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Uncovering Vocation –  “Spanked: The Sanctioned Violence”

Dr. Christina Erickson, Social Work on January 24th, 2023

Reading:  By Anne LaMott

My coming to this vocation did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another.  Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved.   I can see how flimsy and indirect a path they made.  Yet each step brought me closer to the verdant pad on which I stay afloat today.  


Good morning –  I have been a social worker for 30 years and I felt like that gave me an easy out on this vocation stuff  –easy, it was my work – which I described as making the world a better place. Becoming a social work professor was a natural evolution of that original vocational path.  I was set. No more discoveries to be made. What I never expected, was a mid-life vocation that would grip me for more than 10 years.  Like Ann Lamott describes, I can look back and see how I leapt from lily pad to lily pad through the course of my life, never knowing that those experiences would become so important to a mid-life vocation I couldn’t have imagined.  

Lily pad 1…..My mother’s spanking – so futile, so “not into it”, her swings and misses.  My own wriggling away.  My father’s spanking – so scary, so shaming, having to stop himself because he was big and strong. My 3 older brothers spankings,  – so harsh, so much anger in both directions. 

My family of origin, the family I grew up in, was happy, I felt loved, we were loud, we laughed, 5 children and 2 parents who were high school sweethearts, pregnant before they were married despite strict Catholic upbringings, we were fine and good and my parents spanked us.  My parents hit us.  They never hit each other, they never hit the dog, but spanking a child on the butt….that was acceptable, anytime, parental decision alone, no child input needed.  In spanking, the perpetrator is always right and the victim is always wrong.

Lily pad 2….my high school boyfriend. We met in the tennis module of gym class.  We were separated by gender (this was 1984) through the whole unit until the end when the ranked boys played the ranked girls.  He was ranked first in his gender and I in mine.  We had to battle it out, and while I lost handily, it was love, love.  We started dating.  2 years into our high school romance I punched him in the stomach in my parent’s basement family room.  I have no memory of why, but I remember the event vividly.  My anger, my punching, the look on his face.  

Lily pad 3 – I go to graduate school in social work and begin my field experience at The Initial Intervention Unit in child and family services.  We were the first social workers to visit a home or school with a child abuse investigation. I see the effects of hitting on little bodies. I see the pain and shame of parents who have to talk to us. I feel their struggle, I see their love for their children. 

Lily pad 4 – I’ll read a section from my book –  I suddenly saw that if I hit my kids, it was the same as hitting my high school boyfriend, back in 1986 (the other parent of my children by the way).  If I hit them too, I would be the face of modern domestic violence.  Continue reading “Uncovering Vocation –  “Spanked: The Sanctioned Violence””

Steve Peacock is Leading Augsburg into the Public Square for the Sake of our Neighbors

Written by Jeremy Myers

This blog post is the first of many that will showcase the various ways we see vocation lived out on a daily basis in the lives and work of our Augsburg colleagues and our neighbors in the Cedar-Riverside and Seward neighborhoods.

By vocation we mean the ways we are compelled, empowered, challenged, freed, and responsible to show up (individually and collectively) in ways that help our neighbors and neighborhoods thrive. We believe every individual and every institution experiences a vocational tug.

Augsburg University – as an institution – is committed to being an engaged neighbor with the Cedar-Riverside, Seward, and Phillips neighborhoods. Many would say this has always been central to Augsburg’s mission and identity, but our practices and frameworks for showing up as a compassionate and helpful neighbor have changed over time. This change is a necessity if one is truly committed to working towards the common good with their neighbors.

This is a story about how Augsburg does the work of becoming and being an engaged neighbor.


Headshot of Steve PeacockSteve Peacock joined Augsburg University in 2008 as the University’s Community Relations Director. Steve had spent the previous 17 years working for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) helping people and neighborhoods thrive by creating partnerships to “close systemic gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity.” Steve feels a strong call to do work that supports people at the neighborhood level. He has formal training in urban planning through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the University of Minnesota. 

This call, though, was shaped early on as the son of a campus pastor in central Illinois. Steve saw his father consistently working at the intersections of the university, the church, and the neighborhood. He learned first-hand about the positive impact local institutions can have on the lives of the people who share their neighborhood. Steve’s own personal call to do this bridging work has helped Augsburg University live more fully into our own call to be an engaged neighbor.

 

Augsburg University president, Paul Pribbenow, claims Augsburg’s identity as an anchor institution in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and we now play a key role in convening the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership. “Anchor institutions are enduring organizations that are rooted in their localities. It is difficult for them to leave their surroundings even in the midst of substantial capital flight.” Augsburg is deeply committed to the location and neighborhood where we find ourselves and we believe we have a responsibility to function in a certain way as an institution so that our neighbors and our neighborhood might thrive. Steve’s work puts this commitment into practice.

 

Through this work, Steve convenes the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Leadership Forum which is a community of business owners and leaders from the neighborhood who meet regularly to learn about one another’s work, discuss shared hopes and concerns, and create opportunities for collaboration. Steve sees his primary work as convener. These are gifts and committed leaders who don’t need Steve or Augsburg to lead for them, but they do need someone who is willing and able to convene other potential stakeholders and partners.

  Continue reading “Steve Peacock is Leading Augsburg into the Public Square for the Sake of our Neighbors”

End of 2022: Our Key Insights and What We Are Leaving Behind

 

A circle of the CCV staff's feet. Some have shoes on and some just have socks. It has been a year full of laughter, sorrow, change, hope, pain and so much more. We are grateful we are in this work together alongside such a wonderful staff and partners inside and outside of the Augsburg community. We asked our CCV staff to reflect on this last year asking what key insights are you carrying with you into 2023 and what are you leaving behind.

 

 

CCV Staff in the office before the Christensen SymposiumAdrienne

KEY INSIGHTS

Oh so many insights. One particularly is that boundaries help ground me and show people where I stand. They are actually a gift rather than a limitation. 

 

LEAVING BEHIND

Unrealistic expectations of people, relationships, communities. 

 

 

Amanda and Ellen outdoors on a bridge.Amanda

KEY INSIGHTS

This year I tried some new things, from sports to needle crafts. I learned that it’s important to keep practicing being a novice and it’s perfectly fine to be bad at things. 

LEAVING BEHIND

I am leaving behind the pressure of “should” and instead continuing to cultivate practices of patience and grace for myself. 

 

Ellen

KEY INSIGHTS

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. This year has been a year of returning back to my roots and what grounds me. What has allowed me to show up more fully and embodied has been setting and keeping boundaries. 

LEAVING BEHIND

I am leaving behind the pressure to say yes to more. If it isn’t a hell yes, then it’s a no for me right now. 

Continue reading “End of 2022: Our Key Insights and What We Are Leaving Behind”

The Story Remembered: Advent Vespers

Thursday, December 8

Advent Vespers Reflection by Geoffrey Gill

Isaiah 11:1-5

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

In Hebrew, Jesse means “God’s gift” or “God exists.” This passage revealed to me that God is inside me and God is growing. That his spirit has roots that are growing deep and branches that are stretching out of me. That as God grows within me so does God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding naturally flow more potently through me. I feel a presence of deep adoration, a humbleness, and awe. As my relationship with God grows- how I see and hear the world emerges through this relationship. God exists and is emerging in everyone around me; I just need to have the eyes to see. This is sometimes challenging, especially when we live in a chaotic and despondent world.

I pray that we remember “God works best in chaos’’ (Walter Brueggemann) and that we daily surrender to that which already lives inside of us. God exists! – That within our relationship with God we grow roots so deep we will be unshakable, branches so wide that we can touch others and they will be empowered, and that we provide shade for those in need of faith and rest.

Uncovering Vocation: A Series Highlighting the Vocation of Augsburg Staff and Faculty

Vocation is a term we use a lot around Augsburg. It can be vague. It can mean different things to different people. It can feel elusive and slippery. 

An attempt to explain vocation by Jeremy Myers: “You have probably heard the word vocation used to talk about one’s job. It is sometimes used to describe post-secondary educational institutions designed to train individuals for certain trades such as electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc. We use the term differently at Augsburg. It can be associated with your job, but it is also much more than that. Vocation is the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.”

On most 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, some of our favorite members of Augsburg University’s staff and faculty share their stories of their own vocations during chapel worship. Vocation is all around us, lived out in the here and now and in all departments and spaces at Augsburg. Together we can start uncovering vocation in all our lives. Learn more about Vocation here

We have been grateful to the staff and faculty who are willing to share their stories with our community. We are especially grateful to those who have already shared their stories the past two months. Paula O’Loughlin, Mike Grewe, Najeeba Syeed and Kao Nou Moua.

We hope you will join us this coming Tuesday, December 6th for our final vocation chapel of the year, “We Die, We Break, We Love:  A Jewish Story of Call and Response” Dr. Audrey Lensmire.

Check out the recording of Kao Nou Moua’s  vocation below and the past vocation chapels in our recent blog posts.

Kao Nou Moua:

“For some of us, our gifts and skills are still budding. For others, our gifts are in full bloom. And for others, our gifts are giving and giving. No matter what stage of budding we are, keep turning yourself out, and into the world. It’s amazing to realize that what the world needs is just the very thing you’re really good at.”

 

One Wild and Precious Life – Innerstanding Vocation by Geoffrey Gill

This is an exploration of an unfolding relationship with vocation. It all started back in 2008 during my freshman year at Augsburg. That’s when I was introduced to vocation. That’s when my life took a drastic turn and I tapped into something that woke me up and gave me a sense of purpose. 
While recording this video we explored the Christensen Symposium with Jeremy Myers and then we talked to current students and a faculty member about their thoughts around vocation and being a neighbor. I was able to weave all these different ideas together, over 14 years of exploring, to really innerstand* what vocation means to me. My hope is that this short video will spark something for you and that you will innerstand* your vocation is happening right now, right here in this very moment.
*(innerstand: knowing something as an experience; where one is able to make a personal connection, Not just a concept.

 

We Welcome You to Meet Our CCV Staff!

If you haven’t heard of the Christensen Center for Vocation before, we are a center that equips and accompanies students, staff, faculty, and ministry leaders as they engage in vocational discernment around how we are called to show up as neighbor in the world. 

We are a team that is passionate about our work and strive to create an environment where everyone can show up as their full beloved selves. We love visitors that come by to say hi! We are located in Memorial Hall 233 and are always prepared with coffee/tea and snacks! Get to know our awesome staff below! 

Jeremy Myers, PhD   (he/him) Jeremy Myers and Kristina Fruge in the CCV office. Jeremy is giving a thumbs up and Kristina is smiling with a laptop in her arms.

Executive Director, Christensen Center for Vocation

Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation

Describe your remote from home set up: When I need to be presentable, I set my laptop on our piano which looks out a large window with good light and have lovely bookshelves behind me. But then I constantly have to resist the urge to tickle the ivories during Zoom meetings. Other times I’m on my front or back porch. Either way the dog is sleeping somewhere nearby.

You’re called to do something brave, but your fear is real and stuck in your throat.  What’s the first thing you do? I place my right hand on my chest over my heart, close my eyes, and take a long deep breath.

Give us a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you great joy? Each morning I will have a cup of coffee either outside or near a window. This is my time to practice awareness and presence. I force myself to not check email or social media. I allow myself to just notice the cup of coffee.

What is something you have learned from a pet? We have a flat-coated retriever named Shadow. He is beautiful and goofy. They are known as the Peter Pan of the dog world, eternal puppies. Everytime he sees us come into the house – even if we were gone for 10 minutes – he will act like he hasn’t seen us in years. I would like to greet all my friends and family with that much joy.

What are your favorite things about fall? My favorite things about fall – noticing the leaves change as  I cross the Mississippi River each day, fires in the backyard, cooler weather, and everything seems to slow down.

Kristina bending down picking rocks on the Seattle coast. Kristina Frugé   (she/her)

Continue reading “We Welcome You to Meet Our CCV Staff!”

Stewarding Work with Hope and Lament by Amanda Vetsch

 

It’s sometimes strange to be a young adult that cares deeply about the church. I have so much hope for the possibility of a church that embodies God’s promises, and I lament the way in which the church has created, sustained, and participates in harm. 

So many of my peers who might consider themselves “Christian” have discerned that the institutional church isn’t something that they are willing to invest their energy or resources into any longer. We have often experienced church as a community that doesn’t live out the things it claims to believe in. When we’ve sought out a community of belonging that nourishes us and compels us to live our lives for the sake of the neighbor, we oftentimes found instead a place that intentionally or unintentionally perpetuates harm and exclusion, a place that continues to sustain white supremacy as the status quo, a community that prioritizes the privileged, and tokenizes people perceived as “other.”

Background of water flowing over rocks from a river with text over it "There’s often a really loud narrative about decline, death, and dying... And in the conversation about young adults and church, it often feels like the anxiety around scarcity gets aimed at young adults, seeing them as people who could become new members, and help lessen their anxiety about impending death, they could help lower the average age, and increase the monthly giving. And that is objectifying. It turns wonderful, gifted, wise humans into a “butt and bucks” . I, and my young adult peers, are so much more than that, and we’re seeking so much more than that out of a faith community. ~Amanda Vetsch"There are definitely churches and communities that are practicing their beliefs, and are committed to dismantling the systems of oppression, and living into God’s promises. And yet there are so many more that so badly want people to join them, and haven’t quite figured out how to let go of a way of life that’s no longer serving them, and not in alignment with God’s vision. 

There’s often a really loud narrative about decline, death, and dying. This narrative is one that comes out of a scarcity mindset, rather than abundance. And in the conversation about young adults and church, it often feels like the anxiety around scarcity gets aimed at young adults, seeing them as people who could become new members, and help lessen their anxiety about impending death, they could help lower the average age, and increase the monthly giving. And that is objectifying. It turns wonderful, gifted, wise humans into a “butt and bucks” . I, and my young adult peers, are so much more than that, and we’re seeking so much more than that out of a faith community. 

Realistically, we’re not going to save the church, quite frankly many of us don’t want to. There are parts of the church that I think should die, especially the parts that are interwoven with white supremacy, and perpetuating an oppressive, harmful status quo. 

For the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity work alongside faith communities that are chasing after what it could look like to be part of God’s redemptive work in our world, here and now, and wondering about and practicing a way of life together that brings flourishing and life to everyone. Continue reading “Stewarding Work with Hope and Lament by Amanda Vetsch”

The Kin-dom of Heaven is like a Front Porch By Kristina Frugé 

Jesus can regularly be heard saying “the kin-dom of heaven is like…” and then offering an image, a story, a metaphor to root this vision to a place or experience. It is like a mustard seed, a lost coin, wheat among the weeds, a treasure in clay jars, the leaven that makes bread rise. Kin-dom or reign of God are of course, in themselves a kind of metaphor that reflect the ancient context of their teacher.  These metaphors speak to the audience – an agricultural community of peoples around the turn of the century – as Jesus seeks to stir the people’s imagination for the kind of world God desires them to experience and participate in. 

Sts. Luke and James red front door with peace flags hung up on a string across the front yard.

The Riverside Innovation Hub and the congregational partners we’ve been blessed to learn alongside these past several years, have been about this kin-dom of God work too. I cannot remember ever using this language explicitly with our congregational learning communities. But what we have been talking about and working towards is cultivating more places and relationships that reflect the ways God intends for us to be and be together. We’ve been chasing after that call, one relationship at a time, one walk through our neighborhoods at a time, one story or surprise at a time. 

Kin-dom metaphors may not quite fit our current context, but the idea of a front porch has caught our imagination as a helpful metaphor to encourage the relationship building work we are trying to be about. Relationships that shape stories that shape neighborhoods that look and feel a little bit more like God’s good intentions for a whole, flourishing and connected creation – one neighborhood block at a time. 

On one of these neighborhood blocks – at the corner of Colfax and W 46th St. in south Minneapolis – sits Sts Luke & James Episcopal Church. Also on this corner block exists a front porch of sorts. It wasn’t always there, but a few years ago the folks from this congregation began seeking out places to listen to their neighbors and some hints of an invitation began to stir among them. Continue reading “The Kin-dom of Heaven is like a Front Porch By Kristina Frugé “

Launching the V-Portfolio: Why Vocation is Important By Jon Bates

I just about thought that I knew all that I needed to know about the term vocation as I began my role as the V-Portfolio Coordinator with the Christensen Center for Vocation. Turns out, the more I’ve worked on the V-Portfolio, the more I have realized how helpful being precise about what vocation is, intentional of discerning one’s own vocation, and being honest with yourself is for me and for students of Augsburg University.

Screenshot of home page of the V-portfolio website. Image of a car off-roading in the wilderness with text below explaining what the V-Portfolio is. With my role as the V-Portfolio Coordinator, I have been furthering the work of the V-Portfolio alongside the directors with the centers of commitment at Augsburg University; the Sabo Center, Strommen Center, Center for Global Education & Experience, and the Christensen Center for Vocation. The V-Portfolio is essentially an online E-Portfolio but with a foundation of using vocation as the grounding for students, hence the title, Vocation Portfolio. 

 

Within the updated V-Portfolio website students are introduced or reintroduced to the term vocation, as it is defined as, “the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.” Colloquially vocation has been coined as a term that means the type of career or lifestyle one aspires to have. Vocation is something that happens in the future and begins with the individual. The V-Portfolio offers a different definition of vocation. As through the V-Portfolio, vocation is framed to focus on the present and is in response to the world, the neighbor. This is important work as our vocation is compelled to move because of the neighbor and that we get to decide how to respond using our own gifts, knowledge, and talents.

Continue reading “Launching the V-Portfolio: Why Vocation is Important By Jon Bates”