Recently I read the novel ‘Gilead,’ by Marilynne Robinson. The book, which was published in 2004 and won a Pulitzer Prize, is a deeply moving series of recollections by a congregationalist minister named John Ames. Ames, who at 76 years old is recollecting three-quarters of a century of life in Gilead, Iowa, wants to leave the book as a gift to his seven-year-old son, who he knows he will not live to see for much longer. Afraid that his son will not know the history of his family (including Ames’s father and grandfather), Ames writes to him a deeply moving account of forgiveness and race relations in the twentieth century. I was also surprised and heartened to see the favorable view of religion that was sustained throughout much of the book. It is always good to see a book of that kind be received with almost universal acclaim by a variety of different audiences.
One thing that the book did was set me thinking about the legacy that I will leave my own friends and family. Continue reading