As I begin to focus some attention toward the next school year and addressing 1st year students in our survey of the Bible class, where we inevitably have some good conversations about “vocation,” I realize that John Stackhouse’s 7th chp, on Vocation, has some stuff I have to mull over some more … and more. (See his Making the Best of It.)
He divides Vocation into three big sections: Human, Christian, and Time. I want today to see what you think of Vocation and our responsibilities as Humans. He divides this up — hey, he’s a philosopher and they analyze their analyses — into “all” and “some groups” and “individuals.”
But first, there are three options for us on work and vocation: to say work is vocation, and this has tended toward the “religious” being the singular vocation, to say work is not vocation, that only what is demonstrably Christian is vocation, and into part of our vocation is work. He’s with the 3d view, and I agree.
His big category is that all vocation has one big measure: does it produce and contribute to Shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace in this world” but he means peace with God, self, others, and the world.
We are to be in the vanguard as Christians in contributing toward peace. Work is part of how God blesses us — of how God wants us to bless the world.
We all organize ourselves into groups and groups are part of the Shalom work of God. One of the elements of Stackhouse I like is his curmudgeonly approach to ideas that everyone llikes to repeat. Here’s one of his points:
“One of the great useless emphases of our time … is the championing of community over individualism, as if the former is good and the latter bad…. Instead, we should conclude simply that individuality and community are both basic to human life, and in our present era, which follows the Fall and precedes the Second Coming, they display both benign and malign characteristics” (228). Well and good … but we’ve got a Western world and church run amok with individualism. Do you agree?
And a really good point he makes is that there is a species-specific nature of groups and they should pursue Shalom the way that group should: “It is a mark of ethical confusion in our time … that hospitals are being run as businesses, universities are being run as businesses, governments are being run as businesses, and even churches are being run as businesses” (230). They should, he contends, do the work they are designed to do. Any thoughts?
And Individuals: “We each therefore should seek to understand ourselves as thoroughly as possible in order to become the best version of ourselves that we can and make the best contribution we can” (233).