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Episode Summary

“Gratitude enlivens the world.” (Miroslav Volf) Gratitude is the emotional expression of the interchange of love between giver and receiver. So of course we’re looking for more of that in public—it’s the very evidence of giving to one another, grace with each other, beneficence for one another. In this conversation, Miroslav Volf and Evan Rosa discuss this remarkable interchange of love between giver and receiver that leads to gratitude. They discuss the meaning of gratitude in emotional, moral, and theological terms; and he introduces a variety of views on gratitude, from the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, to Thomas Aquinas, to Anthony Kronman’s “born-again pagan” critique of Christian gratitude, and finally Martin Luther’s take on gratitude which draws on the Magnificat of Mary, which Miroslav expounds. Special thanks to the Gratitude to God Project for helping to make this episode possible.

Episode Notes

“Gratitude enlivens the world.”

Gratitude is the emotional expression of the interchange of love between giver and receiver. So of course we’re looking for more of that in public—it’s the very evidence of giving to one another, grace with each other, beneficence for one another. In this conversation, Miroslav Volf and Evan Rosa discuss this remarkable interchange of love between giver and receiver that leads to gratitude.

They discuss the meaning of gratitude in emotional, moral, and theological terms; and he introduces a variety of views on gratitude, from the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, to Thomas Aquinas, to Anthony Kronman’s “born-again pagan” critique of Christian gratitude, and finally Martin Luther’s take on gratitude which draws on the Magnificat of Mary, which Miroslav expounds.

Special thanks to the Gratitude to God Project for helping to make this episode possible.

Show Notes

  • Show Art: Henry Ossawa Tanner, "The Thankful Poor", 1894
  • Happy Thanksgiving from the Yale Center for Faith & Culture!
  • Gratitude to God Project Website: Psychological, Philosophical and Theological Investigations
  • Gratitude as a moral emotion
  • “identification of the good for which we should be grateful.”
  • The Pharisee & the Tax Collector
  • Looking inside the figures of scripture.
  • The performance of gratitude
  • Why does gratitude seem so important or basic in spiritual life?
  • “We should be grateful to our parents for having brought us into the world, raised us, spent all these incredibly long, wakeful hours at the beginning of our lives; and many, many more, many hours and days of worries, gratitude is appropriate. How much then more not to God, to whom we owe everything?”
  • Repayment of a debt
  • Anthony Kronman, Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan
  • Is gratitude too heavy a burden? To somehow pay back God for the gifts of the world?
  • Gratitude not as repayment, but as giving an equivalent gift
  • John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost
  • Abysmal Gap Between God and Creature
  • Aquinas on Gratitude
  • Receiving a benefit
  • Feeling thankfulness
  • Repaying a favor suitably, and according to our means
  • The Widow’s Mites
  • Joyful recognition
  • Recognize that what we have received is in fact a gift
  • Recognizing the moral worth of the giver on account of the moral worth of the deed
  • I receive the gift not with grumpiness, but with joy—over the giver, over the gift, and spilling over into other aspects of the relationship
  • Understanding Martin Luther’s Theology of Gratitude
  • Kronman’s misreading of Luther
  • Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation: “The love of God does not find, but creates what is pleasing to it.”
  • “But if you have somebody who truly gives, selflessly, gifts—then it's a kind of insult to them if you want to treat them as if they were trying to get something out of you for that.”
  • Misconstruing the relationship between giver and receiver.
  • Thomas Hobbs
  • “A circle of mutual benefit” where the person who has power dominates
  • The dearth of gratitude in public life today
  • Luther on Mary’s Magnificat and “God’s gift-giving to the nobodies of the world”
  • “No one can love God unless God makes himself known to that person in the most lovable and intimate fashion. And God can make himself known only through those works of his which he reveals in us, and which we feel and experience within ourselves. But where there is this experience, namely, that he is a God who looks into the depths and helps only the poor, despised, afflicted, miserable, forsaken, and those who are nothing, there the hearty love for him is born. The heart overflows with gladness and goes leaping and dancing for the great pleasure it has found in God.” (from Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Magnificat)
  • “God is the one who, in humility, always reaches to that which is lower than God in order to lift it up. And that's how he comes to the nobodies, to the despised, which are primarily the objects of God's love.”

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Miroslav Volf
  • Special thanks to Robert Emmons, Pete Hill, and the Gratitude to God Project for helping make this episode possible
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Macie Bridge
  • 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

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