In her widely read and much-discussed article in The Atlantic, Princeton professor and former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter reflects on struggling to balance raising teenage boys with her demanding career. Religion makes an appearance in her essay, when she cites the example of White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, who does not work on the Sabbath. She writes:
Everyone who knew him, including me, admired his commitment to his faith and his ability to carve out the time for it, even with an enormously demanding job.
It is hard to imagine, however, that we would have the same response if a mother told us she was blocking out mid-Friday afternoon through the end of the day on Saturday, every week, to spend time with her children. I suspect this would be seen as unprofessional, an imposition of unnecessary costs on co-workers. In fact, of course, one of the great values of the Sabbath—whether Jewish or Christian—is precisely that it carves out a family oasis, with rituals and a mandatory setting-aside of work.