My personal collection of JW material isn't very extensive (beyond
what one gathers over a period of thirty-odd years) and I
haven't contributed a single word to the Society for use in any of
their books or magazines. I don't go to the meetings anymore,
but I did attend faithfully from the mid-60s until about '95.
My comments on your post:
1. I arrive at the Kingdom Hall and the first thing I observe is that all the elders are chatting in little groups of two or three… I could also see elderly ones and young ones sitting alone with no-one speaking to them… I'm sure Jesus would have been available for these ones.
I'm sure you realize that elders see themselves as business people,
and the paperwork to which you refer is a tad more important than
the needy widows, orphans, and depressed souls that happen to be
in attendance. After all, these ones have all the encouragement they
need in the magazines and meeting parts. Their depression only
points to their lack of spirituality. All they need to do is study a bit
more and their depression would lift. So is the theology of the
management of the average Kingdom Hall. I have never been a
member of any hall in which the thinking and behavior of the elders
deviated very far from what you observed. It is part of the fabric -
not a stain. You will not be able to get it out.
2. I observed large number of cliques amongst the brothers…
3. Gossiping is quite a common thing in our congregation as is back-biting amongst the brothers…
the division of JW vs. "worldly"
is just the beginning of the divisive
thinking of the average Witness. Finer points of distinction are
constantly being made even among those within
congregation. You have "strong" and "weak", "in good standing",
"marked", "approved associate", etc. etc. All of these labels are
meant as motivational tools to get less-productive sellers to get off
their duffs and sell more, but the net result is what you saw/see at
the meetings, i.e. CLIQUES, FACTIONS, DIVISIONS, ENVIES,
BACKBITINGS. It would be unfair to hold the rank and file
members totally responsible for this pathetic, unkind, unChrist-like
behavior since this interest in who's doing 'the most' for Jehovah
and 'the kingdom' originates in Brooklyn.
4. Young brothers including some young ministerial servants engaging in quite un-spiritual talk in the midst of the congregation… Interestingly these ones are related to elders and are in the right clique so to speak! What hypocrisy!
I recall having many of those very same types of conversations!
Come playoff time during the NFL season or the NBA season, and
sports (or cars or even women) were OFTEN the topic of
conversation. (And, dare I admit it? Brothers gossip!! Some more
than others, but they DO gossip.) I don't have a problem with that. I
would be highly suspicious of anyone who talked constantly about
Jesus, Jehovah, the bible, the meetings or the org and never had
anything to contribute to everyday, real conversations. As far as the
servants being related to the elders, nepotism has been a fact of life
since ancient times. Surely you know that. That has been, is and
will always be a fact of life. Doesn't make it right. But there it is.
5. The meeting itself didn't seem to have any life in it…
Why would any thinking person expect anything different? I saw
one of the latest magazines (my wife is still a loyal JW) and the title
asked "Why Does God Permit Suffering?" or something like that. In
my lifetime, that topic has been addressed in the magazines, oh,
maybe 117 times. How many ways can you say the exact same
thing interestingly? I liken it to grade school. Once you have learned
the multiplication tables or your ABCs, it's time to move on and
learn other, more advanced things. First grade is fun only for so
long. To keep repeating anything HAS to be boring. The meetings
are boring and WILL BE boring for anyone who's been going to
them for any length of time. Get used to it because it's not going to
[blockquote]The masses . . . will lend their memories only to the thousandfold repetition of the most simple ideas. A change must never alter the content of what is being brought forth by propaganda, but in the end it always has to say the same. Thus the slogan has to be illuminated from various sides, but the end of every reflection has always and again to be the slogan itself."-Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler[/blockquote]
Having said this, I will play the devil's advocate and say many, if
not all, of these same things are experienced regardless of the brand
of religion. People are people. They gossip, form cliques, practice
and benefit from nepotism. Your number five, the horribly boring
meetings, might not be the case in many other religious groups,
only because the level of control is not as high. But with them there
may be other trade-offs that may make them less appealing to some.
It all depends on what you're looking for in a form of worship.
"If you like what you've been getting,
keep doing what you've been doing."