Notes From ‘Gilead’

Oh, ‘Gilead’. What an absolutely stunning read. This book, by Marilynne Robinson, was one of my favorite stories in a long while. Beautiful and sweetly sad, the novel is written as a letter from a dying father to his small son. The main character is a preacher, and his father was a preacher, and his father was as well.

Some of the most beautiful language in the entire book is also the most spiritual. Here, presented without comment, are a few of my favorite passages:

I have always liked the phrase “nursing a grudge,” because many people are tender of their resentments, as of the thing nearest their hearts.
 I’ve heard of churches in the South that oblige people to make a public confession of their graver sins to the whole congregation. I think sometimes there might be an advantage in making people aware how worn and stale these old transgressions are. It might take some of the shine off them, for those who are tempted.
 I think it is significant that the Fifth Commandment falls between those that have to do with proper worship of God and those that have to do with right conduct toward other people. I have always wondered if the Commandments should be read as occurring in order of importance. If that is correct, honoring your mother is more important than not committing murder. That seems remarkable, though I am open to the idea.
 I blame the radio for sowing a good deal of confusion where theology is concerned. And television is worse. You can spend forty years teaching people to be awake to the fact of mystery and then some fellow with no more theological sense than a jackrabbit gets himself a radio ministry and all your work is forgotten. I do wonder where it will end.
 If you want to inform yourselves as to the nature of hell, don’t hold your hand in a candle flame, just ponder the meanest, most desolate place in your soul.

If any of these resonate with you, give this book your time.

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