New Beginnings

In this blog, I am documenting my life. I have come full circle, from trying to become a child of God to actually becoming one. It took me many years of self-deception and searching for something I could not describe to finally find Christ.

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I write research articles, have done so since 1994.  I married my best friend in 2012, and we are in it for the long haul.  I have four children and five grandchildren.  My expertise is in teaching Sunday School.  I love listening to them memorize verses, and telling them Bible stories.  You can see my current endeavors at nicenet.org, and on Facebook at Yucaipa Writer's Group.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

I have learned many things from wonderful people

What I Learned from Doctor Larry.
When I met Doctor Larry, I was very much down on men in general. The notion of becoming involved with another member of the opposite sex absolutely sickened me, due to the abuse I had suffered at the hands of two husbands and three boyfriends. I had become friends with a woman in my math class in college, who was his girlfriend.
Doctor Larry wanted to start a medical clinic for migrant workers, who had no access to health care. He felt that they deserved to lead quality lives. Because he was proficient at learning languages, he spoke Spanish fluently. It seemed as an act of God that I had gotten to know him. In 1990, I lent him the money to open his clinic, and he paid me monthly until it was paid with interest.
I learned from this experience that there are people outside of the JW’s who felt deeply for the welfare of others, who were honest, and who had needs outside of just being preached to, or studied with. I learned that not all men are abusive, and that there were many out there who really cared about the personal well-being of the underdog.
Doctor Larry had been married to a woman who was very unstable and could not care for their son, so he raised his only son alone. He was totally devoted to this task. I learned from this that I could have hope for my own son to turn out to have a positive future.
When Doctor Larry’s wife died at the age of 57, having had many problems, which included alcohol, he blamed himself. When his father and mother died, he also blamed himself. He wrote many poems about death, weakness, sickness, and the son whom he loved. During the time period while we were friends, I wrote poems as well. I was still a JW, and I was exploring my life. My parents, like Doctor Larry’s, were both dead, and there was nothing holding me back. Doctor Larry was my inspiration in this process.
I continued to try to tell Doctor Larry that the deaths of his wife and parents were not his fault, but I was a JW, and did not currently in my mind think about going to heaven or hell after death, since JW’s are not supposed to think about those things. I don’t think I was of much comfort to him for these reasons.
I also learned how ineffective the theological doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses were, because nothing that I said to him or his girlfriend, whom I knew from my math class, was of any benefits to them in their situations.


A Friend from My Past Whom I Like to Remember


DOCTOR LARRY.
I want to introduce you to a wonderful friend from the past, which was a very difficult time in my life. I met Doctor Larry through a friend; they had stopped for a bite at the restaurant where I worked. My friend, a fellow student in my math class, introduced us. Something about him really impressed me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it right away. I was busy when they came in; however, I was still struck with wonder at this man.
Doctor Larry was short in stature, but he had a magnificence about him that made him very attractive. His charcoal hair, slate eyes, and ruddy complexion made him stand out in a crowd. He wore casual clothing, lots of neutral colors, which made his appearance even more impressive. When he spoke, there was a command in his voice that could not be ignored. Sometimes he would smile, and then all his teeth would gleam, and then when he laughed, it was a tender laugh, for he had compassion for everybody, and his humor was never cruel. His handshake was firm; his hands were always warm, but he preferred to give hugs, which made everybody like him.
In addition to being a compassionate medical doctor, he was multilingual and enjoyed making conversation with anyone he met. Everywhere he went, a person felt stimulated by his articulate conversation, the topics of which seemed to go with his heavy brown sweaters and twill slacks. He had knowledge in his head which could have filled volumes of books on a shelf, and he could talk for hours on any subject. For example, if someone wanted to talk about his or her children or grandchildren, he would listen intently, and then tell them about his son, whom he adored.

His son’s name was Steve, and at the time that I knew them, he was 23 years old, and in college just as I was. The two of them made quite a pair, and people would ask Doctor Larry what his son was taking in college, and of course Doctor Larry could talk about his son for days on end. He was so family-oriented that he would go out of his way to help troubled family relationships.
Doctor Larry had poor health. He had been born with asthma; he had memories of sickness as a child. He was grateful that Steve didn’t inherit it. Steve was enrolled in the same college that I was, but we were not taking the same classes. His major was computer science; he told Doctor Larry that he never wanted to become a medical doctor, because he didn’t want to see death. Doctor Larry really mourned whenever he lost a patient; he felt for the families who lost loved ones.
So you can see why I feel Doctor Larry was special. I remember the last time I saw him; it was on a summer day, and his nurse had just told me that he had undergone open heart surgery. I immediately got in my car, driving the hour it took to get to his office. He was back to work already, and they were telling me he was killing himself. I called him once after that, and never heard from him again. I have my memories.


This is me in my car. I had just bought a new digital camera, and I took this picture in my car. I was in the process of losing wieght, so I was a bit heavier. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My Process of Self-Destruction

The Process of Becoming a Jehovah’s Witness as an Adult Who Should Have Known Better.
My Reasoning Concerning the Lord.

In 1971, I did not think I had God’s favor, because of all the things that were happening in my life. I had been raised as a Lutheran, been forced to change from Missouri Synod to Wisconsin Synod in 1962, upon being married at the age of 19. I felt at the time that I was turning against God. I went to church, but was not spiritually lifted up, as I had been previously. My life commenced to deteriorate. I immediately got pregnant after my marriage, and experienced much more illness than I was used to. None of this had helped me in my relationship with God.
So in 1971, having produced three children, whose father had proved to be not such a great Christian, and being in the midst of ending my marriage, I was questioning this church I had become involved in, and I did not know where to look for answers. I did not know much about the Bible, except what I had learned in school, which wasn’t being practiced or discussed in my current circles. I knew people who were studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses and they seemed really interested in what they were learning. It was then that I became interested in learning what they had in their realm of thought.
In 1972, I became involved with a man who said that he was a Jehovah’s Witness, and he moved in with me and we conjugally conceived my fourth child. It was the month of my divorce from my first marriage that I became pregnant with this child by the man who was a JW.
I was not in for an easy experience. This JW man was not on a good social footing, as I was to find out. When I was a month pregnant, we were forced to move out of the house, and I would not be able to see my other three children unless I moved. This began a journey I was not ready for.
This wonderful JW man was not faithful or supportive of me. He only paid attention to me one time, when I had received a check for $50 from my dad. He then took me out with all his friends so I could spend it all on him.
It was during my fifth month of pregnancy that he left me to go to Northern Wisconsin with two girls he had met. The day he announced that he was leaving, he had just spoken to a JW at the door, and said, “I’m going to church on Sunday.” (Well, I guess that he didn’t make it.)
So I was five months’ pregnant, and he had left me with no money, and I did not eat for two literal weeks. Then, in desperation, I accepted a job baby-sitting for his brother’s wife, who had four children. They would not listen to me; their dog was humungous and I was afraid of it. I just thought I deserved this. On the way home one morning, I was approached at a bus stop by a JW woman selling the Watchtower and Awake, and I said I did not have the money, so a man bought them for me, which impressed me. By now, I was disillusioned enough to think that maybe reading these magazines would endear me to my baby’s dad.
I did not understand what I read in the magazines, so I placed them in my top drawer together with the blue “truth” book which I had been given by Loraine, a JW who had studied with my friend Sue. Sue used to tell me that she had good luck because of her Bible Studies, and I would think she was nuts. But now, I was beginning to think that maybe it would bring me something better if I would check it out. But, I was getting really large and it was embarrassing. So I didn’t, but just kept thinking about it.
On Christmas Eve, I went to the Lutheran Church where my kids were in the Christmas Program. My little girl had her hair put up the way her dad liked it, with spit curls on the sides. (I remember thinking that her dad must have really liked that.) I had sunglasses on, so as not to be recognized, because of my big pregnant belly. The program was beautiful, and I cried because I could not even let the kids know I was there. I left early. Then I went to Monica’s house and watched her get drunk.
Monica was another “friend” much like Sue. She was not a JW, but her god was the bottle. She took up a lot of my time while my baby’s dad was gone. She was an alcoholic, and she hated everybody, but she was something to focus on to keep my mind busy. I took her everywhere. Her marriage was abusive due to her drinking. Her youngest daughter wore too much makeup, and her oldest daughter was becoming addicted to the bottle like she was. Her mom died suddenly just before Christmas, and her dad died shortly after that. Her two brothers were single; one was a schizophrenic, and the other was a loser. I was not involved with this family very long; just until the birth of my child and his dad begged me to take him back, which I did.
In January, my baby was born, and his dad called me, begging me to come and get him, and because I thought my child needed two parents, I did exactly that. The night we arrived back home, this JW man who had left me high and dry and then begged me to take him back was telling me about the Bible, and how God’s name is Jehovah, and how my kids were going to die if I didn’t start studying. In my disillusionment, I believed these words. It was still another year and a half before I did anything about it, but for the next few weeks my JW boyfriend was to tell me about how wonderful the “new order” would be, and he would study with me only one time in the “truth” book. He thought it was interesting that I even had one. I don’t know where it came from, but I suddenly acquired a green copy of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which is the JW Bible. I had no idea how it had come into my possession.
I remember the first time that I earnestly looked, for myself, in the “truth” book, I checked the “table of Contents”: and found the chapter on Prayer, which was Chapter 17, and read it. It said that for God to answer my prayers, first I had to be living the right way. I believed these words, and I felt that all the trash I had been through was because I was not living right and I wanted to know more about that.
When my child was born, and my JW boyfriend came back, I had lived in one place, but we all moved six times by the time he was a year old. It was a year of much instability. The only time I felt halfways human was one day when a JW came to the door when we lived on a busy street. I told them that they should come back when my “husband” was home, because he would love to talk to them. (I again was thinking that this might endear me to him.) They came back, or sent somebody else, I don’t remember, but it was a Sunday morning, and he was there, so they came in and spoke to us. There was no deep discussion. They left and never came back.
We moved two more times, and then my boyfriend called the local JW’s to come over. I was quite surprised at this. Then he told me he was going to the JW meeting. I wanted to go with him, but he would not permit me to go. When he got home, he told me the elders wanted him to leave me, and he was going to move in with his dad. He again left me with no money, and I had to move to a cheaper place. My focus at this point was my child. I could not go on the Welfare, for the father of my other kids would be hot to make trouble for me.
I moved to a one-room apartment. I went to the JW meeting to ask about my boyfriend, but they did not know about him. It turned out that he had lied about it so he could leave me. JW’s helped me finish moving, for he was not to be found anywhere. His friends stole my TV and radio. But I began attending JW meetings with my child, who was now almost 2 years old. Every Sunday, they picked me up and every Tuesday they came to study. This was the beginning of my finding out what this was all about, but I still had a long way to go.
I learned that if God is to open anything up in our lives, we have to do something first. That made me feel as though because I had not done anything for God, He had not done anything for me. So I had to hurry up and study more and learn how I could please God. So much fear of displeasing God. It was easy for me to think this way-because I had never really taken responsibility for my life, and I was told that this was the reason everything had gone so bad.
The study was very regimented. I had to read a paragraph, then read the question on the bottom of the page, and then underline the answer. That was how they got me into their corner of thinking 100%. At the same time, I was taking responsibility for my life, I was thinking like they were. If I tried to answer any other way, I would be told to just stick to what the book said. So I was to revere “The Book”.
One Sunday Morning, I went to the JW meeting, and had to sit in the bathroom with my child, and who should walk in but Sue? She would not talk to me (later she explained that she didn’t think that she was allowed to), but she spoke to my study conductor, who asked me if I knew her. I had to say that I did, even though we were not exactly friends. She had been involved in my first marriage, and I had not seen her since then. I asked God (I called him Jehovah by then) if I was supposed to be friends with her again, and he did not answer me. Was this a Test? I was to find out.
I learned through my studies that I should not have anything to do with the things of ‘Satan the Devil. One of these things was the Cross, since that was a symbol of the god, Tammuz. Jesus had died on a straight up and down stake, not a cross. They called what he died on a Torture-Stake. So I eliminated the word, “crucifixion” from my vocabulary; by now these things were getting easier to do. Also they wanted me to stay away from my JW boyfriend’s family. That was not hard, either, for they all hated me.
When they told me to break up with my JW boyfriend, I was not happy. My goal had been to marry him when he finally divorced his first wife. Two weeks after they had told me that, I found out he was in jail. Then his dad and sister came over and wanted me to help bail him out. In my disillusionment, I thought that this was an act of Jehovah. So I tried to bail him out the next day. It was speeding and drunk driving that my JW boyfriend was charged with. I paid the money, but they would not release him. That evening, his dad and his other sister brought him over to my apartment; they had finally released him. We spend the evening planning on getting back together, but I told him we had to get married; there would be no more “shacking up” for this was not the “Scriptural way””.
When we finally got our blood tests, I told my bible study conductor about it, and she said she was happy for me-this right after telling me to dump him. I made no note of this change in attitude; all I cared was that she was going along with it.
After we were married, we studied together with a young married JW couple, and they were working on getting us to go to the meetings. I began to discover at this point that JW man whom I had married was not much of a JW, for he did not want to go to meetings, and he did not want to stop smoking. I had stopped smoking long ago, but he had no intention of doing so. My next goal was to get him to stop smoking.
We had to move again, because my JW husband did not pay the rent, so we ended up in Arkansas. There things were cheaper, but so were wages, and although employment was plentiful, my JW husband did not like to work. He was a faithful JW, though, and he found the local congregation and gave me someone’s phone number, which I called the next day. I was to have another bible study.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are the type of people who form instant friendships. That was my impression of these JW’s in Arkansas. All I did was to take my child to the next town, where I could call this number locally, and upon going to their house, a friendship ensued with the whole family. They took my child on a bike ride, and taught him to milk a cow and he was a very happy 2 ½ year old little boy` I, although I was getting sick, was just as ecstatic over this relationship. My illustrious JW husband even became friends with them. I was in Seventh Heaven!
Smoking was still an issue. My wonderful JW husband would sit right next to me while we were watching TV and our child was playing on the floor, and be smoking one cigarette after another, making it hard for me to breathe. I was getting sicker and sicker, and he did not seem to care.
On Mother’s Day of 1976, my mom died of lung cancer. I was talking to my dad on the phone, and he said to come out for the funeral. We had planned on leaving to go and “witness” to my mom in the hospital, but the day we were to leave, she was going to be buried. So the next day, we were calling my dad from Little Rock Airport, ready to get on the plane. Dad bought us tickets, and we flew to Ontario, where he picked us up
The day my mom was buried, my JW husband was out of cigarettes, so he bummed one off my cousin, who had come to my dad’s house in the morning prior to the funeral. That was the last cigarette he smoked, for this was the year of our baptism, and he was not supposed to be smoking as a JW.
In September of 1976, we were baptized into what was known as Jehovah’s Organization. The hubs and the admiration were overwhelming to me-I had never had so many friends in my whole entire life! They were positive friends who did not want to suck my blood. I was in Paradise!
I had gone from a Lutheran, and wanting to go to Heaven, to being a JW, and not really understanding where I would go. The “Paradise Earth” thing was appealing, but where was my mom? Also, since I had believed in the soul, how really could that just die, since I did not know what their concept of the soul was, and nobody could really explain it? My questions were never answered. For the next 20 years, my questions would never be answered.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

So I Said to God................

©2005
So I Said to God…..
(Part One)
[At this point, I still called him Jehovah]
“Thank you for allowing me to buy another car. I will use it to improve my life, and serve you.”

At the end of 1994, my son Scott wanted me to meet his fiancée, Nicky, so I asked Jehovah if I should take the bus. I checked Greyhound, and called Scott, telling him the price, which he and Nicky sent to me. I thanked God, but He was testing me, for when I went to Greyhound, they would not honor the price they had given to me over the phone. I could not argue, for out came a Security Guard with a big smile on his face. So I did the next best thing, which was to buy a one way ticket. I called Scott and told him what I had done, and he said that once I had gotten there, he would get me back.

I parked my car in Debbie’s driveway, and she took me to the bus terminal. I had a really bad headache that was traveling up and down my back. I told God that it would not stop me, and so I got on the bus and left.

(Part Two)
So I said to God © 2005
I got to Milwaukee, and Scott picked me up. It was then that I first saw and hugged Nicky, and I perceived she was nervous. It took 3 hours to get to the town where Scott lived, during which we had quite a discussion.

He told me that there was a Christmas Tree in his apartment. I asked God (silently) “Are you still testing me?” I kept listening to Scott, as he said, “At least I can thank the Man who made it possible for me to be here.” Nicky said that she was Catholic, but here sister had turned Pentecostal. She said that Pentecostal women could not wear slacks or cut their hair. It occurred to me that I was glad not to have that restriction placed on me. (But what about the restrictions I did have? Like I was not to do this or that, but it was “up to my conscience” if I did.)

My mind was going a mile a minute as we arrived at Scott’s apartment. I had not been this close to a Christmas Tree since 1971. My son had a male roommate, Bryan, who had put up Christmas cards in the doorway. Bryan was Nicky’s cousin.

That night, I thanked God for taking care of my son.

(Part Three)
So I Said to God ©2005

The next morning, I checked my answering machine in California, and there was a message from Phil. Phil is my brother, who was never exactly on the same page as I was. On the day in 1994, when my car had been towed away, he had fallen and broken his hip. Now this message was telling me that he had been hit by a car and I should call the hospital. I did and he had broken the other hip and leg. He was not there, having gone to therapy or something, so I got to talk to a nurse, who told me what a “nice guy” he was (he apparently knew how to act nice in front of some people) Later, he called and I was not there. When I finally got hold of him, he just complained about how bad he felt and then said, “Oh _____! I’ve got to call somebody.” And hung up. Phil never was a Jehovah’s Witness, but he had broken both hips in six months and I was thinking God was probably dealing with him as well as with me.

My purpose was before me here in Wisconsin, and he would have to handle his own problem. God wanted me to deal with my relationship with my son.

(Part Four)
So I Said to God… ©2005

I met Nicky’s mom, Pat, that day. She impressed me as being very aggressive. I was to find out that I was right. Her aggressiveness kept everybody hopping, including my son. She had brought me a pound of coffee, so I could make some for myself. It was at her home that I was to spend part of Christmas Eve, and I was stressed about that. But I talked to God, promising not to discuss the Bible with anyone, because, of course, I was just helping Scott. Then she said that I was “welcome to go to church” with them on Christmas Eve. I had to think of something fast.

I asked God, who was still testing me, what I should do, and suddenly it came to me. I called Pat and asked her if they had choir music (after all, hadn’t I been in the choir when I was Lutheran?) She said yes, they could get there early to hear the music. So I would not be celebrating Christmas; I would be listening to choir music.

(Part Five)
So I Said to God…… ©2005

Christmas Eve was interesting; we started by going to Nicky’s sister’s Pentecostal Church, where they were singing Christmas hymns, and there was a man standing in front with an overhead projector which showed the words to the songs. The entire program featured a children’s singing group, a duet by two girls, and Nicky’s sister was supposed to sing, but for some reason did not.

From there, we went to Nicky’s Catholic Church, and heard the choir. I was beginning to think Christmas was not so bad, but then the Priest said something about Santa Claus, and I asked Jehovah’s forgiveness for that thought.

Most of Nicky’s family was there, and I remember thinking that some of her uncles were kind of cute. Scott leaned over and said that most of the people there were a little inebriated, and I was thinking that it’s so cold in Wisconsin, what else could they do?

Then we went to Nicky’s parents’ house for the “opening of gifts”; they had given me one too, and there were many tears and thank you’s. I gave Nicky’s dad a hug. But I did not say, “Merry Christmas” to anyone.

(Part Six)
So I Said to God……. ©2005

I thought a lot about Ralphie. One day, I tried to call him, but he was probably out fishing. Ralphie lived in a trailer down the road from mine in California, and he didn’t like to turn his heat on, which made me worry that he might get sick. But the alcohol he drank apparently kept him thawed out. Anyway, when I finally did get in touch with him, he had been out fishing. He didn’t get along with any of our neighbors except me, and he had a daughter in town with whom he spent some time, but much of his time was spend either fishing or thinking about the past with his wife, who had died in 1960. Ralphie did one thing which concerned me; he read the tabloids, specifically the astrological fortune-telling stuff, and he believed everything they said. He used to tell me about being able to speak to his wife on the phone, and I would ask him where he learned that stuff, and he would point to his pile of magazines.

So when I finally spoke with him on the phone from my son’s house, he was feeling okay. I promised God I wouldn’t worry anymore.

(Part Seven)
So I Said to God…. ©2005

The day after Christmas, Nicky came over to Scott’s house very upset and crying. Her mom, Pat, had flown off the handle. The whole family was name-calling, backstabbing each other, and I found out later that Pat had almost kicked her husband out of the house. (He didn’t leave, of course) Scott went over to Nicky’s house, and I wasn’t sure what went on, because I would call and someone would hang up on me. Some time later, Nicky came back to Scott’s and told me to get ready to go. I told her that that the demons were out today, and that was what caused her mom to go off like that.

We went to Nicky’s relatives for a progressive meal, which I had not experienced since my days in the Lutheran Church, so it was interesting to experience. My headache was not gone, and I was really wanting to get rid of it, so I drank some white wine, which helped a little. Pat was okay by then, and everything went well. The last house was Uncle Bill’s, and it was set up in the basement. We all just sat and talked and nibbled on veggies. “Uncle Bill” sold real estate. He and his ex-wife were hosting this “End of the Road” party, and some said they were getting back together, and others did not want them to.

This was Pat’s family. I sensed much dysfunction, but I asked God not to let it touch my son.


(Part Eight)
So I Said to God…. ©2005

It was the next day, Thursday, and Scott got paid from work, and bought me a bus ticket to get home. I left Friday on the bus and three days later, I arrived at the terminal where Debbie was to pick me up and take me to my car. Her husband, a Jehovah’s witness elder, was with her, and asked me if I had told my kids that they would be bird food. I did not answer him. Nor did I feel any guilt, because nothing I had done in Wisconsin was wrongdoing.

Book Review Jehovah's Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Illness

©2004 by Claudia Kittel

Review of Jerry Bergman’s Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Illness. Published in 1992 by Witness Inc.

Mr. Bergman begins with an overview of the practices and terminology of this particular group, along with the doctrine/theology of the belief structure. The author goes into depth regarding the causal relationships of this peculiar stance to the life of a human being, and the events which have been caused as a result of the devaluation of life, the disregard for individual welfare, family problems, etc., also their negative view on professional help in the area of physical/mental/emotional disorders of any kind.
An interesting term which means a lot when reasoning out in one’s mind what has happened is “labels”. Many of these are used, and many are changed as whim of Bethel, New York, passes on. One can be “disfellowshipped” only if one is baptized. Some congregations “mark” people—that means that whoever doesn’t like a person can shun them (Bergman calls this “silent reproof”.) Other “labels” are “dissociated”, which can mean two or more things, depending upon the time period in which it happens, and also they can be “disapproved”, or deemed to be an “unapproved associate”, depending upon whether they have been baptized or whether they have shown what they call “evidence of repentance”. Other terms used in descriptive reference to the org are “exclusivist”, “selectivist”, and “authoritarian”. All these terms and labels seem to enable the human spirit in order to mold this belief structure into an “orientation”, taking complete control of the whole personality, and doing its destructive damage.
The thing that keeps a JW socially hooked is the “Esprit de Corps” which binds them together as they stomp door to door, block after block. [How many knock on a door, hoping nobody is there, so they can leave?] But the “glue” has been defined by Bergman as “super pietism”. Their relationship to others, especially outsiders, is described as “discordance”, and “maladjustment” is the reason spoken of in the book which is behind many of their “situations”.
Bergman cites many cases in his book which back up his generalizations about the conditions contributing to mental problems within the org. He addresses crime, superstitions, suicides, but he seems to believe that these things are caused by parents being too strict or by single parents, or one parent not being a JW. He does address the lack of social programs, and the changing forecasting of the “end”, and the many circumstances this may cause. He also speaks of the socio-economic status into which JW’s are forced to live, however, he does not address the JW’s who are not in this status or how they get there to acquire their expensive homes, swimming pools, real-estate businesses, multi-level successes, etc.
Bergman was a Witness for 20+ years, and it was probably in his early life, since he speaks more extensively about being raised in the org, and that it doesn’t affect people the same when they join as adults. This statement seemed subjective. It is Bergman’s premise that the basic teachings of the org, caused by the Witness doctrinal/theological belief structure, cause behavior which tends to lead to mental illness. He does deal with things like the problems that cause people to join, but that is not his focus.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have objects of reverence other than C.T. Russell’s New World Translation, which was written to “unify” the way they all preached. These objects consist of: the Watchtower Publications (which are the Witnesses’ “Bible), the “Society”, (which is supposed to be representing God), and the”Elder Arrangement”, which is somewhat like the previous two. Mental Problems are supposed to be a lack of trust of any of these objects of reverence. This can be a result of personal sin, or other shortcomings.
It has been very difficult for researchers to find anything out regarding the rate of mental illnesses in the org, for empirical research can only be done if there are in fact witnesses in the public sector. Many researchers appeared in the 1940s, having interviewed people who were incarcerated for refusing to go into the Military. They are cited by Bergman; however, many studies have been skewed by factors of argument or various reasonings.
The JW doctrine/theology, being so changeable, has people always thinking that the “end of the world” is going to occur at an imminent time; therefore they are always kept on their guard. Dates which are mentioned in the book are 1914, 1925,1975; however, since the inception of this book, it has been predicted for 1984, 1990, 2005, and 2034. Many members have, due to always believing this, have quit jobs, school, life in general, and when these dates didn’t manifest anything, some of them were able to bounce back and some were not.
Bergman speaks of Witnesses being forbidden to have outside interests, but the exception, which is not mentioned, is if one is the wife or child of an elder, in which case one can do all kinds of questionable things which nobody is allowed to question for fear of being put into one of the afore-mentioned shunning circumstances.
Marriage of Witnesses and the families thereof are largely required to devote their entire lives to the org, there are no youth groups, women’s groups, they all have to just go door to door, and other problems are largely ignored.
Bergman speaks of JW’s who are forbidden to go to college, however, he does not address JW’s who have taken classes, one at a time, until they have reached a point at which they can perform a profession and put other brothers to work, whether they are licensed or otherwise. Construction, plumbing, and electrical work are a high priced consumer service, and witnesses have become quite wealthy at them. Also they have businesses such as real estate, automotive, and multi level marketing, which are always quite successful.
Also not discussed are those witnesses in areas where unemployment is rampant and the only thing for a brother or sister to do to support their family is to get on financial aid and get paid to go to college until they reach a goal. Most of them leave due to unanswered questions once they find out a few things.
Bergman, toward the end of his book, discusses individuals whose problems are so unbearable that they become ripe fodder for a cult whose pictures are of perfect peace and love on a “paradise earth”. When what they portray is so differently focused, it is easy for these people to turn from reality to this picture. Not completely discussed were: reasons for leaving, dysfunctional relatives who are not JW’s, issues of hereditary personality problems, (although Bergman mentioned some of these). He could not have explained everything within the length of this book; he would have needed to write an encyclopedia.
I felt that from the perspective of a male who was raised in the org, he did a good and very thorough job.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

An Experience I will never forget.

It was 1994. I was still in college, taking full time classes, but the summer was beginning, in which I had to find work in order to survive, for there was no financial aid during those months. I thought I would have a better opportunity working for the School District in Corona, where I had worked in the 80's, before my horrific divorce. I was still a Jehovah's Witness, but they were letting me do whatever to survive.

I went down to Southern California and first attended the District Convention in Los Angeles, staying with a sister during that weekend. Then on Monday, I went to the School District to pick up a slip of paper which would allow me to work in a school. The first school I went to did not need anyone, so I went to another school, at which the secretary took my slip right away, and said they would call me when they needed me. I gave her my stepmother's phone number to call me, even though I did not know where I would be staying. The sister with whom I had stayed for the convention said that she couldn't have me stay with her for fear that her rent would be raised, and so she had suggested that I ask another sister who lived in Riverside. I went over there to ask her, and she began asking me questions about my work, and then she made some remarks about people we both knew who did not like me. These were people who had been involved with my divorce; they were in the Jehovah's Witness congregation that I and my ex had both been in. Then she made out a bill that she said she would be willing to charge me, but not until July. I left her house, and went to my friend in Corona, who had said she was sick, too sick to have me stay there, and I ended up staying in my car that night.

The following day, I went to my stepmother's house, and her granddaughter was there, treating her really awful, and I left there feeling very angry. I went that evening to the Jehovah's Witness meeting at the new Motel-Looking group of Kingdom Halls, and met a sister that I knew, who asked me where I was staying. I made the mistake of telling her the truth, that I was staying in my car because this other sister wasn't well. So she told me that I could stay in her apartment until this other sister felt better. The next day, I called my stepmother to ask if they had called me to go to work, and she told me that nobody had called. So I went to look for some kind of a job, since I needed to work, and this School District wasn't panning out. Then I went back to this womans apartment, and found out that she didn't want me to stay there anymore, since this other sister said that she didn't want me there, either. From there, I went to my stepmother's house, and asked her if I could stay for two weeks until I got paid. She said okay, but I had real reservations about it. Her youngest daughter, the aunt of the granddaughter, got really snippy with me, and the next morning, I left to go back home; I knew that I was not going to get any work, and I was facing the reality that I had no place to stay.

Four days after I returned home, my son called me to tell me that his grandfather had died, and four days after that, my car got towed away for a bill that I owed, and there was nothing I could do about it. My Jehovah's Witness friends could not and would not help me; they told me to ask my kids to give me the money. I could not do this, for I did not know if any of my kids even liked me enough to say boo to me.

I got a few of my Jehovah's Witness friends to take me to the meetings, although it was like pulling teeth, for I lived out in the country, and no one wanted to come out there to do anything for me. But I did have a neighbor friend who helped me. His name was Ralphie. We did everything together, and to keep the Jehovah's Witnesses happy, just in case they came around, I obtained a certificate from Mexico stating that we were married, so they couldn't say that I was fornicating. To this day, he does not know that I did that. We still keep in touch; he is 25 years older than I am, and he still lives there in his trailer, four spaces from where mine was.

That summer was memorable; at the end of it, the county or the state or whoever took my car, sent me 1200 dollars, with which I purchased another car to go back to school with. This is the first year I really questioned the Witnesses and their treatment of their people.

This is also the first time that I am verbalizing this experience, and I really think that I needed to do this, for all that will read it and for my own thinking.

Friday, January 07, 2005

I love to share

I want to tell you about myself. I am at the spot in my life where I have become strong enough to reach out to people and share places where I have been. Emotional places, places where I haven't been proud of, times when I would go out my door and not want anyone to see me, so I would hide behind my house. I have had times when I would wear a heavy coat in the summer because I did not want anyone to recognize me. I have been married three times; at the age of 19, I married a man who turned out to be a pedophile, and he kept me barefoot and pregnant for eight years while he cheated with my girlfriends, cousins and babysitters. I gave him three children. By the time I was 29, I was in the process of getting a divorce from him and he gained custody of our three children, after throwing me in jail, and generally driving me nuts. I recovered from this with the aid of alcohol, and found myself pregnant by a man who was married to someone else. So now, I was not only trying to get my kids back from the pedophile, I was having another one with someone else, who was trying to get back with his wife. Not fun. Then the man with whom I was expecting this fourth child started telling me about how God was going to produce this fabulous paradise in 1975. Well, I fell for that, too. Yes, I became a Jehovah's Witness, and this guy ended up with a divorce from his wife, and I married him. This was a first class mess, and I was the plaything in the midst of it.

Well, to make a long story short, in 1989, I began a journey of self-improvement. I ended my 14 year marriage to this Jehovah's Witness, I started going to college to make something out of myself, and I achieved the impossible.

I am now in the educational field, I teach English and study Theology, and minister to those who have come out of cults like I did.