As mentioned in the first post, I recently joined a writers group and we were given a topic to write about — the Bible. The following short story is what I came up with.
“Never put a drink glass down on top of a bible!” she squalled. “Don’t you have any respect for anything? The Bible is not a coaster”.
“Well, at least I didn’t put it on the coffee table, like you also told me not to do. What difference does it make? Who cares?” I heard my indifferent teenage self say.
“God cares. That’s who.” And you should have more respect for Him. It just shows a lack of respect, that’s all. When your grandmother was alive she carried the Bible with her everywhere she went. Even to the grocery store. She would lie it in the buggy and up and down the aisles people would look at her funny, but she didn’t care. She was proud to show her faith”.
“I guess she never accidentally dropped a bag of pretzels on top of The Bible in the buggy then?” Oh, the brilliant comebacks of the smart-mouthed teenager.
“No. She did not”, my Mother said, glaringly disappointed.
That conversation happened years ago, but to this day I still don’t put things on top of the Bible, even though I do not carry the same level of respect for the Bible as my mother wishes I did.
I do own a bible. It even has my name engraved on it, in gold print, and spelled correctly, too. It was given to me when I was five years old, after the passing of my grandmother, the same grandmother who carried a bible with her everywhere she went. It was my inheritance, this bible. My only inheritance from my grandmother, who must have had about 30 grandchildren at the time, all of whom received the same St. James Bible, fresh and crisp with golden trimmed edges, and a golden name engraved on the red leather cover, which arrived wrapped in a gold-painted cardboard box.
I remember the day my mother gave it me. “This is from your grandmother in heaven”, she said. “How the hell did she manage sending the bible from heaven?” my 5 year old mind must have wondered, because my mother then explained that before my grandmother died and went to heaven she made these arrangements with my Aunt Grace, who must have helped in the delivering and ordering of the bibles. Well, that makes a little more sense.
As a five year old typically does not read bibles, mine laid on my shelf, face-up, nothing ever placed on top of it, for years, I’m sure, before I ever opened those golden edged pages again.
I don’t remember when I did actually try to read the bible. Maybe I was in middle school, or maybe it was high school. I’m fairly certain I didn’t get very far, especially because everything written in the bible seemed to be in conflict with the feelings I had about the world around me at the time. A wife should obey her husband? Horse shit. What a load of crap. And that was it for my single track adolescent mind.
Indeed, it was years before I picked up my bible again. And I don’t remember ever reading it the whole way through, though I’m sure I have taken some words to heart, and, like most people, looked past the words that didn’t suit my own personal beliefs.
People have used the bible to suit their own beliefs and to acquire power and to motivate the masses for years – for good and for bad. Wars have been waged, prejudices deepened, and endless self-righteousness abounds from the misconstruing of its words. On the flip side, it has been used to promote charity, community, and morals that make for a strong society and solidify people for a common good. Not to mention, it has also caused people to fight for freedom. And nothing is ever wrong with freedom.
And even though I don’t make it a religious habit, I like to take my Bible out of its golden box and run my fingers over my name, inhaling the aroma only an old book can give. And maybe it’s not the words inside or where the words supposedly came from that cause me to pay heed to my mother’s instructions, but rather the idea of having respect for a physical object so many people have held sacred, especially my grandmother, who I never really knew, that causes me to (for once) listen to my mother.