Moving day at the White House

512px-White_House_WashingtonThe White House staff has five hours to move out the former president and his family, with all of their furniture and belongings and preferred decor, and to move in the new residents.

The logistics of this tightly choreographed operation are rather amazing.  Professional movers can haul the furniture to the door, but they can’t go inside, so carrying it all and staging it perfectly is a job for White House staffers.

So a salute to the 90 “blue collar” members of the White House Staff as they carry out their vocations!

After the jump, a step-by-step description of how they pull off this operation.

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The world’s favorite Bible verses

phone-1052021_640Do you have the Bible app YouVersion on your phone?  Over 255 million people from around the world do.  It gives the entire Bible in over 1500 versions and in over 1,000 languages.  (This was originally the project of a church here in Oklahoma.)

The technology gives the YouVersion people lots of data.  They can tell what Bible passages are the most highlighted, bookmarked, and shared with others.  With those criteria, guess what the world’s favorite Bible passage is.  See the answer after the jump.

The link also gives the favorite Bible passages of 88 different countries.  What can you tell about them or about the state of Christianity on the basis of that Bible verse?

UPDATE:  Notice how the world’s favorite Bible verse is about being “called”; that is, it is about vocation!

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More misunderstanding of vocation

photo-1474649107449-ea4f014b7e9f_optFrederich Buechner is a novelist and writer that I really appreciate, but his definition of vocation is causing confusion.  He said that your vocation is “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”  Great words with some good applications, but to say this describes vocation contributes to the notion that vocation is something special, tied to self-fulfillment, and something better than ordinary “jobs.”

So now Jo Swinney, thinking of that definition, says, writing for Christian Today (a British site not to be confused with Christianity Today), that “the idea of vocation can be deeply problematic.”

Anyone, of any tradition, who writes about vocation needs to start with the great theologian of vocation:  Martin Luther.  According to him, vocation is God’s calling to love and serve our neighbors in the tasks and relationships that He gives us.  Also, our “jobs” are only one facet of our vocations and probably not the most important:  we also have callings in the family, the church, and the society.  And our vocations are not just where we find our fulfillment but also where we bear our crosses.

Read the criticisms of vocation after the jump, and then read my further thoughts on the matter. [Read more…]

Actors vs. Trump

Meryl_Streep_At_The_2014_SAG_Awards_(12024455556)_(cropped)Meryl Streep took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes to give a blistering speech against president-elect Donald Trump.  See Mollie Hemingway’s critique of her speech.

Now actors have the same right as all other citizens to criticize their public officials.  This, along with other recent “public service” spots featuring actors and their political causes, does raise another issue:  acting outside of one’s vocation.
Actors have the vocation of effectively speaking lines written by someone else.  (It has always bothered me that actors get all of the attention in Hollywood, while those who write the scripts that they recite remain largely unknown by the public.)  They generally have no particular expertise in other areas, yet they regularly testify at Congressional hearings on a wide range of non-acting topics. [Read more…]

Martin Scorsese on vocation

Martin_Scorsese_by_David_ShankboneRenowned film director Martin Scorsese talks about vocation in a recent interview.  He didn’t make it through seminary but started to realize that you don’t have to be a priest to have a vocation.

I have noticed more and more Catholics who have started understanding vocation in Lutheran terms.

Scorsese also discusses his new film Silence, based on Shusaku Endo’s classic novel about the persecution of Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the 17th century.  Currently in limited release, the movie is being hailed by some of those who have seen it as one of the truly great Christian films.  If you have seen it, please report.

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What you do to your neighbor you do to Christ

Christian_Krohg_-_Mother_and_Child_-_Google_Art_ProjectIt still being Christmas–there are twelve days of it, remember–we can still contemplate the inexhaustible topic of God’s incarnation.  After the jump, read an excerpt from one of Luther’s Christmas sermons, which our pastor quoted in his Christmas Eve message.  The passage deals both with Christmas and vocation–that is, our calling to love and serve our neighbors in our various tasks and relationships.

To those who think that they would have shown kindness to the Christ child and His parents, unlike the residents of Bethlehem, Luther says, “Why don’t you do it now” by showing kindness to other needy children and their parents?

“What you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.”
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