Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Laws as "Machinery for Creating Community" [A Suggested Four Step Program for Bringing About Sunday Enforcement]

A clip from a conversation between Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time and James Carroll, the Boston Globe

"The Sabbath is an extraordinary piece of machinery for creating solidarity and fellow feeling, and it sort of works. There's a four step program for creating community, that the Sabbath does. Imagine that you are a social engineer. Imagine that you wanted to create a particularly cohesive society. How would you do it? Well, one thing you would quickly do is you would put everyone on a common calendar...The first thing you would really do is set aside one day in which everybody could sort of come together, be free from their work and would come together. And the second thing you'd do is make sure that that day is the same for everyone - that everyone could come together, everyone could not work at the same time - and the third thing you would do is make it habitual so that everyone did this regularly. They could forge these bonds of community. And the fourth thing you would do is make it festive, make it something that people wanted to do and that people loved. And then you'd have this sort of setup in which community happened...

I think that Emerson talked about this, uh, Henry Ward Beecher, but a number of people in the 19 century talked about this, that without the Sabbath, without the American Sunday, neighborliness would disappear, serendipitous life would disappear, fellow feelings would disappear, and I think, they think of it, as an element of American exceptionalism."