Monday, February 2, 2009

My Jesus Year

One of these days I'm going to think of a good topic for a year memoir--you know, that subgenre that seems so popular of late where the writer makes some lifestyle change or other for a year and writes about it with some blend of comedy and insight. So far my muse hasn't complied, though.

I can't stop reading the things, though, and I enjoyed My Jesus Year (Benyamin Cohen, 2008). Cohen, an Orthodox rabbi's son, had been going through the motions of his own faith, so he wondered if satisfying his lifelong curiosity about Christianity will give him new insight into his own beliefs. And since he live in Atlanta, he's well-placed for such a project. He spends a year visiting assorted churches and Christian events (all while maintaining faithful Jewish observance) and comes out feeling reinvigorated by the variety of faith he sees.

Cohen's outsider view doesn't always mesh with my insider perspective. He's a lot more tolerant of megachurches and stadium worship than I tend to be, and he's harsh on a church that sounds exactly like a larger version of my mom's church in Alabama--very informal, with no trappings of tradition or liturgy, and maybe not the most theologically sophisticated in the world--because he's put off by the youth of the prayer leader and the pastor's interpretation of Moses and the burning bush. Still, it's funny and engaging, and I'm feeling inspired to open my eyes a little more to the possibility of God's presence, both in the places I expect it and where I don't.

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