Thursday, November 12, 2009

Year of Living Biblically Months 3 & 4

1. Jacobs has a hard time avoiding "The Evil Tongue" because the rules in the bible about speech include any negative remark about someone, not just pure gossip. In today's society, people are used to making automatic judgements about people the moment they meet them. This is one of the reasons why it is so hard to avoid using "The Evil Tongue," because although he is still allowed to make judgements in his head, he can't say anything about them, which he has been doing his entire life.

2. I think Jacobs meant that to embrace religion, you have to give up some of your freedom and devote your life to following that religion. Most people like to be in complete control of their lives, but following a religion makes it almost impossible to have complete control because you have to rely on that religion so much. It's strange that he is so afraid of this, because that is exactly what he is doing. He is trying to embrace religion, and to do so he has let the Bible completely control his life and has given up a lot of his freedom in the process.

3. Under his context and explanation, he is right. Images are used in the media so much that people only see those, instead of any text that goes with them. He is also right about the Hollywood and Washington examples, the majority of the population relies on personality, which we can only see through pictures and video to decide who they like. If photos and videos were not used, it would only matter if a presidential candidate was capable of doing the job.

4. When Jacobs tries to convince himself that the earth was formed a handful of generations ago, he discovers that this belief actually makes him feel more connected to the rest of humanity because Creationism states that everyone comes from Adam and Eve. He also discovered that he feels more important in the world, instead of being a small part of the earth’s existence, he actually plays an important role. From these feelings he starts to understand why people believe in Creationism and why it would be appealing to some people. Although he finds a lot of good things through this experiment, he also realizes that the Bible teaches humility, but there is also a certain amount of arrogance on behalf of humans. God saved the creation of humans until after he had made everything else, which means they are more important.

5. I think Jacobs is ok with the explanation for why there are so many strange rules in the Bible because it makes sense and that is one of the purposes of the Bible, to help people figure out the “puzzle” of life. It makes sense as a metaphor, that life is supposed to be a challenge, and if people already understood everything when they were born, then life would be extremely boring. I think it makes sense to him because this entire process has been a challenge and I think he is starting to understand the complexities of the Bible, so it is a good explanation for why the Bible does not make sense sometimes.

6. When Jacobs comes to the conclusion “Be good for goodness’ sake” he figures out that either way, no matter how a person acts or how well they follow the Bible, bad things will always happen to people. He says “We can never hope to plumb the mystery of God’s mind.” so we can’t figure out what God is thinking or why these things happen, so we should try to appreciate what God has given us instead of wondering why he causes all these bad things to happen. We can never know the outcome of our lives, and people should not act morally because they want a specific outcome, because the future is never certain, so people should act morally because it is right, instead of a path that leads to a goal.

7. A Chasid Shote is someone who gets too caught up in religious rules and regulations that they forget about the main points of their religion. Sometimes people are led to believe that if they do not do everything the Bible tells them, they will not get into heaven, but if they miss the main themes of the Bible, they will not get into heaven either. In some religions, people focus too much on the details instead of the really important aspects of what each religion teaches.

Month Four:

  1. How does Jacobs’ commitment to his project change as his son gets older, and he meets more non-secular parents?

Throughout the book, since he began his project, Jacobs always says that he is not sure what to teach his son about religion, because he does not want to force him into anything, but he also wants him to be a good person. When he remembers the woman he met at Sara’s wedding, who is his aunt Kate’s daughter, he thinks that she may have been right to become secular when she had children because her children turned out to be good responsible members of society. He uses the example of Bart Simpson and Flander’s kids who are extremely religious and says he would prefer to raise his kids the way that Flanders did. He even started making Jasper follow some of the biblical rules that he follows, like not stealing straws from Starbucks. One of the reasons he thinks more about how to raise his son is because he keeps meeting very religious people who he really likes, instead of the stereotype that all religious people are crazy fundamentalists, so he wants his child to grown up to be a responsible member of society, especially when kids see so many things in the media that would be deemed immoral by the Bible.

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