Thomas Cosmades





Here was a young man plucked out of a quiet and slow-moving Anatolian town and thrust into the vast metropolis of Istanbul where fast life was the accepted norm.  What temptations would lure this young person, the proud owner of a profitable business?  A lot of options were open before him.  Vast varieties of allurements beckoned and stimulated ó like the most exciting video.  Many a young person found himself ensnared by catastrophic pitfalls from which he could not extricate himself.  Others achieved success by choosing a wisely-studied direction. Every young person leaving Anatolia and making his way to a city like Istanbul had his own story to tell. What would Vahram do?  Was there any difference between him and other young people? 

One day a few fellow tailors said to him, "We've planned a great time for this evening.  Do you want to join in the fun?"  Without a second thought Vahram agreed.  They met at a given point.  He joined them not knowing where they were leading him.  Soon he found himself in a section of the city known for its cheap movie houses.  Excited by the explicit female pictures, he surrendered his then valuable coin of twenty-five kurush at the box office and hurried into the cinema.  His friends made him feel even more excited as they shouted, "Just you wait.  You're really going to see something now!"  Vahram was having his first cinema experience and was musing about what cinema is, how it works, and what he was going to see.  His imagination was leaping in every direction.

The instant the curtains opened he was left speechless by this twentieth century invention.  Very soon, confronted by the explicit pictures, his unspoiled feelings stirred him to think, "What business do you have in such a place?"  In a flash the story of Abraham and Isaac and the exemplary life of Gregory the Illuminator came to mind.  He was shaken by the stark contradiction between those sacred visions and what he was seeing on the screen.  He could hardly wait for the film to end.  Leaving the movie house he didnít say a word to his friends.  There was nothing he could say!  He lacked the spiritual reality by which he might have persuaded his friends to turn their attention to the satisfaction that lasts.  The next week his friends again asked him, "Vahram, do you want to join us for some great fun?"  He couldn't muster any resistance.  "All right," he said sheepishly.  This time they went in another direction and plunged down a long passage-way lined with flashing lights, to the entrance of the exciting show.  Everybody was eagerly waiting for the curtain to rise.  When it did, a titter spread across the room.  On the stage a woman teasingly began to take off her clothes.  The sight was so electrifying that every eye and every thought were fastened on her.  But instead of enjoying it Vahram felt very uncomfortable.  "Come on, let's get out of here!" he said to the friend sitting beside him.  "What?" guffawed his companion.  "We paid good money to get in here.  Whoever heard of anyone leaving a striptease?"  Only then did Vahram learn that the show was called "striptease", and he vowed, "This is the last time that I fall for any dirty trick."  Coming away from the night-club, while his friends kept re-living what they had seen, he trudged on with a heavily burdened heart.  He learned later that this was called, 'conviction of sin.'

Next time he wanted to take them in a different direction.  "Come on," he said, "Let's go to church this Sunday."  They made fun of him: "Thatís for old fogies.  Let's enjoy ourselves while we're young!"  He realised that from then on he would have to take a lonely road.  All alone he would go to church, light a candle, mutter a prayer and pay his respects.

Leaving the church he felt affected, but his inner burden remained.  "Strange," he said to himself, "I wonder how I can get rid of this burden."  So began Vahramís great search for reconciliation with God, peace in his heart and for God Himself. 


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