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I was looking over my bookshelf last night and I noticed that something wasn't quite right with the Bible my mother gave me quite a few years ago. We had had a flood in our basement a few years ago, and the majority of the books on the shelf had escaped with very little damage. All of them except the Bible. The Bible's thin onionskin pages drank up water like a sponge, and I had a hell of a time (excuse the blasphemous pun) keeping it from swelling up and bursting its bindings. The renovation contractor that the insurance company sent over took all the water damaged books away and performed some kind of magic with a huge freezer, saving the majority. The Bible returned, a bit wrinkly but all in one piece. At the time.

Cut to today, a year and a bit later. Seems that the thin thin pages didn't completely give up all the moisture they had absorbed. The bookshelf itself was moved away from the potential pipe bursting zone and for the large part ignored upstairs. With perfect conditions, mold took hold.

The old library smell was my first indication that something was wrong. Opening the back pages, I saw the black water stain-like splotches on the back cover. It was fascinating, in a biology class kind of way. I touched a wispy white fuzzy spot and it disappeared in a smear of black dusty spores. Having a quick look at the bottom, where the moisture had slowly collected, showed the book had grown black and green with tiny simple life. Mold. It was clear the book was ruined. Immediately I felt guilty, as it was a gift of great importance, and I imagined I could have saved it. It was an unlikely scenario. Accidents happen. Either way, I was now the owner of an unusable copy of the Holy Bible.

What to do?

I'm not the biggest Charlie Churchgoer, as evidenced by my not touching the Bible on the shelf long enough for it to bloom fungal flowers, but even I hesitate at tossing it in the trash with the eggshells and coffee grounds. It seems disrespectful, and I don't want to be pissing off any potential judges of my afterlife by being lazy. I have plenty of more fun sins to explain away. As everybody knows, Christianity usually has specific protocols and ceremonies established for events that are seen as spiritually important. It's what they do. Also, other important symbols, like national flags, have rules that detail how to properly dispose of worn out copies in a respectful way.

You burn old flags. Book burning, on the other hand, has a bit of a National Socialist/flames of Hell thing going for it, so I decided to skip that option.

Turning to the Internet, it became clear to me that Judaism has put some thought into this. When Hebrew scrolls of the Scripture that contain the written sacred name of God are no longer usable, they are gathered, placed in a coffin and buried in a cemetery with a liturgy of committal. Wow.

So, what would Jesus' Dudes do (WWJDD)?

Turns out there is no Christian ceremony or procedure for the disposal of old, worn out Bibles. Go ahead and toss it in the trash, or, as several padres suggest, recycle it in with the newspapers. Why aren't they worried about the Bible itself? Well, the idea is that in order to be sacrilegious, you have to cause harm to the Word of God, not its vessel. While the message of the Bible is considered holy, the pages, ink, and binding are only a way of recording that message. To dispose of the pages, ink, and binding when they are worn out does not show a lack of respect for the message itself.

A little birdy tells me that Catholic types tend to bury their Bibles and used religious memorabilia, if they have been blessed by a priest.

Pretty tricky huh? Those priest guys have an answer for everything.

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