interesting EX-CO AMA ( Ask Me Anything) over on exjwreddit
Thanks darks but we could follow the link *wink* :)
konceptual99: Thanks darks but we could follow the link *wink*
Yeah, that's cool - it's a busy thread, not the easiest to read IMHO, with a lot of chat going on - just over 180 comments, but only around a dozen or so of them are actually AMA Answers.... talking of which....
You said - "In 7 years as a CO, only 8 of my recommendations were rejected by the branch" - Do you know why these 8 were rejected?
Yes, The Branch would tell me privately. Usually too young, too recent of a reproof, or reputation not good. If your sin became known all the way to the Branch somehow, no way you would bet appointed even with a CO recommendation for at least three or more years.
I would like you to set the record straight: Often there were talks given about women gossiping. However, in my experience, the men are much worse. What's your experience?
Yes the men are much worse. Men gossip under the guise of "protecting" the congregation. So I heard all of it. Who wanted to marry who, who had secret sins, who was ripping off who in their business deals, who couldn't get along, who was dressing provocatively, who was flirting with who. Which pioneer hated which elders and why. I had to sift through all that to see what to do if anything. Every single week. Just ridiculous. The brothers in the hall especially seemed to be more titillated by stuff then trying to help. So yes, absolutely, the men were much worse.
My father is an elder. At their request, he's been called to single sister's homes to "discipline" their child. I know for a fact one of those visits resulted in corporal punishment. Have you ever been asked to do the same thing, or heard of it?
In the country I served, children are normally respectful of their parents and grandparents. You would often see young people helping older people off the bus or giving up their seat. I rarely saw a "rebellious" kid. I never ever heard of someone asked to discipline someone else's child. As for teenagers, with mothers that were single sisters, they almost sometimes had a secret boyfriend or girlfriend that someone found out about. I tried to reason with them but you know how young infatuation is.
How widespread is domestic violence within the org in your experience? Did you encounter it much and how were the victims treated?
I never saw a case. Either I was too stupid to see it or it was well hidden. Most men had a mistress so they were "extra nice" to their wives while keeping their mistress out of sight. In the congregation so many brothers would commit adultery and then try to make it up to their wives. Then they would do it again. If I can remember a case of domestic violence I will post it.
This probably an obscure one... but in a judicial committee dealing with apostasy, did the subject of Adam being created in the year 4026 bce ever come up? Basically, how are such committees handled? Are the accused even given a chance to explain why or whY led them to challenge the WT's position?
I never dealt with a case of apostasy. Crazy I know but no one brought up doctrine. It was always, "What a nice talk, what a nice assembly." "Oh really, what did you like about it?"
"I don't remember but it was a nice talk."
In other words, no one cared about doctrine. Yes in the missionary home we discussed it but in my visits it was very superficial as far as doctrine.
That being said, we did discuss at Ministerial Training School how to deal with apostasy. Nip it in the bud. Attempt to "reason" with the person where they learned the "truth" and to be patient. If they continue, then protect the congregation.
But I never had to take those steps with anyone. Those who left just bolted and we never heard from them again.
We did hear that a former missionary from Canada had become apostate. Everyone commented about it.
Do you think some higher ups know it is BS and what motivates them?
Another great question.
My opinion is that they refuse to allow themselves to consider that it could all be false. All of these logical fallacies, Sunk Cost, Ad Hominem, False Dichotomy, I had no idea what they were and I don't think the higher ups know either. All we knew was that we have the "truth" and that we are imperfect. So we keep plodding along. There are meetings to go to and talks to give. Busy, busy, busy. I met with Zone overseers and Branch Coordinators and Bethel heavies over the years. I never noticed a hint of doubt. One of the recent JW TV broadcasters is my old pioneer partner when I was a young teenager. I have known him for 30 years. He never would even CONSIDER that it could be false. Of course he talks about the cracks but he still sees the wall as a good thing. Strong.
Yet I have slowly learned to dissect teachings and analyze and question, how? On THIS forum and the jehovahs-witness.com forum! At first I was scared, shaking even. But I started to learn.
It's like living being surrounded by a huge wall. It's so high you know you could never scale it but you feel safe inside. You never stop to check out the individual bricks that are holding the wall up. That's what the higher ups do in my opinion. They just keep going and don't think about it.
But what starts happening sometimes is that you see something that isn't true then you see something else that isn't true. You see little chips in the wall. I saw a crack with the 1914 generation change. But the wall still stands. Then as a CO I saw elders lying and cheating. More cracks. Then you see a huge gash. More teachings that don't make sense or crazy things happening in the congregations. The wall is not as strong as you thought it was. But no one else seems to notice it. Everyone else is ignoring it. If you point out a crack then someone will tell you to look at how big the wall is and how strong it is. "No wall is perfect, it has blemishes." So you keep going. Time for the meeting! Time for service! Time to teach pioneer school! We are all imperfect so don't criticize! Years go by. More responsibilities. You go to visit Brooklyn and see others who have dedicated more time than you have. So you respect them and their choice. Then you get more privileges! You feel important. You feel you must defend the organization. Don't point out the cracks we all are imperfect! Keep visiting congregations and keep serving and encouraging. The end is close we are almost there!
When do the walls come down? When did my walls come down? Those little cracks that some denied were there were real. Then I saw other cracks. Then I saw holes.
And then one day, I saw the door. It was open.
I've heard that if a CO got too fat they could be asked to step down as a CO.
I heard it's because of insurance?
Just what I heard, liability purposes. It kinda also sets a bad example, to be preaching modesty and being healthy (spiritual and physical) while standing there looking like that fat guy who is about to explode in monty pythons the secret of life.
The CO's where I served has to walk 5-10 miles a day in the heat. So I never saw an obese CO there. But I think you are correct. The Branch can remove you for obesity. In fact, they can remove you for anything they want.
What do you do for work now with such a large gap in your resume and no jobs given out by the "friends"?
I can't say what I do for work now it may give me away. Not many Witnesses do it. I don't earn much though I have to work a lot. No college degree.
Are you married now? Children?
Yes a beautiful wife and children. I could be a grandpa but instead I have little children! It's a wonderful life. I'm late to the party but I made it.
In light of the recent article that said the FDS is neither inspired nor infallible, what did you believe in regards to being spirit directed? Not just the leaders but across the board.
To clarify I'll give an example. My understanding was that they are imperfect but the holy spirit would lead them to the right answer maybe even using that imperfection. But when I got DFed a friend of mine asked if I really played up how sorry I was. When asked why, he said because the elders are just men and you need to convince them. That really shook me.
I believed that too. Somehow I worked it out in my mind. I remember in my missionary assignment a 17 yr old was appointed as an elder. Yep. Someone put his name in the elder recommendation column. He was in a rural area and he was supposed to be recommended as a servant. The Branch missed it and stamped their approval. When the CO came round again he had to delete him and then recommend him as a servant. At our CO meeting with the Branch they blamed it on us not doing the paperwork correctly. Holy Spirit? That bothered me for a long time. How did that happen?
Thanks to diogenesister for bringing this up and to Darkspilver for posting the content here. I hate wading through the mess that ia reddit's format. This was a great read!
Thanks for the post—informative stuff.
Just goes to show that one man's meat is another's poison hey darks
The former COs wall metaphor is compelling - especially how an individual may notice a crack here and a crack there in the wall - but no one else worries - instead they say, "Look at how big and strong the wall is."
A fantastic metaphor that captures the loneliness of those who are disturbed by the state of the wall - but no one else is worried.
Wo how informative. Thanks for posting all this info about being a CO and your experiences. It is very eye opening to see that CO's have a limited amount of power within the organization. We were taught to view them similar to saints too.
Hecce you're right about the "busy body" gossip sister. There is at least one in every congregation it seems and I've seen one disband an entire body of elders in a single congregation via her gossip and take down a PO and a few elders in another congregation. She boasted about it too and had a way of writing to the headquarters as to convince them of her ideas. Some of what she told was true, but she also added some extra things about the ones she did not like. It's interesting to see that even CO's are vulnerable to these types
Thanks for all this information about being a CO and your personal experiences.
More AMA Answers....
When did you wake up? Does anyone else in your family know the TTATT?
I just want to add that I really woke up after I had returned from my assignment and was serving as an elder. I don't want to give the impression that I was an active CO and suddenly woke up and quit. I had questions and concerns as a CO but I still believed this was "Gods Organization." It was when I returned from my assignment and was hoping for a CO spot here in the US that i started to wake up.
I was a true believer. Regular pioneering at 16, missionary at 24. When I became a CO, I really tried to use my power for the good, at least what I thought was good. So many times I ran into roadblocks with the Branch Office, but then I was a cult member, so I made mistakes and I was confused. I tried to recommend for elder and servant the "good" guys but I made mistakes there too. I was too harsh sometimes. When I look back now I made a mess of a lot of things. It hurts to think about it
To answer some of your questions, I am in the US. I am a graduate of the Ministerial Training School back when the school was new and they sent some graduates out as missionaries. I was assigned to Central America. I was a field missionary (140 hours per month) for three years then I was sent into the circuit work. This was during the years 1990-2001. I can't name the country for now, too many think I am still in and I am trying to help them. Tons of people on social media still think I am a JW, although some have I friended me due to questions and comments I make. I began really waking up in 2013, My wife woke up all the way in 2015. I actually quoted word for word someone's post on here and it worked with her!
Who in my family woke up first? My brother was disfellowshipped many years ago and he began to open his eyes then. I always had questions but I thought I had the answers. I remember distinctly being in the missionary home and studying the 1995 WT as a "family" with the generation change. It bothered us in the sense that we tried to make sense of it, I felt uncomfortable but of course we had to go back out in the field service so I just sort of pushed it to the back of my mind. There were so many little things that didn't make sense or weren't fair that added up.
When did you get married?
I didn't get married until I returned to the US.
What would you do different, if in a different world, in a different galaxy, in a different life.....well....you were allowed back to be a CO again? What will you change so the WT will not cause dissapointment among us 'apostates'? (of course, assuming you have 'open' doors to act and give your opinions with no one 'upstairs' harassing you)
The organizational structure itself is corrupt and causes more harm than good. There should never be a "Circuit Overseer." It causes people to be dependent on an organization for their decisions and happiness. There is no way to fix it.
Since you've been out, do you ever feel like someone from the Watchtower is keeping tabs on you still?
The Circuit Overseer gives a report on all MTS grads in their circuit. I know they used to report on me even after I was deleted as an elder. They have to. But since I have faded, they don't seem to care. I don't get phone calls or emails.
However, if they knew what I was up to on this forum, I would be immediately disfellowshipped. I interact with a lot of Witnesses still around the neighborhood and on Facebook. I am carefully trying to help as many as I can. If I was found it, I would be toast.
What doctrines do you personally believe now? Do you pray?
I don't believe in any doctrines, none, nada.
I was raised a JW from 1960's... I never felt like comfortable. There is a lot of arrogance in the hiarchy. Money mattered too. I was in and out over the years and had study's. And I thought about baptism. But I couldn't trust in the organization, and their specific views, which they do change. And I feel like I need to believe in the teachings of that who is baptizing me. But I feel thru JW I have learned to seek the truths. My question is don't you still believe in the great tribulation and it will start once the 144,000 are sealed and be swift once it starts.? Also do the elders or overseas have a special book they go by?
I don't believe in the Bible. I have actually read it 4 times all the way through. Too many contradictions and violence and ambiguity.
The elders have a book called, "Shepherd the Flock of God."
When Circuit Overseers are appointed, they receive a huge binder of Letters to Traveling Overseers dating from 1973. That's what I received. Perhaps all that is online now.
What parts of the bible and WT rhetoric were most substantial in waking up? For me the last straw came from deeply studying Isaiah's prophesy and the fall of Babylon/Jerusalem and allowing myself to look at references outside of the Watchtower's control.
Abraham sacrificing his son bothered me but I put it out of my mind.
Realizing that elders were not appointed by "Holy Spirit" after seeing all I saw about elders
I know in the past lots of Central America has relied on special pioneers for a lot of the organizational roles. It seems like entire congregations are proped up by two or three of these couples. In talking to one of those couples, they said the decision to send any special pioneers home has absolutely devastated parts of the country. Circuit overseers are trying to encourage many to stay in their assignment as regular pioneers, but many can't because of no jobs.
I know you left the area of the world a while ago, but I was wondering what you think the impact of special pioneers leaving will have on the growth there and the long term viability of the org there.
Absolutely correct. I served many small comgregations in my circuit where the Special Pioneers ran the show. They did everything. There are hundreds of congregations in Central America that are supported by Special Pioneers. They do all the talks, the studies, the accounts, everything. Making them leave will completely gut congregations.
Now that you're out, you have to create a belief system. What's yours? Will you still believe in God? Celebrate birthdays and Christmas?
Edit to add - I served in a Spanish language congregation in the U.S. They marched to their own drum. How much much did you fight that and what's the funkiest running congregation story you have?
No belief system really yet.
What do you mean "funkiest running congregation story"?
Ah, I see. So you were serving Jehovah with a date in mind, and then you let someone stumble you. \sarcasm
But seriously, did those ideas mess with you? I know 1 Peter 4 gets me. Clearly, 607 is a lie, and therefore 1914 is pure twaddle. So there is no end coming. And yet, every time I read that passage my JW self kicks in and tells myself "You're a ridiculer!"
Until recently I had those JW twinges also.
I really was bothered by the 1914 generation change. I worked so hard and I so hoped it would come by the year 2000. And then when it didn't come I was crushed.