Arguing with Lauren Winner
Every so once in a while, I reread a book I love. Recently, this has meant delving into Lauren Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath. This week, upon rereading, I discovered that I said things in Stone Crossings that could be construed as being at odds with Winner's thoughts on Sabbath. She says...
...rest for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat. ... [the] problem with the current Sabbath vogue [is] the fallacy of the direct object. Whom is the contemporary Sabbath designed to honor? Whom does it benefit? Why, the bubble-bath taker herself, of course! The Bible suggests something different. In observing the Sabbath, one is both giving a gift to God and imitating Him. Exodus and Deuteronomy make this clear when they say, 'Six days shall you labor and do all your work. But the seventh is a sabbath to the Lord your God.' To the Lord your God. p.11
And here is what I said...
Back in the time of the Israelites, God had a novel way of building discipline, emptiness and want into the lives of his people. He mandated the Sabbath— once every week, once every seven years, once every fifty years....These Sabbaths each had specific purposes, but I believe they also functioned to teach us what my grandmother knew: emptiness, want and discomforting discipline are channels through which bounty can ultimately flow.
After all, looking back to the seventh-day Sabbath, we see that a vacuum of work prepared minds and bodies for productivity. And in the seventh-year Sabbath, we see that letting the land lie empty prepared the ground to burst forth with produce. Finally, on the fifty-year Sabbath, we find that the discipline of turning over accumulated slaves and property could prepare the heart to remember who really owned the "cattle on a thousand hills"... ultimately deepening dependence on God. pp.91-92
Reading these two quotes, this is what I think today... It is possible for two things, apparently in conflict, to actually be true. This comforts me. I wasn't in the mood to argue with Lauren Winner.
"Mourning Doves Talking" at the Smithsonian. Photo by L.L. Barkat.
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