RE: Jehovah's Witnesses
(24-01-2013 11:08 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:
(24-01-2013 06:06 AM)Misanthropik Wrote: For the first 20 years of my life, I served faithfully as one of Jehovah's witnesses. It was not a choice I was given; it was simply something that was forced upon me from the time I was born. As a child, as far back as I can remember, I attended meetings at the Kingdom Hall 3 times a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday - though I've learned this schedual has changed in recent years). To this day, I can't be near someone who's chewing Mentos or a stick of green spearmint gum without flashing back to my old Kingdom Hall; with its white walls and horrid green carpet, listening to elders talk from the podium while chewing gum and snacking on Mentos with my grandmother.
I will say this, if you go too far over the deep-end you will find yourself cut off completely from your brother. I don't think you'd want that because then he loses out too. So tread lightly.
Every now and then, on a muggy Summer afternoon when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky and I happen to be out driving, I cannot help but flash back to hours spent sitting in a cramped car as I and other members of the congregation drove through various neighborhoods so that we could knock on door after door to ask the homeowners if they'd like to hear about Jehovah's promise of a coming earthly paradise. Many times, we were simply ignored. We would stand on the front step and hear someone creeping around inside, pretending not to be home. These would be marked down in our little handbooks as "H.B.H", meaning "Home, But Hiding". Other times, people would simply tell us to fuck off; or would send their dogs to relay that message for them. (I recall one older woman praising her doberman and goading him on as he barked and snarled at me - a young, well-meaning 13 year old boy)
Worse still (and a source for my worst memories) were the district conventions which were held in various parts of the region. Every year, Jehovah's Witnesses gather together to worship Jehovah en mass. If I recall correctly, this takes place twice a year (though it may be more, I can't remember); sometimes at an official convention center dedicated to Jehovah's Witnesses; other times (for much larger conventions) at a place such as a sports stadium. For me, both venues were approx. 3-4 hours away from home, and depending on the convention, can last anywhere from 1-3 days. This meant packing clothes and staying at a hotel for the duration of the convention. The conventions themselves consisted of what amounts to a typical meeting at the Kingdom hall, but stretched out over the course of 8 or 9 hours. That's an entire work-day's worth of time that a child has to sit and be indoctrinated with tales of pseudo-morality and servitude.
All of these things are unecessary wastes of time for the average, reasonable-thinking adult. But for a young child - especially one who suffered greatly from anxiety and depression - such things were sources of great mental and emotional distress. I should stress once more than I was never given the choice of attending a meeting or a convention. Venturing out to worship Jehovah was not an option; it was an obligation. An obligation enforced by my mother, who was charged by Jehovah god himself to ensure that I was raised in the way of God. It didn't matter if a night of exceptional anxiety or depression also happened to fall on the night of a meeting; I was simply told to pray (as though the prayer were a band-aid to slap on a wound) and get dressed. Once there, and depending on the night, I would be forced to sit through multiple hours of biblical torment involving tales of demonic possession and divine judgment. I maintain that the Witnesses are some of the nicest people I've ever met, and truly hold only good intentions toward others (or at least, this has been my experience). But their doctrine is on par with any other Christian-based doctrine being taught. There is no talk of Hellfire - the Witnesses do not believe in a concept of Hell - but there is a surplus of talk about "the last days"; giving us a constant sense of impending doom that will come "like a thief in the night". In fact that is what their "Awake!" magazines are meant to suggest: a thief (armageddon) is coming at an unknown hour of the night, so we, as spiritually-sound homeowners, must remain awake! so that we are not spiritually asleep upon his arrival. In addition, there is much talk about a literal embodiment of evil called Satan, who stalks the world in search of people to turn away from Jehovah's path. Following suit are his demons, who, I was told as a child, lurk just behind the walls of what we can perceive; waiting to pounce upon us at the first sign of spiritual weakness. This meant no watching of anything spiritistic or "satanic" in nature - like certain films or music - because doing so will "show the demons that you're interested and prompt them to think, 'Let's show him what we can really do'".
Conventions were even worse for me, because they were all the horrors of a particularly fear-mongering meeting at the Hall; stretched out over the course of 8 hours and placed in a strange city surrounded by strange people - for days on end. In my unique case (suffering from anxiety), these conventions were what amounts to psychological torture - all at the behest of my ever-faithful, spiritually steadfast mother. My mother had been raised in "the truth" (a colloquial title the Witnesses have humbly imposed upon themselves) all of her young life, but rebelled against it around the time she turned 18. She never lost faith, however, because after "knowingly going against Jehovah's word" for a few years, she eventually became pregnant with me and made a strong comeback to the organization. I suppose the prospect of raising a child in this "wicked system of things" scared her enough to decide that Jehovah was the true way, and to return so that her child might be raised in the truth. For these reasons, she never wavered in her mission to pound the spike of indoctrination as deeply as possible into my malleable young skull.
Fortunately for me, baptism was the only prospect of the whole deal about which I was ever actually given a choice. The encouragement was constant and strong, but the ultimate choice was mine and mine alone. It was soon that I began to pursue the prospect of dedicating my very existence to Jehovah through water submersion. I had matured to the point that indoctrination was no longer a necessity, because it had been effective and I was now making spiritual choices on my own. However, I was still a young boy of about 16, and planned to work on my own transgressions (particularly masturbation and pornography) before dedicating my life to Jehovah. I didn't want to sell Him a tainted product, after all. As it transpired, my personal battle with the aforementioned vices took longer than I expected, and I wound up losing faith in the organization altogether before I chose to be baptised.
The reason I tell this story is because this morning, I was greeted by an inbox message (on another site) from a Jehovah's witness to whom I spoke last night; condescending to me about Jehovah's word and how I apparently don't know anything about their teachings. I don't know if it was because I had just woken up, or if it was the words she used, but something about her message struck a nerve deep inside of me and sent me into a rage. A rage fueled by the fear I felt all my life as a Witness child. It was as though Jehovah's organization itself were channeling through her message, directly at me. I felt a sense of powerlessness. Her words were nothing more than an inbox message to which I could choose to reply or not, but they somehow dealt me a blow and knocked me to the ground. In the years since leaving the organization, I've taken steps to pursue what makes me feel happy and empowered. A simple psychological backlash; my tastes and desires changed in accordance with my conservative upbringing. Everything that I once feared and hated, I came to embrace. My taste in music took on a thirst for all that is dark and malicious. My choice of beverage went from water to beer. My dedication to Jehovah turned to dedication to myself through physical fitness and an interest in modification of the flesh through tattoos and (more recently) piercings. My opposition (and even fear) of sexual activity turned into a consistent and debaucherous pursuit of women, culminating in the "underground" sex club I've constructed amongst my friends and aquaintences. These things were not done out of a sense of rebellion - though one could be forgiven for making that assumption - but rather out of a natural psychological reaction to a life of powerlessness and submission. Such unwilling submission changed who I was as a person, and turned me into the "monster" I used to oppose so vehemently. And this identity which I've assumed for the past several years is one that I cherish. It is me, and I am finally content in my own skin.
So when I received the aforementioned message from this woman, I felt somehow that all of who I am was being attacked. Like she reached in and yanked at the armor which clings to my chest. Again, I don't know the exact reason for this. But my best hypothesis thus far pertains to the fact that it was a Jehovah's witness who was attacking me. I am quite used to debating with mainstream christians. In fact I sometimes wake up in the morning and can't wait to jump on the computer to see how many christians have responded to my arguments. I do love a good theological debate. But of all the thousands of times that I've debated with followers of various religions, not once have I debated with a member of my former faith. That is because very few Witnesses endeavor to debate with non-believers; especially one who was once a fellow Witness. I am what the Witnesses would call an apostate, and to them, that is tantamount to being Satan himself. Apostates are to be shunned and avoided at all costs. The Witnesses are very crafty in that when they encounter non-believers, they preserve their position by simply shutting down. Refusing to debate.
But this woman did not do that. She pursued an argument, and I suppose it caught me off guard. It was not the argument she made, because it consisted of the same "the Bible is true, God is the way", demonstrably false bullshit that every other christian spews on a daily basis. But it was merely the fact that she made an argument at all that made me feel as though the life I've built for myself had been completely undermined.I was once again being preached at as though from the podium in the neighborhood Kingom Hall; the smell of spearmint gum filling my nostrils and the fear of Satan's demons and Jehovah's impending day of wrath filling my heart. I now feel this overwhelming hatred for the organization and those who adhere to it. I realize that hateful atheists are something of a black smudge on the face of Atheism because everyone wants to show the religious that atheists can be loving and humble. They want to distance themselves from the perceived "misanthropic, vitriolic, Satan-worshipping atheist" persona. Understandably so. But in my case (and cases like mine), I'm sorry, but I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of resentment toward all that is religious. JW doctrine dominated my childhood the way a sexually abusive step-father dominates his victim(s), and like a case of religious Stockholm Syndrome, I was content in my servitude. After all, I knew nothing else.
But now, after having broken the chains of religion so many years ago and stepping into the light of reason, I find myself growing ever-more antitheistic. I am glad that I experienced what I did because not only does it make me appreciate reason and logic all the more; but also because I now know the mind of a theist. This makes me effective in debate. But while I'm glad I had the experience, at the same time, I'm furious at the organizations and individual who forced that experience upon me. It made me a better person, but it shouldn't have been inflicted upon me in the first place. But it was, and I despise the disgusting organization and the deluded, fuck-nutty mindset which adhered to it. These increased feelings of resentment have been apparent in my various artistic pursuits, but I need to state it here; in the open and without metaphor or through the mouth of an imaginary 3rd party. Religious belief disgusts and infuriates me, and as long as there are children (such as my young adopted brother) who are being force-fed the eager dick of faith while they choke and gasp upon its emissions, I will seek to eradicate it when and where I am able. They should not be permitted to suffer the same intellectual defilement as me.
"Behold; the monster you created" - Wraith
I do keep my personal sentiments in check, but deep inside....the hate just builds, you know? Luckily, I've got a few ways to channel it into something productive. Mostly music and writing where I can growl and scream my anger into the mic, or create a character who can express his resentment freely and openly in his imaginary world. It's true what Otep says: "Art saves". It's given me a way to vent without any collateral damage.
Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!