JW District Convention Invitation Received

JW District Convention Invitation Received

What’s a girl got to do to have her house marked with an X on the local territory map of the JWs?

For the second time this week, I received a home-delivered invitation to the District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The first was delivered when we weren’t home. The second was delivered this morning by a lone man carrying an uncommonly nice leather valise. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a JW at the door by himself; normally they travel in pairs. He didn’t say anything much, no attempt at the usual pitch – maybe he just wanted to get a look. Considering the other visits I’ve received, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I felt a little bit sorry for him. It’s a warm day, and my uphill driveway is difficult enough that we get few visitors at Halloween. So I didn’t ask any questions, didn’t make any statements. I just said “thank you,” and stepped back inside. The man who handed me the tract looked so cheerful. He is confident that he will survive and be part of God’s Kingdom. He thinks it is a literal place in history, and he’s going to see it and live forever on a Paradise earth while all the heretics and blasphemers and miscreants – basically, anyone who’s not a JW – die on the orders of the God of Love, with Christ (the Archangel Michael) arriving on a white horse for the slaughter. Sometimes I think the organization must be talking about an alien invasion of some kind. The cheerful man looks for “deliverance” from the world while not noticing (even as a black man) that the JW organizational structure is designed on the vocabulary of slavery: slave class, district/circuit overseer, and so on. But – each to their own path.

It’s amusing to note the differences between the official JW website and what JWs are actually taught at the Kingdom Hall. The Watchtower Society looks so benevolent online. You wouldn’t know that they were an extremely profitable set of corporations. Common JW phrases and words do not appear on the site. It’s easy to see the vetting by legal professionals and spindoctors on matters such as how to treat exJW family members, how to respond to domestic abuse or child abuse, their stance on pedophilia, in what circumstances it’s ok to lie in court, or even their views on male “headship.” Maybe current JWs don’t read the site, or somehow don’t notice the huge differences, or maybe they just assume that all is fair in “theocratic strategy.”

I looked at the invitation to attend the “Deliverance at Hand” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know for certain that they don’t want me to attend!

Under the text are sepia-toned depictions of “Poverty,” “Epidemics” and “Disasters.” Love the “helmuts” on the vague police/soldier guys, which look like a cross between Darth Vader and a Roman guard. Under these, a curved arrow points down (as transformational timeline?) onto their idea of the post-apocalyptic world. A strange pastoral in the regular JW style, it is set in a valley: Representatives from different races, smiling, tending a crop of flowers. One man pushing a wheelbarrow that overflows with grapes, watermelon, kale, and other produce. A yellow suburban house on the hill. A mountain lion sipping water from a stream, with children petting it – a gazelle and deer nearby.

On the back of the flyer, there is an illustration of a packed stadium, bordered at the left and bottom by a curve dotted with six illustrations (shouldn’t it be seven?) of the globe turned to different locations.

The conventions take place “from one end of the earth to the other” in July. They make a point of saying that no collections will be taken. An offer of a free book (“What Does the Bible Really Teach?”), along with a form to set up a free home Bible study, ends the page. There’s a little sticker for the dates, times, and location of the local 3-day convention.

I wonder how many hours of door to door service is required per book study these days? Per convert?

One feature of the convention “To Whose Authority Do You Submit,” is a “dramatic presentation in a Biblical setting” that promises to “highlight what loyalty to God really means.” They are backpedalling a bit, then, from the obedience and submission themes of last year. That was all about submission to the organization, obeying the dictates of the parrot-elders, and the like. The slight reorientation to God combined with the “Deliverance” theme is a bit troubling.

The last public address points to what is really meant by “Deliverance”:

Deliverance by God’s Kingdom Is at Hand!

Yikes. Ok, let me translate. Ask yourself… deliverance of who? from what? by who? how? when? Go ahead. Guess….

Answers: Deliverance of God’s submissive and obedient true people (i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses at two levels – the great crowd of sheep, and the 144,000 intended to rule Planet Earth with Christ in heaven) from this evil and worldly system of things, by God and Christ, through global apocalypse. When? Any day now, just like they’ve been saying since the corporation got started.

Here’s the message. Listen up now:
Everybody had better join up with God’s voice on earth, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, lest they be destroyed. Got that? Join us or die. Sound familiar?

Love and compassion and ethics and service to others and patience and reason and gifts of the spirit and all manner of other spiritual qualities and goals and gifts don’t matter. What matters to the JWs is to bring in as many free workers as possible – under a death theat under God’s own authority.

Other evangelists do similar things, of course. Well, religious liberty and all that.

Actually, I don’t recall that there is anything much new in terms of fulfillment of their interpretations of biblical prophecies. If I remember correctly, I think the next thing in line was a united world religion, followed by its destruction by the UN (or a similar worldly organization transcending nations and having military “horns”). Of course there is the little matter of their doctrine, which says that the generation of 1914 “surely will not pass away” before the end comes, but I think they will be forced to see some “new light” on that one before too long.

They are incredible fear-mongers, not unlike the current Administration of the United States.

I do see economic disaster in our future, but again, one mustn’t blame God for our own stupidity and incompetence and greed. Unfortunately, religion is playing a very destructive role all around the globe – from one end of the earth to the other (sigh).

Ironically, I do think that we are poised on the brink of possible world catastrophes ranging from the threat of global warming to the escalations of war into nuclear catastrophe, but I don’t see either of these scenarios resulting in a cleansed earth fit for paradise. You know, unless they really are in contact with an advanced alien species whose earth rep is named YHWH.

The world today is more fearful than it has been in a long time. Apocalyptic pep talks don’t do much to help rebuild world sanity.

If the eagle can fight the dragon and the bear – which isn’t looking impossible – and the conflict escalates further in the middle east, and some bioweapons are let loose just as global warming really starts to accelerate, and the corporate fundies unite and pollute the rest of the planet under the name of their “stewardship” of the earth, then maybe the aliens will come in and rescue us. I guess. But why would they? It’s not as though we’re very good neighbors.

These are the thoughts that can run through your mind when you’ve been raised on this stuff. You can actually have a train of thought like this and weigh the merits of the speculative argument. Maybe it will help me write fiction.

I’m still waiting for someone to connect the dots and hire some blue-turbaned actor to ride through the gates on a donkey. Maybe that’s the signal to the fathership.

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6 thoughts on “JW District Convention Invitation Received

  1. I seen your site last night, and kept thinking “I KNOW I’ve seen this before.” I just couldn’t place when or why I’d seen this site. And it bugged me all day. I referred back to the post on Cano a few times…. hoping something would tip me off to why I felt like I knew this site. And yet, I got nothing.

    So I came back again today. And still nothing.

    And then I started reading other posts of yours. And then this one just caught my eye for some reason. About half way through reading it- it hit me. You’re the one with the “why don’t kingdom halls have windows” post. I searched it, and YEP you are the one. That’s where I knew this blog from.

    And not to go on and on in your comments as if I’m guest bloggin down here, but with all the interesting news going on right now, I’m thinking that it’s just wonderful JW’s picked this theme for their convention this year, because, if nothing else- at least a few of them are getting “delivered” lately. Mostly “delivered” to jail, but hey, that’s just a small detail, right?

  2. Do not Beleive This is an APOSTATE site
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  3. Um, the above comment goes on for quite some time. I took the liberty of truncating it.

    Actually, by the JW definition, I cannot be an apostate since I was never baptised.

    “Kaka” at “kaka.com” seems very upset. One question: What are JW readers not supposed to believe, exactly?

    JWS are strongly warned against reading or considering anything that is observant, questioning, or critical of the Watchtower Society. When they are confronted with such, emotions run high (as you see). The above is almost like a charm or ritual – something they would consider very superstitious (and therefore borderline demonic, at least officially).

    Although JWs are trained to urge you at the door to examine your own faith and traditions very carefully, they don’t seem to respond very well to turning it back the other way.

    Go back and read the post. What, exactly, is inaccurate?

  4. In your comment section, you said: “Go back and read the post. What, exactly, is inaccurate?” Here is an unfortunately lengthy response to a lot of the errors in your column. I did not respond to them all, but it really appears as though you have a basic idea of what we believe, but really don’t have a correct picture from which to draw your conclusions.

    “What’s a girl got to do to have her house marked with an X on the local territory map of the JWs?”

    Ask to be added to our Do-Not-Call list. If you just say you’re not interested each visit, we have no reason to think you want no more visits. Things may change in your life between this visit and the next, so until you clearly ask to have no more attempts at contact, things will not change in that area.

    “He didn’t say anything much, no attempt at the usual pitch – maybe he just wanted to get a look.”

    You reached a nonsensical conclusion with that ‘getting a look’ part. Our goal was to get as many of the invites out as we could. That is best accomplished working alone and not trying to engage in conversation for a change.

    “He is confident that he will survive and be part of God’s Kingdom. He thinks it is a literal place in history, and he’s going to see it and live forever on a Paradise earth while all the heretics and blasphemers and miscreants – basically, anyone who’s not a JW – die on the orders of the God of Love…”

    Many scriptures clearly state the earth is to remain forever and will be paradise at some point. You will never find anywhere in our literature anything that says that only Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive Armageddon. It is God’s place to decide who has the right heart condition, not any human’s.

    “The cheerful man looks for “deliverance” from the world while not noticing (even as a black man) that the JW organizational structure is designed on the vocabulary of slavery: slave class, district/circuit overseer, and so on.”

    The Bible uses this language profusely when speaking of the Christian way of life. It does not imply inferiority of one human over another, but shows our subjection to Jehovah and Jesus and our desire to remain humble so we may best help other humans here on earth.

    “It’s amusing to note the differences between the official JW website and what JWs are actually taught at the Kingdom Hall… Common JW phrases and words do not appear on the site.”

    Common JW phrases are not readily understood by those unfamiliar with our teachings, so naturally our website, which is aimed at the general public, will not make use of such expressions as “Faithful and Discreet Slave”, “Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting”, or other such things. The issue of profitableness is unrelated to our Biblical teachings, and no one gets rich from their service in our organization. The money goes toward furthering the interests of the good news.

    “I wonder how many hours of door to door service is required per book study these days? Per convert?”

    There is no hourly requirement for anyone, unless a person voluntarily chooses to serve in greater capacity as a pioneer or missionary. The vast majority of JW’s do what they can, and that is all that is asked, from God and the organization.

    “They are backpedalling a bit, then, from the obedience and submission themes of last year. That was all about submission to the organization, obeying the dictates of the parrot-elders, and the like.”

    This seems to come from a very cynical point of view. No back-pedalling has happened. Obedience to God’s organization is equivalent to obedience to God. If you were in ancient Israel, disobedience to God’s commands as relayed through Moses or the prophets or divinely-anointed king often had dire consequences. The pattern that was set for God to work through an organization showed true in Christ’s day and would logically still be the case, as the days we live in get harder and more chaotic.

    “Love and compassion and ethics and service to others and patience and reason and gifts of the spirit and all manner of other spiritual qualities and goals and gifts don’t matter.”

    One’s behavior and heart attitudes and all that are incredibly important to acceptably serving God. Our literature is full of articles discussing portions of scripture that show how to better ourselves as people, by putting on the Christ-like personality, following the good examples of many in the Bible, and that sort of thing. You mention ‘service to others’ as not mattering, which contradicts yourself where you comment on how we use ‘vocabulary of slavery’. Jesus himself showed how important it is to keep ministering to each other, and to those not related to you in the faith.

    “What matters to the JWs is to bring in as many free workers as possible – under a death theat under God’s own authority.”

    There is not a single scripture in the Bible that says you must help someone learn about God in order to be saved, and there is not one quotation from one single JW publication that will say it either. Jesus commands his disciples to preach the word, but if we never get a chance to find someone who will listen and accept, that is out of our control. Those who remain faithful to Jehovah are the ones who will be saved, not those who brought some arbitrarily-determined number of others to a knowledge of Bible truths.

    “If I remember correctly, I think the next thing in line was a united world religion, followed by its destruction by the UN (or a similar worldly organization transcending nations and having military “horns”).”

    You are not remembering correctly. Nothing of a united world religion is ever mentioned.

    “You’re the one with the “why don’t kingdom halls have windows” post. I searched it, and YEP you are the one. That’s where I knew this blog from.”

    This is just silly. The KH I go to has windows all over the place. (It’s a big rectangle. The two long walls are lined with them; the stage wall has one giant picture window; the back wall where the library is is also lined with windows.) I’ve also been to several others that had windows too. Many KH’s are built without them since they aren’t necessary, but many do have them as well. If I knew how to put a picture in my comment, I’d put one in showing the interior of our KH, and that would end that pointless line of thought.

  5. Sigh. Ok…

    What’s a girl got to do to have her house marked with an X on the local territory map of the JWs?”

    That was a bit sarcastic. I don’t actually want them to stop. I was just wondering how it didn’t get marked, with all of their experiences talking with me. I remember we used to mark houses with Xs for less. Same thing with wondering about getting a look – although I will accept your explanation of that as valid. It makes sense to divide up the territory differently when you’re just dropping something off and don’t have to talk or to have a witness to what happens…

    It is God’s place to decide who has the right heart condition, not any human’s.

    Exactly. And this is why it is unscriptural for Jehovah’s Witnesses to judge other people and other religions as Satanic. Don’t try to tell me that they don’t. I’ve just been through this on two other posts.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses Claiming to Follow the Christ

    Conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness

    On the vocabulary of slavery, it is actually an Orwellian turn of phrase. The biblical terminology refers to servants, yes, and service, and ministering to others. It does not in any way refer to a hierarchy of people who control others through a worldly organization, promote themselves as slave overseers. It does not mean to give up the fruits of the spirit toward anyone, even if they are not Jehovah’s Witnesses (cf. Jesus sitting down with tax-collectors, casting the first stone, etc). Nor should it be used to prevent believers from weighing teachings for themselves – with guidance from prayer and spirit. It’s a language about responsibility (stewardship) and humility before God (not organizations) and service to God and toward other people. It’s about acting from love, not fear.

    That also addresses your other point. Yes, there is “lip service” to kindness and caring and so forth – but only toward other Witnesses, or to give a good impression of JWs to others. Kinda misses the point.

    I understand that the official Watchtower site and its PR sister site are not intended to offer anything that “might hamper the preaching work.” I understand the purpose of the misapplied verses that rationalize the theocratic war strategy and the “sheep among wolves” metaphor, although I guess I would see the Watchtower as one of the wolves in question. Still, it’s not just the absence of specific terminology on the site. Much more than that is misrepresented and/or hidden. You forget that there are really a lot of former Jehovah’s Witnesses who can see that. Even current JWs, honest ones, would notice. If the “good news” is to be preached everywhere, why misrepresent? It’s not as though JWs have ever had an aversion to technology. I remember the reel-to-reel tape recorders that they used to play at the door (a couple of old-timers in my congregation still had them), and there were always the publications. Of course, there are also a number of secret documents, and most JWs are unaware of somewhat magical/Masonic affiliations of some of the early leadership…

    There is no hourly requirement for anyone, unless a person voluntarily chooses to serve in greater capacity as a pioneer or missionary.

    I didn’t say there was. I wasn’t talking about how many hours were required, but the rate of success. In other words, how many people, how many hours, to bring in one person? I know they keep records on all of it – everyone has to hand in timesheets. Why do they do that?

    Obedience to God’s organization is equivalent to obedience to God.

    No. It is not. First of all, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the governing body or the Watchtower Society are in any way appointed as “God’s organization” – especially given the claims of exclusivity. Christians are not commanded to be obedient to an organization, but only to God and to the teachings given by Jesus. You have subtracted any concept of grace, for instance.

    This bit from the other post is helpful here:

    I earlier mentioned Matthew 7, “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but are inwardly ravenous wolves.” Christ does not give the power of judgment to an organization, but to the pupils. How could one beware of false prophets if one did not consider and judge their teaching? Teachers and their teaching should be subject to the judgment of the listeners.

    Or, my favorite saying of Paul’s, 1 Thessalonians 5, “Test everything but hold fast to that which is good.”

    No teaching or decree should be obeyed unless it is examined and recognized as good by the person hearing it. That is supposed to be one of the differences between christians and “the world.” “Worldly” rulers – like kings and dictators – command and their subjects have to accept it. “But among you it should not be so.” Christians were offered the spiritual freedom – and the spiritual responsibility – to doubt and to test for goodness, and to oppose the teachings of spiritual tyrants.

    This has been utterly lost among Jehovah’s Witnesses. They judge others as Satanic without knowing them. They cannot conceive of testing the organization.

    What I mean by JWs being compelled to bring in as many free workers as possible – under a death threat by God’s own authority – is that the spread of their literature is promulgated as though that were spreading the good news of the kingdom. Actually, the placing of Gideon bibles in hotel rooms probably does more… No, individual JWs who are sales slaves to the organization (instead of following Christ) do not become rich. I’ve seen those little apartments at Bethel, where the whole operation of slave labor really centers, for example. But the corporation itself is quite wealthy, for all they criticize other churches for the same thing. I wonder how many JWs would be entirely happy to know how much of that money – on their labor – was used for things like defending predators, child abusers, rapists – and, incidentally, JW child custody battles.

    Those who remain faithful to Jehovah are the ones who will be saved, not those who brought some arbitrarily-determined number of others to a knowledge of Bible truths.

    Excellent. So the time-sheets and the idolatrous authority of the organization are not what matters. Spread the word.

    Some biblical references:
    All people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord are saved by grace through faith (John 3:3-16; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9).
    No religious organization can claim exclusive possession of the source of salvation or authority to interpret the Bible. All Christians are capable of understanding and interpreting the Scriptures through the illumination of the spirit (see 2 Tim. 3:16; John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

    The worldwide empire of false religion is collectively called “Babylon the Great” or the “Whore of Babylon.”

    These ones got out of Babylon the Great, that is to say, out of the world empire of false religion based on the religion of ancient Babylon, which world empire includes Christendom with its more than a thousand religious denominations. (Things in Which it it Impossible for God to Lie, p. 319) … In 1931 the remnant of the “sons of the kingdom” embraced the name “Jehovah’s witnesses” in order to distinguish themselves from the religionists of Christendom who profess to be Christians. (p. 320)

    No more will Babylon the Great be the gay place that she is today, brilliantly lit up, ringing with music and temple bells, roaring with activity, featuring high-priced showy weddings, teeming with many children for perpetuating herself. Cloaked under religion, her spiritual leaders were really materialistic merchants, top-ranking men in worldly, nonreligious circles. They oppressed and defrauded their religious flocks, fleecing the sheep. They represented a religious system that actually practiced demonism, sorcery, magic, religiously drugging the people and misleading all the nations of this world. Such a system of false religion in opposition to the true God, Jehovah, deserves to be and will be destroyed. (Babylon the Great Has Fallen, p. 614)

    Interestingly that “false prophet” is interpreted by “God’s organization” as – basically, America. Babylon existed on either side of the Euphrates River. Look at a map. This is one of the reasons it’s best not to dwell on this stuff. The interpretation of its meanings is used to support whatever anyone wants to see, and people use it in all sorts of ways in political affairs.

    The “false prophet” is the Anglo-American World Power, being at the same time also the symbolic seventh head of the political “wild beast.” As such seventh and final head, the “false prophet” today holds the dominant position in the world political system and therefore presumes to speak for it, speaking “as a dragon,” that is, like the Devil. – Rev. 13:1, 2, 11-13. (Babylon the Great Has Fallen, p. 628)

    Now, it is true that in the older publications, there is no mention of an interfaith movement at all, much less any identification of such as a sign of the times of the end. The diatribes were against Christendom, especially Catholicism, and the United Nations – who they say were preparing to go to war with God under the guise of trying to avoid nuclear annihilation.

    I think you would agree that cooperating with non-Witnesses in interfaith movements is forbidden. “Jehovah’s Witnesses have nothing in common with other religious groups and can never seek any affiliation with them.” (AWAKE! 11/22/1975, p. 23).

    Approved association with Jehovah’s Witnesses requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. What do such beliefs include? That the great issue before humankind is the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty, which is why he has allowed wickedness so long. (Ezekiel 25:17) That Jesus Christ had a prehuman existence and is subordinate to his heavenly Father. (John 14:28) That there is a “faithful and discreet slave” upon earth today ‘entrusted with all of Jesus’ earthly interests,’ which slave is associated with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Matthew 24:45-47) That 1914 marked the end of the Gentile Times and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the heavens, as well as the time for Christ’s foretold presence. (Luke 21:7-24; Revelation 11:15-12:10) That only 144,000 Christians will receive the heavenly reward. (Revelation 14:1, 3) That Armageddon, referring to the battle of the great day of God the Almighty, is near. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21) That it will be followed by Christ’s Millennial Reign, which will restore an earth-wide paradise. That the first to enjoy it will be the present “great crowd” of Jesus’ “other sheep.” (The Watchtower, 4/1/1986, pp. 30-31)

    I remember the arguments about a global interfaith movement being identified as part of the end times from a Watchtower article, I think in the late 70’s or early 80’s. Since I can’t find reference to it, I will withdraw the statement until such time as I can document the claim.

    I don’t have the definitive answer as to why Kingdom Halls didn’t used to have windows. There is a history here, and I was looking into it because someone asked me. I remember what we were told was that it was for protection – bunker-style – in case of persecution in the end times. Not all Kingdom Halls today are without windows. My own Kingdom Hall had big glass doors at the front but no windows where the people were. Personally, I think one of the reasons might have been to set themselves off from the ornate windows in Catholic churches.

    There are other religious groups that I would criticize for many of the same kinds of reasons that I do Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some practices of control and exploitation are very common.

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