When did "The Last Days" of JW Organization Begin? Will This Generation See It End?
A growing discourse on this forum has been around what "the end" means.
As JWs, many here spent varying proportions of our lives waiting for the end when an unsettling realization was that the end that approaches is more likely to be from old age than the world's end.
Through the centuries, group after group, has claimed it has "inside" information on the end of the world, drawing in the desperate-for-comfort like moths to flames. My JW grandparents - all four - died waiting, my JW parents died waiting. The end they faced was their own deaths - for which they were ill-prepared.
Now we witness the trimming down of JW organization's "provisions" not because the end of the world approaches, but because the internet has eroded the need for the printed word. We witness dying zeal among the rank and file witnesses and we report with ongoing amazement the lame JW cart work in which JWs huddle together or disengage from the public by looking at their phones.
My question is mainly a fun one: What factor or factors have led to dying zeal in JW organization? I do not imply it is done and dusted; it isn't.
That said, something has changed in the organization. But when did that start? Can you pinpoint events and/or a year?
And, what will JW organization be like in November 2027?
The stage is yours.
What factor or factors have led to dying zeal in JW organization?
I think it is the "Chicken Little" or "Crying Wolf" effect. The WTS has been preaching that Armageddon is right around the corner (or, the sky is falling) for over 100 years. Most JWs that I know are NOT living like Armageddon is right around the corner. They do not see the preaching work as a "life saving" work because of the End Times being so near. It's just their social network. It's their Church. Maybe some or even most are "keeping one foot in the door" with a just-in-case mindset that IT MIGHT come. But, in my area, they are worried about pensions and kids going to college or getting good jobs. Many have built new homes. Most are just giving "token service", be it standing at a cart or "windshielding" (driving around for 2 hours on Sat morning).
10 years from now, there will be even more apathy among the rank & file JWs. There will still be plenty of JWs still in it for their network of friends and they will still be going through the motions and talking the talk. They will still be clinging on every disaster in the news (terrorist incident, natural disaster, stock market drop) as a SIGN OF THE END IS NEAR.
What DOC said, plus:
-- Continuing contempt of kids, women, gays, pretty much anyone not a JW elder or higher. This stands out as more and more out of touch with progressing human society, preventing "outside" recruits (who have more than a high school education) from joining
-- Brain drain - intelligence & creativity are castigated while stupidity and conformity are rewarded in the organization, leading to the current mess (e.g. 7 dull-witted simpletons "leading" the organization)
-- The Internet, not only for the wealth of irrefutable points which demonstrate the duplicity and fallacy of JW policy & doctrine, but also the ease of communication & support among those wronged by the WTS.
I have to agree with D.O.C. about the "Chicken Little" effect wearing thin when members declare that the sky is falling for over 100 years.
But somehow, Watchtower has been able to come through that before. Different this time is the 100 years anniversary of the beginning of the short time, and the age of Google for young ones. But a huge factor is the death of print.
The beginning of the end was abandoning of any urgency in the recruiting work. Regardless of what they say, the members see that it is unimportant to get literature into people's hands.
I agree with DOC & sir82.
from OP: something has changed in the organization. But when did that start? Can you pinpoint events and/or a year?
I think that many of us would agree that if a particular year is pinpointed, it's 1995. I was a super-dub, and, looking back, I think 1995 (probably really 1994) was the beginning of my waning zeal.
1994 was the very limit of the highly-mentioned "generation" doctrine of the time (1914 + 80). When it passed with no hint of the beginning of the GT, I started dying as a JW. Many say "1995" because that's when the Watchtower article came out officially changing the "generation" doctrine.
So, even though I feel it was really 1994 that should be viewed as the pivotal year, I'm going to say 1995 since that's when the Watchtower article appeared.
It just hasn't been the same since. Plus, as DOC mentioned, time is the enemy of JWs. The more it passes and the longer "this old system" remains, the more they look wrong; the more their failed predictions stand out.
sir82 mentioned "brain drain". That certainly is a factor. The org loses some brains as people like us wake up, but it's probably losing more to attrition. The older, smarter, more studious and analytical and knowledgeable JWs are growing old and dying, and if they're being replaced at all, it's with mostly simpletons.
The old, exciting, bold, confident feeling is just not there anymore. It's like the situation with the company I work for now. It's a relatively new company based on technology. It's only about fifteen years old. At first there was a really exciting atmosphere. We were the latest and greatest. We got nice gifts from the company, and it donated and spent money freely.
Now, there's an almost dreary mood. We peaked in 2013 and have been going down since. The company is pinching pennies. Upper managers are jumping ship. Just like with JWdom, it ain't the same.
I'm thinking that of the few smart, reasonable ones still remaining in JWdom, many will wake up and really start questioning in the next few years.
November 2027? Dumb and dumber. Only a few die-hards will remain. The org will be far more insignificant than it is now. Numbers will be smaller. I predict a downturn in numbers in the next few years (three?).
OnTheWayOut, sorry. I was trying to hit "like", but accidentally hit "dislike". I tried to correct it, but couldn't.
edited to add: Oh well, forget it; looks like the correction did take.
I think that many of us would agree that if a particular year is pinpointed, it's 1995.
Amazingly, I missed this significant shift until someone pointed it out to me more than 10 years later.
When did, "The Last Days" of the JW organization begin?
My vote would be 1995, with the poorly thought out adjustment to the term, "generation." It was clear at that point that the eschatology, including the great crowd doctrine itself was in the process of failing.
I think, too, that JW analysts and historians could view the early 80's (not sure about particular year) as a turning point. That's when the great apostate witch hunt took place and the org got really scared of research - esp in non-JW publications.
Before that, there were many JWs who loved to have deep discussions about prophecy, and they researched in non-JW publications. But then the crackdown came. The deeper discussions became more and more infrequent as those having them were accused of "speculation".
The crackdown became more and more severe as the org got to the point that it spoke negatively of learning original Bible languages and it started to even try to hide its own older publications and its history.
The org fears the light. It doesn't want its subjects to read and study. It fears exposure of its crazy history, faulty doctrine, and failed predictions. The situation resulting from that is a stale realm in which real thinking is suppressed and individuals are mere cogs in a wheel. The suppression of real learning and study and analysis on the parts of individual JWs has, I think, contributed to the increase of apathy in JW land.