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Coffee Black - Debbie Shard regarding Arvid Einar Moody
Arvid Einar Moody was born in Boston, MA in 1910, the son of Joseph and Alice Moody, who were recent immigrants from Sweden. He was their firstborn, and would be joined by a sister, Vera, two years later. Joseph and Alice became Bible Students associated with the teachings of Pastor Charles Taze Russell, about the time of Dads birth. They were associated with the original Boston Company of Bible Students.
Dad was extremely intelligent and talented. He was a straight A student and a mathematical genius. He graduated with honors from Wentworth Institute in Boston. He was a musician as well, playing both the clarinet and piano. He was also an artist. He was an Architect and an Electrical and Nuclear Design Engineer, working almost four decades for Stone and Webster, (now Shaw Group) designing Electrical and Nuclear Power Stations. He was asked to participate in the Manhattan Project, but turned it down because he was one of Jehovahs Witnesses. John Volpe, Governor of Massachusetts at the time, tried to recruit him into politics, but Dad turned him down because he was one of Jehovahs Witnesses.
Dad was baptized in 1929. From the beginning, he served his congregation in various capacities. He was always in charge of the sound department at both circuit and district assemblies. He designed numerous Kingdom Halls in Massachusetts, including his (our) own in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. He was loved and respected, and always stood up for what he thought was right. He was a man of integrity and honor.
He met my mother, Pauline Briscoe, also a Jehovahs Witness, in 1939. They fell in love, but did not marry for a decade, because they followed the counsel to postpone marriage and children until after Armageddon, found in the book, "Children", by Joseph Rutherford. According to all the Watchtower publications, Armageddon was imminent. They waited 10 years and were finally married in 1949. This was common in that time period for Jehovahs Witnesses. Dads sister, my Aunt Vera had also delayed marriage because of this teaching. She was 36 when she married Andy Wagner, a longtime Bethelite, who had been an announcer on the WTBTS radio station WBBR.
I was born in 1952. Evidence that many followed the previous counsel to delay marriage and children, is that during my early childhood there were no children my age in our congregation. My first playmates were born before their parents became Jehovahs Witnesses. The first of those children that I can remember arrived in our congregation when I was about 8.
My Dad was a devoted husband and a wonderful, loving father. The very center of our family life was our faith. He instilled in me a great love for my Heavenly Father. I gave my first presentation at the door at age 4. I was baptized at the age of 8. He taught me that my loyalty belonged to Jehovah alone, not to man. I was never afraid to ask questions, and he encouraged me to search for answers. He taught me that truth will withstand any scrutiny and that if I didnt understand, or had any doubts about a doctrine or teaching that I had no business going from door to door trying to convince others of it. As I was growing up, he was always available and would drop everything he was doing, wherever he was, to help with homework, answer a question or give me guidance.
He believed strongly in the importance of education, and was determined that I go to college. I was very conflicted on that issue because of the WTBTSs teaching on higher education, but finally agreed to go. Ill never forget that day. My art teacher convinced me. It was May of my senior year. I called my dad at work and told him of my decision. He was soooooo happy. Dad was right. I loved college. Dad spent the day with me in classes on Father-Daughter Day. He was so proud and happy I thought he would burst.
That was not received well in the congregation because of the Watchtowers negative expressions regarding higher education. In fact, a circuit servant tried to get Dad to step down from his position in the congregation because I was in college. My Dad pointed out that Jesus was 30 years old when He began His Ministry. Up until that time, as was the culture of His time, he was learning a trade. He was aware of the urgency of His message. Why did He not just quit his secular training? I was only 17 when I started College. My Dad asked Him to explain how it was wrong to pursue an education at my young age, when the Son of God was nearly twice my age when He began His Ministry. My father was also aware of individuals who had been sent to College by the WTBTS to pursue degrees in areas that would benefit the WTBTS. Dad asked him to explain the 2 sets of weights in regards to education. Brother could noy defend his position. I think Dad would be alarmed to learn about the flip flopping of the WTBTSs policies on the subject of higher education since his death. Dad did not step down, by the way, but continued serving the congregation until his health made that impossible.
It didnt take long for the pressure from witness friends, and the rush for everyone to find someone to marry started to kick in. Among youths of my generation there was fear among young witness girls that if you didnt marry early you wouldnt get to marry. There were far more girls and guys. There was also the fear that if I had a college education no witness guy would have any interest in me. I met someone at an assembly and he proposed. I accepted. Of course, he didnt want me to finish college but to get married as soon as possible. My dad was beside himself. He begged me to wait. But I was stubborn, and of legal age to marry with or without his permission. In the end, he gave in to the inevitable but right up till the last minute was trying to talk me out of it. Just before he walked me down the aisle, he told one of my bridesmaids that if I showed any signs of changing my mind that she was to let me know that it was ok. Whatever the fallout, he would stand behind me and get me out of there. I went through with it though, and he marched me down the isle knowing I was making a mistake, but supporting me anyway as the daughter he loved. It was December of 1970. We moved clear across the country to California. I know that was extremely hard on my parents. I was homesick, so thankfully we only stayed a little over a year. We moved back to Massachusetts, to the coastal island of Marthas Vineyard, stayed there a little over the year, and then moved to the mainland.
Things were quiet for a bit, and we lived closer to my parents, but we soon learned that my Dads health was beginning to fail. He had had an injury as a young man. He had been hit in the area of one of his kidneys by a baseball. It had knocked him out and he was sick for a while, but finally recovered. Fast forward to about 1973, it was thought by his doctor that his earlier injury had stopped that kidney from functioning and his other kidney had been doing the job of both for all those years since his childhood. His good kidney was starting to fail. His doctor was well known in his field. He headed up the Kidney Dialysis center at St. Elizabeths hospital in Brighton Massachusetts.
There are those who defend the WTBTS on this issue who claim that kidney transplant was experimental and risky at the time of my parents rejecting that treatment. Surgery of any kind does carry risks. However, it must be understood, that we lived just outside Boston, one of the foremost medical centers of the world. The first successful kidney transplant was performed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1954. (more than 20 years prior to Dads illness) The recipient lived 8 years. The donor was still alive at last check. For a timeline regarding kidney transplants go here. http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/transplant/html/history.html
This timeline originates from Stanford University.
Knowing Dad was one of Jehovahs Witnesses, his doctor tried to control the process initially by diet, and it worked for a couple of years. Eventually, dialysis became necessary. Dialysis carries a risk. It is considered by the JWs that dialysis is a continuation of the circulatory system, so technically, blood is not "poured out". However there are times when the machine itself malfunctions, and it loses a quantity of blood. That blood cannot be returned to the body, because it has left the circulatory system in effect it is "poured out". It would be considered by a JW to be a transfusion for that blood, which had left the circulatory system, to be returned to the body. This actually happened a couple of times to my Dad. He couldnt afford the loss of that much blood, but it couldn't be recovered without violating his faith. Of course this led to complications,
Eventually, the subject of transplant was raised by Dads doctor, and mom scrambled to research the subject in the WTBTS publications. She found there, that it was not acceptable for a Jehovahs Witness to have organ transplants, in fact, it was the equivalent of cannibalism and against Gods Law. Not wanting to displease Jehovah, that was all my parents had to hear. It was an agonizing decision, and one based completely on the information they found in the pages of Watchtower literature. My fathers doctor pleaded with them to reconsider, but they didnt waiver. Dad continued his dialysis treatments because that was the only other treatment available.
It was like watching him die in slow motion. The poisons in his system were starting to destroy brain cells according to his doctor. This brilliant man, who had designed nuclear power stations, played Mozart & Beethoven on the Piano, who played softly on the piano to lull me to sleep at night when I was a child .and who had never lost faith in me was no longer capable of carrying on a simple conversation. My mother was beside herself. He was her world, her one true love and she lost him by inches. There was one crisis after another. Moms health suffered. We thought she was just exhausted, but it turned out that she had a rare form of cancer. Her doctor told her he felt it was due to the enormous stress she was under because of my dads illness. So her own struggle to live began.
We moved into my parents house to help out. Our daughter, Alison, was born in March of 1976 a few short months before it was discovered that Mom had cancer. I am grateful that my Mom at least got to spend about a year getting to know her only granddaughter. It was the one bright spot in those dark days.
Their congregation was wonderful to them. They were there to help with cooking cleaning even taking care of my infant daughter. They took dad to and from the hospital for his treatments they even helped to bathe him. With both of them so awfully sick, and with an infant daughter to care for, I was pulled in many directions so I dont know what I would have done without them. It was a tribute to how much my parents were loved by so many people. I am infinitely grateful for all their help. This went on for nearly a year. My mom died first in June of 1977. Dad lingered for another year.
There are those who have tried to dismiss the WTBTSs role in their decision of refusing a kidney transplant, because there was no threat of disfellowshipping if a Jehovahs Witness decided to have this treatment. That was never even a consideration for my parents. Their sole motivation for reaching this decision was to please Jehovah. They believed and trusted the Watchtower when it said that transplants were cannibalism. Two years after Dads death the WTBTS changed their position. I remember reading the change under "questions from the readers". I remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I read those words and tried to understand.
So much time has passed since my parents died. I had a son in 1981, a grandson they never got to know, and who never got to know them. It is a tragic they would have made such wonderful grandparents. My children missed out on so much.
I have since left the organization. The change in teaching regarding organ transplants was one of the first issues that alerted me that there was something very wrong. I stayed in the organization for another decade, though, trying to find a way to explain that away. The fact that the WTBTS never acknowledged responsibility for their words, or apologized to those affected by trusting them on this matter was more than I could swallow. My Dad had always taught me to question and make sure of all things. I began to research and discovered the WTBTS is not what I had believed it to be. Looking back over the near century of my familys involvement in the organization reveals other issues on which they have changed their teachings and affected the lives of many. In regards to waiting to marry and have children, for example my parents did as they were told, and waited. Many waited. Many never had children because of this teaching. I am 56 years old. Obviously, Armageddon was not imminent in the mid-1900s as they once claimed. Did the WTBTS ever apologize to those who listened to them and didnt marry or have children? How empty are the lives of those who took their advice?
What about education? How many times has the WTBTS shifted their council on this matter? Very few of my generation of JWs went to college. How have their lives been affected? Would an education have improved their lives and that of their families? Where in the Bible is there a law that one cannot pursue an education?
Those are just some of the issues that have touched the lives of the Moody family. There are many other issues I researched that caused me to lose all faith in, and respect for the WTBTS.
I am called an opposer by Jehovahs Witnesses. They are told, and therefore believe that since I have left the organization, that I am an opposer of Jehovah. That is far from the truth. They mistakenly equate loyalty to the WTBTS with loyalty to God. The WTBTS and God are not one and the same. I have a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father, than I ever had as a Jehovahs Witness. I left the organization because my dedication was, is, and always will be to Jehovah, not to man. I left because my loyalty belongs to Him, and Him alone. My conscience will not allow me to be a part of an organization that has been dishonest about its history, and that changes their teachings on matters that affect the lives of millions of people, and that never accepts responsibility for the resulting fallout. There is no humility to admit errors there is only convenient "new light".
I have reviewed the evidence, and done the research. It was the toughest, most painful thing Ive ever done in my life. In the end, I had to be honest with myself, and face the facts. Real truth withstands any scrutiny. The "truth" of the WTBTS did not withstand such scrutiny. My Dad taught me well. Its a matter of honor and integrity.
Debbie Shard June 29, 2008 Boston, Massachusetts
With permission from Deborah P. Shard Copyright 2008 All rights reserved