Last week I went to the library to pick up a few audiobooks to start my Audio Book Challenge 2010 with. While there I also picked up the book The Year of Living Biblically One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs.
Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.
The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverant and irreverant, personal and universal, and will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes. The Year of Living Biblically will charm readers both secular and religious. It is part CliffNotes to the Bible, part memoir and part looks into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.
I will admit when I picked this book up I was skeptical of it being a funny book. First off, my sense of humor is a little different and I don’t find things to usually be laugh out loud funny. Secondly, being a deeply religious person I find religious to be a serious topic and not one to be taken lightly.
However I will have to admit this book had me hooting and holding my sides. A. J Jacobs writes with a refreshingly honest look at his own agnostic background and the skepticism of his life changing during his year of reading the Bible. He first spends some time reading the Bible, writing down laws and commands from the Bible – over 700 of them- and gets to work trying to find the meaning of the law and following it as literally as possible.
His wife is a little more tolerant of his project then I would be but even she has her limits. One scene from the book that still cracks me up comes to mind. One of the laws the author is trying to follow is the original menstruation law that cites you should not touch a woman for 1 week following her cycle because she is considered unclean.
Leviticus 15:20 goes even farther in saying “everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean.”
One afternoon A. J Jacobs comes home to sit in his favorite chair and his why informs him he might not want to sit there since she has sat on it. Okay, he moves to sit on another chair. “Sat in that one too,” says Julie. “And the ones in the kitchen. And the couch in the office.” High five to this enterprising woman!
Filled with entertaining and educational moments this book doesn’t quite produce the spiritual awakening that I had hoped the author would find at the end of his year-long quest but this self proclaimed agnostic still gets the right idea. It’s not always about which religious sect you belong to, or which way laws you follow to the letter or not. Sometimes it’s about the joy in knowing their is a higher power and a higher purpose to your life.