Ever since I can remember, I have been conscious of being anxious; my anxiety has prompted much of my action, including many of my creative acts. My anxiety has two causes; I am anxious to play a good and useful part in the society in which I am a participant [is that a cause?]; but I am also anxious for fear that, if I am not preoccupied by mundane activities, I shall find myself spiritually naked and unscreened in the presence of the Ultimate Spiritual Reality that I have encountered, so far, only in two brief experiences. I am taking refuge from a recurrence of these experiences when I immerse myself in work; and this is just as cowardly, and just as frivolous, as turning on the television (a form of escapism which I arrogantly despise). Here I am confessing my agreement that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews 10:31]. This is strange because, when I am thinking rationally, I am a religious agnostic.
Gropings in the Dark, essay, September 1973, in An Historian’s Approach to Religion, second edition (previously unpublished), with new Preface, May 1978, by Veronica Toynbee, OUP, 1979, posthumous