The theme text for Jehovah's Witnesses this year is, "Keep On The Watch...Prove yourselves ready." (Matthew 24:42, 44)
And what a year it has been for the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.
Ever mindful of the fact that 90 years have passed, since Jesus supposedly began ruling as King; they are aware that the enthusiam for all things "Watchtower" has waned.
They have been publishing, preaching and teaching for well over 125 years. Not one of their "promises" has come to pass.
Generations of youth can now look back over a century of their prophecies and see for themselves that, "my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents," and in some cases, "my great-great grandparents" have all been saying that the end is near.
The Society is aware that the Internet, the most formidable weapon for false prophets, has opened up the biggest can of worms in recent years.
Everything that they have worked so hard to hide has been exposed, from child abuse, to false doctrines, from wrongful disfellowshippings, to their liasion with the United Nations.
This year, the paranoia and desperation has found its way into almost every issue of the Watchtower.
Some highlights of 2004
In March, the Society published two study articles on the origin of the "faithful and discreet slave," and "The faithful and discreet slave passes the test!" Aware that people are questioning their legitimacy, they feel the need to superimpose on witness minds, that they indeed, are "God's only channel of communication."
One study article from "God's channel" commented that a brother said about his congregation, "the brothers are all stressed out," as one reason that meeting attendance was so low. The Society further commented that, "God's requirements are not budensome." Obviously, they must think they are God, as Jehovah would never really expect his worshippers to count their time and placements.
MARCH - MAY
Looking at the service report for the "Memorial Season", they had one of the lowest numbers of aux. and regular publishers in years.
A recent article suggested, "that the friends are slowing down in the ministry - some even giving up the preaching work." What can be done to help those, they ask?
A study article for this month suggests putting all your hobby materials in a box and putting the box out of sight. One couple who did this were able to make more time for "Kingdom Interests" the article goes on to say.
Stay away from Internet Dating websites - too bad if you're single and have no one, we don't want you looking on the Internet - even if they are witness websites.
NEW RELEASE: "Keep On The Watch" - A brochure that is really meant for the dubs, not the public. Uses fear and guilt and examples of past judgements from Jehovah to motivate people not to slow down in "Jehovah's service."
"Would it make a difference if you knew?", they ask? Well, supposedly, the Society knew many dates for the big "A" and got them all wrong.
Respect Jehovah's Authority
This little gem of an article in the Kingdom Ministry required that you watch the video twice and let it doubly impress on your mind that you should respect "those whom Jehovah chooses."
Don't complain, be satisfied with your privileges of service and look happy.
A study article for this month cautions witnesses, "not to replace their hope with worldly dreams and goals.
Beware the voice of strangers
It seems the message isn't getting through - apostates have been successful in stumbling some brothers. Almost every other WT article this year, has mentioned apostates, even likening them to kidnappers.
New DVD release: Young People - What Will You Do With Your Life?
Another video from the cult telling witness youth NOT to pursue a career, not to go to college or university, as one young sister puts it: "All those accolades and diplomas you'll get will be a waste of time as this system is going to end soon. "
JW youth featured on this DVD trying to teach someone about 1914. What if you have doubts about 1914, they ask. Just read some fine publications from the faithful slave and your doubts will disappear.
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER
The special campaign kicks off, and I'm not talking about the Bush/Cheney campaign. "Keep on the Watch" is to be offered to select individuals - for a modest donation - and only if they promise to read it.
The friends are catching on, that the first half of the brochure is only for Joe Public, the second half is designed to give them a good kick up the behind if they are spiritually asleep.
October 1st WT - Have Tender Affection For One Another
Another classic, widen out article. "Have love for the whole association for brothers," they say. But, there are no organized gatherings for JW youth, moms, or anyone for that matter, to form friendships and allow people to bond.
You're told that after the meetings, you should only talk about spiritual things, and leave the cars, vacations and other stuff home.
What chance do people have for widening out, when every minute of their life has to be accounted for to the Watchtower?
October 15th WT - Is Paradise for You?
Did you know that God has produced a "spiritual paradise and has brought his people into it?"
Clearly, the Society is still trying to push the notion that the dubs are the happiest people on earth.
Page 11, para 13 of this article says, "that you may be pleased with much about our spiritual paradise. The environment is pleasing to the eyes, soothing to the nerves."
Try telling all those abused kids and battered wives how "soothing to the nerves" the spiritual paradise really is to them.
Subheading: Reinforcing Your View Of Paradise
Another ill-fated attempt to persuade the dubs that all is well in La La land.
So, when you look at the trend in 2004, it seems that many witnesses are tired of this religion. They're sick of endless meetings, endless drivel, and prophecies they heard as children, still not being fulfilled as adults.
They want to lead a normal life, get some downtime, go to college, get an education and a career. Are those things bad? No, but remember - The Society doesn't want anyone of their members buying out "Watchtower Time" to do these things.
If would seem that the "popular vote" for many witnesses, is to either do the slow fade, or put in token service, while trying to enjoy something of their life.