The Impertinence of Mountains

National Review‘s latest issue features a cover cartoon of Sonia Sotomayor as the Buddha — as if that’s a bad thing. Pakistani painter Asma Ahmed Shikoh depicts the Statue of Liberty as a Muslim woman, as if that’s a good thing — which, on Ahmed Shikoh’s gorgeous canvas, it is. “It is pretty irresistible to view politics through the lens of heroes and villains,” writes The Nation‘s Christopher Hayes, lamenting the Left’s lack of focus on the money behind the morality of the Right: “Palin is a character; the ABA [American Banking Association] is just an acronym.” Not just politics! I’ll take my literature through the lens of one of my heroes, Marilynne Robinson the Calvinist novelist whom I quoted yesterday. Today I come across this celebration of her Iowa home via Andrew Brown’s religion blog at The Guardian, on the occasion of her acceptance of Britain’s Orange Prize for fiction:

I love the prairie! So often I have seen the dawn come and the light flood over the land and everything turn radiant at once, that word “good” so profoundly affirmed in my soul that I am amazed I should be allowed to witness such a thing. There may have been a more wonderful first moment “when all the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy” but for all I know to the contrary, they still do sing and shout and they certainly might well. Here on the prairie there is nothing to distract attention from the evening and the morning, nothing on the horizon to abbreviate or delay. Mountains would seem an impertinence from that point of view.

Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).