Time to Rethink Tradition

Time to Rethink Tradition

Twice a year as we spring forward or fall back an hour adjusting our clocks for Daylight Saving Time, and the provoked chatter ensues among neighbours and up to the highest ranks of government pondering why we still maintain this archaic practice. Beyond the inconvenience of adjusting analog timepieces, multiple studies have given evidence to adverse health effects from disrupted sleep to increased incidents of heart attacks, strokes and fatal car accidents in the following days.

Daylight Savings was the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin but it was formally adopted during the First World War as a strategy to save energy. Somehow this system persists despite evolving societal needs and considerable opposition. Daylight Savings serves as a poignant metaphor for the challenges of navigating entrenched traditions. In particular how certain religious practices endure despite shifting cultural landscapes and theological insights.

In many Christian denominations, the debate over traditions is not new. From liturgical practices to doctrinal interpretations, believers grapple with the tension between preserving tradition and embracing change. Just the ill effects from DST generate scrutiny of its efficacy, so too should the evidence of harm from certain religious rules generate reflection on if they still serve their original function.

One of the key parallels between Daylight Saving Time and Christian traditions lies in their origins. Both emerged in response to specific historical contexts and needs. Just as DST aimed to optimize daylight hours for agricultural and economic reasons, many Christian traditions developed to meet the spiritual, communal, or practical needs of their time. However, as societies change and priorities shift, the relevance of certain traditions comes into question. Have some Christian traditions become disconnected from contemporary needs and instead hinder spiritual growth and inclusivity?

The resistance to change inherent in both DST and religion can perpetuate inertia and resistance to innovation. Despite mounting evidence of the drawbacks of Daylight Saving Time, efforts to abolish or modify it encounter staunch opposition from those who fear the cost of change despite the projected gains. Similarly, within Christian communities, attempts to reform or discard outdated traditions can provoke resistance from those who fear losing their sense of identity or stability. 

Rather than clinging rigidly to the status quo, we are called to discern the enduring principles and values underlying their faith and grapple with how best to express them in a changing world. Jesus challenged the hypocritical religious law enforcers of his day saying “You know how to interpret the signs of earth and sky but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Gospel of Luke 12:56 ). 

Ultimately, the debate over Daylight Saving Time serves as a reminder that traditions, while valuable for their historical continuity and communal significance, must not become idols that hinder progress or obscure the essence of faith. It’s time to assess and adapt Christian traditions that no longer align with the timeless truth and actually hinder authentic and abundant life in Jesus. As we contemplate the metaphor of Daylight Saving Time, may we also embrace the challenge of discerning which traditions illuminate the path forward and which may be ripe for revision or release in our journey of faith.