I am the product of a mixed marriage - my father was a committed Agnostic, and my mother was a Social Christian; that is to say, she believed you should go to church because you were expected to go to church.
My maternal grandmother, a Christian Scientist, gave me my own copy of the King James version of the Christian Bible for my seventh birthday. It was a small, thick blue book with my name embossed in gold on the cover. By the age of nine, I had read through the more interesting Old Testament and part of the New Testament, but, despite active encouragement, I never went in for further Bible study. I also attended Sunday School for a few years, but the only impression left on me from that experience was a dislike for dressing up in my Sunday Best.
At home, I was encouraged by my father to decide for myself about religious matters, but the culture in which I grew up still shaped my early thinking. The following verse, from 1965, shows the effects of my upbringing:
The Agnostic's Prayer
If I die before I sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And tend it, fend it from the Foe.
Is there a God? I do not know.
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take
And guard it, ward it, save it well.
Is there a God? I cannot tell.
And if I live another day,
Tomorrow Eve again I'll pray.
For unto Him i, if things pan out,
Give the benefit of the doubt.
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