Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Busy World is Hushed - Blog 4 - David Dickinson

This is entry four in a series of five by actor David Dickinson - playing Thomas in Actors Theatre's The Busy World is Hushed.

My Father’s Bible

When I leaf through the bible as Thomas on stage, I see the scriptures and it reminds me of my father’s bible. My dad’s bible was almost like a spiritual glove that had been worn so many times you could see the stains from the oils in his fingers. He used the same bible to write his sermons each week and the markings in the margins and highlighting were all in bright yellow and very neat. He kept it in a case. It is funny, but in our family a bible was a personally symbol: personalized and marked in a way that was unique to them. My parents, my siblings and I all had our own bible. My mother’s bible was always a mess because she would read it in bed and the pages would get all bent and dog-eared. She marked her bible with a ballpoint pen: blue lines everywhere! My dad used a yellow highlighter and was very careful not to bend the edges of the bible. So when I leaf through the bibles on stage all of those connections come to mind.
Finding my fathers’ bibles as Thomas is a seriously meaningful event. To a minister a bible is “The Sword.” I don’t remember where it is, but somewhere the there is a verse that says something like “the word of God is like a two edged sword and cuts to the heart of man.” To a minister who to seminary, a bible is very meaningful. It is customized and personal to help them find the passages that are most meaningful to them. But it also leaves very little gratification in finding answers about personal traits of the man.

When Hannah says it is her markings in the bibles of Thomas’ father, all of that personalization goes away. Once she uses his bibles, the bibles are no longer the pure essence of who Thomas’ father was. It even upsets me, David, to think that my mother would mark in my dad’s bible. It is like marking the most private territory. I’m having a hard time articulating how upsetting the thought of my mother marking my deceased father’s bibles is to me. It would be like tattooing my father’s dead body. While that sounds harsh and a bit morose, that is really how it feels to me. The respect I have for what my father marked is profound to me as a son. And if it were tampered, especially with a BALL POINT PEN, I would feel so much disrespect. This is why the speech Thomas has about 20 different translations of Leviticus is so upsetting to me. Hannah means well, but she just stole any possible feeling of connection Thomas could have with my father.

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