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(RNS) — Theologian Miroslav Volf, who has written books on subjects ranging from the Trinity to the challenges of reconciliation in divided societies, has turned to what might seem like a frivolous subject: joy.
But Volf, 61, the leader of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, says studying the theology of joy with students and scholars is “hard work.”
Religion - News - Service - Difference - Joy
He spoke with Religion News Service about the difference between joy and happiness, biblical lessons on joy and how the average person can find joy.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Investigator - Yale - Divinity - School - Project
You are the principal investigator of Yale Divinity School’s project on the “Theology of Joy and the Good Life.” How do you define the theology of joy?
I think a theology of joy is a kind of theological endeavor that tries to determine the nature and the place of joy in human life. We study it from the perspective of the Christian account of the good life and the place joy has in that account.
Happiness - Point - View
How is joy different from happiness, especially from a religious point of view? Why isn’t happiness enough?
Happiness generally is today understood as a kind of pleasurable feeling of whatever sort that I might get. Joy has something specific about it. We rejoice when we are united with the object of our love, with things that we love. Joy is elicited when something good comes our way and, for the most part, when that good is unbidden, when it comes in a kind of gratuitous way.
Instance - Salary - Basis - Reason - Joy
For instance, I may get a good salary on a monthly basis and I think, “Oh, I work for it, I get it.” It’s not a particular reason for joy. It’s what normally happens. But if I get an unexpected bonus at the end of the year, then I rejoice. Something good has...
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