Far from being a public space, the internet as shaped by social media and personalised search engines sets up a space of absolute closeness, eliminating the outside. Here one encounters oneself and one’s own life. Communal public action to effect political change could not be further away.
More and more people describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’. Yet perceptions of what it is to be religious have changed significantly and broadened over the last sixty years. Perhaps, for a good life, we need not just human rights culture but the Sermon on the Mount.
Marilynne Robinson is a great admirer of former president Barack Obama, and he of her. The gentle humanism they share, however, can only be accepted at face value at the cost of ignoring the civilian victims of America’s war on terror, poor people in faraway places, who it seems don’t count.