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Analyzing the Sabbath in the Modern World With Martin Doblmeier

People of faith are called to take a day of rest, and filmmaker and founder of Journey Films Martin Doblmeier analyzes this concept in his new documentary “Sabbath.” He joins Father Dave to discuss the Sabbath’s role in our modern world.

“What we’re trying to offer with the film is to say Sabbath is a way of approaching your life and your relationship to God,” Martin explains. “The soul needs a day of rest too. It’s not just your physical self, it’s your inner self; it really needs to take the day off. The more I’ve been thinking about this film, the more I’ve been practicing it myself.”

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They recall the “blue laws” that once were common in the United States as a means to observe the Sabbath. Martin says, “Everything shut down on Sunday; you couldn’t go to stores. To be honest, we’re not calling for the reinvigorating of blue laws in this country. I’m happy if I can go to Home Depot and get a plunger if I need it on a Sunday. We should be able to do that on our own, to be able to choose to take this time for ourselves and our families, commune with nature and to reconnect with God. Because the rest of the world is going to call and pull us in totally different directions.”

The film explores different facets of Sabbath, including its observance across different religions, and its historical connections to workers’ rights and civil rights in America. Specifically in discussing its history with slavery, Martin says, “African Americans who were enslaved had time to gather [for] their worship sermons, that was the time in which they could connect to God on their own. Sabbath was the only time during the week that they felt as they were liberated and free, because they were directly connecting to God. So Sabbath became a hallmark for African American communities of freedom and honoring God.”

LISTEN: Shouldn’t the Sabbath Be a Saturday?

In our modern world, Father Dave and Martin discuss the newer practice of taking a “tech Sabbath” one day each week. “It’s being done by an increasing number of people…to just abstain from a 24-hour period from their cell phones, laptops, and desktops. They really feel it’s made them healthier, smarter, and stronger,” Martin explains. “I think we can all let [technology] get out of hand, and the notion of a ‘tech Sabbath’ is exhibiting self control.”

With a “tech Sabbath” or regular day of rest for God, Martin notes that there is a key component.  “As I was making the film, the word that came up again and again was the word ‘trust,’ because you have to have the courage to trust if you’re going to stop everything,” he says. “[Trust] that your competitor in the workspace is not going to use the advantage of getting ahead of you while you’re on your Sabbath. [Trust] that your family is going to be there with you; it’s a lot easier to practice Sabbath when you have a family component along with you. And fundamentally, trust in God.”

Martin continues, “There’s a point at which people of faith say, ‘I’ve done my job, I’ve done everything I can to transform this world for the better six days a week. On the seventh day, I’m just going to take a break, and God, this is now yours.’”