This book, while quite well-written, was not exactly what I was expecting. First, as a note of background, I did my MDiv thesis on a topic related to the Sabbath, so I have done a substantial amount of digging into this topic. As it happens, Allender's views on the Sabbath come from a completely different place than mine, so I found it an interesting read, but I also found myself shaking my head in a number of spots.
At the core of this book are the following three assumptions, from page 5:
-The Sabbath is not merely a good idea, it is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus did not abrogate, cancel, or annul the idea of the Sabbath. In the Ten Commandments, the fourth (Sabbath) is the bridge that takes us from the first three, which focus on God, to the final five, which concentrate on our relationships with others.
-The Sabbath is a day of delight for humankind, animals, and the earth; it is not merely a pious day and it is not fundamentally a break, a day off, or a twenty-four-hour vacation.
-The Sabbath is a feast day that remembers our leisure in Eden and anticipates our play in the new heavens and the new earth with family, friends, and strangers for the sake of the glory of God.
Suffice it to say that if you do not agree with all three of these assumptions, this is not the book for you. In specific, I found it hard to digest his first assumption in the light of
Colossians 2:16-17, which says that the old order of Sabbaths and new moons were there precisely to point to Christ! As such, I found his insistence on Sabbath to be legalistic whilst claiming to be freeing. He asks what it means to sanctify the day as holy, and certainly, in my own theological tradition, the Lutheran Church, we see that as pointing to Christ-- that is, where Christ's Word is gladly heard and learned, there a mini-Sabbath exists. For Allender, the sanctifying comes in making "an encounter with God's delight." The bulk of the book explores
various ways of doing this. The idea of the Sabbath being a delight hinges on Isaiah 58, but even there it says to focus on God's delight, not man's delight. We are never told just why God's delight should look like what delights us. This book comes near to positing a Christian hedonism,
based on the premise of Sabbath redefined from what it had been in the Old Testament--- a day of rest, dedicated to the Lord.
Allender's writing seems to have a very romantic understanding of God in nature and in that which is sensed, and the importance of ecology as a way of seeing God; which he attributes to Moltmann. There is a very psychological feel to the book, which makes sense given Allender's background as a psychologist and counsellor.
What is good about this book is the idea and practice of making Sabbath deliberate; whether or not you agree with how Allender keeps it, the fact is that God created this world for the patterns of work and rest. Making that rest a true rest, a rest which delights in God and His gifts, is a good thing. So far as I see Allender recommending this in this book, I can certainly agree with him. As a general critique, I would have liked much more engagement with the Biblical texts than this book has, given that it refers on its surface to a very important theme of the Scriptures, the Sabbath. On the whole, for that reason alone, I would have a hard time recommending this book.
Note: This book was given to me for free to review as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program, and all opinions here expressed are mine.
Thought-provoking, but not at all what I expected.
October 4, 2011
The author begins with the assertion that true Sabbath rest isn't just about ceasing from work, or getting a "break," but about experiencing true delight, or so entering into beauty that we are brought to a point of awe toward the Creator of beauty.
As the book continues, it is all very philosophical. Although valuable, in my opinion, for stretching the reader's thinking and drawing us out of our ruts, it isn't very practical. And it isn't all biblical. For example, he quotes from a gentleman named Abraham Haschel about time:
"Time, that which is beyond and independent of space, is everlasting; it is the world of space which is perishing. Things perish, within time; time itself does not change. We should not speak of the flow or passage of time but of the flow or passage of space through time. It is not time that dies; it is the human body which dies in time. Temporality is an attribute of the world of space, of things of space. Time which is beyond space is beyond the division in past, present, and future."
True or not, this is certainly thought-provoking, and has the potential to affect how we approach our time. But Allender's response is that "if Heschel is correct," (and, in context, the implication is that Allender believes him to be so), "time doesn't have to be redeemed or used or stolen or made or spent..." However, the Bible clearly says that we do need to redeem time! (Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5)
Whereas I would have expected a treatise on the Sabbath to go point-by-point through what the Scriptures say about the Sabbath, that is not the case here. I find this ironic considering the author points out that keeping the Sabbath is a commandment! Wouldn't we expect, then, to read what God said he had in mind for the keeping of it?
Nevertheless, I did find much of this to be valuable reading, if for no other reason than, as previously mentioned, to make me think outside of my current rut. I also appreciate the reminder that the Sabbath - and, indeed, life - are not intended by God to be burdensome.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÂ®.com <http://BookSneezeÂ®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. This review appeared first on my blog, titus2homemaker.com.
When I sit down to read a book that I expect to enhance my spiritual development, I anticipate that I will be challenge to grow in an area where I need growth or I expect something that God is teaching me to be strengthened. I have felt God has been directing me to make better use of my Sabbaths for some time, so I started with book with great anticipation. However, I am sorry to say, I was disappointed.
I was not challenged to grow in what I believe would be a Biblical view of the Sabbath now was I strengthened in a direction I was already going. Whether it is the writings or me, is yet to be determined.
I have found several quotes in the book that I have shared in teaching or writing, but as a whole I did not find the book worthwhile. The one that I liked the most is: "If you get what you deserve, then it is impossible to be grateful."
Another that I will use in the future is: "To remember and mediate is to open one's heart to God by praying, â€˜What do you want me to know, to hear, and receive from you?'"
Typically I really appreciate the insights and teaching of Dan B. Allender. I'll give another of his writings a read in the future.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÂ®.com <http://BookSneezeÂ®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
In the chapter on Sabbath Silence by Allender, the author states "The Sabbath is like every other giftâ€”it requires practice and discipline to grow in delight." Keeping the Sabbath day holy is one of the disciplines I have continued to study and learn for the purpose of changing the way I look at practicing my Sabbath. This is why I choose the book Sabbath The Ancient Practices Series from Book Sneeze http://www.booksneeze.com/ where I participate in blogging for books.
If you or someone you know desires more of God through a Sabbath Rest I would recommend this book. In Allender's chapter, Acting out the Sabbath in Ritual and Symbol he gives some very practical ways of beginning your Sabbath the evening before. This was an easy quick read, and was much of the author's opinions, rather than a study of the Sabbath through the scriptures, but a book to have in your library for reference none the less.
Because this is an old testament command and not merely a good idea, I believe that this book could have done a much better job of representing the Scriptures and what God Himself states on the discipline of the Sabbath.
Thomas Nelson has provided me with a free copy of this book for review purposes
Wish I could provide a glowing review of Dan B. Allender's, Sabbath, but my grade rests firmly in the B- range. One of seven books in The Ancient Practices Series, I admire the intent behind the text, which is to challenge modern Christians' understanding (and practice) of the Sabbath in hopes of inspiring a return to genuine engagement of this precious day. To this extent, I held high expectations of Sabbath, hoping to find a biblical grounding and a sprinkling of examples of Sabbath practices since the first century throughout the text. To my disappointment, Allender provided neither. While Allender is clearly passionate about the subject (evident in Section 1: Sabbath Pillars) and his theology is solid, I found the writing to become less fluid, organized, and connected as the book progressed (Section 2: Sabbath Purpose and Section 3: Sabbath Performance). While there is much to mull over in Sabbath, I left this book wanting much more: a strong scriptural base, expansion of supportive-points, and a clearer sense of thematic continuity between sections and within chapters.
What I found refreshing about Sabbath, is the material in Section 1: Sabbath Pillars. Allender leads the reader through an exploration of the question, "What is the Sabbath?" In this section the reader is encouraged to think beyond current, cultural perceptions of what the Sabbath has become for many: a day of rest from one's occupation and a day to catch up on the mundaneâ€”laundry, housework, yardwork, etc. To spiritualize the day, Allender found that many Christians use the day to attend Church, but beyond that spiritual practices are limited to holding part of the day as a time of prayer or bible study---practices that are important, yes but Allender poses the notion that the Sabbath is meant to be so much more---not rest, but engagement in life!
Exploring Allender's definition of the Sabbath Pillars (Holy Time, Sensual Glory, Communal Feast, and Play Day), the reader is challenged to confront personal perceptions of the meaning of Sabbath and encouraged to analyze patterns of behaviour demonstrated weekly on this day. What I will take away from the Sabbath, is Allender's invitation to experience the Sabbath for all it is meant to be: Holy, exciting, precious, joy-filled, and delight-full. Allender asserts that Christians today use the Sabbath as a day of rest but "God wants us to have a day of wonder, delight and joy" (pg29). Allender emphasizes that to use the Sabbath as a "day off" (for personal gain to catch up on mundane tasks and projects) is to belittle the intent of the Sabbath. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed Section 1: Sabbath Pillars, and for this section alone would recommend reading Sabbath.
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.