The Year of Living Biblically

I’m reading a new book, and it seems that within the Judeo-Christian traditions, people have always been obsessed with sex. I began reading, “The Year of Living Biblically” by AJ Jacobs, and thought I would blog about it as I move through the book.  So, far it is pretty good, but I’m barely half-way through the first chapter, and I’m a slow reader. So bear with me.

Got Religion?

So, Jacobs decided to begin a journey of living as biblically litterally as he could for a year.  Jewish, but raised fairly secular, his life hadn’t had much of a place for religion.  But following his previous book, which involved reading the entire Britannica  encyclopedia from cover to cover, he was looking for a new book idea, and thus embarked on this project. Jacobs, like myself, sees how influential the Bible is in today’s culture, and that played a role in his decision.  He starts with a premise that many religious people today, even those who claim to take the Bible literally, pick and choose which passages they want to observe and which they don’t. So he isn’t going to do that, or so is his plan.  He is going to jump in with both feet, and be as 100% literal as he can be. He writes:

If I had a God-shaped hole in my heart, this quest would allow me to fill it.

That’s a very cool notion, but there lies a problem.  For a number of biblical admonitions are now illegal, and/or require other people (like his wife’s) full acceptance and participation. but I’m a big fan of spiritual quests, and setting out upon a journey to find something that you are not sure is there or isn’t!  I was hooked a few pages into the introduction. I think Religion would “work” for more people, and play a role in making the world a better place, if more people took that approach- that of choosing to go on a journey open-minded enough to see what one might find along the way. Too often, a person embarks upon, or holds fast to their beliefs out of fear.  They don’t want to see what they find- they want to know and confirm that they are right so that they do not have to explore and come to new understandings.

Be fruitful and Multiply!

Jacobs writes:

Conception was a huge preoccupation of the ancients. … Bible’s most famous stories center on the quest to get pregnant.

He doesn’t say much (yet?) about why that might be, but I think it is is a really significant note.  It explains much about why homosexuality and abortion are probably the two hottest controversial issues that seem to divide us today.  I’ll write more about my thoughts on that later. Interestingly, the few stories he decides to consider at first (Sarah and Abraham, and Rachel/Leah and Jacob, don’t seem to be a positive image for the notion of “true marriage” as a marriage between 1 man and 1 woman for procreation!  In both cases (my interpretation) the focus is not upon the family unit of man, woman and child.  But rather, the focus is on women, who can not bear children who try anything to create a baby (let’s get real- they wanted a son and not a daughter), and who in the end could only get what they wanted though God’s action.  Human procreation meant nothing/ was not possible in these stories. This is worth thinking more about.


I’ve just passed page 20, and Jabobs is talking about beginning a prayer practice.  These few pages have been wonderful reading, and I think I am really going to love this book. His honesty and openness about what he is doing is refreshng and touching.  He writes roughly a page about what he is doing and then says:

I glance at the clock. I’ve been praying for only a minute.  I’ve promised myself I’d try to pray for at least ten minutes three times a day. 

Reminds me of when I started to meditate! How much can happen/ go through your mind and your body in a minute!

Off to work now, looking forward to reading more and will post again!  Have you read the book?  Anyone interested in getting it and reading along?  We can have a dialogue as we go?

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