“Bring to his work a mighty heart”

In observance of today’s holiday, the Daily Oklahoman printed excerpts of a Memorial Day address by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in 1889, when the memory of the Civil War was still fresh.  You’ve got to read this speech.  It features an eloquence and a depth of sensibility that we almost never hear today, certainly not from politicians or other public figures.

He talks about the honored dead, of course, but he also makes applications about what the generations that follow can learn from them and from observing Memorial Day.

I give a brief sample after the jump, but please click the link and read the whole thing. [Read more…]

“To get to you, they’d have to go past us”

Most military recruiting ads lately have had a self-help theme (“be all that you can be”) or have encouraged enlistment for all of the job training you would get. But this ad, shown after the jump, invokes the purpose of military service. And it reminds us why we should all be grateful for those in military vocations–particularly those who laid down their lives for their neighbors–on this Memorial Day. [Read more…]

Vocation and Commencement Addresses

Mollie Hemingway has a great piece in the Federalist about vocation as a theme in commencement addresses.  So many of them miss the point of what vocation actually is.  But she corrects that, discussing three high-profile commencement speeches in light of the doctrine of vocation.  She even quotes yours truly. [Read more…]

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…]