New on Splice today, I have a long, ruminative essay on the humanist politics of Marilynne Robinson (and the work of Zadie Smith, Susan Sontag, and J.M. Coetzee) with a particular focus on Robinson’s most recent collection of essays, What Are We Doing Here?:
Humanism is, for Robinson, the greatest good, the ultimate end of a life whose necessary foundation is productive labour, and it is also absolutely inseparable from serious theology. Robinson’s religious view of humanism thus lends itself to at least a defence, if not a practice, of the liberal arts: the arts and humanities, after all, are an expression of human potential, of the plenitude of the human imagination, and are thereby an implicit indication of the nature and values of a superior being. Insofar as theology aims to understand the divine through the observable world, the arts and humanities are evidence of the capabilities of the creatures at the pinnacle of everything created by divine power: “a powerful testimony to human capacities, human grandeur, the divine in the human”.
This is actually the second long essay I’ve written about Robinson’s essays; the last, written upon the publication of The Givenness of Things, is available at Medium.