My MIL held a Bible Study round to our place today and I was home so was interested to listen in from the next room to see what the quality of the study was like. And whether the new CLAM meetings are helping JW’s to be better teachers at all.
Conductor 1 (C1) - my 84 year old MIL (who I do love by the way, not trying to pay her out because she’s my MIL)
Conductor 2 (C2)
Student 1 - a lady that has been studying for years and has finished the Bible Teach Book
Student 2 - a new lady just starting her study that is friends of Student 1
Cameo - C2’s young son
Time: 90 mins
First half hour - coffee and chit chat
Prayer - neither my MIL who was conducting the study or the sister who prayed wore a head covering despite me being in the house. Apparently the headship principle doesn’t apply any more when the man is not going to meetings. Of course that’s not what the official policy is, but who cares right?
10 mins - more general chit chat about how miserable life is, then watched video of children signing kingdom song because…. well isn’t it cute? And don’t we have a wonderful hope? And doesn’t watching children sing make you even more emotional about how all your problems are going to be solved?
10 mins - discussing which book they’re studying and where they’re up to, getting their iPads organised
10 mins - C1 describes her experience growing up Presbyterian and bags them out for never having taught her anything at Sunday school except to learn scriptures - so she decided to study with JW’s along with her parents. She was only 11 years old at the time but apparently this immense life experience already provided her with all the information she needed to know that “NO OTHER religion in the world teaches you how you can be God’s friend, or teach you anything for that matter - they only read scriptures, they don’t explain them.” (Not wanting to defend any religion here, but just maybe the Presbyterians are wise enough to know that children shouldn’t be indoctrinated too much before they are even a teenager and thought Gods’ word could speak for itself)
So were more than 30 mins into the study proper and they finally read the first paragraph. They read first few paragraphs and just share more testimonials. They agree on how hard the Bible is to understand and how miserable life is again. Student 1 goes on about how her Bible study has changed her life (but not to the extent that she can give up smoking apparently - see below)
C1 explains that she is still learning new stuff about the Bible in her 80’s (what exactly? It’s not like they’re teaching anything new at the meeting, so I’m not sure where she is learning this stuff!)
Then they waffle on for another 10 mins about how learning about the Bible doesn’t help with problems, it just helps you cope with them. C1 explains all the trouble in her life and how the Bible helps her cope. This is a woman who pops a valium every day, and freaks out if she doesn’t get them. Medication helps her cope, not God.
After reading paragraph 4 on how people question how a loving god permits suffering the iPad jams and they fuss over that for a while. Then more personal testimonials about how much they cried learning about the reasons for God permitting suffering, then off on a sidetrack as Student 1 expressed their struggle with cigarettes and how they feel like the worst person in the world.
They discussed “how can we be sure that god is not responsible?” Answer: “just trust us, he isn’t, because he says he isn’t.”
Then the study was interrupted because one of the conductors children was dropped off.
Conductors keep explaining what they like abut the scriptures read instead of asking questions to sound out the students understanding.
Students just keep reaffirming how life changing they feel it is learning about the bible (when they haven’t learnt anything yet!) Very little of substance was actually discussed.
Conductors asked student about illustrations used. Student doesn’t get them so conductors read them agains and explains them instead and still have no idea if student gets it.
Student expressed what a mess their life is (JW prey on the vulnerable) and the advice? Keep praying. Though they just discussed earlier that God doesn’t actually do anything to help you.
Other student has been studying for over 3 years and still can’t quit smoking - Is God powerless to help?
So what did the new student learn?
1. People ask questions
2. People have problems (this was what they spent 90% of their time on and I’m sure the student new this before she came)
3. Problems don’t go away just because you pray about them
4. The Bible gives you answers and hope.
5. Gods got a good reason for letting you suffer - just trust us on that one for now, we’ll give you the reason months from now in chapter 11 after you’re sufficiently emotionally invested to accept the reason and not question it.
Don’t worry, be happy!