Bend it Like the Boreans

Regarding the first century spread of Christianity, here's a scripture from Acts [Acts is the "authorized" history of the new Christian faith]: 

"Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."    17:11

We look for the same today. You want people that are "noble-minded," not like they were in Thessalonica, where the disciples were run out of town. Noble-minded.....people who are open, who are searching, who don't assume they already know everything. Noble-minded, yes, but note....not gullible, for they "carefully examin[ed] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." They never had to take a "leap of faith" They carefully examined evidence already in existence.

In some places, that still is all that is "carefully examin[e] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." But in our part of the world, it's not always enough, since learned society invests much time in trashing authority of "the scriptures." So you have to reestablish that authority before you get some folk to benefit from examining scriptures. Often you have to reestablish that authority before you even get them to agree to make the examination.

This is not an insurmountable task, but it is an extra step. Several publications of Jehovah's Witnesses are devoted entirely to this purpose....considering the Bible via several lines of evidence to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is what it claims to be....God's message for our benefit.

Can't you just uncover such evidence within the university setting, since that's where people are smart? Oddly, no, for the upper echelons of human society are especially intent on denigrating matters pertaining to faith. Their motive? Essentially, they don't like conclusionsthe Bible points to and/or the personal responsibility it implies, and so they seek with all their might to undermine it. Since we operate within society, such dominant attitudes can rub fact, they certainly will unless we do something to counteract the flood of Bible-trashing propaganda.

The Bible's promise of living forever on a transformed paradise earth attracts persons of humble backgrounds. But in western lands, educated folk smile knowingly and dismiss the idea as a fairy tale. They are too clever to believe in fairy tales. Thus, this friendly fellow I trade letters with, let's call him Dan, declared he would not check into such a notion because a) he would not know how to check, and b) he feared it would be a waste of his time since c.) it struck him as a big fantasy.

Well, of course it would! Trust me, I would look askance were he, with his background, to say "This is great! Where do I sign up?!" No, it strikes him as a fantasy, as should be expected. However it will also strike him, hopefully, as an appealing fantasy.

Now, if checking into it called for some outlandish allotment of time, you would reasonably expect a person to pass. Ditto if it were expensive. Why waste time and money on a likely "fantasy?" Would that not be naive? But if checking was fast and cheap, then what's the hang-up? If it truly is fantasy, the one sharing it is the naive one, not the recipient, since the sharer does so free of charge.

Jehovah's Witnesses' signature offer is a program of home Bible study. It's free. It's an hour or so per week. And since folks here have usually not heard of the "live forever on earth" promise....well, that's why we visit people, even though some (many?) wish we would not. It’s a model as old as time: if you have something worthwhile, you must tell people about it. They rarely come to you. At any rate, the home Bible study is a viable way to check into it. It may be the only way. It certainly is the most direct.

Strangely, if the program was offered at the university, and if people had to pay a fortune for it, and devote much time, and if they could earn a degree in it, it would be enormously popular. But, as it is, who offers this program? Clods, bumpkins, Jehovah's Witnesses! What could they possibly know?

So people take odd consolation in modern day "prophets" such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-February 28, 2007), who writes: "..........because all important problems are insoluble: that is why they are important. The good comes from the continuing struggle to try and solve them, not from the vain hope of their solution."

If someone as smart as he says problems are insoluble, well, then they must be. And if another claims to have found a solution.....what, they're smarter than Mr. Schlesinger, are they? What degrees from what universities do they hold? All the more so if they come from some unsophisticated camp like Jehovah's Witnesses!

But one must be discerning and consider the nature of Christianity, which was historically a movement of the common folk....carpenters, fishermen, not the upper classes. For example:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are... 1 Cor: 26-28

And when the apostles were summoned before the Sanhedrin (religious leaders of the day): "Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus."                     Acts 4:13

In other words, the common folk had the answers back then, not the sophisticated ones.

In time, the upper classes hijacked Christianity. They found a way to make a buck off it. They found a way to surround it with social prestige and influence. But they so changed Christianity in doing so that it became unrecognizable, worlds apart from what Jesus taught, fully capable of acting contrary to his teachings. That is why Sam Harriscan latch onto religious conduct as raw material for his doctrine.




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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

Philosophers and Theologians Strike Out

Evil and suffering are embarrassing intellectual problems that philosophers and theologians have wrestled with forever. Why, having spent all that time, do they come up empty-handed?

This statement of Jesus is key:

“I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes."                 Matt 11:25

That's quite a trick. Just how does the “Father, Lord of heaven and earth” do it? Do we ever see that feat elsewhere, perhaps in the university settings where those philosophers and theologians hang out? Does it ever happen there that the babes understand, yet the wise and intellectual ones come up short?

No, it does not. So how can it be true in this context?

The quick answer is that we are emotional beings as well as intellectual ones. And certain qualities will absolutely short circuit one's spiritual quest. Pride will do it. As will narcissism. "Smarts" can be found in abundance in the university setting. But humility is more rare. As is the willingness to put other's interests ahead of one's own.

As long as this is the case (and I can't picture it ever changing) those philosophers and theologians will strike out every time. The answers are there. Their minds can readily grasp it, more readily than those less mentally endowed. But their dominant dispositions will never permit it.

For example, regarding the Christian message, the apostle Paul said:

For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing....For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.....we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness...    1 Cor 1:18-23

And, make no mistake, Christianity in the first century did not appeal to philosophers and theologians, any more than it does today:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are...       vs 26-28

Note that Paul did not say "any." He said "many" There were some Christians "wise, powerful, of noble birth," but not "many." Pride, selfishness, and concern about one's social status would thwart them almost always, completely negating any intellectual advantage.

Paul endeavored to spread Christianity in Athens, where he encountered philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic variety. They can hardly be described as brimming with humility. “What is it this chatterer would like to tell?” they asked each other? The word "chatterer" literally means "seed-picker" and it has reference to a bird who picks up a seed here and poops it out there, and picks one up there and poops it out some other place.       Acts 17:18

No, he was not treated with much respect. Today Jehovah's Witnesses find a similar situation. They present their Christian message to everyone. Yet only humble people respond. People bursting with pride never do.

It's not hard to see why. The Bible's message is that humans do not have the answers to the world's problems, and are not capable of self-rule. Furthermore, God's Kingdom is the answer and the best way we can spend our time is to announce that Kingdom, while remaining neutral with regard to this world's affairs and politics. Just try selling that to a prideful person! They live for figuring new solutions, devising new politics and......God forbid they should spend their time speaking religion to strangers, or even be associated with those that do!

Within the humble context of Bible study, the mystery regarding suffering and evil is answered readily.   




Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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

Forty Years Down the Toilet!

Forty Years Down the Toilet: My Wasted Life with Jehovah’s Witnesses!

This title in the library’s new books section caught my eye. I snapped it right up and headed home because I love a good read. But only when I flopped into my armchair did I notice who the author was.

It was Tom Barfendogs, formerly a colleague and fellow member of the prestigious Carriertom Into-wishen Research Institute!

Yes, Tom Barfendogs, who once worked shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom Sheepandgoats, Tom Wheatandweeds, his brother Tom Weedsandwheat, Tom Fishandchips, and Tom Pearlsenswine.

Ah, his defection is a sad story. For I readily concede that he was a smart guy. But he was also kinda full of himself. We remember he started to develop some opinions he was fond of - who doesn’t? - but then, by degrees, those opinions became, not opinions, but Revealed Truth. It got so you couldn’t pass him in the Institute hallways without hearing him go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about his special close relationship with God. Naturally, he felt others should see him in the same light, and he got miffed when that didn’t happen. In time, he began to conduct his own classes: Barfendogs’ Bible Briefings, I think they were called.

Of course, this didn’t sit too well with the JW organization, which is modeled after the first century Christian congregation. There is a definite structure. It is not a free stage for independent cowboys, yahoos and hotshots.

Next thing you know, he’s quit the congregation and later resurfaces with his own website: www.BarfendogsBullhornofTruth.con, which, were you to visit it, does nothing but run down his former JW pals. I mean, he must have some other interests - all of us do - but you’d never know it from the site.

The sourpuss website syndrome is a well-documented phenomenon  affecting 5%, give or take, of those who leave Jehovah’s Witnesses. The remaining 95% is comprised of those who return, and of those who move on in life to other things.

It didn’t help that, years after he left, the JW organization actually came around to his way of thinking on a couple points! You might think that Barfendog would have returned at this point. But he had his website and book by then, and all he would tell anyone is how he Forged Ahead due to His Special Relationship with God. He didn’t need any organization. The organization needed him! Now they could kiss his you-know-what!

And he used to be such a nice guy.

Besides, why does anyone need an organization? “Me n Jesus” is enough. And what about Christian love? Didn’t Jesus stand for love? Doesn’t, love mean “nobody’s telling me what to do!”?


It’s clear that there was a human organization in the first century. Acts chapter 15 reveals the inner workings of a governing body, which was necessary to organize preaching activity and to adapt scripture to a changing world, much as the Supreme Court serves to adapt the Constitution to changing times.

Acts 16:4,5 reports on an aftermath of that meeting of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem:

Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe. So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.           New American Standard Bible

Note that the apostles and elders had authority. It wasn’t good ol boy coaching that they offered, so that you could tell them to go fly a kite. They delivered decrees. It wasn’t “me n Jesus” back then, even in those first years immediately following His resurrection!

Note, too, that God blessed the arrangement, even though the apostles and elders were men, imperfect men, fully capable of all the dopey moves common to humans:  Thus the churches were strengthened in the faith and daily their numbers increased.  Acts 16:5


Whoever assumes leadership, and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God.    2 John 9    Berkeley Version




Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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

Pop Goes to the Doctor...Sort of

Pop is 85 years old. He’s in perfect health.

He attributes that perfect health to the fact that he never goes to a doctor. Not since World War II. When we got him to agree to occasional physicals, it was a major victory. But he only did it so as to be on someone’s radar screen, in case he ever needs an insurance gatekeeper.

During those physicals, the doctor suggests this or that pill. Pop ignores it all.

Doctor: Actually, we don’t have any blood work on you.

Pop: That’s right, you don’t. Pills


The Bible writer Luke was a doctor, whatever that meant back then.

“Luke the beloved physician sends you his greetings, and so does Demas.” - Col 4:11)

He writes, not unkindly, towards his own profession:      “And a woman, subject to a flow of blood for twelve years, who had not been able to get a cure from anyone, approached from behind and touched the fringe of his [Jesus’] outer garment, and instantly her flow of blood stopped.” - Luke 8:43-44

Yes, doctors had done their level best, but it hadn’t been enough. She hadn’t been able to get a cure from anyone.

But look what happens when the gospel writer Mark, not a doctor, relates the same event:

“Now there was a woman subject to a flow of blood twelve years, and she had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse. [!]

a) put to many pains

b) spent all her resources

c) had not benefited; had gotten worse.

Mark and Pop would have gotten along well together.




Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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

The Helix and the Cross

I traded e-mails with someone who extols the scientific method. He favors evolution. I favor creation.

We both liked the result. Did I mind if he posted the exchange on his website? No, I did not; it’s two different views expressed clearly and with mutual respect. I positively like this fellow, and may post the exchange myself, someday when I am too lazy to think up anything new.

Take a look at his site, he said. Did I approve? Well….yes….but…

For the sake of art, he used a symbol to represent himself and one to represent me. He, the man of science, grabbed the double helix. But I got stuck with the cross!

Jehovah’s Witnesses are perhaps unique among faiths (even including non-Christian) in disputing that Jesus died on a cross.

When you read “cross” in the New Testament, it is translated from one of two Greek words: stauros or xylon. Find the meanings of those two words, and you have the meaning of “cross.”

Neither refers to an upright beam with crosspiece. Stauros later came to mean beam with a crosspiece, but in the apostles day, it meant an upright stake, or piling. Xylon means timber, beam, post, stake, even tree, what have you, but not cross. The King James Bible translates xylon as follows:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.   Acts 5:30

Also, Jesus death is a fullfillment of prophesy, as is seen at Gal 3:13: (New Testament)

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

And where is it written? Deuteronomy 21:22,23: (Old testament, 1500+ years prior to Galations, long before there was any Roman empire)

And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

So, if you wanted to make the case that Jesus died on a cross, you wouldn't be able to do it from scripture.

If you rank all of our beliefs on a scale, this one won’t rank too high. It is a detail. There’s no sense in not getting it right, but it’s not an essential element of faith. Either way, Christ’s death accomplished what it accomplished.

But it is a little odd, isn’t it, this cross fetish?  Suppose, for instance, that Jesus was run over by a truck. Would devotees wear tiny Mack truck amulets around their necks?

So, will the science person change my symbol? I hope not. And I doubt it. What would he change it to? An upright  post would look ridiculous. Even more so my profile picture. And the tetragrammaton would be presumptuous. That, I don’t think, I would like at all.

The shape of the [two-beamed cross] had it origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A. D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical systems pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ. - An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962), W. E. Vine, p. 256.




Tom Irregardless and Me                 No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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

The First and the Last Adam

Adam was the biggest letdown, and his rebellion doomed all of us to imperfection and death. Jesus was as good as Adam was bad, and then some. How is it, then,  that he can be called the last Adam?

And so it is written; the first Adam was made a living soul; The last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  1 Cor 15:45   

If you have been conditioned to believe in the Trinity, you will never understand that scripture. Jesus, say the Trinitarians, is equal to God. He is God, only in a different form. So how can he be termed the last Adam?

Set aside the Trinity belief, and the picture clears instantly.

The key is to recognize that Jesus was a perfect man. That’s why he was born of a virgin, with Joseph merely the foster father. Had he been born in the usual manner, he would have been imperfect, same as all the rest of Adam’s descendants. He would not have corresponded in any way to Adam. It would have been apples and oranges.

And if Jesus is God, again we have apples and oranges. Adam and Jesus only correspond if we recognize that they were both perfect men, the only two perfect men that have ever been.

This is a huge point to recognize, because it enables understanding of a central Christian teaching: how does Jesus’ death benefit mankind. Without this one-to-one correspondence, all you can get is a touchy-feely answer to that question, one that pulls at the heart but does nothing for the head.

God sent his son to die, Trinitarians say, to show his love for humans. Yeah, okay, but why that and not something else?

Because God wanted to give the most precious thing he had, is the answer. Yeah, but….why not throw in all the angels as well, and the stars? Wouldn’t that show even more love?

No, that explanation may tug at the heart, but it does nothing for the head. It contributes to the John Coffey (J.C.)…like the drink, but spelled differently….image of Christianity: Christians are big on heart, with lots of hope, and boundless good will….but they’re really not too smart. 

The Trinity teaching seriously interferes, even prevents, understanding this key Bible point. But if you make Jesus a perfect man, you get a result that satisfies the heart and the mind.

Adam was not created to die. Endless life was before him. When he rebelled, he pulled the plug on himself. But not just himself, also all his offspring….all of us. No longer would anyone look forward to endless life, now their certain destiny was old age and death. He sold them, Adam did. He sold them into the slavery of sin and death. And there they must stay, unless someone can buy them back.

A perfect man sold them into slavery, another perfect man will be needed as the repurchase price. Not another disobedient one like Adam, but a faithful perfect man, as Jesus proved to be.

You can’t find any perfect men among Adam’s offspring, they’re all imperfect. Only if God sends a heavenly son, his first born, to be born as a human, of a virgin, and so free from Adam’s imperfect heritage, can that perfect man be found. And that’s what God did.

When you free a kidnapped victim, the price you pay is called the ransom. The ransom price paid to release all of us from bondage to sin and death is a perfect human life, exactly corresponding to the perfect human life Adam threw away. Offering his own perfect life, Jesus bought back what Adam lost, he died for our sins. Now the expression died for our sins makes some sense. Jesus’ life is the ransom price needed to redeem enslaved mankind, and it is the exact price required, thus ransom carries the sense of completely covering….not too much and not too little.

When it comes to righting the greatest wrong ever, God plays by the same rules he made for us: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a soul for a soul… this case, a perfect soul for a perfect soul. (Deut 19:21) Thus, the “legal” framework is in place to restore everlasting life on earth to those who desire it.

The Son Of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matt 20:28

For there is one god, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.  1 Tim 2:5,6


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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

Gospel of Judas and the Breakaway Sect

April 2006, the National Geographic Society surprised us with the Gospel of Judas, (not to be confused with the Gospel of Howard) found in the 1970’s Egyptian dessert.

Background on gospels: the Bible has four of them, each named after its author: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Gospel means good news. Did Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, write the Gospel of Judas? If so, he had to write fast. Jesus gave him secret revelations only days before Judas took his own life.

No, Judas is not supposed to have written the gospel himself, but even so, when would he have told anyone his inside information? He was busy around that time, handing Jesus to the authorities, then feeling remorse over the deed, then taking his life over it.

Like different newspapers covering the same events, gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke overlap a lot. The Gospel of John, written many years afterwards by the nearly 100 year old apostle, contains about 90% new material. You shouldn’t be surprised at that. The needs of the Christian community would have changed in 30 years, and so John highlighted different deeds and teachings of Jesus, more relevant to Christians of his time. He acknowledges in his final sentence that there is no end to material he could have drawn on. 

The Gospel of Judas was written long after this time, and thus the connection to Judas, who lived only a few days after Jesus gave him his claimed secret revelations, has to be shaky. The content is heavily mystical, not at all like the other writings.

Elaine Pagels of Princeton University says texts like Judas are “exploding the myth of a monolithic religion” in favor of Christian diversity. Nonsense. It explodes nothing that the Bible canon itself doesn’t explode.

Below are 5 separate scriptures from the New Testament. Look them up if you like. The statements make clear that the authors were indeed striving for monolithic unity, and not Christian diversity. And why not? They were the apostles after all, the same fellows in the Last Supper painting. They knew what Jesus had done and said, and they wanted to keep the record untainted, a fight they ultimately lost, at least in the short run. Do you really think, for the sake of diversity, that they would welcome a new gospel, written years after their own deaths, by someone who couldn’t possibly be in position to know anything?

The Gospel of Judas is useful if we keep in mind what it represents….the view of a breakaway sect, not Christianity itself. Unfortunately, you know and I know that next years’ Christmas or Easter sop from the TV networks will be the “real” story of Jesus, based on the Book of Judas.

2 Pet 3: 15   Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote YOU, 16 speaking about these things as he does also in all [his] letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

1 Tim 4:1   However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, 2 by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron; 3 forbidding to marry, commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.

Acts 20:29   I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.

1 John 2:18   Young children, it is the last hour, and, just as YOU have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But [they went out] that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort.

2 John 9   Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to YOU and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into YOUR homes or say a greeting to him.




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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