I lived on my own for most of my years as a Witness, so banning items was never a problem. However, I own an extensive private library of more than two thousand volumes as well as scores of DVDs. These books and movies were prominently displayed on bookcases and shelves around my apartment. It was always amusing as well as instructive to see the faces of the Witnesses who visited as they gazed upon my collection. Awe, wonder and even fear were the emotions I saw most often. One or two—mostly elders—would venture a mild criticism about the relative scarcity of “theocratic” books and the overwhelming preponderance of “worldly” ones.
I think the books which frightened Witness visitors the most were the ones on geography, history, mathematics and science. I had many novels as well including such hackles-raising titles like The Lord of the Rings and the works of Stephen R. Donaldson and Isaac Asimov. But nobody dared criticize me to my face, preferring to whisper behind my back. But had they cared to voice their concerns, I was prepared to discuss rationally and calmly why I enjoyed reading them. On the other hand, if they didn’t want a respectful conversation, I had my rhetorical knives out and wouldn’t have hesitated to use them. I think many knew that as well.
The facial reactions to my library said all I needed to know about the anti-learning and anti-intellectual culture Jehovah’s Witnesses live in. It is a sad commentary on a religion which professes a reverence for knowledge and learning that its members abhor both.