Books and Bridges: Terryl Givens, "Finding Meaning in the Collapse of Transcendence"

Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond, will speak on the search for the divine in the human. At the very moment when Joseph Smith is affirming God’s dramatic reentry into the nexus of human affairs, a group of Romantic writers are asking what the absence of God from the universe might entail for human values and suffering. William Wordsworth and Percy Shelley create psychodramas where the adversaries are despair, meaninglessness, and nihilism, on the one hand, and faith in the indomitability of the human spirit on the other. Together with later writers Fyodor Dostoevsky and George Macdonald, these authors ask what kind of values may be affirmed in a world shorn of transcendence. They represent four distinct points along a spectrum of belief: The quasi-atheist Shelley, the quasi-pantheist Wordsworth, the Christian existentialist Dostoevsky, and the evangelical MacDonald. Out of the wreckage of hope, what values and meaning can be discovered? Joseph Smith offers the answer that what is most holy in God is what is most holy in us. A Q&A and refreshments will follow. The lecture is made possible by a grant from Utah Humanities.

This event is organized by Books & Bridges — a community institute of ideas and conversation. Our mission is to facilitate discussion on the best of human thought. We explore the wisdoms of the world and apply them to modern life. We have no political, religious, or ideological affiliation. In a society divided by uncivil discourse, the beauty of the humanities—novels, history, philosophy, poetry, ethics, and epics—lifts us to our better angels. In our busy world we need space for friends and fellow learners to do a little more heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind.

Event date: 
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
607 Trolley Square
Salt Lake City, UT 84102