Convention gimmicks, trinkets and souvenirs – If the end is truly ‘imminent’, why waste time on them?

Two sisters show off their haul of souvenirs from an international convention
Two sisters show off their haul of souvenirs from an international convention

If ever you find yourself at a loose end with some time to kill, I highly recommend scrolling through the “jw_witnesses” account on instagram.

Scanning the heavily manicured pages of JW.org is one thing, but if you want a more realistic glimpse into the bizarre (and often troubling) world of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this web resource is as good as it gets.

Of particular interest is the array of photos showing the souvenirs that have been created and distributed for delegates at international conventions.

Then there are the various images showing elaborate painted backdrops and vintage cars emblazoned with ‘theocratic’ slogans, all apparently put on show simply to give convention delegates a gimmicky photo opportunity.

Here are some examples…

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As someone who spent more of his life in this religion than I now care to admit, it all seems rather perplexing. Just how can all the time and money invested in gimmicks, trinkets and souvenirs be justified by an organization that claims the end of the world is “imminent?”

Don’t forget the aim of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as emphasized by this year’s convention (and ironically emblazoned on many of the souvenirs) is to “seek first the kingdom.” Precisely how is this goal achieved by spending hours making elaborate pendants and fancy bookmarks for convention delegates when 7 billion non-Witnesses around the world are in line for wholesale annihilation at any moment?

“Ah, but none of this is sanctioned by the organization. This is just the work of a few over-enthusiastic individuals” – some of you may retort.

If only that were true.

Watch the JW.org video below, particularly from 0:28 to 1:34, and try to tell me that the making of souvenirs for international conventions does not have Watchtower’s approval and oversight…

Then look at the image below (which can be enlarged by clicking on it), and try telling me that this letter from the Hospitality Committee of the 2014 London International Convention, posted to a congregation notice board as far back as January, does not urge brothers to spend their time making gifts with a “theocratic or London-based theme.”

hospitality

If you read the above letter you will notice that no less than 2,321 volunteered to make “memorabilia” for one convention alone. Imagine the total number of hours that were lavished by all these people stitching, gluing or painting the initials “JW” on whatever paraphernalia they could get their hands on.

And lest we forget, none of this is for the benefit of non-Witnesses who are awaiting divine execution for their unbelief, or even for regular Witnesses who happen to be attending the event. As the above letter expressly states, the souvenirs are intended for distribution to “delegates from other lands.”

As a recent JWsurvey article pointed out, those who are willing to spend big bucks on a week-long stay in a Watchtower-approved hotel are treated like rock stars. The usual rules and protocols, particularly governing ‘worldly’ music in kingdom halls, go out of the window if there are well-heeled brothers and sisters to be entertained.

Indeed, according to the above letter there was no shortage of volunteers at this year’s London International Convention to provide such entertainment.

But eyebrows must be raised among thinking Witnesses who are sincere in their beliefs. How is it possible to explain the veneration of a wealthy elite of worshippers in this way? And how can “Jehovah’s organization” commission the devoting of so much time and energy for the making of cheap paraphernalia when, according to the Governing Body, the clock is ticking and billions of lives are at stake?

 

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Further reading…

Related video…

144 thoughts on “Convention gimmicks, trinkets and souvenirs – If the end is truly ‘imminent’, why waste time on them?

  • July 17, 2014 at 4:03 am
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    @j jay

    It could be an article like this one is what will make one blink in surprise and start to look deeper. Sometimes throwing a bigger topic in someones face could cause them to move on from this site.

    When I first discovered jwsurvey I was researching something about Franz Google brought up jwsurvey. I then started to read other stuff in the blog. Some of it heavy some not, but ALL of it pointing out that this organisation is not what it appears.

  • July 17, 2014 at 4:33 am
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    Is there a copy of that letter please.

  • July 17, 2014 at 4:51 am
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    So basically you are saying you dont think the creator has it right when he tells his people to preach the kingdom. Perhaps the scripture at 2 Peter 2: 3 should read ” Jehovah is not slow as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he knows you have some trinkets to make.”

    And Matthew 24:14 could read “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth (in a minute …….busy right now) for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. But don’t worry because we made you some cupcakes. Nom nom

  • July 17, 2014 at 5:33 am
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    free2beme,

    The “keep calm” poster was a Ministry of Defence poster created (but never issued) in the Second World War.

    The whole phrase is “keep calm and carry on”. It was to be posted in public areas if the Nazi German army invaded Great Britain.

    There were a whole series of these posters created at that time. The phont has not even been changed from the original.

    I should imagine that the wag who created those bags had no idea of the origins of the phrase or how inappropriate it is to use it in a religious context. Ignorance is bliss!!!

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • July 17, 2014 at 6:10 am
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    Many years ago when letters were read about being delegates to special assemblies, I remember feeling that I wasn’t “good enough” and it made me feel bad.

  • July 17, 2014 at 7:52 am
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    I think it was very nice of all those witnesses to make all those welcome gifts for those delegates, but at the same time, it seems like they were treating the delegates as if they are more “special” than the ordinary rank and file. I remember one of the reasons not to celebrate birthday parties is it doesn’t promote humility of the person being honored as The 1976 Awake talks about in the July 8th page 28.

  • July 17, 2014 at 8:37 am
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    Actually the tiny inconsistencies add up to a bigger problem. They are the cracks in the foundation. They make people think, “Really? This is allowed now?”

  • July 17, 2014 at 10:02 am
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    I was listening to Dallas Canada’s videos on Youtube about mind control and his two videos from Steven Hasaan’s books about breaking free of destructive mind control cults and it’s a typical cult tactic to make certain ones feel really special and elite from the rest of the underlings. It’s just another way to make people want to stay in the cult. The Watchtower Governing Body doesn’t miss a trick.

  • July 17, 2014 at 10:13 am
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    How is having those pendants any different from having a cross hanging in your necklace?

    When did the line become that blur?

  • July 17, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    I don’t know why, but this may be a repeat…

    @Patrice: This organization has always had a “have and have-not’s” mentality. The ‘anointed’ can rule, while the rest of you commoners (‘other sheep’) must stay here on earth and tend the garden or sing and play tambourines until we say stop! That is one of the reasons I refused to drink the Kool-Aid from their fountain of lies. According to the bible, Christ died for all, not some elite group.

    BTW; I always wondered who made all the very casual clothes and picnic blankets in those pictures of ‘paradise’. There probably won’t be any textile factories or cheap child labor to run them after Armageddon is done with. Maybe the trinket making is practice for that task?

  • July 17, 2014 at 10:39 am
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    Maybe, since there is time to make trinkets, that the GB can rebuild Beth-Sarim as a summer getaway for themselves?

  • July 17, 2014 at 10:40 am
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    I would rather have a cross around my neck as it at least symbolizes something to do with Christ than a pendant promoting a deified website.

  • July 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm
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    The W,T, often speculates on how God will accomplish the
    mass annihilation of most of the worlds population,
    floods, or fire,! No, too primitive too old fashioned.

    W,T, publication, “Your Will be done on Earth”, ( Jehovah
    could use “Cosmic Rays”, to send people mad causing them
    to slaughter one another,) (Or possibly a rain of “Anti
    Matter”, that has the property of annihilating any material
    thing,)

    What are these writers on?, For some reason I’m reminded
    of the Flash Gordon serials I used to watch at the movies
    when I was a kid, It was Ming the Merciless who used
    diabolical tactics like those mentioned above, But flash
    always had the measure of him.

    But don’t worry brothers, when the mad Assyrians attack
    you’ve got the elders for protection, But my money’s on
    Flash.

  • July 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm
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    JWs have officially begun worshiping the jw.org symbol…does their hypocrisy know no bounds?

  • July 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm
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    International convention delegates travel by commercial carriers, so hopefully no one was on the ill-fated Malaysia Air 17 flight.

  • July 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm
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    Wow! I think Cedars is very correct and this religion/organization is getting desperate!
    I remember the International Conventions very well, all the way back to Montreal in ’77 and ’78, then again in 1985 and the Pure Language in 1990 and the Light Bearers in 1992. We never had souvenirs, trinkets or “gifts” of any kind. We were never asked to make any, either. That was unhear of except for some cute Japanese sisters who would give out little origami bookmarkers or things like that they made themselves.
    I guess the JW.Org stole their ideas and is expanding on it!
    What is with the ‘JW.Org’ everywhere, anyways?!? It is like the JW’s are worshipping the website now. Weird.
    I believe that this group is running out of money and ideas. There will always be poor, pathetic people, like my in-laws, who will never be able to leave ‘The Organization’ because they have absolutely nothing else in life. But anyone who has some thinking faculties will be able to see right through this and start to make their way out.

  • July 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm
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    I wonder how long before the FDS/GB goes after all sites using “JW” in their URLs as trademark violation. Even with prior claim, many cites wouldn’t have the financial backing to defend themselves.

  • July 18, 2014 at 1:39 am
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    Searcher,

    I like the point in your last paragraph!

    The nauseating calendar last year had pictures of the Paradice. The workers were wearing plastic safety helmets. Where is the oil well to make the plastic from? Where are the factories to make everything?

    Fantasy seldom satisfies for very long. The JW “paradise” would collapse within months.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • July 18, 2014 at 4:19 am
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    Yeah last years calendar was so good! I loved the Sci-Fi Jehovah and his galactic council pictures.. Translucent blue crystal throne! So cool.. and makes them look like complete idiots. lol

  • July 18, 2014 at 4:52 am
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    Cedric I love reading your articles. I actually learn a lot of stuff here I couldn’t get anywhere else. You write many things which I do read and like. Your articles on child molestation were an eye opener. I also like articles dealing with money issues and deficits. Those, I also enjoy.

    Now given that here comes my criticism. This specific article is not your best work buddy. I found it comical and ridiculous that you even wrote it. It doesn’t make much sense to me why you even wrote this piece.

    What’s the big deal with it all? It is nice that they made these welcoming gifts to a group of people that were invited as delegates to an international convention that only happens once in a very long time. I think anyone else just reading this without a vested interest in it all would come off that you’re being nit-picky. This is really a trivial issue.

    I’ve been reading your stuff since the beginning and I feel that you’re getting to the point that anything a JW does bothers you. In the beginning, you seemed to be more balanced in all of this, more clinical. Try to keep an even keel in all of this. I mean what is your next article going to be. “JW’s go to the beach-WHY??, If the end is near, why do they spend time there?”

    Well maybe I’m being nit-picky about calling your article a nit-picky article. That’s a possibility.

    • July 18, 2014 at 5:09 am
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      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you like my articles.

      “Well maybe I’m being nit-picky about calling your article a nit-picky article. That’s a possibility.”

      Agreed!

      Cedric

    • July 18, 2014 at 5:13 am
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      JW-4EVER

      As I have already said to someone else…….

      It could be an article like this one is what will make one blink in surprise and start to look deeper. Sometimes throwing a bigger topic in someones face could cause them to move on from this site.

      When I first discovered jwsurvey I was researching something about Franz Google brought up jwsurvey. I then started to read other stuff in the blog. Some of it heavy some not, but ALL of it pointing out that this organisation is not what it appears.

      This article has caused us great concern. Can’t you see how tacky what they are doing is. Also hours and hours spent away from the field service. Thousands of brothers and sisters who could be out preaching the good news. The truth is becoming very worldly. This would not have happened twenty years ago.

      This is not nit picking…..it is informing. Completly different. I’m sure if you asked others they would feel the same.

    • July 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm
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      jw 4ever – 7/18 at 4:52am

      You are talking like a foolish woman (or man). Shall we receive good at the hand of Cedric, and not receive bad nit-pickings?

  • July 18, 2014 at 6:10 am
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    Twenty years ago if you went to an international assembly you would have simply kept your lapel badge.

    I fear that this could become a competition as to who can produce the best trinkets.

  • July 18, 2014 at 7:03 am
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    Several years ago I decided that I wanted to “brighten” up the lives of the people at my local Kingdom Hall and every week I had a small paper bag with some homemade soaps that they might use. I wanted everyone in the hall to get some so every week, I’d hand out about 3 paper bags to 3 different sisters, as a “surprise” for them when they got home and everyone just loved my gifts and it always brought a smile on their faces. Soon, others were doing the same thing. It wasn’t long and a special needs talk was given from the platform that the practice had to stop because it was making some feel “left out”. Enough said. I learned my lesson.

  • July 18, 2014 at 11:58 pm
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    JWwhatever
    are you not being nit picky, I mean why bother posting if it is just to nit pick.

    besides I am sure that most of the JW making those trinkets enjoyed what they were doing, after all it breaks the boredom gives them something to look forward to at conventions besides sitting there for hours on end listening to the same talks year after year after year.

    Just think about the possibilities, JW.org soap, JW.org toothpaste, JW.org tissues, its endless. What a great idea!

  • July 19, 2014 at 12:21 am
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    Thank you Cedars for bringing all this to our attention! I had no idea that the GB was this commercialized with their web site. I reckon the message now is “Advertise! Advertise! Advertise! God’s Kingdom? Nope. JW.ORG! Oh well, close enough.

    I find it incredibly sad that making and distributing these trinkets and entertaining the Convention Delegates, may be the closest thing to fun some of them will ever have.

    The scripture you referred to Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The GB has slightly twisted this scripture into “Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom”….which changes the meaning into something that you will never finish, you have to constantly be seeking God’s Kingdom.

    Another “you’ll never be good enough or do enough” message sent to JWs which, in effect, helps to keep the RF worried, weary, anxious, tired, depressed, etc.

    The scripture says to seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, AND THEN all the things needed for daily life will be added to you. The correct meaning is based on the surrounding context, which is “Do Not Worry”. Matthew 6:25-34.

    How ironic that a scripture meant to keep you from being consumed by worry, instead, induces worry that you will never measure up.

    A sincere “thank you” Cedars for all your hard work in keeping us informed!

  • July 19, 2014 at 1:01 am
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    Time wasting on a much bigger scale, (As Cedars has
    previously pointed out,) is the multi million dollar new
    headquarters with swimming pools, and various sports, and
    recreation facilities, It’s patently obvious they’re planning
    to be here for much longer than the overlapping of just two
    generations.

  • July 19, 2014 at 1:56 am
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    Ted,

    Yes, the GB and their sycophantic supporters are well aware that the “Kingdom of God” is not coming any time soon!

    There’s that teensy weeny point of the good news being preached to the entire planet first!! Currently, there are billions of folks out there on planet earth that do not know anything about JWs.

    This new facility they’re building in upstate New York is there for the long haul. It’s a cheap, controllable centre for their bonkers views to survive well into this century.

    These trinkets are the beginning of a move away from millenniumist finity, and an embracing of the open ended view of God’s Kingdom held by other Christian denominations.

    My dear old Mum is going to yet another teen wedding today! Another spoilt brat is having her “special day”, despite being an immature believer in nonsense!

    Oh how many of these weddings have ended in separation, divorce and, most awfully, decades of unhappy wedlock!

    Get ’em young, get ’em baptised as kids, get ’em married as kids and get ’em having kids to bolster the numbers of this cult. It’s appalling how this cynical religion ties people into it.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • July 19, 2014 at 2:01 am
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    acountrygirl, an excellent post as usual and so true, if JW cannot see that this is a buisness and they are being used as slaves for the GB elite then what can one say, there is so much information on the net, and mainly from the WT own history and publications for any honest hearted one to really start to ask themselves questions, what does God require and what does this org history say.

    The JW are trapped in this org that has become so removed from truth that only mind controlled people within just cant see, but truth lovers will examine and see based on Christs words and his teachings.

  • July 19, 2014 at 2:50 am
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    Patrice

    You are correct bout the competition amongst the JW’s for the Best trinkets! And we all know how evil competition is right? That is why JW’s cannot take part in organized sports or school competition’s bc it is SO BAD! Maybe they are really afraid someone.. somewhere might be having Fun or discovering some fun and satisfaction and accomplishment and dare to share it with others? How dare they enjoy life outside the WT explanation of fun!!

  • July 19, 2014 at 6:49 am
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    Excelsior,
    AsMaking souvenirs a distraction from the house to house
    ministry? Yes, but maybe wer’e going to see less emphasis
    on this , The book publishing industry is in decline and is
    being replaced by electronic media, this drives up the cost of paper and other materials as the company’s providing
    these things also tries to survive, this means there’s less
    profit and less incentive to hawk literature from door to door, Allready we’ve seen the organization cutting down,
    less pages in the literature, smaller books, etc.

    And of course with money pledged by the congregation’s
    this would make up for the shortfall resulting from declining
    sales from the door to door outlet.

    Could there be a connection here, with the comments in the
    Shepherds, and Dukes, article regarding our “Assigned work” and being ready to make the “Adjustments that
    Jehovah directs”?.

  • July 19, 2014 at 8:29 am
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    I was amazed at all the bottle caps!
    Somebody’s had a great time collecting those! I wonder, does the Society realise all the beer drinking going on, or perhaps the discreet collecting of caps from the local public house?
    Anyway, I’m glad they are having some fun in their poor, unfulfilled lives.
    The Bible admonition after all is ‘Keep your eye simple’
    – it appears to apply to minds also.

  • July 19, 2014 at 9:28 am
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    Excelsior, My intended response was regarding your
    comment on the billions yet to hear the good news,(But like
    you I”m blaming my i pad for the error.) In view of the
    enormity of the task of reaching everyone, conserving time
    should be a priority with the G,B.

    Recently on the net, I came across the comments of a
    mathematician, who for some reason decided to work out,
    how long it would take for the population of China to walk
    past a fixed point,one person every two seconds, he came up with a figure of 67 years, and then there would be more
    millions born during that period, So just to give a brief ten
    minute witness to each one would take us beyond Adams
    creation if we counted the years in reverse, as for studying
    and bringing them to baptism, the mind reels, of course if
    there were a hundred million J,Ws, in China it would bring
    the figures down, But there is not.

    I spoke with an elder about this problem, he came up with
    the glib response, with God all things are possible, this we
    know, but Jesus laid the responsibility on his followers not
    on God, then he said it was too dangerous for the brothers
    in some countries, but was it not also dangerous for the
    early Christians, details are unnecessary.

    But all this is assuming that Matt, 24,14, has a modern day
    application, and there”s not the slightest indication in the
    Bible that it has, the apostle Paul indicates a first century
    fulfillment, Col, 1,23.

  • July 19, 2014 at 10:59 am
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    Cheesy grinns, junky gifts, bad singing and bad dancing to distract from the horrible talks and sack lunches at the JW International Convention.

    My kid’s school had a small sing along and play followed by gifts made from all the children for the parents. Three things stuck out to me that day. The kids sing better than I thought they would together. The program was brief (thank you teachers and principal) The gift of a coffee mug painted by my kids I will cherish forever, as it had no propaganda, nor slogans on it, just words of love from two very special people to me.

    My conclusion. My kids are no Broadway nor Las Vegas Blvd singers nor dancers, nor were any of the other kids. However celebrating their lives is what makes my life so special.

    WT conventions, use propaganda and fake good times to venerate 7 SOBs, who don’t let you celebrate the lives of those whom you should love the most, your family. I for one hold my parents and all of yours accountable for the lost love and celebration of your lives. To all of you who lost out on Birthdays like me, by the way, one of the happiest days of my kids lives. I say do not miss what is really going on in these pictures. It is a celebration of the GB and your families are actively participating, while not celebrating the lives of the people who really do love them. Do they love you? You decide.

  • July 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm
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    Re the organisation trying to close down websites containing the letters JW in their URL, I think this unlikely considering that only a matter of weeks ago in the USA they were denied an application to register JW.org as a trademark due to it being similar to the already trademarked jwplayer.com. Sure a trademark isn’t the same as copyright but it still sets a good president regarding potential future claims.

  • July 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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    Double standard….

    Why JW don’t tell parents to work overtime so we can afford to buy our kids a nice pair of shoes or clothes or take them out somewhere nice to eat? Or why don’t they tell our young kids to go to college,get a degree and get a decent job so later in life they won’t struggle so much financially? Why won’t they let you spend time learning art or music or any other hobby you can think of to make life more fun and happy? Because for JW those things are considered vain and useless and a waste of time? But yet there is time to make trinkets, chachkis, and other propaganda for the JW cult. God forbid you try to make your life a little better, but you should always have time to clean toilets (with a smile), clean the KH after service (with a smile), shovel snow in the winter (with a smile), help build more KH in your own personal time and money (with a smile), you get the drift. And it’s all to make someone else happy. If there is time to do all of that then there is suppossed to be time to make my life easier, and more satisfying for me and my family without it being considered a waste of time. If they will allow one then allow the other, then there won’t be no double standard.

  • July 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm
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    Is it great to have a faith and not to be owned. whatever you believe we’ve all pay’ed a price somewhere. Play on x

  • July 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm
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    Isn’t it odd that despite all the spiritual insight the Watchtower has it still does not understand the application of Laminations? From a secular (which is known and fair enough) or a scriptural holy place point of view, either way it’s over. It’s either a ‘positively fourth street’ or a ‘rolling stone’ point of view.

  • July 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm
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    Stand in the shoes of people Watchtower & see how they see you. :-) well think I’ve done Bob now. . Lol;-). Seriously though folks faith or not don’t let them own you. Guilt and fear are their tools and ur weakness is a tool they use. Don’t think twice. Be you.x (everything else is bullsh)

  • July 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm
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    And for the people who feel like ‘hey you’, pink floyd, when you walk in a KH, I know.x

  • July 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm
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    Yuck… JW has become cheap and tacky… if those who were killed standing firm for JW beliefs were alive now they would probably be sickened.. they will be opening up kingdom halls for coffee mornings next..

  • July 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm
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    I love your blog but this is the dumbest article and silliest criticism I’ve seen so far. Please just stick to the real issues, not silly exaggerated criticisms about relatively trivial matters for the sake of it.

    • July 20, 2014 at 12:02 am
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      Thanks Anon1, glad you like the blog. Dare I ask precisely why you think it’s the “silliest criticism?” Is it not so that the Governing Body believe the end of this system of things is “imminent,” and that all our time should be occupied in warning others of this impending cataclysm? Where do you believe the making of pendants, bookmarks and imitation matchbox bibles fits in with this ideology?

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