Since as long as I could remember I have been a lover of books and reading. Today I consider myself to be an avid reader and I treat all books regardless of their topic with respect. Anyone like myself who has ever authored a book could attest to the fact that such a task is by far an easy endeavor. As an author you must be able to express yourself, your views, opinions, or just tell a story in such a way as to be understood by your target audience.
Because of the innumerable topics and themes that one can choose to write about, books can be used as a medium to educate us (academic works), entertain us (fiction), teach us about life in ancient civilizations (history). One genre of literature that I always find interesting is the genre of world mythology. The reason for this is that I believe that myths are the roots of religious beliefs by man in both ancient and modern society. Through mythology we see the indisputable fact in my opinion; that man created the gods. Myths are laden with what we acknowledge today as superstitions for the most part based on irrational fears and illogical beliefs with no basis in fact.
Many of the more popular myths were composed during a pre-scientific age where superstitions were in abundance. The world was a scary place and as is made evident in many of the worlds ancient myths; things like natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, drought, famine, etc. were all attributed to the gods. When things went well the gods were pleased, but when things were not going so well the gods were angry. It was up to the community's shaman, priests, etc. to figure out why the gods were displeased and find a way to appease them. Some resorted to human or animal sacrifices combined with ceremonies and rituals which for the most part showed the gods that one was repentant and submitted oneself to their authority and will.
This brings me to the purpose of this post. Generally, I don't advocate the burning or destruction of any book. I love reading and I tend to take great care of all of the books I personally own. I don't lend them out to anyone, I hate when people dog ear the pages or put folds and creases in the book. I don't like to use highlighters on my books, if I find something worthy of saving or looking into further. I don't like under line phrases or paragraphs in a book. I'd rather just take notes or copy the quotes to a separate sheet of paper or even save it on my computer.
The one and only book I have ever physically destroyed was the Bible. But my motives at the time were not anger, disdain, or disgust with the book itself. My reason was more psychological than anything else. You see, I was a fundamentalist Christian evangelist who at the time was so absorbed in my beliefs that they consumed my every waking moment. I literally feared the Lord as the Bible commanded. It was similar to a love hate relationship towards the end where I not only feared the Lord but hell and death. It took me six years to finally overcome all of my fears associated with my former beliefs. Because of the frailty and unpredictability of life I was aware of what would happen to me if I was wrong. I would die and face God's judgement and full brunt of his wrath for all eternity.
Although I was no longer a believer I held on to my Bible and at times studied it from a more objective perspective minus all the reverence and fear associated with my literal belief in its content. My mother once told me a folktale about a man who had renounced his faith and decided to burn his Bible in defiance of God. The consequences for his actions according to this tale was that as he burned the "holy texts" he heard the words of that book spoken aloud in an echoing and thundering voice as if narrated by God himself! In the end it is said that this person lost his sanity and ended up in an asylum for the rest of his life.
Six years after my deconversion I had reached the stage where I no longer feared the Bible or its contents and have come to the realization that today's myths were once yesterday's religions. I believe that the three religions of the book as they are often called will eventually meet a similar fate. They too will one day take their place alongside yesterdays religions and be known and classified as the latest myths of the future.
Because of that tale my mother told me I chose to put it to the test. Burning the Bible for me was a matter of giving me psychological peace and well being. The Bible was the last fetter of the chains of superstitions that held me bound. I had broken the deeply embedded mental shackles of irrational fears. The last shackle that remained was my burning of that book which imprisoned me in a world of ancient myths and superstitions that smothered my perceptions of reality and clouded my natural ability to think for myself and reason. It was that book that crushed my spirit and through fear suppressed my logical mind from revealing its false and irrational teachings.
It was on a Sunday afternoon in 2000' when I finally took the Bible and placed it on the stove and let it burn to ashes. I admit that when I began to put the book on the fire there was a twinge of fear still lingering as my fingers released the bottom right hand corner of the book onto flames. But as I stood there watching it burn I felt a sense of freedom. As the ashes burned and fell apart so did the last of my fears. The oppression I felt because of my former indoctrination literally went up in smoke as that book was consumed in the fire. It was very liberating and therapeutic for me and finally helped me to feel free to live a life without irrational superstitions and fears. I don't recommend that everyone who deconverts from Christianity or any other religions of the book do the same because for each of us it's a different experience and we all handle these things differently. I just thought that sharing this with my readers would help you understand why I did it and how doing so affected me personally. The Bible was burned in effigy as the representation of all my mental oppressions and irrational fears.