Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Course Correction?

There appears to be a growing consensus that online dating tools are coming up short in the the one area that matters most: true love.  While certainly many people are currently enjoying wonderful relationships consummated initially via the Internet, the mystique of love remains. Isn't true love supposed to transcend personality differences making the impossible impossible? After completing a lengthy questionnaire gauging your tolerance for disco music and dirty laundry, the web services set you up with any number of people who you could get along with just fine. And, as it turns out, they're all looking for a significant relationship! It's just too easy.
World Magazine recently featured the issue of Christian vocation and calling. "Serving a Higher Purpose" reviewed some common ground in reformed Presbyterian circles while offering fresh commentary on one of the more angst ridden issues in my life and many others. (See http://www.worldmag.com/archives/2010-12-04)
The classic reformation inspired understanding of calling is that God is glorified through our vocations, not in spite of them. We are called to use our gifts in the world to their greatest potential. The baker, plumber, and street sweeper can all be honoring to God by performing the duties of their vocation to the fullest.
In the reformed Christian family, children are thus taught to explore their gifts and then make a judgment on vocation based on these gifts and their passions and interests. Unfortunately, ones God-given gifts are not always obvious. Once discovered, it isn't always apparent how they match up with current employment options and jobs. Of course, a thoroughly rounded education and incredible exposure to the world via good books, travel, media, and the Internet have expanded interests exponentially. In the midst of what becomes a quagmire of self-searching various career guides and life path programs have popped up touting clear headed answers on what you would be best at.   
I'd like to propose that our current concept of vocation has been corrupted by individualism. Vocation is used as an excuse to pursue personal interests rather than the needs of the family, church, or society. With such a wide menu of vocational offerings, there is a respectable job for every Christian vice.  
What if Christians are supposed to be pursuing "high impact" vocations? We should stop fooling ourselves that being a great IT Helpdesk agent is the same as being a great medical researcher.
What if vocation is not about me, but about what the world needs and what God wants for the world? Yes, we do all need good plumbers in our lives. But they don't need to be Christians.
What if vocation is not what comes most easily, but what may be actually quite hard? We should stop trolling the waters for a job that is "the right fit" and admit to ourselves what every Olympic athlete knows: you become great by working hard, by practicing. 
Our "personality profiles" and "career maps" have become sacrosanct. But I suspect that there are many of you that deep inside know that "serving a higher purpose" is much more meaningful than a 40 question questionnaire and a job that is nominally challenging, a little bit interesting, and pays the bills.

An Interesting Map

The northeast will shed congressional seat while the South and Southwest pick up seats in 2011, based on the U.S. Census data recorded this year. The political implications are interesting. While the south is a stronger Republican region, it is likely that a good portion of that population growth is due to immigration (hispanics). The hispanic vote trends Democrat, although by no means a lock.
More generally, I am under the impression that regional differences are the single most overlooked and important factor in U.S. politics.