Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically and other books

I just finished this months book club book - The Glass Castle. However, I am so excited about an upcoming book, The Year of Living Biblically, becaues an interview with the author reveals that my Lent commitment Gratitude in Action , may not be so crazy after all. An excerpt from the book:

Do you think many people are misguided in their “creed over deed” mentality?

[Note from Tim: “Creed over deed” refers to people who value religious belief more than moral behavior. “Deed over creed” would be the opposite.]

I wouldn't say misguided. But I'd say most of us do underestimate the power that behavior has to shape thought.

It's astounding. I watched it happen to myself. For instance, I forced myself to stop gossiping, and eventually I started to have fewer petty thoughts to gossip about. I forced myself to help the needy, and found myself becoming less self-absorbed. I never became Ghandi or Angelina Jolie, but I made some strides.

I even watched it happen with prayer. After a year of praying, I started to believe there's something to the idea of sacredness. It was remarkable. So if you want to become someone different, just start acting like the person you want to be. It's like that business motto "fake it till you make it" but it works on a spiritual and ethical level as well.

Even with my wardrobe, I saw how the outer affects the inner. There's a line in the Bible that says your "garments should always be white." I decided to take that literally, and walked around in white clothes. It affected my mood. I felt happier, lighter. Clothes make the man. I felt I couldn't be in a bad mood if I looked like I was about to play the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

What were some of the greatest benefits of following rules to the letter, and what are the things that have stuck with you since ending the experiment?

It was fascinating. I'd always loved freedom of choice. It's why I went to a loosey-goosey liberal arts college with no core requirements. But this experiment was all about freedom FROM choice. Or at least a minimal-choice lifestyle. I had a set structure: Should I read the gossip magazine about Cameron Diaz's latest sex romp? No. Should I give 10 percent of my money to the needy? Yes. Should I turn off my email on the Sabbath (as both the Bible and Tim Ferriss recommend)? Yes.

In fact, there was something Ferriss-esque about the entire way of living. It reminded me of your low-information diet, for instance. In some ways, it was a huge time-saver.

If you want to read the entire interview, you can see it here.

I love the idea of having control over some aspects of my life. Often, I feel so out of control, that it is nice to believe that through hard work and sheer force of will, I can at least control my attitude and my reaction to situations. Our old pastor, Jim Martin, would say "Act yourself into a new way of thinking." I am not naive, and I do not believe that I can simply wake up tomorrow and say, "I am going to be grateful today." However, I do believe that with lots of hard work and time, I can improve my attitude and become more grateful.

1 comment:

Emeriol said...

Creed over Deed...
I think there has to be a complete balance. Jesus mentions that it is not good enough just to do a good deed (even the gentiles can do that), but that you have to do it for the right reasons. Which implies that your head, heart, and soul be in the right state... perhaps one might consider this a creed.

Thought provoking post as always.