Last week I took a break from my stumble through of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, (You have to, it’s a really hard book and my English major brain was getting tired, you know like you do after you go back to the gym after not going for a while. It was all, “The hardest thing we’ve read in the past year was Edith Wharton and now you’ve thrown this at me?”) and I read a brilliant book called The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.
Jacobs is a writer for Esquire magazine and described himself as an agnostic secular Jew. He decided to spend a year living the Bible as literally as possible. The results are amazing. Jacobs creates a list of rules for himself that come from the Torah, he consults (though often defies) The Talmud (the ancient Jewish teachings put together by rabbis interpreting the laws of the Torah), puts together “a spiritual advisory board” of rabbis, priests, ministers, and scholars to help him get by and of course grows a crazy beard.
Jacobs is irreverent but earnest in his quest to find some sort of spirituality which I adore. He focuses mainly on the Old Testament, (and finds deep connections to his cultural faith) but spends a good amount of time in the New.
I’ve never really read the Bible, to paraphrase comedian Jim Gaffigan, “I’m Catholic, one of the best things about my religion is that people read that stuff to us.” It’s something I’ve always meant to do and always get caught up singing Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat songs when I get halfway through Genesis. (It was Red and orange and pink and blue…) But I think that next year I’m going to put a real effort in to actually read the bible.
But first I have to finish Les Mis.