This looks like it may be a very good read. If anyone has already read it, please feel free to comment on it. Thanks!
BREAKPOINT with Charles Colson------------------------------
Grace in the Ordinary World
June 13, 2005 This year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to a novel that was described by its author as "a quiet book." Marilynne Robinson's novel GILEAD is the simple story of an elderly Iowa pastor, John Ames. And it's something of a milestone for contemporary Christian fiction. In his seventies, John Ames has a new wife and young son who are the light of his life. He also has a fatal heart condition. The novel is written as a letter from Ames to his son, telling him about his family history and other things he will need to know. Despite Ames's natural feelings of melancholy, the tone of this letter is one of great love, reverence, and even joy over all the blessings he has been given. He writes to the boy, "You have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. . . It may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind.If only I had the words to tell you." The novel examines relationships between various fathers and children. Many of them are full of pain and misunderstanding. That makes the love between Ames and his son stand as a shining example of what the father-child relationship can be. The NEW YORK TIMES said of this book, "'Gilead' is a beautiful work --demanding, grave and lucid. . . Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction." A reviewer for PBS's RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY notes that Robinson "has shown the sacramental possibilities of the world." As these excerpts and reviews highlight, there are two things that Robinson does surprisingly well. One is to show the presence of God's grace in our flawed, ordinary world -- the grace that John Ames defines as "a sort of ecstatic fire that takes things down to essentials." Ames's view of the world is thoroughly informed and transformed by that grace. He sees it everywhere he looks, even in the life of a troubled young man he instinctively dislikes. Robinson's second great gift is related directly to the first one. The NEW YORK TIMES reviewer puts it this way: "Robinson's pastor is that most difficult narrator from a novelist's point of view, a truly good and virtuous man. . . .While John Ames may be a good man, he is not an uninteresting one." On the contrary -- he's an utterly compelling man. To write such a character convincingly, especially in a time when the anti-hero is in vogue, is a rare and valuable gift indeed. I've said before that we've seen a long, unfortunate slump in Christian fiction-- a period when many religious novelists and publishers seem to believe that quality writing just wasn't important. But these days, there are signs everywhere that we're emerging from that slump. There is a renewed appreciation that good literature is important, impacting the imagination and the mind as nothing else can. And the honors showered on GILEAD, including the PulitzerPrize, are conclusive proof that if writers who are Christian hold themselves to high standards, and bring true talent, wisdom, and insight to their work, the world will listen and recognize the grace that moves their work.