Karen Swallor Prior was created to teach—that much was clear from her first semester standing at the head of a college English class. What’s surprising, though, is just how many avenues she’s discovered since for exercising her calling. While she primarily works as an English Professor at Liberty University, Prior is also an author, a pro-life activist, and a Research Fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention—all roles that require her to share her faith and passion for learning with the church and the world.
On this week’s episode of The Calling, Prior joins CT managing editor Richard Clark for a conversation about art, activism, and how literature can help the church to see the world anew.
On jobs, careers, and callings: “I don’t believe that we have just one calling as human beings…. I think about all the people in the world, now and in the past, who are slogging away at horrible jobs—coal miners in West Virginia, field workers in Africa—who are not passionate about their jobs, but they’re doing what they need to do to survive, and they’re doing it well. That is their calling. Whatever our definition or understanding of calling is, it cannot be limited to ‘the thing I like to do that’s going to bring me a paycheck.’”
On “reading” the world around her: “I think there is a literary way of approaching not just literature, but culture and the church—a way of analyzing a little bit more deeply, evaluating, interpreting with a broader perspective…. We do not have to abandon a single biblical principle or conviction in order to interact with the world and the culture in a way that is more circumspect, more literary, and more understanding of differences in language and layers of meaning.”
On the rise of digital culture: “The age of the book has been about 500 years. Books were not always around. I’m living right now in the period where the thing that I have devoted my life to is transitioning. I don’t think books will disappear—at least not in my lifetime—but still, the world has changed enough that something has come along that is supplementing or replacing books to a large degree. I think about it a lot, and I feel a lot of anguish over it.”
On her love for moderation: “Human history is a history of pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, and the truth that we should strive for—and actually, I think, the truth of the gospel—is in the middle.”
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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Jonathan Clauson.
Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.