Article: "Why God Won't Go Away" (Contains an example of a JW) An excellent read!

by AndersonsInfo 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • AndersonsInfo

    Why God Won’t Go Away

    “A Saul turning into Paul is neither a rarity nor a miracle. In our day, each proselytizing mass movement seems to regard the zealous adherents of its antagonist as its own potential converts. Hitler looked on the German Communists as potential National Socialists: ‘The petit bourgeois Social-Democrat and the trade-union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communist always will.'”—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951)

    Mixbook  Beautiful Possibilities A Graphic Introduction to the Examined Life by John Faithful Hamer - Google Chrome 2015-09-27 52513 PM

    Jerry Falwell actually said something smart once. When asked what the difference was between an Evangelical and a Fundamentalist, Falwell said: “a Fundamentalist is just an Evangelical who is angry about something.” In terms of doctrine, there’s no real difference between your average Evangelical Christian and your average Fundamentalist Christian. Likewise, in substantive terms, the difference between “atheism” (i.e., “old atheism”) and “new atheism” is this: nothing. The difference is more a difference of style. New atheists (or, as they often prefer to be called, “evangelical anti-theists”) are angry about something. Old-school atheists are about as worked up about people who believe in God as they are about people who believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    In The Future of an Illusion (1927), Freud maintained that giving up on God and embracing atheism was really all about shedding youthful illusions and growing up. Though deeply insulting and profoundly condescending (to religious people like me), I must confess that Freud’s characterization of atheism used to ring true to me. It ably describes the somber atheism of Nietzsche and Marx. Atheists used to sound like grown-ups, like those party-pooper grown-ups who come downstairs at midnight, turn on the lights, and tell everyone it’s time to turn off the music, clean up, go home, and get a good night’s sleep; these days, atheists sound like shrill teenagers, like those know-it-all preachy vegan teenagers who want the whole family to switch to soy. Be that as it may, they’ve got religion all wrong, and so far as I can tell, there are three main reasons for this: (1) like fundamentalists, the new atheists take religion far too literally; (2) they think they know what religion means to Joe Average, Regular Rhonda, and Typical Tanya; (3) they fail to see that religion shapes how you think and believe far more than what you think and believe.

    Teaching on religion early on in my teaching career was profoundly eye-opening for me. I expected most of my students to know little or nothing about religion, and this was, alas, largely the case. What I didn’t expect to find was that many of my most religious students were equally clueless. Religious identity was clearly important to them, often very important, and yet their knowledge of their own religion was practically non-existent. It took me a few weeks to realize, for instance, that the guy in the corner who described himself as “born again” and got all fired up about Richard Dawkins, knew practically nothing about Christianity. Likewise, it took me a month to realize that the bright young woman in the hijab, who got all fired up whenever an unkind word was said about Islam, knew practically nothing about Islam.

    People like this used to frustrate me. But now they fascinate me. Because the success or failure of a social movement is largely dependent upon them. There’s always a gulf, a fascinating gulf, between an idea’s intellectual appeal and its emotional appeal, between what a movement is supposedly all about—according to its highly-articulate apologists, its slick PR-people, its intellectuals—and what it actually means to Joe Average, Regular Rhonda, and Typical Tanya. An old friend of ours from Baltimore is a case in point. Let’s call her Cindy.

    Cindy was brought up in a hard-core Jehovah’s Witness household. Her family was among the most pious in their religious community. People looked up to them with a mixture of fear and awe. They were the gold standard: a family that never missed a meeting at the Kingdom Hall and spent thousands of hours spreading the faith each year. Cindy fell away from the faith in her late teens and got “disfellowshiped” (systematically shunned by her entire community). When we met her she was in her mid-20s. She hadn’t spoken to anyone in her family for years. She had dreads and tattoos, and a massive hate-on for religion. She’d rejected all of her parents values and beliefs, and she never had a kind word for the Witnesses. Yet it was obvious to us, charmingly obvious, that she was still a Jehovah’s Witness in so many ways. READ MORE:

  • OrphanCrow

    Thanks, Barbara.

    A really great article.

  • steve2

    Thanks for this article Barbara. Very well written with lots to think about. The author demonstrates a deep awareness of human nature and what "drives" people. An article worth keeping. Thanks again.

    I so get what the author meant when he wrote about Cindy. For so many of us - yes, I include myself! - we swap one kind of "zeal" and "misson" for another. I suspect it also happens the other way round too: People who convert to the organization bring their own issues with them but subvert them to the organization's issues.

    A key quote for me:

    She’d rejected all of her parents values and beliefs, and she never had a kind word for the Witnesses. Yet it was obvious to us, charmingly obvious, that she was still a Jehovah’s Witness in so many ways.

  • Vidiot

    You can take the girl out of the Watchtower, but it's a lot harder to take the Watchtower out of the girl.


    BTW, it's true.

    God won't go away, no matter how much I beg him to.

    Of all the screaming voices in my head, his is the loudest.

  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen

    Nice read.

    It's good for all of us to be aware of our inner Jehovah's Witness and get rid of it...

  • PaintedToeNail

    Someone on here (can't remember who), brought up the same point made in this article. He left the JW's, but his friends would remind him periodically when he got on his soap box, that his JW was showing,

  • nicolaou

    It's a good article, thanks for sharing it Barbara. A couple of points though; individuals are just that, individual. I wouldn't have fit into that 'Joe Average' group because even as a teenager I knew what I believed. Of course, I lacked the critical skills to evaluate it subjectively but I did know the doctrines and beliefs. None of that is to my credit of course, in a way the folks like me who did know their JW history and dogma prove themselves bigger fools than the majority who just went along with the crowd.

    And secondly, this negative reaction to getting on your 'soapbox' or having your 'JW' showing. I think I'm more comfortable with folks like that than people who call any deeper discussion 'boring' or 'argumentative', people who just want everyone to 'get along'.

    Rambling, sorry . . . .

  • smiddy

    Another way of putting it if I may :

    Many Jehovah`s Witnesses of many years , mainly born ins , of many years , for one reason or another fall away from the religion and they stop participating in , or attending meetings anymore.

    However :

    They may by all accounts have left the religion physically , but not emotionally , or even Physcologicaly , nor factually , in other words they left the religion but the religion has never left them .

    The reason , in part , is because they have not based their beliefs on facts , or evidence , or reason , but on emotion

    These people usually have no knowledge of the Bible scriptures to back their beliefs , or even the basic knowledge of the beliefs of the faith they profess .Many of them just following on from the faith of their parents,

    So when a disaster occurs somewhere in in the earth , they storm back into the religion , until it all dies down , and their gone again , till the next disaster happens , and then , their back again ,


  • David_Jay


    Not being "Joe Average" is often what makes a person move beyond the elementary positions of atheism vs. theism, feeling they need to speak up every time something is said about this subject or that.

    I subscribe to principles of the transconvictional movment wherein arguing about or declaring life is all about what one believes regarding God or a lack thereof is not as important or irrelevant compare to merely living out what one is. So to some people it is "Joe Average" who sees discussing that old "this conviction vs that conviction" argument boring, a waste of time, immature.

    I personally don't expect people to get along. I have every reason to expect people will always find a reason to nit pick others to death, be angry with others who have different convictions, want to destroy or at least hurt that which they are ignorant about, steal, murder, etc. People will only be convinced when they want to be and not when they are not willing to change their views. People love to argue and prove themselves right and another wrong even if they aren't.

    That may be your cup of tea, but there will always be somebody out there who finds delight in making you feel insignificant for your views. I try never to give them that satisfaction, and never to be that person to another, and sometimes the only way to do that is skip the discussion altogether.

  • vivalavida

    The article has expressions that remind me of an expression I read somewhere here on the forum:

    "Your JW is showing" - And I believe it's true. Like a friend of mine who also got out constantly says when he catches himself showing typical JW attitudes... I guess you can live the organization, but the organization doesn't leave you that easily.

    Changing behavior and how you think are some of the hardest things we can do. Not impossible though, we just need to keep learning and growing and, IMHO exposing yourself to different point of views and attitudes with an open and curious mind.


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