I want to make a few replies.
I am so sorry for your loss. I know the pain, the void that cannot be filled when your best friend kills himself. It has been twenty-five years since I lost Tom and I still grieve. Thankfully, I have been able to move on with my life thanks to the love I received from others. Nobody can take Tom's place, but the friends I have met and loved since he died have made me realize all the more how precious and wonderful life is. I have met some great people on this board and they have helped me in ways they can't imagine.
The visit turned out about as well as I had any reason to expect, given the circumstances. I think Mark was glad to relive old times: our "buddy trips" through Colorado's glorious mountains; camping trips; hopes and joys we had shared down through the years; and things like that. He hasn't done anything like that since our separation, he told me. It was quite clear that he wanted to do those things with me again.
I want to thank you, my friend, for your advice in this matter. You helped me to realize how important it was for my continued growth and advancement that I seek out Mark and determine the status of our relationship. You are right to say that I have not yet attained closure. However, I feel my visit made a deep impression on him. Since he is now disfellowshipped himself, he is being shunned by the congregation despite attending the meetings faithfully. I hope he realized that my visiting him last Sunday was an expression of my unconditional love for him and his mother as well, and that my offer of assistance was sincere. That's more than he'll get from the congregation, even if he is reinstated.
I also think that by exposing the WTS record on not just Bible prophecy but also its wrong-headed interpretation of the Bible, it will make Mark think long and hard about why he is putting faith in this counterfeit. The expressions on his face were very interesting. I could see that he was shocked when I asked him to show me anywhere in the Bible where the number 2,520 could be found. How could the parable of the Prodigal Son be reconciled with the WTS star chamber proceedings? If the WTS still believed that Christ had returned in 1874, why would Jesus appoint them his "faithful and discreet slave" seeing they were completely wrong on that point as the Society itself admits? Those are questions he will find difficult to dismiss as the ravings of some wild-eyed "apostate".
Thanks for your support in this. I hope my experience can be of some use to you in the future.
I like what you said about how my visit demonstrated to both Mark and his mother that just because someone disagrees with the WTS doesn't mean they are the embodiment of evil. I think they were surprised by the calm way I made my points. The only arguments they could muster was the reason I had turned my back on the Society was because I had been abused by my judicial committee. They admitted I had every right to be angry about my treatment at their hands, but that shouldn't make me bitter against the organization. They didn't want to answer my question about how these proceedings differed widely from congregation to congregation. "If this is a 'spirit-directed' organization, why is there such inconsistency in so grave and serious a matter as a judicial committee procedure?" I asked. The only answer they could give was that the elders are "imperfect men".
I think you are right that the main reason Mark is seeking reinstatement is for his mother's sake. Verna has been a Witness since 1943 and has seen her eldest son disfellowshipped. Losing Mark would absolutely break her heart. Mark knows this also. So I believe that is the real reason for seeking reinstatement. Yes, he did mention how he believes we are definitely living in the "last days". But what I thought very curious was he never talked about love for God and Christ as a reason for wanting to be reinstated. It is clear that fear, fear of hurting his mother and fear of death at Armageddon, is the chief motivator for him.
As I said above, I also think my visit stood in stark contrast to his treatment in the congregation. I know his congregation. It was the first one I associated with when I came to Boulder thirty years ago. So I know he is being shunned and receiving little if any encouragement. He has to be thinking about my unconditional offer of love and affection as opposed to the congregation's neglect. Thanks for the suggestion to find some scriptures that talk about how we should reach out to the blind and misguided for Mark and his mother definitely are. I'll see what I can find and get back to you.
I am also sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind words about my writing ability, such as it is. You're right to say we win some, lose some. The outcome of this situation lies in Mark's hands. The key for me will be patience. As ziddina said, his mother will have a big influence on him. As long as she is alive, I don't think Mark will fully reestablish ties with me. The WTS has made it plain how the disfellowshipped should be viewed and treated, and Mark doesn't want to rock the boat. For me, it is enough that we have at least reestablished contact and Mark knows how to reach me.
You're absolutely right, my friend, to marvel at how tightly the WTS controls its members despite its many demonstrable and abject failures. I can only hope that not only Mark, but the other friends and family I have who are still trapped in this disgusting cult will "see the light" and make good their escape. When and if they do, I hope to be on hand to help them in the healing process.