In the land of the "passion fruit" Eaters
The story of George
A short time after my return to the Orthodox faith, I decided to baptize a child of a former ‘witness’. This child was born in the ‘Watchtower’ organization and his parents had begun to raise him with the teachings of the organization. However, when his father was disfellowshipped for ‘apostasy’, he began to teach his son the Christian Gospel; at the time, Little Alexander was approximately three years old. The child’s mother, born in the ‘watchtower’ organization, never expressed the desire or the interest to find out the dogmatic reason that caused her husband to leave the organization. During every one of his attempts to tell her something, she responded with strong rejection reacted very negatively, which caused this man to abandon his attempts to enlighten her about his faith. The child however was attentive to him and he would often ask questions about different aspects relating to his father's new faith.
When he turned nine years old, he expressed the desire to be baptized in the Orthodox faith, and an Orthodox godfather needed to be found. Thus, I offered to baptize this child, being well aware of the potential problems that could surface in this idiorythmic family caught between two religions. My main dilemma was that I did not have the opportunity to see the child very often, because his father needed to work all day to provide for his family. Consequently, the child was under the constant supervision of his mother, who would never consider allowing the child to be in his godfather's company without the presence of the child’s father. Not withstanding all this, the baptism took place and the child was growing up as an Orthodox Christian.
He vehemently opposed attending the ‘Jehovah's Witnesses’ gatherings, despite the constant pressure he endured from his mother and her environment. In reality, he was relieved to be spared the unbearable martyrdom of the homilies and the boring fellowship of the ‘witnesses’. My contact with him was reduced to a mere formality, as I was unable to meet and spend as much quality time spiritually as I would like.
Despite all of this, I was happy to hear that he was progressing well in the faith. Thus, the young man reached his sixteenth birthday. Everything seemed to be good and natural about him and his father Odesseys felt confident and proud for his son. Especially since the child seemed to have developed an ‘immunity’ to the provocations of the followers of the ‘watchtower’.
At that time, by the orchestration of a very satanic plan, something slowly began to change. Everything was so expertly designed and masterminded that nothing was perceived before the damage was done. Alexander's family lived in a high-rise apartment building occupied by families of ‘watchtower’ followers, the only exception being Alexander and his father. This meant that excluding school hours, people of this heresy constantly surrounded this child. Odesseys was working constantly for seven years, morning until evening, having very little chance for quality time with the child. Often he could only meet him at different hours when the child needed to do schoolwork or sleep.
Once or twice a week he took Alexander to work with him, there he could discuss some substantial spiritual matters or at least have a father to son conversation. The young man was never in the company of other Orthodox, with the exception of school recesses. He socialized exclusively with followers of the ‘watchtower’. However, this did not seem to worry his father. He knew that whatever happened, whatever they would tell him, Alexander would ask him and get the necessary answer. Besides, he already had told Alexander plenty of things all these years; he was well informed about the subject of his father’s disfellowship.
Then one year came by where things took a different turn. Certain events began to roll along one after the other, in such an accelerated pace that did not leave much room for any reaction. A financial crisis forced Alexander's father to deprive his family even from that little time he had dedicated for them previously. He could only see them on Sundays, and this compelled to reduce his weekly church attendance with his son, so he could devote some time to his wife who was constantly complaining of neglect.
To make his wife feel less neglected, he was more than agreeable to come home late at night sometimes, because she had invited ‘witnesses’ to his home for some party. You see, being disfellowshipped, he was not permitted to participate in such a party (nor did he have any desire for such an event). Thus that year these ‘parties,’ called ‘socials’ by the followers of the ‘watchtower’, increased to the point of having them during weekdays. Dancing, singing, outings, movies, entertainment centers was the daily preoccupation of the club created by the ‘witnesses’ of this high-rise, along with some other friends and families of their religion from other areas.
Simultaneously, Alexander’s increased responsibilities with tutorial classes and school did not allow him to help his father at work. Consequently, in his social activities and daily routine, besides school, he was exclusively in the company of the ‘witnesses’. Every week he was invited to participate in the soccer match of the team created by the area ‘witnesses’. The months were passing and Odesseys was hoping that his financial crisis would soon end, so he could find time to dedicate to his son once again. Unfortunately, constant necessities for many months did not allow this day to appear anytime soon, resulting into the continuation of the same circumstances.
I was helplessly witnessing this entire scene, until one Alexander told his father:
"Dad, should I start a Scriptural study with Janos?”
This question took Odesseys by surprise. “- What are you saying? You will allow yourself to be taught by a heretic?”
“- Why? Should I not see what the ‘Witnesses’ have to say?” asked Alexander.
“- What were we saying all these years? Have we not talked about so many things? Was I not a ‘witness’? Do you know how many times I held a ‘scriptural study’ for others on the book ‘You can live’? If you want to know what they believe, would I have a problem telling you? I could even analyze all our differences with them. Must you place yourself under the authority of a heretic in a ‘Scriptural study’ to be convinced of this? Furthermore, if they wish, you know that I am more than ready for them to hold such a study in my presence, one on one, on equal ground. However, they will never accept this from one who was disfellowshipped. Why must you accept to do the same thing with some heretic?” He asked him.
“- Well, the idea of studying with you does not fill me with enthusiasm. I want to study with Janos!” Alexander replied.
Odesseys saw a well-known look in the eyes of his son. He had seen this very same look in many other ‘proselytes’ of the ‘watchtower’. I have also seen this look many times, in such ‘proselytes’ and I understood very well what Odesseys was describing to me. It is the look of escape, the look of blind acceptance of certain things, without the disposition to seriously search. It is the look of a man whose mind is made up; he cannot be budged by any argument or logic, regardless how much one tried. Odesseys surmised that his son had already decided to enter the organization of the ‘watchtower’. He understood that whatever he would say would be meaningless and his son needed to make his ‘rounds’ before he would once again find the way of Christ.
Despite all this, he wished to search this situation a little further. He wanted to look into the psychology of his son, because he had run into similar cases of blindness; however, he never had the opportunity to analyze the person. Now he understood that regardless of how painful this would be, he needed to squash hi pain in order to research the emotions and the drives of the child objectively. He even thought that perhaps God was giving him an opportunity to ‘gain’ some special experience from this ordeal. If the results of this experience could be committed to paper and some how drew peoples attention, the loss of his child would become the cause of salvation for some other people.
“- Is there something that makes you object with the Orthodox doctrine?” he asked him.
“- Nothing at all!” Alexander replied.
“- Then, what makes you want to study a heresy with some heretical teacher?” He asked him.
“- Look dad, if I had grown in this family the way we were from the beginning, all of us would be ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’. Had not told me the mistake of the organization, I would now believe in this organization with all my heart. I would be doing homilies like my friends, I would be on the streets with them, I would go to the conventions. Now however, with everything I know, I have difficulty believing them, and I want to believe them!” The young man began to open his heart.
Odesseys would prefer to be dead than hear these words; however, he tightened his heart and continued to ask:
“- With everything you know that is wrong in there, why do YOU WANT to believe in a heresy? What do you find missing from the church?”
“- Many things! I miss the company I enjoy with the ‘witnesses’. I miss the homilies, the conventions, and in general the lifestyle of the ‘witnesses’. I don't like the Byzantine muric of the Church. I don't like the ancient Greek language. I find the way of the ‘witnesses’ more fitting to my tastes. Their lifestyle expresses me better,” the young man answered.
“- Did you see what the last issue of the ‘watchtower’ was saying? I think you read them. It was saying in some article that religion is a very serious matter, for you to choose according to your tastes. It even showed a picture with various foods saying that religion is not some food for you to choose according to your personal taste, but based on God's truth!”
“- I read that issue but not this article! It did not interest me!” Odesseys answered back. “In reality, the truth does not interest me! I'm only interested to have a good time with my company of friends,” the young man said with all sincerely.
Odesseys had already understood what was happening. Alexander was completely influenced by his environment. He was not missing truth, he was not missing knowledge he did not lack answers; what he was missing was COMPANIONSHIP. Inside the church, he felt completely alone. Without Christian friends, he was a stranger among strangers, without the sense of the ‘ecclesiastical community’, indispensable to each one of us.
Although Odesseys felt the same way, this was not a great concern. The priority in his life was the truth and the will to place his placement of his entire life in the hands of God. However, the child lacked the necessary maturity to think along these lines. In addition, some friend observed very meaningfully at some point: "I wouldn't want to be alone, even if I were in Paradise"
“- Which is your (soccer) team?” Odesseys asked
“- Panathenaikos!” Alexander said with a guilty and perplexed smile, and he added “.... Now”
“- I see! I knew you to be a fan of Olympiakos, and quite fanatical! What is the team of Janos?” Odesseys asked again, who had understood well what was happening.
“- Panathenaikos!” the child answer again with the same guilty smile.
He did not question his father however about these unrelated questions. He understood very well the reason behind his father’s question. He understood very well his father had already entered his psychological state and he was analyzing him, he understood very well what the underlying meaning behind these questions was. He did not try to deny this, that's why he did not react at all, nor did he try to pretend ignorance. Perhaps he was acknowledging, at the time, that his father was trying to make him see that all these were the result of a blind attachment towards a man named Janos, whom Alexander had elevated to a ‘role model’.
“- Do you remember the story of the passion fruit eaters from mythology?” asked Odesseys.
“- Yes, but how is this relevant?” Alexander asked with sincere interest this time.
“- During the time where the companions of the sea-battered Odesseys while eating the passion-fruits they desired to stay there refusing to return to their country and Odesseys had to take them from there by force...,” his father continued, as though he did not hear his question.
“- So what?” said Alexander with some impatience.
“- What do you believe? Did Odesseys act well by taking them away or should he leave them behind, since that is what they desired due to the influence of the passion fruits?” he finally asked.
“- He was wrong to take them! He should have let them stay! Since they liked it there, he should have let them stay!” Alexander answered very spontaneously and stubbornly.
Odesseys was questioning if he heard well. Was it possible, such voluntary blindness from his son! He was also observing the overall attitude of Alexander, to analyze him correctly. He wanted to see his entire psycho synthesis.
“- Do you remember the film ‘Truman Show’ that we watched a few days ago? How an entire city lived and revolved around Truman, in fabricated fake roles, inside a lie, a delusion? Truman was the protagonist; he was the only genuine person. All others acted hypocritically. They were speaking to him, they were greeting him and nothing was real. At some point, he acknowledged that he was the only authentic protagonist in such a well-fabricated scenario, where even his wife was not truly his. Yet, he was the protagonist. From the moment he discerned all this, he could have lived inside this farce the rest of his life, in a financially secure future, pretending along with everyone and continuing the life of a happy protagonist; it would be the easiest thing! However, he spurned all this fanfare; he exited the city they had fabricated around him, choosing a future of uncertainty. Do you believe that he should have gone along pretending inside this mythical city?” By this Odessey attempted again to jumpstart the conscience of his son.
“- No, here he had a beautiful woman watching for him outside! He loved her and he needed to go out!” Alexander said.
“- What if the young lady did not exist, if he hadn't met her? Should he continue to live a lie?” he asked him again.
“- Yes! He should have stayed!” Alexander answered.
Odesseys now knew well the psycho synthesis of his son. He could not detect a trace of love for research and truth in the boy’s soul, at least not at this time. This was quite sudden, because a few months prior he remembered his sons’ views to be very different during their discussions.
Back then, his son had an unquenchable thirst for the lives of the saints, about illumination and theories, and a certain evening they were up discussing past midnight. Now however, a sudden and unexpected change had overtaken the psychology of the child. Therefore, his father wanted to get to the heart of the matter.
“- Tell me then Alexander: Can you knowingly live inside a lie, the lie of the ‘witnesses’? How can you bare it?” He asked with justified indignation.
“- I am not like you. I don't have any pangs of conscience, no guilt at all. I can do it! Furthermore, I will try to forget everything you have taught me up to now. I already began to forget much. I will try to believe what the ‘witnesses’ say, so I can be upright with my conscience!” This was the answer, which ratified the decision of the child to join the "watchtower" organization.
Odesseys reassured Alexander that he would always be eager to help him return to the church. When his maturity will lead him toward this, he would need to dismiss all doubt or shame, and remember that Christ as the father of the prodigal will always be waiting. Christ will even ‘rush’ to embrace him before he comes to the door of the faith.
Since then, Alexander began to participate regularly at the gatherings of the ‘witnesses’ to apparently carry out his desire for the ‘scriptural study’ with Janos. Towards the evening, he was returning home, well dressed with a tie like one of their ‘clones’, and he seemed fully satisfied to hear the praises of the ‘witnesses’ for his insight to join the organization.
Some evening, his father who did not fail to tease him, said to him:
“Welcome my ‘clone’! What do I see? Do you like to be dressed up like this?”
“- Yes, the other day some of my friends saw me and they said: What a cool suit! I like being like this!” he said full of enthusiasm.
“- What exactly do you like about this?” Odesseys asked.
“- How would I know? I just like it!”
“- So you like to show off! You like to show off your great clothes, to be debonair! However, did you ever consider the main root of this desire? Doesn't it sprout from egocentrism and pride?” he asked him.
“- Well yes, but so what?”
“- Do you see where the organization concentrates its stakes? To the lower instincts of man, in order to enslave him. The organization does not elevate him spiritually, it lowers him; it increases his pride and egocentrism, in contrast to the church” he answered him.
“- Why didn't you like this some time ago?” Alexander asked.
“- Of course I liked it when I was your age, but not anymore!” Odesseys responded.
“- You are a strange man!” Alexander said and Odesseys was questioning which one of them was strange...
At different times, Odesseys was observing his sons expressions, even his smile, which began to look more and more like the crooked smile of Janos. One day at the soccer field along with the team formed by the known clique of Janos another team came to play made up from young ‘witnesses’ who did not come to the religions gatherings any longer. When Alexander returned home, he told his mother:
“Athanasis's ‘bunch’ was also there!”
“- Did Jano's ‘bunch’ play with them?” Odesseys asked with meaning. to be certain that his son got the ‘message’, when they were alone together, he explained to him that he shouldn't allow the mindset of the organization to influence him to such a degree, where it would destroy his personality, separating people to ‘bunches’ and groups of ‘spiritual’ and ‘non-spiritual’. He advised him to maintain the Christian humility, for which he heard about so many years and not to become one of the Pharisees of the organization. His advice however was not heard. A few months later, the destructive termite of the organization totally infested the child’s personality. Odessyes saw his son being re-shaped by the most disgusting elements he had.
Odesseys saw the worst and most disgusting elements he had known in the organization take root and reform his son’s life. He was seeing his son turn into a spineless peon of the organization, comparable only to the youth of Hitler's Germany. His countenance had lost the Christian humility and it adopted an apparent vainglory. His actions were all egotistical the sole purpose was self-gratification, his words arrogant and egotistical. Eventually his visit to his elderly and homebound grandmother who misidentified herself from the organization became sparse. Some day, compelled by his father, he entered her home to see her; she complained to him that his visits were progressively sparse. His answer to her was:
“I love you, but I was shown a letter of the organization stating that we must not visit our disfellowshipped relatives who don't reside in the same home as us.”
Odesseys had interpreted the versus used by the organization to bolster their tactics against those disfellowshipped many times in the presence of his son who had confessed even after his voluntary enslavement that he did not agree with these tactics. Odesseys never expected to hear these words from his son’s mouth. He approached his son when they were home alone and told him:
“At some point you told me that you wished to become a ‘witness’ because the organization makes you ‘a better person’. You can see how ‘better of a person’ you became by refusing to go see even your sick and homebound grandmother, because they showed you this tactic in some tent of the organization.”
“- I am saddened by this, but since I became a ‘Jehovah's witness’ this is what I must do. Moreover, in matters of faith I don't want to have any discussion with you.”
“- If this saddens you, then show it by your actions. Hurting your grandmother is a broader matter than matters of faith; and if it is a matter of faith, since you claim that you accept only the Holy Scripture, show me where you find these things in the Scriptures?”
“- No further discussion!” said Alexander, and he walked away to an adjoining room.
“- Look at the mirror to see how much of a better man you were transformed by the organization! Only vipers and children of the serpent hurt their parents this way!” his father had the opportunity to tell him this being totally disappointed by the malice of his son and beginning to fully reconsider how destructive and antichristian this organization happens to be despite the claims of its members.
I believe the above to be indicative, in order to help make understood what I'm about to briefly try to present next about some new methodology of the ‘watchtower’ organization implemented in the last few years. This pertains to ‘the method of the clubhouse’.
In the past decades, where we at least got to know the ‘watchtower’ organization on a first hand basis, there was a certain fear among the families of the ‘witnesses’: Be aware that our children do not become influenced by the "glitter" of this world and apostacize from the path of God, to delight in the pleasures of the world. At that time, it was rare, even scandalous, for a ‘witness’ to indulge in parties. The basic preoccupations of the ‘witnesses’ of the ‘watchtower’ needed to be ‘the work of faith’ and the ‘search of the truth’. This paradigm however began to change slowly. The truth was no longer marketable for the ‘watchtower’. Especially since the era of mass communication presents great difficulties to impostors. The preaching was not bad, but the followers were fed up with it.
The world became more and more enchanting; new morals and new customs. The Paradise of bliss, the center of the sermon of the ‘witnesses’, was exchanged for the search of this enjoyment in their earthly life. Slowly but steadily, from the decade of the 80's the ‘Watchtower’ began to push its followers towards a new way of life. Ever so gently at the beginning it proceeded to make accustomed to its groups the home ‘fellowships’, this would counteract the ‘missed’ parties of the world, which ‘fatally attracted’ the children instigated the constant ‘salivation’ of the children of the ‘witnesses’.
With a pseudo-spiritual, gloss over these ‘fellowships’ began to be established as a most habitual form of entertainment to the circles of the ‘Watchtower’. Simultaneously, the establishment of amateur soccer teams of the ‘witnesses’ also began to take root. Consequently, it was no longer necessary for a ‘witness’ to leave and go to the outside ‘world’ to live his life with various entertainments. The ‘Watchtower’ succeeded to bring the ‘"world’ inside its walls!
By this strategy, it did not only retain its members but it accomplished one more thing; a "witness" branded by the organization as ‘unproductive’ would feel not only as an ‘intruder’ but even ‘undesirable’ by the present party. Furthermore, the ability to attend these parties as ‘spiritual brothers’ provided extra points to your social ‘image’ from those around you. Consequently, a ‘spiritual brother’ who is constantly referring to ‘the Organization of Jehovah’ and such, would be the ‘center of attention’ in these gatherings the rest would be ‘missing out’. Therefore, in order to participate in these parties with the organizations elite they needed to uphold this image of the ‘spiritually energized brother’. Simultaneously these closed communities create an ‘environment of mystique’ intriguing to those outside. And while sometime ago the ‘witnesses’ were fearing lest their children become drawn to the world to enjoy its ‘pleasures’, now the children of the world are in danger of finding themselves in such a closed community of entertainment.
If we want to be truthful, we must admit that the organization of the ‘witnesses’ has lately been altered to a community of entertainment. In all the programs, from those of instruction gatherings do the programs of fellowship and men's soccer, the overall agenda centers in maintaining the members of the ‘Watchtower’ well satisfied within the environment of the organization and in attracting new members. As someone observed very accurately recently ‘the method of the new world Order’", namely ‘bread and entertainment’ is carried out with great success in the ranks of the ‘Watchtower’.
The organization uses entertainment to lull its followers, to disorient them from the truly important matters to mundane matters (what we will eat and drink today, when will we play soccer, and what clothes will I show off at the upcoming meeting’). The gatherings of the ‘Watchtower’ have become a huge international showcase; with the new paradigm the ‘Watchtower’ succeeds in maintaining it members fully occupied and well pleased. It attracts new members at its ‘clubs’ by investing in the lower instincts of its members. Initially it invests in their egotism and egocentrism, since they all strive to DISPLAY their great new wardrobes, their athletic capabilities, their spiritual expressions, their extensive missionary deeds, their eloquent homilies, their new homes and automobiles, their upcoming vacation plans and to display their delicious meals during their "fellowships".
The "Watchtower" shows no concern about the spiritual down face caused to its members by all these vainglorious activities. For the organization, this is a numbers game and what is of importance is the increase of these dead numbers. It has created for everyone of its members a huge "Truman Show", an artificial land of plenty, where everything is supposedly available: Entertainment, sports, showing off, opportunities of personal advancement, artificial (and of course fraudulent) spiritual assurance from the upcoming destroyer of the worlds God Jehovah, where everyone can find some sector to ‘be put on the pedestal’. What is he yearning for? Food? Drinks? Sports? Flaunting of financial success? Acceptance as ‘Knowledgeable’? Does he desire the area of public speaking, to be an orator? Does he wish to be in a position of authority as a ‘presbyter’ even when in his everyday life he maybe a simple street cleaner or a glass peddler? Does he desire visual entertainment? (No problem, the ‘Watchtower’ has its own impressive videos, but if someone wants something more, the movie theaters will do just fine).
You name it and its there. Even matchmakers are busy at work at every gathering and great convention of the ‘people of God’. My godson Alexander fell in such a trap and he left to enter the ‘world of the watchtower’. He knowingly sought out to live inside a ‘Truman Show’, in a land of ‘passion fruit eaters’ where the criterion is not truth and the relationship with God nor humility and love, but entertainment, pride and ostentation: He chose the false feeling of "self worthiness" within an artificial world of hedonism where pleasure is conveniently combined with salvation.
There is a certain ‘threshold’ in the heart of some people. Once they cross over it, logic ceases to function, and neither arguments nor truths have any place there; there is only a place for the gratification of the flesh and the ‘I want’. When you speak to those who crossed this threshold, you will be seeing a strange look in their eyes: The look of a man who is afraid, who is annoyed to tear down the artificial word he designed for himself. He does not want to learn. He does not want to disturb his comfort zone. He does not want to face the truth. He wants to see everything through the glasses of the organization. Moreover, if you attempt to "analyze" him in the least in this area you will become annoyed with you and tell you directly or indirectly: "Stop looking in my mind and in my heart". Allow me to live out the myth I created for myself. Let me live the way I chose. Do not sow any doubts inside me. I hate guilt.
My experience with these people has shown me that they will DEFINATELLY proceed to the life of heresy they chose, and this is not limited to the heresy of the ‘Watchtower’. It is futile to present arguments to them, because they will simply forget instantly everything you tell them.
However, the Lord is the ‘good shepherd’ (John 10:1), and there is hope! I saw many people, who chose such a land of the passion fruit eaters to go forward with their decision and to become assimilated there disregarding logic and knowing in advance that many things inside were wrong. They did not want to listen. I saw many of these same people approach me years later, after they got their "kicks" and to ask for help, fed-up from this lie and hypocrisy. Because the time comes where some understand the vanity of all these and they seek their father again, the one who they abandoned to dive into the exciting hedonistic lifestyle of this world.
They return in repentance to the fully illumined house of the church and then they finally appreciate the things they considered common and insignificant in their early years. Then with many tears, they yearn for those lost years, the years that cannot be recaptured. Additionally, they face reality with not only the weight of the true life, but with the baggage they now carry inside them from the time they were feasting on the carob pods and the passion fruits of a well staged theatrical play.
Let us keep praying my brothers, for all these people, so God may give them repentance and a quick return, because they are also our brothers.