Consumption Sabbath

Upon singing songs of shopping liberation, members of the Consumption Sabbath gospel choir were immediately ushered out of a large department store in Winnipeg, Manitoba. See for some videos.
Credit: Brad Langendoen,

As the Geez team approaches another deadline with the usual rush and overtime hours, the irony in the theme of leisure is not lost on us.

We’re all part time workers, committed to a workers’ co-op model (we all get paid the same, and no one is the boss). We set our own hours, work at our own pace and often feel pretty liberated from workaday life, but deadline time is still very busy.

Yesterday, when i asked my daycare provider to pick my kids up from school, i told her it would help me “buy some time.” I hung up the phone thinking how crass i was to use words that reduce our relationship to an economic exchange. That evening i apologized and thanked her for the loving care she offers my children. I don’t think she had noticed my slip-up, but it mattered to me. It reflects the mindset of an overworked, time-starved consumer.

It’s not surprising that busy consumers use phrases like “buy some time,” but more buying is not the solution to what Donna Schaper calls the “time famine” in our culture of overwork and overconsumption. Instead, Schaper looks to the tradition of sabbath-keeping and advises weary consumers to slow down.

I am inspired by the vision of sabbath rest described by Christian anarchist Ric Hudgens in “The land will have its rest” (page 61). The ancient tradition of sabbath rest is not merely about taking a day off from work. It doesn’t justify the leisure of privileged religious people at the expense of other people or the earth. Sabbath rest is good for our souls. It’s also a radical tool for resisting consumerism, redistributing goods and restoring balance.

This issue of Geez paints an unflattering picture of the “leisure industry” – consumer culture’s way of mass producing, buying and selling something we can get for free. But this issue also extends grace to all of us who struggle with too much working and spending. We let you in on the adventures of a “rogue disciple” on a Christian singles cruise (page 42), the frustrations of an Ecuadorian host to tourist missionaries (page 34), the guilty pleasure of a simple-living devotee’s vacation in Florida (page 37) and the free time of people who are unemployed (page 40). We envision contemplative, everyday leisure as an alternative to our culture’s frenetic pursuit of distraction.

We planned the leisure issue as summer reading. That means you might be reading it at the cabin, in a tent, on break from your summer job, on a road trip or even in an airplane. Don’t worry, our goal is not to ruin your holiday – maybe just slow it down a little.

Melanie Dennis Unrau is editor of Geez. She can be reached at melanie [at] geezmagazine [dot] org.

Issue 26

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 26, Summer 2012, The leisure issue.

Like this article? Subscribe to Geez and get more like this delivered to your door, ad-free, four times year.

View comments, or leave one yourself

Hide comments

(No one has dared comment yet.)

Sorry, comments are closed.

Get Our Newsletter

(Tasteful and spam-free, guaranteed.)

All content is © 2005–2024 Geez Magazine and its respective authors.   (Ascend)

Geez Magazine | 1950 Trumbull Ave. | Detroit, MI, USA | 48216