Minneapolis Burns—How to Stop the Violence

I proposed (facetiously) in ‘No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash’ that there be ‘A Shooting Channel.’ Put all shootings on ‘The Shooting Channel’—white on black, white on white, black on white, black on black. Ban shootings on all other channels. Let viewers decide for themselves which ones are horrible and which ones are yawners. Otherwise, the media comes along later and starts a race war.

Beyond question, the current happening is horrible. Still, when it is shown 20 times a day—how can that not be seen as deliberately stoking rage that will result in cascading calamity to totally innocent persons. The tiny Minneapolis businesses burned out in the days following were predominantly minority-owned. I think it is not such a foolish statement to say that those who would stoke this rage are “the enemy of the American people,” extreme that the statement may at first glance appear. The wide-spread rage in Charlotte a few years ago was inflamed by reports of a white police officer shooting a black suspect, Lamont Scott. When it turned out that the cop was, not white, but black, this correction was barely noted—even though its absence ensured widespread violence.

It is an article of faith among the reformers of this system of things that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and that “When you shine the spotlight of journalism on this or that evil, the cockroaches disappear.” They may disappear, but that does not mean that they die. They just go elsewhere, and one is faced with the scriptural truth of Ecclesiastes 1:15: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight.“ ‘God’s kingdom come‘ such as Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim is up to the task, but as for human efforts? The track record is not promising. More often than not, they take a horrible event and make it worse.

Along comes the #CultExpert to lambaste expressed determination to stop the spreading violence as “inciting violence” itself. Is it?

Violence is not a solution!” he said. “Powerful forces from outside the U.S. and from within are deliberately stoking conflict and division. @realDonaldTrump needs to be flagged by Twitter when he advocates violence. FB should change policies ASAP to protect our democracy.

What the POTUS had said that Twitter flagged was: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” 

Said I to the Cult Expert: “I grant that he could choose his words more carefully—he is very much of a barroom brawler—but when cities are burning and when the small businesses of mostly minority persons are being destroyed, is it realLy “advocating violence” when he says as POTUS he means to restore order? I don’t understand this at all.”

Throughout history, there is scarcely an example of putting down riots with “love,” and the (black) mayor of Atlanta implored people to “go home”—they were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd. Maybe Jesus could quell one with loving persuasion, but the CultExpert all but gags at his mention. He is a left-wing loon, methinks, and it damages his credibility. This personally works out well for me, because he calls Jehovah’s Witnesses a cult—along with a few score, if not hundreds, of other groups. He shoots his credibility with regard to them all, I think, and in some ways it is a shame, because some of them really do seem “out there.” But it is for them to defend themselves—it is not for me to investigate and do it for them. I might come to the conclusion that it is a lost cause. I only know about us.

But when you expand your definition of “cult” to include half of the country, as he does, it is a pretty good indication that you have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid yourself.

However, back to his tweet. Included in it was: “Powerful forces from outside the U.S. and from within are deliberately stoking conflict and division.” He seems to have got that right. Tweeted Sheryl Atkinson on May 30th: Minnesota officials: "Every person arrested last night was from out of state." Locals: "We don't know these folks." Exactly. But the two disagree on who those “powerful forces” are who are “deliberately stoking conflict.” Steve thinks it included those who want to put out the fires.

5D77FB3E-917F-44AA-B790-F63888D9204D

photo from: BusinessInsider.com

Shortly after my post, I was called out on it by one of my own people: “He’s advocating shooting the looters brother. That’s murder.”

When this happens from someone you have regard for—and since she is a spiritual sister, I do—you do not go for the jugular such as is the pattern on social media. You strive to see the other point of view:

“Would the one murdered agree that those looting and burning are his ‘brothers’ honoring his name? I’m not so sure. But these are incendiary times. Other views exist. I said what I said but I would not pursue it online any further. Man doesn’t have the answers and anything done is shooting himself in the foot one way or the other. If people see if differently, I have no problem with that. They may be right. Thanks for your message.”

She: “I hesitated to reply. Didn’t want to publicly. If the police or civilians shoot looters for looting...we’ll that’s murder. The President advocated this on Twitter. There are people who would take this tweet as permission to shoot on sight. Dangerous to say the least. Anyway....I don’t get involved with politics, but pay attention to what is going on. Don’t agree with Hassan often, but he’s right about twitter flagging Trump. IMO.“

Okay. I did say that he might have chosen his words more carefully. Still, it did not occur to me that the tweet might be taken as an invitation to vigilante justice. Maybe it should have. Maybe if I had my sister’s formative background—whatever that might be—it would have.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do this all the time with each other—take a preliminary position and them immediately walk it back when it finds opposition. The reason they can do this so readily is that they realize that this life is not the “real life” of 1 Timothy 6:19. Don’t take it into the Kingdom Hall. Ideally, don’t form views in the first place—“must.stay.neutral” tweeted another brother, implying it would not be a piece of cake for him—but if you are a flesh-and-blood person who takes in information, that is much easier said than done. For that reason, there are many brothers who do not take in information, and I do not criticize them for that. It is far easier to stay neutral that way, though it does compromise your ability to relate in the ministry. It is another reason that I do not append a link to the JW website on any of my social media profiles, something many brothers seem to feel almost obligatory to do. Everyone has his own way of looking at things and even his own quirks—if you link to the website it suggests you got it from them.

Meanwhile, from another quarter entirely, Mr. Admin noted that “the 17-year-old who took the video of George Floyd being suffocated and killed by police on Monday...[who] took the video as proof of police brutality and the pain felt by thousands of people around the country...has been receiving numerous questions about why she didn't fight off police for the duration of the 10 minute video depicting police kneeing Floyd in the neck. In her response, she says that she was scared as a 17-year-old to attempt to fight off any cops or help Floyd.”

Me: “That strikes me as not a bad answer from a 17 year old. Everyone has a smart phone these days and it is in the culture that if you see something you record it. It is the fellow cops who saw fit to not interfere that you have to wonder about.“

 

 

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

Woodstock and the Pandemic—Were We Crazy Then or Are We Crazy Now?

If you are a baby-boomer and you come across an article about Woodstock, you drop everything and you devour it. You swoon and sigh about the ‘summer of love.’ You lament that life somehow veered off that wonderful path—so full of promise. This is all very frustrating to me because I don’t think it is that way at all, but it is what it is. The tea kettle will boil dry and the metal turn white-hot while you are transported back to the day.

The water was long-gone, but my tea kettle had only reached red-hot when I came across a remarkable fact about Woodstock, from an article in the New York Post. It was held in the midst of a pandemic!—during the in-between lull, the type we are said to be in now with COVID19. The first wave had died down, and the second was yet to come. Before it was all over, H3N2, the ‘Hong Kong flu’ would take 100,000 lives in the United States and from one to four million worldwide. Yet the Woodstock show went on. It is described by an attendee who spent 4 days covered with mud and dreamed most of all of taking a hot shower.

The article is entitled, “Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969.” The New York Times described that illness as “one of the worst in the nation’s history.” So it was not a nothing-burger. From the article:

“Both [COVID19 and H3N2] viruses spread quickly and cause upper respiratory symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. They infect mostly adults over 65 or those with underlying medical conditions....During both pandemics, horror stories abounded — from the bodies stored in refrigerated trucks in New York last month to corpses stored in subway tunnels in Germany during the H3N2 outbreak. Those who had H3N2 and survived describe a health battle that sounds eerily similar to COVID. “The coughing and difficulty breathing were the worst but it was the lethargy that kept me in bed,” said one person who survived it.

A few schools shut down for lack of teachers, but otherwise—“It was like the pandemic hadn’t even happened if you look for it in history books,” [one person recalls]. “I am still shocked at how differently people addressed — or maybe even ignored it — in 1968 compared to 2020.” The virus rarely made front page news then, whereas all other news has been suspended today for coverage of COVID 19.

Now, what are we to make of this? Were we crazy then, or are we crazy now? Did we drive the economy over a cliff for nothing? Or should we have driven it over a cliff back then?

“Fact-checking” is in vogue today. USAToday did that and pronounced the story true:

“The Woodstock festival of 1969 did occur amid a global pandemic and no stay at home orders were enforced. However, (1) the concept of social distancing was not yet accepted practice among public health experts and (2) the 1968 flu pandemic was not as deadly as other diseases. (3) Lawmakers also did not face serious public pressure to slow the virus, as (4) the nation's attention was focussed elsewhere. We rate this claim TRUE because it is supported by our research.” [inserted numerals mine]

It is possible to surmise that human wisdom today has enforced a cure that is far worse than the disease. Item 2 remains to be seen—thus far, COVID has claimed about 300,000 lives, and H3N2 up to 4 million—but it is not over yet and measures taken have undoubtedly reduced the spread. Items 1 and 3 might  turn out to be ludicrous examples of ‘human wisdom’ gone awry, inept as it is unyielding, and item 4 might have been a good thing—a circumstance that ensured worldwide economic depression did not occur in 1969 but had to wait until our time. Remember, economic depression is a serious matter in the Western world, but it mows them down like grass in the developing world.

The COVID disease is bad, but is the cure worse? Either scenario fits in with the Jehovah’s Witness narrative, but the second fits even better. Is COVID the deadliest plague since the Spanish flu of 100 years ago? Well, that certainly fits in with Luke 21:10-11, doesn’t it?

“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.’” Got it. The nations battle mightily and with all the tools of science, but even so they cannot halt the great woe. The scenario  ‘works’—in fits in with the end-time prophesy.

But the second scenario ‘works’ to a far greater degree: The nations guided by their human wisdom and veneration of ‘science’ might have taken a bad situation and made it twenty times worse, crashing down the facade of competent self-rule upon their heads. At least Sampson knew what he was doing—he wanted the grand house to crash upon him.

What is the play that we are watching today? What is the reason that God did not destroy the rebels of Eden? Every Witness of Jehovah knows it—He allowed them time to make good on their claim that independence from Him would turn out well. It is like the JW organization’s video of the snotty kid who insists he has a better way. The teacher hands him the chalk. The more spectacularly that kid fails, the more convincing the answer to his taunt. Thus it is that when Jehovah declares an end to the grand experiment of human self-rule, he need not indulge the next rebel who knows it all. “Distress will not rise up a second time,” the verse says.

As for Jehovah’s people, they are “those making use of the world [but] not using it to the full; for the scene of this world is changing.” They go light on what the world offers. They have simplified their lives. If some offerings are taken off the table, well—they can adapt because they never put their trust there to begin with. But those of the greater world are beside themselves as they see everything they have worked for and trusted in being stripped away. They are not “all in this together” because it affects some greatly and others hardly at all.

Much boils down to trust in leaders and there is little of it in the greater world. There is the expression ‘Never waste a crisis’ It is the suspicion that various parties are trying to bring in permanent societal changes under the guise of fighting a temporary woe that gets people riled. What amazes me is how people ‘are not open to any agreement,’ as the verse says, and the damage done by COVID may be done not so much by the virus itself but by the furor it unleashes as to how best deal with it.

 

3369866E-C39D-4CE4-A6C5-21A06E9DF7FC

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

A Judgment Message—What’s With That?

That meme floating about the internet that brothers will latch on to in a heartbeat—is it true?

A brother named Hermann who is a bus driver in Central Berlin overheard two passengers talking: "This virus is just the beginning. Something big is going to happen, something extremely worrying. The proof is right in front of us. There are no more Jehovah's Witnesses around. They are usually everywhere, at the train station, walking around, at every public place with their carts and magazines. And now, nothing. Mark my words, something big is coming." 

It’s not impossible that it really happened that way. The Jehovah’s Witness public ministry has been uninterrupted since its inception, so for it to be interrupted now—well, I can easily see how some might latch onto that as significant. On the other hand, our brothers are ever wont to dress up a story to add a pious twist to it. Perhaps what was said was: “Thank God those pain-in-the-neck Witnesses aren’t around anymore!” Time will tell.

At any rate, the JW organization puts forth no effort to make hay out of the pandemic. There is no effort to say: “Here it comes—it’s the Big One! We told you so!” No. Not a bit of it. (probably confounding the anti-cultists) Instead, its lead post is about how to cope with isolation and loneliness, with so many practical links as to win praise from mental health people—for it is mental health that is under assault today.

I don’t know about you, but it suggests for me some things about the ‘judgment message.‘ If you were going to launch an unprovoked ‘judgment message.’ wouldn’t now be a good time to do it, with a pandemic that nobody’s seen the like of for 100 years, that appears out of nowhere, that upends life worldwide, and that may crash the entire worldwide financial system—that greatest of all mountains that nonetheless has thus far proven as resilient as paper mache. Yet there is nothing but helpful pointers on coping with isolation, along with making use of the time to improve (or even begin) one’s spirituality.

The Regional Convention of 2016 made mention of a ‘judgment message.’ In one of the videos, we learned of how so-and-so gave out when he was too chicken to take part in that work. Maybe I hadn’t been paying attention, but for me it was the first specific reference in a long while—maybe ever. And—C’mon! face it—it’s hard to envision it per se. “Nyah Nyah—told ya so!”—no, I cannot picture it:

Good morning, sir. My companion and I have just stopped by to deliver a message of judgement. Brother Silhouette, would you read Revelation 23:5?”

“Yes....um, that’s Revelation 23:5: ‘Your goose is cooked.’”

“Thank you, Brother Silhouette. Now—would you like that goose well-done, medium, or rare?”

No, it just cannot be. There is reference in Revelation to hard-hitting judgements from God. And there is reference to the message that is good news to believers—that same message triggers hostility in non-believers because they take it as judgment. Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 2:15 of those, himself included, who preach the good news: “For to God we are a sweet fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter ones an odor of death leading to death, to the former ones a fragrance of life leading to life.” When malcontents went bonkers over the Governing Body’s first update of the pandemic, given in the person of Brother Lett—“How could they object to that?”—I had thought, it is not because they had read judgment into it?—even though that was not the intent of the message.

Maybe the ‘judgment message’ is something like that—reading judgment from the message that is good news for everyone else. But in view of the Regional video that seems to ramp it up a bit, combined with decidedly not going there in times of global plague, economic chaos, and governments hamstrung over how to cope—a scenario presents itself that what judgment message there is will be akin to the Witness organization’s telegram to Hitler: “Your ill- treatment of Jehovah’s witnesses shocks all good people of earth and dishonors God’s name. Refrain from further persecuting Jehovah’s witnesses; otherwise God will destroy you and your national party.”

 Maybe it will be something like that. It is a possibility that presupposes an attack upon those keeping faith, but then the Bible foretells just that scenario.

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

Trump, Covid, JW HQ, and ‘Rex’s Gas n Go’

In any crisis situation it is tremendously socially destructive to continually take shots at whoever is taking the lead. Regardless of who is is, where he came from, or how he came to be—there he is and you’re stuck with him. You cannot make things better but you sure can make them worse. Anyone socially responsible will point to the reassuring fact that the Pres generally allows his advisors to talk him out of rash statements. Though, sometimes he fires them. Just ask Rex Tillerson, once CEO of Exxon, now proprietor of ’Rex’s Gas n Go,’ unable to reclaim his top spot since board members were unfavorably influenced by the President‘s tweet that he was ‘dumb as a rock’ and ‘lazy.’
 
Without a fuss, simply in order to keep things moving, The POTUS signed off on legislation that would ensure that the family business doesn’t get a dime. Since the hospitality industry in general IS eligible for help, it seems to me no more than a matter of spite, but he yielded to it on account of the emergency.
 
Trying to shift blame, the mayor of New Orleans say she would have shut down festivities had only Trump warned her. I’m not so sure. Isn’t she one of those who, when he says anything else, claims he is full of you-know-what? Probably she’s just  trying to cover her own rear end—the oldest trick in the book. No, really—the oldest—since Adam’s response to being called for eating from the tree was “the woman you gave me, she gave me the fruit and I ate.” With the only other two living beings against him—three if you count the devil—what chance had a good ol’ boy like he?
 
Meanwhile, Jehovah’s Witnesses just play along. It makes things so much easier. Direction from HQ (in the United States) is that there be no meetings of more than ten persons, less if local officials decree it, but not more if they do not. Additionally, a letter a read, leaving matters to family heads since every circumstance is different, urged members to take most seriously all government suggestions on social distancing—and if one is in a high-risk group, seriously consider the recommendation to stay in place, not venturing outside at all till this blows over. The two Bible verses to serve as theme texts were ‘love you neighbor as yourself’ and ‘show obedience to the superior authorities.’
 
Will it? Probably. At the liquor store—no, not for my daily run, but looking for Memorial wine—I observed of ‘crazy times that no one saw coming’ that it is ‘almost biblical.’ But the young clerk allowed that to be probably an overstatement and I didn’t press he point—he may be right. But it also is not exactly ‘one of those things,’ since no one in 100 years has seen anything like it.
 
Outside among those who you think you be the most responsible, bickering is the order of the day. Look, it is one thing not to board the lifeboat because you think the ship is not going down. It is another to think that it possibly is, but it is STILL more important to apportion blame first.
 
Now that I think of it, it is also very strange, and no, I am not coming out as a true prophet over it, that 100 years exactly separate the capsizing of the two oceanliners so symbolic of their respective ages, AND almost 100 years exactly separate the two latest significant plagues in modern times: the Spanish flu in 1918, and the ‘Chinese’ virus in 2020.
 
JWs have a mindset that enables them to adjust and cope. If the Covid is the Spanish flu updated, well—then an easy explanation present itself. But if it is not—if it is triggering a huge overreaction as some maintain, and the edifice of human financial world should crash—well, how telling that something seemingly so mighty should prove so fragile. Everybody throws in their two cents and you have to ignore the meddlers because there is never an end to them. Otherwise, shelter in place to the degree possible, which is almost 100% for me. An overreaction? Maybe, but if so it is just one more nail in the coffin of those who think human governments have the wisdom to rule
 
A00F7C79-504D-423C-ADE5-CF651803369C
 
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

They Didn’t Sensationalize this Virus Even a Little Bit, Much Less Use it to Scare People

There are faithful sisters (and brothers, too) who must cope with opposed, sometimes even apostate, mates. One of those mates posted:

“I told my wife that maybe there will never again be meetings as before. I hope the JWs will wake up and start to examine the scriptures seriously and search what all this could lead to.”

In fact, it looks like meetings are pretty much going on with barely a hiccup. They have simply switched to conference-call software, with telephone tie-in for any not up to speed on this. Rather than take his self-predicted five years—he has styled himself as sort of a prophet, unusual for today’s ‘apostates, who mostly go atheist—to make himself even more insightful and pure than he already is, maybe he should repent if possible and try to get into that new format with his wife rather than being a drag that she must contend with.

Our congregation will start with the conference calls at this mid-week meeting, Zoom in our case. (We will meet in Zoom Rooms—who would have thunk it?) Over the weekend we streamed it from apparently one of the Bethels. I could not help but think how the contents would have been disappointing to any ‘anti-cultist’ because there was not a bit of alarmism and everyone treated the virus threat as just one more run-of-the-mill challenge to adapt to. Referred to several times in comments, it wasn’t even called the ‘Chinese virus.’ They didn’t get into any squabbles as to whether they should be able to describe it that way or not—since it gets some all incensed, they avoided the term, and just said virus or Covid 19 or Corona or whatever. It is so much like this world to ‘taunt’ the other side, deliberately getting them going usually for the sake of put down, if not ridicule, but they didn’t stoop to that for a moment. It almost made me ashamed that I do stoop to it (but probably not ashamed enough to stop), though I am trying to restrain myself, not always easily.

They didn’t sensationalize this virus even a little bit, much less use it to ‘scare’ people. It easily could be used that way. They didn’t. Not even a hint of it. So I will—just in a speculative bent, you understand, no more.

For the longest time we have said our preaching will end someday. What if this turns out to be it? It’s not impossible, though no one suggests it. I expect this to blow over and normal preaching and activities will resume, but there is no reason to accept that as a foregone conclusion. What if the world leaders who just assume you can shut down the entire world economy and start it up again are wrong, and instead another worldwide Great Depression ensues? Then deaths then will dwarf anything that the virus itself brings on, including many a suicide. Will people endure it as resolutely as they did 90 years ago? I wouldn’t hold my breath, not with the belligerence and non-cooperation that defines the overall culture today. And wouldn’t that be a decisive verdict to the facades men have erected? The worldwide financial bedrock system, that everyone depends upon and have taken for granted will endure no matter what—dissolving so easily in the face of what might well be an overreaction to a virus only two or three times more nasty than the regular flu—bad, to be sure, but not nearly as bad as the devastation triggered in the all-out war to contain it, a war that leaders can only hope will be won but do not know. As that mighty structure crumbles, who knows what efforts nations may resort to in their desire to shore it up?

Then all these ones on the outside lambasting the Witness organization every time one of them so much as farts may begin to feel less comfortable. For the Witness brotherhood appears to be holding up pretty well, and it is holding up well independent of material assets. If worse comes to worse, you can run the whole program from a server in Brother Lett’s dorm room. It might even be that conditions could devolve to Acts 2 mode, in which Christians are physically caring for the needs of others. If you have kept yourself plugged into the brotherhood that, with all its flaws, is one run on love, you will be able to weather whatever shaking of the world is going on. Those who were there but have deliberately put themselves outside it and are united in nothing other than finding fault—of them I am not so sure.

A speaker quoted from Numbers 12 recently. “Face to face I speak with [Moses], and not in riddles. Why then, did you not fear to speak against him?” Yes, I know, I know—those taking the lead today are not Moses, but I am not so unfearful to declare they are not filling exactly the modern role that he did the ancient. Yes, they are not Moses, but then Moses was not Moses in the eyes of his critics. What were they murmuring about? His Hittite wives. He really did have Hittite wives. It was not an invalid complaint. God accepted him anyway and struck down those who would rise up against him.

I can easily extrapolate, based on the snarling hate expressed by some for the theocratic organization, and current events showing that opposition shifting into high gear, most notably in Russia—I can envision that attack on the city ‘existing without bars’ and ‘the city that seems open to plunder’—I can easily envision it—not as a slam-dunk gonna-happen-now, but certainly as a possibility. Will religions in general hold onto their own as JWs hold on to theirs? Time will time, but I’m dubious. How many will so easily switch to new methods of keeping in touch? How many are so organized into not just congregations, but groups within congregations, so that no one other than those who willfully keep their distance is overlooked?

Revelation presents scenarios of people ‘warring against God’ and one can’t help but wonder: ‘Who would be stupid enough to do that?’ Now some scenarios emerge. ‘Do not meddle with these men so that you may not be found actually fighters against God,’ Gamaliel said. It was enough to dissuade the Sanhedrin. ‘Forget that!’ enemies say today as they go in for what they imagine is the kill.

The view of the humanists is that human solutions must prevail, and they are livid that any would look to another source. They are livid that any would put their trust in anything else. They attack and put the most ridiculous interpretation on Letts’ words about what doesn’t bother him at all, because they can’t stand what he looks to for salvation. To one of these characters ranting about how Lett uses calamity to ‘exploit’ members with fear so as to keep them in line, I said that ‘the entire premise of the faith is that we are living in the last days of this system of things in which difficult times will prevail. To point to evidence of that does not frighten them; it strengthens them—it validates their faith.’

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

Anti-Cultists Jump on the JW Video Encouraging Brothers to Hold Steady During the Virus Time

It took no time at all for the anti-cult crowd to latch on to that recent Stephen Lett video about how the brothers are doing worldwide in the face of Covid 19. (6 have died in Italy). Of course, he made remarks about being ‘deep in the last days’—and they were all over that. He was declared ‘oppontunistic’ and exploitive of current events so as to maintain control over members. Sheesh!

Now, Stephen Lett is a very unusual figure—Witnesses love this guy—but there is no one who over-emotes like this fellow. Sometimes I think a spokesman less ‘polarizing’ in his mannerism would be better suited, but who can say? He shows love for the friends, and maybe that overrides all else. I wrote up a post on him previously.

At any rate, I posted a few tweets of my own to kick back at some of these accusations—if that be what they are. As to the ringleader of the anti-cultists, who does not specialize in Jehovah’s Witnesses but also does not exclude them, I do not treat him as an enemy, and I am neutral as to his overall mission. To the extent he notices me, he doesn’t treat me as an enemy either, and if he does I take no offense. Mutual respect works here.

I posted:

A worldwide plague and concurrent financial collapse JWs do not dismiss as ‘one of those things,’ but their end-time words long precede this. Plus, they are nothing but cooperating with gov’t authorities in trying to contain virus

It is irrelevant to general society if it is accompanied by complete cooperation with govt authorities as they try to contain such, which is the case with JWs. After all, it is not them partying on the Fla beach.....1/2

Also, people cannot be buffeted about by such calamities as world plague & financial collapse and just shrug it off. An ‘end-time’ view is as good as any to cope. Few cooperate with gov’t containment efforts as JWs do. They promptly calledoff their door2door & are not the problem...2/2

The trick is to allow other viewpoints to exist besides your own. Tolerance. JWs in no way undermine govt efforts to control virus. Besides, until all chips in, who are you to say they are wrong? It has to be a ‘wait and see.’

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

Corona as of March 8th

It is important in this new age of Corona not to touch your face, and that’s not easy to do—dozens of times per day most of us do it. There is a clip somewhere of officials doing it even as they caution others not to. Trump quipped that he “hasn’t touched my face in weeks; I miss it,” and yet afterwards—why, there he is touching his face.

I started the following as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that it’s not so stupid after all:

0D8A09E9-A0A8-4277-A0C5-EAEDD408C799

You can avoid touching your face by wearing a mask—like a Halloween mask. What sort of a mask will you wear? I will walk about dressed as a teddy bear. How about you? And with that I posted an old picture of my brother dressed up for Halloween. (and I said this is my brother WITHOUT his mask because he had just beaten me in Scrabble) 

What about a Guy Fawkes mask?

79790985-FD02-4F5D-9F09-B04DB6EFF9AE

“Hey, great mask! You must be deeply concerned about injustice and have the courage to tackle it head-on even if it costs you your life! How admirable!!”

“Naw, I’m just trying not to touch my face on account of the Corona virus.”

Our people have shown themselves very proactive in this. A letter from HQ was read Thursday. It started out with how no one wants to start a panic, but for as long as the Coronavirus remains a threat, the group whose turn it is to clean the Kingdom Hall will also disinfect commonly touched surfaces, including seat railings, both before and after the meeting. Keep “physical greetings simple by avoiding hugs, kisses and handshakes, so please do not be offended if” someone declines normal contact. The verse was read about...

“Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)

Also the one about...

“The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself,But the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.” (Proverbs 22:3)

That one seems like it is read every time you turn around these days. Lots of things to be alert about, apparently.

Stay home if you’re sick—that was part of the letter, too. You can listen in on a telephone tie-in. Word has it that elders are prepared to tell ones that appear sick to go home. ‘Ask’ actually, not ‘tell,’ but they have a way of making an ask seem like a tell.

It is not hard—one just must remember to do certain things. It is greatly aided by people who are not quarrelsome by nature—their application of Bible principles makes them that way—and at the Hall today I was surprised at how quickly everyone took to the new routine. Jehovah’s Witnesses can be downright absurd with the amount of handshaking they do, and it was all replaced with elbow bumps & so forth. Someone forgot and approached me with hand outstretched. “What! Are you trying to get me killed?” I said. It’s an air of good-natured joking.

Things are changing fast. Two weeks ago for an upcoming Chinese circuit assembly, it was said not to wear masks so as not to stigmatize Chinese attendees. This week the entire assembly was cancelled. This morning I heard that all field service has been cancelled in New York City—people can do phone or letter writing but everything else is on hold. This may have to do with the fact that the governor declared a state of emergency the day before.

The morning before, at the meeting for field service, the one conducting said how some might not want to speak with us (more than usual) because of Corona. “Whatever you do,” was my comment, “don’t treat it as an ‘objection’ to ‘overcome.’ Corona may blow over or may deepen—we just don’t know yet. People do whatever they think they should—cut them slack for it.”

It’s not particularly scary for Witnesses because we have long had our heads geared up for this kind of thing. Even so, no one would say it’s a walk in the park. But you can’t help but think of people not so mentally prepared, those with families, especially. A website Drudge linked to a couple of weeks ago listed “ten plagues hitting the planet simultaneously.” It makes you think of those verses in Luke on how

people will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth...but as these things start to occur, stand up straight and lift up your heads, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:26-28)

I used to read that verse a lot, pointing to how the same things mean different things to different people so why not try to get your heads around the the viewpoint of ones who lift their heads up? But then HQ said it doesn’t really apply that way—it is yet for future events—but I can still say ‘it reminds me of’ can’t I? Is someone going to come along and say it doesn’t?

[Edit] Within 4-5 days of this post, public health officials were calling for the curtailing of all gatherings of over 50 people. Accordingly, all full congregation meetings as well as the public field ministry has been cancelled until further notice.]

 

 

 

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

Even the Trite Saying Came Out About How Our Brains Can Use a Good Washing

The post about ‘manipulating’—who does it, to what degree, and whose is the most serious, brought out some predictable comments on the ‘never is heard a discouraging word’ website. ‘Unity of belief means brainwashing?’ one woman said. She thought not. She suggested that convincing followers to drink poisoned Kool Aid so they could all go to heaven was brainwashing. She suggested that flying your hijacked airplane into the Twin Towers so as to achieve the same goal was also brainwashing. She thought withdrawing from society to live in communes was brainwashing, as well. But she thought that if you live, school, and work in the general community, plus directly visit members of that community one-on-one to discuss your hope with them, plainly making connections in the Book that everyone has (or did) but almost nobody understands, that is not brainwashing.

How bad can the ‘manipulation’ be, someone else observed, if it results it results in people unselfish, with good family values, respectful of laws, honest, peaceable, and so forth? Why—if people were manipulated to be like that, you wouldn’t have to fear going out at night, you could lighten up on carrying keys for everything under the sun, and in general enjoy much less stress. The old trite saying even came out that ‘given the state of our brains, they can use a good washing.’ It may be trite, but that does not mean that it is untrue. Witnesses have been nothing but benefited by choosing adherence to God’s direction.

Jehovah’s Witnesses make a mistake should they take to heart the cry of their opposers about ‘manipulation.’ Essentially, the cry is no more than the accusation that Witnesses march to the beat of a different drum, which none of them would deny. The manipulation that is detrimental is in just the opposition direction. “We know that we originate with God,” says John, “but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Must “the whole world” not be ‘controlled’ or ‘manipulated’ for that to be the case? “The Devil is misleading the entire inhabited earth,” states Revelation 12:9.

So when the cry is made that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are manipulated!” simply translate it as “Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible” and you will be fine—the two statements are equivalent. Witnesses are no more than the modern counterpart of Joshua, famous for his Declaration of Dependence: “Now if it seems bad to you to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve...but as for me and my household, we will serve Jehovah.” (Joshua 24:15)

Furthermore, stick it right back to those who favor independence from God to produce the fine world that their independence has brought them. Don’t settle for shallow answers such as pointing to clever gadgets like the iPad that I am putting to excellent use right now. Don’t settle for the admission that things may be getting worse right now, but the world is about to make a brilliant turnaround. Were that to happen, would it not be akin to a cry of ‘peace and security’ that I have read about somewhere? Learn to apprise the world’s offerings as did the Joker in the art gallery, flipping through paintings and rendering instant judgement: “crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.” In doing so, you will not be far from the Bible’s own conclusion—that there is a generation pure in its own eyes that has not been washed from its own filth. (Proverbs 30:12)

Don’t walk around all glum as though there is no joy to be had in the present life, for that is plainly not so and JWs do not carry on as though it were. But don’t be ashamed to proclaim the real life of 1 Timothy 6:19, and don’t let modern opponents manipulate you into thinking that this life is the real one. No. This one is the irretrievably broken one set to be replaced when God’s kingdom comes.

Tell your critics to produce evidence of the child sexual abuse and human trafficking epidemic that they have stopped dead in its tracks. Ask them even to show how they have reached their laudable goal of no longer objectifying women—perhaps they will point to the Super Bowl halftime show (2020) as Exhibit A. How about the drug abuse problem that they have vanquished, or the homeless problem? “Why is it you Jehovah’s Witnesses always have to insist that things are getting worse?” one brother was asked by a detractor. “What does that view do for you?” He replied that it helped him to explain why the Doomsday Clock was set at 90 seconds to midnight (the latest revision) and not 10:30 AM.

 

 

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

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?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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