I was looking for something to read the other day. My house is full of books and magazines, most of which I had read. I was looking for something with quality.
Found my old set of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare". A two volume set that I read many years ago. It's a Book Club set that was printed by Nelson Doubleday. There's no printing date, so I don't know the year I got them. They have to be at least forty years old, as I started reading them in grade school. I drag them out every so often to read.
It got me to thinking about what people read these days. After seeing the latest news that about 30 percent of our high school students drop out. Hearing tales from my neighbors of their kids quitting school. They aren't doing it to work, they just want to hang out and be 'cool'.
Mr. Shakespeare definitely influenced me. We studied his stuff in high school, saw "Romeo and Juliet", the movie, when it came out in 1971. I was in Europe at the time, so it may have come out in the USA earlier. A writer still being read and having his work made into films, centuries later. It gives you an idea of the power of the word.
The next day, I went out to get the mail. As I walked back to the house, a car pulled in the driveway. An older man and two teenage girls. I turned around and went to their mini-van to find out what they wanted, figured they were lost or selling something.
The old man asked me if he was still in his county, I told him that the line was up the road. He was out of his assigned territory. No matter, he wanted to talk.
They were Jehovah's Witnesses. When he started to ask me if I was concerned about it being 'the end times' I knew where the conversation was headed. My question took him by surprise, "You're a Jehovah's Witness, right?" He nodded.
He asked me if I watched TV. I told him, "No." Which shocked him.
"How do you get your news? You read the newspaper?"
"No. If you believe in the Bible, why do you watch TV and read the newspaper?"
That got his attention.
The local Jehovah's Witnesses quit coming around here about a year ago. They found out that I would talk their ears off. What they heard they didn't like. This guy was more tolerant. He got back on the 'end times' thing.
I asked him about the Mayans. They predicted an 'end times' a couple of thousand years ago. He had never heard of them. I suggested that he might want to read up on them. Do something new, like look at things from a different point of view.
So, I asked him about the Internet. He confessed that he had just bought a laptop about two weeks ago and was now going to get on the Internet to see what it was about.
One of the questions that I ask is "What church or religion is mentioned in the Bible?" In any group where I mention this, most don't want to discuss it. Probably because they aren't Jewish. I'm not Jewish and the Jews that I know usually don't want to discuss the Bible either.
The second question that I ask is, "What did Jesus do between the ages of 12 and 30?" There is no mention of this time period in the Bible. He had no answer to this one either.
I asked him if he knew that other groups had records of Jesus visiting them. Didn't know about it and acted like he really didn't want to hear it. Ignorance is bliss.
We briefly got on the topic of how reading a book leads people to believe what they read as being the only way something can work or how something happened. I tried to bring up the perspective of the author.
It was getting obvious that this was one of those 'can't see the forest for the trees' deals. When you get too close to something, you lose perspective. People join groups, no matter what they believe in, whether it's a drug gang or a political party, so they can feel like they are part of the tribe. It's a sense of empowerment. I'm now part of a larger group and that gives me the power of their numbers. They believe in the tribal power.
Too many things are written with an agenda that has no relation to the truth of the matter. People who are unwilling to search for the truth on their own, will always take the easy road and believe what they are told.
Which brings us to the situation we are in today, worldwide. There is no trust between people, locally or nationally. Respect has gone out the window. Why should anyone respect the rights of other people. As long as they can get their way, they don't care if you suffer for it.
The irony is that in the end, we all suffer for it.
As for the 'end times'?
Well, everything ends, sooner or later.
Just like a book.