Atheists In Foxholes
"My great-grandfather returned from the Somme in the winter of
1916. He was an officer in a Welsh Guards regiment. He had been
gassed and shot and had seen his platoon numerically wiped out
and replaced more than three times since he first took command
of it. He had used his side arm, a Webley revolver, so much that
its barrel was pitted into uselessness. I heard a story about
one of his advances across no-man's-land in which he set out
with a full company and by the time he arrived at the German
wire was one of only two men left alive.
"Until that time, this branch of my family had been Calvinistic
Methodists. . .
"But when he returned from the war, my great-grandfather had
seen enough to change his mind. He gathered the family together
and banned religion in his house. 'Either god is a bastard,' he
said, 'or god isn't there at all.'"
Paul Watkins, "A Friend to the Godless," pp. 40-41, in A
Tremor of Bliss: Contemporary Writers on the Saints, ed. by
Paul Elie, Riverhead Books / Berkeley, 1995.
to Shy David's Higher Criticism Page.