The Christ-Haunted North

“The Christ-Haunted South” is a phrase attributed to Flannery O’Connor. She was referring to the lingering resonances of Christian religious life that has infused the culture of the American South. I now live in a Christ-haunted “North.” I am referring to northern England. For long centuries Christian religious life infused the Pennines, the Lakes, and…

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External Call, or Internal Ambition? The (Deceptive) Rhetoric of Vocation

Returning now to the ongoing series of posts on Calling/Vocation, I want briefly write about some of the greatest questions I have wrestled with in the move to England for a PhD program: Is the primary source of my desire to take up this venture God’s call or my personal ambition? Am I being beckoned…

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Zombie-Theology

I cannot think of anything more bizarre, more out of character, more ludicrous for me to write on than…. ZOMBIES. But for some reason, they have arrested my attention. Primarily, I am just wondering why they have become such a pop-cultural hit of late. Let’s face it: zombies are suddenly iconic. So I started doing…

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Sherlock Holmes, Pastoral Ministry, Hermeneutics, and the Holy Spirit

My wife and I just starting watching BBC One’s Sherlock Holmes. Watching Marvin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch interact on screen has been good fun. And darn it all, I just want to have a mind like Sherlock. I want to be able to observe and notice with such acuity. I want to have a brain…

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Vocational Decision as Colossal Failure

Part of the reason I am interested in blogging on the idea of “calling” is to offer a dirtier, grimier theology of vocation than the cheerier (and perhaps more marketable) versions that are readily available in pulpits and bookshops. The rhetoric of calling is often hand-in-glove with populist notions of personal fulfillment. Disney has informed…

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Vocational Anxieties: Thinking through Individual and Corporate Callings

The main point of the previous post is that our calling is premised on the idea that Someone beyond ourselves speaks. Vocation is a divine summons. Go to the land that I will show you. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh.  Whatever I command you, you shall speak. Follow me.   Vocational Angst But…

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A Brief Theology of “Calling”

We are going to be thinking about calling and vocation here at Hopeful Realism. I’ve already offered an initial post on these themes: “Vocation as Pyrrhic Victory.” But what does “calling” actually refer to? The word “vocation” derives from the Latin vocatio, the base root of which is vox: “voice.” That’s important. Critically important. Christianity…

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Vocation as Pyrrhic Victory: Personal Notes on “Calling” and the Cross

Now begins a new series here at Hopeful Realism. We will be focusing on vocation (with some other stuff inserted from time to time). By vocation, I mean divine calling. Part of my own vocation seems to be wrestling with the idea of vocation, especially now that I am working overseas on a doctorate in…

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When A Sermon Mystifies more than Explains

I love preaching. It darn near kills me, but I love it. In trying to be a better preacher, I am thinking more intently and prayerfully about the practice and theology of this curious, holy, frightful, and joyful discipline. One of the temptations I have found in sermon preparation is that of providing a full…

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