Falling in Truth
You are reading Falling In Truth by Steve McRoberts
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Chapter 10: More Trouble

Tuesday night the congregation dutifully opened their Bibles to the accustomed Scriptures on ‘keeping the congregation clean’. They knew what was coming. Some, like Ted, even knew who it was.

"So, in accordance with these Scriptural injunctions," Brother Nelson droned, "the Judicial Committee convened and decided after prayerful consideration to place Phyllis Barton on public reproof for conduct unbecoming a Christian…" He continued with the usual speech of admonishing everyone to encourage the offending member to renew her relationship with Jehovah and strengthen her.

It was always depressing, no matter how often it happened or how richly it was deserved. The poor brother who had to follow this announcement with the "concluding comments" looked out over a field of blank faces and knew he wasn't getting through to anyone; all were preoccupied with the shame brought upon the congregation.

But after the meeting, when Ted brought Cyn over to join the brothers and sisters who were offering Phyllis their support, Phyllis, though distraught with embarrassment and shame, started in again: "Cynthia, come here. I want to tell you what Jan told me today about how evolution is selecting women over men."

"Can't you tell me as well?" Ted asked.

"No, she's not in the Truth,' Phyllis replied, "so I can talk to her. "

Thinking she had the restrictions of disfellowshipping on her mind in which no one in the Truth would be allowed to talk to her, Ted responded, "You can talk to anybody, sister. There's no restriction there."

"Yes, but only she’ll understand," she remarked, taking Cyn off to a corner to talk to her.

"It doesn't look good," David Nelson said to Ted, "I overheard what she said. If she's accepting evolution now in order to prove this women's lib thing, we'll have no choice but to go for disfellowshipping." He placed his hand on Ted's shoulder, one of his many gestures that made him feel superior and his victims inferior, though to a bystander it merely looked like a friendly action.

"I see you're still sitting by that Cynthia without being engaged. Do you still intend to continue studying with her alone in her apartment?"

"Yes," Ted answered nervously, and felt the grip on his shoulder tighten uncomfortably.

"Brother, brother," David shook his head sadly, then releasing him and clapping the shoulder once more as Ted turned to go, he said, "Well, I guess you've made your decision. Now we'll just see what comes of it." A double disfellowshipping was certainly David Nelson's idea of personal glory so long as he could perform the honors; he took such great pride in keeping the congregation clean.

Paul, whom they usually rode with, had taken over an additional shift temporarily at the gas station, so he didn't make it to the meeting that night. Cyn and Ted, therefore, climbed into the overstuffed car of the Johnson's. Richard was tired from a long day's work, and decided to drive Cyn to his place and let Paul (whom Ted said would be home by now) drive her home from there.

But when they reached their destination, Richard remarked that there was no light on upstairs. "He should be home in a minute," Ted said. And though Richard looked at him with some suspicion, he was really too tired to put up much of a fuss. He was mostly to blame for Cyn being there, and he didn't want her waiting in his place as he got ready for bed, so he let it slide.

"If I'm going to be disfellowshipped anyway," Ted told her as they made their way into his empty apartment, "I might as well do something to deserve it."

She smiled and sat at the far end of the sofa, suddenly nervous.

"I'm just kidding," he said, wishing he wasn't. "But it's nice to be alone with you after a hectic meeting."

"Why do you go if you don't enjoy them?" Cyn asked.

He let the question go by and sat next to her, the entire right side of his body making contact with the left side of hers. He put his arm around her and had his hand on her thigh before he could think about not putting it there. She moved her face towards his and they kissed with more passion than they had ever allowed to pass between them.

His hand stroked her thigh several times until it came to rest between her legs. He flinched slightly as he felt her hand in the same place on him. A charge went through them that told them they couldn't stop there.

But there was a key in the lock, and the door swung open.

"Ooo-eee!" Paul exclaimed. "Guess you Jehovah's know how to have a good time too!"

His mocking laughter pried them apart like a wedge of lightning.

Ted's guilt and embarrassment turned to instant anger as he vented it at the intruder, "I wish you'd learn to knock! Since you never pay the rent, I think I'm at least entitled to a little privacy!"

As Ted began to think of Paul's big mouth and realized how quickly this incident would reach the ears of the entire congregation, and the satisfaction that it would bring to Brother Nelson to read his disfellowshipping announcement, he grew angrier still. "In fact, why don't you just take your things and get outta here? You have no right being here, barging in on us like that. You don't pay any rent here; you're trespassing, so get out! Here, I’ll help you…"

Months of little frustrations had accumulated and were pouring forth now in a raging torrent against Paul, bolstered by the great frustrations of this night. Ted walked into the bedroom and dumped drawer after drawer of Paul's things into his suitcases. "There, take 'em and go!"

"Sheeat, I ain't goin' nowhere tonight man."

Looking at him defiantly, Ted grabbed a suitcase in each hand, walked back to the living room, opened the entrance door, through which Paul had so lately come, and threw the bags down to the bottom of the stairs.

Seeing that he meant business, Paul figured he'd better leave after all. Facing eviction, his mind was unusually quick and had already supplied him with a better place to spend the night. He wouldn't even have to feel guilty about it because Ted was forcing him to go there.

"All right, man, I'm going," Paul said, grabbing up the rest of his stuff. And with a contemptuous look at Cyn and then at Ted, he said, "I knew all this holier-than-thou shit was just a put-on. You're no better than any 'worldly' person you condemn."

After Paul had gone, Ted was still fuming. He paced back and forth through the rooms mumbling about the many irritations Paul had caused him over the months and how he "should have done this a long time ago."

When he'd cooled off some, he sat again on the sofa, this time at some distance from Cyn.

"Well," she said calmly, "there goes my ride. I guess I’ll have to spend the night."

He glanced over at her just long enough to take in her meaningful smile. He stared straight ahead and frowned. "It just so happens that they let Joey sleep over at the Lindquist's with their little boy, and Bobby is sleeping on the couch downstairs tonight. So if it were ever possible, tonight would be the night."

"Yes, it sounds like a night for sleeping over," she agreed, still talking to a profile.

"It almost sounds like I arranged it this way, doesn't it?" he laughed.

"Maybe you did, subconsciously."

"Would you like some wine? It's the one thing Paul forgot to take," Ted chuckled awkwardly as he made his way to the refrigerator.

"He always keeps a bottle of cheap wine on hand. I’ll take it as partial compensation for the rent." He poured two glasses and returned, this time sitting even further away from her.

"It's warm," she commented.

"Must be something the matter with the fridge."

They drank in silence for several minutes, Ted still afraid. In fact, now he didn't even dare look at her.

When they had finished the wine, she realized that if she let him speak first he'd spoil it all by saying something about the meeting or Paul. So she made the first move, scooting over beside him and pressing her soft, warm body against his. "I've been wanting to read you some new poems I've been trying out," she breathed.

"Oh, really?" he said in his unromantic voice. It was clear that he was putting up the greatest resistance now. At any moment he would ask her to leave if only there were some way for her to do so. So she quickly dominated the conversation in sensual tones.

"Yes. Would you like to hear them? In our last poetry meeting the instructor said we should continue using his method and try to be inspired to write new poems after studying old ones, using the themes in novel ways, and such. So I tried this with the paired poems of The Shepherd to His Love and The Nymph's Reply. The first was written by Christopher Marlowe, and the latter by Sir Walter Raleigh."

"Really, how do they go?"

"Well, I didn't memorize them. But the first is a plea by the shepherd boy to 'Come, live with me, and be my love,/ And we will all the pleasures prove…' and so on. And the second is the refusal on the part of the girl: 'If the world were young/ And truth on every shepherd's tongue,/ then these things might me move/ to live with thee and be thy love.' Something like that. So, anyway, I thought I'd turn them around and have the girl doing the pleading."

"And the boy doing the refusing?" Ted asked.

"Yes, but that's where the trouble came in. I wrote two refusals, and they're both too harsh to be considered enjoyable poetry. Well, tell me what you think," she said as she unfolded two sheets of paper from her purse.

"Now these are the boy's refusals of love you're going to read?" Ted asked.

"Yes," she replied, eyeing him nervously before her eyes descended to the page in her hands, "Here goes. The first is entitled, The Misogynist to the Flirt."

"What's a misogynist?" Ted asked.

"A person who hates women," she replied, and began her poem:

"So you have breasts I may not lick
Which milk the seed-beds of apostrophe.
So your thighs are sewn together Stitched by pendulating pelvis.
You tease but the scratched frame,
The dried oils remain unaffected.
I saw the late rabbit chew its leg off
In the trap by which you'd catch me
Where my teeth cannot reach.
If you tongue your eye once more It may counterfeit a tear
Or some other ex-testinal worm.
Your O's have sprouted now,
And I may smell one at your bidding?
But I know where you perch it after breakfast;
You'll have this function alone as well.
Still, we may flatten our curves on parquet
Pressing backs together with eyelids

"That's terrible," Ted judged, "it doesn't make much sense, and when it does it's gross. Also, I like it better when you write in rhyme."

She saw that he was cranky and thinking of Paul, so she laid the next one on him before delivering the final one in which she hoped to grab his full attention as well as change his mood. "Well, it just so happens that this next one is in rhyme, though it's more gross, being more plain. It's called The Misogynist's Reply to the Virgin:

"Virgin girl, sweet young thing,
You make yourself a whore
With all your vain imploring;
The sight of women I abhor!
Sex is dirty, ugly,
Shameful, vile, and gross!
Maybe I’d fit snugly,
But I'm too morose
Than to copulate
Gaily, lightly, in your arms.
Why, I'd rather masturbate
Than fall prey to your charms!
Worthless sacs of flesh displayed
Prominently to my view,
Nothing move me or persuade
Me to yield myself to you.
Most men are already fools;
When it comes to love, it's all.
In women's hands men are tools.
Love is best described as a fall.
Gods above rebuke us!
I don't know why men
Lust for bloody mucus.
You can keep your hymen!

"Yes, that's much worse; it's downright disgusting! You can write better than that, I know you can," Ted said appalled.

"Well, that's the whole point," she replied, "you can't write pleasantly about something so unpleasant as a person refusing love. So take that as your clue; that's not the way to respond to a girl's pleading with you for love. I want you to pay close attention now as this last poem has everything to do with us and tonight, and this very moment. It's called The Black Girl to the Jehovah's Witness:

"Will you love a laywoman's human bones?
Or would you rather hold those old beliefs
That make all women Virgin Mary clones,
And study, lawyer-like, your own dry briefs
While my hexagon of lips salivate?
Let's plead eternal guilt to nature's laws
And judge our case 'Desire Insatiate'
Forget your proverbs, sayings, and old saws.
Just shape your tongue to fit me -- I'm a bell --
And ring the watching stars from out their sockets;
Rain Gods and Devils -- there's your heaven, hell,
And all the rest aflame like streaking rockets.
That fire within you is not for God alone.
This black girl knows what black men want in prayer.
Their hunger wants no words; their bed no stone;
Their thirst no salt; their ears no soundless air.
While belly, touch, tongue, and ears have these needs,
There's something more than these he always craves
As natural as the heart his lifetime bleeds,
He needs the tight confines of softest caves.
He needs the warming touch of tender lips.
And mine are yours for your still lips to hush
Till all past joy and thought your flesh outstrips;
Let's love so hard we'll make Jehovah blush!"

Ted, stunned by her words, was led along until the very end. But at the sound of the name Jehovah he snapped out of it. He jumped up, freeing himself from the woman clinging to him. His mind froze in a desperate attempt to cool his boiling blood. "We mustn't," he said, "you’ll have to leave."

And as he stood there, forming in his mind a plan to call for a taxi by means of the corner phone booth, she fled. Having offered herself in a mutual exchange of tender love-expression with the man she adored, his callous rejection hurt her more than she could bear. She ran out the door and flew down the steps, disappearing into the dark night.

He thought to follow her, but remembering Joseph's example, felt that it was for the best that one of them had run out anyway.

Situations were reversed for him the next day. He accepted an invitation at the Tuesday night meeting from Julia Salvayez to come over in the morning. It seemed she'd met up with some Mormons who were coming over at that time to "convert" her, and she wanted Ted to be there because, as she said, "you're the only young person I know who's so knowledgeable about the Bible." Flattered, Ted agreed to the arrangement. She lived in a well-kept apartment with her older sister Rita, and it was Rita who answered the door.

Before responding to his "hello," she shouted over her shoulder, "Julia! Ted's here!" Then, addressing him, she said, "C'mon in."

He made his way to the living room and chose the most commanding chair. It was a simulated-leather reclining chair, the kind a man would more likely pick out. The sisters, he thought, would look out of place in it.

"Hi Ted," Julia greeted, coming around the corner in a too-skimpy dress, "glad you could make it." And she sat on their little sofa.

"Thanks for asking me. When did they say they were coming?"

"They weren't sure. You don't mind waiting with me, do you?" she asked flirtingly.

"Not at all, sister," he replied, using "sister" to tactfully remind her of their spiritual relationship, "I just hope I'm equal to the occasion."

He meant, of course, to be able to refute the Mormon's teachings, but Julia typically made everything a sexual innuendo. "Oh, I'm sure you'll rise to the occasion," she giggled.

At this point Rita re-entered the room, much to Ted's relief, and sat in a chair opposite her sister. Their small talk soon turned to gossip about the married couples at the hall. Ted, hearing more than he deemed appropriate, asked them to change the subject.

"Why? Don't you like marriage?" Rita asked.

"It's a great institution," Ted replied, "I just thought that --"

"I'd like to get married," Julia cut him off, "wouldn't you?"

"Well, sure, I guess so."

"I'd like to marry a missionary brother and go to some far-off land where they've never heard of us, and preach day and night, and live just for Jehovah and my man," Julia said dreamily.

Knowing that she never went out in service except for about an hour a month, Ted took this with a grain of salt. But Julia had excited herself with her own romantic fantasy, and she and Rita lapsed into some rapid-fire Spanish exchanges. Ted sat there for several minutes, biding his time as they went on and on at a fevered pitch, several times casting odd looks at him. Finally, they both screamed with laughter and remarked that that they suddenly remembered that he couldn't understand a word they were saying. Still laughing, Rita made her exit, surprisingly enough, out the door.

"Isn't Rita going to stay to help us with the Mormons?" he innocently asked.

"No, they called late last night to say they weren't coming," Julia explained in an off-handed way. "Won't you come sit beside me here on the couch?"


"I’ll let you put your arms around me," she promised.

He gulped. Why was Satan throwing women in his path just now? Where would he find the strength? "Why should I want to do that?" he asked, gripping the arms of the chair.

"I’ll let you feel me up," she offered. "I've seen how you've snuck looks at my tits when you thought no one was looking. Well, now I’ll let you see them." And she leaned forward on the edge of her seat and undid the zipper of her dress. Thus loosened, she managed to pull the top down, exposing her breasts.

He looked; his pulse quickened. He jumped up, took two steps towards her -- and then the image of Cyn came to his mind. He did not think of her exactly, just as he did not think of jumping on the half-naked woman in front of him; the sight of her soft inviting skin had driven away all thoughts per se.

But somehow the image of Cyn came to him, and the fact that he'd refused what the woman he loved had offered him the night before made him turn and run from what this loose woman enticingly thrust in front of his eyes today.

Once again the example of Joseph had been imitated. But the once-aroused flesh could not be dispensed with quite so easily. Ted arrived back home with the sight of the woman's fleshly endowments still dancing in his mind. He could almost reach out and grab them, as he had almost done to the genuine article.

Glancing at the rubble from last night's ruckus with Paul, he discovered a drawer with some more of Paul's stuff in it. Prominent amongst the other junk were three pornographic magazines and two Playboy magazines. He grabbed them and jumped into bed with them, tearing off his pants with one hand and arranging the pillow behind him with the other. As he concentrated his full visual attention on the pictured flesh in his hands, darting his eyes from thighs to breasts over the countless posed women, some part of his mind, reserved for such things and thus unable to participate in these proceedings, formed an excuse.

If he had the strength to deny himself real live, beautiful women two days in a row, he was surely entitled to a little make-believe. But as soon as his hand ceased its furious stroking, and the sticky, warm fluid had soaked the sheets, he tossed the magazines off the bed in anger as guilt settled over him. It was guilt so powerful and deep that it would be a very long time before he was over it. In the intervening time he would successfully burn in his own manufactured hell as payment for a moment's imagined paradise.

Two hours later, despite his very fear to pray to Jehovah and ask forgiveness, and despite his worry that, as an anointed, born-again Christian, he'd committed the unforgivable sin, he picked the magazines up off the floor and masturbated again. Afterwards, instead of flinging them from him, he began leafing through the old Playboys. He was surprised to find something intellectually interesting in them.

News-clips of violence to children especially caught his eye, and he read where Sweden outlawed parents' use of physical violence on their children. "I’ll bet that makes it hard on the brothers there in Sweden," he said to himself. "They can't even bring their children up the way the Bible tells them to without disobeying man's law." He continued to read that: "children just do not respond when they are hit or threatened. Their reaction is the opposite. They think in terms of revenge, and they can live in fear." Another similar one he read noted that parents who use violence against their children are likely to find themselves on the receiving end when the children grow up because "most violent children were themselves beaten when younger."

Surprised to be reading something intelligent in Playboy for the first time (for he'd never read the articles in them before) he went on that day to read more. In fact, he spent the entire day in this manner, masturbating only once more when his attention again reverted to the nude photography.

But all that long night he lay awake tormenting himself with guilt and feeling ever more guilty as he still felt the desire within him.

Although he mustered up the courage to beg strength from Jehovah, and though he promised never to do the wicked deed again, he knew he would the next chance he got. And as he lay there listening once again to the familiar sounds of Joey's snoring and the occasional moans of Bobby (which he imagined were caused by nightmares about his father beating him), he wondered about the wisdom of so much punishment.

Thinking of Sherri and her newfound submissiveness, he wondered if she could really be said to have been gently molded to Jehovah's will, or rather "broken" like a dog is housebroken. Were these children bending to conformity, or were they being snapped in two? And was it really right of them to force anyone -- even their offspring -- into their religion? Could they really make a person believe something, or could they just make them outwardly conform, like Sherri? And, if it was just outward conformity, weren't they really raising a generation of hypocrites? Such were the thoughts that alternated with his overriding preoccupation with his own sinfulness.

He wasn't to start work until next week, and he feared that this would leave him nothing to do but give in to "self-abuse". (He'd adopted this term as more derogatory than masturbation, and because it was the one the Society used most often in condemning the deed.) So he got up the next morning and decided he'd better find something to do to occupy his time. What he decided upon was to find Paul and straighten things out between them. After all, he was almost a brother, and he couldn't hold a grudge against a brother.

After searching for nearly two hours, he found Paul girl-watching in the park.

"Hey, there's my main man!" Paul called out upon seeing Ted, "What's new with you, man? Didja get it on that night?"

"No, she left right after you did."

"Sheeat, you expect me to believe that, too, don’t you?" he chuckled.

"Look, Paul, I'm sorry I got so mad that night. You can come back if you want to. Only don't say anything about it to anyone because they'll get the wrong idea. And she did leave right away."

"You're a fool if she did. She was all ready, man. I could see that. But I don't hafta come back there. I got me a nicer place now."

"Where might that be?"

"Oh, I shouldn't really say. It's not all that official yet. But I’ll find out for sure today."

"It must be pretty nice. Can you afford the rent?"

"Ain't no rent. I got me two roommates--both chicks, and they don't pay no rent either," Paul boasted.

"Who pays the rent?" Ted asked. "The government? My taxes, I suppose."

"No man," Paul laughed, "you'd never guess who pays the rent, but you know him."

"I know him?" Ted was perplexed. He let a moment or two slip by for Paul to enjoy his superiority in knowing a secret. But after he grew tired of watching the leafs change color, he said, "Okay, Paul, you've got me. You want to tell me what's goin' on?"

"Not till you tell me what you did with Cyn. I want to hear all the spicy details."

"She read me some poems she wrote about love, we both got too excited, and I told her to leave. So she ran out, and I don't know if she’ll ever want to see me again."

The hurt in Ted's eyes rang true and drove all doubt from Paul's mind. "Hey, man, I'm sorry. Okay, here's something that'll cheer you up if you think you got girl problems. Our mysterious rent-payer is none other than your Bob Morrow."

"What? Why should he pay your rent?"

Paul laughed, "Why do you think?"

"I can't begin to imagine."

"Remember how he was under public reproof the first time I met him?"

"Yeah, but that was a mistake; they acquitted him."

"Well, that may be, but this is what it was all about. Remember you even said he had 'gotten too close' to a sister. Who did you mean?"

"I thought it was Julia Salvayez, because she was reproved about the same time, and Brother Nelson's always counseling her in the van."

"Well, you were wrong, man. You don't know what's goin' on at that Kingdom Hall, do you?"

"Well why don't you tell me, if it's the truth. I don't want to hear gossip."

"This ain't no gossip, this is straight from the horse's mouth, man. You were wrong, it wasn't Julia; it was her sister, Rita. I should say it is her sister Rita."

"Okay, so what does that have to do with his paying the rent on this apartment you found?"

"Shit you're dumb. Do I have to spell it all out for you? The apartment is the Salvayez's apartment. Bob Morrow is married to Rita Salvayez. But it's a big secret because she gets welfare and alimony, and who knows what all, and that would all stop if anybody knew she was married. And Bob can't live away from his father because he depends on him so much, or some damn thing. So they worked out this arrangement where he can come over there when he gets the chance, and they screw. Only it ain't against the Bible 'cause they're married, See?"

"And he pays the rent?" Ted asked, too astounded to really know what to say.

"Shit, yes. That's the least he can do for his wife is pay the rent! But anyway, the elders found out about this somehow and he got disfellowshipped for 'living a lie'. Well, that threatened the whole arrangement, so Julia, the world's greatest tease, lured David Nelson into her arms (and who knows what else) in that van he always takes her to right when Bob was supposed to come out of the meeting at a pre-arranged time and find them. That provided him with blackmail, see, so he called the shots and got himself reinstated and even was made an elder!"

"You know I don't believe any of what you're telling me."

"Suit yourself, man. Don't matter to me what you believe."

"How do you know all this?"

"Where do you think I went when you threw me out Tuesday night? I went over to Julia's and Rita's place. They told me all about it. And Julia wants the same arrangement her sister's got, only with me!"

"So you were there Tuesday night? When did you leave?" Knowing that Paul wasn't there early Wednesday morning when Ted was there expecting to confront the Mormons, he was testing the validity of his story.

"They got me up real early the next morning. I had to go, they said, 'cause Bob was comin'. He was there off and on all day and night, I guess, 'cause this afternoon is the earliest time I can come back there. And then we're gonna settle things."

"And you're gonna marry her?"

"Yeah, man. Why not? She's got a great bod and knows how to use it."

"And she uses it too much," Ted said in disgust. "It wasn't Bob who came after you left, Paul; it was me. And if I put the pieces together properly, she was seeing if she couldn't hook me first before settling for you. They were talking for a long time in Spanish, and I'll bet that's what they were talking about. They were talking about marriage before that, and then Rita left us alone together and Julia tried to get me -- well, you know. She's a very loose woman. You'd never be the only man in her life. I'm not saying this to hurt you, only to warn you of what you're letting yourself in for."

"No, you like nothin' better than hurtin' me," Paul replied in anger. "You'd say anything just to keep things in a certain, narrow, 'Society' way. There's nothin' wrong with this 'cause we’ll be married. We just won't tell anybody -- man, I shouldn't a told you -- and we'll maybe live apart, that's what she wants anyway. There's nothin’ the Bible says against that. It's the same thing your elder does."

"He's not an elder yet," Ted cautioned, "You mustn't live your life trying to get away with as much as possible without actually breaking God's laws; you should instead try to stay as close to them as you can. But it's your life; if you want to mess it up, I guess that's your business. I've done all I can in warning you." Ted got up from the bench and walked away from his friendship with Paul.

That night, following the meeting at the Johnson's, Ted invited David Nelson upstairs to speak with him in private about his new problem.

"It's a pity Phyllis Barton decided not to come to our meeting tonight," David lamented, happy to beat around the bush before coming around to Ted's troubles as long as it meant that he could discuss the shortcomings of others. "Terry really looked depressed sitting there with his mother-in-law. It must really be hard on him not only having an uppity, unsubmissive wife involved in women's liberation, but having her disfellowshipped as well, so that he can't even talk to her except when it's absolutely necessary."

"She wasn't disfellowshipped," Ted reminded him, "just reproved."

"Oh yes, that's right. Well, let's just say that it's a matter of a very little time, and till then we'll keep it between you and me. Now what was it you wanted to see me about?"

"I've been having this very personal problem, brother. It seems events have conspired against me to entice me past endurance, and I've yielded to finding relief in self-abuse."

"That's not what the Scriptures say, brother," David quickly replied. "The first Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13 tells us, 'No temptation has taken you except that which is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.' So don't cast the blame for your sinfulness on fate or on too-great temptation; God doesn't allow that. You are able to withstand any temptation that comes you way, and if you don't, the fault is all yours.

"This is a practice that is certainly disgusting to Jehovah," David continued, "one that he hates and deplores. The True Peace book is quite clear that it is an unclean practice, and the Organization book instructs us on the judicial committee to keep a clean congregation. So what does that suggest to you that I should do under these circumstances? I’ll allow you to judge your own situation now."

"Logically, you should remove me from the congregation."

"And by what means do we do that?"

"By disfellowshipping me."

"That's right." David beamed, as if making Ted say the word was some sort of victory. Then, remembering that it wasn’t happy news as far as Ted was concerned, he resumed his frown and continued: "Now many elders wouldn't take this step yet. They'd allow you time to break the habit and spend countless of their valuable hours wasting counsel on you. But I know better. You'll get a first-hand appreciation of the seriousness of the matter if you're placed immediately outside God's organization because of it. Then you can work your way back inside by abstinence rather than becoming increasingly closer to disfellowshipment from your failures.

"I'm going to recommend you for disfellowshipping also for the reason that you have deliberately disobeyed the orders of an elder and flaunted your disobedience before others. Your conduct with sisters in and out of the congregation has been too loose. And you continue sitting next to and studying alone with that black girl despite repeated warnings.

"How do you think it looks to people when you go over to her apartment alone at night and spend an hour there? And now that you admit to the unclean practice of self-abuse, it casts more suspicion on what you do there. It makes us wonder if you aren't just carrying on promiscuity under the cover of Jehovah's organization. So, all these things considered, I feel fairly confident that the committee will judge disfellowshipping to be the most appropriate course of action in view of all I'll report to them."

After making some brief comments about how much nicer the apartment looked with all Paul's things gone (comments that went by an unhearing, dazed Ted), he said goodnight and left.

Now, Ted had not expected this at all. He expected something quite different. Turning to an elder and laying such an intimate problem at his feet, asking for his help as one humble, unworthy sinner to another, he little thought he'd be treated as an inferior slave by a tyrannical master. He needed help, counsel, a strong, confident arm to pat him on the shoulder and tell him that it was something all young men go through, and that with Jehovah's help they overcame it.

Disfellowshipped! Now he felt he'd certainly committed the unforgivable sin and was doomed to second death: eternal death. Now he was nothing. "Worthless" was now too good a name for him; he was less than nothing. For "nothing" was not opposed to Jehovah. "Nothing" did not lust and yield to selfish desires of a disgusting nature. "Nothing" didn't disgust Jehovah. So he was no longer even equal to zero; he had instead become a negative number. Negative infinity.

And to think that he so lately considered himself worthy of being a joint-heir with Christ! He laughed mockingly at his former self, and so laughing he realized that it was his "former man" -- that sinful, pre-Witness self -- laughing at what had been the "new man". They had changed places and he was again an "old man" belonging to the old world and destined to be destroyed with it in at Armageddon. In fact, he'd just experienced his spiritual second death in the dying of his "new man". He was not back to square one, he was worse off than he began: at a negative square one.

He spent all of the next day in such self-torment of soul that if anything deserved the term "self-abuse" it was certainly this self-berating. His guilt knew no modesty; he was at once the greatest sinner that ever lived and the most despicable specimen of humanity.

He refused to eat that day. "A person who so misuses the body that God gives him," he reasoned, "certainly doesn't deserve God's gift of food." So he planned to starve to death. It was a form of passive suicide, and appealed to him on this count. He knew it was a terrible sin to commit suicide, but as he was no longer deserving of God's gift of food, it wouldn't really be his fault if he died for lack of it.

By Saturday morning he was hungrier than he'd ever been in his life. He spent the morning in a daze of strange, disconnected thoughts alternating with weeping in anguish over all his shortcomings as he dwelt on them one at a time or in combinations. He'd think of how bad Julia was, or the report he'd heard of Bob's carryings-on, and then he'd say to himself, "I'm much worse than they are; they're saints compared to me." And he imagined all the angels, saints, and even Christ and Jehovah up above him in heaven turning their faces from him in contempt and disgust, thrusting out their arms towards him with their palms facing him in a gesture of revulsion. He could almost hear the Devil laughing triumphantly.

Bobby interrupted this train of thought by coming up with the mail (an Awake magagine) and noticing a puddle on the kitchen floor.

"Hey, there's water around your refrigerator," he reported.

Ted rose slowly -- reluctant to leave his anguished revelry -- and investigated. Sure enough, the refrigerator seemed to be leaking. Upon opening it he found that the food had all spoiled. Only the light seemed to be working as it shone on rotten food and sour milk.

"It's broke," the observant Bobby announced. "I’ll go call the landlord and get him to come and fix it." With that he ran down the stairs, and Ted returned to his daze.

It was interrupted an hour later by Bobby again. "Dad says you gotta come down right now!"

Zombie-like, he followed Bobby down the steps into the living room where Richard was sitting.

"’Stupid’ here called the landlord and told him to come right over," Richard explained, using his new pet-name for the son he was raising to be a schizophrenic, "so now we've got to hide you somewhere."

"Hide me somewhere?" Ted echoed.

"Yes, you see they don't know anyone's up there but the kids. They think we've been paying the rent up there for an extra bedroom for the kids and storage space for our stuff. In fact, he's gonna think it's funny that we use the fridge up there at all."

"Why is that?"

"They'd have a fit if they knew you were up there."

Ted could tell Richard didn't want to spell it out further, he easily filled in the blank himself and it read 'prejudiced'. He didn't really care about that; he expected that of worldly people. What upset him was that he'd been unwittingly living a lie all this time. Instead of placing the blame on Richard, where any blame would belong, he chalked it up to another sin of his own.

"I was thinking of the basement," Vonnie, who was standing by the stove, suggested.

"No, that's no good," Richard said impatiently, as if expecting the landlord to burst in upon them at any moment, point an accusing finger, and yell 'nigger!' "He always goes down there this time of year to check on the furnace. Let him hide in Jeannie's room; he won't go in there."

"All right," Ted simply said, and allowed Bobby to lead him into the girls' room. Sherri, Jeannie, and Joey were in there. Jeannie and Joey were playing with the toy cars he received as stolen merchandise, and Sherri was lying on her stomach atop her bed reading a magazine.

"Hi Ted," they all said one by one.

"Shhh," he cautioned, "I'm supposed to be hiding in here." He found himself unaccountably happier in the presence of these children. Sherri was looking less and less like a child, though, being a rapidly developing teenager now. He made towards Jeannie's bed to sit and wait out the ordeal.

"But don't sit on my bed, okay?" Jeannie asked, "'cause we're gonna use it in a minute. Right, Joey?"

Remembering Joey's peculiar obsession with Jeannie's bed when matched with a layer of toys, Ted turned towards Sherri's bed, intending to sit on the edge.

"A gentleman doesn't sit with a lady on her bed," Sherri advised without looking up from the magazine which Ted now made out to be Seventeen.

"Sorry," he apologized, and sat on the floor between them.

The ordeal was soon over, and Bobby accompanied him back upstairs to oversee the repair work that had been done. All the food had been removed and dumped in the garbage can. But the refrigerator itself was humming along, cooling empty shelves with great efficiency. While Bobby, who was always loath to return downstairs, hung around, Ted began talking to him about the things bothering him.

"What do you think about people who've been disfellowshipped?" Ted asked.

"I don't know. I don't know anybody that's been disfellowshipped. But I know you're not supposed to talk to them."

"But they're worse than worldly people aren't they?" Ted asked, "Because you can talk to worldly people. In fact, that's our most important function: preaching to people outside the Truth. But if you're kicked out of the Society, you're worse off than when you were in the world because you had the Truth and gave it up."

"But what's the difference if you're destroyed either way?" Bobby reasoned. "One's no worse off than the other, really, if they're both killed in Armageddon.

"Hmmm, I never thought of that," Ted replied, surprised at the pragmatism of his young friend. "But then shouldn't we treat them both the same? We’d have to try to bring those cast out of the Society back in, we'd have to talk to them and encourage them."

"Well, sure. If Jehovah judges them both the same, we should treat them both the same."

"That's a very enlightened view, Bobby. I only wish the Society saw it that way."

"Yeah," Bobby complained, "we can't do what we think is right; we gotta do what the Society says and call that the only right thing."

At this point Vonnie called him back down. Now Ted had something new to ponder from an unexpected source. Perhaps he was at square zero after all. Everyone else was convinced that he was not one of the anointed, and if they were right, then, according to Arthur, he could never commit the unforgivable sin in this system. But was that something Arthur really believed or just something he said to test Bob and Richard, like his arguments on the Trinity and the soul? He didn't know, but at least he'd moved into the realm of uncertainty. And coming from certain condemnation, such doubt was a forward step and a relief. The innocent honesty of Bobby saying exactly what he thought about the Society was refreshing and pulled him from the quagmire of depression until that Sunday.

That Sunday Elder David Nelson mounted the platform following the Watchtower meeting. He had his grave look on, and when he asked the congregation to look up the familiar Scriptures, everyone knew what was up. The next step was being taken. Neither Phyllis nor her husband were present that day, knowing what was to transpire. So it was merely a formality to warn the congregation to shun a former member of God's organization, a former pioneer, a former 'good person'.

And after Phyllis had been officially disfellowshipped "for conduct unbecoming a Christian," it was Ted's turn. At the last moment he reminded himself that this couldn't really be happening; he was supposed to meet with the judicial committee before any decision could be reached as to disfellowshipping, and he had not. Since this was true, Brother Nelson had no choice on such short notice but to wield his authority and push for the most he could get without a confrontation between Ted and the committee. He announced: "And we're sad to have to report that there is further cleaning to be done in God's house. Though not yet of such a serious nature, we must ask the congregation to reach out and support a falling brother…" and he read the Scriptures reserved for public-reproving occasions. So Ted was only to be placed on public reproof! He was only restricted from answering or praying at the meetings, and his penance was to listen to all the individuals in the congregation (some of whom had never spoken to him before) suddenly patting him on the back and speaking in an "upbuilding way" to him.

After the meeting he found out what a horror this was! Not a one was sincere. They acted like a bunch of preprogrammed robots doing exactly what they were told. Most of them, he concluded, were anxious not to miss this opportunity to "encourage a reproved brother." It was one of the requirements in the Bible, and people who did not force themselves to follow out these requirements would not survive Armageddon.

Even Richard spoke differently to him. At first he said quietly, "I never suspected there was any problem; you should have asked for my help." And then he lapsed into the same manner as all the rest.

Vonnie even sent Sherri over to "upbuild" him, as if letting everyone see her talking to him at the meeting were somehow different and special from the talk he could have with her at home every day.

It really got to him. It was like a strange place he'd never been to before. "Is this the way Cyn saw the place?" he wondered, recalling how she seemed able to "see through" what he felt was a genuine loving concern on the part of all the "brothers" and "sisters". Now that he suddenly felt as though he was seeing them for the first time as a pack of individuals selfishly doing whatever was necessary (even acting unselfish) to get them into everlasting life, he felt a certain affinity with Cyn and understood how she could stand aloof from what she saw. They were all just doing what they thought would result in the best for them in the long run. How was that different from a man playing the stock market, a corrupt politician, or a woman selling her body? If all the people in this room would rather be shot to death than salute the flag, or let their children die rather than allow them a blood transfusion, it was only because they saw an advantage in the long run. It was only a very shrewd and calculating bunch willing to do anything as long as they were sure it would work out for the best for themselves in the final analysis.

David Nelson was making his way towards him to offer his own "upbuilding" and probably to arrange for a meeting to bring about his disfellowshipping. Ted hurried towards the door and heard David calling after him as he went out.

Ted determined to walk to the Barton's house. Being half-outside the organization, he felt closer to one who was all the way out than to the hypocrites in the hall. He walked the distance thinking only of the first thing he'd say to Phyllis: "Well, you were kicked out, so what? I will be soon too."

Somehow he forgot that she wouldn't be there alone, and in fact, when he got there, Terry answered the door.

"Oh, Brother Stanton, isn't it? Come in."

"Evanston," Ted corrected, flattened more by Terry being there than his forgetting his name. "Is Phyllis here?"

"Yeah, she's working on something for Jan in the bedroom. Come in and sit down."

Ted did so. The apartment was very nice, simply decorated, and neat.

"Just come from the meeting?" Terry asked, attempting to make small talk. He didn't get many visitors now since the brothers and sisters had already begun to avoid Phyllis.

"Yes," Ted answered, "I wondered if I might talk to Phyllis."

"Well, no," he said, shocked, "I'm not even supposed to talk to her now that she's disfellowshipped. Didn't they announce that at the meeting?"

"Yes, but I don't care about that. I was publicly reproved too. So I can kind of sympathize with her --"

"She doesn't need sympathy, brother," Terry said, "that's the last thing she needs. This punishment of no association is the only hope we have of turning her around so she can be a real wife and sister again," his voice cracked showing the strain the situation was having on him. The two young men both realized that the last time they were together socially was when Terry had boasted of his choice of Phyllis as a submissive woman whom Jehovah would make beautiful in the new order.

His plan had fallen through completely; she had surprised everyone and become an individual. Ted could readily sympathize with him; he could very well have ended up in his position -- he would have if he had anything to say about it. And here she was, a disgrace to the congregation: an uppity wife.

"But did you ever think that maybe the Society is wrong in all this disfellowshipping stuff?" Ted asked, throwing caution to the wind. "Can they really pronounce such judgments when the Bible says judgment is reserved for Jehovah? I mean, if he hasn't judged her, what do the elders amount to? They've been wrong in important matters before, haven't they?"

"Yes," Terry readily agreed, "in fact I remember at Bethel -- you knew I was at Bethel for a year, didn't you? -- My first roommate left because he found out some of their past mistakes."

Ted recognized this as an attempt to change the subject and to allow him to go on and on with his many tales of his adventurous life at Bethel. But what he said had interest in itself, so he took advantage of it and focused in on it. "That sounds interesting, Terry, why don't you tell me about that. What mistakes did he find, and how?"

"Well, I'm really not supposed to talk about it. He wasn't even supposed to discuss it with anyone, but I forced it out of him by demanding that he tell me what was the matter. It's stuff no Witness knows and is better off not knowing."

"Well, I'm going to force you to tell me just like you forced him. Because if you don't, I'll go in and talk to Phyllis." Ted smiled to tone down this threat somewhat, but it only made it more menacing.

"All right," Terry acquiesced, "since you've talked with Brother Olson so much, you've probably heard most of it anyway.

"Barry was his name, and a nicer brother you'd never want to meet -- at least that's how he was at first. If I ever got in an argument with him over something and he knew he was right, he’d say, "Well, it's hard to say,' and let it go. That takes a lot of self-control.

"I remember he used to take new, shy brothers who'd just sit in their rooms because they didn't know anybody, and he'd take them down to the recreation room and let them beat him at pool or Ping-Pong to make them feel great, and stuff like that.

"But after a while he began to change, and it was rather dramatic. He withdrew inside himself and hardly ever laughed or smiled. We worked in the same department, sewing books together, and after awhile when he'd come to the counter where they check the books, the brothers there would half-jokingly caution each other, 'Here he comes, everybody be serious now, no goofing off' because he'd become so melancholy overnight and everyone thought it was an act at first. And then I caught him weeping several times as he sat at his machine performing his work rapidly through his tears.

"So I confronted him and asked him what was going on. Well, he'd already talked to the governing body about it and the judicial committee for the factory, so he didn't think I could help. But I pressured him, and he told me that, in the first place, his sister who had brought him into the Truth, had just been disfellowshipped unjustly. I tried to dissuade him, but he insisted that it wasn't justified at all. He just couldn't be made to doubt his sister's version of the story even though she refused to appeal the committee's decision. I told him he was placing more trust in her than in the Society, and he calmly agreed. 'I know that makes me like Adam who chose to die with his wife rather than live without her, but if you ask me to doubt the Society or my sister in this matter, I cannot help but doubt the Society, and I'll tell you why.'" At this Terry sighed as if hesitant to go on.

Ted was caught up in the story and eagerly prodded him on; "What did he say? C'mon! I want to hear this, I need to, and I think all Witnesses have a right to. If we give up our entire lives and hand them over to the Society, we should at least know what things they've done in the past that they try to cover up."

"Okay. He had been reading the old literature, and just in general browsing through the Bethel library amongst things that no one ever reads there. (We had gotten a third roommate by this time and our room was very over-crowded, so he spent a lot of time after work in the library reading that sort of stuff.)"

"The Society says we shouldn't read any of the old literature or any books attacking us. How did he get around that and do it right at Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters, under their very noses?" Ted asked.

"Well, he didn't get away with it for long. But his incentive was that one of the brothers he'd studied with had the hobby of collecting the old Watchtower books, and he picked it up from him. But it wasn't till he was at Bethel that he began reading them in connection with all the old magazines they had there, and even a few of the anti-Witness books that managed to find their way into little obscure boxes and corners in the library."

"All right already!" Ted said impatiently, "What did he find?"

"Okay, to sum it up, he found that what Russell taught was so much better than what the Society now teaches, that he made a thorough search through the old Watchtowers and books to find out what reasons Rutherford gave for changing it all. And he didn't find any reason.

"What he found was, to quote him, 'disgraceful lies and cover-ups and misrepresentations.' For instance, there was something called 'tentative justification' which had something to do with getting worldly people into the new order, because that's something they believed in back there--"

"Yes, I know all about that," Ted said.

"Anyway," Terry continued, "Rutherford said that Russell had changed his mind on it and decided there was no tentative justification: but he hadn't."

Ted scoffed, "How could Barry know whether Russell, over half a century before he was born, changed his mind or not?"

"Because the publications of that time show that he didn't. One, written just two weeks or less before Russell's death plainly stated that he hadn't changed his mind. And then there was an article in the Watchtower as late as 1916, the year he died, supporting this doctrine.

"But when the Society under Rutherford printed the bound volumes for all these years of the Watchtower and made an index for them, the latest date under 'Justification, Tentative' was given as 1913! The reason they skipped the 1916 article in the index was because Russell was supposed to have 'changed his mind' about it by then according to Rutherford: but not according to the facts.

"Then there was the business about Rutherford changing the date of his imprisonment to fit in with his interpretation of the time prophecies in Daniel.

"Then there was 1925 -- all of these thing had gotten him really angry as he checked them out one by one. It wasn't a passionless voice that reported these things to me as I do to you. Russell, he found, had written that they were not looking forward to 1925 or any other date after 1914. But Rutherford revived the 1925 date in the minds of the Watchtower readers. Barry showed me the booklet in the library (we couldn't take books out of the library, but had to look at them all there) called Millions Now Living May Never Die. In there, written by Rutherford, was a statement to the effect that 'we are confident that 1925 will mark the date of the resurrection of the ancient worthies' and 'We have no doubt at all in regard to the chronology of 1925.' This in itself was bad because, not only had Russell warned against accepting that date as significant, he also never stooped to dogmatism, according to Barry. But what made it all the worse is that after 1925 had come and gone without any resurrection, he read to me from a Watchtower article written by Rutherford, saying that 'a lot of brothers had looked forward to that year as the end.' This, he now said, was ‘motivated by selfishness on their part’, never once admitting or seeming to recall that he himself told them he was certain of its coming! But to make matters still worse, he then read from the 1975 Yearbook. Here, let me get that; it's one book I do have."

Terry returned from the built-in wall shelf with the book Ted had once read with great interest and appreciation.

"I've got the page marked; no one else knows why. Here it is on page 146:

"'1925 was a sad year for many brothers, some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. They had hoped to see some of the ancient worthies resurrected. Instead of being a "probability" they read into it that it was a "certainty."'"

Closing the book, Terry commented, "But you see, that's a lie. They didn't 'read into' anything but the Watchtower which told them in black and white that 1925 was a certainty, not a probability: that the Society had 'no doubt whatever' about the date!

"But Rutherford had more troubled with dates. Barry went through all of his interpretations of the times of Daniel and the 3 1/2 times of Revelation and all that, and counted each of the days on a perpetual calendar. This was where Rutherford had lied about the date that he and the other board members had been imprisoned for sedition. He told this lie in order to make his imprisonment harmonize with the 3 1/2 times that the 'two witnesses' of Revelation lay dead in the street before their resurrection (corresponding to Rutherford’s release from prison). Barry found that all but one of Rutherford's interpretations was grossly off target in regard to the actual lapse of days.

"Further, in a similar vein, he thought it rather ridiculous to think that the seven great plagues that the angels pour out upon the earth in Revelation were seven different conventions and 'drives' to sell Rutherford's books. He was suddenly amazed that he could ever have believed that such powerful symbols were recorded as divine Revelation nearly 2,000 years ago merely to prefigure a mentally unbalanced man addressing a handful of people in Cedar Point, Ohio on how to effectively sell his books filled with 'new truths' soon to be discarded for still newer ones!"

Ted began laughing uncontrollably at this last statement. Humorous as it was in itself, he was struck silly at the realization that he too now found it past belief that up until this moment he had held this very notion as absolute 'Truth'.

"Anyway, there were many other incidents he related that I've forgotten. Barry got into trouble before he told me all of this. He had taken a week's vacation that he'd been accumulating, and instead of going anywhere he went to one of the Gilead lounges where there was a typewriter, sat down, and wrote a long letter about all these things that he'd uncovered. He sent copies to all the governing body committees. After a while he was called up before them and told what a rotten person he was for doing this. He agreed with them that he was a sinner, but what he really wanted were answers. Was what he found out true? And if so, would the Society admit its mistakes and rectify them? But all he was told hour after long hour was how wicked he was and how he needed to get back in line with the Society. They went on and on about how great the organization was and how everyone needed it -- and completely ignored his questions. One of the things he said in the letter was that there was a lack of love in the congregations, and part of the reason for that was the slavish attitude the brothers and sisters had to maintain with the Society. That they weren't allowed to think for themselves --"

"Or feel for themselves," Ted added, drawing from his own recent experience.

"Yes, and that made love suffer in the congregations. After Barry read Rutherford’s books Vengeance and Enemies, he came to view the Society as an organization seething with hate for all outside its realm and for any inside that deviated a fraction of a hair from the Society's norms."

"I'd have to agree with that," Ted commented.

"But you know what the committee said? And it made him feel bad, too. They asked him if it were true that a certain brother in the congregation had given him an old coat, and another a new jacket that had never been worn because it was too small. And they started naming off such actions, which were true in themselves, but which didn't necessarily have anything to do with the spirit of love."

"That makes me think of all the things I was given by the friends," Ted admitted, feeling a little bad now for accusing them of a lack of love after they'd stocked his refrigerator and furnished his kitchen with appliances.

"But giving doesn't mean all that much," Terry pointed out, "Christ said that the Pharisees gave things away too, but that they blew a trumpet ahead of them when they did so to call attention to their magnanimous deed. And if a person recalls to your mind that he gave you a gift, then it's not really a gift; he expects something in return, be it only respect or friendship, or a gift of equal or greater value. The fact that the committee knew that these brothers had given Barry things shows that there was some trumpet-blowing going on."

"Yeah," Ted agreed, "then it's just like everyone thanking a brother for his talk after they're told to do so from the platform. They're not really thankful; they're just doing what the Society tells them because following the organization means their life. So when the Bible says 'When I was naked you clothed me,' the Witnesses naturally jump at the opportunity to give away some clothes to a brother in need just so they can fulfill that requirement. Or, 'When I was sick you visited me'; Brother Olson told me everyone in the city who was a Witness came to see him the first week he checked in at the nursing home; since then he's seen a handful.

"But what happened to Barry?" Ted asked.

"They kicked him out, of course. But he was very cautious. He still believed it was God's organization, though maybe not the faithful and discreet slave class he'd been drilled into believing it was. He wasn't a fiery type at all when confronted with authority; he was calm and said little in his own defense except to ask occasionally for them to concentrate on the points in his letter rather than on his own sinfulness. When they vehemently denied that theirs was an organization of hate as he claimed in his letter, he replied that they were just so used to it that they didn't notice it anymore. 'For instance,' Barry related, 'the other night at the dinner table the brother who said the prayer for the entire Bethel family, a brother carefully picked for this honor, and no doubt choosing his words carefully all day at work, said in his prayer, "We look forward to the time when you will wipe off the face of the earth every two-legged germ."' He told them that he considered that not to be a loving attitude to people outside of the organization.

"'That's one brother, probably in the Truth no longer than you,' they replied -- always making a point of his mere two years in the 'Truth' -- 'it doesn't reflect the attitude of the entire Bethel family!' "'Everyone said "Amen" to it, but me,' Barry replied. And he was right: I was there at the time and that's exactly what happened. When someone says Amen to a prayer, he better agree with it because it means 'so be it.'"

"What did they say to that?" Ted asked.

"They said that all the other brothers at Bethel were kept far too busy out in service, at the factory, and studying and attending meetings to go backwards and dredge up the past as he had done. And since he was so out of step with the organization, he'd better leave. They asked him to leave by the next day. Now Bethel is in New York, you’ll remember, and his home was in California, so to up and leave the next day required a little preparation and funds, but he managed to do it. What happened to him after that I don't know.

"There was another brother I knew at Bethel, if you want to hear some more of the 'goods' on the governing body."

"Yes, I do," Ted replied eagerly.

"Well, he was engaged to be married to a nice girl in his home congregation in Ohio. But he came back from his vacation there and let it be known that the engagement was off. He was promptly called up before the committee and asked to explain the reason. The reason was that the girl had gotten engaged to another brother while he was working at Bethel, but not wishing to damage her reputation with the Society (since they regard engagements as a very serious matter not to be backed out of without powerful good reasons), he refused to tell them. And for that he was kicked out of Bethel! Can you imagine how he felt? First losing his girl, and then being kicked out of Bethel?"

"I can imagine. But tell me, Terry, how can you know all of this about the Society and still stick with them, and even obey them in the matter of not speaking to your own wife because they've decided she's unclean?"

"Because they're right. She is unclean: not being submissive to her husband's will and joining an organization of Satan’s."

"Women's liberation is not of Satan!" yelled Phyllis from the other room. Terry ignored it.

"And besides," Terry continued, "none of these things matter much when you consider that the Society is the only one with the Truth, the only one spreading this Truth as a witness to all nations, the only 'name people' of Jehovah. And if we're willing to follow, they'll lead us into everlasting life in the new order." Terry's eyes sparkled as he said this; he had left logical thought for the moment and passed the invisible barrier into faith. It was a place Ted feared to follow him into. Rising, he thanked him for the instructive talk and left.

He directed his rapid pace towards the one person who could sort it all out. Terry didn’t know what Ted knew from his long talks with Arthur: that the basic 'Truths' on which Terry supported his belief in the Society were themselves simply held on faith, there being equal arguments on both sides of any issue. That left faith to bolster both the Society’s credibility and its doctrines. That being so, where was the reason to believe? Without reason, a person could believe anything, and faith was too malleable a substance to trust to so completely. People believed the Trinity on faith, and a literal fiery hell on faith, and the Third Reich on faith…

Ted began to run.

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