I’m not sure if this was discussed in Sunday school or my Great Religions class at the U of O, which was taught by a retired minister by the way. But, once things start bouncing around the old brain box who knows what will come out. The Sabbath was presented as an improvement over earlier religious practices because it set aside a day as holy. Well duh, turns out that the so called pagans had holy days and festivals year round. Many of them lasting up to several day. One of the most famous was the Olympic games but it wasn't the only one.
Greek philosophy described an ultimate God/dess who had more than one face. And some of the Gods had more than one face as well. Poseiden was the God of the sea, but he was also known as Earth Shaker. There were various versions of Apollo, Athena, or Artemis and they all had festivals. Many of them lasted several days. Dionysus was not only the patron of the vine but of actors and the theater.
Many of the festivals were times when plays might be presented as part of a contest, sometimes not. And, in theory, actors were under the God’s protection so they could travel from city to city even if those cities were at war with each other. Of course you might find as the actor in Mask of Apollo early in his career. You might get to your next stop only to find that the men were away fighting, the women and kids were barricaded at home and the occupying troops were bivouacked in the theater using the scenery for the cook fires. Whoops, guess we don’t get paid for that trip.
There was a rich spiritual life that has been either dismissed or barely acknowledged because what became our way was the right way. Period, end of discussion.
What was accomplished by setting a specific day as holy, by breaking the links to a changeable calendar that was tied to sun and earth? It undermined the authority of the astronomer/priests. One of their responsibilities was to keep track of the coming of the full moon for certain festivals of the goddess. Also theykept track of the orbit of the sun to signal the passing of one season to the next and the solstices and equinoxes that were the midseason festivals.
By undercutting the authority of the astronomer/ priests it helped to reinforce the authority of the Mosaic priesthood. And it isolated the followers of the Mosaic Law from their neighbors. No shared festivals. No ties of guest friendship that allowed people to travel from town to town and be sure of some sort of welcome even if your co religionists didn’t live there.
Under the old calendar any day could be a holy day for somebody. If one day is set aside as holy what does that make of the other six days of days of the week? If only one group within a society is labeled holy because they were born into that “tribe” where does that leave the rest of us? If God lives up on a “holy” mountain, is the rest of the earth not holy?
I don’t think so. I believe that holy ground is right outside my door. And I also believe that if we listen the way we should, any one of us can hear the Song.