Social Media and the Ministry


The internet is not exactly new, but social media in its present form is less than 20 years old. It’s like when some new invention comes along and the young latch right on to it. The oldsters say, “I lived with out is this long—how essential can it be?’

Challenges for the young? Nothing screams ‘Old People!’ more loudly than writing letters. It is hard to imagine a more contact-free form of witnessing, as though fishing with a 5-mile line. The only thing that might scream ‘Old People!’ louder is telephone calls. Young people will text to the cows come home but they don’t do phone calls.

I admit that I did little of either. Now that the pandemic is over, I am relieved of that ‘Crisis of Comfort’ and can revert to more people-friendly forms. Not that it was scaredy-cat for me. One brother said, ‘It’s not that I’m scared to do it. It’s that I’m scared of being ineffective.’

Exactly. When they urge me to ‘step out of my comfort zone,’ I reply that I am not necessarily comfortable even in my comfort zone. Yet here it had nothing to do with comfort zone. It had to do with considering oneself ineffective. I would sit down to write a letter and then it would occur to me that I could write something on the internet and get near-instant feedback. I would next think of phone calls, but be dissuaded by notion that if someone answered, my first thought would be, “What! Are you nuts?” Like many even of my age, and especially the young, you know that scammers will eat you alive if you pick up unidentified calls, and so you don’t do it. That’s not to say no good results were achieved in these ways. I know of several occasions in which they were—and in some strange way I can’t put my finger on, new ones attending the meetings is on the rise, at least where I am. But once again, it and letter-writing represent an ultra-cautious approach—contrary to the very spirit of young people, which is that of boldness.

Get them out door-to-door and get them out door-to-door when people are home. Don’t stuff them in cars for the driving ministry, focusing on calls that are not likely to be home. Alas, this recommendation is not as easy to pursue as before, since many oldsters have grown fond of the Zoom ministry. Nothing wrong with that—don’t think there is. But it does make it hard to guide the young people. ‘Your young men will present themselves like dewdrops,’ say the verse. ‘Welcome, dewdrop! Grab a pen. We’re writing letters today!’ I don’t think so. They don’t even teach cursive in many schools today, so archaic has it become.

And if social media has become their Athens marketplace, where people do nothing but listen to or tell of things new, don’t hold them back from going there if they want (subject to parental approval/supervision and all) out of fear that the apostate bogey man may appear, necessitating the Monty Python, “Run away! Run away!” Teach them how to handle that jerk if he does crash the party. Why should the entire internet be ceded to the Devil?

Social media is not everything, but neither is it nothing. It becomes the elephant in the room as we think about ways of contacting people. It’s not hard to envision why the earthly organization might worry about social media, not just on account of the bogey man, but also on account of when Witnesses do go online, they tend to be not very good at it. They’re prone to sending back and forth memes alternately syrupy and judgmental. No matter. Nobody’s good at things without training. Give them some.

One firebrand on Twitter says he is there to answer Bible questions. A quick look at those he follows reveals, veering little from recommendations, that they are all fellow Witnesses. ‘Um—they’re not likely to ask you Bible questions if they are Witnesses already,’ I tell him. But he’s convinced that somehow it will work out. And maybe it will. Sometimes letter and phone calls work out. But the spirit of young people is bold. They’re not given to hiding. They figure out tech in a heartbeat. I mean, when Elon Musk goes to hiring, he doesn’t say, ‘Check out the resume of that old fart Harley. Whoa! Look at this point. He knows how to insert the UBS code right side up! And he knows it’s hashtags, not crosstags’

It took me a while to know how to behave on social media. Nobody was there to train me. I probably trolled a bit more than was advisable. I even briefly locked horns with Nemo—my nickname for the virulent Witness apostate who later blew up his family by revealing a predilection for the lithe young prostitutes of Asia. I mean, if letter writing screams ‘Old People!’ is does not scream it nearly so loudly as his course screamed 2 Peter 2:19: “While they are promising them freedom, they themselves are slaves of corruption!” But he managed to blame his twisted tastes on his former religion—he was an expert at blaming others and even many of his former cohorts became fed up with him.

I’ve got that all out of my system now. Now I am ‘social network smart’ — the TrueTom way. Teach the young who want to use it how to use it. Many of them do it anyway—doing it furtively lest they trigger disapproval.  Teach them to do it right—sort of like cart work or like your physical presence in your physical neighborhood. There, you routinely come across people. You don’t witness to them with your every breath as you share whatever common interests you may have. But you establish yourself as an all-around good egg, a Jehovah’s Witness as it turns out, and once in a while you get to put in a good word for God. It’s not everything. But neither is cart work everything, nor informal witnessing, nor phone calls, nor letter writing. 

If you have a body of work, as I do, you link to it, along with a profile picture. If you don’t, you find some spiritual  ‘mission statement’ with which you can identify. Myself—I don’t link to on my profile page. I suspect they don’t want that, especially if you’re weird. The point is, you can establish yourself as both a neighbor and one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. ‘I decided to be very open about my faith,’ said the teenaged girl featured in the Convention video. ‘In time my classmates began approaching me with their problems.’

I torment the local stockbroker with pictures of Ramblers. It’s become a running joke. He has a classic car collection that he trots out for special events. Ramblers are the cars I grew up with. I envied classmates who tooled around in cars with fins on which you could impale a buffalo whereas I was stuck in a boxy toaster that got good gas mileage. Getting good gas mileage may be a virtue today, but only a wuss cared about it them.

’I dunno, Tom,’ he says, when I trot out a Rambler I came across in the country. image.jpeg

‘It looks in pretty good shape. If you must have a Rambler maybe you should snap this one up.’ I reply that it is indeed a little tempting, but the last thing I need is another hobby. Nor do I have the mechanical ability to keep it shipshape, nor the disposable income to hire it out.

I’ve never even breathed ‘God’ to this busy fellow, nor do I engage with him for that main objective. I exchange tweets with him because he’s an interesting guy. But at some point it is hard to believe he will not have checked out my profile and adjacent tweets in which I do weigh in on God. It’s not everything, but neither is it nothing—and will have made at least as much impression as passing a literature cart.

Others I have directly witnessed to, usually in incremental measure. Someone will say something about ‘what is the purpose’ of life,’ for example, and one can add a remark that is not too light and also not a sledge hammer. I’m not giving any Sermons on the Mount but there are countless people who know or have opportunity to know more of the faith by having come across my path. Periodically I will add new followers, usually those who have liked a prior remark, and delete some whom I follow, usually those who have not interacted. It’s almost like checking out a new territory.

Nobody taught me these things. I figured them out on my own and it took awhile. Sure enough, the bogey man does stop by now and again, but I’ve learned how to chase him off. 

I don’t know that it is something to encourage. I’m just don’t know why it should be so thoroughly discouraged as it is. Ever heard our people have a kind word for social media? Nor have I. It could be all Gehenna would break out were our youths to swarm there. You might have to train them to interact, not especially a slam-dunk because our own adults don’t interact much. Alas, all Gehenna breaks out anyway. Might as well break it our way. Give the dewdrops something to do in accord with their interests and abilities. 

Everything is cool. Counsel is good. Go here. Watch out for that. It all works. But things that are done need not necessarily be done to the nth degree. Sometimes the nth degree works out to be the course of wisdom. Sometimes it backfires on you. 


***  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'

One Fine Day on Social Media Getting My Head Handed to Me on a Platter

“Should I be concerned that my first instinct when someone rings the doorbell is to pretend I'm not home?” someone said over Twitter. Within the thread were assorted GIFs, such as the one with the woman inside the refrigerator, pulling the door shut. 

Me, I just like to help: “Of course not,” I replied. “Sudden appearance of someone you don’t know is always a cause for concern. Just watch out that the yapping dog at the window doesn’t give you away continually looking back as though to say, ‘Well? Why don’t you answer?’”

I should have left it at that. But I took on another tweet in the thread:

“I feel like this is the result of boomer parents drilling into their millennial children that all strangers will murder you and you’re never to answer the door or the phone when home alone. Ever,” a woman said.

Tommy, shut up. You know you should shut up. Don’t say what I did: 

Yeah. It’s like when teens came to the door and I showed the ‘Be Social Media Smart’ video. Then on a return visit, mom appeared, I said she was the one I’d been looking for, and she said I shouldn’t talk to her kids. Well—I specifically asked them if they thought their parents would care—people are different—and they had said no. ‘Kids will say anything,’ the woman told me.

Be Social Media Smart is innocuous. Few would be anything but supportive of it, pulling out their hair as they do about kids’ online activity.

Uh oh: “The fact that you don’t see anything wrong with being a grown ass man having a conversation with children and showing them religious material without their parents present is exactly why millennials grew up not trusting men who knock on their door.” 

Caution: Disagreement ahead vs ‘children vs teens,’ also ‘religious material vs PSA:’

The teens answered the door. I wasn’t looking for them. I asked for the parents who weren’t there. The material I showed, after asking if folks would object, was perfectly innocuous, not preachy in anyway, and I have never known any parent, religious or not, to oppose it….1/2

The fact is, in two or three years, those kids will be in the workworld, in college, maybe the military, where they will meet many a situation more ‘threatening’ than there encountered. Not all parents want their teens to hide. Most realize they will soon enough face the world….2/2

“You didn’t know what that parent wanted because they weren’t present for you to ask. So instead of leaving and coming back later, you, an adult man, continue to speak to children at the door of their own home when their parents weren’t available.”

The video is essentially a PSA announcement, hard to believe it would get someone’s dander up so. Were the teens to resume watching TV/internet, they’d see many far more objectionable things. But I’ve no quarrel with you, nor your family rules & would never violate whatever rules you have laid down, or that your teens, were I to encounter them, would tell me about.

“You could have been going door to door to show them episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The problem is that you didn’t leave once the kids said their parents weren’t available. As the adult it’s on you to disengage when the parents aren’t present, but you didn’t.”

Best drop it at this point. You often have to let people get the last word, unless you want to be drawn into a thread that may never end. I even had to look up what Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood was and I was a little concerned it might be some pervert video or other, but it was just an example of an innocuous and virtuous video for small children. (whereas we were talking teens)

Still, I gotta say, it’s not the most comfortable spot to be in. Does it make me rethink? Times have changed. Best not be a dinosaur when the meteorite hits. Best not think of how it used to be. Think of how it is now. I’m not even sure ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ works anymore, and—let us be honest—even if it does, am I one of that village?

It is a pretty rare scenario in these parts but it does happen. You never press any teen, but is it the rule now that you don’t talk to them at all? I certain youngster I chatted with briefly, he being the only one home and assuring me nobody cared if he exchanged a word or two with a visitor. Upon leaving, there was his mom driving up the driveway. “I asked your son a couple of questions and he answered intelligently,” I told her. “You should be proud of him.”

Several years ago—what, maybe 20–I worked door to door with Elena, newly arrived from South America. A child answered the door—this time it was a child, not a teen. I handed a tract with instructions to give it to her parent. As we walked away, Elena said, ‘I would have witnessed to her.’

Of course. She wouldn’t do it today. But where she came from, it was quite common for Witnesses to speak with children. Parents had no problem with it, and in fact, many were quite pleased that some would be learning the Bible. But something even then told me we’re not in San Kansas anymore. No way in Western lands do I ever speak with a child so young other than a ‘give this to your mom’ kind of thing.

And here I was speaking to Davey-the-Kid about the difference in kids. Youngsters in the Latin American countries take on responsibilities early and thus mature early, whereas in the States there are 30-years olds as silly as adolescents.

***And—best not ignore the elephant in the room. The reason parents are on hair trigger alert more than even 20 years ago is the fear of pedophiles. Nobody is above suspicion. Just last month a pedophile school principle, who called children into his office to sit on his lap, was sentenced to prison. Call it another sign of the times.

From Tom Irregardless and Me:

“For example, a former coach of youth sports, Bob Cook wrote: “The most upsetting thing about many child-protection rules is they assume any adult is capable of doing something bad. If you think of yourself as a good person, and the people around you as good people, you can’t help but be taken aback. You can’t help but think a wall has been put between yourself, the children you coach, and the families you deal with. It’s a wall that seems patently ridiculous when, in the case of the Catholics involved in my Virtus meeting, were tight-knit, south side Chicago parishes where families had known each other for

No sense fighting it. You’d better adapt. ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.’

******  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'

Witnesses on Social Media

If not much is said in Witness land against social media, nothing is said in support of it. So what little is said against is magnified. Intentionally or not? Who can say? Funny how some things can be said 100 times and it will barely be noticed; others just two or three times and it is magnified as though on one of Moses’ two tablets.

There is a KM that said, “It is not necessary for brothers to host their own websites.” I pondered that one and concluded, “Well, I never said mine was necessary. It’s just me pursuing a hobby.”

“Some indiscreet brothers” are setting up shop on the internet, another KM said. They are, I agreed, and I try not to be one of them—and wrote as much in Tom Irregardless and Me.

More recently was their counsel not to post copyrighted material on social media. A variety of scenarios was described, really everything except just plain linking to it.* So some take it a step further and figure you can’t link to it either, especially since linking software will often fetch a preview picture—even though the ‘Fair Use’ clause on copyright law has long recognized that issue and has imprecisely ruled on it.

The concern expressed was copyright and legal matters—items that do not apply to just plain linking. HQ originates the “spiritual food.” It makes sense to me that they should oversee its distribution. I already wasn’t doing any of the other bad things mentioned, things such as posting artwork and so forth. “That which is not expressly permitted is forbidden!” Vic Vomodog used to mutter. Alas, there do appear to be ones who look at the faith that way.

I like to think that Bethel itself in aggregate does not—‘in aggregate,’ because it is made of myriad individuals, some of whom may look at things that way. But one can entertain the view that the final output does not. Rather, they encounter problems when people speak in their name on social media, and so they say, ‘okay, don’t do it this way,’ and ‘don’t do it that way.’ They lay down bouys so one may regard them as such and chart a course through them. ‘Good counsel,’ I say. ‘I’ll make sure not to do that dumb thing.’

Thing is, there are indiscreet brothers. There are those short on proper presentation. I can easily picture Bethel, observing the cat fight that is religionists bickering over social media, saying ‘Oh, man—we want no part of that!’ It’s a point of view easily imagined. But there is omnipresent training to commit less faux pas in the in-person witnessing. Over time it takes hold, especially if one is not overly fussy in judging results. Could the same be done regarding mass media?

Set up a personal presence online that corresponds to your physical presence in your own neighborhood.


Chat on many topics, as you would in your physical neighborhood, and once in a while you get to bring God into the picture. Of course, in order to do this you must follow or friend or comment upon the contribution of those other than Witnesses. Those already leery of social media will not in the main go there.

(Photo: Pixabay)

Nah—no one thinks social media is the bee’s knees. Still, when companies have some fantastic product to advertise (and who has something more fantastic than kingdom good news?) the very first thing they do is to plan a campaign on social media to ‘advertise, advertise, advertise, the product and its maker.’

The shepherd is cautious by nature. It is suspicious of anything new, lest it be a ploy of the devil or a component of the fence that he owns. A friend of mine, 20 years older than myself, regarded skateboards as a sure sign of decadence when he first laid eyes on one. Nothing is new under the sun. They did it in the first century too. They called Peter into the back room:

“So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, the [supporters] of circumcision began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them. At this Peter commenced and went on to explain the particulars . . . Now when they heard these things, they acquiesced . . .”  (Acts 11: 2, 18)

Every once in a while—every exceedingly rare once in a while—the brothers acquiesce and say, ‘Oh. Well, I guess we can live with that. Maybe it’s even a good thing.’

*“These Terms clearly say that no one is allowed to ‘post artwork, electronic publications, trademarks, music, photos, videos, or articles from this website on the Internet (any website, file-sharing site, video-sharing site, or social network).’ Why are these rules necessary?”

Probably because miscreants come along, take the own material out of context, put it in a new malicious context, and beat them over the head with it.


******  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'

The ‘Sister’ who Trades Bit Coin.

Maria followed me on Twitter one fine day and she was drop-dead gorgeous. No, I did not follow her back for that reason. Trust me on this: drop dead gorgeous women throw themselves at me all the time; it is a great nuisance because all I want to do is think about God.

In fact, I didn’t follow her back at all, not even for the reassuring profile photo she displayed, consisting solely of “Jehovah” in gold-embossed letters. However, I did scroll her timeline and found a suitable place to leave a comment. She soon replied that she had just texted me.

Sorry, I told her, I don’t do DM. I stay on the public side of Twitter. “Why?” she wanted to know. “Because if I do so I am immersed in dozens of private chats and I can’t keep up,” said I. She responded that, in that case, I could contact her on WhatsApp. I didn’t reply to that one.

Next thing you know she has disappeared and all her notifications with her! I searched out her username: “Account suspended for violation of Twitter rules.” Hmm. I searched for the name on Facebook. It links to a certain bit-coin trader, also drop-dead gorgeous.

No, Maria, my dear, I have all the bit-coin I need, thank you very much—even though you are drop-dead gorgeous, even though your profile does say ‘Jehovah’ so I know you are one of us, probably belonging to the congregation right next door. I’ve no doubt she has a separate profile that says Jesus, another that says Buddha, Dagon, Moroni, Baal, and a dozen others.

It is called ‘Affinity Fraud,’ winning someone’s confidence through feigned common roots. It factors into the making of E.T—The Sequel, a movie you may not have seen. In the original, cute, adorable, toddler E.T. charms all who are pure enough to let him into their hearts. But in E.T.—the Sequel, he returns as a surly teenager. He curses, spits, brawls, swears, and in the end destroys the earth with his white-hot power beam, starting with Wall Street.

Steven Spielberg, the movie’s creator, had just lost an ever-loving fortune to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Both were Jews. Virtually all of Madoff’s victims were Jews. It was affinity fraud. Not that Maria’s scheme is a fraud, necessarily, but her means of contact certainly was. She’s probably not even drop-dead gorgeous. She’s probably an old hen. And even if she is not, so what? Is not Mrs. Harley also drop-dead gorgeous?


******  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'

From the Last Time I Tried to Give Up Blogging

Allen Adhominem, the former JW who bills himself now as a ‘critical thinker,’ posted his helpful chart of who was who in the world of apologists. He is the one who dove into the university, and the instant he received his PhD, he billed himself as Dr. Adhominem. These days, he calls his former brothers ‘cult members.’ “Excuse me for not having a PhD in whatever hogwash your PhD is in,” someone uncharitably said, and he didn’t use the word ‘hogwash.’

How irrelevant his chart is! The only chart that counts is this updated organizational chart of apologists and allies, including a few who went bad, such as Vic Vomodog, Sam Sowmire, and Ida Ho, the latter who became quite immoral—she never was that way in the faith. Even this updated chart is in need of an update; it does not reflect the recent nefarious deeds of Larsen Ahithorolf.


It is not necessary for brothers to blog! Oscar Oxgoad told me, based upon something he read somewhere. Well, I never said my blog was necessary—it’s just me doing a hobby.

Some indiscreet brothers are on the internet! he rebounded. They are, I said, but I try not to be one of them.

That last time I tried to give up blogging—it went well for half a day, but then it was (Sung to the tune of ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face):

“Dam, Dam, Dam Dam!* I’ve Grown Accustomed to my face. It almost makes the day begin.”

“I’m very grateful that this venue is so easy to forget. Rather like a habit one can always BREEAAAK . . . and yet….I’ve grown accustomed to my voice being always in the air, accustomed to my — face.”

*Spelled the friendly and wise (all beavers are graduates of Dam U) beaver way. I don’t want to hear from any language police.


******  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'

“A Man Can Only Stand So Much Religion”—the Social Media Conundrum

One of the most uncouth persons I have known, long since deceased, obviously not a pillar, though a brother accepted by all—that’s what I like about Witnesses, if you love God and conform to a reasonable degree to group norms, you are accepted—offered me his advice that, “A man can only stand so much religion!” I never thought I’d make use of that ‘gem,’ but here arises an opportunity.

The problem with social media is that if I clog up my feed with one controversial subject, the neighbors start to complain. So I respond on my own blog, where people can visit or not as interested. Among those who follow me on social media are some who don’t care about religion one way or the other—and it is not the only interest I have—so I don’t want to deluge them in religious disputes. It is the same thing with anyone’s personal trials. Put them somewhere that people can read or not as their interest holds. It started with OJ (Simpson), I think: the world has devolved into a place where everyone feels an obligation to monitor the trials of everyone else. Plainly, human finiteness makes that course impracticable. Plus, though the squeaky wheel may get the oil, if you convey the notion that there are nothing but squeaky wheels, you have not represented truth well. So I put my response here instead:

***As regards cross and Christmas [a topic that had come up with a certain one airing beefs], everyone knows Witnesses once did these things. At any rate, they make no effort to hide it. As with any subject anywhere, as they learned, they adapted. They correspond to Phillip asking ‘Do you know what you are reading?’ the answer to which was ‘How could I ever do so without someone to guide me?’ (Acts 8:31-32) Most people believe cross and Christmas to this day.

Without the work the Witness organization did, I would still be bamboozled over trinity, fretting over heaven & hell, wondering why God permits evil, wondering whether the kingdom means anything more than ‘being good,’ etc. They gain from me a certain loyalty on that account, flawed though they may be due to being human. Nobody else assumed that detailed work of  illumination. 

Pray to God for relief and he says, ‘I have people to handle that.’ Tell him that some of those people are a bit rough,’ and he says, ‘Well, you’re no creampuff yourself—do you have any idea how much you try me? You’ll just have to work it out somehow.’ Isn’t that the meaning of the Matthew 18 slave who was forgiven much yet would not forgive his fellow slave? There is a certain mindset that says the Witness headship should be an like an infallible pope, an exact replica of Jesus, only in the flesh. I’ve never looked upon it that way. I think few do—though some have, and they respond not well to evidence of imperfection.

Like any system of justice, congregation justice can misfire. It is, after all, a function of humans. At it’s worst, it is far less egregious than secular justice misfiring; secular justice entails physical incarceration and sometimes directly puts people to death. Still, ones have been wronged by congregation justice, sometimes exacerbated by their response to it, sometimes not, and a pent-up desire for ‘payback’ emerges. It’s not hard to understand why. My hopes are that the overall preaching and teaching work is not thwarted by infighting among those of age and stature, thus pleasing those who hate the Bible’s guts, those who say ‘the sooner it disappears the better.’ I suspect God will be less interested in who was right and who was wrong than in, ‘Were those who claim to be Mine able to unite and get my work done?’ “If these ones remain silent,” Jesus said, “the stones would cry out!” but they will have a hard time doing that while flying through the air as projectiles by persons insistent on having their own way.


***I keep a certain distance even from friends on social media. People change. If someone was to be disfellowshipped, would they tell me? If I were to be, would I tell them? It would set up a ridiculous blizzard among those who think the internet can be made into a congregation. I’ve seen people try to enforce congregation discipline online, seemingly oblivious that they are on a worldwide stage and look crazy to the average passerby. The internet is not the congregation and cannot be made to act like one.

So I don’t want to act as though part of an online brotherhood SWAT team. If a brother goes bad at the official site, they just yank him for one who remains faithful. But what if an individual social media figure goes bad? Best not to form close ties with those you don’t personally know.

For a related reason, I display no link to the website on my blog, much as I respect it. I suspect (without any evidence other than common sense) that they don’t want you to link there, as though deputizing yourself with a badge. Everyone has idiosyncrasies. If I link to the HQ site, people assume that’s where I acquired them.

***If this was a matter of my choosing, I would wish that we had a bit of training in social media, for it is not the same as interacting with individual flesh and blood persons. I would wish that we not regard it as the fence the devil owns, as it often seems to me we do. We interact oddly on social media when we make use of it—slamming religion, for example, when there is no reason to do so. Everyone knows we stand for something different—it’s not necessary to continually search for an underbelly at which to stab.

I’m amazed at the sniping there is today over headship (though this could be a function of what I monitor)—you never hear a whiff of it at any Kingdom Hall I’ve ever been to—opponents make as much noise as Gideon, hoping ot create the same impression as he—that his forces were overwhelming in number, when in fact they were small. My comment on the last Watchtower Study’s paragraph 9, the one about Hannah, was that scripture plainly says we have this treasure in earthen vessels. Earthen vessels are not crystal vessels, nor gold vessels, nor silver vessels. They’re earthen. So it’s best not to focus on the vessels but on the treasure.

Hannah surely did. Eli was an earthen vessel nearly to the point of being unusable—didn’t rebuke his rotten kids, but did rebuke Hannah harshly, misinterpreting something right before his eyes. Yet Hannah’s regard for the treasure did not waver.

It gets to the point with some malcontents (the considerable number that go atheist) that they seem unaware that there even is a treasure, or ever was one—as though the ‘treasure’ was just a scheme to defraud them from pursuing the ‘good’ things in life—be that personal fulfillment, career, living the fun life—whatever. When you give up on everlasting life, you necessarily default to ‘this life is all there is.’

Faced with their onslaught, brothers deputize themselves to come to the defense. Sometimes they become unreasonable. A pardonable error? “I have become unreasonable,” says Paul. “You compelled me to, for I ought to have been recommended by you. For I did not prove to be inferior to your superfine apostles in a single thing, even if I am nothing.” (2 Corinthians 12:11) If modern Witnesses have stepped into it, it’s not as though the ancients didn’t as well! And the bone of contention is the same—headship! The ‘superfine apostles’ of Paul’s day wanted his recognition, though not necessarily his work.

Throw this one at today’s ‘anti-cultists:’ “For I am seeking, not your possessions, but you.”* just as surely as “Uncle Sam wants YOU!’ (2 Corinthians 12:14) Do detractors, with their new definition, call you a cult? Point out that, by that same revised definition, that’s exactly what first century Christianity was. If they keep it up, do what the cops did when the college-educated bunch started calling them ‘pigs’, doubling down when they saw it got under their skin. One innovative officer decided to wear the badge proudly: PIGS: Pride, Integrity, Guts, Service. If need be, do the same yourself: CULT: Courage, Unity, Love, Truth.


*Yes, it is even worse than is feared. The Christian congregation seeks, not your possessions, but you. “This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, the Holy One of Israel: “I, Jehovah, am your God, The One teaching you to benefit yourself, The One guiding you in the way you should walk. If only you would pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17-18) He wants to repurchase you by means of a price that has been paid, that of his Son.

It’s like when 81CFEF61-4571-47DB-93EF-6463AECFF526the wary householder cleaning out his boat said, ‘What’s up? Who are you guys with?’ I told him I wasn’t a politician—that with the election just days behind, half of those guys are licking their wounds and the other half are doing champagne and oysters. What I was, I told him, was even worse—I thought that I had a read on this guy, and I was not mistaken.

At an offer to read a scripture, hear what he thinks, and then vanish, the boat cleaner declined even that. You Jehovah’s Witnesses have your own interpretation of the Bible, he said, and we have ours. It did not work to take my ‘common ground’ tack: ‘got it’ that our interpretations of the Bible differ, but we live in a world in which the majority interpretation of the Bible is that it is hogwash: consequently, we could focus on common ground, not scorched earth.

It didn’t work with this fellow. He stayed scorched earth. Though there have been plenty of times when that has been our ground, a style that does little good. Better to look for common ground instead.

******  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'

Biased Reporting. Et tu?—Even Us?

“The strange dynamic that is reality in “news” today is that if you are a member of a cause, you are biased and thus not reliable as a source.” This I wrote here, and it attracted an answer:

This is more and more true as the world gets more divided, more partisan, and more nationalistic. Pride in one's own cause, nation, religion or ideology causes one to be more apt to defend one's POV with bias, and condemn, with bias, those of an "opposite" POV . It happens to the best of us, and by that I mean that there have been several documented examples even within and among our own religion. 

I have learned to live with it, and perhaps even acquiesce that it must be that way. Of course, I don’t know what examples this person may have in mind, but...

Do you think I can persuade anybody that the (largely) atheist anti-cult movement is behind our woes in Russia? No. It is all the machinations of Babylon the Great is all anyone wants to hear. We are so hung up on Babylon the Great that we do not recognize that she is mostly licking her wounds these days, and a powerful atheist faction has arisen that would eradicate everyone clinging to worship of God—us no less than they. Yet we still, in the main, carry on as though publishers in Judge Rutherford’s day, announcing that religion is a “snare and a racket.” It is, but here in the West, it does not play as the most timely theme. The atheists and the skeptics perch above it all and ridicule the different religionists calling each other false. As rude as some trolls are here, I see brothers equally rude on social media with regard to tweets mentioning religion—appending insults that have little to do with the topic under consideration. Do they think themselves witnessing? It doesn’t leave a good impression. I could wish that we got training about social media besides the refrain to “be cautious” of it.*

Trained, we might be able to do some good with it. The articles posted on lately—about coping with anxiety, safeguarding children from the horror of world news, adapting them to “distance learning,” and so forth? These are excellent contributions—exactly what is needed today by anyone wishing to preserve sanity. It would take so little for ones who know how to use social media to judiciously spread this all over the internet, to the benefit of countless people. But we are advised to be cautious as to our use of it. We are not trained, and most of those who venture there with the idea of witnessing are horribly clumsy—saying outrageous things, oblivious to what their audience potentially might be.  It could be used to such powerful effect, but it is not in a nod to “caution.” 

Still, maybe the fixation on Babylon the Great, and turning a (it seems to me) blind eye to the atheists and skeptics is what one must expect of Bethel. They, more than anyone, strive to be “no part of the world.” Over time, they get to know little about it. They live primarily in the world of Scriptures, and the scriptures say that it is in the skirts of Babylon the Great (not the atheists or skeptics) that is found the blood of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth. Primarily, the sin is one of omission, not commision. Had religion not neglected to teach the Word of God, there would not be the bumper crop of atheists and skeptics of today. So who can say that Bethel is wrong to keep on harping over false religion—that picture is the overall picture, and the skeptics are but a resulting subset—even though (someone said to me) “the denunciation of Babylon the Great was needed at that time because religion was still powerful. Today it is not needed any longer.“ The way that I have phrased it is: “Why kick the old lady when she is down? We kicked her while she was up.”

Another area of seeming bias is how we speak of ex-members—as though they are all train-wrecks, and will remain so until they come to their senses and return. This is a point of great ridicule among ex-Witnesses, who take bows before each other each time one emerges who is not a train-wreck. I mean, it really does seem an example of “confirmation bias” on our part.

Still, the Word indicates that those who leave after knowing the truth are like Vic Vomodog, whose name I changed from Vomidog to please @anna, who didn’t like the image. “A dog that returns to its own vomit” is how Peter puts it, so from there comes the notion that the world will “chew one up and spit one out.” If the brothers find someone who says it in exactly those words based upon his own experience, they eat it right up and cannot relay it quickly enough. 

It used to drive me nuts. It still does, a little, but it does so less. The brothers don’t know because they obey the Bible’s own counsel to not go where they might find out. “Keep an eye on those who cause division and stumbling and avoid them,” says Romans 16:17. So they do avoid them, and thus the only window they have to look upon them is that of scripture. 

Ah, well. I would like it if they didn’t do that, but who is to say they are wrong? It’s a little like God declaring that Adam and Eve will die the day they disobey. It the long run, it makes little difference whether that “day” is one of 24 hours or 1000 years.

*You settle in social media like FB and Twitter just like you would settle in a physical neighborhood. As you interact with your “neighbors,“ by degrees people come to know of your faith and what makes you do what you do. I wish we did more of this, but in fact we do almost none. When we “friend” only those we personally know, whatever witnessing we do, barring some fluke, reaches only the brothers. 

I rather like it that the hour requirement of pioneers has been suspended, and yet people are still being appointed as pioneers—which begs off the obvious question of...well, you know what it is. Counting time inevitably leads to curious notions of being “on duty/ off duty.“ I don’t mind seeing it suspended, in favor of witnessing that is seamlessly integrated into our lives—sometimes distinctly “on duty”, sometimes, for the most part, “off duty,” but generally so seamless that it is hard to tell.

If I was to count all the time I spend on social media, primarily my own blogging here, in that case I have been special pioneering for many years. But the notion of counting time is a provision of the organization, so it is for them to define how it Is to be done. Since they are decidedly unencouraging on witnessing via social media, I count none of it.


See: I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why


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'

‘Using’ the Pandemic to ‘Recruit’ - Sheesh! What is it With These Nutcases?

It must really confound those who accuse the JW organization of being a cult that few people are behaving better these days, or more reasonably, with more of an eye toward the public good. That #CultExpert tweets about how Jehovah’s Witnesses manipulate people, and I reply that their followers put his to shame for vanquishing COVID. Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately transferred all gatherings to Zoom and issued strong counsel to observe government-recommended social distancing—which our people will observe because they strive to be obedient. But his followers? Some will observe social distancing, no doubt—probably even most, but is his mission statement ‘Freedom of Mind’ really compatible with obedience to secular authority? You don’t think some will use their ‘freedom of mind’ to tell the government to buzz off—‘We’ll party on the beach if we feel like it!?’—thus spreading COVID far and wide?

Doubtless they expected ‘scare-mongering’—‘using’ the present crisis to scare new ones into the fold—and in fact, there have been accusations of that. But you really really have to stretch the point if you go there. The lead post on is the most socially responsible contribution imaginable, replete with suggestions on how to cope with isolation and resulting loneliness. With people beside themselves with anxiety, unable to cope in many cases, you don’t think that is a valuable contribution, perhaps THE most valuable? After all, if your psyche breaks down, all the physical relief in the world does you no good.

It reminds me of the verse on muzzling the talk of the ignorant ones by doing good. To be sure, hostile ones are still criticizing—but in doing so,  they are also plainly revealing their ignorance, and in some cases, their hate.

In fact, I don’t quite go there with the CultExpert, for some of the groups he monitors really DO seem pretty strange—so I don’t go there, though I do think about it—I almost want to say: “LET them join a cult if it helps them get through this and save their sanity! What are you offering in lieu—that we should put our hope in the next crop of politicians? Haven’t we been down that road countless times before?”

Affirming some cult idiot’s charge that I am ‘using’ the pandemic to ‘recruit,’ (to anyone concerned about that, I reply that on the 200th contact I will ask if they want to convert and then they can say ‘no’—in the meantime, it’s just conversation—don’t worry about it) I have many times tweeted that lead post to persons, sometimes in response to a specific plea like with Mr. Fiend, and sometimes I just throw it out there—with good results in both cases. Sometimes the tweets are retweeted. Unless you are a snarling ‘ain’t-cultist,’ people do not misunderstand—they know that you are trying to help.

As always, you tailor your tweet to the person. To persons who appear secular, you say (this one was lamenting a suicide she had read about): “It is a terrible thing. Healthy people struggle when their routine is uprooted, let alone persons unwell to begin with. I sent this to someone who tweeted that he was frankly losing it. There is a spiritual component to it, but it is mostly on combatting isolation and loneliness”—and I attach the link.

To someone decidedly irreligious, you might say: “As a suggestion—nothing more—here is a series of posts on how to cope with isolation and loneliness. Upended routines are driving everyone up a tree. My turn is probably next. Like Bob Dylan: ‘The riot squad is restless, they need somewhere to go.’” I like to play the Dylan card—it doesn’t mean that you have to. You also don’t exempt yourself—hence the ‘my turn is probably next,’

My new pinned tweet is: “With #mentalhealth under assault and even balanced people buckling under the stress, I can’t imagine a better read than this one on coping with isolation and loneliness from #JehovahsWitnesses,” as I include a link to the post.

Note the hashtags. Ages ago my daughter said to me: “They’re hashtags, Dad, not crosstags.” Hashtags are fair game on social media, whereas tagging individuals directly is generally considered rude, unless you know full well that they will welcome it. Hashtags will draw in anyone else who monitors the subject—as an experiment, enter a hashtag anything on social media to see what comes up. You can even use it as your own filing system if you choose a hashtag unique enough.

It can, however backfire. If the hashtag is of any controversial topic, it can bring in people who want to argue, even insult. In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are disgruntled former members—‘apostates’—that can be attracted—in fact, they almost surely will be. “Oh, yeah,” you can mutter. “They’ll come alright. As surely as flies to dung, they will come!” But you should not say this because, while you are comparing apostates to flies, you are also comparing yourself to dung—so you should seek another metaphor.

My #mentalhealth hashtag drew in some mental health people, some of whom expressed great appreciation. But true to warning, my #jehovahswitnesses hashtag drew in some ‘apostates.’

“The rather large elephant in the paragraph [about the comfort JWs offer] is the Jehovah’s Witness shunning policy.”

But I replied (in three tweets):

“There is hardly an issue here. Those who would trigger a ‘shunning policy’ are those for whom, at the present time, the last thing in the world they would want is to abide by the principles of those who wrote the article. Even so, they are welcome to take from it what they will.”

“The thoughts expressed in the article are non-denominational, offered freely to all, even those on the outs at present with JWs. It’s meant as a public service. One need not take it. One can always put trust in the politicians, medical staff, and economists to fix matters.”

I looked at the detractor’s profile and discovered that she was one who was trying to torpedo the JW organization’s status as a charitable religious organization, something that they plainly are:

“In fact, it is an excellent post for consideration of the @CharityComms, though not written for that reason. Look, nobody is everything to everyone. But they will recognize that we are well past the time for nursing grudges—not with C19 threatening the mental health of the planet.”

It shut her up! I couldn’t believe it! It is unheard of! ‘Apostates’ never ever EVER give up—I’ve had to block some—and yet she gave up. There is no finer proof of 1 Peter 2:15 than that: “For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorant talk of unreasonable men.”

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'

“Mr Fiend Wins Fine Language Contest!”

I can’t sleep. Ask me anything,” one person on Twitter said. It is a not unusual complaint these days—there is only so much upending of life that one can take. So I asked him what he thought of the post—the lead post—on coping with isolation and loneliness. I didn’t hear back.

Other times I have. “Seriously starting to lose my s**t here,” Mr. Fiend said. [**s mine] I sent him the same link. He thanked me, and said he would check it out. It was the second time I had contacted him specifically about the faith. The first was after he said that he didn’t know anymore just what was his place in life—a worrisome remark but by no means an uncommon one these days.

I sent him another link on what had helped me. But he was worried that I was trying to convert him: “Thank you Tom....My parents are both pretty Baptist-esque, though, so I don't feel JW is for me, although I mean absolutely no disrespect by that at all.”

The reply I should have made is: “On my 200th contact, I will ask you to convert, and then you can say ‘no.’ It won’t happen until then. Don’t worry about it,” and then fluff it out a bit to be less abrupt. But what I did say was: “None taken. I wish you the best. These are stressful times for all. Even in the best of times, upending routines is a source of stress.” Our best lines always occur to us too late. Still, the actual sent reply is not bad—it may even be better.

Am I trying to witness to him, or anyone, on Twitter? Not really. That’s not why I started my account. I started it as a platform on which to hawk my books and become rich. That way that ubiquitous drawing in Watchtower publications of a brother thumbing his chest with one hand and gesturing at his possessions with another—fancy home, flashy car, boat even larger than the home, and piles of money, that is not supposed to be an example for anyone—can be one of me. Since my two most recent books—Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia and TrueTom vs the Apostates! are labors of love and are free, there is a wrinkle in my business plan, but I may in time iron it out.

Naw, I just moved into the Twitter community as I would move into a home—in order to find a place to live—and only afterwards do I interact with the neighbors, occasionally finding an opening to witness, though that is not my primary aim. To someone who asked about my blog I said that it is not really a Witness blog. Rather, it is a writer’s blog. Writing is what I like to do. Since I am a Witness, that will form a large portion of my subject matter, but I don’t blog just for that reason. I wish more brothers did this. Instead, the few blogs I see. by brothers are quite plainly for the purpose of witnessing, with almost nothing thrown in to present a rounded person. I like to tell stories, is all. Most stories will be with some backdrop of the faith, because that’s where I am, but it is the storytelling that motivates me.

Mr. Fiend I began to follow for his crazy combination of attributes—really, you can almost not imagine them all in a single person. He is a lawyer—a support one, not a high-flying litigator—and he describes the work as a bit of a grind. He is a pianist who tutors students of all ages and who play Chopin—he has even been giving nightly concerts during COVID days. And he swears like a mobster—it is just so uncalled for and over the top that I am drawn in—it doesn’t mean that you have to be. I even called him on it once—‘it’s a shame he speaks so crudely because it spoils an otherwise appealing personality.’ Most people on Twitter will tell you to f**k off if you do this, but he said something to the effect of, ‘Yeah, I know—it’s just that the injustices and hypocrisies get me going.’ That’s an honest answer, I thought, and I stayed with him.

I throw quips about his salty language right back at him, pretending, for example, for him to have submitted one of his outrageous notes to a client by error, having mixed it up with his official reply. It is a fine exercise in creativity, building off what he has tweeted. For example:

He (recently): “Every morning, you know that *something* in the news is going to come right out of left field.  You just don't know what it's going to be until it happens.  It's completely and utterly unpredictable.”


His name isn’t actually Fiend. It is a part of his moniker and I latched onto it. Perhaps his real name is found in the rest of his moniker or perhaps not. One idiot ‘apostate’ thought he could use his real name, highlight some unflattering JW story that I supposedly stood by, and cause Mr. Fiend to upbraid me! What yo-yos these people are! Mr Fiend didn’t take the bait. He tweeted that such and such is a problem everywhere, not the exclusive property of any one domain, as this fellow would have had him believe.

You know, I was going elsewhere with this post, but I got sidetracked. Ah, well. I’ll get back on track tomorrow, or at least some time.

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'