The Year of Living Biblically
I just finished reading The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs.
Now, typically I don't read non-fiction. No matter how often Ben "suggested" that I read something that was true, I frankly found it too nerdy and figured that couldn't be enjoyable at all. But, since this book was our pick for book club this month, and it did look interesting, I gave it a shot.
And interesting it was! It reads just like a year of daily blogs by A.J. (editor at large for the magazine Esquire and author of The Know it All). He spends a year trying to follow the bible as literally as possible, focusing on the Old Testament for 9 months and the New Testament for 3 months. He has a great sense of humor and the things he encounters trying to find the origin of traditions and examples of people following all the obscure rules and laws are beyond bizarre!
He's Jewish by heritage, but calls himself agnostic. His theory is that all people who follow the bible (there are so many names for these people besides "Christian" that I'll just say "people") are choosy about what parts they follow, picking only what fits their agenda. His experiences with all these people and their various beliefs, traditions and customs are proof that it may just be impossible to follow everything in the bible--at least literally.
I took away two things from reading this book...well, maybe three:
To follow the Bible, and essentially God, is difficult, complicated and mind-boggling to say the least. There are so many interpretations and perspectives on the meaning of nearly every verse in the bible, all (or most) with excellent arguments.
After reading this book and visiting a variety of different churches over the past two years, I have a much greater appreciation for God's grace. May he be merciful unto all of us who think we have Him figured out. I'm sure we don't, but we're doing our best and as far as I can tell, that's our mission--to do our best to follow Him. Somehow though, I get the feeling He's just shaking his head at us in Heaven because we are all so transfixed on the details and the little things that we were missing the big picture. I'm going to try and look at the big picture more in the future.
Second thing I took from the book: I'd like to be able to be dedicated and focused on a project like A.J. was for this book. Amazing commitment and in-depth research was essential to his success. I'm not sure what kind of project I'd like to do, but I like the idea of really focusing on something specific everyday to reach a long-term goal.
And finally, I'm going to read more non-fiction. I'll try for one a quarter next year and see how that goes.
Definitely a recommended read--it'll make you think--and laugh out loud, literally. The people in the cardio room at the rec think I'm the weird girl who laughs for no reason!