Right reason and religion
Posted by Helen on January 21, 1998 at 15:58:32:
In response to D.W. Harding, Austen and religion, written by Erin on January 18, 1998 at 15:04:15
] ... because one of the trends of the Enlightenment was the move towards secularity in thought, and MP is concerned fundamentally with religion, which complicates matters somewhat.
] Yes, I'm trying hard to put these two together! I have been trying to find out more about the church's concept of Enlightenment in Religion, without success. Certainly there was balance there, and one of the reasons why Methodism was frowned upon was because "enthusiasm" was involved.
I actually don't think that the C18th concept of religion is a very balanced one - it is so weighted towards reason, believing that there is little truly miraculous or inexplicable about the operation of Christianity. There are many sermons, treatises, etc, which argue that things which seem wonderful in the Bible are actually capable of rational explanation (I catalogued a lot last summer, and they are all very boring ;-) ). I can't remember who it was who wrote "God said, "Let Newton be", and all was light!", but it sums up the prevailing attitude.
The other thing I would say is that it is hard to pick up on Austen's religious beliefs because she came from a background which saw them as intensely private - to use the word "soul", for instance, would be to open up for discussion a strikingly intimate subject, and overly intrusive. Her references to religion are, it seems, often coded - eg. (this is recalled from my undergraduate days, so very hazy) there is an incident, I think in S&S where a character is described as reflecting in her closet: this can be interpreted as her actually undergoing her daily spiritual meditation.
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