For those of you with personal experiences with the GB...
Let me start off by saying that I am fully and utterly through with the JWs from both a logical and emotional point of view. I'm happy and content in my decision to leave. But one thing that I find very curious is the personalities of the GB members themselves. It seems as if most of the members here view all of the GB as being these vicious, money-grubbing, conceited, pedophile protecting, vile creatures interested in nothing but their own power. Just look at the thread about Milton Henshcel's death (sorry people, some of the comments were of horrendous taste and utterly immature).
Funny thing is, I don't see that. I have had almost no personal experiences with any GB members, but I have read CoC, heard stories (some believable, some not), been at assemblies where I've heard them first-hand. It seems that most of them are genuine people who actually believe they are doing the right thing. Cruzanheart (I believe) said they had personal experiences with Henschel and T. Jaracz as a child and wholeheartedly like the former and did not like the latter.
In my limited experience it seems that Jaracz is the only one that I have serious reservations about in terms of his personality. He was the guest speaker for a few assemblies we had (we always had him for some reason) and I have heard reports from very reliable people. I'm not saying he is a Stalin or anything, but the unanimous and striking opinion seems to be that the guy just isn't very nice -- at all.
In his talks he seemed stern, condescending and heavy-handed (in contrast to someone like Dan Sydlik who everybody liked). Unlike other special speakers, he was nowhere to be found after the day's talks. He didn't talk to a soul. I found this very disturbing. My brother-in-law, former Bethelite and current super-elder, gave a couple experiences about TJ that I viewed with great suspicion. One was a morning worship in which he meant to say "seminaries" but, perhaps through a Freudian slip, said "cemetaries." He smiled and quipped, "Well, I guess they will be cemetaries pretty soon!" this to a barrage of laughter. After breakfast my brother-in-law was talking to a long-time Bethelite about how "funny" this was. The Bethelite (who evidently had served there for years) said that this was "the first time I've ever seen Bro. Jaracz laugh." Seriously. Wow. That's a small thing, but I think it kind of shows how serious (twisted, perhaps?) this man is.
So my question is to all of you former Bethelites and others who have had personal contact with the GB: what are your stories? Who seemed pleasant and genuine? Who didn't? I've noticed that CO's and especially DO's gravitate to a little "click" of long-time "heavies" -- brothers with much experience who are "above" the rest of the r and f. Did you also notice this about the GB? Please, no humerous bashing or sensational stories that are probably not true.
Bradley, The only one I ever met personally was Dan Sydlik, he gave a dedication talk in the late eighties for the kingdom hall I grew up in. He was warm and seemed friendly to everyone whether they were an elder or publisher. He seemed amused by the brothers trying to kiss up to him. That's the impression he gave me, don't know if he's changed. - Victorian Sky
I have to take issue with your characterization of people's comments re: Uncle Miltie's death as inappropriate. Allow me to explain:
Some of us here were raised as JWs. Some of us watched our families fall apart because of "the trooth". I lost my father when I was eight because my newly converted zealous Dub mother was insufferable and not at all submissive to her unbelieving Catholic husband. I lost my grandparents, my aunts, ny uncles, and my cousins because they all rejected my mother's cult. I didn't have the option of rejecting it until I had spent my entire youth being indoctrinated with the dogma of "this evil world" that was taught by Milton Henchel and his cohorts. I had no friends in school because they were all evil, every god-damned (literally) one of them was slated to be bird food after Armageddon came - and it was due, as always, "any day now." I was discouraged from getting an education because of the emphasis on the "lifesaving" preaching work that had to be accomplished.
Maybe your experience with the JWs was idyllic, but for many it certainly was not. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't enough beer in the world to supply all the piss I have for the graves of Knorr, Franz, Henshel and soon, very soon, I hope, Jaracz.
"THIS Bud's for YOU, Teddy! Hurry up and die!"
My experiences with the JWs was far from "idyllic." I too was raised a JW, have lost all my family (save my JW mother) and friends except for one. My sister thinks I am brain-washed and I probably will never see my grandparents (in their 90's) in good standing again. I wen't through a tremendous depression both as a JW (for many reasons) and in leaving. I have felt the sting of a judicial committee as well as the pain in having to restart my life in my mid-twenties, starting off in college when I should be done with my Master's degree. The JWs have caused much harm in my life mentally, emotionally and even financially.
At the same time, I must be reasonable in my viewpoint of the Society and individuals in it. I stand by my statement in another post that to compare the WTS to Hitler's Nazis is profoundly ridiculous. Both groups are quite mistaken and have caused harm, but there is a continuum of evil and the Nazis are on one end and the JWs plotted far, far from them (although, in their own way, they are both evil). I will not take the black/white, either/or mentality with me as an ex-JW that I had as a JW. Henschel was a sadly mistaken person who was duped into believing a system of worship that has good aspects as well as bad aspects. He might have concentrated on the more noble traits of JWs (I think that I tried to be loving as a JW) while gulping down the foul parts. Or, maybe he should have known better. I don't know.
What I do know is that when I was researching the JWs in the early stages of my doubts, sites like this scared the hell out of me. I thought that "apostates" have a good point about some things, but seem so perverse and tactless about other things. Could they truly be misled by Satan? I pondered this and I think I did for good reason (of course, I don't even believe in a Devil anymore). I think that a reasoned, balanced approach to the Society, recognizing their good qualities while criticizing their more perverse and illogical ways, will save more people from this sometimes destructive sect. Logic and clear thinking got me out of the WTS, not degrading "shock-jock-like" antics.
Of course, in private I think some of this is humerous. But proclaiming that someone will urinate and deficate on a man's dead face is not funny -- it shows a lack of restraint from our more perverse tendencies. (This is nothing against you or anybody, just an honest observation)
You will get no "humorous bashing" from me. Everyone has some good in them. Even the men of the GB -- who are insane. The first factor in their insanity is their attempt at the humanly impossible: to truly and honestly love a god (an idea of God) who will kill you if you don't. What is threatening to destroy you, can not be loved, as it goes against the very nature of love. To continually strive to do so eventually bankrupts the morals and soul. Second, in regards the GB, is the propensity for theological fascism and egomania. Like Hitler the GB believe they are Gods right hand, and there is no truth outside of their way. Those who go against it are condemned to death. Hitler's executions were a little more direct than the GB's disfellowshipping, which in their eyes amounts to the same thing....death. These men are lost in a world that their tiny little minds have created, and they can not see or comprehend outside of it. There are people locked up in insane asylums with more connection to reality than these men. Yet, they are still human and may show some degree of love and compassion for their own, as I'm sure Hitler also did....but so what? If we scourered the globe I'm sure we could come up with a thread a mile long of factual nice-stories about the men of the GB...and they would still be the governing principle and catalyst behind the spiritual, emotional and physical abuse of millions of people....destroyers of families and friendships. Hitler must have smiled when given the latest tallies of those killed in the cleansing. As the GB and many of the members smile and rejoice when speaking of Armageddon and the deaths of billions, in their cleansing. Is the comparison with Hitler, really so "profoundly ridiculous"? JamesT
Milty is now one less evil man who can now never, ever endorse and/ or sign his evil name to WT PROPOGANDA that get's approved for printing and thusly distributed as 'fine spiritual food in due season' to unsuspecting WORLDLY PEOPLE, that they hate and wish death upon already, on a daily basis.
You don't think some of us are Aware! of what the secret prayers of these goddamn bastUrds (GB) are to their evil jehovah??
Thwy all get what they gave in this lifetime....DEATH!
My yearning for Teddy is torture though. Sheer persecution like he's never experienced before. (Now i lay me down to sleep, i pray the lord teds soul to REST IN PIECES (shattered)...A-MEN!)
Two Popes died within a short span of each other while I was at Bethel and I remember being slightly offended at the jokes and snickering. Henschel visited an "Elder's School" in Philadelphia in the 70's, I think, that my grandfather attended and my grandfather kept repeating (ad nauseum) one of his "excellent" teaching suggestions. He said, How would you answer someone who asks you if the Pope is going to die at Armageddon? Answer: You'd say, "He'll get what he deserves." then, for good measure, "...yup...He'll get what he deserves..ha ha.." (repeat 10 times as if expecting laughter to build up again on the back 9). These days, I don't see the GB as much different than the Pope, and the Pope John Paul looks to be in pitiful shape right now. I don't wish death on him, either.
So my question is to all of you former Bethelites and others who have had personal contact with the GB: what are your stories? Who seemed pleasant and genuine? Who didn't? ...[cut] "above" the rest of the r and f. Did you also notice this about the GB? Please, no humerous bashing or sensational stories that are probably not true.
Any of us who were Bethelites mostly judged their personalities from listening to them give the breakfast comments through the week. Sometimes you'd hear an out-of-place comment or a direct contradiction of something someone said the week before. You'd notice an agenda now and then, but for the most part we were just oblivious to what we were hearing. It was mostly just proof that they could ad-lib the Watchtower jargon.
I started Bethel under Knorr, and we all suffered his pain and humiliation as a brain tumor turned him slowly into a bawling child who was afraid to die. It seemed odd, because to me at the time, it seemed like he was afraid to go to heaven. Before then, Knorr was indistinguishable from a businessman, but more like a seriously grumpy manager than a CEO. Except for FWFranz the GB members never really let their own personalities stand out until after NHK died.
I started working with George Gangas' as part of my first real job at Bethel ('76). He was good-natured, seemed gruff, but was actually very humorous. You could get to know him and like him. I don't know if the visiting Bethel sisters noticed it much, but he acted very giddy around them, as if he was flirting. (I'm not talking teen-agers, but anyone under 45 was game.) He knew a lot of jokes. I'm not trying to say anything to ruin his reputation; to me these things were endearing.
He translated Greek Wt articles, and I redrew the pictures around the type, redrew color pages so they would print better in b&w, created some Greek type fonts to better match what we were doing in English, and recreated all the English "specialty titles" in Greek. I had been trying to learn NT Greek for years, and George always told me that it was 85% the same as modern Greek. He made no secret that he was on the NWT "Translation Committee" but his knowledge of NT Greek was almost non-existent. In fact, it could have been his age, but he was often wrong with spelling and accents of modern Greek. I caught enough of them that Dean Songer asked me if I'd take a few days in Athens to help the Branch set up their own mini pre-press operation. The branch was like a mom-and-pop printing shop. They knew all about the "funny little man who couldn't translate all that well" but they were proud of him (but still anxious to set up a process that didn't need him anymore.)
I put Booth in the same category as Gangas. He was a sweetheart. (He was also the only GB member that went up to Chris and Norma S anchez when they were DF'd in '80 and he actually hugged them and cried with them.) Neither Booth or Gangas were ever very original with explanations of Wt doctrine. They believed it, I'm sure, but mostly they just had lots of stories and experiences to share that they had picked up over the years. John was not the kind to pick up a newspaper about world events and say, see, this proves the prophecies to be true. I don't think they cared about prophecy.That was FWF's job. John knew the Scriptures fairly well. You could tell he had read the NT as if it really applied to him and that he had a kind of inner peace about him. I always thought he was one of the few examples of what being "of the anointed" meant. He was sometimes given a report to announce about a Bethel dismissal for theft or homosexuality. He just seemed dumbfounded, as if he was personally hurt that people could act like this, but not judgemental.
Seemed quiet. Focused. Serious. I thought he was a clear-headed speaker. He made sure his reasons were very clear for any experience he told. His little talks in the moring seemed better prepared as if they were little instruction talks he had written, complete with a conclusion that wrapped things up neatly. It bothered me a little that even his humor seemed prepared, although I must say he delivered it well. He always reminded me of the the double personality some of these men had to have. Their niceness among the Bethel "tourists" and among their own congregations could have been either rehearsed or natural, you'd never really know. But it wouldn't surprise you to hear that they were capable of cold, calculating, callous machinations. I don't believe I ever said a word to him in 4 years.
That's all I'll put anyone through for now. I'm curious if others agree with these assessments. The only other ones whom I had any personal acquaintance with were Albert Schroeder, Dan Sydlik and Lyman Swingle. I went to see Fred Franz a couple times to tape an interview, and I went to him once with his weekly "sauna" disciples -- but only once. (If anyone knows about the sauna fawners, I don't have to tell you why I never went went back. It was like a group of adoring fans, mostly just wearing towels, hanging on his every word. It wasn't sexual, but it was still a turn-off for a young homophobe, as I was then.)
I hope I avoided the humorous, bashing, sensationalist, and unbelievable stories. I can save them for later. .
Very interesting. Thank you for your assesment and information. What years were you at Bethel, by the way?
: ... one thing that I find very curious is the personalities of the GB members themselves. It seems as if most of the members here view all of the GB as being these vicious, money-grubbing, conceited, pedophile protecting, vile creatures interested in nothing but their own power. Just look at the thread about Milton Henshcel's death (sorry people, some of the comments were of horrendous taste and utterly immature).
It's true that a lot of people give that impression. While there is a certain amount of exaggeration in such characterizations, and sometimes a lot of it, there is some truth behind the accusations. Sometimes the accusations are more corporate than personal. The GB men preside over an organization that often seems to overstep the bounds of propriety to the extent that the GB men, if judging exactly the same conduct by the leaders of other religions, would condemn it in the strongest of terms. So, while these men appear to be personally fine, decent men, when it comes to their Watchtower corporation, they wink at or ignore conduct that they would condemn in any other organization. It is this hypocrisy that gets them accused of all manner of wrongdoing.
Let me give you an example from my own personal experience with GB member Albert Schroeder. I first met Schroeder around 1980, when he visited my parent's home on Long Island and I happened to be visting at the same time. I was in college at MIT taking engineering courses at the time, and was feeling mighty depressed at the Society's constant ranting against college-goers. I had often expressed my exasperation to my parents, and so they suggested that I and Schroeder chat a bit about it. To my great surprise, Schroeder told me that he had gone to college for mechanical engineering in the 1930s, but had opted out and gone to Bethel instead. The bottom line about my exasperation was that I shouldn't pay attention to the negativity in WTS publications but should do what was right for me. I was pretty happy with that for a time. During the next few years, especially after graduation, I realized that his advice was purely his personal opinion and had nothing to do with the reality that the Society was strongly discouraging JWs from doing precisely what Schroeder told me was perfectly fine. So the corporate hypocrisy was blatantly clear.
Many years later, I began seriously to research WTS publications and I found an incredible amount of misrepresentation, misleading and gross incompetence. I discussed small portions of this with my (as I ultimately realized, braindead) parents and, after some discussion with another highly respected relative, they arranged with Schroeder that I would call him on a Sunday in late November, 1993. I ended up talking with him for about 2 1/2 hours. I told him a number of things that surprised and even shocked him, about ridiculous material that appeared in WTS publications. For example, I told him that the Creation book contained a good deal of material borrowed, and even plagiarized, from the writings of the paranormalist writer Francis Hitching (who wrote books such as The Neck of the Giraffe and Dowsing: The Psi Connection). He asked me to send him some material that explained and proved my claims, and I offered to send him a lot more besides, so that he could evaluate it and decide what to do. I sent him about 50 pages worth of comments and photocopies. I told my parents about all this, and then waited. Come summer, 1994, I still hadn't heard from Schroeder, and my parents informed me that he was very busy with assembly arrangements and so forth. By August I was getting pretty antsy about not getting the promised reply, and so, after finding that I was to go on a business trip to New York in September, I called Schroeder and asked him what he was doing about replying to my material. He hemmed and hawed, and finally claimed that he hadn't had enough time to read it over. So I suggested that we meet in September and in the meantime he could fulfill his promise and deal with the material. He refused to meet with me, but said that I could call him at his office on Saturday morning (this proved to be about the middle of September). I called, and spoke to Schroeder for about 45 minutes. It turned out that he had read my material after all, but did not want to deal with any of it. I asked him why he refused to fulfill his promise to answer my questions. He said that the Society had better things to do with its time than answer the sort of questions I had posed. I immediately concluded that, since my questions were not only sincere, but that the lack of an answer proved that the Society was comprised of a bunch of gross liars and hypocrites, he simply did not want to deal with the facts, and so he was just as much a liar as the rest of them. At one point during this discussion I pointed out the passage in Luke 21:8, which condemns anyone who proclaims, "the time is at hand", and asked Schroeder how the Society escaped that condemnation. He hemmed and hawed, but I persisted. Finally he said something like, "You're not going to let this go until I answer you, are you!" I said no. He replied, "That scripture can't apply to us, because we're God's people!" I immediately thought that this was a fine illustration of the sort of Orwellian mindset the JWs were into, since they could condemn anyone else for violating the spirit of Luke 21:8, but they were self-blinded when it came to the scripture's clear application to themselves. This experience was the absolute final straw for me, in the sense that it made me realize with stunning clarity the hypocrisy and self-serving nature of the Watchtower Society and the men who run it, and that it was futile to think that mere logical discussion could affect them.
Another corporate breach of morality by the Governing Body men can be seen in how they handled the child molestation case of GB member Leo Greenlees in 1984. Various internet posters during the 1990s posted stories about Greenlees' apparent homosexuality, and his inappropriate behavior with young boys. I investigated and found that Greenlees was removed from the GB in late 1984 for molesting a 10 year old boy. The boy's parents brought charges against Greenlees to the Society. The GB formed a judicial committee, and unbelievably, found Greenlees repentant. They forced him to resign from the GB, but he ended up as a special pioneer in California and later, Louisiana. He died in the late 1980s in Louisiana. Now think about this: Greenlees had committed statutory rape of a young boy, and yet the GB never reported this to the appropriate secular authorities. Why not? Obviously because they wanted to keep the entire sorry episode under wraps, in order to "protect Jehovah's name". But whose name were they really protecting? God's? Not hardly. God's name is not besmirched by the sordid antics of a Leo Greenlees. They were protecting their own name, the name of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion and of the Watchtower Society. A more sorry example of corporate ass-covering would be hard to find.
: Funny thing is, I don't see that. I have had almost no personal experiences with any GB members, but I have read CoC, heard stories (some believable, some not), been at assemblies where I've heard them first-hand. It seems that most of them are genuine people who actually believe they are doing the right thing.
To a large extent, you're right. But think of the kind of self-deception that must go on for a person like Albert Schroeder to ignore fact after fact after fact, and moral breach after moral breach by prominent WTS officials like Leo Greenlees, and yet keep up the pretense that the JW organization is not only approved by, but actually directed, by God! These men may be genuine in a sense, but in another they are genuinely amoral, grossly incompetent as spiritual shepherds, and no more capable of giving proper Christian direction than is Saddam Hussein. Their decades of toadying Bethel service has seen to that.
: Cruzanheart (I believe) said they had personal experiences with Henschel and T. Jaracz as a child and wholeheartedly like the former and did not like the latter.
I've heard similar things about these men personally. I have yet to hear anything good about Jaracz, except perhaps that he's a true believer sort of fanatic who really believes the nonsense he spouts. He's about the only older GB member who has consistently gone out in personal field service over the years, which should tell you something about his level of committment, despite his insanity. But Jaracz is often called "The Boss" by Bethelites, and is feared by them. He has one personality for outsiders, and like Jekyl and Hyde, quite another for insiders. Today Jaracz is far and away the most powerful GB member, and has managed to get men to his liking appointed to the GB in recent years.