Joy and the Act of Resistance Against Despair / Willie Jennings and Miroslav Volf
Play • 25 min

"I look at joy as an act of resistance against despair and its forces. ... Joy in that regard is a work, that can become a state, that can become a way of life." Willie Jennings joins Miroslav Volf to discuss the definition of joy as an act of resistance against despair, the counterintuitive nature of cultivating joy in the midst of suffering, the commercialization of joy in Western culture, joy segregated by racism and slavery, how Jesus expands and corrects our understanding of joy.

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Show Notes

  • Click here to watch the full interview in video
  • Click here to learn more about the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project
  • Defining joy—an act of resistance against despair
  • "Resisting all the ways in which life can be strangled and presented to us as not worth living"
  • Singing a song in a strange land
  • Making productive use of pain, suffering, and the absurd—taking them serious
  • How does one cultivate joy? You have to have people who can show you how to sing a song in a strand land, laugh where all you want to do is cry, and how to ride the winds of chaos.
  • "In contexts where your energies have to be focused on survival, it doesn’t leave a lot of energy for overt forms of complaint—you’re spending a lot of energy just trying to hold it together."
  • The commercialization of joy in the empire of advertising—contrasting that with the peoples serious work of joy
  • The work and skill of making something beautiful out of what has been thrown away
  • Segregated joy—joy in African diaspora communities
  • Joy is always embedded in community logics
  • The Christological center of joy
  • Pentecost joy—joy together
  • Geographies of joy: Christians tend not to think spatially, but we should
  • Public rituals bound to real space
  • Hoping for joyous infection, where the space has claimed you as its own
  • Where can joy be found? The church, the hospital room, the barber shop and beauty shops—“things are going to be better"

About Willie Jennings

Willie Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Africana Studies, and Religious Studies at Yale University; he is an ordained Baptist minister and is author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race,Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate, and most recently, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging. You can hear him in podcast episodes 7 and 13 of For the Life of the World.

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