Do not shave your beard Stone adulterers Why? The book that came out of the year has several layers. I tried not to covet, gossip, or lie for a year.
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This was not easy. An investigation of the rules that baffle the 21st century brain. How to justify the laws about stoning homosexuals? Or smashing idols? Or sacrificing oxen?
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And how do you follow those in modern-day Manhattan? A look at various fascinating religious groups.
I embedded myself among several groups that take the Bible literally in their own way, from creationists to snake handlers, Hasidim to the Amish. A critique of fundamentalism. I became the ultra-fundamentalist. I found that fundamentalists may claim to take the Bible literally, but they actually just pick and choose certain rules to follow. By taking fundamentalism extreme, I found that literalism is not the best way to interpret the Bible. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year.
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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 made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.
His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance.
And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible , part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down. What would it require for a person to live all the commandments of the Bible for an entire year?
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They're both irrational, but that doesn't mean that they're not meaningful. Just because something is irrational doesn't make it bad. Rituals can be meaningful and beautiful even though they don't make logical sense. This rational project was almost exploring the other side.
What if you tried to take away all irrationality?
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Even with that project, you have to start with kind of a baseline of what constitutes rational and what doesn't constitute rational. There's the rub. I just became fascinated with this area called Behavioral Economics, where they talk about all of the bad choices that humans make based on, basically, faulty problems with our brain that are built-in design flaws.
Like when we focus on the one airplane crash per month as opposed to the 10, car crashes per month. And so we totally overestimate the risk of flying. That's just one example of hundreds of what our brain does. Do you have an idea what the fascination is behind these sorts of things?
I was very excited because there's a church in Massachusetts that did 30 days of living by Leviticus. I thanked him for giving me credit, and I said, "That was very biblical of you. It's almost voyeuristic. It's the idea of walking in someone else's shoes or sandals, as I would say. This next book [ The Guinea Pig Diaries ] is actually coming out soon, but it's basically a compilation of shorter projects. After the last year-long project, I had people telling me that I had to make amends to my wife because I put her through so much.
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So this was the month of doing everything she said, so basically the month of foot massages and Kate Hudson movies. Click for reprint information. Christianity Today also interviewed A. Jacobs after his year of living biblically. The Year of Living Biblically is available from Amazon. Jacobs's website has more on the book and upcoming projects. Already a subscriber? Log in to continue reading. To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below. To share this article with your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.
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