More Unnecessary Christianspeak to Enjoy: My Calling

Live your calling

Some Christianspeak becomes so popular over time that it crosses over (no pun intended) so that the meaning becomes recognized by everyone. Non-Christians may even adopt the terms, although they usually mean something slightly different by them. References to one's "calling" are a perfect example of what I mean. When a Christian refers to his or her calling, we all know what is meant. Non-Christians sometimes use the term to mean what they feel they were meant to do (instead of what some sort of imagined god called them to do).

I've been thinking recently that references to one's calling by Christians provide a great opportunity to make a point that needs to be made as often as possible about religious belief. One's god is really nothing more than a proxy for one's own desires. Unfortunately, it also elevates one's desires to a level well above ordinary desires.

When a Christian says that she "was called to be a veterinarian," she is suggesting that her god wanted her to follow this career path. Although she may refer to ambiguous messages she interpreted as supernatural communication (i.e., signs), a little probing will usually reveal that her god communicated with her through her inner voice. There was no booming voice from on high, and no shrubbery was ignited in flame. No, she felt/heard/understood her god either through her own voice in her head or by her own interpretation of ambiguous events.

"I was called to be a veterinarian" is functionally equivalent to "I really want to be a veterinarian" or "I feel like being a veterinarian is the ideal career for me." The Christian who talks of "calling" is simply externalizing his or her decision-making process. But we all recognize it as a product of his or her decision-making. I suspect that some Christians even recognize this.

As an atheist, if I were to speak of "my calling" (not something I can recall doing), I would be indicating that there was a great match between my interests and my career. I would be communicating that I felt well-suited to do what I was doing or hoping to do. The Christian is essentially saying the same thing, only he or she finds it necessary to dress it up in supernatural garb and imply that divine will is attached.

Let this be yet another reminder that the desires of one's god have an uncanny way of reflecting one's own wishes. Perhaps it is time to strip away the unnecessary god-talk and accept the fact that one's calling is simply what one really wants to do and nothing more.

An early version of this post appeared here in 2012. It was revised and expanded in 2020.

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