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The Earthiness of the Bible—Is Baal Really Taking a Dump?

In the process of writing up a summary of last week’s Watchtower, what grabs my attention is the line Elijah freely gives to all future comedians—that Baal is a no-show because he is taking a dump. Starting with that verse:

“And it came about at noon that E·liʹjah began to mock them and say: “Call at the top of YOUR voice, for he is a god; for he must be concerned with a matter, and he has excrement and has to go to the privy.” (1 Kings 18:27)

Most translations, as though run by board-certified prudes, do all they can to obscure the unsavory phrase. Says the King James Version: “And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

The New International Version: “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

‘Busy’ doing what? A few translators, thinking themselves very risqué, no doubt, nudge toward greater explicitness: “Occupied” (BSV) “Attending to business,” (NASB)

Okay, but again, what kind of business?

“Relieving himself,” says ESV

The Contemporary English Version, shoving aside all decorum, says he is “using the toilet.” One almost expects to hear flushing in the next verse, as though Archie Bunker is upstairs.

“On the potty,” says CLB

Only the New World Translation says what he is doing  there.

If you want to hear the unvarnished word of God, who does not shy from earthiness, you read the New World Translation. But if you are even more pure than God, you go to some translation where they go weak at the knees if the text seems to indicate a naughty word. (‘They sh*t their pants,’ as a bold workman of the language would put it, but not as they themselves would.)

(See: )

The Bible is earthy. God is not squeamish

Don’t get me going on ‘piles.’ One local brother waxed ecstatic in how Jehovah so humiliated Dagon and his worshippers—by requiring them to fashion hemorrhoids from gold in order for the plague to go away. Can you imagine them looking into each other’s rear ends to satisfy themselves on what they looked like in order to make an accurate copy?

Even today, most cultures have no squeamishness on earthy things:

Speaking with a certain missionary and the subject of vomiting and pooping comes up—not as a subject in itself, but in connection with food poisoning, a not infrequent occurrence in her assigned land. “It says something about a culture in which there is a single word for ‘coming out both ends,’” she says.

Somehow—don’t ask me how—modern lands of germ-free progress manage to eliminate the earthiness but keep the filth. See “The Normalization of the F-Bomb.” It reminds me of that verse about people whose throats are like an open grave. Do you have any idea what an open grave smells like a after a week or two?


Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal wasn’t the main thrust of the WatchtowerStudy: ‘Jehovah Watches Over His People.’ (Theme verse: “The eye of Jehovah watches over those fearing him.”​—PS. 33:18)—in fact it wasn’t even mentioned. I just got sidetracked.

Someone said during the study itself how if you do everything right, and your doing everything right has been verified by God (consuming the burnt offering whereas Baal could not consume his), you do not expect to be banished and have to run for your life. You expect to be hoisted and carried around on people’s shoulders, have newspaper headlines herald your victory, receive a phone call from the president. You don’t expect the queen to make death threats.

No wonder it messed with Elijah’s head. 

So when the article said, “Why, then, did Elijah feel so alone?… The account does not fully explain Elijah’s feelings.” (Para 4) Well, I guess not, but you can make a pretty good stab at it—see above paragraph.

“But what we do know for sure is that Jehovah understood why Elijah felt alone and that He knew exactly how to help him.” (also from paragraph 4) 

He runs away. God finally catches up with him, hears him out. 

To this he said: “I have been absolutely zealous for Jehovah the God of armies; for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, your altars they have torn down, and your prophets they have killed with the sword, and I am the only one left. Now they are seeking to take my life away.”

Reinforcing the study article was a video during the midweek meeting of Geo Jackson dealing with the same account, bailing out Elijah in three ways

One: the problem will be solved.

Two: help given in the form of Elisha.

Three: No, you’re not the only one, there’s at least 7K others,

*** Miscellaneous thoughts during the week:

The gruff German grandma down the road loaded me up with enough pears from her tree to last weeks. I was just walking by with headphones on, the way I do, and greeted her as she was crossing the street. Turned out she had just returned from giving a load to people there, also.

My greeting was enough. She pulled me into her yard and made me take some of her pears. However many I took, it was not enough, and I left with a bag as heavy as I could carry. So I brought them to the congregation get-together where several young children who had never eaten pears before dove into them, found them delicious, and probably had the runs for a week.

My wife has called on this women before in the course of her ministry. ‘I don’t think she’s interested,’ she says. ‘She’s gruff, but underneath decent.’ So I told her my wife’s verdict, which I agree with. I’ve been back since for more pears and even some apples.


Huh! I just visited someone who has his Bible collection immediately adjacent to some comic strip collections just so he can explain (‘my wife is so tired of hearing this,’ he says) ‘If it’s not in the Bible, it’s a joke.’


The speaker referred to ‘every time you feed your faith’ and do you know what I heard, living in a land of overweight people?


“Now the servants of the king of Syria said to him: “Their God is a God of mountains. That is why they overpowered us. But if we fight against them on level land . . . .” (1 Kings 20:23)

So they tried them again on the flatlands and they found Jehovah does pretty good there too.


And let us not forget Jezebel trying to make it hot for Naboth, a course of action that necessitates her finding some “good for nothing men.”

Close your eyes and trying to visualize the scene. Picture Jezebel taking out an ad in the classifieds: ”Help wanted: good for nothing men.” 

“Um—that would be me,” qualified applicants would reply.

(Yes, the classic. The child says to his mom. Mom if I am good and do a chore for you, will you give me something. She says to her child. " Why can't you be good for nothing like your dad?)


Been spending time with some relatives who refer to GPS as “the woman in the box.” Upon getting lost, it is “You should have listened to the woman in the box.”


******  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'

Psalm 18–Bending Those Heavens Like Einstein

Imagine needing rescue from “the faultfinding of the people.” (Psalm 18:43) Bad news to be harangued by those characters—dinging away at you while they claim to be on your side. “When you know as well as me you’d rather see my paralyzed,” Dylan puts it.

It’s not so bad as being caught up in a “flash flood of worthless men.” (vs 9) Weathering Hurricane Ian is less terrifying than that—even B2D285A7-C155-4AC6-9090-7FEA9FAB3A5Dthough Ian completely took out the Fort Myers Beach pier that I had walked on many times.

That devastated resort area completely gives the lie to my remark in ‘Go Where Tom Goes,’ that while many of the book’s short travelogues were written years ago, including that of Fort Myers Beach, not much will have changed. My bad. There’s nothing left of it.

“Flash floods of worthless men” trigger God to “bend the heavens down and descend,” an image for which you can be forgiven if you think of Einstein. It is trouble for the troublemakers when he does that. They’ve been encircling the loyal ones with whom God himself will act loyally (vs 25) with “ropes of death, (vs 4) “ropes of the Grave,” and “snares of death.” They call to Jehovah and he heeds them.

It’s all but target practice then. Thick gloom is beneath his feet as he descends (vs 9), but he lights it up with “his lightning” to throw “them into confusion.” (vs 14) Things covered are uncovered: “The streambeds became visible; The foundations of the land were exposed by your rebuke. (vs 15) Things (like the psalmist) in danger of being covered over are uncovered: “He reached down from on high; He took hold of me and pulled me from deep waters,” like pulling a Floridian from Ian.

Upon which, the psalmist is thankful. Would you not be too? “[Jehovah] rescues me from my angry enemies; You lift me high above those who attack me; You save me from the man of violence. That is why I will glorify you among the nations, O Jehovah, And to your name I will sing praises.” (48-49)

Only a small minority of translations render Psalm 18:4 as “flash floods of worthless men.” Most don’t add any human element at all—a common rendering is “torrents of destruction.” But the fact that some do suggests to me that the ones that don’t are wussing out. Maybe they succumb to the modern trend that while its okay to judge actions, one ought not judge people—whatever harshness the Hebrew writer has uttered they will soften. “Rivers of wickedness” is a common choice, as though rivers themselves can be wicked.

Floods “of ungodliness” or of “ungodly men” is the better choice of some. One might think of the Watchtower’s explanation that “the knowledge of Jehovah” being widespread throughout the earth is a circumstance that does not affect zebras, or any other animal. Rather, it is a circumstance of humans who once lived as animals. Therefore, while the Isaiah 11 prophesy of “the lion shall lay down with the lamb” may well find fulfillment in animals getting along, the real fulfillment lies in how persons who once ripped and devoured each other like wild beasts will no longer do so.

Similarly, waves don’t get ungodly all by themselves, but waves “of the worthless” (YLT) do.

***five of the Biblegateway translations had significantly different readings. NABRE is an example, which renders 18:4 as: ”Praised be the Lord, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.” There’s a note somewhere that it is a Masoritic correction. I have to research it further. It does have in common with the others that the trouble is with humans—enemies—and not just with some vague ‘forces of destruction,’ or ‘perdition’ as some translations say. 


******  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'

Anti-cultists: Adding a New Level of Craziness to an Already Unstable World

Russian anti-cult lawyer Alexander Korelov spins the latest sinister plot against Jehovah’s Witnesses. They’re scheming to overthrow the Putin government! he charges. From their “Brooklyn headquarters” they’re so scheming! So reports this BitterWinter article.

Sheesh. They moved out of Brooklyn five years ago. Now, Ivan Q Public might not know it. It’s not his special interest. But it is that of Korelov, who  bills himself as an expert. If he doesn’t know where Witnesses are, he probably doesn’t know anything else. When a medical doctor probes for my amygdala in my great toe, it’s time for me to get a second opinion.

Do the Russian anti-cultists not speak at all to their Western anti-cult brethren? The Western anti-cultists will lambaste Jehovah’s Witnesses for just the opposite reason—for taking absolutely no interest in politics or any other aspect of “normal” life. It is due to the Witnesses’ take on remaining “no part of the world.” They barely know who prominent politicians are, and almost never know of the interplay between them. When I mentioned Eliot Spitzer to a good Witness friend of mine, he replied that, yes, he had heard the name, but he couldn’t quite place him. Spitzer was governor of the state he lived in at the time.

Jehovah’s Witnesses lack of interest in political affairs is exactly that of Christians of the first century who were roundly derided for having just as much interest in civic affairs—namely, none, as they pursue their worship of God and announce his incoming kingdom, that of the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ When that kingdom comes—brought about entirely by God; all humans can do is announce and support it—then and only then will “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Theirs is strictly a religious message. It has nothing to do with human political regimes—let alone trying to interfere with one. They are watching the drama play out of human government vs the divine—‘God’s Kingdom.’ You don’t have to know the names of the actors to follow the play. It can even be a distraction if you do.

Read Watchtower publications and you will almost never see political leaders mentioned by name. Here is one current as I write: “Politicians Warn of Armegeddon: What Does the Bible Say?” See how light it is on specific individuals? It’s even frustrating to those who want to keep up with “current events.” But to the vast majority of people who don’t have time for the machinations of politicians but only want insight on where the world is heading—and why—it is useful indeed.

Russian anti-cultists sound the paranoid mantra just as do their Western anti-cultist allies—only the mantras are opposite. Say a peaceful word about Russia here and it can only be due to cult influence. No reasonable person thinks this way, but the anti-cultists buy into it wholesale. In the US is the anti-cultist founder of the BITE model denoting the behavioral, informational, thought, and emotional control that are the bread and butter of ‘cults.’ To me, he therefore becomes the BITEman.

The BITEman thinks half the U.S. citizenry has fallen victim cult manipulation—strong evidence, methinks, of having drunk too much of the KoolAid himself. Moreover, the half that has fallen victim to cult manipulation is the half that supports the former president who spoke of it being nice if “we actually got along with Russia.” Outside interests intervened at that point to virtually ensure that “we” would not.

And now here in Russia is this Alexander Korelov, an anti-cultist of opposite persuasion, who blames all opposition to Russia, particularly with regard to Ukraine, on cults! The unity of the FECRIS anti-cult organization instantly blows up upon worldwide conflict. The organization in the main stays pro-Western over Ukraine. It’s vice-president, Alexander Dvorkin, thoroughly backs the Russian side. Not to worry, his ally Korelov says: Russia will react and “destroy the United States, the spiritual garbage dump of humanity.”

94E1ECA3-523C-42C0-9178-D08961897D35Back to the US: two sharply polarized forces, the woke left and the neoconservative right, have made common cause to war on Russia, oblivious to talk on nuclear war, convinced it is but empty bluster. Both of them might regard each other as a cult, but only the woke would say it—the neocons (to my knowledge) are not given to that vocabulary. See how the notion is explored in this Newsweek opinion piece.

Does it not remind one of the “unclean inspired expressions [that looked] like frogs [from] the mouth” of the dragon, the wild beast, the mouth of the false prophet designed to gather people up for the final war? (Revelation 16:13-14)

The world was already unstable. Anti-cultists on both sides take it to a new level of craziness—wildly accusing each other of being cults. Somehow, the people who take no interest in politics get caught in the crossfire. And to think that during the 1970s, this Witness born in America used to work with the tract “Jehovah’s Witnesses—Christians or Communists,” designed to counter exactly the opposite impression of Korelov: that Jehovah’s Witnesses were tools of the Russian government.

(photo:—public domain)

(see succeeding BitterWinter article:


See: I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why


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'

Psalm 13: Preparing Those Prayers Like Incense

Even while lodging strong complaint, this fellow (Psalm 13) does not neglect praise and thanksgiving:

Complaint: “How long, O Jehovah, will you forget me? Forever?” (vs 1)

P & T:  As for me, in your loving-kindness I have trusted… I will sing to Jehovah, for he has dealt rewardingly with me. (5-6)

Though not in the article, it illustrated well certain points of October 2’s Watchtower Study: ‘Treasure Your Privilege of Prayer.’ (Theme scripture: “May my prayer be as incense prepared before you.”​—PS. 141:2)

Not every prayer is going to be praise and thanksgiving. But put it in the backdrop if you can.

It squares too with counsel from a certain psychologist that it’s good to view matters in certain lights even if those lights do not seem to most accurate ways in which to view them. Gratitude works best, even when one seems not to have immediate reason to be grateful.

Since you prepare your prayer “as incense,” 9C2B5B58-C4E2-4988-95BF-CA7B6216E43DExodus 30:34-35 was cited: “Then Jehovah said to Moses: “Take equal portions of these perfumes: stacte drops, onycha, perfumed galbanum, and pure frankincense. Make it into an incense . . .skillfully blended, salted, pure, and holy.

Don’t screw it up. Best not get too sloppy about it, in other words. You can only take this application so far because you were toast if you got the incense wrong whereas it is not so with prayer—but still, best not get too sloppy over it. It’s not a barroom chum you’re addressing.

Praise and thanksgiving is always in the background, always constitutes the greater framework of the prayer. As with music. Note all notes go together. Most don’t. Make sure yours do—like a harmonious backdrop even in a prayer with pointedly another object.


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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'

Toynbee and the Humanist Getaround of Nationalism

These people really think they can bring a new world government by breaking down everything in the old financial, food, water and energy systems and land reform. (Almost like a Bolshevik revolution).

I remember Watchtower dramatizations a decade or three back in which the Witness high school student calls attention to a Toynbee quote about the plague of nationalism. The intent was that classmates and teacher would recognize how nationalism sabotages all efforts toward a peaceful world, therefore there can be no hope other than God’s kingdom.

Never was it envisioned then that humanists would also recognize the treachery of nationalism and so scheme to thwart it via another means of human government, now taking shape in the UN.

Anything so as not to submit. “The kings of earth take their stand And high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one.” (Ps 2:2)

The next verse? “Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!” God’s kingdom does that in a way that the “kings of the earth” recognize and protest against? I think it finds fulfillment in the anti-cult movement sweeping the earth which pushes the notion that serving Jehovah enmeshes one in a “cult”, takes them out from “normal” life, and in that way puts “bands” and “cords” upon them.

My wife and I are halfway through the movie Mr Jones about a Welsh journalist who exposed Stalin-induced 1930s famine in the Ukraine. The Jones’ family disputes the movie on several counts: but concede it has its good points too. It wasn’t just Ukrainian starvation Jones chronicled, it was throughout all the Soviet Union.

The point is it was purely a manmade calamity. Today there are myriad manmade calamities underway. Energy deprivation via destruction of Nordham comes to mind. Even before, energy prices are soaring to the point that many businesses simply shut down. With the goal of battling climate change, countries are signing onto plans that upend all that is stable in favor of all that is untested and unstable. And it remains to be seen how many conspiracy theories over the mRNA vaccines will be validated. Many assertions that would once get you banned from Twitter are now being admitted by official sources, such as this recent admission of Pharma execs that they didn’t actually have time to see if their product worked to stop transmission of the virus since they were traveling “at the speed of science.”

“Do you know why I stopped you, sir?” “Not exactly, officer. All I know is that I was traveling at the speed of science.”

Thus while the UN is powerless in some regard, governments enact their own laws and policies in accord with its goals. 


See also: On Conspiracy Theories


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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 Psalm 10: “This Guy Whines too Much?” Or Just the Right Amount?

“[The wicked one] waits in ambush near the settlements . . . 4BAD6B9F-FC60-43F5-81A3-FD02808BEA18His eyes are watching for an unfortunate victim. He waits in his hiding place like a lion in its lair. He waits to seize the helpless one. . . . The victim is crushed and brought down.” (Psalm 10:8-10)

I don’t really know anyone like this. Even of the sleazy mechanic who billed me for a new carburetor on my Tesla I wouldn’t go that far.

On and on the psalmist goes about how the wicked one shakes you like a dog with a rat. I begin to see why Rosie said when she first read the psalms as a young girl, “Man, this guy sure whines a lot!” Who in the world is he talking about?

They picked on him a lot back in the day, I suppose, but today, while the verse might not find fulfillment in your neighbor who plays his music too loud, you could apply it to machinations of humans, be they political parties, governments, or powers transcending governments who push schemes, sometimes will full knowledge they are making you trouble, doing so for their idea of the ‘greater good.’ That scenario fits the tone of the psalm. It’s not for nothing that the Bible likens governments to ‘the heavens.’ They drench you one moment, scorch you the next, freeze you after that, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Verses like #4 suggest it’s all the work of the atheists:

“In his haughtiness, the wicked man makes no investigation; All his thoughts are: “There is no God.’”

Sometimes it is that way but it is not necessarily so. Other verses allow that they may acknowledge there’s a God but count him as a non-factor.

“He says in his heart: “God has forgotten. He has turned away his face. He never notices.” (vs 11)

Besides, here’s a commentator (in connection with ‘the senseless one who says in his heart ‘there is no Jehovah’) who says there were no atheists back then, at least not enough to single out as a class: “It never occurred to any writer of the OT [Hebrew Scriptures] to prove or argue the existence of God. . . .It is not according to the spirit of the ancient world in general to deny the existence of God, or to use arguments to prove it. The belief was one natural to the human mind and common to all men.” Dr. James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible.

It matters little to say there is a God. What matters is what attributes you assign to him. As much as we think it dated that ancient peoples worship different gods, and say ‘Isn’t there just one God?’ if we hold to radically different views of God, is it not in effect different gods that we envision? Just like you mention Howie Horseradish and I say ‘I know that guy!’ But when further discussion reveals that the attributes and physical qualities don’t line up, I say, ‘Oh, I guess I don’t know him after all. We’re speaking of two persons who happen to share the same name.’

I’ll take God with the attributes he assigns himself. Who are these characters that assign him whatever attributes they find convenient? I’ll take the overall lesson of the psalm. They’re cocky as all get-out but God will eventually set matters straight. It’s an underlying theme of the Bible. Humans insist upon self-rule (the underlying Genesis message of knowing ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ God says, ‘Don’t try it—you’ll mess it all up.’ They do so anyway. God says, ‘Alright, I allot you such-and-such an amount of time to make good on your claim. When the time is up, we’ll see what kind of a world you’ve made.’

“[The wicked one] says in his heart: ‘I will never be shaken; For generation after generation I will never see calamity.’” (vs 6)

What says the psalmist of God? “Rise up, O Jehovah. O God, lift up your hand. . . . you do see trouble and distress. You look on and take matters in hand. To you the unfortunate victim turns. . . . Break the arm of the wicked and evil man, So that when you search for his wickedness, You will find it no more.” (vs 12-15)


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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 3: Two Horrendous Court Decisions

See Part 1 and Part 2

Like a cult leader looking on in dismay as his sheep scatter, Frankfurter saw his eight to one majority opinion slamming Jehovah’s Witnesses morph into a three to six minority opinion in just three years. He didn’t take it well. Drawing on World War II lingo, he began to refer to the flipflopping three as ‘the Axis.’ (Pg 238) He was “livid” over their defection and appended an “angry” marginal note to his own records. (the author’s words both, from ‘Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses.’) His biographer opines he “prepared for the reversal [of Gobitis] as a proud but doomed gunfighter would approach his final shootout.”

Proud, angry, livid—none of those words will get you in good with the Universal Court of Appeals. Nor do dire warnings of doom help one’s cause: “The stability and credibility of the Court were undoubtedly shaken,” Frankfurter suggested, when justices like Black, Douglas, and Murphy ignore precident and disavowed a ruling they had enthusiastically supported just a few years earlier.” (pg 257)

They hadn’t ‘enthusiastically supported’ it. They’d been bullied. (see prior post) Adding insult to injury, the new six-to-three majority “ridiculed Frankfurter’s suggestion that flag-salute requirements were crucial to the preservation of national security.” (Peters— p235) And—rub it in why don’t you?—the six-to-three reversal of Gobitis was announced on June 4, 1943—Flag Day, as though to affirm that the flag stands for more than just blindly saluting it whenever some man tells you to, and to rebuke those who would claim otherwise.

(Plainly, three flipflopping justices does not account for eight to one becoming three to six. Two other Justices had retired in the interim, two replacements coming on board.)

Writing the majority opinion in Gobitis, Justice Frankfurter was now charged with writing the minority opinion. He pulled out all the stops, much to the dismay of colleagues, who thought his dissent far too personal, even playing the R-card (religion): “One who belongs to the most vilified and persecuted minority in history is not likely to be insensitive to the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution,” he opened, as he went on to reaffirm his original view.

Yet even here one can be selective in what one focuses upon. He might have drawn upon the fact that, whereas his minority was suffering horribly in the German concentration camps at that time, so were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Moreover, none of Jehovah’s Witnesses had put his people in those camps, yet here he was sitting with fellow justices—Roman Catholic and Protestant background alike—whose fellow religious members had!

If we look for pithy observations of the difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses and greater society, the preceding just may be one of them. To Witness, their worship is everything, and it is axiomatic that their faith will make them unified—all one body, though in many members, says Paul. To those of the greater religious world it is rarely that way. Religion to them is at most a molding force to them, seldom a dominant one, and the notion that religious members should act in a unified way is too bizarre to merit serious consideration.

Witness attorney Hayden Covington compared the 240EC17B-9C76-4B69-8ABA-036DF6DBE4BAGobitis decision to the horrendous Dred Scott decision of 1857 that prioritized the interests of slaveholders over slaves even in free states. It’s a statement of Covington but, judging from contemporary press and legal review, it is a statement most others would acquiesce to. I wonder if Covington knew, or if Peters in quoting him, that Justice Frankfurter had also had called it “one of the Court’s great self-inflicted wounds”* before himself going on to inflict another—and then go down in flames defending that infliction.

The tests facing those determined to worship God change. Within the month I have spoken to someone who as a boy recalls getting beat up for not saluting the flag. I also spoke with a Witness teenager who classmates have made it their “purpose in life” (her words) that she should start vaping. Flag-salute is a complete non-issue for her. Could it be, as Witness opponents might assert, that members refusal to salute has cascaded into the gross disrespect shown the flag today?

I think not. Two years after Gobitis, the American Legion (relentless instigators of Witness persecution) sponsored Public Law 623, which codified flag-salute protocol into what Witnesses had said all along they had no objection to. Though hand-over-heart was preferred, replacing the stiff-armed Nazi-like salute, standing in silence in “respectful attention” appeared to be enough. (pg 246) Witnesses were willing to do that then. They do it now. Meanwhile, the overall world has gone from outright worship of the flag to wearing it for bandanas and underwear. Even driveway ‘patriots’ leave their flags exposed to the elements where it is torn into shreds.

(*Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals, chapter 6)

To be continued…

******  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'