Monday, July 1, 2013

I'm Not a Human Apostate!

District Convention season is here, and one of the talk outlines has been making the rounds on the Ex-JW circuit:

"For the next few minutes we are going to discuss how to identify human apostates and what you must do to protect yourself from the poison of apostasy. Let’s first discuss how to identify human apostates. Apostasy often starts with prideful rejection of counsel and escalates into bitterness and jealousy - James 3:14. Because apostates allow bitterness to take root in their heart, they become defiant of and false to the truth. How does this defiance to the truth manifest itself.

The actions of apostates bear three characteristics. These characteristics help us identify human apostates. The first identifying mark of human apostates is commented on at Luke 6: 46 (Why call me Lord, but not do the things I say). Apostates profess to be followers of Jesus, but are not obedient to his commands. A recent example of when this happened was in the mid-70’s when some prominent elders, some who even served at Bethel felt it was below their dignity to witness from house to house, proclaiming the message as commanded by Jesus. They urged others to take it easy because the humble work of witnessing from house to house work was not necessary or unscriptural. The Governing Body expelled the unrepentant apostates from the organization. The faithful slave did not allow the efforts of these apostates to distract it from the primary work of Jehovah’s witnesses, proclaiming God’s word of truth. So the first characteristic we can use to identify human apostates is that they reject God’s service. Many balk at Jesus’ command to go and make disciples.

A second characteristic that identifies human apostates is commented on at Acts 20:30 (men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples for themselves). What is it that apostates want? Most are not content to simply leave the faith they once viewed as true. They want to take others with them. Rather than going out and making their own disciples, many apostates seek to draw away Christ’s disciples after themselves. Like a kidnapper who carries an unsuspecting victim away from his family, apostates prey upon trusting members of the congregation, seeking to carry them away from the flock. In addition they seek to cause divisions in the congregation - 2 Peter 2:1 (false teachers who quietly bring in destructive sects). To accomplish their goal of drawing away disciples after themselves or dividing the congregation, apostates may use smooth talk on the internet, on television or through letters to loyal witnesses of Jehovah. So a second characteristic that identifies human apostates is that they seek to draw away Christ’s disciples after themselves and cause divisions.

A third characteristic manifested by human apostates is they claim to serve Jehovah, yet they reject his representatives - 3 John 9-10 (does not receive anything from us with respect, using wicked words). Apostates claim to serve God, but reject his representatives. They lie to authorities. Through the media they seek to discredit Jehovah’s people and incite bans on our work. For instance, in one country a news report instigated by apostates falsely stated that Jehovah’s witnesses supported Hitler’s regime during world war two. In other countries apostate used the media to accuse Jehovah’s witnesses of refusing to give medical treatment to their children and of deliberately condoning serious sins committed by fellow believers. So a third characteristic that identifies human apostates is that they reject and try to discredit Jehovah’s representatives here on earth.

Now that we know how to identify human apostates, what must we do to protect ourselves from the poison of apostasy? Romans 16:17 (keep your eye on those causing stumble and avoid them).

Suppose a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who was infected with a contagious deadly disease. Would you reason that limited contact is okay? Similarly human apostate as mentally diseased and they try to infect others with their disloyal teachings. Jehovah, the great physician tells us to avoid contact with them. What is involved in avoiding apostates? 2 John 10-11 (never receive him into your home or say a greeting, not to become sharers in their wickedness).

Avoiding apostates means we will not allow them in our homes, reading their literature, watching TV programs that feature them, examining their websites or adding our comments to their blogs. Why do we take such a firm stand? We do not want to become sharers in their wicked works. We love the God of Truth. We are not interested in twisted teachings that contradict God’s word of truth. We love Jehovah’s organization, the organization that taught us thrilling truths. Truths about Jehovah’s name and its meaning. God’s purpose for the earth. The condition of the dead and the hope of the resurrection. Can you recall how you felt when you first learned these and other precious truths. Why then allow yourself to be sour? Poisoned by anyone who would belittle the organization through which you learned these truths.

Does avoiding apostates imply that our faith is not strong enough to discern truth from falsehood? That our faith is not strong enough to discuss different views? Not at all. In our ministry we discuss with those who have different views. Apostates differ from those we meet in our ministry. Apostates are not sincere in their expressions. Their aim is to manipulate your mind and undermine your faith – Psalm 12:2 (untruth they keep speaking). With good reason the Bible then tells us to avoid apostates, just as we would avoid a person who was infected with a deadly contagious disease – 1 John 2:18-19 (many Anti-Christ’s that went out from us).
Because they oppose the truth, apostates are part of the Anti-Christ. They are liars and deceivers, out to destroy your relationship with Jehovah God and his son Christ Jesus. Therefore we want to avoid them for they are not of our sort. Deuteronomy 32:46-47 (apply you hearts to all the words I am speaking and warning; it means your life).

Heeding his inspired warnings means our very life. How thankful we are for divine warnings against apostasy. May we show our appreciation by walking in God’s word of Truth.
My dog Freya, a non-human Apostate
The first thing that stands out is the overuse (one time is overuse) of the phrase "human apostate." It's just...awkward. What is that even supposed to mean? Are there non-human apostates running around and we have to distinguish between the two? It's obvious the writer of this talk was either a pompous windbag trying to sound wordy and intelligent or just needed to pad it for length. By the beginning of the second paragraph, he's already used it four times.

The other oddity about this article is the criteria for apostasy. Let's review the three characteristics of apostates, shall we?

"Apostates profess to be followers of Jesus, but are not obedient to his commands."
Me? Profess to follow Jesus? This is the first I've heard of it!

"What is it that apostates want? Most are not content to simply leave the faith they once viewed as true. They want to take others with them. Rather than going out and making their own disciples, many apostates seek to draw away Christ’s disciples after themselves."
Neither I nor any of my apostate friends actively campaign for active JWs to leave their faith and follow us. We don't even follow each other. You know all that stuff involved in following other people? Going to meetings, wearing fancy clothes, filling out time cards, volunteering at events? We just, you know, don't do that stuff. At least we don't do it for any kind of religion. It's a strangely simple concept.

"Apostates claim to serve God, but reject his representatives. They lie to authorities. Through the media they seek to discredit Jehovah’s people and incite bans on our work."
Again, I looked through this blog and nowhere have I ever claimed to serve God. I love the absolutely flippant denial of any possibility that they might not be God's representatives. As if it's such an obvious fact you'd have to be a fool to deny it. It's also funny how the writer claims apostates lie to authorities and even chronicles a single example, yet fails to address the actual evidence behind it or even the claim in detail. As if simply stating what an "apostate" said is proof enough that it is false.

The rest of the talk is basic fear mongering with zero substance. Plenty of "stop thinking" triggers for Jehovah's Witnesses. But what I'm most upset about is their refusal to include me, an atheist, as an apostate! I so am an apostate!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Thought: Prayer

People pray because they can't accept the fact that they're powerless against something.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 6 Most Annoying Christmas Songs of All Time

One of my guilty pleasures is Christmas music. Specifically, 1950's-era and before Christmas music. Yes, even the religious songs like The First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Silent Night are in regular rotation on my iPhone. Hey, I may be an atheist, but that doesn't mean I don't know a good tune when I hear one, even if I do disagree with the lyrics. But there are some Christmas songs that, when they come on the radio, very nearly give me a rage-stroke. Those songs are, as Thurl Ravenscroft would say, as follows:

Whitney Houston - Do You Feel What I Feel?
The song is kind of...well...blah to begin with, but nothing makes a Christmas song worse than a 1980s/early 1990s attempt to "jazz it up." The result of Houston's rendition of the song is an off-beat, easy-listening-clavinova-heavy disaster.  The rhythm is filled with awkward stops, conjuring images of someone trying (and failing) to dance the robot to it.

Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime
Another travesty of awkward 1980's keyboards. Except this time, no attempt was even made to have a melody. The worst part is that you know by the first "BEWewewewew BEEweeweewee" what you're in for. This song is literally just Paul McCartney singing over random, echoing notes played on a keyboard. Since the keyboard player in this case is not the late Wesley Willis, this is unacceptable.

Spike Jones & His City Slickers - All I Want For Chistmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
Annoyingly high-pitched voice accompanied by Herbert-the-pervert speech whistling. No thank you.

Gayla Peevey - I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Why is it that every female singer from the 1920's through the 1940's sounded like Steve Urkel?

The Chipmunks - The Christmas Song
The Chipmunks are normally annoying, so this naturally extends to holiday music.

NewSong - Christmas Shoes
Because we all apparently want to think of horrifyingly tragic death on Christmas, the Christian group NewSong brings us 'Christmas Shoes.' It's about a boy who, instead of spending the last moments of his mother's life with her, he's out convincing strangers to help him buy her some she looks good for Jesus...when she dies. I need go no further, because Patton Oswalt already covered the intricate layers of fucked-up-ness about this song already: