Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wanda Morrow Clevenger writes

           the Jehovahs   

around midday
on the first day
the Jehovahs browsed
my garage sale

I hadn’t seen a mated
pair in the wild
in over 30 years
but still fingered them
two steps from their ride

suit and tie guy
and elbow-full
of good-news lady
looking scrubbed
clean inside out
on their way to
a 1959 bible class

she purchased
a couple of items
for 6 bucks
and he held them
smiling while she
did the talking

to appease her
Monte told her
we were Baptists
devout Baptists,
he punctuated

I kept quiet about
the agnostic thing
the Giorgio Tsoukalos thing
the polite thing
to do

The Watchtower -- Beryl Cook


  1. Giorgio Tsoukalos is a proponent of the idea that ancient alien astronauts interacted with ancient humans. He frequently appeared on "Ancient Aliens," a television series carried on the History channel from 2010; he was a consulting producer on 23 episodes. He also founded the "Legendary Times" magazine and hosted the H2 series "In Search of Aliens," which ran for one season in 2014 on H2, a digital cable and satellite television network spin-off of the History Channel. The network was replaced by Viceland, which in 2016 ran the "Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch ‘Ancient Aliens’" series: the host, rapper Action Bronson, sits on a couch and smokes marijuana with guest stars while watching "Ancient Aliens." The series was conceived as a way to address disgruntled viewers of H2, the defunct network that had aired "Ancient Aliens" for a time before it returned to the History Channel.

  2. Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian denomination with a worldwide membership of more than 8.3 million. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent and that the establishment of God's kingdom over the Earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity. They rely on their own translation of the Bible, the "New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures;" the New Testament portion, "The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures," was published in 1950 and the entire Bible in 1961. In the 1830s William Miller, a lay Baptist preacher in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, began the Adventist movement within Protestant Christianity; based on his study of the "Book of Daniel" in the Old Testament and the "Book of Revelation" in the New Testament, he predicted the second coming ("advent") of Jesus in 1844. Despite the apparent failure of that occurrence, a number of Adventist churches continued to form. (Baha'is also believe that, Miller's calculation of the timing was correct but reject his understanding of the location and method of Christ's return.) In 1869 Charles Taze Russell became attracted to Adventist beliefs. In 1876 he and Nelson H. Barbour launched the Bible Student movement but the two began to quarrel over doctrinal differences in 1879, and Russell began publishing the magazine "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence" (which, as the "Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom" since 1939, is the world's most widely circulated periodical, 62 million copies every two months in 303 languages). Two years later Russell founded Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society, which changed its name to to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; he also encouraged all who were members of "the body of Christ" to preach to their neighbors and gather a "little flock" of saints. The Watch Tower Society opened overseas branches in the UK in 1900, Germany in 1903, and Australia and Switzerland in 1904, and in 1910 Russell introduced the name International Bible Students Association as a means of identifying his worldwide community of Bible study groups. In 1914 the Bible Students began public showings of "The Photo-Drama of Creation," the first major presentation to synchronize motion pictures with audio (via phonograph records), attracting over 9 million viewers that year. Russell died on 31 October 1916, leaving behind 50,000 printed pages, with almost 20 million copies of his books distributed around the world.

  3. In January the Watch Tower Society elected its legal counsel Joseph Franklin Rutherford as president, who immediately began changing the doctrines and structure of the Bible Student movement. In 1917, on the same day he purged dissidents from the Board of Directors, he released "The Finished Mystery" as volume 7 of Russell's "Studies in the Scriptures," though it was actually written by his loyalists George H. Fisher and Clayton J. Woodworth without the knowledge of the full Board of Directors and Editorial Committee and contained significant departures from Russell's beliefs, including an urging of all Bible Students to cast judgment upon Christendom and its clergy, the adoption of new dates for the fulfillment of particular prophecies, a claim that salvation is tied to membership of the Watch Tower Society, and disfellowshipping (the shunning and censuring of any who reject the interpretations given within the volume or related articles in "Zion's Watch Tower"). Three days later the Army Intelligence Bureau seized the Society's Los Angeles offices and confiscated literature. Rutherford and 7 other Watch Tower executives were imprisoned in June 1918 over the publication of "The Finished Mystery," which was ruled to be seditious due to opposition to World War I; they were sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment but released on bail in March 1919 after an appeals court ruled they had been wrongly convicted; in May 1920 the government dropped all charges.

  4. Unlike Russell, who headed a loosely organized movement and tolerated doctrinal differences, Rutherford imposed a centralized administrative structure (which he called a theocracy in 1938) and required all followers to distribute literature via door-to-door preaching and to provide regular reports of their missionary activity. In 1919 he introduced a second magazine, "The Golden Age" (renamed "Awake!" in 1946, it became the 2nd-most-widely distributed magazine in the world with a circulation of over 60 million copies in 117 languages per issue). In 1925 he gained full control over what doctrines would be taught by overruling the refusal by the five-man Editorial Committee to publish his article, "Birth of the Nation," which contained new significant doctrinal changes. In 1924 he began broadcasting his views on what eventually became a network of 480 radio stations, but his attacks on the clergy resulted in NBC and BBC bans. In 1926 he discredited Russell's teaching on the importance of Christian "character development" or personal "sanctification" and a year later discarded the teaching that Russell had been the "faithful and wise servant" described in Matthew 24:45–47, warning that the desire to revere men was a snare set by the Devil. In 1927 the Watch Tower Society ceased printing Russell's "Studies in the Scriptures." In 1928 he began abolishing the system of electing elders by congregational voting. In 1931 he dissolved the Editorial Committee and thereafter wrote every leading article in "The Watch Tower" until his death in 1942, by which time he had published 21 books. Also in 1931 he introduced the name "Jehovah's witnesses" to differentiate his group from the many other Bible Students groups, and and the term "Kingdom Hall" for their houses of worship in 1935. That year he objected to laws requiring school students to salute the flag and next year declared that baptized Jehovah's Witnesses who dd so were "guilty of death." In 1940, children in 43 states were expelled for refusing to salute the flag, and the Watch Tower Society went to court; with Rutherford personally defending in Minersville School District v. Gobitis. In 1943 the Supreme Court decied that the state laws violated the 14th amendment. Despite significant decreases during the 1920s, overall membership increased more than sixfold by the end of Rutherford's 25 years as president. His burial was delayed for 5 months due to legal proceedings arising from his desire to be buried at Beth Sarim (House of Princes) the residence built for him in San Diego, California, in accordance with his belief that resurrected biblical characters would live there; but Beth Sarim was not a legally zoned cemetery, and he was eventually buried on Staten Island in New York.


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