I have learned over the years that students, wearily carrying out a writing assignment, often have recourse to the dictionary. Assigned to write on a specific topic, they will begin with a dictionary definition. Let it never be said that I have learned nothing from reading their papers all these years.
The reflection on vocation in this issue by Gilbert Meilaender takes us from Vergil’s epic, the Aeneid, to the Reformation era to the 20th century, with many stops in between. He prodded me, as I’m sure he will others, to think more deeply about their own sense of vocation.
Taking Retirement: A Beginner's Diary, by Carl H. Klaus
Are you old?” a little boy asked as he popped up in the pool beside me. Hoping that his vision merely had been blurred by the spray and not wanting to admit my age, I tossed off his question by replying, “I didn’t think my backstroke was that bad.” He paddled away muttering, “You must be crazy.”
Reviewing Jonathan Raban’s Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings (Pantheon) in the New York Review of Books (January 20), Larry McMurtry concentrates on the act of saying good-bye. Raban, a skilled writer of travelogues and an adventurous traveler, tells his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Julia that he is leaving for 21 days.
The number of ordained clergy age 35 or under in mainline denominations is remarkably low. The United Church of Christ lists only 207 clergy in that category—only 4 percent of its total number of ministers.
Mainline denominations have only begun to recognize the alarmingly low numbers of clergy under the age of 35. In my denomination, the United Church of Christ, I am one of only 207 clergy in that age bracket—about 4 percent of total clergy.
The reason I am still in the ministry is because of the night I decided to leave the ministry. It was my day off. The phone rang, and it was the chaplain at a nearby hospital. Usually we would exchange pleasantries, but all she said was, “Come to the hospital—now.” I trusted the urgency in her voice and arrived in about ten minutes.