On Friday, April 3, 2015, I attended the Jehovah’s Witness annual memorial celebration of Christ’s death.
So of course I went! I even dressed up for the event!
The event was held at the Verdi Club, a banquet facility in Fresno. It’s a somewhat stark looking place, surrounded by a 6 foot chain link fence, It’s on a rough side of town, near the highway and train tracks.
When I and a friend arrived, security for the event was obvious, with off duty police, security guards, and people in suits and sunglasses directing traffic. I guess we were dressed sufficiently, because no one stopped us from walking into the event.
We were greeted by lots of people welcoming us into the event, and shaking hands. We found seating on the second row from the front.
The event reminded me a lot of the many hundreds of hours I’ve spent listening to a “teaching preacher”, who explained where a particular tradition came from and why we were all following it now. This was interspersed with a couple of hymns and some prayer. Very little was different from my upbringing in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, except this speaker tended to drone in a monotone. This wasn’t nearly as exciting as the worship I’ve experienced in American Baptist, Korean Baptist or Korean Pentecostal churches. It took a serious effort to distill the drone of the officiant into something I could process.
The one thing that I did find very interesting, that I did not already know, is that communion is restricted to the 144,000 who the Holy Spirit has already selected to go to Heaven. So when communion was passed around, I was interested to see that no one partook of it.
It would seem to me that partaking of communion would be a sign of hubris and narcissism by anyone who did so.
I’ve always felt somewhat indebted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, since it was a witness who got me thinking about religion in general, and that started me on my investigation of cults, and later of religions in general. That self-study of religions where I compared one to another is what led me to compare my own beliefs to what I had learned, and found just as little evidence for those beliefs as I had for all the other cults and religions I had studied.