Friday, 14 May 2004

AWAKE!'ened by Jehovah's Witnesses Saturday morning

I was just visited by two Jehovah's Witnesses, one of whom was the best I've ever spoken to. Responded to actual questions, was able to converse without seguing immediately back into where he'd left of in a prepared sermon, got interested when I said things, had his chapters and verses straight, didn't misquote, didn't flinch when I quoted verses from the same chapter that didn't support his argument as well as the one he'd chosen. (Didn't, of course, let me get a word in without interrupting, but fortunately I am well-trained in that ancient art.) 
     The other guy was older and was there to drop sermon and get the hell out of Dodge with literature deployed. After I noticed them getting around to "the right way to live" and their mission "to warn people about living in ways that are not correct, and are displeasing to God", I got them to agree with me that "being a Christian so you get to be right about things" wasn't a very spiritual or Christian reason for following Christ. 
     They were, however, very uncomfortable with the idea that this applied, therefore, to elaborate arguments as to there (obviously) being a "select group" of people who were "God's People", and who God (obviously) always has to work through. The idea of being like Anna and Simeon (who, I said, didn't seem to be either Pharisees or Sadducees, any more than we need to take a Catholic/Protestant church affiliation before we can approach God) seemed to really trouble them, as did my quoting Christ's feelings about worshipping in spirit and in truth, rather than in a specific geographical location, or with a special group of people. 
     They showed every sign of being just as entrenched in "You need *US* to properly approach God" as any other religious group I've seen. They used the book of Revelation to argue that people have to "come out" from associations with evil churches, doctrine and traditions or they will be judged as "connected" with them. 
     The silent guy decided to give me a killer argument: He said, "Ok, now. If you claim that this doorway is 6ft high, and I say "No, it is 7ft high!" and we have a tape measure, what is the obvious thing that we should do about the matter?" and waited smugly, as if to say "That's got you. That's the end of THAT nonsense!" 
      My response was "I think we should both wonder what was the matter with us that it was of vital importance to each of us that the other be proven wrong as to something as trivial as the correct measurement of a doorway. The door *is*, and it is as tall as it is. This is more important than our agreeing as to its height. Don't you feel that devoting a lot of time to proving that "we are God's chosen people" and that other people, therefore, aren't; actually inhibits our going ahead and *being* anything that could make that claim worthwhile?" 
      The previously silent guy let the other guy try to field that one, and became silent again immediately (his face judging me a frivolous and unspiritual person), sent a hand-signal to a young JW who was evangelizing at my neighbours, and rooted around in his bag, pulling out his Awake and Watchtower magazines, riffling through them and eventually putting them away without giving me one, jumping in once a bit later to deliver the punch line of his aborted sermon: "The Bible is our Measuring Tape!" 
     I gave him a fond smile which was encouraging and only slightly condescending. The talkative guy, naturally smiled very largely and said to me, "You raise an interesting point" which he then, of course, completely failed to pursue. 
      Then he gave me Russ Heibert/Bob Thonney's argument: "If there is a God, and there are people who seek to serve Him, wouldn't He make a way for them work together?" 
     He saw me pause for half a second to formulate a proper response to that deceptively simple-seeming "rhetorical question used as an argument," and then when he saw me ready to open my mouth and answer it, said, "I'll leave that question with you for you to think about. If there is a correct way to serve God, and He's made it possible to do so, that must tell us something." 
     Then he started right into further "signs that we few are right and the rest of the world is not" verses, and how to judge others who aren't, so we can cut off associations with them. They were uncomfortable with my "Who am I to judge another man's servant?" argument, and my saying that we can judge each other or not as we wish, and that our judgments don't matter if we have no relationship with another person, as we are not put into positions of judgment, and that uninvited judgment says more about the judger than the judged. 
     They said that, within a healthy Christian context, judging could be a positive thing, to which I replied that in theory, yes, it could be, but that in my own experience it all feeds the typical Christian preoccupation with being right. They kept going, switching "correct" for "right" and didn't get anywhere. They spoke of "Well, in the field, there is good seed and also weeds planted, and today there are some who are that 'Good Seed', anointed Christians here to serve God, there's not denying that", so I said "One would hope they'd focus on growing up into tall, healthy plants, rather than building a big sign that says "Hey! WE'RE the Good Seed. Those guys are just weeds!" 
     Eventually they left, the talkative guy having enjoyed an actual debate, and the other guy impatient with him for wasting precious time that could otherwise have been spent disseminating the good seed.

Sunday, 9 May 2004

Arcade controls

After the DHL company misdelivering them, and after days spent on hold straightening the mess out, here are some of the controls I've ordered to make a MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) cabinet. Now I need to build or buy the actual cabinet to put the stuff in, and a refurbished old Pentium to play it, and an I-PAC and Opti-PAC adapter to connect the controllers to the computer.

Thursday, 6 May 2004

You Might Be An Idolater If:

Idolotry is having a perfectly good God, who is a person, not only a figure, to worship and have a relationship with, but instead, you choose to make up extra crap to focus upon instead of Him (rules, a lifestyle etc). If you are an idoloter, you have chosen to block God out of your life with something else. He hates that worse than a wife who finds a blowup doll in her husband's closet.

You might be an idoloter if:

  • You think it’s something akin to blasphemy for anyone but you and people you respect to criticize the church you are associated with. Everybody else is an infidel-unbeliever who can’t understand.
  • You attend church so people will know you are spiritually ‘Ok’ and if you don’t, you assume you aren’t (you attend church not as a natural part of your spirituality, but to try to get or maintain some spirituality by the act of dutiful, regular attendance).
  • You collectively come together to worship your collectively coming together to worship.
  • You feel unsafe without a human-built structure within which to approach God. You ‘worship the church’, rather than ‘worship in the church.’
  • You are willing to alter many parts of your life, habits, dress and time on a daily basis for no other reason other than to accommodate the expectations of people in your church.
  • Your solution to ‘different’ people is to ‘feel they’d be happier somewhere else’ because they ‘don’t fit’ and you don’t feel inclined to accommodate them. (Rather than make the structure accommodate people who could be helped by it, you treat with suspicion any people who aren't helped by it in its current form)
  • Someone’s non-attendance at church means you think, feel and act almost as if they were dead or some kind of traitor/deserter.
  • You aren’t willing to seek out your own God-given answers to your own God-given problems, but badly want to be told what to do by others, either in person or in writing.
  • You’ve built a lovely castle of ‘should’s’ that you will neither stop feeling guilty about not achieving, nor achieve. Contemplating this castle you’ve built makes you much happier than the thought of looking at anything real.
  • You don’t know how to feel good about your lifestyle choices unless people at your church feel good about them.
  • You care more about your church and events related to it than about God Himself.
  • You hope that God will bless you, based upon what you put into the church, and what you sacrifice for it. When you don’t benefit from church, don’t learn anything at church, or are actually hurt by your church, you assume that the problem must somehow lie with you on some level.

Sunday, 2 May 2004


Went to my Dad and Mom's. Dad fixed my car while I fixed his computer. Mom made me supper and talked with me about her unease with what's going on in her church, and offered to let me use her air miles to maybe go to New York City. Coolio.