Life Worth Living

with Miroslav Volf

What makes a good life? How would you answer that question? Not just life in the abstract… but what makes YOUR life good? Professor Miroslav Volf teaches a popular class at Yale University which guides students through these kinds of questions and might help us all think a little more deeply about what our lives are adding up to be.




In this conversation, Kate and Miroslav discuss:

  • Why just practicing the habits of a good life doesn’t make a life meaningful (hint: we need to be thinking about the ends)
  • Importance of asking questions we don’t always have the answers to
  • How to define joy
  • What does flourishing look like when we feel like we’re “losing”
  • How joy and suffering can coexist

On a personal note, this is a special interview for Kate because Miroslav was also her professor at Yale and someone she looks up to with joy and admiration.

Miroslav Volf

Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture in New Haven, Connecticut. He has written more than twenty books, including A Public Faith, Public Faith in Action, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World, and Exclusion and Embrace (winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion and selected as among the one hundred best religious books of the twentieth century by Christianity Today). His most written book is a Life worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most written by Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun, Ryan McNally-Linz.A member of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. and the Evangelical Church in Croatia, Professor Volf has been involved in international ecumenical dialogues (for instance, with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and interfaith dialogues (on the executive board of C-1 World Dialogue), and is active participant in the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.

Show Notes

What makes a good life? In the new book Life Worth Living, named after its authors’ highly sought-after undergraduate course, Volf, Croasmun, and McAnnally-Linz chart out this question, providing readers with jumping-off points, road maps, and habits of reflection for figuring out where their lives hold meaning and where things need to change.

Listen to Kate, Kelly Corrigan, and Claire Danes discuss Life Worth Living. 

Here, you can buy A Life Worth Living.

The Yale Center for Faith & Culture offers the Life Worth Living college course, which explores the shape of a flourishing life through diverse traditions: Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Utilitarianism, and Nietzscheanism.

The Stanford Life Design Lab applies design thinking to tacking the “wicked” problems of life and vocational way finding.

Learn more about Hartmut Rosa, a German sociologist who uses the imagery of a painter and their tools to talk about how to live the good life. Here is an article from about Rosa’s theory on how to live a good life.

Primo Levi was an Italia-Jewish writer and chemist, who wrote an autobiographical account of and reflections on his survival in the Nazi concentration camps. Read more about his life and works in this New Yorker article.

“Life is a well of joy; but for those out of whom an upset stomach speaks, which is the father of melancholy, all wells are poisoned.” Friedrich Nietzsche.

Dragutin Volf (1926-1999), is the father of Miroslav Volf, who embraced the gospel after experiencing “hell” in the concentration camps. He then dedicated his life to the service of the gospel and became a minister and theologian.

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Discussion Questions

What makes a good life? Grab a group of friends or start a book club to read this book and discuss alongside this discussion guide provided by the authors.

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Kate Bowler: What makes a good life? How would you answer that question? I mean, not just in the abstract, but what makes your life good? My name is Kate Bowler, and this is Everything Happens. I’m a professor, and the stuff I get unbelievably obsessed about is really just thinking about cultural scripts, the stories we tell ourselves to explain our suffering or our successes or whatever happens in between. And mostly my days involve scouring the billion-dollar American wellness industry to think about how it tries to sell us one version of this story of “best life now.” Which, as you can probably tell or probably already know, I don’t buy into. But there’s just something about how we live that’s really worth digging into here. The choices that we make, the disciplines or habits that we foster. How do we get inside of our realities and pointed towards something meaningful? So, in other words, instead of like a super hyper agency, “everything is possible,” instead, we really are trying to think about how do we live toward a deep goodness without optimizing or falling into those self-help sticky traps? How do we try and practice trying without all of a sudden realizing that we’re completing a 23-step skincare routine at night? And, you know, not doing the big stuff like, hey, you know, forgiving our sisters. How do we find hope and joy and meaning inside of our actual lives? Within all of our actual limitations? I wanted to ask someone that I love and respect about these deeper questions. Questions like what makes a life meaningful? What makes a life worth living? And where could we even begin to poke around for an answer like that? Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright professor of theology at Yale Divinity School and as the founder and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, he has written or edited more than 20 books, including Exclusion and Embrace (which I loved) and has been named one of the most important religious books of the 20th Century. And his most recent, Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most, which is absolutely beautiful and you will love it. That book got all kinds of exciting attention for every, every worthy reason. But on a personal note, this is a special interview for me because he was also my professor at Yale and someone who has dramatically shaped how I think. And I look up to him with joy and admiration. So, Miroslav. Oh, my gosh. Thank you for doing this with me today.

Miroslav Volf: Oh, it’s so fantastic to do it with you. You know, the pride of a teacher is for the student to have exceeded them in so many things. And that’s exactly what you have done. You’re amazing.

Kate: Well, thank you. I hope you can hear the sound of my heart exploding. I was so thrilled by the scope of this book and really the class that you’ve taught at Yale, where you just prompt and probe some of these really rich, deep questions. They’re sort of the ones that you almost remember talking about with your college roommate at 2 a.m. at the very beginning of college. When you allow yourself the indignity of starting to ask questions that you don’t always know the answer to. And then, of course, we start climbing ladders and running the rat race. And so I wondered, what are some of the good reasons to start asking what makes a life a good one?

Miroslav: You know, what makes a good life on is the question also of a kind of the goals of our lives. How would I imagine if I looked at my life from not simply its end, but from any point ten years from now or 20 years from now. If I looked back, what would I see? And, you know, to answer this question, you kind of have to set goals so that you trace and move in that trajectory. And we often ask those questions at the time of junctures in our lives and first year in freshman year in our college experiences is one of such experiences. Maybe also senior year is such a year as well. Maybe also there are other important junctures. One starts a family or one’s retiring. And so I think in varieties of settings, we are nudged to ask that question about our lives. And I think what I would desire most of all for us to be freed into asking the questions.

Kate: Yes, that’s right. It’s so embarrassing to not know, especially when, as you’re so good at describing, most of our values, which we think we hold, are in contradiction with other values we think we hold. So we’re not nearly as coherent as we imagine. I don’t think I would have started asking a question as big or almost as basic as “Why do bad things happen to good people?” until I was sort of humbled enough in my own life to say, well, I don’t think I can avoid asking one of the basic questions of my life. Will this work out? Did it matter if I was good at all? For people who are maybe facing down a cliff and want to start living with more intentionality, where do you think they should begin?

Miroslav: Situation of this sort is generally some kind of a crisis. It’s a cliff there in front of you. And first thing you think it’s going to be a terrible thing and maybe also it will. But I find if I keep myself open for the opportunity that might emerge, that’ll be a wonderful thing. And I found that in cases where I was open, that actually I was rewarded by a kind of shift in perspective. I allowed myself for the experience that seems a kind of unmitigated disaster to become a catalyst to something that’s more beautiful than what was before. Not that there wasn’t a loss, sometimes a very profound loss, but nonetheless there is a kind of gain as well.

Kate: Yeah, I don’t know the answer to this. When did you start asking these sorts of primary questions of your own life?

Miroslav: You know, it’s very interesting. I’m a Christian. If you ask me, when did I become one? I couldn’t quite tell you that. I could have told you about my rebellions. About how the gift of faith that I was being given by my parents was not beautiful enough, not intelligent enough. But it was kind of too heavy for me to to carry. I didn’t think I was quite ready for it. I think on a return from a trip to Sweden, for whatever reason, I have less started asking those questions than letting myself slide into inhabiting some of the answers, which then led me to ask the questions. Or I will put it this way. What happened is actually I went back to my school, where I ended up then as the only openly professing Christian kid in the school of about 3500. And when I returned back, they started asking, “What happened? Who? Whoa, whoa, whoa. We don’t recognize you.” And that’s where my questioning started of myself, guided in a sense by people’s puzzlement.

Kate: One of the places where you like to begin with the question, well, “What is a good life?” is by really thinking through what the typical answers would be. It’s efficiency or ambition or consumerism or, you know, my personal favorites of scholarly research, health, wealth, happiness. So will you describe first, like how we get sucked into making decisions in that way? Like that sort of contemporary version of a prosperity gospel? You described it as a lot like Walgreens, which made me so happy.

Miroslav: Yes. I mean, I think Walgreens has advertised it for us. And that advertisement of our kind of happy, healthy and also long life … that advertisement isn’t just Walgreens. Walgreens has articulated it, but that as a subtext of advertisements that we receive and are bombarded with from all sorts of sources and they latch on to something, I think something that’s really important in our lives. Who doesn’t want to be happy, even if you might not know what exactly happiness means? But we we aspire for it. Who doesn’t want to be healthy? Who doesn’t want to have a long life? Who doesn’t want to have a little bit of wealth? Because, of course, money is the consummate means. It’s funny thing about money, that money is worth absolutely nothing. Right? And yet it is a means to almost everything. And then we clearly we are fed objects that stimulate that original desires that we have and that sucks us in. And we become all about satisfying kind of surface desires that we have and that we have acquired without ever asking, what is it that I really want?

Kate: Yes. I love that you described this like “tangle,” happiness tangle … sort of science of happiness and eight hours of sleep equals, then you take your multivitamin and then you’re doing yoga. And all of these things are inherently good, of course, but you describe them as like inherently kind of circular. Then one leads to another and another sort of in an enclosed maze, but it never really gets you out of the maze. Congratulations. You now have a calm map.

Miroslav: “If you give a mouse a cookie” and so it goes with our lives. And you mentioned “rat race.” There’s kind of a hamster wheel vision of life and you just go and it turns. And the more you go, the more it turns. Or we have also used the image. I’m not sure that we use it in the book, but it’s one of my favorite images, comes from a German sociologist, Hartmut Rosa. He speaks of a painter. And life is like a work of an artist or of a painter. But of course, every painter has to have tools of the art of the craft. So a painter might start obsessing with different tools that the painter has, whether that’s brushes, whether that’s a kind of other furniture, furniture in the studio, whatever that might be, and obsesses so much thinking that once he or she has that nailed, then they could start painting. And it’s all concentrated on means to life rather than really pursuing the end of life. The goal of life, namely in this particular case, painting. And I think we find ourselves often in a situation of this sort, we pursue means and means slowly become ends and they swallow the other ends, more important ends, and suddenly we find ourselves obsessing about what is it that we are obsessing. Being having a really nice means, nice tools. Yeah, but having a lousy life.

Kate: Yes. But I’m optimizing, Miroslav. I’m optimizing right now. I’ve been working on this big history of self-help and, you know, health and wellness (kind of secular prosperity gospels) and so I’ve been reading decades of these 12-step plans for better lives. It’s wild how much it feels so intuitive … well, if I want to know what flourishing feels like, if I want a certain kind of vision of my family or my life or my career, well, it starts with a better morning. It starts with change your schedule, change your life. Are you really drinking enough water? Well, do you read The New York Times? I mean, there’s endless sort of class-based or I mean, for every demographic, it feels like there’s this optimized day and week and life that then can start to kind of consume the whole thing. Well, if I just mastered this vision of what it means to be a person, then I will suddenly feel fulfilled. Or it’s sort of like if I build all the right buckets, then all of a sudden, it will hold all the right things.

Miroslav: Is the sense you get from that literature that you’re reading, is that the goal is kind of intuitively given. And what the concern in the literature is, is how do you get there, whatever that “there” is. And the assumption is we know what that is.

Kate: Yeah, I think it’s it’s activation literature. It’s obsessed with the idea that life is a series of choices. Choices leading us to where? And I mean learning how to try, learning how to change anything in our life, it always does feel like a miracle to me when I see it up close. So agency is so it it seems like a baby being born every time I see anyone change. Thinking about your work, it really got me thinking how much of our, you know, literature and podcasts ostensibly about spirituality are teaching us how to change, but not telling us whether this person we’re turning into will inherently be better. I do think we just sort of assume that this well-hydrated, well-rested person is an inherently a good one.

Miroslav: Yeah. And, you know, and it’s not I mean, I don’t want to sound as if we don’t need tools. There is a reason why this kind of literature and these kinds of practices are popular because we actually often don’t have sufficient tools to achieve the ends that are worthy to be to be achieved. And that may be at the realm of psychological realm but like Stanford course design, your life isn’t so much psychological, right? It’s more, well, you’ve got certain kinds of ends that you want to reach in your career. Certain forms of of what one might describe as success. And you have to design your life for that. And so that’s kind of a psychological equivalent in the domain of performance, right? So you can perform better. And that seems to me all all quite right. And that we need to that’s what we teach our kids, right? That the first thing they need to learn how to walk. And then you can think about where it is that you want to end up walking. So that seems that that seems straight forward. But on the other hand, if we forget where it is that we are going, we might be experts in means, but we will be amatures in goals and ends. We might end up where we… What? Is that where ended up? So well and so successful in achieving what I wanted to achieve. And here I am.

Kate:  Yes. Yeah, that’s right.

(music break)

Kate: When we look at the reverse of this sort of happiness obsession and we look at what it means to live with what the world views as losing: illness, pain, grief, suffering. What what do you think that flourishing might look like when we are on the surface, losing in the game of life?

Miroslav: So am I might be too much shaped by my parents, their experiences, a very hard life. And in some circumstances that would have looked like a kind of permanent road of losing, or at least for long stretches of time. Something like the base goodness of life that they sought to first discover. And then sought to nurture in themself. And the connection with with that is, I think, what carried them through immensely difficult times. Especially, I think that’s true for my, for my father, who was in labor camp. A kind of sense that what surrounds you, the catastrophe in which you are the world within which you are, that that isn’t definitive of the world. That’s not just what the world is and so I have to simply resign myself to what it is. But at that behind it, above it, underneath it, there is a kind of a profound goodness that carries us in our our lives. And I think there is a kind of sense of self-inflation, of the negative. That kind of grows in front of our eyes and we can see the good but only see the negative. And the most interesting case for me of that is in some of the Holocaust literature and you’re familiar with Primo Levi, and I love his work as his account survival in Auschwitz. But then there’s a very interesting book where he traces after the liberation, he was liberated. He traces his road, meandering road back to Torino in Italy. And then the book ends with him arriving. And he’s arriving at this kind of normalcy right of life. And pretty soon he’s part of that normalcy. But then, he’s got what he calls a dream in the dream. He’s there in this normalcy and suddenly he has a dream of being transposed into Lager, into the concentration camp, and everything else around him kind of crumbles and acquires an air of unreality. And then the concentration camp becomes the definitive experience of reality. It’s almost as if the reality of the good which we experience is the dream, and the negative is the actual definitive reality. And I think it’s often essential for us not to let ourselves be tricked into the negative being the definitive of what is truly real and what carries us.

Kate: Yes. When you say negative, I’m thinking too of like, my friend Luke Brotherton always calls it like tragic time. When like it does have that surreal, crystalline quality and you sort of see all the seams of all the universe. And then it is almost impossible then to listen to people, you know, complain about bread prices, or throw birthday parties, or like it’s hard to switch. It’s hard to even even see ordinary joys when the really real is.

Miroslav: Right, right.

Kate: Everything you’ve lost, everything you’ve seen, everything you. Tell me more about your parents, Miroslav. How did they decide what the really real was?

Miroslav: Somebody talked to them. My father, my father grew up in the in in in that church and then left when he was ten years old. It’s basically he was a first, a servant boy. And then he worked was trained as a confectioner and lived since he was ten years old, he lived on his own. About 150, 200 kilometers from where his parents lived, and he was the only child. I think he came to understanding faith, remembering little experiences with both his father who was Catholic and his mother who was was a Baptist. He came to understanding of faith only when he was in this labor camp and somebody spoke to him about God’s love. And he cursed God for being so loving to him, for putting him into the labor camp. And in fact, that person kind of manifested that love toward my my father. So that here was another experience that made it possible to imagine for him, that in fact, there is something behind the horror that he was experiencing. That that isn’t definitive of reality, but that that, in fact, is a distortion of what is truly real. And that’s how he came to it. Basically, he was totally at the bottom. He was either going to lose his life or he’s going to accept this sense that there’s something more fundamental than this evil of which he became, in a sense, a reflection. Because sometimes when we are in difficult situation, whether that’s whether that’s a very painful situation or whether that is a kind of deep conflict, we kind of start mirror that with that which is done to us and it kind of comes out of us in many ways. And it’s often difficult to break that kind of this almost the the automatism which is imposed on us by the violation that we are experiencing. How does light come there? How does the sense of agency come there? How does the ability to see the good and then move above and outside of that emerge? And for him, it happened through the witness and practical, both practical and kind of spoken witness of this person. And suddenly he found himself in a different place.

Kate: I can’t get over what you said about he cursed God for the goodness.

Miroslav: So this person was describing God as, as love, right. And thank you for the kind of love that I’m experiencing. It’s hell for me. Basically, talk about God’s love elicited cursing of God for being so, now ironically stated, Loving.

Kate: Yeah. How dare you?

Miroslav: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Kate: Sometimes it really is in the furnace. Like it’s just in hell that you somehow know that if you feel the glimmer of love being even there, that to me is always a least that has been one of the few proofs I’ve ever had in my life of God’s intense reality. It’s like, if I can feel you, if I can feel your love here, even when I a little bit hate you for letting me go through this, then I know something about you and I know something of my own belovedness that I wouldn’t have known if it had just been on some, like, walk in the forest.

Miroslav: Yeah I think that that is that you describe really well what my father experienced. Uh, it’s, it’s kind of an it’s almost like a God has grown up enough not to take enough the rage that one has against God understanding why that rage is there, so that a person can be closer to God in anger than in worship of God. And that this kind of inner longing and rebellion against the the world for the one not being right, shouldn’t be simply taken as a rebellion, but as as a cry cry for actually response of love. And that that’s how my father experienced God precisely in the deepest hell he experienced himself as being somehow loved.

Kate: Oh, Miroslav. yeah. Yeah.

Kate: I think maybe the way our culture talks about joy, for example, would assume that someone like your dad or anybody else who was going through something awful just can’t be joyful. They can’t possibly feel like the lurch in their heart or some kind of. Those people. Sometimes I wonder if that sort of has assumed this very happiness centered belief that joy is almost like the bonus round. Of of having lived a good life is like, oh, you get to experience the fullness of your life in some way. And you speak about joy very differently. It doesn’t require happiness in that way, does it?

Miroslav: Yeah, or you can put this way, I think in terms of joy and in terms of suffering like one says. Why is it why would it be possible for walk and chew gum at the same time? Yeah. Why might it not be possible to suffer and experience joy at the same time. And, you know, answer to the question, why is it not possible? Is often. I think it often amounts to a sense that it’s a pleasure and pain, that except in extraordinary circumstances, they seem not to be so compatible, right. And basically how life is lived as you calculate amount of pleasure and amount of pain. And there has to be a significant absence of pain so that you can feel, feel pleasure. And this is a zero sum game. We can all in situations where that not the case, but but generally that’s how people think. And I don’t think that’s the case with the joy. And the reason for it is that joy is not simply a feeling. And then the mixture of feeling becomes very difficult. But joy is an emotion about something in our lives. And there can be many things, often conflicting things in our lives. I can rejoice in my child, but can be miserable because my friend is undergoing cancer treatment or something like that, right? And both can be true. Even when I am at the funeral. I could be profoundly sad for having loss, but also joyous for that person having lived such a rich life. Or having impacted me or others with his life. So that there is a sense in which I can rejoice and I can mourn. I can empathize and I can still rejoice. And these two things live together. And joy ends up also being something like almost anticipates making the world such that it is that the joy can spring from it.

Kate: Yeah, a launch pad. I never thought of that. What? You describe it as an eternity seeking thing. I love that.

Miroslav: Oh, yeah, I do. I stole it from Neitzsche.

Kate: Did you? Well, yes, yes, yes.

Miroslav: It has a slightly different understanding of joy.

Kate: Tell me.

Miroslav: Then, then, then I do. Well, for him, it’s I think it’s a more it’s a more zest for life. All right. I think what he what he has in mind is this zest for life, the livingness of the life itself, sort of speak that’s a really philosophical way of putting things.

Kate: No, I’m getting it. But it’s the super abundanceness. Yes.

Miroslav: Yes, yes, yes.

Kate: Yeah.

Miroslav: That’s what he what he feels that that wants eternity. I think that too is right, life when it’s really experienced in its liveliness. It wants to live. It wants to be.

Kate: Yeah, that exactly right. Yes, it does. Because I was thinking about all the things that make us, you know, especially in this, like, beautiful community of people who have accepted a high cost of being a person. Other than the people they care about what they’ve decided to love. I mean, they know that life is going to cost them a great deal. But these are also people who are like incredibly joyful. And if they don’t and also seek it and it’s just funny how, what a sideways goal joy is. Like, like if you were to, like, what makes a life worth living and you’re like, joy, because I kind of want you to say that always, because that’s what I would think. But yeah. But then it’s it’s such an indirect. It’s such, you know, it’d be hard to optimize for joy in a way that wasn’t just like another terrible happiness tangle. I mean, most of the things that bring us joy, our obligations, you know, are the are the kids that need us, the holding someone’s hand in the umm. The sweetness of a harmony layered on to another exquisite note. I mean, it’s. It’s just very hard to engineer some of the things that make life so unbelievably rich and then tell us about what we’re made for.

Miroslav: Yeah. I think that’s that’s really, really right. In some ways. I think in some ways you need to, you need to get the life right, to get the joy right. But even when you get the right life right, you might still not get the joy.

Kate: Yes. Oh, my gosh that’s exactly right. Yeah, totally.

Miroslav: And the reason for that is because joy and I this is my distinction and shared with, I think some but not universally shared joy is an emotion, which is which is to say that that there is something intentional about it. It’s not a reaction to something. If joy were a reaction I just had, I would just have to take care of circumstances and then they’ll feed.

Kate: Ta da!

Miroslav: Into joy. Ta da! here it is. Right? Yeah. But. But, joy, joy is a response. Yeah. Response to circumstances. So there is a world has to be set in a certain way. Or my world. So those of us who believe in God, God is a circumstance of our lives. It’s a kind of funny way to put it, right?

Kate: Yes,.

Miroslav: But. But it’s the most important circumstance of of life is the divine being who created and encompasses everything. And if you think of this as a circumstance of life, then that can give you a reason to rejoice, but you nonetheless need to learn how to see it in a certain way. How to respond in the right way. And so you nurture in our attitudes as well that then result in joy and circumstances and emotion then feed one another.

Kate: Yeah, that is a tricky way to talk about choice Miroslav, and I hear you, it is. We’re not going to say that we choose joy because then we’re back to like a fully. We get to pick all the emotions. Good people get to pick all the good emotions in their life. And that’s what, and then, and then we’re back to some, our faith in our life is just like a matter of engineering. We just set it up. Mind it up. Here we go. Yeah. And even if we just like you said, even if we set it all upright, we might not often even feel good about the lovely things. The sacrifices we’ve made, the hardships we’ve endured, and that had a great perspective on. I mean, we’re rarely going to. I mean, that’s so annoying about wisdom, right? Is that we don’t even get to experience the positive experential benefits of being wise. We mostly just get to have retrospective, retrospective superiority. But there is this funny balance between trying to a stretch out your heart with having made certain choices and then trust that into us will be filled all kinds of love and surprise. You did this interview with your advisor, the incredible Jurgen Maltmann, about joy one time, and he said the cutest thing, if I can describe that formidable man is cute. But when he was talking about how he experienced joy, it seemed obvious to me that he experienced it because he’d been loved. Like, just he knew. He knew what faithful long, yeah, standing love felt like. And he used this lovely German word, which I will not remember but like because I am beheld. It was so sweet. I am beheld was the one, in one word, beheldness. And he said something like, well it’s not because I’m so beautiful. It’s because I am, you know. And that’s sometimes, to me, the one of the only benefits we get for having maybe done the right thing or acted in the right way is, we get those sideways feelings of other people pouring back into us. Love, hope, etc.. And then there we are.

Miroslav: And sometimes also when we don’t. That is to say, act in the right way. Sometimes when we are captive to our own impulses or when we are captive to what other people have done to us when our, capacity for agency has been severely diminished, or it may be there to go in one direction, but not there to go in another direction. I kind of sense that even then, in a profound sense, one can discover oneself as being loved so that my own actions don’t have the last word about myself. But somebody’s investment with love in my life has maybe the last word. Even if I when I can’t stand myself, that I can be pulled out of myself by some other force. And I think that’s what the Jurgen was talking about, this kind of idea of God’s love that is there, irrespective of how skillful we are to engineer our emotions, and our circumstances, and then have them meet somewhere happily together. And that seems to me much more in some ways important. That’s I’m speaking now as a Christian, that’s probably if you asked me, why am I Christian? Well, I think that’s what I would probably say at the most deepest level because I and we all are unconditionally loved without being left to remain brats that we sometimes are. Yes. And are pulled into something that’s larger than we are ourselves and into joy, into beauty, into friendships, into extraordinary things that we all deserve and none of us absolutely deserves you know.

Kate: I really like that image of just being dragged into it. Just. Yeah, that’s perfect. That’s perfect. Miroslav,.

Kate: You might have been listening to this conversation and thought, great you convinced me I want to live a life worth living. I want to ask these questions. These conversations are worth having. But where would I begin? Well, I’m so glad you asked. Miroslav and his colleagues at Yale have written this wonderful book that doesn’t pretend to have the answers, but instead prompts better, richer, deeper questions about finding meaning and purpose inside our actual lives and our actual limitations. It’s called Life Worth Living, and it’s the perfect guide to use with friends or family to have these kinds of meaningful conversations. My friend Kelly Corrigan loves it too. And like, seriously, she loved it so much that she narrated the audiobook. Kelly asked if I would join in with like a little informal book club where we talk about what we’ve been wondering, and asking, and changing after reading it. So okay, ba dump bump cha, big reveal. I sat down with her and the brilliant actress and my absolute nineties obsession, Claire Danes. Yes. Claire Danes from Homeland, you might have seen her. Or if you are a 42 year old woman you went through your adolescence watching the show, My So-called Life. So, yes, Kelly and I sat down with Claire Danes to do just that, to have a conversation about meaning and purpose and making sense of our limited choices and actual lives. So you can join in with us for the next few weeks as we discuss what makes a life worth living. Who are we responsible to? Who are we responsible for? How do we keep going when we screw it all up? Yes. All that and more just like a super light topic for a Tuesday. And of course, we would love to have you join along. So here’s what you can do. Go pick up a copy of Miroslav new book, Life Worth Living. We’ve linked a few places to purchase it in the show notes. And find, you know, someone that you want to talk about this with, grab some family, or friends or if you want to do it by yourself, just start reading. And then over the next few weeks we will release podcast episodes where you can hear Kelly and Clare and me discuss what nuggets of wisdom stuck with us from this beautiful book. So we hope you’ll grab a neighbor or a friend or a coworker or a partner or really just think it through on your own. There are discussion questions linked in the show notes at Kate Okay, well, let’s get reading and I’ll talk to you next week. All right. Bless you, my dears.

Kate: This episode of the Everything Happens podcast was made possible because of our generous partners Lilly Endowment, The Duke Endowment, Duke Divinity School and Leadership Education. And of course, nothing is possible without the wisdom and expertise of my absolutely fabulous team. Jessica Richiie, my Heart, I Love You. Harriet Putman. Keith Weston. Gwen Heginbotham. Brenda Thompson, Hope Anderson, Jeb Bert and Katherine Smith. This really is my very favorite kind of group project. So if you want to know what else we’re up to, head over to keep so you don’t miss a thing. I would really love to hear what you thought about this episode. Would you consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify? It means a ton to us when we hear what you liked or who you want to hear in conversation next. Also, we really love hearing your voice. Feel free to leave us a voicemail. We might even use it on the air. So call us at 919-322-8731. All right, Lovelies. I’ll talk to you next week. But in the meantime, come find me online at Kate C. Bowler. This is Everything Happens with me, Kate Bowler.

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