Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas From Bethel


Roberto di Stefano - Osservatore e Critico del movimento religioso dei Testimoni di Geova said...

Xmas at Bethel:
Would be nice to have some evidence that the picture refers indeed to a Xmas celebration at Bethel, and not some other gathering at Bethel or elsewhere.

Do we have this kind of evidence?

Comment by an ex-JW in Switzerland who had been an elder for almost 30 years.

Roberto di Stefano - Osservatore e Critico del movimento religioso dei Testimoni di Geova said...

Xmas greetings card:
Given Russel death on October 31st 1916 and the "Christmastide 1916-1917" year-end card posted here, do we have to assume that year-end greetings cards were usually sent before October 31st ?

Would be nice to find some reference to this practice, as one could claim it to be fake, as Russel had died by the time year-end festivities started in 1916.

Any clue?

Comment by an ex-JW in Switzerland who had been an elder for almost 30 years.

Theocratic Joker said...

Dear elder of 39 years, please look at the photograph closely. Do you see the christmas garland wrapped around the pillars in the room? Do you see the christmas bells hanging from above? Do you see the presents heaped on the table? What do you think they are celebrating? You have been a witness for years. Don't you know that in the early days the witnesses celebrated christmas?

jworld said...

It is funny they celebrated Christmas back then. I recently read some articles in the WT from the 50's railing against Christmas. Would these have been written by Fred Franz? Anytime an article veers of the road with all kinds of stuff it sounds like Fred (as I have learned from his talks that are online). He spoke and wrote in the same manner it seems. But to be honest I think Christmas is a farce for non religious reason. I call it Consumas now...its really just about material stuff now.

Roberto di Stefano - Osservatore e Critico del movimento religioso dei Testimoni di Geova said...

Dear Jocker,
Thank you for the advice! In fact, I didn’t notice the details you mention until I enlarged the picture.
Believe that these details, in themselves, are enough to prove that it is all about Xmas celebration.

By the way, I am an EX elder, and EX JW, and of course I pretty well knew about the Xmas celebration by the early JW. It is only that I didn’t know this picture and was wondering if one could really say they were celebrating Xmas. But, of course, your comments address this issue.
Thank you so much!

On the other topic, any clue about the other comment I made? How can we ascertain that people or at least, C.T. Russell used to send Xmas cards latest by October, i.e. at least two months before the event?
Any other such card around dating back to previous years?

kroyer said...

Obviously none of you are aware, that the "society" hasn't made a secret of the fact, that the biblestudents celebrated christmas as late as in 1926. You can find the same photograph printet and commented in the historybook "Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom" - 1993.

jworld said...

Kroyer the point of the post was to show that the Society was celebrating a false religious holiday long after Jesus chose them to lead up the preaching work. Obviously Jesus did not pick the Society for what they were teaching regarding when the end would come or other none explicit bible items in the late 1800's through late 1900's. We all can agree to that at this point! It is possible he was looking for an organization that could publish the good news on a global scale though. The society already had the publishing facilities for that. Or he saw they already knew the trinity was wrong and could figure out Jesus was not God?

J said...

Jworld, the point is not that they celebrated christmas and therefore you feel they were invalidated as being commissioned by God or Jesus Christ to spearhead the preaching work.

Since some here seem to be avid students of JW's, you should know that it is not about focusing on one's faults, but it's about focusing on the progression. (Proverbs 4:18,19) Tell me, at what point would Jesus be "allowed" to pick representatives for the preaching work? Did all of those converted in the 1st century immediately know exactly everything that was required, and which elements were no longer required? No, obviously they had faults, and time was allowed for them to be phased out. It is the same issue as the smoking issue. It too was phased out, and many left lucrative tobacco farming, which could've filled JW coffers, but instead, it was about WHAT was right. Please don't think, that because Jehovah's Witnesses were slow about implementing something that you feel is correct, that it in some way shows they are not divinely approved.

If you still don't understand, and you've read this several times, I refer you to verse 19 of the aforementioned scripture.

jworld said...

J, I never said the WT is not being used by Jehovah (unlike the owner of this blog). In reading my bible I agree with all of the core beliefs the WT has written. I consider myself one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

I however don't buy into all of the specifics the WT has written about that can't be validated in the bible and as I have found out lots of other people don't either. Guess what we are the ones that don't get tripped up by all the changes.

Theocratic Joker said...

Jworld, yes it is true. The Watchtower is not being used by Jehovah. That it is being used by Jehovah is simply propaganda being put out by the Governing Body and their public relations staff.

It has nothing to do with all the changes, per se. It has everything to do with good common sense.

However, I am open to learn. If you can scripturally prove to me that the organization is being used by Jehovah today, please do so.

Thank you,

Theocratic Joker said...

J, Many that join the witnesses have come from unfavourable backgrounds and joining the Watchtower Society has been a great improvement. However there are many religions that provide equally well for their followers without the adverse affects of a manipulative belief structure.

For those raised as Witnesses believing they would never have to graduate, never get a wrinkle or grow old, never have to work or think about retirement it is devastating to learn it was all a lie. For those who never set boundaries because it was all set for you (down to whether you can have a beard, smoke a cigarette or buy a lotto ticket), never really learn who they are personally.

It appears around two thirds of all Jehovah's Witness children leave. Worst of all, the majority are baptised in their teens, so leaving results in being disfellowshipped and spending their lives with virtually no contact from childhood friends and family.

High control groups create rules that go beyond accepted laws of the land and beyond the principles of the Bible.

Paul aptly asks at 1 Corinthians 10:29;

"For why should it be that my freedom is judged by another person's conscience?"

J said...
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J said...

Jworld, I've been down this road several times before. I'm still a JW, and no I'm not brainwashed. What does that tell you? It should tell you that I am a free-thinking, reasonable person, that, for example, understands that science and the Bible can co-exist. You know that every so often, there is a scientific or arcaeological (spelling) discovery that backs up the claims of the Bible? Perhaps you should study the SI book in greater detail, and look at more recent publications for some of your doubts.

J said...

As for Theocratic Joker.

First off that scripture. Did you read the context? It was talking specifically about meals, about worship, and about other people's conscience. Food is something provided by God to nourish the body. To call it unclean would not be correct, however other people may view it and become stumbled, and leave the truth due to their own temptation or disgust at the other believing person's actions. Notice he said about something that is nourishing. He is talking about personal preference and not to judge, but respect one another's conscience. He admonished ones in that chapter to "flee from idolatry". He also acknowledged in that chapter, the other person's concerns. The point is, if it is told to you that it has been sacrificed to idols, do not eat. He realizes that as a Disciple of Christ, he has great freedom, but if it makes him look like he's partaking in the ritual, he will not eat it on the sake of other people. He shows both sides in his commentary and that is perhaps where you get confused. He makes statements that follow both people's lines of reasoning - both the strong in the faith, and those that are weak in the faith. He sums up the chapter well when he says in verse 31 (and continues to the end if you're interested) "whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God's glory" .

I'm sorry you took it out of context, but hopefully now you see more clearly. People are not disfellowshipped for having beards, but out of respect for the local culture, beards can be intimidating, hiding the face. In areas where beards are accepted as commonplace, Witnesses don't have to respect facial hair social constructs and pre-concieved norms. Yes, we are being respectful of those who are weak, following biblical counsel. A beard is nothing, but if it inhibits someone from learning valuable lessons from the Bible, then we are willing to give it up. (1 Cor 9:19-23 1 cor 10:32 )

Hope that clears up your misconception.

jworld said...
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jworld said...

J, lol you need to slow down a bit dude! All of a sudden you are talking about Science and the Bible as if I personally don't believe the same? You are being a very bad example of a JW right now. You sound like one of the demonstrations at last year's District Convention. The audience was roaring with laughter. Is this how you are at the door? If you wanted to talk about Science and the Bible, you should have asked me if I think both can exist.

I know this is a blog and people love to go off on tangents, but you should act as if we are face to face. Would you just go off like this if we we in person?

On the topic of science and the bible I do believe both can exist and be in harmony.

J said...

"I however don't buy into all of the specifics the WT has written about that can't be validated in the bible and as I have found out lots of other people don't either. "

You tell me what I should've said when you claim things cannot be validated in the Bible, Because I was led to believe that you believe the Bible in some way has errors of fact, and I was addressing that point you made, and the common opinion is that science and the Bible can't mix, or that archaeology and the Bible are not in tune, so I addressed those. It's called being perceptive and proactive, and I put a lot of thought into what I was going to say. I'm sorry you don't appreciate that and recognize that I was listening to you. I'm sorry you don't feel heard. You see we can go into specifics (which is what I perceive you wish to do) but as I said, I've been down that road before.

jworld said...

Ok here is a repost of my comment above...cleaned up! Good lord it was messy.

Well I think the organization has done some good. Whether that means they are being used by Jehovah is a good question. It’s still possible they have a role to play even if that role is most likely not to the extent the WT portrays.

On the core teachings of the bible, the WT has done a lot of good in cutting through the lies and polluted customs of Christendom. The WT is good at amplifying that truth. As a theological organization they have created some very thoughtful research on countless bible topics. That is what a religious organization should do and we must give them credit for doing a good job there. Even you use the WT Library to answer questions on this blog. Those tools would not be possible without an organization. Since I don’t have any aspiration to be a theologian I must look to an organization to do some of the heavy lifting for me. While I do believe anyone with enough time and devotion could fully understand the bible, the truth is the vast majority of people don’t have the time necessary (and most lack the devotion too!) to achieve that.

I really do wish the WT could have stopped at that point and believe they should have. Paul would never have instituted the structures that the Governing Body has. But, is this the kind of situation where we must not expect perfection? If, over all, they do a good job on teaching bible truth should we accept them for the good they do and work around the other?

jworld said...

J, here are some specifics taught by the WT that simply can't be validated in the bible...

Those specifics are the things that are always changing.

Dates, dates, and more dates. The WT has grieved the Holy Spirit who has had to work overtime correcting the FDS over their fervent belief that even though Jesus could not even say when the End would occur that they could. We were warned against trying to calculate a date. The WT did not heed that warning and in the end has paid the price of a damaged reputation. That is something that pains me and I’m sure it pains Jehovah as well. We have needlessly lost a lot of people who couldn’t get past those errors.

The Blood position. It’s obvious there has been no new light on this since the Bible was written. The WT changes this so often it screams of ridiculous incoherency.

Non bible commentary. I recently was visiting my parents and decided to crack open one of the really old books. There was a discussion of Revelation and the time of the end…While the bible ended at that point and said that new Scrolls would be opened after the end and in the new world, this WT book just kept going! There was no waiting for those new scrolls in this book. It detailed how the cleanup would be accomplished and laid out very detailed plans.

We must accept the fact that the WT can’t restrain itself on some of this stuff. But as my previous post shows they have also done a lot of good. So each person needs to decide if that good is enough to outweigh the not so good. And be careful what you believe that can't be validated in the bible, lest you stumble because the WT was wrong and you can't get past it.

J said...

I tell you Jworld, I feel for you. I don't think you understand the imperative of critical thinking, in the sense of seeing things objectively. I know you think you do but I think you've listened to so many other people about such things, that you've let them teach you, and not you actually think for yourself. I think the graphic that's up right now about "cyclical thinking" has poisoned your mind to not see that there are more answers than just what's inside the box, and there are more conclusions than just what others have said. Let me share with you other conclusions, even though I've said I've been down this road before. Let me share so you can see the other side of the coin.


I myself almost got tripped up by this one, until I realized that I was not reading correctly. Take 1975 as an example. I read a site once that highlighted specific parts of an article that was I think in a KM. If I were to read only the highlighted parts, sure, one can get the wrong impression, just like many take a scripture, and expound on it, and come to the wrong conclusion because they did not read the context. I read the context, and as such I got an overall flavor of what was said. Let's take that 1975 example one step more in-depth. In there it said "wouldn't it be nice..." That is not saying that it will, no where was there a definite, and they knew they don't know the day or the hour, so they didn't say it was coming. They did, however, talk about how people have become more active in the ministry, knowing that we are living in the "last days" (2 tim 3:1-5). In some taking those words beyond what was written by the governing body, many people got the wrong impression, the same as what happened with Jesus (see previous post somewhere on this site for reference, I think it was in John.) when he said things that people didn't understand - the ones that didn't understand, didn't ask "what did you mean by that?" and realized that that Jesus was the means of salvation, they were shocked and left.

J said...
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J said...

The signs of the times told the Faithful and Discreet Slave that the end was coming. When that would come, is still not up to them and they knew it, that's why they never said it. Don't you see how saying "wouldn't it be nice" or maybe it was said "wouldn't it be fitting", that they are in fact inciting ones to action? Those who were incited to action, and maxxed their credit cards, sold their houses off, and later regretted it, well they simply did not follow biblical counsel, for example Romans 13:8. Maxing credit cards is not what the society was implying, and no-where if my memory serves, does it say that that was a viable option "since the end is coming". I know that was long-winded but I feel it's important to be thorough.

Refer to one of my earlier comments. It was in this month's postings so there's not a ton to sift through. Blood is sacred and you're being far too vague for me to adequately answer this question any more than I did in a previous comment.

J said...

Non-Bible commentary.
Again, a bit vague, but I'll try. What is the intent of ideas of how ones can clean up the earth? For example, the scriptures said the last will be first, and the first, last. This implies a staggered resurrection. As such, the re-education work would work in reverse, but still in order. Can you not see that regardless of HOW a work is going to be done and regardless of how it was outlined, the fact of the matter is, the fact is the earth will be restored under God's government? The specifics don't matter (1 cor 15:35) the fact is, it will happen. The intent of the society, again, was to allow ones to visualize the promise, the same as the Israelites were told that they would inhabit, not, "any land" but a land that is "flowing with milk and honey" obviously a desirous prospect. And that's what the new system will be - a desirous prospect. But some may look at the world today and think that the restoration work would be too difficult, especially after "the great war" everyone had a real case of the blah's about how short life is and how inconsequential their actions were. Before 1914, the prospects for the future were good, after, the prospects for the future were really lousy for a lot of people. The faithful and discreet slave provided food at the proper time. It may not have been what you and I need, but it was just what they needed at the time, and you cannot fault them for the love, the intent they showed.

jworld said...

J, are you saying I’m an illogical moderate who should pick a side? I don’t believe absolutely everything the WT prints and I don’t reject the WT because of their past mistakes. Not much more to say there.

jworld said...

The book I mentioned earlier is “From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained” published in 1958. It must have been my grandmothers. The book is of course not included in the WT library, so I can’t quote directly from it. I don’t hold these books against the WT. I merely use them to understand the history of the WT and to learn from the mistakes of the past. People that believed everything in these books ended up being disappointed. Those that didn’t ended up going to school, having families, saving for retirement and being productive members of their congregations all while not experiencing the same disappointment that stumbled the former group.

kroyer said...

Seems that that the discussion has distanced itself from the subject: Did the menbers of Bethel celebrate christmas, or did they not? I'm neither american nor english, therefore I hope you will excuse my "english". @jworld: The reason why I referred to the WT-historybook from 1993 was, that Roberto di Stefano wrote: "that one could claim it to be fake".

No, Roberto di Stefano, that's not possible, as the WT-society itself admitted, that the photo is authentic and even printet it in the "historybook". Why should they, if it wasn't authentic?

On the other hand: The very same historybook contents a picture of C. T. Russels tombstone but doesn't mention the pyramide, which was raised just a few yards away by the IBSA, the Bible Students, with a single word. This in spite of the fact, that pyramidology was a main ingredience of the teaching of "pastor" Russell. Strange, isn't it?

Nevertheless, the IBSA was chosen by Jesus, as "jworld" writes. Hmm....

Jose I said...

About the Watchtower image being pagan is a gross twisting of fact.
The Hebrew word for a watchtower is מצפּה. Comes from a root word that means to 'observe, to lean forward.' These were build on elevations. The watchman had the responsibility to serve as a look out. 'Lean forward'if you will. Hence he would sound the alarm, as it were, to warn about coming danger! Hence, it is from this mental picture or imagery that The Watchtower got its name.
Towers were used in Bible times. People then associated towers with security, safety, etc. In fact Proverbs 18:10 says: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” Are we to assume that Jehovah God is pagan? Not a chance. But God inspired that expression found in Hebrew to illustrate that He is a secure place of safety, security!.

So there is nothing to prevent others from using the same idea of associating such imagery and applying it as they see fit. Watchtowers were used in Bible times by the nation of Israel, pagan nations and even God himself used the term. So your image presented in your web page only adds to the evidence archeology has found that confirms the use of 'watchtowers' in that particular point in Bible history. The image is not the motivating factor to use a watchtower in our magazine. It is the image it conveys from how these were used in Bible times.