SKU (ISBN): 9780802877949
Binding: Cloth Text
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
“My vocation was supposed to be joy, and I was speaking at funerals.”
Less than a year after joining the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Angela Gorrell got word that a close family member had died by suicide. Less than a month later, she lost her father to a fatal opioid addiction and her nephew, only twenty-two years old, to sudden cardiac arrest. The theoretical joy she was researching at Yale suddenly felt shallow and distant-completely unattainable in the fog of grief she now found herself in.
But joy was closer at hand than it seemed. As she began leading Bible studies at a women’s maximum-security prison, she met people who suffered extensively yet still showed a tremendous capacity for joy. Talking with these women, many of whom had struggled with addiction and suicidal thoughts themselves, she realized: “Joy doesn’t obliterate grief. . . . Instead, joy has a mysterious capacity to be felt alongside of sorrow and even-sometimes most especially-in the midst of suffering.”
In The Gravity of Joy, Gorrell uses her search for authentic, grounded Christian joy to reflect on the larger societal need for joy as a counteragent to the despair all too prevalent in the twenty-first century. Inviting action in response to the tragedies of addiction and suicide, she articulates a vision for communities that yearn for joy and “walk together through the shadows” to find it.