My Meeting Notes, Week of 2/18/24–Psalms 8-10, Acts 6

“When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, The moon and the stars that you have prepared, What is mortal man that you keep him in mind, And a son of man that you take care of him? You made him a little lower than godlike ones, And you crowned him with glory and splendor. You gave him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put everything under his feet:” (Psalm 8:3-6)

It is a good, appreciative, attitude for life, much better than ‘We pulled ourselves up from our own bootstraps!’ evolution.

Metaphorically, you can probably use it even if you do believe in evolution. After all, it is only ‘origin of life’ [happenstance or created?] at which one must absolutely draw the line. Should developing life incorporate elements of evolution, we can all live with that. Let scientists be scientists and Bible students be Bible students.

The psalmist’s attitude is harder to pull off if you are undergoing Job-like trials. Then again, such an attitude might better enable one to endure them while they last.


***When the nations get too big for their pants, which they are wont to do, the psalmist says,

“Rise up, O Jehovah! Do not let mortal man prevail. May the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with fear, O Jehovah, Let the nations know that they are only mortal men.” (9:19-


***His eyes are watching for an unfortunate victim. He waits in his hiding place like a lion in its lair. He waits to seize the helpless one. . . . The victim is crushed and brought down.” (Psalm 10:8-10)

I don’t know anyone like this. Even of the mechanic who billed me for a new carburetor on my Tesla I didn’t go that far.

The whole psalm is about how the wicked one shakes you like a dog with a rat. This may be why Rosie said when she first read the psalms as a young girl, “Man, this guy sure whines a lot!” 

Could you apply it to machinations of humans, be they political parties, governments, or powers transcending governments who push schemes, sometimes will full knowledge they are making you trouble, doing so for their idea of the ‘greater good.’ That scenario fits the tone of the psalm. It’s not for nothing that the Bible likens governments to ‘the heavens.’ They drench you one moment, scorch you the next, freeze you after that, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Verses like #4 suggest it’s the atheists up to no good: “In his haughtiness, the wicked man makes no investigation; All his thoughts are: “There is no God.’” But other verses are to the effect that they acknowledge God but count him as a non-factor: “He says in his heart: “God has forgotten. He has turned away his face. He never notices.” (vs 11)

Besides, here’s a commentator (in connection with ‘the senseless one who says in his heart ‘there is no Jehovah’) who says there were no atheists back then, at least not enough to single out as a class: “It never occurred to any writer of the OT [Hebrew Scriptures] to prove or argue the existence of God. . . .It is not according to the spirit of the ancient world in general to deny the existence of God, or to use arguments to prove it. The belief was one natural to the human mind and common to all men.” Dr. James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible.

It matters little to say there is a God. What matters is what attributes you assign him. We diss the ancient peoples who worshipped different gods, but when people hold to radically different views of God, is it not in effect different gods they speak of? Just like you mention Oscar Oxgoad and I say ‘I know that guy!’ But further discussion reveals the attributes and physical qualities don’t line up, so you say, ‘Oh, I guess I don’t know him after all. It’s two people who share the same name.’

Who are these characters that assign him whatever attributes they find convenient? I’ll take the overall lesson of the psalm. They’re cocky as all get-out, but God will set matters straight—an underlying theme of the Bible. Humans insist upon self-rule, the underlying Genesis message of knowing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ God says, ‘Don’t try it—you’ll mess it all up.’ They do so anyway. God says, ‘Alright, I allot you such-and-such an amount of time to make good on your claim. When the time is up, we’ll see what kind of a world you’ve made.’

“[The wicked one] says in his heart: ‘I will never be shaken; For generation after generation I will never see calamity.’” (vs 6)

What says the psalmist of God? “Rise up, O Jehovah. O God, lift up your hand. . . . you do see trouble and distress. You look on and take matters in hand. To you the unfortunate victim turns. . . . Break the arm of the wicked and evil man, So that when you search for his wickedness, You will find it no more.” (vs 12-15)


***This is from the previous week, but the idea had to gel and be prompted by a question on Quora:

Q (from Quora): Its odd that 1 out of 9 men in the governing body is a person of color. How does that reflect their constituents?

A: 100% of the American presidency was a person of color for 8 years running. Did that result in a country where blacks and whites get along seamlessly, as with JWs? Pew Research reports that [in the United States] the makeup of Jehovah’s Witnesses is almost exactly 1/3 white, 1/3 black, 1/3 Hispanic, with about 5% Asian, mirroring the national population quite well. It is the biblical values taught that count, not the people who serve as placeholders. One should go for substance, rather than symbolism. As the stats show, Witnesses have all but solved racism.

It is pretty much as in Acts 6, when “the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution,” necessary because an annual pilgrimage for the Pentecost celebration unexpectedly turned into an extended stay with the formation of the Christian congregation. The apostles jumped on the problem right away, selecting “seven reputable men . . . full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary matter.”

Five of the seven are Greek, judging by their names. (vs 5). Good. The Greek names would build confidence among the Greek persons who were agrieved, no doubt. But the apostles saw no need to change their own makeup, incorporating some Greeks among themselves. It’s the same with the Governing Body themselves. With Branches, the governing arrangements start out heavily foreign but as locals advance spiritually a greater load shifts to them, very much like the appointment of the Greek speaking disciples.


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Racism: For Jehovah’s Witnesses It’s a Yawner—Lessons from Pew Reseach.

“Among the least educated of religious groups, Jehovah's Witnesses are. Would you say that's a good trait of theirs?” It was a missive from Vic Vomodog!

He had just read the latest Pew Research survey. Note how his remark just takes for granted that the more university education one has, the better off one is. Is such an assumption justified? Given the fact that the leaders and influencers of the world are almost always bristling with degrees, yet look at the overall obscene mess the globe is in today, perhaps a dearth of such degrees is not the detriment he thinks it is.

81455175-82BE-4031-ADE4-01C7639EBF5CEducation is at its best when it includes some moral training, yet the secular stuff almost never does. In fact, it cannot, for there is no agreement on what that moral training should be.

It may well be a plus to lessen exposure to the type of education that stokes racism, or at any rate, produces very poor returns in combatting it. The line from the Pew Report that I like to focus on is, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in America. No more than four-in-ten members of the group belong to any one racial and ethnic background: 36% are white, 32% are Hispanic, 27% are black and 6% are another race or mixed race.”

Solving racism. What’s not to like? It’s a issue tearing the world apart. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s a yawner.

Didn’t Bro Morris say, ‘The more prestigious the university, the greater the contamination?’


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Why You Cannot Use the N-Word: Observations from ‘Kill ‘Em and Leave’ re James Brown

If you read James McBride and you are white, it may dawn on you why you cannot say the n-word and Blacks can—at least it did on this northern white boy as he was turning through the pages of ‘Kill em and Leave,’ a James Brown biography. They do it freely—at least some will. You cannot. ‘What gives with that?’ many a white person has said.

You’ll muck it up is why. It’s like the power saw your dad would use with ease but he wouldn’t let you touch it. It cuts unpredictably. He knew. You didn’t. He had experience you did not. So it is with the n-word. Best to just accept it as the way it is. Blacks can say it. You can’t. You haven’t had the same experiences as they. You’ll muck it up. They won’t.

It’s like when I called door to door and a woman told me to return at end of day if I could because her husband loved to talk Bible. So I did. The black man, just returned from work, still in his work clothes, ushered me into to his living room. Assorted Bibles and commentaries lined his bookcase. The man was instantly likable, a serious student of the Word who was not wound up too tight, did not embrace dogmatism, did not take himself too seriously, and had a kindly way about him—but that doesn’t mean he would be any pushover. Differences of interpretation soon emerged. He directed me to such and such a passage, but when it dawned on him that I meant to read it aloud, he exclaimed in mock-panic,  good-naturedly chuckling at his predicament, “No. Don’t you be the one to read it. You’ll muck it up!” He had intended to emphasize different words.

Same with the n-word. You’ll muck it up if you say it. They won’t. You won’t appreciate the James Brown who moves north “where the white man’s foot was off your neck” but later returns south where “I know who I’m dealing with.” It’s like when Leroy White raises his hand at the Watchtower study and unselfconsciously recalls before the 50/50 congregation when he was “working for the white man” back in Mississippi—naw, you won’t understand all the nuances, but it doesn’t matter to him.

Leroy White—the man who I hoped might give my funeral talk had he not pre-deceased me, because I knew it would be a beaut: “Hee-hee-hee—that Tom Harley was a good ‘ol boy,” he would boom in his deep voice, “but he’d deeaaad now—D-E-A-D!” Leroy White, who his son confirmed at his funeral, passed up an invitation to tour with B.B. King, because he knew it would be detrimental to family and spirituality—just like James Brown’s friend Leon didn’t know it but came to find out, thankfully in time to not derail his stable life. Leroy White, who would jam guitar with congregation brothers of both races young enough to be his grandchildren.

It’s also like when I worked in the ministry with Alma and she told me of her early days as a Witness. As a return visit was wrapping up, the householder asked if she would mind taking the trash to the curb on her way out. ‘Oh sure!’ she starts to bristle inside, ‘look right at me, the black woman, and ask me to take out the trash!’ Knowing she might explode, her white companion grabbed that trash and took off with it. ‘What would Jesus do?’ she said later.

‘I dunno,’ my wife said later at the nervy request. ‘It could have been that way but I can think of many clueless people asking it oblivious to racial concerns.’ That’s the trouble. You don’t know. The boorish white person who assigns a menial task to me, I don’t think of race for a second, but if I were black—then I would. I haven’t been there. That’s why I can’t say the n-word. Fortunately, I don’t feel a need to—notwithstanding how I feed my Civil War book into Word dictation and it stars out the n-word—not only the n-word, but also ‘Negro’—not only ‘Negro’ but also dix (Ft Dix), hooker (General Hooker), and Fanny (a once-common woman’s name. Political correctness anyone? Never mind if it thwarts comprehension. Blacks can say any of those words, including the n-word. But you cannot say the latter. You’ll muck it up.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have essentially solved racial prejudice. More than any other atmosphere I have even experienced, they have solved it—by instilling such passages as Acts 10:34-35, taking for granted the reality there taught: “At this Peter began to speak, and he said: ‘Now I truly understand that God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.’” It’s like when one of those Bethel brothers—I forget who—was chewed out by some social activist for not taking a more active role in social affairs. ‘Why should we?’ he retorted. ‘We have solved most of the problems that you are yet grappling with. Why should we trade the superior for the inferior?’

But it’s not perfect. In the all-white suburbs you might find a youngster uttering something none to racially sensitive, particularly if they heard such remarks in a religiously divided home. They wouldn’t say it in front of my daughter, however.

“Dad, it’s not like I remember you ever giving any speeches about it,” she said. “It’s just in how you treated people—you treated everyone the same.” When told her friends in those all-white suburbs would caution each other not to inadvertently say anything derogative because Robin was particularly sensitive to it, she’d erupt, ‘Forget me! What about Jehovah?!”

I’d like to say it’s due to my training as a Witness. And I’m sure it is. 9A4D2315-12A8-4168-9870-43CA68334840But it is also no doubt due to my being the grand nephew (through marriage) to the black heavyweight fighter Joe Jennette—the fighter who routinely fought Jack Johnson until the latter captured the formerly-reserved-for-whites World Heavyweight Title, and thereafter he also would not face black opponents. Doubtless due to my folks witnessing his troubles—the mixed marriage made our entire extended family “the disgrace of the neighborhood,” said my dad—I grew up in a home where prejudicial remarks were never heard. I was slow to imagine that any white family might be different. 

Joe even has a chapter named after him in ‘Go Where Tom Goes.’ I had gone to Union City, to spy out his old gym and three apartments, which during the depression once housed all my relatives. It still stands. But nobody was home as I knocked on all the doors. The Joe Jennette plaque was encased in an opaque stainless steel box, probably to protect against vandalism. The street crossing guard just a few yards from me knew nothing of the building’s history nor Joe.

Even the white police detective with a side interest in boxing, the one who wrote about Joe Jennette, was nowhere to be found. I roamed the area and in time spotted his name, Joe Botti, on a plaque for the ‘Union City Boxing Club’ affixed to the police station. But when I made to enter the police station, a huge building that seemed to comprise an entire city block, I found it was abandoned and locked. Down the street, however, was a ‘Police Command Station’ trailer. I opened the door, expecting a lobby area, and instead found myself interrupting a three-person conference in a tiny room

With some embarrassment, I asked about Botti. ‘Oh, he retired ages ago,’ one of the officers told me. ‘Sometimes the guys stop in to visit after they retire, but we don’t see him at all,’ a circumstance he allowed might have something to do with the fellow’s contented life and a new girlfriend. As to the police station, “the city condemned that long ago. That’s why were here in this trailer.”

I read Botti’s book, parts of it. It delves into my great uncle’s boxing life in commendable detail, and his personal life as well—but it makes the odd blunder of writing as though it were Joe himself writing in the first person. My cousin, the family historian, says she isn’t crazy about the book. It puts all sorts of progressive words in his mouth that don’t ring true to those few still alive who knew him. “Unkie would never had said that!” my cousin fumes.

That’s why Joe Botti also should not say the n-word. He too, will muck it up. Even writing in what he thinks is a supportive stance, he’ll muck it up.


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'