Jesus is a start

I’m sitting in the sanctuary of the Methodist church a couple miles from my house when, for the first time, I feel it: not the presence of Jesus, but a stirring in my heart that tells me I’m beginning to sense his purpose. I’ve been at this church-going thing for several months now. So far I have attended the Sunday services of a handful of Christian denominations that include Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, Episcopalian, Baptist, and Unitarian—almost all of what I’ve come to understand are the “mainline” Protestant denominations whose theological roots can be traced directly to Europe—and while I have picked up bits and pieces of wisdom from each, I have not until now felt anything. On the contrary, I have maintained my stance as passive and wide-eyed observer, unable or unwilling to let any aspect of the strange concoction of music and ceremony and prayer reach the sturdy enclosure of my heart.

Why am I, an individual about as alienated from religion as they come, sitting in this church? Here’s the short answer: I realized I’m a fragment and that’s why the panic has returned.

Let me explain.

Several months earlier I moved to a small town in the Pacific Northwest. This happened because I had answered in the affirmative to a series of life-altering questions. “Will you marry me?” “Yes!” “Will you quit your job, sell your condo, and move to the middle of nowhere?” “Sure. Fine. Okay.” I had been a single professional living in Washington, D.C. when I met and fell in love with Phil. I was willing, happy even, to make these changes because it seemed like life was handing me just what I needed at just the right time. Hadn’t I been secretly longing to step off of the hamster wheel of worldly ambition I had been treading so diligently these many years? I was exhausted and mildly depressed, wondering: is this all there is to life? But I wasn’t bold enough to plan an escape route and then along came Phil: Ph.D. student, wonderful man, soon-to-be professor in a remote college town and, then, fiancé.

As I made the transition from old life to new, I felt like an archeologist brushing away layers of dirt and grime to get at some prized artifact: the “real” me. Away went the city, the bustle, and the endless distractions. I cleared the need to be at a specific location for 10 hours a day working hard at something that was not necessarily my passion, along with the paycheck that went with it. I blew; what remained was time, and a stillness to my days I had never known before. But the further down I got, the more irrelevant crud I removed, the more evident it became that what I hoped would be a complete and pristine vessel was a jagged little edge, curved just so and sitting in the earth so that it only appeared to be whole. Once I had stripped away everything, I felt truly unnerved. No tall buildings divided up the air, no city blocks organized the land, no regular job structured my day. I would find myself standing at a window, looking out on the wheat fields that surrounded my little neighborhood and wishing desperately for a crazy, active city to materialize so I could lose myself in it. I would feel the tight squeeze of panic rising in my chest and I would need to lie down and repeat a collection of little sentences—“You are okay. Everything is fine. You are not dying.”—until my brain believed them enough to send messages to my body instructing it to stop freaking out. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with the direction my life had taken. I was content with my decision to get married and leave the big city behind. Even quitting my good job, while difficult, felt right in a life-is-short-so-don’t-waste-a-moment sort of way. The problem lay deeper I realized because all of these changes, while they had eased one kind of suffering, had uncovered another. Which is why this church-going project has taken on such significance: I’m on a desperate search for the bits and pieces that might make my pot whole.

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60 thoughts on “Jesus is a start

  1. Dear Nicole,

    I commend you for wanting to jouney in to a religious”spiritual area of your being. I believe we were made to worship. The question is what.

    In my household, God was “the man upstairs”, at best. NONBODY in my family wanted to discuss the above topics. I was not raised a professed Christian, but I became one during the 70′s , after having accepted a Bible study. I have always been interested in people’s religions, but I wanted to know if there was anything I was supposed to do to please God. I didn’t have the answer until I turned to his Word, the Holy Scriptures.

    By the way, it appears that most people ask themselves if their religion suits them, rather than if their religion suits God.I do not belong to a popular religion—-I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I have a public Christian Bible ministry in Spanish and English. Ask for a Bible study, before you go to someone’s “church”. Learn what the scriptures have to say, rather than what the church doctrines say. They are often not the same.

    There is sooooo much to say and learn abuot Jehovah, Jesus, God’s purposes for the earth,etc., that an “e” will hardly cover it.

    I am your servant and Bible answer lady. ASK AWAY. (Also, I am a prfessional (retired) schoolteacher. If we make contact, we will both be happy we did, I PROMISE!!!

    Sincerely, Cheri Bednersh senoracheri@yahoo.com

    Si

    • Yes, the recruitment techniques of the Witnesses are well-known. The point is, though, that everybody on this planet needs to follow their own individual path as they see fit, and not to follow a prescripted path and be spoon-fed interpretation. Anyone needing to convince another to convert to “the truth” has missed the message entirely.
      Best of luck on your journey!

      • I think that I like your analogy. Man’s relationship with God is a very personal one, and it’s one not found in church, with the “Kingdom” (Luke 17:20-21) as our goal. Many times Jesus will say, “The Kingdom is like,” but he doesn’t say what it actually is. That’s because it will be different for each one of us, and it will require us to deal with our worst enemy-ourselves. Maybe, in the future, I can give the meaning of the Kingdom.

        • Richard,

          Thank you, Thank you!!! Every time you mention Jehovah or Jehovah’s Witnesses, you make his name and organization known to others. I LOVE my ministry, and, like they say in show biz, any publicity is good, as long as they spell your name right!

          It amazes me that the onhly religion that has been singled out for discussion is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Did I miss something? No one wants to talk about any other denominations. That is really something!!

          ADIOS, Cheri B.

          • Oh, Cheri, you are so funny. I can only imagine that you are doing……Let’s see…..what did some JW tell me it is…….Oh..yes, “counting time” in order to meet the requirements that some Jehovah’s Witnesses are supposed to keep track of when they go door to door and fill out a report. At least this kind of counting you can do in the comfort of your home and don’t have to go tripping through the weather outside. He told me another story once that might answer your question as to why Jehovah’s Witnesses are so discussed on this blog. It seems an elderly Jehovah’s Witness of Italian descent who spoke broken English would go door to door often and in doing so would keep coming back to the same house over a period of time. This morning he was training this young man how to do it. They went up to the door and knocked. There was no response. They knocked again. The Italian man did not give up easily so he knocked a little louder. The upstairs window flew open and a woman leaned out looking down at him and said, “I remember you. I told you the last time to stay away from this house and never call again.” The Italian man looked up at her and shouted: “Hey!! How we know you no die or move away.” She slammed the window down.
            My point being that as with your associates you keep coming back to knock on this door. After all, who knows who you’re going to find here. Perhaps another Chuck who knows your message, too, or someone who is looking for a Bible Study with JW’s. Ya just never know. And, so you keep knocking….and knocking….and we keep discussing and discussing. That should please you. I see a Mormon fellow has come knocking. Maybe we’ll turn our attention to him as well since they also go door to door and are mistaken sometimes to be JW’s. Nice clean looking young man carrying out their Divine mission. They really don’t believe that the special plates that Joseph Smith found in Palmyra, New York and formed the Book of Mormon came from the demons.

            • Please remember that I am a middle school teacher, and we develop a strange sense of humor in order to “entertain the troops”. It is okay with me if you laugh.

              I am sorry that I cannot expend more of an effort right now. I have a Bible study to conduct—-just what a teacher LOVES to do……

              ADIOS, Cheri B.

        • Here’s the word, and it is scriptural. “Our Father in the heavens, let you NAME be sanctified. Let YOUR KINGDOM come, let your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10). It is a REAL GOVERNMENT and people from all over the world can become citizens. (Acts 10:34-35)

          Matthew, the 13th chapter provides many of the illustrations that Jesus said. “The kingdom is like” (a mustard seed, a pearl, etc.”) He also said that he did not speak with disciples and listeners without using illustrations, or parables. Grammatically, we would call them similes (like and as). They are great for getting people to reason and see some symbolism. Jesus wasn’t saying that a kingdom WAS a plant. No, he was showing a representation or singnificance to what helped them understand the facets of that government.

          The kingdom is not what WE decide it to be, it is what Jesus shows us. He would never suggest that we pray for a government that doesn’t exist (unless individuals deem it so). The kingdom will be all things to all people who exercise faith in his shed blood. (Matt.20:28, John 3:16). He is the KING and a true witness of all his Father stand for re:the earth. (Revelation 3:14)

      • “The point is, though, that everybody on this planet needs to follow their own individual path as they see fit, and not to follow a prescripted path and be spoon-fed interpretation”

        Really? After the Bible repeatedly goes out of its way to reinforce the concept that man is not capable of even choosing his own footpath, suddenly humans are supposed to comparison-shop for religions, and pick the one that seems right to them, as if shopping for breakfast cereals? Shouldn’t God just TELL humanity which religion he endorses, and which he finds acceptable?

        So, in lieu of divine direction, how is religion-shopping any different than the practice of secular humanists creating their moral code without relying on a religious text?

        Xians make such a big fuss about the supposed short-comings of secularists man-made rules, but isn’t cherry-picking a faith (and even what parts of the Bible followed, with most ignoring the Bible’s undeniable endorsement of genocide, slavery, misogyny, slaughter of homosexuals, etc) basically the same thing? Picking and choosing as you see fit?

        • Dear David,

          It has been quite a while since I have heard from anyone on this site. I thought, perhaps, that no one was writing anymore. One thing that concerns me is that I don’t get to read about anyone else’s experiences. All the correspondence I get “knocks” Witnesses. Isn’t the idea of the blog to encourage people in their quest rather than to “pick on others’ faith?”

          I left a non-Christian religion to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am glad I did. I haven’t “converted” one person—all of the individuals I have studied with, (who wished to) have converted (themselves). I also don’t get this “spoon-fed” thing. The apostle, Paul, wrote to Timothy and said that many would show up for worship “to have their ears tickled”. Those are individuals who don’t usually study much themselves—they want the minister to tell them what they want to hear. That is why they choose their church and pay membership. We are concerned about scripture, not about church doctrine. IF IT IS NOT ACCORDING TO WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES, THEN WHY FAVOR DOCTRINE OVER SCRIPTURE? That is what I see going on today.

          As to Jeremiah 10:23, man doesn’t function well in many areas, because he chooses many paths which don’t serve him well. We have free will, but that doesn’t entitle us to do whatever we want—-there are consequences. I look at the “narrow path” as PROTECTIVE rather than restrictive. (Matthew 7:13-14) I LOVE to teach, and my students have commended me for it. (Some have quit, because they were not interested for various reasons, but they never said it was because I didn’t help them to get sound Bible counsel.) That is very rewarding for me.

          Choose whatever you want. That is your business. But not ONE person has suggested ANYTING to me. They have only found fault….
          That is a sad statement, I think. What to do????

          ADIOS, Cheri

          • Hi Cheri,

            Thanks for responding.

            “It has been quite a while since I have heard from anyone on this site. I thought, perhaps, that no one was writing anymore. One thing that concerns me is that I don’t get to read about anyone else’s experiences. All the correspondence I get “knocks” Witnesses. Isn’t the idea of the blog to encourage people in their quest rather than to “pick on others’ faith?”

            I can’t claim to speak for why anyone else posts here, but knowing you’re a JW, I found your sentiments posted above to be at odds with the official stance of WTBTS, where you and I (and Chuck) fully know that JWs truly believe they’re the “one true religion” (and hence everyone else is wrong, and destined for death in Armageddon). Now, let’s be honest: that’s hardly a Uniterian-like tolerance of other belief systems which say, “well, try your best and worship in a manner that seems right to you, and God’ll be OK with it, knowing your heart was in the right place” type of religion. Granted, there may be a few JWs who WISH that was the liberal more-accepting interpretation of the Society, but they’re sinning by not following official JW theology as channeled by the Governing Body in Brooklyn, who JWs believe provides proper food at the proper time.

            I think the JWs are right to take that hard-core, “our way or the highway” approach, because that WAS the extremist message of Jesus, who spoke about spitting out those who are luke-warm in their faith, or coming not to bring peace but to tear families apart, etc. He DID say all that extremist stuff, and trying to make Jesus into some lovey-dovey dope-smoking hippy (“all you need is love”) is revisionist, at best, and evil, at worst.

            “I left a non-Christian religion to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am glad I did. I haven’t “converted” one person—all of the individuals I have studied with, (who wished to) have converted (themselves).”

            Semantics: you were “selling” your belief system, whether you admit it or not. That’s the ENTIRE POINT of preaching, with the whole, “if you had good news, wouldn’t want to share it with everyone?” justification. It’s not about selling (ie the $$), but seeking validation by getting others to agree with you. Once a large group is formed, you have a self-congratulatory group dynamic, where everyone tells each other what smart people they are for believing the same thing. It’s classic group dynamics, and it works in MANY settings, religious, political, social, etc.

            JWs are an organization where potential recruits self-select, where the interested ones (“the sheep”) will share some of the same basic mind-set and assumptions, and the “goats” are those not likely to alter or subjugate their belies to a group. Hence, you have people joining who are basically primed to WANT to join, and not vice-versa (and didn’t Jesus basically say the same, when he mentioned a rich man having less of a chance of following him than those who were poor?). This type of dynamic operates ALL THE TIME with groups, whether people are aware of the principles at play or not.

            “I also don’t get this “spoon-fed” thing. The apostle, Paul, wrote to Timothy and said that many would show up for worship “to have their ears tickled”. Those are individuals who don’t usually study much themselves—they want the minister to tell them what they want to hear. That is why they choose their church and pay membership. We are concerned about scripture, not about church doctrine. IF IT IS NOT ACCORDING TO WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES, THEN WHY FAVOR DOCTRINE OVER SCRIPTURE? That is what I see going on today.”

            JWs are doing the exact same thing: being that the GB is considered the official channel of messages from Heaven (via the whole “faithful and discreet slave” construct, which is an odd angle to take, turning a PARABLE into a PROPHECY in order to justify gaining power and control?). Hence JWs are a classic ‘top-down’ organization (akin to the Wizard of Oz), since the GB will NOT and CANNOT accept different scriptural interpretations from the rank-and-file, but ONLY from God. The GB passes doctrinal insight, claiming it comes from God, and the rank-and-file publishers follow; it’s NOT the reverse direction. And those publishers who are correct about upcoming policy are disfellowshipped if they “get ahead of the Mother” or don’t “wait on Jehovah”.

            So once again, JWs believe it’s the GB’s way or eternal destruction in Armageddon”. NOT tolerant.

            “As to Jeremiah 10:23, man doesn’t function well in many areas, because he chooses many paths which don’t serve him well. We have free will, but that doesn’t entitle us to do whatever we want—-there are consequences. I look at the “narrow path” as PROTECTIVE rather than restrictive. (Matthew 7:13-14) I LOVE to teach, and my students have commended me for it. (Some have quit, because they were not interested for various reasons, but they never said it was because I didn’t help them to get sound Bible counsel.) That is very rewarding for me.”

            Oh, my…. Another JW who doesn’t understand the term, “free will”. :)

            A common phrase amongst JWs says, “God didn’t want to make Adam and Eve as robots, so he gave them free will”. It’s actually NOT official policy, and to their credit, the Society has been very careful NOT to use it, since it’s nonsense.

            ‘Free will’ (FW) is pretty basic: look it up, and it means having the ability to select between alternatives when there’s no strings attached (ie free of ramifications for making the choice).

            Thus, ‘free will’ (FW) is not a THING (which can be inserted into the brains of humans), but hinges on having PERMISSION to engage in an action.
            In the Bible, there are 2 kinds of will discussed:

            1) Divine Will (DW), AKA God’s Will.

            When God said, “Thou Shalt Not X”, this is an expression of DW, and to disobey is to go against His will, and is hence by definition, a sin (any action that works against God’s expressed will is a sin).

            2) Human will, AKA man’s free will.

            God does NOT give man permission to exercise his own will on matters of DW. Instead, man is allowed to use his “Bible-trained conscience” on matters where DW is mute, and THESE types of decisions are where man is allowed to exercise his FW.

            NOW, back to Adam and Eve:

            When God said, “Thou Shalt Not Eat the fruit”, the decision to eat was no longer within their domain; hence, the decision to eat cannot be characterized as a FW choice on their part. That was NOT a FW choice.

            Likewise, when God handed Moses the tablets, or the laws found in the Torah, then the domain of decisions which fall under man’s FW shrinks by each commandment where mankind doesn’t have Divine permission to decide. Each time God utters “Thou Shalt Not X”, then man’s FW domain shrinks by exactly that much.

            But about that decision to eat the fruit:

            The story implies that God created humans lacking in wisdom, since they wouldn’t have been TEMPTED to eat if they ALREADY possessed wisdom (and check ALL the other Bible translations of Genesis 3:6, which are ALL faithful to the Hebrew source and you’ll see that ONLY the NWT leaves out the important WORD in the story that explains WHY Eve saw it as desirable: the Hebrew word, lehaskil, means “to make one WISE”. God himself admitted this, that the fruit granted WISDOM to those who ate it (and YHWH later verified they HAD gained the wisdom of Gods, with their “eyes opened” and “become like (us), possessing wisdom of a God”).

            I’ll leave it to you to identify the THREE reasons Eve saw the fruit as desirable, and then to see how the NWT lies by only listing TWO, completely ignoring the wisdom-granting properties of the fruit, since it raises profound questions, and opens a can of worms).

            Now, elsewhere the Bible says that we need to possess and use wisdom in order to responsibly exercise our free-will (or to disern which matters are conscience matters, and which are not). But note that God created humans LACKING in wisdom, so how can they be held responsible for acting like those who lack wisdom (which the Bible describes as “fools”? In the Bible, “foolish” is the antonym of “wise”)?

            Now, many believers find it impossible to accept the implications that the Bible is actually claiming that Adam and Eve were created, NOT as perfect beings (lacking in nothing), but as FOOLS. Obviously, everything else (including the need for Christ’s redemption) hinges on the “Fall of Man”.

            However, the “lacking in wisdom” bit is the reason Adam and Eve didn’t comprehend the gravity of their disobeying only until AFTER gaining wisdom by eating: that’s the very first paradoxical story-line found in the Bible, that they only realized it was a foolish to disobey God but AFTER gaining wisdom by disobeying. It’s a catch-22.

            Of course, that element is lost on most readers, who simply don’t stop to THINK about the story is saying (and many aren’t helped by the “lying scribes” who try to remove all such problematic words from the “inspired word of God”). Hence many Xians do as you say, and only “go along with the feel-good stuff their pastor preaches” (as you said).

            Of course, the account raises serious questions about God’s reasonable custodianship, playing practical jokes on his creations (which also falls in line with the “demiurge God as trickster” theodicy, which is found in many other cultures, as well (see Hesiod’s tale of Prometheus, which is a common origins story).

            “Choose whatever you want. That is your business. But not ONE person has suggested ANYTING to me. They have only found fault….
            That is a sad statement, I think. What to do????”

            Here’s a suggestion: the Bible actually is CORRECT when it says, “the Truth will set you free”. Realize you’re not going to find the “Truth” by only reading what the Society writes (hint: they LIE for the sake of perpetuating their own man-made theology, just as they lied in Genesis 3:6). Instead, you’re going to do have to do independent research on our own to break free.

            Realize if you do or don’t, it’s no sweat of MY back: waste your life ringing on doorbells, telling yourself you’re going to be rewarded with a pet panda in the New System, living forever. Unfortunately, the course of life isn’t fueled by own personal wishes.

            BTW, I was raised in a JW family in the 1960′s, but was never baptized (I got an education instead). I lived thru the 1975 thing, and have seen the many position changes (eg overlapping generations) to explain why Armageddon isn’t here yet (and I loved that whole “last generation who won’t die” Awake cover, where all the faces on the cover are now…. dead). I have siblings who are still in (one’s an elder, an ex-pioneer, an ex-Bethelite, etc), and they’ve basically wasted their lives on a false hope, a great lie; they also shun me for daring to speak the Truth about the JWs. Such a waste of their potential, all based on the greatest lie ever told.

            • Dave,

              Why did you “waste you time” writing to me? Why are you so angry? I still didn’t get any HELP with what I MIGHT do instead of “wasting MY time. Sorry you are so unhappy with Jehovah’s people. I am glad to have what I do. I see that you were not baptized, and you shouldn’t have done that, if you did not want to dedicate your life to Jehovah. (What a pity you couldn’t find anything positive to say about us.)

              Take care……………ADIOS, Cheri

              • “Why did you “waste you time” writing to me? Why are you so angry?”

                Uh, where exactly do you detect ‘anger’, LOL? I assure you, I’m as calm as can be, as I’ve done my research; I find the Bible and religion to be fascinating, and I cannot get enough of learning the historical context of the times in which it was written So it’s not exactly alarming or news to me….

                “I still didn’t get any HELP with what I MIGHT do instead of “wasting MY time.”

                Uh, my job is not to give answers: that’s a personal quest. I can only point in the right direction, but we EACH make a solo journey through life.

                And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with most humans: they believe there actually IS a pre-packaged answer to the meaning to life to be had, as if there is ONE ‘right’ answer to such a complex question. Just as humans have chased after answers to many other unsolvable questions and quests (seeking perpetual motion, everlasting life, etc), simply because a question can be formed out of words into a grammatically-proper sentence doesn’t mean it’s a question that MUST have an answer.

                I don’t worry about finding answers to the unknowable, but am content to search and harvest within the domain of the factual, reality, the provable, ie living in that knowledge which humans CAN and DO understand. As an rationalist, I don’t believe in ANYTHING which cannot be tested, proven, shown, etc. be it ghosts, spirit-beings, demons, angels, Gods, leprechauns, pixies, Santa Claus, etc. As a rationalist, I see a long history of people WANTING to believe in those things, and for a multitude of reasons, but the desire for something to exist is only that: a desire, a wish. Unfortunately, no one is out there granting wishes.

                So all I care about is TRUTHS: don’t you?

                See, that’s the thing: when you tell a young child that what you are giving him is the truth (and it isn’t), it has the effect of them seeking out what ELSE was a lie; some go on a life-long quest of seeking truths. I’m a product of the JWs, except only seeking the actual historical truths.

                “Sorry you are so unhappy with Jehovah’s people. I am glad to have what I do. I see that you were not baptized, and you shouldn’t have done that, if you did not want to dedicate your life to Jehovah. (What a pity you couldn’t find anything positive to say about us.)”

                Uh, repeatedly saying I’m angry won’t make it so; you seem to believe that reality, ie what is actually true, cares about what we want it to be. Unfortunately, it isn’t so: reality doesn’t conform to our wishes to be anything but what it is.

                But I’m wondering now: would you STILL be a JW if you KNEW it wasn’t “The Truth”?

                Of course, many JWs likely WOULD stay in, out of self-interest, saying how much they enjoy being a part of an organization that gives them a sense of purpose in their life, etc. However, the WT makes sure the cost of exit is high, as JWs are a spiritual Roach Motel: once you check in (ie get baptized), you cannot leave without facing mandatory shunning from the group, which includes being shunned by your own JW family members. In fact, anyone who FAILS to shun someone who’s been disfellowshipped places THEIR OWN membership in jeopardy, thus facing the prospect of being disfellowshipped and shunned! It’s truly a “shun or be shunned” situation.

                Of course,the JW practice of shunning is the kind of insider policy which JW’s placing literature in field service aren’t likely to tell “an interested person”, as such controls are hallmarks of a high-control group (pejoratively called “cults”). It is rather odd you didn’t mention THAT practice when making the case for how ‘tolerant’ JWs are, who DO shun their own Mothers or children (as if proving Jesus’ words of his coming to turn parents against their own flesh and blood, all in his name).

                But as far as basic TRUTHS, ie that which is known:

                There’s TONS of compelling supportive evidence from the world of archaeology, science, textual analysis, history, etc to indicate the Bible is largely a myth, a relic which may have served a useful purpose in the time and culture in which it was written; however, those ancient myths are largely holding back humanity now, giving people an excuse to not do ANYTHING to help improve conditions in the here and now (eg JWs say, “Jehovah will fix this wicked, evil system of things shortly when He takes it back from Satan, so why bother helping out NOW? He’ll take care of global climate change, so let’s load up the SUV and head out in field service!”). And that might be a valid excuse, if not for the fact it’s based on the greatest lie ever told.

                See, I’m actually spreading the REAL “good news” here, since you don’t HAVE to do any of what you’ve been told you have to do in order to not be killed in Armageddon. Since the entire premise is false, you needn’t destroy relationships with your family (eg you’re not shunning your son, are you?), much less wasting time and/or money on the “Worldwide preaching work”.

                See, that’s the best news anyone COULD give you, as I’m warning you that the sky is NOT falling, and that the bridge is NOT out ahead (after you’ve spent decades telling others that it IS)! If you only had the thirst to read a few books (starting with Bart Ehrman’s “Jesus, Interrupted”, and maybe William Dever’s “What Did the writers of the Bible Know, and when did they know it?.

                (Oh, and Ray Franz’ book is rather boring, but of interest to anyone who is a JW who wants to get a peek behind the scenes of how the GB came to it’s decisions; one of my brothers read it, and since he served at Bethel during the time Franz was there, it was a step in the process of escaping from the JWs, as it answered many doubts he had about the JWs. His only regret was in not leaving sooner, as he knew it wasn’t “the Truth”).

                I highly suspect you WON’T read: there’s nothing people hate more than considering (much less admitting) they’ve been duped. But the remaining years of your life are in the offering (as well as the freedom of those grandchildren of yours, being sacrificed on the altar to a false God; will they waste their lives, thinking Armageddon is “just around the corner”, too?).

                • Dave,

                  Greetings!!!

                  Jesus always commended the congregations of Revelation before he gave them counsel, encouragement or criticism. So, in that vein, I give a quick response.

                  It is admirable that you would spend so much time writing to me. You know I am happy with what I have, but you continue in a negative vein. I lead a good, clean life, as best I can. I WANT to stand firm for Jehovah. I won’t argue that with you. I have read ciriticisms of Jehovah’s organization. I say “too bad”. If someone doesn’t want it, that is up to them. I still don’t know why I never get comments from other people who might try to give me a different (and possibly positive) direction. I expected to hear of other religions and ways. So far, NADA.

                  Take care………..ADIOS, Cheri

                  • Hi Cheri,

                    “It is admirable that you would spend so much time writing to me. You know I am happy with what I have, but you continue in a negative vein. I lead a good, clean life, as best I can. I WANT to stand firm for Jehovah. I won’t argue that with you. I have read ciriticisms of Jehovah’s organization. I say “too bad”. If someone doesn’t want it, that is up to them.”

                    Ah, that reminds me of the main point I forgot to make about the difference between ‘free will’ (FW) and ‘freedom of choice’ (FoC).

                    Instead of the term FW, the WT uses the LATTER term (FoC), since it properly conveys the idea that while humans are free to choose their course, they are NOT free of expecting to face the consequences of their choice (think of FoC as being free to pick one’s poison, and facing the consequences; FW implies being able to choose amongst equally-benign options, eg what color shirt to wear).

                    So that should explain why Eve’s foolish decision to eat forbidden fruit cannot be called a FW choice: in fact, it was the ONLY action she could’ve engaged in that was NOT one made using FW, since the fruit-eating prohibition was the ONLY recorded Divine Law that existed, up to that point. She actually had FoC, but again, the tale says she was created without wisdom, and hence was impaired (like a naive child) to make such an important moral decision of whether to obey God.

                    So despite what JWs informally say, YHWH IS depicted as having creating humans to be robots who must follow HIS expressions of Divine Will to the tee, being completely dependent on him for wisdom, and required to follow HIS moral code. That’s NOT ‘free will’, and worse, he actually handicapped them from even being able to exercise their OWN morality over ‘conscience matters’, since that requires WISDOM (the ability to discern which decisions are within one’s domain as a ‘conscience matter’ requires WISDOM, as well).

                    SO yet again, YHWH is depicted as an imperfect designer, creating faulty robots who went off the Divine Plan: who’s fault is that, again?

                    And who left the dangerous wisdom-granting fruit where the mentally-handicapped (morally-impaired) individuals could get to it? Who wanted to punish the mentally-handicapped afterward?

                    Let’s back up: who designed the dangerous wisdom-granting tree, and then placed it where the foolish humans could get to it? Who forgot to “child-proof” the dangerous fruit tree again? Who teased the humans by offering them something they LACKED and desired? (and what child does NOT want to be like their parents? Who punishes their children for playing dress-up like Mommy?)

                    Everyone knows that animals and toddlers will drink sweet-tasting antifreeze (ethylene glycol) if it’s left out in an open container. Toddlers don’t understand that it will KILL them if it’s consumed, and that’s why we have strict Federal laws requiring exercise of reasonable custodianship, making it a crime to leave anti-freeze where toddlers and pets can be killed by ingesting it. Even if you TELL the toddler or pet NOT to drink it, that’s no defense: it’s STILL a crime to leave it where others can get to it.

                    Hence, the story is morally questionable, at best (as are the OT stories of the Flood, the account of Job, misogyny against women, the many accounts of Joseph’s genocidal campaigns against Philistines, Levitical law’s discrimination against disabled, the endorsement of slavery, etc, etc). The OT: it’s just not so “superior”, from a modern moral viewpoint. If that’s how the “good guys” act, then thanks, but I don’t want to meet the “bad guys”.

                    All I’m saying is, think about it sometime, M’ kay?

                    “I still don’t know why I never get comments from other people who might try to give me a different (and possibly positive) direction. I expected to hear of other religions and ways. So far, NADA.”

                    I don’t expect you to “get it”, or to see it as ‘positive feedback’ (you seem to believe ‘positive’ is telling you that what you believe is worthy, when I don’t believe it, for a minute. So wouldn’t my saying that constitute telling you only what you want to hear, preaching to the choir, or “tickling your ears”, as the Bible says? Is that all that’s allowed here? Sharing feel-good platitudes?).

                    Maybe someday you’ll appreciate that what I’m offering is TRUTH, TRUE FREEDOM, the ability to reason beyond the nonsensical story upon which the entire premise of JW theology is built; hence the opportunity to be liberated from one of the oldest scams out there.

                    That’s the greatest gift I can give ANYONE: an opportunity to have THEIR “eyes opened”, just like the fictional Adam and Eve had THEIR eyes opened after gaining wisdom.

                    I’m pointing out that the Torah treats humanity’s desire for moral understanding (which is what “the knowledge of right and wrong” represents: the ability to discern what is moral, using one’s wisdom, or internal moral compass) as if it’s a BAD thing, since YHWH did NOT want humanity to HAVE wisdom or dictate morality. Instead, YHWH wanted to dictate morality (where God’s so-called ‘moral’ code just ain’t that moral: eg the first prohibition against slavery DIDN’T come from the moral lawgiver YHWH, but from Ahuru Mazda, the God of Zoroasterian beliefs practiced by the Persians, who were the FIRST human moral code to outlaw slavery.

                    The irony is that some of the first benefactors of the prohibition against slavery were the Hebrews held captive in Babylon (they apparently were too busy weeping on the banks of the Euphrates to update the Torah). And once released by Cyrus the Great, the Jews returned to their homeland, only to reinstitute the practice of slavery; they didn’t pass along the benefit they enjoyed to others, since the Torah said it was OK, and who can question the Torah? So It only took secular laws a few millenia to come back to the morality of the Persians, prohibiting slavery again only fairly recently (where the Bible was used as justification for slavery, in the Southern states).

                    • Dave,

                      You are like me with regards to responding quickly. I like that.

                      It is a bit disconcerting to see that you and Frank don’t mind insulting Jehovah, his organization, Jesus and my personal intelligence. That is truly sad. I would never post that kind of info. It shows a lack of Menschkeit. (Look it up if you mjust…)

                      I have always had an interest in other peoples’ religions and belief systems. Too bad you can’t see that. You are more interested in “putting down” rather than “building up”. I like to look for common ground, but then, I read that I wouldn’t know trueness if it appeared in front of me. I would trip over it, right?

                      Good bye, have a fine day…………..Cheri

                • Well, Dave, as you well knew before you wrote your treatises to Cheri, you would get the typical answer below. Regardless of her claims to the contrary she wouldn’t recognize a “positive direction” toward a different way of thinking if it was staring her in the face and she tripped over it plus she would attempt to negate it with scripture. Not just Cheri, however, if you have read the comments from so called “christians” you were able to see that most of them travel the a similar road wrapping their fantasies around Jesus instead of Jehovah. As I have often said, “same dance, different dress.” She’s a stalwart fighter though ya gotta five her that.

                  • Hi Frank,

                    Yeah, I didn’t expect anything else, as the authors of the NT were careful to insert psychological tools throughout to reinforce the belief system (AKA the Xian’s persecution complex, something I grew up developing, truly believing that “Worldly Ones” were out to tempt me, with Satan lurking around every corner). It’s pretty silly, really, although it took many years to discard such an attitude of KNOWING that I was RIGHT, and everyone else was WRONG.

                    I still carry that ‘know it all’ attitude of a JW, even now (couldn’t you tell, LOL?). Maybe that explains WHY I felt compelled to expand my knowledge beyond the facts presented in JW literature, study biology, etc. I give them credit for having created the “monster”, by telling a young kid that he was given “The Truth” (and the WTBTS actually printed a tiny blue book that had those words embossed in gold leaf on the spine!).

                    Of course, I don’t write specifically for her, but for anyone else who is lurking, and swayed by logic and rationality. The very fact that JWs are here means deep-down they’re having questions in their mind, and suspect it’s a lie (active JWs are directed from the podium to avoid the internet, since it is filled with “Satan lurking around every corner”).

                    But as you say, many are not influenced by logic and rhetoric, but by their emotional needs; most only seek out that which is what they HOPE is true. As the old saying goes, “the easiest lie for someone to accept is one based on what they WANT to be true”.

                    • I remember when the blue “Truth” book came out. Everyone seemed so excited. It replaced a brown book titled, “Let God Be True” on which many JW’s of that time were raised for years.

          • Hi Cheri, I appreciate you being here and your willingness to share your point of view. I must, however, comment on something you mention. You say that you are concerned because you are not getting to read about anyone else’s experiences here. You also say that you thought no one was writing here anymore. You must not be reading my blog posts because that is the entire thrust of this blog: I am sharing my experiences in lots of different worship settings (including JWs in future posts) and many people are commenting and having other relevant conversations. I think it is mysterious that you claim to be interested in religion and, yet, are not reading the blog that you are visiting that is about that subject. I’m not going to lie–kinda hurts my feelings and makes me think you are here just to argue about JW theology, which sort of misses the point of what I’m doing here.

            • Corinna,

              THANK YOU for writing to me. I am NOT very sophisticated with the computer and had NO experience with a blog. I think I had two items from you, but that was quite a while ago, and I didn’t really understand how to get in touch with you—-I was only getting a chance to write to those who posted comments specifically to me. (I am good with words, but not with this system…….)

              It makes me happy to know that you are continuing your search. I am NOT happy that a couple of people have really “unloaded” on me. I guess that is part of their agenda

              My initial thoughts were to offer my Scriptural knowledge to you, sort of like a Bible answer lady. I have been doing this for about 40 years, and I have heard fine thngs from non-Witnesses. If you ever have a question, or you want to share, I am happy—especially if we can find some common ground. I did not become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses because I had some emtional experience. I really took my time……I had horrible opposition from family members, and they offered me no help or reason to stay with my former religion. I think that is sad– to criticize but not to bestow any knowledge or wisdom whatsoever.

              How are you doing spiritually? Did you get a big response from your info. in the L.A. Times? That is where I heard about your blog. You made my day—I am sorry if I hurt your feelings. I guess we are in a similar “boat”. I feel hurt that people have been attacking me, and when I say “How about a helping hand”?, they renew their attack.

              Have you been to a Kingdom Hall yet? Tuesday, March 26th (which corresponds to the Hebrew calendar of Nisan 14), is the Commemoration of the death of our Lord, Jesus. You should receive an invitation to attend the Hall nearest to you, with the scheduled time as part of the info. There will be MANY non-Witnesses there. I can’t think of a better time to attend. It takes about an hour and is a very dignified occasion. It is the ONLY holiday that Jesus expressly requested us to observe.

              Again, thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. I hope this POST works for you. I did not mean to offend you in your quest.

              ADIOS, Cheri

              • O.K., I’ll try with this little poem by a lady named Harlene Raban. The poem is called, “The Answer” :
                Look around you and applaud:
                The life you see all comes from God.
                Daffodils and bearded goats,
                Grizzly bears in furry coats.
                All the world’s creatures great or small,
                If it weren’t for God, wouldn’t be here at all.
                God walks through the wind
                That makes the trees bend.
                He colors the birds for their protection:
                Butterflies hatch at His direction.
                God is gravity that keeps us in place
                As our world goes spinning around in space.
                God is the smile on a dear one’s face
                And the love you feel in a warm embrace.
                God is the invisible reason
                Behind each day, behind each season.
                When you see life and love, applaud–
                You have just seen a part of God.

                • Frank,

                  Greetings!!! Thank you for the beatiful poem. I truly appreciate it. (Romans 1:20)

                  Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think you wrote to someone else about me. You think I am misdirected??, but I believe you said I was a “stalwart fighter”, and that I deserve credit for that. If this is so, it helped make my day…………

                  Gracias y ADIOS, Cheri

                • OK, so God is seen in sunshine, puppies, and butterflies, but since He gets credit for all the GOOD stuff, shouldn’t He at least be willing to take some of the RESPONSIBILITY for the BAD? (It’s almost like God is the divorced father who wants to do only the fun stuff with the kids during his weekend, but leaves it to his ex- to handle the mundane responsibilities of daily life, like when the kids are sick, etc.)

                  So, is God’s face also seen in the emaciated face of an infant dying of starvation in Africa? Or the crack-baby newborn who’s already infected by HIV?

                  I know, I know: the Xian answer glosses over such uncomfortable buzz-killing questions, and prefers the sing-song nursery rhyme feel-good stuff (oh, here’s another):

                  “Jesus loves the little children,
                  All the children of the World,
                  Red and yellow, black and white.
                  All God’s children in his sight
                  Jesus loves all the little children of the World…”

                  That stance can be condensed: “Good stuff = God; Bad stuff = Satan”.

                  (I’m familiar with the binary overly-simplistic (good vs evil) dualities, AKA easy simplistic answers to complex questions, to avoid the actual laborious effort of thinking.)

                  Remember, God is said to have created A&E, carefully checking his work before declaring it finished (which kinda blows His supposed trait of perfection: why would any “perfect” being need to EXAMINE their work afterwards, then declaring it as “very good”? Wouldn’t they be INCAPABLE of producing anything OTHER than perfection?

                  (In all fairness, I suppose it could be said YHWH NEVER stated His creations were “PERFECT”, only “very good”. He seems to be giving himself a solid C+, maybe a B-. In fact, the concept of A&E’s “original sin” and being ‘perfect’ is a post-Torahaic construct, later introduced into the Tanakh and NT, reading elements into the Genesis story that just aren’t there.)

                  Nevertheless, the story raises troublesome questions:

                  Why did things go off the rails so quickly, soon after the population of humans on Earth had grown to only 2? Why didn’t God fix the problem right THEN? Was He trying to save face in front of the angels, and cannot express regret, which would be an admission of making a mistake?

                  If God were a modern manufacturer of products (say, an automaker), a product liability lawyer would have a field day using public company documents (the Bible itself) that YHWH knowingly continued with mass production (eg “be fruitful and become many, filling the Earth”) even AFTER being fully aware of the existence of a problem with his design prototypes (in disobeying, A&E strongly indicated a product defect existed; they failed God’s own quality-control testing methodologies, a test of their loyalty).

                  But rather than conduct further beta-testing to work out the “kinks” with the flawed prototypes (or perhaps even pushing the reset button, starting all over from scratch), production of humanity continued, and A&E were used as the flawed molds to create many more flawed copies. If YHWH were an auto manufacturer, he’d likely be sued for wrongful death negligence by those who were harmed as a result of his releasing of a defective product.

                  And if you think of Noah’s flood as YHWH’s attempt to correct the defect (a problem which YHWH Himself described as, “evil thoughts in the hearts of man”, i.e. human’s tendency towards evil; this is analogous to how Toyota Corp. knew the Prius had a nasty defect of a tendency towards spontaneous sudden-acceleration), then YHWH has a failed product recall on his hands. After all, what IS the Flood, other than YHWH’s attempt to fix the problem with a MASSIVE Worldwide manufacturer’s recall of ALL human life? It’s an attempt to wipe the slate clean, to start over, thinking that it would fix the problem. Of course, not even one page later, we read that humans are up to their old tricks again (Sodom and Gomorrah), so God’s “fix” of the defect can only be characterized as a dismal failure.

                  It’s funny that God’s justification for the flood (“evil thoughts in the hearts of man”) also serves as his excuse for why He threw in the towel, and said He wouldn’t try to fix the problem, accepting the defect with an “oh, well, what are you going to do about it?” admission of defeat.

                  (JWs: if the Flood was the prototype for Armageddon, you should be very worried about the efficacy of the upcoming Armageddon, LOL!)

                  Once again, OT YHWH is depicted as a bungling fool, displaying human traits and frailties (another example is when God ‘regretted’ making mankind, so wiped them out; then He ‘regretted’ wiping out mankind, so promised never to do it again: now THAT’S MAJOR LEAGUE flip-flopping, the likes of which should make even Mitt Romney step back and say, “Wow, can’t that guy make up his mind?”).

                  Here’s a YouTube video that lays it all out, a parody of the types of commercials produced by product liability lawyers: it goes thru the logic of the approach which could be used:

                  Of course, all faithful Xians are forbidden to consider any of this, and are going to ignore all of the obvious evidence that shouts, “BUT it’s a MYTH!!!”. Instead, they will continue to snicker at all those silly “pagans” (translation of the word ‘pagan’: “anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what WE do are PAGANS!”) for believing in THEIR silly myths, populated by elephant-headed Gods, etc. How silly THEY are, since THEY don’t even have a talking serpent in theirs, like WE do!

                  Sigmund Freud spoke of how believers engage in “the narcissism of small differences”, where individuals will magnify the tiniest differences to justify why THEY are right, and everyone else is WRONG.

                  The original Star Trek series featured an episode on the topic, but dealt with it in terms of racism; the episode was called, “Let This Be Your Last Battlefield”, wherein a planet had destroyed itself in warfare, simply because the population was divided into two mirror image groups: one part of the population was black on the right side of their body and white on the left, and the other group was exactly the opposite.

                  • I know, it’s difficult to move out of the idea of God as a Person. It’s so much easier when we give It form. (I’m going to capitalize “It” only to help my discussion.) Giving It form and naming It allows us to make It responsible for everything while we get to stand aside and play the role of victim and sit on the pity pot. Since you quoted Star Trek, I’ll quote another term that became popular, “May the Force be with you.” Pretty much I see God as an energy, a force similar to electricity which I can use for either “bad” or “good” depending on my knowledge or ignorance of It. Plug a line in a socket and a light goes on. Stick my finger in it and I will get shocked or killed. It becomes my responsibility to know how to work with that energy. I know that many so called Masters like Jesus and Buddha and Lao Tzu and others, and scientific minds like Einstein, Freud and Jung and Joseph Campbell have given us lots of paths and directions to go in but, to me, the truth is that if they found their information within themselves we can find our truth within ourselves, too, and it doesn’t have to all look the same. Creation supplies us with a rich variety of many colors and forms which direct me to the realization that this Creative Force Energy that I call It, produces within Itself variety and as with our fingerprints and DNA we’re all going to pop out looking and being different. I think of this Energy as a Consciousness filled with more possibility and probability than I can possibly know in this lifetime BUT, knowing that doesn’t keep me from exploring It. Most likely my consciousness starts in my mind and as a very small child and then growing up it soaks up, like a sponge, all the ideas of Mom and Dad and significant others like religious figures and teachers and the culture I grow up in. Some good, some bad. I get to grow kind of a pseudo-consciousness because of them and come to believe that if I want to be successful I have to follow the skill sets I learned from them. The Masters I’ve named above found out through the use of their mind that they didn’t have to do that and we can too. We can plug into that energy source of good as the lady in the poem did or we can plug into it for bad. In other words we’re at choice as to what we want out of life. I realize, of course, that small babies, deformed children, many caught in a war may come into a condition where we don’t see them as having choice. I don’t have an answer for them. Could parents have been responsible or the governments or cultures they were born into? I don’t know but I do know from books like Psychiatrist Victor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, that it is possible to mentally think differently even in the midst of horrific developments. I also believe that my own consciousness and actions around these events can uplift them if I choose to do so. I have to be responsible for the choices I make but, if I make a “bad” choice that shows up in the consequences of my actions I can always choose again. I don’t expect It to do any more for me than I can accept. I’ll end with another poem. it’s a little longer:
                    THE REAL ME by Linda Rogers
                    I’ve never raced in outer space,
                    But I’d love to be the first To raise a sail on a comet’s tail
                    And tour the universe!
                    I’ve never fed banana bread
                    To a boa in a baobab tree,
                    But I don’t need a daring deed
                    To prove myself to me!
                    It’s the real me that I’ve gotta be.
                    I want you to see: it’s the real me!
                    I wear as many faces
                    As a crowd of circus clowns.
                    Sometimes I pin a green-bean grin
                    Upon a frumpy frown.
                    But if I place another face
                    On the one that’s really mine,
                    The “me” I hid that’s down inside
                    No one will ever find!
                    It’s the real me that I’ve gotta be.
                    I want you to see: It’s the real me!
                    A boa and me in a baobab tree
                    Are really only dreams,
                    And setting sail on a comet’s tail
                    May not be what it seems.
                    I may not race in outer space
                    But I’ll be satisfied
                    To dance to the beat of my own feet
                    And walk the world with pride!
                    It’s the real me that I’ve gotta be.
                    I want you to see: it’s the real me!
                    Frank

                    • Hi Frank,

                      “I know, it’s difficult to move out of the idea of God as a Person. It’s so much easier when we give It form. (I’m going to capitalize “It” only to help my discussion.) Giving It form and naming It allows us to make It responsible for everything while we get to stand aside and play the role of victim and sit on the pity pot.”

                      Well, that move would be going AGAINST the trend shown in history of making God more relatable, more human-like.

                      Of course, Abraham is credited with being the first to introduce monotheism, but another step in making YHWH into a more personal God was the passage in Genesis 2, saying that God created humans in HIS image. Of course, in saying we are made in God’s image, it’s an indirect way of saying that God is human-like; that construct gave the writers carte blanche to portray God as engaging in human actions (eg walking through the garden, expressing human emotions, etc), AKA anthropomorphism; in terms of thoughts, it’s labelled as ‘anthropopathism’.

                      Remember that the ancient Egyptians worshiped inanimate objects as deities (eg they believed the Sun WAS a God, called Ra); the step towards animate human-like Gods was an evolution. Of course, Christianity took it a step further, by extending the idea of God being personally interested in YOU, even being a member of the family (one’s ‘father’). Of course, that was too revolutionary for many, and explains why Jesus was charged with blasphemy by Jews, who felt Jesus was getting just a bit too informal and down-homey with YHWH (many orthodox Jews feared speaking his name out loud, or writing his name, in fear of assuming undue familiarity with God; saying he’s your Dad or BFF was definitely apostasy)!

                      The risk of anthropopathizing YHWH (ie portraying Him as thinking like a human, using rationality, emotions, etc) is that his behavior often conflicts with the traits that the Bible claims for a perfect being (eg the Flood account in Genesis 6 says He regretted making mankind, so He wiped them out; then He regretted wiping them out, so He promises not to do it again. I count 2 (TWO) flip-flops. However, 1 Sam 15:29 (and elsewhere) says, “God is not a man, such that he should lie, or change his mind (ie show regret)”. Well, which one is it? Can he change his mind or not? The Bible should make up IT’S mind, and quit flip-flopping! Xian apologetists engage in an equal number of painful mental gymnastics in order to mitigate the resultant painful cognitive dissonance of the obvious unresolvable contradictions).

                      Oh, PS I capitalize God, He, etc, not because I believe in God(s), but because it makes it easier to keep track of who I’m talking about.

                      “Since you quoted Star Trek, I’ll quote another term that became popular, “May the Force be with you.” Pretty much I see God as an energy, a force similar to electricity which I can use for either “bad” or “good” depending on my knowledge or ignorance of It. Plug a line in a socket and a light goes on. Stick my finger in it and I will get shocked or killed. It becomes my responsibility to know how to work with that energy. I know that many so called Masters like Jesus and Buddha and Lao Tzu and others, and scientific minds like Einstein, Freud and Jung and Joseph Campbell have given us lots of paths and directions to go in but, to me, the truth is that if they found their information within themselves we can find our truth within ourselves, too, and it doesn’t have to all look the same. Creation supplies us with a rich variety of many colors and forms which direct me to the realization that this Creative Force Energy that I call It, produces within Itself variety and as with our fingerprints and DNA we’re all going to pop out looking and being different. I think of this Energy as a Consciousness filled with more possibility and probability than I can possibly know in this lifetime BUT, knowing that doesn’t keep me from exploring It. Most likely my consciousness starts in my mind and as a very small child and then growing up it soaks up, like a sponge, all the ideas of Mom and Dad and significant others like religious figures and teachers and the culture I grow up in. Some good, some bad. I get to grow kind of a pseudo-consciousness because of them and come to believe that if I want to be successful I have to follow the skill sets I learned from them. The Masters I’ve named above found out through the use of their mind that they didn’t have to do that and we can too. We can plug into that energy source of good as the lady in the poem did or we can plug into it for bad. In other words we’re at choice as to what we want out of life. I realize, of course, that small babies, deformed children, many caught in a war may come into a condition where we don’t see them as having choice. I don’t have an answer for them. Could parents have been responsible or the governments or cultures they were born into? I don’t know but I do know from books like Psychiatrist Victor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, that it is possible to mentally think differently even in the midst of horrific developments. I also believe that my own consciousness and actions around these events can uplift them if I choose to do so. I have to be responsible for the choices I make but, if I make a “bad” choice that shows up in the consequences of my actions I can always choose again. I don’t expect It to do any more for me than I can accept.”

                      Of course, George Lucas was a big fan of the mythologist Joseph Campbell, and George used quite ancient and timeless themes when writing Star Wars. I’ve always felt that Campbell likely kow-towed to believers, and couldn’t just “come out of the closet” and just state the TRUTH of the non-existence of Gods (and why should he? That conclusion is apparent by the fact he studied the World’s Mythology as man-made beliefs, and not divinely-inspired stories. The Bible has so many ‘continuity errors’ in it, that the finger-prints of non-Divinely inspired men are readily apparent to anyone who bothers to look in a rational, sober manner.

                      I can’t say I disagree with your deistic beliefs (I should clarify I’m a firm ATHEIST of the Abrahamic YHWH, but willing to state that I’m an agnostic of Gods in general, with the proviso that I’m willing to believe in ANYTHING (pixies, etc) upon being presented with compelling evidence).

                      Just realize that fundamentally what you’re describing is that it’s the responsibility of EACH INDIVIDUAL to glean what they find worthwhile or useful (and ignore the rest), as if life is a spiritual “All You Can Eat” smorgasborg buffet.
                      That’s fine, as that’s EXACTLY what I do: you study it all, in a quest for more knowledge. The conclusions will follow the evidence, and beliefs change as new information is found.

                      But how is that fundamentally different from the gift that Adam and Eve gave humanity, disobeying God and telling him, “Thanks but no thanks: we think we can do better on our own, using our newly-acquired on-board “conscience” (which is powered by that tasty wisdom-containing carbohydate fuel that you so foolishly left lying about)?

                      Fortunately, man hasn’t simply sat on their hands without God’s direction, but has instead crafted “inferior” moral codes prohibiting slavery, basic human rights for ALL people (even Philistines, slaves, and women). There’s an old rabbinic saying that God laughs in joy whenever the mortals outsmart him; if true, then God should be very happy with the direction rational secular humanists are moving human (despite HIS believers wanting to take us back to the “superior” laws of ancient Near-East wandering tribal nomads).

                    • Now that we’ve walked over each other….(smile) I’ll add these words partly attributed to Emerson: “Every man is an incarnation of eternity,a manifestation in the finite, of that Infinite which Emerson tells us, ‘lies stretched in smiling repose.’ “

              • Corinna,
                I also extend that invitation, as Cheri B. did. It will be the same celebration given in all 109,000 congregations world-wide. There will be approximately 19 to 20 million persons in attendance in virtually every country and island of the sea throughout the earth, doing the same thing–that is, remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind.
                Chuck

              • Hi Cheri, Hmmm…it seems your options must be set to only recieve emails when a person replies to your comment, which is on an old post on my blog. A blog works like a regular website–on the main page are the most current writings about my exploration. Each writing has its own set of comments. You are in the comment section for an old post. If you are interested in seeing the more current pieces, you need only go to OneNoneGetsSome.com–simply type that address into your web browser. I did receive an invite to the memorial for Jesus at the Kingdom Hall…

        • Hi David, I’m so sorry I only just found the notice of your reply and question, hoping you’ll receive it. I guess my broader point was to say that I think Xtians are wrong so many times, in so many ways, about One Right Path. The Bible is used to excuse and accuse, when it’s power is not that its infallibly divine, but that is a collection of stories about the lives of a people who chose the path of YHWH worship. As history clearly shows, that worship benefited some, but not everyone. This is still true today.

          I think God is likely as many-faceted as there are people who have ever lived. I think God is all-encompassing, so there couldn’t be only one religion. I don’t think God runs country clubs. And let’s be real: we all cherry pick, all the time. Just as fundamentalist Christians ignore Paul that we are neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, free person nor slave and God is love, atheist activists ignore ecumenical charity that is offered by many Christian-based groups like United Church of Christ, even Catholics. While one person rightly fights for feeding the homeless, that same person may miss the signs of an abused wife living next door. We’ve got information flowing at us, past us, beyond us at a lightning speed. We do what we can with we have, we ask for help (from others, God, ?), we try to be a better person than we were last year this time, or yesterday.

          Personally I find the secular humanists I know to be sincere, kind, and active in social justice. If a Christian and a humanist get to the same place of making the world a better place by their presence, then for me that surpasses anything religious/non-. I’d be a humanist if I didn’t have that pesky God inclination in me.

    • It is my understanding (growing up, raised in “The Truth”…We as humans are in capable of “promises”. Has The Society Changed views on this too?

      • Della,

        I have never heard such an expression “humans are incapable of making promises”. Do you mean that, perhaps, there was an allusion to the fact that we can’t always live up to all our promises, because of our imperfections? That is as close as I can imagine a response for this query. I have been baptized since the mid-seventies…….

        Cheri B.

    • This is where your journey gets interesting. You start bumping into non-inclusive religious groups who believe that they alone have the “truth”. You will find it not only in Jehovah’s Witnesses but many evangelical, so called Christian groups as well. It all becomes the same dance but wearing a different dress. It’s hard to look past that clean cut look and that gentle smile, shining eyes and gentle confident speech that looks and sounds like they are concerned about you as a person. It is all a ruse. There is no interest in who you are as a person. They are in a fight for your mind. You owe it to yourself to at least look at some objective literature about these groups. In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses there is a wonderful book called, “Crisis of Conscience” by Raymond Franz who was a member of the Board of Directors. He doesn’t bash them. He simply tells the story of his journey out of the organization. In the case of the evangelicals take a look at how they put Jesus in the center of today’s politics and whose preachers are ready to tell their people how to vote and what stands to take on social issues. It isn’t necessary to find fault with any religious group. There is a consciousness of faith in all of them. Look for that which resonates with you in some special way. When you hear it you can say to yourself, “Yes…..Now that I can feel a deep inner response to. It feels right for me.” Take your time. You will not only discover many spiritual paths, you may discover yourself in the process. Best wishes on your journey.

      • Good morning, Frank,

        Thanks for your comment. You certainly are to be commended for your reply. Tanks also that you see Jehovah’s people as a group which make a fine appearance in the community.

        You shouldn’t use four-letter words, though. RUSE. No one likes to be called phony. I am inerested in people—it is no act. The evangelicals say we are non-Christian because we believe that Jesus is God’s son, and not God, Almighty. They hate that. Also, we are NOT livolved in politics—no going to war, no voting, no paid clergy, no telling people they are going to burn in Hell for not accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, no dues, no patriotic displays nor civil disbedience……we are open to the public, we offer free home Bible studies at no cost, all literature, including Bibles are offered free of charge, and we are happy to take on the responsibility. WE ARE NOT DOING THE SAME DANCE, NOR DO WE WEAR THE SAME DRESS……

        Personally, I taught public school for decades. Everyone had to behave, but I NEVER forced anyone to learn. Jehovah doesn’t forcce anyone to worship him; we have free will in that regard. So, I am horoned to be able to present the good news in Spanish or in English. All I ask of my Bible students is to give the Bible and me a chance. If they decide they don’t want it, that is their choice.

        At the end of your comment, you said something like good luck on your journey. Don’t you have any suggestions or directions for me? No hope to offer? Good thing I researched for a few years before I got baptized and looked at the negative literature about us. (There is a lot of anit-Semitic stuff out there, too. Would you suggest that Jews read that before they continue their quest?)

        I enjoy offering a helping hand when it comes to Jehovah, Jesus and God’s Kingdom. Do you have a helping or a critical hand?

        Take care, Cheri Bl

        • Thanks for your reply, Cheri, I was expecting it. May I simply call attention to some of your points: You didn’t like the use of the term “ruse” and you followed it by saying, “I am interested in people…..” and that was where your interest in me ended. You immediately directed yourself to points about Jehovah’s Witness teaching. The points you raise go on to indicate that you have no interest in making social connections with people who vote, salute the flag, engage in politics, etc. etc. etc. and yet you want me to believe that you are interested in people. You have only one interest in people as your comment about the evangelicals discloses, “they hate that”. You put them all under one umbrella. As you approach each door you are not thinking about the person behind the door: “I wonder what they do for work? I wonder what their family life is like? I wonder if they are in school? I wonder if they are hurting today and if I can help them in some way? Instead your thinking is: “I’m prepared to give this sermon. I know what I want to say and I’m ready for any disagreement with what I have to say. I will do my best to put literature into their hands.” Are you willing to hug somewhat at the door because they may need a hug this morning more than they need to be preached to? You see, Cheri, there is more than a mind behind the door there’s a person there. I wonder if I would ever hear you say to some one who seems to be hurting when they open the door, “Oh…Dear…..You know I was coming here today to share the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses but you really look like you could use a hug and I give good ones. How about it.” I’ll end by directing my comments to your last paragraph in which you asked, “Do you have any suggestions or directions for me? No hope to offer?” Oh…yes, indeed I do but you would block every one because your mind has been trained to do so. I’d like to sit in my living room with you sharing a cup of tea or a cold beverage on a hot day and share things about your momma and poppa and sisters and brothers and where you grew up and whether or not you liked greens and hopppin john cuz I love ‘em. I’d want to find some common bonds with my family and find things to laugh about together until we were almost falling out of our chairs. And when we finished I’d want to tell you how much I enjoyed you as a person and that I saw so much more in you than simply being a Jehovah’s Witness. After you left my door I wouldn’t be telling people about “that Jehovah Witness lady”. I’d be sharing what a great visit I had with Ms. Cheri and I probably would invite you back.
          What hope can I offer? That the world you live in is not all wicked Satan’s world. That you need not be afraid to get to know people in a more personal way. That the love you have in your heart is greater than any judgments you have about people of another faith or people like me. But, like you are not there as teacher or JW to force things on to anyone, neither am I here to force my love for you on to you. We are all at choice. I like your smile.

          • Frank,

            It is too bad that you are so upset by what I said. I don’t know you, but is it possible that you were hurt (feelings) by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the point that you have me (and others) all figured out?

            I can’t tell you many many non-Jehovah’s Witnesses I have hugged and how many have hugged me. Do you really think we put on a “game face” and then make seductive plans to entrap people? I don’t know you well enough to give the answers to these queries. Too bad you can’t talk to people who know me or other Jehovah’s Witnesses.

            Why so judgmental on a personal level? You know nothing about my background. I LOVE finding out about people’s point of view, what they do for a living, how they spend their time, how many kids they have, where they were born and lived, etc. (what’s with the scheming?) We don’t get “points” for how many disciples we have.

            I “share” myself with others, and they do the same with me. I can speak on many topics, and so can my brothers and sisters. I love to teach, and it makes sense that I would teach what I love best. Sorry you find us so offensive. Once again, your choice.

            ADIOS, Cheri B

      • You make some good points, and your pretty accurate with your facts. How about this one. God never sanctioned any religion. He gave us laws to enable us to live with one another, and we don’t pay any attention to them. He gave us all that we have, and we pretent that He’s not there. He is the Savior, yet others call Jesus Savior. The others should read Isaiah 43:10-12.

        • Richard, I don’t know who the “we” are that you are judging as not keeping God’s laws. I, too, don’t believe that any one religion has been sanctioned by God. Enjoy what you want to believe. You have nothing to prove or defend. What you have means a lot to you. That’s all that is necessary.

        • Richard,

          The Bible indicates that the nation of Israel was a holy or sanctified group to God. After all, he presenented them, through Moses, the 10 commandments as well as the whole Law Code. (The books of Deuteronomy and Leviiticus desmonstrate the 613 do’s and don’t of that Law). if you wanted God’s favor at that time, you had to ally yourself with the nation of Israel. In other words, Judaism was the sanctioned religion. Also, the royal line to the Messiah had to be protected until the time he came to earth, because he had to come through David’s line. So, God sanctioned Jesus’ lineage.

          Must we be Jews today in order to have divine favor? No, each of us has to approach the Almighty God in Jesus. name for that favor. Now, it is a matter of faith in the Messiah and His role as the King of God’s Kingdom…..(Mathew 6:9-10)

          ADIOS, Cheri B.

  2. Most of what we know we learned from someone else. Take math. We dd not sit down and figure out algebra, etc. on our own. So why are so many always saying they have to decide who God is, or isn’t, all alone w/o any input from people that lived before us? None of us wrote bible, NT or OT, or the koran, which is laced with evil things. We have “faith” when say 2 + 2 = 4 since we can’t prove this is not the truth or even that it is the truth? Since God created the universe it is, IMO, highly unlkely that science will ever be able to provve anything about God. The creature can never prove the creator? Just like a child can never be older than their parent since time has no reverse. The idea that we evolved from other species is bogus. Time is the creator of us, is the god of an evolutonist since we were something else until enough time passed and converted us nto something else. What is missing in this picture? Lots of intermediate stages of development as fossil records proving we evolved. In fact they call it the theory of evolution, but teach it in public schools as fact. Shame on them.

  3. For Frank and Cheri. My mom died several years ago. My dad was in a depression. One day he answered a knock at his door and found two Jehovah Witness ladies standing there. He told them he coundn’t talk because he was so sad about his wife’s death. They apologized for bothering him and left.
    The next week he received a letter in the mail from one of the ladies. In it she told him how sorry she was about mom’s death and that she would pray for him. That letter made his day. He was so amazed that someone he didn’t know would take the time to note his address and send him a letter.
    It’s not all about pushing a religion.

    • Charlotte,

      Thank you so much for your “positive reinforcement”. I really appreciated what you had to say. My spiritual brothers and sisters have mentioned experiences like that, and I must say that I have, also. It is not about pushing a religion. You are correct. We are doing the work that Jesus did. Anyone who reads what he and the apostles said and did, would know that a ministry has to be caring for both the giver and the receiver.

      There is a German word “Menchkeit”. It mengs being a decent human being (toward others). It is what makes us civilized. We owe it to each other, no matter what religion we are.I am happy to serve Jehovah and my fellowman. (And, if I could teach middle school for parts of 34 years, being a minister in the community is a pleasure……..)

      Gracias, Cheri

      • Cheri,
        It is encouraging to know such stories—I know many sincerely caring and kind Witnesses who are gracious like that. Yet a primary tenet of the Witness faith is that they alone hold the truth of God’s message, they are the sole heirs to the Kingdom of Jehovah under Christ’s reign, only active members of their local Hall may have a chance to be resurrected into Paradise after Judgment Day, and there is no spiritual merit in any other religious perspective—that all other believers must convert in order to win God’s favor. That’s how it was taught to me, unless the Society has changed those specific views in the last 20 years that I wouldn’t be aware of?

        If this is still the framework of the Witness belief, it remains an exclusionary view and religious practice. I always appreciate people who bring kindness and uplifting messages to others, give freely regardless of religious conviction. I only take issue with those that do so with an ulterior motive.

        • Greetings, Jill,

          Thanks so much for your response. I am truly grateful that you described me and my brothers and sisters as gracious. Everyone needs a “pat on the back,” correct.

          Let me see if I am able to address (well) the comments you made about Jehovah’s organization. You wrote that we alone feel we hold the truth. As you well know, we base our teachings on the scriptures. If other religions are using the Bible well, then they should be exposed to the truth of God’s word. (John 8:31-32) I can’t think of any country or religion who thinks they have such truth, who wouldn’t die for their beliefs. Really, that is not a new notion, and it’s not that hard to grasp. BUT, I and my brothers and sisters have taken a commission to teach and to preach. WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE. Only Jehovah and Jesus can read hearts. It is up to them to decide who is in any way worthy to live on a paradise earth. We do NOT know others’ circumstances—-we need to be careful as to making judgment calls…… Acts 15:31 reads that both the righteous AND the unrighteous will receive a resurrection to the earth. They will all have the opportunity, for a thousand years to show whether they want to be a part of God’s Kingdom. This means a vast majority of resurrected ones will not be Jehovah’s Witnesses!

          It is rather harsh to believe that there is no merit in other religons’ teachings. For example, I have pored over the Siddur, the Jewish book of prayer. I have not found anything that doesn’t agree with Bible teaching. Jewish people are not big Bible readers. So, that presents a problem which means they don’t comapre what the prayer book says with what the Word of God says. You have to be a thinker before you can be a doer. (This hurts my heart, because EVERY WORD written down in the Scriptures, was written by a Jew….)

          As to conversion, I have never converted anyone, they convert themselves. I can only offer the opportunity to learn, listen and obey. This is WAY BETTER than many religions which have a history of CONVERT OR DIE. (This is a short answer to your comment).

          Inclusive/exclusive—-it depends on how you want to look at it. Soroities, fraternities, religious organizations—-they all include or exclude. Anyone, as you know, is welcome at the Kingdom Hall. Many non-Witnesses attend, especially during the upcoming Memorial season. Some churches are welcoming, others are not so friendly. Hopefully, everyone gets a fine “how do you do”….

          Jehovah’s people are HUGE when it comes to answering local calls, especially during natural disasters. The organization gives its resources to ANYONE and EVERYONE in the neighborhood. I have seen this in person. (Galatians 6:9-10).

          This is VERY LONG. I hope I have given you something to think about today. I am your servant,

          ADIOS, Cheri

    • Well, I have to admit: You’re good! People who are grieving or going through a difficult life process often succumb to the comfort of religious thought. Can’t blame them for that. I still maintain that such comforting is not the hoped for end result of the contact. Since you make a point of your teacher education (I have great admiration for teachers), I will share my education having two Master’s Degrees in Family Therapy and Registered Nursing. I have worked with many families and enjoyed thirty years as a Registered Nurse. This work often put me in contact with Jehovah’s Witness families. It was never my job to turn them away from their faith but the stories I listened to were often heart rending; a baby or child dying in her mother’s arms because a blood transfusion was refused because of the belief. We just stood together and cried……The parents who came for counseling because their young teenage daughter had been molested by an Elder and there was nothing they could do about it because the Jehovah’s Witness teaching is that their must be two witnesses to the event. It hadn’t even been reported to the police by the Elders. The young man who was put in the position of being shunned, or as he explained it, disfellowshipped because he was gay and told that he could not have gay relationships and continue as a Jehovah’s Witness. Even his Jehovah’s Witness parents came, at his request, to tell me that they could not allow him to live at home and they would not be able to talk with him unless it was some kind of important family business. All three were in tears because their family life had been shattered. I have no problem with anyone who wants to become a Jehovah’s Witness. I would simply hope that they objectively know the questions to ask and feel free to read literature that deals more objectively with Jehovah’s Witness teachings besides their literature.

      • Good morning, Frank,

        Thanks for filling me in on your educational and occupational choices. I admire both avenues of endeavor. You must be a kind, compassionate man to pursue these fields. Good for you!

        There is no doubt in my mind that you have talked to many individuals from various religions. Suffice it to say that your experiences have added to your talents and have served your patients well. I try to be of service and comfort in my public Christian ministry, as well.

        When someone has suffered the loss of a friend or family in death. shouldn’t I use all my abilities and resources to give them aid? I can’t imagine simply saying “I am sorry for your loss”. The scriptures are a comfort. If I read or quote, I am making an effort to provide genuine hope. I can’t walk away with “sorry”, and not do more. If you love God and your neighbor, do your utmost.

        As to cases of blood transfusions, you and I both know that no dr. can guarantee that someone will live because they have a transfusion. (1Corinthians 15:28-29). You know that the organization meets with drs. (HLC) to discuss new therapies and technologies. I am sure that I don’t have to repeat them to you. Haven’t you had the same experiences with people of other religions whose children did not survive, blood or not? Soon, this will be a non-isuue, because of all the medical advances (synthetic products). That is wonderful!! You’ve stood with many a family member, consoling them, whether they were Witnesses or not.

        The molestation circumstance needs details (for me). Why was an older man alone with a teenager? Do you really think that this is a common occurrence with Jehovah’s people, the way it has been publicized in other religions? If the congregation was not responsive to the needs of the sister, why didn’t her family go to law enforcement? Citizens have rights. “What goes around, comes around”. If that elder thinks that he can get away with what he did, he has another thing coming. He will be chastised!!!

        Homosexuality is discussed in both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. (1Corinthians 6:9-10) The text is clear—-Paul, under inspiration, says that homosexual (behavior) will not inherit God’s kingdom. It also says, “but that is what some of you were, but you have been washed clean”. Why? Because they ceased from the practice of homosexuality. That seems harsh, does it? Well, the same goes for fornication—-it is also on the list. Single Jehovah’s Witnesses must marry if they want to have intimacy. Neither group is to practice sex outside of marriage, and, of course, we define marriage as the relationship between a man and a woman. (Matthew, the 19the chapter.

        Please understand that neither of us is going to readily change their opinions. Jehovah’s people don’t have any restriction (like a movie or reading list) which prohibits them from perusing other materials. But, why would you spend your precious time reading negative comments about your beautiful faith? However, the door is open. No one stands over your shoulder.

        Each of these topics could be discussed in an “e” by inself. This was long, but I made an effort to present information, rather than cajole or inflame passion. I am always happy to hear from you, Frank.

        ADIOS, Cheri

        • Thanks, Cheri. I have nothing more to say about Jehovah’s Witnesses in this blog. I feel that those who are reading it have heard enough from both of us to know a little more of what Jehovah’s Witnesses are about. They can pursue their own interests and if they are curious about Jehovah’s Witness teachings I’m sure someone will be calling at their door before long. They have heard my admonition to be cautious.

          • Frank,

            Once again, thanks for your response. You are right—most people know that they can find out about us from nieghbors, classmates, workmates, etc. We have a website–jw.org and it is available to anyone.

            Please know that I enjoyed your correspondence. Jesus said, “Be cautious as serpents and innocent as doves”. (Matthew, the 10th chapter.)

            Keep up your good work. I am happy to hear from YOU……………..ADIOS, Cheri

  4. Cheri,
    I appreciate your several posts above, my dear sister. You spoke well and from the heart. You evidenced to me much love for Jehovah, for Jesus, and for your neighbors. I too am a retired public school teacher of many years. In my years in the classroom I could relate much about the actions and attitudes of children, aged 12 to 14 or 15, as I’m sure you could as well. I absolutely love children! I have three married children of my own, six grandchildren, ranging from age 16 to 29, and one 8 month old great-grandson. All have been raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all adhere to the faith, although the youngest is in a stage of flux due to peer pressure, which we all hope he will overcome in time. My wife and I have been married 56 years, having become JWs in our first year of wedlock. I left the Baptist way of religious thinking, and my wife had been Methodist. We couldn’t have hoped for a better way of life, loving and serving God and Jesus Christ, and raising our children to do the same. Besides the satisfaction of a clear conscience, every part of the journey has been rewarding. If we had it to do over, we’d do it basically the same way (with a few minor changes regarding our children–we may have been a bit too strict, but even so, it paid off!!).

    As we both know, Jehovah’s Witnesses come from all walks of life, from all ethnic groups and languages, and mostly are just common folk like you and me. I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul said at 1 Cor. 1:26-29 “For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame, and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon the things that are not that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.” So, as Paul also said, we “boast in God”. I am so happy to be counted among these “not many wise in a fleshly way” or “not many powerful”, or of noble birth. I’m also happy to be among the “weak things of the world” and the ignoble, and “things looked down upon”. For example, in our congregation (yours is probably quite similar), I can think of no one who doesn’t have a beautiful heart. They are friendly, hospitable, and loving to a fault. Most have jobs equal to the average person on the street, however there are a few exceptions. In a congregation of 90, several of these are children and youths, but among the adults, one was a professor in two different major universities (a Ph.D), three, including myself, are retired school teachers, two are nurses, and one is a chemist working with one of the universities nearby experimenting and hoping to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Besides English, Dutch, German, French, Farsi, Spanish, Norwegian, Tagalog, and three different African languages are spoken, which really comes in handy when we come across people who speak these same languages. We then make arrangements to take someone back with us who speaks that language, that is, if they are interested in the Bible and want to learn more. As you can see by the languages spoken, we have great ethnic diversity with about 60% white and 40% African and African American, yet we are all united into one large family, worshipping together, preaching together, and enjoying recreation together. We are truly brothers and sisters and love one another from the heart (John 13:34,35). Interestingly, our congregation is not in a huge city, but one of three congregations in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, population about 97,000, just outside of Tulsa.

    My dear sister, Cheri, please tell me about your congregation, and keep on fighting the “fine fight of the faith” as Paul admonished Christians in his day, which is certainly also applicable in our day when more and more people are bent on wrongdoing of every kind, even though so many of these same people claim a religious affiliation. That is sad, indeed! May we always proudly bear the wonderful names of Jehovah, the Most High God (Ps. 83:18, KJV), and his ruling king, Jesus Christ, and thereby give an answer him (Satan) who is taunting Jehovah (Prov. 27:11).
    Your brother,
    Chuck M.

    • Dear Brother Chuck,

      What a beautiful expression of LOVE and KINDNESS I see in you POST!! Most of the comments I received were rather negative, or difficult to deal with. Thanks so much!!

      I am a retired middle school teacher and live in Southern California. I was baptized in the mid-seventies. So, I am approaching 40 yrs. of service. How wonderful it is that you can share your faith with your wife, our sister. I cannot. My husband is opposed to any religion and ours is one he particularly doesn’t like. Our children are adults–my son is not your brother, but my daughter and grandchildren are your sister and brothers.

      Ever since I was a child, I have been interested in religious activity. I was raised Jewish, but no one in my home had an interest. They dropped me off at the synagogue and ran the other way. I also knew there was something I should “do” for God, but I didn’t know what. Now, I do!! So, I accept the commission to teach and to preach. It is my delight. (I LOVE teaching).

      My own children were not allowed to attend the Kingdom Hall, but where there is a will, there is a way. They were exposed to the truth. I did what I could. I believe that Jehovah blessed my efforts. When I moved to the area in which I now live, I was presented with a choice. I am bi-lingual (Spanish/English). I prayed about it, and I chose the Spanish congregation. What blessings I recevied from my experiences. I have instructed several individuals, particularly teenagers, and many have come to baptism. Que bueno!!!! I will never lose my Spanish, for sure. Latinos are very affectionate, and there is a great deal of hand-shaking, plus hugs and kisses.

      I am proud to “boast in Jehovah”. We lift our heads erect, because we know our deliverance is near. The Bible is our guide, and we are glad it is…….

      Once again, thanks so much for your upbuilding comments!!!! ADIOS, Cheri

  5. Hi again –
    It was interesting to read your words: “I realized I’m a fragment and that’s why the panic has returned.” I am on the other side of your life, having worked in schools for over 35 years and raised two responsible and compassionate children. The thing is all that culturally successful stuff knocked me so far away from my self — and now I find myself wondering , really? Really? What is the point of all this Busy-ness.

  6. Corinna: I was also struck by your comment about being a fragment…Just to say that, you’re not alone. Blaise Pascal (super smart math/science guy and philosopher from the 17th century) said the following (others have said similar things): “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” –from the Pensees. From what I know of the Father, he has a great interest in putting all the pieces back together in the pot, no matter how small and scattered they seem to us.

    • Walt,

      I find this quote to be of real interest. The Creator knows how to fill in the pieces like no one else. Thanks for presenting!!

      ADIOS, Cheri B.

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