I Will Miss the Zoom Meetings
June 10, 2020
Let nobody say that our chairman at the Zoom meeting does not have a sense of humor. His virtual backdrop for introducing the meeting was the Kingdom Hall platform—he seemed to be at the speaker stand. I thought it was real. But for the talk and Watchtower study, his backdrop became as though seated in the front row listening—he the only one present, so that even I began to see through the ruse.
Admit it. After the recent chaos of protests escalating to riots—throngs pouring onto the streets as though a coiled spring held down for weeks of quarantine suddenly released—and you know the underlying issues will not be fixed because they never are—was not the Zoom meeting refreshing? The public talk at our Hall was: Do You Harbor Resentment or Do You Forgive? and the Watchtower study: Love One Another Intently. Both represent aspects of “divine education” that, if you don’t have them, you will see most of your works fall apart—as most of the works of the greater world do.
Say what you will about organization, the Witness organization instantly got its head around an entirely new format so that “not forsaking our meeting together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you see the day drawing near,” (Hebrews 10:24) could continue without a hiccup. It turns out that the give and take of the Watchtower Study in which anyone can participate, and is encouraged to do so, perfectly adapts to Zoom. This cannot be said of the typical ‘church’ service which consists of a preacher preaching to those in the pews, without feedback and thus lacking the element of fellowship.
I truly appreciate the quick adaptation and the efforts made to train persons in each congregation—many not at all technically savvy—to serve as hosts, assistants, and what not. The task is huge because villains were determined to horn in—like Vic Vomodog—so that he could disrupt the way he always does.
It is not just Vomodog and JWs. It is any riffraff disrupting any Zoom meeting. Bad news people are anywhere—the lecture of one Holocaust survivor was ‘Zoom-bombed’ with images of Hitler. But the Zoom founder is by all accounts a humble guy. He doesn’t make excuses. He says he should have been on top of things more and hires a ton of top-notch talent from places like Google to patch all concerns. Most people would say that if you opened your restaurant and everyone in the world dropped in for a hamburger and you hadn’t planned on that many, you ought not beat yourself up over it too much, but he does, at least publicly.
The breakout Zoom room feature adapts to hanging out after the meeting better than does even the actual physical meeting, imo. You are thrown in at random with congregation members, whereas at the physical you tend to gravitate toward this one or away from that one who is not your most bosom buddy; always there is some chemistry at work—but do it on Zoom and it is not so. There you are, face to face with Brother Lout, so you gingerly exchange some remarks, and discover he is not such a lout after all.
Also, the elders, who may confer with each other over congregation matters directly after the meeting, cannot do so. Too bad for them, because they will have to do it later, but good for everyone else in that they get to chum around with them more. And good news for them as well, really, because this way they get to better know the appearance the flock. I remember from my eldering days one brother that came straight from Bethel, already an elder, so his appointment simply had to transfer, who frustrated all the other elders because he was never available for that “brief elders’s meeting” after the Hall meeting—you could never pull him away from the friends. Now he is having the last laugh.
No, Zoom does not disagree with me. I will be a little sorry to see it go, and I suspect that it will not go in its entirety. This is despite a video making the rounds of Hitler hearing a report from his underlings that citizens can’t understand it. “Just call them and explain how it works,” he says with a distracted air. His minions look at each other with trepidation. “We have, mien fuhrer, but they still don’t understand.” Hitler glares, slowly removes his glasses, his trembling hand betraying his building rage. He orders everyone out of the room except the hosts, co-hosts, and attendants. “My grandmother knows how to use Zoom,” he begins, temper quickly rising to boil, “you just type in the username and password!!!”
Then he screeches a tirade that only Hitler could screech, as his underlings overhear in the hall with concern and the hosts before him stand petrified. “People hold the camera at stomach height, and they present as though with huge belly and tiny pinhead! We have people and we don’t even know who they are! Who is ‘Galaxy Tab 25? They turn their mike on when it is not their turn to speak and I hear them yelling at their husbands! I don’t want to see their cat, and I don’t want to see piles of their dirty laundry! And they sit with shirt and tie, and get up, and they are in their underwear!!!!”
With that he breaks down with, “When can we go back to the Kingdom Hall?”
It’s not just Witnesses. In the opening days of Covid 19, I read of some medical gathering. “Many of the participants are not familiar with technology” a tweet said, “and well into the program someone said of the host, ‘This guy’s a f**king idiot!’” which effectively shut down the conference.
It was probably some irreverent brother who created the Witness video—maybe even an ex-JW. Ought you really liken the one overseeing the meetings to Hitler? It is too much like the British soldier in ‘The Fortress’ who opines as to whether the devious colonist enemy will launch an attack: “Oh, they’ll come, without a doubt,” he mutters. “Like flies to dung, they will come,” oblivious to how he has just likened His Royal Majesty’s Navy to dung.
But it doesn’t matter—who cares?—the video is hilarious. These days, if you can’t convince your opponent, it is because he is “arrogant.” If even that does not sway him, then it can only be that he is “like Hitler.” That is just the way people are. It may not even be an ex-Witness—just 20 years after the Evil One went down, the Nazis were thought fine grist for the Hogan’s Heroes mill—a sit-com that lasted many seasons, in which the camp Nazis were lovable buffoons (though the outside-the-camp ones were nasty buffoons).
The only reason I advance the notion in the first place is that I know the “Superpioneer” clip was produced by ‘apostate’ youngsters—though maybe they only became ‘apostate’ afterwards. Come now, can we agree that to call them ‘apostate’ is to cheapen the word?—“I know that kid,” my daughter had said of one of them. They are just our version of what youngsters have done since the beginning of time: kids who rebel against their upbringing, and largely for the same reason—their upbringing was too “restrictive” and their parents were “square.” Even “monogamous marriage” has gone the way of the dinosaur to ones sucked into the independent world, to say nothing of other modes of sexual life.
When Mrs. Harley and I homeschooled the children, and we picked up the 20-record anthology collection of the great musicians, I was surprised at how many of them had been ostracized by their fathers for not going into law or anything deemed more substantial than music. It was even so in Ken Burns’s documentary series, ‘Country Music.’ Kris Kristopherson was cut off (notified by letter) from his high-brow family for turning his back on the course they’d charted for him and devoting himself to honky-took ditties. “Always a joy to receive a letter from home, isn’t it?” Johnny Cash said to him. So children who sour on the nest in which they were raised is hardly unique to Witnesses—more have shared in that circumstance than not.
Seriously—look it up if you can—“Superpioneer”—it is hilarious. “I know you’re busy, so I’ll be brief” Superpioneer says, after walking directly into machine gun fire unharmed. He finishes up a nice Bible discussion with the terrorists, having placed literature, as they wave good-bye, calling out “dukka-dukka” in a sing-song manner—the only words any of them know—change the inflection and it can mean anything—in fact, it is the same “dukka dukka dukka dukka dukka that is their machine gun fire. Watch the video—not from my blog because (I checked) my link is now inoperative and it was not important enough to update. But the original can still be found somewhere. Watch it—nothing wrong with it all all. Only beware of the following YouTube Video—it’s Vic Vomodog! in his most droning tone, expounding upon ‘Fifty Ways to Leave your JW Lover.’