Review: The Year of Living Like Jesus by Ed Dobson

Many of us have, at the very least, read the teachings and miracles of Jesus (unless you’re Thomas Jefferson, then you just skip over them). They’ve inspired, they’ve infuriated, they’ve changed. However, very few of us are as capable as living like Jesus as we’d like to believe.  Ed Dobson, as the title of his book indicates, tried to live like Jesus for a year, with interesting results.

Dobson’s experiment led him down a whole bunch of interesting paths.  Upon his beginning of this journey, things seem to start out easy enough for him.  He listens to the Gospels non-stop, he decides to not be deceitful and leave his iPod off for takeoff on a flight.  However, a friend promptly reminds him that Jesus was also a Jew, and therefore would eat Kosher, so he decides to start doing that.  Throughout the book, we see Dobson spending more time in synagogue than he does in church (something, no doubt, Jesus would have done).

His journey takes many twists and turns as he finds new ways to pray (he interchangeably uses the Rosary, Orthodox Prayer Rope, and the Anglican Prayer Beads at different times), new ways to dress (including shirts with tassels), and new ways to talk to people (sitting in bars, having beer with people who called spirituality a crutch). It even pushed him to, for the first time, vote Democrat, as he understood the then Senator Obama to be best reflecting the teachings of Jesus as far as care for the poor, loving one’s enemies, and being a peacemaker. The issue of Obama being pro-choice did bother him, but being pro-life, to Dobson, means more than protecting the unborn.

I was through this book in a week’s time, and that’s with broken up reading here and there.  I may have only spent about 3-4 hours total reading it.  The book essentially functions as his journals over the course of the year, which makes for an easy, but very relatable read.  He hashes out the conflicts he encountered in his journey with you, and shows good reasoning for his conclusions. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was doing this WITH Dobson the whole time, but I did enjoy hearing where God led Him through all this.

This is not a great theological text with deep examinations of the original Greek and Hebrew (though he does use it where it is required); it is a personal, experiential journey of a man trying to figure things out for himself.  Sometimes, we theologians forget that God is actually alive, and that He leads and guides us throughout this life.  Never will I tell you to ignore the call to good biblical scholarship permanently, but I do think there is a need to set it aside in order that we may hear the voice of God.

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