What I Observed Last Night At The Kingdom Hall
When I used to attend I was one of those sitting alone with no comfort. I'm not usually an outgoing person, but I thought "I'm in the house of God, spending quality time with other faithful believers of God's word. I should be accepted with open arms." How wrong I was. Whenever I would approach a group to join in conversation they would stop speaking, mumble a hello, and the group would break up only to regroup minutes later somewhere else. For years I put up with this since I kept going - glutton for punishment I guess.
stevieb, you are 100% correct.
In answer to your last questions I guess it depends on who's perspective you think is more credible. Some early Bible writers like Job and King David believed our destiny was solely shaped by God:
35 I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it.
In due time their feet will slip.
Their day of disaster will arrive,
and their DESTINY will overtake them.’
Deuteronomy 32:35 NLT
14So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my DESTINY. 15No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me.
Job 23:14 NLT
17 Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I thought about the DESTINY of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
Psalm 73:17, 18 NLT
24 You will keep on guiding me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious DESTINY.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
Psalm 73:24- 26 NLT
10Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your DESTINY.
Ecclesiastes 6:10 NLT
2The same DESTINY ultimately awaits everyone, whether they are righteous or wicked, good or bad,£ ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who take oaths are treated like people who don’t.
Ecclesiastes 9:2 NLT
23For you have defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your DESTINY! 24So God has sent this hand to write a message.
Daniel 5:23- 24 NLT
Even New Testement Christians believed God's unswerving hand keeps us on-track to a bright future:
3All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. 4For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. 6So be truly glad!£ There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.
1 Peter 1:3- 6 NLT
24And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. 25All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen.
Jude 1:24, 25 NLT
As for how we influence our reality I think that depends on what we choose to accept, like a JW refusing to review the society's history from "apostates" or an evolutionist refuseing to consider the VERY extreem probability of life and complex life just "popping" out of nowhere and nothing. We HAVE to be involved in creating our own reality otherwise we would not have freedom of will. We would then just be automatons. I believe this despite the observation that lifes matters seem to be uncontrollable. Well, these are my thoughts, such as they are. Be Well.
It's all so true, many congregations are alike . It makes me want to puke!
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 the
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."
What an upbeat observation you offer in your post!!! I just wish I were in your congo...I am in full agreement with your thoughts. I am a party of 1 and I try to make a difference and if I can't make a difference, I try to not allow the differences to change me.
Does this make sense?