Monday, January 25, 2010

My Jesus Year

Book:  My Jesus Year
Author:  Benyamin Cohen

One day a Georgia born son of an Orthodox rabbi discovers that his enthusiasm for Judaism is flagging.  He observes the Sabbath, he goes to synagogue, & he even flies to New York on weekends for a series of "speed dates" with nice, eligible Jewish girls.  But, something is missing.  Looking out of his window & across the street at one of the hundred of churches in Atlana, he asks, "What would it be like to be a Christian?"  So begins Benyamin Cohen's hilarious journey that is "My Jesus Year" - part memoir, part spiritual quest & part anthropologist's mission. 

During his year long exploration, Cohen sees the best & worst of Christianity - from megachurches to storefront churches;  from crass commercialization of religion to the simple, moving faith of the humble believer; from the profound to the profane to the just laughable.  Throughout, he keeps an open heart & mind, a good sense of humor & takes what he learns from Christianity to reflect on his own faith & relationship to God.  By year's end, to Cohen's surprise, his search for universal answers & truth in the Bible Belt actually make him a better Jew.

I saw this book in "Entertainment Weekly" one day & though the idea of it was interesting... & interesting it was. 

I had NO IDEA how many laws the Jewish people follow still today & the ways of life that they follow. 

This book is Benyamin's journey - & it does have it funny moments, it does have its moments of insight & it definitely taught me alot - about Jewish culture & about Christianity from an "outsider's" view...

The way he saw Christian book conventions & the idea that Stephen Baldwin is big in the Christian world made me laugh out loud.  It was also interesting to see the take on Christmas - & it was a sad view to me - how it has become so commercial... something we know, but to see if from a fresh perspective was just a little eye opening...even the "Big" preachers of the day, this man left nothing out... visiting different demoninations, faiths, ways of worshipping, seeing what Easter is about...

I even had a chuckle at his visit to "Winter Jam" as I know exactly which year he went... I went that same year...

Makes me wonder who's in the crowd now too... someone who is trying to disect Christians?  Would that make a difference in how you act if you knew someone was watching to learn from you?

The book was a little long - but it is full of Jewish traditions & while interesting, it was a little long for me.  Especially because the print in this book was so small & still over 200 pages, it just seemed like a long book.

I did enjoy that in the end, this experience drew Benyamin deeper into his own faith... maybe I'm a Christian & I personally dont understand how you can deny the sacrifice of Christ... but I did appreciate his closing words of "Hanging with Jesus made me a better Jew"... that just shows a bit of how this book goes...

I did find it interesting - I did learn from it... so:
My Rating:  3 skeins


Amanda said...

If you liked that, you should check out AJ Jacobs' "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible" - he spends a year trying to follow as many Jewish laws as possible (it's memoir-esque). It was a great read - very quick and entertaining!

"And so our stories go..." said...

I love all kinds of book reviews. Thanks so much.

Christian Mommy Writer said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for visiting me on my SITS day!