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American’s Frontline Doctors and the Canceled JW Conventions—Tying Together Two Topics that You Wouldn’t Think Could Be Tied Together At All

When I heard the truncated clip, I was disappointed. It makes our guy look like a religious nut. “It’s a modern-day miracle,” he says, seemingly his lead-off line about the Jehovah’s Witnesses move to present their annual summer conventions online.

It’s not a modern-day miracle. It’s a technological accomplishment—an impressive one, to be sure—after all, it involves 500 languages, done on a crash basis, and broadcast worldwide—but it is not a “miracle.” It is not Jesus walking on water. Forgive me if I admit that when I first saw the clip with that as his lead statement, I supposed that the man was a nut—an over enthusiastic zealot who had drunk too much of his own Kool-Aid.

Yet, do I not come across the entire interview several days later to find it of a completely different flavor? It turns out that he is not that way at all—his remarks were framed to make him sound a fanatic by a media that feels it their duty to do so when dealing with matters of faith, something that is not their forte. He never meant the “miracle” remark literally. It’s a gush of enthusiasm such as anyone will have upon completing an overwhelming project. It is Neil Armstrong saying “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It is a throw-off line of hyperbole that comes 5 minutes into the interview—not the lead-off pronouncement of the truncated version.

This is so infuriating, but also so typical. Everyone will say something in the course of 15 minutes that can be misconstrued by those of another agenda—who simply can’t get their heads around a different point of view or may even be trying to deliberately sabotage it—to make the person look like a nut.

I almost wonder if something similar is now at work with the doctor from Cameroon recommending the hydroxychloroquine drug for Covid 19. There were ten doctors who banded together for a public statement before the steps of the Supreme Court, but because this one (Stella Immanuel) has made remarks in her past about demons, and the others presumably have not, she becomes the sole media focus to discredit the lot of them. The other nine are sent out to pasture.

I don’t often speak on my blog of demons, nor of the devil. Much of my target audience chokes at mention of God, so should I really send them into orbit with posts of the devil? Besides, humans are perfectly capable of doing evil things all on their own—a line of demarcation is hard to draw.

But neither do I think someone should be pilloried for bringing up the topic, much less when it has nothing to do with the story at hand. If anything, I am the expedient chicken, not her. Anyone who knows anything about Africa knows that belief in interaction with the spirits is well-nigh universal. She is to be expected not to pick up on it? Let the thinkers today get a handle on evil—even eradicate it a little bit—before they go ridiculing those who go off their materialistic script.

At root, though the doctor and our guy may be poles apart, the reason to trash them is the same, or at least it is a kissing cousin: they are both serious about things not endorsed by today’s prevailing atheistic materialistic view. In her case, there may be more to the story—something that is deliberately discredited. In our case, there certainly is. Us first:

Robert Hendricks, spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, speaks of how both the door-to-door ministry and the annual conventions have been suspended for the first time in history. The reasons are telling—that of “respect for life” and “love of neighbor.” Probably no one has more potential to spread the Covid 19 virus than Jehovah’s Witnesses in their old model. Not only do they routinely approach people, but their organization is the largest convention-holding one in the world—people converge sometimes by the tens of thousands for events held in stadiums. We just couldn’t see ourselves doing that this year, Hendricks said. With a lead-in time of only about a month, Witnesses put the entire event online to be streamed worldwide.

Their organization had gone into lockdown even before governments began to require it. “Just because you can drive 75 mph in some areas doesn’t mean that you should,” he stated. I told the CultExpert, he of the #freedomofmind hashtag, that “our” people were more responsible than his. Our people promptly and without fuss laid low—Covid 19 would be long gone by now if all were like them—but “his” people? You don’t think many of them will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government what it can do with its rules?

Frankly, since media jumps all over churches that defy “science” by gathering, you would think they would praise to the heavens one that has set the example for being proactive. Yet, even when trying to compliment, they are hamstrung by a mindset that pronounces religion outmoded. Even as the New York Times covers the socially responsible move, (that of suspending the door-to-door ministry, not that of the conventions, which came later), they take for granted that it is done only for the sake of appearances. The decision “followed anguished discussions at Watchtower headquarters with leaders deciding March 20 that knocking on doors would leave the impression that members were disregarding the safety of those they hoped to convert,” as though the safety itself doesn’t mean a hill of beans to them. “Members are called on to share scriptures in person with nonmembers,” it wrote. Well, in fact they are called to do it, but it is by the scriptures themselves, and not the commands of HQ, as they like to frame it. “Now if I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe to me if I do not declare the good news!” writes the apostle at 1 Corinthians 9:16. Why do these materialistic ones not just say that the Bible itself is a “cult manual” and be done with it?

As to the 500 languages (1000 in print): the interview branched into this as the newsman asked some questions—it turns out that his mom is a Witness, and he thanked Hendricks for keeping her safe. The languages feat can be done because there is no profit motive, Hendricks said. That’s why no one else even comes close—Google, Apple, Amazon—no one. “There’s no end to what can be done if there is not a profit motive,” he said.

A cynical me says that he will probably be fired for going so far “off-script.” Naw—I don’t really think he will be, but if it is like the Cameroon doctor, he could be. She and her fellow doctors were promptly muzzled on social media for “spreading misinformation.” Will the News13 reporter be accused of “enabling” it as well?

Her turn: A major study of the Henry Ford Healthcare System in Detroit finds that the drug hydroxychloroquine is extremely effective. Why it is trashed as it is, I will never know. But since it is dirt cheap, and since the President has recommended it, it is hard not to think that either or both or these facts suggest possible reasons. 

By the time, the Henry Ford study was released, media had already reached the verdict that the drug was no good. This was based upon an earlier study published in Lancet that said hydroxychloroquine was ineffective, and in fact, even dangerous. However, Lancet later retracted their article. The reason they retracted it is that it was of a 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, director of the Detroit study said: “I've never seen science [so] politicized in 40 years of practice.”

 

 

 

 

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The Bridegroom of Blood and Rizpah—Verses to Trip up a Scoundrel

When I wrote the post about deciphering the bridegroom of blood, I didn’t know that those verses were on the program. Thus, it might have seemed that I was making some snarky remark about whatever had been written. I wasn’t. 

My post wasn’t really about Zipporah and Moses, anyway—that is but a side point. The real point is that passages like Exodus 4:24-26 are very hard to explain to people...

Now on the road at the lodging place, Jehovah met him and was seeking to put him to death. Finally Zipporah took a flint and circumcised her son and caused his foreskin to touch his feet and said: “It is because you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” So He let him go. At that time she said, “a bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision”

...and that one effect of them existing is that they serve to separate persons conscious of their spiritual need from persons who are not. It is as though a forerunner of ‘separating the sheep from the goats.’

Ida mentioned an ‘apostate’ in her family who was impressed with the Dawkins book, The God Delusion, someone who “was inquisitive in all the wrong ways and too smart for his own boots.” These characters get separated out by such passages, and the others mentioned in the post, like the one of God ‘making’ the blind one (Exodus 4:11) and the one of Jesus’ flesh and blood—true food and drink (John 6:55). The ones too “smart for their own boots“ (my wife says it is their pants they are too smart for) either are excited that they now have a chance to prove their intellect by explaining what it tells us about some technical point that is not spiritual and doesn’t really matter, anyway. Or, they are put off by it, declaring it ‘ridiculous’ and ‘not worth their time’—and you almost wonder if it is deliberate on God’s part to trip them up this way. I think it is. 

I take such ‘bridegroom of blood’ verses, and for the most part I shelve them. I play around with them a little bit, but if you take them too seriously they become like that pebble in your shoe that begins to drive you nuts. Yeah—it could mean a lot of things, and there is not enough detail to know. Besides, they are essentially trivia, something that doesn’t interest me all that much, even Bible trivia. Maybe it should, but it doesn’t. If there is not enough to go on, I make a few stabs at it, glean or salvage what I can, and move on.

It’s far more interesting to me how people are separated out over such passages—and it is roughly according to their heart. I used to illustrate it with a secular parallel: “When Trump tweets that North Korea has launched its nuclear missels, people of common sense will run for the hills. People of critical thinking will run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can’t even spell the word right.”

Unfortunately, the secular situation has grown so toxic that I can barely use that illustration anymore, though I love it. Trump has been under non-stop attack since he began, he has a sizable ego, a background unlike any politician, a crazy set of hurdles to leap, and he has taken to acting so erratically that you don’t know if he is losing it or deliberately goading his enemies—the list of which grows ever longer with each erratic tweet. I don’t even pretend to know what is going on anymore. Heckuva system for running a country, though.

Rizpah offers another example of how sometimes we try to sanitize verses, whereas I almost think it would be better to say, “Hoo, boy!” and move on. Instead, we almost act as though ones like her are as modern-day Witnesses transposed to a different setting, with concerns intact about dress & grooming, and turning in service time. 

With Rizpah, it’s a worse mess than with Zipporah:

“...the daughter of Saul whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.  Then he handed them over to the Gibeonites, and they hung their dead bodies on the mountain before Jehovah. All seven of them died together; they were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the start of the barley harvest.  Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out on the rock from the start of harvest until rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies; she did not allow the birds of the heavens to land on them by day nor the wild beasts of the field to come near by night. David was told what Saul’s concubine Rizpah the...”

When this was in our CLAM program, the comment was that Rizpah’s great love for God was such that she would not allow the hung bodies to be devoured by the birds overnight because she had such high regard for his law—as though any other woman would have no problem letting the birds devour the remains of her sons. She probably went insane, is my take, and whether she had regard for the law or not hardly seems the point. 

Now, it turns out that I amazed everyone by knowing all about Rizpah—an obscure character that no one else had ever heard of. The reason for this is that there is a book called Rizpah, by Charles Israel, that I read shortly after coming into the truth. The remarkable thing is that it made Rizpah, one of Saul’s concubines, the pivotal  character, and told everything though her eyes. And in her eyes, Saul was the hero, David the usurper, and “the dishonest scribes” had rewritten history to reverse what had really taken place. 

All the events in Bible narrative were covered. What was remarkable is that it all made perfect sense as she told it—events could be seen from that point of view. I’ll have to read the book again to see if I still feel that way—it’s sitting on my shelf now—I just got it from eBay. But it was the first in a series of impressions—sometimes they have grown weaker and sometimes stronger—that things can be presented another way, and that we choose the way we look at them because we choose a view that leads somewhere—if you choose Rizpah’s view, all you are left with are endless beefs about how things ‘should’ have been.

For me, this carries over as to how we view ‘apostates.’ Things can be seen from their point of view, but we choose ours because it leads somewhere. We avoid theirs because it doesn’t. Or rather it does, just like Rizpah’s views, but it leads to places we do not want to go because of heart. They do want to go where they go, again because of heart. Head has little to do with it—it is just employed to devise a convincing rationale for what the heart has already chosen.

Our choice: matters of life being decided by Jehovah’s standards. Their choice: “The way of Jehovah is not adjusted right,” and thus they choose man’s rule (we do, too, have the wisdom to direct our own step!—and even if we don’t, no one’s telling us what to do!) or they choose ‘Jehovah-lite’—(let’s not worry about us being a people for his name. Let’s redefine it as he being a God for our name). In either case, the head is charged to spin no end of arguments to “make it so,” as Picard would say.

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A Watchtower Study to Battle the “False Doctrine” of Evolution

The way it works with humans is we invite people over for a cookout and they all end up sitting on their hands because the gas grill ran out of propane and someone has to go to Home Depot to get some more.

That was my comment on the first portion of last week’s Watchtower Study that had to do with the earth’s built-in recycling. As much as we breathe in oxygen, it doesn’t run out because plants emit it, recycling our carbon dioxide at the same time. Then there is also the water cycle:

All the streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the streams flow, there they return so as to flow again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7) That’s not bad insight for writing 3000 years old.

Not to mention how my daughter the next day told of of her friend who started raising rabbits and, almost as an afterthought, began collecting their poop for the garden and now the garden is exploding with produce. As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, But the earth he has given to the sons of men”—the earth that is so good as recycling—says Psalm 115:6

The study article was on three gifts of God, and how one does well to appreciate them as gifts: “Jehovah has given us “a place to live, he has granted us the ability to think and communicate, and he has answered the most important questions we could ask.”

A secondary goal of the material was that “we will also be better equipped to help those who have been misled by the false doctrine of evolution” which is not how it is usually described—as a “doctrine,” let alone a “false” one. I like how the article did not take the form of “if an evolutionist says this, you can say that,” a form that, in effect, allows them to frame the argument. I like also [not stated in the article] that we are not the people who put dinosaurs on the Kentucky ark. Instead, we are the ones who have acknowledged the days of creation as “epochs” and the total time since Genesis 1:1 as “aeons.”

You don’t let evolutionists frame the argument, as though on the defensive. You frame it yourself. A belief in creation is the default condition. It is the condition that will automatically come up after a reboot. It is evident from Romans 1:20:

For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship...” You don’t have to prove it to people. They perceive it. It is the default condition.

Some things are perceived by anyone of good heart. Ones too smart for their own pants will muddy the waters, but anyone of good heart will unmuddy them. Those not will muddy them all the more. To be sure, it is well to have some material specifically to deal with this, as the Witness organization does, but it ought to be supplemental material for an “as needed” basis, and not universal.

It’s a little bit like how the atheists present the analogy of an intelligent puddle of water that naturally thinks the pothole it occupies was specifically designed for it—that analogy concocted to advance the argument that if the earth was anything but perfectly suited, we wouldn’t be around to talk about it. “Whoa! What a brilliant analogy!” I said. “All that is needed to make it complete is to find an intelligent puddle of water!” Just how hard (and why?) is one going to work at the goal of denying God?

I could barely believe it, when I first came across Jehovah’s Witnesses, that I had actually stumbled across people who believed in Adam and Eve! They didn’t look stupid—or at least no more so than anyone else in aggregate—and yet all my life I had accepted that only the reddest of the rednecks believed in Adam and Eve! It didn’t clear up for some time. Instead, I put it on the shelf, for what caught my interest more was that which formed the third point of yesterday’s Watchtower: “By means of the Bible, Jehovah answers the most important questions we could ask, such as: Where did we come from? What is the purpose of life? And what does the future hold?” It is all a matter of priority. Answers to spiritual questions that scientists cannot even touch supersede thoughts about evolution—put the latter on the shelf and come back to it later.

On the second gift—our brain, and the ability to think—I liked the emphasis on how we can choose how to use it. Make it your aim to screen out negative thoughts and hone in on ones of gratitude, since “researchers have found that people who are grateful are more likely to be happy.”

We will relate to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of Jehovah and his strength, the wonderful things he has done,” says Psalm 78:4

“We also do well to imitate Jehovah regarding the things he chooses to forget,” said the article, and verses such as the following were cited:

Do not remember the sins of my youth and my transgressions...O Jehovah.” (Psalm 25:7) If he doesn’t, why should we?

If errors were what you watch, then who, O Jehovah, could stand?” (Psalm 130: 3-4) If he doesn’t why should we?

And: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mathew 6:14-15) In that event, one had better be forgiving.

And as to retraining ourselves, the article stated: “Among all the creatures on earth, only humans have the ability to learn moral lessons by remembering and analyzing past events,” as it gave some verses as to how we can tune our conscience that way. I thought of the contrast of Sam Harris the atheist, describing his worst case scenario of how the AI creation of humans will someday wipe us all out!—not with malice, but as a logical consequence of having inadvertently gotten in its way somehow and thus being squished by like an ant. It’s a great world that he has chosen for himself. He’s welcome to it.

The Watchtower article mentioned how William Boyce used his skills of communication to uncover the grammatical rules of the Xhosa language for the purpose of Bible translation—is all that work ever done for any other reason?—and in so doing he laid the basis for many African-language translations. Xhosa is among the “klic klic” languages that doesn’t even have words. After the meeting, Kim said how she used to go to a hair salon in Buffalo where they speak it. “Does it sound like birds?” I asked, and she said it did not—it was more like a musical instrument, pleasing to listen to.

I checked to find that Boyce, a Wesleyan clergyman, had never before been mentioned in Watchtower publications—they are not much for honoring humans in that quarter. Rummaging over that, I eventually thought of the contrast in Morris Kline’s book, Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge, where he seems miffed about his colleagues back in the day not getting the credit.

“Indeed, the work of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and most eighteenth-century mathematicians was, as we shall soon see more clearly, a religious quest. The search for the mathematical laws of nature was an act of devotion that would reveal the glory and grandeur of His handiwork,” he writes, presently advancing the seeming complaint that, “each discovery of a law of nature was hailed as evidence of God’s brilliance rather than that of the investigator.”

I could be wrong, but I suspect that clergyman Boyce, who lived with the people in Africa that spoke the unwritten language, would not huff about not receiving credit. He would be content to be perceived as bringing his gift to the altar. It certainly is true of Geoffrey Jackson, now of the Witness Governing Body, who saw during his missionary life among the Polynesian peoples, that they had no written dictionary—and so he wrote one himself.

But as for Kline, he writes a brilliant book and then takes the wrong side of it. He harkens back to the preceding Greeks, who “dared to tackle the universe, and they refused any help from gods, spirits, ghosts, devils, and angels, or other agents unacceptable to a rational mind.” That’s the world he prefers. Is it any wonder that some shrink from the Christian message? “How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?” Jesus says at John 5:44. What is it with Kline and his Greeks—aren’t they the original pedophiles?

 

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Simplified Looks at the Kings of the North and South

That May 2020 Watchtower really simplified how we can look at the Daniel prophesy of the kings of the north and south. I appreciate it for that reason.

I think it can be likened to the ingredients of a sandwich disappearing. When that happens, what’s the point of keeping track of the two slices of bread that enclose it? Such is the case when the weeds swallow up the wheat and the Master says ‘Don’t worry about it—we’ll sort it out at the harvest.’ (Matthew 13:24-30) If the covenant people disappear, why concern oneself about who is the king of the north and south? They vanish, too. This way, you don’t have to trace some tortuous lineage through the centuries that you can get your head around after a fashion, but the moment you turn away it disappears, like your grasp of relativity.

When the covenant people reappear during the harvest—well, we know that they are to be between a rock and a hard place. So look for a rock and a hard place. What could be easier than that? When the harvest season arrives, what two parties during the World Wars hate each other’s guts, and also give the covenant people grief for the same reason, that of neutrality? Easy. This new streamlined method works to everyone’s advantage except for Queen Zenobia (my favorite Bible character, second only to Obi Wan Kenobia), and I have completed my mourning for her.

The second of the study articles made it very clear: “For a government to fill the role of the king of the north or the king of the south, it must do three things: (1) interact directly with God’s people, (2) show by its actions that it is an enemy of Jehovah and his people, and (3) compete with the rival king.”

I noted Trump’s campaign words in Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia?” and how, were that to happen, it would take the prophesy off-script—the two are not supposed to get along. Almost immediately outside forces in the form of the media intervened to ensure that the two kings will not get along—they are to stay on script. Almost from the instant he said it, a Russian collusion narrative emerged to ensure the two kings would remain at loggerheads.

In the course of two weeks, the verses of Daniel 11:25-45 were considered at the meeting. A crash course for anyone not in the know: It is king-of-the-north Germany that opposes the king of the south during both world wars and opposes the covenant people, treating them harshly. With the Allied victory ending WWII, the Soviet Union and later Russia takes over the role of the northern king—pushing & shoving the king of the south and also treating the covenant people harshly, lately to be seen in the banning of their organization and publications, confiscation of their property, and arrests leading to the imprisonment of many.

A nice touch, I thought, was the “little help” rendered at 11:34. Might this be prophetic of the lull in opposition to kingdom preaching from the fall of the Soviet Union to renewed all-out attack on Jehovah’s people in 2017? During this lull, it was not even clear just who the king of the north was. (Davey-the-kid, always quick with a joke, told me it was Bolivia) Jehovah’s Witnesses were the last of all faiths to be legally recognized in 1991 (fall of the Soviet Union) and the first of all faiths (and so far, only) to suffer ban in 2017.

It occurs to me that if the king of the north started being nice to our people he would louse up stipulation 2 of the prophesy, that he must “show by its actions that it is an enemy of Jehovah and his people.” Why doesn’t he do that? There is no better way to discredit Jehovah’s Witnesses than to spectacularly mess up their take on a prophecy. Then we would have to revert back to Davey-the-kid, say it is Bolivia, and look ridiculous.

Well, maybe will happen that way. But it doesn’t seem likely. If Trump couldn’t derail the prophesy, Putin can’t either. It is probably one of those situations of nations being drawn as with hooks in their jaws. They are too determined in a course of their own seeming choice to do any differently.

From paragraph 13 and 14 of the second week’s study:

“A prophecy recorded by Ezekiel gives some insight into what may happen during the last days of the king of the north and the king of the south....it appears that we can expect the following developments....That symbolic hailstorm may take the form... It could be that this message provokes Gog of Magog into attacking God’s people with the intention of wiping them off the earth.” [italics mine]

Joe at the Kingdom Hall, who can always be depended upon for perceptive comments, chimed in about the “wiggle words” that I’ve italicized—it may....it could be...it appears that. Hardly dogmatic, is it? Sure to be missed by Tom Pearlsandswine, that brother who is known for putting the dog into dogmatic! But the words simply indicate that, while we know the final destination, we do not know the precise route to be taken, and the foregoing only indicates the best educated guess at present.

Of course, “educated” in this context means educated in the Bible study of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Despite my “crash course” a few paragraph above, I’ve made no effort to thoroughly explain anything—only the barest outline is offered. It is a little bit like how I have lately been reading Thirty Years that Shook Physics, a 1966 book by George Gamow that stood on my Dad’s bookshelf for 50 years and that I rescued from the estate sale. The preface speaks of “Dr. Gamow’s artistic gift as well as his ability to expand science in the layman’s language.” But as I peruse page after page stuffed with arcane mathematical formulas, I say, “I think they are overestimating his ‘gift.’” It’s not nothing. I’d sooner have him around than Wolfgang Pauli. But he is not exactly Mr. Rogers, and neither have I tried to be with the details of the north and south king.

As to what the final fulfillment will be, and what route it will take, 1 Peter 1:12 says: “Into these very things, angels are desiring to peer.” Are you going to tell them to straighten up and get back to work? No. You won’t stop them. But I like the current sense of couching things that only appear likely in wiggle words. It is a little like how we don’t do anti-types anymore, unless such anti-type is clearly spelled out in the Bible—Jesus’ identification with the Passover lamb, for example. It is enough to say, “this reminds me of that.” What! Is someone going to come along later and say it doesn’t?

 

 

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No Greater Love—How My Family Survived the Genocide in Rwanda, a Book by Tharcisse Seminega

Even of his disciples Jesus said there were things they were not yet able to bear. What does that say about speaking to non-disciples?

Tharcisse Seminega takes this into account his book No Greater Love—How My Family Survived the Genocide in Rwanda. Proclaiming the superiority of one’s religion comes across as crass in “educated” parts of the world, and it is actually illegal in Russia—that is among the pretexts used to ban the Jehovah’s Witness organization. The local populace, not being able to get their heads around something so devious as banning a religion’s organization but not the religion itself, conducts itself as though the Witnesses themselves are banned. What sensible person would not?

So Brother Seminega has to self-pedal this part about “religious superiority,” a part that many would say is integral to giving a thorough witness. I don’t blame him for this—it is the only way he can reach his intended audience. Besides, whoever has spent several weeks in the hole, hidden at enormous risk by his spiritual brothers, while others of his tribe are being slaughtered wholesale on the outside, can do whatever he likes.

That he privately has given a thorough witness is clear from the Foreword, written by a fellow academic, John K. Roth, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Claremont McKenna College: “As a result, the book makes an appeal to folks like me who are not members of that particular community: Embrace and follow the ethical values embedded in the acts that saved the Seminegas. I am grateful for that invitation.” Yet, he does miss the point. He takes away from this book not that people should embrace the religion that stood fast in the face of genocide, but “the ethical value embedded in the acts that saved the Seminegas,” as though such a separation were possible. [Italics mine]

Brother Seminega prefers to let others say it, not he himself. He is content to include in an appendix: “Peace and conflict researcher Christian P. Scherrer states: ‘All the churches active in Rwanda, with the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (of whom only a few survived), were involved at least ‘passively’ in the genocide.’ Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa: Conflict Roots, Mass Violence, and Regional War (London: Praeger, 2002), 113.” [Italics mine]

He doesn’t thereafter say, “You see? Our religion is superior!” even though anyone of moral sense can deduce it from the above passage. There are examples in his book, corroborated by international adjudicators, of clergymen purposefully luring Tutsi parishioners to their churches to be slaughtered by the thousands. A passage from his book, that of his wife who was not then a Witness, testifies from her spot of hiding:

The stifling conditions, lack of sleep, scanty food, and darkness had a numbing effect on our minds. But one thing I knew: I, my husband, and all five of my children were alive because our Jehovah’s Witness friends had repeatedly risked their lives to save us. Their faith was like a rock. They lived for peace. No one could force them to use weapons against their neighbors, even those of a different ethnicity. They would sooner die than harm others. They were Hutu, just like the machete-wielding murderers who spilled rivers of blood. It pained me to think of it, but I knew in my heart that the vast majority of Hutu killers claimed to be Christian. Most of them belonged to my Catholic church.

Okay? The Witness religion is superior. Yet Brother Seminega is writing to an audience loath to accept that idea. “If he will really say it, the radio won’t play it, unless he lays it between the lines,” so that is what he does. The greater sophisticated world wants to view the atrocity as though there are noble qualities distributed more or less at random among all religions, and in this case, it is but the luck of the draw that they fell to Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is clear in how religionnews.com reviews the book. It does what it can to obscure the conclusion inescapable to anyone of common sense: of the superiority of a religion that alone enabled all members to withstand genocide. (Or maybe it is that I am myself influenced by how that source doesn’t appear to regard Witnesses as a religion, and how such is not necessarily disagreeable to the JW organization.)

It expounds on how “Witnesses had long been oppressed for refusing to take up weapons or participate in politics. Because of this apolitical teaching... ‘Hutu Witnesses were impervious to calls for patriotic Hutu to take part in mass killings’... Professor Seminega says that his family’s rescuers and other Witnesses followed Jesus’ “new commandment”—To love one another just as he loved them, even to the death.”

Note how “new commandment” is in quote marks, as though it is new to the reviewers themselves, or at least an unsophisticated and quaint notion that they know is not one that readers can be expected to quickly get their heads around.

Maybe the professor has something to teach us, is the tone of the review and the Foreword. It cannot hurt that he is a professor. What learned lesson does he, and maybe even the people he has sided with, have to teach us? In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses do try to teach them—every single day they try—and their attempts are rebuffed. To secure the integrity of the Witnesses, they have to side with the kingdom—and most of them don’t even know what it is. To secure the integrity of the Witnesses, they have to become “no part of the world” (John 17:16), and most of them are fully part of it.

Here, Brother Seminega’s academic connections come in handy, for he is able to trace the historical, political, and religious roots that ultimately triggered the Rwandan sudden slide into barbarism. He, the former Catholic seminarian, writes of the Catholic Church’s deep involvement in “the world,” and of how it abruptly switched sides in the late 20th century, from that of oppressor—the Church had historically been associated with the European colonizers, and as such promoted the “privileged” tribe of the Tutsi—to the oppressed, the “lesser” Hutu. If you embrace the world and its power plays, you eventually embrace its tactics, and the tactics in this case descended to genocide.

It doesn’t happen that often. During most times of normal stress, church teachings and even politics are enough to, after a fashion, ensure acceptable conduct among members. But during times of abnormal stress, they collapse completely.

Did no one of the greater Rwandan religious community other than Jehovah’s Witnesses act nobly? A small minority did, and this is detailed in the Appendix section. The end of Tharcisse Seminega’s narrative marks only the halfway point of the book. Numerous appendices follow, which start with the same tale told through the eyes of different participants, as though the author has taken a cue from construction of the four Gospels themselves. Thereafter, No Greater Love is the work of a meticulous historian, and he nails down each historical detail of a story and its aftermath that ought never suffer extinction.

The small minority of religious Hutu that did not participate in genocide is enough for a certain church revisionist to write that “church institutions cannot be blamed for the moral failure of individuals who abandoned Christian values.” However, scholar Timothy Longman cuts the Church no slack—the fact that some did it proved they all could have done it, is his position. This dovetails with some digging I did for ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ Perhaps 10% of church Christians refused to support Hitler during Nazi times. Is that good? Of course. But the fact remains that they had to defy their own church to do it, churches that invariably played ball with the dictator. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, the figure is close to 100%. How can anyone state that their religion is not superior, or that the organization that coordinates is not to be lauded?

The greater lesson for the religious scholars that Brother Seminega has is that they should become Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is a collection of core teachings often discussed (two have been cited here: identification with the kingdom and withdrawal from the politicized world) that serve to identify one and only one religion. There is no setting more poignant than 1990’s Rwanda or 1940’s Germany to highlight how vital those teachings are. This is why those “apostates” who vehemently oppose the Witnesses readily slide into hypocrisy. They ignore the vital core teachings—rarely when people leave the faith do I ever hear them referring to such things again—to rail about how the faith impeded their freedom of movement. They ignore the vital core teachings, preferring to put humans under the magnifying glass in a search for dirt. They dig through the diamonds in search of the turds and present revelation of the turds as their version of “good news.”

I like how at the 2019 annual meeting, Mark Sanderson examined Hebrews 2:15, of how “through [Jesus’] death [God] might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil, and that he might set free all those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.” He then spoke of the Nuremberg trials, in which various Nazis who had committed unspeakable atrocities were asked the simple question, “How could you do those terrible things?” “What did they say?” he asked, and then related the answer they had given: “We had no choice. If we didn’t obey they would put us to death.” 

“Those people could be manipulated,” Sanderson said. “They could be controlled. They could be made to do the most wicked things because they were afraid.” It was true of the Hutu tribe as well. To not join in “the work” of slaughter was enough to be put to death oneself for being disloyal to the cause. Many consciences, religious and otherwise, were cast aside due to fear of death.

That’s manipulation. That’s control. That’s the consequence of—shall we say it?—not being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and benefiting from the program of spiritual food directed from their Governing Body. Reject it and settle for a genocide every so often when with winds blow just right—history affirms that such will happen.

Professor Roth welcomes No Greater Love, agreeing with the author that it is likely the first book by a Jehovah’s Witness writing of his own experience, the first book by someone who was there. It almost didn’t come about. From the Acknowledgments section, Brother Seminega thanks Alexandre Kimenyi, the scholar who invited him to speak and subsequently encouraged him to gather his records for history.

I wrote in Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia that “books about Jehovah’s Witnesses authored by Jehovah’s Witnesses are not plentiful. This is a shame, for no outsider, even with the best of intentions, can do justice to the faith as can an insider - they miss the nuances, and in some cases, even the facts. Jehovah’s Witnesses are primarily drawn from the ranks of working people, who are not inclined to write books... Why write a book when you can and do look people in the eye and tell them what you have to say?” Professor Seminega is from a class that is inclined to write books, yet he still doesn’t do it until much later, after outside encouragement, because he is used to “looking people in the eye and telling them what he has to say.”

In time, a Russian Jehovah’s Witness will write a book of his experiences at the hands of current persecutors there, and when that happens, his book will rightly vault ahead of mine. Mine is merely a compilation and analysis of worldwide news reports, along with a considerable amount of witnessing along the way, but not so much as to negate its historical value. When that Russian Witness writer appears, he or she will be likely facilitated by the Arnold Liebster Foundation, as has been the case with No Greater Love. This, too, will vault it ahead of mine, because the Foundation at present regards me with a dubious eye. Probably they came across me when I was battling online with the malcontents and said, “What Witness would do that?” They do not know that I subsequently kicked them all to the curb.

No matter. At the Kingdom Hall, we would straighten it out in two minutes. But the internet is the land of the liars where frauds roam at will, and it can be difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Of course, it is always possible that they regard even taking on the controversial topics that I do as the work of an “indiscreet brother,” and should this be the case, who am I to say that they are not right? Maybe I am the soldier singing atop the Jerusalem wall after Hezekiah has told the troops to zip it.

 

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Is The Judge of the Entire Inhabited Earth Not Going to Do What is Right?

Q: We have had the same problem when questioned about Armageddon, especially when we know there has been so little chance to make headway in many countries where no one has heard anything positive about JWs, if they've heard of us at all. 

...

I don’t even pretend to know how this works. I know what is the place of safety. I know what is my obligation to publicize it. Everything else involves matters “too great for me.” 

Can you be some distance from the place of safety or not on millimeter? Dunno. “Is it only Jehovah’s Witnesses who will be saved?” someone asked my daughter, now a need-greater. “Well—I’m not Jesus, and I don’t know,” she replied. What of the verse that you will by no means complete the circuit of Israel before the son of man arrives? How does that factor in? Will Jehovah pull some last minute trick like he did with Jonah?

It is enough to know that he can read hearts. I’ll just do an Abraham and say, “is not the Judge of the entire earth going to do what is right?” After Armageddon, (let us assume that I find myself on the other side of it) I will look around, see who I see, and say, “I guess that’s what is right.”

All we can do is what we can do. Between house-to-house, carts, internet, and just plain zeal, what we have done is a lot. Is the kingdom the burning issue in everyone’s mind that they consciously approve or reject, as some of our material would suggest? Or is it that people are consumed with the day-to-day and “take no note” of what is happening around them, as also some of our material would suggest? What is the interplay between the two?

The issue is do people prefer government by God or government by men. The Witness organization would be negligent to not continually stress the place of safety and call attention to verses that indicate you’d better be there. They would be negligent to not urge those there to prioritize their lives so as to join Christ in saying “Come.” They have not been negligent. Imitate them, says 2 Thess 3:7-9. Imitate their faith, says Heb 13:17, a faith that has manifested itself as deeds, because faith without works is dead.

That is enough for me to go on. You don’t have to know every little thing. Not a sparrow falls to the ground unseen by the Father. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t fall. How many will fall, and why, and how many will stand? How many now seated (or even lying) will ultimately stand?

‪Those who heard this said: “Who possibly can be saved?” [Jesus] said: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.”‬ (Luke 18:26-27)

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Amazing New Parchment Brings to Life Details of Exodus 8!

They are wicked smart over there at the Whitepebble Biblical Institute. Dumb people need not apply. Try hard to hide that fact as Wilhelm Whitepebble scrutinizes your job application, because he doesn’t miss much.

A normal day finds him at his desk, elbow-deep in ancient manuscripts, dislodging secrets from them that they yield to no one else. But once in a while he smells a rat. He suspects that verses are missing, just as his great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather did with the Book of Mark—it simply ends too abruptly—and wrote a squirrelly little conclusion himself involving handling snakes and drinking poison.

The current passage that Whitepebble finds curiously incomplete is that of the eighth chapter of Exodus, in which Moses calls forth frogs to plague the land of Egypt and then the magic-practicing priests do the same. “Something is missing,” Wilhelm furrows his brow, “but what?”

Whenever Whitepebble is hot on the scent, he goes out to the dry dessert where parchments are preserved for thousands of years. Sure enough, after poking around a bit, he found one—and it does indeed offer a fascinating footnote to the historical record. It introduces a character found in no other Bible verse—Samthesham Sfinx.

Here is the passage of Exodus 8:1-8 , now revealed as incomplete, that first caught Wilhelm Whitepebble’s attention:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

“[vs 5] And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. [vs 6]And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. [vs 7] But the magic practice ing prests did so with their enchantments, and [also] brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. [vs 8] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do.”

Scholars, especially the scholars that are not fussy, are much enthused with Whitepebble’s new find, and it is currently housed in the central museum of some little town whose name I forget, where it has been dubbed the whitepebble hogwaticulus manuscript. Manifestly, it calls for a new numbering system, as it extends both the present verse 6 and 7, and makes them of unwieldy length:

“vs 5] And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. [vs 6]And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.

Now, there was dwelling in the land of Egypt a crude man named Samthesham Sfinx, a man harsh in his ways, and uncouth, who was nevertheless a man who put trust in the gods of Egypt. As the frogs came into his house, covering all that was his, and from the kitchen his wife started to let him hear about it, he said, “Not a problem. Don’t we have magic-practicing priests? They’ll get rid of them.”

[vs 7] And then magic practicing priests did likewise with their enchantments, and also brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. Sam, who had been looking forward to their exodus, found that the frogs had doubled in his home, and his wife shrieked something fierce. And so Sam, earthly man that he was, said to Moses and the magic-practicing priests, “Hey, anytime you guys want to take your pissing contest elsewhere, that will be perfectly fine by me!”

[vs 8] Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do.”

You have to see this amazing parchment, which reveals that rank and file Egyptians of that time entertained an ‘enough-is-enough’ policy regarding frogs. Shoot me a text should you decide to go visit, and I’ll rummage through my notes. I’m pretty sure I’ve still retained where the place is, assuming that my wife hasn’t thrown it away during one of her housecleaning expeditions. It may even be in my glove box. She usually misses that.

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110 Homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses Raided in a Single Day - Russia

When the song “Give us Courage” was released at the 2018 Be Courageous Regional Conventions, an accompanying video depicted soldiers in full military gear closing in on entirely ordinary and manifestly harmless Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were doing no more than minding their own business. “How cult-like!” said the ridiculers. “What is it with these people and their “persecution complex?”

In fact, the video prefigures events that have come to pass, as absurdly unlikely as they might seem. After all, arresting entirely harmless people is crazy in itself. But what multiplies the craziness 100-fold is to arrest them in full military gear including assault rifles. Yet this is exactly what was done in the Voronezh Region of Russia on July 13, 2020as 110 homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were raided—a new record. Congregation members were forced to the ground with their faces pressed into the floor. At least two were beaten.

Many of these persons are elderly. They include women and children. There is no possibility of them offering resistance and everybody knows it. They are almost the only group whose entire history demonstrates that under no circumstances will they resort to violence. Yet they are arrested as you would terrorists.

Assuming that arrests are called for (a ridiculous assumption that we will let pass so as to pursue a greater point), why would arrests be made in such a brutal manner? Two reasons present themselves,

1) Outright hate.

2) Saving face.

If you declare people “extremists” and then arrest them as you would a jaywalker, you are only making yourself look a liar. You are only proving that they are not extremists at all, and that you well know it. Better to arrest them in military style. You may look unhinged in that event, but at least you appear to be acting in accord with your convictions, plus you are creating maximum terror against gentle people. It’s a little like beating up on girls—in a rapidly escalating game of hardball.

This calls to mind how Abraham Lincoln would say that he was not smart enough to lie—for if he did, he knew he would have to adjust every subsequent statement and action to accord with that first lie if he was to retain an ounce of credibility. Having swallowed the lie that Witnesses are extremists, Russian police forces now have to act as though they are.

The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses foresaw this. It is the most unlikely scenario in the world, and yet they foresaw it. Does this “prove” that Jehovah is with the Witness Governing Body—to transfer Brother Glock’s remarks to more readily adaptable content? Sometimes all you need do with a statement like that from Glock is to show a little flexibility. Like the boy that was spanked by his Dad and protested that he hadn’t committed the offense for which he was being punished. “Well—in that case, it’s for something that you did do for which you should have been punished but weren’t,” dear old dad said.

The world of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is turned upside down. Even raids that do not result in their arrest result in the confiscation of belongings—typically including tablets and phones. Still, they take some satisfaction in knowing that their staying faithful under trial calls worldwide attention to the Christian course they pursue. Theirs is somewhat the response of Christians in the first century, who upon being released from punishment, “rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to be dishonored for the sake of his name.” (Acts 5:41) It is not the type of witness that most would choose, but it is a witness; it does bring to life how “you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9)

I do not look forward to the experience, and living in the West as I do, it may not come. Human rights people carry much more popular sway in the West than they do in Russia, where the very concept is suspiciously regarded as a Western intrusion—so says Chivchalov. Even in Russia—“Look, the Devil will throw some of you into prison,” the apostle John warns—not all of you. Even Bart Ehrman apparently speaks for the academic community when he states that Christian martyrs of the first century probably numbered in the hundreds—they did not include everyone.

But so often in life we cannot choose our “assignment.” The trick is to be like Paul, who knew how to live regardless of his circumstances. (Phil 4:12) All reports are that the Russian brothers are facing their persecutors with enormous resolve, courage, and integrity. I pray that should it ever become my turn, I will just as readily follow their example.

 

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Brother Glock and the Woo Factor - Part 2

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw that Vic Vomodog and I had both liked a certain post. “How did that happen?” I asked myself in alarm. But then I saw that there was indeed common ground to agree upon. It is just that he took away an unjustified conclusion. He pumped his fist with a simultaneous high-five at mention that the GB Covid #4 update is just good sound human advice, and is absent any woo factor. But Vic chalked up too soon his victory. At most he should have flopped a limp fist with a simultaneous high-two.
 
For those who don’t know, the term ‘woo’ is a derisive term of the scientist/philosopher/atheist/cheerleaders—a group that is entirely different from scientists who just go about doing science, though there is some overlap—as so much from that quarter is. It refers to how the intelligent people will run past the dummies something the latter can’t understand, and so they attribute it to the supernatural, as in exclaiming like the gullible dolts they supposedly are, “Woo-woo!”
 
But sometimes they just kid themselves in their supposed enlightened superiority, as Vic does here—just like the intrepid explorer did when he suddenly found himself surrounded by primitive cannibals! He pulled a lighter from his pocket, flicked it, and a low flame emerged. The astonished natives gasped ‘Woo! Woo!’ and fell back. “MAGIC!!” the explorer said in a deep voice. “It must be,” the chief said. “That’s the first time we’ve ever seen one light on the first try!”

So Vomodog thinks he has “won” with the admission that the Covid update is just good human advice? He thinks that it proves his case somehow—to win an admission that the GB is not drawing on woo? I never thought that they were in this instance. Nor, I doubt did many. Nor, as likely as not, did Brother Glock, who gave the talk that started this ball rolling.

Here is a statement from Harry Cheadle, in NewRepublic.com: “The current moment [of responding to Covid 19] is demonstrating just how far away we are from being able to come together to solve a planetary crisis. The pandemic is a test, and we’re failing it.

This statement is true because nobody agrees on anything. Propose a course, and find yourself lambasted by a faction advocating the opposite course. The Governing Body is the only entity that can issue an update of Covid 19 without my saying, “What is their real motive here?” 

There is a public talk on making sound decisions that recognizes it is often not so crucial that you have made this or that decision, but it is crucial that you follow through on whatever you decide. This the greater world is unable to do. It is the paralysis of everyone challenging everyone else that collectively delivers the verdict, as Cheadle puts it, that “we’re failing the crisis.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t failing it, and it is because of completely human factors that they enjoy and the greater world does not. Witnesses have the ability to yield. They don’t insist on their own way. They do not have to “question authority” on every piddly little thing. They trust leadership. They see that the direction given obviously has their interests at heart, and that it is not too onerous—it allows for individual family headship, it allows that the circumstances of one family will not be that of another, and doesn’t try to tell them all what to do, even as it sets a greater overall theme of caution. In contrasts the direction of some human leaders range from draconian to complete laissez faire.

“Well, that’s just good sound thinking,” Vic would say, “based upon Bible verses that show good sound thinking. We could have done that.” But the fact is that he didn’t. And in fact, he can’t—because he has sided among those with a societal inability to agree, a societal inability to compromise, and a societal inability to endure delayed gratification. Return to the fold, and he will find it again, but it’s not to be found in the greater world that he has chosen.

In fact, I have no problem if Brother Glock does think that a woo factor is at work, nor would I ever rule out that there might be—it is just that you can’t “prove” it in the scientific sense. But the fact is, you can discard all the woo, and still have the greater argument. You still have Vic swimming in a chaotic cesspool of argument, indecision, and waffling. You still have him, like an insane Jeremiah, at the bottom of a miry cistern, trying to persuade Ebed-Melech to come down and join him. You still have him trying to sell you the bill of goods that your life would improve if you would just step over to the morass that is his.

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Farewell, Queen Zenobia—We Barely Knew Ye

Queen Zenobia given the boot!* She was almost my favorite Bible character, second only to Obi-Wan Kenobia. I’m in mourning.

The Witness Governing Body have said they are not inspired, and I guess this proves the point! “Zenobia and Kenobia!” some traveling overseers were shouting—or at least they would have been if they’d thought of it—and they got it right from HQ!. She came crashing to the ground yesterday with no one to mourn her—with no one to say, “Too bad, too bad, you Great Dame!” What a flip-flop to treat the old girl with such disrespect! How can God not be displeased? That evening I prepared a protest sign: “Zenobia Lives!” but then I realized there would be no convention to carry it to.

If the king of the north is the upper slice, the king of the south the lower, and the ingredients disappear, as they do when the weeds overrun the wheat, then there barely is any point to having the sandwich, is there? Let the two slices disappear, too, even the one on which Queen Zenobia had arisen. Don’t keep track of them. Who needs them? Too bad for Queenie, though, fine woman that she was—she is sent packing. “Ah, Queenie, we barely knew ye,” some of the brothers were saying, almost in tears.

When the people of God reappear, who’s putting the squeeze on them, as the kings of the north & south must scripturally do? Who are the players? Their identity soon becomes apparent, as the opposing forces of the two World Wars come into view. Both sides are hostile against those faithful to the covenant, and both sides are hostile for the same reason—their non-participation in the worldwide conflagration. They have decided to sit that one out—it is too much for the two kings to tolerate. They do not—in fact all the kings on earth do not agree on much—but they do agree on Psalm 2.

The kings of the earth take their stand, and high officials gather together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one. They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles and throw off their ropes!’”

The people of God are to be between a rock and a hard place. When they make their reappearance, who corresponds to the rock and who the hard place? Reverse the slices if you like, but otherwise these forces are not hard to identify. There was even brief reference at the end to the “image of the wild beast”—the human agency that would rule the earth by man. The kingdom of God is the divine agency that would rule it by God. The contrast is easy to see.

This is the gist of the Watchtower Study covered just before the first day of the Regional. Of all studies not to read the paragraphs before, it would have to be this one. Tom Pearlsandswine can usually hide the fact that he does not prepare beforehand—he has never prepared for anything in his life. No such l**k this time. I dropped the fact to him casually that we were not reading the paragraphs. I could hear the gears in his head turning:

Hmm. “King of the North.” I really should have looked this study over more. [More!? How about just some?] Hmm. The north....Who is in the north? Santa Claus! Yeah—he’s supposed to live there! I can always raise my hand and say that! Nobody will know I didn’t prepare!”

 

*Sidebar from that Watchtower considered Sunday: For the reason stated [in the text], it no longer seems appropriate to list Roman Emperor Aurelian (270-275 C.E.) as a “king of the north” or Queen Zenobia (267-272 C.E.) as a “king of the south.” This updates what was published in chapters 13 and 14 of the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy!

Easy for them to say! I sort of had a crush on her.

....(with apologies to Elvis):

A very old friend came by today
'Cause he was telling everyone in town
Of the love that he just found
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
He talked and talked and I heard him say
That she had the longest, blackest hair
Prettiest green eyes anywhere
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
Though I smiled the tears inside were burning
Well I wished him l**k and then he said goodbye
He was gone but still his words kept returning
What else was there for me to do but cry
 
Would you believe that yesterday
This girl was in my arms and swore to me
She'd be mine eternally
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
 
 
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