'In any case, our destiny is the work of two wills, not one. It is not an immutable fate, forced upon us without any choice of our own, by a divinity without heart.' Thomas Merton's counsel reminds of the dual errors that comprise the need for this fine anthology: an autonomous individualism that considers each person the captain of his own fate, and a fatalistic sense of God as having a clearly-mapped plan, to be accessed by some formula of prayer or intuition, if one is not fortunate enough to have it bestowed in blinding light, Damascus-road fashion. The loving synergy Merton speaks of is one of the pinnacles in this collection of over 50 two- to four-page page readings from the breadth of Christian tradition, from Ignatius of Antioch to Karl Barth. Part 1 consists of readings from the first five centuries (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Athanasius, the Desert Fathers) Part 2 from the Middle Ages (St. Benedict, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Mechtild of Magdeburg and others), Part 3 from the Reformation to 1800 (Luther, Calvin, Ignatius Loyola, Teresa, George Herbert, Wesley, and more) and Part 4 from 1800 to the present (e.g. Kierkegaard, Newman, Dostoevsky, Pope Leo XIII, Bonhoeffer, Weil, Sayers). Genres represented are appropriately varied-saints' lives, homilies, biblical commentary, autobiography, philosophical treatises, and novels-mirroring the multitude of ways vocation is discerned, described, and experienced. 452 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
"What am I going to do with my life?" is a question that young people commonly face, while many not-so-young people continue to wonder about finding direction and purpose in their lives. Whether such purpose has to do with what job to take, whether to get married, or how to incorporate religious faith into the texture of their lives, Christians down the centuries have believed that God has plans for them.
This unprecedented anthology gathers select passages on work and vocation from the greatest writers in Christian history. William Placher has written insightful introductions to accompany the selections -- an introduction to each of the four main historical sections and a brief introduction to each reading. While the vocational questions faced by Christians have changed through the centuries, this book demonstrates how the distilled wisdom of these saints, preachers, theologians, and teachers remains relevant to Christians today.
This rich resource is to be followed by a companion volume, edited by Mark R. Schwehn and Dorothy C. Bass, featuring texts drawn mainly from fiction, memoir, poetry, and other forms of literature.
A study guide is available from Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) on their website: www.ptev.org