The Weekly Hit List: October 25, 2013

Cover ArtPublishers Weekly reviewed iGods, by Craig Detweiler.

“An excellent conversation starter recommended for classroom use; Detweiler has made a solid contribution to the growing literature about religion and technology.”

Quick Hits:

At Thoughts Theological, Terrance Tiessen reviewed Daniel Bell’s Just War as Christian Discipleship.

Peter Stevens, at life, the universe, and everything, reviewed Devin Brown’s A Life Observed.

Bob Trube reviewed A Public Faith, by Miroslav Volf, for Intervarsity’s Emerging Scholars Blog.

Ebook Specials:

Through October 27, Living the Sabbath by Norman Wirzba is on sale for only $4.99 at participating retailors. Learn more here.

 

Excerpt from Living the Sabbath

The following is an excerpt from the second chapter of Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba.

Now through October 27, the ebook of Living the Sabbath is available for only $4.99 (75% off).

More information and a list of participating retailers is available here.

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The Israelites knew as well as anyone that people can declare God’s goodness with their lips but then with their hands and feet manifest the preeminence of self. For this reason their Sabbath teaching included well-developed social and economic directives, beginning with the clear command that all work stop on the seventh day. It is easy, especially in our culture, to underestimate the significance of this injunction. But if we remember that the Israelite economy was predominately agricultural, then this command takes on special significance.

When I look back at the farming community in which I was raised, I am astounded by the fact that family members and neighbors stopped work on Sundays. At most times of the year this was not a big deal, but during harvest seasons it most certainly was. In a farming economy the produce of the land, and thus the lion’s share of the farmer’s sustenance
and income, comes in at specific times of the year. The window in which harvest can occur is limited, due to changing ripening and drying conditions. Every day during harvest is
thus precious and not to be squandered, for whatever is not appropriately harvested spoils and registers as lost income, as lost livelihood for the family and sustenance for livestock. If the farmer gave up work to rest and bad weather set in and spoiled the remaining harvest, the costs were truly high.

One would think that Sabbath rest would thus be the occasion for considerable anxiety, especially in an agricultural economy. But in our community worry and fret did not overcome the Sabbath aim of rest and refreshment. To be sure, the farmers might worry about whether they had made the right choice by not going into the fields on Sunday, but such worry would reflect a distrust in God’s ability to provide and take care of them. Worry and anxiety would be byproducts of a fundamental doubt of the goodness of God, a suspicion that maybe God’s grace is limited or not enough. My experience of farmers at that time, however, is that they experienced daily multiple examples of God’s goodness and power, most basically in the germination and growth of crops and the birth and health of livestock. To be sure, crop failure and disease, as well as painful death, were perennial possibilities, but the experience of farming overwhelmingly taught the beneficence of grace. (It is no accident that as farming has turned into agribusiness, the practice of Sabbath rest for farmers, animals, and the land has come to an end.) If the farmer is honest, and thus appropriately humble, he or she will recognize that there is much more to be grateful for than there is to fear. Authentic rest becomes possible, even in the midst of harvest time, because it is informed by the palpable, concrete understanding that God provides. The means of divine care, whether in plant and animal cycles of birth, growth, decay, and death or in the kindnesses of kin and community, are ample and clear for those who care to notice.

Rest is not simply about stopping. When we stop from our work, what we are really doing is exhibiting a fundamental trust and faith in the goodness and praiseworthiness of God. Of course faith is not a guarantee of special divine favor. But we cannot delight in God’s provision for us if we are at the same time worried about whether or not God cares for us. Sabbath rest is thus a call to Sabbath trust, a call to visibly demonstrate in our daily living that we know ourselves to be upheld and maintained by the grace of God rather than the strength and craftiness of our won hands. To enjoy a Sabbath day, we must give up our desire for total control. We must learn to live by the generosity of manna falling all around us.

 

©2006 by Norman Wirzba. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Ebook Special for Living the Sabbath by Norma Wirzba

Now through October 27, the ebook for Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba is only $4.99—75% off! 

More information and a list of participating retailers is available here.

 

“I have read a lot about Sabbath and time issues, and much on food and agriculture issues as well, but nowhere have I encountered such a rich and promising connection between the two. . . . [Wirzba] opens real possibilities for living in a way that honors and embodies rest, remembering, refocusing and thanksgiving.”
—Arthur Paul Boers, Christian Century

Our traditional understanding of Sabbath observance is resting from our otherwise harried lives one day a week. But in Living the Sabbath, Norman Wirzba leads us deeper into the heart of Sabbath with a holistic and rewarding interpretation of what true Sabbath-keeping can mean in our lives today. Wirzba teaches that Sabbath is ultimately about delight in the goodness that God has made–in everything we do, every day of the week. He then shows how this understanding of Sabbath teaching has the potential to elevate all our activities so that they bring honor to God and delight to the world. With practical examples, Wirzba unpacks what that means for our work, our homes, our economy, our schools, our treatment of creation, and our churches. In doing so, he examines everything from the way chickens are treated in our food industry to the value of family mealtime.

In the end, you will be equipped with a deeper theological understanding of Sabbath, as well as down-to-earth ways to live it out in your daily life. This book will appeal to clergy and laypeople alike who are seeking ways to discover the transformative power of Sabbath.

Norman Wirzba (PhD, Loyola University, Chicago) is research professor of theology, ecology, and rural life at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age.

Labor Day – Excerpt from Living the Sabbath

In honor of Labor Day here in the US, today’s post is an excerpt from Norman Wirzba’s 2006 Brazos book Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight (a part of the Christian Practice of Everyday Life series).

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Living the Sabbath[A]uthentic work is one of the primary means we have to share in God’s own continuing work of building and maintaining creation. Whatever work we perform, then, is permised on the understanding that our exertion is finally derivative, utterly dependent on God’s grace as its sustaining and inspirational heart. The many indicators of work’s current malfunction–workaholism, worker anxiety and stress, social fragmentation and strife, massive environmental destruction–suggest that at a very deep level we have lost faith in God’s goodness. We have lost our appreciation for the loveliness of others and have turned our faithlessness into widespread abuse and exploitation. Rather than submitting to the grace of God, we have embarked upon the total management of the world. We are unable to let creation be itself, or to receive the world as a gift. We have come to think that whatever value is in this world will be the direct result of our doing, thus forgetting that God’s doing goes before all of our own.

We are in desperate need of a new conception of work and widespread discussion of what it is and what it is finally for. Sabbath people, those who understand that the goal of life is for all of us to share in the delight of God, are ideally situated to help that discussion along. As we proceed, [Wendell] Berry’s words can help us appreciate our work as a contribution in praise of God’s own work:

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.

[Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997 (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1998), p. 18]

©2006 by Norman Wirzba. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Living the Sabbath, click here.