Escape from the Watchtower Society
(A Book Review and Recommendation by Shaun Aisbitt)
Some people discover a talent late in life they were not aware of like Grandma Moses the painter. Diane Wilson is a very gifted writer, but her former lifestyle would have suppressed any individuality and creativeness she had. Her gift for writing and communicating was only discovered after she left the Watchtower. Her true inner feelings and writing come across in her book 'Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness'. When I first became aware of her book I was excited, not because it was another book that showed why the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society was cultic, but because it dealt with the feelings and emotions of a person who was trapped in a domineering society. Too many books on Jehovah's Witnesses just rehash the same failed prophecies, show where the society has changed their version of the Bible and show how to answer Jehovah's Witnesses. Most are cold theological discourses which don't deal with the emotional / mental / spiritual state of the Watchtower Victim. Diane Wilson's book though is different, and a well needed breath of fresh air for those of us who have a calling to research and help people out of cults, especially counselors.
It is a hard book to put down, like an adventure novel it flows from one situation to the next and you feel you are almost there with her. You can live her journey with her through the Watchtower Society, see the twisted poison she is being fed, the lies she starts to believe and you want to call out to her "Don't listen to them!". You want to slap the ministry servants and elders of the Kingdom Hall she attends when they feed her uninformed medical opinions and cause her untold anguish and pain. You're praying for her when she begins to question and doubt all she has been told. This isn't just a book, this is an experience revealed through the eyes and mind of a Watchtower slave.
Diane's story tells of how she nearly lost her baby due to Watchtower error, suffered medical mishaps due to the societies misunderstanding, had her mother / daughter relationship taken away, then had to treat her daughter like she was dead when her daughter rebelled and left the Watchtower. Diane tells of the fake enticing love she was shown before she committed to become a Witness, and the cold hard treatment she received as soon as she was baptized. She shows how she was coached to smile and shut up, even though everything in her was screaming to get out. She shows how the Watchtower not only enslaves your mind, but also controls your body and spirit. She skillfully weaves some of the watchtowers thought stopping techniques into her story and we can recognize it when we minister to witnesses. A good example is found on page 95:
"If you have doubts about the organization, it is because Satan is causing the doubts; however, because Satan only attacks true Christians, your having doubts proves that the organization is the truth!"
Incredible logic!. Her thoughts began to fold in on themselves and this is shown in many examples where she became nothing more than an automation for the Watchtower. She explains also on pg 95:
...I succeeded in burying my doubts and disagreements to the point of feeling I had none.
and on page 103:
Constantly repressing my true feelings, submitting to the organization, and putting up mental roadblocks to avoid death-dealing independent thinking was a lot of hard work which resulted in my feeling stripped of my own personality and little more than an automation.
Diane put up with this for 25 years, fear being the force that kept her there. She shows how Jehovah's Witnesses have no assurance of salvation, and strive constantly to work harder in case the vengeful god of the Watchtower should be displeased with them and destroy them at Armageddon (which is always just a short time away, so work hard!). She illustrates this on Pg97 with the image they were given of a man rowing and struggling in a small boat about to be swept over a large waterfall and the terror on his face, and that unless he rowed harder he would be destroyed. These kinds of images litter watchtower publications. Along with the picture given, we are told the elders used to ask "How do you know if Jehovah has forgiven you?" to which they would reply "You won't know until Armageddon, but we have to keep trying, or else we will be truly lost". What a contrast to the teaching of Jesus who said "Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest".
Later in the book Diane begins to give more insights into the Watchtowers zig zagging doctrinal positions on many medical issues, much of which are neglected by other researchers, and are invaluable information for those in the medical profession (eg: May Witnesses accept Hemodillution in lieu of a blood transfusion?). She pulls back the cloak of darkness the Watchtower doublespeak uses to confuse the media into thinking they had lifted bans, making things a matter of conscience. The 'matter of conscience' she shows us, really means "Do this and you will never ever see paradise, your family and friends will never talk to you again and Jehovah god will destroy you and you can't come into one of our Kingdom Halls again or associate with another Jehovah's Witness". Certainly an easy choice to make isn't it, especially when life hangs in the balance!.
If there's one thing this book has given me, someone who's studied and taught about the Jehovah's Witnesses for over 11 years, it's an insight into the minds, the fears, the double thinking and emotional suppression Watchtower victims suffer. I believe this is a classic and should be on the shelf of every counselor and pastor that deals with Jehovah's Witnesses, and ex Jehovah's Witnesses. To those in different countries where I have taught classes about cults, I recommend this book, not only for it's insights into Watchtower life and mindset, but for insights into any mind controlling cult, it is a classic example.
Diane, this is a masterpiece, your heart shows through this and it says to every Jehovah's Witness "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed". To any Witness who reads this review, Diane doesn't hate you, she isn't spreading propaganda, she isn't an apostate walking in darkness under the control of Satan, she wrote this because she understands you and loves you, and knows how it feels to be trapped in circular reasoning, thought suppression and fear to the point of having dangerous physical manifestations. She wrote this book out of the love of Christ that is truly in her and she wants to share with others.
Shaun Aisbitt 3/3/03
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