Saturday, 14 September 2013

Journey To God's House - Brock Talon #jehovahswitnesses

A light-hearted but bitter look at the (then) Jehovah Witness headquarters in Brooklyn, New York in the 1980s, Journey To God's House can't help but be interesting.

The HQ, known as Bethel, is described in grim detail in a series of vignettes. For all its claims to godliness Bethel seems very "worldly" (which is how we unbelievers are described by followers of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society), with its very corporate way of working and instances of very human power struggles and jealousy.

Talon's (not his real name) writing style is jokey and sarcastic. He writes well but his style isn't really my style. That said he does come across as believable and his insights into the flawed humanity of those who profess to be holier than others is something that is often missed in more academic or clinical descriptions of religious institutions.

This is not a chronological memoir, and it jumps about a lot as Talon explores individual aspects of life at Bethel (such as alcoholic consumption or "Watchman duty"). And Talon's perspective, whilst interesting, is that of (and I don't mean this offensively) someone who wasn't part of the decision making processes at Bethel which is what I really want.

The similarities between his experiences and those of Scientologists working at Int. Base are fascinating. The poor pay, the isolation and the physical labour expected of even those who are injured or sick are all there.

Despite not meeting my hopes, Journey To God's House helps remind everyone that even the most "godly" are human and that all authority should, at the very least, be questioned and never blindly accepted.

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