Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thou shalt not play on the Lord's Day

I'm currently doing a paper on Christianity in NZ - from its earliest days to the end of the 20th century (and maybe beyond).    It's been interesting to see something of the battles that have gone on in the past between denominations, and also over social issues such as prohibition, conscientious objection, sweat shops and more.

In one place there's a comment about how quiet Sunday was in New Zealand in the early days of the 20th century.   (I remember an overseas visitor back in the 1960s saying quiet Saturday was - he wonder why no shops were open.)   The Sabbath was well and truly observed, whether non-believers liked it or not.

In the light of that it's interesting to read the fuss that's going on in the Western Isles of Scotland, where the Sabbath is still maintained.   Some golfers in Stornaway have decided to oppose the ban on opening the golf course on Sundays, by playing.   And they're playing unhindered, because the course can't be manned because of the Sunday ban.....

Playing on the golf course isn't the only thing affected by the local Sunday rules.   Recently, Councillors upheld allegations by church groups that granting the licence would "damage morality", "weaken the integrity of the community" and lead to increases in domestic violence, alcoholism and disorder. 

All familiar stuff if you read the annals of the early 20th century.   It's an age-old problem (wasn't it Ezra or Nehemiah who had just such difficulties with local tradesmen?)  How much should the Sabbath affect those who don't believe in God, or are agnostics, or who just don't have anything to do with Christianity?   And would it be healthier if they were affected by it?   Does a game of golf come under Jesus' approach to the matter: the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath? 

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