VEGAN VLOG 17: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Vegan Thanksgiving, and Vaccuum-Related Shyness

It’s a freezing cold day in Chicago, and I’m heading out in search of groceries and T-shirts. Also, let’s talk some more about religion, because I see fire and immediately put my hand into it, apparently.

3 thoughts on “VEGAN VLOG 17: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Vegan Thanksgiving, and Vaccuum-Related Shyness

  1. Eric says:

    Hope you had a happy thanksgiving. I haven’t been keeping close tabs on WordPress but I am trying harder. I also have wrestled with errant Canon copiers with overpriced ink jet cartridges. And my finances kept me at home this holiday as well. Fortunately, my neighbors saved me from a lone casserole in my freezer. I am not a vegan but my daughter is——does that make me part Vegan? Just kidding.

    But it was your discussion about Jehovah’s Witnesses that pushed me to comment. First, I caution you not to take a whole people on the word of a docudrama. We can seldom go to the heart of things in an hour or two. I lived within their community for some 20 years. As in society at large, most I believe are good hearted persons searching for an anchor in a sea of chaos. There are some who are mentally ill, searching for something to quiet the voices in their heads. Some are wolves in sheep’s covering (although if you asked one who knew me they may say that I was a wolf in sheep’s covering).

    I am still trying to grapple with my experience to be honest with you. To shift through the shame and come up with an easy explanation of it all in an impartial manner. It has been five years since my expulsion.

    Although I did make mistakes and have owned up to these, an overwhelming sense of injustice stops me from having anything to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses again. Ever.

    Yet I must say that there is no ‘brain washing’ involved. The adherent is a willing one. He or she makes over their own brain. Once in their community they have a lot of love surrounding them. A sense of belonging and of having a higher purpose in life that transcends the relative chaos and loneliness of society around them. There is a lot of fulfillment in life and they actually care about the people they touch in greater society. It also takes a great deal of courage to go to people who probably don’t want them to and speak to them of their faith. Unpaid volunteers, all of them. With all of the greed and selfishness in the world, this selflessness is an attainment in and of itself.

    Yet when you become a part of this community at baptism, the self becomes swallowed up in the whole as well. And their vehicles of compliance to the rules of order are mind bending and in some cases (as in my own to an extent) destroying. They make little allowance for mental illness in their judgments. In fact, in my case they shamed me to the point of deep depression where most of my life’s accrued savings was given over willingly to a fellow adherent, my ex-wife of six short years and no children.

    When a person is “disfellowshipped”, or shunned by the community, he or she no longer has friends or family to support them. To a person suffering from clinical depression, this can be in some cases life-threatening and in all cases life-altering. Hence, an injustice that haunts me through today. Yet one of Jehovah’s Witnesses would say “you reap what you sow”, whether fair or not.

    This is very hard for me to share. They actually say that if anyone who was once part of their community openly disagrees with some aspect of their community, he or she is an apostate, or an enemy of God. A “Benedict Arnold” if you will, or traitor. But I need to share this.

    As with any order of hierarchy which men are involved with, there is injustice and corruption to a degree. But as for the individual people, there are very extraordinary ones, and they are the majority. I still love them despite the injustice I feel. And I still remember the fond times with fondness. The giving spirit. The visiting of the elderly in rest homes. The holding of hands with those on deathbeds. Reading them comforting scriptures and heartfelt prayers. The coming together to raise a house of worship. The life of the community.

    It is a paradox, but are not all men and manmade things paradoxes? So don’t be too harsh on them. They are, after all, just people. ——Eric

    Liked by 1 person

    • T.J. Baer says:

      Eric,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I try my best not to unfairly judge anyone, and I definitely know firsthand the comfort and enrichment to be found in a close-knit religious group, as well as the potential for trauma and rejection. It’s certainly not only Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists who have such strict ideas about how to live – there are plenty of Christians who have disowned family members for being gay, marrying interracially, or any number of other ridiculous “sins.” I guess what surprised me most in this was that I’d always had a very benign image of Jehovah’s Witnesses and had no idea that their dogma was so dramatic, or their rules so strict. So much good can come from religion, but it needs to be used correctly. And, of course, it’s possible for a group to simultaneously do good and ill, and really, that’s probably the case with most religious groups out there.

      In any case, I think it’s best to love the people and hate the ideology that leads them to cause harm. It’s just unfortunate that often the same dogma that leads people to seek to do good also leads them to do untold damage to the people around them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eric says:

        I think that the history of religion in general has been one of courage, resilience, heartbreak and hypocrisy. Love and prejudice. Principle and unbending laws. Paradoxes. Our search for perfection in imperfect mankind. Perhaps doomed to failure, yet at times showing the better angels of our nature as well. Lessons learned are seldom black and white. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

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