Friday, February 29, 2008

My ideal job as a Jesuit

As many regular readers know, I have something of a penchant for the theology of Karl Rahner. To be sure, there is a host of theologians I love to read: James Alison, Jim Keenan, Robert Barron, Thomas Aquinas, N.T. Wright. But if I had to point to a thinker who not only taught me how to pray but who also engage in the craft of theology, hands-down it's Rahner.

With this said, it may come as a shock to many that being a theologian is not exactly my dream job. Don't get me wrong: I'd love to write books that help people learn how to pray better, books that introduce people in the Mystery of God's love for humanity. So I offer to you my three dream jobs:

1. Jesuit Chef. I'd love to prepare meals for those who come calling on various communities, incarnating the charity and hospitality of God's Kingdom as I have come to know it through prayer and a commitment of my life as a disciple of Christ

2. Special Ed teacher. For seven summers I worked in a summer camp that addressed the needs of mentally retarded (yes, in the state of Ohio this is the designation) and developmentally delayed children. I loved these children and their ability to give and receive love has made a lasting impression on my life. In them I learned to love a face of God that had, by the logic of this world, nothing to offer me. By the logic of God's Kingdom, however, they offered to all who would receive it the most precious gift of all: themselves.

3. Kindergarten teacher. The world doesn't need more good theologians. It needs more great kindergarten teachers. Women and men who are able to shape and contour burgeoning lives in a positive way. Spending six weeks teaching Kindergarten reminded me of how precious these young lives are and what a privilege it is to have a role in shaping a child's life. On this I am envious of my brother: he will shape my niece Emma's life in a way that is far more profound than any homily, any essay, or any book that I'll ever write. Because he will incarnate love for her, raising her in love to love. If I were a Kindergarten teacher I suspect that this would be both the burden and blessing of the vocation: to teach children how to love with love.

In short, my ideal job would involve actually incarnating God's love for others in a way that sought to establish the Kingdom Christ Jesus preached.

A career as a theologian might not help the Church as much as I might like to hope. But a career as a Kindergarten teacher? To help open the heart of a single child to the love of God and to one's neighbor...that seems far more valuable than any bit of erudite theology.

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