Vocation

  • Small Talk

    Our editor-in-chief looks at leisure, literature, and the PM's painted birthday suit.

    Graduation season has just concluded and wisdom, conventional or otherwise, was dispensed by commencement speakers across the land and around the world. Tufts University made an excellent choice in Eric Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL and philanthropi...

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  • False Hopes and Dreams

    While the majority of the 211 players drafted will not make the big stage, a few will make an impact and maybe a handful will play a game that will allow them to be a part of the NHL elite. Does this small probability of success mean that the players shouldn't even try or that they should give up because they are unlikely to be the best, to be special?

    This past Friday night, hundreds of young men with natural talent and physical prowess descended upon the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA, hoping and praying they would hear their names announced by a National Hockey League team in the 2012 NHL draft...

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  • Graduation Wishes

    Wellesley High School English teacher You've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. ... You've been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored....Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet....And now you've conquered high school....But do not get the idea you're anything special. Because you're not.Talk show debate has reduced McCullough's antidote to an alternate reduction. "Make the most out of life by forgetting about yourself and serving others." With due respect, whatever merits McCullough's talk may have had, this alternative doesn't really cut it either. And neither does the religious version of graduation reductionism sometimes heard in Christian education settings. "Pray and trust God and He will make all things go well for you." Graduates deserve something more than unnuanced slogans.

    This blog is the substance of the graduation address given at Oxford Reformed Christian School last evening.

    Wellesley High School English teacher

    ...

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  • Taking the Heidelberg Catechism to Work

    But what does it mean to be a witness of Christ? Where do we look for evidence of this kind of witness?

    Peter Stockland's excellent blog this week reminds us that "we are called to engage in the political life of our country not to win but to witness. We are called as witnesses o...

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  • Healthy, Wealthy, Respawning

    The discussion was centered on the digital economy, and specifically the gaming industry. Topics included women in video games, why video games are successful, and how video games can be used in conjunction with the health industry. The talk piqued my interest, as I often enjoy the pleasure of playing video games.

    Last week I ventured out of the shackles of my internship and went on a field trip into the fabled land of Research in Motion (RIM), OpenText, and Wilfrid Laurier University. Congress 2012 of the Hu...

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  • Grab your Bag. It's On.

    His message is this: "As you engage globally, the in-broken Kingdom of God resides in you through Jesus. And if you live His commands, you will bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He will build it." Three simple points follow.

    So says Southwest Airlines, and so said Chris Seiple in his February address, "...

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  • God for Artists and Artists for God: Part 3

    We mustn't understand art simply as expression. This is how it becomes instrumental or utilitarian. Indeed, expression, it seems to me, is too restrictive and inappropriate a category to ground art from a Christian standpoint. Not to mention, too whimsical a characteristic to ascribe to art in general.

    (Parts one and two of this series can be found here and here, respectively.)...

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  • Christian Labour as Competitive Advantage

    Think about religion: God is back, say the pundits, and there is more than enough evidence to prove it. But three questions immediately follow: 1) how? 2) where?, and 3) is it a good thing?

    There are a lot of good reasons to be a Christian labour union, none of which are tied to being competitive or being efficient. But I think two overlapping trends in the next decade(s) will actually turn what has been a liability—a religious designation—int...

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  • God for Artists and Artists for God: Part 2

    I believe there are artists who are gifted and called by God. Just as pastors, technicians, educators, engineers, and athletes are called to contribute in their unique way to God's kingdom, so are artists. There are those who can taste, smell, see, hear, and feel things others of us can't. They have the insight and skill to clarify when things are confused, as well as the ambidexterity and courage to confuse things that seem clear.

    In the first part of this series on "God for Artists and Artists for God" I suggested that the nature and purpose of art and the vocation of the artist is one that is give...

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  • God for Artists and Artists for God

    Or, so it seems for much of society, and for much of the church. It seems that art is expression, but science is knowledge—expression is fun and all, and occasionally worthy of attention or mention, but knowledge is worthy of recognition and funding. Your mother smiles when you tell her you want to be a doctor; she asks questions when you tell her you want to be an poet.

    We don't prize artists like we prize scientists.

    Or, so it seems for much of society, and for much of the church. It seems that art is expression, but science is knowledge—expression is fun and all, and occasionally worthy of attention or mention, bu...

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  • The Vanity of Foxes

    Last fall, a stone's throw from Parliament Hill, Father Raymond de Souza made a case that launching journals, and writing and editing them, is the work of foxes. He didn't say foxes. But he did say it "requires a certain boldness of spirit. Another word for that is vanity. You can't be a columnist without being a little bit vain.

    Atop my bookshelf sits a stuffed hedgehog, in perpetual birthday euphoria, named Archilochus. Among the more fecund maxims of his namesake—a Greek poet of the seventh century B.C.—is the now famous: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big...

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  • What the Monks of Tibhirine Teach Us about Faith and Public Life

    The film depicts the life of eight Trappist monks at Our Lady of the Atlas monastery in Algeria during Algeria's civil war in the 1990s. Unlike Into Great Silence—another excellent film portraying the lives of monks—Of Gods and Men focuses not merely on the day-to-day practices, routines, and disciplines of the monastery, but on how such routines can be maintained in the face of a deadly, and very real, threat of Islamic terrorists and the violence of war. Of Gods and Men is a violent film, but it is so good because the conflict—the seed of drama—is not one between men with guns, but within the hearts of men who self-consciously exist to love God and love their neighbours, and they do so within an institution dedicated to that task. The film's greatest struggle is fought both within the hearts of the brothers and among them. In the face of terrible violence, violence which threatened their lives, the question "do we stay or do we go?" is more compelling than any showdown between snarling men with loaded .44 magnums.

    Faithful presence. Those two words returned to my mind again and again as I reflected on the movie Of Gods and Men.

    The film depicts the life of eight Trappist monks at Our Lady of t...

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  • That Pesky Third Bit

    First: someone helpfully pointed out that this neatly aligns with that very popular quote from Frederich Buechner: "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." A worthy thing to keep in mind.

    Following on from my blog post last week—which seems to have struck quite a nerve, judging from the feedback I got (which showed that many, many people are grappling with these vocati...

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  • Vocation Takes Patience

    Whether this is because Millennials insist on instant results, or because they have been proselytized to pursue their dreams, Segovia's point is a good one. He says in his final paragraph: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    I read an interesting blog post by Oliver Segovia on the Harvard Business Review last week: "To Find Happiness, Forget About Passion." Segovia recounts the story of a p...

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  • The building of Christian skills

    The wisdom, not surprisingly, comes from Milton himself, who in his prudent, sagacious, northern Alberta farm-bred manner, cautions against jumping up too fast to follow predictions of what career skills will be most needed in the economy to come. As such, he is far more than the cliché of the modern day multi-tasker, or what used to be called the Renaissance Man. He is the active refutation of the error of the Google-generated Top 10 Skills Lists he wrote yesterday. He is the manifestation of the reality that there is no such thing as 'a skill' anywhere in the world, despite a world that persists in the delusion that skill is singular.

    Cardus colleague Milton Friesen's blog post yesterday encapsulates the wisdom and the error of the world.

    The wisdom, not surprisingly, comes from Milt...

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  • What We Love

    As we discussed, we make cultural artifacts (like objects and institutions) in response to human needs, wants, and desires. And we surround and associate ourselves with those same things, as much as we can, almost unconsciously (something I've been thinking about as I've read recent guest entries on Gideon Strauss's blog, and then Becky Talbot's lovely piece on The Curator today).

    For the past week or so, my students and I have been discussing the "humans as lovers" philosophical anthropology (using James K.A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom as our guide). The class has focused mainly on how cultures develop and change, and this ...

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  • Digging In

    A few hours after class on Monday, I got an email from a student. I have a question, she said, that I wanted to ask when I was in class, but we ran out of time: What kind of person do you think actually does end up transforming culture? And, furthermore, what do people who make a difference in the world have in common? .

    As I mentioned last week, my students and I have been pondering the different ways Christians across time and space have viewed culture and their place in it. On Monday we tied it up by t...

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  • Seamless Garments

    Which makes it all the more important to look for a bit of healthy roughage in his speeches. Amidst all the laudatory cream of that eulogy, this stood out for me:

    Stephen Lewis is one of those people who, if we had to live off of words, would subsist on a diet comprised mainly of adjectives and adverbs. His speech is attractive, but it...

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  • Fruitfulness

    I'm a new student once again, having been accepted into the latest creative nonfiction cohort. Ahead is a two-year road of residencies and sending thick packets of creative work and annotations and papers to my mentors, and I'm relishing it, albeit with a gleam of trepidation in my eager eye. But that's not what I'm writing about here—plenty of time for that later.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the first of five ten-day residencies that are part of the low-residency M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific Universit...

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  • Celebrating the Essay as Public Good

    The seed for this piece comes from reading Geoffrey Kurtz's review essay of George Scialabba's What are Intellectuals Good For? Sciaballa's book seems to be a lament regarding the diminished place that public intellectuals have in society. Scialabba argues that regrettably, the liberal arts approach of the public intellectual is being replaced.

    If you dislike self-serving arguments, don't read this.

    The seed for this piece comes from reading Geoffrey Kurtz's review essay of George...

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  • Save Us, Sex Pistols

    "When we were kids, we were pretty vacant—and we didn't care," he said. "The difference with these kids is they're pretty vacant—and they don't know." Nagata's post reportedly had drawn 100,000 views by yesterday, generated endless chitter, and got him some minor shine time with CBC, HuffPost Canada and the Globe and Mail.

    One of the top three reporters I've ever worked with gave me the enduring summary sentence for the new generation arriving in the newsroom.

    "When we were kids, we were pretty vacant—and we didn't care," he said. "The difference with these kids is the...

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  • Politics with a Long-Term View

    However, as I was listening live to Mr. Day last Thursday, I began wondering about what really constitutes the long run in politics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    John Maynard Keynes famously defended government intervention in the economy, preferring the short-term advantage over the long-term cost. He rationalized that "in the long run, we are all dead." In his keynote to last week's Conservative Policy Convention ...

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