The brown box arrived this afternoon. Within in it, nestled against a transparent, inflatable plastic bag lies the Quad, shrink-wrapped within another plastic bag. The Quad: largest and heaviest of all the sacred literature collections hauled around by the Latter-day Saints
(Those- Church-People-Formerly-Known-As-Mormons). The Quad: short for “Quadruple Combination”, and containing the Holy Bible (KJV), Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
Some stats about the Quad:
Cover: “Genuine” leather
Size: 9.5 “ x 6.25” x 2.5”
Weight: 5 lbs.
Pages: Ultrathin, acid-free paper, gilt-edged
Page count: Holy Bible (1,590) + Appendix (858) + Book of Mormon (536) + Doctrine and Covenants (295) + Pearl of Great Price (60), Appendix (431) = 3,770
Binding: Special reinforcement process
So, I turn the book over and over in my hands, marveling in its weight. Then I notice the supplied instructions. Says I need to condition the binding. I place the tome on its spine, like I’m some sort of chiropractor, and “Gently fold down approximately 100 pages at a time, alternating between the front and the back of the book until…” I run out of pages.
I pick it up, wondering if that’s genuine leather. I do the smell test. Yep, smells like my wallet. Well, maybe when it was new, and if there was an uncapped felt pen nearby. Nose warmed up now, I smell the pages. A hint of leather, but more like the aroma a fresh set of game cards give off.
Five pounds. How am I going to lug the Quad around church for three hours? With a sort of righteous pride, maybe? At least until I see the elderly folks whip out some half-pound electronic device with not only the Quad on it, but all the Church magazines back to Adam, and the study guides and textbooks and manuals and …
Never mind. I got the Quad for a reason: I like paper better. More natural. Don’t have to worry about batteries going dead on me in the middle of Hebrews 3:16. Instead I’ll be wondering if tendonitis is an unintended consequence of hauling this tome of tomes around.
Then there’s the aesthetic angle. My current set of scriptures- when I can find them- consists of a Triple Combination (B of M, D & C, P of GP) and the Holy Bible. But I’m ashamed to be seen in public with them. Both volumes having been left upstairs at my mother’s house one evening back in the early 1980’s, her giant hyperactive collie, misnamed Happy, became bored with terrorizing Mom’s two cats during the wee hours of the morning, deciding instead to feast upon the scriptures. Yes, I’ll have a Bible and a Triple. Hold the drool. The next day, and forever after, the brown simulated leather covers carried multiple dents where Happy gnawed, chewed, worried, and ground on the Word with his Jurassic teeth, somehow managing to rip out sections of the inner pages as well. Though the saliva has dried, the mastication lives on.
Attempts to read aloud a verse or two in Sunday School becomes a challenge. I open the Bible’s cover quickly, but not before someone notices the dog tooth indentations. For they can be nothing else. A cat couldn’t have made that, Sister Brown mutters to herself as she looks at me from a couple folding chairs away and wonders if I’m so poverty-stricken that I can’t afford a new set of God’s Word. Then she remembers the kind of car I drive to meetings every week and shrugs her shoulders in pity.
If I don’t volunteer to read, despite the fact that the other six people present have read aloud several times each, Poor fellow, Brother Baxter thinks, as he looks at me. Probably repenting of some sin, and feels sheepish about participating. He moves next door and puts a comforting arm around me as I shy away, trying to hide yet another page from the Old Testament that Happy removed the top half of, though leaving me the section about Lot’s wife.
A man can only take so much. In my case it was tattered scriptures. And so it was that I ordered the biggest, best book of sacred scriptures the LDS Church offers. And if Happy shows up some day, salivating as he stares at my scriptures, I’ll drop the Quad on his empty head.