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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of June 21, 2021

Weekend Meeting: 

Before meeting begins with the #publictalk, “What God’s Kingdom is Doing For Us?” there is Zoom chitchat about air conditioning. Abnormally hot lately with the northern US warmer than the southern US—even Miami, which is saying something.

I used to know all the speakers. But a younger generation has come along, and increasingly, there appear ones I do not know. #jehovahswitnesses weekendmeeting

“A multitude of people are a king’s majesty, But a ruler without subjects is ruined.” (Prov 14:28)…Gots to have subjects if you would be a king.

“The #law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring strength. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.” (Psalm 19:7)

After a certain heavy statement, the speaker appeared to pause for thought. but in reality the zoom feed had frozen, then dropped, & we had to re-enter

 

STUDY ARTICLE 16 Continue Appreciating the Ransom“The Son of man came . . . to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.”​—MARK 10:45.

 

Without the ‘life for life’ provision of the ransom, Jesus death makes no sense. It becomes:

‘Why did Jesus die?’

‘Because he loves us.’

Fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go too far. Heartfelt, but makes little sense. One must understand the ransom.

The analogy is not drawn in the lesson,  but sis Upthere used that comparison of how you would have to pay a literal ransom to a literal kidnapper if you want to see your loved ones again.

That incredibly boring brother (who follows these posts) is the reader today. His black cat is in the background looking out the window, not paying any attention at all.

The scholars of of religion (glad I’m not under their influence) present the resurrection teaching as “damage control.” Death as a despised criminal? How are you going to get around that?

Not to be lost sight of is:   “Since he himself has suffered when being put to the test, he is able to come to the aid of those who are being put to the test.” (Heb 2:18)

The bro who is in the hospital just Zoomed in with a comment. When he has video on (which he doesn’t just now) you can see he is in hospital garb.

One Witness on record has stated—a staggering statement—that he would not have trade his Holocaust experience for anything, as it gave him opportunity to show Satan a liar, in his words:…1/2

“Skin for skin…for a change, stretch out your hand and strike his bone and flesh, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” (Job 2:5)….2/2

“In his late 90’s, [John] was apparently considered to be such a threat to the Roman Empire that he was imprisoned on the isle of [Siberia. Um, I mean] Patmos. His crime? “Speaking about God and bearing witness concerning Jesus.” Para 9

Ha! On not abusing the ransom forgiveness clause, I thought of heavyweight fighter Jack Johnson, fined $100 on the spot for speeding. He gave the cop $200 because he was going to speed on the way home, too. My great uncle fought that guy:

Not a bad strategy, is it? “I think that it is important to mention the ransom each day in my prayers and to thank Jehovah for it,” says an 83-year-old sister named Joanna” and reflect on it bails us out each day from this ‘faux pas’ or that. Para 14

Ah. A reference in para 16 to teaching others about the ransom:

“Sis, you have a marvelous imagination!” the conductor said after one sis gave a marvelously imaginative comment.

From para 17: “Because of the ransom, Jehovah’s original purpose for the earth will be fulfilled. The entire planet will become a paradise.”    seems a good point to emphasize.

Of course, it is not for me to identify private persons online. But the name of our speaker was exactly the name of a certain tradesperson you might call to the house, especially if the toilet is acting up.…No, it is not Bro Rotorooter.

 

Midweek Meeting, Assigned Bible reading: Deuteronomy 7-8

“So he humbled you and let you go hungry and fed you with the manna.”

(Deut 8:3) They went hungry first, which leaves a deep impression, and when the manna came along, it was a very poor substitute for some, per Exodus 16:3

Again, the appeal not to be ungrateful (or proud): “When you eat and are satisfied and you build fine houses and dwell in them, … do not let your heart become proud and cause you to forget Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Deut 8:12-14)

Well, he DID give them 400 years to get their act together, is the thrust of Genesis 15:16….”the error of the Amʹor·ites has not yet reached its full measure.”

Two succeeding speakers from the same family. The conductor likes that family so much that he married another one of them.

“Let’s watch this month’s video” the bro said by way of introduction. The brevity seemed to surprise the tech attendant, for there was some delay before it appeared, as the bro deadpanned into the camera.

“How shameful,” says MS, “that the [Russian] authorities are attacking our elderly ones” who are, nonetheless, not fearful & determined to remain faithful.

I didn’t even notice that lion in the tree in that pic that almost doesn’t look like one of ours until someone commented on it.“

I will rid the land of vicious wild beasts, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the forests.”​—Ezek. 34:25.

Does he say “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise” or “truly I tell you, today you will be….”? Since the Greek has no punctuation, context must decide it. Jesus himself was dead for three days, so the 2nd rendering doesn’t work. (Luke 23:43)

I just didn’t want to say “Sorry, residual hand” because there had been a few of those, so I quick said something relevant when unexpectedly called upon.….…..

 

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Metaphors, Genesis, and Adam & Eve

If someone starts giving me a hard time over Adam and Eve in the ministry, I tell them its okay to treat it as a metaphor, and on that basis, see what can they draw from it. I am even proactive on the point, suggesting metaphor before they can get around to objecting to it.

A certain type of person almost takes that as a compliment—that you are not rubbing their nose in ‘Adam & Eve’ but you are deeming them smart enough that to figure out a metaphor. I even briefly won over my return visit Bernard Strawman on this point.

I used to call such people ones who suffer from “We are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What’s next—Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?” syndrome. But now I drop the derisiveness, for it doesn’t do any good, and I just invite them to treat it as a metaphor. After all, science is pretty universal that Adam & Eve is for dumbbells, and we are all taught that science is the be-all and end-all. Training like that doesn’t turn around on a dime.

Sometimes when people see how well the metaphor works out they forget all about “science” and they put their “cognitive dissonance” on the shelf as something to work out later. You don’t have to know everything. It’s the antithesis of humility to think that you do—or can. Is not the phrase “cognitive dissonance” largely an appeal to pride that overall dumbs us down? It is an idea worthy of a pamphlet, probably, but not the volumes dedicated to it.

People cannot simultaneously hold two conflicting ideas at the same time? Of course they can. A little humility solves the problem. Put one or both on the shelf pending more information, which may or may not come, but in the meantime, you can’t rush it. You can’t just check yourself at the door because of a few facts that don’t line up. In the field of mathematics proofs will commence with assuming this or that point is true, and then seeing where that assumption leads. If it leads to a dead-end, the point is disproved. But sometimes it doesn’t lead to a dead-end. You don’t just stop dead in your tracks because you spot an obstacle up ahead. You see where this or that idea leads.

When I first came across Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was astounded that here were people who actually believed in Adam and Eve. They didn’t look stupid, or if so in no greater proportion than anyone else, yet all my life I had heard that only the reddest of the rednecks believed in Adam and Eve.  I couldn’t figure it out. I decided to shelve it for future resolution. I still don’t know how certain things will align. But the answer to the ‘problem of evil,’—why a loving God would permit it, the answer to the reason for and origin of death, the coherent answer to the question of how Christ’s death could benefit us—all these things were so overwhelming, that I decided to give “science” the back seat, not the front seat it usually demands. Without Jesus as the “first Adam,” a perfect man who, by holding the course, repurchased us from that first perfect man who sinned and sold us out, the question of ‘Why Jesus died for us’ devolves into a mushy and intellectually unsatisfying “because he loved us.”

To be sure, the head is not everything, but neither is it nothing. There is some sort of reasoning regarding mitochondrial DNA and the number of generations can be counted. It is from this they determine that all people on earth are related through one woman. Maybe that represents the reconciliation of timelines that otherwise don’t reconcile. It is roundly shouted down by majority scientists today. But we ought to know by now that being shouted down by the majority means nothing. Anything can be spun any way, by people who may or not be disingenuous. The majority team gets the ball and then tilts the field so steeply as to tumble the minority team right off it.

For myself, I am content that the Witness organization in 2010 defined the “days” of creation as “epochs,” their sum total plus all the time before as “aeons.” “It’s about time,” their science critics might cry? As late as 1987, the US Supreme Court took up the question of teaching “evolutionary science” and “creation science,” ruling that if you taught the first in public school, it didn’t mean you had to teach the second. So it takes the Witness organization 23 years to weigh in on an area not their specialty or mission. Is that too long? The world of science has yet to weigh in with any accuracy on the spiritual concerns that Witnesses make their domain.

Visit Smashwords bookstore.  Also available at Amazon & other ebook retailers.

 

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)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of June 14, 2021

Weekend Meeting

The visiting #publictalk speaker is from the South Rome (no, not THAT Rome) congregation, the chum since 5th grade of the former COBE, says the former COBE: “Gaining Comfort in all Our Tribulations” the theme of the talk.

He cites rising anxiety, depression rates, increase of mass shootings—they’re quite frequent now. It is what you would do to open a talk with the theme Gaining Comfort in all our Tribulations. Quick reference to 2 Tim 3:1–critical times hard to deal with

Now a reference to Paul’s thorn in the flesh that was not going away because “my undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for [my] power is being made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9) with follow up on how we today can cope with thorns.

Now a reference to mental health issues and how they are not visible but as or more serious that certain ailments that ARE visible. The speaker speaks from the heart on account of a family member to does have such problems.

 

Watchtower Study: STUDY ARTICLE is from the April 2021 magazine, entitled: Learning From Jesus’ Final Words“

Theme scripture: This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.”​—MATT. 17:5.

“I realize that being forgiving does not mean that I condone offenses or allow others to take advantage of me. It just means that I choose to let go of resentment.” (Ps. 37:8) … we are choosing not to let negative experiences make us bitter.​—Eph. 4:31, 32. (Para 4)

“Well, He’s not unforgiving to THAT extent, one can say of God, since he’s still making his sun shine on the ne’er do wells (Matt 5:45)—who are we to force it to set. It only hurts US to not forgive—almost doesn’t matter the the offender deserves it or not.

Ha! The bro who started the meeting outside outside is now inside. It gets hot on that deck doesn’t it, Sammy?

‘Moving right along’ the conductor says as verrrryyyy mild response to the bro who is given to expound—or is that my imagination?

He was fully human and needed to die so as to “taste death for everyone.” —Heb. 2:9, one sis cites the point, also the no-protective-hedge of Job 1:10, tho the paragraph gives possible reasons for Matt 27:46, acknowledging ‘the Bible does not say.’

On the paragraph of ‘making needs known,’ one teary comment of someone with unexpected and severe needs who did make them known and is overwhelmed with emotion at the response.

It is a pithy enough lesson from Jesus words (I am thirsty) to repeat: “It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help” since we are to each carry his own load but to share each other’s burdens.

“We need to let people know when we need help,” one sis says, “so that they can have the privilege of giving help.” People can be too stoic.

 

Weekday Meeting. Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 5-6

 

Of course, the featured theme tonight will be ‘Teach your Children,’ on Account of Deut 6:6-7. “These words that I am commanding you today must be on your heart,  and you must inculcate them in your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house …1/2

and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”

“Of course, you need not incessantly “lecture” your children about Bible truths,” the workbook says….2/2

Ha! Whenever I start a story about ANYTHING these days, my grown kids say, “Dad, you’ve told that story a hundred times!” They’re just trying to get my goat. It can’t be THAT many….3/3

When Jehovah your God brings you into the land … full of all sorts of good things that you did not work for … and you have eaten and become satisfied, be careful not to forget Jehovah, who brought you … out of the house of slavery. (Deut 6:11-12)…..Beware the trap of ingratitude

 

On teaching by example, my grown daughter gave me the highest complement. “Dad, you never talked about prejudice. It is just in how you were, never treating anyone any different.” Woe to any childhood suburban chum who said anything prejudicial. …1/2

They’d pick it up usually from school, but our daughter did homeschool. “Careful not to offend her, she’s touchy” they would say. “Forget ME—what about Jehovah!?” she recalls it now…..2/2

“Display Unfailing Love in Your Family” is the video played. Three home-from-the-meeting trainwreck scenarios, followed by three let’s-try-that-over-again scenarios, all examples of applying 1) Eph 5:28-29 (husbands),  2) Eph 5:33 (wives), 3: Deut 6:6-7 (parents)

(Yes, but what about the game-winning score the fellow missed?)

Doesn’t trinity make God someone unknowable? Doesn’t hellfire make him someone you wouldn’t want to know? Unscriptural doctrines carted to the curb by JWs 100 years ago.

In that paragraph about unity—there is a convention photo—an enormous gathering. I wonder when we will see those again?

It reminds me of some local church group whose advertised draw—signs are posted here & there—is that you can come in sweatpants. I dunno, is that what you really want to be known for as your #1 draw?

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)

A Modern-Day Voltaire

One might think of Introvigne, the fellow who runs CENSUR and does battle with FECRIS (among others), as though in a great Bond movie, as a modern-day Voltaire. Voltaire (many will know) is from the 17th century, and is considered founder of the Enlightenment. He was a fierce critic of organized religion, particularly the Judeo-Christian variety. He was also firmly deist, that is, he never doubted the existence of God, and he came to be much distressed that his body of work was used as a stepping stone into atheism—to break free of God altogether. His dream was that there be religious tolerance, that all religions should get along peaceably. It never occurred to him to change them internally or to mush them into one incoherent whole. He just wanted them not to wreak violence upon one another. 

Early in his life a dispute with a French aristocrat caused Voltaire to flee to England. While there he noted how there were dozens of religions, many (maybe all) claiming to be the one true path (people took religion more seriously then), yet they all co-existed without rancor. (In his native France, the Roman Catholic Church was torturing those professing other faiths.) It never would have occurred to Voltaire that a faith calling itself the one true faith was doing violence to any other one—that view is a uniquely modern one. They all used to do it in the England Voltaire visited, yet they got along without cutting each other’s throats.

Voltaire’s Letters from England conveys his amazement and delight that here was a country, so different from back home, where people could worship as they pleased without anyone trying to ban them or beat up on them. He sets himself up as a chump interviewing a Quaker, just about as weird a religion as one could envision backed then—they ‘quaked’ when they became filled with spirit. He paints himself as though a devout Catholic thoroughly scandalized by Quaker beliefs, and he gives dialogue with one in which the Quaker ties him in knots, whereupon Voltaire sums up the exchange with an observation of how you just can’t talk sense with a fanatic.

It never occurred to Voltaire that the Quakers should change—he was just delighted that, given their “weirdness,” they could coexist so easily with the rest of society. In short, “intolerance” had nothing to do with doctrines or beliefs within a religion. He took for granted that internally each religion would be sufficiently different from other religions. If they were not, there would not BE separate religions—they would all blend into the same. It didn’t matter to him if Quakers were weird; if you conclude they are, don’t be one, would have been his obvious conclusion. 

Being a strict religion, serious about their beliefs, there would be severe internal strictures for any Quaker doing a 180 and leaving his faith. This was of no concern to Voltaire, who personally had no use for any of the established religions. Whatever strictures a departing Quaker would encounter would be more-or-less human nature: turn your back on previously cherished beliefs and you will of course find yourself on the outside looking in as regards those still holding fast to those beliefs. It only adds “fuel to the fire” that the Christian scriptures can so easily be read that way. It’s the same with Jehovah’s Witnesses today. It’s the same with most of the “new religions” that FECRIS labels as “cults,” as it seeks to homogenize religions, extracting whatever teeth they have making them stand out from others, and mash them all into something common that doesn’t stand for much of anything other than putting a God-smiley-face on humanist endeavors.

Voltaire’s firm deism, his belief in God, stems from what the Jehovah’s Witness organization has called the “Book of Creation.” It stems from the observed design of creation, and from what he called first cause, the utility that created things are put to. He rejected any “book of revelation,” that is, any sacred scriptures from any source that would attempt to explain the creator. But he also famously, after years of soul-searching, declared insoluble the “problem of evil.” There is undeniably a God, and there is undeniably evil. He could not reconcile the two, though he was the foremost thinker and deist of his time.

To say that it is dumb as a prima facie mindset to reject any revelatory information from God might be going too far, but it certainly is self-defeating. Voltaire yearns with all his heart to discern the problem of evil, yet he confines his gaze to where the answer certainly will not be—in the book of creation. There is only so far that book will take you. His aversion is understandable, given the horrendous abuse practices by the religions of his day, but it was still self-defeating as for discerning the problem of evil or any other aspects of God’s personality.

If there is an answer to the “problem of evil,” it will be found in the new religions. Of course, my view is that it will be found specifically within the the tenets of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Indeed, the wording may differ, but “Why is there Evil?” has been a staple of each of their basic study guides almost since their founding. Mainstream religions have so homogenized their views, so eager not to be out of step with intellectual or scientific trends, that they have modified their own foundation to the extent that the problem of evil cannot be solved given their revised terms. FECRIS gets around the issue by ignoring it. There is no answer to such questions, they maintain—forget about them. Focus on making the world a better place now. Nevermind arcane spiritual concerns that will distract from how we must, in the words of the Beatles, “come together.”

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….In the greater scheme of things, what really was Voltaire? A brief point of relative light, but also a bridge connecting one train wreck to another.

The train wreck of religious intolerance he battled all his life, and to a significant degree, he won that battle. But in a very short time, even during his lifetime, atheists usurped his work to provide underpinnings of their own rising movement—another train wreck. Voltaire was an initial hero of the French Revolution, but in short order, as inferior atheistic thinkers took over, he was downgraded as too moderate. Many of his own followers (Voltaire himself was dead by then) fell victim to the guillotine themselves when they resisted the fanatical excesses of those atheists.

Meanwhile, the light that he offered was but relative, in that he refused any revelatory look at God, and thus missed out on solving the problem of evil, since that is only solved through such searching. He may even have represented “one step forward, two steps back.” The step forward is to win against intolerance. The step back is to repudiate the means though which God gives explanation of himself AND to smoothe the way for atheism. Maybe even three steps back, for in declaring the issue of evil insoluble after grappling with it the better part of his life, he plants the notion in the educated people that adore him that it actually is. 

So is he required reading for JW members? No. He is an elective. Read him if you will. It will be beneficial if you do. But by no means is he indispensable to having one’s head on straight. Make him the centerpiece of your education, and it all but guarantees you will not have your head on straight. The JW organization will never recommend that members read Voltaire. Nor will they ever disparage him, at least no more than I have done above. They would have members direct their primary focus on what does deliver with regard to life’s more important things.

 

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of June 7, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

The Public talk today is entitled “Follow the way to life,” the visiting speaker from Texas, via Zoom. (Will he talk with a Texas twang?)

So God said ‘control your temper’—a calm heart is better for you health, the speaker points out, citing Proverbs 14:30.

“A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.”

“All the days of the afflicted one are bad; but the one that is good at heart [has] a feast constantly.” (Proverbs 15:15) thus the speaker says, try to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty & you will be happier.

On money, “can you think of any better investment portfolio than a righteous standing with Jehovah God?” says the speaker from Texas (Yes—with a twang, but you get used to it)

Now the speaker gets into sexual moral things and tells about “what matters to God.”

He says he can go to WingsoverRoch, a fav restaurant, put their used cooking oil in his car, and it will probably drive fine—for a while.

The speaker contrasts one course with another, holding out one hand and then another, and the hands are HUGE because they are right in the Zoom camera.

Although the speaker is Zooming from Texas, he keeps using local references. How does he do that?

 

Today’s Watchtower Study is taken from the April 2021 issue and is entitled “Follow His Steps Closely” the theme scripture, “Christ suffered for you, leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely.”​—1 PET. 2:21

Setting the tone for the #watchtowerstudy is the statement: Let us consider three questions about following his footsteps​—what? why? and how?”

“We’re going to have to move on, but thank you for the hands, keep them coming,” the conductor says.

That analytical bro tells of how at the workplace one may follow/decipher instructions, and each instruction is called a “step.” Each one is distinct. Not hard to see the applicability to a #watchtowerstudy on following he footsteps of Christ.

One sis tells of her childhood with her cousins and how “if you were crossing your legs, they would be crossing their legs,” because they loved to imitate.

I like the phrasing of John 8:29.  “And the One who sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.” Even Jesus does not want to be abandoned to himself!

“Sometimes one Gospel writer includes a meaningful detail that another leaves out.” They are like four different newspapers covering the same story. When the story is worth reading, you hunt down all four.

Just now that bro who comments from outdoors did so with a new touch—he and his wife are shielded from the sun by an umbrella. How much you want to bet that he later tells me he “had it made in the shade?”

“Use your imagination to see, hear, and feel what was happening. [of the gospel accounts] paragraph 13

No that does NOT mean you envision stuffing that troublesome bro’s head through the eye of a needle!

“Earlier, some of them questioned his authority. Others tried to corner him with challenging questions,” says para 16

One sis described Mark 11 and 12 as Jesus “having a bad day in service.” Another noted how “the religious leaders were trying to make it hard for him that day.”

Few things are worse than when the bro screws up the sound and you hear a line of two of some unsuspecting bro singing solo! That calamity just visited us all.

 

Weekday Meeting:

Either a certain bro & sis is atypically outside with the brick wall of their home as a backdrop—or they are in a police lineup. #midweekmeeting,

Whoa! D & K are back, visiting from the other congregation, and the artwork behind them is the photo of the solar eclipse this morning! It was a 78% blackout.

Not to worry. It is not a violation of Deut 4:19. “And when you raise your eyes to the heavens and see the sun and the moon and the stars….do not get seduced and bow down to them and serve them.” (I don’t think)

Ah, good. They made a fine appreciative comment on Deut 4:7. “For what great nation has gods as near to it as Jehovah our God is to us whenever we call on him?” Or are they just trying to deflect from their eclipse-worship?

The one bro opens his talk on enthusiasm with the observation that home team advantage has been likened to having an extra player. Makes sense, I guess, but I have never heard it. (It sure didn’t help our home team any last game I attended.)

It is a good line, isn’t it, of Nita’s mom: “if anyone’s enthusiasm is contagious, it’s yours.”

Almost as good as Nita’s answer to Jade apologizing for her crazy questions: “No, it’s good. It means you’re a deep thinker.”

Ah. there it is. Those aren’t bad opening questions for a Bible study, are they?…“How did life begin? Why are we here? Why do innocent people suffer? What happens when a person dies? If everyone wants peace, why is there so much war? What will happen to the earth in the future?”

A talk based on 1 Corinthians 9:26, “Therefore, the way I am running is not uncertainly; the way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air”

“a certain Macedonian man was standing and entreating him and saying: “Step over into Macedonia and help us.” …as soon as [Paul] had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Macedonia, ….1/2

drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them.” I guess the long and short of it is that sometimes the cat has got the tongue of that Macedonian fellow. Only go where he calls, not where he doesn’t…..2/2

That sis whose husband I took to the baseball game—because he’s a baseball nut, but he can’t get around like he used to, but he does fine once he’s on his scooter—just commented.

Can’t go wrong when you can say the words of Joshua, can you?  “Not one word out of all the good promises that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.” (Josh. 23:14)

Both with Babylon and Babylon the Great, completely unanticipated events resulted in the release of those trusting in God.

It was a great meeting except for that brother—the worst speaker in the circuit, if not the world —(who follows these tweets) totally butchering the last part.  Hi, bro!  :)

Grumble grumble. So much for my assignment to the PigLatin group.

 

….Visit Smashwords bookstore.  Also available at Amazon & other ebook retailers.

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)

The Foes Duke it Out With the Acronyms of a Bond Movie—CENSUR vs FECRIS

The foes duke it out with the acronyms of a Bond movie, CENSUR vs FECRIS, whilst the ordinary people sleep on, blissfully unaware of threats to their well-being. At stake is the free expression of ideas, be they be from religious or philosophical movement, historically the birthplace of new ideas, some of which turn out to be keepers, some of which turn out to be duds. There’s no telling what is what, so if they are not violent, keep them, CENSUR says. If they go against mainstream thinking, they’re “cult-like,” FECRIS says. Ban them.

(See FECRIS rebuked by German court)

CESNUR stands for Center for the Study of New Religions. It is roughly the opposite of FECRIS, which stands for the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sects. The difference between the ideology of FECRIS and the ideology of CENSUR is that the first stands for intolerance and the second for tolerance. CENSUR would allow all law-abiding faiths to exist. FECRIS would not. CENSUR draws the line at defaming faiths with false statements. FECRIS does not. 53% of the statements its makes regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses are factually incorrect, a German court recently ruled. It is not enough for FECRIS to say they don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have to lie about them, too.

The United States [bipartisan] Commission on International Religious Freedom denounces the “anti-cult” ideology, of which FECRIS is a foremost part, for its “pretension to standing as the final arbiter of religious truth.” FECRIS is a humanist organization. It will tolerate religion only so long as religion embraces humanist goals. If religion is eviscerated to the point where it becomes a majority-rule affair, and thus as subject to contemporary trends as anyone else, FECRIS has no problem with it. If the will of the people is showcased as the will of God, FECRIS has no problem with it.

You can be sure that FECRIS would have a problem with Paul’s recognition that Christ gave “some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones...until we all attain to the oneness in the faith ... in order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error.” Let them be “tossed about,” it would say. To take a stand against that is mind control.

How does FECRIS know what model is agreeable with God? It doesn’t, and it doesn’t care. Humanist goals are what it champions. It is plain that Christianity never would have taken root in the first century had FECRIS been around then. The manifest human authority revealed in New Testament writing would have been denounced by them as outside interference. “It is necessary to shut the mouths of these men,” Paul wrote of one situation back then. (Titus 1:1) You think FECRIS would have stood still for that?

It just may be that human authority is inherent in how God leads his worshippers. Any reading of scripture, such as the above Ephesians passage, would certainly suggest so, yet that is a suggestion that FECRIS will not let stand. So it is that they presume to stand “as the final arbiter of religious truth.” 

It matters not whether one agrees with the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the above court matter. That was not the issue taken up by the German Court (or CENSUR). The court looked the presented material over and judged that Jehovah’s Witnesses were being defamed. It was not their mission to make any judgment upon the faith itself. Doubtless it reasoned that, in the event that Jehovah’s Witnesses are unorthodox, even weird, one can easily solve the problem by not being one of them, and if one already is, one can quit and go elsewhere. It’s a big world.

The author of the report cited above is Massimo Introvigne, the lead scholar at CENSUR and founder of that group. He himself obviously doesn’t agree with Jehovah’s Witnesses in all things, maybe in none of them. Otherwise, he would be one. He is not. He is Roman Catholic. What he is is a voice calling for tolerance between religions. Tomorrow he will write a post about the Scientologists, the next day about the Falun Gong, the next day about some group you never heard of.

If I recall correctly, early Christianity was controversial, so much so that 40 years after Jesus death, Nero was throwing individual Christians to the lions. Introvigne would just prefer not to see the scenario repeat. Anything wrong with that?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a one true faith religion. There are many one true faith religions. As such, they are known to criticize other religions, as all one true faith religions criticize other religions. It is a valid read of the Scriptures that any perusal will suggest just might be true—that there is one true faith. But in order to pose any danger to other faiths (or lifestyles), they would have to call for violence against them. They would try to get politicians to pass laws against them, a “soft violence.” Instead, the “weapons” of Jehovah’s Witnesses are words only. Tell them ‘no’ and they go away. Joel Engardio has stated how Witnesses provide a fine example, perhaps our last hope, of how groups with strongly polarized views can yet co-exist peacefully in today’s world.

Update here:

 

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Tweeting the Meeting: week of May 31, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

The speaker today is subbing for the one scheduled. He is the bro that, when he & I worked with the fledgling Vietnamese group long ago , would approach me speaking with the same cadence of one native-born. #publictalk

[He approached me like that after the meeting, too, right over Zoom. It’s sort of an inside joke, only played out before all.]

It is one of those public talks on whether religion overall and historically has been a force for peace.

Ah. Another reference to a passage recently cited, accompanied with a “and I hope you kept your place—I didn’t” Yikes! He just got muted himself somehow. Upon reconnecting—“Okay, where’d I leave off?” Now that’s maintaining poise in the face of distraction.

Any religion teaching human philosophy rather than Jehovah’s thinking—can it really meet our spiritual needs?

This is the bro that during his working life was an accountant, I think for the state. He gets more lively and engrossing by the year.

Now he is citing a few newspaper accounts of various Regional Conventions, reporters who observe that racial enmities is not a problem for the Witnesses.

Watchtower Study:

Another ‘Suit of Armor’ Watchtower, the image taken Ephesians 6:13-15, entitled “Jehovah Will Protect You​—How?”(The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the wicked one.)​—2 Thess. 3:3. There is always that one that need be considered.

“Others, who do not believe in God, persecute us because we do not fit into this world’s mold.”...This might cover the relatively recent #anticult” movement, that objects not so much to brainwashing, but to brainwashing that is not theirs.

With regard to Satan as “father of the lie” (John 8:44) AND the one “misleading the entire inhabited earth,” do we really imagine (of course, this not in the article, which leaves such things to the individual) that the only lies operating are the ones we have uncovered. ...1/2

A healthy skepticism of human promises is always in order....2/2

The sis who is a vet just commented on the suit of armor. The only suit of armor that can be had at her place is a dog collar.

“And if that does not work, he will try to bully us into going against Jehovah’s standards.” Nobody likes a bully. (para 6)

One bro likened God’s standards—are they restrictive?—to the standard trans of a car, that demands more involvement. The conductor (who drives a standard) offers as an aside that standards are more fun, anyway.

“For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

That offbeat brother who recently commented from his back yard, the worst speaker in the whole circuit (some say the whole world), who has taken to following my tweets, thus seriously compromising my freeness of speech, hasn’t commented yet today. Let’s see if he’s tuned in today. :)

[He was.]

“For although we had first suffered and been insolently treated in Philippi, as you know, we mustered up boldness by means of our God to tell you the good news of God in the face of much opposition.” (1 Th2:2 It just goes without saying that the good news will trigger opposition.

“Just as a literal helmet protects a soldier’s head, the hope of salvation protects our thinking ability. In what way? That hope keeps us focused on God’s promises and helps us to see problems in the right perspective.” (para 10)

Reminds me of a driver I know who, if looking in a certain direction, the car veers ever so slightly in that direction, much to the discomfort of the passengers.

The 3-year-old child of one couple has a Zoom screen in her own name! It’s the family room renamed, I think.

That point on preparing for meetings. I recall one newcomer commenting on how the nature of the meetings was that one COULD prepare for them, so different from any other service he had ever attended. If makes it far more of a Bible study, and far less of just a ‘religious experience.’

One friend apologized that her raised hand was residual, not lowered from a prior comment, to which the conductor replied, “oh, dear.” It is as close to confession as we get in the JW tradition.

Hmm. David took off his complete suit of armor and lived to tell about it—in fact, he wouldn’t put it on. Though, it was hardly tailor-made for him, was it? 3 or 4 times his size, I think.

Weekday Meeting:

Deuteronomy means ‘2nd law.’ It is a restatement of the Law, also an explanation of it. Weekly Bible reading of the #midweekmeetings has turned the page from Numbers to Deuteronomy.

That diagram of the Israelite encampment reminded me powerfully of the many Regional Convention floor plans on the floor of the arena, whilst I gaze down from the surrounding seats.

In the midst of provisions for impartial judges is the direction, “You must not become intimidated by men.” Deut 1:17

Does Deut 1:42 illustrate the principle: The best way to get someone to do something is to tell him he can’t?

“But Jehovah said to me, ‘Tell them: “You must not go up and fight, for I will not be with you. If you do, you will be defeated by your enemies.”’

An eleven-day journey that took 38 years! One sis mentioned how we can make wrong decisions at wrong times that have comparable bad knock-you-off-the-path results.

Someone who has worked on Kingdom Hall builds likened Moses’ speech to post construction meetings, in which is reviewed what went right, what went wrong, near misses, what to repeat, etc.

Someone else likened the Israelites wandering to us wandering through Zoom! but pretty soon will there be direction to resume another path?

I wasn’t counting, but were there 10-12 comments? Good job of the one conducting. The more comments time allows, the better.

Man, that was a good reading from the Asian brother with a hard-to-pronounce name, and there are some who murder it.

Far in the backdrop of the sis speaking is a child’s plastic basketball hoop, and the child is big enough now that it can’t possibly be a challenge.

A friend of ours who is of survivalist bent proposed all manner of go-bag improvements, even a solar charger for the devices, & one all-purpose tool, rather than 5 loose and bulky ones.

The trick for the longest time was to find someone who likes us enough that we could crash there in time of disaster or chaos.

Only behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, so that whether I come and see you or I am absent, I may hear about you and learn that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one soul, striving side by side for the faith of the good news, ...1/2

and in no way being frightened by your opponents. (Philippians 1:27-28)...2/2

No, you do not have room to include a skateboard in your go-bag!

Now there is coordination—the very situation of the wheat awaiting the harvest time collection parallels the ones separated from visible Christian structure during disaster, war, persecution, or insurrection. Matt 13:24-30

Hmm. Summing up, one bro described the negative talk of the ten unfaithful spies as “loose lips sink ships.”

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FECRIS Rebuked by the Hamburg District Court for Defaming Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Be it proactively or in response to a summons, the reason you legally defend the good news in court is in order to give a witness. You do it to keep the path open for witnessing, as with Paul’s “defending and legally establishing of the good news,” (Philippians 1:7) since there are ever factions that would like to rule it illegal. And often the defense you present in itself becomes a witness.

“Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations.  However, when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour,” says Jesus. (Matthew 10:18-19)

So it is that Jehovah’s Witnesses challenged FECRIS in a German District Court with regard to 32 separate statements from them, each one picked up and even acted upon by some as though fact. Please rule as to whether or not they are defamatory, they asked the court.

It all makes for a witness when you publicly expose ones lying about you, and that is why you do it. If it leads to a reversal of unjust policies, that is icing on the cake. Word on the street is that, while the friends in Russia are obviously distressed at the villainies visited upon them, they also take consolation that their own undeserved suffering serves to focus world attention on the kingdom hope they proclaim.

FECRIS, is the acronym for the “European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sects.” It is funded by the French government, and it is the source of significant trouble for Jehovah’s Witnesses and a host of other “new religions.”

“New religion” is the scholarly term for any religious group originating in relatively recent times. Scholars deliberately choose “new religion” over “cult” to sidestep the incendiary overtones of the latter word. Non-scholars favor “cult” because they wish to make it as hot as possible for the “new religions.” The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has identified FECRIS as a main international threat to religious liberty.

The Hamburg court agreed that 17 of the 32 FECRIS statements of Jehovah’s Witnesses were, in fact, defamatory. (Actually, it was 17.5–one was partly defamatory.) This, despite the court’s recognition that there is much latitude in making critical statements of a religion, and that even an incorrect expressed opinion nevertheless is usually protected speech. Even so, FECRIS, with 100% hostility toward the Witnesses, had crossed the line of what was permissible 55% of the time. They were just flat-out lying, to put it in layman’s terms. And yet, ones with influence pick up on their lies, and even implement law based upon them.

There can be no better example of this than Russia. It turns out that the VP of FECRIS, Alexander Dvorkin, rides high in Russia as a government minister—exercising a duel role. He is a chief architect of the ban of the Jehovah’s Witness organization as “extremist.”. Therefore, police arrest Jehovah’s Witnesses in that land, and they do so violently, with fully armed FSB teams (the American equivalent of SWAT teams). After all, if you declare someone “extremist,” you must treat them that way. If you arrest them as you would a jaywalker, you proclaim to all that you know full well they are not extremists and that your entire premise is a lie.

It all falls upon Dvorkin, and his Western FECRIS organization. Anti-cultism in Russia is a Western import. It is not native Russian at all, just like the communism of 100 ago was not Russian, but was injected into that land in hopes destabilizing the Allied powers of World War I. Is Russia forever to be manipulated by outside powers?

Armed with FECRIS ideology, Dvorkin shouts “CULT!” in the crowded Russian theater with “facts” that are incorrect 55% of the time. Thus he and his FECRIS is responsible for the mayhem that results. Each time a Witness is beaten, jailed, detained, robbed of belongings, or harassed, it falls upon him.  It is the same as how someone shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded theater would be held accountable. Hopefully, now that his credibility is seriously undercut, the government may reassess the degree to which they wish to rely upon his “expertise.”

Now, of course, I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps they will say, “Well, he doesn’t lie all the time. We’ll stick with him.” It is a bizarre world in which we live, increasingly irreligious, but a fine parallel one might consider is when the US Supreme Court ruled during WWII that Witness children could be compelled to salute the flag. A wave of persecution broke out across the country that saw widespread destruction of property, and even some Witnesses lynched. In the aftermath of what had been unleashed, three of the justices gave to understand they thought the case had been decided incorrectly. Another two retired and were replaced by ones thought more agreeable to individual liberty. The case came before the court once again, just three years later, and the decision was reversed. Would that such a thing were to happen in Russia. 

“FECRIS comes out of the Hamburg decision with its image of an organization of ‘experts,’ who deserve to be supported by taxpayers’ money in France and elsewhere, deeply shattered,” comments religious scholar Massimo Introvigne. “It rather emerges as a coalition of purveyors of fake news, which systematically use defamation to attack groups they label as ‘cults.’ Hopefully, the German decision will become a model for others in different jurisdictions, teaching FECRIS-affiliated anti-cult movements that they may have powerful patrons but are not above the law.”

Introvigne covers the 17 false statements in a piece he writes for BitterWinter.org. A handful of FECRIS statements were actually just fed them by their VP Dvorkin and uncritically repeated. They are that among the  “characteristic features” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are “illegal possession of property,” that they “took possession of citizens’ apartments,” commit “religiously motivated crimes,” and bring “adult and children to their death.” Untrue statements of fact, all of them, said the Hamburg District Court, leaving out only the adjective ridiculous.

Because the charges are Russian, I dealt with them in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why. It turns out that others had found them outrageous as well:

“Katerina Chernova pushes back at “money-pumping” allegations. Yes, they are heard all the time, she acknowledges, but “when [people] are asked to name just one victim from whom “money, apartments, or something else was taken by the Witnesses, NOBODY was able to remember A SINGLE case in fact! [Caps hers] So we asked to show us or give the address of just one cottage of a Jehovah’s Witness, built with money stolen from people. And again, nobody knows a single real instance.” She goes on to relate a small fact that is actually huge and that says it all: with Jehovah’s Witnesses, baptisms and weddings and funerals are conducted “on a cost-free basis.” With the Orthodox Church? “We have heard many complaints against it regarding the impossibility of performing any ritual in the event that a person does not have money. That is, you want to be ‘baptized,’—some ‘donation;’ you want to be ‘married,’—it takes so much cash; a ‘funeral,’—it is also not for free.”An avaricious organization is not going to cut off these most dependable of all generators of cash.”

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)