“Happy” Easter: A fundamental truth

“Happy” in Kiev

I heard from so many people that they had added thoughts from my Huffington Post “Is Easter ‘Happy’?” column to their Easter sermons.  Getting this feedback from people is my favorite thing about writing in the public square.

“Happiness is the truth” is one line from Pharrell’s “Happy,” that stands out for people who are making these connections. The idea is that you can vividly see the truth of happiness when it is being claimed by people living under repressive regimes, or under threat, as in the version from Kiev.

Context matters so much in theology.  Being “happy” about getting the latest consumer item, or claiming your right to be “happy” in the face of the threat of domination and oppression, are polar opposites.

This spring semester, I have been teaching a course called “The New Social Gospel,” and I think for both the students and for me, the contextual nature of theology in the United States has never been clearer.  Either you are willing to see the real context of the deliberate infliction of economic suffering on the majority of people, or you are willing yourself not to see.

You can’t fight a war when you don’t know even know it’s going on.

Easter is a word about the macro-struggle of human history, the conflicts between life and death, happiness and repression.

And that word is the “yes” of God against the “no” of Empire.

And that’s not even the best news of Easter.  What’s really great is we know the end of the story.


About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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2 Responses to “Happy” Easter: A fundamental truth

  1. boblane says:

    Thanks Very much, Susan. This Easter, prompted by our minister’s message, I was struck by the women who went to jesus’ tomb. They went to the place of death, of death in resistance to injustice and brutal imperial power, and they discovered that that power does not have the last word, that injustice does not have the final say. They went to the place of death and there they found hope and life and a deeper meaning for humanity and history. Don’t we have to retrace their steps? Don’t we have to go the place where people suffer, where the principalities and powers have inflicted pain and death? We have to go there, to be with those who are suffering, who confront death in their lives, who are the victims’ of power’s brutality, before we can discover the true meaning and vital power of justice. We have to go there because finally that is where we can discover, not just its power, but its joy — the joy of walking in solidarity with those who struggle, with the left behind and the left out, with all those Jesus called ‘the least.’ We have to go there to find our humanity and to live into its truth. — Bob Lane

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