I want to thank each one of you for taking the time to give such thoughtful and intellectual replies.
I am learning from you.
I want to thank each one of you for taking the time to give such thoughtful and intellectual replies.
I am learning from you.
You are not pontificating, you are educating. Thank you for helping me to look at this with more of a world view.
I had not bothered to take my comparison outside the realm of religion to look at other models of power based institutions such as governments.
So could one say that even staring out with the best of intentions to help or move things forward, ANY group (religious or otherwise) is going to be hijacked and corrupted?
As in power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?
That explains the rise and fall of everything but it doesnt explain why no one has come up with a way around that pattern.
SInce there is such a compulsion in humans to have religion in the first place, it would seem the compulsion would be able to keep it on the road so to speak.
That is not how it ever goes though.
A long time ago while standing at a door "witnessing" a man told me
"sure, your religion is relatively new now and you all are excited to be part of it but just give you some time and you will end up like everyone else."
of course, in my young idealistic idiocy I just knew he was wrong.
Turns out he was right. A part of me deep inside must have wondered about what he said because decades later I still remember it exactly as it was said that day.
So if we are going to say that this is the way of things - religious institutions, governments, big businesses - then what is the "solution"?
No business? No government? No religion?
That cant and wont and clearly shouldnt happen. So why do so many think that removing religion will "fix" society if we leave the other two?
Blunt is fine. Many a truth lies in blunt.
I appreciate you bringing a totally new thought to this thread. That thought is the analysis of Christian Scientists as a comparison to the JWs.
I studied with a woman who was raised as a Christian Scientist. As a young adult while pursuing her PhD, she was called on by the Mormons. She studied and got almost to the point of joining and then moved to a different area. While she was still getting moved in and getting her bearings I met her. We studied together for 2 years.
She became and unbaptized pub and that was when I started to back off and so did she. We remain friends and we are both clear on what the religion known as Jehovahs Witnesses is all about.
I mention this friend because her perspective on these 3 religions (comparisons.contrasts) has been extremely interesting to hear,
I didnt realize until your post however, that ALL of my knowledge and my conversations with my friend have been doctrinal in nature. You are looking at Christian Scientists as an entity including their population stats and their business model.
I hadnt done that.
I was looking at the Catholic church in terms of their religious control over peoples lives and how powerfully they exerted themselves in the daily lives of those people and also how they took so much money into themselves while exerting all the endless rules over daily life.
My initial comparison of the Catholic church and JWs is just one slice of a pie. I am realizing that.
Now I want to look at Christian Science as a business and not doctrinally.
It isn't that all systems are destined to go corrupt or end up that way. It is that all are susceptible.
But the opposite is also true. Not everyone goes the path of injustice. Groups are also susceptible to the wonderful good people can accomplish.
Go back to the Roman Catholic Church. Is it all bad? Leaving whatever view you might have about its doctrines and about religion in general, how does a corrupt system produce so many good people who do so many good things? We're not talking plain ole JW good, we are talking heroic in virtue like Mother Theresa and others who have made an impression on history, changing the very world itself by the good they do.
There are atheists who have done equally good humanitarian works. Buddhists, too, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Jews--we can go on and on. Good is not limited by one's convictions. It is not exclusive to the relgious nor impossible for the Catholic or non-theist.
The difference is that Jehovah's Witnesses are lying, to themselves and to the world. Religions and secular philosophies struggle in a search for truth and justice and claim to be on a journey to these things. JWs claim they are the destination and font of all this as they constantly reset and redesign their end-of-world prophecies to make it look like they are not on the wrong path. Whatever you might think of religion or philosophical world views, there is a difference between being on an honest search and being mistaken and being in denial, covering up your mistakes, and claiming you are the only vessel of truth.
Catholcism, for example, does not teach it is the only way to salvation. It acknowledges that God is not limited by denominational lines when it comes to saving people. Atheists are viewed as equally redeemed as the believer. Jews are not to be proseltyzed nor converted as they are viewed as already on the path to eternal life. True, they are many problems still, unforgivable sins committed by many within, but this is not a religious system that holds much in common with the way JWs believe and act. Can you imagine JWs stating that Jews are not to be converted or preached to?
Jehovah's Witnesses teach us to be always looking for the solution or even claiming to be or have the key to the solution to everything. These other systems teach people to be the solution, even encouraging many to find new ways of doing so, to make it up as they go, even break the rules to do that. JWs teach people to wait for the solution, that they can't bring one. Other groups, religious and non-religious, yes, even Catholicism teaches we are each responsible for being the solution.
The greater sin, in my humblest opinion, is telling people to wait for a future solution, doing nothing, like the JWs. In this way you can see that the Witnesses are very different, not just from Catholicism but humanity as a whole.
An old Jewish proverb says: "Pray as if everything depends on God, but act as if everything depends upon you."
Your post blew me away. You write so eloquently and with great historical depth. Thank you.
I read a lot aboutt Eusebius since I had never even heard of him. Your term apologist lackey to Constantine is an apt description.
I am not sure I agree that the Catholic church of old was interested in public opinion. To me it seemed more like a bloodthirsty quest for power that defined the early church and that PR concerns are rather new. In our lifetime actually.
I could easily quote so many parts of your post but I will just quote the hopeful (to me since I yearn for its demise eventually) future of the Org.
Remembering an illustration from Monty Python, the outline of a sauropod starts off with a small and brainless head at ground level, then rises to a big hump and then declines to a small trailing tail. I think we are now situated just beyond the hips and descending the tail. It’s downhill from here on.
TODAY the Catholic church may not teach it is the only way to salvation but didnt it certainly teach that at one time?
Otherwise, what were the Inquisitions about?
And a relatively small detail but a baby that died un-christened was a fate worse than the actual death of the child to the parents.
Does that sound like a religion that doesnt think it is the only way to salvation?
Things in common with JW and Catholics
1-They believe the bible is the word of God
2- They believe Jesus is the messiah
3- I think that's it
Thanks for posting I really appreciate it!
Could I add that between the Catholics relaxing stance on infant baptism and the JWs increasingly strong push to baptize children, that they are almost meeting in the middle thus adding a 4th thing we could agree on?
I am what is known in Judaism as Sephardic Anusim. I am the descendant of "Conversos," and my family lived as Crypto-Jews until the 1990s.
If you are unfamiliar with that, what it means is that I am a direct descendant of four Jewish families that were heavily persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. While much of my family lived in the Sepharic territory governed by Nebuchadnezzar since the Babylonian deportation (for you Bible buffs, see Obadiah 20, "the exiles in Judah who are in Sepharad"), the rise of the Catholic Spanish royalty would see the end of their lives there, ending with the Alhambra Decree of 1492.
I have gone over the records of my ancestors who were tortured and perished at the hands of evil men. I know far too well about the crimes committed by the Church. Let me tell you that Jehovah's Witnesses, in all their sins, have never accomplished anything as cruel as that.
There are far more evils I know of too since I lost millions of relatives in the Holocaust in about half a decade. The Sephardic Jewish communities once dotted Europe and my mother tongue, Ladino, was at one time the most spoken Jewish language in the 20th century. As Sephardic Jews have darker skin and no Aryan blood as the Askenazi Jews did, we went first. Almost 100% of Europe's Sepharic communities vanished and my language went from one of the most spoken to now being so rare that some linguists call it practically extinct.
Catholics stood by as Nazis committed horrible atrocities. But guess what, many others did too. Some, like the Protestant churches who sent me and my family a formal apology on the recent anniversary of the end of WWII for having Nazi members or, if not, for members who stood passively by and did nothing as my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, were taken from them homes and sent to die.
When the camps were liberated, the nightmare continued as the atheist Communists unlocked the gates by day and then savagely raped the weakened women and even girls by night.
Relatives of mine were on the St. Louis, the ship from Germany filled with Jews who were trying to escape capture and the concentration camps. All the Allies turned the ship away, including the United States, and almost everyone of the Jews on that boat ended up being arrested and died in a concentration camp.
My people cried out to the world and few did anything. Most heard and turned away. These were not just Catholics, but Protestants, agnostics, atheists, British, Americans, I can go on and on.
The Catholic Church is not special for its horrible treatments on humanity. My own people persecuted those who would not bend to the Hasmonean dynasty. Even back before Babylon swept them away, my people did cruel things and persecuted innocents like the prophet Jeremiah.
Guess what? You are no better off becuase you are not Catholic or not Jewish or not JW. You, like me, have the capacity for great evil. I am sure if you dig enough you will find that something you are connected to did cruel things that match of surpass the evils of the Catholic Church.
As a Jew I am no defender of the evils committed by Catholics. But if you want to start pointing out groups for the evil they did, you had better not be a part of any group that did anything evil first or that failed to do good when it should have. Otherwise you have the same dirt under your fingernails as everyone else, and you too will bleed when the stone you've thrown hits the walls of this glass house we all live in.
David_ Jay, you are a magnificent thinker.
Learning about your background explains a lot about why you have such a world view and are not as limited in your thinking as most JWs were trained to be.
I went back and read your original post where you described becoming a JW = as in not raised one.
So you grew up thinking and now you can fall back on it. You dont have to suspend your own thoughts in order to be a good JW.
I understand that each religion is really no better than its competitors ( I meant to type contemporaries but I think competing religions is actually MORE accurate) but I am still trying to look for a "formula" for what the Watchtower folks are doing/going to do.
I do think however that some religions are more violent than others. Would you agree? I am not talking about an unexercised capacity for violence so much as I am talking about a historical record of it. Where is the violence of the Christian Scientists for example?
Perhaps a religion will do what it thinks it can get away with?
As for JWs and their Catholic behavior crossovers...
DId you see the article where in 1947 they condemned the Catholic church for excommunicating people (said it had pagan origins) and now they (JWs) are more fiercely enforcing that concept than the Catholics they condemned!
History is not going to make room for the JWs to rise up the way the Catholics did. The timing is all wrong among many other factors. I am still puzzled and amazed at how many things used to be viewed as a strict Catholic behavior (no intermarriage, infant baptism, confession of sins, control of assets etc) are now strict JW behavior.
If you are talking about what people do "in the name of religion," then I am sure, in fact certain, that if we compared groups, one will stand out more than others.
As a Jew, I think we would come out on top merely because we're much older than any Christian religion and have survived throughout the eras where our heathen neighbors and their religions did not. Being around longer and due to the fact that my ancestors failed repeatedly to learn the lessons of peace and redemption from the Lord, we have a history of atrocities that go back thousands of years, added up to more victims than probably most religions can claim. It's just simple math.
So if you're going to condemn religions, why not go around saying the same thing about Jews you say about Catholics or JWs? In fact, I dare you to make posts all over the Internet about it. Go out and shout it in public. Try it and see what happens.
It won't go over very well, will it? In fact, you are smart enough to know that you will get in a lot of trouble, very quickly for attempting to do something like that.
Why? Because it's hate speech.
You see there is a difference between pointing out that people, groups, and even religions have engaged in atrocities. In fact justice demands it. But the line gets crossed when we do this because we don't like the subject of our focus.
When we don't do it to correct what needs to be corrected, to inform and educate, and we have an emotional investment because deep down we equally hate--we're not just angry, we equally hate--that's different.
To a degree what you say is right on the button and important. Your passion is not displaced when you speak, I am certain. But just as I can't blame the Germans of today for what their ancestors did to my family and relatives and race, we can't blame Catholic today for what they did generations ago.
Catholics have many problems now, true, but they are also not the same church they once were. Vatican II in the 1960s changed them for the better. They have stopped proselytizing the Jews, they have admitted to their long lists of crimes and errors and are actively working to correct and reverse things. Today they have a pope who even said the word "gay," and in a non-judgmental light. Who would have thunk?
You shouldn't excuse the crimes and sins of the past, but there's no reason not to forgive where you can and where you should.
If you were a horribly judgmental person at one time and sowed hatred and ignorance and falsehood but then suddenly changed your life around, and I mean became a completely different, kind, just and liberating soul, would you want people to refuse to see you as you are today? Would you want people to only judge you on the basis of what you were like when you were that terrible person?
Guess what, we who were once Jehovah's Witnsses were each that very terrible person. Don't we deserve a chance to be seen as the newly changed people we are? Or would you think it fair that people always see us as we were when JWs?
Again you are correct in your comparisons, but you are talking about a past of a religion that has dramatically changed. It's not perfect yet, maybe never will be, but neither are any of us who were once that horrible judgmental JW.
Whatever you choose to do with this comparison, you need to treat people fairly. Fair is not expecting others to treat you any different than the way that you treat others.