Meeting with a Rejected Jehovah’s Witness

Ten minutes into my half hour bus commute this morning, just as Mortification of Spin show was ending, I pulled out my earphones as a woman sat on the other side to me and said “Hello!”. She wanted to talk. I wrapped my headphones round the iPod and put it away.

“Where are you going?” I ask. And then after some extraneous conversationing, I tell her I’m a Christian.

She says “So am I!” and then I listen to a fascinating life story for the next quarter hour. Difficult family; time spent abroad; drugs; finding God; doubting God; and then looking round churches in town. She really wanted help, she had gone to a church, and she “wanted homework, not just conversations, written work to be getting on with when I wasn’t in church” but they’d just sent her to a student service where she had not received the intellectual stimulation she wanted. This disappointment led her to search out the JWs because she knew they did home bible studies, and she called them up and they came, “but not straight away, I called them up and I wanted them to come today, I was desperate!” This struck me — urgency is sometimes key!

So she’s with the JWs but they ended up chucking her out for immorality, but she wants to be rejoined. The whole time the story’s going I don’t know when its going to end, so I’m having to be ready to jump in with advice at any possible conclusion.

But it ended there, with her believing much of what the JWs taught, because apparently “the Trinity doesn’t work” but being rejected from their cult due to her not meeting their tastes.

And the story’s over. My turn now. Arrow prayers, arrow prayers.

“You know what I think your problem is?”

“No.”

“You’ve spent your whole life skipping from one person or one group to the next, trying to accept them and find acceptance from them, but not once in you story did I hear you talk about what God thought, and whether he accepted you.

I believe — as I’m sure you know — in God’s law. You and I have broken it. That means that our relationship with God is broken. That’s humanity’s biggest problem, our broken relationship with God. But Jesus died to make that way to God possible…”

“Yes, Jesus is the bridge.”

“Yes.”

And that was almost all I managed. But we talked a little more after that, and I explained that the JWs didn’t want her in their cult because she was damaging their reputation, and that’s all they care about, all they care about is people, not God.

Their entire cult is based around power relations, their peculiar beliefs must remain peculiar, otherwise their peculiar organisation would lose its peculiar power. And so it is with the behaviour of their members, they’ll try to clone you into being a peculiar JW and if you step out of line, then you’re not a peculiar JW anymore, and you’re out of their peculiar cult, because it doesn’t benefit them, they’re not receiving any power through the time, influence and money that you can provide. Everything they do is to gain power for their organisation. It’s all about uniqueness.

True Christianity is different, if I hear that someone who is a Christian doesn’t want to come to my church anymore, I’m devastated, but I’m not inconsolable, because I know that God doesn’t work in my local church only, but that he’s also sovereign over his universal church, so God is in charge of that person, not me or my organisation, I need not worry too much about his/her status with us, only the status he/she has with God. But if you leave a cult’s church, they tell you that “You are leaving God” but this is a lie. You are only leaving them, and they will no longer benefit from the power, influence and money that you provide for them.

I didn’t say all this to her. But I said a bit of it.

“They’re good people though”

“I’m sure they are very moral”

 “But I do get so scared having to talk to the elders, and I want to go to their meeting at the Kingdom Hall tonight, but I know when I walk in there everyone will judge me.”

I always quote John 20:28 to JWs, I like to tell them, “it’s in your Bible and in the real Bible!” Maybe that’s what God will use.

Just before we went our separate ways, I asked her, how come you tried all the churches in town but you didn’t try mine? It’s called Alfred Place Baptist Church.

“Oh, yeah, I went there ages ago, who’s the man there? Thomas is it?”

“Geoff Thomas. That’s my Grandad.”

She loved that. She said that he’d given her and her friend a book about depression. I wonder if it was DMLJ’s Spiritual Depression?

So it was interesting, also disheartening in some ways, but she heard the gospel, at least in part, she appreciated the time I’m sure, and God willing she’ll come to the true Jesus if she has not already. God’s in charge.

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How Christian are the Coen Brothers’ films?

This article is an excellent analysis of the moral world of the Coen brothers movies…

Joel and Ethan Coen’s films […] often take a brutal, Old Testament tack on morality, defining good and evil along Biblical guidelines, and offering little wiggle room for anyone who doesn’t follow the Ten Commandments, or even anyone who strays from the Golden Rule.

The Coens always touch on moral choices, from career criminality to simple codes of personal conduct. And when characters make the wrong choices—which they virtually always do, because there would be no story otherwise—the Coens either laugh at them or kick them in the teeth.

Which actor has ‘unnaturally good rhythm’?

Another gem from John Jeremiah Sullivan on Oscar Isaac:

He turned out to have unnaturally good rhythm. The problem with putting live performances in a narrative movie, the reason nobody does it, is you can’t splice the film together later; if the tempo is even a hair off, between takes, the flow is ruined. So you have the actors lip-sync to a pre-recorded track. But that invariably looks cheesy. In order to get around the problem, T Bone Burnett (who produced the music) sat off camera with a stopwatch, timing Isaac’s individual measures. If the actor were to vary by a split second, they’d have to go back and re-shoot. But there was no variation. “I know it sounds like hyperbole,” Burnett said, “but the whole time I sat there, he never varied.”

How is Inside Llewyn Davis like a folk song?

Something I hadn’t thought about before is one Inside Llewyn Davis’s unusual narrative structure:

The movie takes the form of a folk song: there’s a first verse, then a series of verses – in each of which something awful happens – and finally the first verse comes around again, seeming changed.

John Jeremiah Sullivan, in the liner notes.

How long does it take for a CD to arrive through the post?

My Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording has arrived after a wait of over a month!

The fault was partly mine for thinking I’d ordered it; waiting; and then realising I didn’t actually order it.

Then ordering it again — which actually means I ordered it for the first time — but I wasn’t willing to pay a couple of quid extra to get it from a reputable seller, so I had to do more waiting for it to arrive from whatever strange place in the world it was necessary for it to come from for it to remain cheap.

It came last week but I wasn’t in to sign for it — why I had o sign for it, I don’t know — so I missed it again.

It finally arrived yesterday, from Hong Kong! (Why is it cheaper when it’s come all the way from Hong Kong!?)

Worth the wait though.

What’s the difference between a ‘Disney Classic’ and a ‘Disney Pixar’?

Disney Classics

1. Pixar

Pixar Animation Studios was a company who wanted to make films, they needed money to finance and distribute their films, so they teamed up with Walt Disney Pictures to do that.

My understanding is that up until Toy Story 2, they were still two separate companies teaming together. But then they had a big hoo-hah and almost broke up, because Disney Pictures wanted to pretty much eat them and make Pixar disappear. But then — after lots of arguing — Disney bought Pixar, but promised to give Pixar creative control and their name still on the films they made. So films made by the company Pixar are not just Disney films, they are Disney Pixar films — films made by Pixar Animation Studios, funded and distributed by The Walt Disney Company.

2. Disney Classics

Disney Classics are the — mostly annual — feature length animated releases made by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It started with Snow White, which Walt Disney re-mortgaged his house to make, it was the most expensive animated film ever made for its time. Since Snow White, Disney Animation Studios have — most years — released an animated feature length film, and that is what a Disney Classic is. The most recent is Frozen.

Walt Disney Studios/Pictures make other films too like Mary Poppins and Enchanted, they are Disney films, but not Disney Classics, because they are not the films made exclusively by Disney Animation Studios, they are just made by Walt Disney Studios/Pictures [not Walt Disney Animation Studios].

By now The Walt Disney Company owns loads, they’ve got the Disney Channels, Buena Vista which is their distributing company. They’ve bought Marvel, Star Wars, The Muppets — loadsa stuff.

That’s my understanding of it, but it does get a bit confusing because Disney Classics was a term also used to market the videos, some of which were actual Walt Disney Animation Studios films, but some were things like Pete’s Dragon.

Here‘s a list of those Disney Classics which should officially be called Feature Films of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

What is ‘artisan food’ anyway?

It’s surprising that despite living in a small town, there are still places I haven’t been. One such place we finally paid a visit to last night. Dylan alerted me to the absurdity of one of its supposed aims, to provide ‘artisan bread’. That’s definitely a food name for Generation Y, bread that is not just bread, it’s artisan bread. Of course this is marketing speak for ‘it’s a bit posh’ and ‘hands were used a little bit whilst making it’.

Anyway, this place is a cross between Leon and Pizza Express, but it isn’t a franchise or a chain, which makes it more appealing. (P.S. I think it’s not a chain but it might be).

Aesthetically I approved, apart from an obvious need for a bit of concrete flooring where there was wood panelling instead.

I also have a pet hate of Welsh establishments’ need to put up paintings of Welsh celebrities in wacky colours; and Welsh verse painted in unusual typography. Just because you’re a Welsh place and want to make it clear that you are proud of that, it doesn’t mean that you have to make all your artwork didactic. There are — there really are — thousands of Welsh artists gagging for commissions who would produce some genuinely Welsh, but less preachy, less corny, less tacky work.

One more thing on the interior design… They had white ceramic metro tiles on their walls, they still look good at the moment — I fear it won’t be long before they don’t — but right now, I like ’em too.

Anyway, the food was nice. I had skate and Sibyl had a pizza with an egg on it. My fish didn’t blow my mind, but it was meant to be served with butter which I refused because I was feeling healthy so I’ve only myself to blame. Nice though. Sibyl adored her eggy thing.

They also had a good selection of artisan drinks. Sibyl had a virgin mojito and I had one of their cwrw anarferol, it was from Scotland — I didn’t know that when I ordered it, I thought it was Welsh — but it was nice, oak aged or sumink. And they served it with an ice chilled glass, nice touch.

Word on the location… Really good. Right on the seafront, so with a window seat at the right time you can watch the sunset over the sea. Issue was that only one of us was near enough the window to see the sunset so we had to keep swapping seats. Should’ve booked ahead.

Very blessed to be able to have such an evening. We’re currently thinking of things we won’t be able to do when we have our kid. This is one of them. Privilege to enjoy God’s gifts.