Wall St. Week: Jehovah’s Witnesses are Creepy (as are all religions, the word “Homeland,” pro-anorexia websites, and any tower that purports to be watching you)
September 16, 2009
Welcome to Day Three of Wall St. Week, during which I post about my new neighborhood! (Up next: pandas in the park, and the Magna Carta!)
Nearly every day, I walk to one of four Starbucks within six blocks of my building, and then I walk east to the water. I grew up in a Navy family, so we always lived near water; in Virginia Beach, every time you park your car at the mall parking lot, seagulls have their way with it while you’re inside.
From Wall St. (or the South Street Seaport), when you look across the water, you see DUMBO, the waterfront of which has of late developed many high-rise buildings which I imagine are quite convenient for people who work on Wall St. and enjoy taking a boat to work. The view of Brooklyn, however, becomes somewhat Orwellian when you get to this (Google earth photo):
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m against all religions. Religions made sense long ago, when we looked up at the sky and wondered why rain didn’t happen when we needed it, but sometimes flooded our river deltas and drowned our crops and grandparents, so we developed some theories about large, rain-controlling men in the sky and what they might want from us. An excellent question — what would they want from us? Maybe some crops, maybe some virgins, maybe for us to cut off our foreskins. Maybe they’d want from us what we want from our own children. Maybe they want us to hand out pamphlets in the subway.
So, get over it. If you’ve got an eighth grade education and the ability to walk across the street without holding your mother’s hand, you should be able to see through this stuff.
All religions tend to make me cringe and/or giggle a bit. When I see a Catholic church named Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Consecrated Sacrament of the Blessed Angels Who Are Also Virgins of the Lady of the Lake of the Blessed Blessings, I might giggle. I find it funny when Catholic high schools play each other in football games: Blessed Heart is going to BEAT YOUR ASS, Immaculate Conception!
Religious people of all stripes use terminology that would cause any self-respecting secular person to cringe. Start with “worship.” Should moderately self-actualized adults really be “worshipping”? A favorite evangelical Christian term is “dying to self” (this is viewed as a good thing — for instance, losing all your non-procreative ambition in the raising of a Quiverfull of kids promotes a useful “dying to self,” which helps you become more Christlike, which is to say that popping a dozen-plus future Christians out of your birth canal while obeying your husband for the rest of your life likely feels a lot like being nailed to a number of wooden boards while occasionally being allowed to drink from a vinegar-soaked sponge).
This is about the level of human dignity one finds on a pro-ana website, where young girls who are being sexually abused at home attempt to regain some semblance of control over their lives by posting pictures of Kate Moss as “thinspiration” and talking about ways to hide their mortification of the flesh from their parents. Just a little more suffering (and another laxative), and maybe they’ll finally be good enough.
And just to be an equal opportunity atheist: What, really, are the chances that there would be a god who specifically would demand that you dress as though you are in eighteenth-century Poland, and then go home to Borough Park to produce more Chosen People with your bald wife, who may or may not remove her terrible wig for the occasion? Do you think god might have been joking? This sounds more like the invitation to a hilarious costume party than a religion.
Oh, and here’s a hilarious/pornographic/oppressive (it really depends) quote from the Quran:
“Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like.”
(MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)
Just so everyone’s clear that I’m not picking on Jehovah’s Witnesses specifically. (Also, for the record, I really feel for poor Paris Jackson, in her new high-necked shirts and dresses, now deprived of birthday celebrations. Oh, that poor scientifically-engineered, suddenly orphaned, religiously oppressed girl).
So: “Watchtower” is just a creepy fucking name. Creepy. Remember how most of us on the seaboards of this fine nation cringed when, all of the sudden, we had a Department of Homeland Security? Who says “homeland”? Who says that? The same guy who said lebensraum, that’s who.
It gets worse. Please enjoy this Wikipedia entry for the term “faithful and discreet slave.” Apparently, various Jehovah’s Witness leaders have argued over who has the honor and privilege of being the faithful and discreet slave (it’s not entirely clear if it’s “THE” faithful and discreet slave or if — oh, goody! — we can ALL be one!)
When I imagine a faithful and discreet slave, perhaps one who is dying to self, images like this one pop to mind:
Whatever else there is to say about Jehovah’s Witnesses (refusing blood transfusions, not letting members leave, etc.) is googleable, and plenty of people have firsthand experiences to report, rather than my mere architectural commentary.
So I’ll leave with this: anything called a Watchtower is fucking creepy, even if it’s full of magnanimous unicorns preciously caring for orphaned kittens. And I don’t think this one is.