It has been at least four years since I have read my Bible in a public space. I read all sorts of things in public, but I typically read them on a Kindle. However, the Bible is still something I read a physical copy of on most mornings following a regular reflection period called Lectio Divina.
Reading sacred scriptures is still a part of my own personal spiritual life but I made the decision to not read the Bible in public for the same reason I would never read 50 Shades of Grey in a public space.
Many of us remember when 50 Shades of Grey came out as a book. It became such a “hush hush” book to read. There was a noticeable distaste as families walked by the rack of book in Target. The reasoning is because it is a book series about male sexual domination over a woman and her desire to help make him a better person.
Now, I have not read the read the book, but I can tell you that I have seen the same kind of reaction from people when they see the Bible. It is full of rape, incest, abortions, wars, murder, war, torture, mistreatment of women, genocide, you name it the Bible has the evil we despise. Likewise, the Bible is full of lessons of caring for the poor, turning the other cheek, sacrifice for others, and feeding the hungry. The Bible is so deeply associated with hypocrisy that I didn’t want that to be the first thing a person saw about me.
The sacred scriptures have been perverted and seeing a young white guy in a coffee shop reading the Bible gives the impression of hardened conservatism rooted in hatred for gay people and disdain for anything progressive. This was not an image that I want to have over me. It is a shame that such an image is placed on a book written in a certain context for a certain group of people during a particular time period cannot be used as a starting point for great progressive conversation. But that is not what I am trying to do.
What I believe about the Bible is not what I intend to have covered here. What matters is that it has become a barrier in the past and it has presented itself to be more of a barrier to those who I have an opportunity to speak with. My faith is evident in how I behave in public, not with what I read. Sadly, reading the Bible or even being associated with late stage Christianity lends itself to a person appearing to be “closed minded.” Reading a Bible in a coffee shop gives off vibes that I am not comfortable having around me.
Christianity has become associated with a brand that is rooted in bigotry, intolerance, and lack of care for others. This is linked to the certain look a Bible has in public. The onion layered thin pages that have verses taken so far out of context they are not even in the same universe. Instead, I wish for people to learn about the kind of person I am by content of my character and care for others rather than seeing me read the very book used to inflict harm on them.