The Book of Bandit ch 5 – A Taste for Fiction

As I returned the tattered library bookthe first one I had ever checked out, in this brand new library, in our brand new town I actually had to say the words: “My dog ate it!” Holding my breath, ready to relinquish my library card I was instead welcomed with laughter, understanding, and a chance to show a photo of the puppy. I happily offered to pay any and all fines, and made a mental note of a few things:

  1. Library books would forever be stored on the highest of shelves
  2. My dog eats books… and it’s my fault.

You see… When we unpacked our kitchen, we put a set of shelves in the dining room, which Bandit has access to. Unthinking, we picked shelving that went low to the floor, and there we stored our library of cookbooks.

But the thing about a cookbook is that it’s usually open when you are working on the counter and stuff like flour, or sugar, or baking powder, or the occasional splatter of bacon grease may make its way on to the actual pages… and so.

We put books that smell like food at ground level in a house with a puppy who loves to hunt the home for secret hidden food…

And so Bandit learned to eat cookbooks, but… it didn’t stop there:

This is a selection of fiction novels recently destroyed by the little guy over the span of a week. He has recently consumed the works of Agatha Christie, Ursula LeGuin, Terry Pratchett, and Robert Jordan.

So we’ve done all the responsible things, like stocking the bottom shelves with bad writing, checking to see if he’s actually sick, and giving him more productive and stimulating things to do. Technically he’s not consuming much of the book at all, just playing with it and generally obliterating the introduction and last chapter! While I’m certain this is likely boredom, and we’re bringing on a new training routine for him, I can’t help but notice…

He’s only eating my books.

He doesn’t touch my oldest son’s music books, or my other son’s video games. There are no teethmarks on my daughter’s art supplies, or my wife’s collection of poetry. Just my stuff. And I read on some dog blogs that this could be… because he likes me? –he likes everyone else in the family too by the way!

In some strange doggie way he finds things that smell like someone he likes and wants to play with, chew on, and ‘sorta’ consume them.

That desire is primal, basic, easy to understand for a dog but… don’t we kinda do the same thing?

I mean, consuming strange things with deeper meanings is… very Biblical.

Have you Eaten your Bible Today?

The consumption of strange and meaningful things is present throughout the scriptures:

  • The prophet Ezekiel is told to eat a scroll in chapter three of his prophecy
  • There is an echo of this in Revelation 10 when the Apostle John is asked to do the same thing
  • Part of keeping the Passover meal is the consumption of things that are intentionally bitter (Exodus 12)
  • Jesus suggests that scripture can sustain him as good as, or better than, food itself (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4)
  • Jesus also really challenges people when he talks about communion in John chapter 6
  • And let’s not forget that early Christians were accused of holding Thyestian Feasts (an ancient charge of cannibalism) because of a misunderstanding regarding passages like these!

Of COURSE this is all metaphor, and I’m certainly not encouraging you to consider tearing out the page and chomping on Luke chapter 4 as a part of your Bible Study on Luke chapter 4. It’s certainly an uncomfortable amount of fiber.

But… there’s something very primal about eating. It’s a very “I want this to become a part of me” kind of thing. I think it is with intention that the Bible uses eating as a metaphor. We are told that we are blessed when we “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Eating is non-intellectual, it’s about meeting a need, satisfying a craving, fueling our bodies and ending the hunger we feel.

You can see it in the puppy logic:

I’m bored – I miss my friend – I’ll go find something that smells like him and chew on it – boredom solved… need for connection satiated.

But can we also see it in ourselves?

So many of our daily needs are spiritual, and we feel them with an almost physical craving. We need companionship and connection, we need meaning and significance, we need assurance and forgiveness, we need to know the love of God… These are real cravings, just like hunger.

So when we have them… don’t we have our own book to go and chew on?

A Few Recommendations – Bible Passages Worth a Chew

For the New Reader – The Book of Luke is a fantastic first-read of the story of Christ.

For the Seasoned Reader – If you’ve not yet picked up Philippians, give it a go (as a whole letter). It’s arguably the last words of the Apostle Paul.

For the Exhausted – Look to the book of Psalms, they are short, sweet, and don’t even need to be read in order. Need something even shorter? Proverbs can be read sentence by sentence in most sections.

For the Non-ReaderMy very favorite Audio Bible is called The Word of Promise. They hired actors like Richard Dreyfuss, Marisa Tormei, Louis Gossett Jr., and more to do the readings!

Once again, these are all much better read and experienced. I do not recommend Bandit’s method of consumption.

May the Word of God sustain you… even more deeply than the food you eat.

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