Hard to Believe Five Years Ago Was the Good Old Days

Even after one book defending the faith in Russia, and one book defending the faith in the West, my first one was just described as my opus.

Hard to believe that I wrote Tom Irregardless and Me in the “good old days” of 2016. Before pandemic, masks, vaccines, and non-stop uproar over it. Before pedal to the metal on crazy climate, routine torrential rain and flooding, insane heat, before wild conflagrations devouring towns, before the house of cards that is national cooperation and even sanity dissolving before our eyes. Before gender morphed into something that can be incorrectly assigned at birth. The good old days: just five years ago. Before Russian persecution and Western accusation thrust Jehovah’s Witnesses foremost on the world stage:

Wrote Paul: “True, some are preaching the Christ through envy and rivalry, but others also through goodwill. The latter are publicizing the Christ out of love, for they know I am set here for the defense of the good news; but the former do it out of contentiousness, not with a pure motive, for they are supposing to stir up tribulation [for me] in my [prison] bonds. What then? [Nothing,] except that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being publicized, and in this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18)

The ebook is now polished up for Amazon print as well as digital.                                                           

What others have said in review:

This book is hilarious.…makes you think about what you know, how you know it, and why you believe it. 

The parts of this book that aren't humorous are eye-opening.

Read the whole book almost in one sitting. (Don't start it just before anything important!) Very funny book with many things well said….And yes it's true that we have better things to do than stop to kick at every dog that barks at us, but seeing as this guy's already done it for laughs, we could do worse than read his book.

Had me laughing out loud one minute and thinking deeply the next. Tom Harley has a great sense of humour and says a lot of things that many JW's think but don't often say. 

Despite writing a number of things that only witnesses would 'get', those who malign without knowing the facts would benefit by reading this light-hearted, yet serious, book.

It had me laughing out loud over and over again. Tom Harley makes no apologies for being one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and neatly skewers most of the objections raised by opposers and apostates….at the same time acknowledging their own foibles and puncturing sacred cows, but doing so with an obvious 'mild manner and deep respect.'

I haven’t met any of the people in this book but feel as though I have.

Author’s note: 

Kermit Way from the book was a real person, referred to by his real name. At his funeral it was said that, not only was he a gentleman, but also that he was a gentle man. Both were true. A more refreshing person would be hard to find.

Kermit in the book is the one who successfully dissuades a brother from using the word 'Irregardless.' He commended the talk but asked the bro do him a favor. “Look up ‘irregardless’ in a dictionary. “I never found it,” the brother told me years later, and he never used it again.

30 years later, heartened by this experience, I tried to get someone else to stop saying it.

Alas, unlike in Kermit's day, the word WAS found in the dictionary. True, it was labeled 'irregular,' but that was a point far too subtle for the one I was speaking with. If anything, he doubled down on it.

…..“If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar…” (Matthew 5:23)

Digital and print at Amazon.

Digital on Smashwords & other ebook retailers.

 

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Pruning Thats and Hads and Finding the Value of True Friends

I had decided that I would go through my manuscript and that I would take out excess ‘thats’. Can there be excess thats? I decided that that was the case.

What should be the criteria in taking out ‘thats’? I decided that that criteria should be if it reads funny or not. But when you use the ‘find’ function of Word to uncover all the thats, you discover that that task is not so easy. There are over 2000 of them! Sometimes they look funny. Sometimes they don’t.

Moreover, you find the anchor of your own judgment doesn’t hold as fast as you thought that it would. Sometimes a that looks funny, but after 200 thats, your head begins to hurt and you begin passing thats that you suspect were used in the very same way as thats that you have already sent to the that bin. But that is just a suspicion. The thats you have sent to the that bin are no longer there—you handled that problem, so that that comparison is impossible to make!

Moreover, your friends chime in with help that you suspect is not helpful. Don’t be so hasty, they say. Why, what about this sentence? "I think that that 'that' that that student wrote on the chalkboard was wrong." Nothing wrong with that, is there? Don’t be such a word-nazi.

Well, maybe I was rash and exclusionary in taking out some thats. That is my problem, but I also feel that that problem will not be solved easily since the pruned thats are gone.

Forget the thats! You can’t solve it—move on to another word. Such as had. But I began to discover the true worth of friends when one of them pointed to how had had had had had had had had had had had would work in a sentence. “No way!” I said, but I was wrong. She found it in Wikipedia and if something is in Wikipedia you know it is correct!

The sentence refers to two students, James and John, who are required by an English test to describe a man who had suffered from a cold in the past. John writes "The man had a cold", which the teacher marks incorrect, while James writes the correct "The man had had a cold". Since James's answer was right, it had had a better effect on the teacher.

“The sentence is easier to understand with added punctuation and emphasis: James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect of the teacher

I had just about decided to replace all 100,000 words of my manuscript with “hads” and be done with it, when someone else said, “Look, just get Grammarly, will you?” I had heard of it before, had had that app recommended to me, had that I only listened. It integrates quickly into Word and promptly begins a search and destroy mission for thats, hads, and God knows what else. You make a few corrections before you notice that it is not only picking on your words, but it is picking on the words of those you have quoted. It is even picking on words published, even if those published words are in the Bible!

You muddle through as best you can, for it does save a lot of time, after you note that it flags areas of possible concern—it doesn’t pretend to say they are all wrong. It just wants you to look them over, like I was already doing with thats and hads to see if they look funny.

The next day I launch Word once more and a message appears: “Word detected an issue with ‘Grammarly.’ It caused Word to start slowly.”

Yeah, well it didn’t cause Word to freeze up, did it? something which happens at the drop of a pin, and once it does there is no recourse but a hard reboot, and it takes 5 minutes to get back to where you were! I have tried to troubleshoot that fine problem for the longest time, to no success. Holding my breath, optimism, and watching my language when those strategies fail,  is what I have so far found be the best strategy. But that is a whole different post.

I see there are some proposed fixes to the Grammarly problems that has caused Word to open slowly. I ponder my options.

A. Eliminate Grammarly

B. Eliminate Word

C. Eliminate your laptop

D. Eliminate your pretentious manuscript. What made you think anyone was going to read it anyway?

Oh, and I actually did find a useful tool for ‘thats’. Check it here, if that is an issue for you.

 

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My 50-Year Battle with the Daily Text

For years I ignored the daily text. I didn’t oppose it. I just focused on other things. It was sort of bite-sized, too insubstantial to make such a fuss over, or so it seemed.

This avoidance did not change even when I was assigned the text at a convention. “You know that time when people read the back of the breakfast cereal box?” I asked my participant. “That’s when we read the text.” To be sure, with the children, either my wife or I did cover a daily text, my wife more so than me. My work schedule was squirrelly back in the day. But I always downplayed it.

I even implied a certain derision of the text with John Wheatandweeds, who (in the Tom Irregardless and Me review of Ivor E Tower), “hinders members from their door to door ministry by spending inordinate amounts of time discussing the text of the day.” How well I remember old-timers rattling on about the text before field service. Sometimes they went on for so long that you didn’t feel like service any longer by the time they were done. Tom Irregardless and Me showcases a “battle” between Bethel and John Wheatandweeds to shorten up that morning discussion to seven minutes—a battle that eventually ended in a draw. He doesn’t get them out in seven minutes, but neither is it all day. And sometimes the time saved inside is squandered away in the parking lot.

So here I am years later in Zoom Covid days, days that nobody could have anticipated, and the congregation service groups launch into discussions of the daily text, and it has become a highlight of the day! It only took 50 years. Gasp! Have I become one of those old-timers?

That convention text discussion was the 2nd time I had been assigned a part. The prior year was my first, and I had been told to report at the chairman’s office where I would be escorted to the platform at the proper time. So for the second year, my participant and I hung out at the chairman’s office waiting for our escort. What I did not know was the prior year’s procedure was specific to that chairman’s organization.

“Shouldn’t I be escorted to the platform by now?” I asked at the desk as the opening song began to play. I got the fastest escort in theocratic history. The brother opening the program looked not too comfortable—his eyes scanning the crowd for his successor to show up. I have told the story in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash.

I don’t know for sure, but I think it would not happen today. There is value in standardization.

....

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Challenging the Alternative Military Service Law? It Makes no Sense.

Vic Vomodog—man, it’s hard to shake this guy!—landed a missive in my email inbox. A Witness was filing suit against the South Korean Alternative Military Service law recently enacted. Vic put his own spin on it, of course, as to his former pals thinking they were above the law and so forth. He linked to it here.

This doesn’t entirely make sense. If it is true, then the JW mentioned is an atypical outlier. The suit would certainly not have Branch support. The Witnesses overall consider alternative service laws a very good bargain and are appreciative of them. Typical of their responses is this video of Taiwan’s similar law that the government spokesman offers as a template for other countries to adapt—which, in time, South Korea did. Up until very recently, young Witnesses in that country went to jail for two years upon refusing military service. It came to be almost a rite of passage. That video is here. I even included it in Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, but deleted it in the update for lack of relevance.

The wording of Vic’s story is odd: “The petitioner has been known as a believer of Jehovah's Witnesses, who was recognized by the Supreme Court as a conscientious objector last year.” Why the past tense? Perhaps the litigant is Vic Vomodog himself, who gratefully took up the law as a Witness but now as an ex-Witness wants to save his rear end even from that.

As to individual Witnesses, I have never heard anyone speak against such laws. Instead, every instance I know of is brothers likewise appreciative of them and glad to cooperate. Like this Russian brother in the Heart and Soul broadcast: (It is one remark in a 30 minute program, probably not worth the time to search it out, but the program is worth streaming on its own merits.) This one is not in Dear Mr. Putin, but will be in the updated rewrite. It clearly is relevant.

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

About this time I’d almost accept a bi-polar diagnosis...

About this time I’d almost accept a bi-polar diagnosis for getting the Dear Mr. Putin ebook out there in its present sloppy form. What is forged in one hearth for one battle doesn’t just transfer to another battle. What was I thinking (or not thinking)? The revised work will have such a new feel to it that—it occurred to me today for the first time—I may present it under new cover and title.

Well—I’m deep into Part 2. Writing apologia is tough because your aim is to expand it beyond the very tiny subset of persons who would care. I fear I botched it pretty badly with an ebook that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Part 1 needed reorganizing, too, but was not such an overall mess as Part 2. Most revised chapters have come out with 50% less word count.

Such as chapter 9, Discipline, for example. The entire Part 2 undergoes serious overhaul To the extent any witnessing remains in these Part 2 chapters, the goal is to be like Solomon & the Queen of Sheba. All he did was show her the inner workings & she was blown away.

Maybe, however, when I get to Part 3, I will do as Mr. Bennett—get over it, probably faster than I should. 

Part 4 of Dear Mr Putin consists of updates after the original ebook publication date. It contains the preface: “The following chapters originally appeared as blog post as www.tomsheepandgoats.com. If portions seem repetitive, that’s because they are. No attempt has been made to weed out redundancies or integrate them into the rest of the book. Maybe later.”

Maybe now, for example.

....

1/20/21: ‪I am beginning to think the Apostasy chapter will disappear entirely in the Dear Mr Putin rewrite. It is far too rant-like and is the only chapter with endnotes that are entirely scriptures. The few relevant points made can be interspersed throughout the book. The topic itself is thoroughly dealt with in TrueTom vs the Apostates.

1/21/21:

Good. The Money chapter needed little revising, and the Earth barely any at all. Both were short to begin with. Now on to the bloated Fake News. Tighten up those run-on sentences. Reduce word count, maybe up to 40%. Standardize (roughly) chapter length.

I wonder who would respond if I was offered to let out in advance chapters for critique? I don’t want to screw this up again. Cover and title will be new. The old ebook is gone.

1/22/21 Okay, the Fake News chapter is complete and scaled back 39.7% It looks good. Part 3 (it may become Part 4) is the one Part in which I allow myself some witnessing. It is pointed, and yet it does not unduly take shots at any church. Of course, neither is it ecumenical, but the overall tone of the book is war between the secular world against the religious world, with JWs the particular target. 

There is a proper time and place for everything, and brothers are frequently not too skilled at discerning this. I even had to block one on this account. True, he wasn’t really a brother at present; his banner plainly said he was disfellowshipped but it also said it was due to mental health issues. I admired the honesty. I even DMed him with tips as to how he might rectify things.

I soon came to appreciate what the mental illness was all about. If any of my tweets gave even the slightest pretext, he would latch on with rants about “false religion!” Enough already, I told him. This is a public feed. Not everyone is a Witness and I don’t want to drive them all away! He would respond with some what most reasonable persons would take as self-righteous claptrap about Speaking the Truth! I had to let him go. I really didn’t want to, but everyone guards the tone and integrity of their own page.

You know, it is like the daily text the other day, with a supplied application on choosing appropriate entertainment. Now, I’m all for choosing appropriate entertainment—I watch very little TV anyway—but the thing with this kind of discussion is that it so easily devolves into a contest of who can be the most restrictive, with the implication that restrictiveness and spirituality go hand in hand. And you can’t go the other way, to say, “Well, we should be reasonable here,” because then you are seen as advocating for what is impure!

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Ah, rats. I don’t like Dear Mr Putin—JWs Write Russia at all

Ah, rats.

In preparing the Dear Mr. Putin for print, I’ve come to think that it is not very good. I don’t like it. It was too much of a rush job. About 50% is good. But it is not integrated well. I am giving it a thorough shakedown before print. I’ll bet I can say everything I mean to say in 3/4 the words, maybe even 2/3.

Part of the problem is that the ebook doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Is it a chronicler of events? The event are truly horrific, and they get worse by the day. Or is it a vehicle for me to witness to my faith as JW? It is both, actually, but these are not easily combined. Rather than each one buttressing the other, I think I have each one detracting from the other.

It is my first project of this magnitude. The text runs about 150K, and then there are a few hundred endnotes. I wanted to put together a complete history of events as they unfolded, as logged by international news sources, governments, and human rights group—and the ebook does do that. It is the only such record, to my knowledge. But I wrote a great deal of it elsewhere as separate thread comments. Then I cooked up chapters and shook out all my comments until they fit into one of them, after which I too sloppily cobbled them together. It’s a crazy way to write a book.

The topic was breaking fast and I felt too much the sense of a reporter chasing a deadline, and now I almost don’t want to fix it, for the light tone I have throughout is at odds with the horrific twists the narrative has taken. But I also don’t want to put it into print as the mess that it is. I figure it will be two or three months to get it as I like, and then the new version will be both print and ebook. This book has caused me more trouble than my other 4 combined.

The revised ebook will remain free, for it is a labor of love. Of course, the print version will not be.

(As to the horrific twists the narrative has taken, they are logged in this latest update from Chivchalov: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fcredo.press%2F234969) 

.....update: So far so good. Introduction pared from 7000 words to 4100. Chapter 1 from 6500 to 4800, with no harm done to the narrative. In fact, it is enhanced by being less obscured with what is superfluous. 

A reduction in word count of 34%

(1/5/21) chapter 2 is reduced from 11560 words to 8748, a 24% reduction, and an overall reduction of 29%

only 60 words cut from chapter 3, but this was expected. Wait till I get to the chapters of Part 2, some of which may be cut by 50%.

A 52% word count reduction of chapter 9, Discipline. All but 1 of the Part 2 chapters have been > 50%. To the extent these is any witnessing in these chapters, the goal is to be like Solomon & the Queen of Sheba. All he did was show her the inner workings & she was blown away.

‪Chapter 11 stinks. There is no nice way to say it. The challenge of writing apologia material is to make it relevant to non-partisans. Too easy to devolve into rant. Sigh...I’ll work it over. It can be fixed. But I may delete huge swaths and replace them with other content‬

                Original:            Revised

intro        7000                    4100

Ch 1           6500                    4800

ch 2           11560                    8750

ch 3            6020                    5960

ch 4            9400                    8300

ch 5            6900                    5280

ch 6           11410                    5460 

ch 7           10640                   4930                    (53.7% reduction)

ch 8            7560                    6365                     (16% reduction)

ch 9            8366                    4010                    (52.1% reduction)

ch 10        10780                    6500                    (39.7% reduction)

ch 11            6760                    5990                    (Money—11.4% reduction)

ch 12            4235                    4200                    (Earth—0%)

ch 13        10420                      6390                    (Fake News—38.7% reduction)

ch 14            8720                    6310                    (Life—27.6% reduction)

total         126271                    87346                   (To this point: 31.8% reduction)

ch 15            5152                    3870                     (Putin questions—24.9% reduction)

ch 16            5156                    5051                       (Mistreatment, 2% reduction)

ch 17            5168                    4987                    (Stick up fro unrighteous, 3.5% reduction)

total:         69430                47580                    (31.5 overall reduction)

 

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Photo: Simon Infanger

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Purdue Pharmaceutical Travesty—I Called it First

“OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma pleads guilty in criminal case” was the headline November 24, 2020. They finally nailed them. Read the APNews story. Their reckless manner has caused the death of nearly half a million people and the survivors of those people found only “minor comfort” in the guilty plea. Of course! Kill a person even accidentally in ancient Israel and the closest kin had every right to track you down and kill you unless you hightailed it first to a city of refuge. How much more so when the scoundrels deliberately blinded themselves to the mayhem they were causing for the sake of turning a (huge) buck.

5965DCB9-258A-44D2-82E8-97081220DA41

Now—it is unseemly at such a time to boast. You just don’t do it. Nevertheless, I will boast and hopefully not be thought too crass.

I called this out first. Maybe not absolutely first but I was among the first to assemble all the pieces. This is because I had begun to write Tom Irregardless and Me about life as a Jehovah’s Witness—it was in its infancy stage, when Prince died of a fentanyl overdose and since he was the best-known Jehovah’s Witness on the planet, I made his spiritual life the entire first chapter. As far as I know, the chapter is the most complete collection anywhere of vignettes about him as reported in the various media.

Prince’s high-profile death put the fentanyl trap on the map and revealed how easy it was for persons who would never do recreational drugs to become addicted to these painkillers they came across through “honorable” means—they were prescribed by doctors who gave no warning and usually did not know themselves how their products would take over a person.

After dealing with one doctor who claimed Prince died of “VIP syndrome” (doctors are so awed by celebrity that they fail to do their job), I quoted a newly-posted letter from Dr. Chris Johnson, and the next three paragraphs are from Tom Irregardless and Me, published in 2016.

Dr Johnson wrote how of how he was “forced to paint an unflattering picture of the industry that I have been a part of for the last 15 years. I wish I could tell you that this epidemic was due to an honest mistake. That the science was unclear or had mixed results that only later became evident. But I can’t. I also wish I could tell you that the only reason the problem persists is a ‘lack of physician awareness.’ But I won’t. The reason this opioid problem started and the reason it continues is sadly for the most American reason there is - business.”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Q: Have You Stopped Advertising Your Ebooks?

Hardly.

Obtain your copy now at the link below while the supply lasts:

‘Tom Irregardless and Me’—Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s show some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!

All persons with names like ‘Irregardless’ are real though generally composite. You can meet them in my circuit or even yours. Events related are faithfully depicted except for a few that I’ve made up. Persons with names recognizable from history or current events – you’re nuts! – it’s not those people at all!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/686882

Puts Rolf’s book to shame!”.....Oscar Oxgoad

”A highly entertaining author—especially if you’re not fussy”.....Tom Brexit

Acceptable after a fashion. But his grasp of science is weak, and his critical thinking skills are abominable.”....Bernard Strawman

A pack of lies! I hate it!”.....Vic Vomodog

His chapter on bloodless medicine completely changed my practice.”....Dr Max ‘Ace’ Inhibitor

Mr. Harley works tireless to serve his readers. He has even taken out the typos!”...Wayne Whitepebble

Tom Harley’s Tom Irregardless and Me has been described as “a romping and riotous defense of Jehovah's Witnesses and their place in today’s world.” This really sums up the book, which is a light-hearted look at numerous aspects of the Watch Tower Society from the perspective of a practicing Jehovah’s Witness in the US.

“To the outsider, Jehovah’s Witnesses may seem deadly serious and preoccupied exclusively with their religion and the Society’s own publications. Harley dispels this stereotype. The book is about real people and issues, although the author has changed the names of rank-and-file members to preserve name anonymity. Tom Irregardless is an elder who uses the spurious word “irregardless” liberally in his Bible talks. Other characters include John Wheatnweeds, who hinders members from their house-to-house ministry by spending inordinate amounts of time expounding the text of the day before they set out. Then there is posh brandy-sipping Bernard Strawman, who receives frequent visits from the publishers, but continues to raise facile objections to their faith. Vic Vomidog, an apostate, repeatedly seeks to hamper their work. Other chapters are about real JW celebrities such as Prince, who is the subject of an entire chapter.

“Despite being light-hearted throughout, Tom Harley raises serious issues such as flag salutes, Darwinism and creationism, theocratic government, the paedophile scandals and the dangers of online grooming of minors, and the accuracy of the New World Translation of the Bible. Tom shows a remarkable breadth of knowledge and reading too – he has by no means exclusively studied Watch Tower publications.

“My favourite part of the book was the parody of Mickey Spillane near the end, where Tom Harley envisages a house-to-house publisher acting like one of Spillane’s macho characters. For those who don’t know, Spillane was a novelist whose books were renowned for their sex and violence, until Spillane converted to become a Jehovah’s Witness in 1951 – a decision that drastically changed his writing style.

“Tom Hartley states that he hopes Tom Irregardless is “entertaining but serious at heart”. This sums up the book well. It’s a good read, while providing valuable insights into life as a JW.”....Ivor E. Tower

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Updating the Ebooks

Q: “Dear Tom: What have you discovered during COVID_19 time?

A: I have discovered that if you read material aloud, the ‘it’ that should be an ‘is’, ‘if’, or even an ‘in’ has not a prayer of staying hidden, determined though it might be, even though it has survived innumerable silent readings. The ‘the’ that should actually be a ‘they’ is similarly flushed out. With this new weapon, I have been cleaning up my ebooks. Due to inexperience and budget, I released all of them with some errors. ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ was a particular mess, but now it is pristine.

That being the case, I’ll be attaching a modest price to it soon. Act now if you want the revised yet still free version. Not only have glitches been removed, but also have some sections having no Russian context whatsoever—to be placed into ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ where they do have context. The latter ebook deals with opposition to Witnesses in the West, which is not identical to that in Russia. A Part 4 has also been added to ‘Dear Mr Putin,’ logging significant developments since the first edition of the book made its appearance.

I have also softened a name. Vic Vomidog, the “perennial apostate,” is now Vic Vomodog. It is but one letter, but it changes a lot. ‘Vomidog’ is an allusion to the verse of those who abandon their faith:

It would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it to turn away from the holy commandment they had received. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22

Vic Vomidog was a character in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’—sort of a comic book villain who never stopped making trouble, like Wily E. Coyote. But I have since come to apply the name to any ‘apostate.’ and not all are of the same character. Some are. Some aren’t. Why throw the barb at all of them when you only mean some? Since there is no way of knowing up front who’s who, soften it for all. ‘Vomidog’ evokes ‘vomit,’ which is disgusting and risks offending people needlessly. ‘Vomodog—here both ‘O’s will be long—does not, or does it less.

Some just lose their way, fall under the spell of the liars, or have really been hurt and are licking their wounds. I am told that at the Melbourne convention, Brother Splane spoke to how there are brothers and sisters who have been hurt within the organization and consequently, others may just have to put up with some “wild talk” from them—it’s part of their healing. So why call those who went over the edge ‘Vomidog’ as a blanket term? I won’t. “Why should we not judge people?” was the question asked in the recent Watchtower in a study article about field service. Because half the time, we’re wrong.

It doesn’t mean you cozy up to them, unless you like petting porcupines. No. But for an unknown some of them I do what Jesus did with the Phoenician woman: “It is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little dogs,” he said to her, and the reason the verse reads “little dogs” and not “hound dogs” is because he chose a word with that meaning—sort of like ‘puppies.’ I will do that with certain ‘apostates.’ Some are just ‘kids’ doing what kids have done since the beginning of time—rebelling against their upbringing. Updating the woman’s answer to Jesus: “Yes, Lord, but really the little dogs ream you just like the hound dogs, but they are still little dogs that could one day get some sense pounded back into their skulls.” There’s a lot in a letter—‘Vomidog’ is now ‘Vomodog.’

‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ may also go behind a paywall in time—the sooner I tuck that sucker away, the better. But ‘Dear Mr. Putin’ will go that way first. It may even spur circulation, for you know how some are with regard to anything free: “It didn’t cost nothin—and it was worth it, too!” exclaimed Huck Finn about the traveling circus he snuck under the tent to see.

Not to worry. Any penniless brother will still be able to get either free. Just email me at the TomSheepandgoats.com

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

B. W. Shultz of Separate Identity

Several months ago, B. W. Shultz tweeted to me the suggestion that —please don’t take offense, but I would probably benefit from a certain eighth grade English textbook. I decided not to take offense and I ordered it. Why can I not find it now? Did I give it to Rochester’s youngest reporter, a young man of tremendous gumption, but who—well—attended the city schools? I offered to, but the book never physically changed hands. Did I toss it because Mrs Harley thinks the house is too cluttered already with books? It drives me nuts. You would think I would have kept it as a reference.

I did order it on eBay as almost an impulse item, and I do remember cooling on the idea that I needed it—for the most part, where my language is sloppy, it is not because I do not know any better but because I do not bother. I know, for example, that you do not end sentences with a preposition (I remember a writer playing with the idea of how many he could string at end of sentence: “New York City is a bad place to get something in your eye in,” and even “New York City is a good place to get something in your eye out in) and when I take advantage of Covid time to review Dear Mr. Putin, I say of parts, “oh, my—what a mess!” and make corrections. About 80% of the book has now been gone through with a fine tooth comb. I cannot testify that there might be a comma in places where none is needed, but for the most part, it is okay. 

Alas, I favor long and intricate sentences. I flatter myself that I am being like Paul, and I take comfort that he is dead and is not going to call me on it. Maybe that is Shultz’s message to me—“learn to write sparsely, can’t you?” Yes, I mostly know what to do, but still colons, dashes, single and double quote marks, and even commas drive me nuts in all their variant settings and I wouldn’t have the problem if I kept my settings more manageable. I know it—but I get carried away.

His writing is far more disciplined, and even his tweets are at times hauntingly beautiful—maybe not uniquely so—maybe I just have that impression, because he is on my radar and others aren’t—‘confirmation bias,’ the learned Bernard Strawman calls it. There is a place for sparseness, because everything you say dilutes everything you have just said—extra writing doesn’t always magnify—it just as frequently dilutes. Shultz is given in tweets to chronicle the ordinary—his own health, for example. His niece did that, too. 

“It takes patience to sort my pills for the day. And when I've recovered from pill taking, it takes more patience to put the medicated cream on my poor legs. I'd rather have ice cream. ... email from grand niece. Such plans ... I was full of plans at that age too. I guess.“

He reminisces:

“Back in 1986 I bought a new, but previous years model deVille. Wife wanted to drive it home. When we got it home, she announced that henceforth it was her car. She complained whenever I drove it.”

And, of course, he tweets of his research:

”Mostly fruitless research day. You'd think these dead people would have realized that 150 years later I'd like to read their letters and such. Such ungrateful dead people!”

He is altogether not a bad follow at all. He used to pop up in my feed frequently. For some reason, Twitter now seems to be squelching him in favor of some firebrand brother who can hardly see a reference to a church without appending something about ‘false religion’—with everything there is a time and a place, and I am reminded both of how Jesus had to reign in the Sons of Thunder, and how a certain circuit overseer used to distinquish between ‘winsome words’ and ‘wincing words.’ There are people who eat ‘Bible sandwiches’ and they fail to understand that most people don’t.

Shultz didn’t became active on Twitter until after de Vienne died. He expressly states that he steers clear of Facebook and Instagram for all the “idiots” on it, but he allows that Twitter is a nice distraction—it is like the background chatter in a coffee house. 

There was a time when I thought neither of them liked me very much, but I have since come to think it was just due to their being no-nonsense researchers who think that humor in research is an abomination, and note that I have no such aversion. Moreover, my “research” is mostly pulling stuff off the internet. It’s not nothing, but it is pretty close. He is steadily warming. In answer to my post about Woodstock and how it was held during a pandemic, he tweeted that he and his “antique wife” were pulling the leg of his nephew, giving the young man to believe that they had been there, apparently toking up with rest of them. He then threw in the unnecessary detail—but completely expected of a historian—that he later fessed up and told the truth.

....

de Vienne wrote that when she submitted the final Volume I to Bethel of Separate Identity, via mail I suppose, they received it without comment. She speculated about this and one possibility she advanced was that they ‘were incurious about their own history.’ In the main, I think this is true. They don’t look back all that much at Bethel—they look forward. 

And it is also true of me. It is not that the past history does not interest me. It is that so many things interest me more that I may never get around to it, even though I would like to. I read the book rather quickly because I told her I would write a review of it, which I did. Maybe someday I will come back to it more thoroughly. 

One other reviewer wrote of the authors’ “almost fanatical attention to detail.” That was also my general impression and it makes me suppose the book is probably the foremost authority on what it writes. They don’t appear to have any agenda at all, other than illuminating history—unlike almost everyone else who weighs in on the subject. He will not be charge as Emily Baron* was—of writing a hagiography—the worst of all possible sins for an historian for its lack-of-objectivity connotation.

*See Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, chapter 1.

See ‘Separate Indentity’—Volumes I and II. It is easy searchable online.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)