“This whole town looks like whatever hope becomes after it has begun to weary a little, then weary a little more. But hope deferred is still hope.”
Robinson’s story is brilliantly told in the second person in same vein as Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” or Coates’ “Between the World and Me.” Of course the tone is much different. Where Baldwin’s narrator burns with righteous fury, Robinson’s John Ames grows restless in his placid life. And where Baldwin foresees “the fire next time,” Ames insists that there is hope, even in a sleepy Iowa town worth leaving behind.
My ministerial career has been markedly different than Ames’ as has my life been different. Geography, family history, type of church – all different, and yet I, a 47-year-old father in a biracial family, find it very easy to relate to him, a septuagenarian with a wife half his age. I can even imagine myself being him. This is, for me, Robinson’s genius.
All Christians should read this story. There are no propositions in it. There’s no “theological stance.” Don’t expect a tour de force of evangelism or craftily woven statement of doctrine. It’s story. And yet, Christians will find God in this book pages as sure as they find themselves in its pages.