Friday, November 30, 2012

The whole idea of 'A Year of Living...."

A. J. Jacobs wrote 'The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible as Literally as Possible' (2007).

Ed Dobson wrote 'The Year of Living like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do' (2009).

And recently Rachel Held Evans wrote 'A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master"' (2012).

Looking at these books, I wonder, "You mean none of these 3 authors know that the Bible, Jesus, and 'Biblical womanhood' no where teaches the writting of one-year-livinghood (not to mention living such experimental lifestyle in the first place), commercially publish it and then sell it?"

Any publisher interested in my idea of writing a book titled 'The Year of Living Like Authors Who Lived Experimental Lifestyle So That They Can Publish And Sell In A Consumer Market That Takes The Bible As A Joke'?


eppursimuov3 said...

I'm actually reading Rachel Held Evan's book at the moment (ordered from Amazon) and I'm enjoying it! I think she's a really gifted writer, and have been following her blog for awhile. I don't think she meant to make a joke of the Bible (though it is loaded with humour). She loves the Bible!

Sze Zeng said...

Hi eppursimuov3,

No doubt she is a gifted writer. Her book is selling fast given all the reviews that are going around in the blogosphere.

In my opinion, she is part of the consumer market that takes the Bible as a Joke, rather than herself consciously mocking the Bible. To give a stark constrast, we can look into the Muslim community, do we see any Muslim author who professes to love the Quran and wrote a book with a year of parody based on their holy book?

My opinion is influenced by my Malaysian experience: We should be more aware of how our neighbours see their scripture, and so we do not lack in our own piety to mislead our neighbours of how we see our scripture.

Besides, isn't it curious that the 'conservatives' (those who adhere to Biblical womanhood, etc) do not take on projects like Evans? We don't find the 'conservatives' write books like a year of Biblical egalitarianism or a year of atheism, etc. And these 'conservatives' are no less in wrestling with the scripture like Evans. So, I wonder why?

My guess is that, despite the conservatives' struggle with the scripture, they still recognize others (including those who disagree with them) struggle as well. And they don't make fun of these struggles. Do we make fun of how our Muslim friends struggle with their Quran, say on the issue of ijtihad or apostasy? What does it tell us about ourselves if we make a parody of them? Likewise, what does it tell us when Evans made a parody of those who adhere to Biblical womanhood and who are wrestling with the scripture?

eppursimuov3 said...

I fully agree with you that we should be aware of our neighbours and be sensitive towards their struggles/interpretations of Scripture.

What Evans is trying to do, is in fact countering all those 'conservatives', who see those who do not subscribe to their own views as people who don't take the Bible seriously, or who only pick and choose what to follow. The point she is trying to show in this book is that we all pick and choose. And we all have our own reasons for doing so. And we all struggle with Scripture. Even the very conservative Christians in America do not take everything in the Bible literally - i.e. observe the levitical purity laws, practice arranged marriages etc (some do), and of course, there is a reason they don't. Instead of mocking these people, she actually went out to interview these people to find out why they do what they do. Her book includes interviews with polygamists, orthodox Jews, etc, and she treats them with respect, even though she disagrees with their interpretations.

"My guess is that, despite the conservatives' struggle with the scripture, they still recognize others (including those who disagree with them) struggle as well. And they don't make fun of these struggles."

I think my experience is the opposite - that the ones I've encountered - tend to dismiss others who don't subscribe to their conservative views as 'heretics', false prophets, unbiblical etc... and they seem to think that they've got the whole Bible figured out and don't need to struggle with it (again, not all conservatives, but only from my experience with some)

Sze Zeng said...

Sorry to hear about your bad experiences with those who disagree with you. I have my shared portion of such my case, I was called "liberal" and "heretic".

I don't discredit Evans for wanting to make the point that we all pick and choose. The question that I am wondering is whether does she need to live a caricatured life as a parody to make fun of those disagree with her?

Let's say I want to make the point that everyone pick and choose. I disagree with how some Muslims think that they don't pick and choose. So what would you suggest me to do: Should I live a caricature life based on the Quran to make my point to those Muslims?

If you say that I should, then that's probably you are right and I need to revisit my own idea of mutual respect when deal with differences.

If you say that I should not, then I'm curious what is the reason that you think I should not? (And I guess your reason may be applicable to Evans too.)

eppursimuov3 said...

well, most of my experiences involve creationists, probably because of my line of work. And yes, I can see from some of your blog comments some of the criticism you get! :)

That's a really tough question you're asking, to expose my biasness! I guess I wouldn't do the same to another religion. I think if a Muslim decides to criticise his or her own religion, whether by caricature or some other way, they can do so. but I wouldn't criticize another religion. Somehow, I don't know why, I'm always more sympathetic towards those of other faiths rather than my own!

in any case, I'd stress again that Evans is highly respectful of those whom she disagrees with in the book, and even praises these people for being able to live the kind of lifestyle they've chosen - and acknowledges that they are embodying biblical womanhood in their own way, while she has her own way. Ok.... maybe she is quite critical of a few people e.g. Mark Driscoll... :P

Sze Zeng said...

Thanks for assuring that Evans was conducting herself respectfully with those she disagrees with.

May be I am harsh on her, or may be I am trying to be consistent by seeing those whom I disagree with in the same way regardless whether they are in the same religion as me. Evans has her own way. Who am I to say hers is less good, while mine is better, right? In the end, I might be the one who needs to be more repentant!