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Topic: A Year of Living Biblically

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Subject: A Year of Living Biblically
Date Posted: 7/21/2008 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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I'm reading this book right now (or rather listening to the audiobook) and so far its really good.  I really like the way the author strives to obey the spirit of all the biblical laws and the letter of them as often as possible.  Its interesting to follow the changes he makes in his life because of this experiment (i.e. how he disciplines his son, how he tries different ways of praying), and some of it is really hilarious (when he can't sit on any chair in his house because his menstruating wife sat on all of them making them unclean).  Has anyone else read this or plan to read it?  Its an easy read, fun and thought provoking.

Date Posted: 7/21/2008 12:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,665
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I read this a few months ago, and really enjoyed it.  I liked it when he stoned the guy with pebbles.  The main thing I think I enjoyed about the book was his meeting so many different people and just how much he enjoyed it.

Date Posted: 7/21/2008 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2006
Posts: 4,669
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I loved the book.. the stoning in hte park was my favorite.. I also loved how he wentinto the closed orthodox ceremonies in NYC, interesting reading :)

Date Posted: 7/22/2008 7:37 AM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 2,819
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This is on my WL and I'm really looking forward to reading it.  (Feel free to post directly, wink wink...). 

Date Posted: 7/22/2008 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 997
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I'm curious about this book.  I've heard comments from people who seem to think that the way he lived was something akin to Orthodox Judaism; is that an assumpution he fosters??  Or does it make it clear that that is not at all what Judaism is about?

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 7:44 AM ET
Member Since: 11/24/2005
Posts: 5,638
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Last Edited on: 2/6/10 8:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/23/2008 3:45 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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I just finished it today, and I think the conclusion of the book was absolutely inspired.  While I enjoyed the book as a whole, the last few chapters were what really made it stand out and hold together as more than just a publicity stunt or bizarre social experiment.  The comments he cites from one of his mentors, a retired pastor, about the relevance of the Bible and distinguishing between following the bible and idolizing the bible were, IMO, spot on and phrased better than I'd ever heard.  And Jacobs' final musings on how his year changed him and the ways in which it did not change him were incredibly thoughtful.  I'd definitely recommend this book.

(Jeanne, he did follow a lot of obscure Old Testament laws and immerse himself in many of the really old-school Jewish tradions and communities like the Hasids, but he also consulted Christian authorities from day one of his project, visited fundamentalist Christian groups that were both liberal and conservative and explored the concept of "cafeteria Christianity".  He makes it clear that there are extreme and moderate followers of both religions and distinguishes, IMO, really well between the obscure rules that only a handful of people still follow and the ones that are generally accepted.)

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,665
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He actually says at the beginning of the book that he is an agnostic at this point in his life, but he does explore different Biblical religions.  He spends some time with the Amish, for example.  It's been a while since I read it too.  I never got the impression that he was trying to lump any group of people together or demean any of them, but rather show the more spiritual and interesting side of religious life.  There were certainly traditions he followed that he never did understand the reasoning behind, but then there were ones he came to appreciate and enjoy.  He really seemed to like meeting people and learning their traditions.  If anything, I finished the book thinking about how different people are all over the globe, and how very much the same we all are at the same time.  It was great.

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 997
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(Jeanne, he did follow a lot of obscure Old Testament laws and immerse himself in many of the really old-school Jewish tradions and communities like the Hasids, but he also consulted Christian authorities from day one of his project, visited fundamentalist Christian groups that were both liberal and conservative and explored the concept of "cafeteria Christianity".  He makes it clear that there are extreme and moderate followers of both religions and distinguishes, IMO, really well between the obscure rules that only a handful of people still follow and the ones that are generally accepted.)

Except that Judaism as a religion is not based on immersing oneself in either your Old Testament or our Torah, except loosely.  It's based on the Talmud, which refutes many of those same laws.  Christians tend to think that reading their Old Testament gives them a good idea of what Judaism is about, but that's not really true.  Sure, we follow some of those laws, same as you do, but most were re-written by the Sages. 

Oh well, pet peeve.  Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread!

Date Posted: 7/24/2008 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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Yeah, he actually does go into a lot how the Talmud and the oral tradition and interpretation by the Rabbis determine what laws Jews follow.  I'm just describing it poorly I guess.  But his whole experience wasn't about following the specific way one religious group lives, but rather the basic origin from which most of the laws that are followed derive.