The world divides into two kinds of people: those who make lists and those who don’t. Or, in other words:
those who make lists
those who don’t
You may be tempted not to care about this distinction.
However, if you are looking for resources on finding, and helping others find, vocation, consider the humble list. Among its virtues are embedded ways of:
contemplation or prayer or poetry
The process of making lists slows us down, helps us name what we truly want, educates our desires, and calms our anxieties. Obviously, the powerful lists above differ from grocery lists or to-do lists, helpful as these are for daily living. Lists that take us into mindfulness require us to notice things we would otherwise overlook. They answer interesting and important inner questions. The secret of a good list is locating a candid category that engages a curious mind. Continue reading →
The majority of students enrolled in my upper division Native American literature course tend to select The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as their favorite book of the semester. I believe this has much to do with the voice of the novel’s narrator and protagonist, Arnold Spirit. The fourteen year old Spirit is honest, vulnerable, crass, insightful, and comedic, and although it is the only work of young adult fiction my students read in this course, the text wrestles with issues every bit as complex as those we encounter in the assigned works of “adult” literature. While I conclude my class with this book in order to end on a particularly contemporary note, I will be teaching it in a freshman seminar course on vocation this fall for a very different reason: it wrestles with many of the major themes in Catherine Fobes’s insightful and important essay, “Calling Over the Life Course: Sociological Insights,” which serves as chapter four in the NetVUE anthology, Vocation Across the Academy. Continue reading →
What is the difference between traditional academic advising and mentoring for vocational discernment? Is the latter simply an extension of the former, a way of advising “the whole student”? Or is mentoring for vocation constitutionally different enough to warrant its own set of reflections? Continue reading →
I am afraid that some amount of doubt may have crept into this project since my last post on Wendell Berry and his definition of community. My argument in that post was simple: it would be good if professionals, and those who train them, might spend at least a few moments thinking through the implications of Berry’s ideal community along with his critique on modernity — both are described in his 1969 essay, “The loss of the future.”
The doubt crept in after I took my own advice and re-read Berry’s 2014 essay, “Our deserted country,” which can be found in the 2015 collection entitled Our Only World.
The essay contains the following definition of vocation:
The idea of vocation attaches to work a cluster of other ideas, including devotion, skill, pride, pleasure, the good stewardship of means and materials. Here we have returned to intangibles of economic value. When they are subtracted, what remains is “a job,” always implying that work is something good only to escape: “Thank God it’s Friday.”
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 →
At first glance, the two women may seem to have little in common. Elise Boulding was born in 1920 and died in 2010. Emma González, until two weeks ago, was a high school student studying for her AP exams. Right now she’s more famous than Elise Boulding. These two women, especially, have had deep impact on my vocation as professor and leader: Boulding gave me courage and hope when I was a struggling young professor. González gives me hope now.Continue reading →