But brothers and sisters seemed to be almost proud of the wealthier
amongst us....whilst dismissive of the wealthy who were not JWs.
Alive! This was not my experience. Growing up a JW, I observed that the JWs who had the most were often deemed "materialistic" unless they were Elders. Wealthier Elders who gained what they had BEFORE they were JWs were excused from this judgment. This also applied to those who had higher education: if you got it BEFORE you "learned the Truth" then OK. But if wanted to get an education AFTER you became a JW, then you were judged. One elder I grew up with was a college professor. (Not with a big university, but a more modest college, but a professor none-the-less.) He was excused for this because he became a professor before he was a JW. Yet, he actually discouraged me from attending college when I asked him how I should start my own higher educational path saying it was "worldly." Hypocritical much?
Of course, the term "materialistic" was often thrown around and usually applied to anyone who simply had more than they did and was not prominent in the congregation. They figured, if you were not a pioneer, Elder or at least a Ministerial Servant and you had money, then you were "pursuing worldly things" and that you "loved money more than you loved Jehovah." I actually had one person tell me that about myself. I reminded him that I pioneered as a young person and went to Bethel, but after that I wanted a higher education and to buy a home, get married and raise a family like a normal human being. I told him I paid my dues. But that was not good enough for him, because now I lived in a brand new home that I had built and was not serving in any capacity any longer, so I must be materialistic and did not love Jehovah "enough."
Regarding "Armageddon houses," yes, I heard this ALL the time as a child. I often wondered how we knew these houses would make it through all the lightning bolts, earthquakes, floods, fires, riots and such that would most certainly happen at Armageddon, but I never questioned it until I got much older. Once I started thinking for myself, I wondered how we JWs would maintain the infrastructure required for such housing: public sewage systems, public electrical, water, gas, roads, etc. Also, why did the publications always show houses were in some sort of tropical paradise, sitting on vast acreage of land and not side by side in a mundane tract housing development?
The more I thought about it, the more my head hurt.
Oh, and regarding that guy who deemed me materialistic and not loving Jehovah enough? He was a pioneer who received his money from an inheritance and lived off it. Once the inheritance ran out (by doing stupid things like spending it on a new car and then crashing it without insurance) he left "the Truth."