Monday, November 24, 2008

Reading

I have been reading some more since we got back from our trip. I started with The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. The author was raised as a completely secular Jew. That is amazing even in this day and age to have no religious training at all. He says that he is open to religious ideas, but I can tell by the tone of the book that he finds belief/religion embarrassing.

I have found this book very interesting. The author calls himself a reverent agnostic. How can an agnostic be reverent? "The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial." What is he exactly being reverent of, the possibility that there may be a God if he decided to get up the nerve to make a decision? It sounds like he wants some fire insurance. Another way to look at it is through Pascal's wager. Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, put forth that one should live one's life as though God exists since it leaves one with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Though he criticizes Pascal, I think that is just what he wants, perhaps without the confining belief part. He wants to be able to have all the wonderful uplifting experiences that a person in relationship with God gets without having to limit himself to one idea or way of acting. In fact, I think he's just deeply humanist. Just be good for goodness sake. But he somehow doesn't get that it is God that allows for that goodness. I realize I am judging him according to a rule book he doesn't follow, but he opened the door with his question whether one can be holy just by following the Bible. Everybody breaks the rules is what he decides, which is completely true those are called sins. However, he decides that everybody who believes in God is just picking and choosing the parts of the Bible that they want to follow. He admits that he cannot follow all the rules, but explains it away that he has just started to learn about religion. I think what he is missing, most of all, about anybody who follows God is that we don't have all the answers, that it is very difficult. I find that as I get older I have more confusion about how I am to love others yet still hold people accountable. I realize that it is not all cut and dry. I think that is the main place the author and I diverge, he doesn't think anybody should be held accountable for their sins because we all sin.

In the end what this book has helped me understand is those coming from a completely humanist perspective. At one point I had hope that he would start to believe in something, but at the end he decided to use the Bible as a self-help book. I think he ended his year where he started it, completely embarrassed of religion/belief in God.

cross posted at The Book Loft

7 comments:

Montay said...

intersesting read

Megan said...

It sounds like he misses the point completely. Interesting review. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

Nan said...

Great thoughts Ruth. Thanks for sharing them. Shawn read this book this last year also and shared some of it with me. I should read it.

I just finished Crime and Punishment and am now starting Grapes of Wrath.

We should start a book discussion blog... Hmmm.... What say you? I know at least a few people who would likely want to participate.

Ruth said...

Thanks for commenting everybody. I know that I have a hard time commenting on blogs and trying to be better about it.

I would love to do a book discussion blog. I have mostly been reading stuff that is pretty easy. But I definitely am interested in broadening my knowledge base.

What was Shawn's opinion of the book? I actually enjoyed this book because it was from such an opposite point of view from mine.

Nan said...

Okay, check out what I just set up... do you want to be the first to try it out? Copy and paste this post into the form and see if it gets to me and I'll put it up as the first entry. :^D

Nan said...

Oops. link.

http://the-book-loft.blogspot.com/

San said...

Hi there! I haven't read that book, but it does seem pretty sad the author literally wasted his year but ending it in the same state he begun in!

But together with the author sadly also lies too many other people today, who want "to be able to have all the wonderful uplifting experiences that a person in relationship with God gets without having to limit himself to one idea or way of acting" as well...