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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Dealing With the Anxiety of Our Times

In my “practical wisdom” mode, not my “world is going to hell in a handbasket” mode, I start my door-to-door presentation with an invitation to consider a practical verse like Matthew 6:25.

“Anxiety is a huge concern today. We read about it. We experience it. I want to read you a scripture on that theme, you tell me what you think, and I am out of here. Good idea?”

You can throw in a factoid or two from somewhere, like something here from the New York Times, but I usually pass. You are looking for people with whom the idea resonates, and if it doesn’t, the New York Times will not convince them that it should.

An affirmative answer to my offer will earn the householder the reading of Matthew 6:25.

“On this account I [Jesus] say to you: Stop being anxious about your lives as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not life mean more than food and the body than clothing?”

“That’s all I wanted to do,” I will say, “to get this notion on the table—that anxiety is something that you might hope to just “stop it.” He doesn’t say, don’t start being anxious. He assumes his listeners already are. He says ‘Stop it.’

The next move is the householder’s, and I tell him that he doesn’t have to make one. “If the subject piques interest, if you have views if you.....” and so forth.

If he doesn’t (and even if he does), I will leave a tract—any of them will do—and call attention to the jw.org website and what is to be found there. If they do, then conversation might go a hundred different ways. Even so, I do not press every moment to stay. Rather, I offer every moment to leave. Even some lengthy conversations I have cut them sort, to the householder’s  protest. “Yes, you say it now,” I observe, “but after I go you will say, “Man! I wanted to get some stuff done today, and then this Bible guy showed up!”

Maybe I have grown sensitive to all the concerns of those who cry over “manipulation,” and so I am determined to not even give the appearance of going there. Of course, the extremists among these ones are babies to whom introducing any idea not mainstream is “manipulation,”—they decry all “brainwashing” except for the brainwashing that is theirs—and there is not much one can do about that, but I try not to attract the charge like a magnet.

I can hear Anthony Morris giving the talk now at the 2016 Regional Convention in Atlanta. I wasn’t there—I was at another convention—but the talk was streamed. “‘Stop it!’ Jesus says. Just ‘stop it!’ as though addressing a child—and that was the idea that he went on to develop, that it was a controllable emotion. It was a meaningful talk for me. Anxiety had proven to be a weakness for me —it afflicts some in the family—and when I was hit with a perfect storm of calamities, I did not blame humans like Jimmy does. I did worse and blamed God.

Believe me, I envy those brothers—I have met a lot of them—who say: “I’ve never worried a day in my life!” To be sure, that envy is tempered by the fact that some of these characters caused plenty of others to worry, and even when it was not so, they had other weaknesses to compensate or even more than compensate. We are all “pieces of work” in one way or another.

I also know quite a few who, by choice, live very close to the wire. They have structured their lives that way. It is deliberate. They have determined to “make use of the world, but not use it to the full.” (1 Corinthians 7:31) They have decided to go light as to material things. The ideal among Jehovah’s Witnesses—which some have attained and some have not—is to acquire a skill that pays well, and then do as little of it as possible so as to have as large a share as possible in the kingdom proclamation work. I am not one of those people, either, but I sort of envy them, as the modern manifestation of Paul, who knew “how to be low on provisions and how to have an abundance. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to do without.” - Philippians 4:12

These ones will crinkle a fender on their car and ask God what to do about it, since there’s no money in the budget for the mishap. What is God going to do about it? Time and again persons I know well have reported such things—they take it to God in prayer—and presently the answer presents itself in totally unanticipated ways, sometimes very unlikely ones. They thereafter attribute it to God’s spirit. Am I going to tell them that they are wrong?

Why would I do that? How do I know? It is more likely—when you hear such things again and again—that they are right. I do what Mary did, with regard to different experiences: “Mary began to preserve all these sayings, drawing conclusions in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Maybe they’ll do me some good someday, the same way they did her. Key is the confidence of 1 John 5:14: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that no matter what we ask according to his will, he hears us.” For it to work it must be “according to his will.”

It seems that it will be very hard to dictate to someone else just how holy spirit is supposed to work. Almost by definition, you cannot. It is the wind of John 3:8 that you feel but cannot see. It is the angels that the cosmonauts did not see—and so concluded from that experience that there was no God. No, it operates as it operates and is one of those “taste and see” sort of things.

 

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On Approaching People in the Ministry

Yikes! $50 per minute to speak with a householder?!

So says a gag sign posted on someone’s porch. “Doorknockers, please note. This householder charges $50 per minute to listen to any sales pitch, religious messages, or fundraising stories! Payment required in advance. By knocking on this door, you indicate that you are agreeing to these terms.”

Video has captured a couple of visitors—our people, I think. The one on the sidewalk says: “What’s it say?” and the nearsighted woman squinting to read it responds with: “Let’s skip this one.”

I’m done for if this catches on!......

Actually, as far as I am concerned, this sign represents a win-win. It does not make me mad. It is doing me a favor. If anyone doesn’t want to talk to me, then I don’t want to talk to them.

There is a squirrelly assumption that underpins this meme: that Jehovah’s Witnesses are determined to talk to each householder no matter what,and are incredibly frustrated if stymied. It plays into the infantile view that they are “recruiting,” a view popularly spread by “anti-cultists” who obsess over all the ways that people can “manipulate” others. They abhor all forms of “brainwashing” except for the brainwashing that is theirs, as they safeguard mainstream values—values that have not worked out very well insofar as promoting overall peace and well-being. If the mainstream thinking contained answers to the vexing questions of life, people would’t have to worry for one second about “sects” and even “cults”—they would be rejected out of hand.

So are Jehovah’s Witnesses “recruiting?” 

“I am going to ask you to convert,” I told a certain householder, “but it is not going to happen until the 100th call—and what are the chances It will go on for so long? In the meantime, it is just conversation.” To householders who state they have their own religion or spirituality and who decline conversation on that basis I say, “Well, I’m not going to ask you to change, and if I do, you can say No.” I mean, it is fine to decline conversation—more people do than do not—but just not on that basis. You might say it to an evangelical Christian—the sort that actually dofeature instant conversion of the “Come down and be saved!” variety. You might say it to a Moonie, because their people are known to disappear off the surface of the globe, only to reappear in robes selling flowers. But you ought not say it to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose members live and work in the general community.

No, the sign does me a favor. I have no problem with it. It might be different if they proliferated so that they became a commonplace gag sign, just a fad witticism inspired by late-night TV that didn’t necessarily mean anything. In that case, I might just walk away or I might playfully attempt to negotiate terms before deciding if I wanted to enter into such a “contract.” “Well, a guy has to serve the Lord,” I will say non-aggresively to some while trying to size them up. You’ve got to have a sense of humor.

Like a No Soliciting sign, there are no legal consequences to blowing past it, [in the U.S.—it may be different elsewhere] and like a No Soliciting sign, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It might be put up by a previous owner, and the current one sees no reason to remove it. It might be put up by a family member that died. It might have been put up after those pushy people selling vacuum cleaners left. It might be put up in the heat of election campaign season. It might be put up to dissuade Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I do not assume that is the case.

”I saw your sign and was a little concerned that you might think it applies to me,” I sometimes say when one of them is staring me in the face. “It doesn’t—but you might think it does.” You can assess by the response if the householder had that intention or not, and if he did, I have no problem moving on from what would cause both of us stress. Don’t argue, “We’re not soliciting,” because it really doesn’t matter whether you are or not. What matters is what the householder thinks you are doing. Of course, you can tell him that what he thinks is wrong, but that is never a fine foundation for a visit, is it?

I have said at times, when my attention is directed to such a sign, “Oh. Well....I’ll make sure not to do that, then,” either by soliciting money (which Witnesses never do) or soliciting opinions—drawing people out—which we do. Simply tell them stuff, don’t ask them a thing—that is enough to technically comply with such a sign. But the trick is not to argue over technicalities. The trick is to see if such and such a vague sign actually means anything to the householder and respect his wishes if it does. 

No, a No Soliciting sign means nothing legally, same as this new $50 per hour JW sign that some are giggling over means nothing. The only sign with legal consequences (in the US) is a No Trespassing sign, and even that only has legal consequences for individual dwellings—you can’t wall off an entire community with a No Trespassing sign. To be sure, some are trying to change that, but the idea of answering for large swaths of other people is repugnant to most and so the change may not readily happen.

Let’s face, this sign is kind of crude, and not too many people are going to put one up. It is sort of like that sign in which you find yourself as though staring down the barrel of a gun that says, “Never mind the dog! Beware of the owner!” I don’t just jauntily breeze by that sign as though is was a Welcome mat. I tread a bit cautiously. If my companion was to turn around and leave, I wouldn’t blame him a bit. Still, you never know. I was leaving one such home—no one had answered—and as I was walking away, a pickup truck drove in with a gun rack in the back window. “Great!” I muttered to myself—“probably a real hothead here!” He turned out to be the nicest guy in the world—very respectful of our purpose and of the Bible. There was a lot of crime in the neighborhood and he had just “weaponed-up” for the protection of his family.

These signs are not a red light—No Soliciting, Beware of Whatever—but they certainly are a yellow light. They are not a yellow light legally, but they are a yellow light in that they might reveal something of thehouseholders wishes, and I have no problem always complying with their wishes once I know what they are.

As it is, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a method to keep note of those who have emphatically said that the don’t want JW calls ever. It is an imperfect system and I usually forget to consult it, but it works better than nothing. Ironically, it may all vanish one day if the current “data-keeping” laws gathering steam in Europe, spearheaded by the same people who see “manipulation” everywhere, spreads to the US. It will be illegal to keep track of who doesn’t want a call. As it is, one US brother I know reported on a trip to Europe and how the brothers there were wrestling with these new anti data-gathering laws that had never been intended (at least, by most) for them, but were being applied to them, with: “Good! They’ve just made your job easier! Preach to one and all and don’t worry about any “records”—keeping track of them is a pain in the neck!”

What about a child answering the door? For me, that depends upon the age of the child. For a teen, sometimes I will go Bible-lite, such as commenting on what the words of the Lord’s Prayer literally mean, and I do not press any point. Or show a video geared to teens—I have never had a teen not pay rapt attention to the video, “Be Social-Network Smart.” With teens, I have sometimes told them that I really don’t know what to do with teens, because they are learning and gathering data, but they are also under their parent’s roof, with the latter guiding that process, and so they may or may not want them speaking to persons of different beliefs at the door, and ‘which is it with them’? 

Even that doesn’t guarantee anything. One parent that I finally encountered said, “I don’t appreciate you speaking to my children,”—I had done so twice and had shown a couple of videos. I responded that I had never been looking for the kids—I had been looking for her—and that when the teens had answered I had asked them whether their parents would want them speaking to a visitor about religion and they had said she would not care. “Kids will say anything!” she told me. So I explained that I would not call again (she said ‘thank you’), repeated that I had never been looking for them in the first place, and even was able to give a brief synopsis for why we call at all—she became pleasant.

Another teen—I had just finished something brief and similar—he had been home alone. As I left, the mother drove up in the driveway. I told her who I was, that I had spent a few minutes speaking with her son, I had asked him a question and he had answered intelligently. “You should be proud of him,” I said as I took my leave.

Cultures are different. I once handed a tract to a child with directions to give it to her parents, and upon leaving, my companion said that she would have witnessed to the child. My companion was newly arrived from South America where it is commonplace for parents to allow and even encourage children to talk religion to anyone calling about it. There are congregations there heavily populated by children with the full blessing of parents who do not attend themselves—respect for God runs deep in some lands and the assumption is that you cannot go wrong allowing your children to learn about the Bible.

Though the following has nothing to do with the Bible, it has everything to do with that fact that cultures are different, and so when the Witness organization speaks in a way that is not really my cup of tea, I say, “It is probably one of those others cultures that they are taking into consideration.”

There is a large community of deaf persons in Rochester NY. Accordingly, there are a number of Witnesses who make their living as translators. One of them told me of a certain deaf family of two adults and two children—all deaf—who are known not only locally but also nationally, and the following story is told nationally as a way of highlighting the challenges of catering to different cultures: 

A neighboring “hearing” girl would come over to play at the home of the deaf family. The two children were surprised that she didn’t seem able to sign very well at all, but they all managed to sign well enough to each other to get by. Then the two children went to the little girl’s home to play, where they saw the mother not signing at all! Her mouth kept moving, and the little girl seemed satisfied with that, but there was no signing. Upon returning home, they related their bewilderment to their parents and asked, “Are there other people like that?”

 

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Is it Climate Change or a Massive Scam? Either Way, it Suggests a Presentation.

“Hundreds of thousands of kids marching the streets. Terrorized due to climate change OR terrorized at a massive scam. It is nuts either way. It is child abuse from the older generation either way.”

It is a presentation that I have been playing around with lately. Make the observation, and the scripture you offer to read is Revelation 11:18:

But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time came for the dead to be judged and to reward your slaves the prophets and the holy ones and those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”

It is a tricky verse to read. All you are really looking at is the phrase at the end, that God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” Just paraphrase the lead-in: “It’s of future times. It’s what God plans to do. Some of it takes a bit of explaining, but not that last phrase.

The beauty of the presentation is that you do not have to take a stand on whether is there is global warming or not. People will argue to the end of time about which truth is really truth. That is what people are good at—arguing. You don’t have to go there.

Anytime I read a verse, I explain afterwards in a sentence or two why I read it. It’s rather easy to point to the householders fine home (assuming that it is) and say: “What would you do if you had tenants ruining it? Would you bulldoze the home? Or would you toss the people?”

Ex-Witnesses who really really oppose the preaching work will—I’ve never heard anyone else take this position—assert that what Jehovah’s Witnesses should do is stop just quoting Revelation 11:18 and roll up their sleeves so as to do something now to fix things. Don’t let them get away with it. What are they smoking? Do they think that JWs would weigh in as a united block, tipping the balance in their favor? They would fracture into the two opposing poles, the same as everyone else—climate change advocates versus scam perpetrators—and they would just cancel each other out. Tell the grumbler that since he thinks he is so smart and his ex-brothers are so stupid, that they would probably weigh in mostly on the side opposite his and he would just be shooting himself in the foot. He doesn’t want them to fix anything. He just wants them shedding their unity, joining the fray, and forgetting the ministry.

The climate-change fight illustrates one of the reasons that most who become Witnesses do so in the first place. This world faces any number of paralyzing concerns, and in the face of them it is just that—paralyzed. It is the inevitable upshot of humans trying to rule themselves. Each one has a different idea. No one will yield to another. The children pay the heaviest price of man’s inability to govern. Witnesses have little trouble buying into the premise that God alone, earth and humankind’s Creator, has the wisdom to know just how things ought to be governed.

Someone likened reading the Drudge Report to reading the Book of Revelation. Every new outrageous thing is an endorsement of Ecclesiastes 8:9–“man has dominated man to his injury.” Every new outrageous thing is an endorsement of Jeremiah 10:23–“To earthling man his way does not belong; it doesn’t not belong to man who is walking even to direct his own step). Every new outrageous thing rings out as though a prophesy. Each item is an indictment of what unchecked human wisdom produces.

Will the voice of the children be the ones to decide the future? Or do they simply become the pawns of cynical adults pursuing their own causes? What truly would be the “power of the children” would be if they boycotted school and did not return until there was a resolution—either that climate change was real, necessitating such-an-such policies, or that it was a scam with the goal of promoting political policies, necessitating discarding those policies. Otherwise, it is just a day off school, which many kids will choose for exactly that reason.

A boycott of school would have had even more relevance after the Florida high school shootings in which 17 died and another 17 were injured. There were students saying at the time that they would boycott school. That course does not seem unreasonable to me if adults cannot take action to guarantee that school will not become a shooting gallery with themselves as targets. Instead, “responsible” adults funneled their outrage, fear, and energy into some silly one-day gathering in Washington that provided headlines but was otherwise forgotten the next day.

What if they had boycotted school and not come back until their safety could be assured—is it too much to ask that children should feel safe in school? Two possible courses of action presented themselves at the time. Eliminate guns, at least the rapid fire ones, or arm teachers and/or sentries—there are veterans who would count it a privilege to guard the next generation. That kind of boycott might solve the problem.

Except we all know that it wouldn’t. Even in the most life or death scenario, even in the scenario where backs are to the wall, it will make no difference. Opposing factions will not agree. They never do. Again, it is a large part of why people become Jehovah’s Witnesses in the first place: humans don’t have the wisdom to govern themselves. God does. He created us and the planet. How could he not?

Having razor sharp minds trained at the university or anywhere else is only part of the equation, and it is not the most significant part. If agreement cannot be reached, the razor-sharpness goes to naught. It even becomes a liability, since, in frustration at not being able to persuade the other side, its proponents resort to extreme tactics. Education that does not include the ability to agree is ineffectual education that barely merits the term. It is rather like a team with a formidable offense but absolutely no defense—what good is it? It is another reason that people become Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their formal education may not be as high, but as they take their cue from godly thinking and not that of humans, they can run circles around their “smarter” counterparts because they are able to agree. They are able to cooperate, they know how to yield, and they can coordinate action.

 

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When Someone Says: “I Have My Own Religion.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they engage in their ministry, sometimes make uncomfortable people who don’t really care about spiritual things but somewhere in the back of their head is a nagging thought that they should.

And we make uncomfortable those who assume that we are there to change their religion—the religion has not put them on equal footing to discuss intelligently the Bible—they know almost nothing about it. This is a circumstance very strange, when you think about it, since most of them simply assume that the Book provides their faith’s underpinning. What a shocker for some when they discover that it is not so.

With some, judging from their quick response, this discomfort is nearly to the point of panic—just like an ordinary joe might panic at the thought of an encounter with the time-share salesperson. “I have my own religion, and I am very happy with it,” they hastily say.

”Well, I’m not going to ask you to change it, and if I do you can say ‘no’” is my reply. “It’s just conversation.” 

I mean, they may not want to converse—more don’t than do— and if they don’t, that is fine, but I hate it to be for that reason.

One conversation with a college student was interesting enough that I proposed coming back. “To what end?” he said. Nobody had ever replied to me that way before. So I told him my ideal scenario—that over the course of 100 weeks, I would call back 100 times for 100 conversations—during which he would learn the Bible from front to back, and I would learn some things, too—and on visit #100 I would ask him if he wanted to become a Jehovah’s Witness like me and then he could say “no.” Once again, it’s just conversation.

I even asked him to play along on a practice session. I would ask him to become a Jehovah’s Witness, and he was to say “no.” He agreed to this.

”Would you like to become a Jehovah’s Witness like me?” I said. “No,” he replied. “See?” I said. “It’s easy. In the meantime you will learn the Bible and then you can better decide what you think about it”

This is called the Dickens approach and it is suggested by the ending of “Tale of Two Cities.” In that ending Sidney Carton visits Charles Darney, a prisoner in the Bastille being held for execution, during time of the French Revolution. He has repented of his profligate life and has determined to smuggle this better man out. Of course, he can only do this if he takes his place and tricks the guards—it has already been noted in the novel that he remarkably resembles the man in physical appearance. One by one he suggests to Darnay exchanging articles of clothing. Each time Darnay protests—he has no idea what Carton is up to. “What do you think you’re doing?” he objects. “Do you think you can break me out? It’s not possible to escape from here.”

Each time Carton answers: “Did I say anything about escape? Wait until I mention escape and then say “no.” In this way he persuades the man to swap clothes, as though to humor him, though he knows not why.

A strict application of the Dickens method in field service necessitates saying: “Did I say anything about you changing your religion? Wait until I ask you to do that and then say “no.” I have done this, but it’s a little easier to phrase it as I did initially: “Well, I’m not going to ask you to change your religion, and if I do you can say ‘no.’” It comes across as less of a rebuke.

It is important that your householder has not actually read “Tale of Two Cities,” for if he has, he may recall that after the clothing exchange is completed, Carton chloroform’s Darnay, calls the guard to report that his visiting friend has fainted, overcome by emotion, and requests that he be carried out to the waiting carriage. If the householder points out that development, tell him that you do not intend to copy that part of the ending—strictly speaking, that would require you to take his place and become a Catholic, Muslim, or Hindu, and to assume his car and house payment, which may be substantial—not to mention live with his family, who may not be model. Besides, your own wife will throw a fit.

It is a favorite book of mine. Ruse completed, Carton later takes his place in the guillotine lineup. He is giving his life in behalf of his friend, and several times Jesus’ words are quoted as inspiration: “No man has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his life in behalf of his friends.” (John 15:13) Just before him in line is a scared 12-year old girl. She is willing to die for her country if it has been decreed that she must, but she cannot understand just how she could actually have become such a threat to it. Her eyes widen as she discovers that her companion is not actually Darnay, but is someone giving his life for that man. Carton offers to hold her hand, and thereby she finds the courage to face the terrible blade.

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The New European Data Law as it Applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses - My Take

Yikes! No “data-gathering” according to the new privacy law. What to do?

As far as I am concerned, this is a blessing in disguise. Jehovah’s people will adapt. They always do. 

I even think it will be beneficial for us, overall. We have some people who become obsessed over records, the way some people do with regard to records of any sort. We have some who call back repeatedly if the householder does so much as give them the time of day—training them not to, in my opinion. Working with this new European law will force more discernment and maturity, though initially inconvenient in some respects. I wouldn’t mind if it spread to here in the States.

This law will alter the logistics of the Matthew 28:19-20 aspect of Christianity— “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, (Mathew 28:19) but it will not impact the Matthew 24:14 aspect at all: “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.” (Matthew 24:14) It will probably even enhance it. 

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Most of the suggested field service presentations I don’t like. I don’t like them because they do not work for me. Of course, it is “different strokes for different folks,” but from what I have seen, they don’t work that well for others, either. They are incremental in approach, and many, when implemented by anyone less than an expert, come off as passive-aggressive. Sometimes I wonder where they come from, because they do not necessarily dovetail with each other. Probably they are the products of various full-time evangelizers who are brainstorming. Since many start with floating a question that will seldom be on the typical person’s mind, such as “Where are the dead?” you pretty much have to record the response and hope that you have laid the foundation for furthering it or starting another topic. All that requires you write stuff down, which is now illegal unless the person has authorized it.

Better—or at least it works better for me—to bring up something more all-encompassing. The circuit overseer last visit made much of the 1-minute (and six seconds) video “Would You Like Good News?” Invite people to hear it—it only is one minute (and it is good to say literally one minute) The video ends with a plug for the Good News from God brochure and that brochure has a table of contents:

“Which topic interests you most?” It says. They include

Who Is God?,

Who Is Jesus Christ?,

What Is God’s Purpose for the Earth?,

What Hope Is There for the Dead?,

What Is God’s Kingdom?,

Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?,

How Can Your Family Be Happy?, and

How Can You Draw Close to God?

The video is here:

If the person registers any interest, you can set up something then and there. If not, off you go with a sincere thanks for their time—after all, we call without appointment, which is becoming a rarety in the West, nobody is required to listen to what we have to say, so whenever someone does, I thank them for their time.

Some all-encompassing verses that also work for starters—just offer to read a verse, give a brief statement as to why you read it, ask what the person thinks about it, and then offer to disappear. Such as:

Jeremiah 29:11 - “For I myself well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” (The reason I like the verse is because some people think God is out to rake us over, or judging from the current state of things, that there is no God, and this verse says not only that there is, but he thinks good thoughts towards us.)

Or Matthew 5:3 - “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (The reason I like the verse is because we all have a spiritual need, but we are not necessarily conscious of it—it is more like vitamins, that if neglected, may lead to sickness and we never know quite why.)

There are no end of verses that can be used. It just takes adjusting to the idea. All work except for the verse Tom Pearlsandswine latched onto in my first book, ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’: Revelation 21:8: “But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” “The reason I like that verse,” he would say, “is that it shows sinners are going down and you’d better shape up.” He is such an idiot. 

With a flat response to any chosen verse other than his, off you go. With a favorable one, you can even go to a longer video, with the intro that I find works well, “This video runs almost four minutes, but you don’t have to listen to it all. The minute it gets boring, hand it back.” It puts the control in the householder’s hands and defuses any impression of being pushy. I hate being pushy and try hard not to give that impression. There are few people in the world easier to get rid of than me.

None of these presentations require the use of memory-jogging records. If the response if favorable, there is no difficulty in exchanging contact information if desired.

As for keeping track of who is not-at-home—JWs do this—I even know one person who writes down every address beforehand and crosses them out as she finds them home, completely reversing how it is intended to be done—one might respond by forgetting all about it. Put the angels in charge of that one. Call when the majority of persons are likely to be home in the first place, which we do not always do.

As for keeping records of those who have requested we not call on them again—well, I don’t know. Tell them we’d love to comply but the new law is screwing us up.

Not to mention that we have long been moving in that direction anyway. That’s what the mobile cart witnessing is all about. That’s what the website is all about. They are two forms of advertising the good news without going to anyone’s door at all. On the home page of jw.org is a new Bible study feature. A series of studies that are multimedia, self-guided at one’s own pace, and require no registration or entry of info—“I’ll never know if you do it or not,” I tell people. In fact, I am looking forward to the time—the timing and circumstances will have to be just right, you wouldn’t do it just with anyone—when I tell someone, “I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself.” We spoon-feed people too much, and it is hardly necessary with the majority. I even think being constantly obsessed over presentation of the very basics keeps us from pressing on to maturity, in some respects.

They have done us a favor with their new law, is my take.

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Photo: DSC00212 by gauge opinion

 

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No Direct Mention of the 144,000

The new online Bible study lessons on JW.org does not directly mention the 144,000. Instead, it says of God’s kingdom with Christ as King: "God also selects others to be associate rulers with Jesus" and adds that "anyone who obeys its laws can be a citizen."

Good. The 144,000 is a yawner. Nobody cares. I never go there.

To clarify a little, some care, but it is analogous to the wonks on media absolutely obsessed over the doings of government and all its machinations, imagining that they reflect the interest of the ordinary people whose greatest hope towards government is that it will pave the roads, jail the bad guys, keep a few of its promises, and otherwise stay out of their hair.

A handful throughout history go on to rule with Christ in heaven. Good. It means the heavenly government has more of a feel for humanity than it would otherwise, first indicated by the fact that the King himself did time as a human.

That's all anyone really cares about, as they envision how God's Kingdom will bring relief from the incessant woes and travesties they suffer on earth. I barely go further with the 144,000 unless someone insists on it.

It is even now as one might explain ‘the Lord’s prayer’: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ‘Sure, God’s will is done in heaven,’ one might point out. ‘I mean, I assume he’s got everything running smoothly up there. But it is ‘on earth’ where we hope to see God’s will be done, as it will be when his Kingdom comes.’

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Pay Them All a Denarius

If we accept the usual take that Matthew 20:1-15, about paying all workers a denarius, is about time spent in the Christian congregation and those arriving to it late have the same reward as those early, with its object lesson: 'don't gripe about it,' then how serious are we to take the questions within the parable? Do they mean anything or do they just flesh out the story?
 
I'll opt for the former.
 
The master's question smacks of a reproof: "Why have you been standing here all day unemployed?" Yet he accepts the laggards' answer: "Because nobody has hired us" and sends them also into the vineyard.
 
Why shouldn't that be applied to the preaching work? At first glance, the master is taken aback that there yet are, at such a late date, so many just hanging around unemployed. But their answer is unassailable - nobody 'hired' them.
 
It's not an exhortation to be active in the ministry and not to write off people as unresponsive? The master apparently agrees that it is just a matter of their not yet being reached.
 
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I think the exchange of the master with the 11th hour ones serve as an exhortation to preach, and even to step it up where possible. 'Get out there so those ones know they are hired. They won't know it otherwise.'
 

There is another application of Matthew 20:1-15 - 'pay them each a denarious' - that has nothing to do with time spent in the Christain way, which I like as much, or even better.

It is: In any circumstance of life, you cut the best deal that you can and then you look ahead to the next deal You DO NOT look around, envious, at someone who may have gotten a better deal. Think of how much heartburn THAT would solve if we managed to internalize it.

Neither do you gripe, like the initial vineyard workers, that the 'master' was unfair. Life will be fair in the new system. It is not typically so today.

Maybe it is there in print somewhere. I haven't come across it. No matter. It is enough to stay within 'the pattern of healthful words' It is not necessary to but repeat the healthful words oneself.

 
photo: Master Alsace Magic ElsaB Photography
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No Scrapping on My Watch

I don't do the following often, for it is a little mean. I wouldn't do it just on account of a differing point of view. I reserve it for someone obnoxious and condescending from the fundamentalist religious world, someone trying to denigrate the work Witnesses do, someone saying dismissively: "No thanks. I'm Christian." As though they own the word.
 
I reply that only a Christian would do the work I am doing, adding "frankly, I'm a little surprised you're not doing it yourself." Always it vanquishes the smug smile.
 
However, one does not stop there, upon seeing that the blow has landed. Immediately you move on to soften it somehow, perhaps by returning to whatever you were discussing in the first place.
 
I am not thrilled speaking with these ones. If they try to start a fight - and it is always over the Trinity - I deflect. Hopefully I share my verse and leave it at that.
 
When I offered a verse to one of these fellows, he immediately wanted to know my religion. Anyone else I would tell immediately, but to him I acted as though - well, it's rather a personal question, don't you think? I mean, this is the Bible. What is more Christian than to talk about it?
 
Too many of these folks have their scholarship defined by their beliefs, and not the other way around. Too many have had a religious awakening of some sort. How do you tell them that their experience is not theirs? I don't try. If they find what they learned by revelation confirmed in Scripture, they are happy, but they are not unduly put out when they find it is not.
 
Reliably, being saved by faith and not by works will come up. 'Of course,' I reply. 'Everyone knows that. But the works don't hurt, to they? They certainly give us some street cred.'
 
What about "there has been a child born to us...his name will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, prince of peace," he challenges. What about it? I reply. Does he think I should have a problem with it? Why should I?
 
He will have to get a little more specific than that if he wants to get into a shoving match. No scrapping on my watch. Wrestler
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We've Lined Up Vertically All of Tom Harley's Field Service Reports

“We’ve lined up vertically all of Tom Harley’s field service reports. Let’s see how fast you can read them off!”

Donna: “Twelve hours, four magazines, eight return visits, three videos.”

Connor: “Ten hours, six magazines, seven return visits, two videos.”

Blitzen: Fifteen hours, nine magazines, nine return visits, six videos.”

Prancer: “Fourteen hours, pix fagazines, seven veturn risits …..wow, that’s a lot of hours! What an amazing publisher Tom Harley is!”
…….
A little ditty inspired by watching the latest Chevy commercial.

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