Author: A.J. Jacobs
Recommend: I’m on the fence about this one. It had it’s good points and it’s sad points.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to get when I dove into this one. All I knew was the title had definitely peaked my interest. What exactly would it be like to attempt to follow some of the more obscure Biblical rules for a year?
As a Christian, I figured this would be interesting look from another perspective on the Bible and faith in general. An outsider looking, Jacobs takes the literalistic interpretation to the extreme. As someone who understands why we don’t follow all the cultural rules in the Old Testament anymore, I found of of it very amusing in a sad sort of way. The beard and hair alone was enough to cause massive laughter. While he did point out the separation of moral laws from cultural ones, he doesn’t really seem to get the point that the law was put there to show us that we couldn’t do it all ourselves and that we needed a Savior.
However, the fact that the author doesn’t really address a mainstream, moderate approach to Christianity (or Judaism) was strange to me. He seemed determined to seek out the extremes. From the Pat Robertsons to the gay Bible study, there really didn’t seem to be a moment where he sat down with the type of moderate Christianity that prevails today. The kind that centers on the Bible but isn’t extreme in either direction. I think the author missed out on a large part of what Christianity is about. When he does hit those things they seem reluctant and begrudgingly admitted.
I think the biggest tell of this whole book was his dealing with the Creation Museum. Instead of going in with an open mind, he freely admits that there is only so far his mind will stretch. I think for him, this was about looking at the rules but not really looking at the heart of the matter. If he had, this book would have been less light-hearted and more reflective in nature.
As a Christian I did find merit in reading this book, it was good to see how someone views faith from the outside looking in. However, I left it wanting to talk to the author and try again to convince this skeptic that he was missing the point.