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A sabbath from e-mail?

A sabbath from e-mail?

When technology means you can be working 24/7, how do we find the right balance of work and life? Some companies are instituting a “no e-mail after work hours” policy.

The Washington Post reports:

Tonight, employees at the Advisory Board have an unusual task: Stay off ­e-mail.

Stash away those smartphones and laptops, the District firm has instructed. For those who just can’t stay away, read but don’t reply. And while we’re at it, ignore your inbox throughout the weekend, too, the firm added.

The consulting firm’s push for no after-hours e-mail is part of a growing effort by some employers to rebuild the boundaries between work and home that have crumbled amid the do-more-with-less ethos of the economic downturn.

In recent years, one in four companies have created similar rules on e-mail, both formal and informal, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Firms trying out these policies include Volkswagen, some divisions of PricewaterhouseCoopers and shipping company PBD Worldwide.

For the vast majority of companies and federal offices, the muddying of work and personal time has had financial advantages. Corporations and agencies, unable to hire, are more productive than ever thanks in part to work-issued smartphones, tablets and other mobile technology, economists say.

What would that look like for the average Christian to extend the Sabbath to our e-mails, computers and mobile devices? Would that bring balance or open up life to other kinds of distractions?

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Lois Keen

Oh, I see - now I understand the "culturally arrogant" bit. Since I'm not a Sunday Sabbatarian, that is, I know Sunday is not the Biblical sabbath, I was confused by that bit. Thank you for the links.

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Bill Dilworth

Lois, it's the confusion of Sunday with the Biblical Sabbath. It was a hallmark of Puritan and early Congregationalist theology, and led to things like the Blue Laws outlawing various practices on Sunday. It was also picked up the Methodists, as witnessed by the Sunday chaining of the town gates in Methodist-owned Ocean Grove, NJ until the 1980s. There were Anglicans who were proponents of the idea, but it doesn't seem to have been as strong of a current as in other bodies.

In recent years it's had something of a comeback in some parts of the Episcopal Church. You can find announcements, sermons, articles - even a posting to the Cafe in 2008 - about Episcopalian enthusiasm for the Sabbath by doing a google search. None of them appear to be advocating as strict of an observation of the Sabbath as earlier American generations endured, but I think all of them reflect, to some extent, a confusion over the status of Sabbath-keeping in the Church. As always, YMMV.

http://www.myfaithmylife.org/keepingthesabbath.html

http://www.stmargaretschurch.org/connect/news/practicing-sabbath-rediscovering-gods-design-for-rest,-october-26-27,-2012.html

http://stpatricksepiscopalchurch.blogspot.com/2010/08/sabbath-rev-dr-kurt-gerhard-august-22.html

http://www.saintambrosechurch.net/blogs/2012/03/12/keeping-sabbath/

http://www.stjohnswv.org/pages/sermon-proper22A.html

https://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/spirituality/reclaiming_the_sabbath.php

And just for variation, here's something from a priest advocating Saturday as the Sabbath for Episcopalians:

http://www.stmatthewssterling.org/Sermon.aspx?DocumentID=636

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Lois Keen

Color me clueless, Bill D. What is Sunday Sabbatarianism? As a priest, I'm embarrassed not to know the answer but not too ashamed to ask. Thanks in advance.

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Bill Dilworth

I think it depends on what you mean by Sabbath.

Disconnecting from the Web and e-mail is probably a good thing in general - especially work- and career-driven stuff - and I support it.

If you mean more of the (IMNSHO) misguided and culturally arrogant Sunday Sabbatarianism that has enjoyed a resurgence in the Episcopal Church lately, I'm opposed.

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