Some of you may remember my postings of the letter sent to the Body of Elders regarding their request for a Judicial Hearing with me
as well as the letter we sent out to a select group of people we had felt close to as JWs, about 45 of them.
As to the letter to the elders, they were sent certified mail, restricted delivery (only addressee may sign) and were signed for on the 21st and 24th of August. To date, it has been over a month and we have not heard a peep. I feel this is largely due to DocBob's gracious provision of the legalistic points from his letter, which makes up the latter part of my letter.
Herewith are some email responses and exchanges that were prompted by the letter sent to people we care about. Of course, most have not responded, and we don't expect they will. The names (other than ours) have been changed, so as to provide a degree of privacy to those individuals. It is, after all, not their names, but their words, that are important. If anyone finds anything useful here, consider it a small down payment on all the assistance I have received at this place.
From Betty/Longtime JW & Reg Pio (24 August 2006)
Lenny and Karen,
I am hurt that you would try to take my joy in serving Jehovah with his united worldwide brotherhood. Whom shall I go away to? What other group, though still with imperfect people, takes a neutral stand in politics, preaches the good news worldwide, and has so many volunteers serving out of love and not for money? Who taught you what you know about Jehovah's name and the kingdom not to mention exposing unscriptural doctrines?
Response to Betty (25 August 2006)
It seems that whatever Karen and I do, we’re hurting somebody. When we became Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1973, it deeply hurt several of our family members and friends, some to the point of tears. How do you think my father felt when I refused to attend the funerals of his mother, and then his father? But we believed we were standing on principle. Now, that we have seen the gross hypocrisy and double-dealing of the organization that we spent so much of our lives supporting, and once again, stand on the very same principle, you say you are hurt. So, it seems we can’t win. The interesting thing is, nobody ever asks about our hurt. No one seems to think about the years of pain we’ve gone through, and the cause of it. Betty, we’re not trying to take away anything from you, and that is not our intention. Our mailing was simply to report information to you that we have verified as accurate, and which we feel is vitally important, as well as to provide an explanation to the people we love as to what’s happening in our life. Isn’t that what friends do? Whatever you do with the information or don’t do with it is your responsibility. We certainly have nothing to gain by causing you unnecessary offense.
Whom shall you go away to? I believe the scriptural answer is Jesus Christ. As to what other group takes a neutral stand in politics, that question forces me to wonder if you read our letter, because it’s primary message was the presentation of evidence that the Governing Body, for a period of ten years committed apostasy and made itself a spiritual harlot to the United Nations, agreeing to support its principles and charter and to publicize its programs and achievements. The fact that they dutifully performed under this agreement in secret, continue to remain silent on the issue, and have lied when confronted with it, just compounds their sin. In light of this, how can you speak to us of political neutrality? The evidence is unimpeachable.
As to what other group has so many volunteers serving out of love and not for money, I’ve discovered that there are many thousands who do just that, many of them risking their lives every day to help and rescue total strangers in the fire and rescue service, as just one example, and all without pay. Didn’t Jesus say that nobody could have love greater than that? To risk or give their life in behalf of their brother or neighbor?
Who taught us what we know about Jehovah’s name and the kingdom and exposing unscriptural doctrines? Who taught Charles Russell just about everything he published in the Watchtower? If you do your research, you will find that just about everything that witnesses assume originated with the Watchtower was plagiarized by Russell from the Adventists. I can’t think of anything he originated, including 1914. So what credit should the Watchtower receive for just passing along information they received from others? Anyone can do that. It is no basis for special recognition.
We’re sorry that you’ve taken offense at what was intended to be an expression of our care for you. If we had not discharged that responsibility, we could never have considered ourselves your friends. As support for this statement, we can do no better than to quote the Watchtower:
"When persons are in great danger from a source that they do not suspect or are being misled by those they consider their friends, is it an unkindness to warn them? They may prefer not to believe the warning. They may even resent it. But does that free one from the moral responsibility to give that warning?" The Watchtower, January 15, 1974
Lenny and Karen
From Bill/Formerly very active Elder, totally faded out in the 80’s (25 August 2006)
Got your well-composed letter and wanted to write immediately to inform you of our empathy--how hard it must be to be in that situation, we can only imagine.
Our paths have paralleled in a number of ways; we've both functioned as servants. We've both held a number of positions including P.O. with all the stress and pressure that they all hold. Such positions having been held for lengthy periods, we were not novices to all that they could present to one serving as such. I can appreciate how you were fashioned.
Our reasons for leaving are different. As I told you some years ago, I can't put into words exactly what prompted my withdrawal. Suffice it to say "burn out". But I believe if this UN thing had surfaced during my tenure, I believe I would have pursued it as you did.
I have no doubt of your sincerity, Lenny. Because of having traveled the same road, I know that the driving motive was that we had been assured we were serving Jehovah, not the organization.
I can only speculate on the course taken by the sister that turned the e-mails over to a body of elders. She may have felt inadequate to be handling such a troubling topic. She may have felt it should have been investigated by elders. And so may not have harbored wrong motives.
It is disturbing to hear about the phone conversations, too. That's an unusual method of investigating something. The usual method is a face-to-face meeting. That way the accuser (s) can be identified. There is an opportunity to explain all views. I would recommend appearing before the committee, Lenny. That way there is the chance to ensure clearly what the grounds are on both sides of the question. It would be a sad thing if there was a mistaken view by either side and a judgment was wrongly rendered based on incorrect information.
Also disturbing was your comment about "final communication". As I haven' t attended a meeting since '87, and I'm not identified as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I don't feel I'm bound by any pronouncement. Having known you and Karen for so many years, I certainly don't view either of you as apostates or members of "evil slave". (Heb 6:10)
We want our friendship to continue on. To ensure that, how about coming over for a swim some evening? Just call to be sure we'll be home.
Love to both, Bill
Response to Bill (26 August 2006)
Thank you very much for your thoughtful remarks regarding the letter. Since they couldn't act on the fact that I had shared the truth about the UN matter with another (though it certainly prompted their actions) they began to seek some other "actionable" violation, basically turning this whole matter into a "witch hunt". As a consequence, I believe their decision has already been made. I have written them a letter in which I asked for a number of conditions which are taken for granted in any legitimate judicial body on the planet, but which the Society forbids. For example, I asked to have a witness present and to be allowed to take notes. Although the Society allows the elders on the Committee to take notes, it does not allow the accused to take any notes, and no witnesses are allowed. Anyway, I am glad that you would not view us as "anti-Christs" because we spoke the truth, which happened to be derogatory to the Society. We also value our friendship, and would look forward to continuing it.
Lenny and Karen
From Carol/Reg Pio for many years, still fully active JW (25 August 2006):
Wow! Wow! I just got your letter this evening. It has aroused many emotions. But I especially feel sad - on many levels. It really pains me that you have been hurt so badly and treated unjustly and unloving. I’ve known folks who have been judged unfairly and even disfellowshipped wrongly. Some have became understandably bitter and some even hurt beyond repair, which makes me so very sad. Jehovah must also feel that sadness. But some have reacted quite differently. Did I ever tell you about my uncle who was of the anointed and was disfellowshipped wrongly at one point? I was incredibly fascinated when I found out that he never stopped going from door to door, alone in his disfellowshipped state, for many years, because he loved Jehovah so much and was willing to accept this arrangement and organization, if it was good enough for Jehovah. After we got older and by then he was reinstated, I remember spending time with him and feeling like it must have felt in ancient times to spend time with a prophet or one of the apostles. He had very deep concern for Jehovah’s people and the organization. I have often thought about how the things that happened to him in some ways paralleled what happened to Paul (Acts 21:20-26) when he was told by the older men to keep certain customs of the Mosaic law. That was totally contrary to everything he knew and believed and devoted years of his life to preaching. I’m sure he must have also known it would lead to his arrest and ultimately his death. I can’t even imagine the anger or how sick Paul must have felt - that they were being hypocritical and unloving, that they weren’t understanding the scriptures and certainly weren’t looking at things from Jehovah and Jesus viewpoint. And what was going to happen to him and his years of service? But, like the Solomon hunting David events, Jehovah allowed these wrongs to happen in his organization and they had awesome outcomes for the wronged individuals (of course David had the Messiah come through his family line and Paul got to explain the scriptures to high officials). You certainly know that Jehovah’s allowing wrongs, whether committed against individuals or within the organization does not mean there will be no accountability. How we respond to it however, does show us and Jehovah a lot about ourselves, and give us opportunity to receive or miss out on blessings.
As you mentioned, you are not alone in learning some things that are disturbing. You mention the reactions of some who have given up their positions in disgust and others who are stumbled. But that is not the reaction of everyone. There are plenty of us who have brains and use them, that have also read, seen and/or experienced things like you, but are still attending the Kingdom Hall, going door to door and all the rest. I don’t know what draws or keeps everyone going. A few conversations I’ve had though can be summarized as feeling it’s not solely about loyalty to a group of people or a human organization that has and will disappoint. It’s about loyalty to Jehovah. How and when he chooses to deal with the things he hates is his right. From my own observation, there is way too much evidence that He continues to work with this wacky group of people. And my motivation is that if Jehovah is willing to work with it, then so shall I. You spoke of the folks who suffered prison time because of their not accepting alternative service (my dad was one) and the atrocities of Malawi. Those were sacrifices to Jehovah, not to an organization and which I am confident were never viewed by Him as worthless sacrifices or a waste - any more than Paul going to the Temple to be ceremonially cleansed. I suspect most of those folks feel that way also - or so some interviews of survivors shared via visiting missionaries indicates. Maybe some, but probably not very many have made those sacrifices and continue to do so out of fear of disfellowshipping. Sure, an apology would be nice, but it wouldn’t change anything.
Well, I’m beginning to ramble and repeat myself as it’s getting late, but I hope you can sense both the pain and love I feel for you and Karen. You’ve been through some incredibly rough times, but to quote one of my favorite scriptures, "God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name".
Lots of love, Carol
Response to Carol (25 August 2006)
How refreshing it was to receive your email this morning! Your love came right through the words. It was a tremendous validation for us. You can imagine the tone of some of the responses we have received. But we expected that, because although it’s not intentional, we know the subject matter would cause some to take offense. And we understand that. Of course, we respect your position, and in no way would we ever condemn you for supporting the organization. That is your choice, and we respect it. We appreciate your empathetic comments, and although you’ve never said anything, we know you must have had your share of disappointments and injuries, and have suffered in silence. You are an amazing person, and we can’t even express how much we love you.
We appreciate some of the background and history you provided to help us understand the basis for your feelings. Thank you for that. Not to belabor the point, but for us, the Watchtower, because of what has come to light, has placed itself in the same category of so many other institutions it has condemned over the years. Sure, you can find good things about it, the Watchtower is certainly not all bad. But that would also be true of other institutions. As we alluded to in our letter, there are several other serious issues which we did not divulge, or the evidence. We just cannot continue to support what the evidence shows to be a dishonest and hypocritical institution. I have spent five years in research, and the evidence is unimpeachable. The disappointment to us is immense and impossible to express. We are still dealing with it and expect to be dealing with it the rest of our lives.
You, Carol, always have a place in our hearts. Always.
Lenny and Karen
From Stella/Bill’s wife, see above, also totally faded since the 80’s (27 August 2006):
Hi Folks, I have thought long and hard about what you wrote Lenny. It opened old wounds and brought back ugly situations to my mind and total sympathy and caring for you and Karen. We all called this religion "the truth" but oh my goodness how far removed from the truth can it get. I applaud you for the courage to speak out and abhor the fact that the people who, as my son Ben reminded me, preached that we should question everything. now have a wall up to fact. . At least that was the admonition. Closed minds seem to rule. How sad. I feel bad for the fact that Larry (her son) is an Elder in (name of town). Gene is also active with his wife Melinda here in (name of town). It puts us, in a hard place since we try to stay close to all our children trying at the same time to keep the peace. Mary is overwhelmed by the fact that this organization splits up so many families. I made my mind up years ago not to stagnate. Bill had been fairly recluse until three or so years ago when he decided to join me in some of my endeavors. I will tell you that Bill read and than went back and reread and put down notes on your letter. He looked up all the scriptures and did a lot of thinking. Thanks Lenny. I know your intention was to find out how we felt and Bill expressed it well. I hope it is only the beginning of light. Ben said to me last night " I will heretofore consider this group a CULT". I hope to see you folks soon. Oh, thanks for the picture. Very nice. Stella
Response to Stella (27 August 2006)
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I came to the painful conclusion about a year and a half ago, that, as Ben said, this organization is a cult, actually a mind-control cult. There are never open discussions at the meetings. Only a carefully scripted question and answer, where you either read the answer from the printed material provided, or paraphrase it in an accurate way. No questions are allowed from the audience. As far as studies, the same material is considered over and over in a dreadfully repetitive fashion. I have come to the realization that my power of reason has seriously atrophied after decades of subjecting myself to this unnatural treatment. What I thought was a powerful and practiced power of reason was really only a parroting of the Society-provided lines of reasoning. When you read books on cults and thought control, all the signs are there, right down to the special "language" that outsiders cannot understand, and the prohibition from talking to any former members, through this unchristian and unscriptural disfellowshipping process. It has been a very sad time for us, but we appreciate knowing folks like you who are in a position to fully empathize.
Lenny & Karen
Email to Maggie (31 August 2006)
Sorry I caught you at a bad time last night. I know you said you would call next week, but I didn't want to wait to respond to what appeared in your voicemail to be a misunderstanding regarding the purpose of my letter. The letter was not designed to be a "campaign" of any kind to "enlighten" Jehovah's Witnesses everywhere. If that were the case, I would have sent the letter to every witness I know. Rather, it was only sent to a select group of people to whom we had felt close. It's purpose was simply to provide my side of an issue which will likely result in their never saying a greeting to me again, for the rest of my life, as a consequence of this grave travesty of justice. If that were about to happen to you, and you knew it was all a lie, wouldn't you want to contact your loved ones and provide your side? I know you would. That was the only reason for the letter. I do hope you call. I'd love to address whatever concerns you may have, if I can.
From Maggie/barely active JW, brother is elder (31 August 2006)
Thanks Lenny for your understanding! This is the last day of the month and it is crazy busy as always.
Briefly, suffice it to know that I told Steven (her brother) something similar earlier – that you weren’t trying to hurt anyone. That you had selected key people who you loved to know of your side of things and that is the purpose of your letter.
However, I did find online two other letters you wrote. One to the BOE and One to some board you are a member of detailing your history at length.
Lenny, I love Karen and You, but I was saddened to read these things and your comments to other non-witnesses who replied to the letter. (EX. Let’s get together for an "apostafest".)
I have no doubt you have much to be vindicated about regarding the callous way you were treated over the years. Please don’t allow these individuals to control your life and how you feel. I know this is all new to you, but please, I hope you can reach a point where you can let it all go and have a productive happy life with your wife. The only way this will happen is if you begin healing by moving forward and not thinking of what "Man" has done to you! (Even your parents bringing you to the Catholic Church all those years ago.)
I know you even doubt a supreme being at this point – and that is very sad indeed.
What I do know – is that I must surround myself with positive people. I don’t have a problem with someone stating their case, but state it and let’s move on. I’ll listen and even read once to understand, but if the negativism and bad talk prevail repeatedly, I must guard my heart and time. It is very insidious what others can do to change a person over time – if they allow that person/s to do so.
Let people decide for themselves who they will worship. For me, I believe in Jehovah – my god – he DOES have a personal name and I will use it. I look at the overall "forest" (not the trees, i.e. imperfect men.) ? "Man dominates Man to his injury!" This is true and will continue to be a problem until the end – that is: imperfection.
What I mean is that men are so imperfect and do many wrong things. I will not allow men (or women) who do something stupid or personal attacks to prevent me from living a productive life and praying. Even Kind David – who was used by God – was responsible for about 70,000 deaths!!
I ask you – look at the forest. What do I see when doing so? I "test" the information that is coming from the source. If it constantly tries to manipulate and has a general feeling of negativism – what will I do? Who will I listen to? Who will I surround myself with? Well it sure ain’t going to be those who view themselves as "apostates" - of anything!
When I read the Bible and when I read my Awakes and Watchtowers, overall, I get a good feeling – I read "positive" healing words. Not everyone has good communication skills. In fact, most do not. It takes training and it takes "wanting to be respectful of others and their rights". I work on my communication skills by using my "I" messaging (telling others how I feel rather than blaming someone for what they did or did not do.) I also do much reading on this subject.
Anyway, I didn’t mean this to be long – I’m a fast typist!! ?
I hope you understand what I’m saying and why I’m saying it. I hope you better understand where I’m coming from. If we never talk again Lenny – it will be only because I must surround myself with positive influences in my life.
I do love you and Karen! I see you Lenny as a little boy who hasn’t felt loved or validated through his life – who just wanted to fit in somewhere – who just wanted to be respected for who you are and the many gifts you bring to the table. I’m so very sorry some men did not do that over the years. Tell yourself that YOU are a viable person in society! Surround yourself with people you wish to emulate – hopefully, they are positive and don’t continue to perpetuate hurtful thoughts and sayings….there are better ways of making a difference in this world!
Love and blessings to you and Karen, Maggie
Response to Maggie
Thank you very much for taking the time to write. I appreciate that you feel comfortable enough to be very open with me and straightforward with your comments. I know you are heartfelt. I have given careful consideration to your words, and I hope you will allow me the same straightforwardness. You wrote:
"if the negativism and bad talk prevail repeatedly, I must guard my heart and time.
I "test" the information that is coming from the source. If it constantly tries to manipulate and has a general feeling of negativism – what will I do? Who will I listen to? When I read the Bible and when I read my Awakes and Watchtowers, overall, I get a good feeling – I read "positive" healing words."
You seem to feel that the value of things and/or your personal well-being relate directly to influences which are characterized as negative or positive. I would certainly agree that it is not healthy to be around people who are always negative, and never have anything positive to share. However, I can think of many cases where receiving information which could not be characterized in any way other than "negative" has been extremely useful, even beneficial. For instance, if your doctor tells you that you have been diagnosed with cancer, well, I can’t think of anything more negative. But if there’s still time for you to do something about it, isn’t it a good thing that they shared that information with you?
Yes, in the Watchtower and Awake! there are many good articles espousing "positive" things. However, as you know, there have also been many articles about other religions, as well as governmental institutions, and these have been invariably negative, even condemnatory. But the witnesses never see that as a bad thing, because if the people reading those articles are moved to take action to abandon what the witnesses regard as false worship, it is seen as a good thing, even though it was definitely negative.
My letter was meant in the same spirit. Yes, it contained negative information about the Watchtower, which is all true. I provided the evidence, as well as the sources. I’d love to have someone explain to me how any of the Watchtower’s actions in this UN matter were legitimate or righteous. I’ve talked with the elders. I’ve written to the Society. But I’ve yet to receive any kind of explanation. The only logical conclusion we can come to, based on the evidence, is that we have been lied to, deceived and manipulated for many years. That was not an easy or comfortable conclusion for me to accept, and I’m not suggesting it’s the conclusion you should come to. That’s for you to decide. But if it is true, and my conclusions correct, wouldn’t sending that letter be the only loving thing to do? Isn’t that exactly what witnesses themselves do, when they learn the "truth"? They go to their friends and relatives and proceed to try and "enlighten" them as to what’s wrong with their religion and why they need to study with the witnesses, right? Of course, it’s usually resented by the listeners, as I know is also the case with many who received my letter. But we stand on principle.
"Who will I surround myself with? Well it sure ain’t going to be those who view themselves as "apostates" - of anything!"
As to use of the term "apostate", I have found this to be a very interesting exercise in semantics, as the Society uses two different definitions, and then confuses them to their advantage. In the Bible, an apostate is shown to be anyone who rejects God and Christ, a very serious matter indeed. And in Israel, they were stoned. But in today’s dictionaries, the word "apostasy" is defined very differently and much more broadly: "renunciation of a religious faith". By that definition, 90% of Jehovah’s Witnesses are apostates, since they have renounced a previous faith they belonged to, in my case, Catholic. So, when you say, you don’t want to be around anyone who is an apostate of anything, you’re really ruling out most of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But what the Society does with these two definitions is very interesting and very manipulative. They use the broad, modern day definition to "brand" individuals of apostasy, and then apply a punishment meant in scriptures for, not those who have rejected a particular religion, but those who have rejected God and Christ, thereby villifying their good name and anathematizing them forever. It is the Society, not X-Jehovah’s Witnesses, who is so fond of using this label to make off-limits any who do not agree on some aspect of what the Society teaches or practices.
"However, I did find online two other letters you wrote. One to the BOE and One to some board you are a member of detailing your history at length. Lenny, I love Karen and You, but I was saddened to read these things and your comments to other non-witnesses who replied to the letter. (EX. Let’s get together for an "apostafest".) "
Maggie, I have shared letters on the internet, as well as my own comments. You are saddened when reading these things because you have not sat on this side of the table, to be able to understand the feelings and emotions that most of these people feel. I don’t claim to have the capacity to understand all of your feelings and emotions regarding whatever you have experienced in life. Obviously, my comments were directed to the intended audience, other former or inactive Jehovah’s Witnesses. I feel comfortable there, and yeah, sometimes I do let my hair down. Since these forums are the only way we can communicate, it is necessarily public, and I have accepted that. The fact that you, not a member of the intended audience and with obviously different viewpoints, took offense to, or were saddened by what I wrote, is not surprising to me at all. When I was sitting where you are now, I would have felt the same way.
What you have to understand, Maggie, is that there are two sides to this table. On the one side sits all those who are active Jehovah’s Witnesses, or at least those who believe that God is using the Watchtower to do his will. On the other side sit those who were very devoted Jehovah’s Witnesses, in most cases for many years, who have now come to see that the Watchtower really betrayed them through lies, deceit and manipulation for much of their lives. I have sat on both sides of the table, Maggie. I don’t believe you have. That’s what makes it difficult for you to appreciate the tone of my comments to that audience. And that’s why the letter we sent to you did not contain our conclusions, only the evidence.
On these X-Jehovah’s Witness boards, if you’ve been reading them, I think you will see that the word or designation "apostate" is something referred to most often in a joking manner, or kind of tongue-in-cheek, because it is only the Society’s designation of some as horrible, wicked human beings, when it is in fact they, the Watchtower, that is most deserving of that designation, based on their actions. For example, I have done nothing condemned in scripture, yet the Society would probably say I am an apostate, based on the dictionary definition. The Watchtower, on the other hand, has been caught, many times, practicing the very thing they preach against, something very clearly condemned in scripture. So, the whole "apostasy" thing seems kind of funny to us. And so some have coined the term "apostafests" for get togethers they have, as a kind of joke. And they do get together, because many of them have suffered the unspeakable cruelty of having been cut-off from their families and all their former friends by the Society, in many cases, just because they don’t agree with hypocrisy.
"I know you even doubt a supreme being at this point – and that is very sad indeed."
Whether the fact that I have doubts about there being a supreme being is something sad, that’s not the way I feel. As to the cause of my having doubts, the so-called "apostates" had nothing whatever to do with that, as many of them do still believe in God. The doubts that I have now about God’s existence can be laid squarely at the feet of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. From the time I realized the extent to which I had been betrayed and "conned" by this organization, I began to doubt everything.
"Tell yourself that YOU are a viable person in society! Surround yourself with people you wish to emulate – hopefully, they are positive and don’t continue to perpetuate hurtful thoughts and sayings….there are better ways of making a difference in this world!"
As to being positive and a beneficial influence in my community, I appreciate your encouragement along those lines. I believe I am making a very positive contribution by serving my community as a volunteer firefighter. I also enjoy membership in the Reston/Herndon Folk Club. And we have found many good and decent people who have become friends we can really count on at the firehouse and the club as well. Firefighters regularly give their lives for one another and for their neighbors, and Jesus said there is no love greater than that.
"I see you Lenny as a little boy who hasn’t felt loved or validated through his life – who just wanted to fit in somewhere – who just wanted to be respected for who you are and the many gifts you bring to the table. I’m so very sorry some men did not do that over the years."
As to your psychoanalysis of me, I must say I find it at the very least to be presumptuous, distasteful and even condescending. I would never attempt to provide you with an unsolicitied analysis of who you are and why you are. I studied Psychology as my major on the University level, and I don’t feel I could even begin to qualify to attempt such a thing. I don’t think it’s wise for you to make assumptions about who people are and why they are. Suffice it to say, if you truly understood me, you wouldn’t be offended by what I say.
"If we never talk again Lenny – it will be only because I must surround myself with positive influences in my life."
That's the most negative sentence I've ever read, with the word "positive" in it. I find here the suggestion that you may intend to honor a shunning of me. If that's what you mean, it really makes any expressions of love ring with a dull thud, as these are contradictory behaviors. You might want to consider a good book on cognitive dissonance. Again, the door will always be open here. We will never shun you.
From Maggie (1 September 2006)
Hi again Lenny!
I really don’t want to go back and forth on this with you as I feel it may not be a productive us of time.
Allow me to apologize to you regarding your feelings of "condescending" that my words may have engendered in your mind. This was in no way my intention. I did not think I was psychoanalyzing you. As a parent, these were meant as more tender words. I see you have been hurt by many egotistical men over the years and in my mind, I do not see you that way. I see you as having more of a boyish exuberance with no hidden agenda’s (unlike some of the arrogant men you have had a misfortune of knowing.) Anyway, I better stop before I get myself into trouble again!! ?
Regarding the Doctor analogy: This is true to a point. The Doctor however, normally has an answer to the problems and will use his skill to fix the problem with surgery, etc. In this instance, I see many ex-witnesses talking about lies and injustices, but offering no good answer for "what else is there"? In fact, most of them go back to the Catholic churches, non-denominational churches, or simply stop worshiping God all together. In your case, you kept praying for awhile during these last few years – but now you doubt most everything.
In the Corporate room, if there is a problem, it is briefly discussed, but most of the time is spent of a proactive and positive resolution.
Lenny – I don’t want to feel lost. That is not what I want in my life. This has been a tough year for me since speaking with you. I don’t want it to continue spiraling downward. This is me – okay?
Regarding not hanging out with people who I feel bring me down: For example: I love my older sister, but she drives me crazy! She is very negative, blames everyone for her misfortunes, uses people for money and what she can get from them, etc. Do I still spend time with her? When she comes over, I will talk with her, etc. But I do not spend a lot of time in her company. I do love her – just don’t feel good in her company.
I do a lot of professional reading which keeps me on a good wave length throughout the day. I am very "jealous" with my time – once it is gone – it is gone. Why wouldn’t I be selective in who I spend my time with? The individuals who I enjoy being around? People who have similar interests as me? It doesn’t mean I do not love others – I’m just careful. I hope this makes more sense.
Please have a great weekend! I won’t be calling next week. I need some time to think and digest things.
One last thing: Visualize if you will, yourself in a casket – no more thoughts – no more living – no more of anything. If you could be looking down on yourself from above – would you be happy with the way you had spent the rest of your life – from 50 to 90+? What would you see? Would you be happy with every minute of everyday? Would you feel that your use of time is all productive and the best way you could have used those 24 hours in each day?
This is rhetorical – this is some of the stuff I think about. This is why I value every minute of every day. I want to live my life fully – and joyfully – without harboring grudges on anyone or anything. I want people to enjoy my company too. I want to be kind to others – bring out their good points – avoid concentrating on their weaker ones….assume the best of people….not be "presumptuous" and misread what others are trying to communicate.
Good communication is such a delicate balance.
Love always, Maggie ?
Response to Maggie (1 September 2006)
First of all, I find nothing in your latest email that I disagree with. I appreciate your apology regarding the personality analysis, and I wasn’t really upset with you, personally, because I feel I know you well enough. I just wanted you to know the effect it had. And I do appreciate your "tender" intentions. And thank you for the compliment that I do not hide what I am. At least that’s how I see myself. If you remember (name), before she died, she told me, "I really like that whenever Lenny tells me something, I never have to wonder what he means, because he always means exactly what he says." You’re not in trouble. I can feel your love through your words.
As to the doctor analogy and having an answer to problems, or offering no good answer to "what else is there?", I understand exactly what you are saying (I think). I struggled with this for awhile myself. I have come to terms with the fact of my own mortality and feel comfortable with that. As to having answers, these are questions that people have been debating since the beginning of time. Anyone who claims to have the answers, I believe, is self-delusional. When a person is captive in an abusive and damaging relationship, their immediate escape is far more important than to know the specific destination where they will eventually be. If you're in a cave and realize you're breathing toxic gases, the main thing is to get out. You don't stop and wonder what the weather is outside, or whether there might be a hungry bear waiting. You just get out! I am far more comfortable, now, than when I was a witness, to answer, "I don’t know" to any number of theological questions. It’s taken a bit of growing up, as I face the world without the "organization", but it’s been good for me, and I’m finding true satisfaction in life. I am much happier now than I've been in years. I was just talking last night with (name). Did you know him? He was raised as a witness, from a baby. He was also an elder and a Bethelite. He and his wife stopped attending meetings about six years ago and won't be going back. They both said that they have never been happier than they are now.
Finally, with regard to the casket visualization, I am very concerned that my life serves some meaningful and important purpose. To me, that is defined as service to others. I have chosen the fire and rescue service. It provides my life with all the purpose I require. If I even have one opportunity to help rescue someone from a burning house or wrecked car, or even made myself available to do so, then I feel very comfortable with the "casket" visualization.
It’s OK, if you don’t call next week. But whenever you want to communicate, we are here.
From Maggie (1 September 2006)
Thanks Lenny!! (her son) and I are heading out for the weekend. I trust Karen and you have a wonderful one!! Love ya, Maggie
From Edward/active JW for many years, but never a servant (7 September 2006)
I received your info along with the picture and your personal history/experiences. None of it came as a shock to me, as we had talked about some of this before. I feel, in fact that we have gone through some of the same things and thoughts but have come to different conclusions and perhaps outcomes.
I knew about the U.N. thing already (and many other things). My take is that, like some other things, someone or some people there felt it was a good idea at the time so information could flow back and forth. In hindsight, a bad thing. The Governing Body is made of men who make mistakes, and sometimes scramble to cover them up. Guided at times perhaps, but they have made mistakes and will probably continue to make mistakes. Sometimes the consequences are bad and people are hurt. "Apostasy" and disfellowshipping is sometimes skewed to suit the needs of the organization because it is larger than the individual. Unity is at stake and the individual could take a hit. I didn't say it was always right. I marvel at the breakups of couples that are disfellowshipped for a time and then re-appear with different mates, are repentant and then are re-instated. Wrong, and then right, but you can see both sides. Those who may have been disfellowshipped for speaking out when the house was prepared so long ago for Abraham and others to be resurrected and live there were no doubt hurt. I'm sure there have been times when I think something went wrong, but if I had all the information it may appear otherwise.
I always wished that, instead of overreaching sometimes, the society should say, "this probably means", or "apparently", or "could mean". Maybe that's too wishy-washy, but there are some things I believe we can never be sure of until way later and CLEAR hindsight can be used. (deceased elder we both knew) said that many times. When you consider 1John 4:1 and related scriptures you know mistakes have been made.
I don't think that anyone or any organization has the whole truth. There's just too much to know and too many mistakes and miscalculations to make. My faith lies in the basics, not the things that I would consider icing on the cake if indeed they are true. In the end everyone will be judged by the heart, not where they are. This my opinion.
I could never be an elder and be as dogmatic as they may need to be at times.
Why do I still go to meetings and go out in service (not a lot of time there)? I still believe most of the things I've learned there, and if I wasn't there I would drift, wind down and do many things I shouldn't. When I see what other religions have, I feel fortunate, even with the problems. How many Muslims are there in the world? Catholics? Hindus? Buddhists? Others that put the flag above the creator and kill each other? How about "The Lord's Witnesses" that were sure the U.N. building was going to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon on a certain day last month. They urgently warned the NYC government, the U.N. and the Watchtower to clear out of town. It didn't happen and their posted warnings were removed the next day. On my car radio the other day I happened to hear a preacher pleading with his listeners to urgently take in his "new" information. He said many have been lied to, because God's name is not Jesus, it is Yahweh or Jehovah, but that name has cleverly been removed from the Bible! This was his new information! How long have you known that?
Sorry I've rambled, but I've skimmed the top of what's in my heart and my head.
Stay well and don't work too hard!
Response to Edward (15 September 2006)
Thank you for taking the time to respond to our mailing. It is, at the same time, amazing, yet not surprising, how many have failed to even acknowledge it. For those who have responded, I am appreciative, regardless of whether they agree with anything I wrote or not. Obviously, this has been a difficult time for us.
I don’t want to launch into a lengthy reply to your email, but will respond to what I sense is the gist of it. Of course, I am open to talking at any time, as I have been.
I read your email a number of times, and I can’t help commenting on your use of the word "mistake", which appears about five times. In my experience, this is a common mechanism that Witnesses use (not just Witnesses, I know) in dealing with apparent moral failings of the Organization. I think the reason for this is that a "mistake" is really just something inherently innocent. A momentary lapse of judgment. Something done in the heat of the moment, without forethought. Witnesses use that line of reasoning, because then it is an easy matter to excuse the Society, because, after all, they’re just imperfect like everyone else. If we don’t forgive them, how can we be forgiven? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Look at all the good they’ve done. Where else are we to go? Any other line of reasoning could lead a Witness to a conclusion they cannot accept, and lead to cognitive dissonance. Without realizing it, a premise which is false, predetermines a pattern of thought that is easily predictable.
The evidence at hand stands as a loud witness against the contention that many of the Society’s actions were "mistakes". But for argument’s sake, let’s say that they were. Ed, if you made a "mistake", that you later learned caused harm to someone, even though you didn’t mean it, what would you do? Well, common sense and basic decency would dictate, that we would first go to the person, express our remorse for whatever they suffered, explain how it happened, and ask what we could do to make things right again. Further, if we were in a position of some authority over that person, I believe we should also let them know what we were doing to try and assure it wouldn’t happen again.
Well, what is the Society’s record with regard to it’s "mistakes"? Whether we consider the Malawi situation, the alternative service situation, the 1975 debacle, the 1914 debacle, the UN scandal, the multitude of "adjustments" with regard to the blood issue, and there are so many others — take your pick — there is a clear, repeated pattern in how they respond.
First, they just go silent. Ignore it. Hope it will go away. Pretend like it didn’t happen. And you know what? If they wait long enough, it does! Because time heals all wounds. And there is a continual turnover of membership, newer ones being unaffected emotionally by things that happened in the foggy past. Just like we were unaffected when we became Witnesses in 1974, by the multitude of dogmatic statements that were made with regard to 1914 for decades. Ed, if you had caused serious harm to someone, even by a mistake, and decided to just ignore it, and say nothing, what should we think of you?
The next thing the Society does, if it doesn’t go away, like the 1975 problem, or the alternative service issue, is to make some sort of "official statement" in which they acknowledge, in a vague fashion, that "mistakes were made", apparently by some non-descript entity, and that it has worked out "to Jehovah’s praise", so how could anyone complain? Again, I ask, if you caused serious harm to someone, is the appropriate response to simply say, "Hey, somebody made a mistake. But look how great everything worked out!" What does that say about a person’s character?
What I find especially revealing of character, is that they combine this last tactic, at times, with a laying of responsibility on the victim of their "mistake" for any negative consequences! And this, as a condition of their supposed "apology"! Such as in 1914, 1975, or the alternative service issue. With 1914 and 1975, they made statements, years later, to the effect that some of us took things a little too far, and went beyond what they said. I don’t know about you, but I never came up with an expectation that Armageddon would arrive in 1975 on my own, and I don’t know of any Witnesses who did. But there was a continual barrage of information, magazine titles, and comments in the Watchtower, the Awake!, the Kingdom Ministry, and many assembly parts, from 1968 until 1975, obviously carefully engineered to build this expectation in their audience. Again, if you hurt someone badly, and turned around and blamed them, what does it say about the sort of person you are?
Are not these tactics, which we have seen used over and over and over again by the Society, indicative of a heartless, prideful and thoroughly unChristian character?
And all of this is making the assumption that these actions of the Society, especially regarding the UN matter, were "mistakes". The evidence shows otherwise. Ed, thousands of lives have been lost, damaged, ruined or wasted, as a direct consequence of trusting implicitly in an organization that claims to be a "true prophet of God", "God’s channel of communication", etc. The harm comes as a direct consequence of their lies, deceit and intentional manipulation of those that trust them.
As if all this were not enough, if anyone dares to suggest in any way, even confidentially to a close friend, that the Society has violated serious moral principles and caused harm, they then initiate "damage control" with the policy of cutting them off from all their former friends, and in many cases families. That threat constitutes their final method of dealing with their "mistakes". Again, Ed, I ask you to search your heart. If you caused serious harm to someone, and they complain to you about it, and you respond to that complaint with such harshness, administering a form of "death" to them, what does it really say about you?
If you continue to remain a part of the Watchtower Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses, and to support them and their activities, in spite of what you know, we respect your right of choice, and we will never let that stand in the way of friendship. But as for Karen and myself, painful as it is, we must stand on principle.
Our love to you and Cheryl,