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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