Sunday, 31 January 2010

Writing theology with Marilynne Robinson

The Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton is holding an intensive three-week residential workshop with Marilynne Robinson, for theologians who want to write for wider readerships. The workshop runs from 20 June through 10 July 2010. Applications are invited from tenured and tenure-track scholars in any of the theological disciplines: full details here. Robinson explains the purpose of the workshop:

“Theology has been the mediator of the primary literature of faith since antiquity. The writers of the psalms, the prophets, the Apostle Paul all interpret core belief — that God is One, the Creator of heaven and earth, and that he has made humankind in his image. Augustine, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin each gave intellectual, social and artistic form to modes of Christian life which without them are hardly to be imagined. Lately the practice of this ancient tradition has receded into the academy and learned the idiom of specialization, leaving religion increasingly vulnerable to the charge, and the fact, of vacuousness. We will consider the impulse to think and write theologically, always in light of the intrinsic and profound significance of theology to the life of faith and the world of thought.”
This is a great opportunity to work with one of the world's finest writers. In my view, Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and Cormac McCarthy's The Road are the two great American novels of the past decade. And Robinson is also a vivid and incisive theological writer, as her remarkable essays in The Death of Adam attest.

So anyway, you might like to get along to this great workshop. If I could hitchhike from Sydney to New Jersey, I'd be there myself, hauling my old typewriter across the country like Jack Kerouac with his dirty coat and 100-foot scroll.

8 Comments:

cruciality said...

There's not many days at all when I grieve that I live outwith the US, but this threatens to be one of them. Any boats leaving from Dunedin?

Anonymous said...

Excellent!

Jason Clark said...

What an amazing opportunity, I too am sorry to be outside the US with this

Anonymous said...

I find the holy scriptures, in their timeless complexity, easier to understand than Robinson's blurb about her class. I read it 3 - 4 times, and decided the workshop is taught by academic theologians for academic theologians writing to other academic theologians. Am I correct? At first, I thought she was trying to say this was to teach academics to write for the masses. This is only my interpretation of her advert, not a criticism. I supposed if I were on the t-track I'd understand. But I do live in the US, lol.

Blessings to all.

Ben Myers said...

Anon, you've got a point there: that blurb is not exactly a model of elegant prose. But we can safely assume that Robinson was just having a bad day — she is by no means an "academic", and if you're in any doubt about the spare, luminous perfection of her writing, just spend an afternoon reading Gilead.

Tom Hastings, Director of Research, CTI said...

With sincere apologies, I'll take full responsibility for sending this quote to F & T in abbbreviated form. Below and on our website, please find Ms. Robinson's quote in full.

“Theology has been the mediator of the primary literature of faith since antiquity. The writers of the psalms, the prophets, the Apostle Paul all interpret core belief--that God is One, the Creator of heaven and earth, and that he has made humankind in his image. Augustine, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin each gave intellectual, social and artistic form to modes of Christian life which without them are hardly to be imagined. Lately the practice of this ancient tradition has receded into the academy and learned the idiom of specialization, leaving religion increasingly vulnerable to the charge, and the fact, of vacuousness. We will consider the impulse to think and write theologically, always in light of the intrinsic and profound significance of theology to the life of faith and the world of thought.” - Marilynne Robinson

Ben Myers said...

Thanks Tom — I've corrected the post.

Patrick said...

They were interviewing Marilynne Robinson on Michael Horton's theological radio show The Whitehorse Inn recently. Here's a link if you haven't heard it yet: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/The_White_Horse_Inn/archives.asp?bcd=12/27/2009

Pretty interesting stuff.

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