It’s a bit of a cheap shot—but on account of that Babylon the Great scripture we Witnesses are known to take such shots*—John Barr, the GB member until he died, related an amazing feat: a candidate who was rejected as a Jesuit for being too short. Whereupon, he memorized the entire Bible to prove his worthiness.
The truly amazing thing, John Barr related, was that after having done so, he still wanted to be a Jesuit.
As I recall it, the account was included in Barr’s talk at a District Convention. Such GB talks would often find their way into the Watchtower magazine within the year. When his did, the magazine dropped the line about still wanting to become a Jesuit. Instead, it skipped right over to the more milquetoast, “Surely, however, it is far more important to understand God’s Word than it is to memorize it.” It declined to take the ‘cheap shot’ that Barr could not resist.
The Watchtower paragraph, from the February 1, 1994 issue (pages 8-9):
“In the 17th century C.E., a Catholic man named Cornelius van der Steen sought to become a Jesuit but was rejected because he was too short. Says Manfred Barthel in his book The Jesuits—History & Legend of the Society of Jesus: “The committee informed van der Steen that they were prepared to waive the height requirement, but only with the proviso that he would learn to recite the entire Bible by heart. The story would hardly be worth telling if van der Steen had not complied with this rather presumptuous request.” What effort it took to memorize the whole Bible! Surely, however, it is far more important to understand God’s Word than it is to memorize it.”
___ *As for ‘cheap shots,’ nothing is a more cardinal sin in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ eyes than obscuring Bible teachings. Examples are the teaching of trinity, which makes God incomprehensible, someone impossible to know. Another is the hellfire teaching, which makes him cruel, someone you would not want to know. The Jesuits were firmly in that category, never mind whatever good things they did.
****** The bookstore