The death of Ray Franz hit me harder than I would have thought.
I had to reflect for awhile....alone......and quietly.
After all, fine people die every day and some of them are indispensable, yet, we go on....don't we?
But, Ray Franz was something that can only be described in the phrase sui generis (one of a kind).
My task was to ask myself what it was that made Ray so singular, potent and admirable without a trace of scandal or ill will attached to his memory.
Now, I'm ready to talk about it. Call it venting, if you like. Or....processing......
Dedicating yourself to the finest work on Earth is noble. Ray, like the rest of us, signed on.
He, like the rest of us, put his energy and intelligence into a teaching work no matter what the personal cost to himself.
It was in the course of research that something special in Ray's character triggered a chain reaction.
Ray was assigned the work of writing articles for one of the Society's new reference books. He committed himself to doing that job
as perfectly as possible without a cursory "cut and paste" parroting of what had been done before.
In the course of his research, Ray Franz found what amounted to evidence of dissonance in THE TRUTH.
What Ray realized amounted to doctrinal error! Conflict between his rational mind and his religious loyalty immediately arose!
The sum of a man's life can come down to a vanishingly small moment. This was Ray's.
What choices were to be made and what would it cost?
1.Gloss over the dissonance between research and Watchtower "Truth"?
2. Pass the buck to somebody higher and let them bear the burden?
3.Let it go and "wait on Jehovah" to correct it?
4.Raise hell and fight it out with naysayers?
5.Write the facts and let the chips fall where they may.
Here was Ray's moment of sparkling integrity. Ray Franz TRUSTED the rational mind God had given him enough to write and speak and live what
We all know what came next.
RAY LIVED WITH IT.
Ray Franz never lost his temper. Ray never hurled insults. Ray fought the fine fight of the faith quietly but solid as a rock.
Without grandstanding or calling a press conference or starting a new religious movement, Ray Franz quietly walked a straight line right out the door of Jehovah's Witnesses temple of human error.
The pristine flowering majesty of a clean conscience and an ordinary life!
His former "glorious" peers with their impeccable credentials as Jehovah's spokesmen scrambled to plug the dam! Their first duty was far different than Ray's. The Governing Body thought only of covering their collective asses and getting a little "payback."
Ray Franz was found guilty of having lunch with a disfellowshipped person and sentenced to die at Armageddon.
Sit back a moment a think hard on that.
The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to rescue the one that strays, Jesus taught. But, the Governing Shepherds had other ideas, motives and means. They shot an arrow through the heart of the stray sheep and left him to die alone.
Shakespeare said it best:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
To their everlasting shame, the Governing Body bound themselves in the shallows and miseries. While Ray sailed on in the fair breeze of a clean heart.
Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom are without rancor or hysterics. Unlike many Ex-JW's, apostates or so-called Evil Slave books, Ray Franz wrote calmly, assuredly and with total commitment to fact. (No personal animus!)
It was the drip, drip, drip of powerful reality burning holes in Watchtower doctrine where Ray Franz has immortality!
He threw a lifeline into the flood where his fellow truthseekers grappled with error and confusion. Many grabbed hold and pulled themselves to safety.
The power of reality is blast of pure white light!
Ray Franz flipped the switch on the beam that shattered Watchtower darkness once and for all.
We stand blinking into that light......even today...and for that bright knowledge of our entrapment....what we owe Ray is beyond evaluation.
The Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses is no longer the "Eden" of the Truth we once held it to be. Ray Franz exposed it for the Tar Pit of extinction the unwary wander into only to find themselves stuck and preyed upon.
The calm, unwavering solidarity of total faith in reality as opposed to unquestioning obedience to authority is the legacy of Ray Franz.
We could all do a lot worse than learn his lesson and walk his path and close our eyes on that final day knowing we have left this world a better place than we found it.
Ray, I salute you! I am in awe.
May the True God whom you sought to serve have mercy and loving kindness in store for you.
........and may each of us find our own way.....into that peace.
Now, each of us face our quiet moment of decision every day we are alive.