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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson will speak at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock as part of the church's Insights lecture series.

Robinson is known for her novels Gilead (winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction), Home and Lila, as well as several works of nonfiction, including The Givenness of Things and Mother Country. She was a longtime instructor at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop and in 2012 she was presented with the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama, a fan of her writing.

Robinson said she plans to talk about "issues in contemporary life, among them our problems in dealing with the concept of truth" during her visit to the cathedral.

The Insights series began in 2015 as a way to bring prominent theologians and authors to the cathedral to talk about theological and religious questions in an open forum with the general public.

The Rev. Christoph Keller III, dean and rector of the cathedral, said the Insights series "is a bold program to expand our visibility and reach while enriching our life intellectually and spiritually."

"This is the kind of thing great cathedrals do," Keller said.

The second season began in fall and has featured Episcopal priest and best-selling author Barbara Brown Taylor and best-selling author Donald Miller speaking to sold-out crowds.

Many of the speakers have been Episcopalians but Robinson is a member of the United Church of Christ, which she joined after moving to Massachusetts after graduate school. Growing up, she said her family was "more or less Presbyterian."

"The two traditions are similar theologically, but the polity of the UCC is strongly democratic," she said. "All authority rests with the congregation. This feels right to me. It is a very old denomination, going back in New England to the 17th century, where it was called Congregationalism and was already considered a model democracy."

Robinson said the denomination has always been reformist, ordaining its first female minister in 1853.

"It has founded many important universities including Harvard and Yale, and has been a distinguished contributor to American culture more generally," Robinson said. "It is overshadowed now by larger denominations with much greater public presences, but the UCC remains democratic and reformist, and I find these qualities highly appropriate to a church."

As for how her faith influences her writing, Robinson said, "I don't really separate my faith from my thinking or writing."

She's an admirer of John Calvin, who she said preached often on social and economic justice and "against every kind of acquisitiveness."

"He is polemically associated with beliefs that are in fact almost universal tenets of Christianity, such as original sin and predestination," she said. "Ignatius of Loyola does not disagree with him on either point. Anyone who can put fixed assumptions aside and read what he actually wrote will find a powerful ethics and metaphysics that celebrates human life, thought and perception, and sanctifies any human encounter as an encounter with an image of God."

Robinson said Congregationalism "was and is the most direct embodiment of Calvinism in American religious life, not least in its democratic polity and its openness to learning and ideas."

Robinson's talk will be followed by a reception in Morrison Hall. A pre-talk reception for sponsors and patrons will be held at 5:30.

Tickets are $25 for general seating and $100 for patron seating, which includes an invitation to the pre-talk reception and reserved seating. Tickets are available online at trinitylittlerock.org. Information is available by calling Annie Burton at (501) 588-3663.

The cathedral is at 310 W. 17th St.

Religion on 02/18/2017

Print Headline: Author to speak on truth at Trinity

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