I love it when I come across an unexpected treasure! The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs is a recent example of one of those “treasures”. A friend of mine gave me the book for my birthday, and I had it polished within a few days of receiving it! I found it hard to put it down. Before that I had neither heard of the book or the author, but apparently his first book The Know-it-All was quite a success, as he read the entire encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z and wrote about his experience and the new knowledge gained from his exercise. After taking on such a big project, A.J. says he knew his next book would have to carry equal or greater clout, and that is when he decided to spend a year reading, studying, and immersing himself in the number one seller of all time, the Bible. He decided to try and literally follow each and every commandment as close as possible, especially looking deeper into the more mysterious, questionable ones.
Though A.J. is Jewish by birth, he says his nuclear family’s religious interactions went about as far as having a Star of David on the top of their Christmas tree. A.J. considers him self an agnostic. I am sure many Jews and Christians alike cringe at the thought of a “nonbeliever” reading and trying to follow the Bible literally; we’ve got enough bad press out there, right? But in reading, time and time again I was amazed, and at times taken aback, by his approach. He seemed to really take on the role of a seeker and, for the most part, he managed to behave in the humblest and nonjudgmental ways possible. He was often more focused on his own reaction to the laws and traditions that are stranger in nature, than focusing on the strange laws and traditions themselves. Much of the time he was far less judgmental and condemning than an average “religious person” would be if they came across some of the people and things which he experienced in his quest
His wit and humor mixed with brutal honesty and sincerity were absolutely refreshing to me. Naturally, the book being labeled in the “humor” category, I expected to laugh! And laugh I did, often, sometimes out loud, but the more surprising moments for me were when A.J. got an epiphany of some sort, something that really touched him, or caused him to ask him self deep, reflective, scary questions about his beliefs, morality and even child rearing (as a fairly new parent). This book coming into my life at this very point in time was truly God sent; no pun intended! It in fact spurred me to ask more questions about what I believe and why, but also inspired me to be more acceptant of things I may not agree with or fully understand. Though this self proclaimed agnostic author’s book is found in the humor section, I would go as far to say that they should move it to the spiritual section of the book shop, because it healthily pushed me further into my faith and what I believe.
That being said, I think religious or not, God fearing or not, everybody can benefit and enjoy this book. Whether you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic or anything else, I believe there is something in it that everyone can relate to on a mere human level. I suggest you do yourself a favor and go buy or borrow a copy and give it a read!
Oh, and A.J., seeing that you always talk about Googling yourself, if you happened to stumble upon this blog, leave a comment and let us know you were here!
originally posted on http://livelovedaily.blogspot.com