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The doctrine that draws people into the JW cult like flies to a barbecue and has the most influence on how JWs live their lives is the promise of eternal life on an earth that has been restored to paradise.

Only baptized JWs will receive this extremely generous gift, so remaining a JW in good standing is essential.

They reason that God’s original purpose for the earth was for the perfect human couple, Adam and Eve, to produce an earth full of perfect people whose sole job would be to spread the original Eden worldwide.  Of course, then Eve and that snake had their little chat and, yada-yada-yada, everybody dies, the planet’s a wreck, and you can’t buy a decent piece of fruit at the supermarket.

But, rather than God throwing up his hands and saying, “It is what it is,” he hinted around in the Bible about not giving up on his original idea.   The plan involved thousands of years of suffering for mankind (think of it as a “time out”) the death of his son, and, of course, an intrepid band of true believers who would arise just in the nick of time in the “last days” to spread the word.  After some vigorous Earth scrubbing by God (Armageddon) they would form the foundation of mankind  in the “new system of things” and would live forever, never having died at all.  Everyone who has ever died (except the ones snuffed at Armageddon) will be resurrected (with some possible notable exceptions – that’s up for debate) and after one little hiccup (a final temptation and then the destruction of the Devil) they all live happily ever after.

Obviously, I’ve left out a few details, but that’s the basic idea.  Of course, generations of Bible scholars never figured this out, but JWs know “the truth” because God has communicated it to the big guys in Brooklyn.  What’s more, it’s going to happen very, very soon.  So soon that they’ve been living in a state of urgency for 130 years.

If this system of things is going to its violent end at any moment (maybe tomorrow) and billions of ignorant people are going to die, then why would you waste time doing silly things like getting an education or investing for retirement or pursuing a career or building a house?  Now, there are some JWs who do these things, but believe me, they face a lot of tut-tutting from their fellow congregation members or even getting hauled into the library for a tut-tut session with some disapproving elders.

Instead, you should spend every spare moment trying to get everyone to become a JW so that they can be spared execution by God.  Your vocation is the ministry; your avocation is your job.  The job supports you in the ministry, and that’s it.

My family joined the cult back in 1972 when I was 13 years old.  Back then everyone was convinced The End was coming in 1975, so the urgency had risen to a frenzy.  As I have recounted in earlier posts, my parents did things like quit their jobs, sell the car, and force my brother and me to eat dry peanut butter so that they could spend the maximum amount of time in the ministry.  I was told I would never graduate from high school because The End was that close.

Although God apparently misplaced the schedule and nothing happened in 1975, the Watchtower Society did what it does best and kept the fire to the feet of the membership.   The End could come at any time.   So, I didn’t go to college.  I learned to type in high school, and thank goodness I did.  Back then typing was a rare skill, much sought after, so I had no trouble finding a job.  But that’s all it was – a job.  No career ladder for me.  Instead, it was a long series of office jobs, and by the time I had extricated myself from the cult, I had no actual career and the income to prove it.

My ex-husband’s parents, in the misguided belief that he would enthusiastically embrace the full-time ministry as a career and rise through the ranks to become a circuit or district overseer (they receive a small stipend from the Watchtower Society), failed to ensure that he learned a trade.   Consequently, he was doomed to spend his life working at one crappy job after another, dragging me along with him.

But, remember – The End is coming soon.  Keep your eyes on the prize (they have a whole song about that in their songbook).

Let’s suppose that you have a talent that cries out for expression from the depths of your soul.  You have eternity to pursue that talent, so it would be just plain ridiculous to nurture that talent with so little time left in this system of things.  Besides, JWs do not seek fame.  You are strongly discouraged from exploiting your talent to become rich and famous.

So, use that glorious singing voice only at the kingdom hall and at the occasional get-together.  Forget about dancing (not forbidden but frowned upon), acting, or writing anything other than letters.  Painting, sculpture, playing a musical instrument, gardening, and similar activities could fall under the heading of “hobby,” so as long as you engage in these activities only occasionally (remember – these are urgent times so you need to spend your spare time in the ministry) it’s okay.

When it came down to my passion, writing, sometimes I would feel a burning desire to put pen to paper and let it flow, but I had to squelch it, or else write another letter (distant friends loved getting my letters because I threw myself into them).  I tried to picture myself writing fiction, but nixed that because any love story I wrote would have to be painfully chaste.  My lovers wouldn’t even be able to hold hands until they were engaged, and even I wouldn’t want to read that.  I thought about children’s books for a while, but it lacked appeal.

I should add that once I started writing, it produced such a change in me that within 5 months I left the cult.  Nothing like self-expression to break that cult mentality.

The JW life is very narrow because of their end-is-near mindset.  Their concept of the future has nothing to do with the world around them, so they resist every attempt to involve them in its affairs.

You’ve been reading the words I couldn’t write while I was a JW.  And there is no “end” except the period at the end of this sentence.


21 responses »

  1. This is a really powerful Blog!!

  2. Keep writing – it’s never too late to start anew!

  3. wow, this is one of the most eye-opening of your entries. I had no idea that the cult squashed education as a waste of time, because they were preparing for the imminent end of the world. holy cow.

  4. So happy you found your passion (just in the nick of time!! :))

  5. Your blog is enlightening and so informative, and your writing is terrific. I wait for Tuesdays just to read it. Karrie

  6. Thanks for letting us be a fly on the wall.

  7. One of the main reasons I left the organization is because I was “tut-tutted” in the back room for considering accepting a full ride early admission scholarship to a top university at the age of 16. The horror, I was told. So, I left. I left the only family I had ever known, the only community I had ever known, the only lifestyle i had ever known, and am grateful for that decision every day of my life.

  8. Awesome blog!

  9. This struck a sad note for me as a dear friend who is still in the cult tried to reason with me to return as the Time Was So Short that I needed to doing something NOW. When I said that I was just fine with my spiritual life and should Armageddon come today (and that is a very big SHOULD) I would be prefectly fine with whatever God had in mind for me and I was just fine with” It Is What It Is” attitude in my life. She was so shocked as she exclaimed that she didnt even know if she would make it. Now believe me she would make it but its that CULT thought process to live in fear and never count your blessings as you must work, work, and work to get through the narrow gate. So very sad to see her living in fear and not trulyl feeling the LOVE.

  10. I love your description of “the beginning”. I laughed out loud. And confused my husband being that it’s really early in the morning.

  11. Sally, how did you learn to write so well? Some of my English teachers in high school didn’t even know the proper punctuation, when to use commas, semicolons, etc. You do a wicked good job. (that’s from one exMainiac to another).

    • Thanks, Bill! My 7th grade English teacher put us through an intensive grammar course (thank you Mr. Drew). We had a test every single day. That’s part of it. The rest is from my former job as a quality assurance specialist for medical transcription. I had to know the AAMT Book of Style inside and out and teach the transcriptionists how to use punctuation and correct the doctors’ grammar. Pretty good for someone who never went to kollidge, huh?

  12. Excellent blog!

  13. You are an incredibly insightful and talented woman. Your story is a light to those lost in their own “cults” no matter what they may be. You have found your true calling and I see the impact you have and the rewards you will reap.

  14. Your gift of writing is so enjoyable for me. I am anxiously awaiting a book from you. 🙂 I look forward to Tuesday’s blog entry now like I used to look forward to a favorite TV show! 🙂

  15. This is a nice blog. I wasted far too many years in this miserable religion. I am glad to have finally escaped and now have the freedom to live my life as I choose.

  16. While reading this entry, the was a loud prolonged rumble in the distance and I actually wondered if this was it. Visions of Christ galloping on a white charger filled my mental eye.

    I am amazed how entrenched some of my reactions are. My hope is that they will be gone entirely quite soon.

    Take care,
    Happy atheist

  17. Excellent little article, but something you didn’t mention is that many JWs have forsaken having children and even getting married because of this phony sense of urgency drummed into them. I know many JW’s who have done this and it’s really sad. The way the Watchtower leadership messes with young peoples heads like this really is quite wicked when you think about it.

  18. Yes! An excellent article!

    Scottleblog–You are so right about the 130 years of “urgency” we all lived under. Looking back–I can see that this tactic has been quite profitable to the Society, as all of the rank and file members “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” in the field ministry. By linking this door to door “ministry” to their very “salvation”, the Society has a highly motivated ‘unpaid’ sales force. Very profitable indeed.

  19. Firstly, it just clicked for me that the reason they say only they have the Truth(TM) is because if they said others did too, nobody would even join.

    Secondly a newer article said something about ‘those who had the chance to know about god but didn’t will not be ressurected’. Which is different as I thought it would be everyone besides hitler haha. But now were all goners, and even death cannot undo it apparently.
    That messes up the sacrifice of Jesus I guess as he died so we wouldn’t have to, but now even if we do, we stay dead. Nice huh.


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