Read: John Henry Newman (18011890) Anglican priest, professor at Oxford, leader in the Tractarian movement; gave up his teaching position and was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845. Hint: You might read 1 Samuel 3 and Acts 9 before reading the sermon.
In your first paragraph, discuss Newmans sermon. Newman stresses that the response to the call from God is obedience on the part of Samuel, Paul, and the disciples of Jesus; we should have the same response of obedience. Do you agree with Newman that our response to God is obedience? Why or why not?
Newman claims that the call from God is nothing miraculous or extraordinary. Rather, the call comes through accidents and events of life (346), examples of which he gives on the following page. In a second paragraph, state whether his view of Gods call to the Christian through the ordinary events of life rings true for you. Why or why not? If an accident or event of life has shaped your sense of purpose or calling, you might mention it here and describe how that experience shapes your perspective on Newman.
2) Read Bonhoeffer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (19061945) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who opposed Nazism during World War II and was imprisoned for his participation in a plot to kill Hitler. He was hanged just two weeks before the liberation of Germany by Allied forces.
Bonhoeffer expresses his central idea (that the act of obedience comes before faith) on pp. 392393: If we would follow Jesus … he does not learn how to believe…. In a first paragraph, summarize Bonhoeffers view of this complex relationship between obedience and faith. How do you think his resistance to the Nazis might have influenced his perspective? Do you agree or disagree with him? On what basis?
Bonhoeffer declares that the first question of the rich young man in Matthew is the question of a piety shaped by and centered in the self (396). In a second paragraph, discuss a time in your life when your ponderings or questions to God are questions of a piety shaped by and centered in the self? How do you recognize these kinds of questions as self-centered piety? What is the problem, in your view, with being self-centered?
3) Read Matthew 4:111 and then Howard Thurman (18991981), an African American pastor committed to non-violence.
Thurman sees the Christian called to the task of making this world a better place for all people. In a first paragraph, summarize his insights into this understanding of Christian calling (see the sections on the first and third temptation)? Do you agree with Thurman? Why or why not?
Read Dorothy Day (18971980). Day was a protester, writer, single mother, convert to Catholicism, advocate for the poor, and founder of Catholic Worker Movement.
Day, responding to the socialist movement of the time, asks, Is it not possible to be radical and not atheist? (414). In a second paragraph, in what ways do you see her understanding of Christianity radical? With what aspects of her radicalness do you agree? Disagree? Why? For Day, poverty and love of others are inextricably bound together. What does she say about this connection between love and poverty that you found helpful? What did you find unhelpful or confusing?
Read Thomas Merton (19151968). Merton was a poet, convert to Catholicism, and Trappist monk.
Merton says that Our vocation is … the interaction of two freedoms, and, therefore, of two loves (422). In a third paragraph, discuss Merton. How do our freedom and Gods love play out in vocational decisions we might make? Merton speaks of the scale of vocations (427) and asserts that all vocations are intended by God to manifest His love in the world (426). How does he rank on this scale of vocations the various callings he discusses? How does each calling manifest [Gods] love in the world? Do you find this ranking helpful or problematic? Why?