Friday, July 11, 2008

Oprah/The Bible. Which to Follow?

If you're looking to latch onto someone God-like in these days lacking in persons to admire, I guess you can't be too far off if you follow the Tao of Oprah. Seems, a certain "Lo" decided to hitch her fame and her (she hopes) fortune to Oprah's shirt tails. "Lo", a 35-year-old actress, writer, and yoga teacher, is trying to do everything Oprah recommends for a whole year.


Sound Familiar? It should. Last year, A.J Jacobs hit the book-pedaling circuit to foist off his tome, The Year of Living Biblically. Now Mr. Jacobs, aside from being quite the funny guy, is also a fairly well-respected writer. His earlier book, The Know it All, came out in 2005 to quite good reviews. I've got The Year of Living Biblically on the To Read list. I'll admit that I've never read the Bible, not even one Book of... (insert any name here). My limited knowledge of the Bible is completely strained from other folks' interpretation of the Good Book. I feel a bit ashamed as I've assumed most of the Earth's goodnesses and ills have to do with the interpretation or mis-interpretation of the Good Book. So, I feel I should be directly familiar withe the source of all of our human doings, but......

To date, my most favorite interpretation of the Old Testament is that rendered by the paternal character, ex-boxer Reuben Shapiro , in Mordecai Richler's semi-autobiographical "Joshua, Then and Now". In the film version, the father is portrayed by the most excellent Alan Arkin, whose scene-stealing in the film should have landed him doing life in cinematic Sing Sing. I FF to his bits on the dvd every once in a while just for some insight and humour on the Book, a better combo of understanding I cannot comprehend.

1) Two thumbs and two big toes up for both the book and movie version of Joshua, Then and Now.

2) On anticipatory yelp for A.J Jacobs' "The Year of Living Biblically"

3) Curiosity for "Lo"'s Lesser Goddess Oprah following.

On a tangental point, check out (what most of you folks have probably heard already) this hilarious bit from a 2004 This American Life show entitled God & Hockey. It's about the NY Rangers, Saturday, and an Orthodox Jew/Rangers fan.

N.B.: The link to Lo comes courtesy of The BookSlut.


I've read The Year of Living Biblically. Entertaining and informative although I had a hard time liking Jacobs for some reason.
Biblically speaking, the dumper can't be in the house! Right there, nearly everyone in the West is in violation!

Mixing meat and dairy is not permitted in the Bible, no pizza for you!

Shrimp are an abomination, I am in BIG fat trouble, worse trouble than if I were to take a job in a bordello!

Next to one in Western Europe, or North America is dressing modestly enough by Biblical standards. Hutterites, Amish, Ana-Baptists,Old Order Baptists, Mennonites, some Quakers, most Orthodox Jews and very conservative Catholics (raises hand here) and very conservative Orthodox people, (nods at a few people on the other side of Great Divide) excepted,

The economy of damn near the Entire Civilized World runs on interest, very UN BIBLICAL folks! Just saying....

BAD stewardship of the planet, again very UN Biblical!
My older daughter spent a good deal of yesterday working out the details of her next theme-party, to be held at the end of the summer: a Greek Mythology Party. As she put together her own personality quiz ("Which Greek Goddess Are YOU?") I realized she had a greater familiarity with Greek mythology than she did with any of the Bible stories I grew up with. This was cause for some reflection, but I think the chief reason for this lapse (if you will) on my part is laziness. It takes work to explain to a child why the Bible begins with "Kill the women and children, too" and concludes with "Turn the other cheek." And that's just the first, most obvious contradiction that springs to mind.

And as I've said elsewhere, if a kid gets exposed to some of this stuff at too impressionable an age, it rewires the circuits in unanticipated and unwelcome ways.

Nevertheless, one of the first assignments I received when I took the "honors" route through English Lit was to read the Good Book from cover to cover. And, at that still-impressionable age, that's a worthy exercise. You fast-forward through the "begats" and speed through the weirdo stuff that Jacobs applied himself to, and you basically get to all those dangerous stories that have kicked all manner of human behavior into motion, while supplying the narrative bedrock for most of Western Literature.

But, like one of my prof friends frequently says, it's good to have a sherpa or two for the journey.
Ms. Jag,
So, recommended? I heard an interview with Mr. Jacobs, on Fresh Air, I think. He comes off sly, shy, and as highly capable of pushing the personal space issue...all simultaneously. I had a friend in parochial grammar school that reminded me of Mr. Jacobs. One day, while we were out in the school lot being sadistically teased by a group of older kids (you know, your typical Catholic learning experience), a pigwon flew by and shat on his head. Rather than wiping it off or issuing the requisite "Ehwwww", he stoically wore the greyish plop through the entire day. While not technically wearing one's shit, he certainly owned it that day. The older kids decided he was dangerously off-kilter (which says a lot coming from the Catholic school crowd) and left him alone form then on. Me? I was waiting for a guardian pigeon to shit on my head.

YG, A lot! of exclamation points to make your... points. I detect that the Bible rubs the wrong way. I emphatize. In my readings of the Good Book, I never seem to find any chapter that has even a mote of humor and if we were created in versions of God's image, I'd expect at least a molecule or two of a laugh.

Always, always great to read your comments as they elucidate and educate and always in a humorous and gentle way. Rather than addressing me as HEATHEN, you have generously pointed out books as stepping stones to a better understanding. Much appreciated! (Sorry about the exclamation point!)
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