Jesse Jackson is a complicated man. He has been right on most issues most of the time, though certainly not all the time. No one is more eloquent on the topic of human rights, and no one more personally committed to the cause of justice for minority and marginalized people.
Calendar purists insist that only now are we entering the 21st century, since 2000 was really the final year of the 20th century. Whichever it is, I entered this new year thinking a lot about the fractious divisiveness that seems so evident everywhere in the world, and about its reverse, the precious but fragile unity of the human family.
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.
Though neither of my parents had a college education, I learned from them the joy of reading. Our home was one in which the Sunday New York Times was divided and carefully passed back and forth, and the crossword puzzle was a shared project. Winston Churchill’s book on the Second World War was on the bookshelf, and so were Carl Sandburg’s volumes on Abraham Lincoln.
Forty years ago this month, I took a job as a student pastor in a small nondenominational church in a blue-collar community south of Chicago. I was a middler at the University of Chicago Divinity School–Chicago Theological Seminary, married with an infant daughter, and broke. The church offered $50 a week and a house with three bedrooms, bath and a real back yard.