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Scholars and Seed Pickers: Part 2

Here I write up a nice review of Seminega’s book, ‘No Greater Love: How My Family Survived the Genocide in Rwanda,’ but I write it up as an apologist. He writes up his own book as a scholar. He has to. Otherwise his credibility is diminished among the academic community that is his audience and to which he genuinely belongs, even as he is also a Witness. It is more than a little crazy, but that’s the way it is. If you are a non-member of anything, you just may be up for writing accurate history. But if you are a member, it is assumed you are biased and your observations are downgraded, if not discarded. “If I really say it the radio won’t play it.” B3AA71C2-5326-48AE-B087-EF4990DE6868 Ah, well—no use in bellyaching. It is what it is. Nobody wants to hear you grumbling about the rules of the game as you play.

“Brother Seminega prefers to let others say it, not he himself. That is how it is with scholars.  He is content to include in an appendix: “Peace and conflict researcher Christian P. Scherrer states: ‘All the churches active in Rwanda, with the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (of whom only a few survived), were involved at least ‘passively’ in the genocide.’”

Do you know that I am yet blocked by the book’s publisher and the author himself? I know how that came to be, or at least I think I do. He nosed around one fine day when I was squabbling with opposers, said ‘We’re not the sort to do that,’ and figured I must be up to no good myself! Yikes! Here the hats are reversed. Here any Witness such as he knows that hobnobbing with the opposers (sometimes apostates) is anything but the bee’s knees with our people. Better give anyone who does it a wide berth! Whereas, if you’re trying to research certain topics, you sort of have to go to who represents them. It all works out for me like Rodney Dangerfield’s point of view: ‘I don’t get no respect.’

I threw them all out—all the apostates.  I had to. I blasted them away as though with phasers. And when someone from that camp began following me recently, I told him he was welcome to follow but he had to behave. Alas, I’ve learned from experience that if I engage with the malcontents, the neighbors start to complain, so be forewarned: the block mechanism was on hair trigger. A guy’s point of view must be allowed to stand on his own profile page.

It worked out okay. He DMed me with a question or two. I answered him for the most part with posts already posted, and presently he went away, after observing I had a “strange skewed logic” for viewing the world. But I replied that “strange skewed logic” is in the eye of the beholder. He acquiesced to this—he was not unpleasant. I acknowledged this even as I observed it is not exactly as though the world is firing on all cylinders running on its “logic,” which makes one wonder just who is it that has the “strange skewed’ variety.

And I observed that his paradigm of a slave breaking free from his master was a little silly. “We are all slaves to something,” said Herman Melville’s Ismael, as he signed aboard a whaling ship, making himself “slave” to Captain Arab for the next three years. If you believe the Bible narrative, you look forward to not being a slave to ‘80 years & out.’ If you don’t, you drop down to the more temporary, more relatively petty things, and carry on about breaking free from them. If you lose faith, you find yourself adapting to a new reality. You convince yourself you have found the true reality and may even start beating up on your fellow slaves still “trapped” in the old reality.

It is a game as old as time and it plays out everywhere. That’s why I like following world events—you can see it playing out in diverse fields that have nothing to do with religion. One team gets the ball and tries to run the other off the field. They may even try tilting the field, making it mighty slippery for those on the other team.

(See Part 1);

***The bookstore.

 

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 February 13, 2022

‘Keep Close in Mind the Awe inspiring Day’ is the #publictalk Speaker uncontrollably yawns toward end of talk. When he does it a second time—Ha! it is not ‘uncontrollable.’ It is a gimmick to convey not being lulled to sleep during perilous times. 3E39C9A2-2AE7-40C3-B402-D30032855DA0

Haven’t heard ‘Preachers Present Arms’ in a while, the sociologist Ray Abrams books of clergy support, even cheerleading, during the World Wars. “Clergy gave the war its passionate spirit and drive,” the speaker reads the quote.

 

#watchtowerstudy ‘Listen to the Voice of the Fine Shepherd’ Theme verse: “They will listen to my voice.”​—JOHN 10:16. “In this article, we will consider two outstanding teachings of Jesus, namely, to stop being anxious about material things and to stop judging others.”

Of course, Jesus’ phrasing ‘stop being anxious’ and ‘stop judging’ acknowledges that people were already doing it.

“In some parts of the world people are so poor” one sis says. “They don’t even have food stamps.”  Nor have they been called ‘food stamps’ for many a year.

Para 6: Lots of chatter on Peter starting to sink after doing it right for a time. One sis invokes “modern science” on how you can “structurally change” your brain by how you interact—what you focus upon. …1/2

Another bro opines that Jesus could have calmed those waters but didn’t to let the lesson [um—sorry—“sink in”]….2/2. (‘sink in’ mine)…2/2

Para 10: ‘I always worried about what would happen if we had nothing’ one bro quotes someone saying somewhere. ‘And then we have nothing. And you know what happened? Nothing.’ …1/2

‘When we give in to our fears & anxieties instead of trusting in Jehovah,’ one sis says,’ that’s when we have the most trouble…..2/2

Para 11: “Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with the judgment you are judging, you will be judged, and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.” Matt 7:1,2….1/2

Yeah, it’s enough for me to keep my judging in check—save only for the bro wearing his used car salesman jacket. And the bro who follows me on Twitter so I reward him with the observation he is the worst speaker in the circuit and maybe the world….2/2

Para 12: Ha! One bro says how on a volunteer project he worked with a bro who was brusque & hard to get along with, but he pushed through it and ended up liking the guy a lot. “I may have worked with that bro too,” says the conductor, who was on the same project.

Review: The bro who says he was for a long time “an outsider looking in” expresses appreciation for the study. Look, you can only benefit by considering applications of scripture. Over time it makes one a better person, teaches one how to live.

 

#Midweekmeeting Bible reading: 1Samuel 1-3. I suppose it is considerate that Eli knows God is speaking to Samuel before the boy does. That way he knows it is not just some mouthy kid telling him off, besides giving Samuel the guts to do it. 1 Samuel 3:8-9

One bro made the point that if you strike a people with piles (hemorrhoids) he guesses it shows who’s boss. (1 Samuel 5:9)

In ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why’ I did play with the notion of piles striking those who took the Branch buildings, but it did not survive the final editing. (1 Samuel 5:9)

Ha! The sis doing the return visit said to her householder, ‘Turn on your mic.’

Re land apportionment of Ezekiel 45, the study conductor just happens to know—how, I have no idea—that for the Oklahoma Sooners sports teams (football, baseball, basketball), the ‘sooner’ comes because their forebears were sooner than others for land grab.

That bro pictured cleaning the sink: When heading a cleaning crew, I used to say ‘Privilege opening up soon in connection with cleaning a toilet!”

Para 14: Foreigner very much 2nd class in (Lev. 19:33, 34) —don’t mistreat them, even ‘love’ them, but in (Ezek. 47:22, 23) they fully have an equal share.

Para 15: I recall Mack saying that for Haggai 2:7 to be true (I will shake all the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says Jehovah of armies.) there must be some ‘in’ for them to come into.

 

 

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)

Scholars and Seed Pickers: Part 1

From time to time I have appended comments on Introvigne’s Bitter Winter tweets. He has never responded. In the same manner, I had a brief exchange with George Chrisyddes and he wrote a really nice review of Tom Irregardless and Me that I have made use of. He even said, on my request, that I could use his real name if I wanted, not ‘Ivor E Tower.’ But since then he has not responded to email. 

Now, it’s possible these guys are so busy they don’t keep up with their own posts upon writing them. Look at their output and you begin to suspect some of them are on hyperdrive. It may also be they think I am a yo-yo. My early books were very choppy, though I have cleaned them up since. But since Introvigne has stated he has a soft spot for Jehovah’s Witnesses, it seems odd I should draw no response from him. I have come to think that, as scholars of ‘new religions’ they wish to keep themselves unattached to apologists for any given one. Possibly all the other ‘sects’ have someone trying to get his ear as well.

“Or they just got a little too big for their boots,” says a pal.

Maybe. But I try to see it through what I imagine are their eyes. I am not a scholar. They are. A scholar sets his sites on a topic, makes thorough investigation no matter how long it takes, and writes up his/her findings. A non-scholar just writes up whatever he happens to know. The result may appear scholarly if he knows a lot, but it is a entirely different process. I check out a fact here and there, sometimes delve into a topic that has newly come to my attention, but I am mostly like what the naysayers said of Paul in Acts 17: “What is this chatterer trying to say?”

The word literally means seed-picker. It denotes a bird that picks up a seed here and poops it out there. 26EB44BB-BE1B-40AF-B5F2-D773A22CB5B3That’s all I’m doing. That’s all most writers do. But it is not what Introvigne and Chrysiddes do.They are scholars.. I think true scholars must almost necessarily keep a certain  distance from apologists, which I am clearly one of. Even Shultz, obviously a fine brother, avoids approaching his work as an apologist, likely so as not to throw away his credibility as a scholar.

I’m sure it doesn’t help that I freely indulge in what I hope passes for riotous humor—anathema to any true scholar.

…One local bro (who eventually went apostate) would inform one and all that he was an historian. ‘How do you know that?’ a householder would ask and he would say it was because he was an historian. In time I told him to knock it off. He was a history buff, not an historian. An historian is when others recognize your expertise, not just yourself.

However, Chrysiddes and Introvigne are scholars of ‘new religions.’ I accept that. If they strive to know what makes Witnesses tick, they do the same with all the other ‘sects.’ I double-down on my feeling that it compromises them to be closely identified with apologists of any faith. Even Introvigne does not want to say something backing up the JW organization only to be dismissed with, “Yeah, but aren’t you a friend of that yo-yo TrueTom?”

“I always wanted to be a scholar but I didn’t know much.”—Garrison Keillor

See Part 2

***The bookstore.

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 James 4:15 Bro

One older bro had a fixation on James 4:13-15 and would apply it to anything.

Come, now, you who say: “Today or tomorrow we will travel to this city and will spend a year there, and we will do business and make some profit,” whereas you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears. Instead, you should say: “If Jehovah wills, we will live and do this or that.”

You couldn’t declare you were breaking for lunch without his appending, “IF it is Jehovah’s will!”

This is the bro whose driving deteriorated so that I would not work with him unless I drove his car. So I routinely did. And I would have to crawl over railroad tracks to avoid a lecture on how to do otherwise might break a spring. How often do cars break springs these days? However, after that, guess who breaks a spring all by himself?

(Though it might be like that time I serviced Dad’s car (come to think of it, it was the same make) and the repair chain I trusted advised me on a ton of undercarriage repairs necessary, including, but not limited to, broken springs. So I took it to my buddy Alex thinking maybe I could get a better price. Naw, it doesn’t need most of those things, he said after putting it up on the lift.

It did have a broken spring and a single bad shock. I picked up those items at Autozone for him to install. “I’ve always heard that if one shock is bad you have to replace both, otherwise it will drive funny,” I said. “One shock is bad right now,” he replied. “Does it drive funny?”)

I tell you, I do miss that James 4 fellow. And don’t think you could walk on the lawn without a lecture on how “we are not the mailman!”

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)

Tracing the Universal Court Case

I told my knowledgeable pal that I was trying to trace our ‘universal court case’ explanation for God’s permission of evil. Where and when did that develop? In-house or are there forerunners, even duplicates, elsewhere? He sent me off on a wild goose chase hunting up a certain Great Courses lecture series entitled Philosophy of Religion. He said he had come across a Seventh Day Adventist who said of that course that finally the SDA explanation for evil was validated. The professor included it in one of his options, even with the endorsement that this explanation made the most sense to him but also that it was little known these days. So I reviewed all his long-winded explanations of evil—not his, but those of others that he explores and shoots down one by one before coming to the last—the obscure one that he found the most logically consistent. 

It was all a red-herring! What the professor finally came to was not the universal court case explanation that still, to my knowledge, is found only in Jehovah’s organization. What he finally arrived at was an explanation that took “dualism” into account (none of the others did!) that one good being (God) is responsible for good, but he is not responsible for bad because he has an evil counterpart (the devil) to pin all the blame on. That was what the professor found the most logically consistent, someone to blame the bad on, not the actual explanation as to why God would allow that evil one to exist and make mischief!

This was an eye-opener to me because I had assumed everyone knew about Satan and took him into account when factoring in evil. In fact, none of them do! And so when the prof finally entertains one that does, as though encountering an oasis in a desert of BS, he says, “you know, that makes a certain amount of sense”—even though it falls far short of what any servant of Jehovah learns from Day One. 

Of course, everyone knows about Satan, but he’s apparently been relegated to fairy tale status, just like Adam and Eve, so he doesn’t come up for serious consideration when the “educated” people congregate! It really is so that people educate themselves into foolishness. I have yielded to this myself. Somewhere in my blog I confessed that, since my intended audience will be the type that are not so sure about God, preaching Satan will really send them over the edge, and so I rarely do it. But that’s not to say if you’re speaking of the origin of evil you can ignore it! Sheesh. It’s kind of integral. But the great thinkers do ignore it.

Relegate the Devil to the status of metaphor if you must—same thing for Adam and Eve. That way you can at least play with the metaphor and figure just what is its application. Be like the mathematician who assumes a condition is true just to see where that logic will take him. But don’t just throw it away unless you are determined not to find an answer to your question.

So now if I am to pursue my project, and there’s one other to complete before I get to it, I must have insider access to the really old publications—maybe I can trace the beginnings of the universal court case there. They’re not available to any Tom, Dick, or Harry, because most Tom, Dick, or Harrys are not Witnesses but only want to dig up dirt or find changed beliefs over the years—and beat us over the head with them.

Sometimes I think there should be a disclaimer on all the old stuff specifically directed to such ones: “If you have to go back 100 years to dig up dirt, there can’t be that much dirt to dig.” Preface it all by saying how opposers look a little silly if they harp on ‘flip-flops’ since it is freely admitted that they happen all the time. Use analogies like the watchman peering into the gloom, how sometimes he will call an imaginary approaching ship, how the alternative is the guy who doesn’t call the approaching ship until its bow pinches his toes. Point out that nobody thinks now as they did in 1880. Point out all the times they incorrectly understood things in Bible times. (The trick is not to sanitize the present—it is to desanitize the past.)

Of course, modern-day ‘thinkers’ will call that ‘whataboutism.’ What used to be called ‘keeping things in perspective’ and was universally thought a wise thing to do is now called whataboutism. If we didn’t consider apostates the bogeyman, creating almost a superstitious fear of them, we might be able to handle their salvos better than we do.

At any rate, maybe I should follow the course that I recommended to another—write and ask for access, not like she said—for everyone, but just for me.  The trouble is I fear I may get the same response as my old college housemate did from the government, or actually from me pretending to be the government. 

College students back then were inclined to ridicule the ‘townie’ patriotism of those in the off-campus community, making much of how the peace sign was the “footprint of the American chicken.” Kevin would do this, more good-naturedly than most because he was a townie himself. He came from a tiny town called Madrid, NY (emphasis on the first syllable, not the last, ridiculous though that may sound. Moreover the ‘Ma’ was not pronounced ‘Muh’ like in the Spanish city but like the ‘maaaaa’ of a bleating sheep!). So that was the backdrop—taking the ‘chicken’s’ way out by enrolling in college. At the time there were student deferments from the draft, but everyone else was off to Nam—as though college-educated students alone were important and everyone else might just as well be cannon fodder. 

Amidst that backdrop, I sent my buddy a form letter as though from the government:

“This country has enough (a long check list of college majors followed, and I checked off the major that was his), Kevin! What we need now are soldiers. Enlist now, you chicken!”

So I am afraid that I might get a letter from Bethel: “This organization has enough authors, TrueTom. What we need now is pioneers! Sign up now, you slacker! Pick up that telephone! Sharpen up that pencil! Get off that internet!”

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 February 6, 2022

#publictalk ‘Overcoming Fear of the Future’ opens with discussion of Doomsday clock, 100 second to midnight, then cites an annual survey of common fears—fear of snakes, clowns, public speaking, serious illness, #1 of last 6 years: corrupt government officials.

Zeph 2:3– seek Jehovah….probably you will be concealed, he has proven he can save, trapped against Pharoeah’s army, destroyed at Red Sea, not a once saved-always saved kind of thing. A person’s faith and endurance matter.

Mt Everest, a dangerous place, 200 climbers are died, their corpses are markers, people of God’s mountain invite others, not intimidating, this mountains symbol of people ascending mountain of pure worship, equips with knowledge, fear replaced with love, global brotherhood at peace with each other’

 

#watchtowerstudy: ‘What Leviticus Teaches Us About How to Treat Others’   Theme verse: “You must love your fellow man as yourself.”​—LEV. 19:18   “What a bunch of nice lessons” to be found in Lev 19, the conductor impromptu says.

Para 5: that pic of the sign language interpreter—the bro who is one of those tells of how the deaf have their own language & culture of which they are very proud, and if you lead off with ‘God is going to fix you’ you have just insulted them.

Para 7 about dishonest business practices. One sis whose son worked in concrete said often the stuff would be watered down—creating possible havoc many years away. Another sis updates ‘dishonest’ to include bait-and-switch ads.

Para 8  Ha! The sis whose late husband was a boat-canvas maker told of how some guy argued with him at great length to work a cash deal so as to avoid sales tax. “How do I know you are not the state inspector come to check on me?’ the bro said, whereupon he shut up & paid up.

Para 13 On grudges (You must not … hold a grudge against … your people, and you must love your fellow man as yourself. I am Jehovah—Lev 19:18)   I like how the words of Joseph are quoted (Genesis 50) when he did not hold one toward his brothers: “Am I in the place of God?”

Para 16: “If a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not mistreat him. The foreigner who resides with you should become to you like a native among you; and you must love him as yourself, for you were foreign residents in the land of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God.”

 

Why did I not know that Hannah had 5 children after Samuel? #midweekmeeting “Jehovah turned his attention to Hanʹnah, so that she could conceive; and she gave birth to three more sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel continued growing up before Jehovah.” (2:21) #midweekmeeting

Whatever became of those hoodlum kids of Penninah? one bro wants to know.

The counsel point “practical value made clear” is essentially ‘what’s in it for me?’ says the chairman.

The Iraqi man at the assembly said Babylon is the site of a festival each year, with music and food. Also that there is the slogan everyone knows: 'Babylon will rise again.'  Not going to happen, says Isaiah 13:19-20

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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)

The Chart that Would Disprove God

Take a good look at this chart, for it is a serious attempt to prove God doesn’t exist. If he did, the thinking goes, he would have patched up evil long ago.

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Note how the chart assumes God is like a Santa Claus who must shower presents regardless of naughty or nice. Note how the bottom-left two boxes present the point, “Can God make a world in which there is free will and yet ensure that no one will use their free will to the detriment of others?” Note how whoever wrote this chart thinks he is smart for positing a question akin to: “Can God make a mountain he cannot move?” Oh yeah, that’s real brilliant. Gotcha.

Throw back at these yo-yos the dilemma of how the lead runner in any race can never be overtaken, since to do so the pursuing runner would have to close half the distance first, and then half that remaining distance, and then half that remaining distance, and then half that remaining distance, and then half that remaining distance. It becomes clear that the second runner can never overtake the first. Then lead these this person to a foot race where exactly that thing happens and watch his brain fry. His ‘critical thinking’ has deceived him.

There are a few other turds masquerading as diamonds in the chart  Each of them is a result of the chartist’s rigid presumption of what God must be like. How many can you find?

Completely absent from the chart is any conception that evil might be temporarily permitted to achieve a certain higher and lasting aim. It is a chart presented from the standpoint of a child who knows what he wants and does not care to know anything else.

Let your finger go down the flow chart until it reaches the box: “Then why is there evil?” Note the three choices supplied along with the chartist’s rash assumption that he has covered all bases. They are:

1) If God is all knowing, he would know what we would do when tested, so there is no need to test us.

Note how this takes all the dignity out of being human. Some people cherish the opportunity to prove their loyalty to a cause greater than they. They will not be satisfied with a test tube result that predicts their loyalty—and with that unpleasantness out of the way, let the good times roll!

2) An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God could and would destroy Satan.

Note the assumption that if he could and would do it, he can and must do it NOW. Again, it is the reasoning of a child who expects presents under the tree on Christmas Day, and not one minute later.

3) Could God have created a universe without these?

This choice leads to the dilemma already mentioned, akin to: ‘Can God make a mountain that he cannot move?’ Maybe these guys can feast on this as ‘wisdom,’ but it doesn’t quite cut it for me.

Does not all of this validate such verses as 1 Corinthians 1:19-20?

For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectuals I will reject.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this system of things? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not get to know God through its wisdom, God was pleased through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.... Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men.”

The chart that would disprove God assumes he must also be omnipresent (everywhere at once), omnisciencient (knows everything at all times), and “all-good.” Usually the third member of this trinity is ‘omnipotent’ (all-powerful) but in this case the chartist has substituted all-good so he can blame God for whatever isn’t going right.

Simply quote one of those verses in which God says he is going to go down and check out something—such as the complaint made about Sodom.

Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy.  I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20-21) 

He wasn’t there. He didn’t know. I love the personification. Not so omnipresent after all, is he? Nor omniscient. The Bible does not present him that way. To be fair, you cannot really blame the chartist for these assumptions. Church teaching consistently paints him this way, even though the Bible does not. If it weren’t for the junk food of church teaching, maybe atheists wouldn’t have strayed into atheism in search of nourishment.

As to the third point, “all-good,” note how the chart assumes God’s role is to bless the doings of a society founded on rebellion against him. Note how it assumes God’s role is to prevent the inevitable bad consequences of such rebellion from occurring. 

Thus, every assumption the chart make about God is wrong. No wonder its conclusions are so cock-eyed. Now, to be sure, those cock-eyed conclusions might remain even if it had begun with accurate assumptions—the pull away from God is strong and more rooted in emotion than in reason. “All his thoughts are: ‘There is no God,’” says Psalm 10:4, about “the wicked man [who] makes no investigation.” (italics mine)

The emotional pull is the urge to kick over the traces—to break free from anyone or anything that would tell you what to do. In their insistence upon pursuing the petty freedoms that this world has to offer, chafing at whatever would seem to restrict them, they end up overlooking the substantial freedoms spirituality offers.

What can you do with people like that? In the case of those who once believed in God and abandoned it for atheism, you could liken them to the fellow who loses millions in the stock market. Undeterred, he celebrates the $10K that he still has left, reasoning about the rest: “They were just paper gains, anyway.”

M. D. Craven—‘Master Driver’ Craven, he used to tell his employer, Greyhound Bus—he had the Banger-to-Boston run for many years, and they would say, “Who gave you that title?” to which he would respond with, “Nobody did—I self-assumed it” (his real first name was Merrill, not Master), whose driving skills fell off precipitously in his older years, and who used to say when his car was on the fritz, “Tom, can I borrow your car?” and whom I just KNEW was going to wrap it around a tree, yet he had been so good to me that even had he said: “Tom, can I borrow your car? I want to wrap it around a tree,” I would have felt obliged to hand him the keys—used to love this verse:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Merrill loved it for the appeal from God to reconcile, with the benefit of relieving heavy matters that might weigh upon one’s conscience. “Come now, and let us reason together,” I can still hear him say, quoting the words from the King James Version of the Bible.

But it is not actually a good rendering of the verse. If you ‘reason’ with God, it will mean that you will take notes. You will not be telling him how to run heaven. It will sort of be like reasoning with Ford about your new Mustang. You will take notes at their owner’s manual that you should run it ‘shiny side up and greasy side down.’ You won’t expect them to be enthralled at how you intend to do it just the reverse.

The New World Translation, which didn’t come upon the scene until the 1960’s, well after M. D. Craven’s hay day, and so he still spoke from the KJV, corrects this faux pas, as do most modern translations. It renders Isaiah 1:18 as: “Let us set matters straight between us.” That’s better. It is the same warm appeal, the same alleviating benefits, but absent any sense that we will be instructing God. He will hear us out, to be sure, but it is not as though he will be benefiting from the pointers we may offer him.

It is like the Zoom prayer the other day to close out a small group meeting; the one offering it was just a little too obvious working in his own narrative. He wove in, as evidence of our stressful Covid-19 times, the comment about lines that stretched from (he named the far-apart streets) as people lined up for free masks. I said to my wife:  “It’s as though he imagines Jehovah saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.  Backed up that far? Wow. Things are really getting tight down there.’”

Alas, the explanation of why God permits suffering involves Adam and Eve. This will make it a non-starter for many people today. Do not let it be so with you. Treat is as a metaphor if you like—that will work for the sake of an examination. Treat it as though it were the cover of a jigsaw puzzle that you assemble for the pure satisfaction of assembling it. Only afterwards do you consider whether the scene is actually something you have come across before.

 

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of January 31, 2022

publictalk “Imitate the Father of Tender Mercies” Speaker begins with account of how his dad ‘showed him mercy’ when he broke a window. This wasn’t my experience when dad parked his brand new Rambler in the garage …1/2

and almost immediately I dropped a plank on the hood from my overhead fort. Of course, I suppose it didn’t help that I lied my head off—that I had nothing to do with that new dent on his hood…..2/2

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Photo credit

Maybe Jehovah’s forgiveness of David had something to do with David’s mercy toward Saul.

“For the one who does not practice mercy will have his judgment without mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Jas 2:1

 

#watchtowerstudy today is entitled “You Must Be Holy”“

Theme verse: “Become holy yourselves in all your conduct.”​—1 PET. 1:15. ‘Is that something humans can even do?’ conductor asks. “You must be holy because I am holy,” says God. Easy for HIM to say. Will explore word meaning.

Para 5–Many of the friends have a no-shoes policy in their home, says one bro, and the purpose of it is to keep the home clean.  This thought he applies to the Bible’s requirement of ‘holiness’ for worshippers.

Para 6– One sis says how God describes self as holy just after emerging from Red Sea. “You must not behave as they do in the land of Egypt, where you were dwelling, and you must not do what they do in the land of Caʹnaan, where I am bringing you.” Lev 18:3 There’s a #newkidintown

Para 9 “Hebrew scholar Marcus Kalisch wrote: ‘This remarkable chapter [19] is perhaps the most comprehensive, the most varied, and in some respects the most important section of Leviticus, if not of the Pentateuch.’”    That being the case, it’s good this #watchtowerstudy covers it

Para 10 One bro says how one may balk at ‘you must be holy because I am holy.’ Forget it. That’s impossible. But then the first item on the list, “Each of you should respect his mother and his father . . . I am Jehovah your God.”​—Lev. 19:2, 3” says ‘Oh, OK I can do that.’

Para 11 One sis how this verse can help adjust one, as it did her—“Each of you should respect his mother and his father . . . I am Jehovah your God” even when you are one who “didn’t have the best upbringing.”

Para 16 “Consider an interesting principle found at Leviticus 19:19, which says in part: You must not wear a garment made with two sorts of thread mixed together.   No Tommy, this is NOT the time to debut with acomment on a certain bro’s hideous tie. (Gotta think of something, tho)

 

Naomi to Ruth at 3:4—“When he lies down, take note of the place where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what you should do.” #midweekmeeting.  the idea is if you uncover his feet they’ll get cold & he’ll wake up.

“Ruth is one of five women the Bible lists in the ancestry of Jesus. Another one is Rahab, who was the mother of Boaz. (Matt 1:3-16) Like Ruth, she was not an Israelite.”  I did not know that.

Ruth 4:4 “He replied: “I am willing to repurchase it.””  Oh yeah! He’s all in! Then he learns more responsibility is involved, and says, “I am unable to repurchase it, for I may ruin my own inheritance. No wonder he’s called so-and-so.

What about BibleGateway translations of Ruth 4:1? How do they render ‘so and so?’ ‘Such-a-one’ (one says ‘what’s-your-name’) is the most common. Runner up is ‘friend’ with the occasional ‘dear friend.’ But I think this is overly chummy. …1/2

EXP says in footnote, “the man is not named, perhaps ironically because he refused to preserve Naomi’s family name.” The creep….2/2

May Jehovah grant the wife who is entering your house to be like Rachel and like Leʹah, both of whom built the house of Israel. May you prosper in Ephʹra·thah and make a good name in Bethʹle·hem.  May your house become like the house of Peʹrez…1/2

whom Taʹmar bore to Judah, through the offspring that Jehovah will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11-12)  You don’t think that sounds a lot like the Sabbath Prayer from Fiddler on the Ruth?…2/2

Jade pretty much did at the first meeting what everyone does. She barely paid attention to the parts and instead took in the atmosphere. Didn’t matter at all that she was late. Probably even for the best, as she could see how no one harrumphed over it.

“No more diseases, doctors, nurses, hospitals, health insurance! That water of life will flow…”Look, if the health care system was bad before, it’s totally disfunctional now. And don’t get me going about insurance ‘surprises.’

John 5:29: “those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”

Para 19. New scrolls opened & that is the sense of ‘judgement’—a time of evaluation (like BookofJudges)  What will be their response 2new scrolls?

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Elon Musk Does the Babylon Bee: Part 5

Click here to begin with Part 1.

I’m jealous of the Babylon Bee, of course, and not just for landing the Musk interview. The Bee started up just 5 years ago and is larger than my site by a factor of a gazillion.

Trouble is, if you’re really really into current events to the point where the players themselves, good guys and bad guys, loom huge in your consciousness, than any reading of JW literature will be pure dullsville. Jehovah’s Witness writing gets bland just when you expect punch and punchy just when you prefer bland.

It if often hilarious—the Babylon Bee is, but it is also intensely political. Taking shots at this or that politician, or celebrity, or anyone who’s trending, is what they do—it’s probably just a seat-of-the-pants impression, three quarters of what they do. They are almost 100% solidly GOP conservative, much more that the Latter Days Saints, who otherwise top the list. And they almost completely confine their satire to what’s trending in America. What’s trending in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America—for the most part they haven’t a clue. Most people live in one of those other places. The BB is into America. 

Witnesses, on the other hand, are an international religion that identifies with politics not at all. The socially conservative jibes of the Babylon Bee will for the most part resonate with them, too. But to the extent the Bee leans toward ‘the right set of politicians’ who will, if given half a chance, fix this world’s problems—no, that doesn’t resonate with Witnesses at all. Their take on God’s Kingdom is that it truly is a heavenly government that does not find its expression in any human government.

Moreover, to be an ambassador of the reigning Christ will surely make one neutral with regard to human governments, just as a citizen of Mexico will not vote in the Canadian elections. Look at that Pew chart again that the LDS top for political involvement. See Jehovah’s Witnesses there? By far they have the largest contingent of non-involvement for politics. I am convinced that the number would be still larger if they didn’t self-report—that is, if those who reported were as the congregation itself would define as Witnesses, those who have an active share in the preaching work.

Witness publications speak in generalities regarding human governments, seldom naming names. That is because it is the play they are watching, not the players in the play. You don’t have to know the names of the actors to follow the play—it can even be a distraction if you do. Moreover, naming a particular villain inadvertently creates the impression that removing that actor will solve things. Instead, another actor who has all the lines down pat instantly steps into the vacant shoes and the play continues. No, you’re not going to see the villains named in Watchtower publications, nor even the heroes. It cannot be reliably told even who they are. One nation’s hero is another nation’s villain in this fragmented world. Witnesses leave political opinions behind upon becoming Witnesses. Those opinions are part of human efforts—sometimes well-meaning, sometimes not—that are hopelessly incapable of even ‘directing our next step,’ as Jeremiah 10:23 puts it.

They do have a cool music-montage video opening at the Bee, though. Just check it out at the start of the Musk interview. The ray-gun eyes of Trump zapping everything in his gaze is just too much! It really is. Let’s face it—Trump was a hoot and if he was not a savior that most evangelicals made him out to be, that does mean he was a dud. His greatest contribution to me was in unleashing the hostile crazed froth between factions that make it impossible to deny the 19 disagreeable adjectives of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (fierce, backbiting, not open to any agreement) characterize our time as no other.

However, nothing in the sphere of humans is perfect. Witness neutrality? Greater than what I’ve ever seen elsewhere, yes, but what about during the Olympics?

On the second day of the Olympics, I mentioned to Tom Pearlsnswine in the field ministry that Hillary had worn a bright pants suit. “Christians are no part of the world!” he rebuked me. On the third day of the Olympics, at the Kingdom Hall, I told him that Trump had tied his shoe. “We must fix our eyes on Jerusalem above!” he said.

On the fifth day of the Olympics, I dropped by his home while he was watching the games on TV. He screamed: “Look at that medal count, Tommy!” he shouted. “We’re cleaning up!”

….Now I see Babylon Bee takes posts from contributors. Does that mean I can slip one in? I don’t have a lot due to the points made above. But that doesn’t mean I have zilch. What about when they caught Trump saying some really nasty stuff and he didn’t think he was being recorded but he was, and then Melania dismissed it as ‘locker room talk?” Reporters out to get him didn’t buy that excuse for a second. I ran this post, “Reporting Live from the Locker Room.” It’s not current, of course. The BB would have to update it:

....

Good evening. We’re broadcasting live from the locker room tonight to reveal to America just what goes on in this previously obscure culture that has so suddenly thrust itself upon the national stage. We’ll interview some players in this intriguing venue. Ah, here’s comes a jock now. “Hey! Yo! Whazzup? We’d like to ask you some questions.”

“Why, good evening sirs, madam. You must be members of the news media. Welcome to our humble locker room. It’s not much, but we like to call it home.  Please make yourselves comfortable. There are refreshments in the adjacent room, just past the gentleman snapping his neighbor’s buns with a towel.

“Charlie, it’s as we thought. They’re not crude at all here. There is no excuse for candidate Trump’s crass words! People here are quite refined and sensitive to gender rights. They are just…”

“HEY, YA WANNA GET YOUR CRAP OUTTA HERE?! I CAN’T GET TO MY @%!# LOCKER!”

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‘What You Sow is What You Will Reap’—a Public Talk in 16 Tweets

The public talk in 16 tweets:

What you sow is what you will reap’ is the #publictalk title. All centered around Galatians 6:7.

“Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap.” (1)

good background summary. Galatians freed from the Law wanted to go back to it, “choosing certain defeat” since no one could live up to a perfect law. Embrace those freedoms of the Christ, Paul encourages, but then a cautionary note that ‘you will reap what you sow,’ (2)

“because the one sowing with a view to his flesh [playing into our imperfection] will reap corruption from his flesh, but the one sowing with a view to the spirit [imposing reasonable self-discipline] will reap everlasting life from the spirit.” Gal 6:8 (3)

That Gal 6:8 verse empowers us, says the speaker. Plant a seed and you know what you will get. (4)

Use, don’t abuse those freedoms, speaker says, then illustrates how teen with a new license has greater freedom but also greater responsibility. Will balanced Christians all make the same choices? No, he says. Balance allows some room for movement. (5)

An illustration: Golden Gate Bridge—the road can swing 21 feet in either direction, 40 feet of flexibility, flexibility keeps it there. So the Scriptures are flexible to cover the times spans, cultures it must span. Flexibility of scripture keeps it alive and useful to us. (6)

F0A2A9E4-866C-4843-B245-F62E33EF9BE0Now a reference to ‘unified—not uniform’ as some balanced Christians will lean more conservative, some more relaxed. It’s okay, and will characterize even bodies of people—what a drudgery is everyone is the same. (7)

Alas, people are given to extremes. You ‘don’t want to be with someone who is always digging up the rules’ as though he thinks “Jehovah forgot something.” Such harping not only not necessary, but is harmful, the speaker says. (8)

Other extreme: persons too loose, and now speaker reads cautionary list of Gal 5:19: “Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are sexual immorality, uncleanness, brazen conduct, idolatry, spiritism, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, (9)

dissensions, divisions, sects, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these.”
“Would you say that much of what the world offers today fit into this list?” speaker asks. “Yeah” (10)

Heard people say, “until you can show me this scripture that says….I don’t see anything wrong with it?” It is going back to Galatians—people who want a bunch of rules. (11)

Principles are fundamental statements of truth. “Bad association spoil useful habits”—not a rule, it is a principle. (12)

vs 19… “and things like these”….is this list all inclusive? No. “God dignifies us that we can apply principles to these new developments [that crop up in the modern age of “TV, Hollywood, video games” etc. Re vs 22 (reads list)….. “against such things there is no law.” (13)

‘A lot of this is a matter between us and Jehovah, the elders are not going to come and police us,’ says the speaker, “but we will reap what we sow.” (14)

Adds: ‘Like children in schoolyard, we are free to pursue own interests on earth. But 1) all have to get along, 2) must stay within boundaries. Upon observing the preceding two points, “have a blast” is how the speaker puts it. (15)

Everlasting life or corruption of Galatians 6:8. We make that choice for everlasting life every single day through the other choices we make. (16)

 

For those encouraged by this talk, they may be encouraged to know it was given by the bro who conducts the pioneer school. That means he trains those who will train others.

 

***visit the bookstore:

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)