Contact
Streaming
Map
 
Enriching lives

Gilead Verdict

Home » News » Gilead Verdict

Most of the books we read and discuss are non-fiction of varying kinds, but "Gilead" By Marilynne Robinson is a novel. This proved a turn-off for two of our members, but the rest of us enjoyed it and found a lot to reflect on within it.
It is in the form of a long letter, with no chapters — only pauses (and this too was a deterrent for some), written by an aging and dying father, the Rev. John Ames, to the son of his old age. It is not morbid, however, and is full of quiet and dry humour. John is a minister in a small town in Iowa. His letter tells how he lost his first wife and child and was supported in the ensuing loneliness by his friend Boughton, a Presbyterian minister in the same town. While remaining the best of friends they enjoy deep theological arguments as Boughton is a Calvinist and believes in the salvation of the elect. In spite of this unforgiving doctrine, Boughton is a loving minister, friend and family man. Ames' reflections on theology and life gave us plenty of opportunity for theological discussion ourselves.
John is a pacifist son of a pacifist father, another minister, who disagreed with his own father (also a Rev. Ames) who fought with a gun in Kansas, in the American Civil War. The book gave new insights to us about the tensions after this war, when so many of the young men, encouraged by their minister to take up arms, were killed and he then told them from the pulpit that it was all for nothing. The book showed how the long shadow of the Civil War affected, and we thought still affects, American society. The point was made that the society John Ames portrayed was greatly polarised and this spoke to the state of our own society.
Some of us noticed a lot of description of the effects of light and the beauties of nature that John Ames was hoping to pass on to his son.
If the book has a theme, it is about the wonderful gift Boughton gave to John, which he was unable to fully accept until the end of the story, but I shall not give a spoiler.
For most of us it was a very gentle, easy book, but one which was thought-provoking and interesting. 'Gilead' is the first of a trilogy. In the second book, called 'Lila' (which we have already read), we learn more about John Ames' wife of that name, and in the third book 'Home', there is more about Boughton's children, Jack and Gloria. Together they make up a rich tapestry of stories.

popular recent storiesAlso in the news

Pope Francis 2
Peter Green: Mon 22 Jul 5:00am

This Saturday, July 27th at 2pm, the Good Faith Book Club will be discussing their current book choice. It is Laudato Si: On care for our common home by Pope Francis. What will we make of his review of the present ecological crisis, its symptoms and causes? The book was said to represent a watershed in the church's engagement with such urgent challenges as climate change, environmental...

AMC Coach trips
Posted: Fri 19 Jul 5:00am

Here are three opportunities for coach trips and concerts:Motown The Musical — we have several spare tickets for this wonderful show on Wednesday 31st July in Milton Keynes. Tickets are £19.50 for the matinee performance. You can take advantage of free transport via the Exchange bus or make your own way to MK. Please contact Dawn Wright for information and tickets. Tel. 580221.I...

AMC Daun flags
Vivienne Kemp: Thu 18 Jul 5:00am

We look forward to welcoming our German Exchange partners at the end of July. On their final evening here, Saturday 3rd August, we will be holding a Farewell Dinner at 6pm, followed by a Concert at about 7pm. We warmly invite you to join us for these as they are usually very good fun. No need to let us know if you just want to come to the Concert, but if you would like to join us for the...