By Bridget Anderson
The phrase from Hebrews 12, “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” took on a whole new meaning for me this weekend. I was name-tagless and alone in a sea of 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had many thoughts and observations churning around within me, longing to find release. Thus, this essay.
The first thing that surprised me was the style of the speakers. They all had the same style. It was totally devoid of humor, passion or individuality. It was striking how much “the same” they sounded; their deliveries were dry and droning, almost as though they were reading off a teleprompter, or reciting something they had memorized years ago. Not only was the boredom of the attendees palpable, one got the impression that the speakers themselves were bored with what they were saying. It was ironic, considering the subject was “Keep on the Watch” and their constant repetition that Armageddon was “at hand” (as they have proclaimed it to be for 130 years).
The uniformity of the crowd was also somewhat amazing, considering it was so large. In sitting for a stretch of three hours, everyone did exactly the same thing: eyes fastened on the speaker, Bibles rustling to look up each verse, all taking notes. I felt kind of “obvious” by just taking sips of water a few times during the talks, or looking for my gum in my bag.