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 both 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.