Marilynne Robinson, God and Calvin

I loved Gilead purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, the novel by Marilynne Robinson. Robinson wrote her first novel, Housekeeping
purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, in 1980. It became a huge hit and was made into a film by Bill Forsyth. Yet it was 24 years before she published a second novel, Gilead. It won the Pulitzer Prize. Four years on and her third novel, Home purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, has just won the Orange Prize. Not a bad record!

Andrew Brown of The Guardian has a very interesting post on an interview with Robinson in which she talks about how the thought of Calvin has shaped her writing. Here’s a quote:

“One of the things that has really struck me, reading Calvin,” she said then, “is what a strong sense he has that the aesthetic is the signature of the divine. If someone in some sense lives a life that we can perceive as beautiful in its own way, that is something that suggests grace, even if by a strict moral standard … they might seem to fail.”

Now this is just about the opposite of the kind of rule-bound and wholly unforgiving religion which most people associate with Calvinism, but in her mind it was linked with predestination, in a most unexpected way. Because predestination implies God’s untramelled freedom, he can choose to save those whom the world and its rules – even the church with its rules – might condemn. The prodigal in these two books, Jack Boughton, has done some very terrible things, and all through the book goes on hurting everyone who loves him. Yet it is almost impossible not to suffer with him.

Here’s the interview with Marilynne Robinson in last Saturday’s Guardian and click here for an interview  Claire Armitstead interview Marilynne Robinson about Home …

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2 thoughts on “Marilynne Robinson, God and Calvin

  1. Hi Tim

    I put a few people onto this novelist in the past week after reading an article on her in The Australian. Mind you I have not read her myself, but am intending to on the basis of her love of Calvin. My mate at the Baptist theological college here in WA is a Calvin expert and has ordered the back catalogue. Will have to borrow his copies.

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