JW FAQ podcast

A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
Back during the 20 million downloads Q&A event, we had a few questions revolving around our experiences growing up as Jehovah's Witnesses.  At the moment, there is a bunch of statements we've made on the subject over 4 years and like 6 different pieces of content, let alone the incidental mentions in The Leftovers and other shows.  

What we want to do is round up some of the more frequently asked questions regarding this aspect of our backgrounds and do a dedicated podcast for it, so when people are curious they can get most of their answers in one convenient place, which I'll inevitably link to our About page. 

We have in mind some areas to hit, but I thought I'd turn to the community for ideas about what you found most interesting in previous Q&As or off hand comments that we should repeat, and any new questions points of interest you might.  Let us have it below, and I'll compile the results into some podcast notes and then we'll go off and make it!
MelonuskKingKobraTraviscdriveCodyHarris821ChiefPizza
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Comments

  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    Being someone who has studied other religions in school (I'm a non-practising Catholic BTW) but we never studied JW and I have to admit I'm a little ignorant on them as well as belief structures. Is it possible to run through the basics of the belief structure, myths etc about the JW's and what life in general was like as a JW ie day to day tasks. I think there are a lot of things people don't know about JW's or just think they are the guys that knock on my door and don't accept medical treatment. 

    You will probably cover it but when did you realised that you wanted to leave the church and what drove it?

    The hardest part for me in the bits that we have heard was the relationship to your families post leaving the JW's, was there a time when the draw of family almost took you back? Without going back is there a way to rebuild those relationships?

    If you don't feel like answering any of these feel free to discard them
    DeeDani_ArmindoTravis
  • Dave, you are evil and going to hell, unless of course you convert. Then you can be resurrected.....(knows because I was going to be resurrected, but now going to hell).
    davemcbChiefPizzaSheIsGeeky
  • I don't mean to go off topic, but I just bought a hypnosis app to help get to sleep.  The only negative review said that it would allow demons to posses your soul.

    I'm cracking up.  I'm Christian (no issues with anyone who isn't), but since I'm Christian I know that Jesus is guarding my soul and God won't let it get possessed by a stupid iPhone App.  

    I mean, if you believe that once you're protected by your faith you're saved, do you really think a $1.99 app can override the almighty power of the Author of All of Creation?

    Not trying to get religious here, not really, this sort of thing just puts me between a chuckle and a sigh.
    Murderbear
  • I can only speak from my personal experience as JW (up until age of 13). What I found interesting was that my cousin who was a JW for longer said that there were a few things that they become more lenient on (I believe they now allow women to go to school iiirc that was frowned upon when I was involved). Also, I think kids are treated much more as adults, than kids. Especially when you start doing the speeches (forget the exact term) in front of the congregation. Of course the benefit from this is that public speaking in school was much easier.

    I guess my questions would be how did you (if you did) interact with kids that were worldly. Did you form friendships with those people? How long did it take for people to stop trying to bring you back into the flock? I know you've discussed looking into other religions, but did you ever study the history of JW? Look into the similarities it shared with other religions?

    Oh and how do you feel about not being resurrected;) (j/k)
    Travis
  • cdrivecdrive Houston, TX
    What stood out to me was when you said how much it fucking sucks, and it does, that your little man has his Halloweens sort of compromised by the split-time situation with your ex.  Apologies if I'm being too candid and comfortable. I think it's brave how you throw it out there.  But what stood out most about it was your level of enthusiasm, going full-tilt in describing how much effort you put into making his custom Halloween costume this year and past years.  I told my wife @xulsolar22 "It's like A.Ron is a 'Pinterest Dad' haha." (meant in a completely endearing way).  I think it's cool. Love that shit.  But I guess thinking about it again now, I'm reminded of that Jehovah Witness Kevin Costner movie when Costner's character can't fathom the kid not being allowed to Trick or Treat, or have Christmas, or birthdays, carnivals or cotton candy.  As a dad of 2 boys, and having grown up in a super religious family and then "living in sin" for now the majority of my life with my now wife who was raised with no religion, I'm curious how your upbringing shaped your views on parenting and what experiences maybe you want your child to have that maybe you didn't.  In short, the "being a parent" aspect.  Might be too touchy of a subject.  Thanks, c:\
    Travis
  • jomihajomiha Springfield IL
    My aunt and uncle were JW (both passed now). They completely cut out their daughter from their lives when she left JW. Since then, my cousin has been a prolific and vocal opponent of JW. Her name is Brenda Lee- not sure if you've heard of her, but if you're curious, her online home is http://www.outofthecocoon.net/

    To my question...

    Despite the indirect negative experiences I had with my family members, I had a girlfriend twenty years ago that was a JW. We were getting serious, when boom. The hammer dropped that she couldn't see me anymore because her family and elders forbade our relationship. I was cut off completely and quickly. I was devastated. Being an idiot in love, I offered to become JW just to be able to stay with her. Thankfully she knew it wasn't something I truly wanted, and didn't drag out the break-up. My question is, have you seen people enter JW in order to be with a guy or girl they are in love/lust with? How has that worked out from what you've seen? 
    Travis
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    edited January 6
    Is there ever any skeptical discussion amongst members how some religions have been going for thousands of years, but somehow true revelation occurred to these Witnesses in the middle of the USA in the 19th century?  And happens to coincide with the creation and rise of several other sects of Christianity (Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Mormonism etc..) that also claimed revelation?  Did that ever raise any eyebrows?  
    Travis
  • Cover The Path on hulu and use it to compare and discuss your experiences.
  • Is there every any skeptical discussion amongst members how some religions have been going for thousands of years, but somehow true revelation occurred to these Witnesses in the middle of the USA in the 19th century?  And happens to coincide with the creation and rise of several other sects of Christianity (Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Mormonism etc..) that also claimed revelation?  Did that ever raise any eyebrows?  

    At least from my experience, no there was no questioning or anything "scientific" like you are saying. Much like any religion, much of it is based on faith. When I started to question my faith (it started younger) and was given a choice, I left. Not sure if things were different for the guys, but I know I'm the circles I was in I never heard any questioning. Of course much of this was before the beginning of the internet (80's-mid 90's). Once you are "in", you don't question ;) that is what non believers do :p
    Doctor_NickTravis
  • calebthrowercalebthrower South Carolina
    I identify as Christian although I am more of a liberal Christian than most. One thing I questions some times is the general idea of "am I believing the right thing?" I'm curious if either of you ever have the opposite reaction where you question your choice to leave the JW and religion all together. Do you maybe think you fellas let a bad experience with a singular group of people sour all religions for you. And to piggy back off of that why did you not try to explore other religion to see if your beliefs aligned better with another.
  • edited January 6
    I apologize if this is too personal, and please disregard if it is: On some of the podcasts A.ron sometimes talks about his mother and father, and I could be mistaken, but I got the impression that his mother is still a JW but his father might not be? I know that him and Jim were born into the JW cult. My question is: when did this start for their families? Were their parents born into the cult as well, or did they decide to join? Nowadays, are there some family members who are willing to reconnect with them, or have they been completely cut off?

    Second question: A.ron has said that his mother was a narcissist. I also grew up in a household with a severely emotionally and physically abusive narcissist. I'm always interested in hearing other people's stories who grew up in a somewhat similar situation, and how they learned to cope and move pass it.

    Third question: A.ron has mentioned that before leaving the JW he believed in the teachings while Jim has mentioned that he never really believed in the JW beliefs. It would interesting to hear them talk about this again, and maybe elaborate on their different experiences growing up and coping, with one believing in the teachings and the other not.
  • Steven_SSteven_S West Palm Beach, FL
    Most teenagers I went to high school with dabbled in drinking, partying, and having sex. I certainly did, and I view rebelling and mischievous behavior as almost a normal part of growing up and discovering ones self. Two of my best friends were the stereotypical preachers kids, and they seemed to rebel more then anyone. Is it the same way for JW teenagers? Does the added pressure and JW rules lead to more rebellion? Does the JW's excommunicate the children, or do they have a system of dealing with it?
  • I dated a recovering JW for a while >20yrs ago during/after high school.

    She had started "acting out" at about 14 (partying/boys/refused to participate in the faith) and, by the time I met her, he parents had put her into the "system" because they couldn't deal with her (group home, and then foster care). They still spoke with her and visited her every month or two and I assumed that they were just small-minded folks who probably shouldn't have become parents compounded by her being a child from her father's first marriage and not of his current marriage. That said is the any kind of JW "thing" about this? If you shun those who leave the faith, then what do you do when a child who is old enough to not be controllable, but still a minor, leaves the faith?

    I went to church with her and her family once and I'm fascinated by the rituals and such. They passed wine and unleavened bread, but nobody could partake unless you were one of the 144k. I asked how they knew, and she said they just did (and then she saw the look in my eye and begged me not to cause a problem by partaking). She mentioned that her grandmother had been one of the 144k, but had stepped aside from that late in life to make room for others or something. Can you be chosen, and then decide to un-choose yourself?

    Background: I was raised Mormon, but have been atheist since about age 12.
  • I can't necessarily think of any specific questions, but I think the topic is fascinating and I just wanted to voice how pleased I am that you are going to do this cast and how excited I am to hear it. Thanks!
  • ARH

    Two things

    I think this would be interesting to hear

    and

    Cool new profile pic!
    Travishisdudeness915
  • AjasAjas Seattle, WA
    How often do people break the rules when they think they can get away with it?

    How much do people gossip about the rule-breaking?

    Which rules do they break the most?

    How are they disciplined when they get caught?
    Doctor_Nick
  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    When you left and had the freedom to do anything you wanted was there anything that you thought "I didnt even know that existed?" 

    What was the biggest pop culture gaps that you had as a result of being "censored" whilst still in the church
    jomihaDoctor_NickChiefPizza
  • jomihajomiha Springfield IL
    davemcb said:

    When you left and had the freedom to do anything you wanted was there anything that you thought "I didnt even know that existed?" 



    Great question!
    davemcbDoctor_Nick
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    So, I was raised kind of middle-of-the-road Catholic but I have no religion now. I'm not mad at it either, it just doesn't jive with my brain. But in my 20s (during the 90s) I had a long relationship that lasted the better part of a decade with an evangelical Christian guy who had a lot of cognitive dissonance because he was also into a lot of the same "nerd stuff" a lot of people in the podcasting/forum/Reddit worlds are now, and there's a lot of stuff his Christian friends would think were "demonic" or something, and he had a whole other set of friends who he would do that stuff with, and never the two would meet. (it didn't work out between us, shocking. amirite?) So that's part of why I find this topic very interesting and the only reason I bring it up is to put some context around these questions.

    Where I'm always the most interested is when you talk about media, and how you weren't allowed to watch certain things, or play certain games. I would be curious to hear more about whether there were "rules" about that, who made the rules (parents or church or both) and how you got around them (I thought I heard something recently about going to Jim's house, was Jim's family more lenient?)

    And then as an adult, away from the church, does your history with JW affect your analysis of media, like do you purposely choose or not choose things because you didn't see/play them as kids, or because you wouldn't be allowed, but also going further- Do you think your analysis is affected by your religious history and education, and how? 

    And last, I thought I heard that for a time when Jim was out of JW but Aron was still in it, that you weren't in contact? or did I make that up in my head? So my question would be, (if that was true and not something I heard wrong) then how did you get back in contact, and how much of your friendship was your shared interest in the media stuff (movies, TV, gaming) you cover now?
  • ChiefPizzaChiefPizza Akron, OH
    How did being a JW impact your transition into adulthood and the "real world"? For example, was it difficult to start new relationships with people who were not JW, were you any less prepared to deal with things such as personal finances (bill paying), renting a living space, etc?

    I know absolutely nothing about JW, so I'm also curious about what I can only think to call the dress code. Did you have to wear the white shirt/black pants combo all the time? Was there a "casual Friday?" Haha. When you left, did you feel like you weren't sure what to wear for any period of time, or felt uncomfortable in what you did choose to wear?

    I'm looking forward to this so much! All of this is super interesting to me. I can't wait!
  • What was the evolution from JW to where you are now?  What is in-between?  What literary, scientific, philosophic works helped you get to where you are?
  • This will be a fascinating podcast. Can't wait to hear it. 

    Basic questions:
    Can you explain how JW dogma differs from "traditional" Christian faiths? I know so very little about what Jehovah's Witnesses believe. 

    What is life like in such a small, insular and religious community? Is it akin to a typical small town just with stricter moral guidelines? 

    What are some of the not-so-obvious differences between that community and the secular one you live in now?

    Some personal questions: 

    When did you first begin to lose your belief in the JW doctrine/Christian faith? Was it a gradual shift or more of a revelation?

    I can't imagine the courage it took to leave the faith knowing that it basically meant a kind of banishment from your families. Who did you talk to about this before you left? 
    Were you able to talk to anyone within the JW community about your doubts or did you work through them alone?
    Did you ever consider staying in the sect and 'faking it' to remain with family and friends? 

    What are the things you miss about being in "the cult," as you've called it in the past, aside from the obvious (friends and family that were left behind)?
    davemcb
  • davemcbdavemcb Melbourne
    edited January 10


    What is life like in such a small, insular and religious community? Is it akin to a typical small town just with stricter moral guidelines? 

    A little bit like Footloose
    ChiefPizza
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)

    I know absolutely nothing about JW, so I'm also curious about what I can only think to call the dress code. Did you have to wear the white shirt/black pants combo all the time? 

    I think the white shirt/black pants guys are Mormons. 
    KingKobra
  • This may be my total naïveté asking, but, why are the JWs (or anyone else) referred to as a cult? Specifically what I'm getting at is, what differentiates a super-involved church goer from a cult member? (I was raised both Catholic and Pentecostal, which was more than enough to send me screaming away from organized religion.) I have a hard time understanding the frame of mind of somebody that willingly devotes themselves to a huge degree to any faith, so any insight would be appreciated.
  • @A_Ron_Hubbard @Jim

    Interesting article by Pew Research from last year.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/26/a-closer-look-at-jehovahs-witnesses-living-in-the-u-s/

    I got swept up in reading the comments (of course). Always interesting to see what others believe happen/doesn't happen, etc.

  • I think the white shirt/black pants guys are Mormons. 

    We have JWs here in Ohio that only wear this when going door-to-door.
  • Cult means different things to different people. I think any especially small or new religion could be described as a cult. A religion with "socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices" comes up on Wikipedia and that feels about right to me. If something grows quite large or persists for quite a long time, then it is likely to be less novel and deviant from social norms.

    It's kind of a good cop-out answer really: a cult is what society generally deems to be a cult.
  • edited January 11

    I think the white shirt/black pants guys are Mormons. 

    We have JWs here in Ohio that only wear this when going door-to-door.
    Maybe things have changed, but at least from what I know, there was no such "mandate". Dress clothes (suit, dress shirt/tie/slacks) where what were "acceptable". Everything was muted colors (i.e. Not club or flashy dress clothes). I always associate the white shirt/black slacks with Morman (who also go door to door).
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    edited January 11
    Back when I was a Dub, we specifically avoided the monocromatic "Mormon" look.  Also a slight prejudice against short sleeves for the same reason.  But I could see some congregations, somewhere in the world, maybe favoring it. It wasn't an order down from on high.
    KingKobraChiefPizza
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