The “big questions” of vocation

The Faith and Work channel at Patheos is sponsoring a symposium with other blogs interested in the subject.  That would have to include us at the Cranach institute, since one of the major themes here is the doctrine of vocation.  The topic is the “big questions” of vocation, as raised by the quotations posted here.  Interestingly, the writers quoted are all from the Roman Catholic tradition, but I think the struggles they are articulate are common to evangelicals and other Protestants as well.  Here we can see just how helpful Luther’s distinctive take on vocation really is.

Read the quotations, read my thoughts on them after the jump, then join in on the discussion, both here and on the other participating blogs. [Read more...]

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...]


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