Insight on the News
Worthy of Imitation
A recent letter published in the New Haven Register, a Connecticut newspaper, offered some objective views on conventions held by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Addressed to the editor, the letter stated: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have just held their annual conferences at the Coliseum. Of all the groups appearing, none are more welcome or sought after than they. The Coliseum will never be as clean, before they congregate, or as immaculate when they leave as it was since their last visit.”
Referring to a convention held by the Witnesses some years ago, the letter writer added that “75,000 Witnesses gathered in Yankee Stadium, with another 20,000 outside listening to loudspeakers in a festival of worship that stunned New York. Two hundred policemen were dispatched the first day, the usual number assigned to such a multitude. Only two were sent the following days to give directions. New York City sent sanitarians, caterers, police and fire authorities to study this unbelievably efficient operation and to learn from it. Not one speck of food or litter was observable when they left, despite the feeding of their members. Whether you are a believer of some other form of theological mysticism or reject them all, . . . you have to admire their dedication, their wholesomeness, their outstanding example of human behavior and healthful living. We would all do well to follow and practice the wonderful attributes these humble and devoted people portray.”
Though many view the behavior of Jehovah’s Witnesses as exceptional, the Witnesses themselves know that true Christians must ‘live by spirit’ and must “go on walking orderly also by spirit.” God’s spirit is what produces in them the fruitage of “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Such qualities are indeed worthy of imitation.—Galatians 5:22, 23, 25.
A Crown of Stumbling
Hundreds of citizens of Málaga, Spain, have supported a public collection to finance an elaborate gold crown for the popular local virgin, “Our Lady of Hope.” “One gram of gold for the [virgin]” was the slogan coined two years ago to drum up contributions. Since then, earrings, medals, wedding rings, and even gold teeth have been donated. These objects have been melted down into 3.3 pounds [1.5 kg] of pure gold, enough to make a solid gold crown for the image.
In a solemn ceremony, presided over by the papal nuncio and several prominent bishops in Spain, “Our Lady of Hope” was crowned in June 1988. Nevertheless, not a few Catholics had serious misgivings about this coronation. The Spanish newspaper El País reports that in an open letter some 20 seminarians were asking: “Aren’t we still a scandalous stumbling stone to believers and unbelievers with our empty rituals?” Other Catholic groups referred to a recent papal encyclical recommending that the faithful “transfer their treasures to the poor.” In view of this, these Catholics expressed their “inalienable conscientious objection with regard to the advertised sumptuous ceremony” and the “costly crown.”
It is hardly surprising that sincere people find decorating a lifeless image to be objectionable. God himself feels the same way. Centuries ago, he castigated the Israelites for this very same practice. Jehovah said through his prophet Ezekiel: “They used to pride themselves on the beauty of their jewellery, out of which they made their loathsome images and idols.” (Ezekiel 7:20, The Jerusalem Bible) For this reason, lovers of truth wisely heed the Bible’s timely counsel to “flee from idolatry.”—1 Corinthians 10:14.