"Freeness of speech"
This was posted on another thread (http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/topic/6040010839031808/christmas-tree-word-appreciation), but wondered about how others here would see this with one experience I had as an elder now as ex-JWs.
When we were JW's we had to be EXTREMELY careful with what we said around the brotherhood. If someone said anything out of the ordinary, relationships among the involved were halted immediately, or were never the same afterwards.
In this place, one can say almost anything without the fear of having a truck run over us. Even Thomas doubted the Lord, and wasn't rejected for not being faithful to ‘the slaveclass.’ Neither was Peter for negating Christ.
The Bible speaks of Christian freedom. Interestingly, the NWT in Phil. 1.20 shows Paul speaking of his "freeness of speech" in declaring Christ. What a difference an organization makes.
Let me tell you of one episode I had as an an elder. I was assigned to give a talk to a nearby congregation 45 mins. away. I deviated quite a bit from the WT outline which I considered "boring" even back then. No sooner did I step down from the podium, when the Presiding Overseer at the local congregation approached me before I left the building. He told me he was not pleased with my talk, not because of the lack of content, but because I did not follow the WT outline by the book (I noticed some elders had the habit of following invited speakers with a copy of the outline, which I personally found tacky).
The PO told me he did not want me back in HIS congregation, and assured me he would contact the PO of my congregation so as to prevent other potential congregations from having me as a guest speaker, which he did.
Sure enough, the local PO brought it to my attention, and we both ended the conversation with a disconcerting feeling. In the end, he didn't eliminate me from his list of traveling speakers, but I could tell it was going to be a factor in deciding where to and where not to send me out.Now, was the whole experience necessary? What do you think?
I resigned as an elder and faded in 1984, so I don't know how they handle the public talks these days. But in the 1970s and until I resigned, I used a number of different Bible Translations in my talks, even though the NWT was supposed to be used. as I hated using the NWT. I also quoted ancient Christian sources, Josephus, and modern secular historians during the talks.
Surprisingly the elders in the different congregations I visited, never counseled me, nor was I eliminated as a traveling speaker. In fact the rank and file JWs gave me lots of compliments. But things have obviously changed since then.
I had a similar experience as you, Athanasius. Always used other translations, quoted Josephus, Winston Churchill and many others. Always welcomed as a speaker and complimented on my interesting talks. Last public talk was less than two years ago. Bros still seemed to like my different take, where we are anyway.
Being in the JW world is like living in North Korea, one word out of place or one false thought and your in front of a firing squad.
I deviated quite a bit from the WT outline which I considered "boring" even back then.
You ain't the only one who considered them boring. Talks I gave evolved and changed and deviated from the outlines the more I gave them. Some deviated greatly from the outlines. There's one particular one I gave that was often specifically requested. A lot of it deviated greatly from the outline. However, it was much loved and very effective. An older elder in a neighboring town told me that he got baptized because of hearing that talk. He was probably 70 when he was baptized and progressed rapidly to being an elder.
Nobody ever said anything to me about deviating from outlines, however, the elder that said something to you probably would have said something to me, too. I think it's just a matter of where you are.
Now, was the whole experience necessary? What do you think?
No, I don't think the experience was necessary. When I was an elder, mostly for the sake of visitors and new persons, I wanted talks to be stimulating and interesting and effective. I couldn't have cared less whether they adhered to the outlines; heck, I wouldn't have cared if they just totally disregarded outlines as long as the talks were good.
I heard some excellent talks from speakers who didn't stick to outlines and some horrible ones from others who adhered rigidly to outlines.
Just think about my situation mentioned above, if I had adhered to the outline and given a less interesting and stimulating and convincing talk, chances are the older JW might never have been moved to get baptized.
I think the point is that talks should be good. That should be the guiding principle. Elders who check to see whether outlines are adhered to are, to me, like Pharisees. They worry about rules and details, but oftentimes miss the point; they miss the bigger picture. They are more worried about their rules than the end results.
My experience is that a talk is interesting or not depending on how much the speaker incorporates into the outline from external references. When he adds information and references it, this gives weight to what he is saying. It is tragic that there are influences around who seek to extinguish individuality on the one hand, and genuine desire to refresh, stimulate, and encourage the audience on the other hand. Innovation in other words. But then again, when an organisation at the top is dysfunctional, it can be disconcerting for those dysfunctional leaders see others do the right thing.
In my experience, there are few interesting talks given anymore. It's becoming a desert of sorts. The "famine in the land" is not really in the realm of Christendom as I was led to believe, but right there in the kingdom halls. The leadership of the WTS is addressing meeting attendance in the April 2016 edition of the Watchtower magazine.....
"REASONS TO ATTEND MEETINGS
They educate us.
They encourage us.
They bring us under the influence of holy spirit.
They give us opportunities to show our brothers that we love them.
They unite us with fellow believers.
Our attendance gives Jehovah what he deserves.
Our attendance shows Jehovah that we want to draw close to him and his Son.
Our attendance demonstrates that we support God’s sovereignty."
I can't agree with any of the above. It's just not my experience any more. I grew weary of RC ritual and repetition many years ago. Yet in many respects, WT meetings are becoming mere ritual and repetition and underpin the sovereignty of the GB, and neither encourage or educate.
Magnum: "Elders who check to see whether outlines are adhered to are, to me, like Pharisees. They worry about rules and details, but oftentimes miss the point; they miss the bigger picture. They are more worried about their rules than the end results."
"My experience is that a talk is interesting or not depending on how much the speaker incorporates into the outline from external references. When he adds information and references it, this gives weight to what he is saying. It is tragic that there are influences around who seek to extinguish individuality on the one hand, and genuine desire to refresh, stimulate, and encourage the audience on the other hand."
Which proves the point that the WT places flock-control and manipulation over what benefits listeners most.
We (speakers) were admonished that an alternate translation wasn't necessary since we had the best one available in the NWT, but, if we were to use any we must read the scripture from the NWT FIRST, followed by any other. This made it pointless. Now talks are less than 30 minutes long and there is no time for creativity. It's all part of controlling info and making the meeting tend towards more participation with the WT. To keep people involved and awake. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ didn't help, lol
At one time I used to create my own P.T's from scratch, no WT outline at all ! I was a M.S at the time. The BOE were happy to let this continue until a letter from North Korea Party H.Q said such only WT outlines were to be used.
Even then, I rarely said much from the actual Outline, I swapped the whole thing around as to sub-sections too, to suit my style. A couple of times I had Elders tell me they gave the same talk, but didn't recognise it when I gave it LOL, but no real criticism.
Although just a lowly M.S,I was in demand as a speaker from a number of Congregations because as one guy said "You always give us something new ".
Eventually I refused to give P.T's anymore as I could not find an Outline that I did not disagree with about 50% of. I guess I was by then beginning to wake up.
"Even Thomas doubted the Lord"
Not only Thomas - Matthew 28:17 - "When they saw, him they did obeisance, but some doubted."
Imagine Nazism, communism, and the McCarthy witch-hunt combined - that's the "spiritual paradise."
Every J.W. knows how evil & apostate they'd appear, if they voiced an "independent" opinion.