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A World Without Values

If we are to be blindsided by history, it will probably be the consequence not of unresolved disputes but of unexamined consensus.

The Givenness of Things,

p I82

A reflection upon Marilynne Robinson's The Givenness of Things

This book of essays by Marilynne Robinson really challenged me this Lenten season. Over four sessions, on a Sunday, a group of us have been meeting at St Peter's Eastern Hill and focused on four different chapters.

In terms of Robinson’s social, political, intellectual and spiritual considerations, I resonate. Her words are firmly and morally premised on a love for humanity, which comes out of the Gospels. Her fresh expression, the confident, concise, subtle nature of her thought patterns, I have also delighted in.

Where I’m challenged is in the actual breadth of her knowledge. She seems to be as at home in the discourse of science as she is with politics or Calvinism. I feel as though in these Lenten sessions we have barely scraped the surface of her thinking, and I have felt a certain unease and quiet frustration with this. And yet, always Robinson’s at-homeness in these spheres admits to gaps in knowledge, and, at times her confession to being ‘grossly inadequate’. I take her words as genuine - she reminds us that she is not an historian, a scientist, a politician.