Horace Bushnell was from Hartford, Connecticut, the same area as my favorite fictional characters, the Gilmore Girls! It sounds like that's about all he had in common with them though--he was a pastor in the North Congregational Church, something that the Gilmores never would have done. So, unlike the Gilmores, he was really dedicated to the Sunday School movement--he thought that kids could be raised in the faith without having to have the conversion experience that a lot of people believed in. Ideas like these help him to tell Christians how we are to know what our callings are.
Bushnell argues that everything in creation has a God-given purpose. He first talks about men in the Bible and how they were given purposes. Then, he notes that God has a particular care for every man, so it makes sense that he would give each his own purpose. He notes that every single star has a specific purpose, every grain of sand too. If one star or one grain of sand was out of place, the whole system would be ruined, so each part of the system has its own purpose. Likewise, every human has a purpose and a plan that God has given him or her. Although we have the free will to do things that are not our purpose, the best thing for us is to do what God made us to do. This argument could be a bit disheartening, but I don't really think it is too bad--it makes complete sense, and I definitely agree with it. I think it could cause a lot of stress in finding one's calling, but I have already found mine, so that's not as big of a stressor for me.
Bushnell doesn't just leave us on our own, though. He tells us to consider the character of God, and how we can make ourselves like him. He tells us how to use our conscience according to the law and be an observer of Providence, and to consult our friends for help. Lastly, he tells us to pray for our callings to be made known to us. I definitely think this advice is helpful. Like I said before, I feel like I knew my calling before I did my project, but my project really helped me be sure of myself. If nothing else, my project has given me the "friends" component that he talks about--I have had people at my project site and on campus recognize my gifts and how I can use them, and that is really assuring. One thing that I didn't really get from Bushnell was the idea of experimenting with one's calling, however, and I think that's really important too! While trying to tutor for children or babysit or other related things, I realized that my heart just isn't in it unless I am helping the Latino community--in fact, sometimes when I babysit, I start to speak Spanish just because I associate kids and Spanish now. I think that the experimentation was really necessary for me to find this out, and this is definitely a benefit that the project gave me that Bushnell didn't really talk about too much.
Note: I was going to add pictures, etc. but my computer has other ideas in mind....