Monthly Archives: January 2011

More Than Rest

Book Review: Sabbath: The Ancient Practices, Dan B. Allender

This book captured my attention mainly because one of my intentional pursuits has been to practice the principle of sabbath and rest – especially after reading Gordon McDonald’s Ordering Your Private World in the mid-1980’s. Allender seeks to “build a case for delight by looking at the Sabbath as a festival that celebrates God’s re-creative, redemptive love.” He holds that the Sabbath is to normally be a day (but not necessarily a particular day) that involves four key components, or pillars: sensual glory, rhythmic repetition, communal feasting, and playfulness. These concepts fill the first part of the book. He moves on to some thoughts on the purpose of sabbath as it might be practiced today in part two; and some thoughts on what we might do with Sabbath time in part three. This is not a complete theological study of the topic but rather one writer’s reflections and practice.

I appreciate some of the thinking that the author brings to this topic. The reminder that at some level Sabbath is about enjoying and delighting in God and his creation was much appreciated. The idea of playfulness and holy sensuality is intriguing. His choice of quotes and references to other writers and thinkers is broad and usually helpful. The call to consider Sabbath as more than merely a day off (Eugene Peterson calls it “bastard sabbath”) is a needed rebuke.

For those who like “lyrical” writing (back cover “marketing hype”), this will be a good read. I found it to be a bit confusing with logical thoughts being obscured by metaphor and jumbled theology. Not necessarily wrong (and it seems to be by design); it was just distracting to my thinking process. There is also a fairly regular stream of therapeutic talk which is provocative, but not always seeming to be on point.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.