Summary: I was immeasurably blessed to have been born to extraordinary parents and to have spent my youth in an idyllic environment with support, security, and unconditional love. My parents were open minded spiritual seekers, and taught me to be the same. We were active in the only Protestant church in our small town. The Sermon on the Mount was an influence in my early life; I thought that Jesus’ teachings were the way to live and tried to do so, but my commitment was moderate, not compulsive. I entered college with the goal of becoming a preacher.
To repeat briefly what I outlined in my early background: I was immeasurably blessed to have been born to extraordinary parents and to have spent my youth in an idyllic environment. I was a very happy and joyous child, with little to none of the fears, disappointments, mood swings, and emotional challenges that many children face and bring into adult life.
Both of my parents were open minded spiritual seekers. They read broadly and frequently discussed spiritual subjects in my presence. We were members of the Stony Brook Community Church. Mom taught Sunday school and dad occasionally gave a lay sermon. As I got older I would join dad in the lay service by delivering the Bible reading and perhaps helping in other ways that I have long since forgotten.
The key point is that Christianity and the Bible had an early influence on my life. I read the Bible, but not as a fundamentalist, and was particularly drawn to the Sermon on the Mount. My belief that it provides guidance in how to live life was reinforced by mom, and I prayed hard for God to help me bring Jesus’ teachings into my daily life. I wanted to be a good person, to be like Jesus, and as mom always admonished to “think first of others.” But this was a desire, not a compulsion. I believed that it was the way to live and sought to do so, but in concert with all the challenges and fun activities of my youth: school, boy scouts, music, working, etc.
In summary, my childhood provided a solid foundation for continued spiritual growth: