Archives For Sabbath


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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As we are are taking a sort of Sabbath this week from our regular issue, I thought it would be appropriate to post this excerpt from Wendell Berry’s Book:

A Timbered Choir:
The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
Wendell Berry.
Paperback: Counterpoint, 1999.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


“Some keep the Sabbath going to church”
Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —
I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at least —
I’m going, all along.


“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
Judith Shulevitz
Hardback: Random House, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Sabbath World by Judith ShulevitzChristians 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.

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“A Sabbath-infused Way of Life
for Families”

A Review of
The Idle Parent:
Why Laid-Back Parents Raise
Happier and Healthier Kids
By Tom Hodgkinson.

Reviewed by
Chris Smith.

The Idle Parent:
Why Laid-Back Parents Raise
Happier and Healthier Kids
Tom Hodgkinson.

Paperback: Tarcher, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

THE IDLE PARENT - Tom HodgkinsonI’ll admit that I was a little skeptical when I first heard about Tom Hodgkinson’s newest book, The Idle Parent.  I have appreciated Hodgkinson’s work in previous books (e.g., How to be Idle and The Freedom Manifesto) and will occasionally read The Idler, the magazine for which he is the editor, but the idea of idle parenting didn’t sit well with me at first, as I have seen far too many self-absorbed, idle parents here in this urban neighborhood who don’t care at all where their kids are or what they are doing.  However, by the time I had wandered leisurely through the pages of this new book Hodgkinson had won me over.

The roots of this philosophy of idle parenting lie not with any of the familiar parenting gurus of the hour, but with noted enlightenment philosophers Locke and Rousseau (though Hodgkinson is quick to note his points of disagreement).  Freedom lies at the heart of Hodgkinson’s approach – freedom from the oppressive forces of television, toys, school and other cultural expectations – and indeed one gets the sense, though Hodgkinson himself wouldn’t likely use this sort of language, of what a sabbath-infused way of life might look like for families.  In a world where the struggle against the oppressive powers of greed, isolation and consumption too often grinds us down, Hodgkinson suggests a life of joy that is marked by virtues that resonate with Christian tradition: simplicity, rest and community.  Many readers might prejudge this book, as I admittedly did, as driven more by the vice of sloth than by any virtue, but what Hodgkinson is advocating here is not complete apathy, but rather freedom from over-parenting.  Consider, for instance, his take on family routines:

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An excerpt from

Sabbath World:
Glimpses of A Different Order of Time
Judith Shulevitz.
Hardback:  Random House, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Read our review by Ragan Sutterfield here


Starting this week, there will be a slight format change in The Englewood Review.   Our Midweek update (which usually comes out on Tuesdays) will no longer appear on our home page or RSS/email feeds.

The good news is that email subscribers will now only get one email a week from us, usually on Friday. We will still do a Midweek update but the reviews, excerpts, poems, etc. will be posted to “pages” on the ERB website, and announced via social media.  If you’re a “first-to-know” sort of person, you can get these updates when they first come out in one of two ways:

Otherwise, in our regular issue each Friday, we will recap the content of our midweek update.  For instance, this week’s update included:

Our Midweek update (usually out on Tuesdays) will no longer appear on the home page or RSS/email feeds. This means that email subscribers will now only get one email a week from us, usually on Friday. We will still do a Midweek update but the reviews, excerpts, poems, etc that we post will be available primarily through this Facebook page and through our Twitter feed (@ERBks).


The maker’s joy in what is made;
The joy in which we come to rest

A Review of
Leavings: Poems.

By Wendell Berry.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

Leavings: Poems.
By Wendell Berry.
Hardcover: Counterpoint,  2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

LEAVINGS- Wendell BerryReading Wendell Berry’s new book of poems, Leavings, I return to the work of this Kentucky farmer for the same reasons as always: a clarity of language; an interweaving of art and work with the natural rhythms of living and dying; and a vision that looks beyond the present powers to describe the very immanence of the kingdom of God, come on earth. Berry himself, no less, often sounds as if he is reflecting on a long life in his place on the farm and as a writer:

The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?

Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit

our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,

the streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope

then to belong to your place by your own knowledge

of what it is that no other place is, this

place that you belong to though it is not yours,

for it was from the beginning and will be to the end.   [91]

Derived from Berry’s native soil, these poems always return to human life which conforms to the order of creation; with a preference for internal or slant rhymes, these poems have an internal cadence that reinforces the structure of the whole. In two parts, Leavings begins with poems written as letters, questions, a speech, and others, most often in a free verse, although iambic pentameter or a haiku can appear so gracefully as to make the complexity of the forms seem only natural.

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