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The Normalization of the F-Bomb

Sat through a crime drama recently in which all characters used the f-bomb. (Yes, I know it is not ‘wholesome.’) Good guys said it. Bad guys said it. High class said it. Low class said it. They said it when angry. They said it when not angry. Men said it. Women said it. Everyone said it—constantly. It used to be that people said ‘um’ as a word whisker. Do they have any idea how ridiculous they sound?

And no, I’m not worried about bad associations spoiling useful habits. “Pass the f-n salt, please,” I said at the family dinner.  (Not hardly. Not yet. Not never, assuming I don’t make a practice of watching such shows.)

Too bad, really, because it’s otherwise not a bad show, as cop shows go. I can even put up with ‘a little bit of poison,’ to use the expression. I’m not so sure I want to chug it by the vatful however. Sheesh!

And to think I took Pops to the movies 15 years ago and he objected to the cursing—cursing that wasn’t one tenth as bad but was still novel for him. (And no—he was not a religious man.)


The gallery: “I hope you don’t get taken out into the virtual back room.

I’m not all that worried. Obviously, bad words are things to avoid. They have a corrosive effect, and I do avoid them, save for when the jacked-up car slips off and lands on my foot. But there is the type of person who would never ever use a swear word and points to that abstinence as ‘Exhibit A’ in his claims to be a Christian. Would that it was so simple.

After all, if upbraided, I could always point to the elder who said, ‘S**t!’ after smacking into my car when it was in the turnaround spot he didn’t expect it to be while backing up. He apologized. “Don’t worry about it,” I told him, ‘that’s what bumpers are for.”

***More from the gallery: “I have a 6 year old grand daughter that uses it frequently in conversation. Unbelievable!”

“I have a little story from a number of years back. When my little buddy (my dog) and I were walking through the park by my place one fine summer day, we were walking behind two girls. They were late teens, early twenties. Between the F-bombs, and the word "like," for the life of me I had no idea what they were talking about. No clue how they knew either! Amazing in it's own way.”

“I remember a couple of (fleshly) brothers that I used to run into occasionally at lunch time that worked in another body shop across the street from the one I worked in at the time.  I wasn't a Witness then & I definitely wasn't a goody two-shoes, but those guys embarrassed me with the flood of 4 letter words that came out of there mouths.  I don't believe they could say 3 words w/o one of them being f---.  Now adays, a lot of TV shows and movies are almost as bad as those brothers were.  We will, quite often, quit a program after a few minutes into it because of that.”

“You have to switch off the TV. Personally I think it is used to fill up space in modern films instead of pithy dialogue. If you took away the f__ words used those 90 minute films would likely only last around 40 minutes.”

We’ve come a long way from the days where moviemakers were allowed one F-bomb to avoid a no-no rating. ‘Make it count, son’ moviemakers would say as they maneuvered so that F-bomb would be the crescendo of the film. Maybe it is still that way, but it doesn’t matter. A torrent of entertainment venues have arisen that don’t give a hoot about what the rating police want. 

B25E760E-8B89-4350-9DF2-A91144E6282BAnd to think that, as a boy, I was on the beach with my family, surrounded by other families with beach towels, umbrellas, and picnic baskets. A group of teens passed by. One of them uttered the S-word. My dad rose like a grizzly bear. “Hey! There’s decent families here! Watch your mouths!” They may have made fun of him, but not until they were very far away.

(photo by mana5280 on Upsplash)

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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!’

My Meeting Notes, Week of June 27, 2022 (with musings and meanderings)

WatchtowerStudy: How to Set and Reach Spiritual Goals, Theme scripture: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, so that your advancement may be plainly seen by all people.”​—1 TIM. 4:15.

Para 2 ‘Spiritual goals’ can be doing what one is already doing but “doing it in fuller measure.” (! Thess 4:10)

Para 4: Said Paul of Timothy: “For I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for your concerns. For all the others are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 2:20-21).  Even then a young man like Timothy was comparatively rare.

Para 4: “Ability without humility is a _______?” asks the bro who likes rhyming and who has uttered the phrase many times before. “A tragedy,” says another bro, to deliberately trip him up.

Para 12: You get the impression that Timothy was not a naturally assertive guy, a little shy, had to be told to speak up, don’t neglect the gift of prophesy given him, don’t let people look down on your youth, take a little wine for the sake of your [nervous?] stomach. Usuful to know that because a lot of young people are that way today, with reticence a common trait.

Para 14: I used to say that my ‘spiritual goal’ was to, come preparation for Sunday, reach out and instantly lay hands on the proper Watchtower, rather than every other issue that’s ever been printed.

No public talk today and the Watchtower is abbreviated:

Pursue Peace Convention, Part 1 of 6, streamable at (Psalm 29:11) Jehovah will bless his people with peace. And the first song of the language medley is sung in— Ukrainian

Bro Walls points out ‘lovers of self’ may head the list of 19 traits at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 because all other bad traits naturally follow from it.

“Keep in mind in none of these situations was Jacob in the wrong and needed to apologize,” said Mark Sanderson, reviewing several Genesis accounts in which Jacob pursued peace.


Midweekmeeting: June 27–July 32,  SAMUEL 15-17

“Absalom would say to him: “See, your claims are right and proper, but there is no one from the king to hear your case.” Absalom would say: “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then every man who has a legal case or judgment could come to me, and I would see that he receives justice.” (2 Samuel 15:3-4)

Sometimes I like to station myself by the elder I love to tease and behave similarly. ‘Oh, yeah, you raise a good point, but fat chance trying to get THAT fellow to give you the time of day.’

“And when a man came near to bow down to him, Abʹsa·lom would extend his hand and grab hold of him and kiss him.” Well—I don’t go THAT far.


“Then the king said to Itʹtai the Gitʹtite: “Why should you also go with us? Go back and dwell with the new king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your place.  Yesterday you came, so today should I make you wander with us, to go when I must go and where I must go? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may Jehovah show you loyal love and faithfulness!”  But Itʹtai answered the king: “As surely as Jehovah is living and as surely as my lord the king is living, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there your servant will be!”  (2 Samuel 15:19-22)

This is very much like the Ruth story, minus only the ‘Jehovah’ that gives it special meaning. It still is loyalty. I like it:


“But the king said to Zaʹdok: “Take the Ark of the true God back to the city. If I find favor in the eyes of Jehovah, he will also bring me back and let me see it and its dwelling place.”  2 Samuel 15: 25.  This is not the typical behavior of deposed kings. Most would just take that ark as though their ‘right,’ like an entitled guest stealing the hotel towels.

The Asian-born bro who appends an r to names that don’t end that way—and I spoke privately to him about it because I know he wants to improve—didn’t do it during his Bible reading.

A whole lot of spying and counterspying in this week’s Bible reading:

At this Hushai said to Absalom: “The advice that A·hithophel gave is not good in this instance!” … Then Abʹsa·lom and all the men of Israel said: “The advice of Huʹshai the Arʹchite is better than the advice of A·hithʹo·phel!” For Jehovah had determined to frustrate the sound advice of A·hithʹo·phel . . . “ (2 Samuel 17:7-14) and then Ahithophel (who prefigures Judas) runs off and hangs himself.

Yeah! That’s what I’m talkin about!


Do not say: “Why has it happened that the former days proved to be better than these?” for it is not due to wisdom that you have asked about the good old days of 2019

“I wouldn’t buy a used car from that guy,” I was just about to say after watching that video about Absalom kissing up to the commoners, then I thought about the sister’s husband who sells used (and new) cars.

Chuck was flabbergasted to learn no collections are ever taken at the Kingdom Hall. In all his life, he had never heard of such a thing.

Old Merrill used to speak of the fundamentalist church he once belonged to. Collections taken to the beat of music, plates on the no of long poles shaking to the music. Leave coins and the chinks would reverberate. He attributed it to ‘quiet money’ that they wanted. Well, so do we—things cost money—but we manage to get it out of generous hearts, nobody has any idea what another gives.

I think that cut-away of a Kingdom Hall meeting is trying to train us. People are sitting in the front rows, leaving the back open for latecomers. In real life, it is just the opposite.

Comments galore tonight in the program about initial impressions of Kingdom Hall meetings. “You can prepare for them,” is the one that stuck with me. Seldom does worship material lend itself to advance preparation.



No, the holy writings don’t make us wise for salivating. They make us wise for salvation. Stupid autocorrect.

Ought one not prefer the expression ‘golden rule’ to ‘human rights?’ The first preserves all that is noble of the second, while discarding all that is pretentious. After all, our own bodies do not respect our ‘human rights,’ crapping out on us after just a few decades.

Watching a mourning dove as it perches on a nearby fence. It’s an odd-shaped bird and reminds one a little of Wimpy who will “gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

My wife wants to catch those small white butterflies that do serious damage to the garden and buy them a bus ticket out of town. She has procured a butterfly net to that end. I half expect to look out the window and see her transformed as though a Twilight Zone episode into a little girl chasing the things.

Run across a patch of these babies unexpectedly and you can do serious damage to a schedule.


“This lowly one called, and Jehovah heard. He saved him from all his distresses.” Psalm 34:6

Again, this seems covered here:

“Best article on prayer I’ve ever read,” said the one who called my attention to it.


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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!’

Yikes! A Bad Review of TrueTom vs the Apostates! (Part 3)

This is part of a multi-part series. Here is Part 1,  Part 2,

8F1F30D5-598D-48E4-B67A-1C25AE5EBDE0  “A patient man am I, down to my  fingertips, the sort who never would, never could, let an insulting remark escape his lips.”

That being the case with me, not just Professor Higgins,* what a body blow it was to be accused of rudeness in that mean-spirited review! “I actually emailed him regarding the JW belief that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE, long story short he resorted to name calling and insults and then stopped replying.”

Gasp! Did I do that? Resort to name-calling and insults? Me—Tom Harley? It made me do some soul-searching. The entire e-mail exchange is reproduced here, in Part 2 of this series.

Not to worry, Tommy. My soul comes out reasonably intact, particularly given that this fellow’s very first emailed remark is an accusation. To be sure, as he ratchets up his accusing, I ratchet up my defense, but still the closest I come to insulting this jerk this person is when I refer in my final reply to his “blustering.” Oh, and I suppose the remark, “What is it with you? Do you live to argue?” also toward the end, is also in that vein. Nothing more heated than that though. It’s enough to put me on the cover of Patience Magazine, the magazine that has previously featured my car group, endlessly waiting in the driveway while I use my powers of persuasion on Bernard Strawman, who only recently said that he just might come to a meeting some day. He also said something about climate change in hell, but I didn’t understand what he meant by that.

Dave McClure, the circuit overseer, used to say how one could “pre-empty” objections by acknowledging them up front. You could say, “We’re calling on people who have their own religion and posing a question . . .” What can they say to that? he’d observe, “that they have their own religion?”

You could even do two, he’d say: “We’re calling on busy people, who have their own religion, and posing a question . . . “

Trust McClure to spin a witticism at the end. This is the same McClure who would, before his companion in field service, upon encountering something unexpected, frantically pass his forefinger from breastbone to belly and back again, making “the sign of the stake.” This is also the same McClure who was among the beset-upon children of West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnett, the Supreme Court decision that reversed the earlier Minersville School District vs Gobitis. (The “Flag Salute Cases”) He passed away several years ago in Florida. With a single exception, I don’t use the real names of persons still alive, excepting only Governing Body members, who are public figures. Come to think of it, that single exception has since passed away himself, so there are no exceptions.

“Of course, there’s a limit,” the grown-up McClure would admit, acknowledging that one couldn’t really say, “We’re calling on busy people, who have their own religion, and who aren’t interested, and posing a question . . . “

So what if you say we’re calling on people who have their own religion and the householder does point out and expound upon how he has his own religion? It’s a point you’ve already acknowledged! That’s why I said this nasty reviewer was ‘blustering’ after I acknowledged his view was the majority one and he proceeded to go on and on about how his view was the majority one! What else would you call it if not blustering?

That said, it has gradually dawned upon me over the years that if you write a persuasive passage for the critics and contaminate it with even one snarky remark, the snarky remark will become the sole focus of attention, to the exclusion of all else. So you ought not do it. This is not easy, because they by no means exercise such restraint. Still, one does well to recall that “sarcasm is the language of the devil,” the Thomas Carlyle saying. Your friends will all think your clever when you say something snarky. If that’s your sole object, you’re okay. But if your aim is to win over an opponent, you don’t look for wounds to rub salt into. I shouldn’t have said “blustering,” nor even uttered the plaintive, “Do you live to argue?

Would it have made a difference? Probably not. But maybe it would with the appeals court. That’s how it was when the European Court of Human Rights declared Russia’s ban on the Jehovoh’s Witnesses organization illegal. That Court noted: “it is significant that the texts [of Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Russian Supreme Court labeled ‘extemist’] did not insult, hold up to ridicule or slander non-Witnesses; nor did they use abusive terms in respect of them or of matters regarded as sacred by them.” (Italics mine) That restaint didn’t cut it with the accusing Russian Court. But it did with the court of appeal.

George Chryssides, he of the scholarly set (who wrote a review of Tom Irregardless and Me under the pen name Ivor E. Tower that I still use in promo material), was likewise commiserating over a nasty review he had received—the both of us were crying into our online beers. Who is nicer than he? Didn’t save him from the exJW critics, though:

Geo: “I also get a 1* review - an unverified purchase and no indication that s/he has read it. But it's good evidence against the critics' trustworthiness: they really hate it when academics say they can't be trusted!”

Tom: “Yes, I just read that 1*. I like to think, as with  mine, it doesn’t do too much damage because the content plainly reveals his gripe is with the faith, and the book only because it is supportive of the faith. At any rate, you have some excellent editorial reviews from acknowledged experts to offset the single malcontent. Essentially, he is telling his like-minded buddies that this is not one of ‘their’ books.” 

To be continued…here.

******  The bookstore

(photo: Kostuumrepetitie My fair Lady , Margriet de Groot en Sonneveld, Bestanddeelnr 911-6157.jpg)

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 June 20, 2022 (with musings and ramblings)

The public talk, ‘Who is Qualified to Rule Mankind’ was presented simply, an appeal to the heart, in the spirit of “a workman with nothing to be ashamed of”—and indeed, the speaker was a tradesperson. It focused on 5 areas—economy, disaster relief, health care, ecology, protection. Bible verses read to highlight Jesus’ competence on all 5. Contrast the ‘health’ he delivered with the ‘health care’ that human governments promise and haphazardly deliver to a limited degree.

Mark is tersest and says it best. They felt an “unusual fear.” I mean, what kind of a guy causes others to do this?      “Now a great violent windstorm broke out, and the waves kept dashing into the boat, so that the boat was close to being swamped.  But he was in the stern, sleeping upon a pillow. So they woke him up and said to him: “Teacher, do you not care that we are about to perish?”  With that he roused himself and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: “Hush! Be quiet!” And the wind abated, and a great calm set in.  So he said to them: “Why are YOU fainthearted? Do YOU not yet have any faith?” But they felt an unusual fear, and they would say to one another: “Who really is this, because even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:37-41)


WatchtowerStudy: Mothers​—Learn From the Example of Eunice. Theme scripture: “Do not forsake the instruction of your mother. [It is] an attractive wreath for your head and a fine ornament for your neck.”​—PROV. 1:8, 9.

“This study will be about someone who has been influential in all our lives,” the chairman says. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d think he meant the one he next introduces: the Watchotwer conductor

Para 1: Someone applies the ‘it takes a village’ quote to those observing Timothy’s baptism. Timothy’s father is not there. He would be recognizable in Greek clothing, says another.

The conductor refers to an unnamed sis who was baptized long ago in a local park pond. That algae-choked mess? It must have been long ago indeed. It was once a popular swimming area.

One sis on Zoom prefaces her comment, as she always does, with “Can you hear me?” “Sure can,” the conductor says, as he always does. 

Para 7: If Jehovah’s people today have a reputation for fanaticism, it was the same way in the first centruy. Lots of gods were worshipped, none of them had any problem in sharing worship with others. It extended to certain humans worships. All had their own turfs, none interfered with that of others. Only Christians worshiped a “jealous” God who wanted “exclusive devotion,” not tolerating even a “inch of incense offered up to the emperor.

Para 9: One elder relates how he was a product of a single parent family, without male input, so he always appreciated bros taking an interest in him and now tries to do the same.

Para 10 “do not criticize the elders.” Not easy to follow because they have faults. Who doesn’t?. Ah, well. No need to pour molasses on everything, it is just a matter of what is your focus,

Para 11: Whoa. One bro speaks of sisters who would come to meeting with bruises or black eyes, because “when husbands were opposed, they were opposed.” Not so sure it would play out that way today. This would have been 1950s and 60s. They would not trash their husbands before the children though.

Para 14: “What do you learn from the examples of Leanne, Maria, and João?” says the question. Learned we don’t need them. We have similar examples in this circuit that some related.

Like the one who never attended a single meeting growing up because dad forbid it. Mom continually studied with him though. Following dad’s instruction, he took a scholarship to an Ivy League school, afterwards a job on Wall Street. “What am I doing here?” he said after a year, and then, having fulfilled dad’s wishes, he quit the job, hunted up a certain bro in the territory to study with, & today serves at Bethel.

Sigh….the watchtower reader lays great stress on the phrases he agrees with that aren’t necessarily the main point of the paragraph.

Para 18: another mention of ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ That’s a popular saying.

Midweek Meeting Assigned Bible reading: 2 Samuel 13-14


ANOTHER instance in which an underling traps David with his own words! First Nathan, now this slick woman from Tekoa, hoodwiinking him to make up with Absalom. (2 Samuel 14:2).  It is as though his subjects continually fool him with knock knock jokes.

“When [Absalom] shaved his head—he had to shave it at the end of every year because it was so heavy for him—the hair of his head weighed 200 shekels.” 2 Sam 14:26

This is not the same problem for me as it once was. In fact, not a problem at all.

Musing and meandering:

5AD618BE-78BC-4F3C-B968-15E7B1EAA9FEHa! Dedicated to the person who responded to a certain overly interested party, ‘1 Thessalonians 4:11’ and that person said he didn’t know that verse, and was advised to look it up—after which the modest fellow said, ‘You’re a pretty good teacher.’  (not every lyric fits)

For the longest time my daughter wondered where her Tupperware was going. Turned out her husband was giving his lunches to panhandlers he encountered

The guy at the beer garden waved by my wife when she reached for her wallet to prove her age. ‘We’re from New York’ I said. ‘They’ll proof you if you’re the Mummy.’

With a single exception all Bible mentions of hell stem from one of three original Gr or Heb words. Find the meaning of those words and you’ve found the meaning of hell. Two of the (Sheol, hades) simply mean the ‘place of the dead.’ ….1/2

The other (Gehenna) was an incinerator dump outside Jerusalem walls where every type of rubbish was cast, sometimes even those deemed too wicked to merit a resurrection. None of the three to be literally feared…..2/2

An early Witness with much traction was known within his lifetime as the man who ‘turned the hose on hell and put out the fire.’…3/3


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!’