Who Are the Apostates?

Nobody has apostates like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Theirs are the best. Nobody has apostates more determined. Nobody has apostates more prolific. It is almost as though I am proud of them. I very nearly am. If they flourished in the first century, they should flourish now. If they didn’t flourish now, one would have to wonder why.

They certainly did flourish back then. There is no writer of the New Testament that does not feel obliged to come to grips with them. “I know that…from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves,” warns the faithful apostle at Acts 20: 29-30. “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled, and they will turn their ears away from the truth,” he repeats at 2 Timothy 4:3.

If Christianity is among the greatest themes of all time, then combatting apostates is one of the greatest subthemes of all time. Every religion has them, but especially those with Judeo-Christian underpinnings, in which context the word is specifically defined. The Greek verb form means “to stand away from.” The noun form has the sense of “desertion, abandonment, or rebellion.” It is those who have ‘been there and done that.’ If one has not been there and done that, one cannot be an apostate, no matter how much one may dislike a religion.

If there was to be “a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled, and they will turn their ears away from the truth,” it stands to reason that such a period would have commenced long ago, with the end product the cacophony of religious offerings that exist today. Let another book written by another author deal with who’s who. I will focus my attention on Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian denomination with the fiercest apostates. One can even make the case that the more namby-pamby the apostates, the more they are that way because they have already chalked up major wins. Where they are the most virulent, it is because they have yet to make significant dent in the core and are tearing out their hair in the unrelenting effort.

Apostasy is said to be a “mystery” in scripture. It might well seem so to the outsider looking in, for it involves persons attacking those who were once their closest friends with a ferocity that is breathtaking. “Why don’t they just move on in life?” the typical observer will say. The reasons behind the apostasy themselves are less a mystery. Most are covered with but a few simple Bible passages. The apostates are like Demas, who forsook Paul because “he loved the present system of things.” Though they tested the waters, they “went out from us” because “they were not of our sort.” Their former friends became misled fools to them when “the Master kept delaying.” They were stumbled, and woe to the one stumbling them. Nonetheless, the psalm that would have helped them is: “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.” (2 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 2:19, Matthew 24:48, Mark 9:42, Psalm 119:165)

The law they were to love, and once did, is “God’s law.” It is not the law of human government. Suffice it to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses put no stock in human government. All human governments will drop the ball. Usually it is a bowling ball, and the only pertinent question that remains is upon which toe will it land. As people ponder the vulnerability of their right and left toes, thus is decided their politics. Jehovah’s Witnesses discard it all as secondary, and they do not let such differences disrupt the peace of the congregation.

They obey the governments under which they live. If one considers how little cost they put upon agencies of law enforcement or tax collection, they are the most loyal citizens of any nation. They do what they are told, not because they are weaklings, but because they consider it but a secondary point. In every country they say to the ‘king:’ “Tell us your rules for maintaining public order and we will follow them.” It is a different matter when the law of the king conflicts with the law of God, but that situation is relatively rare. Usually one can “render Caesar’s things to Caesar and God’s things to God” without undue fuss.

Jehovah’s Witnesses put their stock in what they would term “divine government,” rather than that of humans. As a practical matter, that is expressed though a human agency they refer to at present as their Governing Body. They consider these ones charged with applying the Bible to modern times, just as in the United States and most other lands, a Supreme Court is charged with applying a Constitution to modern times. Governing Body members are not infallible. They strive to lead by example, and there is a scene I will not quickly forget of a representative, for illustrative purposes, pulling a string on a table by a finger placed firmly atop one end. “See how the rest of it nicely follows?” he points out. “What happens if I try to push the string?” and upon doing so, it wads up. “It really isn’t very smart of me to do it this way, is it?” he says.

The most likely area for apostasy to surface is at the divine/human interface. It was even true with Judas. He and God were tight. There were absolutely no problems there! But that character masquerading as the Messiah—why, he wasn’t at all what Judas had expected. And those yokels he was attracting? Don’t even go there.

It becomes quickly apparent that a religion with which the year text is “Anything goes” will produce few apostates. What would they apostatize from? Repeatedly we read in scripture that apostates “despise authority.” How does that become a problem unless there is authority? They love “lawlessness.” How does that become a problem unless there is law? They favor acts of “brazen conduct.” They have “eyes full of adultery,” and they are “unable to desist from sin.” How does that become a problem unless there is someone to tell that they cannot carry on that way? Not only is the nature of apostates revealed in the above verses of Jude and 2 Peter 2, but also the nature of the Christian organization. A faith too bland to produce quality apostates is too bland to be given the time of day.

When offering testimony about whatever faith they have apostatized from, their testimony cannot be relied upon exclusively, but must be corroborated by independent sources. The bias they reveal may be considerable, as Lonnie D. Kliever, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University, writes:

“There is no denying that these dedicated and diehard opponents of the new religions present a distorted view of the new religions to the public, the academy, and the courts by virtue of their ready availability and eagerness to testify against their former religious associations and activities. Such apostates always act out of a scenario that vindicates themselves by shifting responsibility for their actions to the religious group. Indeed, the various brainwashing scenarios so often invoked against the new religious movements have been overwhelmingly repudiated by social scientists and religion scholars as nothing more than calculated efforts to discredit the beliefs and practices of unconventional religions in the eyes of governmental agencies and public opinion. Such apostates can hardly be regarded as reliable informants by responsible journalists, scholars, or jurists. Even the accounts of voluntary defectors with no grudges to bear must be used with caution since they interpret their past religious experience in the light of present efforts to re-establish their own self-identity and self-esteem.”

It doesn’t mean they must be ignored. It just means they must always be taken with a substantial grain of salt. John Gordon Melton, an American religious scholar cautions “that hostile ex-members would invariably shade the truth and blow out of proportion minor incidents, turning them into major incidents.”

When they leave a “new religion,” the current non-prejudicial term for those founded within the last century or two, less incendiary than the newly-expanded term “cult,” they have a lot of explaining to do. It is not as though they have switched from Chevrolet to Ford. They have abandoned goals and practices perhaps followed for decades to embrace ones that in many respects represent the very opposite. How best to account for such a flip-flop without suggesting that they were dupes? What could be better than lodging a “brainwashing” claim, asserting that they were “misled,” that, really, they are no more stupid than you—if it happened to them, it could have just as easily happened to anyone? It is an irresistible ploy.

Professor David Bromley, author of The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movement, “explained how individuals who elect to leave a chosen faith must then become critical of their religion in order to justify their departure…Others may ask, if the group is as transparently evil as he now contends, why did he espouse its cause in the first place? In the process of trying to explain his own seduction and to confirm the worst fears about the group, the apostate is likely to paint a caricature of the group that is shaped more by his current role as apostate than by his actual experience in the group.”

Of course! If one leaves a group that truly is “no part of the world,” as Jesus said his followers would be, to pursue a course fully part of that world, there is a lot of catching up to do. There has been a lot of falling behind the curve, and there is a lot of time to be made up. Particularly if one has given up the faith for atheism, then there is only a short time left, and previous years comprising the majority of one’s life may appear to have been wasted. The temptation to resort to a thought-control defense is irresistible.

Apostates of the world have managed to unite under an anti-cult common umbrella. They come from many different faiths, and find that they have much in common. All of their former faiths were cults—they are smarting from their wounds—that did them great damage by deflecting from the truly fine goals of life. A prominent one, let us call him Steve, spent his early days as a ‘Moonie,’ the common name for those of the Unification Church. He now spends his time helping people to escape cults, and he has expanded the definition well beyond Moonies.

I know little about the Moonies, per se, and have nothing specifically against them. I share the common perception that they drop out of society, dress strangely, and used to interact with the public primarily to sell them things, such as flowers. Even this must be put into context, for there were plenty of Steve’s generation who became actual “flower children” of the sixties. They turned on, tuned in, and dropped out of contemporary society, and to this day they are not criticized for it, even when they enhanced their experience with mind-altering drugs.

A generation or two before them there were the hoboes, often educated men, who dropped out of society, roaming the country via railroad boxcars, which were not hard to surreptitiously board. “Stay away from the hoboes,” Gram told my Dad when he has a boy. Of course, he went right down to the woods to hang out with the hoboes, and he says they generally were the most gentle and peaceable folk you might ever hope to meet. When one came into town, he might ask for a meal. When there was extra in the pantry, a resident might feed them. They would sit on the porch nice as you please eating their meal, and upon leaving, would make a mark on the house so that other hoboes would know a free meal could be had there. If you left things lying about, they would steal you blind, but only take what they needed for their immediate future.

Drop outs are not uncommon. There have always been drop-outs. They are even a romanticized segment of society. But let there be a God component to it and all hell breaks loose. Isn’t that all the Moonies are guilty of, throwing an interpretation of God into the mix? Steve came to be upset with them, for they ‘stole’ his early life. But there really aren’t that many of them. Like a growth industry, he began to target other groups who, unlike the Moonies, did not drop out of society, in fact, they often improved their role significantly in it, such as by overcoming addictions. These new targets mixed in with regular society just fine, often better than before, as some of them dropped the criminal activity they had once engaged in. But they looked to a different source for direction. Let us be blunt. The modern anti-cult movement is an effort to stop them from doing that. It is an attempt to put persons on the same page and prevent them departing from script.

Think twice before you do it. Dr. Asseem Malhotra states: “We all have to realize that society has been manufactured in a way where we simply give up our own mind to someone else, who has been given theirs by someone else...from birth, we are programmed to think a certain way by somebody else.” Dr. Malhotra is a cardiologist and he is referring to standard regimens of health, but the principles apply widely. If the prevailing mindset was so productive and healthful, surely you could expect the world thus built to reflect that. Think twice before you shut down pathways to explore and perhaps even reject the status quo.

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t cotton to the status quo of human rulership. They like what they would characterize as “God’s rulership.” Their assessment of history is that of Ecclesiastes 8:9—that “man has dominated man to his injury.” They agree with Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, that “to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” Human government is a disaster, they say, and they align their lives with “divine rulership” and the human organization they think best represents it, that unitedly spearheads the telling of the “good news of God’s kingdom” the world over.

Because the religion is consequential, it is resisted by the anti-cultists. Because under its influence people make decisions they would not make otherwise—and in some cases later come to reassess—the anti-cultists would like to stamp it out. If it confined its role to supporting the customary goals of society, they would have no problem with it. It is as Jesus says: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own.”

The more that a religion stands for things in contrast to the prevailing thinking, the more it will produce apostates. The more that it maintains a separateness from the greater world, the more it will produce apostates. Ones who cross the chasm from faith to anti-faith may hope that former relationships will not suffer, but they invariably will. It is a chasm they have crossed, not a dotted line. Anything with a significant upside will have a downside, and if one negates the upside, there remains nothing to focus upon but the downside—a point particularly applicable to those former members who have opted for atheism.

The outrage that some of these apostates express initially sets one back on one’s heels. However, outrage is the new normal today, and one must expect that going in. Following the commentary on world news for a week or so will dispel any doubt that outrage is the name of the game today. A Pew survey released during August 2018 revealed that, pertaining to the politics of the two major parties, not only can Americans not agree on how to act in light of the facts, but they cannot even agree on what the facts are. With no agreement on the facts there can be no starting point for discussion. If it is true of two parties which both occupy the here and now, how much more so of two parties, one whose view of the future is eternity, the other is that the next few decades. How much more so of two parties, one of which dismisses the “pearl of high price” as a ‘been there done that?’ Just what will there be to talk about?

“If a man dies, can he live again?” is the question at Job 14:14. “Of course,” says the Witness. “No way,” says the ex-Witness. The former looks at any sacrifices of the present life as but delayed gratification, the sort that does a person’s character nothing but good, the sort that is integral to any raising of a child. The latter looks upon it as foolishness on steroids, for ‘this life is all there is.’ Just what will there be to talk about?

They lie as submerged rocks poised to rip out whatever floats your boat. The lie they tell is more subtle than many of them know—in fact, it is a lie only in the eye of the beholder. It is the same as the first lie told in Genesis: “You certainly will not die. God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” Take the verse symbolically. Take it literally. Either way the lesson is the same. Not only is the first woman told a lie, but more significantly, it is a lie told with a bad motive. “He is trying to deprive you of freedom and independence,” the charge goes, but “don’t let Him fool you. You don’t need Him. You can decide for yourselves what is good and what is bad.”

What of the ‘facts’ apostates may want to bring to the faithful one’s attention, ones they say that caused them to jump ship? Proverbs 21:2 is useful to consider: “Every way of a man is upright in his own eyes, but Jehovah is making an estimate of hearts.” Of course! Everyone is right in his own eyes. Everyone tells facts that are true. Nobody tells facts that are not true. It is how those facts are organized and prioritized that counts, and that is a matter of heart, which Jehovah assesses. The bare facts they present are often accurate, but they are entirely misrepresented and put into a context either untrue or highly subjective.

They revel in their new found “freedom.” No longer will they suffer traveling on the “cramped and narrow” road that Jesus spoke about. (Matthew 7:14) He must have been crazy. He was just trying to suppress human freedom with his “mind-control.” No more! Now the road is broad and spacious and deliriously exciting.

I don’t like them, and they don’t like me. If someone positively loathes my best friend—what if it were my wife?—are they going to be my chum? I don’t think so. Yes, yes, my wife is an actual person that can be seen, (indeed, it is hard to take one’s eyes off her) whereas God is a spirit, but it is close enough. I I may come to respect them but I am not their pal.  They seek to draw others into their course. “While they are promising them freedom, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for if anyone is overcome by someone, he is his slave,” says 2 Peter 2. In the case of those that have followed the path of atheism, if the only freedom you can offer expires in a few decades, just how much freedom do you truly have to offer?

“Certainly, if after escaping from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, their final state has become worse for them than the first. It would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it to turn away from the holy commandment they had received,” says the apostle Peter. (vs 19-21) “Leave them be” is the counsel. Send them packing should they come around. “Look out that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception according to human tradition, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to the Christ,” says Paul at Colossians 2:8. “Keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary  to the teaching that you have learned, and avoid them,” he says again at Romans 16:17. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching [of the Christ], never receive him into your homes or say a greeting,” says John.

For the one holding the course, the situation is no more complicated than for the one who, having determined that he has taken in altogether too much junk food over the years, and that it has done him much harm, resolves to diet. The last thing in the world that person wants is someone stuffing his pantry with cupcakes, cookies, and chips, his fridge with ice cream, and urging him to relax his ridiculous diet so as to “enjoy life” and “live a little.”—nothing is so delicious as ice cream! Our healthy dieter just doesn’t need to have that person around. He will almost wish he could dig a moat around the house so as not to let him in.

He has determined, upon examination, that the cruise ship is going down. He has boarded the lifeboat, where it is not so luxurious as on the main ship. He doesn’t need those who have swum back to re-board crowing about the fine wining, dining and dancing that they have resumed. It is fine, as well, to avoid the companionship of those who gripe and complain about the cramped quarters on the lifeboat. And when determined to quit smoking, one does well to avoid the company of ones who do so like chimneys. The principle is well understood and can be illustrated through numerous examples. Only when spirituality is thrown into the mix do some suddenly go obtuse, but the underlying logic is no different.

As a nation looks to its constitution, so does the Witness organization to the Bible. The counsel will be to avoid its apostates. “Taste and see that Jehovah is good,” says the psalm. They have tasted and “seen” that he is bad. What is there to talk about? There will be no persuading them, for they have deliberately crossed the chasm. The only possible outcome is they may attain their goal and persuade the one yet holding the course—the reverse will not happen, because it already has happened and they tired of it. “Did you know that your people are not perfect? Did you know that they have made mistakes? Did you know that they have been inconsistent?” they ask—all of which the Christian does know, if not specifically, then certainly in principle. The final Bible Book of Revelation describes, in chapters 2 and 3, several congregations meant to symbolically stand for the whole. Some of them are veritable basket cases, with problems quite serious. But that does not mean that they are not congregations.

The counsel to avoid apostates is good. It is biblical. One could hardly argue otherwise, scripturally. Yet there is a downside. Any military general realizes that he must know what the scoundrels across the divide are up to. Become too insular, and the apostate almost becomes the “bogeyman” of mysterious powers—the mere exposure to his words is enough to thwart years of alignment to God. It is a mystery status that they do not deserve. There is nothing mysterious about them. Their reasons for departure are un-mysteriously human, though they may be not readily reversible. They have cast aside what they once embraced for the thoroughly understandable and human reasons outlined previously.

It really doesn’t take that much to get one’s head around the opposition. They write and speak prolifically, but it’s quite repetitive. They make noise far disproportionate to their size—but that does not mean that there are not many of them. Are they truly a myriad, or have they managed to inflate their numbers, like Gideon’s 300 troops that convinced the enemy they numbered in the tens of thousands? It is not easy to tell. In a world of several billion people one can find countless examples of anything. Assemble them in one place and, why—it would seem that no other cause must exist.

There are people who will not do something until you tell them that they should not. “Stay away from the hoboes,” Gram told Dad, so he went right down there to hang with them. It is a universal law of human nature, and it is not usually wise to give in to it. It is why the curious cat needs every one of its nine lives. At times our own young people, wondering what all the fuss is about, goaded on that only a wus is afraid even to look here or there, succumbs to that universal law and launches his or her own investigation. Sometimes they are floored to find what they never expected to find. Arguably, they might have benefited from prior “vaccination”—exposure to just a little bit of the malady so that they might have worked up an immunity for it.

As an adult, even as a young adult, one is in position to leave childhood roots. Many choose to do so. But is the course wise while one is yet in one’s teenage years? It smacks too much of Mark Twain’s supposed saying: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Perhaps this writer can help some of these “bad” boys and girls, for alas—he too is being bad. Let us not spin it any other way. He is being a bad boy, pure and simple, sailing past godly counsel as though Odysseus thumbing his nose at Poseidon. “Battle not with the monsters, lest ye become a monster,” writes one of the apostate’s own prophets, for “if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss gazes back.” Does this writer observe that good sense? He heedlessly hollers down the abyss: “Yo! Anybody down there?!” for the sake of a hopefully good read.

But if he is a bad boy in this one area, he is a good boy in all others, universally liked in his circuit because he is a peacemaker who is not wound up too tight. He steers clear of the six Proverbs things that God hates, a list that magically expand to seven, including “feet that in are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches forth lies, and anyone sending forth contentions among brothers.” His feet stay planted on terra firma, he launches nothing but rectitude, and he soothes contentions away.

In battling the “apostates” on the pages to come, one name will pop up more than all others combined—unfortunately suggesting that I have it in for this one personally. This is not the case. Many do what he does. I just happened to latch onto him first. It could have been one of many people. A writer needs not only a muse. He also needs a villain, and I frequented where I knew there were villains galore. In the unlikely event that he should feel picked on, (I suspect he will welcome the publicity) I offer my apology. More likely he will feel honored, and he should.  He and his have succeeded advancing the game to another level, and that must be respected. But it is the same game. It simply requires an adaptation in response. To some extent, it is a shame to name anyone, hero or villain, because it is not about individuals. It is about the ideas they represent. Still, if an idea can be personalized, it makes for more a interesting read. We are all people persons, after all.

For purposes of this book, this oft referred to chieftain replaces a fellow we shall call Danny, a former Witness turned sour, a man who came to have an extraordinary reach. If anyone posted anything anywhere about Jehovah’s Witnesses and there was room to comment, his was one of the first. Always his contribution was malicious and almost always it was irrelevant to the post. Visiting his own site, I noted that he billed himself as an expert witness in the case of custody lawsuits where one parent or the other was a Jehovah’s Witness and an expert witness in lawsuits against manufacturers of anti-depressants, apparently not realizing that each claim undercut his credibility for the other. I remember him for posting an almost maniacal laugh that he was getting the ultimate revenge on his former religion, because his retorts were everywhere, and they would last forever! He forgot to mention that they would also quickly be buried in the digital avalanche that is the Internet. Today he is unheard of. Witnesses ought not gloat about this, however, for he has been replaced by a legion of others.

“The first man to state his case is right, but then his opponent searches him through,” says the Proverb. Let us do exactly that. “However, here are some ground rules, TrueTom,” I tell myself: Don’t be goaded. Never make it personal. Remember that everyone has the right to interpret his or her own experience. Accept going in that you will be excoriated. Don’t expect to get in the last word. The key to staying dispassionate lies in knowing that you are going to lose the battle. The enemies will have their day in the sun before it all turns around.

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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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'

“The Future’s so Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”—Why?

“Let us hold firmly the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful,” says Hebrews 10.

Some have wavered to such an extent that they all but sing of this world, ‘The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!’—even though the songwriters themselves meant it’s so bright as to require shades on account of likely nukes!

Wikipedia: “Contrary to popular belief, [the song intended] a "grim" outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The "job waiting" after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events.“

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Future's_So_Bright,_I_Gotta_Wear_Shades

Everywhere people are dismayed at the basket case that is today’s world. Everywhere they have a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Only some ‘escapees’ from the faith say in all seriousness, ‘the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.’ So strong is the urge to kick over the traces. So strong is their newfound confidence in human rule apart from God. Sheesh.

‘Why do you Jehovah’s Witnesses always have to believe things are getting worse?’ one wiseacre said to me. ‘What is it about that view that does it for you?’

‘It helps me to explain why the Doomsday Clock reads 90 seconds to midnight and not 10:30 AM,’ I answered.

It’s like a bad accident,’ a neighbor said about the news. ‘You know you should look away but you can’t.’

******  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 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'

It’s War!

It’s war! we’re told, 5EE87FB1-08DA-4CF1-BA9D-6AC0C5F03C31What kind of war is it? Is it the kind of war where one dresses in the forest in bright red like the Revolutionary War British and nothing could be easier than to pick them off?

Is it the kind of war where you hunker down in the trenches and lob letters that you know by faith will find their targets?

Is it the kind of war where you send out some Hushais to thwart the counsel of conniving Ahithophel, such that when he saw that his counsel was thwarted he went out and strangled himself as a forerunner of Judas? Yeah—that’s what I’m talking about! (2 Samuel 15:34, 17:7, 23)

Whatever kind of war Jehovah’s Witnesses fight, it’s a war where you don’t speak ill even of those who speak ill of you. In overturning the verdict of the Russian Supreme Court (and the next day Russia withdrew from the European Union rather than abide by the decision), the European Court of Human rights noted, “…it is significant that the texts [used to assert that JWs were “extremists”] did not insult, hold up to ridicule or slander non-Witnesses; nor did they use abusive terms in respect of them or of matters regarded as sacred by them.”

Enemies foment ‘trouble by decree,’ says Psalm 94:20. But sometimes the decrees are overruled—like this one of a lower court that said Witnesses couldn’t disfellowship as a last-ditch attempt at discipline and then the high court of the land (Belgium) said they could. No Witnesses had been consulted in that first trial, the High Court found, only their critics. Without internal discipline, it is impossible for a faith to be not swayed by shifting societal norms. That is the war—between those who want such swaying to occur and those who want the faith to stay true to its biblical charter.

There was also a rebuke of that country’s ‘anti-cult watchdog’ for issuing a report based on allegations, press clippings, and television offerings—the distinguishing feature being that any allegation that could be checked turned out to be false. Again, no Witnesses had been consulted. For a land that claims to be democratic, you’d almost think they’d allow people to defend themselves.  “The judgment will surely become a key precedent.  . . that scholars of religion are a more reliable source on these matters than journalists and anti-cultists, and that governmental agencies dealing with the alleged “danger of the cults” are not above the law and can be legally prosecuted when they spread false information and slander.” wrote BitterWinter.

Then there was Special Secret Agent Jack Ryan—yes, ‘JackRyan’ was his handle. Witnesses don’t have anyone who corresponds to this, nor even a Hushai. Special Agent Ryan, who issued a ‘Special Report’ of an ‘agent down’ at Bethel. Seems they recruited a young woman already there, who they knew or should have known, had some instability to her personality, and they sent her rifling through the Bethel files! She was found out.

Jack appears flabbergasted that HQ is not cool with this, as though any other organization would be. They 'interrogated her' for two days, he reports. The 'interrogation' was so grueling that she reported for a second day, when it was discovered that her pilfering was not for some innocuous cause or some misunderstanding, but to spirit whatever she found to Jack’s friends who have dedicated their lives to working against kingdom interests. Bethel showed her the door. 

"It was reported that when she arrived home, her Jehovah's Witness family and friends treated her terribly," Jack’s SPECIAL REPORT says, as though any other family would be bursting with pride to see their offspring attempting sabotage on what they held dear. He doesn’t clarify “treating her terribly,” which you think he would have done if it was truly that terrible. Doubtless she didn’t receive a hero’s welcome.

The story then takes a tragic turn. She took her life, triggering Jack’s ‘Special Report.’

I told him that if it had really happened, he killed her himself—maybe not he personally but his ‘team.’ They recruited an inexperienced and vulnerable young woman, and filled her head with nonsense of how she was a guerrilla freedom fighter liberating the oppressed, that her people would thank her like the flying monkeys of Oz thanked Dorothy for dousing the wicked witch, etc, oblivious and uncaring to the certain trouble that would befall her when she was found out. These people are crazy.

It’s fine for JackRyan (aka a Tom Clancy CIA spy character) to fantasize like an adolescent, but to manipulate others into his world of paranoia—well, he presents the consequences. And then he thinks issuing a Special Report will cover the damage. 

Sheesh! It’s as though he tries to recruit Tom Cruise on his mission to take out Witness HQ. Tom Cruise turns him down, not because the mission is impossible, but because it is ridiculous. He knows Jack and his are mostly hacks trying to settle old scores and work off grudges who should have moved on in life ages ago.

If Jack’s team must assign blame for the young woman's death, surely it is themselves they should point to. Recruiting someone once a fine servant of God, perhaps someone dismayed upon finding life was not Santa and the elves, but that there are real people doing their flawed best—and using her to further their own ends. I'm tired of their hate. Many of these ones have turned to atheism, so they are beyond all question "fighters against God." (Acts 5:37-18)

No war is fought without plenty of espionage but with Jehovah’s Witnesses there really doesn’t seem to be any. They do with their critics as Jesus did with his critics: “Do you know that the Pharisees stumbled at hearing what you said?” he was asked. “Let them be,” Jesus replied. “Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15: 12-14) Start to tussle with him and maybe you’ll fall in, too. As Nietzsche put it: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

******  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'

Little Enemies of God

Vic Vomodog, with whom I used to pull shoulder to shoulder in the work! —just like a couple of oxen, was busy as an ox throughout the Pursue Peace Regional Convention, taking detailed notes! Afterwards, he threw at me:

“I know you wouldn’t dare comment on what GB Stephen Lett said during your convention,” before quoting Lett’s, “You hear people say of a little baby, ‘look at that little angel’, but more accurate would be to say, ‘look at that little enemy of God’”

You don’t think so, do you?

“Then Tom Harley, also called Tom Sheepandgoats, becoming fed up, looked at him intently  and said: “O man full of every sort of fraud and every sort of villainy, you son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah?  (Acts 13:9-10)

What Lett said was: 

“Now, if we think about it, we're not born as friends of God because we're born as sinful offspring of Adam. Actually, when we think about it, we're born as enemies of God. Sometimes you'll hear people say of a little baby, ‘Look at that little angel,’ but more accurate would be to say, ‘Look at that little enemy of God.’ Now, of course we love that little baby and it's now not hopeless because our loving creator has made reconciliation with him within the reach of everyone. We can become a good friend of God and that close relationship with Jehovah will become our most valuable possession.”

Notice how he twice said, ‘when we think about it?’ You have to do that—think about things. You don’t just parrot sound bites to make people you don’t like look bad. O, you spiteful fellow, who quotes scripture by the bushel basket but never lays hold on the one that applies, besides the reference to Adam in Genesis, the place to focus is here:

“…through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.” Romans 5:12

when we were enemies we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” by exercising faith in him, which a baby cannot yet do, and thus is temporarily ‘grandfathered’ via the faith of it’s parents. (vs 10)

Now, as for Bro Lett, for a guy who will quote Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test out words As the tongue tastes food?” you’d almost think he’d test them out a little more before letting loose with a phrase that every evil cherry picker will use to “distort the right ways of Jehovah.”

But I hate to think what Vomodog would have done to Jesus for his, ‘Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.’ John 6:54-55

Vomodog taunted, “Please tell me if he is truly adhering to and following Christ as a model.”

Taking into consideration that passage in John, I would say Lett is supremely adhering to and following Christ as a model, in fact, more so than any of the other HQ staff.

Imagine: what sort of vile person would comb through a convention in which every talk explores the theme verse (Psalm 34:14) ‘Seek peace and pursue it’ to find and exploit a faux pas?

223E2A01-5736-431A-9334-BBFBA35A0A40

Gif: Crying baby gifs/ tenor

It may be just an example of God ‘laughing at the wisdom of this systems’s wise ones,’ proof that his anointed are, as in the first century, seldom of ‘noble birth,’ nor ‘wise,’ but decidedly ‘uneducated and ordinary.’

I’ll take substance over style any day. Turn on the TV and you can see endless people whose ‘style’ is impeccable. Among them are some of the stupidest people whom God ever let roam the earth.

 

******  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'

Yikes! A Bad Review of TrueTom vs the Apostates: Part 1

Vic Vomodog screamed at me, the way he does these days—and to think we once pulled shoulder to shoulder in the great work! “When you even USE THE TERM ‘overlapping generations’, it admits tacitly that a generation is A GENERATION which has a singular definition.”

Look, this is not hard. From the standpoint of the listener, the generation of  his contemporaries ends when the lifespans of every one of them has expired. The lifespans of geezers like myself go back 100 years. The lifespans of my grandkids go 100 years in the other direction.

It’s a Bible interpretation. Can I prove it? No. Can I disprove it? No. But it is not particularly hard to understand. Should the bros have made it? I have no idea; it’s not my call. If it’s wrong it’s on them. All I have to do is acknowledge, ‘Well, that’s what they’re saying these days.’

Why risk joining those donkeys from 2 Peter heehawing over how since the days of our forefathers all things are exactly the same?* I see the malcontents on the ex forum ecstatic over how, now that they have cut loose from the faith, the world is their oyster, offering them boundless possibilities for personal fulfillment. Everyone else knows it’s going to hell in a handbasket.

F884A127-98A3-40F1-9D8B-286E65A44F88Though few of them would know who was president the year prior to their birth, they have made themselves “expert” on a tiny sliver of ancient Persian history. The exJW who emailed me a few times and then left a nasty review of the masterpiece ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates’ (UK site) based that review on the 607 topic that is nowhere even mentioned in the book. I mean, if I write a bad review of ‘Gone With the Wind’ it shouldn’t be because I don’t like wind. What this means is I need a few loyal ones to write reviews to balance it out. But even if I get more bad reviews, it’s the tonnage that better puts it on the radar. I mean, the promo material of the book alone makes clear it will be a good read, or at least a unique one. I’ve never seen anyone else cover the material in depth. Nor is it the end. Already it is time for ‘Round 2’ but there are several intervening projects.

(Photo:Gone with the Wind Museum in Marietta.jpg, Wikipedia)

So eager is this fellow to undermine his former religion—and yes, I have the email exchange, which I will reproduce in time—that he cites some book claiming WWI was not that big of a deal, that there have been many similar ‘world wars’ and that even WWI wasn’t originally called that. ‘Yeah, it’s because they didn’t realize at the time there as going to be a sequel,’ I told him When they did, that would have been the perfect time for them to rechristen it “World War VII” per his theory. If I didn’t know better (and I don’t unless/until I check it out) I’d say the book was written solely to undermine Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have never heard of world war redefined.

I really don’t mind if it breaks down this way. Whatever the merits of 607, it does call attention to the fact that God has a timetable. Irrespective of our efforts to figure it out, he does have one. Let these guys take the other side of that—that he doesn’t, and in fact, there is no government of God nor even any need for one, that humans are doing pretty well on their own, thank you very much. Let them take that side. It goes back to the original issue from Eden. God says humans can’t rule themselves (know good and bad). They say they can. I don’t mind it shaking out that way.

“The game is the same; it’s just up on another level,” to put Bob Dylan’s words in a context he never dreamed they would be put in.

*First of all know this, that in the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

To be continued….here

(Not to worry: This does not mean the series ‘Things that drive you crazy about the faith—and how to view them” is complete. It has just been temporarily superseded.)

******  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'

Things that Drive You Crazy About the Faith—and How to View Them: Part 8

This is a multi-part series. See Preface,  2nd Preface,  Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Each part links to the next.

6364D3A1-D9AD-4FC9-BEAE-274B93E23AD4How to help your teenager? is the theme of a recent series of talks. Several pointers are offered, all valid and good. But the elephant in the room is ignored because revelation says nothing about it. Maybe that teen who needs help is over there on the anti-JW Internet forum where he is drinking up bile by the vatful directed against his faith. Yet discovering that he is will do nothing to help those trained in ‘knowledge through revelation.’ They don’t know what is there, and ‘revelation’ tells them not to find out. “This means war!” one brother says about the contest with apostates, and doesn’t touch on how the very first thing you do in war is seek detailed reconnaissance on the enemy—know what they are doing and saying—if only to effectively pop them one in the jaw.

It just makes for odd situations, the counsel to avoid at all costs apostate speech. It makes for illustrations such as, ‘would you drink even a little bit of poison?’ although you do exactly that when you take one of the old-style vaccines (not the new-style RNA ones), the kind that gives you just a little bit of the disease to stimulate your body to mount a defense against it. It creates an almost superstitious fear of apostates for the power they supposedly wield. It creates a convention part in which a decades-long record of faith goes up in smoke when the person begins reading material ‘critical of Jehovah’s organization.’ That can happen?

It can, but ‘knowledge via revelation’ of how disastrous is apostate speech can lead one to think it is the mere words that sink a person. An empirical approach would be to heed what psychologists say: You do well to avoid ‘toxic people,’ because over time they corrode your well-being. There is something about aggressive apostasy—directing massive energy against former friends—that all but screams ‘toxic people,’ like the psycho ex-divorce-mate who just cannot let go.

If errors were what you watch, O Jah, Then who, O Jehovah, could stand?” says Psalm 130:3. It is ‘knowledge by revelation.’ In this case it dovetails perfectly with ‘knowledge by experience.’ When it comes to the enemies of anyone today, errors are all people watch. They also magnify, enhance, and sometime concoct—see it play out on the internet with any public figure. Nobody ‘can stand’ in the face of the constant onslaught.

The very first thing you do to attack the faith is ‘strike the shepherd,’ so that the ‘sheep will scatter.’ One need not even drop the pretense of loving God that way, but can pose as a ‘freedom fighter’ or some such role. It was arguably even true with Judas. He and God were tight—there were no problems there! But that fraudster claiming to be the messiah was not at all what Judas was expecting, and so he turned upon him.

Interestingly, the final straw with Judas appears to be Jesus’ words, “For you always have the poor with you, and you can do them good whenever you want to, but you will not always have me.” (Mark 14:7) ‘He’s selfish, he just thinks of himself!’ says Judas to himself, and off he goes to blow him in (vs 10). So it is today when the earthly organization heeds revelation at Galatians 6:10 to do good “especially toward those related to us in the faith,” rather than try to fix the world in general. Apostates spin that as selfish.

Recent statements that God and his son trusts the faithful and discreet slave prompts malcontents to pull their hair out trying to assert that he doesn’t. The statement comes from ‘knowledge through revelation.’ Not only does the Word say it of current responsible ones, called the faithful and discreet slave—it says it of ones in the first century. Peter was trusted—and then went weak-kneed at a critical moment. Furthermore, it was just as challenging looking into the future then as it is today. “The saying went out among the brothers that [John] would not die,” we’re told. (John 21:23) How wrong was that one? Maybe John thought it himself. Often the trick is not to sanitize the present. It is to desanitize the past. First century persons taking the lead betrayed abundant human foibles. God and Christ trusted them nonetheless.

Even the general revulsion over apostasy comes from ‘knowledge through revelation.’ “Taste and see that Jehovah is good,” says Psalm 34:8. They have tasted and seen he is bad—not a promising start for bridge building, even though I tried—a little. After several persons were put off by the imagery of ‘Vomidog’ in Tom Irregardless and Me, I softened the house apostate’s name to Vic Vomodog, even though the original is a play on scripture: “What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog has returned to its own vomit . . .” I’m glad for it. Vomodog suggests the original but doesn’t rub your nose in it. It is a quirky and quizzical name in it’s own right.

Alas, it is human nature that the best way to get someone to do something is to tell them they shouldn’t. It is especially true with young people. There’s danger in this, and danger in that, they’re told. There may be, but the spirt of young people is bold. They don’t want to hear it—not about things that others face routinely. The Lord’s chariot may be lighting quick, but so is that of the world. Overnight it moves persons to despise discipline. It’s particularly strong with the youth who—I mean, this goes back to the very origin of young people—delight in getting a rise out of their parents.

‘Obedience’ is fine. I like that stuff. But it might be more effective if coupled with empirical evidence of just what apostates are up to. Appeal to empirical ‘social scientists,’ David Bromley, for example, who “explained how individuals who elect to leave a chosen faith must then become critical of their religion in order to justify their departure…Others may ask, if the group is as transparently evil as he now contends, why did he espouse its cause in the first place? In the process of trying to explain his own seduction and to confirm the worst fears about the group, the apostate is likely to paint a caricature of the group that is shaped more by his current role as apostate than by his actual experience in the group.”

Point out what’s wrong with what they say. Not a lot, necessarily, because you do want to avoid hanging out with toxic people—the empirical psychologists will tell you that. But a little—so that it is not such a great forbidden mystery all but demanding the curious cat to investigate. Or read a book like (‘Oh, c’mon, Tommy. you are not going to be so crass as to plug your book here, say it ain’t so….it is!—‘TrueTom vs the Apostates.’) Notice the one star review. Read it and discern it is from one of ‘those people.’ The promo material alone makes clear it will be a good read. It needs other reviews to balance it out. But even unfavorable reviews put it on the radar screen, so they are not as bad as initially appears.

Read this book only if you have been stumbled at what apostates say. I don’t allow anyone else. Look, don’t try to bluff me on this. I’ll know.

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'

To Jab or Not to Jab—That is the Question. Part 1.

Some of the brothers were helping another move, loading and unloading a rented truck. Talk turned to Update 7, which has now itself been updated with #8. One bro was confused. ‘Get behind the Governing Body, he repeated the expression, but get behind them in what?’

I think they want you to get vaccinated, I said, and it was as though someone had finally mentioned the elephant in the room. Subsequently, everyone seemed to agree that had indeed been the thrust of it.

They’re going to have to say it if that’s what they want. The trouble with hoping people will read between the lines (if that is what is being done) is that to some “reading between the lines” is near synonymous with “going beyond what it written.” One bro said he would get vaccinated if they said he should, but only if they said it. Meanwhile, he was inclined to “trust his immune system.” They won’t be saying it, I don’t think. It consistently will remain a personal decision—and then are presented some Bible principles so you can make your personal decision, and the Bible principles cited lean pretty heavily toward taking the shot.

To be sure, what follows is an oversimplification, but a prime “religious objection” that some religious people have cited essentially boils down to “God don’t make no junk.” Isn’t the flip side of that argument to say that he does? Back in my day, if you got a vaccine, that meant you didn’t get the disease. That’s why we’ve long heard about how such-and-such a scourge has been eradicated by vaccines. Now they don’t eradicate them. Apparently, nobody any longer expects them to. They just tamp them down some and hopefully keep you out of the hospital. So many goalposts are being moved that one barely knows how to adapt. 

Medical definitions have adapted to accommodate these new realities. Mercola gives several examples of this in his heavily endnoted book, The Truth About Covid-19. Now, Mercola found himself kicked off social media platforms and harassed to such a degree that he removed much of his own content from his own website. Nonetheless, he has been a trusted name in our family for decades. He takes anything to the nth degree and you sometimes you say, “Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” but you usually say it for reasons of practicality, not because he is wrong. He does weigh in on matters in which the jury is still out, and sometimes you wonder whether that jury is being hogtied in the back room.

He points out that as late as June 2020, the WHO’s definition of ‘herd immunity’ was “the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.” In mid-November “they updated their website, erasing any notion that humans have immune systems that protect them against disease naturally.” (bolding mine) The revised understanding of herd immunity is “a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.” No mention of previous infection here, as in the original definition.

Further, he quotes WHO that: “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.” This is followed by a commentary from the American Institute for Economic Research that “this change at WHO ignores and even wipes out 100 years of medical advances in virology, immunology, and epidemiology. It is throughly unscientific….What’s even stronger is the claim that a vaccine protects people from a virus rather than exposing them to it. What’s amazing about this claim is that a vaccine works precisely by firing up the immune system through exposure. There is simply no way for medical science completely to replace the human immune system.” (my bolds again)

I wouldn’t be surprised if [my opinion, not Mercola’s—though he probably says it somewhere] if the intent is revealed in that last statement: “replace the human immune system.” The natural one is not financially profitable. The replacement one will be. For this reason it becomes very important to discredit existing means of treating Covid-10 and advance the illusion that there is no treatment. Only if there is no treatment can emergency funding at taxpayer expense be allocated to the development and subsequent mandating of vaccines. Let the cat out of the bag that you can treat Covid effectively with existing and mostly cheap drugs and that impetus is gone.

So effective substances like ivermectin are relentlessly discredited. As a result, they are denied by pharmacies who won’t fill a prescription in many states even if you have one from your doctor. This, despite doctors testifying before Congress (which I have seen) as to how when they employed the drug in treatment, people got better. When they used it themselves as a preventative, they didn’t get sick in the course of treating thousands of patients. It being so hard to get now, people buy the animal variety, prompting the FDA to talk down (as agencies so frequently do) to people with “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously y’all, stop it.” It’s a little like mocking people for drinking polluted water because fresh water is not available.

The new vaccines are not like the old ones, which exposed you to the pathogen, sometimes deadened and sometime not. The new ones seek to train the body (through modification in the messenger RNA) to manufacture a defense against a virus it has never seen. It is an entirely new technology.

How is it working? Not all that well, it appears, at least not when compared to the shots that people have taken for the last 100 years. Israel is near 90% vaccinated and yet is still experiencing an epidemic of outbreaks. The old-tech shots, when you took them, meant that you didn’t get the disease. In this new model, people may still get the disease, they still pass it on, just hopefully not as severely. It takes awhile to adjust to this new normal.

Profits are an obvious reason that the pharmaceutical industry should seek to supplement (if not replace) the immune system. Doesn’t hubris also come into play? Those who “praise [God] because in an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made” are not so inclined to think human science can improve on his design. One the other hand, if you don’t believe in God at all, but put all your trust in human science—well, how hard can it be to improve on what is a haphazard evolutionary process to begin with? Beliefs have practical consequences.

The new vaccines even mess with an observation I’ve made about the “little bit of poison” analogy that we are so fond of with regard to apostates. Though the brothers reason this way, they actually do accept just a little bit of poison each time they take a vaccine—the idea is that it protects them should they later encounter the scourge full-grown in the wild. Avoiding such apostate exposure altogether is difficult in these times, and without a “vaccine” to it in the form of just a tiny bit of investigatory exposure for those so inclined, some of our people are shellacked when they unexpectedly encounter it.

Now it turns out that the above observation is invalid. The new vaccines are analogous to avoiding “even a little bit of the poison.” They do indeed seek to “protect people from the virus rather than exposing them to it.” That’s why medical dictionaries and WHO guidelines are being rewritten.

It’s also worth noting that they don’t work very well. And, as evidenced by the number of people we lose to apostasy, our present counsel to protect doesn’t work very well either. In theory it works great. In practice not so much.

Be that as it may, Jehovah’s earthly organization has a job to do, and they’re chomping at the bit to resume doing it. “The coronavirus is not the worst trial to strike out at all mankind and it wont be the last. We can expect things to deteriorate even further as these last days march on till their end,” says Bro Lett.

See: To Jab or Not to Jab: Part 2

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'

Don’t be Surprised at the Fiery Trials You Are Going Through (1 Peter 4:12)

Anyone reading the Bible would see that the people whom God led w/an organization tacked this way and that. …I don't see that there ever has been universal agreement among members of the groups of God's people. Not in Bible times and not today either.”

Of course. “You can’t always get what you want,” as someone recently drummed to. Nobody gets everything his way. There are things about the earthly organization that are not as I would prefer. 

But the choice is not now, nor has ever been, between the people who are tacking this way and that and the people who are sailing straight and true without deviation. The choice is between the people who are tacking this way and that and the people who have sailed off the edge of the earth. The key tenets: no immortal soul, no trinity, use God’s name, kingdom a real government, everlasting life on earth, why God permits evil, exactly how the ransom works, what happens to the dead, preserved nowhere except in the realm where the GB presides—that has to make an impression with anyone in whom love of truth resides. 

I’m struck with how when people leave Jehovah’s organized worship, they never ever mention these tenets again. Answers to the very burning questions that drew them into the faith are now dismissed as though of no importance. It certainly is true of outside detractors who would draw people away. The blemishes of humans taking the lead are drawn out, exaggerated, or even make up, as though they did not all find their counterparts among the first century apostles and presbyrs. Press the detractors for where they would have you go instead and they clam up. They have nothing to offer.

In the case of those who still believe in God, it is back to the land of churches, where in time, the bland junk food will reassert itself: All roads lead to heaven, God works in mysterious ways, Death of a child is because God needs another flower in heaven. How is that not like the dog returning to his own vomit?

in the case of those who have gone the atheist route, it is like a market crash where millions are transformed into hundreds. “Ah, well, they were only paper gains anyway,” says the spiritual dullard, giving up on everlasting life to go celebrate the hundreds he still has left. 

It is no good harping on the blemishes of others, real, imagined, or enhanced. The enemy in the West wants exactly what the enemy in the East wants—to separate Witnesses from their support organization, with the confidence that they can be more easily assimilated that way. The only difference between them is the difference between the good cop who would coo sympathy at you and the bad cop who would pummel you. They want the same. Even should you decide to hone in on the blemishes of fellow believers it does not change the overall picture. It fits right in with how things were in the first century, where they also had blemishes. It’s how imperfect people are.

Pray to God that he fix your personal woes and beefs and he will respond that he has underlings who can handle the job—it is enough that he will listen to you and provide nourishment night and day. Complain to him that the underlings are imperfect and he will observe that you are no great shakes yourself—you will just have to learn to make do. In the final analysis, does not this verse carry the day? “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) 

******

I wrote the book TrueTom vs the Apostates to assist anyone who has been stumbled at charges apostates make and thereafter no one is able to help them because they don’t know what is there themselves. It’s for them. Nobody else is allowed to read it. Look, don’t try to bluff me on this. I’ll know.

Also available in Amazon print.

 

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'

Finding Nemo—and Throwing Him Back as Quickly as Possible

 

Continue reading "Finding Nemo—and Throwing Him Back as Quickly as Possible" »

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'

Holly Folk Speaks to Child Sexual Abuse Among Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Out of nowhere a scholar has appeared who talks dispassionate sense on the subject of child sexual abuse as it relates to Jehovah’s Witnesses and is unswayed by secular jingoism. Are/were you a Jehovah’s Witness who was abused as a child? That is very bad, Holly Folk agrees, but she cautions such ones that they must be on guard not to be abused a second time. It may happen at the hands of those who mostly feign interest in their trauma so as to enlist them in their greater goal of taking down a religion they dislike. “All I ask is that you consider, for a moment, that you might be being used again, by people who care little about achieving justice for victims,” she says.

“Both official reports and media often confuse ‘institutional’ abuse in religious settings and abuse happening in families that happen to be religious.” It is a statement as pithy yet complete as anything I have written in several chapters of TrueTom vs the Apostates! She instantly cuts to the chase of the matter, whereas I pussyfoot around forever before arriving at an echo not quite so well put.

She pinpoints the flaw of the ARC’s Case Study 29, which I also attempted, but did not put it so concisely. Every other case was an investigation of institutional abuse within an agency, sometimes religious, sometimes secular. Case Study 29 was the only investigation of a religion itself. It is unique. It was rammed into the ARC agenda mostly at the behest of ex-Witnesses who hounded them relentlessly until they overrode their normal judgment. It plainly doesn’t fit into the overall program. JWs have no institutional settings, as did all the other agencies on the hot seat. Next move will be to hold Walmart responsible for abuse that has occurred among their shoppers.

It’s why you don’t sign on to a redress scheme tailor-made for situations of institutional abuse that you don’t have. You wait for a redress scheme tailor-made for situations of abuse that occur among Walmart’s customers. That you can sign on to it as a reasonable parallel.

In a second article (it is a four-part series) she criticizes the studies of the Netherlands and Belgium. I hadn’t gone there, assuming they would be no more than a rehash of the ARC. They were all that and less, she writes, so slipshod and lacking in any sound methodology of social science that it will be a scandal if they are relied upon for policy. Yet they might be, she opines, goaded on by the sheer noise that comes from Witness detractors, mostly ex-Witnesses settling the score, and given false credibility by the prestige of the Atlantic journal.

She speaks in conference here:

As a dispassionate outsider, not a Witness herself, she can do what is very difficult for any Witness to do, self included. She can bypass the reputation of a religion as something immaterial and focus on the greater affront to fight child sexual abuse. It is all diluted, she charges, when ex-members redirect rage against child sexual abuse to a target that is essentially a non-factor. The Witness religion overall does pretty well at fighting the perversion, she writes. I mean, who else [my contribution, not hers] gathers every member in the world (at the 2017 Regional Conventions) to consider detailed scenarios in which child sexual abuse might occur so that parents, obviously the first line of defense, can be on their guard? If there are sleepovers, if there are tickling sessions, if there are unsupervised trips to the restroom, if anyone displays unusual interest in your child—all these things were identified as potential red flags, not conclusive in themselves, but things to keep you eye on.

Witnesses will find her tack hard to copy. Their first response will be violent indignation at these patent efforts to undermine the religious organization they hold in high regard, and in the process, they are likely to come across as tone-deaf to the suffering of victims. But Ms. Folk has no skin in the game, so she can focus directly to how this vendetta of ex-JWs undermines efforts to fight child sexual abuse. She can express dismay that those with an anti-religious agenda squander resources that could be far better employed elsewhere.

Some firebrand on Twitter accosted me the moment I put the subject out there: “So, NO child is EVER separated from its parent(s) for ANY reason for religious purposes (or within a religious setting) by JWs... is that what you are saying?”

Well, duh—no. But NO child EVER separated is a far cry from ALL children ROUTINELY separated, which is the case with other groups Witnesses are compared to, as though apples to apples. Sunday Schools, youth camps and clubs—alas, they have proved to be breeding grounds for child sexual abuse. Witnesses do not have such settings. What! Do they chain their children at home so that no outside contact is possible? Does any balanced person? Imagine the uproar if they did.

Holly Folk also carries the “advantage” of being a survivor herself. “How would you know what it feels like to be abused?” people can (and have) said to me. I don’t. But she does. It gives her a freeness of speech that no non-victim will possess.

The closest I ever came to abuse was when I was walking up and down auto dealer row prior to my 16th birthday, anticipating the used car I might buy once I had my license. A certain slimeball approached and tried to befriend me. “They keep the really good cars in back,” he told me, eager to go there. Even as I evaded him, it was not due to my street smarts or lack of naïveté. I was as sheltered a lad as ever existed, with no specific knowledge of even what a child abuser was. (an ignorance not uncommon at the time.) I just knew that you don’t put the really good cars in the back—you put them up front where people can see them.

They are very thorough articles that Holly writes. Press on the links:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I like it also that Holly Folk does not fear to take on the “money tree” that is lawyers. This doesn’t speak for or against victims in itself, of course, just the inherent possibility for abuse of such as system. In my community, there are so less than 7 accident injury firms that constantly advertise. Not to mention about twice that number that advertise over various carcinogens, medical treatments, devices, and of course, sexual abuse claims. Almost always the Catholic Church is targeted, and the Boy Scouts. Sometimes I hear a catch-all of any abuse in any religious setting.

I get it that injured people seek redress. Still, the sheer cacaphony of legal noise will strike most as overkill—a massive societal transfer of funds with lawyers netting a third. Don’t think the profit motive is absent with the Witness situation, Ms. Folk says, just like it is not in any other. It is no different than defense companies cooking up scenarios of peril so as to sell their goods, or pharmaceutical companies overplaying threats to our health for the same reason, or for that matter, any merchandiser doing whatever it must to expand the market for its goods or services.

”My lawyer got me 5 million dollars, 23 times what the insurance company said.” Such are the ads that I hear. What I do not hear is, “My neighbors all celebrated with me. Then they opened their insurance premium bills.” Where does anyone think the money comes from? The insurance company itself? They just pass the cost along. They have to, in order to survive. 

 

******  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'