Paradise? Was it?

by TerryWalstrom 48 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • David_Jay


    Not exactly.

    Terry explains he was "just" talking to himself.

    The idea of prayer to Jews, Catholics and Orthodox is that prayer is a dialogue. We listen to God, but we also talk to God. Both things are happening.

    Terry explains a concept of God that he learned in Watchtowerland that led him to a conclusion about God that made him believe that God doesn't listen, and that prayers are ineffective. It wasn't Terry's fault that he came to this conclusion. It was the Watchtower's fault. They designed Jehovah to be this weird Santa-Claus-ask-and-receive god.

    I recall the words of Romans 8:26 where Paul refers to the Jewish concept of prayer, stating that "the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." This is because the Jews and early Christians recited the Psalms as prayers three times a day and a fouth before retiring at night. They used an assigned cycle to cover all 150 over a quick period of time and restart again, and had a selected library for needs like mourning, personal requests, sickness, intercessions, thanksgiving, etc. Rarely was a prayer spontaneous. Some prayers came from Torah, like the Shema, and even the Prophets.

    Paul, at Romans, was saying that these words were the Spirit of God saying the words that God wanted us to say yet which were too great for us mortals to come up with. So we could learn from reciting them and didn't need to worry that God didn't listen when we used certain ones to ask for help or requests.

    So no, we are not speaking of the same things.

    And I am not saying it is anyone's fault they were taught Watchtower lies. I was taught them too when I was a boy. And some stuck with me for a while.

    It's not our fault when we accidently keep using them to apply to everything outside the Watchtower that is religious either. But believe me when I say, this is not the way it is elsewhere. This is not the way Jews, for instance, have viewed or prayed to the God of Abraham. God is not like a fairy that grants wishes.

  • deegee


    Did you read Terry's comments above?


    I prayed constantly...........I read my Bible and memorized verses and went over the "meaning" constantly.
    I was a sponge and all things God were soaking into me for survival and to stave off panic and terror.
    Once I arrived in Federal prison and joined about 40 other Brothers, we had 5 meetings each week and special study sessions on the side.
    I had become a TRUE BELIEVER.
    I was actually a fanatic.
    The letters I wrote read like a wide-eyed cult member in every way.
    There's no doubt in my mind--I was talking to God (inside my head) day and night and my sense of His presence was palpable.
    Then I was sexually attacked and I went into a kind of recoil and shock.
    Even though Jehovah had obviously deserted me at the moment I cried out to Him for help--I made excuses.
    God is not like a fairy that grants wishes.

    WOW! Pity Terry didn't know beforehand that God doesn't help persons and that a relationship with God is one-sided:

    Because I was there for Him and He wasn't there for me - I slowly turned my anger on myself rather than blame Almighty up above.
    I was a walking, talking case study in cognitive dissonance.
    ........that led him (Terry) to a conclusion about God that made him believe that God doesn't listen, and that prayers are ineffective.


    God is not like a fairy that grants wishes.


    So how is Terry or anyone for that matter supposed to know that God is listening and prayer is effective if God doesn't help when persons ask for help?

    What's the point of prayer then?

    Jews and early Christians recited the Psalms as prayers three times a day and a fouth before retiring at night. They used an assigned cycle to cover all 150 over a quick period of time and restart again, and had a selected library for needs like mourning, personal requests, sickness, intercessions, thanksgiving, etc. Rarely was a prayer spontaneous.

    So God will only listen to your prayer if it is not spontaneous?

    Paul, at Romans, was saying that these words were the Spirit of God saying the words that God wanted us to say yet which were too great for us mortals to come up with. So we could learn from reciting them and didn't need to worry that God didn't listen when we used certain ones to ask for help or requests.

    So the Spirit of God is interceding on our behalf, saying the words on our behalf that God wants us to say including asking for help or requests.


    God is not like a fairy that grants wishes.

    So God doesn't even answer his own prayers?

  • David_Jay


    I myself am an adult survivor of child abuse.

    I was victimized by my parents from infancy until I was 17. I myself have been raped. I know what that's like.

    I know what it's like to be 6 years old and have your mother slap you in the face 66 times until you can feel nothing but heat rising from your skin and hear a buzzing ringing from inside your head, and to experience this weekly.

    I know what it's like to have your father break your nose in the middle of the night while you are sleeping by punching you in the face when you are only 7, or having furniture thrown at you by him as "punishment" as a regular thing.

    I also know what it's like to have an older sibling who would help my parents by finding me when I hid from them or chased me down if I tried to run and then held me down for them to take their abuse.

    This happened daily for 17 years, the first 17 years of my life. So?

    Where was God? I asked for his help then, you bet I did. Where was God?

    I survived. My parents did not. The rest of my family did not. Their lives crumbled. I currently live a secure and prosperous, very happy life.

    Terry survived too.

    Sure you and Terry may be mad at God, but it is still the Watchtower God you have in mind, not the God of Abraham. You may be convinced they are the same, and I am sure there is nothing in the world I can say or do to change your mind because the hatred the Watchtower planted into you is strong.

    But just because my parents and my brother abused me doesn't mean that all parents and brothers abuse their children and siblings. I cannot say that my experience as a child is the same experience of every child. It is not.

    Neither Terry nor you can judge the God of Abraham as worshipped by Jews by what Jehovah's Witnesses claim is God. God does answer prayers, but doesn't grant every wish we have. That's how Jews understand it.

    In the end, trying to point out how hard Terry may have had it is no excuse, even though he has indeed experienced some horrible things which I cannot and will not minimize. As you see, so have I, but I am not using them as an excuse or reason for my actions or decisions, am I?

    Using your reasoning, how should my having been abused and raped speak to the points you've raised? Should I give up being a Jew and on living the traditions of my culture and going to Temple now because of what others did to me in the past? Is that your answer?

    I don't do that. I do more than merely survive. I conquer. I find meaning out of life. I make a success of myself and make life mean something. Somebody may have tried to shatter my life into pieces, but damnit, they did not succeed.

    You go ahead and keep the idol of Watchtowerland even outside of Jehovah's "Kingdom" and judge me and everyone else by what a cult taught you by it. If you are gonna do this, you don't mean anything to me, not one damn bit.

  • TerryWalstrom

    I think our emotions are "informed" by our values. What we involuntarily feel are visceral and palpable signals pointing to what we hold true, valuable, or absolute.

    If I'm walking in the dark and see a coil of rope that looks like a rattlesnake, my spontaneous, instinctive visceral reaction will be a jolt of adrenaline and I'll probably jump away. No time to think about it (which is how instinct works toward survival.)
    The absolute nature of our understanding of "god" is transmitted to us as kids.
    A Buddhist family informs little kids of Buddhist values, a Catholic family inculcates icons, candles, etc. and so on. Our location on Earth is accidental in informing our sensibility and consequently our emotional connection with this "god" of our region and family.
    So, it's not REALLY a choice in any absolute sense.
    I had only the numinous emotional connection of my grandmother's Catholic experiences as related to me by her.
    Then, my best friend (JW) layered on the specifics of JW cult 'data.'
    All the above rather a long-winded preamble to saying this:
    Left to our own devices, I think without specific indoctrinations we'd all end up with a superstitious view of how the universe 'works'.
    My intellect has had to be scoured, and barnacles of Jehovah scraped off.
    The emotional component is surgically bereft of any god-value.
    I have no automatic emotions.
    I see and hear God talk as just so much superstitious/emotional involuntary hocus pocus.
    I neither argue for nor against anybody's idea of god.
    I'm not interested in that.
    I'm interested in people and whether their lives are benefited or crippled by god talk and belief.
    Especially is this true of the JW indoctrination.
    My specific 'talent' is debunking THAT.
    If and when I am able--I am determined to bring a bit of sunshine to those dark prisons and allow some measure of objectivity to an extremely subjective subject.

  • David_Jay


    I agree with Terry's above comment.

    I had merely stated the same thing but in different words, never blaming Terry, only the Watchtower.

    I was brought up as a Witness youth too, remember, rescued by an aunt who was a Jehovah's Witness from my abusive parents. I returned to Judaism when I was able to leave (my parents were non-practicing). But I had the same JW lies drilled into me for some of my formative years nevertheless.

    The Watchtower sears scars so deep that it leaves the imprint of its golden calf, Jehovah, upon so many and too often this is as Terry writes, an "emotion" that many are expressing here. It's not reason, not knowledge, not critical thinking. It's raw emotion, pain, hurt. And it seems, deegee, you have used this same emotion to jump to a conclusion against me.

    Like Terry who writes he is using what he knows to debunk not other religious views, only that of the Watchtower's, I'm going one step further. I'm trying to help people see that the Witnesses may still be blinding some ex-JWs and making them hate things unnecessarily, making them prejudiced and closed-minded and even intolerant where they don't have to be.

    You don't have to join us who accept the God of Abraham, but you don't have to keep believing in the lies of the Watchtower as a means to judge what we believe anymore either. As long as you still believe the Watchtower lie about us or anything else for that matter, you are still under their control. You deserve to be free from all of it, even the part of what other religions actually believe.

  • Diogenesister

    Isn't it funny how we us humans can be such harsh critics of the generation before.

    But imagine....what on earth would we be without them.

    Terry your imagination just blows me away!

  • David_Jay

    Now, back on track on the actual subject.

    Since the Biblical word "paradise" carries no implications of any type of pleasures for those in it, it cannot be argued that the characters of the narrative, namely Adam and Eve, were not in one.

    The Hebrew word in Genesis is GAN. It, like the Greek word "paradise," carries no meaning like the Watchtower view of that suggested by the original post.

    GAN occurs 42 times in the Tanakh and refers to an "enclosure," namely a "garden," often one in which vegetables and fruits are grown or eaten. They often contained springs or wells, and could be locked by a gate or protected by a gate keeper.

    It has been suggested that Eden was symbolic, an allegory of the Temple. It had gold nearby, water from rivers, and food for God and a place where God came down to regularly speak to man in a breeze. The symbol was thus like the Temple, part earthly, part celestial. The fruit of God's tree may have been the citron or even the pomegranate that decorated the Temples. The Cherub, primary to Temple decor, was present in Gan Eden as well.

    Because a GAN is only an enclosed garden as a "paradise" is only an enclosed park, and Eden was God's not Adam's enclosure (note how God placed Adam inside the GAN to tend it as a caretaker for God, not as an owner as written at Genesis 2:15), there is no promise or implications that can be inferred from the word for the enclosure.

    To reiterate a previous post, but now with the Hebrew information, the idea of what "paradise" entails and that Adam and Eve had immortality and somehow lost this were added by the Watchtower dreamers. Adam and Eve were therefore in paradise as the word means merely a garden or "enclosure." It does not entail the pictures or descriptions imagined by Jehovah's Witnesses in their publications.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Well, I probably did a poor job of placing proper emphasis on the dehumanizing state of existence which was Adam's existential fate.
    The first few generations (taking the Bible for what it says without critical bias) of humanity were bereft of what makes all the rest of us truly "human."
    Even apes have more filial and community camaraderie and bonding than Eve or Adam had.
    EVE, in a peculiar sense, was 'mothered' by her husband!
    I meant or intended to mean we need an out-sized magnification of contextual IRONY when we read the Adam and Eve in Eden (pleasure garden) to jolt us out of the mythos momentarily.
    A few moments of forensic deconstruction was what I was attempting more than anything else.
    It's like the time I spoke with the fellow on Starbuck's patio who was a self-styled

    I asked him how big a demon is.
    Simple question.
    If an entire LEGION can infest a man, rationally and logically, they must be infinitesimal, right?
    I observed this man struggling to reject the question to save himself the adjustment of internal objective analysis. Or so I imagined.
    Things, ideas, concepts float about unmoored in our brain UNLESS we have imposed an organizing principle upon them. This calls for measurements, calibrations, comparatives, and extrapolation.

    unless we already know we're in fantasyland. Knowing on some subconscious level we are bullshitting ourselves relieves us of the melancholy burden of such evaluations.

    Don't mind me...I do tend to wander off the reservation.

    (See my post about the invisible cat I had as a child. That explains everything :)

  • ttdtt
    The first "marriage" (where was the ceremony recorded?) was an arranged mating with no choice involved and certainly no selection. Adam "chose" his own rib to marry! Yipes.

    One of the many BLATANT LIES the WT pulled over our eyes for years - wedding ceremony - bs.

  • David_Jay


    You are still working from the viewpoint that the Jehovah's Witness paradigm is both applicable to the original story and the culture that formed it and that this has any import to the end God concept. It is only "dehumanizing" because you're reading it unfairly, so to speak.

    The Gan Eden narrative in Genesis was purposefully composed as Jewish allegory and folklore, and the figures of Adam of Eve are set upon a literary tableau of Hebrew style genre, not something historical. The story is meant for a Jewish culture, for the preserving of itself during the Babylonian exile while it faced the danger of cultural assimilation under Nebuchadnezzar's rule. The idea was about delivering Adam (symbolizing the Jewish people in captivity among the enclosed hanging gardens of Babylonia), but you aren't reading it with it's original intent .

    We don't have devils or demons or Original Sin or see this story as "paradise lost," etc. You are viewing the story through a Christian lens, a Gentile lens, a viewpoint it was never intended for.

    Jews never imagined that the world would ever be reading the Bible, our Liturgy. This isn't a history book. It's not the history of the world. It's not a crystal ball with a future "march of the nations" inscribed in it. It's not a Magic 8 Ball that has an answer to every question you have.

    It is one of several works, along with the Mishnah, the Talmud, and other works that make up the wisdom of the Jewish culture. It can't stand alone, but it's like Western society and especially Christians demand it to do just that.

    It's like you tore out the first few chapters of Gone With the Wind and are blaming the author for the story not making sense. But you are the one who took only the first few chapters.

    When someone points this out and offers you the rest and tries to tell you that you are holding fiction (but you are claiming it supposed to be fact and it fails at doing so, so therefore the whole work must be faulty), it becomes very hard to convince you that you are missing the point of Gone With the Wind in the first place.

    I'm definitely not trying to make a Jew out of you. We don't convert people. Though I accept the reality of the God of Abraham, technically speaking I don't believe in God or have any use for things like "faith" in the Christian sense.

    What I am saying is that you are still a believer in some Watchtower concepts, at least the ones in connection with this subject about the Garden of Eden. You need to let go of these. You need to at least acknowledge what academics and scholars know about Genesis. It's about the same that Jews have.

    Objective analysis means always making sure you have people check your viewpoint, test it, make sure it works, disinterested parties, sometimes people you know who have a habit of not telling you what you like, who aren't going to let things go the way you want it to, who are going to give you the facts even if you aren't ready for them and even if they make you feel badly. The real truth is what you want.

    Objectivity means your viewpoint doesn't matter and you have to give up fighting for what you believe. It means you got to let others try to punch holes in what you say. If they do, then you got to admit your current belief system is faulty or current theory has to be abandoned and you need to start again. You keep doing it again and again until no one can punch holes it. Then you got it.

    You're not far from that, however. And again I'm not after you. I'm trying to point out there's some "Watchtower" that's still latched on. It will screw around with your attempts at being truly objective.

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