We all know that the vast majority of JW faithful find certain aspects of their service to be completely unbearable, whether they would admit it or not. Because of this, certain coping mechanisms have developed over the years and have really become unwritten social norms for many. It is how they reconcile their guilt with their own distaste for what is asked of them. What I find fascinating is that the GB in recent years has done everything in its power to stamp out those coping mechanisms so non uber-zealous among JWs are either forced to become inactive or apply a veneer of activity.
This might not may much sense until I give some examples:
- -AM Service Anyone who is in desperate need of some “easy hours” understands that midweek service during the mornings is the best. Most people aren’t at home and those that are are typically older and friendly. In many congregations you can get a few hours of time in without actually having to talk to anyone. In recent publications and talks, unproductive AM service has been warned against. Why not go in the late afternoon and early evening when more people will be at home? Or Sundays, before or after the meeting? Because the truly devout care more about reaching people than about getting time. Shame on you for just putting in hours even though we require you to do it and judge your “spiritual state based on it”
- -Service Breaks Breaks are, undeniably for most witnesses the best part of service and one of the only ways parents have to get children to enjoy their morning. Nearly every parent, even the most by-the-book, have for decades gotten their children excited for the ministry by promising donuts, pastries, and snacks at the end of it. This was never seen as a bad thing until recently. Recent publications have pointed out that extended breaks are unnecessary and should be avoided. Why not just pack a snack and eat it in the car between RVs? And you parents that have been using breaks to get your children excited for service? Shame on you! They should be excited for the ministry.
- -Songs at the meetings Songs in the middle of the meetings had been widely viewed as “breaks” for most publishers. A time to get up, walk around in the back, mindlessly read the information board, and get a drink of water. They made the meetings more tolerable. Not anymore. At the recent RC, an entire talk was devoted to the importance of singing at the meeting, the brother even claiming that the songs were as important as prayer and that not singing would be tantamount to walking around during the prayer. So if you think you can take non bathroom break at any meetings without being judged, think again.
The Conscious Loophole
This is a bit deeper of a topic and maybe one that I will get more into in a later post. But essentially, for years talks and publications have gone out of their way to boast that you will never hear of specific music, movies, or video games that are banned. Just bible principles that will help guide you. Many witnesses used this to listen or watch whatever they wanted. As long as others were not aware, so as not to stumble, you could argue that your conscious was not as strict as others. I fully believe now that the GB regret those earlier comments. They make it very clear, using masked language, what they find unacceptable. Recent WT illustrations make it abundantly clear that Halo and Modern Warfare are unacceptable. Those pictures are so close to the actual thing, WT could have a copyright issue. This has lead to local elders, understandably, to forcefully challenge any who chooses any “questionable” entertainment. Even though we have consciouses to use, we can be told that ours is incorrect and needs readjustment.