The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
by A. J. Jacobs
A funny, though-provoking look into a wacky guy's even wackier year.
Appropriate for adults - occasional adult language & situations, at times irreverent
Borrowed from the library
What a fun way to kick off the year! I loved A. J. Jacob's look into the difficulty of biblical adherence. A secular Jew, living in NYC, Jacobs decides to explore religion by attempting to follow "all" the commandments in the Bible. I gained insight into the problems of biblical interpretation, what it is like to approach religion from a secular mindset, and the huge variety of people who seek to follow the Bible. I didn't think that Jacobs did a very good job addressing the New Testament, he might even agree. But his zealous interest in the Old Testament and willingness to try almost anything was endearing, often hilarious, and even occasionally inspiring.
Some quotes to give you the flavor of the thing (my favorite is the last):
"If I had been in charge of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve would have gotten three strikes, then a fourth, then a stern warning, then had their bedtime moved up twenty minutes. God, as you know, kicked them out. As a sign of His compassion he clothed them in animal skins before the eviction, but He still kicked them out."
"How can these ethically advanced rules and these bizarre decrees be found in the same book? And not just the same book. Sometimes the same page. The prohibition against mixing wool and linen comes right after the command to love our neighbor. It's not like the Bible has a section called "And Now for Some Crazy Laws." They're all jumbled up like a chopped salad."
On following Proverbs 31:6 "Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress."
"David seems grateful for the wine...I love it when the Bible gives Emily Post-like tips that are both wise and easy to follow."
"And then it hits me: I have just done something few human beings have ever achieved. I have out-Bible-talked a Jehovah's Witness."
"I blow my shofar. It still sounds like a fax machine, but a healthy one."
"An atheist club felt oxymoronic, like an apathy parade. But against all odds, it exists."
"I ask him if it's hard to lead a group of atheists. Like herding cats, he says. Atheist aren't by nature, joiners. "they're individualists, " he says. Which perhaps explains why we had thirty separate checks for lunch."
"Here's an email I got from a conservative evangelical Christian I contacted...
"It is through being in Christ and following Him that we become transformed. Unless one takes this step, one cannot be truly transformed. So, after your year is over, you will go back to being a man who finds purpose in weird projects and writing assignments. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is much more rewarding."