What outrageous behaviour! As always, context is everything.
On Sunday I was sitting in a day room on a hospital ward with my husband and his parents, as we waited for my father-in-law to be discharged. He was already feeling much better after having an artery unclogged.
There were a few magazines on the table, and my husband rifled through them.
“Pass me that New Testament and Psalms,” I told him. “I’ll read something edifying.”
Or so I thought.
This bible had been used almost as a journal. No, wrong word. It was, in many respects, a book of names. Names of people who were guilty of certain things. I’m not joking. In effect, this man had written lists of ‘sinners’, those who would not enter the Kingdom of God.
Hence there were things like ‘Fornication: Rosemary’, written in there. In some bible passages words were underlined and notes added at the side: ‘Roger – a weed, a son of the devil.’ (These weren’t the actual names written.) Probably just as well I didn’t look up the sheep and the goats passage. I get the impression this man would have made a copious list of those with goat-like qualities.
Admittedly he at least included himself on these lists.
But I sat there, eyes popping, and hissed to my husband “I can’t leave this here!!”
I thought about binning it there and then but then another patient came in and I baulked at the idea of him seeing me bin a Gideon’s bible.
“I’m going to steal it,” I hissed. And I did, subtly sliding it into my handbag. There was a bookmark with a bible verse in my bag, so I put that on the table instead, not having a bible to hand.
Yesterday we got home and I put it in the bin. Today it was collected by the rubbish lorry.
I do not regret it; although perhaps I should have added one more entry: STEALING: Lucy Mills.
Well. God can judge me.
In the meantime I pray for the man who wrote those awful lists. Yes, I do know his name. And no, I’m not going to write it here.