Saturday, May 23, 2020

My Childhood Introduction to the Bible (2 of 5)

...continued from part one

A few years passed, and now I was at a point where I knew many Bible stories at a very basic level, especially from the Old Testament, and they moved me, but I didn't know how to theologically tie it all together. After all, I was in elementary school with no one to really teach me, but I was discovering these things on my own. I was also growing up, had just left all my friends when I moved to a new town and entered a new school, and I was often alone. Then something happened that forever changed my life and tied everything together for me. It had to do with that one part of the Bible I needed to hear that I never understood before.

When I was ten years old, my temperament was somewhat nihilistic and angry. My mind was often occupied with death and the meaning of life. Though I was born and raised a Greek Orthodox Christian, theologically what made most sense to me was that life was but a dream within a dream, that I was living outside of reality, and my real self was some cosmic entity who imagined my present reality; it was all nothing but a figment of my imagination. Trouble often found me, and if my parents punished me for it, then all I could feel was hatred for them. They were even ready to send me to military school, since to them my future was bleak. If left unchecked for long, no doubt I would have grown up to be a model rebellious teenager.

At the time I was forced to attend Greek school twice a week after regular school. The previous year I had a horrible Greek school teacher, who was very verbally abusive to me. This eventually got her fired after it was exposed, but my experience with Greek school was not that great before this, and it just made a bad situation worse. Now I was in the fifth grade, and my teacher was a young seminarian named Yianni (he never gave us his last name) from Greece who was studying at Holy Cross School of Theology. He was actually very kind, patient and had a particular fondness for me. This was because every week for one of the two days he never taught us the Greek language, but instead talked about our Greek Orthodox faith and heritage. To me this was refreshing, and I always listened attentively, while everyone else was practically snoring. This I think is why he liked me so much.