On Jehvoah’s Witnesses and Writing
In Jennifer LoveGrove’s article, “On Jehovah’s Witnesses and writing”( http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/10/08/jennifer-lovegrove-on-jehovahs-witnesses-and-writing/) from the National Post, she answers common questions and misconceptions about the new religious movement as a former Jehovah’s Witness (JW). Jennifer answers the commonly asked questions based on her childhood experiences and memory. The first question she tackles is in regards to salvation and heaven. Jehovah Witnesses’ believe God will unleash destruction into the world, and will save the lives of the believing Jehovah Witnesses and resurrect the dead ones as well. These individuals will live forever in paradise on Earth, but these survivors will need to spend hundreds of years cleaning up the post-Armageddon planet, and essentially create the paradise themselves. Jehovah’s Witnesses spend a large portion of time attending meetings and actively ministering to non-JW. The questioning of beliefs is forbidden and punished, while elders counsel their members on various topics such as dating, relationships, jobs, money and other private issues. Education and pursuing a commitment to career is discouraged as well. Jennifer continues on to share that JW purpose for door knocking was to tell others about everlasting life in paradise on Earth and an opportunity to survive Armageddon.
Another topic she discusses is the fact that many JW perceived birthday celebrations to be a form of idolatry, and that Christmas is a big birthday party for Jesus, therefore no celebrations for Christmas. As a result, there had been some embarrassing times for Jennifer growing up as a JW, with conflicting values with the rest of society. For example, she could not draw Christmas tree or sing carols, which shocked teachers and made Jennifer embarrassed. Jennifer also mentions of a four year old girl who was terrified of breaking the rules of her faith and was constantly stressed as a result.
The ultimate goal of JW is to survive the Great Tribulation and Armageddon and achieve everlasting life in paradise on Earth. The other goal is to be obedient, avoiding ostracism, which could result in no contact with community and family if one is very disobedient. Jennifer states her reason for leaving the JW faith is because her friendship with a close friend disintegrated and she had no more incentive to attend three JW meetings a week, and did not have her friend to pass notes and giggle with anymore.
As Irving Hexham states in his book, “Understanding World Religions”, relationships are challenged by social and cultural confusion mixed with religious beliefs. Just like Jennifer’s birthday party and Christmas examples, the relationships between students and teachers can become slightly awkward to an extent because of the belief that it is wrong to celebrate birthdays and even Christmas, which is a social norm in North America. I also find it interesting how Jennifer’s belief in the JW religion was held together by a relationship with a friend, and not the doctrines and belief of the religion itself. This demonstrates a lack of importance in religious values for Jennifer, but rather, value for relationship and community. Through this article, one learns from an ex-JW a snippet of the religion and can dissect the fact that it was not the beliefs she valued, but friendship.