Will the Real Greg Stafford Please Stand Up? - Part 2

Did you tell him that? [that if he is going to ‘defend’ Jehovah’s Witnesses, he should not just hammer away at doctrine]

No. His name came up yesterday in this thread or another ongoing one. It was many years that I emailed him to ask if he was actually a Witness, and he said then that he was and in good standing. I’ve no idea whether that is still the case.

His answer is different from mine when the malcontents on Twitter keep asking me whether I am a Witness or not, and I answer with “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.”

People are incredible. They think that they can slam you anonymously—and all that you stand for—and then expect you to be forthcoming with personal details whenever they request. “You yourself are saying it” is another answer that works well. 

They have pretty well decided that I am not a Witness, due to their own paranoia that if a Witness so much as strays one inch from “orders,” he is immediately drawn and quartered. I have said such things as: 

“I asked a similar question about the liar who represented himself on Twitter as Geoffrey Jackson (and Anthony Morris): ‘Is he really a Witness?’ It seemed like it should have been a very easy question to answer. So I asked him. He said that he was!”

and

If you go online to flame them, [JWs] while still claiming to be a Witness, you may have trouble. Drop the claim, and you can flame them all you want.

If you explode in rage at counsel not to get into cat fights, you may have trouble.

But if you write a book letting the air out of their complaints, will you? Time will tell.

Do you really truly in your paranoid heart of hearts, think that nobody knows of the book—when you are the first to decry them for sticking their nose everywhere?”

At such times, I link to the book, TrueTom vs the Apostates!”

The book itself alludes a few times to the question, such as:

And now I must face the music from my own side, and there may be some. His continual taunts at being “not allowed” were surely overdone, and it must have made him feel a little silly when I kept coming nonetheless, until he felt compelled to “not allow” me himself. Still, nobody here thinks it is the bee’s knees to engage with these characters, and I may hear about it. And they could be right. Maybe I am the yo-yo on the Jerusalem wall singing out just when Hezekiah is telling the troops to zip it. But I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The Witness organization cannot be expected to defend itself on social media, if on any media. It takes the scriptural view of Jesus at Matthew 11, noting that grumblers slam him no matter what he does, before finally saying, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ “wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” It is like David who kept mum as ‘all day long they muttered against him.’ ‘It is like the plowman who knows that if you look behind while plowing, the furrows get all flaky.’ They don’t do it. The common view of opposers is that the Witness headship is telling members what to do, while it cynically manipulates all from above. That view is wrong. They practice what they preach and they do it themselves. The organization headship cites Hebrews 13:7 about ‘imitating the faith of those who are taking the lead among you.’ They don’t go on social media at all. They prefer a less raucous channel, and content themselves with news releases at the website that inform but do not kick back at the critics.

It is scriptural. It is proper. But there is a downside. By staying mum on specifics, essentially our enemies get to define us to the news media who refer to a cover statement about “abhorring child abuse” as “boiler-plate” and then go to former members who will eagerly fill their ears with accounts that we could counter by adding context but don’t. What’s a reporter to do? He goes to who fills his ears.

It will fall upon the Witness journalist to do it, if it is to be done, and there aren’t many of them. If fourteen years of blogging, not shying from controversial things, does not qualify me to take a shot at it, what does? If you are in a spiritual paradise, or even a vacation paradise, you do not have to concern yourself with removing the trash. It may be even dangerous to do so, because there is broken glass and used syringes. It’s not for everyone, and maybe for no one. But I thought I’d give it a go, and I at last got under this fellow’s skin, the big baby.

This was in the chapter ‘Banned From the Apostate Website!”

Of course, I am using Greg as a pretext to launch my own diatribe. I have no idea of where he is now (as I didn’t then), or whether he is friend or foe. Hope he doesn’t mind. Most authors enjoy publicity—almost any publicity will do, and mine of him is not bad. It is merely inconclusive.

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Skirmish #885531 “If You Are Going to Engage With Opposers on Social Media....”

Don't get me wrong. I'm not judging. God does that to all of us. What I do is give an honest observation (assessment) on the behavior of others.

You don’t even know that the people you are arguing with are sane. You don’t even know for sure that they are people. Maybe they are bots like those the Russians supposedly employed on social media, so as to get people enraged at each other and then they could say “See how much better our form of government is? We don’t have these kinds of lunatics running around in the wild.”

If you are going to engage with opposers on social media, there are a few points to keep in mind.

1.) you probably shouldn’t. It is not for nothing that the Witness organization is guided by Matthew 11: 19, effectively “they take shots at you no matter what you do so pay them no mind—just put the pedal to the metal.

Continue reading "Skirmish #885531 “If You Are Going to Engage With Opposers on Social Media....”" »

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The Avatars of Second Life - Also First and Third

I came across a person through reading who spent all his time playing Second Life. It is a popular online game in which a player, represented by an avatar, interacts with other players who are represented by their avatars. There are hundreds of thousands of players of this game, and together they make up an online world, which they may occupy more than the real world. You can do everything in Second Life that you can in the real world, and a lot more, since you are unrestrained by inconveniences as family responsibilities, financial hardship, health or age infirmities, physical distance, or social inhibition. It is a dinosaur of a game in digital life—its heyday is past—but it is still played by many.

The man featured in the article I read was almost sixty years old. He discovered Second Life while recuperating from surgery. He plays it virtually every waking moment—as many as fourteen hours a day, said the article—pausing only for bathroom breaks. His avatar is a twenty-something muscular hunk, a vicarious representation of his actual sixty-year-old self. He develops shopping malls and creates designer clothes (in real life, the sixty-year-old works at a help desk). He is idolized by all his employees and when he logs on after a long absence, his workers all welcome him back and earnestly inquire as to his health. (I haven’t yet figured out why anyone would play Second Life and be an employee rather than a boss.) He has an online wife, a pretty avatar he met some time ago. They set up house, they work together, shop together, and do everything a married couple might be expected to do. In real life, he’s never met the woman and has no intention of doing so. In Second Life, they are inseparable.

Now, this fellow has a wife in the real world, and she’s not happy. “Leave this loser,” her kids urge her. It is the second marriage for both of them. But she sticks with her man, if he can really be called hers. He is a good man at heart, she maintains, who has been sucked into an online addiction. Someday he will wake to find he has squandered his whole life in a make-believe world. She brings him breakfast while he’s tapping away at the keyboard. Hours later she returns. “You didn’t touch your breakfast,” she says. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t notice it.” (This writer’s wife would dump his breakfast over his head at this point.)

Imagine—an online world so engrossing that some prefer it to the real world! Next to Second Life, Risk and Monopoly are mere—well, board games. Yet without too great a leap in creative thinking, one may view this life as though it were a second life, which would relegate the online Second Life to Third Life. For the Bible makes clear that this life is not the “true” life. Sickness and death are not part of God’s purpose for humankind. Rather, everlasting life is. An earth brought close to ruin by human activity is likewise not his purpose; a paradise earth, much like the Eden of Genesis, which literally means ‘garden,’ or ‘paradise,’ is. Neither is happiness marred by evil and suffering part of God’s purpose, but instead unsullied life under Kingdom rule is. We limp along as best we can in this system of things. Some find success and overcome obstacles better than others, but in the end, there is little difference between us. A mere few decades pass and all of us are senile and in diapers, en route to the grave. That is why Paul encouraged Timothy to: “Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.”

How meaningful can life be in a system where ISIS, dementia, cancer, or simple human greed can snuff it out in a second? “Sayonara!” your longtime employer sings out, as he packs up for overseas. “Dust off that resume, why don’t you?  And those family and financial obligations you have? Fugedaboudit!” It is as Solomon says: he has seen footmen on horses and princes slogging through the mud. It is certainly possible to get satisfaction from life today, and most have to some degree. But many find it is like chomping down hard on cotton candy. Though it looked substantial, they ultimately find that there was never much there.

How short-sighted to throw off restraint and run to a place where no one can tell you what to do. There is nothing to stop one from doing so, but it’s a poor trade-off over the ‘restrictions’ of a godly life, which amount to little more than guardrails on a treacherous highway. Manipulation through human scheming in the form of Big Government, Big Business or contemporary philosophy ultimately take a toll far greater than any restrictions of the Christian life.

There is some basis in viewing this life, uncertain in every aspect except its ultimate end, as a Second Life, and your real self as an avatar. And perhaps some advantage. The joys of this life one can experience fully, if the character of our article is any guide. But the hardships that this life throws at you, things not within your power to fix, you may be better able to handle with an “aw hell, it’s just an avatar” attitude, which will be good for mental health. Like any board game or online game, this life comes to an end. You may have hotels on every square or you may go directly to jail—‘Do not pass Go’—but the game does end decisively for all. The true life, however, does not. Jehovah’s Witnesses live as happily as they can manage in this life. But it is the true life to which they look forward.

From the book Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia

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He Has Blocked Me. I Think That Says it All

Mark is still carrying on about efforts of congregation elders to meet with him, and broadcasting it to everyone under the sun, (they certainly have been determined, assuming his account is accurate, which I have no reason to question), so I put together a few tweets for the sake of perspective:

It was once the most non-controversial thing in the world for one holding authority to request, even summon to, a meeting—be it teacher/student, coach/athlete, union steward/member, team leader/team, and countless others scenarios. JWs are undeniably a religion...1/4

that recognizes authority, which everyone knew from Day 1. Until relatively recently, all religions recognized some governing authority. This is no more than an attempt to eviscerate religion into an ineffectual movement of feel-good sloganeering. If one...2/4

hasn’t formally withdrawn membership, one naturally is still regarded as a member. If one aligns oneself with those calling the faith “cult” day and night, one must not be flabbergasted at an allegation of “causing divisions.” Having said that, nobody can say that these...3/4

ones have not been...um...thorough in their efforts to meet. We, and they, will see how it plays out....4/4

but when I sought to append it, not for his sake, but for the sake of those he advertises to - lo! I am blocked.

I have never blocked anyone in my life (one I did block, but then unblocked). That is not to say I would not do it if need be. I came pretty close with one opposer who expressed herself by tweeting a couple photos of an erect penis, but I figured correctly that it would stop & be quickly buried.

This is so like this group to plead with PIMIs to engage with them, yet as soon as one does, out he goes with the trash. What they want is ones inexperienced with social media that they can score easy points with, and most of our people are.

I have never done more than counter his view. Never abusively. Never accusingly. (Never much, either. Have I even tweeted him except for yesterday?) Even with Lloyd I have rarely been short, though I’ve had a torrent of abuse from him. I think blocking under such circumstances says it all. They like their own voice. They don’t like those of others,  and more importantly, they don’t want that voice to be heard.

See the ebook TrueTom vs the Apostates!

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Tweetstorm Over the Atlantic

Two or three days after the Atlantic storm I set my toe gingerly in the water with the following, expressed in the Twitterese language:

TTH: 1 Not reporting: bad

2 Covering up: badbad

3 Committing: badbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbad

 JW leader yes on 1. Court said yes on 2. No on 3

 Elsewhere with leaders, ‘Yes on 3’ is the pattern.

 That is the difference.

 It can also be seen as reinterpretation of law after the fact.

I mean, somewhere along the line, when the dust finally settles, someone will note that whereas Jehovah’s Witness elders are accused of covering up child sexual abuse, their counterparts elsewhere, whether in religious organizations or not, are accused of committing it. With the child sexual abuse rate of Witness leadership so low, it is hardly likely that the rate of regular members will be disproportionately high. If it is painted that way, then the perpetrator rate of general society will be astronomical. Of course, we see that that is the case, and it is almost that you cannot throw a stone in any direction without hitting a half dozen molesters.

My tweet was not taken lying down.

TYT: Keep telling yourself that Tom.  And keep diluting the issue.  Let’s stick to WT, as uncomfortable as that is for u.  The crimes of other companies has no bearing on the crimes of completely different companies.

But I told him that “diluting” was permissible because nothing is done in a vacuum. Though “critical thinking” may object to “raising a straw man,” a more reasonable generation ages ago once thought it axiomatic to always consider context.

A few others:

TTH: The 5/19 WT (study edition) removes all doubt (call it reform) that anyone who knows anything about a CSA incident has every right to go to authorities & doing so brings no reproach on congregation. Therefore, ‘2 witness’ is irrelevant. It is internal only.

However:

TYT: That’s hilarious how “apostates” had to move the curtain to reveal what was going on.  This would have gone on for eternity.  It still will.  This is lip service.  Still no apology for 1006 Aussies.  Refuse to participate in Say Sorry campaign down under.

He had a point. Why not acknowledge it?

TTH: It would be silly to deny what is said about apostates removing the curtain. Everything in life is action/ reaction. No different here. As changes are made, like that 5/19 WT, to remedy what they have spotlighted, one wonders if their opposition will lessen or intensify

But with one caveat:

TTH: The Aussie apology offered was rejected by victims as ‘too little too late’ & victims have also been very disappointed by the extremely low remedial rate of those who SAID they would abide by it. They have promised much in cooperation & delivered very little.

Someone else tweeted: Dude.  It’s a mind control group that claims it is God’s channel, as every fundamentalist group on Earth does. Shunning in groups is used for info control n nothing more.  hence, that’s the difference w/ whatever other CSA example u use.  At least u can leave and keep ur family.

TTH: There is a component to what you say. One should not deny that. However, it is also not the complete picture. And I appended what I felt was more of a complete picture.

 

The most abusive of the major players is Lloyd, though perhaps that is because we have already crossed paths enough for me to consider him my nemesis. He is certainly not the most abusive of the minor players. One of the Redditt latter said: “F**k you! Call me:” and then supplied phone and email. “It is not as though you have given me fine incentive to do so,” I replied. Did he seriously expect a response? What is it with these characters? One thing that will be said of my remarks is that I do not run anyone into the ground, I do not call anyone a liar, nor do I call anyone I disagree with a “disgusting human being,” as Lloyd does with me in a heartbeat.

TTH: It is the common mark of a zealot to demand full agreement in every particular and denounce anything falling short of that as evidence of “a disgusting human being.” It is common practice for such a one to slash & burn, while offering nothing in replacement.

LE: Tom, you stood up for Rutherford over his vile antisemitism, so it’s no surprise to see you standing up for written, documented policies that put children within reach of the most depraved of humanity. You are an utter disgrace. Thankfully, nobody’s listening to you.

TTH: It’s a little too soon to tell who is listening. You will probably never know, nor will I. There are many people in the world. They form & change points of view as new things comes to their attention. Nobody turns on a dime.

LE: As obnoxious as Tom’s sniveling apologetics for antisemitism and the cover-up of abuse may be, laced as they are with dishonesty, cowardice & a total abandonment of logic &  humanity, it’s hard not to pity him. He’s a boy in a man’s body trying to feel important.

He raised the antisemitism charge several times, apparently thinking that it got under my skin. It refers to a letter Rutherford wrote in 1933 to an infant Nazi government in which he assured them that Witnesses were apolitical and not a threat. He did not avoid derogatory stereotypes of the day regarding Jews. This was long before anything of the Holocaust took shape, and a former director of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, Rabbi Michael Barenbaum, has declared it insignificant to the overall picture.

TTH: Aside from those minor points I am actually very likable. And [I finally indulged myself] the anti-semitism charge is drivel, you infantile idiot.

I noticed some tweets had vanished and I am unaccustomed to seeing this:

LE: Ste blocked you due to realizing what I’ve known all along: that you’re disingenuous & bereft of reason & humanity. I’m entertained by you, which is why I’m not blocking you. Ste thought he could persuade you and has better uses for his time and indulging your brain farts.

Hmm. Could that be? Nah:

TTH: I didn’t come after him. In no way was I a troll. I have never had to block anyone in my life, even if they were not “entertaining.” No, I think it is for my first reason. [that he had tagged some journalists and now he didn’t want them to see answers to charges he had made]

But Lloyd told me that Ste blocked me because I was odious and that he “has the right to manage his social media experience,” as though his Twitter feed was an artistic tapestry that would hang from his living room wall for posterity.

TTH: Demonization & abuse of the ideological enemy happens everywhere. It is played out in many areas, most notably today (but not limited to) national politics of right vs left. It is a good thing to follow these other concerns, both sides, for it enables one to see the overall picture.

LE: Again, I’m not demonizing you. I’m merely giving you a rare dose of reality. You’re little more than an anomaly lurking in the Twitter shadows terrified of going public lest your elders give you a spanking in the back room. It bothers me not whether you wit or carry on, because—follows a gif of a Spongebob character: “Nobody cares!”

If there is one common thread in all of our interactions, it was that I was scared to go on his podcast (he taking for granted that it was a high privilege) for fear that I was “not allowed” and congregation elders would beat me. I think the goal was for me to think: “Oh yeah?? Well, they’re not telling ME what to do! What time is this podcast!”

TTH: I would say that writing two free books IS going public. The pen is mightier than the podcast, especially when the host of that podcast has an affinity for taunting gifs. I mean, how far is one going to get on such a podcast?

LE: As you know, the podcast invitation has long since been withdrawn now that I know how disingenuous and morally-bankrupt you are. And it’s cute that you think the public are remotely interested in your e-books, one of which lauds you as the self-proclaimed vanquisher of apostates.

Just how stupid does he think his followers are? He worked tirelessly to get me on his podcast and was as nice as pie until it finally dawned upon him that I was not going to take the bait. That invitation would reappear in two seconds if he thought that I would now accept it. He lives to shred those he opposes, and his followers both know and relish it.

After an interval, when he thought my back was turned (but it wasn’t) he tweeted to a chum:

LE: I love your ability to see the best in people but Tom’s not really a nice guy IRL or elsewhere. If you’re a “nice” JW and you discover Rutherford’s antisemitism, you keep quiet and chalk it down to human imperfection. Tom, on the other hand, defends & minimizes it. Nasty

sigh…

TTH: You blockhead. It’s the same thing! “Human imperfection” WAS my defense! What! One should be crucified for human imperfection?

Don’t misunderstand. I didn’t knock the ball out of the park. I think it is pretty clearly demonstrated that he can be a nasty piece of work, but that does not mean more will not side with him then with me, for the topic is nasty, the article is actually well-done, and the figures within are portrayed as ones who have suffered mightily in their unrelenting quest of whistleblowing. That sort of thing plays well today. Besides, he had already clearly shown his bullying tactics when he tweet-bombarded certain woman’s groups for 52 straight days with requests that they should denounce Watchtower for some counsel to women that he found disagreeable. He even kept hammering them after one of them said: ‘We’ll look into it.’ He even kept hammering after I appended my tweet to his: “It’s as though Lloyd says: G*d****t, ANSWER me when I’m talking to you!!” But he has tons of followers. There is considerable infighting in that community and I suspect his side puts up with his swaggering because he gets the job done.

No, I didn’t hit any grand slam home runs. On the other hand, I didn’t tell myself that I was going to. I simply appeared to present a contrasting take. Otherwise, the take is monolithic, and it is presented over and over and over again.

See: Child Sexual Abuse Storm On the 'Atlantic'    and/or

Lessens to be Learned

Included in the eBook; TrueTom vs the Apostates!


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