© and (P)1999 Wayne Muller
I'm very conflicted about this lecture. On the one hand, I think Wayne Muller is right on in his critique of the American busy, busy, busy mania. We must be doing, doing, doing. Work, work, work, play, play, play. Business and political people bragging that they are virtually on the job 24/7. Their children shuttled from school to soccer practice to ballet and violin lessons. God forbid a child would have a minute of unstructured time to have fun. Obviously, this is a society that could do well to observe a day of rest, especially now when Thanksgiving is being transformed from a family dinner into a mad shopping spree.
So Muller's criticism of our hyperactive society is valid. It is helpful that as a Christian minister he brings in perspectives from other religions, especially the Sabbath as it has been understood and practiced for thousands of years in Judaism. It's good to reflect that in the creation story God was not a 24/7 kind of guy. Adding in the contemplative, meditative and prayer practices of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are also helpful to building Muller's case.
However, in the last hour especially his prescriptions seem to go off on a New Age tangent. Couples stripping naked for a Sabbath bath where they confess the sins of the past week to each other seems like an attempt to meld Hippie sexuality with Catholic guilt. At other points it is hard to tell if Muller is advocating for Holy Communion or a wine and cheese party. There is a sort of whatever works quality to his prescriptions where Sabbath observers can either light a candle, confess their sins and give money to the homeless OR pop a cork on a bottle of champagne, play board games and have sex. Maybe this "whatever floats your boat" approach will work but it sounded too much like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills meets the Sunday sermonette.
Muller's suggestion that we slow down and take a day off to relax once a week was very welcome. But some of the examples of how he and his friends observe the Sabbath felt like Too Much Information.
There is some good material in this book. Enough for a sermon on the topic. The narration however is slow and quiet and frankly hard to pay attention to for any length of time without falling asleep.
Wayne Mueller has captured the essence of Sabbath and given beautiful perspective on why it is so valuable and important. This book is one of my top five.
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