Confronting Misinformation

By Richard E. Kelly

I am currently writing a sequel, The Ghosts from Mama’s Club. It’s an autobiography of my forty-seven years of life after leaving the Club. The “ghosts” in the book are dysfunctional behavior patterns, toxic residue acquired from the time my family and I spent as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The most haunting “ghost” for me and my wife, and most people, is the prodigious amounts of misinformation acquired wittingly and unwittingly while we were in the cult. Therefore, the biggest challenge to leading a full, happy life after departing will be confronting misinformation.

Shedding “things a person knows that ain’t so” can be very daunting. Some “ain’t so’s” manifest themselves as phobias. So before nagging untruths induce debilitating behavior, it’s important to clearly identify what they are. When a person is consciously aware of their “ain’t so’s,” they can easily quarantine them. Were I to leave the Club today, my recovery plan would include reading the following six books, in the following order, and why:

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. The author gives a moving account of his life in Nazi death camps and his discovery of logotherapy—a positive approach to the mentally/spiritually disturbed person. His treatment focuses on the freedom to transcend suffering and find a meaning to one’s life regardless of circumstances.
  2. The Source by James A. Michener. A great bit of storytelling based on factual data about early civilization in Israel, debunking JW myths.
  3. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Okay, he’s an atheist, but a person coming out of a group like JWs will appreciate and relate to his hard-hitting, factual observations about the imbecilities of religious fanatics and the dangerous rise of superstition in today’s world. (This is a good book to test your ability to hold two opposed ideas in your mind and still retain the ability to function.)
  4. Jesus, Interrupted – Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible by Bart D. Ehrman. Jehovah’s Witnesses are completely in the dark as to what scholars have been saying for 200 years about Bible history, forgeries, and contradictions. Whichever side a person sits on biblical inerrancy, this is an eye-opening read.
  5. The Sins of Scripture by John Shelby Spong. This book exposes the evil done by people who use the Bible like weapons in the name of God. It points out texts that have been used to discriminate, oppress and distort the truth of Christianity, casting doubt on God’s love.
  6. Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne. I hate the title, but after years of hearing non-scholarly JW evolution rebuttal, this well-written explanation by a knowledgeable scientist gives the reader a fresh, nonthreatening perspective of how old our earth is and how new species evolved from previous ones. And, it makes a good case for the fact that God is not a micromanager, as JWs claim.

If people who’ve left the Club will read these books, they will be amazed how refreshing and energizing basic science and honest history can be. Not only will they have confronted the “ghost of misinformation,” it will be like getting a good, Liberal-Arts-101 college education at a bargain price. For it to coalesce, they’ll need to get outside of themselves and cogitate about the new things they’ve learned. It will also help to take walks, meet new people, do random acts of kindness, volunteer for charitable work, enjoy a hobby and be a friend if they want to lead a full, meaningful life.

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Menlo Park Kingdom Hall – Updates

Since the previous article about the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall court case was published two weeks ago, I’ve received some updates and a few corrections.

Corrections

The city limits of East Palo Alto, CA: One writer pointed out that the city limits of East Palo Alto do extend a few blocks west of the Bayshore Freeway (US 101). In the article I wrote, “Its [Menlo Park’s] eastern edge, the Bayshore Freeway (US 101), separates it from the community of East Palo Alto.”

While I was making the point that the freeway separates the “cultures” and the “economic status” of the two cities, I should have made it clearer where the real city limits are. Those sections of East Palo Alto that do fall on the west side of the freeway are more akin to the cities of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. That does not change the fact that the freeway clearly acts as a wall between the two communities in more ways than simple geography. That’s why I added the line, “The Bayshore Freeway and Santa Clara County Airport act as effective barriers, separating a wealthier Palo Alto from its much poorer neighboring city.”

The Kingdom Halls of Redwood City: Redwood City lies directly north and west of Menlo Park. It now has two Kingdom Halls. One is in the northwest section of the city (631 Iris Street) that is the home to two congregations, “North Redwood City” and “South San Mateo.” Both have predominately white, English-speaking members.

Redwood City's Iris Street Kingdom Hall

The Circuit Overseer involved in this court case, Paul Koehler, lives in a home next to this Kingdom Hall. Donations from the congregations he serves probably cover most of his expenses while he lives in that home.

The second Kingdom Hall is known as “South Redwood City.” I wrote: “[South] is now the home for two or three Spanish-speaking congregations.” I’ve been told that it actually services four Spanish-speaking congregations. It’s at 681 2nd Avenue.

Threats to a former Menlo Park elder: I wrote: “Jon Cobb Sr., one of the plaintiffs, allegedly received threats against himself and his family. It’s been reported that he has moved his family several hundred miles away…” Actually, the elder receiving those reported threats was Jason Cobb, the son of Jon Cobb Sr. and the CEO of the existing Menlo Park corporation.

It was also reported to me that Jason Cobb has refused to give up original copies of the corporation papers. He has allegedly received threats via email and possibly other means that have implied that he and his family are at risk.

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