'Cauvin . . . did attempt to have all Genevans sign a statement of belief, with the proclaimed but unenforced penalty of banishment from the city for those who refused. On the other hand, when the people of Geneva decided this demand was unacceptable . . . they could and did banish Cauvin and his friends from the city. Severity so liable to correction hardly deserves the name (The Death of Adam, pp. 198-9).
Much more of this nature can be found in the pages of The Death of Adam. Ideal reading for the weekend of the anniversary of Calvin's birth!
That led me on to read Robinson's latest novel, Home (2008). In some ways a companion volume to Gilead, although you don't necessarily need to have read Gilead to appreciate it, the central characters of Home are Jack Boughton and his sister, Glory, two of the children of Rev Boughton, the patriarchal Presbyterian minister, who was a more peripheral figure in Gilead. Jack is the black sheep of the family, having become an alcoholic and left his black wife and child behind, but is still very much his father's favourite. Glory also has her own demons and the book is the story of their return home to look after their dying father, as they struggle with his faith and his expections of them. Like Gilead its written with subtilty and beauty, and Robinson writes about the tensions between Jack, Glory and their father with compelling insight. Its an unbelievably sad and poignant book, but far from depressing! I can't recommend Home highly enough; without doubt one of the must read books of this year - easily available now in every bookshop in the land following its scooping the recent Orange Prize for fiction!!