My personal thoughts on Ray Franz – by Terry Walstrom

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My personal thoughts on Ray Franz

Terry Walstrom

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The death of Ray Franz hit me harder than I would have thought.

I had to reflect for awhile….alone……and quietly.

After all, fine people die every day and some of them are indispensable, yet, we go on….don’t we?

But, Ray Franz was something that can only be described in the phrase sui generis (one of a kind).

My task was to ask myself what it was that made Ray so singular, potent and admirable without a trace of scandal or ill will attached to his memory.

Now, I’m ready to talk about it. Call it venting, if you like. Or….processing……

Dedicating yourself to the finest work on Earth is noble. Ray, like the rest of us, signed on.

He, like the rest of us, put his energy and intelligence into a teaching work no matter what the personal cost to himself.

It was in the course of research that something special in Ray’s character triggered a chain reaction.

Ray was assigned the work of writing articles for one of the Society’s new reference books. He committed himself to doing that job as perfectly as possible without a cursory “cut and paste” parroting of what had been done before.

In the course of his research, Ray Franz found what amounted to evidence of dissonance in THE TRUTH.

What Ray realized amounted to doctrinal error! Conflict between his rational mind and his religious loyalty immediately arose!

The sum of a man’s life can come down to a vanishingly small moment. This was Ray’s.

What choices were to be made and what would it cost?

1. Gloss over the dissonance between research and Watchtower “Truth”?

2. Pass the buck to somebody higher and let them bear the burden?

3. Let it go and “wait on Jehovah” to correct it?

4. Raise hell and fight it out with naysayers?

5. Write the facts and let the chips fall where they may.

Here was Ray’s moment of sparkling integrity. Ray Franz TRUSTED the rational mind God had given him enough to write and speak and live what was real.

We all know what came next.

RAY LIVED WITH IT.

Ray Franz never lost his temper. Ray never hurled insults. Ray fought the fine fight of the faith quietly but solid as a rock.

Without grandstanding or calling a press conference or starting a new religious movement, Ray Franz quietly walked a straight line right out the door of Jehovah’s Witnesses temple of human error.

Into…….what?

The pristine flowering majesty of a clean conscience and an ordinary life!

His former “glorious” peers with their impeccable credentials as Jehovah’s spokesmen scrambled to plug the dam! Their first duty was far different than Ray’s. The Governing Body thought only of covering their collective asses and getting a little “payback.”

Ray Franz was found guilty of having lunch with a disfellowshipped person and sentenced to die at Armageddon.

Sit back a moment a think hard on that.

The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to rescue the one that strays, Jesus taught. But, the Governing Shepherds had other ideas, motives and means. They shot an arrow through the heart of the stray sheep and left him to die alone.

Shakespeare said it best:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

To their everlasting shame, the Governing Body bound themselves in the shallows and miseries. While Ray sailed on in the fair breeze of a clean heart.

Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom are without rancor or hysterics. Unlike many Ex-JW’s, apostates or so-called Evil Slave books, Ray Franz wrote calmly, assuredly and with total commitment to fact. (No personal animus!)

It was the drip, drip, drip of powerful reality burning holes in Watchtower doctrine where Ray Franz has immortality!

He threw a lifeline into the flood where his fellow truthseekers grappled with error and confusion. Many grabbed hold and pulled themselves to safety.

The power of reality is blast of pure white light!

Ray Franz flipped the switch on the beam that shattered Watchtower darkness once and for all.

We stand blinking into that light……even today…and for that bright knowledge of our entrapment….what we owe Ray is beyond evaluation.

The Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses is no longer the “Eden” of the Truth we once held it to be. Ray Franz exposed it for the Tar Pit of extinction the unwary wander into only to find themselves stuck and preyed upon.

The calm, unwavering solidarity of total faith in reality as opposed to unquestioning obedience to authority is the legacy of Ray Franz.

We could all do a lot worse than learn his lesson and walk his path and close our eyes on that final day knowing we have left this world a better place than we found it.

Ray, I salute you! I am in awe.

May the True God whom you sought to serve have mercy and loving kindness in store for you.

……..and may each of us find our own way…..into that peace.

Now, each of us face our quiet moment of decision every day we are alive.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

 

 

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Note from one of the site editors: Terry Walstrom is an author who has written about his experience as one of Jehovah’s Witness who was incarcerated for the stand he took as a conscientious objector. Readers of this site may be interested in the book. Information below is taken from Amazon.

terrywept1I WEPT BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON

Terry Walstrom

I imagine there are a great many young men and women who–unless I warn them–will go down the self-same path I took, wasting my youth. I WEPT BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON is a cautionary tale for unwitting travelers on their imagined road to heaven or paradise. I mark the blind alleys, pitfalls, side-tracks to nowhere and last horizon where sanity drops off and HERE THERE BE DRAGONS. If I can stop just one more person from going along with the Watch Tower allure of empty promises and broken dreams, I can stop my nightmare from its eternal return. You see, it was too late for me. But, while there is still breath in my body, I have determined to raise the cry: PLEASE! DON’T GO INSIDE! For the casual reader, it is a historical recounting of the conscientious objector grappling with the Draft Board, FBI and federal justice system during the Vietnam War. The 1960’s was an incredible decade in which all the old values were turned on their head and a youth movement unhinged the power structure of modern society. Totally at odds with the hippies, flower children, rock n’ rollers, druggies, war protesters and existentialist poets–young Jehovah’s Witness men were clean-cut, polite, squeaky clean oddballs about to be fed by their Governing Body into a meat grinder on purpose. My book reveals that purpose and the human rights violations wrought by men of hubris who ran the publishing business cum religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The path from ancient Rome and early Christianity up through the centuries to the time of Pastor Russell and Judge Rutherford provides an enlightening contrast. Each denomination, sect and cult insisted they read the same Bible and followed the same God–and yet–the results of their absolute certainty were ever at odds! How does it happen and what will make it stop? Read my book and hear my own answers. I WEPT BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON has succeeded in granting me peace of mind, at last.

Two of the reviews from the Amazon page are also presented:

 

 

A must read, “I Wept by the Rivers of Babylon, A Prisoner of Conscience in a Time of War,” is an important self-portrait of a naïve young man, Terry Walstrom, who in 1967 thought he was obeying his conscience when he refused to take up arms and kill. Inasmuch as he was a conscientious objector, Walstrom could have availed himself of noncombatant service in the military, but he was opposed to that arrangement. Under the circumstances, his Ft. Worth, Texas, draft board offered him alternative service to do “work of national importance under civilian direction” at Terrell State Hospital which he also refused.At no time was Walstrom’s choice, “Go to Viet Nam or go to prison.” Rather, it was, “Accept community service or go to prison.” This choice is really at the heart of Walstrom’s narrative. Why didn’t he take what was offered?Walstrom was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and to them any community service work was merely a substitute for military service, therefore unacceptable. Later, he was stunned to learn that he had endured imprisonment along with unspeakable abuse and humiliation for an arbitrary religious policy. As he grappled with the aftermath of examining the whys of his choices, and after researching the history of the religion he chose when a youngster, Walstrom realized that all of Jehovah’s Witnesses religious policies are not, as claimed, an option of conscience for believers.

Walstrom’s narrative bursts with perceptive self-scrutiny and thoughtful reflection on the issues of war and conscience mixed with wry humor. When the unapprised reader walks through the door into Walstrom’s world of personal discovery, upon exiting, this complex tale will be a cause for reflection concerning the harm a seemingly harmless religion has caused to believers and non-believers alike since its founding in 1879.

 

Format: Kindle Edition

Like Terry I was a Jehovah’s Witness in the sixties and seventy’s and had to deal with some of the same issues as Terry. Terry’s voyage of discovery is really gut wrenching and tragic. When you are in the grips of a cult, and a matter of conscience arises you go with your training what you believe to be the right thing to do based on what you have been taught is right and wrong. But is it right or wrong? Your only point of reference is the cult teaching. I personally avoided the draft through extended service to the religion and was granted Minister classification. It is especially difficult when cult teachings change from year to year. Terry’s choice was based on what he believed to be the right thing to do based on current truth. That’s a phrase Witnesses are familiar with. In reality truth is truth. Being captive to such thinking or lack of thinking can produce tragic results as Terry so eloquently and humorously explains. Jehovah’s Witnesses call themselves Christian, but in reality are far from it. Their teachings as Terry helps us to see actually tear families apart and cause them to focus on their own salvation and earning it rather than as they claim do a public service by their door to door preaching. In the end Terry finally discovers the meaning of True Christianity and finds peace through an unlikely source. Very well written and researched and a must read.

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4 thoughts on “My personal thoughts on Ray Franz – by Terry Walstrom”

  1. Ray was a God loving and a courageous man, he was kind and gentle, and left a wonderful legacy for all those that love truth and want to pursue it.

    What you would have went through, and the sadness you may have felt, but God took you by the hand and led you to a better place, faith in his Son alone, and no doubt the rewards would have out weighed the trials, yes!

    Thank you Ray.

  2. Hi Terry-
    You’ve written a thoughtful reflection on Ray Franz’s life- and I feel very much the same. When I first read Crisis of Conscience, my primary reaction was deep respect for Franz- for his courage, and for his determination to do what was right. He lost so much- his family, his friends, his job – we know why more people don’t leave, don’t we? And not just the Witnesses- but the Amish, or Scientology, or any of the other crackpot religious cults. (Or for that matter, religions in general.)

    I hope you’re well and happy- if you’re still in the area, let me know.

  3. Thanks for forwarding, jwanswers! Nancy and I go all the way back to when I first went to the local Kingdom Hall. Nancy was a lot smarter than I and got out early. It was great to talk with her on the phone again.
    Much obliged!

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