Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Year of Living Biblically

By A. J. Jacobs

A. J. Jacobs was raised as a secular Jew and, as an adult, described himself as an agnostic, not sure that God exists but also not sure God doesn't exist. So he went on a quest to follow the rules and advice given in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. In this way, maybe he would find God and, as an added bonus, he would write about his experience and hopefully make some money too.
No stranger to the Bible, he had an idea of what following all the laws of the Old Testament would entail. Still following the laws was quite a challenge, especially trying to follow all the advice given in books like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. He let his beard grow, attached tassels to the "corners" of his clothes, bathed after ejaculating, wouldn't sit an any seat that had been occupied by a woman because of possibility of it being "unclean", smeared lamb's blood (actually lamb's juice because he couldn't find any where to buy the blood) on the door of his apartment, and so on, trying to follow the plethora of rules and admonishments in the Bible. Needless to say, it was not easy, not only for him but for his wife and young son, who, while not partaking of the experiment, were still affected by it. His wife found the rule about not sitting where a woman has sat who is menstruating so perturbing that she made sure to sit on every chair in the house so that they were all "unclean" and A. J. had to so out and buy himself a small, portable stool for his sole use.

This was quite a journey for the author and for the reader. Makes you wonder how anyone could ever fool themselves into thinking that it is truly possible to follow every law, rule and proverb in the bible. As the author found out, it is a hopeless task, as he repeatedly failed to meet his goals, especially in regard to controlling his thoughts, emotions and speech and remaining pure in mind, deed and body. Still it was fun and enlightening to read about his valiant attempt to live a pure and Biblically correct, godly life. Even though in the end, he went back to his regular life, the experience did affect him in profound and spiritual ways.

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