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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 22-28, 2021

This weekend there was no regular meeting due to the Memorial of Christ’s death celebrated Saturday night. Most members linked to a discussion of the daily text that morning, which of course, was a discussion of that occasion.

Weekday Meeting: Yikes! That brother who so frequently forgets to unmute himself begins the meeting by forgetting to unmute himself. #midweekmeeting

To one idiot who said the Bible MEANS what it SAYS and SAYS what it MEANS, and every word is LITERALLY TRUE, John Caister quoted Leviticus 20:24 and told him to get out the hip boots for slogging through that milk and honey. #midweekmeeting

That one sister gave a downside to returning to Egypt not usually mentioned—they would not be able to observe the Mosaic law there, only recently given them. Plainly, that law wasn’t that big of a deal to 10 of the 12. ...1/2

They were even saying to one another: “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt!” (Numbers 14:4)...2/2

“If, though, we became obsessed with guilt over our past mistakes, we could begin to doubt whether Jehovah has really “blotted out” all our sins. (Acts 3:19)”

Only 2 days ago did I speak to someone in need of this advice

That congregation member who went on to serve as a need-greater in Myanmar just returned from that assignment today, hoping to go back eventually, but not sure if it will be feasible.

“I didn’t know what their reaction would be. Sometimes you imagine people laughing at you.”

Everyone likes Nita and Jade, on the program this eve. I admit that when I first heard her respond to the Learn Bible Truth sign with “Give me a truth,” I did not understand her for the accent. I am American, after all.

“I’m not sure who Galaxy x-9 is” the conductor says. If it was me, I would answer in a robotic voice just to get him going.

You must admit that the video plays up the wholesomeness of Nita’s life and the disorder that is Jade. Ah well, it’s only 2 or 3 minutes long and you have to pack in the point

My wife looks at me whenever I sing words that aren’t there, or substitute words that don’t necessarily make any sense. “Huh! The brothers got the words wrong,” I tell her.

I liked that video of the bro reflecting on maintaining neutrality in 1970s Zaire. Intimidating for declining flag salute, for not joining the one political party, demoted for those reasons, which made daily needs difficult, he nonetheless held firm throughout is life.

The preceding (of Zaire) prompted the conductor to quote Ernest Hemingway: “Courage is grace under pressure.” How many elders would do that? (or know that?) I didn’t.

I am the reader this eve for the Ezekiel book, but the reading is canceled for lengthy announcements. Only the read scriptures I do. Like “Very soon I will pour out my rage on you, and I will fully unleash my anger against you, and I will judge you according to your ways...1/2

and call you to account for all your detestable deeds. (Ezekiel 7:8) Well, now that you put it THAT way. Pretty sobering stuff....2/2

“They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will become abhorrent to them. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them .” Many times I have heard these words of Ezekiel 7:19.

Yikes! This time it was ME that didn’t unmute! (I blame my computer—but not aloud—no one wants to hear it.) There is someone who not only almost always forgets to unmute, but, once unmuted, feels obliged to explain how it happened.

Of course, that gold in the streets verse is tied in with something like Matthew 6:24: “24“No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.”

Appropriate announcements about the Memorial, the upcoming visit of the CO, someone’s relative who died, and several who will be aux pioneering, and we’re done.

Two toddlers in the congregation. Everybody oohs and ahhs over zoom at how they have grown,

One sister in a big house tells in the breakout rooms how the hamster got loose and fell 2 stories down the vents, but shook it off and carried on.

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....The Memorial itself was not live-tweeted, of course. But I posted some of it later here”

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Object Lessons at the Memorial Talk.

The Memorial speaker spent more than the usual time (so it seemed to me) in discussion of how many had the heavenly hope, and, if they did not, were they stuck with some second-rate inferior “earth” promise? Moreover, if anyone did need hand-holding on this matter, it was okay. Adam left us all to die, he pointed out. It is okay to need reassurance.

How many Senators are there in the United States, he asked. 100. How many Representatives? 435. How many in total constitute the government? 535. How do we know that? Because it is written. Where is it written? In the Constitution. You can see where this is going. The number of humans to rule in the heavenly government is also written in the Christian “Constitution.” It is 144,000.

535 to represent a nation of 330 million. 144,000 to represent a nation of ultimately several billion. It’s about right. Close enough. Furthermore, since the beginning of time, God has determined where his creatures will serve him. Angels will serve him in heaven, humans on earth, and “no one has ever had an issue with this.” We don’t choose where we serve him, he pointed out, but we do choose if we serve him..

I haven’t figured this out yet, and it wasn’t part of the talk, but one of the four groups of Jews active in Jesus’s day (Essenes—the only ones not specifically mentioned in the Bible, in contrast to Pharisees, Sadducees, and a political type sometimes called Zealots) is described by Bart Ehrman as Jews who didn’t think or carry on as though their home were in this world, but in the next. They lived on earth, of course, but didn’t feel they belonged. They tended to hole up in separate colonies, where they hubbubed with each other. This so reminds one of an uptick over the last 2 or 3 decades of those partaking of emblems, although they do not fit the “profile” (faithful Christians with a long track record of faith and works) that you wonder what is going on. Not all of these ones remain in the congregation. There are some who depart, like Essenes themselves, and thereafter express concerned that their anointed status is not more widely recognized.

Or speaker next talked about his home life as a teen. He does this a lot and most in the circuit have come to feel they know his father. The telephone would ring. They didn’t have each one his own smart phone like people do today, he said. There was one phone in the house. He, our speaker, said how he always hoped it was one particular person, one especially sweet someone. Dad would always pick up the phone. By his tone and initial words, our speaker knew the call was not for him. It was for dear old dad. Thereafter, he didn’t have any interest in it—it wasn’t for him. He certainly had no need of asking his Dad—was the call really for him? much less reassuring him that the call was or questioning him on how he knew it was.

This is the same dad who played it cool when our speaker said how, as a teen, he had announced he would no longer go to meetings because they were repetitious. The old man took it in stride. The son was relieved. He had no idea that it would go so well.

That evening he even made the boy peanut butter sandwiches. The kid loved peanut butter sandwiches, and Dad didn’t pinch pennies with the peanut butter, as he sometimes did, to say nothing of the jam.

The next day the boy made his own peanut butter sandwich, as he did each day. “What are you doing?!” Dad asked incredulously, as though the boy has taken leave of his senses. He was not satisfied with the boy’s answer. “I forbid you to eat that sandwich,” he decreed, with all of his dadhood authority.

Of course, the problem was that it was the same old food he’d eaten yesterday—it was repetitive. And with that, Dad reasoned the boy back to the meetings. He might have made the kid go back on any account, until the boy turned of age, and was off on his own. That’s what parents do. If you do not teach your child, it does not mean that they grow up free and unencumbered, and, when of age, select their own values from the rich cornucopia of life. No. All it means is that someone else will teach them. Why should a parent relinquish that God-given responsibility?

He spins a yarn like this from his boyhood each time he comes, and he comes every 6 months. He is our circuit overseer and how we snagged him as our Memorial speaker I haven’t a clue.

Everyone greeted him on the Zoom squares beforehand. How are you doing? they wanted to know. “I’ll feel better after an hour,” he said. He was just making polite humble banter. But I took him at his word. “If even Jack is nervous,” I said, “what hope is there for rest of us?” Jack is a gifted speaker.

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Live Tweets From Ancient Egypt: Part 3

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking.

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Lecture 5

The professor said his goal was that everyone should be able to read and write his name in hieroglyphs his talks conclusion. Up till then I thought maybe the lecture would be too technical to tweet, but it’s game on!

OK, ancient Egyptian is not picture writing. Most people think it is, but it’s not. I thought it was.

Two languages are on the Rosetta Stone, but three scripts. Briar says it is like Egyptian in type, Egypt in cursive, and Greek.

St Mark entered Egypt in the first century CE, says briar. He was preaching the Trinity, which the Egyptians ate right up. They were used to trinity’s.

Egyptian Christians are cops. Monotheism is divisive, says Bob. Because it is saying I am right, and all you others are wrong. Yeah, I suppose. Sometimes things like that.

Coptic is ancient Egyptian written phonetically. And those ancient Christians were Copts, not cops. Thank you AI

In fairness, though, perhaps a few of them became cops.

As usual, I’m walking the dog. I’m keeping abreast with a pair of robins on the other side of the fence beautiful weather lately. Spring is at hand. And I saw a cartoon of Batman’s Robin peeking behind a tree presented as a sign of spring.

Neither of these dogs are mine, but they’re having a ball in the nearby creek.

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The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, brought to Egypt Britain in in 1801, was not deciphered until 1822. When it was, the written history of ancient Egypt could be on earth,

There is an extremely frisky brown puppy that keeps getting under my feet, tripping me up. He was trying to play with my old dog, who kept saying, I don’t want to play, but remember, I’m the boss!

The Rosetta stone is basically a thank you note written by the priest of Egypt thanking time with me for excusing them from Texas. [taxes—AI strikes again] Written in hieroglyphs, because it was important and the language of the people so others could read it, and Greek, because no Greeks could read it

I don’t think Bob’s project will work, that I can write my name in hieroglyphs. But I am distracted, walking the dog. I could if I was at home.

There were no vowels in ancient Egyptian, just like ancient Hebrew. Bob says it is because people were mostly illiterate, and a vowel is just a placeholder, not very significant in itself.

The point is, and I get this, a hieroglyph does not represent a picture. It represents a sound. So choose the sounds, or hieroglyphs, that correspond to your name, and you are home free.

Oh. OK. They could be pictorial, but usually weren’t. Three ways to write hieroglyphs. One of them was a picture, if you didn’t have the space to write something out.

There are now four dogs in the dog park. A German Shepherd has entered, bigger than my dog. Oh. My dog is trying to mount. Not to worry, he’s fixed. Where are his manners?

As much as I study the Bible with this dog, it doesn’t do a bit of good. Meanwhile, Bob says hieroglyphs can be written left to right, right to left, up to down, or down to up.

It was that way for artistic purposes, Bob says. Egyptian’s liked cemetery. The nail fold up to down bisecting the country making everything symmetrical. [symmetry—the Nile flowed]...I think I will post such corrections as a nod to AI

Lecture five, just ended, was the Rosetta stone. Lecture six, just starting, is the first nation in history.

Walk is over for the frisky dog that tripped me up. They are taking him out. Of course he leans my way to say bye. And I give them a good tousle.

No Egyptian crown has ever been found. There was none in King Tuts tomb, for example, he couldn’t take it with him. Bob thinks that at any given time there was only one in existence, history, which he admits might be wrong.

Huh! Bob says Egyptian temples would have inner compartments, called holy of holies, where just the god or statue was. So maybe it wasn’t just a Hebrew thing it was an attribute of other temples.

Dusk is falling, my wife just called for me to do something else. I’ll have to come back to this later. Usually I walk the dog much earlier in the day. But we were on a mission today.

...Several times Bob refers to the relief of the person with a nose ring with string attached to a falcon, (the king) and each time he does, he appends: “this poor guy.”

When the Greeks came into Egypt, the swampy mouth area of the Nile was triangular shaped, like the Greek letter ‘delta.’ That’s how rivers today often end in deltas

Other middle eastern areas had kings, but only Egypt had a god-king, and that was a “really good thing,” Bob says. Yeah, I think so, because he can do whatever he wants.

Another reference to Plato’s philosopher kings. I wrote about these guys, and how they are in most respects reflected in the Governing Body of JWs.

Bob carries on with much enthusiasm about what you can do with a strong king, even a god-king. You can raise armies and dig irrigation ditches. You just say what you want done, and people do it! Reminds me of that centurion speaking to Jesus.

...Go to Part 4

 

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What AI is Like:

When you tweet from ancient Egypt, speaking into the phone and relying upon AI, you soon learn it is dicey to say Phoraoh Sneferu by name. You do better to name him Pharoah Steven, and make corrections later. Even this is risky. He might emerge as feral Steven.

AI is dumb enough not to recognize whenever you stray off the beaten path with unfamiliar words. Yet it is smart enough to know a sentence should make sense. Therefore, it not only screws up Sneferu, but also two or three words on either side as it tries to reinterpret the entire sentence. It’s both dumb and smart!

It reminds me of the fellow who was selling a talking dog for only $10. Making sure it could really talk, a potential buyer asked it many questions. Yes, the dog said, he could really talk. He had learned to do so auditing courses at the university where they would not let him formerly enroll, discriminating against him because he was a dog. This is how he, after learning how to speak, went on to lead various Dog Rights protests up and down the coast. Furthermore, he had worked for the New York Times and they had sent him to Egypt on a story. where he had explored the pyramids. (He even confessed to peeing on some of the great stones.) Then he bought an entry-level stake in bitcoin and was now a billionaire.

“This is amazing!” the buyer exclaimed. “Why are you selling him for just ten dollars?”

“Because he’s a big liar!” the seller said. “He never did any of those things!”

That’s what AI is like.

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 4:

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets 

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Bob starts his lecture by once again gushing about the advantages of a strong king. What comes to my mind was the Israelites pestering Samurai [Samuel—thank you, AI] before about the same. Yeah! That’s what we want! A king! Trusting in God is so for losers. We want a king!

The first Egyptian city the invading Greeks came across was Memphis. They asked the name of it They couldn’t pronounce the answer. The closest they could come was a word that later morphed into Egypt. (No, and it wasn’t because Elvis wasn’t there to say it right)

Petrie was the first archaeologists to pay his workers for every discovery they made. Up till then, the saying was that archaeologists discover only large objects, never small. The reason was that the workers would pocket the small items themselves to sell privately.

One kings mama fied arm [mummied arm] was donated to the Egyptian museum in 1890. The Director stripped the gold rings off the arm, kept them in the museum, and threw away the arm. The archaeologists later said that sometimes museums are dangerous places.

A fine bit of ancient trivia, Bob is so full of them. He is so good. This item is that jackals have an unusual digestive system, and prefer decayed meat. That’s why they would frequent cemeteries. Anything shallow buried in the sand didn’t stand much of a chance against them.

Why can broken pottery usually be found along migration routes? “Pilgrims tend to  drop pottery, and break them.” Case closed.

Old Ferrells [pharoahs would have “rejuvenation ceremonies“. Easy athletic contests for them, for instance. It’s sort of reminded me of the James Earl Jones pre-funeral in the new Eddie Murphy movie. A pre-funeral that he had while he was still alive. Unfortunately, the movie is so filthy we didn’t get far into it.

Hey my Starbucks was built around a kings burial place. Sort of like a gazebo. Someone got the idea of putting a gazebo top a gazebo. And then another one. The first pyramid head five of these top each other in a step like pattern.

[I don’t know how AI made this a Starbucks. The idea is that burial places would be ancient ditches. Then someone thought to put a top over them, like a gazebo. For someone else, a top over that, and so forth.

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No, there is not a Starbucks inside the Great Pyramid, though there probably would be if Starbucks had any say in it.

The professor likes an unfinished monument better than a finished one. With an unfinished one, you can see how they were constructing it.

The dog is old now, and we are not at the dog park. After a heavy rain, that park will be muddy. We are on a path it has gone many times. But lately it reaches a certain spot, says no more, and pulls as if to go back home. I always indulge him. He’s a good dog.

Sarcophagus. And esophagus. There is a relation. Bob says. The first (sarcophagus) was known as a “flesh eater.” This is because the first one of these things they opened, expecting a mummy within, was empty.

Tomb robbers, Bob says, were usually drawn from the workmen who built the tombs, they knew where things were. That’s why he thinks one decoy to him was left on touch for millennia. They knew nothing was in it.

End of lecture seven. Start of lecture eight: snap follow [Sneferu], the  great pyramid builder.

There are pyramids in the desert that collapsed while being built. They didn’t always get it right. There was much trial and error, and snap a low [Sneferu] was the one who figured out how to do it.

Oh. One of the early pyramids collapsed because the corners were built on unstable sand, that shifted. Isn’t there a verse in which Jesus says you are not supposed to do that?

Bob has been inside this damaged pyramid, you drop down, walk through a long tunnel, then have to climb a ladder 55 feet high. He says it’s the most dangerous thing he’s ever done. Inside are cedar beams, Cedars of Lebanon…

They were carted in at the time of building in an attempt to shore up the collapsing room, alas, to no avail—the tomb was abandoned and not used. But Snefalu’s [Sneferu—Snefalu is my bad—was I thinking of Scooby Do?] His hird pyramid was good. He is buried there.

The Egyptians were terrible sailors, Bob says. Let me say it right out, he says. It is because they were spoiled by the Nile.

If you look at Egyptian paintings, you can tell if the boat is going north or south by whether or not the sails are up. if they are the boat is heading south with the wind at its back. If they are not, it is heading north letting the current take it downstream. 

Go to Part 5

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Don’t Ask Me to Interpret the Watchtower Artwork

Don’t ask me to interpret the artwork. I’m not good at those type of things. From a prior Watchtower study:

A brother commented on the pictures during a Watchtower study.

He said they portrayed a brother getting strong counsel from two elders, after which he pondered it, after which he met with one of those elders at the cafe (no hard feelings), after which he was busy in the ministry with the same elder!

But a sister saw it differently.

A brother was asking for spiritual help from two elders (maybe he was a chicken in field service), then he thought over their advice, then one of those elders encouraged him further at the cafe, then he was happily working in the ministry with that elder!

"These pictures are open to many interpretations," the study conductor observed.

His observation emboldened me to offer my take:

Brothers were meeting as a threesome as a gesture to the trinity, then one of them pondered that symbolism, then he met one of those elders at the cafe where they discussed this year's prospects for the eternally dismal (but lately revived) Buffalo Bills, then he worked in service with that elder's twin brother, who had flown in the night prior from Boise, Idaho.

After my comment there was a pause.

For several minutes.

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 2

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking.

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Lecture 3:

One cute thing to get your head around is that upper Egypt is lower than lower Egypt. That’s because the Nile river flows MapWise uphill, but like all rivers flows from up to down

Egyptian gods that are female always have names ending in T. That does make things easier.

The professor mentions Isis, the Egyptian god, what the name is twice supplanted, once by the terrorist group, and once by Bob Dylan‘s cool song, best performed at Woodstock.

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Isis also is a female guard. It is a T God. But we know what S form because the Greeks got a hold of it.

Bob reaches the point of saying, in his classroom, students are all ready to kill him after he says what he is about to say. So I pause here and tweet, before seeing just what it is he says. Will I want to kill him to?

I’m sure he doesn’t mind being called Bob, either. If he did, he would not be Bob briar. He would be Robert briar.

Oh yeah. He can live. He just says philosophical questions have answers, to contrast with some who think they don’t. As an example, he says is there life after death? It has an answer, even if it is unanswerable, in his opinion.

Whoops! My bad. He says they can be answered.

 His example is, does the universe have a beginning or not? Did it come into being, or has it always existed. So far, OK. But then he says if we can disapprove one, the alternative will stand. Not according to skeptic Michael Shermer‘s heads I win tails you lose rules.

that say just I am wrong (or can’t answer everything) , it doesn’t mean you are right. I think he is just trying to stack the deck.

The beginning of Lecture 4:

So Napoleon was an OK guy the professor says. I’m sure he doesn’t mean across-the-board. Or maybe he does. That’s how it is with academics. They’re blown away by other academics. And Napoleon had some culture to him.

Napoleon is the guy, who first came up with a scheme of odd numbers on one side of the street and even numbers on the other. He got tired of not being able to find things

Ha! Now he mentions cabinet of curiosities that wealthy people used to have back then. I wrote about that, here.

Napoleon assembled a huge scientific retinal for his conquering trip to Egypt. In 1898. Very few of them knew where they were going. It was a secret. His political mission was to mess up the British, taking their colony. His personal reason was to see Egypt.

The fighting stopped for 10 minutes when Admiral Nelson blew up the French ship Lorient. Nobody could believe it. They were in shock. Nelson had navigated between the French ships and the shore, and blasted the French who had guns facing out.

After destroying the French fleet, Nelson sailed away, stranding Bonaparte. But Bonaparte took his 150 scientist and began an institute for studying Egypt.

Napoleon abandoned his army, set sail to eat to Paris, declared himself the conqueror of Egypt. The brothers know the truth, and ridiculed him. But he had started the beginnings of Egyptology. Next year next year his scientist at least the definitive volume on Egyptology.

OK, I didn’t know this, or much of anything else. The Rosetta Stone was found by Bonapartes expedition, some Egypt items went to Bretton part of the peace treaty, some were retained by the French. The French wanted to keep the result of stone that contains the key to...1/2

But the British insisted upon it. But the French had made a copy of it before hand. So they got the benefit from it too. This is the beginning of Egyptian antiquities being collected. A huge collection in Britain, and an equally huge collection in the Louvre

 

Go to Part 3

 

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Tweeting the Meetings: Week of March 15-21, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

Where is this speaker from? They announced it, but I forgot. Judging from backdrop and quality of speech, it may be from one of the Bethels. Good stuff on ‘finding the pearl of high value.’

My wife said my munching oatmeal could be seen onscreen, so I withdrew a few minutes till done. All these things should be done prior to meeting, of course. Alas, Zoom has made inroads on many a fine routine. #SundayMeeting

It really is a very good talk. He has gone to “policy previews” of the Kingdom, and here is a pic of Jesus’ and disciples’ boat swamped in the windstorm. The point is that the Kingdom will control earth’s forces, “solve environmental problems.” #Sundaymeeting

Also “previews,” each accompanied with artwork of Jesus feeding multitudes, healing sick, raising dead. I used to put it as, “You going to support the government that promises health care, or the one that promises health?”

“How do we sign up to be a citizen of this kingdom?” he says. He answers with Matthew 6:33, “33 “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you,” & reject conduct that would disqualify us as citizens.

Then the speaker goes back to his opening illustration about the villager who actually did find a pearl of (staggering) high price & stuck it under his bed, having no idea of its worth. Then worked like a dog throughout his life, without realizing the solution lie beneath his bed. #Sundaymeeting

Now he incorporates a video. These Bethel brothers have the new methods down pat, whereas I am just getting my head around that they exist. Alas, the video crashed. The speaker is taking it in stride, as local mods are discussing how to fix it.

They fixed it. It concludes with the football (not the US kind) that turned down the contract for Christian dedication. Necessary? Maybe not. On the other hand, Prince stayed where he was, (someone said contractual reasons), ...1/2

amazingly, was active in meetings & field service, but career did kill him. ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ begins with an appreciative chapter on Prince, probably the largest (maybe only) collection of his activities as a JW...2/2

...WatchtowerStudy

Maybe some will come to feel they were mistaken, stop partaking. It is odd that the number partaking has been rising for years. Just a drop in the overall bucket, insignificant in itself, but still not what you would expect.

A reference to the “thunderous applause” at the “behold the great multitude” 1935 Rutherford talk. Maybe as in relief, like when you are doing something that doesn’t quite feel right but you keep doing it because you know no other way, and then the other way is presented.

I got my own comment in there, that the prospect of living forever on earth, from someone of church background who knew nothing of such things... That really did it for me, like a camping trip that never ends. #watchtowerstudy

The elderly sister just commented who, in two days, we will drive her all the way a Finger Lakes town where she has a summer cottage. She has her hair done there. We were just there, and I wrote up a post of the Publick Universal Friend (and the Mennonite.

Have I heard the illustration of wedding guests attending a wedding to show support and love? It almost seems like I have, or should have, but I am not quite sure. #wathtowerstudy

One brother, who does have a room divider backdrop, has hung a clean shirt on that screen. My wife got a kick out of it. I said, were it not for her, perhaps a line of my underwear might hang in my background. Not everyone thinks of such things. #watchtowerstudy

Meetings almost over. Let’s see how many of my brand spanking new computer generated AI Facebook friends are still around.

All those years ago, decades even, a local couple lost a baby. They still get choked up at comments of welcoming the dead on earth back to life.

The sister just commented who really didn’t do much prior to Covid, but her activity has exploded under Zoom protocol.

When FB friends leave, you don’t know it. There should be a “This speech is shocking—who can listen to it?!” notification.

Ha! The speaker’s wife, when newly married and new in the faith, said, “I thought you guys went in for full time service to God” and helped him get undistracted by his growing business affairs. #aftermeetinginterview

His wife has a way of breaking into laughter. Not derisively, but rather savoring the “diplomatic” way her husband phrases things, like (at Warwick) how “The lockdown has been good for us,” and “Covid will be gone soon,” as he gives updates on Ramipo.

 

Midweek meeting:

 

I have the Bible reading tonight. It is a good one, too, not one of those Leviticus jobs that evoke all the emotion of reading a grocery list. Numbers 11:1-15, in which the Israelites start bellyaching over how good the chow was in Egypt. #midweekmeeting.

There was an Italian circuit overseer who used to draw out, savor, and caress the garlic of Numbers 11:5. “How fondly we remember the fish that we used to eat without cost in Egypt, also the cucumbers, [and]...the GARLIC!” Will I? Am I Italian? Now if the verse had said coffee...

I would outdo the Italian brother, launch myself into the air, and come down on a cloud of ecstasy like that cartoon dog.

That sister in the yellow sweater has a “stink face,” the lead-off speaker said.

John usually hams it up as a householder. “The wife and I don’t even attend the big ones,” he says of Christmas and Easter. A few weeks ago, he said “the wife and I are expecting a little one.” He is 65. “I guess the poor kid is going to look like you,” I told him.

John and I would pair up in the ministry, often working separately, but sometimes together. “Try not to screw this one up like the last door,” we would say to each other.

The householder in the last talk had a problem with Jesus being called “the ransom.” She thought of as in a kidnapping. A good setup for Darlene to explain how Jesus’ death provides release from the “captivity” of sin and death, his death just like paying to release a captive.

If in doubt, you go into a wine shop and ask for a Passover wine. If it works for them, it works for us. A Merlot will not do. #MemorialofChristsDeath

Someone pointed out, as they should, that God has feelings and can be “broken-hearted.” Ezekiel 6:9. Several verses say this. I like best Ps 78:40: “How often they would rebel against him in the wilderness, They would make him feel hurt in the desert.”

Another reference to a future message that might be hard-hitting. I asked that elder I love to tease if I can practice for it by announcing when he is to give the public talk.

No, it was not MY dog that auditioned for that picture of checking out Ezekiel while he is on assignment

 

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why

Searching for the why—at first glance, what could be easier? Just read the charges. But when Putin says, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I really don’t understand why they are persecuted”—there appears more to it than meets the eye. When Human Rights Watch says, “Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the plot thickens.
 
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Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that “traces everything from the start with accuracy.” Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that tells it from the believer’s point of view. Stripped of the red herrings that plagued Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, updated to the February 2021 present, and ever respectful towards the land of the bear, in most ebook forms it continues to be free, a labor of love.

Here are presented the modern-day Acts of Russia with regard to worship, the acts of believers and of those who oppose them. The acts of Russia have taken a dark and perplexing turn, puzzling even Putin. Can it be? The wizard who runs Oz doesn’t know how his contraption works? Here is a book that picks up where Baran’s Dissent on the Margins (2014) leaves off. The tale has not yet ended. But then, neither had the tale ended when Luke completed the first century Book of Acts.

Early in 2017, every Jehovah’s Witness in the world was invited to write letters to designated Russian officials, urging that justice be done in their case. I wrote one. Here is my expanded version.
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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 1

How much composition can you do walking the dog while listening to the Great Courses on CD? We will see. I know one thing, attempting this will improve my listening skills, which my wife will tell you are not stellar. It is enough to stop periodically and send a tweet via the phone. There is no way to rewind, and to play the entire track again is just too much—the dog will only tolerate so much inattention. So I have to catch it the first time.

This is why, in the tweets to follow, I don’t give the Egyptologist’s name. I missed it in the opening remarks. Now that I am home in my chair, I see on the CD jacket that it is Bob Brier. He is all enthused about his topic. The Great Courses professors are never duds. Only one got on my nerves a little bit, a history professor with such a passion for his subject that he seemed to present all characters within as though they were his children, some being naughty and some being nice. But once I adjusted, I was okay even with that. And you should hear the music fellow—alas, I forgot his name, but he has done several courses, showing off Beethoven! Whoa, is it ever contagious. You do come away thinking you know your Beethoven when he is done. (Granted, it didn’t take much, since I knew virtually nothing before.)

I have had to set aside Bleak House. It is 29 CDs and I was not done with it when the library wanted the set back, for someone else had put it on hold. So I reserved it for when that person was done with it, and it will just have to be a cliffhanger for now. I left off just after Bucket arrested George for the murder of the odious lawyer of whom you thought, it’s about time someone killed him. It might be George. It might be Lady Deadlock. Don’t tell me who it was. If you do, I am going to assume it was the other just to thwart you. Bleak House was another Great Courses suggestion, offered by a professor of literature, who seems to have a preference for —um— “complicated” characters, Bleak House being a “wholesome” exception to most offered fare. He says something about Esther being so nauseatingly nice that even Dickens must have wanted to kill her off a time or two.

They always spin of the credentials at Great Courses, and Bob’s is that he recently mummified a body in the Egyptian way. He has been on TV, so he probably is somewhat of a showman, and as such, he will have a Twitter account. If I find it, I will tag him once with it. Ah—here it is: #AskBobBrier—I was right. He is not one of those retiring types like the “philologicians” (his word) who love words and thus are whizzes with hieroglyphics. Nor is he a (he had a word for this but I forget) a museum type who loves to collect and study artifacts but has no interest in interacting or retrieving them.

He is probably like O’Donnell, the Professor of the Gilded Age series, who has shown on the History Channel, and who in real life (I wouldn’t know if this is true of Brier or not, at least, not yet) is intensely partisan and really hates Trump. I could be wrong, but I think historians generally do. I think the reason they do is that they get involved in their story of man ruling the earth—that’s mostly what history is, really—and they come to identify with human efforts, hoping for the noble in them, and highlighting whatever examples exist. The only way their earth will advance is if all nations “come together.” Thus, they like world bodies, they like things like the United Nations. They don’t like it when some figure says “America first,” or whatever his/her country may be. They see nothing but chaos along that road. Brier might not be one of them, for, come to think of it, he said in Lecture One that history is just a series of disasters. Therefore, he may not be so starry-eyed as are his History counterparts, so hopeful that humans will have the answers if you but give them unlimited room to try their stuff.

Probably Bob is like Ed Barnhart, who taught the Great Course on South American archeology. He was also a doer. He related how, as a boy, his mom had dropped him off to see the Indiana Jones movie, and upon seeing the caption “Somewhere in South America,” said to himself, “There’s a South America?” It began an interest in the continent, and he has discovered his very own ancient Mayan (yes, I know, Central America, but he was just getting started) city.

What a great gig to be a university professor. You get to talk about your passion all day to people who come to you and pay money for the privilege—you don’t have to go to them. And they have already acquiesced that your topic is interesting enough at least for them to be there. You don’t have to interact with poverty. You don’t see squalor. Unless you play your cards recklessly, money issues are non-existent. You get to hang out with cool people in the heady world of ideas. I like it.

The only thing that might be an issue is if you get infatuated with your students. Some of them are just awakening to to how sexuality might affect someone other than same-age, some are entirely unaware, and some know it full well and play it for all its worth. Of course, the responsibility for proper conduct will always fall on the older party, but if he is a piece of work himself, if his own life is trending towards trainwreck, and certainly if he is an opportunist, all sorts of things may happen that he will deeply come to regret in a MeToo age.

Anyhow, here goes with the tweets. It is just things that catch my attention as I am dog-walking, and I must interrupt myself now and then to hurl someone’s misguided golf frisbee back over the fence. It will be sort of like taking notes, and I may do something with it later. I haven’t quite figured out a way to separate my asides from Bob’s own thoughts. Maybe later. Sometimes it is obvious, but sometimes not. Remember that these are dictated into the phone, and then I must quickly correct AI blunders (you should see what it did to Herodotus!) I don’t usually worry much about capitalization. Everything is a bit of a rush. Here goes:

“The goal of the archaeological writer is to make the dead come alive, not to put the living to sleep.” I love it!

That ubiquitous painting of Henry the eighth isn’t anatomically correct. The artist for the braggart deliberately skewed it so as to loom more impressively over anyone who would view it.

“The Egyptian’s reduced art to paint by numbers,” the great courses professor says. Art doesn’t change for 3000 years. It wasn’t supposed to change. It wasn’t supposed to be creative. It was to reflect the way things were.

Plato  wasn’t crazy about art, because his was a search for truth, and art distorted truth. But he had nothing bad to say about Egyptian art, for that part attempted to portray truth as it was, and not interpret that.

If you expect to be spending more time in an afterlife rather than the present one, you will put more energy there. Where have I heard similar thoughts? The Egyptian tombs would be engraved with scenes of whatever the deceased enjoyed doing in the present life.

If you’re taking a trip to a unfamiliar place. And you’re not just sure what you will need. You take everything that you can. So says the great courses Egypt professor. That’s why Egyptian tombs are so packed with day today possessions.

Ha! A completely speculative account for how the uneducated people probably screwed up the great Heroditus. An illiterate tour guide probably made a story up about onions being fed to the  workers who built the graat pyramid , and Herodotus recorded it.

Since the Egyptian’s were huge into war, loved to record their victories, live to fight, would they have recorded that Jehovah cleaned their clocks at the Red Sea? Already I smell a rat.

As was spun in the book Is the Bible really the word of God? national chroniclers (media) loved to create the attractive version even if it wasn’t entirely true. Emphasized what they want emphasized, deemphasize what they wanted deemphasized. It is exactly the same today.

The Bishop of Usher worked out the begets and traced down to the year of creation. Watch later a Russian bishop extended it to month,week, day, and time of day! Much later his Russian successor probably agreed & also banned Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Isaac newton worked out Egyptian chronology in his spare time. As an escape for him. He is the one who predicts the end in 2060. Is he right? Or might it come before?

Now the great courses professor is slobbering over Darwin as the be all and end all. Darwins OK, discovered some stuff, added to knowledge, but not to the point of being the be-all and end-all.

He says the Egyptian’s first arrived from the south in Africa. One of Michener’s books said the same, but I don’t remember the title. Michener’s books are grand sagas, following a given family name through centuries, even before they were families.

If you dressed Neanderthal man up, and put him on a subway, you would not notice him. He would fit right in. So says the Egypt professor, he was not a hulking brute, he did not live in a cave. Dumbing down is not a phenomenon Just of modern times, tho it probably has accelerated.

What will this Egypt teacher do when he comes to conspiracy views on pyramids? You know, how we today couldn’t build what they built thousands of years ago. Even today human technology is insufficient. How will he handle that?

And what will he do when he comes to Bible accounts? He will blow them away, of course, but will he do it with respect or ridicule? He seems like a nice guy. But sometimes peoples brains lose it when it comes to spiritual things.

To be continued:

See Ancient Tweets Part 2.

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