President Obama recently interviewed author Marilynne Robinson in Iowa, and discussed subjects of America, faith, and values.
Entertainment Weekly reports that the President told Robinson he was glad to have the opportunity to meet and talk with her because usually when he travels to a specific place in the country it was for a meeting, a speech, or some official political event.
In contrast, “One of the things that I don’t get a chance to do as often as I’d like,” Obama said, “is just to have a conversation with somebody who I enjoy and I’m interested in; to hear from them and have a conversation with them about some of the broader cultural forces that shape our democracy and shape our ideas.”
The President told Robinson that he admired her work, particularly the protagonist in her novel Gilead, who is a pastor living in Iowa.
Obama and Robinson discussed their shared Midwestern roots and “homespun” American values.
Obama asked Robinson for her thoughts on American Christians who tend to use their religion to divide people and foster an “us vs. them” mentality.
“Well, I don’t know how seriously they do take their Christianity, because if you take something seriously, you’re ready to encounter difficulty, run the risk, whatever,” Robinson replied. “I mean, when people are turning in on themselves—and God knows, arming themselves and so on—against the imagined other, they’re not taking their Christianity seriously.”
“The thing I’ve been struggling with throughout my political career is how do you close the gap,” Obama then stated. “There’s all this goodness and decency and common sense on the ground, and somehow it gets translated into rigid, dogmatic, often mean-spirited politics.”
Robinson talks about how America has so many triumphs, such as the education system, but that we often do not defend these things “because people tend to feel the worst thing you can say is the truest thing you can say,” she says.
“But that’s part of what makes America wonderful, is we always had this nagging dissatisfaction that spurs us on,” Obama responded, going on to agree with Robinson that the American desire to always make something better, to go farther and dream bigger is a positive thing, but should not cause us to forget how far we have already come.
To read the full interview, click here.
Photo coutesy: Wikipedia
Pubication date: October 13, 2015