Day Jobs

Scot McKnight has a post from an Australian source on the Day Jobs of 20 Famous Writers.  Most of these seem to be what the writers were doing before they were able to make a living just from their writing.  I could list more examples of day jobs that writers held even after they became successful:  Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive; Geoffrey Chaucer and Nathaniel Hawthorne were both customs officials; countless writers today are teachers or pastors or manual laborers.

Day jobs are not just for authors.  Artists and musicians often support themselves primarily by teaching.

The fact is, it’s hard to make a living by writing or artistic pursuits.  That’s the nature of those particular callings.

We’ve got to remember that the doctrine of vocation is NOT primarily about making a living, despite the secular uses of that term.   It’s mainly about the various neighbors that God puts into your life and calls you to love and serve. [Read more…]

The vocation of Duke Ellington

Jazz great Duke Ellington knew where his talent and opportunities came from.  King’s College president Gregory Alan Thornbury has a great story about Duke Ellington and vocation.   [Read more…]

Motherhood as a sacred vocation

For a good Mother’s Day meditation, read R. J. Grunewald’s piece from last year, “The Vocation of Motherhood,”  quoted after the jump.  I say that not because he quotes me but because motherhood really is a sacred calling.

God really does work through mothers to create new immortal souls and to care for, nurture, and shape them.  Mothers love and serve their neighbors–their children–in a way that is especially important and holy.  This is true even when mothers have to bear the cross in their vocation–the difficulties, the exhaustion, the frustrations, and the heartbreak that also characterize motherhood.   [Read more…]

What the Bible says to writers

My daughter Mary Moerbe picks up on my mini-series on what she calls “passages tucked away in plain sight” that speak to artists, musicians, and scientists.  She has a post about what the Bible (specifically, the Book of Psalms) says about the vocation of writing.  She picks up on these:

 “Open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15)

“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe” (Psalm 45: 1).

 

[Read more…]

What the Bible says to scientists

I’ve been reading the Psalms and I keep coming across texts that I’ve usually skimmed over but that speak in a startlingly direct way to contemporary questions.  I’ve blogged about some that deal with aesthetic issues and with artists.  Here is one that deals with scientists:

Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)

A person takes “delight in” something that God has made; that is, some aspect of the physical world or facet of existence.  That delight leads to study, to learning more and more about this work of the Lord.

A person may find delight in animals, rocks, the human immune system, stars, sub-atomic particles.  Or, by extension, anything else.   This is also a text for scholars of every kind.

It’s interesting to note that “delight” is a legitimate factor in finding one’s vocation. [Read more…]

“I will make melody with all my being”

Still more from the Bible on the arts from passages I’ve always skimmed over!  In the first verse of Psalm 108, a psalm of David, we read “I will sing and make melody with all my being!”

So singing and making melody (I suppose that would include composing) are done with “all” the artists’ “being.”  Creating a work of art takes everything that the artist is.  Imagination, yes, but also the intellect, all of the artist’s memories, beliefs, personality.

The literal rendition of those Hebrew words is “my glory.”  I suppose that would include the artist’s talents and gifts.  But the point seems to be that the creation (“I will. . .make melody”) or performance (“I will sing”) of a work of art is a holistic effort on the part of the artist, rather than the exertion of a single faculty.

Does such close reading of a text violate the Law/Gospel hermeneutic?  Not at all!  This word is Law to an artist, who is often tempted to work superficially, tossing off something just for commercial reasons, being fake, insincere, and inauthentic, imitating someone else for fashion’s sake rather than being true to oneself as an artist.

[Read more…]


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