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I Will Miss the Zoom Meetings

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.’




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The Rolf Furuli Book - Part 2 - Great Anti-types for Those Who Are Not Fussy

Q: I read your “discussion” of the Rolf book. Like John Lennon said in Hey Bulldog, do you know any more?

Yes. There are always to be found those who are excruciatingly specific with Bible verses—especially if from Revelation. One of them tied the “trumpet blasts” of Revelation 11 to Trump. He was not one of our ex’s—if there is one guiding light to Witness biblical commentary, it is that prophesy will never be connected with specific individuals, but with historical trends—often broad ones. Sometimes they are narrowed down, but never to the point of where Oscar Oxgoad’s ancient father stares at the president on TV and says, “He’s the one!” He has said that of every president since Truman.

We have our ex’s who go equally batty, though. To throw some red meat to them: Dennis Christensen, the first Witness imprisoned for his faith in Russia—his very name points to the one he follows, and even his carpentry profession is the same. If they are going to twiddle their thumbs on that one at Watchtower HQ, where they don’t do anti-types anymore, and attach equal significance to the second Witness detained, Mahonihen Muvibodidilyvich, then the type/anti-type is open for one of our outliers to establish.

Do you think that there is only one such curiosity to exploit? How about the pattern that Rolf Furuli has just revealed? Do you think that it is just ‘one of those things’ that both TOD (Trashers of Doctrine) in our age present with the initials R.F—Ray being the first? I tell you—we are on to something here.

Apostasy (if Rolf is an example of it—I don’t know that he is, though he clearly does not write an ‘attaboy’) usually occurs at the divine/human interface. It was even true with Judas. He and God were tight! There were no problems there! But that “imposter” claiming to be the messiah was just not at all what Judas was expecting—and those “uneducated” followers that he was attracting—don’t even go there. My offhand impression, not having read the book (I did get my free copy—hee, hee, hee, which I will pay Rolf for if I read it—though I shouldn’t have to since I have written 3 1/2 books on the faith myself) is that he has acquired himself some ‘education’ and is disturbed that the Message is not better received among his new contemporaries, and he feels that it might be if his old contemporaries weren’t so ‘dumb.’ It is classism at work, imo.

The challenge here with Rulf is the divine/human interface—he reaffirms everything else. Bear in mind that most of those who discuss it on the internet will not share the same concept of what that interface ought be. Some are atheistic, and contend that there ought be no such interface because the ‘divine’ does not exist for them. A few contend that they themselves are the divine/human interface, or at least part of it, and they are miffed about being ‘cut off’ from the rightful role. And others think that the divine/human interface should be that of Santa Claus giving gifts to children, each gift perfectly wrapped without ambiguity, with no need to do anything other than play with your new toys all Christmas Day.

Is it a revolution—as online opposers assume, rubbing their hands together in glee? I’m not so sure. People think the Beatles song Revolution advocates revolution. Does it?

You say you want a revolution, Well, you know, We all want to change the world...But when you talk about destruction, Don't you know that you can count me out, Don't you know it's gonna be, All right....

You say you got a real solution, Well, you know, We'd all love to see the plan...You say you'll change the constitution, Well, you know, We all want to change your head. You tell me it's the institution, Well, you know, You better free you mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Ray, You ain't going to make it with anyone anyway, Don't you know it's gonna be , All right, all right, all right

Got a real solution? Show the plan. But if someone brings his plan to the altar and it is not acted on, what then? Does one become one of those who pushes ahead? Or does one free his mind instead and not make a grab for the wheel of the bus? As to getting myself a free copy...I had emailed him. Unfortunately, every malcontent in the world probably did, too—some to laud him and some to express dismay that their own pet peeve has been ignored. He may not want to hear from any of them—since he says that the core doctrines are all true, words that most of them will choke on—most of them want “destruction.”

I may write a lot, have a way with words, and craft them uniquely, but it would be a stretch to call myself a scholar, so I do not do so. “One scholar to another—I’ll drink to that,” said George Patton—or did he say ‘sonuvabitch’? No pretensions here. Maybe some other scholar can get me in good with him. Maybe I will read my copy and pay up. Or maybe I’ll just wait to referee the brouhaha that results as others devour it. 

What will be the upshot? Much has changed since the time of Chairman Ray, which was early for me and I’ve never read his book, either—I barely have to since so many have told me what’s in it. As mentioned before, what is the tone of Rolf’s book? Is it a call for “revolution” or does he say to those opposers who want destruction, “count me out.”? Everything has to be judged in its own historical context, and much has changed in forty years.

He wouldn’t appear on that smug webhost’s site because he was a (self-described) apostate—surely that’s a good sign—just as I would not appear on Lloyd’s podcast, though he all but begged me to and was nice as pie until he realized I had no intention of doing so, after which he was horrible. Rolf’s neighbor fellow Norwegian, self-described apostate, oozes with contempt that CO’s usually start as “window cleaners”—the same way that Celsus ridiculed the second century Christians for being “shoemakers, laborers, and the most clownish of men,” completely forgetting how God is partial toward those people and doesn’t look down upon them at all.

I think there is a scene in Superman in which a battle of titans looms and one of the regular citizen-mortals says, “This is going to be good!” That’s what the opposers are saying on the internet now. (And, yes—I know it doesn’t really fit with “Chairman Ray,” who was hardly a revolutionary, but who can resist the rhyming? Besides, he is dead.)

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The Locusts of Joel and the Locusts of Revelation—Two Different Species!

I commented on the first paragraph of that Watchtower study (April 2020) on the Joel passage about locusts—rarely do I comment on the very first paragraph—on how all “fundamental Bible truths”—soul, resurrection, paradise earth, no trinity, why suffering—had been uncovered back in Russell’s day. There had been lots of tweaking since then, as would be done this day—sometimes there is even backtracking—but everything fundamental was revealed long ago. “Someone would raise a question, and then the group would examine every scripture text related to the subject. Finally, they would make a record of their findings. With Jehovah’s blessing, those sincere Christian men discovered many fundamental Bible truths that we cherish to this day,” the paragraph read, of Russell’s time.

A little girl—was she nine?—the speaker’s daughter, nailed that technical point about verse 28 that many adults I am sure would have missed. Holy spirit should be during, not after, the locust charge of Joel 1:14 if those locusts can be said to represent Jehovah’s servants. That holy spirit is said to come after, not during, was one of four bits of presented evidence to suggest a rethinking of Joel 2:7-9 was due:

They charge like warriors, They scale a wall like soldiers, Each keeps to his own course, And they do not swerve from their paths.They do not shove one another; Each man advances in his course. If the weapons cause some to fall, The others do not break ranks.Into the city they rush, on the wall they run. Onto the houses they climb, through the windows they enter like a thief.” (vs 7-9)

No, it has nothing to do with preachers of the good news—it is a description of the ancient invading Babylonian article of long ago. The reason the passage was ever connected with preaching of the good news in the first place was because of a passage in Revelation chapter 9 that is similar in some aspects—but not all. The differences were highlighted in yesterday’s study in the following paragraph:

Consider: In Joel’s prophecy, the locusts devastate the vegetation. (Joel 1:4, 6, 7) In John’s vision, the locusts are “told not to harm the vegetation of the earth.” (Rev. 9:4) The locusts Joel saw came from the north. (Joel 2:20) Those John saw came out of an abyss. (Rev. 9:2, 3) The locusts Joel described are driven away. In Revelation, the locusts are not driven away but are allowed to finish their work. There is no indication that they deserve Jehovah’s disapproval.​“

The little girl, by the way, along with her even younger brother who also commented like an adult—the two were centered in their Zoom window, and it was the parents who where cut in two by the frame—one on this side and one on that. I talked to my daughter the next day, and she knows the mother. Those kids were brought up as was my daughter and her brother—you don’t make little children prepare the entire Watchtower—how in the world are they going to retain any of it? What you do is focus on just 2 or 3 paragraphs, teach so they can explain it in their own words, and throw the rest away—for them, that is, not you. They’ll pick up more of it as they grow—and what is more important, they will want to, since they have had the experience of understanding and explaining smaller portions.

Frankly, the update from preachers to Babylonian army seemed so obvious that one wonders how it could have missed in the first place. But the explanation that was supplied I can live with: “Bible prophecies are often best understood when they are undergoing fulfillment or after they have been fulfilled.” Okay. The public speaker in his (unconnected) talk had said something about hiking a trail and you can’t really see things until you come across them—he even displayed Watchtower artwork of a family hiking, and it looked like his!—with two tow-headed kids and a mother with dark hair.

Sure. You’d best wait for things to undergo fulfillment or even to have already gone down before you prophesy on what has gone down—I can get my head around that. Still, it does represent some pulling in of the horns—maybe because sometimes those horns hadn’t always hit the target, and now there is more modesty. What! You think it’s a piece of cake looking into the future? It’s not.

I am reminded of that scene from ‘Up the Down Staircase’ in which the high-school student contests his failing grade for having wrongly interpreted a poem. His protest falls on deaf ears, even after he brings the poet to class and the poet says, ‘Yes—that is exactly what he meant.’ The teen’s only consolation is to know that he has changed school policy; from that day on only dead poets are to be used for assignments.

Vic Vomodog, that perennial apostate, somehow caught wind of the revision, and screamed “flip_flop” on his website! “It used to be this way—and now it is that way! he hyperventilated.

As far as I am concerned, the way you answer the idiot is to say, “Oh, we changed that.” We lean into punches when we could just as easily duck them. Duck them, and the big slob’s own momentum (believe me, he is a big slob) sends him hurtling over the edge.

It is only soreheads who think it not permissible to revise positions—the JW organization itself doesn’t say it, nor do reasonable people. What is “the light that gets brighter” and “tacking” if not an admission that things change? The current study article was even more forthright—they see what they now see “in hindsight.” They are not the essential things that I commented on in that first paragraph, is the point—the core beliefs that everyone who became a Witness did so on that account—the core beliefs—that distinguish JWs from any other religion—that opposers forget all about, and thus reveal they haven’t a spiritual bone in their bodies, as they harp on trivial matters of human imperfection—as though Santa Claus should be running the show—showering presents on everyone and asking nothing more than a vague promise to ‘be nice,’ for people to define any way they like.

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The Rolf Fululi Book - Part 1

Rolf Furuli published a book that puts down the Governing Body as ones who have “lost their way.” The friendly atheist at was more than friendly when he heard—he was jubilant. He hedges some of his jubilation with the acknowledgement that Rolf has not abandoned anything else of his faith—he is still convinced that it is true. “That doesn’t mean the book serves no purpose, though,” Mr. Friendly says. “If he can get people to question aspects of the faith, or even plant seeds that might eventually get them to leave for good, that would be remarkable.”

As prodigious writer on all things JW, I was flooded with requests for comment—or at least you never know when that may start. Alas, I tend to take my time in getting around to things like this. I may—particularly if I am pestered about it—but it will take awhile

I am curious as to how things will be worded. Is it a ‘call to arms’ which is how the internet opponents will certain see it? Or is it more a personal ‘wish list’? Is it a call to ‘abandon ship’? It doesn’t appear to be, especially since there is no other ship to take its place and even an imperfect ship beats treading water. 

He is a scholar. Is he a scholar AND a doer, or has he just become a scholar? That will surely have a bearing. The physical house-to-house ministry grounds a person—leave it at your own spiritual peril.

The people of higher education generally assume ‘takeover rights.’ Does he? It will make a difference. To my mind, Christianity emerged as a ‘working class’ religion, and it always remained so. You know the verses: ‘uneducated and ordinary’, (Acts 4:13) ‘not many wise in a fleshly way, powerful, of noble birth’, (1 Corinthians 1:26) ‘hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones’ so as to ‘reveal them to babes’ (Matthew 11:25)

If the tone of his book recognizes these verses, my guess is that he is fine. If the tone is, ‘Time to let the smart people take over’, there could be a problem. It is when the ‘smart people took over‘ in the first century that Christianity strayed so far from its roots as to be unrecognizable. Opposers, always eager for a blowup, will frame it as ‘Battle of the Titans’ with sure dire consequences to one or the other. That doesn’t mean that he does.

Granted, as to higher education, the trouble with not having too much of it is that one finds it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, and is thus tempted to dismiss it all as chaff. But there is a difference between saying that this or that policy has a downside, which the present brothers will probably agree with, and saying that we ought to have someone’s head on a platter, which they will not. What side does he come down on?

Anything done can be done another way. I know that. Everyone does. Anything with upside will have a downside. While I may present my dream list—everyone has one—as to what I would like to see—I work with what is.  I  may read this book someday, especially if I get the free copy I deserve as a fellow scholar, even if a pseudo one, but I haven’t just yet.

I tire of these fellows who are so fascinated by the devices of power that they become like the inside-the-beltway policy wonks who actually can’t do anything themselves so they specialize in critiquing what others do. At least Rolf has a track record, but that was long ago. Does he convey any sense that Jehovah is running the show or is it all political maneuverings with him? That is among the things I would be looking for. And what is he doing, not back in the day, but now? The pull of speaking to the choir rather than the householder is irresistible to some; I read of some in Bethel who were like that, and one can begin to fear for them. Has he become like that? Like Paul at 1 Corinthians 4:19 muses, I am not so interested in his speech, but in his power. Has he severed himself from the ranks of those doing the work of Jesus to become a policy wonk? Dunno, but that is what would interest me.

I live and breathe the truth [as Witnesses call their faith] and I have for nearly 50 years. When I read outside of the Bible itself, study materials of it, and what is preliminary to my own posts, I tend to read secular things that I am not so familiar with. It is fine that someone should write a book, but anyone can write a book—I’ve written four of them. I can read remarks that certain ones have left—there surely are enough of them—and assemble them into my own book on their behalf.

I’m still reading the book of the brother who survived Rwanda—a chapter at a time—I’ve gotten distracted. There’s over 8 million of Jehovah’s people and every one of them has a book in them. Just because they haven’t got around to writing it yet and maybe don’t have the wherewithal to do so does not make it any less interesting. 

The way this Norwegian apostate (not RF, but the one with the webcast) coos on about ‘scholarship’ irks me. Scholars put their pants on one leg at a time like you and I. They disagree no less than we regular mortals. Look to the world that scholars have collectively built—for the most part, this system of things is run by highly educated people—to properly evaluate ‘scholarship.’

I don’t despise it, but neither do I worship it, as it seemed that Norwegian fellow did—so impressed at Rulf’s educational achievements. It is like when I rode in Frankie’s new van and all the brothers were oohing and ahhing over its every new tech feature and I got fed up. “Frankie, does this car have a radio?” I said breathlessly when it was my turn. But Frankie is cool, not wound up too tight, and is a regular guy. He reads how things are going. “Nah, it doesn’t have one of those,” he says.

.....See Part 2:

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On ‘Activism Journalism’

“All I really want in a journalist is for someone to tell me what went down in that place that I could not be because my wife was making me mow the lawn.”

I tweeted that remark. It proved popular. “Activism journalism” was under fire that day, and the remark fit in. Where did I first write it? Ah—it came from a passage in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ that I removed because it was too political. Laura is right when she says that “even among our friends, it's getting to be super hard these days to remain completely neutral—Satan is driving wedges into our brotherhood very effectively.”

The original context was that of some professor of journalism lambasting Charlie Rose because Charlie had interviewed Mitch McConnell without grilling him over the professor’s pet peeves. “Get off your rear end and go interview him yourself instead of lolling about cushy academia ‘teaching journalism!’” I wrote. “Who says it needs to be taught, anyway? All I really want in a journalist is for someone to tell me what went down in that place that I could not be because my wife was making me mow the lawn.”

I took the passage out of the book. The pithy remark about “telling me what went down in that place I could not be” could have remained, I suppose, but absent the bit about Mitch McConnell and Charlie Rose, there hardly seemed a point. It would have sounded like a complaint about my wife which she might come across one fine day and I, as a consequence, might find myself sleeping in the garage for a month. Why go there?

“Activation journalism” was getting people’s blood boiling the day I posted it the second time on Twitter. It started when Jonathan Key griped about how its become “difficult to impossible” to be editor because underlings feel free to “shame their bosses publicly” for engaging in “wrongthink.” Mr Fiend, using his most pristine Sunday language, shot back, “You all created this society. Your opinion pages have all fueled biased, idiotic thinking for years and years. Suck it up. It's what you wanted.” No sympathy from him—that’s for sure.

All the world is a struggle for whose ideas will prevail. Journalists have as much right to take part as anyone. Lord knows that I take part, spinning things the JW way. Put it on the Opinion page, and it is fine. The JW channel in itself is an opinion page and everyone understands that. It is the orchestrated, pre-planned onslaught of journalists to hijack the narrative that rankles.

The day before, Lancet had retracted its own study that said hydroxychloroquine was no good for Covid 19, and in fact was even dangerous. The reason they retracted it is that it was an study that had not been submitted to peer review. The reason it had not been submitted to peer review is that it would have failed—it was a very sloppy study, sabotaged in numerous ways. The reason it was taken up by the media anyway, despite being so sloppy, is that it discredited Trump, who first said he liked the stuff and later that he even took it. Everything is politicized today—everyone gets into the fray of battling over who will rule the world.

Hydroxychloroquine has been around forever, a mainstay of treatment for several ills. It would have been run off the road long ago were it so dangerous. It is extremely cheap—another reason to attack it from an entirely different quarter—Remdesivir, a competing treatment, costs $1000 per dose! Does the cheaper drug have side effects? Just listen to the side effects of drugs relentlessly hawked on TV today—it is enough to scare your socks off. Cardiologist Dr. William O’Neill, medical director at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan where they’re studying both remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine, said: “I've never seen science [so] politicized in 40 years of practice.”

I answered Laura when she called me out for going over the edge of neutrality—or at least appearing to, and then apologized, with: “I don’t mind a bit—you’re being critical, that is, not of Satan driving wedges. A brother should be challanged when he ventures over the edge....I just get tired at how many appear to take for granted that the media reports without bias, when nothing could be further from the truth. Studies do not suggest that there is any especial police racial bias in shootings. though media all but insinuates that the very purpose of police is to war against black people. The struggle for who will rule the world is reflected in almost every remark from anyone these days, and these guys are as fully involved, if not more so, as anyone else.”

If one was go ‘go biblical’ at this point, one would refer to the “unclean inspired expressions that looked like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the wild beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet,” that serve to gather “the kings of the entire inhabited the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Revelation 16:13-14) Everyone has his own frog in the race.

You don’t even get a break from it at church—churches divide themselves along one side of human-rule or the other. Will it be ‘My country—right or wrong?’ rule? Or will it be human-rule by international body, such as the U.N? Either way, the ‘Christian’ expectation is for God to somehow bless this hash of human devising. Surely it isn’t his will for the earth to be carved up into 200 squabbling entities, but they carry on as though it is right as rain.

Very few see the frogs at work, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Very few point to the time when God will remove human rule of the earth and govern by means of his Kingdom. Very few have a clue as to what Jesus means when he says to God, “Let your kingdom come.” Very few realize that it is only then that “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”



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If You Stop to Kick Every Dog That Barks, You’ll Never Get Very Far—On Scholaship, Part 2

(See Part 1)

Q: “There is a rumor that the WTS does not care too much about its past but keeps its focus on the future.” The topic of Rolf’s new book lurks in the background.

I have heard that this is true, yet one quote from Russell that has been faithfully preserved since his death is, “If you stop to kick every dog that barks at you, you’ll never get very far.”

Granted, if someone barks, they may be quick to assume that such person must be a dog—but you would have to excel in scholarship to know otherwise, and as stated, that is not their strong suit, nor should it be. The second thing (the first thing is here) that ‘scholars’ do—I’ve seen plenty of it from people who think themselves learned—is to start quibbling over the Name—this pronunciation is better than that one and since that is the case, maybe it should not be used at all. Scholars reason this way. But if I go to another country and start ragging on the locals every time they botch my name, nobody says, “Whoa! That brother is scholarly!” They say, “What a pin-headed idiot!”

Because the HQ brothers are not scholarly, they are inclined to accept that what is done is done, and what is written is written. Once in awhile someone like Brother Splane comes along, looks it all over, and says, “We’re not doing anti-types anymore!—it’s enough to say ‘this reminds us of that”—maybe because too many have blown up in his face, but for the most part, the past is assumed to be stable past that can be built upon. It’s too bad they’ve tossed aside anti-types because I have a doozy for them. You think it is nothing that Dennis Christensen’s surname points to the one he follows, and his very profession is the same? They are going to twiddle their thumbs on thatone, putting equal significance on the second Russian imprisoned for the faith—Mgoyahen Bloggabodidillyvich? Not to worry, though—some wannabe prophet will pick up and run with it.

I can’t believe how many seem to take for granted that the devil’s gameboard is not rigged, or that his rules of ‘critical thinking‘ should carry the day. They do not see for a moment how flawed the tool is—or perhaps more to the point—how sharp it is on the points for which it has merit, too sharp for its staunch advocates to handle without cutting themselves. It is the words of the prophet Tom Cruise: “You can’t handle the truth!” 

The notion that we are rational creatures is a joke. Of course we aren’t! The heart decides what it want and then entrusts the head to devise a convincing rationale for it. For the most part, people read mainly so as to confirm what they already believe. It is amazing on social media how few are the people who change their minds on anything. Accordingly, for every verse in the Bible about the head, there are ten about the heart. Few of Jesus’ parables would stand up to rigorous critical thought—some of them barely make sense. But they target the heart, which is his goal. 

I also can’t believe how many may be stumbled over what Rulf or any fellow scholar will say—or even what complainers will say. “Well, we could be wrong on that,” I say to almost all of it, and move on. Do they in any case, speak to the fundamental reason that I was attracted to Jehovah’s Witnesses in the first place? “Finally—a religion where the people at the helm are smart and can be counted upon to say nothing wrong!” Did I say that? Does anyone? Of course not! There was religious truth found no where else, and we soon enough discovered (few did not know it already) that it was carried in earthen vessels. There was a humility found in in few places, not to mention a united brotherhood where the byword was love. This is why whenever persons are ‘stumbled’ over something like Rolf’s input, they are simply seizing on something to justify a decision already made in their heart. Why can’t they just say, “I’m like Demas—I prefer the present system of things?’ Why can’t they say as with from John, “I’m leaving because—I gave it a good whirl—but I’m just not one of their sort?” 

I also note that Rolf has not left the faith, and that he does not declare he intends to. Nor do I take for granted that he will be given the boot, even though he seems think it a foregone conclusion. Maybe—I certainly won’t be shocked if it goes that way—but I’ll take it as a done deal only when it is done.

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On Scholars—Part 1

“I think that some persons get overly involved in trying to make them out to be great Christians, when they never knew them, and only see through their own eyes "vicariously" through the books those men authored.” The conversation was about Rolf and his new book.

I think we suck up to scholars altogether too much. There is nothing scholarly about the “unlearned and ordinary” men taking the lead in the first century, and there is no indication that they regarded their “ignorance” as a condition from which they ought pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. When the “scholars” began having their day in the sun, the first thing they did is to infuse long pre-existing philosophies into Christianity, making it all but unrecognizable.

God gives his Holy Spirit to those obeying him as ruler, says Acts 5:32. It says nothing about their ‘scholarship,’ and one of the first things ‘scholars‘ do is refuse to obey. We should kiss up the them? I think not. “Okay, you did well, Peter and John—amazingly well considering how uneducated you are. Good job! But we smart people are here now, so shove aside and let us show you how to do it.” No.

In the overall world of scholarship, any ‘scholar’ believing the Bible makes a mockery of the word. The first thing ‘scholars’ do is to declare Adam and Eve a ludicrous tale for primitive peoples, thereby gutting the means to understand anything of importance—why death? why suffering? It all goes out the window. People are left clueless on the most important questions of life as they imagine themselves smarter than anyone else.

Not to put it down too much, of course. It is a gift that some will bring to the altar. But if those at the altar decline to spin that altar like the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ dial, hopefully the relatively few scholars that are JW scholars will be able to hold their peace. It is one component of Christianity—not nothing, but also not overriding. “Everything You Thought You Knew About Such-and-Such is Wrong!” is a headline that experienced ones have seen all too often.

As for me, I can’t believe how many pig-headed scholars have not come around to my point of view. I do have George Chrysiddes who wrote some nice things about Tom Irregardless and Me, and I ignored all my ‘stupid’ friends for a month when he bestowed his great favor. I am waiting on Rolf to join in with effusive praise. But other than that, these guys who squabble no less than we ordinary mortals have mostly not come around.

(Part 2:)

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B. W. Shultz of Separate Identity

Several months ago, B. W. Shultz tweeted to me the suggestion that —please don’t take offense, but I would probably benefit from a certain eighth grade English textbook. I decided not to take offense and I ordered it. Why can I not find it now? Did I give it to Rochester’s youngest reporter, a young man of tremendous gumption, but who—well—attended the city schools? I offered to, but the book never physically changed hands. Did I toss it because Mrs Harley thinks the house is too cluttered already with books? It drives me nuts. You would think I would have kept it as a reference.

I did order it on eBay as almost an impulse item, and I do remember cooling on the idea that I needed it—for the most part, where my language is sloppy, it is not because I do not know any better but because I do not bother. I know, for example, that you do not end sentences with a preposition (I remember a writer playing with the idea of how many he could string at end of sentence: “New York City is a bad place to get something in your eye in,” and even “New York City is a good place to get something in your eye out in) and when I take advantage of Covid time to review Dear Mr. Putin, I say of parts, “oh, my—what a mess!” and make corrections. About 80% of the book has now been gone through with a fine tooth comb. I cannot testify that there might be a comma in places where none is needed, but for the most part, it is okay. 

Alas, I favor long and intricate sentences. I flatter myself that I am being like Paul, and I take comfort that he is dead and is not going to call me on it. Maybe that is Shultz’s message to me—“learn to write sparsely, can’t you?” Yes, I mostly know what to do, but still colons, dashes, single and double quote marks, and even commas drive me nuts in all their variant settings and I wouldn’t have the problem if I kept my settings more manageable. I know it—but I get carried away.

His writing is far more disciplined, and even his tweets are at times hauntingly beautiful—maybe not uniquely so—maybe I just have that impression, because he is on my radar and others aren’t—‘confirmation bias,’ the learned Bernard Strawman calls it. There is a place for sparseness, because everything you say dilutes everything you have just said—extra writing doesn’t always magnify—it just as frequently dilutes. Shultz is given in tweets to chronicle the ordinary—his own health, for example. His niece did that, too. 

“It takes patience to sort my pills for the day. And when I've recovered from pill taking, it takes more patience to put the medicated cream on my poor legs. I'd rather have ice cream. ... email from grand niece. Such plans ... I was full of plans at that age too. I guess.“

He reminisces:

“Back in 1986 I bought a new, but previous years model deVille. Wife wanted to drive it home. When we got it home, she announced that henceforth it was her car. She complained whenever I drove it.”

And, of course, he tweets of his research:

”Mostly fruitless research day. You'd think these dead people would have realized that 150 years later I'd like to read their letters and such. Such ungrateful dead people!”

He is altogether not a bad follow at all. He used to pop up in my feed frequently. For some reason, Twitter now seems to be squelching him in favor of some firebrand brother who can hardly see a reference to a church without appending something about ‘false religion’—with everything there is a time and a place, and I am reminded both of how Jesus had to reign in the Sons of Thunder, and how a certain circuit overseer used to distinquish between ‘winsome words’ and ‘wincing words.’ There are people who eat ‘Bible sandwiches’ and they fail to understand that most people don’t.

Shultz didn’t became active on Twitter until after de Vienne died. He expressly states that he steers clear of Facebook and Instagram for all the “idiots” on it, but he allows that Twitter is a nice distraction—it is like the background chatter in a coffee house. 

There was a time when I thought neither of them liked me very much, but I have since come to think it was just due to their being no-nonsense researchers who think that humor in research is an abomination, and note that I have no such aversion. Moreover, my “research” is mostly pulling stuff off the internet. It’s not nothing, but it is pretty close. He is steadily warming. In answer to my post about Woodstock and how it was held during a pandemic, he tweeted that he and his “antique wife” were pulling the leg of his nephew, giving the young man to believe that they had been there, apparently toking up with rest of them. He then threw in the unnecessary detail—but completely expected of a historian—that he later fessed up and told the truth.


de Vienne wrote that when she submitted the final Volume I to Bethel of Separate Identity, via mail I suppose, they received it without comment. She speculated about this and one possibility she advanced was that they ‘were incurious about their own history.’ In the main, I think this is true. They don’t look back all that much at Bethel—they look forward. 

And it is also true of me. It is not that the past history does not interest me. It is that so many things interest me more that I may never get around to it, even though I would like to. I read the book rather quickly because I told her I would write a review of it, which I did. Maybe someday I will come back to it more thoroughly. 

One other reviewer wrote of the authors’ “almost fanatical attention to detail.” That was also my general impression and it makes me suppose the book is probably the foremost authority on what it writes. They don’t appear to have any agenda at all, other than illuminating history—unlike almost everyone else who weighs in on the subject. He will not be charge as Emily Baron* was—of writing a hagiography—the worst of all possible sins for an historian for its lack-of-objectivity connotation.

*See Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, chapter 1.

See ‘Separate Indentity’—Volumes I and II. It is easy searchable online.

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