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A Response to the Daily Beast

To portray Jehovah’s Witnesses as “an immensely dangerous” cult on a par with Heaven’s Gate (whose members committed suicide on command) is clear evidence of malicious intent. As is also the opening comparison to an organization in which the religious leaders themselves are the perpetrators, rather than those just said to mishandle it.

Details of any abuse are always wrenching to hear. At worst, the article reveals Witnesses have failed to eradicate from their midst what every other group on the planet, religious or secular, has also failed to eradicate. Thirty years of all-out societal war against child sexual abuse has made barely a dent in the evil.

Plainly, police will not be deterred by any “two-witness” rule of religion, which will only be for congregation use. Four years ago, every Witness in the world (at their summer conventions) considered detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, could be vigilant. Two years ago, a study article considered by all at a weekly meeting made clear that any “reproach” of sexual abuse fell solidly and solely on the abuser, thus removing any stigma that any member might have felt of reporting such ones to police.

https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/2019/02/the-reproach-of-child-sexual-abuse-falls-on-the-abu.html

Pedophilia roots run deep. It was endemic to the Ancient Greece that provides the underpinnings of Western civilization, widely practiced and never spoken against. It thrives today despite monumental efforts to snuff it out. Would that those efforts were more successful.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses have not solved the problem of child sexual abuse, neither has anyone else. A more balanced view of the topic, lacking the malice presented here, is that of [non-Witness] scholar of religion, Holly Folk, presented here:

https://bitterwinter.org/jehovahs-witnesses-and-sexual-abuse-4-answering-some-criticism/

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 July 19, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

Another lightning round Watchtower (May 2021) on account of the Saturday AM Regional coming up  Study article is “Maintain a Positive Attitude Toward Your Ministry“ Theme vs: Sow your seed . . . and do not let your hand rest.”​—ECCL. 11:6.

Is there an 800-lb gorilla in the room? A discussion of the ministry, attitudes toward, obstacles encountered, and techniques suggested, when most of them are off the table during Covid times. Looking toward the future, I guess?

Another fishing comment from the sister who loves to fish and you would never know it from her overall demeanor.

Para 7: With regard to evening witnessing, “householders may be more relaxed and ready to talk during those times.”   I’ve always found this to be true. There is a distinct difference in ‘day is done’ atmosphere from ‘day is just cranking up,’ much more relaxed.

I like the summary of Para 11: Some :do not believe in God because they see so much suffering in the world.”

Some “reject the Bible because they see the hypocrisy of religious leaders who claim to live by that book. “.  1/2

“Others are preoccupied with their jobs, families, or personal problems, and they fail to see how the Bible can help them.

The article is on various ways to meet such viewpoints….2/2

Hm. One of those items in the picture would require me to step out of my comfort zone, and I’m not necessarily comfortable even IN my comfort zone.

I’m not huge on inferring from bumper stickers but sometimes they tell it all. Like the car with “born right the first time.” [doesn’t like religion] and “There are death squads in America. They’re called insurance companies.” [has been through some tough times.]

I get the simplification, easier to comprehend and all. But I can miss the imagery of the more literal translation:

“As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens his friend.”   vs:   “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the face of his companion.”  (Proverb 27:17)….1/2

Who sharpens the face of his companion these days? But I still like it….2/2

Para 14: “Then we discussed how we might respond differently if we faced that situation again.”

I miss working with my familiar old pal John, who would say to me, and I to him: “Try not to mess this one up the way you did the last door.”

Para 17: I do like this John 7:5 verse about how Jesus’ own family at one time “were, in fact, not exercising faith in him.”

And don’t get me started on the time they’d thought he’d gone off his rocker:  “But when his relatives heard about it, they went out to lay hold of him…1/2

for they were saying: “He has gone out of his mind.”  (Mark 3:21)…2/2

And now it’s off to Day 2 (AM session) of the Powerful by Faith summer convention, streamable by anyone at jw.org.

 

Midweek Meeting: Assigned Bible Chapters: Deuteronomy 16-18

You must not pervert justice, show partiality, or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous.  (Deut 16:19)

The blinding effect of money calls to mind two saying, the common exhortation to “follow the money” as a means…1/3

getting to the bottom of things. (‘Who benefits’ is often synonymous with ‘who made it happen) ….2/3

The second is that famous quote from Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”…..3/3

The bro giving the Treasures talk is a retired police officer. He is speaking on the Deuteronomy themes of impartiality, establishing the facts, and getting help for difficult cases. I wonder if his cop background comes in handy in those type meetings….1/2

Whoa! No sooner had I thunk the thought and he said how in his former job (he didn’t say what it was) investigations were handled in a way that way ‘speedy,’ and it was upon becoming a Witness that he learned a ‘more thorough way of handling investigations.”   2/2

I happen to know in the congregation he first attended, he, a very humble man, was put to use carrying mics & so forth, & nobody thought to tell him that carrying a gun disqualifies him from special privileges. …3/4

‘Was it hard for you to accept? I asked, since police are the good guys. He said it was not. Besides, he was about to retire anyway….4/4

..the due right of the priests from the people: Whoever makes a sacrifice, whether a bull or a sheep, is to give the shoulder, the jaws, and the stomach to the priest.  (Deut 18:3)

Those in Bethel also benefit from voluntary donations. Why, just yesterday I sent a stomach to one

“When he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself in a book a copy of this Law, taken from the one kept by the Levitical priests.” (Deut 17:18) Take heart, you children. Even a king had homework. …1/2

“Your homework for over the weekend, typewritten and double-spaced, King Solomon, is to write out the entire Book of the Law. And pay attention to the part about not taking many wives.”….( Deut 17:17) 2/2

James 1:13 is one of the verses I like when just offering to read a verse, “get your response and then I’m gone.”

“When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone….1/2

“The reason I chose this verse,” I will say, “is that some people think he DOES try people with evil.”…2/2

To the online bro, assigned the 5-minute talk, who asked me for pointers, I said: “Swat the podium hard to illustrate firm discipline. Take something disposable with you and heave it away to illustrate last-ditch-measure-expulsion.  (NOT)  :)” Teach him not to do THAT again.

Why do I like so much the video of the elderly Jamaican sis who has pioneered her entire life come what may?

Like an Ezekiel 33:7 watchman of old, I too would fearlessly sound due warning through the years and thus no doubt saved hundreds, helping them prepare: “That elder I love to tease is giving the public talk today! Brace yourselves!”

“for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt 24:21)

Lee used to tell me that in his territory, people’s response to this would be, “Wow! What channel is it on?”

Para 4: “Similarly, Jehovah appointed watchmen, not because he wanted to terrorize the Israelites with messages of doom, but because he cared for his people and wanted to save lives.”

If you want messages of doom, you watch the evening news….1/2

And someone described reading the Drudge Report to reading the Book of Revelation…..2/2

Para 7: “None of the sins he committed will be held against him.” (Ezek. 33:14-16) for the one who turns away from them. But

Those neighbor kings knew Solomon had a wife problem when he would come to summits and they’d have to rent 32 Holiday Inns to accommodate them all.

Actually, huge harems was commonplace among foreign kings of that place and time.

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)

Flee or Stay in the Face of Persecution?

I know several need-greaters in Myanmar, both past and present. For weeks after the February coup, the US Embassy said they were monitoring the situation but there was no immediate danger to American citizens. As things deteriorated, they began advising Americans to leave. Presumably other embassies did the same.

The Branch made clear to need-greaters that to leave or not leave was entirely a personal choice and that there was no stigma in either course. Some did leave. Some stayed. In either case it was their own decision. It was not a matter of one party being “more faithful” than the other. One of the need-greaters in Myanmar was a native Russian. She decided to stay where she was.

To oversimplify (and apply to Russia), the reason you might stay is to attend to the needs of the local friends now under increased pressure. This you can do, unless and until they throw you into the hoosegow, and you don’t know they are going to do that until they do. Some have not the financial means to flee, even if they had the inclination to do so.

Dennis Christensen was the very first one arrested—a foreigner! as though Russia was sending a signal to the world that it was playing for keeps. It’s a good thing we don’t do anti-types anymore for someone would surely seize upon this one as a whopper. Even his name points to the one he follows. Even his carpentry profession lines up. He must have his moments of discouragement. He must. ‘They are trying to breaking him,’ a Witness spokesperson said of one onerous situation. Yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen him down. Witnesses could not ask for a better public face. Jehovah keep him strong.

The reason you might leave in the face of persecution, on the other hand,  is rather obvious, and some have done that. For those that do, it’s hard not to think of Acts chapter 8, in which persecution became so intense that “all except the apostles were scattered…..However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word,” so even that served to magnify the message.

People have different circumstances, different obligations, differing senses of how to meet those obligations, different assessments of their own wherewithal and the wherewithals of those whom they have obligations to. There are some who view wherever they happen to be as “their assignment.” I think of a local brother who turned down a job that would have required relocating with the observation that (he said it to me): “I’ll move for Jehovah. But I’m not moving for Satan!” (the “god of this system of things”—2 Corinthians 4:4) Others would have taken the relocation in a heartbeat—there was nothing else disagreeable about the job, only that it was elsewhere.

One of the Russian brothers sentenced to prison thanked the court for it. Doubtless there would be people in his new “assignment” that needed to hear the good news from the Bible, he said. Or was he just making the best of a bad situation? Or was he doing both?

Many moons ago I was a young elder in a city congregation with a horrendous public school system (which still is that way—they’ve been promising to turn the corner for decades). If we can successfully homeschool, my wife and I decided, we will stay in our present congregation. With minor caveats, the course worked out well—there were far more pluses than minuses (though there were minuses). Parallel to the decision to stay or leave during times of opposition, not all families would have the circumstances, resources, or wherewithal to do as we did.

Did I come to think too highly of my “holiness?” Years later, working with the circuit overseer in the ministry, I began to expound on how rough it had been on the congregation during that time. This was my favorite CO, a man of much wisdom, a man near retirement age, and probably older. I told him how elder after elder with young children had departed for the suburbs or rurals where better schools were to be found. As they left, they would say, “Don’t worry—Jehovah will provide!” But as for me and my household, we would stay faithful to our assignment and we would….

Right in the middle of my sanctimonious speech, he cut me off with: “You always do what is best for your family.”

….

Just to clarify, did he mean you should always do what youthink is best for your family? 

Yes. My bad.  It wasn’t praise he offered me. It was reproof. And yes, again, I used a little hyperbole on my own speech. It wasn’t that sanctimonious—but it leaned in that direction. After all, what is putting others down other than a means of lifting yourself up?

…..

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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)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of July 12, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

Bob gives the public talk today, his theme: “What marks the Bible as authentic.” He opens with items that you might test to see whether they are authentic, a photo of a diamond and a 20 dollar bill….1/2

I have heard him give this talk live, not just over Zoom. He left his $20 on the speaker stand during setup, the chairman took it to lost and found, and Bob later said that “he literally stole my illustration.”…2/2

There are different marks of authenticity regarding a $20 bill, he says, about 8, having to do with ink, borders, color, etc. Then he goes into what marks the Bible as authentic.

Commenting on Isaiah 13, that Babylon will never be rebuilt, the speaker tells of a Saddam Hussein plan to restore it, including a rebuild of the Tower of Babel. Came to nothing, it did, even Saddam. I am told that the ruins of Babylon today is a site for edgy concert partying.

“Thank you for getting up early and giving us that fine talk,” the chairman says. He DID get up early, Zooming from the West coast to us in the East. He was originally from out area.

STUDY ARTICLE today is “Nothing Can Make the Righteous Stumble,” from May 2021 Watchtower. Theme scripture: “Abundant peace belongs to those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”​—PS. 119:165….1/2

“We’re happy we do not have to move along at such a fast clip as the last two weeks,” the Wt conductor says (due to the Convention streaming) We sure are—Whoa! that moves fast….2/2

Para 1: “a writer once stated: “If there were another ‘Jesus’ among us today who would say things the way the original Jesus said . . . , would we reject him today the way we did two thousand years ago? . . . The answer has generally been: Yes, we would.” …1/2

the way Mark Twain cynically put this is: “There has only been one Christian. They caught and killed him—early.”…2/2

Para 3: “They asked his disciples: “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” To this, Jesus replied: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are ill do. I have come to call, not righteous people, but sinners2repentance.”​—Luke 5:29-32….1/2

Para 6 “At that time Jesus said in response: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children.”…How is he able to do this? Why? All Witnesses know this.

Last week a sis told how she left a study publication with an educated co-worker, who handed it back, saying “it’s too simple.” It has to be complicated with these characters, and in that way they end up blinding themselves….2/2

To charges that JWs “insulted” other faiths and should therefore be banned, one scholar for the Russian Orthodox Church, Andrey Kuraev, commented that Jesus also “insulted” them, using some of the same verses of para 7 & 8

Para 10: Yes, of course. If the soul is immortal, as almost all faiths except JWs teach, then the resurrection teaching becomes irrelevant. You can raise from the dead that which has not died.

I was surprised at reading certain scholars, Ehrman is one, Luke Johnson is another, explaining the resurrection teaching as “damage control” to recover from the “embarrassing” fact of Christ’s death, thereby indicating they were clueless as to a central tenet of the Bible.

Re para 13, there was a bro who famously worked up a long talk detailing all the illegalities of Jesus’ trial. Christians today will be reminded of all the doings in Russia.

 

Sigh…one bro commented, not on how he was brought up as a Roman Catholic, but as a ‘Roamin Around Catholic.’ This is the bro who likes to joke.

“Your internet connection is unstable,” my screen tells me. Tell me about it.

 

Midweek Meeting:  Assigned Bible chapters: Deuteronomy 13-15

Western social net systems came about because of Jews carrying their attitudes of compassion & responsibility toward their poor ( Deuteronomy 14) into wherever they settled, I recall reading in some account of American history, I forget by who.

Totally new to me when I looked into the Bible was the Mosaic law that ones who became so poor as to sell themselves into slavery would be freed on the 7th year, with a gift!

Debts canceled on the seventh year, too, at least debts for non-business matters.

It must be when they stoned Stephen outside the Sanhedrin (Acts 7) they figured & justified they were acting according to direction of Deuteronomy 13:6-10

and it must become a heap of ruins to time indefinite. It should never be rebuilt.  (Duet 13:16)

To be sure, if a city is never rebuilt, its destruction is a permanent reminder to why it was destroyed. If it is rebuilt, people forget.

I wonder if this De 14:21 didn’t have spillover elsewhere into other areas of humane treatment of animals:

“You must not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Intuitively wrong, it seems.

Though I am reminded of a Bashevis Singer short story in which a 19th-century Jewish settlement in Poland is paralyzed because the priest (rabbi?) cannot bring himself to sacrifice animals. He just loves them too much; he is too kind and gentle. ….1/2

Finally one settler tells him that it’s fine to be merciful, but he doesn’t have to be more merciful than God. …2/2

How many will be surprised at the description (1 Jn 5:21) that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one?”

Same as at Luke 4:6,  John 12:31, Rev 12: 9

Imagine! Bringing your own chair to the Regional Convention as in those Congo videos. Let no one say that Westerners are not spoiled.

I am consistently told that only in the developing world can people reason appreciate verses like “Give us today our bread for this day” (Matt 6:11) for it IS commonly a daily matter there.

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)

ABCNews: Russia’s Campaign Against Jehovah’s Witnesses—a reaction

It is a shocking report, “Russia’s Campaign Against Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the latest in a long line of shocking reports. Throw it on the stack. I did, and then wrote up the following response to it:

Sergey Lavrov, one of the six Russian officials whom Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide were invited to write, later grumbled at a press briefing that “Russia is blamed for everything that goes wrong on this planet.” I wrote in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why, “Ought he not look in the mirror for the reason?” When you arrest, jail, persecute, and in some cases even torture, the most peaceable people on the planet, you send a clear signal to the world that sanity does not prevail in your land.

“Why would a nation of some 144,000,000 risk its international reputation to persecute a religious sect numbering no more than 175,000 followers?” columnist Andrew Sorokowski wrote. Yet Russia has done so—it has gone ahead and trashed its international reputation—and it suggests to the unpracticed eye that all charges directed its way just might be true, that there is no accusation too fantastic to be dismissed out-of-hand. On Twitter, one Russian outlet sarcastically writes: “Don’t forget to check under your bed before you go to sleep tonight. There may be a Russian under there ready to give bad dreams.” “Thanks for the tip!” says anyone familiar with the plight of Dennis Christensen, jailed for nearly a full year [now much longer] without trial [he later had and lost his sham trial] for merely leading a Bible study, as he peaks under the bed to check. How can people not imagine Russia capable of unlimited villainy? Perhaps whatever they hear is but the tip of the iceberg.

This ABCNews story is painful to watch. In researching what I hoped would be like the modern-day (Russian) Book of Acts  (all particulars of this post are taken from that book, the ebook version of which is free on most venues and a print version also available through Amazon), these were names I’d run across before and I felt as though I knew them. They are ordinary people like me, manifestly harmless, manifestly decent, manifestly doing no more than worshipping the God of the Bible. Might there even be a little survivor’s guilt? We in the West may be targets of sporadic opposition, but the notion of violent repression is foreign to us (though not to Russians, who have historically known little else). Along with praying for our brothers, we pray that should our turn come, we will be a courageous as our Russian brothers are proving themselves to be.

In one rare Russian court decision that went our way, a Witness escaped imprisonment when a judge ruled a prior judge had shown prejudicial bias. She had rebuked the Witness with: “You are not a prisoner of conscience and you have nothing to do with the first Christians. You should not speculate on this.” He is, he does, and he should; the second judge ruled the first out of line to muzzle the thought.

The parallels with the “first Christians” are exactly what to focus on. Russia’s outlandish persecution of Christians rivals even that of the first century in all but the ultimate price. The numbers are even comparable. Bart Ehrman, scholar of early Christianity, numbers Christian martyrs of Roman times as no more than a few hundred. Then as now, the unprovoked and irrational cruelty of it all sent disproportional shock waves down through history. The witness given ultimately reached and moved spiritually hungry persons everywhere.

Again and again in the ABCNews report comes the observation that nobody knows just why such atrocities are happening. Indeed, the story’s byline is: “Hundreds have been targeted in a crackdown that no one can fully explain.” Tanya Lokshina, when asked in interview, can’t figure it out. She is a human rights researcher and journalist; she is accustomed to figuring it out, so as to be able to better counter it. Here she admits that she just doesn’t know. It “doesn’t add up,” she says as she floats and discards one possibility. Putin himself famously commented that he didn’t understand why Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted, since they “are Christians, too.” Whenever things defy human explanation, surely believers can be forgiven for supposing something superhuman is also at work. Time and again the Bible narrative assures that “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Just after the ban on the Jehovah’s Witness religion was imposed, when it was not clear just what would be the practical aftermath, authorities raided a campground. It was feared that Jehovah’s Witnesses were teaching their religion to their children. It didn’t sit well with those who commented on the news article. “Something is too much. Even I, being an inveterate and convinced atheist, against such interference in the personal life of citizens, even if they are any Witnesses (this is still to be proved). People are adults, they went out with their tents to rest, yes, and with their children.” Nearly all of the 54 comments attached were supportive and sympathetic to Witnesses, and the few that were not were mostly traceable to a single vitriolic person—Witnesses would call this one an “apostate,” for they almost always are; no one else could work up such a frenzied passion, even infecting entire nations.

The Witness organization gives this unjustified persecution maximum exposure. As Paul told Agrippa, “this thing has not been done in a corner.”  This Witness organization did not permit that, even if they failed to stop what is in essence a sure Bible prediction. Our Russian brothers will forever know that their courageous stand spurs honest, hungry, and humble persons to look into the faith now on display as heretofore uninterested persons check jw.org to see if it is truly extremist. When they see that it is not, how will they respond? The world reels from one calamity to the next, and distressed people seek explanation and comfort. Perhaps that is the greatest contribution our Russian brothers make to Jehovah’s service—to point to where answers may be found, even if “with persecutions.” (Mark 10:30)

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 July 5, 2021

Weekend Meeting

Another lightning fast Watchtower—no paragraphs read—streamed convention coming up afterwards. “Will You Stumble Because of Jesus?” May 2021 Wt, Theme scripture: “Happy is the one who finds no cause for stumbling in me.”​—MATT. 11:6.

Raised my hand for the first paragraph, no way will I be called on, I told my wife, because there will be stiff competition, and sure enough I wasn’t.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say I wrote para 1 myself. Yes, the Bible teachings did seem crystal clear. Yes, I did think it would be an easy matter to tell others. Yes, I was surprised at how relatively few cared.

Imagine. The chief priests and Pharisees feel threatened by ones putting faith in Jesus after resurrecting Lazarus—‘the Romans will come and take our place and position’—so the plot to kill Jesus AND Lazarus. John 11:47, 48, 53; 12:9-11.

Para 7–one sis commented on how some have thought JWs an ‘American religion,’ I recall when Ed was not able to convince a householder that he was a Witness. “That’s an Italian religion!” the fellow objected, so many there were of Italian background in the faith in that locality.

Para 15–that elder I love to tease gave his answer for when someone asked him, How was your 4th of July? “Well, we made it to the 5th.” Another bro says he is chastised by his workmates for not participating in BLM, tho he has worked with them forever.

‘Yes, you can have your religion, but we need to do something NOW’ is the response of so many, said one bro. Even most discussion of religion today is in order to bend it to some immediate application of politics.

Para 19–someone gave that illustration of you hire the babysitter to care for your kids, then return to see the kids neglected as she (or he) is up on a ladder painting the ceiling.

Meeting ended with ‘Make the Truth Your Own,’ the song they had to rewrite because of that final blast of a high note that everyone except one sis tailed off as it approached, leaving it all to her, & she would mangle it.

That convention video on how bones heal reminded me of Leon, in a horrible skiing accident & so they temporarily removed half his skull (to allow for swelling). ….1/2

Before it was replaced he visited the hair salon to ask if he could have a haircut at half price since plainly, he had “only half a head.” The receptionist did the only thing she could possibly do—she panicked, and ran to ask a superior….2/2

 

Midweek Meeting: Bible reading: Deuteronomy 11-12

 

Plenty is lost from one generation to the next, even forgotten by the original generation:

“You must love Jehovah your God and always keep your obligation to him and his statutes (Deuteronomy 11:1)…..,

“I am addressing you, not your sons who have not known …1/3

or seen the discipline of Jehovah your God, his greatness, his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh. (2-3)…They did not see (5)…Your own eyes have seen (7)…

[Therefore,] “Teach them to your children, speaking about them ….2/3

when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” (19)

20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,  21 so that you and your sons may live long in the land…(20)…3/3

Many years ago someone taking to heart these verses of idolatry dumped a huge statue of…of…I don’t want to say because people are crazy…off a bridge into the Genesee River. It’s still there, most likely

Why does this read like, “Okay, we may be partying now, but this is going to END!?”“You must not do as we are doing here today, with everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes,  because you have not yet come into the resting-place and the inheritance …. “ Deut 12:8

I also remember Bro Park (for better or worse) telling a certain condescending fellow that his mezuzah was on the wrong side of the door.…“Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…” (Deut 11:20)

One sis referred to that article on how the newcomer Israelites might reasonably seek out farming tips from the people of the land, who of course, would lay great stress on pleasing the native gods.

Tell me if this doesn’t reflect a God who wants things done “decently and by arrangement:”  “You should offer your burnt offerings only in the place that Jehovah chooses in one of your tribal territories, and there you should do everything I am commanding you.” Deuteronomy 12:14

 

“Okay, where should we start?”

“You’re the neat freak. You tell me.”

“Interesting video” the conductor said, after watching the both of them sort through laundry, sniffing to tell clean from dirty.

 

Ha! To a family member (his dad) who apologized for his “residual hand” the conductor put him at ease, remarking that “punishment will be dished out later.”

 

Bones left out for 200 years would indeed be “very dry.”

 

Study Bible, Ezekiel 37:11

Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Here they are saying, ‘Our bones are dry, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’

The weeds overrunning the wheat of is key to understanding so since Jesus’ death.

“While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat and left….Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest season, ….1/2

I will tell the reapers: First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up; then gather the wheat into my storehouse.’”  (Matt 13:25-30)…..2/2

One sis goes into detail on the nature of “very dry bones’—so much detail that I begin to think she would make a good coroner.

Something here I like about the tenacity of God’s doings…at the mere SCENT of water….“If it is cut down, it will sprout again, And its twigs will continue to grow. If its root grows old in the ground And its stump dies in the soil, at the scent of water it will sprout….1/2

And it will produce branches like a new plant.  (Job 14:7-9)….2/2

There is a time to ‘live and stand on your feet.’…“So I prophesied just as he commanded me, and breath came into them, and they began to live and to stand on their feet, an extremely large army.” (Ezekiel 37:10)

Hard to fathom how for centuries the Bible was deliberately kept in long-dead languages and thus out of the hands of the common people, and that early efforts to translate into English & others was vigorously persecuted, even to death.

In the early 80s, we attended a gathering at Rochester Blue Cross Arena to see snippets from the 1914 “Photo-Drama of Creation,” revolutionary for its time, then being restored from more-or-less neglected Bethel archives. (they’re not much for living in the past there)…1/2

One snippet looped repeatedly of animals loading towards the ark. Motion picture was so new then that it was realized no one would object, maybe not even notice. The method has died, except when TV news wants to bludgeon us endlessly with some atrocity endlessly…2/2

I listened closely to the list of specific skills needed at Bethel. ‘Spinning yarns’ and ‘telling tall tales’ were not among them.

…..

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Moving the ‘Cult’ Goalposts

Jehovah’s Witnesses plainly don’t fit the traditional definition of cult that we all grew up with. Time was, if you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader, withdrew from society, and began doing strange things, you just might be a member of a cult.

However, the goal posts have been moved! There is a new definition of cult, and by this definition they do fit. If you belong to a group in which there is significant human authority and if you think outside of the mainstream box, you are a cult. The BITE expert even thinks half the country (United States) belongs to a cult for voting for the candidate he disfavors, a circumstance I think dilutes every other stand he takes. I mean, if you think half the country is in a cult, is it not evidence you have drunk too much of the KoolAid yourself?

This changed definition explains why when Yaroslav Sivulsky (as related in Don’t Know Why We Persecute) is asked about cult accusations, he does the only thing a reasonable person can be expected to do—he doesn’t understand the question. He notes that “we don’t have the features of a sect, because we are not isolated, we have no leader who is controlling everybody, because we are open to society. We go to the people, not hide from the people in forests of somewhere else.” He hasn’t kept up with the latest machinations of men; he has a real world to live in.

So the question becomes how do you adapt to this new definition of cult?

One way is simply refuse to accept it. “Cult” has had specific meaning for centuries, and just don’t budge from that specific meaning. The only reason it has changed in recent years is because humanists are intent upon snuffing out religion that becomes powerful through organization. If it is only a matter of uncoordinated individuals each acting (or more often, not acting) upon his or her own personal interpretation of God, that is less of a threat to them, and they are okay with it. Disconnected individuals are relatively easy to pick off or assimilate, but it is much harder with members of a centralized coordinated group.

Another way of dealing with the updated definition is to accept it but also point out that the Bible thereby becomes a cult manual. It plainly speaks of a first century group in which there was significant human authority. That gathering of the apostles of older men in 49CE (Acts 15) sent out decrees (decisions) to the congregation that were to be observed. (Acts 16:4-5)

A supplemental response is to revert to the original meaning of “cult,” for it comes from the same root word as does agriculture. Whereas agriculture is literally caring for the earth, cult in the religious sense can be taken as caring for the matters of God. I’ll take it. It is not too different from serving as ‘guardians of doctrine.’

Or one can point out the advantages of being able to cooperate. One can observe that in response to direction from their governing body, Jehovah’s Witnesses instantly suspended physical meetings for virtual, and instantly donned the masks deemed protective. If that protocol was the secret for eradicating the virus and if everyone in the world had been a Jehovah’s Witness, Covid 19 would have shoved off long ago. I told the CultExpert, who has the byline, “Freedom of Mind,” you don’t think at least some of those flying your banner will use their freedom of mind to tell the government to take a hike?

And should it turn out that such protocol is not the way to eradicate the virus, that quickly becomes apparent, clearing the path for another protocol to be devised. Indeed, the doctor who wrote the White House with the medical regimen that quickly cured Trump when the latter came down with kiss-of-death Covid thinks there will some day be the equivalent of Nuremberg trials for those who let hundreds of thousands of people die by discrediting and even withholding treatment of an eminently treatable disease.

But when some follow the guidelines and some don’t, you never come to know if they work or not. Covid ravages the globe as each one is arguing his or her own point of view and the result of either course never comes to fruition. JWs would have spared the world that. “Freedom of mind” anti-cult addicts would have perpetuated it.

One can also be very resourceful and turn that cult taunt (for that is how it is usually intended) on its head, the same way some innovative police years ago dealt with the taunt “Pigs.” They advertised that is stood for Pride, Integrity Guts, and Service. In the same way, as applied to Witnesses, cult can stand for Courage, Unity, Love, and Truth.

The villains don’t own the dictionary. We can make as much use of it as they. In the case of hostile ex-Witnesses, we can even adapt the Freddy Mercury song:

We’re the apostates, my friends

and we’ll keep on fighting till the end

No way we’ll lost this

Be sure you choose us

Cause we’re the apostates of he world.

Meanwhile, displaying far more freedom of mind than the freedom of mind specialist could ever dream of, the recent announcement from HQ is that “they do not oppose vaccination. Many of the Bethel family have chosen to be vaccinated. We view health care as a personal decision and do not attempt to make such decisions for others.” (an amalgamation of two separate announcements) I have quipped that you can even tell whether a bro is vaccinated or not by how they read the announcement:

HQ IS NOT AGAINST vaccination. We view health care as a personal choice.

or

HQ is not against vaccination. We view health care AS A PERSONAL CHOICE.

…..

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of June 28, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

Only the Watchtower today, and an abbreviated one at that, since the streamed Friday AM session of the Regional Convention follows, available online on the website.

The study article is from the April 2021 Wt: STUDY ARTICLE 17, “Jehovah Treasures You“—   Jehovah takes pleasure in his people.”​—PS. 149:4.…SONG 108 God’s Loyal Love

 

The ‘God as a loving father’ model works best if you actually had a loving actual father. If you didn’t, the template doesn’t quite fit and a person can struggle with closeness.

“If you become discouraged in the day of distress, Your strength will be meager.” (Proverbs 24:10)

“Ask Jehovah to help you replace those “disquieting thoughts” with ‘the peace of God that will guard your heart and your mental powers.’” (Ps. 139:23; ftn.; Phil. 4:6, 7)….I like the gist that you don’t panic if you try Phil and find it doesn’t work.

It’s shocking how fast these studies move when they skip reading the paragraphs.

OH NO! Someone is on to me that if I casually put a hand before my face it is to make an aside that I don’t want everyone to hear!

“Can you imagine how Paul would have felt on meeting a young Christian whose parents had been executed with his approval?” Para 11. ….Isn’t that a beaut of a thought?

I will not make the joke here, no I will not—one must behave oneself—about the guy whose psychiatrist said he didn’t have a inferiority complex at all but was just a realist.

When you’re drowning & someone throws a lifeline, the fellow who wants you to drown will try to cut the lifeline. All the better for the Devil when he can get you to cut it yourself, since if you spot HIM trying to cut, you will counteract it. (The lifeline in his case is knowledge of Jehovah’s love.)

Okay, on to Day 1 of the convention, streamed at jw.org.  Starts with the music that (per me) you are not allowed to skip.

 

Midweek Meeting: Bible reading: Deuteronomy 9-10.

 

Meeting begins with the talk: “What Is Jehovah Your God Asking of You?” based on Deut 10:12: Now, O Israel, what is Jehovah your God asking of you? …1/2

Only this: to fear Jehovah your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul:…2/2

 

Ah. Another fine reason not to get cocky: “Know, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that Jehovah your God is giving you this good land to take possession of, because you are an obstinate people.” (Deut 9:6)…You guys are a bunch of losers, he all but says.

Imagine: Moses held the future of everyone in his hand. “For I was terrified because of Jehovah’s great anger against you, in that he was ready to annihilate you. However, Jehovah listened to me that time also.” ….1/2

because he ‘came out of himself.’ Any argument goes better when we can frame it bigger than ourselves.   2/2

If you think about someone higher than yourself, you do better: “Otherwise the people of the land from which you brought us may say: ‘Jehovah was unable to bring them into the land he promised them, and b/c he hated them, he brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness

A Bible reading from the bro who has been my chum since many many years ago I spoke with his parents (this is tricky) on the verse ‘parents lay up for the children, not children for the parents..

The 2nd student talk, using Gen 1:28, “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens,”recalled for me ….1/2

many years ago a bro who kept reversing them—the fish of the heavens and the birds of the sea!”….2/2

“to Jehovah your God belong the heavens, even the heavens of the heavens” (Deut 10:14)….I’m not really sure what the heavens of the heavens is. Any takers? Probably it’s one of those Hebrew idioms like the 6 things God hates that he one-ups to seven.

 

Council directed to the young on not abusing video games. Effective?

Maybe I should not admit it, but I’ve never played one (except for the very early ping pong ones) Before my time.

Several appreciative comments, but none from the youths that might reasonably PLAY video games. (does a 4-year-old count?)

One comment on video games from the bro who (not everyone knows this) as a young boy, his dad played pro football (yes, NFL) and would not let his sons watch it.

Council directed to the young to “think past the drink.” Effective? (No, I will not say drinking is before my time, like video games. In fact, I recall shocking drinking and driving scenes, once routine, but universally condemned today.)

 

The bro who is a retired cop commented how a drunk driving conviction might cost you $20K or more, mostly due to sky-high insurance adjusted premiums.

That wiseacre bro corned everyone with the observation that the dry bones brought to life might have been the “original Grateful Dead.” However, the conductor is of a different ethnicity and I’m not sure he got it—or maybe he just winced & passed on.…..

 

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The Vision that Keeps Panting Toward the End but Will Not Tell a Lie

For [the] vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

 

When it comes to looking forward to the end, they’re not much for risk management at the Witness support organization. They tend to go in whole hog. Even Ramipo does not represent a hedging of that view, as someone suggested. ‘It’s to facilitate increased preaching,’ they say, ‘if we don’t use it in this system, we’ll use it in the next.’ Brothers are shocked at current events—how can people not be?—and read nearness of the end into it. It’s human nature, a not unreasonable enhancement of what even J.Q.Public shouts these days: “What is this world is coming to?!”fully to be expected of people whose trademark m.o. is ‘keep on the watch.’ My non-Witness dad, with no use for religion, would say the world “was going to hell in a hand basket.”

Should the Witness organization take the other side of that sentiment and try to tamp down expectations? Even were they inclined to do that (and they’re not), they would not dare, for fear of running afoul of “where is this promised presence of his? Why from the days of our forefathers all things are continuing….” Let others try to normalize today’s outrageous events if they will. It’s not their job to do so. Several years ago a Regional began with observing how quickly the world normalizes absolutely shocking new developments.

Gays took decades to enter the mainstream, transgenders mere months, and the notion of many genders but minutes. A British survey expresses dismay that only about 1/3 of persons inquire as to a new acquaintances preferred pronouns. To which anyone of common sense is surprised that it is as many as it is. The trend is only a few years old. Beatlemania did not sweep the world so quickly.

Alas, are not true Christians doomed to be chumps in the eyes of the greater world, so that there is little point in not accepting that ‘fate,’ taking our place with those who suffer evil from an unbelieving and critical, world? I even cut Camping plenty of slack on his simplistic end-of-the-world formula a few years back in my treatise on how to predict the end of the world. At least he’s keeping on the watch, I said. It beats those who are just sitting on their hands.

What to make of the divine/human interface? The USCIRF decried in an article critical of the anticult movement, that it is because that movement presumes to arbitrate religious truth that it is so objectionable. Specifically, it is that the only divine/human interface allowable to the anticult movement is the one-on-one gnostic kind, and that anyone coming between a person and his/her own private interpretation of God is a manipulator intent on mind-control. The movement disallows completely the idea that God may just operate in that way, that he may lead his people by means of other people. He certainly has in the past—in fact, he has seldom broke from that pattern. Moreover, the reason the modern secular age would stipulate the gnostic interface only is in order that the resulting religious views always remains disunited and thus easy to scatter or absorb into a humanist world—in short, that they never add up to much of anything, they never become a force that an irreligious world feels obliged to reckon with. It is a way of ‘keeping your religion in its place, and make sure it’s in last place.’

 ….

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