Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book 25 of 2016-- The Sabbath World

Sometimes when looking for one thing you find something totally different and are so glad you did.  That, often, is the essence of book shopping (for me at least).

I forget what I was looking for when I found this volume but the title intrigued me and I bought it. It then sat in digital limbo for a few months until just after I returned from Sabbatical. In theory it would have made more sense to read a book about Sabbath before Sabbatical leave but who wants to be logical all the time?

In part the book is a history of Sabbath and Sabbatarianism.  In part it is the author's autobiographical account of her struggles with the Sabbath of her Jewish heritage. In part it is a reflection on what Sabbath does/could mean in a world that appears to have left the concept in the dust.

It is a really good read.

Sabbath is a topic I wrestle with a fair bit. I remember a couple of years ago when WalMart was moving to 24/7 hours for the Christmas season I posted in a FB discussion that this was not needed and that it was not healthy to think it was needed.  Suffice to say I was a minority in the discussion (You are really weird was one comment as I recall). It is very anti-cultural to suggest that Sabbath is a good idea these days.

I also remember as a young teen the debate in this province over Sunday shopping (trust me that ship has left port for so long the port has been dismantled).

Near the end of the book Shulevitz raises the question of whether Sabbath time should be legislated again. It is an interesting question.  I really do think that we would be a healthier culture if we turned the taps of commerce off for a day, or even a portion of a day each week. Not just as individuals but communally.

And yet how do you do it? I think that North American culture has gone to a place where it is no longer possible to get back the idea of Sabbath time. The wheel of commerce grinds on inexorably. And how would you choose which day? In a pluralistic culture we can't link it to any faith observance (which makes me also wonder how we still get away with making Statutory holidays of Christian observances).

I will continue to wrestle with Sabbath.  I will continue to wrestle with it on a personal level (because I rarely take a day of Sabbath time) and on a communal cultural level.

This book was a part of that wrestling.

Book 24 of 2016 Wenjack

Fifty years ago this month a 12 year old Ojibway boy named Chanie (Anglicized to Charlie) Wenjack ran away from an Indian Residential School in Kenora. He then died along a railway line a week later.

His death sparked a formal inquiry which condemned the IRS system.  And most of us had never heard of him until this year when this Heritage minute was released:

This book is a fictionalized/imaginative (and greatly compressed--into a couple of days) account of his fatal flight to freedom. It is narrated by the Manitous that accompany and watch Chanie on his trip.

The novella is a simple and quick read (my Kobo told me it took 0.7 hours). Which does not mean that it is an easy read. It is challenging as it forces us to acknowledge that this is based on an actual death. It forces us to ask what sort of a country would create situations where things like this would happen.

I am tempted to read it to my children (at least the older two) as a way to start to talk about this so difficult subject.

I am also tempted to suggest it as a book study for the congregation.