The Apostate Bookclub pick-of-the-month!

by Nathan Natas 7 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas


    Expecting Armageddon: Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy
    by Jon R. Stone
    ISBN: 041592331X
    Publisher: Routledge
    Date: Jan 2000
    Page Count: 284

    The expectation of an end to time and the yearning for a millennial paradise have been recurring themes in Western religious thought. But when we speak of "expectation" of the world's end we are mindful of the fact that generation after generation of millenarians have been disappointed. Their endtime hopes and prophecies have not come true. What happens, one might ask, when prophecies fail? Does failure spell the end of the very movements that embrace such expectations?

    The aim of this anthology is to gather together in one volume the essential research from the fields of sociology and psychology that seeks to answer this intriguing question as first raised by Festinger in his 1956 work, "When Prophecy Fails. Cross-cultural and comparative, this collection chronicles forty years of research into failed prophecy and response to the attending cognitive dissonance it produces that is at once timely and informative.

  • garybuss

    Looks interesting, Thanks!

  • GentlyFeral

    Thanks, Nathan - I'm going to put this on my "interlibrary loan" list.

    gently feral

  • whyamihere

    Looks Good!


  • kgfreeperson

    I've just started Sam Harris's "The End of Faith." So far, so good! (It's not specifically about JWs or "end times" religions just about the destructive nature of religion in general.

  • Kenneson

    I will have to take a look at that one. Along those lines I would also add the following book, which I just completed reading: "End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon" by Richard Abanes. Chapter 8 is devoted exclusively to Jehovah's Witnesses: "Jehovah's Witnesses: Armageddon, Inc." The book also discusses the New World Order and the Illuminati that our conspiracy theorists should find of interest. Certainly worth the read.

  • slimboyfat

    I have got this book. One thing I would say is that, if you have access to a good academic library, you could save money by copying the essays on Jehovah's Witnesses from the academic journas they originally appeared in rather than buying this book. The article by Singelenberg is even available online for free on the Watchtower Information Service website.

    I like reading Zygmunt's essays because he has a real good grasp of Watchtower history. He wrote an very long dissertation on Jehovah's Witness history, but unfortunately it was never published. I have not been able to access it, but by all accounts it is an extremely solid work of scholarship.

    From what I read in other literature on the subject, the Festinger thesis has been pretty much disproved as a general theory of social responses to prophetic failure. Failed prophecies generally have an adverse impact on the growth and cohesion of religious movements. However, I do believe there is an argument to be made that 1975 was the saving of the Watchtower organization from decending into the oblivion of liberalism. Had the prophetic failure not occurred, just perhaps the liberals among the leadership, such as Ray Franz and Dunlap and sympathizers like Sydlik and Swingle might have effected some change: drop 1914, relax disfellowshipping, fewer prohibitions, fewer authoritarian claims, drop blood prohibition and so on.

    The 1975 failure caused the leadership to retrench, and hardliners like Schroeder and Jaracz and their hangers on Klein, Barry and Henschel got the run of the roost.

  • slimboyfat

    I should like to add that the suggestion made by Singelenberg on page 199 that the KM figures from 1975 indicate a collective decision by many Witnesses to "take a vacation before Armageddon" is one of the most ridiculous suggestions I have read in the serious literature on Jehovah's Witnesses. It utterly fails to explain how either devout or more relaxed members would have approached this date. Zealous Witnesses would not have contemplated such a "vacation" attitude, but would have been working their socks off in order to make it into the new system. Lax members would not have taken the approach of that autumn so seriously as to order their lives in such a way.

    Besides, there is a much better explanation for the July slump that year - the simple fact that July is always a poor month for Witnesses reporting. This no doubt has something to do with holiday plans in general, convention attendance and contrastingly increased zeal in August after the convention "boost" and for the last report of the year (pioneers getting in their hours).

    This whacky theory about Witnesses wanting to "take a holiday" in 1975 before the end of the system of things spoils a rather good essay from Singelenberg on the whole. (are you reaing this Doc? - feel free to email me again if you are, no hard feelings...)

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