Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically

Author A.J. Jacobs brings religious life into perspective with his newest book, "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible."

Jacobs is a nerdy agnostic who will pull you in with his honesty and sense of humor. Though he does not completely buy into the whole God thing, he gives it a fair chance in these memoirs.

So, for one year, he decided to try to follow the Bible as literally as possible. After his initial research (reading, researching and recording the over 700 laws of the Bible) he begins his journey.

Each chapter is filled with insight on various biblical commands.

A.J. struggles with some of the more bizarre rules:

  • You shall not wear a "garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff." (Leviticus 19:19).

  • If you set your slave free after six years, but he decides to stay, then you shall bring him to the doorpost and bore a hole in his ear. (Exodus 21:5).

  • You shall not eat eagles, vultures, black vultures, red kites, black kites, ravens, horned or screech owl, gull or any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

And yet, he finds comfort and wisdom in other rules:

  • Keep the sabbath.

  • "Let your garments be always white" Ecclesiastes 9:8.

  • No gossip.

  • Give thanks.

Most helpful to me, though, as one who proclaims to be Christian, is the fact that he readily admits his failures in following biblical laws:

  • You shall not covet.

  • You shall not lie.

  • You shall not utter the name of another God.

  • Be slow to anger (Proverbs 19:11).

Beware the use of some foul language early in the book. But also be aware that language gets cleaner as the book goes on. Could this be a by-product of his experiment? (Read the book to find out!)

Even though Mr. Jacobs wasn't "converted" by his experiment, he shares his new fondness for the sacred things in life. He acknowledges that there is something greater than him. And he even seems to be saying that there is comfort in some of the commandments that God left for us.

For anyone that asks me for a Christmas list, this is a hint.

Read the book. Be encouraged. Live a God-following life.

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