Found in Malcolm X Park: Watchtower Publications Index 1930-1985

Found in Malcolm X Park” is an occasional feature on a piece of trash or other discarded item recovered from the park. This is a Watchtower Publications Index for the years 1930-1985. The Watchtower is the biweekly magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

watchtower-publications.jpg

The Watchtower, in its non-indexed form, is a fairly ubiquitous presence in the park, both in the hands of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and, as litter, discarded by its recipients and strewn across the park. It’s so common, in fact, that I’d never considered it for “Found in Malcolm X Park.” But discarding an index of 55 years of the publication takes it up another notch.

The Watchtower was first published by Charles Taze Russell in 1879, just one year after he had predicted the Rapture. Evidently, his non-rapturing engendered sufficient optimism to launch a magazine. Originally titled Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, its first issue projected a fairly liberal interpretation of how many ‘last days’ might be remaining: Enough for at least two volume of magazines:

This is the first number of the first volume of “ZION’S WATCH TOWER” and it may not be amiss to state the object of its publication.That we are living “in the last days” “the day of the Lord” — “the end” of the Gospel age, and consequently, in the dawn of the “new” age, are facts not only discernible by the close student of the Word, led by the spirit, but the outward signs recognizable by the world bear the same testimony, and we are desirous that the “household of faith” be fully awake to the fact, that—

We are living, we are dwelling
In a grand and awful time;
In an age on ages telling
To be living is sublime.

Until 1990, the Watchtower and another Jehovah’s Witness publication, Awake!, were sold rather than given away, but a Supreme Court decision in another case (against Jimmy Swaggart Ministries) which would have required the payment of sales tax led to the change.

Jehovah’s Witnesses worship in a facility called a Kingdom Hall. The nearest Kingdom Hall to Malcolm X Park is at 1320 S. 52nd St.

I took the photo above earlier this weekend, and though you would think I’d have learned my lesson from the “What is Islam” CD left in the same spot and featured in a previous Found, I left the index where it lay. Here’s a shot from this morning.

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I should have checked to see whether the adjacent beer can was empty or full since that would arguably have been a dispositive clue to the sin-repelling or attracting properties of a Watchtower Index.

11 Comments »

  1. Lee Hardaway said,

    November 28, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

    I was just wondering. What makes you think it was discarded as litter. Maybe some witness just misplaced and loss it. Just a thought.

  2. andrew said,

    November 28, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

    Thanks for commenting Lee! I don’t think it would qualify as litter, but it’s definitely a strange thing to leave in a park. It’s a reference book. Not the sort of thing you would read on a daily basis. I don’t even know how common it is. Would all witnesses have a copy of it?

  3. stressbusters said,

    November 28, 2007 @ 3:02 pm

    All JW have reference material on CD or they have yearly bound reference.
    This is a rather old on and was probably thrown in the trash and someone picked it up. The newness might have made them pick it out of the trash, because we would seldom use the reference book that old. My reference book has not been opened from 1930-85. We will discard them however.
    Jacqueline

  4. andrew said,

    November 28, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

    Thanks for commenting stressbusters! I’m always interested in how some of the stuff I find in the park ends up there. How do JWs use these references? Are the historical contents of issues of the Watchtower of relevance to contemporary believers? I know religious scholars are often interested in the evolution of doctrine. Does the average JW learn this sort of thing as well?

  5. stressbusters said,

    January 23, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

    Hello Andrew,
    Sorry, wasn’t aware you answered me. JW use this book to look up older issues of the watchtower and awake magazines and our older books by subject. For instance the ressurrection of the dead. You would go to ressurrection and it would take you to all the publications that talked about the subject between those years. We now have all of this on CD and most of us just go to the jehovah witness.org website for current info and we order a Cd or get the bound volume for the year every nov-dec. Yes we even have a book on our history. Now with the advent of the internet knowledge abounds.
    Thank you for answering me back. I have been JW for 59 years and have 233 members of my family in the religion.

  6. Lee Hardaway said,

    January 24, 2008 @ 11:36 am

    Hi Andrew
    I just might add that I concur with stressbusters. What was said is correct. Most Witnesses are using a CD Rom or they might get a new index(reference book) every couple of years since it’s always updated to include newer publications.
    Furthermore I wanted to say that you have an interesting but peculiar site. I”ve added it to my favorites and I will be reading it from time to time.

  7. andrew said,

    January 25, 2008 @ 9:14 am

    Thanks to both of you for commenting! I’ve learned some fascinating stuff from doing these “Found in Malcolm X Park” postings. I would guess that a CD ROM would be much more searchable and updatable. I didn’t realize that early issues of watchtower or awake would be of such interest to JWs on questions of doctrine (like resurrection of the dead). I’m glad you find the site readable, Lee! I strive for interesting and peculiar…

  8. onceawitnessalwaysone said,

    February 18, 2009 @ 12:02 am

    Hi,wow you have been serving for 59 years..?!! wow! All I would like to say is, yes there have been some changes in belief’s of the Jw’s . Yes it’s true they are NOT perfect. But compared to what other religion’s who say they are ‘christian’ I can handle it. And yes in the watchtower magazine I have seen them tell us newer one’s what they USED to believe and then give SCRIPTURAL reason’s why they have changed. Thanks

  9. Percy Malone said,

    May 15, 2010 @ 1:32 am

    Maybe a JW was approached by a real Christian and CONVERT HIM TO JESUS!

    Acts 4:11-12 (English Standard Version)

    11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    Jesus is the only way to THE FATHER Without the Son You CAN’T have the FATHER.
    Blessings

  10. hardwork chidembo said,

    August 1, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    i am failing to locate the publication which discussed matthew 13v22b,the deceptive power of riches. i think it will be easier for us to locate any issue to research if such an index is publicised. thank you devoted member of the organisation.

  11. ced said,

    December 26, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    PLEASE
    PROTECT YOUR FAMILY

    Awake : french édition 2011 april 15
    http://www.hostingpicture.fr/upload/dae69f98f8608d06a3f7efde2a96155f.gif

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