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Little Enemies of God

Vic Vomodog, with whom I used to pull shoulder to shoulder in the work! —just like a couple of oxen, was busy as an ox throughout the Pursue Peace Regional Convention, taking detailed notes! Afterwards, he threw at me:

“I know you wouldn’t dare comment on what GB Stephen Lett said during your convention,” before quoting Lett’s, “You hear people say of a little baby, ‘look at that little angel’, but more accurate would be to say, ‘look at that little enemy of God’”

You don’t think so, do you?

“Then Truetom, also called TTH, becoming fed up, looked at him intently  and said: “O man full of every sort of fraud and every sort of villainy, you son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah?  (Acts 13:9-10)

What Lett said was: 

“Now, if we think about it, we're not born as friends of God because we're born as sinful offspring of Adam. Actually, when we think about it, we're born as enemies of God. Sometimes you'll hear people say of a little baby, ‘Look at that little angel,’ but more accurate would be to say, ‘Look at that little enemy of God.’ Now, of course we love that little baby and it's now not hopeless because our loving creator has made reconciliation with him within the reach of everyone. We can become a good friend of God and that close relationship with Jehovah will become our most valuable possession.”

Notice how he twice said, ‘when we think about it?’ You have to do that—think about things. You don’t just parrot sound bites to make people you don’t like look bad. O, you spiteful fellow, who quotes scripture by the bushel basket but never lays hold on the one that applies, besides the reference to Adam in Genesis, the place to focus is here:

“…through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.” Romans 5:12

when we were enemies we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” by exercising faith in him, which a baby cannot yet do, and thus is temporarily ‘grandfathered’ via the faith of it’s parents. (vs 10)

Now, as for Bro Lett, for a guy who will quote Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test out words As the tongue tastes food?” you’d almost think he’d test them out a little more before letting loose with a phrase that every evil cherry picker will use to “distort the right ways of Jehovah.”

But I hate to think what Vomodog would have done to Jesus, for his, ‘Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.’ John 6:54-55

Vomodog taunted, “Please tell me if he is truly adhering to and following Christ as a model.”

Taking into consideration that passage in John, I would say Lett is supremely adhering to and following Christ as a model, in fact, more so than any of the other HQ staff.

Imagine: what sort of vile person would comb through a convention in which every talk explores the theme verse (Psalm 34:14) ‘Seek peace and pursue it’ to find and exploit a faux pas?

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Gif: Crying baby gifs/ tenor

It may be just an example of God ‘laughing at the wisdom of this systems’s wise ones,’ proof that his anointed are, as in the first century, seldom of ‘noble birth,’ nor ‘wise,’ but decidedly ‘uneducated and ordinary.’

I’ll take substance over style any day. Turn on the TV and you can see endless people whose ‘style’ is impeccable. Among them are some of the stupidest people whom God ever let roam the earth.

 

******  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!’

My Meeting Notes: Week of July 18, 2022, with Musing

Another one of those Watchtower Studies that go by at lightning speed due to the streaming convention (part 3 of 6) to follow. By the time you’ve loaded up your comment, it’s moved three paragraphs on.

 

WatchtowerStudy article: ‘Revelation​—What It Means for Your Future’ Theme scripture: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.”​—REV. 22:20.

Para 8 Always tempting to think that when things get really bad (as now?) that people see the need for the kingdom. Those final verses of Rev 6 show it doesn’t work that way. They take refuge in politics & commercial interests:

“And the kings of the earth and the top-ranking ones and the military commanders and the rich and the strong ones and every slave and [every] free person hid themselves in the caves and in the rock-masses of the mountains. And they keep saying to the mountains and to the rock-masses: “Fall over us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

Para 9 Not advisable to “worship the image of the wild beast” even if [when?] “nobody can buy or sell except a person having [its] mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.” Rev 13: 15-17

 

Pursue Peace Regional Convention: SaturdayMorning

The phrase ‘fight fire with fire’ originates with firefighters? I didn’t know that.  Just a throwaway snippet en route to making another point.

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(Photo: Ylvers at Pixabay)

Don’t start big, smart small, is the advice on informal witnessing. ‘Give me a drink,’ Jesus says. He doesn’t lead off with ‘I am the messiah,’ tho he eventually does go there.

‘I almost thinks that’s biblical,’ can be appended to so many conversations.

‘Do you text?’ Seems a good way of avoiding endless runarounds.

 

Midweekmeeting assigned reading: 2 Samuel 22

Now—THERE’S an image: “The waves of death broke all around me; Flash floods of worthless men terrified me.” (2 Samuel 22:5). https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/2022/07/flash-floods-of-worthless-men.html

Flash floods of worthless men.

‘You give me your shield of salvation, And your humility makes me great,’ a very popular verse. 2 Samuel 22:36

“For I have kept the ways of Jehovah, And I have not wickedly abandoned my God.” 22:26

“You will rescue me from the faultfinding of my people. You will safeguard me to be the head of nations; A people whom I have not known will serve me.” What a thing to be rescued from.   22:44

 

******  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!’

The Forest in Symbolism and History

Could this really happen?

“Absalom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a large tree, and his head got entangled in the big tree, so that he was suspended in midair while the mule he had been riding kept going.” (2 Samuel 18:9)

That’s one bad boy of a tree is all I can say!

Maybe the problem was the mule. 9966A8AB-262E-4143-B56A-46A12C52ABD9 “A mule will labor ten years, willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once,” wrote William Faulkner. Absalom’s mule may not have kicked him, but it sure did do him dirty, hanging him up so hit man Joab could off him.

Maybe it was was the forest. You ‘can’t see the forest for the trees,’ but in this case Absalom can’t see the tree for the forest. 20,000 combatants died and “the forest devoured more of the people than the sword did on that day,” says the verse just prior (8). Maybe it was one of those ‘Lord of the Rings’ forests.

‘Lord of the Rings’ forests are built on a solid tradition of forests being treacherous, even places where the Devil hangs out! 116BEC57-458D-4F1F-B90F-A5EF81889517Mistress Higgins is forever trying to lure folks into the forest for unsavory shenanigans with ‘the Black Man.’ (The author of the Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne, modeled her after a real person, Ann Higgins, who was executed for witchcraft in 1656.) That forest was one foreboding place, where “the boughs were tossing heavily above their heads; while one solemn old tree groaned dolefully to another, as if telling the sad story of the pair that sat beneath, or constrained to forebode evil to come.”

But at the same time, push deeply enough into the forest and break freeeeee! or at least settle for that illusion.

Backward to the settlement, thou sayest!” Hester remonstrates with Dimmesdale. “Yes; but onward, too! Deeper it goes, and deeper, into the wilderness, less plainly to be seen at every step; until, some few miles hence, the yellow leaves will show no vestige of the white mans tread. There thou art free! So brief a journey would bring thee from a world where thou hast been most wretched, to one where thou mayest still be happy! Is there not shade enough in all this boundless forest …

Guelzo (without quoting Hawthorne—that’s mine) points to early writers of American history with this Janus-view of the forest. (Janus—the ‘two-faced’ god facing both left and right) Fearful, on the one hand, but promising on the other. Though the ‘promising’ is for an ‘unpromising’ reason. Press into the forest deep enough and you can escape your own screw-ups from the past! The early American view of history according to Guelzo? “Don’t have any, don’t need any, don’t want any.”.  In new America, the “human experiment” can begin anew!

(“Gimme that fruit!” Adam said. “Let the ‘human experiment’ begin!” ‘No, no, no,’ God tacitly says. ‘You’ll screw it all up! Trust me on this, you do not want to usurp the duty of telling good from bad!’ ‘Nah,’ comes the reply—what can go wrong?)

It’s not winners who came to America. It was losers, those driven out for religious reasons, crushed by financial reasons, or refugees from ‘man dominating man to his injury’ reasons. The first settlers “were radical Puritans who were looking for a way out from under the thumb screws of the Church of England. It was only after every other avenue of escape [was] closed off to them that . . . they turned to those vast . . . countries of America” (Guelzo) And “looking over the bow of the Mayflower what could they see [but a] hideous and desolate wilderness full of wild beasts and wild men. Why, said [William] Bradford, even the air, diet, and drinking of water in America would infect their bodies with sore sicknesses and grievous diseases.”

That forest was a dangerous place, make no mistake. It remained ever dangerous in waves of westward expansion, though fear was mixed with growing confidence as humans invented, and then led, with bulldozers Upon reaching the coast and finally conquering the forest, what remains?

“Space—the final frontier,” intones James T. Kirk, introducing a show that would have been dead on arrival were it not for Lucille Ball. The forests are all conquered, some trees rounded up for a ‘tree museum’ for which you must pay a dollar and a half just to see ‘em! (Joni Mitchell) Space is the new frontier. Boldly going where no man has gone before! What is discovered out there? Guys that look just like us, save for pointed ears. Is that evolution great stuff or what!? Pour me a double-shot of it!

What do aliens gain from their new contact with humans? “One damn minute,” Spock pleasantly responds to one of Captain Kirk’s commands. He’s learned to swear! He had just spent the entire 45 previous episodal minutes on 20th-century earth; he had time-traveled there for some reason and Kirk had told him to use profanity. Keep tuque pulled over ears, swear, and they’ve never know you’re not one of them, he tells the Vulcan.

What a stupid, brain-dead, ignorant stab at science fiction prophesy! How unrealistic! However, had he said, ‘One f**ken minute,’ the forecast would have been spot-on. That’s the course ‘evolution’ has taken.

They didn’t learn that in no forest. No way. They were in all their civilized glory when they adopted that new norm.

To be continued:

******  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!’

Flash Floods of Worthless Men

Now—THERE’S an image:

“The waves of death broke all around me; Flash floods of worthless men terrified me.” (2 Samuel 22:5)

Flash floods of worthless men.

Not all translations so personalize it but enough do to make it clear that the former are being overly prissy, the latter adding a necessary specification that the former avoid.

A deadly flood was carrying me away,” says English Revised Version. Oh yeah? A deadly flood of WHAT?

the floods of ungodly men made me afraid,” says King James Version

Thank you.

while torrents of abuse from the ungodly overwhelmed me” International Standard Version

Yes.

devil waters rushed over me. Hell’s ropes cinched me tight; death traps barred every exit.” Message 

Oh for crying out loud. Deviate too much into paraphrase and you bring on charges of ‘What have THEY been smoking?’ 

the floods of scoundrels overwhelm me” Orthodox Jewish Version

Yeah! That’s what I’M talking about!

 

This conjures up for me images of Jezebel searching for ‘good for nothing’ men in order to kill Naboth and steal his land, (1 Kings 21:9) as though by posting an announcement on the community bulletin board: ‘Wanted: Good for Nothing Men,’ to which various scoundrels thoughtfully respond, saying, ‘Um—that would be me.’

 

******  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!’

My Meeting Notes (&Musing): Week of July 11, 2022

Publictalk: Rescue from World Distress,

WatchtowerStudy article: Revelation: What it Means for God’s Enemies

Para 2, not a verse usually selected to highlight neutrality: ‘If anyone is meant for captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. This is where it calls for endurance and faith on the part of the holy ones.’ Rev 13:10

Para 4: “The key to understanding it is to allow the Bible to explain itself.”

Para 9 ‘and it had two horns like a lamb, but it began speaking like a dragon’ One might think of ‘lamb’ & how its founders are from tradition of christianity, another lamb, some devout, others not so much, as though ‘a Christian nation’ but in a hurry it is seen not to act that way

Para 10: This one looks almost the same as the seven-headed wild beast with the exception that it is scarlet-colored, why the scarlet cover?

Para 11 It’s not so much brainwashing that powers complain of but brainwashing that is not theirs.

Para 13, Recalled how Bro Jackson told of the challenge of neutrality when one party benefits you personally. Sigh—but they all do things underhanded & ungodly. If you link up with them, so do you, ‘sharing in their sins.’

Para 14: The apostle John mentions that he “was greatly amazed” by something else he saw. What was it? A woman riding one of these ferocious beasts. You’d do a double-take at that, one sis says, because it ‘doesn’t look right.’

 

Midweekmeeting, Assigned reading: 2 Samuel 20-21

Huh! The speaker said he unexpectedly met Nancy Yuen and was tongue-tied as though with a celebrity! He had been determined to spiff up his Chinese by greeting any Chinese person he saw. She was surrounded by “an entourage” at Bethel, “but I’m oblivious to those things.” The woman once imprisoned years in China was humble, gracious, and almost crushed his hand with her firm handshake.

‘Looking forward to hearing encouraging thoughts about the lovely details of 2 Samuel 20:10,12’ someone texts me. Tough sledding, some of these verses are.

Is that ofJoab the hitman? Or is that Rizpah chasing away the “birds of discouragement” that are in reality the vultures picking clean the bones of her sons?

Being assigned the Gems for his bible reading is worse than being the COBE of Michael Jackson’s old congregation. There he is acting outrageously and everyone’s looking to you to do something about it.

B37B508B-7154-47B9-804D-43416C22D278Obstacles regarding moving to areas of greater need reminded me of a chum receiving a letter on how to combat bugs, lizards, and snakes in the new land. All could be dealt with—but the letter went on for many paragraphs!

(Photo: Jan van Kessell)

You can change it.

the gist of that 5-minute midweekmeeting part

You think it’s easy writing presentations for the whole wide world?

If you think it’s a clunker that would never work where you are, you can change it

Just adhere to theme and and you’re golden

I wish I knew how to stop the app from switching to the Reference version all by itself when what I want (and everyone else is on) is the Study version. Doubtless it is in the instructions, but who can be bothered with that stuff?

 

*** Yikes! My son went with me to a boomer concert but he commented on the ‘geriatric’ nature of the conversations: ‘How’s so-and-so?’ He died. What about … him, too. ‘Say, whatever became of…. pushing daisies. Sigh—I probably only have minutes left myself.

Came across a couple necking in the park! Reasonably secluded, but it WAS a park and it WAS in my pathway. “Oh uh,” I said as I approached. “Don’t worry about it,” I said as I walked by. “How do you think I met my wife?” It just seemed a good line at the time, if not strictly accurate.

Alas, my knowledge of (trending) #Hegel is sort of like the guy who knew everything about anthracite coal but nothing about bituminous coal because he had not yet reached the ‘b’s of his serial store-bought encyclopedias.

 

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!’

How Great Historians Record History: Part 1

Listen to Allen Guelzo lecturing and you soon think of those Bible couplets in which the second phrase (sigh—we call it the ‘B part’) modifies the first. At it’s zenith, it is “So and so advocated this policy, but (darkened tone and lowered pace) he did not mention how he personally stood to benefit.” The next statement will be just the opposite: a somber ‘A-Part’ succeeded by its offsetting chipper counterpoint. Listening to such is an acquired taste. One generally does acquire it, however, and rather quickly, upon realizing that the guy is a history nut, a fully realized version of Roy who would tell one and all that he was a historian. “How do you know that?” a householder would say and he would reply it was because he was a historian. Finally I told him to knock it off. He was a history buff, not an historian. An historian is when other people recognize your expertise, not just you.

They do recognize it of Allen Guelzo. He a real historian, lecturing at the university, with several books to his credit. He sets the stage when introducing new characters into his narrative, allowing them to make a splash. You get the impression he regards all historical personages as his children. He commends them when they do good, chides them when they do bad, but they always remain his children. He quotes at length Machiavelli (whom he chides) for a view he shares himself—a view that nothing surpasses the joy of hanging out with the notables of history.

“When evening comes,” Machiavelli writes, “I return to my home and I go into my study, and on the threshold I take off my everyday clothes which are covered with mud and mire, and I put on regal and curial robes, and dressed in a more appropriate manner, I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men and are welcomed by them kindly. There I am not ashamed to speak to them, to ask them the reasons for their actions. And they in their humanity answer me, and for hours I feel no boredom. I dismiss every affliction, I no longer fear poverty, nor do I tremble at the thought of death. I become completely part of them.

This sound so much like prayer that one cannot leave the similarities unmentioned. One reflects on a certain commentary on prayer (“Your Prayers Tell on You”—November 15, 1958 Watchtower) in the Jehovah’s Witnesses literature that, “by listening to the Holy Scriptures, the words of the prophets, the thoughts of the apostles and the wisdom of Jesus Christ all flow through the mind, refreshing it and building it up. In this way one can spend all night in prayer with God and hardly say a word. When you listen you learn. When we listen to the words of the Scriptures we show ourselves learners of God.”

It's one thing to stay in a state of prayerful meditation with God. It’s another to do so with lauded humans of the past. Does the sum total of their thoughts and deeds truly add up to anything? Or is it more akin to Richard Kimble taking cover as the train delivering him up for death derails, scattering cars willynilly, leaving Sam Gerard to come along later and exclaim, “My my my my my my my my—what a mess!?” If you think it’s the latter, why devote your life to recording history? Just say something pithy like Jeremiah and be done with it: “I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Or be like Solomon and briefly apply [your] “heart to every work that has been done under the sun, during the time that man has dominated man to his harm,” and then move on to something more productive.

So historians tend to be folks who do not think the sum total of human history is a trainwreck. 65A1FF3C-DCCC-475D-A3D4-7DB8A216F558It would be too depressing to suppose it is, and then they would quit. “With every mistake we must surely be learning” they say along with George Harrison, and they are apt to squelch the gently weeping guitar that nags we are not. Moreover, though history is seldom outright fraud (poet and cultural critic Matthew Arnold called it that “huge Mississippi of falsehood”) it is, at best, subjective. It is like the elephant touched by the blind man who explains for our benefit its nature. One perceives it as a trunk, another a tusk, another a massive torso, another a tail. There is no lying involved; they all use their best judgment, but that judgment is molded entirely by their own personal experience.

Does not the relatively modern discipline of ‘criticism’ weed out such subjectivity? If anything, it makes it worse, Guelzo suspects, by cloaking human foible beneath a veneer of ‘science.’ It would not have changed Napoleon’s verdict that history is but “a fable agree upon.”

Putting it in the present day, who hasn’t heard the platitude that ‘history is written by the victors?’ Putting it even more in the present day, one thinks of the recent Pew report that the political left and the political right not only disagree on how to address questions, but they even disagree on what the questions are. Do you think the histories they write are going to remotely resemble each other?

The writings of early Christians represent pretty good history, insofar as they go, Guelzo states. Even after centuries of considerable doctrinal ‘evolution’ (which Witnesses would call apostasy), even though they are written “so that ye may believe” rather than be informed, even though there are many places they don’t go (why chronicle the details of a world that is going down the tubes?) it still makes for good history, in some ways an improvement over the classical stuff. Having given up rather quickly on Jesus’ counsel to ‘be no part of the world,’ they seek to remodel it. Church dignitaries such as Eusebius rewrite about social and governmental doings of the day to present them as molded by their understanding of Christ, ejecting the Greek and Roman gods (who are often just rebranded Greek gods) from the driver’s seat.

“Constantine bid for the support of the Christians by turning Christian himself,” Guelzo says, and then the “rush was on to rewrite Roman history in order to establish a new continuity, this time of Christianity with the Roman past.” Why did Rome, revealed in scripture as the mighty kingdom with iron and clay feet, conquer, impose order, and lay down roads? So that Paul could travel them and spread the gospel everywhere, of course! I’ve seen our own people use similar reasoning in suggesting that JW HQ came to be in the United States after that land proved a haven for those fleeing the religious strait-jacket of Europe, though not stipulated as divine direction. Suggested, though.

In reinterpreting history, Eusebius builds his narrative “on a dazzling array of published sources and archival materials,” says Guelzo. One thinks of the actual Bible writer, Luke, who opens his account with the names and titles of seven separate political and religious officials of his time, along with their interplay: “In the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was district ruler of Galilee, Philip his brother was district ruler of the country of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was district ruler of Abilene, in the days of chief priest Annas and of Caiaphas, God’s declaration came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”

Eusebius’s “literal fealty to the text of the Bible spilled over into a literal fealty into almost every other kind of text, says Guelzo. He’s “utterly scrupulous in citing letters, quotations, and official documents.” The earlier classical historians, on the other hand, “tended to put speeches and words into the mouths of their characters,” and it was left for later more analytical types to note that real people “do not deliver orations while arrows and spears are flying,” as the heroes of antiquity frequently did.

True, Eusebius so extols the benefits of Constantine’s conversion to the cross as to tempt the cynical reader to append “and they all lived happily ever after.” Some of it reads almost like propaganda—but who are we trying to kid? Those prior historians did it just the same, simply choosing different characters whose virtues to highlight. “If we've realized anything from the classical historians,” Guelzo states, “it's that alongside rational inquiry is always the need to choose, and choosing implies interpretation. There is no bright line between interpretation and propaganda because both are acts of persuasion

To be continued….here

******  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!’

Making a ‘Great Name for Oneself’: Part 2

Part of a multi-part series.  Here is Part 1

Whoa! That certainly blew up in my face! George can rest easy. The friends love him

Not only was Aubree pounded into mush by everyone who chimed in, but one sis mistakenly took her sentiments as mine—I think she only read the preview—and chewed me out royal! She stuck up for George: “I happen to know that Brother Benson has taken time from his busy schedule to donate time doing specific songs that are original songs.” What’s more, she said as she slammed the door, ‘your books are rubbish!’

And here I am trying to be the JW successor to Mickey Spillane, the one who threw it back at his high-brow critics by vowing to never introduce a character who drank cognac or wore a mustache because he didn’t know how to spell those words! I mean, George doesn’t have this problem.

Quite a few people told her (and my new-found critic told me) to MYOB!. It was enough to recall to mind a certain young chum, continually accosted by someone who wanted to ‘encourage,’ who answered tersely, “1 Thessalonians 4:11.”

The bro intent on encouragement said he didn’t know that verse. ‘Look it up,’ was the reply.

The next day that brother, who was also a modest man, approached to say, “You’re a pretty good teacher.”

(“Make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business . . .” 1 Thess 4:11)

***

Said Aubree: “If he was in my congregation I would say nothing. His choices are his own. I would listen to him at a get-together for sure....But I said what I said because I come here to share an opinion which I may not express any where else.”

Understood. It’s my fault, really. She says what she says before just a few and I relay it to the whole wide world! I changed her name of course, but it’s like what my daughter once told me: “Dad, it’s getting so I can hardly say anything to you because I’ll next see it on social media! You think calling me “Amy” covers it? My friends know who it is!” Well, they shouldn’t be here. I mean, none of us are ‘recommended’ to be on social media.

Give Aubree her due because the points that motivate her are certainly valid. I just didn’t like it applied to a specific person, even if it was on the tiny private forum that I swapped for a public stage.

She pointed to how “there are many brothers and sisters who have left lucrative political careers, football careers, ballet careers, singing careers, acting careers and other careers for which they have natural talent and have all the necessary skills - for to put Jehovah first in their life. … I would rather show great encouragement to young artists to practice their craft at home for pleasure of their friends - and I tell them it is not the time now to go out in the great entertainment world to make a name for themselves - unless they lose focus and lose their life. … Football, singing and a few of these professions take their toll on the young ones.  ..... that is all I wanted to say.”

Can anyone say she doesn’t have a point? Of course, she does. She cites two persons she personally knows who chased after entertainment careers and were never seen nor heard from again.

I do mentor young singers in the truth, and I have seen some of them go into the world to never return....... career and ego. I always warn them when they are good!” Of another, “I have told her to be cautious.”

Trouble is, it’s not in the nature of young people to be cautious. ‘The beauty of young men is their power,’ the verse says, not their caution. Sometimes I think we do damage to young people by eternally telling them to be cautious in circumstances that their peers face without the bat of an eyelash. But nobody can say, ‘What has she been smoking?’ Everyone has seen play out what she speaks about. I admire her for having the courage to say out of pure motive something she knows will be unpopular. But I’m still with George.

It’s just that those of creative bent, who may not excel in more practical gifts, are always being urged to tone it down, stay low key, keep their talents under a basket—whereas if your talents lay in putting down carpet, you would be honored in the highest places. Understand, it’s not the honor that is sought—it is the ability to move about freely.

There are brothers who are craftsmen, FBBC160A-9784-43CE-9A62-0C0E5CC434ACwho truly excel at their field, and are highly sought after. One of them locally is snapped up by a Fortune 500 company that puts him on their private jet and flies him all over to their various facilities, treating him like royalty. Nobody ever dreams it is an improper tending to his career or that he is unhealthily inflating his ego. As to me, my quip for the longest time has been ‘if it pays, I’m not good at it. If I’m good at it, it doesn’t pay.’

(Photo: Fran1 at Pixabay)

For crying out loud, even my books sell like ovens in hell! Let some malcontent write a book and it goes off the charts because all his/her friends buy it! Let me write a book and it trickles beneath the chart because all my friends consider one ought not look into ‘the deep things of Satan!’

‘How come you never taught me practical things?’ I said to my aged dad, who was handy. ‘I did,’ the amiable fellow said, having long outgrown his former taciturn ways. ‘You just weren’t paying attention that day.’

I think he fell for the mantra then in vogue, ‘To get a good job, get a good education.’ You can always hire people to do that lesser stuff for you.

I have what I need. I don’t complain. I do let off steam from time to time, but that’s like the Eastern European man who went to the police to assure them that the political views of his parrot were not his.

To be continued….

******  The bookstore

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How Many Are the Cows?

Our chum watched the video of Olivia being mocked by classmates. It would never happen that way, she said.  Why not? we asked. Things aren’t that bad?

They wouldn’t ridicule her like that. They’d beat her up in the bathroom instead, she said.

I do remember being guest at the home of some friends where the daughter matter-of-factly spoke of how at the school she used to attend girls would attack each other with box-cutters. They liked to sneak up on unsuspecting ones, preferring to disfigure the face.

We had no idea.

Not to say this would happen everywhere.. I think it would not. We once lived where there was a gritty school system. Long ago, I wrote of how the departing school superintendent was interviewed by local media about his tenure. This fellow was hailed as a superstar when he arrived, one sure to raise the sinking ship. He left in short order for greener pastures.

He answered his interviewer with a bewildering set of buzzwords. Not to fear, I wrote. The skilled interpreter of ‘Educatese’ has no difficulty comprehending the underlying message: Don’t expect any changes in your lifetime.

It was prophetic. Here we are decades later and there have been no changes. Well—that’s not technically correct. Things have gotten worse.  The SEC recently launched an investigation into that District’s internal finances. How often does THAT happen? And the education of the kids? Sigh…Fuhgeddaboudit.

We didn’t want to leave the area at the time, even though we have since. We figured we’d homeschool the kids. No regrets, though it does put you out of sync with the agencies. Even before school, we went through all the Glenn Doman number cards with our babies, I am convinced to good effect—and even in the event it was not it was fun and took almost no time.

At one point, following a Doman cue, we asked our infant to pick up the placard that was 57, as opposed to 56 and 58, dots all mixed up with no underlying pattern—the number written on the back so you would know. Instantly he did. But Doman said you can’t do it twice; infants get bored and they will not do it for show. Sure enough, when we tried again, he would not.

Coincidence? Dunno. It was a one out of three chance, after all, so coincidence is certainly possible.  But he reached for it instantly, with no hesitation at all.

The point was, in building your baby’s ‘better’ brain (Yikes!—Building Back Better) A8BD1D53-6D86-4E70-B1E7-194A94FA9B1Ethat if you see 3 or 4 cows in the field you instantly read them for their true number, but at some point you must start counting, 1…2…3…4…5…. The idea with the flash cards for an infant’s rapidly expanding brain was that you could push way up that point at which you had to start counting; that it could take in 56 at a glance. Doman’s flash cards went up to 100. 

Davey-the-Kid went after that system with an almost missionary zeal that embarrassed him later. He was there, all right, at that pricey weeklong seminar in Philly (where I wan’t). ‘How’s field service?’ Ernie asked him over the phone but he replied he hadn’t gone out in service. “How’s the meetings?” Ernie asked but he replied he hadn’t been to any. “Did you pray?” Ernie said in mock exasperation.

We’re talking about the guy who installed a 3 foot swimming pool in his heated basement so he could teach his baby to swim, another thing that was all the rage. Davey passed away some years ago, but his son is still with us. Come to think of it, if you asked me whether or not the kid can swim, I’d draw a blank.

 

******  The bookstore

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My Meeting Notes & stray thoughts: Week of July 4, 2022

No public talk today. Abbreviated WT, Everything at home over Zoom due to Part 2 of 6 of the Regional Convention streamed from jw.org  Midweek reading: 2 Samuel 17-19

WatchtowerStudy: ‘Revelation​—What It Means for You Today’ theme scripture: “Happy is the one who reads aloud . . . the words of this prophecy.”​—REV. 1:3.

Para 2: “In other words, we find ourselves ‘in the photo.’” It’s a novel take, isn’t it? Which one are you?

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Para 3: Better roll the Lord’s day understanding. Greater world is in chaos. Generation can alway become era or age if need by, like the Industrial Age or Age of the Enlightenment, even the Modern Era.

Para 8 “All those for whom I have affection, I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent.” (Rev 3:19) It’s a good verse to keep always to the fore.

Para 8: A certain chatterbox in the Zoom background exclaims ‘Daddy—that’s my daddy talking!’

Para 9: “Apostates may have “an appearance of godliness,” but … (2 Tim 3:5). Does this include the premier one of video fame who went down as with a millstone when armtwisted to admit his cavorting with the lithe and pretty young sex workers of Thailand?

One bro dutifully says apostate reports can mislead because they may contain ‘a tiny bit of truth.’ Sometimes they are exactly true, but explainable by the diff between those who think this life is all there is and those willing to put up with some inconvenience in the lifeboat. Other times the difference between though willing to sacrifice for a cause and those not. Or between those determined to cling to certain morals and those not.

Para 12: “Because you kept the word about my endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of test, which is to come upon the entire inhabited earth, to put to the test those dwelling on the earth.” (Rev 3:10)

Para 15: The eight reps of 1918, convicted under the Espionage and Sedition Act, then the charges dropped after wartime because they were nonsense, are lined up in order of (considerable) descending height. Looks odd, though it was the photographic norm of the day.

Para 17: “Time and again, Jehovah’s servants have won court cases that have allowed them a certain measure of freedom. How have they used this freedom? They have made full use of any opportunities to do the work Jehovah has given them.  Some modern cases:

https://bitterwinter.org/ghent-decision-overturned-jehovahs-witnesses/

https://bitterwinter.org/jehovahs-witnesses-and-sexual-abuse/

https://bitterwinter.org/russia-persecution-of-jehovahs-witnesses-unlawful/

Para 18: After all is said and done, this verse remains the call to action: “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14)

Para 19: I told the elder I love to tease that I might be fearful to deliver a hard-hitting message during the great trib but if I had some practice, I might be okay. So could I be the one to announce it whenever he was to give the talk?

Two fine remarks from the bro, the last during public prayer stating how not just the bad things but also the good are highlighted in Revelation, the other that apathy can become contagious when one rests on past laurels. Alas, his laptop froze up briefly, delaying the prayer.

 

**Pursue Peace Convention opens, first talk, with the bro who has lamented that he would like to retire, “but they wan’t let me.” (Streamable & featured at jw.org.)

Yikes! The video of “an abundance of grain on the earth; On the top of the mountains it will overflow. … “ (Ps 72:16) includes several succeeding overhead pics of delicious foods as though from an Instagram account.

Ha! Of course! The first act of the wolf who becomes a lamb is to shave! Long live Symbolism.

Whoa. Those five talks of Isaiah prophesied seemed to go by at lightening speed but were apparently the same length as ever:  “My Servants Will Eat . . . My Servants Will Drink” (Isaiah 65:13, 14)• “They Will Build Houses and . . . Plant Vineyards” (Isaiah 65:21-23)• “The Wolf and the Lamb Will Feed Together” (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25)• “No Resident Will Say: ‘I Am Sick’” (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6)• “He Will Swallow Up Death Forever” (Isaiah 25:7, 8)2

At one video, briefly I thought of Connie, long since deceased, who told everyone how to do everything, always with hat firmly secured as though a helmet to grant immunity.

Ha! Stepdad is trying so hard to conduct the family study—but he sucks at it! B-O-R-I-N-G! Mom does it better but she’s staying low-key. ‘Not sure if I’m getting through to them,’ he says. ‘Keep it up,’ she says. Trying to figure it out—and eventually they do.

“I really like Brother Noumair’s talks,” said my daughter’s friend—followed by a long long pause, and it finally dawned on everyone that was the sole remark. She burst out laughing. EVERYONE likes Bro N’s talks. She had just taken for granted that there would be a follow up comment.

This is not your fight, Jesus taught them in the Garden of Gathsemene. “If we truly believe the good news of the kingdom we will not do anything that hinders our ability to tell it.”

The video of the man leaving Malawe for South Africa, disrupting family stability, reminded me of ‘Cry the Beloved Country,’ one of those most moving novels I have ever read.

The orange book ‘True Peace and Security’ was originally brown.

#Midweekmeeting:

“Me·phibʹo·sheth, the grandson of Saul, also came down to meet the king. He had not cared for his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his garments from the day the king left until the day he returned in peace.”  2 Samuel 19:24.   How does one ‘not care for his feet?’

Furthermore, the forest devoured more of the people than the sword did on that day. 18:8. Like one of those ‘Lord of the Rings’ forests.

At once A·bishʹai the son of Ze·ruʹiah said: “Should not Shimʹe·i be put to death for this, because he cursed the anointed of Jehovah?”  2 Samuel 19:21   He said it at the time too:  “Then A·bishʹai the son of Ze·ruʹiah said to the king: “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and take off his head.”  16:9

I’m not so sure I’d drag an atheist into a discussion of Adam and Eve, That said, no end of people look for the reason behind suffering, and if they find something they can sink their teeth into, for some of them that atheism goes out the window. (Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth)

“Abʹsa·lom eventually found himself facing the servants of David. Abʹsa·lom was riding on a mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a large tree, and his head got entangled in the big tree, so that he was suspended in midair while the mule he had been riding kept going.” Reminds me of that quote from the Erie Canal museum, “A mule will labor ten years, willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once,”

“Some Bible publishers have failed to give credit where credit is due. For example, one Bible translation lists the names of over 70 people who in some way contributed to its production. Yet, this same Bible omits the name of the Author —Jehovah God —altogether!” That IS odd.

Pray and barely say a word? A thought that had never occurred to me, from https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1958841   “by listening to the Holy Scriptures the words of the prophets, the thoughts of the apostles and the wisdom of Jesus Christ all flow through the mind, refreshing it and …1/2

building it up. In this way one can spend all night in prayer with God and hardly say a word.”   Best article on prayer I’ve ever read, said the one who called my attention to it……2/2

Seems to fit here with this study part on getting the most from Bible reading.

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!’

Making a ‘Great Name’ for Oneself: Part 1

As shown in link, George Benson, long known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is still going strong at 79..

This news did not sit well with all.

You would think at this age he would put Jehovah first. Instead his career still going....still working hard on his career,” said Aubree.  “Older people like this could set the right example.”

Tom: At Prince’s funeral, one of the congregation’s pioneers told reporters, (I included the quote in the Prince chapter of Tom Irregardless & Me) “I was just standing there and all of a sudden, in he walks. I thought, ‘He just wants to be treated like an average person,’ so I just kind of acknowledged him, and he came in and sat down.” She added: “I think he wanted to be private and my observation is: he had to have his creative outlet. Maybe he just needed it to survive.” 

He wanted to be treated like an average person. But people do what they need to survive. I’m not sure that he’s not ‘putting Jehovah first.’ We can expend too much energy pounding square pegs into round holes.

Aubree didn’t give up:

When one is famous and has a lot of income coming in from royalties.... one can cut your life-style and put Jehovah first….There are many brothers and sisters who have left lucrative political careers, football careers, ballet careers, singing careers, acting careers and other careers for which they have natural talent and have all the necessary skills - to put Jehovah first in their life.”

Tom: I would not assume that he is not. Time was when coming across someone like him we would say that he has his own special territory, one that others will find hard to reach. As to income, who is to say he does not put it to very good use? The angels may sing out, “Another nickel from Harley!” at the end of the month, but it is perhaps guys like Benson who provide much of the practical fuel.

I do not share the same sentiment.…I have a nasty suspicion it is the ego that remains involved.... the need of achieving something and still be admired by the people!

On the other hand, “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men.” Do these ones all grovel around in sackcloth? These days ordinary publishers are given counsel not to let spiritual gifts go to their head. Why conclude just from his work that he has an inflated ego? If he does, he has plenty of company in others who have yet to separate their own egos from bringing their gifts to the altar.

In the mid-seventies, rumors swirled that Glen Campbell had become a Witness. The rumors were untrue. He hadn’t. However, one of his band members had and proceeded to talk Bible so much that an exasperated Glen forbade all discussion of religion during working hours. Who is to say that George is not doing the same before people who cannot tell him to shut up? He’s to quit this gig in order to write letters? Given the restricted forms of ministry available today, it’s even more understandable he would choose to continue what he does.

Aubree still doesn’t back down. She seldom does. It’s the prerogative of we old people who have seen a lot and think we have something to say, who see young people chomping down on cotton candy, imagining it substantial, and would warn them that it’s not. And it certainly is true that those who ‘reach for the stars’ come to spiritual ruin far more often than not. So I will tell her a story that spins things her way.

The story was told at LeRoy’s funeral that he, as a young black man in the Deep South, was invited to play along as one of B.B. King’s band members. His son confirmed it. He declined the offer, on the basis of family and spirituality. Instead, he went on to make his living on the railroad. He came up from the South in his later years to my neck of the woods. For a time we served together on the same body of elders. He was outspoken, even occasionally outrageous in things he would say, but always genuine and universally appreciated. In time, he stepped down as an elder. I even helped persuade him that it would be a good thing, that he had done it all, and should go out ‘on top,’ not when his faculties were starting to decline and people would start to say bad things about him. He was true to the faith till his death and would frequently get together and jam with brothers young enough to be his grandsons. 

I used to tell him that, should I die before him, I wanted him to give my funeral talk. What a trip that would be! “Hee hee hee,” I could picture him rumbling in his deep roguish and jocular voice, “that Tom Harley was a good ol boy, but he’s deead now, D-E-A-D!”

I don’t know. Maybe George is being a bad boy. There he is posted with a ‘Look! A celebrity! And he’s one of ours!’ type of admiration. Is it really so that having celebrities onboard somehow buttresses your cause? Some of the silliest people on earth are celebrities—all of them, really, except our guys, and we only have a handful. Serena doesn’t even count, because it doesn’t appear she was ever baptized and she has gone on record saying (now that she has a daughter) she means to get serious about the faith she was raised in. We shall see what comes to pass. I have a chapter in TrueTom vs the Apostates on the brouhaha surrounding that statement of hers..

No, I suppose George is not the one to emulate. But don’t we do damage when we become too insistent that everyone must be ‘an example?’ Leave the fellow in peace and appreciate him for what gifts he has. Here we put the constantly repeated, ‘Do not compare yourself with one another’ counsel in a setting that we usually don’t put it in, though it applies nonetheless. Alas it is human nature that we will do exactly that.

Growing up, I took one of those psychological tests in which you answer all sorts of nosy questions and are rewarded with indications of what vocation you are best suited for. Being raised in a suburban and non-Witness home, I imagined results would point me to some nice secure field, the sort in keeping with the saying then in vogue, “To get a good job, get a good education.” My dad, raised on the farm, used the GI bill to put himself through engineering school after WWII and took a job with the local utility. He figured that since everyone requires heat and electricity, no job could be more secure. People raised during the Depression came to highly value security. 

Instead of similar recommendations, results were that I should be A) a music performer, or (slightly lower priority, but still head and shoulders above anything else) B) a youth counselor. I’ve never done either of those things, but I have come close enough to satisfy both urges. Public speaking (and now blogging) is not so different than music performing. Shepherding (and now writing) is not so different than youth counseling. 

So I have a thing for creative people. And I don’t like  to see them dismissed as ones ‘trying to make a name for themselves.’ or persons incessantly in quest of satisfying their ‘big egos.’ That doesn’t have to be the case, though it can be.

***

Workers could be crude at the power company, though my dad was not one of them. “I just wasn’t prepared,” said one brother who started working there as a young man, “for one of those guys to grab me from behind and another pull my pants down,” a common hazing of new employees. He came to know my dad, as he was sometimes assigned to the nuclear plant where my dad had been promoted. Nuclear technology was then brand new. This plant was among the first in the country. Tour guides would lead visitors through the plant. By prior agreement, an employee would walk by staggering and drooling, muttering nonsense. “Don’t mind him,” the guide would say. “He’s one of the earliest here and absorbed a little too much radiation.” 

Another story this new employee told, our brother who is now retired, was of visiting laborers being advised that invisible radiation hangs around at the 3 foot level, but if you stay below that, you’re okay. They would walk about and work all day, even carrying heavy gear, in a crouched over position. 

Here were jokesters satisfying their ‘big egos,’ though perhaps not making ‘a great name for themselves.’ Or maybe they were. Our brother remembers these donkeys decades later as though it were yesterday.

To be continued here

******  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!’