THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY - One man's humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible
How much do I want to read more? 7/10
Yes, it's funny, because he's trying is best to do a good job at what looks weird and impossible. He's honnest, and sharing his thoughts about it.
It found his style, and it's enjoyable to read.
Starts at page 255.
I’ve been inducted into a secret fraternity of bearded guys—we nod at each other as we pass on the street, giving a knowing quarter smile. Strangers have come up to me and petted my beard, like it’s a Labrador retriever puppy or a pregnant woman’s stomach.
My beard has been a temporary home to cappuccino foam and lentil soup.
two little girls have burst into tears, and one boy has hidden behind his mother.
To obey the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love my neighbor. To tithe my income.
to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers. To stone adulterers.
I am trying to obey the entire Bible, without picking and choosing.
As with most biblical journeys, my year has taken me on detours I could never have predicted. I didn’t expect to herd sheep in Israel. Or fondle a pigeon egg. Or find solace in prayer. Or hear Amish jokes from the Amish. I didn’t expect to confront just how absurdly flawed I am.
I’ve read bits and pieces of the Bible before, but never the whole thing, never straight through from Genesis to Revelation. So that’s what I do for four weeks, five hours a day. Luckily, I’m used to marathon reading from my Britannica project, so it felt pleasantly nostalgic.
As I read, I type into my PowerBook every rule, every guideline, every suggestion, every nugget of advice I find in the Bible. When I finish, I have a very long list. It runs seventy-two pages. More than seven hundred rules.
All aspects of my life will be affected—the way I talk, walk, eat, bathe, dress, and hug my wife.
I’m thinking of: No lying. No coveting. No stealing. Love your neighbor. Honor your parents. Dozens of them. I’ll be the Gandhi of the Upper West Side.
But plenty of other rules don’t seem like they’ll make me more righteous at all. Just more strange, more obsessive, more likely to alienate friends and family: Bathe after sex. Don’t eat fruit from a tree planted less than five years ago. Pay the wages of a worker every day.
Destroy idols. Kill magicians. Sacrifice oxen.
the scholar Origen is said to have interpreted literally Matthew 19:12—“There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”—and castrated himself.
I’ve decided I can’t do that. That’d be misleading, unnecessarily flip, and would result in missing body parts. No, instead my plan is this: I will try to find the original intent of the biblical rule or teaching and follow that to the letter.
Month One: September
Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.
—- ECCLESIASTES 12:13
The Bible says, those with good sense are “slow to anger” (Proverbs 19:11).
I remind myself: Remember what happened when the Israelites were waiting for Moses while he was up on the mountaintop for forty days? They got impatient, lost faith, and were struck with a plague.
If I pray every day, then maybe I’ll start to believe in the Being to whom I’m praying.
For starters, what do I do with my body? The Bible describes a multitude of positions: People kneel, sit, bow their heads, lift their eyes skyward, put their heads between their knees, raise up their hands, beat their breasts. There’s no single method.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
It’s a beautiful passage, but I feel odd uttering it. I’ve rarely said the word Lord, unless it’s followed by of the Rings. I don’t often say God without preceding it with Oh my.