Mom is a reader, so I assume I received the reading gene from her. Dad also reads but not to the same extent. My Aunt Jean managed a Walden Books store when I was younger. Needless to say, I always had books lining my bedroom bookshelf. Depending on my age, you could find several Little Golden Books on the shelves along with a series of Grimm’s Fairy Tales—I only recall that the hard cover volumes had no cover designs—or books from the Encyclopedia Brown, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Detective series, Choose Your Own Adventures, or the kids books that have made a comeback: little Mister and Misses series. I’d read them all.
I, however, never knew where the Children’s Bible came from.
Perhaps most Christian kids receive this volume at some point in their early years. So its presence on my shelf should not have been all that strange or remarkable. The thing was that we weren’t a religious family. We didn’t do church except for weddings or funerals or the occasional (okay, one) midnight mass we attended with my grandmother in 1983.
In particular, Dad was not a fan of organized religion. Although his thoughts on this matter have changed, when I was growing up, he didn’t see the point. I don’t recall ever being told God didn’t exist or anything specific like that, but when it came to church, he thought there was some hypocrisy: live any life you chose and, come Sunday, any bad choice could be washed away with a few prayers, kneeling, etc. This left a fairly large impression, perhaps in part because I didn’t see the fun in church. The one time I took communion (during Christmas Eve mass), my mother commanded me to swallow the wine I looked intent on spitting somewhere.
Furthermore, most of our family friends were either non-practicing Christians or Jewish. There was one family who was religious, although I don’t recall the extent. I only remember that they sent their two sons to Catholic school. We tended to have our Little League end-of-season parties in the dining hall on school grounds.
Given all this, it seemed strange that I would have a Bible or that I would ever need or want to read it.
As I’ve aged (I’m 38) I have found more and more reasons to read it. First, I have a bunch of English degrees (B.A. in Lit/Creative Writing, Master’s in English, MFA in Creative Writing). As a text, the Bible is fairly important. Also, since so many works of literature reference or allude to it, I should probably have a sense of it. Second, as a gay man, this book is constantly used to justify bigotry towards one aspect of my identity (that being my sexuality). In order to engage with the people who use it against me personally and fellow gays/lesbians in general, I need to understand what they see when they read it. Third, there’s an even more personal angle: my father has become more religious since marrying my stepmother, and as such, he has some steadfast opinions about life based on the Bible. In order to better understand his point of view (and be able to better engage in discussion about this point of view), I need to finally read one of the most read books ever written.
So I started this blog to document my journey through the Bible, starting with the Old Testament and working my way through the New Testament. More than anything, I’m curious.