The story of a renegade anointed

by Terry 10 Replies latest jw friends

  • Terry

    Remarkable Sister Pettifog


    This morning I arrived on my bicycle at the local Starbucks early and took up a seat at the outdoor table in the fresh air.

    That’s when it happened--a group of 3 older ladies at one of the other tables outside rose to leave and one of them walked over to my table and spoke directly to me.
    I was wearing earbuds at that moment and didn’t hear. I popped them out and asked her to repeat herself.

    “That’s a beautiful bicycle you have there. What a great way to stay healthy!”

    I thanked her and idly chatted about this and that.

    As I spoke, I could see she was scrutinizing my face like a private investigator rummaging for clues. The analytical part of my brain went on alert at that instant. What was she doing?

    “I think I know you. It’s been a long, long time ago when last I saw you. I don’t expect you’d remember me but I remember you because my great grandmother use to tell me how much you reminded her of her favorite movie star, Randolph Scott.”

    Straightaway, I put 2+2 together! I knew exactly who she was talking about--after all, nobody else in the whole world had ever said I looked like Randolph Scott but one lady!

    “You’re talking about **Mildred Pettifog, aren’t you?”

    This lady about fell over when I pulled that rabbit out of the hat!

    “How in the world--I mean--that’s impossible you should say that. How--how do you know that?”

    I explained the instant connection and invited her to sit. I could see she wanted to talk.

    She was probably in her 50s but who can really tell, right? She was jovial, keen-eyed, and pleasant. All the while I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    We swapped gossipy tidbits for a while about the Knorr Era Kingdom Hall folks
    until she was just about ready to leave. Then she stopped and gazed out into the past and dredged up a memory to relate to me.
    After I finished listening - well - I sort of sat dumb with my jaw hanging down.
    This pleasant lady told me a little story about Sister **Pettifog, her great grandmother.


    The first time I encountered Mildred Pettifog she was a full-time Pioneer knocking on strangers’ doors. (“Pioneer” means engaged in a door-to-door neighborhood ministry to achieve one hundred plus hours each month as a required ministerial quota.)

    Yes, she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and had been brought up as a Bible Student since the late 19th century.
    In case that means nothing to you, think of it this way, the Civil War was fought 15 years before Mildred was born.

    By the time I was introduced to her (1960), Sister Pettifog was already 80.

    Way back in 1960, when I first attended a Kingdom Hall as a guest, old ladies looked like old ladies. No Botox, facelifts, etc. White hair was quite acceptable.

    Sister Pettifog sported a little purple hat pinned to the back of her head by a long hatpin with an improbably large pearl on its end about the size of a robin’s egg. Her hair was mostly silver-white tinged with a faint blue tint.

    This elderly Sister flashed a crinkled smile and possessed large brown eyes like a puppy in a pet store window eager for adoption. Her skin was quite pale and her cheeks radiated a pinkish powder blush but were a proper style back in the olden days. Once seen, Sister Pettifog was not soon forgotten!

    Her dress appeared to be colorfully modest, hand-made on an old Singer sewing machine with prudently selected patterns from the local fabric shop. The steel-rimmed bifocals framed her wide-set eyes perfectly and bestowed an impression of quiet intelligence and wisdom.

    Although everybody who met Sister Mildred loved her instantly, the effect of her Jungle Gardenia perfume was devastating- tossing people’s nostrils hither and thither in pandemonium!

    The most remarkable aspect of Mildred Pettifog’s persona was the fact she was one of the anointed members at our Kingdom Hall.
    (At the time, it was special - very special...and mysterious.)

    What did it actually mean to be “anointed”? I wanted to know.

    Sister Pettifog had what was “a heavenly calling.”

    The vast majority of JW’s aim for an “Earthly hope.” Life everlasting in a new Eden.
    Scant few possess the interior tingle of a special self-awareness.
    If you’ve never been a Jehovah’s Witness, you’ll be scratching your head about now wondering aloud just how cuckoo this might be.

    Don’t worry about that right now, suffice it to say Mildred Pettifog was a rare individual viewed with almost “magical” specialness (although no JW would ever employ the word “magic.”)

    Until fairly recently, the eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world were under the impression the “anointed” got direct messages from the heavenly realm tipping them off about sacred secrets and advanced prophetic divination. These whisperings were better than stock market tips! (Although none has ever paid off).

    Certainly, this was the case when I was introduced on that first visit.
    The person introducing me spoke in a sudden and respectful hushed tone of awe in their voice as Mildred’s name was intoned.
    This created a funny feeling inside of me too. The psychology of awe is quite contagious! Sort of like, “Ya wanna meet Elvis?”


    Now you may be wondering why I’m telling you all this about one little old lady, right? Fair enough. Just hang in there - you’ll soon discover why.

    Let’s begin . . .

    ________________ORIGIN STORY

    Before I met my future best friend Johnny, he had gone through a sudden ‘conversion experience’ after a conversation with Mildred Pettifog.
    He was only 9 years old at that time.

    Sister Pettifog knocked on the door and Johnny’s mother Jenny answered.

    Much to his surprise and horror, Jenny started cussing out the old lady and slammed the door in her face after only a few moments of discussion of the Bible!

    Johnny felt his world crash about him.
    After all, Jenny was NOT that kind of person. She was a charming, affable, and genuinely kind woman. Why had she been so vulgar and rude to the old lady?

    (Johnny told me the whole story many decades afterward.) Now I tell you.

    Johnny’s parents moved to Fort Worth from South Texas and dressed up special to go to the nearby Baptist Church for the first time taking all their kids with them (Johnny, Judy, JoAnn, Vicki).
    Upon arrival, the Pastor of the all-white church pulled them aside and not-too-politely instructed them to go to the “Mexican” Baptist Church three miles distant.
    “You folks will feel more comfortable there.”

    Johnny’s father was from a Spanish family and his skin was deep-hued in an era in which race relations in the South were testy, judgmental, and volatile.

    Following this stinging and hurtful embarrassing rejection, Jenny and Steve disavowed church in a fit of righteous indignation, nursing their tender feelings self-isolated from the fellowship of any sort.

    The arrival of Sister Pettifog at the door that day was ill-timed at the “worst possible” moment for raw emotions triggering an unfortunate outburst from Jenny Santa Cruz.

    9-year-old Johnny ran after the old lady and apologized to her for his mother’s tantrum and insults.
    Sister Pettifog was jovial and forgiving.
    She invited Johnny to sit with her once a week for a private Bible study. He leaped at the offer being of an especially open and intelligent frame of mind given to a natural curiosity about the Divine.
    So powerful was the teaching and personality of Sister Pettifog, in no time at all she was studying with the rest of Johnny’s family, overcoming all objections, answering questions, and amazing them with her uncanny grasp of all the spiritual secrets of the Almighty Jehovah!

    The upshot of this incident will now make more sense to you with this background in place. You see, Johnny became my best friend some 3 years after that incident and he began bombarding me with religious conversation from day one.
    A kind of apostle of Pettifoggery.

    When I attended the local Kingdom Hall with him my first time, it was fated to be my first meeting with Johnny’s favorite person in all the world Sister Pettifog!
    It was Johnny’s tone of hushed awe which made my spine tingle when Sister Pettifog took my hand and told me, “You remind me of my favorite movie actor, Randolph Scott!”

    _____________BACK TO OUR STORY

    We’ve now squared the circle on all the background, haven’t we?
    Yes, I think so.
    I became a Jehovah’s Witness 3 years later in 1963.

    Four years later, I was sentenced to possibly 6 years in Federal Prison on a religious belief during the Vietnam War.
    Johnny had one eye and flat feet - no prison required.
    He married in 1967, the same year I went to Seagoville Federal prison.
    I was paroled in 1969 and 5 months later - I married Johnny’s sister, JoAnn.

    At this point, I’ll try my best to give you the story as told to me by the great-granddaughter of Mildred Pettifog.

    ________PETTIFOG goes rogue?

    “The first time my great grandmother said one bad thing about the WatchTower organization I thought I was going to have a heart attack! It was like a bomb went off in my head! Granny Mildred is the one person most able to turn a Bible study into a Baptism. She had a way about her. She was not just the best; she was the best of the best.
    Truth as published by the WatchTower organization had a way of suddenly flipping the script and Granny Mildred noticed it and used the word, “Sneaky.”

    This shocked me. I didn’t believe my ears.
    I asked her to explain. When I heard what she had to say, I wished I hadn’t!

    She stood there in the kitchen helping me wash dishes like she always insisted on doing and at the same time started ticking off a long list of “sneaky” things she claimed the Organization had done over the years to prove they were “making stuff up.”

    I kept telling her not to continue. I was panicking! I immediately thought of rushing her to the hospital. It was obvious to me--or so I thought--she had suffered a stroke and wasn’t responsible for her words!”

    “A year passed with these embarrassing conversations (private as they were). We moved to Oklahoma and started going to a new Kingdom Hall. All the while, she kept going to all the meetings and out in Field Service, (door to door,) like nothing inside her had changed. I asked her how she could pretend what she was learning and teaching was still “The Truth”?

    “Granny smiled and explained that her ‘anointing’ could do a whole lot more good ‘undercover’ than as an Apostate because nobody was allowed to listen to an ex-member. But everybody would listen to her as one of the anointed remnant!”

    At this point in her story, I was begging for details.
    Granddaughter glanced at her watch. She had to go shortly but she said she’d tell me this one thing Granny did when she was around young Witnesses. The teens.

    Sister Mildred Pettifog would wait until she was in the car with a trapped audience who couldn’t flee. Then she’d start talking about her life as a Jehovah’s Witness. . . .

    ____PETTIFOGG’S HISTORY from her own testimony

    "I stay faithful to the Organization!
    I knew I was going to heaven no matter what the Governing Body decided was true!
    Right or wrong. Where else would I go?
    I didn’t graduate from High School or go to college when I was young because Armageddon was coming in 1914--what good would a worldly education do me?
    Pastor Russell said what Jehovah told him and it didn’t happen the way he told it.
    Was it a mistake? A human opinion? Wrong is wrong. But we believed it and we were surprised, sad, and many of our Friends declared it a ‘false prophecy’ and left the Organization. Not me."

    "Pastor Russell took a wait-and-see attitude but he died and Brother Rutherford told us 1925 was the year it would all go down. Another mistake, or human opinion, but Jehovah’s anointed remained faithful to the organization.
    The Bible says “No man knows the day and hour.” That didn’t stop Brother Franz and Brother Knorr from 1975, however.
    It was exactly the same thing taught in 1874, moved forward a hundred years.
    Yes, 1874, 1914, 1925, 1975. We all went along preaching it as ‘Truth’ even though it was men’s opinions, wrong guesses, and the anointed slave assuring us we are a spirit-directed organization. Who am I to say they are wrong - until the date comes and goes? I remained faithful to the Organization."

    "I am in my 90’s knowing we, the anointed, were dying off.
    We are the anointed Generation of 1914 and have to still be alive to SEE the end.
    Our lives were used as the Countdown Clock. We are part of the MILLIONS NOW LIVING who will NEVER DIE. Do you understand? Why would we leave an organization that gives us this heavenly assurance?"

    "Each year, more of us anointed die and it assures and proves Armageddon is getting closer and closer. What fool would risk leaving with such assurance?
    Now I’m 98 years old. I was 95 the last time Armageddon didn’t come. Do you understand? It is now 1977. 3 years ago we were taught the world was ending because of Earthquakes, famine, and wars, and IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
    Many have gone away now. They lost faith in Jehovah’s Organization.
    But, not me! I’m faithful and loyal to the bitter end.”


    Mildred Pettifog’s granddaughter shook her head in wonderment at the words she related and added, “How she got away with that--I just don’t know. You could see the young kids’ faces. They didn’t know if she had lost her mind or what!”

    If a young person were of college age, she went out of her way to talk to them.
    She’d get them off by themselves and say: “I never got a proper education because the world was ending. It ended over and over and over.”

    “I have friends who never married because of that, too. They have no kids or grandkids because we were assured we’d all be in heaven or Paradise. Many people now are old, bitter, and unhealthy thinking they never lived a real-life - just waiting around for Armageddon.
    Not me. I went ahead and married and I had beautiful kids and grandkids. I’m anointed too - and Jehovah’s spirit allowed me the freedom to have a life.
    Well, I am sorry I didn’t go to college. I could have earned enough money to give my children and grandchildren a start in life. But don’t listen to me. I’m just a grumpy old lady and my mind isn’t as clear as it used to be. You better do exactly what the Organization tells you to do.”

    Then Granny would walk away leaving those young JW’s with a dazzled expression of pure horror and puzzlement behind.


    I asked the granddaughter if any Elders ever gave her a good stern talking to?

    “Oh for heaven’s sakes! Are you serious? Granny was too slick for that!
    She knew her scriptures and she’d start quoting them one after another until the busybody would shrug and give up. You see, she knew they had too much respect for her to get mean--as they do with most members who have loose tongues.”

    I asked what happened to Sister Pettifog.

    “Granny died peacefully in her sleep 10 days before her hundredth birthday.
    She had written a long letter to be read to the congregation at her funeral.
    She mailed it to the Presiding Elder and a copy to WatchTower headquarters a few days before she died. Do I need to tell you, that letter disappeared and was never read or mentioned by anybody?

    I was asked if I knew anything I needed to tell--about Sister Pettifog’s state of mind.

    I told them she had only grown more loving, kind, cheerful, and open-hearted the older she got. I told them what she had said about loyalty to Jehovah’s Organization, too. They didn’t seem to catch the irony.”

    It was time for the granddaughter to leave. I thanked her for stopping to talk to me.
    As an afterthought, I asked one more question.

    “Did any of that weaken your faith?”

    She smiled as she climbed into her car and told me her answer:
    “The day after her funeral I walked away and haven’t been back to a meeting since then. Nice talking to you, Randolph.”

    Away she drove.

    _________________AFTER THOUGHTS

    Pettifog was directly responsible for my best friend Johnny’s captivation by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Johnny, in turn, was responsible for my interest leading to my eventual imprisonment later on during the Vietnam War.
    I was a Pioneer who held many Bible studies leading to baptisms and new members.

    I’d love to know how many young people she spoke to whose minds were changed toward and away - inspired or awakened by her cunning testimony?

    She truly was a Remarkable Sister Pettifog!


    Terry Walstrom

    **Note: I have changed the name to avoid tampering with people’s memory of her.
    Removing and substituting the name Pettifog is a writer’s gimmick. You see, in the mid-16th Century, a lawyer who made endless objections was known as a Pettifog.
    If you think you know the identity but aren’t sure - I’ll give a hint. Her nickname was “Boots.” She was in the Poly Congregation in Ft. Worth, Texas


  • Diogenesister

    One of my all-time Terry favourites☺️

  • Terry

    Me too. Each time I reprint it- I edit it. One day it will be down to a readable length.
    Thank you.

  • truth_b_known

    Great story, Terry!

    I have similar story. I think there's a common thread. It is obvious to me that at a certain point the Watchtower turned on those who claimed to be of the anointed. I huge blow was the change in the doctrine that only the Governing Body are the Faithful and Discreet Slave. All other anointed still on Earth are just rank and file.

  • Magnum
    truth_b_known: It is obvious to me that at a certain point the Watchtower turned on those who claimed to be of the anointed. I huge blow was the change in the doctrine that only the Governing Body are the Faithful and Discreet Slave. All other anointed still on Earth are just rank and file.

    That change in doctrine was, to me, far bigger than most realize. To me, it was an illegal (according to JW theology) take-over, a coup d'état. Prior to the change, all of the anointed on earth made up the FDS; therefore, they should have had a say in the decision (especially since it was such a big one and involved them directly), but, they were not consulted. They were just stripped of power by a handful of men who now have all power. The organization never felt the same to me after that.

  • truth_b_known
    To me, it was an illegal (according to JW theology) take-over, a coup d'état.
    Prior to the change, all of the anointed on earth made up the FDS; therefore, they should have had a say in the decision (especially since it was such a big one and involved them directly), but, they were not consulted.

    Spot on, Magnum!

    In 1992 my father was disfellowshipped after his judicial committee. He was not told what the official reason was, but I heard from another source it was for apostasy. I do know the question that was asked of him was "Do you, as someone who professes to be of the anointed, consider yourself part of the Faithful and Discreet Slave?" He answered "Yes." That sealed his fate.

    Interestingly, a year later he was reinstated. I do not believe if he was asked if he still maintained his belief or not. I left the religion prior to the change in doctrine and never asked my father what his thought was on it. I just know he did not quit being a Witness.

    I recall a then friend telling me that he found fellow Witnesses had a hard time accepting a Witness as being one of the anointed if that person was not a fulltime Bethelite with some sort of special position. My father told me that in 1987 a new Circuit Overseer came in who had a reputation for targeting those who claimed to be of the anointed for disfellowshipping and my father was in his crosshair. It seems like there is a lot of bias towards such ones.

  • Nephilim87

    Cool story bro

  • Terry

    I almost think Pettifog's personal testimony could be taken two opposite ways, which is to say: PRO Org (non-ironic) or sort of like Marc Antony's funeral speech at Caesar's funeral.
    However, the granddaughter's inside information, in private conversations with Mildred, makes it pretty clear that she was fighting "sneaky" with "sneaky" of her own.

    " The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
    If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

    And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
    Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
    For Brutus is an honourable man;
    So are they all, all honourable men–"
  • under the radar
    under the radar

    Great story, Terry! Thanks for running it again.

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    Thanks, Terry, for fleshing out your Pettifog experience. Very revealing, indeed.


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