Welcome to our new semi-regular segment in which I tear Jehovah's Witness propaganda to shreds. I am in regular receipt of both The Watchtower and Awake!, which, apparently, must have an exclamation mark (!). My husband, lovely though he is, may also be a tad soft in the head as, some time ago, he made the beginners mistake of telling the JWs his name. They now regularly pop up on our doorstep of a Sunday morning, asking for Mr Doe by name and foisting bin fodder upon me. I could simply refuse it, but I am not at my best on a Sunday morning and really can't be arsed starting an argument when I have a crossword and coffee waiting for me.
Solution? Laugh at it on the interwebs*.
And so to begin. I have before me the July 2011 edition of The Watchtower, which I am assured is 'semimonthly'. I am not entirely sure what this means. The cover depicts a series of males of increasing age which I assume are intended to be the same man as getting older. He appears to have lived every stereotype of his generation. This 'semimonth's' edition is entitled "Give Your Life Real Meaning. HOW?" How, indeed. My first answer to this question would not be to join the JWs but, hey, to each their own.
As promised, the main feature of this issue is a series of articles about the 'meaning of life'. After an overly long introduction filled with cliched platitudes and quasi-philosophical observations such as- "humans, who are gifted with such great potential, live such short lives"- we get into the first article:
Why Does Life Seem Meaningless?
To this, my first instinct would be to shoot back with a childish retort of "Your life might be meaningless, but mine is totally rocking it!" This, of course, would be wrong. Fun, but wrong.
The first question asked by this article is "What Is God's Purpose for the Earth?". Its answers is this:
Jehovah God made the earth to be a perfect paradise for mankind.
Really? It sure doesn't seem like the positioning of that tree was too perfect. But maybe I'm being too harsh, after all, many evangelicals tell us that the tree was there to test us. In fact a good chunk of Christian doctrine is built around this idea of Earth as being a 'test' for heaven. If that is the case it is certainly the longest and dreariest test I have ever done and I want to withdraw from this course, please.
Ah, but I am wrong for this is:
the commonly accepted but Scripturally baseless idea that God made the earth to be of testing ground for humans, to see if they deserved to live in a spirit world.
I snorted a little when I read this, for whilst I agree that the whole test idea is slightly deranged, I'm not entirely sure that my planet is quite the Utopia a higher power might have had in mind. However, based on the rest of this section, I could imagine Jehovah doing this.
God made man and woman in His image, giving them the capacity to reflect His wonderful qualities. (Genesis 1:26, 27) He made them perfect. They had everything the needed to enjoy a productive, meaningful life forever.
God must be pretty crap then. If we are created in his image, then why did we disobey him? Weren't we just like him? I'm dizzy from running around in so many circles. Apparently, this also included:
filling the earth and subduing it...
How can we have everything we need if we must first beat the earth into submission?
In what I think is an attempt to fill the gaping logic holes left by the previous sections, the article now moves onto asking "What Went Wrong?". I would again answer with a snide remark along the lines of 'pretty much everything'. The JWs, do admit this:
The earth is certainly no paradise. What happened?
Fair call, they acknowledge the problem. That is the first step to getting help. But then...
Our original parents, Adam and Eve, abused their free will. They wanted to "be like God,"...
Now I am really confused. If we were created in God's image, how can we want to be 'be like God'? Aren't we already like him? And if we are and we still do dickish things, doesn't that just mean that God is a bit of a dick, too?
Why Not Stamp Out Evil Immediately?
Some wonder 'Why did God not stamp out evil immediately by simply destroying Satan and the other rebels and starting over again?' Would that really have been wise?
I would first like to congratulate them on their use of rhetorical questions. A nice touch to create the impression that your ideas are simply common sense. That is also a nice little strawman they have built for themselves there. Of course the only solution is to KILL THEM ALL!!!
How would you react if you heard of a powerful government that immediately executed anyone who challenged its authority?
Pretty poorly, I'd imagine, but hey, this course of action seemed alright for God during that little 'flooding the entire world' incident.
The other question I would ask of this sections is- why is death the only possible solution? Is God not capable of destroying evil without simply resorting to wholesale slaughter? Of course, if we are created in his image, then he is as impotent as us and so killing the perpetrator is the only real means of banishing evil. If God is impotent, and we really are created in his image, then I should have absolutely no trouble in creating a new worlds. Which I don't. This makes me eternally sad.
Don't worry about all the violence, suffering and famine, though, apparently, God is just biding his time, waiting for some mysterious chain of events to run its course before he makes things all better again.
...he can completely undo its grievous consequences once the vital issues raised by rebellion against his way of ruling have been settled.
It seems that God holds a seat on the UN Security Council.
With the rightness of his way of ruling absolutely established, he will be justified in using his irresistible power to enforce his will and utterly destroy all evil.
Doesn't this just mean that God is throwing a big tanty? Until we all do exactly as we ask, he'll just keep on flailing about ont he floor screaming, thank-you very much.
Sheesh. Talk about spoilt.
* Please be aware that I will only be using excerpts in the name of fair dealing for the purposes of review. I do not wish to open myself up to being sued and having to listen to a JW defence team in court.