The Story of Nikos
I was a subscriber to a magazine “Flight and Space”. This periodical although militant in nature, had great articles about space which interested me. In one of their issues they wrote something against those who refused military service for reasons of conscience. This made me very upset, so I needed to write a response. I thought, “the organization may have other dogmatic errors” but on this issue “it is correct”! Thus I wrote a letter to the editor and as a former anti-militarist my response was no less than [vitriolic – scorching]. Actually my letter was published and in the following issue a plethora of (pro-war) readers was attempting to answer my letter.
That particular evening, my wife and I went to visit Vlasis at his country home. His brother-in-law Megaritis was also there. This man had served the organization at Bethel, and some time prior he had left from there to become a pioneer. I found out from someone else that he left not being able to bear the violations of Roulis at Bethel. What caused him to leave, I learned later, was the exorbitant lawless profit, earned by the organization from the sale of “tiropites” (Greek cheese pies), at conventions, which was around 1000%. But now he didn’t see these things, so his conscience was at [rest, peace].
During the course of the conversation, I made reference to my letter, and if I remember correctly I had it with me and I showed it to them. The following day however, I would run into a surprise.
That same evening Vlasis was discussing with his brother-in-law about the recent article of the “watchtower” which spoke about the symbolism of Job and Elijah.
"But this symbolism cannot be right!" He told his brother-in-law and he explained the reasons.
"- But the organization is writing this!", the other one reminded him.
"- Yes, of course! If the organization is writing it, this is how it is!" he agreed, making my stomach turn.
There right in front of me I had two people who chose to be blind! No! Surely this was not the religion that sometime ago had made me proud. It did not consist of truth searchers but of walking gramophones who played over and over again the words of the organization like broken records, whether they believed them or not! It was an embarrassment to belong to such an organization.
There was also a positive side to that evening. My wife seeing Vlasis doubt some doctrines of the organization began to look at my doubts more favorably, thinking that maybe the dogma of 1914 was wrong after all. Thus some other day when we were studying she observed a certain contradiction (that I hadn’t noticed), which made her conclude 1914 to be false all by herself. So for quite a few months before and up to my disfellowhip my wife had overcome her bias to a great degree.
That evening had also a short term negative consequence. The next day I was called by Vlasis.
"I spoke to Megaritis about you!", he said.
"- Why? Didn’t we agree not to open the subject anymore?", I asked.
"- When you told us about the letter you sent to that periodical, after you left he expressed to me that you have an inde-pendent spirit, and all those who acquire such a spirit depart from the organization rather quickly. So I explained to him what was happening so he would give me his advice", he explained to me.
"- How my letter bothered him? I sent another letter to a periodical once before about evolution, and not only they did not scold me, but the “area bishop” at the time even praised me!" I said
"- Evolution is one thing and military service is something else! If Bethel wanted, it could send a letter, they wouldn’t wait for you!", he answered.
"- And what did Megaritis say to you?", I asked.
"- He advised me to wash my hands with this matter because when you begin to speak out, a wave of apostasy will be crated on the island and all the responsibility will fall on me, because I was covering you!"
"- But Klakas, the “presbyter of my own ‘church’” knows this!", I protested.
"- Klakas is keeping it a secret because I promised to shoulder all responsibility! If something happens, I will have major problems!", he answered.
"- What are you thinking to do?", I asked.
"- If I’m not mistaken you have a cousin with a good [“post, position”] Bananis".
"- Yes, he married my father’s niece!", I agreed.
"- He is also my friend! So I would ask him what would be the right thing to do! He will not betray you! He has taken part in spiritual courts against apostates and he is very knowledgeable in these circumstances. So don’t worry! I will also ask him if at the great convention of this month there will be some change on the dogma of 1914. If, as you feel, the change is imminent them you will not have a problem!"
"- Do whatever you think is best, but be careful that you don’t blow up my family to pieces!" Deep down though I was seeing that another step had been taken for my disfellowhip. Two more individuals were now entering the picture and who God knows who else! Well, I needed to do something! I would sit like a sheep to be slaughtered! At least they could engage me in a conversation to prove me wrong!
Since they would make this public knowledge, I would even do this on a greater scale! When they would cut me off, it would be too late to warn others about the delusion! No one would listen to me. I needed to act now to help as many people as I could, to escape this delusion. Thus I looked for opportunities to discuss the subject with anyone I could. I was also preparing a letter to share with “the witnesses” when my disfellowship was decided, and certain.