I’m Proud I Went to College!

Contributed to AAWA by Brock Talon

I am very proud I went to college! And, in spite of what most Jehovah’s Witnesses might think, I’m sure I did the right thing.

Okay, I apologize for appearing to be “bragging.” I don’t normally do that kind of thing because I’m a private person. Very few people know anything about me or my personal business.

On the other hand, there are times when things need to be said to make a point, and that’s what I’ve done in my new book, Journey to God’s House.

What am I talking about? It’s about higher education, career fulfillment, income, net worth, equity and retirement. That’s what. These are dirty words to the average Jehovah’s Witness – but not to me. You see, I’ve had a measure of success in these areas despite growing up a Jehovah’s Witness.

I should be clear that I bring this topic up not to boast (after all – you don’t even know who I am), but to make the point that getting a higher education and pursuing a fulfilling career have been the best decisions in my life. They have brought me true satisfaction, comfort, and hope for my future. The Theocratic Ministry School did not do that for me, nor did “pioneering” or Bethel service.

Those so-called “spiritual things” the Witnesses harp on brought me absolutely nothing. Zero. Nada. In fact, they just made me feel more insecure and worried about my future as I toiled harder and harder every day at my “works-based” faith.

Nothing I’d done was truly appreciated by my fellow Witnesses because the second I stopped doing them, I was dismissed as a “spiritual loser.” I was given no credit for all the years spent doing what the Watchtower told me to do.

That’s why I bring this up. I hope to wake up some of you who are reading this – especially those in the same situation I faced 30 years ago when I was struggling with the issues of higher education, trying to earn a decent living, and striving for personal fulfillment.University Classroom

I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness from age six. That meant I was told to focus on “the real higher education: learning about God’s Kingdom.” Apologists claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses never discourage higher education, earning a good income, or searching for personal fulfillment. But I’m here to tell you that is simply not true. In fact, that’s a bald-faced lie because JWs do discourage all of these things quite successfully.

The proof is in the pudding. All you have to do is look around for yourself. Is there anyone who has been (or is going) to college in a JW congregation who is also in “good standing” or has “privileges”?

It is true that you can’t be disfellowshipped for going to college. But if you do, you’ll be “marked” by your fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses as being a “worldly, materialistic, spiritual zero” who is focused on “this old dying system of things” and not the “real life.” If that is not discouragement, then I don’t know what is.

I know this is a fact because this is what happened to me. Those apologists can claim anything they like, but in the end many JWs live their life struggling just to make ends meet and end up reaping personal problems from their lifestyle. Some of these problems include:

  • Marital strife
  • Retirement worries
  • Poor health
  • Depression and self-loathing
  • Dangerous living conditions (being forced to live in substandard neighborhoods)

In my book Journey to God’s House, I devote a chapter to this issue titled “You can lead an elder to college, but you can’t make him think.”  On those pages, I wrote about a childhood family friend who was a college professor before becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. He continued his employment as a college professor even while later serving as an “elder.” How do you think he reacted when I expressed my desire to follow his example and go to college?

If you are a JW, you know his response: He gave me the same old tired Watchtower Society speech about the “perils of higher education” and discouraged me from pursuing my goal – even though he personally made a decent living due to his earning a college education.

What really got my goat was what I learned when I was serving at Bethel. I discovered that the Watchtower Society considered the few people there who had higher educations and successful careers (physicians, lawyers, computer professionals, etc.) to be more valuable than the “peon nobodies” like me who lacked an advanced education.

Prominent Jehovah’s Witnesses serving at Watchtower Headquarters…

Those smart people either pursued their education and careers before they became Witnesses – or they ignored the Watchtower’s “counsel” and did it in spite of being JWs. While fellow JWs in their congregations secretly admired them, they didn’t dare say so openly.

I also noticed that those in the congregations who started businesses (often doing so against the advice of their pious elders) were expected to help other JWs when those businesses become successful.

This observation motivated me to leave Bethel and to get an education. I wanted to do more with my life than working menial jobs waiting for “The New System” to arrive and save me from my miserable existence.

I did get an education and I’ve never been more pleased about making that decision. I wake up every day loving my job; sometimes it doesn’t even feel like “work” to me. The fact that I earn decent money allows me to donate more to my church and to give money to other charities – something I was never encouraged to do as a Witness. I can take care of my family better and even help my extended family. I also pay more taxes (which helps society in general). I find this better than being some poor dude barely scraping by – who himself taxes the system and forces others to help him.

Really – I have to work full-time to earn a living, so why shouldn’t I engage myself in an occupation I enjoy? How does being broke and working every day in a tedious brain-dead job bring praise or honor to anyone?

If you think I’m bragging, then sadly, you’ve missed my point. So yeah, I pursued higher education and can now make a comfortable living doing what I love. And yeah, I have a decent net worth, my retirement is well funded, and my house is roomy. My family also enjoys excellent medical attention and gets plenty to eat.

And you know what? I think God loves me anyway.


Brock Talon's book“Brock Talon” has published a book about his experiences serving at the Bethel headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses would expect that serving at Bethel would be exciting and one of the highest honors they could ever achieve. Brock makes it clear in his memoir that when he served at Brooklyn Bethel in the 1980s he found it to be anything but life in a “godly paradise.” In fact, he noticed that it was often exactly the opposite for both young volunteers and old timers. You can order the book and find several excellent reviews at Amazon.com and at WatchtowerWatch.com.


Comments

I’m Proud I Went to College! — 19 Comments

  1. “How does being broke and working every day in a tedious brain-dead job bring praise or honor to anyone?” You can say that again! Great article Brock! BTW, what exactly are you doing with your education now?

    • I don’t usually give too many details on my private life for many reasons, but in general terms I have an executive title with one of the largest and most influential companies in the world. If I said it’s name you would know it instantly as you may even own its stock, that is, if you hold any of the common mutual funds. Sorry for being cryptic, but this is necessary as I have successfully “faded” from the Watchtower Society’s grip and would like to stay anonymous. Listen to my interview on JWStruggle’s YouTube channel for more details on my life and why I wish to remain known only by my pen name Brock Talon.

  2. Very well stated & considering at the age of 16 , I was discouraged from higher education as the end was nigh………am now 60 & regret listening to the doom merchants………well done you!

  3. I was raised in the WatchTower Society since I was Two Years of age. I went to College to get an education. I left the WatchTower when I was 18 years of age finally fed up with the talk about Har Mageddon.

  4. JWs are like all relgeons (but worse? maybe.) It seems you have in extracting yourself fron one slavery have only exchanged slave boss.
    You don’t mention Jesus as being in your life at all (at least from the small glims of your life now, that you have shared).
    What/who Organised religeons fail to do is to promote Jesus as a one to one relationship and very personal at that – above all else.
    I wish you well: don’t lose sight of the end of days in which we are ALL involved.
    Talk to a JW about UFOs and pope the coming signs in Heaven as regards the blood- moons of 2016/16: the immediate re-action is to quote Brooklyn.
    Without JWs and all the rest of them: you/I still need the Bible (King James seems best, maybe, but that is another subject) PLUS the news-media
    so as to watch (as Jesus said)
    Regards

    • What? Your comments indicate that you do not have enough background with JW’s to be making such judgmental assumptions. Let the man be proud of this incredible accomplishment. Also, the very last two places I would turn to for reliable information would be the bible and the media, just saying. But I learned that in college, lol.

  5. Good for you and when I was a witness I furthered my education though never getting a degree. As a single mom I had to do this in order to survive because of health problems I could not do house cleaning and janitorial like many witnesses do. Now after leaving the cult I am trying to get back to work and wonder if I should consider some additional schooling to make myself more marketable in the work force. Thank you for your encouraging story and it will benefit many to read it. <3

  6. I don’t mind bragging….. a little. I left at age 171/2 for 6 months I endured extreme shunning in my own home. Then on my 18th Birthday I was kicked out. Still in HS, I graduated on my own, on time. Last year in December at 45 I obtained my Nursing degree. On my own, without a family to love and support me. I think a little bragging rights are earned, as some people may not understand how difficult some of these things can be with no family to speak of. I did however have my son for encouragement. 🙂

    • debbzdays, you indeed have every right to brag. What an accomplishment. If you would like to tell this story in 1,000 to 2,000 words, we would love to share it with the world and celebrate along with you. Love what you have accomplished.

    • That’s wonderful, debbzdays!! Congratulations on a spectacular achievement. I, too, went to school when I turned 40. Getting that degree came with a tremendous sense of pride. I credit some of my college classes for helping me expand my worldview beyond the scope of what I’d learned as JW. It gave me critical thinking skills, logic, and true reasoning. I highly recommend it 🙂

  7. I was raised as a witness from age 4, baptized at 11, then publicly reproved several times for kissing boys at 13, for which I was removed from school. I was found repentant and was allowed to “remain in good standing within the christian congregation”. I finished my schooling at home and had my diploma at 16 out of sheer boredom. I pioneered from 17-18 and by 20 I was on a mission to experience every single thing I was not allowed to do, which of course was quite an undertaking.

    I am ecstatic to read your article and I hope you don’t mind that I “brag” with you. I also went to college and I finally have a graduation date of Spring 2015! Mind you, I have been in and out of classes since 1999, all of those other sins I had to commit distracted me from my education at times.

    My first GE class was philosophy because, well they told us not to. I absorbed that class like a dry sponge left in the desert sun. The term “worldly” took on a whole new meaning. I have never been happier, craved knowledge so passionately or been so enthralled with life and everything around me.

    It took years for the “what if they are right” voice to silence, and occasionally I can still feel the emotion of that belief even though I stopped thinking it. Nevertheless, with all of the words I have learned in college, none are sufficient to describe my gratitude for my mental freedom. Education has set me free!

    I am nearly as grateful for this article, thank you for writing it! I know I made the right decision to pursue my education despite the odds, but it feels so good to hear this confirmation from someone ahead of me on this wide road to destruction. =)

    • Liveuniquely: Writing this was my pleasure and I’m glad it found a place in your heart.

      Keep on that road, not to destruction, but the one of knowledge to “make sure of all things”. JWs quote that all the time, but they don’t really want you to.

      The folks here at AAWA and I do however.

  8. I was raised as a witness from age 4, baptized at 11, then publicly reproved several times for kissing boys at 13, for which I was removed from school. I was found repentant and was allowed to “remain in good standing within the christian congregation”. I finished my schooling at home and had my diploma at 16 out of sheer boredom. I pioneered from 17-18 and by 20 I was on a mission to experience every single thing I was not allowed to do, which of course was quite an undertaking.
    I am ecstatic to read your article and I hope you don’t mind that I “brag” with you. I also went to college and I finally have a graduation date of Spring 2015! Mind you, I have been in and out of classes since 1999, all of those other sins I had to commit distracted me from my education at times. Nevertheless, with all of the words I have learned in college, none are sufficient to describe my gratitude for my mental freedom. Education has set me free! I have never been happier, craved knowledge so passionately or been so enthralled with life and everything around me.
    I know I made the right decision to pursue my education despite the odds, but it feels so good to hear this confirmation from someone ahead of me on this wide road to destruction. =)

  9. The society never says that you shouldn’t go to college. Maybe in the 70’s they did try to steer young people to serve where the need is greater. As a matter of fact, i don’t know of a single person whom was ever dis-fellowship for attending college. Look, i was raised in the truth, and even though i don’t attend the meetings anymore, at least i know that Jehovah’s Witnesses try to live there lives as closes to the teachings as possible.
    Look i have questions on a couple of things, and i do research on it myself and see what i find out. but just like any organization there are ups and downs. But honestly what teachings do JW’s preach that is totally against what the bible states?

    They don’t worship idols, try to keep the congregation clean and look out for one another. Yes they do kick people out of there religion and yes some parents take it to far. But don’t blame the society for what your parents have done with you. I myself will D.F. when i was younger and of course my parents never kicked me out. Now if i lived there at home and started acting a fool about what my parents believed in, then i am sure that they would have kick me out also.

    What is it that makes everyone here hate JW”s for? What teachings do they believe in that just really upsets everyone? That i don’t get. There is something more here than the teachings of Jehovah Witnesses.

    • Robert, you sound very young, and a little confused. If you really believe “The Society” has the “The Truth”, why are you avoiding it by missing their meetings?

      My article stated specifically that you could not get DF’ed for going to college, but that does not mean it is not discouraged. Are you that type of apologist I was talking about in the article, the kind that deny the “truth” about the “Organization’s” apposition to higher eduction? I hope many more here will chime in and back me up with their own experiences of being marked, shunned, ridiculed, harassed, talked down to and otherwise pressured to avoid “worldly pursuits” like college.

      Please read my book and you will see that I do not hate Jehovah’s Witnesses as individuals. I believe many of them to be sincere. It’s just that I don’t believe the Bible states anywhere that we should be followers of a few old men who make up and run an “Organization” or “Society” such as the one you are defending. My book will open your eyes to what it is like at this Headquarters. I’ve lived there and worked side by side with Governing Body members and folks who wrote the Watchtower, so I would know about this more than you.

      You need to continue reading on this site and others like SilentLambs.org and FreeMinds2.org, all contributed to by ex-Bethelites with even more experience there than I had. These will help you to understand the hurt that this group has caused and continues to inflict on innocent, trusting people.

      If you don’t want to do that kind of research, then you can always start going back to meetings, begin pioneering and finally apply for and go to Bethel like I did. But, when you get out from there years later, please contact me on my Facebook page so we can talk as equals about what it’s really like at “God’s House”.

    • – One doctrine the Bible teaches is “Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you.” My JW daughter has not spoken to me for 2 years as she practices “shunning”.
      – They have added to the Bible, which is a NO NO, by putting their own additions to their New Bible release at the annual meeting.
      – They practise “theocratic warfare”, which is lying to those who they feel do not deserve to know the truth.
      – They let brothers die in Malawai years ago for not buying a government card, while in Mexico they allowed the brothers to buy one. That was not fair.
      I will not bore you with more details, just continue to research. Look up “Candace Condi” on Google. You will be amazed at what you find.

  10. [Name removed at poster’s request]
    No one is “being held back” from reading your comments. However, your previous comments were blocked because they violated several of our Comment Guidelines. They were not on the subject of the above article, and they were excessively long and rambling, Before you post again, please read the Comment Guidelines (you can find the link in the right sidebar and also under ABOUT AAWA in the top menu). This is not the place for you to tell the world about everything that happened to you while you were a Jehovah’s Witness. If you feel you have a worthwhile story to tell, then email it to me at webmaster@aawa.co – or write a book. Please do not use the article comments in the future for writing your autobiography.

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