My grandmother has been a little ill, and had to be put in a facility temporarily. She should be getting out sometime next week. I'm not particularly close with her, and that probably has a lot to do with my father. His relationship with her is tumultuous as she is his mother in law, and we all know the ilk that comes with marriage and in-laws. As a child, I never viewed my grandmother the way other children viewed their grandmothers. Even as I'm typing this, I don't have to make it a point to call her my grandmother, as opposed to my grandma. The affection just isn't there, at least in my heart anyway. She's more of a distant relative to me than anything. As I've come into my own as a man, I can see the flaws in both my father and grandmother, so I try to have an unbiased view toward the latter.
Anyways, I went to see her last night after work. Very nice facility, very pleasant. On my way down the hallway towards her room, I was admiring the carpet, paintings, wallpaper, etc.. When I got to her room, she had the curtain pulled around, so she wasn't visible. However, I heard singing as if coming from a radio. Then I realized that it wasn't a radio, but it was the opening song for the Service Meeting. So I pulled the blinds back slightly and poked my head around them and looked at her like Jack Nicholas in The Shining. Her eyes were closed and she was rocking back and forth listening to the song. She caught notice of me, and smiled with the biggest grin. I walked over and hugged her and gave a kiss on the cheek. I could smell her most recent poop as the nurse's aid hadn't removed the bucket from the portable toilet. She pointed to the phone which was on speaker sound, placed upon on her food tray, and whispered, "I'm listening to the meeting." So I whispered back, "I'll hang out with you and listen too." So I walked around the bed, and sat in a rocking chair in the corner across from her.
You can never fully grasp just how unusual this religion is until you disengage and view yourself as an outside observer, even if only momentarily. My meeting was earlier in the week, so I already knew certain letters were going to be read. I was familiar with the final part of the meeting for this week, but the second part is a "local needs" part. So I was interested and curious about both their local needs, and listening to how this neighboring congregation's brothers handle their parts. The COBOE(PO) read the letters from the branch regarding the Bible School for Christian Couples, and a seperate school for single brothers. I can't remember the exact words of the letter, but there was some real gems within it that I can recall. Such as this being an arrangment provided by the GB, and it being obvious that Jehovah is blessing this organization. I looked over at my grandmother and she had her hands clasped together and her eyes closed, while nodding her head several times in approval. I said to myself, "This nigga's crazy." She looked at me smiling and full of joy, and whispered, "that is really something isn't it?" I replied with I'm sure a crazy grin on my face, "Yes it is." All the while I'm thinking to myself, "I've got to get away from these people. They're all nuts." At that point the nurse's aid finally removed the bucket of poop. The RN came in to administer my grandmother's medications. The old woman protested, and pointed to the phone and said to the nurse, "I'm listening to something important." I'm thinking to myself, "if you say so. Nurse don't fall for this blatant attempt at informal witnessing." The nurse wasn't having it. She gave her all the pills, and gave her a couple nasal sprays for allergies, and went on her way. I was so proud of her!
At the end of the letter, a question is posed as to whom is qualified to attend these schools. There's an age limit of I want to say 50 years of age? An applicant must be in good health, and have had pioneered for the past two years. I thought to myself, I wonder if 1st Century Christians had these provisions and arrangements too? I wonder if Paul would have been turned down from this school because of a thorn bothering him? I wonder if Timothy was averaging 70 hours a month in the ministry for at least two years? The last qualification mentioned was that a person must have the spirit Isaiah displayed in chapter 6 of his prophecy, "Here I am, send me!" The sanctimonious tone of that letter was really off-putting. Considering the WT's reaffirmation that they view attending college as dispicable, made the letter being read all that more treacherous to me. It made me want to spit and cuss.
Their local needs part, I'm not gonna give too many specifics for anonymity concerns. However, some of it touched upon having respect for the Kingdom Hall. The brother casually dissed churches that have bingo, dinner parties, movie nights, concerts, etc.. I'm thinking to myself there's nothing wrong with any of those activities at church. The purpose of a church building was to be a meeting point for Christians, with the purpose of worship, discussion of necessary matters, along with encouraging and supporting one another. I know the GB doesn't want to believe what I'm about to type, but discussing the literature from a publishing company and guilt tripping their publishers to attend these affairs isn't exactly encouraging to many of us. Just because they paraphrase Heb 10:24, 25, doesn't mean its being applied at the meetings. There's so much more I'd love to tell you about this local needs part, but I cannot. Lets just say, that particular Elder body does not have that much faith or a positive view of their flock. At least thats what I gathered from that part. To be fair, I'm not in their congregation, so I don't know what's going on over there.
The final part was on showing respect towards people we meet in the ministry which I respected because there's enough JWs lacking humility when in field service. What I noticed about the brother handling that part, and the brother prior to him doing the local needs was that both were not the greatest of speakers. Listening to them ramble and stutter through the speaker phone, really highlighted in my mind that these guys get off on this stuff. I know both of them personally, and I wouldn't label them as arrogant per say, but definately prideful and not in the positive sense of the word. The COBOE is Circuit Star and he enjoys the adulation he recieves at assemblies. He may have had an off night, because I've heard better from him. Hearing them speak and hearing the letter being read made me think of previous threads on here where some of you cynically laugh about this religion giving janitors an ego boost. I think I see your point now LOL. The other thing that was noticeable was how creepy it sounded over the speaker phone. It reminded me of Orson Welles when he did War of the Worlds over the radio, or Art Bell the radio personality who discussed UFOs, cults, and paranormal activity during hours when most people are sleep. I used to work a night shift, and I would listen to him at 3 in the morning, and it was not only crazy talk, but creepy in the sense that you're surprised that there are people out there who believe all sorts of crazy things. Yet, that was the same very impression I got listening to the meeting over the speaker phone! Seeing my grandmother enjoying freaked me out even more.
As the last song started, my grandmother looked at me and said, "I wan't to hear you sing." She was dead serious. I looked back at her and jokingly replied, "you don't want to hear me sing." She closed her eyes with her hands clasped together, and started rocking back and forth to the music. It was cute to me on one hand, but sad on the other. I thought to myself, it would be cruel of me to take this away from her or anybody who genuinely believes they're really in God's chosen organization. The brother who delivered the final part, gave the prayer and my grandmother and I bowed our heads. While he was praying, I thought to myself, "these people are crazy. Sitting here listening to this is crazy." The brother concluded the prayer, and both of us said, "amen."
I know this was long, and I apologize for not typing a condensced version, but I had to share this. I had to get this out of me. Its so crazy, but so fascinating how this religion operates when you're able to stand back for a moment and observe.