Sam Herd and the Brother With the Rotten Attitude

“What did you learn that was new at the 2019 ‘Love Never Fails’ Regional Convention?”

It is a question from a sorehead. It is from a brother in good standing (or at least, not bad) though how that can be I will never know, for a more faultfinding person you will never find—and the faultfinding only escalates as he ventures up the leadership ‘hierarchy,’ since he holds them responsible for whatever he thinks did not work out in his own life. I mean, he doesn’t exactly have a fine attitude.

I know I cannot answer earnestly a question like this, for it will surely be thrown back in my face—it always is. In fact, this may be the type of fellow that I promised the elders I would not engage with again, but since I have no doubt that he truly is a brother—attending meetings and all—I answered him thus:

“I took a great many notes with the intent to write up a post or two that never materialized, crowded out by too many other things to do. It was in between days that I, for the first time ever, blocked several apostates at once as they had, for the first time ever, ganged up on me. They had pierced my up-to-then successful armor of always linking to a post with my replies, effectively answering their 50 words with my 1000.

But like the Borg, they adapted. Like charging a hill, caring not if they got mowed down, they started to came at me anyway. I would return to the hotel from a day at the convention and find a score or more of nastigrams from them, eager to call attention to some unflattering headline somewhere—all this with a wife who wanted to go out to supper or walk or just unwind, and who is not terribly enthused about my online activity in the first place. So I blasted them all away, and for reasons I no longer recall—I must have been watching Star Trek reruns, I drew heavily on that show for symbolism:

What did I learn at the 2019 ‘Love Never Fails’ Regional Convention? I learned that Brother Herd, who may not even know what political correctness is, will never reprove me for ‘fat-shaming.’ He was a keynote speaker, from the Governing Body, and his talks were streamed in from the larger Phoenix gathering he was attending.

Establishing the point that it is the heart that matters, Brother Herd posed the quandary of marrying the woman—an excellent catch—with a heart of pure gold, even though she “clocks in at 200 pounds.” Is this fellow a diplomat or what?

Everybody loves Brother Herd—maybe even more so than Brother Lett, whom some secretly fear may be too over the top. Herd has to be the most humble man on earth. How can he not be? Born to a father in his old age—a mule driver—one of 8 or 9 children, he said at the convention that for the longest time he thought that “a chicken only had a neck and a back because that’s all he ever got.”

Look, outsiders will never ever ever get it about how such a man can become one of the Governing Body, but it harkens back to something I once posted about how the GB is Plato’s dream come true: a monarchy type of governing in which the members are selected by merit, not by family line—and how that model assumes persons who do exist in the overall world—modest, non-materialistic, not power hungry—I mean, those persons do exist, but such are the values of this world that they can never ‘rise to the top.’ In Jehovah’s earthly organization, however, they can and do rise to the top—and part of their very qualifications is that they do not regard themselves as ‘rising to the top’ but only displaying a willingness to serve.

At any rate, I got a lot of mileage out of him when some opposer posted footage of him shaking hands with well-wishers at the airport and tried to spin it that JWs make him an object of worship and that he eats it all up. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about the man knows that he practically scowls at the attention, but what can he do? There they are. They love him. He loves them, so he shakes everyone’s hand. “Imagine: Who would be so nasty and petty to begrudge an old man acknowledging the well-wishing of friends?” I tweeted. It was one of my most liked tweets of all time.

I even have Sam down twice in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’ There is ‘Chapter 2 - Sam Herd’ and ‘Chapter 18 - Sam Herd.’ He had given some talk so humble, and yet so profound, that I used it to bookend my entire book—a book which, incidentally, I am using Covid time to refine a few rough edges out of it, so that anyone who has downloaded it might download it again and find it smoother.

He is not even a good speaker, really—Sam Herd isn’t—but he is such a captivating story-teller that it doesn’t matter. His stories are so down-to-earth, so human, so involved in the day-to-day of life—very much like Jesus’ illustrations—so connected with all that is ‘real’ about life, that he doesn’t have to spin erudite talks; his stories are such that everyone grasps the moral that he nowhere explicitly states.

“One thing is clear about jw.org,” a local brother said. “They don’t use paid actors.” No. You will never find people as unvarnished and real as are members of the Governing Body. You do not highlight people’s strengths. You highlight their weaknesses, though not in a fault-finding way, because in those weaknesses can be found God’s strength. If brilliant people accomplish brilliant things—well, it is easy to see why. But if decidedly non-brilliant people accomplish those things, it is not so easy to see why, and the credit goes to God. Three times the apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove a weakness. ‘Nothing doing,’ God replied. ‘I look better when you are a clod.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

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If You’re Going to Bewail Manipulation, Bewail it Where it Counts

The speaker’s wife gave one of the first comments at the Watchtower Study—on the very first paragraph. It sort of fit, since the theme was on making wise decisions and following through. Still, she ‘shoehorned’ it in a bit—it wasn’t a perfect fit. She said how she had not been manipulated to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—it had been her own choice and one that she did not regret.

Well, who said that she had been manipulated?—that’s why the comment had an artificial flavor to it—the paragraph itself contained no hint of it. Furthermore, pushing the limits of the 30-second goal for comments, put in place so that no one loquacious person steals the show, she found it the stupidest notion in the world for anyone to suggest that. Manipulation? How ridiculous.

Plainly, someone had thrust that idea at her recently, maybe some sorehead that she had run across at work or among the neighbors—that it is no more than manipulation with Jehovah’s Witnesses—that’s why they believe and act as they do. It is the classic technique of the mainstream bully—to assert that one couldn’t possibly depart from the ordinary unless they had been manipulated to do so, and “unfairly” manipulated at that—had the “manipulation” been in that bully’s direction, there would be no problem with it.

You can apply this to anything. The reason you bought a Chevy is that you were manipulated by their ads. The reason you cheered for the 49ers is that you were manipulated by San Francisco. The reason you went to college is that you were manipulated by the guidance counselor. The reason that you died for your country is that you were manipulated by that country to think the cause noble—nobody of any other country thought so.

Really, Jehovah’s Witnesses least fit the accusation of manipulation, because they, unlike the above examples, represent persons who were actively searching—they were anything but moldable pieces of dough. They were dissatisfied with the status quo, dissatisfied with where life was heading, dissatisfied with the goals society set before them, and they took upwards of a year looking over a new model, weighing and trying it on for size, before committing to it. All this was done in familiar surroundings without leaving trusted routine—as opposed to the above examples of college and military, in which one is immersed 24/7 in unfamiliar settings, a classic tool of manipulators.

Well, if you are going to talk manipulation, talk it with something that counts. That’s why I liked Mark Sanderson kicking back at the petty application of manipulation with a major one. In his annual meeting talk about not being fearful, he quoted Hebrews 2:15, that “through [Jesus’] death [God] might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil, and that he might set free all those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death.”

Sanderson cited the Nuremberg trials, in which various Nazis who had committed unspeakable atrocities were asked the simple question, “How could you do those terrible things?” “What did they say?” he asked, and then related the answer they had given: “We had no choice. If we didn’t obey they would put us to death.”

“Those people could be manipulated,” Sanderson said. “They could be controlled. They could be made to do the most wicked things because they were afraid.” Exactly! If you are going to bandy about words as “manipulate” and “control,” don’t trivialize the terms—do it with an example that matters! Don’t do it with an example of choosing this life course or that life course, neither of which will extend beyond 80 years. Do it with the example of control and manipulation that will gain you the reputation of a mass murderer to last throughout all time. Maybe that’s why the resurrection of the dead was one of the first Christian teachings to come under attack, even during the time of the apostles; the teaching thwarted the goal to keep people afraid so that you can make them do what you want.

Was it coincidence for Sanderson to speak as he did or did it represent kicking back at these petty people who put all their stock in the here and now, equating acting by faith as “control” and “manipulation?” I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.

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Sputnik and 1957: Fearful Sights and from Heaven Great Signs?

For a brief time, Mike Tussin was a roommate of mine. He drove me nuts in taking literally the admonition to read God’s Word “in an undertone day and night.” In time, he learned that he had better not do it in my presence. I logged some of his exploits in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash.

He was one of the most squirrelly characters that you will ever hope to meet, and yet—people are a mix—he had the most telling common sense, knack for nailing aspects of human nature (though mixed with an odd naïveté), no fear whatsoever of man, and the ability to simplify the complex. I can hear him now explaining to someone or other just how it worked with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, composed of anointed Christians. This would have been in the early 1970s.

They study and study their Bibles and one of them notices a point and discusses it with the others. They continue to turn it over and over. If their discussion reaches the point of agreement, that idea finds its way into the Watchtower—that’s how God’s people are fed spiritually today.

“Now, in your own personal study, you may have noticed that point, too, maybe even before they did. And if this was Christendom, you’d go out and start your own religion over it.” 

He captured it. I like the idea of ‘They’re not the only people who can think’ as well as the notion of waiting on headship and not running ahead. Present your idea, but if it doesn’t get adopted, don’t lose your cookies over it. The ship cannot sail in every direction at once.

Rumor has it that Sputnik came up for discussion at the Bethel table after 1957, but it was aborted before takeoff. Might that date not be a milestone in the last days stream of time commencing with the outbreak of World War I in 1914–a year marking the first time in history that the entire world went to war at once? Throw in the greatest plague of history, the Spanish flu of 1917, the colossal food shortages that always accompany colossal war, and viola!—one is powerfully reminded of Luke 21:10:

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another food shortages and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.”

Might 1957 Sputnik mark a mighty exclamation mark in “fearful sights and great signs from heaven?” It certainly scared the bejeebers out of the Americans, and within 3 years President Kennedy declared that the US would not play second fiddle to the Russians. They would join—and so make it—a “space race” by sending a man to the moon.

It is worth a simulated launch, I guess—presenting the idea at Bethel—three GB members batted about the idea, I’m told, but I’m glad that it blew up on the pad. The “fearfulness” would have been lost on most people. Did the race have military implications? Relatively few catch the implications of anything. They take it at face value, as it was popularly repackaged just a few years later:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!

On a flight to Damascus, Bill had a vision of such. Some strange fellow that he probably took for an angel presented the idea to him right there as he was riding in the Shatner seat. Like Saul, it disoriented him completely for a time, and the other passengers heard of the disturbance, sure enough, but witnessed nothing themselves.

As a boy, I never once trembled when they launched a rocket from Cape Canaveral. I always took it in the spirit of advancing technology, advancing exploration, and so forth. It’s one of the few major accomplishments of men that has NOT been quickly put to military use—though that could ever change—the way that airplanes were. No sooner had they been invented then they were strafing the towns of Europe and dogfighting each other in the skies.

In contrast to 1957, World War I was not only perceived by just about everyone, but it was instantly perceived as a negative. Probably that’s what the other GB members pointed out, sending the three Bethel “astronauts” pitching the notion hurtling off like Darth Vader in his crippled craft, careening off to the pantry for a donut or two.

Hmm. Maybe an update could incorporate robocalls from the cloud. What year did they begin? Truly, they cause men to raise their faces and curse the heavens. Truly, they too, are instantly perceived as a great evil, as any time-share owner in the Everglades knows.

You know, as I read the 1960 speech, I can see how the idea might come up for discussion at Bethel. Despite my innocuous take expressed about it—a take that has mostly played out (but may someday not)—there certainly were military overtones—overtones that just might make some tremble—in JFKs speech rallying Americans to support a moon launch. Everything must be considered in its own historical context. I’ve added italics to his words that play this way:

“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

“There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? 

“We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Yes, you could read a measure of terror into that speech if you were of a mind to, though I did not as a boy. The President says: “Space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.”

What are the chances of that happening?

 

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The Diversification of the Governing Body

Your governing body is ruling right now, 8 mainly American men, with American thoughts and personalities.” 

On the surface, this might seem a valid objection to the present Governing Body—why aren’t they more diversified? I could be wrong, but I think 3 of the 8 are not American—Losch (German—maybe Austrian), Jackson (Australian), and Splane (Canadian)—still I understand the supposed imbalance. It is based on a questionable assumption, though, that Eskimos (to take an example) cannot possibly be adequately governed unless there are Eskimos on the Governing Body. Is it really that way?

First of all, I submit that the “imbalance” is not so dire as is suggested. If we were speaking of 8 mainly American businessmen, all educated in American universities, all wealthy as large corporate businessmen usually are, all “insulated” socially from the working-class people, then I would say that he raises a good point. But it is not that way with the Witness Governing Body.

Your GB are ruling right now, 8 mainly American men, with American thoughts and personalities.”

Why don’t you ask the military generals or the national politicians just how “American” their thoughts and personalities are? The fact is that nobody has been able to overcome nationalism—or racism, classism, or social and educational differences, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and everyone knows it.

Sam Herd is the son of a mule-driver. Think that puts him out of touch with the regular people? Both Sanderson and Jackson have served as missionaries in developing countries, doing work not as lowly, but more lowly, than those of most of those that they will later lead. Call that being out of touch? Didn’t Losch operate behind the iron curtain? Call that typical? As for the others, I am not sure of their backgrounds, but I know that all of them have worked full-time service, probably for a lifetime, where the emphasis is on working with the lowly people and even taking direction from them. I mean, these are not blue bloods by any stretch. Previous GB members have spent years as missionaries—humble door to door calling and interacting with the common people—in varied foreign assignments; Lloyd Barry in Japan comes to mind, but there are many others. So they are hardly so “white” and “American” as you suppose. 

I am in the US. A few decades ago, the question was asked: ‘How come there are not more black brothers in positions of authority?’ The answer was that, due to social injustices, most black brothers were disadvantaged in various ways—plus the number of JWs themselves was quite small—they only hit 2 million in ....what ....1980 or so? and they were only 75,000 worldwide heading into WWII, and that, with time and growth and societal rebalancing of some grievances, we could expect to see more black brothers in “higher” positions. 

That has proved to be the case. Black brothers have “risen the ranks” and, to my mind, bring unique gifts to the table that whites lack. It is a black brother that gave the streamed Memorial talk one year (streaming is quite new) and the streamed special talk the next. I have spent most of my life working in congregations with about a 50/50 mix of white/black in the rank and file and the servant body. It is with congregation things as it is with music—things are more interesting and have more “life” once blacks are involved. Jazz, rock n roll, the interesting developments of American music, all come only from the contribution of blacks.

A friend in Myanmar tells me this inbalance of resources that once held American blacks back is duplicated where he lives with native brothers. Those in the positions of highest oversight are usually “needgreaters” of various nationalities, and locals are not heavily represented. The reason? Poverty is so extreme that most locals cannot afford the nominal transportation costs to travel to any destination that isn’t absolutely essential to hold together life and limb. It is not the Governing Body’s fault that the world is all screwed up. It is enough for them to spearhead the message of how it will be fixed.

Will there be a Japanese GB member someday, or a Brazilian GB member, or a Mexican one? It could be, as those countries catch up (and even outstrip) US and European lands where the organization first took root. It is unlikely to be an Indian member, a Middle Eastern member, a Myanmmarese member, because the preaching is yet thinly represented there. But it could be one of the former, though I wouldn’t hold my breath. The end is “right around the corner.” It has proven to be one heck of a corner—but still, the end is right around it. I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but it is hardly a big deal.

No, even as is, international interests are well-represented by the GB, given their unique backgrounds, worldwide unity, and lowly origins. Besides, this insistence that only Brazilians can represent Brazilians is largely a contrived political concern. President Obama is black and yet his background is not at all like those of any but a tiny minority of black Americans. He is mostly a product of large universities run by white blue bloods and infused with their philosophies for building a better world. Poor urban blacks will complain that he didn’t do a thing for them. Nothing changed for them with him eight years at the helm.

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The Loaded Words - Infallible, Inspired, and Perfect

It is revealing to me that those who taunt JWs endlessly over just how “inspired” are the ones at the helm today seem to take for granted that there should be ones who are that way. It gets even more crazy when words such as “infallible” are thrown in. “Perfect” makes matters worse. 

“Look at what Brother Jackson said,” they gloat. “Guess he’s not so infallible after all, is he?” they say. They take for granted that for the Christian life to have validity in modern times, there should be ones who ARE infallible, who can and SHOULD spoon-feed members, so there is a lessened need for faith, and hopefully (from their point of view) none at all.

These ones wouldn’t have lasted two minutes in the first century, when the ones taking the lead were manifestly not that way. A local speaker with a dramatic flair enacted a fictional encounter with an irate householder from back then, a forerunner of today’s “apostates.” “What! You’re going to tell me about love?” he hammers the visiting brother. “Look, I was there at that meeting of Paul and Barnabas after John took a leave of absence! You see those two kids there? [motioning to his young children playing on the floor] They do not fight as I saw those two grown men of yours fight! Why don’t you learn love yourself before you come here to lecture me about it!”

(For his part, Barnabas was determined to take along also John, who was called Mark.  But Paul did not think it proper to be taking this one along with them, seeing that he had departed from them from Pam·phylʹi·a and had not gone with them to the work.  At this there occurred a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other; and Barnabas took Mark along and sailed away to Cyprus. - Acts 15:37-39)

For that reason, I shy away from such loaded words as “infallible.” Maybe the insistence on infallibility is a holdover from the Catholic Church, which for centuries insisted that the Pope was that way. “Inspired” will also blow up in your face, because you end up doing backflips in translating just what the word should effectively mean now—or even then, when the “leading men” fought like kids. I even put the word “apostates” in quotes, increasingly, because it comes in many varieties and it means different things to different people.

It is enough to say that the written record, which includes the dealings and interactions of imperfect ones at the first-century helm, is deemed “inspired:“ All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

This is so even though it includes the account of Peter’s astounding cowardess (given his leadership role at the time) of changing his association once the Jewish-based brothers came on the scene—before they did, he mixed freely with the Gentile-based Christians; after they did, he “withdrew” from them.

(However, when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class.  The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barʹna·bas was led along with them in their pretense.  But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?” - Galatians 2:11-14)

It is still “inspired.” It is enough for us to go on. It is enough to make the Christian “fully competent” and “completely equipped for every good work.” Even though it includes the blunderings of the “uneducated and ordinary” ones that were the leaders back then—and the leaders today hold to that pattern—that is still the case. It is not at all what opponents today think that it should be—a true and unfailing human anointed one to wipe away every tear and smooth the path, removing all pebbles so that the people of God can sail along blithely without really having to develop faith. 

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If Hymenaeus and Alexander go bad on you, to be sure, it is a downer, but it does not destroy faith and a good conscience.

I think he means that with Jehovah’s Witnesses there is a combination of pure teachings that are found no where else. Some of them are individually, but the combination is not. They involve such things as the Name, the kingdom, no immortality of the soul,  no Trinity, the reason for suffering, the preaching work, the need to keep watchful, transformed personalities, and so forth. The Christian ministry is a treasure, however it is a treasure carried in “earthen vessels”—that is, people, who are not unflawed. “However, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves,” Paul says at 2 Corinthians 4:7. Context reveals that he is speaking of the ministry, which he regards as a “treasure.”

Although a certain malcontent fights so much and so bitterly with the bus driver that I can’t imagine why he doesn’t just leave—it would make the driver happier, the bus company happier, the passengers happier, and one would think, him happier—yet he does not do it, probably for the above reasons. (except for the ministry, and the nearness of the end, which he doesn’t seem to think is so)

People are a collection of their experiences, both those that have happened to them, and those they have manufactured. I have called him a loon. Maybe he is not, but he so closely resembles one that I cannot tell the difference. My bad.

As much as he carries on about worshipping the GB, he cannot seem able to understand that it is factors in the first paragraph that form a Witness’s faith, and following the direction of the GB is no more than not fighting with the traffic cop or the coach or the mentor. 

Let us humor him for a moment. Let us grant his dream come true, that malfeasance will someday be uncovered ....gasp!’....high up in the ranks. So? It would hardly affect one’s faith. They are men—everyone knows that. There have been many times in the past when the earthly organization was shaken practically into rubble—in America during WWI, in Axis countries during WWII, in Russia now—and as soon as the heat is off, God’s people rebuild like ants, because their faith was never in human arrangements—those just exist to facilitate and enhance spiritual things—their faith was in the spiritual things themselves.

Many times in the past brothers in responsible positions have proven unfaithful, sometimes even duplicitous, hiding who they are, and when discovered, have been removed and replaced. So says 1 Timothy 5:24: “The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men [their sins] also become manifest later.” Sometimes it is now. Sometimes it is “later.” Still, I would have to see some evidence before buying in. The fact that opposers “accuse them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10) does not count, for that has never not been the case.

It happens. Even GB members have been removed—sometimes with fanfare and sometimes not. Faith itself continues. It was never in human arrangements. It was in spiritual things. Enemies of the faith make the same mistake here that they do in Russia. Failing to grasp spiritual things, they imagine that if the shut down the earthly coordinating organization, the faith will collapse. Instead, it is like stomping on the anthill. The ants run for cover, but almost immediately they commence rebuilding. Their faith was never in the anthill—that was just their to magnify their ant-life.

The Bible reading last week in 1 Timothy 1:18 encourages ones (Timothy) to hold “faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside, resulting in the shipwreck of their faith.  Hymenaeus and Alexander are among these, and I have handed them over to Satan so that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.” As long as you hold faith and a good conscience, you are fine—and the faith is with regard to God and his Son, as accurately represented by the factors of the opening paragraph

If Hymenaeus and Alexander go bad on you, to be sure, it is a downer, but it does not destroy faith and a good conscience. 

......

Likely they will say of these courtroom battles, as they did of Russia banning the entire organization within its borders, that it is an area of “concern” but not “worry.” They don’t get overly attached to things, even things of their own construction. They put it all on the line routinely as they do their best to advance kingdom interests, not cowering before their enemies. They plow where they plow as they apply their view of the Bible, unconcerned, sometimes unaware, of the quicksand that may get them into, confident that, should that happen, God will somehow get them out of it.

They do not deliberately court opposition, but they do expect it. The king makes a law and Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den. He makes another law and his friends are thrown into the furnace. Another king makes another law and the entire nation of Jews faces extermination until Esther the queen opens his eyes to the murderous scheme he has been maneuvered into. It happens to their spiritual descendants to this day. The modern Witness organization expects no less. They are “insular,” separate from the world, and the latter finds no end of reasons to oppose them for it.

From “TrueTom vs the Apostates!”

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Mark Sanderson in Russia, Joseph Rutherford in America

Can you believe these blockheads, carrying on about Sanderson the way that they do?

Here is Mark Sanderson, of the Governing Body, and a team of international Witness delegates, present at the appeal trial to lend support. He has been advised that, in the event of a negative verdict, he will be subject to arrest if he so much as stays overnight. Since he and his do not know on what day a verdict will be handed down, they travel each day to the trial with their bags packed. Sure enough, the appeal is denied. He and the entourage catch the last plane out of Russia that evening—and now malcontents, those who have no skin in the game, are not Witnesses, and don’t really care one way or the other, except that they search for a smooth stone to hurl at their former faith—charge that he is a chicken! Why didn’t he stay and face the music with the Russian Witnesses?!

Well, obviously he is not going to stay there and make himself a target. No one is more recognizable than he. Even Trump would not hang out in North Korea but for the sure knowledge that 100 nukes are pointed that way. The point is that he didn’t have to go there at all, and the brothers were thrilled that he was there. They weren't complaining that he didn’t stay to play Russian Roulette. After the failed appeal, he and his party had to leave that night so as not to be subject to arrest themselves. Had anything gone wrong, they might have all found themselves under arrest—to no purpose, other than to make those who oppose them happy.

Says Grace (without displaying it): “I would expect one of the Governing Body members to be in Russia for the court case. They believe themselves to be the holy spirit/ self? appointed leaders of God's modern day chosen people.I would expect them to be there to show their support. The fact that Mark Sanderson hot footed it out of Russia the day after the court case rather than standing side by side with his brother just appears very unChristian. As a leader of the JW movement I would expect him to use his position [which might have been behind bars] to support the Russian brothers. Fleeing straight away does not give a great impression of Christian solidarity. Forget writing millions of letters, he voted with his feet so to speak. In days gone by leaders of countries led their people to battle from the frontline. Sanderson's behaviour does not give much of an impression of loving/ selflessness. I'm not saying that I would not have acted in the same way, but I would expect a little more from someone who believed they were leading God's organisation. I would have thought ensuring he saved his own skin would have been less of a priority for him.” [Italics mine, also brackets]

Does not the devil lie in what she expects? Do you see the taunts italicized? It’s particularly telling in view of the acknowledgement that his departure is exactly the common-sense thing to do, and she would have done it too. The taunts are what motivates the comment, an urge to undercut the human organization. One can almost picture this woman at the Temple Mount coaching the Lord: “Come on! Take that leap! Show a little faith in God! What’s the matter—chicken?” (Matthew 4:6) 

I think she just wants to see him in the hoosegow, and then there are only seven remaining GB members to go after.

Grace: “I'm not sure what a hoosegow is so I can't comment and no I have no ill feeling toward anyone. It just surprised me that you put a positive spin of mentioning how he was there etc and then stated he left as soon as a negative verdict was reached.”

Hoosegow is American slang for jail. What I “put a positive spin” on is nothing more than common sense. A captain goes down with his ship. He does not scan the horizon so as to board other ships that he can go down with as well. Sanderson is “captain” of the entire world organization. Witnesses in Russia have “captains” that are specifically in Russia, and they are going down with the ship. However, perhaps it will prove to be a submarine. Maybe it will surface again, just like it did last time. True, it took 100 years. But maybe it will be quicker this time.

***~~~***

However, if this bit of revisionist history takes the cake, it is nothing next to how J. F. Rutherford’s role as President of the Watchtower Society during World War II is being rewritten. As the most visible member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he put the face on their maintaining strict neutrality amidst conflicts and wars. In Germany, this neutrality put the German Witnesses behind bars, as it has at various times in many parts of the earth. Thus, he “threw German Witnesses under the bus,” according to these idiots.

It is also bogus. When “the bus” actually began moving in Nazi Germany, everyone BUT JWs were at the wheel. The vast majority of Germans then were of two major faiths. If even one of them had defied Hitler as Jehovah’s Witnesses did, the tyrant might have fallen. There are times one must take a stand.

Here is one of these characters now. Let us call him Beebs, who says: “JWs were barely on the periphery of Hitler’s plans - Jewish people were central to his fascist, sadistic plans. To elevate JWs’ victimisation to that of the Jewish people, which is what the GB has been doing, is to minimise the horrors of what the Jewish people went through.”

What is this idiocy? Of course, it can be “elevated.” Perhaps even more so, for JWs were unique in that they were the only persecuted group that could have written their ticket out, by renouncing their faith, and pledging support to HItler. Only a handful complied.

Beebs: “Model JDub, nice. What you’re saying then is that the JWs are basically a death cult - refusing to renounce a belief system would mean certain death, and most reprehensible of all, refusing life-saving blood in surgery resulting in needless death, incl. that of innocent youth.”

They are “basically a death cult” in the same sense that anyone who has ever given his life for his country, for science, for exploration, even in pursuit of extreme sports, belongs to “basically a death cult.”

It is as Paul writes to the Thessalonians, when he expresses the hope “that we may be rescued from harmful and wicked men, for faith is not a possession of all people.” (1 Thessalonians 3:2) With the elimination of faith comes the elevation of the present life to the ultimate status. Jehovah’s Witnesses certainly don’t think of the present life as nothing—you should see them when they get going on workplace safety—but they realize that this present life is not all there is. For those without faith, however, this life is all there is.

And yet even that position is not consistent. If the cause is “wrong” in their eyes, one death is far too many. But if the cause is “right,” as in the above examples of country, science, exploration, even sports, they are willing to see them mowed down by the hundreds—sometimes thousands.

And I never did get back to this fellow about his “life-saving” blood transfusions (the noun must always be preceded by that adjective, in their eyes). In fact, as employed, they are often “life-threatening.” Moreover, as a result of a relatively tiny religion sticking to its principles amidst much opposition, courageous doctors have developed and put into practice various forms of “bloodless medicine,” which, in combination with safer techniques concurrently developed, have likely saved far more lives than members of the small faith have lost.

 

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Skimish #268295 High Living for the GB

Imagine, Nemo trying to spin it that they live high on the hog there at HQ! What is wrong with him?

During my years at Bethel, two GB members came down with pneumonia. Nobody could figure out why, because they had perfectly good space heaters for their pup tents. It turned out that, even though the temperature had been in the teens for days, they had kept them off so as not to waste dedicated funds.

Three of them got hand fungus from the hours they spent every day on foot-washing detail.

Two of them subsisted on honey and locusts. Four pressed their clothes with bricks so as not to waste electricity on ironing.

One of them winced when I said ‘hello’ and I learned afterwards that he only says “greetings” because “hello” has “hell” in it.

He winced even more and permanently injured his back carrying my bags to my room when I arrived, even though I told him I had brought my anvil collection.

One of them, when I had a flat tire, gave me a wheel off his car, and then had to walk through the sleet to the airport, where he strapped himself to a wing of the plane to save money and flew to Portugal to serve as keynote speaker there.

Still another one I visited in his tent, and he offered me a cup of coffee. As I sipped mine he diluted his to make it last longer.

These brothers make more self-sacrifice in a day than Nemo does in a year.

~~~

I got about a minute into the clip that Wilma sent,  maybe a minute and a half, and I noticed three things about it.

1) Nemo is extremely pleased with himself.

2) In his brief exchange about pants, where he somehow caught Bro Mo on the phone, (just THAT says something - that he takes a call from an unknown “brother” with unspecified concerns, instead of it being handled well down the line by some support staff) the latter comes across as warm, engaging, and not in the slightest bit full of himself (as Nemo DOES seem) - “No, call the branch,” he laughs, “and I’d better not see you guys wearing them,” he quips, and “You’re kidding me, right?” It was impossible not to warm to the guy.

3) Nemo’s cooing concern of how difficult it is for an ordinary person, such as he, to speak with a GB member (notwithstanding that he had just done it), as though an 8:000,000 to 1 ratio meant nothing at all. In fact, apparently it is an 8 billion ratio to 1 that he expects anybody to be able to waltz through, since he said at the outset that he is not among the 8 million. 

The guy is too infantile to endure, and I got no further. I mean, this thing runs 17 minutes.

4) (Yeah, I know I said 3, but I thought of another) Wilma’s ridiculous assumption that she has landed a major blow. “Here’s one for you, TTH,” she says, with no doubt whatsoever that I am going to clear the calendar and patiently analyze it, doubtless running it through several times so that all of her insinuations sink in. Wilma, who I simply asked a couple of questions of, and who thereafter regarded me as her star pupil for a time, and expressed such disappointment when she found that it was not so. I mean, this is a very strange woman. 

~~~

Jimmy: TTH: “The guy is too infantile to endure, and I got no further. I mean, this thing runs 17 minutes.”

The point is that that in 17 minutes I can read 20 times as much, without having to endure an unpleasant personality.

Jimmy: Doya think it might have something to do with your attention span being about a minute and a half?

No. I think it has something to do with his being that way.

Taunting me, when I mentioned that I read plenty of non-JW material, he asked: “Which of the three major atheist books do you find the most compelling?”

I replied: “Which of Dickens’ novels do you find the most compelling? Which of the Greek tragedies do you find the most compelling?”

The shallow idiot. And I should watch him for 17 minutes when he is too lazy to put his information into written form, the way every intelligent person on the planet has done since the beginning of history? That’s why he is crying so about being denied the “right” to steal Bethel’s content so as to put it into his own framed context—he’s too dull to describe it himself as any credible chronicler must do.

I have you to do that, and following the thread with some less biased people who CAN suffer through it, I can pretty well piece things together.

Call it “forensic research.” Scientists do it all the time and we are called dodos if we do not eat up every word.

~~~

Okay, as for my only actual exchange with one of the GB, which I related in the ebook Tom Irregardless and Me:

"I once crossed paths with a member of the Governing Body, sort of. By odd coincidence, one of my pals has the same first and last name as one of that group. Only the middle initial is different. My friend entered Bethel around 1980 and later married. My wife and I sent him a card on his first wedding anniversary, and it was the Governing Body member who replied! He thanked us for our kind wishes, he related how he and his wife had been traveling, how they’d been to Australia for the District Convention, and then Africa - boy, he sure gets around for being just a year at Bethel, we thought. Funny, the wives’ names didn’t match. Ah, well – maybe someone has a nickname. How could we have known? Here is a Governing Body member taking time to respond to a card, writing a few chatty paragraphs to people he does not know, not willing to risk hurt anyone’s feelings. I mean, these are not pretentious people."

 

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Photo: CBS television as published on Wikipedia Commons

 
 
 
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Moses Strikes Solid Rock

Finally, Moses cried out to Jehovah: “What should I do with this people? A little longer and they will stone me!” Though the July, 2018 Watchtower article entitled ‘Where are Your Eyes Looking?’ nowhere makes the connection, beyond a vague reference to those having “a measure of responsibility in God’s organization,” which everyone took as a reference to congregation elders, this writer could not help but think that the ones the Governing Body had foremost in mind as beneficiaries of the counsel offered was themselves.

Much was made of the instance in which Moses produced water from the rock at God’s direction. He did it twice, something that I had forgotten. The first was months after crossing the Red Sea, during a time when there was so much muttering over a lack of water that Moses in frustration cried out the words above. It didn’t occur to them that the God who punished Egypt with ten plagues and parted the waters, closing them upon the army in pursuit, could solve the problem of a drought. Jehovah told Moses to strike a rock. Moses did, and water gushed out. It is related in the 17th chapter of Exodus.

The next instance was almost 40 years later, and by this time the people had worn Moses down. They had never given up on the bellyaching and even occasional rebellion. This time when they started complaining over the same thing, Moses lost it. “Hear, now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you from this crag?” and he struck the rock twice, after which water again gushed out. God didn’t like what Moses had shouted. Much later, Psalm 106: 32-33 says “They provoked him at the waters of Meribah, and it went badly for Moses because of them. They embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.”

If, at a congregation meeting, you approach the speaker after a good talk and tell him it was a good talk, he will as often as not say something to the effect that it is not really him who should get the credit but Jehovah. He says that even though people are perfectly capable of speaking all by themselves without any help at all from Jehovah. So what about someone who takes full credit for doing what no human in a thousand years could do? It is what Moses did. That’s what can happen when the scoundrels are nipping at your heels day and night for forty years. This last bit of correction from God—that Moses as a consequence of his outburst would not be the one to take his nation into the promised land, strikes the average reader as overly harsh. Yet it is entirely in harmony with the verses “to whom more is given, more will be expected,” and “he will finish your training; he will make you firm.” Moses, like everybody else, is being trained for the real life, not this transitory one.

Notwithstanding that the Internet is the perfect breeding ground for complainers, one has to ask: What is it with all these malcontents? It is as though kicking against the goads has become the order of the day, seen everywhere, not just in the field of religion. Acquiescence to the authority of the parent, the teacher, the counselor, the coach, the boss, the consulted advisor, the party leader, the union steward, and those taking the lead in the congregation was once an entirely unremarkable fact of life; today it is selling out one’s soul. I begin to imagine the Governing Body posting God’s rebuke to Moses as their own personal year text, in hopes that they do not also lose it one day in kicking back at the grumblers.

God counted the constant complaints about Moses as though it were constant complaints about Him. “When your forefathers tested me; They challenged me, though they had seen my works,” reads Psalm 96:6. “Yeah, well, they’re no Moses,” I can hear the retorts already, muttering about the Witness Governing Body. “Where are their comparable works? What Red Sea did they lead anyone though?”

Given that literal food and drink prefigures in the Bible the greater spiritual food and drink, the accomplishments of the Witness organization today are nothing short of amazing, The average person of a developing nation must make do with an archaic translation of the Bible that he can neither afford nor understand because those in the church world think it only natural that Big Business be entrusted with the distribution of God’s word. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses devise an entirely separate channel to place a modern understandable translation in his hands at minimal cost, even free. The Bible satisfactorily answers questions that are answered nowhere else, the deeper questions of life such as ‘Why would God permit suffering?’ ‘Why do people die and what is the hope afterward?’ and ‘What is the ultimate purpose of life?’ Although this fellow may not have a nickel to his name, he has access to the answers no less than those in more affluent lands. Some in those  latter lands count it the accomplishment as nothing as they grouse about matters of personal inconvenience.

It is not nothing. However, when people become obsessed with their own immediate needs and wants, it can become as nothing. This writer doesn’t dare do it—simply become a whiner over present inconveniences. There are some inconveniences, of course, in pursuing a united service to God today, but to carry on excessively about them seems to me a reality not too far off from Moses in Sinai. In any organization there is a chance that a given decision will not go your way. Should organization be jettisoned on that account? It is exactly what opposers would wish. That way individuals flail away, accomplish little, and eventually can be absorbed by the popular cause.

If you take away the upside there becomes nothing left to grumble about other than the downside. The trend today of the young is to go atheist. Who smoothed that path for them? When their new influencers come around, delighted about the restrictions they have broken free from, always ask them what they have found that is better. What is it that they have to offer? Are they not just “promising them freedom” while existing as “slaves of corruption?” What do they have to offer? Simply the freedom to do whatever one wants without check? History shows that freedom has not worked out particularly well for humankind.

With the wandering Israelites, it went well beyond complaining about the dry weather. They reached the point where they wanted to go back to Egypt. Imagine. It is widely told, if only from the Ten Commandments movie, that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt—deliverance from a harsh life. They had there been slaves. Now, just a month later, they wanted to go back. When the going got especially rough because the ten timid spies planted fear amongst them, “they even went to saying to one another: ‘Let us appoint a head, and let us return to Egypt!’” says Numbers 14:4. Egypt! The land in which they had suffered slavery for decades. They wanted to go back!

So, too, apostates to the faith today want to go back to “Egypt.” It is as though they want to return to slavery. The Lord was impaled in Egypt, Revelation 11;8 says. Everyone knows that he was not impaled there. It is a symbolic usage of “Egypt,” an “Egypt” at cross-purposes with God no less than the Egypt of the Old Testament. It, too, features “slavery,” and apostates long to return to it because they have decided that it was not so bad after all. The slavery is not so obvious. Rather, it is so universal as to go unnoticed by most. We are slaves to sin with its ultimate consequence of death, Romans 5 tells us. The inherited imperfection by which, try as we might, we let ourselves and all around us down is the sad reality that God proposes to reverse by means of his Son’s sacrifice. “Nah, it’s not so bad,” the apostates say. “We’ll go back to it. Opportunities abound in the world we left, and we want to not miss out on them.” It is no different than “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things” of 2 Timothy 4:10.

If there is no God, he is exactly right. Paul would agree with him. “If it is in this life only that we have hoped in the Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:9) In other words—if it is all a myth, an unreality. “However, now Christ has been raised up from the dead,” he goes on to affirm next. Faith in God’s purpose or the absence of it determines two starkly different outlooks in life. The goads that are absolutely unbearable to those without it are accepted by those with it with barely a notice.

There are times in Bible history when so many became too smart for their own pants and God simply gets fed up. Paul announces that he will take his missionary show on the road. (Acts 13) The king announces that those invited to the feast are not worthy of it, and he redirects the invitation to one and all. (Matthew 22) God himself announces that he will scrap his people and build for himself a new nation from Moses. Moses talks him out of it. Everyone recognizes that God is affording his prophet extraordinary consideration—allowing him to plead a case and demonstrate where his heart lies. Only persons of “critical thought” conclude that he is such an unreasoning hothead as to not know that killing off his own people will damage his street cred. (Exodus 32)

“Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ,” cautions Paul at Colossians 2:8. In the case of opposing young people, former Witnesses themselves, it becomes almost silly to affix to them the label “apostate.” They do fit the bill, technically, but they haven’t really earned their stripes yet—call them “junior apostates,” if one must, or “apostates in training.” At present, they are “someone ‘carried off’ as prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the traditions of men.” They will have to see through it for themselves now. Very likely, few of them will, for the animal carrying off prey is not known to release it. They have aligned themselves with masters skilled in the use of new blinders, the type that permits observation of the trees but not the forest. Still, young people are forever doing rash things that they later rethink, so one never knows how things will turn out. “It ain’t over till it’s over,” says Yogi Berra.

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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Let Us Appreciate Brother Lett

In the final chapter of Tom Irregardless and Me, the chapter in which I try to tie up many loose ends, I threw in this little snippet: “Brother Lett gave a talk in the Ministry School and was given a ‘W’ (work) for gestures. Surely if he applies himself he can learn to be more expressive!”

It is almost like what they said about Jesus, though not with the same degree of admiration: “Never has another man spoken like this.” As one brother put it: “Let no one ever say that Jehovah’s organization uses paid actors.”

Witnesses love this guy. He knows that he is nutty and he builds upon it as a strength rather than get all bashful over it. If I had any doubt about that, it was erased at the behind-the-scenes broadcast that explained how such programming is produced. As he is beaming in the chair and assistants are dabbing him with make-up, the voice-over (his) says that the final step is to apply make-up to the host so that he “looks his best!” He knows he is a nut. The important thing to remember is that, when Jehovah’s Witnesses go nuts, they are still harmless eccentrics who wouldn’t hurt a fly. When those of the greater world go nuts, you’d better call in the SWAT team. A guy that knows how not to take himself too seriously is a precious guy to have around. There are far too many people who do not suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

That Lett is not one of them affords him huge respect in my eyes. It’s not so much where you are but how far you have come. When a Christian Life and Ministry program suggested that we think of brothers we appreciate, I picked two not commonly recognized. They are both from a pronounced socially awkward background, and they both have overcome it to serve capably in roles that anyone would have previously thought forevermore beyond their reach. They are not “heavy hitters,” in my view, and probably never will be, but they are solid and respected. In an age where elders seldom have to give talks, but just use discernment in applying Q&A sessions and via personal interactions, it is enough.

What does Jesus three times tell Peter, recently returned from one of the greatest failures in history? “Feed my little sheep.” It is not one’s stellar brilliance that is going to make one most effective in doing that. It is the love that one shows, and Lett shows it in spades.

In the August broadcast, he gives one of the most ridiculously over-the-top illustrations that I have ever heard, in which volunteers are supplied 2-inch brushes to paint the Kingdom Hall, and everyone knows that is a crazy way to do it. On and on he goes about some grumbling that 4-inch brushes would make more sense, even 6-inch brushes, even rollers. And why not go all the way and rent a spray painter? Or hire a contractor? And, come to think of it, someone else grouses, the Kingdom Hall doesn’t need painting in the first place. Furthermore, Lett almost makes this the central issue before all creation, with God potentially saddened because the friends are bickering over the tiny brushes and the Devil jumping for joy at their disunity, as though neither one of them really has much to do in the other realms.

Tempering this verdict of the illustration being ridiculous is that Brother Lett admits from the start that it is over-the-top. It is a hyperbole, and the man himself is a hyperbole. And come to think of it, anyone familiar with the gospels knows that Jesus employed hyperbole all the time. Through their exaggeration, they have the advantage that anyone of common sense and unhardened heart instantly gets the point.

They also have the advantage that anyone “wise in their own eyes” and too enamored with “critical thinking” does not. “I don’t have time for this nonsense!” they sputter, and thus are sifted out. I begin to think that hyperbole is a tool in the toolbox that serves to fulfill Jesus’ words at Matthew 11, on how God has “hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and revealed them to babes,” and is even a way in which he “catches the wise in their own cunning,” the “wisdom of this world” being “foolishness” in their eyes. I mean, if the stuff is so great, show me the peaceful world it has collectively produced. Real wisdom should enable diverse people to overcome divisions and work smoothly together—a sub-theme of Lett’s illustration.

You should have heard how some of the malcontents savaged him! “Classic JW thinking. So typically black and white!” But just because there is black and white thinking does not mean that some things are not black and white, and not long ago, a car group of sisters was rear-ended by a cop in an actual black and white because he was not single-mindedly focused upon his driving. It is possible to overthink things.

Though they are not the people that those of critical thinking pay any attention to, most persons in the world are quite simple, and thus so are Jehovah’s Witnesses, who draw disproportionately from this pool. One out of six persons in the world today cannot read. Do the wise ones of this system of things even know that these people exist? The Watchtower produces simplified versions of material already written simply so as to reach them.

There is an apocryphal story that one of the Governing Body told Lett to “stop acting like an idiot.” It is impossible to know with apocryphal stories what is true and what is concocted. That said, as I close my eyes, I can see it, for the two are vastly different in presentation. Even that “mystery” serves to beneficially separate people, as some dismiss it with a “who cares?” and some obsess over it. It is not unlike when Rex Tillerson supposedly called President Trump a moron and the news media suspended all other activity to find out whether he really did or not—a quest that continued even after Tillerson himself called a news conference to say: “Back where I come from, we don’t have time for that nonsense.” Incredibly, they were not chastened by this. “Yeah, well, did you or didn’t you?” they wanted to know. That is another way in which people are separated today. One person’s nonsense is another person’s manna.

[Edit: It turns out that Brother Lett has grappled with Bell’s palsy, which paralyzes facial muscles on the affected side, and as part of rehab, he got into the habit of exaggerated facial movements, a habit that stuck, or is perhaps even still advisable. The elder telling me this said, when I pressed him, that he had it “on good authority.” Knowing him, I rate it as probably a 90% chance—for the student of history knows and is aghast at how easily stories are distorted in transmission. So you never know. You just don’t. All the people saying nasty things about him are no doubt hanging their heads in shame just about now. Imagine! Calling such a man a nut! Who would ever do such a slanderous thing?]

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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