Rewriting the bible in Columbia County

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Phillip Patterson beneath the willows. (photo by Laura Glazer)

By Jessica Pasko

Phillip Patterson is hand-writing the Bible.

Yes, the entire bible. The 1611 King James bible, to precise. The Columbia County resident hopes to complete it by next year, the book's 500th birthday.

Intrigued?

Laura Glazer was. Yes, that Laura Glazer. The host of Hello Pretty City.

What's all this about?

A mix of things, really.

Phillip Patterson says he wouldn't necessarily classify himself as a religious person. In fact, some days he veers more toward agnosticism. But he found himself wondering about the bible.

"It's probably one of the most important tomes of Western Civilization," he explains. "We swear on it , we damn people with it, but no one's really read it. We read passages of it, but that's it."

So he decided that the best way for him to really, truly understand this book would be to hand-write it himself, line by line, page by page. He started working on in August 2007, and is now working on the third volume of what he expects will ultimately be 8 or 9 volumes in total.

There's more, though.

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Phillip has been living with AIDS since 1985. His illness has left him with compromised abilities, and he now lives in a retirement home in Philmont. He felt like the other residents just watched television all day. For him, that wasn't enough. He needed a project he could fully immerse himself in, something with meaning -- something he could still do even if his health further deteriorated.

Phillip had already been working for awhile when he met Laura Glazer. Glazer works at Albany Medical Center, where he was an outpatient.

She'd always had a strong interest in hand-written lettering and she was fascinated with his project. She started out wanting to know more about his craftsmanship but ended up spending more and more time with him because he's such an interesting person.

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Laura has a background in photography (she attended the Rochester Institute of Technology) and eventually the two decided that she would document his work. When it's finally done, they hope to compile and publish a book.

Phillip is also hand-binding his volumes, inspired in part by Laura's work from a bookbinding class she took last year at the Albany Art Room. He ordered the supplies online and set about teaching himself binding methods too. He spends as many as 10 to 14 hours a day working on his project.
"This book project has changed me," he says. "It's kind of a Zen experience in many ways."

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Laura and Phillip will be holding a "show and tell" of their work in progress, "The Serenity of Knowing," on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 11:30 following services at the First Congregational Church on Quail St. in Albany. They'll be showing off some of the hand-bound books along with a slide show documenting the process. The presentation is free and open to the public -- church attendance not required. For more information, call 482-4580.

You can also follow their progress on Laura's blog. Their collaboration was featured in a recent issue of Art and Understanding , a national magazine for the HIV-affected community that's based in Albany.

all photos by Laura Glazer

Comments

That's just neat, I read the entire bible in 2008 for similar reasons, being that its such a foundation of western civilization and so few people have actually read it all the way through. What a cool project, wish I could make that event.

That photo is gorgeous. It reminds me of a Renoir.

What I find amazing about this project is the idea that writing it out by hand has to slow down the mind to take in the meaning of what is being written. So often we skim or speed read because we are overloaded with written material--at work, the internet etc. I find I have to discipline myself to even read an entire newspaper article rather than just hitting the lead sentences of each paragraph.

We at First Congregational are very excited to host Phillip and Laura on 2/28! They are both inspirational people and they have a lot to share. As stated in the article - attendance at the 10:30am worship service is not requred, but all are welcome to attend ---- we Congregationalist keep it to an hour or less.
Thanks for sharing, Phillip and Laura.
Peace.

Wonderful project, both Phillip and Laura! I knew there was something cool abt that photo postcard I kept on my desk for the longest time. I hope to come to the church on Sunday, will have some health issues of my own then but this is too inspirational to miss. Thank you to Rev. Tony and the First Congregational Church also for being such great hosts.... :)

@Summer: +1. Really nice photo, Laura.

WOW! What a legacy to leave! A hand written publication of The Word of God! I am moved to do the same ... a legacy for my children, my children's children. WOW! To God Be The Glory! Jim ~

Sadly, Laura and her show, Hello Pretty City will no longer be on WRPI. she will be moving the show to WEXT in early march.

All detail are in her blog: helloprettycity.com

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