Awake! magazine - a publication of Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses have long been associated with the Watchtower
magazine, in addition to their many tracts, pamphlets and books. Perhaps only a
little less infamous is the Awake! magazine, often offered alongside its better-known sibling in the door-to-door ministry.
Its history began in 1919, when a new, monthly publication began to be printed, at the behest of Joseph "Judge" Rutherford, the then-president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This magazine, known as The Golden Age was not as concerned with expounding the
principles of the Bible, rather
"Its purpose is to explain in the light of Divine wisdom the true meaning of the great phenomena of the present day and to prove
to thinking minds by evidence incontrovertible and convincing that
the time of a greater blessing of mankind is at hand.
Like a voice in the wilderness of confusion, its
mission is to announce the incoming Golden Age"
The timing was appropriate, following the death of the first president, Charles Taze Russell
in 1916, and the disappointment many still felt when the Armageddon
, the "end of the system", failed to materialise in 1914
It was also published by a separate corporation, the Golden Age Publishing
Company under the editorship of Clayton J. Woodworth. This was to deflect
criticism from the 'old hands' who believed only one magazine should be published, in line with Russell's wishes.
In 1937 the magazine changed its title to Consolation, this time published directly by the Watchtower Society, and in 1946, became known as Awake!, to act as an experrection for its readers.
It is published twice a month in most languages, and is still distributed
alongside the Watchtower. The magazine had always been aimed at those who needed a gentler introduction to the Bible, containing more newsy articles with a Scriptural explanation, advice of living and health, whereas the Watchtower concerned itself with expounding the deeper things of the Scriptures.
Today, Awake! still supports the Witnesses' preaching work, with educational
articles on a wide variety of subjects, including regular features such as Young People Ask... and Watching the World.
It has often come under criticism however, especially when it touches on matters of advice on health issues. Many of the more zealous brethren take every word as Gospel. I remember when an article on Alzheimer's Disease suggested that aluminium was linked with the ailment, many Witnesses panicked and ditched their existing pans to replace them with steel, and criticised those who didn't. Perhaps this is a reflection on the culture inside the organisation rather on the magazine itself, but it has made the editors more cautious about reporting and commenting on medical matters.
This Journal is published for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today's problems, It reports the news, tells about people in many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.
Around 500 million magazines are published every year, in some 60 languages.
A long memory