Just Lacking a Few Duck Stragglers

A speaker at the 1974 District Convention in NYC held up the Daily News. Ford had just replaced Nixon and he wanted to psyche everyone up. Huge headlines read: 'Peace and Security!' "Have you seen today's headlines?" he cried.

It was irresistible. I would have done it, too.

One day will be THE day but it is hard to know up front which one it will be. It does add weight, however, that this world gets more unhinged with each and every passing day. Ducks were lined up back then, but only six or seven. Today the lineup is 195. Still waiting for a straggler or two.

How long does the experiment in human rule continue, before it is amply demonstrated a total failure in need of God's kingdom to strike the feet of iron and clay?

Will terrorists one day walk the streets like the cop used to walk his beat?

Will it come about that it is just as likely to see a pregnant man as a pregnant woman?

Will the species threaten to die out, because sex with AI robots so out-appeals the real thing?

Or will these scenes not need to play out? 8394384671_e2dd96f4b9_b

 

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Is Not the Election a Godsend for Witnessing?

“Bob Corker...couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, [and] is now fighting Tax Cuts,” Trump tweeted today. Corker shot back with the charge he has made before - that the White House is a day care center in need of better supervision.

Even the circuit overseer last week spoke of what to do if someone tries to draw you into a fight over 'that crazy Trump' - whether he thought Trump was crazy or was just quoting others is unclear. For the most part, our people know nothing of politics and when they weigh in at all, it is to say: "he's bombastic, and I try to be polite."

As far as I am concerned the election is a godsend - and it has nothing to do with Trump himself, but with the catfights it ignites among persons once thought reasonable. It used to be that if you quoted 2 Timothy 3:1-5 about people being 'fierce and unreasonable and not open to any agreement' and your householder did not agree that the verse applied now more than at any other time, there was not much you could do about it.

There still isn't, however the spectacle of supposedly smart people screaming at each other day in and day out makes it less likely they will deny it. Animal-1299573_960_720

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Hit Me and You Die!

The shrewd student of God's word is not easily deceived by signs of the 'last days.' When someone points to shooting gallery terrorist attacks or imminent World War III, he smiles and moves on. He does not seize upon such low-hanging fruit. It is eye candy, which the evil one dangles before him so to watch him jump. It is an intended sucker punch, and he declines to insert his face in the path of the blow.

Instead, he follows the subtle pulse of day-to-day reality, and here he finds the proof - 1000 times - in doings so subtle that they miss entirely the attention of the average donkey. He recognizes, for example, that in the pond of urine he spies under every urinal lies sure proof of the decline of humanity.

In my entire life, I may have spilled two or three drops of urine. The principles of peeing have been understood from the days of righteous Lot. It is not rocket science - or if it is the propulsion theories behind it have long been mastered.

Another sign of the last days can be discerned driving the very highways and byways of the mighty country. One's eye casually drifts over to the guardrails, with the warm and fuzzy knowledge that if you should veer off the road, these mother hens of engineering with ever so gently nudge you back on the road to life, What a shock to discover a railing whose end might as well contain the words: 'Hit me and you die!" Image (1)

Dozens of highly educated engineers have okayed this latest advance in human protection. Scores of adminisrators after them. Experts in the field of public safety have said by the dozens: "I certainly see no problem with this design.' Hundreds of people have installed them and if they gave any feedback - they probably did - their higher-ups rejected it all because it came from untrained ignoramuses.

Third and the most telling sign of the last days being imminent is uncovered in the trade publications that monitor real estate and use of office space. In a tiny note on page 337 at the bottom right corner is a notation from the Office of the Devil that he has run out of special places in hell.

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Rocketman

Imagine - calling the other guy Rocketman at the U.N. and getting the whole world to join in the refrain. How can you not give a thumbs-up when a guy does that? And then some kid comes along and photoshops an Elton John concert playing that very song, replacing John's head with Kim's, and inserts the huge video screen backdrop of North Korean rockets wheeling about, the shrill newscaster shrieking, the troops goosestepping - how do you expect any guy with a sense of humor to hold it together? It is as Paul said - the world is a theater.

The only thing that might check your hilarity briefly is the unpleasant thought that a misstep, for starters,  will result in half the planet up in smoke. But that is small potatoes.

Is it reckless? Tillerson certainly seems the more stable of the two, doesn't he? Unless they are both playing good cop/bad cop. And, to be fair, while everyone hopes for diplomacy, the diplomacy that has led straight up to the present situation and will presumably lead up to one where North Korean missiles are parked on your toes, should at least be mentioned as having worked out not that splendidly. Isn't there a Neville someone-or-other who favored negotiations back during another evil time? Or do I misunderstand even that? The trouble with history is that whenever you think you have something figured out, along comes someone from a different perspective to upend all your notions.

Meanwhile, it was Putin - mean, nasty, Chief Officer of Evil, His Wickedness, 'murderer and a thug' Putin - all that remains in the West is to photoshop him with Devil's horns, grinning ear-to-ear at his laptop as he hacks US elections - who supplied a key bit of understanding when he visited China. Sanctions will never work on North Korea, he said - Kim will see every single one of his people starved to death before he will give up on his nukes. Why? Because he knows about Libya and Iraq. Though Saddam swore up and down he had no weapons of mass destruction - which turned out to be exactly correct - that did not stop his enemies from taking him out and killing a family member or two in the process.

Look, he is not my friend - Putin. I mean, he hasn't exactly been nice to my people, Jehovah's Witnesses, lately, has he? But give credit where credit is due. He nailed it. Tellingly, when CNBC or someone covered that Chinese meeting - if Putin so much as tied his shoe there, they reported it - they covered every detail EXCEPT his statement about Saddam, thus allowing perception to stand in the US that Kim is completely unhinged - a perception he does nothing to clear up by his own pontifications - listening to him is not exactly like listening to John Tesh, is it?

Jehovah's Witnesses are neutral in the world's affairs for noble reasons - it is not God's idea for the world to be carved up into scores of squabbling factions ever playing 'King-of-the-Mountain" and he will soon act to  bring about his own kingdom replacement. However, another reason to be neutral - albeit a less noble one - is that it is almost impossible to get the truth on anything - you are forever acting in the dark - for every outlet spins 'truth' their own way according to their own agenda. Even Western media condemnation about calling Kim Rocketman must be weighed against their approval of calling Putin a murderer and a thug, a Senator's description that they picked up on and used freely. Is it wise to taunt him like that? Whenever in my house-to-house ministry I spot a murderer and a thug, I cross over to the other side of the street. Rocketman

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Evil Losers, Not Cowards, Those of Senseless Violence, or Those Seeking to Change Society

In the aftermath of Manchester, if words can be called refreshing, surely "evil losers" fits the bill. As Trump says, you don't call them monsters; they will like that designation. These are not people who look at themselves in the mirror and gasp: "what have I become?"

Nor do you call them 'cowards.' To give your life in support of a cause, any cause, is the very opposite of cowardly.

Nor do you carry on about ‘senseless violence.’ If your goal is to kill people, it makes perfect sense.

Nor do you carry on ineffectually about how "we will not change our way of life because that is what they terrorists want." I suspect they do not want that at all; what they want is for people to continually prance around openly like bowling pins, easy to knock down. Surely if you say such inane things about not changing your way of life, you should acknowledge that it is at the cost of funding 100 cops in riot gear, whereas one with a baton used to suffice.

In their quest to undermine the President, I half expect journalists to turn critical of his label, describing it as 'judgmental', 'knee-jerk,' or juvenile. There's only so much you can do with rhetoric. But I'll take it over what we've had to hear in the past any day.

I like "evil losers" also because it doesn't pretend to have a handle on the problem, as some other responses have. Banal remarks about not succeeding in the fight to change a way of life implies that terrorists are merely a nuisance, like mosquitoes.

Of course, what can never be addressed is how easy it is today to transform people into evil losers. And how, if you succeed in taking one out, there are ten in the wings waiting to take his place. Or, when mighty nations are bombing the snot out of weaker ones, how easy it is to turn on the citizens of that nation, thinking them not so innocent after all, since they vote into office the ones who order the bombing.

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It helps me to explain why the doomsday clock says five minutes to midnight and not ten-thirty AM!

Ted Putsch remarked that we really ought to be going. He’d been saying this off and on, but I didn’t want to leave Mr. Strawman in the lurch. I overlooked Ted’s impatience because I knew he was concerned about the car group waiting in the driveway. After all, as teacher, I had taught him to be considerate. As he was making to leave, Bernard Strawman asked: “Tell me, because I really want to understand. Why do you want to think that everything is getting worse? What does that view do for you?”

Image“It helps me to explain why the doomsday clock says five minutes to midnight and not ten-thirty AM!” he said. “I’ll be in the car, Tom,” and he left! Ted Putsch can be so rude. I'll have to help him overcome that. I hope he didn't stumble Mr. Strawman.

.............................

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Norway's Massacre and the Spread of Hate

There's an advantage to being older. It's not a complete downer, as pop 'culchure' might suggest. The advantage is that you remember things. Thus, when they try to sell you turds disguised as diamonds, you can spot that they are turds, even if the moderns eagerly embrace the diamonds, wondering why they fail to satisfy. You can also stand up to other moderns who think people today are no different from those of yesterday....only that they have Ipads, and the ancients didn't.

It's not so much facts you remember. Facts are chronicled pretty well on the internet. It's the flavor of the times you recall, which if that is recorded anywhere, it is sniffed at by those educated today as being “anecdotal.” and thereby unreliable.

For example, I am older than the airline hijackings craze of the 60's. It used to be you could park your car at the airport, buy a ticket, and hop on the plane. Nobody wanted to strip search you. Nobody made you walk through wands, puffers, X-rays, and buzzers. Show up ten minutes before departure time? Not a problem. Wikapedia pretty well captures the hard facts of those first hijackings....they were exclusively to Cuba then, but they completely miss the soft facts....that is, how hijackings and the news coverage thereof changed society.

I remember well the atmosphere, if not the specifics, of that first commercial airliner hijacked in the U.S, for it froze public thought. This would have been 1967 or 1968. The plane sat grounded, I forget at which airport, its crew overpowered by desperadoes with some unspecified demands. They wanted to publicize their demands. This was a new tactic. Nobody in the media knew what to do. Should they treat these fellows as common thugs? Or should they make them celebrities, broadcasting their demands for all the world to hear? The uncertainty lasted a day or two. Finally the news people decided to cooperate....the public had a right to know, and the networks had a right to ratings. Hijackings thereafter became a staple of life, the perfect vehicle for any malcontent to gain a listening ear, though they were somewhat abated by international agreements to arrest and extradite any hijacker to their country of origin. Before the late 1960's, there were 2 or 3 hijackings per year worldwide. After the late 1960's, there were 41 per year. (until 1977, the last year of this study)

Fast forward to 2012 and the public trial of Martin Breivik, a killer whose deeds rank as especially heinous even in an age where the slaughter of innocents is commonplace. Distracting authorities with a car bomb explosion parked by an Oslo government building, he boated to nearby Utøya island disguised as a police officer and shot to death 69 persons, mostly children, at a summer youth camp. Many more were injured.

Now, you don't give someone like this a stage upon which to justify his actions. You just don't. A stage is what this fellow wants more than anything, and the deed itself is his means with which to attain it. "Your trial will be your world stage," Breivik exhorts would-be followers through his on-line manisfesto, posted just before his attacks began. Sigh....of course, authorities are granting him his stage. His trial is broadcast throughout Norway to all local courthouses. It's being given exhaustive news coverage. And is he ever savoring the moment! He glides through the courtroom, smiling, gesturing raised-fisted to the cameras. He has no remorse, he would do it again, he says, he ought to receive a medal. It was self-defense for his race, he claims, and the only time true democracy reigned was when Hitler was in power.

Court psychiatrists, before his trial, declared him insane. This did not please him, for who pays attention to a madman? He wants to be paid attention to. Obligingly, other experts reversed course, and declared him sane, even though 'disturbed.' Pleasing him was not their purpose, of course....it was popular outrage they wished to placate....but it was the effect. Those experts watch him closely during the trial, analyzing words and gestures, so as to determine sanity.

Is it not more fitting to ask whether they are the insane ones? Not individually....I don't mean that...they're all honorable people doing their best. But collectively, what on earth is wrong with them? Doesn't that Romans 1:22 verse come to mind, about people who became foolish while asserting they were wise? Breivik's not insane, he's merely hate-filled. Hate-filled people are dime a dozen. But enabling him to broadcast hate throughout the world, surely it takes an “insane” society to do that. If curdled words spread like gangrene in Paul's day, how much more so now. (2 Tim 2:16) We'll see it here in the States, too. Some sick bastard will do some unspeakable deed, and the televised talking heads will speak about it for weeks, mulling, analyzing, and of course, repeating. It's as though they revel in watching their own demise.

On the PBS NewsHour, Margaret Warner asks: “has concern been expressed that this, even though what he says isn't televised, that this trial is giving him a platform to air his views.....that the openness of this trial is giving him that platform?” Norwegian newsman Anders Tvegard, who'd been smooth to this point, stammers though his response. Tvegard's a man with a conscience, no doubt, and he's not comfortable with his role in connecting the man with an audience. After all, is that not the only real difference between Breviek and Hitler.....Hitler found his audience?

“Norway's now taken back to those horrible hours and days last summer, July 22 and -- July 22,” Tvegard says. “And it's -- the national grief and sorrow is back." Trying valiantly to fashion turds into diamonds, he continues: "At the same time, people are listening to what he's saying, like, thinking, how is this possible? Can he really mean that? And to some, it is good to hear that he is a complete lunatic. His views has no resonance in the rest of the public. He does not belong to a political party......to them, it's comforting to see that he is a maniac.”

But I suspect his 'maniac' label is comforting to the 77 victims' families in the same sense that it was comforting to Jews to discover Hitler was a maniac.....namely, not at all. Though perhaps....just perhaps.....it is comforting to some others in that it permits absolution from any sense of responsibility. Breveik doesn't come “from us.” We didn't produce him. Why, “he does not belong to a political party.” What more proof does one need? Few people.....and the more prominent they are, the more this is true....want to confront the fact that, in some unexplained way, this system of things cranks out hate-filled persons nearly as fast as Apple cranks out Iphones.

I don't write much about Satan on this blog. Many persons who visit are skeptics, and if they laugh their sides off over mention of God, what will they do at mention of Satan? Moreover, it's hard to draw a line of demarcation, to apportion blame between deeds of twisted  humans and the truly satanic. Suffice it to say the world reflects Satan's values....greed, selfishness..."soft" qualities which inevitably fuel eruptions of “hard” qualities, such as murderous hatred. Several times the Bible points to Satan, not God, as the ruler of this system of things. (John 14:30, 2 Cor 4:44, I John 5:19)

Religion, for the most part, serves to put a smiley face on all of this. It deplores the symptoms, to be sure, and suggests no end of band-aid approaches. But it buys into the overall structure of the world, it's division into nations, it's faith in human self-rule....ingredients which inevitably produces the symptoms it deplores. It has no real problem with the overall structure itself, only the symptoms, and tries to put itself into the driver's seat. To my knowledge, only Jehovah's Witnesses recognizes the true cause of world distress: a Satanic rebellion of long ago. Only Jehovah's Witnesses recognize the ultimate solution: destruction of this system of thing to be replaced by God's Kingdom rule from heaven. Only Jehovah's Witnesses restructure their lives, at considerable personal sacrifice, to tell others of these overall causes.

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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Weather on Steroids

At the end of each year, media looks back to recap just what went down in the past 365 days, even as they brace for the new year. Didn't Ogden Nash point out that every new year is the direct descendant of a long line of proven criminals? It was a light and breezy line when he said it, long ago, but over time the criminals are getting nastier and nastier. PBS ran a story Dec 28th titled “How 2011 Became a 'Mind-Boggling' Year of Extreme Weather” Anyone halfway observant knows that last year blew us away (sometimes literally) for extreme weather, but people of scientific bent demand evidence! So here it is:

Whereas normally there are three or four “significant” weather events per year in the U.S, last year chalked up twelve. The prior record breaking year, 2008, ImagesCA1EWC8Wregistered nine. “So, we went a third again in the number of events each of which had greater than a billion dollars, many other events, of course, that just fell below that billion-dollar threshold through the course of that year, quite a remarkable string, quite a remarkable array,” said Kathryn Sullivan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground, added: “we talk about the Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Well, this summer pretty much matched that for temperature, almost the hottest summer in U.S. history. We also talk about the great 1974 tornado outbreak. Well, we had an outbreak that more than doubled the total of tornadoes we had during that iconic outbreak. And, also, we talk about the great 1927 flood on the Mississippi River. Well, the flood heights were even higher than that flood this year. So, it just boggles my mind that we had three extreme weather events that matched those events in U.S. History.”

The story focused on U.S. weather events, but worldwide extremes were not ignored: “Weather around the world showed equal extremes. Australia was hit with record flooding, followed by one of its worst tropical cyclones ever. Floodwaters also ravaged parts of Thailand and China, while the Horn of Africa suffered its worst drought in decades.” Jeff Masters especially keeps track of drought, since that corresponds with social upheaval. Russia cut of wheat exports in 2011, so bad was their drought. Food prices surged, and it's thought that the Arab spring revolts were caused, in part, by that woe.

For my money, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it best in his 2012 State of the State address. He didn't want to get into a debate on global warming, he prefaced, but “100 year floods are now happening every two years, so something is clearly happening.” ImagesCAOK6GNE

Does rotten weather count as one of the signs of the last days that Jesus ticked off? You have to force it a bit. I mean, it's not so directly mentioned as are earthquakes, food shortages, wars, and so forth. Does it fit under the “fearful sights and from heavens great signs” of Luke 21:11? Or is it a factor, among many, that when put together, give relevance to Jesus' fig tree remark? “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:30)

No one in the story's comment section pays any attention to Biblical relevance, of course. They just debate over whether the extremes do or do not indicate global warming, since upon that question hangs major economic policy. One character remarks weather may not be getting any worse at all; we simply have miraculous scientific measurements today so that we notice things more, as though the flattened town of Joplin, Missouri might not have registered upon less enlightened folk of a generation ago.

Weather Underground's Jeff Masters thinks global warming is positively a factor, and by pumping more heat energy into the atmosphere, the result is weather events “on steroids.” If he's correct, then surely extreme weather is but another manifestation of humans “ruining the earth” today, as Revelation 18:11 says.

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Costa Concordia, Titanic, and the Last Days

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's a fine thing. It saves a lot of work. You don't have to read up on the entire age....don't you have a lot to do already? Just get your head around the two bookend events and you're homefree. Like Morgan Freeman said to Miss Daisy, "we don't have to worry about what's in the middle?" No. We don't.

 

Costa concordia sailing

 Titanic sailing

We have exactly this situation today with regard to the Costa Concordia, that luxury cruise liner that capsized January 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”, as proclaimed by Jehovah's Witnesses. That age began in 1914 and is near completion, since we are “right around the corner” from the end of this system of things. 1914, you will remember, was the year of WWI, and marks the first time the entire world went to war concurrently. It was the year that events described in Luke 21:10 set off with a bang, and have intensified to our day. Odd as it may sound, that year is determined by biblical prophesy.

If ever there were contrasting events to illustrate the fulfillment of 2 Tim 3:1-5, they are to be found in these behemoth boats. Those verses of Timothy 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's even older than I am (and not a Witness)  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's subjective. If you show the verses to someone who doesn't agree that they apply more today than at other times, there's 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 Tim 3:1-5 lies in contrasting similar events occurring in different time frames. Like ship sinkings. Consider: after the Titanic struck a berg, 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 schmoozing up 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 & children first.”* With the 2012 Corcordia it was “every person for himself.”

 
In short, all that was noble and self-sacrificing is replaced today with all that is cowardly and self-serving. That's the relevance of 2 Tim 3:1-5. Tell that to fatheads that can's see any change in people!

Even the big liners themselves seem to fulfill 2 Tim 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 it's belly. People of the last days can't even sink a ship properly.

 

Titanic sinking

  Costa concordia

Okay, okay, so it doesn't prove anything, comparing the two sunken ships. It's 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.

 

2012 1 18 downtown pictures 093


 

*74% of the women on board Titanic were saved and 52% of the children, but only 20% of the men. (with major variations over First Class, Second Class and Third Class passengers)

 

Thanks to Aussie blogger Daniel for the inspiration.

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What We Learn From Earthquakes

240px-AlaskaQuake-FourthAvePreachers can' resist natural disasters as opportunities to beat people up. They just can't. See?.....they'll say, that's what you get....God's dishing out the punishment. You must have done something pretty bad.They won't agree as to just what that bad deed is, necessarily. Instead, they assign their own pet peeves to God, as though their gripe must be His gripe. Thus, when Katrina hit New Orleans, Pat Robertson right away said that God did it to show how mad he was about gays and abortion. Ron Nagin (mayor, not clergy) had no problem with God doing it, but changed the reason: God was steamed over America's foreign policy and treatment of blacks!

With characters like this, it's a wonder we're not all atheists! Perhaps the greatest public service Jehovah's Witnesses render at such times is to tell people God doesn't do it. He doesn't cause calamities. After all, why New Orleans? Why them? They're not exactly creampuffs up here in Rochester, either, but God hasn't smitten us. (though He has caused Kodak to flirt (quite promiscuously) with bankruptcy, humbling our once-proud city, causing that company even to blow up some of their empty buildings so as to get them off the tax rolls.)

Almost to a person, Haitians believed the quake that leveled Port-au-Prince (Dec 2009) was punishment from God. But Jehovah's Witnesses, preaching tent to tent afterwards, repudiated that preachers' pet notion and told them it wasn't. “We assure them,” says a local Witness in the December 2010 Awake magazine, “that the earthquake was a natural disaster and not God's doing. We show them Genesis 18:25. There, Abraham declares it unthinkable that God would destroy good people along with the bad. We also show them Luke 21:11. there, Jesus foretold great earthquakes for this time [“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;  and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.”], and we explain that he will soon resurrect dead loved ones and remove all suffering.” The article goes on to relate the rebuilding work JWs carried out, both physical and spiritual.

But if God doesn't cause natural disasters, that doesn't mean they might nonetheless be a sign of the last days of this system of things. Just like the earthquakes mentioned above. Are they? And, regarding earthquakes, if God doesn't cause them, just why do they happen now in such numbers so as to validate Jesus' words? Has there really been a collosal increase in earthquakes? I used to think I knew. But I'm not so sure now.

However, it may be that in the new system, we'll have the good sense not to build in earthquake prone areas. Perhaps we won't build big cites, period...you've never seen a city in any of those paradise tracts, have you? Maybe we'll build with quake-proof materials and techniques....the Port-au-Prince Bethel, built that way, hardly suffered any damage at all, even as most of the city was reduced to rubble. Or it may even be that in choosing human rulership over God's Kingdom, people demonstrate preference for the government that cannot control natural disasters over the government that can. As we read about Jesus: "But they felt an unusual fear, and they would say to one another: “Who really is this, because even the wind and the sea obey him?” Maybe earthquakes will obey him in the new system, too. They don't obey Presidents, Prime Ministers, or Premiers, but maybe they'll obey Jesus.

Great earthquakes are right in there as one of the signs of the last days, even if we can't put our finger on exactly the cause. And I'm not dissuaded by full-of-themselves people who point out, with much self-satisfaction, that the “great” in great earthquakes is because of increased population. So? That doesn't mean they're not “great.” You think they measure things up there by the Richter scale? Might it be human suffering that triggers the “great?” Nor am I impressed when they carry on about how “better news coverage only means we're aware of earthquakes more than we used to be.” Nah.....that might be the case if we were tracking “earthquakes,” but we're not. We're tracking “great earthquakes.” A “great earthquake” always makes it's presence known, even if you don't have satellite TV.

But you have to keep up with changing times. You don't go plotting earthquakes on your world map time line trying to prove that they once were scarcer than hen's teeth, whereas now they shake things up every time you turn around.  It may not be that way. “The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center reports that earthquakes of 7.0 magnitude and greater remained "fairly constant" throughout the 20th century,” writes Awake! of 2002 March 22 p.9. “Note, though, that the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy does not require an increase in the number or power of earthquakes. All Jesus said was that there would be great earthquakes in one place after another. Furthermore, he stated that these events would mark the "beginning of pangs of distress." (Matthew 24:8) Distress is measured, not by the number of earthquakes or how they rate on the Richter scale, but by the effect that they have upon people."

Or take this excerpt from the Watchtower 2011 May 1 p.4:

The Bible does not emphasize the number of earthquakes during the last days. However, it does say that great earthquakes will occur in one place after another, making them one of the notable features of this momentous period of history.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? [this is a subheading, and subheadings are capitalized] Are we seeing great earthquakes, just as the Bible foretold? Earthquakes alone may not seem to be conclusive evidence that we are living in the last days. Yet, they are only one prophecy that is being fulfilled."

I've even heard some grousing from grousers that these quotes represents substantial JW toning down of prior statements regarding earthquake activity. Nah. All it shows is we're keeping up with advancing knowledge. What's wrong with that? We do it in the fields of earth geology and life development. Why not here?

In some ways, Jehovah's Witnesses are like the Lord impaled between two thieves, only in this case the thieves are so intractably opposed to one another that if you please one, you infuriate the other. If you do anything to keep up with advancing knowledge....a commendable feat in any other discipline....you incur the wrath of religionists, who accuse you of flip-flopping. And if you stay the course in any way, you tick off the scientists, who take for granted that when they say “jump,” you and everyone else ought to respond (and make it snappy!) “how high?”

Okay, okay, I'll back down a little on increased earthquake activity. But I'm sure not going to do it with regard to increased natural disasters. The ground is firmer here, practically quake-proof. For instance, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his 2012 State of the State address, observed that, while he didn't want to get into a debate on global warming.....is it or is it not happening?......“100 year floods are now happening every two years, so something is clearly happening.” I heard him. It's not in the printed transcript; like any decent speaker, Cuomo speaks extemporaneously a lot, and his speech was engrossing, whereas the transcript itself is a little dull, a bit like reading Cliff notes. So you'd have to dredge up his speech on YouTube. Someone must have put it there.

So....let's do natural disasters as the next topic.

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