I Just Quit Reading…

…Marilynne Robinson”s “The Givenness of Things: Essays,” two-thirds of the way through.

Quit kidding yourself, I said.

I had read and liked and admired and been enlarged by all four of her novels, but this one I could not understand.

It was not just the theology. Her novels had that too.

It was how she chose to write it.

Her novels had, maybe, two four-syllable words per page. “Givenness” had eight. Maybe ten. And some of these I needed a dictionary for. “Prevenient.” “Syncretism.” “Marcianism.”

That’s a lot to ask.

So why did Robinson plant boulders like that along the path to understanding? Is she implying what she wants to say is so arcane it can’t be expressed in plainer words? Is she so unsure about what she is saying that she feels the need to back it with this weight.

No question she believes what she is saying. I just wish she would write it simply and directly, so if I could see if I did.

Some additional theology wouldn’t hurt me.