I don’t think I have ever been distracted in a prayer by rounds of ‘Poor Jud is dead.’

I don’t think I have ever been distracted in a prayer by rounds of ‘Poor Jud is dead.’

And folks are feelin' sad 

Cause they useter treat him bad 

But now they know their friend is gone for good 

Curly: Good.

How can a guy seriously pray, as one ought to do at a memorial, with that playing over the sound system? It wasn’t good at all that my friend was dead. Still, I should have expected it, attending the memorial of 92-year-old Barbara, who had once played in the musical Oklahoma. She had been in Lil Abner, too, as the back-up Daisy Mai, and also a few other venues.

After show business, she served as an administrator at NYU.

After retirement she became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and moved to upstate New York, probably because her youngest daughter lived there. She was 27 years as a Witness and became known locally as one of ‘the Golden Girls,’ pioneering with some other oldsters, none of whom had been show girls.

“We have someone in our audience today who once worked with Mr. Rogers” [of Rogers and Hammerstein], said the program director at Hochstein Music School. Barbara used to attend all the violin concerts of one of the elder’s children—the same elder who gave her memorial talk, as it turned out. Everyone made a fuss over her after that announcement, and for a brief time she was transported back to the day.

Only the Pioneer Service School conductor had been able to get away with calling Barbara (who never had a hair out of place) Babs—as in “So that everyone can have a share, please try to keep your comments to under 30 seconds. Except for you, Babs—15 seconds for you,” and by this tactic he managed to restrain most of her comments to under three minutes.

After recalling a few anecdotes of Babs’ life, the speaker presiding said that “We are here because she is not.” He went on to let the air out of a few suppositions that invariably fail under stress—such as ‘she is in a better place now.’ She is not. Death is an enemy, not a friend, he pointed out, and cited 1 Corinthians 15:26. He went on to recall how death had not been God’s original purpose, how it had come about in the first place, and how the resurrection hope would one day undo it. She is unconscious in the meantime, as though asleep.

I didn’t overlap with Barbara as much as had most others at the reception afterwards—people who had worked with her in field service for years. Probably the reason I struck a chord with her is that when she heard that I blogged, she did not say ‘Why in the world would you do that?’ (as many of the friends might) but she was very encouraging over it. Her son, too, was a writer, she said—the researcher and author of a book on a topic almost totally unknown to Western audiences, but the Eastern equivalent of Hitler’s concentration camps—Unit 731 in China under Japanese WWII domination. To this day relations between the two countries are strained. It became the subject of another of my blog posts.

The son was there at the memorial talk and reception, looking very much an author, with two satchels hung around his neck—whereas everyone else had managed to stow their gear elsewhere. “Oh, he just talks and talks—you have to interrupt him,” his sister had told me, so I did, briefly, to express condolences and to say that his mom had been very proud of him. The three daughters were there, too, and only the Witness one had I known, so I made a point of meeting the other two. They are both retired professional women and both lit up at my mention that a shared interest in the arts is what had attracted me to their mom. We even spoke some of Barbara’s 2nd husband, Lloyd Barenblatt, whose professional career as an academic was ruined because he wouldn’t name names during the McCarthy era.

Babs didn’t have a background typical of most Witnesses. More typically they have been raised on a farm out in the prairie or worked on a ship in the Atlantic or a workshop in Boise. I refrained from telling these refined daughters about Mickey Spillane, another writer who became a Witness, and who had observed of the ‘great’ authors: “What these guys could never get is that you sell more salted peanuts than caviar.” I wasn’t sure how they might respond to that.

The resurrection hope to an earth made paradisiac under God’s kingdom rule is something very real to Jehovah’s Witnesses, and is what attracted many of them to the faith to begin with—most other religions either being disheartenly vague on the topic or promoting everyone to heaven, where they will float around and—well, who knows what they will do there? I don’t think that I have ever heard a Witness question the resurrection hope. I look forward to seeing my old friend there again someday.

 

EADA0669-B4F4-4C4C-8E30-8D5DA19EF4DB

photo: Oklahoma - Mraz Center for the Performing Arts

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Two Darwin Things That Might Have Changed History

Two spiritual events can be traced in the life of Charles Darwin. Had those events turned out differently, one wonders what effect it might have had on his scientific contributions.

The first came with the death of his favorite child, his daughter Annie. At age 10, the child contracted scarlet fever. She agonized for six weeks before dying. Also a casualty was Darwin’s faith in a beneficent Creator. The book Evolution: Triumph of an Idea, by Carl Zimmer, tells us that Darwin “lost faith in angels.” That is an odd expression. Why would it be used? They probably told him that God was picking flowers.

Is there any analogy more slanderous to God than the one in which God is picking flowers? Up there in heaven he has the most beautiful garden imaginable. But it is not enough! He is always on the watch for pretty flowers, the very best, and if he spots one in your garden, he helps himself, even though it may be your only one. Yes, he needs more angels, and if your child is the most pure, the most beautiful, happy, innocent child that can be, well—watch out! He or she may become next new angel. Sappy preachers give this illustration all the time, apparently thinking it gives comfort.

Not surprisingly, the ‘picking flowers’ analogy is nowhere found in the Bible. However, a parallel analogy is found in 2nd Samuel, where it is used to make exactly the opposite point: the flower picker should be executed. The setting is when King David took for himself the attractive wife of one of his subjects and, upon impregnating her, had that subject killed to cover his tracks:

“The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:1-7, NIV)

Now, this analogy appeals to us. This is just. The man is not expected to take comfort that the king stole his wife. No, he deserves execution! So how is it that when we are told God has done the same, we’re expected to feel all warm and fuzzy?

Isn’t this like Abraham Lincoln saying that he was not smart enough to lie? His meaning was that if you lie, you have to adjust every subsequent statement to be consistent with that lie, otherwise you will get caught. Telling the truth presents no such challenge.

The picking flowers analogy is an attempt to cover a lie, and as we have seen, it doesn’t satisfy. The lie is that, when we die, we don’t really die because the soul lives on, going straight to heaven if we’ve been good. Thus, death is a friend. It is a chance for promotion, and we are all happy to see good people promoted. In this context, the Bible’s hope of a resurrection is meaningless. (Acts 24:15) How can someone be resurrected if they never actually died?

Better to tell the truth from the start, and then you don’t have to invent ridiculous stories to cover your tracks. Death is not a friend, it is an enemy. Nor is it God’s purpose for humans; it came upon us due to rebellion. Nor does it bring us into a new state of consciousness; instead we become nonexistent, a state that can be likened to unconsciousness or sleep. Nor does God purpose to leave us in this sad predicament, but he’s taken steps to eliminate death.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned,” says Romans 5:12. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:25) “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten….Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave,  where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10)

“After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead…’” (John 11:11-14)

How different history might have been had Darwin known the truth about death. Not just Darwin, of course, but everyone of his time, as well as before and after. Instead, fed a diet of phony pieties—junk food, really—he and others of inquisitive minds searched elsewhere in an attempt to make sense of life.

The second spiritual event revealing another crisis of faith, is to be seen in a letter of Darwin’s to American colleague Asa Gray. Darwin stated: “…I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.”

Plainly, this statement concerns, not science, but God. His question was spiritual, or at least philosophical: ‘Why is there so much misery? How does that square with a God who is supposed to be all-loving and all-powerful?’

Bear in mind that, in younger days, Darwin trained to become a clergyman. This is not to say that he was unusually devout. Rather, he was undecided as a youth; he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. Most go through such a phase. Many never emerge. At the time, the clergy represented a respectable calling for educated people who didn’t find a place anywhere else.

Why didn’t he know why God permitted suffering? It’s not as though an answer does not exist. It is outlined in chapter 44. If Charles Darwin had been familiar with the answer, yet rejected it, that would be one thing. But it seems clear that he had no clue. The fault is not his. It is that of the church, which was charged to make certain truths, or teachings, known, but which failed to discharge that commission, choosing paths more self-serving. You might say that Darwin was spiritually starved.

Had he known the Bible’s answer regarding misery and suffering, it may be that he, and other active minds of his day, might have put a different spin on discoveries of rocks, fossils, and finches. It is why Jehovah’s Witnesses are so enthusiastic over Scripture, sometimes to the point of being pests. The Bible’s explanation of the causes of suffering and death is tremendously liberating. It affects powerfully one’s outlook on life. (July 2006)

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

00

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Dr. Who Nixes Eternal Life - What Has He Been Smoking?

When they asked physicist Robert Jastrow about living forever—would it be a blessing or a curse?—he said ‘it all depends.’ “It would be a blessing to those who have curious minds and an endless appetite for learning. The thought that they have forever to absorb knowledge would be very comforting for them. But for others who feel they have learned all there is to learn and whose minds are closed, it would be a dreadful curse. They’d have no way to fill their time.” If your purpose in life is to watch a lot of television, therefore, living forever would quickly become a drag. But our appetite for learning can be endless, unless we have closed down shop ourselves.

Of course, Dr. Jastrow is an egghead—a thinker—and so he focused on learning. But other things are probably boundless, too, like our capacity to create and to love.

Lately, though, pop culture has been selling death as though it were a benefit. It is probably those atheists. There are more and more of them and buying into their thinking means settling for a final death sentence perhaps not too many years away. Pay attention, and you’ll see the ‘Death is Beautiful’ notion a lot. For example, it surfaced in a recent Dr Who episode: ‘The Lazarus Experiment.’ Now, Dr Who, for a time, was the only show that I deliberately worked into my routine. A British import, it is science fiction with a quirky protagonist, clever writing, travel in a space ship that looks like a phone booth—“it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside!”—and it features endless visits from aliens, most of whom are up to no good. It just so happened that the show fit perfectly into some weekly down time in my schedule—I might never have discovered it otherwise. But having done so, I tried not to miss it. “Yeah, you just watch it on account of that cute blonde!” accused a workmate. But it was not true; the cute blonde was written out of the script, (she was stranded on a parallel universe) yet the show continued to hold its appeal. Years later, however, my interest in the show waned, so perhaps it was at least partially true after all.

The episode name itself is a giveaway, since Lazarus is the biblical character whom Jesus resurrected. But this television Lazarus has invented a machine that makes him young again—he steps in aged and steps out a young man—to the amazement of all the high-brow folk invited to his gala bash. But Dr. Who (was he invited?) smells something amiss. He follows the newly minted youngster, and sure enough, the machine has malfunctioned and has doomed Lazarus to transforming back and forth from human to monster! (They like monsters on that show.) See, in setting back his DNA, the machine has selected ancient mutations long-ago rejected by evolution. (Hmmm…yes…indeed, plausible, nod all the atheists watching the show—whereas if you mentioned anything about God, they’d throw up.)

The Time Lord doctor lectures Lazarus on what a curse everlasting life really is, and what a dumb, greedy thing it was for him to seek it. For when life drags on forever and ever and ever, you will get so tired of it. You will have been everywhere, done everything. Living will have become an endless, pointless trek to nowhere. You will long for it to end, but—fool that you were for choosing everlasting life—it will not end, but it will go on and on and on. Oh, the monotony! See, without death, it is impossible to savor life—and so forth.

Please. Spare me (and Dr. Jastrow). This is atheist tripe. It all depends upon whether you see life as futile or not. If you do, then sure—you would want it to end. But as Jastrow stated, life is only futile if you have made it so. Of course, I’ll readily concede that baked into this system of things are various ingredients to encourage that dismal view—for example, old age and frailty—but if they could be vanquished...

Next time you visit Rochester, New York, where I have lived, you may decide to visit the George Eastman house. Mr. Eastman, who brought photography to the masses and who founded Kodak, turned philanthropist once he’d made his fortune and built half the city. His mansion on East Ave showcases his life, his inventions, his contributions to society, and serves as the nucleus for all things photographic right up to the present. But snoop thoroughly and you will discover that he shot himself in the head at age 78. In the throes of old age, his health failing, one by one he saw his friends going senile, bedridden or wheelchair-bound. He left behind a note: “To my friends - My work is done. Why wait?”

Q: Why did George Eastman take his life?

A.) His work was done. Why wait?

B.) He longed for the blessed release of death to finally end a futile life that had dragged on and on for much too long.

C.) His health was failing and he (a lifelong bachelor) dreaded the indignities of old age -with its dependence upon others.

Does anyone honestly think that, with health and youth, he would not have found more work in which to engross himself? Or would he have longed, nonetheless, for life to end? What! Are you kidding me?

In this, Mr. Eastman is much like Leonardo DaVinci, the artist who painted the Mona Lisa, likely the most famous portrait of all time. Leonardo made his mark not only as an artist. He also contributed hugely in areas as diverse as geometry, anatomy, astronomy, architecture, and flight. Some of his sketches have been used as blueprints for devices in use today. He was a renaissance man; perhaps he even originates the term. Yet toward the end of life, he reportedly sought God’s forgiveness for “not using all the resources of his spirit and art.”

Eastman and DaVinci—two fellows who typify Dr. Jastrow’s statement. And they would be joined by most everyone else, were we not sucked into a morass of drudgery, duty, debt, injustice and hardship. Sure—you might well long for death if you can only envision more of that. Ditto for the frailness that comes with old age. I recently attended a funeral of someone who was happy, content, and productive throughout life. Nonetheless, death was not unwelcome, his relatives assured me, since he’d grown “so tired of being sick.”

That’s why the Bible’ promise of everlasting life on a paradise earth is so appealing. It’s Robert Jastrow’s dream come true—unlimited time to grow, minus the very real liabilities that eventually cause most of us to tire of life. Perfect health is promised, and an economic system will be in place so that people do not feel they are “toiling for nothing.” Note how Isaiah 65:21-23 describes life as God’s purpose is realized:

“And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them.”

There’s a lot of things I’d like to do. I’ve done a few of them. But for the most part, I’ve just scratched the surface. And I’ve spent a fair amount of time shoveling aside the nonsense the present life throws at one. No, everlasting life, should I find myself there, will not be a bad thing. Not at all. (March 2009)

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

00

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Jesus Dragged His Feet for Two Days

Martha sent for Jesus. She knew where he was. He dragged his feet for two days before coming (John 11:6) and her brother Lazurus died.

Martha knew it was Jesus‘ ‘fault‘. She said ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

Wouldn’t a more ordinary Martha have said ‘What in God's name took you so long?!’

Instead, she said: “Yet even now I know that whatever you ask God for, God will give you.”

John 11 is the go-to place if you are trying to explain the condition of the dead and the resurrection. I like that you can read a long passage and discuss it as you go; you don’t have to cherrypick here and there. It is always better if you don't have to hop around.

I learn something more each time I read the chapter, and I never noticed this little item about both Martha’s temperament and faith before.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Use it as a Metronome

Q: When my grandmother died, they decided to hold a huge lunch at a restaurant. Same thing when a cousin died. I heard that this is common for JW. Why?

A: Because it makes sense and is considerate. Some people have come from afar. Some are in no shape to cook. I don't think it is unique to Witnesses. I think it is more common than otherwise.

In cases of family, I remember in my youth people lamenting that the only time the whole family got together was for funerals., as though love itself would not suffice, but only an obligation. I finally decided to run with it. It is what it is. Death in this system of things is a natural course of life. Use it as a metronome, to reliably bring everyone together from time to time.

Kill two birds with one stone. Bring everyone together and use the power of family to help the bereaved one heal. Stay the course, and the time will come when there is no death.

  Wittner_metronome

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Ben Franklin Strikes Out in Both Worlds!

Ben Franklin courted the widow Helvetius. However, she spurned him because she wanted to be loyal to her deceased husband, whom Franklin had known previously.

Immdediately afterwards, Franklin falls into a deep sleep and has a dream in which he meets the man in heaven. The following are his words, from 'Letter to Madame Helvetius:'

"He asked me a thousand questions relative to the war, the present state of religion, of liberty, of the government in France. “You do not inquire, then,” said I, “after your dear friend, Madame Helvétius; yet she loves you exceedingly: I was in her company not more than an hour ago.”

“Ah,” said he, “you make me recur to my past happiness, which ought to be forgotten in order to be happy here. For many years I could think of nothing but her, though at length I am consoled. I have taken another wife, the most like her that I could find; she is not indeed altogether so handsome, but she has a great fund of wit and good sense; and her whole study is to please me. She is at this moment gone to fetch the best nectar and ambrosia to regale me; stay here awhile and you will see her.”

“I perceive,” said I, “that your former friend is more faithful to you than you are to her; she has had several good offers, but refused them all. I will confess to you that I loved her extremely; but she was cruel to me, and rejected me peremptorily for your sake.”

“I pity you sincerely,” said he, “for she is an excellent woman, handsome and amiable....As he finished these words the new Madame Helvétius entered with the nectar, and I recognized her immediately as my former American friend Mrs. Franklin! I reclaimed her, but she answered me coldly:—“I was a good wife to you for forty-nine years and four months,—nearly half a century; let that content you. I have formed a new connection here, which will last to eternity.”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

"He Was a Good 'ol Boy, that Tom Harley, But He's Deeeaad Now!"

Leroy Whitehouse passed away the other night. I’ll miss that man. A tall, drawling, deep throated, 80-something-year-old black man from the deep south, I used to jest with him how I hoped he would one day give my funeral talk:


“Yeeeaass, he was a good ‘ol boy, that Tom Harley, but he’d deeeaad now! D_E_A_D!”


LeRoy would uninhibitedly offer comments to the 50/50 congregation about his younger days back home “working for the white man.” Or relate how even long term Bethelites are not perfect, illustrating it with a brother who declared “I don’t give a damn!” Taking the nervous titter in the audience for appreciation, he repackaged the line and ran it through two or three more times: “I don’t give a damn!”


I will miss him plenty. He was a friend.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

They Welcomed Back Charlie Rose at CBSThisMoring

They welcomed back Charlie Rose on CBSThisMorning. He’d been off a few weeks for heart surgery. His colleagues made a great fuss over him. Even Trump said ‘Welcome back, Charlie. We missed you.’ Even CBS, who hates Trump, ran the clip. Who doesn’t like it when enemies come together? Image

You know, I switched to CBS mostly because of him, but I liked him better personally when he stuck with PBS. There, he had freedom to interview newsmakers at any length he chose – sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. He’s perceptive in his interviews, and that talent can’t come across on razzle-dazzle network TV. Did he sell out? Yes and no. He didn’t give up PBS. He simply went for more exposure. Goodness knows I go for more exposure. I want to sell my books, which I like.

If anyone sold out, it is Larry King years ago. When I first heard of him in the 70’s, he was interviewing newsmakers for three hours on-air. The first hour was one-on-one. The second and third was moderating questions from the call-in audience. But he sold out to someone, and pretty soon he they had him doing only puff-pieces with celebrities, which aren’t as good.

Nonetheless, who am I to say? A person can do what he/she wants with his/her career. Sometimes people tire of the present and want to move on. Is that so wrong? They wouldn’t be able to (in my eyes) degrade unless they were up there in the first place. I was furious with Mary Tyler Moore for sinking the Dick Van Dyke show by leaving for a solo career. But why should she not? She made shows of her own, which I didn’t like as well. Not that hers were bad, it is just that Dick Van Dyke’s was so good.

But is there not an overall sad component to this? Charlie once stated he has enjoyed a wonderful career because he has been able to know so many newsmakers. Are they really worth knowing? I’ll take brothers and sisters in my circuit any day.

And surely there is also something tragic about hitting maximum exposure just as you know the clock is about to run out. It is why I value the JW faith, for only they explain how that came to be, and how it will be remedied.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Speaking at the Metropolitan Funeral Home

I served 20 years in a city congregation that was two thirds black. There were several sisters with unbelieving mates, and some of those mates had issues. One would spend weeks at home where life would be 24/7 bliss. Then he would disappear into the streets for more weeks. Nobody knew if he would return or not. When he did, his wife always took him back.

His wife asked me to give his funeral talk. Though most avoided assignments like this, I relished them for the challenge of offering comfort amidst horrendous circumstances. I mean, when a guy gets knifed to death on a strange doorstep seeking drugs, how do you put a smilely face on that?

“Jimmy had some hang-ups,” I said, “and it is likely those hang-ups had something to do with his death,” I told mourners at the Metropolitan Funeral Home. “We all know it. We might as well say it. Only then can we begin to offer comfort. Like all of us, Jimmy was a combination of strengths and weaknesses. You never know for sure which will win out and sometimes you say ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

Look, this system is rough and it destroys people. When that happens, you don’t go moralizing over it. These were Bible type people, most of them not ours, so I read a lot of scriptures. But I also went heavy on his good traits, for he did have some. Few in the audience knew that he had graduated at SUNY Brockport and that he was a skilled pianist. I told of the happy times he would play piano at home.

I didn’t know how to conduct myself at the Metropolitan Funeral home. It was not my culture. I gathered that much was expected from the preacher (me) who conducted the funeral. I told the funeral director that I didn’t want to do it, for it would be phony. I would give my talk, sit down, and they could take over and I would do whatever they said. He told me that after his remarks I should lead everybody out the front door.

After his remarks, I led everyone out the front door. When I was almost there, I turned around to find they were way behind me all moving like snails. Of course they were way behind me all moving like snails – they had a casket to carry. I hadn’t thought of that. I doubled back and led them out at a snail’s pace, and felt a little uncomfortable doing so.

My most emotionally rewarding moment? When a Rochester police officer, approached me with tears in his eyes to thank me for speaking well of his brother. Emotional reward is all that counts. Though I have given many funeral talks, I have never charged a dime, as is the way with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I relate the event not to draw attention to myself. It was emotionally fulfilling giving the talk. It is emotionally fulfilling again telling of it. Image

**********************

Tom Irregardless and Me                No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Playing With Dinosaurs

The kid at work thinks I'm old. He addresses me that way. “Hey, old man!” he says. It's all good-natured fun, or at any rate, I may as well let the little snot think I regard it as good-natured fun. I ask him if he's ever seen Fred Flintstone on TV.

“I knew that guy,” I tell him. “Not real well,” I admit. He was pretty old when I was a kid. He lived down the street, and my folks warned me to stay clear because he would barrel along in that foot-motor car of his...he sort of was a public menace as he got older.” [see Yabbadabba man] I used to play with dinosaurs when I was a kid, too. They were great fun. Downright mean as they got older, but not to you if you'd befriended them when they were small and cuddly. So I always did.

Aging's not so bad, because you can remember a lot of things, and can start to put them all into context. Youngsters don't remember anything different from the here and now. Pop says he did some of his best work at 60, an age I haven't touched yet, though I'm pushing it. (pushing it pretty hard, too) And wasn't it Andy Laguna who said he didn't mind getting older, since with each succeeding year, he found more reasons to be grateful to Jehovah? Hangups that you might have once had sort of resolve themselves as you get older. 'You don't really know anything before age 40,' I tell the kid. 'Oh, you can figure out how to use the toilet, and perhaps change the TV stations,' but real smarts don't kick in till later.

I did some calculating once, and figured that, per the Bible's chronology, a youngster who'd met Adam, when the latter was an old guy, might conceivably, when he himself had grown ancient, speak to the adolescent Noah, long before the latter had attained boat-building fame. It's almost as if one could have know Fred Flintstone back then. It may be two links were actually required between Adam and Noah, but it almost seems that it was just one. Of course, most today think those early biblical lifespans of 800-900 years are but nonsense, but didn't I write here and here how it all sort of hangs together?

If you play with this notion for awhile, you begin to appreciate the coherence that might have developed among human society when one might reasonably speak to, not merely his grandparents, but his great grandparents, and great great grandparents, and great great great grandparents, and so forth for several generations out. You'd get deep roots that way. Whatever prior generations had seen or learned, they almost couldn't help but pass it down.

Today, roots are wafer-thin. We've all seen those studies in which the modern child communicates with a parent a mere minutes per day. And where's the rest of the time spent? It used to be TV, usage of which is still pretty heavy, but is now supplemented by no end of other media options. This might not be so bad if these connected one with something of consequence; one might think the internet could greatly expand people, but you know, and I know, that it connects with pop culture and values entirely from the here and now. You can see it in Wikapedia, a source that Winged Migration Man (where is he, by the way?) looked upon without favor; an item of history runs a few paragraphs, whereas review of a pop TV show runs pages and pages per episode. Is it any wonder that young folks readily accept today's conditions today as normal? They've not been exposed to anything else. There's almost no transference from one generation to the next. Didn't I carry on about it here?

Family mealtime was also once a relaxed setting in which perspectives might flow from one generation to the next. Therefore, some years ago the Watchtower began suggesting that family meals ought not be sacrificed to modern life – families ought to strive to eat at least one together. I was surprised, for I hadn't fully realized the custom had fallen by the wayside. In fact, when I first stuck my toe into “evening witnessing,” I didn't want to start too soon after dinnertime, lest I break up such a family meal. But in time I found that only rarely would that happen, no matter when I started. If it did, I would  apologize and withdraw. Common meals are not really that common, today, even in neighborhoods where you might think they would be. And to think that Torre, from the old country, would not call on folks even during the noon hour, a self-prohibition I thought absurd. But he remembered when even that time was sacred, a time reserved for family and friends.

Times have changed.

Not long ago I was riding with Tom Weedsandwheat. He had to swerve and brake hard so as not to hit some kid who had stepped out right in front of him, headphones on, pants hanging down, skull empty as a beach ball. “There can never be another generation,” he muttered to me. 

*************************

Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)