I had been a straight A student. I had a prodigious memory for facts, dates, quotes. I once recited the entire Rime of the Ancient Mariner in English class. In High School I memorized 16 new vocabulary words a day for 3 years. I read above my own comfort level. I avoided popular fiction and concentrated on "heavy" or important literature.
But, then--something significant happened.
I look back and call it "My Death as an Intellectual".
How did it happen?
I became one of Jehovah's Witnesses!!
Being smart wasn't important at all! Being "active" was more important. Being obedeint and "spiritual" was important.
Soon, I qualified to give hour talks on Sundays before the Watchtower study.
My memory enabled me to wait until the night before the talk to work up the sermon outline and fill in the details!
I would add lib the connective tissue between canned power points. Rave reviews followed my sermons. I was slapped on the back and told I must have spent hours preparing!!
However, I was sternly lectured NOT to drag facts, figures, quotations from secular sources into the Watchtower outline.
"Stick to the script" was the message.
Yet, I knew....I was having my intelligence removed. Original thoughts were considered arrogant and unwanted.
As a Jehovah's Witness I was the worst form of parasitic individual: THE MIDDLEMAN! I was not an originator of anything new or improved--I merely transmitted things using my smarts--in order to polish the message to a high gleam and make it appear intelligent!
I was the wax on the apple and the food coloring in the junk food being sold door to door!
My thinking capacity was being crippled! Instead of integrating an ever increasing volume of connected information that applied to the Real World---I was cramming in non-facts about the Watchtower's history and how it fulfilled bible prophecy!
I was required to be IRRATIONAL and make it look smart!
In primitive societies there are no Intellectual leaders---there are only Witch Doctors. My only ambition in the Kingdom Hall would have to be learning how to be a Witch Doctor and toss the bones and poke the chicken livers for signs and portents!
A genuine intellectual TESTS workable strategies and improves life as a result of what they acquire as practical knowledge.
A pseudo-intellectual parrots slogans, argues irrelevencies and mouths cliche' responses to memorized situations.
I crippled my intellect and soon became so obedient I allowed myself to go into prison for two years defending an irrational "principle" which made absolutely no sense to me---yet I obeyed! (Refuse to perform community service as an alternative to military service)
I wasted two of the most important years in a young man's intellectual life. From the age of 20-22 I should have been integrating theorectical book learning with the practical aspects of a career, ambition and progressive financial security.
Instead, I crammed turds of wisdom instead of words of wisdom into my thoughts.
I memorized the Society's explanations, beliefs, theologies and arguments, dates, chronologies, dispensational parallels and made it my ambition to be an EXPERT!
When I was paroled back into the Kingdom hall----there was no need for my "expertise" at all!
No innovations are allowed. No great ideas are born at local levels, you see. No scholarly investigations can "improve" the FDS pronouncements.
You can parrot and regurgitate with conviction and erudition----but--you are merely a transmission belt and not an engine!
From time to time I met other brothers and sisters who were "bright", informed about the planet and about "real" history. They were remarkable thinkers eager as puppies to please their master!
I saw them come and I saw them go.
The left because they were oddities in an obviously NON-INTELLECTUAL religious atmosphere.
They annoyed the book study conductor. They asked precise and difficult questions. They answered back with "better" facts!
They were trouble and they were made to feel unwelcome.
I, myself, dazzled on purpose to attract attention. I couldn't help it. But, I was not permitted to make myself the center of attention. I was told to "tone it down" and be less of a "running ahead of the organization" type of publisher.
I began to fade....fade....fade.....
We all have similar stories, I'm sure.
There are so many bright, wise, sharp, gifted people here on JWD---the Kingdom Hall doesn't deserve such intellectually stellar members!
Bright people can be drawn in to this religion because it appears to take a logical and rational approach where other denominations are more touchy-feely and less committed to chapter and verse arguments.
Debate and proof-texting call upon sharp people to excell and counter objections. So, it has appeal. Nothing more soothing to the ego than having the "only true" religion.
But, it is make-believe. It is sawdust.
As we all now know....
When and how did you suffer your death as an intellectual?