Let me tell you the definition of a word, and then you guess what the word is, okay? Here goes:
Keep that definition in mind while you consider the May 15, 2015, study edition of the Watchtower of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the very front, before anything else in the magazine, is the life story of one of their governing body members (the group that has ultimate authority over the religion), Anthony Morris. For six pages Morris talks about his stint in the Vietnam war, about how he came to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and about his life.
Six pages. Lest you think that’s insignificant, note that the three articles following it, the ones JWs would use to study the bible at their Sunday meeting, are only five pages each. That’s right, a mere mortal deserves a six-page spread that is not only longer than articles used to study the bible, but which is placed in front of those articles as well.
Oh, the Arrogance … and Creepiness
As is typical with stories of those featured in the magazines, Morris talks about how zealous he was when it came to preaching:
“Before leaving the Delray Beach Congregation in Florida, I filled the trunk of my car with literature, and then I headed north on Interstate 75. The trunk was empty before I left the adjoining state of Georgia. I zealously preached the good news of the Kingdom in all sorts of places. I stopped at prisons and even placed tracts with men in the restrooms of the rest areas.“
Preaching in prisons is not zealous; it’s called having a captive audience. Literally, they are captives. Those men have nowhere else to go, and are probably happy to just have someone to talk to and some fresh reading material. Congratulating yourself on leaving religious literature with men in prison is like congratulating yourself on posting something in a Facebook group. It doesn’t mean anyone is really interested in what you have to say or that you made an effective argument; it just means you put something out there and walked away.
Giving literature to men at rest areas is also a bit dubious and just downright creepy. Men are visiting those restrooms to… well, we all know what goes on at rest stop bathrooms, and it’s not an atmosphere that I would think would be conducive to a real conversation.
While preaching to prisoners and truckers using the bathroom is one issue, note that Morris brags about all the literature he left with people without mentioning any follow-up with them, or anyone he ever spoke with actually taking a real interest in Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why is he even talking about all his preaching work if the only thing he did was leave literature with people? You could drive down the highway in a convertible on a windy day and let literature fly out the car to get the same results.
Who Cares About How the Family Feels or Even Needs?
Interesting though that Morris does mention his two sons, and has the audacity to say, “Because they made the truth their own, they make Susan and me look good.” Well, that is the most important part of a child’s religious indoctrination, how the parents look, right? This is a good summation of just about every JW parent I’ve ever known; they could not possibly care any less about their children as people, and what they need or how they really feel or even if those children are good and decent human beings, but are only concerned about their appearance in the congregation.
Perhaps what is most disturbing is Morris talking about his wife and how they began working at the Watchtower headquarters in 2002;
“I worked in the Service Department, and Susan in the laundry. She loved working there! Then, in August 2005, I was given the privilege of serving as a member of the Governing Body. I felt humbled by the assignment. My dear wife was overwhelmed by the thought of the responsibility, the work, and the travel involved. Susan has never been comfortable with flying, but we do a lot of flying! Susan says that comments from other wives of Governing Body members, given in a loving way, have helped her to be determined to support me as much as possible…“
Well, there you have it. His wife was overwhelmed and afraid but that doesn’t make a bit of difference; she just needs to suck it up and follow her husband around wherever he decides to go and for whatever reason. He had the prestige of working in the Service Department, which oversees the activity of elders in their congregations worldwide, while she did laundry all day. All day. He sat in a comfortable office, making decisions and exercising authority over others, while she washed underwear and ironed shirts for strangers. Where was her say in how they would spend their life as a couple or what she would do all day?
Susan doesn’t even have a say in this article; Morris makes the above statement for her, as she’s not allowed to state her own mind and her own feelings. This too is typical of every JW marriage I ever knew and of how Jehovah’s Witnesses treated women when I was an active member; if they say you’re happy, then you’re happy. If they say you should endure a physically abusive marriage, then you’ll endure. If they say headship is loving, then you agree that it’s loving. Period. Is it any wonder that JW husbands and elders have this attitude when their own governing body member sets the example of just dismissing his wife’s feelings and needs in exchange for his own ambitions?
No Love for Neighbor
Morris brags about his love for Jehovah and his love for his family, but oddly enough says nothing about his love for his fellowman, a basic tenet taught in the bible. As a matter of fact, his rantings about the conspiracy of the “many homosexuals” in the fashion industry who love to see men in tight pants earned him a spot on The Advocate’s list of worst LGBT haters for 2014; see this news story.
Morris is also known for a very disturbing discourse he gave as part of the 2009/2010 Special Assembly Day of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where he talked in graphic terms about men’s bodies being “mangled” in war and the smell of human flesh burning. He compared them to hot dogs on the grill, blackened and “splitting open.” He then noted that this is exactly what will happen to people at Armageddon (which Jehovah’s Witnesses believe is when anyone who is not a JW will die), and says it will be “numbing” for those in the audience to see so much death.
Note, he made these graphic yet somehow unaffected comments of the death of billions of people and how it will be “numbing” for people to see, in front of teenagers and even children. Not only does he show a gross lack of concern for the comfort of his audience, but he doesn’t seem to be affected in the least by the thought of billions of “human hot dogs” splitting open in front of them.
But the Rest of You People Avoid Pride!
What is also shameful about this article is that two articles later in the same magazine, congregation members are counseled to avoid pride, which they define as “inordinate self-esteem” or “a haughty attitude shown by people who believe, often unjustifiably, that they are better than others.” Granted, I’ve never met Anthony Morris in person, but thinking that your life story should be longer and in front of the bible’s message just drips pride to me, especially when that life story is so bland and dull. Morris seems to have accomplished nothing but distribute literature, indoctrinate his children, and show his wife that women have no voice in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was not a prisoner of war, was never raped or molested as a child, was not the subject of domestic violence, and didn’t preach in a dangerous war zone. Yet, he feels as if his life story is one for all to see and to read before the bible’s message, while counseling the rest of those in the religion to avoid feeling that they are “better than others.”
As for that definition above; the word is “idolatry.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses define idolatry as, “The veneration, love, worship, or adoration of … a real or supposed higher power, whether such power is believed to have animate existence (as a human, an animal, or an organization)…” Not only is Tony Morris and his life story a good fit for the definition of pride, but those who so blindly follow everything he and the rest of the governing body say and do are living the definition of idolatry.
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