Lord Knows 

Author concludes it's impossible to follow the Bible literally.

A.J. Jacobs had to stone strangers for breaking the Sabbath. He felt uneasy about it, so he gathered a handful of tiny pebbles in Central Park and, rather than throw them, dropped them casually onto the shoes of locals who he knew worked on both Saturdays and Sundays. When he tried to stone a self-described adulterer whom he met in the park, the guy threatened to punch him out. Esquire editor Jacobs — a longtime agnostic who wrote essays about the symbolism of bong hits as a Brown University undergrad — followed the Bible literally for twelve months as a social experiment. He wore the clothes, followed the commandments, talked the scriptural talk, and walked the robed, sandaled, walking-sticked walk. "I wanted to get into the minds of the ancients," Jacobs explains now. He immersed himself in Old Testament minutiae: Mixed-fiber clothing is verboten; one must blow a horn on the first day of every month. He ate "biblical foods," including crickets: "They're crunchy," reports Jacobs, whom Cody's has invited to discuss his project at — where better? — the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (2345 Channing Way, Berkeley) on October 24 at 7:30 p.m. Hardest of all to follow, he muses, were "the rules that banned all the sins we all commit every day. No gossiping. No lying. No coveting. Imagine trying not to covet in New York." He started the year close-cropped and clean-shaven, but soon sported an unruly thicket of a beard that made him "resemble Moses. Or Abe Lincoln. Or Ted Kaczynski," he writes in The Year of Living Biblically. Passersby called him all three, plus Gandalf. During that year, Jacobs mingled with deeply religious types, from snake-handlers to gay evangelicals to Samaritans in Israel. Ultimately, "I learned that it's impossible to follow the Bible literally. And it's not just impossible, but it's not a good idea. Certain fundamentalists who say they're following the entire Bible literally are deluded." Then again, "I learned that even the rules that seem crazy at first can have a deeper meaning." Suggested donation: $10 general/$5 students. FCCB.org


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