Some even have respected positions in the organization that makes them like little gods.I believe this to be the case in many congregations. And the organization continually uses the "privileges" card time and time again to get brothers to submit without questioning. And like you said, once brothers start to taste a better life outside the WTSB mentality such as having a nice home, good career, good things, there's no need to fulfill the power role in their minds, although I will admit that even then some brothers need to find a way to fulfill that power trip over people. It's all psychological and the WTSB plays it beautifully. They can string along brothers especially the newly converted that don't know the historical failures. I'm glad the WTSB was stupid enough to put most of their literature all on one program for those that seek to find the truth. That coupled with the internet will be the decaying factor.
The Secret is out....but nobody cares
I have a friend who is exactly as described in the OP. He thinks most of it is crap, but is "hedging his bets." I don't think the whole thing is bad, but I don't think I could ever assimilate back in now that I've been out for the last 7 years. It would make my life easier on many levels, but I just can't.
A belated welcome to Mr T.......
The strange thing that I witness (pun) in the congo - I attend passively for Sis Blues' sake - is that certainly the long term dubs are very aware of the shortcomings of "The Society" but they believe it just the same .
You should hear my family grumbling about the flashy high tech JW.Borg culture, mean spirited elders, a G B that is out of touch, etc etc. As for failed prophecy,that is a big joke !
They guffaw about their past expectations and how old they are now...."It was not supposed to be this way" , I hear - and yet they still passionately believe that they have "The Truth" from a spirit directed organization.
Orwell coined the word "doublethink" saying "“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” ie
"The Society cannot be blamed for telling us false beliefs in the past, They are just fallible men after all" .......at the same time as contending that
"We must accept the teachings of the F & D Slave , after all they are led by Jehovah God & directed by Holy Spirit"
I'm still not convinced about this. This is from the OP:
Many on this forum believe that many of the wittnesses are blindly following after what the watchtower tells them. But I don't see it quite that way. From what I see and hear many feel that the G.B. have no clue of when the end is coming and they do not think these men are Gods
Here's what I see in my entire circuit. Almost all are true believers. Yeah, there are plenty of half-hearted slackers, but there always have been. There are plenty who don't follow all the rules, go to all the meetings, etc., but they're still believers. The fact that they're not gung ho doesn't mean they don't believe it.. Almost all (if not all) the elders are full believers. Almost all (if not all) the ministerial servants are. Almost all (if not all) the pioneers are. Almost all the baptized JWs are full believers. They might not understand it all or even agree with it all, but they believe the GB is what it claims to be and that JWs are what they claim to be.
Could it be that some of you are talking to or observing only a small sample and extrapolaitng your feelings to the bigger picture. I keep reading things "I talked to my friend and he..." What about everbody else in the congregation? A lot of the young people have been half-hearted or zero-hearted the entire time I've been around JWdom, so that's not new.
What about all those who seem to be nuts over JWdotORG and all the other stuff associated with the rebranding? What about all the JWs in the videos associated with the international conventions this past summer - all those involved in the prep, the entertainment, etc.? They all seem like true believers. What about all those who got almost orgasmic over the annual meeting during which the revised NWT was released?
Somebody mentioned something to the effect that that the rebranding indicates that the org recognized that a lot of JWs aren't true believers. I'm not sure about that. I think the rebranding resulted from the fact that growth had stagnated and that information on the internet was doing damage.
I'm not disagreeing with anybody; I don't know the answer and am just really interested in this topic, and I want to be as sure as we can be about it. Can somebody convince me?
From the OP: "many feel that the G.B. have no clue of when the end is coming and they do not think these men are Gods." How many is "many"? What percentage would you estimate? (That question is for all.)
What percentage would you estimate are true believers? By "true believer", I mean one who believes that JWs are what they claim to be and the GB is what it claims to be. They might have a few doubts and issues, but they basically believe the foregoing. So how many? What are your estimates?
edited to add: I'm getting the feeling from this thread that a lot of you feel that the great majority of JWs are no longer true believers (from the OP: "nobody cares" [italics mine]). Is that the way some of you feel? Again, I'm not challenging; I just want to know. If that's the way it is, then it would be profound to me. I'm already curious to see where JWdom is going to be in the next five years, but even more so if the situation is as some of you think it is.
I agree with the OP.
This really comes down to a cost/benefits analysis. There is certain cost associated with staying in. While I agree that in more conservative, less educated, and poorer areas, "true" believers are more common, most in more liberal areas "believe" as long as the cost is not too great. That was me for several of the last years I was in, and probably true of many of us here.
The cost generally becomes too great when a personal situation arises, (whatever it may be), that allows one to realize that staying in is more expensive, (usually in terms of personal freedoms), than leaving.This is more common amongst the more liberal areas, since these generally have greater opportunities presented to JWs outside of the organization.
In most congregations I was associated with in the northeastern US, many JWs have college educations, careers, families with children, homes, etc. This is not the case everywhere. I also went to college in the Midwest, and saw a very different lifestyle amongst the JWs there, and that was 20+ years ago. The liberal folks, (and I was one of them), tend to remain JW, (in many ways a hedging of a bet), as long as it makes sense to. I think the GB know this, and hence, a big push against higher ed recently. People don't leave because they go to university, they tend to leave later in life as the opportunities presented allow a person to see they can have a good life post-JW. As soon as something happens, (a divorce, some injustice in the congregation, etc.), a person with such a life can easily come to the conclusion that putting more time and effort in the JW life is throwing good time and effort after bad. This is a much more difficult conclusion to come to when one's options are limited.
You are asking thought provoking questions Magnum.
It would be nice to extrapolate some hard data using the wide regional location of posters here.
I am in the South but near a big city with lots of educational opportunities. The further in to the rural areas you go the more "devout" the JWs seem. Some are still not happy about the new Gray Bibles even. Change comes slow in every way. In the city, everyone is racing constantly. People show up for meetings right before or after it starts. The clothing is edgy and stylish. The cars are expensive and dont reflect a "field service" mentality. The elders in one local Hall were arguing over who HAD to be the COBE next LOL. I got that from the wife of the one who ended up drawing the short straw. He was glad that at least he was able to dump the School on some other brother once he made COBE because he got sick of no one showing up for their parts or calling ahead.
Speaking of the Theocratic School, in my local Hall we had 3 schools now down to one and most are substitute talks (this within 2 yrs time). The wife of one of the elders was telling me last week that a couple of elders were joking about how half the Hall is on Prozac and the rest are depressed. Meeting attendance has dropped to a high of around 70% on Sundays and it has been of some concern - that is until the recent C.O. visit when he told the cong. they had the best meeting attendance in the Circuit.
This is me trying to put things in to a more concrete form instead of just vaguely saying "there seems to be something in the air".
Maybe others have more local things to offer also.
Most JW's know the GB has no idea when the end is coming, and let's be honest the GB keep saying they don't know when the end is coming and they're just going to go on doing what they do until the end comes. I've heard that a dozen times. It irks me when I hear the GB say: we don't know when the end is coming. And then a brother gives a prayer saying: we're in the last seconds of the end. Ah, I've been hearing that for 40 years now. Perhaps you might not want to say that in your prayer even if you're right.
And there are a lot more thinking people than most care to believe. I think Generation X and the Millennial generation witnesses are a lot more pragmatic than all the old timers who hang on every word of the GB or anyone from Bethel. Generation X and Millennial Gen witness think the GB is out of touch. Most do anyway.
I think you are painting the JW world with a very broad brush, one that is colored by the fact that you are beginning to wake up yourself and starting to recognize the real truth, or what we call "The Truth about The Truth". I am hopeful for you, but as with most people who are waking up, you still have a bit of sleep in your eye.
The thing is, one doesn't have to be a so-called "zealot" or a "blind follower" to be "in" the religion. If you perform field service, give talks and otherwise perpetuate the falsities of the so-called Truth, then you are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
There have always been the weak and the outliers, then skeptical and the cynics. Still, if those same people attend Witness meetings regularly, pray to Jehovah's publicly, go in field service on weekends, donate money to the organization, avoid holidays, and identify themselves as a Jehovah's Witness to strangers they meet, and push all this stuff on their children and others, then they are very much "in". My parents were "weak" and "skeptical", but that didn't stop them from force feeding me enough of this religion to ruin the early years of my life.
The only exception to this could be those who are attempting to fade so as to not have their lives completely implode on them during their fade. But believe me, those people will do as little of the above things as possible and are wishing for a time and looking for a way to not have to do any of it.
And don't be misled, EVERYONE who is "in" gets hurt by this religion. Period. Yes, some get hurt more than others, but in the end, being a Jehovah's Witness at any level is a lose / lose proposition.
Even for you.
Many in this religion are "passenger" followers. What is a passenger follower?
*You attend the meetings of a high control religious group because not attending would make too many waves.
* You use part of your spare time trying get others to join, even though you don't believe it yourself, just so you can tick the "works" box
*You refuse to learn more about how many lives have been ruined as a result of the policies of the group because hey "most are nice people who just want to serve God"
*You dare not openly question the authority of the group and if anyone asks - you say "it's all good"
I was a passenger follower towards the end, just before I fully woke up and got out of the damn car.
Welcome Mr T!
I was an elder when I started posting here. And I was a miserably unhappy ex-bethelite that had been trying to stifle my doubts and hang on until armageddon. There were very few JWs that had ever expressed the slightest doubts to me. It wasn't until I came here and started reading that I discovered that I wasn't alone. The "apostates" that WT had been condemning and trying to keep the sheeple away from really had the truth about the truth.
Looking back, I'm sure there were lots of JWs that I knew that had doubts that they dare not speak. I'm glad I'm not one of them that is still going through the motions and doing all the JW stuff in order to have "friends" or as "insurance" in case WT is right about the "panda petting paradise." But the longer I was in bethel, the less appealing a "WT paradise" sounded.