Is Crisis of Conscience a good book for a worldy person to understand JWs?
My initial answer would be that a person without any Dub or other cult mind control experience would find it extremely tedious and boring.
If I was to recommend a book for a worldly person to understand how the Borg works it would be Steve Hassan's "Combatting Cult Mind Control" because I believe the authoritative conformity methods used by the cult is the really dangerous thing and the knowledge has value because it can be generalized to all the other dangerous cults out there, too. The doctrinal issues and the inner workings of the Borg are interesting to us Dubs and former Dubs but to a worldly person, I think something they can use would be more beneficial.
Also, CCMC is a much easier and shorter read than CoC.
I don't think you can really really get it unless you have lived it. I try to explain things to "worldly" friends and they just don't get all the rules and why I did it for so long. That's why this site is so popular. NMKA
My wife was not a Dub, but came from a 7th Day Adventist background. She totally related to COC, but I would agree that most who are not familiar with the "high control" lifestyle would not connect to it...
Ray's book primarily focuses on the validity of the Watchtowers claim as god's exclusive channel of communication. It does not introduce an individual to the movement in a systematic way. Jim Penton's Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses may be a better choice.
I have just started reading Andrew Holden's book Jehovah's Witnesses: A Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. In my opinion, this is the best book out there right now that captures the social environment that has developed within the organization over the past two decades or so. He is a sociologist that interviewed both active and former members, attended meetings, and much more. The only problem is that the book is an academic treatise, and is probably not as accessible as some may like.
A fantastic collection of academic articles on millennialism is War in Heaven/Heaven on Earth: Theories of the Apocalyptic, edited by Stephen O'Leary. O'Leary is one of the best scholars out there researching apocalyptic rhetoric (his other books are worth checking out as well. I really like this book because of the variety of apocalyptic movements covered. Jehovah's Witnesses, however, are not mentioned in this book (but are there in spirit i suppose :P). Like Holden's book, this may be a bit tougher reading because it is written for a scholarly audience.
If a non-JW only read Crisis of Conscience, they would clearly see how insane this religion is. What they would fail to understand is how anybody could ever get involved in this. They might even conclude that a person would have to mentally unstable to join this religion.
I agree that Combatting Cult Mind Control would be a much better first read for a non-JW. It explains "HOW" a person can be drawn in by a cult that teaches things that have no basis in reality.
All things considered though, it would probably be quite boring for the average person. Even after reading about mind control, they still wouldn't be able to grasp just how real it is. And how a person is willing to give their life for a complete fantasy.
On the other hand, I would venture to think that for myself, having been in the WT cult, perhaps I could understand much better how a mormon feels - even though our beliefs are different - it would seem that ex-JW's could relate in a big way what it's like to be a mormon.
Please give your comments on the above observation in green.
I would recommend it for a worldly person who is beginning to study the Washtowel, and is being shown the structure of the organization. At this point, the book would blow open any illusions that the witlesses are trying to create.
I like wikipedia for explaining JW beliefs because it lists doctrinal changes and the brief history. Then you can also check out crazy things like Beth Sarim and Russell's pyramid if you feel like it. It's not "apostate" so I found it helpful to start my research there.
If you want to explain how cultlike it is, I enjoyed Combatting Cult Mind Control as well.
If the wordly person is Christian, maybe www.carm.org will help show them how the JWs twist the Scriptures and use the Watchtower to teach stuff according to their own doctrine.
I think you almost have to have been a JW to appreciate COC.
I would second "Apocolypse Delayed" for a non-witness.