The Arab Spring and Geography Lessons with Yearbook 2011

by kepler 3 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • kepler

    As an outsider doing research of a sort, my readings of yearbooks has not been extensive. But I studied 1928 and 1934 very carefully - and then picked up the yearbook for 2011 on line. The first two told me a lot of things about the organization's early days, the thinking of its leader, how books, pamphlets and Bibles were produced and distributed - and a lot about a very simple dualistic faith in the near term, terrifying end.

    Then I encountered the 2011 Yearbook which seemed like a collection of anecdotes about mission work in remote parts of the world. As the negative guy I have become, I didn't know what to make of it, at first. But then again...

    A lot of the work to spread the word is done very selectively. But where to start to discuss this?

    One thing about the "missions" discussion throughout. The focus is international. But to the outsider there is an unexpected surprise. To illustrate, for 1934 the distribution (1933) in Great Britain was as follows.

    ACTIVITY IN BRITAIN - Yearbook 1934

    The number of service units is 368, of which an average of 342 have regularly engaged in the service work month by month and reported to this office. There are 5,403 company workers who hold the Society’s permit, and of these, 3,897, on an average, have engaged in the work monthly, representing 72.1 percent; this is an increase of 12.1 percent as compared with last year. The hours reported reach a total of 486,608, a decrease of 37,108; nevertheless, a total of 1,206,617 pieces of literature was placed, consisting of 117,632 bound books and1,085,449 booklets, and including 3,536 Bibles. In placing this literature the brethren gave 4,793,892 testimonies, and 966,163 members of the public took literature from us, which represents an average of 1 book or booklet placed after giving 4.9 testimonies…

    Take a look at the ratio of bound books or booklets to Bibles. The assumption here has to be that people are already reading their own Bibles and they are doing it incorrectly. They need the Society's help or they are doomed. While the argument goes that this dissemination is fulfilling a Biblical direction described in Matthew, Christianity had yet to confront the issue: to whom was the message addressed? Jews who read Scripture or Gentiles who did not? But I digress.

    In countries where the 1934 Yearbook tallies similar but smaller statistics ( China, Japan, Brazil, Syria), it is clear as well that they are dealing with either small ex-patriate Christian communities or the legacy of someone else's proselytizing and converting. For example, 16th century Jesuits. Usually the tribulations reported back via Joseph Rutherford recounting were conflicts with the local resident Christian authorities - in say, Nagasaki. No explanation of how these communities is formed save other than an evil influence of the Catholic church.

    And from time to time I am reminded of their activities. Whether it is from a high school friend who sent crates of his 6th volume of Biology to our former high school teacher for use in his classes at a mission in Uganda. Or the recent French film, "Of Gods and Men" (2010 - des hommes et des dieux) about the fate of a community of French Trapppist monks; or an interview this morning on public radio with a Pakistani novelist who writes of a Catholic charity hospital in his country based on events in his youth...

    As for the film, it won the Cannes Grand Prix and went on to a box office success in France. The monks, who interacted with the Islamic community as physicians died amid the Algerian civil war in 1996. They had made a conscious decision and vote to stay.

    Now, let us look at the Yearbook for 2011 which announces "Preaching and Teaching Earth Wide".

    I cannot find the country Algeria. There are no population statistics or ratio of publishers to population. Is this what happens when one divides by zero?

    Well, how about Morocco where the movie was filmed? Same thing.

    Pakistan, the country of the Mohammed Hanif and author of "Our Lady of Alice Bhatti", it is noted that it has a population of 177,276,594 and 967 pulbishers. Ireland, a population of 6,245,700 has 58,333 publishers for a ratio of 1 to 1071 inhabitants. I guess the publishers there are going to free the Irish of child abuse.

    There were other countries that I was unable to locate in the 2011 document which figured in the so-called Arab Spring.

    Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria ( though it was in the earlier yearbooks), Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain.

    I am not a missionary, minister, publisher or much of anything else save for now a chronic complainer. But I should add that when my someone left to become one, I noticed that she left her passport behind.

  • kurtbethel

    All those literature numbers reminded me of something.

    When the gospel was preached in the first century, there was no scripture being distributed, as it was in scrolls in the temple or synagogue. There was no literature, based on non existent scripture handed out. Written works were hand copied by professional scribes and were too expensive for casual use. That gospel could be teached orally and completely enough that the listener could get baptised immediately if they accepted it.

    That could not be the gospel taught by the Watchtower today, which takes months or years to learn with the aid of several books.

    I asked a JW who was a MS about how China got 65 million christians if the Watchtower was not doing any demonstrable preaching there, and he said those christians were "Satan's organization". That is pure hateful slander.

  • cedars


    The reason why these Arab / Asian countries are missing from the report is because the local governments have either banned Jehovah's Witnesses, or there are no witnesses in those countries at all (as is the case with 3 countries: North Korea, Somalia and Afghanistan).

    Here is my thread on the subject...


  • kepler

    Thanks, cedars.

    Your previous research of this and subsequent discussion was informative. And for anyone who happens to hit this topic without seeing the previous discussion, I would certainly recommend it.

    It is understood from the beginning that most of the places under discussion are dangerous places to go if you are a Christian missionary of any stripe. And I would not want to be sitting on the sidelines daring people to go into such harm's way. But at the same time, as an outsider who has been proselytized and having experienced the schism over this belief system, I have a perspective on this matter as well. Some of it is supporting people of my own faith who were involved in missionary work; being aware of that faith's historic missionary work ( No joke!) and the risks some of my own friends, schoolmates and teachers undertook to go to places to conduct it themselves. That Brother who taught me freshman English in high school was at work in Idi Amin's Uganda. He still is there for all I know.

    Despite all the translation work the society performs, it is clear that most of it is commentary on the Bible - which when you follow it, jumps all over the place, out of context and many other things. If other Christian faiths are satan's organization, I can't imagine how these pamphlets would make any sense to anyone who hadn't been exposed to Christianity from another source. Would the Society's doctrines have made any sense to a 16th century Aztec? Or a present day Korean who had not already become familiar with the Bible via another missionary source? To me it looks pretty clear that for the Society to get anywhere it is dependent on a large Christian herd to prey on. In its hundred thirty years, it has accomplished nothing like the conversions of the New World, the Philippines, the communities in East Asia that have remained resilient in Japan and China despite persecutions of centuries, or the nations to the north of the Roman Empire a millenium before.

    Nor has it done anything comparable to what Islam did in its first hundred years. And still maintains. By a different set of principles? Well, I wonder what it would be like if the Society and Islam changed places?

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