Now we know how many tears we can shed over Rolf, who has become the enemy of the good in his quest for the ‘perfect.’
So much for his “beloved religion”—wasn’t that in the title?
Lloyd goes down in flames and Rolf steps up to the plate. I’d better not read in a few years that he’s also chasing after the sex workers in Thailand.
They lay on counsel with a trowel at Bethel. Always have, probably always will. It is because they are, and usually have been all their lives, full-time servants totally immersed. Most have logged serious hours in the preaching work over many decades. They have gone eyeball to eyeball with those who oppose the good news (and endeavor to shield others from it), and consequently—are they ever given to overstatement?
Yeah, I get it—that picture of the Witness couple watching the Peace and Security announcement is a bit much. But you can bet the Russian brothers and sisters don’t see it that way. Not when they (and we) have seen headlines that Jehovah’s Witnesses are no longer allowed in that land. I recall a circuit assembly demonstration in the 70s of a couple picking up their newpaper and reading that Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned. It is reality in Russia today. Other nations have followed suit, and there are plenty of others in which serious efforts are made for that outcome.
Why don’t the “more reasonable” brothers take these “most zealous” brothers in tow? Because the zealous ones are the ones who have done the work. The “more reasonable” ones would not be up to it—they would be sunk by too many other diversions and responsibilities. Do not come even remotely close to the superfine apostles who wanted to outrank Paul in influence but not in work. Explore “what’s wrong” with this or that bit of spiritual food? Better to look for ways that it might work, rather than for ways that it might not.
I’ve mentioned before a past buddy named Mike. He was crazy weird and unbalanced. Orphaned at a young age, he was literally brought up in a traveling circus that became his family, where he learned that the purpose of people was to manipulate them as marks. He latched on to the truth like a guard dog latching on to your parka and did not let go, though he was so nutty that he seriously tested many a person’s patience and ultimately his own broken past did him in—though he did die faithful. I wrote in ‘No Fake News’ something to the effect that he was broken when we found him, and we didn’t fix him, but we fixed him about as much as might be possible in this system of things.
Anyhow, he had an amazing gift for simplifying the complex. I recall him explaining to someone how the Governing Body just studies and studies their Bibles all day long, and they notice something. They discuss with each other that something that they’ve noticed, and eventually it comes out as printed counsel.
Now the thing is, he would explain, you also study your Bible, and in the course of your study you may have noticed that point too, maybe even before they did. “And if this was Christendom, you’d run out and start your own religion over it.” Thus in the simplest possible way, he balanced personal initiative with recognition of headship.
He had come into the truth when, despondent because his life was totally in the crapper, he called in tears a friend who’s life was also in the crapper. That friend said he didn’t know what might help, but he was taking a Bible study from a Jehovah’s Witness and invited Mike to join. Mike listened for an hour, then pulled $100 from his wallet. “Here—this is what you want—take it!” The brother demurred and Mike pushed back, “Take it! Why else would anyone do what you are doing. We both know this is a scam!” The brother then misapplied the James verse about if anyone turns a sinner back from the error of his way will save him from death and will cover a multitude of sins. “I’ve committed a lot of sins in my life. I have a lot of sins I need covered.” Silence, as Keith (the friend) related to me. Then—uncontrolled sobbing as Mike broke down in tears (and Keith was mortified that once again his crazy friend, absolutely without self-control, was disrupting a simple discussion—but after that Mike made lightening-like progress.
Rolf didn’t get his way, so he brings wrath upon his “beloved religion” like the Misery heroine brought wrath upon her beloved author—it serves as a cautionary tale. One moment you’re expounding upon how you disagree with this or with that policy or interpretation and the next moment you’re breaking ankles with a sledge hammer.
I don’s seriously fear that I may follow Roff even though I’ve indulged in some minor muttering over the years. I am not proud. Seared into my being is what Jehovah has done for me. I am loyal by nature. I am a peacemaker. I am not critical
A better companion you never will find. If I was hours late for dinner would you bellow? Of course not!
His publisher sent me a copy of his book. I don’t think I ever contacted him, but I may have tagged him somewhere along the line. At any rate I have a Rolf category in my blog—mostly disjointed musings that I’ve not done much with. Maybe that came to his attention somehow. Or even when I applied the Bob Dylan lyric to him: “But oh mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend now? You're gonna have to find yourself. Another best friend, somehow,” along with “who’s gonna be his best friend now, Patiently Sitting on his Hands?”
He gifted me his book, so I gifted him mine, TrueTom vs the Apostates, with the note:
“My works are not so rigorous as yours—I intentionally keep a light tone and I do not pretend to be a scholar—but hopefully succeed in looking at things from atypical points of view. To take one topic that you develop, I have included a chapter on disfellowshipping. I have no problem conceding that anything done could be done differently, nor that ‘kicking against the goads’ might be painful. This particular chapter, ‘In Defense of Shunning’ makes some inferences from Mark Smith’s book, Secular Faith. The WT has quoted from that book, which led me to examine it all. You have generously offered your work. I do the same.
“On things that might cause stumbling regarding organizational directing, well, not all is as I personally would like it. I take the Rolling Stones song as though my own, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’ I’ve also observed that the point of contention is always going to be the divine/human interface, and have been so bold to speculate that this is even true with Judas (not making comparisons with yourself) himself: he and God were tight. No problems there. But this character claiming to be the messiah was not at all what Judas had expected.
“As to direction perceived as unwise, that could be applied to the Lord himself. ‘To whom shall we go?’ Peter said in response to the latter’s blood and flesh remark. Why did Jesus say it as he did? No clue here. ‘What a dumb thing to say!’ I can easily picture the point being made, since enemies would seize upon it later to spread the ill rumor that Christians practiced cannibalism.
“I have heard your book caused ousting from the congregation and so feel obliged to mention that I do not blow off counsel on interacting with DFed ones as nothing. I don’t consider myself ‘above it.’ But nothing is absolute, and most things need not be taken to the nth degree. (‘I could feel the wind’ said someone of how, when they were DFed, she said such to a certain JW who immediately turned away.) Indeed, the online world presents scenarios where you might easily be dealing with DFed ones unknowingly, (‘Every man online is a liar’ is my modification of Romans 3:4) so I appreciate when people are upfront and try to be the same.”
I’m just amazed at how fast a critical person can fall. I would not have thought it of Rolf, the intellectual counterpart of fleshy Lloyd, who goes in for the sex trade of Thailand—illustrating, I guess, that each one will fall in this own particular way.
Shocking to those of the Western world, the Bible does not celebrate free speech. Sometimes it celebrates shutting people up, as in “It is necessary to shut their mouths, because these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they should not for the sake of dishonest gain.” If I have advanced the notion that the brothers may overreact on negative talk, I also recognize the verse of contrary talk that spreads like gangrene,as well as the tongue being the most potent weapon of all, capable of setting ablaze the entire forest. So I always check that it is a rainy day before I say anything and even then I keep my forcefulness in check. (Titus 1:11, 2 Timothy 2:17, James 3:5)
Someone online mentioned that he might be in hot water if the brothers back home knew the freeness of speech he engages in here. It is a problem i don’t have. Unlike everyone else here, my writing is well known to the brothers back home and to Bethel itself. Not that I imagine anyone follows me closely, probably not at all, but I have made no secret of how I blog and word gets around—even though it is something I never mention at the Hall. Knowing that anyone could follow me at any time imposes a discipline onthat has served me well. It has impressed upon me an art of showing myself supportive and respectful. “There is a downside of this” comes across as supportive. “I don’t agree with this” does not.
My practice of tweeting the meeting drew the attention of some (and has also blown over). One of the elders began to follow me on Twitter. Now, this is not a ‘monitoring elder’ I don’t think—this is one much like myself in many ways. It benefited me for him to do this, for in the assurance of anonymity I had tweeted a few tweets that if the person I spoke of knew it, there might be hurt feelings. Now I have improved to where, though I will do foibles, they will not be such that would cause hurt feelings even if the brother or sister did hear of them.
With the exception, of course, of the brother who follows me. On occasion I will tweet something like, “Another comment from that elder who is the worst speaker in the entire circuit, possibly the entire world. He follows me here on Twitter so I try to make it worth his while.”