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The Playbook of the Enemy


An early 2023 Watchtower Study dealt with those who say ill things about Jehovah’s Witnesses in general and responsible brothers in particular. Quite a few articles do that these days.

One sis commented on how, after the meeting, many of us would be watching football. I knew her comment to be true because I was going to be one of them. Not that I am a football fanatic—I’m not—but the recent resurgence of the Bills after decades in the basement has piqued the interest of many. She further said that each team prepared for the game by studying the playbook of the other so that they could catch every little trick to be used against them.  ‘We do that too,’ she said. We have the playbook of the adversary. So we can know we are well-prepared and need not unduly fret no matter how much grief comes from those who oppose, even should they be apostates.

It’s not really true. In a sense it is, but only ‘in a sense.’ What we have is the ‘NFL Compendium Grand Strategic Play History Including Coach Commentary and Famous Player Roster.’ From there maybe you can deduce the opposing team’s playbook, but it is not easy to do. You never get more than an approximation. 

In this particular game, the opposing team’s playbook incorporated several Bengals A67D1CE1-4471-455D-9D97-717BD02D283A
making snow angels in the accumulating precip just after one of them intercepted a pass that once and for all put an end to any Bills threat. Think you’re going to get that from the NFL Compendium Grand History? Snow Angels! Those punks made snow angels! Like little kids! And when another one of them slapped down a would-be touchdown pass, he ran half the length of the field to rejoin his teammates, shaking his finger as though to say, ‘No, no, no! Not this time!’ I mean, the home team took a thorough drubbing and at the next-day news conference the talk was all of which heads would roll—as if nothing bad can happen without a few heads offered up in sacrifice!

If we really had the opposing spiritual team’s playbook we would be familiar with the current specific doings of apostates. But this we are strongly exhorted to be as clueless about as possible—in the spirit of ‘innocent as doves.’ Just listen to Brother Losch listing 100 metaphors for truth, and consider that your defense. It’s not nothing, but how much of a defense is it really?

These days the young are not especially religious. We might (and do) carry on about how they are leaving the churches in the West, but they are leaving the Kingdom Hall setting too. Some will say they are yet ‘spiritual’ but the word is so redefined that simply ‘looking deep within oneself’ may trigger it.

A good number of those young people who leave the Hall, it seems, are over at a former member forum. Is it not more than ridiculous that the only one who should know about this in the congregation is me? And that I should be looked at askance because of it—not that specifically but just a known interest in ‘the other team’s playbook.’  I thrive despite the stigma because I am otherwise considered a pretty good guy. But don’t think you can hold any privilege in the congregation, maybe to the point of carrying a mic, with such a stigma. I don’t mind. It’s discipline. If you want to represent any group you must ‘toe the line’ more than if you only wish to be among it. I don’t try to explain to shepherds what can be done properly on social media and what cannot be done. Since their own use of it is minimal at best and often non-existent, all you can do is provide grist for the mill of misunderstanding.

In that forum of malcontents where some are out, others are physically in but mentally out (PIMO), the majority of comments take the tone of high school students mocking out their teachers for bloopers that are sometimes real, sometimes imagined, and always exaggerated. A minority of comments, however, will have a more mature tone. These ones ‘promise the younger ones freedom’ without regard to who may or may not be  ‘slaves to corruption.’ Any familial division revealed? These ones will seek to widen it, thus ensuring there will never be healing. They present the general world as an oyster promising unbounded fulfillment—whereas anyone with a lick of sense knows it to be in dire straits, if not going down the tubes. 

They might not be able to do that were Witnesses not so ‘insular.’ That statement is one to make with caution, because ‘insularity’ and ‘no part of the world’ are flip sides of the same coin, similar to the relationship between ‘obstinate’ and ‘tenacious.’ You don’t want to be seen as discouraging ‘no part of the world.’ Jesus demands his people be that way. And even with being ‘insular’—try removing the insulation on your house wiring if you think ‘insular’ is so horrible. But anything Witnesses do, they do to the nth degree. Sometimes you wish things were more nuanced.

You can’t do the following with just anyone and I don’t do it routinely, but every so often as a joke I propose we go into what I call the ‘pickpocket ministry.’ I don’t propose it as much as I do street work on the thruway—slap a tract under the wiper as the cars roar by. No. But once in a while, before someone known to have a sense of humor, I do.

In the pickpocket ministry, you work in twos. Your deft partners lifts a person’s wallet as they walk by and lets it fall to the ground. Then you pick it up and return it to the person, explaining that you would never ever ever do so were it not for the Bible principles you learned as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It’s a joke. I’ve never heard of anyone besides myself referring to the ‘pickpocket ministry.’ Yet some of our people view the greater world that way. You wish things would be more nuanced. At the music festival I attended, a ‘long-haired hippy type,’ the kind in the song who ‘need not apply,’ tapped me on the should to return the wallet that had slipped out of my pocket. I thanked him. Then I turned around to thank him more proper. He gave a gesture as if to say, ‘But of course—it’s not a big deal.’ Even the wallet I dropped on an excursion in Canada (Just try getting back into the country without one—it is doable but it’s anything but a cakewalk.) was returned to me. Someone called to say he had found it and asked how it could be returned. (Though, when I asked about the money inside, he said, ‘What money?’)

The point is that there are plenty of people who will do the right thing, often even when the stakes are high. Yet that bit of nuance is something our kids have not picked up on. Put them in the ex forum where they discover that the risks of the world are not guarantees and many of them carry on as though there are no risks—it was all scaremongering on the Witness organizations part! a result of ‘overplaying their hand.’

We Witnesses live in black-and-whites. This is to be expected of people who respond to Jesus’ ‘You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:32) Christianity that adheres to the Bible does not primarily attract ‘nuanced’ people. ‘Gray area’ people don’t apply. ‘What is truth?’ people like Pilate don’t apply. Dogmatic people, on the other hand, apply in droves. It’s because the Bible presents a basic sense of right and wrong. But you would hope people would not stay dogmatic, as many of our people seem to do.

Ida Brexit once related how she didn’t want to be caught flat-footed in case her then-teenager was stumbled by apostasy. She made it her business to unpackage the stuff so that she could provide assistance should that happen. It made perfect sense to me. Our young people succumb to the oldest trick in the book, that of ‘curiosity killed the cat.’ They come across something that stumbles them. Thereafter no one is able to help them, even parents, because nobody has any idea of what it is they have come across. We speak, as did another sister at that above Watchtower Study, about the ‘lies’ of apostates without knowledge beyond the vaguest generalities of just what those lies are. Moreover, the youngster just mentioned must contend with the onus of being supposed ‘disloyal’ for even looking there—even if his or her initial motive was to defend the faith. Even if he/she would like to get parental insight, he won’t dare ask for fear an explosion might result. And the ‘mature’ parent who might otherwise give corrective guidance does not go there either so as not to be similarly ‘disloyal.’

Of course, it’s easy to understand why the stance is what it is. Essentially, it is ‘The Bible says so.’ ‘What harmony is there between Christ as Belial?’ ‘Keep your eye on those causing division and avoid them.’ ‘Don’t be a sharer of wicked works by even saying a greeting,’ and so forth. I get it where it comes from: the Bible, and Witnesses are a Bible people. However, it sure makes for some downsides both ludicrous and tragic. Alas, I ran Ida’s seemingly practical course through the site where ‘never is heard a discouraging word’ and I was roundly chastised over it.

Now, if there is a downside to following current counsel, there is also a downside to not following it. Do I know that such downside is not worse? I have in the past expressed worry for Ida because she puts under the tooth comb of suspicion any piddly little statement that others blow off as a nothingburger. But she is a ‘why? why? why’ person and I suppose such persons must be satisfied. Her devotion to Jehovah is solid, she assures us. I just hope we don’t get a ‘flee to the mountains’ someday and she says, ‘You’re joking!’ [Not to worry—she says she likes mountains and it won’t happen.]

It’s all very well for me to float ‘alternative counsel’ as trial balloons, but I’m not “keeping watch over you as those who will render an account.” (Hebrews 13:17) The earthly shepherds are. I don’t have to render an account (hopefully) when people heed my incautious words and some fall flat on their face. They do. How much skin you have in the game makes a big difference in how you play it.

On the other hand, hoards of Westerners are falling flat on their face now. The spirit of young people is bold. It is not given to continual warnings of ‘Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!’ The spirit of the young is not given to be continually ‘protected.’ Same as with a party, if there’s a brawl going on somewhere, it wants to be part of it. Why not do a ‘avoid toxic people’ not as a matter of ‘loyalty,’ but just because they are toxic? Any psychologist will back you up on that one—and man, o man—are the malcontents ever toxic on the internet!

Back when we homeschooled—it is a move I have never regretted, even though there is a non-educational downside of not knowing where the agencies are (some of those agencies can be helpful), because my son entering community college, the first classroom he had ever seen save for the 6th grade, said in all innocence, “I had no idea there were so many stupid people”—back in those days we subscribed to a newsletter called, ‘Growth Without Schooling.’ It’s founder, John Holt, was of the opinion that much juvenile delinquency stemmed from teens being barred from the adult world under the guise of protecting them. Thus, a local family who ran a grocery store got into serious trouble with Child Protective Services when their teen took her turn behind the cash register upon returning from school.

Let youths join in the adult world as their maturity allows. Will some fall? No doubt some will, along with some of the Ida-like parents who go there to help them. But it may be a like when I ran by Jim Whitepebble the local attrition rate for those who go to college and he says it much resembled the attrition rate for those who didn’t go.

The organizational goal is to protect. It is that of the scriptural sheepfold with the shepherd eyes peeled in watch for the wolves. Since it is scripture, and scripture is what drives the Witnesses, it will not readily yield to adaptation. This is true even though some come to feel this protection is to the point of smothering and that it sells them short, as if completely disregarding any possibility that a person might confront apostasy and, not only remain loyal, but become stronger for it, indignant and thereafter become a stalwart for staring into the abyss and when it started staring back at him kicking its butt.

Even with adults it works this way. Thus, there is that convention video of the one with decades of faithful service to God who quit serving Him after reading material ‘critical of the organization.’ No possibility is offered that he might have become livid and spurred himself on to a greater defense or even counterattack of that ‘yellow journalism.’ How can even adults not become all but superstitious over the A-word? It is no more than ‘Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things’ in 100 different variations. Knowing what those variations are one might equate with ‘knowing the playbook of the opposing team.’

I would never recommend someone go traipsing through these ex-sites. The hostility there is breathtaking. Do not think you are going to persuade anyone to ‘Return to Jehovah.’ What you’ll find is that when parents send wayward youths a ‘Return to Jehovah’ message, they post it online for ridicule. But the all-but-forbidding it on pain of being thought disloyal approach isn’t working especially well either. Plus, it is so easily portrayed as sticking one’s head in the sand and submitting oneself to be fitted with blinders as though an animal as to give a push to the slide of any deviating youths.  And then we come along with our all-or-nothing reasoning and say, ‘Would you drink even a little bit of poison?’ In fact, we ingest ‘a little bit of poison’ all the time and our immune system is strengthened for it—assuming we haven’t ruined it. In fact again, the great controversy of our time, which HQ came to enthusiastically weigh in on after an initial stance of ‘neutrality,’ was that of, ‘To take the Covid vaccine or not to take the Covid vaccine?’ What is a vaccine if not ‘a little bit of poison’ that stimulates the body to mount a defense?


***  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'

In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction

The new book is now out. Available in print and digital at Amazon. Soon to follow is Apple, Barnes and Noble, others. From the book’s metadata:

“Those of the Enlightenment laud the “human experiment” that is democracy, Jehovah’s Witnesses laud the human experiment that is worldwide family. Theirs is John Lennon’s brotherhood of man not rejoicing that there is above us only skybut instead seeking direction from that sky. A family all but solving racism, a family uniting nationalities and social classes. Who wouldn’t want a double-shot of it? But even a recent circuit overseer likened it to “one big, united, happy, somewhat dysfunctional family,” a phrase I suspect is not in any outline.

Witnesses are ordinary folk, with all the foibles of ordinary folk, and maybe a few extra thrown in since “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are ill do: I [Jesus] came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

What makes the Witnesses tick? Examine the pressures facing these ordinary folk who star in a world-stage role that is alternately noble and strange. Some pressure is external: “A large door that leads to activity has been opened to me, but there are many opposers.” Some pressure is internal: “We have this treasure [of the ministry] in earthen vessels.” Translation: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Either way, “Do not be puzzled at the burning among you . . . as though a strange thing were befalling you,” says Peter. Don‘t be puzzled. Tackle it head-on. Start with the pure bonus, ‘Things that drive you crazy about the faith--and how to view them,’ for the goal is to endure: “When the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?” says Jesus. ‘Not if we have anything to do with it,’ reply ever increasing enemies.

"If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand?” asks the psalm. Is watching errors not the mission statement of today’s culture, typified in its media? Nobody stands as their enemies magnify, enhance, and even concoct evil reports—see it play out on the internet with any public figure, “admiring personalities,” until they destroy them. Ought Christians play that game?

"Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is stumbled, and I am not incensed? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness,” says Paul. Three times the apostle entreated God to remove a “thorn in his flesh” Nothing doing, God said. I look better when you are flawed. If brilliant people achieve brilliant things, it’s easy to see why. But when flawed people do it . . .”

Tips on the ministry within. How did Witnesses fare in the face of COVID-19? How to regard ever-present conspiracy theories that ripple through society? And what about those overlapping generations? How long can they overlap? What is at stake? What facts on the ground identify the times? Venturing to the edge of the universe, rewriting the textbooks, and dressing down the god of good luck is all in a day's work. Meet Mephibosheth, that faithful man of old whom nobody can pronounce his name at the New System Dinner Table. A bad boy turns over a new leaf, a theodicy that works, and my favorite circuit overseer finish up the offerings.”


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'


Here’s my tentative suggestions: … “Jehovah’s Witnesses have a low retention rate relative to other U.S. religious groups.

This is true, however it is offset by the high participation rate Witnesses enjoy. After all, in the Methodist Church (for example—no special reason to cite them) members may not actually leave, but how would you know if they did?


So we need … [to] integrate our JW culture and way of life rather than compartmentalizing it.

Much as I hate to say it, I’m not sure the notion of ‘counting time’ doesn’t contribute to such compartmentalizing in that it introduces the notion of being ‘on the clock’ or ‘off the clock.’ Much counsel is given, with mixed result, not to view matters this way, but the concept itself lends to that perception.

I’ve long since learned to estimate. Oddly, it was my former stint as a part-time inventory counter that put me on to this course. You may have seen these teams in supermarkets. Management urges that you estimate as you count, based upon how much product will fit into an overall amount of space—then peer to see just how much space is taken, so you are not thwarted by the shelf that is only 2 cans deep. They had research to the effect that you’re not off by more than 2% when you do it that way.

I was not a good employee—chattering constantly and drawing others in to conversation when management would (sometimes strongly) prefer silence. I’m sure that confession will surprise no one here. However, I was forgiven a multitude of sins because I was a force for cohesion. 

They had an employee slow as molasses with whom they were pulling their hair out because he was reaching back in the hopeless chaos of potato chip bags to make sure he counted each one and none of them twice. At a time that I should have been working, I stopped by to chat. I told him the Isaac Bashevis Singer short story of a Jewish priest who brought his 18th century Eastern European settlement to a standstill because he was too kind-hearted to sacrifice the animals needed to keep religous life going. Finally, one of the community told that priest that it’s fine to be merciful, ‘but you don’t have to be more merciful than God!’

I added for the sake of this overly-exacting employee, ‘I think the same principle applies to counting.’ He smiled, obviously getting the point, and from that time on his performance improved. 

So it is that I estimate time and I blow off a report in two seconds come end of month. But I once tracked it in 15 minute intervals, as I’m sure many do today. These days I think many in effectestimate, but there are some who develop innovative ways to, as bashful Sam put it, ‘run about all day avoiding people.’ Now that counsel on the ministry has expanded to, ‘Look, just talk to people! Introduce the Bible if you can but don’t worry about it if you’re cannot,’ the idea of counting time seems increasingly out of sync. But it is still kept, and most have managed to keep its spirit without overly fussing about its letter, even though they still talk as if the letter is not something to be blown away. ‘How much time should we count,’ someone will ask the circuit overseer. He will reply, “Well, I know how I am counting mine,” and leave it at that.


we need a better formation that helps integrate our JW culture and way of life rather than compartmentalizing it.

A side theme of ‘Go Where Tom Goes’ is (done by example) that spiritual life can and should be woven seamlessly within our secular life. Yet this is often not what we see. Some of the friends act as though they have two separate modes, all but incorporating two different vocabularies: one for communication with the friends and one for communication with those outside. 

Not long ago, someone reviewed that book and pointed to the occasional word or phrase that a non-Witness might not understand. In some cases I changed it. In other cases I did not. If you read Dickens or indeed much of classic literature, you’ll find many a biblical allusion that a modern person will not understand. Dickens doesn’t back out to explain every little thing. If the book is good, people move on, perhaps with a new ‘homework’ assignment. But if they decline the new assignment, they move on nonetheless. Of course, if the book stinks, they run it through the shredder on that account but, if it truly stinks, they probably will have done that already. The trick is to make it not stink.

I’m not done yet addressing the thoughtful remarks you made. Sorry to be so wordy. A scholar could do it better. But I’m not a scholar. I’m a storyteller. Storytelling generally works better with the people most apt to respond to the good news. Probably that’s why Jesus was a storyteller, why he never opened his mouth without telling an illustration. Whatever scholarship he had was to be found in his parables.

(and someday, though it has nothing to do with anything, I’ll expound on how Lincoln was exactly that way, always using stories to introduce policy. Like in the final days of the Civil War, when settling the score with meddling England seemed more a possibility than it had during the war—the Union hadn’t been strong enough then. He led off with a story of the mandetermined to make peace with his enemies before he dies. On his deathbed, tears and sentimentality flow from all as old disagreements are buried. But as one lout is taking his leave, the sick man raises himself up one elbow to say, ‘But remember—if I get better, that grudge still stands!’

It was Lincoln’s style, appreciated by many. But no-nonsense (or no-imagination?) Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase grumbled about Cabinet meetings: ‘All the president does there is tell jokes!’)


***  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'

Seed-Pickers Exposed

So here I am just minding my own business, calling myself a seed-picker’ same as Paul’s derisive Greek critics said of him—he picks up a seed here and poops it out there, thus giving only the facade of wisdom, not the real thing—when along comes that know-it-all brother to say I am using the word wrong!

“Aristophanes once wrote an award-winning play called ‘The Birds,’ he says. The play mentions birds as ‘seed-pickers’ more than once, and uses this same word ‘spermologos’ [seed-picker-sayer].

“Aristophanes' play also mentions defecation and such private matters, but . . . and this is a big but . . . it doesn't ever tie the idea of seed-picking to ‘pooping.’ I have never seen a place where the word "spermologos" was tied to anything scatalogical.”

Brother Know-it-All even adds the useful tidbit that Luke, the Bible writer who recorded Paul’s trip to the Athens marketplace where they called him seed-picker, manages to return the insult: “In fact, all Athenians and the foreigners staying there would spend their leisure time doing nothing else but telling or listening to something new.” (Acts 17:21)

In other words, they don’t really do anything. Updated to the modern age, it would be, “They just fart away all their time scrolling on the internet,” same as my wife says of me.

8B77960A-A2F5-4273-B474-740DDA8753A3I have to admit, I just made it up—the pooping part. But I’m sticking to it. (not literally) I mean, what becomes of that seed after it is ingested? It’s not as though the bird is simply OCD reorganizing like a neurotic file clerk. I can’t think of any better way for the big boys to deride a Jewish philosopher than to say he picks up a tidbit here and poops it out there.

I’ll take on the whole ancient Greek world if I have to. They’re wrong. I’m right. Though I suppose I ought to explain I’m changing space and time. Thanks for the clarification, (smart-ass!)

Moreover, I’ll stick with seed-picker. No surprise here that I distrust intellectualism. It’s not how Jesus taught. It’s okay as a spice, even as a semi-staple. “Bring your gift to the altar” if that is your gift. But when people carry on as though it is the be-all and end-all I smell a rat. I think of those reveling in heady matters “which end up in nothing, but which furnish questions for research rather than a dispensing of anything by God in connection with faith.” (1 Timothy 1:4) As though the truth within us all resides in the brain and not the heart.

And just who is “that know-it-all brother?” Since I am a Witness doing the Witness thing, I don’t do names (or I provide my own). Aristophanes will be “one worldly author,” same as Elon Musk will be “one wealthy businessman.”

There are three ways to spin HQ’s avoidance of names:

The pious way: ‘Give all glory to God; men are but dust on the scales.’

The derisive Greek philosopher way: ‘Yeah, it’s because they have no idea who these people are.’

The third way I think I have invented myself; if it copies anyone, I’m not aware of it: ‘It is the play we are watching, not the actors in the play. You don’t have to know the names of the actors to follow the play; it can even be a distraction if you do. Besides, as soon as you name a villain, you create the impression that removing that villain remedies things. Instead, another actor who has all the lines down pat instantly steps on stage and the play continues with barely a hiccup.’ 

Nobody gains dignity in any of my writings, including myself. Always they lose a little, in keeping with us all being but dust on the scales who do well not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s a little dicey to know how much to ‘credit’ people. The introduction to Tom Irregardless begins standard boilerplate and then expands a little: 

“All persons with names like ‘Irregardless’ are real though generally composite. You can meet them in my circuit or even yours. Events related are faithfully depicted except for a few that I’ve made up. Persons with names recognizable from history or current events—you’re nuts!—it’s not those people at all!”

***  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 58: Commentary

“The wicked go astray from birth; They are wayward, liars from the time they are born.” (Psalm 58:3)

Maybe the psalmist was having a bad day. 3B39453E-1E30-4769-A1BE-12EC2BFA1BDB

“Their venom is like the venom of serpents; They are deaf like the cobra that stops up its ear. It will not listen to the voice of charmers, No matter how skillful their spells. (v 4-5)


O God, knock the teeth out of their mouth! Break the jaws of these lions, O Jehovah! (v 6)


“May they disappear like waters that drain away.” (v 7)

Why does that time-old question arise in my mind, completely unbidden: Do waters swirl down the drain in opposite directions as you cross hemispheres? The answer is easily found but then you always forget.

“May they be like a snail that melts away as it moves along.” (v 8 )

The sun does a number on that slimy thing.

“Like a woman’s stillborn child who never sees the sun.” (v 8 )


“The righteous one will rejoice because he has seen the vengeance; His feet will be drenched with the blood of the wicked. Then men will say: ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous. There is indeed a God who judges in the earth.’” (v 10-11)

It’s probably good not to cross this One.

***  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'

God Said to Samuel, ‘Anoint Me a Son”—with Apologies to 1 Samuel and Bob Dylan

“God said to Samuel, "Anoint me a son"

Sam say, [after reviewing Jesse’s seven and coming to skinny David]  "Man, you must be puttin' me on"

God say, "No, " Sam say, "What?"

God say, "You can do what you want Sam, but Next time you see me comin', you better run"

Sam said, "Where do you want this anointing ' done?"

God said, "Out on Highway 61"   (With apologies to 1 Samuel & Bob Dylan)


Samuel went through seven of of Jesse’s sons. All were promising candidates to him. All seemed like they could knock it out of the park. God said, ‘Maybe they look good to you, but not to me:’ 

Do not pay attention to his appearance and how tall he is, for I have rejected him. For the way man sees is not the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes, but Jehovah sees into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:9)

I don’t know about the ones who have moved on to who knows where, but of the ones who stay, surely a universal truth acknowledged is that there are two hopes among Christians, the heavenly and the earthly. 

Those with the heavenly hope are the ones who will serve as kings and priests over the earth in the new system. (Revelation 5:10) So are we to think they sit on their hands now?

Unless the entire structure of the JW organization is a crock—highly unlikely in view of its unbroken chain of succession since at least Rutherford and its accomplishments in laying down infrastructure for the united worldwide spread of the good news—then the anointed Christians today represent God’s chosen means of governing his people today.

But—but—could not a newbie or an outlier just say, ‘Hey, I’m anointed!,’ thus promoting him or herself to potential power? It’s not going to happen with those operating in the full-time service structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Decades of lowly service will have weeded out any pretenders. There is nothing so meriting God’s curse than ‘partaking unworthily,’ so you know the veterans are not going to be doing that. God’s means of directing his people could not be more clear.

This outrageous demand of one grouser that we are to scrutinize the GB and give each a thumbs up or thumbs down—where is the counterpart in Scripture for that? It is no wonder the fellow parted ways, seeing as he has come to conflate Thomas Jefferson and John Locke with the early apostles.

Now, looking at the current Governing Body, if God swooned over intellectuals, do you think these are the guys he would have chosen? Some of them are an acquired taste to listen to. In fact, you can ask yourself, if the present helpers were instead taking the lead, would they select current GB members for their helpers? As with Samuel, God sees what men do not. 

I’m convinced (on admittedly incomplete evidence—so just put it out there as a hunch) that this is what bothers those intellectuals who depart. Here they are in a heady world of intellect, interacting with others of that world. How can guys who may not even know what words like ‘exegesis’ mean possibly be running the show? Why can’t you put smart guys in there—giants of intellectualism who can knock the socks off any university professor?

They’d better get used to it. Near as I can tell, it is no accident on God’s part. It is deliberate. For a God who says ‘the wisdom of this world’ is foolishness with him, is he not tipping his hand? For a God who says, “he catches the wise in their own cunning,” is he not showing how he does it? For a God who says, “if anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise,” ought they not do it rather than revere this generation’s intellectual output? (1 Corinthians 3:18-19) Remember, the lowly of the world, whom the Bible constantly makes clear are the ones whom God favors, have no problem whatsoever with any of these men.

8FF418C9-A84C-4774-9C25-DBF2B9BBA616The ‘unlearned and ordinary’ leaders of the first century congregation ever remain ‘unlearned and ordinary.’ They don’t raise themselves up from by their own bootstraps to tower with the intellectual pillars of a world that’s going down the tubes. If God didn’t laugh at this world’s wisdom with its phony status, he would have had his Son born at the Jerusalem Hyatt, not the Bethlehem Manger. There is no reason He could not have done it; He knows a lot of people. He chose the manger—as a way of telling the drivers of this system of things, usually top-heavy with intellectuals, what he thinks of them.

(Photo from Pixabay)

Best develop a sense of humor, because God has a great one. The greatest drama under creation, the preaching of the gospel to the nations by ordinary people, “the most uninformed and clownish of men,” said Celsus, incorporates scenes alternately noble and ridiculous:

“Don’t you have another suit jacket?” said the circuit overseer to the lowly publisher who, wanting to look his best for a special week of activity, had ironed his suit but then got distracted and attended to something else before righting the iron. It’s a good thing that CO wasn’t an intellectual. He would have wilted with the grass from embarrassment. 


***  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'

Think Witnesses are unintellectual now? Go back to the first century


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 Service Meeting Part of Which Almost All Missed the Point

Then there was that service meeting part of which almost nobody got the point, the one about informal witnessing. ‘Let the conversation run,’ was the theme. It’s okay if it doesn’t lead to a witness. It’s not a defeat when that happens. Just having started it is a victory. In case it does present an opening for witnessing, we have plenty in our ‘toolbox’ to nurture it along.

And for the duration of the part, that’s all anyone talked about—how we have tools for everything. The takeaway was that everyone will get a witness, every conversation should lead to one, whereas the text and video of the part specifically allows that they may not

Now, to harp on this may seem small, perhaps even anti-mission, but the service meeting part presents a problem: “We may get nervous [the CO said in the video said “terrified”] about the idea of starting a conversation if we focus too much on how we will introduce a Scriptural thought.” If you someone is terrified, telling them that they’d better know that toolbox inside out so that every conversation leads to a witness will not make them less so. 

The solution, as presented in the part? Don’t focus on it. Just start a conversation, which is a victory in itself, and see where it runs. Alas, the way the part was handled, it was Do focus on it. Know that toolbox well so that everyone gets a witness. Even the ministerial servant handling the part covered it that way. 

The accompanying Iron Sharpens Iron video made just the opposite point. The first of two demos showed the clunkiness of moving in quickly for the witnessing ‘kill’—which came across as one. “It started okay but then got awkward real fast,” said the make-believe householder. The second demo let the conversation run, and it did indeed lead to a witness, but the CO and text repeatedly made clear it might not—and if it did not, that’s okay. 

Yet—“I thought the first demo was pretty good too,” said one of our publishers, about the awkward mess. It wasn’t. The householder and CO said it wasn’t. She missed it.

“If during a conversation an opportunity presents itself to express your faith . . .” the text said—the CO in the video repeated the ‘if.’ I am reminded of an old chum, now deceased, who for whatever reason, never thought he had it in him to be an elder or ministerial servant and so declined all overtures. “IF any man is reaching out…” he would quote the verse. ‘If’ doesn’t mean ‘when!!’ It means ‘IF!”

We treated the informal witness as a ‘when.’ The part presented it as an ‘if.’ The nervous [or terrified] ones who feel the pressure feel it all the more. ‘Counting time’ probably aggravates it. You can ‘goof off’ on your dime, but not the Boss’s, and so you stick it a word for God no matter awkward it seems—picture Him watching you with the eyes-on sign, fore and index finger from His eyes to you. But if you’re doing it on your own dime, not a problem.

This is that bird’s nest illustration come back to haunt us: the guy who found a crumpled up tract in a fallen nest, who unraveled it, and came into the truth! It is so much emphasis on ‘life-saving Bible literature’ taking us captive that leads to a determination to leave some literature no matter what!  It may be life-saving, but it’s also a little like an invasive species—once it takes root, it is all but impossible to eradicate. These days the brothers are trying to eradicate it with the message that not all conversations will lead to a witness, and we look quite awkward when we pull out all the stops to make them all go that way.

The circuit overseers seem to have this new method down pat. They’re working hard to spread it around. Exiting a Starbucks where we’d taken a break, one publisher delayed a bit. When he caught up with us, he said he’d left a contact card with the fellow one table over. But the CO (gingerly) said we don’t really do it that way. At the door, we do—if you knock on someone’s door, you’d better have a purpose for your call. But when you haven’t knocked on anyone’s door, when its just informal start-up chit-chat, he likened witnessing to ‘tossing a ball.’ See if they toss it back. If they don’t, it’s okay. Even Jesus’ woman at the well waited seven verses to toss it back. 


******  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'

Let a Householder Talk Long Enough and He’ll Tell You Why He Needs the Kingdom

In an article from The Watchtower of May 1, 1984, p. 31 under "Questions from Readers" it states that "Jehovah's Witnesses do not go to people's homes in search of truth or clarification. Rather, they have spent countless hours learning the truth from the Word of God and, having learned the "good news," obediently go out to share it with other people.

Coming back to that one:

The idea that anyone would find this “problematic” (as did Bill Brexit) is almost too bizarre to comprehend. In my entire life, I have never opened the door to someone who doesn’t have something to say.

‘Let a householder talk long enough and he’ll tell you why he needs the kingdom.’ If they don’t, then they’re plainly not the type of person Witnesses are searching for. They look for the one who is ‘skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd’—and he knows it, if only subliminally. Anyone who sees the present state of human affairs and says, ‘Things are just hunky-dory here!’—that’s not the person they’re looking for. Do a little pleasant chit-chat, and I move on. As often as not, I’m not called upon to do any pleasant chit-chat. They’re more eager for me to move on than I am to do it.

It’s the notion Brexit seems to have that Witnesses call to shake down whatever people have so as to ‘build back better’ that is crazy. Can he really think that way? Witnesses have no interest in deassembling a person so as to reassemble that one. Their looking for persons who are already deasembled, who know it, and who are dissatisfied with it. Let them talk enough and they’ll tell you why they need the kingdom.

To this end, the ‘read a scripture’ approach works well for me. I’m not a fan of these open-ended questions which all-to-often have the effect of putting the householder on the spot. It’s uncomfortable to be put on the spot. Nobody likes that. Better to say, “I stopped by to read you a scripture, you tell me what you think, and I’m outta here. Good idea?” It’s not much of a request. Quite a few people say ‘yes.’ If they think it is not a good idea, I am true to my word and outta there. If they do an answer that isn’t an answer, such as, ‘I have a church,’ I say, “it’ll still work.” If they hem and haw a little, I say ‘in the time it takes to decide I can just read it,’ and I do. 

Read the scripture, explain why you chose it, in a sentence or two, and give them opportunity to converse on it if they like. If they don’t—hey, I’m happy—I read a verse and it fell flat. This is not the person I’m looking for. Move on with pleasantness. Even people who decline are apt to say, “but thanks for calling,” so pleased are they that you get right to the point and didn’t try to impose on their time. 

Recently I used 1 Thess 5:11, “Therefore, keep encouraging one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.

I explained I chose it for two reasons. 1) that it was the theme of a recent meeting (a witness in itself, because it gives an indication as to what goes on at a Kingdom Hall), and 2) it seems like a big ‘Duh’—a no-brainer—seek to encourage and build up—except we live in a world where that is almost never done. 

You reach this point, by which time a householder may have formed an opinion of you as a reasonable guy, not pushy, not wound up too tight, and then they may go off in a hundred different directions.

A guy I spoke with last week interrupted my spiel of 1 Thess 5:11 with, “You don’t work, do you?” 5023E7D5-EBED-4B2E-AA53-84D8BE2525F3I thought it was an attack. “Well—I’m retired,” I hedged. Turned out to be nothing of the sort. He just launched into how ugly people were at his workplace, how argumentative, how abusive—and, alas, I could detect a personality that would make it ten times worse, but it was a good inroad into discussing kingdom promises and the discussion went on for some time.

Bill Brexit seems to think it’s likely that the householder comes out to talk ‘theology’ with you. It’s not unheard of, but it’s not very common. 

(Photo: Pixabay)


******  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'