Monday, January 17, 2011

Myriads and Myriads of Memories

Four years ago, I made a number of posts regarding the time I spent in the Jehovah's Witnesses.

They can be found here, here, and here. Thanks to a regression therapist that I've recently started seeing, here are some more memories that have come to light:

The songbook back then had 119 songs. One was sung before the meeting started, another during halftime, and one more at the end. There are three that I remember to this day: The first is the last song in the book: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. The second is called Myriads and Myriads. I don't know the name of the third, but it was unusual in that it had a bit of a bouncy beat, something unusual compared to the rest of the Witnesses' oeuvre. It's one you wouldn't necessarily mind hearing on the radio. The only lyrics I remember from it were, "If you have such faith accompanied by works, da da da da da da da da".

To this day, I don't understand why they thought it was a good idea to make children sit for two hours during the twice weekly meetings, one hour for a third meeting. Kids have to sit enough during school, but to expect them to do more in the evening hours, for subjects that most likely wouldn't interest them, should almost be considered a form of brain-deadening neglect.

I had a number of games I played to kill time while waiting for the meeting to end. If I was lucky enough to sit on the inside of a row, I counted the number of raised particles on the walls. I imagined that one was a star, another was a galaxy, over here was another galaxy, we lived here, and so on.

I knew Jehovah was on my side whenever I sat next to one of the two windows that looked out on a resident's yard. How grand, I thought it must be, as I looked at a man playing with his dog, to be able to spend a Thursday evening relaxing and unwinding, to be able to wear a T-shirt and jeans as opposed to a suit and tie. I love how the Witnesses' make a big deal about how they're not worldly yet wear clothes that are an unmistakable symbol of the world.

Another lucky break was when my parents couldn't wake up in time to take us to the Sunday meeting. I was as quiet as a mouse if I got up early on Sunday morning so as not to accidentally wake them up. There was no way I was going to try to rouse them. It'd be like knowing that today you were to have a root canal and anything went as far as trying to get out of it. Sometimes they woke up in time to just take us to the second hour which was bittersweet.

Michael Jackson was a member of the Witnesses in the early 80's which was cool in that he was the hottest singer at the time. If he found something compelling about the beliefs, maybe I should, too. These days, Prince is their most famous adherent, something that negatively affected the concert I went to see him perform at in the summer of 2004.

It had been 20 years since Purple Rain had rocked the world and his show that year was an opportunty for us all to go back to those halcyon days. Xcel Energy Center in St Paul was sold out and thousands of fans were pumped to see him perform. For the most part, it was good, but he excised some of the songs that he felt no longer fit in with his new spirituality.

I found this ironic. In the mid-80's, I surreptiously listened to his music while a Witness. Now out of the Witnesses and free to listen to whatever I wanted, Prince had decided that he was too holy for such theatrics. My highlight that night was his performance of "D.M.S.R.", a song I didn't expect to hear as the S in the song stood for sex.

My old man was not above striking me or my siblings if we stepped out of line. I recall one evening when me and one of my brothers were escorted outside by my father during the middle of a meeting. Under the starry sky, he proceeded to 'rap our backsides.

At home, he utilized a more sinister device, the belt. I have a number of scars on the middle of my back that my wife and various doctors have asked about. I'm not sure if they came from my dad, are a past-life scar, or have some other source. I don't blame him for hitting me, though. He must've known that one day, I'd be much sexier than him.


tom sheepandgoats said...

"Da da da da da da da da" is "this kind of faith preserves our souls alive."

I think we may have different memories of time spent in a Kingdom Hall. Nonetheless, your mention of this song caught my eye, since my daughter learned to sing this song (via 'da da da's'....the rhythm was very distinctive, as you recall) before she could talk. For years thereafter, when the song started to play, she'd get all excited...."it's dah da da da DAH!

There's a new songbook now, and the song's been modified. There's only a ghost of the original theme still there. It's much less of an anthem than before.

And long before I became a JW, I would pull the same strategies to avoid going with Mom to the Presbyterian Sunday School. Kids are kids, the world over.

Thomas said...

Holy schnike! Thanks for filling in the blanks on that song, Tom. Attending my sister's wedding in the early 90's, I noticed that they had come out with a book that contained many more songs.

It really is too bad that they don't have more catchy tunes. I went to a church in the mid-90's that had a full-band and a transparency up front with the lyrics of the song playing so that it wasn't necessary to hold a songbook, all the better to raise one's hands in the air to praise the BigGuy.

Two years ago, I wrote about my dream church:

Narkissos said...

"kill time while waiting for the meeting to end" or the fight of your parents to end or woteva the adults do that duzn't make any sense (to a kid} to do not realize those until it's to do not have any voice until it is too late....scars....physical or emotional...they are there for ever...duzn't matter if you recall it or not....they are there...the intelligent and "know it all" adults caused it....good news is, you become a better adult....well you would think so eh....