Is being a tightrope walker a Christian vocation?

Nick Wallenda is the tightrope walker who recently walked on a wire–blindfolded–between two skyscrapers in Chicago.  He is a Christian and often talks about his faith, praying before his stunts (which have included walking across the Grand Canyon and the Niagra Falls) and calling on Christ for help.  So is being a tightrope walker a Christian vocation?

David Murray has an interesting discussion about this, concluding that, no, it is not, on the grounds that it does not follow four criteria that he says are necessary for a true Christian vocation.  I don’t think I agree.  I suppose part of it is that he is articulating a Reformed view of vocation, which is not quite the same as the Lutheran one, which I hold to.   And yet, though I’m not sure that these are the right criteria to evaluate a calling,  I’m thinking that Wallenda does, in fact, meet them.   At any rate, I tend to think that the origin of such a wild and strange and wonder-inspiring talent could only come from God.  When I see or hear about something so extraordinary and someone so fearless, I do glorify God.  A tightrope walker does love and serve his neighbors by filling them with awe.

What do you think? [Read more...]

Using our military to fight Ebola

Some 1,000 American troops have been sent to Africa to help in the fight against Ebola.  Plans are to send as many as 3,900.  As with others who care for Ebola patients, these military men and women risk catching the disease themselves.  And then they will come home.   So the Pentagon is requiring all troops that have been part of this mission to be put into a 21-day quarantine upon their return.

This is a commendable duty on the part of the servicemen and women who are risking their lives–as they do in so many other ways–to protect others.  And yet, is this a proper task for our military?  They are trained to fight human enemies, not viral ones.  I suppose many of those sent over have medical specialties, but still, this seems an odd use of our military might.  Is this a violation of vocation?  Also,  the danger to them and to those they return to is considerable.  Again, I honor these men and women, and I commend our country’s efforts to battle the disease in Africa, and maybe the military is the only manpower that can be easily accessed for the job.  But still. . . .What do you think? [Read more...]

Nurse in haz-mat gear catches Ebola

A Dallas nurse who cared for Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, who died of the affliction, has been diagnosed as having the disease.  And yet she was wearing full protective gear.  Doctors are insisting that she must have violated the protocols somehow, though they can’t say how.  But could it be that Ebola is easier to catch than we are being told?  And if caregivers are at the greatest risk of catching this plague, won’t that make them hesitant to offer treatment?

This is a true test of vocation.  We should pray for and honor the medical professionals who are putting their lives on the line in what the World Health Organization is calling “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.” [Read more...]

Vocation and Epistemology

More and more Christians are discovering, or re-discovering, the doctrine of vocation, and the richness of that teaching means that vocation can illuminate countless dimensions of life.  Now the noted Christian philosopher John Stackhouse has written a book entitled Need to Know:  Vocation as the Heart of Christian Epistemology (that last word referring to the philosophy of knowledge–how we know what we know, how we know that we know, etc., etc.).   Excerpts from a review after the jump. [Read more...]

Lateral military enlistments?

The pattern for enlisting in the military is to sign up in your 20′s, then, if you want to make a career of it, keep rising in the ranks until you retire after 20 or 30 years.  The military only hires people, as it were, at entry level positions.  But what if you could enlist when you are older?  What if you could could come into the service with a rank commensurate with your experience and expertise?  Renee J. Squier proposes this kind of “lateral enlistment.” [Read more...]

Luther on changing a baby’s diaper (rerun)

[Mollie Hemingway's quotation from Luther's "The Estate of Marriage" (1522) reminded me that I blogged on that sermon in 2007, several platforms ago.  So I thought I would rerun it.]

In working on an article about vocation, I was looking for the source of Luther’s famous saying about the holiness of changing diapers. I found his sermon “The Estate of Marriage” (1522) posted online here. A priceless excerpt:

Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? 0 you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful. carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.” [Read more...]


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