Jehovah's Witnesses: the Brotherhood of Delusion
I really like this premise. It explains certain emotions that are in play better than other analogies I have come across.
I often think of the org in terms of con-artists and the deluded. I have tried to expand on this by saying some are both at the same time, but it still isn't quite enough. There are other variables in play that are hard to describe.
Con / Victim, while true, doesn't completely explain the titillation seen and felt in the audience at times nor does it explain fully the motivation of those on the stage IMO. There is a desire to "put on the show" when involved in the meetings or conventions. It can't be explained away as just being up in front of people.
The "Magic Show" parallel nails it.
It also helps illustrate why JW's often don't want to wake up. They don't want to leave the audience. They don't want to know. It would completely spoil the magic show and all the fuzzy feelings that come with it.
It also explains some of the emotions I feel even now at moments. I will hear a certain phrase or reference in a talk or paragraph and feel those old good feelings again and wonder for a split second, if I'm making a mistake pulling back from all this. Of course it is short lived, but still weird. I guess I am just missing the show for a second. It would be a similar feeling a person would have, I suppose, that missed when the magic trick still fooled them.
Reality can be cold. We all need an escape. Some escapes are healthy, some are dangerous. JW's escape into the audience of a grand century-long magic show that unfortunately results in their exploitation because the magicians are self-serving sociopaths.
I think that nails it, xjwsrock.... & just as you explained, Terry..
"Reality is cold"
The methods of instruction by the Watchtower began with non-standard principles, practices, and inferences.
What does that mean?
Russell was into End Times chronology, pyramids, and predictions of the exact Date of the apocalypse.
This is a SENSATIONALIST approach rather than a biblical one.
What was Russell's greatest bait for attracting followers, readers, subscribers and new members?
FEAR and INSIDER secrets.
For the True Believers among Bible Students, the idea floated around that Russell was the last prophet. Maria Russell had invented prophetic premises which had NEVER existed prior inside Christendom: "The Faithful and Wise Servant" or faithful and discreet slave MOUTHPIECE notion.
This false teaching was a HOTLINE to HEAVEN.
At the death of Russell, J.F. Rutherford parlayed this trickery into authority for himself above all others. He eventually subsumed the idea unto himself alone.
From that point forward, it has all been an illusion maintained by trickery.
The dates Rutherford (and his successors) pulled out of their magic hat, were sham DATES for the selfsame apocalypse.
This misdirection was accomplished by a false premise and the failure of the trick (dates produced zero events) was waved away by "Who are you going to believe? The Magician or your lying eyes?"
We all knew the Statue of Liberty did not really disappear, didn't we?
But, we are held in thrall as we pass through those moments of apparent magic in suspension of disbelief.
The thrill of vicarious danger. The relief of escape from that danger.
It is the ride which thrills.
It is the common sensation of shared DELUSION which is the mortar holding the bricks of Watchtower's Organization in place.
Terry - "The thrill of vicarious danger."
Ironic, really, since life as a dutiful JW ain't all that thrilling. :smirk:
Although, in retrospect, it can be kinda dangerous.
In today's videos straight from the throne room of the GB, there is very little magic. There's only propaganda.
Fear-mongering videos about jack-booted thugs crowding into basement hideaways and cringing JW's facing Great Tribulation persecution is the stuff of fantasy.
This is all they've got now. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, it's all distilled down to: Do What We TELL YOU or else.
None of the teachings can be defended, you see.
There is no excuse for the handling of child molestation issues.
So, all that remains is fear and obedience.
This is their epitaph.
People feel so much better being ignorant than being informed.
Such is the life of a J.dub They fear the search of knowledge in case it jeopardizes their faith . They would rather have faith than knowledge.
For JW’s, there is no payoff--there is no PRESTIGE
I disagree. The pay-off is hope. Hope that is sustained for a lifetime and they die happy in the confidence of a resurrection. I have been to a few funerals lately (such is the way as one gets older - your old friends peg out) and each one had a burning faith still bright . Deluded , maybe but full of hope.
Good post. I believe it's true that people want their illusions. I have an interest in modern urban legends, the stories people tell that happened to "a friend of a friend". I sometimes get them in email from, and I am often astounded that people forward these things with out checking to be sure they are true. Often the story has a payoff for them, it either validates a belief or reinforces a moral they hold dear.
For example, there is a MUL that "In God we Trust" was taken off of the dollar coin, they even had a picture of the coin missing the term. The idea was that this was a plot by atheists to take away any mention of God by the government. People were urged to refuse to accept these coins and to contact their congressman. The only problem is that the term was not removed, but simply put on the edge of the coin temporarily, by the time of the email The term had already gone back to the front of the coin.
Instead of being happy that there really wasn't a plot to remove religious terms from coins, the sender was quite peeved that I had pointed this out. They wanted to believe in a plot by atheists, as it validated their world view, they probably assumed I was the one making things up. It's very hard to counteract this kind of thinking, people believe what they want to believe, God forbid you confuse them with facts.
Sometimes people derive pleasure from just “letting go” and allowing themselves to be fooled. We all do this when we pay to go to a movie theatre to be entertained, and somewhat dazzled, by the state-of-the-art special effects. We’ve paid good money to allow ourselves to be “fooled,” even if it’s for a mere couple of hours. And that’s just fine and dandy.
However, where it can become unfortunately harmful and destructive is when the basic, primal elements of fear and shame are employed by religious groups to control people to such an extent that their natural logical, critical thinking ability, as well as conscience, are hijacked to the end of serving the leaders’ self-indulgence quest for power and glory.
“Your brain REWARDS you when your expectations are defeated by something unexpected!”
This is actually also a functioning of how we can enjoy music. (I saw a documentary on that recently.) Music presents us with certain patterns which build a sort of micro expectation and throws us a loop by changing to notes and chords which are pleasurably unexpected.
“. . . these magicians were variously called Prophets, Miracle Workers and Demi-gods.”
Don’t forget “oracles” – Fred Franz certainly comes to mind there.
“Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.”
You really stole my thunder there, Terry! That was one of the first things to come to my mind. I think pretty much all of us on this Website are in that class of having been fooled by a certain religion (the one with the spiffy new blue square logo, bearing within a certain “JW” dot “org” in white print – yes, that one) but are now much all the wiser for it. And thank goodness for that!
Ignorance is a wonderful thing. It is reality that really sucks. That is the reason why illusions work. People want to escape.
BTW, great post. Disturbing, but great.