October 16, 2007

Biblically speaking

Matt Labash is one of the funniest journalists around. And unlike most of his Weekly Standard colleagues, he's funny on purpose. He's also well-steeped in the ways of American Christian culture. When I was shopping Rapture Ready!, I lived in fear of finding out that he'd just sold his own book on the topic. So he's the ideal person to engage in a dialogue with A.J. Jacobs about A.J.'s new book, The Year of Living Biblically (which is, of course, the prize in this week's anti-caption contest).

Here's how Labash gets the ball rolling:

I'm accepting this invitation in order to see what happens when two worlds collide, when Christian (me) and Jew (you) come together, breaking matzo and sipping Jesus juice in the spirit of brotherhood, interfaith dialoguing so that we can celebrate both the commonality and distinctions of our shared Abrahamic traditions. Also, I'm hoping that by the time it's all over and we've fostered mutual understanding, walking hand-in-hand by the flickering lamplight of enlightenment, that you'll renounce your false beliefs and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

Or maybe I'll let the proselytizing slide. You wouldn't have much conversion value to my superiors back at HQ. You do, after all, admit in your book that you've been a committed agnostic who "is Jewish the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant" and only says "Lord" when "of the Rings" follows it. So, let me start with a compliment.

I've just finished The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest To Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. I don't want to give too much away about your excellent book, but in it, you strive to follow the Bible as literally as possible for a year. And at the risk of overreaching, I'm just going to say it: It's better than the Bible. Or not better, necessarily. But it is funnier, moves faster, and doesn't bog you down with any of those genealogies. I know that God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), but I never understood, with limited space and the pressure of crafting a universal message to resonate throughout the ages, why He would bother squandering valuable chapters telling me that Meraioth begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Look out, Jacobs--Labash is gonna perfect your ass.

Does Labash keep a blog? He needs too.

Meh. "Jesus juice" and "begat" jokes? Reminds me of "cool" youth group leader patter.

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