I was listening to a podcast recently where they were talking about how different the USA is from the rest of the world. They talked about a Hungarian immigrant who had lived in the USA for many years. He went back to visit family and friends that he had not seen in many years. They were all together for an afternoon meal, and he found it interesting that nobody asked him what he did for a living in the US, but they only asked him if he was happy. It was not important what he was doing, only that he was happy.

Contrast that with our obsession with status here in the USA, and how when we meet somebody new, we asked them “what do you do”. I did that just the other day while talking to a surfer in the water [1].

We also do this in the Church, mostly with family or friends that we haven’t seen in a while. Asking “what is your calling” has given way to the more friendly “what do they having you doing in the church nowadays”. The former question requires an answer with a calling, or the dreaded “I don’t have a calling” followed by some excuse (we have a big ward, etc.). The latter can be answered with “not much”, which seems less harsh.

What is the experience of my dear readers that live outside the USA? Do you find that the uniquely American propensity to ask about jobs while meeting somebody has bled over to Church culture in your area, and asking about callings is normal?

And for my US readers, what is your experience with asking or being asking about callings? How do you answer?

[1] Turns out the guy I met while surfing in Kauai owns a wetsuit company (Cyber), and imports high end Japanese wetsuits to the US.