Monday, October 29, 2007

party like it's 1999...BC

Year of Living Biblically
by AJ Jacobs
pub 10/09/07

This title is ok. I wanted it to be really good. I also want people who show up in the store looking for a religious title to pick this up by accident, but only because I don't always behave biblically myself. I just think it would be amusing.

Jacobs blesses us with another bio-book a la 'The Know It All' wherein he takes on a quest to better himself. In this case, having fathered a child, he suddenly realizes that his overwhelmingly secular life might have left him devoid of the ability to raise his son in a moral way. He decides that he wants to follow bible law as closely as possible for one year (9 mos OT, 3 mos NT), even if it ticks off his 1-week-out-of-the-month unclean wife, who gets back at him in a pretty amusing way at one point, managing to deprive him of all adult sized seating options in their apartment.

I found all the bible tidbits he mentions in the book to be more interesting than the description of his journey; but that's me, all about the dorky details. I also liked his inclusion of his various spiritual gurus' interpretation of various bible laws and passages, some of them very sensible and some off the wall...I'm sure where each interpretation lands in the spectrum will vary by individual, but there's of range to choose from here.

I think I could have handled the title better if he hadn't decided to try to follow biblical law so literally and so carefully that he became a bit of a cartoon...a year's worth of scraggly beard, wearing all white and eventually progessing to Jesus robes, carrying around one of those canes that becomes an emergency chair so that he wouldn't have to sit anywhere 'unclean.' (Though as a self-described huge germ-aphobe, he might just keep that one up). In many cases, he seems to find that there's an underlying idea to each law that's helpful, such as more parenting for his son, and that the literal law may be going overboard, aka 'The Rod' (that when spare spoils said child, supposedly. The bible doesn't quite say it that way, but it does say 'rod.').

Despite the fact that his personally story didn't really grip me, I did read this book in two days, which is a pretty good for me (i'm in the wrong job for being a slow reader, but i slog on). I guess that means something in there was pulling me along.

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posted by ~e at 11:14 PM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm really liking the "mid-life crisis" label on this one!

I've vaguely heard about this guy but haven't really delved into his story. Everytime I hear of him I wonder what he does when he crosses potentially contradictory Biblical values, or things which just aren't acceptable nowadays. I have great sympathy for his wife.

11/01/2007 8:51 PM  

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