Tag Archives: Jehovah’s Witness Convention

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Promises Remind Me of Politicians

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From Pixabay

When any given politician is making their campaign promises, or reporting on how they performed over the last year, how much of what they’re saying do you believe? How much eye-rolling do you do? Or would you rather watch To Tell the Truth, because that show contains less lying?

You know the saying: How do you know when a politician is lying? Answer: His lips are moving.

As I attend Jehovah’s Witnesses meetings, assemblies, and conventions; and as I read Watchtower literature; I try to give the speakers and writers the benefit of the doubt. I try to assume that they’re being honest and up front with their hearers/readers, especially with outsiders, aka potential converts.

I’m having an increasingly hard time doing so.

I’m beginning to liken the JW speakers and writers to politicians.

What styles of discourse do politicians and JW’s have in common? Let me list a few.

Doublespeak: Affirming two contradictory statements without acknowledging the contradiction. Example: “Isn’t it wonderful about how blessed the anointed 144,000 are, with their heavenly hope? How great it will be for them to rule with Christ for all eternity!” Contrast that statement with things like, “Humans are designed for an earthly existence, not a heavenly one.” When talking about the anointed, heaven is sold as the best thing ever. But when talking about the “great crowd” believers, earth is where it’s at. “Heaven? Yuck! Who would want that?”

Omissions: At the recent convention I attended (July 2018), one of the speakers quoted John 6:44 like this: “No man can come unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This is one of my favorite verses of scripture, so I noticed immediately that the speaker omitted the phrase “to me.” The verse should read: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” I wondered whether the omission was intentional, purposefully downplaying our need to come to Jesus. Perhaps it was subconscious on the part of the speaker, due to the relentless indoctrination he has been through over the years. There I go again, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I find myself even giving the governing bully the benefit of the doubt. Some describe them as wolves. I wonder whether they are just as deceived as the common members. Honestly I don’t know. I can just as easily imagine them as oblivious puppets, or as deliberately manipulative shysters. The more I learn, though, the more difficult it is to give them the benefit of the doubt. And I don’t mean that I’m learning about them from inflammatory websites published by disgruntled apostates with an ax to grind. (There are plenty of those.) I’m talking about what I learn from what I hear and read directly from the JW “horse’s mouth.”

Outright Lies: Here’s where it’s really becoming difficult to cut the governing bully and its minions any slack. One recent example I experienced was during the midweek ministry training at the local kingdom hall. The nice ladies acted out a JW inviting a “householder” to attend a kingdom hall meeting. The JW, in pitching her invitation, said that there would be audience participation, and that children are not separated from the meeting, but that they too could participate in the interaction.

That is a flat-out lie.

Yes, children can participate in the question-and-answer ritual, but that would only be children of families in good standing, and who have been prepared for such participation. No visitor, adult or child, is allowed to ask or answer a question. As a visitor, I have tried. I held my hand up for about 10 minutes one evening. If the fictional skit was representing what JW’s actually promise householders, they are being misleading at best, or insidiously deceptive at worst. They’re putting a positive spin on children attending meetings where they’re bored out of their gourds, instead of being offered educational programs tailored to their developmental level.

All of this is very vexing to me, especially when these flat-out lies are being presented by such nice ladies, whom I have actually been befriending at the kingdom hall. I don’t know whether to be angry or heartbroken for these people. I guess I will continue to feel both.

 

 

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Stay Awake With Jehovah’s Witness Convention Bingo!

While attending the recent Jehovah’s Witness convention, I was inspired with an idea that would help JW’s and non-JW’s alike to stay awake during the unrelenting onslaught of talks throughout the day. Actually, thinking about this idea and noting down some things I heard helped to keep me awake.

Let’s make a Bingo game out of the convention talks! Here are the step-by-step instructions.

Make a number of cards with 5×5 grids on them. Fill the squares randomly with the following phrases, making each card unique:

This system of things

Publisher

Worthy Ones / Ones Disposed to Receive

Coming Kingdom / Paradise

Higher Education

Jehovah God (in the center space)

In the Truth

Apostate

“We Commend You”

Honor or Uphold Jehovah’s Name

Maintain Your Spirituality

Theocratic

Jehovah’s Organization

Jehovah’s Arrangement

“Serve Where the Need is Greater”

Attend Meetings

Do the Preaching Ministry

Trust the Faithful Slave

“Where Else Would We Go?”

The Channel Jehovah is Using

Those Taking the Lead

Symposium

Patronizing Announcement

Announcement of Obvious

Vocal Crescendo at the End of a Talk

Euphemism for “Sit Down and Shut Up”

Thrilling / Exciting

Make up your own phrases to add to the list. You can share them in the comments below.

While listening to the convention talks, mark off each time your hear one of the phrases. Don’t use an “X;” that might look too much like a cross. You better use big black dots instead.

I just realized that we will have to change the name to JAH-Go, because “Bingo” might have pagan origins. Or it might come from the gambling world. Either. Or both.

Anyway, see my sample below, and Have Fun!

JWBingo

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Random Thoughts About the 2018 Jehovah’s Witness Convention, Part 2

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More thoughts about my experience attending the 2018 Jehovah’s Witnesses convention:

(This is part 2; see part 1 here.)

I was able to have a good conversation with one of the attendants (ushers). He showed me (on his phone) the trailer for the Jonah film that would be shown in full the next day (Sunday). I brought up my concern about the “great crowd” believers being denied so many kingdom privileges, including having Jesus as one’s mediator. He (predictably) thought I was wrong. I told him that it’s spelled out very clearly in the Insight on the Scriptures book, which is accessible at the JW website, and also in several Watchtower articles. He still insisted that I must have misunderstood the information I had read. I encouraged him to research the subject, and we went on with just friendly talk. I hope he has or will research on the subject of mediator. I prayed that he would not forget, and would not be able to shake the subject from his mind and heart.

During the lunch break, I had a couple of good, friendly conversations with other attendees. I also asked several security team members whether there had been any protesters that day or the day before, but they said there had been nothing.

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Groom’s Procession (not the one I saw), from sareez.com

Later in the afternoon, when I left one of the “talking head” sessions to get a break from the tedium, I saw a procession coming down the street, with people banging on drums and playing loud music. I thought it was going to be a protest group, but it was an Indian wedding procession, joyfully celebrating the groom traveling on horseback to the wedding site. How fun! I joined in the song and dance for a few minutes, something that I’m sure none of the JW’s would be caught doing. Actually, I don’t know. Can anyone provide insight as to whether JW’s in India participate in their traditional wedding revelry? There didn’t seem to be anything pagan about it, but well, you know how the Watchtower is. Please comment below if you know anything about it.

At the end of the day, we finally encountered “protesters”. At least, that is how the attendees saw them. Just outside the main doors of the convention hall, on the public sidewalk, there was a man and (I assume) his wife and daughter. They all held signs, saying things like “Jesus is Lord.” He was preaching with a bullhorn. I snapped a picture of them, which you can see above. He’s in the white shirt, his daughter is to the right in a blue shirt, and you can see part of his wife at the far left. The great thing was that he was not obnoxious. The bullhorn was not too loud. He was not shouting. He was using scripture, and all the right verses that make JW’s think, verses that I use with my JW friends. I chatted briefly with the wife, letting her know that I was praying. I was so encouraged that this family had a burden to preach the gospel to Jehovah’s Witnesses. More power to them (aka God bless them).

Almost every JW I talked with asked me, “Are you enjoying the convention?” or “Are you enjoying the talks?” Without exception I gave them my standard answer: “I’m really glad I came.” I highly recommend this response. Using it will enable you to give an honest answer that will always satisfy your JW friends. It’s good for kingdom hall use as well. If you go to a convention, be sure to take a lunch and plenty of snacks to keep you awake. Coffee was essential for me. Hard candies to suck on work well too. Do your best to endure the talks, because the opportunities for conversation before, in between, and after are priceless!

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Random Thoughts About the 2018 Jehovah’s Witness Convention

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The view from my seat, about 1/3 of the way back from the front.

This last weekend I attended one of the three days of the 2018 Jehovah’s Witness Convention, which was titled “BE COURAGEOUS”!

There are so many things I want to say, and they’re all competing to be picked first.

Okay, the first thing I want to say is that it was so thoughtful of the organizers to provide something right up front for the grammar police. The title of the convention, which I copied and pasted above, has the exclamation point outside of the quotes. Wrong. The exclamation should be part of the quote. Whew, got that off my chest.

Next, I attended one day of the convention, the Saturday. One day. I cannot imagine attending any more than one day. The boredom is excruciating. The points are so redundant and rudimentary. The music is amateurish. The series of talking heads is nearly unbearable. The morning consisted of a “symposium” of eight talks, followed by another symposium of five talks, followed by a baptism-related talk. Then the afternoon featured another symposium of five talks, followed by, surprise, another symposium of six talks, and finally wrapped up with a final talk. Granted, there were some brief videos interspersed among the talks, but they only served to make the whole day slightly less torturous. At times I felt like saying out loud, “Thank God, a video!” During the final talk of the day, I had to escape and walk around outside for a while. I was reminded of the song lyrics “All you can eat for a dollar ninety-nine, but one dollar’s worth was all that I could stand.” I cannot imagine enduring three days of it. But that leads me to my next observation.

There was a whole lot of buzz at the convention about a video that was scheduled for the third day (Sunday) of the convention. Almost everyone I talked with mentioned the “Jonah” movie. There is even a trailer for it, which one man played for me on his phone. (You can see the trailer at their website, jw.org.) Part of the excitement, I’m sure, is the desperate desire of the poor “great crowd” believers to experience a break in the boredom that the video will provide. The schedule shows the length of the film to be 50 minutes, nearly a whole hour of drama (dare we call it entertainment?) breaking up the parade of talking heads! The JW’s were almost giddy about it! My impressions from the trailer is that it will be a pretty high-quality production; it’s obvious that the Watchtower has invested a significant amount of money into it. With its special effects and professional-sounding music, it’s pretty slick. Once again, I’m dumbfounded about the artistic licence taken by the watchtower. Like they have done before, they have added a character not mentioned at all in the biblical account, in this case a sister of Jonah named Joanna. Her name is mentioned three times in the trailer, which seems deliberate to me. What’s up with this habitual use of fictional characters? (For two other examples, see my previous blog posts, one the story of Haman, the other a fictional donkey serving as Mary’s transportation.) The crazy thing is, whatever the watchtower tells its members, they believe, absolutely, unquestioningly, and immediately. So after this convention, I predict that all the JW’s will believe that Jonah had a sister named Joanna, and that she is mentioned in the biblical account. Just like Mary and Joseph’s donkey. (Again, if you haven’t read my account of my run-in with the JW’s about the donkey, see my previous post. If nothing else, it’s good for a laugh.)

Okay, back to my random thoughts and observations. I sat about a third of the way back in the exhibition hall in the Sacramento Convention Center (see my pic above). The crowd count announced for the day was about 4,600 attendees. Compare that with the nearly full Cow Palace (San Francisco) in years past. I think we can safely conclude that there’s downsizing going on, at least in Northern California. To what will the watchtower attribute the decreasing numbers? Will they say that the number of “worthy ones” being drawn by Jehovah ebbs and flows over the years? Or will they say the door of opportunity for repentance is getting narrower, or is about to close altogether? Or will they use this as an opportunity to put pressure on the members to increase their preaching efforts, essentially blaming the workers and guilting them into working harder for the kingdom? Perhaps none of these. They may simply not mention it, ignoring the trend, or somehow spin it to look like success. After all, whatever explanation, or non-explanation, the governing bully gives, the members will believe it. And if they don’t, who would dare to question them anyway?

My blog post is becoming lengthy. I’ll stop here and write a part two. Please share your thoughts about this post, or your own observations of the convention in the comments.

 

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Is Attendance Down at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Conventions?

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JW Convention, Cow Palace, 2017

Is Convention Attendance Down?

On a recent Saturday I attended part of the 2017 convention entitled “Don’t Give Up!” My intention was to attend the full day, like I usually do, but circumstances made me arrive at lunchtime and leave before the sessions of the day were over. Here are some of my experiences and thoughts from the day.

I wondered whether attendance would be down as others have been reporting. I believe it was down a little, but not greatly. It seemed there were more gaps between people than there had been in my past experiences. Take a look at the pic above and compare it with my pic from last year, below. It’s difficult to discern any difference from my blurry pics, but my experience was that there were slightly fewer people this year.

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JW Convention, Cow Palace, 2016

 

A Conversation

Upon arriving at lunchtime, I met my friend Mark, and we and walked out to Marla’s car (the sister he had ridden with), where we all ate together, enjoying the cool, sunny day outside of the Cow Palace (San Francisco). Because I have been recently experiencing less willingness on the part of JW’s to interact in any meaningful way (see my previous post, Preparing Jehovah’s Witnesses to Listen – A New Strategy), I used my new approach with Marla. She began asking me about whether I liked reading the Bible, and what translation I used. I could tell where she was going, but I didn’t let on. I told her I liked New American Standard and New International Version, and that I have them side-by-side in columns in my Bible app. To my surprise, she said she liked the NIV too. But then, sure enough, she began claiming the superiority of the New World Translation, because of its inclusion of “Jehovah” for God’s name, where others have substituted in the title “LORD.” I told her that I also liked a version that used the name “Yahweh” in the Old Testament, and explained that it was more accurate to the original language than the name “Jehovah” which was not invented until the 14th century.

Before that point could loom and spoil our relationship, I expressed my joy at being able to join with Jesus in calling God “Father,” and even something like “Dad” according to Romans 8. I was going to be kind and not drop the bomb that Watchtower teaches that adoption as sons (according to Romans 8) is only for the anointed 144,000, but then Marla did it herself. (She knows her doctrine better than most JW’s.) My cheerful response was: “Oh, I believe I have been adopted as Jehovah’s son, and when that happens, we’re free to address him as Jehovah, Yahweh, Father, Dad, or any of his other names. It’s fantastic!”

Then I changed the subject, mentioning the great weather Jehovah had provided for us that day. And we remained friends, chatting all the way back into the arena! (Actually, Marla did most of the chatting, which was essentially “humble-bragging” about the Jehovah’s Witness organization.)

Comments on One of the Talks

One of the most bizarre talks, in my opinion, was one among the four in the symposium “Imitate Those Who Have Endured,” specifically the talk on Jephthah’s Daughter (Judges 11:36-40). If you read Judges 11, it says that Jephthah (foolishly) vowed to offer as a burnt offering “whoever comes out of the door of my house.” The speaker then went on to assume that Jephthah’s daughter was not killed by her father, but lived the rest of her days a virgin in the temple, perhaps playing a part in raising Samuel. He (and I assume the Watchtower leaders) completely overlook that the Bible says that Jephthah “carried out the vow he had made regarding her.” The NWT even gives a biased translation of verse 40, saying that “from year to year, the young women of Israel would go to give commendation to the daughter of Jephʹthah,” in contrast to all other translations which say something like “each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate (or lament) the daughter of Jephthah.” I was amazed at the Watchtower’s sanitizating of the biblical story, and wondered what was their motive for doing so. I would appreciate your thoughts and insights about this in the comment section below. Yes, you, whether you’re a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing, faded, disfellowshipped, or a non-JW (or some other category I haven’t thought of). Remain anonymous if you need to. Jehovah loves you, and wants to adopt you as his son or daughter! (Read Romans 8.)

 

 

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Having Fun at Jehovah’s Witness Convention

If you have been to a JW convention, you might think that the title of this post is a contradiction. How could anyone have fun at a JW convention? Well, aside from counting ill-fitting suits and misinterpreted scriptures, I have had many pleasurable experiences while at the conventions.

Should I feel guilty that I find pleasure in ministering to JW’s? After all, it is a serious calling, and it’s life or death to the ones I’m reaching out to. Their relationship with Jehovah (or lack thereof) is as serious as a heart attack, and not something to be toyed around with. I do not find pleasure or satisfaction, as some do, in winning arguments, making them feel inferior, “setting them straight,” or “putting them in their place.” (OK, yes, I am tempted to do these things, but I’m gaining the victory over those sins. That’s right, I said sins.) But I cannot help that I find pleasure in talking with these people.

At the latest convention, I talked with a brother and sister (literal siblings, that is, not just fellow witnesses). Katie was the more outspoken of the two, so I asked her about the JW practice of concluding prayers to Jehovah with “in the name of Jesus.” “What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus?” I asked, “assuming that it’s more than just a correct formula for the end of a prayer.” It was a pleasure to see her enthusiastically presenting my argument for me, as she explained the deep, profound meaning behind the phrase. Then, imagine my delight as she mentioned Jesus’ role as mediator in his role as the channel of our prayers to Jehovah. A more sinister mind would say she fell right into my trap. Instead I see it as God’s Spirit at work, bringing her to a crisis in her belief-system that could bring her one step closer to freedom. I affirmed her recognition of Jesus’ mediatorial role, and conveyed my excitement of having Jesus as my mediator. Then I dropped the bomb. “What concerns me,” I said, “is that Watchtower teaches that Jesus is the mediator for only the 144,000.”

Now the real fun began. Her intent gaze changed to searching-for-an-answer glances up and to one side–you know the look, like when you’re called upon in class and you’re trying to remember the answer from last night’s homework. That body language is what gives me the most pleasure, because it indicates that I’ve gotten them to “jump the tracks,” wrestling with concepts that they haven’t ever considered before. I love those moments.

Then, much more to my delight, Katie began to verbalize her internal conflict, in one sentence affirming that Jesus could be the mediator for the Great Crowd, and in another affirming that he could not be our mediator, all the while aware that she was contradicting herself, but powerless to fix the problem. (I must add that Katie is no dummy; she’s highly intelligent, and speaks more languages than I do.) All I had to do was repeat back to her what she was saying, and allow her to argue with herself.

Why do I find this so pleasurable? Do I have a sick mind? Well, maybe, but not in this case. My pleasure comes from seeing God at work. He caused me to have a divine appointment with Katie and her brother. He is drawing her (and possibly him) to himself. He directed her thinking and our conversation. She’s wrestling with God like Jacob, and probably doesn’t even realize it. And the longer I can keep her wrestling, the better chance she has of finding true freedom. I want to keep her (and others) in this searching-for-answers state for as long as possible. And I want to avoid pushing them further to the looking-around, change-the-subject, glazed-over, shutting down look. You know the one–the look that says “I’m done talking with you, at least about that subject.” If that happens, I try to give them an out, perhaps by saying, “Well, it’s something to think about, isn’t it? Anyway, . . .” (and change the subject). And wipe that smug look off my face (and my heart), because I want to remain friends with them. I want them to be willing to talk with me again sometime. Because talking with them is so much fun!

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