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