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The Givenness of Things: Essays af Marilynne…

The Givenness of Things: Essays (udgave 2016)

af Marilynne Robinson (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
474949,343 (3.79)8
Essays hvor forfatteren undersøger ideer fra store tænkere, som har inspireret og provokeret hende igennem livet - bl.a. Shakespeare, Locke og Calvin - og leverer samtidig en passioneret kritik af vores samfund i dag: fra vores afhængighed af teknologi til vores materialisme. Og hun undrer sig over hvordan såkaldte kristne samfund kan afvige så meget fra Kristi-lære.… (mere)
Titel:The Givenness of Things: Essays
Forfattere:Marilynne Robinson (Forfatter)
Info:Picador (2016), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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The Givenness of Things: Essays af Marilynne Robinson


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Viser 1-5 af 9 (næste | vis alle)
It's took me so long to read this because the first one third of the book was so difficult to get into. The writing isn't entirely academic but it isn't entirely approachable. And so I set the book aside. But I came back to it when one of the book reviewer's in the New York Times cited this book as one that the president-elect should read. So I came back and I struggled until I got to the essay entitled "awareness.". From that point forward, while not easy, the essays were very relevant to the state of our society and I then understood the value in the reading, culturally, of a book that deals with a great amount of theology. I'm glad I came back to it and I would have rated it higher if not for the essays prior to "Awareness" that nearly had me donating it to the library incomplete. ( )
  houghtonjr | Jan 1, 2022 |
I picked this book up on a whim at a local bookstore because the cover looked vaguely comforting, and I was deeply in need of vaguely comforting reading. I've never read Robinson before; if I had, I would have known that she is a religious writer. As it was, the fact that this is a collection of religious essays took me completely by surprise.

I still read it, since I'd paid for it; but it was not vaguely comforting. It was, by turns, fabulous and intensely frustrating.

Robinson is a gifted writer, who is far too much in love with long words, especially 'ontological.' If I never ever read something with 'ontological' in it ever again, I will be happy. When she's not trying to pound the reader over the head with her PhD and writes in plain English, her prose is beautiful.

The middle essays are stunning. She writes persuasively and beautifully about history, particularly theological history, how it contrasts with the present religious context, and where there are problems. Keep in mind I am completely untutored in theological history, so it's quite possible that she made it all up. I have no way of knowing. But if so, she did it well.

And one gets so used to religious writings of any kind hyperventilating over the One Truth and the importance of everyone believing in the same kind of God, and worshiping him in the same way, that it was refreshing and encouraging to read a whole bunch of religious essays in a row where the author dismisses out of hand the possibility that a just and loving God would send a lot of people to eternal hellfire for worshiping a different God in a different way.

But she should never be allowed to write on any scientific topics ever again. Publishers, should you read this, please just politely tell her no.

She writes about science in two ways in this essay collection. And she writes about science in these two ways over and over again. It is beyond repetitive. It's more like perseverating. She's perseverating on science and religion, in two contradictory ways, without realizing that they're contradictory.

First: No one can say that x, y or z are impossible when quantum mechanics shows the universe to work in such unexpected ways. Therefore, maybe God, heaven, Jesus, angels, the soul, etc. are all real. No one can say otherwise both because proving a negative is impossible and also, Physics!

Technically this is a fine interpretation of reality. But this technically fine interpretation of reality is also used to support quack medicine of all types, and multi-billionaire self-help gurus who peddle such nonsense as "think yourself rich!" and "what you want hard enough becomes reality!" It's a sign of shoddy thinking and a poor understanding of science to use any kind of science to support any kind of faith. Metaphysics and Physics are NOT the same thing, even if they do share syllables. Science, any kind of science, depends on testable hypotheses; religion and faith produce no testable hypotheses. One may be able to conduct science by examining the mechanisms of particular religious ideas or practices, just as one may be able to examine the mechanisms of particular art practices or responses through science; but just as science cannot be used to prove or disprove the reality of Art or the individual artistic experience, science cannot be used to prove or disprove the reality of Faith or the individual religious experience. And it shouldn't be tried. EVER.

Second: How dare those awful neuroscientists conduct science that does not acknowledge the mind, the Self, and the Soul! Horrid materialists! How can't they accept the givenness of these central experiences? The soaring superiority of humankind?

Oy vey. I don't even know where to begin with this one.

If you are sympathetic to science at all and you decide to read this book, just skip five pages whenever the word "neuroscience" or "neuroscientist" comes up. You'll save yourself an awful lot of aggravation.

If you've never read any neuroscience, then please, please, please; do yourself the favour of reading some conducted by neuroscientists. She gets it all wrong.

On one page she declares her belief that humanity is very likely the preeminent achievement of the entire Universe. If you don't agree with this, you're not likely to find much here for you. I find it shockingly arrogant, personally.

But back to her actual contention, neuroscientists don't accept these things as givens because THAT'S NOT WHAT SCIENCE DOES. You form a hypothesis, test it, and perhaps reject the hypothesis. But this incessant complaining of Robinson's, read together with her belief in the superiority of people generally, makes it pretty clear that what she's rejecting is any possibility that science might in any way undercut the centrality or specialness of human beings.

The worst, though, is combining the first with the second and realizing that they are completely contradictory:

When she talks about physics in support of her personal metaphysics, she's perfectly comfortable with throwing the givenness of all manner of daily life out the window. Solidity? Not real. Gravity? Weirdly weak. Particles being entangled through space? She can deal with that. What a fantastically weird universe!

But then when it comes to the human mind/self/soul, she cannot in any way brook any conclusion that the givenness of our daily life is not sacrosanct.

It's one or the other, Robinson. You can't have it both ways.

I wish the collection had ended on a better note. If the middle chunk of the book were presented instead at the end, I'd have left it with a better impression and would have had more positive things to say. As it is, I'll be giving this book away, and not reading her other work. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
Plenty of insights are here, especially for the reflective amateur philosopher-theologian, but the language is almost prohibitively academic. For a while I would I find myself slogging through and glossing over, and a moment later I would find myself stopped, stunned, then running to the computer to type out a momentous passage.

Good luck, brave readers and thinkers. The rewards were worth the work to me, but they won't be for everyone. ( )
  rhowens | Nov 26, 2019 |
Summary: A collection of essays drawn from various lectures questioning our prevailing ideas through the lens of John Calvin, and others in the Reformed and Humanist tradition.

If you have read Marilynne Robinson's fiction, you have the sense that there is a world of theological thought undergirding her narratives, particularly reflected in her lead character, Reverend John Ames. To read her essays is to enter into that rich theological world, and the extent to which this woman reads.

It is also to experience a voice that seems from another time, questioning our prevailing ways of thought. Like C. S. Lewis, Robinson is a reader of old books, particularly old theologians like John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, and she allows these voices of another time to question our accepted ways of looking at things.

One example is the essay from which the title of this collection is drawn, "Givenness." The essay focuses around the ideas of Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections and the intrinsic character of the affections of love, joy, hope, desire, and others in our experience of faith. Here, and in other essays, she argues against the scientific reductionism that reduces the affections to the firing of neurons. Similarly, the opening essay on "Humanism" describes the glories of the works of the mind that came out of the Renaissance, and challenges the reductionism that would explain all of this through evolutionary mechanisms and physical processes. It is not that she is anti-science. It is obvious that her reading includes and delights in a great deal of science writing. It is the scientism that asserts hegemony over all domains of human experience to which she objects.

The book consists of seventeen essays, most with one word titles like "Reformation," Servanthood," or "Limitation." Perhaps the most striking for me was her essay on "Fear." These statements were particularly arresting:

"First, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind....As Christians we are to believe that we are to fear not the death of our bodies but the loss of our souls" (p. 125).

She explores how this drives the fearful nationalism evident even when she was writing these essays, and the stress on preserving and extending the Second Amendment in the acquisition and proposed "right" to concealed carry. She also wonders about the financial interests exploiting this culture of fear.

Her essay on "Theology" explores not only theologians like Jonathan Edwards, but the theological content of the plays of William Shakespeare (whetting my appetite to read some Shakespeare). She explores particularly the ways Shakespeare handles reconciliation and matters of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

These are simply tastes of what you will find in this rich collection representing Robinson's thought. Prepare to read rigorously, and to explore the intellectual by-paths Robinson will take in exploring an idea. One must pay close attention to follow the thread of her arguments. Again, like Lewis, one has the sense that she brings everything she has read to anything that she says.

Finally, the book concludes with a two-part conversation with Barack Obama while he was president. As much as anything, he is interviewing her and what a delight to listen in on this wide-ranging conversation between two literate persons. One of the moments that reflected one of the president's deep regrets was his struggle to close the gap between Washington and Main Street, the ways we engage with each other in everyday life, and the distance between that and our political discourse--our compassion toward the needy near us and our fears of "them" -- a comment evoked by Robinson's essay on fear.

One might critique her essays as reflecting a very Euro-American focus and a lack of engagement with writers outside the Western theological, philosophical and literary canon. There may well be some validity in that critique, but perhaps she is doing something very similar to those calling for other voices, in drawing on voices no longer a part of our cultural discourse, and who speak to our contemporary ideas from another perspective, and from another time. ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 2, 2019 |
I barely kept up with this smart collection of essays, and that's one of the things I love about it--It totally stretched my mind. Marilynne Robinson presents an ontology centered squarely on our ability to know and recognize the gift in (of?) all things. She draws on Shakespeare and Calvin to argue for the humanities and an expansive Christianity, that would recognize and honor the soul in all all human struggles, and against fear, especially as it is used in politics to divide us and make us small. In this light one might be convinced to take seriously the idea that (as Neil Young sings) even Richard Nixon (or Donald Trump) has got soul, and that working with that may do us good. ( )
  pdever | Mar 3, 2019 |
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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.
tilføjet af rybie2 | RedigerNew York Times, Karen Armstrong (Dec 7, 2015)
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Essays hvor forfatteren undersøger ideer fra store tænkere, som har inspireret og provokeret hende igennem livet - bl.a. Shakespeare, Locke og Calvin - og leverer samtidig en passioneret kritik af vores samfund i dag: fra vores afhængighed af teknologi til vores materialisme. Og hun undrer sig over hvordan såkaldte kristne samfund kan afvige så meget fra Kristi-lære.

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