Carl Jung, Job, and the Holocaust

I've said nice things about Carl Jung on this blog before. For example:

“The next time I need my head examined, that’s the kind of guy I’ll seek out, rather than some modern-day critical type who declares: 'first thing we have to do is get rid of this nutcake religion!'”

Not only does Jung, unlike most of his colleagues, acknowledge that there is a spiritual side of things, but he maintains that the spiritual side is the more genuine, the more real, the more 'true.' The “statements of the conscious mind,” he says, “may easily be snares and delusions, lies, or arbitrary opinions, but this is certainly not true of statements of the soul.” However, these latter statements “always go over our heads because they point to realities that transcend consciousness.”

The “inferior” statements of the conscious mind, which initially seem persuasive, but in reality may prove to be “snares. delusions, lies, or arbitrary opinions,” are not limited to the conscious mind of the individual, but include entire populations, movements, nations, and eras. Doesn't history continually bear this out? Nor do I think for one second that the modern day “age of science” will remedy this woe. Science gives us iPods and iPads, but doesn't teach us how to get along with each other.

I like Jung. I like his writings on extroversion and introversion. I like his analogy on how the perspective of the rising sun differs from that of the setting sun. I like his work on personality types. Did you know his insights are the driving force behind those ubiquitous vocational tests that counselors foist upon us, in which you answer nosy-type personal questions, and they tell you what you ought to do for a living? 

Moreover, you have to be careful critiquing Jung, since he is a Great Man, and you're not. If he writes something spiritual with which you disagree, upon what basis do you disagree? “The Bible SAYS what it MEANS and MEANS what it SAYS!"? Be careful. You don't want to come across as some Bible-thumping redneck.

But sometimes, even with Jung, a guy has to stand up and say “the emperor has no clothes!” Such is the case when Jung starts analyzing the Book of Job, which he does in  Answer to Job, published in 1952.

Now, you have to know going in that, if Jung believes in spiritual things, that does not mean he is believes the Bible. Rather, he maintains that certain spiritual legends and myths are universal; they are to be found in our “collective unconscious.” Furthermore, they pop up continually.....wisps and ghosts and various places, the Bible being but one. Now, I don't know why one need take this viewpoint; it seems to me but a manifestation of the “we are wise and learned adults....far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve...what's next, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?” syndrome. The Bible itself, far more simply, accounts for the fact that diverse religions, peoples, and cultures share common myths and legends: they all have a common origin and share a common spiritual past, as described in Genesis chapter 11. But that explanation requires acquiescence to “Adam and Eve,” for which we have grown “far too clever.”

You remember the story of Job, don't you? He's set up as an example....a test case, if you will, to settle the question of whether man can keep integrity to God under adversity. Satan, who appears only in the first two chapters of the book, charges that he will not:

 “Skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as
 his bone and his flesh [and see] whether he will not curse you to your very face.”

 It's a challenge. God takes him up on it, and gives Satan permission to raise all manner of hell. In short order, Job loses everything he has. Too, he is struck by a painful sickness; chapter after chapter describes his suffering. Job's three pals come to visit, supposedly, to comfort him. As time goes on, though, the comfort turns into accusation. “You know,” they point out, “God doesn't punish people for nothing. If you've fallen on hard times, it must be your own fault. Yes, you may have seemed upright outwardly, but God knows a scoundrel when he sees one! He knows your true worthlessness and so he's “settled the score.” They merely hint this at first, of course, but as Job protests his innocence, they become more and more strident, till toward the end, they're fairly hurling epithets at the poor fellow. Just what a guy needs when he's on his sickbed.

Now, Job is unaware of the Satanic challenge. He hasn't the least notion why he is suffering, nor does he have any indication that it will end. But he does know that he's done nothing to “deserve” it. Goaded on by these false friends, he gets increasingly heated declaring his innocence, hinting at first, then hinting more strongly, finally outright accusing God of viciousness. Yes, if he could confront God face to face, he'd show Him who's in the right, who's moral! He'd argue his was irrefutable.....and God would have no choice but to back down! Job really lets fly under intense suffering and the provocation of his pals. Who hasn't been there before: doing something we would never do otherwise but for the goadings of others?

Toward the end of the book, he gets his wish! God does speak to him! But not to be reproved by him. Rather, God poses a long series of questions to Job that serve to readjust his thinking. Afterwards, health and possessions are restored....Job has successfully answered Satan's challenge....a challenge he never knew existed in the first place!


Now, there's a lot of things that annoy me about Jung's commentary on the book of Job. In fact, almost all of it does. But for now, I'll focus on only one or two. Maybe I'll revisit the subject later.

Why does Jung have to put the worst possible spin on everything? For example, with regard to when God manifests himself to Job, Jung writes:

“For seventy-one verses he proclaims his world-creating power to his miserable victim, who sits in ashes and scratches his sores with potsherds, and who by now has had more than enough of superhuman violence. Job has absolutely no need of being impressed by further exhibitions of this power.....Altogether, he pays so little attention to Job's real situation that one suspects him of having an ulterior motive.....His thunderings at Job so completely miss the point that one cannot help but see how much he is occupied with himself.”

But isn't it Jung who completely misses the point? Why not phrase matters as the Watchtower does (10/15/2010, pg 4)? “During his time of suffering, Job struggled with despair and became somewhat self-centered. He lost sight of the bigger issues. But Jehovah lovingly helped him to broaden his viewpoint. By asking Job over 70 different questions, none of which Job could answer, Jehovah emphasized the limitations of Job's understanding. Job reacted in a humble way, adjusting his viewpoint.”

There! Isn't that better? I mean, before you go telling God how to run the universe, ought you not be able to answer at least one of the seventy questions? Issues were swirling about which Job knew nothing. Isn't that always the case with we humans on earth?

“For the true God is in the heavens, but you are on the earth. That is why your words should prove to be few.”      Eccles 5:2

And don't carry on about God bullying Job while he is in abject misery, as though holding a captive tortured audience through a boring lecture! An appearance of God will always make your day. It completely overrides everything else. Besides, God is shortly to restore his health.

Furthermore, Carl Jung presents the entire matter as though it were a friendly wager between God and the Devil, serving no purpose other than their amusement, treating as nothing the intense suffering Job goes through! Why does he do that? It's Jung who completely misses the point that Job is a test case to establish that man can keep integrity to God under the most extreme conditions.

For, the fact is, people do suffer intensely at times. And when that occurs, some are inclined to blame God. Should they? In its opening chapters, the Bible spells out how mankind came to be in it's present sorry state. In its closing chapters, it spells out how matters will ultimately resolve. (Abundant) supporting details are in between. Make a search of these things , and you'll find why God is not to blame for human suffering.

Now, in chapter XVII of Answer to Job, Carl Jung observes regarding evil: “We have experienced things so unheard of and so staggering that the question of whether such things are in any way reconcilable with the idea of a good God has become burningly topical. It is no longer a problem for experts in theological seminaries, but a universal religious nightmare....” Carl Jung wrote this book in 1952. What unheard of and staggering evil do you think he had foremost in his mind? Take a guess. Hint: the Nuremberg trials, which brought justice to some Holocaust Nazi criminals, took place in 1945-46.

Perhaps the most sadistic example of mass suffering in history occurred in Nazi Germany a mere decade before Jung wrote his book. Entire populations were herded into concentration camps, where many were gassed, starved, beaten, or otherwise worked to death. Twelve million died. The ones who survived left as walking skeletons. When General Dwight Eisenhower liberated Germany at the close of World War II, the mayor of a certain German town pleaded ignorance. Enraged, Eisenhower made him tour the nearest camp, he and the entire town's population. Next day, the mayor hung himself.

Among those imprisoned were Jehovah's Witnesses. They were unlike all other groups in that they alone had power to free themselves. All they had to do was renounce their faith and pledge cooperation with the Nazis. Only a handful complied, a fact which, 70 years later, I still find staggering.

From the Watchtower of 2/1/92:

'In concentration camps, the Witnesses were identified by small purple triangles on their sleeves and were singled out for special brutality. Did this break them? Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim noted that they “not only showed unusual heights of human dignity and moral behavior, but seemed protected against the same camp experience that soon destroyed persons considered very well integrated by my psychoanalytic friends and myself.”'

Why didn't the well-integrated psychoanalytic-approved prisoners hold up? Probably because they read too much Jung and not enough Watchtower!! Not Jehovah's Witnesses! They weren't hamstrung by having been nourished on Jungian theology. Job meant something to them. It wasn't there simply to generate wordy theories and earn university degrees. A correct appreciation of it afforded them power, and enabled them to bear up under the greatest evil of our time, a mass evil entirely analogous to the trials of Job! They applied the book! And in doing so, they proved the book's premise: man can maintain integrity to God under the most severe provocation. Indeed, some are on record as saying they would not have traded the experience for anything, since it afforded them just that opportunity. (another fact I find staggering)

So Carl Jung, in Holocaust's aftermath, stumbled about trying to explain how such evil could possibly occur, and could do no better than endorse the view already prevailing among intellectual Great Ones that the God of the Old Testament is mean, whereas the God of the New Testament is nice. He ought to have spoken to Jehovah's Witnesses. The latter didn't experience the Holocaust from the comfort of their armchairs. Those in Nazi lands lived through it, due in large part to their accurate appreciation for the Book of Job.


Tom Irregardless and Me            No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Watchtower, the Church, and the Nazis

Wowwheee! Did this guy ever get pilloried!
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose mother survived the death camp at Auschwitz, said yesterday that only Jews persecuted during the Nazi reign should be honored at a Holocaust memorial in Brooklyn.
Hikind said even though 5 million people from other groups -- including gays, the disabled and Jehovah's Witnesses -- were killed along with 6 million Jewish people during the Holocaust, the memorial in Sheepshead Bay should be for Jews only.
He said he is not against a memorial to honor the other groups -- as long as it is somewhere else.
"These people are not in the same category as Jewish people with regards to the Holocaust. It is so vastly different. You cannot compare political prisoners with Jewish victims."    New York Post, June 2009
This blogger, for example, went so far as to bestow upon the Assemblyman his "Idiot of the Day" award! (I didn't check to see who the year's other 364 idiots were.)

This one called him a "jerk" and a "hypocrite."

This one called him (ahem) "a real dick."

I suppose I should join in the chorus, but somehow I can't get my heart into it. I know where this fellow is coming from. Should he not be given a free pass on account of his mother alone? Oh, I suppose if this memorial is publicly funded, like the Holocaust Museum, you should include all groups. But, if you identify with one of the groups, as Hikind does, I see his point. You can't compare political prisoners with Jewish victims.
As it turns out, I also identify with one of the groups, in fact, I identify with two of them. Everybody knows that I've worked closely with the developmentally disabled. I've written posts about them here, here, and here. They are my people. Life hasn't dealt them a very good hand, and perhaps if I had been dealt the same hand, I would not have played it as well. So if they (or their advocates) were to put up a memorial for their disabled holocaust victims, it wouldn't bother me for a moment that Gypsies weren't included, or gays, or Jews, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or political prisoners. You really can't compare them with these other groups. True, as one blogger pointed out, they were all murdered, but - from the Bible's point of view- all who have ever died have been "murdered," by Adam at least, if not also by some more immediate villain. Why not put up a memorial for all dead people and be done with it?
Of course, the other group with whom I identify is Jehovah's Witnesses. Here again, to extend the Assemblyman's reasoning, you cannot compare Jehovah's Witnesses with Jews or Gysies, or Poles, or gays, or the disabled, or anyone else. Unique among all holocaust victims, Jehovah's Witnesses were able to write their ticket out at any time. All they had to do was sign a statement renouncing their faith and pledging support to the Nazi regime. Only a handful obliged - a fact that seventy years later I still find staggering.
In the face of those who would deny the Holocaust, Jews are ever vigilant to keep the record clear and unambiguous. See Prime Minister Netanyahu's address before the U.N. 64th General Assembly, for example. Wow! Did he ever pin their ears back! (Unfortunately, did anyone listen?) Even watering down the Holocaust record makes them bristle. I've no problem with that. I understand it. We do the same.
There are any number of serial gripers on the internet who are alarmed at any favorable mention of Jehovah's Witnesses, and who immediately attempt to negate such praise. Some of these characters strive with all their might to denigrate Jehovah's Witnesses' stand during the Holocaust. Of course, this is not easy to do, because the stand is among the most courageous actions of the past century. But they try. Generally, they feign applause for the astounding courage and faith of individual Witnesses, but then take shots at their organization, as if it was entirely separate. Yes, those Witnesses were amazing, they say. Too bad they were sold out by an oppressive, self-serving, uncaring Watchtower central machine.

Man, that steams me!! Any Witness will tell you, it's because, not in spite of, the support and direction of their organization, that they withstood Hitler. Nazi troops overran Watchtower branch offices in lands they controlled; their occupants were arrested and imprisoned alike with the rank and file. Meanwhile, the mainline churches refrained from criticizing the Nazis, lest there be reprisals. "Why should we quarrel?" Hitler (correctly) boasted. "The parsons....will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes." [The Voice of Destruction, Hermann Rauschning, 1940, pp. 50, 53.] The major churches received large state subsidies throughout the war.
Not so with Jehovah's Witnesses. After the war, Genevieve de Gaulle, niece of latter French President General Charles de Gaule wrote: "I have true admiration for them. They ....have endured very great sufferings for their beliefs. . . . All of them showed very great courage and their attitude commanded eventually even the respect of the S.S. They could have been immediately freed if they had renounced their faith. But, on the contrary, they did not cease resistance, even succeeding in introducing books and tracts into the camp.”
Would that Catholics and Lutherans, who comprised 95% of the German population, were similarly "sold out" by their respective churches. The Hitler movement would have collapsed!
After the war, Catholic scholar and educator Gordon Zahn examined the records and, diligent though he was, could find just one among 32 million German Catholics who conscientiously refused to serve in Hitler's armies. He found another 6 in Austria. Why so few? He reports that his extensive interviews with people who knew these men produced the “flat assurance voiced by almost every informant that any Catholic who decided to refuse military service would have received no support whatsoever from his spiritual leaders."
Instead, Pope Pius XII, in 1939, directed chaplains on both sides of the war to have confidence in their respective military bishops, viewing the war as "a manifestation of the will of a heavenly Father who always turns evil into good," and “as fighters under the flags of their country to fight also for the Church.”*
*quoted from the December 8, 1939 pastoral letter, Asperis Commoti Anxietatibus, and published in Seelsorge und kirchliche Verwaltung im Krieg, Konrad Hoffmann, editor, 1940, p. 144.
One might imagine that, chastened by their shameful WWI record, the clergy would have resolved to do better come the next crisis. Didn't happen. See the article Pope Pius XII and the Nazis—A Fresh Viewpoint, from the Feb 22 1974, Awake magazine (from which most of this post's detailed quotes are taken). No, it was not Jehovah's Witnesses who were sold out by their organization.
Now, seventy years later, along comes Ragoth- good old analytical Ragoth, who can always be depended upon for substantial comments - Ragoth, meaning no harm whatsoever, who "would also point out the Confessing Church during World War II, a la Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Granted, most of them were put to death, Bonhoeffer for spying for England and being involved with the plot to assassinate Hitler, but they stood their ground in opposition to the Nazi take-over of the German church. Now, also granted, they didn't take a pacifist stance. Bonhoeffer and Barth originally started that way, but Bonhoeffer became convinced that as evil a thing as it would be, he would have to suffer the consequences in the afterlife to help the Brits, and, eventually, to become involved in the assassination plot.....they were a relatively small group, but, I just wanted to throw in there were some other religious groups openly and constantly opposed to Hitler and the Nazi party, even in the face of death threats and directly against the rest of the churches out of which they came from."
Ragoth has a point. Not everyone in the German churches supported Hitler. Perhaps 10% of German Protestants took a stand against the Nazis. Doubtless Catholics as well. The point is, though, that they had to defy their church to do it. They were an embarrassment to their respective churches, from whom they received "no support whatsoever." So some of them banded together into schisms of their own - such as the Confessing Church. Others acted independently as renegades. These were the "political prisoners" mentioned before, no doubt. I have nothing but admiration for these persons. Ragoth is absolutely right to recognize and honor them. They were extraordinary people.
But not everyone is extraordinary. Most people are quite ordinary. It's true with Jehovah's Witnesses. Some are extraordinary, but most are just regular folk. Jehovah's Witnesses did not have to stand against their own religious organization or form a new one because theirs had betrayed its values. We stood against Hitler largely because of our religious organization. Those others stood against Hitler in spite of theirs.
People benefit from organization, even though "organization" has become practically a dirty word today. Even the minimal organization of family is too much for many these days. You should hear how often the terms "brain-washing" and "mind control" are applied to us. But without leadership from a genuine principled organization, only 10% of Germans were able to resist the greatest atrocity of all time. With leadership from a principled organization, virtually all were able to resist. If there really is a God, why would he not be able to provide some sort of organization so that believers are not tossed about like seaweed on the surf?
No, I don't want to hear bellyaching about the manipulative Watchtower. It's nonsense. It comes only from those who despise all of Jehovah's Witnesses. After the fall of France in 1940, the Vatican’s Cardinal Eugène Tisserant wrote to a friend that “Fascist ideology and Hitlerism have transformed the consciences of the young, and those under thirty-five are willing to commit any crime for any purpose ordered by their leader.” It's an extreme case, but it illustrates how people are. They run in herds, overwhelmed by national, economic, social or class concerns of the day. The then-current generation ever imagines they are the first to break the trend. When the dust settles, though, they're seen to be subject to the same laws of human nature as everyone else. It takes a loyal God-centered organization to cut through the murk, and keep moral principles ever before its people, as happened in WWII and as happens today.

This excerpt comes from the United States Holocaust Museum Memorial, regarding Jehovah's Witnesses.


Tom Irregardless and Me        No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Heart of a Lion, Courage of a Warrior

When someone comes along and tells his story better than you ever could, you don't try to tell it for him. Especially when he's a holocaust survivor. Especially when he's 103 years old. 103! Leopond Engleitner is the world's oldest known male holocaust survivor. He's one of our people - one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

At 103, he still travels widely. Here, he's on the California leg of his "Unbroken Will" tour. He's a "happy boy" who has "no time to die." And, in a nod to Governor Schwartzenegger's Terminator days, he concludes with the promise "I'll be back!" A man with the heart of a lion and the courage of a warrior, says the reporter:

You can search the internet and find a lot on this fellow. The Watchtower magazine carried his experiences in their 5/1/05 issue. And he has a website of his own.

[Edit 2/23/17] Englieghtner died. He was 107 years old. But California should not relax. He will be back. It will just have to be in the new system.



Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Knocking Highlights A Defender of God

Joel Engardio's documentary Knocking features two Jehovah's Witness families, the Knights and the Kemplers. Joseph Kempler gives the most compelling reason for serving Jehovah I've ever heard.

As a teenager, Kempler was shuttled though six Nazi concentration camps and survived them all. He was interred as a Jew and freed as a Jew. While confined, though, he observed Jehovah's Witnesses. After the war he became one.

"It's difficult to speak to Jews," he says. "They say I became a traitor. Six million Jews died and I joined the other side.

"I was among those survivors who felt that God was really responsible and guilty. He was the one who permitted the Holocaust. So we didn't fail him, we didn't do anything wrong. He failed us. And this is  a very common belief.

"God is being maligned and misunderstood and in many different ways looked down upon as being uncaring or dead or whatever, and there are all kinds of distortions as to what God is and who he is. To be able to speak up in his defense....what a powerful turnaround from somebody where I was to become a defender of God...what  a wonderful privilege this is."

It is a privilege. Mr. Kempler recognized that and grabbed hold of it, even in the aftermath of suffering that turned millions away from God, millions who could not fathom how God could possibly permit such a monstrous thing. Yet accurate Bible knowledge conveys the reason for both suffering and persecution, how God will ultimately work matters out, and how his worshippers should respond in the meantime. Armed with such knowledge, Jehovah's Witnesses survived what was likely the greatest evil in history, with faith and dignity intact,

What is remarkable about the account is how so many people today go the other way in the face of far less provocation. Mr. Kempler saw, in the holocaust aftermath, an opportunity to defend God. But people today, even some of our own people, sever all ties with God for reasons no more substantial than personal inconvenience, having somehow lost all ability to conceive of any life beyond the here and now. Such is the power of a materialistic age where self is the focus.

God being where he is and we being where we are, and we in distinctly imperfect form, one might imagine him keeping us at arm's length. Instead, we're told that we can serve him shoulder to shoulder, as if he considers us equals!

For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.    Zeph 3:9

and that it's possible to be his friend:

and the scripture was fulfilled which says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” and he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend."   Jas 2:23

Inherent in defending God is speaking about him. You cannot read the gospels (literally "good news," Mark is the easiest; it moves the quickest) or Acts (the early history of Christianity's spread - "acts" of the apostles - things they did) without sensing that the ideas expressed were not to remain private but were to be offered to others. So speak Jehovah's Witnesses do.

The Bible consistently likens spiritual things to water. Water is healthy when it moves and stagnant when it does not. If Christians take it in through reading, meditation & congregation meetings, then their public ministry serves to keep in flowing. People have lots of views today, and, as a way of proclaiming "truce," a popular notion is that religion is too "private" to discuss, at least, to discuss with strangers. Plainly, JWs don't feel that way. To be sure, to keep "pushing" something upon someone who's made it clear they don't want it is ill-mannered. (though that doesn't necessarily preclude a later call. People change.) But the other extreme, labeling faith as too personal to even discuss, is not in keeping with the nature of Christianity.

In spite of their public visiting, Jehovah's Witnesses are a "live and let live" religion. Their "weapons" are ideas only. When you tell them "no," they go away. Sure, they try to be persuasive, but it's still only words. They don't afterward attempt to legislate their beliefs into law, so as to force people to live their way, much less resort to violence. 

To be a defender of God is a rare privilege indeed.



More on Knocking here and here


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


The Green Cross and the Sewer

There is this doctor...rats, I misplaced the quote....who remarked that blood is "dirty as stool." That's differs from its normal description: "life-giving."

Of course, it is both. The red and white cells, especially the red that carry oxygen, account for the "life-giving" part. But blood also carries away cellular wastes. Thus, the bloodstream doubles as a sewer. That's okay if you're speaking of your own blood, but it gives you pause for thought if you're thinking someone else's blood, as in transfusion!

Blood banks get better and better at screening. Still, every so often we hear of some new disease or contamination passed on through blood transfusion. In the late 1980s and 1990s, it came out that the Japanese "Green Cross," a pharmaceutical company [Japanese name: Midori Juchi] with $1 billion in assets, ignored government standards for AIDS screening and sold infected blood to medical facilities in the U.S, Japan, and South Korea. 2000 people ended up with transfusion-induced AIDS. Of course, they sued, and in the consequent publicity, the Green Cross' surprising and unsavory past came to light.

The company was the brainchild of Hideo Futaki, Masaji Kitano, and Ryoichi Naito, three principle architects of Japan's WWII medical experiments program. Dubbed Unit 731, hundreds of prisoners perished in sadistic experiments (without anesthesia) that rivaled any deeds from Nazi Joseph Mendele, the Doctor of Death.  Unit 731, located way out there in middle-of-nowhere Mongolia, also brewed plague, cholera, and so forth, released it into the surrounding population to see what would give Japan a "leg up" in germ warfare. Daniel Barenblatt, author of A plague Upon Humanity: The Hidden History of Japan's Biological Warfare Program, reports hundreds of thousands died. The exact number, he remarks, may never be known, since the victims were peasants who had no idea they were being deliberately exterminated, and thus kept no records. They just thought they were getting sick. Why would they suspect it was deliberate?

Among the experiments performed in the Unit 731 Mongolian prison itself were animal to human blood transfusions. Naturally, all the expendable victims died. After the war, however, Futaki, Kitano, and Naito cut an immunity deal with the United States victors to avoid war crimes prosecution. later, they put their expertise to good use when they founded the Japan Blood Plasma Company, which later changed its name to Green Cross. The Japan Blood Plasma company made major money supplying blood to the U. S. Army for use during the Korean War. Thus, the founders of one of the world's principle blood banks are among the world's great mass murderers!

The Green Cross still thrives, having outlived it's long-dead founders (who were never brought to justice). It changed its name twice and, in 2001, was merged into the huge Mitsubishi conglomerate. Extensive research has, thus far, uncovered no evidence that Joseph Mengele, the Nazi doctor of death, ever started a blood bank like his Japanese counterparts.


Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Pope Benedict and Maxwell Friend

They think they've found the tomb of the apostle Paul. It's been unearthed from beneath the altar of Rome's second-largest basilica, St. Paul's Outside the Walls Basilica. It dates from 390 CE or before. Tradition has it that Paul was beheaded during 1rst century persecution of Christians.

Hence, at the end of "Prayer Week for Christian Unity," Pope Benedict and three other churchmen, a riot of luxuriant color amidst matching surroundings, are seen peering over the tomb. Yet if Paul were there in death as he had been in life (the tomb hasn't yet been opened) he would seem out of place. His clothing would be course and drab. His hands would be used calloused and blistered.

It's hard to think otherwise based on what the New Testament tells us of Paul's life. When he traveled, as he did on three missionary tours, he roughed it.

Are they ministers of Christ? I reply [with regard to local "luminaries," softies, who were trying to make themselves prominent in the Corinthian congregation] like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: in labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in blows to an excess, in near-deaths often. By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from [my own] race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness.     2 Corinthians 11:23-27

While on the road, he worked to support himself.

After these things he departed from Athens and came to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus who had recently come from Italy, and Priscilla his wife, because of the fact that Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. So he went to them and on account of being of the same trade he stayed at their home, and they worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. However, he would give a talk in the synagogue every sabbath and would persuade Jews and Greeks.     Acts 18:1-4

Though, as a full time minister, he might reasonably have lived off his ministry, he did not do so, so as not to abuse his authority.

If we have sown spiritual things to you, is it something great if we shall reap things for the flesh from you? If other men partake of this authority over you, do we not much more so? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this authority, but we are bearing all things, in order that we might not offer any hindrance to the good news about the Christ. Do you not know that the men performing sacred duties eat the things of the temple, and those constantly attending at the altar have a portion for themselves with the altar? In this way, too, the Lord ordained for those proclaiming the good news to live by means of the good news.

But I have not made use of a single one of these [provisions]. Indeed, I have not written these things that it should become so in my case, for it would be finer for me to die than—no man is going to make my reason for boasting void! If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news! If I perform this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it against my will, all the same I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What, then, is my reward? That while declaring the good news I may furnish the good news without cost, to the end that I may not abuse my authority in the good news.


As a Ministerial Servant, I was tending to some duties just before the meeting when I heard an unmistakable voice followed by a greeting that spelled doom:

"Brother Friend! What a surprise! What brings you here?" It was Maxwell Friend, from the Governing Body! And what did bring him here, far from his home turf? It turns out he was chums with an elderly couple from the sister congregation, and he was in town to visit. Friend's voice was very distinctive, easily recognized from recorded dramas.

Of course, normally this greeting would not spell doom at all. I would be happy to meet him. But I had a teaching part on the evening's program, a Q & A session, and I hadn't really prepared to the extent I would have liked. I wasn't unprepared, you understand, just not prepared enough to be brimming with confidence. "Great," I thought, "just great! Here I'm going to show myself an inept ass before one of the Governing Body!"

But I'd done these parts before, and this one went fine. Brother Friend sat in the audience just like anyone else and raised his hand to comment just like anyone else. I called on him. He made some brief remark just like anyone else.

Among Jehovah's Witnesses there is no distinctive garb nor any segregation for those who take the lead. Understand that, as a member of the Governing Body, Brother Friend would correspond rank-wise with the Pope's inner circle of Cardinals. [yes, yes, I know, we don't really think of "ranks," we think of ones serving, but you get my drift] Yet here he was indistinguishable among brothers of the congregation, obediently answering my Q & A questions!


Maxwell Friend came from Germany and he was a Holocaust survivor. And since this post began with an observation of Pope Benedict, it is irresistible to contrast the two. Benedict, as a youngster, was a member of the Hitler youth and later served in the German military. Of course, I write this not to denigrate Benedict, but rather to elevate Friend. Benedict was a kid at the time, and without a strong support system [which, alas, the Church was not], he could hardly have been expected to refuse Nazi cooperation. Nobody says he embraced it wholeheartedly. I'm sure he did not. He later deserted from the military, to his considerable credit.

Nonetheless, we sure have some irony. If visitors from another planet were to play "match game," surely they would connect the guy who cooperated with that despicable regime, albeit as a vulnerable youth under duress, with the future governing body member of a derided, fringe nutcake religion, while the fellow who refused any fellowship with those felons would certainly be the one later to lead the world's largest and most prominent church denomination.

But they'd be wrong.

And in this age of "victimization," it's only a matter of time till cooperation with the Nazis is seen as a growing, learning experience, whereas outright refusal is just pigheaded and impractical, the expected course of a closed-minded religious the odd tradition we have today of converting a plus into a minus and vice versa.


“All those who suffered persecution because of their religious or political beliefs and who were willing to accept death rather than submit deserve our great respect, such respect as is hard to express in words. Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only religion that completely refused to accede to the demands of the Hitler regime: They did not raise their hand to give the Hitler salute. They refused to swear allegiance to ‘Führer and State,’ just as they refused to perform military and labor service. And their children did not join the Hitler Youth Movement.” Peter Straub, president of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg - from a speech made on the 58th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.


[Edit  11/3/11   A brother emailed me to say that, although Max Friend had been in Bethel forever and ever, and had done many things, he was never on the governing body.  Naw....can't be, I said. But then I checked and....sure enough, it was true. Where did I ever get this idea in my head? Gasp.....does this mean I could also be wrong on other things?]


Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Unit 731 and the Angel of Death

That Sam Harris keeps coming around, either he or his buddies, preaching that all would be ecstasy if only we could ban religion and devote the world to atheists and science. I'm not buying it and neither should you. The vilest deeds in human history have been carried out by atheists and scientists.

Admittedly, it's a challenge to rank vile deeds. There are many excellent contenders, for example Iraq, Darfor, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Malawi,  and northern  Ireland. But in our task or ranking bloodbaths we must keep in mind several contributing factors, and how their presence or absence can aid us in our ranking task. It is just as homicides can be ranked for vileness....premeditated at the top and manslaughter at the bottom.... the latter partly determined by permanent or temporary insanity, depression, post traumatic stress, medication side effects, etc, etc. And so with most slaughters worldwide we may allow for mob action hot tempers, civil war, desperation from poverty, miscommunication, ignorance, reaction to oppression, and so forth. Doesn't excuse the mayhem, of course, but it does help explain it.

There have been genocidal campaigns in which none of these softening factors are present, thus taking evil to a higher level. You might argue that the Pol Pot Cambodian [atheists] slaughter is in that camp. Certainly the German Holocaust of World War II, and its even more hideous escalation, the "medical" experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele (the Angel of Death) and associates. These are sickening to read of. Google the topic if you must.

A parallel WWII Japanese program existed, experiments with the added aim of  develping biological weapons, under the depraved oversight of Dr. Shiro Ishii. Known as Unit 731, the program was based in Mongolia. Ethnic Chinese were the primary victims, but also Koreans, Russians, ethnic Japanese and even some American POWs. In the quest for weapons, bubonic plague, typhoid, anthrax and cholera was cultivated and released on the populace, and it is thought that hundreds of thousands perished from such exposure. Hundreds more suffered unspeakably from dehydration, starvation, frostbite, air pressure, animal blood transfusion, and amputation experiments, similar to Mengele's medical experiments. Enthusiasts billed it as "science untethered to morality."

Such campaigns take barbarity to a new level. Poverty plays no part, nor miscommunication, nor emotions boiling over from civil war. There is no mob action. To be sure, World War plays a part, yet these crimes take place far from the front. Quiet moments abound, during which one might stop, reflect, and turn back. Instead, with calm deliberation, perpetrators pushed ahead to commit the most ghastly deeds of all time.

Everyone knows about Nazi atrocities, but few know of the parallel Japanese deeds.  There is a reason. At the end of the war, Japanese scientists offered their knowledge and data to American victors in return for complete immunity. Americans thought it a good deal, lest such data fall into the hands of the Russians, supposedly eager to compensate for not yet having the bomb. Remember, the cold war was just beginning. While many of the German doctors were brought to justice, (excluding Mengele himself) Japanese counterparts were not. Many went on to prosperous and prestigious careers.

Daniel Barenblatt may be the world's foremost expert on Unit 731. His 2003 work A plague Upon Humanity: The Hidden History of Japan's Biological Warfare Program, published by HarperCollins, offers an unflinching account of that evil time, exhaustive yet never sensational. Reading the book requires a strong stomach. Imagine researching and writing it. Mr. Barenblatt devoted himself to doing so when he realized that, some 70 years after the war, the sordid history was still largely unknown, a result of the immunity deal. He describes himself as an extremely sensitive person who thinks something is fundamentally wrong with the world. He says ferreting out the truth put him in non-stop emotional pain.

He comes from an interesting family... one with a conscience. His father, Lloyd Barenblatt, is known to legal historians from the McCarthy era. Barenblatt v United States, (1959) argued before the Supreme Court, tested the powers of Congressional investigation in the light of the First Amendment.  By standing his ground and upholding his conscience, he substantially derailed his academic career.

Others of the family are Jehovah's Witnesses. It is through them that I first learned of the Barenblatt book, and of Unit 731.

Should these inhuman deeds be used as an indictment of science? Obviously, they should not. Science was merely the venue in this history, just as politics and religion are in others. Still, I will keep these examples up my sleeve for the next time that smug Sam Harris comes around. The most vicious offences in history have been in the name of science.


Religion is a Snare and a Racket

Atheist Sam Harris came to town and City! newspaper welcomed him as a born-again would welcome the rapture. His visit was cover story and he apparently did not fail to promote his book. At any rate, a coworker rushed out to buy it and told me all about it the next morning, very impressed.   

Yeah, Tom, you should read what he says about religion! This guy doesn’t pull any punches! He just lays out the facts! All the wars and the hatred and the prejudice….there’s always religion behind it. Terrorists and Crusades and kamikazes….it can’t happen except for religion. You think someone would strap himself to a bomb if they didn’t tell him he would go straight to paradise? He just lays out the facts, Tom. I’m telling, you, religion is dangerous! It’s the biggest force for bloodshed that’s ever been!

Of course, this nettles me, because Jehovah’s Witnesses have said all this for years, only to elicit yawns from this same character so enamored over Sam the atheist. There’s nothing Mr. Harris says about religion that JWs weren’t saying before he was born.

Starting in 1938, the slogan Religion is a Snare and a Racket become synonymous with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The words first appeared on sandwich board signs, paraded by 1000 Witnesses through London streets as part of a campaign to advertise a public address at the Royal Albert Hall. The words captured attention, much of it hostile. It’s almost trendy to badmouth religion today, and many do it, but it required real courage back then.

Yet the words were timely, and proof would come just one year later with the outbreak of World War II. The greatest slaughter in history, it was fought predominantly between nations claiming to be Christian. Religious claims proved no match for national interests. The German population, overwhelmingly Lutheran or Catholic, readily embraced Hitler’s Gestapo and Holocaust. Belt buckles of German soldiers bore the standard inscription “God is With Us.” Religion was indeed, a snare and a racket.

Since some who saw that 1938 procession took Witness marchers for atheists or communists, subsequent processions featured alternating signs bearing the words Serve Christ the King and Live. For many years, it was routine for Jehovah’s Witnesses to advertise conventions in this way.

This message against religion precedes Mr Harris by 70 years, and has the added advantage of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Is it God’s fault that religions do not represent Him faithfully? Especially when He foretold that development?

Religion that is faithful to God can be likened to a faithful wife. Religion unfaithful is likened to an adulterous wife. Religion really unfaithful, religion which ignores God’s Kingdom interests so as to curry favor with human governments, is likened to a harlot, a whore. The book of Revelation (chapter 17 and 18) describes such a woman, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have long identified it with the world empire of false religion….religion that claims faithfulness to God, yet belies that claim through it‘s conduct. Instead, that “woman” embraces every political, social, and apostate fad to come along, at the expense of the Bible’s unchanging message.

Those two chapters of Revelation also foretell that political elements, in time, will turn upon religious elements, bringing them to ruin. So the tract that JWs are right now [Oct, Nov 2006]  giving worldwide distribution, The End of False Religion is Near, is timely.

[Edit: 10/22/11 see also Enemies]


As war fever gripped WWII Germany, not everyone joined in.

“I've always admired [ninth comment] the conviction of Jehovah's Witnesses. They, virtually alone, chose to be persecuted under Hitler when simply pledging allegiance to the Third Reich offered an escape from persecution.”

If more people practiced versions of what the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach and practice, the Holocoust could have been prevented and genocide would scourge the world no more.            Holocaust Politics     John K Roth   (a Jewish survivor of the holocaust)


Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Wheatandweeds Defends Jehovah's Witnesses

Last year that alternative newspaper City! published a cute article (they thought) poking fun at Jehovah’s Witnesses. We weren’t mentioned by name, but the description fit us exactly. Within hours, Tom Wheatandweeds zinged back a knee-jerk response. But it wasn’t enough! He pondered the matter for a day or so and responded again, this time on a more fundamental level. City! did not publish his first letter. They did his second. They’re not bad folks over there, but they get some goofy ideas about God.

Dear City!

Normally City! displays journalistic inquisitiveness, a penchant for accuracy, and a sensitivity toward minorities. When it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, you blithely repeat every slur and derogatory stereotype you hear. To ridicule a subject you understand is one thing. To ridicule one you don’t is beneath City! With respect, the article makes clear that your reporter doesn’t have a clue as to what we’re about. And yet, there is much about Jehovah’s Witnesses that he (she?) would admire, were he aware.

Rights of free speech and assembly that benefit groups of all stripes, including many admired by City! have been largely influenced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. To that end, 46 Supreme Court appearances over the years have resulted in 37 Constitutional precedents clarifying these rights. No other group has appeared more often before the Court. Now that we are in the Patriot Act era, City and others are nervous that basic civil rights are being redefined.  In this charged environment, Watchtower Bible v Stratton, a 2002 victory, continues a tradition of upholding our fundamental right of free speech. One would expect a journalist to celebrate, not ridicule, a group to whom he owes such a debt.

It is not difficult for bland people to get along, but such is not the case for those with strong views. Alas, the all-to-frequent pattern today is for religions to, at best, manipulate governments in an effort to impose their morality on others, and, at worst, engage in terrorist acts. Jehovah’s Witnesses do neither, and are thus an example in peaceful co-existence, even while standing for values many do not embrace. We declare, to the best of our ability, a message we believe to be true. Some people find it so attractive that they join us and adopt our style of living. But we have no desire to force others to live according to our ways. Our arena is that of ideas. We fancy ourselves neither judges nor enforcers. God can sort it all out. We don’t feel the need to.

Normally, a group representing non-violence would enjoy City!’s profoundest respect. Why is this not the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses? The premiere example of our peaceful stand under trial remains Germany during the Hitler years, during which thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were among the very first concentration camp prisoners, preceding the far-more-numerous Jews, and other groups. They are the only inmates who can properly be termed martyrs (as opposed to victims) in that they had power to secure their own release by signing a document renouncing their faith and pledging cooperation with the Nazi regime. Only a handful  took advantage of the opportunity. To this day, many of our people are imprisoned for the same neutral stand towards government saber-rattling. How many groups do you cover who would go so far so as not to violate conscience?

Please take these facts into account the next time your articles touch on us. We are not deserving of the ill-treatment you have dished out.


Tom Weedsandwheat


Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

The Holocaust and God's Permission of Evil

The answer the Bible provides as to why God permits suffering: does that really wash? Does it really account for God standing aside while atrocities such as the Holocaust ravage us all? Isn’t that the time for God to intervene if He’s ever going to? And wouldn’t it have been better to educate Adam regarding the consequences of rebellion, rather than see him plunge himself and all his offspring into misery?

One must remember that the stakes are high. God’s rulership is to produce everlasting life in perfect health on a paradise earth. Human rulership is producing exactly what we see today. Anyone delighted over it?

If you are the teacher and you are faced with a wiseacre student who insists he knows a better answer, who will not follow your course, who accuses you of wrong motives, and who is gathering an audience, how do you handle it? You know his answer will not work, yet the student insists. Don’t you just hand him the chalk and let him work out his dumb answer? And when his approach creates the chaos that you knew it would, do you help him out? Won’t that just prolong the misery?
(2nd listing. Chapter 11, which features the above illustration)

Imagine that you have had parents who have provided for your needs in every conceivable way and have done so from infancy. Physical, spiritual, emotional...every need and proper desire was provided for to the fullest degree. They've done nothing but show love. And along comes a stranger and tells you that your folks are lying to you, have always lied to you, and that they are trying to deprive you of what is best. And you immediately side with the stranger! What does that say about your heart? And isn't this the situation with Adam and Eve?

One must remember that Adam, the first of God’s human creation, was created perfect. While you and I may do dumb things, acknowledge them, correct and recover on the basis that we are imperfect, subject to mistakes, a perfect creature doesn’t do that. Any wrong course he chooses is deliberate. He doesn’t afterwards turn around. You don’t educate him.

And so God is extending time, soon to run out, for humans to act on their boast of self-rule.

Also, the Bible’s provision for resurrection ensures that no lasting harm is done anyone through God’s present permission of evil.

...and I have hope toward God…. that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.    Acts 24:15


Whenever one recalls rotten things that God has permitted, the Holocaust tops the list.

Thousands of German Jehovah's Witnesses were among the very first concentration camp prisoners, preceding the far-more-numerous Jews, and other groups. This because they absolutely refused allegiance to the Nazi regime, which the latter demanded. JWs are the only inmates who can properly be termed martyrs (as opposed to victims) in that they had power to secure their own release by signing a document renouncing their faith and pledging cooperation with the Nazis. Only a handful  took advantage of the opportunity.

You (and I) can lament how unjust God must be to permit such a thing. But we didn’t live through it. They did. They experienced the vilest that mankind has to offer. And the above explanation of why God permits suffering is what sustained them.


“All those who suffered persecution because of their religious or political beliefs and who were willing to accept death rather than submit deserve our great respect, such respect as is hard to express in words. Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only religion that completely refused to accede to the demands of the Hitler regime: They did not raise their hand to give the Hitler salute. They refused to swear allegiance to ‘Führer and State,’ just as they refused to perform military and labor service. And their children did not join the Hitler Youth Movement.”        Peter Straub, president of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg - from a speech made on the 58th aniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.


Tom Irregardless and Me                   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash