I'm not now, nor have I ever been a JW. I do have and interest in the JWs though. For the past many months I have been reading this board and it's predicessor and when membership was opened I jumped right in. Anyway, I have to make the blanket statement that you folks have a survival instinct that I find remarkable.
A little about me. My beliefs could be summed up as evangelical. I believe the Bible is the word of God. However, I have very thick skin and I'm not looking to use this forum to get people to see things my way.
I was a kid growing up in the 1960s and 70s, well, I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers. Our next store neighbors had kids the same age as us and we would play everyday after school, walk to school together and all that stuff. They were like extended family. The mother became a JW and slowly dragged the kids in. It totally ruined the marrage of the mother and father. The kids went from being fun, smart, involved in sports to totally involved in the watchtower. One of the kids was a girl (Susan) and she went from being literally the smartest kid in my class to a totally withdrawn person who became a bank teller after HS. A waste.
I remember going to the oldest girls wedding at the Hall. This was in 1973 and 3 things stick out in my mind to this day. The father (who never liked the JWs) had not met the boy she married until the day of the wedding and he was practically in tears about this (daddies little girl leaving some wet behind the ears boy to live on pennies a day). I remember during the wedding service talk that they (the couple) were going to become "pioneers". I didn't know until about 15 years ago what that ment. I do remember hearing about the end coming soon but I really didn't give it much thought. Also, I remember the mother telling my mom that there would be no drinking at the reception and then hearing my dad tell my mom that the girls dad (our neighbors dad) talk about the liquor bill and since only JWs and a few misc non-JWs were at the reception couldn't figure out how that much booze was consumed by my parents and my underage brothers and sisters.
For much of our High School years the kids next store spoke very little to us but hung out with the kids from the hall of whom were of the nerd variety. Two of the 3 boys after HS went to work at the factory in Brooklyn (I now know this is Bethel). BTW, we lived on the Jersey Shore, this was not that far. All the kids (5 of them) were last I heard still hard core JWs. The father agreeded on his death bed that the WT was it, this to get the mother off his back. I know this because the father told my dad this about a week before he died.
I had another friend in HS who was a JW. Based on my resarch, his family wasn't totally committed because he played in the HS band and sang in the choir. He was THE smartest kid in my class and a very (I mean very) talented musician and could have gone to college anywhere. I saw him about 6 years after HS graduation, he had a two year degree in math and was working in a bank . This guy should be a scientist, I cannot get over the waste of a life.
Anyway, I have been reading the Bible for many years and about 10 years ago, the JWs knocked on the door. It turned out to be a cat fight but I promised myself to learn as much as I could about the JWs. I have read many of the books mentioned on this site and from time to time test out my knowledge with a JW at my workplace. One thing I can say is that it has really hepled me to solidify my faith in the Bible.
I hope I'm welcome here. If not I understand. From time to time I could give my evangelical prespective on things as I see folks speculating on how the "born agains" or the "fundys" view things. I would sum up the WT theology though as a works based religion as opposed to salvation by faith. My heart goes out to many of you, who, trying to gain relief from this religion loose family and friends. This is from my understanding of the Bible totally wrong.
Thanks for your time,