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Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness    by Diane Wilson order for
Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness
by Diane Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Prometheus, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by David Pitt

In the late 1960s, Diane Wilson joined the Watchtower Society, devoting her life to the Society's teachings. Despite frequent and rather pointed indications that the Society had some fundamental ideological problems, she remained a member for nearly three decades, until her own researches convinced her the Society was, at best, seriously confused and, at worst, downright deceitful.

This is an extremely personal book; it recounts Wilson's own experiences with the Society. Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness isn't a these-people-are-evil book; it's a here's-what-I-discovered book. It's a story of a young woman searching for truth and spiritual fulfillment who discovered, well, mass confusion. In a particularly interesting couple of chapters, she details the similarities between the Society and the accepted definition of a cult, or an abusive church (control-oriented leadership; manipulation through fear or guilt; preoccupation with demons; the group's doctrines are the only Truth, even if new doctrine contradicts established Truth; and many, many other rather frightening things). She also lists several of the Society's failed prophecies -- including, of course, its prediction that Armageddon would begin in 1975 -- and charts some of the Society's doctrinal changes, as it reversed itself, and then reversed itself again, on several important ideological points.

Wilson paints a picture of the Society as an extremely confused, deeply hypocritical organization devoted mainly to the control of its members through indoctrination, intimidation, and, ultimately, the fear of everlasting disgrace. The book is one person's story -- it's probably worth pointing this out -- and it does not purport to be an objective analysis of the Watchtower Society. But, having said that, I must also say this: Wilson's central theme -- that the Society is a dangerously confused organization that strips away one's individuality and replaces it with a kind of hive mentality -- is well developed and entirely persuasive. Check the book out, and make up your own mind.

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