What is especially interesting about all of this is how we all listened to such outrageous comments - and did nothing! I can vouch for hearing tons of comments similar to or exactly the same as many of the ones mentioned here. Often times there would be quiet talk among the friends about how stupid or infuriating some of the comments or statements were - but almost no one would step up to tell the brother or sister what an idiot they were - or challenge the assumptions in their comments. I have on many occasions had the friends come up and tell me after a CA or DC or local KH part, how enraged they were at what the speaker had said. Yet it was the rare occasion when I had the balls to let the speaker know just what the reaction to their comments were.
I remember one couple (the husband was a visiting speaker at our KH). They had a young daughter, and during a comment at the WT Study, they said that they didn't let her watch Sesame Street because it sometimes used Rap-like songs to teach words or letters, and the WTS had said that Rap music is bad. There were so many people just floored at that meeting by the idiocy of a comment like that. That was a personal view, yes, but dozens of comments like it were made by brothers in positions of high responsibility, and viewed as from Jehovah himself!
But one thing was obvious to me - when the brothers made comments about clothing or hairstyles or TV programs or jewelry or slit skirts etc., they were taking in most cases a very general Bible principle, and giving it a very specific CULTURAL application. That brother's dress or grooming might be considered quite unacceptable in a different culture, but that would never be mentioned. Yet very few of the friends ever questioned that. I remember in my last years as an elder, giving talks where I started to point this out, noting that the principle is there to guide us individually. To make too specific an application of a general principle is treading on dangerous territory. It's giving a personal interpretation to a general principle, and that view will not be shared by all.
Now, I can picture myself dealing with this sort of thing in a way I never did when I was an active JW. I picture a brother making one of these outrageous statements ("Skirts above the knee are immodest.") and asking him, "Could you show me the verse in the Bible that says that?" Of course, there isn't one, but he would likely show me a verse on 'dressing modestly.' "But brother," I would say, "it doesn't mention the length of skirts there at all!" He would say that the principle would apply. "What you're saying," I would respond, "is that, in your view, this verse applies to the length of skirts today?" Yes, he would reply. "But that's only your viewpoint based on your experience in this culture," I'd continue. "Does your wife wear dresses up to her knee?" Yes, he'd say, or just below the knee, for sure! "Well, brother," I'd go on, "just 150 years ago in this country, the sight of a woman's ankle was considered highly erotic and suggestive, while at the same time, nursing a child in public was a common practice."
Can you see where this is going? What might my next point be? Perhaps sometning about his wife needing to cover her ankles but expose her breasts??? How ridiculous - but all culturally driven viewpoints.
One other point on all of these "You can't be serious" posts.
Years ago, one Bethel speaker I heard at a KH really blew me away with his reasoning. He was talking about associations. He said that most JWs see the world as made up of "good associations" and "bad associations," and I think most in the audience were smiling and nodding in agreement with that view. Then he said something that made me sit up and take notice. He said, "But really, most of our associations are neither. Most of the time we associate with people who have little or no affect on us for either good or bad."
Coming from a Bethel speaker, I could hardly believe what I was hearing, yet I knew to the core of my soul that what he was saying was true. There are very few people that we associate with that are going to have any sort of permenant affect on us, who are going to influence our life's course to any appreciable degree, yet JWs have this black and white "good association/bad association" view of everyone. With that one little comment, he shattered the final vestige of black and white thinking for me.
Why aren't more of the Witnesses willing to make comments like that? Why weren't most of us willing to challenge the ludicrous and just plain wrong shit we heard over and over at the Kingdom Hall? That may be the most damning indication of how cult-like the WTS experience is - our willingness to tacitly listen to stuff we knew in our souls was bullshit.
In my office today, if someone makes anything like one of these outrageous statements, the rest of the workers would be on them like ugly on ape. I work with some really, really bright people, with a huge amount of real life experience under their belts, and one of our hallmarks is our willingness to challenge one another when we make some statement. If you can defend your ideas, great, but if you can't, be willing to admit you were wrong - or at least misinformed.
In a free society like the US, this is often a given. People don't get all self-righteous all the time when someone says, hey, prove that, or, I think that's bullshit. The fear to challenge the outrageous use of authority is very unhealthy - but it's a hallmark of the WTS.
Whoa - been ranting here a bit. But does any of this make sense to anyone out there?