For three years from 2002 to early in 2005, Carl helped shepherd Mariuca, always giving her balanced advice. When she was sick with polymyositis, he and a fellow elder visited with her regularly. Even after she had partially recovered, she enjoyed going in the door-to-door service with Carl’s family because they worked at a slower pace and took it easy on her.
During one conversation with Carl, he privately told her that he was seeing a therapist. This was a bit of a shock because she knew most JWs frowned on going to professionals. At the same time, it was comforting news for her. She also found and met with a reputable therapist who helped her identify several key issues.
Once during the summer of 2005 after going door-to-door, Mariuca was riding in a car with Carl, his wife and their seventeen-year-old daughter, Maggie. For no apparent reason, she asked, “If you don’t have your mind, what have you got?” She had been thinking about her relationship with her paranoid and schizophrenic grandmother, wondering if she might eventually become just like her. Continue reading
During her first year of single life, Mariuca requested “shepherding visits.” This is a JW process phenomenon designed to encourage and pump up members in the early stages of losing their faith or struggling with a loss. (It is a poor attempt at giving members therapy by Jehovah’s Witness “wannabe therapists” who have no training in counseling. If you are a “good JW,” getting advice from a licensed psychologist is considered a “no-no.”)
The person in need requests a meeting. If granted, one or two elders are assigned to be “shepherds.” During the meeting the problem is identified and followed with a pep talk. The “shepherds” cherry-pick scriptures to make it feel like Jehovah is there working His magic.
Mariuca had three shepherding visits after the divorce. At the time she thought they were helpful, due in large part because the elders she met with were compassionate and caring. But not one of the shepherds was properly educated to evaluate Mariuca’s mental state. While their efforts were well-intentioned, they were actually setting her up for a major breakdown. It was only a matter of time.
However, the best therapy for Mariuca was work, rubbing shoulders every day with a hundred men in the Bethel Pressroom. Her brother, Randy, was one of them. During lunch time the two of them loved to play cards, in particular Bid Whist. They also partnered up and played Whist in the evening, which gave her the opportunity to meet interesting single men in a relaxed environment. While she didn’t pursue anyone, she soon became the pursued. The man’s name was Lewis.
It was an unusual response—something I don’t normally do— triggered by a not-so-unusual email from a Mama’s Club reader, Mariuca Rofick. An ex-Jehovah’s Witness, she told me that she had spent ten years working at Bethel, the equivalent of the Vatican for JWs. I’m not certain why, but I intuitively sensed that she wanted to tell me a story and was fishing for a nonjudgmental listening ear. I was someone who had been there, done that. So at the end of a short email response, I typed, “Now tell me a thing or two about you.” That was a request I’d never made before to anyone based on a single email.
In less than twenty-four hours, Mariuca sent me a heart-wrenching reply. At the end of her email, she wrote, “Sorry! I guess you didn’t ask for my entire life story. Once I got going, I couldn’t stop. I am heading to the car right now, but I will continue later this evening.” When she made good on her promise, I knew I had a whopper of a tale to tell – if she’d let me tell it. It would be a true story with many crazy twists and turns along the way. For some people, it will create a serious “moral dilemma.” For others like me, it’s a heartwarming love story, albeit an unlikely one. And it’s a story which should convince every reader that it’s never too late. Continue reading
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible’s book of Revelation (or The Apocalypse) offers an account of what is to come sometime within their lifetime. This is not unique to the Witnesses, but shared by several other so-called “millennial” religious groups.
A fact that is not well-known (except by historians and serious Bible scholars) is that every generation for the last 1900 years has believed that “the end” would come during their lifetimes. It is obvious that every generation has been wrong. And yet each successive generation is convinced that the end-time prophecy is about them and their generation – including ours.
A majority of reputable Bible scholars believe that the book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John) was not written to describe the future for people living today. Rather, they feel it was written for first century Christians who lived in and around Rome.
While the Bible’s book of Revelation is a rather bizarre document by today’s standards, all sorts of apocalyptic books were quite common in the ancient world. Continue reading
When I talked alone with Marilyn, she acknowledged her duplicity. She had lost touch with basic human decency due to poorly thought out JW policy. She regretted that she had shunned me for so many years. She wanted me back in her life. We had a long, candid conversation, shedding many tears. But not once did she say a word about how poorly she had been treated by Tim and Carter, nor why she could now talk and eat with me.
I talked one-on-one with Mama the next day. We had our conversation at her house but Mama’s tone and subsequent reaction was totally different from the one with Marilyn. Mama could not see the world through any other lens than her own. She was cold and hard, with no remorse. She wanted to be in total control of the conversation and refused to answer several of my questions and offered no explanation for why she could now talk with me. Continue reading