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Could We Tell Our Stories?


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What about the idea where everyone here could share their story of what fundamental faith background they claim from and how they came to indentify with TCPC? And if TCPC could add a section to their site where these stories could be placed..and maybe put them in the TCPC newsletter? This would show the diverse backgrounds of TCPC people. Whay do you think? Maybe it could be optional that individuals submitting their stories could also leave the website URLs or e-mail address.

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I think it's a good idea, fwiw. There are sites where fundamentalists show "conversion" stories, but there are certainly "conversions" the other way. I have seen such sites, but it would be nice to have it here.

 

--des

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I don't know. I would think the technical section where they say if you have a suggestion, etc. The thing is that a couple of us asked about a cross religions forum a while ago and haven't gotten any response back.

 

--des

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I don't know. I would think the technical section where they say if you have a suggestion, etc. The thing is that a couple of us asked about a cross religions forum a while ago and haven't gotten any response back.

 

--des

 

Hi!

 

I am the board moderator - feel free to email or PM me anytime. I usually respond right away. I am really sorry that I missed your post about the cross religions forum... I will go back and find it. I welcome suggestions on how to organize the forums now that things are rolling. And I would love any help, even occasional help, in moderating the forums. Obviously, it is getting harder for me to be reading every post within a day or two...

 

At any rate, I LOVE your idea about incorporating stories or posts from the boards on the TCPC website. I am just starting to do a redesign of the entire TCPC website, so that is a real possibility. For now, we could feature a few storied in the newsletter. Maybe you could start a few threads for this - or give me ideas for topics and I could start them.

 

Please keep ideas like this coming. It is nice to see the boards getting more and more active!

 

Best,

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This is my bio story...feel free to edit it down anyway you like...

 

BeachOfEden's story

 

The earliest memories I have of JW teachings are being four years old and loving to hear my mom read The Great Teacher book to me. I loved hearing about the stories of Jesus and his kindness towards people and I loved hearing about the hope of our earth being restored back to its original Eden-like glory forever. I remember that up until about age ten we had this unusually kind, fun and unorthodox elder, brother Homes. Brother Homes was very unorthodox because it was like the early/mid 70's and he'd always pick up hippies hitch-hiking beside the freeway. He would share his beliefs with them about the Bible, but also he'd make friends with them first and invite them to dinner and to stay in his home if they had no home. Brother Homes made the meetings creative and interesting by showing us slide shows of the trips he takes to far away lands like Africa. And also he'd devote 20 minute segments to every single meeting toward children and then young adults by having all the kids 10 and under join him on stage and share with the congregation their own thoughts on different Bible stories. And then they'd all sing songs and he'd sometimes have the musically talented young adults come up on stage and play guitars. These were very rare and enjoyable times.

<P>

These creative days would soon come to an end. In 1975 individuals in the JW organization began voicing their predictions of the end of this present system of things. This date setting situation of the year 1975 would so embarrass the leaders of JW's that this led the Watchtower Society to lay out new restrictions to try and curve individual expressed opinions. By 1980 some drastic changes had occurred and these changes would NOT be for the better. Brother Homes' creative and non-dogmatic unorthodox ways won the hearts of children, young adults and moms alike, much to the annoyance of the old-school, extreamist elders and when the leaders of the Watchtower Society requested that strict measures be taken to curve these individual expressions of creativity, the extreamist elders were only ever so eager to comply by using this as a excuse to justify the demand for brother Homes to stop with all these creative methods in the congregation. This meant so long to slide shows, children's parts, young adult parts and our annual beloved summer kids' parties and "hello" to boring talks and repetitive Armageddon warning talks as a means to keep the congregation in line and to scare them into maintaining meeting attendance. Meetings themes were based on shame, "tisk-tisking," and scare tactics such as asking from the pulpit, "Are you making the wisest use of your free time?" "Do you spend your summer vacations selfishly on pleasures such as camping, or will you choose wisely to devote your time to spreading the kingdom message?" "Don't you want to be in paradise?" And, "You know, you never know when Armageddon might come and what if you get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time? When Armageddon comes, where will you be found? In the safe protection of Jehovah's house and doing his will or out at some dance club? Remember, time is short!"

<P>

Thus, I grew tired of this constant threatening and shaming ones into serving the congregation as a means of verifying one's love for Jehovah, rather than inspiring talks reminding everyone about Jehovah's grace and love for humanity and the joyful hope of the restored earth. By age 12 I really dreaded having to attend meetings, like I was being dragged off to the doctors three times a week to get a shot or having to endure a math test. Yet, when I was 17 a very unusual thing happened. I went to the annual Lord's Evening Meal memorial and the speaker there actually gave a inspiring and non-Ben Stein-sound-a-like talk. The talk was not about the threat of Armageddon but rather on how much Jehovah God loved humanity that he sent his only begotten Son and how Jesus so loved humanity that he willingly volunteered.

<P>

That talked reached me in a way that I had never before been reached. Little did I know that it would be the only talk that I'd hear like that at a JW meeting again. I did not walk up afterwards and ask to become a pioneer or to announce to move to "where the need was greater", even ask to join the Ministry School. I did, however, decide to seek out somebody to ask to study with me. I decided that if I sought out someone to study with me that the person should be fairly young and fairly new in the truth, figuring that by so choosing I'd avoid the chances of getting an old school narrow-minded extreamist. I chose this kind faced, 30-something blond-haired women that we shall call Lisa. Lisa seemed very unsure of her qualifications of being good enough to instruct me. I felt this was a good sign for it showed that she would not be haughty or holier-than-thou. Despite her fear, she finally agreed to study the Bible with me. Lisa shared my interests of being in nature and love of horticulture. I also came to learn that Lisa had lived in her teens as a hippie in a commune. We would study the Bible for a half an hour out in her backyard garden. Then we'd make some tea and talk about our interests in gardening. It seemed my choice was perfect. A very emotional and zealous women that we shall call Judy took notice of Lisa. She concluded that Lisa needed some of what she called, "spiritual encouragement". This spiritual encouragement meant informing Lisa that she felt that she needed "do more spiritually".

<P>

I was informed that I should only make friends with people in the congregation. Problem: There were NO people in the congregation my age. I expressed my desire and need to meet some people my age, and to this, Judy and Lisa told me that my desire for friends was not as important as spreading the kingdom message. So for 4 years I remained alone with no friends my age. My so-called social life consisted of going over to Lisa's house, usually after the book study, slipping on some herb tea while Listening to Lisa's pioneer friends try and out-shine one another with how many hours they got in field service that week. Lisa's friends seemed very impressed with themselves and how many hours they could devote to field service. I myself, however could not understand how this was generating all this zeal. I could and DID understand that it was inspiring to share your Bible views with others and exchange faith and hope in a natural setting. But at age 17 being instructed to dress like a lawyer, like I was attending a court hearing, and devoting all my time trying to convenience others that to be saved one must submit to the Watchtower Society's rules (a.k.a. "suggestions") did NOT seem inspire or be helpful to others in the community or to me.

<P>

I did not feel right about telling others they should switch their whole lives around to fit WTS's rules to get blessed by Jehovah and be saved, when I was not even sure myself if I believed this; or that one must even convert to the WT's rules to be saved. Of course I wanted to share the good news of Jehovah and the new earth hope. It was just that I was not convinced that spending your whole life sitting in a chair and submitting to the WTS's non-optional "suggestions" was the right way to go about inspiring others to do this. It seemed that the JW meetings were overloaded with the WT organization's "suggestions"... so much, that these WTS's opinions and suggestions being lectured actually smothered out the very essential important basic Bible truths of Jehovah God's and Jesus Christ's love for humanity and all life and the joy of the restored hope. The never-ending onslaught of Armageddon threats to keep the congregation attendance maintained were burdensome to me. I knew that Jehovah was not the slave driver in the sky that the organization made him sound to be.

<P>

Although I knew that Jah did not just expect human beings to just wonder around on the earth aimlessly with no hope for the future, still to me there was a HUGE difference between the simple concept of Jehovah being an orderly God vs. Jehovah 'needing' an earthly religious organization to mediate his beliefs and desires for humankind for I well knew that Matthew 23:10 and 1 Timothy 2:5 clearly taught that we had only ONE mediator and only ONE leader between Jehovah and humankind and that leader and mediator was Jah's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Thus by JW's actually teaching that Jehovah 'needs' an earthly human organization to mediate his affairs, they were actually pushing Jesus Christ out of his rightful position.

<P>

It really bothered my conscience to sit and hear JW brothers warn the congregation from the pulpit, "NEVER question those talking the lead among you or else be considered a 'complainer against the WORD'". To this I would think, "WHO'S Word"? The actually proven and backed words of Jehovah himself found in the actual Scriptures or the word of WTS? It seemed obvious to me that it was the former and that this actual statement of theirs' contradicted the very advice of the Bible found at Acts 17:11 which spoke of the Beroeans being open-minded and yet they "searched the Scriptures daily to see if [what Paul was telling them] was really so".

<P>

Besides, cult experts always warn that the number one warning sign to watch out for in a cult is the admonishing church members not to question their teachings or the authority behind them. Another deeply disturbing concept that they taught which bothered my conscience was their contradicting teachings and degradation of women in the name of God's Word. Like Promise Keepers, JW's constantly makes claims of "honoring women" and yet their talks, books and printed material proves the opposite teachings. The JW's Revelation-A Grand Climax At Hand! Page #48, paragraph #8 claims that the reason why JW men turn apostate is because their wives fail to allow their husbands the God-given right to rule over them and thus they also "insight court action against Jehovah's faithful servants"; and that when a woman challenge a man's right to rule over her, that then this is a "Jezebel influence". Paragraph #11 also claims that it is "LOVING for Christian overseers to FIRMLY RESTAIN ANY PROMOTION of EQUALITY or LIBERTY of RIGHTS for WOMEN as counseled by WATCHTOWER SOCIETY'S PUBLICATIONS." (Notice they did NOT say as counseled by the BIBLE!)

<P>

In the JW's Proclaimer's book page #221, paragraph #3 a women who is a devout reverer of Rutherford is quoted as blessing Rutherford and his issue of the Watchtower for helping promote her feelings of "relief to see the end of 'women's rights". Then she goes on to call women's rights as "local opinions and individual judgement that is opposite of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ and thus thereby a reproach on Jehovah's name". Then back to the Revelation book page #51, paragraph #14 speaks of JW elders being used by Jesus as "trusted stars to POLICE and SURPRESS WOMEN". Individuals of the congregation are threatened to not question stating, "After these elders have fully examined a matter and JUDGMENT has been rendered it is NOT for INDIVIDUALS to probe into the ways and wherefores of the action taken. All should humbly accept the elders disposal of the matter and continue to be supportive of these congregational stars". Also they call such faith groups as Seventh-Day Adventists and Christian Science "spiritually sullied" and "spiritually immoral" for simply having women teach from the pulpit. All of this is the complete opposite of Galatians 3:28, which says "that there is neither Greek nor Jew nor Male Nor Female but that ALL are one through Christ". See http:/www.cbeinternational.org for a moderate guild on how the Bible is NOT sexist.

<P>

Also disturbing is that NOT one single non-white face can be seen on the board of Governing Body (the leaders at the Watchtower Society; see JW's Proclaimer's book page #116 photo as proof). Then there are all the society's rules which they claim are simply "suggestions". Yet one learns real fast that if you choose not to obey these "suggestions" you find yourself excluded from social gatherings and labeled "spiritually weak", "worldly" and a "bad association". These non-Biblically backed Society's "suggestions" (a.k.a. rules) include: You must attend 5 meetings a week, unless sick. You are to devote at least 10 hours a month in the field service (going door-to-door preaching) to be considered "good association".

<P>

Marriage and/or becoming a pioneer and/or serving at Bethel are THEE "ONLY" worthy life choices/acceptable careers one should reach out for. You can not join ANY social clubs, YMCA, A/A or be on any school team. A "mature Christian" should not celebrate birthdays and although JW leaders admit that forbidding the celebration of birthdays can not be Biblically backed and thus a "personal matter that should be left up to the individual," ... nevertheless if you chose to celebrate birthdays or harvest fests, you'll be labeled "spiritually weak". Single adults, even those over 21, can not hang out together unless a chaperone is present. You must avoid ALL socializing with non-JW's, including school mates, work mates, neighbors and family members. Failure to meet any of these requirements ("suggestions") will result in being avoided by others in the congregations and thus you are considered "spiritually weak" or "worldly".

<P>

Finally I wondered: What did ANY of this have to do with my belief in having a personal relationship with Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ, or my belief in a unitarian view of God or my belief in the restoration of the earth? Yes, what DID all these non-Biblically backed WT Society "suggestions"/rules have to do with these basic essential Bible truths? This question to me was every bit as mysterious as Christendom's Trinity belief. My conscience bothered me over all this because, like all JW's, I knew I could not voice these questions for fear of being instantly labeled, "a complainer against the 'WORD'" and that thus once again the confusion would come into play of merging the basic Bible truth beliefs actually found in the Bible with the WT Society's non-optional "suggestions"/opinions and that both of these would be merged together to form "God's Word" and thus to question THEIR "suggestions" would equal questioning Jehovah's own Word.

<P>

I began to see Lisa change in her association with Judy and "the spiritually mature ones" from being a mellow, down-to-earth gardener and nature lover to one of THEM, which meant measuring everyone's spirituality by their performance of impressive good deeds as an indication of your worthiness to be an associate or not. Lisa became very displeased with me, viewing me as a failure to her, because I failed to produce these characteristics of outward good deeds as proof of my spirituality. Basically, I was a "theocratic embarrassment" to her, because not doing these things, I failed to make her look like a great spiritual teacher to her "spiritually mature" pioneer friends.

<P>

So one day Lisa decided that it was time to take the bull by the horns and announce that it was time to "move on to spiritual maturity" and to "progress to the deeper spiritual things". This basically meant to beyond the basic "spiritual milk" = Jesus life and ministry and on to the "spiritual mature food" = the mechanics and operations of how the Watchtower Society's corporation worked and was ran. I was not interested in learning about how the printing presses at WTS ran, nor examining graphs showing the increases of publisher hours. I said that I would prefer to study something about the actual Bible and this made her become offended and she said in her reply to my request that I had a "rebellious attitude".

<P>

Finally in 1991, I met two girls my age who moved here from up north. The one girl who was precisely my age was named Joan and I found by the time she arrived it was well announced that she had moved here to "pioneer" and this impressed all of the "spiritually mature ones" in the congregation. The other sister was five years older but looked younger and her name was Kate. Kate made no such dazzling announcements and really kept quiet and thus was basically unnoticed, despite her unpretentious ways and genuine kindness. Joan was had a bit of an outlandish hairdo and if it were not for her well advertised announcement of being a pioneer she most likely would have been called "worldly". Both Joan and Kate had a great sense of humor and thus I was inspired to reach out to them and make friends. Joan hit it off well with me and she, her sister and I began hanging out together. Lisa took careful note of this and saw it as an opportunity for her to let some theocratic zeal rub off on me and so she went out off her way to make friends with the new girls as well.

<P>

Lisa thought perhaps she could talk Joan into encouraging me into going out in service and hopefully join the Ministry school. Despite Joan's big talk of wanting to pioneer, she was very spirited, which was something I could relate to. Joan asked me to be her pioneer partner and I agreed to go along for the ride. For the first time in my life as a JW I had made a friend my own age. We shared the same sense of humor and we both liked walking and going to the beach. I would become her field service partner and in return she would be my walking and hiking partner and friend. At that time it seemed like a fair trade-off. Well now I was going out in service and yet still I made no signs or endeavors of wanting to try and become a pioneer or join the school and this was less than commendable in Lisa's eyes. And so Lisa voiced her "concerns" to Joan about my lack of "spiritual advancement" and so finally one day over at my house Joan asked me why I hesitated to join the Ministry school or show interest in doing more in the congregation.

<P>

I thought that Joan was a good and loyal friend and so I explained to her my confusion of not feeling or experiencing this spiritual zeal about going out in the field and that I felt no desire to want to be in the Ministry school. I told her what bothered me is that I had been taught all my life that JW's said that Jesus spoke of being able to identify his true followers by seeing "the love among them" and that I myself had never experienced this love first hand and so I had yet to verify this. Joan looked concerned for me and then she said that she would pray for me. Little did I know that would happened is that Joan told Lisa all this, to which Lisa interpreted that it all meant I was rebellious against the truth, and thus she became inflamed with indignation, which I was not informed of. Lisa stormed over to an elder's house and proceeded to tell him that I "had the attitude of an apostate".

<P>

I was not informed of any of this until my mother, unbeknownst of this, approached the very elder Lisa made these claims of me to and greeted him. The elder made an unfriendly and disgusted look and turned from her with disapproval. "What the hell's wrong with that brother?" my mother thought, and she approached him. He informed her of that which Lisa accused me of. Needless to say my mother was outraged and confused and she confronted me with this. So I went to the elder to find out what precisely Lisa had charged me with. The elder told me that Lisa had told him to tell me that she "could no longer study with me because I had the attitude of an apostate". Finally after an hour of explaining, I finally convinced the elder that this issue was based on a personality clash and not anything spiritual. He concluded that Lisa had jumped the gun and was in error and he requested that since her disagreement towards me was so profound that the best thing to do would be to simply thank her for all the time that she had spent in the past studying with me and to simply drop the whole situation with her. I agreed and did just this and after this I would never see nor talk to her again. Joan was annoyed to find herself caught between Lisa and I, and yet how could she not be since she was the one who informed Lisa of all this? Finally comparing me to Lisa, she sized us up and felt that Lisa was the "spiritually matured one" and that she must agree with her rather than me.

<P>

Joan's betrayal of me and her choice to take Lisa's side rather than mine p.o-ed her sister Kate. Kate expressed her feelings on this to her sister and that she felt that Joan was making a terrible mistake and so Joan concluded that her sister was thus every bit as "spiritually weak" as me. Being both shunned as "spiritually weak ones" Kate and I became best friends to each other. Not too longer after this Joan made another announcement that she wanted to move to Washington to "serve where the need was great" and in response to this she received the praise of the "spiritually mature ones" again. I came latter to learn that Joan's claim to have moved to our area had less to do with "serving where the need was great" and more to do with following a young inspiring pioneer brother whom she was attracted to. Lisa and Judy and all the "spiritually mature ones" praised her noble announcement of moving to "serve where the need was great" again. But this great need was in reality to follow the same brother that inspired her to move to our area in the first place.

<P.

After a year of failed attempts to win this brother over and impress him with her theocratic endeavors, she moved backed to her home town and gave up on being a JW all together. Infact, now she is soured on all religion. Her sister Kate remained in our area for awhile and together we sought to support one another and overcome our fear of admitting that we did not agree with the JW organization. Kate moved away back to her home town and, now since then, we have keep in touch through letters. Like the majority of all JW's, I struggled with my conscience over the issues of JW's non-biblically backed and non-optional "suggestions" (a.k.a. rules) smothering out their basic Bible beliefs: God's name, the new earth hope, unitarian view of God and the rejection of hellfire and the immortal soul concepts as being unbiblical to me.

<P>

Yet, the JW's always warned, "If you leave the JW Organization, where else shall you go? Where else shall you find such beliefs taught and promoted?" It seemed difficult, for as I looked around it did APPEAR that no other religions embraced such beliefs and thus like others, my fear was that if I disconnected myself from the association of the JW's, would I thus be disassociating myself with these essential basic true beliefs? The Internet proved to be a real blessing a saving grace. For it was here that, much to my utter surprise and gladness, I discovered what the JW's taught me all my life about ALL the Bible Students back in Russell's day converting to the Watchtower Society Organization and thus the denominational title "Jehovah Witnesses" long ago was NOT true; and that this fact was verified to me as the web site proved. Yes there WERE STILL MANY non-organizational Bible Students' Associations. I studied and researched ALL the Bible Students groups.

<P>

Though improved in the fact that BSA and FBS were FREE of organizational cult-like control, much to my disagreement I found that ALL but ONE association amongst the BSA's interpreted "the meek shall inherit the earth" actually meant "the meek-hearted, yet spiritually un-informed" and thus those who were good-hearted, but NOT dedicated to the Lord PRESENTLY. Also, all these Bible Student group were very fundamental in nature. This was unacceptable to me. After this, I researched the Progressive Christian churches. I have attended the Disciples of Christ Church, United Methodists, a contmporary interdenominational yet non-chrasimatic Protestant church, 2 Uniatarian Universalists churches. I also have studied Native American beliefs and find much of their concepts agreeable, especially the Hopi.

<P>

By the use of the web, I sought others out, who like myself, believe in these basic essentials and had separated these basic truths from revering the organization and its control over others' lives. I found the Center For Progressive Christianity 3 years ago and I am an online member. There, through many discussions, I have met follow Progressive minded Christians, like me, who overcame their former fundamental church faith group backgrounds withOUT throwing their belief in God or Christ out the window. I have met people there who also came from JW, but also Mormon, Christian Science, Fundamental Baptists groups, Assembly of God, and Fundamental Catholics. On TCPC site and it's forums you'll discover the shared belief is The Golden Rule rather than fighting over doctrinal issues like whether one is triniatian or unitarian and trying to judge someone as being unsaved or a cult or not based upon whether they embrace or reject such doctrinal specualtions. So, if you ever wondered if there was such a thing as a Progressive Christian Network...the answer is yes!

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