It wasn’t long after that an elderly lady came to the door and when I asked her what she wanted she said something about mankind’s hope, and God’s purpose. My wife and children were running around the floor. I invited her into the room. She had a Bible in her hand. She had gray hair, and was wearing a warm coat. The sun was shining. I said in a friendly way that she picked a nice day to talk about religion. She agreed, and said she also picked some not so nice days. Jenny came over and listened to her also. She said mankind hope was everlasting life, and God’s purpose was to restore paradise conditions on earth like in the Garden of Eden described in the Hebrew scripture of the Bible. She held the Bible in her hand and said twice. “This is the truth.”
I didn’t say it, but when she said that it reminded me of a philosophy class I took in college. One week the idea was that nothing was true and everyone did what was right for them. I wrote a paper about that, but it said there was possibly one absolute truth, that s— (human excrement) stinks. When the lady with the Bible in her hand said the Bible was the truth several times I also thought about the expression, “Dense and unenlightened people are notoriously confident they have a monopoly on truth.” I didn’t want her to talk any more. I didn’t want to be rude to this well-meaning lady, but I was trying to think of a tactful way to get her on her way out the door. The conversation started going in circles. She read something from the Bible that said Jehovah (her God) would crush all the other kingdoms and set up a kingdom that would last to time indefinite. I didn’t argue with her. I asked her what made her so sure the Bible was the truth, and then I realized I was just leading her on to say more. I wanted her to leave. After a few more minutes she did leave. The next day Jenny said the woman stopped at our house long enough to leave a bright orange little book with instructions that Jenny should read it and give it to me. It was easy to read, and entitled, “The Bible, God’s word or man’s?” Jenny gave it to me when I got home, and I flipped through the pages. Then before and after supper I read it entirely. I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be the story of all time if on the evening news if they said there were some absolute truths after all, and, unknown to us, our self important activities were nothing more than getting a spare part for a broken down space ship on one of the moons of Jupiter? Did an absolute truth exist? I couldn’t waste my time with such thoughts. I had, “miles to go before I slept and miles to go before I slept.”
I couldn’t figure out the meaning of life. Thinking about that didn’t do anything for mailboxes. Nobody else seemed terribly concerned, and like them I had bills to pay. What would the judge say if I told him modern civilization was no more than a fuzzy mold on a peach? I rather spend my free time polishing the motorcycle that nearly killed me.
The older woman became a familiar sight at our door. She belonged to a sect named Jehovah’s Witnesses. One time after diner I was in the other room engulfed in a meaningless television program. Jenny came in the room and said the Jehovah’s Witness lady was at the door. I told her to tell her I was busy. I wanted to see how the half-hour program ended.
Another time when the Jehovah’s Witness lady came to our house she asked us if we would like to study the Bible. I said we meant to do something like that as a family, but got side tracked. She got two books out of her bag. The yellow one was entitled “My Book of Bible Stories” and the red one was “You Can Live Forever on Paradise Earth”. She said she would come to our house each week at a time that fit everyone’s schedule. We decided upon Tuesday at 7 p.m. She suggested the entire family do a story or two from the yellow book, and then Jenny and I do the red book. She explained that no book was in place of the Bible, and that the two books in her bag were Bible study aids. Sitting down once a week and going headfirst into the Bible seemed highly concentrated, and worth more than any weekly television show. Eventually I came to realize there is a reality that is the same for everyone whether they like it or not.
Before it sunk in, and I was carried away by the enormity of the situation I was lukewarm about efforts to learn what the Bible said. It was definitely nice for all of us to sit down as a family and read a Bible story. We would each take a turn reading a paragraph, and then the Jehovah’s Witness lady would ask a question. The questions she asked were in small type at the bottom of each page. The stories in the Bible dealt with a person like Rehab who was a common prostitute in a fortified city. She helped some Israelite spies. After the Bible story the children would go upstairs and do school work. Jenny and I would go through part of the red book. It dealt with subjects like the nature of death, what is hell, what is heaven, and the meaning of many other terms in the Bible.
We read that the widely held belief God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three persons in one is not a Bible teaching, and that it most likely began at the council of Nicaea in the third Century where, Constantine, the emperor of Rome, wanted to solidify his empire.
Years later when I was able to talk about it I put those facts to a person who led a congregation of people in a popular Christian religion. Her reply was what difference did it make.
When I first studied, little things kept piling up until finally it was just like a break in the dam. I wanted to leave it alone. On some days when the Jehovah’s Witness lady was coming if there was a button to push to have her not come, I would have pushed it.
She brought me an article about someone who dropped bombs on people living in Dresden, Germany during World War II. That someone was from England and between the times he dropped bombs he asked a chaplain whose side is God on? The chaplain said God was on their side. The man wondered to himself why the German soldiers had the words “God is with us” inscribed on their belt buckle. They also thought God was on their side.
The man became an atheist, and long after the war, two Jehovah’s witnesses knocked on his door. He asked them the same question expecting the same answer. He asked whose side is God on? They flipped through the pages of the Bible and read these words spoken by Christ to his followers, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”
Also, She told me a story she heard from what she called a spiritual sister. The sister was talking to a woman at the woman’s front door. The woman said, “The name Jehovah doesn’t appear in my Bible”. The sister said, “Maybe it does, why don’t you go get your Bible and let’s see.” The woman left and returned with her Bible. The sister knew in that translation the name Jehovah appeared three times. She found one of the places in the 83rd Psalm. The woman took the Bible back, ripped the page out, snapped it closed and said; “Now it doesn’t say that.” Later on I was with a spiritual brother who said it was a general rule that if a person wasn’t humble, honest, and hungry they would believe what they wanted, and no amount of reason would change that fact. The weight of time has caused many ideas to become traditions. The origin of the tradition is of little concern.
The Bible was first written in Hebrew and Greek, and while there are no original manuscripts that exist, the earliest known copies give almighty God a proper name, which first appeared thousands of times in the earliest known transcripts. In South America the name, Jehovah, was on a building block of a church constructed long before there was a religious sect called Jehovah’s Witnesses. After a photograph of it appeared in a Jehovah’s Witness magazine it was removed, presumably by the hierarchy of that church. In recent years many translators have completely deleted the name of the Christian God. Why is a matter of speculation. Ask a Jehovah’s Witness and without much hesitation they will answer in one way or another that Satan makes them do it. The Bible says much about Satan. Mainly Satan is misleading the entire inhabited earth.
More than anything else what happens after death was different from what I had heard. Most of my questions at first were about what happens after death. When it became overwhelming I put the issue aside. What was going to happen was going to happen. I was more interested in living day to day around here. I saw no sense getting worked up thinking about what happens after death. If I was in the next life, that would be icing on the cake, or, maybe this is the icing and “that which is to come” is the cake.
The only time I had these thoughts was when the Jehovah’s Witness lady came, but I kept them to myself. I didn’t think there were any easy answers. I didn’t think any of what I was learning had any tremendous importance simply because no one else did.
When I bought the motorcycle I was in a club of people who had one or more motorcycles made by the same company that made mine. A newsletter from them said there was going to be a two-day meeting the last weekend in April beside the Snake River near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. That was several hundred miles from where I lived. I was itching to travel on my motorcycle. It was shined up under a cover in the Apple Barn. Spring was coming. I made plans to go.