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I didn’t always go to church; in fact, I didn’t start attending anywhere regularly until I was in the ninth grade. But I wasn’t exactly a stranger to church. Occasionally, this friend or that one would invite me to go to Sunday School.

I remember one time -- I must have been in about the fourth grade -- this kid at school asked me to go with him. He said I should bring my Bible, which didn’t seem to me to be an unreasonable request. The only problem was, I wasn’t even sure I had a Bible. So I asked my mother about it. She said we did, but she wasn’t sure where it was. We searched around for it, and when we found it, I could see that it was in pretty sorry shape. It was not an expensive Bible, and so it hadn’t weathered our treatment of it very well. The pages were yellowed and somewhat brittle, and the cover, which I think was actually paper, was made to look like leather. And it was in disrepair. The binding had come loose in places, and, on the whole, this particular volume of the Good Book looked like it needed to be on life support!

But that’s the Bible we had, and it’s the one I took. I remember sitting in the small circle of fourth-grade boys, all uncomfortably dressed in their Sunday best. Whenever the teacher asked us to look something up in our Bibles, I had to be careful with mine. It required very delicate handling. And still, every time I opened it, a small piece of it seemed to fall to the floor at my feet. By the time the hour was over, I had quite a little pile of holy clutter beneath my chair! I still find myself hoping that no one else noticed.

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