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Any comments on jw.org's Online Bible Study Lessons?


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The 144,000 is a yawner. Nobody cares. I never go there. To clarify a little, some care, but it is analagous to the wonks on media absolutely obsessed over the doings of government and all its ma

Yes and no. Yes, in that you can reach a point, per your own judgement, where you say: 'I've pretty much done all I can do as a teacher. The public Bible studies at the Kingdom Hall represent you

I think your astute encapsulation of my modus operandi is just about right when you include my bracketed edit. I suppose one could make a semi-scriptural case for holding back and another for not hold

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29 minutes ago, AveragePub said:

Back to the six month limit?

Yes and no.

Yes, in that you can reach a point, per your own judgement, where you say: 'I've pretty much done all I can do as a teacher. The public Bible studies at the Kingdom Hall represent your best path forward at this point.'

No, in that you don't write anyone off. You can visit forever if you see fit, bringing specific points, bits of encouragement, or invitations, to your student's attention. You just may feel free to ratchet down your attention for a given person, but you never have to vacate entirely unless you want to.

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1 hour ago, JW Insider said:

Not funny! (Just my personal opinion and judgment call.) Have you read the new book about JWs and the Watchtower Society called "Ellen's Song"? It seems to have derived almost entirely from Internet discussions and rumors.

Though I was initially mortified that one describing himself as brother would give away the fort, spilling dirt here and there (and alas, Allen the Terrible seems never to have gotten over it), I am gradually coming around to his way of thinking. I like the model of the Christian who has seen dirt, but nonetheless stays loyal despite it. It is the essence of the talk: Acquiring a Heart of Wisdom, which I used to love to give and which is seldom done well. In this case, JWI chooses to spill, not in Grand Central Station, but in some tiny backwater channel of the internet run by an arthritic hackeyed has-been of a librarian (the old hen) and he makes his posts so long that the stupid people will get bored and move on.

I am going there myself, spilling dirt to some degree, and already have gone there in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash:

After studying one book seemingly written for no other purpose other than to harp on dress and grooming and harangue about field service, the conductor said to me: “Tom, why don’t you comment? You know all these answers.” It was a turning point. He was right. I did know them all. It was time to stop sulking. From the circuit overseer on down, they had stirred up major chaos in the family. They had been heavy-handed and clumsy - but never malicious. And it had never been Jehovah. I had read of ill-goings-on in the first-century record. Congregations described in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 were veritable basket cases, some of them, but that did not mean that they were not congregations. Eventually things smooth out. Eventually 1 Timothy 5:24 comes to pass: “The sins of some men are publicly known, leading directly to judgment, but those of other men will become evident later.” “Later” may take its sweet time in rolling around but it always does roll around. Should I stumble when it becomes my turn? I’d read whiner after whiner carrying on about some personal affront or other on the Internet. Was I going to be one of them? 

...Recovery didn’t happen overnight, for I have a PhD in grumbling. Indeed, I was so good at it that few noticed I grumbled, for I had never left the library – I had only strayed from the same page. Now it was time to get on the same paragraph. Was that book truly a dog? They’re not all dazzling flashes of light, you know, for the treasure is contained in earthen vessels. Or was it the conductor? Or was it me? No matter. If life throws you for a loop, you thank God for the discipline and move on. ‘For those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, in fact, he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son,’ the Bible says. Tell me about it. ‘Half of those at Bethel are here to test the other half,’ the old-timers said. Yeah – tell me about that, too. 

What I will never be is a reporter taking on the mission of telling Bethel what it is doing wrong, as though I knew or felt I could assume the responsibility. Even of most of the supposed JW supporters on this forum, it is mostly a matter of discussing the degree to which they are wrong. I won't go there. I will take it as a given that since they are human and follow in the footsteps of the first century congregation leaders, of course they will make mistakes here and there. Nobody should expect otherwise.

Though JTR will gleefully seize upon the nugget of dirt and throw away all context, usually imputing the most vile motives to those in authority that he disagrees with, I have come to think that it doesn't matter. They will, and do, make up dirt anyway. Might as well give them some John Wayne True Dirt.

I don't consider myself above the theocratic organization, much less authorized or interested in 'exposing' their missteps, and I could care less about wonkish things.  If a video is posted of something confidential, I don't go there. Not everything not made public is the smoking gun. To be sure, I may eventually go there if something becomes absolutely crucial, as it did with the confidential memos Shiwiiiiiiiiii posted, because I eventually inserted them into the Money chapter of Dear Mr. Putin, with the observation that each one of them was entirely what you would expect given the Bible verses used to justify them in the first place. And when JTR excitedly posts video for me to see, I seldom go there. What is this obsession with allowing ones' enemies to serve up your menu for you? Didn't he get the sense of Thomas Jefferson's counsel not to argue with entrenched idealogues? Now, if JWI posts it for me, that is a different matter.

However, I like the idea of suffering setbacks in life, even some in the context of theocracy that would not have happened outside of it, and recovering from it rather than evangelistically broadcasting every little petulant beef about anyone or anything that ever did one wrong, an inconvenient truth that makes the internet so tiresome. Nobody would ever say that there is not more 'peer pressure' within God's organization than outside of it, for example. Peer pressure in the Christian context is generally a good thing, as persons 'exhort one another to love and fine works.' But occasionally it runs amuck. 

The downfall of Western life today is that it is exclusively focused upon the rights of the individual as a near sacred quest, and any mention of a 'greater good' is met with a "Whoa! That sounds like Stalin talking!" Not everything can be about the individual. You know the pendulum has swung too far in the individualist direction, to the point of upending the planet from which it is suspended, when that happens.

 

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6 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

In this case, JWI chooses to spill, not in Grand Central Station, but in some tiny backwater channel of the internet run by an arthritic hackeyed has-been of a librarian (the old hen) and he makes his posts so long that [normal] people will get bored and move on.

I think your astute encapsulation of my modus operandi is just about right when you include my bracketed edit. I suppose one could make a semi-scriptural case for holding back and another for not holding back. My conscience tells me to not hold back, but I still hold back on some topics, and only "spill the beans" where those topics have already been brought up by others elsewhere. I'm sure I've said it before, but one of my primary concerns is the natural tendency to defend what we don't really know. This can end up making the defender ultimately look like a fool to someone who knows better, or has seen the strength of the evidence. But worse, it can lead someone to engage in dishonest dialogue.

If I don't know something about a topic, I am very grateful for those who have tried to tell what they have learned publicly, even if it is difficult to find. But there are several topics about which our natural tendencies have already made some of us look like we don't care about truth as much as sustaining an assumed reputation. Some of the same "defenders" don't realize they are creating a reputation of caring more about reputation than about truth. This affects discussions of WTS history, chronology, child abuse, and a host of other topics, most of which get blown out of proportion by opposers. But some get blown out of proportion by JW defenders.

Why choose an "obscure" Internet outpost such as this? My own parents, for example, learned about the "U.N." fiasco and said they talked to a friend about it who said that it never happened, nothing like it ever happened, and it was all apostate lies. Well, for many, my parents included, they could manage to go from here to the new system and they need never know any better, and it's unlikely they will spread what they think they know beyond a very small circle of friends. And if they do, it will be in good conscience. I have personally spoken to the embarrassed and penitent brother initially behind the fiasco, along with a couple of his friends, and I think I know something about this situation which should also mitigate some of the embarrassment, but can also honestly admit what happened.

I don't need to look for the largest audience. I only need to do just enough to clear my conscience in "not holding back."

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21 hours ago, JW Insider said:

But there are several topics about which our natural tendencies have already made some of us look like we don't care about truth as much as sustaining an assumed reputation. Some of the same "defenders" don't realize they are creating a reputation of caring more about reputation than about truth. This affects discussions of WTS history, chronology, child abuse, and a host of other topics, most of which get blown out of proportion by opposers. But some get blown out of proportion by JW defenders.

I'll go along with this, with the caveat that you can overdo it with regrets and apologies. This is because most demands for apologies hide a greater agenda. We see it all the time in political matters. Admit to a fault and the immediate refrain is that you have declared yourself unfit and should be fired. Nor is admitting to a course ever enough in the event of not being fired. The fault is brought up repeatedly, ad infinitum. I almost think that people don't want the apology they demand, because then their mission is torpedoed by success. They get around it by continuing their attack anyway. 

In the case of some policies, an apology is immediately met with a "Well, what are you going to DO about it?" If the response is not exactly what the critic demands, the apology is dismissed as just empty words, the 'regret' no more that a lying attempt to manipulate public opinion. It is a crazy world we operate in today, and anyone in his or her right mind ought to be ecstatic at the prospect of coming out of it.

The enemies of Jehovah's Witnesses have succeeded in doing what Jehovah's Witnesses alone could never do: place Jehovah's name on worldwide center stage in (at present) three key areas. The one most unnuanced and instantly evocative of sympathy is the persecution of them in Russia, which has grabbed the attention of connected ones that we find difficult to grab.

The other two battlefields are not what we might have chosen, but that does not mean that the battle should be run away from, or that it will not be won. It is enough to state that this or that policy indeed has a down side, and then to call attention to its upside. It will divide people, but that it not a bad thing. It is exactly what Paul at Hebrews 4:12 says the truthful message should be expected to do.

The kickback over 'shunning' can be won. In many cases it is from those like Saul who keep kicking against the goads. In some cases it has nothing to do with disfellowshipping, a term that hasn't been heard in the Kingdom Hall for a dozen years or so. People do a 180 from previously held deeply moral views and find that those who hold the course lose interest in associating with them, even if they be family members, yet no announncement was ever made. When an announcement is made, it is that 'so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses.' Who would ever say that he is, when he does/says things directly contrary to what he once did/said? People hear such an announcement and respond as they see fit. 

To be sure, Christian counsel based on Bible principles shapes how one responds to such announcements, but we make no bones about being guided by loyalty to Jehovah. The provision may tweek some; I think it already has, but the general principle is clearly found in the Bible. Suffice it to say that, minus such tools of last resort, no group has succeeded over time in preserving the morality that members have voluntarily signed on for. It becomes an issue of choosing between serving God or man, and we don't mind things being framed that way.

The child abuse matters indeed have a real downside to them. Though opponents expand the charges into as many different areas as they can, the essential reality is that, due to being 'insular,' allegations and actual instances of child sexual abuse were handled within the congregation arrangement, and thereafter many participants declined to go 'beyond the law' and also report to outside authorities. Once again, adjustments have been made by the theocratic organization. Perhaps more will be forthcoming, but it will never be enough to satisfy determined opposers. 'Insular', which sounds bad, is mostly just another word for 'separate', which is a biblical imperitive. Separateness usually leads to some degree of insularity. Admit it, settle up where need be, and move ahead.

Christians are to be separate from 'the world.' There is no question as to this. The world doesn't like it, because it reads in such a course a judgement, for example, as Jesus stated at John 3:19. It is as is written at 1 Peter 4:4: They are puzzled because 'you do not keep running with them into the same low sink of debachery,' but they figure out the proper course in a hurry, and 'go on speaking abusively of you.' So be it. Let it be a matter of being very public about Christians staying separate. "Water's just fine here in the low sink!" the ex-Witnesses and the media taunt. 'What's wrong with you, saying it is not?'

God's name is front and center, put there by our opponents as much as by us. In each case it is accompanied by what Jesus told his disciples to expect: 'They will lyingly say every sort of wicked thing about you' (Matthew 5:19) for belonging to the 'cult' that is 'everywhere spoken against.' (Acts 28: 22)

We can't choose our battles but we can fight them. Every one of them can be turned into a positve witness, even as we acknowlege there has been a downside, even a serious downside. Meanwhile the truth flows like the gushing widening river from the throne. It can be run online from the Lett's dorm room, if need be, as the online lessons convey what might take the individual Witness a year to convey.

Let those who have left Jehovah's way take responsibilty for the overall world they have chosen. Is it only with the congregation that there is a downside? When they see mayhem and malevolence on TV, let them embrace it. It's what they have chosen. Let them join pundits in declaring the skyrocketing anxiety levels that have become a staple of life 'a crisis of mental health', as though there was in reality nothing to worry about.

 

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7 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Admit to a fault and the immediate refrain is that you have declared yourself unfit and should be fired. . . . I almost think that people don't want the apology they demand, because then their mission is torpedoed by success.

Yes. There are contradictory motives for apologies, and contradictory reactions to apologies. We need to consider what is the right thing to do in each case. Some people apologize without apologizing as in "I take full responsibility for the failures (or a particular failure) that occurred during my time in office."  But just don't try to make them accountable in any way. I'm reminded of H.Clinton's Benghazi, or the TEN different "Benghazis," some much larger and more deadly, at various U.S. embassies under G.W.Bush.

7 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

In the case of some policies, an apology is immediately met with a "Well, what are you going to DO about it?"

Depends on many factors: the mood, the Zeitgeist, the economy, the efficacy of the corporate propaganda machine (aka "the news"), etc. For example, Pope Francis is visiting Ireland in the middle of the worst mood of Catholics in Ireland ever. Ireland is still majority Catholic, yet a majority of Catholics in places are now voting for same-sex marriage, abortion, divorce law changes, etc.  And attendance at churches has fallen precipitously. Media outlets that used to be supportive of the Church are saying out loud that they are waiting for more than the usual apologies and prayers offered up in an attempt to heal the mood. It's not just sexual abuse, which was rampant in Ireland and was covered up through the Vatican, too. It was forcing unwed women to give up their babies, violence against women at "nunneries" and other abuse issues which keep getting turned up. Some say (NPR yesterday, for example) that every single family in Ireland has been affected in some way.

7 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

The one most unnuanced and instantly evocative of sympathy is the persecution of them in Russia, which has grabbed the attention of connected ones that we find difficult to grab.

It's a good thing it happened during a time when the U.S. and other Western European powers were salivating to find civil rights abuses in Russia. The world hardly gives a second look when things like this happen to groups and religions in Africa, India, Indonesia, etc. Things have to become very deadly to get attention elsewhere (as in Myanmar/Burma)

7 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

The kickback over 'shunning' can be won. In many cases it is from those like Saul who keep kicking against the goads. In some cases it has nothing to do with disfellowshipping, a term that hasn't been heard in the Kingdom Hall for a dozen years or so.

You have a point, but I think those that kick up the biggest fuss about shunning around here, at least, are those who were shunned by their families over doctrinal disagreements. Moral issues are not such a big deal, when a person has chosen a lifestyle that keeps them away from natural and free association with relatives. Some fade into a separate life after a non-scriptural divorce, for example. Some give some evidence that they know better, might return someday, or even wish they could associate but just keep too many worldly associations and habits. After some length of time, I've seen these persons visit their Witness relatives and associate at weddings and funerals and large family gatherings as if nothing happened. But it's not that often, and the Witnesses aren't going out of their way to associate.  

But I do see a bigger difference when the reason was doctrinal. Even bringing up the name of the person is rare or hushed or forbidden. They are still treated worse than those who left for moral reasons. And the feelings on the side of the person who is shunned for "apostasy" must hurt them much worse than we can imagine, if they believe they were only standing up for truth, or left for the "right reasons." When they still want to show love to their families, see their children, grandchildren or parents or grandparents, but their families don't want to see them it is the Witness who has "no natural affection." To them, the only reason they are treated badly and without any respect, in their opinion, is sometimes because they stopped believing something that was wrong anyway, and there was probably a time when they were too vocal about it, or too invested in the "truth" of what could turn out to be a minor issue. But even if they don't feel strongly any more about the particular issue, they can't conscientiously recant what they think is a Bible teaching. And if they have become atheists, they can't very well answer any of the questions correctly that could bring them back into association. I think this is the kind of "violence" that JTR is sometimes referring to, and it's something about which we should have more sympathy and empathy.

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On 8/23/2018 at 1:49 PM, JW Insider said:

I have personally spoken to the embarrassed and penitent brother initially behind the fiasco, along with a couple of his friends, and I think I know something about this situation which should also mitigate some of the embarrassment, but can also honestly admit what happened.

I don't know the story of this. Of course, many have thrust it at me, but I have accepted someone's take that it amounted to little more than taking out a library card so as to get access to some writings. 'Oh, no, it's far MORE than that!' I have been told, as though they sat at Kofi Onnans right hand, shoving aside even the Vatican, but the prospect of secretly calling shots with the wild beast seemed so ridiculous that my interest tanked. I figured either it was a valid move that was misunderstood, or it was the clumsy move of some brother who is peeling potatoes in the Bethel kitchen for penance and will be for the thousand years. If you like, in the spirit of telling all that has been told innacurately everywhere else, I'd like to know of it, either here or through DM or through a link to where you probably wrote of it long ago.

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49 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

If you like, in the spirit of telling all that has been told innacurately everywhere else, I'd like to know of it, either here or through DM or through a link to where you probably wrote of it long ago.

I'll link to it in the next couple days. Sounds like no one is really pushing for it at the moment, and that's not why I brought it up. I brought it up to show the kind of story that can be exaggerated too far on one side and minimized to the point of dishonesty on the other side. And of course, the exaggeration through a form of reductio ad absurdum is just another form of minimization. (e.g. "shoving aside the Vatican" or Chris Christie's "[yeah right] I actually was the guy working the cones out there." But you are basically right that it started out as nearly nothing (information access), except that it got out of control pretty quickly. And when the folks in Writing who were in on it saw some potential future advantages, they didn't back down, but just dug in their heels a bit harder and kept up with the requirements for their particular NGO membership. (The requirement that Writing could most easily meet was publishing an article in Awake! once or twice a year to give publicity to various U.N. initiatives, like UNICEF, for example.)

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6 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I'm reminded of H.Clinton's Bengazi, or the TEN different Bengazi's, some much larger and more deadly, at various U.S. embassies under G.W.Bush.

Speaking of a low sink of debauchery, and/or Hillary Clinton, I just decided to check up on this "fact" I had vaguely recalled about the "TEN Benghazis" under G.W.Bush. I didn't click on the links (nor do I think any of them are without bias) but the first three items that came up in my Google search tend to confirm the "fact" and even add a few more details:

----------top three results of Google Search for "Benghazis under Bush"

Prior to Benghazi, were there 13 attacks on embassies and 60 deaths ...https://www.politifact.com/.../prior-benghazi-were-there-13-attacks-embassies-and/

Claim: "During the George W. Bush period, there were 13 attacks on various embassies and consulates around the world. Sixty people died."

FACT CHECK: More U.S. Embassy Attacks Under Bush and Reagan ...https://www.snopes.com › Fact Check › Politics

Claim: More attacks on U.S. embassies, with more people killed, occurred during the G.W. Bush and Reagan administrations than under Obama.

Jul 18, 2016 - Some 87 people were killed during the 20 attacks, and 24 of them were either U.S. ... and embassy staff during the George W. Bush administration, with 13 of the attacks ... 17, 2008 - 10 killed ...

--------

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I said I'd be nice to him, and I will.

I will, I wlll, I will, I will, I will, I will I will, I will, I will....starting tomorrow.

Run the 10 Benghazis past @James Thomas Rook Jr.

Having said that, the trick is to ensure that the fact-checkers are honest. I had a very hard time with the Politfact fellow when I saw him on TV or somewhere., especially as he was unveiling his gimmicy 'Pants-on-Fire' lie rating, which I thought was juvenile. Moreover, obvious uses of hyperbole on Trump's part were all rated lies.

I would hate to see what would happen if he decided to rate Jesus, who did hyperbole all the time.

Still, I don't know how that would qualify the Benghazis. Let James explain it. I believe he makes quite the big deal about HILLARY'S Benghazi. Is it really but 10% of the total?

 

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      Ô. Jéhovah réprimandes les présomptueux,
      les hypocrites qui dévient de la beauté de tes commandements.
      Éloigne de moi la dérision et le mépris de ce monde,
      car je veux obéir à tes rappels et je veux être soucieux de garder 
      mon âme de toutes violences et de toutes souillures de ce monde.
      Même si les princes de ce monde se réunissent 
      pour parler contre tes serviteurs;
      Tes serviteurs méditent sur vos prescriptions;
      unie à votre amour comme un seul, nous sommes attachés à vos rappels ;
      Tous ceux qui sont avec toi au mon Dieu sont mes conseillers.
      L'humilité et ma douceur garde mes yeux éveillés à lire votre parole, jour et nuit; car votre parole est la source de la lumière qui fera briller mon âme au jour de votre salut.
      Ô. Jéhovah fait briller ta justice et ton droit comme l’aurore du soleil en plein midi.
      Les descendants de ton salut seront puissant sur la terre.
      Gloire et honneur soit rendu à notre Dieu Jéhovah. 
      Bénis soit le Dieu unique de notre Salut
      Hallélouyah.
       

      · 1 reply
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