So I was all set to get up a little early this morning, relax, watch Glee (I missed it last night and still haven’t seen it – please don’t spoil it for me!), when I was woken up by a text from Gary. The first word was “BIBLES!” I knew what it meant, so I got up, grabbed my tote-bag-full-o’-books, and started texting. At our first meeting, we had started planning for this day – the day that people were handing out bibles on campus.
It’s called fiction-for-fiction, and I know I’ve seen other SSA-affiliated groups do it on campus. Melody and I got the idea at the Secular Student Alliance conference in Columbus this summer from a presentation by Jen McCreight, president of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, perhaps better known as the boobquake girl. (she blogs at www.blaghag.com – check it out!) Jen suggested that this was a good idea, somewhere between ultra provocative (smut-for-smut) and wimpy (maybe a different translation instead of the New King James Version that they’re handing out today.
The premise of this idea is that there is fiction in the bible. (I would argue that the vast majority is fiction). Regardless of my personal opinion, the bible is full of contradictions; both sides cannot be true, thus one is a fiction, ergo the bible has fiction in it. Since they’re handing out fiction, why don’t we, the SSA at IUP, hand out fiction too? I grabbed a tote bag full of the best fiction I could find at the Newman Center’s used book sale last weekend – I didn’t expect to use it so soon.
By 8:20, I was outside Delaney hall, where I was told that bibles were being handed out. Two older gentlemen were standing on the corner, their hands full of slim, green bound Gideon bibles. I set up about 10 feet away from them, let them know what I was doing, and went at it. I tried to be reactive – I would only approach those people who too bibles.
Most people ignored me, or at least said no thanks. Throughout the morning, I got one or two people to take interest. When I said something about exchanging fiction for fiction, one passing girl yelled “Asshole!” at me in a surprisingly vitriolic manner. That was about the only negative reaction I had so far.
The two gentlemen handing bibles out were rather calm. One was more quiet, the other more vocal. The vocal one, who looked a lot like Joe Paterno, kept saying something that really grated on my nerves – he kept calling it a “free textbook.” In retrospect, I suppose the bible is potentially a textbook – in a religious study class. But still, the idea of using a new testament in a biology or anthropology class is so laughable, so offensive, that it really grated on me.
The talkative guy even told a couple people that they could trade their books in if they wanted – he was getting on my case about depriving people of their point of view, which is a valid point, but I really wasn’t taking peoples bibles if they didn’t want to give them up; they could have had the books for free. During a lull, I pulled up the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible on my phone, and searched for contradictions. The first one I found, in Matthew, involved the number of generations between David and the forced migration to Babylon. Matthew said 14, 1 Corinthians said 17. To the men handing out the bible, this discrepancy didn’t matter. The talkative guy said that it was the same scene seen by two different men, so I guess at least he didn’t believe that the whole thing was literally written by God.
By about 10:30, the two men left, after the talkative one told me to listen to that small voice inside me – my conscience, which he called my soul. I was hot, tired, and hungry, so I decided to take a break.
We’ll be back out in the oak grove continuing fiction-for-fiction at 2:45 this afternoon. Come out and help hand out books!