A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
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28-08-2014, 09:12 AM (This post was last modified: 28-08-2014 09:16 AM by Misanthropik.)
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(26-08-2014 11:08 AM)phil.a Wrote:  
(24-08-2014 04:04 PM)Misanthropik Wrote:  Unfortunately, he seems to view God as a kind of axiom, but doesn't seem to realize that he's doing it.

Well that's the exact problem.

If he "believes" in god, then the belief itself will be projected into his experience of reality, and he will see "evidence" for god wherever he looks. It probably appears everywhere, but most especially he'll project this into the bible.

He's reading the bible thinking it provides "good evidence" for god, but actually he's reading it from the premise god already exists, so there's an element of confirmation bias there, his analysis of the bible is "theory-laden", as Karl Popper might say.

Obviously he's trapped inside a psycological echo chamber.

I reckon you are unlikely to get him out. Whatever you say to him will be re-framed inside his perspective as meaningful on his (theistic) terms, but not meaningful on your terms.

Have fun exploring the circular and self-referential nature of belief systems though ;-)

My advice: don't assert (his perspective can re-frame your assertions on his own terms) but rather - ask questions!

Awkward questions. The more you reflect on his own words, the more awkward your questions will be, so consider listening carefully and making notes during the session and then coming back with the awkward questions the following week.

Phil

I've already been compiling a list of quite a few questions I'm aching to ask him. This past study was just to get a general feel for each others' views; this Sunday will be the real meat and potatoes of the whole thing.

I asked a few questions that kind of threw him for a loop, though. Just small ones here and there to stir a bit of intellectual unrest. For instance, he wanted to reference something in Genesis, so he said "If you look, real quick, at the creation account in Genesis, I'll read a passage for you that'll give you a better idea of what I'm talking about." So, as I flipped through the pages, I asked (with an intentional guise of polite innocence) "Alrighty; and which creation account are we looking at?" He looked at me rather confused, so I clarified "There are two creation stories in Genesis." I could see the data malfunction sparking in his head and he played it off. "Oh, uh, the second one."

I had to force back a smile. Laughat

Before that, he seemed genuinely at a loss as to how I or any non-believer could decide that rape and murder are wrong without believing in God. So I asked him if he believes in "the volcano god." He laughed, but I assured him that I was being quite serious, at which point he scoffed and said "Of course not." I then asked him how he could decide that rape and murder are wrong without believing in the volcano god. I half-expected him to say "Because I believe in the true god," but he surprised me by actually understanding and conceding my point. I then explained to him the nature of morality in a godless universe, and as far as I can tell, he now understands. (Although, he does now wonder "who put" that inherent morality into our DNA. So I explained the evolutionary necessity for morality within a social species and then we trailed off into how "theories" work and then into what we're willing to accept as real evidence and eventually the hour was up)

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28-08-2014, 03:46 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(28-08-2014 09:12 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  I asked a few questions that kind of threw him for a loop, though. Just small ones here and there to stir a bit of intellectual unrest. For instance, he wanted to reference something in Genesis, so he said "If you look, real quick, at the creation account in Genesis, I'll read a passage for you that'll give you a better idea of what I'm talking about." So, as I flipped through the pages, I asked (with an intentional guise of polite innocence) "Alrighty; and which creation account are we looking at?" He looked at me rather confused, so I clarified "There are two creation stories in Genesis." I could see the data malfunction sparking in his head and he played it off. "Oh, uh, the second one."

LOL well that sounds a good strategy, challenging with an innocent smile. I bet he was scoping you out too though, what do you think he learned about you? Did he ask you any probing questions?

Quote:Before that, he seemed genuinely at a loss as to how I or any non-believer could decide that rape and murder are wrong without believing in God.

This is an interesting one and has actually been discussed quite a lot in this thread in the last few days.

It seems to be a common Christian perception that atheists are morally adrift, so there's probably another good opportunity there to indirectly challenge his beliefs! Just make sure you are super nice and polite and hugely concerned with being a good person in the world. In other words - see if you can out-christian him! ;-)

Phil
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28-08-2014, 03:56 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(28-08-2014 03:46 PM)phil.a Wrote:  
(28-08-2014 09:12 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  I asked a few questions that kind of threw him for a loop, though. Just small ones here and there to stir a bit of intellectual unrest. For instance, he wanted to reference something in Genesis, so he said "If you look, real quick, at the creation account in Genesis, I'll read a passage for you that'll give you a better idea of what I'm talking about." So, as I flipped through the pages, I asked (with an intentional guise of polite innocence) "Alrighty; and which creation account are we looking at?" He looked at me rather confused, so I clarified "There are two creation stories in Genesis." I could see the data malfunction sparking in his head and he played it off. "Oh, uh, the second one."

LOL well that sounds a good strategy, challenging with an innocent smile. I bet he was scoping you out too though, what do you think he learned about you? Did he ask you any probing questions?

Quote:Before that, he seemed genuinely at a loss as to how I or any non-believer could decide that rape and murder are wrong without believing in God.

This is an interesting one and has actually been discussed quite a lot in this thread in the last few days.

It seems to be a common Christian perception that atheists are morally adrift, so there's probably another good opportunity there to indirectly challenge his beliefs! Just make sure you are super nice and polite and hugely concerned with being a good person in the world. In other words - see if you can out-christian him! ;-)

Phil

if he brings up the moral theory, you know, you must be a god fearing christian to have morals...ask him why only .07% of US prisoners are non religious while the largest demographic group are Christians Consider

Or why the secular nations like Scandinavian countries enjoy being at the top tier of ranked civilizations in regards to low crime, high family values, low teen pregnancies, low unemployment, health etc all without god, yet a country who is devoutly religious to a fault like...specific muslim countries are all at the bottom of the rankings....seems that not only is there a direct correlation between highly religious populations and low level of quality of life, but that those nations who don't bother to be religious actually come out on top...... Gasp

to expound a bit:

Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, in his article, "Is Faith Good For Us" states the following: "A comparison of highly irreligious countries with highly religious countries, however, reveals a very different state of affairs. In reality, the most secular countries-those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics-are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance-are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute."

A study by Gregory S. Paul, entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look," was done and the study's conclusion was that there was an inverse relationship between religion and poor societal health rates. What that means is that the higher the level of religious belief in a country, the lower the level of societal health (more violent crimes, suicides, teen pregnancies, etc.).

So it seems that a plethora of evidence exists to show that not only do we not need religion in our lives to be good humans, but that having it in our lives can be counter-productive and unhealthy.

Smartass

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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02-09-2014, 06:56 AM (This post was last modified: 02-09-2014 08:09 AM by avalon.)
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
Quote:He even mentioned that a lot of what he interprets, he needs to keep secret because "none of the other brothers or sisters will agree with it."

It seems he's "made the truth his own" in a very literal way, and now he's keeping to the organization's teachings, but views them in his own way. This makes my job a little bit more difficult, because I'm no longer just debunking the tenets of the organization, but also his personally-imagined interpretation of those tenets.

Since he also brought up morality I think your 'job' became much easier. Here's some questions that come to mind:
1. Is it more honest and moral to openly profess your beliefs (as you do) or is it more honest to belong to an organization and keep your true beliefs "secret"?
2. Is he suggesting you join the organization and profess beliefs that you don't actually hold? Would that be moral? Do all JWs proclaim 'Truths' that they don't actually believe as true?
3. By admitting to keeping secrets, he's admitted to being a liar. Why should you think he's telling you the truth?
4. Would he say the same thing if two other elders joined the discussion? Would you say the same thing? So, who is the moral person?
5. If the organization is searching for the "Truth" why can't he discuss his beliefs openly?

Also, show your Mom the hypocrisy: "Mom, why do you want me to study with someone who doesn't really believe? Someone who says one things to the brothers and sisters but believes something else? Is that how you want me to be, someone who says one thing but believes something else? Is that how you are, Mom? What do you really believe?"

Show him and your Mom that, by his own admission, you (the atheist) have the moral high ground.
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02-09-2014, 11:53 AM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(02-09-2014 06:56 AM)avalon Wrote:  
Quote:He even mentioned that a lot of what he interprets, he needs to keep secret because "none of the other brothers or sisters will agree with it."

It seems he's "made the truth his own" in a very literal way, and now he's keeping to the organization's teachings, but views them in his own way. This makes my job a little bit more difficult, because I'm no longer just debunking the tenets of the organization, but also his personally-imagined interpretation of those tenets.

Also, show your Mom the hypocrisy: "Mom, why do you want me to study with someone who doesn't really believe? Someone who says one things to the brothers and sisters but believes something else? Is that how you want me to be, someone who says one thing but believes something else? Is that how you are, Mom? What do you really believe?"

Show him and your Mom that, by his own admission, you (the atheist) have the moral high ground.

As much as I'd love to bring this juicy piece of info to my mom (I almost brought it up to her recently), I decided against it because of how I know she'll react. In the end, when this guy fails to re-convert me, mom will simply make the excuse that "he clearly wasn't a true servant of Jehovah anyway, so no wonder you didn't cave."

I'm sincerely open to new information, yeah, and I'm also enjoying picking apart the arguments of an elder, but the real reason I got into this in the first place was to prove (or attempt to prove) a point to my deluded mother - the point that not even a learned elder of the congregation can provide sound, valid arguments capable of changing my mind. If I give her any excuse on which to fall when she sees that I'm still not buying her brand of bullshit, it will all have been for naught.

Of course, even if she doesn't find out about his real views, when I fail to turn, she'll just end up using the excuse that "I wasn't really open to truth" or "Satan has blinded me" anyway, so…I guess it'll be for nothing either way. Still fun, though. lol

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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02-09-2014, 12:05 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
Misanthropik,
This is a fun thread to read. Please continue to keep us posted on your progress.

Doc
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02-09-2014, 12:06 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(28-08-2014 03:46 PM)phil.a Wrote:  
(28-08-2014 09:12 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  I asked a few questions that kind of threw him for a loop, though. Just small ones here and there to stir a bit of intellectual unrest. For instance, he wanted to reference something in Genesis, so he said "If you look, real quick, at the creation account in Genesis, I'll read a passage for you that'll give you a better idea of what I'm talking about." So, as I flipped through the pages, I asked (with an intentional guise of polite innocence) "Alrighty; and which creation account are we looking at?" He looked at me rather confused, so I clarified "There are two creation stories in Genesis." I could see the data malfunction sparking in his head and he played it off. "Oh, uh, the second one."

LOL well that sounds a good strategy, challenging with an innocent smile. I bet he was scoping you out too though, what do you think he learned about you? Did he ask you any probing questions?

Quote:Before that, he seemed genuinely at a loss as to how I or any non-believer could decide that rape and murder are wrong without believing in God.

This is an interesting one and has actually been discussed quite a lot in this thread in the last few days.

It seems to be a common Christian perception that atheists are morally adrift, so there's probably another good opportunity there to indirectly challenge his beliefs! Just make sure you are super nice and polite and hugely concerned with being a good person in the world. In other words - see if you can out-christian him! ;-)

Phil

I know much better than to get too personal with these people. The less he knows about my personal life, the better. After all, the faith predators seek a wounded victim because the faith virus embeds most successfully in a vulnerable host. If I tell him about my alcoholism, he'll see that as something to exploit. (Or as an example of how Satan has me in his grasp) Same with my relationship issues and suicidal thoughts. The most I've revealed to him is that I am very interested in discovery and knowledge, and that I discover such knowledge through logical and demonstrable scientific means. Any time his questions got too personal (which they only rarely did), I kept my responses vague regarding myself, but specific to the point/topic at hand.

I do intend to open up a little more to him as we continue our discussions, but in a pre-planned, almost scripted sort of way. Giving him just enough to keep the discussion going without revealing anything he can try to use against me. I'll be walking a pretty fine line, but I'm good at it. Thumbsup



*UPDATE*

Study has been rescheduled for tomorrow. Details forthcoming.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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02-09-2014, 06:02 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(02-09-2014 11:53 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  
(02-09-2014 06:56 AM)avalon Wrote:  Also, show your Mom the hypocrisy: "Mom, why do you want me to study with someone who doesn't really believe? Someone who says one things to the brothers and sisters but believes something else? Is that how you want me to be, someone who says one thing but believes something else? Is that how you are, Mom? What do you really believe?"

Show him and your Mom that, by his own admission, you (the atheist) have the moral high ground.

As much as I'd love to bring this juicy piece of info to my mom (I almost brought it up to her recently), I decided against it because of how I know she'll react. In the end, when this guy fails to re-convert me, mom will simply make the excuse that "he clearly wasn't a true servant of Jehovah anyway, so no wonder you didn't cave."

I'm sincerely open to new information, yeah, and I'm also enjoying picking apart the arguments of an elder, but the real reason I got into this in the first place was to prove (or attempt to prove) a point to my deluded mother - the point that not even a learned elder of the congregation can provide sound, valid arguments capable of changing my mind. If I give her any excuse on which to fall when she sees that I'm still not buying her brand of bullshit, it will all have been for naught.

Of course, even if she doesn't find out about his real views, when I fail to turn, she'll just end up using the excuse that "I wasn't really open to truth" or "Satan has blinded me" anyway, so…I guess it'll be for nothing either way. Still fun, though. lol
That's cool. At least you see the truth. But I was always amazed by how different JWs talk in private vs in front of other JWs. The fear of saying what you really believe is amazing. I've heard of whole families that stayed in even tho' no one really believed the crap, till one day the Dad talks to the Mom and says he doesn't believe. Then she says, 'Me too! I haven't believed for years, but was afraid to say anything.' They break it to the kids and it's the same story. Makes you wonder what everybody really believes in the Org....
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02-09-2014, 09:42 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
(02-09-2014 06:02 PM)avalon Wrote:  
(02-09-2014 11:53 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  As much as I'd love to bring this juicy piece of info to my mom (I almost brought it up to her recently), I decided against it because of how I know she'll react. In the end, when this guy fails to re-convert me, mom will simply make the excuse that "he clearly wasn't a true servant of Jehovah anyway, so no wonder you didn't cave."

I'm sincerely open to new information, yeah, and I'm also enjoying picking apart the arguments of an elder, but the real reason I got into this in the first place was to prove (or attempt to prove) a point to my deluded mother - the point that not even a learned elder of the congregation can provide sound, valid arguments capable of changing my mind. If I give her any excuse on which to fall when she sees that I'm still not buying her brand of bullshit, it will all have been for naught.

Of course, even if she doesn't find out about his real views, when I fail to turn, she'll just end up using the excuse that "I wasn't really open to truth" or "Satan has blinded me" anyway, so…I guess it'll be for nothing either way. Still fun, though. lol
That's cool. At least you see the truth. But I was always amazed by how different JWs talk in private vs in front of other JWs. The fear of saying what you really believe is amazing. I've heard of whole families that stayed in even tho' no one really believed the crap, till one day the Dad talks to the Mom and says he doesn't believe. Then she says, 'Me too! I haven't believed for years, but was afraid to say anything.' They break it to the kids and it's the same story. Makes you wonder what everybody really believes in the Org....

That's what happens when you have the ever-present threat of losing everything and everyone you've ever loved or known looming over your head. Any deviation from the established doctrine on the part of a baptized individual is grounds for disfellowshipping.

That's another thing I have to keep in mind. If I give him any reason to cease further study with me, he may very well inform the rest of the elders and I will be officially shunned by all. This doesn't bother me in the least; I would consider it a badge of honor, but it would mean that I don't get the chance to plant some seeds of doubt with congregation members again.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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22-09-2014, 06:53 PM
RE: A Very Misanthropik Bible Study
So we finally got around to meeting again yesterday. He's been busy with work, so it was the only time he could work me into his schedule.

I'm kind of disappointed, too; I was starting to feel all proud of myself for scaring him off. Rolleyes


Anyway, he and I talked for about 3 hours about a lot of shit. He brought two copies of the publication "Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?" so that we could read through it together. He said he wanted to stray away from the Bible (reasoning that I don't accept it as the inspired word of a creator, and its words would thus be lost on me), and instead read the book because it "raises a lot of talking points for us to discuss." He was very sincere about familiarizing himself with my point of view, and said that he read through the first chapter of the book so that he could imagine what I might think as I read it. (Is he...dare I say it...actively trying to put himself into the mind of a non-believer?) We then read the first two paragraphs and paused for discussion. He asked what issues - if any - I had with what had been written in those paragraphs. I told him "Well, to be honest, I've kind of got an issue from the very beginning with the emotional appeal of the chapter's title." ("What Can Add Meaning to Your Life?", which I felt was presumptuous and emotionally predatory) For the next 3 hours, we never got any further into the book.

Our discussion took a lot of twists and turns; as these sorts of discussions generally do. It's less a study of the Bible and more a couple of guys having a relaxed discussion about theology and life in general. In the beginning, I actually kind of had a fire in my belly because I know so much of religion's emotional exploitation and its tendency to prey on vulnerability in the target victim, but he was careful to defuse that. (Not that he succeeded, but he took the conversation in a different direction and I didn't bother going back to the issue) Instead, our discussion branched off into personal life meaning and eventually to morality and to the value of intellectual honesty. There was a bunch of filler, but with such a huge and complex conversation, I can't remember every point that was made or topic that was addressed.

At one point we were talking about why God's rules for living are, in his view, good for us, and why it is justified that God keep us away from things like promiscuous sex and drug use and things of that nature. He referenced Galatians 5:19-21.

"19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

He had just finished his lengthy speech about how God is a loving father who keeps us away from these harmful things when I raised a finger and asked 1) why drunkenness is mentioned alongside hatred, 2) if God was a jealous god and, if so, why jealousy is a bad thing and 3) what defines "sexual immorality." He answered that jealousy is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as it's not taken to excess, and then we delved into drunkenness - including what defines "drunkenness" - and never got back to the immorality thing.

He did eventually make a point that stood out to me and which I had a difficult time countering. I asked him why it's ok to eat shellfish now, but not ok to live a homosexual lifestyle. I expected him to go into a loose "new covenant" argument and claim that Jesus made things all fine and dandy, and to an extent, he did. But what he ultimately said was that, while the "old law" no longer applies, the principles of God still do. So, we no longer have to stone gays to death, but it's still not ok to act on gay desires because the "principle" of the matter - homosexual acts being sinful - still applies. I had not heard this appeal to principle before, and I wasn't entirely sure where to go with it.

Soon, though, I asked "Well then what, exactly, is the 'principle' of not eating shellfish?" He said he wasn't sure, but speculated (baselessly) that maybe "other nations" (ones who were against Jehovah) ate shellfish and God didn't want his people to be confused with them, or something of that nature. It was as stupid and smirk-inspiring as it sounds, and I said "Those nations probably drank water, too, but I don't see anything about that in the Bible." He emphasized that he didn't know exactly why God declared certain animals to be off-limits (along with certain fabrics), but trusted that God had a good reason. This then trailed off into a conversation of why some rules - like those of a parent - don't make sense, but he trusts them anyway because God is the divine "parent" and knows what's best.

In fact, he used that justification for a lot of what went on during the conversation from thence forth. He claims that he doesn't know a lot of why God did/does certain things, but that he trusts his divine judgment on the matter(s). Unable to think of any more substantial way to counter this "principle" argument, I simply told him that these rules are stupid and that there was never any tangible reason to refrain from bacon or shrimp, and so I dismiss God's "judgment" on the matter entirely.

Disappointingly, in a desperate effort to validate the stupidity of OT rules, he even stretched so far as to claim that "Maybe the entire nation was allergic to shellfish; I don't know." He's a super nice guy and is genuinely sincere, and even he knew how stupid that sounded, but I still couldn't help but laugh in his face. (For a black guy, he sure turned a bright shade of red)

Toward the end of the discussion, we ended up in "blood transfusion" territory, and I asked him what he would do if his child were dying in front of him and needed a blood transfusion. He did the usual Witness acrobatics: trying to down-play the effectiveness of using blood in medicine; over-played the emergence of blood-fraction treatments (which raised the question of which part(s) of blood are "sacred"); claimed that there were other ways to stop bleeding and prolong life; etc. I stopped him and said "Seriously. Without all of the bullshit. Your child is laying right there, right now, in this kingdom hall, and there is no other way to save it than to give it blood from the IV bag that I hypothetically have in my back pocket. What are you gonna do?"

He wanted really badly to keep doing backflips, but he knew he had to really face the hard question, and after a long pause, he looked at me and said very humbly "I just don't know that I'd give it blood. I'd be like Abraham on the mountain with Isaac when Jehovah told him to kill his son. I would just have to trust in Jehovah's word and trust that my child would be resurrected; but it'd be a very difficult choice, and that's why I don't have kids."

I told him straight-up that this was a very serious problem within the doctrine for the very reason that it would cause him to virtually kill his own child (through lack of intervention), and I even declared that he, too, knew that letting his kid die would be wrong, and that's why he was having such trouble with it. Again, he fell back on trust in God's judgment as his security blanket.

The conversation was topped off with a discussion of why I fail to believe, and, knowing that he ultimately wishes to convince me, I gave him a straight-forward illustration similar to the one I outlined in the OP. I said "Ultimately, you have to think of it this way: I don't believe in Jehovah for the very same reason you don't believe there's an invisible, incorporeal, but intelligent entity living in my back yard. This entity demands that you worship it, so believing in it is very important. If I told you to have faith, you'd dismiss it as insufficient to make you truly believe. So what you have to do is think of precisely what it would take for you to believe - to truly, sincerely believe - that this entity exists in my back yard. That's exactly what it would take for me to believe in Jehovah. Think about that as hard as you can, and I'll see you next Sunday."



Overall, the discussion was very enjoyable for both of us and, despite the heavy subject matter, was civil and lighthearted the entire time. He's a cooler guy than I had imagined; to the point that I'm able to openly mock his beliefs as irrational (albeit in a joking and non-vitriolic manner) and he doesn't take it personally. He is more than happy to meet again next week so we can delve further into the book. That excites me because, having read the book already, I know that there are very specific claims that are debunked directly by science. (After the chapter about meaning, it moves on to subjects like the Big Bang and evolution and fine-tuning) It's one thing to wax philosophical at endless length, but it's an entirely different thing to argue scientific fact vs. fiction. That'll no doubt lead us into the validity of Watchtower claims, which will lead inevitably into me asking why the Watchtower lies and hides information. For all of his theological backflipping and unsubstantiated beliefs, he's otherwise a very reasonable guy, and I'd like to see what he says when he's shown direct evidence of his organizations misdeeds.

Interesting developments:

- He claims explicitly that he doesn't understand or agree with Jehovah's command to refrain from blood. He thinks blood transfusions should be just fine - despite his preprogramed excuses for why blood is "bad" - and "doesn't see the issue." But it is scripture, so he trusts God's judgment.

- He has absolutely no problem with tattoos whatsoever, and even desires to embed a full sleeve on his right arm. Historically, the organization is very much against tattoos, and he neither understands nor agrees with Jehovah on the issue of ink. When asked why he doesn't get a tattoo, he claims two reasons. 1) "I trust Jehovah's judgment and don't want to disappoint him," and 2) "I don't want to 'stumble' anyone who might just be coming into the organization. I represent Jehovah and want to look the part."

- He proclaims a deep desire to not only get tattoos, but to buy a motorcycle and live the life of freedom that he used to. I asked him what is wrong with doing just that, and he said "Nothing. I just trust that Jehovah has his reasons for not wanting me to."


For these and a lot of smaller reasons hinted at only briefly during the 3-hour conversation, I eventually said to him "You know, if my mom was sitting here right now and heard you saying all of these things, she would regret asking you to be my study guide. She would look at me and say 'John, Satan presents himself as an angel of light, and that is exactly what [REDACTED] is doing. Jehovah is very clear on these things, but [REDACTED] is painting them like they're really not so bad so he can lead you further away from Jehovah."

He laughed, but he was kind of taken aback and asked if that's really what she'd say. I was straight-forward with him. I said yes, and pointed out that both he and my mother are devout followers of the same belief system, and yet hold radically different views on the doctrine itself. I then asked "So, which one of you is the real christian, and which one should I listen to?" He fumbled over his words a bit, and quickly turned my attention back to Jehovah's "principles" to avoid answering the question directly.

I have a good feeling about this guy. Partly, anyway. On the one hand, he's a very heavy believer, and has done much to establish what he feels is a well-reasoned foundation to his beliefs. On the other hand, every time he speaks, he betrays an underlying sense of disagreement with the doctrine and a measure of what could arguably be called skepticism regarding theological matters as a whole. Sometimes, I feel like there's no way he's gonna turn and I'll end up completely disfellowshipped and I'll never see him again. (Which would suck, because he's interested in becoming my new client and I am not losing any more money) Other times, I feel such confidence in the "vibe" that I'm getting that I came home and joked to my sister "I've got him. I've fucking got him. He'll be an atheist by next year."

I really can't pin this guy down. He's a very reasonable individual, and yet he's kind of reasoned himself so far into his faith that I wonder if anyone could ever pull him back out again. I just don't know how things will play out. I guess I'll just keep planting seeds of doubt in his mind as best I can. Thankfully, he's more than open to a change of mind. He's not said so directly, but by the way he talks and thinks and the way in which we discuss things, I know he'd have no choice but to cave if given the proper push. (Like I said, he's actively trying to understand the world through the eyes of a non-believer - even if only so he can better reach me) If not, then my confidence in my ability to read others will be dealt a very serious blow.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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