The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 66
The debate

Shelley phoned me and we arranged a meeting with this guy named ‘Tom’, who was supposed to be so good at explaining the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine.

The meeting was in the evening, at Tom’s place, and so I fetched my notes, picked up Shelley and drove there. After a few minutes of driving we arrived at a small house where a man, who appeared to be in his fifties, opened the door, greeted us and showed us to a rather tiny, but organized and comfortable lounge. We sat down.

Tom offered us some tea, and after making it, came to join us and began talking to me. ‘Do you know what the difference is between punishment and revenge, Nathan?’ he asked.

I thought for a moment and then explained, ‘The purpose of punishment is to protect the majority of people, either by locking someone away and preventing them from committing crimes, or by hurting criminals so that people are too scared to commit crimes.’

‘And revenge?’ he asked.

‘Revenge has a completely different goal. It’s something that people do when they don’t know how to deal with their anger. By hurting someone that hurt them, it makes them feel better.’

‘This guy’s quite smart,’ Tom said to Shelley. ‘Nathan, would you mind writing down what you just told me?’ He handed me a notepad and a pen, and so I wrote down as much of what I’d said as I could remember.

Afterwards, he continued, ‘Tell me, Nathan, based on what you just wrote, what is hell? Is it punishment, or revenge?’

I knew the answer already. I had thought about this before, but had never said it out loud, ‘I suppose hell is more like revenge, because it only happens when it’s too late to protect anyone.’

‘Is God loving?’ Tom asked me.

‘Yes,’ I replied.

‘So, would I be correct in saying that you believe that God is a loving God, who does not know how to deal with his anger, so he hurts people who hurt him?’

‘Well, no, because that wouldn’t make sense,’ I replied. In an attempt to be as honest as I possibly could be, I told Tom the only idea that made sense to me, even though it contradicted the bible, ‘Maybe God is just threatening us with hell to make us do good, but there isn’t actually a hell.’

‘So, God is a liar then?’ he asked.

‘Maybe not a liar, maybe...’ I started, but after thinking about what I was about to say, that perhaps God is allowed to lie to make good things happen, I realized that I really did not have a clue, and admitted, ‘I don’t know.’

‘Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in hell. We believe that God is good, and that the bible needs to be translated correctly,’ Tom explained.

‘You cannot just make something say what you want it to say,’ I told Tom. ‘If the bible says something that doesn’t make sense, then there might be a mistake in the bible, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to just change it to mean what they want it to. If I changed the bible every time there was something I didn’t like, it would be a book about worshipping Nathan Bauer.’

I was getting a bit angry, because I was frustrated. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get angry with you,’ I told Tom. ‘I just wish that God would use the almighty power that he has to come down from heaven and just explain to us what is going on.’

Tom continued to explain that the governing body of the Watchtower literature used reason, studying, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and direction from Jesus Christ and angels to interpret the bible. It all sounded like delusion to me. Although I liked the idea of a religion without hell, one that brought the members so closely together, and one that, if I joined, I would probably be dating the girl of my dreams, as far as I could tell it was based on lies and delusions, and that was something that I would not be able to live with.

As we were about to leave I remembered something that I had read in the book about Jehovah’s Witnesses and asked Tom about it, ‘How many different dates has the Watchtower magazine predicted as the end of the world?’

‘They haven’t predicted specific dates, only the years,’ he replied.

‘Oh, so, how many different years were predicted?’ I asked.

He thought for a bit and then shook his head and said, ‘I don’t know exactly.’

‘I think it was about five,’ I explained. ‘So, did the Watchtower society make mistakes?’

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘In their human fallibility, they misinterpreted matters.‘

‘Okay, so despite that they make mistakes, you still believe them?’ I asked.

‘Yes. They may make mistakes, but they still know much more than us.’

I could see that I wasn’t getting anywhere, so eventually Shelley and I said ‘Goodbye’, got in the car and drove off. Shelley hadn’t said much in the meeting; she had mostly been listening. ‘That didn’t go very well,’ I said to Shelley. ‘I’m now even more confused.’

‘We’re both confused,’ she admitted to me, ‘which is a good thing. We can be confused together.’

‘Sounds good,’ I replied.

‘Although,’ she started to say and then became quiet.

‘Although what?’ I asked.

She looked down and then out of her window. I could see that she was struggling to say what she wanted to and so I waited patiently. After a few seconds she sighed and looked back at me. ‘My parents would never let us ...’ In an attempt to keep herself from becoming too emotional she stopped mid-sentence. She had said enough for me to understand and wiped her eyes with her hands.

‘My parents wouldn’t be too happy about it either,’ I agreed.

‘I’m not sure if you understand how difficult it would be for me,’ she sniffed. ‘No-one that cares about me would want anything to do with me if I dated a non-Witness. It’s ridiculous!’

I kept quiet for a while and continued driving. I didn’t know what to say. Was there anything I could do to make her want to give up everything for me? And then it just sort of slipped out, ‘We could keep it secret.’

She looked up at me from the passenger seat and smiled a naughty grin. I guess I had said the right thing. ‘We could,’ she replied.

 

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