For the Life of the World / Yale Center for Faith & Culture

By Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Drew Collins, Evan Rosa

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What is a life worthy of our humanity? How can we live it? Featuring Yale's Miroslav Volf, Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Matt Croasmun, and Drew Collins for conversations exploring theology and culture. Hosted by Evan Rosa. A production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture.

Episode Date
Bo Karen Lee / Trauma and Spirituality: From Bystander to Beloved, From Alarmed Aloneness to Gazing Upon the God Who Gazes Upon Me With Love
00:38:28

How do you heal from trauma—whether individual, familial, or collective? Can Christian spirituality help? 

The tumultuous time we find ourselves in serves up regular doses of the suffering and pain of others—war wages destruction, migrants are left to die of heat exposure, hate crimes based in bigotry and fear of ethnicity or orientation or identity leave us all feeling numbed to our humanity; and with the aid of our phones, we even risk a dependency relationship with that trauma. It's constantly leveraged for political gain, power, money, or ugly fame. If we see the game of human culture as a zero-sum struggle for power, someone's political gain is always another's loss. Someone's joy another's sorrow.

How are we supposed to find our human siblings? Add to this the unspoken trauma that haunts so many of us—myself, you listeners, that person in your life who seems strong and impervious to harm—we all carry our lifetime's worth of trauma even if we act like it's not there. But as Bessel Vander Kolk's best selling title captures so well, even when your conscious mind does that surreptitious work to ignore, deny, suppress, or forget trauma—"the body knows the score." But perhaps so too the spirit knows the score.

Today, Bo Karen Lee joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz for a conversation on trauma and Ignatian spirituality. Bo is Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary, and has written and taught contemplative theology, prayer, and the connection between spirituality and social justice.

This conversation is a beautiful and sensitive—and sometimes quite raw—exploration of trauma and the human experience. But the clarity and courage reflected in Bo's presentation of how trauma threatens the human mind and body is matched by a powerful empathy and peace, as she reflects on moving through a spiritual journey from victim or bystander of trauma to a beloved, seen, known, and loved by God and other deeply caring helpers. The discussion that follows offers a concise introduction to the Ignatian spiritual tradition, as well as a holistic comment on how trauma at the individual, genetic, family, and national level can be acknowledged, addressed, and acted on.

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

About

Bo Karen Lee, ThM '99, PhD '07, is associate professor of spiritual theology and Christian formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She earned her BA in religious studies from Yale University, her MDiv from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and her ThM and PhD from Princeton Seminary. She furthered her studies in the returning scholars program at the University of Chicago, received training as a spiritual director from Oasis Ministries, and was a Mullin Fellow with the Institute of Advanced Catholic Studies. Her book, Sacrifice and Delight in the Mystical Theologies of Anna Maria van Schurman and Madame Jeanne Guyon, argues that surrender of self to God can lead to the deepest joy in God. She has recently completed a volume, The Soul of Higher Education, which explores contemplative pedagogies and research strategies. A recipient of the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, she gave a series of international lectures that included the topic, “The Face of the Other: An Ethic of Delight.”

She is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, and the American Academy of Religion; she recently served on the Governing Board of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, and is on the editorial board of the journal, Spirtus, as well as on the steering committee of the Christian Theology and Bible Group of the Society of Biblical Literature. Before joining Princeton faculty, she taught in the Theology Department at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she developed courses with a vibrant service-learning component for students to work at shelters for women recovering from drug addiction and sex trafficking. She now enjoys teaching classes on prayer for the Spirituality and Mission Program at Princeton Seminary, in addition to taking students on retreats and hosting meditative walks along nature trails.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Bo Karen Lee and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Annie Trowbridge and Luke Stringer
  • Special thanks to the Tyndale House Foundation for their generous support.
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jun 29, 2022
Lisa Sharon Harper / Fortune: How Race Broke My Family & the World—and How to Repair It All
00:48:47

Seldom do we think of the study of history as a journey of self-discovery. And if that claim has any truth, it's because we modern people tend to see ourselves as autonomous, independent, untethered, and unaffected by our biological and cultural genealogies. But there's a story in our DNA that didn't start with us. And Lisa Sharon Harper has been on a decades-long journey of self-discovery, piecing together her family's lineage from their arrival on America's shores—via slave boats, through the twists and turns of slavery and indentured servitude, through America's post-civil war attempt at Reconstruction, down into the shadowy valley of Jim Crow and twentieth-century Civil Rights struggle, all to her life in the present. Her book is Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World—and How to Repair It All. Evan Rosa recently spoke with Lisa at length about how race broke her world and how she traced her family line back beyond the founding of America. And in continued celebration of Juneteenth and the Black joy which has transcended centuries of oppression, the Black history that deserves to be named and known, and the Black freedom which is real and yet still not fully realized and repaired—thanks for listening today friends.

How to Buy Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World—and How to Repair It All:

About Lisa Sharon Harper

From Ferguson to New York, and from Germany to South Africa to Australia, Lisa Sharon Harper leads trainings that increase clergy and community leaders’ capacity to organize people of faith toward a just world. A prolific speaker, writer and activist, Ms. Harper is the founder and president of FreedomRoad.us, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by designing forums and experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment and common action.

Ms. Harper is the author of several books, including Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican…or Democrat (The New Press, 2008); Left Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Elevate, 2011); Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (Zondervan, 2014); and the critically acclaimed, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong can be Made Right (Waterbrook, a division of Penguin Random House, 2016). The Very Good Gospel, recognized as the “2016 Book of the Year” by Englewood Review of Books, explores God’s intent for the wholeness of all relationships in light of today’s headlines.

A columnist at Sojourners Magazine and an Auburn Theological Seminary Senior Fellow, Ms. Harper has appeared on TVOne, FoxNews Online, NPR, and Al Jazeera America. Her writing has been featured in CNN Belief Blog, The National Civic Review, Sojourners, The Huffington Post, Relevant Magazine, and Essence Magazine. She writes extensively on shalom and governance, immigration reform, health care reform, poverty, racial and gender justice, climate change, and transformational civic engagement.

Ms. Harper earned her Masters degree in Human Rights from Columbia University in New York City, and served as Sojourners Chief Church Engagement Officer. In this capacity, she fasted for 22 days as a core faster in 2013 with the immigration reform Fast for Families. She trained and catalyzed evangelicals in St. Louis and Baltimore to engage the 2014 push for justice in Ferguson and the 2015 healing process in Baltimore, and she educated faith leaders in South Africa to pull the levers of their new democracy toward racial equity and economic inclusion.

In 2015, The Huffington Post named Ms. Harper one of 50 powerful women religious leaders to celebrate on International Women’s Day. In 2019, The Religion Communicators Council named a two-part series within Ms. Harper’s monthly Freedom Road Podcast “Best Radio or Podcast Series of The Year”. The series focused on The Roots and Fruits of Immigrant Labor Exploitation in the US. And in 2020 Ms. Harper received The Bridge Award from The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation in recognition of her dedication to bridging divides and building the beloved community.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Lisa Sharon Harper
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Special thanks to Lisa Sharon Harper and Katie Zimmerman at FreedomRoad.us
  • Production Assistance by Annie Trowbridge and Luke Stringer
  • Episode Art by Luke Stringer
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jun 21, 2022
Amy Brown Hughes / Hospitable Theology: Space for Questions, Diversity, and Reflection
00:17:11

Does your approach to theology bring healing and reconciliation? Does it introduce Christianity as a way of life and peace, flourishing, justice, and shalom? Does your theology have space for diverse and difficult questions to occupy the same space? That kind of hospitable theology would indeed make a difference in our world. Today on the show, we're playing a conversation between Matt Croasmun and Amy Brown Hughes, Associate Professor of Theology at Gordon College and author of Christian Women in the Patristic World. Amy and Matt reflect on the promise and hope of a hospitable theology, grounded in a way of life, sensitive to the difference theology makes for the most pressing issues of our lives today.

About Amy Brown Hughes

Amy Brown Hughes is Associate Professor of Theology at Gordon College. She received her Ph.D. in historical theology with an emphasis in early Christianity from Wheaton College and is the author (with Lynn H. Cohick, Wheaton College) of Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority and Legacy in the Second Through Fifth Centuries (Baker Academic). Amy also received a M.A. in history of Christianity from Wheaton College and her B.A. in theology and historical studies from Oral Roberts University. While at Wheaton, she worked with the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies, which encourages dialogue about the interplay between our modern world and early Christian texts. The overarching theme of Amy’s work as a historical theologian is that early Christian writers continue to be fruitful interlocutors in modern discussions of theology. Her research interests include Eastern Christianity, Trinitarian and Christological thought, Christian asceticism, theological anthropology, the intersection of philosophy and theology, and highlighting the contributions of minority voices to theology, especially those of women. Her dissertation, “‘Chastely I Live for Thee’: Virginity as Bondage and Freedom in Origen of Alexandria, Methodius of Olympus, and Gregory of Nyssa,” explores how early Christian virgins contributed substantively to the development of Christology. She regularly presents papers at the annual meeting of the North American Patristics Society.

Recently, Amy contributed to an edited volume of essays from a symposium on Methodius of Olympus at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany,Methodius of Olympus: State of the Art and New Perspectives(De Gruyter) and co-authored a series of essays about early Christian writers with George Kalantzis (Wheaton College) for the early Christianity section of a volume for Protestant readers of the Christian tradition (T&T Clark).

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Amy Brown Hughes and Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jun 11, 2022
Eric Gregory / Theology as a Way of Life
00:18:18

If we all weren't so cynical, we might expect professional ethicists—or say a professor of ethics or morality at a university—to also be a really morally virtuous and good person. And by extension, you might also expect a theologian to be a person of deeper faith. And that's because intellectual reflection about matters of justice, right and wrong, God and human flourishing all cut to the core of what it means to be human, and the things you discuss in an ethics or theology course, if you took those ideas seriously, just might change the way you live.

Today, in our series on the Future of Theology, Matt Croasmun hosts Eric Gregory, Professor of Religion at Princeton University and author of Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship. Eric reflects on what it's like to teach theology in a secular institution—the good, the bad, and the ugly of that exercise; the complications of making professors of humanities, ethics, and religion into moral or spiritual exemplars; the centrality of the good life in the purpose of higher education; and the importance of discerning and articulating the multifarious visions of the good life that are presumed by the institutional cultures in which we live, and move, and have our being.

About Eric Gregory

Eric Gregory is Professor of Religion at Princeton University. He is the author of Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship (University of Chicago Press, 2008), and articles in a variety of edited volumes and journals, including the Journal of Religious Ethics, Modern Theology, Studies in Christian Ethics, and Augustinian Studies. His interests include religious and philosophical ethics, theology, political theory, law and religion, and the role of religion in public life. In 2007 he was awarded Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. A graduate of Harvard College, he earned an M.Phil. and Diploma in Theology from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his doctorate in Religious Studies from Yale University. He has received fellowships from the Erasmus Institute, University of Notre Dame, the Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization at New York University School of Law. Among his current projects is a book tentatively titled, The In-Gathering of Strangers: Global Justice and Political Theology, which examines secular and religious perspectives on global justice. Former Chair of the Humanities Council at Princeton, he also serves on the the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Ethics and sits with the executive committee of the University Center for Human Values.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured religious ethicist Eric Gregory and biblical scholar Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jun 04, 2022
Unimaginable: A Reflection after Uvalde
00:10:16

Ryan McAnnally-Linz reflects on the May 24, 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

May 30, 2022
Keri Day / Targeting Normative Theology: Lived Experience, Practice, and Confessional Theology
00:16:59

Miroslav Volf has said that every Christian is a theologian. This is important not so much because it demands of an individual Jesus-follower to exert the best of her cognitive abilities, but because it demands of theologians that theology take seriously the experience, perception, and lived realities of human life. As part of our Future of Theology series, Keri Day (Princeton Theological Seminary) joins Matt Croasmun to discuss the purpose and promise of theology today, honing in on this phenomena and the temptation to see theology as an abstract exercise cut off from the particularities of faith. 

Keri Day is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary. She’s author of Unfinished Business: Black Women, The Black Church, and the Struggle to Thrive in America as well as Religious Resistance to Neoliberalism: Womanist and Black Feminist Perspectives. 

About Keri Day

Keri Day is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary. She’s author of Unfinished Business: Black Women, The Black Church, and the Struggle to Thrive in America as well as Religious Resistance to Neoliberalism: Womanist and Black Feminist Perspectives. 

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Keri Day and Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Nathan Jowers and Annie Trowbridge
  • Episode Art by Luke Stringer
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 28, 2022
Luke Bretherton / (Un)Common Life: Secularity, Religiosity, and the Tension Between Faith and Culture
00:30:46

Jesus's teaching to be in but not of the world (John 17:14-15) has gone from a mode of prophetic witness that could lead to martyrdom, to bumper sticker ethics that either feeds the trolls or fuels the tribe. We're in a moment where the ways that Christianity's influence on culture—and vice versa—are writ large and undeniable. And yet, how are we to understand it? How are we to live in light of it? How does that relationship change from political moment to political moment? In this conversation, ethicist Luke Bretherton (Duke Divinity School) joins Matt Croasmun to reflect on the purpose of theology as a way of life committed to loving God and neighbor; the essential virtue of listening and its role in public theology; the interrelation between Church and World; the temptation to see the other as an enemy to be defeated rather than a neighbor to be loved; and how best to understand secularism and religiosity today.

Show Notes 

  • Do you call yourself a theologian? 
  • “You can't understand the water you're swimming in without understanding something of the theological frameworks that have helped shape it”
  • Where does the idea that our contemporary context is secular come from? 
  • “The world is as furiously religious as ever”
  • People think that our modern age is like a shower, that we can just “step into the shower and be washed clean from the foul accretions of superstition and step out enlightened, rational men and women,” but we're actually in a ‘jacuzzi’ of ideas
  • The internet and plurality of opinion
  • What happens when we step away from the institutional framework of the Church?
  • “Who tells the children what Christianity is, who tells the children, what Islam is?”
  • Do you actually want to show up on a Sunday? 
  • Then tension between believing and belonging
  • Sacrality and its many guises 
  • “The many forms of life which we don't necessarily name as religious, but they're functioning in that way”
  • How do we name them? 
  • If you talk to an atheist, they feel marginalized in this country, but if you talk to an Evangelical Christian they feel the same way 
  • “Everyone feels under threat, whether you're a humanist or an atheist or a Christian or Muslim”
  • “But if you take the victim view, it generates a failure of imagination, a failure of patience, and a failure of paying attention”
  • Churches talk a lot about how to speak but not about how to listen 
  • “What does Christian listening look like in a pluralistic context?”
  • Learning something about God by talking to an atheist
  • Listening is pointing to what is already there: “We point to what Christ and the Spirit are already doing. And it is a privilege is to participate in that.”
  • What is truth?
  • “It is how well you love God and neighbor. And the apprehension of the truth is measured by the quality of the relationships”
  • “So, I think faith begins with hearing and listening first”
  • What’s right with theology? 
  • How can we have a synthesis of tradition and critique? 
  • Having a sensitivity to political order and whether it is constructive or destructive is theological work 
  • Epistemic humility and interdisciplinary study 
  • The beauty in becoming aware of what you don’t know 
  • What is the state of the field right now? 
  • The overemphasis on the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the world as it is versus the world as it should be
  • Cynicism and redundancy
  • “If all we’re saying is that wolves eat sheep, well, we kind of knew that already”
  • What is a realistic hopefulness? What does ‘the world as it should be’ feel, taste, smell like? 
  • What is the purpose of theology? 
  • It “articulates what it means to heal a particular form of life in the light of who we understand God to be”
  • “There shouldn't be an over-inflation of what theology, as a technical act, does. But neither is it nothing”
  • “It is a cultivation of a faithful, hopeful and loving way of being alive”

About Luke Bretherton

Luke Bretherton is Robert E. Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Theology and senior fellow of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. Before joining the Duke faculty in 2012, he was reader in Theology & Politics and convener of the Faith & Public Policy Forum at King's College London. His latest book is Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy (Eerdmans, 2019). His other books include Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which was based on a four-year ethnographic study of broad-based community organizing initiatives in London and elsewhere; Christianity & Contemporary Politics: The Conditions and Possibilities of Faithful Witness (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), winner of the 2013 Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing; and Hospitality as Holiness: Christian Witness Amid Moral Diversity (Routledge, 2006), which develops constructive, theological responses to pluralism in dialogue with broader debates in moral philosophy. Specific issues addressed in his work include euthanasia and hospice care, debt and usury, fair trade, environmental justice, racism, humanitarianism, the treatment of refugees, interfaith relations, secularism, nationalism, church-state relations, and the church’s involvement in social welfare provision and social movements. Alongside his scholarly work, he writes in the media (including The GuardianThe Times and The Washington Post) on topics related to religion and politics, has worked with a variety of faith-based NGOs, mission agencies, and churches around the world, and has been actively involved over many years in forms of grassroots democratic politics, both in the UK and the US. His primary areas of research, supervision, and teaching are Christian ethics, political theology, the intellectual and social history of Christian moral and political thought, the relationship between Christianity and capitalism, missiology, interfaith relations, and practices of social, political, and economic witness. He has received a number of grants and awards, including a Henry Luce III Fellowship (2017-18).

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured ethicist Luke Bretherton and Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production & Editorial Assistance by Nathan Jowers and Annie Trowbridge
  • Illustration: Luke Stringer
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 21, 2022
Tyler Roberts / Taking Theology Seriously: A Perspective from Outside Christian Theology
00:22:15

Over the past two centuries, colleges have slowly replaced theology departments with religious studies departments. But what happens when theology becomes religious studies? It can produce a more neutral, observational approach that might not fully appreciate the normative claims of religious adherents and their values, commitments, and beliefs.

A careful historical and objective study of religious history and the dimensions of religious practice are deeply valuable. But engaging religious texts and voices without a serious appreciation for the normative elements—that is, the things about a theological or religious idea that means your life would have to change—that would be a problem. It would evacuate the true substance and meaning of theological claims as they're experienced by religious adherents. But it would also fail to form students of religion and the humanities in a way that poses significant challenges to their own lived experience. For living a life worthy of their humanity.

Today, we share a conversation between Tyler Roberts and Matt Croasmun from November 2016. Tragically, Roberts died at the age of 61 on June 3, 2021. He was Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College. In this conversation, Roberts reflects on the contribution of theology to the humanities, the role of religious studies in a critical examination of theology, and the importance of appreciating the kinds of theological and moral claims that can change your life. May his memory be a blessing. 

Show Notes

  • What happens when theology becomes religious studies? 
  • Is serious appreciation missing? 
  • How does theology contribute to the humanities? 
  • What is going right in Christian theology? 
  • Scholars like say what they do ‘is not theology,’ but they have the wrong definition of theology, according to Tyler
  • “We who care about studying religion have ‘dropped the ball’” 
  • “It’s helpful to the Church to have external critique”
  • Theology as a straw man 
  • What could theology be saying to those outside of the field?
  • “The line between theology as data and theology as something else is pretty blurry” 
  • Theology reveals how self-critical religious people are 
  • “More interestingly to me is how those of us in religious studies, perhaps the academy more broadly, can learn how to think from theologians” 
  • ‘Critical ascent’
  • The humanities can raise great questions, but can they articulate normative positions? 
  • Theology and credulity 
  • “It’s seemingly either/or, either you’re going to be critical, or you’ll believe anything” 
  • How religious people appear credulous in the eyes of the secular 
  • But in actuality, theology charts out how we come to our beliefs
  • “There’s nothing particularly blind about this”
  • Hermeneutics of suspicion 
  • Students are very good at pointing to the limitations of a text
  • But how can we engage in texts in ways that make students think about their own lives? 
  • “That’s a much harder task, and it’s one that many students, I find, aren’t that comfortable with” 
  • It’s hard! 
  • “Humanities is about reading not just what was true for the author, but what is true for me” 
  • “How can we take these texts as real options for us?”
  • Christian theology has an important role to play in the pluralistic conversation
  • How does someone think constructively and critically at the same time? How theologians can teach us that 
  • Obituary: Tyler Roberts (1960-2021) (Political Theology)

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Tyler Roberts and Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Nathan Jowers and Luke Stringer
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Apr 09, 2022
Aristotle Papanikolaou / Russian Christian Nationalism and Eastern Orthodoxy (and How Culture Wars Contributed to the War in Ukraine)
00:38:16

"Real wars always begin with culture wars." Theologian Aristotle Papanikolaou discusses Eastern Orthodox perspectives on war and violence; the impact of Communism on Eastern Orthodox theology; the complicated ecclesial structures of Eastern Orthodoxy, where bishops, patriarchs, and nation-states interact in unpredictable ways; he reflects on Eastern Orthodoxy in Russia and Ukraine, the ways Christianity is enmeshed and caught up in the authoritarian, nationalist regime under Putin, and the idea of  "Russkii Mir" (the Russian world), which has come to motivate and justify a great deal of violence and aggression in the name of peace and unity.

About

Aristotle Papanikolaou is Professor of Theology and the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture at Fordham University. He co-directs the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, and is author of The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy and has edited several volumes of Eastern Orthodox theological and political perspectives.

Show Notes

  • The long, complicated relationship between Eastern Orthodoxy and Communism in the former Soviet Union
  • David Bentley Hart on Orthodoxy and Communism (NYT article)
  • Eastern Orthodoxy on the ethics of war (book: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on War)
  • What's a patriarch? What's a patriarchate?
  • What does that mean for autonomy and power?
  • How does Ukraine factor in Orthodox patriarchates?
  • Autocephalous Ukrainian Church
  • 2022 Sunday of Forgiveness sermon. Kirill states: Russia promotes traditional values, Ukraine led astray by western liberals and Nazis.
  • How does theology function in this conversation?
  • "Russkii Mir" as a political idea: we're one people with a common heritage
  • "To be Russian meant to be Orthodox."
  • Russian "Democracy"
  • Heresy of "Russkii Mir"
  • "A God given mission to save Ukrainians from themselves."
  • Theology of History
  • Formal and Material levels
  • Christian faith is a trans-national faith
  • Greece: "So in your country, are you Orthodox?"
  • Saving Ukrainians
  • Long-term implications
  • Dynamics within Orthodox Church
  • The hope for reconciliation: "that will take decades in my opinion"
  • Culture wars
  • Visit Public Orthodoxy online
  • Visit Fordham's Orthodox Christian Studies Center

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Aristotle Papanikolaou and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Image Credit: An Orthodox church in Malyn, Ukraine, northwest of Kyiv, destroyed by Russian warplanes. Miguel A Lopes/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Apr 04, 2022
Katherine Sonderegger / God, the Great Hope of Theology
00:22:36

What is the future of theology? We asked that question of several leading theologians 7 years ago, including today's featured guest, Katherine Sonderegger, The William Meade Chair of Systematic Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary, a priest in the Episcopal Church, and has written widely, covering Creation, Christology, Election, the Jewishness of Jesus...

Her approach to theology is beautifully summed up in the following, “There really is no more beautiful thought in all reality than the thought of God. I believe that theology is ultimately just that: thinking the thought of God and worshipping the Reality who is God.”

In this conversation, Katherine Sonderegger joins Matt Croasmun to discuss the importance of a free and unapologetic, unembarrassed approach to Christian theology; the interplay of Christian theology with other religious texts and pluralistic perspectives; the practice of peace, listening, and being knit together even in difference; the strong unity and center of theology, which is the capital-R Reality that is God, who is, in Sonderegger's words, "the great hope of theology."

Show Notes

  • What’s right with theology these days? 
  • Women and theology 
  • The relationship between Old Testament studies, New Testament studies, and theology
  • “In the major universities, it is an odd thing to be a religious person”
  • Intellectualism, depth and transcendence 
  • The relationship between Christianity and Judaism
  • Christianity between Judaism and Islam
  • What is central to Christianity? 
  • Ties between Christian faith and the secular realm
  • “Religious people can bring our own reflections on wisdom, as well as folly” 
  • Thomas Aquinas and God 
  • ‘God and all things in relation to God’ 
  • Theology and thinking the sublime 
  • Theology is for exploration of God 
  • Intellectual worship of God 
  • Does theology have a center?
  • Scripture and the mystery of God 
  • “I want to see theology losing itself in the ocean of reality”
  • God’s abundance 
  • Galatians 5:14 “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Loving God through love of neighbor
  • Augustine: “Love God and do what you will” 
  • The future of the field of theology 
  • “God is the great hope of theology”
  • indifference to religion 
  • The seminary graduates fill her with hope 
  • “If it is of God, it cannot fail” 

About Katherine Sonderegger 

Katherine Sonderegger is The William Meade Chair of Systematic Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary. She joined the VTS faculty in 2002, after fifteen years as a professor of religion at Middlebury College. Her academic career began at Smith College, where she undertook interdisciplinary research in medieval studies. Her priestly vocation began at Yale Divinity School, where she completed her M.Div. and STM degrees, writing a thesis on feminist theology. The first years after graduation brought her to congregational ministry and chaplaincy training at Yale New Haven Hospital. Raised a Presbyterian, the Reformed roots run deep in her vocation. She brought these into the Episcopal Church when she was ordained deacon and priest in 2000.

Twin topics have characterized her academic career: the dogmatic theology of Karl Barth and constructive work in systematic theology. She has published in several areas of Barth studies, from Barth’s interpretation of Israel, Jews, and Judaism, to his Doctrine of God, his Christology, and his remarkable exegesis of Scripture. More recently, Sonderegger has turned to constructive theology, writing shorter works on the Doctrines of Election, Creation, and Christology, and launching a new systematics. Volume 1: The Doctrine of God appeared under the aegis of Fortress Press in 2015, and Volume 2: The Trinity: Processions and Persons was published in 2020. She is currently working on Volume 3: Divine Missions, Christology, and Pneumatology.

Sonderegger is also the author of That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew: Karl Barth’s “Doctrine of Israel” (University Park: Penn State Press, 1992) and coauthor, with artist Margaret Adams Parker, of Praying the Stations of the Cross: Finding Hope in a Weary Land (Wm. Eerdmans Press, 2019).

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologian Katherine Sonderegger and biblical scholar Matthew Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production and Editorial Assistance Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Mar 27, 2022
Miroslav Volf / War in Ukraine: Theological and Moral Reflections
00:31:33

Miroslav Volf offers his personal reflections about the war on Ukraine. His theological and ethical commentary speaks to various facets of the situation, including: the global cultural clash between authoritarian nationalism and pluralistic democracy; the primacy and priority of God's universal and unconditional love for all humanity, including evildoers; the call to actively resist evil and guard our humanity; the importance of truth in an age of disinformation and suppression of real facts; the need for Christians to remain "unreliable allies" with governments or parties while remaining faithful to the humanity in the friend, neighbor, stranger, and enemy; but ultimately his message is one to soberly—and dare I suggest joyfully, with unabashed hope—lift up our hearts (and the hearts of those suffering through war, dislocation, death, and destruction) to the Lord.

Episode Art Provided by Fyodor Raychynets. "ні війні!" = "NO WAR!"

Show Notes 

  • Gustavo Gutiérrez, On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent
  • Gustavo Gutierrez, The God of Life
  • Miroslav’s experience in Yugoslavia in the 90s and how it is reflected in Ukraine
  • The theological dimension of the war in Ukraine 
  • “The war in Ukraine is part of a resurgence of nationalism as a global phenomenon”
  • Two types of nationalism: exclusive nationalism, inclusive nationalism or patriotism
  • Russian nationalism and the superiority of an ethnic group, the Russian Orthodoxy
  • “What is the role of religion in the public sphere?"
  • To what extent do Christians have stake in advocating for any position? 
  • The birth of Russian Orthodoxy in Kyiv 
  • The origins of faith and nation in Russia 
  • “Such close ties between religion and religious sacred spaces have made religion complicit in the violence of the state”
  • Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
  • How Russian Orthodoxy is divided – the war is fought internally, rather than between Roman Catholicism + Protestantism and Orthodoxy on the other 
  • the division between The Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Muscovite Patriarchate is reflected in the divisions in global Orthodoxy
  • The struggle within Orthodoxy for primacy in Moscow
  • God is love
  • “God does not simply love and therefore can love or not love, but God actually is love always and without exception. And therefore that the love of enemy is a central tenant of the Christian faith”
  • Every single oppressed and suffering person and every single wrongdoer, no matter how heinous the crimes they've committed, every single individual is an object of God's unconditional love.”
  • John 1:29  "The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world"
  • “in secular terms, we ought to respect the humanity of each person, even the worst among us, and that we ought to care for them”
  • God's love for the weak and assaulted 
  • Love for the enemy
  • How does this fit with the idea of Jesus’ teaching on non-resistance? 
  • “Resistance against the aggressor can be, and I think ought to be, an expression of love, both for the victims of aggression and for the aggressor”
  • The Just War Theory: there are different ways to transform an aggressor 
  • “I myself do not subscribe to Just War Theory”
  • I think that any engagement with the enemy has to be led by the command of love
  • Oliver O’Donovan and love of the enemy 
  • “The interest of the Christian faith is also interest in the good of the aggressor. And we cannot exempt the aggressor from the universality of the love of God”
  • “It's crucial to keep careful watch over the state of our humanity. Evil is infectious, especially for those who struggle against it”
  • Collective guilt
  • “It has been said that truth is often the first victim of war”
  • What is the place of emotions in war? 
  • Job and suffering
  • “What's really interesting is that Job dares to speak to God. He brings his anger, his lament, his disappointment, all of this displaced before God”
  • How truth can transform anger 
  • Psalm 137 “Blessed is the one who dashes your little ones against the rock”
  • Karl Barth: “Christians and unreliable allies.” Their ultimate allegiance is to God, not to a political party 
  • Ron Williams: “God has no particular interest of God’s own”
  • The strength of pluralistic democracies 
  • “One of the reasons for the rise of authoritarianism is a certain dysfunctionality of pluralistic democracies”
  • Reconciliation 
  • One way to reconcile is to enforced peace and suppress war 
  • But reconciliation is a moral practice 
  • “Naming the wrong that has been committed and finding ways to go beyond that, to live together in peace"
  • How to sustain hope in the midst of such overwhelming powers of evil
  • "sursum corda,”"lift up your hearts," or more literally "hearts up!"

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologian Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Logan Ledman, and Annie Trowbridge
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Mar 19, 2022
A Voice from Kyiv: Fyodor Raychynets / Faithful Presence in the War on Ukraine
00:43:14

Today we're sharing a conversation between Miroslav Volf and Fyodor Raychynets, a former student of Miroslav's when he taught at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia in the early '90s. Fyodor is a theologian and pastor in Kyiv, and is head of the department of theology at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary on the northwest outskirts of the city, 20 kilometers outside downtown Kyiv.

We spoke to Fyodor on Sunday, March 13, 2022, just as he came in for the 8pm curfew after a day of feeding the elderly, the sick, weary soldiers, and women and children stuck in the basements without electricity, without clean water, without medication, and increasingly, without a clear idea of how any of this will end for them. That day Fyodor visited his seminary campus to find it had been shelled by three missiles, destroying much of the campus, including his office, leaving his library of books destroyed.

In this conversation, Fyodor shares his experience, now after 20 days of war, 20 days of being under siege, and 20 days of prayer and feeding the hungry.

Fyodor posts daily updates and reflections on his Facebook page, you can find a link in the show notes. Each daily post begins with developments in the war and how it's impacting him, his team of fellow ministers, and the city around him. He then reflects on the nature of war itself, and its impact on human life. He closes each post with a prayer for Ukraine, for freedom, for humanity. I'll quote just a few of his moving passages.

Day 7, "War is when the safest place to sleep in your apartment is the bathroom, although that's obviously for other purposes.."

Day 11, "War is when the most vulnerable suffer. That's when ordinary things, for example, going to the store and buying fresh, warm and fragrant Ukrainian bread (I've visited about 70 countries, but I've never eaten such delicious bread) become impossible. It's when you meet people every day who haven't eaten bread for 4 or 5 days, not to mention anything else...."

Day 15, "War is when evil reaches unseen dimensions and lowest forms, and when good manifests itself in its highest manifestations against the backdrop of total uncontrollable madness."

Day 19, "War is when you wake up in the morning, if you managed to fall asleep at all, not from the alarm clock or birds singing, but to the sounds of sirens, or bomb explosions that make you tremble. War is when your emotional state shifts from optimistic to pessimistic more often than in peaceful time, and the emotional range itself is much wider."

Day 20, written just a few hours ago. "War is when your understanding changes when not in theory but in practice you especially appreciate the moment "here and now" and live it more consciously..."

Show Notes

  • "War is when the safest place to sleep in your apartment is the bathroom”
  • Fyodor’s connection with Miroslav Volf, and his experience with war in Croatia and Bosnia
  • “I was joking when I was coming back to Ukraine... that ‘I am returning to the most peaceful country in the world.’ And here we are.”
  • “When the US government and UK government warned us about the impending full-scale invasion of Russian troops, we thought that they were exaggerating.”
  • Three missiles hit his campus the day before this interview
  • Fyodor’s volunteer group feeds the elderly trapped in basements                                                                                                                         
  • Why Fyodor decided to stay and help, rather than leave
  • “Thanks to God, I was able to evacuate my children.”
  • The risks involved in visiting those trapped in basements
  • "Is it worth that degree of risk?"
  • Fyodor’s seminary was hit by a missile: “Let me put it in one word: it's an apocalyptic scene, you know?”
  • Giving communion in a destroyed landscape, “What does Christ's body, given for the life of the world, mean in that moment?”
  • “I started to believe in what we called an open Lord's Supper: when everyone is welcomed”
  • Giving communion to people from different religious backgrounds
  • ‘What the people ask for’ 
  • Grappling with the Russian support for Putin’s war: “It’s a wider problem”
  • “When the intellectuals support that kind of aggression, we have a serious problem.”
  • “Ukrainians were always a pain in the back to the Russians because of our free will. We love freedom.”
  • Is the Russian Orthodox Church involved in a Russian imperial project?
  • Public versus private support of the war, and neutrality, by the Russian Church
  • “Martin Luther King used to say there is a special place in hell for these kinds of people who pull or choose neutrality in the times of moral crisis.”
  • “As we say in Ukraine, the war did not start 18 days ago, it started eight years ago.”
  • How can our humanity be preserved in the midst of evil? 
  • “I have to remind myself on a daily basis that we are humans and we are-- not just remain --but it is so crucial, in the midst of hell, not to lose our humanity. But to preserve it, and to show it, and to demonstrate it.”
  • How to keep anger from taking control 
  • Is faith a consolation? 
  • “It is challenging to sustain a faith in the situation where there is a sense that you cannot control anything that is happening.”
  • Faith and responsibility 
  • “Your faith is challenged by this simple statement of a soldier who says, ‘You go there on your own responsibility.’”
  • Faith tested by family as much as the war
  • 1 John: “Love conquers all fear”
  • Emotional extremes in wartime, and the simple comforts of a croissant from the local church 
  • “I don't know what's wrong with the policy in this world that we cannot square one crazy dictator.”

 

About Fyodor Raychynets

Fyodor Raychynets is a theologian and pastor in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is Head of the Department of Theology at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in Leadership and Biblical Studies, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. He studied with Miroslav Volf at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. 

Follow him on Facebook here.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Fyodor Raychynets and Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Mar 15, 2022
Willie Jennings / The Christian Imagination: Theological Complexity, Communication, Cultivation, and Community
00:28:39

Willie James Jennings (Yale Divinity School) joins Matt Croasmun for a conversation about the future of theology, addressing the Christian inability to hold complexity, public communication, and deep formation together in a way that shows how theology is for our very lives.

Seven years ago the Yale Center for Faith and Culture interviewed a diverse array of theologians about the present woes and future potential of theology. Some five years and a pandemic later, the landscape of theological education seems like it's at a crossroads. The driving purpose of Christian higher education is in question as colleges, universities, and seminaries across denominations and around the world consider how they'll move forward in the wake of stark realities this pandemic laid bare. So it's worth revisiting the conversation to see what has changed, what holds true, and what hopes we're still holding on to. For today’s episode, we're featuring a conversation between Matt Croasmun and Dr. Willie James Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School, an ordained Baptist minister, and author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, and more recently After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging. Willie reminds us to be looking for the opportunities in the middle of crises of theological education; he worries about the inability to hold complexity, public communication, and deep formation together in a way that shows how theology is for our very lives; he speaks to the recent aversion to pastoral ministry, which is theology for the sake of the people; he touches on the role of Christian theology in a pluralistic world, asking how theologians might learn from comedians; and he encourages all Christians to take up the theological call to courage, the call to see, listen, and and alleviate suffering, and the call to a theology of life.

Show notes

  • How to make theology attractive 
  • Who do we want to teach? 
  • Secular religious studies versus confessional environments
  • “Never let a good crisis go to waste” 
  • educational ecology: learning environments 
  • Doctoral students, do you want to be a teacher? 
  • The pastor versus the professor: the call to teach 
  • Theology and plurality 
  • Theology and violence: naming the pressure points of suffering 
  • The Christian frame versus the real matter at hand 
  • “We want to be asking human questions, they’re not just Christian questions” 
  • The alleviation of pain and suffering comes before questions of the good life 
  • The real goal is the healthy neighborhood
  • Reverence and theology 

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.

Other Episodes Featuring Willie Jennings

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologian Willie James Jennings and biblical scholar Matthew Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Mar 12, 2022
Fernando Segovia / Global Crisis and the Hope for Global Flourishing
00:28:24

As Christians around the world heard these words spoken on Ash Wednesday this past week, as an ashen oil was smudged to their brows, the world watched on in horror and grief over the brutality and aggression against Ukraine. In a swift movement of solidarity, we're all still are left with difficult and enduring questions. Why this war? What is at stake? How did we get here and what can we do? How can we stop this in a way that might hang on to a hope for peace?

But as finite, limited beings brought forth from dust, we quickly run to the end of our ability to explain. And like so many problems in our world, we're just left with further questions: What does it mean to be a Christian in a world where so many of our systems are dehumanizing? What duties are incumbent upon us as Christians, as humans? How can we learn and share a global flourishing that respects and honors all?

In this week's episode, Matt Croasmun interviews Fernando Segovia, the Oberlin Graduate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins. And as a Cuban American theologian and biblical scholar, he is devoted in elevating voices outside of the dominant Western culture, and advocating for a a truly global Christianity one that is relevant to lived realities across the world. In this conversation, he reflects on the importance of learning about Christianity as a set of global and multidimensional traditions. He discusses the duties of Christians to critique human culture and society, including their own; he suggests that utopian visions can and do inform the moral and spiritual imagination in our imperfect world, but must avoid naïveté and invite constant critique and correction. 

Show notes

  •   Theology at the global level 
  • Theology and seriousness in institutions of learning
  • Christian studies and standing in tradition
  • “There’s tremendous ignorance of what one is a part of” 
  • ‘outsiders’ and Christian tradition
  • The need for fresh critical analysis of Christianity 
  • ‘We cannot do the same analysis that was done in 1970 in the 2010s’
  • What is the good life in terms of our particular crises? 
  • How do we uphold human dignity, human freedom, and social justice?
  • Paul, the Roman Empire, and solutions to our modern issues
  • What really is a utopian vision for our world today? 
  • Visions of the good versus resisting what is wrong, is there tension there? 
  • Fernando Segovia’s past in Cuba 
  • “Even the utopian visions must be critiqued’ 
  • Paradise, liberation, and naivety
  • Challenging the good 
  • Biblical interpretations: even the Evil Being came from the Kingdom of God 
  • Contradictions and utopia  

About Fernando Segovia

Fernando F. Segovia is Oberlin Graduate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity. His teaching and research encompass Early Christian Origins, Theological Studies, and Cultural Studies. He is author of Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins. As a biblical critic, his interests include: Johannine Studies; method and theory; ideological criticism; the history of the discipline and its construction of early Christian antiquity. As a theologian, his interests include: non-Western Christian theologies, especially from Latin American and the Caribbean; and minority Christian theologies in the West, especially from U.S. Hispanic Americans. As a cultural critic, his interests include: postcolonial studies; minority studies; Diaspora studies. Professor Segovia has served on the editorial boards of a variety of academic journals, has worked as consultant for foundations and publishing houses, and has lectured widely both nationally and internationally. He is also a past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured biblical scholars Fernando Segovia and Matthew Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Mar 05, 2022
Julian Reid / How Black History Made Jazz: Suffering, Joy, and Longing for Our True Home
00:54:29

Jazz pianist Julian Reid on music, theology, and improvisation. The keys element of The JuJu Exchange uses the history of blues, gospel, and jazz to discuss how we communicate emotionally and spiritually through music, teaching an important lesson in how to live and long for home while we remain exiles. Features score from The JuJu Exchange's latest release, The Eternal Boombox. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Evan Rosa.

Julian Reid is a Chicago-based jazz pianist and producer, writer, and performer (not to mention B.A. Yale University, and M.Div. Emory University). The JuJu Exchange is a musical partnership also featuring Nico Segal (trumpet, Chance the Rapper; The Social Experiment) and Everett Reid—exploring creativity, justice, and the human experience through their hip-hop infused jazz. Their new 5-song project is called The Eternal Boombox.

Show Notes

  • Music is invisible and tactile
  • Music as a matter of faith
  • How do we decide what is music and what is just sound?
  • Pain and hope in Blues music
  • “The Blues emerged as a way to communicate within the black community the pain and frustration and disappointment of failed black life post emancipation.”
  • How the Blues emerged as a way to talk about the sorrows of life.
  • The beauty of the mundane
  • The birth of Gospel Blues and Georgia Tom
  • Gospel sings about God, but carries on the pain of the blues
  • Jazz and the middle class
  • Amiri Bakara, Blues People
  • “Jazz was communicating freedom of expression of aspiration, of ambition, of joy, maybe even some frivolity in American life.”
  • The music theory behind emotion
  • The theological implications of Blues chord progressions
  • Exilic chords: how Blues denies the ear the chord resolution it wants to hear
  • “Frustrating the notion of going home”
  • Music theory and the meaning of home in Christianity
  • “Music is a means by which I can signal the dysfunction of society, the lack of home in society”
  • Jacob Blake and frustrated chords
  • Blues is the music that is ‘beautifying but not justifying,’ that ‘points forward to something that’s not yet’
  • The chord progressions of European imperialism
  • How American music and Christian music centers us back ‘home’ in the chords, “as opposed to contending with the fact that we are still pilgrims and in a foreign land"
  • Sugary chords avoid "the reality of us being in some real deep trouble”
  • Julian’s band The JuJu exchange, and their latest EP The Eternal Boombox
  • His album is on the stages of grief involved in processing the Pandemic
    • The first stage: shock, “I can’t see my eyes”
    • The second stage: anger, “Avalanche”
    • The third stage: bargaining, “Eternal boombox”
    • The fourth stage: depression, “And so on”
    • The fifth stage, acceptance/hope, “Glimmer”
  • Music, Alzheimers, and how distorting the melody conveys issues with memory
  • Jazz and agency
  • Improvised music and expression in the moment
  • Tension and comfort in Jazz phrasing
  • How God can meet us in the midst of space, how God can meet us in the midst of creating wordless music”
  • Do we need to articulate who God is?
  • Improvisation and humility
  • “Does the music breed honest dialogue with the Creator?”
  • How music plays with social boundaries
  • “Musicians that are just out for themselves sound like it”

More from The JuJu Exchange: 

From the episode:

  • Cornel West, from Race Matters: “To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any policing of borders and boundaries of 'blackness', 'maleness', 'femaleness', or 'whiteness'.”
Feb 26, 2022
Lisa Sharon Harper & Miroslav Volf / The Case for Reparations, Historical Restorative Justice, Ancestry, and Christian Power
00:54:42

"I am because they were." Lisa Sharon Harper joins Miroslav Volf to discuss the significance of narrative history for understanding ourselves and our current cultural moment; the sequence of repeated injustices that have haunted America's past and directly impacted Black Americans for hundreds of years; the Christian nationalist temptation to hoard power; the necessary conditions for true repair, the role of reparations in the pursuit of racial justice, and the goodness of belonging.

This month, Lisa Sharon Harper released a new book that traces her family's history. Even with the aid of new mail-order genetic testing and ancestry services, I think it's fair to say that most Americans live their lives disconnected from their ancestors. Call it ancestor worship, call it autonomy, call it selective memory—whatever is going on there, we tend to be disconnected from our past, mostly unaware of those from whom we came beyond our parents and grandparents.

Who were those people who we depend on for our very existence? Lisa Sharon Harper's new book is called Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World--and How to Repair It All. And when new episodes of For the Life of the world come back on May 7 this spring, we'll be talking with Lisa at length about how race broke her world and how she traced her family line back beyond the founding of America. For more information about the book, check the show notes and visit lisasharonharper.com/BlackFortuneMonth for more resources on reconnecting to our history and seeking restorative racial justice.

But for now, we're replaying Miroslav Volf's 2021 conversation with Lisa Sharon Harper; the two friends discuss the significance of narrative history for understanding ourselves and our current cultural moment; the sequence of repeated injustices that have haunted America's past and directly impacted Black Americans for hundreds of years; the Christian nationalist temptation to hoard power; the necessary conditions for true repair, the role of reparations in the pursuit of racial justice, and the goodness of belonging. Thanks for listening. And here's the episode in its entirety. Enjoy.

Show Notes

  • The importance of family story  - ‘I am because they were’ 
  • “the hereditary sin of the philosopher is a lack of historical sense” - Frederick Nietzsche
  • Lisa Sharon Harper traces her family lineage through the Carribean where they suffered ‘grueling oppression’
  • “They found ways to, to cope and they found their pool of spirit to help them in the project of resilience.” Lisa Sharon Harper
  • “I'm just very aware of who I have been and also aware that their DNA literally lives in me.”
  • 1619 law
  • The origin story of police today and the ‘black tax’
  • The idea that people always had a choice - the first settlers chose to enslave
  • George Floyd’s impact 
  • We have a choice as a society right now
  • How faith is involved with choice
  • Christian nationalism today
  • Jesus in a suburban Starbucks versus the historical Jesus
  • “The white Christian nationalist project is to do one thing, is to preserve and protect the power, the assumed rule of white Christian men on this land.”
  • Miroslav's idea that Jesus has become a moral stranger to us: “Things that were really important to him don't matter to us and things that are really important to us didn't seem to be important to him.” Miroslav Volf 
  • The logic of empire embedded in Christianity
  • The ‘big lie’ – that everyone in the Bible was white
  • “You cannot understand this book if you are reading it from the halls of empire” – Lisa Sharon Harper
  • Restoration and redemption are possible 
  • The Very Good Gospel, How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
  • “If you are human you have the ability to be transformed”
  • Revelation and the Tree of Life 
  • Segregation in South Africa
  • “Oppression is costly, so of course the remedy will be costly”
  • Reparations
  • Humanity as the center of repentance 
  • What is power for? 
  • Inequity and the possibility of death 
  • Genesis 14 
  • Sin as separation
  • What would repentance look like? 
  • Calling on brown Jesus to create a circle of belonging
  •  
  • Fortune: How Race Broke My Family and the World--and How to Repair It All
  • #BlackFortuneMonth
  • About Lisa Sharon Harper

About Lisa Sharon Harper

From Ferguson to New York, and from Germany to South Africa to Australia, Lisa Sharon Harper leads trainings that increase clergy and community leaders’ capacity to organize people of faith toward a just world. A prolific speaker, writer and activist, Ms. Harper is the founder and president of FreedomRoad.us, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by designing forums and experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment and common action.

Ms. Harper is the author of several books, including Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican…or Democrat (The New Press, 2008); Left Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Elevate, 2011); Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (Zondervan, 2014); and the critically acclaimed, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong can be Made Right (Waterbrook, a division of Penguin Random House, 2016). The Very Good Gospel, recognized as the “2016 Book of the Year” by Englewood Review of Books, explores God’s intent for the wholeness of all relationships in light of today’s headlines.

A columnist at Sojourners Magazine and an Auburn Theological Seminary Senior Fellow, Ms. Harper has appeared on TVOne, FoxNews Online, NPR, and Al Jazeera America. Her writing has been featured in CNN Belief Blog, The National Civic Review, Sojourners, The Huffington Post, Relevant Magazine, and Essence Magazine. She writes extensively on shalom and governance, immigration reform, health care reform, poverty, racial and gender justice, climate change, and transformational civic engagement.

Ms. Harper earned her Masters degree in Human Rights from Columbia University in New York City, and served as Sojourners Chief Church Engagement Officer. In this capacity, she fasted for 22 days as a core faster in 2013 with the immigration reform Fast for Families. She trained and catalyzed evangelicals in St. Louis and Baltimore to engage the 2014 push for justice in Ferguson and the 2015 healing process in Baltimore, and she educated faith leaders in South Africa to pull the levers of their new democracy toward racial equity and economic inclusion.

In 2015, The Huffington Post named Ms. Harper one of 50 powerful women religious leaders to celebrate on International Women’s Day. In 2019, The Religion Communicators Council named a two-part series within Ms. Harper’s monthly Freedom Road Podcast “Best Radio or Podcast Series of The Year”. The series focused on The Roots and Fruits of Immigrant Labor Exploitation in the US. And in 2020 Ms. Harper received The Bridge Award from The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation in recognition of her dedication to bridging divides and building the beloved community.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Lisa Sharon Harper and Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Special thanks to Lisa Sharon Harper and Katie Zimmerman at FreedomRoad.us
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Feb 19, 2022
Jemar Tisby / Holistic and Historical Racial Justice: Awareness, Relationships, Commitment
00:20:51

Jemar Tisby, author of the NYT bestseller The Color of Compromise, explains the complicity and compromise of American Christians; the narrative war that confederate monuments wage (and how they were erected much later than you might think); the ugly theological justifications of racism and the shameful history of Christian white supremacy; the fraught project of selectively naming heroes and villains and then memorializing them; and the practical problem of how to go forward rightly from this moment of increased attention to racial injustice.

Get Jemar Tisby's book! The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism

Show Notes

  • "the North won the Civil War, but the south won the narrative war." - Bryan Stevenson
  • The birth of Jim Crow in the Redemption Era – white people taking back the South
  • Monuments as reassertion of white supremacy
  • The theological significance of the 'Redemption Era'
  • Separation of Church and State as a disguise for racism
  • The Bible as justification text
  • Matthew 6:24 and“You can't serve God and money”
  • Problematic historical heroes and the desire for heroes today
  • Should we be putting slave holders on pedestals?
  • Can we instead honor those who held America to its noble ideals?
  • What kind of future can we hope for?
  • What confession can look like in communities
  • Theologically unpacking repair
  • Creative repair
  • 2020 and what happened with voting rights
  • Christians and reluctance to vote
  • What do we do now? Awareness, Relationships, Commitment
  • Jesus Christ and relationality
  • Relationships as necessary but not sufficient
  • Commitment to stand up to racial inequalities

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured author and historian Jemar Tisby
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Editorial and Production Assistance by Annie Trowbridge
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Feb 12, 2022
Black Joy / Howard Thurman's Civil Rights Theology, Stacey Floyd-Thomas on Vicious Humility and Black Joy, and David Walker's Christian Abolitionism
00:18:24

Sameer Yadav comments on Howard Thurman's Civil Rights Theology, Ryan McAnnally-Linz reflects on the spiritual and moral significance of David Walker's "Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World," and Stacey Floyd-Thomas talks about racial oppression via vicious humility and the life-giving dignity of Black joy. #BlackHistoryMonth

Show Notes

  • Three themes that impacted Thurman’s early religious life:
    • Divine common ground
    • Social injustice
    • Humanity of Jesus and black joy
  • “ Human life is one, and all humans are members of one another, and this insight is spiritual and it is the hard core of religious experience. My roots are deep in the throbbing reality of Negro idiom. And from it, I draw a full measure of inspiration and vitality. "An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World" – pamphlet by David Walker
  • Freedom as a natural right
  • “What in our day do we claim as ours when in fact it belongs to God?” Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • “Where do I find myself clinging to racial privilege as though it were rightfully mine?”
  • And where do I find myself looking for gratitude from black Americans for doing only what obedience to God requires?”
  • Stacy Floyd Thomas on not finding what she needs at CVS  - inequality of representation
  • Humility as a sin
  • Humility as something that Christian theology projects onto the Church as a ‘vice grip’
  • Black joy represented by the song, "this joy that I have, this joy that I have, the world didn't give it. And the world can't take it away." – Stacy Floyd Thomas
  • “I'm black, but beautiful, oh ye daughters of Jerusalem, do not resent me or gaze upon me because the sun has chosen to favor, favorably shine upon me." Song of Solomon 1:5-6 KJV
  • “To know joy is to be certain in one's thinking, doing, and being.”
  • Salvation without destruction
  • “we can save souls without losing our minds or losing or lynching the lives of others in the process. Our work has to be not only salvific, but sane and life saving.”-  – Stacy Floyd Thomas
  • What joy really feels like
  • “To know joy is to be certain in one's thinking, doing, and being.”
  • “your joy does not exact oppression from another”

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Sameer Yadav with an appreciation of Howard Thurman, Ryan McAnnally-Linz with an appreciation of David Walker, and social ethicist Stacey Floyd-Thomas
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Editorial and Production Assistance by Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

About Sameer Yadav

Sameer Yadav (Th.D. Duke Divinity School) is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. His research areas are in the philosophy and theology of religious experience, race and religion, and the theological interpretation of Scripture. He is the author of The Problem of Perception and the Experience of God: Toward a Theological Empiricism (Fortress Press, 2015), a number of articles published in various journals such as The Journal of Analytic Theology, Faith and Philosophy, and The Journal of Religion among others, as well as a number of chapters in edited volumes.

About Stacey Floyd Thomas

Stacey Floyd-Thomas is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair and Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University, and is a nationally recognized scholar and leading voice in social ethics who provides leadership to several national and international organizations that educate, advocate, support and shape the strategic work of individuals, initiatives, and institutions in their organizing efforts of championing and cultivating equity, diversity, and inclusion via organizations such as Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG), Society for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Religion (SRER), Strategic Effective Ethical Solutions (SEES), Society of Christian Ethics (SCE) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR). She holds a PhD in Ethics, a MBA in organizational behavior and two Masters in Comparative religion and Theological Studies with certification in women’s studies, cultural studies, and counseling. Not only has she published seven books and numerous articles, she is also as an expert in leadership development, an executive coach and ordained clergy equipped with business management. As a result, Floyd-Thomas has been a lead architect in helping corporations, colleges, universities, religious congregations, and community organizations with their audit, assessment, and action plans in accordance with evolving both the mission and strategic plans. Without question, she is one of the nation’s leading voices in ethical leadership  in the United States and is globally recognized for her scholarly specializations in liberation theology and ethics, critical race theory, critical pedagogy, and postcolonial studies. Additionally, leaving podium and pulpit, she hosts her own podcast to popularize and make her profession and vocation intergenerationally and intracommunally accessible through The Womanist Salon Podcast.


 

Feb 05, 2022
N.T. Wright & Miroslav Volf / The Politics of Joy & Suffering in the Now and Not Yet
00:23:26

Can we find joy in our world? It's hard enough to find genuine, death-defying joy in the wake of the failure of the modern utopian project, the expectation that human reason and technology and political revolution might save us all. Overlay the malaise of modernity with this dumb pandemic, and the prospects for joy seem bleak. But for N.T. Wright, joy doesn't depend on the whims of circumstance or the proper function of the world. He speaks of the hardy resilience of joy, even in the midst of tragic, terrible, and untimely death. He speaks of the groanings of the Spirit, laboring and working in us even and especially when we can't find the words to explain the circumstances away. Today we're sharing Miroslav Volf's 2014 interview with the New Testament scholar, theologian, and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright. He's the former Bishop of Durham, he's Emeritus Professor University of St Andrews, and is Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

NOTE: For the Life of the World is running highlights, readings, lectures, and other best-of features until May 1, 2022, when we'll be back with new conversations.

About

N.T. Wright is a New Testament scholar, theologian, and Anglican bishop. He's the former Bishop of Durham, he's Emeritus Professor University of St Andrews, and is Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He's the author of many books, including Surprised by Hope, Paul: A Biography, God and the Pandemic, Simply Christian, The World the New Testament, and many more.

Show Notes

  • The connection between joy and God's deliverance and rescue
  • Joy at what God has done
  • Resurrection joy
  • Navigating "the now and the not yet"
  • What happens to joy in "the now and the not yet"
  • Waiting, suffering, and joy
  • Acts 12: James is killed by Herod's men, and Peter gets out of jail free
  • Differentiating types of suffering
  • Romans 8: The whole creation groaning as a woman in childbirth
  • 2 Corinthians 2:1-7 (NRSV) / So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit. 2For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you. 4For I wrote to you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 5 But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent—not to exaggerate it—to all of you. 6This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; 7so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
  • "Yet behold: Here I am"
  • I have no idea what's going on, but I believe.
  • N.T. Wright on the presiding over his father's funeral
  • The death of a child: there is no
  • Early church love is "agape"—holistic love
  • The emotive dimensions of joy
  • What kind of seeing is involved in rejoicing?
  • "All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me."
  • "It's a matter of thinking into the world in which divine authority is constituted by self-giving love."
  • Jesus on a donkey vs. Pontius Pilate on a war horse—the redefinition of power and authority
  • "Religion is what you do to keep the fabric of society together."
  • Treating Christianity as a private matter
  • Is there any joy in the world today?
  • The confused world that comes from believing the utopian lie of modernity

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright and theologian Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jan 22, 2022
MLK, Willie Jennings, Keri Day / Dangerous Theology
00:36:44

"Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness... " (Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968)

The day before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached these words in Memphis, Tennessee. In a powerful and urgent message for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee that's come to be known "I've Been to the Mountaintop," he considers the parable of the Good Samaritan, going on to speak prophetically and presciently of the dangers he himself faced, not knowing how very true his words were.

"We've got some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn't matter with me now because I've been to the mountain top. like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that. I just want to do God's will, and he's allowed me to go up to the mountain and I've looked over and I've seen the promised land. I may not get that. But I want you to know the night that we will get to the promised land tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not feeling as have seen the glory of."

And on Monday as the collective consciousness of the world and the media turns its eyes to the legacy of of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, it's important to remember that he was not only a civil right activist and a pastor. He was also a theologian whose spiritual logic has profoundly impacted the church, the United States, and the world. That's why today as we commemerate the legacy of Dr. King, we ask the question: How should we do theology? What is the future of theology? And how should theology impact real human life? An impact that might even cultivate the dangerous unselfishness Jesus lived, the Good Samaritan lived, and Dr King lived.

In today's episode, theologians, Keri Day and Willie Jennings reflect on these questions. Keri is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African-American Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Willie is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. As they talk about the prospects and perils of how theology is being done today, they both share the vision that theology should touch the lives and hearts of people, a public endeavor motivated by a love for the world. They stress that theology should be inherently practical, transformative, and life-giving.

And as a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his distinctive, influential theological perspective, we're honored to have been given permission by the King Estate to feature a very moving passage from "I Have Been to the Mountaintop," in which he displays a deep and courageous and prophetic understanding of what should be at stake for the theology he preached. it's a theology of life and justice, a theology of profound and emanating love, a theology that envisions the promised land of flourishing that all God's children should be able to enjoy.

Show Notes

  • “How should theology impact real human life?” – Evan Rosa 
  • “What is going right in theology?”  - Matt Croasman
  • Revival of political and public theology 
  • The ‘subaltern voice’
  • The difference between theology and practical theologies 
  • “Intrinsic to a theology is the normative moment” Keri Day
  • “Christian theology wants to make the claim that the telos is toward something much larger, about the love of God and creation.” – Keri Day
  • How Christianity can address the pluralistic moment of the present. 
  • The plurality of Christian traditions
  • Internal resources within Christian traditions for dealing with complexity and difference
  • Theology in diverse fields: literary studies, philosophy, political theory, postcolonial theory, feminist, womanist.
  • “I always think that you find people asking questions about God in really interesting places.” – Willie Jennings
  • 3 crises in theology 
    • communication, 
    • thinking together about a challenging topic
    • the loss of the imaginative capacity to form theological interests
  • What is a sufficient theological pedagogy?
  • What do our texts accomplish?
  • Does theology invite?
  • How to invite people into a vision of the good life 
  • Plurality and Christianity
  • Violence and theology 
  • Martin Luther King Jr. on the road from Jerusalem to Jerico 
  • “The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?’ That's the question.” – MLK Jr. 
  • “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” – MLK Jr. 

Note: For the Life of the World is running highlights, readings, lectures, and other best-of features until May 1, 2022, when we'll be back with new conversations.

Contributors

  • "I Have Been to the Mountaintop," Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee was used with permission from the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Special thanks to Eric Tidwell.
  • Keri Day is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African-American Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Willie Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Martin Luther King, Jr., Keri Day, Willie Jennings, and Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Editorial and Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jan 15, 2022
Marilynne Robinson, Charles Taylor, et al / Making or Breaking Democracy
00:27:41

Democracy in America and abroad is under threat. Authoritarian regimes, nationalisms of many stripes, a loss sense of the value of democratic participation among younger generations, and a growing cynicism and suspicion of our neighbors all threaten freedom and flourishing. In this episode, Miroslav Volf, Marilynne Robinson, Charles Taylor, Kevin Lau, and Andrew Kwok comment on what makes or breaks democracy around the world. NOTE: For the Life of the World is running highlights, readings, lectures, and other best-of features until May 1, 2022, when we'll be back with new conversations.

Show Notes

  • The concern is with healing our divided country and Church
  • How former president Trump’s false allegations of electoral fraud led to violence at the Capitol
  • Naming wrongdoing for what it is 
  • “At the heart of the current effort to deny and overturn the results of the presidential election is the wounded pride of a man”
  • “Many Americans have taken his lie to be their truth. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, among them are many who call themselves Christians.”
  • ‘Jesus 2020’
  • The theological dimension of these events
  • “The salvation (Jesus) offers is not the success of your political candidate or the realization of your national dream”
  • Each of us must ask, what will we do with our fear and anger? 
  • “We must commit firmly to truth even, and especially when it hurts our pride when we lose”
  • “Commitment to the truth is never at odds with love of neighbor.”
  • How suspicion has disconnected us from reality, and each other 
  • There is something ‘spiritually dead’ about our political climate
  • Do young people care about democracy? 
  • “Some people might say, well, if we need to choose between prosperity and democracy, we are going to choose prosperity”
  • A democracy based on ‘the wealthiest culture that ever lived on earth’
  • Democracy’s capacity for great integrity
  • “There is no other way of trying to tap this potential that exists in human beings other than democracy.” – Marilynne Robinson
  • What are the cultural conditions of democracy? 
  • Human beings demand our respect 
  • The relationship between human sacrality and democracy 
  • Kevin Lau and Andrew Kwok on their hopes for tomorrow from the perspective of Hong Kong Christians
  • “For non-western Christians, we always think that democracy is an outcome of Christian spirituality.” 
  • The need for internal peace within Christianity
  • Healing memory
  • “You have to hold on tight to your identity as a beloved child of God”
  • Not letting affliction sway you from your true identity
  • Only then can you face your memory, and reality 

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Miroslav Volf, Marilyn Robinson, Charles Taylor, Kevin Lau, and Andrew Kwok
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Editorial and Production Assistance by Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jan 08, 2022
Miroslav Volf / Where the Light Gets In: Primordial Goodness, Excluding the Middle, and Searching for Hope in 2022
00:50:29

Miroslav Volf and Evan Rosa consider audience questions and feedback about hopes and fears going into 2022. A reflective conversation about politics and theology, the aims of theological writing, suffering and the problem of evil, the loss of the middle ground in our polarized era (and Miroslav questions whether "middle" is even a Christian category), the primordial goodness of the world and seeing suffering with one eye squinted; and whether theology is for the religious only, or indeed, for the life of the world. NOTE: For the Life of the World will run highlights, readings, lectures, and other best-of features until May 1, 2022, when we'll be back with new conversations.

  • Finding light in darkness: “how do we find and recognize the moments of of light?” - Miroslav Volf
  • Primordial goodness, positivity more powerful than negativity
  • “Where the light gets in” Leonard Cohen
  • WWII and joy in times of darkness
  • "The beauty before God of the singer who doesn’t know how to sing" - Chrysostom
  • Josef Pieper, Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation 
  • “A writer is his life.” – Hannah Arendt 
  • The writing process as a spiritual exercise: “What are our true aspirations?” 
  • “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means, what I want and what  I fear.” - Joan Didion
  • Writing in relation to reading
  • “There are those who write books and there are those who read them.” – Paul Tillich
  • Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society
  • Our cultural problem of “struggling to achieve in competitive environments”
  • Drew Collins, The Unique and Universal Christ, Refiguring the Theology of Religions
  • Oliver Dyer, Homo Novus
  • Paul Bloom, The Sweet Spot, The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning
  • The idea of the pleasure of pain and suffering
  • Martin Luther, Carl Barth, and Jurgen Moltmann as sources of inspiration
  • Keith DeRose, Horrendous Evils
  • The course “The Problem of Evil” cotaught by Miroslav Volf and Keith DeRose
  • The forms of resilience that are embedded in the Christian faith in the face of suffering 
  • The relationship between Christianity and suffering 
  • “faith can both emerge and be extremely alive in situations that when you step back, you might think would disprove faith.” Miroslav Volf 
  • Miroslav’s father finds faith as a Prisoner of War
  • "I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing." Flannery O’Connor
  • Not being ‘too impressed’ by the negative 
  • The relationship between the Church and polarized America 
  • “tend to the beauty of the world within do not let the circumstances encroach upon the integrity of the self.” Miroslav Volf 
  • The loss of the political middle ground 
  • “Christians are unreliable allies” Ron Williams 
  • The political middle ground versus the political common ground
  • Nationalism and the Church in 2022 
  • Resisting the notion of a political Christianity 
  • Resisting the return to Christendom 
  • "is theology for the religious only, or is such a way of thinking obsolete?"
  • The lack of a designated sacred space 
  • An orientation towards God as a secular reality, a worldly reality 
  • This is the 100th episode, Miroslav looks back. Some favorites: 
    • “Charles Taylor
    • Marilynne Robinson 
    • Chris Wiman
    • Willie Jennings
    • Carrie Day
  • " Ignore these walls.” Yvonne Mamarede of Zimbabwe

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologian Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jan 01, 2022
Matthew Milliner / A Womb More Spacious Than Stars: How Mary's Beauty and Presence Upends the Patriarchy and Stabilizes Christian Spirituality
01:02:53

"Don't dare think that somehow your conversation with Mary and your interest in her is in competition with your relationship with Christ. ... You are flirting with heresy if you do not have a doctrine of Mary as mother of God." —Matthew Milliner

What is the role of the Virgin Mary in Christian spiritual formation? Art historian Matthew Milliner (Wheaton College) joins Evan Rosa for a conversation about beauty of Mary in Christian spirituality—particularly for Protestants, for whom the abuses of the past have alienated them from a core component of creedal Christianity, Mary as "Theotokos," the Mother of God. They discuss the history of iconoclasm against Mary, the struggle of contemporary Christianity with art and aesthetics, unpacking the "Woman Clothed with the Sun" from Revelation 12, the feminist objection to Mary, and how the Virgin Mary upends an ancient pagan goddess culture invented to maintain patriarchy. They close with an appreciation of Mother Maria Skobtsova, who's life and witness in the Ravensbruck death camp during the Holocaust exemplifies how the example and presence of Mary Theotokos today might inform the pursuit of a life worth living.

Show Notes

  • "La Corona" by John Donne
  • "Don't dare think that somehow your conversation with Mary and your interest in her is in competition with your relationship with Christ." —Matthew Milliner, from the interview
  • Matthew Milliner's forthcoming book, Mother of the Lamb
  • How sacred "art" must support presence
  • "A large family album"
  • Iconoclasm against the Virgin Mary
  • "The institutionalized art world has done such a wonderful job of alienating so many people."
  • "Where has this been all my life?"
  • Madonna Della Misericordia: "The train of her robe is very wide."
  • Contemporary Christianity's struggle with aesthetics
  • "The idea that the Christianity is somehow aesthetically impoverished itself seems to me a fictitious assertion. One that can be fueled with select examples, but I just think there's so much out there that that has been undiscovered. And Mary is often at the heart of it all, like in some senses, whether or not Mary—her presence—[is] in a church in one way or another might be an indicator of whether or not it's going to be beautiful."
  • Revelation 12: "A Woman Clothed with the Sun"
  • "She's the new arc of the covenant, in which the presence of God resides."
  • Four-fold reading of scripture: "the literal and the allegorical and the anagogical and the tropical logical are all functioning at the same time."
  • Reading Revelation 12 adventurously: The Woman and the Dragon
  • "Don't dare think that somehow your conversation with Mary and your interest in her is in competition with your relationship with Christ."
  • "It only will enhance your relationship with Christ to develop these other resonances."
  • "Do you realize we're actually in a deep deficit of Catholic Mariology right now?"
  • Vatican II decimated Catholic Mariology
  • "You are flirting with heresy if you do not have a doctrine of Mary as mother of God."
  • What is the role of Mary in Christian spiritual formation?
  • Intersession and prayer
  • John Henry Newman on the correlation of Marian piety with cultures that hang on to Christianity.
  • The essential nature of art in Marian Christian piety.
  • Icon: "Virgin of the Sign"—"A womb more spacious than the stars"
  • Sonogram/Ultrasound Mary—conveying all powerful Deity humbled into human form
  • John Donne's "La Corona": "Thy Maker's maker, thy Father's mother."
  • Feminist objection to Mariology: "Any time Mary is uplifted, other women are left out."
  • "Alone of all her sex"
  • Rosemary Radford Ruther, Goddesses and the Divine Feminine
  • Goddess culture
  • The virgin Mary upends a goddess culture invented to maintain patriarchy
  • Sarah Jane Boss, Mary: New Century Theology
  • Charlene Spretnak, Missing Mary: The ReEmergence of the Queen of Heaven in the Modern Church
  • Mariology and Gender
  • Threatened masculinity
  • Pagan phallocentric  religion
  • Courtney Hall Lee, Black Madonna: A Womanist Look at Mary of Nazareth
  • "Christ has a female body too, and a black body too, and a white body, two and not just the Jewish body that he has. An Indian body too, and in Chinese body too, because of his dimension as the ecclesia, which also has a Marian resonance. So welcome to Christianity. You stay long enough, your mind's going to be blown again. ... Nicene orthodoxy is where you get all this stuff."
  • On the Apostle Paul and Marian Piety: "I am grieving until Christ is formed in you. The birth pangs that Paul goes through. And we're all intended to nurse Christ, to give birth to Christ in a metaphorical manner in our lives. And that goes for men as well. So men also can be Marian. In fact, we must be marrying if we're going to be Orthodox Christians."
  • Barth, Von Balthasar, Bulgakov
  • "Theology is better communicated through images because the missteps are harder to make."
  • The equivalent of the hymn is the icon: a tested image that's been around for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years, and that has been refined. And that people over time said, 'You know, there's something right about this one in particular.'"
  • Find icons and prints online at Skete.com
  • Analysis of the classic Nativity icon
  • "The Nativity icon is what God wants to do in your soul."
  • "Icons are the brake tapping on the entire hyper visual world that we're in. We do not need to be dazzled the way Leonardo dazzled the people of his day. We need to be restrained. And that's what these icons are providing."
  • The beam of light that crashes through the immanent frame.
  • Navigating the depths of interior prayer through art history.
  • Rowan Williams's Looking East in Winter: research on Mother Maria Skobtsova, the Russian Orthodox female parallel to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
  • "Mary functioned for her [Mother Maria] as the epiphany, as the illustration, of selfless love."
  • Rowan Williams (from Looking East in Winter): "The Marian sense of being overwhelmed from outside by the presence of the others. Is one of the things that displaces the ego and self oriented projects, including the self-oriented project of doing good or serving the neighbor."
  • "She kept saying, 'My monastery has no walls. My monastery is wherever the poor are.'"
  • "There's the great line that the Christians of the 20th century will be either mystics or they won't be Christians at all."

About Matthew Milliner

Matthew Milliner is Associate Professor of Art History at Wheaton College. He holds an M.A. & Ph.D. in art history from Princeton University, and an M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary. His scholarly specialization is Byzantine and medieval art, with a focus on how such images inform contemporary visual culture. He teaches across the range of art history with an eye for the prospects and pitfalls of visual theology. He is a five-time appointee to the Curatorial Advisory Board of the United States Senate, and a winner of Redeemer University’s Emerging Public Intellectual Award. He has written for publications ranging from The New York Times to First Things. He recently delivered the Wade Center’s Hansen lecture series on Native American Art, and was awarded a Commonwealth fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia to complete his forthcoming book, Mother of the Lamb (Fortress Press). Follow @Millinerd on Twitter

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured art historian Matthew Milliner
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers,  and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Dec 25, 2021
Frederica Mathewes-Green / Mary Theotokos: Her Bright Sorrow, Her Suffering Faith, and Her Compassion
01:02:17

"Her hands steadied the first steps of him who steadied the earth to walk upon; her lips helped the Word of God to form his first human words." (St. John of Damascus)

Who is Mary? Why is she called "Theotokos"? Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Eastern Orthodox writer and educator, joins Evan Rosa for a discussion about Mary, the Mother of God. During the first half of the episode, they discuss the Eastern Orthodox reverence for Mary and the scriptural account of her life—from the Annunciation and Nativity, to her parenting of Jesus, through to the Wedding at Cana and witnessing the unimaginable as her son was crucified, died, buried, and risen. In the second half of our conversation, Frederica sheds light on two ancient texts: The Forgotten Gospel of Mary, also known as the Protoevangelium of James, as well as one of the oldest known manuscripts that refer to Mary as Theotokos: a very short prayer scribbled on papyrus, and known as "Sub tuum praesidium" or "Under your compassion." But that's not all, Frederica draws out the beauty of Mary's exemplarity for all Christians, her suffering faith and bright sorrow, the conjoining of humility and magnanimity in her response to God, and so much more.

Show Notes

  • Frederica Mathewes-Green, Mary As the Early Christians Knew Her: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts
  • Protoevangelium of James
  • Sub tuum Praesidium ("Under your compassion...")
  • Mary as Theotokos: "God's birth-giver"
  • "The Virgin of the Sign" icon
  • Orthodox view of Mary as worship leader
  • Mary in scriptural context: Luke 1 and 2
  • Mary, troubled and perplexed
  • Magnificat: Every line comes from the psalms, a very classic Jewish understanding of the Messiah as political revolutionary.
  • Mary's perplexity and expectations about Jesus's role as Messiah
  • Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome
  • Simeon's words to Mary: "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel and to be assigned, that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. In a sword will pierce your own soul too, and these words from Simeon to Mary, upon presenting Jesus at the temple." (Luke 2:34)
  • Sin in Eastern Orthodoxy: "It starts with a thought."
  • Epigraph: "Her hands steadied the first steps of him who steadied the earth to walk upon; her lips helped the Word of God to form his first human words." St. John of Damascus
  • Jesus's relationship with Mary
  • The leadership of Mary
  • The Wedding at Cana
  • Mary at the Cross
  • Mary's childhood in the Protoevangelium of James
  • Mary as a contemplative
  • Mary's achievement of theosis: "absorbing God" / "union with God"
  • Annunciation
  • Mary's anxiety when Jesus was lost at the temple
  • Bright sorrow in Mary—both dread and joy
  • Loneliness and autonomy
  • The practical spiritual benefits of the Protoevangelium of James
  • Prayer as a medium of communication; sending Mary prayer requests
  • The earliest prayer to Mary: "Sub tuum praesidium"
  • "Under your compassion we take refuge Theotokos. Do not overlook our prayers in the midst of tribulation, but deliver us from danger, O only pure, only blessed one."
  • Coming under the shelter of her protection
  • Matthew 23:37—"Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones, those who are sent to it, how often have I desired to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings and you were not willing."
  • Seeking shelter, refuge, and compassion during strident and striving times.

About Frederica Mathewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington PostChristianity TodaySmithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service, Beliefnet.com, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fifteen grandchildren.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Mathewes-Green
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Dec 18, 2021
Jeff Reimer / W.H. Auden's For the Time Being: Post-Christmas Blues, the Darkness of Modernity, and the Human Response to Incarnation
00:47:33

In the midst of war, the loss of his mother, and the heartbreak of unrequited love, poet W.H. Auden was rediscovering his faith. And the fitting response to the darkness and despair and apathy around him, he thought, was the Christmas event. So he set to work on a Christmas Oratorio called For the Time Being. Originally meant to be performed and sung, what emerged is a much more sobering and stark retelling of the Christmas narrative than you're used to. Auden's modernist poetry becomes a way for a modern humanity—whose resources are spent, whose plans have gone awry, whose hopes have been misplaced, whose sense of time has been unwound—to find redemption amidst the quotidian, the mundane, and the everyday. But also always in an eternally full "moment of decision"—a response to the bare fact of the Incarnation of God in infant Jesus. Evan Rosa is joined by writer Jeff Reimer (Associate Editor, Comment Magazine), who suggests that this modernist retelling of Christmas helps us to diagnose and treat the quintessentially modern vice of acedia, the noonday demon. They discuss the anachronistic cast of characters Auden uses to comment on the human condition. They read and marvel at several passages of the text. And they consider what Auden takes to be the matter of ultimate importance in our experience of Christmas: responding to the audacious claim that God has become human.

About Jeff Reimer

Jeff Reimer is a writer with bylines at Commonweal, Comment, Plough, and Fare Forward. He is Associate Editor for Comment Magazine. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jreimr or check out his website for links to his writing.

Show Notes

  • W.H. Auden's For the Time Being (edited with introduction by Alan Jacobs)
  • Read Jeff Reimer's What Comes After: W. H. Auden’s cure for the post-Christmas blues
  • Dealing with the Post-Christmas Blues
  • Flipping the feast for the fast in contemporary Christmas culture
  • W.H. Auden's For the Time Being
  • Darkness, despair as the context for the Advent apocalyptic setting
  • "Very little Christmas cheer"
  • Auden's context for writing For the Time Being: World War II, the death of his mother, and his re-discovered faith
  • Possibilities for hope and redemption
  • Reason and optimism have run out
  • Central question of For the Time Being: "What do we do with this singular Christmas event?"
  • Cast of characters
  • Existentialist influence on Auden
  • The silence of Christ in the poem
  • Strange characters: Intuition, Sensation, Feeling, and Thought as an expression of the human self
  • Mary and Joseph: Divergent responses to the Angel Gabriel
  • Mary's humility and magnanimity together
  • What it's like to be Joseph
  • The temptation of St. Joseph
  • Redeeming the mundane and the quotidian
  • Acedia: the quintessentially modern vice
  • Charles Taylor: "Our present condition is one in which many people are happy living for goals which are purely imminent; they live in a way that takes no account of the transcendent."
  • "The Time Being"—ennui, acedia, and depression following Christmas
  • The noonday demon
  • Simeon: Auden's intellectual, theological response to the incarnation
  • Herod: Auden's stoic intellectual, politically indifferent, tragic-comic figure
  • Stoic virtue: apathea, or "cultivated indifference"
  • The incarnation does not allow for cultivated indifference
  • Herod's cultivated indifference ends up becoming outright violent resistance and the massacre of the innocents
  • The difficulty of inhabiting a moment the way we're meant to
  • The way, the truth, the life
  • "Seek him in the Kingdom of Anxiety."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured writer Jeff Reimer
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Dec 11, 2021
David Dark / Non-Violent Resistance, Robot Soft Exorcism, and the Blurry Binaries Between Christianity and Culture
01:04:32

"I wrestle not against flesh and blood." (David Dark's Ephesians 6:12 mantra) / According to David Dark (Belmont University), each of us occupy a variety of robots—roles, titles, occupations, institutions, conglomerates, ways of being, social norms, etc.—and these robots exert a cultural force, sometimes benign, but then again, sometimes violently destructive and degrading of human life. And in order to appreciate and honor our shared humanity, those of us in violent, impersonal robot systems need to be softly, humanely, respectfully, lovingly exorcised from those violent systems. David Dark joins Evan Rosa to talk about his idea of "Robot Soft Exorcism"—a metaphor-slash-parable-slash-theory-slash-way-of-life—that he uses to explain and expound non-violent resistance and prophetic witness. Along the way, they discuss the righteous skepticism he was raised on, the blurry secular-sacred divide, how he met Henri Nouwen, the technological ethics of Jacques Ellul, the real meaning of turning the other cheek, and the constant need to divest ourselves of the power of our positions, our titles, our platforms ... our robots.

About David Dark

David Dark is an American writer and cultural critic; and is Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He's author of several books including, Life's Too Short To Pretend You're Not ReligiousThe Sacredness of Questioning EverythingEveryday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons, and The Gospel According To America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea. Follow him on Twitter @DavidDark or his Substack, Dark Matter

Show Notes

  • David Dark's Robot Soft Exorcism Twitter Thread: https://twitter.com/DavidDark/status/1012804184868048896
  • Righteous skepticism in David Dark's family history
  • Godzilla and God
  • Secular–sacred divide
  • "I don't have to settle for the given dichotomies or dualisms."
  • Daoism, intellectual humility and the meaning of righteous skepticism in southern (fundamentalist) Christian context
  • The blurry binaries of Christianity and Pop Culture
  • Nashville: "The post-modern Vatican of the prayer trade"
  • Christian music industry in the'80s
  • "One might want to separate Christian marketing from the January 6th attack, but you really can't because association is currency."
  • "On human barnyard"; "there are no unrelated phenomena"
  • On meeting Henri Nouwen and learning the word social justice
  • "There is no non-social justice. Justice is relational."
  • Robot Soft Exorcism
  • Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
  • Walter Wink's Powers series
  • Power dynamics of 2018's border crisis, separating families at the border, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Red Hen Restaurant
  • Turning the other cheek; demanding to be punched as an equal
  • Dramatizing the conflict as part of the task of prophetic action
  • "Robot soft exorcism is inviting someone to be a human being rather than just being their position."
  • Breaking it down: The Robot Part
  • Jacques Ellul and the Technological Society
  • Use vs Reception
  • "I think that Twitter can be a wonderful tool. It is the tool upon which I inscribed my Robots Soft Exorcism. But Twitter is also can be a broken fire hydrant of sadness and rage."
  • "I think Ellul said: We speak of a computer as a companion, but a computer is actually a vampire."
  • "What we do with our screens is what we do with our lives. We are never escaping relationship."
  • "[Insert Soul Here]"
  • Philip K. Dick's "disinformation"
  • Beck: "Don't believe everything you breathe."
  • Breaking it down: The Exorcism Part
  • Mob Spirit on January 6
  • "Sitting with anger until it becomes sadness." (Sarah Mason)
  • Exorcism as social therapy
  • Thoreau: "We all crave reality."
  • Buddhists surrendering a spirit of conflict or difference before parting
  • Karl Barth: If you don't have any solid difference with the person with whom you exchange the peace of Christ, the peace of Christ isn't there because the peace has to overcome some kind of difference."
  • Opinion, Posture, Position: None ever have to be confused with one's identity.
  • U2's "Staring at the Sun": "Armor-plated suits and ties"
  • "Sometimes when we skip straight to Christ, we skip over Jesus of Nazareth. I'm not saying we all do that whenever we say Christ, but w if I say Christ enough that I'm not thinking about the sermon on the Mount, that I'm not thinking of the red letter words, Christ can become a kind of personal ghost friend who excuses me from my bad behavior."
  • Divesting ourselves of the power we carry through the world
  • Claudia Rankin: whiteness as an investment in not-knowing
  • The centrality of listening
  • Ellul: "Propaganda is monologue and monologue ends when dialogue begins."
  • Breaking it down: The Soft Part
  • Civil Rights Movement is actually the Non-Violent Movement of America
  • "One human exchange at a time."
  • Mantra: "I wrestle not against flesh and blood." (Ephesians 6:12)
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Advent/Christmas as the prototypical Robot Soft Exorcism
  • Bruce Coburn: "Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe."
  • "We're really going against the news cycle if we insist on the meaning of human history being in this manger scene. To be alive to it, to be citizens of a better future than what is being settled for by our robot overlords."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured author and cultural critic David Dark
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Dec 05, 2021
Christian Wiman / Finding Home Through Exiles' Eyes
00:43:51

"To be a poet is to be an exile," says poet Christian Wiman. He echoes the most influential writer on his early life and work, Simone Weil, who wrote in her Gravity & Grace: "We must take the feeling of being at home into exile. We must be rooted in the absence of a place." Wiman spent most of the 2020 leg of the pandemic curating a story about home using 100 poems, seamed with prose from some of the wisest denizens of our species to narrate the tale. He joins Evan Rosa to read some of the poetry from the collection, talk about the connection between poetry and faith, and continue to examine the meaning of home through exiles' eyes. 

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

Show Notes

  • Home: 100 Poems
  • Joseph Brodsky, exile from Russa
  • Defining "Home"
  • Mahmoud Darwish, "I Belong There"
  • "I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them, a single word: home."
  • Josef Pieper on tautology
  • Poetry as a way of inhabiting rather than defining
  • The epigraph from He Held Radical Light: "The world does not need to come from a god. For better or worse, the world is here. But it does need to go to one (where is he?). And that is why the poet exists." (Juan Ramon Jimenez)
  • Why does the poet exist?
  • "Existence is not existence until it's more than existence."
  • Jack Gilbert, "Singing in My Difficult Mountains"
  • "My fine house that love is."
  • "To be a poet is to be an exile."
  • Simone Weil: "We must be rooted in the absence of a place." (Gravity & Grace)
  • A traveling place
  • Modern humanity in exile, a secular notion
  • Weil, The Need for Roots
  • "I think all poets though, experience the feeling of displacement that comes with perception."
  • W.B. Yeats on Maude Young, "I might have thrown poor words away and attempted to live."
  • "Life is the thing. Words are always a kind of displacement."
  • Wendell Berry's Sabbath: "There is a day when the road neither comes nor goes, and the way is not a way, but a place."
  • Frantically nomadic
  • Restlessness and the pull toward security
  • Rooted in relationships
  • "In my 20s, Simone Weil was the most important writer in my life. ... But now in my fifties, I feel a little differently. I still love Simone Weil, but I appreciate very much the work that someone like Wendell Berry has done to secure an existence against all the odds, secure a kind of existence in one place, and make it out of language as well."
  • Vincent Van Gogh and Gaston Bachelard
  • Stabilizing and Destabilizing
  • Van Gogh: Life is round
  • Bachelard: Dwelling in images and words
  • Some real element of the past, brought into the present with metaphysical power: "I think there's some real element of the past of memory, that is made alive and volatile and even salvific, and it's not an image of youth. It is the actual thing being brought into the present."
  • He Held Radical Light: seeking, through poetry, "those moments of mysterious intrusion, that feeling of collusion with eternity, of life and language riled to the one wild charge.”
  • Poetry: the main way faith sustains Wiman
  • "All poets are Jews." (Maria Sativa)
  • "All poets are believers." (Christian Wiman)
  • Something in poetry itself to further existence
  • "If you do not believe in poetry, you cannot write it." (Wallace Stevens)
  • Glory to God for dappled things
  • The role of mystery in poetry and faith
  • Following the music of poetry in a physical, physiological, improvisational way
  • Wendell Berry on the Kingdom of God: "We contain that which contains us."
  • Home in painful division in Wendell Berry
  • Carson McCullers: Improvisation
  • Braithwaite, "Bass"
  • How is poetry in conversation with perplexity?
  • James Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues" (Christian Wiman's "favorite short story in the world")
  • "Dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing an order on it."
  • Deep consolation in poetry
  • Responding to the music of poetry
  • Read poetry out loud
  • Can you write good poetry without suffering much?
  • George MacKay Brown, "Old Fisherman with Guitar"
  • What is a life worth living? Creating and loving
  • The pursuit of God is wrapped up with creating art and being freed to love.
  • The impact of Christian Wiman's "Prayer"

About Christian Wiman

Poet Christian Wiman is Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School. He’s the author of several books of poetry, including Every Riven ThingHammer is the Prayer, and his most recent, Survival Is a Style. His memoirs include the bracing and beautiful My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer and He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art. He edited an anthology of 100 poems on Joy a few years ago, and just released Home: 100 Poems this month.

Introduction (Evan Rosa)

"To be a poet is to be an exile," says Christian Wiman, a poet and Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School. Wiman knows this personally. When he was younger than now, he moved 40 times over a 15 year period. He would come early to work as Editor of Poetry Magazine to write his own, spilling line after line onto page from the driver seat of his car (he wrote my favorite poem of his that way he tells me). And the writer that defined him then was Simone Weil, who wrote in her Gravity and Grace, "We must take the feeling of being at home into exile. We must be rooted in the absence of a place."

And I wonder, if all poets are exiles, does that make us all poets? The generalized unease and anxiety that comes with being human often leaves us longing for a home. And each of us imagine a particular place, a perspective, a people, when we think of home. But it's always longing, isn't it. Especially in light of the fact that "we are home to each other"—that home is ultimately a relational reality built and maintained and indwelled with people—if that's true then no wonder we long for home all the more, because we long to be accepted, received, and loved all the more.

A recent theme of the podcast has been exile and migration. War correspondent Janine Di Giovanni offered perspective on the vanishing Christian population in the middle east; biblical scholar Francisco Lozada helped us view faith through the eyes of the immigrants hopeful sojourn. Today, that continues, even as we consider the very meaning of home by way of poetry.

Christian Wiman spent most of the 2020 leg of the pandemic curating a story about home using 100 poems, using with prose from some of the wisest denizens of our species to narrate the tale. The book came out this month, and you can listen to Miroslav Volf and Christian Wiman discuss the project on episode 36 of the podcast.

I asked Chris to come back on the show to read more of the poems he selected, talk about the connection between poetry and faith, and continue to examine the meaning of home through exiles' eyes. You might think that's exactly the wrong way to wonder about home. But Odysseus would tell you different as he fights his way back to Ithaca. Moses would tell you different as he leads the Jews through the wilderness. Jesus would tell you different as he goes to prepare a place for you.

And what other option do we have as wandering wonderers anyway—always longing for home, always praying for, in Christian Wiman's words, "those moments of mysterious intrusion, that feeling of collusion with eternity, of life and language riled to the one wild charge.”

Thanks for listening, and enjoy.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured poet Christian Wiman
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Nov 27, 2021
Sameer Yadav / Gratitude Is Not a Debt: Giving, Receiving, and Sharing Thanks
00:36:17

Happy Thanksgiving! We often misunderstand gratitude as either a means to our subjective well-being or as an obligation of debt to a giver. So what is the emotion of gratitude? Sameer Yadav (Westmont College) joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to reflect on a better way to understand gratitude than owing it, being in debt to another person, seeing gratitude only through the dry indifference of a receiver's economic indebtedness to a giver. Gratitude as indebtedness creates problems especially when thinking about gratitude to God, and the two consider instead on a conception of gratitude based in sacrament and creatureliness, mystical shared witness, the meetness and rightness of thanks and praise, and a joyful recognition of the gifts in our lives. This understanding of gratitude would have truly seismic consequences for how we see the world. Thank you cards would no longer feel obligatory, and gratitude lists wouldn't have to be hacked for my subjective well-being, it would simply follow from the glad, mutual sharing in the gift of life from God, and the presence of being what we are to each other.

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

Show Notes

  • "A debt of gratitude": Is it helpful for Christians to think about gratitude?
  • What do we owe to one another?
  • Obligations tied up with debts
  • Gratitude is historically tied up with political economy
  • Robert C. Roberts, Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues
  • Debts of gratitude as deeply problematic because of (1) the dynamics it presents for human relationships and (2) Christian understanding of the emotion
  • David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
  • Debt, calculation, equivalence
  • Owing money vs owing favors
  • Forcibly severing us from our contexts: Abstraction from relationships and dependencies
  • "The Labor that Pays My Salary" (Isaac Villegas, The Christian Century)
  • Seneca on gratitude—internal attention on gift
  • Thomas Aquinas on gratitude
  • Immanuel Kant on gratitude: You can never do enough as recipient, since you're only ever a respondent; the giver always acts first
  • Aristotle on gratitude: Not a virtue for the magnanimous person, since you'd have to owe someone, and self-sufficiency is better than dependence—better to be a giver than receiver
  • The role of social hierarchy and the economic image of gratitude
  • Gratia vs Gratitudo
  • Modeling "gratitudo" on social superiority/inferiority
  • Gratitude as an "unfortunate necessity"
  • Apostle Paul: "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)
  • Affirmation of dependence as essential to the human condition; staunch independence as sinful pride
  • "Why not just be happy with indebtedness?"
  • Inverting the values of debt obligation
  • Indebted to God
  • Argument by analogy: Aquinas's distinction between gratitudo and gratia: Everyone has equal indebtedness to God. A bad analogy when you do it on economic terms.
  • Jeremy David Engels, The Art of Gratitude
  • Christianity and the cancellation of debt
  • Christian mystical tradition—Howard Thurman and the divine sharing with creation
  • God's life extended in creatures
  • Rather than benefactor or beneficiary relationships, God is a transcendent, holy other ...
  • "We're a witness and channel for God's holy presence."
  • Gratitude as joyful recognition offered to God
  • Praise and Gratitude
  • Howard Thurman: Gratitude as a sacrament
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel: Gratitude as a window
  • Reflecting light back to its source
  • David Graeber: "What could possibly be more presumptuous, more ridiculous than to think it would be possible to negotiate with the grounds of one's existence? Of course it isn't. Insofar as it is indeed possible to come to any sort of relation with the absolute, we are confronting a principle that exists outside of time or human scale entirely, therefore as medieval theologians correctly recognize when dealing with the absolute, there can be no such thing as debt."
  • Debt as a category mistake
  • Jacob's Ladder: "You give me everything, and I'll give a tenth back to you."
  • "God isn't dealing with losses and gains here."
  • Transfiguration
  • Intrinsic relationality
  • Eucharistic prayer: "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. / It is meet and right so to do."
  • Glad, mutual sharing in the gift of one another to one another
  • Intrinsically egalitarian dimension to sharing
  • Eugene McCarraher, The Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism Became the Religion of Modernity: "without faith in the sacramental nature of the world, we anchor ourselves in the illusionary and inevitably malevolent apparatus of domination."
  • Eucharist = "thanks"

Introduction (Evan Rosa)

This is the obligatory gratitude podcast for the week before Thanksgiving. Thank you. You're welcome. But in all seriousness: Here's to hoping that you're listening to this in the peace and rest and warmth of family and loving community.

But I have to be honest about something; I'm not very good at thank you notes. Don't get me wrong, I try my best to communicate verbally my gratitude for the people and gifts in my life, and I'm ever—often painfully aware of my dependence on others, my need for them, my profound linkage to them. But I feel pretty bad that when it comes to writing the note and formalizing the payment of my debt of gratitude, I falter.

Part of the problem, I gauge, besides the grossness of my narcissism, is that I feel so indebted, so obligated to do it, like my gratitude to you just doesn't count if I don't write the note, or that it's less about the giver and more about the card or the transaction. There's something wrong there.

But I'm equally tempted to err in another way: Ever since I learned from positive psychology that I could hack my own thankfulness for happiness, I tend to exploit gratitude just to feel better.

Our episode today will correct me on both counts, both for thinking of gratitude as something to be exploited for my personal well-being and for thinking of gratitude as an obligation.

Today on the show Sameer Yadav, a theologian at Westmont College, joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to reflect on a better way to understand gratitude than owing it, being in debt to another person, seeing gratitude only through the dry indifference of a receiver's economic indebtedness to a giver. Gratitude as indebtedness creates problems especially when thinking about gratitude to God, and the two consider instead on a conception of gratitude based in sacrament and creatureliness, mystical shared witness, the meetness and rightness of thanks and praise, and a joyful recognition of the gifts in our lives.

This understanding of gratitude would have truly seismic consequences for how we see the world. Thank you cards would no longer feel obligatory, and gratitude lists wouldn't have to be hacked for my subjective well-being, it would simply follow from the glad, mutual sharing in the gift of life from God, and the presence of being what we are to each other.

And I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to thank each of you, our listeners and subscribers, for joining us each weekend for these conversations. It's our joy to produce them for you, and I don't even feel obligated to say that. Not in the least. So I guess remiss was the wrong word there cuz that means faulting a duty. Aye! That's why we need this episode.

So, how about this: Thanks for sharing in the gift of making this podcast. Enjoy.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Sameer Yadav and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Nov 20, 2021
Francisco Lozada / Theology of Immigration: Crossing Porous Borders, Welcoming Strangers, and the Faith of the Migrant
00:53:37

What can the faith of the migrant teach us about a living theology? The resilience and communal outlook of immigrants offers a way of seeing human relationships—political, social, religious—as porous and permeable, meant to encounter God in the other, welcoming each other in love and hospitality. Francisco Lozada (Brite Divinity School) joins Evan Rosa to reflect on his experiences at U.S.-Mexico borderlands, leading travel seminars and teaching about immigration and justice from a theological framework—they discuss the influence of liberation theology's guiding principle of the preferential option for the poor, the centrality of history in understanding immigration, the problem of American xenophobia, and the racialization of U.S. immigration policy.

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

"Building bridges, not walls."

"God doesn't see borders. In my theological thinking, I don't imagine a God or theologize a God asking, "show me your papers." God's asking different questions: Did you feed me, did you give me something to drink, did you clothe me?

During this trip to Nogales, we came across a group of students and they were celebrating mass. We were walking right by them. We were on the U.S. side, they were on the Mexican side, and they asked, do we want to celebrate mass there? And what I see that moment is, that mass, that prayer was a form or expression of resistance, of pushing back there. There are no borders between us.

Prayer doesn't see borders. Faith doesn't see borders. That's the power religion. I think the power of theology, the power of prayer, is that it works—not always, but in its true sense—it works to build bridges, not walls." (Francisco Lozada, from the interview)

Introduction (Evan Rosa)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

"The New Colossus" Emma Lazarus, 1883

The generous spirit, the welcome for the wandering, taking in the homeless stranger, the refugee—these words that inscribe the Statue of Liberty offer a hopeful image of an America with open arms, a beacon of hospitality and safety in a dangerous world. How do we square this symbol of welcoming freedom with the reality of immigration policy today? Detention centers crowded with young children separated from their families, exploitation of undocumented migrants for agricultural labor, billions of dollars spent on "the wall," the false nativism of fair-skinned European-American immigrants.

Alongside the ideals of The New Colossus embracing the "tired, poor, huddled masses," a history of racial purity, exclusion, xenophobia, and fear can be seen in immigration policy, from the Chinese Exclusion Act just four years before the dedication of Lady Liberty, to the discriminatory immigration quotas of the Johnson-Reed Act in 1924, all the way up to the Muslim Travel Ban of 2017.

In the spring of 2018, approximately 5,500 children were separated from their families by Trump's zero tolerance policy. 1,700 children still live in detention centers, 3 years later.

But how does this balance with the rights of a nation to enforce and manage its political borders? How should those borders be enforced justly? How should we prioritize national security and cultural integrity with the call to welcome the tempest-tost stranger through our "golden doors"?

Well, beyond the dizzying political and moral questions that we have with us always, Francisco Lozada is thinking theologically about immigration and the migrant experience. He is the Charles Fischer Catholic Professor of New Testament and Latinx Studies at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Lozada draws on his experiences at U.S.-Mexico borderlands, leading travel seminars and teaching about immigration and justice from a theological framework. In this episode we discuss the influence of liberation theology's guiding principle of the preferential option for the poor, the centrality of history in understanding immigration, the problem of American xenophobia, the racialization of U.S. immigration policy, and the ways Jesus, himself a migrant and refugee, crosses borders and boundaries throughout the Gospel narrative.

Thanks for listening.

About

Francisco Lozada, Jr. is the Charles Fischer Catholic Professor of New Testament and Latinx Studies at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. He holds a doctorate in New Testament and Early Christianity from Vanderbilt University. He is a past co-chair of the Johannine Literature Section (SBL), past chair of the Program Committee of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), and a past member of SBL Council. He is a past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, a past steering committee member of the Bible, Indigenous Group of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and past co-chair of the Latino/a and Latin American Biblical Interpretation Consultation (SBL). He also serves on the board of directors for the Hispanic Summer Program, and mentored several doctoral students with the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI). Dr. Lozada’s most recent publications concern cultural and ideological interpretation while exploring how the Bible is employed and deployed in ethnic/racial communities. As a teacher, he co-led immersion travel seminars to Guatemala to explore colonial/postcolonial issues and, most recently, to El Paso, TX, and Nogales, AZ, to study life and society in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Click here to check out his personal website.

Show Notes

  • Introduction (Evan Rosa)
  • "The New Colossus," Emma Lazarus, 1883 (see above)
  • Relationality, borderlands, and solidarity
  • Life shared together
  • What does solidarity mean in the context of immigration?
  • Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • Jon Sobrino, SJ
  • "How do you bring us churches in solidarity with the plight of the poor in Latin America?"
  • The guiding principles of liberation theology and their influence on immigration theology
  • Preferential option for the poor
  • Jesus as someone with us
  • Resilience and the migrant's journey
  • Reframing the narrative of why migration occurs.
  • Common misconceptions (narratives) about why people migrate
  • "How you understand migration will influence how you respond to immigration."
  • Nationalism, nativism, and scarce resources
  • Responsibility comes from our relatedness and living off the benefits of oppressive history
  • "Immigration is historical. You can't construct an immigration response that's ahistorical."
  • Oscar Martinez, Troublesome Border
  • "The border is not fixed."
  • Jesus crossing borders in the Gospel of John
  • Relationships that break through borders
  • Samaritan woman
  • Centurion
  • Are borders meant to be crossed?
  • Why migrants cross, how migrants cross, and how borders are maintained.
  • The narrative is the encounter itself.
  • Xenophobia
  • A reckoning with our complicity with the construction of whiteness
  • Nationality Act of 1790
  • Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
  • Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 
  • Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965
  • Whiteness and the history of U.S. Immigration Policy
  • "The New Colossus" (Inscription  on the Statue of Liberty): "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
  • How do we interpret human mobility?
  • How do we understand our past?
  • "It can't begin out of an abstract reality, it has to begin with a lived reality. That's liberation."
  • The faith of the migrant
  • Resilience 

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured biblical scholar Francisco Lozada
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Nov 13, 2021
Janine Di Giovanni / The Vanishing: War Correspondence, Humanitarian Journalism, and the Twilight of Christianity in the Middle East
00:44:20

Can Christianity survive in the Middle East? Ancient communities of Christian faithful are currently being decimated not just by religious violence, persecution, and war—but the economic factors that motivate emigration and refuge. Janine Di Giovanni is an award-winning journalist and war correspondent, and is Senior Fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. She joins Evan Rosa to discuss her journalistic style and approach to human rights reporting, the alarming decimation of the Christian population in the Middle East, the difference between survival and flourishing, and what it means to adapt to being an outsider. Her latest book is The Vanishing: Faith, Loss, & the Twilight of Christianity in the Land of the Prophets.

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

From the Introduction (Evan Rosa):

There are many ways to be a journalist in our noisy digital commons. And likely, there's a place for them all, but everyone—whether writer or reader—needs to ask: What is a journalist for? Presenting the truth, spreading knowledge, yes. But reporting for mere awareness pushes the question all the more for us news junkies, hooked on headlines replete with bad news.

My guest today sees journalism as an endeavor of human empathy—recording the truth not from embassies or palaces or political centers, but from the leaky tents of refugee camps; telling stories not of the powerful politicians and generals executing a war, but the widows and orphans caught up in the chaos; publishing news and correspondence not to feed the insatiable news gluttony of American media, but to give voice to the voiceless.

Show Notes

  • The Vanishing: Faith, Loss, & the Twilight of Christianity in the Land of the Prophets
  • How Janine Di Giovanni became a "human rights reporter"
  • Palestinian occupation and intifada
  • Bosnian War
  • War is not about religion or tribe, but power
  • Embedded within a community
  • Giving voice
  • Expressing agency
  • The Vanishing: Documenting Christian communities before they disappear
  • Di Giovanni's personal faith and commitment to neighbor love
  • Coats on the Bowery
  • Journalistic style: bringing the reader close
  • "If you have the ability to go to these places and bring the story to other people, then you have the obligation."
  • Confusion, frustration, fear
  • War makes life change in an instant
  • Perspective-taking, empathy, and compassion
  • "Celebrating the fact that we still exist."
  • Christian persecution around the world
  • The purpose of The Vanishing: to honor the people who have decided to stay, even amidst persecution
  • Pope Francis's trip to Iraq during covid, for solidarity
  • "Emigration is our enemy."
  • Good refugees vs bad refugees
  • Chaldean Christian Iraqis chanting in Aramaic
  • Faith rooted in the land
  • Adapting to being an outsider vs adapting to being an insider
  • Egyptian Coptic Christians
  • Courage to be a stranger in a strange land
  • What is a life worth living?

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured journalist and war correspondent Janine Di Giovanni
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Nov 06, 2021
Will Willimon / Gospel Oddity: The Purpose of Pastors and the Problem with Self-Care
00:44:44

As the political world casts a leery eye on Christians—especially as the meaning of "Evangelical" changes—the focus on the meaning and purpose of the pastor is especially relevant. Amidst our consumeristic, narcissistic culture, what does it mean to pursue self-care? How does caring for oneself square with caring about what Jesus cares about? (Even and especially when Jesus cares about you?) Upholding the call of the pastor to take on the cares of Christ, Will Willimon (Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School) suggests we've developed a disordered approach to self-care, proving the triumph of the therapeutic and mimicking our consumeristic world rather than embodying the oddity of the Christian Gospel. Interview by Evan Rosa.

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

Introduction (Evan Rosa)

What is the purpose of a pastor? To teach you how to think (or vote)? To reassure you that you're safe? To heal your wounds? The goal of pastoral ministry is surely in question right now. Everything from the toxic masculinity of the bully pulpit, to the pastor as political pollster, to the staggering need to be cool of hipster celebrity pastor—there's lots of ways to go wrong in pastoral ministry, and a razors edge of getting it right. It's a demanding job. Perhaps its so demanding because the primary call of the pastor is to take up the cares of Christ, speaking the truth when the truth hurts, listening from both sides of the conversation between God and the Church, comforting the grieving when there's plenty in your own life to grieve, standing with the marginalized and oppressed when its the unpopular, difficult thing.

That is to say: it's a dangerous world, the world of pastoral ministry. But as my guest on the show today suggests, this danger ought to be faced with courage and eyes wide to the cares of Christ.

Will Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School and author of over 100 books, including Worship as Pastoral Care, Accidental Preacher, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (with Stanley Hauerwas), and his most recent, God Turned Toward Us: The ABCs of the Christian Faith. He's been a pastor in the United Methodist Church for a long time, including an 8 year stint as a Bishop.

Will Willimon is concerned about the direction the church is headed and is asking uncomfortable but necessary questions. Amidst our culture of consumerism, narcissism, where the vision of flourishing reaches no higher than getting whatever it is you want most, how does caring for oneself square with caring about what Jesus cares about? (Even and especially when Jesus cares about you?) Upholding the call of the pastor to take on the cares of Christ, Will Willimon suggests we've developed a disordered approach to self-care, proving the triumph of the therapeutic and mimicking our consumeristic world rather than embodying the oddity of the Christian Gospel.

About Will Willimon

The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School, Duke University. He served eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led the 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. He is author of over 100 books, including Worship as Pastoral Care, Accidental Preacher, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, and his most recent, God Turned Toward Us: The ABCs of the Christian Faith. His articles have appeared in many publications including The Christian Ministry, Quarterly Review, Plough, Liturgy, Worship and Christianity Today. For many years he was Editor-at-Large for The Christian Century. For more information and resources, visit his website.

Show Notes

  • How Will Willimon became a pastor and educator in pastoral ministry
  • What is the purpose of pastoral ministry?
  • Equipping
  • Mutuality of care in Christian community
  • The sermon as conversation between the preacher, the congregation, and God
  • Preaching as "double listening"
  • Helping and caring, overemphasizing the role of help and care in pastoral ministry
  • Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas recent article: "The dangers of providing pastoral care"
  • The triumph of the therapeutic in pastoral ministry
  • "... how tough it is in a kind of therapeutic culture to do pastoral care, because our care keeps getting captured by certain secular, therapeutic mindsets."
  • "Jesus healed, but had an odd, ambiguous relationship to his healing."
  • "Our care is offered in tension."
  • Wading into people's pain is dangerous territory.
  • Christ as "wounded healer"
  • Flourishing as opposed to curing or healing
  • "Jesus loves to take sick, hurting people in pain and give them a job to do—that is be a Christian disciple."
  • Is ministry a therapy for me?
  • Triumph of the therapeutic
  • Consumerism, possession, and life without limits
  • Willie Jennings's After Whiteness
  • T.S. Eliot: "Why should people love the church?"
  • Christian humility
  • The oddness of the Christian Gospel
  • Jesus on marriage
  • "Jesus has a different idea of what it means to be a human being."
  • The modern myth of the role-less self
  • The role of the community in supporting the individual
  • "I wonder what God is doing with your pain right now."
  • "Is the corporate practice of Christianity optional?"
  • Hauerwas: "How do you minister to people in a pandemic who think that death is optional or think that death is an injustice God has worked on them?"
  • Muddling through
  • Embedded in community
  • To whom are we responsible?
  • How to become a community worthy of the name of "community in Christ"?
  • "Maybe in God's hands, the present moment is not a call for lament and despair, but a call for: 'Wow. Let roll with Christ.'"

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured pastor and educator Will Willimon
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Oct 30, 2021
Julian Reid / Musical Spiritual Hotel: Rest, Hospitality, and Sacred Music
00:46:02

Julian Reid explores the way music and scripture can come together to create a sacred space. Extending metaphors of music as architecture and dwelling and spiritual experience as a river, the jazz pianist, producer, writer, and performer explains a recent project of his, "Notes of Rest," combining African-American spirituals with classical hymns for an experience of spiritual hospitality, gratitude, and proclamation of the Gospel into the full spectrum of human experience, in all its pain, frustration, frenzy, stillness, and joy. Throughout the conversation you'll hear Julian play along to accompany his points; he also graciously provided beautiful meditative interludes, much like the kind you'd experience in one of his "Notes of Rest" sessions. Interview by Matt Croasmun.

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

Show Notes

  • Click here to learn more about Julian Reid's "Notes of Rest"
  • Introduction: Evan Rosa
  • "God has given us music so that above all it can lead us upwards. Music unites all qualities: it can exalt us, divert us, cheer us up, or break the hardest of hearts with the softest of its melancholy tones. But its principal task is to lead our thoughts to higher things, to elevate, even to make us tremble… The musical art often speaks in sounds more penetrating than the words of poetry, and takes hold of the most hidden crevices of the heart… Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true. If, however, music serves only as a diversion or as a kind of vain ostentation it is sinful and harmful." (Friedrich Nietzsche at 14 years old; see Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography by Julian Young; h/t Brain Pickings)
  • Bringing together music and scripture
  • Engendering wonder and trust as a seedbed for a life of faith
  • Creating space, the architecture that music creates
  • Weekly liturgical practices
  • The ends and uses of music in sacred spaces
  • Living in a tent, motel—a musical spiritual hotel
  • Scripture is like a cathedral or museum.
  • Performance: "Thank You, Lord"
  • Gratitude—the way we enter into hospitality, "what it means to be hosted by God"
  • Hotel art—the artwork invites and calms rather than jarring and provoking
  • Curiosity vs calmness
  • Invoking a different kind of response
  • Sanitizing the Psalms
  • Performance: "Give Me Jesus"
  • Speaking to different registers
  • Aimed at an encounter with the living God
  • Grace
  • Proclamation: music and preaching
  • Taking risks over the pulpit
  • Karl Barth: "God tempts the church through God's absence."
  • Kerygma: "proclamation"
  • Performance: "Lord, Hear My Prayer" (Taize)
  • Word and Water
  • The metaphor of water utilized in "Notes of Rest"
  • Black musical idioms
  • Finding the use of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)
  • Balm in Gilead
  • The Hymns of Isaac Watts, colonizing, historical context
  • Combining musical genealogies
  • Braxton Shelly's Healing for the Soul
  • Imaginative fuel from the mystics
  • Cistercian monastics: worshipping in silence and solitude; "a long-standing faith"
  • Performance: "Lord, Hear My Prayer / Give Me Jesus" (Medley)

Introduction (Evan Rosa)

One of the most gripping and influential philosophers of the last 200 years once wrote:

"God has given us music so that above all it can lead us upwards. Music unites all qualities: it can exalt us, divert us, cheer us up, or break the hardest of hearts with the softest of its melancholy tones. But its principal task is to lead our thoughts to higher things, to elevate, even to make us tremble… The musical art often speaks in sounds more penetrating than the words of poetry, and takes hold of the most hidden crevices of the heart… Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true. If, however, music serves only as a diversion or as a kind of vain ostentation it is sinful and harmful."

That Friedrich Nietzsche, written when he was 14 years old.

There is plenty of "vain ostentation" in popular music today, and certainly not excluding the music played in church.

But the unitive depth and invitation into transcendence that music offers us of course pairs beautifully with scripture. And whatever else might have changed in Nietzsche's thinking, even at the end of his life in Twilight of the Idols, he suggested that "Without music life would be a mistake. The German imagines even God as a songster." And I say: Well, not just the German, but the human.

In today's episode, Matt Croasmun welcomes Julian Reid, jazz pianist and producer, writer, and performer (not to mention Yale and Emory educated). You can hear his hip-hop infused jazz project The JuJu Exchange on episode 26 of For the Life of the World, when Julian joined us to talk about How Jazz Teaches us Faith and Justice. Today, Matt and Julian explore the way music and scripture can come together to create a sacred space. Extending metaphors of music as architecture and dwelling and spiritual experience as a river, Julian explains a recent project of his, "Notes of Rest," combining African-American spirituals with classical hymns for an experience of spiritual hospitality, gratitude, and proclamation of the Gospel into the full spectrum of human experience, in all its pain, frustration, frenzy, stillness, and joy.

Throughout the conversation you'll hear Julian play along to accompany his points; he also graciously provided beautiful meditative interludes, much like the kind you'd experience in one of his "Notes of Rest" sessions.

Thanks for listening.

About Julian Reid

Julian Reid is a Chicago-based jazz pianist and producer, writer, and performer (B.A. Yale University / M.Div. Emory University). The JuJu Exchange is a musical partnership also featuring Nico Segal (trumpet, Chance the Rapper; The Social Experiment) and Everett Reid—exploring creativity, justice, and the human experience through their hip-hop infused jazz. Their new 5-song project is called The Eternal Boombox. Julian's latest project is "Notes of Rest"—a spiritual mini-retreat that places meditations from the Bible on a bed of music, cultivating rest, contemplation, and creativity in all who will hear Jesus’ call.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured musician Julian Reid and biblical scholar Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Oct 23, 2021
Alysia Harris / Attention, Wonder, Permeability, & the Space Between Activity & Passivity
00:42:57

Over-worked or over-entertained? Our humanity gives us the joint gifts of both activity and passivity. We act and we are acted upon. But how do we balance and mediate these states? How do we cultivate long practices and habits that help us to inhabit the space between activity and passivity, bringing them together in a beautiful agency?

Poet and linguist Alysia Harris joins Matt Croasmun for a discussion of that space between active and passive in human life—bringing the concepts of wonder, awareness/attention, patient receptivity to the natural world and to God, bearing witness to the autonomy and action of the other, and how she cultivates and meditates on these things in her own life.

Show Notes

  • Norman Wirzba, This Sacred Life: Humanity's Place in a Wounded World
  • Active life vs passive life
  • Intermediate category between activity and passivity: attentive awareness
  • Active receptivity and bearing witness
  • Human beings enacting and reacting
  • Witness as perception and response
  • Carl Sagan, Robin Kimmerer, Timothy Wilburn
  • Wonder as a mediating emotion between active and passive
  • "I'm not the entire system."
  • Granting autonomy to a natural system
  • Making the right impact through granting the sovereignty of the other
  • Adam and Eve as gardeners—beauty vs productivity
  • Genesis: "Avad and Shamar"—Till and Keep, Serve and Protect
  • Restrain, observe, attend, and magnify
  • "Me and God"
  • Capitalism, scarcity mentality, and "enough"
  • Ping-ponging between over-worked and over-entertainment—deficient visions of activity and deficient visions of passivity
  • Mark 4: Parable of the Sower. Scattering Seeds
  • Dynamic reciprocity and intentional permeability
  • The patience an orchid demands
  • "Ideas have no use unless they have something to do with our lives."
  • Practices and rituals to inhabit the space between active and passive
  • Writing habits—"faithful stewardship with less brings faithful stewardship with more"
  • Dance as an embodied balance with intellectual work
  • Intercessory prayer and producing opportunities
  • Working out of hope instead of striving
  • Running, walking, granting the natural world autonomy

About Alysia Harris

Follow Alysia Harris @Poppyinthewheat

Alysia Nicole Harris was born in Fremont, California but grew up in Alexandria, VA and considers herself on all accounts a member of the ranks of great Southern women. At age 10 she wrote her first poem, after hearing about sonnets in English class. That class began her life-long love of poetry and the literary arts.

Alysia went to The University of Pennsylvania where she experienced her first success as a writer and a performer. In 2008 she featured on the HBO documentary: Brave New Voices where she wowed audiences with her piece "That Girl". In 2010 Alysia graduated UPENN Summa Cum Laude with honors and was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. 

Alysia received her MFA in poetry from NYU in 2014 and her PhD in linguistics from Yale University in 2019. Her dissertation “The Non-Aspectual Meaning of African-American English ‘Aspect’ Markers” breaks with traditional analyses and explores the discourse-oriented uses of the preverbal particles ‘be’ and ‘done’ in varieties of African-American English.

Although she has experienced scholastic success, poetry has always come first in her heart. Cave Canem fellow, winner of the 2014 and 2015 Stephen Dunn Poetry Prizes, Pushcart Nominee, her poetry has appeared  in Best American Poets, Indiana Review, The Offing, Callaloo, Solstice Literary Magazine, Squaw Valley Review, Letters Journal, and Vinyl Magazine among others. Her first chapbook How Much We Must Have Looked Like Stars to Stars won the 2015 New Women's Voices Chapbook Contest and is available for purchase on site.

Alysia was also a founding member of the internationally known performance poetry collective, The Strivers Row and has garnered over 5 million views on YouTUBE. She has toured nationally for the last 10 years and also performed at the United Nations and the US Embassies in Jordan and Ukraine, as well as in Australia, Canada, Germany, Slovakia, South Africa, the UAE, and the UK.

Alysia now lives in Atlanta, GA where she works as a consultant for the Morehouse Center for Excellence in Education and as arts and soul editor at Scalawag Magazine, a nonprofit POC-led, women run media organization focused on Southern movement, community, and dissent. She is working on a book of poems and a collection of essays about the intersections of faith, violence, and the natural world. 

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured poet Alysia Harris and biblical scholar Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Oct 16, 2021
Charles Taylor & Miroslav Volf / Finding a Shared Moral Understanding: Progress, Evil, Freedom, and Solidarity (Part 2)
00:37:26

This is Part 2 of 2—don't miss the previous conversation with Charles Taylor on "What's Going Wrong with Our Democracies?"

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

Part 2 of 2: Philosopher Charles Taylor joins Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz for a two-part conversation about what's gone wrong with our democracies and finding common moral understanding. In this episode, Charles Taylor explains his most recent thinking about the growth of common ethical understanding in a world that often fails to live up to those shared moral principles of respect, dignity, and care. The conversation also covers the promise of hope in its political and theological context; the response we need for the epistemological crisis of post-truth politics; how to restore trust in each other; the relation between individual freedom and public common good; the need to recover solidarity and sacred encounter between humans during our time; and finally the promise of democracy for living up to our moral ideals. 

Introduction: Ryan McAnnally-Linz

We’re living at the end of a strange moral century. 100 years ago, the world was marked by a global pandemic, the end of a long war, fights over gender inequality and racial injustice, and the precipice of a broken economy. And people in 1921 simply had no idea what kind of violence, bloodshed, and upheaval was coming.

And yet, even over the course of a century filled with all-too-human evil, we can trace a faint golden thread of moral invention. Commitments to human dignity, universal human rights, suffrage and democracy, solidarity with the marginalized and suffering, equality—the spread of these ideas also mark the last 100 years. The disparity is stark. At another moment of conflict and uncertainty, the fate of that golden thread is unclear.

This is part 2 of our conversation with philosopher Charles Taylor. Author of Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity, A Secular Age, and much more, Taylor exemplifies  determined, imaginative, generous intellectual commitment to a fundamental question: What is humanity for? This is one of the foundational questions of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and this podcast—seeking and living a life worthy of our humanity. Following Taylor, we want to help people to better understand themselves, their world, and the significance of their lives.

Show Notes

  • Introduction: Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • A strange moral century
  • Hope
  • How have we got as far as we've got?
  • The progress of ethical understanding through history
  • Disparity with human propensity for evil
  • Non-violent resistance
  • How non-violence shapes Miroslav Volf's approach to democracy
  • Miroslav's first democratic act of protest in Czechoslovakia 
  • "Fear not" as a command; hope as an obligation
  • The hope that permeates Charles Taylor's work
  • How do you cultivate a sense of hopefulness?
  • The quest for moral certainty and purity
  • Listener question from Bonnie Kristian: "How to achieve ethical growth/gain moral knowledge in a time of epistemic crisis?"
  • Listener question from Jennifer Herdt: "You have written in such illuminating ways about the quest for certainty and moral purity, and about how these often end up rationalizing violence in service of the eradication of error and evil. I'm wondering how you would you relate your analysis to our contemporary post-truth historical moment, in which various groups that perceive themselves as under attack seek epistemic closure, sealing themselves off from an enemy regarded as absolutely unworthy of engagement--even at the cost of massive loss of life, as we see in politically-motivated anti-masking and anti-vaccination campaigns.  What sources of hope would you name for restoring basic forms of social trust and commitment to pursuit of a common life?"
  • Tribalism that overtakes the sacred encounter between human beings
  • How the COVID pandemic has made things harder for tribalism
  • Democracy, freedom, choice, and the public good
  • Listener question from David Moe: It might be good to ask him these: "what kind of democracy the religiously pluralistic world needs today? How does religion shape the moral principle of that democracy?
  • What makes democracy a worthwhile pursuit for the human community?
  • The polis allows agents together to determine their common life by reason. 
  • Pope Francis's Encyclicals: Solidarity, collaboration, and universal human dignity in Laudato Si,  and Fratelli Tutti
  • "A cross-confessional ecumenical discussion about what the telos of human life is about."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured philosopher Charles Taylor, theologian Miroslav Volf, and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Oct 09, 2021
Charles Taylor & Miroslav Volf / What's Wrong with Our Democracies?: Fear of Replacement, Post-Truth, and Entrenched Tribal Factions (Part 1)
00:40:37

Philosopher Charles Taylor joins Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz for a two-part conversation about what's gone wrong with our democracies and finding common moral understanding. They discuss Christian nationalism, authoritarian government, the future viability of Christian faith and practice, the chaos of the post-truth epistemic crisis that’s rampant in political dialogue today, the role of social media in that crisis, and Taylor's most recent thinking about the growth of common ethical understanding in a world that often fails to live up to those shared moral principles of respect, dignity, and care.

(Part 1 of a 2-part series)

This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.

Introduction: Ryan McAnnally-Linz

The human world today is not the same as it was three hundred years ago. Far from it. Technology, economics, politics, art, culture—all have seen transformations, even revolutions, around the globe. Thirty years ago, a triumphalist narrative of these changes was in vogue: “modernity,” it was said, had solved humanity’s perennial problems, broken through our narrow-minded ethical traditions, and set us towards a future of comfort and perpetual peace after, in Francis Fukuyama’s phrase, “the end of history.” Even three years ago, we thought the world was different. I mean, I did. 

No wonder so many of us are trying to understand the revolutions and mechanics of human society. If you’re paying attention, you’re driven to understand. And so columnists and talking heads—academics and public intellectuals—not to mention your radicalized high school friend on Facebook—we all have these theories about ideal human society and culture, and, like how the hell we wound up here. Unfortunately, our desire to know and understand often exceeds our abilities to perceive and explain.

Charles Taylor is our guest for the next two episodes of For the Life of the World. He sees human life and action not as something to be explained, but to be elucidated, lived with, and made sense of. Over 7 decades, he's produced an astonishing and magisterial body of work, spanning social theory, religion, epistemology, history, politics, the self, aesthetics, science, technology, and more.

But you might be surprised to know that 30 years ago he described himself as a "monomaniac"—he meant that his ultimate concern is really singular: human life. The one issue that motivates his entire body of work is "philosophical anthropology." But answering the questions of what human persons are and what it means to live a life worthy of that humanity, he says, requires thinking along the borders and intersections of the massive diversity of human society and culture.

He has a long history of political engagement as well. As an undergraduate at Oxford in 1955, he launched one of the first campaigns to ban nuclear weapons. During the '60s he ran several times for Canadian parliament as a major-party candidate, but fell short by a small margin each time. The result for us, of course, is gratitude for the incredible body of work that came in the wake of his attempts to gain office, including Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity, A Secular Age, The Language Animal—all the way up to his 2020 book, Reconstructing Democracy: How Citizens Are Building from the Ground Up.

Taylor graciously joined Miroslav and me this summer for a long conversation about what's gone wrong with our democracies and finding common moral understanding. We cover a lot of ground, discussing Christian nationalism, authoritarian government, the future viability of Christian faith and practice, the chaos of the post-truth epistemic crisis that’s rampant in political dialogue today, the role of social media in that crisis, and Taylor’s most recent thinking about the growth of common ethical understanding in a world that often fails to live up to those shared moral principles of respect, dignity, and care. 

We'll run this conversation in two parts, this week and next. Special thanks goes to many of you listeners and friends who responded with thoughtful and important questions. Those questions helped to frame this conversation. Thanks for listening.

Show Notes

  • Introduction: Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Charles Taylor's history of political engagement and his interest in philosophy
  • What role did Vatican II, especially on freedom of religion, play on Taylor's politics?
  • Catholic intellectuals: French philosopher and theologian Emmanuel Mounier and French priest Henri de Lubac
  • Integralism and Dominionism
  • From Constantine on, we've lived with Christendom
  • Christendom is a "straight jacket for spiritual growth of the Christian faith."
  • What is the telos of history?
  • The Pope Francis approach: "Stop worrying about defending what's there and you reach out and just be a Christian."
  • Democracy isn't functioning the way it should be.
  • Voting for Trump: "It'd be laughable if it weren't cryable."
  • "If Trump pulled off his coup d'etat, that would be so catastrophic for the Western democratic world."
  • Democracies worldwide aren't in good shape: in what respects and what's underlying that?
  • Are we seeing the erosion of (1) common sense of identity and (2) universal principles of democracy?
  • "Even common human nature is being called into question."
  • "Democracy is no longer perceived as a moral ideal, but is simply a tool of governance."
  • "The fear of White replacement": The problem with political alignment that resists White minoritization.
  • "The fear of being replaced is very profound."
  • Question from Peng Yin (Emory University): "In A Secular Age, you described a rather uplifting modern social imaginary. Society is a realm of mutual benefits where our purposes mesh. In the present moment, however, society is increasingly seen in conflictual terms, as no more than a theatre of competing interests. Has that social imaginary you captured more than a decade ago vanished in our current crises of democracy? If so, do you see any prospect for its recovery?"
  • Question from listener Lynette Roth: "In a polarized world, where the divisions are falling along religious lines (and the religions are black-and-white, take no prisoners), how is democracy (where every voice counts) possible? How can democracy and religious conservatives live together?"
  • Entrenched in political tribal factions.
  • "Fear that we're going to disappear—that our version of Christianity is going to leave the earth."
  • Second only to "Follow me" in the scriptures is the phrase: "Be not afraid."
  • "This is not the end of the story."
  • Hope for the future: "The evangelical virtue that we need."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured philosopher Charles Taylor, theologian Miroslav Volf, and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Oct 02, 2021
David Brooks & Miroslav Volf / The Road to Character
00:38:05

The world today seem to prefer politics to morality, a personal brand to inner character, resume virtues that achieve success over eulogy virtues that reveal who you truly are... and it like this from the news to Instagram, at PTA meetings and little league fields, from the grocery store line to the protest front lines. David Brooks thinks we need to find our way back on the road to character.

Today, New York Times columnist David Brooks joins Miroslav Volf for a conversation about his 2015 book The Road to Character. Together, they reflect on the central virtues in a life of flourishing that leads to joy, the importance of reintroducing the concept of sin back into public conversation, and the challenge of finding the resolve to pursue the commitments to vocation, faith, community, and family in a culture that tempts us toward individualism and idolatry of the self.

This is part 2 of a 2-part conversation on Flourishing, Character, and the Good Life. Check out Part 1 , featuring David Brooks interviewing Miroslav Volf about his 2016 book, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World.

Show Notes

  • Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik: Adam 1 vs Adam 2
  • Resume Virtues vs Eulogy Virtues
  • The power of a good mom for developing character
  • Christian Smith and the dearth of moral dilemmas in young people, reducing everything to emotivism and individualism
  • Sin vs "insensitive"
  • "How do you introduce sin into the secular conversation?"
  • Brooks sense of vocation: Shifting the conversation out of politics and into morality.
  • Tim Keller: don't talk about depravity, talk about disordered loves.
  • Character development requires awareness of sinfulness, correcting where we've gone wrong.
  • Managing the "Big Me"
  • How to motivate humility
  • Humility: Not thinking lowly of oneself, but seeing yourself accurately.
  • Humanity as crooked tinder: Confront your broken nature.
  • Flourishing is a commitment to four things: vocation, faith/philosophy, community, spouse/family
  • "The tree is my only friend. ... The tree talks to me and says, 'I am life, I am life, I am eternal life.'"
  • Biblical imagination of the world to come: Lion with lamb; everyone sitting under their own fig tree; entering into joy.
  • A "deeply embedded" life
  • "Every day in government sucks, but the whole experience is tremendously rewarding."
  • Flourishing and suffering, enlarging capacity for empathy
  • Love to enlarge our hearts
  • Moments where it comes together in joy
  • The gratuity and deficit that comes with joy
  • The way David Brooks writes his column: piles of papers and notes, crawling around on the floor
  • Joy as advent and anticipation
  • Market economy, competition, self-projection as a brand, selling oneself
  • The rise of fame in recent years: By 2 to 1, college students prefer a life of fame to a life of sex
  • "You need a counter-culture within yourself."
  • Tough interview question about character: "Name a time you told the truth and it hurt you."
  • "There is a vacuum for people to think and talk about their own internal lives."
  • People are hungry and thirsty for a discussion of character and flourishing amidst their default lives of success and individualism.
  • Practices and habits to form character
  • Experiencing great love that fuses one with another
  • Overcoming challenges and suffering
  • Deep involvement in an act of service
  • "Do the reading."
  • Latch on to a tradition, rather than build your own system.
  • The role of education in being drawn toward beauty and moments of transcendence

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured David Brooks and Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Sep 25, 2021
David Brooks & Miroslav Volf / What Is Human Flourishing?
00:42:49

What is the shape of a flourishing human life? Once upon a time this question came pre-answered—by culture or tribe, by religion or philosophy, by tradition or way of life—but these days, given our increasingly individualized world and its emphasis on autonomy and self-expression, given the breakdown of social trust and the increasing degree of polarization and suspicion of the other: we each have to ask and answer these questions for ourselves: What is the good life?

What does it mean to live a flourishing life, and how can we actually do it? These are difficult questions on their own. They require intellectual muscles we've long let atrophy; they require reading deeply and at length; they require a willingness to listen across the chasm of disagreement. But one begins to wonder: if each of us must answer these questions for ourselves, how do we even begin to have this conversation together? The fact is, we need one another. Not just to answer them well. But to ask them well.

For the coming two weeks, we'll be airing a conversation between New York Times columnist David Brooks and theologian Miroslav Volf. In this first part of the dialogue, David interviews Miroslav about his 2016 book, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World. In next week's follow up, Miroslav and David discuss his 2015 book The Road to Character.

Show Notes

  • Life going well, life led well, life feeling right
  • "Flourishing extends over long periods of time."
  • "Does flourishing involve some eternal standard?"
  • How can we engage in meaningful debate about religion and flourishing in a globalized world?
  • Reading Nietzsche devotionally as a Christian theologian
  • The world is becoming, for ill or for good, a more religious place
  • What does religion offer the individual person today?
  • "I don't see any reason why washing the feet of the destitute... why that wouldn't be an even more noble calling than working for Goldman Sachs."
  • Market economy and flourishing 
  • "Religious traditions take us out of ourselves, into something transcendent."
  • Can you be good without God?
  • "You can be good without believing in God, but you can't be without God."
  • If you have no connection to the transcendent realm, do you have a chance at being good?
  • Secularization
  • The state of the world: Globalization and religion are in crisis, tearing human communities and nations and cultures apart.
  • Global capitalism letting down our hopeful expectations, because it's not delivering on the creation or distribution of wealth
  • Sin and grace in public debate—"Why did the secular sermons go away?"
  • Life Worth Living course at Yale College
  • The unbearable lightness of being
  • Two nihilisms
  • Is it possible to combine the pleasure of freedom and belief in God?
  • Joy in and joy of the world: taking pleasure in the created order
  • The sacraments of relationships and admiring the good of the world
  • Pluralism and contending particular universalisms

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured journalist and columnist David Brooks and theologian Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Sep 18, 2021
Miroslav Volf on 9/11 / A Grave in the Air: The Lasting Impact of 9/11 on Faith & Culture
00:30:45

As the first plane was crashing into the World Trade Center, Miroslav Volf was giving an address at the UN headquarters along the East River in Manhattan, just blocks away from Ground Zero. As the first plane shook the first tower and smoke rose into the sky, Miroslav was quoting Romanian poet Paul Celan. Specifically, his poem "Death Fugue"—which paints a dark picture of human suffering during the Holocaust and the living death that was the concentration camps. "We shovel a grave in the air."  

Miroslav went on to outline the features of reconciliation as embrace. "Embrace," he said that morning, "is the horizon of the struggle for justice. You will have justice only if you strive for something greater than justice, only if you strive after love."

In this episode, Miroslav talks about his experience on 9/11 with Evan Rosa, including short clips from his UN remarks 20 years ago. They consider the lasting impact of 9/11 on both American and global life, and how the event and its continuing aftermath have shaped the world. 

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologian Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Sep 11, 2021
Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Evan Rosa / Courage, Control, Kairos Time, and Roasting S'mores as an Exercise in Patience / Patience Coda
00:51:39

You can't just chatter about patience. If patience moderates our sorrows, then it's ultimately a deeper spiritual virtue that can't be instrumentalized to feel better—it's more deeply connected to a joy and hope that recognizes to what and to whom we are in demand, to whom we're responsible, brings closer attention to the present moment, and acknowledges our limitations and lack of control. In this episode, Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Evan Rosa review and reflect on the six episodes that made up our series on patience: why it’s so hard, what’s good about it, and how we might cultivate it.

These six episodes explored patience in its theological, ethical, and psychological context, offering cultural and social diagnosis of our modern predicament with patience, defining the virtue in its divine and human contexts, and then considering the practical cultivation of patience as a way of life.

This series featured interviews with Andrew Root (Luther Seminary), Kathryn Tanner (Yale Divinity School), Paul Dafydd Jones (University of Virginia), Adam Eitel (Yale Divinity School), Sarah Schnitker (Baylor University), and Tish Harrison Warren (priest, author, and New York Times columnist).

Show Notes

  • Moderating sorrows
  • James 5:7: "Be patient therefore beloved until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts. For the coming of the Lord is near."
  • The patient way to make a s'more
  • An unexpected s'mores tutorial
  • Kairos vs Chronos: often overdone, it applies when you're talking about patience.
  • Time with kids at bed time is incommensurate with work productivity time; comparing the two is a category mistake.
  • "One of the things that these conversations about patients had had started to clue me into was the importance of being attuned to the proper activity or thing for which this time is—a less uniform account of time that says for instance, you know, the bedtime routine with my children that time is for that. And so thinking of it as somehow commensurate with work productivity time would be a category mistake of a sort. It would be an unfaithfulness. And so that impatience derives from a lack of attentiveness to the temporal texture of our lives in really relation to God." (Ryan)
  • There can be "patient hurry"
  • Patience is like audio compression: it sets a threshold that is sensitive to the sorrow in our life and moderates or mitigates it.
  • Episode summaries
  • Patience Part 1, Andy Root: "To say that I'm busy is to indicate that I'm in demand."
  • Feeling busy = feeling important
  • Recognition
  • Attending to the present, accepting a different form of "being in demand."
  • Patience Part 2, Kathy Tanner: "There's no profit in waiting."
  • Connecting economy to patience.
  • "Something has to hold firm in order for you to take risks."
  • Stability and the steadfast love of God.
  • Patience Part 3, Paul Dafydd Jones: "The Psalms of lament and complaint can get, as we know, incredibly dark, incredibly bleak. One operation of divine patience could be that God gives ancient Israel the time and space to accuse God. God is patient with expressions of trauma, expressions of guilt, expressions of deep anguish. And God is so patient with them that they get included in the Canon. Like, some of the most powerful, skeptical, doubtful, angry moments are found in the Psalms. So God's letting be at this moment and letting happen includes within it God's honoring of grief and trauma, such that those moments become part of the scriptures."
  • Psalms of complaint
  • Psychologist Julie Exline on anger with God
  • Anger with God is consistent with patience
  • Patience Part 4, Adam Eitel: "Moderating sorrow is not to suppress it or develop an affected callousness or disenchanted, jaded relation to the things one really loves."
  • It's hard to chatter about patience.
  • Patience and joy
  • Patience Part 5, Sarah Schnitker: Identify, Imagine, and Sync
  • Normativity and a truer cognitive reappraisal of one's emotional state
  • Patience Part 6, Tish Harrison Warren: "God intended man to have all good, but in his, God's, time and therefore all disobedience, all sin consists essentially in breaking out of time. Hence the restoration of order by the Son of God had to be the annulment of that premature snatching at knowledge, the beating down of the hand, outstretched toward eternity, the repentant return from a false, swift transfer of eternity to a true, slow confinement in time. Hence the importance of patience in the New Testament, which becomes the basic constituent of Christianity. More central, even the humility, the power to wait, to persevere, to hold out, to endure to the end, not to transcend one's own limitations, not to force issues by playing the hero or the titan, but to practice the virtue that lies beyond heroism: the meekness of the Lamb which is led."
  • Control and Meekness: Meekness is controlled strength

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Evan Rosa
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

Part 1 Show Notes: Andrew Root

  • Doubling down and the temptation to make up for lost time
  • Hartmut Rosa and Modernity as Acceleration
  • Acceleration across three categories: technology, social change, and pace of life
  • "Decay rate” is accelerating—we can sense that things get old and obsolete much faster (e.g., phones, computers)
  • Riding the wave of accelerated social change
  • "We’ve become enamored with gadgets and time-saving technologies."
  • “Getting more actions within units of time"
  • Multi-tasking
  • Expectations and waiting as an attack on the self
  • "Waiting feels like a moral failure."
  • Give yourself a break; people are under a huge amount of guilt that they’re not using their time or curating the self they could have.
  • "You’re screwing up my flow here, man."
  • When I’m feeling the acceleration of time: “Get the bleep out of my way. My humanity is worn down through the acceleration."
  • Busyness as an indicator of a good life
  • “To say that I’m busy is to indicate that I’m in demand."
  • "Stripping time of its sacred weight."
  • Mid-life crises and the hollowness of time
  • Patience is not just "go slower”
  • Eric Fromm's "having mode" vs "being mode" of action
  • Waiting doesn’t become the absence of something
  • Pixar’s Soul, rushing to find purpose, failing to see the gift of connectedness to others
  • Not all resonance is good (e.g., the raging resonance of Capitol rioters)
  • How would the church offer truly good opportunities for resonance
  • Bonhoeffer and the community of resonant reality
  • Luther's theology of the cross—being with and being for—sharing in the moment
  • Receiving the act of being with and being for
  • Instrumentalization vs resonance
  • Bearing with one another in weakness, pain, and suffering
  • Encountering each other by putting down accelerated goals to be with and for the other
  • Flow or resonance in one’s relationship to time
  • Artists, mystics, and a correlation with psychological flow

Part 2 Show Notes: Kathryn Tanner

  • Listen to Patience Part 1 on Time, Acceleration, and Waiting, with Andrew Root (July 24, 2021)
  • What does patience have to do with money?
  • Is time money?
  • What is finance dominated capitalism?
  • Viewing economy and our relationship to time through past, present, and future
  • "Chained to the past”—debt is no longer designed to be paid off, and you can’t escape it
  • “Urgent focus on the present”—emergencies, preoccupation, short-term outlook, and anxiety
  • Workplace studies
  • Poverty, Emergency, and a Lack of Resources (Time or Money)
  • Lack of time and resources makes you fixated on the present
  • A Christian sense of the urgency of the present
  • Sufficient supply of God's grace
  • The right way to focus on the present
  • "Consideration of the present for all intents and purposes collapses into concern about the future."
  • The future is already embedded and encased in the present value of things.
  • Stock market and collapsing the present into future expectations
  • Pulling the future into the present
  • Gamestop and making the future present, and the present future
  • Patience and elongating the present
  • Fulsomeness, amplitude, expansiveness of God’s grace
  • Race, savings, and dire circumstances
  • Patience as a means to elongating the present
  • Stability, volatility, and waiting
  • “There’s no profit in waiting"
  • God's steadfast love and commitment
  • Kierkegaard's Works of Love
  • Augustine’s unstable volatile world and the implication of investing only in God's love and stability
  • "Something has to hold firm in order for you to take risks."

Part 3 Show Notes: Paul Dafydd Jones

  • God's patience
  • Apostle Peter: “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you.” (2 Peter 3)
  • Tertullian and Cyprian
  • "You need to think about who God is, and what God is doing before you think about who human beings are, and what we're called to become."
  • Augustine: "God is patient, without any passion."
  • Patience: Creation, providence, incarnation, Trinity
  • Creatures are given time and space to "reward God's patience"
  • This is not God getting out of the way; it's non-competitive between God and world.
  • Colin Gunton: for the problem of evil, God's patience is a good place to start.
  • "God's patience occurs at a pace that is rarely congenial to us ... the world's history is not unfolding at the pace or the shape we would like."
  • "God gives ancient Israel the time and space to accuse.  God is patient with expressions of trauma, expressions of guilt, expressions of deep anguish. And God is so patient with them that they get included in the Canon."
  • "Some of the most powerful, skeptical, doubtful, angry moments, are found in the psalms."
  • "God patiently beholds the suffering of God's creatures, particularly with respect to ancient Israel, that somehow the traumas of creaturely life are present to God, and God in some sense has to bear or endure them."
  • Beholding Suffering vs Enduring Suffering
  • God's responsibility for the entirety of the cosmos: "There's no getting God off the hook for things that happen in God's universe."
  • And yet God doesn't approve of everything that occurs.
  • Confident expectancy: "Moving to meet the kingdom that is coming towards us."
  • "God's patience empowers us to act."
  • The patience of God incarnate; Christ is patience incarnate
  • "Israel is waiting for a Messiah."
  • We cannot understand Christ as savior of the world without understanding him as Messiah of ancient Israel.
  • God's solidarity with us
  • "The pursuit of salvation runs through togetherness with creation in the deepest possible sense."
  • Letting Be vs Letting Happen
  • "Jesus has to negotiate the quotidian."
  • Crucifixion as the one moment of divine impatience with sin
  • Theology of the cross as an imperative
  • "Christians often are not comfortable with complexity. We want to think in terms of assurance. And we want that assurance to be comforting in a fairly quick-fire away. I think theologians have the task of exposing that as an ersatz hope and insisting that faith includes complexity. It involves lingering over ambiguity. Trying to fit together. multi-dimensional beliefs that are this lattice work—none of which can be reduced to a pithy, marketing quip."
  • "Theologians need to be patient in order to honor the complexity of Christian faith. ... That's called intellectual responsibility."
  • "Christianity is not going to cease to be weaponized by snake-oil salespeople."
  • Staying with complexity and ambiguity
  • "The capacity to tell the truth is in short supply."
  • "Human beings are called to respond to God's patience. Human beings are called to make good on God's patience. The covenant of grace, which is fulfilled in Christ and which is animated by the spirit, makes that a possibility. It's not an easy possibility of real life. I mean, not just because of sin and finitude, but because of the complexities of the world that we live in. But learning how to respond to God's patience, both through forms of waiting, through forms of activity, and sometimes through moments of intemperate resistance is I think at the heart of Christian life."
  • "People should not get in the way of human flourishing ... brought about by the empowering patience of the Holy Spirit. ... That's a gospel moment. That's a kairos moment."

Part 4 Show Notes: Adam Eitel

  • The context for Thomas Aquinas and his friars
  • "The friars are on the verge of being canceled."
  • What is a virtue? "To have them is to have a kind of excellence and to be able to do excellent things."
  • Where does patience fit in the virtues?
  • Matter and Object
  • The matter of a virtue is the thing it's about, and the matter of patience is sorrow.
  • Sorrow can have right or wrong objects and can be excessive or deficient.
  • Sorrow is elicited by evil, that is, the diminishment of good.
  • Patience is a moderating virtue for the passions, similar to courage.
  • Patience is connected to fortitude or courage in moderating our response to "the saddest things."
  • "Patience moderates or constrains sorrow, so that it doesn't go beyond its proper limit. When we become too absorbed in trouble or woe, alot of other things start to go wrong. That's what Gregory the Great called patience the guardian of the virtues. .... deteriorate." (or to ... guardian of the virtues in that sense.")
  • What does it feel like to be patient on this account?
  • You can't experience patience without experiencing joy.
  • "Joy is the antithesis of sorrow. Its remedy."
  • Remedies: Take a bath, go to sleep, drink some wine, talk to a friend ... and at the top of the list is contemplation of God.
  • Contemplation for Aquinas: prayer, chanting psalms, drawing one's mind to the presence of God.
  • Experientia Dei—taste and see
  • "This is scandalous to most virtue theorists ... but you can't have patience, or at least not much of it, without contemplation."
  • "Moderating sorrow is not to suppress it or develop an affected callousness or disenchanted, jaded relation to the things one really loves."
  • "Patience never means ignoring or turning away from the thing that's genuinely sorrowful."
  • Diminishment of sorrow by nesting it among the many other goods.
  • Modulate one's understanding of the thing that's sorrowful.
  • The sorrow of losing a child
  • You can only write about it from inside of it.
  • What is it? "Beneath the agitation, some kind of low grade anger, is there some sorrow? What has been lost? What have I been wanting that is not here? What's beneath the anger? What is it?"
  • What scripture anchors you? "Find that scripture that anchors you in patience, and let it become yours. Let God speak to you through it.

Part 5 Show Notes: Sarah Schnitker

  • This episode was made possible in part by a grant from Blueprint 1543.
  • Why study patience from a psychological perspective?
  • Patience as notably absent
  • Can we suffer well? Can we wait well?
  • David Baily Harned: Has patience gone out of style since the industrial revolution (Patience: How We Wait Upon the World)
  • Waiting as a form of suffering
  • Daily hassles patience, interpersonal patience, and life hardships patience
  • Measuring patience is easier than measuring love, joy, or gratitude, because it isn’t as socially valued in contemporary life
  • How virtue channels toward different goals
  • Patience can help you achieve your goals by helping you regulate emotion, allowing you to stay calm, making decisions, persist through difficulties
  • Patience and the pursuit of justice
  • Patience and assertiveness
  • “If you’re a doormat, it’s not because you are patient, it’s because you lack assertiveness."
  • Aristotelian "Golden Mean” thinking: neither recklessly pushing through or giving up and disengaging. Patience allows you to pursue the goal in an emotionally stable way
  • Unity of the virtues: “We need a constellation of virtues for a person to really flourish in this world."
  • Golden Mean, excess, deficiency, too much and too little
  • Acedia and Me, Kathleen Norris on a forgotten vice
  • Acedia in relationship: “Even in the pandemic… monotony…"
  • The overlapping symptoms of acedia and depression
  • Patience is negatively correlated with depression symptoms; people with more life-hardships patience is a strength that helps people cope with some types of depression
  • Patience and gratitude buffer against ultimate struggles with existential meaning and suicide risk
  • How do you become more patient?
  • “It requires patience to become more patient."
  • Three Step Process for becoming more patient: Identify, Imagine, and Sync
  • Step 1: Identify your emotional state. Patience is not suppression; it begins with attention and noticing—identifying what’s going on.
  • Step 2: Cognitive reappraisal: one of the most effective ways to regulate our emotions. Think about your own emotions from another person’s perspective, or in light of the bigger picture. Take each particular situation and reappraise it.
  • Find benefits. Turn a curse into a blessing. Find opportunities.
  • Step 3: Sync with your purpose. Create a narrative that supports the meaning of suffering. For many this is religious faith
  • Reappraising cognitive reappraisal: How convinced do you have to be? You’d have to find something with “epistemic teeth”—is this something you can rationally endorse and know, and can you feel it?
  • Combining patience and gratitude practices, allowing for multiple emotions at once, and reimagining and reappraising one's life within your understanding of purpose and meaning.
  • Provide psychological distance to attenuate emotional response.
  • The existential relevance of faith for patience; theological background of patience
  • Patience and a life worth living
  • Love, the unity of the virtues, and "the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Peter 3)

Part 6 Show Notes: Tish Harrison Warren

  • "Part of becoming more patient is noticing how impatient you are. ... It's so not-linear."
  • Kids will slow you down and expose your impatience
  • Patience often looks like other things—"it looks like contentment, it looks like trust, it looks like endurance."
  • Patience and humility: "We are not the President of the United States. Things can go on without us."
  • "Our entire life is lived in a posture of waiting."
  • Waiting for the eschaton, the return of Christ, and things set right
  • The illusion of control—James 4:13-14
  • Has Urs Von Balthasar: "God intended man to have all good, but in his, God's, time and therefore all disobedience, all sin consists essentially in breaking out of time. Hence the restoration of order by the Son of God had to be the annulment of that premature snatching at knowledge, the beating down of the hand, outstretched toward eternity, the repentant return from a false, swift transfer of eternity to a true, slow confinement in time. Hence the importance of patience in the New Testament, which becomes the basic constituent of Christianity. More central, even the humility, the power to wait, to persevere, to hold out, to endure to the end, not to transcend one's own limitations, not to force issues by playing the hero or the titan, but to practice the virtue that lies beyond heroism: the meekness of the Lamb which is led."
  • "We are creatures in time."
  • Robert Wilken: "singular mark of patience is hope"
  • Activism and patience together
  • "Patience can get a bad rap, that Christians are just wanting to become bovine."
  • Patience but not quietism, a long wait but not gradualism
  • The ultimate need to discern the moment
  • Clarence Jordan and Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The practices of discernment for individuals and communities
  • Social media trains us to be impatient
  • The meaning of urgent change is changing
  • Internet advocacy and a connected world makes us less patient people
  • "It takes real work to slow down and listen to another person's perspective, especially if you disagree with them."
  • We often don't have the patience to even understand someone else.
  • Real conversations with real people
  • Silence, solitude
  • "Having a body requires an enormous amount of patience."
  • "My kids are so slow. They're the one's teaching me to be patient!"
  • Little hardships of boredom and discomfort
  • "Life with a body and life with real people inevitably involves patience."
  • "Patience is something we learn our way out of through privilege and through being, you know, important adults."
Sep 04, 2021
Adam Eitel / Taste and See / Patience Bonus
00:09:45

"It's just that I know it's real. The Lord is ever present in trouble. And you can know, and be known, and love, and be loved by God. And that's different than thinking about God." Ethicist Adam Eitel on the tasting and seeing of Psalm 34, Thomas Aquinas's interpretation of that psalm, and the foundation of experience for theological reflection.

Bonus episode from our 6-part podcast series on patience.

Show Notes

  • "When the Psalmist says "taste and see how sweet," he's urging us toward an experience. He's exhorting us to experience dwelling together with God.
  • Psalm 34
  • Thomas Aquinas on Psalm 34
  • Finding delight in and encouragement from Psalm 34 and the feeling intellect of Thomas Aquinas
  • Thomas Aquinas as lumbering saint living between his ears, or tasting and seeing the sweetness of God
  • "Living between your ears"
  • "It's just that I know it's real. The Lord is ever present in trouble. And you can know, and be known, and love, and be loved by God. And that's different than thinking about God."
  • Becoming a theologian can wreck your soul, when faith is merely cerebral.
  • Coming soon on For the Life of the World: philosopher Charles Taylor on October 2, 2021.

About Adam Eitel

Adam Eitel is Assistant Professor of Ethics at Yale Divinity School. He focuses his research and teaching on the history of Christian moral thought, contemporary social ethics and criticism, and modern religious thought. Dr. Eitel has roughly a dozen books, chapters, edited volumes, and articles published or in progress. These include an ethical analysis of drone strikes and a theological account of domination. His current book project explores the role of love in the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas. A 2004 Baylor University graduate and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Fribourg, Dr. Eitel received his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, completing the latter in 2015.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Adam Eitel and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Sep 02, 2021
Tish Harrison Warren / Control, Creatureliness, and the Practice of Patience / Patience Part 6
00:41:18

"We are creatures in time."

Today, the Reverend Tish Harrison Warren explores patience as spiritual formation. She’s an Anglican priest and author of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, which was Christianity Today's 2018 Book of the Year, and Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work, or Watch, or Weep. She recently started a weekly newsletter on faith in private and public life for The New York Times.

She reflects on the human demand for control in both ordinary and extraordinary life events, from the line at the supermarket to the cancer ward; the recognition of human vulnerability and just hating the fact that we can’t control what happens next; the temptation to break out of time; and the difficult balance between the urgent need for justice and the acceptance of our human and societal limits. The entire conversation is illuminated by the beauty of what Hans Urs Von Balthasar calls “the meekness of the Lamb which is led.”

Part 6 of a 6-episode series on Patience, hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

About Tish Harrison Warren

Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America. She is the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, which was Christianity Today's 2018 Book of the Year, and Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work, or Watch, or Weep. She has worked in ministry settings for over a decade as a campus minister with InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries, as an associate rector, and with addicts and those in poverty through various churches and non-profit organizations. Currently, she is Writer in Residence at Resurrection South Austin. She is a monthly columnist with Christianity Today, and her articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Religion News Service, Christianity Today, Comment Magazine, The Point Magazine, and elsewhere. She is a founding member of The Pelican Project and a Senior Fellow with the Trinity Forum. She lives with her husband and three children in the Austin, Texas area.

Show Notes

  • "Part of becoming more patient is noticing how impatient you are. ... It's so not-linear."
  • Kids will slow you down and expose your impatience
  • Patience often looks like other things—"it looks like contentment, it looks like trust, it looks like endurance."
  • Patience and humility: "We are not the President of the United States. Things can go on without us."
  • "Our entire life is lived in a posture of waiting."
  • Waiting for the eschaton, the return of Christ, and things set right
  • The illusion of control—James 4:13-14
  • Has Urs Von Balthasar: "God intended man to have all good, but in his, God's, time and therefore all disobedience, all sin consists essentially in breaking out of time. Hence the restoration of order by the Son of God had to be the annulment of that premature snatching at knowledge, the beating down of the hand, outstretched toward eternity, the repentant return from a false, swift transfer of eternity to a true, slow confinement in time. Hence the importance of patience in the New Testament, which becomes the basic constituent of Christianity. More central, even the humility, the power to wait, to persevere, to hold out, to endure to the end, not to transcend one's own limitations, not to force issues by playing the hero or the titan, but to practice the virtue that lies beyond heroism: the meekness of the Lamb which is led."
  • "We are creatures in time."
  • Robert Wilken: "singular mark of patience is hope"
  • Activism and patience together
  • "Patience can get a bad rap, that Christians are just wanting to become bovine."
  • Patience but not quietism, a long wait but not gradualism
  • The ultimate need to discern the moment
  • Clarence Jordan and Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The practices of discernment for individuals and communities
  • Social media trains us to be impatient
  • The meaning of urgent change is changing
  • Internet advocacy and a connected world makes us less patient people
  • "It takes real work to slow down and listen to another person's perspective, especially if you disagree with them."
  • We often don't have the patience to even understand someone else.
  • Real conversations with real people
  • Silence, solitude
  • "Having a body requires an enormous amount of patience."
  • "My kids are so slow. They're the one's teaching me to be patient!"
  • Little hardships of boredom and discomfort
  • "Life with a body and life with real people inevitably involves patience."
  • "Patience is something we learn our way out of through privilege and through being, you know, important adults."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured priest and author the Reverend Tish Harrison Warren and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Aug 28, 2021
Sarah Schnitker / The Psychology of Patience / Patience Part 5
00:47:16

What is the place of patience in a life worth living? Evidence from psychology suggests that it plays an important role in managing life's stresses, contributing to a greater sense of well-being, and is even negatively correlated with depression and suicide risk. Psychologist Sarah Schnitker (Baylor University) explains her research on patience, how psychological methodology integrates with theology and philosophy to define and measure the virtue, and offers an evidence-based intervention for becoming more patient. She also discusses the connection between patience and gratitude, the role of patience in a meaningful life, and how acedia, a forgotten vice to modern people, lurks in the shadows when we are deficient in patience.

Part 5 of a 6-episode series on Patience, hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Show Notes

  • This episode was made possible in part by a grant from Blueprint 1543.
  • Why study patience from a psychological perspective?
  • Patience as notably absent
  • Can we suffer well? Can we wait well?
  • David Baily Harned: Has patience gone out of style since the industrial revolution (Patience: How We Wait Upon the World)
  • Waiting as a form of suffering
  • Daily hassles patience, interpersonal patience, and life hardships patience
  • Measuring patience is easier than measuring love, joy, or gratitude, because it isn’t as socially valued in contemporary life
  • How virtue channels toward different goals
  • Patience can help you achieve your goals by helping you regulate emotion, allowing you to stay calm, making decisions, persist through difficulties
  • Patience and the pursuit of justice
  • Patience and assertiveness
  • “If you’re a doormat, it’s not because you are patient, it’s because you lack assertiveness."
  • Aristotelian "Golden Mean” thinking: neither recklessly pushing through or giving up and disengaging. Patience allows you to pursue the goal in an emotionally stable way
  • Unity of the virtues: “We need a constellation of virtues for a person to really flourish in this world."
  • Golden Mean, excess, deficiency, too much and too little
  • Acedia and Me, Kathleen Norris on a forgotten vice
  • Acedia in relationship: “Even in the pandemic… monotony…"
  • The overlapping symptoms of acedia and depression
  • Patience is negatively correlated with depression symptoms; people with more life-hardships patience is a strength that helps people cope with some types of depression
  • Patience and gratitude buffer against ultimate struggles with existential meaning and suicide risk
  • How do you become more patient? 
  • “It requires patience to become more patient."
  • Three Step Process for becoming more patient: Identify, Imagine, and Sync
  • Step 1: Identify your emotional state. Patience is not suppression; it begins with attention and noticing—identifying what’s going on.
  • Step 2: Cognitive reappraisal: one of the most effective ways to regulate our emotions. Think about your own emotions from another person’s perspective, or in light of the bigger picture. Take each particular situation and reappraise it. 
  • Find benefits. Turn a curse into a blessing. Find opportunities.
  • Step 3: Sync with your purpose. Create a narrative that supports the meaning of suffering. For many this is religious faith
  • Reappraising cognitive reappraisal: How convinced do you have to be? You’d have to find something with “epistemic teeth”—is this something you can rationally endorse and know, and can you feel it? 
  • Combining patience and gratitude practices, allowing for multiple emotions at once, and reimagining and reappraising one's life within your understanding of purpose and meaning.
  • Provide psychological distance to attenuate emotional response.
  • The existential relevance of faith for patience; theological background of patience
  • Patience and a life worth living
  • Love, the unity of the virtues, and "the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Peter 3)

About Sarah Schnitker

Sarah Schnitker is Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University. She holds a PhD and an MA in Personality and Social Psychology from the University of California, Davis, and a BA in Psychology from Grove City College. Schnitker studies virtue and character development in adolescents and emerging adults, with a focus on the role of spirituality and religion in virtue formation. She specializes in the study of patience, self-control, gratitude, generosity, and thrift. Schnitker has procured more than $3.5 million in funding as a principle investigator on multiple research grants, and she has published in a variety of scientific journals and edited volumes. Schnitker is a Member-at-Large for APA Division 36 – Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, is a Consulting Editor for the organization’s flagship journal, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, and is the recipient of the Virginia Sexton American Psychological Association’s Division 36 Mentoring Award. Follow her on Twitter @DrSchnitker.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured psychologist Sarah Schnitker and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Aug 21, 2021
Adam Eitel / Constraining Sorrow, Contemplating Joy / Patience Part 4
00:30:41

"So here's a fact of human life. We have sorrow and, in many ways, That's neither here nor there, neither good nor bad, but we know intuitively that there are ways in which our sorrow can become excessive or misplaced.What the virtue of patience does is it moderates sorrow or constrains it, so it doesn't go beyond its proper limit. When we become too absorbed in trouble and woe, a lot of other things start to go wrong and that's why someone like Gregory the Great called patience the guardian of the virtues, because sorrow, if it's not checked, can easily devolve into anger, hatred, and fear. ... What it means to moderate sorrow isn't to suppress it, or to develop some kind of affected callousness or disenchanted, jaded relation to the things that one actually really loves."

"You'll discover really quickly that you can't think about patience—you can't experience patience—without thinking about and experiencing joy.  Joy is the antithesis of sorrow—its remedy."

Though it's tempting to think patience is a correction for hurry, busyness, scarcity of time, and haste, it's ultimately about managing your sorrow. Adam Eitel is an ethicist at Yale Divinity School who specializes in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. In this episode, he reflects on the human side of the virtue of patience and its place in the moral life—examining how it moderates our passions and responses to sorrow, finding surprising connections between patience, joy, and contemplation, and opening up toward an experiential theology that must comment on patience only from inside the struggle to receive it.

Part 4 of a 6-episode series on Patience, hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Show Notes

  • The context for Thomas Aquinas and his friars
  • "The friars are on the verge of being canceled."
  • What is a virtue? "To have them is to have a kind of excellence and to be able to do excellent things."
  • Where does patience fit in the virtues?
  • Matter and Object
  • The matter of a virtue is the thing it's about, and the matter of patience is sorrow.
  • Sorrow can have right or wrong objects and can be excessive or deficient.
  • Sorrow is elicited by evil, that is, the diminishment of good.
  • Patience is a moderating virtue for the passions, similar to courage.
  • Patience is connected to fortitude or courage in moderating our response to "the saddest things."
  • "Patience moderates or constrains sorrow, so that it doesn't go beyond its proper limit. When we become too absorbed in trouble or woe, alot of other things start to go wrong. That's what Gregory the Great called patience the guardian of the virtues. .... deteriorate." (or to ... guardian of the virtues in that sense.")
  • What does it feel like to be patient on this account?
  • You can't experience patience without experiencing joy.
  • "Joy is the antithesis of sorrow. Its remedy."
  • Remedies: Take a bath, go to sleep, drink some wine, talk to a friend ... and at the top of the list is contemplation of God.
  • Contemplation for Aquinas: prayer, chanting psalms, drawing one's mind to the presence of God.
  • Experientia Dei—taste and see
  • "This is scandalous to most virtue theorists ... but you can't have patience, or at least not much of it, without contemplation."
  • "Moderating sorrow is not to suppress it or develop an affected callousness or disenchanted, jaded relation to the things one really loves."
  • "Patience never means ignoring or turning away from the thing that's genuinely sorrowful."
  • Diminishment of sorrow by nesting it among the many other goods.
  • Modulate one's understanding of the thing that's sorrowful.
  • The sorrow of losing a child
  • You can only write about it from inside of it.
  • What is it? "Beneath the agitation, some kind of low grade anger, is there some sorrow? What has been lost? What have I been wanting that is not here? What's beneath the anger? What is it?"
  • What scripture anchors you? "Find that scripture that anchors you in patience, and let it become yours. Let God speak to you through it.

About Adam Eitel

Adam Eitel is Assistant Professor of Ethics at Yale Divinity School. He focuses his research and teaching on the history of Christian moral thought, contemporary social ethics and criticism, and modern religious thought. Dr. Eitel has roughly a dozen books, chapters, edited volumes, and articles published or in progress. These include an ethical analysis of drone strikes and a theological account of domination. His current book project explores the role of love in the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas. A 2004 Baylor University graduate and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Fribourg, Dr. Eitel received his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, completing the latter in 2015.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Adam Eitel and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

 

Aug 14, 2021
Paul Dafydd Jones / God's Patience, Human Action, and Complex Faith / Patience Part 3
00:39:37

"God's patience empowers us to act. ... Human beings are called to respond to God's patience. Human beings are called to make good on God's patience. The covenant of grace, which is fulfilled in Christ and which is animated by the spirit, makes that a possibility. It's not an easy possibility of real life. I mean, not just because of sin and finitude, but because of the complexities of the world that we live in. But learning how to respond to God's patience, both through forms of waiting, through forms of activity, and sometimes through moments of intemperate resistance is I think at the heart of Christian life."

Theologian Paul Dafydd Jones comments on the bearing of God's patience on human experience and action. The patience of Christ-incarnate means that Christ is patience-incarnate. This makes it possible to "live otherwise"—contesting the reign of sin and resisting evil by responding to God's patience. Jones emphasizes the togetherness and solidarity of God with creation. And suggests the importance of appreciating the complexity of Christian faith.

Part 3 of a 6-episode series on Patience, hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

About Paul Dafydd Jones

Paul Dafydd Jones is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the Co-Director of The Project on Religion and its Publics at the University of Virginia. He is a theologian specializing in Karl Barth, Christology, political theology, and religion in public life; and is author of the forthcoming research project: Patience: A Theological Exploration

Show Notes

  • God's patience
  • Apostle Peter: “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you.” (2 Peter 3)
  • Patience series recap
  • Episode summary
  • Tertullian and Cyprian
  • "You need to think about who God is, and what God is doing before you think about who human beings are, and what we're called to become."
  • Augustine: "God is patient, without any passion."
  • Patience: Creation, providence, incarnation, Trinity
  • Creatures are given time and space to "reward God's patience"
  • This is not God getting out of the way; it's non-competitive between God and world.
  • Colin Gunton: for the problem of evil, God's patience is a good place to start.
  • "God's patience occurs at a pace that is rarely congenial to us ... the world's history is not unfolding at the pace or the shape we would like."
  • "God gives ancient Israel the time and space to accuse.  God is patient with expressions of trauma, expressions of guilt, expressions of deep anguish. And God is so patient with them that they get included in the Canon."
  • "Some of the most powerful, skeptical, doubtful, angry moments, are found in the psalms."
  • "God patiently beholds the suffering of God's creatures, particularly with respect to ancient Israel, that somehow the traumas of creaturely life are present to God, and God in some sense has to bear or endure them."
  • Beholding Suffering vs Enduring Suffering
  • God's responsibility for the entirety of the cosmos: "There's no getting God off the hook for things that happen in God's universe."
  • And yet God doesn't approve of everything that occurs.
  • Confident expectancy: "Moving to meet the kingdom that is coming towards us."
  • "God's patience empowers us to act."
  • The patience of God incarnate; Christ is patience incarnate
  • "Israel is waiting for a Messiah."
  • We cannot understand Christ as savior of the world without understanding him as Messiah of ancient Israel.
  • God's solidarity with us
  • "The pursuit of salvation runs through togetherness with creation in the deepest possible sense."
  • Letting Be vs Letting Happen
  • "Jesus has to negotiate the quotidian."
  • Crucifixion as the one moment of divine impatience with sin
  • Theology of the cross as an imperative
  • "Christians often are not comfortable with complexity. We want to think in terms of assurance. And we want that assurance to be comforting in a fairly quick-fire away. I think theologians have the task of exposing that as an ersatz hope and insisting that faith includes complexity. It involves lingering over ambiguity. Trying to fit together. multi-dimensional beliefs that are this lattice work—none of which can be reduced to a pithy, marketing quip."
  • "Theologians need to be patient in order to honor the complexity of Christian faith. ... That's called intellectual responsibility."
  • "Christianity is not going to cease to be weaponized by snake-oil salespeople." 
  • Staying with complexity and ambiguity
  • "The capacity to tell the truth is in short supply."
  • "Human beings are called to respond to God's patience. Human beings are called to make good on God's patience. The covenant of grace, which is fulfilled in Christ and which is animated by the spirit, makes that a possibility. It's not an easy possibility of real life. I mean, not just because of sin and finitude, but because of the complexities of the world that we live in. But learning how to respond to God's patience, both through forms of waiting, through forms of activity, and sometimes through moments of intemperate resistance is I think at the heart of Christian life."
  • "People should not get in the way of human flourishing ... brought about by the empowering patience of the Holy Spirit. ... That's a gospel moment. That's a kairos moment."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Paul Dafydd Jones and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Aug 07, 2021
Kathryn Tanner / Money, Markets, and the Economy of Grace / Patience Part 2
00:29:09

What does patience have to do with money? It's much more than timing the market just right. The economic factors of our market economy hold great sway over our relationship to the past, present, and future. Theologian Kathryn Tanner reflects on the ways finance-dominated capitalism controls our experience of time, and offers insights for a Christian approach to living in the present, informed by an economy of abundant grace. Part 2 of a 6-episode series on Patience hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Show Notes

  • Listen to Patience Part 1 on Time, Acceleration, and Waiting, with Andrew Root (July 24, 2021)
  • What does patience have to do with money?
  • Is time money?
  • What is finance dominated capitalism?
  • Viewing economy and our relationship to time through past, present, and future
  • "Chained to the past”—debt is no longer designed to be paid off, and you can’t escape it
  • “Urgent focus on the present”—emergencies, preoccupation, short-term outlook, and anxiety
  • Workplace studies
  • Poverty, Emergency, and a Lack of Resources (Time or Money)
  • Lack of time and resources makes you fixated on the present
  • A Christian sense of the urgency of the present
  • Sufficient supply of God's grace
  • The right way to focus on the present
  • "Consideration of the present for all intents and purposes collapses into concern about the future."
  • The future is already embedded and encased in the present value of things.
  • Stock market and collapsing the present into future expectations
  • Pulling the future into the present
  • Gamestop and making the future present, and the present future
  • Patience and "elongating the present"
  • Fulsomeness, amplitude, expansiveness of God’s grace 
  • Race, savings, and dire circumstances
  • Patience as a means to elongating the present
  • Stability, volatility, and waiting
  • “There’s no profit in waiting."
  • God's steadfast love and commitment
  • Kierkegaard's Works of Love
  • Augustine’s unstable volatile world and the implication of investing only in God's love and stability
  • "Something has to hold firm in order for you to take risks."

About Kathryn Tanner

Theologian Kathryn Tanner is the Frederick Marquand Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School. Her research relates the history of Christian thought to contemporary issues of theological concern using social, cultural, and feminist theory. She is the author of God and Creation in Christian Theology: Tyranny or Empowerment? ; The Politics of God: Christian Theologies and Social Justice ; Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology ; Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology ; Economy of Grace ; Christ the Key; and most recently Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Kathryn Tanner and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jul 31, 2021
Andrew Root / Time, Acceleration, and Waiting / Patience Part 1
00:36:17

Modern life presents a crisis of time, bringing the value of patience into question. Andrew Root joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to provide some context for our modern patience predicament. As a professor of youth ministry at Luther Seminary, he has years of both experience and careful thinking about what it means for kids, families, churches, and communities to flourish in an impatient world, cultivating the mindset, the virtues, and the community we need to wait well. Part 1 of a 6-episode series on Patience hosted by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Show Notes

  • Doubling down and the temptation to make up for lost time
  • Hartmut Rosa and Modernity as Acceleration
  • Acceleration across three categories: technology, social change, and pace of life
  • "Decay rate” is accelerating—we can sense that things get old and obsolete much faster (e.g., phones, computers)
  • Riding the wave of accelerated social change
  • "We’ve become enamored with gadgets and time-saving technologies."
  • “Getting more actions within units of time"
  • Multi-tasking
  • Expectations and waiting as an attack on the self
  • "Waiting feels like a moral failure."
  • Give yourself a break; people are under a huge amount of guilt that they’re not using their time or curating the self they could have.
  • "You’re screwing up my flow here, man."
  • When I’m feeling the acceleration of time: “Get the bleep out of my way. My humanity is worn down through the acceleration."
  • Busyness as an indicator of a good life
  • “To say that I’m busy is to indicate that I’m in demand."
  • "Stripping time of its sacred weight."
  • Mid-life crises and the hollowness of time
  • Patience is not just "go slower”
  • Eric Fromm's "having mode" vs "being mode" of action
  • Waiting doesn’t become the absence of something
  • Pixar’s Soul, rushing to find purpose, failing to see the gift of connectedness to others
  • Not all resonance is good (e.g., the raging resonance of Capitol rioters)
  • How would the church offer truly good opportunities for resonance
  • Bonhoeffer and the community of resonant reality
  • Luther's theology of the cross—being with and being for—sharing in the moment
  • Receiving the act of being with and being for
  • Instrumentalization vs resonance
  • Bearing with one another in weakness, pain, and suffering
  • Encountering each other by putting down accelerated goals to be with and for the other
  • Flow or resonance in one’s relationship to time
  • Artists, mystics, and a correlation with psychological flow

About Andrew Root

Andrew Root is the Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He teaches classes on youth ministry, young adults, family, church, and culture; he has lately been writing about issues surrounding the intersection of faith and science, including a project called Science for Youth Ministry. He is author of several books, including The End of Youth Ministry?, The Congregation in a Secular Age, The Pastor in a Secular Age, and Faith Formation in a Secular Age.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Andrew Root and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jul 24, 2021
Life Riffs: Improvisation in Poetry, Theology, and Flourishing / Micheal O'Siadhail & David Ford
00:48:56

"Be with me, Madam Jazz, I urge you now, / Riff in me so I can conjure how / You breathe in us more than we dare allow." (Micheal O'Siadhail, The Five Quintets)

Irish poet Micheal O'Siadhail and theologian David Ford discuss the improvisational jazz that emerges in the interplay of poetry and theology, riffing on life and love, the meaning of covenant, retrieving wisdom from history, and imagining a future by letting go in communion with Madam Jazz. Interview by Drew Collins.

About Micheal O'Siadhail

Micheal O'Siadhail is a poet. His Collected Poems was published in 2013, One Crimson Thread in 2015 and The Five Quintets in 2018, which received Conference on Christianity and Literature Book of the Year 2018 and an Eric Hoffer Award in 2020. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Manitoba and Aberdeen. He lives in New York.

About David Ford

David F. Ford OBE is Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Selwyn College. He is a renowned theologian and leader in inter-faith relations and is author of Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love and the forthcomingThe Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary.

Show Notes

  • Book: The Five Quintets, Micheal O'Siadhail
  • Jazz, poetry, improvisation
  • Reading: Epigraph to The Five Quintets
  • Madam Jazz, Improvisation, syncopated peace, "Let there be"
  • Modernity, science, and history
  • Secular supersessionism
  • Deep conversation from your own tradition, with others
  • The formation of historical figures
  • Second sight and recovering history and wisdom from the past
  • "Some of things we thought we have surpassed, we need to retrieve."
  • History in service of the present and the future
  • Paul Ricoeur
  • 50 years of friendship
  • Reading: "Covenant"
  • One of the most important words of life: covenant
  • Unity across generations: family, friend, and institutional covenants
  • "Loving God for nothing"
  • Unity, trust, and interdependence, even across difference and pluralism
  • Culture of suspicion
  • Without trust you have nothing
  • Enora O'Neil on trust in the public sphere
  • Susan Highland: belief and trust in John's Gospel
  • O'Siadhail on "a life worth living"—decency and "bringing talents back"
  • Ford on "a life worth living"—delighting in God and each other
  • Taking roads not normally taken

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured poet Micheal O'Siadhail, theologian David Ford, and theologian Drew Collins
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jul 17, 2021
Are You Not Entertained?: Art, Attention, and Watching Culture / Alissa Wilkinson & Drew Collins
00:45:29

"The artist has the ability to direct the attention of the audience. If you agree to engage with their work, then they will show you something. And you agree to pay attention to that thing. And I think the act of attending to things is basically the act of love. And when I look at the life of Christ, he's forever drawing people's attention to things as lessons or just things they wouldn't have seen otherwise: a person they would have passed by, or a lesson from nature, or something that they would have missed. That discipline and virtue of attention flies directly in the face of everything that we experienced today."

What is the role of entertainment in human flourishing? Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson reflects on how her early life formed her critical and cultural sensibilities, the role of entertainment in a flourishing life, how biblical interpretation lends itself to the attentive task of the critic, the challenge of boredom and seeing entertainment as mere consumption, and how creating art and watching film well cultivates the virtues of attention and hospitality. Not to mention: The saddest song ever to score a film, why film is not a storytelling medium, how Jesus and Terrence Malick direct our attention, and much more. Interview by Drew Collins.

Show Notes

  • Attention economy (introduction by Evan Rosa)
  • About Alissa Wilkinson
  • Art and the shared experience of attention by artist and audience
  • Art and propaganda
  • How Alissa's upbringing cultivated her cultural sensibilities
  • Reading a text, understanding it and being able to reinterpret
  • How to watch vs. what to watch
  • Remaking our visual vocabulary
  • The communal, public nature of entertainment
  • The public nature of art
  • Catharsis and emotion as a public act
  • "Learning to perform my emotions..."
  • "The experience we have together"
  • Compare religious liturgy to public entertainment
  • Entertainment and the life of Jesus
  • Telling stories and singing songs
  • "Singing is such a useless thing."
  • The saddest song in the world: Max Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight"
  • The discipline and virtue of attention
  • Directing the attention of the audience
  • Terrence Malick helping viewers "see"
  • Film is not a storytelling medium; it's primarily visual. You can have no sound, no characters, but you can't have no video.
  • "Good artists are hospitable"
  • Young Adult Movie Ministry and the ministry of attention
  • Christian engagement with film
  • A.O. Scott and Hail, Caeser!
  • "A bad movie can instruct you as much as a good one. ... Every movie critic knows it's more fun to write about a bad movie"
  • Apocalyptic pop culture
  • The Daniel Option: The prophet Daniel as an exemplar of public engagement
  • Responsibility and authorship
  • Hand it over to the audience to making meaning together
  • The share-ability of art
  • We're all getting hit differently by the movies we see
  • Jean Luc Marion's Idols and Icons
  • Boredom and entertainment in a life worth living
  • Michael Chabon's reclaiming entertainment in "The Pleasure Principle" (LA Times)
  • C.S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism
  • Boredom
  • "A lot of what passes for criticism is just cultural amnesia."
  • The role of entertainment in a life worth living

About Alissa Wilkinson

Alissa Wilkinson is Vox's film critic; she also writes about culture more generally. She's been writing about film and culture since 2006, and her work has appeared at Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, The Atlantic, Books & Culture, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Paste, Pacific Standard, and others. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics, and was a 2017-18 Art of Nonfiction writing fellow with the Sundance Institute. Before joining Vox, she was the chief film critic at Christianity Today.

Alissa is also an associate professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City, where she's taught criticism, cinema studies, and cultural theory since 2009. Her book Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women is forthcoming from Broadleaf Books. She is also the co-author, with Robert Joustra, of How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World. Alissa regularly gives lectures around the world on film, pop culture, postmodernity, religion, and criticism. She holds an MA in humanities and social thought from New York University and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Seattle Pacific University.

Read Alissa's articles on Vox.com

Listen to Alissa's podcast Young Adult Movie Ministry
Production Notes

  • This podcast featured critic and journalist Alissa Wilkinson and theologian Drew Collins
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jul 10, 2021
Think Again: Changing Your Mind, Political-Religious Conversion, and the Emotional Life / Nichole Flores & Matt Croasmun
00:43:18

Is it possible for anyone to change their mind anymore? 

Matt Croasmun welcomes theologian and ethicist Nichole Flores (University of Virginia) onto the show for a discussion of changing our minds in political and religious contexts. They discuss the meaning of intellectual, political, and religious conversion; how aesthetic and emotional experience of beauty is often the key ingredient in changing one's mind and behavior; the value of open-mindedness and intellectual humility as well as the value of a firm sturdiness and courageous conviction; and the role of changing one's mind in a life worth living.

About Nichole Flores

Nichole Flores is a social ethicist who is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. She studies the constructive contributions of Catholic and Latinx theologies to notions of justice and aesthetics to the life of democracy. Her research in practical ethics addresses issues of democracy, migration, family, gender, economics (labor and consumption), race and ethnicity, and ecology. Visit NicholeMFlores.com for more information.

Show Notes

  • Recovery mode from 2020 general election
  • 538 Podcast and Nate Silver as original demographic determinist
  • Is it possible for us to change our minds?
  • "I'm a Christian and I believe that conversion is possible."
  • "I live in the world as if it were possible to change one's mind."
  • Political conversion and mind-changing
  • Changing one's mind can be the result of a conversion
  • Political conversion focuses as much on a profound experience
  • Anecdote: A Catholic student who voted for Donald Trump because of abortion
  • Registering for a political party is a little like getting married...
  • "Catholics like to think of ourselves as politically homeless... maybe political misfits is the better category."
  • A political party should not be a place of comfort.
  • Charles Taylor, hypergoods, and the impossibility of reasoning oneself into a "firmer grip"
  • Changing your mind about American Football: "Young men shortening their lives for my entertainment."
  • "I remember when I quit football ... I knew the shift happened when I turned on a game and I felt sick ... This shift was on the affective level."
  • Treating students like "brains on a stick" or "free floating rationalities"
  • How does the importance of affective emotional role in conversion shape an approach to teaching?
  • "Learning is a version of changing your mind."
  • Community of the beautiful: gathering around a shared aesthetic experience
  • Social-political commitments that can change theological commitments
  • Mutual encounter with the world and the other
  • "The church is the light of the world. The church is bringing joy and hope to our society. But also the church is being chastened by what we encounter in society. And we are seeing where we can more fully image the body of Christ."
  • The open-mindedness of an annoyingly sturdy Christian. "I want to get that knowing eye-roll."
  • The value of intellectual humility
  • What is the role of changing one's mind in seeking a life worthy of our humanity.
  • Compromise: Negative or Positive
  • "The unassailable value of human life created in the image of God: That's a value worth fighting for, worth holding onto."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Matt Croasmun and Nichole Flores
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jul 03, 2021
Juneteenth: Looking Back to Step Forward / Charles B. Copher and Anne Streaty Wimberly
00:21:57

In celebration of Juneteenth, Jamal-Dominique Hopkins and Angela Gorrell offer appreciation Old Testament scholar Charles B. Copher and Christian Educator Anne Streaty Wimberly. 

About Charles B. Copher

Charles Buchanan Copher (1913-2003), a United Methodist minister and Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Scholar, held an illustrative academic career at his alma mater, Gammon Theological Seminary, which later became part of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) consortium. A respected educator and beloved by his students, he was Professor for Biblical Studies and Languages from 1958-1978.  Following his death in 2003, ITC honored his life work by creating the Charles B. Copher Annual Faculty Lectures. He was author of Black Biblical Studies: Biblical and Theological Issues on the Black Presence in the Bible.

About Anne Streaty Wimberly

Anne E. Streaty Wimberly, Professor Emerita of Christian Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), is a renowned African American researcher, scholar, professor, advocate, and champion of black youth. A leading Christian educator rooted in the United Methodist Church, she has inspired students, colleagues, pastors, church leaders, and countless admirers to pursue education with a “zest to know.” For Wimberly, education centers on the big questions of life’s meaning and purpose, and she has enthusiastically pursued these questions throughout her spiritual and educational journey in light of her embrace of the generating theme of hope. While her teaching and scholarship encompass a wide range of ministerial and educational themes, she is most passionate about youth and family ministry in the black church. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy at ITC and founder and coordinator of the Annual Youth and Family Convocation. Her passion for learning has undergirded her educational ministry and life-long vocation.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured biblical scholar Jamal-Dominique Hopkins and theologian Angela Gorrell
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jun 19, 2021
Collapse and Rebuild: How Spirituality Informs Social Action in Hong Kong / Kevin Lau & Andrew Kwok
00:50:17

"It's not just internal peace. It's internal healing. Healing of your memory."  (Kevin Lau)

After suffering a brutal knife attack that nearly killed him, journalist Kevin Lau, then editor-in-chief of Ming Pao, chose to forgive his two attackers. Since then, he has continued to support social participation through deep Christian spirituality. In this episode, he is joined by theologian Andrew Kwok of Hong Kong Baptist University. Together they reflect on the spirituality of social participation in a society that is experiencing censorship, political disagreement and disenfranchisement that leads to violence, increasing polarization, and tribalized media consumption curated only to confirm the views you already hold.

Interview by Evan Rosa.

Show Notes

About Kevin Lau

Kevin Lau Chun-to is the former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao, a moderate Chinese-language news outlet based in Hong Kong and known for its commitment to journalistic freedom and reporting integrity. In 2014 he was viciously attacked in a premeditated slashing for his work. The attack was an international news event that sparked protests and demonstration for freedom of the press. Since then, he has spoken widely about his forgiveness for his attackers and remains an advocate for freedom of the press and Christian spirituality of social participation in Hong Kong and beyond.

About Andrew Kwok

Wai Luen (Andrew) Kwok is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion & Philosophy in Hong Kong Baptist University. His research includes Chinese Christianity, public theology, and Christian doctrine and hermeneutics. He has written and taught about religious discourse, social participation, and identity construction of Hong Kong Protestant Christians from 1970 to 1997; as well as the concept of social justice in the periodicals of foreign religions in China 1911 to 1949. He is currently working on a reconciliation project between Christians occupying different ends of the political spectrum in Hong Kong.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured journalist Kevin Lau and theologian Andrew Kwok
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Jun 07, 2021
Gilded Wounds, Co-Mingled Tears: The Gratuity of God in Art and Faith / Makoto Fujimura & Miroslav Volf
00:41:30

"Jesus is the great kintsugi master." 

"Something that's broken is already more valuable than when it's whole." 

"The imagination creates, through the fractures, a river of gold, a mountain of gold." 

Makoto Fujimura joins Miroslav Volf to discuss Art & Faith: A Theology of Making. Fujimura is a painter who practices the Japanese art of nihonga, or slow art. His abstract expressionist pieces are composed of fine minerals he grinds himself and paints onto several dozens of layers, which take time and close attention both to make and to appreciate.

Mako and Miroslav discuss the theology and spirituality that inspires Mako's work, the creative act of God mirrored in the practice of art, the unique ways of seeing and being that artists offer the world, which is, in Mako's words "dangerously close to life and death." They reflect on the meaning of Christ's humanity and his wounds, the gratuity of God in both creation from nothing and the artistic response in the celebration of everything.

Show Notes

  • Makoto Fujimura's Art & Faith: A Theology of Making
  • Illuminated Bible by Makoto Fujimura
  • Mary, Martha, & Lazarus
  • Genesis Creation Narrative
  • Art follows in the footsteps of the creator
  • The reasons for God's creation
  • Why would an all-sufficient God create anything?
  • God as "a grand artist with no ego and no need to create."
  • Communicating about art and theology outside the boundaries of the institutional church
  • Reconciliation between art and faith
  • God's gratuitous creation doesn't need a utilitarian purpose
  • Creating vs making
  • In artistic creation, something new does seem to emerge
  • "God is the only artist"
  • The scandal of God's incarnation: In becoming incarnate, God's utter independence is flipped to utter dependence.
  • Psalmist's cry to God
  • How art breaks the ordinary
  • The artist's way of seeing and being
  • Seeing as survival
  • Seeing with the eyes of your heart
  • "Artists stay dangerously close to death and life"
  • Getting beyond the rational way of seeing
  • Letting the senses become part of our prayer
  • William James on conversion: everything becomes new for the converted
  • Seeing with a new frame of beauty
  • Faith and the authenticity of seeing with the eyes of an artist
  • Emily Dickenson on the "tender pioneer" of Jesus
  • Hartmut Rosa on resonance—in modernity, the world becomes dead for us, and fails to speak with us, but we need a sense of resonance
  • Kandinsky and Rothko—artists' intuitive sense of resonance that has escaped the church in the wake of mid-century destruction
  • Mary's wedding nard oil and the gratuitous cost of art
  • The non-utilitarian nature of art
  • Using precious materials in art
  • Tear jars
  • Miroslav's mother regularly weeping and crying: "I wonder why God gave us tears? Only humans are the animals who cry."
  • Helmut Plessner's Laughing and Crying: Weeping as relinquishing self-possession and merging the self with the flesh (as opposed to reason/ratio or technique/techne)
  • N.T. Wright—the greatest miracle is that Jesus chose to stay human.
  • Jesus's remaining wounds
  • Co-mingling our tears with Christ's tears
  • Kintsugi and Japanese Slow Art
  • Accentuating the fracture
  • "The imagination creates, through the fractures, a river of gold, a mountain of gold."
  • This is the best example of new creation.
  • "What would happen to our scars? That's a question with no answer."
  • Through his wounds, our wounds would look different
  • Jesus is the great kintsugi master, leading a path of gold along the fractures of life
  • The permanence of scars
  • Is it possible to be in the good and be truly joyous?
  • "God is not the source of beauty. God is beauty."
  • Fundamental "new newness": So new that it evades understanding
  • Goodness, truth, and beauty
  • God loved the world so much, it wasn't enough to merely admire it—he had to join it.
  • What is a life worthy of our humanity?
  • Fujimura's practice of art as an attempt to answer that question.
  • "Our lives as the artwork of God, especially as a collaborative community in the Body of Christ."

About Makoto Fujimura

Makoto Fujimura is a leading contemporary artist whose process driven, refractive “slow art” has been described by David Brooks of New York Times as “a small rebellion against the quickening of time”. Robert Kushner, in the mid 90’s, written on Fujimura’s art in Art in America this way: “The idea of forging a new kind of art, about hope, healing, redemption, refuge, while maintaining visual sophistication and intellectual integrity is a growing movement, one which finds Makoto Fujimura’s work at the vanguard.”

Fujimura’s art has been featured widely in galleries and museums around the world, and is collected by notable collections including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, The Huntington Library as well as Tikotin Museum in Israel. His art is represented by Artrue International in Asia and has been exhibited at various venues including Dillon Gallery, Waterfall Mansion, Morpeth Contemporary,  Sato Museum in Tokyo, Tokyo University of Fine Arts Museum, Bentley Gallery in Phoenix, Gallery Exit and Oxford House at Taikoo Place in Hong Kong, Vienna’s Belvedere Museum, Shusaku Endo Museum in Nagasaki and Jundt Museum at Gonzaga University. He is one of the first artists to paint live on stage at New York City’s legendary Carnegie Hall as part of an ongoing collaboration with composer and percussionist, Susie Ibarra.  Their collaborative album "Walking on Water" is released by Innova Records. 

As well as being a leading contemporary painter, Fujimura is also an arts advocate, writer, and speaker who is recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. His book “Refractions” (NavPress) and “Culture Care” (IVPress) reflects many of his thesis on arts advocacy written during that time. His books have won numerous awards including the Aldersgate Prize for “Silence and Beauty” (IVPress). In 2014, the American Academy of Religion named Fujimura as its 2014 “Religion and the Arts” award recipient. This award is presented annually to professional artists who have made significant contributions to the relationship of art and religion, both for the academy and a broader public. Previous recipients of the award include Meredith Monk, Holland Cotter, Gary Snyder, Betye & Alison Saar and Bill Viola. Fujimura's highly anticipated book "Art+Faith: A Theology of Making" (Yale Press, with foreword by N.T. Wright, 2021) has been described by poet Christian Wiman as "a real tonic for our atomized time".

Fujimura founded the International Arts Movement in 1992, now IAMCultureCare, which over sees Fujimura Institute. In 2011 the Fujimura Institute was established and launched the Four Qu4rtets, a collaboration between Fujimura, painter Bruce Herman, Duke theologian/pianist Jeremy Begbie, and Yale composer Christopher Theofanidis, based on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. The exhibition has travelled to Baylor, Duke, and Yale Universities, Cambridge University, Hiroshima City University and other institutions around the globe.

Bucknell University honored him with the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2012.

Fujimura is a recipient of four Doctor of Arts Honorary Degrees; from Belhaven University in 2011, Biola University in 2012, Cairn University in 2014 and Roanoke College, in February 2015. His Commencement addresses has received notable attention, being selected by NPR as one of the “Best Commencement Addresses Ever”. His recent 2019 Commencement Address at Judson University, was called “Kintsugi Generation”, laying out his cultural vision for the next generation.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured artist Makoto Fujimura and theologian Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 30, 2021
How to Respond to Other Peoples' Pain: Silent Presence in the Wild Inexplicability of Evil and Grace / David Kelsey
00:43:29

How should we respond to the pain of others? We are too often quick to justify God's permitting horrendous evils, answering why, and talking too much. In this episode, theologian David Kelsey reflects on Human Anguish and God's Power, noticing the anomaly of evil and its wild and inexplicable grip on creatures, the constant temptation of such creatures to talk and explain evil in the face of others' pain, and finally the analogously wild and inexplicable nature of God's grace in his immediate, if silent, presence among human anguish. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

About David Kelsey

David Kelsey is Luther A. Weigle Professor Emeritus of Theology at Yale Divinity School. He is author of several works of theology, including Imagining Redemption, Eccentric Existence: A Theological Anthropology, and most recently Human Anguish and God's Power.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured David Kelsey & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited by Evan Rosa
  • Co-produced by Evan Rosa & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 22, 2021
Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right: Racial History, Reparations, and Belonging / Lisa Sharon Harper & Miroslav Volf
00:52:53

"I am because they were." Lisa Sharon Harper joins Miroslav Volf to discuss the significance of narrative history for understanding ourselves and our current cultural moment; the sequence of repeated injustices that have haunted America's past and directly impacted Black Americans for hundreds of years; the Christian nationalist temptation to hoard power; the necessary conditions for true repair, the role of reparations in the pursuit of racial justice, and the goodness of belonging.

About Lisa Sharon Harper

From Ferguson to New York, and from Germany to South Africa to Australia, Lisa Sharon Harper leads trainings that increase clergy and community leaders’ capacity to organize people of faith toward a just world. A prolific speaker, writer and activist, Ms. Harper is the founder and president of FreedomRoad.us, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by designing forums and experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment and common action.

Ms. Harper is the author of several books, including Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican…or Democrat (The New Press, 2008); Left Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Elevate, 2011); Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (Zondervan, 2014); and the critically acclaimed, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong can be Made Right (Waterbrook, a division of Penguin Random House, 2016). The Very Good Gospel, recognized as the “2016 Book of the Year” by Englewood Review of Books, explores God’s intent for the wholeness of all relationships in light of today’s headlines.

A columnist at Sojourners Magazine and an Auburn Theological Seminary Senior Fellow, Ms. Harper has appeared on TVOne, FoxNews Online, NPR, and Al Jazeera America. Her writing has been featured in CNN Belief Blog, The National Civic Review, Sojourners, The Huffington Post, Relevant Magazine, and Essence Magazine. She writes extensively on shalom and governance, immigration reform, health care reform, poverty, racial and gender justice, climate change, and transformational civic engagement.

Ms. Harper earned her Masters degree in Human Rights from Columbia University in New York City, and served as Sojourners Chief Church Engagement Officer. In this capacity, she fasted for 22 days as a core faster in 2013 with the immigration reform Fast for Families. She trained and catalyzed evangelicals in St. Louis and Baltimore to engage the 2014 push for justice in Ferguson and the 2015 healing process in Baltimore, and she educated faith leaders in South Africa to pull the levers of their new democracy toward racial equity and economic inclusion.

In 2015, The Huffington Post named Ms. Harper one of 50 powerful women religious leaders to celebrate on International Women’s Day. In 2019, The Religion Communicators Council named a two-part series within Ms. Harper’s monthly Freedom Road Podcast “Best Radio or Podcast Series of The Year”. The series focused on The Roots and Fruits of Immigrant Labor Exploitation in the US. And in 2020 Ms. Harper received The Bridge Award from The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation in recognition of her dedication to bridging divides and building the beloved community.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Lisa Sharon Harper and Miroslav Volf
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Special thanks to Lisa Sharon Harper and Katie Zimmerman at FreedomRoad.us
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 15, 2021
The Freedom of Forgiveness: Ancient Christian Wisdom on The Happiness Lab / Laurie Santos & Miroslav Volf
00:34:32

A conversation on the ancient wisdom of Christian forgiveness, between Yale psychologist Laurie Santos (host, The Happiness Lab) and Miroslav Volf. Recently appearing on The Happiness Lab, Miroslav and Laurie discuss his older brother's tragic death as a child and his family's response to forgive. Miroslav reflects on the formative impact of these events. He contrasts forgiveness as an obligation with forgiveness as a gift that frees one from captivity to the past and opens up possibilities for the future. Forgiveness, for him, is more than an event but a practice cultivated throughout life, offering a way of recognizing the sacred and holy in the other.

Reposted with permission from The Happiness Lab. Listen and subscribe at www.happinesslab.fm.

Show Notes

  • Introduction: Evan Rosa
  • "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
  • Subscribe to The Happiness Lab: https://www.happinesslab.fm/
  • The story of Miroslav Volf's family forgiving the soldier responsible for the death of his brother as a child
  • Forgiveness as transcending the rage and deep sorrow
  • "Forgive one another as you have been forgiven in Christ." (Ephesians 4:32)
  • The love of enemy as a fundamental Christian stance
  • How many times should I forgive: 70 x 7
  • A definition of forgiveness—dealing with resentment, or freeing one's life from the burden of injury.
  • Gift
  • "Unstick the deed from the doer. This is what forgiveness does."
  • Nietzsche against forgiveness, treating all injury as minor and ineffectual.
  • "Time does not run backwards."
  • In the gift of forgiveness, I relate to you as if you had not done that particular wrong.
  • Forgiveness as an arduous process; a release into new possibilities for the future.
  • "We are often held captive by the past."
  • Forgiveness reconfigures the relationship with have the other. We give the possibility (not the actuality) for a different future. Imagine and live into a joint future.
  • Forgiveness must be a voluntary act.
  • We shouldn't think of forgiveness as a burden, but as a gift.
  • Life becomes better when we can transcend the self.
  • Turning from injury and loss to a new life. "Forgiveness made it possible for her to invest herself into the good around her."
  • Release into the future
  • The Volf family's forgiveness of the soldier who was responsible for their son's death.
  • Practical steps to move toward forgiveness
  • Invoking the command to forgive
  • "Forgiveness isn't a one-time event. ... It's a messy process. It's in this messiness—in this gradual character of forgiveness—that we actually grow into forgiveness. And forgiveness ends up being not so much an act as it ends up being a a practice."
  • Prodigal Son governs the logic of Christianity
  • "People have a hard time forgiving themselves."
  • "To forgive myself, I somehow have to distinguish between who the core of myself is, and what I have done. I cannot have an account of the self that is simply the sum of what I have suffered and what I have committed. If I have that kind of account of the self, there's no way to delete that from the self, because that wrongdoing is integral to the self. ... In the Christian tradition—other traditions as well, to a significant degree—there's always been a sense that there is a core of the self that is loved by God, and that we ought to love in each other that is untouched by anything that person might or might not have done, or what that person has suffered."
  • "Would you love me if I turned into a donkey?"
  • Seeing the sacred in the other

About Laurie Santos

Dr. Laurie Santos is Professor of Psychology and Head of Silliman College at Yale University. Dr. Santos is an expert on human cognition and the cognitive biases that impede better choices. Her course, “Psychology and the Good Life,” teaches students what the science of psychology says about how to make wiser choices and live a life that’s happier and more fulfilling. The class is Yale’s most popular course in over 300 years and has been adapted into a free Coursera program that has been taken by over 3.3 million people to date. Dr. Santos has been featured in numerous news outlets including the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, NPR, GQ Magazine, Slate, CNN and O, The Oprah Magazine. Dr. Santos is a winner of numerous awards both for her science and teaching from institutions such as Yale and the American Psychological Association. She has been featured as one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” young minds and was named TIME's “Leading Campus Celebrity.” Her podcast, The Happiness Lab, launched in 2019 has over 35 million downloads.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Miroslav Volf and Laurie Santos
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Special thanks to Laurie Santos, Ryan Dilley, and Pushkin Media
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • Listen and subscribe to The Happiness Lab at www.happinesslab.fm
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 08, 2021
Beyond Invisible | American 한 (Han): An Artistic Response to Anti-Asian Violence / Sarah Shin & Shin Maeng
00:07:15

"The tears were always there. / You just didn’t recognize my face." Author, artist, and theologian Sarah Shin reads her poem "Beyond Invisible"—a response to the March 2021 Atlanta shootings that left six Asian women dead—a crescendo of increasing anti-Asian violence.

Sarah's poem and her husband Shin Maeng's accompanying illustration ask the pointed question, "Can you see me now?"—dealing with the recognition not just of grief over recent events, but the generational tears that have flowed unseen, unacknowledged, and unaddressed.

American 한 (Han)

Click here to view "American 한 (Han)," illustrated by Shin Maeng.

Beyond Invisible

by Sarah Shin

The tears were always there.
You just didn’t recognize my face.
Nor did you see behind the hunched back of the one doing your nails
The steel frame of a mother feeding her family with 14 hour work days.

Instead of seeing in our bodies and our face
The altar of the broken faithful awaiting resurrection
You make them instead into a graveyard for your sins.
But some habits just die hard, huh?

Inconvenient convenience it would be
To behold in a flattened story
The freedom-fighters who battled war, demagogues, oceans, and despair
And tore themselves from everything they knew to be home
The heartache of sacrificing family past to give family future a chance.

Anchors they have served to be as we strive to make this home
But cut into them and you’ve cut loose
Everything that told us to bear it
Everything that said hope was worth it
To swallow tears and keep our heads down.

No more now.

Our dams are broke and now they flood
All around you, all around me.

Do you see beyond just my face now?
Do you see beyond what you didn’t see in my eyes now?
Do you see me
Can you see me
Can you see me now?

To read more of Sarah's thoughts on the Atlanta shootings, read her piece, "Honoring the Lives of Women Who Refuse to Be Scrubbed Away" (MissioAlliance.org).

About Sarah Shin

Sarah Shin is author of Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey. She is currently studying at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Prior to that she served as Associate National Director of Evangelism for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She regularly trains leaders and speaks at the intersection of evangelism, ethnic reconciliation, justice, beauty, and technology.

About Shin Maeng

Shin Maeng is an artist and illustrator. Make sure to check the show notes to examine his illustration, "American 한 (Han)" which was a direct response to Sarah's poem, "Beyond Invisible." Follow him @ShinHappens on Instagram.

May 07, 2021
Active Mystic: How Wonder Unifies Justice and Spirituality / Sameer Yadav
00:48:04

Which is greater: action or contemplation? Which is more excellent and therefore more central and determinative in human flourishing? A life of action—focused outward in service of humanity and exterior, public, practiced love? Or a life of contemplation—focused inward in reflection and meditation and communion with God, a private, interior castle of wisdom?

You might be quick to point out that it's a false dilemma and of course we need both. But this is quite an old conundrum in both the history of philosophy and the history of Christianity and it continues to find expression in contemporary life as we struggle with the idea of personal morality and social justice.

The world today is as broken a place as ever; individual people are as broken as ever—and what will heal us? Meditation and mindfulness and prayer? Or doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly?

If the answer is in fact both, what unites the contemplative life with active life in your life?

Today on the show, Sameer Yadav joins us for a conversation on mysticism, activism, and wonder. He explains the history of thinking about these jointly necessary elements of human flourishing, understanding the terms in relation to spirituality and contemporary activism, and drawing together two thinkers from different cultures and times: the Cappadocian Father Gregory of Nyssa and the spiritual father of the American Civil Rights movement, Howard Thurman. They share fascinating perspectives on what it means to be human, the need for cooperative caretaking as a reflection of God's relation to the world, and an attentiveness to wonder as a hinge between the contemplative and active life, with lasting implications for everything from interpersonal relationships, to democracy, to ecological care.

About Sameer Yadav

Sameer Yadav is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Westmont College and specializes in systematic and philosophical theology, theology and race, and mysticism and religious experience. He is the author of The Problem of Perception and the Experience of God (Fortress Press, 2015), and has published in various journals including The Journal of Analytic Theology, Journal of Religion, Faith and Philosophy and Pro Ecclesia. Dr. Yadav has reading competency in biblical Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, French and German.  He is a member in American Academy of Religion, Society of Christian Philosophers, Society of Christian Ethics, and Society of Scriptural Reasoning.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Sameer Yadav
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
May 01, 2021
Have You Eaten Yet?: Hospitality, Solidarity, and the Great Banquet of Justice / David de Leon & Matt Croasmun
00:36:17

"Kumain ka na ba?”—Have you eaten yet? (Tagalog) This beautiful phrase of welcome and care and intimacy evokes and offers more than just the pleasure and nourishment of a meal. It calls out to the hunger, the thirst, and the need for love that we can greet in one another. David de Leon joins Matt Croasmun for a discussion of hospitality and solidarity and justice, applying the parable of the Great Banquet to cultures of inhospitality, and especially to the context of the increased targeting, discrimination, marginalization, and violence against the Asian American community over the past year. 

About David de Leon

David de Leon is a graduating Master of divinity candidate at Yale Divinity School, and is an incoming PhD student studying Systematic Theology at Fordham University. He’s a child of Pilipino immigrants and was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for the last 12 years has worked in college campus ministry, leading Pilipino American focused ministries, and working to mobilize Asian Americans to pursue racial justice.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured David de Leon and Matt Croasmun
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa & Matt Croasmun
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Apr 24, 2021
Passionate God, Crucified God, Joyful God / Jürgen Moltmann & Miroslav Volf
00:36:18

"Without living theologically, there can be no theology." (Jürgen Moltmann) 

Miroslav Volf interviews his mentor, German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, who reflects on the meaning of joy and its connection to anxiety, fear, wrath, hope, and love.

Moltmann tells his story of discovering (or, being discovered by) God as a 16-year-old drafted into World War II by the German Army, enduring the bombardment of his hometown of Hamburg, and being held for 3 years in a Scottish prison camp, where he read with new eyes the cry of dereliction from Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This cry would lay a foundation that led to his most influential book, The Crucified God. Moltmann explains the centrality of Christ, the human face of God, for not just his theological vision, but his personal faith—which is a lived theology.

Ryan McAnnally-Linz introduces the episode by celebrating Jürgen Moltmann's 95th birthday and reflecting on his lasting theological influence.

Show Notes

  • Happy 95th Birthday, Jürgen Moltmann!
  • Find the places of deepest human concern, and shine the light of the Gospel there.
  • “Without living theologically, there can be no theology."
  • Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Joy (1972)“How can I sing the Lord’s song in an alien land?"
  • Joy today: Singing the Lord’s song in the broad place of his presence
  • "Hope is anticipated joy, as anxiety is anticipated terror."
  • "How does one find the way to joy from within anxiety and terror?"
  • Seeing the face of God as an awakened hope
  • Jesus Christ as the human face of God: “Without Jesus Christ, I would not believe in God."
  • God is present in the midst of suffering
  • Discovering and being discovered by God
  • Moltmann’s story of being drafted to the Germany army at 16 years old (1943)
  • In a prison camp in Scotland, Moltmann read the Gospel of Mark and found hope when there was no expectation.
  • The Crucified God, the cry of dereliction, and the cry of jubilation
  • Contrasting joy with American optimism and the pursuit of happiness
  • Christianity as a unique religion of joy, in virtue of the resurrection of Christ
  • Joy versus fun—“You can experience joy only with your whole heart, your whole soul, and all your energies."
  • "You cannot make yourself joyful… something unexpected must happen."
  • Love and joy
  • "The intention of love is the happiness of the beloved."
  • "We are not loved because we are beautiful… we are beautiful because we are loved."
  • Joy and gratitude
  • Love comes as a gift and surprise, and therefore leads to joy.
  • Blessed, therefore grateful—receiving the gift as gift
  • “Anticipated joy is the best joy.”
  • The Passion of God as the foundation of joy
  • Passionate God of the Hebrew Bible or Absolute God of Greek Metaphysics?
  • An apathetic God makes apathetic people; the compassion of God makes compassionate people
  • A Feeling God or an Apathetic God? God’s participation in suffering and joy
  • “God participates in the joy of his creation."
  • Luke 15: “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just…"
  • Lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son...
  • The wrath of God is God’s wounded love
  • “My wrath is only for a moment, and my grace is everlasting."
  • "Joy, in the end, wins."

Watch a video of this interview here.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured theologians Jürgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf, and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Apr 10, 2021
Dead Quiet: The Death Penalty in Theological, Moral, and Political Context / Elizabeth Bruenig & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:44:30

"Once a person has done evil, they have destroyed a significant part of themselves. They have made that turn towards non-being, non-existence, chaos, disorder, and loss. And so when you execute a person who has already done that kind of moral damage to themselves, not to mention all the damage they've done to other people, but at that point, the only thing remaining in them is the good, which is that this is a human being, alive and made in the image of the living God. And so at that point, that's all they have. And you're destroying it."

Ryan McAnnally-Linz is joined by Elizabeth Bruenig (New York Times) to discuss the theological, moral, and political implications of the death penalty, best summed in her bracing piece released days after the execution of Alfred Bourgeois, which she witnessed in person. 

Show Notes

  • Evan Rosa, Holy Saturday Reflection
  • Elizabeth Bruenig, "The Man I Saw Them Kill”—Liz Bruenig witnesses the execution of Alfred Bourgeois
  • Mark Oppenheimer, "A Death Row Inmate Finds Common Ground With Theologians”—Jurgen Moltmann’s relationship with death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner
  • Elizabeth Bruenig, "The Government Has Not Explained How These 13 People Were Selected to Die”—Liz Bruenig: "The federal death penalty cannot be fixed. It’s time to end it."
  • Elizabeth Bruenig, "Witness to an Execution: A Chilling Account”—Readers react to Elizabeth Bruenig’s essay about the recent federal execution of Alfred Bourgeois.
  • "Execution as theater” 
  • What does the death penalty do to us?
  • Hoping for the destruction of another person
  • “I think anytime you’re sitting around hoping someone is destroyed, that’s a morally compromising position to be in. It’s certainly the case that people can commit crimes that make me feel like they should be themselves wiped off the face of the earth and eliminated from the cosmos, but I know that those impulses are not the best in me.”
  • The impulse to destroy
  • Rationality, irrationality, and the extremity of the death penalty
  • Moral loss and moral injury
  • The question of accidentally executing innocent people versus the impulse to destroy
  • Deserted island
  • Intense revulsion at evil
  • The VVitch (The Witch, 2015)
  • St. Augustine on the death penalty. Hate the sin, love the nature.
  • "Nothing was restored, nothing was gained. There isn’t any justice in it, nor satisfaction, nor reason: There was nothing, nothing there.” 
  • Agnes Callard
  • The permanence of harm
  • “Harm can’t be undone… What can we do about the fact that harm is so permanent. … It may seem symmetrical in a literary sense but it doesn’t actually do anything to undo the harm."
  • “What can we preserve? What can we prevent from being destroyed any further?"
  • Wounds of the martyrs
  • Miroslav Volf’s view that the sins, harms, and wounds of life will not come to mind in heaven; social reconciliation that goes along with the settling of accounts in judgment
  • The Prodigal Son and the moral damage done to oneself
  • “You were always with me. Why are you complaining? Everything I have is yours. Why are you upset about that?"
  • Hen Meme: “Sorry my mom said no”
  • “Hiding in God’s wing and feeling like, whatever else anyone does, however angry anyone else makes me, I am here with the Lord. He has me. I’ll be okay. I have it in me to forgive because I have everything my Father has, which is everything there is."
  • Public policy and the death penalty abolition movement; states will slowly trail off in the use of the death penalty
  • Federal death penalty, Trump and Barr’s abuse of federal executions
  • The role of the Supreme
  • What to expect and the range of possibilities for the future of federal capital punishment
  • Jürgen Moltmann and death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner
  • The political calculation of commuting sentences or abolishing the death penalty.
  • “They don’t want to spend political capital on criminals, people who’ve done terrible things."
  • Capital punishment and public policy

About Elizabeth Bruenig

Elizabeth Bruenig is an American journalist and opinion writer for the New York Times.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured journalist Elizabeth Bruenig and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
Apr 03, 2021
You Do You: Ethics of Authenticity in Disney's Frozen and Moana / Matt Croasmun and Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:47:47

Enroll now for our 7-week Life Worth Living Course through Grace Farms: http://gracefarms.org/life-worth-living. The course runs from May 4 to June 15, and we expect it to fill up quickly, so don’t wait to sign up!

One of the most prominent visions of the good life present in Disney films could be called "expressive individualism," perhaps best captured by the phrase "you do you." In this episode Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Matt Croasmun interpret and unpack the ethics of the authentic self, belonging, and the implicit visions of flourishing life in two contemporary classics from Disney: Frozen and Moana.

Support the For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

 

Mar 29, 2021
When Hospitals Become Battlefields: The Impact of Spiritual Abuse on Faith & Flourishing / Dan Koch
00:51:47

Thinking of the Christian church as a field hospital is a wonderful thought, but what happens when the very place you go to for healing becomes the locus of trauma? What happens to faith and flourishing when the hospital becomes a battlefield? For all the media attention given to cases of spiritual abuse, there is very little by way of psychological research. Dan Koch, host of the podcast You Have Permission and a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Northwest University, explores the tragic and damaging phenomenon of spiritual abuse; its impact on the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual life; and identifies some of the most important factors in understanding its underlying causes and developing approaches to healing for victims. Interview with Evan Rosa.

Show Notes

  • "Religion is like nuclear fission. When done well, nuclear fission can give us free electricity indefinitely with a little bit of care and a little bit of grooming. It's this tremendously powerful source of energy and flourishing. But it also, when done poorly, can melt a reactor, kill tens of thousands of people, and irradiate land for a million years."
  • "What we do when we spiritually abused someone, not only do we harm them, we cut them off from what may have been their primary healing source. In the same move, we make it harder for them to use their faith, use their spirituality to heal from the harm we just did to them."
  • “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
  • For our purposes, "spiritual abuse" means any form of physical, mental, sexual, or spiritual harm or trauma that occurs in a religious context.
  • About You Have Permission
  • Theology and psychology—TheoPsych and Blueprint1543
  • How Dan Koch  got interested in spiritual and religious abuse
  • End-times terror as a form of spiritual abuse
  • Spiritual and religious abuse has scant literature, but covers a variety of species of abuse and harm.
  • A Venn diagram with other kinds of abuse and harm, in religious contexts
  • Controlling and narcissistic pastors
  • Conditionality
  • Violence, horror, and terror
  • Developing a God image
  • Restricting negative emotions and unhappiness
  • The prevalence of spiritual abuse—Liz Oakley's study of the U.K.
  • Jean Vanier and Ravi Zacharias—celebrity, fame, and power dynamics that lead to spiritual and sexual abuse
  • The power of religious leaders in American life
  • Conflating the religious leader with God
  • The impact of spiritual abuse on the plausibility of faith: rationality, emotion, and the holistic response of a person to abuse
  • Responding to spiritual abuse
  • Standing in solidarity with victims

About Dan Koch

Dan Koch is host of the podcast You Have Permission and a doctoral student in counseling psychology at Northwest University. Follow him on Twitter @DanKoch.

Mar 20, 2021
The Gravity of Joy / Angela Gorrell
00:34:53

Theologian Angela Gorrell discusses her book The Gravity of Joy, a theological memoir that lays bare the experience of finding the bright sorrow of joy alongside devastating grief, suffering, and pain. The book recounts her experience of joining the Yale Center for Faith & Culture in 2016 as an Associate Research Scholar for our Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project and to teach our Yale undergraduate course, Life Worth Living. That winter, the reality, the extent, and the dangerous potential of joy would become devastatingly clear. The highly abstract question of what it means to live a life worth living would become painfully acute. Interview with Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Support For the Life of the World by supporting the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: faith.yale.edu/give 

This episode contains some sensitive material about suicide. Use some discretion as you consider listening, and if you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Show Notes

  • Read the book: The Gravity of Joy: A Story of Being Lost and Found 
  • A devastating winter of loss
  • Suicide and opioid deaths as “deaths of despair"
  • “Despair is the feeling I think that people can feel when they feel like no one can reach them. No one can get to them. And for me, joy is a counteragent to despair because joy is the feeling that we get after recognizing truth, meaning beauty, goodness, our relationship to other people."
  • Joy as a work of resistance against despair (e.g., Willie James Jennings)
  • "Joy as an illumination that there is something more.”
  • Grief vs Despair—what prevented your grief from becoming despair? Who reached you?
  • “Even though I was a year and five months in grief… angry… constantly afraid of getting another call."
  • Suicide watch in a women’s correctional facility—“These women are going to minister to me."
  • "Is our study of joy too shallow?"
  • Different kinds of joy
  • Joy and sorrow—from the book: "Joy doesn’t obliterate grief. . . . Instead, joy has a mysterious capacity to be felt alongside sorrow and even—sometimes most especially—in the midst of suffering."
  • The ocean as a spiritual sanctuary, the rain as an indicator that change is coming
  • "I suddenly found myself rejoicing over what ought to be, what was to come. I suddenly believed that joy might make its way to me again. And just the mirror. Like what if of joy like found me on that beach, running in the pouring rain?"
  • Women’s prison bible study—feeling welcome to a community without shame 
  • Humanizing one another in a dehumanizing institution: “The Gravity of Joy is my effort to humanize people who are incarcerated."
  • God’s activity in suffering, pain, and joy: “God was always seeking after you."
  • Romans 8:28 "All things work together for good"
  • I hope people feel seen.

About Angela Gorrell

Dr. Angela Williams Gorrell is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and author of The Gravity of Joy: A Story of Being Lost and Found and Always on: Practicing Faith in a New Media Landscape. Prior to joining the faculty at Baylor University, she was an Associate Research Scholar at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, working on the Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project, and a lecturer in Divinity and Humanities at Yale University. She is an ordained pastor with 15 years of ministry experience. Dr. Gorrell’s expertise is in the areas of theology and contemporary culture, education and formation, new media, and youth and emerging adults.

Mar 13, 2021
Befriending Reality: Engaging Otherness with Hospitality, Artfulness, and Particularity at Depth / Krista Tippett & Miroslav Volf
00:42:07

“For me, the spiritual task is to befriend reality in all its mess and complexity—to do that with grace." Krista Tippett joins Miroslav Volf for a conversation on the importance of engaging otherness on the grounds of our common humanity; her personal faith journey from small town Baptists in Oklahoma, to a secular humanism in a divided Cold-War Berlin, and then back to her spiritual homeland and mother tongue of Christianity in an expansive and engaging new way; the art of conversation, deep listening, cultivating hospitality; the spiritual task of befriending reality; and the challenge of being alone and being together as we seek to live a life worthy of our humanity.

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Show Notes

  • Julian of Norwich today: "All shall be well." Read the Revelations of Divine Love
  • Krista Tippett and On Being
  • The art of being human and speaking of faith in the twenty-first century
  • The animating questions behind the human enterprise
  • Creating a space for a conversations we couldn’t (but needed to) hear
  • Certainties and beliefs
  • What it means to be human, how we want to live, and what we want to be to each other
  • Hospitality—intellectual virtue, social art, sophisticated technology for inviting the best of other people into the room
  • How to invite someone into a good conversation, inviting them in their fullness
  • The discipline and public service of holding back your own opinions for the sake of listening
  • Balancing listening and speaking in a good conversation
  • What binds and unites various voices within the diversity of On Being?
  • "My primary intention is not to find similarities, but to be fascinated by particularity and go deep into that."
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “Depth Theology”
  • Drawing opposites and counterintuitives even within the same person
  • Similar themes emerging from very different mouths—struggle for justice, struggle for wholeness, aspiring to both praise and lament
  • The complexity and fine textures of the melodies of humanity
  • Confounding ourselves
  • "There are no storybook heroes in the Hebrew Bible … it shows all the mess."
  • Befriending reality, which has a lot about it we wouldn’t choose, like, or expect—and then make a life of meaning with that and from that.
  • “For me, the spiritual task is to befriend reality in all its mess and complexity—to do that with grace."
  • Christian faith as a “mother tongue”—spiritual complexity and Krista’s conservative Baptist upbringing: “I got a lot of lived theology."
  • "There is an order—there is a love that infuses all of this."
  • “I’m not defined by what I reject, and I’m very slow to judge anyone else’s deep beliefs."
  • How Krista came back to Christianity while living in divided Cold War Berlin
  • Moral exhaustion 
  • “I didn’t immediately head back to Christianity. First I got quiet, then I got intentionally quiet, and then I started wandered into praying ... and an imagination, and then that brought me back to my spiritual homeland."
  • Julian of Norwich and “All shall be well”—the cosmic sense of those words
  • “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…”
  • "It’s a mystical statement. It doesn’t add up with what we can see and hear and touch. … At some cosmic level, which I can’t be articulate about, it makes sense for me."
  • What kind of life is worthy of our humanity? 
  • We’re living in a time when we are open to hearing the truth about ourselves
  • We alone, and we’re together
  • Revisiting and grappling with binaries
  • Privileging the cultivation of knowing ourselves and spiritual technologies 
  • “It’s hard to be inextricable from other human beings.”
  • We’re just as shaped by how we treat our enemies as how we treat our friends
  • Nurturing the interior life as we’re tempted to focus on external appearances
  • Invest in ourselves in order to be present to the world

About Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, a National Humanities Medalist, and a New York Times bestselling author. She grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, attended Brown University, and became a journalist and diplomat in Cold War Berlin. She then lived in Spain and England before seeking a Master of Divinity at Yale University in the mid-1990s.

Emerging from that, she saw a black hole where intelligent public conversation about the religious, spiritual, and moral aspects of human life might be. She pitched and piloted her idea for several years before launching Speaking of Faith — later On Being — as a weekly national public radio show in 2003. In 2014, the year after she took On Being into independent production, President Obama awarded Krista the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.”

Krista has published three books at the intersection of spiritual inquiry, social healing, science, and culture: Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living; Einstein’s God, drawn from her interviews at the intersection of science, medicine, and spiritual inquiry; and Speaking of Faith, a memoir of religion in our time. In recent honors, she is a recipient of a Four Freedoms Medal of the Roosevelt Institute. She also received an honorary degree from Middlebury College, and was the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at Stanford University.

Krista has two grown children. She is currently at work on a new book about moral imagination and the human challenges and promise of this young century.

Mar 06, 2021
Joy and the Act of Resistance Against Despair / Willie Jennings and Miroslav Volf
00:24:58

"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.

Support For the Life of the World by making a gift to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: faith.yale.edu/give

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.

Feb 28, 2021
Willie Jennings's After Whiteness: Belonging, Intimacy, and Resisting White Masculinity / Matt Croasmun
00:09:21

Matt Croasmun honors theologian Willie Jennings and his work in After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging. Willie Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School.

Show Notes

  • Willie Jennings, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging
  • Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum
  • “Be ware the hidden curriculum."
  • White, self-sufficient masculinity: "a way of being that conflates knowing with owning, holding up possession, mastery, and control (vices all) as virtues” and “an ideal we cannot achieve"
  • Racial paterfamilias: conflating person and property
  • Beyond education
  • Mutual belonging and deep connection
  • Quote from After Whiteness: The cultivation of belonging should be the goal of all education. Not just any kind of belonging, but a profoundly creaturely belonging that performs the returning of the creature to the creator and a returning to an intimate and erotic energy that drives life together with God. These words, intimacy and eroticism, have been so commodified and sexualized that we, Christians have turned away from them and fear that they irredeemably signify sexual antinomianism, moral chaos, and sin, or at least the need to police, such words and the power of they invoke. But intimacy and eroticism speak of our birthright formed in the body of Jesus and the protocols of braking sharing, touching, tasting, and seeing the goodness of God. There at his body, the spirit joins us in an urgent work, forming a willing spirit in us that is eager to hold and to help, to support and to speak, to touch and to listen, gaining through this work, the deepest truths of creaturely belonging: that we are erotic souls. No body that is not a soul, no soul that is not a body, no being without touching, no touching without being. This is not an exclusive Christian truth, but a truth of the creature that Christian life is intended to witness."

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.

Feb 25, 2021
The Dignity of Work: Poverty, Property, and Fraternity in Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti (Brothers & Sisters All) / Martin Schlag
00:37:30

"There is no poverty worse than that which takes away work and the dignity of work. In a genuinely developed society, work is an essential dimension of social life, for it is not only a means of earning one’s daily bread, but also of personal growth, the building of healthy relationships, self-expression and the exchange of gifts. Work gives us a sense of shared responsibility for the development of the world, and ultimately, for our life as a people." (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti 162)

In the resurgence of worldwide populism, Pope Francis has said that employment is the biggest issue. And because of the global pandemic, work has become a fraught and challenging part of life. In this episode, Father Martin Schlag explores the concept of work in Fratelli Tutti, explaining the Catholic social ethic of the dignity of work and inclusion of all people into the human economy; the Pope’s perspective on private property and the suggestion that “the world exists for us all”; and the relevance of Catholic social thought and Fratelli Tutti for businesspeople, with a vision of work grounded in friendship, responsibility, dignity, justice, and love. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Support For the Life of the World by making a gift to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: faith.yale.edu/give 

Show Notes

  • Read Fratelli Tutti in its entirety online here
  • Fratelli Tutti is basically a summary of all of Pope Francis’s teaching.
  • Pope Francis on politics and love: “The biggest issue is employment."
  • "Bread and work”
  • Psychological and sociological catastrophe of long term widespread unemployment
  • Pope Francis defines poverty as the exclusion of the dignity of earning one’s own bread
  • Left and Right are categories that don’t work for the Catholic social tradition.
  • Dignity and Catholic Social Ethics and Anthropology—labor and the common good
  • Human dignity is grounded in the Image of God, as a representative of the absolute and unconditional; never as a means, always as an end
  • Human dignity formulated as friendship or fraternity
  • The right to work and rights in work: access, just wage, safety, rest, social security (health care, insurance, retirement benefits)
  • Christian perspectives on private property: St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Gregory—“your affluence belongs to the poor"
  • Not communism but generosity and sharing
  • Private Property: One of the most striking passages for the outside reader
  • Two Christian perspectives on private property: (1) Augustinian strand—private property as consequence of original sin and is regulated only by human law; “in paradise there was no private property” / (2) Aristotelian/Thomist tradition—private property is derived from natural law and the common good (this is the dominant Catholic tradition)
  • Absolute vs Derived Rights. Property is a secondary, or derived, right.
  • Property has a social mortgage, creates responsibility 
  • Horizontal vs Vertical dimensions of private property
  • Vertical dimension of private property: “The world exists for us all”; the universal destination of all goods;
  • Horizontal dimension of private property: 7th commandment presupposes private property (“Thou shall not steal”); under human society, private property exists and needs to be protected by laws
  • “We belong to the whole.” Aquinas: Human beings exist as part of a whole, a human being stops being a human being when they leave the polis/community or whole. Aquinas corrects that: Only to God do we belong.
  • Catholic social teaching has four big principles: Human dignity, Common good, Solidarity, Subsidiarity
  • All people of good will. What two or three big takeaways are available for someone who does own property/business person?
  • No to the idolatry of money. You need money in the world, but it’s only a means to an end, like gas in a car
  • Friendship: How can you create meaningful work for others and yourself, creating variety of tasks, giving significance, give recognition, empowered, autonomously?
  • Oppose elitism and false universalism: does my business have an inclusive mechanism, do we listen, have regular debates, does everyone contribute to decision making?
  • Where societal change comes from: not come from the elites but from the peripheries 
  • “The People”
  • What does a fraternal society look like in Pope Francis’ imagination?
  • Consider the French revolution: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”—liberalism built a politics on liberty; socialism built a politics on equality; but who has built a politics on fraternity?
  • “Good politics combines love with hope and with confidence in the reserves of goodness present in human hearts.” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti 197)
  • 'At times, in thinking of the future, we do well to ask ourselves, “Why I am doing this?”, “What is my real aim?” For as time goes on, reflecting on the past, the questions will not be: “How many people endorsed me?”, “How many voted for me?”, “How many had a positive image of me?” The real, and potentially painful, questions will be, “How much love did I put into my work?” “What did I do for the progress of our people?” “What mark did I leave on the life of society?” “What real bonds did I create?” “What positive forces did I unleash?” “How much social peace did I sow?” “What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?”’ (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti 197)

About Father Martin Schlag

Father Martin Schlag is Alan W. Moss Endowed Chair for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas and is author of The Business Francis Means: Understanding the Pope's Message on the Economy. He studies the nexus of Christian faith with markets, trade and exchange, money, private property, and their net effect on social justice.

Feb 20, 2021
Howard Thurman's Mystical Activism: Connection, Alienation, and Black Vitality / Sameer Yadav
00:10:38

"A strange necessity has been laid upon me to devote my life to the central concern that transcends the walls that divide and would achieve in literal fact what is experienced as literal truth: Human life is one and all humans are members of one another" (Howard Thurman, The Luminous Darkness). Sameer Yadav honors Howard Thurman, minister, theologian, philosopher, civil rights activist. Thurman was the author of the influential book, Jesus & the Disinherited, which Martin Luther King, Jr. was known to carry around with him. 

Links

Show Notes

  • Belonging and connectedness
  • The trauma of alienation in the Jim Crow segregation
  • Vitality of Christian faith and Black Christian resistance to slaveholder Christianity
  • "The humanity we share with Jesus is one that cannot be reduced or dominated, but holds a value in union with God that goes beyond any attempt we can make to manipulate it for our own purposes."
  • Thurman’s ministry and theology represents the bringing together of these three themes: (1) divine common ground with all living things, (2) the devastating effects of social injustice on human personhood, and (3) sharing in the humanity of Jesus uniquely revealed in the history of Black suffering and the resilience of Black joy.
  • Christian mystical tradition
  • Influenced by Ghandi’s approach to non-violence (soul force)
  • Jesus and the Disinherited—finding the inward strength to stand up to oppression
  • Mysticism and activism belong in vital connection with each other
  • Thurman’s impact on Martin Luther King, Jr. at Boston University
  • MLK was known to carry a copy of Jesus & the Disinherited with him wherever we went.
  • From Preface of Luminous Darkness (1960): "The fact that 25 years of my life were spent in Florida and in Georgia has left deep scars in my spirit and has rendered me terribly sensitive to the churning abyss separating white from black. Living outside of the region, I am aware of the national span of racial prejudice and the virus of segregation that undermines the vitality of American life. Nevertheless, a strange necessity has been laid upon me to devote my life to the central concern that transcends the walls that divide and would achieve in literal fact what is experienced as literal truth: Human life is one and all humans are members of one another. And this insight is spiritual and it its the hard core of religious experience. My roots are deep in the throbbing reality of Negro idiom and from it I draw a full measure of inspiration and vitality. The slaves made a worthless life—the life of chattel property, a mere thing, a body—worth living. They yielded with abiding enthusiasm to a view of life which included all the events of their experience without exhausting themselves in those experiences. To them this quality of life was insistent fact because of that which deeply was within them. They discovered God, who was not or could not be exhausted by any single experience or series of experiences. To know God was to live a life worthy of the loftiest meaning of life. People of all ages and times, slave or free, trained or untutored, who have sensed the same values, are their fellow pilgrims, who journey together with them in increasing self-realization, in quest for the city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God.” 

About Sameer Yadav

Sameer Yadav (Th.D. Duke Divinity School) is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. His research areas are in the philosophy and theology of religious experience, race and religion, and the theological interpretation of Scripture. He is the author of The Problem of Perception and the Experience of God: Toward a Theological Empiricism (Fortress Press, 2015), a number of articles published in various journals such as The Journal of Analytic Theology, Faith and Philosophy, and The Journal of Religion among others, as well as a number of chapters in edited volumes.

Feb 19, 2021
David Walker's Dangerous Appeal: Black Abolitionism and Belonging to God / Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:07:30

David Walker was an early 19th-century black abolitionist and activist, who wrote An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. Ryan McAnnally-Linz celebrates his ideas in this influential pamphlet that gave dignity, hope, and courage to slaves and freed black people alike, urging them to continue fighting for their freedom while the United States struggled toward the end of slavery.

This episode is part of our celebration of Black History Month; we offer these short reflections in appreciation and gratitude for the black voices who’ve shaped how we experience the world, how we think about it, and how we live in it.

Show Notes

Feb 15, 2021
This Economy Kills: Healing the Human Environment in Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti (Brothers & Sisters All) / Sister Helen Alford
00:37:01

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Shortly after Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis in March 2013, he released an exhortation, very similar to an encyclical, but addressed to a Christian audience. "Evangelii Guadium” or the "Joy of the Gospel,” begins by articulating the most pressing challenges for the contemporary Church. First on his list is the economy of exclusion. What does he mean by that? He writes:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.  (Evangelii Gaudium)

Sister Helen Alford reflects on the economic implications of Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti, including concerns about unrestrained free markets, the importance of allowing human life and dignity to frame our economic policy, what behavioral economics tells us about human relationality, and how we can understand the big picture of politics, economics, faith, and flourishing operating in Catholic social thought. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Show Notes

  • What is the goal of Fratelli Tutti? (And understanding it in light of 2015’s Laudato Si: Care of Our Common Home.)
  • Integral ecology: how we relate to each other in our nature environment (ecology) and human environment (economy)
  • Ecology and economy share a common root: oikos (home)
  • An economy that puts life and human dignity at the center, which also means respect for the environment
  • The economic donut principle: the inner ring is social minimum to take care of all people, the outer ring is the environmental ceiling for impact. We need to live within the donut!
  • "Fratelli tutti wants to see the economy as situated within a bigger vision of human development"
  • Economy is like the foundation of a house, it’s not built for its own sake, but to support the whole house and the people in it. The economy must serve the common good—for all of us, in an integrated way.
  • The primacy of politics: "We need a political order that’s going to give proper direction to the economy."
  • "We see how difficult it is to make a political system function today."
  • The economy is a good tool but a bad master. It must serve, not rule.
  • The problem with unrestrained free markets
  • Understanding the vision of human flourishing implied in the free market economy
  • "The Ultimatum Game": An experiment in behavioral economics
  • Relational beings in the economy; relationships really count in economic interactions
  • Beings in relation; understanding the humanity at the core of economics
  • How theology, biology, and economics all suggest cooperation and relationally is built into human beings.
  • Long term ideas that impact our concept of work and the human person
  • Rarum novarum and solidarity between workers and owners, and solidarity between workers together
  • Solidarity as a strategy for affirming dignity among all humanity
  • "The shape of human flourishing and how to reach it"—Charles Taylor on Fratelli Tutti
  • "Let us dream as a single human family.” Pope Francis
  • What is Pope Francis’s vision for a full and flourishing life? 
  • Human rights, human development and resources, moral and spiritual goods
  • Increasing diversity, having dialogue with each other and living together in real encounter, loving each other within diversity
Feb 13, 2021
Dreaming of a Different World: Friendship, Dignity, and Solidarity in Pope Francis's Fratelli Tutti (Brothers & Sisters All) / Nichole Flores
00:34:03

“Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all." (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti)

Last year, in the midst of a global nightmare, Pope Francis invited the world to dream together of something different. He released Fratelli Tutti in October 2020—a message of friendship, dignity, and solidarity not just to Catholics, but "to all people of good will"—for the whole human community. In this episode, social ethicist Nichole Flores (University of Virginia) explains papal encyclicals and works through the moral vision of Fratelli Tutti, highlighting especially Pope Francis’s views on faith as seeing with the eyes of Christ, the implications of human dignity for discourse, justice and solidarity, and finally the language of dreaming together of a different world.

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Show Notes

  • Read the entire text of Fratelli Tutti online here
  • What is a papal encyclical? For “All people of good will”—not just Catholics
  • Examining the signs of the times, e.g., Fratelli Tutti will always be connected to its global context during a pandemic.
  • What is Fratelli Tutti? What does its title mean?
  • Brothers and Sisters All: Using Italian, a particular language, as a pathway to the universal, rather than traditional Latin title
  • Pope Francis’ roots in Latin America: How his particularity as Latin American gives him a universal message; local and communal belonging; neighborhoods contributing to the common good
  • Seeing/Gazing: Faith as seeing with the eyes of Christ (Lumen Fidei)
  • Undermining human dignity in social media discourse; the failure of grandstanding rather than encounter 
  • Solidarity as a dirty word: conflicts within Catholicism about how to understand and apply justice and solidarity in real life
  • Solidarity requires encounter with the other
  • Social friendship and fraternity
  • Human dignity in the tradition of Catholic social ethics
  • Dreaming together: fighting against the temptation to dream alone, inviting us to imagine; cultivating a conversation that forms collective imagination and aesthetic reality. 

About Nichole Flores

Nichole Flores is a social ethicist who is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. She studies the constructive contributions of Catholic and Latinx theologies to notions of justice and aesthetics to the life of democracy. Her research in practical ethics addresses issues of democracy, migration, family, gender, economics (labor and consumption), race and ethnicity, and ecology. Visit NicholeMFlores.com for more information.

Feb 06, 2021
Radical Humility: Forgetting Oneself as a Path to Flourishing
00:41:23

Philosopher Kent Dunnington exposes the radical roots of Christian humility, exploring the centrality of humility to Christian ethics, the goal of humility in eliminating one’s own self-concern, why humility remains so appealing and so appalling, and how to respond to the abuse and weaponizing of humility to oppress. Interview with Evan Rosa.

Join us in taking hold of life that is truly life.

Will you partner with us in helping people envision and pursue lives worthy of our shared humanity?

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About Kent Dunnington

Kent Dunnington is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Biola University in La Mirada, CA. He teaches and writes in the areas of virtue ethics and theological ethics. Other research interests include addiction and criminal justice, inspired by his experiences teaching in prison. He is author Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice and Humility, Pride, and Christian Virtue Theory. He also contributed an essay entitled "How to Be Humble" to The Joy of Humility: The Beginning and End of the Virtues.

Show Notes

  • What’s so gripping about humility?
  • Radical, entire sanctification and radical expressions of Christianity
  • Thinking about the virtues
  • Virtues as a way of thinking about Christian influence on culture
  • What makes humility a lightening rod?
  • Self-regard, human weakness and need
  • Humility: Mark of failure, or a trait that marks right relationship with God?
  • How human anthropology and human flourishing influences your views of humility
  • Pagan perspectives on humility
  • You’d expect that humility would lose its appeal, but many contemporary thinkers continue to laud it
  • Humility as pro-social, promoting horizontal relationships
  • Augustinian humility: Humility as central for vertical relationship with God and the gateway to Christian orientation toward the world
  • Love and humility: The love of God is an offense to pagan sensibilities.
  • Jesus’s humility as Jesus’s weakness
  • "We often forget just how deep Jesus’s weakness went… it’s almost like Jesus doesn’t have a self apart from the will of the Father."
  • "The striking thing about Jesus is that he seems to be free of this whole project of having a self that could be identified over and against someone else."
  • Definition of radical humility: no-concern about status and entitlements (cf., Roberts and Wood)
  • Humility as a balancing act between excessive pride and excessive servility
  • The radical humility of desert mothers and fathers—“they weren’t concerned with defining it, they were concerned with living it."
  • Abba Macarius and the Unwed Mother—“I discovered I had a wife."
  • Humiliation and serious critiques of humility as a cover for patriarchy and lauding servility and denigration
  • Clarifying the horizontal scope of radical humility: Desert mothers and fathers took on radical humility for themselves, not as a guide for leading others.
  • “If you’re someone who thinks Jesus’s life is the shape of the good life, then it becomes a pressing question: How far am I willing to go? Am I really willing to give up myself in love of other people?"
  • “Do I really believe that selfless love is the shape of a good human life?"
  • Resisting the temptation to repackage a safer humility
  • “Pretty much anytime you find yourself espousing the virtue of humility to someone else, you’re on the wrong track."
  • “I don’t think we have to be humble, but we can be. It’s a frightening invitation, but if it’s true it’s incredible that we could be freed from our concern to make ourselves significant enough to merit love."
  • Christianity and power
  • "I’m wary of turning humility into a virtue that can be leveraged for social gain. I still think of it primarily in terms of something that helps find our way into being creatures."
Jan 31, 2021
God’s Love Made Delicious: Food, Hospitality, and the Gift of Eating Together / Norman Wirzba & Matt Croasmun
00:49:51

"Cooking is a declaration of love ... food is God’s love made delicious." Theologian Norman Wirzba reflects on the threats of our faulty logic of food and our disordered and disconnected relationship to eating and nourishment, and imagines a theology of food grounded in membership, gift, and hospitality. Interview with Matt Croasmun.

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About Norman Wirzba

Norman Wirzba is the Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology at Duke University. His teaching, research, and writing happens at the intersections of theology and philosophy, and agrarian and environmental studies. He is the author of several books, including Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating (2nd Edition), From Nature to Creation, and The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age, and his most recent book, This Sacred Life: The Place of Humanity in a Wounded World, will be published in 2021. In his spare time he likes to bake, play guitar, and make things with wood. For more information visit his website at normanwirzba.com.

Show Notes

  • Introduction
  • Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating—a picture of what eating can be, connecting us to the world, to each other, to God.
  • When it comes to eating in America these days, how are we doing?
  • Anonymity and ignorance. We are disconnected from food, we’re not encouraged to know where food comes from or how it came to be.
  • "Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables."
  • Good eating is not solely a matter of personal virtue or vice. It’s part of a complicated system, agricultural strategy, and political process we’re involved in.
  • Food is central to human flourishing, but if it’s only a market commodity, we end up with a faulty logic that drives a sinister food industry.
  • You can only sell so much: therefore, preservatives
  • If food is primarily to be digested, we have foods that are, in principle, indigestible. It tastes good, and never makes you full. It’s the perfect food commodity. The food system is developed to take advantage of you as a unit of consumption. 
  • What is eating for?
  • Membership as a eucharistic mode for changing the way we conceive of food and the good. 
  • Eating is a daily reminder of our need.
  • Fruits of the spirit that ought to animate our relation to membership.
  • Mutual belonging (Willie Jennings, The Christian Imagination)
  • How disconnection from the land leads to alienation and loneliness.
  • Attention to geography and sources of life; how do we cultivate awareness and proper attention?
  • Robin Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass—the White American presence has always been “this is not home.” Therefore, “The land we live on and are blessed by does not love us.” Think about what kind of compensation must follow to this kind of alienation. 
  • Racial components of agriculture and food. "You cannot tell the story of agriculture apart from the story of slavery.” Agricultural labor and the objection to embodiment.
  • Embodiment and food.
  • Essential work, abstraction from bodies, and disembodied labor.
  • "We don’t want to know, because to have to know these things implicates us in how we shop for food."
  • God creates a world in which creatures eat.
  • What’s communicated through a meal prepared for you? You matter.
  • God invites us into hospitality, and food and eating can teach us that nurturing welcoming presence.
  • Food as gift. Submitting oneself to "the grace of the world.” 
  • "Food is God’s love made delicious."
  • "Life has always proceeded by hospitality."
  • “Eating and cooking … cause us to stop and say, ‘It’s not all vicious. Maybe our living together can also be a celebration.’"
  • "All eating involves death.” How do you square the gift of food with the death it entails?
  • The first virtue of humility—because I don’t know, and because I understand vulnerability, I must live in a more humble, patient way.
  • What does policy look like when it comes through the lens of humility, dependence, gift, and vulnerability?
  • The story of a meal—its cultivating, growing, cooking, gathering, eating, enjoying, and nourishing.
  • You can’t homogenize people’s experience of food.
  • Sabbath, time, place: Slowing down to notice the goodness of the world God has given us. Thoughtfulness, intention, attention, presence, honoring each other
  • Who is invited to the table? Communal living, kinship, and community in a welcoming world. Abraham Heschel’s “an opening for eternity in time."
  • How can we honor the life that feeds us? Start simple. Soup and bread to celebrate the goodness of the world.
Jan 23, 2021
Patience with Yourself: Resisting the Temptation to Curate Yourself and Finding the Courage to Embrace Imperfection
00:37:17

Thanks for listening to For the Life of the World. To support the show, you can make a tax-deductible gift to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture by clicking here.

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This is that time of year when the little demon of self-criticism and self-denigration wakes up and starts nagging you for letting your new year’s resolutions slip a little. Or maybe you’re not there yet. You’re powering through, waking up early, working out hard, eating right, reading more, living your best life. Hey. Good on you. Go get it.

But regardless, whether you find yourself nailing it or failing it, do you have the patience and the necessary courage to accept yourself at every moment you try to improve?

This week, Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Miroslav Volf discuss an obscure but incredibly timely passage from an old lecture given by the great Karl Rahner, the German Jesuit priest and one of the most notable Catholic theologians of the 20th century—he was instrumental, for instance, in the theological developments of the Second Vatican Council.

Miroslav once heard Rahner give a talk about patience, and has passed along the wisdom of that lecture, and now we’re passing it on to you. Miroslav even translated a passage from the German text, and reads it here (you can also find it in our show notes). 

In this episode, Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz reflect on Karl Rahner's admonition to be patient with oneself. The discussion begins by recognizing the gap between who you are now and who you aspire to be, and proceeds with the need to keep the tension alive, working and bearing with your limitations, and exploring the freedom of a serene patience with oneself. Serenity is not acquiescence to vice or bad habits. But it represents a courageous long-term peace with your imperfections—an effort to recognize oneself as rooted in divine love and grace and acceptance, even as you pursue a vision of a better self.

Show Notes

  • New Year’s Resolutions and the need to be patient
  • Karl Rahner’s “Intellectual Patience with Oneself” (translated from German to English by Miroslav Volf)
  • Minding the gap between who you are and who you aspire to be
  • Narcissism, complacency, and resignation
  • Miroslav’s friend’s motto for graduate school: “Courage to Imperfection!"
  • Patience is not merely a private interior thing—there is a public effect of bearing with oneself that leads to bearing with others.
  • The courage to public imperfection
  • Cultivating a secure sense of self grounded in God’s love
  • We can live with imperfection knowing that we are accepted as we are
  • Release yourself from the grip of the performed, curated self
  • How patience with oneself applies to the struggle to improve through New Year’s Resolutions
  • Reflect on which self you want to nurture and don’t give up on the tension between who you are and who you aspire to be.
  • Constant pressure to improve quickly, as opposed to acceptance of limitations and imperfections
  • Keep the tension alive, work with your limitations, and explore the freedom of a serene patience with oneself.
  • You cannot do whatever you want, and the lie that you can leaves you exposed to the deep pain of failure and limitation.
  • “You are not at stake.” Limits are there. They are to be worked with rather than hated or abhorred.
  • "I’m not divine. I’m human."

Karl Rahner, “On Intellectual Patience with Oneself”

in Schriften zur Theologie, 15, 303ff.

(Abridged version of the first few paragraphs that deal with patience with oneself in general, of which intellectual patience with oneself is one dimension)

Translated by Miroslav Volf

That we need … patience with ourselves, seems to me a self-evident thing, in fact one of those self-evident things which in reality turn out to be difficult to achieve.  Perhaps there are people who don’t think they need patience with themselves because they are in full agreement with who they are and with what they do. But I hope that we will not envy the “good fortune” of such simple-minded people.  If we are honest with ourselves, we are [all] the kind of people who, rightly, are not fully finished with ourselves, and also the kind of people who cannot establish the state of their full agreement with ourselves on command or through some psychological trick.  Because a full agreement with ourselves is neither given nor within our power to achieve, we need to have patience with ourselves.  The person in us, who we actually are, greets with pain, the person in us who we want to become… We are now on the way, we live between a past and a future, and both, each in its own way, are out of our full control.  We never have all things together which we need to live; we are always historically conditioned, socially manipulated, biologically threatened—and we are aware of this. We can try to suppress the knowledge of this state of existence; we can try to let things that we cannot change just be there as surd elements of our lives; or we can misuse joyous experiences of life as analgesics against the uncanny tensions between who we are and who we should be; or we can interpret these dissatisfactions as depression which we either have simply to suffer or which we can medicalize ourselves against.

But when we muster the courage to face these tensions [between who we are and who we aspire to become], when we acknowledge them and accept them … then we have come to have patience with ourselves, to accept that we are not in pure agreement with ourselves… Many believe that they have patience with themselves and that this patience is the most ordinary of things.  But if we were to look at such people more carefully, we would see that they do not take on patiently the pain of their tensions, that they don’t face them without ether embellishing or hating them, but that they flee from them into the banality of everyday life … that what has triumphed in them [over these tensions] is an unrecognized despair or despairing resignation, that they, in the end, believe that life has no meaning. We would also see that they do not actually have patience as they behold the questionableness of their existence, but are seeking ways to look away and find surrogates for patience, which, they believe, make it possible for them to live.

Those who are truly patient endure in reality their existential tensions, take them on, accept the pain they cause… Those who are patient are patient with their impatience; serenely, they let go of the final “agreement” between who they are and what they aspire to become.  They do not know where this serenity, in which they let themselves be, comes from… Those who are patient are serene and therefore free.

We will not further explore the question about what it is that we ultimately fall upon when practicing such serene patience.  Some people will think that the stance rests on “Nothing”; resting on “Nothing,” they can be victorious over tense conflicts of finite realities in their own lives.  Others are persuaded, that “Nothing,” when one gives it its proper sense, is of no use, that it can have no power to give peace.  Instead, they believe that when we serenely accept our tensions [between who we are and what we aspire to become], then, whether we are aware or not, we have come to rest on what in everyday use of the word we call God.And when we really understand that word [God], the we see that the letting oneself “fall” into the silent incomprehensibility which is God “succeeds” because God receives in grace those who let themselves fall into serene patience with themselves. 

Jan 17, 2021
Violence, Shame, Fear, Anger, and Lost Civic Friendship / Willie Jennings, David French, Marilynne Robinson, Robert George, and more
00:56:39

What is the state of Christianity and Democracy in America? We mined the past 6 months of episodes for the most timely, relevant, and even strangely prescient reflections on faith and politics in America. Past guests Willie Jennings, David French, Marilynne Robinson, Robert George, and Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead, and Arlie Hochschild each offer perspectives we need to understand the political moment through the eyes of faith and culture. 

Here’s the breakdown of our episode today—it’s really a “best of" for faith and politics in America today.

Episode Contents / Show Notes

  • 3:33 - Theologian Willie Jennings on crowds, mobs, fear, and anger
  • 14:17 - Sociologists Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead on Christian Nationalism, identity, and violence 
  • 20:01 - Novelist Marilynne Robinson on Christianity and democracy
  • 23:17 - Political commentator David French on political exhaustion, culture war, and the role of faith in political division
  • 34:22 - Legal scholar Robert George on the breakdown of civic friendship
  • 44:32 - Sociologist Arlie Hochschild on building shelters from shame and crossing a bridge to empathy

Support For the Life of the World by Giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

Episode Introduction

Hello friends and listeners. Thanks for tuning in to the show. This week, in light of the tension and need for perspective, we’re turning to some of the more significant points of relevance from some of our past episodes. We’ve got plenty more fresh conversations and reflections coming your way in 2021, but this week has seemed to just catch us all. And if you haven’t yet heard Miroslav Volf deliver our joint statement from the staff of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture on Sedition at the Capitol, then check out that 10-minute episode as well.

As we’ve searched for words to understand, words to grieve the violence and death, words to evaluate, critique, and condemn, and words to forgive, to heal, to unite what seems unifiable—the words often come up empty, lacking, half-hearted. 

It’s reminiscent of the piercing words of the prophet Jeremiah, a hot take if ever there was one, as he condemns those who have “treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying “Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush.” He goes on, “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:14-16).

As we walk together, seeking where the good way lies, these ancient paths, trod by so many before us, let’s not give up on a hope against hope, a hope for things that we most certainly now do not see. There is no peace, but we need to envision it. We must be the instruments of that peace. 

Jan 09, 2021
Sedition in the Capitol: Wounded Pride, Lies that Incite Violence, Losing Connection to Reality, and Longing for Peace / Miroslav Volf & Colleagues
00:10:56

Miroslav Volf and the staff of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture respond to the lies, provocation, and violence at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

Show Notes

  • "The most responsible thing to say about the President’s and the attackers’ actions is that they were without qualification wrong. To praise, to condone, to excuse, or to ignore them is to 'call evil good… put darkness for light… put bitter for sweet' (Isaiah 5:20)."
  • At the heart of the current effort to deny and overturn the results of the presidential election is the wounded pride of a man who cannot handle the truth of his own imperfection and the fact that he lost a fair democratic contest.
  • There is a sorrowful, pathetic smallness to this petty woundedness even as it produces momentous—and tragic—consequences. Faced with painful realities that conflict with his self-image but that he cannot control, President Trump has given himself over to wishful thinking, conspiracy theories, and falsehood. He has constructed a pseudo-truth to fit the needs of his immense but fragile and wounded pride.
  • We must commit firmly to the truth, even and especially when it hurts our pride, when we lose, and when it calls for sacrifice.
  • We must orient ourselves toward peace and bearing with one another, being ready to forgive, as we have been forgiven. Indeed, our commitment to the truth is never at odds with love of neighbor. Peace is in fact unintelligible and unimaginable apart from the truth of Christ.
  • We must stand up for the downtrodden, marginalized, and afflicted, speaking and acting on their behalf, for their good, for their healing, and for their inclusion in flourishing.
  • We must never compromise or distort Christian faith in service to the idol of political power.
  • We must restore confidence in our democracy and trust in each other. Suspicion and conspiracy theories have distorted and disconnected us from reality.
  • We must live constantly from the deep truth that our worth doesn’t come from victory, triumph, or any other kind of power or influence. Our worth is secured by the love of God for us.
  • May we all become instruments of peace in this time of conflict.

Make a gift to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: faith.yale.edu/give

Jan 07, 2021
Christian Witness in Turbulent Places / Miroslav Volf with Mike Cosper
00:38:56

Mike Cosper, host of Cultivated, a podcast about faith and work, interviews Miroslav Volf about his vocation as theologian. They discuss Miroslav's youth in Croatia and his family's influence on his spirituality and theology, as well as the urgent need for faithful witness in our turbulent times. Original air date: November 2, 2020. 

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Introduction from Cultivated, featured on Christianity Today

(Click here to listen on ChristianityToday.com.)

Miroslav Volf’s writing is considered some of the most significant theological work of the last century. He was born into a family of Pentecostal Christians in Croatia, under oppressive Communist rule, and a “minority of a minority” (as he would later describe it). For almost four decades, his writing has been a testament to the power of the gospel for reunification and healing in the aftermath of war and political turmoil, as well as a vision for human flourishing in an experience of Trinitarian love.

On this episode, we talk about his emergence as a theologian, the development of his work, and his perspective on the turbulent times we’re experiencing today.

Cultivated is a production of Christianity Today.

This episode was produced by Mike Cosper

It was edited by Mark Owens.

Theme song is by Roman Candle

Music is by Dan Phelps and Roman Candle

Jan 02, 2021
Santa, God, and the Obligation to Rejoice / Matt Croasmun
00:27:04

Santa doesn't just want you to be happy. Santa needs you to be happy. Matt Croasmun explains how the contemporary Christmas myth—the Gospel of Christmas according to St. Nick—sets emotional norms that are vastly different from the Gospel of Christmas according to St. Paul. 

Dec 26, 2020
The Reason We Follow the Star: Learning from the Magi How to Give, How to Receive, and How to Be Human / Drew Collins
00:23:56

How can the Magi of Matthew 2—the Three Wise Men "bearing gifts" and "traversing afar"—help us understand faith and reason, giving and receiving, the nature of God, and how to be human? Drew Collins offers some new perspective on a familiar Christmas story.

Introduction and Notes

Merry Christmas friends—for this week, we’re dropping a double dose of Christmas reflections from the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. We’ll be hearing from Matt Croasmun and Drew Collins, both of whom are Associate Research Scholars and lead our Life Worth Living and Christ & Flourishing initiatives, respectively.

In this episode, I interview Drew Collins about the Magi of Matthew Chapter 2—these wise men from the east come to pay Jesus homage, but in so doing, they offer for us an outside perspective on the wonder and the weirdness of Christmas.  hey’ve been lauded through centuries of Christian theology for both their reason and their faith, but W.H. Auden’s treatment of their intentions in his beautiful Christmas Oratorio, For the Time Being, brings into clearest brightest view why they followed the star, and offers us something to aspire to. Auden gives them the lines:

To discover how to be truthful now...

To discover how to be living now….

To discover how to be loving now...

To discover how to be human now …. Is the reason we follow this star.

And well, in that sense, we’re all magi. Trying to learn how to be human now.

"Matthew 2:1-12 asks us, in other words, to confront the possibility that those outside of our particular Christian communities might offer us new ways of understanding of who Jesus is, while at the same time revealing new insights into the identities of our non-Christian neighbors.”

"The Christian faith affirms that God is a gift giver. We can say more. For God’s giving is so radical, so total, that even in God’s receiving the gifts we bring, however paltry and imperfect, God is also giving. In receiving the gifts of the Magi, or in affirming our receiving of them on God’s behalf, God is giving us hope that our own lives, scruffy and flawed though they might be, might be received by others as giving, like the Magi, greater insight into who Jesus is and might be received and redeemed by God in the coming of God’s Kingdom.”

Dec 26, 2020
Ignore These Walls: Faith that Leads to Freedom in Zimbabwe / Evan Mawarire & Miroslav Volf
00:48:27

Evan Mawarire is a Pentecostal minister and democratic activist in Zimbabwe. He is founder of #ThisFlag Citizen's Movement and has been instrumental in standing up to corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe. Miroslav Volf interviews Pastor Evan about his story of faith that leads to activism; the transformation he experience while being unjustly arrested, detained, and tortured in maximum security prison; and what it means to live a life worthy of our humanity.

Show Notes

  • Introduction and clip from #ThisFlag viral video
  • How Evan Mawarire became a Pentecostal minister
  • #ThisFlag movement - united around the symbolism of the Zimbabwe flag 
  • Compassion, mercy, and other biblical values that can be practiced across all levels
  • “If we don’t stand up, our children will hold us to account one day, and say ‘Why did you do nothing?’"
  • "I was asking people to shut down the government in 48 hrs."
  • The other side of fear is possibility
  • The atrocities of Robert Mugabe: abduction, silencing, torture, murder, citizen fear-based self-policing
  • #ThisFlag Campaign Slogan: “If we cannot cause the politician to change, then we must inspire the citizen to be bold."
  • Pentecostalism and Political Activism: Apostolic Faith Movement, Reinhard Bonnke
  • Pastor Evan’s detention and torture in maximum security prison
  • How encounters with prison inmates transformed Pastor Evan
  • “Look at the walls that are holding you back, and understand that there is a bigger prison that holds you back: the prison of your mind… Ignore these walls, behave as if they do not exist."
  • What is a life worth living?

About Evan Mawarire

Evan Mawarire is a Zimbabwean clergyman who founded #ThisFlag Citizen’s Movement to challenge corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe. The movement empowers citizens to hold government to account. Through viral videos, the movement has organized multiple successful non-violent protests in response to unjust government policy. Evan was imprisoned in 2016, 2017, and 2019 for charges of treason, facing 80 years in prison. His message of inspiring positive social change and national pride has resonated with diverse groups of citizens and attracted international attention.

Evan has addressed audiences around the world, and Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the 100 global thinkers of 2016. The Daily Maverick Newspaper of South Africa named him 2016 African person of the year. Evan is a 2018 Stanford University Fellow of the Centre for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law. He is a nominee of the 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards and the 2018 Swedish government’s Per Anger Prize for democracy actors.

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Dec 20, 2020
Black Joy and Oppressive Humility / Stacey Floyd-Thomas
00:49:16

Social ethicist Stacey Floyd-Thomas offers a womanist perspective on how humility can go terribly wrong, when it's hung over the heads of the humiliated, marginalized, and oppressed. This criticism of the traditional Christian virtue helps clarify the role of joy as the ultimate virtue of Black life, the centrality of black folk wisdom, and the beauty of black sisterhood. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz.

Links

About Stacey Floyd-Thomas

Stacey Floyd-Thomas is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair and Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University, and is a nationally recognized scholar and leading voice in social ethics who provides leadership to several national and international organizations that educate, advocate, support and shape the strategic work of individuals, initiatives, and institutions in their organizing efforts of championing and cultivating equity, diversity, and inclusion via organizations such as Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG), Society for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Religion (SRER), Strategic Effective Ethical Solutions (SEES), Society of Christian Ethics (SCE) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR). She holds a PhD in Ethics, a MBA in organizational behavior and two Masters in Comparative religion and Theological Studies with certification in women’s studies, cultural studies, and counseling. Not only has she published seven books and numerous articles, she is also as an expert in leadership development, an executive coach and ordained clergy equipped with business management. As a result, Floyd-Thomas has been a lead architect in helping corporations, colleges, universities, religious congregations, and community organizations with their audit, assessment, and action plans in accordance with evolving both the mission and strategic plans. Without question, she is one of the nation’s leading voices in ethical leadership  in the United States and is globally recognized for her scholarly specializations in liberation theology and ethics, critical race theory, critical pedagogy, and postcolonial studies.  Additionally, leaving podium and pulpit, she hosts her own podcast to popularize and make her profession and vocation intergenerationally and intracommunally accessible through The Womanist Salon Podcast.

Dec 12, 2020
Strangers in Our Own Land: Empathy Walls, Deep Stories, and Shelters from Shame / Arlie Hochschild
00:53:51

Arlie Hochschild discusses her book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, reflecting on how 2020 has made our mutual political alienation worse, and how we can implement deep listening, emotion management, hospitality, and create shelters from shame. Interview by Evan Rosa.

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Episode Introduction

How do we understand each other’s political lives? It’s all too easy to depend on the consistent narratives of bafflement at the political stranger. How could you possibly have voted for [fill in the blank]. I have no idea how you could support [you know who]. Maybe to stay baffled is a defense mechanism. It keeps the stranger strange. If you rely consistently on your inability to fathom another’s behavior or reasons or motivations—or the fears that underlie them all—maybe that helps you cope a little better.

Our guest on the show today turned off all her alarms, set aside the narrative of confusion, and set out to learn about the political other, when around 10 years ago, she began regular visits to Lake Charles, Louisiana, a working class Tea Party stronghold that followed suit with Trump support in 2016—suspicious of the government, struggling for their economic flourishing, feeling the whole time that they were being cut in line, that they were unseen, unrecognized, dishonored, alienated in a hidden social class war.

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild is Professor Emerita in Sociology at the University of California Berkeley and author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. In this episode, I ask Arlie about her experience of intentionally identifying her own ideological bubble, forging out to scale a wall of division, bafflement and hostility to find empathy, turning off her political and moral alarms and attuning her mind to hear the desires that inform the deep story of her friends in Louisiana. We discuss political division, resentment, and alienation; how the Trump presidency and subsequent 2020 loss to Biden has continued to make strangers in their own land; she explains the emotional roots of political beliefs and tribalism—especially those held by her conservative friends, the blind spots of progressive views of conservatives, and finally curiosity, humility, emotion management, and putting oneself in perspective. Thanks for listening. —Evan Rosa, from the introduction

Show Notes

  • How Arlie Hochschild decided to reach out to Tea Party Republicans from within her media bubble, befriend them, and then write a book about understanding how emotion informs political anger, resentment, and Trump support
  • The paradox of biting the hand that feeds you
  • Moving beyond political appearances and surface tensions
  • How to create a shelter from shame in order to connect and disagree in fruitful ways
  • What it was like to cross the empathy bridge, to meet people who live in a different bubble, who live with a different sense of what is true
  • Meeting Republican women in Lake Charles, Louisiana
  • The appeal of Rush Limbaugh: fighting against “feminazis,” “environmental wackos,” and “socialists.” And the deepest reason: protecting southern Republicans from the shame of coastal elites 
  • Turning off one’s alarm system for the sake of genuine encounter across division, deep listening
  • When to turn the alarm system back on
  • “Things have grown worse”: One’s own government as a foreign occupying force
  • The deep story: we can’t do politics without understanding the deep mythology that informs it.
  • The right wing deep story: Waiting and being cut in line, Obama’s role, Trump’s role, and liberation from shame
  • Shaming the shamers: Trump’s appeal to those who have been "cut in line"
  • Belong before you believe: How tribalism drives the political drama of America
  • The religious overtones of Trumpism: Trump has connected with Hochschild's friends in Louisiana not only as their liberator, but their righteous sufferer, their shelter from shame.
  • A giant, hostile shame machine: counter-shaming has a backfire effect: “Our shelter from shame is being attacked by the shamers."
  • What is the greatest felt need for political combatants? What will discuss the vicious cycle?
  • Recognition of the other across disagreement; finding an opportunity for common ground that we so dearly need right now; encountering the better angels of the political other
  • Blind spots: Social class, particular economic value, and the wonder inspired by the skill of the working class
  • The Virtues of Climbing the Empathy Wall and Encountering Others’ Deep Stories: Curiosity, Humility, Emotion Management as a Service to Society, Putting Oneself in Perspective
  • Recalling the feeling of being a stranger in order to practice an emotional hospitality that makes space for the deep stories of the other
Dec 05, 2020
Joyful Recognition, All Is Gift: Four Perspectives on Gratitude in 2020 / Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Sarah Schnitker, Jessica Hooten Wilson, Miroslav Volf
00:20:25

Defining gratitude as joyful recognition, the courage to be grateful, comparing gratitude for self-help vs  gratitude in prayer, resilience, seeing all as gift and everything as grace. Featuring: Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Sarah Schnitker, Jessica Hooten Wilson, and Miroslav Volf.

Show Notes

  • 1:07 - Miroslav Volf
  • Our gratitude for you listeners!
  • Sometimes complaint comes easier than gratitude, requiring the courage to be grateful.
  • Misconceptions about gratitude: repayment of debt, obligation to the giver, a strategy for happiness or subjective well-being.
  • Miroslav’s view of gratitude: Joyful recognition
  • Gratitude is "joy over the giver, joy over the gift, joy over having received the gift and having been set into relation to the giver marked by freedom.”
  • 6:45 - Stacey Floyd-Thomas
  • Slow down and focus on what matters most
  • Despite what may seem grim in this moment, redeem now as a holy time. 
  • Gratitude as not merely a disposition but an essential duty of defiance and determination that keeps us bound to our first duty: to care for our neighbors as our very best selves.
  • Maya Angelou: “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you say your nightly prayer, and let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” 
  • 10:18 - Sarah Schnitker
  • Praying gratitude together as more than self-help
  • The difference between gratitude as prayer and gratitude as a tool for feeling happier
  • 14:30 - Jessica Hooten Wilson
  • “Thank you for the fleas.” Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place
  • 1 Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances."
  • "All is gift. Even sufferings of many kinds are gifts if we offer them up and allow God to redeem them."
  • Cultivate a gracious imagination that sees all as grace

A recent review from one of our listeners:

"So much is happening and our society has rules where we often check our deepest meaning systems at the door. This works until a year like this year when we need to draw on much deeper resources, and we want a way to connect as a community. This group seems committed to softening those isolating norms, and showing us all what that could look like to do so with love and respect." (Donnied48, 10/5/2020, via Apple Podcasts)

Nov 28, 2020
Civic Friendship, Courageous Humility, and Seeking Truth Together / Robert P. George
00:52:14

Legal scholar Robert P. George comments on the meaning of friendship across disagreement, the need for public virtues of courage and humility, and how to address political polarization and hateful divisions through seeking the truth, thinking critically and openly, and respecting the dignity and freedom of the other. Interview by Evan Rosa.

Episode Introduction (Evan Rosa)

How do we heal from 2020? Yes, how do we heal from this pandemic, but how do we heal from the political rifts deeper than we can remember? How do we heal from physical distance that has isolated and alienated us from embodied presence and genuine connection with others? How do millions of public school children heal from remote learning and the psychological impact of disconnection? 

How do we heal in a moment like this?

We’ve been trying to tackle this question in a variety of ways on the podcast, and we'll continue in upcoming episodes. 

This week, we’re sharing a conversation I had with Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.  

We spoke just a few weeks before the election, really, as the frenzy and vitriol and worry started to peak. We spoke about American division and the punishing and apparently unrelenting hatred that can be on display in the disgust one side mutually feels for the other, even in the birthplace of modern democracy, where the idea of personal dignity grounds our freedom to live together. I asked him about what it means to achieve friendship across deep disagreement—something he’s become widely known for in his close friendship and collaboration with Cornel West. We spoke about the virtues of citizenship, including humility and courage; specifically the courage to stand for what you think is right even at the horror of being thought heretic in your tribe. This kind of homelessness from the tribe, especially for Christians who find themselves in tension with their tradition. He reflects on seeking the truth in a world where anyone can portray themselves as an expert and facts are no longer commonly regarded as such. I asked him to offer some practical steps toward mutual understanding and civil discourse, which prizes collaborating around a pursuit of the truth far over mere victory for power’s sake.

The kind of divisions we feel now—whether social distance or political distance—won’t be mended and healed with one strategy. So we’ll be bringing a variety of perspectives to bear on the question of healing. But the way Robert George frames civic friendship that shares a value for the truth and a commitment to respect for the other… maybe there’s some potential there. Thanks for listening today.

About Robert P. George

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He has served as chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and before that on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he holds J.D. and M.T.S. degrees from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., D.C.L., and D.Litt. from Oxford University. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Professor George is a recipient of many honors and awards, including the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Sidney Hook Memorial Award of the National Association of Scholars, the Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement, the Irving Kristol Award of the American Enterprise Institute, the James Q. Wilson Award of the Association for the Study of Free Institutions, Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the Stanley N. Kelley, Jr. Teaching Award of the Department of Politics at Princeton.

He has given honorific lectures at Harvard, Yale, the University of St. Andrews, Oxford University, and Cornell University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and holds twenty-one honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates of law, ethics, science, letters, divinity, humanities, law and moral values, civil law, humane letters, and juridical science.

Nov 21, 2020
Rabbi Sacks on Etching Everyday Existence with the Charisma of Holiness / Jonathan Sacks & Miroslav Volf
00:52:25

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was a British Jewish Rabbi, philosopher, politician, and author of more than 30 books. In this conversation, Miroslav Volf interviews Rabbi Sacks about Jewish perspectives on human flourishing, joy, sabbath and work, and the deeply communal and particular nature of Jewish faith as a witness to the common good. Rabbi Sacks died on November 7, 2020. May his memory be a blessing.

This episode starts with a 12-minute reflection and memorial from Miroslav Volf, followed by a 40-minute conversation with Rabbi Sacks.

For a video of the full conversation, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWpQ-23OBtU&t 

Show Notes

  • The Jewish vision of a life worth living: life going well, life led well, life feeling as it should.
  • Following the Mosaic Law, as a means to etching everyday life with the charisma of holiness.
  • “How would you take an ordinary life, and imbue it with a sense for the transcendence?"
  • The Hebrew Bible’s focus on “life down here”—building a sense for God’s presence here and now, as opposed to only in the afterlife. 
  • The Law exists because “you did not serve God with joy and goodness of heart, out of the abundance of all good things."
  • "The product of the life well lived is joy."
  • "Joy in Judaism is always done in the company of others… a kind of shared celebration. … Everyone’s got to feel included to be a Jewish joy."
  • “God is somebody very close. This is not a philosopher’s God. … This is God as next-door neighbor."
  • Sabbath and Joy: The End Not of Work, but the End of Striving
  • Sabbath is “as if you were guests at God’s table."
  • "Sabbath is the most remarkable of all utopias because it’s now."
  • Sabbath is a celebration of the good of merely being and being in God’s being: Liminal space, a time out of time.
  • How our personal lives of flourishing fit into the larger vision of flourishing at society as a whole
  • Communal life. Faith in Judaism as “the redemption of our solitude."
  • Closeness to God as the summum bonum (the highest good”) of Judaism. 
  • Creation, Revelation, and Redemption in Judaism
  • "Judaism is a religion of protest against the world’s first great empires."
  • Ecclesiastes as the best critique of modern consumerism
  • On failure and human imperfection. "Judaism is a religion of forgiveness. God empowers us to fail."
  • "The routinization of charisma” and constant access to divine forgiveness
  • The role of punishment in Judaism, divine vengeance, and “why do the righteous suffer?"
  • Victor Frankl and "the will to meaning”—history is not just what Joseph Heller (Catch-22) “A trash bag of random coincidences, blown in the wind."
  • The life worth living is a life suffused with meaning. 

About Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sacks is the author of over 30 books. His most recent work, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times (2020), was a top ten Sunday Times bestseller. Past works include: Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence; The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning; The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations, winner of the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for its success in defining a framework for interfaith dialogue between people of all faith and of none; To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility; and A Letter in the Scroll: On Being Jewish, winner of a National Jewish Book Awards in 2000. Rabbi Sacks was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009. He died on November 7, 2020.

Nov 14, 2020
Mixed Feelings: Poetry and Faith for Our Time / Christian Wiman & Miroslav Volf
00:42:01

Poet Christian Wiman and theologian Miroslav Volf, both colleagues and friends, discuss poetry's ability to give voice to the mixed feelings of life today, talking about the mash-up of home and exile, joy and sorrow, saint and sinner; and Wiman reads some of his favorite poetry from his upcoming anthology, Home: 100 Poems.

Poet Christian Wiman is Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School. He’s the author of several books of poetry, including Every Riven Thing, Hammer is the Prayer, and his most recent, Survival Is a Style. His memoirs include the bracing and beautiful My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, and He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art. He edited an anthology of 100 poems on Joy a few years ago, and is currently putting finishing touches on another 100 poems on Home.

Our guest last week, the novelist Marilynne Robinson, says of Wiman, "His poetry and scholarship have a purifying urgency that is rare in this world.  This puts him at the very source of theology, and enables him to say new things in timeless language, so that the reader’s surprise and assent are one and the same.”

Show Notes

  • On being nowhere, absence, place, and home
  • Simone Weil: “We must take the feeling of being at home into exile, we must be rooted in the absence of a place." 
  • Christian Wiman’s home
  • The resonance of objects and persons
  • Completing a poetry anthology about home during a pandemic
  • The ubiquity of home in poetry
  • "The Niagara River” by Kay Ryan
  • Individual life joining with collective life, the circularity and rhythm of lyric poetry; searching for a remembrance of home
  • William Wordsworth: “Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come”
  • “Innocence” by Patrick Kavanagh
  • "To be a poet is to be in exile." What is it to be a believer?
  • "Poets are not poets most of the time, the rest of the time they’re poor slobs like everybody else."
  • Living in and attending to our exile: Abraham “living in tents, awaiting the city, whose architect and builder is God”; Jesus sleeping in the boat in the storm.
  • Gillian Rose, Love’s Work and Nietzsche’s "tragic joy”; writing when she was dying of cancer and viewing faith as unmaking oneself.
  • "The Bennett Springs Road” by Julia Randall: “The bird that sang I am."
  • What is the right relationship of security to precarity?
  • “In a Time of Peace” by Ilya Kaminsky
  • How do we live lives of joy while there’s suffering all around us?
  • “Shema” by Primo Levi
  • Alexander Schmemann’s “bright sorrow"
  • Marilynne Robinson’s model of creating characters with credible lives of faith‚ credible for the very fact that they are attentive to the suffering around them.
  • W.H. Auden: “A good poem is the clear expression of mixed feelings."
  • "Taking life by the throat"
  • Both/And Life
  • “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop—“Somebody loves us all."
Nov 07, 2020
Marilynne Robinson on This Political Moment / Interview with Miroslav Volf
01:06:40

This is a political moment characterized by stridency, suspicion, resentment, anger, and despair—where shared commitments to truth, debate, free speech, and simple good faith in one another (these core elements of democratic society)—these are under threat of outright rejection by those in power. But the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson sees an opportunity for putting aside the resentment, suspicion of the other, and despair, and instead renewing a love of democracy, grounded in the sacredness of the person, and she sees more hope in a patriotism closer to familial love than America-first Christian nationalism.

To watch the video of this conversation, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUMN011pamw

Show Notes

  • Pursuing theology instead of literature 
  • America as a family 
  • The incredible singularity of the human being 
  • “When we don’t treat someone with respect, we impoverish them." 
  • How does the sacredness of humanity apply to our political moment? 
  • Christian Nationalism and the founding of America. 
  • The crises of Christianity and democracy 
  • What democracy makes possible for human beings. 
  • Democracy, Education and Honoring the Sacred in Humanity 
  • An anthology of the brilliance of humankind 
  • Structural wrongs and personal morality 
  • “I miss civilization, and I want it back." 
  • Truth, trust, and being available to each other 
  • "Honor everyone." 
  • Truth, conspiracy, and demonism (QAnon, blood libel, and twisted fantasies that prevent rational engagement) 
  • Primordial goodness, fallenness, and the bearing of original sin on democracy 
  • Suspicion, twisting the truth, and returning to seeing each other with eyes of grace 
  • Costly grace and Marilynne Robinson’s love of her characters 
  • Our political challenges are challenges about our humanity 
  • Pagan values in Trumpian politics 
  • Transitioning from fighting for others’ rights to fighting for our own rights 
  • The relation between Marilynne Robinson’s Christian identity and her political identity / Reformation Christianity and political progressivism 
  • Retrieving the beauty of the faith 
  • “The deepest kind of deep thought is sustained by Christian tradition. It’s a condescension.” 
  • Jesus as moral stranger—"almost everything important to us, wasn’t important to him; almost everything important to him, isn’t important to us." 

Marilynne Robinson is an award-winning American novelist and essayist. Robinson was born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho. Christian spirituality and American political life is a recurring theme in Robinson's fiction and non-fiction. 

In a 2008 interview with the Paris Review, Robinson said, "Religion is a framing mechanism. It is a language of orientation that presents itself as a series of questions. It talks about the arc of life and the quality of experience in ways that I've found fruitful to think about." 

Her novels include: Housekeeping (1980, Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist), Gilead (2004, Pulitzer Prize), Home (2008, National Book Award Finalist), Lila (2014, National Book Award Finalist), and most recently, Jack (2020). Robinson's non-fiction works include Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989), The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998), Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (2010), When I was a Child I Read Books: Essays (2012), The Givenness of Things: Essays (2015), and What Are We Doing Here?: Essays (2018). Marilynne Robinson received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Brown University in 1966 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1977. 

She has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at many universities, included Yale Divinity School in Spring 2020. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. She has served as a deacon, and sometimes preaches, for the Congregational United Church of Christ. Robinson lives in Iowa City. ‍ 

Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and is the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He was educated in his native Croatia, the United States, and Germany, earning doctoral and post-doctoral degrees (with highest honors) from the University of Tübingen, Germany. 

He has written or edited more than 20 books, over 100 scholarly articles, and his work has been featured in the Washington Post, NPR, Christianity Today, Christian Century, Sojourners, and several other outlets. Some of his more significant books include: Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1996/2019), Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (2006), Allah: A Christian Response (2011), After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (1998), A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (2011), The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (2006/2020), Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World (2016), For the Life of the World: Theology that Makes a Difference (2019, with Matthew Croasmun).

Oct 31, 2020
Understanding Black Politics: Faith, Representation, and Black Political Voices
00:50:07

Political scientist Andra Gillespie (Emory University) discusses the significance of black politics in 2020, including the need to fix disproportional representation, ideological sorting in party politics, the experience and salience of racial identity as a grounding factor for black political engagement, pursuing justice through the political process, and bringing political science to bear on lives of faith. 

Show Notes

  • Disproportional representation of African-Americans in Congress
  • Ideological Sorting, Partisanship, and Race
  • “Welcome to America’s Freedom Church”: How Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of MLK’s Ebenezer Baptist Church is leading the Georgia U.S. Senate race
  • Pursuing Justice in the Political Process: Voting Rights, Disenfranchisement, and Representation
  • Political rules and doing the right thing
  • Vocation and Christian public engagement
  • The role of faith in ideological sorting, and faith in black politics

Follow Andra Gillespie on Twitter

Learn more about the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference

Oct 24, 2020
Faith 2020: Seeing Christianity in Political Context / Michael Wear & Miroslav Volf
00:48:53

Obama's 2012 director of faith-outreach, Michael Wear, joins theologian Miroslav Volf for a conversation on faith and politics in 2020 and beyond. They discuss the connection between the personal and the political in their own lives; why Christians should care about politics; the public responsibility that comes with democratic citizenship; compromise and personal integrity; the challenge of religious and political identity that converges around the common good; ambivalence and political homelessness; and the important challenge and prospect of finding joy in what is, while hoping for what seems impossible.

Click here to listen to Michael Wear and the Faith 2020 podcast

Click here to subscribe to Michael Wear's Reclaiming Hope email newsletter

About Michael Wear

Michael Wear is a leading strategist, speaker and practitioner at the intersection of faith, politics and public life. He has advised a president, as well as some of the nation’s leading foundations, non-profits and public leaders, on some of the thorniest issues and exciting opportunities that define American life today. He has argued that the spiritual health and civic character of individuals is deeply tied to the state of our politics and public affairs. 

As one of President Obama’s “ambassadors to America’s believers” (Buzzfeed), Michael directed faith outreach for President Obama’s historic 2012 re-election campaign. Michael was also one of the youngest White House staffers in modern American history: he served in the White House faith-based initiative during President Obama’s first term, where he led evangelical outreach and helped manage The White House’s engagement on religious and values issues, including adoption and anti-human trafficking efforts.

Today, Michael is also the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, a sought-after firm that helps religious organizations, political organizations, businesses and others effectively navigate the rapidly changing American religious and political landscape. Michael previously served as Chief Strategist and member of the executive team for the AND Campaign, and is the co-author of Compassion and Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement, alongside Justin Giboney and Christopher Butler.

Michael’s first book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, offers reflections, analysis and ideas about role of faith in the Obama years and how it led to the Trump era. In 2020, Michael was the co-author, alongside Professor Amy Black, of a major report on “Christianity, Pluralism and Public Life in the United States” that was supported by Democracy Fund. He also writes for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Catapult Magazine, Christianity Today and other publications on faith, politics and culture. Michael is a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum, and he holds an honorary position at the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Center for the Public Understanding of Religion. Michael and his wife, Melissa, are both proud natives of Buffalo, New York. They now reside in Northern Virginia, where they are raising their beloved daughter, Saoirse. 

Oct 17, 2020
Always, Always On: Technology, Digital Life, and New Media / Angela Gorrell
00:47:57

How do visions of flourishing life converge in the new media landscape? Theologian Angela Gorrell (Baylor University) reflects on the challenges and opportunities of technology and digital life, especially those that reveal to us who we are, who we are becoming, and to whom we belong.

Show Notes

  • The purpose of Always on: Practicing Faith in a New Media Landscape
    • New media: not just social media, but entertainment, productivity, tools, and more
  • How to develop interested conversations about the impact of new media on moral, relational, political, and spiritual life.
  • How do visions of flourishing life converge in the new media landscape?
  • Understanding (and exploiting) human psychology in new media business
  • Seeking joy through affirmation and recognition
  • Becoming curious and open to conversations about new media.
  • The idolatry of technology
  • The chief task of adolescence growing into healthy adulthood: Identity and belonging—Who am I? Whose am I? 
  • Recognition has become malformed in the new media landscape.
  • The threat of diminished humanity through new media
  • Being one’s real self online and in-person
  • The importance of participation in order to act redemptively online
  • Numbness, anxiety, and depression that comes through passivity
  • When will you disengage from new media? When will you engage and participate?
  • Developing a rhythm of life that appreciates human hybridity of physical and mental mediated life
  • Ask: How can I nurture connection in digital spaces in meaningful ways? 

About Angela Gorrell

Dr. Angela Williams Gorrell is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Prior to joining the faculty at Baylor University, she was an Associate Research Scholar at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, working on the Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project, and a lecturer in Divinity and Humanities at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She is an ordained pastor with 14 years of ministry experience. Dr. Gorrell is passionate about finding issues that matter to people and shining the light of the Gospel on them. She is currently working on a book that shares findings of the joy project while addressing America’s opioid and suicide crises. Dr. Gorrell’s expertise is in the areas of theology and contemporary culture, education and formation, new media, and youth and emerging adults.

Oct 11, 2020
How to Destroy a Debate: Winning, Democracy, and the Very Possibility of Public Discourse / Matt Croasmun, Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Miroslav Volf
00:37:08

In this episode, Matt Croasmun, Ryan McAnnally-Linz, and Miroslav Volf discuss the Trump-Biden presidential debate from September 29, 2020, and its implications for public discourse and the very possibility of democratic deliberation. 

And yes, we know that that is not the headline anymore. The truth is stranger than fiction—again. The fact is lots of people are still sick. This pandemic is real. 

But we’re not trying to keep up with the latest headlines. The purpose of every single episode of this podcast is to help you envision and pursue a life that is worthy of your humanity. 

And we think there’s something to important to say about what we saw (or maybe more appropriate—what we can’t unsee) in the presidential debate. Something deeply significant for what it means to share common life together and jointly pursue the fullest vision of flourishing we can imagine.

Earlier this week, we saw the symptoms of a truly unhealthy public discourse. But we are not referring to the aggressiveness or the intensity. The conditions for debate assume that we contend, fiercely even, for what we take to be right. But what makes this country’s public discourse so sick, so fragile, is something that has infected it from within—something that threatens the very possibility of debate. 

Now, in on this conversation, these two points are foundational, and both come from Miroslav’s book, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World

We have two basic responsibilities if we’re contending for particular normative visions of flourishing in a democracy. That is, if you have a vision of the good life and you think it’s right.

First, we need to commend our vision of flourishing life—we ought to defend it robustly.

And second, we must help maintain the possibility of pluralistic discourse—disagreement, debate, deliberation—about flourishing life.

So, we uphold our views, articulate them, defend them, and extend them. But we encourage dialogue. We listen carefully. We’re intellectually hospitable. We’re humble and open-minded and ready to learn.

And if we are not prepared to maintain the possibility of public discourse, or if indeed we imitate the behavior on display earlier this week, well, that’s how you destroy a debate.

Show notes

  • The two responsibilities for flourishing in the public square:
    • 1. Commend your vision of flourishing life.
    • 2. Help maintain the possibility of pluralistic discourse about flourishing life.
  • The game of democratic liberalism: self-referreeing, calling your own fouls, and when a pick-up game threatens to devolve to a brawl.
  • What goods are there in maintaining pluralistic discourse itself?
  • Truth matters for a certain kind of vision of humanity.
    • Virtue doesn’t need adornment because it is its own greatest ornament. (Seneca)
    • "Democratic practices are expressions of our deep humanity.” (Miroslav Volf)
  • What are the deep Christian commitments that cohere well with democratic values? Why should a Christian care about the rules of the democratic game?
    • "Because Christians value the salvation of the soul!” (Miroslav Volf) 
  • Should Christians see winning in democratic politics as advancing the interests of God?
    • Seeking whatever means achieve political ends is radically un-Christian.
    • The basic commitment is to love one’s neighbor.
    • Listening as a Christian practice of love and hospitality. (Luke Bretherton: Christ and Common Life)
  • What is the goal of debate? Does the debater listen only to rebut? Or does the debater listen to become wiser?
  • Bad faith actors
  • Getting drawn into the maelstrom. "They go low, we go high"
  • "Be careful not to saw off the limb you’re sitting on."
Oct 03, 2020
How Political Division Impacts Christian Unity / Miroslav Volf #AskMiroslav
00:32:25

Miroslav Volf and Evan Rosa take listener questions about how to live faithfully in this political moment, focusing especially on questions of how political division impacts Christian and civil unity.

Featuring:

  • Miroslav’s social media bio gloss of the Prayer of St. Francis: "Before I tweet, I pray: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” 
  • Dr. Bethany Keeley-Jonker: "I'm struggling to balance unity in the body with my firm conviction that the Trump presidency is hostile to my most deeply held Christian values.”
  • Ramiro Medrano: "How can we foster unity in the body of Christ in the midst of division? How does one challenge the “brethren” to consider a different perspective? How can we correct bad theology and doctrine, when both sides use (or should I say abuse) Scripture to justify their position? I’m aware that much of this is based upon poor discipleship and interpretation. However, the polarization is further encouraged from the pulpit."
    • Disagreement
    • Mutual vilification
    • Unwillingness to listen
    • Neither in spirit of public discourse nor of Christ
  • The role of pastors in moral and political persuasion
  • Cordell Patrick Schulten: Can the Stoic and Christian takes on adiaphora (“Indifferents” or “Non-essentials”) help reduce the amount of political friction?
  • Anonymous: "Other than by avoidance, how do we sustain friendships in the midst of political/partisan differences?"
    • Rebelling against the temptation to reduce human beings to their political opinions
Sep 26, 2020
What is really worth wanting? / Matt Croasmun
00:56:07

Is what you want really worth wanting? We often settle for procedural and productivity thinking—life hacks, listicles, and tips and tricks that offer the life of your dreams. We max out our search in the shallow water of seeking answers to the questions “what do I want and how can I get it?” But Matt Croasmun (Director of the Life Worth Living Program at Yale College) suggests that if we—a society in crisis—want to live lives worthy of our humanity, we need to ask the deepest question possible and let it inform our thinking: What is truly worth wanting?

Show Notes

  • How can I live the life that I want?
  • Matt’s former dream of being a musician 
  • “I was more interested in being famous than in being good”
  • Self-formation versus self-obsession
  • “Giving up my dream to be a composer is either the most courageous or the most cowardly thing I’ve ever done”
  • “The fundamental question is, do I have the right dreams?”
  • The worthiness of our dreams
  • What path is worthy of my humanity? My life’s devotion?
  • "We live answers to the deeper questions, even if we couldn't give you those answers if we were asked point blank.”
  • Autopilot versus intuition
  • “Whenever we aren't all that reflective about our actions, this is the infamous unexamined life”
  • Feeling stuck 
  • Reflection can actually streamline our daily routines
  • Is effectiveness what we’re after? 
  • “If your ends are bad, then more effective means are hardly the solution”
  • “The great lie of 21st century is that the effectiveness question is the most profound question we can ask. The truth is: It’s merely the most profound question we’re able to answer."
  • “Some of those means landed men on the moon. I mean, we’re pretty good at it”
  • We crave knowledge of the good life
  • Do we want a life of ecstatic joy or peaceful serenity?
  • Independence or interdependence? 
  • “Self awareness is a lonely place”
  • “The answer sadly is not within; navel gazing is insufficient”
  • Accountability to something outside ourselves 
  • Moana, Disney, and community versus individuality 
  • “This can be deeply relieving when we've been on this sort of self-help merry-go-round”
  • The great wisdom traditions as as sources of knowledge and relevance 
  • “Act courageously in the world, take risks with our actions, with our lives “
  • “It's easy to have so-called courage without any humility”
  • What we've learned with our minds needs to be inscribed in our bodies
  • Perhaps our practices are actually smarter than some of our best ideas
  • Orienting our everyday desires around what we know to be true
  • “There are many processes along the way of reforming the heart, reforming our strategies, reforming our habits”

Watch the video: 

Sep 20, 2020
The Home and Homelessness of God / Miroslav Volf and Drew Collins
00:32:20

In this episode, Miroslav Volf and Drew Collins discuss home as a source of joy and humanity; the way we organize and order our homes for hospitality; and the homelessness of God and what that means for humanity.

For many, the first thought of home is the threat of its negation: homelessness. Still others think of the stress and anxiety—sometimes even at life-threatening levels—of being at home. For some home is grounding, a place of safety and growth, it is embrace. For others, home is hostile, unsafe and risky, it is exclusionary. This episode features discussions of:

  • The theological and moral significance of home
  • The meaning of Jesus's homelessness
  • Marie Kondo's philosophy of joy and home organization
  • Dorothy Day's voluntary poverty and "personal maximalism"
  • Home as a place for embrace, joy, and care
Sep 12, 2020
Supporting Sacrificial Love: Learning How to Fight a Pandemic from the Army's Chief of Chaplains / Major General Thomas Solhjem
00:31:14

Matt Croasmun interviews the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains: Major General Thomas Solhjem about whatever transferable wisdom we might apply from armed conflict to our war with Covid-19. They discuss how to cultivate courage, human fragility and loss of control, stories of bravery and love when life is on the line, and how to support the spiritual lives of the men and women of the armed forces.

Chaplain (Major General) Thomas L. Solhjem is the Army’s 25th Chief of Chaplains. He leads the Chaplain Corps in providing religious support to the Army’s Soldiers, their Families, and Civilians.

The views that Major General Thomas Solhjem discusses in this interview are his own and do not represent the United States Department of Defense or the United States Army, which have permitted his appearance on this podcast episode.

Sep 06, 2020
How Jazz Teaches Faith & Justice / Julian Reid & The JuJu Exchange
00:51:06

Jazz pianist Julian Reid on music, theology, and improvisation. The keys element of The JuJu Exchange uses the history of blues, gospel, and jazz to discuss how we communicate emotionally and spiritually through music, teaching an important lesson in how to live and long for home while we remain exiles. Features score from The JuJu Exchange's latest release, The Eternal Boombox. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Evan Rosa.

Julian Reid is a Chicago-based jazz pianist and producer, writer, and performer (not to mention B.A. Yale University, and M.Div. Emory University). The JuJu Exchange is a musical partnership also featuring Nico Segal (trumpet, Chance the Rapper; The Social Experiment) and Everett Reid—exploring creativity, justice, and the human experience through their hip-hop infused jazz. Their new 5-song project is called The Eternal Boombox.

More from The JuJu Exchange: 

From the episode:

  • Cornel West, from Race Matters: “To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any policing of borders and boundaries of 'blackness', 'maleness', 'femaleness', or 'whiteness'.”
Aug 30, 2020
Capitalism, Christianity, and Morality / David French and Miroslav Volf
00:30:07

Miroslav Volf and David French discuss economy, morality, and human flourishing—looking in particular at the questions of whether capitalism and conservative moral values can coexist, and how the demands of Jesus’s ethics implicate free market economy.

David French is a conservative political commentator for The Dispatch, known for his opposition to Donald Trump, his commitment to religious liberty, his advocacy for civility in public discourse, and his willingness to take a clear stand on political and cultural issues informed by his Christian faith commitments. 

The nature of the tug-o-war about reopening the American economy in the wake of COVID-19’s onset, and of course now in the wake of its second surge, was primarily a debate about the incommensurable values of economic wealth and personal health—or maybe better, economy and person. But more than that, it pit the concept of what it means for human beings to flourish against the political and economic aspirations of both political parties.

It sure is easy to lose sight of the human in all of this. 

But Christian values and commitments require that our economic theorizing and policy making mean that the economy serves the person, honoring the dignity of human life, creating opportunity for justice and health, peace and flourishing, for the good of God’s kingdom.  

To set up the conversation, we asked David about a 2019 back and forth he had with Sohrab Amari on the future of conservative thought, asking specifically about the way conservative moral values (things like family, integrity, honesty, generosity, forgiveness, purity) have been fused with free market capitalism. As he says, "in the absence of cultural virtue … a virtue in citizenry, a dog-eat-dog capitalism can be a miserable place.”

"There are no effective replacements for capitalism. The question is, what is the Christian responsibility for the proper functioning of it, and to what extent can we steer the whole of capitalist production to serve genuinely human ends as they are articulated by the Christian faith?" (Miroslav Volf, from the episode)

"In the absence of cultural virtue … a virtue in citizenry, a dog-eat-dog capitalism can be a miserable place.” (David French, from the episode)

Aug 22, 2020
We Are Home for Each Other / Natalia Marandiuc
00:31:13

Theologian Natalia Marandiuc explores the meaning of home and the authenticity of self in a world of both beautiful and toxic difference. She is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, and author of The Goodness of Home: Human and Divine Love and the Making of the Self.

Aug 15, 2020
Violence, Fascism, and Christian Nationalism / Miroslav Volf, Andrew Whitehead, and Samuel Perry
00:14:21

The current presidential administration has linked federal violence against largely peaceful protests in the name of law, order, and defending God. E.g., deploying tear gas for a Bible-holding photo opp. Does the melding of Christianity with the Nation produce violence and war? What's the relation between Christian Nationalism and fascism? Miroslav Volf asks sociologists Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry.

Click here to listen to the full episode on Christian Nationalism in the United States.

Books mentioned in this interview:

Aug 08, 2020
Elizabeth Bruenig: Chronicler of the Human Condition / Interview with Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:33:52

Elizabeth Bruenig (New York Times) joins the podcast to discuss the ethical and theological commitments that underlie her political and cultural commentary; work, labor, and employment; and how to be opinionated and very online at a time when most Americans are afraid of what other people think of their beliefs.

Aug 01, 2020
Public Faith Across the Divide / David French and Miroslav Volf
00:47:40

In this conversation, Miroslav Volf and David French discuss the politically and culturally polarized America; the resurgence of cultural struggle, if not outright culture war; seeing fundamentalist political religion on both the right and the left; forgiveness versus cancellation and how our view of human persons affects that public conversation; personal morality and social justice; and finally how political theology can make a difference now, the rest of this year (and it’s been a year), and the future of American life.

Jul 25, 2020
N.T. Wright on Weeping, Waiting, and Working with God in the Pandemic / Miroslav Volf and N.T. Wright
00:53:01

Miroslav Volf interviews N.T. Wright about his latest book, God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath. They discuss: Jesus, the God who weeps; the problem with focusing on rational responses to the problem of evil rather than empathic presence and action; the proper translation of Romans 8:28 (hint, it’s not “All things work together for good to those who love God"); waiting for God through the crises of human life; the patience of unknowing; lament as a way of hoping in the dark; Friedrich Nietzsche on our tendency to misinterpret the pain and secret sorrows of others; and finally, the resurrection of Jesus as the center for conquering suffering even in the midst of suffering. This episode also includes a brief remembrance of Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020).

Jul 18, 2020
Christian Racist Complicity: American History, Monuments, and the Arc of Justice / Jemar Tisby & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:53:58

Jemar Tisby, author of the NYT bestseller The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz for a conversation on how American Christian history has failed us. In this episode, Jemar explains the complicity and compromise of American Christians; the narrative war that confederate monuments wage (and how they were erected much later than you might think); the ugly theological justifications of racism and the shameful history of Christian white supremacy; the fraught project of selectively naming heroes and villains and then memorializing them; and the practical problem of how to go forward rightly from this moment of increased attention to racial injustice.

Show Notes

Jul 11, 2020
Taking America Back for God / Miroslav Volf w/ Andrew Whitehead & Samuel Perry
00:47:14

For our Fourth of July episode, Miroslav Volf interviews Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry, sociologists and authors of Taking America Back For God: Christian Nationalism in the United States. What is Christian Nationalism? Why does it matter? How powerful is it in American life? Who counts as a Christian Nationalist? They discuss the tendency of Christian Nationalism to use Christianity as a tribal identity marker or tool for power, rather than an authentic sign of faith or commitment to a the way of Jesus or the practice of his teaching. They discuss Christian Nationalism in racial perspective, comparing African-American and white conservative approaches to Christianity and the Nation. And the conversation draws out important implications for the meaning of the separation of church and state, and the viability of a robust public faith in American life.

  • Guests: Andrew Whitehead (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis) and Samuel Perry (University of Oklahoma)
  • Taking America Back For God: Christian Nationalism in the United States
  • Frederick Douglass' 1852 speech ”What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”: Full Text / Douglass descendants read—"To the slave, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour."
  • Miroslav Volf, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World—"When world religions are publicly engaged, they threaten to exclude all competitors; when they are pushed into privacy, they themselves are objects of exclusion.” So, he says, "We need an alternative that fits both the character of world religions and avoids the exclusion and marginalization either of some or of all adherents of world religions. It must be a position that secures conditions for political stability and social cooperation of persons and groups whose disagreements about conceptions of the good are irreducible."

 

Jul 04, 2020
People or Economy? / Miroslav Volf & John Hare
00:16:27

Miroslav Volf presents a previously unreleased clip of his conversation with Yale philosopher John Hare, focusing on the treatment of essential workers, the meaning of dignity and respect, and the incommensurable value of human life. Miroslav offers extended commentary on capitalism, Christianity, and economic values in the midst of pandemic.

Reference: David Brooks, "America Is Facing 5 Epic Crises All at Once" New York Times, June 25, 2020.

Reference: What Is a Human Life Worth? / John Hare & Miroslav Volf

Jun 27, 2020
Law of Love, Order of Peace / Miroslav Volf & Lauren Green
00:38:50

"Religion is most dangerous when it is superficial—when it serves to mark my identity as belonging to a different group than you. And when it's a tool in a politician's hands to legitimize their power. Then they just use religion to mark and to validate what they want to do in any case. And that ends up being really a kind of desacralization of faith. That which is holy has been completely turned to a means of a secular, profane end that bears no relation to the content of that which is holy." Lauren Green, Chief Religion Correspondent at Fox News, interviews Miroslav Volf for her podcast, Lighthouse Faith. They discuss his his book Exclusion & Embrace, his views on sin, racism, identity, religion and power, forgiveness, and the will to embrace. 

This episode contains an interview, reproduced in its entirety, between Lauren Green and Miroslav Volf, which originally appeared at here. Used with permission from Fox News Radio.

Jun 20, 2020
Justice Somewhere: Local Lament and Joyful Protest in New Haven, CT / Josh Williams & Matthew Croasmun
00:44:54

Matthew Croasmun interviews Pastor Josh Williams (Elm City Vineyard, New Haven, CT) about being a black pastor of a multi-ethnic church in New Haven. In this conversation, Williams provides a window into the incarnational theology that truly makes a difference in the world; he reflects on how increased attention to police involved violence against black life has impacted his life and vocation; he focuses on lament as the first step toward action and justice, but talks about joy and spiritual discipline in the act of protest, and finally, reflects on the fundamentally challenging question everyone is wrestling with right now: What does it mean to love our whole city?

Jun 13, 2020
Redeeming Dangerous Memories: Black Women and Racial Injustice / Keri Day and Miroslav Volf
00:39:26

Theologian Keri Day shares her experience as a black woman and a theologian, not only of the past week, but the long history of racism in America, stemming from the racially inflected roots of America’s founding and emerging even from history that has been erased. She and Miroslav Volf discuss her whole vision of individual and social justice through the lens of Christian faith and practice. Keri also provides a gripping example of redeeming dangerous memories in the form of the 1921 Tulsa Black Wall Street Massacre.

Jun 06, 2020
My Anger, God's Righteous Indignation / Willie Jennings (Response to the Death of George Floyd)
00:24:26

Guest contributor Willie Jennings (Yale) offers a response to the death of George Floyd and the black experience of racism and police brutality. In order to practice the discipline of hope, he suggests that we must take hold of a shared anger, hate what God hates, reshape communities with attention to the violence of segregation, and rethink the formation of police officers and our understanding of criminality.

faith.yale.edu

Jun 02, 2020
The Need to Listen / Miroslav Volf
00:08:31

"Before speaking about victims and to victims I need to listen. We all who are not victims need to listen." In a follow-up to his May 30 response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, Miroslav Volf speaks frankly about the necessity of listening to black perspectives about racism, police brutality, and the history and continuous experience of black suffering.

faith.yale.edu

 

Jun 01, 2020
Racism, Exclusion, & Embrace / Miroslav Volf
00:09:25

Miroslav Volf responds to the recent killing of unarmed black men, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Exclusion takes many forms, but  is marked by both a pursuit of false purity and a failure to see the other as fully human. 

Visit faith.yale.edu for more information.

May 30, 2020
Hope Pt. 2, Hope Against Hope / Miroslav Volf
00:18:50

Miroslav Volf investigates the darker side of hope, explaining what it means to “hope against hope” (Romans 4:18) and “hope in what we do not see” (Romans 8:25). He concludes with hope’s connection to patient endurance. This is the second of a two-part series on hope.

For comments, questions, suggested topics, or just to say hello, email faith@yale.edu.

Visit faith.yale.edu for more information.

Show Notes

  • “Genuine hope remains alive when there is no good reason to expect something positive in the future."
  • “We hope in what we do not see.” (Romans 8:25)
  • Martin Luther on “hope not seen"
  • "For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:24-27)
  • Hope transfers a person “into the unknown, the hidden, and the dark shadow, so that he does not even know what he hopes for.” Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, 25:364
  • "Hope is open to the difference between how we imagined fulfillment and how it arrived, openness even to recognize in the actual fulfillment what we in fact have wanted all along."
  • "We are most in need of hope in threatening situations which we cannot control; but it is in those same situations that it is most difficult for us not to lose hope. That is where patience and endurance come in."
  • "Hope needs endurance and endurance needs hope. Or: Genuine endurance is marked by hope; and genuine hope is marked by endurance."
  • Jürgen Moltmann, from “On Patience”: “In my youth, I learned to know ‘the God of hope’ and loved the beginnings of a new life with new ideas. But in my old age I am learning to know ‘the God of patience’ and stay in my place in life. … Without endurance, hope turns superficial and evaporates when it meets first resistances. In hope we start something new, but only endurance helps us persevere. Only tenacious endurance makes hope sustainable.  We learn endurance only with the help of hope. On the other hand, when hope gets lost, endurance turns into passivity.  Hope turns endurance into active passivity. In hope we affirm the pain that comes with endurance, and learn to tolerate it.” (Jürgen Moltmann, Über Geduld, Barmherzikeit und Solidarität (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2018)
  • Hope is for no-exit situations.
May 23, 2020
What Is a Human Life Worth? / John Hare & Miroslav Volf
00:25:16

Theologian Miroslav Volf and philosopher John Hare (Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School) discuss Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fundamental question behind reopening the economy from COVID-19 lockdown, “How much is a human life worth?” Why we should go to such great lengths, sacrificing so much, to save a single human life? What about humans gives us dignity? How should we approach the dilemmas posed by incommensurable values, where there’s no agreed upon standard for comparison? How can we better frame the question of the value of human life by observing the life of Jesus?

“My conviction is that human life doesn't have a price. And I take this from the philosophy of Immanual Kant, who distinguishes between the dignity human life has, and price. And dignity is, he says, incommensurable worth."

"Jesus came to be with us: Emmanuel. And that's what we have lost. We can't be with each other. … I think what we've learned through this is: A good human life is one that has physical contiguity with other humans."

"I was for some years working on the staff of Congress, and public policy decisions often came down to this question of comparing goods. I think a Christian has has something to say about this, and it is, Miroslav, part of your work, that you've been thinking about what a good human life is like. One of the ways to look at that is to look at what the life of Jesus was like. And that gives us a sense of what's important, what matters. It doesn't answer all the questions, but it does give us a map as it were, of how we should think about what is more important and what is less."

Show Notes

  • “Jesus came to be with us and that's what we’ve lost. We can't be with each other”
  • Andrew Cuomo’s decision making about reopening
  • “A human life is priceless” – John Hare
  • John Hare: God and Morality: A Philosophical History
  • John Hare: Why Bother Being Good? The Place of God in the Moral Life
  • John Hare: The Moral Gap, Kantian Ethics, Human Limits, and God's Assistance
  • John Hare: God's Command
  • The financial cost of the ICU, can we put a price on human life? 
  • What about humans gives us dignity? 
  • Kant and dignity 
  • “We fail to see the fundamental distinction between price and dignity”
  • “All things that have intrinsic value, they are all part of human life. They’re what gives human life dignity.”
  • “And when we talk about the dignity of human life, we're not talking only about physical life or physical health. We're talking about the whole constellation of values that make humans human.”
  • We can’t leave some humans out 
  • Human goodness and God’s creation 
  • “What we’re called toward is a union with God, and that’s a unique love” 
  • The call to love and its relationship to dignity
  • Love and the Trinity 
  • Are there certain capacities specific to human beings? 
  • “My value has not diminished because of my age” 
  • What risks should we take when we talk about our physical life?
  • What is the relationship between physicality and dignity?
  • Sometimes it’s worth risking physical life and health for other goods 
  • Singing Bach: Hare knowing the base part of the B minor Mass by heart
  • Should we stop signing in choirs? Can we justify the risk for the sake of music?
  • “Singing Bach is what makes us human. It’s what the old theologians would have called perfection”
  • Risk taking and individuality; Christ’s self sacrifice as the example
  • Balance: “Often we speak as though we are balancing the human life against the 30 thousand dollars (of the ICU). But that implies that the two units are commensurable with each other. Dignity is incommensurable. A human life is not worth any amount of money”
  • But do we rank goods as a society anyway?
  • This physical life is a necessary condition for all the other human goods 
  • “The good human life is one that has physical contiguity with other humans, the body that He gave to us”
  • “Each human life is worth His death, He died for each one of us. We know what value He placed on our lives” 

 

May 16, 2020
Hope Pt. 1, The Thing With Feathers / Miroslav Volf
00:18:12

Show Notes

  • “Perhaps, we just need to say it. This is not exactly a hopeful time”
  • “But hope is for the no exit scenario. Hope is for the life teetering on the edge”
  • Fear is more characteristic of our time than hope is
  • Optimism in the late 60s gave way to increasing pessimism in 21st century 
  • Theologies of hopelessness are on the rise 
  • How Covid has shaped our fear 
  • Even before the pandemic, we feared more than we hoped 
  • Dystopian movies and literature: we fear the loss of our culture 
  • “Fear and hope seem like exclusive experiences, and that’s not entirely wrong, but it isn’t right either”
  • Seneca writes: “Cease to hope and you will cease to fear…. Each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future”
  • To give up on hope is to give up on any form of meaningful life 
  • How our humanity is tied to our hope 
  • “In fearing, we are still hoping”
  • “The challenge is not to retain hope, but to conquer fear. Not all fear, but the kind of fear that paralyses us”
  • How do we distinguish between hope and mere expectation? 
  • “Hope is the thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul/ And sings the tune without the words/ And never stops at all/ And sweetest in the Gale is heard/ And soar must be the storm/ That could abash the little bird/ That kept so many warm/ I've heard it in the chillest land/ And on the strangest sea/ And yet never an extremity,/ It asked a crumb of me” – Emily Dickenson
  • “In hope, a future good, which isn't yet, somehow already is”
  • Luther – "just as love transforms the lover into the beloved, so hope changes the one who hopes into what is hoped for."
  • The present is pregnant with the future
  • But hope does not come from what is happening in the present, it is something entirely new
  • Hope lives apart from reason
  • Hope and God belong together 
  • “The God who creates out of nothing, the God who makes the dead alive, that God justifies hope that is otherwise unreasonable”

 

 

May 09, 2020
The Crowd Needs Faith: Control, Care, Economy, and Race / Willie Jennings and Miroslav Volf
00:48:31

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 and Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate.

Show Notes

  • Willie Jennings wrote in Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible: "The crowd is always susceptible to the fear that ... clothes the creature. The crowd is the creature exposed in its vulnerability. So nationalistic slogan, religious incantation, or enthusiastic cheering are used to conceal this vulnerability. The volume of a crowd is never an indication of the strength of their faith, but always their vulnerability and oftentimes their fear. The crowd needs faith. A crowd that gains faith shrinks in size and becomes a congregation.” (Page 189)
  • Miroslav asks Willie to explain and elaborate on this passage on crowds and fear.
  • "Crowds show us, not so much strength, they show us the vulnerability of the multitude."
  • A congregation is a crowd that has been disciplined, shrunk in size, by the reality of faith. … Of course you can have a congregation that still longs to be a crowd…"
  • “The challenge for Christians is to remember that we are not to fear loss."
  • The deep psychic shock that loss brings: “If anything, loss, for a moment, opens us to the nothingness out of which we’ve come."
  • We should avoid theological or biblical slogans. But how do we speak in ways that align our sight with real hope?
  • Faith as an ability to see and respond without being overcome.
  • The need to be sensitive that at this moment people of faith have already been lifting a burden
  • Willie’s formation in the African American community of faith—lifting the weight while acknowledging the strain.
  • David Ford on Christianity is inside many constellations of multiple “overwhelming”—being overwhelmed is a part of Christian faith.
  • Christianity that seeks control is unhelpful in a moment like this.
  • One of our greatest challenges with respect to crowds and fear is that "the nationalist imaginary” (h/t Charles Taylor)—playing off the economic well-being of the nation with the well-being of the human creature.
  • Crowds and the formation of political and ideological tribes. Applying crowd thinking and fear mongering to the political landscape.
  • "Fear is used to sell almost everything. Risk management is fundamentally a modulation inside the deployment of fear. You cannot have the advertisement industry as it now exists without fear. So many ways of selling the good life for us begins by trafficking in fear. And this can’t be separated from the ways in which our political imaginations work. And this helps to drive the ways in which we imagine our friends and our enemies."
  • People of faith are often the progenitors of fear.
  • Miroslav’s background as a religious minority in the former Yugoslavia. “Christian faith was born in the fires of persecution, and now suddenly we’re all up in arms and twisting ourselves into pretzels because there might be some limitations on what we can do."
  • Willie: “Being raised in the African American community, the worry about religious persecution was never a worry. We had other things to worry about than someone persecuting us for our faith. … We were afraid of them killing us, lynching us, shooting us, destroying us."
  • Comparing white fear vs Black fear. Fear of liberal hegemony versus fear for one’s life.
  • Economic inequality and COVID-19: The care of people must become the context within which you think the economy, as opposed to the care of the economy as the context in which you think about people. 
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the black community.
  • "When America gets a cold, the Black and Latino community gets the flu.” (Willie quoting Cornel West)
  • "They have to dance daily with this virus."
  • Toni Morrison: This is part of the absurdity that blackness must face.
  • With social distancing in place, what does it look like today to act faithfully and do something concretely to address these disparities? 
  • Allow the communal dimensions of our faith to move through us bodily. We need to reach out and connect with each other. "The Christian must gestate communion—must always be moving toward communion."
  • "We have to ask once again: How do we understand the good society? The very fibers of our existence are at stake."
  • The structural, as opposed to behavioral, nature of inequalities.
  • Even in the end, there is a beginning.
May 02, 2020
The Art of Living and Dying During COVID-19 / Lydia Dugdale, MD
00:44:00

For the Life of the World is produced by the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. For more info, visit faith.yale.edu

Dr. Lydia Dugdale, MD is a New York City internal medicine primary care doctor and medical ethicist. She is Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at Columbia University. Prior to her 2019 move to Columbia, she was the Associate Director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics and founding Co-Director of the Program for Medicine, Spirituality, and Religion at Yale School of Medicine. She edited Dying in the Twenty-First Century, a volume that articulates a bioethical framework for a contemporary art of dying, and is author of The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving Forgotten Wisdom (forthcoming from HarperCollins Summer 2020), a book about a mostly forgotten ethical tradition and text that emerged in response to the Black Plague in the late middle ages: Ars Moriendi, “the art of dying.”

-1:10 Drew Collins: introduction to the episode. 

-1:15 Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas; hear it read by the author here

-2:05 Drew’s introduction of Dr. Lydia Dugdale. 

-3:18 Beginning of their conversation. 

-4:00 Lydia’s experience of the current pandemic:  "Every face is a new face ... we’re starting from scratch with everyone... What’s different right now, is that we’re managing sick people without the opportunity to get to know them or their families … we are largely monitoring by computer screens, so we’re really missing out on the human connection.” 

-5:35 The impact of the lack of human connection on healthcare providers: the situation is dehumanizing for patients and the doctor-patient relationship.

-7:34 The meaning of moral injury and the impact of COVID-19 on doctors and healthcare workers’ mental health: comparing military front lines to healthcare front lines. 

-8:05 Lydia: “But what we’ve experienced in New York is actually far less than what we anticipated.” 

-8:32 “When you are working really hard to save people’s lives but they aren’t really human in the way that we usually think of doctor’s relating to patients. And I don’t want to suggest that the doctors are dehumanizing the patients but the situation is so dehumanizing.”

-9:45 Explication of the term “moral injury”. 

-13:10 The unsung heroism of essential workers in NYC, already living at the brink of economic peril. 

-14:20 Lydia describes her own personal fears:

-15:05 The non-stop nature of the pandemic impact in NYC. Never-ending ambulance sirens, refrigerated mobile morgues around the city; lack of attention on public school children and the educational impact and the importance of public schools. "We have children who are going hungry because they are dependent on school to eat”; shuttering small businesses, because closing doors for a month is impossible.

-17:20 Lydia on the macro-picture of the health-effects of the economic downturn; human flourishing. 

-18:19 Lydia shares an unpopular, but important view: How the current moment of covid-19 could change the conversation about human finitude, acceptance of our mortality, and the need to prepare for our deaths. 

-21:25 Ars Moriendi—the art of dying, which has been lost in modern America. 

-22:26 Lydia explains how her interests in Ars Moriendi were sparked--Lydia’s grandfather’s brushes with death, her family’s frank conversations about the reality of death, and her experiences of other people dying while completing her medical residency. 

-25:39 “What struck me about the Ars Moriendi (art of dying) is that it was developed in the aftermath of the Bubonic plague outbreak that struck western Europe in the mid-1300s. And was a pastoral response, if you will, to the concerns of the laity--the laypeople--who said ‘look our priests are dying or they’re skipping town; there’s no one to perform burials or last rites; for all we know, this can be damning to our souls; we need some help preparing for death.’” 

- 27:30 The Ars Moriendi was given to all of the community, including children. It grew out of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, but eventually was adopted much more broadly, and ended up not being tied to a particular denomination or religion. 

-29:11 "In order to die well, you’ve got to live well.” Understanding our finitude and working out questions of death in a community. 

-29:27 In her book she makes the case that, of course, the art of dying is broad, but it should include the constant acknowledgement of one’s finitude that is carried out in a community that helps the person figure out these questions. 

-31:09 Fear of death, grief, and tapping into the wisdom on ultimate questions about the art of dying.

-31:40 See Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss

-33:00 "There is a way in which the thought of death or threat of death brings into relief that which we most value."

-33:31 A view to our death helps us to answer very important questions about human life and flourishing.

-34:01 Practical and personal aspects to the reality of sickness and death during a pandemic, and its implications for personal family life.

-37:01 “It took at the very beginning [of the pandemic] an acknowledgement of our finitude. We had to be willing to having those tricky conversations with little kids from the beginning."

-37:50 The importance of community for dying well; "Right now, dying from covid-19 in the hospital means dying apart from family...the relational piece is really being challenged..." 

-38:35 Some doctors have to call patients before they come to inform them of the sad reality that if they pass, they would likely be alone. 

-39:50 Lydia: “Dying alone is not the same as lonely dying.”

-41:34 “The challenges of dying well during covid-19 are surmountable if we are "attended to the tasks of preparing to die well over the course of a lifetime."

-42:00 Conclusion. 

Apr 25, 2020
The Promise and Peril of Home / Miroslav Volf & Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:38:04

Warning: 

Hello friends, during a part of this episode on the complicated nature of home during a pandemic, the topic of domestic violence comes up. This is a serious and sensitive matter. If you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.

For more information about the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, visit faith.yale.edu.

Follow Miroslav Volf on Twitter: @MiroslavVolf

Follow Ryan McAnnally-Linz on Twitter @RJMLinz

-0:00 Introduction and teaser.

-1:17 Introductory summary of the podcast.

-2:14 Ryan McAnnally-Linz begins.

-3:10  Ryan: “The world outside ourselves and our most immediate environs has been fundamentally altered by quarantine, by staying at home, by social distancing. It makes everything seem distant and mediated. But the really surprising thing to me is that even home feels less real; it’s less home-like. And you’d think that spending so much time at home would make it feel like it’s the realest thing right now. It should feel especially like home, but, for me at least, it doesn’t. And I wonder why that is.”

-3:50 Introduction of the topic of the ambivalence of home--how the meaning of home is often fraught with complexities and dualities. 

-4:00 Similarly, how covid-19 reveals with greater clarity many of the inequalities that have always been, revealing especially through the lens of the home.

-6:10 Supporting resources for sufferers and perpetrators of abuse.

-7:40 Miroslav joins the conversation. 

-8:20 Home, the role of tending, and disarray. 

-12:00 Miroslav on the growing number of artists who are making their private spaces public. 

-12:47 Miroslav: “To me it is so interesting that objects of beauty have become important for us; we want to nurture the space to be beautiful in a way with which we can resonate....”

-13:39 “... and home is supposed to be this place in which we resonate, resonate with things that are at home--they are our things; they speak to us; they have spoken to us over time.

-14:05 “And yet, under a crisis situation, they start to not resonate.” 

-14:20 Home and dissonance in former Yugoslavia between refugees and hosts in the time of war. 

-15:20 Miroslav: “I live in a home which has a yard which has this typical New England stone fence, and there are a lot of portions of the fence that are falling apart a little bit. I find myself going out every day when I am spending time with my daughter and mending that fence. I want to set it right. Why do I spend so much time wanting to make this fence nice, when I don’t specifically spend much time in my garden?” 

-17:57 Ryan: “It’s getting harder for me to imagine other people’s experiences as I stay located in one place and the world seems to shrink a bit. I’m reading way too much news-- I think that’s relatively common these days--but it feels more distant than usual. Because things that aren’t happening in this space aren’t a part of my physical engagement in the world.” 

-18:30 Miroslav on the porousness of home. “The home is a breathing organism, with open doors and open windows--and sometimes open people come in.” 

-20:04 Miroslav: “I remember when I bought my house, my dad was chuckling as I was so proudly telling him about how I was an owner of this house. And he told me ‘a house needs a servant, not a master.” I think the other way of putting it was, ‘you think you own this place, but really this place owns you.’”

-21:30 Ryan on how covid-19 has revealed inequities that were already going on and, at the same time, has concealed those same inequities. 

-22:45 Miroslav against those celebrities who call the virus “the great equalizer”. 

-25:00 Miroslav on the beauty that can come in homes. 

-26:15 Miroslav on the violence that can come in homes. 

-26:26 Miroslav: “At one point when I was talking about violence in the world, I have said that the violence that happens in battlefields is nothing compared to the amount of violence that happens, and even the ferocity of the violence, that takes place in homes.” 

-29:10 Ryan on literal contagion that separates home from “others”, and how he is troubled that that will possibly inform analogies of otherness from now on. 

-31:20 The ambivalence of home in the Garden of Eden

-32:20 The ambivalence of home in the Parable of the Prodigal Son

-32:30 Miroslav’s interpretation of the parable as the “un-homing of the home.” See Exclusion and Embrace, Chapter III: Embrace.

-35:23 Miroslav: “Home has to be a living and breathing and reality--relationships are dynamic. And I think that is the challenge before which we face. That’s why home’s are undeniably beautiful, because there’s this dynamism and possibility of the intimacy of following the changes and shifts and lives of people; participating with them can be fresh and dynamic and extraordinary.” 

-37:15 Closing notes.

Apr 18, 2020
How to Be Afraid: Easter in the Time of COVID-19 / Miroslav Volf
00:36:23

For the Life of the World is produced by the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. For more info, visit faith.yale.edu

Follow Miroslav Volf on Twitter: @MiroslavVolf

-1:37  Introductory summary of the Podcast

-3:35 A diagnosis of the role of fear in our culture today and how we should respond to it--pulling from an earlier podcast.

-5:50 Miroslav reflects on how Christians should respond to fear. 

-6:15 Jesus’ injunction “fear not!” and how we are to properly contextualize that phrase: “It is not a call to disregard or minimize potential danger… to  fear not means to see danger clearly and yet not to be overwhelmed by it’s prospect.” 

-7:05 Paul on courage in the midst of fear: “We are afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair.” 2 Corinthians 4:8.

-7:26 Aristotle’s definition of fear: “Fear is a pain or disturbance due to a mental picture of some destructive or painful evil in the future.” Rhetoric

-8:05 Miroslav reflects on his experience of being constantly interrogated as a young man when he moved back to the former Yugoslavia. He explores this in greater depth in his book, The End of Memory.

-8:45 “If I am gripped by fear, when I hear someone telling me not to fear, I am likely to feel even more inadequate and fearful than I already am; I will feel diminished and that will do exact opposite from giving me strength to overcome fear! That’s why in the Bible the injunctions not to fear are tied to (1) assurance that we are cared for—ultimately that God cares for us—and (2) promises that, though we may suffer, we will, ultimately, emerge as conquerors."

-9:30 “That’s why in the New Testament all the injunctions to not fear except one come from the mouth of Jesus or angels, which is to say from those who are in fact capable of rescuing us from danger or imparting to us strength to face it.” 

-10:00 One of Jesus’ most famous teachings on fear: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

-12:25 Major section of Luke 12 show that the call to not fear was always joined by a call to trust in God--moving through the themes of persecution, the insecurity of wealth, the pointlessness of worry, and worthy objects of our striving. 

-15:07 Years after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, Peter offers these thoughts on fear: “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your heart sanctify Christ as Lord.” 1 Peter 3:13-15

-16:45 Jesus’ first cure to human fear is the fear of God. The second cure is trust in the God who cares for the disciples, including their physical well-being.

-17:00 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” Luke 12:6-7

-19:28 “The whole point of this fear not teaching is this: God, the master of the universe and the Lord of history, has promised to give the disciples of Jesus that most important treasure, which is the Kingdom of God itself.” 

-21:00 Jesus’ fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want."  Mark 14:36.  

-21:50 Luke on the disciples, who slept because of grief. Luke 22:39-46.

-23:34 “But his victory over fear in Gethsemane was a little resurrection before the crucifixion—it made him able to walk into suffering and death with the dignity of the one who was ‘afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.’”

-24:29 Jurgen Moltmann:  “We are released from our fear through Christ’s fear; we are released from our suffering through Christ’s suffering. Paradoxically, these wounds of ours are healed by another's wounds as Isaiah 53 promises of the servant of God.” paraphrase, Experiences of God,  42-43. 

-26:20 Ryan McAnnally-Linz  joins in discussing the similarities and dissimilarities of the situation of the persecution of the early church and the modern experience of covid-19.  

-29:30 An image of the altarpiece for the monastery of the Order of St. Anthony at Isenheim that was painted by Matthias Grünewald can be found here.

-32:00 Drew Collins raises a few questions regarding the role of  prayer in conquering fear.  

-32:45 Miroslav: “I think for me it’s important  not to interpret this victory over fear as an elimination of fear. Like now Jesus was standing there as a completely fearless, heroic figure. I think this willingness to face danger notwithstanding the fear is what needs to be done.”

-35:17 Closing. 

Apr 11, 2020
The Wrong Kind of Social Distance / Ryan McAnnally-Linz
00:11:45

Show Notes

For more information about the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, visit faith.yale.edu.

Follow Ryan McAnnally-Linz on Twitter @RJMLinz

-0:35 Introduction to the podcast topic and speaker. 

-1:40 Beginning of Ryan’s reflection on human vulnerability, the response of Stoicism, and the call to Christian love.

-1:45 In his book, Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari suggests that, once basic human survival is secured by overcoming famine, war, and pandemics, the natural progression of the human species will be to seek a god-like existence of immortal happiness. 

-3:55 Stoicism’s vision of the good life: virtue and rejection of attachments to the world. 

-5:45 “Following the Stoics, we might find ourselves responding to COVID-19 by training ourselves not to be internally affected by the turmoil around us. This training could look like denying the severity of the crisis or teaching ourselves to see it as overblown political theater. It could look like withdrawing our emotional investment in relationships with others, or like focused breathing and meditating the stress away. At its most extreme, it could look like the Stoic practice of memento mori, reflecting on the eventuality of our own deaths to dull the fear of their arrival.”

-6:12 A Christian response to Stoicism: love of world and community. 

-6:30 Romans 12:5

-6:45 State of nature or “Bellum omnium contra omnes” Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

-7:19 “Vulnerability per se is neither good nor bad. It is simply a fact of our lives as finite creatures. We depend on other creatures, large ones like the sun in the sky and small ones like the bacteria in our guts, for our very lives, and therefore we are vulnerable to harm. But that does not mean that it’s good to be subject to harm, much less to actually be harmed. It’s not. There are, therefore, forms of vulnerability that we ought to seek to mitigate, for our neighbors, but also for ourselves. The social distancing we’re currently practicing aims at doing just that.”

-9:05 “The good that vulnerability points us to is love, caring communion, and intimate connection. The situation with COVID-19 is strangely different, and yet the fundamental good at stake is the same. Health-care workers are, indeed, drawing near to the afflicted, at much risk to themselves. But the vast vulnerability to this virus asks something different from the rest of us. It asks that we keep our distance. Self-isolation is precisely the mode that communion takes under the conditions of this pandemic.”

- 9:45 The Parable of the Good Samaritan as a model for Christian love. 

- 10:53 Closing.

Apr 09, 2020
The Culture of Fear / Miroslav Volf, Matt Croasmun, Drew Collins
00:27:43

For the Life of the World is produced by the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. For more info, visit faith.yale.edu

Follow Miroslav Volf on Twitter: @MiroslavVolf

Show Notes

-0:12 Introductory Teaser

-0:57 Summary and introduction to the topic of this podcast—fear. 

-3:35 Miroslav begins. 

-3:40 Thoughts from Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety

-4:15 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Proverbs 9:10 

-4:50 The two questions we should have toward fear: 1. What do we fear for? 2. What are we afraid of? 

-6:21 Miroslav Volf: “... we are not just afraid of the virus, we are afraid potentially of everyone and almost everything. A carrier of the virus and, therefore source of danger, is everyone and  everything. Between us and much of what we see and touch there is something like an invisible aura of danger and therefore also an invisible source of fear.”

-7:15 Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety

-7:28 “Fugitives and wanderers” Paraphrase, Genesis 4:14

-8:10 Miroslav: “And, of course, the more we fear, the more we are focused on ourselves and the less we are capable of caring for others. Fear diminishes our other-directedness; fear diminishes our civic mindedness, which is precisely what we need in pandemics.”

-9:10 New section: fear of infecting others, Miroslav joined by Matt Croasmun.

-9:22 Volf and Croasmun, For the Life of the World: Theology that Makes a Difference 

-11:27 Matt Croasmun: “...I’ve found myself thinking about to what extent Christian ethics are good at thinking about moral actions that you can only ever evaluate in terms of the statistical likelihoods of causing harm. It’s one thing to think ethically about I take an action and I see that someone is harmed and here it is I am taking an action, and I don’t know if someone is harmed and the best I could do would only ever get me to a probabilistic estimation of harms that I could be causing people that I’ll never see. That somehow runs around some of the psychology of the Christian ethic of love of neighbor—a neighbor that I can see.”

-14:23 New section: Miroslav on living in a culture of fear. 

-14:45 Frank Furedi, Culture of Fear: Risk-Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation and How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century

-16:13 “Like people, saying, ‘peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10)

-16:30 “Unnecessary products that promise protection from imagined or exaggerated harms” Bader/Baker/Day/Gordon, Fear Itself

-17:20 Reference to Psalm 137:4

-18:28 “The Black Death” [1346-53], which killed 75-200 million, or the “Spanish Flu Pandemic”        [1918], which killed 20-50 million.

-20:05  Risk Societies by Ulrich Beck 

-21:00 Miroslav: “When a bacterial or a viral pandemic like COVID-19 breaks out, the social pandemic of fear is not far behind.That’s partly because when we see others fearing, we catch the malady of fear ourselves; fear is infectious; that’s partly also because the culture of fear has weakened our immunity to fear.”

-22:20 New Section: Miroslav and Drew Collins on the location of God in the midst of fear. 

-23:21 Drew Collins: “When I think about the contagiousness of fear, we could also describe it as coercive—there’s a way in which our fears are foisted upon other people. Even when in more and more spots, misperceptions of potential dangers and in some ways, making those invented dangers real and making people grapple with them as well.”

-24:30 1 Kings 19

-25:30 Drew: “And what I take from that is we often expect of ourselves to respond to fear with action. We expect God, we pray to God to alleviate our fears by acting, changing something. But what if the passage suggests that God’s promise in the midst of fear—real, genuine fear—is first and foremost not some grand gesture or grand action or even a response. But just the promise of God’s presence. A promise and trust that God is real and present in a direct way but hidden.” 

-26:20 Endnotes.

Apr 04, 2020
Trailer / A Message from Miroslav Volf: Faith in a Time of Pandemic
00:13:06

For the Life of the World is produced by the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. For more info, visit faith.yale.edu

Follow Miroslav Volf on Twitter: @MiroslavVolf

-0:45 Introduction to the podcast (Evan Rosa)

-2:22 Beginning of Miroslav’s thoughts. 

-3:30 What responding to the pandemic looks like for those professions that directly engage with tangible issues. 

-4:20 What responding to the pandemic looks like for theologians and non-working Christians. 

-6:00 “The question for all of us is how do we live with this disruption? How do we live with this menacing cloud that is over us? And the Christian faith—and I think theology as well—has something very important to say to that very question...The central question of the Christian faith is what kind of life is worthy of our humanity?

-7:30 “The Christmas story, as you will recall, describes the coming of Christ into the world as ‘light shining into darkness’ [John 1:5]—darkness of imperial oppression, darkness of widespread destitution, darkness of incurable diseases, darkness of hunger, darkness of vulnerability, darkness of precarity of our fragile lives. And what better underscores the fragility of our lives than the pandemic that we are experiencing right now!”

-8:23  “The question about the true, flourishing life for Christians is always a question of how to live that kind of a life as we are surrounded by the forces that push us to make our lives and the living of our lives false, to stifle the flourishing of our lives, to the make us languish—or to express it with the Psalmist, who was writing during the Israelite exile in Babylon; "how can we sing the Lord’s song in the strange land?" [Psalm 137:4] The current pandemic is just such strange land. We are now in many ways in exile; We’re now in the strange land; we’re now in the strange land in our very homes. Can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

-10:00 Is it possible that isolation can mean more than empty time—Netflix and snacking? 

-11:00 fundamental questions going forward: “How can we live so as not to betray our own humanity, the humanity of our loved ones, and the humanity of our neighbors? How can we do so as we live under oppressive conditions of the pandemic? The key question for us is to consider in this series of conversations we are about to introduce is What does it mean to say at this time that the God of Jesus Christ, the healer of the sick, the critic of powers, and the crucified and resurrected Savior... what does it mean to say that this God is our God?

-12:20 Closing.

Mar 28, 2020