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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Skirmish #970621 - Vastly Simplified Tracts

Don't underestimate the power of a tract to spark a fire in an honest heart that cannot be put out .

I don’t like the present series of tracts, but that does not mean that they are no good. I am very far from being typical. Nobody on this forum that claims to be a Witness is typical. I’m just carrying on some because I would love to see the ministry more fruitful that what it seems to me to be.

I and many others here write more in a day that most people write in a month. So I can hardly expect the tracts to cater to me. The last CO cited figures from somewhere that the average youngster today spends 7 minutes with print (as opposed to 10 hours or so on some form of screen time) Going simple is obviously the way to go. The fact that I do not like it does not mean that it is not just the ticket for reaching the majority. Education is usually a last-place priority in today’s world. 1/6 of the world’s population cannot read. Most people barely know that these persons exist, and count them as nothing. Watchtower produces simplified versions of material already written simple so as to reach them. 

I defend the use of (vastly) simplified writing, even as I do not personally like it. “They can learn to read a few grade levels beneath them, if they are not too full of themselves,” is a line I put somewhere. I’ve learned to work around what is unpalatable to me, telling the high-brow people to consider this or that bit of writing as an outline, nothing more. Or telling them to not worry about whether A given account in the Bible is literal, but instead to take it as a metaphor and see if they can discern the underlying meaning of it. Mathematicians do something similar all the time: assume that such and such a condition is true just to see where that assumption leads them. If it proves fruitful, then they come back and reconsider any initial objection to it.

Just after 911, when people were unusually subdued, I grabbed that tract ‘Who Really Rules the World’ and had several good discussions with it. I’ve always liked Luke 4 for its clear explanation of Jesus declining Satan’s offer of gov’t control but acquiescing that it lay in his power to make the offer. Yes. There is a place for tracts.

Everyone here beefs about everything under the sun, so I have joined in on what is our main mission—the ministry.  I probably shouldn’t. It really is true that ‘bad association spoils useful habits.’ I’ll put it all on this thread and then do my best to zip it. The Bible is not a template for democracy, with every Tom Dick and Harry telling HQ how things  ought to be.

 

I don’t like the present series of tracts, but that does not mean that they are no good. I am very far from being typical.

This is my own personal bellyaching thread, after which I will get back to my normal supportive self, with only occasional caveats.

What nettles me about the tracts, and many other things, is how we go on and on and on about what a blessing from on high they all are, as though THIS Item is the magic bullet that will turn the preaching work on its head, exactly what is needed at this particular time— and doubtless it will completely energize the work and swarms will thereby be attracted to the truth.

I wish we wouldn’t do that. I wish we would just say “Here’s a new tool. We worked hard on it. Give it a try and see how it works.” I even think that our failure to do it that way is where a lot of the underlying conception that the JW organization is “smug” comes from.

***

However, said Oscar: 

Where I live, official stats reckon that 75% of under 30s have no religious thought at any time. I would concur from experience that this a likely proportion, and many 30-50 year olds are not far behind.

However, the questions that our tracts provide a spritual answer to, they have all the time. It is just that they do not look to a God to provide answers to them. I think the tracts provide a very useful function in that they offer a route rather than an argument. When presented with our alternative view on things, if a person is delivering the message, then the receiver has to capitulate. That is not always a pleasant experience, especially for younger persons who may suffer from a measure of insecurity. The tracts offer the same solutions as we do when witnessing, but without comment or valuation on an erroneous view. The experience is private and much less painful. Then when one of us arrives with the question " Have You Ever Wondered? then the householder may well have done so at some time even if they can't remember the tract that triggered the thought.

They work, as my own experience confirms. We don't have to like them, but we cannot deny their effectiveness. Let's face it, medicine doesn't have to taste good in order to do it's job. Wisdom is proved righteous by it's works, not it's appearance.

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“Recently I went out with one of our elders and was a little disappointed when he was only delivering tracts.”

The suggestion to lead with a scripture is not something original on my part. From time to time it has been suggested by the theocratic organization. I have run with it as a staple more than is usually emphasized, but the idea is not mine. I mean, how can it be going off on one’s own tangent by leading with a scripture? If one finds that it works well. one tends to do it more and more, and that has been the case with me.

Similarly, the working with the video ‘Would You Like Good News’? which leads to the ‘Good News From God’ table of contents & the invitation to the householder to choose any one he/she likes was not my idea at all. That came from the circuit overseer on his last visit. I was at almost every meeting for field service and he worked to make us all familiar with how videos could be used. Not once did he mention the current CLAM presentation of ‘Where are the Dead?’ Was he going off on his own tangent & thinking he knew better than God’s organization? No, he is just showing that there are a lot of ways to present the good news and he was putting emphasis on a method that works well.

Q: Recently I went out with one of our elders and was a little disappointed when he was only delivering tracts. He was not trying to initiate conversation at all. 

Q2: Different ones will often fall back on old habits, even bad ones (and even Elders).

Q2, I am going to be very very bold here and suggest that if he is merely offering tracts and making no effort to start conversations it is because he finds the suggested presentations cumbersome and awkward, and he would benefit by trying the scripture-first or the video one. I mean, he is an elder. He wants to be seen taking the lead. Everyone varies the pace and settings vary, as does one’s mood on any given day. Yet limiting one’s ministry to offering tracts with no effort to converse is faithful, but it is not taking the lead, and unless I am very mistaken, his conscience is letting him hear about it (unless he has switched into auto-pilot, turning it off.)

One disadvantage of some of the CLAM presentations is that they require getting one’s head around. They require preparation. One advantage of the scripture-first or the Would You Like to Hear Good News presentation is that they do not—to just read a verse with a sentence or two as to why you chose it is not hard. We all know the experience of working with a new presentation and the first householder or two becomes a lab rat while we work the bugs out. The problem is gone with scripture or video first.

Q3: I also try to talk about something that is interesting to any person, to cite a scripture and direct the person to our website at the end of the presentation

Yes. Whatever works. By all means give the suggested presentations a try, even a workout if you like, but don’t feel that they must be adhered to in order to be following Jehovah’s direction. 

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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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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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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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“What the Society is Trying to Tell Us Is.....”

I could be in serious trouble. They just finished remodeling the Kingdom Hall, and there are two quarter walls, one left of stage and one right. Gulp. Will the brother start entering and exiting the platform via those quarter walls, just like I saw them do in the other congregation?

The circuit overseer was visiting, so I started pumping him on it. “‘Don’t let the brothers walk behind the quarter wall to go on-stage,” I told him. I was not too insistent—one mustn’t overdo it on these things. I mean, I don’t want to be the brother who meets him in the parking lot to tell him that all the brothers are no good, and they aren’t loving at all, and they are deadwood in the ministry, and come to think of it, they don’t even like God, and so he, the circuit overseer, has a lot of work to do here, and he says “Yeah, I think I’ve found the problem already.”

I did about as much as I could. He seemed to be sympathetic. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “You see them, then you don’t as they walk behind the wall, and then you do as they emerge from the other side—it IS a little funny.” So I gave it a good try. But he was just biding his time to get away from me, I suspect. He is not going to do anything at all, I don’t think, other than tell the brothers to go on the platform any way they like when it is their turn to speak. What does he care how they do it? It doesn’t bother HIM one way of the other. It’s ME it’s driving nuts, and then he will say “Well, you were mostly there already.”

I have always tried to stack the deck. Those elders way back in the day would have a meeting coming up and I would pump various ones separately over a multitude of picayune things, so that one of them said at their meeting (as I was told later) “Wait a minute. Who’s running this congregation? You, me, or Tom Harley?”

But then, visiting another Kingdom Hall, I saw something that got me going even more, if that is possible. I saw, yes—I witnessed it while visiting another congregation, brothers clapping after each and every exchange that took place up front, whether live or on video, just the way I had heard someone complaining about before, and I thought he was making it up. Suddenly he becomes as a prophet from on high. That too, drove me nuts!—all that clapping. You don’t clap over every single skit of one sister offering a tract to another, who, of course accepts it a just little too eagerly, it seems to me, from what I recall in the actual ministry. You clap spontaneously when something really knocks your socks off. You clap when a child or even anyone gives his or her first talk in the school. You clap when the spirit genuinely moves you, for anything. You clap after the public talk, even giving the speaker the benefit of the doubt if it wasn’t that—um—good. But you don’t clap for every minor exchange of trivial words! It only cheapens the times that there really is something to clap for.

I know where this comes from, just like I know where walking behind the quarter walls came from. Some pious brother doubtless wanted to “show appreciation” for everything under the sun and so started up the habit, thinking he was setting a ‘good example’ and that others would follow, and those others, not wanting to seem unappreciative, did follow, even some half-heartedly. 

However, it is possible that it is not the pious brother at all who is responsible, but rather the one who is too swayed by the new-agey mantra that you have to lavish praise on children non-stop just for showing up, because you will crush their self-esteem if you don’t do it, and so the brothers clap if another so much as clears his throat. I mean, don’t go pinning this one on “theocracy,”—it could just as well be that trendy “world” that he is so enamored with.

This will not the easiest habit to break. I mean, you can hardly sit there and scowl, so as to provide the counter-example. The best strategy is just to contain it, as you might strive to do with a measles outbreak. Don’t send speakers to that congregation for awhile, until the illness passes. I doubt I can even enlist the circuit overseer in any serious capacity on this one. He will probably just roll his eyes when I meet him about it in the parking lot. C’mon, DO IT RIGHT, BROTHERS!

This will not readily yield to change, if history is any guide. About the best I can hope for is some circuit overseer acting similarly as he did with another “crisis.” During a transitional lull from one main point to another, he will say that the expression “Now let us turn the platform over to the next speaker” is not optimal because it evokes an image of turning the platform over. With that, I eventually heard the expression less, though it still pops up from time to time.

It is not easy to correct anyone on anything, especially on a triviality, though occasionally people jump instantly on the trivialities but ignore the things of substance. Finding the right degree of emphasis is tough. One recipient will say “Thanks for the new RULE!” and his companion will say “Huh? Did you say something.”

There was a certain sister ages ago who enjoyed explaining things to others and eventually left the truth because not enough people listened to her. She had even begun to partake of the emblems. “What the Society is trying to tell us is....” she would often employ as a preamble. She is the inspiration (in this one regard only) for John Wheatandweeds, from my book ‘Tom Irregardless and Me,’ who will not let the brothers go in field service in the morning because he insists as the conductor of rattling on and on about the day’s text, and he resists counsel  to shorten that part—eventually to as little as 7 minutes— and he talks at such length, drawing out comments, that eventually nobody is in the mood to go out anymore. “What the Society is trying to tell us...” he responds to every bit of counsel on the subject. Finally, the Society interrupts him mid-sentence to say “We’re not trying to tell you anything—we’re telling you,” after which he finally obliges by getting everyone out the door in reasonably short order—not seven minutes, but neither seven years—however he makes up for it by chatting away in the parking lot.

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photo by iowademocrats.org

 

 

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They Surrounded the Hall With Torches!

Guarding the Assembly Hall overnight, the way we used to do, sitting in that guardhouse with hourly walkarounds, it was peaceful and anything but exiting. I checked the logbook of previous shifts, updated hourly.

“All’s quiet”

“Peaceful “

“No problems” and so forth. 

I thought that I would liven things up:

“Building is suddenly surrounded by an angry mob carrying torches, led by priests, threatening to burn it to the ground. Partner & I react quickly, confront & tie in knots mob leaders with selected scriptures, they disperse muttering & scratching heads. Like Saul: “But Saul kept on acquiring power all the more and was confounding the Jews that dwelt in Damascus as he proved logically that this is the Christ.” (Acts 9:22)

I felt bad about it the next day. Had I been too flippant with the ‘sacred records’? It was an assembly day & I stopped by to remove the sacrilege. But the old pages were gone & new blank pages added. Was the old the subject of a Wednesday meeting at HQ?

I might not do it today. But then, we long ago decided not to guard it that way, so the opportunity would not come up.

Would I tease the priests that way, today? Yes, probably, for that was clearly in good fun, but I might be slightly more circumspect....though not decline it altogether—about relating of the minister giving the talk who built his theme around such-and-such material: (turn to the verse and it is one of the blanks)

and then the middle and concluding portions around...(two more verses)

with the immediate result that “some began to believe the things said; others would not believe” (Acts 28:24)

and the long-term result that: “The fact is, some were crying out one thing and others another; for the assembly was in confusion, and the majority of them did not know the reason why they had come.” (Acts 19:32)

That one is clearly an inside joke, and even that one I dial back these days. One not get smug.

We came across a clergyman’s house out in the ministry, attached to the church. I made for it, and a companion wanted to come. “Nah, you’ll get into a fight,” I said. I felt bad and had to dig myself out of it later, but not too much because I know it would have gone down that way. He just likes correcting people. 7F6E3DA4-F1C5-45A6-B28D-202F3212759C

 

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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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How Strong is Putin?

Statement: “Putin needs the support of people like (whose back he appears to be scratching). (the Russian Orthodox Church) That is why he does not stop the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

***~~~***

There is an element of truth here, but I think it is far overstated.

Latest from the New York Times is that Putin is not so strong as is supposed & that he has lost control of his own “dictatorship.” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/sunday-review/how-powerful-is-vladimir-putin-really.html

It is his statements about Jehovah’s Witnesses- that he does not understand why they are persecuted- yet the persecution intenfies, that accounts for this surmising of the New York Times.

We are too hung up on blaming the Church, in my opinion. Prime opposition does not originate from them, but from irreligious parties. That doesn’t mean that they are not happy about it, but they are also uncomfortable, because the irreligious parties don’t like them, either.

Indirectly, of course, they ARE responsible, but only indirectly. By neglecting their duty to teach people the Bible AND becoming immersed in scandal and intrigue, they have spawned the irreligious faction. I think it is how the verse is to be understood about Babylon the Great: “Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Rev 18:24)

At first I supposed that the organization had taken one of my illustrations, and I was even a little nettled about it. But it is too plain an illustration not to have been thought of independently. Besides, they much improved upon it. I had been likening for the longest time the charitable works of churches to the handyman you hire to reroof your home but then he paints it instead. You will not be happy, even though it did need painting. If he had reroofed AND painted, that would be great, but he ignored your will in favor of his own.

The Watchtower’s improvement was to change the roles. My two are essentially equal. Theirs is one role clearly better than the other: the hired babysitter allows the children to go hungry and filthy while she paints the interior.

That said, I keep BOTH illustrations to myself at first if I come across someone in the ministry, church person or not, who does some kind of good works - say, running a soup kitchen, I do nothing but say good things about it. It is undeniably a good work, and we are not doing it.

I don’t say anything about painting the Titanic. Not at first. It’s a while before I bring out the Big Boat.

https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/2019/01/nautical-bookends-of-our-age.html

Don’t misunderstand. I am not covetous. The organization can take any illustration that they want of mine, if they think it is any good. But this one they probably thought independently of a much better version. I don’t like all of their illustrations, but this one was brilliant.

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