Nautical Bookends of Our Age

Sometimes the spirit of an entire age is captured in a single event. Even better, sometimes the spirit of an entire age is bookended by two separate events, one defining the “before,” the other the “after.” Whenever this happens, it is a fine thing. It saves a lot of work. You don’t have to read up on the entire age. Just get your head around the two bookend events and you’re home free. Like Morgan Freeman said to Miss Daisy, “We don’t have to worry about what’s in the middle?” No. We don’t.

We have exactly this situation today with regard to the Costa Concordia, that luxury cruise liner that capsized January [2012] off the Italian coast. It’s a nautical bookend. It’s complement, the Titanic, also capsized, almost exactly a century ago, in 1912. The age thus bookended is the “last days” that Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim. Current view traces it to 1914, and it is near completion, since we are “right around the corner” from the end of this system of things—a most elusive corner indeed. One remembers that year was the year of World War I, and it marks the first time that the entire world went to war concurrently. It is seen as setting off with a bang the events described in Luke 21:10, events that have cascaded to our day.

 If ever there were contrasting events to illustrate the fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:1-5, they are to be found in these behemoth boats. Those verses read: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.”

In other words, the verses point to a general deterioration of human character. People have “gotten worse” during the last days. As Pop, who is not a Witness and has little use for them, readily asserts: the world is going “to hell in a handbasket.” But this is not necessarily easy to prove to one who thinks otherwise. It is subjective. If you show the verses to someone who doesn’t agree that they apply more today than at other times, there is not much you can do about it. To some extent, it depends upon where you look. If you think in terms of technology, for instance, the notion of things worsening is patently untrue. One is reminded of that line from the 1968 book The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life: “True, there has been progress in a materialistic way. But is it really progress when men send rockets to the moon, and yet cannot live together in peace on earth?” Some people think it is.

Still, the best chance we have of illustrating 2 Timothy 3:1-5 lies in contrasting similar events occurring in different time frames—events such as ship sinkings. Consider: After the Titanic struck an iceberg back in 1912, the captain expedited rescue efforts, then went down with his ship. After the Costa Concordia struck a rock in modern 2012, the captain, seen beforehand fraternizing with women in the bar, was among the first to jump ship. Titanic’s crew, in 1912, urgently worked to shepherd passengers to lifeboats. Concordia’s crew, in 2012, told them to go back to their rooms...surely this crisis would pass. With the 1912 Titanic, it was “women and children first.” With the 2012 Concordia it was “every person for himself,” said one of the survivors.

In short, all that was noble and self-sacrificing is replaced today with all that is cowardly and self-serving. That is the relevance of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Tell that to those fatheads who cannot see any change in people. Even the big liners themselves seem to fulfill 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Titanic, in 1912, went down majestically, gracefully, symmetrically. Concordia, in 2012, rolled over on its side like a huge fat pig and just lay there lolling in the sun, like our overstuffed cat does in hopes someone will scratch its belly. People of the last days can’t even sink a ship properly.

 

Okay, okay, so it doesn’t prove anything, comparing the two sunken ships. It is pure symbolism. I understand that. But as symbolism goes, it doesn’t get any better. I don’t issue many prophesies, being a modest guy, but I’m comfortable with this one: James Cameron will never make a film entitled Concordia. Nor will I quickly modify my answer to some smart-aleck who challenged me: “Why do you have to think that things are getting worse? What does that view do for you?”

It helps me to explain why the Doomsday Clock is set at four minutes to midnight and not 10:30 AM. (January 2012)

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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“The Future’s so Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”—Why?

“Let us hold firmly the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful,” says Hebrews 10.

Some have wavered to such an extent that they all but sing of this world, ‘The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!’—even though the songwriters themselves meant it’s so bright as to require shades on account of likely nukes!

Wikipedia: “Contrary to popular belief, [the song intended] a "grim" outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The "job waiting" after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events.“

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Future's_So_Bright,_I_Gotta_Wear_Shades

Everywhere people are dismayed at the basket case that is today’s world. Everywhere they have a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Only some ‘escapees’ from the faith say in all seriousness, ‘the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.’ So strong is the urge to kick over the traces. So strong is their newfound confidence in human rule apart from God. Sheesh.

‘Why do you Jehovah’s Witnesses always have to believe things are getting worse?’ one wiseacre said to me. ‘What is it about that view that does it for you?’

‘It helps me to explain why the Doomsday Clock reads 90 seconds to midnight and not 10:30 AM,’ I answered.

It’s like a bad accident,’ a neighbor said about the news. ‘You know you should look away but you can’t.’

******  The bookstore

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1 Thessalonians 5: Verses Amassed on Jehovah’s Day

If you’ve been around for awhile, as I have, you’re on the lookout for something,to make you prick up your ears. Most things don’t. Most things are reminders, reinforcements, applications, etc, of what you already know. So here featured in the WatchtowerStudy is a chapter in 1 Thessalonians in which verse after verse, each one a solid base hit, adds up to a grand slam of illustrations about Jehovah’s day. Had I ever looked at the passage that way?

Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you.  For you yourselves know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying, “Peace and security!” then sudden destruction is to be instantly on them, just like birth pains on a pregnant woman, and they will by no means escape.  But you, brothers, you are not in darkness, so that the day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We belong neither to night nor to darkness. So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.

“For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But as for us who belong to the day, let us keep our senses and put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation as a helmet  because God assigned us, not to wrath, but to the acquiring of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us, so that whether we stay awake or are asleep, we should live together with him.  Therefore, keep encouraging one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.” (1 Thessalonians 1-11)

The study was a verse-by-verse commentary. I love those things. The Day comes so quickly as to perhaps surprise even those expecting it, like birth pains, like a thief in the night, not to be slept through, nor drunk into oblivion in an effort to ignore. “When we want to sleep, we turn out the lights—intentionally,” said one brother, as he likened that course to what some do today in the face of plunging world conditions.

The congregation of Thessalonica was founded amidst great persecution, another pointed out. The temptation in similar areas of persection, such as current Russia, is to imagine maybe that Day to come any second now. The temptation in more laid back areas is that it is yet a long ways off. Either view can mess one up.

I kind of liked this side reference from Ephesians on keeping our act together: “For you were once darkness, but you are now light in connection with the Lord. Go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth. Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord; and stop sharing in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness; rather, expose them for what they are. For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention. (Ephesians 4:8-12)

Who knows what devious schemes or deeds or plots are referred to—things shameful even to mention? Good to be far away from where those things are launched.

******  The bookstore

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Can a Crocodile Play Basketball?

Can a crocodile play basketball?

 

AI’s answer in this age of ChatGPT, 3 different applications:

One: That’s an interesting question. Crocodiles are amazing animals that have been around for millions of years. They are very good at swimming, hunting, and surviving in different habitats. But can they play basketball?

Well, the answer is probably no. Crocodiles are not very good at jumping, running, or handling a ball. They have short legs, heavy bodies, and long tails that make it hard for them to move quickly on land. They also have very strong jaws, but not very flexible hands. They can’t grip a ball or pass it to their teammates. They might even try to eat the ball or the other players!

So, crocodiles are not suited for playing basketball. But they are still fascinating creatures that have many other skills and abilities. IMG_1011

 

Two: No, a crocodile cannot play basketball. Crocodiles are reptiles and do not possess the physical abilities or cognitive skills required to play basketball.  (Photo by Pixabay)

 

Three: Crocodiles are not capable of playing basketball due to their anatomy and lack of abilities required for such activities. They are not built for complex motor skills or coordination needed for sports like basketball.

 

Walter Isaacson wrote in 2005 that the crocodile question stymied AI, which invariably did well with any number-crunching question but not something that involved ‘thinking.’ So said his book ‘The Innovators,’ which traces the development of both computers and the internet. The most significant advance for the former was the microchip, which allowed for computers to shrink to desktop-sized. The most significant advance for the latter was switchable digital packets, allowing computers to communicate with each other over a network.

The first crocodile answer hedges its bets. ‘Probably no,’ it says, and explains why, exploring the crocodile’s anatomy, taking the question quite seriously (rather than giggling it away, as any 4 year old would do).

Answers two and three also don’t realize someone is putting them on, but they are more definitive and give evidence of ‘thinking.’ That is, they draw conclusions from how a crocodile is built in a way that is beyond pure number crunching.

‘The Innovators’ final chapter tells how chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov agreed to a challenge from IBM’s Deep Blue and lost. ‘Yeah, well, it’s just pure number-crunching,’ he comforted himself, not that it made losing to it any better. The machine wasn’t actually thinking. It was just running any given chess board against a gargantuan database it had downloaded, including all grandmaster games, and recalling whether any given move next move had turned out good or bad. Later, he got the idea of working in tandem with AI, letting the machine crunch the numbers whereas the person could focus on the overall deep strategy that was beyond the machine’s capability.

The concept was tested, also in 2005: grandmaster matched against machine against chess amateur paired with computer backup, The grandmasters lost. So did the machines alone. The amateurs with computer-backup were the ones victorious.

So the current crocodile answer isn’t too bad, really. It ‘reasons’ on the reptile’s anatomy to say, ‘No way.’ It doesn’t just search the internet for websites that says if a crocodile can play basketball or not, a method that would return zilch results.

AI prognosticators have christened as the ‘singularity’ the moment AI reaches the point where it doesn’t need people, where it can and does program itself. Will it decide people just get in the way at that point?

Dumping science in our collective lap with no idea as to how to control it is something I have worked into most of my books. From ‘Tom Irregardless and Me:’

“Sam Harris gave yet another TED talk in which he asked: “Can We Build AI Without Losing Control Over It?” The answer is no; you’ll screw it up like you screw up everything, like you drove Albert Einstein to say, “if I had known, I would have become a locksmith.”

From: ‘In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction:’

“Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Andrew Yang, and a panel of other leaders in technology, urged in March 2023 at least a six-month moratorium on AI development, allowing a little time to figure out what its long-term consequences will be. From their open letter of March 2023:

Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources. Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.

“… Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?

“Events move quickly. Who would ever have thought a major risk to writing a book like this would be that portions would be obsolete by its date of release? Within days of this AI caution came a “photo” of Pope Francis fleeing a bevy of police closing in upon him from all sides. “I asked Wonder App to paint, Pope running from the police,” the banner advertised You could never tell it wasn’t him—even if you did wonder how His Holiness could hustle so fast.”

 

From ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why:’

“The New York Times writes about an app that makes it “relatively easy to create realistic face swaps and leave few traces of manipulation. . . . It’s not hard to imagine this technology being used to smear politicians, create counterfeit revenge porn, or frame people for crimes. Lawmakers have already begun to worry about how such deepfakes might be used for political sabotage and propaganda.” The anonymous developer cheerfully helps the Times reporter try his own hand at it. “I’ve given it a lot of thought,” he [says], “and ultimately I’ve decided I don’t think it’s right to condemn the technology itself.”[i] Of course not! They never do. It’s on to the next advance of science! Let the ethicists figure out what he has just dumped in their laps, something “which can of course be used for many purposes, good and bad.” It’s their problem, not his.

“Already, news sources show an eagerness to rely upon unidentified sources that frequently turn out to be wrong. Will they handle this new advance responsibly? Not only must we anticipate dubious proven by video character assassination to become routine, but the more lasting consequence of this new technological advance may be that even genuine video evidence will be dismissed as fake news. It is as Isaiah envisioned: “Ah! Those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness to light, and light into darkness, who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter!” The guileless one so slandered will explode in moral indignation, and thus appear guilty as hell. The professional liar will shrug it off with the feigned saddened dismay that his enemies could sink so low.”

 

Which will come first: Will humans succeed in harnessing their science so as not to ruin them all? Or will the NBA begin drafting crocodiles?

 

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Wait Till I Tell Bud in the Resurrection What Happened to His Beer: He’ll Never Believe It.

“You know, my wedding best man, a mechanic named Bud, used to love Budweiser beer. He’d say “a glass a day makes Bud wiser.” He died a few years ago. I can’t wait to tell him in the resurrection what happened to his brand and why. He’ll never believe it.” IMG_1003

I just threw that out there on Twitter (now called X?) in a completely secular context. Some loved it. I mean, how could you not? I wouldn’t have believed it either had I not lived through it. It’s just incredible how the beer was boycotted after partnering up with the exact opposite of its customer base. I mean, if Starbucks did it, maybe okay, but macho Budweiser? This partner is a nearly 30 year old man transitioning and conducting himself as a teenaged girl. And to think nobody at Bud would have foreseen the reaction! What in the world were they smoking? What woke employee convinced them this bit of ‘inclusion’ would wow the barroom crowd?

But there were some, secular context that it was, who latched on to the ‘resurrection’ word like a dog shaking a rat. It just drove them bonkers that someone was introducing religion in the form of ‘the resurrection.’

What they don’t know, probably, is that resurrection found resistance in the first century, too: ‘Now if Christ is being preached that he has been raised up from the dead, how is it some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?  (1 Cor 15:12) Why did resurrection become an early target of those veering from first century purity? Probably because it liberates people from fear of man & makes them harder to manipulate.

It was among the first pretexts of apostasy. Paul writes of these “very [men] have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.” (2 Tim 2:18)

It instantly divided an Athenian secular audience of long ago: “Well, when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, some began to mock, while others said: “We will hear you about this even another time.” (Acts 17:32)

Paul used resurrection to get himself out of a spot. Here was a hangman’s meeting convened against him, but “when Paul took note that the one part was of Sadducees but the other of Pharisees, he proceeded to cry out in the Sanhedrin: ‘Men, brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Over the hope of resurrection of the dead I am being judged.’ Because he said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the multitude was split. For Sadducees say there is neither resurrection nor angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees publicly declare them all.”  (Acts 23:6-9) Roughly speaking, the Sadducees were the more secular element among Jews, Pharisees the more fundamentalist.

***“Tom really thinks the reputation of a beer brand is gonna matter in the afterlife,” said one wiseacre. “He does,” I replied. “It will be a tiny footnote showing how absurd things became toward the end of this system of things, but he does.”

“Wow!  What a weird trans-phobic eulogy!” Said another. “I honestly can't wait for you to tell him either.”

Bud died before the term trans-phobic was on anyone’s radar screen. Or any of the multi-genders said to exist today. It wasn’t that long ago. ‘Science’ advances quickly.

Another person was more conciliatory: “‘Drinking this makes Bud wiser’ is a great play on words. Your old friend sounds like he might have been a clever fellow. I’m sure you miss him. These other people sound like assholes.”

He was a good guy. Thanks. I do miss him. He is the same Bud who used to say, “Kill a fly and fifty come to the funeral.’” As for some others, people are people. I had introduced a notion strange to some. Thus far, no one here had rated too highly on the A-scale. Or at least I have seen far worse.

Though after this post was written, they escalated.

 

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

“Is It Later Than You Think?” - a Public Talk Updated

The talk title was, “Is it later than you think?” I’ve heard it for decades. I suppose if it was later than you think 40 years ago, it still is. Alas, the people of God are destined to be chumps, eternally expecting the end which does not come until it does.

Notable in this talk rendering was the torching of some straw man arguments. The speaker one by one considered, then discarded, objections to his main points.

Not everyone will know what a strawman argument is. The speaker did not use the term. But I, who am on top of every nuance of critical lingo, except for the ones too crazy to get one’s head around, am in the know. There is even Bernard Strawman, from Tom Irregardless and Me, whom everyone but me knows it is absolutely pointless to call on because all he does is spout off his learning. Bernard Strawman—who is working on his memoirs, with the running title ‘Portrait of a Man.’ Bernard Strawman—whom my firebrand Bible student, Ted Putsch, a college political science major, took an instant dislike to, even tearing a page out of that manuscript and hurling it into the fire to illustrate that ‘everlasting fire’ destroys what is thrown into it, rather than torturing it forever as that windbag maintained Revelation teaches, even as he is far above such an interpretation himself.

A straw man argument is an argument your adversary does not make. Therefore, shooting it down is not the big deal you think it is. Usually the straw man argument is employed dishonestly. The trick is to persuade the uninitiated that your opponent does rely upon it, so that your pulling the rug out from under him causes great injury—hoping no one will notice that he was never on the rug. Since he’s not standing on it, it causes no real trouble at all, expect for diminished reputation in the eyes of those who fell for the ruse.

‘Is it Later than You Think?’ zeroed in on five items of those ‘last days’ parallel passages from Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. For each item, the speaker defused objections to it.

The 5 ‘last days’ items considered were 1) nation rising against nation, 2) earthquakes, 3) food shortages, 4) pestilences, and 5) increase of lawlessness.

The objection to each is that, ‘Duh—of course we hear about this more! There is better communication today’ and/or ‘There are more people today. Of course more will be affected!’ But—and here is where discarding the straw man comes into play—you can acknowledge the above and still the 5 points are meaningful.

Take earthquakes, for example. Are there more of them that ever before? In 2002, the Awake magazine (March 22) let stand without molestation the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center report that “earthquakes of 7.0 magnitude and greater have remained ‘fairly constant’ throughout the 20th century.” It didn’t try to correct that august body with, ‘Oh no!—They’ve been on the increase—the Bible says so!’

Instead, discarding the straw man, they say, ‘Who cares? Is it the Richter number that makes for ‘great earthquakes’ or the people affected? Does anyone pull out their hair about the Sahara desert earthquake that affects nobody?’ The prophesy stands.

Same thing with food shortages, pestilences, the increase in lawlessness. A key ingredient for these things to be notable is that there be more people to notice and be affected by them. That still doesn’t mean the signs are not valid.

You can spin a lot of corollaries, some of which the speaker did. Yes, of course you can say pestilence affects far people because there are far more people. But you can also say—‘Sheesh, you’d think science (unheard of back then) would have made more of a dent. Instead, human mismanagement, even with science, compounds the problem—witness the current debacle over Covid-19. You can even go conspiratorial (which the speaker did not, though I do) and picture Pharma contemplating, ‘Do you have any idea how many drugs we could sell if we could break down the human immune system under the guise of helping it?!’

You can even go for the added terror of ‘nation shall rise against nation’ by pointing out how science makes it worse—with lethal weapons that affect you though you be far removed from the battlefield.

It made me think of a certain atheist cheerleader at the door who leaned into me, with “Why do you Jehovah’s Witnesses always think that things are getting worse? What is it about that view that does it for you?” I answered that It helped me to explain why the Doomsday Clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight and not 10:30 AM.

Things are getting worse because 1) people are getting worse, or 2) they’re no more odious than they ever were but, whereas you could once put elbow room between you and they, now with a shrinking world and greater communication reach, you cannot.

In the end it makes no difference. Under either scenario, things get worse. Torch that strawman. The only ones who don’t see it are the exJWs on the internet who think, now that they have broken free from the cult, the world is their oyster. Everyone else knows it’s going to hell in a handbasket.

ED8008B7-EECD-4823-AB61-3BCD96CC5761

 

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Why do I think of that Superman movie where the Man of Steel is about to square off with his counterpart Super Villian and some plebe says, 'This is going to be good!'

It’s the play we’re watching, not the actors in the play. You don’t have to know the names of the actors to follow the play. It can even be a distraction if you do. Besides, naming a villain, or even a hero, creates the impression that removing that person will change matters. Instead, another actor who has all the lines down pat steps onto the stage and the play continues with barely a hiccup.

So it is that the Watchtower seldom names names or points to specific schemes. I often follow suit. But sometimes the players and schemes are so intriguing that I go astray.

So here is Scott Adams, the guy who draws Dilbert, tweeting that he is “skeptical of anything that can’t be explained in a sentence." He’s talking about the keynote address at the WEF (World Economic Forum) meeting in Davos: 'Master the Future.' "What exactly do they do?" he added. "And why?"

To which tweet Elon Musk appended: “Master the Future” doesn’t sound ominous at all … How is WEF/Davos even a thing? Are they trying to be the boss of Earth!?"

Scott Adams is happily playing second fiddle to Elon Musk these days. He had come to the defense of the Covid 19 vaccine previously, but now he has done a complete turnaround, coupled with an apology: "I would like to publicly apologize for continuously ignoring the "accurate data" on Covid that people sent me for three years," he tweeted (Jan 24th) 

Musk and he are best buds now. Scott floats the idea of whether he could win were he to run in the California Senate race. "Please run; that would be awesome," Elon responds.

Twitter is where it's at now that Musk bought it and let the dissenting voices back in that are still banned most anywhere else for going against prevailing narrative. Bernard Strawman will be ecstatic. There is now 'dialogue' on that social media site that there is nowhere else. Musk let Peter McCullough back in, for example. The guy is the top published cardiologist in the country, maybe in the world. He had thought his stature gave him an untouchable status to dispute the prime vaccine directive, but he was wrong. Not long ago he was sweating it that his medical license was about to be pulled, a fate he has so far avoided.  

After Musk tweeted that it “isn’t clear whether, all things considered, a second booster helps or hurts,” Yahoo News (1/12) took to explaining "what studies show." They show he's wrong, was their verdict--as it is everyone's verdict who wishes to remain on social media--or was until Twitter went apostate on them.

Elon Musk casts doubt on whether a 2nd COVID booster helps or hurts. Here’s what studies show. (yahoo.com)

'Vaccine hesitancy' is a real problem today, Yahoo lamented. Musk shouldn't go pouring on the gasoline. True, "when bivalent boosters were first given emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, some were concerned about the lack of human clinical trial data, but updated information from clinical trials has since become available."  Pfizer provided it. They said their stuff was okay. Besides, "the CDC says serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely rare following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination.”

Oh yeah? Well, it almost killed me, Musk tweeted. He "had major side effects from my second booster shot. Felt like I was dying for several days. Hopefully, no permanent damage, but I dunno." To which newly liberated, as though from Babylon, McCullough attached a name to what Musk had experienced and said that given his age and level of fitness he would probably be okay. Musk added to his first tweet, "And my cousin, who is young & in peak health, had a serious case of myocarditis. Had to go to the hospital."

Speaking of going to the hospital: The Buffalo Bills home team's playbook incorporated the player who collapsed after arising from a routine tackle returning to the stadium and attempting to spur them to victory with his signature heart gesture. Alas, to no avail. They lost.

I had seen the fellow fall three weeks earlier. He rose from making a routine tackle, then fell over as though dead, a startled Bengal jumping away. EMT worked on him near 20 minutes as teammates gathered around, some in tears, some in prayer, before taking him off to the hospital. After an hour of uncertainly, the game was suspended. Tens of thousands of fans were sent home. He is still said to be on oxygen in critical condition.

There was instant speculation on social media that it was vaccine-induced myocarditis, same as with Musk's cousin. That occurred to me right away. Healthy athletes are dropping over dead right and left these days. The book that says it best is 'Cause Unknown: the Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022,' by Edward Dowd, a finance guy who's used to spotting trends. In it are hundreds of young people who have, since 2021, died unexpectedly for no reason. Each is verified by QR code so you can go and check for yourself. Furthermore, he has gathered the life insurance charts that show a 40% spike in unknown-cause deaths in the final quarter of 2021, when vaccine mandates kicked in.

Dowd avoids the 'Who' and he avoids the 'Why.' He does only the 'What' and the 'When.' He takes the low-hanging fruit that others go beyond and in the process step into land mines. Tackle the 'who' and the 'why' and you are instantly labeled a conspiracy theorist. But anyone with an eye for detail and a knack for digging things up can tackle the 'what' and the 'when.'

So instantly I thought of the possibility--even though the Explainer explained that I shouldn't think it.

EXPLAINER: What happened to Damar Hamlin? | AP News

I was smart enough not to put it on social media, but there was fierce reaction to those who did:

Vaccine misinformation surges on social media, Fox News after NFL player Damar Hamlin's onscreen heart attack | Fortune and

Twitter Is a Megaphone for ‘Sudden Death’ Vaccine Conspiracies | WIRED

They do pile on, but welcome to social media. No wonder the JW organization's not thrilled with it. The only caveat to the loutish behavior, which was not pointed out, was that the accusers had been pummeled for months, and even banned if they said the 'wrong thing.' ‘Step out of line, the man comes and takes you away.’ Now they are unleashed, and like those bees from the abyss, they are furious that it took so long.

'It's despicable that conspiracy theorist wackos would knee-jerk bring up the Covid vaccine!' was the prevailing sentiment. But others responded that of course you would think of possible causes--the stuff is known to trigger myocarditis--just as for the longest time if you wanted to go anywhere you were queried over whether you'd been to the Far East recently. 

The tackle that felled the Bills player, after he had first arisen "didn’t appear unusually violent," the Explainer explained. Maybe it was "a rare type of trauma called commotio cordis . . . [which] occurs when a severe blow to the chest causes the heartbeat to quiver, leading to sudden cardiac arrest."

How rare is this? "Commotio cordis occurs “probably 20 times a year,” said the article, as it neglected to mention that the padded NFL gear is specifically designed to shield against such blows to the chest.

Now Musk has let these dissenting voices like McCullough--and Dowd, he had been banned too--back in for the sake of dialogue. Just like Mr. Strawman, he thinks dialogue is good. He even says (Jan/16) he is tweaking algorithms so as to send opposing views your way, though you can tweak them away in settings if you want to live in an 'echo chamber.' Yikes! Does this mean Vic Vomodog and Larsen Ahithorolf are my reluctant new best friends? Twitter has become the cutting edge place to be. 

Musk takes on the high and mighty: “We shouldn’t be obsessed with WEF/Davos, but they take themselves sooo seriously that making fun of them is awesome,” he tweets. And, "My reason for declining the Davos invitation was not because I thought they were engaged in diabolical scheming, but because it sounded boring af lol,” attaching an emoji wearing sunglasses.

Elon Blasts WEF Effort to Run World, Tucker Finishes Them Off – RedState

Yeah, well we didn't invite you anyway, they respond. He contradicts their narratives. “WEF is increasingly becoming an unelected world government that the people never asked for and don’t want,” he says. And herein lies the tie-in to the age-old biblical drama: it is about government.

There's evidence he's getting under their skin. The EU Commissioner of Values and Transparancy, who of course is there attending, says:

"I [once] had quite a high level of confidence when it comes to Twitter. I have to say that we worked with knowledgeable people, with the lawyers, with sociologists who understood that they have to behave in some decent way, not to cause really big harm to society. I always felt that this notion of responsibility was there. So this is what I don't feel from Elon Musk personally. . . " 

and even issues an eerie--is it a warning?--"Our message was clear. We have rules which have to be complied with. And otherwise there will be sanctions."

Why do I think of that Superman movie where the Man of Steel is about to square off with his counterpart SuperVillian and some plebe says, 'This is going to be good!'

We is gonna get some dialogue! Newsweek is one of the first to break ranks. Don’t think that your critical thinking skills are going to navigate you through this chaos. The trouble with critical thinking is that those who most vehemently advocate for it are apt to think they have a lock on the stuff. Critical thinkers appear pretty evenly split on Covid matters.

As for JW HQ, they noted that you couldn’t do anything without getting vaccinated, and they did want to do things, so they complied along with most everyone else. They monitored the congregation, noted people weren’t dropping dead upon taking it, and gave the green light after an initial period of‘neutrality.’

094B98F8-7057-4861-9122-7CD9FF684356Trouble is, this entire post will be obsolete is in month.* That's how fast-moving things are. But maybe it's all evidence that we are not in the last days and that we are not just hanging on by a thread.

Meanwhile, the coalition of Frontline doctors, the ones who testified before Congress (I heard them) that they were having astounding success treating Covid-19 with Ivermectin, have released tips for how those suffering from vaccine injury, even long Covid, might benefit.

*Obsolete in a month? Since the above post was written, Musk, who he wouldn’t go because it was dull and the WEC, who said no way would they invite him, have gotten together and he did speak:

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Yikes! A Bad Review of TrueTom vs the Apostates: Part 1

Vic Vomodog screamed at me, the way he does these days—and to think we once pulled shoulder to shoulder in the great work! “When you even USE THE TERM ‘overlapping generations’, it admits tacitly that a generation is A GENERATION which has a singular definition.”

Look, this is not hard. From the standpoint of the listener, the generation of  his contemporaries ends when the lifespans of every one of them has expired. The lifespans of geezers like myself go back 100 years. The lifespans of my grandkids go 100 years in the other direction.

It’s a Bible interpretation. Can I prove it? No. Can I disprove it? No. But it is not particularly hard to understand. Should the bros have made it? I have no idea; it’s not my call. If it’s wrong it’s on them. All I have to do is acknowledge, ‘Well, that’s what they’re saying these days.’

Why risk joining those donkeys from 2 Peter heehawing over how since the days of our forefathers all things are exactly the same?* I see the malcontents on the ex forum ecstatic over how, now that they have cut loose from the faith, the world is their oyster, offering them boundless possibilities for personal fulfillment. Everyone else knows it’s going to hell in a handbasket.

F884A127-98A3-40F1-9D8B-286E65A44F88Though few of them would know who was president the year prior to their birth, they have made themselves “expert” on a tiny sliver of ancient Persian history. The exJW who emailed me a few times and then left a nasty review of the masterpiece ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates’ (UK site) based that review on the 607 topic that is nowhere even mentioned in the book. I mean, if I write a bad review of ‘Gone With the Wind’ it shouldn’t be because I don’t like wind. What this means is I need a few loyal ones to write reviews to balance it out. But even if I get more bad reviews, it’s the tonnage that better puts it on the radar. I mean, the promo material of the book alone makes clear it will be a good read, or at least a unique one. I’ve never seen anyone else cover the material in depth. Nor is it the end. Already it is time for ‘Round 2’ but there are several intervening projects.

(Photo:Gone with the Wind Museum in Marietta.jpg, Wikipedia)

So eager is this fellow to undermine his former religion—and yes, I have the email exchange, which I will reproduce in time—that he cites some book claiming WWI was not that big of a deal, that there have been many similar ‘world wars’ and that even WWI wasn’t originally called that. ‘Yeah, it’s because they didn’t realize at the time there as going to be a sequel,’ I told him When they did, that would have been the perfect time for them to rechristen it “World War VII” per his theory. If I didn’t know better (and I don’t unless/until I check it out) I’d say the book was written solely to undermine Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have never heard of world war redefined.

I really don’t mind if it breaks down this way. Whatever the merits of 607, it does call attention to the fact that God has a timetable. Irrespective of our efforts to figure it out, he does have one. Let these guys take the other side of that—that he doesn’t, and in fact, there is no government of God nor even any need for one, that humans are doing pretty well on their own, thank you very much. Let them take that side. It goes back to the original issue from Eden. God says humans can’t rule themselves (know good and bad). They say they can. I don’t mind it shaking out that way.

“The game is the same; it’s just up on another level,” to put Bob Dylan’s words in a context he never dreamed they would be put in.

*First of all know this, that in the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

To be continued….here

(Not to worry: This does not mean the series ‘Things that drive you crazy about the faith—and how to view them” is complete. It has just been temporarily superseded.)

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Doesn’t That New Wild Beast Look an Awful Lot Like the Bible Wild Beasts?

It didn’t take long for word to spread about the new UN statue—doesn’t it look a lot like one of those end-time Bible beasts? "Did they really think that they could put this up without anyone noticing?" said Michael Snyder, who runs a religious blog.

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UN Photo: Manuel Elias

The statue reminds me of Geoffrey Jackson’s words that, not only does Jehovah do something, but he does it in style. No, not that Jehovah prods them to erect that statue, or any other. It is a gift from the Mexican government. But it’s like when people do something unknowingly that fits right in to the narrative, almost like one of those hooks in jaws scenarios.

I mean, come on! Here the JW organization has for 80 years identified the UN organization as the wild beast that “was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss,” the wild beast that is the image of the one that “was like a leopard, but its feet were like those of a bear, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth [which] the dragon gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority,” the wild beast that draws its power from the seven world powers of Bible history it reflects, the wild beast that through it ALL the (ten) kings of the earth get a temporary crack at world rulership—who can forget that Daniel vision of the beast like a lion with wings of an eagle?—the JW organization puts such identification on the table, and then the UN itself erects a statue as though to say, “Yep—that’s us!” A guy can be forgiven the feeling that someone is manipulating the minions.

Enter Scopes.com, the secular fact-checking site. Snopes.com, who wouldn’t know the significance of a scripture if they choked on one as a chicken bone. Snopes.com, who explains it all away by observing that, yes it is a composite beast, and yes, there are similar beasts in Daniel and Revelation, but this beast says it is good and the beasts of the Bible say they are bad—and besides, the Bible vision is a flying lion, whereas the UN displays a flying jaguar, and don’t those Bible crazies know the science of zoology? With this bit of secular theology, Snopes figures it has fact-checked the case closed.

Don’t get your wild beasts from Snopes, who wouldn’t know a wild beast from a gerbil. Get them from Jehovah’s Witnesses who would and who have written it up here.

It’s not enough that the UN erects that swords-into-plowshares statue from Isaiah and it’s but inspirational sloganeering for them without a prayer of it ever becoming reality and then Jehovah’s Witnesses come along and implement it without fuss?

Now, the fly in the ointment of saying that international organization for bringing peace and security to the world, presuming to do what only God’s kingdom can do and thus betraying its ‘blasphemous’ nature—the fly in the ointment of saying that international organization is the mighty eighth king that draws its power from the seven is that it sure doesn’t act mighty. The sky-blue helmeted troops that nobody pays any attention to trying to enforce peace, whereas everybody knows you don’t put troops in sky-blue helmets. I mean, they’re sort of like Boy Scouts—they mean well but are not to be taken seriously.

Maybe what must be done is reappraise the beast giving breath (Revelation 13:15) to the image of the beast, and figure just when does it do that? At its creation, yes, first as its 1919 forerunner League of Nations, then, after it goes into the abyss and re-emerges, as the United Nations, yes, then it “tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the wild beast that had the sword-stroke and yet revived.” (Vs 14)

But there’s not a lot more breath breathed into it. You don’t breathe life into it while the harlot is riding high, hailing it as the “political expression of God’s kingdom on earth” at exactly the same time as Jehovah’s Witnesses are galvanized to “advertise, advertise, advertise the [real] king and his kingdom. You breathe life into it once is has grown weary of the harlot and is showing signs of bucking it—once the dominant culture has turned atheistic.

You don’t breathe life into it until the times immediately ahead? That humanistic framework is put in place as of the image’s founding, and then not much is done with it—until what is just ahead of us? Is it with the UN Agenda 2030 that life is breathed into it, and with that human scheme “the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who refuse to worship the image of the wild beast [as] It puts under compulsion all people—the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves—that these should be marked on their right hand or on their forehead, and that nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.”  (Vs 15-18)

The humanistic way of saving the earth—tamp down that population growth. What can be better than pushing sexual conduct that won’t result in babies? Cool down that planet. How better to do it than squeezing out fossil fuels so that sun and wind will pick up the slack and if it doesn’t—well then, adjust. Redistribute that money. How better to do it that destroying the economy and re-emerging it in a great reset? Tamp down those freedoms people fixate on—they can’t handle them. Remake religion so that it’s ‘my way or the highway’—if it comes on board for backing human schemes, it can stay for now.

None of this can be done openly, for people love their own comfort and they love their own nations. They won’t stand by to see them eviscerated. It must be done clandestinely and it must be done by trillionaires—nobody else would have the wherewithal to pull it off. Oh, yeah—plenty of conspiracies can be spun from this. The problem with conspiracy theories is that, once a few of them turn out to be true, you tend to believe anything that comes down the pipe.

Some of the current conspiracy theories involve COVID 19, its origin, its trajectory, and regimens to deal with it. I’ve read the Breggin and the Mercola books and they do make for good reads—both of them heavily endnoted. The trouble is their solution to thwarting a conspiracy always lies in reverting to the status quo—as if all was hunky dory before COVID-19 revealed itself. Breggin keeps referring to those who benefit—and there are those who benefit enormously—as “global predators”fixated on their own “power, wealth, and self-aggrandizement.” If he says it once, he says it a dozen times. Why does he do that? They are humans fixing the planet—the humanistic way.

On the other hand, the nations of this earth always paint themselves with laudable goals. They never paint themselves as beasts. Yet that is how the Bible paints them, for that is how they behave—ripping, tearing, and devouring each other and whoever is caught in the crossfire. Sometimes they even turn on their own citizens in the guise of helping them. So maybe Breggin is on to something after all.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

The Vision that Keeps Panting Toward the End but Will Not Tell a Lie

For [the] vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

 

When it comes to looking forward to the end, they’re not much for risk management at the Witness support organization. They tend to go in whole hog. Even Ramipo does not represent a hedging of that view, as someone suggested. ‘It’s to facilitate increased preaching,’ they say, ‘if we don’t use it in this system, we’ll use it in the next.’ Brothers are shocked at current events—how can people not be?—and read nearness of the end into it. It’s human nature, a not unreasonable enhancement of what even J.Q.Public shouts these days: “What is this world is coming to?!”fully to be expected of people whose trademark m.o. is ‘keep on the watch.’ My non-Witness dad, with no use for religion, would say the world “was going to hell in a hand basket.”

Should the Witness organization take the other side of that sentiment and try to tamp down expectations? Even were they inclined to do that (and they’re not), they would not dare, for fear of running afoul of “where is this promised presence of his? Why from the days of our forefathers all things are continuing….” Let others try to normalize today’s outrageous events if they will. It’s not their job to do so. Several years ago a Regional began with observing how quickly the world normalizes absolutely shocking new developments.

Gays took decades to enter the mainstream, transgenders mere months, and the notion of many genders but minutes. A British survey expresses dismay that only about 1/3 of persons inquire as to a new acquaintances preferred pronouns. To which anyone of common sense is surprised that it is as many as it is. The trend is only a few years old. Beatlemania did not sweep the world so quickly.

Alas, are not true Christians doomed to be chumps in the eyes of the greater world, so that there is little point in not accepting that ‘fate,’ taking our place with those who suffer evil from an unbelieving and critical, world? I even cut Camping plenty of slack on his simplistic end-of-the-world formula a few years back in my treatise on how to predict the end of the world. At least he’s keeping on the watch, I said. It beats those who are just sitting on their hands.

What to make of the divine/human interface? The USCIRF decried in an article critical of the anticult movement, that it is because that movement presumes to arbitrate religious truth that it is so objectionable. Specifically, it is that the only divine/human interface allowable to the anticult movement is the one-on-one gnostic kind, and that anyone coming between a person and his/her own private interpretation of God is a manipulator intent on mind-control. The movement disallows completely the idea that God may just operate in that way, that he may lead his people by means of other people. He certainly has in the past—in fact, he has seldom broke from that pattern. Moreover, the reason the modern secular age would stipulate the gnostic interface only is in order that the resulting religious views always remains disunited and thus easy to scatter or absorb into a humanist world—in short, that they never add up to much of anything, they never become a force that an irreligious world feels obliged to reckon with. It is a way of ‘keeping your religion in its place, and make sure it’s in last place.’

 ….

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Filling Jerusalem With All Your Teaching

God is our refuge and strength, A help that is readily found in times of distress. That is why we will not fear, though the earth undergoes change, though the mountains topple into the depths of the sea, though its waters roar and foam over, though the mountains rock on account of its turbulence.” (Ps 46:1-3)

There is a sense—not just among  JWs—but among many, that things are coming together as though in a grand finale. “Doomscrolling” is the newly coined phrase; people scroll through social media to read item after item announcing their doom, be it extreme weather, economic chaos, pandemic, protests, or riot. Fixtures as rocklike and dependable as mountains, “topple into the depths of the sea”—the sea which is alway restless and so well typifies human instability. The very “earth undergoes change” as sturdy human governments reveal themselves fragile, and unhinged zealots yank them this way and that. “Future historians will be asked what quarter of 2020 do they specialize in,” is the new meme. Applied to any other year, it makes no sense. Applied to 2020, anyone can identify with it.

Add to this factors which JWs will especially appreciate, though they will not be lost on all others. What are the chances that the one worldwide religion that categorically rejects participation in war in any capacity for any reason will be declared “extremist?” Yet such is the case in Russia, and Witnesses will recall a multitude of verses to the effect that “if they have hated me [Jesus], they will hate you.” Two of the nine Sermon on the Mount beatitudes have to do with being persecuted for staying true to the cause.

At the same time, suddenly the preaching work cannot be done in any sort of normal way, and in lieu of this it was mentioned some might have the tendency to say “We’re done,” and wait to see how events unfold. I mean, can you really “fill Jerusalem with all your teaching” (Acts 5:28, cited in last week’s study—it’s a two part series) when you are reduced to letter-writing and phone calls? It is a bit of a high hurdle.

As to making phone calls, one local brother addressed “fears”—“It’s not so much the fear of doing it as it is the fear of being ineffective” that discourages him. Dampening my enthusiasm is my own self-awareness. Under no circumstances do I answer calls from unknown numbers—scammers will eat you alive if you do that. Callers can leave a message if it’s legitimate. 

Don’t most people do that? It has evolved over time. Mike used to devour Consumer Reports; consequently, he knew whatever product telemarketers were trying to sell better than they, and he would tear apart whatever crappy item they were hawking—his wife said it was a real hoot to watch him. And I have taken the tip before to witness to these characters—the phony Microsoft people with the Indian accents were stopped cold when I did that—but to me it involves using the truth as an offensive weapon. It’s not what I do. Naw—there’s just too many of them and people have things to do. Easier just to mute the phone.

Too, I’ll gear up to write a letter but then reflect that if I write a post instead I’ll reach dozens, ultimately hundreds—and I’ll get feedback too, which doesn’t happen much with individual letters. So I confess my participation in these two areas has been scant—not nonexistent, but scant. When we did door-to-door I focused on Sundays and evenings because that’s when the most people are home—not only home, but relaxed. Sigh—now we are “fishers of men” as before, but with a fishing line so long that you can barely see the fish.

So it’s my bad. I’ll have to get more in sync because I don’t like not being so, and even as we speak I am. Still, I was surprised that the move would be to replicate virtually the physical territory and car group experience—I mean, letter writing is not really a group activity. I even thought the virus might result in breaking away from “counting time” which works for keeping records but also triggers artificial situations.

I thought, for example, that starting with one’s own phone number, one might text each successive number. With the same area code, they’re not likely to be too far away, and since it is all virtual, who cares if they are? It seems you could more readily “fill Jerusalem with your teaching” that way. But it didn’t happen. Fairly soon came the word that bad results had come that way; some had received abusive or apostate replies. Well, “deal with it” I thought—that can happen anywhere. Still, I texted no more. It is a little dicey throwing out your phone number to all anyway.

But if you really want to “fill Jerusalem with your teaching”—isn’t “trending” the modern term for this? And where do things trend? Through phone calls and letters? Or isn’t it through social media? I wish we weren’t so averse to it. It’s not that someone can’t do it, but if you say that you do it is a little like butchering that trumpet burst and everyone in the orchestra stares at you aghast. So I don’t say it, at least not much. If I had my druthers, though, it would be considered a glass half-full, rather than a glass half-empty.

There is an art to it, but so is there is to everything. It’s not everything, but must it be nothing? You have to friend or follow those in the general community and not just the brothers if you don’t want to be preaching to the choir. And you have to engage with them on their topics, not just yours, not the Bible alone, or you drive most away. It’s pretty much like interacting in the physical neighborhood in which you live.

I like it when brothers are seamless on social media with their faith and their secular life, putting it out there for anyone to see how their latter is influenced by their former. Few do it. It’s almost as though friends have separate languages for believers and non-believers, belaboring only the most basic scriptures for the latter and thus stunting their own spiritual growth if they are not careful. 

Add it to the mix is what I would like to see, not replace the mix with it. The idea is to be well-rounded. Huge possibilities exist with  with regard to linking to items in JW.org. For the most part, we leave them untapped. 

Now, don’t misunderstand. Saying I would like to see something is not the same as saying: “This is what they should do,” just as as saying you would like an X-box is not the same as saying people should give you one. Some brother a while back advised Bethel that they should be stockpiling food, and Anthony Morris chuckled at the thought of such unsolicited guidance: “Imagine—a brother telling the Governing Body that they should be hoarding up supplies,” he mused wryly. I don’t want him saying: “Imagine—that yo-yo TrueTom saying the Governing Body should dispatch the friends to Facebook and Twitter!”

I get why we don’t. Isn’t the internet of the equivalent of the broad roads “trampled on by men?” Aren’t there even a lot of swine there, so that you think of the verse: “Do not give what is holy to dogs nor throw your pearls before swine, so that they may never trample them under their feet and turn around and rip you open?”  (Matthew 7:6) Let’s face it—I mean, no one will dispute this—there are plenty of swine on the internet. Many many times I have witnessed nasty battling of the trolls in areas of polarized opinion and I have said how nice it is that we stay out of public catfights—it lends our work a certain dignity. But that was before the pandemic.

Why should haters own the internet? Take a stand and deal with them if they show up. Any troll is OCD and usually toxic. The greater world will counsel to avoid such persons, not just us. Ought we not be “always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect?” (1 Peter 3:15) We run like scared rabbits from opposers. Dish them out an answer or two and block them should they get obnoxious. For the longest time I blocked no one by replying with a link to something I had written on whatever topic they were harping one, effectively answering their 30 words with my 1000–link to something on JW.org if you don’t have your own stuff, or even if you do. But one day they ganged up on me and I did end up blocking a few. Still, I am always surprised to find that I am blocked by opposers I have hardly interacted with—more of them block me than me them.

Ah, well. “The wise one is cautious and turns away from evil, but the stupid one is reckless and overconfident.”  (Proverbs 14:16) Maybe I’m just stupid—and impatient. I write this post within days of two heralded vaccine breakthroughs—Pfizer and Moderna each coming up with something 95% effective. If genuine, that’s huge—we are pestered to get annual flu shots that are never more than 50% effective, often much less. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Is it that of an oncoming train? Or is it genuine light during which we may brace ourselves for the next tunnel? Maybe we will be back door-to-door soon, or at least cart witnessing. And in the meantime, new skills have been developed. My wife has come to enjoy phone calls—she is quite good at it, and letter writing to professionals with the ‘What is God’s Kingdom?’ issue, such as is being done this month is a significant unified accomplishment. 

“This is the government that has health in it’s platform,” I wrote to one of them, “and not just health care.”

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'