I was invited to a "get-together" of some old JW friends last week. I was expecting only a few people to be there, but when I arrived there were quite a few more than I was counting on. I figured immediately that it would be very uncomfortable, not only for me, but for many of the more "righteous" of the JWs.
To me surprise, however, they were all very nice and everyone had a good time. I was not shunned or pitied or looked down on. The people that I knew seemed genuinely happy to see me. The people that I didn't know were very gracious and kind in meeting me.
As the evening wore one, people kind of broke off into different discussions. I decided to just sit and listen and not be a part of any one conversation. I was curious to how these conversations would go.
I listened closely for the typical buzzwords of the JW community. But, a little to my surprise, I heard very littel mention of any thing theocratic. No mention of field service, no mention of the meetings, no mention of publications, talks or circuit overseers.
I did hear a lot of talk of the future...except it did not include the words Armageddon, the New System, the Resurrection, etc.
Most of these people had kids in high school or just gradutating. The discussion of these parents turned to what colleges their kids had applied to or had been accepted by, what they would major in and what kind of dorm room or apartment they would have. When someone mentioned that their son or daughter was interested in some field of work, others would say something like, "Oh, I hear there's good money in that," or "That's an excellent career choice."
Not once did hear the words, "pioneer", "Bethel", "missionary", etc.
I almost asked if anyone was going to pioneer, but decided that since everyone had been so pleasant and nice, I didn't need to be an asshole and create a scene.
To hear them was encouraging and discouraging both at the same time. I was encouraged that despite all the counsel from the Society about college and being complacent, it wasn't making much of an impression on this group of JWs. But at the same time, they still were active in the congregation. They go out in service, they answer at meetings, give talks and to some degree, buy into a big part the bullshit that comes from above.
At least they're independant enough to allow their kids to get a decent education. Maybe in time, they'll see that the entire JW system is a compete waste of time.
One can hope anyway.