Advertise here with Carbon Ads

This site is made possible by member support. ❤️

Big thanks to Arcustech for hosting the site and offering amazing tech support.

When you buy through links on, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for supporting the site! home of fine hypertext products since 1998.

🍔  💀  📸  😭  🕳️  🤠  🎬  🥔

Tyler Cowen Interviewing Marilynne Robinson

COWEN: What is your most unusual successful work habit?

ROBINSON: I think it’s becoming used to the fact that it takes me a long time to get to the place where I can work on something — that all this frustration [laughs] and depression that precedes my writing anything is part of the process of writing.

As someone who’s interested in finding God, I liked letting this religion-themed conversation wash over me. I also liked the idea that creative projects just have to take as long as they take and be as hard as they are. Robinson’s new book is about Genesis — she calls the Bible “the most complex document on the planet” — but in the interview they touch on several non-religious topics, too (like the above). Meanwhile I’m enjoying reading the negative reviews of her book on Amazon, which is probably bad (of me).

Discussion  4 comments

Dave Sandell

I'd love to hear more about your interest in finding God (says the former and possibly future Pastor …)

Edith ZimmermanMOD

Thank you for asking. It feels weird to try to talk about, but obviously I am eager to, so -- here goes! I find the Bible fascinating, strange, and beautiful. It's amazing to me that it came into existence. (I wasn't really raised with much religion.) Also believing in a higher power seems like a beautiful way to live. Part of me is like, "But it's not TRUE, you can't just believe something that's not TRUE, don't be an idiot," but then I'm like, Maybe it is? And in front of whom am I trying to be "right"? But that feels kind of tangled. But then when I stop thinking about it and just try to live according to the 10 commandments, it solves a surprising amount of my problems. Anyway it's been on my mind a lot lately, largely around becoming a parent. Also it's wrapped up in wanting to feel more purpose. And to feel more comfortable with myself and what I do.

And of course now I want to know how one becomes a former and possibly future Pastor!

Dave Sandell

Ha! Let me tell you -- I was an associate pastor at a decent-sized church in Evanston, Illinois for the better part of 12 years, which was fulfilling and meaningful and maddening, but then COVID hit and our kids did not do well with e-learning. Given that my job paid very little, we decided to have me stay home with the kids, and a few years later it's become clear just how important it's been to have me here on Sundays and not be constantly taking my work home with me, so for the foreseeable future, it's hard to imagine choosing to go back into the pastorate. However, once the kids are out of the house, I can imagine moving back in that direction. It feels unfinished in a good way, like I feel an open door invitation from God but no pressure or anxiety to walk through it in this season. Hopefully that made sense …

Since you mentioned the Bible being the thing that's captivating you, can I suggest a few books that I dearly love? One is Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue, who honestly and tenderly reflects on the reconciling his faith with his deep appreciation of science. I find his axioms about faith super helpful when I'm wrestling with what I believe. Another is Finding Freedom in Constraint by Jared Boyd, who leads a dispersed modern monastic order that I am tethered to called the Order of the Common Life. His approach to living out his faith are so grounded and rooted that I think it will feel accessible and beautiful to all who read it. The last one is a poetry anthology called Christian Poetry in America Since 1940 which I find so moving.

Edith ZimmermanMOD

That absolutely does make sense, and thank you for sharing it. I like the "unfinished in a good way" bit.

And I'm very grateful for these book recommendations; I was hoping for exactly this. All are going on my list!

Reply in this thread

Hello! In order to leave a comment, you need to be a current member. If you'd like to sign up for a membership to support the site and join the conversation, you can explore your options here.

Existing members can sign in here. If you're a former member, you can renew your membership.

Note: If you are a member and tried to log in, it didn't work, and now you're stuck in a neverending login loop of death, try disabling any ad blockers or extensions that you have installed on your browser...sometimes they can interfere with the Memberful links. Still having trouble? Email me!