“Have to be sure I am dancing only for God …people can tell if I am dancing for the flesh…I do that sometimes.” Says a young girl in “Jesus Camp”, a movie about a summer camp for Born Again Evangelical Christian families. She has already learned to shame herself for loving movement unless it falls within a very strict definition of what is acceptable to God.
A dividing line of good and evil that these children, like Jehovah’s Witness children, are aware of from a very young age.
When Darth Vader Dies
He has been really sick for a really long time…and now he is dead…He is my father and I miss him…I am sad…And I lost him over his God long ago…16 years of being out of the Organization has not dulled my loss…now he is dead and there is no more fixing, or thought of fixing, our relationship.
He is my father and I am grieving this profound loss…and I know how much safer many people probably feel now he is dead…it is finally over.
It is like when Darth Vader finally dies at the end of “Return of the Jedi”… The galaxy is a safer place and everyone is celebrating…everyone except Luke…his son Luke is grieving…”I know there is good in him” Luke kept saying and when Darth dies Luke is sad…regardless of how the rest of the galaxy feels Luke is sad.
I feel loss in the midst of others feeling safer.
I am sad. I am also angry. I am angry he never accounted for the harms he perpetuated.
It is complex.
Like the old Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, my life with my family was a mixed experience. Regardless of the painful and ugly parts of where I came from I love my family and I love my father.
I notice in this time after his death how much I miss that little bit of communication we have had in the past 15 years.
Since I wrote the letter to the Society, the letter Disassociating myself, my family and the Congregation are officially shunning me. According to the Organization we are allowed to talk about Necessary Family Business. Thus what we have are moments when someone is very sick or has died and such information needs to be given.
These brief opportunities, to connect as family; rare and bound by the rules of my parent’s belief system, are precious to me none the less.
I could walk away from my past. I left. I proved to myself the system I grew up in is manipulating people, causing harm to many, and I left. I could mourn my family and move on to living the life I want to be living. I have people I love and who love me in my life now. I am happy.
And my family in the Organization will view it as the worst sort of betrayal if I reveal to the World painful realities of Witness life. If I call out the abuse of the people I was a witness to, my mother may hate me for the rest of my life.
When I was about 10-Years-Old I started to have the realization, if my father was wrong, if this wasn’t the One True Will of God, I was going to be morally obligated to tell the truth about what is happening to people.
I was watching the littlest children being Disciplined to Raise Faithful Servants of God. I was watching the older kids, my cousins and their friends, getting in Trouble with the Elders.
I was examining the Governing Body’s stand on gender roles and presentation and sexuality and relationship rules.
I was thinking about the Organization’s instructions that Witnesses must stand ready to withstand torture and death on God and the Governing Body’s command. I was contemplating the Organization’s teachings on False Religion and God’s coming Day of Judgment.
What I started hearing whispered in the back of my mind was, “If my father is wrong…if it is not the Truth…I am going to have to tell. If they are wrong, then this Organization is hurting a lot of people. I see the harm this is causing and I see that it is a semi-successfully hidden secret.
If I know harm is happening and I don’t say anything I am sharing in their sins.