Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stray thoughts.

Consider this a continuation of my earlier “editorializing.” This is really not an editorial, of course. It’s a series of more or less disjointed thoughts.

Yes, we know there are typos in our Nelson Barbour book. Unfortunately the wrong file was uploaded. Most of them are easily ignored. Please do so. Unless it sells exceptionally well, we are not revising the master print file anytime soon. At this point it is not an easy process.

We have revised our outline for the follow-up book, deciding to include material we intended to omit. We felt that the references needed were not available to us. This situation has changed enough that we can now tell those parts of the story in a connected way. We think we can present enough detail to be more accurate and present a more rational story than that now available. This will add three, maybe four, chapters.

We’ve had long and intense conversations about the meaning of a quotation, more accurately about the writer’s intent. The meaning is clear, I think. The intent is not. (Confusing, huh?) It can be approached in three ways: 1. It’s an outright lie; 2. It’s dissimulation by means of selective ‘truth;’ 3. It’s an attempt to escape sharing someone else’s reputation, but phrased in such an awkward way that the truth of the statement can be questioned.

The problem is unresolved. A good rule of thumb is to attribute the best possible motive to everyone’s statements and acts. In this case my personal opinion is that we’re dealing with a blatant lie. It’s a tough call, and we’re still sorting things out. Rachael doesn’t share my opinion. More research and more conferences are in order.

A stray thought: Being published opens one to the odd in human behavior. When Pixie Warrior, Rachael’s novel, was published, she acquired an online stalker. We’ve both had online marriage proposals, though not as a result of the Barbour biography but as fan mail response to our fiction. I think our mates would object if we said yes. I know my wife of forty years would object – after she finished laughing. Let me tell you: I’m old. I’m fat. I’m balding. I’m sick. I’m cranky. I am married to a woman who’s put up with me for forty years. So, No. Thanks, but no.

I enjoy my privacy.

And ... you might consider some counseling. Just a thought, that – but it’s a good one.

So, now, back to our work in progress: A section that was essentially an orphan, not long enough or detailed enough to be anything but an after thought has now become a chapter in its own right. It’s amazing what following hints and clues will do.

Our thanks to a “volunteer” who wishes to remain anonymous for some recent research! The documents are invaluable to us.

Some views of Watch Tower history have the character of religious myth. They’re firmly believed though lack documentary foundation. It is painful to see long held visions of history give way to what is sometimes a harsher reality.

A recent example comes from an email. In our book on Nelson Barbour we demonstrate that the idea of a two-stage partially invisible parousia predates the 1820’s. We quote Isaac Newton. Yet, the email I received insisted that the idea comes from Irvingites and Plymouth Brethren. Yes, they held these views. They did not originate them. Finding a source that says they did merely means you found a source that is in error. Also, Keith was not the first in America to present those views. We don’t say that; we tell you otherwise. Reread that chapter.

We also received a suggestion that we alter the spelling found in one quotation. That’s unethical. A quotation should preserve the original words.

What will you do when you discover that the idea of a totally invisible parousia in the sense taught by Zion’s Watch Tower isn’t a modern day Revelation of some sort? That idea has a history too. We include endnotes for you. Follow them to the sources. Check for yourself. Emailing one of us to support an exploded claim by someone else won’t change the facts.

We sift through oral traditions passed down as history. Some are worth reporting, even if they are unverifiable. There are two we feel (with reservations) deserve to be taken as factual. We’ve satisfied ourselves, though just short of historical verity, that the Russell’s Federal Street store was called “the old Quaker” store, even if it wasn’t named that. We are inclined to accept a report that Russell’s conversation with an “infidel” took place in a pool hall as probable, though unverifiable. The report fits in with the nature of YMCA and Evangelical Alliance tracting in Allegheny City.

Other oral traditions are just wrong. See our earlier post for an example.

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