past experience leads to present curiousity

by twilly 5 Replies latest jw friends

  • twilly

    Hello everyone. I'll be honest; I'm mostly a curiosity seeker, though I do have some JW history. My grandmother (my dad's mom) who just recently passed away at the age of 86 was a Jehovah's Witness; at her funeral I heard the JW story line about resurrection and eternal life on earth. I was not unfamiliar with it. When I was a child, my parents briefly attended the KH in my town. They probably went for less than a year, but I have a distinct memory of it--mostly I remember being intensely bored. But I do remember having "studies" and hearing about the end of the world and how we were going to live in a paradise forever. For whatever reason, my parents decided not to take the final plunge (for this, I consider myself incredibly fortunate). This would have been nearly 30 years ago! I'm now 39 and this happened around the time I was 10. I believe the precursor of my parents "trying out" the JW religion was the death of my uncle, who was my father's twin brother. He died at the age of 31 in a sailing accident. Before that, we did not attend any church, although my mother had been raised Catholic and had had me baptized in the Catholic Church. When my uncle died, I think my father sought out something in comfort after losing his twin, and we ended up at the KH where my grandmother and aunt sometimes attended. I say sometimes, because although my grandmother claimed to be a JW, she rarely actually went to meetings. Also, she secretly gave Christmas and birthday presents to her non-JW grandchildren. In fact, during the time we attended the meetings, I remember my parents giving me a birthday present but cautioning me not to tell the JWs. After we quit going, the JW people continued to knock on our door for many, many months--if not years. My mother, who is a very polite person, finally one day shouted from the top of the stairs, "Tell them to go away and don't come back!" Since that time, the JWs in our town have been very cool to my family. Apparently they have a very long memory. We are still looked upon by them as nasty people. So in that way, my taste of the JW religion was quite a small one, more of a "blip" on the radar than any of the horror stories that I have come across since I've been digging around for information. And why am I digging around for information? Frankly, as I said, I am by nature a curiosity seeker, and the JW religion has captured my attention. Don't get me wrong--I have not desire to become one. Rather, I seek to understand some of the things about my extended family that have always baffled me. It was my grandmother's funeral that put much of it into a JW context. It dawned on me, for instance--why had my grandmother and my aunt, both JWs, treated my mother so terribly for 40+ years? I had always thought it was because they were just bitchy (sorry grandma, god rest your soul--or should I say Jehovah rest your soul?). Now, the more I pursue this topic, the more I think that it had to do with the JW religion, as well as that brief period of time when my parents walked that dangerous edge of nearly joining them. I also remember my aunt behaving in a really awful way to me when I was a teenager--like I was the scourge of the earth. This made a distinct impression on me, and was not exactly "helpful" to my self-esteem. (I mean, growing up is hard enough without having an aunt who acts like you a direct descendant of Satan.) But besides wanting to understand my own extended family history, I have to admit, I find the whole religion itself and its history weird and facinating. I am a bit of a religion buff--not a scholar, not really even a spiritual seeker (though I am sometimes that)--more of a collector of interesting facts. I have studied the Gnostic gospels, Mormonism, Eastern thought and religion, Sufism ... and now the Jehovah's Witness religion. (I'm attracted to the Gnostic texts, Taoism and even Sufism--I love Rumi.) I thought I should say hi, and maybe I will listen in to what is going on here, and maybe sometimes jump in and ask a question if that is okay.

  • grey matters
    grey matters


    I find the whole religion itself and its history weird and fascinating.

    That's a good, concise description.

  • sspo


  • fullofdoubtnow

    Hi twilly, and welcome to the forum.

    Feel free to ask any question you like.

    You should count yourself lucky not to have become involved in the jws, there's plenty on here who wish they'd been that lucky as well.

  • twilly

    Thanks for the welcome, and the invitation to ask questions! I have many. I'm sure if I keep reading and digging around I will find the answers to some of them, but there are some that are rather convoluted because they involve my (almost) 30 year old memories, and the only way I am likely to get answers is to ask an experienced person directly. Understand, I don't believe any of these things might literally come to pass. I'm interested in this topic out of intellectual curiosity.

    Many of my questions involve the idea of an everlasting life on earth. I remember the JWs describing to me (and likely the rest of my family) that EVERYONE (excluding the 144,000 who go to Heaven) will be resurrected to live on earth again. I took that to mean that all people who ever lived. However, as I have read many stories by ex-JWs, it seems like many were threatened by someone telling them that they would NOT be resurrected if they did X, Y or Z, or if they were disfellowshipped. So my question is, when the JWs told my family that all people who ever lived would be resurrected, were they just trying to sugar coat their belief system to make it more palatable to potential converts? Remember, my father was going through a period of intense grief after losing his twin brother at the age of 31. My uncle was not a JW, and a religion that excluded my uncle from eternal life would not have appealed to my father. Do you think this is a sort of bait and switch technique? It seems to me that it might be something like that. Now you see it, now you don't: eternal life for everyone--ooops, not so fast. Only if you do X, Y and Z to our exact specifications.

    Also, I have some just rather goofy questions about the earthly paradise idea. I take it there will be no sex, correct? But what about eating? Do the JWs think that there will be eating? What about going to the bathroom? Will people in the earthly paradise need to do do-do? If not, will our bodies remain anatomically the same? Because it seems strange to me that we would continue to have genitals and digestive systems for eternity if those parts are no longer needed. Or will we be sort of like Ken and Barbie dolls--just nothing there? Will we need to take showers and change clothes? If we have to change clothes, does that mean that we will have to own clothes? If there is ownership, will there be an economy? Do the JWs wonder these kinds of things?

    Frankly, I find the whole idea of bodily existence and eternity incompatible. Bodily existence is defined by the passage of time. Eternity is defined by the non-existence of linear time. Are these philosophical quandaries ever hashed out by the JWs? Or do they simply ignore these issues?

    Thank you in advance to anyone who tackles these rather obtuse inquiries! I have more, but I will refrain from asking them until a later date.

  • Little Drummer Boy
    Little Drummer Boy

    twilly said: were they just trying to sugar coat their belief system to make it more palatable to potential converts

    That is it exactly. I just made a post about this on another thread, but if you want to know about the precise way that someone new to the religion is converted, then go here...

    It is a long but very worth while read. It explains a lot; to those who have or are leaving the organization, and to those who are just looking into the religion.

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