Predestination: Background information when reading Home

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Home

A Novel

by Marilynne Robinson

Home by Marilynne Robinson X
Home by Marilynne Robinson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2009, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading
Buy This Book

About this Book

Predestination

This article relates to Home

Print Review

One of the crucial scenes in Home, a scene so important that it repeats and vastly expands on a scene from Gilead, occurs when John Ames and his wife Lila visit the Boughtons for dinner, and Jack discomfits them all by pressing Reverend Ames for his views on the doctrine of predestination. "Do you think some people are intentionally and irretrievably consigned to perdition?" he asks. He continues, "I've wondered from time to time if I might not be an instance of predestination. A sort of proof. If I may not experience predestination in my own person. That would be interesting, if the consequences were not so painful."

Reverend Ames, a Congregationalist, and Reverend Boughton, a Presbyterian, are both Calvinists, like Marilynne Robinson herself. Predestination, a principle tenet of Calvinism, refers to the belief that humankind is born into a state of original sin. Each person's decision to choose God is preceded by God's mercy and invitation to salvation; it is only by the sovereign grace of God that we are able to recognize our fallen state and repent. Only some people are saved while others are condemned, but no one can know the state of another's soul. The Presbyterian Church* stresses that the doctrine of predestination be used to free believers from the compulsion to judge others.

Marilynne Robinson's interpretation of Calvinist doctrine turns the question of morality into an aesthetic one. As she explains in an interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air.

"If you think, why did God create the world, how does he love the world, what in the world, if you imagine him through the lens of Christ, what in the world breaks his heart, it seems to me it's the irreducible beauty and pathos of human beings and their capacity for love and their capacity for loyalty and all the rest that is simply beautiful, even though in many forms it is in error, it is possibly destructive, and so on….As Hamlet said, who would 'scape whipping? If we were judged on moral terms, we wouldn't perhaps be worth attracting the notice of God in the way that theology assumes that we do. That it's the beauty of us and not the goodness of us, finally."

*Presbyterianism, a form of Calvinism, is a family of Christian denominations within the Reformed branch of Protestant Western Christianity that includes Lutherans and Anglicans. The Protestant movement evolved in the 16th century, rejecting papal authority and many elements of the Roman Catholic doctrine such as the selling of pardons. Typically, Protestant churches believe that scripture is the only source of revealed truth and that salvation is the result of God's grace alone. Wikipedia has a helpful graph illustrating the main branches of Protestant Western Christianity. As you will see from this, Presbyterianism is an offshoot of Calvinism, but today there is a wide range of theological views within Presbyterianism so that one could count oneself Presbyterian without having to follow the tenets of Calvin.

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Amy Reading

This "beyond the book article" relates to Home. It originally ran in September 2008 and has been updated for the September 2009 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: My Heart Underwater
    My Heart Underwater
    by Laurel Fantauzzo
    Corazon — Cory — Tagubio is a Filipina-American teenager living with her family in ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Sun
    Black Sun
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Reading the first book in a series is always difficult because readers know that, by definition, it ...
  • Book Jacket: Somewhere in the Unknown World
    Somewhere in the Unknown World
    by Kao Kalia Yang
    Resettled refugees are mostly invisible. Their needs are rarely publicized and their struggles are ...
  • Book Jacket: The Orchard
    The Orchard
    by David Hopen
    The protagonist of David Hopen's first novel, The Orchard, is 17-year-old Aryeh Eden, a Brooklyn boy...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Smallest Lights in the Universe
    by Sara Seager

    A luminous memoir by an MIT astrophysicist who must reinvent herself in the wake of tragedy.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.