Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Sabbath, by Dan Allender

Part of Thomas Nelson's "Ancient Practices" series, "Sabbath" is Dan Allender's exploration of what it means to set apart one day of the week as holy to God.  He sketches out his own history and story of Sabbath keeping (and lack thereof).  He challenges Christians to prioritize Sabbath keeping and then spends most of the book discussing what that does and does not look like.

Allender has a clean, conversational and intimate writing style.  In some ways, this book is an easy read.  But in many ways this is one of the more difficult books I have read.  The matieral that he lays out is dense and demands much consideration.  I found that I could no more read this book quickly than I could eat an entire chocolate mousse cake in one sitting.  Allender aims to be both grace-filled and convicting in this read.  He points out that keeping the Sabbath is one of the ten commandments and views ignoring it is a sin right there together with murder and adultery.  On the other hand, the vision that he paints for keeping Sabbath is so anti-legalistic that he leaves you wondering why anyone would not want to keep it.

I found this book peculiarly unsatisfying though because Allender is extrapolating in large part from personal experience and he starts from a massively different stage of life from the one in which I presently find myself.  As a mother with four children, my life, my worship, and my work are entangled with each other.  The children still need to be fed on Sunday.   More, the children still need to be taught and trained on Sunday.  In fact, training them in worship is one of the fundamental duties and responsibilities of a Christian parent.  It's one I'm priviliged to have, but--make no mistake--it *is* work.  In addition, as a pastor's wife, my husband's work week culminates with Sunday morning.  Sunday is not his Sabbath.  So then, if Sabbath is in part about community, how do we attend to it together as a family?  Do I personally try to keep it separate from my children?  Or how do I keep it together with them, when the work of parenting them is my work?  Allender addresses none of these concerns.  What he can do as a man with a day job, weekends off, and children grown is something different from what I find available to me.  Recommended with caveats.  Four stars.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson for review purposes as part of their BookSneeze program.