JW Culture has Changed!

by Amazing 37 Replies latest jw friends

  • Amazing

    In the late 1960s, I became a JW. There was a sense of intellectual freedom and more openness to discuss various spiritual and even some social topics. There was reliance on Watch Tower literature as an authority, but still the Soiciety seem to confine its concerns and left the rest up to individual JWs to decide. One such example is that of 'Apostate' literature' and general news sources.

    In 1971 I started my first Bible Study: Not long after we got into the "Truth Book" a co-worker gave my study the book, Thirty Years a Watch Tower Slave by William Schnell. I was dunstruck at first because I barely recalled the book from when my mother first read it many years earlier. And before I became a JW, I was unable to find it or other literature critical of the JWs. And no one recommended it. So, no was my chance to read it and deal with it during my Bible Study.

    Ask the Elders: I also asked a couple of Elders about the book, and what they thought. They said they had read it, or heard of it, and that it had cause many not to become JWs, but they felt it was a junky book, and not worth the reading time. But, they did not discourage me when I mentioned that my Bible Study wanted to go oevr it as part of our program. They did not see the harm, as the "Truth" would stand any test.

    The 30 Years Book: I did spend about three or four study sessions goinf over certain issues with my Bible Study. They also loaned the book to me to read more of it for my own interest. Even in my novice state as a JW, I could see that the book was poorly written. Schnell's book was also dated, and so it was easy to tell the Study that we dod not do 'these things' or use those 'terms' anymore. And, I was able to effectively show other things about the JW world that seem to refute Schnell's claims. Even after I left the JWs, I have read Schnell's book, and still find it a poor work, though I better understand the historical setting in which it was written. Also, Schnell still comes across as rather whinning and self-centered.

    I told the Elders about my reading the book: I was also a servant at the time, and they simply asked what I tought, and I told them it was not very good, and was easy to deal with during my Bible Study sessions. They said that the Society does feel that such things are not worth our time, but that it was good that I was able to deal with this, and turn my study around. [By the way, this study and his wife and children are all active JWs today and shun me.]

    In the early 1980s I mentioned the Time Magazine article about Ray Franz as a comment during a Book Study. The Elder conductine the study did use the last 10 to 15 minutes to discuss not reading worldly news sources and being exposed to twisted facts or lies. But later he admitted to me privately that this was done because the average JW could not handle such information. So the counsel to me was limited, and admittedly a little strong, but nothing that would have removed me from being an Elder.

    As recently as the middle to late 1980s, when Jimmy Swaggert Ministeries was taken before the US Supreme Court, the Watch Tower Society filed a 'Friend of the Court' brief (Ammicus Curiae) somewhat siding with Swaggert. I saw the article in the San Francisco Chronicle and showed it to fellow Elders. They all wanted copies and found this a most interesting move on the Society's part, but again, no mention of any concern about 'worldly' news or any 'apostate' paranoia.

    What 'Apostate' literature about today?: The above scenarios could never take place today. About a year or two ago, on H20, one of the posters discussed how a MS in the noirtheast USA was removed because he happen to read an medical journal "JAMA" I think, which discussed the Blood issue in Bulgaria or something like that, and then mentioned this to an ELder, and boom, he was dealt a harse blow.

    Then I saw 'BadWillies' post about how he and his wife merely mentioned the UN issue and they have now been "Publicly" reproved. And I have seen other such situations mentyioned here and elsewhere how the Jehovah's Witnesses and their leaders have all but become a virtual world of paranoia, and I have to admit that their culture has indeed evolved into something far beyond I could have ever imagined possible in the late 1960s. They seem to be in a state of fear and show a seige mentality. - Amazing

  • Bridgette

    Excellent points, Amazing. I remember reading about the early "brothers", esp. Russell, and thinking, what free thinkers they must have been to break away from traditional Christianity. I used to hear about the title of one of Russell's books, "Food for THINKING Christians" and thinking, we're not taught to think or question at all.
    I know if I had not been practically born "in" it, I would never have chosen to become a Jehovah's Witness, but I think I would've had a lot more respect for those earlier "brothers" than the Naze-esque regime that represent their diety now.


  • worf


    Those are all excellent points.There is definitely a siege mentality.
    Isn't it interesting how the borg claims to have God behind it, but yet they are afraid of books and websites? Well I guess God has no power to "protect" them, so he has directed them to shun those who read these things.:) :)
    I also read Schnell's book. He does seem to whine, but I thought it was enlightening as to the tactics used by the borg such as sending people into certain areas to purposely get "persecution" started up so they can make themselves look like those Jesus was talking about.
    I also found it interesting as to the tactics they will use to get people out of the organization when they want to reinvent things even if it means losing thousands of people.I thought Schnell described this very well. And it seems they use the same tactics today but maybe slightly different.
    What do you think?

  • hillbilly

    The first comment I ever heard re: "Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave" were along these lines. "Tha'ts stupid, if he didn't like it why did he stick around for thirty years?" Of course, no one actually read the book so any comments were innane.
    Remember most of our brothers "majored" in "WT Critical Thinking" ,( 101, 102, and 103), and minored in "Circular Reasoning"

  • Pathofthorns

    I think if you are in a hall within a reasonable proximity to Brooklyn or a Branch office, the increased legalistic nature of the Society and the attempts to clean up public perception to not appear as a cult, have actually increased the amount of loopholes to those who seek to beat a disfellowshipping offence.

    People within the organization are more tolerant than ever and more critical than ever. Sure, they are not very bright for the most part, but I think its a better time than ever to claim to be a JW but do whatever you want.

    Plus, whoever had this kind of access to advice and information at their fingertips years ago?


  • dungbeetle

    I found William Schnell's book incredible for HIS time...no, he is not a Ray Franz, but then who is. I devored it in one evening and a morning, and my husband read it too (never been christian let alone a JW)

    He did make strong statements tho that chills down my spine.

    pg 96...The Watchtower Society had reached a point where it was forced to go even further. Quietly and imperceptively it now had to disrobe itself of the mantle of Christianity which it so long had worn for a cover and disguise.

    pg 71...If events had not transpired to put the Hitler movement into control, Germany might have become the first Jehovah's Witness state of God's Organization.

    and some other statements...

    41...In order then to crystalize matters to the point of a crises, the Society instituted early in 1925 a rigid method of accounting and reporting to it all time spent in witnessing with its books....In the decade from 1921 to 1931 almost three-fourths of the Bible Students originlly associated with the Society in a loose fashion left the Society's supervision behind. That is precisely what the new Watch Tower Society wanted and what they hoped to accomplish.

    110...the Watch Tower Society cleverly throughout the land raised the organized cry, "Religion is a snare and a racket." Thus by accusing others it drew away from itself the charge that its book selling campaign was a racket.

    Interesting stuff I thought.

    Dungbeetle...so much dung, so little time...

  • Eyebrow


    Thanks for your post! It was interesting to see how things from your experience have changed.

    My whole experience with the JWs was that we should not read apostate literature, but it is interesting how things really changed when the internet became popular. One really should take what they read with a grain of salt online, but the JWs seem to have gone overboard.

  • Amazing

    Hi Worf and HillBilly:

    First, Worf: Yes, Schnell's book had some enlightening points. One was his claim that the Society experiments on certain policies and practices on German JWs first, before attempting to push it off on USA JWs, who were considered more "independant." And, after I left the JWs and read Schnell's book again, I found that some of it made more sense. He would have done better in his book if he had not promoted the Trinity at the end of it, but simply left doctrine alone, and focused only on practices. Thnanks for mentioing this good feature of his book. - Amazing

    Hillbilly: You made some very good points about Circular Reasoning among JWs. Schnell did admit that his involvement, while taking him to some level of Bethel service and getting to know J. F . Rutherford, that his involvement as a JW was not a solid steadfast 30 years, but it had some checkered points where he would leave for a while and then get involved again. But his efforts to try and be a good JW spanned 30 years.

    And JWs who stay in the organization, but still unhappy, may also ask the same question of others who have left after 20, 30, 40, or more years as JWs. The lack 'happiness' is not always there, espefcially not at first. But as the years elapse, we make good efforts to try and follow the organization's direction that something is 'wrong' with us as individuals if we are not 'happy', and so while unhappy, we tried to reconcile this and correct ourselves. Then, one fine day, we wake up and realize that the problem isd not us, but the religion. I am always amazed at how JWs are never able to reason on this possibility. Thanks for the good point. - Amazing

  • LittleToe

    You are so right!
    This isn't the organization that I was brought up in, nor my parents before me. Frankly they just don't get it.
    We're in an age of "Freedom of Information" and liberal thinking.
    Even the governments realise that it's too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

    Recent C.O. visit elders meetings have stressed the need to curtail Internet usage (following up on the bias in the literature).
    Some poor saps have even confessed to having "seen a little porn on the web" (LOL).
    Where will it all end? Where can it all end?
    There may be large numbers coming in from the third world, but the Internet is everywhere.

    To quote dungbeetle, "Run, Wt, run".


    Not my most lucid post, but then it's been a long day.

  • Room 215
    Room 215

    Unquestionably, JW culture has changed, and in my mind for the worse. As but one example, take the current run of what they call ``public talks.''
    These rarely deal with topics of broad interest to the geeneral public such as doctrine, world events, etc., but are akin to the kind of ``service talks'' visiting Bethelites used to give on Saturday nights. They're laced with esoteric ``theocratic'' jargon only JWs understand (``pioneer,'' ``circuit overseer'' ``field service,'' etc., etc.) that we were once cautioned against using because of the public's lack of familiarity with them.
    When I began to give public talks (my first one was in 1959), the outline (Does the Bible Teach What You Believe?), was just that, a a cursory triple spaced item barely covering one sheet; today's on the other hand, are virtual manuscripts, with no allowance for considerable personal expression.
    I understand that at Circuit Assemblies, they have Society-appointed apparatchiks following the speakers to make sure they stick like glue to the Society's outline-cum-manuscript. Any deviation raises suspicions of ``independent thinking,'' or worse, ``apostasy.''
    Another `no-no'' in those days was to quote directly from Society literature while delivering a talk: we were supposed to use them for preparation but take ONLY the Bible to the platform. Nowadays, the speakers often make more frequent quotations from either a Watchtower article, or say ``the outline says'' -- both of which were considered unacceptable in years past.
    This is but one case where the increasingly paranoid and autocratic Society has stifled individual expression in favor of a sort of self-centered bland uniformity.
    The criteron for a public talk in the old days was to attract a new listener and get him to come back to the Kingsom Hall for more. Today's talks, taargeted for the ``exclusive club'' at the Kingdom Hall, defeat their intended purpose, because they confuse,befuddle and alienate newcomers as never before.

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