Part two of two parts; click here to read part one.
CLEARING THE ROADBLOCKS
Even while the Bible, history, and the example of Judaism stir up a yearning for Sabbath within us, we are aware that taking on a Sabbath rhythm would not be easy—and pressures to work and spend are only part of the problem. Some other obstacles also make it difficult to retrieve this practice.
One is figuring out how to make Sunday special when it is no longer protected by legislation and custom. The arrangement of time by society as a whole is political, of course: how time is structured makes someone's life easier and someone's harder. Sunday first received special governmental recognition in 321, when the emperor Constantine decreed it a day of rest throughout the Roman Empire. This spawned centuries of government-sponsored Sabbath keeping. In recent decades, however, the setting aside of Sunday as a special day has been losing force within American culture's politics of time. One reason is increasing sensitivity to religious diversity—a sensitivity pioneered by the Supreme Court in decisions that forced employers to respect the Sabbath practices of Jews and Adventists. Today, not only the laws but also the customs that once shielded Sunday from most commerce are disappearing, and Christians' day of worship and rest is not automatically "free" for church and family. Claiming its freedom will take effort and perhaps even sacrifice.
A second roadblock is the bad reputation many devout Christians have given to the day of rest and worship. In the centuries after Constantine, church attendance came to be required and profane activity to be banned on Sundays, though in fact these rules were often ignored. When religious reform swept through ...1
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