Return of the Dub (plus surprise guest)
Dealing with just one frisky, bright-eyed Jehovah’s Witness is a handful.
One on one is manageable. Two JW’s is more like juggling chainsaws or French kissing alligators.
I had a return visit the other day and now, the JW was returning the 2nd time, but with another Dub.
What would my strategy be? That’s how the day was spent. Planning. Thinking.
In the final minutes before the dynamic duo arrived, I had to ask myself what my real purpose was in putting myself through this ordeal. Well? What is it, Terry?
It comes down to this.
IF these are “good people” a wake-up moment might shake them out of mind prison.
The instinct for Freedom is a powerful stimulant.
I like Earl (I call him Cheerful Earl) and living in a social construct like North Korea where he’s under constant surveillance is not a life anybody deserves.
7:00 pm sharp: The Mighty Dubs ring the doorbell.
Cheerful Earl introduces me to a silver-haired man in glasses and a cheap suit who looks like he’s car salesman friendly. My Spidey senses are on full alert.
I immediately decide to present myself in a way which will cause Brother Bill to grossly underestimate me.
I decide to be Alan Alda from M.A.S.H. Good-natured and straight talking.
I have to get Bill to drop his guard!
The usual chit chat follows us into the kitchen and we all sit at a tall, square table top which will be way too small for comfort or Dub paraphernalia.
I ease into a preemptive speech about “How it’s Gonna Go Down.”
“Bill, I’ve had some unfortunate sit downs in the past with insurance salesmen trying to double-team me into submission and they really have a way of seizing control of the conversation. I think you’ll agree it’s rude. Right?”
My face was the picture of innocence.
Brother Bill shoots me a dead smile. Earl is--well, cheerful.
“I mentioned to Earl the other day, I like to get to know people and let them know where I’m coming from. I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. Okay?”
“Now I’m telling you all this to make a point.
The people who brought me up--who raised me--were what you’d call no-nonsense. They were practical people and not inclined toward church, Jesus talk, doctors, politics or bullshit. Excuse my language. I was raised by grandparents and a great-grandmother. My Mom was around but no Dad.
My great grandmother arrived in Texas in a covered wagon from Tennessee chased by Comanches into Ft. Worth in 1889. Her husband was offered a job as a lawman and she was pregnant with a son. My grandfather was born in 1890. That man was my mentor.”
“Now why the heck is Terry telling me this?, I can hear you thinking. I’ll tell you.
My grandfather was searching for the true religion most of his adult life. He invited religious people to our house and sat me down with him as they gave their sales pitch and explained what they were about.
I’ve seen them all:
Mormons, Theosophists, Baptists, Methodists, Priests, Pentecostals---well, you get the idea. After awhile they all melt together in my mind as people completely sincere and utterly convinced what they believe is absolutely 100% correct. Rigidly convinced!
So, I just wanted you to know I didn’t fall off the turnip truck Monday morning all wide-eyed and eager. I’m not a member of any church. I don’t hate God. I have no ax to grind. I have the same intellectual curiosity as my grandfather--but--I’m neither naive nor a know-it-all.
So, please indulge me just ONE QUESTION before we start--okay?”
Cheerful Earl seemed to enjoy something different coming his way. He was up for it. Brother Bill, on the other hand, not so much.
I got the go ahead.
“Thank you. Here is my question. My grandfather told me something I was to never forget. The most important thing in life is intellectual honesty.
What is it?
“Intellectual honesty is a humble willingness to be WRONG (pause for effect) when facts and evidence go against your most cherished ideas and beliefs.
So here’s my question for the both of you.
(Pause for effect)
“ARE YOU WILLING TO BE WRONG? Or is that just my job this evening?”
All of that was not rehearsed, it was improvised--straight out of my heart.
The two men, to their credit, didn’t take it as a throw down for a fight or even a bullying tactic.
The JW’s were comfortable they were right and completely trained in such a way as to be confident they could demonstrate facts and evidence were on THEIR SIDE.
What they didn’t know was that I would never let them jump into their page-flipping barrage of Scripture reading narrative. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.
So, in a nutshell, every time one of these guys picked up their Silver Sword New World Translation Bible, I would hold up my hand like a traffic cop and put them on pause while I said something or other. It was sort of like I was saying, “Hold on just a few seconds and let me finish my point before you read that” but I wasn’t EVER going to let them start reading.
I can’t remember all the details of that hour because it was all over the map.
I just know one thing--at a certain point--I could see a cloud of suspicion descend on Brother Bill’s face. It tightened up like a drawstring bag and he stopped me with a bold question.
“Have you ever studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses before?” (I think his question was really more of an accusation.)
I had to decide how much I would tell him. I had pretty much determined to use Theocratic War strategy. That’s a fancy way of saying the end would have to justify the means. If cornered, I would pull off my Batman cowl and let them stare into Bruce Wayne’s face.
Game Over and it would all be a big waste of my time.
Here’s what I more or less explained to Brother Bill.
“I mentioned to Earl on Monday, my best friend in Elementary and High School was a Jehovah’s Witness. He was always going on about things such as….”
(I realized suddenly, this was a GREAT opportunity to use my 70 years of experience and show Earl how beliefs had changed in the Organization!)
“Did I know Jesus didn’t have a beard? That seemed really important to him the Jehovah’s Witnesses knew that and all the other churches were wrong.”
As predicted--Earl laughed and denied the Watchtower ever taught anything so silly.
Brother Bill, however, knew better.
Ahhhh, I love it!
I got to watch Bill explain to Earl why such a stupid teaching was taught and later dropped.
Golden Moment! I simply sat and watched. All I needed was popcorn and a beer.
“Terry--what was your friend’s name?”
This could be tricky--very tricky. My best friend was a well-known and beloved Jehovah’s Witness for 60+ years. I could compromise my cover easily by telling him. But heck--sooner or later it was going to be a big reveal anyway. I told him.
Nothing came of it, however, and Brother Bill was satisfied my familiarity with Witnesses had a genuine origin and explanation. He finally got right to the point.
“So, if you think you already know all about us--why are we here, Terry? What can we do for you?”
That was quite a moment.
Indeed. What is the answer to that question?
My head was spinning with possible replies.
“ Well Bill, Earl wanted to ask me some questions when he rang my doorbell and he’s a very nice man. He gave this brochure (I had it ready) and told me to see if I had any questions. I read it cover to cover and...I DO HAVE QUESTIONS. But before you two stack up a pile of answers--what I would really love to do is have a DISCUSSION instead of a lecture. I need a well-reasoned exchange and not a litany of doctrine recited from memory. Are you guys able to sit and reason with me or do I just have to surrender and agree with you? THAT is the real reason you’re here. Come let us reason together--but don’t sell me swamp land or a bridge to nowhere”
The next fifteen minutes or so mostly consisted of the boys trying to grab their Bible and get me to read along. As mentioned--it wasn’t going down. Rope-a-dope can be effective as long as you’re talking at the same time and directing attention toward a weakness in their position.
“Your brochure says that what mankind needs is for God’s government to wipe all the wicked people off the Earth. That seems to be Jehovah’s Witnesses answer to everything: Armageddon.
I HAVE A QUESTION OF WELL-REASONED LOGIC which brings this solution into jeopardy. Want to hear it?”
I have never seen two happier people than Earl and Bill. All I had to do is toss them my softball question and they’d knock it over the fence. They couldn’t wait!
“Sure, we’d love to hear it.”
“Jehovah already tried that solution and it didn’t work the first time, so why would he think it would work any better the second time?”
Smiles vanished. Wrinkled foreheads scrunched. What sort of dumb question was this?
“I’m talking about Noah’s Flood. That was the first Armageddon. God wiped the wicked off the earth completely: every man, woman, child, suckling baby, and all the wicked animals too like bunny rabbits, deer, kittens, and with all those drowned floating corpses God’s master plan was set into motion.
But guys--come on!
Noah was righteous and a man of faith--just like Jehovah’s Witnesses are and when all the wicked started to rot they thought their problems were over. But let’s be honest--the wickedness STARTED ALL OVER AGAIN until---well, Trump got elected, didn’t he?”
I smiled--but the two men sitting at the table weren’t laughing. I kept talking…
“I’m just sayin’...divine holocaust on humanity didn’t solve mankind’s problem AT ALL.
Isn’t it the definition of insanity to keep on doing something that doesn’t work and hoping you’ll get a different outcome? Armageddon one, two, three or a thousand is the SAME plan...Where am I going wrong in my reasoning here?”
I swear to you--if I’m lying I’m dying. It was very quiet.
Then, Bill looked at his watch!
“Terry, we didn’t get around to reading from God’s prophetic word in the Bible or you’d already know our answer. We’d like to talk to you some more but our time is at end.”
Earl, I could clearly see (or think I saw) wanted to stick around and discuss my question. I mean, I may be projecting or wishful thinking--but--he gave Bill a bit of resistance which was immediately shut down.
Smiles, chit-chat, small talk, slow walk to front door. Hands shook, nods, thin promises to “get together soon” and ----they were gone like the white when the snow melts.
I was absolutely 100% exhausted after only one hour. All the tiredness just chopped me down like a tree. I’ve never felt anything quite so heavy.
What just happened?
Was this good, bad, in the middle?
Are they disgusted, confused, angry, wised-up and determined not to return?
I’m confused, I know that.
I’m not sure I can handle the tension. Yes--I was very very tense the whole time; wound up and tighter than a coiled spring.
I don’t know if I wasted my time and theirs or if seeds are planted.
I’ve got no perspective at all right now.
I woke up and started writing this about 2:30 this morning.
I thought I would remember better. I don’t. I really sleepy right now.
That’s all for now.