Unintended consequences biographical and sociological
The Queen Victoria School for the Sons of Scottish Soldiers, Seamen and Airmen in Perthshire was my home for eight years. Being a military institution, it had church parades and, being military church parades, they were compulsory. Thus, from the age of 9, I attended a 15-minute church service every weekday morning with a full hour-long service on a Sunday. I sang the hymns and I heard the lessons from the Bible. The communal singing was fun, the language of the King James translation impressive, the sermons short, and I cannot recall actually believing any of it. Nor was I exceptional. Like that of the soldiers of Chiang Kai-Shek, who were marched under a hose-pipe in a mass baptism, the faith of the Sons of Scottish Soldiers, Seamen and Airmen was communal, social, and nominal. Neither of my parents were Christians. My father was an Aberdeenshire farm loon who in the early 1930s appreciated what the tractor would do to the demand for farm labor and joined the army. Like most people from the rural lowlands, he was a sporadic Presbyterian church attender who was suspicious of anyone who was “awﬁe religious.” My mother, a Bulgarian who was raised in the Orthodox Church, was similarly uninterested in religion.