“New Light” - The Writing on the Tablets of Moses—How Many Items on Each Side?

Moses descended from the mountain with the two tablets—the ones containing the Ten Commandments of Exodus chapter 20—but there was a difference this time around. This time around the tablets were depicted in Watchtower artwork each with three items per tablet. It is in the meeting workbook for August 2020. Previous artwork has depicted them with five each. What gives?

Well, someone figured out that since the writing is said to be on both sides of the tablets, if you put all ten on the front, what would remain for the back? Says Exodus 32:15: “Moses then turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand. The tablets were inscribed on both sides; they were written on the front and on the back.” So in this latest depiction, there are three items on the front of each, and presumably two on the back of each.

Is this “new light” or what? It wasn’t presented that way. No one made a big deal over it. To my knowledge, no one even noticed it. I certainly didn’t. But about two weeks after the meeting that revolved around Exodus chapters 19 and 20, some sharpie did. Sure. It’s kind of interesting. What reason would there be not to get the details right?

The soreheads didn’t see it that way—the ones who go out of their way to harp on every picky little thing. “Oh dear is it really important though?” said one such dodo with a particularly annoying style. “We know they had the exact information from God, that's more than we get.”

I wasn’t in the mood. I followed up with: “Oh my, no. Oh dear. God could have just shot him an email and it would have made the same dif. Why people waste their time striving to learn things I’ll never know.”

Another muttered: “And it took Jehovah over 100 years to relay this truth to them...sheesh!”

What is this idiocy? It is the most childish view that these louts have—as though anything spiritual should have been known from the get-go.

When Columbus sailed the oceans blue and discovered America, Queen Isabella said: “And it only took you 1492 years to find it...sheesh!”

When Einstein revealed that E=mc2, the science community said: “And it only took you 6000 years to find it....sheesh!”

Ludicrous examples. But these immature characters expect it to be just that way with respect to spiritual things—that Santa should deliver all the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, and he had better not drag his rear end and be tardy with any of them. The idea of research is abhorant to them—everything ought be handed them on a platter.

These yo-yos deserve each other.

Besides, one chum of mine who used to work in the art room back in the day said he noticed it long ago—with 5 on each side, what would remain for the reverse? But he said, “Who cares? For all we know there was five on the reverse, too, so both tablets could be read from front or back.”

 

 

 

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Farewell, Queen Zenobia—We Barely Knew Ye

Queen Zenobia given the boot!* She was almost my favorite Bible character, second only to Obi-Wan Kenobia. I’m in mourning.

The Witness Governing Body have said they are not inspired, and I guess this proves the point! “Zenobia and Kenobia!” some traveling overseers were shouting—or at least they would have been if they’d thought of it—and they got it right from HQ!. She came crashing to the ground yesterday with no one to mourn her—with no one to say, “Too bad, too bad, you Great Dame!” What a flip-flop to treat the old girl with such disrespect! How can God not be displeased? That evening I prepared a protest sign: “Zenobia Lives!” but then I realized there would be no convention to carry it to.

If the king of the north is the upper slice, the king of the south the lower, and the ingredients disappear, as they do when the weeds overrun the wheat, then there barely is any point to having the sandwich, is there? Let the two slices disappear, too, even the one on which Queen Zenobia had arisen. Don’t keep track of them. Who needs them? Too bad for Queenie, though, fine woman that she was—she is sent packing. “Ah, Queenie, we barely knew ye,” some of the brothers were saying, almost in tears.

When the people of God reappear, who’s putting the squeeze on them, as the kings of the north & south must scripturally do? Who are the players? Their identity soon becomes apparent, as the opposing forces of the two World Wars come into view. Both sides are hostile against those faithful to the covenant, and both sides are hostile for the same reason—their non-participation in the worldwide conflagration. They have decided to sit that one out—it is too much for the two kings to tolerate. They do not—in fact all the kings on earth do not agree on much—but they do agree on Psalm 2.

The kings of the earth take their stand, and high officials gather together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one. They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles and throw off their ropes!’”

The people of God are to be between a rock and a hard place. When they make their reappearance, who corresponds to the rock and who the hard place? Reverse the slices if you like, but otherwise these forces are not hard to identify. There was even brief reference at the end to the “image of the wild beast”—the human agency that would rule the earth by man. The kingdom of God is the divine agency that would rule it by God. The contrast is easy to see.

This is the gist of the Watchtower Study covered just before the first day of the Regional. Of all studies not to read the paragraphs before, it would have to be this one. Tom Pearlsandswine can usually hide the fact that he does not prepare beforehand—he has never prepared for anything in his life. No such l**k this time. I dropped the fact to him casually that we were not reading the paragraphs. I could hear the gears in his head turning:

Hmm. “King of the North.” I really should have looked this study over more. [More!? How about just some?] Hmm. The north....Who is in the north? Santa Claus! Yeah—he’s supposed to live there! I can always raise my hand and say that! Nobody will know I didn’t prepare!”

 

*Sidebar from that Watchtower considered Sunday: For the reason stated [in the text], it no longer seems appropriate to list Roman Emperor Aurelian (270-275 C.E.) as a “king of the north” or Queen Zenobia (267-272 C.E.) as a “king of the south.” This updates what was published in chapters 13 and 14 of the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy!

Easy for them to say! I sort of had a crush on her.

....(with apologies to Elvis):

A very old friend came by today
'Cause he was telling everyone in town
Of the love that he just found
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
He talked and talked and I heard him say
That she had the longest, blackest hair
Prettiest green eyes anywhere
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
Though I smiled the tears inside were burning
Well I wished him l**k and then he said goodbye
He was gone but still his words kept returning
What else was there for me to do but cry
 
Would you believe that yesterday
This girl was in my arms and swore to me
She'd be mine eternally
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
 
 
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If You Stop to Kick Every Dog That Barks, You’ll Never Get Very Far—On Scholaship, Part 2

(See Part 1)

Q: “There is a rumor that the WTS does not care too much about its past but keeps its focus on the future.” The topic of Rolf’s new book lurks in the background.

I have heard that this is true, yet one quote from Russell that has been faithfully preserved since his death is, “If you stop to kick every dog that barks at you, you’ll never get very far.”

Granted, if someone barks, they may be quick to assume that such person must be a dog—but you would have to excel in scholarship to know otherwise, and as stated, that is not their strong suit, nor should it be. The second thing (the first thing is here) that ‘scholars’ do—I’ve seen plenty of it from people who think themselves learned—is to start quibbling over the Name—this pronunciation is better than that one and since that is the case, maybe it should not be used at all. Scholars reason this way. But if I go to another country and start ragging on the locals every time they botch my name, nobody says, “Whoa! That brother is scholarly!” They say, “What a pin-headed idiot!”

Because the HQ brothers are not scholarly, they are inclined to accept that what is done is done, and what is written is written. Once in awhile someone like Brother Splane comes along, looks it all over, and says, “We’re not doing anti-types anymore!—it’s enough to say ‘this reminds us of that”—maybe because too many have blown up in his face, but for the most part, the past is assumed to be stable past that can be built upon. It’s too bad they’ve tossed aside anti-types because I have a doozy for them. You think it is nothing that Dennis Christensen’s surname points to the one he follows, and his very profession is the same? They are going to twiddle their thumbs on thatone, putting equal significance on the second Russian imprisoned for the faith—Mgoyahen Bloggabodidillyvich? Not to worry, though—some wannabe prophet will pick up and run with it.

I can’t believe how many seem to take for granted that the devil’s gameboard is not rigged, or that his rules of ‘critical thinking‘ should carry the day. They do not see for a moment how flawed the tool is—or perhaps more to the point—how sharp it is on the points for which it has merit, too sharp for its staunch advocates to handle without cutting themselves. It is the words of the prophet Tom Cruise: “You can’t handle the truth!” 

The notion that we are rational creatures is a joke. Of course we aren’t! The heart decides what it want and then entrusts the head to devise a convincing rationale for it. For the most part, people read mainly so as to confirm what they already believe. It is amazing on social media how few are the people who change their minds on anything. Accordingly, for every verse in the Bible about the head, there are ten about the heart. Few of Jesus’ parables would stand up to rigorous critical thought—some of them barely make sense. But they target the heart, which is his goal. 

I also can’t believe how many may be stumbled over what Rulf or any fellow scholar will say—or even what complainers will say. “Well, we could be wrong on that,” I say to almost all of it, and move on. Do they in any case, speak to the fundamental reason that I was attracted to Jehovah’s Witnesses in the first place? “Finally—a religion where the people at the helm are smart and can be counted upon to say nothing wrong!” Did I say that? Does anyone? Of course not! There was religious truth found no where else, and we soon enough discovered (few did not know it already) that it was carried in earthen vessels. There was a humility found in in few places, not to mention a united brotherhood where the byword was love. This is why whenever persons are ‘stumbled’ over something like Rolf’s input, they are simply seizing on something to justify a decision already made in their heart. Why can’t they just say, “I’m like Demas—I prefer the present system of things?’ Why can’t they say as with from John, “I’m leaving because—I gave it a good whirl—but I’m just not one of their sort?” 

I also note that Rolf has not left the faith, and that he does not declare he intends to. Nor do I take for granted that he will be given the boot, even though he seems think it a foregone conclusion. Maybe—I certainly won’t be shocked if it goes that way—but I’ll take it as a done deal only when it is done.

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The Loaded Words - Infallible, Inspired, and Perfect

It is revealing to me that those who taunt JWs endlessly over just how “inspired” are the ones at the helm today seem to take for granted that there should be ones who are that way. It gets even more crazy when words such as “infallible” are thrown in. “Perfect” makes matters worse. 

“Look at what Brother Jackson said,” they gloat. “Guess he’s not so infallible after all, is he?” they say. They take for granted that for the Christian life to have validity in modern times, there should be ones who ARE infallible, who can and SHOULD spoon-feed members, so there is a lessened need for faith, and hopefully (from their point of view) none at all.

These ones wouldn’t have lasted two minutes in the first century, when the ones taking the lead were manifestly not that way. A local speaker with a dramatic flair enacted a fictional encounter with an irate householder from back then, a forerunner of today’s “apostates.” “What! You’re going to tell me about love?” he hammers the visiting brother. “Look, I was there at that meeting of Paul and Barnabas after John took a leave of absence! You see those two kids there? [motioning to his young children playing on the floor] They do not fight as I saw those two grown men of yours fight! Why don’t you learn love yourself before you come here to lecture me about it!”

(For his part, Barnabas was determined to take along also John, who was called Mark.  But Paul did not think it proper to be taking this one along with them, seeing that he had departed from them from Pam·phylʹi·a and had not gone with them to the work.  At this there occurred a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other; and Barnabas took Mark along and sailed away to Cyprus. - Acts 15:37-39)

For that reason, I shy away from such loaded words as “infallible.” Maybe the insistence on infallibility is a holdover from the Catholic Church, which for centuries insisted that the Pope was that way. “Inspired” will also blow up in your face, because you end up doing backflips in translating just what the word should effectively mean now—or even then, when the “leading men” fought like kids. I even put the word “apostates” in quotes, increasingly, because it comes in many varieties and it means different things to different people.

It is enough to say that the written record, which includes the dealings and interactions of imperfect ones at the first-century helm, is deemed “inspired:“ All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

This is so even though it includes the account of Peter’s astounding cowardess (given his leadership role at the time) of changing his association once the Jewish-based brothers came on the scene—before they did, he mixed freely with the Gentile-based Christians; after they did, he “withdrew” from them.

(However, when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class.  The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barʹna·bas was led along with them in their pretense.  But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?” - Galatians 2:11-14)

It is still “inspired.” It is enough for us to go on. It is enough to make the Christian “fully competent” and “completely equipped for every good work.” Even though it includes the blunderings of the “uneducated and ordinary” ones that were the leaders back then—and the leaders today hold to that pattern—that is still the case. It is not at all what opponents today think that it should be—a true and unfailing human anointed one to wipe away every tear and smooth the path, removing all pebbles so that the people of God can sail along blithely without really having to develop faith. 

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Ben Franklin Gets Jilted and Flip-Flopping on the Resurrection

Ben Franklin courted the widow of his good friend, but the woman turned him down flat: ‘I could never be untrue to my husband.’ Then, in a dream, he went to heaven and met his good friend. They exchanged pleasantries until the friend presently said: “You must meet my new wife. She’ll be along soon.” Ben Franklin couldn’t believe it. ‘Your earthly wife is more loyal than you!’ he said. She turned me down cold on your account!’ ‘That’s too bad for you,’ the friend said. ‘She is an excellent woman and I missed her terribly at first, but now it is time to move on.’

As Ben Franklin grumbled, the ‘new’ wife showed up and it was Ben’s own deceased wife! Ben Franklin turned his rebuke on her, but she said: ‘I was a good and loyal wife to you for 50 years. Let that be enough for you!’

It is a mangling of Luke 20: 34-36, most likely, botched, but nonetheless used as a starting point. No need to say what is wrong with it. Suffice that it addresses the changed nature of relationships after death:

“Jesus said to them: ‘The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.’”

For the longest time Jehovah’s Witnesses took those verses to mean that those who lost a spouse in death would not reunite in the earthly resurrection. The words were in response to a beef of the Saduccees, who did not believe in the earthly resurrection. Jesus went on to speak of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who will benefit from it.

After a certain public talk years ago that had mentioned the verse, a sister raised her had during the chairman’s remarks, something I had never seen before and have not seen again. She was new in the faith, widowed, and she looked forward to reuniting with her husband in the resurrection. She quizzed the chairman until the speaker himself raised his hand and said he would clarify the verse for her afterwards.

About 30-40 years ago, the Witness organization looked at the verses anew and said maybe she could reunite. They didn’t want to be dogmatic. Maybe the verses just applied to those having the heavenly hope, as they were the ones in abundance back then. It can’t even be said of earthly ones “neither can they die anymore.” They can, and surely will, if they show a rebellious spirit. I mean, if you were raised up to life on a paradise earth, would you grumble about the ground rules? And who is the that is "counted worthy" of an earthly resurrection? Essentially, all you have to do to qualify is to show up; it is "the righteous and the unrighteous" who benefit.

Grousers who say that Jehovah’s Witnesses flip-flop on doctrine miss the point. They’ve never said they didn’t. They do it all the time, re-examining verses in the face of accumulating knowledge. It has been called ‘the light getting brighter.’ (Proverbs 4:18) It has also been called tacking. The only ones who say they can’t do it are the grousers themselves.

That said, the major teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding the nature of God (no Trinity), the nature of the soul (not immortal), who goes to heaven (not everybody good, but only a minority), have been firmly in place for over a century. Ridding the false doctrines that make knowledge and a close relationship with God all but impossible is part of the job of ‘the messenger preparing the way.’ The first thing you do in preparing the way for a building project is to take out the trash.

(the Ben Franklin writing is called 'A Proposal to Madame Helvetius')

Franklin-Benjamin-LOC-head

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