Vocation enmeshed

“Malcolm, you ought to be thinking about a career.  Have you been giving it thought?” …

“Well, yes, sir, I’ve been thinking I’d like to be a lawyer.”  Lansing certainly had no Negro lawyers – or doctors either – in those days, to hold up an image I might have aspired to.  …

Mr. Ostrowski looked surprised, I remember, and leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head.  He kind of half-smiled and said, “Malcolm, one of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic.  Don’t misunderstand me, now.  We all here like you, you know that.  But you’ve got to be realistic about being a n—-.  A lawyer – that’s no realistic goal for a n—-.” …

It was then that I began to change – inside.

~ The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The exchange between young Malcolm and his teacher, Mr. Ostrowski, encapsulates the tremendous influence of social and political systems on our daily and mundane interactions with each other.  What a young person thinks that she or he can become is overwhelmingly shaped by Continue reading

Smartphones and vocational reflection

Do smartphones help or hinder reflection upon vocation? It depends. Medieval Christians distinguished between curiositas—a vice—and studiositas—a virtue. Curiositas is inconsistent with vocational reflection; studiositas undergirds real reflection upon calling. Although I enjoy my iPhone, I know it encourages shallow curiosity rather than contemplative wonder.

Smartphones constitute ideal technology for cultivating and satisfying curiositas. These pocket-sized gadgets provide easy access to new knowledge on demand, so that a hunger for novelty finds endless fodder, inadequate though it is for real intellectual sustenance. Smartphones also present Continue reading