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Warren Schroeder from Bethel on Freddy, Kline and the apostate books!
Warren Schroeder from Bethel on Freddy, Kline and the apostate books!
Hi Randy, Just a hello from Warren Schroeder, Bethel: 5/79 to 10/82.
Over the years I lost touch with some common friends and was looking for a couple of names which I found through the ex-JW sites. I live in the East Village with my dearest wife, who teaches at NYU. We sometimes think we're the oldest people in the neighborhood... I just turned 53. We can't imagine living anywhere else.... well, we can imagine, but not any time in the near future.
I think back to my years at Bethel with great fondness, even though many of my closest friends were dismissed and treated badly during the "purge". I made many good friends in and out of Bethel. Many of us knew we were part of a significant movement inside Bethel which also found its influence into a few small local NY groups outside of Bethel.
The powers seemed to tolerate the loose and liberal talk for quite a while. The Towers and Squibb construction was complete, or near complete, and the Bethel population was growing very fast. It was buzzing and alive. Bible reading groups and bible commentaries were popping up everywhere. Construction and spending money, including new 4-color presses and faster bindery equipment, was foremost and took priority with the "management". Dealing with the heretics was put on hold a bit, at least until the great property grab in the Heights was completed.
There were a couple new books published that were nothing like the typical FWFranzesque prophetic calculus manuals. These books were not typical fare, and you could see the puzzled looks when they reached the book study groups and meetings. Biblical commentary within scriptural context, with applied critical thinking, was a daunting task for the star-struck and lobotomized organizational faithful.
There was a point when the committees finally started their inquisitions. I had a total of 3, 2 of which that included Don Adams (twice), John Booth, and some Bethel elders I don't remember, and finally a one-on-one with Karl Kline in his writing department office (this was likely due to my relationship with R. Lengtat, who I had studied with for about a year). The Karl Kline meeting was most memorable. Karl got quite fired up, doing all the talking, and began drooling on himself. He always seemed to have a slight speech impediment. He had 2 open books in front of him marked on various pages that he read passages from and stated the heresy of the ideas and how opposed these ideas were to "Freddy's". He named the authors, clearly mentioning Ray Franz and Rinehardt Lengtat. The books were "Commentary on James" and "Happiness".
I do not recall the particulars of the discussion now and which were the problem passages. It was an event to watch him so animated when he was simply sitting slouched in a chair. As far as the real purge, guilt by association was easier for the elders to deal with than figuring out what you really believed. I knew how to answer the "what do you believe" questions since I was primed by Chris Sanchez and Nestor Quilan, who I had met with once, during their series of meetings with Bethel elders, and again, right after their liberation from Bethel. In the beginning of the purge, who I knew and talked to would be problematic. I was certainly "small potatoes" but the committees wanted information about others. I got away with mostly saying I didn't know anything about how any person believed on specific doctrines. The first committee I met was easy because it was early in the hunt, and the inquisitors were a bit lost as a group by not being very focused on anything in particular. The 2nd committee was a few months later and made me sweat a bit more. They had their people lined up and their questioning fine tuned, mostly with one person asking all the questions. Overall, the meetings were short and, for me, ended with a little talk about bad association and reading worldly bible commentaries.
This is all so much water under the bridge and much more since. I was never disfellowshipped and never resigned as a JW (with some criticism by a few others that I should do so). By 1984 I never thought to attend a Kingdom Hall again out of my own volition. I have never looked back with regret, or that my unpaid work at Bethel were a waste of my time.... I was a little later than many in getting my college education and attaining other economic benefits, but it was an irreplaceable learning experience, being a progressive free thinker inside a closed minded group, and surviving relatively unscathed. I look back and retell the story for an interested audience. I reflect on who I am today, very different than who I was as a young JW. Bethel was an important turning point in my life. If it could have the same results I could only wish the experience for others.
...so, Randy asks Warren to cough up some more stories...
It would be a book to discuss all the details of the studies inside and outside of Bethel.
Greg, Randy Mangels and myself studied with R. Lengtat and his roommate Mark, through 79 until it became too precarious for Lengtat. Inside the Writing Dept. Gene Smalley focused and did what he could to subvert RL's position in the Writing Dept. Lengtat described Smalley, Klein, and Schroeder as the kind that would read newspapers all day just to pluck some morsels that would support the existing endtimes doctrines.
Karl Klein absolutely idolized Fred Franz, which was most apparent when I was called into his office for some readjustment. Lengtat was the wunderkind who had the respect of R.F and E.D for his scholarship of scripture, ignoring the Fred Franz calculus that had shaped JW doctrine for so long, and this association would also become problematic for him when the dissention came to a head.
In his room he had drawers jammed full of documents of commentary on Daniel, Ezekiel and the prophets, and whatever. In particular, I remember reading several chapters of Ezekiel in some of the readings. I believe that Greg was the only person he trusted to hold some of the commentary to copy some parts. Greg very likely still has his large print referenced NWT, in which he wrote into every margin and crevice comments from our studies with RL. (Too bad RL didn't read Benedict Spinoza's critique about revelation and Ezekiel's writings... rightfully calling him insane). RL would carry documents on his person at all times. He was always seen clutching his leather briefcase to the side or chest. It was speculated between our small group that whatever it was it was in there was probably his quiet ticket out of Bethel.
It did prove to be something, since he was not publicly disgraced on his exit from Bethel and was actually awarded a stipend, in the name of "Special Pioneer" when he left for Seattle. His father was living there and he moved in for a short period. WT may have needed his help to complete some research, I'm not sure, and I didn't ask since he was completely paranoid, and maybe rightfully so. RL and I stayed in contact for another 3-4 years, but it began to slow when he and I both realized that I was moving farther away from the things that he was still interested in studying and believing. We also had several Bible readings inside Bethel which included outsiders like Connie Ingargiola, Laura Driscoll, Mario DeCuitis, Donna Fried, Michelle Tessa, and Ron Leeds, from Long Island. We also met outside in their homes.
There was also another group from WT Farms that I knew but did not stay in contact with. The Watchtower Farm individuals were more connected to the Long Island group and we met mostly on ski trips and other recreation. I also did readings with Cris, Norma, Nestor, and his wife (name?) a couple times in my room. It was getting closer to their demise and everything just stopped between us. Near the end I made a visit to see them in Spanish Translating (Bldg #1).
I had quite a bit of liberty of movement through the factory as an electrician, and I was becoming better known with all the supervisors and was able to go just about anywhere without question. At that time, I knew something was wrong as Cris said he could not talk to me and had a meeting. He and Norma would be gone within some hours or days. So much chatter for now. I've attached a picture of Sherry (my wife) and myself from 3-4 years ago.
I also had brain cancer surgery at the end of February. I'm ambidextrous, so the surgeon needed to be concerned about how my brain would react to cutting in certain locations. This required me to talk to the surgeon while he probed and cut my brain. I became more famous afterwards when he told me that I have a rare and special brain. I asked what he meant and informed me that I was cross-dominant, and in his words, said it was a DaVinci brain. Well, cool then. He could only remove 45% of the GBM4, which left a lot of questions about my survival chances. I've been through the radiation and chemo and a recent MRI shows the tumor gone, which is amazing. I am in a clinical trial at NYU, which apparently works, and will continue with some more treatments of chemo and Avastin. I have regained quite a bit of my energy since the radiation terminated about 5 weeks ago. I posted a picture on the net which shows my zipped up head. Here is the weblink:
Permanent link to Warren's story:
My version, which is somewhat parallel:
Is Warren Schroeder son of GB member Schroeder?
No, they are not related. Judah Schroeder is Albert's son.
Thanks Randy and tell Bro Warren...thank you for sharing too!
I love reading about those type of experiences, it helps me to understand why all of sudden the JW world was cast into darkness when previously light had been allowed.
Thanks Randy. I knew he had a son but forgot his name... Yrs and yrs ago I read your book about the GB. How do you view the new GB compared to the one in place yrs ago?. Do you think the same thing with Ray could happen again?
thanks for the tidbits.
I often find it interesting to read these kind of accounts.