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TrueTomHarley

How the New European Data Law Will Affect Jehovah’s Witnesses - My Take

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Yikes! No “data-gathering” 

    Hello guest!
. What to do?

As far as I am concerned, this is a blessing in disguise. Jehovah’s people will adapt. They always do. 

I even think it will be beneficial for us, overall. We have some people who become obsessed over records, the way some people do with regard to records of any sort. We have some who call back repeatedly if the householder does so much as give them the time of day—training them not to, in my opinion. Working with this new European law will force more discernment and maturity, though initially inconvenient in some respects. I wouldn’t mind if it spread to here in the States.

This law will alter the logistics of the Matthew 28:19-20 aspect of Christianity— “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, (Mathew 28:19) but it will not impact the Matthew 24:14 aspect at all: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) It will probably even enhance it. 

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Most of the suggested field service presentations I don’t like. I don’t like them because they do not work for me. Of course, it is “different strokes for different folks,” but from what I have seen, they don’t work that well for others, either. They are incremental in approach, and many, when implemented by anyone less than an expert, come off as passive-aggressive. Sometimes I wonder where they come from, because they do not necessarily dovetail with each other. Probably they are the products of various full-time evangelizers who are brainstorming. Since many start with floating a question that will seldom be on the typical person’s mind, such as “Where are the dead?” you pretty much have to record the response and hope that you have laid the foundation for furthering it or starting another topic. All that requires you write stuff down, which is now illegal unless the person has authorized it.

Better—or at least it works better for me—to bring up something more all-encompassing. The circuit overseer last visit made much of the 1-minute (and six seconds) video “Would You Like Good News?” Invite people to hear it—it only is one minute (and it is good to say literally one minute) The video ends with a plug for the Good News from God brochure and that brochure has a table of contents:

“Which topic interests you most?” It says. They include 

Who Is God?, 

Who Is Jesus Christ?, 

What Is God’s Purpose for the Earth?, 

What Hope Is There for the Dead?, 

What Is God’s Kingdom?, 

Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?,

How Can Your Family Be Happy?, and 

How Can You Draw Close to God?

The video is 

    Hello guest!

If the person registers any interest, you can set up something then and there. If not, off you go with a sincere thanks for their time—after all, we call without appointment, which is becoming a rarety in the West, nobody is required to listen to what we have to say, so whenever someone does, I thank them for their time.

Some all-encompassing verses that also work for starters—just offer to read a verse, give a brief statement as to why you read it, ask what the person thinks about it, and then offer to disappear. Such as:

Jeremiah 29:11 - “For I myself well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” (The reason I like the verse is because some people think God is out to rake us over, or judging from the current state of things, that there is no God, and this verse says not only that there is, but he thinks good thoughts towards us.)

Or Matthew 5:3 - “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (The reason I like the verse is because we all have a spiritual need, but we are not necessarily conscious of it—it is more like vitamins, that if neglected, may lead to sickness and we never know quite why.)

There are no end of verses that can be used. It just takes adjusting to the idea. All work except for the verse Tom Pearlsandswine latched onto in my first book, ‘Tom Irregardless and Me’: Revelation 21:8: “But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” “The reason I like that verse,” he would say, “is that it shows sinners are going down and you’d better shape up.” He is such an idiot. 

With a flat response to any chosen verse other than his, off you go. With a favorable one, you can even go to a longer video, with the intro that I find works well, “This video runs almost four minutes, but you don’t have to listen to it all. The minute it gets boring, hand it back.” It puts the control in the householder’s hands and defuses any impression of being pushy. I hate being pushy and try hard not to give that impression. There are few people in the world easier to get rid of than me.

None of these presentations require the use of memory-jogging records. If the response if favorable, there is no difficulty in exchanging contact information if desired.

As for keeping track of who is not-at-home—JWs do this—I even know one person who writes down every address beforehand and crosses them out as she finds them home, completely reversing how it is intended to be done—one might respond by forgetting all about it. Put the angels in charge of that one. Call when the majority of persons are likely to be home in the first place, which we do not always do. 

As for keeping records of those who have requested we not call on them again—well, I don’t know. Tell them we’d love to comply but the new law is screwing us up.

Not to mention that we have long been moving in that direction anyway. That’s what the mobile cart witnessing is all about. That’s what the website is all about. They are two forms of advertising the good news without going to anyone’s door at all. On the home page of jw.org is a new Bible study feature. A series of studies that are multimedia, self-guided at one’s own pace, and require no registration or entry of info—“I’ll never know if you do it or not,” I tell people. In fact, I am looking forward to the time—the timing and circumstances will have to be just right, you wouldn’t do it just with anyone—when I tell someone, “I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself.” We spoon-feed people too much, and it is hardly necessary with the majority. I even think being constantly obsessed over presentation of the very basics keeps us from pressing on to maturity, in some respects.

They have done us a favor with their new law, is my take.

    Hello guest!

Photo: DSC00212 by gauge opinion

 

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2 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Some all-encompassing verses that also work for starters—just offer to read a verse, give a brief statement as to why you read it, ask what the person thinks about it, and then offer to disappear. Such as:  . . . Jeremiah 29:11. . .

I have avoided my old habit of fault-finding for quite a while, but this one just brought up the need for some good, old-fashioned nit-picking again. One thing I like to avoid is the use of a scripture that appears so removed from context that we look like proof text cherry-pickers. I know the average householder is not going to notice at all, but it still seems like a stretch to use Jeremiah 29 as an "all encompassing verse." Here's why:

In context, Jeremiah is saying that his fellow Jewish countrymen just have to give in to Babylon (in effect, they must now compromise with Babylon and pray for Babylon and whatever city they end up in) and let themselves be taken willingly to Babylon as captives.  He says that if you allow Babylon to take you, you can try to do the best you can while you are living there and, because the entire Babylonian Empire is only supposed to last for 70 years max, and at least 13 or 14 of those years are already used up. (The 14 years detail is not part of our doctrine, but is clear from the Hebrew of Jeremiah 10:25; 28:17, 29:10, etc.) So, Jeremiah says that you are going to be a long time in Babylon, so if you just give in, by building houses, planting fruit trees, and getting married and having children in Babylon, you might even personally have a chance to come back to this nation, when Babylon's time is up. 

So, in context, Jeremiah is saying that this is a situation where people are lying to you, but if you follow Jehovah's thinking, there is a good solution by compromising with Babylon. But Jehovah's thinking also includes the thought that if you decide to listen to prophets like Hananiah, or decide to defend Israel/Judah, or defend the Temple, or defend the Davidic kingdom, or even listen to certain misguided prophets already in Babylon. For these Jehovah's thinking is as follows:

(Jeremiah 29:1“For this is what Jehovah says to the king sitting on the throne of David and to all the people dwelling in this city, your brothers who have not gone with you into exile, 17 ‘This is what Jehovah of armies says: “Here I am sending against them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and I will make them like rotten figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten.”’
18 “‘And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, and I will make them an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, and a curse, and an object of astonishment, something to whistle at, and a reproach among all the nations to which I disperse them, 19 because they have not listened to my words that I sent to them with my servants the prophets,’ declares Jehovah, ‘sending them again and again.’
“‘But you have not listened,’ declares Jehovah.
20 “Therefore, hear the word of Jehovah, all you exiled people, whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, says. . . , ‘Here I am giving them into the hand of King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar of Babylon, and he will strike them down before your eyes. 22 And what happens to them will become a curse spoken by all the exiles of Judah in Babylon: “May Jehovah make you like Zed·e·kiʹah and like Aʹhab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire!” . . .
“‘“I am the One who knows, and I am a witness,” declares Jehovah.’”
. . . 28 For he [Jeremiah] even sent to us at Babylon, saying: “It will be a long time! Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit,—”’”’”

In other words this is not an all encompassing verse about how Jehovah is not ready to rake us over, or that he is thinking good thoughts toward us. It's about a specific set of circumstances when he is about to rake a lot of people over, and is thinking to make a curse out of those who won't listen to Jehovah. In this case, Jehovah wanted his people to stop defending Judea and Jerusalem and their Davidic kingdom. He would only protect them if they "compromised" with the enemy and prayed for that enemy, at least until its 70 years was up.

2 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

(The reason I like the verse is because some people think God is out to rake us over, or judging from the current state of things, that there is no God, and this verse says not only that there is, but he thinks good thoughts towards us.)

I wouldn't be as nit-picky about your use of Matthew 5:3 because I'm sure we all have the right idea on this one. But there is something to note here:

2 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Or Matthew 5:3 - “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (The reason I like the verse is because we all have a spiritual need, but we are not necessarily conscious of it—it is more like vitamins, that if neglected, may lead to sickness and we never know quite why.)

Very few people know this verse as one that says anything about being conscious of something, especially not conscious of a spiritual need. In Greek, the verse just says, happy are those who are poor in spirit (the same words that would mean  depressed or broken hearted or those with a "broken spirit." Most translations correctly say something like "poor in spirit" which aligns with parallel expressions in context about those who are meek, merciful, or mournful. Our NWT translation is more likely an interpretation rather than a translation here. If it were in an obscure place like Jeremiah it might be different, but a lot of people know the "beatitudes" from the Sermon on the Mount, and this could give them the impression we have changed the Bible to fit our beliefs.

There are plenty of good replacement scriptures, however, which I'm sure you already know.

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4 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

As for keeping records of those who have requested we not call on them again—well, I don’t know. Tell them we’d love to comply but the new law is screwing us up.

We have got a great way to minimise our Not-At-Homes. We've been doing it for years:

Not Homes.mp4

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So will this new law give the JW Org an excuse to destroy information / data that it already has on record ? 

That could prove very convenient for the Org couldn't it . 

 

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You did not mention Pearlsandswine’s verse (Revelation 21:8) and I take it to mean that is the one you use. :)

With regard to Jeremiah 29:11, I guess this is true what you point out, and normally I would be on your side on this, but here i just can’t get too worked up over it. It is used essentially as an ice-breaker here. Call it not the primary application but a secondary one. The NT writers do it all the time (I think—I’ll have to ponder that one further) Don’t call it an anti-type, or you will get JTR going. But you can say ‘this reminds me of that.’ What is someone going to say—that it doesn’t? You get almost all of the upside and none of the downside of an ‘anti-type.’

11 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I have avoided my old habit of fault-finding for quite a while,

While you were in sackcloth, you may not have noticed that someone pointed to a Religion News article (it may have been Outta Here) that Jer 29:11 was the new feel-good verse of our age, replacing John 3:14, which is now seen as too overbearing and insufficiently secular. He pointed to its use in Good News from God and speculated that we were the cause of it—that people had skimmed out that verse from the brochure and thrown away most of the rest.

As for Matthew 5:3, I am not one of those who say the NWT is great and all the other translations suck, but in this case I think it has hit a home run.

11 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Most translations correctly say something like "poor in spirit" which aligns with

The really literal ones say “beggars of the spirit.” I sometimes tell the finicky ones that if you beg for something, it means that you know you need it, so “conscious of a spiritual need” is not such a bad rendering after all. In fact, it is almost the only readable one, because “poor in spirit” is incomprehensible  to most people.

See if you can shoot these down:

“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.  Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’  And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23 (The reason I like this verse is because some people are surprised to think it would be in the Bible. Jesus has been presented to them as someone who smiles over just about anything—it is almost impossible to get him riled—but if this verse is so, even some of those who say they are his followers he wants no part of.)

“Therefore, YOU men of heart, listen to me.Far be it from the [true] God to act wickedly,And the Almighty to act unjustly!” Job 34:10 (The reason I like this verse is because some people think that he does act wickedly. And some, seeing all the atrocities that go down today, come to think that there is not a true God, for otherwise he would have fixed those bad things.)

Once I have read the selected verse and commented as to why I read it, I tell the person that is all I wanted to do. The next move is up to them and they don’t have to make one. If their interest has been piqued—they have observations, comments, questions, I can stick around for a few moments, but if not, off I go. A very good way to respond if they say that they are in no rush is to start for them a video, giving them the ‘permission’ to hand it right back the moment they think it is dull.

One other advantage of this method—and it is a major one—is that you do not have to prepare. Just offer to read a verse on whatever, and tell why you read it. With any interest, go for a video. I well remember the days of intense preparation—mostly in order to interest the householder in something that his/her mind was a million miles away from (the first or second householder often played the lab rat while I was working the bugs out), and I find this is so much more stress-free. (In the book, I said that Tom Pearlsandswine was especially attracted by this advantage, because he has never prepared for anything in his life.)

It works almost too well. Recently at the offer to read a verse, a college student invited me into his apartment. (It was a pig-sty, as is common for that age-group, as was once common with me, and might still be were it not for the ever-vigilant Sister Harley, who joins a dozen other full-time servants to toil half a day to remove a quarter pound of dirt from the Assembly Hall to remind me that my more relaxed standards of tidiness don’t stand a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of ever prevailing.) I went through the verse, (and he didn’t even call me out about wanting to make peace with Babylon) the Good News video, the table of contents from that brochure, which he scanned and asked if there was one about the afterlife. I pointed him to the one and he read it right there and then. Seeing he was doing so, I told him he could ask about whatever or just read it while I shut up, which was perhaps the best thing. 

I also told him that since he was in college, that meant he was smart, but most people are not so smart or in college and—well, that the brochure was written at a very simple grade level and he must not get stumbled at that. Think of it as an outline, I said, just sufficient to ‘glue’ the scriptures together, any one of which could be expanded upon at length. “We could make it the size of a phone book if we wanted, [an illustration that is rapidly becoming obsolete—in fact, it probably is already] ] but most people like things simple,” I told him.

When something with the ipad was uncooperative due to my ignorance, I simply handed it to him and told him to make it behave (which he did without difficulty).  I routinely do this, confident that they know the tech aspect of my tools better than me.

This is so easy that I find myself making sure I do not take unfair advantage. With the self-possession that comes with age, one can easily manipulate someone smart but inexperienced, and it is very important not to do that, or give the appearance of doing that. (advertising routinely does this, it is built upon this, and I often think that if there was any sincerity of the anti-cultists at all—if they truly wanted to do anything other than shoot down meaningful religion—that they would call for a ban on it) I offer to set up some return visits right then and there,  but I also give him the option that I know he will probably take—and this fellow did—of getting in touch with me after he thinks about it. He has the contact card, and info on how to get in touch with me if he wants,, he knows of the website and the online study sessions, which do not ask for any registration and I will never know if he does it or not. The ball is in his court always. Should I call back, (actually I did not really frame it that I would on this call and I sort of wish that I had) it will only be to let him call the shots—show him what we have to offer, but always leaving him in the driver’s seat.

I usually mention the language feature of the jw.org website—that at present, it includes just shy of 1000 languages, and that is not to boast but simply to prove one’s seriousness about the assignment. People speak many of them, not just one, so if you are serious about reaching people with a message, of course you will have such a tool. There is no excuse not to. I like to mention that if you combine Apple and Google and Wikipedia, it still comes not remotely close to the number of languages of jw.org, which is by far the largest in the world.

I almost reproved him for being a little too trusting of strangers. Without his asking, I told him my motivation for doing what we do, by showing him Matthew 24:14, with the brief explanation that the present reality of 200 sovereign nations always squabbling and shoving at one another was not God’s idea and that he would one day replace it via his kingdom and if one believes such a thing, one comes to realize that he ought not just sit on the information but also tell it to others.

This is a pretty lengthy diatribe. Sorry. I get carried away. I am not one of those who think that all awareness of spiritual need has pretty well dried up. Instead, I think it is huge and pent up. One other college student said as I was leaving after about 10 minutes—15 at most—and I have never had anyone say this to me: “Oh, and thanks for the guidance.”

 

 

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13 hours ago, JW Insider said:

but this one just brought up the need for some good, old-fashioned nit-picking again.

I can out-nit-pick you any day of the week. Not if it is about something in which you actually have to know something, such as the subjects that you used to bring up during your reign of terror, but on something like this.....

Those silhouetted presentations that we see? Rarely do I like any of them.Sometimes I ask myself what in the world are they thinking? That is not to say that they are wrong. But I so seldom see them work in the field that I just can’t get too enthusiastic.

If I am the companion at the door, I do not act even close to what is portrayed at the demos. I stand back a few steps, stare alternately off into space, and seemingly am hardly paying attention. I do this because otherwise it is two against one—ganging up on the householder, many of them will think. There are many circumstances that will vary this, gender and age-difference, for example, but I do not crowd the householder if I am the 2nd person (or even the first).

If one was going to charge JWs with being a cult, (not that anyone here ever would) the strange choreography of some of these presentations strike me as exactly what they might offer as Exhibit A. They come across to me as somewhat weird. “Mr. Companion, would you read such-and-such for me?” “Yes, of course, Mr. Taking-the-Lead” “Thank you for that, Mr. Companion.” If someone asks me to read without clearing it with me beforehand, I decline. If someone does try to clear it with me beforehand, I decline at that time (unless there is some overriding reason for it) I am just there to get the person out of a jam or to put in my two cents if it truly seems necessary.

Even in training a new one, I would not be comfortable doing it as I see demonstrated. When I trained Alex for the first time in the ministry, I took several doors while he just watched. Walking up the next driveway, we saw there was a young man in the garage working on his motorcycle. Since Alex also rode, I floated that maybe he would like to take this door. I wasn’t even serious about it—it was just a light suggestion. But Alex began speaking to him!

He covered a few verses that he remembered and overall did very well, but then he began to taper off and hesitate—it was his first door, after all. The kid said, “Don’t stop now! This is really interesting!” What was with THAT?! Nobody had given ME the time of day up to that point!

Even with young children, I have not done it as on the videos but have said “If you want to take a door, I will introduce you. This is mostly for me, not they, since if a waist-high child does all the talking from the start, I fear the householder will look at me as though to say “Cat got your tongue, dummy?”

Willy, also in Tom Irregardless and Me, soon said that he didn’t want to be introduced. (My own kids had said it too) So I said that he could introduce me, or take all the doors himself. That is how it had gone all morning, save for a few awkward situations that I handled. As long as he remained comfortable, it had remained his turn. Sometimes a householder would say something to me, and I would reply (within reason) “Sorry—it’s his turn.”

 

 

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15 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Call when the majority of persons are likely to be home in the first place, which we do not always do. 

It is easy to call on mornings, then go home eat our lunch, take a sleep, then do something else for ourselves like entertainment, watching TV, etc.  We feel smug that we went out, but did we reach all sorts of persons as 1 Timothy 2:3,4 talked about? We met a few persons who were at home after the majority went to work, but we need to call at different times to meet the others. We have to inconvenience ourselves at times to reach the others. All sorts of people - morning persons, evening persons, midnight persons, beach vendors, fishermen, etc. See picture in last weekend's Watchtower. Thoroughness is the key; not just regularity.  If those taking the lead do not see it so, the status quo will continue.

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16 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Not to mention that we have long been moving in that direction anyway. That’s what the mobile cart witnessing is all about.

Considering that the spirit drives your organization, and in regard what you say, we can assume that Preaching service with Drones (aka Advanced model of Mobile Cart :)))) will be introduced, soon.

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