Madhuri’s review of Brock Talon’s memoir subtitled: Leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower after Thirty-Five years of Lost Dreams.
Escape from Paradise
Leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower after Thirty-Five years of Lost Dreams
by Brock Talon
Self-published, 2015, 271 pages
Except for the all-important charismatic guru ingredient – the guru in this case being a long-deceased Jew in the Middle-East who may or may not have existed anyway, and is not around to either bless or manipulate people in person – the Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to effectively mess up their congregants in ways similar to Sri Chinmoy’s fiefdom, and many another religion. Sexual repression – shunning for independent behavior – exploitation of unpaid disciple-workers – cynical leadership. The Jehovah’s Witnesses instead have teams of Elders with bad breath (according to the author) – instead of a beamy potentate.
I learned the tragic fact that all those people with Watchtower magazines who go knocking on doors boring you and trying to rope you in, are not doing it by choice. They have to – or they start falling down a treacherous set of ‘spiritual’ steps that will quickly get them to Shunning, where all their friends and family and support system and everybody, pretends they’re not alive anymore. Some kill themselves. People who work long hours devotedly for free at the headquarters in Bethel, New York City, tend to kill themselves too.
It all adds up to a really depressing, tragic waste human potential. It’s almost like people tell themselves, “Why be happy and dance and hug a lot, if you can be miserable and repressed and full of fear and stress?” It is inexplicable to me how the JW’s promote their cult (which has an enormous membership by the way, worldwide) by claiming that it is Paradise on Earth. The paradise is supposed to come from the community sheltering each other and pulling together; but in fact it seems the community is also constantly inspecting you for signs of impurity so that they can report you to the all-powerful Elders, who might then ‘disfellowship’ you. There was just nothing paradisical in what I read – no palm trees, no hula, no love – just hard work and struggle and cold-eyed judgement – and child-abuse as a normal thing – whether physical punishment or verbal – and no doubt sexual too, because in that climate, why not? The church has a reputation for sheltering pedophiles.
The author finally extricated himself and became very successful in his field – he credits all that youthful training in harnessing converts to his adult gifts in sales and public speaking. The JW’s don’t celebrate any holidays except one they call Christ’s Death Day, so when the author married a vivacious non-JW woman he embarked on a joyous mission to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, Columbus Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and every other holiday they could find; with feasts and parties and decorations, and not cutting any holiday short! In fact, you get the picture of a wealthy man spending his energy and money putting up tons of Christmas decorations in November and kissing his adored wife after every bauble hung!
The book is quaintly and enthusiastically written, both bitter and funny.