What Ever Happened to the Sabbath Here in the United States?

 

imgresPaul Rahe’s lovely account of the Sabbath in Jerusalem, below, got me to wondering: What ever happened to the Sabbath here in this country?

When I was a kid — not all that long ago — we still had enough of a sense of the Christian Sabbath, Sunday, that very few stores were ever open. It would never have so much as occurred to coaches to schedule Little League games, say, for Sunday. On the one occasion I can recall on which I wanted to meet some friends to see a movie (which, in those days, required going to an actual movie theater), I had to get special permission from my father to do so.

That world is gone — all gone. Commerce is just as heavy on Sunday as on Saturday. My kids compete in sports events on Sunday as if it were, again, just a second Saturday. And it’s not just that a sense of the Sabbath has disappeared from the wider culture. I can’t recall ever hearing a priest devote a homily to keeping the Sabbath set apart for prayers and family — for that matter, I can’t recall hearing a priest so much as mention the Sabbath.

“Thou shalt remember the Sabbath day,” needless to say, remains one of the Ten Commandments, but we have forgotten the Sabbath altogether even so.

What happened?

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  1. Red Feline Inactive
    Red Feline
    @RedFeline

    Great question! It is too bad that Sunday seems no longer a family day. The Jewish tradition of all members of the family, including Dad, sharing a meal at home on Friday evenings, then spending Saturday, the Sabbath, together, contains such wisdom. Strong families make strong communities. 

    We seem to have destroyed the old traditions, but replaced them with nothing. I hope this is a time of recreation, and out of the void of nihilism will come new purpose.

    • #1
  2. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Pope Francis has talked about it.

    • #2
  3. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I guess once people decided it was OK to kill babies they figured “What the heck, let’s go to the movies. “

    • #3
  4. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    It’s not completely gone.  Here in Texas, by mutual agreement among the car dealers, it’s illegal to sell cars on Sundays.

    Eric Hines

    • #4
  5. user_529671 Member
    user_529671
    @

    Blue laws were rightly struck down since not even all Christians agree on the Sabbath day, nevertheless what should be excluded. This is was a good long term vote saver for the Republicans. 

    As as for why it seems so few overtly devout people who wear there faith so proudly at political gatherings have no problem ignoring the restrictions, I don’t know. I only have a few friends in that crowd anymore, being such a heathen that I don’t use faith slang or throw stones at pro choicers.

    PS forgive any typos, I use an ipad and the site crashes if I try to fix anything without erasing all the from the end (along with other issues).

    • #5
  6. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Peter Bergen County New Jersey still has blue laws.  All the stores are closed on Sunday.  And it’s a pretty big county.

    • #6
  7. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Peter Robinson:

    When I was a kid — not all that long ago — we still had enough of a sense of the Christian Sabbath, Sunday, that very few stores were ever open.

    That world is gone — all gone…

    What happened?

    Oh Peter. If it makes you feel better it was probably your generation that did it. See, in your father’s generation  no one would have even thought of trying to go see a movie with friends on a Sunday much less venture to ask for permission to do so. They would have known that God would strike them down for such blasphemy. 

    Lets be honest though when God carved that commandment in stone some 4000 years ago there wasn’t much you could do in your free time other than sit around and not work. Now we have busy recreational schedules. And then there is this. When you only kind of work 40  hours a week while sitting down, the uniqueness of a day of rest loses its luster and significance. If you only got a break once every seven days from your 90 hour work week you’d just bee too tiered to go shopping.

    • #7
  8. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    The protestant ethic makes us rich, but is slowly killing us.

    We get to choose either a rich peaceful country, and die from a coronary, or a desperate and poor basket case where we live to 126 even after smoking a pack a day.  If we can avoid being murdered, or die from poverty related issues.  Little things.

    • #8
  9. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    The Sabbath has become the free space on the Bingo card of our busy lives. So it gets filled up with … everything trivial, which crowds out everything important.

    • #9
  10. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    If anyone read the post on Leviticus,  I think the observed Sabbath was lost in our country when people decided not to set a day aside, and make it a holy day, separate and special–with the purpose of worship and respite.
    It may be difficult for our modern citizens to plan ahead for true Sabbath; to say NO to the assorted demands an “unholy” non-Sabbath-observing culture makes on us.
    As a child, Sundays were for Sunday School, morning Church, family dinner with grandparents, quiet time (no tv), simple supper, then evening Church.
    In my first job, I lived in a New Jersey town where nearly EVERYTHING was closed on Sunday. If the grocery store was open, even then only specific things were permitted to be purchased–like food. No other items, like books, etc, could be sold on a Sunday. By the early 1990’s, those Blue Laws were overturned for the sake of economy and tourism.
    I don’t think our communities, economy, or culture are better for the loss of the Sabbath observation. People just do 1/7th more activities, want more, have more, and reflect with gratitude about 1/7th less.

    • #10
  11. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    I also read Professor Rahe’s post, and loved hearing the story of his Sabbath experience in Israel.

    • #11
  12. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    Eric Hines

    It’s not completely gone.  Here in Texas, by mutual agreement among the car dealers, it’s illegal to sell cars on Sundays.

    Eric Hines

    Mutual agreement or not, it’s still legally binding.  It’s bizzarre that they’re the only one’s left.  The Texas blue law used to be more all encompassing, but with a twist.  You could close on either Saturday or Sundy (which still applies to the auto dealers).  This was a nod towards the Jewish sabbath.  Back when the blue laws applied to most businesses, some store chains would close half their stores on Saturday, and half their stores on Sunday.

    As someone who was raised in rural New Mexico in the 1960’s (very near Texas) I was glad when more and more businesses did open up on a Sunday.  Now, I’m not so sure it was a good idea.  True, because of overtime laws, most people don’t work 7 days a week, and generally have two days off, even if they’re working shifts and the two days is on a weekday.  Even leaving out the religious element, having the same days off had its good points.

    • #12
  13. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    Peter’s point about getting special permission to go to the  movie theater when he was a child brings up another point.  Some denominations mandate more than just going to church on the sabbath.  Your whole day is supposed to be dedicated to spiritual activities, and some denominations go further.  Puritans mandated that you weren’t allowed to cook during the sabbath, so on Saturdays, adherents would pre-cook their meals for Sunday.  I don’t know of any mainline Christian denominations that are that strict anymore.

    Today, you hear mostly about the Orthodox Jews and the restrictions they observe on their sabbath, not so much the Christians.

    • #13
  14. David Limbaugh Contributor
    David Limbaugh
    @DavidLimbaugh

    Some Christians, Peter, even go so far as to argue that this is the only one of the Ten Commandments that was not reaffirmed in the New Testament. I’m not one of those; just point out that I’ve read that.

    • #14
  15. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Resting from work is not the same thing as sitting around all day in prayer and contemplation. And anyway, the Bible doesn’t say explicitly that the sabbath day has to be a particular day of the week, just every seventh day. I’m pretty sure Jesus observed Saturday as the sabbath. At least I’d be surprised if He didn’t.

    So, if I want to take my seventh day and use it to play baseball, go to a movie, or any other activity that pleases me, so long as it’s my choice and I choose to spend my sabbath doing what gives me the most satisfaction and recharges my batteries for the work week ahead, I’m in full compliance with the Word of God.

    • #15
  16. user_529671 Member
    user_529671
    @

    Some vestiges of the Blues still survive where few people care, but if you want to ruin the country, just try to bring them back by making them an issue in your next election. 

    Seriously. Establish a state religion anyone?

    • #16
  17. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    David Limbaugh:

    Some Christians, Peter, even go so far as to argue that this is the only one of the Ten Commandments that was not reaffirmed in the New Testament. I’m not one of those; just point out that I’ve read that.

    Wait a minute, David:  Does your commenting here on Ricochet today mean that you’re between the writing of books?  Because if so, we’re having you on a podcast, pronto–we’ve just been waiting for you to resurface, baby!

    • #17
  18. David Limbaugh Contributor
    David Limbaugh
    @DavidLimbaugh

    Yes, as a matter of fact. Book is done — to be released on Sept 8. Thanks for asking :-). I just submitted a post as well, but I guess it went down some hole somewhere. Just as well; it was unduly provocative. :-)

    • #18
  19. user_124695 Inactive
    user_124695
    @DavidWilliamson

    Yeah, I noticed Mr Limbaugh’s plea on Twitter (I should really get a life).

    As for the Sabbath, Peter, I am afraid the secularists won – even the Pope is a Socialist.

    Oh, I just saw Dinesh D’Souza’s America (the movie, not the country) – what a great movie, but rather poignant – I’m not sure we are gonna recover – Alinsky (aka Lucifer) has won – hence no Sabbath.

    If in doubt, re-read David Horowitz C 2009: “In my experience conservatives are generally too decent and too civilized to match up adequately with their radical adversaries, at least in the initial stages of the battle”. Peter, please call your office – Mr Obama left a message. Or was it Hillary? Something about 2016.

    • #19
  20. profdlp Inactive
    profdlp
    @profdlp

    I’m a fitness nut and among other things lift weights three days a week.  Typically M-W-F.  My gym was closed on Memorial Day so I went in on Sunday to avoid having everything pushed back a day.  The gym was almost empty and I loved having my pick of equipment with practically no waiting.  I’ve stuck to Su-Tu-Th ever since.

    Some might argue that I am “working”.  I certainly push myself pretty hard and I’ve often joked that if you picked someone off the street and made them do my workout at gunpoint it would constitute torture.  For me it is a peaceful and relaxing experience, which is what I view to be a perfect activity for my “day of rest”.

    • #20
  21. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    My father was a retailer in Texas in the 1960s & 70s.  He was also a  devout Southern Baptist.  And though he would have never opened his stores on Sundays, he hated the Blue Laws.  He held that the government should have no say in which days of the week he could operate his business.

    Were he alive today, I am sure he would have been an admirer of the owners of Chik Fl-A and Hobby Lobby, who close their stores voluntarily (and for the good of their employees) on Sundays.

    • #21
  22. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think we lost Sundays to our inconsistencies in people’s common understanding of why things are the way they are, stemming partly from the ecumenicism of post-war America.  

    The Jews honored the Sabbath on Saturdays. Okay, really, Congregationalist me asks, why? Why not Sundays?  If Saturday is the correct day, what are we Christians doing?  Shouldn’t we be having our Sabbath on Saturday too?  

    Or are we simply counting the days from Genesis, in which case, why don’t the Jews honor the Sabbath on Sunday too?

    And then the Catholic Church introduced the Saturday night “vigil” masses. So which is it, Saturday or Sunday? Which is the Sabbath Day?  

    Does any of this have something to do with the Resurrection, from Friday to Sunday instead of Saturday?  

    And we really like having the restaurants open for Sunday brunch after services or Mass–and that was great for our teenagers trying to keep part-time jobs.  

    :)

    • #22
  23. user_529671 Member
    user_529671
    @

    Songwriter’s Dad had the right answer.

    was he a Goldwater fan?

    • #23
  24. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    MarciN

    And then the Catholic Church introduced the Saturday night “vigil” masses. So which is it, Saturday or Sunday? Which is the Sabbath Day?  

    Many Roman Catholic parishes conduct mass every day of the week, though sparsely attended by only the most devout.  I don’t think vigil masses count as a Sabbath observance, technically speaking, any more than a Tuesday morning mass does.

    It’s “extra credit.”

    • #24
  25. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    Al Sparks
    Many Roman Catholic parishes conduct mass every day of the week, though sparsely attended by only the most devout.  I don’t think vigil masses count as a Sabbath observance, technically speaking, any more than a Tuesday morning mass does.

    Of course if the vigil mass extends past midnight, perhaps it technically is a Sabbath observance. (but it sounds like a short cut to me; an excuse to sleep in).  But when does the Christian Sabbath begin?  The Jewish Sabbath (mostly on Saturday) actually starts at sundown on Friday evening, and ends at sundown on Saturday.

    Do some Christian denominations use the same timing to begin and end their Sabbath?

    • #25
  26. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    In the Mormon world, observation of the Sabbath is still a pretty big deal.  Utah long ago did away with Sunday closing laws, but observant Mormons typically don’t shop, attend movies, or the like on Sunday.

    In my family, it is a day to (1) go to church and (2) spend time with family and friends.  It’s also a day for serving others and for engaging in spiritual contemplation (though hanging with my grandchildren and engaging in deep spiritual reverie seem to be mutually exclusive).

    I have personally defined Ricochet-ing as consistent with the Sabbath.  After all, I am providing my sparkling insights to the other Ricocheti; what better service to world peace and harmony could I possibly provide? [Don’t answer that question].

    • #26
  27. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    My grandpa was a shopkeeper and got jailed a couple times for violating the Blue Laws. It’s funny because his wife regularly hosted priests for supper and drove them around town at the time.

    Why did he do it? Because it was extra money and customers liked the convenience. The path of holiness is usually not the most convenient. People often choose the easy way over the holy way. 

    Technology played a role, too.

    Others probably have a different take, but my understanding of why God “rested” on the seventh day of Creation — though God does not weary — is that a work is not complete until it is appreciated. It is fulfilling for a human being to be productive, but not to be only productive. We are not mere machines. God did not create us to be slaves or drones. An occasional day of rest is necessary to appreciate God’s gifts (including the wonders He works through us) and to give thanks. 

    This is where technology and discovery come into play. Our standard of living has been raised so much that we are able to “rest” almost every day. We watch TV, play games (sometimes during work), dine at restaurants, attend our children’s playful activities, etc. Affluence, by greatly expanding access to leisure, diminishes the value of leisure time. The noise and chaos of modern consumer lifestyles discourage us from quiet reflection on our gifts. And transportation, among other things, has uprooted and scattered families so that traditions are harder to hold and are less supported by worshipers of similar theology. 

    One can easily lose the spirit of the law in the letter of this practice. And political laws are the wrong way to maintain respect for the sabbath. But setting aside a particular day each week for worship, reflection, and shared joys is a good tradition. 

    Also, the sabbath, like tithing, is a minimal request. We can pray and worship every day. Catholic churches offer the Eucharist every day. God has blessed us with incalculable abundance and leisure, yet we quibble over a single day of thanksgiving. 

    The way back could begin from either end. Business owners could close shop on Sundays (or Saturdays). Customers and business partners could withhold their participation until the workweek.

    • #27
  28. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Al Sparks: ut when does the Christian Sabbath begin?  The Jewish Sabbath (mostly on Saturday) actually starts at sundown on Friday evening, and ends at sundown on Saturday.

    Do some Christian denominations use the same timing to begin and end their Sabbath?

    Catholics also measure days from sundown to sundown, per the Jewish tradition, which is why the first Mass is offered on Saturday evening.

    • #28
  29. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Acts 20:7

    [ Eutychus Raised from the Dead ] On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.

    1 Corinthians 16:2

    [the collection for Jerusalem] On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

    Jewish Christians were driven out of Synagogues, so they gathered in homes. They gathered on the first day of the week to commemorate the Resurrection.

    • #29
  30. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    In my church we have never considered other churches to be our “competition.”

    In fact, we find our chief competition to be youth sports and golf.

    • #30

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