Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Tale of Two JW Twits

For twenty years, I have been an eyewitness of the hypocrisy that exists among Jehovah's Witnesses. Millions have turned to this religion in the hope of finding solace and think they are serving God. Most adherants claim they have found the latter, but what they do not know is that they are trapped in an MLM organization which uses them to achieve its own ends.

In this post, I wish to zoom into one of the characteristics of this religion: that the younger male converts are encouraged to 'reach out for the post of an overseer'. I choose to zoom into this facet, because whether one realizes it or not, this directive fosters a lot of spirit of competition within the congregation, and the same becomes the root of division. It is ironical that the Witnesses say they avoid 'ambition', but promote an equally virulent quality in its own younger male converts.

It is a fact the 'brothers' are always urged to reach out for 'god-given' privileges of service. These privileges of congregation services are presented as if coming from Above, which indicates to the potential receiver that there is no shame in aggressively going after them. All too often gives the impression that the 'privileges' are a sack of gold that must be grabbed before the other brother does.

What exactly is the lure in the privileges? This: that is allows the receiver degrees of responsibility and power in the congregation. On the surface, it all revolves around 'humble service to the brothers in a spirit of love', but all too often the power that comes along with it is not weilded right, to put it rather mildly. The privilege-bearer also gets the right to instruct the congregation by giving talks and discources from the platform.

It is easy to see why such a position is coveted. Speaking from the platform (at least for the brothers who hold positions such as the ones I'll later describe) always solicits comments of admiration from members of the audience. 'Oh brother, that was such an inspiring talk! You brought out that illustration about the widow so well! It almost choked me with emotion!' Of course, brother is pleased with such admiration. It feeds his own buried and hungry ego.

The platform of instruction is also misused to vent personal vendetta against certain members in the audience. I have seen this done many times. I have witnessed certain brothers even abuse their 'powers' when they showed disdain, arrogance, and sarcasm, either through their words or demeanour, towards certain members in the audience they didn't like.

There is another huge advantage to being a brother holding special privileges. It becomes the automatic ticket to be invited to get togethers and social functions among the Witnesses.

The road to congregational 'Privileges' as follows:
1. Brother must become an exemplary preacher and teacher of the 'good news'. The congregation scrutinizes him during this phase for over a year, perhaps two.
2. If he does (1) well, he is made a Ministerial Servant (MS).
3. If he keeps doing (2) and (1) well enough, he is made an Elder.

Here is a story of Two Twits, Ravi and Joshua, 'spiritual twins' as I called them. They were both into their early 20s when a 45 year old sister, Heather, started studying with them. Heather, it must be said, was one of the most controversial Witnesses I have ever come across. Some hated her, some loved her. All admired her for the way she used the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. A decade or so ago, she had been disfellowshipped for some alleged conducted, which she has always denied. She was implicated by elders who did not favour her, she used to tell me.

Heather was almost visually blind. You had to admire the woman. Now when I look back, I do wonder where she is now. It appeared to me the primary focus of her life after they re-instated her was to clear the reproach that was cast upon her name. She knew, heart of hearts, that this would not be possible. Once the Watchtower condemns and punishes you for one of your actions it finds distasteful, there is no way it will withdraw its verdict.

Naturally, Heather had a lot of angst buried against the brothers. Her own vengeance lay in her quest that she would labour for the Organization and win it new, zealous converts... converts who would in turn become stalwarts in the organization. This, then, would be proof that Jehovah's blessings remained operative on her.

Heather found Ravi when she was going from door to door. He was a rather quiet, simple, sickly looking lad, undergoing depression in a female dominated household. Heather's words struck the right chords with him, and he accepted a bible study with her. In some way, Ravi's school-time friend Joshua was also roped in, and now the two young men had a regular bible study going in their lives.

Joshua was loud, brash, and even crude, and had, on occasion, abused drugs. As a person, he loved attention, praise and importance. He had his own feelings of inadequacy, because career-wise, his life was not going anywhere. Both were unemployed when they started with Heather. Later, it was Ravi who first got a job in a garment store, and he also managed to pull Josh in.

They progressed very fast in the ways of the Watchtower. They were reared by the same spiritual parent who offered both praise and commendation, and even the same set of spiritual goals. It was only natural that each advancing sibling always measured himself in the light of light of what the other was doing.

The 'love bombardment' each sibling received when they both attended their first meeting at the Kingdom Hall must have been an awesome treat for them, as it had been for the millions before them. First of all, any new people coming into the congregation was a novelty, and two young men coming into it was all the more so. The Witnesses have the knack of welcoming all interested people as home-coming heroes, which makes the person 'believe' that these are indeed God's loving people. It is very difficult not to see through this, because after years of being 'in the world', even such quasi-love is so refreshing.

Having been absorbed into the 'family', thus began the unspoken 'race to the top' between Ravi and Joshua. I suppose everyone in the congregation noticed the rivalry right from the start, but no one said anything. In fact, it was always, Oh they are such nice new brothers! Ravi had once admitted to me that he found Joshua's assertive nature quite overbearing. Not to be outdone by the other, the undeclared war between the 'Siblings' accelerated. In fact, the elders even wanted and encouraged that, because it would have jolted the other 'lethargic' brothers in the congregation to get their asses moving too.

During Stage 1, that is, after their baptism but before their appointment as ministerial servants, when both became publishers, both knew they had to rake in a high number of hours in the preaching work. This was simpler for Ravi, because he lived in the territory the congregation was assisgned to, but as for Josh, he had to travel from the other end of town to make it to the preaching terriotory. Since preaching started early morning at 8 am, this meant he had to wake up really early. But so determined was he in his race to the top - gosh, I do admire his dogged determination - that he maintained this rigourous schedule for years.

Often, Witnesses love to complicate their own affairs, and then get to blame Satan for 'making it hard on them.' (I myself had employed this trick many times. You see, Satan has become a kind of a punching bag for every JW, a pin cushion that gets stuffed with all the blame. But that's another story.) I noticed Joshua was doing the same. He had an option of associating with a congregation that was much closer to home, but he deliberately chose to travel to the other end of the city, to where our congregat


ldrnomo said...

Great story. So true in many congregations. Although I believe that most young me today have better things to do then compete in a congregation. True there are always going to be some. But that number is dwindling fast as more and more young people fade away from the Watchtower organization.

That is why the trumpet blast for more men is here and both you and I know that may cause an increase of men but very likely, (one tenth of one percent of memorial attendance men

Burgess said...

Well said! The Watchtower has wasted too many young lives through its erroneous teachings! I was lucky to have got out of it relatively early!

Brian said...

"Maybe you have determined there is no creator/supreme being that has a right to tell you what to do! If so, tell us how you have achieved your personal peace and happiness."

Are you really arrogant enough to think that NOBODY can have personal peace and happiness without believing in God? What do you mean by "personal peace and happiness" anyway? Life is full of ups and downs and JWs are definitely NO exception. Where I was growing up, you couldn't throw a rock in a crowded Kingdom Hall without hitting 5 people on anti-depressants. So what makes me happier?

I can live life NOW, instead of wasting it waiting for a paradise that probably won't come.

I can live without being afraid of armageddon every time the president comes on TV.

I'm not wasting my Saturday mornings trying to push magazines on people who don't want them.

I'm not afraid of dying in a hospital because the Old Testament says I can't eat blood (which is what Paul was talking about in Acts)

I can love whoever I want, whenever I want. I can go to the f'ing movies with a girl without having to spend 3 hours on the phone procuring a chaperone.

I don't have to go to the guilt-trip conventions and assemblies every year so I can hear all about how I'm not doing enough because sister Iron Lung is getting 150 hours a month.

Those are just a few I could think of off the top of my head. Now I know what you're thinking "ooooh you're so SELFISH!!" Well you asked for my reasons for PERSONAL peace and happiness.

Finally, I have to ask you this: how does having personal peace have anything to do with how true your beliefs are? Plenty of people in other religions claim to have complete peace and happiness. People on heroin have personal peace and happiness. One of my favorite quotes is by Carl Sagan, and it fits with this topic quite well: "For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Do you honestly believe that bad things happen because a talking snake told a naked lady to eat some fruit?

Burgess said...

LOL.... Brian, well said.. i just hope Anonymous reads your post, because he/she has posted in the other column I wrote (Things No JW Would Ever Tell You)