SENTINEL 4-7-2011
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Educate MJ

Were the Jacksons raised to shun college?

April 7, 2011

While Joseph Jackson rightfully boasts that not one of his sons--who he allegedly "beat"--has ever been incarcerated, one could argue that neither has any of them graduated from college. Did Michael Joseph Jackson and any of his siblings desire a college or university education?

If so, why weren't they encouraged to pursue it? Whether any of the brothers desired a college education is something each one would have to answer himself.

However, being, as they were, raised under the influence of their Jehovah's Witness mother Katherine, it was very unlikely that they were encouraged to go to college.

Knowledge vs. College?: Put bluntly, with good intentions Witness leadership has traditionally encouraged adherents to eschew secular higher education in favor of a deeper study of God's Word the Bible. God's knowledge versus man's college was a "know"-brainer.

Instead of viewing a college or university education as supplementing or enhancing one's Bible knowledge the two--when juxtaposed--were almost always presented as an "either-or" proposition.

"There is danger in encouraging [youths] to take up a lifestyle centered on education and financial security instead of true worship," says the June 15, 2011 Watchtower, the Witnesses' official organ.

"Stop accumulating valuable things and building a large bank account to the exclusion of serving God. Your valuable items can be stolen, and your money can be devalued.  Instead, accumulate spiritual treasures in heaven where there is no planned obsolescence of valuables, and where thieves can't illegally access your account and wipe out your savings." (Matt 6:19-21, Carr's Christian Bible) But what if a Witness youth simply wanted to feed an intellectual hunger?

"Do you really need to spend time, money, and effort on further education just to realize personal aspirations?" asks the same issue of The Watchtower. If a youth did decide to pursue a college education, he may well have to endure having an undesirable motive attributed to him.

"Jesus warned against ‘seeking your own glory,'" cautions The Watchtower. To be fair, both Witnesses and non-Witnesses avoid college for other than "spiritual" reasons. "I received an offer to attend a university," admits Kazuhiro Kunimochi of Japan, who later became a Witness. "But I decided to go directly to a racing school. At the age of 19, I became a professional racer." (Watchtower, April 1, 2011) The fact is, Witness youths are encouraged to learn a practical skill over the crush of a college bill.

Witness Educators: Jesus promised to send "wise men and public instructors [or, ‘learned persons']" out to preach. (Matt 23:34, New World Translation) "I work as a neuroradiologist and pursue my interest in noninvasive bloodless neurosurgery," says Murat Ibatullin, a Witness elder from the Republic of Tatarstan in Central Russia.

"As a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Kazan' State Medical University, I give lectures to medical students and doctors and try to help them to see the advantages of bloodless medicine."--Awake! June 2011.

And "Wayne Qu worked as an environmental scientist for the Academy of Sciences in China," says Awake! February 2011. His wife Sue studied molecular biology at a university abroad. Both actively preach from door to door as Jehovah's Witnesses.

"But they were educated before they came into the Truth," some of the faithful may protest. "Although the apostle Paul was a lawyer and Bible writer Luke was a doctor, they were educated before they became Christians."

Taken a step further, a number of college students upon encountering the Witnesses have been either subtly or openly encouraged to discontinue their education. And Witness publications are ripe with examples of youths turning down scholarships in order to spend more time in the preaching work.

"Consider the example of a teenage girl in the country of Ethiopia," encourages the May 15, 2011, Watchtower. "She did so well in her schoolwork that upon completing her basic education, she was offered a scholarship for further education. Having her eye focused on serving Jehovah, however, she turned down the scholarship."

Actually, no college or university student is required to quit school to become a Witness; and, interestingly, when the Jewish nation was "God's earthly organization," both Paul and Luke were unfettered in their pursuit of a higher education.

Conclusion: Bottom line, though they would've doubtlessly encountered stiff opposition from the rank and file, Michael and his brothers could have attended college as Jehovah's Witnesses without official sanctions from the powers that be. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.