Friday, December 07, 2007

Only to find Gideon's Bible. Gone.

"Are they now to look for salvation and solace from an iPod docking station or a goldfish?"

My buddy and I were desperate for money and we were hungry like only young guys can be. We'd spent the day and most of the evening trying to get some cash for food, and as the night began to close in for the final curtain we did manage to scrape up enough for pizza, which we had to take away because the joint was closing. We stood on the sidewalk resting our paper plates on a news kiosk, savoring the smell of garlic, looking at the loveliness of cheese and tomato sauce. But then there was a smacking sound across the street and a -- slapping-ripping, a thud, a sickening sound that drew our attention to the hotel across the street, to the mess that was the mortal remains of some guy who'd jumped and hit the metal bar in the hotel awning, cutting himself roughly in half before falling in pieces to the pavement to splash against the wall and window and the cars parked at the kerb. Pizza.

I've spent much of my life living in hotels. I've always considered it a good life with an end at the end of the road. Many times in my life I've witnessed those who have no home, or who have left their homes for rooms alone, and from them they jump.

CULTURE DIGEST: Hotels ban Gideon Bibles; some Christian groups oppose 'cable choice'

Posted on Dec 7, 2007 | by Erin Roach NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--

Each Bible placed in a hotel room has the potential to reach up to 2,300 people in its estimated six-year life span, and about 25 percent of travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms, according to The Gideons International, a group that has been placing Bibles in hotel rooms since 1908.

The Gideons say they receive testimonies almost daily of lives changed because of the Bibles they've placed, including one man who planned to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. The man said he threw the Bible onto the hotel room floor and it fell open to John 14, where Jesus says He gives peace. Now the man is a pastor and his family has been restored.

But a growing number of hotels are opting not to allow the placement of Gideon Bibles, according to an article in Newsweek magazine.

"In the rooms of Manhattan's trendy Soho Grand Hotel guests can enjoy an eclectic selection of underground music, iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs and even the living company of a complimentary goldfish. But, alas, the word of God is nowhere to be found," the article begins.

Such hotels say society is evolving and a younger, hipper generation has no interest in the Bible. They also say they would have to cater to a variety of belief systems and could not single out Christianity.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, noted the tragedy that awaits if people aren't given the chance to encounter God's Word when they find themselves troubled in a hotel room.

"Are they now to look for salvation and solace from an iPod docking station or a goldfish?" Mohler wrote on his blog at

"... This development is another reminder that we are living in a time of tremendous cultural and moral change. The absence of Gideons Bibles from an increasing number of hotel rooms tells us something about the secularization, sexualization, and extreme sensitivities of our age," Mohler said.

"It also tells us that there will be no Bibles available in those hotel rooms when travelers need them, and that is a tragedy by any measure," he added. "Think of this the next time you are in a hotel room. Check the bedside table for a Gideons Bible. When you find one, thank the hotel management. And, when you have the opportunity, thank the Gideons."

The [Gideon Interational] Association began in a hotel room on September 14, 1898, in Boscobel, Wisconsin. The manager of the Central Hotel there asked traveling salesmen John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wis., and Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wis., to share a room in a crowded hotel, which was hosting a lumbermen's convention. In Room 19, above the saloon, the men discovered that they were both Christians. They prayed and read the Bible together before settling down for the night. They talked about starting a Christian traveling men's association but parted ways the next morning without any definite plans. A chance meeting the following May rekindled the idea, and on July 1, 1899, the two salesmen, joined by a third, William J. Knights, met in Janesville and founded the Gideons. The name comes from the Old Testament book of Judges, and refers to a man who was willing to do whatever God asked of him. Today, the Boscobel Hotel, where the two founders met, is listed on the National Historical Register, and Room 19, where the idea of the Gideons was conceived, is marked with a special plaque.

The Gideons primary purpose has always been personal evangelization conducted by Christian business and professional men. As early as 1900, the organization considered putting Bibles at the front desk of the hotels its members stayed in, but it was not until 1908 that the association voted to place Bibles in all hotel rooms. Within 20 years of the first placement of a Gideon Bible in a hotel room, the association distributed one million Bibles....

The ambulance came and the fire truck came. The pizza guy came out to see what the commotion was, saw the firemen hosing down the building and the sidewalk and the cars, looked at us like we were a couple of savages, and went into his shop, returning with the day's left-overs.

Suicide is common. More common is Human kindness. Hey, Mister. Thank you.

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