Jake - 5 Generations
Hi everyone, I would like to introduce myself and tell my story.
From the standpoint of being one of Jehovah’s witnesses, my whole family is deeply involved as I was the 5th generation of witness and any children that my brothers or sister have will be the sixth generation. As some of my brothers and sisters are Grandparents, I guess that makes their grandchildren a potential 7th generation. But that’s yet to be seen.
My great-great grandfather and grandmother, the first generation of JW’s in my family, traveled for 5 years selling the booklet “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”, having 3 children on the road living like vagabonds sleeping on rocks until grandma said that “is enough”. If you have read the booklet “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” you will see undeniable truth that 1925 was the new date set for Armageddon because of the coincidence of the 70th Jubilee with 1925, oh, and remember that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would be resurrected.
In the early forties the family went to the August 6-10, 1941 St Louis convention, traveling in the back of an old farm truck half way across America. A few months ago a relative gave me a recorded copy of an interview that he had back in the 1980’s with one of the wives. She had gone on the trip with the family as her husband professed to be of the anointed.
She commented that although she felt the rest of the family had judged her not to be a loyal witness they let her come along on the trip to St Louis anyway. She spoke of the expectation that at the 1941 convention the holy ones would be resurrected and that God would take the chosen. This is what her husband expected; St Louis was his launching pad. Now remember this was an interview recorded over 20 years ago.
I guess if someone spread rumors or implied under their breath that Holies from Moses to the Apostle Paul would make the convention you might be inclined to drive 1500 miles when you could not afford it. Telling her story she laughs about how crazy “these” people were; yes that’s my family. She was eventually divorced from her husband and she moved on with no regrets. Several members were baptized at that convention and one received the children’s book at six years old and was baptised.
Although personally born in the early sixties, I remember all the excitement about 1975. There were circuit assemblies with a brother standing beside a big round clock with the time set to 3-1/2 minutes till 12:00. Exclaiming that there were only 36 more months left in this system and that we should use every opportunity and resource to preach and support the preaching of the good news. I remember the kind of nauseated feeling I had after one Saturday morning session thinking about how serious this event would be and the massive loss of life. In the early seventies the excitement at the halls was unreal with new ones coming in every week. As children we were trained to think that we as a family had to set the example for the new ones.
My father was a 75er; he sold a reputable and profitable company thinking he had enough money to last till 1975. We were not going to have to go/or finish school, the new system was coming. There were some brothers that made the comment that the “1975 cars will never hit the road”. One brother’s persistent expression was, “I can’t wait until the great tribulation”. The 1975 cars not only hit the road but have been recycled several more times. My father went back into business and rebuilt with broken and worn out tools to be successful again before he died.
For many years after 1975 there was still growth but the newer ones ignorantly denied that the society ever said anything about 1975. Most men in the family wrote letters to the “Society” discussing the 1975 debacle resulting in hateful letters in reply from Brooklyn denying everything. One family member was removed as Book Study conductor because he would not teach 1975. He said the scriptures indicate that “no man knows the day or the hour”. Really, that’s God’s business, not men’s and God told us so.
I was a bright kid and wanted to go to college to become an engineer. I had a letter of acceptance from the University in hand and had extensively discussed university goals with my father. He was polite and nice; he did love me, but he just hated to see me waste my time or hated to be removed as an elder one. I did not want to swing a hammer or wash windows for the rest of my life.
He photocopied bound volume articles about the system being so short that it was pointless to even start because the end would be well within 4 years. I told him that I stood my ground even mentioning the 1975 debacle. He eventually met with me one night and said that if I was going to college that I would have to move out of the house and that there would be no support from him at all.
I tried to reason with him but to no avail. I cannot express the hurt that I felt, and with these feelings I became depressed. In retrospect I wish that I had taken that walk out the door then, but I was 18 and did not have anything or any place to go. Dad apologized after visiting the engineering office at Bethel saying that he was wrong to prevent me from attending college, but by this time I was well in my thirties.
A few years after graduating High School I went into the “international volunteer construction work” or IVCW route, and came home after nearly 4 years off and on. I got to see many places of which I am happy to have experienced, but other than that I don’t have much to say about any of the branches. I met some really nice and sincere people. I also have seen the inner workings of Watchtower and honestly cannot say there is any love lost there. I got to experience things, but I was never taught anything other than the indoctrination. I’m not saying I did not learn anything, but just the lack of feeling that I received a “divine education”.
After coming home from working overseas I was reappointed as a ministerial servant, and then an elder, and served as an elder for over a decade. The first elder’s meeting I went to was slightly more controlled than a bar fight. I just wondered. In 2004, I resigned as elder because some of the brothers felt like I had a bit much to drink on occasion. Interestingly some of my criticisms of the organization were also brought up for the final throat slit.
It was interesting to me that after my resignation never did the brothers talk with me to see how things were going, they never tried to assist in any way, or even try to encourage me. They had hunted me like wolves killing sheep. Suddenly my wife and I got the cold shoulder and dis-invites to gatherings.
After Dad’s death, my fleshly brother’s demanded selling the company and parting ways. I believe my brothers felt they could live on the money from the sale of the company until the new system. I personally sold everything including my house and left quietly in the sunset. As a spiritual trooper, I immediately started working in the new congregation where we moved. After several months the brothers asked to talk with me about the letter they received from my congregation and they actually read parts of the letter of introduction to me. They indicated that it was very complementary and there was a whole page of praise with one final short paragraph of hate. The new brothers said “bygones are bygones” and I was shortly reappointed as a MS.
In 2007, I started picking up some older literature, and one piece was given to me by a sister. At the meetings, after the first song, I would go to the library and scan through the older books during the meetings. I eventually started buying some of Russell’s and Rutherford’s literature and the more that I read the more things started to fall apart.
After moving away from family, I had more time to think for myself than usual. I resisted being caught up in the busy work of the congregation, the soap operas of the elder-ettes, the gossiping, the problems, or the hob-knobbing with the CO’s and DO’s.
My change of heart was completed after meditating on a conversation with a brother watching a football game. Discussing recent guidance from the organization he said, “It all boils down to this; either you believe that the faithful and discreet slave class is God’s channel to mankind or you don’t”. The fact was that this was incredibly simply logic.
Eventually in 2009-2010 I approached my wife and discussed with her that I felt personally that something was terribly wrong with our beliefs and the pieces of the truth just did not fit together anymore. As I discussed my feelings I told her I felt we have been on a 130+ year snipe hunt, and questioned what loving God would do this to his people if this “Chosen Class” was truly the channel.
I resigned as a servant and immediately quit attending meetings using as a truthful excuse that I was assigned to work out of town long hours. I discussed with two elders that as I had formerly served as an elder, I knew what the qualifications for men serving the congregation were and that I did not feel that I met these qualifications any longer.
I never returned to the Hall, although my wife continued to attend. This was difficult for me as she knew that I did not want to go back but I endured watching her faithfully continue. The elders questioned my wife a couple of times in “back room 101” trying to contact me. She played it very cool; she just told them to talk to me, they had my phone number. The elders acted as if it was insulting to them to talk to a woman to have a conversation with me. Interestingly, they knew my phone number whenever they needed something fixed at the hall. My wife shortly thereafter moved to another congregation and then stopped attending herself. We have heard nothing until we got an invitation to this years’ memorial. Of course the “loving brothers” also wanted to come by and visit. Right…
After nearly 50 years of indoctrination I am glad to say “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. It has been nearly 3 years since I have been to a hall, and I have no desire to change that record. I have seen the true identity of the Wizard of Oz.
We have all been victims of a ridiculous scheme created by a drunken man selling snake oil who ripped off a corporation through bullying. I am thankful that my wife is with me and supports my lack of belief, although she wants to move on and not talk about it. My wife pioneened for 8 years before we married. I have not spoken to my family for many years, so I really don’t have anything to lose. Therefore, disfellowshipping or disassociation has no real consequence and I am not interested in pursuing either.
I am grateful for the information age which includes internet access to the most current information. I think about all the youth’s lives wasted sitting in prisons because they could not sit in a chair at college nor accept some other form of civil service, like planting trees for the forest service, for the sake of neutrality. I cannot but think of the talented young ones that have been forced into a mold of “minimal education”, just Bethel/Pioneering Service and for a living: wash windows or clean floors at night. It is distressing to me the organizations outright attack on “higher education”. I was falsely relieved in the 1990’s that several articles finally came out saying that higher education was a personal decision. Unfortunately, that only lasted for less than a decade and now there is some hateful obsession with higher education.
For the young and old ones, Jehovah’s Witnesses is the “NO” religion. Meaning whatever you want to do, unless it is Bethel or Pioneer work, the answer is no. In my middle age, I look at how I gave some of the best years of my life for building a real-estate portfolio for someone else free of charge.
My question still remains unanswered, “how could we all (my family) have been so stupid”?