The Duke Divinity Crisis and The Perils of Our Language About Vocation

One of TGR’s bloggers, Jonathan Malesic, has a provocative essay over at Inside Higher Ed, where he diagnoses the recent well-publicized problems at Duke Divinity School as stemming, in part, from what might be called an over-adequate doctrine of vocation:

Judging from his emails, Griffiths seems to think of academic work as an exceptionally high calling, a vocation. He is hardly alone in thinking so. As a former theology professor at a Catholic college, I appreciate Griffiths’s sense that he is doing something of metaphysical importance.

But even a theologian has to remember that a professorship is also—and perhaps mainly—a job. That means that collegiality matters. It means that efforts to make the school more equitable for its students and faculty members matters. Indeed, by defining what they do in terms of vocation, scholars may do the profession and the people in it much greater harm than the “anti-intellectual” programs that Griffiths condemns.

The concept of vocation has religious roots in the calling of prophets, patriarchs and disciples. Yet even in the Bible, there is a conflict between vocation and ordinary work. . . . [Read more]

Malesic challenges a number of assumptions current faith and work leaders make about vocation, and we encourage you to check out his post and join the discussion.

Image: Wikimedia.

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