I'm halfway through two books, and both of them together have greatly helped me understand why people are attracted to extreme religious groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses, and how these organizations manage to stick around...year after year. I figure understanding why is the start. If you are waiting for cherished relatives and friends to "see the light", these books might help. Extreme religions exist to meet a need.
Expecting Armageddon: Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy by Jon R. Stone
Why people self-justify a flawed belief, sometimes with extreme fervor. They do because the alternative, to admit to a wasted life, is too awful to bear. It's called Cognitive Dissonance, and we all do it; even if it is to justify a lousy purchase or a poor choice in partner.
How fundamentalism rose in the three big religions; Jewish, Christian, and Islamic, to meet an unmet need in modern society. The author succesfully argues that fundamentalism is more than an anomaly in society. It is a reaction to the uncertainty in the age of reason. Here's two treasured quotes from the Battle for God:
"Christians imagined the final extinction of modern society in obsessive detail, yearning morbidly towards it." (p. 138)
"Premillenialism manifests that lust for certainty which is a reaction to a modernity that deliberately leaves questions open and denies the possibility of absolute truth." (p. 140)
As a postscript, I look forward to Blondie's comments this weekend. Its a stern reminder to the congregation to bow down to the "faithful and discreet slave." The very image of bowing to a slave is a horror to me. So many people struggling to conform to flawed men.