Fascinating, Even to Me!
I found Hourglass2 Outpost, a forum "for Jehovah's Witnesses and interested ones", on the internet several years ago; as I recall, around November 1996. From that time on I have constantly seen references to Ray Franz's book, Crisis of Conscience. I never felt any compulsion to read the book, however, having concluded simply through discussion and reasoning on the well-documented evidence in their own writings that the WBTS was a sham. I just didn't feel like devoting as much of my time and attention as it would take to read an entire 400-page book divulging in meticulous detail the corruption rampant in that organization.
Recently, though, I decided to buy and read the book anyway. I purchased the third edition, published in 1999. This is evidently a fairly substantial rewriting of the original, published in 1983, because in it Franz notes damage control measures the society took after the first edition and how they attempted, after the fact, to put up a facade of candor by acknowledging some things that his book revealed. He also discusses certain claims made in the 1993 WBTS publication, Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, showing that they are lies and that hundreds of people who were eyewitnesses to the facts, including everyone on the governing body at the time of the book's publication, knew firsthand that they were lies.
I have just finished chapter four, "Internal Upheaval and Restructure." I want to say that I found this chapter fascinating and had to read it through without stopping. Although I have long known of the WBTS propensity for lying or, more often, for just attempting to convey a mistaken impression through carefully chosen weasel words, it never had occurred to me before that the entire concept of a governing body in modern times, as claimed by the society to have been overseeing kingdom interests in modern times, was a lie as well; that no such governing body existed in any recognizable form or wielded any authority before 1975. It is also an eye-opener to read the story of how the governing body came to have authority and power in the face of the anger and opposition of Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz, especially when Ray juxtaposes those events with the description of them in society literature as smoothly occurring "progressive improvements."
If you've been mildly curious about this book but haven't bothered with it because you're out and free, then I just want to suggest that you give it a read anyway. It's fascinating. I'm very glad that I decided to go ahead with it. If you're aware of the corruption of the organization but are still in due to family, you might prefer to skip it, however... it'll just spotlight and amplify the filth you're wallowing in.
I agree, I had the book within 4 days of ordering it from Amazon.
I read my sister's copy. She also sent "In Search of Christian Freedom." I was hesitant about starting another heft tome by Ray Franz, but it is equally fascinating.
I'll give each book my thumbs-up!
To those who aren't sure whether they should read it or not, I suggest to buy it anyway, and then when your curiosity gets the better of you, read just one or two chapters. Put it down, digest the info and read a few more.
Or if you're like me, you won't be able to put it down!
I agree 100% COMF. I won't attribute the change in me (after 4 decades of being a true believer in the WTS being the ONLY true religion) to just reading the "Crisis" book, but it sure was a significant turning point for me.
I had many things nagging away at me for years but always shrugged them off as my own weakness, lack of faith and study, or selfishness in not enjoying time in the service.
When I started to have some serious doubts stemming from not being able to agree on the benefits of rejection of family members or of any who were mistreated who were df'd or da'd but I won't go into a lot of detail here.
Anyway....as I said the "Crisis" book was a definite turning point for me. I had NO knowledge (like you said), and as I'm sure most of the general JW members, of the inner workings of the GB, the inner squabbles, the 2/3rd majority vote nonsense, or of the lies and coverups, the witch hunts,the double standards for countries, the deliberate mistranslation of some scriptures, the coverup of the 607 lie, etc. etc.
All these things were a completely opposite picture I had been given of a GB who is directed in all decisions by God's holy spirit and were only dispensing love and concern and knowledge for us poor, floundering sheep.
Reading the book was actually very difficult for me because of the lack of knowledge I just mentioned. I remember reading a chapter and having to get up and pace, cry, going back to read more, get up and pace and cry more. My whole foundation I had based my entire life on, just crumbled away and I just felt empty.
Tha foundation, the whole basis for my faith, had been grounded on the Gentile Times prophecy bringing us to the 1914 date of the last days and armageddon to come within that generation. It had been pounded into me at a ripe age and as the W81 said, belief in that teaching was essential to all JWs. So I did and felt so proud we understood its meaning.
With these and all the others things opening my eyes, I feel a great gratitude for having all of it brought out in the open in such a logical, informative, caring,non-judgemental way.
I too would recommend reading it for the sake of finding out all the details of all that has been hidden from us for so long.
I strongly suggest a few other books:
The Sign of the Last Days: When? by Carl Olof Jonsson. This completely debunks the WTS's views on "the last days" as seen in its tradition of "the composite sign of the times". For anyone with a lingering tinge of fear that maybe the WTS is right after all about "the end is coming Real Soon Now", this is an excellent read.
The Gentile Times Reconsidered by Carl Olof Jonsson. This completely debunks the WTS's "1914 chronology", and with it, the claims of JW leaders to have been appointed by God to a position of spiritual authority in 1919, or at any other time. The first chapter gives an excellent brief account of the history of the Millerite movement and the various Adventist-related sects that sprung from it, such as the Bible Students.
In Search of Christian Freedom by Raymond Franz. This gives a solid theological basis for proving that a good deal of Watchtower tradition is out to lunch, and is based on the hypocritical notion of demanding complete freedom of thought and religion from others while denying it to those in JW leaders' care.
Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses by James Penton. The best currently available history of JWs.
As the W81 said, belief in that teaching was essential to all JWs.--Had Enough
Please point out exactly where in the "W81" it says/shows that belief in the "Gentile Times prophecy" is "essential to all JWs."
my book is the second edition. Looks like I need to pick up the third. Thanks for the info.
I've read all of these books, and more. I went through a reading frenzy stage at the point after I left where I was brave enough to find out the facts. All excellent books.
I didn't read Crisis of Conscience until I had already been out for several months - I knew there were problems with doctrine, and organizational problems, and plenty of other things, which was why I left. But reading it took away all of the last shreds of lingering little doubts that maybe, even with all of its flaws, the organization still had something to it (else why would I have believed in it so long?).
It was such a relief, to realize it was just a bunch of men muddling their way through convoluted doctrines and practices, making colossal blunders (the Malawi/Mexico thing was just absurd), and generally showing no signs of being "spirit-directed".
It was also kind of sad to read... Ray Franz was disfellowshipped the day I was born, and wrote his book not long after. In the time since, my mom was lured in, I grew up in the organization, believed in it, got baptized, got disillusioned, and left. When's it ever going to stop?
Alan, I also read all of those books you mentioned. I couldn't put them down. In fact, the first year I spent so much time just sitting and reading I gained 10 lbs! But this information comes in useful. I haven't helped very many get free (except my husband and one other close friend) but I have helped quite a few people who have been interested in the JW's to see the organization for what it really is! Some of these were well on their way toward baptism! Like they say, it's much easier to keep someone out of a cult than it is to get them out once they've joined. But these books provided GREAT ammunition. And they helped me to see exactly what I was choosing to leave behind. And what I am choosing to fight against!