Everybody loves Raymond

by Saintbertholdt 73 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Wulf

    No need to apologise; you raise some good questions. But I interpret the changes he was involved in as precisely the struggle. The late period you refer to is when he had basically already lost and the org started recoiling from the changes he had been pushing for. To me, that invalidates your argument that he was fighting for a high position (in the meretricious sense) in the late 70s.

    Ok I really will disappear now ;)

  • Saintbertholdt

    Well Wulf allow me to retort,

    Ok I really will disappear now :wink:

    Yeah well I get the last word then, don't I? :)

    "The late period you refer to is when he had basically already lost and the org started recoiling from the changes he had been pushing for."

    Compare the James Book to In search of Christian freedom. The ideas expressed are basically parallel regarding reliance on conscience instead of an organization with a Talmud. This was Raymonds first attempt at a real doctrinal shift and happened post 1975. The changes in the early 70s (as you pointed out) were organizational and regarding those organizational changes as you well know the GB changes of the two thirds stuck and so did the committees. Raymond was never after the Presidency (if you may have thought that was my argument), he was after his uncle's position as chief theologian. Why did he feel he could do so? Because after 1975 he could reasonably raise the specter of 1914. But he didn't challenge the 1914 date directly (that was left for the bethelite discussions in the backroom), instead he focused on his main theological point: Christian conscience supersedes an organizations authority.

    So I believe that Raymond's late GB period was his actual battle because it was a struggle for theological control of and to give a new direction to the organization.

  • steve2

    Again Saintbertholdt, your take on Ray's pre-leaving "strategy" (my word, not yours) is fascinating. I had never thought of it beforehand - but it makes a lot of sense.

    On the question of motives we could spin this out for ever and a day. However, it would always come back to this question: Whose motives under those circumstances would ever be entirely altruistic or selfish, to use two loaded poles?

    The organization itself portrays any who deviate from the official line in entirely negative terms. Reactivity on our part has us protesting, saying, "To the contrary, we have the sincerest of motives". And on it goes.

    Yet, it would be closer to actuality to acknowledge that no one ever has "pure" motives, either in the organization following the party line, or at various stages of withdrawal.

    There are no saints on the outside and, for that matter, no evil machinations inside. There are only ever humans, doing their darndest to get their needs met in a way that tries to minimize the likelihood of being badly misunderstood by those who count.

    And there is always more than a tad of personal pride - that dreaded P word - that protects all players, whether seated on the GB, among the rank and file, or on the outskirts - that has eveyone nailing their colors to the mast...or looking up to those who have done so.

    Because I never "followed" Ray - my athiesm is proof of that - I can read about the man and not get overly caught up in the need to defend him. Yet, I can also frankly acknowledge a part of me that is susceptible to admiring mavericks, and in my view, Ray, warts and all, was one of the best.

  • Saintbertholdt

    Hi steve2,

    There are only ever humans, doing their darndest to get their needs met in a way that tries to minimize the likelihood of being badly misunderstood by those who count.

    You're absolutely right about people and motives. I would say that Franz had altruistic motives and personal motives and when one looks at his life or anyone else one must neither exclude one or the other (as you pointed out). What I also have to point out is how people who are heroes, eventually become icons, then "saints", and finally demigods.

    An interesting counterpoint to me is a phenomena like YouTube. Have you ever noticed that even the greatest most brilliant, popular and/or insightful videos will always at least have one down vote? (Due to the unrestricted audience) Actually I smile when I see at least one opinion of damnation and then wonder: Who would actually have down voted this? What could they possibly have disagreed with or thought was so wrong? In the end it shows me that I'm still living and alive on planet earth and that diverse opinions must always exist in a society that wants to be healthy. Now I have to say that in the past I've actually never come across a Raymond Franz "down vote" on any of the threads on the forum. So when I saw Vinmans thread it bothered me that I had never even considered a critical evaluation of Franz, and so I had to offer the second down vote.

  • Mad Irishman
    Mad Irishman

    Ray Franz was a man like any other man. He had good virtues and he had not so good virtues.

    I met Ray Franz and Ed Dunlap more than once in private social settings. Ed wasn't the brightest bulb, but very kind and very sincere. He never wanted to be outside of the JW world. He just wanted everyone inside it to believe the few points of emphasis he believed, which, believe me, he was relating to everyone he came in contact with. I remember he was very high on believing there was no scriptural basis for everyone who was a JW to go out in field service. It was a conscience matter to him.

    Both Ray Franz and Ed Dunlap felt how they interrupted the Bible was correct; just as their adversaries did. Ray wanted more of the limelight in that he wanted to be the "go-to guy" on the GB just as you have guessed. Most men in his position would have wanted the same because he was in the trenches doing the work but it was all behind the scenes. He resented that. That's understandable--right or wrong. I've worked for project managers where I have accomplished a task and they have taken credit for it. It's not the best feeling to say the least.

    Did Ray Franz plan ahead, or at least think of planning ahead, when things started to look like they may go down a rabbit hole? Nobody can know for sure without the evidence to prove it; a note in a journal or a letter of correspondence to someone. He didn't seem to want a fight, but he did take everything he needed if he got pushed too far. Remember, he was dealing with family and lifelong friends, so he may not have wanted to go the route he evidentially did in the beginning. It looks like he was prepared for a fight, but we don't know if it was for a different fight he never had to face; and then he decided to use his knowledge and correspondence to write his book. I would hazard a guess that he took whatever document-wise as a defense for any challenge he faced with the GB.

    All anyone can do is make an educated guess. He was like most men who were in the upper echelons of power. He was full of hubris and needed to prove he was right. Sometimes that is good. Sometimes it isn't. The judgment of a man's character is up to each individual.

  • Simon

    We all have the luxury of *not* having a snapshot of our thinking and reasoning kept for prosperity in a book. Heck, I look back at posts I've made and don't feel the same way anymore or have changed my position on some issues.

    Was Franz perfect? Of course not and expecting him to be is unrealistic.

    He changed dramatically but there will always be someone saying "not enough". Maybe his opinions changed more after he'd published his books. Only those who know him very well could really say.

    But the fact that he was willing to speak out and put so many things on record that we otherwise wouldn't know is incredibly valuable and has benefited many people who've been helped out of the WTS as a result.

    I think criticism of him and his motivations can go too far.

  • slimboyfat
    Absolutely Ray Franz made a power play, I've never read it as anything else. He would argue he wanted to liberalise the Witnesses. In many ways he did. He was largely responsible for the GB taking over from the president and elders taking over from the congregation servant. He never got to do the rest of what he wanted because his uncle got fed up with him and put a stop to it.
  • Las Malvinas son Argentinas
    Las Malvinas son Argentinas
    You are confusing Ewart Chitty with Leo Greenlees. Chitty left in 1979 and Ray served on his judicial committee. All he says is that Chitty was asked to resign by the GB and he did so afterwards. Perhaps he felt that this was a personal and private affair and he'd be a hypocrite in criticising the JW policy of judicial committees if he were to tell all about Chitty. Besides, what narrative is he going to further just by saying Chitty was gay? Greenlees resigned in 1984, after Ray was expelled and after the first release of CofC. In later editions Ray just said Greenlees resigned and that was it. It's likely he heard the reason through the Bethelite gossip network but wasn't about to put out second-hand information in his book. Besides, I think Greenlees was one of the more liberal members of the GB alongside Swingle, Ray and Sydlik.
  • JWdaughter

    Even now we talk of how it would be interesting if some real reform happened within the org. Reform often requires a revolution. Someone's gotta be Luther.

    Ray was no dummy. I think the whole story would be interesting as he hints at more in c.o.c., but I'm glad he was bright enough to cover his hiney.

  • Saintbertholdt

    Hi there Las Malvinas son Argentinas,

    You are absolutely correct. I had actually looked up the quotation in Crisis of Conscience, but as these things happen, in a very bad case of confirmation bias I replaced Chitty with Greenlees. I can only say that I did not do it on purpose. In my desire to 'get' something on Franz I actually mixed up the two individuals. I only realized what I had done when you made your post.

    In my defense the original post was just meant to stir up some polemic regarding Franz.

    I mean how do blacken someone who was by all accounts a good man with a good conscience?

    Its a damn difficult task. And after all my efforts Franz still comes out smelling like a rose.

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