A Day Like Any Other

Tisdale - July 26, 1999
By: Timothy W. Shire

What happened, how did we as a society let this happen? The erosion of Sunday was not nearly as gradual and incremental as some would have us believe. The Sundays of W. O. Mitchell's time in his "Who Has Seen The Wind" or "How I Spent My Summer Holidays" remained pretty much with us into the mid seventies. On Sunday we could go for a drive, visit relatives or

family friends, go to a ball game, sit in a park, it was a family day. Not just for some, but for nearly everyone. Occasionally, a farmer would feel the compulsion to get out there and work in his fields, but he would be soundly condemned by his neighbours for such a transgression, or would feel that there were extraordinary circumstances for his action and it would only happen now and then.

Yesterday, a dreary wet and windy Sunday, as I drove around Tisdale, I spotted this man cleaning up from construction that involves the renovation of the church. I was troubled by the sight for at least one would think that the church would be the last part of society to have regular work carried out on a Sunday. As we talked about this, my wife told me that it seemed to her that it was in the late seventies that we were on vacation in British Columbia and saw everything open for business in Richmond and that was the turning point. After that, Canadian Tire, shopping Malls and large retailers decided to make Sunday just another day.

Now we must remember that there was resistance and many people realised what was happening and extreme consequences of this deterioration in the quality of life, was predicted. As town and city councils fought the businesses opening in violation of the "Lord's Day Act" citizens warned of the damage to the family and the enslavement of people. As it has turned out, the worst case predictions and warnings, have all been exceeded. It is important to understand that much of this issue somehow involved religion. As far as I am concerned, a day of rest in a society makes good common sense and there need be no connection to religion, or religious practices.

However, when we mention religion, the Christian religions that dominate North American society have been strongly opposed to the devaluation of Sunday. (The picture above is misleading as the fellow in the picture probably works at his job six days a week and is doing the clean up as volunteer work.) As far as Christianity is concerned, somewhere buried in antiquity the decision was made to celebrate religious services on the first day of the week rather then the last day of the week. Islam and Jewish people celebrate their day of rest in accordance with the Old Testament on the "Sabbath" which is from sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night.
I thought it might be instructive just to browse through the Ten Commandments of Moses. The United States Congress has passed a bill that these be displayed in every school in America. Few would argue about the common sense behind the rules that Moses handed his people and they are valid for Christian, Jew or Islamic people. The point I wish to make is that there is no "NOT WITHSTANDING CLAUSE" in the list. If we accept one, or some, we must accept all.

The desperation of our economical and financial considerations should not replace human dignity and it seems crazy to work so hard to obtain a standard of life that we can not enjoy. Therefore, I strongly recommend we reconsider what we have done to Sunday and to the work week in general. It may be time for a new "Lord's Day Act" and so as to offend no one, let us shut down commerce from sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night.

The Ten Commandments

  1. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the lord they God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the Fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy, six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor they son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day, and hallowed it.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, or his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.

Exodus 20:3-17

The facts remain that we can never regain the almost idyllic conditions I remember as a kid with Sunday being a family time, for we can never go back, but we can recognise what we have lost and forge forward to a better situation and set aside one day of the week for the malls to close, the liquor outlets to close, the food stores to close and we all, each and everyone of us, will have time to spend with our families. No real economic loss would result and all of our lives would be better.