AlterNet: Thou Shalt Find It Impossible to Live Like the Bible Tells You to
Thou Shalt Find It Impossible to Live Like the Bible Tells You to
By Anneli Rufus, AlterNet. Posted November 17, 2007.
Author A.J. Jacobs spent a year trying to follow the 600+ laws he found proscribed in the Bible, and concluded he's doomed to live in sin.
He didn't want to stone adulterers. But that was part of the deal. That's what A.J. Jacobs was being paid for.
"The Hebrew scriptures prescribe a tremendous amount of capital punishment," Jacobs writes in The Year of Living Biblically (Simon & Schuster, 2007), his account of an experiment in which the lifelong agnostic spent 12 months obeying the Old Testament as literally as possible -- while living in an Upper West Side apartment and working for Esquire.
"Think Saudi Arabia, multiply by Texas, then triple that. It wasn't just for murder. You could also be executed for adultery, blasphemy, breaking the Sabbath, perjury, incest, bestiality, and witchcraft, among others. A rebellious son could be sentenced to death. As could a son who is a persistent drunkard and glutton.
"The most commonly mentioned punishment method in the Hebrew Bible is stoning. So I figure, at the very least, I should try to stone. But how?"
At the time, Jacobs was in month two of his venture, still throbbing with a neophyte's enthusiasm: "I want to smash idols," he surprised himself by musing. Gathering a pocketful of tiny white pebbles in Central Park, he strolled until he met an irascible old man who mocked Jacobs' walking stick. When this man -- having been asked -- declared himself an adulterer, Jacobs lobbed a pebble at his chest. It bounced off.
He had grown up in a resolutely secular Jewish home -- sans bar mitzvah, sans Sabbath candles; he was even named after his still-living father, such an Ashkenazic rarity that an El Al security officer, eyeing the "Jr." on his passport six months into the experiment, doubted that Jacobs was even Jewish at all. "I'm Jewish," he writes, "in the same way that Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant."
All through school, even at a university "where you were more likely to study the semiotics of Wicca rituals than the Judeo-Christian tradition" and where the Bible was viewed "as a fusty, ancient book with the same truth quotient as The Faerie Queene," he'd been taught that the Bible inspired "many of humankind's greatest achievements: the civil rights movement, charitable giving, the abolition of slavery." And also, of course, that "it's been used to justify our worst: war, genocide and the subjugation of others." .......(more)
1. here is something that i want to share,,>Link>> i have always thought that Abraham was
schizophrenic.. when 'Voices' told him to kill his only son on the alter of gOD.. Abraham's father was an 'Idol maker,when abraham left Sumeria he stoled an idol from him for the trip, an idol of prosperity.. on the trip he is described as having a seizure an hearing voices.
the slave girl he knocks up is cast into the desert and survives.. to later send the schizophrenic gene down the line the 8th century where another religion is propagated thru insanity
Not that laughing at the Bible or its believers is all that extraordinary. It's just that what separates Jacobs from, say, Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris is his earnest openmindedness, his willingness to go the distance. He dreaded that hands-off-the-wife bit. With a baby to raise, donating a tenth of his income to charity -- tithing -- seemed oppressive at first. But for the sake of that baby, he was willing to give it a go. His quest required becoming "the ultimate fundamentalist" -- by any means necessary -- in order to "discover what's great and timeless in the Bible and what is outdated."
And he discovered both. Threaded through all the cricket-munching and smiting he found behavioral blueprints whose deep effects surprised him. As agnostic as ever -- shunning "a God who rolls up His sleeves and fiddles with our lives like a novelist does his characters" -- he nonetheless felt better for treating his parents better, better for giving more and for lying less and gossiping less.
"I'm now a reverent agnostic," he asserts at last. "Which isn't an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there's a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred. ... There is something transcendent, beyond the everyday. It's possible that humans created this sacredness ourselves, but that doesn't take away from its power or importance."
He's not sure whom he's praying to, if anyone or anything at all. He's shaved his beard, and he eats bananas. But still: "I'll keep on saying prayers of thanksgiving."
"A reverent agnostic." I love it! I think that's what I am, too.
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