Friday, January 11, 2008

Fear the Gideons!

Staying at a hotel recently, and in a moment of rare and uncharacteristic boredom, I actually found myself skimming through the first few pages of the complimentary Bible I found in my bedside table (along with a five pence piece, a piece of orange peel and, most bizarrely, a London Tube Map - I was in Leeds). I'm not a religious person - I am an atheist of the highest order - but it was either that or daytime TV. So out came the Gideons.

It told me that The Gideons are ‘an association of Christian business and professional men and their wives (sic) who believe that the Bible is the inspired work of God’ and that they ‘place Bibles in hotel bedrooms where a succession of readers can find the word of God.’ What an oddly specific way of spreading the word. Does this mean that, had the founder of The Gideons been a refuse collector, they’d now be placing Bibles in your wheelie bin? It’s all very odd. But not as odd as their logo, which is of an old fashioned stone jar or amphora – of the kind you sometimes see as a decorative pot at garden centres – with big handles on both sides. It looks like a silhouette of Prince Charles. Only his hair’s on fire as there’s a flame emerging from the top. Who knew that Brylcreem was so flammable? Apparently it symbolises a jar with a flaming torch of the kind that ‘Gideon used during his night attack’. What night attack? I’ll admit that I don’t know the Bible at all well but I don’t remember hearing about any night attacks at Sunday School. And is someone who commits night attacks really the best patron for a society that deals exclusively with lonely people in hotel rooms in unfamiliar towns and cities? But it gets worse …

If I were given to paranoia, I’d maybe now turn to the Bible for help. And, sure enough, the front of the Gideons Bible has a handy ‘Where to find help when …’ section. Among the subjects listed are:

Afraid or fearful.
Anxious or worried.
In danger.
Depressed or discouraged.
Feeling inadequate.
Lonely.
Needing sleep.
Troubled.

Now I’m all alone in a strange room and I’m being reminded of what a loser I am by a society based on a bloke that attacked people at night. Great.

I double-locked the door and shut the windows overnight. Just to be safe.

You never know.

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