Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Arguing with Lauren Winner

Mourning Doves Talking

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... 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.

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.


Ted's latest book club post

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Blogger Sarah said...

Hmm...well, personally I'd prefer not to argue with EITHER you or Lauren I guess I'm also thankful that the oxymoronic is also often the true ;)

11:49 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Did she really talk about the "fallacy of the direct object"? I'll have to razz her about that when she comes to Laity Lodge.

These two don't seem at odds to me. L. Winner is saying we need to remember that Sabbath is not about us. (Nothing is.) And L. Barkat points out that the Sabbath has real practical value for our lives.

Doesn't honoring God always have practical value? Of course, we can't put the cart before the horse. Honoring God in order to experience the benefits would be disingenuous.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

By the way... the word verification on that last comment was "fibmom." I just thought that was funny.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Given that I appreciate both of your books, I'm glad that both those thoughts, while seemingly opposed, can actually be true. And I love the truth of them.

Thanks for pointing those two passages out. You have me wanting to go back and read each in context. Perhaps this coming Sabbath?

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love to hear morning doves,
especially in the morning quiet.


5:56 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... maybe someday. After all, friends occasionally have a good little argument. :)

Mark... your sense of language exceeds mine. I hadn't even noticed that. Let me know how the razz session goes. Now, I got a good laugh about the two L. initial things you did here. And I guess you are bringing up the Proverbs principle. Wise, godly living generally has "good effect." (Oh, and funny word verification!)

A Musing... so you've read Mudhouse? I love that little book. And all this talk about Sabbath makes me want to write more about it. Somewhere in the next book I think!

Nancy... aren't mourning doves the best? Their sad, sad song is a cross between dirge and lullaby.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Well you *both* give me plenty to ponder.

One of things I love about God is that there is so much complexity within Him. There are things that seem to conflict, things that make me wonder how both can fully exist in one being...yet His Word tells me they do. It's part of His Mystery and it is a comfort to me -- a reminder that His ways are far, far above my own.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

I'll risk venturing into risky waters - offering feedback on a quote from a book I haven't read.

I agree with the Lauren Winner's general point about Sabbath. I'll only take exception on the point that the Sabbath is a gift from us to God. Not sure that's how the Bible depicts it. Doesn't Jesus say that "Sabbath is made for man" - I take that to mean that Sabbath is a gift to us from our God.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I certainly agree with Mark who puts it well. Not at odds at all! And both very well worded and good to ponder and seek to practice.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like to think of the Sabbath as an extended time of "Be still and know that I am God."

in a world bent on doing in order to define or know its being, i rather love being in order to know the I AM.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I have thought about changing the way our family practices Sabbath. When they haven't finished cleaning their rooms or completed some schoolwork, we might have them do it on Sunday, emphasizing that they cannot coast during the week, if they want to rest on Sunday. I thought about how rest could force a vacuum that would enable them to work better on Monday, but it would be unfair to my wife, since the only thing I would enforce on Sunday would be chilling out. "Hey kids, you better relax, 'cause Dad's watching you today!"

The good part is that I happen to be an expert on relaxing. You take your fishing gear out on the deck and aim for a bucket with the casting plug. Extra points, if you do it sitting down while wearing a funny hat.

I wonder what a God-fearing Israelite family looked like during Old Testament Sabbaths...

1:49 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Like so many thing in life, the Sabbath has it poetic and practical elements. Art and engineering combine and form architecture. I hate it, but they call it "synergy" when two parts combined produce more than the sum of the two parts.

So, yes, the poetry of "spirit of Shabbat" to honor and imitate Him and the practicality of rest as preparation for productivity may be two elements that "synergize" into something more than the two of them simply combined together.

2:08 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Katrina... I like that you give this the label of mystery. A good one, to be sure.

Every Square... it is definitely an interesting thought to ponder. I'm not sure why she calls it a gift from us. Perhaps the thought is that anything we give God freely is a gift, even though the givers might be tainted.

Ted... thanks. When I read her passage, I was struck at how it could be thought of as conflicting. Maybe I hadn't yet considered the viewpoint she was putting forth and it threw me for a moment.

Sometimes Poetry... oh, I love the way you switched those things around. Very. Well. Poetic! Welcome to Seedlings, btw.

Craver... I should tell you that apparently Jewish married couples get spiritual brownie points, so to speak, for, um, engaging... shall we say. Now there's something I suppose any man would be happy about. That or fishing. :)

Kim... I always love the perspective you bring. What a great concept from the world of industry. And, I don't know, I kind of like the word "synergy". What is its etymology? (Okay, if I'm not too lazy, I'll go searching for the answer to that question.)

4:14 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

i'm with sarah, i wouldn't want to argue with either of you!!

both are true. and here we have another dichotomy ... things that appear to be opposite, maybe even in conflict, are not. both are true.

i said that twice, didn't i? ;o)

4:43 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Ah, I was so glad to find your conclusion in the end because that was what I decided as I was reading. The two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive.

I think it's interesting that God is so infinite and so complex. I suspect that sometimes what we see as contradiction, paradox, etc. may be an organic unity to him. The problem is our limits, not his inconsistency.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Happy September the 8th LL, No, thats not it?... I mean Happy 4th July!!!

Have a great celebration (if you do)


2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like what you said about two apparently conflicting ideas being true. It's like different facets of the same gem. I think it's a both/and thing.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Sabbath keeping.

All of those are things we do in order to prepare ourselves to see Him in a truer fashion. It is peeling back the layers of our flesh and this world in order to lift our gaze to a truer and higher reality. Which results in His glorification, and our betterment because we see eternal things more clearly.

It's a gift from Him to us because He enables us to do something our souls deeply desire but cannot accomplish with our own devices.
It's a gift from us to Him because it places His goodness and glory squarely in the spotlight where it ought to be.

I'm not sure if you could call that re-gifting, but if you could, it's the best kid of re-gifting I know of.:)

1:41 PM  
Blogger Anne Mateer said...

I like what both of you said--and they don't seem contradictory to me at all!

4:05 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

You may want to have a peek at a TOTALLY different perspective of the Sabbath at See the sidebar.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

LL...I just found your blog tonight from Andrea (flourishing mother). I just finished your book. All I can say is that is absolutely breathtaking. You have presented so much I will be "chewing" on it for months! I found it so funny that you would mention Mudhouse Sabbath, as I am getting ready to begin it after finishing yours (somehow got matched up in my Amazon Wish list, and I said, why not?) For what it is worth, I don't find either of your thoughts contradictory. I also just finished a post on the Sabbath (which was very much influenced by Andrea, actually). Boy, I think I am going to have to go have another deep think again! So glad to have found your blog after reading your lovely book.

8:15 PM  

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