"What does it feel like to be a problem?” For the first time in college, a line from a book rang in my head for days. W. E. B. Du Bois’s realization of his racial reality and the question of how he would choose to exist in the face of this new knowledge struck me as a deeply theological question.
At its worst, Protestantism has long been deeply suspicious of all holy things, of the very notion that a physical object can carry anything of the sacred. At its best, such a suspicion is aimed instead at the notion of holier things—of an elite, rarefied sacrality that sets a few things utterly apart.
Given the talk about the decline of Christian identity in the United States, Marilynne Robinson suggests a standard is needed to define this change. She proposes that a marker is the general fearfulness in our culture, which is revealed by the obsession with and purchase of guns. “Contemporary America is full of fear,” Robinson says, but “fear is not a Christian habit of mind.” One of the markers of people who forget God is “that they make irrational responses to irrational fears” (New York Review of Books, September 24).