Two or Three More Years, Tops

A few years ago, I had some email exchanges with one of my uncles. One of my dad’s brothers. It largely concerned religion. In fact, once I divulged to him that I no longer believed the Jehovah’s Witnesses were “the truth,” the correspondence completely concerned religion.

In one of his final emails to me, he said…

I can’t believe that this system will go on for more than two to three years. 

He wrote that on April 23, 2007; so, six years ago this week. Already, the world has lasted twice as long as his outside guess, and his hoped-for paradise hasn’t arrived.

Every year around this time, I think about this sentence he wrote. Witnesses think the end is coming any day now, a belief they’ve had since before they were even called “Witnesses.” Back in the early 1900s, for example, they believed the end was coming in 1914. When that didn’t happen, they moved their predicted end date further and further into the future. For a time, they held on to 1925, then the Watchtower Society hinted that 1975 would be the momentous year of Armageddon. By the time I was a little kid, most Witnesses were convinced the end would arrive sometime in the 1990s; the year 2000 at the latest. I was repeatedly told I would never graduate from high school, never get a job, never need to worry about a college education and certainly never have to plan for retirement.

In fact, in the mid-1990s, I was in a car with several other Witnesses, and one of them asked us how long we all thought this world would continue. Everyone else in the car was sure the end would arrive within a year’s time. I guessed five years, and everyone gasped at the audacity I had to make such a long-term guess. They said I wasn’t thinking right, and that if I thought the end was five years away, I might lose my sense of urgency.

Turned out, I was right: Five years came and went, and the Witnesses still weren’t in paradise. Five years came and went again. And again.

Anyway, I’m not trying to rip on the Witnesses here. I just think it’s sad. My uncle is nearing his 50th birthday and yet, through all those decades, he’s been convinced that the end was right around the corner – that it would be here in two or three more years, tops.

As a dutiful Witness, he, of course, shuns me, so I haven’t spoken to him since we corresponded via email six years ago this week. Still, I wonder about him and the other Witnesses every April 23rd – does he remember saying that the world would end in three years? Does he recall how often he’s had to revise his belief of when God would destroy the world? And what about now; if I asked him, would he say he thinks the end is coming in six months, or three years, or ten years? How does he feel now that he’s lived long enough to graduate from high school, see his nephew graduate from high school, gotten married, outlived his brother, and now has to think about his impending retirement?

Like the “good” book says, expectation postponed is making the heart sick.

This entry was posted in Current Events. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Two or Three More Years, Tops

  1. Mike says:

    The real answer is that the world, (Earth) will go on until the sun dies out or goes super nova. Humans will continue to populate until we reach the Earth’s carrying capacity. Then, if we have not overheated and polluted the Earth to a point where we can’t grow food anymore, the population will stabilize at some number most likely less than we have today. Rough guess is that we have a few billion years. So, plan for retirement. And your kids retirement too.

  2. James says:

    Very true. See? All I had to do was ask you for the right answer.

  3. Barry Kennedy says:

    I’m so glad that I no longer look forward to billions of years of subsistence farming.

    Although my plan was always to build robots for that tedious shit.

  4. David says:

    I was raised as a witness and that story about witnesses misconstruing time frames is dead on. It always rubbed me the wrong way. They would encourage me to not pursue a professional career nor waste time with things like an advanced education. My father would nudge me in a direction to use my mind and there is nothing wrong with making more money if you’re going to work 8 hours a day regardless. It’s all the same amount of time right? Why not get compensated as much as possible. There was an unfortunate generation of youths who are close to the midlife point now with no savings, no career, and a feeling of resentment.

    At the end of the day I do not blame this on God but the flaws of the more unintelligent people within the organization. As a witness today I see this trend of predicting the end being right around the corner much less prevalent. As far as my children go I make it very clear to them that the end could be tomorrow, or 200+ years from now, we simply don’t know. Serving God should not be based on wishful thinking regardless or trying to anticipate something we are not entitled to know. The scriptures clearly say that “none know the day or the hour”. To even take a stab at guessing this date regardless if it is 3, 6, 10, or even 20 years out is clearly an insult to what the bible is saying, once again the problem is unintelligent people, or miserable people who have nothing else to bank on.

    I do hope that the poor judgment and flaws of others do not turn the intelligent people such as the person who wrote this article away from God’s love.

  5. James says:

    Thanks, Dave.
    Even though JWs have shied away from predicting dates in recent decades, they still do teach that the end is at hand. All the JWs I know still hold that Armageddon will commence shortly – within a few years, at most, as evidenced by my uncle’s comment, above.

    And, no, the poor judgment and flaws of others did not turn me away from god.

Comments are closed.