Sociologists Recognize the Practice of Religion is Rational--it Only Took Till 1987 (Stark and Baimbridge)
Who We Are and Why We Are and Where We Are Going?

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'


The comments to this entry are closed.