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.