14 January 2008

That vocation thing

Among the most recent batch of books to arrive on our doorstep was Gilbert Meilaender's The Freedom of a Christian: Grace, Vocation, and the Meaning of our Humanity. Perhaps because his arms are longer, or perhaps because I'm moving a little slower in the third tri, my husband got his hands on it first. But he has abided by the household rule of sharing choice tidbits.

So these excerpts are all I've read of the book so far, but they caught my attention, so I'll go ahead and post them. (Just don't ask me for more context yet.)

"A vocation exacts a price, and not all can pay it. Even though it may seem to draw us, its point is not happiness. It is, as C.S. Lewis notes, the nature of vocation to appear simultaneously both as desire and as duty. 'To follow the vocation does not mean happiness; but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow'" (105).

This resonating with anyone else?!


"Do you want to know what is your vocation? Then the first question to ask is not, "What do I want to do with my life?" It is not as if I first come to know myself and then choose a vocation that fulfills and satisfies me. For it is only by hearing and answering the divine summons, by participating in my calling, that I can come to know who I am. We are not who we think we are; we are who God calls us to be" (106).


"The story of Jesus's own obedience makes it clear that what looks like an annihilation of the self may, in fact, be its enlargement. We flourish as we answer obediently God's call" (108-109).

I found this last to be especially meaningful, as I've lately been looking into the Scriptural perspective on the whole idea of "self-esteem"/pride in all its manifestations, both subtle and overt. Seems pretty clear: if we're navel-gazing, we're missing it, completely. Our life is found in the death of self: baptized into Christ's death, we rise from the waters in His life! Apart from Christ, we have no life. What looks like the annihilation of self (e.g., CSPP) is the annihilation of self--and the only means to life.

Anyway. Nothing y'all don't already know, but I wanted to share the quotes.


Rebekah said...

Great quotes, thanks. I was just marvelling again yesterday at how much my perspective has changed on . . . well, basically everything (this was brought on by the delivery of some return address labels reading, "Rev and Mrs Husband's Name," and I was glad they were printed that way!). I'd never have been able to think myself into this life. We just had to do it, and then I could learn how much contentment being Mrs. Somebody and living in his house full of his kids would bring. Hard as this all can be, at the end of the day I am completely sure that there is nothing more important I could be doing. I'd never have had that assurance with whatever vain pursuit I'd have found to occupy my time if we hadn't wandered into that fateful meeting with Mrs Gibbs. :D

Kelly said...

"This resonating with anyone else?!"

Me me me! : )

Reb. Mary said...

Yeah, funny how far I've come since the feminist-permeated grad school days when I had all this angst about taking my husband's name, being almost the only one to do so of those in my program who had bothered to get married. Wow, those folks would be aghast to see me now :) Too bad I didn't have my head on a bit straighter then...

Once again, ya can't beat Lewis for pithy insight. Every day may not be happy-clappy 'round here, but surely what deeper misery and dearth of meaning there would be if we did not follow!

R., don't think I knew it was a Gibbs thing that got you guys on the CSPP track. For us, it was actually a very good papist friend (very good papist and very good friend both), and then hearing from some confessional types like y'all too.

Gauntlets said...

Thank you indeed. I like the bit about the vocation drawing us yet not making us happy. Rev. Husband and I were just discussing this the other evening--about how we're both pretty new to this whole thing yet what with all the many long years of anticipation we're BORED. And grumpy. Well, I should really only speak for myself. I'm bored and grumpy. He puts up with me.

I never got to sit in on a Gibbs lecture; I wish I would have. Probably would have offered some focus to what ended up being bit of a fumble. Let's get her to write a book. Or maybe she already has?

Rebekah said...

The Gibbs connection is only peripheral--it was just one of those pro-life functions on campus where the Alcorn book was sitting inobtrusively on the corner of a table. Our understanding is they're NFP but not CSPP. We made that leg of the trip on our own (and were really relieved when we got back from vicarage to learn that the house of RM had made it too!).

Totally hear you on the boredom, Gauntlets. It was very hard to adjust from both of us having busy work/school schedules to him always having things going on and me . . . never--not to mention that in his line of work he deals with a lot of unhappy, stressful, and confidential things. Great for making you feel like the stupid and useless little wife who tries to solve every problem with a batch of cookies.

Reb. Mary said...

C'mon, now, let's not underestimate the power of those homemade cookies!

And how anyone can read Alcorn's booklet "Does the birth control pill cause abortions?" and continue merrily on their artificial-hormone-laden way is beyond me. (That's coming from someone who was actually hoping to continue in such oblivion. But God in His mercy did not allow it!)

Rebekah said...

Eeesh--that was the thing that was weirdest about the minor baby boom that went through our class: the people who heard all the same info and shrugged it off or didn't even care. I'm still puzzling over a few conversations I had with people who didn't get "converted." I know we we've really gone overboard with it, but . . . .

Gauntlets said...

Do either of you have a copy of this magical book? May I please borrow it?

Reb. Mary said...

Condensed version of Alcorn's booklet is available online:
I actually thought the whole thing was available online but couldn't find it just now and Boy II is howling wildly for me--if you skim Alcorn's site, www.epm.org, you might be able to find it there. Lots of other good stuff on the topic too.