“Don’t most hotels have the courtesy to leave you in the drawer? Jesus Christ!”
Sometimes, I miss those all-night bull sessions I would have with roommates in college. We would delve into deep questions about God, morality, and the meaning of life. We would sometimes pick a perspective just for the sake of seeing where it would lead the discussion. Such is Gun and a Hotel Bible, directed by Alicia Joy Leblanc and Raja Gosnell. The film is based on a film festival play developed by the two actors in the film.
We first meet Pete (Bradley Gosnell) as he reflects on his relationship with his wife and the love they shared. But something has gone wrong. The rest of the play takes place in a seedy Chicago hotel room where he has gone to wait. He plans violence because of his wife’s affair. In the hotel room, he encounters Gid (Daniel Florin), the personification of the Gideon Bible. At first, their banter is banal. We discover that Gid loves baseball and is positively rapturous over learning that the Cubs won the World Series a few year ago. Gid is a bit behind on things because he’s been in this hotel room since 1953.
Pete is drawn to the Bible (and hence Gid), but doesn’t really want much to do with it. As Gid tries to interest him in diving in, we discover that Pete is pretty knowledgeable about the Bible, but he rejects its teaching. The ensuing conversation between Gid and Pete covers areas of the nature of scripture, its authority, interpretation, and the very existence of God.
I entered this experience with some trepidation. It would be very easy to see this as an opportunity for cheap grace in the form of a doubter giving in to the Word of God. I usually classify such views is Bibliolatry—making an idol out of the Bible. Making it seem that the Bible is the most important thing, not the messages within it. And to be sure, there were times in the film that I thought it might be going that way.
But in the end, what we have is two different perspectives on religion and faith that struggle to understand each other and to be understood by the other. While it often seems like the kind of theoretical discussions we would have late at night in college, in this setting it is of the utmost importance for Pete’s life. And in the end, there is no definitive answer to any of the questions.
I have to admit that Pete has by far the more interesting questions and opinions. Gid struggles to hold his own. That may be because Gid (and thus scripture) seems to present answers that are a bit to osimple, or that can easily be set aside because of context or interpretation. If one fails to acknowledge the authority of scripture (and that term itself is open to a wide range of interpretations), why should one even listen to what Gid has to say? I would also say that Pete is far more interesting because he is the one who has to deal with his doubts—and maybe his faith. Gid is nothing but faith.
The discussion between Gid and Pete is not nearly involved as delving deep into the Bible or theology. But it does serve as a nice primer to give people a chance to think about some of these issues. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if the story serves as a Rorschach test that will affirm the importance of scripture for some, and the validity of skepticism and doubt for others.
Gun and a Hotel Bible is available digitally.
Photos courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media