Behind Enemy Lines

July 10, 2007

I have been on the road the past few days so no new posts lately, but here is what has been going on. 

My wife and her family went to the Southwest Jehovah’s Witness convention this past week.  Normally they go to Arizona, but this year they went to New Mexico.  Since my company has offices there that I needed to go to anyway, I travelled with them this year, although obviously I didn’t go to the convention itself.

From talking to my wife about this one and previous conventions, it reminds me of my previous work where I was in sales where I was a rep, trainer, manager, and owner over a period of 15 years.  From what I understand they do their baptisms at the conventions but also discuss the members commitment to the Society.  Mostly by adhering to the JW rules and continuing to get new members.  Sounds like a lot of motivational speaking to me.

The hotel we stayed at probably consisted of 80% Jehovah’s Witnesses for the days we were there.  One thing I noticed:  A large percentage of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not like my wife’s family.  I am sure they are similar in their basic beliefs about their religion, but my wife’s family, especially her mother and older sister and her husband, are, for a lack of a better word, die hard Witnesses.  They frown upon anything ”worldly.”  They home school their kids and have no intention of sending them to college.   They do not participate in any holidays.  Their kids are fully indoctrined and often criticize my kids (their cousins) about them doing bad things (i.e. birthdays, 4th of July).  In talking with some of the other Witnesses, while a few are fully immersed like my in-laws, I get the impression many are very similar to the majority of members of the other Christian religions:  Get through life during the week and worship on Sunday.

My main point is what many people already know.  Had my mother in law been visited by a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, she would have been as devout with them as she is with The Truth and I would have a blog about being married to a Mormon right now.  Had she come across a proselytizing Pentacostal I would be discussing the idiocy of speaking in tongues rather than the issues of blood transfusions.  I think people want to believe and will become part of any belief system that is around them.  I have seen some argue that the desire for such beliefs is the reason there must be a supreme being, but that is another topic for another day. 

To once again give my wife credit.  She has raised our children with her spiritual beliefs, yet she allows me to expose them to the real world–and this is very much against what her family and congregation would recommend.  She not only encourages them to get good grades, she is actually indoctrinating them that they WILL go to college and get degrees.  My kids have friends that come over regularly that are not Witnesses.  While at times I want to be more aggressive in not allowing my children to get as involved with the Witnesses as they are, they are being fully exposed to both sides and will be able to make educated decisions, rather than just follow along because everyone they know has the same beliefs.

So, while the situation isn’t what I would consider ideal, at least my kids will see both sides and get evidence from me about what the real Truth is.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

June 20, 2007

It’s my birthday too!

Actually my birthday was yesterday.  I am now one year away from the big 4-0.  I am getting old.  Since I had to work late yesterday my wife is getting me a cake and cooking me a dinner for my birthday tonight.  Now, to the average person reading, this may not seem like such a big deal.  But to anyone who has read some of my previous posts and know that my wife is a Jehovah’s Witness and also knows that JW’s don’t celebrate birthdays would realize this is a pretty big deal.

A quick recap.  When my wife and I were dating we ended up living together before we were married.  She was disfellowshipped from The Truth.  After we were married, she let me know she wanted to get re-instated in her religion.  I knew virtually nothing about JW’s, and I of course told her it was fine with me, whatever made her happy.  I knew the odds were no matter who I married there was a good chance of them being religious, but I didn’t know anything about her religion at the time.

I would soon find out.  We had a lot of problems the first couple of years of our marriage.  JW’s do not celebrate any holidays.  We had children, and I told her that the day my kids were born one of the best days of my life, and I am going to celebrate it with them whether she liked it or not.  This was the old internet days with dial up, but there were a few websites discussing religions, and I found one really good one about Witnesses.  I also read Kingdom of the Cults, which is really a book showing how JW’s, Mormons, and 7th Day Adventists are the wrong religion compared to evangelical Christians, but it still had a lot of information about JW’s that I previously did not have.

If anyone has tried to debate with a JW, you know they are pretty knowledgeable in the Bible (at least their version).  They are indoctrined, and keep in mind, my wife was raised in The Truth, which means this was all she knew.  And the Watchtower Society tries to keep it that way.   They are discouraged from reading any other literature.  I was in sales for a long time, and after awhile, you read enough books by Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins and the like and you eventually have an answer to every objection a client may have.  Well, JW’s are the same on the religious objection front.  This is how they get new members by having all of the answers that a person that believes in God but isn’t getting good answers in their own church/congregation.  At first my wife had all of the answers to why we couldn’t celebrate holidays, or even my initial attempts to get her to look at evolution or some conflicts with the Bible.  They have a standard answer to nearly every question, and if you press further, they will refer you to a specific Watchtower article.  To give you an idea how bad it was, my brother was married in a Catholic Church a couple of months after we were married, and she had what came down as an anxiety attack at the rehearsal because she couldn’t stand being in the church.  At the actual wedding she ended up just watching all of the kids in the daycare so she wouldn’t have to be in the pews.

My wife’s mother was 100% involved in The Truth and made sure her kids were as well.  They were pulled out of school when they had and could not participate in numerous events (Christmas parties, anything involving Easter, etc).  Things like that made it very hard to have and maintain friends in school, and she received a lot of discrimination-not to mention that’s the way the Watchtower Society wants it anyway.  She was basically sheltered from the real world.  There was no way I was going to let my kids be raised that way.  I do not mind exposing them to religion, but they need to know about everything out there and not just be exposed to someone’s “Truth.”

My wife, our marriage, and myself have come a long way since then.  All marriages involve some compromise, and ours had plenty.  She finally stood up to some of her family and said, this is who I am married to and we will do some of the things he wants such as birthdays (and we spend Christmas with my family which is out of state).  I have learned a lot about JW’s.  I have went to a number of meetings and almost every Memorial since we have been married.  I agree with very little of their beliefs, but I give them credit as far as the amount of studying they do, and they are one of the few religions that hold their member accountable.  If you do not participate, they will boot you out.  For the most part they are all good people. 

All of that being said, after much persuasion, my wife finally read some of the research I did on JW’s and the Watchtower Society.  The 1914 and 1975 predictions loom large and she finally took some closer looks at it.  I have shown her articles about blood donations, and while she is still iffy on that she is at least listening now, where previously she was unmoveable on that topic. 

My wife is much too emotional and spiritual to be like me and become an athiest, but I think if there was a way out without the repercussions of her family that she would choose another Christian church.  I think the diversity of her spiritualness and my atheism is healthy for both us and the kids.  If my kids choose to stay JW’s and are happy then I will be happy.  But they will at least be aware of other religions and will be exposed to my own free thinking beliefs as well.  For a good deconversion story read a new post from evanescence.

Now, it’s almost time for my cake….


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