From the “Ask a Former JW” mailbag…
I’ve been reading your dialogue with JWs. I have no advice, though I have experience being married to a JW.
I have been told I have a distorted view of the Bible, that I am part of the great (?) Babylon. My parents haven’t seen my son in 1 year – they also are part of Babylon – and they live only 1 hour away.
I’ve been told that God doesn’t hear my prayers because I don’t use his real name, not to have a cross in the house as it may be a roost for some sort of demon. When she and my son are reading their watchtower stuff, she closes the door so I can’t hear the discussion ( we just don’t want to bother you.).
I have been screamed at when my mother sent my son a Christmas card with a cardinal in the snow, and only the words ‘happy holidays’ on the inside (don’t you know he may not survive Armageddon if he celebrates Christmas?). My mother walked through many aisles looking for a non offending Christmas card. I could go on and on.
Am I being critical ? Of course ….but this is just an “eye of the camera” report. I’m afraid to go where my real feelings have been shoved down for some 12 years….
So – that’s your ‘eye witness’ on JWs in the household —–I guess the love comes out at the Kingdom Hall.
Speaking of being visited in prison …..I’d like one of those loving and concerned JWs to come visit me in this one.
“Babylon the Great” or “the Whore of Babylon” is based on the book of Revelation (esp. ch. 17-18). It is usually identified with whatever (corrupt) superpower reigns at the time (biblically, it’s probably Rome), but JWs see it as representing the worldwide empire of false religion (and most especially Christendom). They are, of course, interpreting themselves as being the only true religion. Many groups have interpretations of the Whore of Babylon and Babylon the Great – but JWs seem to refer to it more than other groups do.
On the issue of the Christmas card, they believe that the holiday is too pagan-affiliated in its customs and history to be celebrated, even if Jesus has not said to celebrate his death rather than his birth. I’ve not heard of any but the most fanatical JW invoke Armageddon at the sight of a holiday card, but it doesn’t surprise me either. Their sense of priorities is seriously skewed at times, and some are incapable of receiving the good wishes in the spirit in which they were meant. They might at least have explained their reasons – they will normally take any opportunity to do so.
On the cross issue, I have to say I haven’t heard the “demon roost” theory before (grin). Sounds like your family took some messages and cross-wired them in their fear. They do believe in demon attacks, and there is a lot of urban lore about smurfs and such, but that’s not the problem with the cross. JWs believe that Jesus was tortured on a stake, not a cross, so they don’t even use the word “crucifixion.” The other thing is that the symbol links the household, however distantly, to the above-mentioned “Babylon the Great.” One thing that we were told to explain out in service is that to wear a cross would be like wearing a gun when the person you loved most in the world had been shot with one. It has a certain appeal as an argument, but there are problems with the analogy.
Love and kindness are often reserved for members, as you have experienced. Family, especially non-JW family, are often treated worse than strangers (i.e., potential converts).
If there is a God, he/she/they/it hears your prayers. God is there for all, according to the central message of Christianity. I don’t know why you are in prison, but I do feel – always – that while there is life, there is hope. Find your freedom within, with curiosity and humor and forgiveness of yourself and others. Face your anger and hurt, talk with others, accept what you can accept, and move on to the next stage for you.
Don’t wait around for JWs to come and visit (lol), but do talk to the spiritual and psychological counselors that might be available to you. You can write to me privately too, if you need to rant someplace safe.