by George Eliot
Silas Marner Religion Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
The inhabitants of Raveloe were not severely regular in their church-going, and perhaps there was hardly a person in the parish who would not have held that to go to church every Sunday in the calendar would have shown a greedy desire to stand well with Heaven, and get an undue advantage over their neighbours—a wish to be better than the 'common run,' that would have implied a reflection on those who had had godfathers and godmothers as well as themselves, and had an equal right to the burying-service. (1.10.16)
The villagers of Raveloe don't have to work at religion. There's no fasting or penitence involved, and there doesn't seem to be much prayer, either. Their religion is communal: rather than designed to put an individual right with God, it keeps the community together, more like a social club than a religion. Anglican churches have traditionally focused on the communal aspects of religion—even today, all the different countries that have Anglican churches are said to be part of the "Anglican communion."
Dolly's exposition of her simple Raveloe theology fell rather unmeaningly on Silas's ears, for there was no word in it that could rouse a memory of what he had known as religion, and his comprehension was quite baffled by the plural pronoun, which was no heresy of Dolly's, but only her way of avoiding a presumptuous familiarity. (1.10.40)
Dolly's religion is so communal that she even refers to God as "they." She can't think of religion as something between just herself and God, and luckily there are no English teachers around to correct her.
Those green boughs, the hymn and anthem never heard but at Christmas—even the Athanasian Creed, which was discriminated from the others only as being longer and of exceptional virtue, since it was only read on rare occasions—brought a vague exulting sense, for which the grown men could as little have found words as the children, that something great and mysterious had been done for them in heaven above, and in earth below, which they were appropriating by their presence. (1.10.56)
Only at Christmas, and probably other major church holidays, do the Raveloe villagers actually seem to feel something like belief—and only then because the celebrations are special. Otherwise, religion is ordinary and everyday, something done because everyone else does it. (Again, like brushing your teeth or saying "bless you" when someone sneezes.)