“Is there a distinctively ‘Christian’ way to be a bus driver?”
In response to the last question — “Is there a distinctively Christian way to think about the particulars of each vocation?” — Taylor offers this:
My sense is that the more intellectual and aesthetically oriented the vocation, the more work has already been done on a distinctively Christian approach. This is, in my part, because the contrast will be more wide-ranging and apparent and because the Bible seems to have more to say directly about these areas. I’m thinking, for example, of areas like philosophy, education, and politics. (For some examples, see Alvin Plantinga’s “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” or the books in the Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series.) The same would be true for aesthetics, as in music, fine arts, and design. It can be more difficult to see in areas oriented toward manual labor. But there is still much work that can be done in these areas. One of the problems is that intellectuals and philosophers are more inclined to know and study areas they are more interested in, and therefore other vocations become neglected in terms of analysis.
Taylor goes on to give a nod to the influence of Abraham Kuyper on such matters, and indeed, as Kuyper notes throughout Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art, part of the difference in such “work being done” is due to the distinct differences in the work itself.
The basic techniques of bus driving, for example — steering, using appropriate turn signals, following your route, etc. — will naturally have a broader common consensus to build from, while the basic techniques of more “intellectual and aesthetically oriented” work will require distinctly Christian choices about basic technique. Perhaps one reason we’re more inclined to “know and study” spiritual matters in more intellectually oriented vocations is that they require more spiritual knowing and studying up front.
Now, I say “up front” because, for the Christian, manual labor is bound to drift into the subjective and the spiritual at some point, as trusty as the Big Blue Book of Bus Driver Knowledge might be for ordinary day-to-day activities. (more…)