Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tithing and Sabbath as Freedoms?!?

A few weeks ago I was listening to a marketing seminar presented in 1998. The speaker asked his audience how many of them had studied trigonometry or Latin in high school. Almost everyone raised his or her hand. "Since graduating from high school, how many of you have used that knowledge?" No one raised a hand.

"I find that interesting," he said. "Here our educational system focuses on all kinds of subjects that no one will ever use, but it fails to teach subjects that would come in handy every day. Like: How to communicate effectively with your spouse [the speaker is divorced], or . . . "

Now. I'm not about to go down the other path (a rant) where the man was going. He thinks it’s absolutely stupid that educators teach any subjects besides those that have immediate practical application. . . . I can see that all manner of subjects that have no immediate practical application can be extremely helpful to make one’s mind pliable, flexible, able to think beyond the here-and-now, discover new solutions to problems that no one would think of otherwise.

But I was impressed by the man's comments about subjects not covered in the standard curriculum . . . and the subjects often never discussed by parents with their children.

I mentioned the man’s comments to Sarita. She said: "Let's think about this and offer our customers a list of subjects that might be useful to students that aren't normally covered by regular academic programs and, maybe, the best sources we've found that deal with the subjects. . . ."

We came up with a short list of beginning ideas and shared them with friends. Among the subjects, we included reference to tithing/giving and taking a Sabbath rest, two practices I've followed since reading a short book called The Ten Great Freedoms by Ernst Lange back when I was in high school. (The "Ten Great Freedoms" Lange was referring to were, in fact, the end results of what most of us know as the Ten Commandments. Lange characterized the Sabbath, for instance, as "Vacation" . . . and I jumped on that idea with both feet: "I get 52 days a year of vacation! By order of God!" –Quite the freedom, indeed! . . . It takes faith, but it is quite the freedom.)

I forget: Others don't view things in quite this way. So when they saw our list, those two particular practices--of tithing and Sabbath rest--instead of being exciting or inspirational, seemed, apparently, rather negative. Rather than encouraging us to suggest parents ought evn to discuss such matters with their children, some of the people with whom we shared our list picked those items, in particular, as uncomfortable and potentially offensive:

Is the tithe really something Sonlight wants to promote? . . . [P]ersonally, I think this is more a denominational thing--an Old Testament law that I believe was replaced by grace. . . . Taking a Sabbath rest. Is this Biblical? Didn't Jesus work on the Sabbath and say he had fulfilled the law and the prophets? Another denominational thing. . . . This kind of stuff makes me cringe because it is so personal and there is so much room for abuse and misinterpretation.

I'm not sure where further to go with this particular subject in this post.

It came up because of something I want to write about in a moment.

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