Callings, (Post Christian World 1 of 2)

Simone Weil lived from 1909 to 1943 and joined the Resistance during WWII when Germany occupied France. She grew up as a Jew, but mystical experiences brought her close to Catholicism. In her essay, reflections on the right use of school studies with a view to the love of God, for a group of Catholic schoolchildren she explains how “it is the highest part of the attention only which makes contact with God, when prayer is intense and pure enough for such a contact to be established; but the whole attention is turned towards God” (Callings, p. 400). And our calling is for our souls to grow closer towards God. Weil goes on to explain how the attention needed for prayer is beneficial when used on school studies which in turn benefits attention in prayer.

Weil’s emphasis on attention is a great reminder for Christians today, for in a world full of distraction it is easy for us to get caught up in all the chaos and our prayer life suffers because of it. Weil’s reminds us that we need to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). The attention she speaks of in her essay is an intense and solemn concentration, and in todays society that is not easy to achieve. With so many distractions in our lives we often forget to make time for deep prayer, to have a conversation with God in which we are listen for Him.  When we still ourselves and listen for God, His will for us is reviled.

In third grade I was diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, so attention and concentration are not my strongest qualities. So, Weil’s philosophy on applying the same attention to school work as prayer is inapplicable to me. For, with ADHD I cannot sit still in silence for one hours working on one problem, if I were do to so I would fail and would not be able to concentrate. Because the way my brain is wired I always having to be physically doing something or my brain has have something to keep it active, like having more than one think to think about. So that makes prayer challenging for me, especially since I get distracted rather easily. However, Weil’s philosophy can apply to me for if I practice concentration and attention on my school work then it will make using them for prayer easier. I need my prayer life to improve, because right now it is weak and I feel lost. I pray for God for guidance but I do not think I am paying God enough attention to hear His answers. God can overcome anything and everything, He can overcome my ADHD, I just need to give Him my attention so he can do it.

 

Concovation, Live Generously

Brad Hewitt, the CEO of Thriven,t came to Concordia University, St. Paul on Wednesday, March 21. Students and faculty members came to hear him speak. His short lecture was on the meaning of the motto “Live Generously.” He explained that it is not about how we use money, but the mindset we have about money that allows us to live generously.

In his talk Brad Hewitt explained that when we have the proper mindset about money, then we are fulfilling our call from God; because money does not and should not be an obstacle to vocation. Money does not measure our success in life, because when we depend on money, we will always be unsatisfied. So, we must depend on God and we will find peace and comfort in Him. And when we depend on God, our money will be used properly to not only provide for our earthly needs, but also provide for the needs of others.

Attending this convocation gave me some of the tools I need to serve God as a computer scientist; because I have always known that I can serve God through my interactions with others, but I have always been unsure about how we serve God with money. Growing up in the church, I was taught that we need to tithe, to give 10% back to the church. Tithing alone is not enough to serve God. If more money can been given to the church or other organizations, then it should be. Money should be used to serve and benefit others just as our talents. Computer scientists are know to have an annual income of over $100,000, and I did not choose computer science because of the money. I choose it because I know I can be of benefit to others with. And after the convocation, I feel more prepared to serve God in every aspect of my life.

Callings Blog, Reformation (2 of 2)

George Herbert’s poem The Collar describes the conflicts he faced in order to accept his calling. During the time of George Herbert England had declared its own denomination, The Church of England. Within the Church of England Herbert had the potential to hold a position of high authority, but he choose to become a pastor of a small church in the country. Herbert struggled with accepting his calling from God, which is made evident in the poem. In the first half of the poem the rhyme scheme is random and unstructured, for he is expressing how chaotic life is without God and feels in trapped by the world, fear, and sin. Near the end of the poem there is a shift from chaos to order and the rhyme scheme develops a patterns. The shift to order expresses how life with God is peaceful and makes sense. So once Herbert accepted his calling from God his life peaceful, for he was no longer tied down by fear.

This poem can be applied to all Christians and all people, because life is chaotic without God and without knowing one’s purpose in life. For we are all called by God to be servants to our neighbors, and when we accept the call, we are no longer slaves to fear and sin. With God in our lives there is order and purpose.

I am still struggling to understand what my specific calling is by God. I know He is calling me to serve Him and my neighbors, but I do not know exactly how he wants me to do so. I thought I knew what I am meant to do with my life. But recently I have been feeling a stronger call to go into church work. I am hesitant to accept that call because I do not know if it is what God is calling me to do or if it is what I think God wants me to do.

Poehler Lecture

The Poehler Lecture Series is an annual event crafted to discuses how faculty members find their Christian faith active in the College of Business & Technology, the College of Education, and the College of Humanities & Social Science. The speaker of the 2018 lecture was Tom Hanson, MBA, J.D., Professor of Management and Law. Professor Hanson delivered a message regarding the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and how Christians should use the Freedom of Speech to build community and unity.

In the lecture Professor Hanson discussed how the First Amendment right to the Freedom of Speech is to be used to build community. I was reminded me a quote used in Callings, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner, Quoted in Callings, 3). Because God is calling Christians to make disciples of all nations, we can make disciples of all nations by use our words to bring people together.

My whole life I have felt to called to serve the country in someway, probably because most of my family serves or had served in the military, and they have inspired me to want to serve as well. I feel called to serve the country because it would be my way of saying, “Thank You” to my family who has served. But serving in the military is not God’s plan for me. That was hard for me to accept because all I want to do is serve. I know God is calling me to serve; I have yet to figure where and how He needs me to serve. However, I know I am called to use my words to speak the truth of God, to share the love of God with all to whom I speak. I am called to use my words to point the world back to Him.

“Callings”, Reformation

John Calvin was a Protestant reformer and the founder of Calvinism. He defined the “general calling,” the calling to be a Christian, as an invitation of faith to all. And he defined the “special calling,” as only working in the hearts of the elect to bring them to faith.

John Calvin’s main principle of how to live as a Christian is “God’s gifts is not wrongly directed when it is referred to that end to which the Author himself created and destined them for us, since he created them for our good, not for our ruin” (Callings p. 235). The talents and gifts God has given us will be used in our callings. We are to the talents and gifts God has given us for the service of others. For when we serve others we serve God.

Most people find themselves having more than one talent and gift from God. I am one of those people. God has given me the gift of being musically talented as well as the gift of enjoying and understanding computer science. For the past month or so I have been feeling torn between two my two passions. I see this a dilemma because I feel like I can only go after one of my two passions. But I am now realizing I can follow both, for God give me both passions to serve others, not for me to have to chose. My special calling will incorporate my passions. So I do not need to chose one passion over the other; I just need to be mindful that I am putting the service of others as a top priority.

Concordia University Ceramics Biennial 2018

 

“Window Dressing” by Eileen Cohen

The Concordia University Ceramics Biennial is an art gallery curated by Korla Luckeroth Molitor that features ceramic art. One of the featured artist, Eileen Cohen, created this piece called Window Dressing, which caught my eye, because when I think of ceramics, I do not think of bows on a wall; in fact I think of pottery. The artist had written a description for this piece. In the description she talks about how one associates bows with being girly but she wanted to give the bows a masculine vibe to them. She gave the bows a sense of masculinity by painting them black with slightly dull finish. I believe Eileen Cohen’s underlying meaning in this piece is that there is always two sides to everything. Nothing is one sided with one perspective. She achieved her purpose by creating ceramic masculine bows.

Being a ceramic artist and artist in general requires interdisciplinary learning just as the Honors Program at Concordia University, St. Paul. Because artists have to understand perception, how shadows work, angles of perspective, and color theory, there are many components to a piece of art and many steps to create the art. Similarly, in the Honors Program we approach learning in an interdisciplinary way. Last semester in the Honors Program, we studied anatomy and rituals studies. We discussed and explored how ritual studies relates to anatomy and visa versa. The purpose of the Honors Program is to connect faith with learning, to show that God is present in every subject matter and in all aspects of life.

Going to the ceramic biennial gave me a new found appreciation for art. Before, I had thought everyone is an artist in their own way so I didn’t understand what’s so great about art. But taking the time to read the description of Eileen Cohen’s art work allowed me realize that this, making art with ceramics, is her life, it’s her calling, she has found the place where her “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner quoted in Callings, 3). She has found what I am still searching for. There are times when I think I have figured out where God is calling me to, but just as things make sense in my life, everything falls apart, things go wrong, or do not go the way I want/thought they should have gone, and I find myself slipping into depression. And I let myself stay there, in depression, because I have lost motivation to do much of anything. I let the darkness consume me, and I fall deeper in, only to hit rock bottom; but that’s alright, because God is The Rock and He is leading me back to Him. It takes the world knocking me down to allow God to lift me back up. And as long as I live my life with Him as my guide, I have found my calling and answered it.

 

The Concordia University, St. Paul Concert Band’s Spring Concert

“Concordia University, St. Paul’s Concert Band’s spring concert was beautiful, and the clarinet section sounded phenomenal,” I say as a member of the concert band in the clarinet section. Aside from my biased opinions, the concert and tour went very well. While on tour the band members were able to form closer friendships, which in turn improved our performances. That happened because as the friendships formed and grew, members of the band became more aware of other members. During performance as musicians we are more aware of what’s going on around use, so we balance our sounds and blend to each other creating beautiful music. There were two songs in particular when the band had peaked, Beside Still Waters and Wayfaring Stranger. Both songs had deep spiritual meanings, which allowed the band to connect on the songs. As each musician put emotion into the music and felt connected to piece, the whole band connected to bring the music to life.

Being a musician is a calling; being a band member is a calling. Each individual has multiple callings, just as each member of the band has multiple responsibilities. Every member is responsible for making sure they are in tune with their sections and with the whole band and for the care of their instrument, for learning the music, and for playing their part. Musical composition consists of different parts for each instrument section. For example, the part the tuba plays is not going to be the same part the piccolo plays. And then within each instrumental sections, there a different parts. For instance, there are generally three parts for clarinet, part one playing mostly melody and parts two and three playing counter-melody and harmony. The Concordia University, St. Paul concert band is not a very large ensemble, so most of time it is one person per part. That puts more responsibility on the musicians who are the only ones playing a part. Every part is important because if it was not important then it would not have been written. The same goes for those who are answering the call to be a Christian, because God created each one of us with a purpose for serving Him and our neighbors. If we do not do so, then we are missing out on the wonders of Gods doing.

Music has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember from when I was a baby and my parents would play classical music while slept to being involved in almost every instrumental group at Concordia University, St. Paul. And it has always been a part of how I worship. My parents, brother, and I are all involved in the music groups at our church in Virginia. My mom is the hand bell director and my dad, brother, and I play in the praise teams and in hand bells when my mom needs us to. So I have always known that music is a form of worship and that God has given me the gift of music to worship Him. But band tour and being in band at CSP has taught that music can be used for more than worshiping God. Music can be used to plant the seed of faith in people’s heart, for sometimes they need to hear the right song in the right moment to be moved by the music. Even though my major is not music, I might minor in it, and I fully intent to keep music in life for as long as I can, because God has given me this gift and I shall use it for His glory. Because, if I do not use the gifts God has given me, then I am not doing my part as a Christian to serve Him and my neighbors in everything I do.            

“Callings”, part 2 (Middle Ages)

“Chronicle of the Crusade of St. Louis” by John de Joinville depicted the life of King Louis IX of France. As King of France, Louis IX did not live luxuriously, for he strived to live as the monks did by praying and attending church regularly, eating bland food, drinking mostly water, and dressed modestly. He was a fair king and was well respected by his subjects, for he worked very hard to maintain peace in his land, especially among the nobles. It was clear that King Louis viewed vocation as something only held by monks and nuns, but he did his best to live as the monks did. He must have done something right because shortly after his death, King Louis IX was recognized as a saint.

The sainthood of King Louis IX demonstrates the notion that one does not need to be a monk to have a vocation, for even though he strived to live as the monks did, he was recognized as a saint and he was never a monk. During this time it was believed that only Monks and Nuns had a vocation, so he had to work harder and accomplished saint status all while being King of France. When King Louis IX of France was recognized a saint an exception was made to the philosophy of the middle ages. Because he wanted to be a monk, he strived to live, dress, eat, sleep, and pray as the monks did because he saw it as the only way to have a vocation.

This illustrates the lengths humans are willing to go in order to answer their call from God. Reading and discussing King Louis IX humbled me, because it exposed me to a new way of thinking, and that is just because one is successful does not mean they are any better than everyone else. For as a king, Louis did not think he was better than everyone else. He humbled himself, which I have trouble doing. I struggle with admitting my faults, because I am ashamed of them. I know I do not have to be, for God has created me the way I am for a reason. As a Christian I must embrace my God-given gifts and once I do so they will be used to serve God.

 

 

“Kingdom Come” by Matthew Webster

“Kingdom Come” is a musical about peoples recollections of and responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 told in a lighthearted way. The musical was presented by Concordia University, St. Paul’s department of music, theater and dance. “Kingdom Come” was written by Matthew Webster. His approach to the events of 9/11 was poetic, for he was able to take the audience on an emotional roller-coaster through songs and beautiful story telling. The musical began with the mass choir singing the title song “Kingdom Come,” and the main character taking her place on a raised platform. Now, what’s different about “Kingdom Come” is that it is not performed in a traditional theater setting. It was performed in a black-box, which is a stage that takes up a whole room, so the audience was on stage with the actors and actresses. The set was built so that the audience sat in stadium seating of three rows on all four sides of the room, and in the middle was center stage. The main character sat at the same height as the third row of the audience over looking center stage. The setting of the musical could be interpreted as heaven, and very little is known about the main character. Throughout the musical the main character interviews approximately 10 people about the experiences and memories from September 11, 2001. As each interviewee shares their memories, the audience learns that everyone was affected in a different way, but all were affected nonetheless. During the final scene the audience learns the main character worked in one of the World Trade Centers and was killed in the attacks, and also that the pianist’s character is God-like, for in the last scene the main character and the pianist interact and have a convocation that leads the audience the believe the pianist had been the one to arrange the interviews. I was able to interpret the big picture of the musical by the end, and that is the main character who was killed in the 9/11 attacks cannot make peace with what had happened. So, God tries to help her by sharing the memories of others with her so that she may understand that her death did have meaning; even though it may have been painful and heart breaking there was beautiful to emerge from 9/11, and that is a new understanding of “kingdom come, God’s will be done.”

The musical relates to the focus of the Honors Course this semester, scholarship and learning for the sake of the world, because the events that took place on September 11, 2001 did not affect the United Stated alone, just as an individuals university education does not affect them alone. The focus in Honors this semester is to learn how to be a Christian in today’s society, which is teaching us how to see God working in every aspect of our lives. And on September 11, 2001 God did not go silent. His voice grew louder because it needed to. It was not God’s will for the United States to be attacked, but it was His will for people to slow down in their busy lives and realize how one event can affect the world, because we are all interconnected. And it is God’s will for Christians to have the faith to be the light during dark times such as 9/11.

Seeing “Kingdom Come” helped put into perspective the events of 9/11 for me because I was not even two years old when the terrorists attacked, so I have no recollection of that day. However, my Mom does; she saw the second tower get hit on the news while sitting in her office on the Naval Base of Damn Neck in Virginia Beach, VA. From my understanding, there were rumors that Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA where also targets on 9/11 because they were along the east coast and just as close to Washington D.C. as New York. Watching the musical put me in my mom’s perspective, especially during a scene when one of the interviewees was talking to her father on the phone, because I know my grandpa loves my mom very much and I can image they had a conversation very similar to that of the one in the musical. So, it was up to my mom to have the faith to be the light to my brother and me during 9/11, because shortly after 9/11 my dad was deployed to the middle east as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which was in response to the 9/11 attacks. My mom had no way of ensuring my dad would come back alive; all she had was faith. 9/11 taught Christians to have faith in a God who loves us.

Reformation Heritage Lecture

The Reformation Heritage Lecture was given by Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb, a distinguished alumni of Concordia University. According to his biography on the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis website he is currently a professor emeritus of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Dr. Kolb retired in 2009 after 16 years of distinguished service as missions professor of Systematic Theology; he previously served as the director of the Seminary’s Institute for Mission Studies. Prior to joining the Seminary, he served as director of the Center for Reformation Research, and in various teaching roles in the religion and history departments at Concordia College in St. Paul, MN, now known as Concordia University, St. Paul. From 1994 to 2010, he taught abroad, chiefly in post-Soviet Europe, for three months of the year. He received his Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology from Concordia Seminary; also earned a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He received the honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Valparaiso University; Concordia University in St. Paul; and Concordia University in Irvine. In 2017, he received an honorary doctorate from the Slovak Comenius University in Bratislava (CU), the largest university in Slovakia. Many of Dr. Kolb’s former students and alumni came to hear his lecture, along with a number of current Concordia students, faculty and staff. During the lecture, Dr. Kolb kept the audience intrigued with some light humor.

In his lecture Dr. Kolb discussed how Martian Luther’s interpretation of the Gospel reformed the understanding of vocation. Before and during Luther’s time only those in the ecclesiastical class, monks, nuns, and priests, held vocations. For vocation was interpreted as living a live solely dedicated to serving God, and only the ecclesiastical class did that. Dr. Kolb explained that as Luther studied the Gospel he, Luther, came to realize that a vocation can be held by anyone from any walk of life, for it is not our actions that get us to heaven but rather, because God sent Jesus to us, we are able to go to heaven.

Attending Dr.Kolb’s lecture reinforced my understanding of vocation of a Christian, that no matter where I am in life I have a vocation. And that I am called to show the love and forgiveness of God to others as He shows it to me. My choice of major, Computer Science, does not limit my vocation, nor does it make me less qualified to serve God than a church-work major. And so often I forget that, because I get wrapped in wanting to see results of my vocation instantaneously, which those who go into ministry may experience, and I forget that the smallest action may start a large chain reaction. By making a conscious decision everyday to be kind and show love to others I may be making a bigger difference than what is seen. I could be planting the seed of faith in someone by simply explaining to them what the Honors Program at Concordia University, St Paul is all about. All I have to do is plant the seed, and the Holy Spirt takes care of the rest.