Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Year of Living Biblically

Year of living biblically
We have begun a new Bible Study at Grace - 11 am on Tues mornings. It follows the 10 am Healing and Eucharist service in the small chapel. All are welcome. I recommend that you read some of the Bible every day. I guarantee that you will find yourself in the same story and struggles and triumphs on the pages as you read.

The following comes from a New York Daily News on Oct 11, 2007. A.J. Jacobs decided to spend a year living as biblically as he could. He followed the more than 700s rules found in its pages.

"Since researching and writing "The Year of Living Biblically," A.J. Jacobs has a richer appreciation for religion.

He also has bag of beard stashed under a sink.

Jacobs' memoir is subtitled "One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible." It retraces the 381 days that he tried to obey every Good Book rule - about 700 of them - exactly as written.

"My goal was to get to the original intent of the Bible, to go right to the source," notes Jacobs, 39, who is editor at large for Esquire magazine.

Jacobs, an agnostic, said the idea came from his fascination with the role religion plays in people's lives. And, he admits, it was a stunt that could sell a book.

He knows about such things. In 2004, he came out with "The Know-It-All," which chronicled months spent reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.

The eyestrain from immersing himself in that project was a picnic compared with what Jacobs went through to live the ultimate biblical life.

He heeded the Ten Commandments, natch, and didn't lie, steal or covet. He tithed his income. He wore white and attached tassels to his shirt-sleeves. He didn't touch his wife, Julie, or any woman, at certain times of the month. He pelted an adulterer with a pebble. "It was a surprisingly intense encounter," says Jacobs.

He consulted regularly with priests, rabbis and ministers. He wore biblical attire, purchased at a Halloween store. He invited a Jehovah's Witness into his upper West Side home. "I realize this fact already puts me in an extreme minority," he muses. "It's like volunteering for jury duty or paying to see a Vin Diesel movie."

He also did field study. He tended sheep in Israel, visited with the Amish and chatted up evangelical Christians at the Creationism Museum in Kentucky ("the Louvre," he writes, "for those who believe God made Adam less than 6,000 years ago from dust").

He also danced - hard - with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. "It was like an Orthodox rave, and an interesting insight into the joy that religion could provide. There's sin and the dourness of religion, but there's a whole other side."

Until Sept. 18, 2006, the day his crusade ended, Jacobs left the edges of his beard unshaven, because the Bible tells us to do so.

"The facial hair is simply the most noticeable physical manifestation of a spiritual journey I began a year ago," he notes. That's why he felt compelled to save his whiskers in a Ziploc.

In a true act of biblical devotion, Jacobs was fruitful and multiplied. His wife gave birth to sons Lucas and Zane on Day 359 of his biblical odyssey. "I take my projects very seriously," he says, with a laugh. "We were trying anyway, book or no book, but the timing was, pardon the pun, divine."

Jacobs' book has been bought as a movie and has brought some lessons. "The outside shapes the inside, like Method acting," he says. "If you behave like a good person, you eventually become a better person."

Not that he always got it right. "I failed on an hourly basis, and that was one of the lessons," he says. "You'll never be perfect."

Nonetheless, he has changed in ways big and small.

"I spent so much time giving thanks while doing the book, I'm more thankful now. I focus on the 100 little things that go right every day.

"I'm a workaholic," he adds. "But there's a mandatory day of rest, if you follow the Bible. I see the beauty of it."

But there's always another book. His next stunt?

"Julie says I owe her one," he says. "She thinks I should do 'A Year of Giving Foot Massages.'"

For now, she is happy with Jacobs' fur-free face."

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