Using examples from scripture, the section began with a discussion of different interpretations of vocation and how God intended it to be. Sayers said that many base their vocational model off of Genesis 3:17 which is about the curse of Adam, and how people should instead view this section as the "great paradox of redemption" as God shows that pains and sorrows can become instruments of salvation if accepted by love. The following section illustrates her opposition to communism because of the way work is viewed as only a method of producing the means of livelihood. She goes on to say that economics will never change if it continues to be seen as the only reason to work and that the correct relationship between work and workers needs to be considered. The next section is about artists who Sayers defines as a group of workers who have not lost or abandoned what work ought to be because they do not work to live, but instead makes money by worker in order to continue working. In the artist's case there is no difference between work and living. The last section regards the subject of idleness and women's place (or lack thereof) in the work world.
Even though Sayers wrote this text in the mid-1900s, it is amazing how amazingly applicable it is to today's society. Nearly everything she mentioned as a problem in the world then, is still something of an issue or even more of a problem today. One issue that has become even more evident over the past 50 years is the [first]world's obsession with making life easier and saving time. Sayers explains how the products that sell best are those that aim to make life easier and to remove "work" in order to save time. Next in line are the products that fill the saved time with mindless leisure activities to avoid the trouble of thinking- all in a vicious cycle, trying to get away from the "trouble" of thinking. Directly related to vocations, Sayers talked about how some people interpret Genesis 3:17 to mean that work is a curse and only the result of the fall, but she explains that even before the fall, God created Adam to work the land and that the fall only brought economics into the picture (in the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread.) Besides Adam, God himself worked and he worked because he enjoyed it and he was happy with what he had made.
I really enjoyed this section! Sayers' writing is engaging, fresh, and applicable to the world today, even though it was written 70 years ago. I especially liked her description of how products are made and sold to save time and then more products are made and sold to fill that saved time with mindless leisure and entertainment to avoid the trouble of thinking,. People get bored and begin to question the meaning of life rather than fill their time with energy, motivation, and creativity. If Dorothy thought this was a problem 70 years ago, I would hate(LOVE) to hear what she'd have to say about the world today! One last thing: God was an artist- the first artist! He worked hard to create the entire universe, but at the same time he completely enjoyed it. He didn't make everything for the purpose of efficiency nor did he make anything to be exactly the same... Which is pretty cool.
This past weekend, the musical Pippin was put on by Concordia's Department of Theater and Dance. The musical began as the "leading player" (a narrator of sorts) spoke directly to the audience with an invitation to join her and her troupe in a story about a boy who is on a quest to find meaning and fulfillment in his life. The production is a musical about a musical and is the story of how Pippin, the son of King Charlemagne, is trying to find his place in the world. Pippin wants to live an extraordinary life but is unsure how to fulfill that dream and so he decides to begin his search back at home with his father and step-mother, and his brother Lewis. His father and brother are about to go to war and Pippin asks to join but quickly finds that war is not for him. After this encounter Pippin experiences many other things: sexual encounters, the life of a revolutionary, art, religion, but can't seem to "find his corner." Finally he is overwhelmed and about to give up when a woman named Catherine, a widow, finds him and takes him into her home to live with her and her son. As Pippin recovers he experiences working and forming a relationship with these two people until finally a year later he realizes how long he's been wasting time at Catherine's house instead of finding his purpose in life and so he leaves. Pippin returns to the leading player and the other actors and they try to convince him to complete the "best finale" the world has seen and by trying to convince him it is the fulfilling life he was searching for. Pippin slowly begins to realize that the place where he was happiest was not searching for an extraordinary life and that the life of meaning and fulfillment was with Catherine and her son. At this point Pippin, Catherine and her son, to the horror of the leading player and others, stop going by the script, and ruin the "perfect finale" the other actors are used to. Pippin finally realizes that what he was looking for was a simple, normal life and that he doesn't need anything extraordinary to be truly happy.
Surprisingly, the play was directly related to what we have been focusing on in honors this semester. Pippin is completely unsure of what he should do with his life. He knows that he wants it to be fulfilling and meaningful, and that he wants to do extraordinary things, but he doesn't know how to get there. Many people have this similar desire, and like Pippin also do not know which direction they are supposed to go in life. For Pippin, it took a few mistakes and wrong decisions for him to come to the realization that a simple, ordinary life was all he wanted and what made him happiest. His mistakes were okay! (Thomas Merton would agree.) Similar to this year's theme in honors of Christian vocation, Pippin addresses the questions, doubt, and despair that many people experience when trying to understand where God is calling them. The musical addresses that each person has his or her own purpose and that there are basically two choices- to follow the "script" of the world and the pressure of others in exchange for fleeting, superficial pleasure, or to do what brings happiness and fulfillment, and accepting that life is not flashy and exciting all of the time.
I'm going to be really cheesy right away and say that I think most people are like Pippin or at least can relate to him in some way. He's a fictional character, sure, but he represents millions of people who have dreams and goals but don't know how to fulfill them and don't know what they really want. From my own [short] life experience so far I have come to terms with the fact that many of the things I thought I wanted are not actually what I want at all, and have only come to realize that through trial and error because that's how God works sometimes. I can accept that I have made mistakes and I know I will continue to make mistakes that will not always benefit me. But other times, mistakes can bring enlightenment and guidance to steer in the next direction. Pippin was a boy who let the many voices of the people around him overwhelm and steer him away from true contentment, but when he finally listened to the right voice, he was led to the happiness he'd been trying to find. In my life, the "right voice" is Christ's- leading and guiding me toward contentment and my purpose in life and service.
Last Wednesday, the honors class was invited to enjoy dinner with Jobe Cerny, better known as the famous voice of the Pillsbury doughboy. Cerny led a discussion on the topic of vocation, which has been one of the main topics the class has focused on this semester. He began by talking about his life and education while offering many pieces of advice about how to accomplish one's dreams. He then transitioned into asking if anyone had a personal dream he/she wanted to share, as well as the obstacles the individual felt was in the way of accomplishing it. His advice varied slightly for each person, but Cerny mainly focused on the concepts of not setting limits, and setting aside time each day to work towards a specific goal. He also talked about the importance of continuing to "live life to the fullest" and look for new possibilities in every moment, to continuously set new goals that are higher and believe that they are achievable.
Cerny focused quite a bit on the importance of hard work when it comes to achieving one's goals. He gave some very specific examples that might work only for himself personally, but also mentioned the very generic pieces of advice that are heard over and over from an early age. Some may complain that those generic words of wisdom are worn out or redundant, but one can hardly argue with their validity. Cerny , who took four years of Latin in college, strongly encouraged students to take classes that will help develop a set of tools to bring them closer to achieving goals and to doing what they want in life. Cerny is a part of the entertainment business, and also a Christian. To some this is an unlikely combination but to Cerny it was a natural outcome. He feels that he is doing exactly what he should be doing with his life and was very encouraging and optimistic about anyone else being able to accomplish as much as he has.
The dinner was enjoyable and Cerny had a lot to say that I appreciated. He's obviously lived an interesting life and it was inspiring to hear the many stories he had to tell. The fact that he wakes up at three every morning to write blew me away! I don't think I'll be changing my habits enough to wake up THAT early, but nonetheless it was encouraging to spend more time improving my own "set of tools" to be able to accomplish my aspirations and goals.
On February 15th, JoBe Cerny, writer, actor, producer, director of the first audio bible to win Christian book of the year, AND the voice of the Pillsbury doughboy was welcomed to the stage of the Beautow Auditorium for a convocation about his most recent production: The Word of Promise New Testament Complete Audio Bible (the latest King James translation.) The convocation began with a brief introduction by Jim Seeman of Cerny's accomplishments thus far followed by the doughboy himself greeting the crowd with his signature giggle... "Hoo hoo!" Next, Cerny had the audience listen to several minutes of the audio bible to get a sample of what this unique project was like and how it was different from what one might expect an audio bible to sound like. Instead of being a simple reading of the bible, Cerny used sound effects and an original music score (150 person orchestra!)with the voices of 600 actors reading from a "1st person" point of view combined for a total of 90 hours of recorded work and 75,000 takes. One of his goals for this project was to reach an audience who would hear the Bible for the first time. A graduate of Valparaiso University as well as Northwestern (not the one in MN! ;)) Cerny mentioned his experience in college of taking four years of Latin and how it helped a lot with directing the actors as well as translating from the "ancient languages" to English. This project has been successful in many ways and is a very unique approach to an audio bible.
The Word of Promise Audio Bible is unique approach because it combines entertainment and audio drama techniques with the spoken words of the Christian Bible. The combination of these elements has the possibility of attracting a very wide audience of people from those who are illiterate, or non-Christian, to those who are just too busy or uninterested in sitting down and reading the actual bible, or anyone interested in the dramatic arts. The project is an example of the many possibilities of integrating faith and learning. The audio bible opens up the many possibilities of integrating faith and learning by using it as a tool to expose such a broad audience of people to Christianity. Cerny talked about his initial reaction to being asked to direct the audio bible. He said that it wasn't really even a question in his mind and that he just knew that he needed to do it. Cerny's willingness to accept the project is admirable. It's not always easy to make decisions, especially those that involve sacrificing your time and especially when it comes to choosing or following a vocation or calling.
While I didn't care to hear about all of the actors Cerny
has worked with in his lifetime, it was interesting to hear about the audio
bible and the huge amount of time spent crafting it. It truly is a tool that
can be used to spread the word of God to many people and even though he made
some money and met a lot of very successful people along the way, he also had
the knowledge and desire to do it for more than the obvious superficial
reasons. It made me think about my own life and how I have a very hard time
just listening to what God is telling me to do or at least trusting that he
does have a plan for me and something that he is "calling" me to do, and I just
don't know what it is yet. I do know that he calls people to do many different
kinds of things, big and small, and as a Christian, I don't have to be working
in a church to spread the God's Word.
While I didn't care to hear about all of the actors Cerny has worked with in his lifetime, it was interesting to hear about the audio bible and the huge amount of time spent crafting it. It truly is a tool that can be used to spread the word of God to many people and even though he made some money and met a lot of very successful people along the way, he also had the knowledge and desire to do it for more than the obvious superficial reasons. It made me think about my own life and how I have a very hard time just listening to what God is telling me to do or at least trusting that he does have a plan for me and something that he is "calling" me to do, and I just don't know what it is yet. I do know that he calls people to do many different kinds of things, big and small, and as a Christian, I don't have to be working in a church to spread the God's Word.