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The Year of Living Biblically

A.J. Jacobs

Needs to discipline his son Jasper. All the Biblical sources come down quite strongly in favour of physical punishment, preferably with a rod. (Proverbs: "Thou shalt beat him with a rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell") So he buys something called a Nerf Bat, a bit less menacing than some of the Christian 'rods' available. When he uses it, Jasper responds by laughing hysterically, grabs his own wiffle bat, and whacks his father back.

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Not allowed to use word "Thursday" because that comes from the Norse god, so has to refer to the '4th day of the workweek'

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Has trouble paying their nanny, because the Bible says "the wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until morning." But she needs to be paid weekly by cheque so she can prove tax paid. So he gives her cash each night then asks her to bring it all back at the end of the week so he can give her a cheque. ("Des has already started trying to slip out at night without saying goodnight to me.")

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Christian attitude that jesus sacrificed himself so therefore Christians can ignore all ritual rules in OT (such as blowing a horn at start of each month) and just follow the moral rules, which bring their own problems - is the Sabbath a ritual or a moral rule? How about the injunction against tattoos?

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Jews have different reason - animal sacrifice only valid in Temple in Jerusalem and since the Romans bowled it in 70AD all sacrificial rules no longer apply. Plus anyone outside Israel off the hook for another 45 (mainly dietary) rules which apply only in Israel!

Wife gets pissed with him not touching her in week when she's menstruating, and refusing to sit in a chair she has sat on because also unclean. So he gets home one day, then just as he's about to sit down, she goes "I sat there" , so he moves to another chair "I sat there too" "and there" - she'd sat in every chair in their apartment in preparation for him coming home. "Finally I settled for Jasper's 6 inch high wooden bench, which she has overlooked"

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Cites a group of 'Biblical astronomers' who believe Earth centre of Universe around which everything revolves, based on line in Proverbs which says the Earth "shall never be moved"

Perhaps strangest rule is Deuteronomy - if you are in a fight with a man and his wife grabs your private parts, you must cut off her hand.

More books talking about Laws

OT is quite strongly in favour of polygamy. Author asked head of Christian Polygamy Movement how you went about convincing your current wife that it was a good idea to take a second one. Advised that you don't bring up the subject unless you actually have a prospective second wife, because you'll end up causing a rift over nothing. What you do is find a second wife, have a ceremony and consummate the marriage. Then you go back and tell the first wife. That way there's a better chance first marriage will survive.

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Encounters some Orthodox Jews who pre-tear their lavatory paper so they can't be accused of doing work on the Sabbath.

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Leviticus has a ban on wearing garments made of different fibres. Jacob manages to find someone who's job it is to resolve these difficulties (with a magnifying glass). Expert unable to give ANY reason for the rule, but said that observing laws that had no rational explanation was a sign of great faith.

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