Yesterday's meeting was pretty unbearable. Here were the highlights:
The public talk was about dealing with anxiety. I forget the exact title of the talk, but it's a fairly commonly used outline, "Coping with anxiety in today's world" or something like that. This was my first time hearing it while awake. The first 20 minutes (fully 2/3rds of the talk) the speaker was essentially just giving reason after reason for why we shoudl be anxious. I said to my wife at one point "it seems like the talk is designed to make us anxious. I was fine before I came in, but man it sure sounds like there's a lot to be anxious about." Usually any criticism of what's being said in the meetings is met with a stern look or a "i don't like it when you say things like that." this time, though, she smiled and said "was that not what the talk was about - 'Being anxious in today's world?'" Maybe I'm getting through to her a little, hopefully.
On to the WT study:
It's funny how differently you can read something depending on your mental state. Every time I read the phrase "our understanding" in a sentence that was encouranging the reader to accept and embrace the changes, the 'our' in my mind was the GB. It really reads differently when you see it that way - it reads abusive and controling: "I changed my mind, now you need to follow!". But a JW who hears that "our understanding" has changed, and they automatically include themselves as a part of 'our' as if by the mere announcement that you believe something different, it's somehow become a part of your own mental understanding and belief system. It's truely scary when you think of the extremes in how that power might be used.
On Paragraph 10, I had something of a epiphany. They instruct us to read Proverbs 4:18 (the org's favorite scripture - light gets brighter) and of course everyone faithfully taps on the scripture on their iPad, reading in epub format and it takes them to the scripture. When I first discovered that they'd included the scriptures in the epub formatted WT, I was pretty surpised, because I'd always been told that we need to read scriptures directly from the bible - not printing out all the scriptures in the WT study and reading them off a sheet of paper. I didn't think of it much beyond that, though, and enjoyed the convenience. Yesterday, I realized the reason for the reversal: they're providing a convenient way to read the "necessary" scriptures, and now have absolutely no risk that someone might get ambitious and actually read the context! If they did that, they'd see that Prov. 4:18 doesn't actually apply in any way to what they were saying. It wouldn't be hard for them to instead link to the JW library app and take you to the scripture in context, if they wanted to - but that would be completely self-defeating.
Par. 11 - we're encouraged to go to all the meetings. (I guess Jesus isn't really there when only 2 are gathered in his name, you have to be at the KH, too). In summation, before moving to the next paragraph, the conductor actually said these words: "With all the changes that have been going on, it's more important than ever to be at the meetings. If you miss a thursday and a sunday, you might not recognize the organization anymore"
Par 14 was a good one. I always love to watch for the paragraphs where they don't even bother to cite any scriptural backing. One older brother and powerful elder made a shocking comment here in reference to the quote from Pryce Hughes " My early experience taught me how unsound it is to rely on human reasoning. Once my mind had been resolved on that point, I determined to stay by the faithful organization. " He re-read the quote, but when he got to the "Once my mind had been resolved" part he said "In other words, once he got his mind right." He went on to assert that if you aren't following along with everything you're told from the org, you "need to get your mind right."
Par 15 was also interesting from my new perspective. It purports to liken the changes in the organization to the changes that had to be made in the 1st century. Looking at it as a JW, it totally validates that the org should be constantly changing, but if you actually read and discern what was going on, it takes a totally different meaning. Paul was telling them not to continue as though they were under the mosaic law - they had to 'keep up with god's organization.' The important difference, though, was that neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor anyone else EVER told them to follow the mosaic law in the first place. For this to be a true parallel, there'd have to be a scripture where Paul instructs the congregation to remain under law, then one where he changes his mind - obviously this isn't the case. The other intersting thing here, was that it cast the congregation members as being the ones at fault - perhaps a subtle attempt to reinforce the belief that things like 1975 where never advertised from the top, and was purely the fault of those in the congregation.
All-in-all, a truely sickening meeting.