The British School in The Netherlands established the BSN Mike Weston Charter of Quill & Scroll in 2022 (named after BSN Archivist and long-standing staff member Mike Weston!). Quill & Scroll is an international senior school honour society affiliated with the University of Iowa’s Journalism School. Established in 1926, its membership includes schools from around the world and aims to promote, recognise and encourage individual and group achievements in school journalism.
We are proud to share that the article submitted by Felix, a Senior School Voorschoten student, was awarded an honourable mention in the ‘Column writing – Non-Sports’ category of Quill & Scroll’s annual Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest.
”After six days of incessant, tireless creation and forging of our “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them … he [God] rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had doneGenesis 2:2
The underlying religious messages within biblical theology and religious texts in general can sometimes be subject to repudiation or dismissal by atheists/agnostics or practitioners of contrasting religions. Often, we are quick to brush meaning off of canonical writing under the pretext they are either not relevant to our status quo or that their purpose is to enforce set laws on us that apply outdated moral rules on our lives. However, rarely do we stop to assess the significance religious observations have had on us to this day. One example of this is the Sabbath.
”The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.Exodus 20:11
The concepts of ‘holiness’ or ‘sacredness’ are also concepts that some religious people believe cannot be adopted by atheists. However, the concept of ‘holiness’ can also be regarded as subjective because, in a non-religious context, it can be interpreted as a state of purity or the idea of being morally exemplary. If this controversial definition of holiness is applied, it can be very hard to obtain complete holiness simply because it requires substantial self-reflection and because it may involve overcoming personal challenges as well as our flaws/imperfections
”The Sabbath is called the queen of all days, …, and the day of
Judaism’s own holy day, the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week and day of ‘rest’) commemorates the practice of ‘resting’, which in turn – like holiness – can be difficult to obtain. As we increasingly adhere to the capitalist busy lifestyle, it can be hard to set aside moments of non-productivity or breaks from our packed agendas. Detailed perfectly in Abraham Heschel’s book “The Sabbath”, those that abide by the practices of the Sabbath, such as having a meal as a family, coming together with loved ones, letting go mentally and generally taking time to stop acting on the world often see positive impacts on mental and physical health. However, more modern interpretations of religious texts and modern promoters of the Sabbath practices seemingly critique the modern lifestyle more holistically – by suggesting we have become slaves to the clock and that the speed at which we live our lives is having negative consequences on mankind. The speed at which we live our lives seems to have increased in correlation with our constant and rapidly increasing consumption of media and technology in general. Our increased exposure to technology has weakened our ability to multitask and the Sabbath aims to fight technological invasion. This is reflected in one of the core traditions of the Sabbath: becoming technologically independent by setting aside all of our electronic devices on this seventh day as a minimum. In essence, this tradition is also a clear representation as to how the Sabbath opposes the capitalist ideology and structure of our modern society. Not only does it rip a hole in our technological world, it also rips a hole in a capitalist world of constant production and transactions of goods or wealth.
The Sabbath is a time where we stop acting on the world (as mentioned above as one of the Sabbath practices) and where our labour is no longer required and we are no longer under strict time constraints. As well as being a principally anti-capitalist idea, ‘not acting on the world’ has an underlying pro-environmental and conservationist notion behind it too. Because in times of rest where we are no longer factors of production our carbon footprint, waste output and even consumption decrease drastically. Whereas the Sabbath does not have a direct connection to the concept of the weekend (the two days of the week, typically Saturday and Sunday, that are set aside for leisure and rest) the influence of the Jewish/Christian tradition of Saturday or Sunday as a day of worship and rest likely played a role in the development of the weekend as we know it today. Alongside hundreds of years of trade unions and workers fighting for workers’ rights the Sabbath, which stemmed from a religious belief, has also had massive impacts on our rights as workers today. However, these rights are progressively being infringed upon as we shift towards further increasing production, longer working hours and less time for leisure.
How do we combat this? Firstly, the most significant way the Sabbath (as a rest day at minimum) counteracts capitalism, is ensuring everybody in a community can on certain occasions collectively rest from work. A clear way to display this is in action is if, for example, your local florist has decided to open on Sundays. Because of this other florists in the area will struggle to sell as many flowers because their rival florist has longer opening hours and can therefore sell more and harbour loyal customers. If, however, both florists were to mutually agree to close on Sundays their businesses would coexist peacefully without affecting their financial turnovers and simultaneously allowing the employees to have a rest day off. Even in primary essential institutions such as hospitals or fire stations it is necessary that good rotation can be maintained to ensure workers can still take the time to rest and spend time with family. How can governments impose this leisure? Through legislative measures that force companies to stay closed on weekends (Sundays especially) we still have time to preserve the Sabbath.
How can this work on a more personal level. Whereas, as mentioned in the introduction the Sabbath can feel like set rules imposed on our lives that imply restrictions rather than freedom, as a 17 year-old student who tries to manage a busy school schedule with social freedom – attempting at least to follow some of the guidelines of the sabbath has felt truly liberating to me. By making it a regular practice, spending it with my family and making it festive (with a festive lunch or basketball game with my friends) it is fairly easy to forget the incessant buzzing of your phone and constant flow of emails regarding work. As an atheist myself, I have still always tried to keep an open-mind to religious observations and in the end it has shown me how interlinked those observations can be in our status quo and ultimately, I can appreciate the good that it has done for me.
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.. “Ten Days of Penitence”, July 20, 1998. Britannica. Jewish religious year – Ten Days of Penitence | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Jewish-religious-year/The-Sabbath Accessed Jan 14, 2021.
- Emefa Agawu, Annie Galwin, Jeff Geld, Rogé Karma, Kirsten Lin. “The Ezra Klein Show” interviewing Judith Shulevitz. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/03/opinion/ezra-klein-podcast-judith-shulevitz.html Accessed Jan 03, 2023.
- Smith, Steven. “31 Bible Verses about Sabbath”. OpenBible.Info, Jan 9, 2023. What Does the Bible Say About Sabbath? (openbible.info) Accessed Feb 04, 2023.
- Merriam-Webster. “Sabbath”. Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Sabbath Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster. Accessed Feb 04, 2023.
- Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. “Entry for ‘SABBATH'”. “International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia”, 1915. What is the Sabbath? Bible Meaning and Definition (biblestudytools.com) Accessed 4 Feb 2023.
- “What Happens after Death.” GotQuestions.org. What day is the Sabbath, Saturday or Sunday? Do Christians have to observe the Sabbath day? | GotQuestions.org, Accessed 4 Feb 2023.
- BBC. “Who invented the weekend?”, July 2019. BBC Bitesize. Who invented the weekend? – BBC Bitesize. Accessed 4 Feb 2023.
- Wikipedia. “Workweek and Weekend” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopaedia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workweek_and_weekend 23 January 2023.
- Jahn, Sarwat and Mahmud, Ahmed Saber. “What is Capitalism?”. Finance and Development, June 2015, Vol 52, No 2.
- What Is Capitalism? – Back to Basics – Finance & Development, June 2015 (imf.org). Accessed 4 Feb 2023.
My name is Felix, I am a 17-year-old IB student, and I am French and German. I wrote for the Quill and Scroll with the purpose of researching and collecting information about a topic I was passionate about. This has inspired me to get more involved in the field of journalism, and I hope to write more articles in the future.