I'm a great admirer of secularism. At its best, I think it's one of the best things that we have. I don't believe in insinuating religion into conversation. I don't believe in excluding it from conversation. I enjoy the fact that people's innermost thoughts are their own.
I think probably one of the important things that happened to me was growing up in Idaho in the mountains, in the woods, and having a very strong presence of the wilderness around me. That never felt like emptiness. It always felt like presence.
My first novel, 'Housekeeping,' was accepted by the first agent who read it, and bought by the first editor who read it. In general, my experience with publication has been gentle and gratifying.
I like major theology. I like Karl Barth, and I like John Calvin, and I like Martin Luther. The scale of thinking and the power of integration that they're capable of from thinking in that scale is something that's really unique to theology.
The mind, whatever else it is, is a constant of everyone's experience, and, in more ways than we know, the creator of the reality that we live within... Nothing is more essential to us.
I read things like theology, and I read about science, 'Scientific American' and publications like that, because they stimulate again and again my sense of the almost arbitrary given-ness of experience, the fact that nothing can be taken for granted.
I was read to as a small child, I read on my own as soon as I could, and I recall being more or less overwhelmed again and again - if not by what the books actually said, by what they suggested, what they helped me to imagine.
I think about things like the fact that nobody knows what time is. Time is what? Nobody can describe it, even physics or math or anything else. But it is what we continuously experience. It's the state of our unfolding, in a way, and in that sense that the continuous reopening of reality is what I think of as, perhaps, a worldview.
The idea that myth is the opposite of knowledge, or the opposite of truth, is simply to disallow it. It is like saying poetry is the opposite of truth.
My Calvinism persuades me that we are open to God, in the sense that we are not delimited, not organisms with fixed attributes in the manner of the other creatures, but are instead participants in a reality that utterly exceeds our powers of description.
I remember when I was a child... walking into the woods by myself and feeling the solitude around me build like electricity and pass through my body with a jolt that made my hair prickle.
When I read 'Paradise Lost,' or 'Richard III,' it is clear that Milton and Shakespeare took real pleasure and satisfaction from creating these epitomes of evil.
A lot of Christian extremism has done a great deal to discredit religion; the main religious traditions have abandoned their own intellectual cultures so drastically that no one has any sense of it other than the fringe.
When I went to college, I majored in American literature, which was unusual then. But it meant that I was broadly exposed to nineteenth-century American literature. I became interested in the way that American writers used metaphoric language, starting with Emerson.
I tend to think of the reading of any book as preparation for the next reading of it. There are always intervening books or facts or realizations that put a book in another light and make it different and richer the second or the third time.
I used to write on a big old couch, but I gave that away. I was wise enough to give it to my son, so if it turns out that the couch was essential to my work, at least the decision to be rid of it is not irreversible.
When I'm writing fiction, I'm sort of interested by the fact that somehow or other I can have the feeling of actually seeing things through someone else's eyes.
Oddly enough, my favorite genre is not fiction. I'm attracted by primary sources that are relevant to historical questions of interest to me, by famous old books on philosophy or theology that I want to see with my own eyes, by essays on contemporary science, by the literatures of antiquity.
I doubt that I could create a character I loathed simply because when a character takes life, it is impossible not to be a little amazed by the phenomenon, and to find that the amazement has something of the quality of delight.
Teaching is a distraction and a burden, but it's also an incredible stimulus. And a reprieve, in a way. When you're trying to work on something and it's not going anywhere, you can go to school and there's a two-and-a-half-hour block of time in which you can accomplish something.