Friday, July 07, 2006

The Eternal Harvest

Just this last weekend, I woke up to a Jehovah’s Witness flyer on my front doorstep. Then, later, I found a second one at my back door. Apparently the Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t tell the different between a front door — with a mailbox, house number, porch and doorbell — and a back door that lacks these things, but the double whammy of Jehovah gave me ample time to consider this piece of tiny literature.

(click for the larger version)

First off, the drawings remind me of the ones I saw in the religion textbooks I read back in Catholic school. That much I expect. However, whoever designed this flyer made the unfortunate decision of blending the hand-painted art — which, I’ll admit, is not terrible — with photos. Regardless of the fact that the photos depict poverty, epidemics and disasters, the combo is jarring to me mostly because the realness of the photos makes the hand-painted figures at the bottom look all the more unrealistic.

I’d imagine that the photos depicting the bad things are supposed to imply that the end is nigh and that now is the as good a time as any to fall in line with God — and not just any God, the holiday-hating Jehovah’s Witness God. We have all these things, happening currently — poverty, epidemics and disasters — and we have never had them at any other point in history, so clearly God is angrier with us now than he ever has been before. The odd thing about this implication is that two of the three photos are in black in white. Maybe no one has told the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but if you want to depict current events, it’s better to do so in color photography. (Maybe if you celebrated Christmas, you witnesses, somebody would have given you a color camera.)

Furthermore, there’s this Photoshopped arrow coming from beneath poverty, epidemics and disasters and pointing towards the afterlife — literally, just right of the lake. What the hell is this supposed to mean? Are you drawing a cause-and-effect equation? Do these bad things lead you to the afterlife? You know, because they will kill you? (Oh yes, and they will kill you — you specifically, sitting in your little chair, reading this now.) If so, shouldn’t they be good? The tip of the arrow is clearly being inserted in the middle of Jehovah’s Witness heaven, so if I logically read this image, I can only conclude that the badness is being inserted right into the heart of this fuzzy-wuzzy afterlife. There’s no way in hell I’m going there.

Look a bit more now. If you’ll notice, the Jehovah’s Witness version of heaven is pretty bland. I mean seriously — this is the afterlife we’re talking about. Literally, eternal bliss in a way that our stunted human minds can’t even conceive of. Knowledge, security and inner peace, all on the highest spiritual plane. And how do these people chose to depict it? A community farm in some warmer region of Canada. Humans, still looking like humans, still wearing clothes and still doing work. (I wonder if these were the clothes they all died in.) That’s the best they can do? What’s worse, the people working in the fields have these forced smiles on their faces that give me the willies. They look lobotomized. (Although there’s something to be said for lobotomies as a route to perfect bliss.) Personally, if I had to shovel turnips as part of my eternal reward for being a good Jehovah’s Witness and sacrificing Christmas and my birthday and all that, I’d be a little miffed. At some point, after I plucked my umpteenth turnip, I’d start thinking about Sisyphus and that crew and wonder if I somehow got directed to the wrong afterlife as a result of some angelic clerical error.

So there’s that. But look a little closer at what’s going on in this image. Look at exactly who is doing all the labor in the field. It ain’t white people. No, apparently the Jehovah’s Witness version of heaven has bright Hispanic couples and jolly African-American families doing all the manual labor. That’s a little fucked up. Sure, they seem happy about it, but I’ll bet the reality of their afterlife as turnip-pluckers hasn’t yet sunk in.

“But surely the white people are working too!” you tell me. Look again. Like, really closely. In fact, you might have to open in the image in its own window and view the full-size version in order to see this. The only clearly white people — two of them in fact — are merely standing by the sparkling lake next to a mountain lion. Because, you know, that’s what white people do when they die. They tend mountain lions. Don’t piss of the white people in heaven — they’ll sic their mountain lions on you.

The capper to all this madness is that the other side — you know, the one I didn’t scan — explains that the ultimate purpose of the flyer is to get the reader to go to a Jehovah’s Witness lecture. In Long Beach. And if the route to heaven is through Long Beach, I think we all might be better off going on the other way.

9 comments:

  1. busybetsybee8:14 PM

    Maybe I should go into religious graphics so I can help these people!

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  2. Dissident JW member speaks out.
    I applaud your blog for telling it like it is.

    The core dogma of the Watchtower organization is that Jesus had his second coming 'invisibly' in the year 1914.Their entire doctrinal superstructure is built on this falsehood.

    Jehovah's Witnesses door to door recruitment is by their own admission an ineffective tactic (nobody's home). They have lost membership in all countries with major Internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.

    There is good and valid reasons why there is such an outrage against the Watchtower for misleading millions of followers.Many have invested everything in the 'imminent' apocalyptic promises of the Jehovah's Witnesses and have died broken and beaten.

    Now if you wanted to know about the quality of a product,would you listen to the seller's pitch or a longtime customer?
    ---
    Respectfully,Danny Haszard http://www.freeminds.org (consumer report on the Watchtower organization)

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  3. Terry Walstrom7:40 AM

    I was a happy-sappy Jehovah's Witness surrounded by "brothers" and "sisters" for twenty years. The END was so near you could almost hear the other fake Christians being slaughtered by Jehovah's angel of doom. But, alas! The ARMAGEDDON predicted in 1975 never happened!! False prophecy is false for a reason: it serves to keep people working to save their collective butts to avoid the destruction.
    I stopped going to meetings. (They were very boring anyway.) Eventually they disfellowshipped me and all my "righteous" bros. and sisters shunned me as though I were a Hindu Untouchable!
    What did I have to show for 20+ years of faithful service? Why-nothing but my cynical attitude toward depictions of bliss.
    JW's used to depict Jesus as beardless! They still portray him as dying--not on a CROSS, but, an upright pole (without telephone wires! :)
    The glued-on smiles are for public consumption only. Inside the Kingdom Halls they scrutinize each other's behavior for spiritual sickness that can be reported to elders for judicial actions. The Gestapo could learn from this crew.
    Every book and pamphlet offered for contribution by these door to door hucksters has the same lame messege: we are the ONLY TRUE religion and you'll die if you don't let us indoctrinate you.
    The PRETTY pictures of paradise are about as tangible as the Terorists 40 virgins in the afterlife scenarios that compels them to blow themselves up.
    JW's don't strap on bombs, they just blow off a normal and productive life in exchange for a fantasy rich in cartoon logic.
    I pity the fools; I was one once myself.

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  4. Uh, guys? You know this was posted for humor purposes, right? And that it is no way a legitmate slight against the JWs?

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  5. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Way to go Drew. Taking out the JW's with a single article. I'm so glad there are idiots who take things too seriously. They make me laugh.

    ~Nate

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  6. Anonymous3:54 PM

    Uh, I totally got it. I think they got it too - you just provided a temporary platform for their grievances :)

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  7. Anonymous8:22 AM

    You have a great sense of humor ! My favorite part was "don't piss off the white JW's in the afterlife they'll sic their mountain lions on you ! " HAHAHAHa
    From one troubled mind to another .

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  8. Anonymous9:42 AM

    I thought those were ancient Roman soldiers up there on the arrow keeping all those disasters from falling into lobotomyland...talk about mixing imagery!! hahahah

    (I loved your commentary!!)

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  9. Great and very funny work, thanks. One note from another ex-witness; what you describe as "heaven" is actually what they are expecting to take place on Earth, not in any sort of afterlife. All those happy people are pickin' pumpkins fertalized by the decomposing bodies of everyone else (including me, you, and every other non-JW on Earth), right after God comes down and bitch-slaps them into oblivion. This happy event will leave only JW's alive, to rummage through your pockets for loose change and move into your now-empty house. And then, of course, to put those hard-working "ethnic" folks back to work taking care of the grounds and clean up after the tigers.

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