"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food Laws & AJ's TED Talk

 Here are some more tidbits from AJ Jacobs in The Year of Living Biblically.  Also I found a TED talk he did a few years back which mentions some experiences from this book including one of my favorites concerning what his wife did so he'd have to buy his own fold-up chair ...or remain standing within his own house!  :)

About the religious food laws: they sharpen your discipline. 

"The famous twelfth-century philosopher Maimonides says this is precisely their purpose: '[They] train us to master our appetites; to accustom us to restrain our desires; and to avoid considering the pleasure of eating and drinking as the goal of man's existence.'"
  (pg. 171)

Although we don't know that this is the true reason, I actually appreciate the thought behind it. Living in a culture that indulges quite often in food, drink and even materialism, I can see the wisdom in teaching humans to master their appetites and realize that there are more important things in the world than whether or not your cheeseburger is cooked right. Like why do we yell at waitresses as if our food is more important to us than they are?  (Sorry. I fell into one of my pastor's pet peeves.) 

Many of us know the Mosaic Law's prohibitions against eating pork or shellfish or birds of prey, but there is also a biblical rule concerning fruit. You may not eat of a tree fewer than five years old. So AJ researched which trees produced fruit fast and avoided them. Peach trees, for example, can produce fruit within two years.  Cherry trees, on the other hand, take at least five years before producing fruit so he felt safe eating them.   He noted: "The fruit taboo made me more aware of the whole cherry process, the seed, the soil, the five years of watering and waiting. That's the paradox: I thought religion would make me live with my head in the clouds, but as often as not, it grounds me in this world."  (pg. 172)

Not many insects are kosher, but locusts, crickets and grasshoppers are.  AJ's secular mind mulls the logic here. Why would God deem these bugs as permissible to eat? 

"One book I read --
The Unauthorized Version by Robin Lane Fox -- had a theory.  It said that in biblical times, swarming locusts would often devour the crops and cause famines. The only way for the poor to survive was by eating the locusts themselves. So if the Bible didn't approve of locust eating, the poorest Israelites would have died of starvation. This I like.  More and more, I feel it's important to look at the Bible with an open heart. If you roll up your sleeves, even the oddest passages -- and the one about edible bugs qualifies -- can be seen as a sign of God's mercy and compassion."  (pg. 176)

What do you think of AJ lessons from food laws?  Thoughts on the video or anything else shared?


Amber said...

concerning what his wife did so he'd have to buy his own fold-up chair ...or remain standing within his own house! :)

This. This was hilarious and probably my favorite part of the book.

I admit that it's something I would do too. Because it's just so freaking ridiculous and insulting!

Susanne said...

Yes, it was great! I totally admired his wife for doing this! :D

Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

Thank you for sharing!

I really enjoyed the video as well - especially the concept of reverend agnosticism - which is kind of how I feel, only being a monotheist and not an agnostic.

As for what his wife did, LOL! I so would've done that too! And I knew about that stuff already, it's absolutely crazy. But I've always said that looking directly at what it says in the Bible compared to the Qur'an, the Bible is a lot more mysoginistic in my opinion.

Amber said...

Nothing to do with this post!

Susanne, do Baptists celebrate Lent? I didn't think they did, but then Baptist Lady at work just told me that they do and that they do by fasting but there's no 'rule' to go by, each individual decides their own. And I've honestly never heard of a Baptist 'doing' Lent before.

Susanne said...

Amber, apparently most do not, but a few do.

I decided to ask on Facebook because I didn't want to speak for all Baptists since there are several million.


Amber said...


Joni said...

"More and more, I feel it's important to look at the Bible with an open heart. If you roll up your sleeves, even the oddest passages -- and the one about edible bugs qualifies -- can be seen as a sign of God's mercy and compassion." (pg. 176)" I like this. This is exactly what I think - that it's all about God's love and mercy. Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that suddenly God is not loving. I find some OT passages really hard to understand - like when Korah and the others who rebelled against Moses were killed - even their children.

Just this week I was journaling on Deut 5:8-10. Vs 8-9 say "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me," I thought, how horrible. Why does God punish those future generations? It's not like they did anything personally. In the Evangelical church we seem to teach that the 'explanation' of this verse is that these 'sins' are things like alcoholism, sexual sins, drug addiction - things that are passed down from parent to child. I am not sure that's right. Certainly those behaviors ARE sins, but I am not sure our children are cursed with them as much as they are 'taught' them by our own fallen behavior. Anyway, it wasn't sitting well with me.

And then I went and reread vs 10 "but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." What I realized is that this is the whole point of these verses. The reason that God is 'jealous' is not that he's narcissistic. It means that he longs to lavish us with his love. When we chase after other idols he doesn't get to do that! His love is so BIG and SO overwhelming that it MORE THAN covers any curse that we would inherit. If my family were not followers of god going back even 50 or 200 generations, but I had only *1* single relative who loved God *800* years ago, God's blessing for his faithfulness would STILL be on me, because of his promises. I am not sure if I am explaining well what I mean or not.

What I think is that rather than trying to identify what the curses are - because in truth all that does is lead us to look for those things in other people and to judge them. Rather, I need to remember that his blessing is for a thousand generations and that makes me want to love people. :)

Susanne said...

Wow, Joni, that was beautiful and totally made me wish I could read your devotional journal!! Really happy you shared that. It was VERY encouraging! :-D