Ambrose, “De viduis”, xii, xiii P.L., XVI, 256, 259; St. Web SiteSee St. Otherwise, God would be bound to make known to us clearly both His own will and the consequences of our negligence. as we associate career with identity. We choose again and enter yet another room with another set of doors. We have to believe that God loves us more than we love ourselves and that God wants our happiness more than we want it. Anne Lamont, in her autobiographical book travelling Mercies, recalls a sermon about gods leading: Pastor Veronica said that when she prays for direction, one spot of illumination always appears just beyond her feet, a circle of light into which she can step. They express their love through their sexual union, which brings them together in the closest intimacy and opens them to the gift of new life. But this woman of whom I have told you knew no vocation and took no vow. Often, too, we have to hesitate in our choice between two incompatible deeds or courses of action.
Then I thought back to my first day of graduate school, on September 12, 2001. My first class was a lecture course on the Victorian Novel in its European Context with a soft-spoken but fearsomely intelligent literary scholar. I remember his opening remarks, delivered in the reedy voice to which I would become so carefully attuned in the years that followed. He said, essentially, that after the way the world had changed the day before, a course on the Victorian Novel might seem trivial, irrelevant. But in fact, everything that we aimed to accomplish in that lecture hall would stand to repudiate the hatefulness of the terrorists who had wrought such unimaginable destruction. Our best way to fight back was precisely to devote ourselves to robust humanistic inquiry and its attendant values of openness, curiosity, and other-directedness. These thoughts came rushing back to me after our beloved country handed the reins to a newly minted politician whose entire campaign had traded on authoritarian demagoguery and a disregard for facts and decency alike that would be comical were it not so terrifying. The best way for me, trained as a humanist and a literary scholar, to stand tall against this onslaught is to practice my vocation with passion and precision. It is a gift to inhabit daily a world where words matter, and I am grateful to be in position to share that gift with others. But it can get pretty cozy and complacent and self-satisfied, to say that my best contribution is the one Im already making.
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