The pork sandwich
When I meet new people and it comes up that I have been a Jehovah’s Witness for over fifty years. They ask me, what it was like to leave that kind of thought system after so many years.
My favorite story about those feelings happened at my first Christmas in 2001. A friend of mine Gregory Bartels owns The Christmas Tree Company. He told me he wanted to give me my first Christmas tree free, since it’s I’ve been the Christmas Grinch for so long. He told me to just go to anyone of his tree lots and pick out a tree for free.
So I did just that. I told the lot attendant about the free tree from the owner.
He said. “So you’re the guy! The guy who never had a Christmas!”
“Yes I guess so.” I shrugged.
“So tell me what’s that’s like, having a Christmas for the first time ever?”
“Well” I said. “It’s kind of like a Jewish guy eating a pork sandwich for the first time. It taste good but just feels weird.”
The other question has been. “Why did it take you so long to figure it out and finally leave?”
I don’t know, just stupid I guess. I’m sure not bragging. Hey look at me, fifty years and I finally made it out. I’m not proud of my stupidity for sure.
My children on the other hand have told me that they wish I had left years earlier, so they could have enjoyed a more normal life, as a teenager. Since I like me, they too had missed out on all the school dances, sports and other activities they are denied all good witness kids.
On the other hand I have told them if I had left when they were just small children and not adults, they definitely would have been in their mothers care many years. So they could have turned out most likely to be good Nazis Jehovah’s Witness instead. Kids that would have nothing to do with their father. I guess we’ll never know.
I do know one thing, timing is everything in life.
There are thousands of bad marriages and relationships. People and their religions could be considered a relationship too. People who are together for all the wrong reasons and they have been together way to long. Why? Who knows?
Many of us have suggested to these people they should get out of their bad situations. The words many times fall on deaf hears. We all know it’s not going to happen until that person has had enough.
For people trying to leave a bad religion or bad relationship it’s like going to your favorite restaurant for a meal. You have this amazing meal with great service. The bill comes and it’s $275. Well it was nice wasn’t it? Yes of course. Next week you are back again and get another great meal. The bill comes this time and now its $475. Wow, but it was nice of course. You go back again and the bill comes $975. This is too much, no matter how great the food and service was. Even though you are getting what you want, the price is just too much. The “love drug” you are paying for is just costing too much.
Everyone wants love. How much are you willing to pay for it? Is your “love drug” costing you too much now?
My final bill came on September 11th 2001. I decided my restaurant was over charging me for over fifty years for bad food and terrible service. I just couldn’t pay the bill anymore.
No more of the Jehovah’s Witnesses “love drug” for me.
Each person knows in their heart, when that last straw gets loaded on to the camel’s back.
When that happens it will be tough leaving the pack because there is so much comfort with the pack.
If you are a dog on a dog sled of life, there are only three positions you can be it. You can be with the trailing dogs behind everyone else. The Gomer Pyles of the world, behind the curve and trailing the pack. In which case you are screwed. You can be with the pack just like everyone else. The cattle that follow the leaders. In which case you are totally screwed. Or you can be ahead of the pack, the visionary ahead of everyone else. In which case you are of course screwed. However being ahead of the pack as its benefits, at least the views are a lot better!
The crazy thing is, I never went to the internet and looked up anything related to Jehovah’s Witnesses before I left that organization. I got no information about them either way, for or against them.
However after I left I got on the internet and checked out my old religion. Wow! No wonder the society doesn’t want you to check out the history of their organization.
They tell you that you should investigate all religions before you join theirs. That is definitely not true.
They also tell you that you need to thoroughly examine their faith before you join also. That is not true either. Because their examination means reading only their publications.
Below are some of the fun facts I had found out about the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For some odd reason that they never bothered to mention these facts when I was in their organization.
Charles Russell (1852-1916), the founder, believed that Christ had secretly arrived in the year 1874 and that he would establish the Kingdom of God on Earth in October 1914 Russell based this prophecy on his studies of the Bible and the Great Pyramid.
A key component to the calculation was derived from the book of Daniel, Chapter 4. The book refers to "seven times". He interpreted each "time" as equal to 360 days, giving a total of 2,520 days. He further interpreted this as representing exactly 2,520 years, measured from the starting date of 607 BC. This resulted in the year 1914 being the target date for the Millennium. Russell's belief became a key teaching of the bible students later known as the Jehovah's Witnesses. Since late in the 19th century, they had taught that the "battle of the Great Day of God Almighty" (Armageddon) would happen in that year.
Said. “And, with the end of A.D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and what men call Christendom, will have passed away, as is already shown from prophecy." Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. III, (1897)
"...we consider it an established truth that the final end
of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of
God, will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914" (1889).
"In the coming 26 years, all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved." Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. II, (1889)
However in 1912 he back pedaled"...he wrote that, while the prophecy remains valid, the power of the Gentiles could end either in October 1914 or in October 1915."
Lots of people join Russell's movement and it expanded rapidly, in the years leading up to 1914.
However, as the year 1914 came and passed without the visible appearance of Christ. The society regarded the start of the World War 1 as confirmation that the process leading to Christ's return, had started. They decided that 1914 was the year that Jesus invisibly began his rule from heaven.
In November 1914, immediately after Russell's prophecy had failed, he wrote that the period of transition could run a "good many years."
The Watchtower magazine suggested that the destruction would happen "...shortly after 1914 with the utter destruction" of other Christian denominations and the inauguration of Christ's millennial reign. They first predicted that this would happen in 1915. Drawing a parallel with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Army in 70 CE, the authors of the 1915 Edition of "The Time Is At Hand" wrote:
"The Gentile Times prove that the present governments must all be overthrown about the close of A.D. 1915; and Parallelism above shows that this period corresponds exactly with the year A.D. 70, which witnessed the completion of the downfall of the Jewish polity."
After Russell's death in 1916, members of the society rewrote large portions of his Studies in the Scriptures to reflect the new belief that the year 1914 was merely the beginning of the end of Gentile times.
They later delayed the millennium to 1918. A 1917 publication, "The Finished Mystery" stated:
"...in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of Christianity."
That year also passed uneventfully, except for the end of World War I.
The WTS introduced the concept that Christ would establish his millennial kingdom on earth "before the generation who saw the events of 1914 passes away." With many humans achieving a life span of over 90 years, this could place the War of Armageddon at any time between 1914 and the early 21st century.
The next estimate of the end of things was some time in 1925.
In 1918, J.E. Rutherford, the WTS' second president and the author of "Millions now living will never die" wrote:
"...there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other faithful ones of old ... we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth.... Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection."
In 1922, Rutherford wrote:
"Fulfilled prophecy shows beyond a doubt that (Christ) did appear in 1874. Fulfilled prophecy is otherwise designated the physical facts; and these facts are indisputable....We understand that the jubilee type began to count in 1575 B.C.; and the 3,500 year period embracing the type must end in 1925....It follows, then, that the year 1925 will mark the beginning of the restoration of all things lost by Adam's disobedience."
In 1923, a Watchtower article predicted:
"Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge."
As the year approached, the WTS appeared to back-peddle somewhat:
Watchtower magazine predicted in mid-1924:
"The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914; but it would be presumptuous on the part of any faithful follower of the Lord to assume just what the Lord is going to do during that year."
At the beginning of 1925, a Watchtower article commented:
"With great expectations Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be... Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year."
They regarded the year 1975 a promising date for the end of the world, based on their original belief that it was the 6,000th anniversary of creation of both Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden in 4026 BC. They believe, along with many other conservative Protestant denominations that the world would exist for exactly 1,000 years for each day of the creation week. Their Watchtower or Awake magazines taught that:
"According to reliable Bible chronology Adam was created in the year 4026 BC, likely in the autumn of the year, at the end of the sixth day of creation."
"According to reliable Bible chronology, Adam and Eve were created in 4026 BC."
"Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man’s existence coincides with the Sabbath like thousand-year reign of Christ....Our chronology, however, which is reasonably accurate (but admittedly not infallible), at the best only points to the autumn of 1975 as the end of 6,000 years of man’s existence on earth."
This prophecy was put forward in their publications, notably Watchtower and Awake and at their assemblies. The close proximity of the end times encouraged the membership to increase their proselytizing efforts.
Membership rose significantly in the years leading up to 1975. Some members sold their possessions, cashed in their insurance policies, etc. in anticipation of the Millennium's arrival.
As you can see the powers that be have mentioned and given dates for the end of the world as we know it, many times over decades of time. 1914 was hyped for years and now 1975 was pushed more than ever.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses say the Bible warns us about false prophets (Matt. 7:15) and tells us we can see if they false, if they say that they speak for God and make predictions in his name, yet the predictions don't come true. Than they are false of course.
The society has given no less than 6 dates for end of the world, the last being 1975.
Maybe they are just like all the other religions.
If you don’t believe in the strange story, I have relayed to you about my life as a Jehovah’s Witness all I can say is do your own research.