The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath – Jesus, Rabbi from Nazareth
Is not defending Sunday as a day to meet with God simply re-instituting the temple in that it promises some sort of mystical experience in a specific time and place? The geographical implications also claim that God could then only be experienced in ‘this’ specific context. What we cannot do is assume that our geographic place has no bearing on who we are, what we believe and even why we believe it. Take for instance, that I am a white western male living in a western [privileged] country and these circumstances [no matter how altruistic my theories] will continously be translated through this lens. The best I can do is to be aware of them and fight against them when appropriate.
In the case of church on Sunday, I think this is an important fight, not because the day matters, but because the point behind the words of Jesus. Over time, if adhered to, [especially in a communal setting] can too easily become institutional. Think about this, do you ever feel guilty [or have you ever felt this way] about missing church? This guilt is a western luxury.
We feel guilty not because we are afraid that we might somehow miss out on meeting with the divine, we feel guilty because we have subordinated ourselves to a social rule that has taken the place of God. What has happened is called a fact-value distinction, in the social sciences this is the claim that the objects we place value in can over time become facts even if they are not true. What we have to realise is that what is represented is not what is. Let’s dissect most church settings [I understand for some communities this is in or has already been revised; but let’s be self-critical about our contexts, lest we think we are above all of this].
the ontology of a church scene
When one walks into a church [like the video above] the traditional setup is that the congregation is huddled somewhere around a stage awaiting some transcendent voice to speak the words of the divine [tongue in cheek]. if we unpack the semiotics here, i think what we find might force us to reevaluate the sabbath, and whether it should be holy or not.
[keep in mind that the word holy in the hebrew means: unique/different; if all of our services look the same each week, or even the fact we do them weekly is a habit, like any bad habit, we might need to break it].
the congregation sitting in their chairs/pews is a form of collective intentionality, meaning that everyone is agreeing to this posture. and this posture is one of sitting ‘below’ the speaker.an image of submission or subordination, giving the speaker the power over you, and authority too. [some might claim that submission has to be a heartfelt decision, while i agree in principal, semiotically, this is not the case].
the person speaking center stage is in a position of authority, power and ‘wisdom’ [i understand this depends on historical/geographical context; i am specifically speaking about the western setup]. the collective intentionality also implies that everyone agrees with the setup [even if you dont ‘inside’; the fact that you are present says otherwise].
what we cannot get away from is that these ‘gestures’ and the defense of them is rebuilding the ancient idea of a tribal god rather than a universal one, because if we believe going to church is about meeting god ‘in the service’ or to ‘get more of god’ out of service or fill in the blank – then what we ultimately do is resurrect Jonah and assume god cannot find us in the sea or outside of the city. not to mention we subordinate ourselves to the metaphysics of a day, which is also time and geography, we ultimately claim that we cannot think for ourselves, that we would rather have Sunday think for us. some might claim that they either change the day or the setup is much more postmodern, this does not change the ‘habituality’ that can occur in any setting. if we believe in an end to metaphysics [i.e, categories, classification, transcendence] then this means we must put an end to sunday.
because the assumptions that have been solidified are nothing short of feminine castration. i do not speak of the act of feminine castration, but rather a freudian analysis of it. from a purely freudian perspective what this means is that the feminine who has no penis is attempting to get rid of the penis that is not present. the assumption is that the female should have a penis, that it is somehow lacking something without it. this is the true evil of something like feminine castration; it plays into the social construct of gender control. the hegemony arises out of the assumption that something is there in the first place and/or that it must be removed to bring a necessary distinction. is this not the same perversion behind church on sunday?
that we assume that because a group of people agree to meet in a room and pay a speaker to give a message and have a small concert that god will somehow materialize. aren’t we assuming too much here? aren’t we assuming that god has to arrive [i.e, that god has a penis that is not present] and yet, god doesn’t have to at all. and so when god doesn’t ‘show up’ [as some state] there is a sense of either inadequacy or a claim to the myth of sin in one’s lives. there is a laundry list of reasons that one attempts to make sense of why god doesnt make them have some mystical experience. in the end this notion ends up being a form of reflexive castration, in that, we end up feeling powerless because we have created a god who is powerless. and the cycle continues. these reasons are another example of what happens when we succumb to a metaphysical trap of relating to god through institutional expression.
a simple offering in removing sunday from our calendars is a retrovisitation to the ancient semitic desert dwellers and the ancient world they inhabited. it was a common belief that god was in the world, all over it. in genesis 18 abraham meets god by a tree, this tree was known in the ancient world as a place where you came to met your god [any god] – trees were a divine space. mountains were the same [is this not where moses meets god and talks about making a promise]. whenever it rained, it was a reminder that heaven and earth were one. and the most radical act was when god became flesh, god with skin; meaning that simply being human is a divine experience/act.
[p.s. maybe for lent, you can give up sundays]