Recently I sat down with author and professor A. J. Swoboda to talk about Sabbath. One of my favorite modern Christian writers, Swoboda has produced an excellent book titled Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in an Nonstop World.
Below you’ll find a brief sketch of our conversation.
I began with the question of deconstruction (Swoboda has just published a new book on this topic) and why there is such an emphasis on it today. Swoboda notes how French philosophy (postmodernism in general) plays a big role, as well as a pushback against authority or against what used to be assumed. But Swoboda points out something I don’t hear talked about often in this conversation: many are deconstructing because they weren’t given a chance to wrestle with and grapple with their faith at an earlier age. That is, we do not always give space for our young children to ask deep questions and think deeply about their faith.
Swoboda also points out that the spirit of deconstruction can be traced back to the garden of Eden where the serpent asks Eve, “Did God really say?”
America, Sabbath, & the Church:
Swoboda notes that for Americans, to sabbath is dangerous and that nothing is as un-American as the Sabbath. American prize productivity at all costs and even over-productivity. The same attitude can be found in the church where pastors are expected to over-work and may be “fired” for taking a Sabbath.
Swoboda also notes that our inability to sabbath is rooted in part in narcissism and individualism. Sabbath was meant to be a communal endeavor, never individualistic.
Satan & Sabbath: Unrest is the system of the Beast (of Revelation) who knows only chaos and has an innate inability to rest. The Beast imposes un-rest on humans.
Is God in control?
As evil running rampant and seemingly unchecked in the world, I asked A.J. what he felt about the phrase “God is in control.”
I brought up the fact that COVID-19 has pulled out the rug from the whole world and some attribute the virus to God himself. What are we to make of blatant evil in the world? When we use the phrase “God is in control,” are we unkowningly attributing (some of the) evil to God?
Swoboda notes that in key New Testament passages, we’re informed that the world is currently under the control and influence of the evil one. Swoboda takes issue with the phrase “God is in control” since it devalues those New Testament texts which inform them of Satan’s temporary reign on the earth.