For all the shades of grey that exist in Christianity, here is a denomination that lays it out in black and white. When the new world arrives, the Jehovah’s Witnesses Organization will become what it was destined to become: a global governing structure. Kingdom Halls are ready and waiting in communities all over the world. These will be the new Kingdom’s headquarters, and the remaining people will be a single race speaking one language.
What language? According to an old Watchtower, it will be like ancient Hebrew—except the letters will look more like our current style of alphabet instead of that weird old blocky text. How will I learn it? The Watchtower assures readers that the Kingdom will employ plenty of good language instructors.
If you’re the kind of person who wants answers, here they are in spades. In fact, you don’t even have to think of the questions—those are provided as well. The day’s “sermon” is a question and answer session lifted directly from the most recent copy of the Watchtower. Every Kingdom Hall all over the world is reviewing this exact article this weekend. The governing board of the Jehovah’s organization keeps a tight grip on the curriculum. Everyone is asked to read the article in advance—carefully, at home, during the week. Now an elder stands at the podium as we open to the correct page.
Today’s lesson is called “Entering into God’s Rest.” Examples from Genesis and Hebrews reveal people being punished for not being obedient to God. The old guy at the podium asks the questions printed at the bottom of each column and then calls on people by name. “Why is obedience essential if we are to enter into God’s rest?” A few people raise their hands and provide an appropriate snippet from the article. He asks, “What does it mean to enter into God’s rest today? Brother James?”
“By being obedient,” says Brother James obediently.
For those who want a bottom line, a “pull quote” is printed at the top of the page: “We can enter into Jehovah’s rest today by obediently working in harmony with his advancing purpose as it is revealed to us through his organization.”
The answers are clearly printed, but I’m left scratching my head.
I’ve skipped ahead to the next week’s lesson and it is about family members who leave the faith, and how they must be shunned. The attached photo shows a young man walking out the door with his suitcase, his weeping mother in the foreground. I want to ask about family and friends who would never in a million years join the faith. Can eternal paradise really be that great if no one I love will be there?
As I am leaving, I can see a group gathering around a flip chart. This is the meeting where they go over their personal ministries, which is what they call their doorstep proselytizing. They are dividing up the neighborhoods, making sure every door gets knocked on.
I can live without celebrating Christmas and birthdays and other holidays. I can steer clear of smoking and gambling and pornography. But there seems to be a massive grey area. During the service, one of the leaders from another Kingdom Hall gave a brief talk about immorality and he singled out Web-based social networking as an example of one of the ways “wicked men will be progressing from bad to worse.” Will I need to ditch my Facebook profile? I’d hate to because I’m reconnecting with so many old friends through it.
What about this blog? Should I hit the “delete” button?
I understand that bad things happen. Some people develop dark and twisted thoughts that compel them to harm others and themselves. It doesn’t matter if their parents were loving and taught them well—it’s hate they breed. Maybe something went wrong in the chemistry of their brains. I don’t know. But focusing on it, and assuming it exists everywhere, seems wrong, like it gives those forces more power instead of less.
I’d rather turn my attention to the good, and grow the love.