I can't imagine a worse hellhole on earth. Why anyone would voluntarily submit to this was beyond me even when I was in it.
"How Awful This Place Can Be!" Life at Bethel by Keith Casarona
What's funny is that every brother I know that has gone to bethel and finished their tour of duty said it's not what its all cracked up to be. Some of them outright have said it's the worse place on earth.
Great story here.
What a writer! I havent laughed like this for a long while. Truly funny humor and perspective!
Two thumbs up for Keith!
What is he up to these days Dogpatch?
I fully intended to go to Bethel (life's dream). Went there for the tour in '74. I could sense some of the things you talk about even though the tour guides tried to make it look all shiny and bright. I remember the faces on the people strapped to some of the machines you mention. I could tell I would hate it (those poor bastards were trapped as far as I could tell). Being a small town boy I was very enamored with NYC itself. I quickly learned that Watchtower wages (what was it....$13/mo then?) wouldn't allow for much night life. I'm sure glad I went to kick the tires first. It's really close to being shanghaied if you just sign up without going to see the reality first.
I did a two week stint in Bethel to try it out before I signed up for full time. GLAD I did! I came home not wanting to ever do that again.
Thank you Randy for posting this. It certainly presents a surprising ( tho' I should not be surprised) view of what really goes on behind the scenes at bethel. How Keith could stand it and remain there under those circumstances I don't know. I would have left right away. I have seen much of the politics, favoritism, fighting, and lying among elders and the CO in several congs. I can see it happening at bethel although I am sad that it does at the house of god. What a revealing account. I decided in 1978 after attending the Bethel meeting at the victorious faith international convention that serving at bethel was not for me. I certainly made the right decision.
But I do know a brother who has been at Bethel for 34 years and his wife has been there for 20- they seem to be satisfied serving there so it does work out well for some witnesses.
OK I'll try and answer y'all.
to Brokenpromises: OMG it took me way longer just to make it readible, he is like the guy in Apocalypse Now that was the colonels' (Marlon Brando) speaker, you know the rambling hippie? Forget his name? Dennis Hopper? Just go read the final episodes on this series of articles as linked from the very bottom of this article, and you will see the originals. I almost regretted reformatting it, and about 11 PM at night I just said, "What the hell, catch the big stuff and let the rest go." It's hard for me because although I hated them both, I always got As in math and spelling. I had to be a perfectionist. Beat the two cute broads in 6th grade who wanted to take me down in a school final spelling match. I beat their cute butts good. (One was a JW, her name was Gina with some Italian last name; her dad was a bigwig JW in Orange County. Our school was Cerro Villa in Orange, Ca.) Even managed to get a badge to show that I was the winner in a contest to see how midjunior high school kids would do on a SAT. Beat the whole school, but not after contemplating suicide that that was absolutely the hardest test in the world, and how can they expect people to even get an "80" on it?
Now I had no idea what an SAT test was. That was something known to higher grades, not me. So I didn't realize it was designed to squeeze you down into an insignificant nothing; but it was good for really determining the intelligence (according to your generation). But the ones who did really well on the test were not the most intelligent in the way we think of, but they were clever and understood the animal nature within all us, and were able to read the personality and the mind of the one who WROTE the test, thereby giving you a big advantage because you knew then what answers THEY wanted; not necessarily objective truth. Sort of like cold reading gets you the A. I was that way at Bethel, I could usually tell who wrote certain articles, and "new rules" in the Kingdom Ministry. Shortcuts.
But it's worth it; keeps you on his story without being too distracted thinking you were on acid or something. :-))
more in a minute
I really enjoyed reading your experience at Bethel. I guess I would probably be in the minority when I say that I never had any desire to visit Bethel or let alone serve there. I always had a problem with congregations planning trip tours and being charged for the trip. I have contributed quite a bit of money to the Borg and I was not going to PAY extra for the privilege.
Anewme: I have no idea where he is.
Badcompany: It was really fully as bad as he said, up until Knorr died and they instituted the one-year plan instead of 4 years, and allowed more sisters in. One brother who was assigned to the pressroom was also assigned to my congregation, and he almost never went to meetings for like 3 years. :-))
New York was much more dangerous back then. I only got robbed once going through the projects. They also would throw bottles at us at night. Back then all the hoodlums were like 13 years old because they couldn't prosecute them. They pulled a gun on me. I gave them the $10 in my wallet and my watch, didn't get hurt. In fact, one young member of the group ran back and said he was sorry, he went to church, too! LOL that took the cake.
I caught a yound Puerto Rican kid breaking in the building 4 on the 1st floor window one night (It was at the far corner of the factory, next to the Manhattan Bridge, where it was dark and kinda scary to look anyways. We were allowed no weapons, so I had to fly down the stairs (one of our contests at Bethel factory was to see how few times you touch the ground flying down the stairs). It worked and he fleed out an emergency door.
My congregation territory had once been all Jewish - had Mezuzah's on all the doors or sillls still. Exccept it was now 95% Black and 5% Puerto Rican.
It was too expensive because it was all homes and a few apartments, so many people vacated and literally half the property was torn up or burned down. Looked like a war zone.
To have fun, the young hoods used to tie piano wire across the door openings, cut holes in the floor and carefully put the carpets precariously in place, and tie gasoline bombs from the ceiling of the abandoned houses. Then they would light them on fire and call the fire departtment from a phone booth to report it. Reall cool kids.
The two crazes (like our freeway shootings in Calif.) that were relatively short-lived were taking a young girl up to the top floor of the projects, raping her by a gang and then throwing her over the edge to die. Another was pushing people in front of the subway trains.
East New York (part of Brooklyn) at the end of the #2 New Lots train put you in my territory. It had the highest murder rate in New York City. Fun.
When I moved to Cali they cleaned up most of Manhattan (Guiliani?) and the crime went down in Brooklyn, but it followed me here where I am 5 miles from Compton! (One of my roommates is a Public Defender for homicide cases in the Compton area - what stories you can't imagine.)
Just in response to Randy: I totally understand what you're saying. I'm a perfectionist too in regards to these things, so that's probably why I picked up the extra grammatical mistakes.
And I get what you're saying about the tests. I quickly learnt in high school that it wasn't original thought that got you the marks, but giving the teachers the answers they were looking for. Didn't matter if you thought they were correct or not. Just tell them what they wanted to hear. Good training for being a witness, I guess!