Books: Mudhouse Sabbath

I became mildly obsessed with Lauren Winner after hearing her lecture at Calvin College a couple years ago.

Then I became rather obsessed with her after reading Real Sex and hearing her various lectures/podcasts on that book that were floating around the interweb.

I finally finished reading Mudhouse Sabbath, and though it took a little more concentrated effort on my part than Real Sex or Girl Meets God, it was still incredibly insightful and offered more of Lauren’s unique perspective on how Christians have either lost touch with our Jewish heritage or in some cases adapted certain traditions.

While Girl Meets God unveiled the connectedness between the Judaism of Lauren’s youth and her new-found Christian faith by way of comparing the holidays over her years of conversion, Mudhouse Sabbath compares eleven Jewish customs and how they have found a place—in one way or another—in her life as a Christian.

Her chapter on prayer was (like its Girl Meets God counterpart) was especially challenging to me, and the section on food was great…

To consider how food connects us to God… where our food comes from, what God might think of our food, etc.

Really each chapter was perfectly concise and had just enough oomph to make you stop and consider.

While many of those Old Testament traditions have found a place in some way in western Christianity, it was her chapter on mourning that seemed to stand out as something in particular that we as Christian-ized westerners seem to have no construct.

We may succeed sometimes as a community supporting those widowed within the few week following their losses…

but then what?

And what do we as mourners do when those around us are encouraging us to “get it together?”

To celebrate our loved one’s death?

yet we’re immobilized with fear and pain and anguish.

Lauren describes the Jewish tradition for mourning, which divides the entire year for the widowed into particular phases for mourning.

Each one has its own instructions for the community and the mourner.

This calendar of bereavement recognizes the slow way that mourning works, the long time it takes a grave to cool, slower and longer than our zip-zoom Internet-and-fast-food society can easily accommodate. Long after your friends and acquaintances have stopped paying attention, after they have forgotten to ask how you are and pray for you and hold your hand, you are still in a place of ebbing sadness. Mourning plateaus gradually, and the diminishing of intensity is both recognized and nurtured by the different spaces the Jewish mourning rituals create—the harrowing shock of aninut, the pain of shiva, the stepping into life and world of shloshim”

I don’t know if I’ll ever adopt this calendar… I’ll probably die before anyone else close to me…

And when I die… I want Wake Up played at my funeral…

and I want it played loud (don’t worry about the old folks)…

and I want everyone to sing along…

and I want my old buddy Luke Meyers to be the songleader…

Wake Up

by Arcade Fire

Somethin’ filled up
my heart with nothin’,
someone told me not to cry.

But now that I’m older,
my heart’s colder,
and I can see that it’s a lie.

Children wake up,
hold your mistake up,
before they turn the summer into dust.

If the children don’t grow up,
our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We’re just a million little gods causin’ rain storms turnin’ every good thing to
rust.

I guess we’ll just have to adjust.

With my lightnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’ to be
when the reaper he reaches and touches my hand.

With my lightnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’
With my lightnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am, go-go, where I am

You’d better look out below