The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
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In this award-winning collection, the bestselling author of Gilead offers us other ways of thinking about history, religion, and society. Whether rescuing "Calvinism" and its creator Jean Cauvin from the repressive "puritan" stereotype, or considering how the McGuffey readers were inspired by Midwestern abolitionists, or the divide between the Bible and Darwinism, Marilynne Robinson repeatedly sends her reader back to the primary texts that are central to the development of American culture but little read or acknowledged today.
A passionate and provocative celebration of ideas, the old arts of civilization, and life's mystery, The Death of Adam is, in the words of Robert D. Richardson, Jr., "a grand, sweeping, blazing, brilliant, life-changing book."
and social ethic which is, not coincidentally, antithetical to the assumptions imposed and authorized by Judaeo-Christianity. Darwin’s theory was published in 1859, two years before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. His achievement would be impressive if even a tiny core of scientific insight survived such an explosion of new understanding of the nature of things as has occurred in the last century and a half. It is important to remember, however, that evolution as I have defined it was
in a gene is an act of mind which rather resembles finding wrath in thunder. In any case, the slightly expanded definition of selfishness is not without problems. This would be a somewhat sweeter world than the one we have if it were true among human beings, at least, that the flourishing of kin and offspring were nearer our hearts than any other interest. As it is, I propose that since this hypothesis cannot survive the evidence to be gathered from reading any newspaper, it ought not to be
world was a parable or test or temptation or distraction and therefore engrossing, and full of the highest order of meaning, but in itself a fairly negligible thing. Literacy became virtually universal in Western civilization when and where it began to seem essential for people to be able to read the Bible. All the immeasurable practical benefits that came with mass literacy, its spectacular utility, awaited this unworldly stimulus. Clearly mere utility is not sufficient to sustain it at even
encouraged, it was the disrupted culture of southern Europe, not the forgotten culture of antiquity, that she most hoped to see renascent. This includes the translation of the New Testament she commissioned from Lefèvre d’Étaples — vernacular New Testaments (the language of the region, Occitan, was closer to Spanish than to French) were at the center of Cathar piety. If France was feeling the stimulus of the Lutheran movement, as the disorders and persecutions make clear, and elements of
fingers, at arm’s length, and tilt his face up and back to look at them. It was an old man’s method of scrutiny, but to me it seemed as if he were revealing prodigy or sleight, the way a magician opens his hand to reveal a dove. I looked carefully at every blossom he appeared to commend to me, noting how they were made of cell and capillary, whisker and freckle, frail skin tented on white bone, and how they were chill to the touch, and how they curled on themselves like smoke, and how, till the