Alexis Olympia Ohanian Doesn't Do Birthdays. This Gets Interestinger and Interestinger

Few things cause more distress in the world of celebrities than a neglected birthday celebration. Yet Serena Williams presented them exactly that scenario with regard to her baby daughter, soon to turn one. “Serena and husband Alexis Ohanian won’t be throwing an over-the-top birthday bash for their baby girl…In fact, they won’t be throwing a party at all,” reported Caitlyn Hitt for the DailyMail. Why?

Serena says: ‘We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.’ She repeats the tactic that she took with President Obama, back when she was “excited to see Obama out there doing his thing….[but] I'm a Jehovah's Witness, so I don't get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don't I'm not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn't for my religion.'' Let me tell you that she took heat for it from people immersed in civic affairs, not to mention those who dislike Witnesses.

Notwithstanding that the support organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses encourages congregation members to give reasons for their stands and not just say “I do it because I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,” there are times when the latter response is exactly the thing to say. The actual reason takes a while to explain and people don’t necessarily want to hear it. You have to know your audience. I begin to like Serena Williams more and more. She doesn’t buckle under pressure, mumbling something incomprehensible. No. She says "We don’t do that.” She reminds me very much of a sister named Jackie who was ribbed at school for her modest way of dress. She threw it right back at them. “I set the style,” she told the would-be bullies. “If you want to be cool, you dress like me.”

Speaking of modest dress, Serena hasn’t exactly done that over the years on the tennis court. Even given that you want freedom of movement, every so often you will hear her criticized for that, primarily from people who think they can embarrass Jehovah’s Witnesses on that account. Outspokenly she has thanked Jehovah for her tennis victories, yet how does that work with the flag at the Olympics? Jehovah’s Witnesses are circumspect about the flag of any nation, declining to salute, not for any reason of protest, but because of the second of the Ten Commandments. And didn’t she cuss out that official at a certain match? Ah, well, athletes have been known to do that and people cut them slack. After all, if she was mild-mannered Clark Kent, she would find transition into Superwoman difficult.

So she has sent mixed signals over the years. Why would that be? Ah, here it is in the Caitlyn Hitt article: Last year she told Vogue, “Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it.” Okay. She was brought up in the faith and has made part of it her own but not entirely. Apparently, she is not baptized, a big deal for Witnesses. Now, with the birth of a child, she means to change some things. The birth of a child will frequently trigger a shift in priorities. Likely, she is conscious of a spiritual need not completely attended to in her own case and she does not want the same for her daughter. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses call each other brother and sister and I am old enough to be her dad, I tweeted: ‘Knock it out of the park! You go, my daughter.' I’m sure she saw it out of the gazillion tweets she receives each day, many from JW detractors telling her that she is nuts.

Her outspokenness served her well in another instance. When the man she was dating wished her a ‘Happy Birthday’ and she responded as she now does for her daughter, the man admired the courage. He “saw this gesture as Serena stepping outside her comfort zone for him and decided immediately that he wanted to marry her.”

It only gets more interesting. He is Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. He is not a Jehovah’s Witness, and was not raised with any religion at all, but is reportedly okay with Serena’s faith. Now, it turns out that Reddit is a huge online discussion forum in which topics are hosted for everything under the sun. One of those groups, with thousands of participants, is dedicated to bringing down the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When Philadelphia Inquirer reporter David Gambacorta wrote (so far) four incendiary articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses, he used this group as his source of information and between articles checked in with them, as though Trump playing to his base.

It therefore reminds – I mean, it is not a type/antitype kind of thing, but it sure does remind one of Jewish Queen Esther of long ago, married to the wealthy Persian King who had been maneuvered by enemies into decreeing that her people be destroyed, and the sentence surely would have been carried out but for Esther’s (putting her life at risk to do it) bold intervention. Yeah, why don't you go in there to Mr. Ohanian, you Reddit Witness haters, and tell him that his wife is crazy? That sounds like a brilliant plan to me. Tell him that Mr. Gambacorta is on your side. Just make sure that you read up on Haman before you do it. (See the entire short Book of Esther)

Look, it is not parallel in all respects. Nobody is literally threatening to kill anyone, but they are threatening to kill the Christian organization that supports and coordinates the worldwide work that Jehovah’s Witnesses do, just as like-minded ones are now doing in Russia. Moreover, Mr. Ohanian cannot be expected to pull the group’s Reddit credentials; he runs a website dedicated to free speech. There is also a pro-JW group on the site, as well as a squirrelly in-between one, supposedly supportive of Witness teachings but unsupportive of the human leadership. Such will always be the sticking point in the divine/human interface. It was even true with Judas. He and God were tight. There were no problems there. But that yoyo claiming to represent him was just too much, not at all what Judas wanted to see. And those bumpkins he was attracting! Don’t even go there.

No, it is possibly not history repeating itself. Mark Twain [allegedly} said that does not happen. History does not repeat, he said, but it does rhyme a little.

"I am stronger than you. I bless Heaven for it," said Miss Pross to the wicked foreign woman trying to destroy her Loved One, resisting her "with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate." 


What an Idiot Tom Harley Is

On Groundhog Day the Great Hog attempts to fulfill any contractual obligations before emerging from is hole. He usually has a gig or two lined up and he has cashed in on his reputation by selling Hyundais, mattresses, and time-shares.

This year was to be his greatest for he had inked a deal with the famous JW author Tom Harley for a coordinated GH day release of his second E-book 'No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash. He rushed inside his lair, toward the opening, carrying a stack of dozens. However, it had rained the night before, the roof collapsed and all copies of Tom' wonderful book are muddy messes that must be hosed off.

What an idiot Tom Harley is! Why can't he release an e-book like everyone else on the planet? He thoroughly tried everyone's patience with his Tom Irregardless and Me. I mean, we were thoroughly underwhelmed with the book.One fellow even said it was preachy! He's nuts! Well, it does rant a little, maybe, but it doesn't harangue. Tom is very quickly wearing thin.

Give it a day or two and the new book will be out.

Tom Irregardless and Me. ****  No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


On Groundhogs Days Eve Around the World, the Great Hog Appears to Little Children Everywhere

On Groundhog Days Eve around the world, the Great Hog appears to little children everywhere, bringing them much joy and leaving chocolate cookies. Or are they turds? I just sweep them up without looking.  Sometimes he picks up tics and lice beforehand, and he is responsible for major outbreaks among children.

He visits while dogs are asleep, just like he visits tiny children while they are asleep, though not for the same reason. Even so, he must be very careful. Last year, my German Shepherd was up for a midnight snack when he came and tore the little thing to shreds.

This year he has a new gig. Somehow Tom Harley has talked him into promoting his new book 'Tom Irregardless and Me' He's getting desperate. I mean, the book's really not very good. One person even said it's 'a bit preachy!!!'' But has a few great reviews of it, so it must be just different tastes. He is an academic, used to academic ways, and the book makes no pretense of being written that way. But it has garnered several fine reviews at and they're not boiler-plate crap, either. They're obviously written by people who think.

Who's Messing with Charlie Brown's Christmas!?

Two dogs are pecking away on their keyboards, very intense. One says to the other, with much enthusiasm, “On the internet, no one knows you're a dog!” Yeah! That's the trouble with the internet. You never quite know where anything is coming from.  A laureate or a liar? A psalmist or a sorehead? A philanthropist or a philanderer? It's hard to tell. Maybe that's why Awake! is....shall we say...reserved in it's endorsement of the online world, even citing that old New Yorker cartoon about the dogs.

However, I spotted a dog on the internet when nobody else did, so I'm unusually full of myself these days....even though 'pride comes before a fall.' I spotted the dog, and now I'm going to put a muzzle on it, or at least try to.

Someone sent me a Peanuts strip from 1965,  a strip that's all over the internet lately. They thought I would agree with the caption....and in fact, I do. But I also smelled a rat. See if you can, too.

 Peanuts christmas strip    altered
Okay. Got it? A little anti-Christmas, wouldn't you say? Now, you may (or may not) agree with the wording here, but it sure doesn't ring true to what Charles Shultz was about, does it? Would he really have authored such a strip? I don't think so. Even though Linus is indeed a know-it-all windbag, even though he does quote scripture from time to time, even though he is well-versed on theological things. But it doesn't fit.  So I poked around some. It took a while, but I found the source of the smell. The strip has been doctored! In the  enlarged frame, those first two speech bubbles are genuine, but the last one has been modified. Here's the original:


Peanuts christmas    original

Now, I don't think Charles Shultz would like this. Bitten by one of the dogs on the internet! You ought to be able to write your own comic strip without some smug little snot of a propogandist replacing your words with his. You understand, I don't have a problem with the modified words in themselves. What they say is not untrue. It's attributing them to Shultz that burns me up, because he would never have penned such a thing. Write your own strip! Rejection of Christmas on account of it's non-Christian origin may ring true with us, but religious folk in general have no problem with it. Part of our 'rich diversity,' and all.

If you use someone's work as underpinning to your own, you keep the two separate. It's not only ethical to do that, it's also practical. Your whole case crumbles when someone spots that you've built upon a fraud. Don't do it. Go out of your way to make clear you don't do it. Just like when the Watchtower used to quote  evolutionists saying things that undermined their own dogma...I mean, they were perfectly accurate quotes...but then grousers would accuse us of misrepresenting those luminaries, so the Watchtower took to pointing out, whenever using so-and-so's words, that these folks nonetheless believed in their own theories...they weren't jumping ship to endorse creation. I don't think it was necessary, but I appreciate why they did it: to avoid even the appearance of misrepresentation. (It didn't satisfy the grousers, however)

Or when the translators of the New World Translation refused to translate Ps 22:16 as “they have pierced my hands and feet” even though they agreed such a rendering would perfectly fit Christ Jesus' role. They refused to do it because the underlying manuscript evidence was dubious. Few other translations had such scruples. Whatever you do, do it honestly. Don't fudge facts to fit your agenda.

Although, having said that.... I can think of one exception. Nothing's absolute. For the life of me I cannot condemn Nick Regalia for altering the work of another when he first became a JW. See, Nick was trying to clean up his life at the time, so he drew bathing suits on all the posters of naked women at his workplace! Lemme tell you, he was none too popular for a while. Of course, this was many years ago. Today, he'd be doing those artists a favor, saving their jobs, probably, since sexual harassment laws will get you into a lot of hot water now and displays of porn can easily trigger them.

But Charles Shultz didn't do porn. He did Peanuts. And Peanuts was (and is) one of my favorite strips. So if someone sends you that phony strip, send it right back with the notation that it's a fraud. You can't undo matters completely. Once toothpaste is out of the tube, you just can't put it back it. It remembers how tight it was in there, and it just won't go. But we can at least be on the right side of the fray.

Now.....who might have done such a thing....altering Shultz's work to paste in his own anti-Christmas tirade? Oh please please please.....let it not be one of our people! We might forward the strip to our pals, thinking it's genuine. How would a person know?'t let it be that one of ours originated it. I don't think anyone would, we don't usually stoop to such tricks, mean...........look, there's nothing about Bible teachings or JW beliefs that make a person fanatical or unbalanced. There isn't. Bible teachings, when applied, mold a person for good. However, if you already have an unbalanced fanatical bent to your personality, then you've found a home among us. Overbearing excess will be chalked up to commendable zeal, and even though your fellow brothers may roll their eyes a bit, they'll put up with it, knowing that, most likely, you'll balance out eventually. So I was a little worried that some brother might have done this, probably some firebrand kid.

Ahhhh.....good! It's not us. It's some 'Jews for Jesus' type character, as near as I can tell. Here's the site. Note how he admits, in fact even boasts about, changing that last panel. Now, the next step is, if it lands in your inbox, send it back.

The reason I smelled a rat is because I knew that Charles Shultz was not against Christmas. And 1965....the date of that strip? That's the year that the first of many Charlie Brown Christmas specials was released on television. I remember the program. That's why it's good to have some years on you. No young person could be expected to spot this fraud. But an old buzzard like me, who's been around awhile, can nail it, and I did!

In fact, I begin to suspect that even the strip I took as original, from which that bastardized phony strip was derived......even that strip is a fraud. I snared one dog on the internet, only to find a whole pack of them is on the loose! I'm not sure, but I suspect it. Alas, I have to leave it to someone else to figure that one out, preferably someone with one of those monstrous anthologies of Charlie Brown comic strips and the time required to comb through every page. It's not easy catching dogs, and for now I'm content with one.

I suspect the "original" is also phony because, in that 1965 Christmas special, windbag Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas to poor Charlie Brown, and he does it merely by quoting scripture! Luke 2:8-14. Those are verses about Jesus' birth. He doesn't say anything at all about 1) Jesus wasn't born on that day, 2) Jesus never said anything about celebrating his birth, anyway, or 3) the customs associated with with the celebration of Christmas all stem from non-Christian roots. Peanuts creator Charles Shultz gravitated to the sentimental traditional meaning of Christmas, period. The other stuff didn't bother him. And both the strips I've reproduced are set as in a show production, with stage curtain as if satirizing a television production!

Yeah!! I'm hot on the scent now! But I'm also worn out. That first dog took a lot out of me. The bitch bit me bad as I tried to muzzle it!! So I'm just going to lay out what I have here as a work in progress, for now, and pursue the rest in an upcoming post.


Read ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’         and   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


Let Reason Prevail

When Richard Dawkins blessed the atheist buses rolling out of London's central depot, the word "probably" didn't faze him at all. "There probably is no God," announced those buses via placards pasted to their sides, "Now get on and enjoy life" He defended the clunky wording here. "If we say 'there's definitely no God' can't say that," he waffled. Actually, it's British Truth in Advertising law that wouldn't permit the more straightforward statement, and he, Dawkins, law-abiding to the core, I'm sure, acquiesced.

But I write from America, a land whose people are a curious mix of gunslinger and crybaby. And....let us not mince words here....our atheists are better than their atheists. You're not going to catch our atheists going weak at the knees - sniveling up to us with a namby-pamby "probably." No! When our atheists posted a sign on the Illinois State Capitol grounds, it was to proclaim:

"At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Any wimpy "probably?" Not on your life! British atheists should be ashamed of themselves. A bunch of  wusses - make no mistake!
The American atheist sign was smack dab next to a Christmas tree and uncomfortably close to a Nativity Scene - you know, Jesus in a manger and the three wise men bearing gifts. It made local politician William Kelly hopping mad, and he tried to tear down the sign (with the cameras running?), but Capitol police chased him off. Free speech, you know.
Now....what is it about this atheist billboard that rankles? It's not a matter of accuracy. Other than its conclusion, which is opinion, not fact, its tenets are more accurate than those of the Nativity scene.

After all, religion certainly can affect people in the way the sign says - it comes in many brands and flavors. Moreover, December 21st is the winter solstice, whereas December 25th is not Christ's birthday. Shepherds are not going to be sleeping outdoors with their flocks that time of year, as the Bible says they were. Moreover, Herod is not going to require his rebellious Jewish subjects to travel to the towns of their birth in the dead of winter. These matters are common knowledge. Jesus may have been born in early autumn, but he certainly was not born Dec 25. It was some slick Roman politician, trying to merge then-apostate Christianity with conventional Roman life who got the bright idea that the birthday of the sun, the Dec 25th Saturnalia, should also be the birthday of the Son! Cool!! Talk about clever marketing!
By the time the Nativity Scene's "wise men" (magi) showed up with presents, the child was two, long out of the stable. They were supposed to report Jesus' whereabouts to Herod, who intended to have the child killed, since the last thing he wanted was a newborn "King of the Jews" amidst his surly subjects. But the wise men fled the other way and Herod, furious, had all the 2-year olds in Bethlehem put to death, figuring one of them, surely, would be this toddler king. Jesus parents were a step ahead of him, though....they'd fled into Egypt. *

No, its not the supporting details that rankle about that atheist sign.  What is it? Could it be that, in advancing "reason" as a cure-all, those atheists presume to have a monopoly on it? Partly.
Am I wrong in thinking that when people say they want reason to prevail, they really just want everyone to come around to their own opinion - an opinion which to them, invariably, is reason personified? Consider the role "reason" might play in the latest diplomatic spat between Britain and China. The Chinese have just executed a British citizen for drug trafficking in their country, the first such execution since the 1950's. But the Brits had wanted him spared, owing to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. They'd lobbied hard for that outcome.
When they didn't get it, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown cried: "I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms, and am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted......I am particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken." But China would have none of it. "Nobody has the right to speak ill of China's judicial sovereignty," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusations. We urge the British side to mend its errors and avoid damaging China-British relations."
What we are dealing with are different cultural attitudes towards social policy, criminal conduct, mental illness, personal responsibility, individual rights, and drug use. These are values. I defy you to tell me what "reason" dictates with regard to the interplay between them. For the most part, the two citizenries lined up with the viewpoints of their respective governments. Is "reason" only to be found among one or the other population? If so, which one? Actually, it was China that played the "reason" card first. "We hope that the British side can view this matter rationally," Jiang said. Why didn't the Brits think of enshrouding their plea in rationality? Too late now. China beat them to it, and now the Brits are, by default, irrational.

Yet, even that isn't it in its entirety. In fact, I think it is no more than a contributing point. No, that winter solstice sign rankles for other reasons, as well.

Maybe its the crassness of plunking it right next to the Nativity Scene, as if it, too, represented a message of hope. For the Nativity Scene, even if poorly understood, even if misportrayed, even if represented by charletans, still represents hope to countless millions of people that this life, so full of hardship, is not all there is. Now, if there was to be an Atheist Scene, and not just a sign, would it not have to be a fellow in his coffin? You are telling the impoverished and disadvantaged, forever punted about and trod upon by human agencies, that not only is this life rough - it is also all they are ever going to get. Atheism may be attractive and trendy to the young and monied, but it sure is a downer to those poor and hungry and abused. They're to get the warm and fuzzies over "reason prevailing?" I don't think so.
Yeah. that's it. That's what rankles most.

Look, if you believe it, you believe it. It's not holding the notion that annoys me. It's heralding it as if were some sort of great news, worthy of the Births column, and not the Obituaries.

[Edit: this is the reason]
*In the meanwhile, here's what those Nativity Scenes don't tell you with regard to Jesus and the Wise Men, as found at Matt 2:1-23:  (NIV) 


After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

"A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."


Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash






Yes, Virginia, You've Come a Long Way Baby

Virginia O’Hanlon, eight years old, wanted to know about Santa Claus, so she asked her dad. He dodged the question, perhaps uncertain whether it was really such a hot idea to lie to his own child. Instead, he suggested she write the newspaper.

Editorial page      The New York Sun      September 21, 1897

Dear Editor:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Signed Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong……
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. …..
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. ……
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

What a cute answer! It tells the true meaning of Christmas and Santa Claus and so forth. Syrupy folks have gushed over it for a hundred years, but two fundamental points should not be lost sight of, lest we all drown in sentimental slop.

1. Virginia asked to be told the truth.

2.  The paper lied to her.

To be sure, it wasn’t a bald-faced, flat-out, self-serving lie, like when that miser Tom Pearlsandswine told his kid that the jingle jangle of the ice cream truck was really the Devil coming. No, this lie was merely a white lie, and served as the framework for conveying transcendent symbolism on wonder, generosity, imagination, joy, etc, etc. It’s a great answer for adults. But children don’t pick up on symbolism. To an eight year old, it's a lie.

Indeed, even Pearlsandswine’s smart aleck answer was never meant to be taken seriously. It was said in obvious good humor, and the blockhead was amazed to find, years later, that his son believed it for the longest time.

All this brings to mind the sad saga of Sally Claptwaddle, who also asked her parents, when young, if Santa was real. The parents assured her that he was. There were some kids down the street, however, who told Sally the truth.

When she lost her baby teeth, her parents told her that there was a tooth fairy who would leave some cash under her pillow. The kids down the street told her the truth.

When Easter came, her parents told her about the Easter Bunny….a generous rabbit who would fill your basket with chocolate eggs. The kids down the street told her the truth.

Sally reached adolescence and her responsible parents told her about sex.

But she‘d never gotten a straight answer from her folks. It was always nonsense. The kids down the street, on the other hand, had never been wrong. And so, with regard to sex, they had a different take, and the boys among them offered to demonstrate. Sally grew up hating men, though later got considerable revenge when she landed a job with the GPS industry.    

Of course, this all happened to Sally, not Virginia. Virginia lived in a different age. A more secure age, an age in which the consequences of white lies were not so severe.


Santa, the concept:  [a man who] stay[s] up all night distributing presents to children of doubtful deservedness. There is a point where altruism becomes sick.      The Twelve Terrors of Christmas, John Updike  




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash