Tweeting the Meeting—Week of March 1, 2021. I Reconnect with an Old Friend.

Weekend Meeting

I am Zooming to Georgia for the meeting today. A friend’s son is giving his first public talk. Last time I saw him the boy was 10 and his parents were leaning on him to keep up with his homework and saxophone lessons.

There are a number of people I know here, &haven’t seen in a long time—from many places. Zoom makes that possible. Most friends say they look forward to Kingdom Halls reopening, but I have heard some say they don’t care if they ever see a Hall again—Zoom enables that streamlining

“Friends are like buttons on a elevator,” the kid says. “Some will bring you up and some will bring you down.” #WeekendMeeting

It is no surprise that the kid has iPad rather than print Bible—most young people do, and even adults. But it is especially apt for him. His dad is a high-tech honcho for a Fortune500 company. When we flew down to visit, he tracked us every inch of the way via an app.

No surprise, too, that the young man has a pure blue background, probably virtual. First I have seen other than on jw.org. Usually, as with newsmakers, there is a home background. ...1/2

One bro would take down his distracting baseball pics, but you could still see the hooks. Apparently he’d put them up again after the meeting....2/2

Look, this talk is very very good. He is from a family of high-achievers. And yet it lacks nothing in warmth and affability. Is it too stereotypical to say that the family is Asian?

Congregation is on the ball. Everyone has a blue background. Maybe the KH is opened for the purpose. And field service to commence in a breakout room 5 minutes after mtg. I’ve never seen it. Usually, chatter continues until someone pulls the plug and dedicates the rest to service.

I am atypically not prepared at all for the Watchtower study. Things happened last night. Nothing severe, just unanticipated. I have to skim ahead during the meeting, & I prefer not to do it that way.

Ah. It is refreshing that this together congregation is, like the rest of us mortals, experiencing minor Zoom problems. #watchtowerstudy It is almost like, “Rise, for I too am a man.”

Yikes. There are six pages here. It will not be a slam-dunk to get in a comment here. Maybe just as well, given my lack of prep. I would not be surprise if a HUGE number were visitors come to see my friend’s son’s first talk—he is very supportive of his family.

This is the Watchtower study that focuses upon the new year text, this year “Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust.” (Isa 30:15) It is in keeping with the overall there of coping with anxiety. One pic has someone holding the verse, as though a note reminder

Since I type my life away, I am not as given to anxiety as I might be at other times—writing is a coping mechanism in itself.

Yeah. I tried. I raised my hand but there are too many here to choose from. There is also very good participation

What I would have said is appreciation for how Acts 5 simplifies it. They felt they “must” preach, not could they or would they. Even in times of upheaval to normal routine, (like now) it can be possible to find a way and means, even devising one.

This is one together congregation. I tell you, there is no one here that is likely to have a cat walking behind them.

I raised my hand then lowered it. Someone had just said much the same. With so many people here, you don’t want to blow time with parroting something already said.

In this study on anxiety, Jesus’ pithy “Stop being anxious” is not quoted. I like the verse for introducing the notion it is open to attitudinal influence , but there have been anxious ones discouraged at any suggestion it is a switch that one can readily be flipped off.

Ah. There is a footnote that says anxiety may be a medical condition. As to stopping it, if you can’t do it you can’t do it. Don’t worry about it. Of course, those precise words were not used.

As the words to closing song are displayed, the speaker’s box and only his is displayed as thumbnail, as though presiding. I didn’t even know that was possible. I am told 8 pages of instruction come with Zoom meetings, largely to thwart trolls, but also for general appearance. ...1/2

Most congregation struggle with too many and some botch them all. This one didn’t miss a trick, I think, and may have added a few....2/2

Oh my goodness! The breakout rooms are named for scriptural themes! I have never seen anything other than #1, #2, #3, etc

Whoa! The 21-year old speaker (his first talk) is deluged with praise, and for the first time looks a little uncomfortable. It WAS a near perfect talk, & few give public talks at 21.    1/2

I’ll write to tell him not to let it go to his head—no doubt unnecessary as he is from a terrific family and seems well-grounded, but it can’t hurt and will be good pretext for getting reacquainted.   2/2

When you give a talk and people mob you to gush on how you have knocked it out of the park, it is a very awkward moment. There are only so many times you can say, “It’s not me, it’s Jehovah.” I learned to just say “Thank you,” and change the topic to them.

Of course, I never had this problem. What they would say to me is, “When I hear you speak, Brother Harley, I marvel at the wisdom of God’s organization in cutting public talks from 45 minutes to 30.”

When I first met my friend, he was himself about 21. A Vietnamese refugee, he loaded trucks for UPS and I believe it was they who were putting him through college. I recall him telling me that, having just left the bank, he was held up, I think it was at gunpoint. He would not relinquish his rent money! “I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” he told the robber. “I don’t care about money. You can have all of it except what is for rent. I need that.” Way to get himself killed! However, he did emerge the victor of his “negotiations!” The thief did not get the rent money. He was insistent on that point.

After graduation, before departing for his new IT job with the firm he had loaded trucks for, he married the last single pioneer sister from a family of ten. At the wedding reception, I could tell his refugee sponsors were not entirely thrilled about it. They were gracious, of course, and you had to drag it out of them—they didn’t go around muttering. I know how this works with career-minded college people when you marry into a family with no college. I know this because my own grandmother had grilled my prospective wife as to whether she was “good enough” for me. She is more than good enough, thank you very much. And my friend’s wife is more that good enough for him. If he is like me, he has turned the question around to say, “Am I good enough for her?”My grandmother was certainly not a bad woman, nor was she stuck up. She just wanted the best for her grandson, and I as firstborn was her favorite. (A wise choice, as the second-born is the brother with whom I play bi-weekly games of Scrabble, and he always cheats.)

I studied with this grandmother (actually a step-grandmother, no blood relation, though you would never know it) after my graduation from college—I had learned the Bible during my junior-senior summer break, and I almost didn’t return to school. My mom was so distraught at this, not speaking to me out of tears—and believe me, my mother not speaking was as unlikely as Trump not speaking with tears or without—that I knuckled under and returned for the final year. It was a little silly, after all, to go three years and not to completion. The brother studying with me offered to set me up in the other city, and for whatever reason I said no. I was studying the Bible with the aid of.a book, and if there was one thing a college student knew how to do, it was read a book. Besides, I liked him well-enough, but maybe the person he sent would be a nut. Like the born-again nut that had approached myself and two buddies on our camping trip that had us stopping from here to Washington DC and back.

He came out of nowhere into our campsite. “I just wanted to know if you boys knew the Lord,” he said. He rambled on for the longest time and I don’t remember all he said but I do remember we all thought he was a kook but we also respected him (and God) for mustering up the courage. He ran himself out of words after awhile and we spent the rest of the week composing songs of mockery—one friend had a guitar and all of us could sing. I mean, it was God, and we all respected that, but he wasn’t saying anything that appealed to the head. His emotion alone didn’t do it for us.

I did study on my own back in college, but only for a short while, for I was soon immersed in college life. In time, out of discouragement at where college was leading (or not leading) and at how I had been convinced I had found something of spiritual substance, I looked up the address of a Kingdom Hall and walked in. Therein begins another story and I’ve probably told it somewhere, but if not maybe I will.

The grandmother I studied with—she may have been my first Bible study—would have me over for dinner every week, or maybe it was every two weeks. Again, I was her favorite. After homemade cooking, we would study out of the truth book. She went to the Baptist church, and I learned later that my dad thought her a religious fanatic, but then, anyone bringing up the Bible was a religious fanatic to him. I think the Second World War was a big turnoff to him. Oh, and it didn’t help when the priest said he could not marry my Protestant mom unless she converted. Forget that!” he said, and they never saw him again.

Nobody else ever thought Nana a fanatic. She wasn’t a Bible-thumper. I can’t recall her ever preaching to anyone. She just went to church. Anyway, we went through several chapters of the Truth Book, and she was a very good student, but she also became troubled. “I see what this is saying,” she would tell me, “and I see how the scriptures support it, but it is just so different, she said.” I will never forget how troubled she was to think I had rejected the Trinity. But it turned out that by trinity, she just thought that their were three parties, and Witnesses must be denying that. When I explained about co-equal, co-powerful, co-eternal, co-this, and co-that, she said that she had never believed that—she just thought there were three close parties, so there was really no conflict!

Between school and courting, I don’t think my Vietnamese friend had too much to do with the fledgling Vietnamese group that was forming. That was largely Erna, a pioneer who had rented homes to some of them, had offered them studies, and two had accepted. This will be interesting she said, for she didn’t know a word of Vietnamese. But Erna was staggeringly resourceful. Her dad, whose home building business she had probably helped launch from one-house-at-a-time to lucrative, put her through law school and she emerged a commuter lawyer for Bethel. Some ne’er-do-wells online were carrying on once about how Witness women must have a horrible time always kowtowing to men. “I don’t know,” one of them said, “I knew Erna at Bethel and she wouldn’t put up with that crap for a moment.” So he does know Erna, I smiled. As congregation secretary, I had drafted her letter of recommendation to Bethel.

Though there were high and mighty Vietnamese, as there are those sorts everywhere, the ones we came in contact with arrived as boat people, They were remarkable. They would arrive with nothing, on welfare and food assistance. Within two years they were homeowners growing their own food, and bartering at the market. Venders of chickens had to come to grips with some of them being purchased for sacrifice. Another was rushed to the hospital when the mushrooms her family picked in the local schoolyard turned out to be poisonous toadstools—I guess that problem didn’t present back home. Each family member would work a job, sometimes more than one, almost always for minimum wage, but the income added up. I spoke with Anh once about demons. Did they know much about them where he had come from. Oh yes, he said matter-of-factly. They were always to be found in the woods, were apt to cause trouble, and sometimes his peasant neighbors would go hunting them down, which was not easy work and was fraught with danger because they could be nasty. Many years later I thought of that woman doctor from the Caribbean who had championed the anti-malarial drug that Trump advocated. Media felt obliged to discredit her, so they made mockery at similar statements she had made regarding demonism—it is not an “educated” Western concept even if it is an unremarkable fact of life for many lowly people today.

Oh, there is plenty more to the story, and I must get to it someday. Possibly, I already have and it is buried in posts somewhere. I really do need a massive overhaul in my filing system, but will probably never get around to it. After I die, in the unlikely event anyone tries to unravel this stuff, they will say, “Huh! The old buzzard must have said this 15 times if he said it once!”

And here is from the mid-week meeting. I usually do these first, but reconnecting with my old friend took precedence this time:

A new ‘translate’ button has appeared and it was explained it was for members of our foreign language group. Someone asked if it would work for.Charlie’s Brooklyn accent. #midweekmeeting

That zealous sister who suffered the heart attack is back. Someone asked her if the territory of Upstate Hospital is now completely covered.

“Way to fit a 5 1/2 minute video into a 5 minute part, the presiding elder said to the one conducting it? Was the “Organizational Accomplishments video really longer than the time allotted for it?

The local needs speaker built his talk, geared toward the young, around Isa 41: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. ..For I...am grasping your right hand...saying to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I myself will help you.’

The new Zoom settings enable personalized hands. Some black friends have brown hands, some white have tan hands. Were I Irish, would I choose a green hand, or if Native American, red? I have the default yellow, which apparently is not reserved for Asian.

Spurred on by Covid, there are many museum tours offered virtually from afar. The “disgusting idols,” even “false gods” that “competed” with Jehovah and triggered not-so-hot conduct are on display, and the guides are always more than ready to explain them. #Ezekielstudy

A new Zoom function was employed for the first time, allowing participants to come and go and switch breakout rooms at any time. But I didn’t like it. I feared it might be a revisit of school gym days where everyone was chosen for dodge ball before me.

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Tight Pants, Wide Ties, Volkswagen Buses, and Holding the Watchtower

When Anthony Morris, at the 2016 Regional in Atlanta, spoke of coming down south, and his sons had asked him ‘What is a redneck?’ he replied that they “would know them when they saw them.”

He was having fun with his opening remarks. Everyone....well, almost everyone....took it in that spirit. In case there was someone who did not, in a subsequent talk he walked it back, referring to the gentle “folk wisdom” of the south.

He speaks off the cuff sometimes. Rise, for he too is human. He probably regrets that remark about the tight pants, because various soreheads have made it their year text ever since. 

It is very difficult counseling a huge and diverse group of people One will say: “Thanks for the new RULE!!” and his companion will say: “Huh? Did you say something?” I think he and those of his group just don’t want to find themselves in the shoes of Lot, whose sons-in-law thought he was joking.

Even at the Watchtower study last Sunday, the conductor gave an aside about the tight pants, observing that they must have to be put on when wet, so as to allow the fabric to stretch over the feet. Strictly speaking, (even loosely speaking) it is not necessary. But an 80-year old can be forgiven for a few seconds (it was no more than that, and he is universally regarded as a man of integrity and good judgment) of scratching his head and expressing bewilderment at the world that is today.

This is the same Watchtower conductor whose lifelong secular work was that of a Porsche dealer mechanic, and who quit in disgust when Porsche began manufacturing SUVs, as though an elite art museum commenced displaying that painting of the dogs playing poker. It’s not true, he tells me. He was about to retire anyway, but he does nothing to counter the crotchety-sounding meme that others have spread around. 

This is the same Watchtower Study, on how the wisdom of Jehovah is superior to the wisdom of this world, in which I thought the artwork was wrong. The VW bus is one from the 70’s, whereas it should have been one with a funky grill that was from the 60’s. The impeccably dressed brother with the hat is from the 50s—hadn’t dress hats pretty well faded out by the mid-60s? And don’t get me going about the “hippy” conversing with him, who no doubt took off his wig and clothes thereafter and resumed his place analyzing a computer spreadsheet at Bethel.

And while I am on the topic of that Watchtower:

My daughter is in town for a few weeks. At the study observation of how some say God-given sexual desire argues for promiscuity, she said: “Well, that’s stupid! God made me to have to pee, too. Does that mean I should pee my pants?”

“That’s my daughter!” I told the family gathering, as she related her remark. Frankly, I wish I had thought of it.

But back to the tight pants. They were tight in the early 60s, too, and I can remember battles with my [non-Witness] Dad because I wanted to wear them and he had a fit over it, though I gradually won out. Even the “spray-on” descriptions are from the past. I wore clamdiggers, too, cool pants that came in pastel colors, had a stripe down the side, and ended mid-shin. I wore them when visiting my uncle who lived way way out in the sticks, and he said: “What are you doing wearing peddle-pushers? Those are girls’ pants!!” They weren’t peddlepushers, you hillbilly. They were cool clamdiggers.

It’s not just pants. Ties widened in the late 60’s as well, regaining the status they previously had given up. I remember Brother Park giving a talk about how the Bethel brothers were very concerned for Brother Knorr, who showed up for meals day after day with very wide ties at a time when the styles were changing—I think he said they ultimately became as thin as a pencil. Those brothers were so worried about him, because he was “not in style.”

“BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED?!” he gasped. Ties began to reverse and became wider and wider—and now Brother Knorr is “in style!”

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Skirmish #282244 - “I would like to get on the phone with Bro. Anthony Morris III (AKA "Tight Pants Tony")...”

AKA "Tight Pants Tony"

You bring this up so frequently (and HOW old are you?) that I have become curious over something:

Please post a full-length photo of yourself.

If, as I suspect, it shows you wearing spray-on pants, that will explain a lot.

(He did post one—of himself back in the day leaning on a fancy car. He was rather dapper back then. Whatever happened? No tight pants, however.)

So. You don’t wear tight suit pants yourself. You probably agree with everyone else that they look ridiculous. You also probably agree that they are ‘manipulative’ — they are the product of a highly sexualized fashion industry that seeks always to highlight sensuality. When these ones turn their attention to children, they put them in clothes that suggest they are hookers. Mothers—and I do not mean just Christian mothers, I mean just protective ones—have to buy boy’s gym shorts for their daughters so as to make them not a target for pedophiles.

And yet you giggle on like a adolescent about “tight pants Tony.” What’s with that?

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photo: Blue Jeans - Emanuelle Tortora

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Sex and the Two-Mile Strand of Spaghetti

Scientists identify four fundamental forces of nature: the strong and weak nuclear force, gravity, and the electromagnetic force. For 99.9% of the earth’s population, these are irrelevant and there is only a fifth that must be understood: the force of sexual attraction. God didn’t want to revisit Adam and Eve after a few hundred years, discover them on a barren planet, and hear them say “Oh, we were supposed to do that? I guess we plumb forgot. Sorry.”

Sexual attraction is the most crucial force to understand, even if it is not of the Four. Pursue the four if you like—and it is good for human knowledge that some do. However, the typical youngster will never approach a black hole of outer space to see the four forces interact.

He or she will approach the black hole of sexual attraction that his seemingly overcautious parents have probably told him about. Intrigued by an awakening of desire, he gingerly approaches. All seems inviting, tantalizing—what is this fuss that the old people have carried on about? He edges closer and closer until its sudden irresistible pull grabs and stretches him into a two-mile strand of spaghetti.

From Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses Write Russia

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photo: "spaghetti" by Rene something something

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An Advocate for Singleness - Francis Bacon, #90 on the Influential Persons List

Was it only me who was surprised to see specific counsel about sex in the Bible?

Let the husband render to [his] wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to [her] husband.  The wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, also, the husband does not exercise authority over his own body, but his wife does.  Do not be depriving each other [of it], except by mutual consent for an appointed time, that you may devote time to prayer and may come together again, that Satan may not keep tempting you for your lack of self-regulation.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)

I just didn’t expect to see it there—maybe I should have—and it cemented my opinion that the Bible was a very practical book.

The apostle Paul, who was not married, recommended singleness as a way of life: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman;  yet, because of prevalence of fornication, let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband....However, I say this by way of concession, not in the way of a command.  But I wish all men were as I myself am. (1 Corinthians 7:1-7)

In the single state, one can more readily give “constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction,” he wrote at vs 35.

So from time to time, the Witness organization dutifully recommends singleness as a way of life. Few take them up on it—perhaps because those doing the recommending are almost always married themselves. Instead, they employ the “escape clause” at verse 36: “But if anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virginity, if that is past the bloom of youth, and this is the way it should take place, let him do what he wants; he does not sin. Let them marry.” They even push the “bloom of youth” phrase to almost mean two minutes past the bloom of youth. Many of our people go in for marriage when quite young. Many of these later come to say that they entered marriage too young.

Is there anyone other than the apostle Paul who gives such advice? To my surprise, there is—and he is a big name by historical standards—Francis Bacon, a philosopher of the 16th century who advocated for scientific investigation, recognizing its potential to change the world. From Aristotle’s time, science had been mostly based on deduction. Bacon changed it to be based on induction. Rather than ‘downloading’ ‘settled science’ and deducing from it, he advanced the notion of ‘uploading’ observations and experiments, and using that to modify existing science, so that it should never become like calcified religious dogma. Michael Hart ranks him #90 on this list of the 100 most influential persons who have ever lived. (Paul is #6)

His preference of singleness (though, like most who ‘recommend’ singleness today, he was married) is for the same reason as Paul’s: one can do more in that state: He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public.”

This is not necessarily true of the unmarried—that they make great contributions (“Some there are, who though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences”)—but it could be more readily true of them, by reason of having fewer distractions.

Watch out the traps of marriage!—and I am not sure here whether he is lampooning those who run from it simply for the sake of self-centeredness, or if he advocating forsaking it for the contributions one can thereby more easily make to humankind: “But the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants; but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away; and almost all fuginves are of that condition.”

He even agrees with Paul’s specific application for remaining unmarried: “Single life doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly water the ground were it must first fill a pool.” How well that ties in with Paul’s: “The unmarried man is anxious for the things of the Lord, how he may gain the Lord’s approval.  But the married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife, and he is divided” (Vs 32-34)

That is not to say that either Francis or Paul did not concede the tempering effect of marriage on personality: “Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they may be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hard-hearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon.”

Still, all things considered, Bacon refers to “one of the wise men, that made answer to the question, when an man should marry—A young man, not yet, and elder man not at all.

Who knew? C4DD0E19-880B-432F-AC49-BA17DECABA87

 

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Did the Watchtower Give Women Bad Advice?

It is ever the pitfall of zealots that they are so eager to prove a point that, in their haste, they will grab something that proves just the opposite, yet continue to gloat as though have found the smoking gun. Such was the case when advocates at an atheist website tore their hair out over “some truly horrific advice to women in abusive relationships” from the December 2018 Watchtower magazine. They were to stay in them no matter what!

Well, that does sound truly horrific, and there were many who immediately condemned the scoundrels who would give such a vile command. Others went to the article first, where they discovered that it said nothing of the sort.

Isn’t this just Witness opponents depriving women of the right to choose? It is ironic because they generally claim to be champions of that right. The article makes clear that a woman always has a choice, that she need not be railroaded into an action just because it is societally popular.

Some leave amidst very trying circumstances. Some stay. Either action works from the congregation’s point of view. They have the right to choose. How is that the Watchtower urging them to stay with an abusive mate no matter what, the accusation of the opponents?  If a woman wants to try to salvage a marriage, what business is that of theirs? It may be an unwise decision or it may be the best decision she ever made, but either way, it is her decision.

Given the staggering cost of family breakup—emotional, mental, financial, and long-lasting damage to the children, if a woman decides to stick it out more than opponents approve, with a view towards salvage, who is to say that she is crazy? Possibly reading this chapter are veterans of two, three, four, or more failed relationships who wish they had put more effort into a given one. If she pulls it off, she has gained something very good.

These are not short-term hook-ups that we are speaking of, latching on to some loser that you cut loose as soon as you see what he is. These are marriages of years or decades’ duration. In some cases, they never used to be abusive, but they have become so due to who knows what factors? Dignify the woman as having the judgement to decide, based upon history, pressures affecting her man, and factors only she might know, as to whether he should be jettisoned or not.  If the lout has to go, he goes. Just don’t let some third party push you into it. The choice is always hers.

It is as though the grumblers cheer at the breakup of a marriage, oblivious to the damage left in its wake. It is as though they would prevent a woman from trying to repair hers. Let her try if she wants to, or even put up with one far from ideal, if that be her choice. Sometimes when you are between a rock and a hard place, you don’t assume or let the opponents tell you that the hard place is really a bed of roses. It isn’t always that way. I mean, it is not exactly as though they will be around to repair the damage, is it?

Granted, they like marriage over there in the Jehovah’s Witness world. Until fairly recently, everybody did, and considered family the foundation of society. Witnesses consider it a divine institution. That doesn’t mean others have to, but surely it means Witness women should be allowed to. They let their view be bound by biblical injunctions. Adultery is the one acceptable ground for ending a marriage, but even then, it does not necessitate it; it is always possible for the innocent mate to exercise his or her right of choice and forgiveness.

Several decades ago the Witness organization took note, as did most of society, of the increasingly visible ne’er-do-wells who, while they might not be unfaithful, were nonetheless impossiblet to live with. It took another look at 1 Corinthians 7, a chapter that deals with marital matters—sometimes people are surprised at how it says a husband and wife both owe each other sex (no, not “on demand” – don’t even go there) and should not be depriving each other of it. Specifically, it looked at verses 12 and 13: “If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is agreeable to staying with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is agreeable to staying with her, let her not leave her husband.” “Maybe a marriage mate’s conduct says he is ‘not agreeable,’ regardless of what his words say,” they reasoned.

For some time, therefore, the guidance for women (or men) in not-so-hot marriages is that there are three conditions that any one of which might justify separation: if there is extreme physical abuse, if there is willful non-support, or if there is absolute endangerment of spirituality. It is at once apparent that much in is the eye of the beholder, so from time to time Watchtower publications revisit the subject, so that congregation members are guided by what they signed on for in the first place and not unduly influenced by what is all the rage elsewhere. If the bad egg must be fried, let him fry. A woman always has that right. But she needn’t feel railroaded into that choice by a flood of outside pressure.

Any Witness woman knows this, because she has read and considered the entire article, not just a cherry-picked paragraph, and she has taken into account how it fits into her overall framework of knowledge. You almost begin to think what causes the steam to emit from the ears of opponents is another possible benefit of the woman’s forsaking her right to leave: maybe the ‘unbelieving’ husband will become a believing one. How is that a bad thing?  If the guy makes it as a Jehovah’s Witness, he will have made significant inroads against what makes him such a loser in the first place.

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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On Women. Part 1

Daily my enemy has been hammering at the door of some woman’s rights groups, hoping that they will cooperate with him in his efforts to make trouble for his former religion. This strikes me as an extraordinarily disrespectful thing to do: to bludgeon them each day as though he understands their cause better than they. If they don’t ‘take the bait,’ they don’t take it.

Lately he modifies his approach and says that he ‘respectfully asks’ they give attention to his beef. He changes tactics because so many of his own people began to accuse him of ‘man-bashing’ that he took to blocking them. When I read what he was doing, I thought it was due to me, but since I had been behaving myself lately, I went to check and I saw that - no, it was some of his own people. Moreover, while I may have been sharp in my disagreement, I was never (especially) disrespectful.

I think it will turn out as when the ever-capable female British intelligence officer said to Foyle, about the full-of-himself male officer that she, for the time-being, had to play second fiddle to, ‘He is overconfident and not really too smart. He will overreach and fall of his own weight. I’ve seen it before.’ (Foyle’s War)

Nobody will appreciate women’s issues like a woman. However, to the extent that a man may weigh in, I submit that I am more on their side than he, and if permitted, I will develop this point over a few posts. Suffice it to say going in that I have several times written: “The question to ask in any discipline, is not ‘Can women do it better than men?’ It is ‘How can they do worse?”

BTW, the beef he has is over a paragraph in the December 2018 Watchtower Magazine dealing with woman finding themselves in abusive relationships. If the background facts were as he represents, one might almost concede that he has a point. But the background facts have been misrepresented in almost every case. I wrote up a reply, which I also sent to these groups. The jury is still out on which version of truth they will prefer. Possibly they will say, ‘If we never hear again from either one of these two jerks, it will be not soon enough.’ However, I have just forwarded mine a few times. He does his every single day. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses do not call every single day.

Okay, consider a few examples of respect for women, first from the Bible, and second from the people who do their best to follow the Bible. The first two involve Jesus’s relationships with women. In themselves they are not decisive; one could even say that they do not go far enough. However, in the context of the times, they are monumental. When Jesus appeared on earth, he didn’t instantly stomp out injustice wherever he saw it. Otherwise there would have been not much left. For the most part, he worked within the existing world, even as the laid down principles that would facilitate a better one.

The ‘woman at the well’ Jesus spoke with was the first person to which he entrusted directly the news that he was God’s chosen Messiah. Even his disciples he made jump through hoops to arrive at that bit of intelligence, which, from a Christian’s point of view, is the most significant announcement of all time. He told it to a woman (John 4:26). Moreover, she was not some hoity-toity religiously self-righteous woman. She was a woman who was ‘living in sin.’ Woman’s groups today will probably disagree with definitions and values of that time, but they will nonetheless accede that Jesus first gave the most important news there was to a woman.

The second example is found in the angel who announces Jesus’s resurrection. Who does he entrust this 2nd-most important announcement of all time to? Again, it was women. (Luke 24:4-11) Now, at the time, the testimony of a woman was considered absolutely worthless in that male-dominated Greek, Roman, and yes, even Jewish world. In effect, the angel showed contempt for that male-dominated society, and completely skirted it. Even Jesus’s disciples, immersed in that culture, did not believe the women. That was of no consequence to the angel; they’ll figure it out in time, the big dopes.

Update to the present. The intent of Witness detractors today is to paint the religion as obsessed with the ‘submission’ women are supposed to show to men. To the extent the religion, or Bible, speaks of ‘submission,’ it is far more innocuous, and essentially is simply to acknowledge that in any ship, there is a captain. God has assigned the roles as best suited for the stability of the family, which for the most part, means the stability of the human race. There is no tolerance made for abuse. Of course, that is not to say that abuse has not occurred, but it occurs no less in places wanting nothing to do with Bible principles. Unless I am very mistaken, Harvey Weinstein did not go door-to-door telling people about ‘God’s magnificent purposes’.

It is a spiritual or family-based arrangement only. I realize that more women than not in the women’s groups mentioned will say that it is antiquated, and they have moved on from it for the best. Point taken. Let it be said, however, that in Watchtower facilities it is an absolutely unremarkable fact of life that women will exercise authority over men in any areas where they have better aptitude, for example, in design, computers, medicine, and law. If the men working under them ‘cop an attitude’ (which has happened) they will hear about it. Men are ever inclined anywhere to parlay their usually superior physical strength into attempted domination. Watchtower headquarters will not let them get away with it. Detractors will catch wind of a woman working in the furtherance of JW purposes, maybe law, and write of how she can endure in the midst of domineering men? She doesn’t have to. They submit to her in these pragmatic areas where competence is all that counts, and ‘submission’ is completely irrelevant, being merely a spiritual or family matter of organization.

Women are not seething with discontent over there in Witness-land, as their enemies seek to portray them. Neither are there weak women who tyrant men play like a fiddle. Of course, there are some ‘weak women,’ but there are also weak men. On balance, they are about equal.

It is common today that if you do not embrace a given cause, you are said to hate it. Thus, some try to paint Witnesses, and Christianity in general, as inherently hateful and abusive to women. Other Christian denominations will have to speak for themselves. I don’t follow them closely enough to weigh in one way or the other. I can only speak for my own people, and I will speak more of them in Part 2

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Are We Looking at Insurance Fraud? Part 2

This seemingly is a separate subject, but rest assured, it will converge. The Watchtower recently published an article that pointed out that some women in abusive marital relationships exercise their right to separate for safety’s sake, yet others have determined to stick it out. Lloyd Evans blew a gasket over this, wrote a short article of how controlling Watchtower men were, ordering Witness women to stay in abusive relationships, and he has been forwarding it daily to several agencies, hoping to get his former faith in trouble. Honestly. He did it as a countdown (or countup):

@ChtyCommission - Are you aware that Watchtower…is encouraging #jehovahswitness victims of #domesticviolence to endure life-threatening abuse?

and

It's Day 5 since Watchtower, a registered charity, publicly urged #JehovahsWitness women to stay with physically abusive husbands. @ChtyCommission has confirmed it is reviewing article. No response yet from @RefugeCharity or @womensaid.

and

Day 8 of a magazine with circulation numbering into the millions instructing women to "endure" abusive relationships. Still not a word from @ChtyCommission or #domesticviolence orgs @RefugeCharity @womensaid or @PurplePurse

At some point I chimed in, linking to my own post on the entire Watchtower article, not just a single paragraph and appending it with my tweets to his:

 

Day 9 of @cedarsjwsurvey hoping he can get his former religion in hot water with @ChtyCommission. Every day he hammers on their door. Sheesh. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t call every single day. @RefugeCharity @womensaid @PurplePurse .

and

11 STRAIGHT DAYS hammering their door! No cult leader could be more pesky.

and even

Day 23 of two women's groups being battered daily by a man who shames them for not pursuing his grudge against his former religion. One never knows, but it is possible they are considering overall context. @ChtyCommission @RefugeCharity @womensaid

Some of his own people told him to cool it:

if these organizations don't react, you have to respect their choice. Criteria of their evaluations is complex in nature (legal aspects) and other crucial elements imposed by the statutes of a Charity. Please read again Steve Hassan's last book, there are more efficient methods

Steve Hassan is a huge player in the ‘anti-cult’ movement. Here he is being appealed to as though he were a cult leader himself.

I couldn’t resist. I just had to tweet:

In other words, you’re making yourself a pain, Cedars. The whole world does not revolve around your beefs. @ChtyCommission @RefugeCharity @womensaid

Okay, here’s one more from me:

It is possible that @womensaid resents being lectured to daily by a male who presumes to know their concerns better than they do themselves. Aren't abusive males known to behave this way, refusing to take delay or silence for an answer? Possibly they read the entire WT article.

He is still at it and no, I don’t respond every day:

Day 31 of circulation. A month ago, Watchtower published its clearest ever advice encouraging JW women to "endure" abusive husbands. Incredibly, it seems they can do this without any official rebuke from DV orgs like @RefugeCharity & @womensaid.

Some of his own have broken ranks and accused him of ‘man-bashing.’ He is confident, I think overconfident. But I do not underestimate him. He has had some success in stirring up major mischief. And you never quite know what these agencies will do. I would think when he sends complainants over there, Bethel could respond if queried merely by citing their present policy on marital separation, but you never know how things will turn out until they turn out.

On day 40 or so, I became very bold and tweeted: "It's as though he says, 'G******t, answer me when I'm talking to you!'"

Around Day 60, I heard that he had given it up.

Now, it occurs to me, that if he can hammer on an agency each day, there is no reason that I cannot do the same:

Day 1 of Lloyd’s friend encouraging insurance fraud to his Twitter followers.

Only I won’t hammer at the same agency each day as he does. There are enough that I can mix them up, just like rotating public speakers at the Kingdom Hall. Oh, yeah. Let’s see where this goes.

I don’t know. Is it illegal or is it just incredibly crass and ungrateful? Imagine. Your home is destroyed in a flood. Instantly your fellow congregation members swoop in to restore or rebuild, donating both time and materials. Yet when it turns out that you have made provisions to cover exactly that circumstance you say ‘Fugeddaboudit! I like 'free' better. See you on the Adriatic coast, if you can afford it, that is. I can.’ Either way, they can be made to look awfully small.

As Sherlock says, ‘It’s Game On.’

See Part 1

See Part 3

Arguing

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Kavenaugh Plays His Trump Card: He Was a Virgin!

Kananaugh unloads his secret weapon when he states he was a virgin and had nothing even resembling sexual intercourse until well after school days. It is obviously true, for in today's culture, nobody admits to such a thing. It is to scream from the rooftops: "I am a loser!"

Now, he doesn't view it that way. And I come from a religious background where such is more common than uncommon for unmarried persons of that age, due to their beliefs on the sanctity of marriage and their conviction that the One who have the gift of sex knows best how it is to be employed, and , so I don't view it that way either. But his most vociferous opponents, irreligious almost to the person, cannot conceive of such a thing. It catches them completely flat-footed. Some of them pursue sex almost as though it is the purpose of life.

He tells them he was a virgin? It is the most definitive answer he could give and ought take the wind completely out of their sails. They would never ever ever admit to such a thing were it true in their case. It would be a matter of deep shame. In fact, wasn't there a shooting recently by someone who hasn't scored with the females, and he and his are passed off as 'of all men, the most be pitied,' to misquote 1 Corinthians 15:19? I think they have even coined a word for that type, as though it is an ethnic group. Yes, here it is: They are ‘incels.’

Kavanaugh is not ashamed of it at all. He is proud of it. That doesn't mean he willingly advertises it, for it is a personal matter. But when backed into a corner, he states it as his perfect defense to charges that he is raping here and raping there. Not likely, he says, since he was a virgin. 'Well.....well....just when did you have sex, anyway?' say his opponents, since this is a hugely important topic for them. But there is a limit to how much he will indulge them, for next they will want video footage. It is enough to say 'well after.

It is too much. There is no better way to defang an enemy than to freely admit to a weakness. This is especially true if you do not regard it as a weakness at all. Not getting the true sense of it, one pundit, sympathetic to he and his cause, complained how disgusting it was that he should have been maneuvered into revealing his then-virginity. He didn't get maneuvered at all. He played his trump card. And, yes, I will indulge his enemies and state that he also played his Trump card.

 

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Did the Watchtower Give Women Bad Advice?

It is ever the pitfall of zealots that they are so eager to prove a point that, in their haste, they will grab something that proves just the opposite, yet continue to gloat as though have found the smoking gun. Such was the case when atheists at Friendly Atheist tore their hair out over “some truly horrific advice to women in abusive relationships,” from the December 2018 Watchtower magazine. They were to stay in them no matter what!

Well, that does sound truly horrific and there were many who immediately condemned the scoundrels who would give such a vile command. Others went to the article first, where they discovered that it says nothing of the sort.

Isn’t this just atheists depriving women of the right to choose? It is ironic because they generally claim to be champions of that right. The article makes clear that a woman always has a choice, that she need not be railroaded into an action just because it is societally popular.

Some leave amidst these very trying circumstances. Some stay. Either action works from the congregation’s point of view. They have the right to choose. How is that the Watchtower ‘urging them to stay with an abusive mate no matter what,’ the accusation of the atheists? If a woman wants to try to salvage a marriage, what business is that of theirs? It may be an unwise decision, or it may be the best decision she ever made, but either way, it is her decision.

Given the staggering cost of family breakup, emotional, mental, financial, and long-lasting damage to the kids, if a woman decides to stick it out more than athiests approve, with a view towards salvage, who is to say she is crazy? Possibly reading this post are veterans of two, three, four, or more failed relationships who wish they had put more effort into a given one. If she pulls it off, she has gained something very good.

These are not short-term hookings-up that we are speaking of, latching on to some loser that you cut loose as soon as you see what he is. These are marriages of years or decades’ duration. In some cases, they never used to be abusive but they have become so due to who knows what factors? Dignify the woman as having the judgement to decide, based upon history, pressures affecting her man, and factors only she might know, as to whether he should be jettisoned or not.  If the lout has to go, he goes. Just don’t let some third party push you into it. The choice is always hers.

It is as though the grumblers cheer at the breakup of a marriage, oblivious to the damage left in its wake. It is as though they would prevent one from trying to repair theirs. Let her try if she wants to, or even put up with one far from ideal, if that be her choice. Sometimes when you are between a rock and a hard place, you don’t assume or let the atheists tell you that the hard place is really a bed of roses. It isn't always that way. I mean, it is not exactly as they will be around to repair the damage, is it?

Okay, granted, they like marriage over there in the Jehovah’s Witness world. Until fairly recently, everybody did, and considered family the bedrock of society. Witnesses consider it a divine institution. That doesn’t mean others have to, but surely it means Witness women should be allowed to. They let their view be bound by biblical injunctions. Adultery is the one acceptable ground for ending a marriage, but even then, it does not have to be; it is always possible for the innocent mate to exercise his or her right of choice and forgiveness.

Several decades ago the Witness organization took note, as did all of society, of the increasingly visible ne’er-do-wells who, while they might not be unfaithful, were nonetheless ugly to live with. It took another look at 1 Corinthians 7, a chapter that deals with marital matters, and sometimes people are surprised at how it says a husband and wife both owe each other sex (no, not ‘on demand’ – don’t even go there) and should not be depriving the other of it. Specifically, they looked at verses 12 and 13: “If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is agreeable to staying with him, let him not leave her; and if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is agreeable to staying with her, let her not leave her husband.” 'Maybe a marriage mate’s conduct says he is ‘not agreeable,’ regardless of what his words say,' they reasoned.

For some time, therefore the guidance for women (or men) in not-so-hot marriages is that there are three conditions that any one of which might justify separation sans tongues clucking: if there is extreme physical abuse, if there is willful non-support, and if there is absolute endangerment of spirituality. It is at once apparent that much in is the eye of the beholder, so from time to time Watchtower publications revisit the subject, so that congregation members are guided by what they signed on for in the first place, and not unduly influenced by what is all the rage elsewhere. If the bad egg must be fried, let him fry. A woman always has that right. But she needn’t feel railroaded into that choice by a flood of outside pressure.

Any Witness woman knows this, because she has read and considered the entire article, not just the cherry-picked paragraph, and she has taken into account how it fits into her overall framework of knowledge. You almost begin to think what causes the steam to emit from atheist ears is another possible benefit of the woman’s forsaking her right to leave: Maybe the ‘unbelieving’ husband will become a believing one. How is that a bad thing?  If the guy makes it as a Jehovah's Witness, he will have made significant inroads against what makes him such a loser in the first place. 

Read the entire article here.

Argument

 

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