Part 1: The 1914 generation
Anthony Norris III and Steven Lot
NORRIS: Good morning. My name is Mr. Anthony Norris the third, and this is brother Steven Lot. We’re calling on your neighbors this morning to discuss the crime rate. How do you feel about the increase in crime and violence?
SOCRATES: And a good morning to you too, gentlemen. I am Mr. Socrates Sophroniskou Alopekethen. [Using the most elaborate form of his name in gentle mockery of Anthony’s overly formal introduction. However, since this goes over their heads, Socrates just smiles at his private little joke, and continues.]
I love a good discussion! Please come in and sit down.
NORRIS & LOT: Thank you.
SOCRATES: [Picking up a bottle in one hand and two wine-glasses in the other.] May I offer you some wine? I cannot imbibe myself — having once had a bad experience with a drink — but my friends tell me that this is a particularly good brand.
NORRIS: No thanks. I prefer Jameson Scotch.
LOT: [Waving the proffered glass away] I love wine, but I’d feel too awkward drinking it in front of someone who cannot imbibe.
NORRIS: [Under his breath to Lot] What do you think you do every Memorial Service?
SOCRATES: [Sitting down across from them] Very well. You asked me what I thought about the increase in crime and violence. Before I can answer that I’ll need to know what crimes and acts of violence you’re referring to, whom they were committed against, and over what period they have increased.
NORRIS: Well, we find that ever since 1914: World War I, crime and violence have been on the increase everywhere.
SOCRATES: And you are factoring in population increase?
SOCRATES: You know, gentlemen, I must tell you that I have become utterly fascinated by the Internet, which my good friend Aristocles, son of Ariston, has introduced me to. [A twinkle in his eye here, but after searching his visitors’ faces and seeing no recognition of Plato’s real name, he settles for another mysterious smile.]
This Internet is a veritable encyclopedia of facts at one’s fingertips! And all in the blink of an eye!
While we’ve been talking, I’ve looked up the facts in this matter, and actually when we factor in the population increase, we find that crime has actually been decreasing! And given humankind’s very violent past, we are living in the most peaceful time in history!
NORRIS: [Looking amazed] Are you aware of the two World Wars, the recent school shootings—
SOCRATES: Yes. Are you aware of the real first world war? It started in 1754 when George Washington murdered some Frenchmen, and ended up involving every inhabited continent on the globe except for Australia.
NORRIS: That’s an interesting history lesson, but 1914 saw an unparalleled loss of lives.
SOCRATES: Actually, the Three Kingdoms War in China, circa 220-280, had fourteen million more casualties.
NORRIS: [Dismissively] Anyway, the Bible shows that Jesus predicted the wars and violence, and even the earthquakes that we see today: “For nation shall rise against nation, and there will be earthquakes in one place after another… and then the end will come.” So, the conditions we see today are proof that the end of this system of things is fast approaching. Those who want to survive into the new system have to take steps today to align themselves with Jehovah God’s kingdom, soon to rule the earth.
I’d like to leave you with this magazine which shows how the Bible predicted all the things we are seeing, and what we need to do in order to be on God’s side when the Great Tribulation begins, which Jesus spoke of in verse –
SOCRATES: That’s very kind of you, and I look forward to reading your magazine. But can you help me understand what you just said?
NORRIS: Of course.
SOCRATES: You said that Jesus predicted an earthquake! That’s amazing, given how difficult it is for scientists, with all their modern equipment, to make accurate predictions. Which earthquake did Jesus accurately predict? Was it the Lisbon earthquake of 1755? The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 or 1989? Or the 1964 “Good Friday” earthquake in Anchorage? Or perhaps —
NORRIS: No, Jesus didn’t make any specific earthquake predictions. He just said that there would be earthquakes in one place after another.
SOCRATES: But haven’t there always been earthquakes in one place after another? What kind of “prediction” is that?
LOT: [Pulls out an old magazine from his book-bag, and reads]
“We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded,” according to Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist at USGS.
SOCRATES: [Typing furiously on his computer] Oh, yes, I’ve found that quote. But why did you stop there? The article goes on to say:
Most researchers agree that the frequency spike is most likely random. Plus, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an uptick in quakes: between 1950 and 1965, the earth shook more than usual, too. As the USGS explains, “A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase or decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent.” In fact, Parson’s study shows that since 1979, the average rate of major earthquakes has been roughly 10 a year.
And here’s another site, called 11 facts about earthquakes which states:
The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) records an average of 20,000 earthquakes every year (over 50 a day) around the world. There are, however, millions of earthquakes estimated to occur every year that are too weak to be recorded.
So, again: there is always one earthquake after another (and often they are even simultaneous.) And, oh yes, I read this quote in the Watchtower magazine — though not the issue you’re leaving with me:
The earth and its dynamic forces have more or less remained the same throughout the ages.
— Watchtower, December 1, 1993, p. 6
And yet, this puzzles me, because in an earlier issue, they wrote something quite at odds with that quote:
The severity and deadliness of earthquakes have increased markedly since “the time of the end” commenced for this old system in 1914.
— Watchtower, May 1, 1970, page 270.
Can you explain that?
[Lot and Norris look at each other, each hoping the other has some comeback. Finally, Lot ventures the fallback excuse]
LOT: Oh, that’s all taken out of context.
SOCRATES: I see. But let me ask you this: you say that after the war and the earthquakes “the end will come.” And you say this meant World War I, and the wars, crime, violence, and earthquakes since then. Correct?
SOCRATES: Yet you say “the end of this system of things is fast approaching.”
NORRIS: That’s right, yes.
SOCRATES: So, what are we waiting for? 1914 was over a hundred years ago. If all you say is true, shouldn’t the end have come by now?
NORRIS: Jesus went on to say that the generation that witnessed the events of 1914 would by no means have passed away before the end came.
SOCRATES: Well, let’s see, babies born in 1914 would be 105 years old today. So that generation has pretty much passed away, hasn’t it?
NORRIS: Actually, they wouldn’t have been babies; they would’ve had to have been of the age of understanding, which we believe is at least 10 years old.
SOCRATES: And they would’ve used this “understanding” to understand that the war and earthquakes signaled the start of the last days, correct?
SOCRATES: But at that time, the Watchtower was proclaiming that 1914 was the end of the last days: not their start, correct? I found this old Watchtower quote:
We see no reason for changing the figures — nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.”
– The Watchtower Reprints, July 15, 1894, p. 1677 (Emphasis in original.)
NORRIS: Well, yes. The light has gotten brighter since then.
SOCRATES: But no Watchtower subscriber of that time would’ve recognized 1914 as the start of the last days, correct?
NORRIS: Some of them might’ve.
SOCRATES: You mean, on their own: going against what the Watchtower was telling them was the “truth”?
SOCRATES: Do many in your religion think for themselves in that way: questioning the “light” published by the Watchtower?
NORRIS: We discourage independent thinking.
SOCRATES: So then your belief in 1914 hangs upon an egregiously thin thread!
NORRIS: How do you mean?
SOCRATES: It requires that there are people, at least 115 years old, who, as ten year-old children in 1914 believed — in spite of what the Watchtower published — that the year marked the start of the last days.
NORRIS: Well, children don’t always believe what we tell them.
SOCRATES: [aside] I’m amazed that any adults do.
NORRIS: But the thread’s not so thin as all that. In light of the 1914 generation having died out, we now understand that by “generation” Jesus meant not only those of an age of understanding in 1914, but anyone anointed while any of those anointed who witnessed 1914 were still alive.
SOCRATES: [laughs] Not seriously?
NORRIS: Oh, yes. The Bible sometimes uses “generation” to refer to all the people alive at one time period.
SOCRATES: Well, sure; but you’re spreading that time-period out way too far: beyond a lifetime! When you do that, the term generation loses its meaning. For instance, my great-grandfather immigrated to this country as a young man. He was still alive when I was born. Now, according to your definition of “generation” I am of the same generation as my great-grandfather — even though I am rightly considered a 4th generation American because he was a first generation American.
NORRIS: That is correct.
SOCRATES: So, while most people would consider me part of the “Baby Boom” generation, you’re telling me that since I was born while my great-grandpa was alive, I’m really part of the “Lost” generation of the late 1800’s!
NORRIS: Well, yes; if you use the word the way the Bible does in Matthew 24. That’s how we know, for instance, that someone anointed in 1992 is of the 1914 generation; because Fred Franz (who lived through 1914) was still alive in that year.
SOCRATES: So, you’re contending that an anointed person who is 37 years old today is of the WWI generation — though that war ended 64 years before they were born.
SOCRATES: Yet other people, born on the very same day as that individual, are not of the WWI generation.
NORRIS: You’ve got it.
SOCRATES: Excuse me, but do you actually get people to believe all this?
NORRIS: Hey, if we can convince our followers that the 7 great plagues depicted in the book of Revelation were a series of Bible Students’ convention held in the 1920’s, then getting them to swallow this generation double-talk is a cinch!
LOT: [Reading from a crib-sheet he pulls from his jacket pocket]
The evidence that God’s kingdom began to rule in 1914 is more abundant than the evidence for gravity, electricity, or wind!
SOCRATES: [To Norris, sadly] I see what you mean.
Don’t miss Part 2 of When the Governing Body Called on Socrates!
Note: Any resemblance of characters in this story to actual persons, living or dead, may not be entirely coincidental.