Dan B. Allender: $12.99 paperback 978-0-8499-4604-2, 213 pp.,
Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2009

The ancient practice of Sabbath observation has roots in the practical idea that, in order to exhale, we have to inhale sometimes.

Dan B. Allender’s book, Sabbath, is part of the Ancient Practices series published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. The book encourages readers to revisit the ancient practice of Sabbath observance and apply it to their 21st Century life. Allender aims to dispel myths about Sabbath, including the belief that Sabbath observance means a day of enforced rest in a darkened room with pious study of the book of Genesis. He wants to reclaim the heavy-laden word Sabbath, a word weighed down by centuries of “shoulds,” guilt, expectations and self-deprivation.

Allender encourages his audience to play, feast, meditate and be joyful on the Sabbath, instead of approaching it like “a forced conversation at a social gathering.” A day spent fly-fishing or walking in the woods “with the innocent and risk-taking heart of a child” will recharges us for a productive week ahead. The sensory experience of a meal mindfully shared with loved ones nourishes body and soul.

Sabbath observation honours the universal need for a mindfully indrawn breath.

Sabbath is an ancient practice because it fulfills this universal need. As such, it would be preferable for this book to be written for a wider audience. Allender writes for a specific part of a Judeo-Christian audience—the part that takes ancient scriptures literally. The premise of his book is this: We should observe the Sabbath because one of the Ten Commandments tells us to.

This idea resonates with those who try to follow the ancient writings to the letter, but loses the growing number of readers out there who do not choose to make life choices “for the Bible tells me so.” The audience for which he writes probably already practises Sabbath observation. It is unlikely to encourage others to take up the practice. People who seek the respite of soul-feeding rest but who resist the dogma of organized religion will not stick with this book or put aside their belief that observing Sabbath is something that religious nuts do.

Those who struggle with balancing work and home life or who find it difficult to allow themselves the luxury of dedicated play time will not respond to the “commandment” to take a full day off. They will need different motivations and gentle encouragement to add Sabbath moments to their lives

The real benefit of this book is the call to reinstate mindful rest into our lives.

Everyone needs a break from a heavy workload, a day to recharge the batteries, and an occasional well-deserved vacation. But Sabbath is more than just a day off. It is a moment to observe a budding flower in true appreciation of its wonder, an hour to slowly savour a special meal, a time to play with reckless abandon, and a day to enjoy “a joyful union, at one, connected and in, at, and with peace.”


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on May 1, 2012, in Book reviews, Books provided by publishers, Non-fiction, Self-Help, Thomas Nelson and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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