So, that spring night (I'm pretty sure it was 1971--memory fades a bit) I'm laying on an Army cot in temporary housing, staring at the ceiling--my first night at Bethel, and the beginning of the rest of my life as a Bethelite (or so I had always thought). True enough, I'd signed a solemn oath before Jehovah, and submitted it to the Governing Body, that I would stay at Bethel for at least 4 years (that was the way they did it then)...but the real expectation (and Knorr made no bones about this in his public admonitions to Bethelites) was that you were there for life--fine by me.
What more could I ask? I was in the "control center" of the organization, surrounded by dozens and dozens and dozens of the anointed, and walking past members of the Governing Body every day...I could just feel their presence as they approached; it was almost palpable, as the holy spirit oozed from them. Now, I'd known a fair number of "anointed" ones over the years, but this was entirely different--we're talking the cream of the crop, the ones I'd read about in the magazines, the ones whose faces were burned into my memory...and especially Fred Franz.
Did it matter to me at that moment that I had sacrificed several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities? A chance to play sports (basketball--I was 6'-4" as a freshman, and each year the coaches virtually begged me to join the team)? No way: Sports, and any other extracurricular activity, was robbing Jehovah of time to preach His Word. A chip in the big financial world, cashing in on being one of only 100 high school juniors in the US to be awarded an all-expense week-long trip to Chicago for a science seminar, worthy of a newspaper article (the only "worldly" thing my folks ever allowed me to try at, and even then only because they thought I would fail--my Dad said "Go ahead, but don't expect anything good.") No way: the world was coming to an end, so what good would having a successful financial career matter? Turning down a free ride at one of the nation's top-ranked colleges? Nope: what good would a college degree be in the New System?
Well, all these sacrifices did matter to me, as a matter of fact: they were proof positive that I had the proper spirit, giving up all these things for the honor of God.
And so, when the next day arrived, and I sat, for the first time at a Bethel breakfast table, and saw Knorr's face on the TV screen, and when I was later that day assigned to the janitorial crew, I was as pleased as any person I could have imagined on this planet. And then there was Bethel Entrant's School, to really fill me in on the details of the Bible...and the "new boy" talks (a series of eight) wherein I would be informed about so many things I had never considered...and then the extensive libraries in both the 107 and 124 buildings, wherein were contained all the accumulated knowledge of a century of deep thinking and spiritual insight by hundreds of anointed ones--
you can imagine how I felt...or maybe you can't.
In any case, I was pleased as punch to start swabbing floors and washing walls and cleaning toilets...it was all holy water, as far as I was concerned.
That was very soon to change.