Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Vocation - A broader view

Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite authors, says that our calling is where the world's need and our deep gladness meet. What refreshing contrast from the misrepresentation of calling offered in the Pietist framework. One of the unfortunate consequences of the Pietist movement was the tendency to split reality into two fields, much like Plato, with the result that 'spiritual work' was deemed a higher and more satisfactory calling than mere 'physical work'. There are at least two tragedies in this line of thinking:

1. It steals God given dignity from those who work their craft well, be it law, construction, medicine, the arts, engineering, or any other endeavor. "The earth is Lord's" we are told in the Bible, and because of this all things related to the earth are worthy of our best work, so that both our life, the life of the community, and the testimony of creation can be strengthened.

2. The natural reaction to the first point, is that some who are in such 'physical vocations' begin to divide their own life into meaningful (avocation) and that which I do to make meaning in order to support the meaningful part (my vocation, stuck as it is in the mundane physical world). This divided field of reality mirrors Plato's error, and can only lead to unsatifactory results in the heart of the worker.

Here's a better way. One the glorious things about the Christian life is it's spaciousness. We are invited to contribute to the well being of the whole earth, and so anything that contributes to making our world more beautiful, or more just, or contributes to the healing of bodies or souls, all of it becomes calling - all of it can be vocation worthy of worship.

One of the best stories ever written to articulate this is the true story about the Man who Planted Trees. Enjoy it!


At 19/6/05 23:29, Anonymous Dave said...

Good story. Something to savor. Thanks Richard.

At 20/6/05 21:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to the tendency to think that 'spiritual work' is deemed a higher and more satisfactory calling than mere 'physical work' - I think that A.W. Tozer addresses that very issue quite completely in "The Pursuit of God". He makes it clear that this tendency is not correct. For anyone who has not read this book, it is worth your while.


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