see 10/23/00 update (at end of this article)

 

Randy:

 
 Jeanne Morrow is my mother. I was just recently disfellowshipped after having been raised a Witness by my stepmom and Dad. I have already read Crisis of Conscience, which my mom gave me and saw this other book by Ray on your website. To explain...
 
I was previously living in Arizona, but have moved to Canada within the last month to be with my family up here. I was kept from Jeanne for the last 24 years, having seen her only twice since I was three. Since she was disfellowshipped for "apostasy" back in 1976, and knowing the stand the Watchtower Organization takes towards disfellopwshipped people, including family members, I think you can know what happened without me even telling you. My dad was an elder since they started the elder "arrangement" and up until just recently, after stepping down, has been a strong advocate for family shunning of disfellowshipped members. Now he has to walk in those shoes, and as far as I have been told (he says "he has no need to talk to me except on an emergency basis", typical JW attitude) he has been in touch with the Society on this matter. I'm quite sure he's not the first, so it probably won't  get him anywhere. But needless to say, coming here is a way to start over. A few years back, as a JW, I turned down a full scholarship at Arizona State University to study music, which kinda aggravates me when I think about it. So I have come here to make new friends, family, and beginnings. School is already in the works at the University of Victoria. I am studying privately under a violin professor. (By the way, not that you care, but my dad was the guy who did the latest song book for the JWs) Music is huge on my dad's side of the family, so it comes naturally. After college I am looking into med school, hoping to specialize in music medicine. It's kinda like sports medicine, only for musicians. It's a new but rapidly growing field, so there's a huge market for it. So that, in short, is where I am now, and what brings me here.
 
So like I said, Jeanne is my mom, and I am staying at the time with her and my stepdad in Canada until immigration goes through.
 
By the way I have been visiting your site for some time, even before I was disfellowshipped. I have argued the JWs as a whole since I was 13. But I am sure you know how it is. Fear makes you grow through the motions anyway. "You might not have the hope of the resurrection" otherwise, or some other load of feces they try to feed you. At any rate keep up the good work. There's a lot of good material there. It is extremely helpful, especially to those of us who are still new at surviving the dark world of Christendom outside of the Society... just kidding. It is helpful though. I have been disfellowshipped for 10 months now. I have no intentions of going back. I was  glad they did. After 25 years of being around it, the freedom I have now as a person with a mind of it's own (the horrors, imagine that) is something I hope never to take for granted...
 
Here's to living each day with a real purpose...
Aaron Newton

 

UPDATE 10/23/00 in response to friends and family

Randy:
 
It has come to my attention that there are many who are aware of my posting on your website. Some are upset, some are angry. I would like to take this opportunity to expand on what is on the website, and to explain why I feel the way I do. At least this way, if there are those who choose to be upset with me, they can do so fully knowing where I stand, rather than going on emotion based on assumptions.
 
I will begin by saying that I am not here to bash Witnesses. I strongly believe that the organization provides, for some, a certain type of spiritual need. This would go for just about any organized group or system of beliefs. Could it possibly be that one of the reasons that there is such a prevalence of organized religion is that this is God's way of trying to say, "Hmmm. Well, you don't understand me if you think of me like this, well, maybe try to think of it like this instead?" I think it was a Franciscan monk who said that if we could understand God, then he wouldn't be God. So he appears in different forms.
 
People have different reasons for going to a church or practicing a religion. Some people don't feel they have the intellect or the confidence to approach God without some mediator. Some like the beauty of ceremony that a church can provide. Some like the feeling of community. Others need to be told how to think and what to believe. And all this and more is in part, what organized religions provide. A routine. A method. An explanation. There is a great security and sense of comfort gained in having answers. So when I think of the Witnesses and the Watchtower organization, I say, if it helps you to draw closer to God, if it helps to make you a better person. If it provides steps to make your life better, then mission accomplished.
 
I know Witnesses claim to have the "truth". Fact is, so do many other religions. We all would like to think that we have some "right on the money" understanding of Scripture and prophecy. I am sure that if I performed my own set of Scriptural acrobatics, I could come to some sort of conclusion as to how my life fulfills certain prophecy and that here  is what it all means. I have decided instead that any conclusions I come to - or anybody else for that matter - are wrong. We have to recognize our own fallibility. If we are to suggest sole spokesmanship for God, we better have it right.
 
There are the endless debates that can be held regarding doctrine. I am not here to argue dates, question the liability to be had by the Society for their ignorant approach to medicine, hash up old history of 'so and so did this,' or any of the other common approaches to arguing the Witnesses. It's been done so much, most of what one hears or finds is simply redundant. Besides, most of the mistakes that can be found within the Watchtower organization, are ones that can be found in any other group. So I don't think that misconstruction of doctrine, or personal matters where one is wronged, in itself, significant as they may well be, are the markings of a group I want to stay away from.
 
For me it is not so much what the Witnesses think as is how the Witnesses think. When you approach the organization epistemologically, it forces one to look at how they come up with what they do, and what it produces. I see paranoia. I see self-righteousness. I see a strange hybrid of love and hate that encourages an unhealthy sense of exclusiveness and contradicts natural law. I see the power of God in the hands of men. I see hypocrisy. I am sickened by the type of thinking epitomized by one elder that would repeatedly refer to the Witnesses, both in prayer and in talks, "as the greatest people in the world." The fact that no one would challenge him on this point speaks for itself. Sure, Witnesses might make great neighbors, but that doesn't make them the all-encompassing solution to every single problem on earth.
 
I am saddened by the tremendous loss of innumerable friends. Those that know me are aware that growing up was tremendously difficult. I am not here to air out dirty laundry. It would only serve as an embarrassment to my family and others, and I feel it would not accomplish anything. To those of you who know what I am talking about, you have been a priceless source of support and help. I feel bad that my decision may be taken as turning my back on you, as in, 'after all that has been done for me, how can I say what I can?'  The answer is simply because I know what I know and I have seen what I have seen.
 
So do I feel that I have transcended some way of thinking or that now I have some bit of spiritual truth gone unseen by all these JWs? Not at all. Such thinking is arrogant, proud, and spiritually dangerous. It is one thing to say that such and such is what I believe, knowing that this is probably going to evolve. It is something else to have someone dictate this for you, mandating that you goosestep right along with the rest of those of whom you assume to be of like mind. The critical finger that is pointed towards all these other groups (valid as it may be) is one that can be pointed right back at the Witnesses. They shouldn't be surprised, and I don't think they are, when it is.
 
So, where am I going from here? Well, not to sound cliche, but this is a journey. I will always continue to explore the Bible and theological thought. I am not turning my back on God. Just an organization that puts itself in that position.
 
With love to everyone,
Aaron

 


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