I'm not sure how else to describe this meeting at my kitchen table. My elderette ("Miss K") arrived with her friend in tow. I vaguely remember the 2nd lady ("Miss W") from the times we went to the KH, but like Miss K, we never really talked in depth. (She does look remarkably like my JW mother, and has the same sort of grumpy demeanor).
I made tea, and they talked about how much they loved hibiscus tea. The refreshments were marshmallow Easter eggs and Trefoil Girl Scout cookies on a plate. The boxes were at the end of the table.
This topic led to some interesting facts about their children, who happened to be married to each other. (Miss K's daughter is married to Miss W's son, and they have at least one common grandchild, who was being watched and needed to be picked up by a certain time - which we went WAY past). It seems to be a common JW trait, or maybe it is just Miss K... she claims to have a limited amount of time, but then talks for 2-3 times that length of time. Miss K's one daughter is taking college classes to be a CNA (certified nurse assistant), and the other works for a small city office about an hour away. She talked about how her daughter has to have her "JW personality" and her "work personality," due to the difference in situations and people.
Miss K and Miss W told me that they had both been baptized on the same day, in their 20's. They were both converts, baptized in 1972. (1975'ers!)
Our "question of the day" was the existence and identification of the "Faithful and Discreet Slave." Miss K was clearly prepared with a list of scriptures and a plan to prove the existence of an organization throughout all time. Even though she laid out her plan before she started, she peppered the conversation with JW platitudes and emotional claims about "the truth."
Miss K also seemed to be debating with herself throughout the entire "presentation." As she began, she told me to feel free to interrupt and ask question that I had... but each time I did, it opened a rabbit hole for her to dive into. We ended up spending 3 hours together, and here is what I remember.
She began with the account of Noah. We read how God told him to build the ark, and how Noah did everything that God told him to do. Then she made the comment about Noah being a great preacher, and how no one listened to him. I stopped her and asked her where it had any accounts of Noah preaching or spreading the word about the coming flood.
I referred to Genesis 6:18 "And I am establishing my covenant with you, and you must go into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you." God was specific about WHO was getting into that ark. It does not have even one example of someone rejecting Noah's message from God, not one person who had the chance to come into the ark with Noah and his family...
She had Miss W read a verse in 2 Peter, which said Noah was a preacher. Miss K: "It doesn't say Noah, the ark builder. It says Noah the preacher." We discussed how Noah must have only preached to his family. Then she asked if I ever wondered about the mothers of his daugthers in law... why didn't they come into the ark? She kept asking what it would be like to see a man building this big ark and watching the animals go inside with Noah. "Jehovah shut the door!" She kept implying that anyone who saw this would have had the chance to get into the ark. Why didn't anyone who witnessed this event, even try to go inside? She made all these leaps and assumptions about what did or did not happen, but I just kept reminding her, "but there is no account in the bible of that happening, so we don't know, do we? It says Noah did everything God told him to do, but it does not say God told him to tell people to come along. God told him to bring his family and all the animals. That's it. We can't assume anything else occured."
Ok... NEXT!!! (hahaha. I don't think I got the point on that story, so we moved along to Moses).
She didn't spend as long trying to convince me that Moses was used by God to gather people together. This story was much more obvious, so she made her talking points and jumped right into Matthew 24:45 "Who really is the faithful slave..." She told me to read verses 45-47, but I kept reading about the evil slave... she stopped me before I finished the passage. I made a couple of observations.
- First of all, this is a parable, not a prophecy. If you look at everything surrounding this parable, you will see several examples where Jesus is describing how his true followers will be recognized.
- Who is this evil slave? Can we talk about that (question ignored... topic divereted)
- Jesus did not say, "I will appoint a faithful slave sometime later, during the time of the end..." This slave he mentions has already been "appointed."
I had another question about the 10 virgins and the 3 servants that are described in the next examples, but I never got a chance to ask about them... She quickly jumped into Acts and talked about Paul. She was on a mission, and that was to lay out her outline of the evidence of how Jehovah uses specific men throughout time, to "give people food at the right time."
She asked me what "meat in due season" or "food at the right time" probably means...? I said, "Well, since this is a parable, it actually COULD be literal food... Jesus is describing how his true followers are going to act."
After talking about Paul and then reading the last passage of Matthew and Revelation (don't add to this book, don't take away from this book), she came to the conclusion that since all the churches are teaching things that are NOT in the bible, they are not teaching the truth. She showed me a quote from Jesus about being "of the truth," as if that somehow identified JW's as the chosen ones.
The whole presentation was full of assumptions and made a pretty weak argument, since I never agreed that a specific "slave" had been identified by Jesus. I also never conceded that the JW's have the exclusive rights to the truth or to being God's chosen people. I asked her a few times if it was possible for someone who was not a JW to be approved or chosen by God. She never gave me a straight answer... EVERY question I asked was answered with another question! Miss W did interject once and made the comment that Jehovah sees the heart, and that "they will be given the chance." I said, "Do you mean given the chance to become a Jehovah's Witness?" Again, no answer... another misdirecting question or assumption.
She did some real mental gymnastics while talking to me and herself (they both did, but Miss K was the main speaker at the table). I noticed that she was almost debating with herself a few times... It was fascinating and very sad, really. It went something like this:
She would make a statement, such as how "JW's always follow the bible and they teach the truth." Then, "When there are times that the truth contains some things we realize are false, we make allow ourselves adjustments"... "Of course, there are times when changes are made as we examine the bible further and realize we have to make adjustments to what we believe." and wrapped up with "At least we don't just keep following our old teachings and beliefs, even after we realize they are wrong."
Not wanting to keep changing the subject, I made a note to myself, that this argument I witnessed her going through at least 4 times during her presentation, seemed to be a direct contradiction to her claim that JW's never added or changed the bible.
After she had read those verses in Matthew and Revelation, I did say, "What about the changes in your NEW New World Translation?? There have been words added and ommitted." This got both of them aggitated.
- Miss K used her practiced tactic... EVERY time I asked a question or had any objection, she would try to get me to give her a specific example, sometimes adding, "I don't know what you are trying to say... (implying that I had some agenda or specific attack planned)."
- Miss W got immediately defensive, proclaiming that "NO meanings have been changed. Only the language!" Miss W was very defensive whenever I would make a comment. I couldn't tell if she was accompanying Miss K unwillingly, just to get her hours, or if she was supposed to be playing "bad cop." I didn't engage her very much... she reminded me a lot of my mom, who is also very stubborn.
So they made some claims about how JW's have the only truth, asked me if I thought that it made sense that someone would have to be teaching the truth, since we are DEFINITELY in the time of the end. "Look at the signs! Jesus said it would be bad, isn't the world SOOO Bad!!??" I did not concede that things were worse now, than when my grandmother was growing up.
Time did finally run out, when my husband called for us to go and pick him up from work. As they were leaving, Miss K, ONCE AGAIN, asked me to give her a SPECIFIC question to research so we could talk about it next week. I said, "You still have not really covered the faithful and discreet slave, and that is the foundation of your entire religion..." She had clearly spent a long time laying out this outline and evidence that the JW's are following the FDS appointed by Jesus. I don't feel like she ever got to the point, or the conclusion, of her argument. I felt so cheated!
She said... (hahahaha)... "Let's just put that on the shelf for now." OMG I thought, you are kidding me! As if she was saying, "I don't have to answer that question... just give me one I CAN answer."
Miss W added, along with the request for a specific topic or doctrine in question, "WE need to do our research too... we don't just want to show up unprepared to answer your question and help you!"
I told her, "Let me think about it and get back to you."
She evidently wants me to "pick" from some of their core doctrines, you know, the ones that PROVE they are "of the truth," and everyone else is in a lie:
The trinity, hellfire, existence of the immortal soul, etc...
I have a couple of questions that I do plan to ask, from comments made by them during our conversation yesterday, but I know they will want a main topic...