Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Priest Who Tried To Investigate the Skull of the Apostle Andrew

My father was born and raised in Pratsika, a Greek neighborhood in the southern part of the city of Patras. This was a poor neighborhood where my grandfather John and grandmother Anastasia settled after they got married, soon after coming to Greece as refugees during the Asia Minor population exchange of the 1920's. When my father was growing up after the German occupation and the Greek civil war, Pratsika was known for being the worst part of the city to live in, not only because it was among the poorest, but it was also among the seediest, with prostitutes walking the streets, and the youth often causing problems. However, it was by choice that my grandfather stayed there, since he actually made a lot of money as one of the best electricians in the region, bringing electricity to places often for the first time. His reputation as an electrician was so good, that when the German Nazi's came rolling into town, he was forcefully taken by them and brought to Dachau Concentration Camp to be the electrician there for two years. But upon his return, he became an enraged alcoholic at home and spent all his money taking care of his friends at the coffee houses, which is why it was said of him that he was a great friend but a terrible family man.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What My High School Taught Me About the End of the World in 1994

Not long ago I was going through some old files where I discovered some of my high school writings. Among these was a brief overview about a class I took in my senior year called "The Future." This was an elective course I took as a senior in 1994 because I thought the subject matter was somewhat interesting, and I wanted to take as easy a class as possible for my final semester, which also included watching three or four movies.

What I found unfortunate about this class was the teacher. Despite being Greek and the son of one of the most distinguished Orthodox priests of the Greek Archdiocese, he was a hardcore atheist. When he was my Social Studies teacher, he would spend significant time talking about how stupid it is to believe in God, and he would deny the historical existence of Jesus. Once he asked on a test who was the founder of Christianity. I wrote down Jesus. He marked it wrong, because he considered the Apostle Paul as the founder of Christianity. With his background we should have gotten along great, but he seemed to dislike me because I reminded him of that background which he seemed to totally disavow. But such atheistic rants were common in my high school, so common that I would often skip my classes, not being interested in attending what I called "a communist daycare center."

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My 9/11 Story

My 9/11 story is pretty typical and nothing special, but I remember every moment of it as if it was stamped on my mind.

I was 25 years old at the time and had just returned about a month before 9/11 from a six week trip with my wife traveling throughout Greece and Turkey. While in Constantinople, as my wife and I were walking around one evening, we saw a big mosque up on a hill that I wanted to check out, so we went in to take a look. The imam saw us, a young man with a kind smile, he came up to us, asked who we were and where we were from, and when he found out we were Greek-Americans, he asked us to have tea with him, as he was curious about us and had a bunch of questions, and thus began a nearly three hour conversation that I later wrote down and will share one day. Among the things I asked him was what he thought, as a Muslim imam, about Islamic terrorism, and people like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Remember, this was about a month before 9/11. He replied that they were not Muslims and do not represent true Islam, that they belong to a radical form of Islam and that most Muslims despise them. I was glad and must say a little relieved to hear his response.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Benny Hinn Rejecting the Prosperity Gospel?

Yesterday the news spread that Benny Hinn has publicly rejected the teachings of the prosperity gospel. One of the last people I'd ever expect to hear criticizing the prosperity gospel — the idea that God wants you to be rich — is Benny Hinn. After all, while he was preaching this, he was waving his arms and touching people on the forehead causing them to fall down in forceful and often silly ways, saying it was the power or force of God, yet I haven't heard him reject this. It was this power, which he claimed to be from the "Holy Ghost", that confirmed his teachings and his ministry as a prophet of God. And there is no word yet on what he is going to do with all the wealth he accumulated, though we do hear now that he no longer flies on private jets (whether he flies coach or first class we also don't know). For this and for many other reasons, I am still a bit skeptical how far his rejection goes, though undoubtedly he is heading in the right direction.