I know, 2015 is still two months away, but this popped into my head sometime last week, and I haven’t been able to let it go since.
Those of you familiar with Goodreads might also be familiar with their annual reading challenge. This year I’ve given it a go, setting myself a goal of 75 books, and I’m well on target to reach that. Still, I’m not sure I like the challenge. It adds a sense of compulsion to my reading which I’ve never felt before. I know I read a lot; do I really need a website to keep track of exactly how much I’m reading? So I won’t take the challenge next year. Instead I’m creating a challenge of my own.
My challenge for 2015 is to read the Bible in its entirety. This is actually something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and have even tried before, but I failed around the book of Job. I suspect that the problem was me trying to read it in bed.
Note that I do not normally have a problem with reading in bed. I find it relaxing, and I actually don’t fall asleep as easily if I don’t read before I go to sleep. (My husband will probably scoff at this and reiterate his jealousy at my ability to fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed. In response I reiterate my jealousy at his ability to sleep through cats.) There is a difference, however, between reading a good, exciting book for thirty minutes before turning off the light and going to sleep, and struggling your way through the book of Numbers and not managing more than three lines before sleep overwhelms you.
This time, therefore, I will read my Bible on the bus. I’m not saying that this won’t make me fall asleep, but the chances are far smaller. I have no idea how long it will take me, but my intention is to do a weekly post on what I have read that week, and my impressions of it.
So, on to the why. Let me start by saying that I am an atheist. I do not believe in a higher being of any description who has a hand in what happens to mine or anyone else’s life. This was not always the case though, because I went to a pretty religious primary school. Bible stories were told at least twice a week, we prayed before class every morning, and one of our exercises every Monday was to learn a psalm by rote and recite it to the class. As a result I was a God-fearing child who always prayed before going to bed. I don’t believe this was my parents’ intention, since they’re not particularly religious themselves, but it just so happened that this school was one of the best schools in the neighbourhood.
I think I must have been around fourteen when I started questioning the whole thing, and it probably took me around two to three years before I decided that actually, I don’t believe in God and His omnipotence. I’ll spare you the soul-searching behind it, but religion just doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t bother me that other people do believe (unless they’re fanatic, fundamentalist nutcases), but once I had made my decision I was left with the question of why other people believe. By that point I had read bits of the actual Bible (as opposed to the children’s Bible), and I was astonished at some of the things in the Old Testament, which paint God as a vindictive, power-hungry, jealous megalomaniac. And that stirred a desire to read the whole of the Bible, to see just how much all the stories differ from the versions told to me in class, or in my children’s Bible, and to then marvel even more at the fact that people still believe despite all the petty sniping that’s going on.
In short, if you are religious yourself, you may want to avoid my 2015 Bible project. I have no intention to go out and deliberately insult devout Christians, but I accept that I will quite possibly end up doing this without trying.
For those of you interested in this, watch this space from January onwards.