by Jo Sorensen
"Yes, it IS SIN," I said heatedly.
"No, it ISN'T," Molly retorted.
"Yes, it IS," I insisted even louder.
"It is NOT."
I gave an exasperated sigh. Molly was being so stubborn. I knew I was right--I knew it was sin to put something on top of a Bible. My Sunday School teacher in California had told us so. But Molly wouldn't believe me.
"We'll go ask your mom. She'll tell you it's a sin."
"Okay, let's go ask her." Molly headed across the Boyer playground toward the younger boys' dorm at Kennedy.
Suddenly I wasn't quite as sure as I had been that putting something--like Molly's notebook--on top of a Bible was quite as deadly a sin as I'd been thinking it was. Maybe if you didn't notice the Bible when you put something down on it, or if it was dark and you didn't see the Bible underneath, or if you had to clean up the room really fast before the matron checked your room, or.... Slowly I trailed after my friend.
Mrs. Schmitthenner was in her room having a cup of tea. There were fresh flowers in the vases, bright cushions were scattered around the chairs and sofa, and the room had a cheerful air. She smiled at us when we came in. I really liked Molly's mom. I wished she could have been our housemother. I looked around for a cozy spot. It would be nice to sit and chat for a bit, but Molly was getting straight to business.
"Mom, is it SIN to put something on top of a Bible? Why should God be mad if I just put my notebook on my Bible? It doesn't hurt it."
Her mother put down her cup and looked from Molly to me. Her face looked serious but there seemed to be a twinkle in her eye.
"And you believe it is a sin, Joanne?" she asked.
"It IS a sin. Mrs. Weins, our Sunday School teacher in America, told us it was. And she said God sees us all the time and He gets really mad if we sin." I couldn't tell if my argument was convincing enough. "...And I don't want Molly to sin and get into trouble," I added self-righteously. That should do it. Mrs. Schmitthenner would never want Molly to get in trouble with God. Now she'd tell Molly I was right.
Mrs. Schmitthenner took a sip of tea and looked at us thoughtfully for a minute. We waited. Finally she spoke.
"I think it's this way," she said. "I think God wants us to respect the Bible because it's his message to us." I looked triumphantly at Molly. She scowled. "But I don't think God is going to be angry at little girls if they put something on a Bible." Molly smirked at me; I looked down, carefully studying the pattern on the rug.
"If you can keep things off of your Bibles, that would be good," Mrs. Schmitthenner continued, "but you don't need to worry about something like that. It's much more important to remember that God loves you, not that God's going to be mad at you for every small thing you might do wrong." She put down her cup, stood up and went over to the table. "Now how about a cookie?"
The storm was over and the matter resolved. Molly wouldn't go to hell for putting her notebook on her Bible. And as for me, maybe...just maybe God wasn't always checking up on everything I was doing, ready to vent His anger if I sinned. Somehow that made me feel a lot better. I reached for a cookie, settled back into the cushions and began to munch.