Saturday, June 19

Nonviolent Sabbath

Nonviolence seems like a no brainer for Sabbath! If there is one day of the week that we should rest into nonviolence, it should be the day that we are called to rest, yes?

I've been considering how we create change in a world that is not centered on the radical counter cultural ideas of Sabbath. Sabbath is rest, work stoppage, creation, and stepping away from systems of oppression. Everything that I think of that makes the world a more just and merciful place does not seem possible in the prevailing culture of anti-Sabbath. So how do we change cultures when cultures seem to be unmovable forces? Do you become an unstoppable motion?

What happens when an unstoppable motion meets and unmovable force? Nobody survives. That means a counter-cultural revolution must happen that includes a creative third way. Sabbath must infiltrate our lives. And at its core, Sabbath is highly nonviolent.

I've been reading Walter Wink's, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way. It is a basic primer introducing the practice of nonviolence to Christians. In it, however, there are universal principles for those wishing to enter into nonviolent action that Saul Alinski developed. And make no mistake, nonviolence is active.

The basic principles Alinski offers are:

  1. Power is not only what you have but what your enemy thinks you have.
  2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
  3. Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy.
  4. Make your enemies live up to their own book of rules.
  5. Ridicule is your most potent weapon.
  6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
  7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
  8. Keep the pressure on.
  9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
  10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
  11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through to its counterside.
  12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
  13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.

Wink adds on this principle:  Never adopt a strategy that you would not want your opponents to use against you.

If the enemy is that which is destroying peace and presence, then Sabbath is going outside the experience of the enemy. Sabbath is extremely counter cultural. And Sabbath can change the world. It is no wonder that our culture keeps us wrapped up in busy-ness.

Sabbath is nonviolent action.

by Justin at CC (BY-NC-SA)
by Justin at

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