In 1986, Czechoslovakian novelist Ivan Klima published a series of autobiographical essays entitled, My First Loves. These essays describe some of his moral struggles as a young agnostic seeking for answers without any explicit moral framework within which to frame those struggles. He’s a young man, full of sexual passion, but hesitant to act out sexually, even as all his peers, men and women, seemingly do not share that same reticence. He remains celibate, but isn’t sure why; certainly it’s not for religious reasons since he’s agnostic. Why is he living as he is? Is he being responsible or is he simply uptight and lacking in nerve?

He’s unsure and so he asks himself: if I died and there is a God and I met that God, what would God say to me? Would God chastise me for being uptight or would God praise me for carrying my solitude at a high level? Would God look at me with disappointment or would he congratulate me for going without consolation?

As he writes this book, Klima doesn’t know the answer to that question. He’s not sure what God would say to him and whether at any given moment God is smiling or frowning upon him.

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