A question JWs almost never ask, but should

by slimboyfat 37 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • slimboyfat

    It occurs to me, if I was starting from scratch choosing a religion or belief system to join, there's one good question I should like answered first:

    Does this religion promote a way of life and view of the world that would be satisfying even if not a single word of its doctrines are true?

    If JWs honestly answered that question I doubt many would say it's a good choice. Yet other religions and belief systems probably could pass that test. In fact I read a book, "Good and Bad Religion" by Peter Vardy, that encourages such a practical evaluation of religion on that basis. He asks whether the religion promotes freedom, creativity, compassion and so on. JWs must score very poorly on all these.


    This approach to evaluating JWs and religion generally is much more productive that merely an evaluation of whether the doctrines are "true".

  • cofty

    I think in their own minds they would pass that test with flying colours.

    It all depends on what you count as a virtue. They obsess about their version of neutrality, love, unity, lack of racial boundaries, sexual purity, avoidance of war, honesty, obedience etc.

  • slimboyfat

    I'm thinking of the many JWs who say: "I'd love to learn violin, I'll do it in the new system". Or are interested in politics or animal welfare or whatever, but put it aside because the "end" is coming soon.

    Having children, education, a love life at all if you are gay, travelling the world ("in the new system we'll travel the world by yacht" heard that one?), pursue an art or craft. Often pushed aside for "the sake of the kingdom".

    JW ideology inhibits a good life now. Some other religions are actually capable of promoting a good life not hindering it.

    On some level JWs are aware that being a JW is a recipe for a miserable life here and now. They accept it because they think there is better to come.

  • cofty

    Yes but it promises an abundance of those benefits any day now.

    If somebody believes those promises then the temporary sacrifices are logical.

    So we are back at the question of whether or not the religion is objectively true.

  • Phizzy

    I think the key words in your O.P are " honestly answered that question".

    Their first reaction is the propaganda they have had drilled in to them that it is the "best way of life".

    I have had JW's tell me that even if it isn't true, they believe it to be the best way of life.

    Of course their thinking is totally wrong. There are much better ways to spend your life.

    I still think it is an excellent question to ask SBF, as it saves getting mired in doctrinal discussion which I do not think is ever worth it with entrenched JW's.

  • Vidiot

    Phizzy - "I have had JW's tell me that even if it isn't true, they believe it to be the best way of life."

    To which I'd be inclined to respond with...

    "...Having to constantly supress one's own interests, aptitudes, and passions for the hope of a future utopia is... 'the best way of life'?"

    "...Living in quiet fear of being ostracized by everyone you know if they ever found out you don't think precisely the way you're required to think is... 'the best way of life'?"

    "...Waiting with bated breath for an extinction-level-event to wipe out over 95% of the human race is... 'the best way of life'?"

  • David_Jay

    When I joined the JWs in the 1980s, it definitely was not because I felt they would make life more satisfying and happy now or because they brought benefits to the community at large.

    I come from a family of Jews and Catholics with some agnostic and atheist minds included for a sprinkling of balance. Interestingly there have not been any real quarrels regarding personal convictions. Not that there have not been disagreements and family feuds (some of enormous proportion), but they were about what our family saw as more important things: one aunt marrying a man who abused her constantly while dating, an uncle who wouldn't set aside anything for the college funds of his children, who really made the best and worst turkey for Thanksgiving, and whether or not we should all go to the pride parade in June because we have one lesbian and gay man in the family (my cousins).

    But differences or debates on religion? The only time it happened was when one family, my own starting studying and attending meetings, not at a synagogue or church or lodge, but at that cultish place: something called a "Kingdom Hall."

    There was no doubt in my mind that becoming a Jehovah's Witness meant being hated, causing division, losing family and friends, being persecuted, not participating in the world community--even to do some practical good...

    In fact, the JWs studying with me insisted that all this negativity was the sign that I was doing something good, that we truly had Jehovah's favor. The more problems, the more difficulty, the more struggle, the more you had to sacrifice and the more you hated it and were hated, yes that's what the True Religion was "supposed" to feel like. Those were its earmarks, I was taught.

    My first Kingdom Hall was clean but shabby compared to the great cathedrals and temples my family worshipped in. In fact the Hall (and the people in it) looked depressingly plain, like a 1975 Sears store had an affair with a 1972 K-mart and their illegitimate love child threw up over everything and everyone, leaving this Watchtower Study in its place. Yep, this too was a "proof" that it was the True Religion.

    I guess in my era of entrance the JWs sold the fact that they were shabby, had little, were hated by (and themselves hated) non-JWs. It was rough, tough, we ate dirt, and we thanked Jehovah for it because, as one of the first JWs told me (since we were at height of the Cold War era too): "We know that we are the only ones who will survive Armageddon, even if it involves nuclear bombs, so we endure all this so Jehovah will save us, even miraculously even!"

    Stupid me. I believed it! And I even sold it to others, for a while.

    And what did my non-JW family have during the 1980s at their places of worship? Pretty churches and modern synagogues and youth programs and family outings and scholarship programs (which my uncle was taking advantage of for his kids, it turns out) and modern Bible translations like the NJPS and the NRSV and ecumenical meetings and no persecution or knocking on doors on hot Saturday mornings to talk to a bunch of pissed-off neighbors who never converted to my stupid religion after preaching to them for a decade.

    A lot of good it did me, and a "lot of good" I accomplished over that wasted decade...Not!

    It wasn't a cool religion to join, that's for sure. If it was for any other reason except fearing a nuclear holocaust (yep, that's the real reason I joined), I would have never joined. They had no amenities or tradition or even real Bible education, just a self-denial complex to offer.

    What I learned from the JW religion? I learned this one, very significant, and life-saving truth: I was a stupid ass in the 1980s and needed to get my act together lest I wasted the rest of my life.

    You can only truly learn that lesson when you find yourself surrounded by other stupid asses in a club for stupid asses that only lets members in if they promise to be stupid asses. For this awakening, I shall be eternally grateful to the Watchtower Bible & Stupid Ass Society.

    Muchas gracias. Shalom. Mike drop.

  • stillin

    David! Well said!

    As for me, my own personal mantra should have helped spare me from wasting so many years accomplishing absolutely nothing, "misery loves company."

    this is what drives them to preach. This gets them to the (cultish) Kingdom Hall for their meetings. The need to share their misery with others. They feel reinforced when somebody joins their religion. It assures them that God is backing them when,in fact, for the most part, the "sheeplike ones" that have joined are desperate, miserable people.

    they like to say that their preaching work is a community service because some of the joiners have left bad ways behind. Maybe so, once in a blue moon. I submit that clinging to a contrived religion, and going around showing it off to people, has more likely made hardened cynics out of the people who they bother at their homes. They create people who will NEVER "come to Jesus" because of these so-called representatives of God.

  • Xanthippe
    It occurs to me, if I was starting from scratch choosing a religion or belief system to join, there's one good question I should like answered first:
    Does this religion promote a way of life and view of the world that would be satisfying even if not a single word of its doctrines are true?

    Rather like joining a Meetup group online and going along because it sounds like something that would interest you. SBF I just know you're winding us up here. You do believe objective reality matters but you just can't resist winding us up. Naughty!

  • Lieu

    My only question would be if that religious sect was Christian, does it espouse the message and virtues of Christ Jesus as its focal point ....

Share this