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God and the Art of Happiness
HARDCOVER; Published: 12/3/2010
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6032-3
Price: $ 35.00
316 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6x9
Western Christians are generally skittish about happiness, observes Ellen Charry. They live in the hope of heaven but are somewhat nervous about experiencing too much joy this side of paradise. Charry's God and the Art of Happiness questions this way of thinking, reviewing the history of the theological conversation about happiness and offering a constructive proposal for considering it anew.

After taking an introductory look at ancient Greek philosophy, Charry surveys the treatment of God and happiness throughout the history of Christian thought, from Saint Augustine through the eighteenth century. She then explores the biblical vision of happiness in the Pentateuch, Psalms, Proverbs, and the Gospel of John, clearly showing how the Bible encourages the happiness and flourishing that accompany obedience to the Creator. For those living in the beauty of holiness and divine love, she argues, this world is no "vale of tears" -- and there need be no conflict between pleasure and piety, between goodness and happiness.

Rising from the ashes of deep personal pain and loss, this highly original theology of the Christian life offers comfort, encouragement, and healing for all who long to experience true happiness here and now.

David F. Ford
— University of Cambridge
"Ellen Charry has the gift of making deep connections between theology and ordinary life. In happiness she has identified a wonderful theme through which to explore some of the heights and depths of human existence. She revels in her topic and constantly draws the reader into fruitful, wise reflection on important matters."
Iain R. Torrance
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"A frequently voiced complaint today is that academic theology writes only for its own guilds and too often tumbles into an ugly and lazy jargon-ridden abstraction. In this subtle, nuanced book, born from both hope and personal anguish, Ellen Charry reconnects knowledge and healing, thereby responding to a deep need."
John Witte Jr.
— Emory University
"This original and powerfully argued book is destined to become a standard cite for scholars of theology and ethics. Ellen Charry critically reviews the idea of happiness in Scripture and tradition, with a particularly interesting analysis of Anglican divine Joseph Butler. What makes the book memorable, however, is its innovative teaching of 'asherism.' Asherism avoids the dangers of self-denying agapism and self-serving eudaemonism by confirming our perennial need to love God, neighbor, and self at once and to live out our lives and vocations by the letter, spirit, and telos of both the law and the gospel."
Christianity Today
"Charry reframes Christian notions of happiness. . . . Invaluable book."
Publishers Weekly
"Charry concludes that happiness is celebrating our own spiritual growth and well-being and God's enjoyment of these. . . . Thoughtful and engaging."
Library Journal
"This book, which blends academic rigor with personal anecdote and biblical example, will appeal to readers of theology, both at the level of pulpit and pew."
Stone-Campbell Journal
"Rich in biblical and pastoral insights. . . . This book is highly recommended for pastors' and seminary libraries."
Journal of Psychology and Christianity
"This is a very important book."
Theological Book Review
"Charry's coverage of a wide range of sources sheds much light on the timely subject. . . . An informed study of how thinkers across the centuries have wrestled with the tension between eschatological happiness and temporal flourishing."
Religious Studies Review
"A rewarding read that helpfully elucidates a Christian notion of flourishing that is both creational and eschatological."