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Book Club #2: The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs


Bethella

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So, The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs.

 

I found this to be a light-hearted fluff book that didn't really impress me. Yes, I learned some new things about the bible that I hadn't known before. But I had such a hard time taking AJ seriously- I really got the impression he did all this just so he could write a book about it, not that he actually cared about the experience.

 

Did anyone get more out of it than I did?

 

 


April 1: A Stolen Life by Jacyee Dugard

April 15: Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce

May 1: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

May 15: Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back by Frank Schaeffer

June 1: In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture by Alister McGrath

June 15: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by John Krackauer

July 1: Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction by John Fea

July 15: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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I'm enjoying this - once again this is a book I enjoyed a while ago.

It is pretty shallow - far more entertainment than theology, but I enjoyed it. It does prove the ludicrousness of biblical literalism, especially with the many contradictory edicts.

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I generally don't like books where the author does some kind of project for the sole purpose of writing a book about it, but I did like this one better than most, I guess because I found out about some quirky things in the bible that I didn't know about or had forgotten about.

I didn't see the point of him doing things half-assed though. Throwing a microscopic stone at someone, just to be able to check "stone adulterers" off the list--to me that's completely pointless and he might as well not have done it. It's like it was done only to make the book more entertaining. The stuff that he really tried to live every day, all year, like praying and not shaving and the purity laws and diet laws all that--that was more interesting to me. I did think it was interesting to read about the effect that stuff had on him.

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He has a good sense of humour and I enjoyed his random adventures (especially when going to see people like the Amish family or the guys at the Creation museum - many of the stronger parts were the ones that dealt with other people), but in the end it seemed more like an excuse to show off A.J. Jacobs than to explore anything in the Bible in real depth. This book is fun - and I don't think you can examine the Bible like that without some humour, for heaven's sake - but I would also like to see a more serious look at it (a woman wrote her own version recently, anyone read that? How does it compare?). Overall, it wasn't a waste of time, but definitely not one that I would re-read. You can tell he's way into trivia, and I'm a sucker for that!

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I love AJ Jacobs. I've read all his books and they are pretty much all in the same vain as this one. He picks a somewhat outrageous idea, applies it to his life for a certain amount of time, and then writes about it. He's more a humour writer than anything so when I read the book I wasn't really expecting it to be particularly insightful, just entertaining.

My favourite part of the book is when his wife, Julie, sits down on everything in their apartment while she is "unclean" because she's frustrated with his project (I think, I read this a while ago and didn't re-read it this time). But she forgot to sit in the little kid chair so that's the only place he can sit. Hilarious (for me anyway).

As to doing things half-assed I think that shows how certain things in the Bible really just have no place in the modern world. The consequences for actually stoning someone would be astronomical for everyone involved, if he wants to do it he can only do it half-assed.

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My favourite part of the book is when his wife, Julie, sits down on everything in their apartment while she is "unclean" because she's frustrated with his project (I think, I read this a while ago and didn't re-read it this time). But she forgot to sit in the little kid chair so that's the only place he can sit. Hilarious (for me anyway).

I really liked that part too. Haha. I like to imagine I would have done something similar in her place :)

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This one is taking me longer to get through than Escape, but so far, I'm thinking:

- the book is a good reminder of how biblical literalists are just as much "cafeteria" Christians as the more liberal-minded folk they decry.

- it has also made me think more about the faux aspects of Judaism some of our fundie friends espouse. For example, there is really no good religious reason for the Duggars (as Christians) to eschew pork.

-biblical literalism, and thus a good chunk of fundamentalism, really is all about the Old Testament God.

-there must be a fair number of people in Orthdox Jewish groups who make their living running around and interpreting & enforcing all the rules of the Torah for other people.

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-there must be a fair number of people in Orthdox Jewish groups who make their living running around and interpreting & enforcing all the rules of the Torah for other people.

Like the guy who checks for mixed fibres? Do you think he earns a living at that?

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Like the guy who checks for mixed fibres? Do you think he earns a living at that?

I think he probably does. There's even a Shatnez Testers of America

shatnez.n3.net/

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I read it a while ago and found it very enjoyable. A.J.'s sense of humour seems to be close to mine and I have a soft spot for people who emerge themselves in ridiculous projects.

No, it's not heavy theology, but I like his "I'll try anything (Biblical) once"-apporach and that he doesn't edit it out when he has spiritual experiences in places that he really doesn't want to, like the snake-handler's church.

I felt like he really wanted to try this out, and writing a book about it, was what made it possible financially, fine with me. Besides the underplayed criticism of religion is so much more powerful than the bully-approach of someone like Richard Dawkins.

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I just got to the part last night in which A. J. and his wife go to the fertility clinic. I never knew that IVF and assisted procreation by any means possible (if necessary) was perfectly fine among Orthodox Jews. So that's one contrast between Orthodox communities and our Protestant fundie friends who believe that if you're not naturally fertile, you're just shit out of luck, pretty much.

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Sorry, I'm a bit late (my library just got a copy in). Not only is the book fluffy, but Jacobs keeps hinting at big spiritual events that are going to happen; that's a bit annoying.

I think that it's like editing reality tv - you can't make lives change to suit your schedule, so non-physical aspects (spirituality, mental condition, relationships, etc) can be exaggerated (or acknowledged out of time sequence) to quickly to add plot points. I'm not quite half through. Looking forward to his end of book self's mental changes, and more of how his family adjusts.

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I have this on my Nook and it is taking forever to get through! I find if given the choice of reading this book or playing on the internet, I chose the internet, it is just not holding my attention. I think it's his writing style, I start to get interested the he quickly chances topics or subjects and I just get bored. I can't place it, I mean it is not a hard read, but not engrossing me either.

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I like his writing style, or at least I do when I read memoir type books like this. It is not a "deep thoughts" type of book. I felt bad for his wife through most of this, because I'd kill my husband if he tried this experiment.

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