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Record Type: Review   ID: 135

Called by Name: Discovering Your Unique Purpose in Life

Furey, Robert J.

 I think of the experience of being called, or the sense of vocation, as a type of EHE. Sometimes people become aware of their callings through a different type of EHE, as in a transformative dream or hearing a voice. But if the experiencer feels viscerally addressed by the universe or the divine in a pointed personal way that reveals a path he or she must follow in order to serve life by making the best use of the person’s talents, I would call it an EHE of the vocation type. Furey writes well about the psychology of vocation. He also points out that the sense of vocation may be a spiritual experience in itself (an EHE, in other words), but he emphasizes that you do not need to be "spiritual" to be called out. Rather, pursuing one’s calling has "brought many people to a spiritual life. People who would never have listened to clergy, mystics, saints, or theologians have, throughout their own experiences, come to believe in callings" (pp. 42-43). He reviews what well-known scholars have written about the experience of being called: Jung, Frankl, Maslow. But his own voice echoes best what we have learned about EHEs. He says: "Your calling joins you with the rest of humanity, while it draws you out and encourages you to emerge as a singular character. It asks for union and individuality, each acting in harmony with the other. ... With a calling comes about an identity and a purpose" (pp. 55-56). He also reviews the conditions under which callings occur, which also overlap with the classes of EHEs. They can occur in moments of revelation or as peak-experiences, they can develop out of the ashes of devastating blows of fate ("survivor missions" is what Robert Lifton calls them). They can occur in synchronistic circumstances when seemingly by chance a person is in the right place at the right time. There is an excellent chapter on depotentiated callings that can be applied to any type of EHE. It is entitled "Callings Denied," and Fury gives 8 reasons why people avoid their callings, describing how people pay for denying their birthright. He also describes the stages of a calling, which are very much like those of the EHE process. The final chapter is a very useful one that describes "Hearing Your Calling, Seeing Your Vision, Finding Your Mission" (p. 133). Here again, there is much that is relevant to EHEs, both in regard to how they can make us aware of our callings and provide impetus to the calling at key moments. In addition, the guidance Furey supplies on responding to one’s calling can also relate to ways of responding to any EHE. It is evident that Furey is not only writing "about" the EHE of vocation, but he has experienced it as well.
Publisher Information:New York: Crossroad, 1996. 166p. Chapnotes: 163-166
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