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JW Insider

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  1. I think that such cases will be very rare based on the new processes. As much as I am concerned about how closely elders seem to accept WTS processes as "law" it's good when these rules have been corrected and we can expect them to be followed to the letter.
  2. The motive should not matter, if the charges are truthful. The difference in motive will sometimes show up in the level of carefulness and honesty. So badly motivated persons will often make claims that are not going to be useful as "constructive." They may even backfire in a court of law and discredit the usefulness and value of claims that could have otherwise been constructive. We often use a scripture that we apply to the congregation, when it actually appears to have more of an application to "secular" authorities: (Leviticus 5:1) . . .“‘If someone sins because he has heard a public call to testify and he is a witness or has seen or learned about it and he does not report it, then he will answer for his error." So, there is precedent for bringing to light those activities that "love" the darkness.
  3. This is a good point. I agree with it. When people keep talking about child sexual abuse and it becomes the big topic in the news, then it is easy to kind of impose child sexual abuse as the intended meaning even when we hear the term child abuse, which does not necessarily imply sexual abuse.
  4. Actually, @4Jah2me and @Witness are right in this case. *** w09 10/15 p. 5 par. 10 “Be Aglow With the Spirit” *** . . . the “other sheep” are not part of the composite body of Christ . . . . And @Witness is right that this is a difference between the Watchtower teaching and the "theology" that Allen Smith has claimed to believe. And if Allen Smith thought this was right you can best believe that it will also be defended to the nth degree by: @Bogdan11 @John H Slaughter @Alithís Gnosis @DespicableME, @alvi languore insanabili @Grey Reformer @Tom Henry etc., etc., etc.
  5. This is important, too. One of the lists kept by the Society, that was discussed in a recent court case, actually concerned a list of pedophiles who had been converted through the prison ministries, persons who had been convicted of their crimes before becoming Witnesses. There has been some "social media" confusion, perhaps deliberate, among the list of Australian cases and victims, a central list of congregational "judicial" disciplinary actions against congregation members (including elders) being kept at the United States headquarters, and lists of persons in situations such as the formerly convicted "known" pedophiles. It should also be repeated that some family members who have been victims of incest have been very adamant about not allowing such lists to be exposed anywhere for fear it will result in prejudice against the victims in society or even in the congregations. Historically, this has been a big reason for covering up the crime of incestual rape, in many societies, but unfortunately it is sometimes spouses and other relatives who push for covering it up and thereby override the need to protect the child.
  6. And if you have been able to keep up . . . this is a VERY predictable synopsis, with several good points but also biased and misleading in several places. I skimmed bits of it all the way through and can see that she is definitely picking at the weakest (legally questionable) and most hypocritical of the statements made by Democrats. These hearings are a grandstanding show, produced by the Democrats, that shoots them in the foot at every other turn. But they don't seem to notice because they are, as Jeanine says, shortsighted and blinded by hatred of the President. Of course, it's more of a hatred of the fact that they might not be able to keep a foothold in the White House for another 4 years. But they are only making it worse for themselves, at this rate. Still, it's very early in an inquiry process, where all the expected rules of law don't kick in yet. But the Democrats still try to pretend they have the upper hand, legally, and this has made for some stupidly funny statements by Democrats, like the ones Jeanine Pirro points out. (e.g., "Hearsay can be better than direct evidence.") The Democrats' stupidity and hypocrisy does not mean that Trump is not a racist, and I think he showed himself to be a racist by how quickly he used racist "hooks" to get involved in politics, starting back with the Central Park Five. And he used racist "hooks" for attention a few times again in the years before a racist "hook" about Mexicans that kicked off his 2016 campaign. But his racism is not what is on trial here. What's supposedly on trial is that Trump's concern over some potential political corruption will quite probably, if investigated, simultaneously help his election chances, because the corruption was tied to a Democratic opponent. And perhaps he used an opportunity to test a new foreign president's loyalty to the current US administration in asking for a public statement about that new president's findings after a requested investigation into this political corruption by Democrat opponents in the country of that new president. And then of course a "quid pro quo" of holding back a weapons deal until that new president complied with the investigation and the public box announcement. Even if all this turns out to be true, how is that so different from the long attempt by Democrats to investigate potential politically related corruption tied to Trump, which also initially involved foreign agents to gather the investigative materials/dossiers? If one was so important to national security (per Democrats) then why wouldn't the other be tied to national security? And since we're talking about Ukraine, we can note that Biden bragged about HIS role in the "quid pro quo" on camera which he also tied to the investigation of corruption going on in Ukraine. They hypocrisy is astounding.
  7. It's quite possible you are right about the current eight old men who may have never personally touched a child (in an abusive way). It's my impression that they are also quite innocent of any such issues. But I don't think you can ever say that anyone in such a position as in the GB cannot comprehend such wickedness in others. They have dealt with a lot in their lives and they have been forced to deal with the topic even if they didn't want to. And not to deal in gossip, but I can speak almost positively about the following situation, at least I can speak for the trustworthiness of the brothers who gave me the information. What I heard about several years ago from a friend in Writing, were things I talked about before the ARC, and they came up again from another brother after I discussed the ongoing ARC with him. It actually started with two members of the Governing Body, who seemed not to want to speak to each other. Both became GB members in 1974 and this issue was visible during the time I worked around them. One had previously been assigned to a leading position for the Branch in Australia and the other had previously been assigned to work in Japan. The brother assigned to Australia was recalled suddenly and demoted to become a Circuit Overseer in the Midwest in the United States. After many years of rebuilding his reputation, through Circuit then District work, he finally was asked to join the Governing Body in New York. The explanation I was given was that the demotion was punishment for being involved in accusations of child sexual abuse. (I never knew if the accusations had been in Australia, the USA, or both, but a later separate rumor had tied him to a case in the United States through a Witness doctor.) At any rate, by 1974, this issue was considered to have been from long enough in his past for his appointment to the GB. By 1991 one of the GB members was heading the Writing Dept, and the once-accused GB member was heading the Service Dept. You probably already know that the October 8 1991 Awake! had an article on Child Sexual Abuse that included "worldly" therapy as a possible solution for some victims, and this head of the Service Dept hated the article. (For that matter it's probably true that most members of the Governing Body apparently thought that worldly psychotherapy was little more than something worldly or even satanic.) But by now, there were Witness psychotherapists and psychiatrists, and they appreciated the article. Mostly the article was appreciated by CSA victims, and tons of letters of appreciation came in. For an April 1992 follow up, the head of Writing decided to print some excerpts from some of those letters of appreciation and the head of Service actually "stopped the presses" to have the article replaced while the head of Writing was out of the country. The head of Service didn't get his way; presses started up again, and you can read the article in the April 8 1992 Awake!. But, as head of the Service Department, he sent out several of the most well known Circuit and District Overseers on a campaign in 1992 to speak with abuse victims to let them know they should never reveal anything about their abusers and their abuse, or they could be disfellowshipped. One of those men in the intimidation campaign is now on the Governing Body. You can take these are merely unsubstantiated rumors, and I admit that I have no evidence to substantiate them. I can only speak to the honesty and track record of the brothers who told me about them.
  8. Closest thing I remember to this idea was here: *** w95 1/1 p. 8 par. 16 Triumphing Over Satan and His Works *** 16 This appears to be especially necessary today in view of the bizarre music with which Satan is drenching this world. In some cases there is a direct connection to Satanism. A report from the San Diego County (U.S.A.) sheriff’s office stated: “We had a concert down here where the band had 15,000 kids chanting ‘Natas’—that is, Satan spelled backwards.”
  9. There's trust as in the type of trust you have in a trusted friend, and blind trust in someone who turned out not to be what you thought they were. I don't think of the organization as the religion we trust in. True religion is helping people who we can best help - materially, spiritually, emotionally -- with the proper unselfish, loving motivation, and therefore without spot from this world. An organization, i.e., a publishing house, researchers, coordinators, a legal department, etc., are just tools that a group of sincere Christians might be expected to utilize for a more efficient method of getting the word out in the midst of a complex world. It's not something to trust blindly as if it is Christianity, or even as if it represents true Christianity. (These are my opinions, of course.) I think that a lot of persons get baptized as Witnesses with a kind of naive view that the organization is more than it really is. This might even be true of new GB members who are asked to join that particular committee of elders. Perhaps they are surprised at the difference between reality and expectation. But I think they are better prepared, since they have already worked at various levels of the organization. I didn't mean to call myself JW Insider here. I intended to use "The Bible's Advocate" but when I joined someone was making a claim that was easily clarified by someone who had worked directly with members of the GB before. I had worked with members of the GB from 1976 to 1982. I worked directly for a member of the GB from about 1979 to 1982. I planned to tell some of the stories from that period, and therefore called myself "JW Insider" and allowed it to stick, in spite of some unintended implications. But I mention this because if a person can work with (and around) some of these same persons for a few years, then they are already prepared for an experience that is quite different from the expectation of the average Witness. They have seen them in a bad mood, they have seen them curse and yell, they have seen them make mistakes, they have seen their prejudices, seen them connive, possibly even be dishonest. I have seen all these things among a couple of them, but I'm obviously talking about exceptions to their usual conduct and demeanor. And for MOST of the members that I knew, I never saw any of these things, they always came across as perfect "saints." But I would not have been surprised to learn of a different side, because of what I had seen in a very few others, even if I only saw it rarely. I also had an advantage of an uncle who was a circuit overseer, and a grandmother and grandfather who seemed to know all the "big shots" from headquarters. (My great grandfather was a Chicago Bible Student who traveled with Russell and spoke at conventions with him.) But most of these relatives were apt to say things like, "Jehovah puts half of us here to test the other half," when referring to some of these same persons. Before going to Bethel, I heard a Circuit Overseer evoke laughter from another by asking, "Can you imagine how the Apostle Paul would have blown up if anyone told him he had to keep all these numbers [records] on everyone?" So, I probably come at some of these human imperfections from a different perspective than most. I'm hardly surprised at anything. My grandparents who knew Rutherford thought he was sleazy. My table head at Bethel had a personal "hatred" of him. But Russell himself was apparently dishonest, too, sometimes. Both Russell and Rutherford weren't defined by these errors, because their greater goal was to spread the word about the Kingdom hope amidst expectations of the imminent end. And now, we've gotten rid of most of that chronology rhetoric and spend more time highlighting the positive, life-changing aspects of the message. And I see a great value, like a pearl, in the overall set of teachings we stand for. And I do tend to fall back on how the Israelites had asked for a king and got a range of kings, from evil to good, but none perfect, of course. I am out for the rest of the day without much access, so I won't spend much time revisiting issues already covered. And I know the answers won't be satisfactory anyway. I should also say that I hope you don't lose your spirituality. Many exJWs do. Also, I wouldn't make too much of the fact that I used the word "apostate" when referring to the challenges you offer. I don't think of you as apostate as long as you are in a stage, as you describe, of anger and confusion. That could be understandable. I would hope you could see that there is a beautiful baby in that bathwater before you throw it all out.
  10. First of all, before I begin answering, I wanted to say that I have long expected that any JWs who go online to defend their views publicly will see more and more of what is beginning to happen here. The specific challenges coming from you (@4Jah2me), @Witness and @Srecko Sostar (and a few others) have lately seemed like a stronger "anti-JW onslaught" than this forum has seen before. Personally, I think it's a good thing that more and more JWs are prepared for just this type of barrage. At the moment they are all coming apparently from ex-JWs that we would call "apostates." But the Internet easily allows anyone to become capable of bringing these exact same challenges to us. So they are not specifically "apostate" challenges. Of course, I've brought up some of these same challenges myself, because I think we all need to think about them before we answer with our typical, traditional responses. I believe that we need some doctrinal adjustments, and therefore, I'm not exactly defending the GB position against your challenges. I like it that @TrueTomHarley is standing in for me, but he is probably also concerned that, on my own, I'll end up throwing the GB under the bus. I'm not talking about some of the minor throw-away complaints (like 'Bible Studies are really just Book Studies' and we're trying to replace the Bible with these books, etc.). The GB challenge is probably the most difficult to address in a way that can rationalize some recent inconsistent statements, the play between spirit-directed and inspired, modern "apostolic" precedent, the GB's request to be trusted while admitting that some of the teachings and processes are bound to be mistaken now and then. And we have the challenge of when and whether conscience comes into play, whether legalism has gone too far, and truly difficult doctrines to defend such as overlapping groups within "this generation" and overlapping blood components with blood fractions, etc. Yes. The GB dictate to the congregations and, unless the dictate is seen as unconscionable or unscriptural, the members of the congregations are expected to obey. Naturally, this can go too far, but the reason for this should be easy to understand. For the following situation, for now, you might just want to insert your own view of what a proper Christian is, if you completely reject the possibility that a JW can be a true Christian: Hypothetically, a Christian may find himself/herself in a place with no fellow Christians to associate with, and all efforts to make disciples might fall on unproductive soil. But let's say that a Christian in this situation is happy and zealous for what he has learned from the Scriptures, has followed Jesus' command to make disciples so that others will know what Jesus taught, and is successful in converting 40 persons to Christianity and they all, because of their Bible reading, want to establish a community congregation to try to follow closely their view of the 1st century congregations as closely as possible. As everyone has unique abilities, and was converted at various times, the congregation will naturally have members of various levels of experience, and they likely want an orderly process for meeting and teaching and participating in the activities that they agree are important and consistent with their beliefs. Not everyone will want the same meeting times, not everyone will be teaching from the platform, or leading or suggesting the activities. There will be compromises as to meeting times, topics discussed, the depth or simplicity of those topics, how much to spend on activities, building maintenance, color of carpets, etc. Most will appreciate that those who qualify as "elders" Biblically, will also be capable of making those decisions in a way that benefits the majority in the congregation, even though it's not perfect, and no decision will be right for all members. Some of the decisions will be compromises, some will be about process, and very mundane things. But some will be about teachings, and it's likely that new things will be learned, and questions will be asked that make persons rethink something that might have been taught a different way than before. I hope you can see that, even with JWs out of the picture, you could probably accept this entire situation as a possible, and even normal, Christian congregation. So now we take it a step further: The excitement and joy in this congregation of 40 soon becomes 80 and 160 as more and more share in Jesus' command to make disciples. They are now spread over 100's of miles, and need 4 congregations. This turns to 400 miles and 20 congregations. We would expect that some of the qualified elders would be chosen and invited to give talks and instruction in some of the other congregations? News of congregation events and experiences in one congregation might want to be shared to build up those in another congregation? Perhaps a newsletter is in order that's shared among all 20 congregations? Perhaps even some of the more successful methods of making disciples could be shared? And these 20 congregations might find it nice to have a chance to gather together will all 20 congregations of those related to them in the faith on special occasions. It will soon be useful, perhaps necessary, to have certain members of these congregations specifically involved in (assigned to) tasks related to coordination, writing, topics for sermons, administration duties, and some assurances that their doctrines are being "double-checked" against the Bible so that one congregation is not teaching something that another congregation would find unbiblical or even offensive. The doctrine checking would no doubt go to those elders most experienced at teaching and preaching and who had experience visiting multiple congregations. I believe that most of these ideas would not be offensive to you, when you think of how naturally they occur in various denominations all around the world. With JWs, a large body of doctrine has been built up, and remodeled, over the last 135 years or so. Those elders who act as elders of multiple congregations instead of just one local congregation will see themselves as the "guardians of doctrine." (The term, as used by Brother Jackson, sounds too much like a protector of traditional doctrines, but I think he truly meant it as guarding the doctrines so that they remain consistent with the Biblical "constitution" even when amendments are necessary.) What I'm saying is that it is quite natural that we have a GB function. And I don't think it starts with how much they think of themselves, but the very high regard they have for the unique value of the doctrines in their care that makes them accept that they are handling a very special function. So they have looked for a Biblical way to highlight that value and ended up creating a doctrine (in 2012) about the GB being the same as the FDS, not even including the "Helpers." It's based on the one parable that highlights the way spiritual food is distributed to the entire congregation. (It appears they also considered using the parable of the loaves and fishes, but this one has too many participants in the distribution.) To me this is a doctrine that will likely need to be adjusted back to what it was from about 1928 to 2011, where the few in charge of writing and publishing doctrines only spoke of themselves as "representing" the rest of the FDS. Their function would be the same, however, with or without their current explanation of the FDS parable. But that doctrine itself has caused some problems in that it tends to highlight the importance of 8 persons when the entire focus should be on the overall value of the unique set of doctrines. I don't think any of us should have a problem, however, with the idea that a small group of elders who are seen as "faithful and discreet slaves" would perform many of the same functions as the Governing Body are now forming. They are elders, and they deserve respect. Most JWs think the GB are the equivalent of the FDS, so this is not a problem anyway. But I'm sure there are many who have already put this idea to the test, and it makes sense to them. Many others have put this idea to the test and they realize, as I said above, that it could be a doctrinal mistake, but would have no great effect one way or another if the doctrine were changes. (In fact, I have found long-time Witnesses who thought this had been the doctrine for nearly 50 years, since the GB arrangement.) Also, those of us who have remained JWs, even after questioning that particular doctrine, do so because we believe the majority of the basic doctrines being "distributed" are correct, otherwise there are other denominations to look into. My own criteria, based on the Bible, immediately knocks out just about all the other denominational options at a glance. I don't see the same huge difference. Paul spoke of the removal of the gifts of inspiration. So even if they were inspired, we should not expect inspiration to take the same form today. Also, the GB model themselves, not directly on the apostles, but on the Council of elders at Jerusalem, which was best known for correcting a big mistake that came right out of their own congregation, from under their noses, which Peter and James (not an apostle) had even hypocritically participated in. Also, even the apostles were not "inspired" at all times. No one goes to the door with the overlapping generations message. Our message is that the time for this wicked system is short, and that the Kingdom offers the perfect solution, so lift your heads up and rejoice, and if you really want to do some good, join us in spreading that same message to others. Haven't seen that invoked for a while. It gets drummed up by exJWs from some old 1950s Watchtower. It's been used again since 2000, but it's in the context of preparation for persecution as a possible way to be "cautious as serpents yet innocent as doves." The basic idea is not to give more information than a person is entitled to, especially so as not to put our brothers and sisters unnecessarily in harm's way. Yes. I know the quote, and I've heard others like it. It's an imperfect statement made by an imperfect man. But the motivation from context is the idea (perhaps patronizing) that most of us are like children who need a lot of reassurance. A parent wants a child to show trust even though the parent knows that he or she will make mistakes. But because the motive of most parents is loving, those mistakes will rarely outweigh the value of a child's trust in the parent. A good shepherd will show love to the flock under their care as if they are like his "children." I'm not offended because I think the phrase was properly motivated.
  11. A hundred thousand of these "models?" I sure hope they still have enough money to find some decent clothes to wear!
  12. <sarcasm on> What's this BS I hear about the supposedly bad Nazi's under Hitler. Did you see what Argentina and the UK did in the Falkland Islands? I'm never going to believe the Nazi's were bad again! </sarcasm off>
  13. Yes, it is a man made rule, but based at least in part on scriptural principles. Also these are man-made rules coming from those who should be in a better position to see a wider set of statistics and experiences as they get reports from all around the world. Elders are sometimes called "epi-skopos" in Greek, meaning overseers. When we consider those who literally watch over a flock closely, we might expect them to count the number of sick, the number who die, the number eaten, the number of sheep in various categories: mottled, speckled, young, old, male, female. They also know the dangers of taking them through "Wolf Ravine" or making them wade through "Poison Water River." Similarly, if the elders working at headquarters got 100 reports of divorces right after holding an international convention in Las Vegas or Amsterdam, but no reports of divorces every time they held the same size international conventions in Helsinki or Reykjavík, I think it would be a wise man-made rule not to schedule international conventions in Las Vegas or Amsterdam. Not all traditions make the word of God void. The WTS had a program to pay for Law School for selected individuals already working full time at Bethel or other full time service who showed promise or aptitude for such. This program was dropped, and you can be sure that there those at HQ who were counting the cost, much like those shepherd counting the survivors of "Wolf Ravine." They reverted back the previous system of using volunteers who had finished Law School before becoming Witnesses. Age 17. But all scores that count are measured at the end of Junior year, not Senior year of American High School. Therefore it requires a conscious choice to pick the maximum number of advanced placement classes which could result in the best choices and scholarships and would therefore be a path chosen by age 15 or 16 at the latest. Local papers print up the bio given by a Guidance Counselor office of each high school reporting on the scores of their "Valedictorians" and those who are accepted by certain colleges. Asked and answered in a prior post. So far, I believe well more than half of the GB says. I believe that since WE, if we hope to be noble-minded individuals, are responsible to search the Scriptures and see whether these things are so, then this must be WE not only THEM. And there are many ways to tell someone about the Kingdom hope, the paradise, the resurrection, God's purpose, God's government, and why it's got to be a sight better than what we are putting up with now. Sometimes the CLAM workbook is spot on, sometimes it doesn't fit my style at all.
  14. This might be true, but I think that you have had some trouble pinning this "GB worshiper" label on people here. You probably see a lot of potentially contradictory ideas that seem like cognitive dissonance to you. But this might just be a point that many thousands of JWs have reached, while trying to make sense of the extent of human imperfection in trying to put a human structure around good spiritual concepts. We often look back at Israel's past, or even note the imperfect leadership of the early Christian congregation. Do we expect to be any better? Jesus said of the Pharisees and other religious leaders in his day that they had put themselves in the seat of Moses, and some ended up making "disciples" who were worse off than before they started. Yet what did Jesus also say about some of the same leaders? Matthew 23:2-4 says: 2“The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.… We can still follow, even "obey" religious leaders, even when we know they are very imperfect. Any organized religious structure will end up being led by men who are imperfect, and therefore by men that we can never trust 100 percent, no matter how well they think they are doing. This is really what we must always expect: "Put not your trust in earthling man (even princes/nobles) in whom no salvation belongs" "Let God be found true though every man be found a liar." Still, Christianity requires a human, social structure because it is a "brotherhood." It's a place where we can comfort others and be comforted, encourage others and be encouraged, feed and clothe and visit others, and be fed, clothed, and visited as needed. But those who would be "leaders" at the very top of any organization will always tend to grasp at reasons to explain and hold on to their authority. They may not well understand this authoritative position they are engaged in, and human nature will lead them to continue in the type of behavior that works best for persons in authority. They will tend to look for what they believe is the best solution to any religious questions (doctrine, process), and then make a "command" out of it. It's the reason that we don't see a lot of public admission that a question has them vexed. Instead, in order for authority to work (for most of us) they must make a private decision about what solution works the best (least number of unexplained discrepencies) and then teach this "solution" (often conjecture) as if it is gospel. (1 Peter 4:11) . . .If anyone speaks, [let him speak] as it were [the] sacred pronouncements of God;. . . (NIV) If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so. Some of these "oracles" will attract sycophantic followers. That's also human nature. Russell acted as one of those "oracles" and so did Rutherford and Fred Franz, and David Splane to an extent. Just like in the first century congregation, people followed Paul, or Apollos, or Peter, who were all fine ministers. Some of us want to think of these modern day examples as being apostle-like. Some might even be apostle-like, but it's up to us to never just accept them this way, but to put all new teachings to the test. (Revelation 2:2, 14) . . .and that you put to the test those who say they are apostles, but they are not, and you found them to be liars.. . . you have there those adhering to the teaching of Baʹlaam, . . . you also have those adhering to the teaching of the sect of Nic·o·laʹus. . . . you tolerate that woman Jezʹe·bel . . . I say to the rest of you who are in Thy·a·tiʹra, all those who do not follow this teaching . . . Notice that Jesus' instructions to the 7 congregations was never about waiting for a governing body of apostle-like persons to tell them what was true and false teaching. It was the congregation's own responsibility to put to the test anyone who wanted them to be accepted as apostle-like. They were responsible to compare it to the true original apostolic source (for us, the Biblical source of teaching) "Therefore, continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it. . ." (Revelation 3:3) As an aside, I would also say that the congregation is a place to inculcate the existing Bible teachings, not a place to find "new" teachings. It's a place to keep our spirits up, and keep our love alive, so that we can endure. Jesus addresses those in the congregations, but ends this section by making a point about how they all would stand to be judged as individuals. (Revelation 3:19-22) 19 “‘All those for whom I have affection, I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent. 20 Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and take the evening meal with him and he with me. 21 To the one who conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.’” We're never going to get away from leaders who are imperfect and who will, by human nature, tend to ask us to believe and act only in a certain way. This is useful for some, especially at first. But we should also mature: (Hebrews 5:14) 14 But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.
  15. Accidentally saw her on a late show with her daughter hawking a book. (After all, with Hillary, the late show had booked a Hawk.) Don't mean to start any rumors, but her robotic laughter had been turned up to "11" and made her sound a bit drunk, to me. Also, her daughter answered questions about needing to be protective of her mother because of all the mean things people like Trump were saying about her. It seemed sad and patronizing to poor little Hillary, as if Chelsea was speaking about taking care of a defenseless out-of-touch Alzheimer's patient.
  16. This could be true for some. No one was telling me I couldn't go to college, though. Their concern was that it would set a poor example to appoint an elder and then the congregation simultaneously found out I was going to college. But if a congregation needs elders, there is almost no difference in the amount and types of assignments given to ministerial servants. Even as an MS, I had been giving 5 different public talks (3 from the outlines), and was still being invited to give some of them in different congregations every few weeks. I believe I had either the 15 minute "Instruction Talk" or a 15 minute part on the Service Meeting about 3 times a month. And I was not told I had to pioneer, while attending college, but had offered this idea as a way to show that college was a not a full time priority in my life. No one held me to it anyway, as I only could manage pioneering for two more years. In my third year I was offered a great job and started it before graduation. But still, it's always good counsel to give to anyone who is thinking about college, that they think about their priorities before making a decision. I've given the same counsel to others, but I make sure they still know it's their own choice, and we wish them all the best outcomes. But then 30 years later, the issue comes up again with my own children. The need to step down as an elder if your kids go to college is not enforced consistently, at least in the United States. When children get large scholarships it can make it more sensible economically to go to a four year college, but it still gives the impression that you are putting economic and material interests ahead of the urgency necessary based on the shortness of the time to the end. The issue of setting a good example is not just for the congregation, but also the fact that you might not even have your own family in "subjection." Of course, kids go to college when they are 18, and I don't believe in "subjection" at this point in their lives. I believe in learning from my kids, and letting myself be subjected to hearing about what they are learning. I am not concerned too much about the Society's position on higher education. At this point, the economic benefits are too often a trap due to the high cost and doubtful employment outcomes. And although I'm sure I'd be welcomed to return as an elder, I am happy with all the things that can be done without the title. Also, you might know that I have a lot of difficulty navigating platform assignments that promote shunning, 1914, the sign, the generation, the "presence," and few other things on which we might well be right, but are too dogmatic about. I'm happy to wait until the pendulum swings in the direction of less dogma. Titles are not important.
  17. In the U.S., an Associates Degree can be akin to a trade certificate, but I think @Arauna is correct in highlighting the difference. It's also my experience that since Associates Degrees are usually given by the same colleges that give 4 year Bachelors Degrees, that most local bodies of elders will not consider them different enough without an explanation. It's possible to focus on a two-year degree geared to a specific trade or profession, and it's true that the latest WT focused on 4 year degrees and higher as the more "dangerous" types of education. This has been the implicit cut-off in prior articles, too. From personal experience, even 35+ years ago, I was pioneering after Bethel and had just been recommended to join the local body of elders in my congregation. I told them that I would be going to college to get a 4 year degree for computer programming. This would delay the appointment until I graduated and might be seen as rejecting the appointment altogether if I was not able to continue pioneering as I thought I would be able to do. Today, by the way, there are many ONE and TWO year certificates one can get in programming which will make you MORE qualified for specific jobs in IT than many four-year degrees. In practice, these are often picked up by persons who already have a FOUR year degree and had trouble getting a job. In fact for a person with a FOUR year degree, they can usually pick up a separate programming certificate for only a few additional weeks of computer programming, or a PMP for project management. There is a still a prejudice at many large companies (like the one I just left) to hire FOUR year degrees for everything, even if the degree was not relevant to the job. They just liked the fact that they were hiring persons who had proved the ability to communicate and expect a certain level of general knowledge and vocabulary. I hired philosophy and English majors many times for programming and IT jobs, as long as the person also had prior experience in a company doing similar IT projects to our company. When my own children began getting good college offers due to AP classes and high school class standing, I decided I would want them to go to college if they wanted, and they all did. The first two lived at home to attend NY universities, but the youngest lived 150 miles away, on campus. I wouldn't have to give up being an elder for the first two children, but since the newspapers had already made a big deal out of my youngest, (revealing his college choice) I would not be able to remain an elder.
  18. Don't know if it's related, but I heard of a lawsuit or two where a Hall and property were just recently remodeled and spiffed up to be worth, 3 million, for example, but the Society was so anxious to cover financial expenses that they forced a quick sale for only one million, and now the congregations are separated to various Halls, not-so-nearby. A brother was removed because he wanted to raise this into a financial issue. But there might also be a kind of problem showing up that some get too attached to the properties that they have helped to find and fund. (Like a rich person that donates a lot for a church, or buys a pew to get his name on it.) As you say, I'm not sure that each of these cases has been handled with proper communication. Also, I'm not sure the term 'financial benefit' is fully appropriate either. In some cases the impression was 'financial necessity.' I heard talk of financial instruments (bank loans) that would have been embarrassing not to be able to meet. The Catholic church is not afraid to announce that they have had a diocese here and there on the verge of bankruptcy, which is sometimes really no more than loan restructuring. But I don't think anyone is ready for terms like this to be used about us, yet I believe that there was a real concern about one such loan. If it becomes public elsewhere, I will post some of the information I base this idea on. If not, consider it just unsubstantiated rumor. Not worth repeating.
  19. That was intended. Also I believe the autism spectrum is very useful in helping to understand autism in its various forms. Math is also all the rage in schools today, but it doesn't mean we should reject it. For those already suffering, it is much more practical to deal with symptoms. In the long run, yes, it is much more useful and revealing to put the emphasis on causes. You might notice that I was just brainstorming about the various "levels" of benign and malignant apostasy so that we would think about the ways we judge others. I think it's revealing, and not necessarily in a bad way, that two persons can spout the same apostate views about the Bible or the Watchtower Society, and only one of them gets disfellowshipped. The other still says the same things but he will often get full association with his Witness family and relatives. I think it shows the desire to have a form of natural affection, which by definition is "natural." (2 Timothy 3:3). I think some of us are here are good Witnesses without many qualms at all about association (online at least) with those who have clearly apostasized. On the "spectrum," so to speak, I actually spoke a lot about causes, and very little about the symptoms. Of course, I wasn't too specific about either, as I was just trying to come up with some sample categories to show just how the types can be all over the place, and sometimes our own treatment of persons, and the Society's treatment too, is necessarily inconsistent. And one of the points is that we have a personal responsibility to watch out for our spirituality, and can't just follow what others tell us to do in every case. Imagine the possibilities if some Witnesses showed a lot more love to persons in the @Witness household, who were not DF'd, and how this might result in a good Witness (no pun intended). Or imagine the possibilities if some Witnesses decided to associate with persons in the @Witness household without any concern to their own spirituality, and became "infected" with thought that resulted in doubt and a lack of faith. The point is that we are sometimes on our own, and must always be careful about anyone and anything that we associate with. Jesus associated with tax collectors, but we are also given a Biblical responsibility to treat some in the congregation as tax collectors, even some who might be called a brother. Hard to say. Personally I think there is room for some individual conscience in a lot of areas that are currently matters of "legalism." This does not mean that anyone can expect to depend completely on their own conscience without appropriate counsel when it seems to affect their spirituality. But the GB have given a lot of thought to human rights, and have made a lot of progress in many nations of the world to defend right to assembly, right to our own religious practices, right to preach from door to door, right to "demand" blood alternatives, right to be seen as ministers, or as a legal religion. To our long-term benefit, GB members have acknowledged human rights more and more in interviews about child abuse, child endangerment, education, corporal punishment (especially seen before judges in custody cases, presentations before the ARC, questions fielded by the "PR"/correspondence departments, etc). In a practical way, some of the practice hasn't caught up with the "human rights" rhetoric yet.
  20. They should definitely be always finding better ways to use dedicated funds. I agree. But I never thought that doing something because it "saves money" implies hoarding money up somewhere. When the GB and accounting offices at Bethel have announced cost-cutting measures, they are saying that it "saves" money to be used elsewhere. When they have announced that money coming in isn't keeping up with money going out, they are definitely not in a position to hoard money. But I have never had the impression, as Anna has, that they are completely hiding this idea of needing to find new ways to save money. It also seems like a bit of a sacrifice for some of us in more affluent countries is helping to fund new and better Kingdom Halls in countries where the Kingdom Halls are in need of repair. I also think that some funds had been put into several translation offices which has obviously paid good dividends in terms of results. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but because of my son's work project in Anguilla, I have been going there just about every year for a few years now, and last year spent a week of the time in St. Maarten, where most jets land, because Anguilla's airport is so small. The Kingdom Halls in St. Maarten were still in terrible shape even after some remodeling and rebuilding, and I was surprised at this. I saw one on the French side of the island, too, in bad shape. The brothers told me that it's not good to build something that looks so much nicer than the neighborhood around you. Perhaps Melinda knows if this is typical in the Caribbean.
  21. 620 MPH would be amazingly fast. Currently China's bullet trains only manage about 250 MPH peak, although they are working on a maglev design that would allow a max of 600 KmPH (372 MPH). Their test trains already reach 311 MPH. Of course, one difference is that the current bullet train service in China already carries people, not just packages, and already connects all the major cities in China. Google/Wiki says: China's 10 Fastest Trains — World Records and Benefits for You. Shanghai Maglev trains are currently the fastest trains commercially operated in the world, with a top commercial speed of 431 kph (268 mph) and a top non-commercial speed of 501 kph (311 mph).
  22. The more typical saying from people in Christendom who learn about the possibility of heaven is something like this: "I don't care if the Lord just wants to use me as a doormat, I just want to be with Lord because I love him."
  23. This is usually true in the common usage of the term, and in the majority of Bible uses, too. I was only going by the definition, and how it is used in ancient Greek and sometimes in the Bible. *** it-1 p. 126 Apostasy *** This term in Greek (a·po·sta·siʹa) comes from the verb a·phiʹste·mi, literally meaning “stand away from.” The noun has the sense of “desertion, abandonment or rebellion.” (Ac 21:21, ftn) In classical Greek the noun was used to refer to political defection, and the verb is evidently employed in this sense at Acts 5:37, concerning Judas the Galilean who “drew off” (a·peʹste·se, form of a·phiʹste·mi) followers. The Greek Septuagint uses the term at Genesis 14:4 with reference to such a rebellion. [(Genesis 14:4) 4 They had served Ched·or·la·oʹmer for 12 years, but they [[apostasized, LXX]] in the 13th year. However, in the Christian Greek Scriptures it is used primarily with regard to religious defection; a withdrawal or abandonment of the true cause, worship, and service of God, and hence an abandonment of what one has previously professed and a total desertion of principles or faith. The religious leaders of Jerusalem charged Paul with such an apostasy against the Mosaic Law.
  24. I was just remembering how easy it is to criticize, and how it made us feel superior that we could make fun of the beliefs of others. I also remember how it struck me that the Watchtower had been teaching this same thing for about HALF of its existence (50 out of 100 years) when I first learned that Russell had defended another point of view from the Bible. According to you, if Russell had the spirit of Jah he would have understood it, too, but he never did. I don't judge him that harshly.

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