Please watch Anthony Morris’ final talk at the 2021 Annual Meeting: “Keep on the Watch,” as presented on Lloyd Evan’s channel:
Please watch at least through 8:15 (though Lloyd’s additional comments are definitely worth a listen as well — as are the comments on YouTube. My comments below are an addendum to the excellent points brought out there.)
Just want to have you think about this here personal experience. Many years ago my sons Jesse and Paul were in the early years of school — elementary school. And back at the time — I haven’t heard it a lot lately — but from time to time this would come up at a social gathering. Now mind you, they’re second-grade, first-grade, but these boys were thinkers. So they’d listen and they appreciated all these older ones, and we had a number of them in Rhode Island. Long-time servants of Jehovah God. However, from time to time this statement — they’d be looking at my sons and, “Oh, you’ll never graduate in this system! Not gonna happen!”
So, you know, I’m at their house. They just fed us– [laughter] “Lord help me, what am I going to do here?” [more laughter] But this would come up from time to time, at least during those years, and maybe it was post-1975, I don’t know. But they’d make these statements.
And I’m going to give you a big confession, because you know, this one comes clear to mind. Driving back from the gathering Jesse and Paul, you know, are thinking, and they’re troubled. They’re puzzled: ‘What is this about?’ Because, you know, they had goals and ‘what are we going to do?’ and they’re thinking of things in the future for them, and growing in their love for Jehovah. And, “Is that true, Dad?”
And so, I said, “Look,” — and let me tell you these people saying these things were long-time servants: experienced people. If any of you are guilty, God loves you, he forgives you. [Laughter] If you did that back then you didn’t help anybody. [More laughter]
But I’m going to give you a big confession. So that one particular night, we were driving back, it was a little distance from where we were, and they brought that up. They’re sitting in the back-seats, they were having this conversation. And I told them, I said, “Look, you boys remember: you’ve got to keep on the watch. This thing could go on, and be ready for it to go to 2020.” Honest. I mean, we’re talking almost 40 years! Almost 40 years. I felt pretty safe with that. [Big laugh] Well, you know what year this is . [laughter] What are you gonna do?
Dating the Incident
If it was “almost 40 years,” then the incident had to have occurred in 1981 or later: definitely “post-1975.”
His oldest son (Jesse) was born in 1975 (w06 3/15 p. 26 ). That should’ve been a memorable year for him. So, unless he’s gotten so senile that he can’t remember his son’s birth year, there’s no way that Morris “didn’t know” that the incident (with Jesse already in second-grade) had to have been post-1975. Children are usually at least 7-8 years old in second-grade, so this would place the incident around 1982-1983.
As an aside: why was Morris fathering children at a time when the Watchtower was officially discouraging this?
Today there is a great crowd of people who are confident that a destruction of even greater magnitude is now imminent. The evidence is that Jesus’ prophecy will shortly have a major fulfillment, upon this entire system of things. This has been a major factor in influencing many couples to decide not to have children at this time. They have chosen to remain childless so that they would be less encumbered to carry out the instructions of Jesus Christ to preach the good news of God’s kingdom earth wide before the end of this system comes.—Matt. 24:14.g74 11/8 p. 11 Is This the Time to Have Children?
Instead of foregoing children in order to devote more time to preaching, as the Watchtower was encouraging, Mr. & Mrs. Morris did the exact opposite: they gave up “pioneering” to have children. This, at a time when the end was “imminent”!
But why does Morris say “Post-1975″? If he’s trying to imply that the friends were guilty of “reading too much into” the Watchtower’s promoting the 1975 date, then he should’ve said “Pre-1975.” To my mind, the only reason for mentioning 1975 is to deviously try to limit Watchtower culpability in date-setting and life-ruining to this one time period.
In case you missed it, prior to 1975 the Watchtower had been declaring that year as the “end of 6,000 years of mankind’s existence,” and a most likely start of the 1,000 year millennium (to fill out the 7,000 years of the 7th day of creation). (See 1975 Quotes. )
They had also been discouraging the pursuing of education, careers, etc., in favor of field-service in the “short time left”:
Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.km 5/74 p. 3 How Are You Using Your Life?
In any case, graduating was irrelevant since education was depicted as a waste of time, with the end so near at hand:
Many schools now have student counselors who encourage one to pursue higher education after high school, to pursue a career with a future in this system of things. Do not be influenced by them. Do not let them “brainwash” you with the Devil’s propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. This world has very little time left! Any “future” this world offers is no future! Wisely, then, let God’s Word influence you in selecting a course that will result in your protection and blessing. Make pioneer service, the full-time ministry, with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service your goal.What Influences Decisions in Your Life? w69 3/15 p. 171 par. 12
The 1975 hoopla had been proven wrong for years prior to the incident Morris relates. So why were the friends saying that his sons wouldn’t graduate before the end? Well, the Watchtower was pushing another date in the early 80’s: anytime before the year 2001:
It has been thrilling to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign showing that the Kingdom was established in the heavens in that momentous year 1914. And Jesus has told us to rejoice at seeing the dark storm clouds of Armageddon gathering since that time. He has told us that the “generation” of 1914—the year that the sign began to be fulfilled—“will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Some of that “generation” could survive until the end of the century. But there are many indications that “the end” is much closer than that!w84 3/1 pp. 18-19 par. 12 Kingdom Unity a Reality Today
So, it wasn’t just “during those years” [around 1975] that the Watchtower has been guilty of setting false expectations. This is what the friends were probably reacting to: the Watchtower’s culture of doom-saying. With the understanding at the time, his sons might’ve had time to graduate, but graduating would’ve been considered pointless with Armageddon at the door.
Parenthood vs. “Witnesshood”
Morris here reveals what it is like to be a JW parent: caught between his duty to parrot the WT doctrines, and doing right by his kids. The friends were being loyal Witnesses, applying what the WT had told them about the end being “imminent” and “within a few years at most.” (w68 5/1 p. 272 par. 7 Making Wise Use of the Remaining Time) Morris, on the other hand, was being a practical parent: putting his kids’ interests first. So, good on him!
But now Morris has a role in the GB, and he is doing to other parents the same thing the WT did to him back in the 80’s. (See the recent video of Morris telling parents not to waste the little time remaining on higher education for their kids: Anthony Morris III: What Is the Best Education?) You’d think he’d have a little empathy for them, remembering his own struggles with real-life vs. Watchtower nonsense.
It’s interesting that Morris choose 2020, and felt that this was a “safe” date. In other words, he felt that Armageddon couldn’t possibly come any later than that year. How did he arrive at that? He was probably going by the Watchtower’s “age of understanding” being 15 years old (Awake! Oct. 8, 1968, p.13-14), which would mean the youngest member of the “1914 generation” would’ve been born in 1899. Then, using the Bible’s greatest estimate of a “generation” as 120 years (e.g., Moses Deuteronomy 34:7), would lead to 2020 being the year in which those youngest members would expire. So, it seems he may have put some thought into the matter, rather than just having pulled it out of thin air. This would tend to indicate that he’s not just making this whole story up, but you never know.
But this means that Tony was guilty of harboring his own “independent thought” and “personal opinion” in opposition to what the Watchtower was peddling at the time. This is a no-no, according to the Watchtower, and always has been:
Avoid Independent Thinkingw83 1/15 p. 22 Exposing the Devil’s Subtle Designs
How is such independent thinking manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization.
First, since “oneness” is to be observed, a mature Christian must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and “the faithful and discreet slave.” By regularly taking in the spiritual food provided “at the proper time”—through Christian publications, meetings, assemblies, and conventions—we can be sure that we maintain “oneness” with fellow Christians in faith and knowledge.—Matthew 24:45.w01 8/1 p. 14 par. 8 Make Your Advancement Manifest
Not only that, but he shared this opinion with his sons! That is the very definition of apostasy, according to chapter 12, section 39.3-4 of the Shepherding book: “deliberately spreading contrary teachings or undermining the confidence of the brothers in Jehovah’s arrangement.”
So, this really is a “big confession,” on his part. Tony Morris just admitted to a disfellowshipping offense: apostasy! Most Witnesses would be hauled in front of a judicial committee after such a confession. Tony? He gets laughter. Double standard? Hypocrisy? Sham? Yes, yes, yes.
Morris emphasizes several times that the friends were “experienced, long-time” Witnesses. What is his point? That, given their long-time experience with the Watchtower’s false statements, they should’ve known better than to take seriously Watchtower teachings regarding the nearness of the end. Thanks for pointing that out, Tony. Hopefully long-time Witnesses will keep this in mind from now on.
And, speaking of not taking things seriously:
The GB laughs at its loyal followers who are forced to live their doctrines! Is this how the GB plans to get out of their false prophecies and asinine statements henceforth? Just laugh them off? That’s rather crass when you consider how their words negatively impact millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But the biggest laugh is on the poor Witnesses, faithfully following the Watchtower’s every pronouncement, and applying it to their lives, but now knowing that — according to a member of the GB — such actions “don’t help anybody“!
Jehovah’s Witnesses, remember this going forward: when a GB member was in your shoes he did not blindly follow what the WT was spewing: he thought for himself, and even told others his thought. Today he laughs at those who did follow what the WT proclaimed.
So, don’t end up being the GB’s laughing-stock: think for yourself!