More Misc Ramblings About Gilead
Honestly, I can't remember if I told some of this already, so if I repeat myself, please allow me this. I am practicing for old age....
It is now 6 years since I got the "long form" application for Gilead, with over 120 questions to answer. 5 years since I got my notice that we were selected to attend the 119th class of Gilead from April-September 2005.
Prior to this, I really wanted to be a CO. I won't belabor the point about my ex JW wife wanting to go overseas, but suffice to say, her goal won out over my goal. As I look back, had I not gone to Gilead and then go overseas where I was attacked, I could very easily have still been a JW even right now. But 2005 was the year that the dam broke in my head, and I didn't just start to think, I had way too many thoughts to process.
We had good friends of ours (who were going to get bribed with tickets for graduation) drive us out to Patterson NY in early April of 2005. We fit all of our belongings in a little trailer that they towed, and off we went. We arrived a day later after leaving from Michigan. It was a full two weeks before class began. While we could have chilled out and rested for a couple of days, we barely unpacked and asked for work to do. Both of us thought this would make a good impression.
As I look back, I knew even then that I had doubts. But I did a good job of keeping them below the surface. The indoctrination of decades had done an effective job of me answering real questions with platitudees in my head. Like "I will figure it out. I am imperfect. This has to be the truth, we are the only ones who preach..." etc. Little did I know that how Gilead would teach the bible and how Bethel was would open my eyes to what this cult is all about.
In other posts, I have described the cirriculum of Gilead, so I won't detail that here. I read another Gilead grad from 1980 say that she was disappointed, thinking that Gilead would help us really know our bible's better, the original languages, etc, so that we could effectively defend our faith. No such education was available. I feel the same way. I thought that for sure, I would have my answers and doubts treated, that I would leave with more faith in the bible then ever, and that I would be able to use it to help others. It was horribly disappointing to learn that Gilead was nothing more then an indoctrination course designed to get the students to believe that the entire bible prophetically points to the past presidents and current Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Thats it. If someone asked what I learned today, it would be about the "exciting" (*yawn*) types and antitypes. 'Today, I learned that Elijah prophetically points to Rutherford, and Elisha to Knorr. I had no idea!' That kind of learning. All the freaking time.
But what really stood out to me at Gilead was being part of the Bethel family for 6 months. What an absolute weird place Bethel is. At Patterson, the cafeteria can hold well over 1000 people, and morning worship was tied the first 3 days of every week to Brooklyn Bethel, where a GB member or a member of the US Branch committee would take the lead. Every morning, Bethel has 4 commenters assigned for the daily text. Each Gilead student gets one turn at this. I had mine. I now regret not saying what I felt that day. "Does anyone here realize how ridiculous it is that you get up so early to eat breakfast, be scrutinized by a table head, and listen to more indoctrinatioin designed to kill your individuality?" Instead, my comment revolved around WT nonsense. It wasn't profound, and I am sure half of everyone who heard it was waiting for morning worship to be over so they could get a 2nd cup of coffee.
Like a bethelite, all Gilead students were reported on by the table head (an elder assigned to shepherd the other 8-9 people at his table) Are they awake? Happy? Nodding their heads? I put up a good front, after all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day....
Orientation was interesting. Bethel orientation includes watching all of the videos and what to wear, what is or isn't allowed at Bethel, etc. You are told that insisting on your personal rights could offend others. (even if their being offended is actually infringing on your rights, causing you offense. No one ever asks these questions)
Mon-Fri our routine was this: Get up at 5:30 and do a final cram for the 2-3 tests that day. Get dressed in a business suit for breakfast and morning worship at 7:00. After all that is done, walk to your first class at 8:00 AM. After two 1 1/2 hour classes in the morning. Lunchtime from 12-1:00. Class starts again at 1:00, 2 more classes take you to 3:00, where you go off for your final 2 hours of working as a Bethelite. I got to be in cleaning and the paint shop. Sometimes, you were scheduled in for extra study time instead of working. Other times, study would be scheduled instead of the lecture for that day.
When 5:00 comes around, down to the cafeteria you go if you want. You can either "glean" (Bethelese for taking tupperware containers and stuffing them full of food) or you can eat at the tables. Most Bethelites glean and eat in their rooms. We were too busy, most of the time, we ate in the cafeteria before studying.
Studying on a meeting night was hell. Some couples had to drive an hour one way, we had a half hour drive. We did the precursory underlining while at the same time, trying to prepare for tomorrow's tests. Other times, we read up, printed our own little cheat sheets with the answers to the questions, and do our best for hours at a time to memorize them. We were told that our class scored unusually high, in the 90% range. You only needed a score of 70% or higher to get a diploma.
For 5 months, this was the routine.
Does anyone want to know about the class picture? Not a lot to it. The photographers have a system where height determines where you are placed. They mix and match everyone about 5 times. It takes 2 hours or so. Beyond that, nothing to report, at least from class 119.
One of these days I will talk about graduation week. If you want to see class 119 graduate, check out the latest borganization video, it was filmed.
Like I said, these were just misc ramblings. I hope other Gilead grads can share their memories and impressions if they would like ;)
Sounds like a real waste of life Jeff. I am so glad I didn't take that route. The one good thing my mother ever did was dissuade us from pioneering until we had a skill / qualification under our belts, by then I had a mortgage, car loan and "worldly career", so full time service was impossible. Lucky Escape!
Thanks for sharing Jeff. I am thankful that you are a
part of our community and I hope that any borderline,
sitting on the fence Witnesses, read your posts and
learn before it is to late. A life is a terrible thing to waste.
yes I will write them down, in time....very entertaining to read indeed.
I have learned that personal experiences make the biggest difference on boards like this. Since I left, I haven't even tried to sit down and organize my thoughts on my life. I enjoy sharing, but it really is painful to look back sometimes. That doesn't mean I don't like to talk about it, its just, where do I start? I have been through so much, and it is difficult even now to put everything in context.
Context, the one damn thing that has been lacking in my life more then all else.
Gilead represents so much to me, the attainment of a goal, the awakening I had that I was in a cult, the ability to see what really goes on inside the headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses, the ability to see the Governing Body for what they really are (Oz). It was a lot for me. Not a lot of it pretty.
I know lurkers read stuff like this, and if they aren't ready to be honest with themselves, they say "Yeah, just another disgruntled JW." I hope they wake up. Before you know it, you can easily be sucked into the spiritual paradise riptide, and then you're next!
You write extremely well and most lurkers should be impressed -- hopefully, rattled in thinking for themselves. It's been 33 years since I outed myself but still remember the aspirations I could only fantasize about since I had wife and 4 kids -- Bethel, Gilead -- the epitomes of Borg success.
I always enjoy your storys..
The JW`s exist for the WBT$,not the reverse..
I find that amusing..
I would never have lasted in Bethel..
I have no problem calling BullShit..
They would have tossed my ass in a heartbeat..
I really appreciate the personal experiences. They were the first I dared to read on apostate websites. I know now that kind of life just wouldn't be for me, especially since single sisters can longer be missionaries. But, anyway, it good to see what really goes on at Bethel and Gilead. The only Bethelite I was romantically interested was soon asked to leave Bethel. He said he felt like a number there. He just couldn't handle all the rules.
Hi Jeff, I just wanted to let you know how important I think your posts detailing your experiences are to me. Such an eyeopener!!
the very thought of a routine like that paralyzes me with fear, and why the obsession with attire, why for once cant you pop into the canteen in sneakers and a trakkie suit? your frequent detailing on life there Jeff sure works as a warning of any one stupid enough to select a life there.