REIFY: making God real in your mind

by Terry 14 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Terry

    We've all seen those war movies where a G.I. keeps a picture of his loved ones inside his coat pocket and takes it out before the big battle to

    remind himself what he is fighting for.

    That photo represents what he loves most.

    The photo captures a moment in time. It freezes a momentary "fixed idea" of an ideal.

    As time passes and each day goes by the photo and the reality match less and less for an obvious reason: people change.


    ( re·i·fy :To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence.)


    As a young 20 year old Jehovah's Witness living in the age of the Viet Nam war and with the armed forces having a Draft policy

    I faced prison. I had to register for the draft on my 18th birthday. Inside of 2 years I was sitting in Tarrant County Jail awaiting transfer

    to the Federal Priosn outside of Dallas.

    Just prior to all this I had met a young JW girl my age at an assembly. We spent time together. Nothing lonelier than being an adolescent inside

    the Watchtower religion! There's nobody to talk to who won't lecture you or push you into field service to solve all your anxiety and depression.

    But, somebody your own age? That can be different...very different.


    So, what else is there? You get engaged to take the heat off the prying eyes of the congregation who watch you out of the corner of their eyes.

    You limit the PDA to the most innocent gestures. You talk on the phone for hours. You get together for a movie. You hold hands and kiss.

    All the excitement that life as a Jehovah's Witness usually steals from you and snuffs out eventually somehow starves a young person and pushes them into each others arms.

    ************************ I can remember a December evening sitting in Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution after the count. (All inmates line up 5 times a day to be counted and verified.) I was holding my photograph of LUCINDA. She had a smile that was incandescent. It was renewing to me, somehow, of what we had experienced emotionally when we were together. But, the depth of that feeling was slip sliding away day by day. The photo was a lifeline to her but we were separate and more illusory by the minute. At first she would visit on Saturdays. Saturdays were Visitor Day. A gym sized auditorium filled with folding chairs (like a Kingdom Hall) was the site of these visits. It was so awkward! I was down to about 150 pounds. I had been given a buzz cut. My clothes didn't fit (army surplus khakis). We both were two nervous strangers now and the reality was soul killing. Each visit became more excruciating and empty. Whatever had been wasn't being daily replenished with new experience. She was changing and I was too by virtue of our very separate experiences. She visited maybe 6 times in all and then stopped. I got a letter from one of my friends who told me the other JW brothers kept asking her out on dates. At first she refused. Now she was going out regularly. I felt betrayed, of course. Not by her. By my so-called "brothers". But, what could I do? Nothing. **************************** By now you are wondering what the Title Topic: REIFY: MAKING God real in your mind has to do with my personal story, right? Well, I'll tell you. It is a sort of analogy. We start out alienated more and more in our lives and with others until we are lonely and misunderstood. Don't we all get to that point sooner or later? Then we "meet" the other. It could be a group, a person or an idea that embraces our profoundest needs and pays us attention and invites in. We have an emotional experience that bonds us and gives us a reason to make a promise for a life together. Then, the erosions of daily life kick in and we change and drift slowly into alienation again. If it were a romance it might be the PHOTO that serves as a tether, a lifeline, a bridge of renewal to the moment of contact and bright promise that we cling to with more and more effort to sustain. If it is religious awakening then, instead of the becomes the Prayer that sustains the emotional high of a numinous and etheral "better life". We learn to REIFY (ree-uh-fye) To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence. ********************************* What is most interesting is that the spontaneous bond between our deepest human needs and what we are bound to (person, place or thing) has a super-reality to it that glows and burns and fuels us beyond time and place and moment. We create it and we guard it....but...we MUST RENEW IT or it fades...dwindles...becomes less and less real.....and.....dies. ******************************* I prayed alot in my lifetime. I prayed the Kingdom Hall prayers which were empty rhetoric. I prayed the before-a-meal prayers which were obligatory guilt trips. I prayed the before bedtime prayers which were like letters to Santa. But, in prison, they were a constant stream-of-consciousness cry for REALITY. I desperately needed a REAL and LIVING Jehovah there with me. It was no different from my letters and photo with Lucinda. I had to REIFY or what was the battle for anyway but a march into harm's way? We young men are so eager for our life to be heroic. We want to stand tall and strong. All we need is a cause worth fighting for. But, everybody needs a link to something grand, important and worthwhile--don't we? Our own lives can become so empty of purpose! We just keep busy and don't look up until a wrinkled sagging face looks at us one day from the bathroom mirror! THE HORROR! So...we REIFY. We latch on to the link between the spark and our vibrant mindfull of God, Love, Purpose and we try to recreate the fire that burned inside of us........just to feel the heat once more! to day living can quickly become a permanent winter. ************************************* When I read on some person who is an EX-JW post that they are "thinking of going back in" my heart sinks in despair! I know what they are really saying. They miss that sense of magnificent Absolute Confidence......the total absence of Uncertainty.....the bright ever-nearing Promise.... which died and left them in a cold empty room with the winter winds buffeting their windowpane. They must REIFY or fade to black. Or so it seems. *************************************** It was 1968....the day I went back to my cell and read the final letter from Lucinda after Mail Call. December 7 is a day I remember because it was the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor and it seemed to me most ironic in timing. This felt like a sneak attack. I was mentally and emotionally unprepared. I wasn't ready to let go of what fueled my sense of purpose and future. What a feeling of helplessness overwhelmed me at that moment. I couldn't go to a telephone and call Lucinda and talk it through.
    I couldn't drive over to her house and see her face to face. All I could do is sit there on my bunk stupidly staring at that same frozen
    smile which had meant something radiantly promising and now....meant......nothing. ***************************************** It was April of 1969 and the weather was wonderful. A picnic at the local park where Jehovah's Witnesses gathered for a social occasion was the scene. I had only been back in the so-called real world for a week and I was still adjusting; Sort of like working under the ground as a coal miner and suddenly walking out into bright sunlight. I sat down at the picnic table and cut a slice of watermelon. A car drove up and Lucinda and her siter Linda got out. I froze and then feigned an impassive lie of non-chalance. I could hardly swallow the bites of sweet juice and pulp. Lucinda walked directly over to me and said hello. It was one of those out of body detached and surreal experiences in life when you are totally into your own head. Instead of being there in real time I was sorting through what I "should do" possibilities. I don't know what she said and I don't know what I said. The real me was not present and the fake me was. I know I had to ask one of the brothers who was there what happened later that day. Apparently I was rude enough. She got the point and left. This was NOT what the real me wanted, of course. But, some part of me had to shatter the reality so that I could still cling to the unreality. You see...the lesson (if there is any) to be learned is that REALITY destroys our illusions. Unreality and hope aren't for the real world. "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." **************************************************************************************************************** Years later I read a book titled IF YOU MEET THE BUDDAH ON THE ROAD...KILL HIM!! It ends with this list of important things you must know.

    1. This is it! 2. There are no hidden meanings

    3. You can't get there from here, and besides, there's no place else to go

    4. We are all already dying and we'll be dead for a long time.

    5. Nothing lasts!

    6. There is no way of getting all you want.

    7. You can't have anything unless you let go of it.

    8. You only get to keep what you give away.

    9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.

    10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune.

    11. You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.

    12. It is a random universe to which we bring meaning.

    13. You don't really control anything.

    14. You can't make someone love you.

  • PSacramento

    You went through a lot of shit dude, pardon my french, I have the upmost respect for you and what you have done Terry, truly.

  • Chariklo

    Would reify be a cousin of happify, Terry?

    From me, too, the utmost respect for all of that. Unbelievable.

  • LV101

    Another great read --- you're tough! Horrible era for guys - especially w/cult's demands on JWs. Giving up fantasies/illusions rips the heart out with intense pain fortunately dying down with time.

  • edmond dantes
    edmond dantes

    Hi Terrry,

    It's very sad to read again your experiences back then do you now think that it was all so futile ?

    To me it eptomises all that is wrong with the Watchtower Organisation they just left you hung out to dry.

    At the cross roads in life it is so easy to take the wrong road.

    All the best to you.

  • clarity

    Sometimes I think that your brain will burn out!


    The sheer volume of thoughts & emotion which end-up here

    as words on paper, is amazing.


    Encouraging that #8 on the list says you own all of it now,

    no one can take it from you Terry ...

    ...thanks for all the "giving away" that you do.


    8. You only get to keep what you give away

  • OnTheWayOut

    That was a good book. I remember it.

    I am looking for your usual lesson in irony or deep point that ties it all together. You make your point at the end, but the edge is not on it. I think you are just recalling something on the anniversary and trying to make it into a point about reality. Really, you need to vent about your memory. That's okay. Thanks for sharing that and I hope others get the idea about reality that you are making.

    Plus, sometimes our stories are what they are. Putting a Hollywood ending on it or some bizarre Twilight Zone twist on the end wouldn't make it our "reality." It is what it is.

    The "brothers" who asked her out did not do this as a betrayal to you. She did not accept as a betrayal to you. People just do what they do- no hidden meanings. She wasn't in jail and could go on with her life because she didn't really make a huge committment to you yet. But of course, being in jail, your committment to her was larger than life in your eyes.

    I never would have gone back to the JW's by the time I resigned as an elder. It was a one-way ride out of that situation. But it took so long to get there after I felt something was wrong. That might be part of "that sense of magnificent Absolute Confidence......the total absence of Uncertainty....."

    Without "Jehovah," I was loaded with uncertainty. There was a time when I needed Jehovah right there in the room with me and I made him more real to me. Now, I had nothing. I had no cause worth fighting for, that was until I discovered that WTS was a cult. Then I had to save myself, then I had to save my loved ones. Over time, that has not been a winning cause. I win battles, but not the war with saving my loved ones. It keeps me tied to JWN. If I won that war, I might be able to put the whole episode behind me. I would love to re-write that ending, but it is not yet my reality. May never be.

    I think you are saying that seeing Lucinda in a setting afterward even robbed you of the unreality you had of what happened in that cell with that memory. I am different from you. I enjoy slaps of reality setting me straight. I returned to a Kingdom Hall last week for a "memorial" talk about my aunt- the one who brought JW's into my family in the first place. The talk was stupid, the welcome from JW strangers was creepy. It helped me to remember these people as "sad" instead of remembering them as "assholes." If that robbed me of a bit of unreality to see that, it probably made me more compassionate toward these sad people. I (privately) forgave my uncle and my cousin for being asshole-like to their non-JW family and staying away for decades. They were just sad people now, instead of the monsters I chose to think of them as in my unreality. I think it's better that way- for me anyway.

  • Terry

    I've had more than one person tell me, "You have had an interesting life" and it always stops me cold.

    I certainly never thought of it as interesting.

    But, I know what they mean (because I asked them).

    I haven't had the life you bump into on the street everyday.

    So, it must be like that Chines blessing: "May you live in interesting time."

    I sure have wasted a lot of my life on things that would not benefit me or anybody else.

    I only thought I was doing so!

  • Satanus

    First, let me say that i empathize w your story. It could have been me.

    There is a big difference between the gi and his pic of his loved one, and a young jw guy and his young jw girlfriend. It is that the gi actually loved his loved one, ie physically consumated his love. The wt can dinigrate it all it wants, but i believe if you two had gone that far, it would have been a different story. There would have been a deeper bond between you. The animal mate pairing bonding ritual is natural for humans, as well. Never mind the paper upon which it might be written.


  • Terry

    i believe if you two had gone that far, it would have been a different story. There would have been a deeper bond between you

    Hey! I never thought of that.

    Great thought.

    Being a virgin until I was 22 is what ruined it for me, then:)

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