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My Meeting Notes (and Stray Thoughts): Week of September 19, 2022

Watchtower study: An Ancient Prophecy That Affects You

Theme Scripture: “I will put enmity between you and the woman.”​—GEN. 3:15

Four parties in the verse: the woman, the seed of the woman, the serpent, and the seed of the serpent. One by one the study article explored the identity of each one.

(See article here on how to handle Adam and Eve. It’s not the easiest sell in these parts)

Para 2: Everyone liked the illustration of the spine that holds pages of a printed book together. Rip it off, one bro said, and you’ve got loose pages everywhere. The info they convey is still present but you can’t make any sense of it.

Para 1: “What did Jehovah do soon after Adam and Eve sinned?” (Genesis 3:15) He had the repair outlined immediately. Many comments on this point, also included here.

Para 4: Ha. There is that drawing of the ‘original serpent,’ Revelation 12:9 identifies as Satan, pondering how the first couple is kissing up to God. You can almost hear him think how he’d like himself some of that.

An aside that has nothing to do with anything, that isn’t in Genesis, but it makes sense and I like it: Paradise Lost (John Milton) presents the serpent saying he can speak because he ate from that forbidden tree. ‘Look what it did for me!’ he coaxes the woman, trying to get her to do the same. I mean, somewhere you have to come to grips that, even in the opening days of Eden, a snake talking would knock your socks off. Milton’s guess is as good as anyone’s.

Para 7: Galatians 4:26 is discussed: “The Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” Is this ‘the woman?’ Jerusalem, the capital city of God’s ancient nation. ‘Jerusalem above’—today’s counterpart over his people’s anywhere?

Someone mentions artwork— FADC30C6-F5D4-4983-A7B7-81A35349E3B6I have seen example of this at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art—of Mary crushing the serpent. Some discussion of why this doesn’t quite cut it as the ‘woman’ of the prophesy. On one such tour of the Met, led by someone from Bethel, a fellow in the group asked me, ‘Are you Sheepandgoats?’ Whoa—how in the world would he know that? Turns out I had just related a story I had also posted on this blog. To this day we keep in occasional touch.

Photo: Immaculata, Antonio Cesera in Wikipedia

From the Midweek meeting: 1 Kings 13


“He followed the man of the true God and found him sitting under a big tree. Then he said to him: “Are you the man of the true God who came from Judah?” He replied: “I am.” He said to him: “Come home with me and eat bread.” But he said: “I cannot go back with you or accept your invitation, nor may I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.17For I was told by the word of Jehovah, ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there. You must not return by the way you came.’” At this he said to him: “I too am a prophet like you, and an angel told me by the word of Jehovah, ‘Have him come back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (He deceived him.) So he went back with him to eat bread and drink water in his house. (13:14-18)

That’s quirky. The liar himself calls him out, as though against his will, and the deceived fellow is eaten by a lion! Any way we can make hay out of this one?


“So the chairman said ‘Stand for announcements’ and Truetom, who always does what he is told, kept standing. But next to him was a brother who said, “Sit down, you goody-two-shoes. What! You would prove yourself righteous overmuch?” 

“I dunno,” Truetom said, “The brother said to stand. I think I should.”

”It’s not so bad,” was the reply. “It’s just a small thing. Come on, show a little backbone and sit.” (He deceived him)

”Well—if you say so,” said Truetom and he sat.

”Ha!” his neighbor said, “You failed the test!” And a lion sprung from the row behind and devoured Truetom so that only his fingers were left to tap out this post.”


***Looking forward to the mask-disposal party coming up at the end of the month. I’ll just slip mine off a little prematurely, and. . . .gasp!
So THAT’s how Fred Flintstone got is two tone face.


******  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 Instant Answer of Sunday’s Watchtower and What to do About Adam and Eve

Much was made at Sunday’s Watchtower Study over the Genesis 3:15 prophesy. Instantly, upon the first couple’s fall into sin, Jehovah had the answer as to how he would fix it. The typical response to disaster is to mope, to be bummed, to say ‘poor me,’ for awhile, even to fall into depression. Only after that process do you begin to wonder if anything can be salvaged. God had the answer immediately.

“I was touched when I learned that Jehovah took action immediately so that mankind would not be left without hope.” said the sis in paragraph 17.  Someone else drew the contrast to how humans routinely screw up during crises, drawing on the worldwide pandemic response as the latest example. What a chaotic mess that was (is)!

Adam and Eve may be okay for us but they are hard to swallow for the general public in our neck of the woods. When I first came to learn of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was astounded that here were people who actually believed in Adam and Eve. They didn’t look dumb—yet all my life I had believed that only the reddest of the rednecks believed in Adam and Eve!

If you dismiss them, you toss away all hope of answering the deepest questions of life. ‘Why is their evil and suffering?’—gone, if you dismiss Adam and Eve. ‘How is it that people die?’ as well as related questions of hope for the dead—none of them can be answered without Adam and Eve. So don’t get too hasty in giving them to boot, regardless of what the learned ones say. The learning of the learned ones is not always the bee’s knees. Sometimes it is the “foolishness” that “catches the wise in their own cunning.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) If, thinking yourself very clever, you have tossed away answers to the vexing problems of life, you have indeed been caught in your own cunning.

The trick with Adam and Eve is to view them as though you were putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You are trying 
to replicate the picture on the box top. Nobody cares if the picture is real or not. That concern is shelved if it even occurs to someone.

Upon completing the puzzle of a Book that was long regarded as a hodgepodge of conflicting ideas, a hopeless mess that one ought not remotely dream of untangling—and yet the completed puzzle is evidence it has been done . . .  Well, then, at that time you just may want to revisit your assessment as to whether the box top cover is real.

Once you’ve put together the puzzle and have reproduced the picture on the cover, you’re pretty much immune to someone saying you put it together wrong. And when you are cruising down the highway at 60 MPH, even the scientist on the radio telling you your car doesn’t run does not cause undue distress.


******  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'

My Meeting Notes: Week of September 12, 2022

The speaker spun a riddle the answer to which was ‘koala.’ Nobody got it and he apologized for his “low koality” riddle. Had he added a few ‘action’ hints, such as ‘eats eucalyptus leaves,’ instead of just general description adjectives that apply to many animals, doubtless the solution would have presented itself at once. F96E79E0-6C6E-461E-BD93-0B0BC9CE6614

He applied his low koality riddle, which could have been high koality had he but included action hints, to faith. Faith also is made manifest by actions. Without them it is hard to say if it is real or not.

He considered why God wants us to have faith and boiled it down to three factors that benefit us. It puts our minds at ease over past sins, since a ‘clean conscience is the best pillow.’ It calms anxieties over worsening world conditions. And it provides comfort when someone we love dies.

He tied in PTSD, observing that it was once supposed only a consequence of war or terrible violence but is now recognized as a possible consequence to enduring any traumatic experience. Think of it as a “normal reaction to an abnormal experience.” Adapting to a pandemic might so qualify, he said.

It occurred to me as very slick that with the pandemic shutting down Kingdom Halls, a circumstance most disquieting, within the week it was announced that meetings would continue as before, only on “Zoom rooms.” Zoom rooms—it rhymes. Did someone play with Geo Jackson’s words briefly that not only does Jehovah do things but he does them “with style?”

Coming to the role of the faithful and discreet slave as well as appointed elders, he pointed out that their perceived full-time role was not that of teachers, or judges, though they do both of that on occasion, but that of shepherds. “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” Their role is that of full time guardians or watchman. If it seems nannying or overprotective at times (my thought, not his), that’s why. Since the flock was purchased with the blood of God’s Son, they don’t want to be lackadaisical over their job

Isn’t Bro Morris the one who said, ‘the more prestigious the university, the greater the contamination?’ (words to that effect, if not verbatim)

When I mentioned to the prior CO about college, he answered how in his previous well-to-do circuit, out of 100 that had gone to college after high school, only a small handful remained in the truth. I might have thoughts on how to mitigate that damage; still, the bare facts don’t speak well for faith thriving in the higher education environment.


******  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'

A Review of ‘Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses:’ Part 2 (Resolving Matters the Next Time Around)

(See Part 1)

How does an eight to one Supreme Court decision go six to three the other way in just the scan of three years? Did the justices who switched sides have their Acts 9:3 road to Damascus revelation?—“Hey! Why are you guys opposing me? Knock it off!”

The book Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses, by Shawn Francis Peters, examines their later admissions. They were cowed that first time around! They were bullied! They were ‘manipulated!’ Where are the anti-cultists when you need them?

The three ‘flipflopping’ justices were bowled away by the stature of then Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter, who wrote the majority opinion in Minersville School District vs Gobitas: ‘Make those Witness students salute the flag! Kick them out of school if they do not! Oh—and don’t worry about misspelling Gobitis’s name (Court records have it has ‘Gobitas’) Who cares?’

They dared not cross him. “Felix mesmerized us . . . [he] was passionate about the flag and what it meant to him,” one of those justices recalled. Felix was the justice who would walk the corridors of the Supreme Court merrily whistling ‘Stars and Stripes Forvever. (Pg 52) The other three were newbies—scared to take him on!

Moreover, Justice Douglass laments, the powerful dissent of Harlan Stone, author of the minority opinion that later became the majority—he had not yet made that opinion known. When he did, these guys felt it was too late to switch sides. They could have been ‘manipulated’ the other way! Where are the anti-cultists when you need them?

They fretted about it. Coming down to the wire, too chicken to change their vote, Peters’ book quotes Justice Black murmuring, “What are we going to do? Stone is right. . . . But we were wiped out by Felix emotional appeal.”  (P237)  “We decided to redress the wrong the next time around.”

CD5269F9-47F3-4089-AE6C-C0DAE4B3B55FThis calls to mind Parkinson’s Law, that book by C. Northcote Parkinson that undertakes to express “laws” of business and human nature in mathematical terms. Illustrating the law that the time devoted to an item varies inversely to its expense, the author presents a board meeting considering its first item on the agenda, whether to approve construction of an atomic reactor. The item passes almost instantly because few know much about atomic reactors—some don’t even know what one is—but nobody wants to confess their ignorance before their peers. They approve it. However, they do so with many a private misgiving Members inwardly feel that they haven’t pulled their weight. They resolve to make up for that deficiency with the next item.

The next item is whether to construct a bicycle shed for the employees. They discuss at great length, since they didn’t do much on the previous item. However, the ‘great length’ at which they discuss this item is nothing compared with the length of the final item on the agenda—whether to switch brands of coffee for break times.

And so the cowed Justices resolved to “redress the wrong the next time around.”

Don’t think the intent here is to villainize those three, nor even the Justice who wrote the disastrous-for-Witnesses majority opinion. Why disastrous? Because it unleashed a wave of savage persecution against them from the general populace. Estimates range of about 1500 incidences of mob-violence during this period, with beatings a staple, sometimes escalating to tar-and-and feathering, and even the occasional maiming, castration, shooting, and hanging. It was a wrong ripe for “redress the next time around.” Still, I know what it’s like to be newbie on a body. I know what it’s like to be swayed by long-time seniors. Probably everyone does, barring those who are naturally truculent. It happens.

‘Don’t let a bully carry the day’ is the tone of current training for elder bodies. ‘Discuss it thoroughly. Draw out the reticent ones. Don’t just run them down.’ It’s human nature for that to happen. Try to counteract it.

If there’s another lesson to take away, it might be, ‘Don’t be awed by great ones.’ They’re men (in the case of those who are.) They put their pants on one leg at a time (in the case of those who do). Check your reverence for them. Sort of like the Psalm says:

Do not put your trust in princes Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation. His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground; On that very day his thoughts perish.” (146:4-5)

Jehovah’s Witnesses love that scripture. They like the one about a king’s heart being flexible, too, the way it proved to be with the flipflopping three. “A king’s heart is like streams of water in Jehovah’s hand. He directs it wherever He pleases.” (Proverbs 21:1)

I’m still waiting for that to play out with Putin. I’m still waiting that he will look into the banning of the Jehovah’s Witness organization in his country and reverse it. He’s a ‘king’, but he’s also a man with a heart. Now—I’m not holding my breath. But it worked with Ahasuerus, tricked by that day’s opponents to throttle the Jews. Why not he?

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'

Gibbon: Decline and Fall—Why the Fall? Part 2–a take on Psalm 2

From Part 1: “Anti-cultists in particular build upon the notion that it is wrong to depart from the mainstream of rule by human efforts. Any serious consideration of a ‘God’s kingdom’ that calls the shots is disagreeable to them and, they would have you believe, also to you. The human experiment of self-rule is what must consume people. It’s wrong to sit it out, they maintain.”

The cacophony of ‘cult’ accusations over the past 20 years helps to understand Psalm 2. It’s a little hard to understand otherwise, though I’ve tried. I used to play with Psalm 2 in service, observing that nations today are not in agreement on anything, but there is one thing upon which they do agree:

“The kings of the earth take their stand And high officials gather together as one Against Jehovah and against his anointed one.” (Psalm 2:2)  

They’re all united in that. They can’t stand Jehovah and his anointed one. But in what practical way is that loathing manifested?

“They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles And throw off their ropes!’” (vs 3)

It’s not at all clear how that applies—until one considers accusations from the anti-cultists. Service to that ‘cult’ that is the Jehovah’s Witness organization, they say, ‘shackles’ a person. But those anti-cultists would work to ‘free’ them from that ‘bondage’—‘throw off their ropes.’

Their underhanded doings are disguised as efforts to ‘help’ individual Witnesses, freeing them. In Russia, Dvorkin charges that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a “rather oppressive cult which violates the rights of its members, abuses people, and . . . often ruins their lives . . . They deprive them of normal human existence [and] deprive people of normal social life.” (the quotation included in chapter 18 of Don’t Know Why)

It’s crazy talk. Witnesses do the only thing reasonable people can be expected to do: they don’t understand it, at least not at first. But, crazy or not, this kind of reasoning is all the rage today among those who point the ‘cult’ finger.

There must have been similar accusations made toward Christian’s in the first century, for Paul feels obliged to push back at them. “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. (2 Corinthians 7:2) Why would he write such except to counter charges that they had?

Another Psalm says,

“Jehovah will extend the scepter of your power out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies. 118B1CE8-0395-42CF-9C08-213FAA15D1F5Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In splendid holiness, from the womb of the dawn, You have your company of young men just like dewdrops.’” Psalm 110:2-3

‘They’re our dewdrops, dammit, not yours! You can’t have them!’ fume ‘the nations’ as their “peoples [keep] muttering an empty thing?” (Back to Ps 2:1) The ‘empty thing,’ the Research Guide’ points out, and it makes perfect sense, has to do with their sovereignty. Humans can rule the earth their way. They do know what is good and bad, just like the god of this system of things said: “For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen 3:5) They don’t need no stinkin ‘God’s kingdom’ to put them in ‘shackles’ and ‘ropes’ with its own notions of what is good and bad.

This thinking puts pressure on Witnesses everywhere. Paul writes Timothy to “urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made concerning all sorts of men, concerning kings and all those who are in high positions, so that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with complete godly devotion and seriousness.” (1 Tim 2:1-2) That sounds reasonable. If you keep out of the king’s way, obey all his laws, and never speak ill of him, won’t he leave you alone?

Increasingly he will not. It is not enough to not pull against him. He requires you pull for him. Thus, Christian ‘neutrality’ is increasingly not tolerated in ‘authoritarian countries.’ But it also starts to come under fire in more democratic countries too. There you don’t have to pull for the king. You can pull against him if you want. You can pull for his opponent. But you have to pull for someone! If you don’t, you are part of a weird cult and come under fire for not serving the purpose of the greater god of this system of things who champions human rule in all of its manifestations, not just those of authoritarian kings but also of those ‘kings’ who acquiesce to sharing power with the clay of the more democratic governments.

It’s not wrong to consider the human (political reasons) but to be blind to the underlying spiritual reasons is to present a misleading picture


******  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'

My Meeting Notes & Stray Thoughts: Week of September 5, 2022

WatchtowerStudy: The Kingdom Is in Place!

Theme scripture: “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”​—REV. 11:15.

Para 2: Once you have put the puzzle together and replicated the picture on the box cover, you’re pretty much immune to someone coming along and saying, ‘you put it together wrong.’

Para 7, it makes perfect sense, the one bro says, that an incoming government will first get it own act together, show some out the door, then assemble its own cabinet to govern effectively.

Para 10: For most of human history governments did whatever they wanted and there was not a thing you could do about it. That’s why likened to heavens, they rain, burn, freeze,  not a thing you can do about it. But now it is possible to grab the wheel, It is intoxicating to people. Avert this disaster, but only to veer into another one.

Para 11: You would think that as humankind develops and improves, with govt by the people, it would come up with some firm alloy to base the statue upon. Instead it comes up with this cruddy mixture of iron and clay, unstable as all get-out, says one bro.

Para 14: Under divine inspiration, the apostle John saw in vision a prostitute, “Babylon the Great,” which symbolizes the world empire of false religion

Take a wife and you do not expect her to become a prostitute. Yet that can be said of Babylon the Great, which should be faithful to god, but instead forgets all about god if need be to nuzzle up with the commanding rulers of the earth.


It is an unusual video, unsettling, as though suggesting the lack of trust pornography sows in a marriage—suspicion that falls short of certainty but spoils closeness just because it is suspicion:

Spending some time online over who is and who is not an “election denier”. Hoo boy. Now I’m going to join some chums and go out and try to reason with some kingdom deniers.

Here’s a beaut of an image, from Psalm 5:9

“For nothing they say can be trusted; Within them is nothing but malice; Their throat is an open grave”

Imagine how an open grave smells after a week or two,

And the weight of the gold that came to Solomon…666 talents of gold…200 large shields of alloyed gold…300 bucklers of alloyed gold…throne and overlaid it with refined gold…drinking vessels of gold, utensils of pure gold.” 1 Kings10
(even Dined at the Golden Corral) 

His girlfriend:


What can I say? The guy had a thing for the ladies.


(Actually, huge harems were common at that time/place. You’d marry your daughter to the king just to get in good with him. Pity the poor women, who would rarely see the guy & must live nearly celebrate.)

“I will lie down and sleep; And I will wake up in safety” (Psalm 3:5)  Always a plus when you can do this.

Ha! My wife loves the Psalms, as do I. Much there for deep reflection. But when she first read them as a child, she thought, “Man—this guy whines a lot.”


Maybe 1 Kings 9:13 can be adapted to territory assignments. If you look one over and it just doesn’t do it for you, you can say, “What sort of territory is this that you have given me, my brother?”

“You made him a little lower than godlike ones…crowned him with glory and splendor…gave him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put everything under his feet. (Ps 8:5-6)

And you don’t think when inspection comes, verdict will be, ‘Yeah, and they screwed it all up!”

Dreams are nothing but trouble. I wonder if there are people who knock it out of the park in their dreams. Not many, I think. Most often they are vaguely, or even intensely, disquieting. If you have public speaking in your background, you dream of suddenly remembering you’re up next but haven’t prepared and in fact are in your underwear. If you were self-employed, you dream of how for some strange reason you haven’t billed your customer in years yet still must work. Too late to change the routine now, you say.

Oh for crying out loud. Continuing to transcribe my Civil War book. Word stars out Fanny, Hooker, Dix, and of course Negro. So much for my attempts to be an historian.

Then Jesus went on to say . . . “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples” (John 8;31)  For the longest time I thought if you can show you are like first century Christians, you are golden anywhere. It took a while to realize many think religion should evolve, move on, not stay stuck in the past.


******  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'

“If They are From […….] They Will Eventually Ask for Money.” Part 3

See Part 1, Part 2

Poor Africans can get by with very little..... but mange to have fun with things which cost little such as singing, dancing, and sitting and talking. And they always seem yo be happy - the real poor ones,” said Emma, who was born and raised there. 

This led to the unhelpful remark from someone lacking in empathy: 

Too bad you can't get them to stop dancing, sitting and talking and maybe learn to do some farming and engineering upkeep of the infrastructure,” followed up with an example or two of life going to hell in a hand basket. 

Alas, in the USA are to be found people who do much worse than ‘dancing, sitting, and talking.’ They party, drink, and do drugs. My wife had a Zoom student from a very poor city neighborhood—and in the States, that often means dangerous—who had very meager income, in fact, I didn’t know how she could survive (though I found out) who was continually loaning money to her needy neighbors who did all the above things (party, drink, drugs) and more. Universally thought “big-hearted,” anyone could run a sob story past her and walk away with some money—even though she didn’t have it. Turned out credit cards were indirectly fueling her giving. The funny thing about credit cards is that they make it possible for one financial hand to not know what the other is doing.

We helped her with her phrasing. “Look, do not say you are “loaning” money to such and such. Have you ever, ever, EVER been paid back? Say you are “giving” money, making a gift. It is your business if you wish to do it, but call it what it is.”

When people are irresponsible, don’t think it is easy to be tight-fisted in their midst, especially when one has a “big heart.” She came across some bawling and seemingly neglected child who couldn’t answer anything about anything but was plainly in a sorry state. She fed the child, cleaned it, afterwards attended to its other needs which included an immediate nap, after which the unknown child returned home. Next day her mother tried to drop her off while she went out carousing.

Another sis I know was continually giving money, which did not come easily to her, to her eternally needy granddaughter from far away. She only checked herself when, during the course of a visit, the girl revealed how she had spent a fairly large sum having the name of her on-again off-again live-in druggie boyfriend tattooed on a intimate part of her body where the sun don’t shine.

I’ll take “dancing, sitting, and talking” any day.

(See Part 1)

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'

Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Why the Fall?

The speaker Sunday quoted Edward Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) on the peaceful nature of the first-century Christians:

“It was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes,” Gibbon wrote. I included that and three similar quotations in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why in the Statecraft chapter. I chatted up the speaker after the program and he had about fifteen such quotes.

What he did not say is that Gibbon did not admire Christians for their course, as the out-of-context quote might suggest. It was not a plus for him, as it is for us. It was a minus. It is what he holds largely responsible for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, that innovative development of human rule he champions and is sorry to see go.

Here are the other three quotes presented in Don’t Know Why:

“A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius [121-180 C.E.], no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.” (Barnes: The Rise of Christianity),. “It will be seen presently that the evidence for the existence of a single Christian soldier between 60 and about 165 A.D. is exceedingly slight. . . . Up to the reign of Marcus Aurelius at least, no Christian would become a soldier after his baptism.” (Cadoux: The Early Church and the World). “The behavior of the Christians was very different from that of the Romans . . . Since Christ had preached peace, they refused to become soldiers.” (Platt & Drummond: Our World Through the Ages)

They’re not positives for Gibbon. They’re negatives. They sap the will of the country. Let people drop out and who’s going to fight for the Fatherland? Notice that Gibbon goes the farthest in uncovering what Christians would not do. It’s not just soldiering they abstained from. He extends their abstinence to being “magistrates” or “princes.” It ruined the Empire, he says, to have vast swaths of people turn their attention elsewhere, consumed no longer with the nature of the king but with the nature of God and Christ and of the interplay between them. They weren’t taking a stand against the government. They weren’t refusing to obey it laws—in fact, they were pretty good at obeying laws and not stirring up mischief. But they weren’t pulling for the then system-of-things, and this is what Gibbon laments. Rome would in time encounter invaders whose people were 100% behind the cause of human rule (theirs), and then it was goodby for Rome.

So Gibbon didn’t like Christianity. It torpedoed what he thought was the grander project of an innovative system of human rule. Of course, it soon morphed (apostatized) to become less of what he did not like to embrace more of what he did like. In time and by degrees, Christians veered from staying ‘no part of the world’ to decide that they were the ones to fix the world by any means possible. If political maneuvering and wars were among those means possible, so be it. Constantine converted to morphed Christianity, transformed it from persecuted minority to in-time persecuting majority. He did not get baptized until on his deathbed, after he got all that warring out of his system, so even then was the notion that Christians renounce the violence of the age. It was common at the time, says J. Rufus Fears (below), for persons to postpone baptism till the last moment and undergo it as a sort of final cleansing act—a far cry from churches in the present day who perform it on babies as a sort of introductory cleansing act.

2DA2789F-8898-4A8B-9DB8-B6DD38CA60BDGibbon’s condemnation of Christianity is found to various degrees in countries of the here and now. Western ones, by and large, allow religion to be religion. They grant freedom of worship as a fundamental right. But other governments are more machiavellian. Yes, you can have your religion, they say, but religion must know its place. It must not only be subservient to ruling powers, but must advocate for them. For many human governments, and many students of human government, it is not ‘he who is not against us is for us.’ It is ‘he who is not for us is against us.’ Anti-cultists in particular build upon the notion that it is wrong to depart from the mainstream of rule by human efforts. Any serious consideration of a ‘God’s kingdom’ that calls the shots is disagreeable to them and, they would have you believe, to you. The human experiment of self-rule is what must consume people. It’s wrong to sit it out, they maintain,

(A History of Freedom, J Rufus Fears, Lecture 11:  Gibbon on Rome’s Decline and Fall)

To be continued…here

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At the New System Dinner Table: Part 5–Sticking to Script

See Part 1 and Part 2) Part 3 Part 4

The former guard regales his tablemates with how he became a disciple. ‘With Jehovah’s help and the patience of these good people [pass the Bible chips, please] I was baptized before the start of the great tribulation.’

Can you believe it?—Ensconced in his Zoom couch, Oscar Oxgoad appends to the remark, “but it really sucked for those who were only in the middle of their baptism questions!"

What is wrong with him? I mean, you can go there, but why? Think it’s easy writing a Bible drama? It’s not. If you’re content to let your Moses pop Pharaoh in the nose and get the girl it is but we don’t do that. You have to stick to script. It makes for some clunky dialogue now and then, but you have to stick to script. If there’s one thing we know about Jehovah’s people, it is that they will stick to script. 

HQ is locked into that big book they follow. “Baptism, which corresponds to [the ark, in which you had to be on it to survive]  is also now saving you,” says 1 Peter 3:21. They can’t just blow past that verse as though it was nothing. If any of them harbor secret thoughts that God will go all-softy at the last moment like in Nineveh they must keep that to themselves.

It is a consequence of taking ‘knowledge by revelation’—not personal revelation but the revelation coming from God’s communication with us, the Bible. They can’t go ‘empirical evidence’ that God has gone all-softy in the past so maybe he will this time too. They can’t tell him what to do. It’s all very nice to say when individually queried about whether this or that person will make it through Armegeddon, “Well, I’m not Jesus and I don’t know,” but in your video you have to be bound by 1 Peter.

It’s a little like when Bro Morris related at the Atlanta Regional how he desperately needed to have cash on hand by a certain date, that such cash was contingent on the sale of his house, and said house wasn’t selling. “It’s getting a little tight, here,” he related how he had looked heavenward, but then added, “He’s God. He can do what he likes.” Per this theory, God apparently gave him a break, for it did sell at the last second. Relieved, Morris streamlined a few procedures. The buyer commented, ‘It isn’t usually done that way,’ and he retorted, ‘It is today.’

Same here. God gave those Ninevites a pass when they shaped up with seconds to go, but you can’t tell him he must repeat the procedure. He’s God. He can do what he likes and he doesn’t spill on every little thing.

Oscar Oxgoad giving me a hard time over this! And to think his brother Ozzie gives me a hard time the other way! “In my opinion, things will have to reach a point where world powers (or whoever) is seconds away from pushing the nuclear button, and at that point Jehovah will step in to prevent the earth from blowing up,” he says.

Oh yeah, I answered. And the clock will read 666 instead of 007 and the big fried thug will be the one with his horns stuck in the bars. Background music yet to be determined. An original song yet to be composed, no doubt.


(Photo: Den Haag Louwman Museum) 

To be continued: 

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“Is it really every 3,000 miles when we need to change the car oil, or is that BS?”

No, if you find yourself changing the BS every 3,000 miles you have been had by a very sleazy used car salesman.

I dunno. Maybe on the day AI takes over the world we Witnesses will get a fair shake. I mean, the very reason people become Witnesses is that they run counter to some of the completely illogical church doctrines.


You never really know what to attribute to demons, do you? Some parts of the world simply take for granted that demons are actively involved in life. In other parts, the mere mention of demons elicits catcalls and mockery..

Yesterday the visiting speaker spoke of ‘Be wise my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to the one who is taunting me.’

By standing fast in the faith we show up Satan for being the loser he is,’ he said

First time I have heard the Devil called a loser.

**Someone said during the #Watchtowerstudy how Einstein took a cruise and every day explained his theory to a statesman traveling with him. “At the end of our journey, I was fully convinced that he understood it,” the fellow said later.

Application to the study? Jesus fully understands the scriptures too but they are not so complicated that anyone can’t, given just the requisite interest and heart.

When the Russian authorities confiscated the St Petersburg Branch Bethel facilities—they just took it, even though it was private property!—and reassigned it for other uses, I long thought it would be a fine thing were the new users stricken with piles. Like what happened in ancient times when the Ark of the Covenant was captured and sent elsewhere. They all came down with hemorrhoids and had to make statues of their hemorrhoids to appease the God whom they had robbed! Wouldn’t it have been cool if that had happened in St Petersburg?

Alas, it did not. But who’s to say it won’t someday?

JWs are a ‘cult’ if and only if the Bible is a cult manual. If it is, they are. If it is not, they aren’t. They C-word has shifted in meaning over the years. Many groups that were once on one side of it are now on the other.

After that E·liʹsha died and was buried. There were Moʹab·ite marauder bands that would come into the land at the beginning of the year.  21 As some men were burying a man, they saw the marauder band, so they quickly threw the man into E·liʹsha’s burial place and ran off. When the man touched the bones of E·liʹsha, he came to life and stood on his feet.

I hope to catch a break like this someday.

***We’ll know the jig is up should 2 Kings 9:11 ever be selected as the yeartext:

“‘Is everything all right? Why did this crazy man come to you?’ He answered them: ‘You know that sort of man and his sort of talk.’”


In the beginning, God brewed a pot of coffee. To Adam he said, ‘Cream and sugar?’ And Adam said, "I already have Eve; she's all the sweet I need." God did an eye-roll.

“And then God said, ‘Oh, you want schmaltz, do you?’ and opened up the Book of Puns to find a few cornball zingers.”

***Pretending not to be home: Plus, the dog gives you away. While yapping it’s head off at the door, it keeps looking back at you as though to say, ‘Well?—Why don’t you open?’

***‘We don’t know what’s going on in a householder’s life. Maybe his kids are driving him crazy,” says the chairman, himself father of a four-year-old—the one who can’t wait to haul out that vacuum cleaner at meeting’s end and must settle for a feather duster instead.

No, the expression ‘iron curtain’ was not first coined by gerbils at the of WWII [Thank you, A.I.]

It was first coined by [Nazi officer] Goebbels

Nobody says, ‘I’ll bet that picture’s not real,” when assembling a jigsaw puzzle, replicating the box photo. They do it anyway, regardless. Same with the Bible. How many think Adam is real? yet nothing makes sense without him. Do it like a jigsaw puzzle. … 1/2Just seeing the picture come together can be enough to reassess what is real. … 2/2

It is hard to think ‘anti-cult’ idiocy was not also alive in the 1st century, for Paul defends against it:

“We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.” 2 Corinthians 7:2

Why would he say this unless the charge was made then, as today?

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'