Posted by: drjamm | November 2, 2008

Where’s my Bible?

I can’t find my Bible. I’ve looked everywhere — all the usual places and even many of the unusual places. What makes my predicament rather embarrassing is that I hid my Bible so no one would see it in my house — no one except me. Unfortunately, I hid that Bible so well that, even now, I don’t  know where it is. (true confessions from my personal journal)

I really should mention that it is rather risque for a Unitarian to admit to owning a Bible. My official story is that I have a Bible because I studied biblical literature during my University undergraduate years. Twenty years ago, studying the Bible as literature was personally a more palatable option for me than, say, going to a Bible study group. Even today, I find claiming that I have a Bible for reference purposes is one thing, but admitting that I might read the Bible is quite another matter. As a Unitarian I proudly forage widely for my religious inspirations — the Bible being one of the important religious texts I use for contemplation. But when I recently reorganized my bookcase, I discovered I was very uncomfortable placing my Bible out on “public” view; my Bible seemed so mainstream — so Christian (New Testament included)– standing on its own up there on the book case. As I squirmed with the discomfort of seeing my Bible on the living room bookcase, I don’t think I could have felt more exposed if I had displayed my contraceptives for my visiting family and friends to see.

I realized I did not want my visitors to think I had returned to mainstream Christianity. It is hard enough “coming out” as a Unitarian multi-faith spiritual adventurer. Now, why I care what my relatives and visiting friends might think of my reading a Bible is an embarrassing matter for a whole other blog entry. Suffice it to say that, in the end, I could not leave my Bible out there — solo — on my bookcase, so I found a convenient, out of the way hiding place where I could have my Bible at hand for easy reference, and at the same time, did not have to worry about the religious statement that Bible might make to visitors looking at my book case.

And that is how I lost my Bible. I have no idea where that “handy-out-of-the-way-place” may be. I discovered my Bible was lost when I hit upon an inspired notion: I decided to gather together all the spiritual and religious texts that are lying about my house — piled in every corner — and collect them all together on my bookcase. In my inspired moment, I imagined that seeing my Bible nestled in with all the other multi-faith texts, my bookcase would declare “A Unitarian lives here!” I even found a really amazing source of second hand, very cheap, religious texts to add to my library. So now my book case looks very Unitarian with its inspiring collection of texts translated from diverse languages such as, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Sanskrit, and Mandarin. I love reading and admiring all these beautiful, old, well-loved and well-thumbed religious texts — all but my Bible which remains hidden somewhere in my house. Sometimes, I lie awake at night alternating between marveling at my emotional “baggage” around the Bible and trying to think of new places to look for my missing Bible. As a sign of my optimism, I have left a gap in my bookcase between the Torah and the Qur’an for my Bible’s eventual return.

Credits and links: Still Life with Bible, Oil on canvas, 65.7 x 78.5 cm., Nuenen: October, 1885 (F 117, JH 946) in Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?lang=nl

(bright heart singing, copyright 2008 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.) https://brightheartsinging.wordpress.com

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Responses

  1. Do any of the various books in your collection evoke such strong reaction if, for instance it were alone on the shelf for all to see, or would there be such a search for it if missing? It seems to have a strong effect for you. Just wondering.

    BTW – I don’t check my email often but if you have time to respond I’d like that.

  2. Hello Shaun,

    You have picked up on exactly my issue — I still have baggage around what the bible represents. My childhood experiences and now my adult reconsideration of the Bible makes the Bible a complicated text for me.

    When I considered your question about whether any other of my texts evoke such strong reactions, I have to say my statistics books send a shiver of horror down my spine. Not because I don’t like statistics — I quite enjoy stats actually — but the learning atmosphere was far from ideal and the very pages of the stats books seem steeped with bad memories of psychologically unhealthy events. Since I do on occasion need to reference these texts I have placed them way high up on my book shelf so they are rarely in my direct line of sight.

    Isn’t it amazing how my bookcase can tell my life story not just by what books I don’t have, but also, by what books are on the shelf, and WHERE they are on the shelf.

    Thank you for your question and the chance to think further on this matter.
    Jessica


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