Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I need a break from Dostoevsky!!

Well this week is a quiet week ensconsed in the office ploughing through piles of exam scripts that need marking - not much to go now at least! Last night was the sixth session of my church history course for the Aberystwyth Academy of Christian Discipleship; we did the whole of the Reformation in about two hours! All but one of the group turned up, so we were seven in all and had a great time thinking about history and theology and trying to relate it to ourselves and church today. They're a great group, really appreciative and an absolute pleasure to serve in this way!
Having ploughed through about 350 pages of The Karamazov Brothers, I thought I needed to read something different before tackling the second half.
Last week in Geneva I discovered the books of Marilynne Robinson; she was one of the speakers at the conference, but I unfortunately missed her paper, but lots of my friends were raving about her books and amazed that I hadn't read any of them. So once I got home I picked up a copy of Gilead (2005), which everybody said was her best book, and I have to say its an amazingly beautiful book. I'm not sure I've ever read anything quite like it.
Its central character is the Revd John Ames, and the book is basically a family history in the form of a letter which he writes to his young son in 1956 as he is dying. Its set in Iowa in the American Mid-West, and is basically an account of his ministry and life, and includes much also about his grandfather, an old-fashioned fire and brimstone preacher, who faught in the American civil war. Its mostly about ideas and theology, particularly how Ames moves away from evangelical religion to embrace more liberal pacificistic ideas, but also as much about how the three generations of the family rubbed along with each other, maintaining an uneasy truce.
I can't recommend it highly enough, and I'd be really interested to hear anyone else's thoughts on Robinson's books. Just got to get her latest novel Home (2008), now that I'm hooked!

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