WALL-E and the Gulf Oil Spill

What's not to like about WALL-E? A trash compactor robot, WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class) spends his days compacting trash (what else?) with an eye on making the earth fit for rehabilitation. See, centuries ago, humans polluted the earth to the point of ruin, so they evacuated in massive spaceships. There, they loll about in such ease that their limbs have atrophied; they've become pretty much helpless, though good-natured, blobs. But before departure, they left robots to tidy up things, so they might eventually return. Only WALL-E remains on the job, for reasons I forget, and as you might imagine, he's lonely. All that changes when a pretty girl robot (EVE) show up. Robot sparks fly, they save the planet, fight off the bad robots, and pave the way for humans' return.

So if I liked the film, and Mrs Sheepandgoats liked it, which we both did, everyone must have liked it – right? But when Mrs. Sheepandgoats mentioned it to a co-worker, the latter lamented how sad the movie was. Sad? “What we're doing to the earth, what we're leaving behind for our children, is an absolute tragedy,” she said. Well...yes, the film would have that effect on many, wouldn't it? Look, we're sickened by the degradation humans inflict upon the earth, make no mistake, but, it's also true that when considering each new nail in the coffin, there is a tiny asterisk in the back of our mind that says “God's Kingdom will solve human mismanagement once and for all.” His “bringing to ruin those ruining the earth” is even foretold. (Rev 11:18) So it's always there, that asterisk, cushioning every blow. If you didn't have it....wow...no wonder some are just crushed by what's happening


Now, this verbal exchange was well before the gulf oil-spill, that mother of all environmental catastrophes.  “How to clean up the mess? And who's at blame!” declared Time Magazine's cover of June 21, 2010,  against a backdrop of oil-soaked pelicans. (I was mildly surprised that the questions were not posed in reverse order) Time listed a “dirty dozen” which included the prior President, of course, and his Secretary of State, but also the current President and some of his underlings. A handful of oilmen, needless to say, and one or two indulgent regulators. Even the ubiquitous American driver, since he fuels demand for oil in the first place. Got it? We're all to blame. There are no good guys in white hats, only bad guys in black, oily ones.

And to think I was upbraided just a few weeks ago, along with all my people, for not picking up the roadside trash. “Enough Jehovah's Witness preaching, already!” scolded my interlocutor, “what good is that? Do something useful, instead,” said he, and then proceeded to wax poetic on how he and his entire family took part in a local park clean-up, picking up crud that other slobs had tossed here, there, and everywhere. Look, I'm not against cleanup days, but how silly to imagine that, by thus taking part, we're saving the planet, when, in one dastardly swoop, the entire gulf can be ruined by one big-industry blunder. In fact, reports have it that local picker-uppers are showing up on the coast only to be told to get lost – this is a job for pros!

No, I won't stand for it – to be told preaching is valueless and community cleanup days are the path to salvation. And don't mistake that statement as unconcern for the environment! When the kids were little and we hiked trails at Allegheny State Park, we'd take trash bags with us and make a treasure hunt out of it, collecting beer and pop cans along the way – some had been there for years. (there were even some of the ancient tin types, cans that had been opened, not with pop-tops, but with can openers such as I remember from when I was a kid – extra points awarded for such finds!) And heaven help you if you are the pig dumping fast food trash out the car window and Mrs. Sheepandgoats is driving behind you! Steam comes from her ears. She all but rams your bumper and slaps you in handcuffs, hauling you to the sheriff in citizens' arrest.

One fellow is griping here about Jehovah's Witnesses: "They don’t even need to recycle if they don’t want to." What kind of an accusation is that? Are there groups that maintain their people MUST recycle, whether they want to or not? Where recycling is the law of the land/community, JW compliance is higher than most, I've no doubt, since they are well-known to be law-abiding. Where it is not the law of the land, likely JW compliance is still higher than most, out of respect for the planet. Look, when financially secure, trendy neighborhoods take up recycling as their special cause, I admit, they may outdo the average Witness. But we surely shine when compared to the population in general. I attended a wine festival over the weekend. Each vendor offered samples of wine, cheese, candy, sauce, whatever, in one-use plastic cups, or plates, or skewering toothpicks. Were they recycled? I doubt it. All trash was mixed together. In the medical field, everything is one-use only, disposable, in the interests of sanitation. Nothing is washed. Nothing is reused. Again, all trash is mixed together. I once worked part-time for a retail inventory firm, reputed to be the country's largest consumer of AAA batteries. Do you imagine those batteries were recycled? When I asked about it, they laughed at me. In the trash they'd go....each and every one of them. 

Look, I'm all for local clean-up-the-park days. Same with clean-up-the-roadside days. None of Jehovah's Witnesses will ever speak against such things, unless you count observations that such are, at best, a stop-gap measure, and that the lasting solution will come only when God carries out his promise to “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” We tend to use our free time to highlight this latter solution, the one that, in the end, counts. My experience is that it's only the tiniest sliver of the population who take part in such cleanups, anyway – it's not as if JWs are thwarting the whole effort. And surely it must count for something that Jehovah's Witnesses aren't among those who caused the mess in the first place.

“This [JW belief that God's Kingdom only can permanently solve earth's environmental woes] leads to the undeniable fact that Witnesses take almost no initiative towards making the world we live in a better place in any way:” someone tries to sell me that line. Hogwash! Not to oversimplify, but if the entire population were Witnesses, there would be no need for efforts to make the world we live in a better place. This, because of the traits which are instilled into each Witness. Law-abiding to the core, honest, working, not abusing government services, not contributing to the criminal element freely operating in most lands, promoting stable, monogamous families – all this by virtue of making Bible principles a way of life. Thus, merely propagating Witness beliefs is a step toward making the world a better place.

Meanwhile, I had to go to Canada (the Globe and Mail, June 19th) to discover that at least half of the leaked gulf oil is being recovered through various means, such as salvage ships that corral surface oil and burn it. It really is true that the U.S. media ignores even qualified good news, preferring to focus only the overwhelming devastation itself, along with who is to blame, and delighting in the President's declaration that he's looking for “asses to kick,” even while insinuating that his own “ass” might be among them, that the oil spill is his Katrina, and so forth. Sigh....that's what we're good at here: kicking asses.

******************************

Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)

Picking Flowers for Heaven’s Garden

Every married man my age, bar none, has seen the film Steel Magnolias. Not one wanted to see it. They were all dragged along by their wives. When it was my turn, I wisely went along without fuss, so as not to be accused of insensitivity toward womenhood. It wasn't a bad film, mind you; it had its moments; it's just not the type of film a guy would ever choose, at least, not of his own free will.
 
I mention Steel Magnolias because it's the first example that comes to mind of that stupid "God is picking flowers" analogy. One SM character loses a son, and another- a recent convert - comforts her by suggesting God is picking flowers for his beautiful garden in heaven! He doesn't want wilted stuff, of course, he wants only the best! That's why he chose that woman's son, implying she should feel privileged to lose a son for so great a Cause.

She doesn’t.

Who would ever think such an analogy could be comforting? It's monstrous! No wonder people go atheist! Take away the most precious thing a person has simply because you have a vacancy, and expect her to be comforted over that? Yet we hear it all the time, and the younger the deceased, the more likely some sappy preacher will use it: God has a garden. He grows pretty flowers, see - absolutely the best. But he needs one more; there's one spot that's just not right. Ah! The missing ingredient is your flower. He'll pick it. Surely, you'll be happy. What's that? You're not? Tough!
 
The "picking flowers" illustration is nowhere found in the Bible. But, just once, the Bible uses an illustration parallel in all respects except the moral, which is exactly opposite from the PF.  It takes place after King David, drooling over Uriah’s knockout wife, takes her as his own. 2 Samuel 12:1-7 tells us:
 
The LORD sent Nathan [a prophet]  to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle,  but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.


"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."  David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!"
            
Now, this analogy is just. The man is not expected to be comforted that the king stole his wife! So anyone who’s ever recoiled in disgust at the “picking flowers” analogy is reacting exactly as the Bible says they should! It’s the preacher who is suggesting what is obscene! The flower picker is not to be praised. He deserves death!
 
Since the illustration is slanderous toward God and not found in the Bible, why do preachers routinely use it? The answer is, just as in Mean Things God Doesn’t Do, Part 1, church preachers have bought into unscriptural, unreasonable doctrines that unfailingly paint them into moral corners. You make a god-awful mess trying to escape from these corners, just as you would from a real corner.
 
The unscriptural doctrine here is that, when we die, we don’t really die. There is some component of us, usually called the soul, that lives on. It is immortal. Have you been good? Or are you a cuddly child? Then death is your friend. You get promoted to heaven, and how can anyone not be happy to see good people promoted? It’s a win-win!
 
Trouble is, people don’t behave as if it’s a win-win. People mourn at funerals; they don’t rejoice. They take a long time to readjust. Some never readjust to the death of their child; children are not supposed to die before the parent. Death is unnatural. It is not a friend, as most religions would have us believe. It is an enemy, which is what the Bible says. (1 Cor 15:26)
 
Wasn't it Abraham Lincoln who said he wasn't smart enough to lie? Meaning, of course, that once you've told a lie, you never know when you'll have to make up another fiction to uphold that lie – in this case, a fiction like "picking flowers," to uphold the lie that we have immortal souls that survive our deaths. We don't.
 
The Hebrew word from which soul is translated is nephesh. It occurs in the Old Testament 754 times. Only twice in the KJV is soul translated from any other word. Therefore, find the meaning of nephesh, and you've found the meaning of soul.

The first OT instance of nephesh applied to humans (four prior times in Genesis chapter 1 it is applied to animals) is at Genesis 2:7:
 
"And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul. "
 
Now.... a man who comes to be a plumber is a plumber. He doesn't have a plumber. A man who comes to be an architect is an architect. He doesn't have an architect. A man who comes to be an atheist is an atheist. He doesn't have an atheist. And a man who comes to be a soul is a soul. He doesn't have a soul. Soul, therefore, is the individual himself. In some cases, it represents the life an individual enjoys as such. It never stands for some mystical substance that survives our death. That latter notion is common among ancient peoples, but is nowhere found in the Bible. Attempting to infuse those ancient philosophies into the Bible, various theologians seized upon nephesh as the equivalent of that immortal substance, but thorough consideration of the Hebrew word indicates it means something else entirely.
 
The Bible is unique among religious books in that it does not teach an immortal soul.
 
Here the New World Translation does something so intrinsically honest that its translators ought to be lauded for it, rather than accused of slipping in their own doctrinal bias. Every time nephesh occurs in the Hebrew, the NWT translates it soul. Thus, it's rather easy to look at every instance of soul and discern what the word means by its context. Few Bibles do this. They bury the word amidst multiple renderings so you can't tell what it means.
 
For example, the English Revised Version (1881) translates nephesh as soul 472 times, but in the other 282 places renders it by any of forty-four different words or phrases! What determines how these translators render nephesh? Is it not obvious they have a preconceived idea of soul? They translated nephesh as soul when it fits their preconceived idea; they translate it otherwise when it doesn't! To then claim that the Bible teaches immortal soul is dishonest in the extreme. They have doctored their translation to make sure it does so!
 
Genesis 2:7, quoted above, is one verse that usually doesn’t "make the cut" for nephesh being translated soul. Many modern translations like to render nephesh here as living being or creature, such as the New International Version (1978):
 
"...then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."
 
also NASB (1971), NKJV (1982), RSV (1952)
 
It’s a recent development. Older Bibles render this instance of nephesh as soul, just as they do in its other 700 places. For instance:
 
and man became a living soul  (ASV  1901)
and Man became a living soul  (Darby  1890)
and man became a living soul.  (Douay-Rheims 1609)
and man became a living soul.  (KJV  1611)
and the man was a liuing soule  (Geneva Bible 1587)
And so was man made a lyuynge soule (Miles Coverdale Bible 1535)
and man was maad in to a lyuynge soule. (Wycliffe  1395)
 
The innovative modern translators will tell you they’ve chosen being or creature to make their Bibles more readable. Well….maybe. The words surely do no harm to readability. But the inconsistent translating also serves to confound anyone trying to investigate soul (nephesh) as described in the Bible. By rendering nephesh any old way they like, those translators are able to leave the impression that nephesh is the equivalent of the immortal soul beliefs held among the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and others. One wonders if that isn’t the real reason for the selective translating of nephesh.
 
In his early days, Charles Darwin toyed with becoming a church minister. Such a ministry was then a respectable choice for a man of letters who couldn’t decide what else he wanted to do with his life. Darwin had a daughter named Annie, who was, by all accounts, his favorite child. At age 10, Annie contracted scarlet fever, and died after six weeks of agony. Also a casualty was Darwin’s faith in a beneficent Creator. The book Evolution: Triumph of an Idea, by Carl Zimmer, tells us that Darwin “lost faith in angels.”
 
Did those sappy preachers tell him that God was picking flowers? that he needed just one more angel to make his garden perfect? I wouldn’t put it past them. Again, you almost have to do it if you want to uphold the ‘immortal soul’ lie. Devastated, Charles Darwin was later to pen the work that would pull the rug of authority out from under all those clergymen. No longer would they be the guardians of Sacred Truth and Wisdom. Instead they'd become the guardians of Childrens' Stories and Nonsense.

One can only wonder how things might have turned out had Darwin been comforted with the Bible’s actual hope of a resurrection (something not possible if one is still living via their ‘immortal soul’). Death is an enemy, not a friend, the Bible realistically tells us. It was never part of God’s plan, it came about only through rebellion early in human history, and it is to be eliminated once God’s purpose reaches fulfillment:
 
That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.  (Rom 5:12)
 
Next, the end, when he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power. For he must rule as king until [God] has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing   (1 Cor 15:24-26)
 
And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.   (Rev 21:4)

 
False religion leaves a vacuum which is quick to be filled with other reasonings. As discussed here, the pull of evolution is as much emotional as it is scientific. One can only wonder…. how different history might have been had Darwin known the truth about death. Not just Darwin, of course, but everyone of his time, as well as before and after. Instead, fed a diet of phony pieties….junk food, if you will…..he and others of inquisitive mind searched elsewhere in an attempt to make sense of life.

*************************

Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)

The French Version of Geraldo?

It's not unusual for the developmentally disabled to have issues of self-esteem. And it's not hard to see why. If your closest associates - in the vast majority of cases, your only associates - are people who have to be paid to see you, you don't think you might have some self-esteem issues?

But Doug has no issues of self-esteem. He is one of the few who has benefited from heavy family involvement. At the restaurant, he barks (more or less literally) directions to staff as they pass by - this or that dish is empty, and he holds it up to make his point. Doug is non-verbal. If you don't know him, you won't understand a thing he says. If you do know him, you still won't understand a thing he says but, combined with gestures, you can usually catch the drift. Doug's very social. He thrusts out a hand to men as they pass, inviting a handshake. From women he wants hugs; he holds out both arms.

After the meal, we drive over to the Fairport commons area - Liftbridge Park - to hang out a bit. We're in luck. Lots is happening - a classic car show and a live band. I wheel Doug near the band, an all-girl group called It's My Party, who perform songs from the early 60's, and perform them very well. They have matching outfits, just like in the 60's, synchronized gestures, and ... um...some campy 60's dialog between songs. The drummer is their producer, and their website says they have performed for 20 years. How can that be, since the singers themselves are yet high-schoolers? Ah, the producer has been around that long, and maybe some of the backup musicians, of which there are 8 or 9 - are some of them high-schoolers, too? The girl singers have been replaced once or twice.

Many in the audience are older folk - revisiting their youth, one suspects - and after the show, a woman remarks on the lankiest singer's long limbs. "Yeah, it's hard to get clothes," the performer replies. Actually, I thought she said it's hard to get close. That would fit too, for the trio accentuate their songs with 60's cheerleading gestures, arms flailing like windmills.

Doug is captivated by all this. You want to leave? I ask after a few songs. Slight but emphatic shake of the head no. You want to stay? Slight but emphatic shake of the head yes. You want one of their CDs? Yes. So we wait in the lineup, which really isn't wheelchair accessible, and they sign his copy with hugs and kisses - xxooxxoo. Of course, Doug solicits actual hugs and gets them from the girl or two closest to him. Backing out, he keeps it up and gets several more hugs from other girls....you know...girls in the audience, girl friends of the singers, and so forth!

Back at the home I write up a report - they like to keep track of social progress and "if it's not documented, it didn't happen." I tell about all the hugs and conclude with the question "how does he do that?" I mean, it's not as if anyone offered to hug me.

These are my people: the developmentally disabled - to use the current jargon. Working at the group home was probably the most enjoyable job I've ever had, and I resisted any attempts to rise in the ranks because each step up meant more bureaucracy and less contact with residents. I still keep up with them. This outing with Doug was on my own time.

All this explains why I'm not in a hurry to pick any quarrel with Sabrine Bonnaire, one of France's premiere actresses. We're on the same team. True, I'm not familiar with her acting career, but then I'm not French, am I? Who would ever have thought that a film would be made about a group home, and if it was, who would ever have thought it would be any good? But such is Ms. Bonnaire's first stab at film directing. The film is Her Name is Sabine. It's a documentary set in a group home. Sabine is Sabrine's sister.  Sigh....I hope it's not a sign of how invisible these people are that even the reviewer has screwed up the title: it is not the cheery My Name is Sabine, as he states. It is the more provocative Her Name is Sabine, implying that most people would see her as a subject, a patient, a resident, a disabled person, a ....but she has a name.

Sabrine Bonnaire makes sure people know her name. She's pulled photos and home movies out of a seemingly bottomless reservoir to show her sister growing up - a vibrant, talented (she plays classical piano), pleasantly quirky girl - once inseparable from the 18 month older Sabrine. But she suffers from autism. It's effects grow more pronounced through the years. Her parents pull her out of school and hire tutors. Still, she deteriorates. An admittance to the hospital's psych ward is a total disaster - the screen goes black while Sabrine narrates the details.

Sabine is now in a group home, just like where Doug is. The French actress used her fame to jump-start funding, and the house exists largely because of her. She's since met with French President Nocolas Sarkozy and Minister for Work and Social Affairs Xavier Bertrand to argue for the disabled. Is Sandrine Bonnaire the French version of Geraldo Rivera? Like him, she's done much to advocate for this most vulnerable population, and I can't do anything but cheer her for that.

Now....the point upon which I would contend with Ms. Bonnaire is a small point. It's hardly the focus of her story. Barely worth mentioning. On the other hand, I will mention it AND I will make a big deal over it. It steams me. In the midst of the film review linked to above is inserted Sabrine's observation about their Jehovah's Witnesses upbringing (who would have guessed?), as if it somehow explains Sabine's troubles:

Sandrine and Sabine grew up in a large, working-class family on the outskirts of Paris. Their mother was a Jehovah's Witness whose strict adherence to the sect's rules on birth control explains the number of children: 11 in total, of which Sandrine, now 41, is the sixth, Sabine the seventh. Growing up in a Jehovah's Witness home was "quite heavy", says Sandrine. "First of all, it was very boring. You don't do birthdays and Christmas when everyone else does them. You can have them, but three or four days after the date, so you feel apart from your friends."

I tell you, I won't put up with it. I'll bet you anything that this girl was fully embraced in the local congregation and circuit, where the atmosphere is warm and accepting, and where children are taught to be kind and compassionate to those less fortunate, rather than "bullying" and "mocking" (yes, even during birthdays and Christmas), as they were in the grade school Sabine had to be pulled from. It's not Jehovah's Witnesses who screwed up the title of her film. The JW mother ought to be a hero in this story, not a token religious nut. She nurtured her daughter as a child and adult as, one by one, other siblings departed for lives of their own. How is it that Sabine plays classical piano without, at the very least, mother's support? Mom dutifully followed doctor's advice and admitted Sabine into the local hospital, where they put her in locked isolation and straightjacket, administered drugs by the truckload, denied toilet facilities, and ultimately forbade family visitation - these were medical experts, mind you - and finally returned the woman to her mother in far worse shape than they found her. Does it occur to anyone that the mother's faith helped her carry on when everyone else failed her daughter? As stated at the outset, family involvement with the developmentally disabled is, at least in the U.S, rare.

And what is this about the "sect's rules on birth control?" Nobody among Jehovah's Witnesses has any hang-ups about birth control, unless you mean the abortion-inducing IUD kind, which yes, we do reject. But contraceptives? Condoms? No one has any issue with them. So if the mother did have strong views in this regard, it didn't come from the "sect." And the holidays? Well, yes, I suppose. But surely it's a matter of perspective. There were Jewish kids when I was going to school and they sat out every Christmas and Easter. It wasn't that big of a deal. There were compensating attributes within their own faith. No one carried on about how they were deprived. Look, if there's a party going on, of course a child will want to be part of it, same as all will want to subsist on ice cream and candy. But as adults, you hopefully come to realize what's important and what's not. Christmas, to take the most prominent example, does not fall on Christ's birthday. Jesus never said anything about celebrating his birth anyway, and most customs associated with it are from non if not anti-Christian sources.

In fact, is it just Sabrine Bonnaire or is it all of France? For perhaps two decades, France has leveled a 60% tax on financial contributions made to Jehovah's Witnesses, a repressive measure unheard of in any free country, and a plain attempt to stamp out the group. The policy's been under appeal from the outset and will likely be decided in the European High Court. Look, I know that much of Europe is intensely secular, and probably France most of all. I suspect it stems from World Wars I and II, bloodbaths that found fertile soil in the very continent where churches held most sway. If churches can't prevent such mass slaughters, what good are they? But how ironic that the only Christian group with the guts to unilaterally stand up to Hitler is the one most harassed in post-war France!

Still, the movie is great. It's a shame so few Americans know of it, just as they know nothing of Maigret. French critics dubbed it "the most beautiful film Cannes has given us this year". Mrs. Sheepandgoats and I, though not of that august body, fully concur.

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)

Advise and Consent and Sexual Orientation

Talk about politically incorrect!

Senator Anderson punches his gay ex-lover in the mouth. The poor fellow drops face-down in the gutter. Now...there's a lot of things that can happen to a guy when he's punched, but this guy goes in the gutter! Face down! The unmistakable symbolism: that's where he belongs!!*

That's how Otto Preminger treated homosexuality in his 1962 movie Advise and Consent. A former Academy Award winning director, Preminger took bows for his film. Today, he'd be crucified for it. When the movie was re-done for DVD a few years ago , the homosexual sub-plot was replaced with a Jewish one. (even though the original plot was based upon a true incident.)

 

Times have changed. It's anyone with an unkind word about homosexuality who belongs in the gutter today. The District Overseer can barely believe his own words as he observes: "nowadays, only homosexuals want to get married." Evidence, he maintains, that the world is "upside down."

It sure seems that way from any historical perspective.  In my lifetime, I've seen homosexuality go from reviled fringe to cutting-edge alternative. There once seemed nothing more unlikely than this verse becoming reality:

Therefore God, in keeping with the desires of their hearts, gave them up to uncleanness, that their bodies might be dishonored among them, even those who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created, who is blessed forever. Amen. That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.    Rom 1:24-27

It's an unflattering view of homosexuality, but I don't include it for that reason, rather, for it's implication that homosexuality would become commonplace. Nobody of my generation would ever have foreseen it. Seemingly, the going against what is "natural" was enough to rule it out. When you work with plumbing or electricity, you link the male end with the female end. Always. That's the way it's done. Nobody thinks it's cutting edge plumbing to solder two male ends together, or female. It doesn't happen. And it's always been that way with human sexuality. Doubtless, that's how we came to apply those terms to electricity and plumbing.

Preminger's portrayal plays mean-spirited today, yet it was right in sync with popular sentiment of that time - indeed,  of any time. Homosexuality used to be perverted. Now, however, it is edgy, and heterosexuality....well, a little unimaginative, if not downright dull. The very words straight (inflexible, efficient, but monotonous) vs gay (happy, live life to the full!) are rife with the implication. Tabloids breathlessly speculate about this or that star. Are they attracted to .....yawn, how boring....the opposite sex, OR are they enamored with.....cross your fingers, oh please, please, please....the SAME sex! Yes!! That's what I'm talkin about!!!

It's unbelievable!! How can this be the rage? How can it be mainstream? Yes, as a small fringe...that has always been, but how can it seriously rival "natural" sex attraction? Can they all really have been born that way?

Are any of them born that way? Freud used to say that sexuality was determined at a very early age based on interaction of the parents. He's shouted down today on that point, but is there reason to shout him down? Or is his theory, which implies abnormality, just not what people want to hear today?

Or are there yet other factors at work?

Otto Preminger pioneered in introducing taboo subjects to film: homosexuality in Advise and Consent, rape in Anatomy of a Murder, drug addiction in The Man With the Golden Arm. You can count upon films making abundant use of these juicy themes today, but in Preminger's time they were unheard of. Yet, from Advise and Consent (1962) on, every film treatment of homosexuality was more favorable than the one before. Today, there's no film stigma whatsoever about gays, as there was then. Quite the opposite. The gay character is cool, intriguing, hip, contrasting well with other dullards on the show.

I don't pretend to know how to weigh these 3 factors - genetics, Freud, media - or if there are yet other ones. The endorsement of the psychiatric profession, for example. Excess hormones, for another, readily found in modern food and water supplies. Not that this would cause homosexuality, I don't imagine. But it may push sexuality to be much more fluid, more susceptible to other influences. Pure guesswork on my part. I don't really know. But I'll tell you one thing. Never would my generation have anticipated that sexual identity would be so pliable as it has proved to be. That the Bible forecasts this, against all then-common wisdom, is a major point in its favor.

 

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

[EDIT    Feb 21, 2010] The newly emerging field of epigenetics also suggests some possibilities.

**************************

Tom Irregardless and Me                 No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

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)

Bounced out of Heaven?

I used to work with a young woman who’d been brought up without religion. She knew God’s name was Jehovah because she’d seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And from Dogma, she knew that God’s original purpose was for humans to live on earth forever; our planet was never a launch pad to heaven or trap door to hell. And that angels were a separate creation; they weren’t former "good people" enjoying their reward for being good.

From two movies she had more Bible knowledge than 90% of church folk who’ve spent a lifetime butts glued to pews! If you don’t approach the book determined to read in teachings that aren’t there, it becomes much easier to understand.

For instance, just try to reconcile the heaven/hell dogma with John chapter 11, which relates a resurrection Jesus performed:

He [Jesus] said these things, and after this he said to them: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.” Therefore the disciples said to him: “Lord, if he has gone to rest, he will get well.” Jesus had spoken, however, about his death. But they imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. At that time, therefore, Jesus said to them outspokenly: “Lazarus has died, ……

 

Consequently when Jesus arrived, he found he had already been four days in the memorial tomb. …….

 

Hence Jesus, after groaning again within himself, came to the memorial tomb. It was, in fact, a cave, and a stone was lying against it. said: “Take the stone away.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to him: “Lord, by now he must smell, for it is four days.” Jesus said to her: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Therefore they took the stone away. Now Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.” And when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come on out!” The [man] that had been dead came out with his feet and hands bound with wrappings, and his countenance was bound about with a cloth. Jesus said to them: “Loose him and let him go.”  John 11:11-44

He’d been dead for four days. Where was he during this time?

You don’t think if he’d been in heaven he would have said something upon being dragged back to earth? When Johnny Cash had a near-death experience during surgery and imagined he’d seen heaven, he was steamed to wake up again in the hospital. Even with his sweetheart June around. Yet Lazarus had been there four days, long enough to check out his room and settle in, if it really is so that the good all go to heaven.

For non-judgmental types, let us allow that even if he’d not gone to heaven, but spent those four days in hell, and Jesus still brought him back, letting bygones be bygones, Lazarus still did not mention a thing. And he didn't right away run for a bucket of water to sit in, as you can be sure I would have done.

No, the account suggests that Lazarus was nowhere during those four days; he was DEAD, non-existent, not conscious of a thing. Didn’t Jesus suggest as much when he likened the man to being asleep and not conscious in some other realm?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are unique among Judeo-Christian groups in not buying into the heaven/hell routine. For them, a future resurrection (foreshadowed in places like the above passage) is the hope for all who have died, or nearly all. In the meantime, dead people really are dead; they don’t exist; they’ve gone back to the dust from which they came.

Once we get this through our heads, so many scriptures make instant sense. Like this one about John the Baptist, one of the nicest people around, in fact, the fellow who baptized Jesus:

Truly I [Jesus] say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.   Matt 11:11

No one of humans better than John. Yet the janitor in heaven is higher up than he. So John didn’t go to heaven. And if he didn’t, being top of the heap, no one else did, either.

Or this one about David:

It is allowable to speak with freeness of speech to you concerning the family head David, that he both deceased and was buried and his tomb is among us to this day…..Actually David did not ascend to the heavens….. Acts 2:30-34

Or this one:

All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.   Eccles 9:10 

Many Bible translations render sheol in this passage as “the grave;” but the New World Translation simply transliterates the original Hebrew word, for which the Greek equivalent is hades. Although sheol and hades are two of the three wordsoften rendered into English as “hell,” their actual meaning is “place of the dead“, without reference to being good or bad during life.

All basic scriptural teachings, which you could have learned by staying out of church and going to the movies.

*********************

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)

Blood Transfusion Video Wins a Prize and Provokes a Fight

When the first blood transfusion experiments were done, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Copenhagen, Thomas Bartholin (1616-80), objected. His concern was not on scientific grounds but on spiritual. 

"Those who drag in the use of human blood for internal remedies of diseases appear to misuse it and to sin gravely," he wrote. "Cannibals are condemned. Why do we not abhor those who stain their gullet with human blood? Similar is the receiving of alien blood from a cut vein, either through the mouth or by instruments of transfusion. The authors of this operation are held in terror by the divine law, by which the eating of blood is prohibited."

The only people I know of who still have regard for this aspect of divine law are Jehovah's Witnesses. If there were others (and judging from Bartholin's comment there must have been) they abandoned it when transfusions entered the mainstream. More or less the same thing has occurred with both abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

Jehovah's Witnesses catch a lot of flack for their stand regarding transfusions. Yet the stand is one that can be accommodated medically. In recent years, partly due to the efforts of Jehovah's Witnesses and partly due to the very real risks that have surfaced regarding transfusion, new techniques of bloodless medicine have emerged. Watchtower produced some videos about them in 2001. They followed some case histories, filmed some operations, used some computer animation, and interviewed prominent surgeons the world over who said supportive things about the new methods.

The 34th Annual U.S. International Film and Video Festival was coming up, so Watchtower entered their video (Transfusion Alternatives - Simple, Safe and Effective) and won, beating out 1500 other films from 33 countries:

Research Documentation category: 2nd place (Silver Screen Award)

Professional-Educational category: 2nd place (Silver Screen Award

Current Issues category: 1rst place (Gold Camera Award)

It's always good when your film wins. It adds credibility.

You can view it here: (see "from our videos)

So I was surprised to find the video torn apart frame by frame on some Next Generation Atheist website, the kind where the most exalted qualities are logic and reason, and the most admired person is Mr. Spock of Star Trek. Evidence, a fellow named Psiloiordinary demands! Give me some evidence that blood transfusions are not perfectly safe. Give me some medical reason that silly religious scruples should not be trampled underfoot should they interfere. So I gave him some.

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

Dear Psiloiordinary:

Here is a doctor who likens transfused blood to "water from a dirty fish tank"

[Patricia Ford, MD, a hematologist/oncologist and Medical Director of the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, part of the PENN Medicine hospital network. Dr. Ford is one of the pioneers of bloodless surgery and has been teaching its technique to doctor’s around the world.]

Blood stored for any length of time loses most of its oxygen carrying capability, she maintains. Perhaps she reached that conclusion through such studies as this:

Note how Dr Bruce Speiss in this post declares about transfusions: "So it's just largely been a belief system-- almost a religion, if you will-- that if you give a unit of blood, patients will get better"

As you have observed, Jehovah's Witnesses steadfastly refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons. As a result, some in the medical field have pioneered bloodless techniques. By eliminating the risk of foreign tissue, human error, and blood-borne diseases, these new techniques offer a safety margin that conventional blood transfusions do not. Might the day come, or is it even here already, when the number of lives saved through such medicine will outnumber those lost by a few members of a relatively tiny religious group that stuck to its principles amidst much opposition?

[I nearly gave him another study which came to my attention at about the same time, but I thought two items would be sufficient]

 

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

His reply (on his own blog) was prompt:

I had asked JW's for evidence to back up their claims. What I am provided with here is in fact an anecdote with no supporting evidence. I quote peer reviewed materials and in reply I get a story. The reasons that stories don't count as evidence is that they can fall prey to all of the errors of thinking I highlighted above. Wow this all fits in with the other stuff your skimmed earlier on doesn't it. Ok I'll wait while you go back and read it properly - hurry up.

OK. Off we go again.

Tom does a little better with his next salvo;
"Blood stored for any length of time loses most of its oxygen carrying capability, she maintains."
This piece relates to the fact that Nitric Oxide seems necessary to get the oxygen from the blood into the body. Here are some more quotes from this same article;
[he quotes almost the whole article, which I won't reproduce, as I've already linked to it. Feel free to check it again]

But at least this does appear to be some bona fide research, just bear in mind that it was preliminary research done on 10 people - yes just 10 and so needs to be followed up in proper clinical trials. Why? Well so that all those errors of thinking we outlined above can be ruled out.

Who is doing this research? Doctors. I have highlighted in bold their comments about the need for blood transfusions. Remember confirmation bias? Our friend Tom CatsandDogs has managed that particular error of thought big time hasn't he? Or was he just selectively quoting to be deliberately dishonest? Not sure actually.

Lets see what else he has for us;

"Note how Dr Bruce Speiss in this post declares about transfusions: "So it's just largely been a belief system-- almost a religion, if you will-- that if you give a unit of blood, patients will get better"

Once again I can give you a little more honest version of this by simply telling you everything the chap actually said [and again he quotes virtually the entire article, which again I won't reproduce as I've already linked to it, and again feel free to check it once more]

Of course Tom FishandChips doesn't agree with these bits so he doesn't quote them. It's as if they don't even exist. Tom's brain is pretty amazing isn't it? Does he even know that his brain has done this?

Or is he simply dishonest?

Maybe he will let us know.

For now he signs off as follows with a tour de force of broken logic;

"As you have observed, Jehovah's Witnesses steadfastly refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons. As a result, some in the medical field have pioneered bloodless techniques. By eliminating the risk of foreign tissue, human error, and blood-borne diseases, these new techniques offer a safety margin that conventional blood transfusions do not. Might the day come, or is it even here already, when the number of lives saved through such medicine will outnumber those lost by a few members of a relatively tiny religious group that stuck to its principles amidst much opposition?"

Tom states that medical research of this kind only happened because of the JW stance. The article he links to shows this is not true. [Actually, it shows just the opposite. The writer states: "Originally developed to meet the needs of the Jehovah’s Witness community, bloodless surgery is transfusion-free and is acceptable to Jehovah Witness followers because they are being reinfused with their own blood." (third paragraph)]

A quick summary of Tom's "evidence";

An anecdote followed by selective quotes, taken out of context from preliminary medical research, which presumably would be a waste of time for Tom anyway as he will never take blood because of what he thinks the bible means. All topped off with a claim that because JW's are dying for their beliefs they are saving the lives of others.

Takes your breath away doesn't it.

Over to you Tom.

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

What is remarkable about this reply is its sheer meanness. Did I do anything to provoke it other than exist with a different view? Psiloiordinary asked for evidence. I gave him some. 

Essentially he charges that I have used the researchers' words out of context. That's nonsense. All you have to do when quoting is to quote honestly. The words you cite should be as the speaker intended them to be understood. You don't have to analyze his entire life philosophy for consistency, otherwise all historical writings would need be delivered by forklift.

To be sure, these researchers said some things not entirely consistent. But that's how people are. We are all a maze of contradictions - even ...gasp....scientists, reason lovers and logicians. Even with science, new views are not quickly accepted simply because they are supported by evidence.  Max Planck the physicist sums it up more realistically: "People think new truths are accepted when the proponents are able to convince the opponents. Instead, the opponents of the truth gradually die, and a new generation comes along who is familiar with the idea." Alas, here too Psiloiordinary will be outraged that I've not included a lexicon of all Dr. Planck ever said. But I found his words in a (science friendly) source that also saw fit to take the quote by itself.

In view of the bile, I wasn't quite sure how to reply, but in time I thought of something.

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

Dear Psiloiordinary:

First of all, it is not Catsanddogs. Nor is it Fishandchips. It is Sheepandgoats.

When you are trying to sway someone over to your point of view, you don't insult them at every turn. You don't ridicule them. You don't portray yourself as the ultimate fount of wisdom and express surprise that they can even tie their shoes. You do all these things if you want to puff out your chest and impress pals with your razor-like wit, but if you are actually trying to persuade somebody, you don't do it.

Instead, you look for areas in which you can commend them. You are conciliatory where you can be. You afford them dignity. That way, in the event you do make some valid points, you find your points are not rejected out of hand by a recipient who resents how ill-mannered you are.

I suspect these are the factors that account for mixed signals in the studies we've discussed. The doctors make the appropriate deferential remarks about the blood transfusion industry, yet those remarks in no way follow from the research they present.

For example, Dr Stamler asserts: Banked blood is truly a national treasure that needs to be protected

Yet he previously observes: we saw clear indications of nitric oxide depletion within the first three hours...we found blood depleted profoundly by day one and it remained depleted through day 42 and without nitric oxide the transfused blood cannot transfer oxygen, which is the only reason to select it over non-blood volume expanders. Therefore, banked blood is hardly a national treasure. Rather, if this study is true, banked blood, which has been given countless times, has generally been near worthless in oxygen-carrying capability (though each time it was hailed as "life-saving."). True, Dr. Stamler hopes he can correct the deficiency, but that says nothing for the transfusions already given.

Ditto with his comment which you excitedly put in bold: "There is no doubt, if you are bleeding to death from a trauma you need a transfusion." Not if you need immediate oxygen transfer, you don't, per his previous remark. What you need is fluid to replace the volume lost. It need not be blood, and it appears blood holds no advantage over non-blood volume expanders, perhaps even something so simple as saline solution. In an otherwise healthy person, the body, with restored volume, immediately goes about making new red blood cells.

So his latter two comments seem to me to be a sop to the blood sensibilities of his audience. They don't logically follow from the research he presents. He is simply being diplomatic.

Similar points could be made regarding Dr Speiss. And the non-sequiters presented above illustrate pretty well his comment that transfusions are practiced almost as a religion.

The fact is, both sites I've presented plant severe doubts to the wisdom of transfusion. You act as if they've strengthened the case.

Yours truly,

Tom Sheepandgoats

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

Now, did my mock outrage over my name being massacred in any way placate him? Or my reasoning on the articles I linked to? Alas....

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

Tom Sheepandgoats has previously ignored my questions and most of the facts I presented here, here, here, here, here and here.

Now we get this; [he reproduces my reply; I have deleted my words, as I did in his prior reply]

Listen to me Mr Bedknobsandbroomsticks, its unreasonable to go around with that appellation without expecting the mickey to be taken. In the unlikely event that no one has actually told you this before, then I can now have the honour of revealing to you that they have all thought it. Even if it is your real name, didn't you know you could have changed it in the "blogosphere"? How about Mr Iwouldletmykiddieiftheyneededabloodtransfusion?

[It's a good thing for him my Great Grandpa Shepundgoots from the old country isn't here to read his words. He would not turn the other cheek as readily as I have done.]

I am not trying to persuade you of anything Mr Cheeseandbiscuits, I am trying to look into this issue. You are not. In fact you seem to simply be trying to justify these primitive views by picking out selective quotes from people who completely disagree with you so that you don't feel as bad when the next JW man, woman or child dies needlessly. I assume these are your views - you have not said so explicitly but it seems a reasonable assumption from your posts.

For the record, Mr Bangersandmash, I write this Blog for the pleasure it gives me. I occasionally win a small victory for the side of rationality and reason and I even get appreciative feedback sometimes. Most often though I get to learn things. Learning about the sinister cult that is JW's has certainly been an eye opener for me.

I did not learn anything from your comments apart from your willingness to distort the words and opinions of some doctors to "support" your silly but dangerous beliefs.

So as far as the small kingdom that is this blog I am the ultimate fount of wisdom - so "suck it up" as I believe you say on that side of the pond.

The other reason I blog is that I think that very occasionally some one who has not been completely indoctrinated into the JW's or whatever form of woo I happen to examining, perhaps someone who has nothing to do with whatever it is might come across the odd item on this blog and make their own mind up based on the evidence.

You have provided excellent evidence of selective quote mining and anecdotal stories being used to justify a practice which amounts to letting people die.

That is what you have done for this blog and I thank you for it.

I have often quoted before that I don't think it is possible to use reason to persuade someone from a view which they have reached without use of in the first place.

As I previously remarked, quite eloquently I thought [naturally], "Suck it up". You can't expect to defend a practice of letting people die needlessly and go around flaunting the name of Mr Saltandvinegar without someone taking the mickey.

Next you demonstrate your inability to engage in a complex issue. For you it must be black or white, it can't be complicated or incompletely understood.

The research you speak of is a preliminary finding based on just 10 patients - proper clinical trials are only now being set up - if changes to medical practice are demanded by results which can be replicated by people who don't have a financial interest in the results then medical practice will change - which gives the lie to the comments about dogma.

It was I who gave the full quotes from the articles which clearly show that none of the doctors agree that blood transfusions should be stopped. You were the one who just picked out the bits to suit your argument - this is dishonest in itself - to now claim that you were open about both sides of this issue is a simple lie.

The doctors you quoted out of context even comment with concern about being quoted out of context in the very item you linked to.

Excuse me Mr Smokeandmirrors you pulled quotes out of context and you continue to refer to small scale preliminary findings as research as if we can draw conclusions from them.

Go and examine your conscience.

- - -

PS you are still ignoring all the questions previously raised - but hey - just keep quiet and hope no one notices eh?

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

sigh....The sources I link to speak for themselves, as does the Watchtower videos.

Sometimes my greatest fear is that these atheists are right and that their cherished evolution is how we all got here and that they represent its crowning achievement. If so, kiss goodbye to any hope for peace on earth. Such a pit bull, attack-oriented people I've rarely seen. Does it come from the grandmaster Dawkins himself?

Though in retrospect, there may be some failure to communicate. Psiloiordinary seems to feel the goal of the Watchtower videos (and my own comments) are to demolish the blood transfusion industry. They are nothing of the sort. They seek only to persuade the medical community that it is not unreasonable to try to accommodate our stand. We always hope that yet more doctors will come to treat our stand of religious conscience simply as a fact to adjust to, much as they might for an allergic reaction that rules out a favored medicine. Recent years' developments have seen considerable progress along this front. Whereas two or three decades ago, a doctor's opinion was unchallengeable law, these days, in the U.S. anyway, the principle of bodily integrity is recognized. It has come to be widely acknowledged that patients have the right to authorize or decline what is done to their own bodies.

*********************

Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)

Knocking Highlights A Defender of God

Joel Engardio's documentary Knocking features two Jehovah's Witness families, the Knights and the Kemplers. Joseph Kempler gives the most compelling reason for serving Jehovah I've ever heard.

As a teenager, Kempler was shuttled though six Nazi concentration camps and survived them all. He was interred as a Jew and freed as a Jew. While confined, though, he observed Jehovah's Witnesses. After the war he became one.

"It's difficult to speak to Jews," he says. "They say I became a traitor. Six million Jews died and I joined the other side.

"I was among those survivors who felt that God was really responsible and guilty. He was the one who permitted the Holocaust. So we didn't fail him, we didn't do anything wrong. He failed us. And this is  a very common belief.

"God is being maligned and misunderstood and in many different ways looked down upon as being uncaring or dead or whatever, and there are all kinds of distortions as to what God is and who he is. To be able to speak up in his defense....what a powerful turnaround from somebody where I was to become a defender of God...what  a wonderful privilege this is."

It is a privilege. Mr. Kempler recognized that and grabbed hold of it, even in the aftermath of suffering that turned millions away from God, millions who could not fathom how God could possibly permit such a monstrous thing. Yet accurate Bible knowledge conveys the reason for both suffering and persecution, how God will ultimately work matters out, and how his worshippers should respond in the meantime. Armed with such knowledge, Jehovah's Witnesses survived what was likely the greatest evil in history, with faith and dignity intact,

What is remarkable about the account is how so many people today go the other way in the face of far less provocation. Mr. Kempler saw, in the holocaust aftermath, an opportunity to defend God. But people today, even some of our own people, sever all ties with God for reasons no more substantial than personal inconvenience, having somehow lost all ability to conceive of any life beyond the here and now. Such is the power of a materialistic age where self is the focus.

God being where he is and we being where we are, and we in distinctly imperfect form, one might imagine him keeping us at arm's length. Instead, we're told that we can serve him shoulder to shoulder, as if he considers us equals!

For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.    Zeph 3:9

and that it's possible to be his friend:

and the scripture was fulfilled which says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” and he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend."   Jas 2:23

Inherent in defending God is speaking about him. You cannot read the gospels (literally "good news," Mark is the easiest; it moves the quickest) or Acts (the early history of Christianity's spread - "acts" of the apostles - things they did) without sensing that the ideas expressed were not to remain private but were to be offered to others. So speak Jehovah's Witnesses do.

The Bible consistently likens spiritual things to water. Water is healthy when it moves and stagnant when it does not. If Christians take it in through reading, meditation & congregation meetings, then their public ministry serves to keep in flowing. People have lots of views today, and, as a way of proclaiming "truce," a popular notion is that religion is too "private" to discuss, at least, to discuss with strangers. Plainly, JWs don't feel that way. To be sure, to keep "pushing" something upon someone who's made it clear they don't want it is ill-mannered. (though that doesn't necessarily preclude a later call. People change.) But the other extreme, labeling faith as too personal to even discuss, is not in keeping with the nature of Christianity.

In spite of their public visiting, Jehovah's Witnesses are a "live and let live" religion. Their "weapons" are ideas only. When you tell them "no," they go away. Sure, they try to be persuasive, but it's still only words. They don't afterward attempt to legislate their beliefs into law, so as to force people to live their way, much less resort to violence. 

To be a defender of God is a rare privilege indeed.

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

 

More on Knocking here and here

********************

Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

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)

Winged Migration and the Evolutionists

The bird newscaster was on the scene, microphone in hand....um....wing. Somberly, he related the details of the grisly crash. And it was grisly. Behind him you could see the downed airplane, broken and aflame. “Details are still sketchy,” he reported, “but it appears that the name of the bird sucked into the engines in Harold Kruntz.”

Such is the imagination of Gary Larsen, creator of the Far Side, who imagines the bird’s point of view.

That’s what the 2003 film Winged Migration does as well. It relates migration from the bird’s point of view. There you are, soaring shoulder to shoulder with big birds, small birds, ugly birds, pretty birds as they wing past and over fields, cities, factories, and ocean. There go the twin towers zipping past. (yep, it was filmed before 911) Does the camera stop to linger? Not for a moment; this is the bird’s point of view. Here is a frigate plying the waters, the birds land on deck. They strut to and fro, on short break from their journey. One or two catch a quick nap on the heat grates. Off yonder we hear some garbled voices on the shortwave. Do we track the source? Nope, this is the bird’s story. Off they fly and you go with them. We never see a person; do birds not care about us as much as we ourselves do?

Same story flying over the Grand Canyon and a few dozen other breathless terrains. No time to sightsee. It’s ‘keep on flying.’ Even a duck hunt is shown from the duck‘s point of view. There you are, flying with your duck buddies when there is a loud pop and one of them goes down!

“How in the world did they get that shot?” you say to yourself over and over again, as you and your birds wing around the world.

They did itwith the help of balloons, gliders, helicopters, and planes. They did it by exposing eggs of some of the birds to the sounds of people and film cameras so that the birds would be unafraid of them later. They did it with patience; French director Jacques Perrin with teams of filmmakers took three years to travel 40 countries and all seven continents, tracking birds of all types - birds on the go.

Narration is sparse, consisting mostly of terse remarks like “it is a matter of life and death.” We follow the arctic tern, a bird that migrates from the summer North Pole to the summer South Pole, and back again. At each endpoint, there are rich food sources. The narrator tells us of the never-ending search for food. You almost wish he’d say more.

Like how did that tern ever discover that such food bonanzas existed 11,000 miles apart? Does anyone have the answer? Do evolutionists? Did one tern just happen to “wander” that distance, and hit pay dirt to such an extent that all terns started doing it? What of the lazy terns that flew lesser distances? Did they all die out?

When fall arrives, Blackpoll Warblers gather on the New England coast. They've flown in from Alaska. By the sea they await the right weather conditions, a strong cold front, to begin their 2400 mile flight to South America. It finally comes and they take off, flying non-stop past Bermuda, heading straight…..for Africa! Approaching Antigua, they climb higher and higher, absurdly high, up to 21,000 feet. It's cold up there and there‘s not much oxygen. What are the stupid birds doing up there, for crying out loud?

They catch a prevailing wind that blows them to South America! Energy expended is less than if the warblers headed directly for that continent! Who’s stupid now? Can the evolutionists explain how that came about?

Come summer’s end, Manx shearwaters begin their migration from Wales. leaving behind their chicks. Once the latter can fly, they follow the adults and reunite in Brazil. One Manx shearwater was taken from Wales to Boston, (by scientists?…..did they blindfold it?) 3200 miles away. It returned to Wales in 13 days. Scientists did it to Adelie penguins, too, stranding them 1200 miles from their rookeries. Apparently unexasperated, (as I would be) they headed straight to the open sea to chow down for the trip ahead, and then returned to the rookeries.

Tom Pearlsenswine can get lost heading to the corner store.

In Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin wrote “Many instincts are so wonderful that their development will probably appear to the reader a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole theory.” To my knowledge, just how such instincts developed has still not been solved. Instead, it is taken off the table. Evolutionists rely on the scientific method, and the scientific method is too narrow to deal with such questions. Where are the repeatable experiments with which you can test this or that hypothesis? So they simply dismiss the whole matter as irrelevant. Thus,  when you come along to discuss the subject, you find you’re playing a board game, the rules of which are that you can’t move your pieces!

Some of Gary Larsen’s birds have reached the ultimate in evolutionary prowess, providing rich fodder for scientific research. Thus, one of his cartoons has a duck approaching in the hallway. The wife says to her husband: “Here he comes. Remember, be kind, but firm. We are not driving him south again this winter!” Evolution being what it is, the duck will no doubt talk them into it.

 

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News But Plenty of Hogwash

 

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)

Tom Sheepandgoats Rated R!

In the time-honored bloggers' way of wasting time, I discovered a colleague bloggerwho's blog is rated G. He crows about it. And he gives the website where you can rate your own blog.

Of course, this is irresistible, so I entered my own url. Surely, if this fellow gets a G, then my blog....pure and clean and beautiful....will also score a....

I'm rated R!  R!!!! Me! Righteous, pious, loveable Tom Sheepandgoats!!! Surely this is a ruse of the devil, and I only wish that nonsense about him having horns and pointy tail was really true and that I could trade places for a moment because then I would hunt down those internet clowns and jab them in the tush with my pitchfork!

The rating is based on key words and how often those words appear. I had some shockers:

death  (8x)
hell (2x)
murder (1x)

Look, this is a blog that deals with religious notions. Sure, "death" and "hell" have been mentioned. I don't quite recall where "murder" was used, though. Before logging on to a certain web rating service, the notion of murder had never occurred to me.

Now, in this politically correct age, before anyone take that last remark seriously, allow me to point out that it should not be taken seriously. It's a joke. Ha ha.

Which, incidentally, reminds me of the time in my youth (late 50's, early 60's) when it was routine for someone to say "I'll kill you," or "I'll kill you for that," as a means of expressing disapproval, or even in jest. Reacting to some childhood shenanigans, I vividly recall my mother saying "I'll kill you." It was said almost approvingly, with affection, as if acknowledging that "boys will be boys." She never did kill me, because if she had, then I wouldn't be here wri....well, she just never did.

Take, for example, that 1957 movie Twelve Angry Men, which I highly recommend. The twelve jurors are ready to quickly convict a kid for murder. ("Murder" again! Rats! There goes any hope of cleaning up my blog rating!) It seems an open-shut case, with eyewitnesses! But in deliberations, one juror votes "innocent," not because he thinks the kid is innocent, but only because he thinks anyone on trial for his life (yes, these were the days of the electric chair) deserves to have testimony patiently reviewed. Discussions uncover some things not given due weight during the trial. By degrees, the jurors all come over to the acquittal side. The 2nd last juror is tough to sway, and the last is next to impossible. Emotions are high, overshadowing (as the frequently do) reason. In frustration, the last guy shrieks "I'll kill you!" "You didn't mean that literally, did you?" comes the retort, and the stubborn fellow crumbles. There goes the last piece of substantial evidence, for the kid had been heard to say "I'll kill you!"

How far we've come through the years. Now, no one would ever say such a thing as "I'll kill you"....you'd have the hate-speech police all over you. But people have fewer qualms about doing it, something infrequent in the old days.

Rated R, my rear end! This system is almost as hokey as the movie ratingsystem.

 

*******************

Tom Irregardless and Me                 No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)

Isaac Asimov and Ignaz Semmelweis

I once worked with a girl named Casey who positively loved science fiction. In the context of other things, I mentioned the film I, Robot.

Oh, that was terrible! she said.

But as we kept talking, it turned out she had never seen it. Um...Casey, how do know it's terrible if you've never seen it? I asked. The answer was that she was a purist. She knew the movie did not follow Isaac Asimov's storyline, and that was enough for her!

For an Asimov purist, the movie would indeed be blasphemy. Asimov, who wrote literally almost all the time, having 500 books (written or edited) and 90,000 letters to his credit, with works in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal system, penned the Foundation trilogy and the I, Robot series, both pillars among science fiction. His plotting was ingenious, and had he been able to empathetically sketch people as well as ideas, he might have gone down as one of literature's true greats. Alas, his characters are cardboard, like those TV characters who are freely interchangeable save for one or two superficial features: this one is mean, this one likes to eat, that one is a geek, etc. Too bad - for every other aspect of Asimov's writing is extraordinary.

Asimov was an atheist, but I always imagine that, if current atheists had been taught the Bible by Jehovah's Witnesses instead of the churches, they may not have turned atheist. It's probably not so but I dream it anyway. For example, in his last autobiographical book, Asimov observes that hell is "the drooling dream of a sadist" crudely affixed to an all-merciful God; if even human governments were willing to curtail cruel and unusual punishments, wondered Asimov, why would punishment in the afterlife not be restricted to a limited term.  [Wikipedia entry on Isaac Asimov] Yeah! Man, I wish he had heard first from Jehovah's Witnesses! Virtually alone among Christian faiths at the turn of the last century, Jehovah's Witnesses exposed hellfire for the vicious rubbish that it is. JW "founder" C. T. Russell was known in his lifetime as the man who "turned the hose on hell and put out the fire!"

At any rate, had he been a Witness, it would have benefited him personally. He died in 1992, of AIDS contracted from a blood transfusion nine years prior.

Still, I am grateful to Dr. Asimov, not only for the hours of intriguing science fiction he laid upon me, but also for his non-fiction works. Asimov's Guide to Science probably was my springboard to individual branches of science. If Asimov lacked in sketching fictional characters, he was gifted in sketching real ones. Not only the pillars, but also the buffoons, he succeeded in portraying the humanity of scientists. It is from him (Asimov's guide to Biology) that I first read of Ignaz Semmelweis, early advocate of antiseptic surgical practices and forerunner of germ theory.

In the mid 1800's, Semmelweis got it in his head that fever and death following doctor-assisted childbirth could be curtailed by washing hands and equipment frequently. Doctors back then would deliver a baby, having just emerged from an autopsy, only wiping their hands on their smocks! There were some sort of tiny "particles" contaminating the women, Semmelweis proposed. Doctors howled with laughter at such nonsense. Asimov's book vividly portrays Semmelweis' presenting his ideas at seminars, with his esteemed audience mocking him, hurling catcalls! Doctors argued that, even if Semmeweis' findings were correct, washing one's hands each time before treating a pregnant woman would be too much work. Semmelweis enforced strict antiseptic practices at the hospital under his supervision, cutting deaths to under 1%, and it made no difference in their attitude! Colleagues ridiculed him his entire life, he suffered a nervous breakdown and, says Asimov, died in an insane asylum tormented by memories of women screaming in their death-agonies following hospital-acquired infections. With Semmelweis out of the way, his own hospital went back to familiar practices and the mortality rate climbed to 35%.

You can read the bare facts in many places, but Asimov's account is the most vivid I have come across, remarkable in a book that purports only to be an outline, a "guide."

Whenever those atheists start prattling on about how scientists graciously change their views at the first hint they may be off-base, whereas it's only the pig-headed religionists who "stay the course" come hell or high water, I play the 'Semmelweis' card.

Athiest or not, I miss Isaac Asimov.

****************************

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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)