Joanna is a follow member of the Southern Indiana Writers’ Group and a fine writer.
Joanna Foreman was published by Quixote Press in 2008—a collection of ghost stories—in Ghosts of Interstate-65, which she has since had re-issued. Her stories Ghost Taxi, Lady of the Wigwam, and Vicarious Christmas have been published by Melange Books in 2011. See www.melange-books.com. Joanna has completed a memoir, THE KNOW-IT-ALL GIRL.
Knock, knock . . . Who’s there? . . . Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . Uh-oh.
That’s how it started for Joanna Foreman at the age of five. From there, she gave up almost everything in exchange for the promise of Everlasting Life in a Paradise on Earth. No Christmas tree, Independence Day fireworks, Halloween costumes. No birthday parties or chocolate Easter bunnies. She was not to pledge the flag in school or stand to sing the National Anthem. She wasn’t allowed to attend college or vote in political elections.
As a youth, she was instructed to dump her worldly friends and would not be allowed to date or marry outside of the religion. Not one to be dismayed, she cleverly found ways around religious obstacles, jumping undaunted through the hoops of man-made beliefs. She managed to make friends, family and happy memories.
When she backed away from religion’s grasp, her congregational comrades rapidly vanished—she stood entirely alone.
The author portrays herself merrily waltzing her way through life despite all religious speed bumps, until she has the emergent need for a blood transfusion after the birth of her third child. Obeying yet another rule, she refuses the treatment and survives to proudly wear an invisible halo which congregation members had bestowed upon her. She keeps her doubts secret until Emma, her best friend of twenty-five years, also refuses a transfusion, with tragic results. Cancer didn’t kill Emma—religion did.
The lies and back-stabbing that occur immediately after Emma’s death allow Joanna to finally see the real truth. She perseveres and endures, coming out of this cultish religion stronger and wiser. While she’d thought she knew it all, the answers Jehovah’s Witnesses spoon-fed her no longer satisfy. As she gains the freedom to think for herself and choose her own beliefs, she finds herself more content living in a world among millions of people who don’t have all the answers than trapped within parentheses with a few hundred-thousand know-it-alls.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character loses their religion.