Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2015 Contents B9
Thursday, March 26, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Jehovah s Witnesses are looking
more like regular people every day.
Here in contemporary London, the
Jehovahs (I like to shorten their
name, it s a bit of a mouthful, isn t
it) move freely among us.
They have migrated away from
their usual environment (the
doorstep or the nondescript sub-
urban street) and they ve abandoned
their chaste, overly formal style of
dress in favour of modern clothing
manufactured by fashionable sports
brands, high street mountaineering
brands and multinational sweatshop
All of this modernising makes
me nostalgic for the old Jehovah s
women sitting in the shade of the
trees in Woodford Square with their
hats, their modest flat shoes and
thick pairs of tights, some standing,
handing out copies of Watchtower
with soul-searching titles like Have
You Ever Contemplated What It s
Like To Have Your Testes Nailed To
The Cross? And, Do Rabbits Chase
Humans Into Underground Tunnel
Networks In The Afterlife?
I would take these leaflets with
minimal persuasion. Just a courte-
ous, "something to read, sir?" and
I was sold. These were good old-
fashioned Jehovahs. Not like your
new, snazzy ones we have here in
One of the leaflets I took from
the Woodford Square posse had an
image of a couple on the front, with
echoes of Patrick Swayze and Demi
Moore in Ghost. The headline asked
a question: "Can the dead really
live again?" They always ask ques-
tions, they re extremely inquisitive
I stopped in my tracks. I was
sweating like a pig in an abattoir
and I was flummoxed. There were
three possible answers printed
underneath the question: Yes? No?
"Look here, miss," I said to the
woman. "What s the correct answer
"Well, what do you think?" she
asked, softly smiling.
"Does it mean ghosts? Or zom-
bies?" I said.
"How do you interpret it?" she
asked, still smiling. "Are you going
to answer all my questions with a
question?" I went on.
"Would you like me to give you
a straight answer?" she asked.
"Yes!" I replied.
"Yes I am," she said.
"Well, thank you for your hon-
esty," I said, "and have a pleasant
When I reached work I realised
that the leaflet s quick-fire survey
had failed to give its respondents a
"Don t know" option, which (as
any market researcher will tell you)
would result in poor completion
The leaflet, published in Brooklyn
(the Jehovah s HQ), had an online
version of the supernatural dilemma
featuring an audio recording---the
Jehovah s have embraced digital
technology as God would have
wished---but it was ultimately
inconclusive and left things on a
real cliff-hanger, referring me to
Corinthians 15:26 for further read-
ing. Ain t nobody got time for that!
Here in England, our Jehovahs
are trying to bring the kingdom of
God into the 21st century, but if
you re anything like me, you ll pine
for the days when they dressed
I came out of the tube station
the other day and there under the
brutalist architecture was a com-
pletely normal-looking man and
woman handing out pamphlets.
"Is the hospital under threat of
closure?" I wondered. "Is a new
coffee shop opening in the neigh-
bourhood?" "Oh, it s nice to see
the Green Party environmentalists
campaigning in the area..."
But no, one of them smiled at
me and I realised they were Jeho-
vahs. That classic Jehovahs smile
that can suggest, "Oh, you poor
dear: you re destined to burn in
hell, like, forever."
It s a seductive technique: a mix-
ture of madness, fear and friend-
liness. They re nice people.
You see them waiting for you
after work as the sun goes down.
They re quiet, respectful, pleasant.
They understand that no eye con-
tact means no.
I could become a Jehovah quite
happily, if it wasn t for the prohi-
bition on blood transfusions, their
belief that Satan (who controls
human governments) was cast down
to earth in 1914 and will one day
attack the Jehovah s Witnesses,
triggering Armageddon and a judg-
ment day lasting 1,000 years, their
belief that heaven is a government
ruled by Jesus and a parliament of
144,000 Christians, their belief that
gambling, drinking, drugs and non-
marital sex (especially homosexual
sex) are evil and the fact that they
inaccurately predicted the end of
the world in 1975.
I don t have a problem with the
Jehovahs other than those minor
points. But I was really put out one
Saturday morning when they
knocked on my door and we got
into a debate about evolution.
"You at least believe that
dinosaurs existed though?" I asked
the young man as the discussion
reached its peak. "Do you believe
that dinosaurs existed?" he replied.
I quietly closed the door and put
his leaflet in the recycling bin with-
out reading the question written
on the front. It was probably rhetor-
Come, Armageddon, come All of this modernising
makes me nostalgic for the
old Jehovah's women sitting
in the shade of the trees in
Woodford Square with their
hats, their modest flat shoes
and thick pairs of tights,
some standing, handing out
copies of Watchtower
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