I just finished A. J. Jacobs’s The Year of Living Biblically, in which the author asks, “What if someone really did try to take the Bible’s guidelines on living as literally as possible for one year?”

If you know me, you know that I grew up in a very conservative religion. While we didn’t follow the dietary and fabric guidelines literally, we did believe in a traditionalist/Restoration movement interpretation. Salvation was real and necessary, and there was only one path to it. I know from my Bible. (Common phrase amongst my people: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”) This approach was a little different. Jacobs tried the theological things (prayer, study, gathering with like-minded individuals), but most of the book centers on following the behavior codes with regard to food, clothing, and interaction. Over the course of the book, he develops an appreciation for certain aspects of a religious life, such as taking time out to be thankful, taking one day to rest, but in the end he opts to return to his secular life, albeit with a greater understanding.

It’s a good read, though if you’re not ready for discussions of priestly minutiae it might throw you off. I did enjoy that the author became less of an egoist over the course of the book; all of us, most of all me, could benefit from such a transformation.

Up next, when I finish it: Courtesy of Mike Berry, S. A. Paolantonio’s Frank Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America.

Whatcha reading?


A friend (Dr. Mike Berry, formerly of Texas Tech) has started a new blog entitled Listening to 20th- (and 21st-) Century Music. It’s over on the blogroll.

We’ve had some discussions over the past few months about comparing analytical approaches, and he’s doing something interesting. He’s adapted a Quaker Bible study approach to the study and analysis of post-tonal music. It’s a fascinating idea, one to which I am sympathetic; my own research adapts an ecological model of postmodernism to analysis of quotation-laden music, so I can appreciate when a theorist steps outside the norms of structuralism/function-based analyses and develops a new hermeneutic.

Go over there and take a look.