You know, by Arthur Miller? Well, it's a big deal for me because when I was in school I was assigned to read it, and my mom put a stop to it, going so far as to write a note to the teacher explaining that I couldn't read it because it had witchcraft in it. There was a bit of back and forth with the teacher over that. Ironic, in hindsight.
But now that I'm relatively free to read what I want, preferably on the Kindle so the Mrs. doesn't ask too many questions, I remembered that and said, oh, cool, I can read it now! Spectacular play. Spectacular. And I'm pretty sure there was no actual witchcraft in it at all--if anything it was a story about people who were by and large as strict and legalistic as JWs, if not more so.
If I'd read it 3 years ago, I would've tried for the user name of 'John Proctor', assuming someone hadn't already taken it. The witch trial finale was so eerily reminiscent of my own judicial committee that it brought me almost to tears. It was obvious that the girls involved had figured out how to work the system. Somewhere in their heads they knew it was insane and desperate to pin something on someone, and that the only way to get the focus and punishment off of themselves was to rat out someone else. My wife basically did the exact same thing, and got off easy because the elders had a real-live 'witch' to hang. And they focused so hard on finding out who I'd been talking to and what I'd been reading. 'Confess or hang' was the order of the day.
I identified with John Proctor, too, as though he wasn't perfect, he was a man of honor nonetheless. A tragic case of a good man who made some bad decisions. Like him, I made the perhaps fatal error of assuming that the court was actually interested in truth or justice or similarly noble ideas. (Well, maybe not, but I guess I did have some small hope they might see reason.) If I had worked the system too, I might have remained on the inside, perhaps able to continue double agent work after scrubbing sd-7 and starting a new 'agency' if you will. But it just wasn't in me. They wanted, not just for me to confess, but for me to humiliate myself before them, to grovel and cry for mercy. And to name names if I had any accomplices, of course, which I did not.
But 'The Crucible' definitely goes on my list of classics and must-reads for ex-JWs. It really shows how far people will go to hold onto their authority. And in the end, that's the bottom-line motivation for the Governing Body--to preserve its authority above all else, including scripture and the dictates of common sense individual conscience. I wonder how many they have strung up over the years, all for authority's sake? How many John and Elizabeth Proctors are out there? And the saddest thing of all is to be John...and to have no Elizabeth to stand by your side and claim you as honorable and good till the bitter end. That may be the worst pain of all in such a scenario.
I would know.