The trick is not to sanitize the present. It is to desanitize the past. ‘Think Witnesses are unintellectual now?’ was the point made to someone who thought they were. Go back to the first century to find they were every bit as much then. Furthermore, it appears to be something not to fret over, but to ‘praise.’
“I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children,” Jesus says.
There is no other field of endeavor in which the ‘wise and intellectual’ do not quickly rise to the head of the class. Here they are told to ‘take a number—maybe we’ll get back to you.” It takes awhile to get one’s head and heart around that. People steeped in education expect the paradigm that holds everywhere to also hold here. “You’ve done well—exceedingly well considering your lack of education,” such ones would say to those taking the lead, “but the smart people are here now. Step aside.”
But they don’t step aside. They continue to do things that the few “wise and intellectual ones” who made the Matthew 11:25 cut find grating. I’ve decided that’s the way it was meant to be. Grin and bear it.
I wrote in the Governing Body chapter of I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why, that not having much of this world’s education, they find it a little difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff and so are inclined to dismiss it all as chaff. How can that not be grating to those who do have some of that higher education and know that it’s not all chaff—there’s a lot of good stuff there? Grin and bear it.
Interesting, those in ‘Christendom’ who know of these modest beginings tend to think of it as an embarrassing circumstance that was overcome. ‘Yes, they may have started out lowly,’ such ones say, ‘but look how they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps!’
Also Interestingly, seeing as this fellow mentioned Catholicism, Luke Timothy Johnson, tracing the history of the Church, makes a similar observation of the bishops that arose early on—that they weren’t necessarily the brightest guys around, but they were workhorses who got the job done.
Grating to anyone of intellectual background, for example, will be how we lead right off with Adam and Eve. They are key, of course, to explaining almost everything, but I’ve devised a half-dozen ways to ‘soften’ their introduction in the ministry, if only to lead off with a ‘How are you with Adam and Eve?’ opening question. Put together the jigsaw puzzle that centers around Adam and Eve. Pay no attention initially to whether it is true or not. Do you shove aside an actual jigsaw puzzle because the picture on the box cover might not be real?
But our people pay no attention to such things. Raised from childhood with Adam and Eve, they pour it undiluted on the learned ones, as though convinced it is common ground. For whatever it’s worth, I was dumbfounded when I first came across people who seriously believed in Adam and Eve. They didn’t look stupid, yet all my life I had been trained to think only the dumbest of the dumbbells took those two seriously.
The point is, nobody helped me through my ‘crisis of intellect.’ I just worked it out myself. ‘Ah well, put it on the shelf.’ I told myself. ‘Everything else makes so much sense. Maybe it will later,” and it did. Trouble is, I’m not sure the thinking now in vogue would allow for this solution. It would be labeled ‘cognitive dissonance’ that must be solved now if I am to keep my marbles. Even though those who listen to Big Pharma somehow survive their cognitive dissonance, with narrator insisting you must have the stuff peddled and voiceover saying it may kill you.
For people who regard themselves as specialists in teaching, you might think the JW organization would learn to build better bridges to those steeped in education. But it’s hard to do, because they don’t have too much of it themselves. They don’t overly fret about their ‘deficiency.’ ‘Ah, well, they say, ‘our world works and theirs doesn’t.’
To me, that is key. With admittedly some minor exaggeration, our world does work and theirs doesn’t. Jehovah’s Witnesses have solved racism. Call that not working? Racism is a prime issue tearing the planet apart. For us it is a yawner.
Seldom is it that the key persons driving this world are not bristling with degrees of higher learning. Yet, look at the mess the world is. It’s not a very reassuring correlation. ‘Well, maybe the problem is not education,’ someone says. ‘Maybe the problem is lack of moral training.’ Exactly. So opt for the ‘divine education’ that incorporates moral training, rather than the education that caters solely to the intellect and assumes moral training will take care of itself. It plainly doesn’t.
There’s lots of issues to drive a person nuts. I had someone tell me they’d just grown tired of such things as ‘no beards’ (at long last, put to rest, more or less, in 2017). Of course I could sympathize. It’s not in the Bible. It was not in the literature. The reasons to suppose persons might be stumbled (beatniks and hippies) disappeared decades ago. We’re not a people who do rules. And yet no rule was more consistently enforced than the unwritten ‘no beard’ rule. I have never violated that ‘rule,’ nor was I ever tempted to, save for when I went to bat for someone being leaned on solely for that reason. ‘By the time this is all done, I’m going to grow a beard myself!’ I threatened. “Try shoving me around—not just some kid!” Trouble is, I didn’t want one. Food gets caught in it.
But I have violated the unwritten ‘no social media’ rule. It causes me inconvenience. The fact that we wish to ‘advertise advertise advertise; the kingdom, in combination with howwhen a company has a great product to advertise the very first thing they do is map out a strategy on social media, is not something you can even mention without being thought from Mars with two heads. Similar to how one of our brothers says ‘This is war!’ regarding apostates, overlooking that the very first thing you do in war is to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the tactics and thinking of the enemy, unlike how we are strongly recommended to know as little about it as possible.
So these are some reflections that have helped me work through issues. In the end, I appeal to The Rolling Stones: ‘You can’t always get what you want.’ You can’t. You can’t anywhere. Trouble is, we live in a world where ‘getting what one wants’ has become the prime directive.
‘So where does that leave me?’ said my correspondent? ‘I could of been a priest, elder or a pastor, it seems, in virtually any church (Anabaptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Baptist, etc) save my own, if I did, I’d have the status and security I’ve never managed as an adult Jehovah’s Witness. But I have chosen instead to pay the ongoing, very personal cost of being a Jehovah’s Witness.’
Tell me about it. I have worked up and nurtured a certain gift for writing, even authoring some books. Anywhere else I’d be sitting pretty, maybe even making a living thereby. Here I must carry on as though practicing ‘secret sin.’ Even when I stay away from controversial things, it is, “Isn’t there someone else who’s authorized to write about God?” To say nothing about when I do tackle controversial things.
So here I am, a confirmed old apologist, and likely to remain so.
Well, after all, Pickering—I’m an ordinary man, even tempered and good-natured, whom you’ll never hear complain,
who has the milk of human kindness by the quart in every vein . . .
Let Ahithorolf in my life . . . and my serenity goes to seed. In a line that never end comes an army of his friends, come to jabber and to chatter and to tell all that HQ is not to heed!