There are current movements to remove Gideon Bibles from hotels. They do, after all, represent a privileged position to Christianity in a nation founded on religious freedom. No one is forcing you to read that Bible, but it is there, like a tell-tale heart, in your bedside table drawer. Thumping incessantly. To read or not to read? What’s on the TV?
My favorite discussions at conferences like this are with scholars who find the privileging of one religion distressing. Our culture is so grown up in so many ways; we are more enlightened about sexuality and gender and race, and yet, and yet… We still like to have that Gideon Bible nearby. We like our political candidates Christian. Preferably Protestant, although a Catholic will do if he (inevitably he) is on the right side of the right issues. We are vaguely and implicitly afraid of those who don’t share our convictions.
In a moment of levity near closing time yesterday, a customer stopped by to say Routledge should have more gimmicks. Many publishers have giveaways, and some have little games that bearded, bespectacled professors sometimes even play. The customer suggest darts, or even a little shooting range. I said, “Guns and theology are sure to lead to trouble.” Although he laughed, I was serious. Few things in this world can be justified as easily as religiously motivated slayings, at least in the minds of the perpetrators. And to borrow a phrase from a budding genius, “That’s just weird.”
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