The building was not completely packed, but I have never been in the company of so many JWs. Every one was dressed up, men, women and children and no child care was offered. Above the stage was a huge banner that read, “Follow The Christ 2007 District Convention 2008.” The program started a bit late, but the speakers usually ended their time slot a few minutes early. There were no breaks from when to convention began at 9:30 until 12:10 for lunch.
As soon as the lunch break began, S.R. came over to me and asked if I had any questions. We got to talking about whether or not God needed an organization when he tried to prove through Acts 15 that all of the churches reported back to a governing body in Jerusalem. I pointed out that because this was the only time in scripture where a letter was sent forth from the apostles in Jerusalem, it wasn’t as clear cut as the Watchtower says it is about a governing body. I told him that after churches were set up and established, they were autonomous and followed no pattern of reporting back to Jerusalem. We agreed to disagree and decided it was lunch time.
S.R.’s family invited me to stay with them and eat. Practically no one left the building for lunch because they all brought their own food in small coolers. Out of the few people who did leave the building, the majority of them sat in the parking lot and ate lunch in their cars. Very few people left the premises to go eat at a restaurant. I thanked S.R., but declined their offer because I had a small cooler in my car and I wanted to call Becky and talk with her about how the day was going.
One of the things I told Becky about on the phone was that the parts I disliked most about the convention were the testimonies. The first three people to give their testimonies all had these stories about how they persevered through extreme circumstances in order to give more time to the organization. The first lady said that she entered into the pioneer service (full-time door to door ministry) in spite of the fact that she has type one diabetes, her daughter has some sort of disability and her grandmother, has Parkinson’s disease.
The second lady told of giving up her four year degree. She was very close to graduating, yet decided that she didn’t want to “waste any more time.” She thought it best to pioneer instead of following Satan’s world.
The third lady was a bit younger than the other two and said that prior to pioneering, she was seeking “wrong entertainment” in the form of video games and movies. Next, she said something very interesting. I don’t have it word for word, but it was something to the effect of, “If you stay busy in the works of Jehovah, you don’t have time for the world.” The message that the Watchtower was trying to send was extremely obvious.
“There are no excuses for not doing more. Do you think you have it
tough? These people have difficult circumstance and are still able to
pioneer full-time for Jehovah’s Organization. Why can’t you?”
What a guilt trip! That, my friends, is a classic mark of a cult. We should stay so busy that we do not have time for anything else. That includes no time for investigation or critical thinking.
One way that the organization accomplishes this was being played out right before my eyes in this very convention. Each speaker brought up numerous Bible verses to substantiate certain points of their subject, but gave almost no time to look up the verses and zero time to consider the context. I was writing as fast as I could and was looking up as many of the verse as I could. When I couldn’t keep up, I would just write down the passage and turn to the verse the speaker had already jumped to. I could see the JWs in front of me who were doing little more than just writing down the verses. It was very difficult to write down the verse, look it up, check the context and take notes before the speaker had already moved on to another verse. After a few hours of this, we all needed a break. Lunch time sounds good right about now.