Credibility and Damage Control

“When you have the TRUTH ... we would not have to knock on THEIR doors ... they would be knocking on OUR doors.”

No. I don’t think so:   “And the 70 returned and they were bummed. The Lord said, “Why are you bummed.” They answered, “We sat at home from morning through the burning heat of the day, straight into evening, and nobody knocked on our door.”    (Luke 10:1-17, Sheepandgoats Translation)

Didn’t happen that way.

 

The fact of the matter is this ... day by day, in the eyes of the World, Jehovah's Witnesses are losing what credibility we USED to have, with general nuttiness .... and the Governing Body, in it's self aggrandizing attempts at damage control, are day by day, losing THEIR credibility”

I don’t think that this is true, either. The nuttiness is no more than it has always been, and is in many respects less. To some extent, it is exactly what one would expect. Jesus said he did not come to call on those who do not need a physician—he came to call on those who do. When our people go nuts, they nonetheless would still not hurt a fly. When those outside go nuts, for many of them you’d better call the SWAT team. The best way to escape “nuttiness” is to simply distance yourself from whomever is not your cup of tea, and this most people have done. Witnesses have not. Their congregations are close, family-like, and mirror Paul’s observation that God’s will is for “every sort of person [even nuts] to be saved”—for most people are nuts in one way or another. Keep the varieties of nuts separate and they never chafe. Jehovah’s Witnesses mix them all together.

The conventions invariably make a good impression. Both the website and the literature carts add a measure of dignity not always conveyed by any given publisher. They are not likely to ever replace the door-to-door activity, but they sure do supplement it. And the online Bible study feature on the home page: I am looking forward to telling someone—the timing and circumstances will have to be just right, you wouldn’t do it with everyone—“I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself. It’s right there online.”  We spoon-feed people too much.

Events transpiring in Russia paint us as downright champions of human rights.

Yes, the charges of CSA are bad, but they are largely offset by the fact that there is no sizable group of persons not also enmeshed in them, as well as a general weariness of lawyers. You well remember when premiere television or billboard sponsors were manufacturers or vendors. Today they are lawyers, and people weary over the massive transfers of cash that they enable, whilst skimming off at least the top third. They think of all the things they used to be able to do that they no longer can do on account of lawyers making things cost-prohibitive, and it qualifies any zeal forwhatever cause they might represent. Even as people as individuals hope that their turn winning the lawyer-lottery may come next, people as a group share a general sense that the barristers have destroyed the fabric of life. Insurance premiums of all sorts skyrocket at a time that overall inflation is quite low. Everyone knows why. Nonstop lawsuits on everything under the sun amounts to a tax on everyone else.

Moreover, the nature of the CSA charges are different. With most groups, it is those in positions of leadership perpetrating the abuse. With Witnesses, that is rarely the case. Instead, CSA is uncovered in their membership and it turns out that it has not come to the attention of the police. It is uncovered because Jehovah’s Witnesses take responsibility for their own—are people actually living the faith that they profess?—and they look into reports of wrongdoing of all sorts, CSA being but one. Not everyone will buy the line of opposers that it is because leadership wishes to “control” every aspect of the members’ lives. Instead, many will say: “It’s a shame all religions don’t do that. Overall conduct of people might improve were that the case.”

I think the perception is too much you pumping life into anti-Witness memes—living and breathing that life. You are consumed with them, and thus you come to think they far more occupy people’s attention than they really do.

It is like that with every cause. It is like that even with us. We start to imagine that everyone on earth is turning over in their minds and hearts the kingdom cause, siding for or against. But when I met an author in the dog park, he said: “Watchtower—that’s the Mormons, isn’t it?”

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photo: nuts, by elimani 

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Another Day on the “Recruiting” Trail - Sheesh

One college kid asked, when I proposed returning, “To what end?” It was a question  I’d not been asked before.

I explained that in my ideal scenario I would return 100 times and engage in 100 different conversations and on the 101st I would ask him if he wanted to be a Jehovah’s Witness like me and at that time he should say ‘No.’ 

I even asked him to rehearse. “Let me show you how it would work. I am going to ask you to become a Witness like me and I want you to say “No.” Would you do that? He agreed. 

“Would you like to become a Witness?” I asked. “No,” he said.

“You see? Nothing to worry about. It’s just conversation. You’ll learn your way around the Bible in the meantime, if that is something you want. The moment you tire of it, just let me know. No one is easier to get rid of than Tommy. You almost have to beg him to stay.”

The anticult people try to spin it as “recruiting.” That’s why the outrage some have over the recent letter expressing condolences over someone’s loss. If they just took it at face value, they’d be okay with it. We should not let those scoundrels define the game.

Are we “recruiting?” I suppose so, but in the most non-threatening way possible, so that only by really stretching the point could we be said to be doing it. And it is not an immediate goal—telling the good news of the kingdom is.

I always explain my motive: “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come,” says Matthew 24:14. Who should be expected to do that other than those who have come to believe it? And no, it is not the end of the earth. But it is the end of the present “system of things.” Earth divvied up into a couple hundred eternally squabbling nations is not God’s idea, and the time will come when “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” I mean, presumably it all runs pretty well up there and God’s will rules the day, but it sure isn’t the case here, is it? That’s not to say that “God’s will” loses out each and every time, but it can hardly be said to be the norm, can it?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are “indoctrinating?” College is far more indoctrinating than anything having to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The typical student is separated 24/7 from his or her previous stabilizing routine and people—a classic tool of brainwashing.

(I didn’t actually go through the rehearsal with this kid. Our best lines always occur to us too late. But that does not mean that I won’t do it when the situation is right.)

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photo: Airman Magazine

 

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Letter Writing in the Ministry

There it is again. An experience of writing letters containing “some comfort from the Scriptures.” Here is from the recent Watchtower article on ‘Show Fellow Feeling in Your Ministry.’

A letter was well-received in this instance of a family whose child had died.

“‘I was having a horrible day yesterday,’ wrote the bereaved mother. ‘I don’t think you have any idea what impact your letter had on us. I can’t thank you enough or even begin to describe how much it meant to us. I must have read your letter at least 20 times yesterday. I just could not believe how kind, caring, and uplifting it was. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.’”

And to think that there are some malcontents who have all but popped a vein over things like this. Well, it would be a little odd to get such a letter out of nowhere, but most times it is seniors who write them—ones in poor health who don’t get around anymore as they once did. Ideally, this also gives then a certain empathy that a younger person might not have.

Look, it’s because the soreheads view it as “recruiting” that they have a cow over it. It isn’t. If you take it at face value, you’ll be fine. You may not frame it and hang it on the wall—more likely it will be tossed quite soon—but neither will the blood pressure soar.

I can’t quite recall whether I have ever done this or not. I don’t think so, but it is possible. What I do recall is that in the mid-seventies, when the Awake! devoted an entire issue to the subject of depression—back when the topic was seldom breached in public, as though it were something shameful—that I was so impressed with that issue that I sent a copy to all the psychiatrists in the phone book. One of them responded—to point out that his own research had been included in the magazine.

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photo: Peanuts. Charles Shultz

 

 

 

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One Dud of a Hall Here Can Buy 100 There - the Kingdom Halls

The fellow was in a rush when I first contacted him, just about to leave to pick up the kids from school. He was apologetic about it, very nice, and allowed that I should visit some other time. When I did I told him it was to show a video that lasted exactly a minute (actually a minute and six seconds—I lied).

He said we should go into the darkened garage where a video would be easier to see. It is the short video ‘Would You Like Good News?’ and it points to a brochure of similar name. That brochure’s table of contents lists about a dozen questions people have raised about God. ‘Ask if there are any that grab their interest,’ the C.O. had suggested. If there are, there is a basis for short conversation. If there are not, off you go, nice as you please. I even thank them for their time. After all, people are busy, we call without appointment, which is pretty much unheard of today, and there is no obligation for them to speak with us at all. The fact that a given person does is reason to thank them for their time, in my view.

‘That says it all as to what we do,’ I told the fellow after the video. My instincts had not been wrong that here was a decent guy with an interest in spiritual things. “How people can not believe in God?—all you have to do is look around,” he had said unbidden. I even tried to stick up for “those people” with the observation that a lot of bad things happen today and some feel that if there is a God, surely he would have fixed them. He didn’t buy it.

Your building is right up there on route such-and-such, he said. But I told him that we had sold that one, and I gave him the party line—it was because of our great growth—(whereas if anyone else had done it, it would mean they are going belly-up). Well—it can be spun that way and so I do. The Halls aren’t all where they should be, so if you combine some groups here, you can sell off an underutilized one there and build one where you need it. This especially works when the ones needed are in developing lands. One underperforming dud of a Hall here can finance 100 over there—aiding ones who could ill afford it on their own—a significant advantage of organization.

It’s all valid to explain it that way. It works. It’s true enough. Having said that, that was not the intent when the Hall was built in the first place. The intent was to fill it to the rafters. Ah, well. With admittedly some hyperbole, Witnesses can put up and dispose of Kingdom Halls as readily as the greater world puts up and disposes of Coleman tents—they are very handy people—so it makes sense to do it this way. The arrangement that I thought could never be improved upon has been significantly improved upon—streamlined for overall efficiency—again, something that shows the advantage of organization.

This guy lives way out there, where I don’t get too often. It’s why I like the website, and specifically the online series of Bible study courses. They are self-guided, I explained, and you can take a day or a year to go through them all, building a foundation of basic Bible knowledge. In fact, I am looking forward to saying—the timing and circumstances will have to be just right—I would never do it with this fellow: “I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself!” You don’t have to spoon-feed everyone elementary verse by elementary verse. People are smart. They can do it themselves, in most cases. I even think that keeps some of us babes ourselves—if we eternally are striving to present the basics.

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photo: First Solids, by Squiggle

 

 

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Q: My territory which is part of a large metro is uninterested and apathetic. Middle class suburbs that accomplished the American dream

Karen, you never know. Recently my wife and friend approached people at the service station. Her friend’s first contact was dismissive. So was my wife’s first contact. But the second person her friend spoke with said, “I think you must have been sent to me.” He spoke of his  16-year-old daughter who is trying to help a friend and it is starting to take a toll on her. “Well, we do have a website that offers a lot of practical help and...” my wife’s friend began and showed the magazine online Is Life Worth Living, which greatly interested the man. It turned out that my wife had a paper copy (they were working separately) and the friend sent her niece (they were a threesome) back to see if the fellow wanted it. (He did) “I know how hard it is to be 16,” the 16-year old niece said. 

The day prior my wife was making return visits with another sister who didn’t have any so my wife was pulling out all the stops. Being right in the area, she stopped in where a once seemingly interested woman had told her not to return because the boyfriend was opposed. “Maybe the creepy boyfriend has moved out,” my wife said. She spoke with the woman who answered the door, and got a puzzled expression on her face, and my wife realized that both of them had moved out and this was someone new. So she explained what she had been doing and the woman told her that her husband’s friend had just taken his life. This, too, made the magazine Is Life Worth Living? just the right food at the right time. 

These experiences are many. Don’t assume that the fancy suburbs are immune to them. They are not. The facades just hide the problems inside.  Do what you are doing, friendly as can be. If it is safe, work alone from time to time, with a companion just within sight, or even all by yourself—it helps you think of your ministry and nothing else. Don’t worry about English being your second language. If anyone puts you down for not being polished, agree with them. It is ordinary people that make up the congregations. It always has been. “For you behold his calling of you, brothers,” the apostle wrote at 1 Corinthians 1:26, “that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.” Say to whoever you must: “It would be nice to have sent someone smoother, but they are not available, so you are stuck with me.” :)

What does the greater world have to offer on these matters? What might it reply? That there are agencies? That there are anti-depressants? People routinely fall through the cracks of sieve-like agencies, and they do not necessarily help long term (and sometimes even short) even when they are firing on all cylinders. What people need is a fresh way of thinking to help them cope, and a source of power greater than themselves. They may or may not grab hold of what we offer, but it is certainly well to offer it.

The JW year text for the present year is Isaiah 41:10: “Do not be anxious, for I am your God.” The year text of the greater world? So far as I can tell, it is “S**t happens. Maybe we can hold someone accountable and make them take responsibility.” I like ours better.

Last year it was “S**t happens. Maybe we can vote out these current turkeys and vote in a new crop of politicians who will fix things.” I forget what the JW one was for last year, but I do remember that I liked  it better.

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photo: Saburovo interiors, by Ruslan Goldman

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Unified But Not Uniform - Critical of the Presentations?

Q: Tom, we need to follow the organisation with Jesus taking the lead, this is what we are a part of. We may think we know better but we do not.

It’s a good thing to be called on.

I have blogged long enough that it can be seen that I am an advocate for following the lead. Often the friends will get into some sort of a minor squabble over this or that, and I will say “Look, it is not that big of a deal—just do it” For example, saving seats at the convention or sitting for the music. Not saving seats has been the counsel for decades and many of the friends continue to save seats (beyond the parameters of what is allowed). So much so that the organization eventually gave up, and now lets the oldsters in ahead of anyone else so they can easily find convenient seats.

Or staying only at the recommended lodgings. That counsel is ignored so frequently that the brothers have at times found it difficult to negotiate rates. “What should I cut you a deal?” this or that manager will say, “when I know that you will stay with me anyway because it is convenient?”

(With regard to sitting in time for the start of the music, I had some fun with this in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’ telling of a brother - it might have been Tom Oxgoad - who told everyone how one of the attendants carrying a ‘Please Be Seated’ sign was beaten up by a group of brothers determined to stand. This evil report spread throughout the circuit and even beyond, put eventually truth got its pants on and people discovered the source. Nobody batted an eye. “Oh. Well—you know Oxgoad—he says things like that.” The experience I just made up, but there was a brother who would say some of the loopiest things and the brothers just learned to roll with it.)

So I do understand the value of obedience. A favorite secular line of mine is from Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. “It is remarkable that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.” Nobody thinks thoughts more bold than Jehovah’s Witnesses, and nobody can conform (for the most part) with the external regulations of their society more than they.

But that doesn’t mean that everything that comes from the organization is a directive that must be applied, otherwise we are not following headship. These presentations are suggestions, not directives. Nobody says that one must use them. Sometimes we praise anything coming down the pipe as exactly the right blessing presented at exactly the right time, and then it is quietly discarded a short time afterwards and we never hear of it again. I think they are just putting up trial balloons—suggestions that some will find helpful—with the encouragement to try them out but no requirement that anyone do so. Please do not think I am critical of them. To take the “workmen” that are most of Jehovah’s Witnesses—most of whom once said that they would never ever ever preach—and to make them willing and effective preachers is an amazing accomplishment, for which the Bethel brothers deserve nothing but credit. Almost never do new ones initially have the gift of gab, or a way with words, such as I now have but once did not, and they have molded them into ‘Jehovah’s army!’ It’s incredible.

I didn’t say that the suggested presentations are no good, much less that they are wrong. I said that I do not like most of them. I gave my reason—that they do not work for me. I gave my reason for being so bold (admittedly, I have been) as to put it out here on the forum—that I see many having difficulty implementing them. That’s is not to say that anyone who wants to should not work with them. For some persons, and in some circumstances, they will work very well indeed.

The Bethel brothers have taken on an extremely difficult assignment, and I try to be nothing of supportive of them. It is very difficult to find just the right mix in leading a large group of people. One person will say, “Thanks for the new RULE!” and his companion will say “Huh—did you say something?” I think that the Bethel brothers do not want to find themselves in the position of Lot, whose sons-in-law thought he was joking. On the other hand, from time to time they remind us: “Not that we are the masters over your faith, but we are fellow workers for your joy.” (1 Corinthians 1:24) They are not our masters and do not want to be thought of that way. They want us to be united, but not uniform It is the greater world that stuffs people into uniforms and sends them off to put their lives on the line over this cause or that.

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photo by Dan Pupek

 
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The New European Data Law as it Applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses - My Take

Yikes! No “data-gathering” according to the new privacy law. What to do?

As far as I am concerned, this is a blessing in disguise. Jehovah’s people will adapt. They always do. 

I even think it will be beneficial for us, overall. We have some people who become obsessed over records, the way some people do with regard to records of any sort. We have some who call back repeatedly if the householder does so much as give them the time of day—training them not to, in my opinion. Working with this new European law will force more discernment and maturity, though initially inconvenient in some respects. I wouldn’t mind if it spread to here in the States.

This law will alter the logistics of the Matthew 28:19-20 aspect of Christianity— “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, (Mathew 28:19) but it will not impact the Matthew 24:14 aspect at all: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) It will probably even enhance it. 

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Most of the suggested field service presentations I don’t like. I don’t like them because they do not work for me. Of course, it is “different strokes for different folks,” but from what I have seen, they don’t work that well for others, either. They are incremental in approach, and many, when implemented by anyone less than an expert, come off as passive-aggressive. Sometimes I wonder where they come from, because they do not necessarily dovetail with each other. Probably they are the products of various full-time evangelizers who are brainstorming. Since many start with floating a question that will seldom be on the typical person’s mind, such as “Where are the dead?” you pretty much have to record the response and hope that you have laid the foundation for furthering it or starting another topic. All that requires you write stuff down, which is now illegal unless the person has authorized it.

Better—or at least it works better for me—to bring up something more all-encompassing. The circuit overseer last visit made much of the 1-minute (and six seconds) video “Would You Like Good News?” Invite people to hear it—it only is one minute (and it is good to say literally one minute) The video ends with a plug for the Good News from God brochure and that brochure has a table of contents:

“Which topic interests you most?” It says. They include

Who Is God?,

Who Is Jesus Christ?,

What Is God’s Purpose for the Earth?,

What Hope Is There for the Dead?,

What Is God’s Kingdom?,

Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?,

How Can Your Family Be Happy?, and

How Can You Draw Close to God?

The video is here:

If the person registers any interest, you can set up something then and there. If not, off you go with a sincere thanks for their time—after all, we call without appointment, which is becoming a rarety in the West, nobody is required to listen to what we have to say, so whenever someone does, I thank them for their time.

Some all-encompassing verses that also work for starters—just offer to read a verse, give a brief statement as to why you read it, ask what the person thinks about it, and then offer to disappear. Such as:

Jeremiah 29:11 - “For I myself well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” (The reason I like the verse is because some people think God is out to rake us over, or judging from the current state of things, that there is no God, and this verse says not only that there is, but he thinks good thoughts towards us.)

Or Matthew 5:3 - “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (The reason I like the verse is because we all have a spiritual need, but we are not necessarily conscious of it—it is more like vitamins, that if neglected, may lead to sickness and we never know quite why.)

There are no end of verses that can be used. It just takes adjusting to the idea. All work except for the verse Tom Pearlsandswine latched onto in my first book, ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’: Revelation 21:8: “But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” “The reason I like that verse,” he would say, “is that it shows sinners are going down and you’d better shape up.” He is such an idiot. 

With a flat response to any chosen verse other than his, off you go. With a favorable one, you can even go to a longer video, with the intro that I find works well, “This video runs almost four minutes, but you don’t have to listen to it all. The minute it gets boring, hand it back.” It puts the control in the householder’s hands and defuses any impression of being pushy. I hate being pushy and try hard not to give that impression. There are few people in the world easier to get rid of than me.

None of these presentations require the use of memory-jogging records. If the response if favorable, there is no difficulty in exchanging contact information if desired.

As for keeping track of who is not-at-home—JWs do this—I even know one person who writes down every address beforehand and crosses them out as she finds them home, completely reversing how it is intended to be done—one might respond by forgetting all about it. Put the angels in charge of that one. Call when the majority of persons are likely to be home in the first place, which we do not always do.

As for keeping records of those who have requested we not call on them again—well, I don’t know. Tell them we’d love to comply but the new law is screwing us up.

Not to mention that we have long been moving in that direction anyway. That’s what the mobile cart witnessing is all about. That’s what the website is all about. They are two forms of advertising the good news without going to anyone’s door at all. On the home page of jw.org is a new Bible study feature. A series of studies that are multimedia, self-guided at one’s own pace, and require no registration or entry of info—“I’ll never know if you do it or not,” I tell people. In fact, I am looking forward to the time—the timing and circumstances will have to be just right, you wouldn’t do it just with anyone—when I tell someone, “I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself.” We spoon-feed people too much, and it is hardly necessary with the majority. I even think being constantly obsessed over presentation of the very basics keeps us from pressing on to maturity, in some respects.

They have done us a favor with their new law, is my take.

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Photo: DSC00212 by gauge opinion

 

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"We Are Wise and Learned Adults, Far Too Clever to Be Sold Adam and Eve. What's Next - Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?

I like the way Paul deliberately dialed back on the ‘wisdom.’ Most of his contemporaries would have had to because they didn’t have it. Not so Paul, who was highly educated, and could have gone toe to toe with these characters. He deliberately chose not to. 

And so I, when I came to you brothers, did not come with an extravagance of speech or of wisdom declaring the sacred secret of God to you. For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him impaled.  And I came to you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling; and my speech and what I preached were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of spirit and power,  that your faith might be, not in men’s wisdom, but in God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:2-5)

The upshot is that you treat a highly educated person pretty much like anyone else, with only minor adjustments. They just as much as anyone else, have no clue as to why there is suffering, why people die, what happens when they do, why governments suck & so forth. The explanation for them too will lie in discerning what "Jesus Christ, and him impaled" means in practical terms. People do not understand this. Even religious people, as they say to you "Christ died for our sins" are almost always unable to explain just how and why that works.

Show the high-brow people something about Adam & Eve from Genesis, for example, and there is no reason that you can not present it as a metaphor, its underlying message to be deciphered. Let me tell you, there are many people who will be intrigued, rise to the challenge, and even be flattered that you count them smart enough to figure it out. Whereas if you said from the get-go that it was all literal to people conditioned to reject the idea, you know what the reaction would be: “We are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What’s next? Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?”

Focus on the meaning of the account itself (Genesis 3:1-5) without regard to whether it is literal or not. Sometimes when people see how much sense something makes, they reappraise their initial assumptions. 

For a concise explanation of the subject itself, without regard for whether it is metaphor or not - in fact, taking for granted that it is not - I don't think you can do much better than the short clip presented on the JW website:

 

 

 

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Witnessing on the Airplane

I did not take my first commercial flight until I was in my 50's. It was very exciting. Successive flights increasingly became a pain, mostly for things having nothing to do with the plane but for the hassles in boarding. In the old days, you could pull up with 15 minutes to spare, and nobody at all wanted to strip-search you. 

Sometimes, witnessing helps pass the time. I don't always do it  but sometimes I do. Like one flight where I laid the contact card down on the armrest midflight and said to the man traveling next to me: "Everyone has a cause, and this is mine. We don't have to talk about it. We don’t have to talk about anything. On the other hand, there is time to kill, we will never meet again, and if you want to, okay."

It was a while before he said anything, and I began to figure that he would not. However, he presently opened up on the purpose of his trip and on his background. He was a microbiologist at some university in Iowa. He said he liked the power of faith, but of course, he was a scientist. We exchanged some boiler-plate remarks, and somewhere along the line, just so that he would know that he wasn’t talking to some donkey, I mentioned telemeres. He took up the topic but pronounced the word differently. "You mean I've been making a donkey of myself all these years, saying it wrong?" was my response.

It was just idle conversation that ensued, not particularly going anywhere. Then, out of the blue he brings up that his trip has another purpose. He is traveling to get his daughter out of her latest jam. He doesn't know what happened to her. He did his best to bring her up right, but she takes up with one lowlife scoundrel after another and has made a hopeless hash of her life. 

I didn't say: "Too bad she is not a Jehovah's Witness. Then all of her troubles would be over." I mostly just listened and asked a few questions to draw him out. Who doesn't like to be reminded what can happen to kids in the absence of Bible principles and sometimes even with Bible principles? But he didn’t know me from a bag of beans, and yet he turns to me as though I was Father Confessor. It was likely because he had NO spiritual component to his life, and when he at last came across one, the dam burst.

The time flew with the plane and we landed in no time at all. I'll never see him again, most likely. But you never know. Perhaps he will be like the man who accepted a few magazines, but eventually told me he would do so no more because his wife was allergic to newsprint. 'Look, just tell me if you don't like them,' I said to myself. 'What a stupid excuse!' Years later I met them at a convention, both baptized.

Aeroplane-aircraft-airplane-46148

 

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

One Thing We Know About Jesus: He Does Not Go Through Channels

 

It took the religious leaders of Jesus' day no time at all to hate his guts and to put out schemes to kill him. John chapter 11 is very frank as to why. Starting with vs 47:

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Sanhedrin together and said: “What are we to do, for this man performs many signs? If we let him go on this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [Protecting their turf is what is was all about with these guys.]

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them: “You do not know anything at all, and you have not reasoned that it is to your benefit for one man to let one man die in behalf of the people rather than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” [He's a contemptuous character, isn't he?] 

He did not say this, however, of his own originality, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was to die for the nation, and not only for the nation but also to gather together into one the children of God who were scattered about. [And he's a schemer.]

So from that day on they conspired to kill him.

Imagine! Issuing his own prophesy that Jesus will "die for the nation and gather the children of God, yada yada yada," so that when he killed him, he could put a happy face on it.

During that time, the high priest was not installed in the usual way that the Torah says it should be done. It was a political appointment from the governing authorities. He was serving as high priest "that year." You are not supposed to do it that way because you forget all about God and instead focus on covering your rear end. That is why you don't want a 'house church,' under government control.

For (prime) example, there is the house church in Russia, the Orthodox Church, snuggling up to national leadership and that leadership in return granting it exclusive status. And isn't the result more or less the same as it was back then: the ones closely reading, studying, and applying God's word of instruction and counsel, find themselves, from an organizational point of view, killed?

I like how one of those leaders broke ranks, having come to Jesus previously by night, as covered in John chapter 3:

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This one came to him in the night and said to him: “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher, for no one can perform these signs that you perform unless God is with him.”

He's not exactly of the same heart with his buddies, is he, and he sticks up for Jesus later on (to no avail).

In response Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed because I told you: You people must be born again. The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who has been born from the spirit.”

Now you know, you just know, that Caiaphas and the boys would have snapped: "What is it with these riddles? I don't have time for this nonsense!" But Nicodemus said: “How can these things be?” and he even suffers through a little reproof from Jesus as the latter replies:

“Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things? Most truly I say to you, what we know we speak, and what we have seen we bear witness to, but you do not receive the witness we give. If I have told you earthly things and you still do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but the one who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.

He is speaking awfully plain now (for him) and he goes on to reveal to the unpretentious ruler the most compact, though complete, statement yet of just how God adapts his purpose to the present and future, a purpose he revealed long ago, when he says:

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. (vs 16)

It is too cool. He doesn't go 'through channels' because if he did, he would have run this by Caiaphas first (who would have told him to zip it). He never goes though channels. Always he goes over the heads of the pompous ones and speaks straight to the ordinary ones. And this next bit is certainly true (skipping only a verse or two):

Now this is the basis for judgment: that the light has come into the world, but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked.

And what about this beaut that follows? 

For whoever practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be reproved.

Nobody wants to be reproved and a fine way to reach that end is to shut down any channel that might do it.

Nicodemus doesn't fare well (John 7:51) when he tries to defend Jesus before his co-rulers: “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing, does it?” he says.

But they tell him: “You are not also out of Galilee, are you?"

Yep. Rural, backwards Galilee, home of the bumpkins, far from the sophisticated city that they hail from. Galilee, the armpit of the world, and Jesus probably smells like one, too, even if he does raise some lowlife people from the dead every now and again.

 

 

 

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