Produce From the U.S.D.A—Isn’t That Nice?

Well well well. A 22lbs produce pack from the USDA—carrots, oranges, apples, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, yams, and celery. Apparently all non-profits received a large supply to distribute. I’m very grateful. Elders distributed to the congregation members. But will this become a—gasp!— ‘Go to Donald’ type of thing?“

No sooner had I posted the above when my nemesis posted:

HOW IT WORKS:

https://www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/farmers-families-food-box-program-faqs

It was a helpful link from someone who never ever posts a helpful link, and so when she does you wonder what she is up to. Wilma never posts things just to be helpful. In every case, she posts to denigrate her rivals the GB and to assure all that she can do things better. So why does she post this helpful link here?

Everyone knows her M.O. She is in a panic that the JW organization might get credit for this generosity and she wants to make sure that they don’t. She wants to make clear that this is a GOVERNMENT program, NOT a Jehovahs Witness program, and that people SHOULD NOT credit her rivals with generosity. 

Chill, you old battle axe, don’t worry about it. I plainly said that it was a USDA program for which I was grateful. USDA is government. Relax. I wasn’t giving your rivals the credit. I even said it represented a “Go to Donald” moment. The only credit I gave to the elders was for distributing the items.

But does this prompt distribution not show the value of organization, organization that she says ‘Who needs it?’ Why does the USDA do it this way—distribute to non-profits? Because they have a ton of aid to distribute and if they do it all at government facilities the lines will be two miles long. They also face the challenge of letting potential recipients know that aid is available. So they distribute to non-profits, taking advantage of the communication and distribution channels that they know will exist there.

Will everyone agree here that NOBODY will do this more effectively than Jehovah’s Witnesses? There may be some to do it AS effectively, but nobody will beat them at it. Organizations where all members are known and readily found and where there exist messengers to quickly deliver foodstuffs to each and every one of them cannot be an everyday thing.

My wife and I received a package Saturday around 2PM, after hearing reports of such a program that morning. I had volunteered to help as soon as I heard the reports, but there appeared to be no need of further help. I can well imagine that there were churches whose members learned of it Sunday morning at services, assuming that they happened to be there, and if they weren’t—too bad. It is not my aim to put them down—frankly I think we do far too much of putting church people down—It is only to point out that the attention of the JW organization to each member is not replicated everywhere. Even where the will exists, the means may not—you have to have volunteers to quickly distribute. There will be some outfits, I have no doubt, that are attentive to those in need and will connect promptly to bring aid. But it will not be universal, and in some cases It will break down completely since it was never built up.

It’s produce. It can’t sit around for days. It has to be handed out to each individual promptly. Members of the Witness community are broken down into service meeting groups, each under the oversight of one or more shepherds, who will know of any among them who is especially needy, and can therefore be prioritized. Apparently, there was plenty for all this time, but that may not always be so, and the elders will know how to best apportion. They are prepared to organize internal relief as was done in the 2nd chapter of Acts—coordinate members sharing with members—so that nobody is overlooked. In this case, the aid came from outside—a provision of Caesar (probably not replicated in too many of his domains)—and all there was to do was to distribute it promptly. I am very grateful to the government that is attentive to physical needs. Nonetheless, much of it would fall flat without proper expedition.

And Wilma says ‘Who needs organization?’ Is she nuts? This is why you need it. This is where, not only it is needed, but you draw yourself as close to it as possible so that there will be no question that you are a part of it. You become one of the embers that knows enough to pull toward the main fire so as to remain an ember. You don’t pull away from the fire so that, in time, nobody, including yourself, really knows if you are an ember or not.

“Be sure to tune in to the WomanfromtheHills broadcast at 2 PM on Facebook for a discussion which will be the same as last week's discussion—how my rivals are doing it all wrong and I can do better. Oh—and are you physically hungry? I think there is a government center somewhere in your area where they are handing out food. Get in queue. The line is only two hours in the sun. It may be that you will get some produce before it wilts and you can still be back in time to hear my address on how the Great Eight are good for nothing.”

D9DBAAC8-8048-4155-A68F-A199F39464CA

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Slow Joe and the Pork Chop Preachers

Slow Joe used to refer to the semi-grifter preachers who set up storefront churches as ‘pork chop preachers.’ They preached just enough to keep themselves in pork chops. There was no particular opinion as to whether they were sincere or not but the inference was that they knew just enough of the Bible to buy their daily pork chop and no more.

He tended to move slow, though he could move fast. He tended to speak slow, but any inference that he was slow-witted would be wrong. Rather, he spoke slow so that every word he said would land with the blow of a hammer if he wanted it too, which he frequently did. His voice was very deep and very stern. He would, back in the day, call on young people even though they had not raised their hands—I have never known anyone else so bold and oblivious to normal human decorum to do this. Children were afraid of him, unless they loved him, as many did. The ones who endured later came to reminisce on him fondly. Not a few adults were afraid of him, as well. Surely there were some who must have told him off.

Slow Joe went all the way back to representing Jehovah during the days of World War II. Many of our people were accosted by mobs during that time. A few died. Many were beaten up, some tarred and feathered, or forced to drink castor oil. Countless numbers were tossed into prison, sometimes without charge—their neutrality made them simply too contemptible in popular opinion during those nationalistic times to be afforded the normal rights that would be accorded everyone else.

There is a stereotype of Witnesses ‘turning the other cheek’ and being mild mannered no matter what the ordeal. It probably is true with most, but it wasn’t with Slow Joe; he was not averse to defending himself with fists. “We use to stack em up like cordwood,” he would say of certain ones who came out to attack, though it was not easy to draw this remark from him.

Through chance and unforeseen circumstances many years later, I found myself a new and very green elder in a congregation that didn’t have too much more in the way of experience. Only one other elder could be described as all-around and experienced—there were several others but they were all hobbled in some manner. “Maybe be can raid that other congregation—they have plenty of elders—and draft Slow Joe,” I said to the co-elder.

We arranged to meet with him. Slow Joe sat there scowling, seemingly, as he ever seemed to, but he was a good man—we knew it and he knew that we knew it. He said that he would think about it. A week later he showed up at the meeting with his wife. He didn’t say a word to us, chatted with some of the friends afterwards, and left. Later, the other elder and I emptied the contribution box and found his Publisher Record Cards. “I guess we have his answer,” that brother said to me.

I am very grateful to Slow Joe. He didn’t have to come. He was old by then, could easily have gone into cruise mode, and no one would have thought any the less of him for it. And he did bring a wealth of experience. “Brothers, I think we’re going about this all wrong,” he said at a certain elder’s meeting where we were going about something all wrong. Then he set us on a way that worked out better. Moreover, Black Mack, another extremely experienced man, joined the congregation shortly thereafter—I think Slow Joe recruited him.

Black Mack had equal stature with Joe—he had long served as an elder but he wasn’t one at the time. He was even separated from his wife, and I surmise that both circumstances were essentially the result of his rigidity and unwillingness to yield to which way the wind was blowing. He thrived in the new atmosphere, in time resolved all problems, and was again appointed an elder. If I recall correctly, he groused over having to  go through the stages of ministerial servant first, since he had not forgotten the spiritual things that he once had as an elder—he wanted to skip that step—he was deleted as an elder, he should be ‘reinstated’ as an elder, he thought. “Look, just do it, won’t you?” someone said. “It’s how we do things. Yield for once in your life and it will all be well.” And it was.

Soon afterwards Davey the Kid came along, straight out of Bethel, a phenomenally talented ‘people person’ whose every touch turned something into gold. He talked his way immediately into some hot-shot job but quit when his new employer wouldn’t grant him time off for the convention. “They’re just like the Russians,” he told me, ‘crying that they aren’t doing this and they can’t do that, when all the time they are churning out weapons to beat the band.”

Having quit, he had to do something to support himself and growing family, now including an infant son. So he walked into the eight-story Medical Arts building to secure the janitorial contract. The manager showed him around, noted a few special challenges, but then allowed that he himself didn’t know much about cleaning. “That makes two of us!” Davie told me he thought at the time, as he wowed the other with pure chutzpah. “It’s my gift,” he told me. “They never say no.”

It was all good training for me. I had prayed for experienced help ‘tending to Jehovah’s sheep’ and in short order three three titans came along. I even called them ‘titans’ in the final chapter of ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’ I related the time—it was real and I was there—when Davey the Kid gave his first student talk in the congregation before Slow Joe, the School conductor. With only mild exaggeration on both sides, I wrote that never in his life had Davey the Kid not been awarded a G following a talk (it stood for ‘good’) and never in his life had Slow Joe awarded one. I dramatized it for all I was worth and put it in a setting of the old West. I spoke of the climactic moment when ‘you could hear a pin drop.’ Solely because I like to play with words and images, I substituted that ‘you could hear a plane drop.’ Laura, who reviewed parts of the manuscript prior to self-publishing—Laura, who know nothing of the background, suggested that my substitution didn’t make any sense. What was I to tell her—that it did?

 

 

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Frankie - Does This Car Have...a Radio?

Frankie's new SUV has the works - every sort of connectivity, safety, and convenience feature - and the brothers are all oohing and ahhing over it.

Me, I check to see a car has a steering wheel and a gas pedal. Whatever else it does or does not have - get used to it!

So when I climb into his car I gasp in astonishment at all it can do. "Frankie, does this car have a radio?" I ask, in mock incredulity. But Frankie is cool and he knows how to play along. "Nah, it doesn't have one of those," he says.

Range rover

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