With a little help from our friends: Aristotle, Thoreau and “Red Oaks” on friendship

On the subject of friendship, the following quote from Henry David Thoreau seems to be popular:

Thoreau quote from Brainyquote
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/henry_david_thoreau_132897

For now, we can overlook the fact that this is a slight alteration of what Thoreau actually wrote (!) and instead pause to consider what it was that he was aiming to capture about the nature of friendship. I want to explore the connection between friendship and vocation, and especially the role that genuine friendships can play in the vocational discernment of young adults. Continue reading

Please Help Reshape a Collection of Readings on Vocation

 

helpwantedThe anthology Leading Lives that Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be (LLTM) has been widely used by faculty and students at NetVUE schools as a collection of texts that can be used to guide and stimulate the exploration of vocation. The book, edited by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass (Eerdmans, 2006), includes a wide variety of selections — poems, short stories, essays, speeches, obituaries, screenplays, and excerpts from longer works — drawn from both religious and secular sources.

The editors are now developing a second edition, and they seek your advice.

The book was originally Continue reading

(Re)-reading Wendell Berry on community and vocation (part 1)

Wendell Berry (Photo by Guy Mendes)
Wendell Berry (Photo by Guy Mendes)

One definition of  “community” that I have become fond of lately comes from a quote by Wendell Berry.  You don’t have to look very hard for a good quote by Wendell Berry about almost anything.  I could get lost on Berry’s BrainyQuote page and never find my way out.  The connection between vocation and community is strong throughout Berry’s work, but David Guthrie’s recent post, which highlights the many shortcomings of our academic communities, has convinced me that  Berry has something important to say about this connection.  My plan is to look at two of Berry’s essays, the first (in this post) published in 1969 and the second (next time) published in 2015, that contain definitions of community and vocation that may very well be… definitive.  Continue reading

Calling as Summons: Treading carefully in the “cult of calling”

“So, I no longer say that ‘God calls me’ in the same smug way that I once did.” So writes Leslie Verner in a recent article on why she has left the “cult of calling.” Instead, Leslie concludes, she now uses language of calling more carefully, perhaps more reluctantly, thinking of her callings as contingent and subject to change — “if I use those words, I preface it by saying that I am called to this ‘for now.’ And if and when that calling shifts, I am left standing on solid ground, because my calling is to intimacy with Jesus Christ. And he never changes.”

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Should we abandon the language of calling, even in difficult cases where our lives take an unexpected turn? Leslie’s insightful words are an invitation to think carefully about the nature of our calls — and specifically, what it means to be summoned by something or someone outside of ourselves. 

Verner begins the piece recounting the idealism of her twenties. She wanted to follow Continue reading