In an August 10 interview on New Zealand's TV1 Close Up program McKellen was confronted by the interviewer questioning the truth of the rumour "He's the one, that when he stays in hotels rips the part of the bible out that criticizes homosexuality."
"Yes it is true," responded McKellen it's even tones. "Its Leviticus 18:22 that I object to, or is it 22:18, I've always got to look it up. Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman, it is an abomination. And they, I think the punishment for an abomination was being stoned to death," he said.
McKellen added, "I think it's rather obscene and pornographic, and shouldn't be there, so I remove it."
Asked how many bibles he has vandalized, McKellen replied, "I have no idea, but other people do it as well, people send me evidence that they have been removing that."
McKellen has been vandalizing bibles in the same fashion for at least a few years...."
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Gandalf has spoken. I've never been a Tolkein fan, and I didn't see any of the Lord of the Rings movies. C.S. Lewis and Narnia are more my speed. I'd heard before the movies were released, however, that Ian McKellan was homosexual, and it struck me as fascinating and quite ironic that so outspoken an individual about his "alternative" sexual proclivities could play such a moral and prominent character in a movie by a man who clearly saw his lifestyle as aberrant and unnatural. Tolkein would not have been pleased.
That's neither here nor there though. That McKellan has destroyed multiple copies of the Scriptures -- probably placed there by good people through the ministry of the Gideons -- is important though. That he defaces something not belonging to him, and in which he doesn't even believe, is telling. What has he to fear from it? It's not like a bunch of Bible-toters are coming to lynch him or burn him at the stake. It's just words on a page -- if his view of the world is right.
This story brought to mind an interesting Old Testament story, found in Jeremiah 36:14-16;20-21;23-24;27,28,30,31. I commend it to your reading -- and to Mr. McKellan's:
"Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them.
And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read [it] in their ears.
Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words....
And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
And it came to pass, [that] when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast [it] into the fire that [was] on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that [was] on the hearth.
Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, [neither] the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words....
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,
Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned....
Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.
And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not."
Ian McKellan should know that Voltaire declared during his lifetime the Bible would cease to be of interest and Christianity would die out. One hundred years later, Voltaire was in the ground and Bibles were being printed on his presses, in his former home. Talented people, brilliant minds, have come and gone, but the Bible continues on.
King Jehoiakim took an penknife and cut out the parts of the Bible he didn't like, just as did Mr. McKellan. He burned it. Thought it was "obsence" and "pornographic" I imagine. Jehoakim was killed by the Babylonians a few years later. But the Words of God were fulfilled.
You may cut up the words on the page, Mr. McKellan, but that doesn't negate their truth, nor will it keep them from coming to pass.