What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson

What Are We Doing Here?

New essays on theological, political, and contemporary themes, by the Pulitzer Prize winnerMarilynne Robinson has plumbed the human spirit in her renowned novels, including Lila, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Gilead, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In this new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern political climate and the mysteries of faith. Whether she is inv...

Details What Are We Doing Here?

TitleWhat Are We Doing Here?
Release DateFeb 20th, 2018
PublisherFarrar Straus and Giroux
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Writing, Essays

Reviews What Are We Doing Here?

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    This is not a lightweight read, as Robinson is an academic first, one who happens to write novels. Most of these essays are speeches Robinson gave at universities between 2015 and 2017, on themes of religion, politics, holiness, humanism, etc. She was clearly on a John Edwards, Calvinism, and Cromwell kick because several of the essays reference these characters, as well as looking at the true history of America and its "Puritan roots." While I b...
  • Kathleen
    My review for the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifesty...What does a set of theological essays — essays that aim plainly to consider the nature of God and religious belief in the context of both politics and individual consciousness — have to offer an increasingly secular country?Marilynne Robinson intends to find out in her latest book, “What Are We Doing Here?,” an erudite, authoritative and demanding collection that p...
  • Krista
    It is no accident that Marxism and social Darwinism arose together, two tellers of one tale. It is not surprising that they have disgraced themselves in similar ways. Their survival more than one hundred and fifty years on is probably owed to the symmetry of their supposed opposition. Based on a single paradigm, they reinforce each other as legitimate modes of thought. So it is with our contemporary Left and Right. Between them we circle in a mae...
  • Mark Jr.
    My favorite (self-described) biblicist, Calvinist, Edwards-and-Puritan-reputations-rehabilitating, America-and-humanities-and-Western-tradition-defending, mainline Protestant, United Church of Christ liberal.Robinson is like no other writer I know. I've never seen a more wickedly incisive takedown of reductive materialism. I've never read a better defense of the Puritans, not even from their more direct theological heirs. I've never enjoyed so mu...
  • Tashfin Awal
    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways and have chosen to give my honest opinion about it.This book was actually such an interesting read! It's always refreshing to see such an inquisitive angle to things we often take for granted, and to challenge our perceptions of the factors in our lives which we consider above us. While some of the ideas here relied a bit too much on biblical literature for my taste, it was overall an inte...
  • James
    What Are We Doing Here? has been my first foray into Marilynne Robinson's non-fiction essays, and it was like drinking from a fire hose! There is so much density of thought, so much artistry of language, that I am certain I could read it a number of times and still see different and compelling ideas come to the fore in new ways.Compiled from a number of her lectures from the past few years, this recently-released collection is timely, and Robinso...
  • Michael Gonzales
    I just LOVE Marilynne Robinson. This is to say that my review is surely biased. I’ll be brief. If you’re bored by those subjects to which Robinson *religiously* gravitates—Puritanism, critiques of positivism, Western history, theology, etc.—then yeah, you might find this book unenjoyable, but also frustrating and challenging, which you might find ultimately satisfying. She repeats herself. Revisits the same subjects and figures, occasiona...
  • Micah
    These challenging essays ranging from meditations on Faith, Hope, and Love, to a reexamination of the Puritanism and Calvinism also offer hope to those ruefully wondering why they chose to throw themselves into the humanities. I couldn't always keep up with Marilynne's sharp mind, and I might have tapped out of one or two essays after repeated mentions of the name "Oliver Cromwell," but overall, I was stretched and edified by this collection.
  • Chris devine
    What are we doing here? Wasting my time. This book is so dry and annoying, it's somehow both religious and anti religious at the same time, and I can pretty much sum the whole book up with don't be a dick. It seems like she's trying to fix the world, specifically the US, and if everyone lived by the slogan don't be a dick, we'd be pretty ok. The one redeeming essay was A Proof, a Test, an Instruction, which was primarily about Obama, and it was i...
  • Sharon Gallup
    This was one of my free giveaways win. it took me a bit of time to read this as yes it isn't a story it is essays written by Marilynne Robinson. If you are a christen who believes in the bible this is a really informative of why we are here and how the past and future follows the teaching of the bible and in God and Jesus Christ and the teachings of mankind. (love, conscience and faith, hope and the practices of life). I took alot out of these es...
  • Marina
    This is a good book, I gave it 3 stars because I couldn't finish it. If I had started it at any other time other then the middle of a busy semester I would have been able to finish it and love it. So for right now it hasn't been finished, however, I will come back to it when I able to read more then 1 or 2 pages at a time.
  • Bob
    Summary: A collection of essays based on talks given, mostly at universities, between 2015 and 2017, questioning what she sees as a surrender of thought to ideology."I know it is conventional to say we Americans are radically divided, polarized. But this is not more true than its opposite--in essential ways we share false assumptions and flawed conclusions that are never effectively examined because they are indeed shared" (Preface, p. ix).The t...
  • Jonathan Berry
    Marilynne Robinson is one of the most thoughtful writers of our time, capable of finding and savoring beauty in humanity, despite the millions of ways we pile insult and injury upon each other. In this newest collection of essays, talks, and addresses, she engages questions and concerns at the forefront of the American consciousness: What is the role of education, and to what extent are our current educational systems serving the populace as they...
  • Laura
    There are two major themes in these essays: religion as it pertains to modern American life and culture, and the Puritans. Many of these essays are about Robinson’s fascination with the early colonial history (and the British history that preceded it), and specifically about the Puritans’ role in the shaping of America. To put it her argument simply and bluntly: the Puritans got a bad rap. But, beyond a few interesting tidbits, like how the P...
  • Marks54
    I had never read anything by Marilynne Robinson before I read this new book of essays by her. Having done so, I must acknowledge that I now need to read more books by this author, probably starting with her novel, Gilead. This is a marvelous book of essays on humanism, religion, metaphysics, ethics, Puritanism, writing, conscience, and plain old critical thinking. These essays are challenging, well thought through and rigorous, and demanding on t...
  • Adam Shields
    Short Review: I picked this up because of James KA Smith's review in Comment. That review is excellent. This book I think is less than excellent. I really do love Robinson's writing. She is a great writer and a wide ranging thinker. I love how wide ranging she is. At one point she is talking about another author writing outside of their main field and quips that she isn't going to complain about that since she frequently does the same thing.But a...
  • Mary B.
    Marilynne Robinson’s writings are something of an acquired taste, and this collection of 15 essays drawn mostly from her recent lectures at various universities and religious institutions is no exception. The essays focus on issues at the forefront of the humanities and interweave her wide-ranging thoughts on matters related to history, politics, religion, and literature.Much of the reading is slow going, especially when the author goes on expa...
  • Nathaniel Perrin
    Though she deals with a wide variety of complex intellectual topics, Robinson eschews academic style in favor of a familiar, rich tone which characterizes most of her writing. She writes as a humanist deeply committed to the meaningfulness and freedom of human life rather than as a technician fettered by technical, logical analysis.These essays range widely from reflections on American intellectual life to Obama's character to theological reflect...
  • Clayton
    An uneven collection, with too many discussions of the same narrow range of topics--mostly Puritanism, Protestant theology, the decline of the humanities, and "Darwinism," which Robinson continues to deploy in her shifting, own idiosyncratic way that bears little relation to the life and works of Mr. Charles D. In What Are We Doing Here?, she sticks mostly to the hits that longtime readers know and love. Nothing wrong with that--Emersonian that s...
  • Anne Marie
    Dear Mrs. Robinson, Age has not made you tiny. Thankfully,A ReaderI used the library receipt as a bookmark. By the end I had only a tiny scrap left because so many corners were required to mark something important. She's incredibly quotable and molds English to her uses, her expression and voice, like no one else I've ever read. The title is appropriately vague as she covers both this political moment in our democracy and also the big philosophic...
  • Chris Halverson
    I want to give this book 5 stars--it is well worth reading, full stop... but it is mainly a series of lectures, and as such it becomes repetitive (I read most of the book in 2 sittings on an airplane).What follows are the major themes that are continually touched on an weaved together is beautiful ways.-We choose not to know much about Puritans, who shaped our world in incredibly important ways that we ought to investigate.-We ignore the connecti...
  • Erin
    this is a brilliant book, full of hilarious nerd burns if you know how to look for themrobinson is not afraid to call out lazy thinkers and she disdains them with the power of a thousand suns, the most cutting turn of phrasebut i didn't finish it because 1) it's extremely dense writing and 2) once you get past the halfway point, the essays essentially cover the same groundwhy do we ignore certain parts of history when we talk about what it means ...
  • Theresa
    Once again, I relished reading Marilynne Robinson. Bracing as she is, her prose is so precise, beautiful, and surprising that just reading it is reward in itself. And I like being introduced to ideas that expand my understanding of America, who we are, and who we can aspire to be. She is critical and inspirational as well. These lectures were delivered in various locales from 2015 - 2017, so they are especially timely. She mentions reading online...
  • Tanja
    Please note that I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway (thank you)!The author's drive is clearly emulated and her words are full of passion, but it just was not the book for me. The problem was that her book was very philosophical and although it was written well, the audience member was not right for this book. However, her ideas are very insightful and she touches upon many time periods to support her argument. If you enjoy politics...
  • Luke
    I'm an M-Ro stan from way back. Her thoughts on culture, faith and the humanities are challenging and spot-on, as usual. I disagreed with her more often in this collection than in others, but I always welcome her insights and perspective on the current socio-political moment, which is super cray-cray right now.
  • Sheilamotani
    Tough read she loves her Christian Theology she writes beautifully but this is about Christian philosophy so a little “niche” for me personally
  • Kari
    Picked this to complete part of a reading challenge. Her essays on Love and Hope are worth finding and reading.
  • Paula
    I am sure it is a great book but just not that interesting to me