In Gilead, granted that Reverend John Ames III cares deeply about his wife, his son, and his godson, does he care as well for God, salvation, and the tenets of his faith (as he understands them)?
Definitely. Part of what makes this novel so compelling is that John Ames III explores with honesty his own feelings about faith alongside his love for his family, and it is interesting how at some points there is a conflict between the two. However, for a man who has spent all of his working life as a preacher, it is clear that he has a great love for God and the tenets of Christianity, in particular his Calvinistic style of theology, are very important to him. Note, for example, how in this novel, which really is a letter to his son to read when he dies, tries to instruct his son to believe in God and develop a similar relationship with him as John Ames has himself developed. In the following quote, John Ames warns his son from relying too much on "proof" that God exists:
So my advice is this--don't look for proofs. Don't bother with them at all. They are never sufficient to the question, and they're always a little impertinent, I think, because they claim for God a place within our conceptual grasp. And they will likely sound wrong to you even if you convince someone else with them.
This demonstrates the deep love that John Ames has for God and his own very real relationship with him, and how he hopes to pass on that love and relationship to his son as he grows up, without his father to guide and advise him. Throughout the novel, John Ames III strikes the reader as a man who has developed a very deep, real and loving relationship with God, and to whom Christianity is incredibly important. It is how he practically applies his faith and theology to the problem of his godson, Jack, that pushes his understanding of his theology and leaves him at a loss with his own human frailties and the inflexibility of some of his beliefs, especially where Calvinism is concerned.