Marilynne Robinson tagged posts

A Sermon on “Fiction and the Religious Imagination”

Once a year or so, I’ll fill the pulpit for a lay-led service at my home church, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Santa Rosa. Today was one those days, with the sermon title as noted above.

Oh, what a long, strange and compelling story humanity has written for itself over the eons! Some of this story is reflected in our history books—especially those weighty tomes that tend to sit on our shelves for decades collecting heavy carpets of dust. Under the dust, we can barely make out grandiose titles like The Story of Man…or Civilization. Or, if you want to get more micro about it:  Copper Crucible: How the Arizona Miners’ Strike of 1983 Recast Labor-Management Relations in America.

But there is another class of stories within the narrative of history. Another way of telling humanity’s tale. Rather than focusing on external events—who, what, when, where, why?—this way focuses on internal eve...

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A Happy Anniversary Feedback Request

I launched this blog one year ago yesterday with a long and somewhat dense essay on the work of novelist and critic Marilynne Robinson. The post likely heartened the lit majors and frightened away most casual readers who had perhaps been hoping for some friendly daily diary entry or witty reflections on my cat. (Note to readers: love my cat, don’t do cat columns, though in the interests of reportorial honesty, I should probably mention that the dude keeps jumping up on my chest as I type these words, conveniently wedging himself between my eyes and my laptop, my chin resting on his nose as he purrs like an industrial machine. This makes it quite comfy for him but exceedingly difficult for me to see my screen.)

(So does this now qualify as a cat column?)

Anyway: soon after launching the blog and circling around what it wanted to address, sound and look like, I got a fine piece of advice from a colleague: “W...

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Humanity Enraptured and Exposed: The Novels and Essays of Marilynne Robinson

A note to readers: This essay is both longer and more formal than pretty much everything that will follow it on this blog. (I promise.) But I spent a good part of the past year poring over Marilynne Robinson’s work as part of a reading group with two minister friends of mine, and I told myself I’d surely be damned if I didn’t express the product of those labors somewhere. (My friends agreed.) So here it is.

With seven books in 31 years, Marilynne Robinson is far from our most prolific writer—but she is certainly one of our most serious. Popularly under-appreciated but critically acclaimed, Robinson projects unflagging seriousness both in her personal manner and in the moral and intellectual content of her three novels and four non-fiction collections.

Not for her the thrill of death-defying action or rat-a-tat plot lines to keep beach and airport readers turning the page...

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