or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week ¦ 1/19/14

   January 25th, 2014

hand to the lightHere's something nice about librarians: we know that one of the best ways to self-medicate is with information. One of my co-workers told me this story - it could have happened to anyone, but since she approached it in a librarian way, I figured other people would enjoy it too.

My coworker was talking to her sister recently, who had hurt her arm and was required to sleep with her arm propped up. Which sounds normal enough, but this idea struck terror into the heart of my coworker.

One of her childhood fears, that has stuck with her all her life, is sleeping with her arms propped up. It stemmed from reading a book of Christian stories in her dentist's waiting room - the story was about how Jesus knew you were dead and ready to be taken to Heaven if you were in bed with your arms propped up.

She decided to search to see if she could re-locate whatever story this was - because no one else remembered reading it. She searched for various combinations of keywords (jesus dead holding up hand childrens story), and eventually she found it!

It's called Jesus Understood, and I agree with her that the whole thing comes across now as pretty creepy. I had never heard of this propped hand = Heaven idea, but I can see why the last sentence might stay with a child:

jesus understood

It's a short story (just three pages), so read it and see what you think.

Anyway, I thought this was a very librarian way to face a childhood terror - go back and find the source, and see how it reads as an adult. Hopefully my coworker can now sleep peacefully.

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