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Veronica Vega: For years I had a hard time deciding between writing, painting or dancing. It was writing that proved to make the most sense financially in the short term. I live in Alamar, an aborted project for a city that only breathes from what’s left of nature, from the alternative cultural scene, and above all, from the infinite will of the human soul. I’m not a journalist. Writing in HT has been an opportunity to say what I believe can be improved in Cuba.

The Ways of the Lord in Cuba

January 7, 2014 | Print Print |

Verónica Vega

Wake Up and Watchtower.

HAVANA TIMES — Every so often, early on a Sunday, two Jehovah’s Witnesses – the kind who, certain of their noble mission of saving souls, go from door to door confront all manner of reactions – knock at my door.

My daily home routine tends to be rather complex, and I am always interrupted by something while talking to them (by a cat that runs out of the house, something burning in the kitchen, my son calling me from his room, etc.). I’ve noticed that, despite these disturbances, they persist in their chat.

Putting on my best face, I tell them that I believe in god but that I already chose my path (nearly twenty years ago). Some excuse themselves and offer me a brochure, which I gratefully accept.

I’ve tried to share some of my faith with them, but they reject such offers. Some look at me with pity and quote the biblical passage about the false prophets Christ warned about. Most of the time, they simply give up, convinced that I am a hopeless case.

It may be because my vision of Jesus is entirely different from that of the common Christian (be them Catholic or Protestant), but I can’t help but wonder how these religions degenerated to the point of relying on persuasive strategies that are invasive and prompt more rejection than sympathy.

When my son was still a child, he asked me if he could go to the “Christian classes” that were being offered in our building. I gave him permission to go, but he soon became disillusioned, for several reasons.

He’d been highly intuitive since the time he was a little kid and, because he claimed to truly believe in god, the teacher asked him to read the prayers out loud. They would praise him so much he’d get upset. He thought that praying with sincerity was something natural and that one’s relationship with god shouldn’t encourage any feelings of vanity.

He also noticed he was not allowed to express his own ideas if these didn’t agree with those he was being taught. When he finally stopped going to these classes, the friend who had taken him there stopped seeing him altogether.

When he asked him what was going on, the kid replied: “I can’t play with you because you’ve taken the devil’s side.” That had been the official explanation for his absences.

In high school, a Christian classmate would harass him so much, telling him he had to go to church and accept Christ as his savoir, that he had no choice but to threaten to punch him to get him to leave him alone.

Near one of the markets I often go to, there is a church that has been improvised out of a locale in the neighborhood. On Sunday mornings, it is alive with singing and sometimes impassioned speeches that are so loud they bother the neighbors.

Their tone is similar to that of a demagogic political discourse. Once, I heard something rather chilling: “What those disbelievers who scorn us so much don’t know is that the time has come for us to establish god’s kingdom by force!” The cheering that followed made the place feel like a heated rally.

Intolerance towards other faiths or atheism, material incentives, the use of coercion to increase attendance to religious gatherings, all of these are clear indicators that these communities are not sincere in their efforts and that they offer no true freedom.

It’s a shame, for the true, profound meaning of Christianity is lost and, as I tell the more insistent preachers who knock at my door the occasional Sunday, god gave us the free will to look for him down any of his infinite number of paths, to ignore him and even deny him.

Some years ago, I read a phrase I’ve never forgotten: “Behold how simple is the Truth that constantly passes before our eyes, not caring whether we notice it or not.”


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    Veronica Vega, perhaps unintentionally, seems to describe Jehovah’s Witnesses as Christians. JW’s do not recognize the trinity nor consider Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Obviously this is a fundamental pillar of the Christian faith. JW’s are not Christians.

    • ac

      That doesn’t matter Moses. As long as they consider themselves Christians they ARE Christians. You may not consider them as such but again you probably do the same with most of the denominations (at least the funny ones, like the Mormons)

      And as I mentioned in my previous post, there are literally dozens of thousands of distinct Christian denominations, so the fundamental pillars of Christian faith are anything but obvious.

      • John Goodrich

        Again, some good points AC.
        True (small “c”) christians practice the teaching of Christ to help the poor, first and foremost while others like George W. Bush and Moses believe that simply acknowledging Christ as the son of God will get them into heaven: that good works on behalf of the poor are not necessary for admission

  • ac

    I’m not sure I get your point. When in dire need, people would do almost anything to get medicines, food or whatever they can scrap and the church in Cuba has been distributing charity to their members for a long time. Sure, their members have swelled but the side effect is as you point out that many of those new members are in it just for the freebies.

    If anything your view is extremely naive, the point of the church is not give freedom to believers, quite the opposite, they simply teach their own canon and try to act as shepherds of their congregation basically to control exactly what their congregation believes and the way the act as much as possible.

    Probably is hard to understand, because Cuba is mostly at the receiving end of charity, but in the US church is big business. The bigger your congregation, the bigger the tithes they pay, so they use predatory tactics to get new members, creating insurmountable differences from small (and mostly pointless) doctrine differences in order to keep and increase their members.

    The whole thing could be pretty funny if not for the tragic results sometimes they create, but if Christ is to be believed when he said “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand”, Christianity with their 41000 distinct denominations seems to be hopelessly doomed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

    • John Goodrich

      Good post AC.
      Faith is making virtue out of not thinking .
      The prosperity evangelists on U.S television who preach Christ while practicing the opposite of Christ’s teachings have far too many giving up on rational thinking in supporting these Croesus-rich hypocrites.

  • Maurbor

    MP have you ever asked Jehovah’s Witnesses what they believe regarding Jesus Christ? A Christian is a person by definition who follows Christ’s example & believes what he taught. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in a trinity but certainly that Jesus is the son of God. Just as Jesus bore witness to his father so Jehovah’s Witnesses try to do the same.
    I agree as Veronica Vega said that God gave us free will to choose our path. That choice should be based on knowledge & Jehovah’s witnesses believe that such knowledge can be found in God’s word the Bible which they seek to share.

    • ac

      Thats the way it SHOULD be, not the way it is. Most Christians do NOT follow Christ example and teachings; there is a LOT of them that are more than happy accepting his sacrifice as the only condition for salvation and ignoring the bulk of his teachings.

      Case in point, when was the last time you saw a Christian selling their possessions and giving it to the poor? Yet is a recurrent theme in Jesus teachings:

      Matt 19:16-21

      16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

      17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

      18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

      Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony,

      19 honor your father and mother,and love your neighbor as yourself

      20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

      21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

      Again in Luke 12:33 and 18:22

      12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

      18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

      This is a random issue somewhat in the extreme side I picked just for illustration. The point is: most Christians simply give him lip service without actually following his teachings; I call those people fans, not followers.

      As for your last point, thats not free will, just a pathetic illusion of it. Is like the “free will” that a mafia boss gives you: pay me $100 a week or I will break your legs. To call it free will, there should not be reward for the right choice (heaven) nor punishment for the wrong one (hell).

      Sure, god is allegedly allowing you a choice but is not free by any meaning of the word.

      • Moses Patterson

        AC, your pharisaical interpretation is exactly why Jesus came. It is much simpler than you have described to be a Christian. All it requires is a confession of faith. (Rom 10:8-13)

        • o

          In that case you are not a follower of Christ but simply a fan of him. Either that or you are not familiar with the concepts of necessity and sufficiency.

          Regardless, you are just conveniently ignoring that Rom 10:8-13 does NOT comes from the teachings of Jesus but from Paul the apostle (aka Saul of Tarsus), not even a disciple of Jesus and basically a random guy that never meet him while alive (no, I’m not BStting you, ask your pastor or google it)

          So feel free to call me Pharisaical if you must (although, I’m more of the heathen flavor), just be glad that someone else coined copyrights to the term Paulician.

          • Moses Patterson

            Paul is considered Christianity’s greatest prophet and certainly the most prolific as he has the most books in the New Testament. He is hardly random as his anointing on the ‘road to Damascus’ is well accepted. Still, as a ‘heathen’ you are clearly entitled to your opinion. :)

          • ac

            Of course I am. The issue is that from my perspective, the whole Damascus road episode never happened (to clarify: the existing evidence is way too weak, so I don’t have a good reason to give credence to it) and I don’t believe in divine instantaneous injection of ideas and principles (that would contradict God position on free will), so the basic facts from the historical record is that Saul (aka Paul) never met Jesus in person and never was exposed to his teachings. Ergo, if I were to follow Jesus I couldn’t care less of what HE said.

            In general, Christians give too much credit to the New Testament, even when is well known that it was a committee work made by people pushing for their own agendas and interests. The idea is that God would not allow evil to corrupt his holy scripture (that are quite evil already without any help) but that is directly contradicted by the fact that God allows evil unchecked in the world, so is not clear why his scripture would need to be different.

            Studying religion has been a hobby of mine for years and I faintly remember doing an analysis about what Jesus allegedly said before his crucification and what the disciples (or others like Saul) preached afterwards.The result was quite disappointing: Peter, Matthew and Paul would rot in hell for misappropriating Jesus doctrine and/or outright lying. But not everything was bad, Saint John got extra cookies for smoking weird stuff :p

          • Moses Patterson

            Hahaha! You are so going to burn in hell….

          • ac

            Picture the image:

            Me? The bacon well done, sir. And keep that trident for yourself, thank you. Also, get some ointment for your skin, that color can’t be healthy.

        • ac

          BTW, that last post was mine, sorry for the typo in the name.

        • John Goodrich

          George W. Bush had an argument with his father G.H.W. Bush over this same thing.
          Bush the Lesser claimed that one need only accept Christ as the SOG to get into heaven and his father held that good deeds were what got you into heaven.
          To settle the argument they called Billy Graham who totally agreed with Daddy Bush .
          But no one can tell W he’s wrong
          Of course W got his teaching in Christianity from those born-again send-me-money “Christians during the time he was kicking his alcohol problem and when his wife had threatened to kick him out if he didn’t sober up.
          I would seriously doubt his sincerity or belief as regards the principles of Christianity given those circumstances of his conversion .
          At least Moses, like Bush, is consistent in his anti-Christian support of the wealthy .
          It is , after all, impossible to be both a principled follower of Christ and to preach capitalism .
          Moses believes that it is only hard for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle and not impossible which nullifies the teachings of Christ sufficient that the wealthy have a shot at heaven after all .
          That this belief clearly contradicts Christ’s teachings is necessarily not evident to those for whom the love of money is preeminent .

          • Moses Patterson

            Anytime you begin a sentence with “Moses believes that…” you should go take a cold shower.

          • John Goodrich

            Deny what you think you can and save the empty sarcasm .
            What have I said about you that is not true; that you have not said in other words ?
            I like to be accurate so please do correct me, doing so specifically .

          • Moses Patterson

            Your question is off topic. Try to avoid making your comments about yourself and other commenters. Stay Cuba-centric. Duhhh!

          • Moses Patterson

            Correction #1. Capitalism and Christianity are not incompatible. Christ himself worked his entire life less the last three years as a wage-earning carpenter.

      • Maurbor

        I agree that many people are Christian in name only. When referring to free will JW’s do not believe in the heaven vs hell choice. In effect we all individually reap what we sow. The choice we make affects the quality of our life not our death.

    • Moses Patterson

      I have spoken at length with JWs. They believe Jesus is the archangel Michael incarnate. They consider all heavenly beings ‘sons’ of God. Jesus himself defined who his followers (Christians) were. JWs choose to RE-define what a Christian is to suit their purposes. .

    • John Goodrich

      If God gave us free will, what is the purpose of that primitive and long outdated handbook of rules called the Bible ?
      If I choose to sacrifice an ox or chicken on the Sabbath , is that not exercising my God-given free will and for that reason spare me from being stoned to death for that proscription ? ( Leviticus)
      And do not the JWs have their own “scriptures” used in place of the Bible (New Testament) ?

  • Alex

    The Watchtower society is a high control group. The so called ‘faithful and discreet slave’ is now the 8 old men in North Eastern United States who dictate how 8 million members live their lives. These men claim that God only communicates through them to the earthly beings.
    The first lie this group will tell you is would you like a ‘free bible study’ which in truth turns out to be a lifetime of Watchtower publications you study.
    Truth can be distorted and molded due to this substitution.

    This is a very dangerous group that will split your family members if you and them join.

  • emagicmtman

    What disturbs me most about Jehovah’s Witnesses and other such groups is how, in the name of faith, they require their followers to surpress not only their ability to think for themselves, but also the most basic of natural bonds. I have two friends who were former JW’s (by reason of having grown up in JW families). In both cases, once their sons had broken with the faith, their parents, and the rest of the family who remained w/in JW, totally shunned them. It drove one friend over the edge. Ever since, he’s suffered serious mental health problems and has led a marginal life. The other managed to reconstruct his life and seems to be doing fine (although I suspect the internal toll is greater than it appears). The love between parent and child is basic, natural, and preceeds all religion. To have interfered with this bond is UNnatural and malevolant.
    In a similar case, a young woman who is Mormon described, in a recent edition of “The Moth Radio Hour,” how she fell in love with an anthiest (but didn’t tell him right away she was Mormon). After he had “given his heart to her” so to speak, she finally informed him she was Mormon, and that, to continue their relationship, he’d have to pray to god. He did, but after praying, he still reflected that he might just be praying to nothing: he just couldn’t make that “leap of faith” which requires the surrender of logic and reason. This led to the end of the relationship. Still, this interference in the natural progression in love seems (at least to me) to have serious psychological consequences on both parties. Wonder what Papa Freud, not to mention one of his apostates, Wilhelm Reich, would have had to say about the consequences of this pathological repression of the most basic of natural urges?
    As Marx said, religion is the opiate of the masses. Although it often assuages their pain, at time this opium surpresses the central nervous system to the point of causing death–at least spiritual and psychological death!

    • ac

      Well, Freud certainly would have a field day with the sexual implications of an almighty entity stalking and practicing voyeurism on everyone 24/7 and the effect of the knowledge of said activities on the well intentioned believer ;-)

  • me

    “Ive tried to share some of my faith with them, but they reject such offers. Some look at me with pity and quote the biblical passage about the false prophets Christ warned about. Most of the time, they simply give up, convinced that I am a hopeless case.”
    Im sorry but this paragraph shows me that you are just making up things to write. JWs welcome conversations and encourage ones to share what they believe, there wohld be nor reason to apply a scripture about false prophets to you because you expressed your beliefs. Also your supposed perception of “the looks” you get are also far from accurate. JWs know others have their own views and are not put off because of it. Their purpose is to show what the Bible has to say and if someone doesnt agree or doesnt want to listen then that is fine. There are no pitying looks. Also…Moses commented that JWs are not christians because “they do not accept Jesus as Gods son” i would like to assure you that yes JWs do believe that Jesus is Gods son…Jesus said himself that he was, God said he was and the apostles said he was/is. What is not believed is the trinity because it is not taught in the Bible. Jesus did not teach it nor did God or the apostles. If you have any questions you can find the answers at JW.ORG