An informal apology
I am by no means, even remotely close to having scholarly knowledge of Christian or Orthodox apologetics. I speak for no one and on no ones behalf. This is just my own subjective experience in how I came to know Christ. Just to make it clear, I am only aware of a small portion of my ignorance, and am certain that the ignorance of which I’m not aware of is still far greater.
As I roughly explained in Does 1+1 always =2, I came increasingly aware of my unawareness as a teen. It actually started way before that, I remember at the age of about four. I was at friend’s birthday party and some of the kids were in a circle around some toys that my friends mother had placed there. She gave us instruction and said, “Now everyone, pick one each.”
So immediately I began to pick up one of each kind of toy as my hands became full I noticed that the other kids had only taken one toy each. It was upon recognizing this that I was snatched up from the circle by the mother and put in the corner as she was telling me “your selfish David, didn’t you see the other kids could follow my directions.” “Why did you do that?” “It doesn’t matter, you can keep what you took but that’s it, no more toys for you and just sit right there till I say you can get up.”
This was a common scenario in my child hood. It became quite evident that I misunderstood my environment and particularly what others were saying. In fact to a degree it still follows me to this day but hopefully iv learned to be better adapted to accepting communication from others. My progress in this matter however was not natural but rather, leaned.
What I mean by natural and learned is this. When watching other people talk I could see two different conversations occurring. It seemed like Person A is talking about chewing gum and person B was talking about the sun. A would go on for a bit then B would respond and back and forth, seeming to me as two distinct topics but they seemed to understand each other quite well.
I also noticed how people acted and reacted with each other. There seemed to be some kind of mystical, magical, or otherwise unseen force which allowed people to connect and communicate telepathically. This was obviously an isolating observation.
By my teens I had not really made much improvement in understanding others but began to make some wonderful friends which allowed me to acquire some experience in a social setting. I watched people closely (which I often heard the words “quit staring at me.”) Eventually I learned to observe without staring but what I began to notice is that human behavior seemed to be habitual and conditioned.
So once I found the patterns and could predict them in certain individuals I could then mirror them even If I didn’t understand the actions or words themselves. This turned out to be a great boon for my self-esteem and social success, especially as I improved it after graduation. Later I learned about these concepts in studying psychology and expanded my understanding about human nature and communication a little better.
Eventually I did become well adapted in professional environments but even as an adult I can recall one of my bosses telling his superior, “now be careful what you tell David to do, because he will do exactly what you tell him to do.” Which we all laughed, I had established a good reputation in my profession at the time.
The point of this before I ramble is noticing children that grew up in a social environment at early ages were naturally and automatically adapted to connecting with others. But for me, by the time I was in the eighth grade I had changed schools fourteen times (I think.) I had to , as a child and teen, study human behavior, communication, habit, and all the whys of people’s interactions.
Even now for people who know me personally can see quite obviously my oddities and eccentricities but luckily I seem to be well received by most. Iv never been diagnosed but it’s quite clear to me from this and other behaviors that I may be autistic.
So right off the bat I was at a disadvantage/advantage depending on perspective. I was forced to challenge my thinking and understanding of things. I couldn’t take anything for granted or assume the honesty of my perception. If only for the sake of staying out of trouble.
Stupid is as intelligent does!! What?
One of the most important and impactful kindness ever shown me was in the tenth grade by my good friend that I will call Brian O’Conner. We’ve lost touch over the years but I hope to someday thank him.
See I had a sub-average intelligence. I mean I was stupid, like really I thought and believed I was literally stupid. I had been told so and treated as such by teachers and other kids for as long as I could remember. I was even put in a little booth or half cage like box to keep me focused or something I don’t remember.
Don’t know if its real or not but I heard I was put on the “dummy track.” which if I understand correctly it was a program to get dumb kids though school. In other words, I was passed from grade to grade with what should have been failing grades. Makes me think of Forest Gump’s million dollar wound that he never saw a nickel of.
I fell into a game aptly called The Game with some of the sci-fi kids (this was late 90s so nerds were often in the cool status.) It was a rpg like game played not with dice but knowledge of pseudo theoretical physics and ones ability to argue superior information in battle.
The co-inventor of this game Brian, was well-known for his intelligence. I think he grew up to be a nuclear engineer. Well, part of the game required you to invent and explain technology for defense and weaponry using theoretical principles. Ofcorse being competitive in nature I researched and learned as much as I could to enhance my status in The Game. Upon doing so I brought several patents to him for moderation and one day while explaining to him anti-matter and its properties that powered my spaceships he cooked his head. I stopped talking and he began to express to me how intelligent he thought I was.
He started hanging out with me and inviting me to do stuff with him and his friends after this. Which really was the best part of this encounter. The other kids didn’t really care for me because I still wasn’t acclimated to appropriate social behavior and often quite obnoxious but they tolerated me at least for Brian’s sake. Some of which did come to be good friends later on.
But any way, I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say, I had never heard this before. In pre-defense of my self I didn’t get the big head because for one I didn’t really believe him as he was just one out of many and second I still knew I saw the world very differently than anyone else I had encountered which common since is clear that the many tend to be more correct than the few.
I did however explore this possibility as I’m naturally curious and I wanted to explain why he could have such a wild assumption about me. Remember I really did think I was dumb and had accepted this. In my investigations of this problem I eventually came to the conclusion (to make a long story short) that there were different kinds of intelligences in which some areas I failed and in others I excelled.
There was a great benefit to me however in investigating my friends comments. I learned about perception, paradigm, assumption, opinion, etc. For example my first job as a bag boy at a grocery store down the street. On my first day I saw a big red sign in the back of the store that said “Town in Meat Best”. What? What the hades is that? That doesn’t make any sense.. why would they put that there. I was perturbed and every day I would come into the store and stare at the sign trying to figure it out until one day It finally hit me, “Best Meat in Town”
As it turns out a very important lesson. I could write a trilogy just on that experience but wont. I’m sure you can perceive at least some of its implications. I did though, come to understand for the first time that I was at least in part dyslexic. I not only turned words and numbers around but it thought backwards also. The really disturbing part is that once I had made up my mind what the sign said It was only after careful study of the sign that allowed me to finally see it correctly.
I made the hypothesis that if I could train my eyes to see correctly and my brain to think in order then I should have a clearer picture of my environment. I tested this hypothesis by re-examining my approach to math. I sat down and read the rules to math again and began working some problems. Being aware of my confusion in the matter allowed me to focus my thoughts and double-check my figures. As it turns out I probably got the process all along, I was just getting stuff mixed up. Now just to clarify I still can’t do 9-4 without using my fingers but I at least can work them If I know the rules and have instruments. Ultimately it comes down for me the understanding of logic.
Logic being the only tool I had to evaluate reality and misperception. The only measure I could rely on to find some kind of foundation for which I could build my life. Needless to say ,I hope anyway, iv well established that I was on my way to a strong skeptic mind. Questing and doubting everything. Eventually my world view would lead me through, among others, what I understand today to be called ontology, empiricism, rationalism and my favorite redefining of common sense to naïve reality.
Humm… Sorry I didn’t reach a conclusion today but I’m tired of typing and your probably tired of reading so ill call it quits for now and do this in installments. Thank you for reading and I hope I can keep your interest for the rest of the story. 🙂
P.S. I’m very open to commentary. If there are any questions, personal stories or criticism you wont hurt my feelings so feel free 🙂