Sabbath technology

I’ve heard of taking a “technology Sabbath,” a day on which we stay away from all the gadgets that vie for our time and attention. Mostly, it means turning off our cell phones and taming the urge to respond to our email or update our Facebook pages — so we can spend unhurried time with God and the people we love.

But I’ve never seen anything I’d call “Sabbath technology.”

Until now.

After many years, my wife and I finally decided to buy a new gas range for the kitchen. The basic principle is still pretty prehistoric: smelly air come out of little round thing, then Ugg make fire, burn food. Still, appliances seem a lot fancier than they did when we were first married, with their sleek control panels and digital displays.

The range came with a detailed manual describing a whole host of electronic features we’ve never used (and likely never will). One in particular was intriguing and entirely new to me.

Our new range has a Sabbath setting.

If I understand correctly, that means, for example, that you could put a casserole in the oven on Saturday, and set a cooking time and temperature. The oven would turn itself on at the proper hour and cook your Sunday dinner. And it would disable the controls so you wouldn’t try to use the range to cook anything else (naughty, naughty!). All you’d be allowed to do is take out the food (and, presumably, eat it).

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not sure why I’d need my range to lock me out. Is it that I lack the willpower to avoid using the stove (combined with the lack of initiative to cancel the program)? Is this for the adults, who are trying to make sure that the kids don’t sneak in a grilled cheese sandwich somewhere? (Not that I know of any adults who would ever discourage their kids from actually cooking their own food.)

But then again, maybe I do need the help.

Let’s face it. I have technological aids for just about every other area of life where memory or motivation are wanting. I have electronic calendars to remind me of where I need to be, for what, and with whom. I have a fitness tracker to encourage me to walk more. Now I routinely park at the far end of parking lots, just to get in those extra steps.

And, frankly, honest-to-goodness Sabbath rest can be a struggle sometimes.

I don’t think I’ll ever use the Sabbath setting on the range. It just feels like too silly of a thing to do. But it’s not because I couldn’t use the help. Maybe just knowing it’s there will give me the motivation: Look, Father, I did it myself.