28 September 2007

Year of Living Biblically

An author by the name of A.J. Jacobs has just come out with a new book, called "The Year of Living Biblically." As the name suggests, this guy went for a whole year trying to follow the bible as closely as possible. I found out about him on a post at The Friendly Atheist and was intrigued. I'm probably not going to buy the book, mainly because I'm cheap, but if you find an interview, read it. It's fun. The Friendly Atheist link above has a link to a Newsweek interview that's pretty good.

Last night while my wife was at the dentist, I was searching for a magazine to read. Lo, as I was about to toss it aside as the crap it usually is, I noticed that a Macleans near the top of the pile of magazines mentioned it had an article on the book inside.

Twas an interesting, though quick read (I guess he wants us to buy the book). The author claims to be agnostic, and remained so by the end of the ordeal. He took pride in arguing with religious people, not in a condecending way: he would talk their ears off with lots of questions and observations, eventually getting a Jehovah's Witness guy to get sick of him and leave (after 3 hours). So this is an interesting guy.

So what did he have to do based on a literal interpretation? For starters, there's the dollop of olive oil he put on his head every day. Also, the big, untrimmed beard. All white clothing of unmixed, natural fibres (he even brought in a fabric expert to come check over his wardrobe to point out the "illegal" articles of clothing). He even chucked little tiny rocks at a guy he met who admitted to being an adulterer. Apparently, he was kind of morbidly eager to try out the whole stoning thing but felt bad about hurting people, so he carried around little rocks to stone people with because "the bible doesn't say what size of stones to use."

The most difficult requirements are actually the simple ones - no coveting, gossiping, or lying. Basically thought-police stuff. The other difficult stuff had to do with things that got in the way of his family life. For instance, you can't sit in a seat where a menstruating woman has sat. Because she was getting annoyed with the whole project, his wife intentionally dragged her butt across every piece of furniture in their apartment while she had her period.

That, and the whole sexism thing were problems. As recounted in the Newsweek interview, "Parts of the Bible say that the man is the head of the household and should make the decisions, which did not translate into reality in our household."

Tell me about it.

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