“A Palace in Time”
A Review of
The Sabbath World:
Glimpses of a Different Order of Time
by Judith Shulevitz
Reviewed by Ragan Sutterfield
[ Read an excerpt of this book here… ]
The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time
Hardback: Random House, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Christians have all too often ignored the Sabbath. Ours is the Lord who questioned the keeping of the Sabbath, lowering its status, one could argue. Paul, in helping spread Christianity, also set the stage for a diminished view of the Sabbath as he tried to wrangle diaspora Jews and gentiles into one church by saying that there was nothing special about one day over another. Though both Jesus and Paul seem to have actually kept the Sabbath for the most part, it has been all too easy, outside of the very Sabbatarian context in which they were acting, to make the Sabbath a disposable idea, easily ignored or compromised when need be.
But if “the Sabbath was made for man” as Jesus says, most Christians have not accepted this gift of God. We have not learned to practice the Sabbath and so we are easily swayed by our kids’ soccer schedule or the mounting housework that we need one more day to complete. Most of us acknowledge that the Sabbath is important, but we find ourselves easy Sabbath breakers if something better comes along. We need a voice to call us back—a voice from the outside who understands all of our ambivalence.
Judith Shulevitz’s The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time is just the right sort of book. Shulevitz is Jewish, with an experience of Sabbath few gentiles ever get a chance to have, and yet she is secular, agnostic, and has struggled with a deep ambivalence toward the Sabbath. She brings us the gifts of the Jewish tradition and yet understands the struggles of the modern gentile with a day set aside for a kind of rest that, on the surface, seems like a lot of work.