“My Thanks to the Witnesses for a Great Saturday”
BY AWAKE! CORRESPONDENT IN NORWAY
Eivind Blikstad, a columnist for the Norwegian daily Telemarksavisa, headed his article as above. First, he expressed his annoyance at unsolicited mail promotions, phone sales, and house visits—especially on Saturday mornings. Then he wrote:
“All of a sudden, there they are. At the doorstep. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Saturday morning. With their Awake! magazine, No. 17, September 8, 1996. [“American Indians—What Does Their Future Hold?”] They wondered if I would like to read the magazine because it contained something that they believed would interest me. . . . Before I got a chance to say that I was not interested, one of them added: ‘There is an article on American Indians. We know that you have been writing a lot about the subject.’
“There I was, stuck. For when your vanity is kindled, all your firm intentions tend to fly away. Back inside, at the breakfast table, my curiosity gets the better of me. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the future of the American Indians is admittedly a somewhat strange combination. I put my glasses on and started reading. You know, a little condescendingly, the way you do when you really think something is a waste of time.
“To cut a long breakfast short, the article that the Witnesses are presenting on the situation of the American Indians was not only good—it was excellent. I recommend that Norwegian schoolteachers swallow their prejudices. Order copies for everyone in your classes! The use of sources is exemplary, and the pedagogical presentation is crystal clear. It is also honest to the core in questions where the views of the Indians and the Witnesses differ. No trace of cheating. One dilemma on several Indian reservations is about the establishment of casinos. These give much-needed employment, but there are also moral implications. The question is skillfully dealt with in such a way that the reader gets insight into what it is like to be an Indian in our century.”
Blikstad concludes: “Refreshed from my reading, I read the rest of Awake! while I was at it. For a bonus, there was a downright touching article on chapels and churches that are closing in the mining valley of Rhondda, in Wales. . . .
“Have I lost my judgment completely? An atheistic embracement of the Witnesses without objections? . . . Not today. We need constant reminders of the importance of thinning the weeds of prejudice. The next time I see the Witnesses being accused of lying, at least I know that they did not lie about the Indians.”
Because of the special demand for the Awake! issue on Native Americans, 37,000 extra copies were printed on the Watchtower Society’s New York presses. One congregation in Arizona asked for 10,000 for special coverage of their territory.
If you would like to take an unprejudiced look at Jehovah’s Witnesses, please feel free to write to the publishers of this magazine, using the nearest address listed on page 5, or call your local Kingdom Hall. No obligation, no cost. Just straight answers.
[Picture Credit Lines on page 31]
Indian face: D. F. Barry Photograph, Thomas M. Heski Collection; dancing Indian: Men: A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources/Dover Publications, Inc.; tepees: Leslie’s; rectangular design: Decorative Art; circular designs: Authentic Indian Designs