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.