Doomscrolling Through 2020 and Getting Out of the World

Here and there, blips appear to let us know where we are in the stream of time. The brand-new term “doomscrolling” is an example. It doesn’t need to be defined, does it? It is an update of just a few years back when reading the Drudge Report was likened to reading the Book of Revelation.

Too, there is the clever line of how future historians will be queried as to what quarter of 2020 did they specialize in. Distinct, groundbreaking, and disastrous events fill each quarter. It is hard to escape the feeling that something is being kicked into high gear.

Quarter 1: Pandemic appears out of nowhere and spreads throughout the globe within weeks. Society goes into lockdown. Financial markets plunge. Massive unemployment begins.

Quarter 2: People get fed up with lockdown—“lockdown fatigue.” Churches defy them. College students and the young in general defy them. Police shootings prompt yet other crowds to defy them. Hopes for vanquishing the virus disappear.

Quarter 3: Protests escalate to riots. Pro and anti Trump people fight each other in the streets—some are killed. Huge property damage ensures. Record-setting fires burn throughout western states, destroying whole towns, and the smoke dims Eastern skies. GOP and Democrats punt on helping unemployed as they did in the first quarter, opting blame each other instead for the suffering that results.

Quarter 4: The election. Never has been seen such incivility of opponents. Trump’s enemies warn he will not leave if he loses—he will have to be dragged out of the White House! Hillary tells Democrats to, under no circumstances, concede a loss come Election Day! Social unrest simmers. As much as a Covid 19 vaccine is heralded, only about 1/3 of population say they will take it. Have we seen the fallout of 2020 yet, or have we just seen the tip of the iceberg?

Who can say what the facts of Covid 19 are? They are spun every which way by experts of every stripe pushing their choice agendas — and which one is true is up in the air. Who can say what the science is or what we should do about it? My primary care doctor, during a recent physical, told me that the state “never should have shut down” and in so doing, “they didn’t follow the science.” Find one expert who says the science points this way, and with just a little bit of searching, you can find an equally credible expert who says it points the other way. 

Will masks save us? Will a vaccine be our deliverance? I have no clue. I don’t even like to slobber over “science” much anyway. It is the mantra for those intent on ruling the earth without God—they have no need for faith, what they idolize is science! Yet, the first thing “science” will do, if you give it center stage, is declare the fundamental underpinnings of Christianity, to say nothing of the Genesis account, to be hogwash.

I lay low because I’ve been asked to by the brotherhood. It is no more complicated than that. They’ve asked everyone to shift as much to the distancing model as possible, allowing that different ones will face different realities, so that it cannot be ‘one size fits all.’ Still, the entire Bell curve shifts in a direction thought safer. We’re not asked to distance on account of “science,” but because of love of neighbor and obedience to secular authorities. After all, if it turns out that social distancing unnecessary, but your neighbor is still scared senseless as you approach him, then how does that work out with witnessing being a fine deed? Laying low is hard on the young people, but for myself, releasing my inner hermit has the effect of simplifying my life. With half the things I once did now off the table, I savor more the first half.

Who can say that there will not be additional benefits in withdrawing from regular contact at a time when the world is, even by it’s own standards, losing its mind? Half the people are ready to jump down the throats of the other half these days. Humanity’s undoing is that there is no clearing-house trusted information source on anything. It is as Pew uncovered about politics—not only do people not agree on how to act in light of the facts, but they don’t agree on what the facts are. They do all they can to demonize those on the other side.

Here we are in 2020 and people seriously discuss the possibility of civil war in the United States, as they are fighting it out right now in several cities! In the United States! The last time there was talk of civil war in the United States was during the Civil War!

One begins to envision fulfillment of those verses that ‘each one’s hand will be against their companion’—just as a few years back it was observed that maybe the obsession with uber-violent entertainment was preparing people’s hearts for that eventuality—stoking up in them an affinity for gore. It might be well to take a back seat as that gets underway.

In that day confusion from Jehovah will be widespread among them; and each one ... hand will come against the hand of his companion.” (Zechariah 14:13) And God, in the dark time “will incite Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight one another, each against his brother and his neighbor.” (Isaiah 19:2) “Egyptian” as used here is code for the greater world—just as Revelation 11:8 cites Egypt as the place where the Lord was impaled. You know and I know he wasn’t really impaled there—it’s “code”—it’s “in a spiritual sense.”

It seems like not a bad time to “get out of the world” so as not to be caught in the crossfire. “In my letter I wrote you to stop keeping company with sexually immoral people, not meaning entirely with the sexually immoral people of this world or the greedy people or extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, you would actually have to get out of the world.” Paul writes at 1 Corinthians 5:10, and he has to clarify just who he is speaking about, since it obviously is not possible to “get out of the world.”

Today it is! If you follow government advisories and go just a tiny nudge further, you all but have! And nobody saw it coming. Nobody foresaw a pandemic, and in case anyone did, no one foresaw how it would give an unexpected opportunity to get out of the world. One begins to wonder if it is not providential.

Here is someone just spotted on social media and he posts a picture of 2020 as though it were a children’s slide—and the slide he pictures is a cheese-grater at the bottom that the kid is about to slide into. The sick so-and-so! Still, everyone takes his point. Nobody says: “Nothing to see here, people. Move along, now. Why, from the days of our forefathers, all things continue exactly as from creation’s beginning.”

It is a good time to get to the bottom of Luke 21:26 and 31. People may “become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth,” but if you’ve prepped for it in a good way, “when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.” The call is still ongoing to benefit from the turnover.

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Avoiding Masks in Public—the New Snake Handling. The Huffington Post Weighs In

The Huffington Post is an irreligious source that works fairly hard to exalt “reason” and persuade that faith is for chumps. Alas, religion behaves in such a way as to give them plenty of easy shots. Like this one from a former church missionary, now a skeptic, who says:

“The best testimonies in church were always from addicts and ex-cons who started with, “If it weren’t for God, I might be dead by now.” In 2020, I wonder the opposite. If it weren’t for no longer believing, I could be dead by now.”

This is because, in the writer Karen Alea’s view, the more Bible-believing someone is, the more likely they are to blow off “COVID-19 [as] a hoax, or even if it’s not a hoax, God will protect them from it.” She cites a study that say 55% of believers are convinced that God will protect them from the virus. They gather in defiance of government advisories and see efforts to curtail services as tricks of the devil to which they will not fall victim.

In the effort to convey that those who believe the Bible are nuts and even harmful, since they downplay (or ignore) masks and social distancing, the Huffington Post does not mention that the largest group of evangelizers BY FAR (since every member preaches the good news—until not long ago, from door to door) had no problem at all with complying with the recommendation of government and health policies—even acting ahead of them. We always take a hit from these religionists, because their deeds are ascribed to us, even though ours are 180 degrees opposite.

Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately shut down all congregation gatherings, even before governments starting decreeing it. There was about a week in early March when it was stated to congregations that the group whose turn was to clean the Kingdom Hall would sanitize every touchable surface both before and after meetings, but this lasted only a week. A letter from the Branch subsequently stated all physical meetings would be suspended. And yet congregation members missed nothing—the succeeding week all meetings were held via the Zoom app.

At the same time, the trademark feature of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the house to house ministry, was suspended for the first time ever. It was one of the constants of life—“there is death and taxes and Jehovah’s Witnesses” and then it was no more. The New York Times acknowledged this shift—it is a tidal wave historic shift—though because they share the same “enlightened” view of Bible-believers as the HuffPo, they managed to convey it as though it was only for outward appearances, that contrary to the Governing Body’s statement about putting life first, they didn’t give a hoot about life and were frustrated the pandemic would deprive them of their powers to “manipulate people”—oh yeah! these anti-cult crazies have guzzled far too much of their own Kool-Aid—still they did acknowledge it.

Why doesn’t the Huffington Post acknowledge this example that flies in the face of their “Bible-believers are reckless” narrative? The answer is contained in the question—they don’t want things to fly in the face of what they believe. Man, that is irritating! It is like the Black Nationalist I spoke with in the ministry who allowed that Jehovah’s Witnesses know their Bibles more than others, but he still looked upon them askance because he thought they were Trump supporters. It’s like Jen, who told me how people just assume that she, as a Christian woman serious enough about the Bible to visit their home, must necessarily be a Trump supporter. How she answered I do not know, but I know how I answered the Black Nationalist: that the Pew Research people report that Jehovah’s Witnesses are apolitical, and to the extent they are not, they lean slightly Democrat. But the feature of the chart that immediately strikes one is their distinct lack of participation on either side—in sharp contrast to any other religion surveyed. In fact (this is just my guess), if it were not for the fact that participants in such surveys self-identity, even the low participation rates revealed would be much lower still.

So here we have the Huffington Post striving with all its irreligious might to convey that Bible-believing is reckless, when in fact, not only are Jehovah’s Witnesses more responsible than the church Christians they consider, but they are more responsible than the Post’s own skeptical readers! They must be. The Cult Expert’s hashtag—he of the BITE model—is “freedomofmind.” You don’t think at least some of his followers will use their freedom of mind to tell the authorities where they can go with their advisories?

Now, this is not to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses have given up on their ministry, but they have shifted to methods not necessitating personal contact—letters, phone calls, online, informal situations, and the like—not as thorough, probably, but the best that can be done under the circumstances—maybe a little like how the ministry slows notably, but does not stop, during the atrocious months of winter.

So the Huffington Post ignore the example of Jehovah’s Witnesses that flies in the face of their ‘Bible-believers are reckless’ narrative because they are irreligious. Writer Karen Alea ignores it however—well, who can say why she ignores it?—but it is very likely that she does not know about it. And why does she not know about it?

Because the church community she hails from collectively does all it can to spread the fiction that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christian. And why do they do that? Because they buy into the completely illogical trinity teaching, and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. The verses that can be used to support the trinity would, if seen in any other context, be instantly dismissed as figure of speech, and yet they take it all literally. No wonder her former chums declared that her problem was “logic” that was holding her back from God’s blessing. Now—in fact, there is something to not thinking you can figure God out, but that is not the same as incorporating completely irrational notions into your definition of him.

Portions of what Alea observes about her previous church connections would be unsettling to any of Jehovah’s Witnesses—even given that the Huffington Post will not paint faith in a flattering way and when they cover Jehovah’s Witnesses, they rip them apart, too.  For example, with regard to her pursuing the “gift of tongues,” she followed the advice to “Just let it come,” the leader said. I decided I needed to break through this rational thinking stifling me and so I followed their directions and emulated some of the sounds of speaking in tongues I heard coming out of the mouths of the people surrounding me. As I did, their prayers got louder with excitement. Adults, leaders, people who had put their lives on the line for God could tell I was being blessed and it roused their souls. I repeated the same odd five sounds again and again like a child starting to talk.” Most of Jehovah’s Witnesses would regard this as flirting with demonism—you don’t try to override your common sense—if it doesn’t make sense, don’t do it.

This one is more than a little screwy, too: She writes: “I believed God would put things in my path to bless me or test me. Both would make me stronger in my faith.” In fact, overcoming trials does make one stronger—this is true for believers and non-believers alike—but does God “put things in her path to test her?” How does that square with the verse Witnesses read all the time, and now reading Karen’s article, I can better see why: “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) It is a seemingly subtle aspect of belief—that God causes suffering—that translates into a huge and deleterious shift of outlook.

Of course, Karen’s moved on from religion, now—she’s “currently a skeptic”—but how much of it is due to the nonsense she was required to swallow in the first place? She is preaching her new gospel: “Christianity is based on one singular belief: Jesus raised from the dead. Once you believe in one miracle, the pathway is paved to believe in the next. Not all branches of faith go as far as handling snakes, but they’re all rooted in the one miracle that overrides our intellect.

Does it really “override our intellect” or is it just something that we don’t know? Now, the trinity—that overrides our intellect. That is said to be beyond our powers of understanding even by its most ardent advocates. But the resurrection? Once you accept the premise that God created life, what is so hard about accepting that he can restore it? Haven’t you ever fixed something that was broken?

At any rate, she has described the course she once embraced as “spiritual terrorism.” She writes of how “gathering together [was] the best way to get out the message and be heard. But accompanied by their belief that God is protecting them against a government mask mandate, these particular groups of Christians are spreading more than the Word of God.

Well, if it kills huge swaths of people, as appear to be the case, I guess I can see her point of view as to what is “spiritual terrorism.” Still, somewhere along the way, even in a footnote, I would have been happy had the Huff Po said Jehovah’s Witnesses do not carry on that way—and they are the most evangelistic of all.

 

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What if Atheists Had Learned Accurate Bible Teachings First? Would They Still Have Gone Atheist?

Q: In Bart Ehrman new book, it seems he ...wants to find a way to believe in the afterlife...most of his writings deal with the exploits of noncanon material or the early church fathers understanding of Hades, Sheol.

Bart comes from an evangelical background. In his blog, he speaks poignantly of the tragedy of losing his faith, something that happened once he began to examine the Bible through “critical thinking.” 

He never had a firm foundation to stand on. I would lose my faith, too, if I had to uphold all the nonsense that is part and parcel of church teaching. One can almost feel sorry for him—but one does not, because he does not feel sorry for himself. He has a good gig going—top selling author, nifty website with a paywall that donates to charity, a reputation that prompts the Great Courses Lecture series to engage him as a professor, chair of a university religion department, where he destroys the faith of his students—but since it was founded mostly on the doctrines of churches, it was barely defensible in the first place. No, he has a good gig. Nobody has asked me to chair a Great Courses series.

If not atheist, he certainly is hard-agnostic, unless he has had a recent change of heart. I often wonder what would have happened if those now atheist had been presented accurate Christian teachings first—would they have gone atheist in that case? A naive me once assumed that the answer would be no. 

Sometimes it has worked that way, but these are crazy times, and if you keep up with atheist writings, you find that they are likely to detest JWs most of all! It does not help that JWs have “accurate” Bible teachings. The allure of breaking free from any “control” is just too enticing to be countered by a fresh look at Bible teachings. There is no way that those on the “cramped and narrow road” are not going to be derided as “cult” members by those on the broad and spacious one. This is so predictable that I kick myself for not having predicted it long before—it is so obvious. 

To break free of “control” holds irresistible appeal today, and the atheists add to the list of who does it (and even put foremost) those who would claim to represent God, as our brothers do, and they lambasted them for “controlling”  people by that means. You might think they would look upon Witnesses with admiration for such things as eliminating racism among their midst, or not engaging in physical violence on any account—least of all that of the government trying to sign them up for the latest war.

Alas, to them, JWs are the worst of the lot, because most churches have watered down “speaking in God’s name” to “God works in mysterious ways,” and have pretty much learned to roll with whatever happens, being content to add a smiley “God” emoji to events. Most have made their peace with the world—they seek to hopefully modify it for the better. Atheists are vested in the world even more so, and think the view of JWs far too extreme—even “murderous”—that God means to replace it. 

From the ranks of atheists come those most likely to present the picture that obedience “to men” is essential if you are a JW, how they are under enormous pressure always from top leaders, and how they terrify children with expectations of Armaggedon. (How about when Newsweek surveys the world scene, and presents the magazine cover “What the *@#! Is Next?” I countered to one of them.)

The “obedience” that JWs are expected to render is no more than following directions of the teacher, the coach, the mentor, the employer, the counselor, the traffic cop—something that was once the most unremarkable thing in the world, but is now presented as selling out one’s soul. JWs have not changed—the world has. One may look no farther than it’s collective response to Covid 19 to see what chaos follows. Mark Benioff, the Salesforce founder, the fellow who purchased Time Magazine, has stated that if everyone had masked up for just three weeks, the virus would have been defeated. Of course, this is what JWs have done, because being obedient to authority is not an issue for them, but the illness is out of control today because the world ridicules obedience and challenges the authority of any who would advance it. The very first sign that this would escalate to disaster occurred very early on—when toilet paper sold out, despite knowledge that the virus doesn’t hit people that way. I told Hassan, the CultExpert, he of the“FreedomofMind” hashtag, that my people have behaved far more responsibly than his—you don’t think some will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government where they can go with their “rules?”

It doesn’t matter if the world’s obsession with “independence” ends in disaster—as it surely will—as it is with Covid 19. As one tweet puts it: “Folks want to believe this pandemic is nearing an end because they’re tired of living in a broken world. But I fear we are just at the beginning, and that we’ve squandered the first six months with our bickering.” You know they will squander the next six months, too—you just know it. That is the way the world works.

To be free of “control” is just too strong a pull for anything to be otherwise. Those on the broad and spacious road—that’s what makes it broad and spacious, ones on it listen to no one but themselves—will invariably present those on the cramped and narrow road as manipulated by a cult. That should have occurred to me long ago.

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American’s Frontline Doctors and the Canceled JW Conventions—Tying Together Two Topics that You Wouldn’t Think Could Be Tied Together At All

When I heard the truncated clip, I was disappointed. It makes our guy look like a religious nut. “It’s a modern-day miracle,” he says, seemingly his lead-off line about the Jehovah’s Witnesses move to present their annual summer conventions online.

It’s not a modern-day miracle. It’s a technological accomplishment—an impressive one, to be sure—after all, it involves 500 languages, done on a crash basis, and broadcast worldwide—but it is not a “miracle.” It is not Jesus walking on water. Forgive me if I admit that when I first saw the clip with that as his lead statement, I supposed that the man was a nut—an over enthusiastic zealot who had drunk too much of his own Kool-Aid.

Yet, do I not come across the entire interview several days later to find it of a completely different flavor? It turns out that he is not that way at all—his remarks were framed to make him sound a fanatic by a media that feels it their duty to do so when dealing with matters of faith, something that is not their forte. He never meant the “miracle” remark literally. It’s a gush of enthusiasm such as anyone will have upon completing an overwhelming project. It is Neil Armstrong saying “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It is a throw-off line of hyperbole that comes 5 minutes into the interview—not the lead-off pronouncement of the truncated version.

This is so infuriating, but also so typical. Everyone will say something in the course of 15 minutes that can be misconstrued by those of another agenda—who simply can’t get their heads around a different point of view or may even be trying to deliberately sabotage it—to make the person look like a nut.

I almost wonder if something similar is now at work with the doctor from Cameroon recommending the hydroxychloroquine drug for Covid 19. There were ten doctors who banded together for a public statement before the steps of the Supreme Court, but because this one (Stella Immanuel) has made remarks in her past about demons, and the others presumably have not, she becomes the sole media focus to discredit the lot of them. The other nine are sent out to pasture.

I don’t often speak on my blog of demons, nor of the devil. Much of my target audience chokes at mention of God, so should I really send them into orbit with posts of the devil? Besides, humans are perfectly capable of doing evil things all on their own—a line of demarcation is hard to draw.

But neither do I think someone should be pilloried for bringing up the topic, much less when it has nothing to do with the story at hand. If anything, I am the expedient chicken, not her. Anyone who knows anything about Africa knows that belief in interaction with the spirits is well-nigh universal. She is to be expected not to pick up on it? Let the thinkers today get a handle on evil—even eradicate it a little bit—before they go ridiculing those who go off their materialistic script.

At root, though the doctor and our guy may be poles apart, the reason to trash them is the same, or at least it is a kissing cousin: they are both serious about things not endorsed by today’s prevailing atheistic materialistic view. In her case, there may be more to the story—something that is deliberately discredited. In our case, there certainly is. Us first:

Robert Hendricks, spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, speaks of how both the door-to-door ministry and the annual conventions have been suspended for the first time in history. The reasons are telling—that of “respect for life” and “love of neighbor.” Probably no one has more potential to spread the Covid 19 virus than Jehovah’s Witnesses in their old model. Not only do they routinely approach people, but their organization is the largest convention-holding one in the world—people converge sometimes by the tens of thousands for events held in stadiums. We just couldn’t see ourselves doing that this year, Hendricks said. With a lead-in time of only about a month, Witnesses put the entire event online to be streamed worldwide.

Their organization had gone into lockdown even before governments began to require it. “Just because you can drive 75 mph in some areas doesn’t mean that you should,” he stated. I told the CultExpert, he of the #freedomofmind hashtag, that “our” people were more responsible than his. Our people promptly and without fuss laid low—Covid 19 would be long gone by now if all were like them—but “his” people? You don’t think many of them will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government what it can do with its rules?

Frankly, since media jumps all over churches that defy “science” by gathering, you would think they would praise to the heavens one that has set the example for being proactive. Yet, even when trying to compliment, they are hamstrung by a mindset that pronounces religion outmoded. Even as the New York Times covers the socially responsible move, (that of suspending the door-to-door ministry, not that of the conventions, which came later), they take for granted that it is done only for the sake of appearances. The decision “followed anguished discussions at Watchtower headquarters with leaders deciding March 20 that knocking on doors would leave the impression that members were disregarding the safety of those they hoped to convert,” as though the safety itself doesn’t mean a hill of beans to them. “Members are called on to share scriptures in person with nonmembers,” it wrote. Well, in fact they are called to do it, but it is by the scriptures themselves, and not the commands of HQ, as they like to frame it. “Now if I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe to me if I do not declare the good news!” writes the apostle at 1 Corinthians 9:16. Why do these materialistic ones not just say that the Bible itself is a “cult manual” and be done with it?

As to the 500 languages (1000 in print): the interview branched into this as the newsman asked some questions—it turns out that his mom is a Witness, and he thanked Hendricks for keeping her safe. The languages feat can be done because there is no profit motive, Hendricks said. That’s why no one else even comes close—Google, Apple, Amazon—no one. “There’s no end to what can be done if there is not a profit motive,” he said.

A cynical me says that he will probably be fired for going so far “off-script.” Naw—I don’t really think he will be, but if it is like the Cameroon doctor, he could be. She and her fellow doctors were promptly muzzled on social media for “spreading misinformation.” Will the News13 reporter be accused of “enabling” it as well?

Her turn: A major study of the Henry Ford Healthcare System in Detroit finds that the drug hydroxychloroquine is extremely effective. Why it is trashed as it is, I will never know. But since it is dirt cheap, and since the President has recommended it, it is hard not to think that either or both or these facts suggest possible reasons. 

By the time, the Henry Ford study was released, media had already reached the verdict that the drug was no good. This was based upon an earlier study published in Lancet that said hydroxychloroquine was ineffective, and in fact, even dangerous. However, Lancet later retracted their article. The reason they retracted it is that it was of a study that had not been submitted to peer review. The reason it had not been submitted to peer review is that it would have failed—it was a very sloppy study, sabotaged in numerous ways. The reason it was taken up by the media anyway, despite being so sloppy, is that it discredited Trump, who first said he liked the stuff and later that he even took it. Everything is politicized today—everyone gets into the fray of battling over who will rule the world.

Hydroxychloroquine has been around forever, a mainstay of treatment for several ills. It would have been run off the road long ago were it so dangerous. It is extremely cheap—another reason to attack it from an entirely different quarter—Remdesivir, a competing treatment, costs $1000 per dose! Does the cheaper drug have side effects? Just listen to the side effects of drugs relentlessly hawked on TV today—it is enough to scare your socks off. Cardiologist Dr. William O’Neill, medical director at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, director of the Detroit study said: “I've never seen science [so] politicized in 40 years of practice.”

 

 

 

 

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Brother Glock and the Woo Factor - Part 2

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw that Vic Vomodog and I had both liked a certain post. “How did that happen?” I asked myself in alarm. But then I saw that there was indeed common ground to agree upon. It is just that he took away an unjustified conclusion. He pumped his fist with a simultaneous high-five at mention that the GB Covid #4 update is just good sound human advice, and is absent any woo factor. But Vic chalked up too soon his victory. At most he should have flopped a limp fist with a simultaneous high-two.
 
For those who don’t know, the term ‘woo’ is a derisive term of the scientist/philosopher/atheist/cheerleaders—a group that is entirely different from scientists who just go about doing science, though there is some overlap—as so much from that quarter is. It refers to how the intelligent people will run past the dummies something the latter can’t understand, and so they attribute it to the supernatural, as in exclaiming like the gullible dolts they supposedly are, “Woo-woo!”
 
But sometimes they just kid themselves in their supposed enlightened superiority, as Vic does here—just like the intrepid explorer did when he suddenly found himself surrounded by primitive cannibals! He pulled a lighter from his pocket, flicked it, and a low flame emerged. The astonished natives gasped ‘Woo! Woo!’ and fell back. “MAGIC!!” the explorer said in a deep voice. “It must be,” the chief said. “That’s the first time we’ve ever seen one light on the first try!”

So Vomodog thinks he has “won” with the admission that the Covid update is just good human advice? He thinks that it proves his case somehow—to win an admission that the GB is not drawing on woo? I never thought that they were in this instance. Nor, I doubt did many. Nor, as likely as not, did Brother Glock, who gave the talk that started this ball rolling.

Here is a statement from Harry Cheadle, in NewRepublic.com: “The current moment [of responding to Covid 19] is demonstrating just how far away we are from being able to come together to solve a planetary crisis. The pandemic is a test, and we’re failing it.

This statement is true because nobody agrees on anything. Propose a course, and find yourself lambasted by a faction advocating the opposite course. The Governing Body is the only entity that can issue an update of Covid 19 without my saying, “What is their real motive here?” 

There is a public talk on making sound decisions that recognizes it is often not so crucial that you have made this or that decision, but it is crucial that you follow through on whatever you decide. This the greater world is unable to do. It is the paralysis of everyone challenging everyone else that collectively delivers the verdict, as Cheadle puts it, that “we’re failing the crisis.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t failing it, and it is because of completely human factors that they enjoy and the greater world does not. Witnesses have the ability to yield. They don’t insist on their own way. They do not have to “question authority” on every piddly little thing. They trust leadership. They see that the direction given obviously has their interests at heart, and that it is not too onerous—it allows for individual family headship, it allows that the circumstances of one family will not be that of another, and doesn’t try to tell them all what to do, even as it sets a greater overall theme of caution. In contrasts the direction of some human leaders range from draconian to complete laissez faire.

“Well, that’s just good sound thinking,” Vic would say, “based upon Bible verses that show good sound thinking. We could have done that.” But the fact is that he didn’t. And in fact, he can’t—because he has sided among those with a societal inability to agree, a societal inability to compromise, and a societal inability to endure delayed gratification. Return to the fold, and he will find it again, but it’s not to be found in the greater world that he has chosen.

In fact, I have no problem if Brother Glock does think that a woo factor is at work, nor would I ever rule out that there might be—it is just that you can’t “prove” it in the scientific sense. But the fact is, you can discard all the woo, and still have the greater argument. You still have Vic swimming in a chaotic cesspool of argument, indecision, and waffling. You still have him, like an insane Jeremiah, at the bottom of a miry cistern, trying to persuade Ebed-Melech to come down and join him. You still have him trying to sell you the bill of goods that your life would improve if you would just step over to the morass that is his.

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“Do We Really Need a Hashtag #DontKillGrandma?” Said the CBS Doctor.

The reason that the Governing Body can say “follow the direction of secular authority” and still have that count as spiritual guidance is that (with some exaggeration) Jehovah’s Witnesses can do it, and non-believers cannot. It’s not monolithic, of course, but as a system of proportions the above  can be said, as long as you qualify it an admission of exaggerating. It becomes hyperbole—the most effective of literary innovations—Jesus used them all the time—its effectiveness inferred with the observation that people of common sense get the point and people without do not.

“Following the direction of secular authority” in this case, entails putting up with delayed gratification. Those within the Christian congregation are better at that than those without. It entails the willingness to obey. Those within the Christian congregation are better at that than those without. It entails the ability to put love of neighbor above self-interest. Those within the Christian congregation are better at that than those without. “Do we really need to have a hashtag, #DontKillGrandma? said the CBS medical doctor recently. Yes—they do, if present trends are anything to go by. Witnesses don’t, but they do. This “proves” that the Witness organization has done well imparting Bible principles into its members, since there are plenty of churches today fingered as spreaders of the virus. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses have put themselves among company in which peer-pressure is going to nudge them in the safer direction. Non-Witnesses, many of them, have put themselves in a place where their peer-pressure will nudge them in just the opposite way. Do not think that peer-pressure is nothing. It is the reason that we look at our photos of yesteryear and marvel at how we ever could have thought those dorky styles did anything for us.

I even told the CultExpert, the one with the hashtag #FreedomOfMind, that my people are, by and large, more responsible than his. You don’t think that some will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government what it can do with its regulations? 

Vic Vomodog called on me the other day, trying once again to entice me into his sinister cause. I protested that he was wearing no mask, but he laughed at me! I told him how foolhardy he was, but he said that the danger is past—our state is one in which the rates peaked long ago, and are in steady decline. I pleaded with him, yet he waved me down with derisive hand gestures, just like opposers do in the dramas. However, the moment he stepped onto the public sidewalk, a truck loaded with emergency Covid 19 supplies bound for Texas jumped the curb and knocked him into the trees! And I can’t even visit him in the hospital—they’re not permitting that yet.

 

 

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“Just Another Proof that Jehovah is With the Governing Body”

“The good guidance from Jehovah”s Organization during this pandemic is just another proof that Jehovah is with the Governing Body,” said Brother Glockentin. But Vic Vomodog, that perennial apostate, wailed about ‘proof’—how does Glock know what it proves?

Change ‘proof’ to ‘another indication’ and the whole problem goes away. This is much ado about nothing.

As a result of the Governing Body’s direction, Witnesses are all skewed to be COVID 19-cautious. I don’t know what it “proves” but it sure doesn’t prove that they don’t know what they’re doing. The counsel given reflects the wisest balance: ‘Each family head is responsible for his or her own family’ they say, ‘and what is good for one family may not be good for another’. So they are ‘not telling anyone what to do.’ Yet by their own 3-fold advice cord of 1) love of neighbor, 2) obey secular authorities, and 3) don’t be casual about this virus, they nudge all in the direction of the greatest preservation of life.

I don’t know how serious the virus is in the greater scheme of things, and it seems that it will be impossible to tell. Every source spins the data their own way to fit their own cause. I had my annual physical (“Blood pressure’s a little high—you haven’t been on the internet arguing with fatheads, have you?”) and asked the doctor how he and his practice were holding up. “They should have never shut down,” he muttered about New York State. “They didn’t follow the science.” Following the science has now become a buzzword phrase that anyone uses to lambaste the other side. Only the Governing Body can make an announcement about Covid without my saying: “I wonder what their real motive is.”

The counsel becomes more important than the disease itself, for it gives uniform guidance to sail through uncharted and turbulent waters. If Brother Glock want to say that ewents prove God’s backing, I can say, “Well, ‘indicate’ might have been more scientifically precise,” but otherwise I do not lose my cookies over it.

The counsel may prove increasing providential. Pressures from Covid spill over into ever more indications of societal breakdown. Big businesses are saved, as the small fry is wiped out—the economic forces unleashed by Covid 19 will have more repercussions than Covid itself. Ditto for the chaotic unrest unleashed in the wake of BLM protests. No matter who is elected in November, the other side will not accept it. The world is a powder keg ready to blow—and those who think that Brother Glock’s use of ‘prove’ is the REAL issue will think it right down to when the earth swallows them up. 

It may just be that we are soon to experience another application of “Go, my people, enter your inner rooms, and shut your doors behind you...until the wrath has passed by.” And should that be the case, I won’t be upset at anything that Brother Glock says it ‘proves.’ I’ll just be glad I took his counsel and cancelled my subscription to The Grousing Times.

...See Part 2: “Do We Really Need a Hashtag, #DontKillGrandma?

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Woodstock and the Pandemic—Were We Crazy Then or Are We Crazy Now?

If you are a baby-boomer and you come across an article about Woodstock, you drop everything and you devour it. You swoon and sigh about the ‘summer of love.’ You lament that life somehow veered off that wonderful path—so full of promise. This is all very frustrating to me because I don’t think it is that way at all, but it is what it is. The tea kettle will boil dry and the metal turn white-hot while you are transported back to the day.

The water was long-gone, but my tea kettle had only reached red-hot when I came across a remarkable fact about Woodstock, from an article in the New York Post. It was held in the midst of a pandemic!—during the in-between lull, the type we are said to be in now with COVID19. The first wave had died down, and the second was yet to come. Before it was all over, H3N2, the ‘Hong Kong flu’ would take 100,000 lives in the United States and from one to four million worldwide. Yet the Woodstock show went on. It is described by an attendee who spent 4 days covered with mud and dreamed most of all of taking a hot shower.

The article is entitled, “Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969.” The New York Times described that illness as “one of the worst in the nation’s history.” So it was not a nothing-burger. From the article:

“Both [COVID19 and H3N2] viruses spread quickly and cause upper respiratory symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. They infect mostly adults over 65 or those with underlying medical conditions....During both pandemics, horror stories abounded — from the bodies stored in refrigerated trucks in New York last month to corpses stored in subway tunnels in Germany during the H3N2 outbreak. Those who had H3N2 and survived describe a health battle that sounds eerily similar to COVID. “The coughing and difficulty breathing were the worst but it was the lethargy that kept me in bed,” said one person who survived it.

A few schools shut down for lack of teachers, but otherwise—“It was like the pandemic hadn’t even happened if you look for it in history books,” [one person recalls]. “I am still shocked at how differently people addressed — or maybe even ignored it — in 1968 compared to 2020.” The virus rarely made front page news then, whereas all other news has been suspended today for coverage of COVID 19.

Now, what are we to make of this? Were we crazy then, or are we crazy now? Did we drive the economy over a cliff for nothing? Or should we have driven it over a cliff back then?

“Fact-checking” is in vogue today. USAToday did that and pronounced the story true:

“The Woodstock festival of 1969 did occur amid a global pandemic and no stay at home orders were enforced. However, (1) the concept of social distancing was not yet accepted practice among public health experts and (2) the 1968 flu pandemic was not as deadly as other diseases. (3) Lawmakers also did not face serious public pressure to slow the virus, as (4) the nation's attention was focussed elsewhere. We rate this claim TRUE because it is supported by our research.” [inserted numerals mine]

It is possible to surmise that human wisdom today has enforced a cure that is far worse than the disease. Item 2 remains to be seen—thus far, COVID has claimed about 300,000 lives, and H3N2 up to 4 million—but it is not over yet and measures taken have undoubtedly reduced the spread. Items 1 and 3 might  turn out to be ludicrous examples of ‘human wisdom’ gone awry, inept as it is unyielding, and item 4 might have been a good thing—a circumstance that ensured worldwide economic depression did not occur in 1969 but had to wait until our time. Remember, economic depression is a serious matter in the Western world, but it mows them down like grass in the developing world.

The COVID disease is bad, but is the cure worse? Either scenario fits in with the Jehovah’s Witness narrative, but the second fits even better. Is COVID the deadliest plague since the Spanish flu of 100 years ago? Well, that certainly fits in with Luke 21:10-11, doesn’t it?

“Then he said to them: ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another food shortages and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.’” Got it. The nations battle mightily and with all the tools of science, but even so they cannot halt the great woe. The scenario  ‘works’—in fits in with the end-time prophesy.

But the second scenario ‘works’ to a far greater degree: The nations guided by their human wisdom and veneration of ‘science’ might have taken a bad situation and made it twenty times worse, crashing down the facade of competent self-rule upon their heads. At least Sampson knew what he was doing—he wanted the grand house to crash upon him.

What is the play that we are watching today? What is the reason that God did not destroy the rebels of Eden? Every Witness of Jehovah knows it—He allowed them time to make good on their claim that independence from Him would turn out well. It is like the JW organization’s video of the snotty kid who insists he has a better way. The teacher hands him the chalk. The more spectacularly that kid fails, the more convincing the answer to his taunt. Thus it is that when Jehovah declares an end to the grand experiment of human self-rule, he need not indulge the next rebel who knows it all. “Distress will not rise up a second time,” the verse says.

As for Jehovah’s people, they are “those making use of the world [but] not using it to the full; for the scene of this world is changing.” They go light on what the world offers. They have simplified their lives. If some offerings are taken off the table, well—they can adapt because they never put their trust there to begin with. But those of the greater world are beside themselves as they see everything they have worked for and trusted in being stripped away. They are not “all in this together” because it affects some greatly and others hardly at all.

Much boils down to trust in leaders and there is little of it in the greater world. There is the expression ‘Never waste a crisis’ It is the suspicion that various parties are trying to bring in permanent societal changes under the guise of fighting a temporary woe that gets people riled. What amazes me is how people ‘are not open to any agreement,’ as the verse says, and the damage done by COVID may be done not so much by the virus itself but by the furor it unleashes as to how best deal with it.

 

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Stardate 45836: Insulting Citizens via Billboard

‪“Captain’s Log, Stardate 45836: We have landed on this really strange planet, where public officials use technology to identify persons with ‘perfect faces for radio’ as they approach on the highway, and insult them through digital billboards”.”

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“Given the Exact Same Scenario, Spiritually-Minded People Can Make Different Decisions”

Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately transferred all gatherings to Zoom and gave counsel to observe government-recommended COVID social distancing. Now, “often for economic reasons,” some States are opening up.  Does the JW support organization have any direction for its members?

Yes. Their letter was read a week ago. Kingdom Halls themselves would remain closed until further notice. The house-to-house ministry and the ‘cart work’ would also remain suspended. But otherwise, as to resuming normal life at whatever pace, it was for each family head to decide. The letter specifically stated that what was good for one family might not be good for another family. Family heads were best in position to oversee their own—there would be no overriding instruction on that point from the Christian organization.

Almost immediately I saw signs of a “tier-system” opening up. Certain ones began carrying on as though that—yes, there had been a concession to ‘weak’ Christians who preferred to risk life “for economic reasons,” but mature Christians would realize the fallacy of that and continue to hunker down. The adjectives were not used, mind you—‘weak’ and ‘mature’—I am the one who threw them in. The words were not stated—that was just the overall tone.

‘The letter didn’t say that,’ I said to one such person over Zoom. It implied no judgment whatsoever upon anyone following one course or the other—it was strictly a matter of each family head deciding what was in the best interests of his or her family, and his decision was not to be second-guessed. Everyone present had worked at some point in their lives and in every case it was “for economic reasons.” It’s not a dirty word.

This kind of thing drives me nuts. It even prompted a post before on which I didn’t follow through about when something is said to be a ‘conscience matter’—does that mean that it is described that way because it really is? Or does it mean that to God there clearly is a right and a wrong course to take, but he will cut those of weak faith some slack—after all, we don’t all have to reach maturity all at once, and since there is no crime in being ‘weak,’ He will throw them a bone—was it that way? I didn’t follow through on the post because a certain ‘apostate’ idiot immediately jumped in to harangue over who is anyone to say what is a ‘conscience matter’ and what is not—and then I got distracted by something else, but now I come back to it.

I see it developing in all manner of choices—the unstated view, even sometimes when just the opposite has been stated—that there IS a right and a wrong and the difference is that the mature people will choose the right, but God will not hold it against the weak people for choosing the wrong, because that is what weak people do. Really?

When that Watchtower Study article that contained a single paragraph—updating or clarifying or whatever it did—Witness’s attitudes (in the U.S) on beards (they are an unremarkable fact of life in some parts of the world), and I even heard of one congregation that devoted most of the study to that one paragraph—what, were they nuts?—if it’s 1/20th of the article, it should take roughly 1/20th of the time—afterwards a common attitude was: ‘Well, okay, we won’t make a fuss if anyone ‘weak’ has a beard—but they’ll never be appointed!’ The paragraph didn’t say that. That was added by persons of already strong opinion.

For all that is said about the earthly organization being the lightning-speed chariot that zigzags so quickly as to make a quantum particle envious, and the congregations ought to be likewise, at times they are like the supertanker that takes ten miles to alter course. It depends upon what is the issue.

What is it that makes people that way? It has nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses specifically—it is an attribute of persons in groups. Of science, Max Planck said: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Someone rephrased it to: “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

No wonder people get fed up with organization. If it is lightning-like in some areas, it is glacier-like in others. Chalk it up to what Paul said about the Christian ministry. It was a ‘treasure,’ however it was a treasure carried in earthen vessels—us—earthen vessels with many a flaw, as is the nature of ‘earthen’ vessels. You can lodge a complaint to God about it, I suppose. The trouble is that God will reply: “Well, you’re no great shakes yourself. You’ll just have to get along the best you can.” We are social beings—created that way. Therefore, God gives us a social organization to supplement and augment a relationship with Him, which we would be nuts to forsake. But it is not perfect, and those who expect it to be so are inevitably disillusioned.

I see it—a tier system— with regard to Jehovah’s Witnesses stand on blood transfusions.* They decline them. They avoid the four main components of blood—red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma—since gone are the days where whole bags of blood are suspended over the patient. But science marches on and new treatments are developed in which only the tiniest component of blood exists—fractions, they are called. Is this ‘blood’ or not? HQ figured that different people will see it in different ways—therefore, they were not going to touch it—it is a ‘conscience matter’ as people prioritize principles that do not necessarily harmonize.

I made up my mind in two minutes, based on the following ‘principles,’ which will not be the overriding ones for all:

1) You can’t serve God when you’re dead.

2) When you bleed an animal, not every microscopic drop of blood comes out. 

3) You shouldn’t have to master microbiology to be a faithful Christian. 

4) If they can’t figure it out, neither can I 

5) It’s not a cake until you mix the ingredients.

It works for me. I mean, I’ll talk it out for any proposed treatment that comes down the pipe on an as-needed basis, but in general, these five do it for me.

Now, for the most part, I don’t know what is the stand of other congregation members. Since it a matter of conscience, it is not something that people advertise. But I detect another ‘tier system’ developing—and I could be wrong for lack of data—of ones who consider themselves mature because they would reject the tiniest atom in blood, as they think, ‘Isn’t it nice that Jehovah mercifully cuts the weak ones some slack?’ Again—it drives me nuts. Is it that way or not?

The last circuit assembly went a long long way in answering that nagging question for me—in fact, it put it to bed once and far all. Brother Henry, the C.O was discussing entertainment, and he posed the question of ‘What would you think upon learning that some friends had gone in for some form of entertainment that you had rejected, having judged it morally objectionable?’

He said—and please write this down: “Given the exact same scenario, spiritually minded people can make different decisions, so in this case, you don’t mind ‘minding your own business.’” It was part of a discussion in which the greater context was counsel on how not to use conscience to stumble others—brothers can talk about this subject till the cows come home. Typically, they illustrate it with abstaining from the alcohol you might otherwise consume on account of the new person (or alcoholic) that might be stumbled by it. There are perhaps a dozen other areas in which you wish they might go to apply the verses, but they are all mine fields, and so they are tread on gingerly, if at all.

Maybe it is all these brothers who think it is the bee’s knees to imitate what they do at Bethel. Bethel hardly discourages that view. At times, they recommend it. But they have also stated that the large population of the Bethel ‘family’ in combination with its specialized purpose, makes numerous rules appropriate, far more rules than would be the case for an actual family outside of Bethel—where most families are. Okay, got it. We take whatever they do as a good example, for specialized circumstances, and not as template to be enforced upon every family—though there are many Witnesses that go that way and ‘guilt’ those that do not.

Brother Henry nailed it for me, however. I think I will make his statement my year text for the next decade or so: “Given the exact same scenario, spiritually minded people can make different decisions.”

.....

*As to avoidance of transfusion, the best evidence of spiritual justification lies in a statement more than 400 years old. When the first rudimentary blood transfusion experiments were performed, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Copenhagen, Thomas Bartholin (1616-80), objected. His concern was not on scientific grounds but on spiritual:

“Those who drag in the use of human blood for internal remedies of diseases appear to misuse it and to sin gravely,” he wrote. “Cannibals are condemned. Why do we not abhor those who stain their gullet with human blood? Similar is the receiving of alien blood from a cut vein, either through the mouth or by instruments of transfusion. The authors of this operation are held in terror by the divine law, by which the eating of blood is prohibited.”

The only people I know of who still have regard for this aspect of “divine law” are Jehovah’s Witnesses. If there were others, (and judging from Bartholin’s comment, there must have been) they abandoned it when transfusions were adopted by the medical mainstream.

....

The persons who risk being stumbled are described in verse as those who are new, also those who are weak but weak primarily because they are new. You tread carefully on account of those persons, so as not to damage them. I understand that.

They are also unbelievers who will draw wrong conclusions from what we do or do not do, so we modify our activity within reason so as to cater to them.

But sometimes Witnesses apply those verses to situations in which I think you really have to stretch them to apply. They are applied it to persons who have been in the truth forever, who have had plenty of time to grow up, but have not done so, and who stick their noses into other’s people’s business and promptly become offended. Cater to too many people like that and pretty soon you are afraid to do anything for fear of what some opinionated person will think. It is a significant source of the ‘burning within you’ that afflicts some in the congregations.

....

There is nothing more ridiculous (nor a worse witness) than brothers trying to make the internet behave as though it were the congregation. See them warn each other that so-and-so may not be in good standing, or may even be DFed. They don’t realize  how that reads to anyone not a Witness? Once you go outside counsel (given to youths, but the thought is that if it is good for youths, it probably is not bad for adults) to ‘friend’ only those you personally know—which everyone here does—you’re on your own. ‘They’re ALL liars,’ is my opening assumption, until they prove themselves otherwise—and since they are but digital bits, they can never pass that test 100%

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