By Marilynne Robinson
Delight. That's what I feel this third time as I turned the ignition key on Gilead. On two previous attempts I have tried to start this book. Like an engine that coughs and sputters, my interest never "came to life." This time, it fired.
I am so glad I kept turning that key.
I would have missed the ride. I would have missed John Ames. I would have missed the lifetime of wisdom he pours out to his son. I would have missed the insight into the human condition. I would have missed the theology.
Marilynne Robinson takes the reader to the secluded town of Gilead, Iowa where we meet John Ames, a minister dying from a heart condition. The father of young son he will never watch grow old, Ames pours out a lifetime of insights, wisdom, and the workings of God. We listen as he puts pen to paper. Memories flow. His own strength and weakness shines. His internal struggle with his best-friend’s recalcitrant son and Ames namesake, John Ames (Jack) Boughton, is on display as is love and grace in all its beauty.
About Marilynne Robinson and Gilead . . .
One can't describe the human condition apart from inspecting (and appreciating) it's grace, follies and foibles the way a jeweler appraises a diamond. One can't revive memories from a concocted character apart living long enough to have memories, appreciate their power, and the necessity of passing them on to loved ones. One can't dish out everyday theology like a favorite dish apart from reading the Scriptures and theologians.
Marilynne Robinson does all this and more.
Slow down if you are going to read Gilead. Press pause on your hustle and hurry. Listen, really listen, to John Ames. Marilynne Robinson, known for her insightful essays, is giving us another in this masterpiece worthy of the words, “Pulitzer Prize.”
5 Reasons To Read:
1. Insight: Listen as Ames talk about suffering, “nursing a grudge,” honor, apologetics. So good!
2. Craft: Robinson writes an entire book from the perspective of a Calvinist preacher. She’s a Calvinist, but not a man or minister. One would never know.
3. Theology: Robinson unfolds theology through a narrative akin to the way God delivers it in the Old testament. It is deep, practical, everyday theology; the kind I think would make Calvin and Augustine smile.
4. Humanity: Has she been looking at my soul?
5. Life: John Ames loves life. Me too. But reading Gilead, I love it a little more.
Marilynne Robinson reminds me that love never grows old. Forgiveness never grows old. Grace never grows old. And they pass from her pen to me through the pages of Gilead.