Monday, October 15, 2007

The Year Of Living Biblically -- A Total Joy and Hoot!

I’m enjoying the stuffing out of The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. It’s very funny and has so many good tidbits of Biblical insight and history throughout that it’s substantive as well as humorous – something I appreciate, since I’m not necessarily into humor for the sake of humor.

I adore Dave Barry and tend to write the way he does when I write humor. Jacobs’ humor is tamer than Barry’s, but no less entrancing and at-times juvenile (which is just fine in short spurts). There’s a kid in all of us and when that part of us gets delighted, there’s almost nothing more fun!

The first three quarters of the book is mostly concerned with aspects of Jewish faith, except for brief forays into visits with lesser-known and lesser-followed sects of Christianity (a creation museum, an Amish farm and family, a visit with a Jehovah’s Witness member who Jacobs’ apparently out-visited: after three and a half hours, the fellow excused himself and went home at 11:30 that evening).

What Jacobs finds wherever he goes are sensitive, good-natured, sold-out souls living for the Lord in whatever flavor their Lord comes in. He learns to value the hearts and sensibilities of others and makes a lot of friends along the way (as we do, following along on his adventure).

I love humor when it’s good-natured and self-effacing – and Jacob’s is all of that. There’s nothing cruel or insensitive about anything he says when he does make an observation or a joke. I think he’s a sweet guy at heart.

When he dances with Hasidic Jews ("who danced like David danced") he gets caught up in the "joy of the Lord" in a way that has never occurred to him before. It’s fleeting and at first embarrassing and perhaps a wee bit frightening, but he "goes with the flow" and finds himself enjoying the freedom of behaving wildly ecstatic as he praises with his body. It’s just terrific!

I worship at a non-denomination church with numerous Pentecostals, and have seen some wild gyrations myself. They always bring joy to me and a smile to my face. My shyness keeps me from joining those who worship this way, but my spirit absolutely loves and leaps at the wild abandon that Pentecostals display when praising the Lord.
There are also Lutherans at CFAN – and every other denomination. You can tell by looking around which worshippers came from which denominations, almost. There are those who stand stock still, thinking the noisier, gladder portions of the congregation have lost their ever-lovin’ minds… and those who are "catching the spirit" and raising their hands waist-high, shoulder high or as high as they can reach; there are the members of Jewish Dance, who dance to the Lord; there are the prone or the kneeling, who contact the spirit of God in those ways. The deaf church signs the songs and sermons, leaving the sighted often in tears as we watch the translator using hand signals that so-well capture the essence of a word ("spirit," "God" and "Hallelujah" in sign language are lump-in-the-throat hand movements).

But back to A.J. I think his book is important because people will read it for the humor and may decide to look into the Book he’s living by (or trying to, with varying degrees of success at every turn) to find out why so many people have endeavored to live by it. Any attempt to do so definitely transforms one’s thoughts, views and behaviors -- not a bad outcome at all…

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