Marvel

Agnostic author A.J. Jacobs decided to try and obey all of the rules in the Bible– even the weird, obscure ones– and document what happened. This excerpt from The Year of Living Biblically is from about four months in to the experiment:

I spend a lot of time marveling… I’ll marvel at the way rain serpentines down a car window. Or I’ll marvel at the way my reflection is distorted in a bowl. I feel like I just took my first bong hit. I feel like Wes Bentley rhapsodizing about that dancing plastic bag in American Beauty.

I’ve noticed that I sometimes walk around with a lighter step, almost an ice-skating-like glide, because the ground feels hallowed. All of the ground, even the ground outside the pizzeria near my apartment building.

All well and good, right? The only thing is, this is not the God of the Israelites. This is not the God of the Hebrew Scriptures. That God is an interactive God. He rewards people and punishes them. He argues with them, negotiates with them, forgives them, occasionally smites them. The God of the Hebrew Scriptures has human emotions– love and anger.

My God doesn’t. My God is impersonal. My God is the God of Spinoza. Or the God of Paul Tillich, the Protestant theologian who believed that God was “the ground of being.” Or the God of the Jedi knights. It’s a powerful but vague all-pervasive force; some slightly more sophisticated version of pantheism. I don’t even know if my God can be said to have a grand plan, much less mood swings. Can I keep edging toward the true biblical God? I’m not sure.

It’s a surprisingly respectful book. He talks with everyone– Hasidic Jews, Jehova’s Witnesses, atheists, Amish, creationists– and is always curious, never mocking.

I’d recommend this book to anyone of any faith.

(Or at least watch his TED talk, HERE.)

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