Friday, July 4, 2008

What do I make of this?

So, I spoke with my mother yesterday. Pleasant enough conversation. She seems to be coming out of her shell and socializing a great deal with other members of her Jehovah's Witness congregation. I'm happy for her. This has been long in coming and it shows a level of maturation that is promising.

Once in a while my mother will tell me about some of those in the jw community, people that will no longer speak to me, but apparently miss me. She said, "There's one person who asks about you all the time. Do you want to know who it is?"

I said, "Sure. Tell me."

She told me who it was. A wonderful older West Indian woman who I became close to over my years in that congregation. I would spend time before every meeting holding her hand and talking about life. She was a solid, loving soul.

My mother continues, "Every few weeks, she comes up to me and says, 'How's my girl?'"

I'm smiling on the other end of the phone. For many reasons. I love this woman. She was an important part of my community at the time. And I smile because she doesn't give a damn about proper jw protocol which implies that she shouldn't even inquire about me, the evil heretic. And I smile because my mother feels compelled to tell me these things. I'm trying not to judge her motives but I do wonder why she shares this stuff with me.

And then, there's this, which makes my eyebrow of suspicion raise a little higher. To give you the backstory, three years ago when I was "fading" from the jw meetings (meaning attending more sporadically and attempting to fade into the woodwork and disappear from the elder's radar, which didn't work by the way), one of the congregation elders was "disfellowshipped" (excommunicated) and subsequently shunned. I didn't know the reason. I had hoped it was for apostasy, because then he'd never go back. Well, it must have been for something else because my mother informed me yesterday that this elder was "reinstated", meaning he jumped through the necessary hoops of "repentance" required in order to be welcomed back into the folds of the jw world.

Now, I have to ponder my mother's motives on this. To know my mother is to realize she's a woman who does things with a very deliberate intent. If she gave me this information, there's an underlying reason for it. And it's unlikely to be a guileless one.

So, here's the questions running through my tall penguin brain. Does my mother think that this will be me one day? Does she hold out hope that I will "come to my senses", return to the flock and mend my ways? Does she even have any clue as to why I left? Does she not realize that I've researched her cult, know its history, as well as the history of religion and the bible in general and no longer believe in its veracity? Why does she think I formally left the jw's? Does she think I just wanted to live a sinful life, that I no longer could conform to her god's requirements? Or does she think I was just "stumbled from the faith" (the catch-all phrase jw's use to explain away just about every occurrence of one leaving the's their way of saying that the person was so deeply offended by the actions of others that they couldn't get over themselves...basically, it's a judgment that you're an immature child that doesn't understand the nature of god and his master plan, because even the shit that happens in the cult happens for a divine reason). But I digress.

It's been almost three years since I submitted my formal letter to the jw organization cutting my formal ties with it. And it seems that my mother hasn't the foggiest idea why I left, nor an appreciation for the fact that I'm never going back. Sometimes I just want to shake her and tell her straight out what I know about her beloved cult and its history; and make it very clear to her that I left for reasons of principle and that I will never be returning. Then I think, why bother? She's not going to hear anything I say. She can only see life through the lens of her beliefs. And so, I breathe a little sigh, lick my wounds and move on. What else can I do?

tall penguin


jdbartlett said...

Oh boy, do I ever sympathize with that frustration! I actually went into some detailed discussion with my mom over specific points about JW doctrine that are simply wrong. After an exhausting conversation, she still insisted they were true, because otherwise the Bible would be wrong, and she knows it's right...

I suspect the situation with your mom is very similar. She "knows" you're wrong, it's just a matter of time and your humility before you realize it! No matter reasonable your arguments are, no matter how rational your decisions are, they always will be met by her assumption that you are wrong and she (and the Bible) is right. People cannot reason through a belief system that is inherently irrational; they must compromise either rationality or faith. Very few of us take the latter option.

matt said...

I read this and see my own mother, and the thoughts I bring to that table.

"Why does she think I formally left the jw's? Does she think I just wanted to live a sinful life, that I no longer could conform to her god's requirements?"

I enjoy this question immensely, because it shows exactly what they are told day in and day out of the JW life. We no longer have holy spirit, now it is just merely the world's spirit. How hard it must be for us to differentiate between the two with our blindness to reality. How shocked we should be of our shameful selves. :)
They will never be able to see reality for what it is. But it's all relative. We may never again see reality their way.

It's not that I consider my new found beliefs better -- just something I'm able to accept for myself. In the end, I hope I'm wrong. I hope God is the giant prick he proves himself to be. I really do. I think the world would make a lot more sense sometimes. :)