Daniel Bishop stumbled—or rather, snoozed—upon the University of Dallas on a DART ride home from work at the Perot Museum in 2017.
“When I was coming back one day, I was so tired that I didn’t realize that I had got on the orange line instead of the green line,” Bishop said.
“It was my normal practice to fall asleep on the train and set an alarm for right before my stop,” Bishop said. “So I did that, but I didn’t realize that I was on the wrong train because it’s all the same stops until a certain point. One way goes up to Carrollton and one goes up to University of Dallas.”
“As I was sleeping, I was woken up by a voice that said: ‘Next stop: University of Dallas station.’ I didn’t know what ‘University of Dallas’ was. So I thought I had gone in the wrong direction or something and ended up at UTD in Richardson,” said Bishop. “I freaked out and jumped up and ran out of the train.”
What happened next, Bishop explained, set him on his path to attend UD.
“I went up the stairs and saw this tower and the Italian flag and a sign that said ‘University of Dallas.’ I never heard of that before,” Bishop said. “I looked up the website and decided I wanted to go to college now and it was just in time to apply.”
Bishop took two gap years before enrolling at UD.
Although attending a Roman Catholic university, Bishop is a Greek Orthodox Christian.
Bishop attended the Spring 2019 Rome program, and a highlight of his Rome semester was his visit to Mount Athos in northeast Greece.
Mt. Athos is a mountain that contains 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and is under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
“In addition to the Greece trip, I went to Greece on ten day with a Romanian priest from Rome to go visit Mt. Athos,” Bishop said.
BIshop traveled by car and ferry to get to Mt. Athos.
“We stayed at a Monastery on the way, kept driving, got on a ferry and went to the end of the peninsula,” Bishop said.
Bishop stayed at two Orthodox Christian monasteries during his pilgrimage.
“We call [Mt. Athos] ‘the holy mountain.’ It’s been a place of monasteries and sort of a separation from the world for over a thousand years. They still fly the Byzantine flag and keep Byzantine time,” Bishop said. “They have preserved the spiritual heart of Orthodoxy and so it’s a very central pilgrimage place for Orthodox men.”
Bishop is the president of UD’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship chapter and attends Divine Liturgy at the nearby St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Euless.
“It’s great being Orthodox here,” Bishop said. “One of the main motivations for deciding on UD was because I wanted to understand what it means to be a person of an eastern faith in a western world. I wanted to understand the western intellectual tradition better.”
“I wanted to understand the world I live in, not just the world over there,” Bishop explained. “I got to do that in Rome, in Greece and Romania. To see the cradle of my faith.”
Bishop sees the differences in faith as a difference in approach to philosophy and discipline.
“For the west, philosophy is seens as kind of the governing discipline of the arts and general academia,” Bishop said.
“In the history of my tradition, mystical theology is the governing discipline of learning associated with religion,” Bishop said. “The kind of learning at UD is different than the kind of learning I do, or try to do, to learn about my faith. It is a lot more focused on practice and the liturgy—not to say there is not that in the west.”
“Before you even pick up a book and start learning about philosophy, before you begin reading the Greek philosophers even, for Orthodox Christians the important thing to learn is how to pray and to learn how to experience mysticism through the practices of the church, through the ordinary experiences,” Bishop said. “Every time we go to liturgy, we call the sacraments ‘mysteries.’”
Bishop’s Orthodox faith centers more around experience, rather than the Roman Catholic pedagogical approach.
“The focus is a little bit different,” Bishop said. “It’s not as much about trying to make distinctions as it is about trying to come into contact with the experience.”
Bishop contributes to the diverse Christian backgrounds at UD which connect us to the larger, universal Christian family.