Archives For Sabbath


A More Productive, Fulfilling Life.
A Feature Review of 
Rest: Why You Get More Done
When You Work Less
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Hardback: Basic Books, 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Emma Sleeth Davis

In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang starts with a simple premise: working more hours does not mean getting the most—or best—work done.  Part self-help, part scientific findings, part biographical anecdotes, Rest is an engaging, well written and researched read for white collar workers interested in improving their productivity.

The book is organized into three parts: an introduction and two opening chapters; the pith of the book, concerning the schedules and techniques of successful workers; and a concluding section on sustaining productivity.

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Today is the birthday of Marva Dawn, one of the theologians who has been most influential for our congregation at Englewood Christian Church.

To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to her most significant works.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.



1) Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church

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Just Say “No” to Productive Cruise Ship Churches


A review of

The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap
John Koessler

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin


Right now, all I really want to do is rest. That is, I want to do what I would call rest in this moment, which mostly involves ignoring the things I should be doing – like writing this review – so that I can gorge on potato chips and watch unhealthy amounts of Netflix. The darkly lurking knowledge of misspent time would damage most true rest that I would get out of Netflix and chips, but I want those things anyway. It wouldn’t be rest, really, but I’m tired from a long day at work and it sounds brilliantly lazy.

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Lent is almost upon us again …

(Ash Wednesday is Feb 18…)

I’ve been asked a few times recently to recommend some books on Lenten themes that churches might read and discuss this year during Lent. And since, I think reading and discussing books together is an important practice for the health and well-being of churches, here are 10 new-ish books that would be appropriate for reading and discussion during Lent.  I offer each one with a brief explanation of why I have included it.

NOTE: I’m not recommending that any church or individual should read ALL of these books during Lent, but wanted to offer a range of options so that churches might have some flexibility in picking a book to read and discuss during Lent.

Meeting God in Mark: Reflections for the Season of Lent

By Rowan Williams

I’ll start with the only traditional collection of Lenten reflections on this list.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of this sort of devotional-type books, but Rowan Williams is always thoughtful (and sometimes provocative), and this book’s focus on Mark’s Gospel challenges us to stay focused on Jesus, which is an important reminder in our age of ideology.

Book 1 of 10

[ This list as a 1-Page Printable PDF ]

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This poem by Wendell Berry is certainly my favorite poem of recent years… I hope to reflect on why it has been so important in the near future on the Slow Church blog.


You can read the text of the poem here, and it is found in his recent collection of poems:


Leavings: Poems by Wendell Berry
Paperback: Counterpoint Press, 2011
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


There is a wonderful introduction of Wendell Berry by Bill McKibben, and also a segment where Berry introduces the poem, but if you only have time to hear the poem, it starts at 7:00.

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Walter Brueggemann

Earlier this week, noted theologian and biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann gave a lecture on Sabbath at The Episcopal Church of The Redeemer in Cincinnati.


We are pleased to share this three-part lecture here…


Brueggemann’s newest book:
Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture


*** Other Books by Walter Brueggemann



Part One:

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Why Keep the Sabbath?

A Brief Review of

24/6: Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life

Matthew Sleeth

Paperback: Tyndale House, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Leslie Starasta.


Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s newest book 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life is the most recent book on the topic of keeping the Sabbath.  Many books on Sabbath keeping read like a technical manual describing in detail how to keep the Sabbath.  Sleeth differs in his approach by emphasizing the health aspects of keeping the Sabbath, as befits his training as a doctor, in addition to the spiritual benefits.


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I never tire of Wendell Berry’s poetry…

Here’s a poem from

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

Wendell Berry

Hardback: Counterpoint, 1999.
Buy now:
[ Amazon ]


*** Other Poetry Books by Wendell Berry

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MaryAnn McKibben Dana - Sabbath in the SuburbsRethinking Our Crazy, Hectic Schedules

A Brief Review of

Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time

MaryAnn McKibben Dana

Paperback: Chalice Press, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Leslie Starasta.

Many people when they think of practicing the Sabbath conjure up images of the mother in Fiddler on the Roof preparing to light the Sabbath candles or of a very legalistic puritanical practice of the Sabbath such as described in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Or perhaps they have previously read popular books on the Sabbath such as Marva Dawn’s Keeping the Sabbath Wholly.  Often trying to keep the Sabbath feels awkward as individuals have not had an example of how to do so and do not know where to begin.   Furthermore, our culture never takes a break, even on Sundays.  MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s book Sabbath in the Suburbs describes one family’s experiment of keeping the Sabbath for one year.

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“Good Things Come to Those Who Sit

A review of
God in the Yard:
Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us.

By L. L. Barkat.

Reviewed by Denise Frame Harlan.

God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us.
L. L. Barkat.
Paperback: T.S. Poetry Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

“ …we disquiet our minds by I don’t know how many devices;
we give ourselves a world of trouble…to attain a sense of the Presence of God.”
Brother Lawrence, as quoted by L. L. Barkat

GOD IN THE YARD - L.L. Barkat“There’s a part of me that feels pinched in this life,” L.L.Barkat says in God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. She remembers finding solace in the woods, to help her survive a difficult childhood. But she doesn’t live near the woods in her adult life. She craves a pilgrimage, citing Annie Dillard’s life-changing journey to the Galapagos—but the pilgrimage Barkat finds begins on a red plastic sled going nowhere, in an unkempt urban backyard. She sits. Perhaps she chooses the sled because she is just that desperate. She proposes a spiritual practice for those who need respite—for people who feel busy and a little crushed. For people like me.

My church school classroom houses a 30-foot long history of the Jewish people. Each time we unroll the timeline, I note how much biblical history passed before the written word, before written scripture was available to the common person. How did they worship, before these stories could be read from a page? They built altars from the stones they found, as a way to say thanks to God, and they talked through the stories by firelight, under the open sky.

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