Trump, the Dark Lord, and the Brawling Web Site—Define ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’

The Dark Lord has made his appearance at the bad & brawling website and people who agree with him in many particulars are keeping an unusually low profile. It is probably because they do not want to inadvertently say something wrong and have him find their lack of faith disturbing.

Case in point is JimmyT. Normally, a mention of climate change will trigger a tirade from him as to how it is a masterful left wing hoax. Normally a negative mention of Trump will unleash torrents of praise for him from his corner. This time, however, not a peep. Well...there is a bit of cheerleading for Trump—you cannot completely erase the spots of a leopard—but he does not pursue it. He and another participant have happily squabbled at great length over both these topics. But he does not do it here with Darth Alan.

Do I blame him for this bit of cowardice? Not at all. He is in his senior years and he wants to live them out. He does not want to be accosted with endless taunts about how stupid he is. He does not want every syllable he utters to be corrected. He does not want to have to open dozens of dialogue boxes to recall just what it was that he said to earn the verdict that he is a moron. He does not want to shake his head in disgust that every other forum participant has learned to use those boxes properly, and only the Dark Lord is too enraptured with his own arguing to constrain himself to quoting just three lines of text that will faithfully reproduce without opening boxes. He looks at another challenger, who has had to triple her blood pressure medication, and decides that he wants no part of it. Who can blame him?

So I will carry his Trump ball for him—not as aptly as he would do it himself, for I am not so vested in it as he—but I will carry it.

In the midst of discussion, the Dark Lord reaches back into his quiver for taunts, chooses a old favorite, and hurls back at me: “Apparently you just make up "news" out of thin air -- just like your idol Trump.”

This is the fifth completely irrelevant reference to Trump since he began participation here, just two or three weeks ago. A moment later, he launches the sixth: “You're doing what ever-Trumpers do very well -- project their own faults onto their opponents.”

Six times he brings Trump into a discussion that has nothing to do with him. Each time it is like ripping a loud one in the concert hall. His audience surely must be among the most apolitical people on earth. Some of them, JW and non-JW alike, think it downright wrong to bring politics into a discussion of spiritual things. The DL knows this. He knows everything. So why can he not restrain himself from continually inserting that which he knows will fall flat with almost everyone and be positively off-putting to some?

It is because he suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome. I had thought that JimmyT made up the term because he is the only one who has ever used it on the website—another testimony to the apolitical nature of both JWs and many who oppose them—but I see now via internet search that it is not so. DL has that ailment full-blown. He froths over Trump. He obsesses over Trump. He embraces those who every day since before his election experiences orgasm at some new bullet that will supposedly take him out. He inserts references to Trump everywhere, the same way that normal people insert “word whiskers” like “um.”

So what of this taunt that he hurls at me—ME, TrueTomHarley! 

Apparently you just make up "news" out of thin air -- just like your idol Trump.” 

Is he my idol? That depends. Politically, it is not likely to be so. Trump does the Make America Great routine. He pushes for his country, assumes that other national leaders will push for theirs, and if they don’t, it is all the better for him. On the other hand, as a JW, I look forward to “the kingdom”—a government from God that will eliminate national borders. Even now, visit Bethel, observe the huge globe, and take note that there are no national borders to sully it.

So no, politically he is hardly an “idol.” But that does not mean that as a man I cannot learn from him. I try to learn from anyone that comes to my attention—either through personal interaction or by their being in the news a lot. I even strive to learn from the Dark Lord. Nobody can be said to be worthless, for you can always be used as a bad example.

Politics aside, it turns out that I am very grateful for Trump. His election has vaulted 2 Timothy 3:1-5 to the position of the world’s year text—this year and every year. It used to be that if you read how people would be fierce, unreasonable, not open to agreement, backbiting, and so forth, and your householder did not agree that such was the case today more so than in prior times, there wasn’t much you could do about it. Plainly the verse is subjective. It always will be, of course—I expect that should DL ever have the misfortune to be executed by guillotine, he will ignore that unpleasant fact and his head will continue to insult onlookers as it is being carted away in the wheelbarrow—but with ever-Trumpers and never-Trumpers screaming at each other day and night, it becomes a much more difficult verse to deny.

I also take a page from Trump with regard to his communication skills. At first glance, he hasn’t any. Surely he is one of the most ineloquent public figures in history. And don’t come to him for spelling lessons. But at second glance, one comes to see that he is a master at pushing back at his barrage of opponents. After a brief period of supposing opponents would adjust to his presence, he decided that there was no way on earth that they could be placated, and so he redirects his efforts to defeating them. He does it in the most innovative of ways, taking full advantage of their weaknesses. Time and again, he draws them in as with hooks in their jaws, and just as they are ready to pounce, tasting certain victory, he pulls the rug out from under them.

Case in point is the brouhaha over his inauguration. ‘It was the most well-attended inauguration in history!’ he boasts. ‘It wasn’t!’ counter his enemies. He reasserts that it was. They dive into the archives to find photos of other inaugurations. Obama filled the quadrangle. Trump’s crowd is visibly far less. HA!, they shout in victory—surely now that they have caught him in a lie, he will fess up to it. He doesn’t! 

Night after night they run the two photos side by side on national news broadcasts, ignoring everything else. They point to the gaping holes in Trump’s photos that are not there with Obama’s photos. “These are FACTS!” they are close to screaming. “You cannot dispute FACTS!” He does. He doubles down, nearly to the point of saying: “No event in human history has drawn the attendance of my inauguration!”

Tearing their hair out, they invite his advisor on TV—Kellyanne. They rub her nose, and the noses of their viewers, into their two photos. ‘The FACTS show that Obama drew way more than Trump! Right here—look at just this spot! There is just bare ground with Trump and there is shoulder-to-shoulder people with Obama! FACTS are FACTS!

But Kellyanne says that the President is trying to draw attention to alternative facts. He is trying to draw attention to.........’ALTERNATIVE FACTS!! they are apoplectic. ‘THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN “ALTERNATIVE” FACT!!! A FACT IS A FACT IS A FACT IS A FACT!! THERE ARE NO “ALTERNATIVE FACTS!!” 

But the Advisor to the President insists that they are, and that the media ignores them. They consist of the fact of popular discontent with the “swamp” that propelled him to victory in the first place. Whatever Trump said to the ignored half of America clearly resonated with them, and it is being ignored by the mainstream media. Today he crows about the economy. Bill Clinton garnered adoration from pundits with his, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Today these same pundits will portray the economy as though an insignificant point.

As for me, I enjoy the spectacle, without taking any position as to whether he makes a good president or not. He may be a terrible one, but I like the way he turns the tables on those seeking to destroy him. I am not even sure that his numerous spelling errors are not deliberate. When he tweets that North Korea has launched its nuclear missels, people of common sense will run to take cover. People of the media will run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can’t even spell the word right. 

Life is a continued term paper to many of these characters. They did well on term papers in college. They have grades from their professors to prove it. So they launch into the media that only attracts a certain type of people—those who imagine that ‘exposing’ problems is enough to fix them—and assume that life, too, will respect their term paper skills as highly as their professors did. They have little experience in actually doing anything. They are mostly wonks when it comes to government—and the fixes that their type of government can bring is their obsession.

As for me, I take note that if there is any new meme guaranteed to undermine traditional family life, these characters are all over it. If there is any new meme that will bend gender distinctions, for example, these characters are all over it. Gayle King dutifully appended the Q on LGBTQ before she even knew what it meant—I heard her say it. Did it mean ‘queer?’ Did it mean ‘questioning?’ She didn’t know. But she didn’t dare leave it out once the gods of media popularity told her to insert it. With this track record, anyone who can get these characters incensed cannot be all bad.

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Yikes! End of the Line for Bloggers?

When the world at last wakes up to a problem, it wildly overswings. It misses its target, who ducks, and hits square in the teeth the unsuspecting, innocent, and ordinary joe standing just behind.‬ Will this be soon be the case in the world of blogging?

Mr. Admin thinks so. He runs a big site. He will go down at the end of the year, he fears, “as will many, many bloggers and other small ad-supported websites due to onerous and draconian data privacy laws.”

He cites an article:

“The [California Consumer Privacy Act, to go into effect at year end] was supposed to curb the purportedly abusive privacy practices of internet giants (like Google and Facebook) and data brokers. Unfortunately, the law overshot this goal; it reaches most businesses, online or off. Facebook may have been the target, but the local pizzeria will bear the law’s brunt.” Cost of compliance to these new mandates, which carries a $20 fine per incident for any internet hit from California are so onerous that anyone not in the same league as Facebook will simply fold.”

“Well, if you are not in California and have no critical interests there, who cares if you run afoul of their law? What’s the worst that can happen?” I asked him. He continued to fret:

“I doubt development companies like IPS or Wordpress have dedicated anything to this problem. They were probably hoping Google would make it go away....Would you risk life changing fines “per incident” to make even $100 monthly profit? High risk + Low Reward = Find a new hobby for most small time publishers/bloggers/forum owners.”

Hmm. He’s not in California. But he doesn’t want to risk a trip to the mailbox to discover a letter:

Dear Mr Admin:

It’s “Hasta la vista” for you, baby!

Very truly yours

Arnold Schwartsnegger - Governor emeritus of California”

PS — I’ll be back!

Now, I hang out there quite a bit on the forum of Admin. I have written substantial portions of text there latter reorganized to comprise parts of “Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia,” and “TrueTom vs the Apostates!” I think his fears are overblown and that outfits such as he mentions will come up with some solution that they will use to justify a price increase—hopefully not too huge. Our worst dreams do come true, but they usually come true gradually, not all at once with a swipe of the pen.

There will be a gateway at the entrance of blogs, I predict, where ones who wish to participate will waive away privacy rights. Already I see such things. Or (better yet) there will be developed a firewall to ban anyone from California, and then the outrage of those persons will cause lawmakers to backtrack. They do not want to be like John Jay, who negotiated a treaty with the British so unpopular that he later wrote he could ride the road from Philadelphia to Washington at night, his path lit solely by the burning effigies of himself hanging every 50 yards or so. 

Still, Admin is closer to this than me, and paying more attention. Maybe I underestimate the problem and his forum will indeed go down. If so, I will miss it. But I will also move on. I have used my time well there. Engaging with malcontents, villains, as well as some “avant-garde” brothers has served to hone both my writing and my thinking. In turn, I have used that to write larger collections that stand on their own, even if distribution methods themselves may change. Admin himself rebuked me long ago, and the experience served as a quirky introduction to “TrueTom vs the Apostates.”

It finally dawned upon the troublesome “Foreigner” that Mr. Admin is not a Witness, and he said that now he realized it.

He didn’t know that? Admin has said it often enough. “So here you come charging like a bull,” I told him, “upbraiding for apostasy anyone displaying the slightest deviation from the latest writing of the Witness organization, far in excess of what they would ever insist upon themselves, and you do it all before unbelievers, making Witnesses look ridiculous!”

It is nearly as absurd as (I have seen it) the spectacle presented when brothers tell each other on Facebook that so-and-so is disfellowshipped, and so be careful not to associate with that one. Since you can’t really know what is real and what is rumor, one sister even proposed phoning an elder in the person’s home congregation to ask if so-and-so was in good standing or not. All this before just regular folk who know or care nothing of congregation matters. I responded that if I were that elder, I might comply once or twice, being caught off guard, but after that I would say: “Enough! I have a family, a job, congregation responsibilities, and a life! Now you want me to police the internet? Stay off social media if you have to ask such questions!” The internet is not the congregation and cannot be made to behave like one. Do not venture online if you cannot get your head around this.

Another value to me of the forum (and online in general) that may tank—if it does, it does—is the discipline of addressing heavy, even controversial spiritual topics, knowing non-Witnesses might be listening in, and learning how to say heavy things without turning them off. I mean, they may not like the religion itself, and if such is the case, there is nothing to be done about it. But sometimes it is our own inartfulness that is the turn-off, and I have learned (relatively) how to be artful. It is no more that what Paul said:

“To the Jews I became as a Jew in order to gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, in order to gain those under law. To those without law I became as without law, although I am not without law toward God but under law toward Christ, in order to gain those without law....I have become all things to people of all sorts, so that I might by all possible means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

Most Witnesses are not good at this. When they engage with non-believers, it is strictly mundane, regarding business matters or the weather—OR they go into “witness mode” and tell them of the paradise, petting the animals, and how the Trinity is a crock. They don’t seem to know how to mix the two. I have learned to do that, and I credit sites like Admin’s with providing the needed practice.

It is a good skill to develop, I think. We won’t be described as so “insular” should we ever pull of that trick. But I think we never will pull it off.. “Insularity” is too close to being “no part of the world”—a condition that must be so for Christians, per James 4:4, for example: “Adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God.”

If Admin’s worst fears are realized and his site goes down, other sites will go down for the same reason. That will kick out tons of “apostate” sites, and I have no problem with that. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it,” is the saying of Voltaire, not me. When it comes to trashing spiritual things, I’d just as soon they not say it. I can live with it should that become the new law.

None of this will affect the official channel, JW.org, that is not into collecting data in the first place, and when they do for the sake of log-in accounts, I think even already they require applicants to yield on such newfound concerns—and you should hear the apostates howl over that!

In fact, I think what Bethel will say with regard to the apostates who hang their hearts on the BITE model [Behavioral, Information, Thought, and Emotional “control”] is: “The idiots! They pressed their ‘victimization’ complaints to such absurd lengths that the asp came around to bite them in their own rear ends, knocking them all offline.” 

As for Admin, he will have to find himself a new hobby. They are offering pickleball lessons down at the Rec Center, I hear—a fine way for duffers to keep in shape. It wouldn’t hurt me were I to sign up myself, and maybe I will see him there. Maybe someday I will even see him at the Kingdom Hall—that is, if he did not get chased away by the hotheads on his own forum.

After that, in search of new things to do, I may even start to tackle more of Mrs. Harley’s to-do list. Say—you don’t suppose that it is she who spoke to California lawmakers, do you?

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Give My Badge to Anton

“You have been recognized as one of Anton Chivchalov’s top fans. Get your badge now,” Facebook told me.

What in the world is this?

Searching out the answer, I found: “Displaying your top fan badge publicly helps you stand out to Anton Chivchalov Blog and others. For example, people will see the badge when you comment on posts by Anton Chivchalov Blog.”

Oh, for crying out loud! Give the badge to him, if there are any badges to be given. I am indebted to him. I’m not about to wow him or anyone else with my “badge.” He is the one who is aggregating all reports of Jehovah’s Witness persecution in Russia, building an unequaled historical record of the dark days.

He keeps that light burning, and it cannot be easy for him because the subject is both depressing and endlessly repetitive. He assembles the raw data. He tracks each individual, and doesn’t just summarize events from time to time, as I and some others do.

He is not even rewarded with “likes.” I mean, when he posts that some ordinary joe in Russia is assaulted and detained for reading the Bible, his property confiscated, do you respond with a like? Anything that you do say quickly becomes old, because the next day he posts another few examples.

Sometimes he gets a like, though. Like when he posts the photo of Dennis Christensen immersed in the letters he gets from around the world, thanking the senders, displaying pictures that the children have made, assuring all that they need not worry about writing in Russian or even Danish, for he speaks English. That one is easy to like.

Anton, too, speaks English. And Russian. And probably some other languages. He is “bringing his gift to the altar,” keeping his finger on the pulse. Give my badge to him.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Blocking Trolls the Star Trek Way - I Didn’t Want to Do It

I blocked quite a few trolls yesterday. I didn’t really want to block them—it is a first for me—but the nature of trolls everywhere is that they do nothing but insist upon their own view. If answered, they just repackage and run it through again, and they get downright ornery when countered. Soon you find that they have taken over your day, because they will not let your counterview stand—they must demolish it.

They are not even wrong, necessarily, in the basic facts they may present—but they insist upon skewing them and imputing motives, invariably bad ones, to their former friends. It is like that job you left—either you quit or were fired, You are unlikely to speak well of it again, unless it clearly was a stepping stone job or a career change.

All their chums join the fray. In time, you are doing nothing else but countering these characters. They will not be swayed—as trolls never are. In our case, it is the verse: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” They have tasted and pronounced him bad. Are you going to turn them around in a few 280-character tweets? I don’t think so.

There is a part of me that will miss them, but they just will not behave. A writer needs a muse, but he also needs a villain. Social media is VillainsRUs, but you soon find that they are taking over your life—plus the neighbors begin to complain. It is like when you change to another genre and find trolls that insist Trump must hang for anything that has happened “on his watch,” and then you switch channels to find those insisting that Obama or Hillary must hang for whatever happened “on their watch.” Who can deal with that vitriol? We will know what is what when the fat lady sings—a reference that I soon will not be able to use due the latest development of political correctness—“fat-shaming”—although I did learn over the weekend that Brother Herd, who may not even know what political correctness is, will never reprove me for it.

When the time came, I cut them down like Captain Kirk used to cut down Romulans. I deliberately mixed up two Star Trek series so that they would tell me how stupid I was to think that Wesley Crusher was Dr. McCoy’s son. It is like when Trump tweets that North Korea has launched its nuclear missels toward the U.S. People of good sense run for the hills. Trolls run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can’t even spell the word right. Whether they actually did it or not, I will never know—for they had been blocked:

“Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the StarShip TrueTom, whose mission is to boldly go where no one has gone before to tell us what’s out there! Report, TrueTom. What have you found in your valiant quest? What’s out there!”

“Roger that, Houston. I am afraid that the report is bad. It is a universe of trolls! Aren’t there any parallel universes around anywhere? They’re everywhere! In the cupboards, in the closets, in the toilets...mostly there. Let’s beam them over to the Klingon ship!”

“You have go-ahead, TrueTom. Use you digression.”

“Got it, Houston. Phasers locked. Fire at will! Mr Solo! Let’s take out the first wave of these vile aliens. Shields, up! There may be a second wave!”

“Captain, the engines—they can’t take it!”

“Suck it up, Scotty. What do you think I pay you for?”

“Mr. Spock, get Roy Romulan on the phone. Let’s patch up our little spat. He’s not such a bad guy after all.”

....

“Jean Luc, Wesley says that you are wuss for not staying to fight the trolls.”

“Tell the young snot to return to the helm. And tell him to try not to graze the side of the Ferengi ship this time. See if you can renew his learner’s permit once again.”

“Captain, are you certain that you should block all these Trolonians, like that hothead McCoy wants? I advise that we preserve some for study.”

“What! Are you, too, a Trolonian? Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up from Trolonia! Blast away, Jim!”

“Captain, one of those vile aliens exploded in my face! Look at all this green goo!”

“Wesley, you young idiot! Did you learn nothing from that “Men in Black” training video? Listen, ride outside on the wing for awhile until the stench wears off! I’ll tell your mom that you went fishing.”

“Captain, it isn’t logical that you should have put up with those trolls all that time.”

“Zip it, Spock! He was going for the StarFleet world record for Troll Endurance. Now that he has it—it came in the mail today—blast away at all those suckers!”

“Captain, the first wave has fallen, but it is as you said: “Kill a fly and 50 come to the funeral!” What can we do?”

“Hmm. What! Solo, you idiot! I said phasers! You have activated the tractor beam! Gasp! Are you a trolonian, too—et tu, Brutus?”

“Captain, the engines!”

”Oh for crying out loud! You are such a pain, Scotty!”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

A Lot of Work to Syphon Out the Liars

As much as I hate "conspiracy" theories”

As near as I can tell, Jehovah’s Witnesses buy into conspiracy theories in no greater proportion than the general population. It is a little surprising, since they have become privy to the greatest conspiracy theory of all—that involving religion having deviated so far from its source

As for me, I find myself nibbling at the edges, and in some cases accepting them. If I follow anything on Twitter, I make a point also of following its polar opposite. Sometimes I find the polar opposite point of view to be represented much more persuasively than the common wisdom.

 

“...After a while, one can develop an entire framework of areas (and players) where such admissions happen more often than others. When the pattern of 1)position, 2)slip-up, and 3)method of backtracking to regain the original position becomes very predictable, then you are probably onto something trending toward truth.”

That’s a lot of work to syphon out the liars. 

That’s not to say it is not a good idea, nor that it is any more time-consuming than what I do. It is just that few people have that kind of time. Most people take news from one or two sources, often the evening TV news for people our age, and pretty well accept that they are being told the truth. Usually they are, but it is not “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”—which can completely turn things around.

At one pioneer meeting the elder conducting it was highlighting the importance of neutrality, and never to give the impression of taking sides. “Now we all know that Trump is crazy,” he said, “but.......” I would stake my life on it that his only source of news is the evening news of one of the three networks. 

I was relatively up in years before I discovered to my surprise that my (non-Witness) Dad cared hardly at all about politics. Many were the political discussions swirling around the dining room table, as I was growing up, when the extended family was gathered. However, it turned out that my Mom’s father was very much a GOP person and would crank on about it endlessly, and my Dad was just too gracious to tell him to zip it—it was his father-in-law, after all, who his wife liked.

6DF6587C-6FB9-4840-AA58-11592633147B

Photo: Evening News, by Vasilennka
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

“Why so much foul language? I don't see how Jehovah can approve of that or the necessary disregard for many of the friends' consciences.”

Sorry, Tom, After spending a couple of hours reading your blog, I’ve changed my mind.

Not a problem, John. I appreciate your taking a look at it. I consider that everything that I write about spiritual things is loyal to Jehovah’s earthly organization, EXCEPT for counsel not to engage with some of the types that I do. Why I do what I do I have explained in several places, such as here. As an FYI, the elders of my congregation are aware of it, as is the organization, because I have written to them. What they think of it I do not know. I have written the 4 ebooks that I have and have never been given any feedback about it. Best to you in your service to our God.

Why so much foul language? I don't see how Jehovah can approve of that or the necessary disregard for many of the friends' consciences.”

It is for two reasons. One is because of the challenge of writing to two audiences—Witnesses and non-Witnesses. My books are not primarily for the friends, especially Dear Mr Putin and TrueTom vs. the Apostates. I hope they like them, but they are not the primary audience. They are written in the hope of changing perceptions of some in the greater world, especially those who may be able to afford us relief or mold popular opinion. The interested journalist and policy-maker class is who I am aiming for. With non-Witnesses primarily in mind, I think of the language as actually quite mild. If you use foul language all the time, as many do, it becomes just lazy, provocative, and disrespectful speech. But it you use it very sparingly, it becomes like the spice—occasionally something off-color is exactly the right terminology to make a point. There is one person I follow on Twitter precisely because of the contrast between the outrageous language he employs and the basic refinement and decency of the man himself. 

The second reason I go off-color sometimes is that “bad associations spoil useful habits,” and I should take to heart more what you say. I have no bad associations in person, but one cannot spend any time on social media without encountering massive quantities of it, and it rubs off. You are not the first one to point out what you have about language. The last one triggered my cleaning several instances of it up, but it sneaks back in again.

I think that the friends are on such a spiritual island—even if they think it a paradise island—that they have become oversensitive to what is not, in the greater scheme of things, an especially egregious sin. I also rebel at the thought that there will always be some who “strain out the gnat, but swallow the camel”—their language may be impeccable, but they do things that are far worse. But it doesn’t matter what I think. I am on that island, too, and I should not bring onto it what offends. I will be readjusted by you about this, and I will try to not go that way, and even take it out where it already exists. it is good counsel and I thank you for it.

Much of what I write about controversial things I have never heard anyone say before. Partly this is because that we are so much ‘no part of the world’ that we have forgotten how the world thinks, and are not good at answering it on its own terms. I read and write all the time—it is not really to my credit that I do this, but in this case it comes in handy—and I have gotten good at answering them on their own terms. I go on social media sites because I feel able to supply what some of the friends will find helpful, and to be sure, it is an interchange of encouragement. But I don’t really go online for the sake of making friends, for like most of us, I have a circuitful of real flesh-and-blood friends that I never have to wonder about who they really are.

Thanks, John. It is good counsel on language. I will take it to heart. Whether that resolve holds remains to be seen, but I will try to make it so.

....Hmm. You know, there is quite a bit to clean up. Did I really rebuke the National Historical Park Service with “It is history, dammit, get it right!” No more! Now I merely observe that history is their reason for existence—they ought to get the details right. And did I really say that certain opposers are “batsh*t crazy?” No more! Now they are “loony-tunes” crazy. I admit, I don’t like it as much, but it is not about me.

0779030E-0BAB-4C10-9848-52D236751603

Photo: Bats, by moleitau

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

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.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

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....”" »

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

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

3D4B8DE6-C2B8-4EBC-96E8-8F8B31290F6F

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

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!

C5D0E0F9-F117-4C49-AC2D-D3F4F310AD64

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)