The other day while combing through my New York Times during my lunch hour I happened upon an article discussing the renovations at the infamous Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The very last paragraph made me laugh at first, but then ponder the question that begins this series, which will now appear every Friday.
My first specialized weekly series is………Find Out Fridays! I love the continuity of a series and look forward to many in my favorite periodicals. The Well column in the New York Times Magazine is by far my favorite. It is written by Dr. Lisa Sanders, a notorious diagnostician who was the inspiration for House the television show. Another is “The Photograph That Changed My Life” with a different celebrity featured each month in Vanity Fair magazine.
From this point on I hope the fans and readers will post questions they want answers for on Fridays. Suggestions will be taken and whatever question has the most votes’ wins. I hope this is the last week I have to come up with an idea.
Now back to the Watergate Hotel. In the 1970s this was the site of a burglary that ultimately lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The men who uncovered the story behind the story were legendary writers at The Washington Post; Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.
The part I enjoyed about said article was:
“Mr. Bernstein, who wrote All the President’s Men, an account of the scandal, with Mr. Woodward, had a suggestion: “I would hope that if they are really going to do this, instead of putting Gideon’s Bible in the drawer, they would put our book in there or another respected book of history so that people can know about what really happened.”
I thought that was just a good idea. But then it occurred to me I don’t really know why there are always bibles in hotel rooms. Since I was little I have always checked to see if one was there in the nightstand. Without fail it always was and is. Yes I still check as one of the first things I do when I check in right after looking for bedbugs. Thus it seemed to be the appropriate place to start this series.
The answer to the question of how did the bible and the hotel meet is a rather simple story. It begins in 1898 in where else but a hotel! The Central Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin to be exact. Due to the crowded nature at the hotel John H. Nicholson and Samuel E. Hill shared a room. They discovered they both had a strong faith and even got down on their knees to pray before retiring for the evening.
In 1899 again in Wisconsin, these two met once more. But this time there was a third party Will J. Knights. The men decided they should create an organization that would support working travelers while praising the Lord. They decided they would be called “Gideons”.
When deciding the ways they could be of service and support to these weary travelers the idea arose to put a bible in every hotel room. What a lofty ambition for three strangers. This decision became “The Bible Project” beginning in 1908.
“It's been just over 100 years since The Gideons International placed the first Bible in a hotel room in Montana. Today, Gideons are organized in more than 190 countries around the globe.”
“Each Bible placed in a hotel room has the potential to reach up to 2,300 people in its estimated six-year life span. Research from the hotel industry tells us that approximately 25% of travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms.”
I would love to know how and when this study was done but for now I suppose we will have to trust these statistics. I for one have never actually read any bibles that I have spent the night with. I just want to see if its there merely out of curiosity. So you know, I have even checked the drawers in the hotel rooms outside the continental U.S. and haven’t found anything yet.
Fun hotel fact- The Marriott hotels were created by Mormons who placed “The Book of Mormon” in many of their rooms. However they are known to supply books of many other faiths to anyone who makes a request.
For those technical savvy readers of mine do not worry. Should you want to keep your Gideon Bible close by, no matter where you stay, there is now an app. As I type this I am shaking my head in disbelief.
But of course there is! I swear by the time I have kids no one but me will remember what it felt like to touch paper and turn a page when reading.
Now that I have introduced you to this series I cannot wait to see where you take us next.
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