Monday, September 06, 2010

A Fox News Sabbath

Walking the dogs on a Sunday afternoon

Here’s a question I find interesting, although you may not:

When Moses brought down the Ten Commandments from Sinai, including the admonition to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” did the Children of Israel know exactly what day that was? In other words, if they were to labour for six days and rest on the seventh, was it clear to all and sundry which day of the week was the seventh one and when it would next appear?

I followed a surfing-chain yesterday starting with a forwarded email from a friend suggesting I sign a petition to block Fox News from coming to Canada. That led me to the website of Glenn Beck, Fox’s resident reactionary, on which there was a link to the Restored Church of God, which led in turn to a few talks by a David C Pack on why the Restored Church of God is the only true church in the world, which led further to the debate in the Church of God about whether or not the true Sabbath is actually Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, thence to the article declaring Sunday observation a heresy by said Mr. Pack.

If the Children of Israel had begun to observe six days on, one day off immediately, would the current Saturday still be in synch with them? I don’t think so. Every leap year pushes the calendar one day back (or forward, take your pick) and a strict sequence of six-on, six-off would mean that the Sabbath would rotate through the days of the week over time. Correct me if I’m wrong.

This may illustrate little more than that the exploration of the web is best characterized as a descent into ignorance, silliness and the endless flogging of pet horses. Or it may raise a far more disturbing question: if the reading of the Holy Bible produces such enmity, confusion and strife as we see in the splintering of the Church of God (into The Living Church of God, the Worldwide Church of God, the Global Church of God and now, The Restored Church of God) and the endless bicker about doctrines, should we be recommending other reading instead, or at least, as well?

Maybe we should rise up and block Fox News. The movement across North America toward fundamentalism and “conservatism” is insidious and concerted, and very, very discouraging. It’s a movement that throttles the great potential with which creation has endowed us. It’s a movement that eulogizes the merits of old doctrines and habits and would rather concern itself with mystical meaning in ancient writings than with the expanding possibilities of human intelligence, logic and creativity. It would rather predict the future than live responsibly in the present, and assigns catastrophes to the workings of powers beyond our control. It’s anti-civilization, and to see the church leading the charge back into ignorance would be the most disappointing development of all.

An aside: David Pack makes much of the verses where Jesus is purported to speak of “building my church.” This is not a firm foundation for many of his arguments, since etymologically speaking, the word church was not used in the sense in which we use it until the fourth century AD (see Some will say that Jesus never set out to “build a church,” others will say that it’s not possible that Jesus ever said those words, particularly in the sense that we understand them. There’s a difference between “reading” and “reading with understanding.”

So back to the Sabbath. Taking a day off regularly is a good idea, no matter what day it is. Giving that day to contemplation of a greater reality than our daily tasks allow is probably a bonus. Fighting over whether that should be done on Saturday or Sunday was probably not what was intended, to say the least.

No comments:

Post a Comment