So a couple days ago I ran into a colleague of mine coming back from the mall, let's call her Lianne for the story. We started talking about our research and when Lianne asked about what I'm working on these days I told her about a paper I'm drafting where I argue the culture of Jehovah's Witnesses is collectively narcissistic, which just means they (typically, most often) think they're special and that their faith is better than others, and I cite a lot of evidence to that effect, things Witnesses said to me in conversation, videos I watched on YouTube of antiwitnessing, study articles and book chapters, things I heard COs say ("This is the greatest organization in the universe") so a lot of data from a lot of different places that really drives the point home and shows I didn't just invent this after some cranky old man went on a rant one day in when they commented in the Watchtower Study or something. Lianne seemed interested, I kept it brief, but I noticed this older woman across the aisle staring at me, not glaring, just sorta staring at me blankly or almost in surprise, and Lianne and I moved on to another topic for a couple more minutes and then went back to reading our books, we each had one on us and put it down to chitchat for a few minutes, it was nice running into someone I knew, I got the same vibe from her.
After I read a few pages the older woman got my attention politely and said something like, I wanted to tell you that I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses (I wondered that when she started staring at me) and I don't agree with what you said, and I'm wondering where you got your information. I turned and looked at her and I said directly in more or less these words, I went to services for years and I heard Witnesses say those kind of things. She asked me, Every day? meaning, did I attend services every week, I said No I didn't attend them every week, what does that have to do with anything, I went to 50, 60, 70 services. Then I went on the offensive and asked her, Don't you think you're in the one true religion, you know, you've got the sacred secrets others don't? She said, Well that's a scripture, meaning the term sacred secrets term comes from the Bible (it does, yes...), so I pressed her, Yeah, but don't you think that? She waffled and said Well they're not secrets, they're available to anyone
Just as an aside: then what do you Witnesses call them secrets for, lady? Doublethink at its finest, maybe she doesn't use the term but she recognized it obviously so she knew what I meant. But secrets aren't secrets suddenly so she could try to win the conversation, just... Jesus Christ.
So I responded to that, Yeah, but don't you think you have them and we don't, Witnesses attack other groups at services, she denied it, I said Come on, Christendom, worldly people, we're all gonna die at Armageddon? She scoffed and said she didn't think that and I said I wish people could just own them, I see myself as special for different reasons (most of us do, let's be honest, it's not a bad thing as long as we don't take it too far and condescend to others or treat them like garbage) and I'll admit that, you see yourself as special but you won't own it.
The conversation went on a bit longer but I'll cut it short because I've made my point and it just went back and forth, she started ad hominem attacks soon after that, was I "exposed" to the faith as a kid and came out "jaded," was I an "opposer," that kinda thing, and I just denied it outright and turned back in my seat so I was facing forward and got off the bus after a few more stops and told her a little too earnestly on purpose, Peace out.
These people drive me nuts sometimes. i know it isn't all of them but look, we all know most Witnesses see themselves as special, they sell you on that in the Bible Teach book, we know "the truth" and they don't, I mean Christ the very title of the Bible Teach book is comparative,What Does the Bible Really Teach? in other words, Others don't know what the Bible teaches, we do, we'll teach you (and yeah, a lot of groups believe that too, it's not just Witnesses, but many other groups don't seem to... get off on it like many Witnesses do that I've run into or got to known). The French sociologist Bourdieu says that every hierarchy of readings assumes a hierarchy of readers. Exactly. Exactly.
So if she just said to me when I asked, Yeah, I do see myself as special, and I believe Jesus will kill everyone else on this bus at Armageddon I would have been appalled but I would have stuck out my hand and shaken hers and said, Thank you for being honest, thank you for owning you, most people won't do that, I disagree with you and I find your views disturbing, particularly the last part, but at least you stand on it, at least you're honest with me and with yourself and the other people on this bus.
Some bold witness she gave. Why hide "the truth" about your faith? Hell, she could even just say Yeah, some of us feel that way but I don't. But she didn't. These people never fail to amaze me.