There are two geniuses writing novels in the English language these days (No. Not J. K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, sorry Hunger Games fans): Cormac McCarthy and Marilynne Robinson. Cormac McCarthy writes like an Old Testament prophet; Marilynne Robinson like a New Testament novelist.
I’m currently reading (at the encouragement of my niece, Alison) Ms. Robinson’s book “Home.” In the passage I will quote, one of the characters in the novel, Jack—a ne’er do well modern day prodigal son—has come home to the delight of his Christlike father who has been waiting expectantly for 20 years for him to come home. Did I mention Jack came home with a hangover after being delayed a couple of weeks due to a drunken binge? They sit down to lunch and we pick up his father in mid-prayer:
“But when I think what it is that brings us to our Father, it might be grief or sickness—trouble of some sort. Weariness. And then there we are, and it’s a good thing at such times to know we have a Father, whose joy it is to welcome us home. It really is. Still, humanly speaking, there is that trouble, that sorrow, and a Father has to be aware of it. He can’t help it. So there is a sadness even in great blessing, which can be a hard thing to understand.”
And that, folks, is why Marilynne Robinson is a genius.