Talking Janet Jackson and Religious Freedom with the Wife

by OnTheWayOut 18 Replies latest jw friends

  • OnTheWayOut

    My recent sidewalk discussion with a couple of JW's has gotten me in the mood to say more when appropriate.

    So the wife and I were riding in the car and Cat Stevens comes on. I mentioned to her that Cat Stevens left music when he was still popular and converted to Islam back in the 1970's- how he was told that his music would have to be morally acceptable and he found it easier to just abandon making new music for at least 20 years.

    So I didn't really remember all the details and I figured the conversation would die. But my wife compared it to Janet Jackson's ending her tour and converting to Islam for her Billionaire husband who wanted her to give him an heir. I said "Whatever happened there? I remember she was pregnant. Was it a boy?"

    My wife apparently was updated at the hair salon. She said that Janet had a boy and separated from the billionaire shortly afterward, stating that she was severely verbally abused by the husband, and is now in a custody battle. So I decided to see where I could take this conversation.

    OTWO: What do you think about what Janet said?

    Mrs. OTWO: Well, I was very surprised that Janet would convert to Islam and have a baby at near 50 years old. She had to stay on bed rest to do so.

    OTWO: What about the Muslim lifestyle? Did she cover her hair?

    Mrs. OTWO: She said she loved having a private life- remember that she had a previous marriage for years that nobody knew about. Supposedly, she liked the idea of Islam and living a quiet life. I heard that she totally converted, but I never saw photos of her in Muslim garb.
    (WRONG, Apparently, pregnant Janet DID release photos in full hijab, and may not have actually converted to Islam, but possibly only accepted the lifestyle, but not important to my discussion with my wife.)

    Mrs. OTWO: Her family gave her the strength to get away from her husband with her son. She is still fighting for custody and is supposed to start touring again.

    OTWO: So I imagine her family helped her to de-convert from Islam.

    Mrs. OTWO: Why? I mean, she converted and her son may very well be raised Muslim.

    OTWO: Because she was treated like dirt by her own husband. Because she probably realized how common that is within Islam. Because she was able to see the truth of it. I think it's wonderful that her family didn't give up on her and were ready to help break her free from an oppressive religious life.
    (I don't know if my wife picked up any vibe of a slight dig at 'oppressive religious life' or not, but at least I got to say how family was ready to break her free from it.)

    So that could have been the end of our discussion, but we later were driving after having visited a Chinese friend who was helping his nephew from China to get through school in the United States. The nephew is still in high school and attends a Lutheran Christian school. The nephew stated how the school claims wrongly that in China, much religion is suppressed. He feels that religion is given freedom in China. That led to a discussion about whether that was true or not. His uncle said that many religions in China are underground religions that the government doesn't approve of because they may be places where people discuss and plan anti-government movements. I said I had directly heard the same thing about Cuba- that they banned churches for a long time because that was where people gathered to plan anti-communism things.

    So back to the car. My wife asked what side of the issue I was on about whether the nephew was right or the Lutheran school was right. I said that the nephew lived in a small town in China where people may have been a bit more open about their beliefs than in heavily populated areas. But I decided to go further with this discussion since we had gotten pretty far earlier about Islam.

    OTWO: Just as Janet Jackson might have been getting information on Islam just from her fiancee at the time and not really seeing that the lifestyle was harsh on women because he treated her well before marriage, the nephew probably hasn't seen the real oppression of religion in China. Even his uncle admitted to underground religions existing, but seemed to be of the opinion that it was only because they were anti-government. Without knowing more, I would have to lean toward agreeing with the Lutheran school.

    Mrs. OTWO: Yeah, but they don't know from any personal experience. The uncle and the nephew lived there and have a different opinion. Doesn't their personal experience outweigh opinions?

    OTWO: Possibly. I think the uncle tended to agree that religion wasn't free but was hesitant to say any more that might sway his nephew whose family all still live in China. And further, the nephew is just 17 and had been in China all his life until less than 2 years ago. Don't you think that he needs exposure to outside information before he could be sure that his personal experience allows him a proper viewpoint?

    Mrs. OTWO: Yes, I suppose so.

    (Okay, I opened a door. Now, rather than let it go, I decided to connect the dots to be sure she got the point.)

    OTWO: So you can agree it's a good thing for the nephew to be exposed to outside information?

    Mrs. OTWO: Yes.

    OTWO: And do you agree that in a case like Janet Jackson's, information about the beliefs wasn't enough? She had to see how the teachings were manipulated by her husband to allow such treatment of women.

    Mrs. OTWO: Yes, I guess so.

    OTWO: So maybe you understand your husband a little better. I gathered information only from the religion I converted to, not checking with outsiders with another point of view. I had to be fully immersed in the lifestyle before I could see how the teaching were manipulated to control members.

    Mrs. OTWO: That's not the same at all.

    OTWO: Just tell me what the differences are then. The Lutheran school could be wrong, but you admit the nephew needs to be exposed to outside information. People might misunderstand a lifestyle based on a completely different set of beliefs, but you admit that Janet benefited from seeing the lifestyle. A huge difference for someone like you would be not knowing any other lifestyle to compare it to, but Janet did and this nephew is learning about different lifestyles.

    Well, that shut Mrs. OTWO down on that conversation. But not so hard as it did in the past. She stopped talking about the thing triggering discomfort, but we continued talking about unrelated things. In the past, she would have to go to full silence.

  • ToesUp

    Excellent. You handled that beautifully. She may not say anything to you but she IS thinking about what you said.

  • dubstepped

    I agree with ToesUp. You handled that very well. Waking up isn't often one big jolt but a series of questions and doubts over time. You just opened her mind a bit. You can bet she's thinking about it even if she never says a thing.

  • cha ching
    cha ching

    Yep, she is at least "not being mad all day."

    Great job, she won't be able to forget your comparisons.... you got her to agree with two different scenarios, and then came the "absolutely not", haha!

    It will be interesting to see what happens next!

  • days of future passed
    days of future passed

    Comparisons are always a great way to go. Now when your wife hears something at a meeting or assembly that touches on that subject, it will pop up in her mind. She will start comparing between the examples, what you said about yourself and how the society spins it.

  • AudeSapere

    Great exchange of ideas! and great examples of religious control.

    What I *really* like about this conversation (attempt to wake her up) is that all three examples can come back into her thoughts often and at any given time. Without you even saying another word on the matter, she will likely remember the discussion whenever Cat Stevens or Janet Jackson (or other Jackson) comes on the radio, whenever you meet with your family friend from China, or whenever Chinese Immigrants are mentioned on TV.

    Almost like an earworm, she may well have a hard time *not* remembering your comments.

  • flipper

    OTWO- That was awesome ! Well done indeed ! It seems like you really followed Hassan's methods here. Your wife will have that comparison stuck inside her head- whether she consciously wants it there - or not . It was really brilliant how you were able to subtly get her to think - and then she even agreed with you on a few points. But of course the JW brain senses " danger Will Robinson, danger Will Robinson ! " and starts shutting out thoughts that might change her world view as a JW. But I guarantee- it's still inside her mind. Keep up the great work ! Thanks for sharing. It will assist in giving other posters here in your situation with a believing JW wife to see how to approach situations

  • scratchme1010
    Well, that shut Mrs. OTWO down on that conversation. But not so hard as it did in the past. She stopped talking about the thing triggering discomfort, but we continued talking about unrelated things. In the past, she would have to go to full silence.

    Wow! Now you share everything from this point on!

    Great conversation. I'm very glad that you can have that type of conversation with her. Some of us could never have that type of conversation with our JW loved ones.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  • MrRoboto

    Good job, you gave her the gift that keeps on giving, like the other comments noted.

    "An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious.

  • NVR2L8
    Great story OTWO. After 7 years my wife is still at the silent treatment stage as soon as I try to reason with her...

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