Since its inception in 1881, the Watchtower Bible and Tract society, A.K.A. Jehovah’s Witnesses, has proclaimed that only 144,000 human beings will go to heaven. They get that number, of course, from Revelation 14:1-5, where we read that they are those
who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.
They are identified as “male virgins” who have not defiled themselves with women (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἳ μετὰ γυναικῶν οὐκ ἐμολύνθησαν παρθένοι). Not surprisingly, that tidbit is not significant to Jehovah’s Witnesses, who concentrate on the fact that this literal number — only 144,000 and not a person more — will be the exclusive beneficiaries of heaven. Everyone else, including virtually all Jehovah’s Witnesses, will have to settle for paradise earth.
You’ll see in their literature many depictions of shiny, happy people endlessly picking fruit and petting animals on paradise earth. This video points out a real problem for the Watchtower that stems from, on the one hand, its insistence that only 144,000 will go to heaven and yet, on the other hand, quite a few more than that number have (cumulatively) partaken in the organization’s memorial “communion service,” consuming unleavened bread and wine — something reserved solely for those who will be among the 144,000 in heaven.
Something’s gotta give. Either the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society will eventually have to abandon its claim regarding the relatively tiny number who will be admitted to heaven, or they will have to somehow break the bad news to all the credulous Witnesses who have been partaking of the religion’s communion service thinking that they had gotten the Golden Ticket when, in fact, they really didn’t.
Just imagine the shock these poor folks are in for when the time comes and they don’t get to go to heaven but are stuck picking fruit and petting animals forever on paradise earth. Oh, and by the way, all of you who aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses are totally shafted. Not only, according to the Watchtower, do you have no shot at heaven, you have no shot at living on paradise earth either. So, you’d better pick whatever fruit and pet whichever animals you can now, before it’s too late.
Yes, I know it’s still February, so I have no reasonable expectation of anything but winter weather right now. But the 2010-2011 winter seems to have started earlier and been harder than usual. We had lots of wind and rain here in Central Ohio last night (I admit that drifting off to sleep to the sound of the steady clatter of rain against the windows and the wind rushing through the pine trees outside our bedroom window is rather nice), though the rain turned to sleet, and then to snow, this morning. I’m glad I’m inside, warm and dry, sipping my morning coffee, and watching through my office window as everything starts turning white again. I actually do like the snow and wintry weather (I posted a few thoughts about that last fall, when the fall colors heralded the approach of Old Man Winter), but I confess that after endless weeks of gray, dreary weather, I’m looking forward to seeing some spring sunshine. A thought that plays on my mind a lot on days like this is “There will be only light and warmth and beauty in heaven.” On a day like today, the prospect of eternal, perfect, “heavenly weather” is more than a little appealing!
As you know, Greece has been in a state of tumult for the past year as protests against the government’s efforts to curb its profligate spending have convulsed the country, especially in Athens. Personally, I don’t have much sympathy at all for government workers who refuse to face realty and tighten their own belts in the face of unsustainable government budget excesses that literally not only have bankrupted their country but, given that Greece is already a badly limping member of the EU, have seriously strained the general fiscal health of the Union as a whole. When annual expenditures far exceed income, something’s gotta give. The worrisome aspect of this simmering Greek unrest is, in my view, how similar it appears to be to what could easily happen here in the United States if some kind of fiscal sanity and restraint (not to mention a return to grown-up behavior by certain fatuous lawmakers) doesn’t soon re-take control of our governmental brain. The last few days’ worth of budget-related turbulence in Wisconsin has all the earmarks of the beginnings of what you see here in this video. Obviously, we can all hope and pray that it won’t happen here, that significant numbers of agitated American citizens won’t degenerate into the violence currently wracking Greece. But I’m not so sure. As the situation in Greece shows, it doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite a fire. And fires, let’s remember, often get out of control and burn things down very quickly.
Yesterday’s big quake in Christchurch, New Zealand, has Kiwis reeling from the destruction, injuries, and deaths it left in its wake. I had always heard that NZ was located on a rather seismologically active zone, though when I visited there years ago, I didn’t feel anything. But until I watched this fascinating and rather startling computer-generated model of just how frequently the Christchurch area is hit by quakes, I really had no idea the extent of the subterranean turmoil at work there. Check it out. It obviously will take a while to cycle through the last 6 months of quake activity, so if you want to see what’s been happening in just the last week leading up to yesterday’s Big Quake, click the beneath the headline in the top center.
P.S. To all my visitors from New Zealand, please know that you all have my promise of prayers for your protection.
I was only 12 when, in January of 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its hideous 7-2 decision that legal abortion is a “constitutional right” that may not be infringed. One of the most prolific abortion doctors of that era, one who has estimated that he personally performed in excess of 60,000 abortions, was Dr. Bernard Nathanson.
His thriving abortion practice made him both a wealthy man and a haunted man who was tortured by a guilty conscience which refused to let him rest. Eventually, in 1979, he couldn’t take it any longer. He publicly repented and renounced his “pro-choice” allegiance, ceased carrying out his ghastly hecatombs, and embraced the pro-life cause. An atheist Jew his whole life, Dr. Nathanson also converted to the Catholic Church and henceforth devoted his life to exposing the evil of abortion. Most likely, you know him from his powerful Pro-Life film, “The Silent Scream.”
His landmark best-selling book, The Hand of God: A Journey From Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind,” had a profoundly invogorating and encouraging effect on Pro-Lifers everywhere. If you haven’t read it, you really need to read it — especially now that Dr. Nathanson has died at the age of 84. May he rest in peace. And may the souls of all the babies he aborted intercede for him, imploring God’s mercy and forgiveness. I myself join my humble prayers to theirs and to those of countless Pro-Life men and women everywhere who are grateful for this man’s integrity and courage.
“Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time
is guaranteed for all . . .”
Well, as it happens, Patrick Coffin is still sick with strep throat, so I’ll be filling in for him again this evening as guest host of the “Catholic Answers Live” radio show for the first hour and, for the 2nd hour, I’ll be playing the dual roles of both host and guest. I guess I’ll interview myself. Anyway, if you’re interested in tuning in this evening, it runs from 6-8 ET. I hope you can tune in.
And for that matter, I can totally picture my son, Jon (Blaise’s dad), doing his part, like the dad in this commercial.
“What is the Internet, anyway?” a clueless Bryant Gumbel asks his equally clueless co-hosts on the “Today” show, way back in 1994. I can’t blame him, though. When I first heard of the Internet, about that same time, I couldn’t make sense out of it either. Karl Keating had been reading up on it in some BBS-related techie magazine he subscribed to and was trying to explain it to me over lunch one day.
I remember him saying that he thought the Internet could potentially become a big thing, as long as enough people started using it. In fact, he had the foresight to be the first to register the domain name (“what’s that?” I remember asking him) catholic.com. That was back in late 1993 or early 1994. You know, back in the days when very few people could decipher what @ stood for in a mysterious term such as email@example.com.