book cover, Devil of To-day

The Devil of To-Day

How he Works In the home, The Church, In Business
and in Every Walk of Life
By Rev. I. Mench Chambers, A.M.
Subtitled: His Play between the False and the Good.
Being a SEARCHING ALLEGORY on the subtle intrigues of the Devil
within the Church, The Home, and Modern Society

© 1906 by W.H. Scull, 520 p.

I love grotty books with this type of colored and embossed cover, though I rarely ever read them. The designs are interesting and usually attractive, and it likely served the function of dust jackets in later years: making the book appealing enough for someone to purchase it. This book has main characters in it named: Mr. Hypocrite, Miss Sincere, Rev. Mr. Good, Mr. Man-of-the-World, Whole-Soul, and Widow Faith, so its not high on my reading list at the moment.

There is a problem when you begin to collect certain things, or if people perceive you as collecting certain things. The problem is that everyone begins to give you these types of items, being sure you are going to be thrilled at any and every acquisition.

For example, I had a friend once return from her vacation to Mexico brandishing a day-glo bumper sticker emblazoned with "Honk if you Love Jesus" written on it in Spanish. Another friend happily gave me a small white electric night light of the Virgin Mary that had some kind of filter inside that made Mary appear to change into a variety of pastel colors. She picked it up at a local tag sale, certain it was a great find for me. Still others have been happy to give me religious medals (which I actually like), tracts, books, Bibles, figures, plastic and glass crucifixes. It's a very great burden, I can tell you.

When I was just now thumbing through the book I came across a card inside the book with George's name on it and I remembered he gave the book to me. George and I have a kind of bond in religious memorabilia, each going for the most outlandish and gaudy items.

I had met George Collison, who had been Director of Technology, when I did a short term substitute teaching assignment of 8 weeks for the Holyoke Schools. The following year he recruited me for the teaching job I now have, so in a way I consider him responsible for bringing me back to the field of education. Some days I am happy he did this, other days I wish he had left me alone.

George is one of my friends who considers himself a "recovering Catholic." I can respect it, though I don't fully understand the concept either. He does poke fun at the Church whenever possible, this I know. We have a common bond in our ownership of Extremunction Boxes, though if I recall correctly, the wood on his has been bastardized by being painted. George uses his Extremunction Box differently than I use mine. George symbolically gives the box to people who have completed their doctoral degrees, usually making a funny presentation and speech at their graduation party, then reclaims the box a few weeks later. So his Extremunction box has traveled a bit.

Looking at this card that I find stashed in the book I realize George received it as a Christmas present, I suspect from his wife Judy, though her name is not signed on it. I suddenly realize George and I have the same problem: being the recipient of anything with a religious tone to it. I recall George brought this book over to me as a housewarming gift when I purchased my house and it dawns on me. George's birthday is coming up soon, and I have this great electric Virgin Mary night light that I bet he would just love to add to his collection.

© Laurel O'Donnell, 1995-8, all rights reserved
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Laurel O'Donnell
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