Subversive Sabbath

The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World

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We live in a 24/7 culture of endless productivity, workaholism, distraction, burnout, and anxiety--a way of life to which we've sadly grown accustomed. This tired system of "life" ultimately destroys our souls, our bodies, our relationships, our society, and the rest of God's creation. The whole world grows exhausted because humanity has forgotten to enter into God's rest.

This book pioneers a creative path to an alternative way of existing. Combining creative storytelling, pastoral sensitivity, practical insight, and relevant academic research, Subversive Sabbath offers a unique invitation to personal Sabbath-keeping that leads to fuller and more joyful lives. A. J. Swoboda demonstrates that Sabbath is both a spiritual discipline and a form of social justice, connects Sabbath-keeping to local communities, and explains how God may actually do more when we do less. He shows that the biblical practice of Sabbath-keeping is God's plan for the restoration and healing of all creation. The book includes a foreword by Matthew Sleeth.


Part 1: Sabbath for Us
1. Sabbath and Time
2. Sabbath and Work
3. Sabbath and Health
Part 2: Sabbath for Others
4. Sabbath and Relationships
5. Sabbath, Economy, and Technology
6. Sabbath and the Marginalized
Part 3: Sabbath for Creation
7. Sabbath and Creation
8. Sabbath and the Land
9. Sabbath and Critters
Part 4: Sabbath for Worship
10. Sabbath and Witness
11. Sabbath and Worship
12. Sabbath and Discipleship


"Do you ever just want to pull the plug on your schedule? A. J. Swoboda's Subversive Sabbath shows you why you should and how you can; it will fundamentally change your life. It is a total reconstruction of America's frenzied, frenetic lifestyle, offering the ultimate regenerative alternative."

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm; editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer

"Subversive Sabbath is incredibly well written, accessible, and deeply encouraging. A. J. Swoboda avoids oversimplification and presents a deep, rich, and energetic argument on what it means to be fully human through an obedient pursuit of rest and well-being. This book gives a theology of Sabbath-keeping that was a much-needed encouragement for me. I'm sure it will be for you as well."

Ken Wytsma, founder, The Justice Conference; pastor, Antioch Church, Bend, Oregon; author ofThe Myth of Equality

"If I were permitted to recommend only one book on Sabbath-keeping, A. J. Swoboda's Subversive Sabbath would be it. This one volume acquaints the reader with a vast literature on Sabbath from both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Through practical reflection questions at the end of each chapter, it provokes changes in doing as well as thinking. It explores the implications of Sabbath not only for one's personal life but for relationships, for worship, for public life, and for the whole of creation. Best of all, it highlights the lavish gift and the countercultural adventure of Sabbath. No one can read this book and ever again associate Sabbath-keeping with 'blue laws' or legalism or boredom. Subversive Sabbath dares one to do life as God intended from the beginning."

Shirley A. Mullen, president, Houghton College

"Our smartwatch-driven age can measure every heartbeat, every step, even the quality of our sleep, but it cannot measure the health of our souls. Our limitless freedom has paradoxically imprisoned us in an achievement culture of constant measurement. Escape from the exhaustion of endless opportunity, embrace the singular God behind the singular Sabbath day of rest. Stop, breathe, read this profoundly helpful book, and be remade."

Mark Sayers, senior pastor, Red Church, Melbourne, Australia; author of Disappearing Church and Strange Days

"Few things are as subversive to the hurry addiction of the modern world than the practice of Sabbath. And few things are as life-or-death important. A. J. has written his best book yet. His keen mind, quick wit, and deep soulfulness come through beautifully, page by captivating page. But more than anything, this is a book that is lived. My new go-to book on the Sabbath."

John Mark Comer, pastor of teaching and vision, Bridgetown Church; author of God Has a Name

The Author

  1. A. J. Swoboda

    A. J. Swoboda

    A. J. Swoboda (PhD, University of Birmingham) pastors Theophilus Church in urban Portland, Oregon. He is executive director of the Seminary Stewardship Alliance, a consortium of Christian higher education institutions dedicated to reconnecting Christians with...

    Continue reading about A. J. Swoboda


"God's commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy is often overlooked, and in this book Swoboda takes a hard look at the effects of ignoring God's direction. . . . His explanation of how creation was affected by the fall is most interesting and quite eye-opening. This book is a wake-up call to reclaim the rest God intended for His people from the moment of creation. Recommend it to those who are weary of the busyness of modern lifestyles. Questions end each chapter making the book suitable for group study."

Elizabeth Wisz,

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