Previous month:
May 2020
Next month:
July 2020

Witnesses Decline to Take Part in the National Redress Program

The announcement that Jehovah’s Witnesses will not sign on to the national redress plan of Australia provoked the instant wrath of some. However, I rather liked the Witnesses’s reasoning.
 

“The Jehovah's Witnesses said the religion does not have the institutional settings that the voluntary redress scheme is designed to cover and it will not join,” said The Murray Valley Standard.

"The Jehovah's Witnesses have not sponsored any programs or activities that separate children from their parents at any time," it said in a statement to AAP.

The statement said the Jehovah's Witnesses did not operate boarding or Sunday schools, did not have youth groups, choirs or sponsor any programs for children, nor run youth centres.

"Jehovah's Witnesses simply do not have the institutional settings that result in children being taken into their care, custody, supervision, control or authority."

Less than 10 redress scheme applicants have referred to the Jehovah's Witnesses, it said.

"Jehovah's Witnesses have responded and will continue to respond directly to individual claims for redress in a caring, fair, and principled manner, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each claim.

"The religion of Jehovah's Witnesses also provides spiritual comfort and assistance to child abuse victims and their families."

Now—do not misunderstand—my comment only comments on what it comments on. It makes no judgment—pro or con—on Watchtower interaction with those members who have suffered child sexual abuse. Do they fill the bill or not? I don’t go there. It’s for another post. I speak only to the government plan to lump in as one dozens of organizations for their “mutual sins”—sins the Watchtower organization does not have.

How many groups did the ARC look at? Was it not 30 - 40? Every one of them involved some program in which children were separated from parents as a condition of participation. Separation was necessary for participation, and in the case of government schools, mandated by law. It seems reasonable that if you sponsor a youth group and/or even require children to congregate, you have a greater responsibility to provide a safe environment for them.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they alone, so far as I can see, of the scrutinized groups, have never had any such program. They ought not be lumped into the same basket of mutual culpability with those that do. Actually, from the article, it seems that very few are signing on—just a sporting organization or two were cited.

Of course, this comment of mine was not taken lying down. Let us call the succeeding person “John,” an ex-Witness, a vociferous opponent.

John: “I've been on the ministry in the past and a child has actually asked to be with me on the doors. I've declined as I think children should be with their parents.” 

Are there situations in which an adult might come into contact with a child not his own? Of course there are. Your own experience testifies to one. But they are the sort of incidental thing that could happen anywhere—if your child frequents the home of a friend and it turns out that friend’s dad is a pervert, for example. 

There was a time when my father-in-law, a man with little formal education, asked elders to study with his high school son so maybe they could help him reconcile evolution vs creation and such things that he, the father-in-law, had no experience with. The elders said no—it was for him to study with his own son. It may not have even been a wise decision, but the point is there is no program for elders to wrestle children away from their own parents.

The typical abuse case among Witnesses involves the misconduct of congregation members—often members within a step-family. The culpability of the organization, if there is one, is that elders left it to the disgression of the aggrieved parties to report it. The culpability of the other groups is for systemically separating children from the parents and then allowing someone in authority to abuse them. The two courses are different enough that they ought not be included as though two peas in a pod.

The only point I made in the prior post, John, was that groups that insist upon separating children from parents and then fail to protect them ought to be held to more stringent standards than those that do not. There is nothing wrong with that point. It makes perfect sense. That is not to say it covers everything.

John: Elders take young children, that are not their own children, on the ministry. Older brothers ans sisters do likewise. Brothers or sisters take children, that are not their own, to meetings in their cars.

Of course it has happened, and still does—though in view of persons like yourself who want to stunt children by suggesting any adult contact with a child other than its own is perverted, they do it less and with much more discretion. Always in the situations you describe, it happens with full approval of the parent, and often at their request. I’ll give you an example:

My wife and I were in the ministry, along with a sister with her two children—ages probably 2 and 4. We’re all going at a snail’s pace, working in and out of the car, on account of the children. The sister, too, needs adult encouragement—she doesn’t get out all that much—and that’s why the “righteous” solution you might hit on: ‘Work with your wife, and let her work alone with her two kids,’ does not work. 

When I am alone in the car with the two-year-old, and my wife, the sister, and her older child are all working together, I get impatient to do another door or two. “C’mon, Seth,” I swoop the kid up, “Let’s take a door!” I ring the bell and a woman answers. I tell her I am working with my friend Seth (whom I am carrying), and “he wants to show a video to you.” I thumb through a few Caleb and Sophia cartoon videos on my IPad, ask Seth which one did he have in mind, and act as though it is he who has made the decision. Meanwhile, the woman seems bemused by this—she’s playing along—it doesn’t happen all the time. We play the video, she views it attentively, Seth even more so because he knows them all well—they are tools for child-training, and when it is all done, I thank her, acknowledging “You’re a sport,” and we take our leave. I had the feeling that she was playing along simply for the child’s sake, and I stopped in sometime later to discover that I was right. I still reaffirmed that she was a good sport.

Now, I know child’s the mother well. I know the chemistry. This was not a stranger’s child. I know you are probably dying to make a molestation scene out of this, but anyone not completely warped in their own values will instantly see if for what it is—a win-win-win for the child, the householder, and me—and even another win if you include God, for it is advancing the ministry.

(Backtracking)

John: I've been on the ministry in the past and a child has actually asked to be with me on the doors. I've declined as I think children should be with their parents. 

Why in the world would you not agree to this?—unless there is some twisted background that you are not conveying. I would do it in a heartbeat if a child asked it of me, and I knew the parents would have no objection. Do you think you are proving yourself virtuous by your all but criminalizing contact between adults and their non-offspring? Do you think the interests of the world’s children are advanced by the Boy Scouts of America driven into bankruptcy as consequence and retribution for the injuries inflicted upon a handful of children? The Boy Scouts take you out camping. They teach you how to tie knots. They teach responsibility. “Eagle scout projects” are seen everywhere in my area—deeds of civic enhancement, education, historical illumination, ecological projects—deeds that are not likely to be done otherwise. They provide opportunities for children growing up that parents will most likely not be able to provide. And now your type deprive them of that by bankrupting the organization—all the time as you bask in a narrative about how you are ‘protecting children.’

You suggest all contact with a non-related child is wrong, even twisted, and then you think you are doing the village of children a favor? Back in JoePa days—American example, you may not know of it in Britain, when a man outstanding for molding generations of youth was suddenly destroyed because in a certain instance, he did not go “beyond the law” to penalize something he didn’t know was happening—a former coach of youth sports, Bob Cook, wrote: “The most upsetting thing about many child-protection rules is they assume any adult is capable of doing something bad. If you think of yourself as a good person, and the people around you as good people, you can’t help but be taken aback. You can’t help but think a wall has been put between yourself, the children you coach, and the families you deal with. It’s a wall that seems patently ridiculous when, in the case of the Catholics involved in my Virtus meeting, were tight-knit, south side Chicago parishes where families had known each other for generations.”

 

It may well be an example of the verse: “All things are clean to clean people; but to those who are defiled and faithless, nothing is clean, for both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Nothing seems clean to some, who would act in such a way as to penalize generations of children from the adult interaction that helps them grow into balanced adults themselves.

I do understand the goal of stamping out child sexual abuse. I do agree that few things are as wicked. I do acknowledge that smoking these ones out is difficult. I do agree, particularly in view of the now commonly acknowledged damage done to a child victim, that punishments ought to be harsh. I agree to all these things. But all society ought not be destroyed in order to attain that goal, for the ones who will collectively suffer the most are the children. John Holt, the homeschooling pioneer, used to maintain that a driving factor of juvenile delinquency is children being shut out of the adult world under the guise of protecting them—and this is well before CSA was on anyone’s radar—he was speaking of the overapplication of child labor laws.

I surprised myself for getting into this thread so. I hadn’t intended to. I literally wrote the book on this topic of JW CSA accusations, with ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!—numerous chapters are on the topic, and I think there is not another like collection anywhere.

It covers events up to the initial verdict against JWs in Montana, and has not been updated to include that verdict being thrown out. Maybe there will be a “Round 2” or maybe I will tack additional chapters on Round 1: At any rate, I’ve done my share on this and did not intend to involve myself much beyond—because the topic will never be dropped, and there are other things to explore. But your demented notion of ‘nothing being clean’ draws me in despite myself.

 
 

 

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)

Sympathy for ‘Sympathy for the Devil’

“Sympathy for the Devil? No. I don’t like that fellow. He makes a lot of trouble. I’m not listening to no song that has sympathy for the devil.“

That was my sentiment for 50 years. It will still be my sentiment, but not so much, until my grave—which maybe will not arrive anytime soon, and if I play my cards right and the ducks line up, maybe not at all. Funny how you can live life as though the system may end tomorrow, and also as though it may not end before your natural death. Yikes! Cognitive dissonance! I hate that stuff!

Nah—cognitive dissonance is a topic worthy of a pamphlet, perhaps, but no more. It is what used to be called, ‘Coming to grips with the fact that you don’t know everything.’ People used to be able to do that without their heads shorting out—before ‘critical thinking’ became all the rage.

“You will still dislike the song, but ‘not so much’ Tom?” You going warm and fuzzy on the Devil these days? No. I still don’t like him. But somewhere along the road I came to recognize that ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ the Rolling Stones song, is not really about sympathy for the Devil. It is about exposure of him.

For years I refused to listen to the song. For years I slapped it down if it reared up on the radio, and later skipped it over if Pandora served it up. I still will, of course, at least if in anyone’s hearing. “Wow, brothers—great song! Sympathy for the Devil! I love it! Let’s give it a listen—right here at the congregation picnic!”—can I picture myself saying that? No. There is stuff that you tuck out of sight when the respectable people come calling. I always did that with the Keith Richards/Mick Jagger song. It’s a little too bad, because if you like rock music, you really can’t do better than The Rolling Stones. On the other hand, there’s a lot of music—you don’t have to chug down everything that comes down the pipe;

The song exposes the works of the Devil nearly as well as the Bible itself—in fact, better—if we are going for specifics and exclusive focus—that is, not being diluted by anything else. The obscenities of history—the Devil’s behind them all. He’s pulling the strings.

A fellow with the handle “Apollyon911” says of the song, that Satan is “implicating humanity for the evil they have committed” and “expresses glee for the crucifixion and other atrocities that he helped orchestrate”—Hitler’s reign, murder of the czar, murder of the Kennedy’s. “He is a ‘man of wealth and taste’...just as the SS had impeccable manners, listened to Wagner and drank fine wine, there is a powerful desire to be impressive...to be admired (or, more to the point, worshipped).”

What is the polar opposite circumstance that triggered for me memories of this song? It was this verse from Isaiah and a subsequent video included in the mid-week JW meetings during June 2020–a video on highlighting God’s name in the countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. “I am Jehovah. That is my name,” says Isaiah 42:8 (NWT). But the King James Version, and the majority of translations, say, “I am the LORD. That is my name.” How can translators be so dense? “The LORD” is a name? What’s with the all-caps?

You don’t translate the tetragrammaton as “The LORD.” The first is clearly a distinctive name—the name God gives himself—a name that makes clear his power to transform: “He causes to become.” The second is no more than a title, gussied up with all-caps, but clearly a title. Sometimes I call people’s attention to Psalm 110:1 to expose this idiocy: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a tool for your feet.’” Who is talking to who? Why is one Lord all caps and the other not? There is a Charlton Heston movie—I think it is ‘The Ten Commandments’—in which the Israelites are distressed early on because “We don’t even know our God’s name.” Later on, they are as happy as pigs in mud, for they have learned it: it is ‘The LORD’—how much sense does that make?

Even Mick Jagger knows better. “Pleased to meet you—hope you guess my name,” his devil says—and later in the song he gives his name! It is not ‘The DEVIL.”—it is ‘Lucifer!’ Now, as it turns out, ‘Lucifer’ is not a name either; it is a translation of the Hebrew word “hehlel’ and means “shining one.” But the intent is there—Jagger has his head screwed on straight. He knows that if you say Satan has a name, you don’t tell people it is SATAN. And if God has a name, you don’t say it is The LORD. He has put his name in scripture nearly 7,000 times. You don’t think he might be a little peeved that churchmen paper it over, essentially taking it out? Wouldn’t you—if you wrote the most beautiful letter that people sighed in delight over and praised it for its beauty—after crossing out your name, as though it were a putrid thing?

Richards and Jagger are more on to matters of truth than they know. Sign them up for the Kingdom Hall! Of course, they’ll have to clean up their acts first. They can’t quite carry on the way they do, can they? But having declared a “been there, done that—time to move on,” let them do one of the ‘original songs.’ Why—with their background, let them even do two! Seriously. Prince did this—cleaned up his act—whereupon they let him do an original song. Well—they didn’t, actually, they slapped his hand when he tried to rework their own—but they would have today. I wrote up a nice chapter on Prince. It heads the book ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ and is even in the free preview section. You don’t think that I would do the same for Mick and Keith if only they would behave a bit more?

These guys are on to something with their ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ even if they don’t nail every little detail. They do better than Apollyon911–he has a little too much ‘churchiness’ in him. The reason I had to quote excerpts from him and not the entirety is that he screws it up in part—whereas the Stone’s song I can let stand untouched. Apollyon says in full:

While Satan is clearly implicating humanity for the evil they have committed, he is not absolving himself. He expresses glee for the crucifixion and other atrocities that he helped orchestrate (not realizing, until it was too late, that Christ’s Crucifixion – and Resurrection, were all part of God’s Plan).

He is a ‘man of wealth and taste’. This does not simply mean he is sophisticated. He does not deny his evil but, just as the SS had impeccable manners, listened to Wagner and drank fine wine, there is a powerful desire to be impressive (and perhaps, in the case of humans, to deny the evil they commit). He wants to be admired (or, more to the point, worshipped).

Satan or, as he prefers to be called, Lucifer, his pre-Fall name, is also warning mankind to treat him with respect or he will destroy us. As Martin Luther (the Reformer) noted: ‘Satan cannot bear to be mocked’.

Satan is not denying he is the author of evil. He is merely implicating mankind and also emphasizing his power.

Satan, the Devil, is the Father of Lies and this is implied when he talks about ‘lay[ing] your soul to waste’. Satan does not have full authority over mankind. Only what is allowed by God (his Creator). But, Satan wants us to believe he has all power.

Well, maybe it’s not so bad. But isn’t it a little too glib on how things like the Holocaust is “part of God’s Plan?” (capitalized, no less, though it includes the Holocaust!) It reminds me of the time I passed the church billboard that read “‘Don’t Worry, I’m in Charge’—God” Two days later planes flew into the twin towers in New York City, and I began to wonder if that stupid sign was still there. I returned to read the modified version: “God Bless America.” Had the priest swapped the letters at 3 AM, hoping no one would see him? Even the new didn’t fit. Would you have carried on about God’s blessing in the big city at the time?

What Apollyon downplays is that Satan, not God, is described as the “ruler of this system of this world.” Satan is the one who is “blinding the minds of the unbelievers.” Satan is the one who is “misleading the entire inhabited earth”—that covers a lot of territory!—so it seems that Apollyon might expound at least a little on how Satan has managed to hijack the world God created. He doesn’t do this because he doesn’t know—all he can do is offer up some muddled alteration: “‘Don’t worry (much), I’m in charge, even if it seems I am sleeping at the switch’—God.” No. It won’t do. Satan is the “ruler of this world,” says the Bible repeatedly. (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Revelation 12:9)

Jagger and Richards nail it, but they don’t go far enough. Jesus has come to “break up the works of the Devil,” 1 John 3:8 says. The first thing you do in breaking up the works of the Devil is to expose them. If they went far enough they would come to the indictment of Babylon the Great, the party identified by Jehovah’s Witnesses as “the world empire of false religion.” “Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Revelation 18:24) Of all those? Yes, for it is not just the acts of commission we speak of, but it is far more for the acts of omission. Had religion trained its members to be peaceable, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do theirs, they would have held their ground when the king tried enlist them in his latest war; they would have “paid Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God”—they would have told Hitler to take a hike, as Jehovah’s Witnesses in Axis lands did. That Babylon the Great has been so negligent is why it can be fingered for the blood of all.

The Daily Text under consideration for Friday, June 26, was John 16:2. “The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he has offered a sacred service to God.​.” The commentary included: “How ironic that in committing such evil crimes as murder, religious fanatics violate the very laws of the One whom they claim to worship! Clearly, their consciences are treacherous guides! How can we prevent our conscience from becoming ineffective? The laws and principles contained in God’s Word are “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Therefore, by diligently studying the Bible, meditating on what it says, and applying it in our lives, we can train our conscience to be more sensitive to God’s thinking, and it can thus serve as a reliable guide.”

We hear the remark all the time that so and so will be guided by his or her conscience—and it sounds good, it plays well—how can anyone go wrong if he listens to his conscience? But as history demonstrates time and time again, the local king and the prevailing mindset is more than a match for any conscience. That conscience must be trained by God’s thinking—otherwise it will be trained by Satan’s. We ought not be as “children, tossed about as by waves and carried here and there by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in deceptive schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14) It requires training in God’s thinking to stand firm. Had religion not so quickly bent over for the sake of anything claiming to be “science,” it might still be able to draw upon Genesis as a credible source to explain some of the deeper questions that science cannot touch. Had religion held fast to its core, it would not find itself acquiescing, to various degrees,—sometimes only partially, and sometimes completely—to the humanist and Satanic lie that humans are capable of self-rule.

Mick and Keith are on to it—they even nail the too-frequent reversal of roles, with their, “Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints”—but they still haven’t gone far enough. They even nail the “refinement” of those under Satan’s influence, who may very well be men “of wealth and taste”—but they still don’t go far enough. They still deserve an honorable mention, not me burning their record. I’ll burn it anyway, for—let’s face it—‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is not really a kingdom song, is it? But they deserve better. Ah, well—there are greater injustices. There are bigger fish to fry. I’ll stick with the other songs on the Martin Scorsese movie ‘Shine a Light’—which is the Stones in concert—and I’ll reaffirm my favorite scene: that of Buddy Guy standing like a mountain while two of the scrawny Stones buzz around him like gnats, blown away by his fierce guitar work.

 

Please allow me to introduce myself

I'm a man of wealth and taste

I've been around for a long, long year

Stole many a man's soul to waste

And I was 'round when Jesus Christ

Had his moment of doubt and pain

Made damn sure that Pilate

Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guess my name

But what's puzzling you

Is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersburg

When I saw it was a time for a change

Killed the czar and his ministers

Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank

Held a general's rank

When the blitzkrieg raged

And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guess my name, oh yeah

Ah, what's puzzling you

Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

I watched with glee

While your kings and queens

Fought for ten decades

For the gods they made

I shouted out

Who killed the Kennedys?

When after all

It was you and me

Let me please introduce myself

I'm a man of wealth and taste

And I laid traps for troubadours

Who get killed before they reached Bombay

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah

But what's puzzling you

Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah

But what's confusing you

Is just the nature of my game, mm yeah

Just as every cop is a criminal

And all the sinners saints

As heads is tails

Just call me Lucifer

'Cause I'm in need of some restraint

So if you meet me

Have some courtesy

Have some sympathy, and some taste

Use all your well-learned politesse

Or I'll lay your soul to waste, mm yeah

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guessed my name, mm yeah

But what's puzzling you

Is the nature of my game, mm mean it, get down

Oh yeah, get on down

Oh yeah

Oh yeah

Tell me baby, what's my name

Tell me honey, can ya guess my name

Tell me baby, what's my name

I tell you one time, you're to blame

Oh, right

What's my name

Tell me, baby, what's my name

Tell me, sweetie, what's my name

 

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)

Q: Have You Stopped Advertising Your Ebooks?

Hardly.

Obtain your copy now at the link below while the supply lasts:

‘Tom Irregardless and Me’—Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s show some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!

All persons with names like ‘Irregardless’ are real though generally composite. You can meet them in my circuit or even yours. Events related are faithfully depicted except for a few that I’ve made up. Persons with names recognizable from history or current events – you’re nuts! – it’s not those people at all!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/686882

Puts Rolf’s book to shame!”.....Oscar Oxgoad

”A highly entertaining author—especially if you’re not fussy”.....Tom Brexit

Acceptable after a fashion. But his grasp of science is weak, and his critical thinking skills are abominable.”....Bernard Strawman

A pack of lies! I hate it!”.....Vic Vomodog

His chapter on bloodless medicine completely changed my practice.”....Dr Max ‘Ace’ Inhibitor

Mr. Harley works tireless to serve his readers. He has even taken out the typos!”...Wayne Whitepebble

Tom Harley’s Tom Irregardless and Me has been described as “a romping and riotous defense of Jehovah's Witnesses and their place in today’s world.” This really sums up the book, which is a light-hearted look at numerous aspects of the Watch Tower Society from the perspective of a practicing Jehovah’s Witness in the US.

“To the outsider, Jehovah’s Witnesses may seem deadly serious and preoccupied exclusively with their religion and the Society’s own publications. Harley dispels this stereotype. The book is about real people and issues, although the author has changed the names of rank-and-file members to preserve name anonymity. Tom Irregardless is an elder who uses the spurious word “irregardless” liberally in his Bible talks. Other characters include John Wheatnweeds, who hinders members from their house-to-house ministry by spending inordinate amounts of time expounding the text of the day before they set out. Then there is posh brandy-sipping Bernard Strawman, who receives frequent visits from the publishers, but continues to raise facile objections to their faith. Vic Vomidog, an apostate, repeatedly seeks to hamper their work. Other chapters are about real JW celebrities such as Prince, who is the subject of an entire chapter.

“Despite being light-hearted throughout, Tom Harley raises serious issues such as flag salutes, Darwinism and creationism, theocratic government, the paedophile scandals and the dangers of online grooming of minors, and the accuracy of the New World Translation of the Bible. Tom shows a remarkable breadth of knowledge and reading too – he has by no means exclusively studied Watch Tower publications.

“My favourite part of the book was the parody of Mickey Spillane near the end, where Tom Harley envisages a house-to-house publisher acting like one of Spillane’s macho characters. For those who don’t know, Spillane was a novelist whose books were renowned for their sex and violence, until Spillane converted to become a Jehovah’s Witness in 1951 – a decision that drastically changed his writing style.

“Tom Hartley states that he hopes Tom Irregardless is “entertaining but serious at heart”. This sums up the book well. It’s a good read, while providing valuable insights into life as a JW.”....Ivor E. Tower

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)

One Might as Well Collect Hub Caps

If I would leave the book ‘Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?’ with the householder, he’d look it over and tell me what he thought of it next week, he told me. I did. When I returned, it was for a pleasant conversation right there on his doorstep—we both listened to each other’s points, and neither of us gave an inch. Toward the end, he asked why it was so important anyway? What difference did it make how we got here?

I answered that if God had really created the earth and the life on it, he just might have some purpose for it. He just might not stand by idly to see it ruined. On the other hand, if life evolved from nothing as simply a natural process, then if there was any hope for the planet, it lay in human efforts—“and they’re not doing so well.” The man’s wife, who hadn’t said a word during the entire exchange, suddenly found her moment. “That’s a good point,” she said. For once, the law that your best lines always occur to you too late did not hold true.

The line was incomplete, though. If you trash the Genesis account of Adam and Eve—the first three chapters of the book—you discard more than a chance to see light at the end of the tunnel. You lose almost everything of consequence. You lose any possibility of understanding why it is that humans die. You lose any possibility of understanding why a “loving” God would permit suffering and evil. You lose any possibility of understanding just how the death of Christ could benefit you or anyone else—all that remains is a vague and syrupy, “Jesus died because he loves us.” It doesn’t quite cut it for logic, does it?

There used to be a permanent diorama at the local museum of natural history and science entitled Cabinets of Curiosities. Long ago the place expanded and replaced it with dinosaurs—dinosaurs are snazzy, but who doesn’t have them? Cabinets was much more modest in scale, but what it lacked in size it made up for in insight. The exhibit was a collection of stuffed birds, insects, mammals, shells, minerals, plants, leaves, rocks, and so forth. Explaining it all was a sign:

“Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Nature was seen as evidence of God’s work and people believed that studying it would bring them closer to the Creator. Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which replaced God’s role in creating species with natural selection, shook society to it’s foundations.”

So people collected these things. They showed them off. They studied them. They were part of the Book of Nature; they revealed things about God. Prominent scientists of that previous age, Newton, Kepler, Faraday, and Hertz, to name a few, thought of their work in much the same light, as bringing to light how God operated. But people gradually adjusted to Darwinian thinking. Little by little, natural things lost their appeal. One might as well collect hub caps.

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)

A JW Connection With Perry Mason?

Look at how State Prosecutor Hamilton Berger (center) pouts like a little kid when Perry Mason outmaneuvers him, which he always does, because it is his show. Here Hamburger has raised an objection, Perry objected to it, and the judge overruled him. Flustered, isn’t he?

317DFE21-DD4D-4134-B484-EECE787AA5BF

But after the case—he loses every single time—sometimes he will reconnoiter with Perry in the latter’s swank office as though old friends. He will even drop his prosecution mid-trial when Perry’s tightening net prods some poor cornered rat in the gallery to jump his feet—“I did it! I killed him! He had it coming! He cheated at Scrabble all the time!”

“Doesn’t Hamilton tire of getting his clock cleaned every episode?” someone asked William Talman, the actor who played him—he called his record “the longest losing streak in history.” Of course not! he answered. Justice was served—what more could a prosecuting attorney ask for? Overriding ambition with this guy? I think not.

Hamburger disappeared from the show in the 1960s because Talman was arrested for “lewd conduct” and smoking grass at a party. CBS suspended and then fired him, even after a judge threw out the charges! These days a tawdry reputation does nothing to hamper an actor’s career—it may even enhance it—but Perry Mason was from the days of squeaky clean TV. The show endured a series of dud replacements for Prosecuting Attorney before a deluge of letters made CBS hire him back.

Now look at how Hamilton’s right hand man, Lieutenant Tragg, beams with pleasure at the prospect of messing Perry up, here by arresting his client. He disapproves of the crime, I suppose, but it is compensated for by being able to stick it to Perry. He, too, loses every time. He, too, never holds a grudge. He, too, sometimes hashes out the details afterwards in Perry’s swank office.

A8DF7C8C-17CF-44FB-9336-4D5A94983091

Ray Collins was the actor that played Tragg. He took on the role in his late 60s, and it would be his final role. With fading health and memory, he filmed his last Perry Mason in early 1964. Everyone knew he would not be returning, but the producer knew he watched the show every night and kept his name in the opening title sequence so as not to make him feel bad. That, too, like Talman getting fired, is not something that I think would happen today. Is this another bookends of a different age scenario—one bookend in seemly times and its mate in one unseemly?

My wife and I have rediscovered Perry during Covid 19 time, maybe even before. We like a good whodunnit, of course—who doesn’t? But the trouble with a whodunnit is that somebody has always dunnit, and these days they do with with blood splashing the screen. Murders in Perry Mason are kinder, gentler, friendly killings—they just drop without undue fuss. Half the time you don’t even see the killing—they’re already dead when Tragg or someone comes across them. It is another seemly-unseemly contrast.

Is it true that Jehovah’s Witnesses HQ gets a nickel each time you watch a Perry Mason episode? Maybe. Erle Stanley Gardner, the show’s creator, married his long time secretary after his first wife died. That secretary is supposedly the inspiration for Della Street, Perry’s super-capable TV secretary, who was always taking on extra missions to save the day. The real-life secretary was a Witness—just when she became one is hard to track down. She survived Erle and at age 88 was still administering his estate, which included a huge archive. When she died at 102, did she leave anything to her charity of choice? I’ve heard she did.

But it is hard to track down. Actually, I used to be able to, but an article that flat-out stated the connection has disappeared—is it behind a paywall? Dunno. It is for someone else to tease out if they are so inclined. I’m pretty sure it is so—I’m not usually wrong on these things except for when I am mistaken. At any rate, you can’t count your time watching the show, so don’t even ask.

Ray Collins died of emphysema at age 75. William Talman was 53 when he died of lung cancer in 1968. It was nothing to see any actor of the day lighting up a cigarette. Talman was the first Hollywood actor to film an antismoking public service announcement, not to be aired until after his death. He was by then pretty sure he would lose his battle with cancer. “Take some advice about smoking and losing from someone who’s been doing both for years... If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit!” I am reminded of how the JW organization in 1973, persuaded by the growing evidence that tobacco use was one of those 2 Corinthians 7:1 defilements of flesh, decreed it unacceptable for Witnesses who wished to remain in good standing. Just how many lives did they save in doing that?

Perry Mason the series ran eight years, from 1957 - 1965. I remember it, but I was too young to take much interest. My wife remembers that her mom never missed an episode. Netflix users as late as 2014 still rate Raymond Burr, who played Perry, as their favorite actor.

Roughly speaking, Matlock is the equivalent of Perry Mason. It is a legal drama of 20 years later with an equally engaging star—Andy Griffith. It is just as entertaining and the murders are also, if not friendly, at least not uber-grisly. So why do my wife and I watch Perry reruns and not Matlock? It’s because of the cars—memorable in Perry’s day, but toasters in Matlock’s. In last night’s exciting episode, Perry impales the escaping villain on the tail fin of his Cadillac.

9B3EDDC6-5ADB-4FA0-9B58-65B85CD8E71B

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)

The Watchtower Study of June 14, 2020

‪I liked this one from the Watchtower study: “Marc, a missionary in Burkina Faso, puts it this way: “The people I think will make progress often stop studying. But the people I think won’t go far progress very well.” Yeah. Same here. That’s why you don’t judge: You’re usually wrong.‬

This one provoked an image from that study, did it not? “Once, at a real estate office, she noticed a tattooed young woman wearing baggy clothes. ‘I hesitated for a moment,’ says Yukina, ‘but then I started talking to her. I discovered that she was so interested in the Bible that some of her tattoos were verses from the Psalms!’ Can you picture yourself reading right off her body and elucidating the verses for her? Not in all places of her body, of course. There is such a thing as decorum.

We also read of the Witness who “started a conversation with a 19-year-old man whose T-shirt depicted a famous singer,” said Gustavo. “I asked him about it, and the man told me why he identified with the singer.” Maybe it was the same kid I called on, wearing a Jim Morrison (The Doors) sweatshirt that I, too, commented on. “Let’s go see Jim Doors,” I would say for the longest time when doing return visits. 

The study was from one of those articles on how to be more discerning in the ministry, and I love that type of article, because I don’t think we always are. There was this experience: “In Albania, a woman who was studying with a pioneer named Flora stated firmly, ‘I cannot accept the teaching of the resurrection.’ Flora did not force the issue. She relates, ‘I thought that she must first get to know the God who promises the resurrection.’ She left it on the table and came back to it later.

My Dad did this with me as a boy on the literal table. I didn’t want to eat all the food on my plate—what boy does? So Pop would draw a line, separating as though Moses at the Red Sea, the food I had to eat from the food I didn’t. I came to anticipate it—“Draw a line, Pop!” I would say. In time I learned to devour it all and I do not have to say it now to my wife.

How about this one from paragraph 8? “Perhaps [the householder] has told you directly that he has his own religion. When that happens to a special pioneer named Flutura, she replies, ‘I’m here, not to impose my beliefs on you, but to talk to you about this subject . . . ‘ I go further than that. I tell them that if I call 100 times, on the 100th call I will ask if they want to join my religion, and then they can say no. In the meantime, it is just conversation—if it’s dull, end it on that basis, but if not—no need to take cover lest you fear being recruited for the cause.

Lots of people think we are there to recruit. I suppose we are, really, but it is so far down the road that it needn’t be a concern for a long long time. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a people of ‘instant conversion’—you cannot ‘Come down and be saved!’ with them. Besides, “this good news will be declared in all the inhabited earth” (Matthew 24:14) is a goal in and of itself, without regard for how that news is received. It actually will not be acted upon in too many cases, for the verse John 12:37 was also considered: “Although [Jesus] had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him.” If they were cool on Jesus with signs, what about those who would speak of him without signs?

Paragraph 9 was of running into a religious person. “Try to find common ground. He may worship only one God, he may recognize Jesus as the Savior of humankind, or he may believe that we are living in a time of wickedness that will soon end. Based on beliefs you have in common, present the Bible’s message in a way that is appealing to that person.”

Sometimes this works, but certain types of evangelicals will argue almost from the get-go, and if they don’t do it us, sometimes we do it to them. With one such person, when it started to go that way, I said: “Look, we are both trying to follow the Word, but we are doing it differently. You think we are doing it all wrong and we think you are doing it all wrong. We’ll steal persons from your church in a heartbeat, and you’ll do the same to us. But we are both doing it—that’s the point—and we live in a world where most people aren’t doing it at all.” Instantly we were on the same side. There was a little chat about keeping the faith amidst a world that rejects it.

There was even artwork of witnessing on a row of townhouses. The Witness couple was at house 1, a pristinely kept up house. But they would soon be calling on house 3, a pigsty—blinds crinkled and askew, trash cans overflowing,  litter everywhere. One sister commented how the people there must be ill and you wouldn’t want to comment on the nice clean paradise to come because that might make them embarrassed. (My Lord—do we ever think the best of people!) Nah—I think they’re just a bunch of slobs who might not be so slovenly if they received a message of hope. But you never know the comments you will get over artwork.

I’ll bet the people in house 1 don’t care much for the people of house 3. I have even had in the ministry some 1-like people tell me that I should call on the 3-like people, who need what I have, whereas they, the 1-like people, do not. But they do a quick reappraisal when I volunteer to do just that and tell them who sent me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Updating the Ebooks

Q: “Dear Tom: What have you discovered during COVID_19 time?

A: I have discovered that if you read material aloud, the ‘it’ that should be an ‘is’, ‘if’, or even an ‘in’ has not a prayer of staying hidden, determined though it might be, even though it has survived innumerable silent readings. The ‘the’ that should actually be a ‘they’ is similarly flushed out. With this new weapon, I have been cleaning up my ebooks. Due to inexperience and budget, I released all of them with some errors. ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ was a particular mess, but now it is pristine.

That being the case, I’ll be attaching a modest price to it soon. Act now if you want the revised yet still free version. Not only have glitches been removed, but also have some sections having no Russian context whatsoever—to be placed into ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ where they do have context. The latter ebook deals with opposition to Witnesses in the West, which is not identical to that in Russia. A Part 4 has also been added to ‘Dear Mr Putin,’ logging significant developments since the first edition of the book made its appearance.

I have also softened a name. Vic Vomidog, the “perennial apostate,” is now Vic Vomodog. It is but one letter, but it changes a lot. ‘Vomidog’ is an allusion to the verse of those who abandon their faith:

It would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it to turn away from the holy commandment they had received. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22

Vic Vomidog was a character in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’—sort of a comic book villain who never stopped making trouble, like Wily E. Coyote. But I have since come to apply the name to any ‘apostate.’ and not all are of the same character. Some are. Some aren’t. Why throw the barb at all of them when you only mean some? Since there is no way of knowing up front who’s who, soften it for all. ‘Vomidog’ evokes ‘vomit,’ which is disgusting and risks offending people needlessly. ‘Vomodog—here both ‘O’s will be long—does not, or does it less.

Some just lose their way, fall under the spell of the liars, or have really been hurt and are licking their wounds. I am told that at the Melbourne convention, Brother Splane spoke to how there are brothers and sisters who have been hurt within the organization and consequently, others may just have to put up with some “wild talk” from them—it’s part of their healing. So why call those who went over the edge ‘Vomidog’ as a blanket term? I won’t. “Why should we not judge people?” was the question asked in the recent Watchtower in a study article about field service. Because half the time, we’re wrong.

It doesn’t mean you cozy up to them, unless you like petting porcupines. No. But for an unknown some of them I do what Jesus did with the Phoenician woman: “It is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little dogs,” he said to her, and the reason the verse reads “little dogs” and not “hound dogs” is because he chose a word with that meaning—sort of like ‘puppies.’ I will do that with certain ‘apostates.’ Some are just ‘kids’ doing what kids have done since the beginning of time—rebelling against their upbringing. Updating the woman’s answer to Jesus: “Yes, Lord, but really the little dogs ream you just like the hound dogs, but they are still little dogs that could one day get some sense pounded back into their skulls.” There’s a lot in a letter—‘Vomidog’ is now ‘Vomodog.’

‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ may also go behind a paywall in time—the sooner I tuck that sucker away, the better. But ‘Dear Mr. Putin’ will go that way first. It may even spur circulation, for you know how some are with regard to anything free: “It didn’t cost nothin—and it was worth it, too!” exclaimed Huck Finn about the traveling circus he snuck under the tent to see.

Not to worry. Any penniless brother will still be able to get either free. Just email me at the TomSheepandgoats.com

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)

“Be Like Us—We Eat Like Pigs!”

From the deep south, Gus came to work in a northern factory. He worked one day and quit. Next day, he applied as groundskeeper at the local golf course, where he remained until retirement forty years later.

His wife and he invited me for dinner. I was new in the congregation, unmarried, 50 years their junior, and they wanted to be hospitable. The home was lived-in, modest—if you wanted to be uncharitable, you might even call it a hovel.

At the close of giving thanks to God, it was as though a gun went off. The two dove into the food with a ferocity I have not seen before or since. “They eat like pigs!” I said to myself, dismayed.

Presently, they looked up to see, concerned lest my plate be getting low. “Help yourself if you want more—don’t be bashful.” Gus said. “Be like us—we eat like pigs!”

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)

“That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”

When the scholars weigh in—after peering and peering—they may not present Watchtower history as Watchtower does itself. What to make of this? It is a combination of several reasons, is my guess. de Vienne advances one when lands such a work on their doorstep and it is met with silence—that they may be just be “incurious as to their own history.” They are doers more than contemplators of the past. They put their eye to the rows and they don’t look back, because the furrows get squirrelly when you do that. There is a plank devoted to such things of history, but it is not a rudder that steers the ship. “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God,” says the Lord.

Another person advances another reason—that to a certain degree, history is unknowable, written by the victors, modified over the years by those of myriad agendas, and much of the original data is lost forever. Thus, because they are doers more than thinkers, at Bethel they research the past, come up with what seems tight enough, and say (as one local sportscaster used to say) “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” To do otherwise is to yield to thinkers who frequently will not engage in doing if you light a stick of dynamite under them. “God gives his holy spirit to those doing his will,” they say, maybe not so much with those just writing about it. 

It is a scholar-light approach that infuriates scholars too caught up in the supposed ascendancy of their own discipline—scholars who simply assume takeover rights. They get those rights in many venues—and the greater world offers testimony as to what happens when the world’s scholarship runs the show—you would think that would be taken into account by those who carry on about how essential higher education is—but they do not get them in Jehovah’s organization. Once in awhile they even get sent to the doghouse, but only when they howl too much. 

“I have no problem with this,” I say, once I get over the problem I have with it—for I come from a world of ideas, readers, and books. Still, I notice that those ideas don’t add up to much when they are poured into the world vat, and may collectively even bring that world to its knees. I yield to Someone whose ways just might be higher than mine. He gives his spirit to those obeying him as leader.

In general, when I hear any viewpoint of challenge, I look for deeds at least as much as ideas. Frequently, there are none, and the remarks can largely be dismissed on that account. That is my take on what Paul says on the prospect of confronting the self-styled superfine apostles of his day—‘when I see them, I will get to know not just their words—anyone has them and many have them in great abundance—but I want to get to know their power—their deeds. (1 Corinthians 4:19)

That’s why whenever some malcontent, oozing malice, launches a new topic entitled: “Honestly—No Malice Here—But Let us Speak Earnestly About the Wrong-doing of the Jehovah Witness Leaders,” I say, “Have you actually done anything besides quit? Do you have anything to show for yourself besides grumbling? ” Just any sorehead is going to throw a tirade about something I hold dear and expect me to engage in earnest debate with them? I don’t think so. I wait for Brother Egghead to do it on the basis of addressing the points, not the person—and then Brother Flamethrower to do it on another basis—and then several pages in, after the original malice has been obscured, I override my better judgement and jump into the fray.

The saying goes that ‘if you can do something, you do it. If you can’t, you critique it.‘ Absent someone’s “power”—their good deeds, their honest track record—why should they be taken too seriously? They are critiquing—and the reason just may be that they are capable of nothing else—they are like inside-the-beltway wonks who majored in “political science”—as though that were scientific. At least Rolf has a track record—how hot it is and what has been allowed to go stone cold was my first initial question about his book—which may not be answerable until I go talk to him.

The saying is often escalated to a usually (though not always) unnecessarily cynical, “and if you REALLY can’t do it, you teach it.” Here we come to Dr. Gene Hwang, who did not fit the pattern. He taught at Cornell, and was for years, among the most published authorities on statistics. His work provides mathematical support for scientists who study gene function. He became a Witness in the late 1990’s.

I speculate in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ that after a dozen years or so, when he has proved himself stable, he or someone like him is invited to look over our science offerings and contribute an update if they see fit. Many brothers seem to think that at Bethel, they assign such material to the Witness who did really well in high-school science, straight A’s!—he or she holed up for a few weeks, and “out came this book” on creation blowing the cover off evolution. 

No. Plainly it will be someone like Brother Hwang “bringing his gift to the altar” upon invitation. However, will his work silence the critics? You know it won’t. The writings of evolutionists versus those who favor intelligent design would fill multiple libraries. So they take Gene Hwang’s book at Bethel—he is a heavy-hitter—and say: “That’s our story and we’re sticking to it,”—same as they do with history. Do other “scholars” debate their own competing version? “Yeah—well—we’ll see,” they say, as they envision a headline in the paper that they have seen so many times before: “Everything You Thought You Knew About Such-and-Such is Wrong!”

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)

On Conspiracy Theories

The term “conspiracy theory” was coined in 1967 in response to the government’s Warren Commission Report on the Kennedy assassination, which nobody believed. Some did, of course—people too preoccupied with life or too uninterested to dig deeply—but to others, the finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting JFK didn’t wash. The Cuban communists did it, the Mafia did it, the CIA did it, LBJ’s cohorts did it—all these theories floated about—I remember them all—in the days following the president’s death. It didn’t help that “an outraged citizen” with underworld connections shot Oswald the day after, while under police escort and supposed protection. Four of the seven commissioners harshly criticized the report issued in their name.

In response, The CIA began establishing the narrative that people were nuts to question the “official statement”—there was something wrong with them, and it might even be dangerous for so many loonies to be on the loose. This was in a 1967 internal dispatch to all field offices called ‘Document 1035-960: Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report.’

The document recommended techniques of countering these conspiracy “nutcases,” and it is not hard to see the same techniques used today with regard to any new conspiracy theory: declare that all the facts are in and declare that any new facts that should emerge are not facts at all but just the rantings of lunatics. Shout down any such theory the instant it appears. Use friendly media contacts to further those aims. Today there is the rise of the “fact-checker,” which serves to funnel the reader back to “official versions” of any “conspiracy theory” so as to gut that theory.

This dovetails so well with things I have already written that I find it irresistible—my own phrases such as, “Often things that are settled have been settled by decree,” and, “Many things proven have been proven by ignoring evidence to the contrary,” and even, “The trouble with conspiracy theories is that once a few of them prove true, you tend to swallow anything coming down the pipe.”

The source for the above, minus my own sayings, is a lengthy article from Iain Davis. He outlines intellectual undercurrents of decades past that finally manifest themselves in that CIA dispatch. He also touches upon “conspiracy theories” since, that he himself buys into—seemingly he buys into all of them, but most notably the official version of 911 and the demonization of “anti-vaxxers.” I don’t necessarily embrace either of these, but neither do I think them too ridiculous to mention.

Still, I don’t pursue it too much. This is because I have bigger fish to fry. All of Jehovah’s Witnesses do. They have uncovered the greatest conspiracy of all time—that of “Babylon the Great”—that religion, most notably, that of “Christendom,” thoroughly misrepresents God. Mark Twain said it best: “If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be—a Christian,” and “There has been only one Christian. They caught him and crucified him—early.”

The religion in Christ’s name betrays him at every turn. In ‘No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash,’ I muse on what Mark Twain might have said had he come across Jehovah’s Witnesses, which of course he would not have because he preceded them. Most church teachings cannot be found in the Bible. It is the attempt to read them in that causes people to throw up their hands in exasperation. Jehovah’s Witnesses cleared up those things from their onset. Twain is widely thought to have been atheist, but it is notable that he never had an unkind word for Jesus, however much he may have savaged what was done in his name. He probably would agree with Jesus’ own words that I have many times shared in my house-to-house ministry:

Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.  Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23)

Since Jehovah’s Witnesses have landed the biggest conspiracy fish there is, why mess with the comparative small fry? Thus, while I may play around with the other conspiracy theories some, I don’t let myself become too distracted by them. Solve them all and the overarching conspiracy yet remains—the one that indirectly spawns all the others, for one aspect of Bible teaching that religion mostly ignores is that human efforts are not up to the task of ruling the planet—that is a task reserved for God’s kingdom.

But that doesn’t mean that one ought shout down these other conspiracy theories. It is surprising how many brothers do—as though to say, “Oh, no—things may be bad, but they’re not that bad.” As though to prove that they are responsible persons who would never buy into fringe ideas that the “loonies” originate. As though the kings of the earth struggle with the onslaught of the four horsemen through valiant and honorable means, and would never stoop to what is underhanded—for they are honorable kings who realize that the fight must be fair. 

Rather than prove themselves responsible, I think they just prove themselves naive, and when those who shape opinion command that we put no stock in such “conspiracies,” they think it is their part to acquiesce. It is probably just as well that they do not embrace conspiracies because there really are a lot of nut cakes out there and it is impossible to know what is true and what is concocted. Still, so many appear to think it really is their duty to shoot these things down. 

As for me, when I see the rot of human mismanagement, I assume that I am seeing just the tip of the iceberg. As with an actual tip of an iceberg, there is hardly a way of knowing what lies beneath the surface and so I do not devote much time to it. Unless I really have some relevant knowledge, I don’t go there, and even if I do have some relevant knowledge, I don’t go there much—but very likely whatever exists is substantial.

If we are to look at things from God’s point of view—that the 6000 year experiment of human rule is permitted so as to demonstrate its failure, then the more spectacularly if fails, the better. “Conspiracy theories” roughly correspond to “each one’s hand will be against his own brother”—total chaos. I see no reason to insist such things could not happen—though you may not want to contribute to it yourself—and that is why I will never be too critical of those who seem to think they must tamp such notions down.

From the Iain Davis article comes an entirely new notion—I hadn’t thought of it before—that those who advance “conspiracy theories” are a type of “extremists” It was best put by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014:

“We must be clear: to defeat the ideology of extremism we need to deal with all forms of extremism – not just violent extremism. We must work together to take down illegal online material […] we must stop the so called non-violent extremists from inciting hatred and intolerance.” He was speaking of those who question the official version of 911, but the idea has caught on and been widely applied in other venues.

Now, at any mention of “extremists,” the ears of Jehovah’s Witnesses will prick up. This is because in Russia, where Western conspiracy theories presumably command scant attention, the Witnesses themselves have been branded extremists! Jehovah’s Witnesses—the group that has proven throughout its existence that under no circumstance will they take up arms to kill—can such an “extremist” designation really stand? One would think that ISIS would have taught the Russian government what extremism is. But with this new definition—that of questioning the official version of things—well, nobody does that as Jehovah’s Witnesses do. They are unconcerned and neutral as to the lesser conspiracy theories that rock the earth. Their focus is on the spiritual “conspiracy theory”—the overall issue of whether humans can rule themselves or is it the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed that should rule.

Most everyone else in the field of religion accepts as a given that the earth should be carved up into 200 squabbling sovereign states. Most everyone else in the field of religion accepts as a given that God’s role, if he has one, is to somehow bless this hash of human devising so that it collectively adds up to “peace on earth.” No other religion of size points to how “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. And this kingdom will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it alone will stand forever,” as stated at Daniel 2:44. No other religion of size recognizes as many aspects of the reality that “the whole [present] world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19)

Iain Davis identifies philosopher Karl Popper as one of the forerunners the thinking that would manifest itself in the CIA 1967 anti-conspiracy theory policy. He stated in 1945 that “increasing secularism had led people to ascribe power to secretive groups rather than the gods,” this per Davis’s phasing. As phrased by Popper himself: “The gods are abandoned. But their place is filled by powerful men or groups – sinister pressure groups whose wickedness is responsible for all the evils we suffer from.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have reinstated God and sent those sinister groups packing—do they exist or not?—it hardly matters since the greater spiritual conspiracy remains, and to obsess on the human conspiracies is to aim too low.

And so, in Russia, ordinary, hum-drum, work-a-day people—the sort who never show too highly on the radar of this world’s “thinkers,”—carry the label of “extremists.” Though the label makes no sense, it does fit into to the modern dystopian view of labeling anything beyond the “official version” as “extremist.”

I labored a year on the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia.’ It is, to my knowledge, the only comprehensive record of events leading to a ban of the faith in 2017 and its subsequent escalation. With limited experience and budget, I released it too soon. The first version contained an astounding amount of typos and glitches, as well as nearly two chapters of what has no Russian context at all, child sexual abuse allegations that have dogged virtually all large groups, JW’s included, whether they be religious or not. This material has been removed, to appear in a subsequent book where it does have context, ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!, that deals with opposition to JWs in the West.

The book was a labor of love on my part, free since it’s released. But I will soon be putting a modest price on it—move now if you want the updated yet still free edition. Attaching a price may even spur circulation, for there will always be those who will say of a free book what Huck Finn said of a certain small-time traveling circus he stumbled upon: “It didn’t cost nothin, and it was worth it, too!” Neither ebook will ever be recognized by JW headquarters, off course. The best I can hope for is that there will not someday be an article about “certain well-meaning, but indiscreet, brothers, who are...”

I focused on the human connection in Dear Mr. Putin—the human reasons that the faith is outlawed—not so much the spiritual connection, because the book was not intended for Witnesses, though hopefully they will like it, but for whoever wants to keep up with things. I identified the human reason for the ban as the machinations of anti-cultists, who declare any “authoritarian” organization that would “manipulate” and “control” its member an abomination. That remains the prime human reason, but now it is time to focus more on the spiritual reason: in Jehovah’s Witnesses there lies a group that would challenge the “official” version of who is to rule the earth, God or man.

Do not think it of little consequence to reveal this spiritual “conspiracy theory.” The stiffest prison term yet has just been imposed upon sixty-one-year-old Gennady Shepakovsky. Is he not a little old for such harshness, especially when his “crime” is no more than worshipping God per the tenets of his faith? The judge of the case suggests Jehovah’s Witnesses (there are 175,000 of them!) go to a country where their faith is “more needed.” Such words dovetail with another recent verdict revoking citizenship of another Russian witness, an astounding penalty that would not be imposed on any mobster, and it recalls exactly the early disciples scattered from first century Jerusalem: “On that day great persecution arose against the congregation that was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” (Acts 8:1)

I think of a certain local speaker with dramatic flair quoting Matthew 24:14, “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth,” twirling the globe he had brought up front, putting his finger down upon a single spot, and quoting the local despot who would defy God: “This good news of the kingdom WILL NOT be preached here!” as he awards a 6 1/2 year prison sentence to a 61-year-old for obeying our Lord—a 61-year-old who admitted to no guilt, as of course one should not do for worshipping God.

I think too, of another passage from ‘Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ of the “minor prophet” Amos, and how “religious enemies treated Amos of the Old Testament after he uttered words they deemed not patriotic. Priest Amaziah, ever close to the king, “sent word to Jeroboam, king of Israel: ‘Amos has conspired against you within the house of Israel; the country cannot endure all his words.’” It is the same with Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Prominent ones assure Putin that the country cannot endure all their words.

“The answer Amaziah decides upon is to send Amos far away—outside the borders. It is the same answer once arrived at in Russia [and now arrived at again, it would appear]: ‘Off with you, seer, flee to the land of Judah and there earn your bread by prophesying! But never again prophesy in Bethel for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.’

“It is not just the high-handed command that rankles; it is also the insult, for Amos does not “earn his bread” prophesying, just as Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. He works to support himself, just as Jehovah’s Witnesses do. His is a humble line of secular work, as is generally true of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Amos knows the work that he must do. For some reason, the pre-eminent Amaziah and his bunch have not done it. No matter. Amos will. “I am not a [paid] prophet, nor do I belong to a company of prophets. I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores, but the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel,” he replies to the lofty one.They are humble people, those who God selects; they are not the bombastic bigwigs who love to hog the stage. Is it an absurd play in which herdsmen are the central actors? Yes. But just because something is absurd does not mean that it is untrue.”

It is the greatest conspiracy of all. And Jehovah’s Witnesses have uncovered it. Humans don’t necessarily care about our sort of conspiracy theory. But the devil sure does, the one operating behind the scenes—the one of whom Revelation 2:10 speaks: “Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison so that you may be fully put to the test, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

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)