Q: Why should you own an “ugly” Bible?
A: Because that is the one you will use to pray with.
“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door,
I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.”—Book of Revelation 3:20
Whichever Bible translation and edition you choose to use, you have to be consistent and patient in letting it do its work in you. You become intimately familiar with how it reads and feels—not just in the Gospels, but also in the letters of the New Testament and the many books of the Old Testament, especially Job, Psalms, and Proverbs. Lasting friendships take time to develop and thrive, and a relationship with a particular Bible works in a similar way. As in a relationship with a best friend or spouse, you are not only reading or speaking aloud God’s word but also listening to what it says to you. If you have a Bible that you truly love, the Scriptures will speak to you in a way that is understandable, uplifting, and challenging.
In this short but compelling book, author Tim McCormick explains why his favorite Bible—a dog-eared, underlined, notes-in-the-margin, stickered-all-over-by his-kids paperback of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition—is so sacred: “As I sit at the beginning of the day, with my rather pedestrian-looking Bible, which feels like it has been through the grinder that just produced the cup of coffee in my hand, I know I am about to spend some time with the God who is always waiting for me. Most days I receive a great sense of familiarity and peace that gives me the confidence I need to be a Christian in the world. This prayer routine has become the foundation of my day and, when I am unable to follow this practice for some reason, I notice a huge difference in how I feel and interact with others.” He argues that it is not the physical beauty of the book that produces this result but the relationship he has had with it for many years. Its “ugliness” is part of its true beauty.
This book is for people who want to learn the why, the when, and especially the how of praying with Scripture. McCormick, a Catholic high-school religion teacher, husband, and father of three children, gives very specific advice on how to choose the best Bible for you, how to read it, and how to use it to develop your daily prayer and ongoing relationship with God. “My Bible is pretty ugly,” he writes. “In some ways, it is a bit too large for my liking. Many of the pages are bent and discolored. With the daily wear and tear, I had to purchase a Bible cover just to keep the spine intact. Yet I love this Bible. It hasn’t left my side for close to five years now, and I wouldn’t trade it for the most expensive, goatskin-bound Bible if it was offered to me for free. I am reminded of what Pope Francis wrote about his personal Bible in the foreword of a Bible translation aimed at young people: “You could buy me a new one for $1,000, but I would not want it. I love my old Bible, which has accompanied me half my life. It has been with me in my times of joy and times of tears. It is my most precious treasure. I live out of it, and I wouldn’t take anything in the world for it.”
About the author
Timothy McCormick lives in suburban Detroit with Rakhi, his wife of twelve years, and their three children. He spent seven years working in campus and young adult ministry before joining the staff of Bishop Foley Catholic High School as a theology teacher. Rakhi took the photo of Tim’s Bible featured on the cover of this book.
A note from a former student
I recently saw the Facebook post of you opening a box of books you had received. As I looked closely, I saw YOU were the author! I ordered it and received it yesterday, then finished it this evening before work.
I’ve been wanting to read the Bible for the last couple years. One time I had my brother Joe stop on the side of the road to pick up a free one that was advertised at a gas station by my house so I could have a new one to use. Needless to say, its been sitting in my bedside table drawer after I opened it probably two times since then. One, because I’m lazy and didn’t get much out of it, and two, like you said in your book, I don’t think that version/feel was for me. You have inspired me to look into your preferred version (The Message) and try again.
I loved everything about Confessions of an Ugly-Bible Reader. Most of all I loved how honest it was! It was interesting to get a glimpse of why you incorporate prayer with your Bible in your busy life and, most importantly, HOW you do it (I don’t know what I’m doing). Since I am someone who WANTS to do something and then DOESN’T, I’m hoping your book gives me the ideas and nudge I needed to actually sit down and pray/read the Bible…fingers crossed!
Thanks for writing an awesome book. I hope there are more coming?
Your former student,