Shaun Casey on Diplomacy and Hope

In a new episode of NetVUE’s podcast series Callings, hosts Erin VanLaningham and John Barton speak with Shaun Casey, founding director of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs at the U.S. State Department.

Shaun’s work explores the overlapping concerns of religion, diplomacy, and public life. Trained as a theologian with an interest in public policy, Shaun held multiple academic positions before he was called to his work at the U.S. State Department by Secretary of State John Kerry. “I want to be a faithful disciple,” he says, “wherever I end up.”

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Hopeful Waiting: Advent and Vocation

Year after year, the academic calendar brings the gift of a rhythmic return to the same moments. If it’s mid-December, then I’m invariably scraping through exam week while ignoring the Christmas cards that should have been in the mail two days ago. As much as this month is about wanting to wind up the current semester, however, it also involves looking ahead. Just this week, I finalized—belatedly and guiltily—the book order for one of my spring classes. Doing so brought a familiar surge of excitement and anticipation. I have taught this class several times, but each new section offers the opportunity to tinker, improve, and of course meet new students. As I clicked “submit” on that book order, I was struck by the similarity between the renewal promised by the academic calendar and that embedded in the liturgical calendar. At this time of year, both calendars ask us to look ahead with hope. And that regular return of hopeful expectation, founded in students’ academic experience, can be a powerful vocational resource.

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Teaching Trans Vocation

In the final chapter of Leslie Feinberg‘s 1993 novel, Stone Butch Blues, Jess Goldberg, the novel’s trans protagonist, attends a lesbian and gay political rally in New York City. As Jess listens to the speakers testify to the oppression they have experienced, she realizes, “This is what courage is. It’s not just living through the nightmare, it’s doing something with it afterward. It’s being brave enough to talk about it to other people. It’s trying to organize to change things.” This encounter sparks Jess’s queer calling, one that allows students who read the novel to see their gender and sexual identities as playing important roles in the discernment of their vocations.

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Thema Bryant on Finding Home

The most recent episode of NetVUE’s podcast series Callings features Thema Bryant, president-elect of the American Psychological Association. Thema is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Los Angeles; a professor at Pepperdine University, where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Lab, and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The American Psychological Association awarded her the Emerging Leader of Women in Psychology Award in 2007 for her scholarship and clinical work on violence against women, and recognized her for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest in 2013. Her most recent book is Home Coming: Overcome Fear and Trauma to Reclaim Your Whole Authentic Self. She also hosts The Home Coming Podcast.

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