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3 Stars Out Of 5
May 7, 2010
The title alone and the fact that A.J. Jacobs wrote the introduction to this book led me to believe that for a whole year, Mr Dobson would be trying to live like Jesus. And it wasn't that the book was bad or poorly written, I just felt the title of the book was perhaps... suggested to Mr. Dobson and at first he wanted to call it something else... maybe The Year of Living Jewish? Because that is what the book is more about. In the book Ed Dobson describes all of the activities he endures to live like Jesus. -prays the rosary -prays the orthodox prayer rope -observes Jewish holidays -reads through the gospels -wears a prayer shawl -and grows a beard And like I said, I enjoyed his stories and his journey, but I didn't see how the criterion he selected helped him live more like Jesus (who was one specific named Jewish man) as opposed to any other Middle Eastern Rabbi. How did observing Jewish holidays, praying the Psalms and growing a beard help him live like Jesus? When I think of all the things that made Jesus stand out and be different than every other great teacher before him, it's not the mundane activity of his day-to-day life that qualifies him. With a title like The Year of Living Like Jesus I expected a book where someone would; try to love their enemies, devote time to driving out wrong teaching and hypocrisy in the church, teach on the streets and make the good news available to the marginalized, someone who fed the poor, someone who spent time with fishermen, and most importantly... someone who had 12 disciples. How do you miss that one? Jesus had a posse. He took his three year ministry and he poured into 12 key people who would take his teaching even further that he did. Why didn't Mr. Dobson see the importance of a simple thing like discipleship?
Dobson sets out to do some fasting, dress modestly, keep the Sabbath, and much more, while aiming to read through the Gospels each week in an effort to more fully understand Jesus life here on Earth. He seeks to live like Jesus in a modern setting instead of wearing a long robe and sandals, washing his feet when he arrives at work, he wears clothing similar to that of an Orthodox Jew. He seems to do little research into actual first century Judaism and refers to modern texts on Judaism, and the advice of a local Rabbi, Orthodox priest, and Roman catholic priest for advice on a range of spiritual issues. Both the included aspects of his written journey and the closing notes and bibliography prove this out. Being admittedly inspired by The Year of Living Biblically, I was expecting a more literal adherence to first century practices in this regard.Oddly while he neglects some of the easier topics he could have addressed during his Jesus Year, Dobson veers off into a strange journey of using ritual, repetitive prayers. Picking up the rosary, Orthodox prayer rope, and Episcopalian prayer beads, this new technique of praying stays with Dobson throughout most of his book. For the life of me, I couldnt figure out what any of this had to do with living like Jesus apart from a tenuous connection to praying the scriptures. His preoccupation with the rosary was even somewhat disturbing to me, as Jesus never indicated that any believer should pray to anyone other than God.After reading The Year of Living Like Jesus I feel like I know Ed Dobson in some small way. His transparent confessions and struggles with sin display a great deal of humility on his part to be able to share these tender parts of his life openly. As a slice of life spiritual memoir, its a great read. However, if youre looking for a good deep digging into first century Judaism, or a spiritual journey that is limited to scripture alone (sola scriptura), this likely isnt the book for you.
Applause for a fresh and brave journal of faith. If you want pat answers, this isn't your book. But if you churn questions - particularly about how Jesus might live in our culture or how we might live in his, I strongly suggest this book. I read it with relief and validation as one who has appreciated the beauty and depth of Christian worship styles and traditions. With humility and even humor, the author invites you into his exploration beyond stereotypes and into communion. Great book for discussion!