Listening to the meetings from the perspective of a "newly interested" person?
Just wondering how many others (when you were still in the org) would try and listen to the meeting programmes from the perspective of a newly interested person visiting for the first time?
I know that I did this, and most times I did, I found it disturbing!
It was not just the "in-house" language and terminology that was odd, but also the actual doctrines, and method of 'teaching' that was odd!
I would wonder to myself "Why does a newly interested person actually sit through this and not find it strange, or just leave??"
You might ask why they are newly interested?
Nowadays "round my way" it's generally because they are vulnerable, lonely and miserable at best - or cuckoo, vulnerable, lonely and miserable at worst.
What appeals to these people is the interest shown in them, along with the "certainty" and the "love" from outwardly normal people.
So they sit through crap and soak it up. Some see through it, some leave and some surface at every crisis only to disappear again later.
In this day and time of social upheavals, I cringed when an elder was making a point about "our theocratic way of life." He said we have no "rights" in the congregation. I saw that from a newcomer's point of view and thought, "they'll never be back."
Now I realize that it's actually good when they say stupid stuff, while trying to sound wise. It gives people early warning.
I can remember one memorial about a decade back. The talk was given by an ultra quirky odd ball eccentric elder who used some REALLY offensive illustrations in the talk (note, he NEVER got assigned a memorial talk again after that)
A well educated and well known local accountant who happened to be a client of mine came along. (Not sure who invited him)
I saw his face throughout that talk. He was stunned. I listened to everything from his perspective...and I saw why he was shocked.
Afterwards, we talked briefly, and he couldn't get out quickly enough!
He never came again.
Many times I sat through a boring wt. Study and wondered if someone came in after attending a typical Church Sunday service and leave with a wtf was that?!
I think new converts are looking for something missing in their life and fall for the simplistic ideology and let their need for pat answers blind them to the weirdness.
Yeah I definitely did this and I'm certain it was instrumental in preparing me for eventually waking up. Paying attention from the perspective of someone that hasn't had the layers of thin explanations and scripture-hopping justifications for clearly controlling, restrictive, and poorly-justified doctrine left me with the realization that had I not been born a JW, there's no way that I would've ever converted to being one. Initially, I thought this lucky. Later I realized that if god is loving then such luck surely was either not deserved or ought to have been extended to everyone else like me that would never convert, but this was obviously not the case. I started to wonder often if maybe it was the case that I was unlucky to have been raised in a religion that otherwise would have failed to captivate my thoughts for even a moment.
I remember when I was one of the "interested persons."
I attended my first Watchtower study and was surprised by how mindless it was:
1. Study conductor reader a paragraph.
2. Study conductor asked a question from the bottom of the page.
3. Someone raised their hand and repeated what the paragraph said, basically word for word.
4. Study conductor praised the person.
5. Study person asked the next question from the bottom of the page.
It was cute watching little kids get excited when they got praised for giving the "right" answer, but I couldn't believe adults engaged in such a mindless process.
You know you're getting hooked when this type of study seems normal to you...
Very few "interested" people ever came along and those that did wouldn't really be of the type to notice much of the meeting , but were likely more to be affected by the "love bombing".
I recall a funeral when a solicitor came along who was handling the deceased ladies estate & the elder ( one of our poorer speakers ) stuck rigidly to the standard Society outline talk without much mention of the JW who had died. The solicitor shook his head a few times and looked a bit uncomfortable ( I was standing at the back of the KH ). Frankly - it was a bit of a car crash of a talk from a non JW observer point of view but as usual the congregation knew the score and took it all in.
I knew him slightly in a work context as he was engaged by the firm I worked for to do some legal work and a few weeks later we had the quarterly meeting with him and I got chatting to him afterward over a coffee.
He mentioned that he had seen me at Mrs Xs funeral and asked if how I knew the lady. I had hoped he hadn't seen me or wouldn't mention it , but had already anticipated the question and formulated a response. Like many JWs , I always tried to keep a very low JW profile at my work ( most people weren't even aware that I was a witness ) , so I just mumbled a reply to the effect that my wife was a JW and I knew Mrs X through that connection.
I said something like "I guess the JW service is a bit different from most churches" and he said "To be honest , that was the strangest church meeting that I have been to in 30 years of acting as an executor." I laughed a bit nervously and changed the subject. Most people probably wouldn't be so candid as the solicitor but I guess that would be a fairly typical impression from someone educated attending a JW meeting who wasn't familiar with JW procedures & beliefs.
I remember a pioneer sister who was very excited that one of her "studies" was going with her to a circuit assembly! It was a really big deal of course. When I later asked her what her "study" thought of the assembly, she looked so sad and confused as she said, "well, she STOPPED her study. She said the assembly was ALL NEGATIVE and full of don't do this and don't do that!!"
And I, a totally indoctrinated dubbie at the time, ALSO felt confused. I mean, after all, weren't our assemblies for our benefit and ENCOURAGEMENT, and the very best places to be to receive spiritual banquets from Jehovah of life-giving instruction & refreshment?? It was very confusing at the time how her study could view our assembly in such a negative light.
Of course, it is clear as day to me now!! Her study was very lucky to have gotten out before she even got in!