“Family Vocation” giveaway

GoodReads is giving away five copies of Family Vocation:  God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood.  I wrote that book with my daughter Mary Moerbe.

It goes beyond God at Work, not just in exploring the family vocations in depth–important in itself, if we want to revitalize Christian marriage and parenting–but also in including material on vocation in general that I learned after publishing that earlier book.

All you do is click “Enter Giveaway” on the widget after the jump.  Five entrants will be randomly chosen.  If you are one of them, you will get the book in the mail.  The contest will go through the month of September.

[Read more…]

Scandinavian welfare state reform

As I reported from my recent sojourns in Scandinavia, the vaunted “welfare state” the Nordic states are known for is much more complex than we Americans realize, with the generous government benefits co-existing with extraordinarily free economies and a culture fixated on hard work and personal responsibility. (Might all of this be due to the Lutheran doctrine of vocation?)

Nima Sanandaji, the son of Swedish immigrants, has written a book on this subject, including a treatment of recent attempts to reform some of its dysfunctions, especially in the way it has sapped the initiative of immigrants who do not share the work-and-responsibility culture.  Sanandaji sums up his book in an essay excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

“Chariots of Fire” and the vocation of athletics

A rabbi writing in the Wall Street Journal offers reflections on Chariots of Fire, the 1981 movie about Olympic runners Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams.  The movie, of course, is about athletics as VOCATION.

Read an excerpt from the column after the jump, whereupon I offer some reflections about it, including the difference between Liddell’s Calvinist understanding of the vocation of an athlete and what a Lutheran view would add.

[Read more…]

Pope says most married people aren’t really married

Roman Catholicism famously doesn’t believe in divorce.  But it does believe in annulments, a procedure which determines that for one reason or another–immaturity, not knowing what they are getting into, etc.–a valid marriage never took place.

The implication is that many couples who had a church wedding and a marriage license, who have had children together, and who have lived their whole lives together are not really married.  I suppose this comes out if the couple wants to break up the marriage and, if they are Catholic, receive an annulment, but even if they stay together, they can never really know if they are married.

I would say that, from a Lutheran perspective,  this is another example of Roman Catholicism’s being not nearly sacramental enough.  Catholics believe that marriage is a sacrament, but the objective sacrament doesn’t make the marriage, just the subjective experience of long ago when they first became married.  Similarly, Catholics can’t really know if they have been saved, even though they have been baptized, received Holy Communion, etc.

This is also an example of legalism in religion, in which laws that are too difficult to fulfill are, in practice, weakened by creating technicalities and loopholes that make it easier to accomplish while defeating the whole purpose of the original law.  (If you don’t believe in divorce because marriage is a sacrament and thus permanent, don’t have annulments either!  These are just divorces by another name, even though they “save the appearances” of permanent marriage by declaring that a marriage never happened, though at the expense of your whole sacramental theology.)

Anyway, the Pope last week said that, because of the lack of commitment, “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null.”  His handlers later edited the original transcript to change “the great majority” to “some,” but still. . . .If so many people who have gotten married are really just living together, committing fornication and their children illegitimate (to use other Catholic categories), then the line between wedlock and cohabitation is fatally blurred.  If marriage, however, is a VOCATION, a calling from God, it’s a different story. [Read more…]

Millennials and vocation

Barna has done a study of the millennial generation’s attitude towards work.  Most do not see their careers as central to their identities (unlike Baby Boomers).  Rather, their jobs are there to fund their personal interests.  And yet, Millennial Christians are more likely than Baby Boomers to see their work in terms of “calling” (a.k.a. “vocation”).

The study discloses many fascinating paradoxes.  The purpose of vocation–namely, loving and serving one’s neighbor (not oneself)–seems to be somewhat missing.  As is the sense that vocation exists in the here and now, that whoever your neighbors are now defines your vocation.  “Calling” is something they hope for in the future.  Millennials do have a strong emphasis on wanting marriage and family, which is also a vocation, in addition to just work.  But still, I give them credit. [Read more…]

Indifference

Jake Meador, a thoughtful young evangelical, reflects on monasticism and says that one thing we can learn from that practice is the virtue–yes, the virtue–of indifference. [Read more…]