Confessions, Book XI
Before considering how we should view time, we ought to reflect on how God views time. Augustine’s meditations show how attributes like “love” and “truth” are innate to God, but “temporality” is not. A boatload of theological controversies (like relating God’s sovereignty to human free will) and practical conundrums (like praying in faith about the day while still tackling our responsibilities) find clarity as we frame our temporality in God’s eternality.
We are told to “save” time and “spend” it wisely. But “hours” and “days” are measurements, not entities with value in themselves. Stern explores a biblical view of time as the measurement of processes. This is an academic book and pretty heady stuff, but knowing what time is (and isn’t) can help us focus on the value of living life wisely, not just scheduling it well.
From the Bible’s first page, humankind is called to labor six days and Sabbath on the seventh. But the Sabbath has fallen on hard times. This “Sabbath memoir” draws readers into a fresh delight in “the gift of rest.” Lieberman’s Jewish observances may not translate directly for a Christian’s experience. But the author’s joy in the Sabbath, even while a US senator navigating the highest circles of political power, is an inspiration.
James K.A. Smith
Israel’s ancient calendars were innately religious, framing human work in divine worship. But modern society has trained us to treat our routines—daily chores, weekly shopping, annual taxes, school and work schedules—as secular arrangements for the service (some might say worship) of “productivity.” Desiring the Kingdom helps Christians rediscover the importance of a sacred outlook on life’s liturgies.
Some books press us to maximize efficiency through better time management. Others urge us to slow down for a less stressful pace. Rather than idealizing (idolizing?) either speed or slowness, it seems prudent to let calling and contentment regulate our commitments. Suffering, of the sort Wolterstorff recounts in this memoir, often sharpens our focus on what’s most important in life. His stinging lament in the face of death helps us gain perspective on redeeming the time God gives.
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