This bible. I found this bible in my berth on the last day of my cruise to the Bahamas. That’s right, I indulge in a cruise every now and then, a guilty pleasure, a release from stress, nothing I would call religious.
Excuse me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s a priest aboard these ships, maybe there’s one or two walking around in mufti, but not to say mass. I don’t even think there’s a non-denominational chapel with a set of pews where pious passengers kneel in reflection every morning before the festivities begin.
There is, however, a gym equipped to the hilt with newfangled weights and machines to keep bodies tiptop while at sea.
Although you won’t find me in this gym with someone throwing a gigantic medicine ball into my abdomen, you will find others making their bodies fit.
Meanwhile, I’m on the Lido deck, taking in some rays with a secondhand paperback novel in my grip and a plastic glass from the buffet with ice, water, and two splashes of vodka bought offshore, before the exorbitant prices, and kept cold in my berth.
It’s my little way of making this whole trip financially tolerable. Free food, free drink, lots of ocean, and lots of sun for a week. That sounds a lot better than free food, ten dollar beers.
This bible. Here it is again, dormant, patient for a reader.
I found this bible in the top drawer of the desk that I meant to use for writing a short story, some words to round out this weeklong gluttonous debauchery, but of course the Gideons had to be there with their watchful eye.
In the spirit of the times, and so that the Gideon placer didn’t work in vain, I opened the bible with the intention of reading about Lot’s wife disobeying God and looking back at the ravaged city.
To teach her and everyone to follow a lesson, God turns the curious cat into a pillar of salt.
Quite the dramatic image. The destruction of Sodom in the backdrop and, in the fore, a curious statue of salt. The stuff paintings and Disney movies are made out of. The stuff of magic, whim, lore, dreams, and the bible.
It’s intended to be a lecture, a fable, a story to learn from.
Don’t look back, that’s what God’s punishment of Lot’s wife says, don’t look back at the destruction, don’t look back at your origin, only look ahead at all that is promised.
Dylan and Vonnegut know it well.
For me it is only a reason to open the bible.
I wasn’t expecting this graffiti on the first page, usurping HELP IN TIME OF NEED. It gave me pause. I took a sip of vodka and traced its evolution.
God does not exist! –> God does exist! –> God does
It reminded me of debate, of futility. Like covering someone else’s hand with yours. And then your hand is covered by someone else’s. And then you cover someone else’s hand with yours. And then someone else covers your hand. And then another person has to join the mosh pit because both of you are out of hands.
And like this the pattern repeats forever, building a tower of hands and fingers.
Is this what the bible promotes? Smothered hands and gnarled fingers?
Do the Gideon placers wake up in the morn, dress in suits, and trek across the world’s hotels and motels encumbered with boxes of navy blue bibles thinking their purpose is all good, almighty?
Do the Gideon placers walk in peace, in harmony, with a clear conscience, oblivious to the seeds of discord they are planting and nurturing?
These are only questions.