When I was in, JW's could explain their faith. If any come to my door these days all they can do is offer a tract. They have a visible panic attack if I ask a biblical question, and are unable to even begin to answer it. The Org has dumbed down to the point only the dumb remain.
Is Today's Jehovah's Witness Religion The Same As It Was When You Were A Member?
When I was in, the a$$emblies were at least reasonable. Yes, it was rubbish. Yes, I never left without my headache. But at least you didn't have all those signs directing people to choreograph them to what illusion they wanted to present. You never had attendants handing out towels or toilet paper. Rather, it was about cleaning up after oneself: Use enough towels to dry your hands properly and more to dry the sink after so you didn't leave a mess. And no assigned seating.
But not just a$$emblies. Back in the late 1980s, you went out in field circus to recruit people, not just hit the doughnut or coffee shops. Your message, hogwash it was, at least was defendable. You didn't have householders going online as soon as you left the littera-trash and ditching it, so they were more likely to find something in the littera-trash and refuse to go past that point. As bad as the doctrines were, at least they made sense--to the uninitiated, at least. These days, you are spreading more blatant rubbish and wussing out on the flimsiest arguments.
Recreation? What happened to the congregation picnics? I suppose Jehovah really wants his people to mope around miserable and just do the work. Otherwise, why is it suddenly a sin to have half the congregation renting a pavillion at a park and play volleyball? Or, why does having a picnic with 40 or 50 people suddenly always mean everyone is going to smoke weed, get drunk, drink-drive, and do fornication? I never saw a drug or alcohol crazed mob degenerate (??) into a sex orgy when I attended such events. Yet, these days there are no more such gatherings.
And the boasting sessions are more dumbed down. When I was in, I could give comments that expanded on what was in the paragraph. One of my favorites was to answer "Illustrate" requests without using the stock illustration provided. I always managed to come up with an illustration that did a better job, without trashing the material being discussed. Or, I would give a comment that added to what was in the paragraph. These days, doing that gets you an all-expense paid trip to the back room with three hounders. The format is also stripped down of anything exciting. You only get 135 songs, which are even worse than the 225 that were once supplied.
I would say they got rid of their 40 watt incandescent light bulbs and got those stupid compact fluorescent bulbs that I refuse to even call "light bulbs". Stupid rules, no fun, stripping down all possible nuances that could add a little fun--how is that light? For myself, I got one of those Fenix headlamps--LED, very bright, 6500 K daylight color temperature, light where I need it. And that casts so much more light on the rubbish that the washtowel is putting out. And Satan's light--more LED lights, 6500 K color temperature that is virtually identical to full sunlight, the exact amount of light to optimally see my way around (that is, daylight intensity), sure helped me to see what rubbish the whole platform is.
Well I am still 'in'....
I remember there was 'bickering' in the late 70s. I got told by my stepdad (later it was a harping point for windbag-PO) that I had a 'Korah-like heart' because of speaking boldly (as we were all taught to speak) that the ban on transplants was nonsense (I was 6 when it was MOCd), I remember menfolk chatting away about hopeful changes and past stupidities under the presidency.... I even remember being told by the Elders to have patience and faith in the GB as they were still getting the swing of things....so I sat and watched 'change'....change that was suppose to bolster us in these last remaining days that were not to exceed the end of the 20th century (if that long).
But the changes to come were not of 'greatness'......with the Jan 83 'Independent Thinking' articles a page was turned. Mind you I was only 9yrs old when it was studied....but from that point on 'BOLDNESS' died (cue Don McLean American Pie). Fear set in and all became about blind following..... I remember thinking to myself how 'WEAK' it all was.... even as a child I despised weak leadership (ie bullying, fearmongering, dumbing down).....but being a good dubbie it was all proof the end was nigh, evidently satan was at work, and a little reformist was born.....spent every second of everyday watching the weakness spread.....the baptism change, Mary in 'A Time to Speak' and many other articles that are too numerous to mention......brief respite with Jan 89's 'completed in our 20th century'((http://www.jwfacts.com/images/watchtower-1989-jan-1-p12-mag.gif )) and Barry's pro-education....but Barry dropped dead in 1999 and by 2004 I could hear/feel the familar return of yet another round of intense bullying, fearmongering and dumbing down....it took Jaracz a bit longer to make it full circle but as we all know he did manage to restart the wagon-circling, dumb-downed, loyalty button pushing, distrusting, fearmongering stupidity that can be seen in the very WT we are studying this month!
I miss the boldness.
I miss the magenta songbook too
I miss deeply researched and discussed comments
I miss the independent thinking ..... we used to smirk at the Catholics for their lack of it (w58 8/1 p. 460 Dawns a New Era for the Irish)
I miss the parties
I miss the event atmosphere of the Assemblies
I miss volunteering at the Assemblies
I miss the freedom of thought and speech to openly shrug your shoulders, laugh in the parking lot of a KH and roll your eyes when you disagreed with something non-scriptural.
I miss being able to brag about us as JWs......
We used to discern when the WTS was 'hyping'......
Now all we have is praise for the Emporers and their ever-changing new clothing
Could the WTS be re-made.....sure but franky I don't think the GB has the cojones nor will to do it.....the only goal is to maintain lifestyle until they die.....
K....gotta shut up....lil reformist voice is getting stirred .....Just so mad.....
((( I mean how many 'asleep' JWs even know what our 'Kingdom Message' is anymore? )))
NO it is not the same it can't be.
When I exited Jan 1992 EVERYBODY was on the edge holding their breath for Armageddon to 'deliver them from credit card debt and a ton of home equity loans.
Sooooo, what the heck are they doing in 2012? Amazing they can still so anything pro watchtower besides socialize at yearly conventions.
As someone who grew up in the Organization recently, my take on the matter is thus: The internet has destroyed the JW's former methods. They used to be able to play on people's ignorance of the JWs, because no one really knew that much about them. Now a basic Google turns up tons of hits on how they're a cult. This same freedom of information is causing almost all of the people who're currently being raised in the cult to leave as soon as they're able. Out of my peers in my circuit, I don't know of a single one over the age of eighteen who's still practicing.
The only people they're able to retain or recruit at this juncture are those who have almost no logical thinking skills, those who are broken in some way. So they've had the option of either becoming much more open, secular, and less cult-like, or doubling down to hold on that much more tightly to their rapidly dwindling numbers. That means an incredible over-simplification of previous doctrines (don't want to encourage anyone to think, even to teach them about the Bible), and a far stricter "Us vs. Them" mentality. I see the Witnesses either doing a complete 180* in the next decade, or becoming much scarier cult than they already are.
I think they're only going to get worse.
No...the WTS is always re-inventing itself and old light fades into invisibility. jws don't have time or the inclincation to read current WTS material let alone that of the past.
2 big changes during my understanding life was 1) superior authorities became secular governments again (though I didn't realize that pre-1929 that HAD been the case)
The GT did not start in 1914 and take a break in 1918 to start up again in the future.
My family talked amongst themselves a great deal about both those having had personal opinions that now jived with the new WTS doctrine.
The WTS now avoids naming dates since 1975 blew up in thei face. But then it was 50 years 1925-1975 before the WTS came up with another date. So what will 2025 bring....a windup to 2034 similar to the 1966 to 1975 buildup?
The world in general has changed and the WTS has been forced to adapt. The information highway makes it harder to conceal the past from younger jws at least. I'll agree with a previous poster that fewer young jws stay around.
The WTS rarely if ever changes for the "good" but to protect their existence legally and financially. While the WTS tells the rank and file to wait on Jehovah they evidently don't TRUST IN GOD except on the money.
Minimus - True....plus you can't hold hands during a prayer,
That is a new one on me. Was that in print somewhere? I would be very interested in seeing it. I think my wife would have a real problem with that one, I would love to show it to her.
Your post gives an accurate depiction of what has happened in the JW religion in the past thirty years or so. It is a totally different type of religion today with paranoid, gossiping people and all sorts of trouble in the congregations! Even though I am a "fader" this is what I have picked up on from my few friends there.
Like you, I never saw a congregation picnic degenerate into anything like what you mentioned. I think the reason the religion stamped out this last enjoyable event was probably because of liability issues of various sorts and ALSO because they are deathly afraid that a few JWs might start talking after they have a beer or two and we all know where this leads.
The religion must oversee and have total control of any meeting or gathering in order to insure that nobody says anything against the religion or its questionable doctrines.
The trend I can see in Watchtower-land is that almost no one speaks about Armageddon out of stage. In fact, I can't see brothers speaking about spiritual things but sports and other things. The only spiritual things, if you can call it spiritual, they speak about are gossip and gossip.
Some say they are there "only for Jehovah, not for men", a sign they aren't comfortable in the borg.
I think the root of some of this problems, apart from stupid doctrines, is what you mentioned: the lack of events where witnesses can gather. There's no a spirit of unity in most of them. I'm thinking for example in the congregation I grew up in a big city where brothers were working Mon thru Fri, no one at meetings for field service, except for 10-20 on Saturdays. They only meet with other Witnesses at meetings. That congregation had 130 publishers, in a big city, and some of them even didn't know the names of all the names of other publishers.
I know it's a very extreme example, but I know a couple of congos like that. They divided the congregation and then there was a lack of brothers for doing the 'mikes', literature or territories depts. as there were a lot of brothers and sisters not being regular to meetings or not wanting to be available.
I havent been to a meeting since 1983.
My time with the witnesses, I was born in in 52 was all about Armegeddon and the end of the world.
Fortunately, for me they gave a date 1975. 1976 came and I was able to escape.
I do remember having lots of JW picnics and get togethers. And most weeks the young males would
get together and play whatever sport was in season, softball, football, basketball.
I was in a JW band and we practiced at the presiding overseers home.
Thats something that has changed, when I was young there seemed to be just one elder that ran the show.
Now they have a body of elders.
We had Sunday public talks and Watchtower studies during the warm months outside in the yard
at one of the friends who had a big property.
For Assemblies we would rent out high shcool auditoriums. For the bigger assemblies we would rent the masonic
hall or the local sports arena.
I remember the food was pretty good at the assemblies, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, apple pie and icecream.
We used to have piano players male and female, things started going down hill musically when they started playing
albums and wouldnt let the piano players play.
There was no internet, in fact there was only 4 channels on tv. If you went to a book store the religious section with bibles
and so forth was maybe 2 shelves. Information was hard to come by. The appostate book that I heard about in my youth
was "30 years a watchtower slave" But I never stumbled accross it in a book store or library.
Before 1976 I thought the Jehovahs witnesses were the truth.
I remember being told going to college was a waste of time and that I would never graduate. So I pioneered for several years
until that got too hard with supporting a wife and child.
I did find 2 decent jobs thru my association with the friends, 1 a union carpenter job and then a job as a tool maker.
The friends seemed willing to help each other find employment.
I cant imagine what is going though the minds of my family members that are still in.
My family that is still in seem to be doing well financially as tradesmen in the union with early retirements
making more retired at 50 then I make working full time.