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The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne…
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The Givenness of Things: Essays

by Marilynne Robinson

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The spirit of our times can appear to be one of joyless urgency. As a culture we have become less interested in the exploration of the glorious mind, and more interested in creating technologies for material well-being. But while cultural pessimism is always fashionable, there is still much to give us hope. In The Givenness of Things, Marilynne Robinson delivers an impassioned critique of our contemporary society while arguing that reverence must be given to who we are and what we are: creatures of singular interest and value, despite our errors and depredations. Robinson has plumbed the depths of the human spirit in her award-winning novels, and in her new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern predicament and the mysteries of faith. These seventeen essays examine the ideas that have inspired and provoked one of our finest writers throughout her life. Whether she is investigating how the work of the great thinkers of the past--Calvin, Locke, Bonhoeffer, and Shakespeare--can infuse our lives, or calling attention to the rise of the self-declared élite in American religious and political life, Robinson's peerless prose and boundless humanity are on display. Exquisite and bold, this is a call for us to find wisdom and guidance in our cultural heritage, and to offer grace to one another--Adapted from book jacket.
  St-Johns-Episcopal | Apr 4, 2017 |
Marilynne Robinson does this thing where she writes sentences so exquisite they make my jaw ache. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
THE GIVENNESS OF THINGS is easily one of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read. In each of the 17 essays takes on fear, gun culture, scientific exploration, the Religious Right, and other prominent issues in modern day America - in a very erudite way. The most striking essays, for me, were "Humanism", "Awakening", "Fear", "Proofs", and "Experience". The author, herself, identifies as a person of faith but has a decidedly humanistic perspective on the world. It is a refreshing and beautiful collection. ( )
  BooksForYears | Aug 2, 2016 |
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Robinson’s heroic lamentation is magnificent. Yet for me something crucial was missing: There is no sustained discussion of America’s relationship with other nations. ..... Robinson’s insistence, throughout these essays, that we recognize the limitations of our knowledge is timely and important. She is acutely aware that the “us and them” mentality, so prevalent in modern political discourse, is dangerous, false and unsustainable, and that it is essential that we cultivate “a respectful awareness of lives lived otherwise.” Yet sometimes she herself pulls back from the “given,” as when she wonders, with some trepidation, if those who do not know Christ can enjoy the ultimate good promised to the Christian. She concludes, tentatively, that because they participate in God’s world, they must somehow be included in God’s providence. This solution may have been acceptable in Calvin’s time. But after studying the profundity and richness of world religions for over 20 years, I can no longer believe that any one faith has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. ... Robinson rarely mentions other religious traditions specifically; when she does, however, she is seldom complimentary. She seems to have inherited from Calvin an anti-Catholic bias — her discussion of the Huguenot tragedy, for example, is one-­sided and fails to take into account the recent scholarship clarifying that in this complex struggle there was bigotry on both sides and that it is impossible to divide 16th-­century France into neat communities of Catholics and Protestants. She is extremely (and in my view inappropriately) scathing about ancient Near Eastern mythology. Yet she approvingly cites William James’s warning that “we should never assume that our knowledge of anything is more than partial.” This must — surely? — mean that no tradition can have the last word on the ineffable.
 
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For Bob and Peg Boyers,

with much love and many thanks.
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Humanism was the particular glory of the Renaissance.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374298475, Hardcover)

The spirit of our times can appear to be one of joyless urgency. As a culture we have become less interested in the exploration of the glorious mind, and more interested in creating and mastering technologies that will yield material well-being. But while cultural pessimism is always fashionable, there is still much to give us hope. In The Givenness of Things, the incomparable Marilynne Robinson delivers an impassioned critique of our contemporary society while arguing that reverence must be given to who we are and what we are: creatures of singular interest and value, despite our errors and depredations.

Robinson has plumbed the depths of the human spirit in her novels, including the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Lila and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead, and in her new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern predicament and the mysteries of faith. These seventeen essays examine the ideas that have inspired and provoked one of our finest writers throughout her life. Whether she is investigating how the work of the great thinkers of the past, Calvin, Locke, Bonhoeffer--and Shakespeare--can infuse our lives, or calling attention to the rise of the self-declared elite in American religious and political life, Robinson's peerless prose and boundless humanity are on display. Exquisite and bold, The Givenness of Things is a necessary call for us to find wisdom and guidance in our cultural heritage, and to offer grace to one another.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:45:04 -0400)

The spirit of our times can appear to be one of joyless urgency. As a culture we have become less interested in the exploration of the glorious mind, and more interested in creating technologies for material well-being. But while cultural pessimism is always fashionable, there is still much to give us hope. In The Givenness of Things, Marilynne Robinson delivers an impassioned critique of our contemporary society while arguing that reverence must be given to who we are and what we are: creatures of singular interest and value, despite our errors and depredations. Robinson has plumbed the depths of the human spirit in her award-winning novels, and in her new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern predicament and the mysteries of faith. These seventeen essays examine the ideas that have inspired and provoked one of our finest writers throughout her life. Whether she is investigating how the work of the great thinkers of the past--Calvin, Locke, Bonhoeffer, and Shakespeare--can infuse our lives, or calling attention to the rise of the self-declared lite in American religious and political life, Robinson's peerless prose and boundless humanity are on display. Exquisite and bold, this is a call for us to find wisdom and guidance in our cultural heritage, and to offer grace to one another.--Adapted from book jacket.… (more)

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