If ever you find yourself at a loose end with some time to kill, I highly recommend scrolling through the “jw_witnesses” account on instagram.
Scanning the heavily manicured pages of JW.org is one thing, but if you want a more realistic glimpse into the bizarre (and often troubling) world of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this web resource is as good as it gets.
Of particular interest is the array of photos showing the souvenirs that have been created and distributed for delegates at international conventions.
Then there are the various images showing elaborate painted backdrops and vintage cars emblazoned with ‘theocratic’ slogans, all apparently put on show simply to give convention delegates a gimmicky photo opportunity.
Here are some examples…
As someone who spent more of his life in this religion than I now care to admit, it all seems rather perplexing. Just how can all the time and money invested in gimmicks, trinkets and souvenirs be justified by an organization that claims the end of the world is “imminent?”
Don’t forget the aim of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as emphasized by this year’s convention (and ironically emblazoned on many of the souvenirs) is to “seek first the kingdom.” Precisely how is this goal achieved by spending hours making elaborate pendants and fancy bookmarks for convention delegates when 7 billion non-Witnesses around the world are in line for wholesale annihilation at any moment?
“Ah, but none of this is sanctioned by the organization. This is just the work of a few over-enthusiastic individuals” – some of you may retort.
If only that were true.
Watch the JW.org video below, particularly from 0:28 to 1:34, and try to tell me that the making of souvenirs for international conventions does not have Watchtower’s approval and oversight…
Then look at the image below (which can be enlarged by clicking on it), and try telling me that this letter from the Hospitality Committee of the 2014 London International Convention, posted to a congregation notice board as far back as January, does not urge brothers to spend their time making gifts with a “theocratic or London-based theme.”
If you read the above letter you will notice that no less than 2,321 volunteered to make “memorabilia” for one convention alone. Imagine the total number of hours that were lavished by all these people stitching, gluing or painting the initials “JW” on whatever paraphernalia they could get their hands on.
And lest we forget, none of this is for the benefit of non-Witnesses who are awaiting divine execution for their unbelief, or even for regular Witnesses who happen to be attending the event. As the above letter expressly states, the souvenirs are intended for distribution to “delegates from other lands.”
As a recent JWsurvey article pointed out, those who are willing to spend big bucks on a week-long stay in a Watchtower-approved hotel are treated like rock stars. The usual rules and protocols, particularly governing ‘worldly’ music in kingdom halls, go out of the window if there are well-heeled brothers and sisters to be entertained.
Indeed, according to the above letter there was no shortage of volunteers at this year’s London International Convention to provide such entertainment.
But eyebrows must be raised among thinking Witnesses who are sincere in their beliefs. How is it possible to explain the veneration of a wealthy elite of worshippers in this way? And how can “Jehovah’s organization” commission the devoting of so much time and energy for the making of cheap paraphernalia when, according to the Governing Body, the clock is ticking and billions of lives are at stake?
- Partying in the kingdom hall – why OK for convention delegates, but not newlyweds?
- Watchtower announces new international conventions
- Anthony Morris III attends 2012 Special Convention