While I was at Bethel I developed a deep desire to study Ancient Greek. I wanted to truly LEARN something, as opposed to simple ingestion of the FDS's "prepared dishes of spiritual food."
I knew there were a few at Bethel who had studied Ancient Greek, and I wanted to connect with someone and see if they might be willing to tutor me a little bit. Asking around, however, revealed that 99% of the people looked at me, or the person I was trying to contact, with either derision or suspicion, thinking I was unqualified to even embark on such a task, that I was inherently lacking faith that the WT scholars knew the languages themselves, or that I was being presumptuous.
I never connected with any other amateur scholars, although knowing of a few, but began doing my own research. One brother in my department gave me a book he had been given by a worldly relative, an intro to ancient Greek, that I began studying on my own. Every morning I would read the daily text scriptures through the Interlinear, writing down Greek words I didn't know in a ledger, then studying those words with Liddel and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (which I still have) and other study aids later in my room.
I really enjoyed my studies, and it made everything else so much enjoyable, since it finally gave some depth to my studies past merely underlining statements written by the WTS. It was also helping me to be more content at Bethel, since I had something to myself, of my own, that I could submerge myself in intellectually.
The most telling thing is that, even as a Bethelite, I knew it was something that I couldn't just share indiscriminantly, that it could be misconstrued as a lack of faith in the FDS if I shared what I was learning and expounded on scripture beyond that which was sanctioned. And yet, intellectually, spiritually, that was what I longed to do. To make it my OWN.
This was the closest I ever got to having a personal relationship with God. But like all good things, that came to an end later, its demise helped along by being forced out of Bethel after achieving the dream of living there and trying to become a "man of God."
Sometimes I feel like I should have been born a Catholic, or some other more traditional religion, one in which personal investigation into theological matters is not discouraged.