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The Clock Ticks on Emotion: A Correction to Theology

If you are trying to please the ology people—those whose specialize in theology, sociology, psychology, and add philosophy to the stack—you do not present God by his personality and attributes. These are not matters of the intellect. The thinkers do not have the tools to measure it. They are uncomfortable when not strictly in the realm of the head, strictly in the realm of critical thinking. A diversion into the heart may do as an enhancing spice, but if the goal is to discern the truth of a matter, the heart is considered untrustworthy since it introduces emotion.

The clear bias towards head over heart is found in the very characters invented for science fiction. Spock, the Star Trek Vulcan, has no emotion at all; he is pure logic, even when his half human origin interferes. Data, the android, is likewise the epitome of brains and is barren of emotion. If you want to know something, you ask one of these characters. You do not ask one of their human shipmates. They might be right but they might just as easily be wrong. The problem is that their judgment will be clouded by emotion. In the world of science fiction, mental capacity is elevated to the highest heights and everything else plays second fiddle.

It must have been a setback to these ones to discover that people who have suffered brain injury, so that that they cannot experience emotion, thereafter are unable to make even simple decisions in matters supposedly having nothing to do with emotion. Decisions as to what to wear, what to eat, what to buy—they cannot make them. Plainly, it is too simplistic to view emotion as the enemy of rationality, a contamination that must be ferreted out, lest it interfere with the quest for truth.

Emotion is part of the quest. It is not to be shoved aside as useless. “A physical man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually,” says 1 Corinthians 2:14. Remove the quality that feels emotion and you will be just as impeded in spiritual examination as is the emotion-deprived person towards examining strictly physical things.

What the Bible writer calls “the things of the spirit of God” remain elusive to those whose specialty is critical thinking. Therefore, some of these ones come to focus their analysis on the effects of religious belief, since they don’t know how to evaluate religious belief itself. They give up on the task, for example, of discerning whether God rewards the good and punishes the bad. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) called such questions antinomies. He considered them unknowable, since they lay outside the access of his sole tool, reason. However, the effects of believing in them were not. Does such belief help or hurt society? He felt splendidly equipped to analyze that derivative topic.

 The change of focus is not a bad consolation prize for them. You would hope that your beliefs contribute favorably to society, and if they don’t, maybe there is something wrong with them. If your beliefs make you behave better, make you kinder, make you industrious, make you honest—what’s not to like? What is good for the believer is good for society. That is the original basis of favorable government tax treatment for religion: they did the government’s work for them.

It can be awkward, however, when society itself veers in a certain direction and religion doesn’t embrace the change. Peter spoke of ones who were “puzzled that you do not continue running with them in the same decadent course of debauchery, so they speak abusively of you.” (1 Peter 4:4) When society begins to frown upon separation because inclusion has become their guiding principle, even your good qualities begin to be looked upon with suspicion. When society becomes intent on fixing this world, and here you are like the early Christians proclaiming it slated for replacement, that too is regarded warily. The Scriptural counsel to stay “no part of this world” is viewed with suspicion by those who see nothing wrong with it. Jesus expressed it alarmingly with, “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.” (John 15:19) Even trying to sit out the war that all are determined to rush into can cause you trouble. It is not enough to point out that your religious counterparts on the other side are also sitting it out. It is not enough to ask that both you and they be allowed to do what you both do best, to bring scriptural comfort. During such times, the pressure is on that all must participate in determining which brand of human rulership will prevail.

Another ologist to consider is William James (1842-1910), who taught psychology at Harvard. He is known also as a philosopher, as well as theologian, since he has written his own theories of religion. He is another one analogous to the math teacher whom you assume is there to teach math, but no—he is only there to teach about math, since the topic itself is beyond his field of expertise. He is another one of these who dodges the question as to whether God exists or not and is only concerned with the effects of believing that he exists or not. And—it’s not a huge concession, but I’ll take it—he is another one who, like Stark and Baimbridge (preceding chapter), does not think it his duty to cart religion out to the curb or oversee its downfall. He hasn’t concluded, like most of his ology forebears, that it is ‘bad science.’ He isn’t perplexed as to why it hasn’t imploded by now.

He breaks ranks with many of his fellow ologists by allowing a significant role for emotion, which he calls “our passionate nature.” In selecting our worldview, be it religious or not, you cannot use rationality and logic to make all the decisions, he contends, because the clock is ticking. As a case in point, he considers a hypothetical young woman you are thinking of marrying (after you are past the ‘bloom of youth,’ thank you very much). The clock is ticking. While you are off doing your endless background checks, you are killing what could be some very pleasant years and the rewards of joint accomplishments. The facts will never be all in. At some point, you must decide on a basis that is not 100% logic.

So it is with religious faith, as well as the choice between religious faiths. You look them over closely. You seek to bring in all the facts. But they will never be all in, and the clock is ticking. At some point, unless one wants to be a law unto oneself (an island, said Paul Simon), one must commit to a greater worldview, be it religious or not, and thus benefit from its direction, guidance, and support.

The choice was thrust upon the Boreans when Paul and Silas paid a visit in the first century:

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica [where the two had been run out of town], for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

That they were rational is evident in that they carefully examined the Scriptures daily to see that what Paul and Silas were telling them was so. But from where does the eagerness come? That one will be emotion, not logic—heart, not head. That one will be people conscious of their spiritual need, and so determined to fill it. That one will be people who intuitively know they have a spiritual need and that it is analogous to their need for vitamins, without which one gets very ill and never knows why. Nobody hungers for vitamin C or vitamin D. Instead, they make themselves conscious of that need. That those of Borea put such a premium on spiritual matters explains that they are called noble-minded. It’s a nobility that has nothing to do with the intellect, the head. It has everything to do with emotion, with what a person is at heart.

The challenges are greater today. It was enough then to study the scriptures as to whether “these things were so.” Today, in a more pluralistic world, one must also tackle the subject of whether the scriptures themselves are so. The learned ones of today increasingly lean that they are not. Even the theologians are apt to maintain that, while it contains glimmers of ‘being so,’ in the main it is not.

(See: Introduction to the Study of Religion--Charles B Jones, Great Courses, Lecture 10)

******  The bookstore

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Who We Are and Why We Are and Where We Are Going?

How can people believe Bible texts the way they do? People were superstitious then. And it is violent.

Maybe because they are enamored with its main character, God. Those not enamored with him are not attracted to the text. Psalm 34:8 is a favorite of mine: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” Some people think he tastes bad. Taste is not a provable topic. It resonates with some and not with others. It is not primarily a matter of intellect. Some people hate asparagus. Good luck trying to ‘prove’ to them that it tastes good.

The reason God and the texts long associated with him ‘taste good’ to people of faith is summed up in this quote from a newspaper editor, as true today as when he wrote it 60 years ago: “Here is a curious thing. In the contemplation of man himself, of his dilemmas, of his place in the universe, we are little further along than when time began. We are still left with questions of who we are and why we are and where we are going.” (Vermont Royster) People of faith want to know “who we are and why we are and where we are going.” They are convinced secular society has no answers (“we are little further along than when time began”), so they look to God. They are not put off by the fact the Bible is old. (You would hardly expect a message from God to all mankind to have been written recently) They don’t consider those ancients inferior. If anything, with less to distract them, they had the time to think deeper thoughts.

Nor do they think science answers Royster's question. Professor Viskontas* addresses how our present life is but an hour or two on the year-scaled cosmic timeline. "Does this mean that our short little lives hold no meaning? I would argue that it certainly does not. In fact, it gives us a sense of how far we've come and how connected we are even to the very beginnings of the universe. And surely life gains meaning through the connections that we make to each other and to our world," se says. I dunno. It's not nothing, but it doesn't compare to the thought of everlasting life. Isn't it more akin to persuading a speed bump to find meaning in its role on the highway of life?

Too, God’s revealed personality attracts some. To Moses, he presented himself as “a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth, showing loyal love to thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34) Those are good qualities to have in a God, particularly in a world not typified by such qualities. They draw people. He ‘tastes good’ to them. They see a world deteriorating at an almost visibly increasing rate. They see human governments have no answers. They look for one in the Scriptures, and there they find it.

They do not find it offensive that God would have requirements, as is intimated at the end of the Exodus phrase. It instantly strikes them as right that he would. They like the illustration of an owner’s manual for a product, say a new Ford. It makes perfect sense to them that Ford would be the one to consult as to how to care for the product it created.That’s why “people have believed in this text for so many years.” It is a vehicle through which one may get to know one’s Creator. Ordinary people find that very comforting, even if some more independently minded others find it offensive.

Is there concern that there is much violence in the OT? Don’t think people are any less violent today. It is just that modern societies have found a way to sanitize and corporatize violence, so that it can be inflicted from afar by horrific weapons, while the ones congratulating themselves at their supposed moral progress safely watch on TV. Some have heard the terrorist argument for attacking innocent civilians. There are no innocent civilians, they say, because these ‘innocent’ civilians willfully empower governments that go on to commit atrocities in their homeland.

No need to fuss about things that happened 4000 years ago, which is when most of the OT violence occurred. Parties have had plenty of time to reform, if they see fit to do so. Besides, you can always assign that Bible reading of Elisha calling down bears on the jeering children to a bald brother, who will tap his own shiny dome as though to say, ‘Don’t mess with me.’

...* Indre Viskontas, lecturer of 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, from Great Courses


******  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'

Like a Bad Accident: You Know You Shouldn’t Watch, but You Can’t Look Away.

Our next-door neighbor likens the news to a bad accident. “You know you shouldn’t watch, but you can’t look away,” she says. Is that a great analogy for ‘Man ruling man to his injury’ or what? And she is not even a Witness.

It’s a trainwreck! You really should look away, for you will see some horrific things—but you can’t. It will cause you less angst if you look away. On the other hand, there are survivors of that accident. Witnesses encounter them, even going out of their way to search for them. It can help to know where they are coming from and what they have been through.

I was assigned the 5-minute talk last mid-week meeting. Our next-door neighbor’s analogy served as the introduction. The first scripture considered was Psalm 46:2-3

We will not fear, though the earth undergoes change, Though the mountains topple into the depths of the sea, though its waters roar and foam over, Though the mountains rock on account of its turbulence.”

Recall that mountains, when not literal, can picture human institutions, often nations or political parties within a nation, because the are big, they tower over people with seemingly rock-like stability. Nobody runs to the valleys in time of emergency; they run to the mountains. And, the sea with its waters pictures restless, unstable humankind, forever kicking up seaweed and crud. “But the wicked are like the restless sea that cannot calm down, And its waters keep tossing up seaweed and mire,” says Isaiah 57:20

So we have two ancient symbolisms, mountains and seas, to accompany the one new one—that the news is like a bad accident. Seldom have we seen the open hostility between political parties within nations. In the U.S, not only do Democrats and the GOP not agree on answers to the questions, but they don’t even agree on what the questions are, Pew Research recently stated. With no starting point for discussion, there can be no hope of reaching anything but more rancor.

What people need to do is in the words of Psalm 46:10, which was the theme scripture of the talk: “Give in and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” They have to give in to the idea of rulership by God. In the New Testament, it is expressed as God’s kingdom, that when it comes, his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. In the Old Testament, it is the stone that smashes into the feet of the idol of successive human seventies, toppling the entire statue.

Even religious people have to ‘give in,’ since for the most part it is human rulership they want to fix through their religion, choosing from a sorry lot of human candidates the one they think most likely to do it. The thought of God’s ruling through his Son is a turn-off to them. Ideally, they do ‘give in’ and it doesn’t become a matter of brute force, as when Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus. ‘You going to give in?’ he told that one. ‘What’s with the persecution? What! You think I’m going to lose here? You only make it hard on yourself.’

Jehovah’s people too may need to ‘give in’ from time to time. Basic neutrality means no one will openly campaign for this candidate or that. But might they drop down a notch and ‘fact check’ ‘misperceptions’ about one side? You know, just in the interests of establishing truth, whereas they would never correct misperceptions of the other side—which are probably not misperceptions at all; they are probably true, that person being a fraud and a liar. We can be not so neutral as we imagine ourselves to be. It is good not to bring it into the Kingdom Hall, lest we encounter someone whose experiences and perceptions have led him to ‘fact check’ the other way.

Give in and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” It is a role Jehovah’s people are glad to have. They even feel privileged to have it. Paul wrote on how “we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the good news. (1 Thess 2:4) He didn’t write of God saying, “Look, clear up a few of those issues of yours and then maybe we can talk.” No, he “approved” of Christians, flawed thought they were, and “entrusted” them with the good news of God’s kingdom.

There is a brother I know who frames it that we have a ring-side seat for the greatest show on earth: human kingdoms go down locked in mortal combat, with God’s kingdom on the ascent. But it is not really a ‘seat’—it is a participatory role from a position of relative safety. Through the many venues typifying Witnesses—whether door-to-door (because everyone lives somewhere), or literature displays, informal chatting up people and writing to them, since some are not at home or live in places inaccessible. At any rate, this brother tells how he rearranges his entire life to have a large role in that activity.


***After the mid-week meeting, someone approached to say that they had liked my talk. I knew it was a trap. I knew they were just waiting to see if I would get all puffed up and so be eaten by worms. Herod’s demise had also been covered at that meeting. I slunk out of that Hall so modestly you could hear a pin drop.


******  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'

Sociologists Recognize the Practice of Religion is Rational--it Only Took Till 1987 (Stark and Baimbridge)

When an LDC couple moves into town, or any person of the full-time-servant variety, there is some flexibility as to which congregation they will attend. I try to woo them into mine. ‘Frankly, in some of those other congregations,’ I tell them, ‘I’m not sure they even believe in God.’ It’s a joke. Everyone knows it’s a joke. They laugh.

But in the world of theologians, it’s no joke. Theologians may not. And if they do not, their credentials as theologian are not diminished. Rank-and-file religious believers may assume a theologian believes in God as much as they, the only distinction being that they know more, having made the divine a special topic of study. They are wrong. Theology is a study of humans, specifically, of their interaction with what they regard as the divine. As such, it does not even assume that there is a divine. It is a study of humans interacting with the concept of one, whether that concept be real or not.

Theologians occupy themselves with arguments as to God’s existence, arguments categorized as ontological, cosmological, and teleological—usually finding flaws with each one. James Hall considers numerous examples of each argument and in every case arrives at what he calls a ‘Scottish verdict’—undecided.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the believers who don’t fret about such things. Few of them even know the terms. Instead, they present God according to his attributes and personality revealed in Scripture. If people like those attributes and personality, they take care of the theology all on their own. If they don’t, all the theology in the world will not sway them.

In short, the worship of God is not an academic discipline. It need not hold to the latest standards of intellectual rigor, standards which change over time. It is enough for the believer to be ‘reasonable’ and ‘sound in mind.’ Accordingly, while a few bones are thrown to those who insist on evidence, such as how the Bible conveys knowledge far ahead of its time—the shape and position of the earth in space, an understanding of the water cycle, the value of sanitation and quarantine—the primary draw will ever be on God’s attributes and personality. When God passed by Moses’s face, it was not to explain that the earth is round and hangs upon nothing. It was to declare, “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth, showing loyal love to thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons and upon grandsons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

That last phrase, which sounds ominous, is best explained in terms of people inheriting the consequences of their progenitor’s prior actions. Since concepts of normalcy originate from observing our parents, a parent decidedly abnormal sabotages his children for generations to come. Many people know the determination to do things ‘not like my old man did,’ succeeding to a point, and then one day realizing to their dismay that beneath the veneer, they are just like the old man.

There is also the unsettling findings of epigenetics, which upends the universal understanding of my youth that acquired characteristics cannot be inherited. Ruin your health—say, through alcohol or tobacco, and it was once thought the damage stops with you—your children would not inherit the defect. In fact, they can. The epigenome may not change the genome—the genome is inherited intact, except for evolution’s deft touch—but it does change whether various genes will be expressed or not. Again, the Exodus 34:7 passage is validated.

It is the attributes and personality that draws one close to God, including the attribute implied by that final passage—that God would have requirements for us. For the longest time, Jehovah’s Witnesses used in their ministry the brochure What Does God Require of Us? That God should have that attribute immediately resonates with some and immediately repels others. It either ‘tastes’ good or it doesn’t. “Taste and see that Jehovah is good,” says the psalm. Taste is not a provable topic. Some people think he tastes bad. The head has little to do with it. Yet, today’s philosophical theologians focus almost exclusively on the head. One might imagine a mechanic approaching auto repair with its least applicable tool.

Up till now, I have been sloppy with terms such as theologians, philosophers, and sociologists. If I rectify this only to a degree here, it is due to a conviction that they are mostly like that ill-equipped mechanic. Little useful about God is derived from them; humanity is their specialty, not God. The terms are important only for the sake of speaking about them and distinguishing among them. Their fields bear relationship to each other. At times, as with P.D.Q Bach, the name of that relationship is identity, but at other times, they are quite diverse. Think of a Venn diagram, with disciplines sometimes overlapping and sometimes not. Thus, theologians can approach their topic from a philosophical, sociological, or psychological orientation.

It took until the 1980s for sociologists studying religion to admit that religious believers were even engaged in a rational activity. Since the time of the Enlightenment, the prevailing assumption had been that religion was ‘irrational’ and, as such, it would eventually be crowded out by scientific advance. But in time, that premise came to be viewed as a recipe for failure. What if one approached economics, for example, with the assumption that the use of money was irrational? The feeling grew that prior ‘theories’ were really just metaphors—that the worship of God was a neurosis (Freud) or the opium of the people (Marx). Begin by insulting those you wish to study; just how much might you expect to learn with that approach? A Theory of Religion, by Stark and Baimbridge (1987) posited for first time among sociologists that religion was a rational endeavor.

Well, it’s a nice concession. Believers will appreciate knowing they are no longer presumed nuts. But don’t think the concession extends too far. The academics are simply willing to dignify their objects of study as not the irrational loons their colleagues made them out to be. Any recognition that God exists remain well beyond these fellows; no one has broken ranks to that degree. Some have only opined that, given certain assumptions, the very practice of religion is not hogwash.

The Stark-Baimbridge team framed religious belief as though it were goods rationally bought and rationally paid for. Suppose you want to live forever but you are discouraged by the fact that it’s not possible. In that case, the team posited, as a thoroughly rational decision you might accept an IOU from a religious figure who promises that in an afterlife. Suppose you want to up the ante and not only live forever in an afterlife, but also enjoy good health, community support, and family support in the present life. Well, then you might join the Mormons and pay a rather high cost in terms of tithing, time, and ridicule incurred from defending the ‘third testament’ called for by that religion. (Stark uses the Mormons a lot in his research, they being especially numerous in his neck of the woods)

They even think their theory explains why Christianity spread in early times whereas Roman and Greek religions died out. Christians accepted the IOUs of everlasting life. The Roman and Greek gods had nothing to compare with these IOUs—their Hades, the abode of both the meritorious and villainous deceased, was a miserable existence. The Christian community cared for and supported one another through good times and bad; their God encouraged that. The Greek and Roman gods didn’t give a hoot about people, and thus their worshippers tended not to either. Self-reliance is a useful thing, but it may not get you through hard times as much as neighbor helping neighbor.

Okay, okay—so Stark and Baimbridge have jumped light-years ahead of their contemporaries, who will still be muttering as they are lowered in their graves, ‘Faith is irrational’—but it is still all wrong to look at faith as though it were a series of economic exchanges. No true believer would ever look at it that way. To explain religious faith in terms no person of religion would ever employ—isn’t that more than a little contemptuous? It is all wrong to focus on the benefits of faith while ignoring the source of it. It smacks of savoring the peel of a banana while ignoring the interior. It also smacks of committing the grand faux pas of equating correlation to causation, something we are told one never must do, though the ones who tell us that do it all the time. The question as to whether God exists is not irrelevant but forms the very core of belief.

This ass-backwards approach correlates with why you don’t get all excited when you hear Hollywood is making a movie about the Bible. You know they won’t do it right. You know they will turn out some product in which Moses pops Pharaoh in the nose and gets the girl; that approach is just so much sexier and in accord with popular values. So is the product of the sociologists, examining religion from the premise that humans created god rather than the reverse.

I would have liked it had Stark chosen Jehovah’s Witnesses as his ‘hard-core’ religious example, but he didn’t. He chose the Mormons. The Witnesses, too, are a high-cost, high-commitment, high-benefit faith and occasionally the two faiths are mistaken for one another. But, he may have chosen the Mormons because the bar of credulity is higher with them, thus putting his theory to greater test. With the Mormons, you must explain the Book of Mormon. He also likes it that they have solved what he calls the free-rider problem (the name speaks for itself) with their insistence on tithing. Solving the free-rider problem is another key element in his theory of economic comparisons, a problem which must be solved for the religion to survive. But, the Witnesses have not worked to solve such a problem. If someone wishes to ride free, so be it. They are convinced that not enough people will choose to do that so as to sink the entire enterprise. ‘Let the giver give freely,’ says the scripture. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

In recent years, Mormons have rebranded themselves as Latter Day Saints. I don’t wish them ill on this, but I think it will not take. Jehovah’s Witnesses changed their name, too, in 1931, from that of the International Bible Students. That name change did take. No one calls them International Bible Students anymore. But the Mormon name change is heading from specific (Mormon) to general (Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ), whereas the Witnesses went from general (International Bible students) to specific (Jehovah’s Witnesses). You can go in one direction but not the other. People don’t trade the specific for the general, particularly if they want to deride you as a cult.

Are either religions ‘cults?’ The criteria for cult classification used to be: If you fell under the spell of a charismatic leader, withdrew from society, and began doing strange things, you just might be a member of a cult. By this definition, neither faiths are cults. Their leaders are anything but charismatic—some are an acquired taste to listen to. They don’t withdraw from life, but continue in work and school in the greater community. Do they do ‘strange things?’ It’s in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but there was a time when speaking about one’s faith was not considered overly strange. They are not cults by the old standard. Scholars of religion call them ‘new religions’ so as to avoid the incendiary connotations of ‘cult.’

The definition of cult has changed dramatically over the years, expanded to include unpopular, out-of-the-mainstream, groups, attributing that out-of-the-mainstream aspect to ‘undue psychological influence.’ Accordingly, some faiths that were once on one side of the C-word are now on the other. Mormons must speak for themselves, but Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t really care which side of the word they are on so long as the Bible is on the same side. And they believe that it is. If they are a cult, it is because the Bible is a cult manual. If it is, they are. if it is not, they aren’t. When Demas abandoned Paul because “he loved the present system of things” (2 Timothy 4:10), would Demas himself have chosen those personally unflattering words? ‘These guys are a cult,’ is what he probably said—if not immediately, then with the passage of time.

The latest manifestation of a ‘freedom of mind’ obsession that derides religion, and particularly organized minority religion, is found in a recent commentary on the young, which summarizes it thus: “They. Really. Don’t. Like. Organized. Religion.” That sentence (if it is one) says it all. I know the following is symbolic, but as symbolism goes, it doesn’t get any better. Today’s ‘freedom of mind’ people are so fiercely independent they can’t even stand for words to be organized properly, lest one unduly influence another.

You organize to get things done. If you don’t care about getting things done, you don’t organize. To spread the news of God’s kingdom worldwide in a way that does not quickly devolve into a theologian’s quagmire of individual opinion seems to Jehovah’s Witnesses a project worth organizing for. So they do it. And they put up with how in any organization, there will be flaws, since everything humans touch is flawed. “We have this treasure [of the ministry] in earthen vessels” [us—with all our imperfections] the NT writer advises. (2 Corinthians 4:7) But cast aside such organization and one presently becomes indistinguishable from the evolving and declining standards of the greater world. So Witnesses hang in there, repeating if need be the Rolling Stones lyric, “You can’t always get what you want.” It works so much better than the Stone’s other mantra: “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

(See: Introduction to the Study of Religion--Charles B Jones, Great Courses, Lecture 9)

******  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'