The Unsettling Emergence of Marilynne Robinson as Environmentalist

Marilynne Robinson’s three novels are gentle, compassionate, wonderful in the strict sense, and haunting. However, none of these adjectives describe Mother Country, her 1989 tirade against nuclear pollution and English civilization. You can imagine her writing the novels – Housekeeping, Gilead, and Home – from a desk by the bright east window in a quiet house. But Robinson herself provides the image for Mother Country: “the unsettling emergence of lady novelist as petroleuse.” (What a chanteuse is to singing, a… Read more

Suburbia and the American Dream

  This article originally  appeared in Fare Forward’s third issue. “To put it bluntly, President Obama would like to abolish the suburbs… Moving to a suburb in pursuit of the American dream… looks to Obama and his [community] organizing mentors like selfishly refusing to share tax money with the urban poor.” So begins Spreading the Wealth by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Written before President Obama’s re-election, Kurtz’s book—whose prose reads like Harold Hill’s pleas to the… Read more

A Flaw in the Light: Thoughts on ‘The Counselor’

  Sometimes—maybe even most of the time—truly great works of art seem flawed at first.  They are creations forged in a particularly intense imaginative fire, liable to leave them charred around the edges, or even a bit warped.  Hamlet is the prime example: the greatest play of all time is nothing like you would expect, containing a play-within-a-play, strange existential soliloquies, and a plot that is driven more by the verbal and intellectual energy of its characters’ speeches than by the mechanics… Read more

The Plough and the Sails

  J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were part of the Inklings, a small circle of literary enthusiasts who built a friendship around sharing their ideas and creativity. The informal group would gather regularly at a local Oxford pub, The Eagle and Child, to discuss their latest work over food and drink. The editors of Fare Forward hope to foster a similar sense of community around rigorous and innovative Christian thought, so we created this space as our virtual “corner pub.”… Read more

Fantasy Worldviews: From Middle Earth to Westeros

  “The battle of good and evil is a great subject for any book and certainly for a fantasy book, but I think ultimately the battle between good and evil is weighed within the individual human heart and not necessarily between an army of people dressed in white and an army of people dressed in black. When I look at the world, I see that most real living breathing human beings are grey.” —George R.R. Martin Many more qualified authors… Read more

The Wonderment of Grace

  A narrow understanding of faith very readily turns to bitterness and coerciveness. There is something about certainty that makes Christianity un-Christian… Therefore, because I would be a good Christian, I have cultivated uncertainty, which I consider a form of reverence. -Marilynne Robinson, “Credo,” 2008 In every sense, Marilynne Robinson is an act of God. First of all, she belongs to that rare confederacy of authors who loom large in the moral imagination of their own day. Laurelled as the “world’s… Read more

You Can’t Choose Your Friends

  Axiomatic in our times is the foundational nature of choice. Our politics, economics, and law are all based on the idea that individuals make choices that can be good or bad. When asked, this is what we mean by “responsibility”: we are responsible for our own choices. After all, we can’t be responsible for other people’s choices. Responsibility, therefore, implies personal responsibility. It only exists when we choose something. Even friendship with others is reduced to choice. As the… Read more

Disappearing Bodies

  Many atheists and agnostics hold that they would believe in God if he would only show himself to them. After all, why couldn’t he, if he is all-powerful? Why wouldn’t he, if he is kind and loving, and if he really wants people to believe in him as much as he says he does? In response, Christians point to God’s incarnation as Jesus Christ, a man who lived on the earth just as we do. The people who lived… Read more

The Tyranny of Data

  Data science has been dubbed by Harvard Business Review as “the sexiest job in the 21st century” and by The New York Times as a “hot new field that promises to revolutionize industries, from business to government, health care to academia.” As the Times article explains, technology has given us access to gargantuan amounts of data, and companies, universities, and governments are rapidly hiring data scientists with the statistical and programming skills to make sense of “big data,” a… Read more

The Tallest Man on Earth

  Kristian Matsson, when asked why he chose the stage moniker “The Tallest Man on Earth,” replied, “When you have a name like that, you have to write good music.” It seems to be working. Matsson’s albums have combined an arching and insightful songwriting with nimble fingerpicking, passionate pace, and clever open tunings. He has drawn comparisons to early folk legends such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and then has stepped past them and developed his own style of… Read more