Friday, October 26, 2007

Super book: "The Year of Living Biblically"

The Year of Living Biblically answers the question: What if a modern-day secular Jewish American followed every single rule in the Bible as literally as possible?

Not just the famous rules – the Ten Commandments and Love Thy Neighbor, but the hundreds of oft-ignored ones: Don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Grow your beard. Stone adulterers. Don't sit where a menstruating woman sat.

Esquire writer A.J. Jacobs’ experiment is informative, timely and funny. It is both irreverent and reverent. He's cynical, but not bitter or nasty -- even encouraging a Jehovah's Witness to keep talking.

Jacobs seeks to discover what’s good in the Bible and what is not relevant to 21st century life. When he can't follow the ancient rules perfectly, he improvises as faithfully as possible (including building a Sukkah booth in his Manhattan living room when not allowed to build one on the apartment building's roof).

Jacobs spent time with groups that take the Bible literally, in their own way, including creationists, snake handlers, Hasidim and Amish.

There are some great scenes, including a visit to the Creation Museum that maintains that the earth is just a few thousand years old and that teenage dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark, and a drunken dancing revelry with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. And there's a visit with the author's ex-uncle Gil in Israel, who has been a Hindu cult leader, an evangelical Christian and an Orthodox Jew.

It's a Good Book. Thou shalt not put it down. Highly recommended. Available at Amazon It has been optioned for a movie by Paramount Pictures and Plan B productions.

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