Acton Institute Powerblog

Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King

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Saul Bellow died last week at the age of 89. He wrote the novel that was most influential and deeply important in my life, Henderson the Rain King. In this book, Bellow engages the hollow atheism at the heart of the modern secular world. Beginning as a larger-than-life American millionaire in a society bereft of meaning, Eugene Henderson embarks on a spiritual journey to find purpose in his life. After many misadventures, Henderson finally arrives at a point where he “awaits the day of His coming,” and realizes that “there is nothing that runs unmingled” with the love of Creation.

This book is representative of Saul Bellow’s broader perspective: “I think a person finally emerges from all this nonsense when he becomes aware that his life has a much larger meaning he has been ignoring – a transcendent meaning. And that this life is, at its most serious, some kind of religious enterprise, not one that has to do with the hurly-burly of existence.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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