‘Fiction opened my eyes’: author Jodie Chapman on growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness

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I used to knock on people’s doors and tell them the end of the world was coming. We were born imperfect, I would say, and soon will come the day of Armageddon when we will all be tested. Be good and you could win life in Paradise. Be bad, and your reward is annihilation. No wonder people would see us coming and turn off the lights.

Stories have always been in my blood. Until a few years ago, I based my life on their outcome. Raised in the UK as a Jehovah’s Witness, I was told we were in “the time of the end”, which meant we were in the third act of Life’s story, when I would soon be rewarded with eternal life on a paradise Earth.

Every Witness child was given a copy of My Book of Bible Stories, a heavy yellow hardback. From the moment I could listen, I was taught the story of Abraham, who almost murdered his son after God commanded him as a test. The accompanying illustration of Isaac tied up on a sacrificial altar as his father looms over him with a knife was terrifying. Then there was Lot’s wife, who was turned to salt for daring to look back at the fire God was raining down on her hometown. I never questioned these stories or their morals. Why would I? They were taught to me at the same time as my ABC. They were my version of “normal”.

Content retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2024/feb/17/fiction-opened-my-eyes-author-jodie-chapman-on-growing-up-as-a-jehovahs-witness.

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