The Memorial Speaker vs the Theologians

Somewhat better than the secular atheistic-leaning theologians are the ones from a believing background. But considerably worse are those from a fundamentalist background gone ‘scholarly.’ Mercifully, there are not many of them because Bart Ehrman is more than enough, thank you very much. He goes on and on about how Christians in the first century did this or that “because they didn’t want to go to hell.” Sometimes I call him “the Bible thumper who became a theologian but you can still see the Bible thumper in the theologian.” I far prefer some egghead professor discarding anything suggesting divine action because ‘critical thinking’ doesn’t allow that than Bart also discarding and justifying it as a departure from the unreasonable doctrines that because they are unreasonable does not infest the teachings of the secular scholars in the first place. 

He is also the only theologian I would characterize as a “smart-ass theologian.” Hear him go on about the “seven last expressions of Christ on the cross.” (there are that many phrases if you count up the gospels.) It never occurs to him to reconcile them. He takes for granted that since Jesus’ words from one gospel do not appear in another that the writers just interjected whatever words fit their own ‘theologies’ with the conclusion that there’s no way to know just what Jesus said and maybe he didn’t say anything other than ‘ouch.’

Whereas the Memorial speaker last night—I have never heard anyone combine the words this way—stated Jesus’ words at Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then continued to Luke 23:46, “And Jesus called out with a loud voice and said: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” At first glance, these two verses don’t reconcile very well. Would you entrust your spirit to someone who had forsaken you? Then the speaker went on to reconcile them. The withdrawal of spirit (forsaking) was so that Jesus would face the final test of integrity without God’s finger on the scales. One unaided perfect man (Adam) rebelled against God. Another unaided perfect man (Jesus) proves loyal to God. The counterbalance is complete.

That Jesus absorbed this, accepted it, and perhaps figured it out is evident in the saying found in Luke’s gospel, “into your hands I entrust my spirit.” His love for God was such that, even unaided by God’s spirit, he would prove loyal to the end. 

The speaker reconciled the two. Why doesn’t Bart do it? Why don’t any of them do it? The tricky reconciliation is only possible to someone who has an overall grasp not just of scripture but of the main theme of the scriptures. The secular scholarly theologians don’t have that. They haven’t a clue as to the overall theme of the Bible and appear to assume there isn’t any, that it is just a religious hodgepodge of individual ‘theologiies’ competing to outdo each other. 

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Tweeting the Meeting: April 4, 2022

Remember when you were young and used to record the ballgames, says the #publictalk speaker, and would play them back even if you afterward had heard the final score. B322D8D9-7223-4EF3-951C-184C34EADBEEHe likened that situation to when people uneasily enter the tribulation but it helps they know the final score.

The angel that ‘strengthened’ Jesus in Gethsemane immediately after prayer, that he hadn’t seen in 33 years—what do you suppose they talked about? posed the speaker.

Speaker calls ‘ridiculous’ that saying that ‘experience is the best teacher.’ Is it? The ‘best?’ You may learn the lesson but get bruised in the process since it puts the test before the lesson. Anyone care to take the test in school before the lesson?

Ha! Speaker compares those who say ‘As long as I am a member of a religion [referring to ours] I am okay’ to those who think ‘As long as I have a bank account, I am rich.’

Now the departing CO fesses up that when assigned our circuit 4 years ago, he and his wife didn’t want to come. They loved their prior circuit. But ‘Jehovah fooled us’ he says, and now we have become his ‘Covid circuit’ and he and his wife our ‘Covid CO couple.’

 

#watchtowerstudy Do You Trust in Jehovah’s Way of Doing Things?“The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness who is never unjust; righteous and upright is he.”​—DEUT. 32:4.

Para 2: Judas maybe thought he and God were tight—he afterward went to the chief priests, after all—it this character claiming to be the ‘messiah’ he had an issue with

Para 5–Yeah, that picture of the guy with fogged-up glasses works pretty well in this age of masks

Para 14: Flee to the mountains. Which mountains? There were many mountains, one bro says. Apparently Jehovah used appointed men at the time to provide specifics. (Luke 21: 20-21)

Para 18: Inconveniences at first in the new system, like in the Sinai wilds. Regarding the LDC bro in our congregation, I said he’ll probably make us live in dormitories.

 

Trying to figure what to do with this gem from the weekly Bible reading. There has to be a perfect application somewhere, but I just haven’t yet hit on it? Any suggestions?  You see that this man is crazy! Why bring him to me?  Do I have a shortage of crazy men that I need to have this one acting crazy before me? Should this man enter my house?” (1 Samuel 21:14-15)

“What can we learn from David’s actions?” asks the #midweekmeeting. That you can’t go wrong playing the crazy card. …2/2

Jonathan had children the same age as David, age, skin color, nationality “not barriers for us—they’re bridges,” says the speaker, commenting on 30-year age difference between Jonathan and David. …1/2

Saul to Jonathan (the bro summarizes): “What’s wrong with you? Are you stupid? This kid is going to take your throne,” ( Samuel 20:30)…2/2

“Maybe you’ve been passed over for a privilege. Some bros call it ‘passover season.” Hmm. This bro is a little quirky, but he can turn a phrase.

“And all those who were in trouble and in debt and who had a grievance gathered to him, and [David] became their chief. There were about 400 men with him.” (2 Samuel 22:2) Thus collects Robin Hood his band of merry men.

We live in a world where everyone says, it’s not my fault. Unexpected change, therefore, when David says “I am personally responsible for the death of everyone in your father’s house” due to an incautious action of his. (2 Samuel 22:22)

Ooh ooh. I got to say my modification of Romans 3:4, “Every man online is a liar,” after they played that ‘Be Social Network Smart’ youth video. https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/teenagers/whiteboard-animations/social-network-smart/

 

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Bonzo Territory

The account at 1 Samuel 10:1-16 and 1 Samuel 19:19-24 on the goings on of prophets—both of these are weird. It isn’t easy to find material that explains it well….

unless we enter Bonzo territory.

Bonzo is an elder who follows me on social media so I try to make it worth his while by occasionally referring to him as “the worst speaker in the circuit, possibly the world.” Not to worry. He is actually a pretty good speaker and, as to my playful jabs, he says ‘keep them coming.’ He is not otherwise a large consumer of social media. Mostly he chimes in about golf.

Bonzo offered the best take on the golden piles from 1 Samual 6 that I have heard yet. Making the axis lords send golden images of their piles is just the ultimate example of Jehovah doing something “in style”—the ultimate humiliation of those who resolutely put their trust in false gods:

So they asked: “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They said… ‘You should make images of your piles and images of your mice that are bringing the land to ruin, and you should honor the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten the weight of his hand that is on you and your god and your land.” (6:4-5)

With that as complementary backdrop, I posed: “The question is whether he, with such a grasp of biblical realism, will begin ‘behaving as a prophet’ after consideration of 1 Samuel 19:24”. That’s the verse about Saul taking off all his clothes. I watched Bonzo carefully during that Zoom meeting and he commendably refrained from that course, unless it happened when he turned his video off.

It is he, too, who framed David and Saul’s little spat as a function of currying favor with the ladies. “The women would come out from all the cities of Israel  [all the women—“not just his mom and sisters,” he said] with song and dances to meet King Saul with tambourines, with rejoicing, and with lutes.  [They] would sing: “Saul has struck down his thousands, And David his tens of thousands.”  Saul became very angry, and this song displeased him…. (1 Samuel 18:7-8) 

This is why every time I see a Philistine, I beat him up. I do it only to impress the ladies. If it worked then it should work now—just like it did for Will Smith.

And Bonzo showed proper appreciation for this gem I tweeted about, a verse that I’d love to see featured, rather than some superfluous thing about fitting angels on a pinhead:

At that Saul said…‘The king does not want any bride price except 100 foreskins of the Phi·lisʹtines, to take revenge on the enemies of the king.’ (1 Samuel 18:25)  WHAT?!…..1/3

Not to be too crude here, but this was a common way of verifying kills during battle, so as not to be suckered by tall tales of braggarts  and to safeguard against ‘cheating’ by killing women.  (not recommended today. Just snap a battlefield photo with your smartphone).. 2/3

No, I didn’t say this at the meeting……3/3

This verse led to some discussion, someone posing the question of just what would you do with such a gift. I assigned that topic to him as personal research. To another who carried on about the bother of circumcising  a dead man, I said I suspected taking the foreskin was a colloquialism for taking their whole you-know-what, a derisive reference to how none of them were circumscised, something very important to a Jew. The Egyptians used to lop off right hands to verify their kills. Easier to get at, I suppose, but taking more space, and maybe after they rot in the sack for a few days it becomes hard to distinguish the right from a left hand (allowing someone to report two kills when there was only one) or making it hard to distinguish from that of a woman.

I then lovingly and considerately added: “I hope you’re not eating lunch just now.”

I’m not really sure about the purpose of the 100 foreskins. I’m extrapolating from Bob Brier’s lecture series on Egyptology in which he points out that Egypt was “a nation of accountants” that kept track of everything, including kills of the enemy which they verified by collecting right hands.

Charles Israel, who wrote the book Rizpah, misses that nuance entirely, and just writes about the obscenity of Saul’s request. Rizpah was one of Saul’s concubines. She is mentioned only twice in scripture, but because I had previously read that work of historical fiction, I knew all about her when she came up in the rotation, much to the surprise of my offspring. That book works from the same set of facts as the Bible, yet manages to paint Saul as the wronged hero and David the ambitious upstart, his “treachery” covered up by “lying scribes.” I was surprised at how easy it was to do, and by extension, how any tale can be told from a different point of view. Rizpah being Saul’s concubine, she is not overly disposed to be kind towards David.

Alas, the way we insist upon sanitizing everything, when she came up in the Bible gems she was lauded for her great love of God’s law, beating away the birds and critters so they wouldn’t devour the corpses of her dead impaled sons, as though absent God’s law, she wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.

Then [Saul] handed them over to the Gibʹe·on·ites, and they hung their dead bodies on the mountain before Jehovah. All seven of them died together; they were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the start of the barley harvest. Then Rizʹpah the daughter of Aʹiah took sackcloth and spread it out on the rock from the start of harvest until rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies; she did not allow the birds of the heavens to land on them by day nor the wild beasts of the field to come near by night. (2 Samuel 21:9-10)

They were her sons. She probably went mad.

 

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 28, 2022

Where can you find real hope?’ is the title of the #publictalk today. This one is uniform, given to all congregations through local or visiting speakers. The speaker explains early he will address three questions: ….1/2

1) Why so much suffering today?

2)What hope does the Bible give?

3) Why can the Bible’s hope be trusted?….2/2

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but through the one who subjected it, on the basis of hope,” he develops the thought from Romans 8:20 starting with who was the one who did the subjecting.

“We don’t need you, we can rule ourselves, we’re better off on our own,” he how the speaker quantifies that early Genesis scene. “God gave them what they asked for,” he adds, with a future reconciliation at hand when “creation itself will be set free.”

“For centuries human governments have tried to make the car run on water, so to speak,” he says, referring back to a previous illustration.

 

#watchtowerstudy today is ‘Make “the Best Use of Your Time”“ Theme scripture: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, making the best use of your time.”​—EPH. 5:15, 16.

Para 2: Good. The Zoom tie-in works seamlessly. You just can’t see the commenter—that’s all.

Para 3 “It is not good to eat too much honey,” says the proverb, I was brought up in a household where all-evening watching TV might easily take place. When rec has assumed such prominance, it may seem crazy to dial it back, but you sure gain time if you do.

Para 5: one sis likens something or other to “trying to buy a house while it’s on fire.”

Para 8: all good suggestions on finding a quiet place to pray. Alas, when I was in my twenties, i got it in my head that I could pray while driving—it’s kind of an automatic activity, but I almost got into a accident. ‘Forget that!” I said, and never did it again.

Para 10: one bro mentions Jesus kindness in that he didn’t say: “Great. Now when I really need you, THIS is what you do?!” He came pretty close: “Could you not so much as keep on the watch for one hour with me?” though allowed, “The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41)

 

 

 

Para 13: “Before assemblies and conventions, we are often told to adjust our electronic devices to a setting that will not disturb others.” I never knew how to do that and just relied on the fact that no one wanted to talk to me. ….1/2

Scammers do, though. They should just say, ‘Put it in airplane mode.”….2/2

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“We’re back and so is George,” says the conductor about the bro who never comments without inserting a pun or similar joke—and just did so.

Para 18: I like that this writer is called an “anxious man.” I guess he was: “You hold my eyelids open; [he can’t sleep] I am agitated and cannot speak.” Psalm 77;4 There’s anxious people today. It’s good to see someone in scripture they can identify with.

“When David and the others would return from striking down the Phi·lisʹtines, the women would come out from all the cities of Israel with song and dances” (1 Samuel 18:6) #midweekmeeting….1/2

Not just his mom and sisters, the speaker says, but all the women of the land. More popular with the ladies than Saul, he was…..2/2

“The women who were celebrating would sing: “Saul has struck down his thousands, And David his tens of thousands.”  Saul became very angry, and this song displeased him.” (1 Samuel 18:6)

Upstaged by an underling. I mean, who doesn’t want accolades from the women?

 

At that Saul said…‘The king does not want any bride price except 100 foreskins of the Phi·lisʹtines, to take revenge on the enemies of the king.’ (1 Samuel 18:25)

WHAT?!…..1/3

Not to be too crude here, but this was a common way of verifying kills during battle, so as not to be suckered by tall tales of braggarts  and to safeguard against ‘cheating’ by killing women.  (not recommended today. Just snap a battlefield photo with your smartphone).. 2/3

No, I didn’t say this at the meeting……3/3

(Bonzo put it the best I have heard. Making the axis lords send golden images of their piles is just the ultimate example of Jehovah doing something “in style”—the ultimate humiliation of those who resolutely put their trust in false gods. (1 Samuel 6:4)….1/2

The question is whether he, with such a grasp of biblical realism, will begin ‘behaving as a prophet’ after consideration of 1 Samuel 19:24…..2/2

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The First Physical Meeting in Two Years

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about returning to the Hall. I’m starting to get up there in years. Zoom is convenient. You don’t have to travel. You don’t have to worry about the attire of your lower half. 

But no sooner did I walk through the door than I knew it was the right move. Our attendance was very solid and enthusiasm ran high. The hybrid Zoom tie-in was seamless. 

The speaker read that familiar passage of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Though he did not dwell on “not open to any agreement,” it resonated with me. There is scarcely any point today, no matter how trivial, that people to not debate over and even argue to the nth degree. I can see why some avoid the news, though I am not one of them. It’s exhausting. 

It was so refreshing being in that Hall where not a trace of that contentious spirit was to be found. It is not even that everyone agrees—they just know enough how to yield and not to squabble. Given the state of Covid in our community today, I personally think the strong mask recommendation is a bit dumb. But the majority apparently does not feel that way. I’ve been asked to wear one, so I do. It’s not that big of a deal.

Of course, given the size of the crowd I did begin to think maybe its not such a bad idea after all. I have not been in such close proximity to large groups of people in two years.

I also wasn’t sure how easy it would be to avoid handshakes. I like not having been sick in two years and I had resolved not to do it. But some in-your-face people are very insistent and the alternative elbow bump just seems too stupid to initiate. But it fact, a forearm glance proved pretty easy to do. Some shook hands with others. Some didn’t. It wasn’t any big deal.

Alas, not all is peachy. I did see something to complain about. The speaker played a two-three minute video, and afterwards everyone clapped!

I’m not playing this game anymore. I know how it starts . Someone well-respected thinks it is fine to “show appreciation.” He claps and others follow suit. People usually follow suit. I know this from the rare occasions that the music was not cued up and the attending servant can’t find it. If I knew the tune, I’d just belt it out. You’re only out there a split second or two before others follow suit. (It’s an unsettling split second, though—what if they don’t?)

In the past I’ve given two or three half-hearted claps. No more. It’s silly. The video doesn’t know you’re clapping for it. We don’t clap every time some gives a demonstration on the platform. The Watchtower reader doesn’t earn an applause. It is enough to applaud the speaker, for that is customary and is the way things are done everywhere. 

I don’t squabble over such things but neither do I have to follow suit. It is sort of like when brothers approach stage by disappearing behind that quarter wall and then appearing again. That drives me nuts. Just walk up on the platform. Do it right, brothers!

Ah well. This is our version of problems. A bit less serious than those that hamstring the greater world, I think.

 

***The bookstore

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How Does it Work that ‘Jesus Died for Our Sins?’

One reason I became and remain a JW is the gift of explaining just how Christ’s death works. Everyone else must settle for a sloppy “Jesus died for our sins to show he loves us.” Pulls on the heartstrings, I guess, but it seems more than a little fuzzy intellectually. Only JWs (to my knowledge) can explain just how that death benefits us. It is right to highlight it:

https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/jesus-sacrifice-ransom/

Note how it all hinges on Adam. You can’t throw away Adam to chase after the evolutionists, tempting though that may be. Keep him as a metaphor if you absolutely must, but keep him. Maybe seeing how everything hangs together by keeping him will be enough to reconsider the “science” that says he is fairy tale.

I’m all for science. I really am. Pour me a double shot of it. E5BE6D8E-3D75-48C2-A2BD-A44A39B42FD3But it is supposed to serve us, rather than we serve it. I hope I can think a little out of the box when “science” says nothing remains beyond the grave. Why the “science” in italics? Because it remains a tool of discovery, a valuable tool indeed, but not the only tool, nor even the most important one.

Writing of certain branches of alternative medicine, Dr. McCabe states (roughly): “These methods, thousands of years old, are unproven by science not because they are untrue, but because of the limitations of science.” Exactly. When you can gather material into contrasting groups, the only difference between them being a single variable, and perform repeatable experiments upon those groups, science is at its best. Not all things lend themselves to such easy classification and repeatability. “Science” in the absence of such attributes becomes little more than speculation, hardly worth discarding the spiritual things which carry far greater benefit.

You don’t even have to toss out all that the evolutionists say. Let scientists be scientists and Bible students be Bible students. Micro-evolution, that essentially amounts to variation within a “kind?” Sure, why not? It is little different than animal husbandry, which people have known about for ages. Maybe you can even play with macro-evolution some. More dicey, but maybe some aspects of it can be accepted. But life arising from non-life, “abiogenesis” it is called? No.

Just make sure you keep Adam in the mix some way, some how, and you retain the key for unlocking just how Christ’s death works to save humankind.

 

***The bookstore

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 21, 2022

#publictalk: “How We Can Protect Ourselves from Satan’s Snares.”

“The fish sees the lure, but doesn’t see the hook, doesn’t see the line, doesn’t see the net, and certainly doesn’t see the skillet on your kitchen,” the speaker points out.

Understand Satan and ways better so we can protect ourselves, he says. Yes.

Some say devil created by God to balance universe? Instead, it works as Jas 1:14 says, each one is enticed by own desire, that desire when fertile leads to sin. That sequence happened to Satan, who really created himself, since name satan means adversary,,

“Any lure this system offers nothing but a cheap knock-off, it’s a farce,” says the speaker, as he goes on to focus on two “lures”—pride and greed. And after that, discussion of that suit of spiritual armor from Ephesians 6.

 

#watchtowerstudy today: “Why We Attend the Memorial.” Theme scripture: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”​—LUKE 22:19

Huh! Conductor was disconnected. Someone else had to introduce, now he is back. This kind of thing won’t happen starting next week.

Para 5: The hope of anointed is immediate, one bro says. If he dies, he is in the grave until the resurrection. For anointed to die in the Lord’s day, it is: “We will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye…1/2

during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up. (1 Cor 15:51-52)….2/2

Para 9-11: 3 paragraphs that open with scriptures. Zach 8:23  ‘ten men grab hold of skirt of a Jew,’ Ezekiel 37, ‘stick of Joseph and Ephraim united,’ Matthew 25:31-36, ‘other sheep supporting Christ’s brothers.

Para 14. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” It’s a good thing to be able to explain just how this works, involving corresponding ransom of perfect life

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Para 20: Okay, Zoom Memorials got the job done—we made it work—but real live in-person ones will be a welcome resumption of what is normal.

 

“And all those gathered here will know that it is not with the sword or the spear that Jehovah saves, for the battle belongs to Jehovah, and he will give all of you into our hand,” said David to Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:47) #midweekmeeting

The Philistine then said: “I do taunt the battle line of Israel this day. Give me a man, and let us fight it out!” (1 Samuel 17:10) Why do I think of Elon Musk just now, who challenged Putin to hand-to-hand combat with Ukraine as the prize? (Did you know that Joe Rogan offered to train him?)

Goliath wore more in armor than David probably weighed, one sis says, and yet David goes on and on about how he’s going to feed his flesh to the birds, etc, etc. Faith at work, she says.

“When his oldest brother Eliab heard him speak to the men, he became angry with David and said: “Why have you come down?… I well know your presumptuousness and the bad intentions of your heart; you came down just to see the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:28) ….1/2

Is this rush to judgment the heart God could see into but humans couldn’t?….2/2

“Jehovah eventually said to Samuel: “How long will you mourn for Saul now that I have rejected him from ruling as king over Israel? …go…I will send you to Jesʹse the Bethlehemite” (1 Samuel 17:1)   Look, the guy’s a loser. I’ve moved on. How about you?….1/2

I had the Bible reading tonight and tried to make that point stand out….2/2

The dog interrupts Zoom, barks it head off because deer are on the hill across the street. After a lull, it resumes barking, I look, and they are much closer. I expect him to look up again and find them inches away, staring directly into the window, as though in the Twilight Zone C22747F9-1B27-45FE-B15B-B94D397BF2F7

“I was horrified when several masked officers broke down the doors and burst into the home where the meeting was being held. Everything happened at once, loud sounds, noise, the order [for] everyone [to] sit on the floor.”…“I was overcome with fear when they put me in handcuffs place me in the police find and took me to jail.”…“I was afraid because I didn't know how long I would be there and what was awaiting me”…“I was mostly afraid about what I would face in prison, whom I would encounter, how to act,  how others would treat me—the unknown.”…“when one of the officers began to describe how bad life is behind bars I imagined that behind the officer stood an angel just like the one who supported Daniel in the illustration. this helped me to calm down not panic or be afraid. That's how jehovah supported me.”

“When you don't concentrate on yourself and focus on helping others fear disappears.”…“Something that helped me to cope with my fears is hope looking at the situation through Jehovah's eyes seeing what would happen next that this is not the end of the situation but only a difficult phase through which you can pass.”…“I understood that it was important to solve problems as they came up and not to be troubled by what might never happen.”

“Fear is interesting, fear can be inside a person and if someone is afraid that is not shameful but the question is can you overcome this fear can you get the fear under your control can you overcome the surge of negativity and when my heart swayed me to get scared next word to pray I pray to jehovah to give me courage and not be afraid of anyone or anything.”…“I still say to myself….do not fear anybody or anything except Jehovah.”

“I really appreciate your support very happy for all your latest thoughts from all your prayers I really appreciate it a lot I try to do my best and I try to search your home in the best way that I I will do that forever.”

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It’s so Hard to Dramatize Mildness

You don’t check with true believers for plaudits. They’ll praise anything. Nor do you check with your detractors. They’ll trash everything. You run it by people who are neutral. That’s why I loved this review of the Regional Convention.  The visitor is skeptical, but he’s open and fair. Of course, we would prefer that he fall on his face and say, “God is really among you people!” but you have to take what you can get.

Alas, he compared the Jonah presentation to a B movie from the Bible Channel! Them’s fighting words! I liked that video.

Strictly speaking, though, maybe B movie status is the best one can hope for. My unspoken fear is that the brothers do not go to all that trouble of recreating settings from antiquity and then undermine it by so-so acting. Great acting will overcome a minimalist setting—just witness any stage play, but the reverse is not true: Meticulous settings will not overcome wooden acting. It is encouraging to hear how actors are being selected from submitted auditions. I just worry that talent will be recognized when presented and not tamped down in an effort to make “mildness” come through. Sorry to say, some of our dramatized characters strike me as so “mild” as to be uninteresting. I get it that mildness is a fruitage of the spirit but I don’t want to see them so mild that I can’t picture them doing what the scriptures say they do. Even Jesus—I want to see him mild, sure, but I also want to see in him the man that nobody dares question after he shows enemies up as hypocrites, or the man who “passes through their midst” and nobody has the courage to interfere.

And nobody was able to say a word in reply to him, and from that day on, no one dared to question him any further. (Matthew 22:46)

…and they rose up and rushed him outside the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain on which their city had been built, in order to throw him down headlong. 30 But he went right through their midst and continued on his way. (Luke 4:29-30)

Now, no matter what comes out I’ll swoon in appreciation, don’t worry about that, but you really do take risks when you do video. You’re presenting to an audience accustomed to convincing actors, and you’d better measure up. Granted, you’re not going to produce Oscar-winning performances, but hopefully they will persuade more than the uncritical true believer. 

Over time, and with some wobbles, our performances have improved. We do get better. To some extent, “acting” is antithetical to Christians since it means presenting a false front, pretending to be what you are not. The early Christians (per secular historians) frowned upon it. More than frowned upon it—they thought it the work of the devil So almost by definition, we’re not particularly good at it, and of course the brothers also are limited by choosing those who are exemplary. It won’t do to have “Jesus” go apostate a few years down the road. We will accept in Hollywood entertainment that the movie hero may be a slimeball in real life but you can run theocracy that way.

Of course, the videos are also teaching vehicles. They are not simply entertainment in which Moses pops Pharaoh in the nose and gets the girl. 3A9ACEE4-2E93-4333-AC5E-53C138ACAA1D
Yet I know that young people will see our videos through the eyes of contemporary standards and are not so inclined to excuse unconvincing acting. Or even speaking. “Time does not permit…” one broadcast brother said. ‘Well it would if you’d pick up the pace a little.’ I muttered under my breath.

Alas, if you add any of the spice that makes speech and action interesting, it becomes a turn-off to someone of another culture and background where they just never behave that way. So the brothers take no chances. They avoid the pitfall altogether and trowel on dramatization unambiguous and unfettered with anything potentially offputting. It is a test for those used to fine writing and oratory to not be so full of themselves, dial back artistic considerations, accept that sometimes they will get plain vanilla, and deal with “just the facts, ma’am.” Ah, well—I’ve said of the highly educated ones that they came drop down a grade level or two if they are not too full of themselves. The world doesn’t revolve around them as they too often assume it does

Mildness, meekness—yes, they are qualities spoken of highly in the Bible. Yet they’re hard to dramatize. Take that kid in one of the monthly broadcasts who ran that lift equipment through the wall. “Brother Goofus,” his overseer gushes, “Are you alright?” Okay, so far so good. He would do that. Upon being assured the kid didn’t break his neck, the mild bro  says, “Do you have a moment to meet me in my office?”

Okay, got it. We’re mild. We’re loving. We don’t care about screwing up the project. We see only a teachable moment, and we see it immediately—nothing else enters into our mind. Far be it from us to pull that stunt of Paul and Barnabas and display a sharp outburst of anger. If those guys had been on site, we’d have invited them into our office too. 

A little bit more realism is what I’d love to see. And yet if it is done, someone will be stumbled by it. So we ladle out stuff so bland that it undercuts appreciation, and so unrealistic that the ne’er-do-wells frame it as cult-like. It’s kind a shame that you can’t show human imperfection in your heroes.                          

           

***The bookstore

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of March 14, 2022

#publictalk “Are you on the road to everlasting life?”

After outlining a fictional city where every driver makes up his own rules for driving, the speaker asks, “Would you want to drive in that city?”

 

#watchtowerstudy today: “Lessons We Can Learn From Jesus’ Tears.” Theme verse: “Jesus gave way to tears.”​—JOHN 11:35.

The newly associated person who has never commented before tells how he shed tears losing a cousin to a drunk driver.

Imagine. He knows he is going to solve the problem, and still “Jesus gave way to tears.” John 11:35

Para 9: To be frank, washing my car is not a task that would be concerned about one way or the other during grievous times, since I barely attend to it during good times. D8C2DF6F-AF5F-4B6A-8837-93FEE0881EEF

Para 9: Whoa. One sis tells how she is comforting a far-away woman, via frequent calls and texts, whose dad recently succumbed after many weeks of illness. I knew and much liked this fellow, worked closely with him at one point, but had long since lost track of him.

Para 9: Whoa. One sis tells how she is comforting a far-away woman, via frequent calls and texts, whose dad recently succumbed after many weeks of illness. I knew and much liked this fellow, worked closely with him at one point, but had long since lost track of him.

Para 10: The bro who we had over for a meal last night just commented and he said he thinks door-to-door will not return in this covid-conscious world. But I think he is all wet. There is barely any point to upcoming paragraphs in that event.

Footnote Para 12: “The Greek word rendered “neighbor” at Matthew 22:39 can include more than just those who live nearby [but] to anyone with whom a person interacts.’ All the same, in service I refrain from saying ‘We’re calling on our neighbors’ unless I actually live nearby.

Para 15: “It was during those difficult hours that Jesus ‘offered up supplications . . . with strong outcries and tears.’” (Heb. 5:7)  Who can’t identify? It’s easy to talk a good game from the comfort of our lounges.

Para 17: “That might be one rendering of it” says the Wt conductor after a sis gets the picture wrong. No, the guard is not bringing a form to sign involving guilt. He is bringing letters of encouragement.

The Wt study ends with a list of verses in which Jesus wept: John 11:35, Luke 19:21, Luke 22:44, and Hebrews 5:7:

“During his life on earth, Christ offered up supplications and also petitions, with strong outcries and tears, to the One who was able to save him out of death…”

 

Commenting on the cartoon mom reasoning with Caleb to lose the inappropriate toy, one bro says, “I would have just said, ‘That’s going in the trash!’” #midweekmeeting

This one I like: “So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer: “Come and let us cross over to the outpost of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps Jehovah will act in our behalf, for nothing can hinder Jehovah from saving by many or by few.” (1 Sam 14:6)

“But the men of Israel were hard-pressed on that day, for Saul had put the people under this oath: “Cursed is the man who eats any food before the evening and until I have taken vengeance on my enemies!” So [no one] ate any food.” (1 Sam 14:24)   Why would the blockhead do that?

Saul said: “Thus may God do and may he add to it if you do not die, Jonathan.”  But the people said to Saul: “Should Jonathan die….With that the people rescued Jonʹa·than, and he did not die. (1 Sam 14:44) Some days nothing goes right for a guy. Saul is having one of those days.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

No People Ever Lost their Liberties who had a Waterfall one Hundred and Fifty Feet High

If it is up to me, these words of Daniel Webster from a long ago visit to Rochester will grace a plaque at the [hopefully] upcoming High Falls State Park:

Men of Rochester, I am glad to see you, and I am glad to see your noble city. Gentlemen, I saw your Falls, which I am told are one hundred and fifty feet high. That is a very interesting fact. Gentlemen , Rome had her Cæsar, her Scipio, her Brutus, but Rome in her proudest days never had a waterfall one hundred and fifty feet high! Gentlemen, Greece had her Pericles, her Demosthenes, and her Socrates, but Greece in her palmiest days never had a waterfall one hundred and fifty feet high! Men of Rochester, go on. No people ever lost their liberties who had a water fall one hundred and fifty feet high!  (From the book “Rochester—a City Historical,” 1894)

Truncate it a little if need be. I mean, the guy’s a bit of a windbag. But that is what orators did back then in the days before microphones. Yes, and apparently he was told wrong. The falls today are 96 feet high.

A city should always make maximum use of its river area and Rochester doesn’t. This new park of 40 acres would change that. It is a long haul ahead, though. Lands involved “have been used for generations now, primarily for utility generation and they’re contaminated. So, we have to not only acquire them, but make sure the areas are clean and safe for public use.”

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(photo: New York Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department)

While a college student, I worked three summers for that utility, Rochester Gas and Electric. A summer job and I was happy to have it. One year I worked on the paint crew, one year in the gatehouse, and one year as a welder’s assistant. Some of the guys would mutter all day long about a certain boss known to spy from atop the Platt Street bridge with binoculars to make sure everyone was working.

Funding for the new park is murky. The governor pledges six million to kickstart it. It would be one great way to showcase the city.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)