That’s right, we’re talking Rev & Stimpy! Well not really. What we are doing is circling back to a point that came up in our conversation last week. One of our participants brought up the idea of joy versus happiness, and I realized that it has been quite awhile since we’ve talked about that distinction. Well, the wait is over.
A full decade ago, NPR ran an interview with the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, on this very topic. Host Scott Simon, noting that the following day Christians around the world would celebrate Easter Sunday with joy, began the interview by asking Martin what the difference is between joy and happiness. Here’s what Martin had to say:
In the popular imagination, joy is a kind of intensified happiness, a state of bliss. But in the religious imagination, joy is about a relationship. Joy has an object and that object is God. And so joy is really a little deeper than happiness. And that’s why, you know, in difficult times people who are religious and who are believers can still be joyful, as odd as that may seem. …
So, for example, when my father died, during the funeral I was naturally very sad. But there was this sense of joy, of knowing that he was with God and that there’s more to life than just the suffering. So you can be joyful even if you’re not happy every single day.
First, what do you make of this answer? Does this capture for you the difference between joy and happiness? Or do the two mean something different for you? What about this idea of being joyful even in the midst of sadness or hard times? Given the state of the world over the last two years, have you still been able to experience joy, let alone happiness? In fact, when’s the last time you experienced joy? Or are you, like some of us here, not really sure what that means?
We’ll take on these questions, and probably a whole lot more, in our conversation this evening. Join us tonight at 313 Pizza Bar in downtown Lake Orion. The discussion begins at 7 pm.