Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book review: "The Year of Living Biblically."

I'll start off by saying that I am neither Christian nor Jewish, but I think those faiths are important.  I also respect those who follow them.  The author of this book, A. J. Jacobs, did not initially feel much respect, but was open minded about religion as he pursued the goal of following the bible to the letter for a whole year.

He met with people from many different traditions (The Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, various Orthodox rabbis, and a bunch of other people.) and also traveled to places like Jerusalem.  It is both a fascinating and a fun read, especially for those who have ever wanted to know what all those proscriptions are that the bible really has for people's lives.

It also reminds me of a ritual that I did for several months.  Every night I would light candles and pour a small glass of wine.  The wine was $13.00 a bottle, and with the size of my glass, two bottles were needed each month.  I complained to myself as I poured at first.  I tried to skimp out, pouring only half a glass.  I came up with various excuses as to why I couldn't pour a glass that evening ("I am too tired" was much used.)  I griped about how much it cost, and how the glasses of wine weren't being put to any good purpose.

Eventually, though, I came to terms with it.  I accepted the cost of the wine as part of my monthly budget.  Complaining about the wasted money came back to haunt me when I wanted to buy things that weren't necessary and which I wouldn't care about after a short while.  Why should I care about wasting money on wine when I would waste it on other useless things?

Anyway, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible is an excellent exploration of faith and the effects of ritual upon our lives.  I might use this as inspiration for adding a few rituals to my life.

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