The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

I believe everyone of us is a work in progress.  Which is why I tend to find ways to improve myself.  I know possibilities are endless and time is indeed essential.  One of things I know I should start doing is to read a lot of books.  So when the opportunity came that I can join a book club (even via Twitter), I immediately showed my interest.

The group calls themselves #Gangsters.  I don’t know the history why they called the group that name but I’m okay with anything.  I’m just glad that they accepted me to be part of the group.  The first book that we all decided to read together is A.J. Jacobs‘ book, The Year of Living Biblically – One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.  It’s timely especially for me as I have started my spiritual journey this year.  I was baptized last Chinese New Year and also, I have started my Project 365 which coincidentally is to read the Bible completely.  So having a perspective from A.J. Jacobs was really good.

A.J. went as far as following all the commandments and rules in the Bible literally.  He bought almost every Bible translation in the market, talking to different religious leaders/people and going to religious places to experience the word of God.

Reading the book was truly enlightening.  I can say that it was also very entertaining!  The author had so much wit and humor that there weren’t any dull moment as I browse through the author’s daily story.

Here are some more things I find fascinating in A.J. Jacobs’ book: The Year of Living Biblically:

  • One of the A.J. Jacobs’ reasons in going through the Bible quest was to instill some religion to his son, Jasper.  I felt it was very loving of him and we wish that all fathers are like that.  Like all agnostics, A.J. knew that there is a God, a higher being, a God that we look up to and always strive to seek.  It’s admirable that he wanted to go through this journey in full so that he can share what he learned to his son.
  • I think, just like the author, I also violate the second commandment a lot.  As what is said, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image”, can be interpreted as not taking photographs, drawn images, paintings and sculpture.  My blog is full of photographs.  I truly believe that if I don’t put photos in this blog, it’ll become boring and readers won’t come back to check more posts.  I haven’t finished reading the Bible but I want to understand this myself.  For now, I have to ask for forgiveness from the Lord as I can’t seem to give this up for Him 🙁
  • I use a life study version for my Bible study.  I find it extremely hard to understand the Bible with just its original verses.  I find it odd why the Bible won’t use simple words so we can understand quickly.  One of the author’s spiritual board members answered this same question with, “Life is a jigsaw puzzle.  The joy and challenge of life — and the Bible — is figuring things out.  If a jigsaw puzzle came numbered, you’d return it to the store.  Same with life.”.
  • I find A.J. attempt in stoning adulterers hilarious!  He really took it literally.  He took some pebbles and threw it at someone who admitted he’s an adulterer, hahaha!  He only tried it once though.  I could feel his struggle in obeying that rule.  Maybe I should try to do this too :))
  • A.J. practiced praying 30 minutes a day in 10-minute intervals.  It actually helped him become a better person because he learned to be compassionate and less selfish especially when he was praying for others.  I believe I should do the same.  I also learned from the book this acronym ACTS (4 types of prayers) which means Adoration (praising God), Confession (telling God your sins), Thanksgiving (being thankful to God for what you have) and Supplication (asking God to help you).  I shall be using that in my own prayers.  Of course, I never forget what my family in Christ always tell me — to always call on the Lord, like saying, “O Lord Jesus”, all the time!
  • Apparently, the Bible has food laws!  Prohibited food items are pork, bacon or any other pig meat, shellfish (e.g., shrimps, clams, lobsters), blood, rabbits, some birds (i.e., eagles, vultures, falcons) and insects (except for locusts, crickets & grasshopper).  Surprisingly, there are fruits that aren’t allowed too!  Fruits like peaches and pears aren’t allowed as we can only eat fruits from a tree that is at least 5 years old.  According to A.J., most Christians believe that Jesus’ sacrifice freed Christians from the food laws.  I was totally relieve to know that as I SUPER love bacon and shrimps!
  • A lot of people take Bible as a self-help book which I’m guilty of too.  It’s nice that I get reminded that religion is more than that, it’s about serving the Lord 🙂
  • This verse from the new testament: “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of doings“.  The author actually listed down wrong doings of his wife but after reading the verse, he immediately deleted it.  For everyone out there, if we doubt love whether it’s for family, friends or partners, it’s best that we always refer to the verse.
  • I easily get angry when on the road that I tend to curse while driving.  Outside of road rage, I don’t curse but when I’m extremely angry, I curse too.  I know it’s wrong and we should learn to react better when situations calls for it.  Knowing that the Bible wants us not to say bad words or cursing, made me wanna stop cursing altogether.  I hope I can do it.  There are two genres of Biblically naughty words and they are: blasphemy [not to use God’s name in vain (use God’s name only when praying/talking about the Bible] and profanity (e.g., s-word, f-word).

I had a lot of aha moments while I read through The Year of Living Biblically.  I also tend to think if I should do some of the things that A.J. Jacobs did.  Things like not wearing mixed-fiber clothing (wool-linen combination), using white garments often and not working on a sunday.  There are some things that I find personally outrageous and I’m itching to find out myself as I read the Bible.  I consider myself a Christian already but I know I’m still a young one when it comes to my faith.  So this book gave me tons of insights and learnings.

I highly recommend you read this book by A.J. Jacobs.  I appreciate the author’s writing a lot that I suggested to the #GangsterBookClub that we also read his other book, The Know-It-All, next.

The Year of Living Biblically
A.J. Jacobs

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One observation on “The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
  1. Lester Ople

    i see no correlation between “graven imagery” and photography. if the intent is merely to share the beauty of His creations with others, and not to usurp Him, then it shouldn’t be a big deal. 

    remember that Baroque era art was mostly religious, and was even commissioned by the Popes.

    cheers roch. 🙂 


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