Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically

In The Year of Living Biblically (AJ Jacobs, 2008) an agnostic who describes his background as "Jewish like the Olive Garden is Italian" decides to follow the Bible as literally as possible for a year (8 months focused on the Old Testament, 4 on the New).

I first heard about this book several months ago, but I didn't put it on my holds list, because it sounded like Yet Another Gimmicky Lifestyle Change Memoir. But someone on my LiveJournal friendslist recommended it, so I gave it a try. I'm not sorry I did. I mean, it is a Gimmicky Lifestyle Change Memoir. But it's funny, engagingly written, and managed to make me think all the same. Jacobs follows obscure ceremonial laws and visits a snake-handling church (though he honors his promise to his wife not to pick up a rattlesnake himself), but he also tries not to lie, gossip, or speak ill of others, and he muses upon how to love his neighbor in a New York apartment building and what to do when two laws come into direct conflict. And it made me realize that even back when I was a much more literalistic Christian, I wasn't so good at the not gossiping, avoiding of convenient white lies, etc.

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