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TrueTomHarley

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TrueTomHarley last won the day on August 10

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  1. You can’t “compare” because you don’t anything about the first topic, and you appear to think it is a sin to find out.. So how are you going to “compare?” You wouldn’t even know that Eastern culture emphasizes group if I hadn’t had said so. Your knowledge of the first topic is zilch, and your knowledge of the second is so tainted by childish petulance and manifest ill-will that it is not far from zilch. So I (and probably I can speak for @Arauna, too) don’t appreciate being summoned before a master of ceremonies who doesn’t know anything. It was a trolling comment when you put it on @JW Insider’s thread, where it had absolutely no place and was just inserted to insult people who hold to your old faith. Rebuked for putting it there, you now put it here? Do it without involving Aruana and me, for your zero knowledge of the “worldly politics” you wish to compare doesn’t increase just because you have entered a different room.
  2. Thank goodness he does not make that claim. And the “true anointed” is a figment of his imagination. From the story: If the judge said “that he had no option but to jail” the man, since his “past has finally caught up with you,” then justice is served. He betrayed a trust, and two kids were scarred. Still, even in CSA, all things are relative. One would think that Epstein & Maxwell would have served to teach the Sentinel what a “sex beast” is.
  3. Chivchalov made a similar point about Russia. ‘Why doesn’t the outcry of human rights organizations have more effect to alleviate the persecution of our people?” I asked him. “Because they [Russian human rights people] are too few, and besides, Russia views human rights organizations as largely a tool of Western meddling, he said. In the end, these have the most credibility to us, and from this one may extrapolate into situations not involving JWs. Any other testimony from any other source is subject to revisionists claiming it was faked or skewed or misleading or incomplete—it may or may not be true—but with JWs that will not be the case. Why? Essentially, it is because we know the integrity of our people. We know that when they tell of what happened to them, it happened to them. We know of their indifference to politics. We know how they interact with the governments of whatever country they are in: “Find out what the king wants for social order, and then do it. That way, he will leave us in peace to worship God.” Witnesses don’t care about changing the government, and everyone knows it. For the most part, this works well in all countries except for authoritarian ones. “We are not in America,” the cops told our brothers while beating them.” (I think it was in Surgut) When our own human rights are treated with such disdain, I can accept that it happens to others, even if political biases may skew reports this way or that. With regard to communism, I’ve no doubt that human rights groups do not identify with “the good that we are trying to achieve here” and in some cases, have achieved They focus on “Bill of Rights“ type of human rights—freedom of speech, of worship, of assembly, of press, of protection from search and seizure.” They do not call out the West for manipulative or predatory economic policy. But then, to my knowledge, they don’t do that to the East, either. It is not the type of rights violation that they are into. Maybe they should be, so as to be more “even-handed,” but they don’t. To that extent, I guess it is fair to say that they do have Western leaning. ‘The group is more important than the individual,‘ is the Eastern mentality going back thousands of years, grounded in Confucianism. The individual rights, even needs, are subservient to the group in such a culture. In the West, it has been the opposite—rights and needs of the individual override that of the group—and human rights groups identify with the latter orientation
  4. Bart comes from an evangelical background. In his blog, he speaks rather poignantly of tragically losing his faith, something that happened once he began to examine the Bible through “critical thinking.” He never had a firm foundation to stand on. I would lose my faith, too, if I had to uphold all the nonsense that is part and parcel of church teaching. One can almost feel sorry for him—but one does not, because he does not feel sorry for himself. He has a good gig going—top selling author, nifty website with a paywall that donates to charity, a reputation that prompts the Great Courses Lecture series to engage him as a professor, chair of a university religion department, where he destroys the faith of his students—but since it was founded mostly on the doctrines of churches, it was barely defensible in the first place. No, he has a good gig. Nobody has asked me to chair a Great Courses series, nor (I assume) you. If not atheist, he certainly is hard-agnostic, unless he has had a recent change of heart. I often wonder what would have happened if those now atheist had been presented accurate Christian teachings first—would they have gone atheist in that case? A naive me once assumed that the answer would be no. Sometimes it does work that way, but these are crazy times, and if you keep up with atheists, you find that they are likely to detest JWs most of all! It does not help that JWs have “accurate” Bible teachings. The allure of breaking free from any “control” is just too enticing to be countered by a fresh look at Bible teachings. There is no way that those on the “cramped and narrow road” are not going to be derided as “cult” members by those on the broad and spacious one. This is so predictable that I kick myself for not having predicted it long before—it is so obvious. To break free of “control” holds irresistible appeal today, and the atheists add (and even put foremost) those who would claim to represent God, as our brothers do, “controlling “ people by that means.. So, to them, JWs are the worst of the lot, because most churches have watered down “speaking in God’s name” to “God works in mysterious ways,” and have pretty much learned to roll with whatever happens, being content to add a smiling “God” emoji to events. Most have made their peace with the world—they seek to hopefully modify it for the better, and think the view of JWs far too extreme—even “murderous”—that God means to replace it. I see happening in these threads that 4Jah hopes I will comment on—but I probably won’t because they are “same-old same-old,” and few, if anyone, had written on the topic more that me, it forming a significant portion of ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates’—I see arguments included that are irrelevant to the topic of concern, such as how various ex-JWs strive to present the picture that obedience “to men” is essential if you are a JW, how they are under enormous pressure always from top leaders, and how JWs terrify children with expectations of Armaggedon. (How about when Newsweek surveys the world scene, and presents the magazine cover “What the *@#! Is Next?” I countered.) The “obedience” that JWs are expected to render is no more than following directions of the teacher, the coach, the mentor, the employer, the counselor, the traffic cop—something that was once the most unremarkable thing in the world, but is now presented as selling out one’s soul. JWs have not changed—the world has. One may look no farther than it’s collective response to Covid 19 to see what chaos follows. Mark Benioff, the Salesforce founder, the fellow who purchased Time Magazine, has stated that if everyone had masked up for just three weeks, the virus would have been defeated. Of course, this is what JWs have done, because being obedient to authority is not an issue for them, but the illness is out of control today because the world ridicules obedience and challenges the authority of any who would advance it. The very first sign that this would escalate to disaster occurred very early on—when toilet paper sold out, despite knowledge that the virus doesn’t hit people that way. I told Hassan, the CultExpert, he of the “FreedomofMind” hashtag, that my people have behaved far more responsibly than his—you don’t think some will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government where they can go with their “rules?” It doesn’t matter if the world’s obsession with “independence” ends in disaster—as it surely will—as it is with Covid 19. To be free of “control” is just too strong a pull. Those on the broad and spacious road—that’s what makes it broad and spacious, ones on it listen to no one but themselves—will invariably present those on the cramped and narrow road as manipulated by a cult.
  5. Here it is: Bart Ehrman’s Heaven and Hell—Any JW Could Have Written This Okay, start by walking it back. They couldn’t. Not all of it. But the gist of it they could, and that is a claim that few others can make. When I read Bart’s contribution to Time Magazine, it was as though I was reading the Watchtower! The occasion is the release of his latest book Heaven and Hell, (he has over 30!) in which he speaks in absolute agreement about topics that Jehovah’s Witnesses know well—and have known well for over 100 years—topics such as soul, psyche, Sheol, Gehenna, notions of heaven, and notions of hell. A very few of his paragraphs wouldn’t fit—mostly the ones that are muddled. But for the most part, the content of his book is very very familiar. It is so familiar that I even begin to float the notion that he keeps up with Watchtower publications—the writers there are far and away the most vocal proponents of the ideas he has picked up on—some might say the only proponents. Not that he would accept the Watchtower as a source in itself, I don’t think. But what I can easily picture is him keeping abreast of their writing and the explanations that only they have, then tracing it back to original sources, whereupon he verifies it all and presents it as though his own research—which it would be, minus the credit for who put him on the right track in the first place. Okay, okay—maybe he’s not ripping off their work. Probably he is not. He is a respected scholar, after all. But in that case, the scholarship of the Watchtower must be elevated, for it is the same—and their critics generally assume that they have none. Take a few excerpts of Erhman’s article: Neither Jesus, nor the Hebrew Bible he interpreted, endorsed the view that departed souls go to paradise or everlasting pain. Unlike most Greeks, ancient Jews traditionally did not believe the soul could exist at all apart from the body. On the contrary, for them, the soul was more like the “breath.” The first human God created, Adam, began as a lump of clay; then God “breathed” life into him (Genesis 2: 7). Adam remained alive until he stopped breathing. Then it was dust to dust, ashes to ashes... When we stop breathing, our breath doesn’t go anywhere. It just stops. So too the “soul” doesn’t continue on outside the body, subject to postmortem pleasure or pain. It doesn’t exist any longer. The Hebrew Bible itself assumes that the dead are simply dead—that their body lies in the grave, and there is no consciousness, ever again. It is true that some poetic authors, for example in the Psalms, use the mysterious term “Sheol” to describe a person’s new location. But in most instances Sheol is simply a synonym for “tomb” or “grave.” It’s not a place where someone actually goes. and later: Most people today would be surprised to learn that Jesus believed in a bodily eternal life here on earth, instead of eternal bliss for souls, but even more that he did not believe in hell as a place of eternal torment. In traditional English versions, he does occasionally seem to speak of “Hell” – for example, in his warnings in the Sermon on the Mount: anyone who calls another a fool, or who allows their right eye or hand to sin, will be cast into “hell” (Matthew 5:22, 29-30). But these passages are not actually referring to “hell.” The word Jesus uses is “Gehenna.” The term does not refer to a place of eternal torment but to a notorious valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem, believed by many Jews at the time to be the most unholy, god-forsaken place on earth. It was where, according to the Old Testament, ancient Israelites practiced child sacrifice to foreign gods. The God of Israel had condemned and forsaken the place. In the ancient world (whether Greek, Roman, or Jewish), the worst punishment a person could experience after death was to be denied a decent burial. Jesus developed this view into a repugnant scenario: corpses of those excluded from the kingdom would be unceremoniously tossed into the most desecrated dumping ground on the planet. Jesus did not say souls would be tortured there. They simply would no longer exist.” Anyone who knows anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses knows that these are exactly their views. Is Bart just taking our stuff? No—it can’t be—I wouldn’t make the charge. But I can be forgiven the suspicion. Do a search on any of these terms at JW.org and you will find what he now says. Maybe it is simply basic research that any decent scholar could uncover, as Bart has, but in that case it is all the more damning for the world of churches. Not only do they make no mention of these things, but they consider most of them heresies. Witnesses were there before he was born. He can’t not know it. When I search his own blog (which I am jealous of—he has a good gig going, and I like the platform), virtually nothing about Jehovah’s Witnesses comes up, apart from a post about the name Jehovah itself, in which he misses entirely the import of God having a name rather than a title, to focus on its Latin letters, and thus declaring it false. I found nothing else beyond a few brief, usually derogatory comments from contributors, to which he typically would answer that he is not very familiar with it. Nobody espouses on these ‘afterlife’ views of his like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and apart from them almost nobody else does—and yet he never mentions Witnesses. This seems parallel to when Ronald Sider suggests four reforms that he thinks would solve the problems of the evangelical church (that they don’t practice what the preach), stating that nobody implements these reforms, and ignoring completely that Jehovah’s Witnesses do, and that yes, they do go a long way in solving the problem he has identified. “Most people today would be surprised to learn that Jesus believed in a bodily eternal life here on earth, instead of eternal bliss for souls, but even more that he did not believe in hell as a place of eternal torment.” says Bart. We’ve taught this for 100 years and, yes, they are surprised. Why? Because such things were never taught at church. Instead, the near-universal teaching of church Christianity is that when you die, you go to heaven if you were good, and hell if you were bad. That is what just about everyone of church background thought before becoming a Witness. I have said before that, given the universality of the heaven/hell teaching, you would almost expect it to be on every other page of the Bible. Instead, apart from a handful of verses that can be tortured for that meaning, it is never encountered. It is among the reasons that, on becoming Witnesses, people are wont to say that they have “come into the truth.” The explanations are so simple. The Bible comes together and makes sense. After all, if God wanted persons in heaven, why didn’t he put them there in the first place? “There are over two billion Christians in the world, the vast majority of whom believe in heaven and hell. You die and your soul goes either to everlasting bliss or torment (or purgatory en route). ...The vast majority of these people naturally assume this is what Jesus himself taught.” states Bart. Yes, of course they would assume it. Most church teachings—people simply assume that they are to be found in the Bible. For many, the you-know-what hits the fan when they discover that they are not. From this arises the saying among Witnesses, not heard so often as it once was, that new ones ought to be locked up for six months until their zeal is tempered with common sense. There was a pesty fellow who used to challenge me a lot on trinity and other church teachings. One day he sent me a video of “4 famous church leaders“ hubbubing in conference, in which he said they acknowledged that everlasting life on earth was the actual Bible hope—it wasn’t just JWs who taught it. I couldn’t get far into it—it was just too smarmy. I told him I’d take his word for it. Though these leaders knew and discussed the actual role of the earth as our permanent home, the problem was “Bible illiteracy” among the masses, he said. If the problem is Bible literacy among the masses, I replied, why don’t they fix it? Isn’t that their job as leaders? Ones taking the lead in our faith manage to keep people on the same page. So what to do with Bart? Is he taking our stuff? Nah—I guess not. If the four famous church leaders knew things that they hadn’t bothered to tell the masses, maybe it is out there for Bart to find as well. I have not been especially kind to him in previous posts, and maybe I should walk some of it back. He presents as though an agnostic/atheist in his Great Courses lecture series and annoys me on that account. I’ve written about ten posts, none of them kind, with several more in the hopper that I may or may not ever get to, and I may have to rethink some of them. Fortunately, I have already made it clear that nothing is personal—it is ideas that you squabble with, not the persons who have them, who are more-or-less interchangeable placeholders. But he had better be careful. He joins the ranks of people like Bruce Speiss, Jason Beduhn, Joel Engardio, and Gunnar Samuelson, who write something that squares with JW beliefs, and spend the rest of their days on earth denying that they are one of them. Occasionally, they must even issue statements to the effect of “Look, I'm not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t agree with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t even like Jehovah’s Witnesses.” But it’s too late! The damage has been done! Sigh....what's a scholar to do? Agreeing with Jehovah’s Witnesses is detrimental to one’s career, and yet Jehovah’s Witnesses are right on so many things. And the things they're right about, they have been saying for a long time, so it’s embarrassing for cutting edge scholars to endorse what the JWs, for the most part unscholarly and ordinary folk, have long maintained. Fortunately (or unfortunately) he veers aside frequently enough so people may not make the mistake. Such as: “Some thinkers came up with a solution [shortly before Christ] that explained how God would bring about justice... This new idea maintained that there are evil forces in the world aligned against God and determined to afflict his people. Even though God is the ultimate ruler over all, he has temporarily relinquished control of this world for some mysterious reason. But the forces of evil have little time left. God is soon to intervene in earthly affairs to destroy everything and everyone that opposes him and to bring in a new realm for his true followers, a Kingdom of God, a paradise on earth. Most important, this new earthly kingdom will come not only to those alive at the time, but also to those who have died. Indeed, God will breathe life back into the dead, restoring them to an earthly existence.” (italics and bolded text mine. “Some mysterious reason”—he doesn’t know that?! after nailing it on so many other points!) Not to mention his muddled: “And God will bring all the dead back to life, not just the righteous. The multitude who had been opposed to God will also be raised, but for a different reason: to see the errors of their ways and be judged. Once they are shocked and filled with regret – but too late — they will permanently be wiped out of existence.” Sigh...it is as Anthony Morris said: “Just stick with publications of the slave, and you will be alright.” The moment he goes “off-script” he comes up with some half-baked “nah nah—told ya so!” diatribe from his born-again days that he grew out of (and they do not look upon him kindly for that reason). One of my own chums pulled me back from the edge, just as I was about to go apoplectic and accuse Bart of plagiarizing us: “I don't think all of this is that new to Bart Ehrman. I caught some of this on his site. But I had never noticed before, that he now sees Jesus' actual words in pretty much the same sense that JWs believe,” he said. He had spent the few dollars to subscribe to the Bart site for a month, so as to ask a question or two. I read some of the Bart site, and he makes a better impression on me there than he does as Great Courses lecturer. My chum said of our own work and of Bart’s: “I think that the Watchtower (Bible Students and JWs) have done an enormous service to the religious world by "putting out the fires of hell." It has taken the last 100 years, but I believe that there are a lot of churches where the Watchtower has provided a strong influence so that those churches and their teachers are not so likely to emphasize the teachings that make God seem like a monster. For good or bad Ehrman does have influence, especially on new students, and this last book might even help a bit in opening up some opportunities for our own work.” Odd “allies” we may yet become. ... It may be that one should take a new look at Time Magazine, as well. I subscribed to Time a little over two years ago, enticed by an absurdly low rate, with the thought I would cancel when the auto-renewal hit. When it hit, I did cancel, because the magazine—once a powerhouse, but now upstaged amidst the digital revolution, seemed no more than “same-old same-old” to me. Nothing wrong with it, but neither was it unique. My curiosity had been peaked by the low subscription rate. I now think super low rate was because a sale was pending, and they wanted to enhance whatever subscriber base they still had to pretty it up for purchase. Mark Benoif has bought it, he who is the Salesforce company founder—a guy worth 6 billion, I am told. He joins Jeff Bezos who bought the Washington Post, and Lourene Jobs (widow of Steve) who bought a majority stake in Atlantic. Not sure how the new owners will change the brands they bought, however I can’t picture this Ehrman piece in the old Time (or in fact, anywhere). This may be evidence that it is no longer “same-old same old.” In an effort to compete, these outlets may be going places that they have never gone before.
  6. I once wrote up a summary of a Dr. Who episode. The protagonist, a “Dr Lazarus,” had invented a machine that gave him eternal life—he stepped in old and emerged young. However, just about that time, attacks from a monster (!) began occurring. Dr. Who uncovered the problem. In repairing ancient DNA to restore what contributed to life and reset what sabotaged it, the machine had selected bit of DNA that had long ago been rejected by evolution! ”Hmm, yes, indeed plausible,” all the atheists watching the show reflected, whereas if you mentioned anything about God to them, they’d throw up. Is belief in the interference of aliens enough to assign one to the loony bin? I’ve no problem if someone says that it is. However, I also note that the “Simulation Theory,” that all reality today is but a simulation on a superior being’s hard drive, gets serious play in academics circles today—it is not immediately laughed off court as is should be, and as it certainly would be if it also coincided with “wrong-think” regarding some current political matter.
  7. A favorite line, when trying to distance ourselves from the 24-hour days-of-creation people, has been to point out that “we are not the religionists that put dinosaurs on the Kentucky ark.” I heard via social media report that the Kentucky ark was suffering a devastating decline in tickets sales. I responded that this was a problem in the original ark, too—tickets sold out after just eight were purchased. My wife and I once stayed at a Best Western in Cincinnati, a last minute change of destination because our original one was beset by hurricane. The next morning in the breakfast room, nearly everyone was headed out for a day at the Ark, most of them with kids in tow. We did not go, of course, but saw some other sights of the city. Animal-wise, we went to the Cincinnati zoo, where I learned that was the zoo at which a boy fell into the gorilla enclosure, prompting the gorilla to be shot to death. They had a little memorial to Harambe there. I am not sure why, but a top ten list for ‘best zoos in the country’ includes three from Ohio—Cincinnati, Columbus, and Toledo.
  8. I don’t why the obvious answer hasn’t occurred to you. You must forbid any comment to have anything to do with the preceding one. All comments will thereafter line up like ducks just to defy you. Dave McClure, a circuit overseer from long ago put it best: “There are people who will not do something until you tell them they can’t.”
  9. Too late. I just tried to leave the house and my head got stuck in the door jamb. Of course not. I’m amazed you can do what you do. No complaints here at all. I thank you for providing such a forum and being so indulgent with characters like me who push the bounds frequently.
  10. Nothing wrong with that in my view. Not draconian. Maybe I should have started my own new topic. The reason I didn’t is that people (such as yourself) do not see new topics and have to ask where they are. Also, plenty of others chime in at will with non-sequitors—the old pork chop was adamant that was the best way—so if they can do it, so can I. Besides, didn’t JWI praise me in an earlier comment for bringing his thread back on topic? The old hen didn’t see fit it acknowledge THAT, did she? Maybe I will join 4Jah and Cesar in dark muttering about how some people get all the breaks, like ...ahem....”ex-Bethelites”...while other truth tellers, even those with ‘true’ as part of their username, get sent to the woodshed! Never fear. Not to worry. Right in my post I said I have no problem were it switched, and it should be and has been. I figured it was JWI that did it, but it seems it was @The Librarian. All is well. Plus, as a bonus, 4Jah jumps in with the only topic he knows, a topic he tries to make the lead topic anywhere, but there is no way he can do it with a secular discussion of China. He may not even know where China is and, at any rate, seems to think it wrong for a Christian to know anything other than the Bible. His topic isn’t relevant here, either, but he imagines he can get away with it without being assigned a separate thread, as he should be. Meanwhile, I get to write up a refined post on the Time Magazine/Ehrman article, building upon what is already said, and even benefiting from feedback from some of his dopey remarks. When done, I’ll put it on my blog and here if it is not too repetitious.
  11. Originally I wanted just TomHarley as a username, but it was already taken. I thought of RealTomHarley, but it sounds too much like Trump. So I settled on TrueTomHarley. I never intended the moral implications that the name carries—that was just an unanticipated plus.
  12. Fear not, the comment is here: Plus, you-know-who has joined in—the prospect of which probably contributed to my comment’s removal. Note how he broods that comments on “worldly” topics such as the discussion here is part of an evil smokescreen.
  13. All one has to do is read this sample statement of Bart already quoted: “Most people today would be surprised to learn that Jesus believed in a bodily eternal life here on earth, instead of eternal bliss for souls, but even more that he did not believe in hell as a place of eternal torment.” Why would they be “surprised?” Because such things were never taught, despite a multitude of scholars most churches defer to. Instead, the near-universal teaching of church Christianity is that when you die, you go to heaven if you were good, and hell if you were bad. That is what just about everyone of “Christian” background thought before becoming a Witness, because apart from some occasional deviation on some minor point, that is what nearly all churches taught. I have said since that, given the universality of the heaven/hell teaching, you would almost expect it to be on every other page of the Bible. Instead, apart from a handful of verses that can be tortured for that meaning, one never encounters it. Bart says something similar in his article, which I did not quote above: “There are over two billion Christians in the world, the vast majority of whom believe in heaven and hell. You die and your soul goes either to everlasting bliss or torment (or purgatory en route). ...The vast majority of these people naturally assume this is what Jesus himself taught.” You have forgotten entirely the typical experience of most who become Witnesses, excepting only those born into the faith, of amazement at learning the truth of the scriptures for the first time. Some of them had made a lifelong search, and the crystal clear explanations of the Witnesses they had not seen anywhere else. I will grant that there may be a few quirky backwater faiths that have a piece or two of it, but nobody that has put it all together into a coherent whole. That typical experience is where the expression “coming into the truth” originates. It is an expression still in common use by Witnesses, and used no where else that I know of. Nobody says they have “come into the truth“ when they become a Methodist, for instance There was a pesty fellow who used to challenge me a lot on trinity and other church teachings. One day he sent me a video of “4 famous church leaders“ hubbubing in conference, which he said acknowledged that everlasting life on earth was known to them, too, as the Bible hope—it wasn’t just JWs who taught it. I told him I’d take his word for it. Though these leaders knew and discussed it, this fellow pointed out, the problem was “Bible illiteracy” among the masses, he said. If the problem is Bible literacy among the masses, I replied, why don’t they fix it? Isn’t that their job as leaders? Our religion manages to keep its people on the same page. No, this accurate take on scripture is not found just anywhere, for anyone to pick up on. In its entirety, it is found in only one place. You must have known that at one time, if you became a Witness in the usual way. But I fear, in harping on human imperfection, you have long ago gone the path of Titus 1:15: “All things are clean to clean people, but to those who are defiled and faithless, nothing is clean, for both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” You just keep harping on one thing, and so plainly can’t see the forest for the trees. Unfortunately, you have shown time and again that you cannot. You would never have found it on your own. You would have been thoroughly flummoxed by church doctrine that sweeps away the verse as though it Is nothing. An evangelical relative of mine, for example, attributes it to Solomon losing God’s spirit as he started multiplying wives for himself and saying some sour things that he would never say were he in his right mind. Your typical oversimplification of everything means that you miss most points: I never said that. I said just the opposite: Okay? He didn’t “copy.” Technically, he’s doing nothing wrong—if indeed, he is doing what I theorize.
  14. After praising me for bringing the thread back on topic, JWI will maybe curse me for branching it off again—and Arauna, too, for that matter, because it really is a branch. He may even use his secret powers to make this a separate thread—I could live with that if he did. The fork in the road here is Aruana’s link to Time Magazine. Enticed by an absurdly low rate, I subscribed to Time two years ago, with the thought I would cancel when the auto-renewal hit. When it hit, I did cancel, because the magazine—once a powerhouse, now upstaged amidst the digital revolution, seemed no more than “same-old same-old” to me. My curiosity had been peaked by the low subscription rate. I think it is because a sale was pending. Mark Benoif has bought it, he who is the Salesforce company founder—a guy worth 6 billion, I am told. He joins Bezos who bought the Washington Post, and Lourene Jobs (widow of Steve) who bought a majority stake in Atlantic.
      Hello guest!
    Not sure how the new owners will change the brands they bought, however Time Magazine has just run an article about afterlife topics (soul, psyche, Sheol, Gehenna, heaven, hell) that mirrors almost exactly Watchtower publications—I can’t picture this in the old Time (or in fact, anywhere). And—the author is my new nemesis: Bart Ehrman! The occasion is the release of his latest book (he has over 30) ‘Heaven and Hell.’
      Hello guest!
    I have not been especially kind to Bart, and maybe I should walk some of it back. Or maybe I should double down. Is he coming around in his views? Or is he (more likely, I think, but only suggested—far from proof) ripping off the views of the Watchtower without crediting them? Not that he would accept the Watchtower as a source in itself, I don’t think. But what I can easily picture is him keeping abreast of their writing and the explanations that only they have, then tracing it back to original sources, whereupon he verifies it all and presents it as though his own research—which it would be, minus the credit for who put him on the right track in the first place. A few segments for the Time article, which I think is quoted directly from his book: Neither Jesus, nor the Hebrew Bible he interpreted, endorsed the view that departed souls go to paradise or everlasting pain. Unlike most Greeks, ancient Jews traditionally did not believe the soul could exist at all apart from the body. On the contrary, for them, the soul was more like the “breath.” The first human God created, Adam, began as a lump of clay; then God “breathed” life into him (Genesis 2: 7). Adam remained alive until he stopped breathing. Then it was dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Ancient Jews thought that was true of us all. When we stop breathing, our breath doesn’t go anywhere. It just stops. So too the “soul” doesn’t continue on outside the body, subject to postmortem pleasure or pain. It doesn’t exist any longer. The Hebrew Bible itself assumes that the dead are simply dead—that their body lies in the grave, and there is no consciousness, ever again. It is true that some poetic authors, for example in the Psalms, use the mysterious term “Sheol” to describe a person’s new location. But in most instances Sheol is simply a synonym for “tomb” or “grave.” It’s not a place where someone actually goes. and later: Most people today would be surprised to learn that Jesus believed in a bodily eternal life here on earth, instead of eternal bliss for souls, but even more that he did not believe in hell as a place of eternal torment. In traditional English versions, he does occasionally seem to speak of “Hell” – for example, in his warnings in the Sermon on the Mount: anyone who calls another a fool, or who allows their right eye or hand to sin, will be cast into “hell” (Matthew 5:22, 29-30). But these passages are not actually referring to “hell.” The word Jesus uses is “Gehenna.” The term does not refer to a place of eternal torment but to a notorious valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem, believed by many Jews at the time to be the most unholy, god-forsaken place on earth. It was where, according to the Old Testament, ancient Israelites practiced child sacrifice to foreign gods. The God of Israel had condemned and forsaken the place. In the ancient world (whether Greek, Roman, or Jewish), the worst punishment a person could experience after death was to be denied a decent burial. Jesus developed this view into a repugnant scenario: corpses of those excluded from the kingdom would be unceremoniously tossed into the most desecrated dumping ground on the planet. Jesus did not say souls would be tortured there. They simply would no longer exist.” Is Bart just taking our stuff? You know, I think he is. If I do a quick search of this site—
      Hello guest!
    , nothing about Jehovah’s Witnesses comes up, apart from a post about the name Jehovah itself, where he misses entirely the import of God having a name rather than a title, to focus on its Latin letters, and thus declaring it “false.” But I found nothing else. Nobody espousing on these ‘afterlife’ views like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and apart from them almost nobody does—and yet he never mentions them. I suspect we have found the ‘secret source’ that points him to much of his scholarship. Where are these items found in our own literature? I find it hard to keep track of anything, these days, now that all is digitalized and we have taking to presenting matters in bitesize tidbits. Basic study guides will show up much of it, however, and certainly the Insight Book—a Bible encyclopedia. But a favorite of my for being both concise and complete is the 1974 book ‘Is This Life All There Is?’ We were there light years ahead of him, on all topics except for those in which he is muddled, such as: “Some thinkers came up with a solution that explained how God would bring about justice, but again one that didn’t involve perpetual bliss in a heaven above or perpetual torment in a hell below. This new idea maintained that there are evil forces in the world aligned against God and determined to afflict his people. Even though God is the ultimate ruler over all, he has temporarily relinquished control of this world for some mysterious reason. But the forces of evil have little time left. God is soon to intervene in earthly affairs to destroy everything and everyone that opposes him and to bring in a new realm for his true followers, a Kingdom of God, a paradise on earth. Most important, this new earthly kingdom will come not only to those alive at the time, but also to those who have died. Indeed, God will breathe life back into the dead, restoring them to an earthly existence.” (italics and bolded text mine. “Some mysterious reason”—he doesn’t know that?! after nailing it on so many other points) Not to mention his muddled: “And God will bring all the dead back to life, not just the righteous. The multitude who had been opposed to God will also be raised, but for a different reason: to see the errors of their ways and be judged. Once they are shocked and filled with regret – but too late — they will permanently be wiped out of existence.” Sigh...it is as Anthony Morris said: “just stick with publications of the slave, and you will be alright.” The moment he goes off-script he comes up with some half-baked “nah nah—told ya so!” diatribe from his born-again days. Part of me wants to get my head around this more. Frankly, he’s got a good gig going—I’m jealous over some of it—and so I wonder where his head is at. He presents as an agnostic/atheist in his Great Courses lecture series. I’ve written about ten posts, none of them kind, with several more in the hopper that I may or may not ever get to. Most of them I posted here as well as on my site, but I can find them easier on my site:
      Hello guest!
    Now—back to those Uyghurs...

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