The essays continue to appear on the need to escape, if only for a time, our digital addictions. For another, with citations to three other good ones (one already discussed by Patrick on rll and Taryn on her facebook page), see here.
But the digital addictions are part of a larger phenomenon that has been addressed by religious traditions from the beginning. In this connection, I am reminded of a comment by Dara Horn referring “to the impossibility of removing oneself from the current of modern life and the equal impossibility of being forever caught in the current.” Horn’s comment was made in connection with praising Judith Schlevitz’s The Sabbath World. Schlevitz writes from a Jewish perspective, but compares the Jewish and Christian traditions in her book. As to the tension described by Horn, Shulevitz puts it nicely: “Americans once the most Sabbatarian people on earth are now the most ambivalent on the subject. On the one hand, we miss the Sabbath. When we pine for escape from the rat race; when we check into spas, yoga centers, encounter weekends, spiritual retreats; when we fret about the disappearance of more old fashioned time, with its former, generally agreed-upon rhythms of labor and repose; when we deplore the increase in time devoted to consumption; when we complain about the commercialization of leisure, which turns fun into work and requires military-scale budgeting and logistics . . . whenever we worry about these things, we are remembering the Sabbath, its power to protect us from the clamor of our own desires. But when, say, we return from a trip to some less developed country and feel a sense of relief that our twenty-four hour economy allows us to work, shop, dine, and be entertained when we want to, not according to some imposed schedule, at that point, too, we are remembering the Sabbath. We are remembering how claustrophobic its rigid boundaries used to make us feel.”
I was raised as a Catholic and Sunday was a day to go to Mass. I was told it was the Sabbath, but I did not hear a sermon about the Sabbath’s meaning until Taryn Mattice gave a sermon on it more than ten years ago in the Sage Chapel at Cornell. The Christian Sabbath has not been marked by rigid boundaries and rules. But that has led to its decline. That leads me to offer two cheers for claustrophobia.