A sanitation worker? There have got to be hundreds of more significant jobs we could have showcased: farming, nursing, relief work, teaching … At any rate, collecting the garbage can’t possibly be this guy’s vocation, can it?
Exactly. When designing this issue’s cover, we narrowed down our options to this one precisely because the work portrayed is not, in the eyes of our society, considered spiritual, highly-skilled, or particularly laudable. But the point is just that: career and vocation are not interchangeable terms.
As Peter Mommsen writes in his Editor’s Letter: “When the New Testament writers use the words translated in English as vocation or calling, they are never referring to work, much less to a particular trade or profession…. the New Testament knows only one form of vocation: discipleship.”
Artist Dean Mitchell hails from Pittsburgh. “I’m drawn to the humane,” he told the Christian Science Monitor in 1993. “But there is something more there. ... I do believe in God, and I do believe that when you create, something else can take over…. If that intention [in a work of art] is pure – to say something to humanity or to stir something in people – then you are tapping into another source beyond your control.”