Previous month:
July 2022
Next month:
September 2022

A Review of ‘Judging Jehovahs’ Witnesses’ (Shawn Francis Peters)—Part 1

“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion . . . ”

With that, an eight to one U. S. Supreme Court decision made just three years earlier was overturned. Eight to one is a lot. A squeaker of a decision—maybe that could conceivably be overturned. But eight to one?

Of course—you know how our people are—we right away gave credit to God, since the case involved us. “We knew the Lord would arrange it. The victory is his,” said Gobitis. They did exactly the same when the European Court of Human rights ruled the 2017 ban on the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was illegal. But Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, who worked hard to engineer the turnaround, said that all’s well that ends well, “but I should like to have seen the case end well in the first place . . .”

Gobitis is Walter Gobitis, a store owner and Jehovah’s Witness whose children were expelled from school for refusal to salute the flag. Standing respectfully while others salute was not enough for school district officials. Their expulsion was stayed on appeal, stayed once again on higher appeal, but then upheld when school district officials lodged a final appeal with the Supreme Court. We are not the “school board of the country,” the Court said. Let them do what they want. The decision is known as Minersville School District vs Gobitas. (1940–yes, they misspelled his name)

Clearly understood by everyone involved was that the stand of Jehovah’s Witnesses was religious and had nothing to do with patriotism or lack thereof. Gobitis said of his children after the 1943 turnaround (West Virginia vs Barnette): “America is their country. But God must come first.”

If that point was clearly understood by everyone involved, it was not understood by the general public not involved. “They’re traitors—the Supreme Court says so,” was a typical sentiment expressed by a sheriff in the Deep South. (pg 84)

Witnesses saw (and see) flag salute as a violation of the second of the Ten Commandments: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion . . . (Exodus 20:4-5)

Anything in the heavens, on earth, or in the sea covers a lot of ground. Bowing down is not so different than saluting such an anything. The Witnesses even garnered some support by the circumstance that, at the time, the flag salute looked exactly like the Heil Hitler Nazi salute with outstretched arm—the hand-over-heart pledge of allegiance was a later development. And since God requires exclusive devotion, and the Bible verse next considers punishment for those not serving him that way—suddenly things that at first glance do not seem very similar become so. One should bully small children into doing something that their Bible-trained conscience tells them is disagreeable to God and may merit punishment?

It is why even the lofty ones who did not like Jehovah’s Witnesses thought Minersville was a terrible decision. The New Republic likened the Supreme Court to German tribunals that similarly punished the Witnesses for refusing to perform the Nazi salute. Wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “We  think this decision of the United States Supreme Court is dead wrong. We think its decision is a violation of American principle. We think it is a surrender to popular hysteria. If patriotism depends upon such things as this—upon violation of a fundamental right of religious freedom—then if becomes not a noble emotion of love for country, but something to be rammed down our throats by the law.” When the decision was reversed three years later, Time Magazine led off its coverage with, “Blot Removed.”

The prevailing opinion in Minersville (‘We live by symbols’) was, in most legal and journalistic circles, thought an embarrassment. The dissenting opinion of Minersville, written by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, who later became Chief Justice Stone, was the one most championed in those circles. Three years later that dissenting opinion would become the prevailing one.

(All quotations, except from those of links, are taken from the book Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Shawn Francis Peters)

To be continued: here


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Grab the Altar by the Horns

D48513D0-802F-445C-A182-710458BB423DWhat is it with these guys and grabbing hold of the horns of the altar? It’s enough to think that an altar should have horns, let alone that you can save yourself by grabbing onto them. Twice it occurred in this week’s Bible reading, the first two chapters of 1 Kings:

“Adonijah was also afraid because of Solomon, so he got up and went and grabbed hold of the horns of the altar.” (1:50)

“When the news reached Joab—for Joab had supported Adonijah but he had not supported Abʹsa·lom—Joab fled to the tent of Jehovah and grabbed hold of the horns of the altar.” (2:28)

What! Do they think it’s a good luck charm? 

It seems that they must have, and there is a long tradition of miscreants taking refuge in a ‘holy place,’ thinking one will never desecrate the holy place by spilling their guts there. The first I heard of this was in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ where an entire chapter was devoted to someone who had sought, and was given, ‘assylum’ in an area of the church. Long as he stayed in that area, the law couldn’t touch him. (Alas, his actual offense, if it was one, I forget. Anyone know?)

The lucky charm doesn’t work for Joab, who is pretty much of a hit man working for David but it turns out he is an ‘equal opportunity’ hit man, grabbing that one trusting fellow by the beard and gutting him with his sword, also running through David’s other son Absolom when his big head got stuck in a tree, in violation of David’s command not to harm to upstart. One other rival he killed as well. The guy was bad news. The horns of the altar don’t save him: 

Then King Solʹo·mon was told: “Joab has fled to the tent of Jehovah, and he is there beside the altar.” So Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying: “Go, strike him down!”  So Benaiah went to the tent of Jehovah and said to him: “This is what the king says, ‘Come out!’” But he said: “No! I will die here.” Benaiah brought word back to the king: “This is what Joab said, and this is what he answered me.”  Then the king said to him: “Do just as he said; strike him down and bury him and remove from me and from the house of my father the blood that Joab spilled without just cause. Jehovah will bring his blood back on his own head, for without my father David’s knowledge, he struck down and killed with the sword two men more righteous and better than he was: Abner the son of Ner, the chief of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jeʹther, the chief of the army of Judah.” (1 Kings 2: 30-32)

It actually did work for Adonijah. There he is, his quest for power thwarted, after which he becomes afraid for his head, grabbing hold of the horns of the altar. ‘Look, if you behave, we’ll let you be,’ the new king Solomon tells him. And he does behave for a little bit but only a little bit. ‘See if you can get Solomon to give me David’s voluptuous nurse/bedmate Abishag as a concubine,’ he says to a seemingly clueless Bathsheba—and you begin to think that maybe a woman of more sense would check surrounding lines of vision before bathing in her birthday suit. 

If Bathsheba doesn’t have a clue, Solomon sure does. ‘I should give him the concubine?’ he says. ‘Why not also the kingdom?’ Have relations with the concubine of a king and it means you are the new king. That’s why Absalom did just that with all David’s concubines when he was trying to seize the throne from him. It’s only at this conniving that Adonijah is put to death.

Grab hold of the horns of an altar? It’s worth a try. “Honey, did you vacuum the house like I asked?” my wife said. Frantically, I looked around for some altar that I could grab my the horns. It didn’t work. She slayed me right there and then, as though Joab.

Shimei probably had such a wife, because he is the third miscreant to go down, after Adonijah and Joab, and he doesn’t bother grabbing hold of any horns of any altar. He’s the guy that gave David such a hard time when fleeing from Saul. ‘You ratfink!’ he hollers, throwing stones at David and his men. ‘Let me take his head off,’ Abishai urges David, but the latter as much as says, ‘Well—maybe he has a point,’ and just keeps trudging along, stones bouncing off his helmet. His son has chased him out of town, he is fleeing for his life. We cannot know how much God’s rebuke that he would humiliate David as a consequence of his killing Uriah so as to take his wife weighed upon his thinking. At any rate, God was allowing his present distressing circumstances. Who was he to tell God what to do? Twice while I was writing ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates,’ the GB refered to that passage. I took from it that they were accepting the modern stones thrown at them as though discipline. Years later, Abishai wants to strike him down once again. David holds him back. (2 Samuel 16:5-13, 19:21)

There is to be a day of reckoning, though, for Shimei. “The [Solomon] king then said to Shimei: ‘You know in your heart all the injury that you did to David my father, and Jehovah will bring back that injury on your own head.’” (1 Kings 2:44) He pays the price once the kingdom of Solomon is established. During the warring king’s lifetime, David gave him a free pass. 

The Governing Body applying to themselves the taunts and insults of Shimei? Warring king David  lets him be, but his successor, Solomon, the king of peace, promptly calls him to account? And even gives him a form of asylum, which Shimei violates, triggering his own death? Put me in charge of antitypes. I haven’t even begun to play with how the organization holds back from apostate attacks today, contenting themselves only to fend off legal assaults, but once crunch time comes and the ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ is about to ‘Stand up’ enemies go down as did Shimei. And—once again consistent with type/antitypes, they would know there is barely any point to grabbing hold of the horns of the altar so they wouldn’t do it.

Three enemies go down to conclude the 1 Kings introduction: Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei, after which “the kingdom was firmly established in the hand of Solomon.” (1 kings 2:46) Sort of like a trinity that bites the dust. Oh yeah, dust off my resume as ‘Assigner of Antitypes. Go for it, Tommy.


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

At The New System Dinner Table, Part 3–Tales of Pursuing Peace

(See Part 1 and Part 2)

Mmm, this counsel is delicious! Nancy, you really must tell me your recipe!

I don’t have to. You have it in your recipe book already, same as it is in mine! It’s in the Taste and See Psalms section. It’s so good!

Yum—pass the Bible sandwiches please. I’ll have another.


We sure have had fine conversation along with some surprises. Here is Tim the guard, come into the truth because the guard at Acts 16:25 came into the truth when he heard Paul and Silas sing. And what a delight to hear from Mefibberpest, that faithful man of old who no one can pronounce his name! I think we have time for one more experience. Is there anyone else here who cleared up a misundstanding to make peace with a brother? Connery?

I faced a trial like that, brother. Truetom said something about me online that I thought was an insult. He is a brother who blogs on the internet.

A blogger. Oh my. What happened?

Well, I started to follow him on Twitter. After he found out, he began referring to me as “that elder, the worst speaker in the circuit, possibly the world, who follows me on Twitter so I try to make it worth his while.”  I was offended. It’s not true.

No, I would say not, Connery. The world is a very big place. Did you report him to the elders?

No. I decided to do like Jesus said at Matthew 18:15, that if you think your brother has committed a sin, you go and talk to him about it first. So I approached him.

What excuse did he offer?

He said he thought I was okay with it because I had said I was. He also said he tries to keep a virtual presence in the virtual neighborhood the same as someone keeps a physical presence in their physical neighborhood. That way he can interact with online neighbors, just like people interact with physical neighbors, and sometimes get to put in a good word for God.

Hmm. Well, he seems to mean well, but . . . 

He also said he likes to use humor, even about himself, because people like humor and he wants to reach them. But I told him not everyone has a sense of humor so he should stop. 

I like your reasoning. Did you win him over?

I thought I did. But then overnight—I’m not saying it was him—someone defaced my truck. See?


I like it that you don’t jump to conclusions, brother. That’s maturity at work. I don’t think he would do that. Truetom is a little bit ‘out there,’ but he’s basically a good guy.

(Photo: Unknown. Meme pics on social media are common property, so far as I know. If it’s yours, claim it.)

To be continued…here.


******  The bookstore




Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

An Obedient Heart or an Understanding Heart—Which Is It?

So grant your servant an obedient heart to judge your people,” Solomon asked in a dream, “to discern between good and bad, for who is able to judge this numerous people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9)

Imagine such a request—for an ‘obedient heart.’ From a king!—who normally isn’t concerned with obedience to anything or anyone.

Furthermore, God equates this request for an obedient heart to ‘understanding:’

It was pleasing to Jehovah that Solomon had requested this. God then said to him: “Because you requested this and you did not request for yourself long life or riches or the death of your enemies, but you requested understanding to hear judicial cases, I will do what you asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that just as there has never been anyone like you before, there will never be anyone like you again. Furthermore, what you have not requested I will give you, both riches and glory, so that there will be no other king like you in your lifetime.” (vs 10-13)

I was just getting ready to comment on this at the midweek meeting when I thought I’d check how other translations put it. We have a handful of them on our own app, some mainstays like King James and American Standard Versions, some eclectic ones like Rotherham and Byington, and a few permutations of our own New World Translation. But for sheer scope, I like Enter your scripture, append “in all English translations” to the result, and you have a list of 54 translations to choose from. It is not “all English translations,” as they say. It is all they have. Rotherham and Byington aren’t there, nor is New World Translation. But it still is a lot. Let’s check how many render 1 Kings 3:9 as “obedient.”

Whoa! None of them do! Well—just one, the Holman Christian Standard Bible. 53 of the 54 translations have something different!

By far, the most frequent rendering is an ‘understanding heart’ that Solomon requested, as opposed to an ‘obedient heart.’ 31 of the 54 versions say ‘understanding,’ with two more saying, ‘a heart that understands’—almost the same thing. The next most common is ‘discerning.’ Some versions change the ‘heart’ to ‘mind,’ as though what Solomon wants is to be the smartest kid in class.

So the New World has an ‘obedient’ rendering that only one other translation has! Did they just write it in? You know how our people like to lay it on with obedience. I was just entertaining the notion that the Witnesses got it wrong when I noticed a handful of versions that suggested they were on to something after all—maybe something others had missed.

The New American Bible—Revised Edition, the one I employed as house Bible in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why (because the New World Translation is there declared ‘extremist’) says ‘listening heart.’ The Names of God Bible says ‘heart that listens.’ Oh yeah? Listens to what? Or should it be who?

Indicating it is the ‘who’ to be listened to, the Wycliffe Version reads: “Therefore thou shalt give to thy servant an heart able to be taught, that is, enlightened of thee . . . And the Message Translation, which is sometimes so paraphrased as to veer into ludicrousness, here is spot-on. Solomon requests a ‘god-listening heart,’ it says.

So now I’m thinking that the brothers aren’t so daft after all, that they’re on to something that most miss and nobody but one says explicitly. Hmm. How to research this? Look up ‘obedience’ in the Insight book. There I find that the Hebrew word is ‘shama.’ Is 1 Kings 3:9 one of the places shama is used? The article doesn’t say.

Look up ‘understanding’ in that same encyclopediac work. Nothing.

Okay. Nothing remains than to hop on the great internet with the search terms, ‘1 Kings 9:3,’ ‘shama,’ and ‘obedient.’ This is a little risky because Witness apostates have peppered the internet with a gazillian tirades about how their former religion stinks to high heaven. But in this case, ‘obedient’ is the furthest thing from their minds, and nobody has bothered to weigh in on this particular verse. Instead an article by Daniel Hoffman is pulled up.

“When Solomon prayed for wisdom,” he says, “surprisingly, he did not use the word “wisdom.” What he prayed for, according to the ESV, [Easy-to-Read Version] was “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil”

There is a Hebrew word for ‘wisdom.’ Solomon doesn’t use it! What word does he use? ‘Shama,’ the one that Insight on the Scriptures identifies as the root word of ‘obedience!’  Quickly the New World Translation has risen from ‘dog of the pack’ to ‘top dog!’

It is not that ‘understanding’ is wrong as a rendering. It’s fine as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go very far. If it does not convey the idea that ‘understanding’ comes from listening to God rather that simply being innately smart it does its readers a great disservice. Here’s how Hoffman puts it:

“So the ESV translation is not wrong. But I think maintaining the literal translation is better in this case. The more concrete “hear” reminds us that wisdom, discernment, or understanding, biblically conceived, is a matter first of all of hearing the word of the Lord. Wisdom in its biblical conception is not an abstract trait that some people just naturally have, but is a result of hearing the word of the Lord and digesting and embracing it.” (He says “hear” because shama has the connotation of hearing someone, in this case God.)

Is it really necessary to go so far as the New World Translation goes (and the Holman Christian Standard Bible) and say ‘obedient.’ No, I don’t think it is. But it just may be the best choice of renderings. After all, what is the point of ‘hearing’ God if you blow off what he says as nothing? Disobedience is afoot today. It is like what was said to Ezekiel: “Look! You are to them like a romantic love song, sung with a beautiful voice and skillfully played on a stringed instrument. They will hear your words, but no one will act on them.” (Ezekiel 33:32)

Ha! The words are a “romantic love song.” They are inspirational—the stuff of stirring song, moving poetry, rousing prose, but as to obeying them? No. And so Dee mentioned to me the other day how she had commented on someone’s ornate religious edifice he was carrying on about, that yes, people have built many beautiful things for God, “but I almost think it’s better when they find out what he wants and obey him instead.” That got her the fisheye from her recipient but I thought she hit the nail on the head. It’s not unlike what Samuel told Saul: “Look, to obey is better than sacrifice.”

That being the case, that obedience is important to God and we live in a time of marked disobedience, and we strive to avoid “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience,” (Eph 2:2) you can make a case that ‘obedient heart’ is the best rendering of all.

This is not the first time I’ve spotted the New World Translation with a rendering that at first seems suspect but turns out to be superior. Ronald Sider, in his book ‘The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience grumbles that Galatians 5:13 literally reads, “be slaves to each other,” yet most popular translations dilute the verse to a more independence-savoring “serve one another in love”—a rendering promoting disobedience that he says contributes to the deplorable state of his own people, whose overall moral conduct is identical to that of the greater world whereas it is supposed to be a notch above. The New World Translation, however, holds to the original Greek, with “through love slave for one another.”

I noted it here as well with Psalm 22:16, where the New World Translation stuck to the literal Hebrew whereas almost everyone else succumbed to an at least arguably fraudulent reading.

If the New World ranks with the best translations in these three instances, why is it sometimes said that it is the worst? In almost all cases it is because it does not render certain verses in the formalistic, even if less rigorous, way that they must be rendered to support the trinity doctrine—and adherents to the trinity take offense. There is such a thing as letting beliefs dictate scholarship, whereas it ought to be the other way around.….


Painting: ‘The Wisdom of Solomon”—James Tissot

(1 Kings 3:9, which this post expounds on, was included in the recently assigned week’s Bible reading. Therefore this post will fill in for that week’s meeting notes.)


******  The bookstore




Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

At the New System Dinner Table, Part 2: Tales of Forgiveness

(Part 1 here)

Okay, TrueTom, it’s your turn at the New System dinner table. Did you make peace with anyone that later saved you from strangling her in prison? Anyone that can put up with you—that’s saying a lot. Come on, spill.”

”Yes, brothers, I had such a trial. I had almost lost my peace with a certain sister. I had used the D-word online, as in “You would think that the same d**n button that puts you in private mode would take you out again, but nooo!” —and she was offended by it.”


”Yavolle. Your English is no good, she said. That clearly indicates that you are pagan. Whereas others are instructed in the proper use of English, you are clearly not. And although you speak of God’s name on the several diverse social media forums, I can tell that you are really not for him!” (sung to the My Fair Lady tune of You Did It)

”Whoa! That really must have been a test for you, Truetom. What did you do?”

”I told her about when an elder backed into my car when it was parked in the turnaround spot where he did not expect it to be and said ‘Sh*t!’ He apologized and I said, ‘Don’t worry about it. That’s what bumpers are for.”

And I also thanked her for for contacting me to apologize for calling me out in front of other digital people, said an apology was not necessary, and that I could stand a rebuke now and then, that it did me good.

That certainly is an upbuilding experience, TrueTom. Thank you for sharing. But now it’s time for our nightly serenade in the courtyard. Tonight, we will be singing the tune ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ Who knows?—maybe a guard will be listening. That verse in Acts about Paul and Silas shows they do that sometimes.

(The guard did afterward make the observation that, ‘Even though you were prisoners, you were ‘truly free.’ This may be an allusion to Emily Baran’s book, an allusion I also picked up in ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses’ of a Russian guard observing Witnesses singing in the gulag, who remarked, “Truly only someone who has internal freedom can become a Jehovah’s Witness.”)


To be continued here

******  The bookstore


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

At the New System Dinner Table

“Well, here we are at the New System dinner table. We’ve regaled each other with stories of how we all learned to get along and not take offense at each other’s stupid foibles before the world went more nuts than usual and how it all came in handy later on. And now—knock me over with a feather!—here with us is one of the faithful ones of old. Bob, we know you were a guard but you can uncuff him. He’s okay. (Sorry, he’s still learning to be trusting.) We all have so many questions to ask.”

Mephibosheth: Yes I can see you all have many questions. And I’m ready to answer them. Fire away. Do you want more details on how I said about that liar Ziba who tried to flimflam me, ‘Let him take it all!’ because I was so overjoyed that King David (who foreshadows Jesus) had been restored to his throne? Pretty slick move, huh? Want to know more about that?

Tablemates: Not just yet.

Mephibosheth: Well, what then?

Tablemates: What we want it know is, what in the world were your parents thinking when they gave you the absurdly unpronouncible name Meshibofeth? And why didn’t you change it when you came of age? Did you notice how even Brother Malenfont flubbed your name at the Regional? Brother Malenfont! who doesn’t flub anything! He flubbed your name! Seriously, how did you get named that?

Mephibosheth: Well, I’ll tell you. It was just one of those things. Does that answer your question, Tom?

Tom: Perfectly.

Mephibosheth: Good. And now I have a question for you.

Tom: Um—little ol me?—Sure, you can ask but I don’t see what . . .

Mephibosheth: Did you really bust out laughing when you gave that Bible reading with my name four times in as many lines so that Charlie quipped he thought the earth was going to open and swallow the whole congregation because he had never heard someone guffaw during a Bible reading?

Tom: Uh—well—I didn’t really guffaw. I just chuckled a little. I mean, I’d worked so hard on getting your name straight—it was there seven times in the talk, and I did get it straight at first but then in that final passage I messed it up, and—uh—it was sort of involuntary. I didn’t mean it. Sorry.

Mephibosheth: That’s okay brother Tom. Here’s a verse for you that was in today’s WatchtowerStudy. It’s from Luke 12: 47-48:

Then that slave who understood the will of his master but did not get ready or do what he asked will be beaten with many strokes.But the one who did not understand and yet did things deserving of strokes will be beaten with few.”

We know you’re a clueless dope and you don’t mess up on purpose. Of course you are the one who doesn’t ‘understand’ because you don’t understand anything. So we’ll just beat you with few.

Tom: Thank you, Brother Mephiberrpeth

Mephibosheth: You can call me Phib.


To be continued: here

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Flubbing Mephibosheth

Just look at this monstrosity I’m assigned to read!

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the sons of the king.  Now Mephibosheth also had a young son named Miʹca; and all those who lived in Ziʹba’s house became servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he always ate at the table of the king; and he was crippled in both feet.

I mean, can they say it any more? FOUR times that unpronounceable name! What was wrong with Jonathan his dad? Why couldn’t he have named the kid Jon Jr? Throw in the middle name Albatross while you’re at it! And he was crippled in both feet? I’ll be crippled in my mouth after this talk!

Yes yes, I admire the optimism, I said to someone who assured me I could do it, but tell me true: did you name any of your kids Mephibosheth?

Maybe you can go with Mephie, another said.

Good idea. Just like Andy Taylor used to call his nephew Opie when the kid’s real name was Opilakimommaoctolibiario.

Look at it as an opportunity to pronounce it differently seven times, Stephen said.


Mission accomplished (sort of). Seven times the unpronounceable name read, including a veritable minefield of 4 at the very end.  He sells seashells by the seashore. “And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him . . . Bill or George, anything but Mephibosheth.”


I flubbed it!  just before the minefield and then laughed at myself for flubbing it. It’s just a tongue twister of a name to say fast and repeatedly. “I’ve never actually seen a brother chuckle at such times,” said one bro as he braced himself to see if anyone would be smited like Urijah grabbing the ark.

“I think the angels chuckled with you and were proud of your effort as well as all the others who gave this assignment around the world 🌎.   Even when you think you are losing, you’re winning in our eyes, especially Jehovah’s eyes,” said one sympathizer. I admit I had not thought of myself that way, as sort of a Geico lizard mascot to everyone else assigned that reading.

Said Murray: ‘You are not alone my brother. I did not have any dealings with that part this week. I was householder on the study portion, but two of the brothers who had to use the name had serious muble with their trouths & got their murds wixed up. He will need a name change upon his ressurection I reckon.’

“Is there anyone remaining of Saul’s house to whom I can extend loyal love, perhaps by giving them a name change in case it is Mephibosheth?” David probably said in a beta version of the Bible that has vanished. 

Yikes! No sooner do I flub the Meshibosheth minefield (2 Samuel 9) then I see this week’s Watchtower study title: “Are You “an Example . . . in Speaking”?  Theme scripture: Become an example to the faithful ones in speaking.”​—1 TIM. 4:12.

Way to rub it in.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

The Quirky Talk About the Resurection.

145F08E8-23BB-48E6-ABB0-4FFA8EDB6465“You look just like your dad,” one person met the speaker in the parking lot. Thanks a lot! was his reaction—“white hair and pink face.” He burns easily and groused from the platform that as a kid his mom dressed him in long sleeve shirts on blazing hot days to stop that from happening. He doesn’t tan. He burns. His dad didn’t tan. He burned. His granddad didn’t tan. He burned. But his son tans nicely, he being the product of a mom who tans nicely, and the speaker muttered about that.

(photo by Jen Theodore @

He also got all pumped up over John 8:44, the verse that calls Satan a murderer, a liar, and in fact, the father of the lie who when he lies speaks ‘according to his own disposition.’ I thought of that bro who used to give that super long talk on Jesus’ trial and execution. Supposedly, he was asked to cool it because he got so worked up people began to fear for his health. Apocryphal? Could be. There was such a bro and talk, though.

Anyone who died—it was as though the speaker took it personally. His grandma at 97, and she’d been in the same rural congregation all her life—he took it personal, as you would if any murderer took your relation, in this case Satan being the murderer, as a consequence of his first lie.

It was a quirky talk. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It was—but it was quirky. He is the 3rd generation Witness of a stalwart family. I met his daughter, who if I ever saw her before it was as an infant. My wife worked with her in cart work a few days later. When the fellow’s dad, now deceased, gave the public talk some years ago and I said I liked it, he responded with ‘What did you like about it?’ Yikes! It’s a good thing mine was a genuine comment and not just some boiler-plate pablum. I was able to tell him what I liked about it—that it was presented so clearly and simply that I could reconstruct it all in my head without having taken notes. ‘Yeah, it’s just the way he was,’ the son recalled. ‘It could come across as though he was full of himself, but he just wanted feedback so he could improve.’

Oh, okay—it just comes to me now the significance of what the present speaker said. Though he took it real hard when his grandma died, he did not cry at all when his childhood friend died at 16. It was because his pal’s death was “foolish and preventable,” not the result of murder from the first lie: “You will not die. For God knows that in the day of your eating it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” A lie. They did die. God had said they would. “And so death spread to all mankind,” Romans 5:12 says, in the same way that epigenetics decrees you can pass along an acquired trait.

He’s sad in both instances, you understand, his grandma and his 16 year old friend, but the sadness with his grandma was heightened with rage because God had not said, ‘Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it—and then die.’ No, their life would have been unending had they not fallen for the big lie. That’s why grandma’s death moved him more than that of his pal, though offhand you would think it to be the reverse: the kid died young and grandma had a long life. But Satan didn’t kill his chum. His own recklessness did, a tragedy to be sure, but less so than that of a murder victim.

The talk was on the resurrection hope. He hit all the familiar scriptures but personalized most of them. If he didn’t do that, he’d put some unique twist on them. He said how the eleventh chapter of John was his favorite scriptural passage, which pleased me because it is also mine. It’s not necessarily my favorite scripture—I don’t know if I have one of those—but it is my favorite scriptural passage. You can explain so much without hopping around in the Bible from one place to another. It’s all there in one chapter: Jesus’ friend dies. He likens it to ‘sleep’ and goes to wake him up. Although the fellow had been dead four days (and ought to smell by now, his sister said) he brought him back. The guy didn’t get all grouchy because he’d been yanked down from heaven onto earth again (Why would you do that to a friend? the speaker said). Neither did he go hunting around for a bucket of water in which to cool his scorched behind because he had just escaped purgatory. You can do a lot with that passage of John 11.

The resurrection hope is part of the baseline of what it means to be Christian. It’s not an add-on, but it’s part of the basic passage, the ‘foundation.’ The speaker pointed to Hebrews 6:1-2:

“Therefore, now that we have moved beyond the primary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, repentance from dead works and faith in God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.”

The resurrection—and he explained just how that works, how Jesus paid the ransom price to undo the effects of Satan’s lie, like-for-like, and so forth—is what undoes the sad present state that “you are a mist, appearing for a while and then disappearing.” (James 4:14)

It also—he laid stress on this—makes people immune to manipulation. It frees people “who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:15) People have done horrible things for fear of being put to death themselves. Perhaps this explains why the resurrection teaching is especially opposed by critics; they don’t want to lose their hold over people. But they have lost it with those who fear God and embrace the resurrection hope. No Witness of Jehovah wants to die. It is inconvenient and it makes people feel bad. But death itself holds no terror for them. They know what it is. They are fortified all the more so because the Bible likens it to sleep from which one can awake.


…..No further meeting notes this week. An account from the midweek meeting from 1 Samuel 1-2 inspired a post of its own (which hasn’t posted yet), so I’ll let that suffice.

******  The bookstore


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

The Return of Door-to-Door for the Witnesses

Back to door-to-door the Witnesses go. Are they chomping at the bit? Some are nervous. It’s been a while.

We make it far too complicated with suggested presentations. They’re fine for chatty persons but not everyone is chatty. If you’re not, try this instead. Select a favorite verse, let’s say James 1:13. Play with the following words to suit your own temperament, but DO NOT lengthen it: ‘Hi. I’m Jerry. I stopped by to read you a scripture, you tell me what you think, and I’m gone.’ It they say no, be pleasant and leave. If yes they say yes, read: “For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.”

In a sentence or two, say why you chose the verse. “I chose this verse because some people think he DOES do evil, or even think there is no God.’

After your one sentence say: ‘The next move is yours and you don’t have to make one. If this is interesting to you, we can explore it. If not, enjoy your day and I’ll continue on my way.’ If they say no, move on graciously. If they say yes, fish out some appropriate video. Your choice. Often I go with the basic ‘Why Study the Bible?’

Don’t ask to show it. Just start it up, with the observation that, ‘This video runs almost 3 minutes but you don’t have to watch it all. The minute it gets boring, just say so and I’ll stop it.’ If they demur, again, take your leave.

My experience is that even those who decline are pleased with the brevity and the clear signal you don’t wish to chew up their time. Many of those who say ‘no’ add, ‘but thanks for calling.’ It does at least as much as a more wordy approach, if not more, and is much more enjoyable. It is letting the scripture do the talking, which is our main goal in the first place. It takes charge of the conversation in an appealing way so the householder does not start fidgeting and say, ‘Where are we going with this?’ or worse yet, become irritated. It’s always clear where we are going, and they usually appreciate the straightforwardness.

Extroverts are fine with encountering people in any setting. They’re good at starting up conversations and guiding them anywhere they like. Introverts are less comfortable doing this. Sometimes they dread it. They prefer a door setting where it is obvious they came for a reason and they have only to tell that reason. But then we clog it up with awkward questions and open-ended conversations. If they work for you, go for it. But otherwise, keep it simple. Leave it for the extroverts to flesh out the more involved presentations.

A few weeks ago was a 5-minute service meeting part to the effect that if you think the suggested presentation is a clunker, you can change it. For an introverted person, most of them are clunkers. It must be extroverts who design those presentations. Or those who live in areas where people like to chew the fat with complete strangers that happen to stop by unannounced. Keep it simple. You’ll be surprised how liberating the above method is. And there’s no end of verses that you can make a presentation from.

In the ‘John Wheatnweeds’ chapter of Tom Irregardless and Me, I play with several of these presentations. John is the one who “hinders members from their ministry by spending inordinate amounts of time expounding on the text of the day before they set out,” as one reviewer put it. Tom Pearlsandswine is the one who is thrilled at the notion that you don’t really have to prepare for these presentations, since he has never prepared for anything in his life.


photo by Wilfredor—Wikipedia


******  The bookstore


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Yikes! A Bad Review of TrueTom vs the Apostates! (Part 4)

Okay, one more round on the ‘overlapping generations’ of which 607 BCE is a prime component, it being the starting point. That topic is what triggered the nasty review of the brilliant ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates,’ even though it is nowhere mentioned in the book. One more round and be done with it. This series has grown beyond what I first envisioned. Bring yourself up to speed with Part 1,  Part 2, and Part 3.

“I realize that Jesus almost always spoke in illustrations that many people did not get,” Vic Vomodog said, “but I do think that when he said “…This generation will not pass away until all these things occur …” he was speaking literally about ONE generation, as it was commonly understood by his audience back then.”

Sure. It’s sort of like when I realized that my camp coach almost always spoke figuratively but somehow discerned he was being literal when he said ‘Go take a long walk off a short pier.’ I nearly drowned that day.


Photo: An Indonesian Coach:

You can’t prove ‘overlapping generations,’ but then you can’t prove even the purely biblical aspects of the faith—it is enough to ‘prove it to yourself’. You don’t boast of your ‘critical thinking’ skills. The term has been defined so that you cannot win. Suffice for it to be ‘reasonable,” a term which the Bible (and common sense) endorses.

Take this roboticist, for instance, who designs facial recognition software that works if there is not too much makeup, if the subject’s expression does not change too much, and so forth. Then he reflects on how a baby straight from the womb can do so much better. “I don't know any complex mechanism or device which has been conceived by humans, by engineers, that was not made by a designer,” he says, from which he concludes there must be One.

‘Neither do I, but that doesn’t mean I’m buying into this ‘God’ malarkey,’ is the thrust of Michael Shermer’s argument (he the ‘skeptic’ authority). His rules of critical thinking include: ‘Just because I can’t explain my position doesn’t mean yours is right.’ That might be all well and good if he didn’t insist on his position as the default one. The winds of human shenanigans blow a new game into town and afterwards the rules are changed so that it will not quickly blow out.

I always try to look for how an explanation does fit, not for how it doesn’t. Jail the entire leadership of a faith, (the new subject under discussion is the ‘killing’ of the two witnesses) it certain would be akin to “killing them.” So many other things fit nicely as well. It’s ‘above my pay grade’ to challenge such things. If the stuff should prove wrong, it will be changed. It’s just a heads-up anyway, nothing we are required to hold our breath and turn blue for.  It is something to satisfy what appears to be a universal human need.

It is a need of angels too. Those angels are intensely “peering” to discern how the prophesies will play out. (1 Peter 1:12) I like to picture them peering as though through a peephole in a wooden fence. Anyone here up for telling them to straighten up and get back to work?

And even if the overlapping generations should fail to overlap some day, bros can always drop down to yet another understanding of ‘generation,’ It can become ‘Era’ or ‘Age.’ Not a problem. Most of those from outside who attack the generations understanding end up normalizing today’s societal doings. Good luck on that. They’re welcome to it.

The stuff is all interesting to me, but it plays a decided second fiddle to the moral qualities of serving God as a Witness, not to mention taking part in the project of declaring the good news in all the earth.

“You will rescue me from the faultfinding of my people,” David says (2 Samuel 22:44) and there is plenty of it. But, says he, “I have kept the ways of Jehovah, And I have not wickedly abandoned my God.” (22:26) We’re an awfully critical bunch. It may not be in all respects as Moses leading the Israelites, but that still does not mean we are not a critical bunch. It’s a challenge to operate with everyone nipping at your heels. 

Don’t want no ‘1984’ references either. George Orwell wrote 1984 at a time when totalitarianism was sweeping the globe, Nazism, Stalinism, crushing even the sturdy and powerful good guys like Winston Smith. (Churchill—how many ‘Winstons’ do you know?) The government he wrote of would not just lean on people with a certain amount of peer pressure. It would literally take command of every part of your life, literally assign you a role that you’d better not reject, literally punish you for neglecting propaganda channels, literally torture you for deviation, and then literally kill you after rehabilitation as a lesson to others. If George Orwell could see how his work has been trivialized today to settle religious scores he would say, ‘Thank God I’m dead.’

And if I can’t otherwise torpedo the 607-naysayers, I’ll just rewrite history. What do you think of that, Mr.Strawman Critic? Surprisingly, it’s not so ludicrous as it sounds. Allan Guelzo of the ‘How Great Historians Interpret History’ lecture series says it’s done all the time, and not done ‘lyingly.’ Some new wind will blow upon the stage—that of religion, that of the Enlightenment, that of the rise and fall of any great power, and it’s ‘Game On’ for the revisionists. There are simply that many facts to choose from, he says. It all depend on which you put where, which you highlight, and which you ignore.

It’s happening right now with ‘critical race theory’—an idea with powerful backers that has persons not viewing it that way in conniptions. Yet nothing is made up. It’s just facts reprioritized. Mr. Strawman Critic is himself intent on rewriting history, citing his book that World War I was just one of many world wars—they’re a dime a dozen—and not at all the worst one. Trust me on this—he would have no interest in this book, it may even be why the book has been written, but for undermining his former faith.

So maybe I’ll undertake a rewriting of history myself. But since I’ve already conceded that it doesn’t really matter, I won’t.

to be continued once more? We’ll see.


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'