What We Should be Doing is Going into the Saloons

00B59206-84E4-4BDC-87F3-95B4DCADE1E4Tired of trying to figure out the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image and what it is supposed to mean—as though wishing he was wearing socks—surly Oxgoad declares, “all has made me forget what I should have been paying attention to over the years, namely goodness, and love, and righteousness, and obedience, and Justice, and mercy, and fairness …. the things Jehovah requires …. and valor, and virtue.”

I know this sounds good. How can one argue with it? But you need a balance. The trouble is, when ones start focusing exclusively on such personality traits as ‘righteousness’, they tend to quickly think they have a lock on the stuff. (It is the same as with those who revel in their ‘critical thinking.’)

There’s nothing wrong with being a student of prophesy, providing one does not become dogmatic over it. I go back to those angels intense peering as to how prophesy will turn out. (1 Peter 1:12) I like to picture them squinting through a knothole in a wooden fence. It’s not for me to kick them in the butt and tell them to get back to work.

A favorite circuit overseer, one long since retired, made an off-the-cuff observation that I had not heard before nor have heard since. He likened theocratic history to time periods during which people oscillated between getting the preaching work done and ‘personality development.’ Wow whee!—the self-righteousness that ensured when they specialized in the latter—I can still see him shaking his head in wonder. Working off a few displeasing personal memories, I suspect in hindsight.

He was the fellow with whom, on a 10 degree day, just the two of us in service, I spent two and a half solid breakless hours doing door-to-door on an endless suburban street. The door may have opened perhaps four or five times all morning, and when it did it might as well have not. I was too thoroughly frozen to speak coherently. It didn't seem to bother him, though.

We’re far less likely to do such things today. I recently did a few doors with another chum, directly after a Sunday meeting, when the weather was rapidly deteriorating. The woman who answered the door said, “Are you guys crazy? What are you doing out in weather like this?” I looked at my companion and said, “You know—she has a point.” Yes, yes—we’re all becoming “more reasonable” today, good in some ways, but to the extent it denotes ‘softer’ maybe not in all.

However, he was also the fearless guy who walked into the neighborhood bar and began engaging half-tanked patrons in conversation. The topic was ‘good government.’ It went well for a while but eventually some became surly. ‘What are you doing here speaking of good government?’ someone groused. ‘What you should be doing is going into city hall, telling all those dirty rotten scoundrels there about good government!’

’Oh, we do, we do,’ Andy replied sweetly. ‘And do you know what they tell us? That we should go into the saloons.’

This was the same circuit overseer who, if people would say they don’t need his spiel but the people down the street surely do, would ask if it was okay if he told those people who it was that had sent him.

(Pixabay photo)

******  The bookstore


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“Are You Jehovah?” the Woman Asked.

During one of the early pioneer schools, testing out what we had learned, I had been paired together with one of the other students. Thirty years later I ran across her again, and she recalled our working together.

Upon my ringing the bell, the householder had asked: “Are you Jehovah?” My companion remembered that I had all but recoiled at the question: ”Oh, no,” I modestly replied. “I would never presume to call myself by the name of the Most High God. I am but a lowly servant of his, trying in my own imperfect way to serve him, etc.” Many times she had reviewed it in her hear, and each time she was so impressed at my abject humility.

It never happened! She had worked it over herself. That will be the day that I fall in for such mock piety. Never trust urban legends.

What I had said when the good-natured woman hollered “Are you Jehovah?”—hollering through the screen door from the far-removed kitchen, for she was distracted cooking, was: “Well—no, actually, I am not.” Whereupon she realized just what she had really said and laughed uproariously at the fine joke. 

We did end up having a pretty good discussion, and maybe it is from that circumstance that my companion elevated me to near sainthood. I’m not really all that deserving of it.

I am pretty sure I know how this happened. She is getting me balled up with some brother in a Watchtower account who did say self-effacing things like that—only he wasn’t asked if he was Jehovah, he was asked if he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Mexican brother was very lowly—of a peasant background—and he was working in an upscale area, an area he would never ever have any business in visiting were it not for the ministry. He manned up for the occasion.

“I try to be sir, it’s hard—to live up to the standards of the Most High God, and to represent His name—it’s hard, but I try.”

It puts an whole different spin on the picture, doesn’t it? He did say it. The circumstances account for it. He was overwhelmed—far outside his comfort zone—whereas I have been known to take the position that even in my comfort zone I am not necessarily comfortable.

Moreover, I have seen it, too, in congregations where I have served. Ones of the urban poor would check out or be drawn into a territory of downright wealthy neighborhoods.They could duck out, for timidity’s sake, and no one would think the lesser of them for it. But they didn’t. They displayed courage the like of which people are not too commonly called upon to display, in order to bring the good news to ones who were light years above them monetarily, if not the slightest bit spiritually.

I admire them to this day for that.

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The Personification of God

The question was how did God speak with Moses face-to-face like Exodus 33:11 says he did? The answer on the tip of my tongue was that he didn’t. God doesn’t have a face—it’s personification.

But I didn’t get to say it. Someone else was called on, who gave the answer that Moses talked with God’s representative, not God himself, since “no man can see me and live” (33:20)—and backed it up with the verse from Galatians 3:19, that the Law was transmitted “through angels.” It’s all very nice. It’s all very technical and accurate. But I like exploring the personification better. Speaking with an angel is not a walk in the park either.

Moses speaking face-to-face with God is him permitted to get close but not too close. You burn up if you get too close, like you would taking a stroll on the sun. 

More personification—God has a hand, too. He’s going to use his hand to shield Moses as the rest of him passes by. He says: “When my glory is passing by, I will place you in a crevice of the rock, and I will shield you with my hand until I have passed by. After that I will take my hand away, and you will see my back. But my face may not be seen.” (Exodus 33:22-23)

Exactly what does that mean? I don’t know, but I like it. “Close, but not too close” works for me. I love the personification.

The personification extends to beyond body parts like face and hand into his manners of dealing with people. “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey,” he tells the people after their festival of the golden calf. “But I will not go in the midst of you, for you are an obstinate people, and I might exterminate you on the way.” 

It’s as though he says: “You people tick me off—I need to give myself a timeout.” I can recall my Dad, driving the car on a trip that seemed endless, when we were trying his patience with a much lesser offense—pestering with “are we there yet?” again and again and again, finally hollering: “If you kids don’t stop your crying back there I’m going to stop this car and give you something to cry about!” That usually made us snap to for a while.

God likes Moses. He’s peeved at most everyone else. You don’t go building yourselves golden calves andpartying over them after He just say he hates idolatry. Aaron’s explanation as to just how that might happen seemed not quite adequate: So I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold must take it off and give it to me.’ Then I threw it into the fire and out came this calf.” (32:24)

Jehovah said to Moses: “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are an obstinate people. In one moment I could go through the midst of you and exterminate you. So now keep your ornaments off while I consider what to do to you.’” (vs 5) He’s God—he doesn’t need time to consider—it took him two seconds to consider what to do in Eden. This is personification—for their sakes and ours.

And what is this that he’s send them on their way but “not go[ing] in the midst of [them]?” (vs 3) Whatever it is, it worries Moses, and Moses talks him out of it—is that not personification intensified that he presents himself as though that can be done?

Moses said to Jehovah: “See, you are saying to me, ‘Lead this people up,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Moreover, you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my eyes.’  Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, make me know your ways, so that I may know you and continue to find favor in your eyes. Consider, too, that this nation is your people.” So he said: “I myself will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Then Moses said to him: “If you yourself are not going along, do not lead us up from here.  How will it be known that I have found favor in your eyes, I and your people? Is it not by your going along with us, so that I and your people will be distinguished from every other people on the face of the earth?” Jehovah went on to say to Moses: “I will also do this thing that you request, because you have found favor in my eyes and I know you by name.”  

Then he passes by Moses, who wants to know his ways—this even after he has delivered the plagues and led through the Red Sea—if anyone could assume that he is God’s right hand man at this point, Moses could, but he doesn’t—he wants to “know [God] and find favor in [his] eyes.” As he passes by, he shields with his hand, so that Moses does not burn up:

Jehovah was passing before him and declaring: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth, showing loyal love to thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons and upon grandsons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation.” (34:6-7) He’s merciful, but don’t push Him. The after-effects of transgression will be felt for generations to come.

Moses returns to the theme. He bows low and says: “If, now, I have found favor in your eyes, O Jehovah, then please, Jehovah, go along with us in our midst, although we are an obstinate people, and forgive our error and our sin, and take us as your own possession.” In turn he said: “Here I am making a covenant: Before all your people, I will do wonderful things that have never been done in all the earth...(34:9-10)

I think of the autistic kid from a prior post who says “it takes one to know one.” Because he is mildly autistic—maybe think Asberger’s—and thus not aware of the normal bounds of decorum, he thinks Abraham might have been too. He thinks this accounts for Abraham dickering with God—and now here is Moses doing the same. As though the dialogue might be: “Don’t you know you can’t go dickering with God?” “Well, no I don’t because I’m autistic.” It’s just a novel way of looking at things—not that it is right. I like his quote from Eli Wiesel, that God grants his servant a stage and takes pleasure in eliciting the right response out of him.`

My guess is that the personification is to reach the heart. Ditto with the analogies to family. My dad was hardly perfect but he was a decent man overall and so using family as a template for God’s dealings with us works for me. We always hear that it takes longer for ones who had no decent dad role model. But there will be some who simply consider themselves too wise for the entire personification device and who will resent being likened to children. On so many levels the Bible works to separate people.

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Speaking With the Evangelical

I met a born-again Christian yesterday while making a return visit. It was the young man’s dad. I actually hadn’t expected to meet my return visit because I knew he just stopped in there from time to time and lived somewhere else, but the initial conversation had been very fine and we were just driving by the house.

Our track record of pleasant conversations with evangelicals is not good. Usually we feel obliged to pick out something that they are doing wrong and start a fight over it—not with that goal, of course, but usually with that result. And if we don’t do it to them, then they do it to us. Start rattling on about the paradise and they will cut you short with a line or two about the rapture.

I used to fall into this pattern as much as anyone, but in recent years, after decades of life—in other words, it’s about time!—I have come across a new way. In this new way, I do not try to find something of his to poke holes in, and since I didn’t, he did. You know, getting all squirrelly-like, as though to say, “Oh, no, we are not the same. Don’t try to pretend that we are.”

As soon as I saw it going that way, I did what I was so very slow to learn to do. He was not an unfriendly guy, and I had already responded to his announcement that he was a born-again Christian: “That almost makes it better—it means we speak the same language. You have regard for the Bible and probably know it as well as me.”

It starts things out on a good foot, but still he feels obliged to point out how no way are we the same. I beat him to it. “Look, we are both trying to follow the Word, but we are doing it differently. You think we are doing it wrong and we think you are doing it wrong. But we are both doing it—that’s the point—and we live in a world where most people aren’t doing it at all.” Instantly we were on the same side. There was a little chat about keeping the faith amidst a world that rejects it.

I asked him if he was one of those persons  who believed in the rapture and he said that he was. Yes, I know where that verse comes from, I told him. We see it a little differently, and I referred to the Lord’s Prayer that I knew he knew so well but nobody else does today. ‘Yes, God has it all together up in heaven. I mean,  I suppose he does (glancing upwards) but it sure isn’t that way on earth, and it won’t be until—he joined me in saying the last words—“thy kingdom comes.” So we look forward to living forever on the earth, most of us, sort of like that camping trip you took and you relaxed so much that you said “I wish this would never end” only in this case it won’t.

That’s about all you can do on a single call and I have no plans to come back unless the spirit impromptu grabs me when I am driving right by again and it probably won’t. I count it successful. Hear each other out, be mutually respectful, and maybe either party will think the other guy’s hope intriguing enough to investigate more. In this case, there was no sign of that. We talked about his front porch awning—my companion brought that up—it was a sturdy piece that had served him well over the years and it was just the ticket during hot summer days of blazing sun. There were some people who bought the screens and other attachments that came with it, he allowed, but he was content just with the awning itself. 

His son, while very conversant, had not struck me as particularly religious, I recalled of him, and I did not say it so as to rub his nose in, “but mine is!” No, I said mine isn’t either—it’s not a slam-dunk that kids will follow the faith. Of course, he loves his son, as I do mine, and he observed that ‘it is so strange—children raised in the same house with same parents and same values, yet some take to it and others do not.’ Now you take his daughter, he pointed out, who had latched right on, and I said that was true of my daughter as well.

So we built a bridge. Who knows if he will cross over it someday, my companion and I chatted afterwards, or, from his point of view, If I will cross it his way. One thing that is clear—he will respect us for our ministry—maybe even compare it to whatever he is or is not doing himself. “Preach the good news in all the inhabited earth—go and make disciples” is not a mission statement that will register approval with everyone, but I know it will with him.

Of course, you don’t say that unless he is trying to put you down for it, and this fellow certainly was not. You don’t give any appearance of boasting or being full of yourself. There was even a recommendation once that seemed to step over the line on this. Our website had reached a certain milestone in number of languages translated into—it is over 1000 now—we were sort of proud of it at the time and the recommendation was to bring that up along with the question: “Do you know why we do it?” I never liked the approach and I never tried it. 

I accompanied someone who did, though. “Do you know why we do it?” he asked. His return visit said: “What! Do you think I’m a trained chimp? Of course I do! You want to reach people!” That’s why I never used it.

That’s not to say I don’t mention the website, though. On the contrary, I usually do (though not to this fellow—it didn’t occur to me) I usually mention the languages, too, only I supply the reason, rather than try to extract it from the householder. If you are serious about preaching the good news worldwide, of course you are going to have such a website as soon as the technology exists. It would almost be religious malpractice not to.



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Search for Those Who are Interested Without Putting into a Panic Those Who are Not

I worked with someone in field service recently who was—shall we say—in over-enthused mode. The householder, accordingly, was doing all he could to ensure that the brother did not lay a glove on him. He did not want a fire and he was trying for all he was worth to hose us down. He brought up how he believes each one has his own belief, and furthermore, each one has the obligation to respect the other person’s belief, and so forth. 

Did the brother take the hint? Not a bit of it. He remained convinced that just one more pointjust one more sentence from him would turn the whole situation around—and so he kept pressing, while the poor householder was practically working himself into a frenzy.

I interrupted. I rarely do. Contrary to those videos in which the two witnesses stand side-by-side in oddly choreographed behavior, or at least it seems that way to me, I usually hang well back and give the appearance that I am just barely paying attention—this is so it does not appear to be two ganging up against one. I especially do this if it is a woman that answers the door.

With the householder getting agitated—an entirely reasonable response given the brother’s full court press, I interjected: “Let me tell you how it works with Jehovah’s Witnesses.” They both paused. “We ARE going to ask you to convert,” I told him. “But it is not going to happen until the 100th call, and what are the chances anything will go that long? In the meantime, it’s just conversation.”

The tension instantly broke. The person visibly relaxed. “Oh—it is just conversation,” he reflected. Then he allowed that over the years JWs had already probably called upon him 100 times, but even so he (and the other brother’s) demeanor changed. We wrapped up without fuss and moved on. It is a method I heartily recommend, having seen it bear good fruit many times. Search for those who are interested without putting into a panic those who are not.

I probably also said something at the end about how we come without appointment—something that is almost unheard of today—so if someone is gracious to us—as he had been (for he was not at all unpleasant)—we truly appreciate it.

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The Wood-Sawing Contest—What a Way to End Field Service!

Joan is pushing ninety, alert, and she looks spry. The bevy of pills before her testifies that there may be more than meets the eye, however. Indeed, they just released her from the hospital after a three day stay. Her daughter sits kitty-corner at the table. She quit her job so as to be her mom’s full-time caregiver. That way mom will likely not go into a nursing home, and avoiding one is what she wants.

New York State wants it, too. It’s far cheaper on the social structure if Medicare/caid patients stay at home, and there is a program whereby a family member can be reimbursed by the state, which would otherwise send funds to far more pricey places.

I have come to visit the two, and they pour me some chamomile tea.

As usual on visits like this, talk turns to reminiscing of back in the day. Such as when daughter and mother and aunt worked the door-to-door ministry in a small town that had a wood-sawing contest going on. The mother—she was raised on a farm and is well accustomed to chores—gazed at the clumsy white men pretending to be pioneers—and said to her sister: “I think we can take them.”

“You’re in field service, Mom!” her daughter upbraids her, mortified at the spectacle she might make. But....these flabby young men, in their new store-bought flannel shirts—“it’s important to keep the saw moving so it doesn’t seize up,” the daughter told me, and some of these guys working out their affectation weren’t doing so hot as they struggled to tug the blade to and fro.

“I think we can take them,” Joan repeated to her sister. “Oh, sure! A couple of old ladies in dresses and carrying bookbags stuffed with Watchtowers! No, mom! Forget it!” the daughter rebuked them.

It would have happened on my watch! Forget service—I would have signed them up then and there! Nor do I think it would have been a bad witness. “Jehovah Witness Ladies Capture Wood-Cutting Crown, Beat Out Smallville’s Best”—what a witness that would have been! What! Do you think it would have been a greater witness to place a couple of magazines with someone on the topic: “What is the Purpose of Life?”

The purpose of life is to take wannabe roughing-it pioneers, and hand them their heads on a platter—and show them how REAL pioneers do it!

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“Oh, No. I Would Never Presume to Compare Myself With the Most High God!”

It’s funny how people are.
I ran into someone from pioneer school 30 years ago. Back then, students would learn techniques for the ministry, and would spend an afternoon field-testing them. So it was that I found myself working with a certain sister one afternoon long ago. I had barely seen her since.
She spoke so glowingly of me. Her memories of our working together were so appreciative. A householder had answered the door, as she recalled, and had asked, “Are you Jehovah?” ”Oh, no,” I had instantly answered, full of self-effacing humility, aghast at the very thought. “I would never presume to compare myself to the Most High God. No, I am just a lowly servant of His trying imperfectly to serve him. I would never, ever...” and so forth. The sister was so impressed at my humble manner. She had carried that memory around for who knows how many years.
It didn’t happen like that at all! I didn’t say any of that stuffl! Of COURSE I’m not God—I don’t have to explain why!
I remember the incident well. The friendly woman had been barely visible through the screen door that hot summer afternoon—she was way back there in the kitchen, and we were on the front doorstep. Interrupted and preoccupied, she had blurted out the first thing that had popped into her head: “Are you Jehovah?”
“Um....no....actually, I’m not,” was my hesitant reply. At which point, she realized what she had really said and she burst out laughing. Her gaffe served to make her still more friendly, as though she owed us, and we had a nice, if brief, conversation. I never said any of those silly things that my companion had for years attributed to me!
She was confusing, I am pretty sure, this experience with one in print from decades ago, of a lowly Mexican brother working in a fabulously wealthy territory—responding to the demand that he identify himself. Wasn’t he one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? a haughty fellow wanted to know. He had answered to the effect that he tries to be...he tries. It is not easy measuring up to the standards of the Most High God, and he would not presume to say that he does measure up....but he tries. The fellow peddled goods from a donkey cart, if I recall correctly. The householder was a leader of industry.
I didn’t even have a donkey cart that afternoon. I had left it at home. We had driven up in a car—just like that of the householder who asked me if I was God.
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Preaching Where it’s Not Allowed

I wasn’t 30 seconds into my presentation when the householder told me I wasn’t allowed to be there. Wasn’t I? There were no signs to that effect.

I seldom pay attention to whether I am allowed or not. Surely an offer to “read a scripture, you tell me what you think, and I’m gone”—should not trigger a response too ballistic—and this is what I mostly do. I have even observed, right before a “No Soliciting” sign*, that I did indeed notice it and “was a little concerned that you might think it applied to me. It doesn’t, but you might think that it does.” It is simply to clarify—no intent to argue.

You don’t stay where you’re not wanted. Of course, off I will go, but not with my tail between my legs, as though admitting that I had been up to no good. I am not up to no good. I am up to good, and I like when that is the impression that remains.

I can usually parry aside with good nature such remarks like not being allowed—but in this case the woman just got madder and madder. So I turned to go with my tail between my legs, when my companion said: “You do know that we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, right?” I braced for the conflagration set by his pouring gas on the fire.

Companions don’t always behave like the silhouetted figures of the demonstrations, you know. There was even one companion, long ago, who would so reliably trip me up with completely irrelevant interjections—just about nail that point on the resurrection, and he would say: “What about that Trinity?”—that on approaching one return visit I said: “I don’t want you to say anything except: ‘I agree.’” Instantly I was filled with remorse, for he is on my team, after all, but I needn’t have feared. He took it as a great joke—he knows how he is—and throughout the afternoon he happily parroted: “I don’t want you to say anything except: ‘I agree.’”

My present companion then added for the irate householder’s benefit that “the U.S. Supreme Court has guaranteed our right to preach door to door,” and I braced for the nuclear detonation that he had set off. I mean, there is such a thing as a proper time and a place.

To my surprise, however, he had said exactly the right thing. It turned out that this person had nothing at all against Jehovah’s Witnesses—she admired them. What she was cranked up about was that she, too, wanted to go door to door in behalf of her church for some upcoming event and the neighborhood association had told her that she could not—it wasn’t “allowed.” She didn’t know why it should not be allowed. It should be, she thought, but it was not. Jehovah’s Witnesses do it, she said to the neighborhood chief, and the reply that they should not either. So that’s what she was upset with—that we were doing it, but she could not.

I told her that she should. After all, who was she going to listen to—the judge of the entire inhabited earth, or the street boss? If you truly do have what you think is good news, you don’t just sit on it, Jesus said. You put your lamp right up there on the lamp stand so that others can benefit from it—who cares if the street boss would take it down? A “No Trespassing” sign on someone’s own home is a sign to respect—you do not violate those—but not so with just the directive of a third party unless there is unmistakable evidence that the householder is in accord with it.

This particular neighborhood chief didn’t even care. She had told the woman: “Celeste, if I don’t know about it, then there is no problem.” She has enough things to do rather than enforce some stupid directive that she doesn’t care about anyway.

Our conversation became downright pleasant and extended much longer than I had ever intended. She was easily drawn out about her own principles, and she described in some detail how she put herself out on behalf of others—in the case of one alcoholic neighbor, seemingly whether that was desired or not—I mean, it was almost to the point of stalking. Nonetheless, she revealed a good motive. I told her that she was plainly a person with a good conscience, and that she should listen to it more—don’t be bullied into submission by some neighborhood boss who didn’t care anyway. But she said that her conscience told her she had to obey the rules. Sigh....and people say we are the ones unable to think for ourselves.

I’ll call back, this time with my wife. How will it turn out? Will it be a relationship to build upon or will she revert to saying that I am not allowed?


*Do not answer: “We’re not soliciting,” if accused of such. I mean, say it if you like, but don’t forget to wave the red flag before the bull. Half the time, you are wrong, anyway, because soliciting goes beyond dealing with money—if it was confined to that we’d be fine every time. Even asking for an opinion is technically soliciting, though not everyone has that in mind. It is one reason that I simply begin with the offer to read a scripture—I don’t know how anyone can get soliciting out of that. What you can say about soliciting is: “I’ll make sure not to do that.” Just don’t get in anyone’s face—why would anybody want to behave that way?


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Another Day on the “Recruiting” Trail - Sheesh

One college kid asked, when I proposed returning, “To what end?” It was a question  I’d not been asked before.

I explained that in my ideal scenario I would return 100 times and engage in 100 different conversations and on the 101st I would ask him if he wanted to be a Jehovah’s Witness like me and at that time he should say ‘No.’ 

I even asked him to rehearse. “Let me show you how it would work. I am going to ask you to become a Witness like me and I want you to say “No.” Would you do that? He agreed. 

“Would you like to become a Witness?” I asked. “No,” he said.

“You see? Nothing to worry about. It’s just conversation. You’ll learn your way around the Bible in the meantime, if that is something you want. The moment you tire of it, just let me know. No one is easier to get rid of than Tommy. You almost have to beg him to stay.”

The anticult people try to spin it as “recruiting.” That’s why the outrage some have over the recent letter expressing condolences over someone’s loss. If they just took it at face value, they’d be okay with it. We should not let those scoundrels define the game.

Are we “recruiting?” I suppose so, but in the most non-threatening way possible, so that only by really stretching the point could we be said to be doing it. And it is not an immediate goal—telling the good news of the kingdom is.

I always explain my motive: “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come,” says Matthew 24:14. Who should be expected to do that other than those who have come to believe it? And no, it is not the end of the earth. But it is the end of the present “system of things.” Earth divvied up into a couple hundred eternally squabbling nations is not God’s idea, and the time will come when “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” I mean, presumably it all runs pretty well up there and God’s will rules the day, but it sure isn’t the case here, is it? That’s not to say that “God’s will” loses out each and every time, but it can hardly be said to be the norm, can it?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are “indoctrinating?” College is far more indoctrinating than anything having to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The typical student is separated 24/7 from his or her previous stabilizing routine and people—a classic tool of brainwashing.

(I didn’t actually go through the rehearsal with this kid. Our best lines always occur to us too late. But that does not mean that I won’t do it when the situation is right.)


photo: Airman Magazine


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'

One Dud of a Hall Here Can Buy 100 There - the Kingdom Halls

The fellow was in a rush when I first contacted him, just about to leave to pick up the kids from school. He was apologetic about it, very nice, and allowed that I should visit some other time. When I did I told him it was to show a video that lasted exactly a minute (actually a minute and six seconds—I lied).

He said we should go into the darkened garage where a video would be easier to see. It is the short video ‘Would You Like Good News?’ and it points to a brochure of similar name. That brochure’s table of contents lists about a dozen questions people have raised about God. ‘Ask if there are any that grab their interest,’ the C.O. had suggested. If there are, there is a basis for short conversation. If there are not, off you go, nice as you please. I even thank them for their time. After all, people are busy, we call without appointment, which is pretty much unheard of today, and there is no obligation for them to speak with us at all. The fact that a given person does is reason to thank them for their time, in my view.

‘That says it all as to what we do,’ I told the fellow after the video. My instincts had not been wrong that here was a decent guy with an interest in spiritual things. “How people can not believe in God?—all you have to do is look around,” he had said unbidden. I even tried to stick up for “those people” with the observation that a lot of bad things happen today and some feel that if there is a God, surely he would have fixed them. He didn’t buy it.

Your building is right up there on route such-and-such, he said. But I told him that we had sold that one, and I gave him the party line—it was because of our great growth—(whereas if anyone else had done it, it would mean they are going belly-up). Well—it can be spun that way and so I do. The Halls aren’t all where they should be, so if you combine some groups here, you can sell off an underutilized one there and build one where you need it. This especially works when the ones needed are in developing lands. One underperforming dud of a Hall here can finance 100 over there—aiding ones who could ill afford it on their own—a significant advantage of organization.

It’s all valid to explain it that way. It works. It’s true enough. Having said that, that was not the intent when the Hall was built in the first place. The intent was to fill it to the rafters. Ah, well. With admittedly some hyperbole, Witnesses can put up and dispose of Kingdom Halls as readily as the greater world puts up and disposes of Coleman tents—they are very handy people—so it makes sense to do it this way. The arrangement that I thought could never be improved upon has been significantly improved upon—streamlined for overall efficiency—again, something that shows the advantage of organization.

This guy lives way out there, where I don’t get too often. It’s why I like the website, and specifically the online series of Bible study courses. They are self-guided, I explained, and you can take a day or a year to go through them all, building a foundation of basic Bible knowledge. In fact, I am looking forward to saying—the timing and circumstances will have to be just right—I would never do it with this fellow: “I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself!” You don’t have to spoon-feed everyone elementary verse by elementary verse. People are smart. They can do it themselves, in most cases. I even think that keeps some of us babes ourselves—if we eternally are striving to present the basics.


photo: First Solids, by Squiggle



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'