Marilynne Robinson on Israel

Marilynne Robinson on Israel August 3, 2014

“It was moving to see all the different forms of piety focused, concentrated in an area so defined,” Marilynne Robinson says, speaking of Israel. In an interview with the Jewish Daily Forward, she continues:

 I suppose a time when the religious significance of the place was not yet felt can be imagined, before Abraham, perhaps. But the extent to which it has supplied humankind with a conceptual universe of value and meaning and holiness is an astonishment. That it is somehow profoundly exceptional is true without question.

She also speaks on the sense of home as Americans and Israelis feel it, American Christianity, Israel’s problems, and the “ill considered” movement to boycott Israel, about which she comments dryly, “countries that don’t or won’t solve their own problems are not likely to have the wisdom to solve others’ problems.”

Of sectarian Christianity, she says, distressingly:

I was struck by the sectarianism that governs the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Not that this is unusual anywhere, among the followers of any religion, sad to say. Belief in God, in the sacredness of human life, in a moral order that answers to the will of God — these are huge assumptions the religions share. We ought to respect one another on this basis, rather than discrediting religion altogether by seeing every difference as a provocation.

I am in situations often where I am asked to make a case for religion. Science is no problem, secularization is no problem. The bad behavior of religious people using religion as a pretext is an overwhelming problem.


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