Mongeville and Big Pharma, with Guest Appearance of Peter Breggin. I Take it All Back What I’ve Said About France

Huh! Here’s something I’ve never seen before. Is it just me? It’s at least everyone in France.

American detective shows are too violent and/or banal to watch, so sometimes we opt for foreign offerings. This is how my wife and I  came to enjoy Manara, an Italian series. It is delightful, witty, empathetic, visually stunning—but with one major caveat. You can forget about any Hebrews 13:4 notion of the marriage bed being undefined. That doesn’t mean you’ll see anything super steamy but the idea is ever-present.

Anyhow, that’s just background. 

The next show up is the French detective show Mongeville, running 8 years, in which a retired judge teams up with a perky woman police officer. So far, no hanky-panky, nor does the tone seem set for any, but there are many episodes to go. We are just at the 4th. Neither of these shows, at least by American standards, are particularly violent. It’s hard to do a murder mystery without someone getting killed, but there’s no gore. It’s just a premise for some cute interaction of characters. Think, in the case of Manara, Jim pining after Pam, as in Office, then Pam pining after Jim, yet miscommunications and mishaps always occur so that they cannot connect.

It is episode 4 of Mongeville season 1 that introduced something new to me. A sub theme of early episodes is that Judge Mongeville’s daughter disappeared long ago and he is trying to track her down. In episode 4, he interviews her old med school teacher. That teacher relates how the girl was brilliant, so brilliant that pharmaceutical recruiters hired her for one of their ‘missionary’ projects. When she saw what was going on there, she was so repulsed and in some way so fearful lest her response bring trouble to her family, that she disappeared into yet another country.

See, pharmaceutical companies test their products, but they test them in developing countries so that “if anything goes wrong” there’s no one to complain about it. The statement is made matter-of-factly by the daughter’s med school teacher, not with the air of being shocking, but with the air that everyone knows about this, companies all do it, and if any of them do not, they quickly fall behind the competitive curve of those who do.

Well, I’d never seen it—such a statement made on a popular TV entertainment show. Shows featuring ‘rouge doctors’ are a dime a dozen. Occasionally even a ‘rouge’ medical company, a bad actor in an otherwise beneficent industry, enters into plot, but never have I seen a show that sets forth the entire industry as villainous. 

It reminded me of something in Peter and Ginger Breggin’s book, COVID-19 and the Global Predators, over the campaign to discredit cheap and effective anti-Covid drugs so that people would have no choice but to pine for a vaccine. He tells of one of the studies embraced as proof the drugs were no good in which patients were administered those drugs at known toxic levels so as to achieve the desired results: 39% died.

“The Brazilian authors of this study must have known they were treading on dangerous territory by purposely causing many deaths. Coming from a poor area of the country, they may have felt they could get away with sacrificing their patients without local reprisals. They simply gave lethal doses of chloroquine to patients to prove that the drug and its derivative hydroxychloroquine were too dangerous to treat COVID-19.”

It was shocking to me read this statement. Not unbelievable, because if you’ve been around the block a few times, few things are unbelievable. But shocking it was, completely new to me. Yet here is Mongeville in effect saying. “So what else is new? It’s just taking what we all know happens to next level.”

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I take back all I have ever said about France. I even take back what my right wing brother said about them during the French Fries / Freedom Fries brouhaha a few decades back, when my globetrotting cousin complained that she could no longer use the word gay because the homosexuals had commandeered it, and I said, ‘She’s just mad that she can no longer refer to Gay Paree.

“Why can’t she?” my right wing brother said. 

I take it all back.

I even forgive (temporally) that France is the birthplace of FECRIS, that government-sponsored anti-cult agency that has greatly expanded the definition of cult to include most anything that is not firmly secular. You know, the agency that doubtless was behind that’s government imposing a 60% tax on Witness donations in a clear attempt to stamp out the faith, reversed with damages only many years later by the European Court of Human Rights. You know, the agency whose Russian vice president has labeled Witnesses extremists in that land of the bear and has caused them to suffer serious harm—even jail time and torture. Jehovah’s Witnesses will not take life under any circumstances—how extremist can they be?

Even, whereas devotees of the Enlightment swooned with ecstasy when the power of the people escalated into the American revolution and representative government, but they cringed when the other result of that Enlightenment, the French Revolution, descended into murderous mayhem consuming even its early supporters for not being ‘dedicated’ enough—I overlook that too.

I overlook all of it on account of the French show exposing the wiles of Big Pharma.

“But don’t forget. ..” Abraham Lincoln related the tearjerker tale of a man on his deathbed making peace with his adversary. “If I get better, that grudge still stands!”

That doesn’t entirely fit but it does give me opportunity to relate a favorite Lincoln anecdote. 

******  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 Riot Squad is Restless, They Need Somewhere to Go—Witnessing When You Can’t

At a Zoom meeting for field service I admitted that I probably wasn’t going in service at all and, that being the case, I felt a little silly attending, but I did so anyway because that is what Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Every so often certain squirrelly things come up that everyone knows about, but they hesitate to state the obvious. With a squirrelly reputation is already firmly in place, I thought I’d have a go at it. It’s a little tricky to say because it you don’t want to down anyone’s ministry. Fortunately for me, I struck a chord. Others were where I was.

Now, letter-writing is fine—phone calls, too, I guess. Long ago I started a Bible study through a telephone call to someone in that apartment complex we couldn’t get into. I’m okay with both of them. But neither was ever intended to be the main ministry. Both were good for shut-ins—not for the prime ministry of able-bodied ones who might dabble in them but not jump in whole hog.

A pioneer sister said elsewhere—as soon as I heard her say it, I said ‘This is my kind of sister!’ that maybe it makes her a bad pioneer, but she’s not about to go into letters and phone calls 70 hours. I liked her almost as much as I did the candid sister trying to get people to go out with her in service after the Sunday meeting said to me: ‘It’s like pulling teeth!’ and I had to laugh, not only because it is, but also because only one person in 200 would have said it—my wife and I usually go out on Sunday but were not able to that particular day.

Sunday after the meeting is not a well-supported time in our area—too bad, really, because the organization used to try to pump up the day for the longest time by recalling how Supreme Court cases were fought to assure us that right, but times have changed. The congregation, by and large, chooses other days for the ministry. It is what it is, and the organization gave up—or at least it is not stressed as before, though when the CO was here he made a big deal of it and over 50 were out then, but the next week it was two—some Sundays it is nobody. Now that we are on COVID Zoom time, there is yet a local call for Sunday service but there is hardly any point to it anymore. The day used to be unique because you could find people home—now you can find them home any old time—and it doesn’t matter because we don’t go to their homes anyhow.

Her husband told her not to worry about it—that sister who wasn’t doing 70 hours of letters. That’s what the organization has said, too. Still, you never know when some local firebrand of a brother is going to lean on everyone else to ‘get with the new program.’ I see the calamity coming along and try to conceal myself. I’m not doing phone calls—oh, I may do a few here and there, even a few letters—but these days it is the friends to focus on. People don’t answer their phone anyways unless they recognize the number. At least I don’t—if you do, scammers will eat you alive. As for letters—look, they’re okay, but would I pay 55 cents per door to visit each householder in person? I would not. I want door-to-door and cart witnessing, and I can’t do them! Even were the green light given to resume the tried and true methods, householders would take offense, as though you had just stopped by to infect them so as to bump them off.

Bob Dylan sung: “The riot squad is restless, they need somewhere to go.” He could just as well have been singing it about Jehovah’s Witnesses. We need somewhere to go! Letter-writing and phone calls should become my bread and butter? Look, if someone wants to do that—and some do—I have no problem with it—go for it, especially for shut-ins who already were. I just don’t want it to become one of those things where if you don’t do it you’re deemed not very spiritual. I don’t think that will happen, but you never know. It’s hard to give it the personal touch. You can witness by text as well, and there are some possibilities there, but it still falls far short of the personal touch that I have grown to love.

My form of witnessing has come into its own, yet I can only say it gingerly, lest some jump in to warn me about the ‘dangers of the internet.’ Man, I wish we weren’t so timid about it. Say that you enjoy witnessing on social media and it is sort of like saying that you enjoy farting at the Hall. Nobody has ever said that you can’t do it. But ‘social media’ is never ever included in those articles about the many paths open to witnessing. Couple that with frequent caution about the internet being where the liars hang out—well, I just zip my mouth.

It can be done but you can’t be clumsy. You can’t do it directly. There is nothing that corresponds to ringing someone’s doorbell. There is nothing that corresponds to cart work. Sometimes brothers think that they can throw witnessing tweets just out there in the mix for passerby to pick up on, but if they follow counsel to friend only those they personally know, or at least those who seem just like those they know, they end up preaching to the choir. Then one of those who ‘seems like those they know’ turns out to be not what he seems and presents raring for a fight.

The analogy that best fits is where you move into a community—you buy or rent a residence. When you do such a move, you do not do so in order to witness to the neighbors—you do it because you need a place to live. Once you have settled in, however, you interact to a reasonable degree with the general community and in doing so, opportunities for informal witnessing arise.

All is not lost for traditional people-to-people witnessing. Walking the dog the way I do, I ran across a retired couple heading in the opposite direction.  Engaged in a little chit-chat, and presently asked how were they holding up anxiety-wise, crazy world and all. As it turned out, they were holding up just fine, but they still heard me out when I said “Everyone has a cause and so do I. Lately I’ve been calling attention to a website with a lead post on how to cope with isolation—a big concern for many.” The man allowed that mental health was a huge deal, and I added how with some it was not too good to begin with, and now this. ‘Jw.org,’ I said, if you should ever want to check it out—just two letters, easy to remember.

I didn’t even hand him a card, which might have had cooties on it.

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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'