Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Discuss amongst yourselves

Should we (the US) make Sunday a de facto sabbath? Would this violate separation of church and state (in principle, if not in law, since I believe what's been suggested is a change in the culture), or would it merely recognize that this is a Christian country? My answer's here, but I'd like to know what others (especially certain no-longer-hiatusing others) think.


PG said...

The federalist response about such things ("want a same-sex marriage? then leave Texas and go to Mass.") always strikes me as almost absurdly entitled. Do the people who say such things really live in such a privileged universe that jobs, families, etc. can be abandoned at the drop of a hat? Should the gay man caring for his dying mother in Dallas have to choose between his responsibility to her and his ability to create a legally-recognized bond with his partner?

As for "blue laws," they're still in effect in some places with regard to certain kinds of businesses, and some large corporations self-impose Sunday rest (e.g. Chik-fil-A).

The overt resentment in Lawler's post toward those who "think there’s not time enough to allow the wasting of even a single day," and his desire to mandate a day of rest that coincides with his religious biases, is unsettling. It reminds me of the Chinese grocer in Summer of My German Soldier, who is considered unfair competition by the whites because he stays open late and on Sundays. Of course, Pearl Harbor gives those folks an excuse to vandalize his successful store and force him out of town.

Anonymous said...

I'm always obliging, but I also seem to be a little (a lot?) too long-winded for a mere comment. Hence...

Not-a- Generic-User-ID said...

The post Phoebe responds to is a terrible idea.

As much as religion is the interesting issue about the post (since the idea is a not so subtle attempt to force people to live according to Christian values), religion is really a red herring when thinking critically about the idea. The proposal is an economic and social calamity that would result in tremendous social waste and huge personal inconvenience.

The vast majority of people work during the week, this means they typically only have Saturday and Sunday to do errands. If commercial activity is shut down on Sunday that forces everyone to run errands on Saturday. This increases crowding in stores and forces tons of retail space to be devoted to this peak capacity that will sit unused through most of the week.

Peak capacity space at high volume stores will crowd out smaller stores that would have existed had the larger store been able to spread its customers over 2 days.

The people who used to work in those smaller stores will be unemployed or forced into lower quality jobs.

Businesses will be largely non functional on Mondays because truck drivers were taking Sunday off and deliveries didn’t get made.

People who find out their uncle is sick on Sunday won’t be able to go see him because the gas station is closed.

Huge numbers of people in the restaurant industry would be put out of work as they now only serve brunch 1 day a week instead of 2.

People who work in emergency services (which I’m hoping get some exception) won’t be able to get child care since daycare centers are closed.

I could go on like this for hundreds of pages; this idea is so costly and inefficient that it would require most people in the country to adjust to a significantly lower quality of life. The effects on religious minorities would suck, but they pale in comparison to the vast social and economic costs this mind bogglingly wasteful idea imposes.

PG said...


I suspect Lawler's response would be that we used to have mandatory Sundays off, and by gosh we were the better for it! And there was no such disaster like that you foretell! And your concept of a "lower quality of life" is too materialistic!

He of course ignores that some people *like* the ways America is no longer stuck in the 1950s, particularly that most adult women now work during the week and can't run errands on those days, need daycare (a phenomenon that briefly popped up for Rosie the Riveter but seems to have disappeared thereafter) and regularly go to restaurants instead of producing fabulous home-cooked meals 350 days out of a year.

Or to put it more briefly, I don't think it would lead to economic ruin for a country to have Sundays off; we've done it before. It's just that such a society is underpinned by certain assumptions, such as the non-wage labor of women, that Lawler doesn't disclose.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

First off, I should have called this post, "Four orders of closed on Sundays," after the "I love Lucy" scene where they can't read the menu at an Italian (?) restaurant and order the above-mentioned 'dish.'

Next, thanks for the comments. Paul, I've responded at your blog. As for Will and PG on the economy... I can't help but think how many of the foreign grad students I know come from countries (Israel or Europe, not that Europe's a country...) where everything shuts down one day a week. Perhaps America's strength, in education and elsewhere, comes from our staggered (and non-mandatory) days off.

Gavin said...

Let me second that last. I grew up in a country with mandatory Sunday closings, and, frankly, I find this aspect of American life marvellously liberating.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much everything is closed in Israel on Saturday in Jerusalem. We somehow manage. Some by preparing in advance and others by going to Tel Aviv. But we are THE Jewish state whereas the US is not really a Christian state.