detractors say it all the time—that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the highest rate of mental illness of all Christian religions. How in the world are you going to prove or disprove that—at a time when pharma has succeeded in putting 1 out of every 3 Americans on some form of anti-depressant? Drive by the psych ward of the hospital and look inside. Are they all our people in there? No. Usually, there is nobody at all, but sometimes there is one.

Don’t be the western scrapper who says it couldn’t possibly be so. Be the eastern scrapper who embraces it. Say: “Well, maybe you have a point,” and then observe that, if true, Luke 5:31 would account for it: “In reply Jesus said to them: ‘Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are ill do.’” Is he speaking of tuberculosis? Or is mental distress, such as might accompany anguish over the ills of this world and the blame assigned to God for it more to the point? The ones you should worry about are those who are not greatly troubled by the stressors of life today—those who sail blithely through the injustices and cruelties without a care in the world.

What about when the scoundrels say: “If you look at the ‘turnover’ among JWs, you find it is one of the biggest turnovers of all religions.” Don’t say: “No way!” Say: “What do you expect? There is a cost to being a disciple of Christ. Why bother leaving a faith that asks nothing of you? Besides, a high attrition rate is easily offset by the high participation rate of those who stick. After all, with many faiths, people might not actually leave, but how would you know if they did?”

Use the blaggard’s weight against him—it is key to every Eastern martial art—it can work for JWs, too. Take the origins of Christianity. It is plainly a working-class religion, and as to it’s early leaders? “Uneducated and ordinary,” says Acts 4:13 (“untaught and ignorant”—KJV) This is embarrassing to Western religionists. If acknowledged at all (I had never heard it before becoming a Witness) it is treated as an obstacle overcome. “They may have started low, but look how they pulled themselves up!” is the attitude in vogue, thus taking for granted that more secular education is the cure for whatever ails one. 

The clergy of many faiths bristle with degrees—they are considered essential as a qualification. The degrees require a broad command of the “humanities.” They often even require an examination of their own topic through the lens of critical thinking, ensuring that faith will lose out, since the two are opposed. A case in point is a series of talks I have been listening to from the Great Courses company entitled: “From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity.” The speaker is Bart Ehrman, Chair of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he with a Masters of Divinity degree. You’d almost think that the Chair of a Religious Department would believe in God, but he does not appear to. If I took a science course taught by one who thought Newton and Einstein were well intentioned but misguided zealots, I would smell a rat.

Questions for Study at the conclusion of one lecture includes: “Why do you suppose such people as Perpetua or Ignatius—who presumably had so much to offer people in this world and who could have no doubt led happy lives here—were so eager to sacrifice their bodies and leave this world?”

Thus he seems to demonstrate that he is clueless on the gist what he teaches. The entire motivation of a Christian appears a totally foreign concept to him, notwithstanding that he is recognized as the smartest person in the room.

Another case in point, which I have not yet expanded upon, though I mean to, is the New York Times review of Amber Scorah’s book—a review written by a faculty member of Harvard Divinity School. It seems pretty clear that this reviewer is an atheist. Don’t you go to Harvard Divinity School because you want to learn about God?

A third case in point—and a minor one—is those few elective courses I took in religion from my own college days. The professor was a retired Baptist clergyman. I can hear him chuckling now about how at Divinity School, the Gospel of John was called the Gospel to the Idiots on account of it’s simple language. The early disciples might be “untaught and ignorant,” but the educated clergy would run rings around them.

Another project for one of his classes was to write a paper about “entering into God’s rest” and how there “remains a Sabbath for the people of God,” as written in Hebrews chapter 4. What was that passage supposed to mean? I ended up taking most of my paper from Watchtower publications. I didn’t want to. It was against the rules to rely on any one “sectarian” source. But I found that I couldn’t help it. None of the other suggested sources made any sense to me. They all struck me as pointless pontificating. 

This would have been in my senior year, and during the summer recess before, I had been introduced to the Bible study of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had the sense of the puzzle picture coming together and was beginning to glimpse the mountain vista on the box cover. I had no patience for the logical machinations of those whose presentation made clear that their puzzle lay unassembled in the box on their closet shelf. I might have more patience with it today—probably would.

No. Don’t go groveling over the education that those early Christians didn’t have but which is now thought essential. Tell them to show us the magnificent world that their brand of education has collectively produced before we start fawning over it. Christianity started off as a working class religion. It still is and the leaders of the faith among Jehovah’s Witnesses are still as they were then—“untaught and ordinary.” Don’t hide your head in shame over it. Embrace it. When the “educated” people come along and say: “Okay, here we are, we’ll take it from here,” tell them to take a hike.

(to be continued)

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