Hey everyone. So this is what 10 years out feels like. Employed, paying bills, and watching the slow demise of planet Earth. Awesome.... (I'm kidding. I am sure we will all be ok. Look! Unicorns!!)
Been reading a few posts this week in particular. For sure GB 2.1 is in full effect. No more Gilead? No more sending white bread Americans with above average networking skills to 3rd world hotspots in order to be potentially murdered by the "WeDon'tGiveASh*tAboutYou" locals as a way to show you rock? No more book studies or Theocratic Ministry School? No more Presiding Overseer, because he is now the Coordinator and doesn't babysit? No more deep embrace of the hallucinogenic "doctrine" that was in fact, the overactive imagination of college dropout Freddie "The TypologyTypist" Franz?
Sign me up!
I recall getting in several heated debates as I exited here and on a couple of other sites that were for me. I look back and they are a personal journal of sorts. Glad you can read them too if it helps. I thought I'd share two things that popped into my head lately.
1) Jehovah's Witnesses will not die instantly. They will slowly evolve and turn into something else. That is in fact, what has happened and what will continue to happen. As with all bad ideas and movements, idiots and blinded people are hard to show the truth. I have learned the hard way that beliefs trump facts. (pun intended) It is only by having the right values, including an acknowledgment that facts are more important, can true change happen. Having said that, we live in a country where it is a Constitutional right to make bad decisions and have poor judgement. Welcome to freedom! The freedom to sign your life over to a registered cult.
2) Jehovah's Witnesses will continue to exploit young people, and I'd like to offer myself as exhibit A to get this rolling.
In 1991 for reasons I cannot specifically recall, I took advantage of the time home schooling provided me and started to "walk" my territory as an auxiliary pioneer. I was 16. I read the life stories of missionaries and circuit overseers every day and it affected me! I also did it for the approval of the elders, and because I had set goals for myself. It is how I got my good name out there and became a ministerial servant at 19.
If you saw the 19 year old version of me, you'd hate me. I was committed to my goals and every bit the @$$hole! But you would have liked the 16 year old me. I was just a kid trying to do his best, please his parents and his "church". It grew and turned into something I couldn't have possibly comprehended. And as I look back, no one pushed me to do it. I was sincerely trying to do my best. With no true guidance from anyone. No internet. I missed that by four years. Nothing but the "atta boys" and occasional honked horns of elders as they drove by me while I walked to my next return visit in the late afternoon. That's where it started for me.
I am very sensitive when I see intelligent and ambitious young people these days, of any stripe and from anywhere. They need guidance, they need wisdom. And it is not in ready supply. The fact is, programming is very real, and it happens EVERYWHERE. Not just JW's. In America. That is why marketing and the news is so important. "Can we win the battle of the message? What are the optics?" It doesn't matter if it's right or not, so long as it feels right.
The human animal runs on emotional beliefs, not cold facts. JW's are masters of this, and know it better than anyone. And who is better to influence than the young? Whatever the GB needs, you can be sure they will figure out how to suck their youth into a generation of JW's that will roll their eyes at you when you mention 1914, 1975, all of the changes to the word "generation", and those old fogies Russell, Rutherford, Knorr and Franz. And why not? They get told everything in their KH.
What is the hope for anyone young? Access to information, education, and the wisdom to tell the truth and facts from the crap. True reasoning ability, and a desire to make a difference. (so maybe college shouldn't cost so much?)
Isn't that what being young is all about? Maybe that is gone too. Maybe everyone will just turn into automatons that just listen and do what they're told.
I am lucky. I am 42, and still young enough, but have had more than a lifetimes worth of experience to know that the key to the future is to influence the young. I hope we all have the wisdom to help out when we can. And I hope more than a few young JW's stop by sites like these and read up. There is nothing like getting your critical thinking skills going for the first time.
Interesting story. The part about programming is very true.
Do you still believe in God?
Jeff, nice to see you here! The indoctrination of young minds that you describe was very much my experience. None of my family ever became JWs, but my father accepted a study for the family at a very unstable and vulnerable time for us all.
I was nine years old. By the time I was 10, I wanted to get baptized. I just wanted to do what was right. My non-believing dad finally allowed me to get baptized when I was 16. I had already spent several summers "temporary pioneering" by then (75 hours a month). I turned down several college scholarships to "full-time pioneer" (100 hours a month) in the rurals of North Dakota. I was married to a MS by age 19.
All in all I was in for 42 years. It was a painful, slow awakening for me, but I walked away when I was 52. I'm so impressed and happy for those who figure things out at a much younger age. Enjoy your freedom!
Hello Yesu. I am not an active atheist or theist. Having spent my first 30 years debating in that arena, I am happily a live and live, tolerant agonstic. (so long as I and all people are tolerated...)
I'm five years younger than you, but I can relate to the experience of your youth. I was raised "in" by inactive parents who nevertheless expected that I follow all the rules even if they couldn't explain basic doctrine to me. I wanted nothing more than to become an adult so I could move out of my oppressive household.
Then a weird thing happened. My oldest brother who'd shouldered more of a psychological load than he could bear from my mother who used him as a shoulder to cry on started becoming really active. Before I knew it he got baptized in high school and then fell under the wing of an overzealous elder in his 20s. This guy pushed my brother hard and he became a regular pioneer after graduation and a few months later he was shipping off to Bethel.
It all happened so fast that I couldn't really process everything. But our no-name household all of a sudden became a buzz of activity as people from all over the circuit flocked to shake the hand of this anomaly, this kid who'd been raised by inactive parents who somehow rose to the rank of Bethelite. He became something of a rock star and looking back on things, I think on a deep, emotional level I kind of wanted to get in on the action even though I would have never consciously admitted it to myself.
I was always a curious kid and had learned enough of science to understand at a basic level that Genesis was nonsense. One day when I was 15 I picked up the old blue Creation book and within a few days I was a changed person. All of a sudden I wanted nothing more than to "serve Jehovah." The book had convinced me that (a) there had to be a God, (b) science didn't contradict the Bible and (c) the JWs had it as close to right as any other religion.
I graduated a year early to become a regular pioneer and was on the same path as my brother. I was young, naive, and completely full of myself. At 16 I had figured out all of life's great mysteries. Isaac Newton had spent a lifetime trying to understand the mysteries of the bible and here I was having it all figured out in my teens!
Thankfully I fell for a beautiful JW girl when I was 18, fondled her boobs, went to the back room, and started on a road to decline that eventually would lead me to wake up in my early 20s. I haven't been to meetings since 2005.
The JWs were manipulative, but I wanted to be manipulated. I was a fat, brainly, unpopular kid in his freshman year in high school and by the time I was 17 I was something of a star in my own little world (kind of like my brother was).
I don't know that there's any remedy for that. It seems to me it's an ingrained weakness in mankind and there will always be people who devise ways of exploiting it.
The internet helps. I didn't have it either when my "conversion" happened. Now kids are used to searching all over the web and discussing any and all subjects on reddit. It'll be increasingly harder to manipulate youth, but I don't see it coming to an end either.
Thanks for stopping in ATJ. I've enjoyed your posts from the past, and thanks for your comments on my post re: the current Gilead (or whatever it's called now) curriculum. You may well be right about Jackson et al. wanting to quietly do away with the type/anti-type stuff of FF. Now there is nothing of depth at all.
It really is remarkable how much has changed in the last decade or so within the org. ANYTHING of depth seems to be gone.
Nice to hear two great experiences - ATJ and NEJ
regarding emotional responses being manipulated - we are creatures who are became beguiled around a poisonous inflammatory substance - oxygen - and we make it work hard for us exploiting it and bequeathing it. So manipulation exploitation by another name would be invention and turning things around so that we can find a niche no matter what
congratulations to you both
Sorry - posting from my iPad - that should read - we are creatures who became beguiled around a poisonous substance blah blah
Good to hear from you ATJ !
I remember your thoughtful Posts, and you have produced another here in the O.P
I too agree that the key for young people is : " Access to information, education, and the wisdom to tell the truth and facts from the crap. True reasoning ability, and a desire to make a difference. (so maybe college shouldn't cost so much?) ".
The JW Org does a good job of engendering a deep and abiding fear of the above for their born-in kids, so hope of them escaping is thin.
Recruiting, especially young ones, from outside will be much harder. Perhaps the G.B will forbid Contraception in an effort to get more paying devotees ? Worked for the Catholic Church.
Welcome back, and I hope you can continue to find time to post now and again.
Hi Jeff been a long time! good to see you back !