So I just thought I would drop a few lines here that might be of interest.
Just to recap, my father died suddenly two weekends ago while engaged in the field service. My mother has been a witness since 1946 and my father since a few years after. He especially was responsible for bringing into the (truth) countless persons and founding several congregations, most recently the spanish congregation in Guymon Oklahoma. As could be expected a lot of chatter was made about how he died and how this was "possibly the best way he could have gone" (I can easily think of many other better ways :-) but I have a dirty mind.) and how he was a fine example etc.
I did not have to break or even twist any arms (too bad as I was kind of looking forward to getting into some elder's face) as before I even arrived to New Mexico I was already officially designated as a pall bearer. There was a service in the Kingdom Hall but the casket was not taken inside at any time. There was a dinner provided by the local congregation after the burial and I believe that my uncle (Elder) had it moved from his house to the county fairgrounds facility specifically so that I might attend.
My immediate family as I expected displayed no shunning whatsoever and remarkably neither did many Witnesses, however, I am not certain how many of them were aware of my disfellowshipped status.
In sorting through my father's files, I did not locate his Flock book but he may have returned that when he left Oklahoma a few months ago and moved back to New Mexico (and besides I already have electronic versions anyway). However, one interesting find is that I now have his talk outlines (all of them I believe). Unfortunately they are in Spanish so it will be a while before I have them translated. Still I am not sure if Elders and MS's only usually have a handful of talk outlines or if all of them have the entire set. I have never seen the entire set available on the Net or anywhere one may find the complete set of current talk outlines but they are in my possession now :-) If anyone knows of where these might be available on the Net please let me know as it would be helpful for comparison and in the translation. I am sure they will make for interesting reading once I have a chance to deal with them. They also include my father's notations.
I also found an interesting link on my father's IE favorites to theoshare.com . I was unaware of that site and some of you may want to check it out as it has some interesting downloads available.
that's it. Thanks to all who expressed their condolences.
PS: I forgot to add the "Reflections" part and I will try to keep this brief.
It is clear to the family that my father sensed the end of his life drawing near. Last year he experienced a mild heart attack while on a Kingdom Hall build and then in recent months he was in an auto accident that exacerbated his condition. He was winding things down and to an extent seeking to put things in order. He even seemed to soften his attitude towards me somewhat.
I have maintained for sometime the posture that I have no business or interest in trying to influence older JWs like my father or mother. I realize that at this stage in their life. As I state on my website regarding such ones:
"This is for your own good. I would rather you die with your belief and your faith and hope than to have a hand in taking these from you at the twilight of your life and just when you may need such comforts the most. In this, I differ from what Ray Franz says in his groundbreaking book, Crisis of Conscience, where he writes "there isn't any kindness in encouraging people to live in illusions." (p.337)
I believe that for a few elderly Jehovah's Witnesses, the most loving thing to do is to permit them to live out their lives in quiet ignorance than in the heartbreaking realization that some or even much of what they have dedicated their life to and sacrificed for have been falsehoods. Yes, even lies, malicious or not, that is what they have been. Now, it is probably true that for many, reality must be faced sooner or later and if this occurs very late in life, just when the most comfort is needed, it can have devastating effects. But my weighing of the balances leads me to err on the side of caution when it comes to trying to expose elderly Jehovah's Witnesses to the "truth about the Truth." If such ones come to a point where they wish to leave the Organization, that may be inevitable and unavoidable, but I personally do not want to be responsible for it. In such situations I am guided by my own feelings toward my elderly parents who have spent their lives in dedicated service to Jehovah (the Organization). The fact is that I truly do not know what they would do if they were to realize at this point in their lives that they have been misguided in many of the things they have been taught by the Society. My mom and dad dream of Paradise and have been told all of their lives that it will definitely come in their lifetimes - and that they will never die. Indeed, they are the children of the generation of whom it was told "Millions Now Living Will Never Die."
So, even if it was possible, who am I to rob them of that wonderful hope - or rather this illusion of paradise to be regained which has fueled and fed them so long?
Their belief and faith in what they have learned and been taught has provided them with meaning and structure to their lives and keeps them going from day-to-day. I believe that true Christian kindness mandates that I take a hopeful but neutral stance towards their accepting the truth about the Truth. Of course, as a Christian, I have to make a "defense" of my own faith and understanding; but not to the detriment of others. The first commandment with a promise in the old law was "Honor thy Father and thy Mother, for it will go well with you" and this sometimes requires allowing such ones to continue in their blissful ignorance." Having now laid to rest one parent and facing the possibility of also seeing my elderly mother and even further siblings go before many of the changes that I anticipate taking place within the Organization, I am even more convinced of the rightness of this position. I fear that if my father were alive to Witness the Revolution that is coming, he might have been pained severely and died in doubt and dread as opposed to the hope and optimism with which he seemed to embrace the end.