Thou Shalt Slow Down: Ecology, Time, and Sabbath


I’ve been having a lot of random (or maybe not so much…) thoughts about the connections between ecology, Christianity, and what has become of modern society. Rather than committing to or promising a whole series about these matters, I will simply write about them whenever I feel inspired (and so, naturally it’ll probably turn into something of a series..)

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past year is the societal notion of time. It’s an idea that we take so much for granted and may not even realize/notice despite it being so imminent in literally every corner of our lives and consciousness. What’s worse are the ills that come of our problematic relationship with time. Our society moves so fast that we don’t even notice most of the time. Strict rationalism preceded neo-liberal economic thought which preceded private property rights/individualism ( for white men) which preceded maximizing efficiency and acquisition of wealth which preceded greater technological advancements which preceded the fetishizing of progress and speed- that which is faster is preferable to the slow-moving former..
The health disparities (and wage disparities..) associated with FAST food
The enslavement and destruction of life and freedom by those oversees (many children) because of FAST fashion – fresh Nike sneaks, etc.
The myriad accidents that are essentially numbingly mundane that litter our highways with speed limits of 55, 65, and 75 miles per how
Or maybe even the health complications that are born out of and significantly exacerbated by stress related to meeting deadlines and getting to work and obligations “on time” constantly..
And the list could go on further and further, yet humanity still seems to preference this heightening of speed – it’s like we’re moving so blindingly quick and eager off of a cliff- because none of us seems to know why and where we’re headed at this speed. We salivate at the prospect of a bullet train – taking us from NY to Paris in a matter of minutes. We all love our high-speed internet we used to read this blog post. For what purpose? We’ll get to our destination faster but we’re not suspended from the human condition anymore than if we moved slower.
All of these examples come from human ecology, yet natural ecology moves at a rate far slower than its human counterparts. The formation of fertile soil, the growth of crops and food, the development of some of the world’s greatest mountain chains, the decomposition of plants and animals , the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles, the passage of spring to summer to fall to winter – some of these things happen at timescales millions of time longer than the human life span, others thousands, hundreds, ten times as long- but all of these things ( and many more things) in ecology move SLOWLY compared to human civilization of today. Nature seems content to move at its slow pace, never rushing yet everything gets accomplished somehow.
We gaze out at the backyard finch through our windows in the morning and watch as it chirps and frolics through the air in between foraging for food, building its nest, feeding its young- we begin to envy this critter and many others because of the abundant wealth of time they have. We gaze out at them and then look at ourselves and our obligations and have to shake our heads at the absurdity of the speeds with which our lives and obligations move, a little bit of us even mourns because we know life could be this way. Slowness of pace is one of ecology’s most important lessons.
Perhaps this is what YAHWEH is invoking in instituting the Sabbath. The designation of a whole day to taking a rest from the mundane in our lives, the business and the restlessness. A time to be present with ourselves and with our God and to trust in his ability to sustain.
Perhaps this is what Christ is invoking in Matthew 6:25- 28
25″For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26″Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?… 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Our obsession with speed is ultimately an obsession with the desire to control, to master, to possess to eliminate uncertainty about the future. We think be speedily moving ourselves from point A in time to point B we can eliminate the “gook” in between these two points, but a lot of life happens between these two moments that we’re attempting to just erase by moving faster and disregard anything that happens between points A and B. Our obsession with speed is about the angst, anxiety and restlessness of our culture to produce, consume, compete and remain abreast of our competition. Therefore by encouraging opposing this manner of living Christ provides a manner of resisting empire- slow down !

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About Harry Samuels

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live #AnaBlacktivism

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