Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

I take the Bible so literally I stoned Sue from up the road to death for playing away from home


The other day there was a knock on the door and on the step were two jolly, smiley, plump ladies. They said: "Good morning." I said: "Good morning." They said: "Have you ever thought about letting Jehovah into your life?" I said: "It depends if he is prepared to do his bit. If he is just going to lie about watching Eurosport and leaving smelly socks everywhere like all the other people in this house who pretty much think they are God then 'I must sayeth no unto you. But if you can sayeth that he will picketh upeth his own socketh and babysiteth every other Saturday and smite the loins of those who rise up against me until they rise no more, then my heart will rejoiceth big-time'." (Debiticus, 5:13)

They said: "Thank you for talking to us. We must get on. Is your neighbour in, do you know?" I said I didn't know. I said I've always been deeply envious of his goods, coveted his wife, and last week even gave false evidence against him, so it's not as if we're exactly on speaking terms. I also kicked his cat who keeps pissething on my lawn and sometimes even does a mighty shiteth. They said: "Good-bye."

However, they did leave me a leaflet, Why You Can Trust The Bible. The picture on the front of the leaflet is of a young man with a side parting wearing a cheap suit, sitting on a Dralon armchair and with, one assumes, a Bible open on his knee. ("And from the looketh of him it was obvious he was badeth in bed with no loins to writeth home about." Fourth Book of Dross, 72:9).

Still, I read it, just as I read everything. I am a compulsive reader. Not just books and, of course, newspapers, although little of what's been in the newspapers lately has come as news to me - Kate Moss does coke, Fern Britten is fat, Amanda Platell attacks Fern Britten for being fat, Fern sits on Amanda (we wish)! You may even consider adding this wish to your nightly prayers: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, and if Fern could somehow sit on Amanda, that would be a lot of fun."

I also read cereal packets and mini-cab cards (you can test me on the airports served by the various companies) and the classifieds and the serving suggestions on the side of packets ... what cheese on an oatcake, and not boot polish? Are you having a laugh? What kind of fool do you take me for, expecting me to fall for that? Grow-upeth. I read bankruptcy notices, liquidation notices, the advertisements for extra-wide shoes and things that allow you to let out your trousers as featured in the back of The Daily Express and, always, the death notices in the Hornsey Journal that go, more or less: "Florence Davies much-loved wife, mother, grandmother and supreme Victoria sponge maker, fell asleep peacefully ..." Well, I'm guessing there is no rousing her now. Do you want to break it to the grandchildren or shall I? It's so heartbreaking, the way they keep shaking her and crying: "Grandma, wake up, wake up! You promised we'd make a cake."

Where's the proof?

So I read the leaflet. The leaflet starts with: "Some people say the Bible is unreliable, and their views have gained wide acceptance."

What?, I thought. Some people don't accept it was written 6,000 years ago by an invisible yet-all powerful deity for whom there is no proof whatsoever?

"Thus many dismiss what the Bible says as untrustworthy."

Not me. I take it all very literally, which is why I poked out the eye of my manservant yesterday when I discovered he was stealing from me and then stoned Sue from up the road to death because I was led to believe she was playing away from home, if you get my drift, the dirty slag.

"Is there really evidence that the Bible is unreliable?"

I hope not. Or I'm going to be in big trouble with the human rights people, women's groups, and possibly the police.

"Has anyone ever shown you an actual example? Some persons will draw attention to what they consider a discrepancy in the Bible, asking: 'Where did Cain get his wife?'"

Why would some persons do that?

"The assumption is that Cain and Abel were the only children of Adam and Eve."

That is generally the assumption, yes.

"But the assumption is based on a misunderstanding of what the Bible says."

I'd think carefully about where you're going with this, if I were you.

"The Bible explains that Adam 'became father to sons and daughters' (Genesis 5:4)."

If you are now about to say what I think you are going to say, I'd recommend keeping quiet and settling for the Bible being unreliable and not to be taken literally, even though I suspect it's going to result in a lengthy prison sentence and much feminist haranguing for me.

"Thus Cain married one of his sisters!"

Oh, well, that's all right then. Phew! I thought, for a minute there, that in your efforts to prove the Bible trustworthy at any cost, you were going to bring up some kind of extreme perversity. A bit of incest never hurt anyone. Fun for all the family!

"Often, critics are just looking for contradictions."

As if it might be an improvement on what you're offering? Can you believe it. I know I can't.

Next week: We will be taking a close look at the leaflet which has just come through the door telling me why I need my carpets steam-cleaned by a professional. This will give you something to live for if you can't find a family member to have sex with.

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