January 29, 2011
So, you all remember my friends Victor and Cathryn, who live in the now-distant land of Los Angeles. Cathryn and I are best friends from long, long ago in the seventies, when we lived together in an apartment whose living room we painted Grecian Rose, which made it very Bordello-like, and we thought we were awesome. She is my cheap friend who brings fine maple syrup into IHOP, which she introduced me to when I first landed in La-La Land three years ago.
Well, Cathryn’s husband Victor is much wiser than us, but he loves us both just the way we are and puts up with our infantile approach to chocolate (i.e., eating it whenever he isn’t in the house). He also puts up with the Housewives shows that we must discuss at dinners out while he rolls his eyes in exasperation, and he puts up with our generally reckless, ridiculous behavior, which shows we are still stuck in the seventies.
Anyway, last January Cathryn and I decided to fulfill a bucket-list item and read the Bible from cover to cover. We bought identical Bibles at Barnes and Noble before seeing some movie or other. The movie was intellectually too lowbrow for Victor’s taste, but he had nothing else to do and no other friends around, so he joined us anyway. After the movie we were discussing the year of the Bible read over lunch.
Victor started it all. “You two will never read the Bible this year. It will not happen.”
“Why Victor, why ever would you say that?” I asked.
“Because you two never finish anything except a box of Ring Dings, and reading the Bible is a huge commitment to excellence and intellectual curiosity—and commitment is something that neither one of you has ever mastered.”
We were both outraged. Outraged, I tell you.
“Victor,” I said haughtily. “Put your big money where your big mouth is. How much?”
It’s hard to remember exactly how the conversation went, and I’m hoping that the answer was $100—but my gut tells me there was additional conversation about how if it wasn’t enough, we wouldn’t take it seriously, and so it would have to be $1,000. Actually, I know it was $1,000 but I’m hoping he doesn’t. Actually, we all know it was $1,000, and I’m screwed.
Here is the bottom line. We read the first chapter and discussed it. Genesis. VERY depressing, VERY repetitive, and filled with much more violence than I had realized. We hated it. If the truth be known, that was the last chapter I can honestly say I read. Cathryn? I can’t speak for her, but I can say with certainty that she didn’t finish the book. She would have gloated.
I have recently joined a Bible Study Group and am reading Corinthians now, and again, the writing style has no style. It’s repetitive, and let’s face it, Paul is nothing if not inconsistent. But I’m in it to win it, and still going.
Which leads me to the point. You were right, Victor, and I was wrong, and I owe you $1,000, which is a lot of money. I am writing to eat crow in front of the world and to see if you are interested in double-or-nothing for next year? If not, I will send the check, but only because I have to try to be a woman of my word—which clearly isn’t the case, or I would have finished the Bible when I said I would.
So, you interested in double-or-nothing or what?
Here was Victor’s response: Bastard…
Double or nothing and the same next year and thereafter when you are on the Quran and then the Talmud. My financial future is now totally assured.
March 20, 2022
Well, I did read most of the Bible over the ensuing years. I even made notes; and I had favorite passages and more and more I realized in my own mind that it was written by men, for men, to solidify power. But that’s another topic for another blog another time.
And, I have read parts of the Quran, and even the Talmud, which I think wins my personal taste test of which is the best of them all.
So, I end with the idea that we each can write our own Bible. That voice inside me that I call ‘God’ that reminds me right from wrong and sometimes has to hit me over the head to remind me to listen to my better angels. And, every day I write, with gratitude, in my journal, thoughts I get to call my own. I get to write here about politics and family and the fact that I am still moving, albeit more slowly than ten years ago, and that I have choice. Real choice, and that all books are meant to be read and retained in whatever way works for each of us individually. Some are for enjoyment in the moment and some give me information that help carve out the way I want to live my life.
I looked up the definition of the word ‘bible.’
a book regarded as authoritative in a particular sphere.
“Larousse Gastronomique,” the bible of French cooking"
I never collected my thousand dollars from Victor.
I have not read any of these books (other than passages here and there), though I have a copy of each in my library. Given your takes on the dense, repetitive, and disjointed texts, is it possible a) that they were never intended to be read cover to cover and/or b) that they made for easier reading/listening during the centuries in which they were respectively written, revised. and governed societies much more impactfully and broadly than the 21st century? P.S. ring dings are worthy items to be finished in their entireties and you both should be proud of the accomplishment.