If I may, I would like to offer another glimpse into the strange minds of the writers of the more recent Watchtower study editions, this time on the topic of sport.
No doubt like many of you, I enjoy playing sport because (apart from anything else) regular exercise stops me from becoming fat and unhealthy. During my time as an active witness, I often had the opportunity to play sports with other brothers, although I became increasingly frustrated that this was not (in my case) organised on a more regular basis by those in my congregation; rather, games of my particular sport were organised less and less frequently until they became virtually non-existant.
Things have improved considerably since I became inactive and was improperly shunned by those 'brothers' I used to play sport with, because I have begun playing my particular sport with so-called "worldly" people in my local community. Apart from allowing me to get back into some semblance of shape (thereby keeping Mrs Cedars happy) I am also able to keep in touch with my neighbours and be more sociable with those who live near me. Everybody, it would seem, is a winner. Imagine my bemusement when I found an article in a recent Watchtower, the October 15th issue (page 3 onwards), condemning this very practice by virtue of an experience from some girl called Arielle:
"Arielle enjoyed watching women's handball on television. When her school organized a team, the prospect of playing dulled her alertness to potential dangers to her spirituality. She signed up to be a goalkeeper. What followed?"
I don't know, did she get pregnant by a handball? Did she inadvertently join an organized crime syndicate masquerading as a handball team? Was she forced to kill people using a handball? Did she get a nasty handball injury requiring surgery which raised problems with the blood issue? Go on, I am dying to know what mortal peril this poor girl got involved in by joining the school handball team...
"She explains: "Some of my teammates had boyfriends who used drugs and smoked. They made fun of me for being different, but I thought I could handle that."
Aw, you poor poor girl! Quick!... Get out of that team while you still have your life! There was I naively thinking your inevitable problems would involve death, unwanted pregnancy or organized crime, but you say some of your friends smoked cigarettes?! Oh, the horror. Get this girl to a shrink for counselling incase she ends up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders...
"Unexpectedly, the game itself began to corrode my spirituality. Handball filled my mind and heart.
I think we've all had that problem at some point in our lives...
"During Christian meetings, my thoughts often wandered from the Kingdom Hall to the handball court."
I know, intense boredom can be a killer...
"My Christian personality also suffered. Love of playing shifted to a passion for winning. I practiced hard to satisfy my new competitive spirit. Stress built up. I even sacrificed friendships for handball."
I saw the exact same thing happen in Castaway with a volleyball....
"The climax came when our opponents were awarded a penalty shot in one game. I was poised to defend the goal. Before I realised it, I had prayed to Jehovah to help me block the shot! This incident made me realize how much my spirituality had suffered."
You NAUGHTY NAUGHTY girl, imagine praying for inappropriate things! That would be like, I dunno, the faithful and discreet slave asking us to pray for them to be faithful and discreet! Needless to say, the poor girl ended up watching a Society DVD entitled something like "Young People Ask: How can I become more unpopular and make my life needlessly complicated?" and this sealed her decision to quit the demonic handball team.
I wish this was the only evidence of blatant absurdity in the way the Society asks us to view sports and recreation in this particular Watchtower, but it isn't. Fast forward to the article "Is Your Recreation Beneficial?" in the same magazine on pages 8 to 12. The article in itself is a dummies guide to what is and isn't beneficial recreation, even featuring large tick boxes (as though people's ideas about recreation merit a tick or a cross, like some kind of theocratic shopping list). Needless to say, having been written by the Society, it has some pretty absurd ideas.
Obviously I wasn't going to go through everything in my analysis. I was more interested in what it had to say about sports (my hobby of choice). Here is what it said:
"What, though, if you are attracted to certain sports because of their aggressive competitiveness, excessive risk taking, high rates of injury, riotous celebrations, nationalistic fervor, or similar "ingredients"? After examining what is involved, you would likely decide that it would be hard to harmonize your thinking with Jehovah's way of thinking and with the message of peace and love that we preach to others."
So let me get this straight. I'm not allowed to enjoy a sport if:
- It's competitive
- Has an element of risk
- Has the possibility of injury
- Can be celebrated
- Other people like it, to the extent that it is played at international level, provoking "nationalistic fervor" by fans
I'm sorry, but doesn't the above criteria encompass ALL SPORTS IMAGINEABLE?! And I should add that my sport in particular IS enjoyed by people in more than one country (unlike baseball!), so therefore it is competed at international level, thereby prompting fans from different countries to cheer their respective teams; thereby 'encouraging' people to indulge in idolatrous "nationalistic fervor". It's a good thing that nationalistic fervour wasn't under ban in 1929, or the Cedar Point Ohio convention would never have gotten past the planning stage!
So, now that I am seemingly deprived of my satanically-influenced sport, what does the Society advise me to adopt as my new form of recreation? I need look no further than page 10 which clearly demonstrates how Jesus and his disciples liked nothing more than to gather around the fire, clap their hands, and sing along to someone playing the flute.
Obviously I now need a new form of beneficial recreation, and I promise you I am worthy of your association because I have NOT joined any handball teams (nor do I intend to).
Does anybody on here know how to play the flute?