Saul Bellow’s <i>Henderson the Rain King</i>
Acton Institute Powerblog

Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King

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 director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.