[From ws1/16 p. 12 for March 7-13]
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable free gift.”—2 Cor. 9:15
This week’s study is really a continuation of last week’s. We are being encouraged in paragraph 10 “to look through our wardrobe, our movie and music collections, perhaps even the material stored on our computers, smartphones, and tablets” with a view to getting rid of worldly influences. Paragraph 11 encourages us to get out in the preaching work more, striving to auxiliary pioneer by putting in 30 or 50 hours in the field service. (More on this later.) The photo for paragraph 14 encourages young ones to help older ones get out in the ministry more during Memorial Season. Paragraphs 15 thru 18 speak of forgiveness, mercy and tolerating the faults of others.
For the first time, I noticed something that had escaped my attention in the past. The term “Memorial Season” is used 9 times in this magazine alone. Since when did the memorial of Christ’s death become “a season”? Other churches have their seasons. “Season’s Greetings” is used to denote the time leading up to and including the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. But there is no basis for turning the commemoration of the Last Supper into a season. When did this start?
A quick search of the use of this phrase in past issues of The Watchtower shows that it was used 6 times during the decade of the Fifties, but then for the next 42 years only occurred twice more. So for a half century, the term only appears 8 times in The Watchtower. Yet now, in a single magazine, we have 9 occurrences. With the tract campaigns and the special appeals following the Memorial discourse, the Governing Body has been using this solemn occasion as a recruiting drive and as a season for infusing new zeal in the flagging troops.
We’ve always thought of Central and South American nations as places where the need for preachers is great. I’ve recently learned that this is no longer the case in most areas. Particularly in urban areas, congregation territories are being worked to exhaustion. It is not uncommon to hear elders complain that many maps get worked weekly, some even twice a week. Yet you can be sure that in all these congregations with severely overworked territories, the brothers and sisters have dutifully filled out their auxiliary pioneer applications to have a “fuller share” during this “Memorial Season.”
What sense does it make to go back to territories so often that the work verges on harassment? How is God’s name exalted by hounding people?
That we do this indicates that the prime concern isn’t the spreading of the good news, but the maintaining of a culture of compliance. We are taught that the more we go from door to door, the more Jehovah will approve of us and the more likely we are to survive Armageddon. It doesn’t matter that our overworking of the territory actually has a negative impact on the message of the Good News. What counts is that we can “count the time.”
Of course, no one dares to suggest that any of this is ill-conceived. We are taught that all of this is being guided by Jehovah God himself. To question is to doubt. To doubt is to risk being ostracized. So all must go along pretending that the Emperor is fully clothed.