Friday, September 27, 2013

Religious Judgment and Comparison Generates Fear

One of my readers wrote a letter explaining a rather odd behavior in her family.

While her side of the family is not JW, her husband's side was raised in the religion, but hubby was never active. She is very comfortable and relaxed with the immediate side of her own family and they freely express and interact with one another lovingly. On the other hand, when her hubby's family members sporadically come around, she senses a very different feeling. She describes it as a stiffness, an artificiality, a feeling that she must watch herself. Why is that?

I have a theory. Her own family members don't judge one another. They love each other freely and unreservedly. On the other hand, hubby's family members are "psychically split" into the believers, the non-believers and even a shunned family member. The believers don't necessarily preach to the non-believers, yet there is a sense of being watched.

Watched for what? Watched for signs of "repentance"? Watched for a "softening" toward the JW message?


Thinking back to my bible-thumping days, I heard many a talk about "winning unbelievers without a word." So even though the reader's in-laws don't speak openly about an agenda, sensitive souls are able to discern an ulterior motive — it's that uncomfortable feeling of being watched which presents itself whenever the in-laws are around. The believers judge the non-believers, the doubters, and the apostate. The believers believe the unbelievers aren't "measuring up" in some biblical way. Of course, the unbelievers can sense the rift — the air of superiority over the unbelievers. The apostate, well, that's a whole other story. They are "already dead" in the believer's eyes. I know, I used to be a believer.

Actually, it goes even further than that. The believers are encouraged to compare and judge another believer! I heard a talk once in which the congregation was compared to a wheel. The wheel consisted of a hub, the spokes, and the rim. The hub was the Watchtower corporation's global head office, and the spokes were the measuring rod of religious activity. If a member was close to the hub, they were considered very active and busily engrossed in their reading of Watchtower publications, involved in door-to-door preaching activity, and attending/participating in five meetings per week — faithfully. Heaven forbid members would choose to live on the wheel rim. Why, those folks were at risk of being "lured away" from the safe confines of the religious order!

But the talk went even further by suggesting that members on the spokes "should" focus intently on moving ever-closer toward the hub. They were counseled to consider not even associating with another member further out on a spoke from them, because those ones may be "less spiritual" — so beware!

Such judgment and comparison generated much fear among members. The inner hub was encouraged to "report" on outer-hub members about any activity they considered "less spiritual." Fear was palpable, like in George Orwell's book 1984. It was truly a frightful existence. I am one who knows from experience.

Outsiders — people who never experienced that type of treatment could not comprehend how dreadful the spying might feel, as they likely have no such frame of reference. It may sound quite incredible to some.

I figure the reader who wrote about her experiences is sensitive to the fluctuations in feelings of unconditional love, caring, and inclusion versus the energy of fear, judgment, and comparison going on between her hubby's family members. It's not necessarily a conscious sensation, but it is very real, none-the-less.

"Reading your book helped me to put all of those sensations into words, so as to validate my feelings," she told me later, sighing deeply.

I believe her intuition is correct. She has every right to trust her feelings, since that's clearly her inner guidance at work. She is fortunate to come from a loving family because she knows how to identify the feelings of love. Furthermore, her sensitivity has enabled her to continue showing love and understanding toward the in-laws. She is in a unique situation of being able to love what some consider to be the "unlovable." What a wonderful privilege, because love is the only thing that is able offset judgment, comparison, and fear. "Perfect love throws fear outside," says a scripture.

Comments like hers make me glad I wrote the book, since it seems to be creating awareness around a little-discussed family dynamic. I found the ensuing dialogue very insightful! Thanks for the great feedback! Well done, dear reader!

Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comments about Phoenix of Faith

My books are almost gone and I must now reorder the next print run. I'm excited after recently receiving several comments from my readers. Such as:

"READ YOUR BEAUTIFUL about 5 days! It was great! Thanks for sharing your story with the world....I feel honoured to have played a small role in your life-adventure...and privileged to read about it all, now. You have a great writing style, Esther...would love to see you give Hollywood a go at it...have it put into a script for the silver screen! The lovely people at JW may have a word or two to say about that though, but the world need to know the TRUTH of what happens behind the scenes! I had no idea how criminally invasive and twisted their teachings suggest they are merely dangerous is much too polite! Its amazing the grip they hold on their members, and the terms brain-washed and indoctrinated both seem mild compared to what you really experienced. I could barely put it down at times. Makes me very thankful I was raised to think for myself, even as a teenager, and encouraged to explore various 'faiths' in search of what made 'sense' to me. The only 'advice' my dad proffered was to beware of any and all groups that harboured 'hidden agendas'. I left my copy for my daughter to an ordained minister in Science of Mind, I felt it valuable she KNOW the truth of the JW organization...and knowing you 'personally' means a lot. So glad you are now happily involved with 'Stan' and your life has become balanced and fun and healthy...I pray with you that your kids will one day, 'wake up' and realize their MOM is a brave, brilliant, and beautiful soul! I salute your courage to 'tell it as it is'...well done, Esther! Love and Hugs, Beverley" ~ Room mate when I first moved to B.C. (Love you, Beverley!)

Someone familiar with the theology of my background read my introduction and wrote, "I resonated with what you said about if you asked your family / husband, they wouldn't have thought they were being abusive.  So true, their thinking gets all turned and twisted, they don't know which way is up."

I laughed about that comment, since my other blogsite is called exactly that: Hey! Which Way is Up?, written at an earlier time during my healing journey. How fitting!

"Amongst other things, your book is a thriller! So many terrifying scenes, I was sitting on the edge of my seat!!" ~ an ex-member.

"I started reading your book and it made me cry," confessed a man I know.

It made a man cry?

"Why?" I was fishing for his insights.

"You show how really vulnerable children are," he paused and answered thoughtfully. Then he shook his head and continued, "Some parents really shouldn't be parents."

My parents didn't necessarily "choose" parenthood. They didn't know about birth control or parenting. They did what their parents did and their parents' before them. And they didn't always make healthy choices.

But knowledge is abundant in our modern age. Good books abound, if we are discerning. Good and not-so-good therapists abound, too. One must "shop" for a good one — someone with whom they resonate. Someone trained in their specific area of dysfunction.

So I told my friend, "I wrote the book from the perspective of my earliest recollections so that readers can get a sense of what its like growing up in a dysfunctional family where 'God says' — virtually everything, no matter how crazy it sounds!" I drew quotes with my fingers around "God says," punctuating my point about throwing religion into an already warped situation.

Thank you again readers for expressing your comments about the book. These really help a self-published author such as myself to gain recognition and credibility!

Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.