Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This was going to be in a previous post's comment trail ...

It's too long to post there. So I've posted it here.

There's nothing for anyone to be afraid of, unless one is afraid of well-researched, detailed history. Mr. Schulz is a Witness. He's kept us on an "even keel". But we certainly touch on unexpected, unexplored areas.

Probably we've written a book that will make everyone a bit unhappy. We burst myths on both sides. Conspiracy theorists won't like the book. Those who think Russell developed some beliefs on his own won't like it either.

We just tell the story as the documents reveal it. Those who point to a Millerite origin for Bible Student belief are in for a shock. Someone sends me links to posts by a man named Terry. He promotes that myth.

It is myth. Storrs is often called a prominent Adventist. Storrs left Adventism in 1844. None of his doctrine after 1844 can be characterized as Adventist.

There is a totally untold story there. We do our best to tell it in enough detail to clarify issues.

We take swipes at pro and anti writers. There is myth on both sides. We want the myth to go away.

A fault with pro-Russell writers is that they remove the human element. We do our best to put it back. So we tell the story of Sunderln's opium addiction. We tell the story of Russell peeping through a blast furnace window and cringing at the thought of eternal torment.

Best we can, we tell you who he met, who he talked to and what books he read. We reconnect him with people and places modern accounts ignore.

Some of the more controversial parts of his life we save for book three. The plan is to cover the years from 1886 to 1916 on book three. That may change. As we collect documentation for those years I can see we may need to plan for a book four also on the Russell years.

We've tried to restore human personalities. We quote from their writings. We occasionally point out extremes of thought and behavior, but we do that in the person's own words.

What you've read so far about Watch Tower history is often wrong, if for no other reason than that most writers give incomplete detail.

Some just make things up. That sort of thing is all over the Internet. Some disconnect themselves from the 19th Century. That's easy to do. In his introductory essay Mr. Schulz asks our readers to read Alcott's Little Women. This made me laugh, but it IS a really good way to connect to the era. All the attitudes and many of the daily life issues are touched on by Alcott. And its a lovely book.

While we don't shy away from issues as they arise, this is not an Anti-Witness book. It is, we hope, just good solidly historical, story-telling.

In the last chapter, which we're writing now (last for vol. 1 of this book) we consider the Ransom-Atonement controversy. As usually told, Russell understood the ransom doctrine correctly and fully; Barbour did not. Nothing of the kind is true.

Russell comes off better than Barbour in this controversy. Barbour thought he was God's spokesman. He argued his point to absurdity. Russell only understood that Christ's death made atonement possible. He struggled for detailed understanding. He says so.

Why those who've written about this ignore what he said is a mystery.

Personally, I hope our book, academic in format though it is, upsets everyone just a tad.

There is a lot of detail here and many quotations. The best way to tell this story is, as I've hinted above, in the words of the participants. If one of them is obnoxious, then let their words show it.

In volume 2 we will tell what happened to A. D. Jones. Russell says he fell prey to ambition "or something." Dear heart, that's not half the story.

If one wants an overall picture of the watch tower movement, they should read the Procliamers book. Ours is much more detailed and much closer to "truth" as a result.

"The story is in the details," is Mr. Schulz's favorite saying. Or one of them. And it is a true one.

We will tell you things you do not know. Some of them are amusing. In a footnote we tell you about Keith's aged father running away with the housekeeper, returning married. We tell you about Paton's adventures with tobacco when he was eleven. We tell you about the civil war life of many of the principals. We tell you their occupations, about their wives if it's important.

... And the photos ... we've found the best we can, though some of them are quite poor. We have two of B. W. Keith, one from old age and one when he was maybe 30 years younger. Photos of Paton and others such as S. A. Chaplin. (ever heard of him?), P. G. Bowman. We have a photo of the Russell's Presbyterian pastor and one of Russell's Congregational pastor.

I've rambled away from the point. No one has anything to fear from this book, except ... they might find a cherished myth to be just a myth. That Mr. Schulz is a Witness has kept this book balanced. His response to my many speculations is always, "prove it, and we'll use it."

Speculations drive research. Speculations do not substitute for solid research.

We document everything (If we missed something, I don't know it.) Chapter one tells the story of  Russell's parents and his young manhood and something about his business ventures. It's 55 pages long. It has detail you will not have seen. It trashes a recently published book - rather soundly. ... And it has 244 footnotes ... so, if you want to, you can follow our trail.

3 comments:

Ton Hollander said...

Yes, blog readers, look forward to that story of A.D. Jones. You will really be surprised.
Ton

Semer said...

This wait is psychological torture.

roberto said...

Little Women?
That is something I never expected to see in a history book. Now I am going to read it, for the first time in my life. I want to connect to the era. Thanks for the suggestion.