Book Review — I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing

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The extend­ed three day week­end of decid­ed­ly unso­cial, social oblig­a­tions pro­vid­ed me with the lux­u­ry of being able to lounge around and read Kyr­ia Abraham’s humor­ous mem­oir, I’m Per­fect, You’re Doomed: Tales of a Jehovah’s Wit­ness Upbring­ing.

When it comes to talk­ing about her life, Kyr­ia is a very good sto­ry teller, par­tic­u­lar­ly adept at find­ing the lighter side of a life that wasn’t always easy. In doing so it wouldn’t sur­prise me if some events and sit­u­a­tions are embell­ished for the sake of the sto­ry; how­ev­er, it seems to be a most­ly hon­est account of her young life with­in the Jehovah’s Wit­ness reli­gion. The por­tray­al of the reli­gion is not entire­ly crit­i­cal and most­ly accu­rate. I have a feel­ing that when some dia­logue didn’t exact­ly ring true as JW speak it was most­ly the hand of an edi­tor try­ing to make it eas­i­ly under­stood by the aver­age read­er. (Kyr­ia is help­ful to include an irrev­er­ent glos­sary in the back to help sort out much of the Watch­tow­er jar­gon.)

The style of the book is VH-1’s , “I love the 80’s” meets Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es. What I mean is that it is filled with pop-cul­ture ref­er­ences with a JW twist. For instance, Smurf’s are talked along with asso­ci­at­ed JW urban leg­ends that cir­cu­lat­ed in the 1980’s about fire­proof Smurfs com­ing alive, chuck­ing Bibles, and curs­ing in King­dom Halls. So while the humor might not be lost on some­one with a non-JW back­ground, for some­one who was raised in the Orga­ni­za­tion it is par­tic­u­lar­ly fun­ny.

As we are rough­ly the same age and both raised in the Watch­tow­er Orga­ni­za­tion, my life had many points of inter­sec­tion with Kyria’s. For instance I can relate to the pride of giv­ing a first Bible talk at age eight, being looked at side­ways as a teenag­er for lis­ten­ing to “alter­na­tive” music, and mar­ry­ing young. I can also appre­ci­ate the strug­gle of being inclined toward the arts and find­ing few out­lets for expres­sion with­in the Orga­ni­za­tion and hav­ing to look else­where. As it was grow­ing up, if you were gift­ed ath­let­i­cal­ly there was plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for con­gre­ga­tion hock­ey, base­ball, bas­ket­ball and soc­cer how­ev­er there was no sim­i­lar avenues for those who enjoyed paint­ing, play­ing music, or writ­ing poet­ry.

If this were a fic­tion book it might be eas­i­er to write about, but since the book is about a real per­son it becomes more del­i­cate. Kyr­ia touch­es on some pret­ty heavy issues in the book such as abuse, repressed mem­o­ries, OCD, cut­ting, and alco­holism. Her approach to writ­ing about these things is in the same flip­pant, light-heart­ed tone as describ­ing giv­ing her first talk or rem­i­nisc­ing on the evils of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. I under­stand and appre­ci­ate that is impor­tant to have a sense of humor when look­ing at our life but on the oth­er hand these things are seri­ous mat­ters that affect peo­ple great­ly, even after leav­ing the reli­gion. The same is true with the por­tray­al of the Orga­ni­za­tion, which seems to be shown as being quirky but most­ly harm­less. Any­one who has been through a dis­fel­low­ship­ping, being cut off from friends and fam­i­ly, can speak of the agony and hurt that comes along with it. This mem­oir takes it all in stride and does lit­tle to go into the deep emo­tion­al pain that comes with a Jehovah’s Wit­ness upbring­ing.

As the book ends it comes to a con­clu­sion but not nec­es­sar­i­ly a sat­is­fac­to­ry one. While she may have at one time in her life saw her­self as being “per­fect” and oth­ers as “doomed”, at the end you get the feel­ing she just sees peo­ple as peo­ple, good and bad, inside and out. As said Kyr­ia touch­es on some of heavy emo­tion­al issues and there doesn’t seem to be a real res­o­lu­tion to any of this. While the book was extreme­ly enjoy­able to read the end­ing left me a bit depressed. I found Kyr­ia to be like­able and it is sad that the books leaves her car­ry­ing the bag­gage of the past.

8 Responses

stephDecember 20th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

just your title of the book. you know that jws are not per­fect nor claim to be. i know u and oth­ers are mak­ing alot of mon­ey slam­min jehovah.its the kind of trash satan and his fol­low­ers like to read. i hope all your mon­ey will buy you peace of mind!! praise jah!!!

Sheila RaeFebruary 4th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Hel­lo Steph, it’s not that peo­ple are think­ing that JW claim to be per­fect, it’s because JW are taught by the “Faith­ful Slave” that only JW will be saved and all those bap­tized BELIEVERS out­side of the Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es Org. are mere­ly just “pro­fessed Chris­tians”, “mem­bers of the WHORE of Baby­lon.

JW are taught by the “Slave”, to hate their ene­mies, which they claim are “God’s ene­mies”, yet what did Jesus TEACH?

He said:

“love your ene­mies, do good to those who hate you, BLESS those those who curse you, PRAY for those who mis­treat you.” “And JUST AS you want peo­ple to treat you, TREAT THEM IN THE SAME WAY.” “Be mer­ci­ful just as your heav­en­ly Father is mer­ci­ful”, “And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not con­demn, and you will not be con­demned; par­don and you will be pardoned”.….….….And:

why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?, Or who can you say to your broth­er, “Broth­er, let me take out the speck that is in your eye, when you your­self do not see THE LOG that is in your own eye? You hyp­ocrite, first take the log out of yur own eye, and then you will see clear­ly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” See Luke 6:27–42

When was the last time you heard an elder up at the plat­form (podi­um) make an attempt TO PRAY for those who have left the Orga­ni­za­tion? Are they spo­ken of with car­ing con­cern AND LOVE? Or are they spo­ken of as “apos­tates” and “ene­mies of the Org. and God”? When have you EVER heard any of them pray­ing FOR THEIR ENEMIES?

Are you aware that MANY who are leav­ing the Orga­ni­za­tion are doing so on ACCOUNT OF DOCTRINE? (and not all believe the trin­i­ty either) Many are not leav­ing because they want to leave Jeho­vah, but because they see the “Slave” teach­ing error and they can­not con­sci­en­tious­ly stay on account of it. The Orga­ni­za­tion has a looooong wake of teach­ing ERROR,(in the past and even now) yet it is mere­ly excused by them by their say­ing; “the light gets brighter and brighter”. Then why aren’t they giv­ing oth­er Chris­tians (those who Christ con­sid­ers as “YOUR BROTHER”) who just hap­pen to not be mem­bers of the Orga­ni­za­tion, the SAME ALLOWANCE?

Is that obey­ing Christ when he said to treat oth­ers the SAME way that you, your­self want to be treat­ed? Or is it being JUDGMENTAL; CONDEMNING?

Many for­mer Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es, before they left the Org., did so because they began to prayer­ful­ly study the Bible with­out the Watch­tow­er Mag­a­zine and oth­er lit­er­a­ture. When doing that, they then can see that the “Slave” is teach­ing doc­tri­nal error in some of their teach­ings.

As I said, their con­sciences just can­not allow them to accept the false teach­ings. And we all know that NO ONE is allowed to believe dif­fer­ent­ly and if they do, then they are quick­ly dis­fel­low­shipped. No inde­pen­dent think­ing is allowed with­in the Org. Only DEPENDENT think­ing. God want’s His peo­ple to think for them­selves and to get THEIR OWN con­sciences trained, not some­one elses. And no one can leave the Org. with their Chris­t­ian rep­u­ta­tions intact.

Many of these “for­mer” JW have NOT left Jeho­vah, Jesus or the Bible. They just want to serve God,(who is a God of truth)and to serve Christ WITH TRUTH, NOT WITH ERROR.

Help the elders to see that God is love and He wants us to pray for our ene­mies, to do good to them and to treat them as they, them­selves would want to be treat­ed.

Would you want oth­ers who have also put their faith in God and Christ to slam you with the accu­sa­tion of HAVING COMMITTED LOOSE CONDUCT, just because of your love for truth? When you HAVEN’T LEFT GOD, Christ, and the Bible at all? And would you like to be accused of leav­ing the JW Org. because you ONLY want­ed to PRACTICE SIN when that wasn’t the truth at all?

You will under­stand what I mean if you put your COMPLETE trust in JEHOVAH and NOT IN MEN; (who have already PRE-judged them­selves to be the “faith­ful slave”.) The JW broth­ers and sis­ters are LISTENING to the “Slave’s” WORDS ABOVE ALL THE WORDS OF CHRISTS.

God told Jesus dis­ci­ples: “This is my Son LISTEN TO HIM”. Turn to Jeho­vah, ask Him to teach you His Word, through His Holy Spir­it while you do a per­son­al deep study of it. (With­out lean­ing upon the help of the Watch­tow­er iter­a­ture.) Then if God wills, He will open your eyes to tru­ly see the errors the “Slave” is teach­ing.

Jesus is the ONLY medi­a­tor between God and ALL men. May God bless you in your search.

Sheila Rae

nkemjouApril 18th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Like steph said, hope the mon­ey got­ten will buy you peace of mind. Jeho­vah has set bless­ings and male­dic­tions and it is left to each indi­vid­ual to make his/her choice. Guess the author has made their choice. I’ll serve Jeho­vah (by His will) for the rest of my life.

AnthonyApril 18th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Steph & Nkemjou –

Thanks for drop­ping by. I can assume from your respons­es that you are Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es. Can I ask if you have “peace of mind”? Or is there still some fear that some­how you aren’t mea­sur­ing up. Is there still an under­ly­ing fear, even small, that if Armaged­don came tomor­row you wouldn’t make it? True peace of mind is giv­en by means of Jesus Christ who allows us to have con­fi­dence in his love and our sal­va­tion. This is some­thing that Orga­ni­za­tion can­not give you. At the end of the day you only have a “hope” for the future with­out cer­tain­ty. That is sad.

dean lynchJune 17th, 2010 at 5:04 am

To under­stand the men­tal­i­ty behind those that are still Jws is quite com­plex there are a few lit­tle nut­megs that one can throw at them. They are not Gods organ­i­sa­tion at all in any way. They have only pre­sumed that. Every­one should ques­tion absolute­ly every­thing because only fools dont!!! As an ex wit­ness I am a wit­ness to the hypocrisy of their dou­ble stan­dards. Peo­ple have a right to speak out against this. And so we should. Expose the child abusers and pae­dophiles in Amer­i­ca and appar­ent­ly theres a huge back­log of cas­es ready to go to court but those in pow­er have tried unsuc­cess­ful­ly to have these quashed so as to avoid bad pub­lic­i­ty. Its like the Catholic Church all over again. Every ex wit­ness suf­fers emo­tion­al tur­moil when they leave but only the strongest sur­vive this onslaught!!!! All those in this move­ment should realise this and ques­tion every­thing!!!! I did and left because Im one of those with well above aver­age intel­li­gence!!!! What were Gods 6000 years or so ago would today be classed as ET’s etc etc. Pity they dont open their minds to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that they are being duped!!!!! The ques­tion is though if its not for mon­e­tary gain that the lead­ers of this move­ment desire what is it exact­ly that they do want???

GabrielSeptember 21st, 2010 at 6:44 pm

From per­son­al expe­ri­ence I can say that, agree with me or not, only the wealthy get treat­ed bet­ter. It is they who get all the priv­i­leges. Us the poor, who were so ded­i­cat­ed, were nev­er tak­en into account. God for­bid if you were ille­gal, there was no love for you, even if you were jw, so where is the love if we are all broth­ers? This hap­pened in Dal­las . We left that church, and won’t go back. We saw many injus­tices done to the poor, but the rich could for­ni­cate, and could be rein­stat­ed back as an elder. What kind of exam­ple is this, but its true.

AnthonySeptember 21st, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Gabriel — I’m sor­ry for you expe­ri­ence. That is rough. I think we (JW) real­ly missed the point. If you look at the OT prophets time and again they warned against favor­ing the rich, not look­ing out for the cause of the wid­ow, the poor and the orphans. Then Jesus comes on the scene and he is cor­rect­ed them for the very same thing. To any who read this and who are still JW’s and going to the King­dom Hall — please, please reach out to those who are in the fringes, the elder­ly, the wid­ows. Show them love and kind­ness from the heart.

Jaclyn GuilbeaultFebruary 9th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Antho­ny: I read this book along with quite a few oth­ers. I did not care for this book, it seemed to go from one extreme to the oth­er. I was a JW for over forty years and still car­ry a lot of bag­gage, but this was pret­ty far out. I lived quite near the con­gre­ga­tion that Kyr­ia was from and knew many that attend­ed it, but they were not as extreme as she was. I found it inter­est­ing in the begin­ning, but the fur­ther I got into it, the more I dis­liked it. Just my opin­ion, we all leave the JW’s car­ry­ing dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences.

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