Monday, December 20, 2004

"Game recognizes game." Or in this case, former Jehovah's Witnesses recognize current ones.

There's a youngish couple in our building that I pegged as JWs a while back and finally had my J-dar confirmed when they came knocking during the Jets game yesterday. Something about the way they carried themselves rang familiar, but it was seeing them heading out a few times on weeknights, usually around 6-6:30pm, that gave them away. At those times, they were always well-dressed, but modestly so, with briefcases in hand and the friendly demeanor of those who genuinely believe they have found the way to everlasting happiness.

Contrary to popular, if woefully ignorant, opinion, most Jehovah's Witnesses are regular people; the majority of them likable, even!

Unlike most people, I don't have a problem with Jehovah's Witnesses, despite arguably having good reasons to do so as someone who was disfellowshipped and shunned after deciding to walk a different path. If anything, I respect them more than most people who claim to have God's ear as, generally speaking, they put their money where their mouths are, living their beliefs to both the spirit and letter of the law as they interpret it. And they're not armchair quarterbacks, either, going out of their way to spread the word as they believe Jesus instructed them to. Most Christian religions take that part of the gospel much less literally, satisfied with attending church for a couple of hours every Sunday, if then, and maybe avoiding taking the Lord's name in vain. Maybe!

I do have a problem with people that see nothing wrong with mistreating Witnesses, though, whether on the street or knocking at their doors. Sure it can be annoying early on a Saturday morning but really, does the minor intrusion on your day justify the chest-thumping threats to kick some ass, or even the demoralizing slamming of the door?

When they came by yesterday, they were with a teenaged boy, probably no more than 15 years old. Whether it was his first time or he was a seasoned veteran, whether he was there simply out of obligation or a true believer, I have no idea. I couldn't help to think about the various times when I was some combination of the four, nervous every time a door opened, not knowing what sort of greeting was coming my way. Even when I started to lose my faith and started to question things, I viewed it as a challenge, sometimes even hoping for the rude, ignorant response so I could dismantle it, turn it back around on them and walk away feeling vindicated.

Of course, by that point, I had no business being there and realized it shortly after.

Yesterday, I simply said "Thanks, but I'm not interested," before recognizing the couple from upstairs, at which point I added, "Hey there! Actually, my mother's a Witness, down in Virginia. Thanks for stopping by, though." No drama, no problem.

Fact of the matter is it's generally easier to disarm a Jehovah's Witness with politeness, especially since they practice overcoming objections as a matter of course. Attempting to argue religion with them is pointless as the average Witness knows the Bible better than most people who claim to be religious and most of them can break down most objections USING THE BIBLE, something most people who claim to be religious couldn't do if given an index and a couple of hours to page through it. Sixteen years later and I still remember more of the Bible than the average Christian knows.

All that to say the next time a Jehovah's Witness comes knocking on your door, if you're not interested, simply say so politely, thank them for stopping by and go on about your business. 95% of them are looking for interested people to talk to, not arguments with those looking to work out a little misdirected anger.


Anonymous said...

Guy...Feliz Navidad.

When I was a kid and my mother saw the JW's coming, she would close the curtains, hide, and make us all be quiet till they left. Something I laugh about as I think about it now. What was she afraid of? LOL...

Now that I am a man, and a Christian, I do open my door when they come by. As a former Witness yourself, maybe you can answer this for me. After telling them I am not interested, why do they come back week after week after week...for six weeks to be exact? The final visit ended with an invitation to the local Kingdom Hall, which I kindly thanked the gentleman for and then he finally stopped coming. Can you shed any light here?


Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Actually, that always struck me as odd, too! I hated knocking on doors I'd been to before where someone had politely declined an interest. Unless someone was outright hostile and abusive, though, we wouldn't note the house/apartment as a do not visit.

Sometimes the thinking on returning was that a different face might have a better shot at making a connection, or that someone more receptive might answer the door the next time. Other times, it was simply a matter of "I'm not interested" being translated as "I'm not interested TODAY," which understandably can lead to less polite encounters.

Anonymous said...

Ah ok, then maybe something in my politeness there was a hint of, "I'm not interested TODAY." Interesting about the "new face." while it was always the same lead guy, he always had someone different with him. The first time it was him and an African-American guy who was very young and obviously a rookie. I'm wondering if he thought I might be a racist since everyone he brought after that was as white as the driven snow. I probably shouldn't speculate too deeply there huh?

Another question which I hope you might kindly answer. I know that JW's don't celebrate certain holidays, including Christmas, and I'm fully aware of why. As a former JW, did/do you ever struggle with any residual guilt now that you do this with your wife and kids?

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

re: speculation, who knows? I do know they used to keep track of the hostile "do not visit" addresses. If it's a concern, maybe ask them next time to add you to the list.

As for the holidays, though I'd gone to meetings with my grandparents from a young age, I was only hardcore for a few years, during and immediately after high school. My mother and I got baptized within a year of each other and before that weren't particularly religious at all. In fact, she only started her bible study with the intent to show her parents that the Witnesses were crazy nutjobs! No guilt at all around the holidays, though sometimes, when I see how much money we spend on gifts, I want to go back to not celebrating them! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I'll try that if they come again. Hopefully the JW's "Do Not Visit" list is more effective than the govt's "Do Not Call" list. LOL

BTW, I'm nice to JW's and telemarketers!


Eliel Lucero said...


Okay so you know you and I share that expereience even though for me was from birth and Lasted till I walked away and got disfellowshipped also. Oh and my Bible is pretty good. I was as good a preacher as I was a salesmen. You can say that is where I discovered my talent for convincing. The did feel guilty when I began celebrating Holidays but now it is not there anymore. I don't believe in christmas my last post few post should explain why I celebrate it. I just think it is fun. Nothing much to that. But My mother was dissfellowshiped two years after me, and the weirdest thing was watching her celebrate stuff with her husband. Her last three Husbands were all worldly but she never really celebrated with them. This year she has lights in her from porch. That is just shocking.

The weirdest thing that I say is that on your page, because of your post, Google has a JW hook up site advertised. I went and checked out a few women's profiles and it was just shocking. They "Brother" "sister" talk full on. I was laughing too. I wonder if the watchtower bible and track association commissioned those sites. Do Elders speak about it. Some of those girls were cute. Wow dating in the JW world must be so much easier. All those rules. That was the biggest thing for me, I couldn't accept the fact that I couldn't fall in love where I pleased. There were a few JW girls that I was crazy about, but everything is so much more complicated with them. Presure for marriage is intense. The Idea that you find a girl, get to know her, become her boyfriend, publicly, and propose shortly after. Oh and then get married. That gives about 3 or 4 excuses for JW party. I used to DJ for JW parties. Spanish music exclusivly, but it was so difficult selecting "appropiate music", No sexual refferences at all. We had Elders Monitor the music just in case. Parties started 6pm and ended at 10:30pm the latest. Unless you were in a washington hieghts dominican congregation. They were a bit more flexible with party rulse. Anyway I can type of my JW experience for hours. Many happy, some tragic, but at the end I just don't have faith. I question everything. I enjoy "sin" way too much. It is so super weird.

Merry x-mas guy. How fitting.

Anonymous said...


i have a problem with being rude w/ the JWs or the Mormons on the porch - it just makes me uncomfortable all over to be rude in the face of someone who has trucked all around our neighbourhood on days that are inevitably really cold or really hot. & there's almost always a kid with them too...

(& then there's the mezzuzah in the doorframe, & that generally ends everything w/o discomfort for anyone, quickly & w/o shame.)