A letter!

I got a mysterious piece of mail yesterday. It was exciting. A real letter in the real mail; an envelope with my name and address hand-written, in writing that I didn’t recognize, with a nearby return address that belongs to no one I know. It’s from a neighborhood a mile or two west of here, but farther away than that sounds because it’s a peninsula with a valley between the two, so it’s complicated to reach by car and totally forbidding on foot. Who oh who could be writing to me from Magnolia? Could it be a threat? Abuse? A rant? Or could it be a friendly surprise?

It was exciting, but then I threw it aside when I got in, and forgot about it until this morning. Then I opened it. There was a little hand-written letter inside! You don’t see that every day. On lined notebook paper, the kind with holes on the left margin.

It was addressed to Dear Neighbor, and it says since she was unable to reach me at home (well thank god for that) she was sending me this very encouraging tract.

Yes, that’s the little secret I’ve been concealing from you: there was a tract inside too. I looked at the back of it. Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It’s from their library. It’s titled How do you view the future?

My favorite part is the section on epistemology:


Yes, for at least two reasons:

• God has the ability to fulfill the promise. In the Bible, Jehovah God alone is called “the Almighty,” for he has unlimited power. (Revelation 15:3) So he is fully able to keep his promise to change our world for the better. As the Bible says, “with God all things are possible.”—Matthew 19:26.

• God has the desire to fulfill the promise. For example, Jehovah has a longing to restore life to people who have died.—Job 14:14, 15.

Ahhhhhhh. Compelling reasons indeed.


  1. Al Dente says

    So Yahwe does have the ability to make pi equal to three and he has the desire to do so. Doing something like that would be definite proof of the existence of God. So what is he waiting for? –I Kings 7:23-26 (echoed in 2 Chr 4:2-4)

    Or else the Jehovah’s Witnesses haven’t thought this out as well as they could have.

  2. says

    I visited my Aged Mum last week, and as I was leaving, I found one of those doorknob hang-tags on the handrail of her front steps – apparently the house had been prayed for. Or possibly preyed upon… Whichever it was, the perps hadn’t had the courage to knock at the door, or even leave the tag on the front doorknob. Wusses.

    My late Aged Dad really enjoyed talking with proselytizers; it usually ended up with them trying to escape. Elder Daughter does too; she asks them questions about their beliefs. It invariably turns out that she knows more about the Bible than they do. Heh heh, maybe that’s why they’ve stopped knocking, and just leave tracts and cards on the doormat and sneak away.

  3. Claire Ramsey says

    In my experiences with the Testigos de Jehova (including the ones in my very own family) thinking things out is not one of their skills. Indeed, thinking things out is reviled. If a person (say, a sibling of mine) becomes one of Jehovah’s Witnesses the person’s ability to think things out must be extinguished as quickly as possible. It will do no one any good to think things out. On the other hand, if you join up and you are not good at memorizing, you must get to work.

  4. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    Well, gosh golly gee, if the bible says that the bible is true, it must be true!

  5. RJW says

    My next door neighbor is one of those loonies, strangely he hasn’t tried to convert me. During my naive student days I tried to reason with those barking mad wankers, a complete waste of time.

    Speaking of toxic superstitions, I heard of a very sad situation a few weeks ago, a young woman from a Pentecostalist family married outside the faith and was disowned by her family, she’s now under psychiatric care.

  6. ajb47 says

    Stevarious @5:

    Exactly what I was thinking. The bible says god exists, and god says the bible is true. Checkmate, atheists!

  7. says

    JW lit has a depressing….je ne sais crois about it. Something about the primary school writing level, the simplistic Q&A format, and just generally bland style.

    We’ve got a nice old guy who comes by every so often, sometimes with a partner, because my wife engages with him. Yes, she’s told him we’re atheists. He was by this aft while she was out — and it’s friggin’ cold here today! — and asked for her by name. He walks with a cane and we feel a bit sorry for him — he must have spent, like, decades wandering suburbia ringing doorbells and handing out magazines for this stupid exploitative cult.

    We also have an atheist friend, a woman in her late 20’s who has a few physical and mental health issues because they were never nipped in the bud while she was growing up because her family was dysfunctional, at least partly because they are JW. What is it about a certain variety of religion that seems to attract screwed-up people, and then just lets them fester in their problems? Of course she’s been disfellowshipped and disowned.

  8. kevinalexander says

    I have some bushes in the back of my garden that grow candy gumdrops!! I haven’t seen them yet but I just know that they are there. I’m waiting until god tells me they are ripe and then…YUM!!

  9. Richard Smith says

    Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, and he wrote at the very beginning that all the historical details in the book are absolutely correct, so it must be so! But… why are so many Christians upset with that book?

  10. Claire Ramsey says


    The attitude is a very proud “je ne sais rien” unfortunately.

    Participation at meetings is a valued marker of faith (and culture/cult membership).

    The writing style is very carefully pitched so that even people who are not strong readers can eventually figure it out. The dramatic illustrations and repetition help with that too. There is a gigantic Witness publishing network w/mother ships in various parts of the world, where articles are written and translations (including videos of signed versions) are produced. That part is kind of fascinating if a person is, say a linguist with training in anthropology and literacy studies.

    The Q&A format is the same format that is used at the “discussions” during meetings. There are no genuine questions in the format, search and regurgitate is all that is required.

    Again in my experience (a literacy research post-doc @ a Kindom Hall) if a person isn’t screwed up Witnesses can take care of that given enough time. The worst, because it is a religion, is that it attracts people who like to think in black and white terms and who are judgmental. Then it turns them into arrogant, unreflective, believers in Truth, who are fearful and suspicious of us goats out here in the world. They also include some of the sweetest kindest most deluded people I’ve ever met.

    PS re: got snake-bit. One time a Berkeley police officer knocked on our door to inform us that one of our cars had been “hit and ran.” I added that one to my collection immediately!

  11. Claire Ramsey says

    One more thing about the letter you received, Ophelia. That kindly neighbor must have been completely desperate to contact you by mail, b/c the Witnesses privilege personal face-to-face contact. It’s always the preferred method of spreading the Truth.

  12. estraven says

    I’ve gotten several of these. I also once received a 7-page letter from someone who didn’t like a post on my blog about atheism. Apparently he tracked down my address, but he didn’t use his own name or address on the letter. He spent all those pages arguing with me and sneering at me after accusing me of sneering at believers. There was nothing surprising about any of this, of course.

  13. A. Noyd says

    I got one of those a couple months ago, and so did everyone in my building. I thought that the JWs were trying that tactic because they didn’t want to get in trouble for soliciting in an apartment building, but if Ophelia got one at her house, I guess it’s a more general tactic. They must be blanketing a certain portion of the city. I’m only one hill away from Ophelia, but that’s still a lot of houses and apartments.

    Also, I only knew about my neighbors getting them from how many envelopes were left up top of the mailboxes where we put incorrectly addressed mail. Their lists of names and addresses must not be very current.

  14. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    A couple of weeks ago I came out of a local mall to find a Chick tract on my windshield. I was all like, “Oh my lack of god, I’ve heard so much about these and now I have a hard copy I can mock ruthlessly!”

  15. says

    @18: I think I still have a stash of those. I regard them as collector’s items (“I’ll trade you a ‘This Was Your Life’ for ‘Big Daddy’!”). Of course, now that you can view them all on Teh Internetz, there’s not so much excitement in finding a new one.


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