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JWs

For most of us it's just kind of a gag: "Oh, the Jehovah's Witnesses are approaching the door! Hide!"
Lately, I've seen them set-up in static locations. In my case, I see them at the ferry terminal with a slick-ish graphic board and their ubiquitous propaganda fliers. I think they still push the Awake! and Watchtower mags, in addition to the two page pamphlets. The JWs look so happy. They probably are. But my experience with them was something other than pleasant.

My family was "in the truth". As a kid, I remember my mom driving me to the Kingdom Hall, without my father. I pieced it together later. My father was at some point "disfellowshiped" for drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. That meant he was shunned: No JW could associate with my father until he repented and asked for forgiveness. When I was real young, I remember my mom and dad and their Witness friends. And then they were gone. He made new friends. It still must have hurt.

I know what hurt more, though. His mother and father were JWs as well. We used to go visit grandma and grandpa. Then we stopped. Again, I was a kid, and didn't understand what was going on. I do know that when they passed on, they considered my father not worthy of any consideration. They left their house to the Watchtower Society. Yeah. In San Jose, CA. That was over 30 years ago. Today, that house would be worth at least $750k. I hope the JWs put that gift to good use.

My maternal grandmother died years later. As a JW, she would not take blood transfusions.

I feel bitter, but also very sad. I don't blame the average "Witness" for falling for that dogmatic nonsense. They have a system that works, in a text-book dysfunctional manner. They truly love each other, the way an abused still loves their abuser. If these folks weren't duped by the Jehovah's Witnesses, they'd probably find a worse group like Heaven's Gate or Aum Shinrikyo.

For all you Atheists, this could just be more fuel for your hatred of religion. That's on you. Me? I'm too tired to hate. There is good in people, and yes, some good religions as well. It's easy to "throw the baby out with the bathwater". It's hard to accept the ugly and evil in the world. It's going to be there, always. In your face.

So when I get off the ferry, the JWs smile at me, and I smile back. I just don't think either of us is smiling inside.

Comments

Yes, I was raised in that religion too. Some of the work I've posted on here over the past few years tackles certain aspects of it.
Being bitter only harms me, so I try to avoid it. It's not always easy as the belief system, along with a highly neurotic family of origin, left me seriously damaged - not helped by being forced out of home at 16 because I wouldn't be baptised into it.
Technically, I'm not shunned (that's what they call ignoring a former member); as I was never baptised they couldn't formally disfellowship me.
I was sleeping in doorways and very rough places because I stood my ground - my father was a hard line Elder.
I don't hold it against the individual members that I had to leave school early with no qualifications and had nowhere to live for a while, but I do hold it against those vermin who run the show from Wallkill (they recently moved from Brooklyn) whose procedures protect paedophiles and whose kangaroo courts ruin people's lives.

But I leave them alone. If they try preaching to me I don't argue doctrine. I simply tell them why I want nothing to do with their religion, and I hold nothing back. I'm polite, courteous, and truthful and never make the first approach.
They completely put me off religion very early in my life, but it took many more years for me to be able to start understanding the other reasons why religion is wrong for me personally.

It took over twenty years after leaving that religion for the apocalyptic nightmares to finally go. I didn't realise at the time but believe I probably suffered from some form of PTSD.

At least there's plenty of writing material when I choose to tap in to it.
 
Yeah, PI. That's a great way to raise kids, right? "The world will end any minute! Don't make any plans for your future." It really is psychological abuse.

I try not to think of The Puppet Masters in Brooklyn / Wallkill. I instead sympathize with those still caught-up in that unhealthy belief system. I applaud your strength. I'm sorry you were scarred, and hope your healing continues.

My bonus was that my mom was a hypochondriac, and told me regularly that she was going to die. So, what comes first? Mom dying or "The End of This System of Things"? That's a lot for an 8 year old to digest.
And when she was dying (many years later), I remember the fear in her eyes as she asked "I was a good mom, wasn't I? I was good?" That JW poison guilt was eating at her up to the end.

That's the big hook for the Witnesses. right? Only 144,00 go to Heaven. That's my current spiritual hang-up. Most major religions have a filter-out element. Only "X" amount make the cut. God of Love vs God of Justice. The JWs are extreme on the vengeful God of Justice side. God is a real big Judge Wapner for the ultimate People's Court.

But I still pray. I just don't attend any formal church at the moment. Just because some old evil men in Wallkill pervert faith doesn't ruin the relationship I have with God.
I always fall back on the words of Galileo:
"I don't believe that the God that gave us sense, reason and intellect intended us to forgo their use."
 
When they knock on my door, if I'm feeling like answering it, which is very unlikely, I just say "look! I'm really not interested" and they just turn around and go.
 
It's remarkable that you held on to some kind of faith after that little lot. I know that some manage it.

Personally, I went into self-destruct mode for many years. Not surprising I suppose when the message I received throughout my formative years was that I would be "destroyed" at Armageddon if I ever left (then predicted to probably occur by 1975). The self destruction simply became a self-fulfilling prophecy

And yes, my mother was a hypochondriac too.
 
It's not really religion to blame. Families are an odd species. There is a tendency, even in non-religious families, to target one individual. That person used to be called the black sheep. Now the term is target child. It's the same thing, really. The group feels better turning their backs on one. The reason is irrelevant. Often religion is the excuse. But that's all it is -- an excuse.
 
Not sure about that J.o.a.t.
I have two brothers and two sisters who I rarely have any sort of contact with and hardly ever think of them . Not sure that...... wait a minute....... maybe I'M the black sheep and nobody told me.
Seriously though. A need to nominate a " black sheep "? I don't know.

Might be more likely within a religious family I would have thought. Pious ones looking down on a member, or members, who refused to follow, or even doubted, the chosen path so to speak.
 

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Winston
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