The Damson Dene Hotel, ostensibly a quaint establishment in the middle of the English countryside, contains an appalling secret: Its Gideon Bibles have been removed. Given the increasing secularization of modern society (particularly in Europe) this might not seem particularly surprising. But the hotel didn’t stop at simply yanking the Bibles: The volumes were replaced by copies of the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
I’ll admit I first checked to see if the article was satirical. The Onion, surely, would have a field day with such an outlandish idea. But no–to my horror, it was entirely legitimate:
Jonathan Denby, owner of the hotel, toldNBC News he felt that in a secular society, it was “wholly inappropriate” to put a religious book in someone’s bedroom.
So the Bible is “wholly inappropriate,” but erotica is perfectly okay?
“Social responsibility” is the raison d’etre of many institutions today. But in what possible world is replacing the Bible with erotic literature -- particularly literature glamorizing a perversely abusive lifestyle -- a socially responsible act? If the hotel had been stocked with copies of Playboy or Penthouse, undoubtedly an enormous outcry would have resulted. The ongoing cultural normalization of deviance -- deviance couched in socially acceptable trappings–is truly tragic.
However, Wayne Bartholomew, manager of the hotel has been quick to point out that, “The Gideon Bible is full of references to sex and violence, although it’s written using more formal language, so James’s book is easier to read.”
Even if the Bible is read as nothing more than literature, such a comparison is altogether ludicrous. That which purports to be “literature” warrants evaluation and critique on such a level, and Fifty Shades is deficient even when compared to its Twilight inspiration. There is nothing profound or insightful about the book or its contents, and anyone drawing a literary comparison has obviously not read either volume.
Social responsibility isn’t cultivated by propagating lewd and lascivious material. It stems from individuals making personal choices to do the right thing–and biblical truth, again and again, has proven to be the cornerstone of those choices.